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Mutant League: The Christmas Tangent

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"This is the life, huh bro?" Razor asked with a cheeky grin. "Being at the League's beck and call, needing to be in certain cities at certain times, even if it's inconvenient..."

Bones looked up from the magazine he was reading long enough to shoot him a weary look. "Yes, yes, my duties are just as heavy now as coach as they were as team captain," he said, shifting his head in a way that told his best friend that he was rolling his blood-red eyes behind his dark sunglasses. "And you're retired, so you can do whatever you want. Why'd you tag along on this trip again?"

Razor continued to grin. "Because I knew that Sherry was busy and you'd get lonely," he teased.

Bones let out a grunt and went back to his magazine, but a moment later his expression softened a little. "Thanks," he said quietly. "It would have been pretty boring without you."

"Anytime."

Razor leaned forward to snatch up a handful of chocolates from the bowl on the coffee table in front of him before settling back in his plush seat again, absently popping one of the sweets in his mouth from time to time as he looked around. He and Bones were sitting in the large lobby of the hotel they were staying at. It was a classy, expensive place...which apparently didn't scrimp whatsoever when it came time to decorate for the holidays.

Multicolored lights were strung along the walls and around posts; garland adorned the banisters; sprigs of holly and holly berries were tucked everywhere; smiling snowmen and penguins perched on tables and the front desk, and the voice coming over the speakers overhead sounded extra perky as it sang about the most wonderful time of the year.

The two girls who were working behind the front desk looked like a pair of helper elves, what with their matching Santa hats, bright red sweaters and green plaid pants. One girl had glittery snowflakes for earrings while the other wore what looked like mini glass ball ornaments that glinted in the light. They were both goofing around between customers, joking and playing with the decorations and making each other laugh.

Razor glanced at them, his grin turning sly as he suddenly remembered something. "Hey, Bones...did I ever tell you about the first time Dare and I celebrated Christmas together?"

Bones let out another grunt and sat lower in his seat. "No, and something tells me I want to keep it that way," he muttered.

Razor folded his arms and scowled, pretending to be put out. "Why is it every time I start talking about me and my wife, you automatically assume I'm going to say something dirty?"

"I dunno...because usually that's exactly what happens?"

Razor scowled harder, and Bones eventually, posture drooping in resignation, set his magazine aside. "Okay," he said, sounding like he was pretty sure he was going to regret asking, "what did you two do?"

Razor's grin returned as he eagerly recalled the event in question. "Well, it was Christmas Eve, and I came home to find Dare sitting next to the tree. She was wearing one of those hats," he said, indicating to the girls working the desk, "and not a whole lot else. Just this itty-bitty red-and-white striped bikini set, and let me tell you--"

With a loud groan, Bones dropped his head and pressed a hand to his forehead. "Raze, if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times--twin sister, remember?"

Snickering, Razor relaxed further in his seat. "Sorry. But I'll say this much. I've never looked at candy canes quite the same way again."

"Don't you have somewhere else to be?" Bones asked wearily.

Razor glanced at his watch. "Yes, actually," he said, hopping up. "My flight leaves soon, so I better get to the airport."

Bones looked up in surprise. "Right now?"

"Of course, now--it's Christmas Eve, bro. The sooner I leave, the sooner I can be home spoiling my baby girl."

"Sherry won't be home until late tonight," Bones mused, "so I wasn't planning to fly back until tomorrow morning."

"Well, you'll just have to find a way to keep yourself entertained without me, because I'm heading out this very minute."

Bones smirked at him. "I'm sure I can manage. See you around, bro."

Razor bid his brother-in-law goodbye, grabbed his duffel bag full of clothes from his room, then turned in his key at the front desk. Outside, the hotel was as brightly decorated as the inside, so it was by cheerful blinking lights that he stood at the curb and waited for a cab. The glow from the lights was closely contained around the hotel, like it was on the inside of a snow globe, because the early evening sky above was dark and murky with storm clouds, and the snow that was falling thickly billowed in puffs around him as gusts of wind started up.

It was a cold, unpleasant kind of night, and he tugged the fur collar of his thick coat up and tightened his scarf around his neck. His lizoid body didn't appreciate this kind of weather, but thankfully he didn't have to wait long for a ride. The hotel was only a few blocks from the airport, so the trip was short, and he hurried up the walk and into the main lobby.

It wasn't as brightly-lit or festively decorated as the hotel, and the music coming over the speakers was quieter, a mix of old tunes and elevator music. It wasn't likely, he thought with a smirk, for them to start playing a track from the album Derikka released a few years ago. Nothing quite said 'tidings of comfort and joy' like his Dare's soaring voice belting out God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen amid electric guitars abusing their wah pedals.

Accompanied by an acoustic version of Jingle Bells, Razor hurried to the front desk to check in on his flight. "I reserved a seat over the phone yesterday," he told the tired-looking male mutant working the computer. "It should--"

"I'm sorry," he said, cutting him off, "but all of the flights scheduled for tonight have been canceled on account of the blizzard."

Razor stared in shock. "Blizzard?" he echoed dumbly.

"Didn't you see the weather out there?" the desk clerk asked wearily. "It's about a thousand times worse along the plane's flight path. The entire airport is grounded until it clears."

Razor's heart started to drop into his snow boots; he quickly gave himself a shake. Maybe it wasn't that bad. "When will things clear up?" he asked.

"According to the weather map, not until sometime late tomorrow morning."

"But," Razor stammered, heart dropping again, "that means I won't be able to get home until late, maybe not until the afternoon or evening. I bought tickets in advance, isn't there--"

"A way I can move the blizzard for you?" the clerk interrupted testily. "Sure, just let me go in the back and get out my trusty earth-orbit adjusting equipment."

With a face, Razor started to say something...then changed his mind and closed his mouth. The clerk was clearly worn out and upset--upset because he was stuck here on Christmas Eve, and upset that he had to tell everyone who came in tonight that they were stuck, too. Turning around, Razor saw that the waiting area was full of unhappy-looking couples, individuals and families, all with nowhere else to be until their flights were clear for takeoff.

Murmuring an apology, Razor grabbed his duffel bag, found an empty seat and sank into it. To his left, in a loveseat next to a table littered with magazines, was a tired young mother cradling a fussy baby. Curled up next to them was a teen girl, who had her eyes glued to a handheld game and her ears covered by a pair of headphones.

There were others--all of them looking equally unhappy--but Razor didn't let his eyes wander. Instead he let them go a little unfocused as his mind grappled with the situation. Honestly...he was kind of heart-broken. Never in all his years of marriage had he missed spending Christmas with his family. Despite this track record, he probably wouldn't have been all that upset at this point if it were only him and Dare. He would call her up and tell her what was going on, and she would probably suggest they meet somewhere later, so they could have a day of fun together before flying home again.

And not spending Christmas Day with Trina wouldn't hurt, either--it had already happened. Last year saw the start of her first college semester, so when Christmas break rolled around, she was so wrapped up in her studies, making new friends and just enjoying her first real taste of independence, both she and Regina had opted to celebrate on campus and didn't come home until New Year's.

He had been a little disappointed at first...but Derikka had quickly turned his frown upside down by suggesting they take a private trip for just the two of them. They spent a week in the mountains, sledding and skiing and cuddling by the fire in what basically became a mirror of their honeymoon. It had been a blast, and he wouldn't mind doing it again someday.

But this year, well...things were different. He had a very good reason for wanting to be home, and the thought that he wasn't going to be, that he was going to miss everything...it made his throat tighten uncomfortably.

As if sensing his pain, the radio decided to join in and play the most depressing Christmas song ever written.

I'll be home for Christmas, a male voice he didn't know warbled, If only in my dreams...

Grumbling, Razor sank lower in his seat. "That's right," he muttered under his breath, "kick me when I'm down."

He tried not to, but he started picturing his living room at home, decorated to perfection by his pretty little wife, who tomorrow morning would have to sit down by the tree and explain that he wasn't going to be there this year--this special year...

Okay, that was too much. He made a point not to start bawling in public, and he hastily grabbed his duffel bag and scurried back out into the howling wind and churning snow. It had grown a lot worse in the time he had spent indoors, and he could barely see the lights from streetlamps and businesses lining the streets. There wasn't a car in sight, and it was too cold to stay out here standing still, waiting vainly for a ride. With a miserable sniff, he started trudging through the heavy snow at his feet, heading back toward the hotel.

He couldn't really see where he was going and wouldn't normally have tried to walk through a snow storm in the dark, but it was a straight line from the airport parking lot to the hotel, so he followed the bits of sidewalk he could see until he spotted the hotel sign, which had a stocking made from red neon light attached to the bottom.

When he stumbled into the lobby, he shook the snow off his jacket and jeans before checking the time; a little over an hour had passed since he first left for the airport. If there was no way to take off tonight, then he might as well sleep here and check on things in the morning. He was about to head for the front desk to get another room when he spied Bones coming down the stairs by the sitting area.

The skeletoid stopped and looked at him in surprise when he saw him. "I thought you left," he noted as he hurried over.

"I tried," Razor said miserably. "All the planes are grounded due to the blizzard. I figured I'd crash here and head over there again in the morning. Plus I need to call Dare and explain what's going on."

He wasn't looking forward to how disappointed he knew the news would make her. Bones suddenly reached over and took his duffel bag. "Before you do that, why don't you go up and relax in my room for a minute," he said, handing him a room key. "You look like you could use a rest."

Razor absently mumbled his thanks and headed upstairs. His steps felt heavy, and his cold hands fumbled the key as he unlocked the room door. As he pushed it open he saw a light on inside--and someone he hadn't been expecting to see.

With a cry of surprise, Derikka hopped up from the chair she'd been sitting in and ran to throw her arms around him. "What are you doing here?" she asked. "Bones said your plane left an hour ago!"

"Uh, it was delayed," Razor responded, feeling a little dazed. "What are you doing here?"

"Here to surprise you, of course," his tiny wife explained, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Her arms tightened as she cuddled her head against his middle. "I got bored waiting for you to come home, so I flew out this morning. I spent the day in town and then came here to the hotel as soon as I thought you'd be here--I almost started crying when Bones told me you decided to go home early."

"I just about did the same thing when they told me leaving town is impossible right now."

But he was all smiles as he cupped his wife's face. "Doesn't matter. You're here now. And you brought...?"

Derikka gave a laugh and pulled away. "Of course I did. It's her very first Christmas and it wouldn't feel right if the three of us didn't spend it together."

Heart aching in agreement, Razor hurried in the direction she pointed to and soon found the kicking bundle on the bed, wrapped up in a pink fleece blanket embroidered with pictures of happily skiing snowmen. He hastily shed his cold jacket and gently scooped the little bundle in his arms. "Hey, Sunni," he cooed at the little face smiling up at him. "Daddy's here."

Unlike her big sister, whose arrival in their lives had been a surprise, adding a second child to their family had been carefully planned...albeit abruptly. When she was born a short time later, a perfect miniature of her mother, Razor took one look at her bright eyes and warm as summer sunshine smile and promptly threw out all of the names they had been considering in lieu of one he felt fit her perfectly.

Smiling softly, he sat down on the bed; Derikka hastily climbed up beside him and rested her head on his arm. "If I had known you were coming," Razor murmured, kissing his baby girl's forehead, "I would have picked something up for you."

Right now, all her presents were back home, wrapped and tucked under the tree. Derikka slid her arm around his waist and brushed a hand across his cheek. "I think she has the same opinion as me," she noted with a smile. "She's happy just having you."

Looking at the two of them, so happy and content just because they were together, Razor realized that the only one who expected Sunni's first Christmas to be perfect was him. A sense of calmness settled over him, and he rested against his petite wife a little; she smiled and tightened her arms around him. "How about we spend tomorrow morning with her uncle, going around town seeing the sights, pigging out, singing carols, playing in the snow...and then fly home to pick up her big sister?"

Derikka laughed softly. "Sounds perfect."