And They Played Merry Hell With Christmas...!
DISCLAIMER: Every character in here is Marvel's, and belongs to them. If there were any profit being made from this story, it would be theirs, but there isn't.
PERMISSIONS: Please do not MST. But you can pop up.
FEEDBACK: Encouraged wholeheartedly as long as there are no flames.
ARCHIVE: Permissions apply as usual -- carte blanche, go ahead. Otherwise, please ask.
DEDICATION: To Mitai, who asked me to write this one.
"Mum! Mum, look! It's snowin'! The verra first snowfall of the winter! An' so close t' Christmas!" Rahne's voice, even through the intercom, was audibly full of joy and childlike wonder.
Moira MacTaggart looked up from her computer, pausing only to save her work before toggling to one of the complex's cameras. The screen showed her lacy, fat flakes of silvery-white, drifting lazily down from a sky grey with pregnant clouds. ~Hmph. So it is. Did Rahne say Christmas? Bloody hell, where has the year gone?~ She thumbed the intercom. "So 'tis, Rahne, m'love. I b'lieve it's high time for a walk, hm? What say ye?"
"Whee! I'll get m'muffler, an' meet ye out front!"
Moira found the corners of her mouth turning up into a smile at the exuberance in Rahne's voice. ~Glad I am that she decided to stay here on Muir with her old mummy, 'stead o' goin' off t' the States wi' Kitty, Peter an' Kurt.~
She laced her fingers over her head, stretched, and ran tired fingers through her auburn hair. Then, with resolve, she slipped off the lab coat. She thumbed the intercom once more on her way out the door. "Verra well then, Rahne. I'll meet ye out front wi' mugs o' hot cocoa faer the both of us."
~Bless her heart,~ Moira thought, turning to walk up the long hallway separating her laboratory from her bedroom. ~She means t' make sure I dinnae work m'self t'grey hair an' old age.~ Moira found herself gusting a wistful sigh and wearing a wry smile as she entered her bedroom.
The wardrobe was full of her customary Muir Island Research Laboratory lab suits -- and naught else. She honestly couldn't remember when the last time had been that she'd worn something normal and mundane. ~When Excalibur still lived here, surely, but has it been *that* long already?~
Apparently it had. It took searching through two of her trunks before Moira unearthed suitable clothing. She changed into a red turtleneck, a pair of warm, grey woolen trousers, and shrugged a thick cable knit fisherman's sweater on over the entire thing before donning a comfy old blue peacoat that had once belonged to Joe. She then bent and wriggled her socked feet into a pair of mukluks that Meggan and Brian had given her several Christmases previous. She sighed with contentment; the things, although bulky and odd-looking, were warm as toast against Muir's brutal winter weather, and more comfortable than any other footwear she owned.
After a stop in the kitchen that was a bit longer than she intended, she headed out to the front of the complex. "Hullo, luv!" She called out to Rahne who had changed into her wolf-form and was frolicking like a pup in the snow. In her mittened hand, she offered a steaming mug of cocoa; it was topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a curl of shaved chocolate. A cinnamon stick leaned jauntily against the edge.
Rahne whirled around, kicking up snow with her back paws, and darted behind one of the rocks. She emerged a second later in her human form, winding the long gold and green muffler around her neck. She sprinted the rest of the way to Moira's side and accepted the cup, giving her mother a grateful kiss.
"Ye always have loved winter's first snow, poppet," Moira smiled over the rim of her cup. "It makes me verra happy t'see ye this way -- like ye havena a care in the world."
"I havena," Rahne answered with slightly-exaggerated gravity. "I'm wi' ye, Mummy, an' we're t'gether here."
"I sense a 'but' in yuir voice, child."
Rahne flushed. "Ye always can tell when there's somethin' on m'mind." But she smiled. "I've been thinkin' it would do ye a bit o' good t'get off the island for the holidays. Ye've been spendin' too much of yuir time workin' on the cure for the Legacy virus." She licked whipped cream off her upper lip, expression hesitant and pensive. She took a deep breath and continued. "I know it's important t'ye, Mummy, but honestly -- cannae Dr. McCoy manage wi'out ye for a wee bit? F'r heaven's sake, Mummy -- it's Christmastime!"
"Ye have a point, Rahne, m'dear. An' a fine point it is. I did promise ye a while back that I'd try t' live a wee bit an' not dedicate m'self solely t' m'work. It's high time I honored that promise." Moira nodded solemnly, then smiled as Rahne did. "What would ye like t'do then, for our holiday, hm?"
Rahne brushed a hand through her shock of red hair and sipped her cocoa thoughtfully. "Och, Mummy, it'd be lovely t'see Guido, Jamie, an' Julio again. But all m'friends are scattered t' the winds. Sam sent me a lovely card. He says Dani an' all the others in X-Force are doin' well."
"But ye miss yuir friends an' ye'd like t' throw a wee party, then?" Moira arched one brow slowly.
"Och, yes, if it wouldnae be tae much trouble."
"Oh, I think arrangements could be made." She wound an arm around Rahne's shoulders and snugged her close. "But first we must needs go t'the mainland. We'll need a tree -- holly, ornaments ... we've a lot t'do then, havenae we?" She smiled broadly as Rahne's eyes lit in response to her words. "We'd best call out faer a boat, then -- since we've no Midnight Runner t'take us!"
"Cannae we call Meggan an' Brian? I'd fain invite them as well," Rahne replied, bounding eagerly ahead of her mother as they returned to the complex building.
"Aye...I suppose we can at that," Moira chuckled. "I've a few phone calls t'make, then. I'd best order out f'the party fare."
Rahne hid a smile of relief behind her hand, then hugged Moira tightly and ran off toward her own room.
* * * * *
Jamie Madrox smacked himself in the foreheadhead with the telephone, having miscalculated the distance from the nightstand to his ear. "OW."
Consequently, it was another Jamie who answered the phone instead. "Hello? Do you have any idea what time it is?" He looked at the clock on the nightstand so he would know himself: 3:15 A.M.
"Bloody hell. I completely forgot, Jamie. It's Moira."
"Oh, well, hello, stranger! I can blow off going back to sleep for a while. Whaddaya need?" Jamie nudged the original Jamie who had indeed fallen asleep, and motioned him to put his ear to the phone.
"Well, it's only that wee Rahne wants a proper party faer Christmas an' all. An' I'm quite willin' of the spirit t'do it -- but..."
"I get you," Jamie answered solemnly. "You need help? I'm your multiple man."
"Yui're a saint, Jamie."
"I know. Just make sure I get something nice in my stocking, huh?"
"Silly boy. Whae I need from ye first off is faer ye t'find Rictor. Rahne asked faer him by name."
"Oh, sure, not *me*," Jamie pouted dramatically.
"She asked faer ye too, I assure ye," Moira laughed. "Just see about roundin' him up -- an' Guido Carosella while yui're at it, hm?"
"Can I bring friends to this Holiday Hoedown?"
"The more the merrier, as they say," Moira laughed. "I've a mission of me own t'undertake. So yui're m'little Christmas Elf, Jamie. Dinnae let me down."
Jamie gulped at the steel in Moira's voice. "No ma'am."
"Verra good. I'm countin' on ye."
Jamie and Jamie sighed, and the original Jamie took off his pajamas. "Okay, no point in both of us losing sleep. I'll call Westchester after a shower and see if they can track Rictor with Cerebro or something. You can tell Kyle, Shard, and Guido in the morning that we're spending Christmas in Scotland."
* * * * *
"Och, Sam, did I call ye too late?"
"Nah, Rahne, s'only just gettin' on midnight here on the west coast. How you doin', girl? You sound all bubbly."
"Aye! I got Lady Moira t'agree t' have a Yule Party here on Muir Isle an' she said I could invite anyone I wish."
"Thanks, Rahne -- ah'm glad you thought of me." Sam's smile was genuine and warm. "Ah'd love to come."
"Och, Sam, really? 'Tis wonderful t'hear! But could I also ask ye a wee small tiny favour?" Rahne's excitement was coming right over the phone line -- and so was her sincerity. Whatever favor she wanted, Sam found himself thinking, it was fairly important to her.
"Ah'll help out any way ah can, Red -- you know that," Sam assured her. "What's the plan?"
Rahne squealed with delight and began burbling away rapidly her idea to Sam.
* * * * *
"Meggan, luv!" Moira turned and barely had time to brace herself before Meggan Braddock barreled into her at top speed for a hug. "Och, I'm glad t'see you too, lass, but yui're goin' tae crush m'ribs!"
Meggan chuckled sheepishly. "Brian's still in London shopping for my Christmas pressie. He said it's a surprise, and I'm not to peek. So it was just perfect timing that you called, Moira -- I was about to go mad with curiosity as to what it could possibly be!"
Moira laughed. "Good then. Can ye take me back into London, then? I've an old friend I need to look up an' a wee bit of shoppin' t'do myself."
"Lovely! Be sure to bundle up, though -- it's rather chilly outside, what with the snow and all."
Moira pulled on a parka and tied the hood tightly beneath her chin. "I'm ready when ye are, lass!"
Meggan giggled, lifted her bare feet off the floor, scooped Moira up into her arms, and flew off the way she had come through the window of Moira's bedroom.
Up the hall, a note tacked on the kitchen bulletin board informed Rahne that Moira had called Meggan to take her shopping in London.
Rahne came out a few minutes later, phone still in her hand, read the note and breathed a sigh of relief. "Good, then she willnae miss me when Sam arrives."
* * * * *
The wonderful thing about Jamies, the Madrox a wonderful thing! 'Cause twenty are makin' the phone calls, the other one's learning to swing! They're lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of fun, fun, fun The wonderful, wonderful thing about Jamies is ... ...there's always another one!
Jamie realized that if he was randomly rewriting A.A. Milne's poetry, he was getting punchy from lack of sleep. But he had promised Moira he wouldn't let her down. And truthfully, he was rather fond of Rahne as well -- and any amount of trouble would be worth it to see her face light up.
He had gone through his entire phone book...and Guido's. And Kyle's.
Polaris hadn't seen Rictor in ages. Neither had X-Force, and apparently Rahne had already asked there anyway, sorry. They were already looking for him without success.
He had even, in desperation, broken down and called Val Cooper. Even with her government connections, she had no recent data on where Rictor might be. Even Shard's hacker skills and her 'friend' Fixx's psionic faeries (Jamie didn't even ask what *that* meant) had come up short.
Desperate, Jamie finally broke down and asked Kyle if he could sniff out the elusive mutant Rahne just *had* to have at her party. Kyle had suggested Guido ask Lila Cheney -- which had earned the Canadian a cold burrito in the face from his roommates.
* * * * *
"Och, 'Berto, it was so *sweet* of ye to send yuir private jet tae fly me to the States."
"Menina, it was my pleasure," Roberto DaCosta replied. "It has been far too long since I had occasion to gaze upon your beauty."
"Hush," Rahne blushed, batting playfully at Roberto's shoulder. "Dinnae say such things, however flatterin' they may be. 'Tis a sin."
Roberto rolled his eyes playfully but Rahne laughed. "Och, I'm only fashin' ye, Roberto. Kitty taught me that flirtin' was nae such a verra bad thing before she returned tae Westchester."
"And you're picking her up for this Christmas party?"
Rahne nodded, eyes a-twinkle. "Aye, among others. Piotr, for one -- and a special surprise for Mummy, for another."
Roberto raised one eyebrow, intrigued. "Why, Rahne Sinclair, you have developed a sneaky side!"
Rahne giggled behind her hand.
"I approve," Roberto teased, kissing her cheek. "Moira could use this party as much as you."
Sam nodded. "We all could. How'd ya talk her into it, Rahne?"
"'Twas oddly easy, Sam. I think she wanted t'be talked intae it." Rahne shrugged. "'Tis fine with me, since I dinnae haveta 'splain t'Lady Moira why you two lads flew all the way here to Muir just because I asked ye."
"Hey -- Christmas is for surprises and being good to your loved ones. What good is it to be rich if I can't help out a friend once in a while?" Roberto asked, tipping his champagne flute back.
* * * * *
Theresa Wilson, formerly Roarke Cassidy, came in with her one year old daughter Maeve Mercedes on one hip, and the other arm filled with groceries and Christmas shopping. The phone was ringing quite insistently, as she finally managed to get the key in the lock and open the door to her comfortable San Francisco home. (It had been called the Deadhut only a year ago -- but well, a woman's touch can make habitable even the worst bachelor pad.)
She set her daughter down on the overstuffed sofa, and dove for the phone, gliding the last of the way on her sonic scream. The windows rattled but held. The house had endured far more harrowing conditions than this. "Hullo?"
"Terry? Terry Roarke?"
"Jamie Madrox!" Terry sat, and little Maeve toddled over, trailing her long red ponytails.
"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! You're my only hope!" Jamie bawled into the phone.
Terry laughed, then asked Jamie what he was on about. On the floor, little Maeve pulled out the rifle scope Terry had bought her husband for their anniversary. "No, no, baby...!" She plucked the shiny thing away from her little girl, and listened to Jamie. "Rictor? No, I have no idea where he is. But I could ask Wade."
"Yes, Wade. You remember him. Used to be a mercenary."
"You are on a first name basis with DEADPOOL?"
"Jamie, luv, where've you *been* for the past year? I *married* him." Terry heard a thump on the end of the line. "Jamie?"
"New Jamie," Jamie said into the phone. "The one you were talking to fell off his chair and passed out, generating me on the way down. Where were we again?"
Terry chuckled, and promised this Jamie to tell *that* Jamie that she'd ask Wade if he could find Rictor.
* * * * *
There was a knock at the door.
Pete Wisdom ignored it.
A few seconds later, the knock repeated -- a bit more insistently.
Pete Wisdom turned up his television and upended the bottle of scotch. The room around him was a wreck -- much like Wisdom's own mental state. While the TV was blasting away reruns of DYNASTY, there was no way to see it through the thick cloud of cigarette smoke Pete was producing through chainsmoking.
The knock at the door repeated again -- with a vengeance.
"BUGGER OFF!" Wisdom yelled.
"Pete bloody Wisdom, ye lousy besotted spalleen, if ye dinnae open this bloody door, I'll bloody well kick it down!"
The voice was familiar...but it was the accent and phrasing that cut through Wisdom's haze of self-pity and alcohol. "Moira? What the bloody hell are you doing here, woman?"
"Bloody well freezin' my arse off, if ye dinnae open the door like I told ye!"
Wisdom levered himself off the sofa, and opened the door. It took a few seconds for the brisk winter air to clear the smoke from the room so he could see Moira.
"Dinnae *tell* me ye hae been sittin' here in yuir flat all this time feelin' sorry for yuirself since ye left Muir Island!" Moira pushed past him and entered the flat, without waiting for him to invite her.
"No," Wisdom muttered half-heartedly, "Only the last bit. I spent the first week or two at the pub feelin' sorry for meself."
"Bloody damned idiot," Moira smirked, stalking to the far end of the room to open a window and permit some cross-ventilation. "Why are ye sittin' *here* wastin' time when ye could bloody well hae gone *after* the woman if ye love her?!" She shook her head. "Ye really are as much a fool as I called ye."
"Thanks so much, Moira, luv, it's a joy t'see you too," Wisdom growled bitterly. "Did you come all the way to London just to share this *brilliant* insight with me, then?"
"No, actually, take a shower, a shave, and pack a bag. Ye're comin' back t'Muir wi' me for a Christmas party. Rahne wants one, an' God knows why, but she wants ye there."
"No bloody way, you Scots harridan. No. Bloody. Way. I'm not spendin' the night drinkin' your swill coffee, and watchin' Rahne chirp out 'God bless us, everyone!' all night long. And I am especially not gonna lurk in the shadow of the tree, watchin' everyone make merry. I can drown me sorrows just fine right *here.* Bah bloody humbug."
Moira simply smirked. "No coffee, Pete. M'word on that." She paused pensively. "Now...if that's not enough enticement, consider this: ye can come along quietly, or I can kick ye in the bollocks an' drag yuir mewlin' carcass back by the hair."
Pete's eyes widened. "You would, wouldn't you...?"
"Damn right I would, lad."
Wisdom muttered something best unrepeated and went to pack his bag.
* * * * *
Monet St. Croix looked down her aristocratic nose at Sam Guthrie, Roberto DaCosta, and Rahne Sinclair, as she opened the door. "Do come in." ~All we need is more people who can join Jubilee in 'when I was an X-Man' stories...~
"Paige!" Sam called, capitalizing on the opportunity Rahne's plan afforded him to see his kid sister.
"SAM?" Paige called from upstairs. "SAM!" She ran from the girls' wing, and raced down the stairs, to swing into her brother's embrace. "Nobody told me you were comin'!"
"Well, 'course not, Paige. Wouldn't'a been much of a surprise if Miz Frost had, now would it?" He hugged Paige in return and handed her a little red-wrapped box. "Ain't much, but ah didn't forget ya. Figured ah'd deliver it in person instead'a mailin' it." He winked. "We ain't got but a few minutes. Bobby's jet's gonna fly us to Westchester, where we gotta pick up Kitty an' Peter.
"Christmas party -- no offense t' y'all here in Generation X, but, well, Rahne an' Moira are invitin' those they know best." Sam blushed. "Where are mah manners? Rahne Sinclair, mah sister, Paige Guthrie."
Rahne shook Paige's hand and smiled through a faint blush. "Sam, yuir sister's welcome tae come as well if she likes."
"That's okay, Miss Sinclair," Paige said, "We're having a little bit of a party here, since Artie, Leech, Angelo, Jubilee and Jono don't have much in the way of family."
"That's verra kind o' ye," Rahne said with her usual earnest sincerity. "Ye'll forgive me, though, if I havetae borrow yuir headmaster for a wee tad bit."
"Sean?" Paige raised one brow. "It's not up to me."
"It's not up to him either," Rahne winked. "Come along, 'Berto. Sam." She lifted her chin, still smiling wickedly, and shifted into her halfling form. She followed Sean's scent to his office. Behind her, Sunspot powered up, shifting to the all-black power signature form.
* * * * *
"Is it not a holiday for this planet's people? Is that not why there are so many odd adornments in the streets and the stores, and -- well, everywhere? Za's vid, my friend -- you cannot turn anywhere without seeing a bow or that round person in the red suit."
"Si, Shatterstar, it's Christmas."
"Does not that mean that we should be home among friends, celebrating?"
"Si, technically it does."
"Yeah, but our friends are not around, an' we got way too much work to do down here." Rictor motioned his companion to silence for a moment as the two of them landed lightly on the roof of a house. "You know my family," he continued in a lower voice. "You know I swore I wouldn't rest 'til I took them down and cleared our name."
Shatterstar nodded, and pulled his double-bladed vibro-sword free. "Yes, but you have done nothing else since we left X-Force. You barely sleep, you barely eat. Za's vid, Julio -- you will lose to your enemy through neglecting yourself!"
"All right, all right. We'll rest tomorrow. I'll teach you about Christmas and we can go get dinner at a decent restaurant, okay?"
Shatterstar smiled. "Well, you said it would be good for me to learn Earth culture and customs, yes?"
Rictor sighed. "Si, si. Can we talk about this *later*?" Without giving Shatterstar an opportunity to respond, Rictor activated his power and broke the roof beneath their feet. The two of them dropped down into the room below, prepared to fight any of his uncle's bravos had survived the falling rock and plaster.
"I'd say you fell for it," laughed a voice over a loudspeaker.
"Mierda! A trap!" Rictor growled, as the room flooded with knockout gas.
"I told you...we should ... have taken...the day off..."
_ _ _
Rictor woke to a flare of pain in his head -- residuals from the gas. He brought his training to bear on sheer instinct, allowing himself to remain limp and relaxed while he permitted his other senses to bring him data.
Even breathing beside him indicated Shatterstar was most likely beside him but still unconsicous. He felt a weight at his throat -- a power inhibitor. Whoever had ambushed them had done their homework. Getting out of this one would be a challenge. He opened his eyes to survey his surroundings and plan for an escape when Shatterstar awoke.
In front of him stood a hooded figure wearing a skull mask. Bunched muscles were covered in garish chainmail, and crested by a cloak. On his right arm shone a shield like Captain America's, except emblazoned with a stylized letter 'T.'
"Who the hell are you?" Rictor blinked, frowning.
"You don't know who I am?" his captor said, genuinely incredulous.
"Not a clue," Rictor said, shaking his head. "But you know enough about me to put an inhibitor on me. You did your homework. Pretty impressive, amigo."
"Thanks. They don't call me the Taskmaster for nothing." He drew his sword and moved to point it at Rictor's throat. "I'd stay longer and enjoy trading witty banter with you but it's Christmas -- and I have a party to get to."
Rictor lifted his chin bravely. ~If I die, I die proudly.~
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," said another voice from the shadows. There was a dull THUD behind the Taskmaster. He grunted in surprise and pain, then his eyes rolled up behind his mask and he went down in a heap. "That's for cutting off my finger, bullethead."
Rictor opened one eye, then the other. "Who are you?"
"Wade Wilson. You Rictor?"
"Good. I'm here to take you out of here."
"Gracias. Who sent you?"
"I didn't know she even knew where I was!"
Deadpool shrugged, turning to finger the controls that released Rictor and Shatterstar's manacles. "I love my wife and my wife loves me but she promised some guy I don't even know that you'd be at this Christmas party. So I gotta make sure you show up at this Christmas party or I don't get no hot Siryn love wail. And it's my anniversary. So I am gonna GET my hot Siryn love wail, dig me?"
Rictor had to smile in spite of himself. "Si, I dig you, amigo." He rubbed at his wrists and hoisted the still-unconscious Shatterstar onto one shoulder.
"Good. Merry Christmas, kid." Deadpool slapped the activator on his teleport beltbuckle, and the three of them were transported instantly to Muir Island.
"Hi, Special Delivery to Miss Rahne Sinclair!" Deadpool called, shoving Rictor and Shatterstar forward into the arms of a bewildered Brian Braddock. "Thanks, no tip necessary, Merry Christmas!" And with that, he was gone, leaving the former Captain Britain to stare in bewilderment at the two newcomers.
"Moira asks me to house-sit and make sure the crew she hired for Christmas decorating did a good job....I shuld've known it wouldn't be that simple." He shook his head, smiled, and turned to Rictor. "Can I get you anything?"
* * * * *
Kitty Pryde and Piotr Rasputin stepped aboard the jet that had landed in the hangar bay. "Rahne, it's a wonderful idea that you threw a party -- and it'll be even nicer to visit Muir Island without there being some emergency or another." Chanukah had already come and gone, and Kitty had already made the customary phone calls to each parent.
"Aye, Lady Moira agreed -- it's been t'long since we've seen each other, an' thae must needs change. We really must change this awful habit o' only gettin' taegether in times o' crisis."
"Um, one thing, Rahne -- how are we goin' to get back to Muir without a Blackbird?"
Roberto looked offended. "Did you really think I'd have flown here in a jet incapable of SST speeds? Really, Kitty." He winked, to show her he wasn't serious. "Strap in, though. The takeoff does give you a little jolt."
* * * * *
Moira returned home, weighed down with bags and packages. Given the list of names Rahne had come up with, she had had an awful lot of work and shopping to do. She was grateful for Meggan's childlike tirelessness. Moira was certain she'd never have survived to get home without her.
"The house looks lovely, Brian. Thank ye most kindly faer overseein' the decorations."
"It was my pleasure," Brian said, winding an arm around his wife's waist. "The guests have already started to arrive, y'know. But Rahne hasn't returned yet herself."
Moira frowned at that, but dismissed it. "I know she said she had shoppin' of her own t'do." ~Besides, I did send her along t'get Kitty. The lass'll just have t' forgive me my hubris this one time.~
There ensued thereafter moments of tearful happy reuinions as Moira hugged Rictor and Shatterstar, then Jamie and Guido. They introduced their roommate Kyle Dibney, and his girlfriend Shard -- who introduced *herself* as Bishop's sister.
The food was delivered not long after Moira had excused herself to change into something festive, and the music began piping through from the PA system. The fire was lit by Lockheed, who then settled into the enormous Christmas tree and vanished amongst the ornaments.
* * * * *
"Mummy, it's a fabulous party," Rahne whispered conspiratorily to Moira, once everything had finally gone into full swing. Over in the corner, Pete Wisdom and Kitty Pryde were in a clinch they'd started within five minutes of laying eyes on each other.
"I dinnae know how ye found Rictor but I'm so glad ye did!" She blushed and glanced over at him; he was gazing at her with doe eyes -- their spark of their youthful crush fanned to the beginnings of a flame.
"I'm glad it makes ye happy, child," Moira replied, squeezing her daughter's shoulder. "Nae g'wan wi' ye. There's mistletoe over there. Ye must be givin' the lad a kiss."
Rahne grinned broadly and for once, scampered off to Rictor's side without a shy protest.
"May I have this dance?" asked a soft, Irish-accented tenor from behind Moira's ear.
Moira turned, and nearly dropped her cup of egg nog. "Sean?"
"Aye. Merry Christmas, Moira."
Moira turned to glower at her daughter. "Ye wicked, wicked child."
Rahne shrugged, mock-innocently; you could almost hear the cartoon halo springing into existence over her head.
Moira laughed, and turned into the arms of her love.
And Christmas -- for a great many mutants (and one very surprised human) -- was very, very merry.
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