Disclaimer:  Don't own it.  Don't claim to.  Don't plan to.  Don't sue.  Also, Stacy X will not be making an appearance in this fic, due to a restraining order issued by Nightcrawler.  What a shame… we can only imagine what… er… amusements she would have brought to this little story.

Elly and The Gundam Wing Fan present:

Mutant Tennis!

            Ah, tennis: a lovable sport available to all sorts of folk thanks to its relative low-cost, availability, and simplicity to pick up.  ARGH, tennis: a frustrating sport thanks to its difficulty to master.  It sometimes seems like you'd need a super power in order to win.  Don't fool yourself.  These guys would still beat you.

            Chapter 1: Keep Your Eye On The Ball

            The felt-covered ball made a satisfyingly hollow sound as it made contact with the girl's over-sized racquet.  It flew over the net, landing right on the line on the other side of the court, narrowly being missed by another, smaller racquet.

            "Point conceded, Kitten." Ororo returned to the service position behind the court.  "That's thirty serving fifteen."

            Kitty wiped her brow indifferently, and then crouched in anticipation for the next serve.  Ororo tossed a ball into the air, traced a line down her spine with the head of the racquet, then snapped it frontward to catch the ball squarely on its descent.  Her loose sleeves trailed behind the sudden movement of her arms, reminiscent of the cape she wore when taking the identity of Storm.

            Kitty misjudged the hit, accidentally stepping into the ball's way.  Too late to make any helpful adjustments, she phased.  The ball bounced harmlessly through her middle.  Better than sporting a bruise the next day, she supposed.  "You're hitting too hard!" She called impatiently.  "I'm still learning!"

            Ororo retrieved another ball.  "What better way to learn than to be presented with a challenge?  I think you'll find you're quite capable of returning these… with a little concentration."

            "I just think our time would be better spent in the danger room.  This game isn't improving my reflexes as much as you said it would." Kitty replied, swinging her large purple racquet through thin air to test her aim.

            "Perhaps if you gave it more of your attention?" Ororo prepared to serve again.  "Forty, fifteen."  She let loose with a more angled strike, easing up on the power a bit.

            Kitty lined herself up properly this time, taking a weak swing at the ball.  The moment she hit it, she knew it would be an easy return for Storm.  She mentally cursed herself for not being more competitive.

            Surprisingly, Storm did not return the ball.  She watched it pass by, staring blankly and then nodding absently.  Her eyes had a faraway glaze Kitty recognized, mostly because she was visited by the same spells herself.

            "Professor X?" Kitty asked.

            Ororo hesitated for half a minute, and then it seemed her telepathic communication with the X-Men's leader was over.  "Yes.  He was seeing if we were up for a training session in the danger room."

            "Oh, yes!" Kitty exclaimed, dropping her racquet down.  "Guess we can't finish the game, then." She shrugged in fake disappointment, unable to hide the relief on her face.  Apparently, Shadowcat wasn't much of a tennis enthusiast.

            "On the contrary." Storm said with dignity.  "I explained to the Professor how valuable it is for an X-Man to enjoy activities that don't include such pressure as the danger room.  He agreed with me."

            Kitty slumped, but didn't pick up the abandoned racquet.  "Ororo!  Why'd you go and do that?"

            Storm bounced a tennis ball against the court, catching and re-bouncing it with graceful wrist motions.  "Don't be so disappointed, Kitten.  Tennis can be very enjoyable with the right mindset."

            "I guess I don't have the right mindset, then."

            "Would that be the case if Peter joined us for some practice?"

            It was as if a light was lit beside Shadowcat's face.  Her annoyed features softened, and her uninterested eyes grew wider.  "Huh?  I don't think Peter is much of a tennis person."

            "Neither are you, but you are here.  The Professor and I decided playing sports would be an excellent focus of energies for the entire team.  They will be here shortly."

            Kitty plucked her racquet off the court.  "Well, what are we waiting for?  Teach me some stuff quick!  I can't be such a klutz in front of… uh… in front of the team!"

            Storm gave a thin smile.  "Forty, thirty."

            The serve was a much easier version than the previous ones, but though Kitty Pryde gave it her earnest best, she missed the ball by a solid foot.  She realized the sudden surge of excitement must have fouled her judgment.

            "Game, set, and match." Storm made a laugh that sounded like wind chuckling through treetops.  "I believe the most important thing I could teach you before the 'team' gets here is to keep from being so distracted." She gave the younger girl a motherly wink.  "Do you think you can remember to keep your eye on the ball when Peter gets here?"

            Kitty's face flushed.  "Of course, Ororo!  You make me sound like some silly high school girl!"


            "What!?" She hadn't meant to bark the word like that.

            "You are a high school aged girl."

            Shadowcat put a fist to her waste, still clutching the racquet handle in it.  "Well I know that.  My point was I'm not that silly!"

            "Just consider my advice.  You said yourself you don't want to make a fool of yourself."