Secrets of the Chambers

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Written By: Ultra Sonic

Chapter 12- Although it’s Been Said Many Times, Many Ways…

Hang all the mistletoe, I’m gonna get to know you better, this Christmas…”

The music coming from Hayley’s sound system was pretty much the only thing that could be heard throughout the cyber café, mainly because the entire café was completely devoid of people.

Well, aside from Hayley, who was busy scrubbing the top of the counter as Gloria Estefan’s version of “This Christmas” was playing off her stereo. It was the night of the Christmas party and she wanted to make sure that, like the Thanksgiving one, the place was ready and all set. Now originally she was going to do the party on the 21st, but after thinking about it for a second she realized it would be a whole lot better if it was done on the 24th. That way there’d be some more time to prepare (even though there wasn’t much to do) and since it fell on Christmas Eve people could come by and have a good time and then once it was 10:30 PM Hayley would then close the shop so everybody could go home and enjoy the rest of Christmas Eve with their families and such.

Because of this, Hayley would only have snacks like Christmas cookies, Christmas brownies and whatnot available to eat and not a full-fledged buffet like she and Trent had done for Thanksgiving.

Once she was done cleaning the counter Hayley then snuck a peak at her watch, which said 2:45.

Hmm. I wonder what’s keeping Trent. Hayley thought. He said he’d come by 2:30 to help out with making some of the snacks.

No sooner did she think that did Hayley hear a knock coming from the door in the backroom. Knowing already who it was Hayley then walked to the back and answered the door.

“Who is it?”

“It’s me, Trent.”

Hayley then unlocked the back door and in stepped Trent carrying a large gift-wrapped package in his left arm and a Wal-Mart bag with brownie and cookie dough mix and some other things Hayley couldn’t get guess at in his other arm.

“Hi Hayley, sorry I’m late.”

“It’s okay, I just got finished cleaning up the counter a bit, so…”

Trent then walked over to a nearby chair and placed the package on the seat itself before he headed over to the table near the door and placed the Wal-Mart bag on it.

“So what did you bring?” Hayley asked.

“Oh, just some cookie dough, brownie mix, and some other things.”

“Oh, that’s great.” Hayley said as she took out the mixes and the Holiday Assortment cookies out of the bag and placed them on the counter.

“So, is that over there what I think it is…?” Hayley asked as she gestured to the gift sitting on the chair.

“Yeah, it is.” Trent replied. “Y’ know, it’s funny, I wasn’t really able to finish the whole thing until this morning.”

“What happened?”



Trent turned his gaze from his painting to the doorway where his foster father was. He had been working feverishly on his painting for the past few weeks and he was making a lot of progress, even though he was taking his time to make sure it was good. Fortunately though Trent was getting close to finishing and was just taking two minutes drinking some water before he got back to work.

“Oh, hi dad.” Trent said semi-groggily.

“Trent, I know you’re anxious to get your little project done, but it’s practically 1:30 AM. Don’t you think maybe you should get some rest before you continue any more?”

“Dad, I know, but Christmas Eve’s tomorrow, I need to get this done.”

“Duly noted, but if you don’t get any sleep, you’re not going to have enough strength to get up tomorrow, let alone anything else.” Anton said as he stepped into Trent’s room.

“So this is it, huh?” Anton asked as he gestured to the painting.

“Yep.” Trent nodded with a slightly wistful smile.

“Well, forget about the Mona Lisa.” Anton mused as he took a look at the painting. “Trent, this is really excellent work.”

“Thanks dad.” Trent said as he tried to rub the tiredness out of his eyes. “But I still have a lot to do on it though.”

“Well, I think that’s all the more reason why you should probably get some sleep now.” Anton said. “Trent, believe me, it’s one thing to lay down a lot of time towards something you want to do and to make sure it’s done right, but it’s quite another thing if you completely deprive yourself of sleep to get it done.” He then gave Trent a meaningful look. “Get some sleep. If anything you’ll probably be able to do it more quickly and more efficiently tomorrow morning.”

Trent wanted to say more, but as he then looked from his dad to the painting of Kira, he knew he was right.


“So once I finished breakfast I headed back to my room and got back to work full tilt. And I think it was around 12:45 that I actually got it done. Fortunately gift-wrapping it was the easy part.”

“Well, good for you.” Hayley said.

“So what time are we going to open up the café?” Trent asked.

“Around 3:30 or so.” Hayley replied. “We still have to wait for Tommy and the others to show up (since they’re bringing a few things for snacks).”

“Is there anything else that isn’t done yet?”

“Well, we still have some time, so I say for the moment we can get started on baking cookies and anything else that isn’t already baked.”

“All right, let’s do it.”


“Okay, I think this should do it.” Conner said as he took a double package of Holiday Oreos off a rack and added them onto his shopping basket that had a bundle of cookies/chips/snacks that he was carrying in his left arm. He and the others had hooked up just a while ago and were on their way to Hayley’s Cyberspace when Conner decided to take a detour and stop by Wal-Mart to get some snacks for the party.

“Conner, you’re not seriously gonna buy all that, are you?” Ethan asked as he looked inside the basket.

“What?” Conner asked. “C’ mon, it’s a party, we need all the bare essentials we can get.”

“Don’t you mean what you can get?” Kira supplied.

“Guys, come on, what makes you think I’m gonna eat all this?” Conner asked as he gestured to the basket he was carrying. “This is too much even for me.”

“Really? We couldn’t tell.” Ethan remarked sarcastically.

“Conner, from what we saw a few nights ago, between you and Dr. O’s old friend Rocky, you could practically raid a whole refrigerator if you were hungry enough.” Kira supplied.

“Ah-hah, very funny.” Conner said. “And I take it you guys aren’t getting anything?”

“No, I’m good.” Kira replied.

“Well, for me, I’ve got French onion dip, and Lay’s Sour cream & Onion chips, so I’m all set.” Ethan said.

“All right, let’s check this stuff out and then make like bananas and split.” Conner said as they headed for the register.

“Y’ know, speaking of Dr. O, I’m really wondering what he’s been up to these past few days.” Ethan said.

“Who knows?” Conner asked. “But with someone like Katherine around…I don’t know about you guys, but I’m willing to bet he couldn’t have been bored at all.”

“That’s true.” Ethan agreed.

Oh, brother. Kira thought.


Tommy rubbed his hands on the sides of his sweater as he walked up the stairs to Kat’s apartment. Though he and Kat had, for lack of a better word, admitted their feelings for each other last night and pretty much made out like crazy after that, he still couldn’t stop his hands from getting sweaty.

Even though yeah, the only frisky thing we did was make out. Tommy thought. It’s amazing we didn’t rip each other’s clothes off while we were at it.

Once he got to Kat’s front door he then rang the doorbell.

“Who is it?” Kat asked from the inside.

“It’s me, Tommy.”

Tommy then heard the sound of locks unlocking as the door opened, revealing Kat standing in the doorway.

“Tommy, hi.” Kat said as she opened the door some more, allowing him to come inside the apartment.

“Hi Kat.” Tommy said as they kissed.

“So, are you ready to go?”

“Oh, yeah, definitely.” Kat replied. “I just got through talking to Tanya a few minutes ago. She and Adam are coming, along with Rocky, of course.”

“That’s great.” Tommy said. “I talked to Jason earlier just before I got here, and he and Emily are on their way too.”

“All right then, let me get my purse, and then we’ll go.”

Kat then went to her room and grabbed her purse from her dresser along with a leather jacket before rejoining Tommy in the living room. She had already taken a shower and changed clothes earlier in the day, so she had spent the rest of the early day talking to Tanya and patiently waiting for Tommy to show up.

“Well, I’m all set, so…shall we?” Kat asked.

“Definitely.” Tommy replied with a smile as he and Kat headed for the door and stepped out. After Kat locked the door, she and Tommy then headed down the steps to the ground floor where the parking lot was. As they walked, Tommy then reached out his right hand and reached for Kat’s left one, encircling his fingers around hers.

As soon as Kat felt Tommy’s hand touch hers she then looked at her hand and then to Tommy, who had a gentle smile on his face as he looked at her.

Blushing slightly, Kat looked down and smiled before she looked back at him, her fingers closing around his as they walked together to his jeep.


“Trent, careful.” Hayley said as Trent then picked up the pan with the brownies and took them over to the oven which she had already opened.

“Don’t worry, I got it.” Trent replied as he placed the pan on the bottom rack as gently as he could. Once it was placed well, Trent then pushed the rack back inside the oven, closed the door and set the timer.

“Well, that’ll be a while.”

“3:15, It’s almost time.” Hayley remarked as she took a look at her watch. “Hope Conner and the others get here soon.”


“Guys, is that you?” Trent asked as he stepped in front of the back door.

“No, it’s the abominable snowman.” Ethan said. “Somehow we ran into him while we were on our way here, and he ended up eating us. Surprisingly enough, we haven’t been digested yet, but we’re still in his stomach.”

“All right, hang on, guys.” Trent chuckled as he unlocked the door. “So what’s up?” He asked once the trio came inside.

“Oh, nothing much. Just bearing gifts.” Conner said as he held up the shopping bag he was carrying with his left hand.

“You guys can put those over there.” Hayley said as she pointed to a counter table next to the stove.

“Well, it looks like we arrived just in time, judging from what I saw outside up front.” Ethan said as he and the others placed the bags on the counter.

“What’s going on?” Hayley asked.

“Well, let’s just say that once we parked we saw a lot of people already camped outside the cyber café waiting to get in.”

“Well, we’re all here, so…let’s this party jumping.” Hayley said as she and the others headed out of the back room to the main part of the café to open the doors.

“Okay, everyone.” Hayley said to the people there. “The party has now officially begun.”

She didn’t even need to say it twice, for once she and the four teens opened the doors (there were other ones besides two) everyone filed in and got comfortable.

“Jeez Laweez, is this a Christmas party or a quasi-version of a Led Zeppelin concert without Led Zeppelin?” Ethan asked.

“I don’t know, maybe a little bit of both.” Kira said.

“Hayley?” Conner asked as he came up to the counter.

“Yeah Conner?”

“Well, I don’t know if you know this or not, but…you wouldn’t happen to know if Krista’s coming, do you?”

“Any reason?” Hayley asked semi-slyly.

“Uh…well…no, not…no reason, really. Just…wondering.” Conner said.

Hayley smiled sadly and shook her head. “Sorry Conner, but…even I don’t know if she’ll be here or not.”

Damn. “All right. I was just wondering, that’s all.” And with that he then turned back to where the others were.

“You all right?” Trent asked.

“Yeah, just a little bummed about something, but I’ll live.” Conner replied nonchalantly.

“Trent, I’m going to go take some orders, do you think you can get the chips and cookies ready while I do that?”

“Yeah, no problem.” Trent replied.

“I’ll give him a hand.” Conner offered.

“Me too.” Ethan said as he looked sideways at Conner.

“I’ll go too.” Kira said, already knowing that (just like Ethan knew,) if someone else wasn’t there to help out, Conner might start to eat all the chips and cookies and Trent alone might not be able to stop him.

“Guys, you don’t all have to give me a hand with this.” Trent said once they entered the backroom.

“Dude, two people (or excuse me, four) can get this done a whole lot faster than one.” Conner reasoned.

“True.” Trent said. “All right, but you don’t get first dibs on taking the chips out, Conner.”

“What? It’s not like I’m not going to eat the first batch I take out.” Conner protested.

“Not even to ‘taste-test’ them?” Ethan asked sarcastically. “And that’s probably not even counting the second, third, or even fourth batches.”


Conner didn’t say anything after that for a few seconds; he just glared at his friends a bit.

“Conner, don’t worry about it.” Trent said. “You can help with taking out the chips, but try not to eat a whole handful of them.”


“Okay, excuse us folks, the snack express has arrived.”

People then turned around at the sound of Conner’s voice as he, Ethan, Trent, and Kira stepped out of the backroom carrying some trays with snacks. Conner and Ethan were carrying serving dip trays with chips and salsa dip/French onion dip, Trent was carrying a tray w/chips in one hand and a tray full of cookies in the other, and Kira was carrying a tray with an assortment of Oreo and holiday-themed cookies.

The foursome placed them at a table near the front of the counter so people could easily get to them, but there was still enough space that if people wanted to sit by the stools, they would be able to.

Once they placed the plates down, some people began to make their way to the table to get something to eat.

“Thanks a lot, guys.” Hayley said as she went behind the counter and stacked one of her trays on a pile by the sink.

“You’re welcome.” Trent answered.

“Hey, anytime.” Conner said.

“Don’t mention it, Hayley.” Ethan.

“Glad to help.” Kira.

“Oh yeah, Dr. O’s coming, right?” Ethan asked as he, Kira, and Conner took seats on the stools by the counter while Trent went behind the counter.

“Yeah, according to Hayley, he and Kat should be on their way here.” Trent replied.

“Well, hopefully those two won’t take too long.” Conner mused. “Well, that is unless of course they’re already preoccupied with something else.”

Kira was on the verge of saying something, but she held her tongue and just shook her head in disgust.

“What?” Conner asked as he looked at Kira and Trent, who were just shaking their heads and trying not to pay attention to what he was saying. Even Ethan was shaking his head, although he had a semi-grin on his face to indicate that he kind of agreed with his thinking.

“Hi, guys!” called a voice.

The four teens turned in the direction of where the voice was coming from and saw their teacher and Katherine heading in their direction.

“Hi Kat.” Kira said.

“What’s up, doc?” Ethan asked.

“Oh, nothing much.” Tommy replied as he looked at Kat with a smile as they sat down at a table next to the four teens.

Okay, now I know something went down these past few days. Conner thought.

“Well, all the same, it’s good to have you guys join the party.” Ethan said.

“Is everyone else coming?” Kira asked.

“Oh yeah, don’t worry,” Kat said. “They’re coming too.”

“There’s cookies and snacks over there if you guys want some.” Trent offered as he pointed to the table with the snacks, which some people had already started to get.

“Thanks Trent, but I think I’m good for the moment.” Kat replied.

“And I just had lunch not too long ago.” Tommy said.

“All right, well, they’re there if you want them.”

“So, Galaga anyone?” Ethan asked.


The next hour went by pretty briskly with the group making discussion about a few things like class, work, etc. After a while Ethan got a little bored and headed off to the arcade machines to play Space Invaders. Conner, feeling a little bored himself decided to go and play along with him while Trent stuck to his waiting and serving duties, as well as going to the backroom to check on the brownies and take them out. Kira pretty much stuck to talking with Kat about some of the songs she was working on and whatnot. Tommy listened for a while, but then he decided to join his two students at the arcades so the two women didn’t have to worry about him listening in.

After a while, Kat and Kira were both feeling thirsty and asked for some Sierra Mist, which Trent quickly got to work on getting for them.

“Okay ladies,” Trent said as he approached the two women with two Sierra Mists in both hands. “Here you go.”

“Cheers.” Kat said.

“Thanks Trent.” Kira said.

“You’re welcome.” Trent replied with a warm smile.

“Trent, table 16 needs two smoothies, a Mountain Dew, and a ‘Soda Suicide’.” Hayley said as she came up to him.

“All right, I’m all over it.” Trent said as he reached for four cups and got to work on filling them up with what orders were.

“What’s a soda suicide?” Kira asked.

“It’s basically where you take Sierra Mist (or Sprite), Coca-cola, Dr. Pepper, and Mountain Dew, and you mix them together.” Trent replied.

“All of them?” Kira asked.

“All of them.” Trent answered as he finished with two cups and began to fill up the other two.

Jeez, Kira thought. Though she wasn’t staring at him directly, she did steal a few glances at him as he was getting the drinks ready. Once Trent was done, he then took the drinks, put them on a tray, and headed for table 16.

“He really is a nice guy.” Kat mused rhetorically as she noticed Kira looking at Trent indirectly.

“Yeah, he’s really sweet.” Kira replied as she bowed her head somewhat to hide the light blush that was spreading up her neck.

“You really like him, don’t you?” Kat asked with a knowing smile.

“Is it really that obvious?”

Kat smiled with a knowing air. “Take it from me Kira, it’s usually the subtle things that tend to say the most.” Kat said knowingly as she remembered her moments with Tommy these past few weeks, particularly last night. “Don’t worry, I won’t say anything.”

Kira smiled and looked down for a moment before she looked at Kat again. In more ways than one, what Katherine said really meant a lot to her, and it wasn’t just because of the fact that she was the only other woman (besides Hayley) Kira could really talk to, but also because Kat was someone who had pretty much been there herself and as such, she had experiences that were almost similar to her own, both as a Power Ranger and as a person. “Thanks Kat.”

“You’re welcome.” Kat replied sincerely.

After handling a few more orders Trent returned back to the counter. Conner, Tommy and Ethan had also finished with playing on the games and came back as well. They were just about ready to sit down when a voice sounded from nearby.

“Yo Tommy!”

Tommy, Kat and the others turned around and saw Jason, Emily, Tanya, Adam, and Rocky standing by the snack table trying to get their attention. Rocky for his part was eyeing the food hungrily and was trying very hard not grab as many cookies and brownies as he could.

“Hi guys!” Tommy called. “Come on over here. There’s plenty of tables.”

“So what have you guys been up to?” Kat asked once everyone had sat down and greeted Tommy’s students.

“Oh, nothing much.” Emily replied. “Just enjoying the holidays.”

“You can definitely say that again.” Rocky said as he stuck a Milano cookie in his mouth which made the group chuckle.

“Hi, guys.” Hayley said as she approached the table.

“Hi Hayley.” Said Jason.

“Hi.” Rocky said with a charming smile.

“Is there anything I can get you guys?”

“I’ll take some milk if you have some.” Rocky said.

“I’ll just have a Sierra Mist.” Jason said. “Emily…?”

“Same here.” Emily replied.

“Okay, Adam, Tanya, how about you guys?”

“I’m good.” Adam replied.

“I’ll have a Dr. Pepper.” Tanya said.

“Okay, I’ll be right back with your orders.” Hayley said as she headed for the counter to get the drinks. Trent got up from his table and went over to give her a hand.

While the drinks were being prepared, Adam then turned back towards the others and noticed Rocky stacking four cookies on top of each other.

“Rocko, by any chance you didn’t happen to smuggle all the cookies from that snack tray over there, did you?” Adam asked.

“No, I only took a few.” Rocky protested. “Seriously! I only took a few.” He said when he saw the questioning looks on his friends’ faces.

“Prove it.” Tanya said.

Rocky sighed and showed the group his hands, both of which were holding up a stack of 10 assorted cookies on both ends.

“A few, huh?” Tommy asked.

“Yeah.” Rocky replied casually.

“Rocky, remind me to ask to you one of these days as to what your definition of ‘a few’ means when it comes to food.” Jason said.

“Come on, there’s still plenty over there.” Rocky reasoned. “Besides, not everybody’s going up to get them, and I’m not about to let these tasty morsels go to waste.”

“I hear you.” Conner agreed.

“So did this thing just get started now or…?” Tanya asked wanting to change topics.

“We started the whole party about an hour ago.” Kira replied. “Don’t worry, you didn’t miss much.”

“Well, aside from Ethan kicking my ass left, right, and center on Space Invaders and losing Mortal Kombat to Dr. O (which just proves as to how good my gaming skills are).” Conner said.

“Well, not everybody’s good at everything, Conner.” Tommy said.

“I know.” Conner said. “But hey, that’s why God invented soccer.”


For the next while the group pretty much made conversation about things much like Kat and Tommy had done with his students before, with occasional getting up to get snacks or to go to the restroom. Then at around 7:30 Hayley then stepped over to where the makeshift “stage” was to make an announcement.

“Excuse me everyone, can I have your attention for a moment please?”

Everybody began to quiet down.

“Thanks.” Hayley said. “Now before anything I just want to ask, how is everybody tonight? Is everyone having a good time?”

“Yeah!” Said the crowd.

“Good. That’s really good to hear.” Hayley said. “Now if by chance some of you are already starting to get a little bit bored, fear not, because we have someone here tonight who might be able to put the Christmas color back in your cheeks. Now a lot of you have already seen her perform here before, and some of you may be seeing her for the first time tonight, but whether you’ve seen her perform here before or not, she is definitely someone whose voice will get your attention, especially now during the holiday season. Ladies and Gentlemen…Kira Ford.”

The crowd clapped as Kira stepped up onto the stage with her guitar in hand. She looked at everyone that was there and smiled back at all of them. Then she saw Conner, Ethan, Dr. Oliver, Kat, the rest of Dr. O and Kat’s old friends, and…Trent.

“Thank you.” Kira said to the audience. “Now before I start, I would just like to dedicate this first Christmas song to a very special someone here in the audience tonight.” She then looked at Trent and smiled brightly at him. Conner and Ethan looked at Trent and grinned at him slyly while Trent just tried to shrug their grins off on him and just looked at Kira with a warm, genuine smile on his face.

“To that special person, this one is for you, and to everyone else here who also have a special someone in their lives.”

So with renewed determination in her heart, Kira then sat down at a chair that Hayley had placed on the stage, whipped out her guitar and begun, her gaze every so often going to Trent as she sang.

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas darling
We’re apart, that’s true
But I can dream, and in my dreams
I’m Christmasing with you

Holidays are joyful
There’s always something new
But everyday’s a holiday
When I’m near to you

The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it everyday

Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you a Merry Christmas
Happy New Year too
I just have one wish on this Christmas Day
I wish I were with you

(Guitar solo)

Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you a Merry Christmas
Happy New Year too
I just have one wish on this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you

I just have one wish on this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you

Merry Christmas, darling

Merry Christmas darling

Just as the song ended, everyone in the entire café just started to applaud and whistle like crazy. Kira just smiled humbly and waved at the audience as she beamed at her friends, who were clapping the loudest, Trent especially.

“Thank you, thank you so much.” Kira said into the microphone as she continued to smile at the audience and used the few minutes to catch her breath for a bit before she continued.

When mistletoe and tinsel glow
Paint a yuletide valentine
Back home to those I know
For a Christmas auld lang syne

And as we gather ‘round the tree
Our voices all combine
In sweet accord to thank the lord
For a Christmas auld lang syne

When sleigh bells ring and choirs sing
And the children’s faces shine
With each new toy we share their joy
With a Christmas auld lang syne

We sing His praise this day of days
And pray next year this time
We’ll all be near to share the cheer
Of a Christmas auld lang syne

In sweet accord to thank our lord…

For a Christmas auld lang syne

Once more, as Kira finished the song everyone clapped and cheered.

“Thank you.” Kira said as she smiled at everyone.

“Now I’m going to take a short break now, but don’t think that’s the end, I still have two final songs left, so stick around, I’ll be back.”

With her guitar in hand once again, Kira then made her way back to where Trent, Ethan, Dr. O, Kat, Conner, and everyone else were. Once she got there the entire group clapped again.

“Awesome, awesome, and-should I say it again?-Awesome!” Rocky said.

“So I take you guys enjoyed it too?” Kira asked the rest of her teacher’s old friends.

“Are you kidding me?” Jason asked. “On a scale of 1 to 10, that show was an 18!”

“Jason’s right, it really was.” Emily agreed.

Very good choice of songs, Kira.” Tanya said, extremely impressed.

“Thanks.” Kira said.

“Well, personally I think you definitely put the word ‘rock’ in rock & roll.” Trent said sincerely.

“Thanks Trent.” Kira said with a small blush on her face which made Rocky make an “Awww” sound as he reached for another chip only to grab nothing but the plate itself. Seeing that there wasn’t anymore he decided to get up and get some more from the snack table. Conner went with him to get some more chips himself.

“So when are you going to do the last songs?” Adam asked.

“Well, I figured I’d take a break for a little bit, and then once it’s 8:15 I’ll head back up there and sing the last two songs.”

“That’s good.” Ethan said.

“What the hell-?”

“Hayley, what is it?” Kat asked.

“Oh, nothing much, except maybe for our two human vacuum cleaners over there.” Hayley said sarcastically as she pointed over to the desolate snack table where Rocky and Conner were busy taking as many chips, cookies, and brownies as they could possibly take and putting them on some paper plates they had gotten from a stack of unused ones on the same table.

“Why am I not surprised?” Trent mused.

Hayley then reached into one of the bottom drawers and pulled out a call horn. Once she had it in her hand she then turned it on and activated the alarm on the horn which made almost everyone in the café (including Rocky and Conner) jump out of their skin.

“Conner and Rocky, put the extra chips/cookies/brownies you have in your hands down and step away from the snack table.” Hayley said as she spoke into the horn.

Oh, shit. Conner thought to himself. And as he looked at Rocky Conner could tell from the look on his face he too was thinking the same thing. Dropping the extra chips/cookies they had in their hands the two guys grudgingly took the paper plates they had gotten (which already had a couple of snacks on them) and made their way back to the table where the group had bemused looks on their faces.

“You guys really don’t waste any time when it comes to food, do you?” Ethan asked.

“Well, can you blame us if our appetites are bigger than yours? It’s not really our fault, y’ know.” Rocky asked in defense.

“Well, considering you two…no.” Tommy said which made everyone at the table laugh.


“Okay everyone, now even though I’m going to perform the last two songs of the night, this party still has one more thing left after this.” Kira said as she addressed the crowd. “There will be a gift distribution later after my performance so for those of you who brought gifts for your loved ones and they are here with you as well, you’ll have the chance to give them out.”

“And speaking of gifts…y’ know, one could almost think that that’s what Christmas really is about, that it’s only about what you see in the mall and the actual gift itself you give to that special person. And while that is pretty cool…it still doesn’t signify what the holidays really are about. It’s family, and friends that are what make Christmas what it is, especially when you have them there to share the holidays with you and also to talk about what you wish for this Christmas. And even though yeah, while most of us have pretty much outgrown Christmas lists, that doesn’t mean that we still can’t wish for something special, especially if it’s from our hearts.”

So with that Kira then adjusted the microphone and placed it back on its stand before heading back up to the small stage. This time though, instead of using her guitar as she normally would, she then approached a small electronic keyboard that was a little bit towards the back of the stage and moved it forward as well as adjusting the height so she could use it while sitting down. Once it was adjusted, Kira then sat down in front of it much like a grandmaster would, and started to play the melody.

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies

Well, I’m all grown up now
I still need help somehow
I’m not a child, but my heart still can dream

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself, but for a world
In need

No more lives torn apart
And wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

As children we believe
The grandest sight to see
Was something lovely wrapped beneath our tree
Well, heaven surely knows
The packages and bows
Can never heal a hurting human soul

No more lives torn apart
And wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

What is this illusion called
The innocence of youth?
Maybe only in our blind belief
Can we ever find the truth

No more lives torn apart
And wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list
This is my only lifelong wish

This is my grown-up Christmas list

Just like before, everyone clapped and cheered. Kira smiled as she said thanks and adjusted the seat on the stage before reaching for her trusty guitar and playing the melody to her final song.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire
Jack Frost nipping at your nose
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir
And folks dressed up like Eskimos

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe
Help to make the season bright
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow
Will find it hard to sleep tonight

They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh
And every mother’s child is gonna spy
To see if reindeer really know how to fly

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways:
Merry Christmas to you”

(Guitar solo)

And so I’m offering this simple phrase
To kids from one to ninety-two
Although it’s been said many times, many ways:
Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas
To you”

Once she was finished, she then took a bow as everyone in the café, along with Kat, Tommy, Jason, and the others applauded her.


Shortly after Kira’s performance, things began to wind down a bit at the cyber café as some people already began to head for their homes to spend the rest of Christmas Eve with their families. Others however, were still there, giving their loved ones gifts that they had brought and enjoying what was left of the party.

As for Katherine, Tommy, and the others, they were pretty much hanging out still at the tables by the counter.

“Well, this has been one heck of a Christmas party.” Jason said.

“You can say that again.” Rocky said as he patted his stomach.

“Ohhh, yeah.” Conner agreed.

“Yeah, because you two basically got to pig yourselves out.” Tanya said which made everybody break into laughter.

“So did you guys bring any gifts for each other or…?” Hayley asked.

“We left them at home.” Emily said. “Although now I kind of wish we did bring them though.”

“True, but that would have taken all the fun out of Christmas Day.” Jason pointed out.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Still though…”

“How about you guys?” Hayley asked Adam, Tanya, and Rocky.

“Mine and Tanya’s are at our place.” Adam said.

“My gifts are back at my apartment, but they’re for my folks, so…” Rocky said.

“Oh, okay.” Hayley said.

“Mmm. This was pretty good.” Ethan said as he finished up the last of his hot chocolate. “Trent, could you-Trent?”

“Where’d he go?” Kira asked.

“I don’t know, he was here just a second ago.” Kat replied.

“He went into the backroom.” Hayley replied.

“What for?”

“Well…let’s just say there was something really important in there he had to do.” Hayley said slyly.


All right, this is it. Trent thought as he picked up the gift-wrapped painting from the spot he had left it at. Though none of his friends really took much notice of it (especially Kira) while they were taking out the chips and cookies for the snack entrees, Conner and Ethan did look as if though they had seen it and as such they knew, or at least suspected what the package was, for Conner gently elbowed him and said, “Go for it, dude.” At first Trent didn’t know what he was talking about, but then when he looked back to where he had left the package he figured it out.

With the package in both of his hands Trent then made for the door to the main part of the café when he hesitated at the last minute.

Trent, come on. It’s just Kira. What have you got to be worried about?

As eager as he was to head out there and give Kira his painting, part of him couldn’t help but freeze up if for no other reason than just pure self-doubt.

Trent, you can either just stand there until your feet are rooted to the ground, or you can just bite the bullet, take the chance and just go out there. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Swallowing his pride Trent exhaled heavily and clutched his painting in his left hand as he headed for the door.

“Hi guys.” Said Trent as he stepped out of the café’s backroom.

“Hey Trent.” Ethan said.

“So what did you have to do in there?” Kira asked.

“Well, actually it was more of what I had to get in there.” Trent said as he slightly gestured to the package he was carrying.

“What’s in the bag?” Kira asked.

“It’s actually what I went back there to get.” Trent replied with a semi-nervous undertone. “It’s something I’ve been working on for a while now, and I was hoping to get it done before today so I could give it to you, and luckily though I was…able to do that, so…”

Getting nervous with every second and not really sure what else to say Trent quickly took the bag off the package and bundled it up in his hands before tossing it out into a nearby trash can. Then he took the package he was holding in his right hand and gently handed it to Kira.

“Merry Christmas, Kira.” Trent said sincerely. “You don’t have to open it now, I mean, you can wait until you get home or whatever, I don’t really care…”

Kira then looked from Trent’s deep brown eyes to the package she was holding in her hands. Curious, she then slowly began to unwrap the package.

Tommy, Kat, and the others were watching all this go on, and while they all knew they shouldn’t be prying and that they should give the two some privacy, their curiosity was getting the best of all of them as they wondered what it was Trent had gotten for her.

Once Kira finished unwrapping the package and looked at the painting in it’s entirety, her jaw opened slightly and her eyes widened and remained locked at the painting completely.

At first Trent was afraid that she didn’t like it, but then when he saw her mouth curl upwards into a smile, that fear was sedated.

As Kira’s smile broke across the corners of her mouth, the only word that could come out of her mouth was “Wow,” as she continued to stare at the painting, her eyes getting somewhat watery.

“So what is it?” Rocky asked.

Kira then snapped out of her trance and looked at her teacher and Kat before turning the painting around to show everyone else what it was. Once Emily, Jason, Tommy, Kat and everyone else in the group saw it, their eyes widened completely in amazement as they saw the picture. It was a beautiful oil painting of Kira staring out onto the beach as she gently strummed on her guitar with the sunset in the background.

“Wow,” Adam said.

“Holy spamoli,” Rocky muttered.

“And you did this?” Tanya asked Trent.

“Yeah…I did.” Trent replied.

“Trent, this is really good work. Really, I mean, this doesn’t look like a drawing to me.” Emily said. “This looks like art.”

“You can definitely say that again.” Kat said in agreement.

“So…you like it?” Trent asked Kira as he nervously ran a hand through his hair.

Kira then looked at the painting again for a while, then she placed it on the table before she looked at Trent with a warm smile on her face and her hazel eyes glassed over with joy.

“I love it.” She said as she then reached over and hugged Trent as tightly as she could. “Thanks Trent.”

“You’re welcome.” Trent replied with a deep blush as he returned the embrace with equal affection.

Seeing this, Rocky started to whistle absent-mindedly as he looked off in another direction. Conner and Ethan just sat there in their chairs with semi-goofy grins on their faces as they gave Trent a thumbs-up. Adam, Tanya, Kat, Tommy, Jason, and Emily just watched the exchange with warm smiles. Tommy, having already sensed the attraction between his two students for some time, was happy for Trent and glad that he finally took a chance to do something special for someone he cared about.

“Well, I guess that leaves only one question to ask then.” Conner said as he gently ushered his friend closer and whispered in his ear.

“So, just out of curiosity when’s the wedding?”

“Conner, shut up.” Trent said as he blushed again.

“Dude, relax. I’m kidding, I’m kidding.” Conner said which made himself, Trent, Kira, Ethan, and everyone else into spasms of laughter once again.


Not too long after that everyone started to leave the café. However, it was a lot earlier than what Hayley had predicted, so she (with help from Trent, Tommy, Kat, and their friends) was able to clean everything up much faster and close up the cyber café early.

Since there was still some leftover trash to take out around closing time, Tommy told Hayley to go ahead and close up and he would go take the trash to the dumpster in the back. However, seeing as how there was just a little more to carry for just himself alone, Kat gave him a hand with taking the trash out. Once they were done, they headed around the café to meet up with the rest of their friends and Tommy’s students.

“Thanks for helping me out back there, Kat.” Tommy said.

“You’re welcome, Tommy.” Kat replied. “Y’ know, the Thanksgiving party we had a month ago was great, but this one was even more incredible.”

Tommy smiled. “I’m glad you had a good time.”

“I did. Although…I am sorry I didn’t have a chance to get you anything.”

“Kat, it’s okay.” Tommy said. “Look, being here with you is an incredible enough gift for me. Besides, to be honest…I really wouldn’t want anything else.”

Kat blushed at the comment before looking deep into Tommy’s brown eyes, slowly losing herself bit by bit.

Smiling gently Tommy then gently took Kat’s hands in his own and then as he slowly inched his face to hers, his lips met her own with a passionate caress, yet with a surprising gentleness which touched Kat greatly, even as she completely lost herself in his kisses and his embrace.

Their intimate moment was then interrupted by sounds of cheering, whistling, and whooping, and they weren’t far away either.

Tommy and Katherine turned around and saw none other than Conner, Ethan, Kira, Trent, and the rest of their friends standing nearby. Conner, Ethan, and Rocky were whistling and whooping like crazy while Jason, Adam, Kira, Trent, Emily, and Tanya were merely smiling and clapping at the two.

“About time, Dr. O. About time!” Conner said.

At first Tommy wanted to give his student a death glare, but then when he looked at Kat he gave up and just sighed to himself as he smiled and laughed along with her and everyone else. After all, what was the point in trying to argue with his students or even his old friends if he knew he and Katherine had just gotten through proving what everyone else had suspected for some time now; plus…having someone with whom to have new experiences to add onto the ones he and her already had shared together in the past…which was something he had secretly yearned for over the years, yet never believed would ever happen to him again…as far as Tommy was concerned, it was more than he ever could have hoped for.

And so Tommy swept Kat up in his most loving embrace and the two kissed passionately under the cool, Christmas Eve night.

“Merry Christmas Kat.” Tommy said softly to Kat.

“Merry Christmas Tommy.”

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