The air was still a little cold for April, but since they were playing "no powers", that meant that Ororo couldn't do anything about it.

It didn't matter to the pitcher anyway. As a born and bred Canuck, Logan usually preferred it when the temperature was what the Cajun called "too damn cold". A mutant healing factor also ensured that he never felt the bite of cold quite as deeply as the others. Besides, six adamantium-plated claws didn't really come in handy in a pickup game of baseball.

His cut up sweatshirt itched him, but he ignored it as he sized up the situation at hand. Playing boys versus girls ("Men versus women," Jean insisted) meant that, like her teammates, the player up to bat had long, shapely limbs and full, gorgeous hair partially tucked under a baseball cap. Though he enjoyed the view immensely, Logan still planned on striking her butt out.

"Come on already," Emma called out as she took another practice swing. "I'm turning gray over here."

"Didn't think that was chemically possible anymore, babe," he called back, while checking his runners. Betts was at first and Jean was at second. He wasn't banking on either trying to steal, but took another look just to make Emma sweat some more.

Emma Frost grit her teeth and tried to ignore the chuckle emanating from underneath the catcher's mask. Once powers were au courant once more, she vowed that every one of the male players would believe that he had acute jock itch for a week.

"Hey batta batta batta," Warren called out from his position at second base. "Sa-wing batta."

"Come on, Emma!" Rogue shouted from the dugout. "Bring our girls home!"

Logan wound it up, reached back and hurled the ball with perfect accuracy at Bobby's mitt. Emma tensed, time it right, and swing! . . . missed the ball by about half a foot.

"Strike three!" Bobby lifted up his mask to smirk at Emma. "Sorry, Emma. Better luck next time."

"Funny," she responded acidly, "Didn't I say those same words to you last night?"

Bobby flushed instantly red but didn't have time to respond before Emma stalked back to the dugout, throwing the bat to the ground at Ororo's feet.

Remy just shook his head from his position at third base. Woman has to learn dat she can't be de big boss lady all the time.

Man, she has an incredible body, was the only thought in Scott's mind, though he later told himself that Emma must've planted it there in a bout of vindication.

Calmly, Ororo picked up the discarded bat and approached the plate. Unlike Emma, she was willing to admit that she'd never played a lot of baseball in her time. As a teenage goddess worshiped by an entire people, you didn't exactly get the chance to play games very often.

Logan scented the air as she walked into position. Even though the game was called "no powers," it wasn't like he could shut his enhanced senses of sight, smell, and hearing on and off. If that was an unfair advantage, the hell with it. That's how it was, and he wasn't going to cry any tears over it. He smelled the usual exotic scents that came naturally off Ororo's skin, in addition to the dirt from her greenhouse and the soap she'd used to wash it off with before the game. He didn't smell any anxiety, though, which had been overpowering from Miss Save-Face over there.

Ororo dug her bare toe in the clay as she tested the weight of the bat in her hands. Raising it to above her shoulder, she called out, "I am ready."

Logan decided to skip the intimidation traps he'd used on Emma and get right to it. Winding up, he pulled back and threw the ball again straight for Bobby's glove.

"Unhh!" Ororo grunted out as she swung the bat as hard as she could.

"Stee-rike!" Bobby called, fingering the ball and throwing it back to Logan.

Tapping the plate, Ororo rotated her shoulders and pursed her lips as she prepared herself for the next pitch.

"Choke up on de bat, Stormy," Remy advised from the field. "You're swinging too wide."

"I've asked you several times, my friend," Ororo replied as she took another practice swing, "not to call me that."

"Slow memory," Remy said while tapping his temple. "Can't remember nothing 't all."

Scratching his ribs absently, Logan ignored the banter and waited for Ororo to get into stance. Baseball was an okay kind of game if you didn't mind standing around a lot, but personally he preferred basketball or a fierce game of hockey for working up a sweat. Shame the professor didn't think it was "economically prudent" to install an ice sheet somewhere, though from the guy who bought a new Blackbird every other month, Logan figured he could afford it.

"C'mon!" Bobby shouted from his position squatting on the ground. "Let's play some ball!"

Ororo tried to breathe normally as she tensed up for the pitch. She told herself that it was just a silly game, but her team was counting on her to do her best. So watch, learn, and don't repeat your former mistakes. She watched Logan's fingers and wrist as he rotated the ball to just the right position in his hand. He had fine hands, really, for a man of his type. Thanks to his mutation, no callouses or scars or hang nails were present to give away his true nature. Involuntarily, Ororo's mind slipped from its concentration on the game for a moment while she considered what such hands would feel like clasping her wrist, or stroking her ear, or . . .

"Stee-rike two!"

Ororo blinked and jerked as she realized that she must've just stood there like an imbecile while Logan's pitch found its way through the strike zone and safely into Bobby's glove. Blushing and feeling a sudden urge to say very un-goddesslike things, she shook her head slightly and rubbed the sweat off the back of her neck.

Logan spit in the dirt as he caught the ball. Other than Bobby's annoying New York umpire impersonation, things couldn't look better for his team. Another strike, and the girls' team was going down. And judging from that last pitch, Ororo wasn't going to be able to do much to save her team from taking the dive. She looked a little shaken at the plate, and was that . . . sweat? Logan grinned. Time to go for the throat.

Throats, and all things connected to them, were exactly what Ororo was trying very hard not to think about. This was it, her teammates needed her, and she would not let them down. Concentrate, she told herself. You can do this.

Logan's lip curled back just enough to show a little bit of gleaming white incisor, his fingers rolling the ball up and down his thigh as he planned the pitch. Interesting scents coming from the plate–desire and tension–but he figured Bobby was probably just getting hot under the mask for Frosty. Ororo didn't loose her cool. Claustrophobia excluded, Logan'd never seen a woman with more control over herself.

Logan had all the X-women figured out. Rogue and Betsy were like him: brawlers who kicked trash and took names. And if Betsy had more finesse and control, Rogue's absorbed strength and invulnerability made her a big gun in any fight. Sure, both were great pals and undeniably hot, and Rogue must have some secondary mutation that made her drip pheromones like steak sauce off a good burger. But when it came to softer feelings, Logan tended to gravitate to the finer ladies.

Not that Emma fit in that category. In his opinion, that woman was all brass and no gold; lots of flash and bravado, but short in substance. Not like Jean. In some ways it was ironic that the Phoenix chose the most unassuming member of the team as its avatar, but Jean had always been so much more than she gave herself credit for. If it took a slightly mad, power-tripping, all-powerful cosmic entity to make Jean and every one else realize what Logan had known all along, well, Jean was worth it.

And Ororo? Logan looked at her again where she stood at the plate. It was easy to think of her as an untouchable paragon, the lofty goddess divine in her remote perfection. But seeing her like this; barefoot, sweaty, in an old t-shirt and shaking her head to get some hair out of her face, Logan had to smile.

Still, she was terrible at baseball. Time to get it over with so he could head back to the mansion for a cold long neck.

Finding the seam, Logan brought the ball into position. Sorry to do this, darlin', he thought, then wound back to throw a perfect strike.

And then Ororo winked at him.

Actually, it was more than a wink. It was a deliberately slow meeting of her eyelid and cheek, followed by an edge of pink tongue sliding over the corner of her top lip. It was impossible for any man not to be instantly focused on that provocative look, losing all concentration on hands feet, air, space, light . . .

and baseballs.

What began as a rising fastball ended up a weakly thrown slow pitch that sluggishly made its way toward home plate. Breaking the connection with Logan, Ororo easily sized up the pitch, leveled her balance, swung and crushed the ball with every ounce of her strength. It sailed with incredible velocity right between Warren and Remy, beaming straight for left field.

Time seemed suspended for a moment, all the world frozen in awe, before Ororo heard a frenzied Rogue screaming, "Wa-hoo! Wa-hoo! C'mon, Ororo! Move yer butt!"

It seemed to play out in slow motion. Jean, then Betsy came safely over home plate before Warren was able to throw the ball to Remy to tag Ororo out at third base. The game was over.

During the ecstatic shrieks that followed, Logan had never wished more that he didn't have a super sense of hearing. Ah hell, it was just a game, wasn't it? Just a game . . . and he looked over at a laughing Ororo Munroe surrounded by a very happy team.

Emma just smirked out of his direct line of vision. Perhaps not her finest hour, but satisfactory all the same. Logan always claimed he was invulnerable to telepathic deception, but today finally proved how wrong he was. Let him chew on that, she mused, biting a perfectly shaded lower lip and turning away.