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Tradition by dee
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After the hell of the year just past, it's no real wonder the eggnog was flowing freely, even with most of us under age. At least we were all making sure Bobby only had one glass, and even on that he was bouncing off walls. Though it was hard to tell what was alcohol and what simply teenager-on-Christmas-Eve-ness.

Scott raised an eyebrow when I handed him a glass full of creamy liquid. "There wouldn't be alcohol in here, would there Ororo?" he asked, apparently sternly, but after everything we'd been through I could see through that.

"No," I dead-panned. "Not a drop." I was pretty sure that over my shoulder he'd be able to see Peter adding a little more definitely-not-alcohol to the mixture. Russians and their filthy drinking habits.

He grinned. "Good." And downed the lot in one gulp.

I laughed and followed suit, and we went to refill, elbowing Peter aside to do it. I was sucking spillage off my fingers when Hank came up behind me, swung me around with both arms around my waist as I shrieked and luckily didn't spill anything. He ducked when I turned around to slap at him, and came up grinning. "Give us a kiss," he quipped, pointing up to the mistletoe hanging above the table. "It's tradition, Ororo."

"I'll give you one for old time's sake," I told him, and stepped in to do just that, a chaste peck on the lips. It hadn't been that long since we'd broken up, and I could still feel a twinge. Took a gulp of my eggnog to quell it as Hank and Peter wandered away to join Jean near the Christmas tree.

"Why aren't you dressed up?" Scott asked, gesturing towards Jean, who had holly in her hair and silver tinsel draped around her neck.

I picked at the hem of my yellow sweater and shrugged. "Why should I?" Trying to seem nonchalant. Nothing to it, just couldn't be bothered.

Of course, he knew it wasn't true. A hundred and one things he could have said. He could have pointed out that I'm always the first to get dressed up, always willing to put in a little bit more effort to make myself look fancy. I like to put on a show, had admitted as much to him. He knew all that. And likely was aware that I knew that, and an endless chain so on and so forth. But he merely smiled faintly and said: "It's tradition."

"Not for me," I pointed out, and when he looked a little quizzical, I continued: "Muslim over here, remember? Plus, I haven't been exactly a family celebrations girl in the last ten years." Not since my parents died, but he'd heard that whole story already, in dribs and drabs of conversations, late in the silence of the night or in an early-morning sunny kitchen over coffee or a slow afternoon in the garden. Conversations that never seemed to stop, continuing on after hours of silence as if nothing had been in between. Conversations that were nothing and everything all in one.

And I'd got side-tracked. "Tradition and I just don't get on," I declared. "Any sort of tradition."

There was a whoop from the window then, as Bobby peered outside and saw the final touch of magic. "It's snowing! It's actually snowing!"

He went bounding from the room. Laughing, Hank and Peter ran after him, with Jean barely two steps behind. The Professor wheeled after them, a smile on their face. The X-Men, saviours of the world, leaping to frolic in the snow like children. We more than deserved it; we needed it, the absolute break in tension it provided.

There were shrieks from outside, and a bellow from one of the guys. Snowball fight already? I was laughing as I turned to Scott to comment, but words and laughter both died on my lips.

He was standing closer than he had been, like he'd taken a step in while I was looking away, and now his hand came up to brush a few strands of hair back behind my ear. "Any sort of tradition," he repeated quietly in an empty room.

Sound faded. Thought faded. My lips were suddenly dry as I answered: "I've never found a tradition worth the trouble."

His fingers lingered along the line of my jaw. "What a shame."

Scott leaned forward as I stretched up and there was simply fire and ice and realisation and acceptance and desire and my eyes flew up to the mistletoe before his lips touched mine and breathing ceased altogether.

Maybe tradition wasn't so bad after all.