Hey there everybody, I was cruising through a site of fan art and I found this one that inspired me so much. So I wrote a story based on it. So thank Rachel for her Lance centric entry on Leslie's Groovy site Christmas Wishes prompt. I wanted this up Christmas day but 24 took a little longer than I thought. So enjoy, read and review, and have a Happy set of Holidays.

Disclaimer: Let's see, digital camera, socks, jump drive, pringles, drawing stuff, Sims 2 Night Life...nope didn't get the Xmen for Christmas. Oh well, there's always next year.

Lance knew from the first shrill chirp of his alarm clock that today was gonna be a long day. He slammed the clock off and buried his head under his pillow with a groan. He decided then and there that he was going to sleep in today. Getting out of bed would mean facing the world, and that was just not something he wanted to do today.

That decided he set back to falling asleep. Just as his weary mind hit the point where it dropped into unconsciousness, something crashed through his wall and landed with a heavy thud on his floor. Lance sighed and removed his head from the warmth under his pillow to glance at Toad who was lying sprawled over the floor among the remains of what five minutes ago had been the wall separating Lance's room from Toad's.

"So what'd you do to her this morning?" He yawned.

"She caught me hanging mistletoe." Toad winced and shook his head to clear the rubble from his greasy hair. "Swear she has no holiday spirit, yo." The amphibious mutant grimaced in pain.

"Maybe it has to do with the fact that you were hanging it over her bedroom and she knew that you were going to wait outside her door until she came out and use that as an excuse to kiss her." Lance rolled his eyes.

Toad grinned guiltily. "But that ain't the point, yo! Can't I even catch a break at Christmas?"

Lance chuckled dryly. "She doesn't celebrate Christmas, buddy. So that probably won't make any difference."

Toad sighed. "I know, I know, she's Jewish and celebrates Chanukah but that's not the point. This time of year people is supposed to be cheery and friendly and all that crap."

Lance shrugged. "Not in her nature."

Toad looked very sad. "I know. I just wish...I wish she'd cut me a little slack, you know? Give me a chance."

"I wouldn't count on it, buddy." Lance cautioned. "She's..."

"Much too beautiful to waste her time on me?"

"That's not what I was going to say." Lance sighed. "I was going to say she's a stubborn little-"

"Hey donchu talk bout my woman that way!" Toad threatened.

"Ok Ok take it easy. I come in peace." Lance raised his arms, defeated. "Really I like Wanda, she's-"

"The most gorgeous woman in the universe." Toad finished.

"Not exactly my choice of words." Lance shrugged. "But hey, I'm not the one getting thrown through three bedrooms now am I?"

The younger boy chuckled nervously and glanced at the toad shaped hole in Lance's wall. "Uh...sorry about that."

Lance shrugged. "Don't worry about it. Now scram. I gotta get dressed and crap like that." He figured his plan had been foiled beyond repair at this point.

Toad hopped out and Lance grabbed a set of clothes that were less dirty than his others before getting dressed.

That done he dropped back to his bed, frowning. What was wrong with him? He felt vaguely depressed and that wasn't normal. As Toad had pointed out, usually people are happier around this time of year. He couldn't put his finger on a reason for his sudden blueness.

Sure money had been tight for a while, but now things were getting better. He had a part time job with the local mechanic, Wanda just got a job waiting tables at a fancy restaurant, and Freddy was playing the part of Santa at the Bayville Mall for the holidays. Their heat bill had been paid by an anonymous and very charitable donor. (Lance had every reason to believe Xavier had done it but none of the Brotherhood was complaining). So money couldn't be contributing to this state.

Lance thought hard trying to find something to explain his melancholy mood but failed in that attempt. He reached over to his dilapidated nightstand and grabbed the cordless phone. In times like this talking to Kitty helped a lot.

He dialed the number he knew so well he could easily dial it in a coma, feeling his heart swell with happiness at the mere thought of hearing his girlfriend's perky voice.

"Hello, you have reached Charles Xavier's school for gifted youngsters. How may I help you?"

Lance groaned. Of all the little Xavier's little trained lapdogs, of all the days in the calender year...why did Scott Summers have to answer the phone today? "Cut the crap, Summers. Nobody's buying it."

"What do you want Alvers?" Scott's sneer traveled through his voice.

Lance gritted his teeth, he didn't want to deal with this right now...or ever actually. "You aren't stupid. Figure it out." He half growled.

With that Summers set the phone down and Lance heard him walk off. After a few minutes Lance realized what had been done and he rolled his eyes.

"Oh real mature Summers!" Lance snapped, well aware Scott couldn't hear. "It's a good thing you're all the way across town right now or I'd knock the f-ing pole outta yer spandex clad-"

"H'llo?" A curious voice called into the phone.

Lance gulped. "Oh uh...hi Rogue."

"Ah was jus' passin' by an' Ah heard yellin' on the phone. Everythin' ok sugah?"

"Summers just did something particularly immature." He muttered.

"So what happened?"

"It's nothing." Lance lied. "Hey is Kitty free?"
There was a momentary pause. "Ya sure ya okay, sugah?"

"Yeah I'm fine. What's wrong?" He asked worried.

"Kit left a couple hours ago for home. She's gonna go an' spend the holidays with her folks. Y'all yapped on the phone last night so long Ah was sure she had ta have told ya that...Didn' she?"

Lance felt his heart sink again. "Yeah, she did." He sighed. His memory of last night him and he was none too happy about it. "I guess I forgot."

Rogue sounded sympathetic. "Ah'd love ta give ya their numbah so ya could call her there, but Kit couldn' even give it ta me. Her Daddy don' want any of her freak friends callin' and ruinin' their family time with a mission or anythin."

"That's fine." He said flatly. "I doubt they'd want me calling anyway. I didn't do so hot in the first impression stage, after all."

Rogue chuckled ironically. "She told me what happened. But she'll be home the after Chanukah ends."

"Thanks Rogue." He said gratefully.

"In the meantime, anythin' Ah can do ta help? Ya sound kinda...miserable."

"It's just an off day." Lance sighed. "I was hoping Kitty could cheer me up."

"Well Ah assure ya, Ah can fully relate ta the off day thing." She said honestly. "Aside from that, how y'all holdin' up at the boardin' house?"

"We're surviving." He said simply. "Wanda just got a job as a waitress at that restaurant down the street. And today's Freddy's last day as a mall Santa. Things are going good at work for me and somebody paid our heat bill for us. Oh and we think Toad has developed some kind of healing factor."

"What'd Wanda chuck him through now?" Rogue laughed.

"The wall in her room, both walls of his own room, and my wall."

"Ouch, what'd he do this time?"

"He was hanging mistletoe outside her bedroom door among other things." Lance rolled his eyes. "He's obsessed. But he's got to be developing a resistance to hex bolts."

"Or maybe she's been taking it easier on him." Rogue suggested.

"Huh?" Lance asked, confused. "Why would she do that? She hates him."

"Never mind." Rogue sighed. "All'a ya guys o'er there are helpless. So he's still botherin the po' gal?"

"Poor girl?" Lance blanched. "Are we talkin' bout the same Wanda here?"

"Hey, she may put up a strong face, but give the girl some credit...Her mom died when she was little, her own father chucked her into a nuthouse, and changed her memories. She's pretty messed up in the head."

"Granted, and I'm sure Toad sexually harassing her every waking second doesn't help either." He could swear she sighed the word 'clueless' but he couldn't be sure so he pretended she hadn't. "And then there's being genetically related to Pietro."

Rogue snorted. "Now if that ain' an excuse for her ta be bitchy, Ah don' know what is. Imagine, sharing DNA with that goon?"

Sudden Rogue cursed. "Blast it. Ah gotta go."

"What happened?"

"Ah just saw Remy tryin' ta sneak by an' Ah remembered that we have someplace ta be real soon."

"As in a date?" Lance asked relatively puzzled.

"Yeah." She sighed.

"Why's he sneaking around then?" Lance frowned. "Doesn't he usually use any excuse he can find to cling to you like saran wrap on bubblegum?"

"Tell ya the truth, Ah ain' exactly jumpin' for joy at the idea either. This is somethin' we gotta do."

"Uh oh. I'm not liking the sound of that." Possibilities ran through his head and considering the couple in question none of them would be impossible.

"Let's jus' say ma 'motha' picked now ta take on the sorta maternal role she ain't eva had." Rogue sounded disgusted. "She wants ta have Christmas wit' me an' Kurt, who of course is painfully delighted. Unfortunately Logan's flyin' him t' Germany in the X-jet so he'll get to spend Christmas eve dinner an' the rest of the Holidays wit' his adopted folks. Thus mah deah brotha an' his mother decided that the three of us, mind ya Ah didn' get asked bout this at all, would have Christmas Eve brunch here in Bayville."

"You sound less than thrilled about that...wait, the three of you?"

"Yeah well..." Rogue sounded a little uncomfortable. "She was coming to find me to tell me the glorious news and she found me...in the library makin' out with Remy." She muttered the last part, embarrassed. "An' followin' 'the talk' she decided he had ta come too so we can all discuss his intentions fo' me."

Lance swallowed a laugh. "So she invited him?"

"Not hardly. She threatened his ability to ever reproduce if he would not come." Rogue sounded pretty annoyed. "Though let the record show that she reminded us that if me an' him decide to ever 'reproduce' it better damn well be after there's a ring on my finger. And yes that was a nearly exact quote."

"Well, while I count my blessings that A. I don't have a mother to freak out like that, B. Kitty's parents don't even know we're dating, and C. I'm not dating you; I really do feel sorry for you."

He knew she'd be rolling her eyes if he could see her. "Only kidding, though I can see why Lebeau's a bit skittish to go on this er...date?"

"Yeah I guess, but he's being a big baby. He's already tried faking sick, pretending to get a call from his "poor sick Auntie Mattie" to come home and visit. Of course when she called five minutes later ta wish him a Merry Christmas an' Ah picked up that story was ruined. So he spent most of the morning hiding but now I've found him I better go."

"Yeah...have fun?" Lance sniggered.

"Thanks, Ah'll try." She sighed. "Merry Christmas, Lance."

"Merry Christmas, Rogue." He replied. "Bye."

"Bye." Rogue said gently. "Remy Lebeau git yer hide ova here right now! We gotta leave in fifteen-" She hung the phone up.

Lance sighed and pondered his conversation which had only succeeded in making him feel worse. He looked at the phone and whispered. "At least you have a mother who cares about you."

He threw the phone across the room as if it was the cause of his problems. Disgusted he stormed out of his room and down the hall. He paused momentarily in the kitchen, where Pietro and Wanda were arguing about something. Apparently Wanda, in her altered memories, couldn't see the harm in having Magneto over for a holiday meal, while Pietro seemed flat against it.

Lance sneered in disgust. "I'm going out." He called as he slammed the door behind him. His eyes lingered for a moment on his jeep, but he kept walking. He was out of gas and didn't have enough spare money to pay the high price for gas to spend the time driving pointlessly around. He figured the cold air might help him clear his head.

After a few minutes of enraged jogging, he slowed his pace to catch his breath. A few people were walking toward him on the sidewalk. A young woman held the hand of a young man with messy black hair. Upon his shoulders sat a little boy, dressed in blue winter clothes.

"Go faster daddy!" He cheered.

"Now now James, you don't want to fall off, do you?" The mother asked.

"Ah, I have him Gin. Don't worry so much." The father laughed. He smiled knowingly. "You did grow up to be just like your mother after all."

"Funny Harry. Funny." She rolled her eyes. The were level with Lance at this point. She smiled at him and the family continued on their way.

Lance felt like a stone had been dropped into his stomach. He sighed, misery wracking his spirits. His own father had never carried him up on his shoulder. He'd always been too drunk or suffering a hangover to even notice he had a son. He had died in a car crash when Lance was three. He took with him Lance's mother and the baby sister who hadn't been born yet. After that it was straight into foster care for Lance. And none of the foster fathers had even wanted him so they'd never bothered carrying him on their shoulders.

A bitter wind whipped through his scrawny frame and he shivered into his old tattered coat. He made a mental note to buy another one as soon as he got his next paycheck in. He trudged on, silently acknowledging his problem was no longer a mystery. After he had been walking for at least a couple hours he paused outside a house. He frowned sadly as he peeked in through the window.

"C'mon Cal, put the star on top of the tree." A woman with short blond hair coaxed the small boy her husband held up to the top of the Christmas tree.

The little boy, who couldn't have been any older than two blinked his big blue eyes before putting the tip of the star in his mouth and chewing on it.

His parent's laughed and his father pulled him in for a hug. "That goes on top of the tree silly." His mother wagged a finger at him. "You can't eat that."

"Mommy can I do it?" A little girl, just a bit older than Cal asked politely.

"Well since your brother is having a hard time with it, I don't see the problem." The woman smiled at her daughter.

"I'll need your mother to take Calvin." The girl's father grinned as the girl raised her arms to be lifted up. "Chlo, could you take him?"

"Sure Clark." She took her baby boy from his dad's arms.

"I thought Mommy's name was Lois." The little girl scrunched her nose.

"Only when mommy writes for the Daily Planet, Sweetie."

"Oh."

"Come on kiddo. Up you go." Clark swung the girl up onto his shoulders as she squealed in delight. "The faster we get this tree finished the sooner we can go visit Auntie Lana and Uncle Lex."

"Yay!" The little girl giggled. "And Alexander and Lily too?"

"Yea Alexander and Lily will be there too, Iris." Chloe laughed and ruffled her daughter's hair as the little girl was raised up to the tree and put the star up.

"Now that's a Christmas tree." Clark smiled. "Well done Iris."

Lance looked away deciding their holiday decorations were too bright for him. He continued on, cursing his luck as it started to snow. He passed several more houses with several more families and each made him feel progressively worse. He started running, hoping to let the adrenaline drive away the lonely feelings.

Darkness eventually fell and he trudged home, emptiness and longing tearing bitterly at his heart. He got home and stood at the door for a few moments, wiping away the tears of frustration that had gathered there.

Pietro opened the door a few moments later. "There you are! Where have you been all day?"

"Just around town." Lance sighed. He looked at the floor.

"What's eatin' you?" Pietro frowned.

Lance sighed heavily again. "You wouldn't understand..."

Pietro shrugged. "Whatever. C'mon in. Blob's just about to serve dinner. Good thing you got home when you did cuz he wasn't gonna let us eat until you got your hide back home."

"Well I'm here now." Lance gave a half smile. Pietro stepped aside to let him in.

"Hey Lance. We was lookin' all over for ya." Fred grinned from the kitchen. "We got a roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, an' salad waitin'. Wanda wanted the salad." He said as an after thought.

"Smells good." Lance commented, still a little blue.

Wanda entered the hall with a malicious smirk. "Hey Lance."

"Why are you lookin' so happy, sis?" Pietro asked nervously.

"Oh I just finished decorating the Christmas tree."

"Wanda...we're not Christian." Pietro said slowly.

"I know that. But just because we celebrate differently doesn't mean the others should have to change their traditions does it?"

Pietro was uncertain how to handle this coming from Wanda so he surreptitiously stepped behind Fred who was also looking confused.

"That was nice of you." Freddy smiled in confusion. "Hey have you seen Toad anywhere?"

"Actually ya. He said he'll be down eventually just go ahead and start without him." She said with a smirk. "Is dinner ready?"

"Yeah." Fred nodded. "But how bout we check out that tree first?"

Wanda shrugged. "Go right ahead."

The group stepped into the living room and broke out laughing.

"Not funny, yo!" Toad called. He was a lot smaller than anybody remembered, and he was sitting atop the fully decorated tree but that wasn't the best part. He was wearing a festive white gown trimmed with golden embroidery. A halo hovered over his greasy hair and wings like a dove fluttered behind him. "Not funny at all."

Everyone turned to Wanda who was examining the black nail polish on her fingers. "Well, I figured he liked Christmas traditions so much he should be part of them." She said innocently.

"Ok a li'l mistletoe is one thing entirely but this ain' fair yo!" Toad called down.

"I disagree." Wanda smiled smugly.

Lance wiped tears from his eyes, but they weren't the sad variety. "Aw you guys are just too much. Who needs a family anyway? I got you guys."

Wanda suddenly grew serious. "Wrong Lance. You've got friends. You'll never be without a family."

Lance gave a watery smile, realizing she was right.

"Welcome home Lance." She said with a smile as she headed back to the kitchen. "Come on let's go eat dinner."

Lance, Pietro, and Fred all followed her out.

"Hey what about me!" Toad called as the door shut. "A li'l help here? Please?"

And that's a wrap. Sorry if it's a little too mushy or out of character, but I liked it. Bonus points to who can name our cameo appearances. So happy Holidays and remember to spend time with YOUR family and count them when you count your blessings.

12-28-05

HH♥