(A/N: As you might have guessed, since "How It Started" underwent some big changes, such as ending with a completely new verison of "The T.U.F.F. Christmas Party" chapter from "Love Stories", this story will be the new and improved "Love Stories". Let's see how this one goes!)
It was three days after the T.U.F.F. Christmas party. Some agents who had families that didn't live in Petropolis had already gone home for the holidays. Some agents had families who came to visit them. Dudley and Kitty's families lived in Petropolis, so they stayed put. Speaking of Dudley, let's see what he's up to on this fine day in December.
Dudley was on the phone, talking with Kitty.
"So, how is your Christmas vacation going?" Dudley asked.
"It's been pretty good, so far. Katrina and I are currently wrapping the presents we needed our Christmas bonuses to buy. How about you?" Kitty asked.
"It's okay. Mom handled the news about us being in a relationship pretty well." Dudley replied.
"She did?" Kitty asked, surprised. She had expected Dudley to say that his mom hit the roof or something like that. Then again, if that had happened, Dudley probably would've called her sooner and told her.
"Yeah. Bruce got her to handle the news about him and Katrina well enough, and since he explained that you and Katrina are the kind of girls she hoped we'd find, who is she to complain?" Dudley asked.
"Good. I thought you were going to say that I'm still not the girl she wanted you to end up with, in spite of the fact that I probably am." Kitty said.
"Not 'probably'. You really are." Dudley said.
"You sure?" Kitty asked.
"I know in my heart that you're the only girl I'll ever want." Dudley said.
"You really feel that way?" Kitty asked.
"Of course. When you ended up with Eric, I thought I'd lost you for good." Dudley said.
"I know. But what I felt for him hardly measures up to what I'm feeling for you. And besides, I know you better than I knew him." Kitty said.
"Bruce says it's better to know the other person well before you make big decisions." Dudley said.
"What if the other person waited until after the decision was made before showing their true colors?" Kitty asked.
"Then you might wanna get help to get out of the situation before it gets even worse and the unthinkable happens." Dudley said.
"Right. So what have you been up to?" Kitty asked.
"Not a whole lot. Would it be okay if I came over for a while?" Dudley asked.
"If you wanna help me wrap presents, sure. But what about Bruce? Wouldn't he want to come?" Kitty asked.
"If he can spend time with Katrina." Dudley said.
"And we know she'd never turn down the opportunity to spend time with 'her Brucie'." Kitty said with a laugh.
"I'll ask him." Dudley said. He turned away from the phone and yelled up the stairs, "Hey, Bruce! Wanna spend some time at Kitty's apartment?"
"Is Katrina over there?" Bruce asked.
"Yes!" Dudley said.
Bruce flew down the stairs with his winter gear on and said, "Let's go!"
"Well, that settles that." Dudley said to himself before turning back to the phone to say, "I'll see you soon, Kitty."
"Looking forward to it." Kitty replied.
Then they hung up, and Dudley quickly donned his own winter gear. Once he was ready, the brothers jumped into the car and drove to the apartment building where the Katswell sisters lived.
When they arrived, they found Kitty in the living room, wrapping some presents and placing them under the tree or in stockings, depending on the size of the presents.
"Hey, Kitty." the brothers greeted as they removed their coats, scarves, hats, and mittens.
"Hi, Dudley. Hi, Bruce." Kitty replied, getting ready to wrap another present.
"So, where's my baby?" Bruce asked.
"In our room." Kitty said, before leading him to the bedroom door, which was closed. Kitty knocked on the door.
"Don't come in, Kitty. Some of the things I got you haven't been wrapped yet." Katrina's voice said from the other side.
"I wasn't going to come in. Bruce is here and he wants to see you." Kitty said.
"Are you certain about that?" Katrina asked.
"She is." Katrina heard Bruce's voice say.
"Okay, Brucie. You can come in, but not until Kitty's away from the door." Katrina said.
"I'll go back to the living room." Kitty said, and she walked away from the bedroom door.
Once Bruce heard Kitty talking to Dudley, he opened the door and walked in. There was Katrina, signing the 'to-&-from' tag on a wrapped present.
"Brucie!" Katrina exclaimed in happiness when she saw him.
"Hey, pretty lady!" Bruce said as Katrina got up and ran into his arms. Bruce grinned and held her for a moment, glad to have some alone time with the woman he loved. Katrina was glad to see Bruce. He made her feel happy and loved.
"So, you wanna help me wrap these presents?" Katrina asked.
"Sure." said Bruce.
"You know how to wrap them?" Katrina asked.
"Of course. I help Mom wrap presents for Dudley, and I pay attention to how she does it. When I started buying presents for Mom, I had to wrap those presents without her. Because I paid attention when I helped Mom, I was able to wrap presents pretty well." Bruce explained as he took one of the presents that hadn't been wrapped yet and started to wrap it.
"So you're obviously very observant. That is a good skill for a secret agent to have." Katrina said.
"So it makes me a good one?" Bruce asked.
"Actually, you're one of the best." Katrina grinned, leaning over to give him a kiss.
"Thanks. Say, I've noticed that none of the presents in here are in shopping bags. What happened to them?" Bruce asked.
"I took the presents out of the bags and put the bags in the recycling bin last night when Kitty was asleep. Then I hid the presents under my bed." Katrina said.
"And Kitty didn't notice them?" Bruce asked.
"No. When it gets as cold as it is, I need more than just the sheet, electric blanket, and comforter to keep warm at night. I grabbed some blankets from the closet and fixed them so that they hung down over the sides and foot of the bed, keeping Kitty's presents concealed quite well. Not that she noticed, much less cared." Katrina said.
"Clever girl." Bruce commented, making Katrina blush.
Meanwhile, Dudley was helping Kitty by handing her what she needed. He even gave her bows to put on the presents. At one point, she asked him for a gold bow.
"Odd. For all those other presents, you were asking for all those other colors, and when I asked you about a gold one, you said no. Now you want a gold one. Why is that?" Dudley asked, holding a gold bow while giving her a suspicious look.
"This is the one Katrina should open last because, in my opinion, this one is the best, and you always want to save the best for last. The gold bow will show her that this one should be opened last" Kitty said.
"Okay, that makes sense. That's a good idea, Kitty." Dudley said as he handed the bow to Kitty, who put it on the wrapped present.
"I always thought so." Kitty said, moving the present so it was under the Christmas tree.
"Maybe I'll start doing that when I wrap Christmas presents next year." Dudley said.
"You're done shopping?" Kitty asked.
"Yeah. I finished my Christmas shopping before the party." Dudley said.
"That's good. That way, you won't be out amongst last-minute shoppers." Kitty said.
"I know. Mom says that last-minute shopping is not a very good idea, hence the reason we always manage to get the shopping done before Christmas Eve." Dudley said.
"Speaking of your mom, what would you have done if she didn't approve of our relationship?" Kitty asked.
"I would've told her that she's insane to think bad of you, because you are the kind of girl she wanted me to find. I love you more than my own life, and she'd just have to deal with it, because there is nothing she or anyone else can do to stop me from loving you. If she couldn't learn to live with it, that's her loss." Dudley said.
"I love you so much, Dudley." Kitty said as she felt her heart overflow with love for him.
"Not as much as I love you." Dudley replied, giving her a loving look.
Meanwhile, with Bruce and Katrina...
"That's the last of 'em." Katrina smiled as she set the bow on the last wrapped present.
"So, shall we put them under the tree and in the stockings?" Bruce asked.
"That all depends on what Kitty's up to. If she's still wrapping my presents, I can't go out there." Katrina reminded him.
"Oh yeah. You don't want to see what you're getting. Dudley always wanted to see what he was getting when he was a pup, but he stopped when Mom told him that if he knew, Santa wouldn't bring him anything. That helped." Bruce said.
"I'll bet it did. Nobody wants to go without presents, except the villains, 'cause I think they were asking for it. Anyway, go find out what my sister is up to." Katrina told him.
"Alright." said Bruce. He exited the room and walked out to the living room, where Dudley and Kitty just finished wrapping the very last present.
"Hey guys." Bruce said.
Dudley and Kitty looked up and saw Bruce.
"Can we help you?" Kitty asked.
"My baby wants to know if she can come out now." Bruce replied.
"After the shopping bags have been put in the recycle bin. The only stores I want Katrina to know about are the ones she and I went to when we shopped for Mom." Kitty said.
"You take care of the bags, and I'll move the present under the tree." Dudley said to her.
So Kitty picked up the bags and put them in the bin while Dudley moved the present under the tree, where it belonged.
"Now that that's taken care of..." Bruce said. He went back over to the bedroom door and knocked 3 times.
"Yes?" Katrina asked.
"They're done. Bring out the presents and let's put 'em where they belong." Bruce told her.
So Katrina grabbed some wrapped gifts and so did Bruce. They instantly began placing the gifts in their proper places, and before long, all the presents were either under the tree or in the stockings.
When everyone looked at the clock, they realized it was only 4:00 in the afternoon.
"Well, it's only mid-afternoon. What else can we do?" Dudley asked.
"I've been practicing Christmas songs on my keyboard." Kitty said.
"Let's hear them." Bruce replied.
So Kitty got out her keyboard and played some Christmas songs. Dudley was still impressed with her skill, wondering why he'd thought attending that piano recital of hers was a bad thing. That seemed like a bad memory from another life. Either way, he had new respect for Kitty and her ability to play a musical instrument.
The guys stayed until the sun began to set.
"Come on, Dudley, we've gotta get home." Bruce said, getting up and donning his winter gear.
"Aww, just a few more minutes?" Dudley whined.
"As tempting as it sounds, Mom's not going to be happy if we stay here for too long." Bruce said.
"Fine, then." Dudley said as he got up and put on his winter gear.
Before the boys left, they bid their ladies good-bye with a kiss.
"Come again soon." Katrina said to Bruce.
"I hope to." Bruce replied.
"It was good to see you again, Kitty." Dudley said.
"Dudley, we've been on break for only three days." Kitty reminded him.
"I know, but I still hate when I don't get to see you." Dudley said.
"Aww, Dudley. You're so sweet." Kitty said, giving him a hug, which he returned.
As expected, Dudley didn't want to let go of Kitty when she stopped hugging him.
"Uh, Dudley... you can let go now." Kitty told him, realizing that his arms were still wrapped around her.
"Please let this moment last a little longer." Dudley pleaded almost to himself.
"Dudley, I know how you feel, 'cause I don't like the thought of leaving my own baby; but we've gotta get home or Mom won't be very happy with us." Bruce said.
"Okay." Dudley said as he reluctantly let go of Kitty. Then he and Bruce made their way home.
And so ends Chapter 1. I did not expect it to be as long as it was! Well, I hope you enjoyed it! But there's still more to come, so stay tuned!