Disclaimer:I own nothing in this story.
Summary: Marie's been trapped inside herself for a very long time. But Christmas is a time for miracles.
Rating: PG

Too Much Wrapping Paper

Muffled shouts echoed across the large courtyard of the school. Stone walls dusted in white, trees iced with snow, created an ethereal and magical atmosphere outside the school.

An atmosphere destroyed by the rampaging children caught up in a spontaneous midnight snowball fight. An atmosphere heightened by the se of gifts that seemed like magic.

Rogue sat in one of the mansion numerous window seats, watching the snowballs flying above the ground, seeing dark blurs of children racing over the snow, blinking at the bright flashes of gifts, and she sat there listening to so much joy. And she sat there wondering where Marie had gone.

Rogue was cold, aloof, safely hidden from the world by a gift that could not, would not be shut off.

Marie snuggled into warm jackets and let comfort seep through layers of woollen coats.

Rogue flirted with coy glances, wore tight shirts and long gloves. She was cruel, so cruel. If she couldn't have her own body, no one could. If it proclaimed itself as a hostile weapon, she'd use it as a weapon. Defiance seeped through the skin revealed by short sleeves, low necks.

Marie wore long sleeve shirts and hair in a ponytail, pants for comfort, cover. She grinned softly and shyly. She bounced when she smelled cigars, she laughed at gruffness knowing it was a mask. Her grin lit up her eyes when hair was ruffled, even though, because, her scalp was just as dangerous as her palms.

Rogue never grinned, but oh how she smirked.

And it was Rogue that had been sitting in the window, watching the softly falling snow settle into the bottom of window panes. and it was Rogue who had forgotten to how to see the beauty in it.

A sigh breathed out a cloud of mist onto the panes. She cast dark eyes around the brightly lit common room of the junior team members. A Christmas tree glimmered in a corner, gifts wrapped in all sorts of haphazard papers.

Garlands wreathed a fireplace, and small white lights faded in and out in a gentle pattern among the greenery. Marie, she reflected a longingly, would have loved it. Southern belle to the core, snow was something of a precious commodity.

Tonight, Rogue could Marie knocking politely to be let in, there was something in the air that brought her near the surface, let her peep through the mask of gloves and glances. Rogue tonight wore a comfortable sweater, and soft thin gloves that reached to her wrists. Everyone was outside near the institute's lake under the joyful supervision of the older X-Men. Marie could be let out inside, in private. Where she could think about the one person who hadn't ever been scared to touch her, the person who had the ability to let Marie out. The one person who forgot that she was Rogue and had poisonous skin. Who forgot she was beautiful and untouchable and fascinating.

She drew a frowning face in the condensation caused by her warm breath on the window.

The shouts from below grew thunderous through the snow and dark, then faded. They were suddenly drowned out by a roar. Scott was back on his bike, her mind idly catalogued the noise that created the fever pitch of shouts rising now.

Dark eyes flashed, an irrational hope sprang up in her chest. Marie began pounding to be let out. Rogue rose and peered down; she pressed her face to the window. Scott has arrived back earlier tonight. She knew this quite simply because there had been no escaping the sounds of joy that had echoed down the halls from Scott and Jean's quarters in the teachers wing.

Dark blurs were obscured by thick snow, clustered around a motorcycle, not meant for wintertime. But like all X-Men vehicles, it had modified and super-fied beyond the normal capabilities of everyday vehicles.

Fog clouded the window as she breathed faster and she rose on her knees higher. She couldn't see. Dammit! Snow! At Christmas! They had it right at home, less snow. She didn't' even wonder why she called someplace else home; Rogue's home was the mansion. Marie's was south.

She rolled off the seat, and flew to the double doors of the common room, flinging them open with a twist of her hands.

Irrational! Unreasonable! He wouldn't have come! Rogue yelled. He hasn't been back in years, why would he come now! To hope means to be disappointed! Stop! Stop!

Marie paid no heed. She flew past a flushed and snow covered Jean on her way up stairs to find Rogue.

"Rogue!" She called out as the dark hair woman streaked by. Unsure of what she was going to say, but compelled to speak nonetheless.

"Talk to you in a minute Jean! Ah've gotta be somewhere right now!"

Jean smiled gleefully as she heard the southern accent. Rogue had tried so hard to get rid of her accent; she'd cultivated a clipped, clear way of speech and deliberately lost the soft drawl of her early years at the mansion.

Rogue was out the doors and in the courtyard before Jean's look of glad surprise registered on her whirling mind.

Snow swirled around her outside, it flew beneath her feet, and it dusted her hair. But she knew nothing of the cold or snow. All Marie knew was that there was the smell of beer and cigars and warm man and she just had to get to it.

The children had somewhere else to be they realized, as the normally stoic and icy Rogue threw herself into the warm embrace of a leather jacket. The return of Wolverine would be hashed over in the morning hours. Ororo and Scott quickly herded the uncomplaining kids back into the school.

Marie felt strong, callused fingers brushing roughly through her hair as she sobbed happily into his chest.

"You came back." She murmured between hitching breaths.

Logan felt a lump in his throat as he clutched the bundle of warm woman to him. He turned wet eyes to the sky in an effort not to shed tears. He was the Wolverine and he did not cry. He didn't.

He saw coloured Christmas lights lining the eaves of the school and realized that while he'd been travelling, the holiday season had snuck up on him. "Marie..."

She hummed in response and raised joyful eyes to his.

"I didn't get you anything for Christmas." His apology for years of absence and silence was rough. She understood and dark eyes gleamed in answer.

Her voice was soft, full of more than words, "You did so. Ah've got the scent of you in mah nose to prove it."

He quirked a grin, the cocky fighter, the solitary maverick she knew and loved once more.

Marie chuckled in return and drew away (some) and shivered lightly in the cold as they made their way back into the school across snow covered grounds. She could feel it, the winter season of her soul had ended.

Laughter bubbled in her throat.

"So," He ruffled her hair affectionately "Didja miss me kid?"

AN: Written in response to a challenge by UKTara, who's X-Men fics are the shiznit and you should all go check them out. No betaing was used in the making of this story, due to the oneshot nature.

Reviews appreciated, flames made fun of in my LJ