NOTES: Title from the song by Smog. Two-stepping thanks to Jess and thanks to Luna and Mosca for wisdom and insight.


"So you're not going to Midnight Mass?" Casey leans against the door and watches Danny fall into the couch.

"You don't want to go with me. Jeremy doesn't want to go with me. And, I hear there's no dancing." Danny closes his eyes. "So, no Midnight Mass."

Casey turns to see if Dana has come out of her office yet and then turns back to Danny, wired and pretending to be exhausted on the couch. It's Christmas Day, Casey thinks. "I've never been to Midnight Mass, you know, it's a Catholic thing. And I'm not..."

"Not Catholic, yes, Casey, I know that. You're Lutheran." Danny opens his eyes and leans forward, smiling.

Casey says, "Right. And Lutherans don't do Midnight Mass."

"You don't do anything, Casey." Danny's still smiling and he looks down at his feet and plays with the laces on his Adidas.

"I do lots of things, Danny." Casey turns again, watching for Dana.

Danny laughs. "When did you last go to church? Seriously, Casey, barring funerals and weddings -- last time you went to church?"

Casey laughs and keeps watching Dana's door. He tugs at his tie. "Okay, you're right. I thought you meant other things."

Casey hears Danny opening the fridge and grabbing a beer. He turns a little and Danny's right next to him, pressing one in Casey's hand. Casey lifts his bottle and they tap their beers in a silent toast. Casey watches Danny sit back down and then goes back to watching Dana's door. Danny says, "So, no plans for Christmas Eve?"

"Nope. We did the show." Casey twists off the top off his beer and drinks a little. "Guess I'm gonna have a quick beer here with you and then go home. Pick up Charlie tomorrow morning." Casey has a small tree with cheap red balls and lights that are supposed to blink and don't. The tree sits in the corner, and Casey keeps thinking he should make it look better, spruce it up-- but then he has things to do. Lisa got all the nice decorations, and the only things on the tree Casey didn't buy last year at the corner drugstore are a set of CSC ones he got gratis. Even those look kind of sad. There are presents for Charlie under the tree, from Casey and a few from Dana, Isaac and Danny. Casey's been putting the presents he gets from his family and friends under the tree, waiting for Christmas morning. It was all, he thinks, more exciting when he was younger, and then he takes another drink from his beer, while frowning at his own cliché.

Dana's still in her office with Kyle, and Danny is drumming his fingers against his knee. Danny suddenly says, "Do you have a favorite Christmas song?"

Casey doesn't look at him. He keeps watching for Dana to emerge. "My favorite Christmas song? Uh. Jingle bells. I, actually, I really like Jingle Bells."

Danny laughs. "Jingle bells, Batman smells..."

"What's your favorite Christmas song? Or do you have one?"

Danny stands and leans against the wall, kicking at the table. "I like the John Lennon song. War is over. And of course, I have one. I grew up in America. I've had Christmas shoved down my throat since I was born. Pop quiz, Casey -- name the differences between Reform, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism?"

Casey smiles and shakes his head. "Is this your yearly lecture about the oppressive, overwhelming nature of Christian holidays on your sensitive Jewish soul?"

Casey looks over at Danny and he's grinning. "Yes, yes, it is, and I'd like to get some recognition of the fact that I waited until Christmas Eve to rant to you about it."

Danny's about to launch into his polemic, and he doesn't care that Casey knows this speech by heart. Casey sighs, but then Jeremy walks up. "Casey. Merry Christmas."

Casey smiles and nods. "I'd wish you a Happy Hanukkah, Jeremy, but Danny says that's offensive."

Jeremy cranes his neck around to peer at Danny. "I don't think it's offensive. Hanukkah started a few days ago, though, so it is a little late. You think it's offensive, Dan?"

Danny shoulders past Casey, bumping against Casey and Danny smells different, like he's wearing new cologne or something. Danny stands between Casey and his view of Dana's office and starts gesturing with his beer bottle. "Here's my thing. Hanukkah? Minor festival. Minor, minor. No wishes me a happy Rosh Hashanah, which is, as you know, Jeremy, one of the holiest days of the year. But when I don't get wished a Merry Christmas, a holiday I don't celebrate at all, people wish me a Happy Hanukkah. And I say, no."

Jeremy smiles. "You say no?"

Danny leans back against the glass wall, next to Casey, outside the office. "I say no. Don't wish me a Happy Hanukkah unless you also wish me a Happy Rosh Hashanah. Or an easy fast on Yom Kippur. No half measures allowed. Respect my people, know my people's holidays, or don't, I say."

Jeremy grins. "Dan doesn't speak for all of us, Casey. I appreciate the holiday wishes." Jeremy looks over at Dan and narrows his eyes. "Speaking of holiday wishes, Dan."

"All about the gifts, aren't you, Jeremy?" Danny grins and takes a long drink from his beer.

Jeremy makes a sheepish expression. "Doesn't everyone like gifts?" Danny hands Jeremy his near empty beer bottle. "Okay, Dan, I know it's the thought that counts, but, um."

Danny laughs and shoulders past Casey again, walking into the office. Casey ignores the brief warmth of Danny pushing past him. He inhales deeply and wonders why Danny switched colognes. He wonders if it has something to do with Abby and therapy and then shakes his head again. Because, of course, the first thing a therapist would do is make you change your cologne. Insecure? Compulsive flirting? Occasional odd fits where you walk away from everyone, including your best friend? Change your cologne, my friend, Casey thinks, smiling, all will be well.

Danny is reaching behind the sofa with a wide grin. "I got you an actual gift, Jeremy, anticipating you would bail on Midnight Mass."

"I'm Jewish, Dan, I don't want to go to a Catholic Mass." Jeremy takes the newspaper wrapped box. Jeremy doesn't shake the box immediately the way Casey would. "Why *did* you want to go, Dan?"

Jeremy is standing on one side of the open door, Danny is leaning against the other side and Casey feels crowded. Danny's new cologne suddenly fills Casey's lungs and it smells oppressive and medicinal. He shakes his head and steps away from them, staring at Dana's closed door.

When Casey was married and Charlie was younger, Christmas was an event. Before Sports Night, he would have to scrimp for weeks so he could splurge on expensive gifts for Charlie and Lisa. Jewelry, he thinks, he used to spend a lot of money on jewelry that was real, diamond earrings and, once, when they were in Texas, a necklace with three small rubies. This year he only splurged on Charlie. And Dana, he thinks. He spent more than he should have on Dana, since they weren't supposed to buy gifts for each other -- just for their secret Santa recipients. So, he thinks, even the ten dollars he spent on the stupid T-shirt he bought for Dana was more than he should have.

Danny taps Casey on the shoulder. "Yo, space cowboy. Wakey wakey. We're talking to you."

Casey looks at the two of them, Jeremy still holding his gift. "I'm awake. I just wasn't, you know, paying attention." He looks at Danny. "Space cowboy? What the fuck is that, Danny?"

Danny waves his hand. "A phrase. A moment of inspiration. I was about to explain my urge to go to Midnight Mass."

Casey snorts. "Space cowboy sounds stupid, Danny. It doesn't count as inspiration."

Danny laughs. "Fine. Inspiration withdrawn. Back to me, again." He grins and leans against the wall. "I wanted to go to Midnight Mass because I thought it would be fun. Singing and dancing. Seeing how the other half lives. But there's no dancing, so screw it."

Jeremy looks down at his gift. "It's not quite the other half, Dan. I mean I'm not sure about what the percentages are of Catholics versus Jews in the US, but I don't think it's half." Jeremy grins.

Dan laughs. "You're right. We should look it up." The two of them walk over to Jeremy's desk and Casey walks back into his office. He should go home. Charlie will be at his place in the morning, in nine hours. He should get some sleep. He should stop waiting for Dana who will probably want to do something with Kyle and won't want him tagging along.

On their desk, in the drawer, underneath Dana's gift is the phone number of a girl who works on one of the lower floors and parked near him yesterday. She has a weird name. Casey sits behind the desk and looks at the number. Danny breezes in and sits on the edge of the desk, and Casey thinks the new cologne smell surrounds Danny like a cloud. "Casey," he says, smiling.

"So it is the other third? Other fifth?" Casey leans back in his chair.

"Jeremy's checking out census figures. The page loads very slowly. You, on the other hand, should be heading home. Charlie in the morning, right?"

Casey smiles. "Yeah. I was just thinking that. I should head home. But I wanted to give Dana her gift."

Danny makes a face. "You bought her a gift? You're not her Secret Santa. Cheater." Danny glares at him. "Wait, you bought Dana a gift and not me?"

Casey opens the drawer. "I cheated all around." He pulls out Danny's gift and hands it to him. It's nicely wrapped in paper with dreidels all over it.

"Aw, you shouldn't have." Dan rips off the wrapping. "Raging Bull, Casey. Thanks."

"It's not even out until New Years Day, but, hey, you can get anything in New York City." Casey gets up from behind the desk and rubs Danny's shoulder as he walks to the coat rack. "Happy whatever, Danny."

Danny smiles and pulls him into a real hug, enveloping Casey in the strength of his arms and the new cologne. Casey pats Danny's back and breaks away. "I'm gonna get my coat, Danny, and I'm going to Dana's gift by her door, and I am going to go home." He starts buttoning his coat. "Hey, you wanna come by tomorrow? Like, noon, we can have lunch and stuff before I take Charlie home."

"That'd be cool. I was gonna do my normal Christmas Day thing, you know, if you're interested after that." Danny's standing in the door, holding his DVD against his chest.

"That would be going to movies to torment the Gentiles forced to work on this holy day?"

Danny nods and grins. "You know it."

Casey rubs his forehead. "Works for me. We'll let Charlie choose the first movie, right?"

Danny laughs. "You know it. Like last year." He looks at the slip of paper on the floor. "You got that girl's number? From the other day?"

Casey puts the paper on the desk. "Yes. Yes, I did. I keep thinking Dana will stop acting like..." He frowns.

"Like a space cowboy?" Danny laughs again. Casey frowns and starts to say something, but Danny turns around and walks out to the newsroom to sit next to Jeremy.

Lisa never let him pick out the jewelry he bought her. She would leave out ads with things circled or pull him into jewelry stores and point at things as the holidays approached. She never trusted him to surprise her with the right things. He learned to ask or wait for him to tell her. He wonders if Dana will like her Lion King T-shirt.

Casey grabs Dana's gift and walks out of the office. He stops in the doorway and tries to remember the last time he went to church. He and Lisa only went on the holidays, struggling to get Charlie into his dress clothes and sitting on either side of him while he squirmed and tugged at his little bow tie. There was never dancing.

He walks back into the office and grabs the slip of paper with the girl with the weird name's number on it. He puts it in his pocket. He walks to Dana's office and puts the gift on the floor outside her door. Inside, he hears Kyle laughing. Casey smiles. Dana's a good girl, Casey thinks. He touches his pocket and feels the slip of paper and thinks, also insane. A good girl and also insane.

He walks by Jeremy and Danny and sees Jeremy has his calculator out. He smells Danny again and stops. "Hey, Danny, is that a new cologne?"

Danny looks up, confused. "Uh, no. It's no cologne at all. I guess that's new." He grins rakishly and winks at Casey. "I didn't think you'd notice, Casey."

Casey rolls his eyes and walks to the elevator. So he was just smelling make-up remover and normal Danny things. He remembers Danny smelling like stale cigarettes when they first met, and after he quit smoking, smelling like his cologne. Casey rubs his forehead again. No Midnight Mass, no praying, no stories, no Dana, and now he's going home to his sad little tree to wait for morning and Charlie. And Danny.


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