Christmas Spirit

I sat on the porch, starring at the snow. I hated family Christmases, everyone was so false, pretending to like each other and that we are supposed to be happy to be in the same room as each other. Mum was going to be here this year, great she'll lecture me about dressing ladylike again. She always expects me to be just like her, by wearing fashionable clothes, and acting like some kind of Barbie doll. Well, pull the string in this girl's back, and she'll tell you to go to hell!

I'd much rather spend the time doing something worthwhile, like visiting the homeless shelter. But, no I got to spend it listening to Mum lecture and sing Gary's praises. Oh, and Gary going on about whatever crap he is planning now.

I heard footsteps coming towards me, I didn't have to look at them to know who it was. I sighed, I would have to put up with him all day.

"Is that mistletoe?" I heard Gary ask.

"Kiss me, and I'll break your jaw," I said, looking up at the mistletoe pinned to the porch roof.

He scoffed. "As if I'd kiss you. I'd rather make out with flee ridden dogs," he snapped. He was holding a Christmas present.

"Feeling's mutual," I snapped, as I stood up.

"Mum got you this, she expected me to lie and say it was from me," he said, practically dropping the present on me.

"Great!" I said sarcastically, as I stood up.

I open the door, walking into the hallway. There was bags of clothes at the bottom of the stairs, I was going to take them to the shelter. The answerphone light was flashing.

"Moving out? Gee, what a shame," Gary said, falsely.

"No, Dumbass! They are for people who need them," I snapped.

I had blown all my money on buying clothes from Worn In, just so the homeless people could have something new for a change. It didn't bother me, they deserved it more than I did.

I pressed the button on the machine. "It's Mum! Sorry Cody, I can't make it back. I know how much you were looking forward to us spending Christmas together. I hope you and Gary have fun. Bye!" I was actually surprised, I thought she would actually keep her promise for once.

I walked into the living room, Gary was sat on the couch watching TV. I grabbed the remote and switched it off.

"Oi, I was watching that!" he yelled, glaring at me.

"Well bubble burst! We're going out," I yelled, as I threw the remote onto the armchair.

I put my coat on and my scarf, before collecting the bags of clothes. I made Gary carry most of them to the car.

"What the hell are these for?" he demanded, as he dropped them in the boot.

"A little Christmas cheer, for the less fortunate," I informed him as I dropped the last bag in the boot. I closed it and got in the car.

"As if there's such a thing," Gary replied, finishing with a scoff.

"Christmas is more than just presents, you know," I said, realising I hadn't opened the one he had given me.

"Of course it is," he said, sarcastically.

"You'll learn," I informed him.

We argued about it the whole way to the homeless shelter in New Coventry. I pulled up outside, locking up the car doors as I got out. Again, I made Gary carry most of the bags. There were the same old faces sitting at the tables, Handy the drunken hobo, Rudy the guy that thinks he's Santa, and Mr Grant the guy that lives on the school campus.

"Cody! Merry Christmas!" Handy yelled at me, raising his bottle of whiskey.

"Merry Christmas!" I replied, smiling at him.

I placed the bag I was holding on a table, Gary placed the other three next to them. He glanced around the room, with a look of complete disgust. I ignored him, while I handed out the new clothes and boots. I had been coming here every year since I was twelve, so I knew what size shoes or clothes everyone took.

"Thanks, Kid!" Handy said, as I gave him some new clothes to wear.

"You're welcome," I replied, smiling. I couldn't be mean to them, because they were like family to me. It may be weird, but they were there when my mother wasn't. I could come to the shelter, and they would be welcoming.

"You got to let me get you something," Handy replied, looking at the clothes like they were made of gold or something.

"How about, you tell my... friend... the story you told me last Christmas," I replied. The word 'friend' caught in my throat.

Gary reluctantly listened to the hobo's story, while I started cooking dinner in the kitchens. I wasn't a amazing cook, but as long as it wasn't burnt to a crisp, it didn't matter. Instead of the usual stew, I retrieved another bag from my carboot. I had brought some food along, just because they didn't have a home, didn't mean they couldn't enjoy a good meal.

I put the chicken in the oven, then started to peel potatoes. I could see into the dining hall, Handy was telling Gary about when he found 20 bucks in his sleeping bag. It made me smile, because I never thought in a million years that I would bring Gary here. Gary came into the kitchen, and looked at me for a few seconds.

"Is there any soda in this dump or what?" he said, trying to act like the heart warming story hadn't touched him.

"Na, there's water. why?" I asked, as I put a freshly peeled potato in the sink.

"I need to take my meds," he said, removing the pill bottle from his pocket.

I picked up a cup and held it under the tap, then passed him the cup. He took his meds, while I checked on the chicken.

"You're different around these people," he informed me.

"Really? I hadn't noticed," I said sarcastically, while rolling my eyes. I handed him a knife. "Make yourself useful, peel the potatoes."

He walked towards the sink, and started peeling a potato. I put a pot on the stove, after filling it with water.

"What I meant was, you seem to actually care for once," Gary told me.

"Because, I do care. They have nothing, but they don't let it bring them down. I have everything, and can't wait to get away from it," I said, as I turned on the stove. "Take Handy for example, all he has is the clothes on his back and a sleeping bag. Every night he sleeps in the broken down half demolished houses near the petrol station, and he doesn't complain. Granted, that he drinks a lot and does whatever drugs he can get. Rudy, every Christmas, he tries to earn money acting as Santa, and if he can't get enough, he lives in one of the abandoned motel rooms. He begs each day to earn enough money to leave town and travel to a hostel away from Bullworth. Mr Grant, he sleeps on a dirty old mattress, on the abandoned lot in the school. His mind is gone, and he believes that he was abducted by aliens."

"Yeah, so what," Gary said, shrugging.

"My point is, that the three of them come here, and still manage to have a good Christmas, regardless of the fact that they have no money," I informed him, as I chopped the asparagus.

"Why would that make you care?" he asked.

"Stop playing dumb," I snapped. "You know exactly what I'm talking about."

Once I had finished preparing everything, and left it to cook, I returned to the dining hall. Rudy and Mr Grant were singing - I didn't recognise the song they were singing, both of them had changed into their new clothes. Handy came out of the bathroom wearing his new clothes.

"Merry Christmas to.... YOOOU!" Rudy and Mr Grant sang.

"How do I look?" Handy asked, holding his arms out. He was wearing a black wool sweater with a new brown jacket, brown pants and a pair of brown army boots. He was still wearing his Santa hat.

"Better than all of those rich morons put together," Gary said, as he walked into the room. It completely surprised me, that he was capable of complimenting someone.

I smiled at him, looking him in the eyes. That's when I realised why I didn't get a adrenaline rush every time I looked him in the eyes, because all the malice and complete hatred for everything was gone. All he had left was a thirst for revenge. He had been like this since he was expelled.

"Who's the best Santa in Bullworth?" Rudy asked, drunkenly.

"You. The guy they hired is a creep," Gary said, sitting down at the table.

"He thinks he's so great, with his fancy set, and store bought costume..." Rudy said, ranting away. He continued to rant on about 'the good old days'.

I turned to Mr Grant and Handy, they were playing cards. It appeared that Mr Grant was winning, he always was good with a deck of cards.

"Are you going to visit your friends this year?" I asked Mr Grant, talking about his supposed alien abduction last year.

"No, one visit was enough. They won't answer my call! I work hard on that radio, and nothing!" Mr Grant replied, taking another card from the pack.

"Well, their loss. As soon as they do answer, you should tell them so," I said. I thought about my mother, she never did have time for me either. That's probably why I act the way I do, for attention.

"I will!" Mr Grant informed me, as he placed a winning hand on the table.

I watched Mr Grant and Handy play, while talking to them both. They did seem a little bit self absorbed, but I couldn't hold that against them. All they really had was themselves, so of course they would want to talk about themselves. Even Gary seemed to be having a good time, playing chess with Rudy - Gary must have beat him five times in a row. I had to admit, Gary was good at all that plotting. It was like he was three steps a head of every move Rudy made.

"Checkmate!" Gary said, smirking as he made his final move.

"You know kid, you're alright. I could have used someone like you in the army," Mr Grant said, looking over at the chest board.

I smiled, and left to check on the food. I was glad I brought him here today, he was starting to understand what I was talking about earlier. He probably won't admit it, but I could tell he did. I didn't realise that Gary had followed me, until he cleared his throat.

"Isn't this a better Christmas than last year?" I asked, not looking at him as I started to make the gravy.

"Anything is better than last year. I spent the whole day in my dorm, eating only a bar of chocolate and drinking a can of beam cola, plotting more ways to use that puppet to take over the school," he replied, folding his arms across his chest.

"And, told me that you were visiting your dad," I reminded him, glancing over my shoulder.

"Back then, spending my time with a bunch of hobos was the last thing on earth that I wanted to do," he replied, looking at the floor.

"And, now?" I enquired, as I collected the plates out of the cupboard.

"It's better than staying at home," he replied, shrugging.

I smiled, because in his own way, he had just admitted that he was enjoying himself. I placed the the plates on the counter.

"I'll serve the food, you take it into the dining hall," I told him, as I took the chicken out of the oven.

"I could, but..." he said, scratching his chin.

"No buts, Asshole, you're doing it," I snapped.

We argued as I served the food, it was so good to argue with him. Arguing was good, arguing was what we did best. Once everyone was sat down at the table and eating, I realised that this was the best Christmas I had ever had. Gary talked about last year, all the things he did to take over the school, everyone listened to him. I already knew, but I still listened. The more he talked, the more he smiled. I started to see the qualities in him that I used to like, the excitement, the hatred, complete malice. My heart was beating faster, I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins.

I was glad that I had finished, it gave me a excuse to go to the counter and get away from the table. I nearly jumped when I turned around, Gary had followed me, so he could put his plate and everyone else's plates on the counter to.

"Mistletoe!" Rudy exclaimed, holding his whiskey bottle in the air.

Both Gary and I looked up, and saw mistletoe hanging above our heads. Typical, just my fricking luck.

"Why don't you give her a Christmas kiss?" Rudy said drunkenly, downing half the bottle.

Gary looked at me. "I know, "Kiss me, and I'll break your jaw"," he quoted, turning away from me.

I don't know what happened, but I grabbed his shirt and pulled him towards me, passionately kissing him on the lips. He was stunned by shock, looking at me like I was a complete freak, as I pulled away.

"Don't get any mixed messages! It was just a Christmas kiss!" I snapped, grabbing the pile of plates and carrying them into the kitchen.

"Hey, what ever rocks your boat. You like me, I see that now," he mocked, following me.

"I don't like you, I despise you!" I retorted, glaring at him.

"Of course you do," he replied, winking.

"You are such a loser!" I yelled, as I put the plates in the sink.

"And, what part of my 'loserness' rocks your world?" he enquired, air quoting 'loserness'.

"Go to hell!" I shouted, throwing a sponge at him.

He continued to mock and make snipey comments at me, while I scrubbed the dishes. Of course, I responded with insults and telling him that I despised him. But, I realised today that I did sort of not 100% despise him.

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