Remy LeBeau prided himself on being an excellent gift-giver. There were two parts to the skill; the first was an intimate knowledge of his gift recipients. Remy's upbringing had made him superb at reading people. He noticed when someone started wearing a sweater with holes in it, and knew the difference between stylized "distressed" sweaters and sweaters that were actually too old. He listened when people said, "Oh, I wish I had..." and filed that information away. He knew what clothing would look good on whom and he knew who was allergic to tree nuts and who wanted to take up yoga this year.
Remy also genuinely enjoyed shopping--almost as much as he had once enjoyed stealing. The downfall of many gift-givers was to give up after one or two stores. He knew that you had to prowl them all, including the clearance racks, because great things could come from unexpected places.
And now it was Christmas morning, and he was about to see his dear friends and students reap the benefits of his shopping. Remy treasured the gifts he received, of course, but his very favorite part of Christmas was to watch others open their presents from him, and to almost always see genuine delight on their faces. He'd watched in satisfaction as Jean opened her new green cashmere sweater, as Scott opened his DVD box set of John Wayne movies, and as Ro opened her exquisite hand-blown glass garden globes. Now it was time for Remy and Logan to exchange gifts, and Remy was surprised to realize he felt a little nervous. Though he and Logan had technically known each other for going on fifteen years, this would be their first Christmas together, and Logan was not a man known for romantic gestures.
Sitting in the mansion's biggest living room, around an enormous Christmas tree that glowed with twinkling white lights and dozens of ornaments, Remy opened his gift from Logan and was pleasantly surprised to find a lovely Art Deco coffee table book.
"Merci, Logan, it's beautiful," Remy said, happily perusing the book.
"Welcome," Logan said, a little sheepishly. "Rogue helped me pick it out."
Remy turned to look at the teenager, who had opted to stay at the mansion over the holiday rather than face rejection in Mississippi or awkwardness at Bobby Drake's house. "Then thank you, Rogue, you have excellent taste."
She shrugged. "I just know, um, in class you said how much you liked Art Deco stuff. But mostly it wouldn't fit in with the stuff at the mansion."
"Good memory, petite," he said. Rogue had the marks of becoming an excellent gift-giver, he reflected.
Logan picked up his gift from Remy and frowned. Though it was a large box, it was extremely lightweight. He carefully peeled back the green-and-gold paper and found a boot box. He opened the boot box and pulled out an internet printoff. Logan peered at it and said, "You bought a cabin?"
There was general exclamation from the rest of the group, and Remy clarified, "Non, non, just rented it. For a week. Starting tomorrow. I got your suitcase all packed for you and everything."
Logan studied the printout again. The cabin was located in the Adirondacks and advertised itself as being ideal for hunting, skiing, and snowmobiling. It was in the middle of nowhere. It was not Remy's idea of a dream vacation, but he knew that Logan was a man who enjoyed solitude. It was hard for Logan to be surrounded by so many people at the mansion day-in and day-out, and Remy thought it would do him some good to get away from it all for awhile. For his part, Remy hoped the cabin would have a bearskin rug. Even if it didn't, at least it had a bed and a fireplace, and Remy planned to make good use of those.
Logan looked up from the paper and grinned. "Oughta be a real nice time," he said, which Remy knew was high praise from Logan. Remy returned the grin.
Jubilee said, "Seriously, you guys are going further north? It's gonna be freezing. Mr. LeBeau, you should have rented a beach house. In like Florida or something."
Rogue said, "Nah, I think it's, like, romantic." Then she blushed a little bit.
"Thanks for the opinions from the Peanut Gallery," Logan said. "Jubes, you have any idea how many tourists are gonna be in Florida this time of year?" He shuddered at the thought of it.
"Whatever," Jubilee said.
Before long, all the gifts had been opened, and all the wrapping paper carefully placed in the recycling bin. They all sat down to a huge meal and ate too much food, and then they collapsed back into the living room to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol. Logan slipped out halfway through for a smoke break, and Remy waited a few minutes before joining him. He flipped his collar against the cold on the balcony and cupped his hand against the wind to light his cigarette. Remy hated smoking in the winter.
Logan grinned and said, "So, I'm gonna have you all to myself for a week?"
"Mm. What are you going to do with me, cher?"
Logan puffed his cigar and said, thoughtfully, "Might just leave you inside while I go hunting by myself."
"Hmph," Remy pouted.
Logan continued, "Deer, rabbits, 'n bear are all in season. Maybe I'll make you a bearskin rug."
Remy knew Logan was kidding but he couldn't help but perk up at that, and Logan laughed. "Well. I'll have to see what I can do about that. Anyway, after a long morning of hunting, I'll probably just want to come in, warm up, and fuck you."
Remy tossed his hair. "That's better, cher." He finished his cigarette quickly and said, "Brr. I'm goin' inside."
"Hope you packed a scarf for our trip," Logan said.
"I thought of everything," Remy promised, and he went back inside to warm up and watch Scrooge learn a valuable lesson about the meaning of Christmas.
The next morning, Remy and Logan dressed and headed out to the black Jeep 4x4 that Remy had already packed up. Logan laughed. "We're only gonna be gone a week, Remy."
"Well, it sounded like the nearest store was kinda far away. Wanted to make sure we had enough food. And booze."
"Mm. Can't argue with that, I guess," Logan said.
"Here, cher, I'll read the map if you drive."
The drive took them a little over five hours. Remy guided them to the rental office, where he picked up the key to their cabin, and then further into the woods. Remy shivered when they arrived at their destination. It was in the middle of fucking nowhere. For all Logan teased him about being a "swamp rat," Remy was a city kid--a Southern city kid--and he was not used to this kind of thing, however beautiful the snow-covered pines might be. He hoped Logan appreciated the sacrifice Remy was making here.
Logan gave him a surprisingly soft look as he pulled up the Jeep. "Ah, Remy, it's perfect."
Remy smiled. "Good, cher, then let's unpack the car." Logan snorted at all the stuff Remy had packed--two coolers, three bags of dry goods, two suitcases, a bag of extra bedding, two pairs of ice skates, and hockey equipment--but he dutifully helped carry it all in.
Remy beamed when he first set foot in the cabin--the main room had a small kitchenette, a leather sofa, a fireplace, and a bearskin rug. After they unpacked the car, Logan started a fire, and they settled down to break in the bearskin rug. Afterward, Remy nestled against Logan on the soft fur and said, "I definitely want one of these for Christmas next year."
Logan laughed, kissed his shoulder, and said, "I'll see what I can do, darlin'."
That night Logan cooked them some steaks and they settled in for an extremely enjoyable evening. Remy was glad he'd packed plenty of lube, even if Logan thought the variety was excessive.
The next morning, after coffee and a big breakfast, Logan asked him if he wanted to try out the hockey gear.
"Sure thing, mon coeur," Remy said confidently. "There's supposed to be a little pond back behind here somewhere." He bundled up in what Logan assured him was a ridiculous amount of clothing, and they headed out in search of the pond. The snow was up to Remy's knees and it got inside his boots. But it was only day two of their winter getaway, and Remy vowed to keep his whining to a minimum. This was supposed to be his gift to Logan, after all.
They found the promised pond after a ten-minute hike. Logan eyed it and said it looked "frozen enough," and they swapped their boots for skates. Remy had never actually ice skated before, but he was great at street hockey.
Logan dragged a few branches out onto the ice and designated them the goals. "What d'ya say, Remy, first to ten wins?"
"Fine by me," Remy said, tentatively stepping out on the ice. He was a graceful athlete and he figured he'd get the hang of skating pretty quickly.
Logan eyed him. "You ain't never done this, have you?"
"Well, no," Remy admitted. "Can't be that hard though, right? I mean, Canadians can do it."
Logan growled and skated after Remy, who laughed. "Hey, I got the puck," he said. "We gonna play hockey or what?"
"Bring it on, Remy." They skated out to the rough middle between their two goals. Remy fished the puck out of a pocket and ceremoniously set it on the ice. Logan snagged it and was off toward Remy's goal in an instant. Remy hurried after him, trying to get around him, but Logan was surprisingly fast on the ice. He knocked the puck into Remy's branch before Remy could catch him.
Logan shook his head sadly. "And here I thought this was gonna be a challenge."
"Hmph," Remy said. "One to zero now. I still got plenty of time to make a comeback."
They played for most of the morning. Logan won their first match. Their rematch was at Logan seven, Remy five, and Remy stopped to shuck off a layer of clothing. He was starting to warm up, both from all the physical activity and the bright winter sun that was now high in the sky. They got back on the ice, and Remy went toward Logan's goal, determined to catch up. He knocked the puck into the branch and skated out past it, attempting to do a spin.
"You're a goof," Logan said fondly. He followed and skated literal circles around Remy.
"Hey, not all of us--" Remy started, when he heard a sound like a gunshot. He looked around for a hunter, until he realized that the sound had been the ice cracking. Logan had fallen through. "Merde," Remy swore, and tried to remember what to do in this situation. He got down on his belly and slithered toward Logan, holding his hockey stick out for Logan to grab.
"Dammit, Logan," Remy yelled, "Grab the stick!" There was a sickening pause, and then he felt Logan's weight on the end of the stick. He cautiously began pulling back, and he saw Logan emerge from the water. He sighed with relief. The relief was short-lived, however, as the ice again cracked. This time, Remy and Logan both splashed into the water.
Remy gasped; if he'd thought the snow was cold, it was nothing compared to this water. It was so cold it burned. He frantically tried to tread water, but his clothes were so heavy. He tried to kick off his skates, but he'd laced them too tightly. He heard Logan call, "Remy!"
He said, "Yeah!" because he didn't know what else to say. He tried to grab the edge of the ice and pull himself out, but it cracked and he fell forward into the water again. God, it was so cold. He felt himself shivering violently.
He was confused to feel hands pulling him out of the water. "Remy, it's gonna be okay," he heard a voice say. The voice sounded familiar but he couldn't place it.
"Mm," he said. He thought it was colder now that he was out of the water, and he moaned.
"Dammit, Remy," the voice muttered. Remy felt himself being dragged along the ice. His teeth were chattering so hard it hurt, but he couldn't seem to stop. His hair froze in brittle chunks around his face. Then his motion paused for a moment and he felt himself swept up in someone's arms.
"S'cold," he said through chattering teeth.
The voice sighed. "Yeah, Remy, it's cold. We're gonna get inside, okay?"
Remy wrapped his arms around Logan's neck and nestled against his shoulder.
"Hey. Remy. Don't go to sleep on me."
"T-tired," Remy whined.
"I know, darlin'."
Remy sighed and closed his eyes. He opened them abruptly when Logan slapped him. "Hey!" Remy protested.
"Remy. You go to sleep right now, you might not wake up."
"Mm." Remy fought to keep his eyes open against the cold. He kept failing and Logan kept slapping him awake. After an eternity, they made it back to their cabin. Logan carefully set Remy down on the toilet and said, "Remy, you got to get out of your wet clothes."
Remy sighed. "I'm cold," he said.
"Your wet clothes ain't helpin' any," Logan said. He was running the tap water in the bathtub. Remy didn't want more water. "Remy! Take your damn clothes off," Logan said. He'd already taken his clothes off, somehow.
Remy fumbled with his coat but found his fingers to be stiff and awkward. "Logan, m' fingers don't work so good." Logan sighed. He stood up and unbuttoned Remy's jacket. Then he popped a claw and gently shredded the rest of Remy's clothing. "Hey," Remy protested.
"Shut up," Logan said, lovingly. He scooped Remy up and carefully deposited him in the tub. Remy flinched, but the water was warm. He sighed happily.
Logan left the bathroom and came back with a plastic cup from the kitchen. He carefully filled it and poured warm water over Remy's frozen hair. Remy blinked at him and Logan laughed. "You coming back to me?" he asked.
"Didn't go nowhere," Remy replied. His teeth had stopped chattering, at least. Logan smiled at him and kept gently bathing Remy. Remy closed his eyes and enjoyed Logan's touch. Before long Logan said, "All right, Remy, let's get you out of there."
Remy accepted Logan's grip, shivering as he stepped out of the tub. Logan wrapped him in a fluffy towel and thoroughly dried him off. Then he put an arm around Remy and propelled him into the bedroom. "Get in the bed, Remy." He obeyed and snuggled down under the flannel sheets and warm down comforter.
Remy batted his eyes and said, "Awful lonely, cher."
Logan laughed. "Now I know you're feeling better." He stroked Remy's hair and said, "I'll be there in a minute." Remy closed his eyes and curled up, hugging his arms around himself. He listened and realized that Logan was building a fire in the bedroom fireplace. Before long, he could feel its warmth, and then he felt the greater warmth of Logan's body behind him. Logan wrapped his arms tightly around Remy. He could feel Logan's bearded chin rubbing against his shoulder. Remy sighed and happily squirmed closer to Logan. Logan responded with rough kisses against Remy's shoulder and throat.
"Merci, Logan," Remy murmured.
"Course, Remy. You think I was just gonna leave you there in the lake?"
"How'd you get out of there, anyway?"
"I have a healing factor, remember? Don't get hypothermia. Not like you."
Remy gave a little shudder against Logan's chest. "Jubilee was right," he muttered.
"We should have gone to Florida."
Logan laughed. "Don't know about that, Remy. Florida this time of year's gonna be full of bratty kids with Mickey Mouse inner tubes. "
"Mm," Remy said. He supposed New York wasn't so bad, after all. He dozed off in Logan's arms, warm and safe.