Author's Note: This is a (very late) Christmas fic, but it's not really focused on the fact that it's Christmas.
Anyway, this is the latest shenanigan that came out of my distressed brain, but still, I hope you enjoy it.
Happy soon to be New Year, kids. :D
Disclaimer: Any product or book titles you recognize is not mine. Jeebus, isn't that obvious already?

Read on!


"No, I will not look at the bras with you!"

Grier Mulligan closed her eyes, hoping that no one heard. Saying a sentence like that is weird enough, but to yell a sentence like that in a mallis double the embarrassment.

"Keep it down!" she cried to the dark-haired boy in front of her. Justin didn't look perturbed by the fact that everyone in the vicinity was staring at them. In fact, he looked unaffected. Then again, when a handful of girls ogle at you 24/7/365, you're bound to get used to the attention.

"Okay, okay!" Grier conceded, her green eyes blazing with annoyance. "I'll buy you one game. One game, got it? Just please don't shout those ever again, even if it's not true. For crying out loud, I won't ask you, of all people, to shop for lingerie with me."

Justin smiled triumphantly. Mission accomplished. "You are so easy, Grier."

It was still three weeks before Christmas, but the mall was already packed with excited holiday shoppers. Families wondered about, couples displayed public affection like nobody's business, and the occasional homeless guy belted out a chorus of 'Auld Lang Syne' at the top of his lungs. Grier and Justin didn't fall in any of these categories, but they were shoppers all the same. Well, at least Grier was. She only dragged Justin here because her car was being held hostage by her mom (who had caught Grier joy-riding at night one too many times), and Justin had graciously offered her a ride.

However, she now realized that bringing someone like Justin at the mall at this time of year was a big mistake. At almost eighteen, he still played on his Xbox like a fiend, and he was damn proud of that, thank you very much. His only problem was he got fired (yet again) at his job at the Big Scoop, the local ice cream place. So, goodbye to cash for video games, hello to blackmailing Grier.

"Please tell me you're going to have another job soon," Grier moaned as they walked towards the electronics store.

"Nope," Justin replied curtly. "Sorry, Grier. Until I find another gig, you are my love slave."

Grier scowled. "Shut up." As Justin turned his head towards a display of snowboards, Grier bit her lip. She hated it when Justin made tiny flirtatious statements when he's talking to her. But she hated it even more when he directed those statements to other girls, which encouraged them to follow him like lovesick puppies even more. Almost every female in school (even a few boys) had 'Mrs. Justin Sokoloff' blatantly written in their binders, but Justin doesn't appear to mind at all. He even thinks it's amusing.

"Am I that desirable?" he once asked her.

"In your dreams," Grier said, earning her a dirty look from one of Justin's fans, who had heard.

Yup, being the It Boy's best friend had its ups and definitely its downs.

-x-

When Grier opened her locker that Monday afternoon, she immediately saw the pink envelope wedged between her World History textbook and a copy of The Scarlet Letter. Sighing, she vehemently picked it up without as much as a glance and stuffed it into her backpack.

Stupid fan girls, she thought as she walked towards her first subject of the day. How many swear words would it take for them to stop treating me like I'm Justin's messenger girl?

"Crappy day already?" Justin said, eyeing her frown. He had marched into the room in typical Justin-style; almost a minute late and his chocolate-coloured hair fresh out of the shower. Ignoring the seat next to Cass Thurman, which she saves for him every class, he took the empty chair beside Grier.

"Thanks to you," she replied, glaring.

Justin cocked a curious eyebrow. "What did I do? I just got here."

Grier tossed the pink envelope to him. "Here. Special delivery from your groupies." She cracked open her Pre-Calculus workbook and worked on her unfinished assignment, thanking her lucky stars that Mr. Solomon wasn't exactly the poster child (adult? teacher?) for punctuality.

"Dude, this isn't for me."

Grier tore her eyes away from the sine and cosine laws. "What are you talking about? I told you before, those girls use my locker as a drop-off point for love letters addressed to you. I told you to tell them to stop doing that, but you didn't, so—"

She stopped talking when Justin held out the envelope in front of Grier's face. On it was handwritten, 'Grier Mulligan', not something along the lines of 'For You, My Sex God' which was what Grier had seen in a few letters to Justin. Grier had a feeling Cass Thurman was the mastermind behind it.

Gingerly, she took the envelope from Justin's grasp. There was something hard inside, she felt. Like a card or something. Before she can tear open the flap, Mr. Solomon chose this moment to waltz in, looking more distressed and frazzled as usual.

"Okay!" he said, clapping his hands and casting a look to the whole class. "Submit your workbook. Remember, this count as a major assignment!"

Grier stared at the questions she didn't manage to do, and groaned.

Another day, another failing mark.

-x-

Hello.

First of all, this will be my only letter to you. I don't see the point of sending a bazillion letters and rambling on and on inanely about how you're so amazing (which you are) and how your hair sparkles like a diamond in some rapper's bling (funny, it really does). Nope, this is my first and last letter to you, and that's enough for me.

Grier Mulligan, smart as you are, you are probably the most naïve and daft girl I have ever met.

That is all.

PS

We should NOT attend the Winter Hop together.

-x-

"You're late."

The initial trepidation she had felt hours before turned into full-fledged fear as Grier heard those words come out of her mother's mouth.

Mrs. Mulligan was standing on the final step of the stairs, one hand on the banister, the other in her hip. She looked at her daughter with piercing eyes—the same shade as her own— and was about to speak again when Grier beat her to the punch.

"Look, Mom, I… well, it was Justin's fault… um…"

Figures it was only to her mom that Grier had the urge to stutter. But she was telling the truth; it was Justin's fault. If he had picked her up like she told him to, she wouldn't have to take the bus, go on an impromptu road trip because she took the wrong one, and face her mother's wrath right now.

"So, I guess this means I won't be getting my car back sooner, huh?" Grier said half-jokingly, scratching her head.

A tiny smile cracked on her mother's face. "I think you know the answer to that question."

Grier sighed dejectedly and tossed her backpack on the nearby couch. "Right. I'll just get ready, shall I?" Mrs. Mulligan merely nodded a she step to the side to let Grier through the stairs. She bounded quickly to her room and shut the door, angry at herself for not standing up to her mom as always and furious at Justin for causing all of this.

Ignoring the tapping in her head, she slumped on her bed face-first and counted to a hundred to calm her down. But the tapping didn't subside. It's even louder now.

"Jeez, Grier, open up!"

Justin was at her window and tapping the glass, a crooked grin on his face. Grier stepped towards him, opened the window, and promptly pinched Justin's left cheek. Hard.

"Ow!" he yelped, and his balance flailed a bit, given that he was perched a little unsteadily on the tree branch. "Jesus, Grier. What the hell was that for?!"

"For being an idiot."

"Hey, we all know I'm an idiot," he said, making a little jump and was now standing inside Grier's room. "No need to rub it in."

Grier rephrased her words. "I meant for being an idiot more than usual. You didn't wait for me this afternoon!"

Eyes widening, Justin looked at his watch, a habit Grier recognized Justin did when the boy was nervous. It was given to him by his mom, and Justin wore it everyday ever since, especially after Mrs. Sokoloff passed away over six years ago.

"Shit," he said. "That was today? I thought that was tomorrow!"

"Well, seeing that tomorrow is a Saturday, you don't have to drive me home from school, Justin," Grier replied, her voice carrying on a tone when she's handling a four-year-old. "So I had to arrive later than usual for your father's dinner invitation tonight, and Mom is pissed she's having more of an iron grip on my car. Good, eh?"

With her sarcasm, Justin's gaze fell on everything in Grier's room, except to Grier herself. He said the only word he can say to her at the moment.

"Sorry."

The corner of Grier's lip curled. "You were out on a date, weren't you."

Justin hated it that it wasn't meant to be a question. Mostly because Grier was right, as always.

Grier sighed and sat on her bed, her back facing his. Justin wondered if he should leave now and piss Grier even more, or wait for the explosion and face her wrath anyway.

"First that letter, now this. Can this day get even more frustrating?"

"What letter?" he said, hoping to sidetrack Grier with other things until her anger with him cools down. If there was anything Justin liked about Grier, it was the fact that she calms down just as fast as she explodes. Slowly, he made his way towards her position on the bed.

"That thing I got this morning." She said thing like it was something dirty and nasty. "Some jerk pulled a Justin Fan Girl on me, except this one didn't amuse me one bit. Even if it was written on a card that says 'Congratulations on the birth of your son!'"

At least she doesn't sound so miffed anymore. "Any idea who sent it to you?"

Grier shrugged. "You know me. I don't really care about that kind of stuff right now. Especially after…"

Justin finished it for her. "The Simon Incident?" He placed a hand on her shoulder and to his relief, she didn't brush it away. But he did notice the flash of anger in Grier's face at the mention of her ex-boyfriend.

She stood up abruptly, startling Justin. "Oh, I know what you're up to, Sokoloff," she said. "Stop distracting me! I still haven't forgiven you."

He chuckled, busted. "Okay, okay. I thought I was going to get away with it this time." Grier tossed a nearby pillow at him.

"Scumbag."

"Come on," he coaxed. "I swear I didn't mean to stand you up. Look, I'll even erect a tiki bar in your honour just to show how sincere I am. How's that?"

"What the hell do I need a tiki bar for?" Grier demanded, but she was already grinning.

"So you can have somewhere to throw a party at, dumbass."

"That's what your house is for," she countered. "Yeah, how about that? You have a bash on the night of the Winter Hop. That'll surely piss your fans. I mean, didn't they ask you to be their date, like, two months ago?"

Justin thought it over. "It does sound fun," he admitted, "and evil. But I promised Sierra I'd take her."

"Sierra?" Grier's nose scrunched up. "As in Sierra 'I-Sleep-With-You-On-The-First-Date' DiMarco? You're taking her? Don't tell me she's the one you were with today because that girl is just…" She shuddered.

"She's not so bad."

"That's Guy Lingo for 'she's a bimbo, but still smokin' hot."

"You should control that jealousy." Justin ruffled her hair. "I know you're green-eyed and all, but this is just ridiculous."

Grier shook his hand away from her head and bit her lower lip. "In your dreams."

"You already said that," he pointed out. He marched towards the window where he entered and quietly opened it. Living next door to Mrs. Mulligan almost all his life thought him that the woman had more sensitive ears than a police dog. Justin knew she wouldn't be so thrilled to see a boy in Grier's room, even if it was him. "I'll think about that party suggestion, okay?"

"And I with that tiki bar of yours. Very tempting proposition, that one."

Still chuckling to himself, Justin snuck out.

-x-

Grier forgot all about the card in the next week. Having chucking it to the back of her closet, she tried to focus on her ever-looming Pre-Calculus homework. Mr. Solomon had promised them torture over the holidays, and Grier felt doomed than ever. She wondered if she would ever shave her head out of frustration over a failing mark.

She also figured that whoever sent that card was just playing with her, since he (at least Grier thought he was a boy) did keep his word and never contacted her again. Grier even thought that maybe Cass Thurman was the perp, seeing that Cass hated every girl that was within a mile of Justin's radius, and pulling a prank on your crush's female friend was just a Fan Girl thing to do.

Justin came through with the party after all, which he told her excitedly that last day of classes before the winter break, which was the day of the Winter Hop as well. He rambled on about kegs, a possible junk food shortage, and hiring speakers from some guy named Ashley.

"Calm down!" she told him, placing a hand on his shoulder. Cass Thurman, who was passing by, saw this and gave Grier the obligatory scowl she always reserved for her, which Grier ignored.

"I can't calm down," he cried, a trickle of sweat dripping on his brow. "There are a ton of things that could go wrong at the party. My dad, for instance, could go home early from his business trip and see the house thrashed—"

"Wait, your dad's away for Christmas?" she interjected.

Justin blinked. "Yeah. It's not big a deal."

"That's stupid! I mean, it's just the two of you for the holidays and he's still going on his trips?" She closed her locker with a loud bang and began to walk.

"It's no big deal," he repeated, catching up to her. "He says he's sorry and whatnot, and that's good enough for me." Grier kept on walking until they reached Justin's BMW, her only means of transportation as of this day. Justin unlocked the doors and Grier rushed inside. She didn't talk again until Justin was on the road on their way home.

"Justin," she began, "I know you won't stop your dad because the party won't happen with him there, but don't you think this is just too far? Leaving you alone for the holidays?"

Justin's jaw clenched as he made a turn. "I'm fine with it."

"You're not," she said firmly. "I know your dad hasn't been the same since," Grier swallowed, "your mom died, but what's he doing is wrong. You'll be alone on Christmas day just because he's working."

Justin pulled into the Sokoloffs' driveway, which Grier realized that they reached already. He closed the garage door, enclosing them in darkness. There was no light, except for the controls in front of Justin, giving his face an eerie, red glow.

"Justin?" Grier pried with the car door and was surprised she couldn't open it. "I'm getting out." She heard him sigh heavily, and suddenly she felt a hand grip hers.

"You're right," he said, turning to face her, his eyes fixated on her green ones. "I'm not fine. But not for long." Then he kissed her.

Grier gasped, but it didn't stop Justin for his mouth to abandon hers. Instead, he deepened it even more, and even wrapped one of his arms around her neck, while the other hand was still holding Grier's trembling one.

She had kissed Simon a lot of times before, but they all paled in comparison to this. Justin's kiss was gentle and curious, and his touch made her spine tingle. He didn't try to grope under her shirt like Simon did once at their date. If Justin did that, she would punch him, amazing kiss or no amazing kiss. She was baffled before why those girls can't get enough of Justin, and now she knew it wasn't about his flair for video games. This was why.

As quick as it had happened, Justin stopped. He looked at her apologetically, sensing that he was about to get an earful for doing what he just did. Grier, however, looked incapable of speech. He stole a glance at his watch, and then back on Grier again.

"Well?" he opted, tilting his head to the side and grinning wanly.

Grier made a noise, somewhere between a grunt and a whimper, and without as much as a glance to him, lifted the lock on her door and walked out of the car. Justin swore under his breath and followed her outside. Grier was standing at the closed garage door, her whole body shaking, he noticed.

"Let me out," she muttered.

"Grier—"

"Please," she said.

He never heard that word come out of Grier's mouth… until now. Without lifting his gaze away from her, he pressed a button in his car, and the garage doors lifted. With a last look, Grier blended into the darkening sky, her rapid footsteps echoing towards the house next door.

-x-

Why she was following the post script of an unknown person was beyond Grier, but she had made up her mind. Ignoring her lab partner Christina's calls to go to the Winter Hop, she trudged down to her basement, a mug of hot chocolate in one hand and a stack of movies under another. After popping Dawn of the Dead on the DVD player, Grier settled on the couch and turned the volume up; she needed to block the sounds of the all-too-happy Christmas tunes her mother was playing upstairs.

"So this is what you'd rather do." Grier jumped and saw Justin stepping down and entering the basement, his arms crossed in front of him. She hadn't seen him since the kiss over an hour ago, and Grier still wasn't looking forward to it, either. After her not so classy escape, she had wanted to avoid him until she had turned into an old lady with a hundred cats under wing.

Strangely, seeing him here after their encounter still brought inexplicable chills to Grier, and she hated it.

Think of the cats… The hundred cats…

Justin glanced at the screen, where Sarah Polley's boyfriend is getting mauled to death by a little zombie girl, and chuckled softly. "Typical Grier. When in doubt, sink yourself in gore flicks."

"What are you doing here?"

"Tap-dancing."

She frowned and lowered the volume. "Justin. Don't you have a party to host so you can stop bugging me?"

"Well," he made a step closer, "I would go back to it, and it's hopping, by the way. But the problem is my best friend isn't even there to enjoy with me." Grier didn't say anything, so he continued talking. "Before that, I just wanted to say to that friend of mine that I'm sorry. I shouldn't have done what I did today. It was definitely rude. However, she should know I'd been dying to do that for the longest time."

Grier clenched and unclenched her fists. "Your friend says you weren't rude at all. She seems to think it was rather… magical. She even liked the card you sent her."

Justin's eyebrows rose. "Wait, you knew?"

She nodded. "I'd recognize your chicken-scratch handwriting anywhere, Sokoloff. It's on the list of my Top Ten Things You Should Know about Your Idiot Best Friend."

"I thought you hated it."

Shrugging, Grier sat on the couch. "At first I did. But eventually, it came to me as sweet, even if it was from you. I was trying hard to not feel anything after… the Simon thing. I was all, 'I failed once, so why bother?' but it seems to me like I was unsuccessful, don't you think? I mean, you've been here for about ten minutes and I still haven't kicked you out."

"I'd so kick your ass if you did that."

"True. But you won't have a best friend, anymore, would you?"

"Who said anything about you being my best friend?" he demanded playfully, intertwining his hand with Grier's. "I thought you were… I dunno, my love slave?"

Grier laughed, and pressed her cheek on his chest. "In your dreams."

Fin.


Author's Note: Thanks for reading! And I'd definitely appreciate your comments/suggestions/complaints or whatever. *grins*