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Snow Patrol

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The snowball fight was not the shocking thing—it was clear from the moment they stepped outside that Alex was going to instigate the fight. For Moira, the only real question was who out of the available parties he was going to throw the first compacted ball at. She excused herself to go make a tray of tea and hot chocolate for everyone, already bundled up into jackets and scarves and gloves, thus removing herself from the equation. Her guess was on Hank.

When she came back a few minutes later there wasn't a single person left on the porch, and the most surprising thing was the fact that it included Erik and Charles. The two older men were standing as ankle-deep in fresh snow as the kids, throwing snowballs at each other and whoever got in their path. After the short bursts of running they ended up in a circle, all vulnerable to the same attacks without feeling any real need for proper defenses. She supposed that was the point of the mansion, of coming here, of Charles and Erik's search across the country for mutants.

Alex stuck his tongue out, wiggling his fingers in Charles' direction as the latter was crushing snow into a neat white ball in his hands. Erik seemed to be eyeing Sean, who looked like he was about to take a running tackle or possibly just dive in the way for Alex's sake. Moira couldn't tell if Erik noticed that Raven was watching him with the same look.

Then Charles changed tactics, and Hank let out a yelp of surprise when it hit him in the shoulder. Raven twisted her lunge to Charles, knocking him into the snow as retribution. When Erik moved to help him, Alex pelted him with a hidden snowball and the chase was on, with Sean and Hank standing back trying to hit the targets running circles around them.

It looked as wrong as it did right, and she couldn't think of any other way to describe what had unfolded in front of her. It was like they all belonged there, laughing and chasing each other. Even without the use of their powers—except Raven, who was in her rather impressive blue form—they seemed like a family. There was more keeping them together now than mutations and a shared pain. There was a shared future here, she could feel it.

Minutes passed where she just watched, sipping at her hot chocolate (she didn't like tea and no amount of fancy British persuasion was going to sway her) until the others seemed to notice her presence. Charles was the first to retreat towards the back porch, swatting a hand over his shoulder in a 'don't hit me, I give' gesture that made Raven and Sean give a chorus of disappointed 'aw's. They then proceeded to throw their already-made snow balls at each other.

Erik followed a second later, trailing and yet not following, after Charles, like the little game had significantly less appeal for him if he wouldn't be involved. Moira watched them chat as they stepped onto the porch, smiling at the look Charles sent her way. He touched her arm as he passed, a soft “Thank you, love” slipping through before his attention went back to Erik. It was sort of nice to have his attention away from her, and it was endlessly amusing how oblivious the two of them seemed to be.

She watched Charles pick out a mug from the tray, standing just a little closer than necessary while he passed it to Erik, encouraging the taller man's fingers to wrap around the edges so they'd warm up. Erik rolled his eyes, and it was impossible to tell if it was from what Charles was babbling about or if it was from his guidance. Regardless, she watched him go on to pick out his own mug before looking back at the kids, just in time to catch two different shades of blue walking past.

“It's incredible,” Hank had said. “You really aren't cold at all?”

“A little,” Raven replied. “But I could probably live without the jacket without getting, like, hypothermia, or anything.”

“Fascinating...”

They drifted past her and picked out mugs of their own, leaning against a separate section of the banister away, keeping their conversation from tangling in Charles and Erik's. She watched Sean and Alex make snow angels a little further out, where the snow hadn't been kicked up. When they got up they judged them, and whatever the decision was it ended up with Alex ruffling a bunch of snow into Sean's hair before bolting back to the porch.

“Hey, Moira—is that hot chocolate?” She didn't have to answer before he was walking past her, muttering “Sweet” when his question was confirmed. Sean was last.

“The porch is a snow-fight free zone,” she warned. “Drop it.”

“Aw, man.” He looked a little dejected, but let the snow fall off to the side of the porch and swiped his hands together.

“There's hot chocolate for you on the table,” she said. Sean seemed to brighten instantly, jogging past to snatch up the last mug before Alex could do something like put snow in it or steal it for himself.

She looked out at the kicked up yard, holes where footprints had been made, and the way that even if more snow fell it wouldn't completely erase the memory made in it.

“Beautiful, isn't it?” Charles leaned against the railing beside her, startling her from her thoughts. She watched Erik step up behind him, pointedly looking over the landscape as he casually rested his hand against Charles' back. She thought Charles might have smiled just a touch more, but she couldn't be sure.

“Yeah, it really is.”