A/N: The last part was really the end of the 'Giving' story proper-this is more of a bridge to the Christmas story (with references to D2) than anything.


Inspirations: Is the glass half full, or half empty? - phrase or outlook on life / A nun / A bad haircut


"Giving, Part Five and Final"

A few days after the debacle of Thanksgiving, Terry and Fulton ran into each other at the mall. Well, Terry was with his mother, but she was too busy yelling at a saleswoman about the shoddy condition of some merchandise to acknowledge Fulton.

"Hey, how's it going?" Fulton greeted the younger boy. Terry glanced at his mother, who was waving her pocketbook in the poor saleswoman's face and shouting '...won't pay a cent for this trash! Not one red cent!', glanced back at Fulton and shrugged.

"S'okay," he said blandly. "You?"

"Christmas shopping. It sucks." Fulton replied. "Dunno what the heck to get anybody."

"Jesse likes the 'Ender' books," Terry volunteered.

Fulton stared at him for a moment. "What?"

Terry smiled. "Well, you're going to get him a present aren't you? I mean," and his voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper, "you're like his best, best friend!"

Fulton raised an eyebrow and studied Terry with a guarded expression. Terry's expression was one of complete innocence, but the sudden emphasis Terry was placing on 'best friend' was a little...weird, to say the least.

Finally, noticing that Mrs. Hall's tantrum had forced one of the employees to get the store manager to appease her, Fulton sighed and said, "Okay, who's the author?"

"Orson Scott Card. Don't get 'Ender's Game,' he has that already, or 'Speaker for the Dead,' because /I'm/ getting him that one." Terry instructed.

Fulton scribbled the information on a crumpled piece of notebook paper he'd fished from his pocket. "Right. Thanks." Terry turned to get a better view of his mother, who seemed mollified by the presence of the manager, and gave Fulton an apologetic look.

"Well, we'll probably have to go home after this, to save face or something."


Fulton walked into Waldenbooks and nearly ran over a nun holding an armful of Jesus books aimed at teenagers. "Oh, sh..sorry!" Fulton corrected himself in mid-word, and caught hold of the teetering stack of books. "I'm sorry."

All he could see of the nun's face between the wimple and the books were her brown eyes. She replied, in a muffled voice, "Take some of them, take some of the books!" When he had complied, she straightened the ones she held and took a breath. "Thank you, young man. Could you put the on the counter for me?"

"Probably none of my business," Fulton began, stacking the books he held beside the register, "but why do you have so many of these books?"

"I am reviewing them to see whether they are appropriate to give to the children in the parish, the ones who are going to classes in preparation for recieving their First Communion, or for being confirmed." the nun told him stiffly. She had that 'I've-got-the-Holy-Spirit' look in her eyes, and her whole stance told him that she was about to launch into a sermon about accepting Jesus Christ our Savior...

"Oh, well...that's interesting. Sorry about running into you like that, ma'am." Fulton apologized again, turning to the shelf of new releases and scanning for the name Orson Scott Card.


It turned out that Orson Scott Card was a well-published author, but not in the new releases section. A clerk helped him find the 'Ender' series on the science fiction shelves, of which he bought two-'Xenocide' and 'Children of the Mind'.

While he was in the bookstore, he picked up a copy of 'Rainbow Six' for his dad. Mr. Reed was crazy for military fiction, especially the stuff by Tom Clancy.


A few minutes later, he was on the escalator going up to the second level when he heard someone call his name. He twisted around to see Averman behind him, riding the down escalator. The bespectacled redhead waved at him and called, "Hang on, I'll come back up!"

Fulton waited next to the escaltors as Averman weaved his way through stationary shoppers to get back to the second level. "What are you doing here?"

Averman grinned at him. "My cousin Jordy works at General Cinemas, just got me a job as a ticket taker. It's great, 'specially if I have to work late, because there's hardly anybody around then and I can watch movies, and get the leftover popcorn and stuff. What're you doing?"

"Christmas shopping. My mom's idea-she usually won't drive me to the mall, but she has a hair appointment," here Fulton punctuated his statement with a roll of the eyes, "at Supercuts."

"Ooh, classy!" Averman shot back with sarcasm. They both laughed. "Bet she gets a really horrible permanent or something. Make her head look like a Brillo pad."

"Or yours," Fulton pointed out, ruffling Averman's wild curls.

Averman grinned widely, "Dissed by a missing link!"

"You'll never live it down."

"Sure I will." Averman said, "No witnesses except these mindless mallrat consumers."

"The glass is always half full for you, isn't it?"


To be continued in "Feliz Navidad"...