I just realized I was humming to myself as I sat down to type. The Twelve Days of Christmas. Can you believe it? I doubt anyone else would - after all, the horrible demon sorceress couldn't have the Christmas spirit, could she?
Well, actually, I do.
Last year I was really confused about how I should feel about Christmas. Can you blame me? I mean, when I was little in Russia, technically we didn't celebrate Christmas. I'm not sure, but I think it was illegal or something, though I remember getting a present one winter. It was a doll - I'd always wanted one. I remember the paper was red and green, and that I'd been so excited I ripped the paper off, exulting in the crinkling sound, the feel of it. It might have been Christmas, I really don't know - I know it wasn't my birthday, because that's in May. Anyway, I left the collective before I was seven, so I can't say much more about it. I honestly don't remember, it seems like another lifetime.
I spent the next seven years in a living hell. No Christmas there. For some reason, Belasco just wasn't the type to put up a tree and send out Christmas cards.
So last year, when all my friends in the New Mutants were getting excited about Christmas shopping, etc., I felt kind of left out, and no one really made any effort to pull me in. The demon sorceress thing, you know? But I didn't really understand what all the fuss was about anyway. Kitty's usually good at explaining the cultural things I don't really grasp, but I didn't really want to ask her about this one; she's Jewish after all, and from what I'd heard it sounded like an exclusively Christian holiday. And I didn't feel close enough to anyone else to ask THEM. So I kinda sat on the sidelines, watching.
When it was over I realized that Christmas isn't really just a religious holiday, no matter what people may say. It's about showing people how you feel about them.
So that's what I'm going to do this year, diary. I've got it nearly all planned out...
"What's this?" Dani mumbled to herself as she groped for the alarm and found a small box on top of it. She suppressed an immediate 'Danger!' reaction, and peered at it through half closed eyelids.
It was a small box, wrapped in bright red wrapping paper. She picked it up, stifling a yawn, and examined it more closely.
"To Dani, from her Secret Santa" was written on the label, or rather typed with a cursive font. No clue there. She shook it gently, a smile beginning to light up her face. Contrary to the assumptions of most of her friends, she loved surprises, or at least non-life threatening ones. A little rattle, but still no clue. Now fully awake and unable to resist any longer, Dani ripped off the paper to find a small, hinged, cloth-covered box. Opening it, she gasped in delight and pulled out a small pegasus charm...
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
On the first day of Christmas...so far, so good. Dani wore the charm on a bracelet down to breakfast and showed it to everyone. I think she believes Rahne gave it to her, because she was giving her searching looks the whole time we were eating. I know she doesn't usually wear much jewelry, aside from what she brought with her from home, but I took the chance. It just looked so much like Brightwind, I couldn't resist.
Tomorrow should be fun - "
"Silent Night, Holy Night", Rahne hummed under her breath as she towel dried her hair in the girl's bathroom. "Och, I wish my hair was longer," she muttered to herself as she glared at her reflection in the mirror. "No wonder Sam never notices me - no, nor Dougie either. I look like a boy." She glanced down at her towel wrapped body, and blushed. "Well, not QUITE like a boy, I suppose, but still..." She reached over to the hook on which she'd hung her bathrobe, and started as a package fell. "What's this?" she asked aloud, as she bent over to pick it up.
It was a small flat package, with "To Rahne, from her Secret Santa" typed on the tag, and Rahne exclaimed with delight as she ripped off the wrapping paper to find a small book covered with pictures of fairy tale creatures and characters, and blank pages inside. "Just perfect for writin' me own stories in," she thought aloud, wondering who could be so thoughtful.
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
Two down, ten to go. I think Rahne really liked her gift - she spent the afternoon curled up in the window seat scribbling frantically in it. I have no idea who she thinks gave it to her; she keeps glancing over at Doug, but then she does that anyway -
"What'cha doing, roomie?" Kitty asked, coming into their room and making Illyana jump up guiltily from the computer. She watched as Kitty threw her duffel down on the bed, phased out of her Shadowcat costume, and began re-dressing in jeans and a sweatshirt.
"I didn't think monitor shift would EVER be over," Kitty said, not realizing that she hadn't answered. "And it was so boring - the highlight was a squirrel tripping one of the sensors. But at least I got my physics homework done. What've you been up to?"
"Oh, nothing," Illyana said, nonchalantly hitting the Save button on the screen and closing the program.
Doug woke up to find he was being watched. By a floating, metallic eye. He sighed. Only at Xavier's would that be a commonplace event.
"Self-friend, you are awake! Please explain significance of brightly wrapped package addressed to self?" Warlock asked as the rest of the body slid beneath the door and reassembled in front of him, holding a small flat package.
"Huh?" Doug answered sleepily. "Oh, it's a Christmas present, Lock. You open it."
"Explain designation: Secret Santa?"
"It means the person who gave it to you doesn't want you to know who he or she is," Doug replied, sitting up. This was getting more interesting. As far as he knew, they hadn't drawn names to play Secret Santa, though it wasn't a bad idea. "Go on, open it up and see what you got!"
Warlock began meticulously peeling off the tape, one millimeter at a time, until Doug got frustrated and grabbed the package away from his friend. "Like this!" he said, ripping the paper off to reveal - a comic book?
"The Further Adventures of Captain Radish and the Veg Company?" Doug questioned as Warlock pulled the book out of his hand. "Self has been searching for this for an extensive period of time!" Warlock exclaimed, transforming into a - well, a radish, Doug supposed, though he'd never seen a radish with arms, legs, a bandana, and a large semi-automatic rifle. "There have been no copies to be found at local establishments! Query: can Self keep the book?"
"That's the idea," Doug replied, surprised. Who among the New Mutants would have known what to get Warlock? He himself had been wracking his brains trying to think of a gift the technoorganic alien would like for Christmas, and coming up dry. It wasn't as if the Professor was still in the mansion, and could read his thoughts. He set a portion of his mind to analyzing the question. Maybe Dani? With her ability to "see" someone's greatest desire, she'd be an obvious candidate...
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
Took a chance with this one - I'm not sure anyone else knew about Warlock's Captain Radish addiction, but he mentioned it to me once, and I used my scrying pool to find out which ones he was missing. I'm fairly sure he won't remember, though, and even if he does it's not likely he'll put two and two together and get me.
I'm enjoying this; now I understand what the whole Christmas thing is all about. And no one except Warlock has even mentioned their gift to anyone; Dani showed hers around, but didn't mention the Secret Santa part. I think they're all trying to figure out who's responsible. I'm feeling a bit disappointed about that, though - no one seems to even be considering me ...
They're putting up the Christmas tree while I'm up here writing. I offered to help, but Rahne gave me a look of absolute terror, so I left before anyone else could say anything. I think she actually expected me to summon demons from Limbo to help hang the ornaments, and even I'll admit that wouldn't be appropriate.
Besides, they'd probably break them. Demons are clumsy.
Tom Corsi made his way to the side of the garage, wiping his face with his sleeve.
"Damned if I can figure out what's wrong with the thing," he grumbled, thinking about the car he'd been working on. "It's not the transmission - hey, what's this?" he said, as he picked up his jacket he'd discarded earlier and found a green and gold wrapped box underneath. A grin forming on his face, he picked it up and shook it, then set it down and analyzed the gift tag.
"To Tom, from his Secret Santa," he read. "Didn't know the kids were doing that - I wonder who drew me." Unable to resist any longer, he tore open the paper to find a video "Great Police Chases, Vol. 1 & 2".
Whistling, he pulled on his jacket, picked up the videos, and took them back to his room. He knew what he'd be watching tonight. Whoever his Secret Santa was, he or she sure knew what he'd like.
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
Oh, the look on Tom's face was priceless - I don't normally hang around to see, but he caught me off guard and I couldn't teleport out fast enough, so I crouched down behind one of the vans instead. I really have to stick to delivering my gifts during the night or early morning; people are a lot less likely to catch me.
Apparently the videos were a good choice. I don't understand why everyone had so much trouble picking out presents last year; sometimes I think I know them better than they do each other. Of course, I spend a lot more time watching them than normal, I suppose. There's a definite benefit to being more or less on the outside of everything.
I'm not so sure about tomorrow's though - I don't know her as well as I do the others...
Xi'an stood up and stretched slowly, feeling the tension drain out of her muscles. "What good is it to sleep when all that results are nightmares?" she asked aloud. "Where ARE you, Leong and Nga? And what kind of souer am I, than I could not keep you safe?" Her eyes fell on a small package on her nightstand that hadn't been there the night before, and she tensed. "What is this?" she asked of no one, approaching it cautiously. "To Shan, from her Secret Santa? Who is this 'Secret Santa?'" Experimentally, she reached out and touched it, somewhat relieved when it didn't appear to do anything. She put on her robe, cautiously picked up the package, and carried it out to knock on the door of the room next to her own.
"Come on in!" she heard, and opened it to see Dani amidst her usual chaos of scattered clothing, books, and paraphernalia. "Oh, hi Xi'an, what's up?"
"Excuse me for bothering you," she said, holding out the package. "I found this on my nightstand this morning when I awoke. Do you know what it might be? I'm afraid I don't understand the reference..."
"You got one?" Dani asked, and Xi'an could hear the surprise in her voice. "I got one a couple of days ago - I wonder if anyone else has? Anyway, it's an anonymous Christmas present - I thought mine was from Rahne, but I might be wrong. Go ahead and open it."
She looked at the package doubtfully, then carefully removed the ribbon and paper, setting them down on a fairly bare spot on Dani's dresser. She gasped as she saw the contents.
Inside was a picture of Leong and Nga in a small silver frame. She didn't know when it had been taken, though as she looked at it carefully she guessed it may have been while she was under the Shadow King's control. She recognized the setting, though - it was the rec room of the Xavier mansion, and given the decorations she suspected it may have been the previous Christmas. She hadn't even known her siblings had been here for the holiday. Their cherubic faces peered out at her, and a tear fell from her eyes.
"All the pictures were destroyed with our apartment," she said to Dani, who came over and touched her shoulder. "I had nothing of them. Whoever gave me this could not have been more thoughtful."
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
Shan came down to breakfast kind of teary-eyed; maybe I screwed up with the present. I hope not - I know she really misses her brother and sister, and I thought she'd like it. Luckily, after much rummaging I found a nice shot of the kids in Kitty's photo album and swiped the negatives; she always files them with the pictures in case she wants reprints.
Shan must have said something to Dani, since she was looking at everyone carefully as if trying to figure out who could have given it. I guess the secret is out, or will be before long. It's going to be harder to make my deliveries if they're being more observant...maybe I should change my schedule a little bit. After all, there's someone on my list who's unlikely to compare notes with the others...and she at least should suspect it might be me!
Kitty stormed into her room, hoping to find Illyana inside. She needed to vent, big time. Unfortunately for her, her roommate wasn't there.
She'd just gotten back from a mission, and Storm had reprimanded her for carelessness, threatening to return her to the New Mutants if she didn't behave "with appropriate caution" in the future. The thought made her burn. Her plan had worked, hadn't it? If one of the adults would have done it, they would have been praised for using initiative. Logan did it all the time, and no one threatened to ship him off to the X-Babies...
Despite herself, she laughed at the mental image of Logan wearing a training uniform, doing Danger Room exercises under Magneto's supervision. "Not likely," she thought, and sat down next to Lockheed on the bed. "How're you doing, Dragon? Has Illyana been taking care of you?"
Lockheed nodded, then pointed with his chin toward her desk. "Oh, who brought that?" she asked excitedly, rushing over to pick up the plush pink dragon and turning it to read the card attached to a ribbon around its neck. "'To Kitty, from her Secret Santa?' That's sweet - I always feel kind of left out when everyone else gets the presents, even if I don't celebrate Christmas. After all, Magnus is the only one here to have Chanukah with, and he doesn't seem particularly interested. Hmmm - hold on, there's a note on the back. 'Thought Lockheed might like a friend'," she read aloud, and laughed. "What do you think, Lockheed? Cute?"
"Yah!" her dragon agreed, flying over to rub heads with his stuffed counterpart while Kitty looked at the tag more closely. "Typed, so no clue there. Do you know who left it?"
Lockheed shook his head, gesturing toward the window. "Oh, someone left it while you were out? Hmm, wonder who? The X-Men were nearly all on the mission..."
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
I had to keep myself from laughing when I got back to our room and Kitty showed me the stuffed animal I got for her. Guess I lucked out - she didn't think to ask Lockheed whose scent was on it, and I'm sure he could have picked up on it. She's leaning towards Doug as the culprit, and considered going and asking him until I pointed out that if he 'hadn't' gotten it for her he'd feel obligated to get her a gift if she asked him about it. So now she's sitting here, wondering, and not paying any attention to me typing away on my computer. Which is lucky - if any of my teammates find out Kitty got a gift the number of people on THEIR suspect lists will drop drastically.
I really did think Kitty would suspect me, even if no one else did; well, maybe she will once she thinks about it some more.
"Hey, Sam, wait up!" he heard Dani call out, and obligingly turned and waited.
"Where're you off to?" Dani asked him when she caught up.
"The shower," he replied, shrugging, brushing through his hair with his hand and sending bits of dead leaves and drips of water falling to the ground.
"Crash and burn?" she asked sympathetically as they walked down the driveway toward the school, avoiding the icy patches that had returned since Amara last "cleaned off" the snow.
"Yeah - ploughed a nice furrow right through the snow," he admitted. "Ah sure wish Ah'd get better at maneuvering - Ah was trying to tag 'Berto, and it didn't work out so well." He was grateful when Dani didn't laugh - he wasn't sure he could have kept from doing so. Damn, half the time he laughed at himself. "Anyway Chief, what's up?"
"Have you heard of anyone giving out Secret Santa presents?" she asked.
"Secret Santa - Ah didn't know we were gonna do that!" Sam exclaimed, looking at her. He knew his co-leader sometimes took it upon herself to make decisions for the team without consulting him, but this didn't sound like something Dani would've come up with. Still, it would've been nice to know - he didn't have much money, and had gone Christmas shopping for his teammates the day before.
"Neither did I," Dani admitted. "But someone's doing it - I got one, and so did Xi'an."
"Anyone else?" he asked her, remembering some curious looks Tom Corsi had shot his way.
"Not who's mentioned it, though Rahne's been walking around with a notebook I haven't seen before," she replied. "I don't suppose whoever did would bring it up, if they weren't sure everyone else had gotten one too."
"No, Ah'd expect not. Well, Ah haven't gotten one," he said, scratching his head. "But Ah'll let you know if Ah do."
"Sounds good," she said, and grinned. "Get off to the shower - your leaves are dropping all over the floor."
"Damn," he groaned, and they parted.
When he returned to his room after his shower, he found a small package sitting on his bed. "Guess it's mah turn," he said, sitting down next to it. Opening it slowly, he was surprised to find one of the original Lila Cheney cassettes; one of few he didn't have, since she sent him copies of her new ones as they came out.
"Wonder who got me this? And how he or she found it - Ah've been lookin' all over for this one. There weren't many made, and they all sold out..." A thought crossed his mind, and he shook his head. "Nah, couldn't be her." But the thought kept returning, even as he turned over the names of his other teammates in his mind.
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
Sam's been eyeing me suspiciously all day - that guy is too perceptive for his own good. I guess I brought it on myself, though; I wanted to get him something he really wanted, so I popped back a few years and picked up the cassette brand new when it was released. Did some of my other shopping then, too - things were cheaper than they are now.
I'm going to have to be more careful, if Sam's on the lookout. But the next one's easy, anyway.
Dani, Rahne, Amara and Xi'an went Christmas shopping this afternoon. Sharon drove them - she asked me if I was coming too, but the others were already out the door, so I said no. I guess it doesn't really matter, I've got my shopping done anyway.
Sharon wandered into the infirmary, checking to see if everything was in place. She sighed. Compared to the bustle of the hospital she'd worked at, things were quiet at Xavier's. Too quiet, sometimes - she found herself with a lot of time on her hands when she wasn't nursing wounded X-Men.
She spotted something on the counter that didn't belong there, and walked over to see what it was. Surprised, she picked it up and looked at the tag. "From my Secret Santa? Oh, how sweet - I didn't even know the kids were drawing names."
She ripped off the paper, and couldn't help laughing. "Well, I DID say I had too much time on my hands," she thought, looking at the book of needlework patterns. There weren't many people here who knew she liked to embroider; she wondered who her Secret Santa was as she began flipping through the book. She hoped he or she would confess before Christmas - this really was a nice gift. Maybe one of the girls picked it up when they went shopping yesterday? She tried to remember if anyone had gone into the craft store while she flipped through the pages, smiling at some of the cuter patterns.
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
One more done! And only four more to go!
"I'll be back shortly," Amara called over her shoulder. "I just need to pick up my calculus book." She entered her room, and sat down at her dressing table, checking to make sure that her make-up hadn't smeared. While intellectually she knew that the make-up available here was not as susceptible to heat as that produced in Neo-Roma, the habit had stayed with her. After having assured herself that everything was fine, she stood up and began searching for her missing textbook. She'd made the circle of her room twice before finding it under a brightly wrapped box.
"A gift? But from who?" she asked herself, opening it up. Within she found a beautiful pair of earrings; imitation gold, to be sure, but very like those she preferred. She carried them back to her dressing table, sat down, and slipped them in her holes, turning her head back and forth to admire them. Humming, she picked up her Calculus book and walked out the door, wondering absently who would describe themselves as a "Secret Santa". Whoever it was had excellent taste.
>From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
Another easy one, although it almost wasn't; I hadn't expected Amara back from her study session so quickly, and was still in her room when she began opening the door. Luckily, I've been better prepared for that happening since the episode with Tom, and was ready to cast a stepping disk at once. But still, it was a close call.
The word must've spread, as everyone is now looking at each other suspiciously, including Kitty. I hope she doesn't break down and ask Doug; the game'll be over for sure. But so far, I think only Sam suspects my involvement, though I saw Shan looking at me thoughtfully this afternoon. Dani's been particularly observant - she's been asking everyone a lot of questions, like "Where were you this morning? I was looking for you around 8:00...". It's really hilarious; she just can't resist a mystery. Anyway, only a couple more days to go.
And tomorrow's should be fun...I'm taking a real chance, here, but I kinda figure that he'll know regardless. And he'll probably go along with it, anyway - it's not like he's any closer to most of the other New Mutants than I am.
Doug woke up and rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, opening them to check for any floating optical devices. Relieved to see that there weren't any, he grabbed his shower supplies and made his way to the bathroom.
Once in the shower, he thought about the whole Secret Santa question. He still hadn't worked out who had given 'Lock and the others their gifts, though he had his opinion. They'd all been comparing notes the night before, and he thought most of them were heading up blind alleys. If he was right, it wasn't anyone the others were likely to guess.
He'd considered and dismissed Kitty as a possibility, knowing she could get pretty much anywhere without being seen, which was essential when it came to putting something in Warlock's room when he was actually in it. But with very few exceptions, she really didn't know the New Mutants well enough to buy them gifts that suited each of them so well. Which, in his mind, left only one probable culprit...
He turned off the water, and groped for his towel. Instead, he found a small package. Blinking the water out of his eyes, he looked it over, then ripped it open, a huge grin on his face.
Inside, he found an apparently used video game he'd been searching for since his own had broken several months before. Closer examination revealed that the box had been bent and banged to "look" used, when in fact it probably wasn't. His smile grew larger. For once, he was a step ahead of his teammates. He KNEW who the Secret Santa was. Whistling, he made his way back to his room. He couldn't wait to show Kitty his gift. And, if her roommate happened to be there, well, so much the better.
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin
Ha! Got to do a delivery in the guys' shower - talk about a definite perk! Too bad it was Doug and not Roberto showering, but still, not a bad view...
Doug's on to me. He flew into our room to show Kitty the video game I'd been so careful to distress, but he kept smiling at me, even after they'd hooked up the game console and started playing it. They weren't supposed to do that in our room, either - Magneto thinks both of them need to socialize more, and he's not too thrilled about Doug coming in our room anyway - but they both know I won't say anything. Especially since they usually invite me to play, too. This one's my favorite, and I was almost as bummed as Doug when it broke - I guess we played it too much or something.
I kind of guessed Doug would be the first to figure it out, actually, but he won't say anything. Aside from Kitty, he's the only one here who knows me well enough to consider me in the role; we may snub each other in public, but we get along pretty well when we're away from the others, if Kitty's there too. Speaking of whom, I'm still annoyed that Kitty hasn't pieced it together, though I think this is the first time she's heard of anyone else getting gifts, which probably has a lot to do with it.
Back in a bit - Doug just asked if I want to play, too.
I'm back, Diary. Good game - I forgot just how much I liked it. Doug definitely knows - he gave me a hug on the way out. I brushed it off, of course - the demon sorceress doesn't accept hugs graciously - but it was kind of nice. Kitty's really been looking at me oddly whenever she doesn't think I'm looking, so I'm guessing she may know too. It's about time - I would've thought my roomie knew me better than this.
Stevie's taking some of the kids caroling tonight. I almost invited myself along, until I remembered I didn't know any of the carols, anyway. Besides, I need to do some thinking about tomorrow's gift. I'm going to need some outside help on this one. I think Kurt would be my best bet - he's got enough of a sense of humor to find the whole thing amusing, and won't argue the paradox with me like Storm would.
Roberto had been hanging around his room all day, feeling more than a little depressed.
He knew his mom's work was important, but he'd really been counting on going home for Christmas. It had all been planned, when his mother got a last-minute call from a colleague, asking if she could come give a second opinion on a site he'd discovered in the Amazon. And, of course, she'd agreed.
He couldn't say that he even blamed her, exactly, but...well, it WAS Christmas. And he WAS her only son. Promises that they'd get together and celebrate later didn't exactly make up for the disappointment now.
Sighing, he left his room, heading off to the bathroom.
When he returned, he found a package on his bed. "Ah, the Secret Santa strikes!" he said, his mood improving slightly. Picking it up, he quickly tore off the paper, throwing it onto the floor, and found a video tape. Puzzled, he looked at it more closely, and grinned when he saw the label on the tape. Somehow, someone had recorded all his favorite Magnum PI episodes. Happy for the first time all day, he didn't even question how they'd managed it as he ran out the door to show Sam and arrange a marathon viewing.
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
I didn't think Roberto was EVER going to leave his room, and it's just dumb luck I saw him do it - I was on my way over to ask Sam for his Biology notes. I kind of skipped the class, which means Magneto's put out with me, but I had to get things setup for 'Berto's present, and I screwed up the timing on the return trip.
Kurt was a good choice; he didn't worry about the time paradox when I handed him the list of episodes six months ago, and when they would be on TV. I'm just lucky that Roberto keeps a list of his favorites (I still can't believe he does that), and that the channel's website keeps a listing of when they were on. Anyway, when I got back I stopped by Kurt's room, and he handed me the videotape, a big grin on his face.
I think my past bothers him less than it does the others; it must be because of Amanda. But what's the use of time-traveling teleportation abilities if you don't use them?
The X-Men left shortly after that, and thanks to my timing screw-up I haven't seen Kitty all day. She left me a note, though, saying that we needed to talk when she got back. I hope she isn't mad at me; I think she really hoped the dragon was from Doug.
Anyway, gotta go - I'm going down to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas with the rest of the gang and see what the fuss is all about. Doug hasn't said anything, btw, and seems to be getting quite a kick out of everyone trying to sound each other out - he winked at me across the room as Roberto announced some totally ridiculous guess as to who the gifts were from. I grinned quickly before restoring my "I'm above all this nonsense" expression, but it was all I could do to keep from laughing. The current, most popular theory is that "everyone else" is in on it. Though Sam keeps looking at me thoughtfully.
When Eric Magnus Lenscherr entered his office that morning, his mind was on the evening's planned activities, so he didn't notice the wrapped box sitting in the middle of his desk immediately. When he did, he sighed.
He wasn't unaware of the "Secret Santa" who'd been leaving gifts for his students; in fact, he would have been hard pressed to be oblivious to it, as it was all the students had been talking about for days, much to the detriment of their studies. He hadn't spent any of his own time speculating as to who was the culprit, though he thought it likely Ororo was responsible - he was just grateful that the Christmas season was almost over. Hopefully, his students would focus on their educations once the excitement had died down, though he supposed that was too much to expect. After all, there really was no sign that they ever had before.
Taking into account that he didn't even celebrate Christmas, he thought it understandable that he had no great enthusiasm when he picked up the package on his desk and read the tag.
"Hmmph, to Magneto from his Secret Santa. One would have thought I would have rated some other form of address, after all this time. But I suppose someone should be commended for the thought behind the deed, nonetheless." He opened the paper and the box inside, and pulled out a small wooden plaque. And he smiled.
"Teachers Touch the Hearts of Others," he read aloud, settling back in his chair as he held the plaque in front of him.
Front the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells - my last delivery is made! And the Grinch himself came out of his office looking a little misty-eyed. Guess I got this one right!
You know, it's funny - no one has realized that I didn't get a gift. Maybe they think that I just haven't mentioned it; maybe they figure demon sorceresses don't deserve Christmas presents anyway. I just wish...
This has been lots of fun, it really has. I'm happy that everyone liked their gifts, and I had a good time selecting and delivering them. But something's still missing. Despite everything I've done, I still didn't really get involved with the Christmas season, not the way I wanted to. Like always, I've been on the periphery of everything, not a part of it.
And besides, hardly anyone even realized it was me.
"Merry Christmas, Roomie!" Kitty proclaimed loudly, and Illyana opened one eye to glare at her.
"You don't even celebrate Christmas," she accused her exuberant roommate. "Let me sleep."
"Well, everyone else around here does - why should I be left out of the fun?" Kitty asked, shrugging. "Besides, I got you a pres-ent," she sing-songed, dangling a blue and silver wrapped package in front of Illyana's face. "But if you don't want it..."
"Give me that!" Illyana yelled excitedly, jumping out of bed and grabbing for the package, only to have her hands pass through it. "Hey, that's not fair!"
"Well, neither was leaving me the stuffed dragon without signing the tag," Kitty accused her, laughing, then came and gave her a hug. "And then you let me prattle on about it - at least you didn't let me go thank Doug! I'd have crawled in a hole in the ground. I'm guessing you're responsible for all the other 'Secret Santa' presents as well?"
"Guilty as charged," Illyana replied, a blush appearing on her fair skin. "Took you long enough," she grumbled. "I thought you'd be the first to figure it out."
"I might have been, if I'd heard the X-Babies were getting presents too," Kitty said, shrugging. "You know they don't talk to me."
"Yeah well, I'm on their team and they don't talk to me either," Illyana replied, then grinned menacingly. "Now, are you going to give me the present? Or am I going to have to teleport you to Limbo to get it?"
"Once a demon sorceress, always a demon sorceress," Kitty answered, laughing, but she handed Illyana the gift. Illyana pulled it out of her hands and sat back down on her bed, the package in her lap.
"Well, aren't you going to open it?" Kitty asked impatiently.
"Hmm? Oh, yeah!" Illyana replied, ripping the wrapping paper off and revealing a white box. Opening it, she peered in and burst out laughing.
"Is this what I think it is?" she asked Kitty, who grinned sheepishly.
"I don't know if you remember..."
"Of COURSE I do!" Illyana said, pulling out the stuffed blue doll and hugging it. "Are you kidding? I loved that story! I never thought I'd have my own Bamf doll, though!"
"Well, just be careful with it," Kitty cautioned, blushing. "I don't sew very well, and I'm not sure it'll stay together...unfortunately, you can't find blue fuzzy elves on the shelf at Shopko. Though I DID try..."
"It'll be fine," Illyana reassured her, making a mental note to cast a preservation spell on it the next time she was in Limbo. There was no way this Christmas gift was falling apart!
"Kitty? Illyana? Are you in there?" she heard from outside the door, and answered, "No Dougie, we're not here, we got run over by a reindeer!"
"Should've figured that'd be the one Christmas song YOU'd remember!" he answered laughing. "Come on down - everyone's up and getting ready to raid the tree, but Ororo told them they had to wait until you guys got up.
"Are you ready?" Kitty asked Illyana, who grabbed her bathrobe from the end of her bed and threw it on.
"Wouldn't miss it!" she replied, still clutching her Bamf doll, and the two opened the door to reveal Doug. He was wearing his own bathrobe, and seemed oblivious to the fact that it had come open just enough to reveal a pair of candy cane covered boxer shorts underneath. Kitty giggled, but Illyana just eyed him up and down. "New look for you, Doug - I like it!"
Doug glanced down, blushed, and quickly pulled his bathrobe closed.
"Awwww....," Illyana and Kitty chorused.
"Are you guys coming or what!" they heard Dani yell from the bottom of the stairs.
"We're coming!" all three of them shouted back, and headed down the stairs, laughing.
From the Diary of Illyana Rasputin:
You know, I really enjoyed this Christmas after all. Most of my teammates never figured out who it was who played "Secret Santa" this year, but it really didn't matter. The ones who knew me best figured it out.
So did Sam - he pulled me over to the side of the room, saying he wanted to talk to me...
Illyana leaned back in her chair, remembering the conversation. She'd been talking with Dani, much to Rahne's annoyance, and showing her the snowflake earrings Piotr had gotten her, when Sam had walked up.
"Hey, Illyana, ya got a sec?"
Dani kind of waved goodbye nonchalantly, and Sam walked her over to the side of the room.
"Umm, 'Yana, Ah don't know that Ah'm supposed to have figured it out, and Ah won't say anything to anyone else, if you don't want me to, but Ah wanted to thank you for the present."
She didn't know what to say, and decided that denial was her best choice. "What present?" she asked innocently, her heart pounding.
Sam just grinned at her. "Ya know, you're not so tough as ya like to pretend ya are," he said, then leaned forward and gave her an awkward hug. "Thanks again, the tape was perfect. And, just in case they don't tell ya themselves, their gifts were perfect, too.
He walked away, leaving Illyana with a warm-feeling face that bore a silly grin on it.
Pulling herself back out of the memory, she typed,
That guy is just too damn perceptive. And so is Magneto.
He called me into his office after breakfast, while everyone else was still sitting around and chowing down the remnants of their French toast. I went reluctantly, figuring he was going to hand out my punishment for missing Biology the other day, but he didn't even mention it. He just asked me how I'd enjoyed the holidays this year. When I shrugged, he mentioned casually that his own had been better than usual, and gestured toward the wall where the plaque I'd given him was hanging.
"It is nice to know I'm making an impression," he said quietly.
"I suppose - everyone likes to be appreciated," I shrugged, pretending not to know what he was referring to.
"True enough," he agreed, and got to his feet. "And I wished to let you know, Ms. Rasputin, that your - efforts - are appreciated as well."
Who'd have thought, huh?
I guess I've got this Christmas thing down pat. Now, if my teammates would just figure it out too...
Anyway, Diary, gotta go. The X-Men and New Mutants are having a joint Christmas party downstairs. I wouldn't miss it for anything!