Yeah, I'm one of those authors who does a Christmas Story. Woot. It's mostly just fluff, but I had fun writing it, so I hope you have fun reading it! Let me know.
Jubilee eyed the group of bundled up youngsters as she and Wolverine exited the Westchester mall--which was currently more like a war zone. The preteens had several layers on in an effort to stave off the cold, red noses poking out between bright hats and festive scarfs, padded coats adding an absurdness to their appearance, much like the poor little brother in the classic A Christmas Story. Jubilee snickered at the memory of the boy screaming "My arms won't go down, my arms won't go down!" and what the irritating little misfits were doing to a hapless and innocent lit-up reindeer display. The boys were laughing hysterically, confident of their coolness factor due to their ability to cause very minor vandalism. The girls were giggling and conversing loudly on the qualities of Jacob versus Edward, having just come from what was probably their ninth viewing of the new Twilight movie.
Wolverine growled deep under his breath and shifted some of his shopping bags around like he wanted to drop them entirely and scare the kids with his claws, effectively ruining Christmas for them.
"Please," Jubilee pleaded, "please tell me I didn't useta be that bad."
Wolverine recognized the embarrassed tone in the young woman's voice and smiled evilly. "Darlin'...you were worse."
Jubilee wrinkled her nose at him. "You lie!"
"I don't," he said, sadly thinking that it was true. Mostly.
"You exaggerate!" Jubilee responded defensively, her eyes lighting up.
Logan shook his head like he was about to deliver bad news. "Only a little, Jubes."
"Ugh," she groaned and came to halt, needing to readjust her load of bags. "Thanks for comin' with me, Wolvie, I really appreciate it. I couldn't have done it in one trip by myself and I know how much you hate shopping this time of year."
"Hate isn't strong enough a word, kid. And you're welcome. I'll think of a way you can repay me later." Logan reached out to take another of her bags, lightening her load, but still there were just so many that it wasn't an issue so much of weight as with quantity. Jubilee had outdone herself spectacularly. She bargain hunted like a pro, making the most of every last cent and the result was a literal crap-ton of bags. Logan suspected they were actually multiplying like bunnies even as they carried them to the car.
Logan smiled as the mall cops became aware of the vandalism within their midst and bore down on the boys. Jubilee, however, glared at the rent-a-cops. She couldn't help it. She concentrated on creating small globules of plasma yards and yards away, urged them into something akin to low-grade firecrackers. She smirked as hot-pink explosions lit up the parking lot and chaos ensued. The girls shrieked, the boys fled, realizing they'd been spared, and the mall goons changed course as fast as their pudginess allowed, heading in the direction of Jubilee's fireworks.
"They were being a nuisance. It's the security guys job to stop it," Wolverine pointed out. "And the brats were buggin' me."
"Yeah, well, sue me. Those guys are typically hopped up on their own delusional authority and would have given those kids a much harder time than warranted and they're just having some harmless fun and it's Christmas so there."
Wolverine smirked. "Well, guess you told me then."
Jubilee rolled her eyes and made for Logan's jeep with the present-laden bags.
"A little support of my past trauma wouldn't run amiss," Jubilee insisted.
Logan laughed outright at this particular comment. And maybe a little at the mall security slipping around the icy parking lot.
"You know what, Wolverine? Just you wait--I'm gonna learn how to knit!" Logan dropped his jaw in shock as he opened the back of the jeep to put his bags in, then took Jubilee's from her, and wondered where she could possibly be going with this.
"Um, okay...?" Logan packed Jubilee's bags in on top of his.
"Yeah, I'm gonna learn how to knit so I can knit you one of those truly awful, truly disreputable Christmas sweaters with big bug-eyed reindeer on it and you'll have to wear it!"
"Darlin'...what the hell makes you think I'll put the damn thing on even for a second?"
Jubilee stopped short. "Um...guilt and love?"
Jubilee sighed in defeat and turned to get in the car. "Right."
Logan started the jeep up with a roar and Jubilee immediately hit the heater switch, cranking it up to the max. Wolverine frowned at the heater then at Jubilee who was shivering violently and resigned himself to his fate of over-heated car syndrome. He thrust his one hand towards Jubilee and wrangled his jacket with the other.
"Here, kid, help me get this off."
She obliged, pulling at his jacket while he pulled his arm out and then put the jeep in reverse and handed his discarded jacket to Jubilee who promptly used it as a make-shift blanket on top of her many layers.
As they very slowly and very agonizingly navigated their way through the parking lot holiday traffic, Logan gave the girl next to him a discerning look.
"You're not expecting me to help you wrap that damn pile are you?" He was almost afraid to ask.
She peeked at him from underneath his jacket and flashed him an evil smile.
"You know, Logan, with a little practice you could become a present wrapping expert. All you have to keep in mind is that it's all about the ribbons and the bows. And the color coordination."
She laughed. "Rest easy, Wolvie. I already commissioned Sam and Paige. They're used to having to wrap a ton with that mob they call a family. And they actually like Christmas so they're more likely to embrace the holiday spirit, roll their sleeves up, and put up with the inevitable paper cuts."
Logan smiled, relieved that he was going to be spared.
"Y'know, Jubes, you really are a great person."
Jubilee narrowed her eyes. "Are you complimenting me so you can wheedle out of doing this next year?"
"Nah," Logan said as he finally made it onto the highway. "I mean it. What you're doing for these kids is really thoughtful."
Jubilee bit her lip and glanced out the window. "Yeah, well, thanks. Y'know, I actually spent some time at Juvie. Being the best behaved person in the world and all."
"This was before you lived at the mall, right?"
"Yeah. I ran away from juvie to the mall. Thank God Storm and the gals went shopping that one day. Anyway, the juvie experience just happened to line up with my very first Christmas after my parents died and it was just awful. Awful, awful. So, anyway this makes me feel better about it and everything so it's all cool, y'know?"
Logan reached a hand out to find Jubilee's small shoulder under her pile of puffy protection and gave her an affectionate squeeze.
Jubilee smirked at him. "Your grinch-sized heart is growing a few sizes, isn't it?" she teased.
Logan's lips twitched. "Shaddup."
"Oooh! Christmas cookies!" Jubilee dropped her bags in the kitchen and made a bee-line for the the festive treats.
"Absolutely not, Jubilee!" Paige Guthrie shouted, hands on hips, blue eyes glaring, and to complete the image, she was wearing a country-bumpkin apron over her clothes and her blond hair was coming loose from its pony tail.
"But, nothing. They need to cool, be frosted, and sprinkled, so get your paws off 'em!"
"Aw, Christ." This, from Wolverine who walked in right behind Jubilee. He took one glance at the situation, dropped his bags next to Jubilee's, made a bee-line for the fridge, grabbed a six-pack, and promptly disappeared.
Jubilee gave the sugar cookies a forlorn look, but quickly detected chocolate-chippy aromas.
"What about these?"
Paige sighed. "If you must."
"Oh, I must. I must in a big, tasty, three-cookies way."
"I heard the word cookie! And then smelled said cookies!" Bobby came into the kitchen looking extra merry as he was sporting a Santa hat.
Jubilee handed him a goody and smiled as she spied blatant lipstick marks on his cheek.
"What exactly are you up to Bobster? And what's with the hat?"
"I'm helping the ladies decorate. And put up trees. And the mistletoe was all my idea," He proudly boasted.
"And getting figurative sugar as well as literal sugar in return?" Jubilee asked as a bit of melted chocolate joined the lipstick as Bobby made short work of Paige's cookies.
"Hey, what can I say? I know how to work the holidays in my favor."
Beast entered with a big grin, an exact copy of a Santa hat on his blue head, and humming "The Twelve Days of Christmas" under his breath. He reached for a sugar cookie, got slapped away by Paige, and, undeterred, veered towards Bobby and Jubilee still humming and still smiling.
"Salutations on this cold and snowy but merry day!" Jubilee spied red on his blue-furred cheek as well.
Jubilee smiled at Hank, and turned back to Bobby. "Something tells me you are not alone in your exploitation," she said wryly.
He put a dramatic hand over his heart. "Your accusation wounds me! Also, I have no idea what you're talking about."
Bobby grabbed the entire plate of chocolate chip cookies and walked out with Hank.
"Women can't resist chocolaty treats, man," Bobby said as they exited in collusion with the other.
Remy passed them on his way in, shaking his head in humorous dismay.
"Dose two are shameless. By the way, chere, your culinary creations look magnifique!"
Paige blushed and smiled, looking way too cute with flour on her cheeks.
"Aw, thanks Gambit! You're so sweet."
Jubilee rolled her eyes at the Cajun. "Speaking of shameless."
"Ah, don't you start on Remy, petite. Especially when I came to give you money for your fund-raising."
He produced two hundred dollar bills out of no where like one of his card tricks.
"For you and your Christmas endeavor, Jubilee."
"Wow, Rem! I take it all back. You're not so much shameless as you are a show-off!" Jubilee punched him in the shoulder with affection. "But, seriously, Gumbo, you rock. Thanks for the donation."
"Don't mention it."
"Unless Rogue is in the room, you mean?"
"Dat's at your discretion, no?"
Paige eyed the hundreds impressively. "Wow Gambit! Here, have a cookie."
"Merci, Paige." He took his leave and the girls watched appreciatively.
"Oh, he gets to have a sugar cookie, huh?"
"Hey, if you had his ass, you'd get a sugar cookie too." Paige said, letting her drawl get the best of her.
"Who's ass what?" Said an even thicker home-grown Kentucky accent.
"OH! Hey Sam," Paige greeted her older brother with chagrin.
"Who's being an ass?" Playboy Warren Worthington and Paige's one-time flame entered right behind him and Jubilee enjoyed watching Paige having to deal with the two men at once.
"Nothing! No ass nothing. Here, cookies?" Paige offered up her coveted sugar cookies and the men were easily distracted.
"Momma's recipe?" Sam asked eagerly.
"Thanks, Paige," Sam said giving his sister a kiss on the cheek and Warren smiled appreciatively.
Jubilee rolled her eyes and snagged a sugar cookie of her own, figuring she didn't deserve to be left out.
"Don't go too far, Sammy, you promised to help me wrap in lieu of money!"
"Wouldn't dream of it, Jubes. I'll be in the rec room when you're ready."
Paige glared as Jubilee devoured her cookie. "Jubes!"
"Oh, c'mon. I'll help you decorate what's left."
"If there are any left!"
"Not my fault you keep handing them out to the menfolk."
"Well, they keep catchin' me off guard!" Paige complained.
Before Jubilee could reply, Scott and Emma walked in from the garage and stumbled all over Jubilee's shopping.
"Hey! Watch where you trod!"
"Most people have the aptitude to not leave their belongings right in front of the door," Emma said in a voice icier than the outdoors.
"Well, I didn't know this place was going to be Grand Central Station. Cripes!" Jubilee stuffed the last of her cookie in her mouth and started stacking the bags behind the kitchen table and out of the way.
"Oh, hey Jubilee, here's our donation," Scott offered as he dug into his wallet.
"Thanks, Cyke." Jubilee pocketed the money without looking. "Want a cookie?"
"Um, actually! They're not ready yet!" Paige spoke up in defense of her treats. "But I'll let you know when they are."
Scott looked as Jubilee wiped crumbs off her chin and Emma ignored everyone as she took off her jacket and hung it next to the door.
"Oh, okay. Well, they look great Paige. See you guys later." Scott placed his arm around Emma and they walked out of the kitchen together.
Jubilee turned back to her former roommate. "We should wrap while the cookies cool."
"That's fine, but I have one more batch to get in the oven, just give me a minute, kay?"
Jubilee sighed out her impatience. "Fine! I'll like come find you later."
"Considering how many cookies you've eaten, you're not very appreciative of my effort!" Paige yelled as Jubilee made a quick exit.
"Hey, Jubes, could you come here, darlin'?"
Jubilee bypassed the boisterous atmosphere coming from the recroom at Logan's bequest.
"Hey, Logan. I thought you were in hiding."
"Yeah, well..." he took a gulp from his beer bottle then leaned in near her. "I kind of have a problem."
Jubilee gave him a puzzled look, but took his arm and followed him into an empty sitting room.
"We missed the Secret Santa drawing while we were out shopping," he started, a look of ultimate annoyance overtaking his craggy features.
"Aw, crap!" Jubilee had totally forgotten that was today.
This year, the X-men boasted an unusually large number of X-people in the X-mansion. Anyone and everyone who had ever put on a big red X and got shot at by a giant robot had somehow found their way home for the holidays and there was just no practical way for everyone to shop for everyone, hence one big, giant, mega Secret Santa raffle. Jubilee figured that with each person only being responsible for a single X-present, there would be plenty of money to donate to her cause of buying presents for those less fortunate and took full advantage of the situation.
"Yeah, well, Betsy drew for me and put the result in my room...and now I need your help."
"Okay," Jubilee said. "Who did you get?"
Jubilee dropped her jaw in shock, taking in Wolverine's expression of panicked horror.
"Ohmygod--" Jubilee started to giggle. Bent over as the unstoppable laughter bubbled out of her.
Wolverine's panicked horror turned to an irritated glare as the laughter continued and eventually into total exasperation as Jubilee could hardly breath due to how hard she was laughing.
"Christ, do I need to dunk you in the pool or something?"
"Bobby froze--giggle--it yesterday--ha ha!--for ice skating--"
"Alright, well would you knock it the hell off already, and I don't know, trade me or something?"
This startled Jubilee out of her uncontrollable episode. "Trade you?! Are you crazy? Never in a million years will I make that trade! I don't care if I have freaking Sabertooth, Wolvie. I am not going to be Little Miss I'm-perfect-with-my-huge-breasts-and-invulnerability-and-unbearably-snarky-attitude's Secret Santa no matter what you offer me!"
"Well, what the hell am I supposed to do with it?"
"Uhm...a scented candle maybe?"
"Well, I don't really know, Logan...."
He ran one large hand though his wild hair and let out a growl.
"See? This is why I hate this freakin' holiday. It just puts you in one awkward situation after another, and no amount of pumpkin pie'll make up for it."
"Yeah, well--wait, you like pumpkin pie? Really? Huh." Jubilee made a mental note to wrangle Paige's baking skills for a special project. "Look, we'll just--do a gift card or something."
"Okay, great. A gift card to where?"
"You know what? Forget it. I'll just wrap some money up in a bag or something."
"Hey, y'know, that's actually not a bad idea. Green's like one of her favorite colors anyway." Jubilee smiled a big, supportive grin and Logan rolled his eyes. "Well, I'll let you know if something occurs to me, k?"
He sighed. "Yeah, thanks, darlin."
"Jubes?" Sam walked in. "Paige is done in the kitchen for now; we're ready when y'all are for some wrappin'!" He smiled a charmingly boyish smile and held up several rolls of glittery wrapping paper.
Wolverine narrowed his eyes at the glitter.
"You really get into this Holiday thing, huh, Guthrie?"
Jubilee slapped the broad man's powerful chest.
"Ignore him. Cool, Sam. I'll meet ya in the rec room, k?"
He nodded and ducked out and Jubilee turned back to Logan.
"Last chance to learn all about color coordination," Jubilee teased.
Wolverine shot her an irritated frown and walked out the door.
"I'll take that as a maybe!" she called out after him.
Jubilee sucked at a stinging paper cut on her middle finger with irritation, thinking, Every damn year, I swear!
As much as she'd grown to love the Christmas season while living at the mansion, and as beautiful as she found New England when it was drowned in a blanket of snow, she couldn't help but get itchy at it's persistence every winter. She missed her roof time. Wrapping presents was great, but the sibling arguing between Sam and Paige, coupled with tiny war wounds on her fingers, coupled with the fact that the mansion's population had recently tripled left her feeling a keen need for some peace and quiet.
Wolverine hadn't spent years rubbing off on her for nothing.
And now with winter in full swing, she wouldn't get decent roof time for at least two more months. Maybe three.
Imaginary muppets danced through her head singing about cabin fever.
She wondered down the hall to her room, changed into some comfy, extra warm sweats and contemplated hiding in there for the next hour or so just so she could gain her desired isolation. But her room was too obvious; people would know where to find her.
Maybe I can talk people into a movie. That way if I tell them to shut up at least I have a valid reason besides annoyance.
With her plan in mind, she donned her fuzzy pink house slippers and headed back out into the dark hall. A sliver of warm yellow light coming from underneath a closed door, however, caught her eye and Jubilee grinned. She wasn't the only one who felt the need to get away. And people weren't likely to try to extricate the Wolverine from his private haven when the mansion was uncommonly boisterous and crowded.
She padded down the hall and gently opened his door without bothering to knock. There would be no point; he would have sensed her heading in his direction with her first fuzzy-covered step.
He lounged on his bed in a pair of grey sweats and shirtless, the odd book in his lap.
Jubilee couldn't help it. She snickered. Then giggled.
Logan rolled his eyes, dog-eared his page and glared at her with a modicum of offense.
"Yes, I read every once in a flamin' while."
Jubilee regained her breath with effort.
"Oh, Gawd, Wolvie, it's not just the book so much as it was the whole picture. You look down right domesticated. I mean, really, just add some reading glasses and you could be freakin' Scott laying back and reading before bed."
He let out an irritated growl and chucked a pillow at her. Jubilee caught it at as it hit her in the face and took it as an invitation to kick off her slippers and bounce onto his bed, holding the pillow in her lap to lean forward against it.
She grinned, innocence mixed with a touch of wickedness.
"So, anyway, Logan," she pulled out the use of his real name to show she wasn't just here to joke around. "What are you reading?"
"You are so very male. Even in this."
"Every last inch, darlin'"
Jubilee blushed at the innuendo and made an effort to keep the conversation on track, all to aware that her best friend was also her long-time crush and they were in his bed together.
"You've read him before?"
"Sean liked him. Assigned him in Massachusetts. I scanned one. Reminded me a little of you actually."
"It's the Sun Also Rises," he replied. "The one with the bullfighting."
"Ah, yes, 'tis the season," she said dryly.
"I went shopping, what more do you want from me?"
"Sanctuary?" Jubilee pleaded sticking her bottom lip out ever so slightly.
"Surely the Christmas spirit hasn't become too much for you, darlin'."
"Christmas spirit? No. I could use a small break from the people though. You shocked?"
"Nah. You usually disappear for a while during large gatherings. Hang out here all you want."
Jubilee smiled her appreciation and scooted up the bed, so that she sat next to Logan, her back against his head board her hand reaching for the remote to his TV. His only acknowledgment that she had turned on the tube was a small sigh of irritation as he picked his book back up and did his best to tune out the background noise and Jubilee saying, "How the Grinch Stole Christmas! Excellent!"
Jubilee dropped her head onto his shoulder and Logan flipped the page, grinning despite himself.
"So I was thinking..." Jubilee started as the Dr. Seuss cartoon took a break for some extra annoying commercials. Jubilee was kind enough to mute it.
"Trade with Frosty. She's the best choice for shopping for Monet."
Logan looked down at her with gratitude and she grinned back.
"Do you like anything about Christmas, Wolvie? Or do you just tolerate it for the rest of us?" Jubilee asked curiously.
"Mistletoe. I'm a fan of mistletoe."
Jubilee rolled her eyes.
"All the guys are downstairs taking advantage and I haven't seen you near it."
"Exaclty. Last time I was near it Bobby walked by. Been avoidin' it ever since."
"Anything else?" she pressed, knowing he was in rare moment, his guard relaxed, his mood easy.
"Yesterday was entertainin'," he admitted, his deep voice laced with amusement.
"That had nothing to do with Christmas," Jubilee pouted. "Snowball fights can happen anytime during winter."
"I wouldn't call it a fight, Jubes. It was more like all-out war."
A wolfish grin overtook his features and she turned pink with remembered frustration.
"Yeah a war, in which you were no where to be seen," she accused.
"Sorry, kid, I was laughin' too damn hard."
He chuckled now, remembering Jubilee's desperate blunder on the front lawn.
"Word of advice for the future, Jubes?"
"Yeah?" she huffed.
"Don't get into a fight with a man who can instantly generate his very own snowballs." Logan answered, and to Jubilee's dismay, laughed even harder.
"I'm not a moron, I do know that!" she retorted. "I thought he was Cannonball!"
He kept laughing.
"They look just alike from behind with their stupid blue jackets!"
He kept laughing as he pictured the look of horror dawning on Jubilee's face as she realized just who exactly she had lopped an accurately-aimed snowball at the day before. Bobby had turned, an unusually evil grin on his boyish face, and Jubilee had literally disappeared under an onslaught of freezing wet snow. She had to blow the miniature avalanche off of her with a mid-level paff and the fight had quickly deteriorated into a mess of fireworks and overwhelming snow as Jubilee continued to get helplessly drenched whereas Bobby was completely immune and came out as the clear victor. Finally he had taken mercy on her, fishing out the Jubilee-shaped ice cube and ushering her indoors where she could take off her wet clothing and jump into a hot shower, with her howling at him the whole time.
"Really, it was nice of Drake to stop when he did," Logan smiled.
"Oh, shut up," Jubilee said, arms crossed over her chest. "I could have won, but--"
"You're not one for blowing up your friends," Wolverine finished. "You're right, Jubes, the moral victory is all yours."
Jubilee wriggled so her slipper-less feet found their way under the covers, shivering at the memory of the aching cold of yesterday's snowball fight.
"What else do you like about Christmas?"
He floored her with a particularly intense look, sharp blue eyes piercing through her, a shadow of something new in their depths.
"Spending it with you. You talk me into things that are irritatin' but you do it for a good reason. You're giving and compassionate and I love that about you, especially this time of year. When everyone else gets all wrapped up in the nonsense you're actually the most sane person to be around so I like spending it with you."
Jubilee swallowed, touched to her core.
"But, if you actually knit me that goddamned sweater, I take it all back."
She laughed again, relieved to see the humor in his rough features. She snuggled further under the covers and Logan placed his book on the nightstand, lifting his arm up to make a nook for Jubilee to fit into.
"I don't want to go back downstairs, Wolvie."
"Then don't. Stay here. Tomorrow's flamin' Christmas Eve, you can be sociable then."
"Okay. You really think I'm the sane one during Christmas?" she asked in a small voice.
"Well...as sane as you ever get when it comes to shopping and presents," he teased.
He reached out and took his remote from her hand, turning the volume back up as Cindy Lou Hoo implemented the puppy-dog-eye defense on Santa Grinch.
"Merry Christmas, Logan."
"You too, Jubes."
Happy Holidays everyone:)