AUTHORS NOTE: The majority of the characters involved in this story are copyright Warner Bros. The others in this story are copyright Me. The viewpoints spread among three different beings, so to better help you tell the difference, Danny's words are in bold, Sawyer's words are in Italics, and Jake's words are in regular.


A story by Zycho32


Am I enjoying myself?

I'm at a party in Sawyer's house on Christmas Eve. I am chatting up as much of a storm as I can muster (The ironic thing is despite my penchant for silence, I like to hear myself talk) with just about anyone here, I'm taking part in most of the activities involved, and I haven't retreated into my own private corner to hide from the crowd.

So why do I still feel rather empty?

I mean, I'm actually having fun tonight, having a good laugh at some funny episodes that have happened tonight (And whatever episodes happened to me, I always managed to laugh about it a few minutes later). I like the food, I like the music, I like the atmosphere.

Makes me think of home.

Home…is that my problem?

I can see him. He hasn't tried to retreat from the party, not even for a breather. I know Sawyer retired a bit with Tillie, and I do know it's not a bad thing to step back and get a breath of fresh air before you come back. But Jake…it's like he's scared to step away from anybody.

"Danny," Pudge says to me, "what's wrong? You zoned out."

I shake my head to get back to reality. "It's just Jake. He looks like something is wrong with him."

"Wrong? He looks fit to me."

"No…it looks more emotional." I respond. He does look troubled, whenever he's not in the process of chatting up some poor soul who falls mercy to him.

"Do you suppose it's home he's troubled about?" I ask Pudge.

"I guess so…I think that's how I felt the first time around." He looks around. "I'm gonna go catch the buffet before it's gone." He says as he walks away.

Why don't I feel really down about not being with family? I feel sad, and that's the truth…but I don't feel melancholy about it. So where does the answer lie?

I look around the room and look at some of my friends. Cranston, usually very grumpy, but now almost mellow and having a time. Like Mr. Scrooge perhaps? Francis is always nearby, which makes them quite an odd couple. I ain't going to complain about that, if they are happy. TW, still thinking in a paranoid way that the tree is going to fall on him.

Then there's Woolie, playing swell tunes on the piano of his. Not always songs of Christmas, but always tunes that keep the party moving. Pudge, who is making his own banquet at the buffet. Then I think of Tillie and Sawyer, undoubtedly making small chit-chat in the kitchen just beyond the party.

It's always great to have a party with friends.

"Do you think we should go back?" Tillie asks me. Amazing how silent the kitchen seems to be when compared to the party going on in my living room. It's soothing, recalling memories and just being unbothered.

"Could we stay here for a bit longer?" I ask in return. She only shrugs and says nothing more…for a minute. Whoever says curiosity killed the cat had no idea what it did to Hippos. "Are you worried about tonight?"

She's awfully obstute. "A bit, yes."

She has a gentle smile on her face. "Don't worry. If I know Danny as well as I think I do, he's going to love this."

I think the best thing about having Tillie for a friend is the fact that she knows how to brighten the days of many beings. She's done that a lot of times for me during our friendship of two years and counting.

My eyes trail a path all the way to my coat on the coat hangar, where Danny's gift is presently hidden. I should trust Tillie's opinion, but I just don't know. It seems awfully cheap.

Cheaper than what he probably has for me.

"Miss your boater?"

I turn around, knowing the voice. It's Jake, rounding on me like a moth to a flame. It seems like I'm looking at a mask instead of his actual face.

"Yeah…I guess so." There wasn't anything really dramatic about my loss of my hat. During a windy day it blew off my head and into oncoming traffic. If it survived, it would probably look like a wreck anyway.

"Or are you more worried about your gift?" He asks me. Very clever kid, I never even told him about it. "How'd you know?"

"You've been fingering something in your pocket for the past hour. It's obviously a gift since you won't expose it out in the open. And would I venture to guess the gift is for…" He stops there, choosing to whisper the name into my ear.

I nod. "I have this feeling I'm being unusually cheap."

He looks at me funny. "You didn't attach a name tag on you with her name on it, did you?" I shake my head, and he looks relieved. "That's good, because if you did, you'd be in big trouble."

I'm skeptical. "What makes you so sure?"

"My dad pulled that on my mom when I was twelve. She didn't speak to him until Valentine's day, when he managed to make up for it." He replies. I gulp nervously. I'd better make a reminder never to do that…

"If you did it, she'd ignore you straight until next Christmas, where she would promptly slap you first before accepting your gift and apology." Even worse!!

He gets an amused look. "I take it this isn't jewelry?" He asks. I nod.

"I wouldn't worry about it…women who only accept that are commonly lifeless." He says, and why am I suddenly offended by that remark? "Sawyer isn't lifeless."

Jake looks at me, smiling. "I know. That's why she's going to enjoy your gift."

With that, he walks away from me, this time to a lonely spot away form the party. What got him to do that?

Well, at least I'm not the only one who has gifts.

Truth be told, I ain't that good at getting gifts for people. I spent the better part of two months just finding three gifts. I tried to make them good gifts…and instead I wound up with practical ones. Maybe they will enjoy them, or at least make some use out of them. But I still feel like a fool.

I see there is a new arrival. Alyssa Henderson.

Alyssa, from what I have heard, had to have suffered the worst day in the history of the Earth to have a flaming temper. Indeed, that's how she got that definition. Otherwise, she's kinda hard to really annoy. Not like Danny. You could shoot him and he'd still smile. It doesn't take nearly as much to get on her nerves. It's just that I don't like the idea of getting on her nerves.

I mean, anybody can kill in this world, and cats come with more natural weapons than humans do.

Why did I get a gift for her exactly?

I need a real breath of fresh air, so I head outside.

I'm lured outside by a tune…it's not a piano, but it sounds more like a brass instrument. Perhaps a cello or maybe even a saxophone.

Sitting on the front steps is Jake, and he's playing a trumpet of all things. He stops to notice me. "Good evening Sawyer."

"Good evening Jake." I respond in kind courtesy. "How in the world did you get such a beat up thing to sing like that?" Perhaps beat up isn't the right word to describe it…but his instrument looks old and used, and above all things, it's a trumpet, not meant to do such things.

"Customized. I learned various repair tricks from my father, and from there I was on my own to do as I wished with it. The final result is marvelous to listen to." He explains, with a definite hint of pride in his face. Most kids his age aren't this independent. They are often in high school, just learning how to drive, always depending on their parents for the meals and cleaning their rooms and all stuff like that.

"Do you always keep your stride when it comes to life?" I chance to ask him.

"It's the best way to live life." Is his response.

He looks at me for a moment…and I can see that an idea has just crossed his mind. That's when he turns to me. "Do you suppose a real show ought to be thrown for this party?"

"What do you mean?" I ask, even though I think I know exactly what he means.

"Actual singing, dancing, instrument playing…like an actual show that you buy tickets to. We have enough instruments, and good enough voices for the part." He explains.

I smile. "Sounds like a plan. We'd better go get Danny and Woolie prepared. As for Pudge, I don't think there are any drums here…"

"Just use some of your kitchen utensils." He says.

Why does that sound more reassuring than I would normally think?

We played. We played magnificently. We were a five-being band and we rocked the joint. Naturally our theme was to the tune of Christmas, but it played like it could be done any day of the year.

You had Pudge actually putting together a swell beat on the hastily-made drum set of pots, pans, and spoons.

Woolie, ever reliable, could play just about every song you could come up with and play it to perfection. Very good for someone who didn't have actual fingers to play with.

Danny and Sawyer worked perfectly as a duet. I've seen them dance, but never sing. I was so surprised I could've blown whatever part I was going to play if I was playing anything at the time, get it? It's like a tale of two cities, one from the country, the other from the city, both mixing and blending to form something great to hear.

And me?

When I got into the solos, I had the audience screaming for more. I could learn to sing and dance, and probably very well with good training, but the fact is, I could play an instrument to perfection.

It just worked out so well, that, when our little show, finally ended, we got deafening applause as a result. I was practically walking on air for quite some time afterwards!

I think I even forgot that I was feeling sad just a while ago.

You know, it's relaxing to just sit on a comfortable couch and watch the decorated tree glisten in the light of the fire with friends by your side.

It's even better to tell funny stories about how you got said tree here in the first place.

You see, we just got the tree today. By using some utter form of stupidity that neither me or Sawyer have ever accomplished, we let Jake decide how to get it. Maybe we figured he'd mellow out for today.


What followed was a two mile march in the morning with slight chill into the wilderness to locate the perfect tree. Then we had to cut it down, and then CARRY the blasted thing two miles back.

The result was both Sawyer and I were really angry at our partner, who picked the wrong time to have bricks for brains, while he went through it unscratched. We, on the other hand, were suffering from tree sap sticking into our fur and the exhaustion of carrying a tree a long distance.

At least he remembered the saw, otherwise things would have gotten really hairy, know what I mean?

Listening to Danny, I'm surprised I can actually laugh now. I probably should be imagining Jake as a scratching post. He'd have to be stuffed, of course, and where would I put him…

No. I don't think I'll think about that. I like things just the way they are now.

By now several beings have already left. I know Tillie has. She's been busy preparing for a visit from her family who's coming all that distance to visit her. So now our lively little party has turned into just a social get-together, but nobody is complaining. Seems like they are all ready to call it a night.

I'd like to as well. I need to get this thing over with while I still have confidence.

"Um, guys, I'd like to give you something." I say, perhaps a bit timidly. Both cats blink in surprise at this. "I'm not gonna be able to make it tomorrow for Christmas, because I'll be taking a trip back home, to Wisconsin. From there I'll be spending the month. If all goes well, I'll be back by February."

They give me understanding nods and smiles as I reach into my sweater, and take out 2 pairs of boots…the best part is they were fitted to fit their size and shape of feet.

"You see, I wanted to get something practical, and since it rains a LOT out here, I figured I could save you the trouble of having wet feet everywhere you go." I explain, and am I embarrassed? I am! I am blushing at this one!

Sawyer smiles sweetly. "Thank you Jake."

Danny's smile isn't so sickening. It's more a buddy kind of smile. "Yeah, thanks Jake!"

Smiling, I turn around before I notice Alyssa nearby. I approach her. "Um, I got something for you too actually. I didn't know if you bought footwear yourself so…I took the liberty." I also hand out a pair of boots.

She's pleased, very pleased. I've done good so far, very good. "Jake, look up." She says.

I look up. Mistletoe. "Oh sh-mmmmph!"

She kisses me.

A cat has just kissed me square on the lips, and it's a REAL kiss, not one of those silly girlish kisses, I'm talking about a serious kiss! And instead of fainting dead away, I only feel a bit flushed as she walks away while waving a good bye.

I wave my good byes too as I stagger out the front door. Why do I feel kinda drunk from that kiss?

Actually, It felt pretty good…

It's just me and Sawyer now in this house. I was waiting for this moment for quite some time, and now it has finally arrived. "Sawyer?"

"Yes Danny?" she asks me. Why does she look kinda nervous?

"I have a gift for you." I go into my pocket, taking out and slowly handing it to her. I hope there isn't a rejection. I get a startled gasp and shock on her features.

"Danny…" She whispered, "I thought this was all sold out."

"Three weeks ago it was. That's how long I've been holding onto it." I answer.

She smiles to me. "Thank you." It cost a bit just to get tickets to this show, but it was worth it. I can tell it has been worth it.

"Wait, Danny….I have something for you too." I say, going to my coat and digging though it. I find what I am looking for, and show it to him. Now he is shocked. "How did you find this??" He asks as he holds his own boater in his hands.

"I came across it last night. It didn't look very beat up, so I just kept it. I figured it would be yours since you mentioned losing it a few days ago." I explained.

Now he is smiling. "Thanks." So now he's actually holding me close, faces close. "Look up."

I do. "I don't see anything."

"Huh?" He looks up himself, then a bit behind him. That's when he sees the mistletoe. "Oh, I was just a few feet ahead of it."

"Is it going to be worth walking a few feet Danny?" I ask him, playfully. He only nods.

And so it was.


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