More than Christmas – by Darlin

Disclaimer – Only having a little Christmas cheer with Marvel's characters.

A/N – Just a little inspired by Ergo Proxy an anime I enjoy and because it's Christmas. Merry Christmas to everyone!

-xox-

The only ones interested in trimming the tree and singing carols were, well really only Jean although Scott went along with it because it was apparent to all that he loved her very much and would do anything the pretty redhead asked. But Jean had done her best to explain the Christian traditions of celebrating the birthday of the baby Jesus to Ororo whom she'd taken under her wing hoping to find a willing accomplice in her attempt to bring Christmas cheer to their eclectic group. Jean happily unveiled the tremendous amount of decorations stashed away in the attic gleefully opening each box and exclaiming over whatever caught at a memory. It all left Ororo rather breathless. Though she was familiar with the story she had never celebrated Christmas, in her recollection. There were no memories of elaborate traditions and indeed no urge to make them hers but when they chose a fir tree, huge and fragrant and actually put it inside the house she quickly began to catch the spirit too.

They went on long shopping trips in sprinkling snow showers determined to find just the right present for each of the men and giggled together at the absurd ideas they came up with for Wolverine for Wolverine was a man unlike any other. But finally Christmas Eve came and they both felt as if they had conquered the season and were ready to reap the benefits. They'd agreed that after a simple Christmas Eve dinner they would surprise the men with gifts and so while they ate the girls took turns excusing themselves and disappeared to gather up gifts from their intricate hiding places and placed them beneath the tree festooned in bright bold colors and sparkling multicolored lights.

After dinner Ororo went off to make hot chocolate but snuck into the living room through via the back stairs where she lit a fire in the great stone fireplace while Jean tried different tactics in delaying the men until all was ready. However, because Wolverine was unlike any other man he wasn't open to Jean's idea of sharing Christmas stories at the table or receptive to her vehement requests for help with the dishes. Instead, grumbling about bossy women, and curious about a particular scent he'd picked up he wandered into the spacious living room with the high ceilings and several old fashioned glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It was often the perfect quiet retreat to smoke a cigar before deciding what he would do for the rest of his evening as the others lingered over dinner. But as he reached for the cigar in the pocket of his soft flannel shirt he saw the room was filling fast with smoke, thus the smell of wood burning he'd caught before his quest. He spied Ororo working over the fire. He coughed. Dames, he thought when she looked up at him helplessly and went to help her.

"You gotta open the flue," he said, showing her how.

"I'd forgotten Jean said that," Ororo murmured, thankful for his help for he quickly stoked a fire into a decent blaze.

After some coughing and waving of her hands and releasing a cleansing breeze that cleared the room, Ororo retrieving a small box from under the tree.

"This is for you," she said holding her hand out.

"Huh?"

"For you," she repeated thrusting the package of red and green with a large gold ribbon on top of it to him.

"Um . . . I didn't get you anything," he replied.

"But it is the season for giving not receiving," she said, smiling so hopefully that Wolverine took the package from her.

"Uh . . . thanks," he muttered while turning the present over and over as if inspecting the gift wrapping technique.

"You are most welcome," she beamed.

"Yeah . . . well . . ." he stuttered, at a loss then stuffed the small gift in a back pocket of his faded blue jeans and grinned sheepishly saying, "Don't really celebrate Christmas."

"Me either."

"Oh?"

"My parents died when I was very young and in Egypt, where I grew up, I had no family, no traditions."

"Wow. I didn't know that."

Ororo shrugged. "We are both without memories of this holiday Jean loves so dearly and wants to share with us so terribly."

"She's a little persistent you could say."

"Well, I think you will enjoy my gift."

"What is it?"

"You will have to open it to see," she said smiling with mirth and then impulsively she threw her arms around the shorter man and hugged him close.

Wolverine swallowed uncomfortably at the close contact but his hands automatically went around her. He felt the softness of her body, his fingers too close to the edges of her breasts but he didn't move his hands. He took in the feel and scent of her, this woman who was so foreign and nothing like any other woman he'd ever met and he unconsciously relaxed in her embrace. It lingered longer than it should have and had any one else been privy to it they would have suspected something more was going on but there wasn't really.

"Well, thanks," Wolverine grunted when she pulled a way but he didn't let her loose and she didn't complain.

He noticed how bright her eyes were, and her complexion and how serene she looked, and happy and he wanted to feel something of that happiness. She noticed the rich smell of freshness from his clothes, air dried in the cold wind, and from his skin and wondered that he didn't use cologne like Sean or sometimes Scott. He was so different, surly and blunt but good hearted she was sure, once you got past the hardened veneer. And then neither of them lingered in thoughts because his lips were seeking hers. It felt good and natural this kiss and only the nearing sound of laughter and deep voices made them draw apart.

"Vas?" Kurt's strongly accentuated voice exclaimed at the sight of his two teammates breaking such an intimate embrace.

"Mistletoe! You sly Wolverine, you!" Sean exclaimed as he quickly took in the mischievous plants hanging from both chandelier and very nearly above Ororo.

He clearly planned on using this to his advantage as he approached her smiling devilishly. Ororo laughed when Sean's lips pressed against her cheek in a loud cheerful smack.

"Everyone must kiss the beautiful lady that stands beneath yon mistletoe," Sean shouted, clearly having imbibed in too much Christmas cheer at table.

"My turn then," Kurt said and kissed Ororo's other cheek.

Jean giggled as she stood in the doorway with Scott who watched the group of people who were no longer quite strangers to him but were still so unfamiliar. All this fuss over mistletoe, he thought.

"May I?" Peter asked when he saw Ororo didn't mind the romantic tradition.

"Of course, little brother," she answered and leaned her face out for him to don a kiss upon.

And Peter bent his tall frame, the better to kiss her but not on her cheek as everyone else had much to Wolverine's chagrin and the wild little man gave Ororo a hard shove so that she went tumbling forward. Sean and Kurt caught her so she landed gently on the floor while Peter knelt to see that she was all right. Wolverine saw himself leaping onto Peter's back and snatching the mistletoe from the chandelier with glee but he resisted the urge.

"Good grief, man what were you thinking?" Scott fumed.

"Just patting her on the back, wanted to thank her is all, don't know my own strength I guess. Uh . . . sorry, Storm," Wolverine said apologetically but he couldn't help from feeling as if he'd won something just then before he started out of the room.

"Thank her? For what?" Scott asked but Wolverine walked past the team leader and Jean, his only response a smirk for Scott to interpret any way he chose.

"Are you all right, Ororo?" Peter asked.

"I'm fine."

"I'm sure everything is fine though perhaps we should remove the mistletoe," Charles said as he entered in his wheel chair and Scott and Jean made way for him.

But despite Charles' assurance Jean murmured, "He's so strange,"

"You can say that all night long and I won't get tired of hearing it," Scott said glad that someone else finally thought the same as he.

But what Ororo thought no one knew. She was stunned but fine. Jean began to hand out presents after instructing Scott to put on an old Christmas album of Nat "King" Cole, another tradition. And Wolverine? He stomped through the mansion removing every trace of the pesky greenery. After all what was the point of witnessing grown men turn into slobbering idiots over Ororo or Jean? Especially Scott but most especially himself.

After the task was done, and Jean would later wonder at its sudden disappearance, he went to his room, locked the door, sprawled out on his bed, stuffed a pillow behind his back, lit his cigar, puffed it into life then opened his present. It was perhaps the most unnecessary thing anyone had ever given him, something he thought he would never need even on the worse of days in a Canadian blizzard. He stared at the simple brass compass. Storm must be crazy, he thought. Why would he, whose sense of smell could lead him anywhere and his years of skill in the Canadian wilderness, need a compass? He turned it over idly as he had to the box it came in when she'd first given it to him and thought about tossing it out the window and how emotional women were and sometimes utterly useless in their longing for traditions. But his thoughts came to a crashing halt as his eyes took in the engraving on the back.

It was nothing fancy only one simple word was engraved and as he read it he felt all resentment and loneliness fall away and he got up, stuffed the compass in a front pocket of his jeans and stood in the falling darkness of his room. He could hear laughter below and music, faint but joyful. And in that moment he felt some of the happiness he supposed Ororo knew and he started back to the fray below. And when Ororo saw him and smiled her open and welcoming smile he knew what she had given him was perhaps the most appropriate present at this time in his wandering life and he returned her smile readily. She was not one to hold grudges or to be over emotional. The kiss, like the shove, was forgotten he suspected and was glad of it but also glad for her that it could be that way with her. Things were so much easier with her than Jean. Jean made him long for something that he didn't understand but Ororo almost grounded him as much as he hated to admit it. And despite the resentment he felt towards Scott and even Charles at times and though they had not been together for long he felt what Ororo must feel, as she had inscribed on the compass, what she wanted him to feel, to believe. This was where he chose to remain; he without memories of a childhood lost just as she, and here, here was . . . Home.