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People hung up flashing lights and gaudy decorations to celebrate something I had not yet figured out; I assumed it was really just to support the government and the sales that would come from buying stupid presents for hopeful children, but I didn't say anything. I didn't dare; people were so protective of the holiday, I feared my death if one peep was made; all my training at the Academy would not protect me from the holiday rage.

Still, as the snow fell and made slush that stuck to my shoes, making them slightly soggy, I did not see any appeal whatsoever. Why would someone wish to bring a tree indoors and cover it with a million fire hazards? Why would they cook a feast of barely edible foods that no one would end up eating - aside from the potatoes - and would rot in the back of the refrigerator for weeks? Why would they cover boxes in tacky garbage referred to as 'wrapping paper' and give that away - what would little Jenny do with a doll? The entire family could have been kept fed for a month yet that money was wasted on brief slivers of happiness.

I chuckled bitterly and tucked my head deeper into the worn hood, cringing silently as the liquid tormentors fell on my skin. I had always hated snow, but to see it celebrated so profusely here - it was absurd. Snow wasn't fun, or beautiful; it was simply frozen water that was easily stained with anything and served with a side of annoyance and soaked clothing.

My hand jutted out from the warm pockets of my coat and I stared blankly at the present that had wasted half of my day; I regretted purchasing it, and wouldn't have it wasn't for a certain person and for a certain reason. He was so excited for the holiday, I didn't dare share my feelings with him - that often - and tried my hardest to appease him with manufactured joy.

I rubbed my boots off on the doormat situated just outside their apartment and rapped three times on the wood; thump, thump, thump, alerting the inhabitants that I was there and nearly frozen solid. I could already feel my nose dripping and knew it was bright red like the ridiculous reindeer who got an entire song made about him - Reginald or something, or other.

"Emily, hi," cried Aunt May's sharp voice, always laughing out a familiar smile and welcoming me in. "You look lovely."

Why was it that people always felt the need to express how 'lovely' someone looked near a holiday? The sweater that donned my torso had been worn a thousand times, yet she only noticed it then - why? Americans were such strange creatures; even months and months after spending time with them, I did not understand their customs.

I nodded and mumbled a 'thank you' as I stood awkwardly in the room, waiting impatiently for Peter to come out. He had told me that I needed to 'experience Christmas properly' and so, with much reluctance, I had agreed; there was no doubt in me that I would hate it, but I would do it for him. The chance to see the little light in his eyes was enough for me to endure his torment.


"Hi," I whispered back, a small smile licking my lips. "Are you ready?"

Peter nodded, and after waiting a quick second for him to ask May about something, we were off and out the door, hurrying off to the 'adventure' he had planned.

"So, what exactly is this surprise? The suspense is killing me."

His cheeks flushed, but I couldn't be sure if that was from my teasing comment or the bitter cold that nipped at any exposed skin. "It's a secret, Emily; if I told you, it wouldn't be a secret, would it?"

"That doesn't mean you cannot, though."

"Doesn't it?"

The banter carried on between us as we walked; both of our voices were snippy and loud, carrying through the cold wind, but there was nothing but mutual happiness between us. I didn't want to do these Christmas activities, per se, but being with him would always make me smile.

Little Spy | Peter Parker ✓Where stories live. Discover now