This was written for Prompt #6 – Christmas from a table at LJ community Phase & Fire.

Now, I know we've already had Christmas, and I would have posted this earlier if it wasn't for the site being totally mean to me lol. So, nevertheless, a bit late, but I really hope you enjoy this one. I wrote it practically in one sitting, which is a complete one-off for me.

The Mystery Santa

It was late on Christmas Eve at Xavier's Institute. Resident pyromaniac, John Allerdyce, was relaxing on the sofa in the lounge room, watching Jones flick the channels between various Christmas and holiday specials as well as the occasional festive movie. John didn't have much of an affinity towards the holiday season. He thought most of it was a load of rubbish; some fat guy in a red hat giving out presents to every single child in the entire world seemed like an impossible feat to do in one night. John had always said you had to see something to believe it, which was made perfectly clear when on his thirteenth birthday he made the candlelight on his birthday cake jump straight into his palm. It was then he believed his parents' worst fear had come true – their only son was a mutant. And mutants did in fact, exist. Despite this, the only thing that John had always enjoyed about this time of the year was the food. And maybe the presents, not that he was expecting any this year.

"Could you quit changing the channel so often?" John asked Jones irritably.

Jones looked at him and replied coolly, "Well, you tell me what you want to watch."

John didn't want to admit that there wasn't actually anything, and so stood up from the couch instead. "The television is getting boring."

He exited the lounge room and was about to ascend the stairs to go to his bedroom when who should block his path but the golden couple of the year, Bobby and Rogue.

"What the hell do you want?" John sneered, his comment coming out more icily than he'd originally intended.

"Whoa dude, chill," Bobby countered, holding out his hands. "All we wanted was to ask you something." He looked over at Rogue knowingly, and she looked at John.

"Well, you see… It's Christmas and-" Rogue began, but John interrupted her.

"No shit, Sherlock. I think even a two-year-old would know that."

Bobby sent him a warning glare, but Rogue seemed unfazed and continued.

"It's Christmas," she repeated, "and on Christmas day we usually do something for the kids. Like, giving out presents and the like…" She studied John's face to see if he had caught on, but when he just stared at her blankly she blurted out, "We want you to dress up as Santa Claus and give out the presents to the kids because nobody else wants to do it and Piotr would have done it but he's in Russia for the holidays and it seems like you're not doing anything during Christmas anyway." Rogue was almost out of breath by the end of it.

John's hazel eyes darkened. "What?!" he spluttered. "You want, me, to play Santa? Tomorrow? Who do you take me for? Both of you have completely lost your minds." He turned to sidestep them but it seemed the couple had already known he was going to refuse. Bobby quickly pulled something out of his pocket, something green and thin, and thrust it into John's face before he could escape.

Right there, entwined in Bobby's fingers, was a $100 note. John's eyes went wide. He had never seen so much money held out to him before. He tried to figure out what it was worth in Australian dollars. Even though he had been at the mansion for at least five months and in the States for a bit longer than that, he still couldn't quite adjust to the change in currency.

"What's that in Australian money?" he asked, his eyes narrowed slightly.

"How the hell should I know?" Bobby asked, practically thrusting the money more so into John's face.

At this moment, Kitty Pryde walked past and happened to hear John's enquiry.

"I think it'll be about $127 or so dollars," she recalled. John turned around and looked at her.

"How the hell did you know that, Kitten?"

Kitty blushed, and said meekly, "I follow shares… and stuff like that."

"Oh," John simply said. There was an awkward silence until Kitty gestured that she was going, and promptly hurried off. John turned back to Bobby.

"Not much difference, but what the heck." He took the money and then asked, "So, where's this suit, and what exactly do I have to do?"

"Follow me," Rogue suddenly spoke up, and John followed the couple up the stairs.

A bit more than twelve hours later, John was unrecognisable. Well, as John Allerdyce of course. He was now adorned in the typical Santa Claus outfit; red and white, with a black buckle belt and big black boots. John liked the boots, but hated everything else. And most of all, he hated the fluffy white wig, beard and moustache he had to wear.

"You're not Santa without them," Rogue had reminded him. "Oh, and don't forget to stuff that pillow into your front. You need to look as if you've eaten a few good chocolate puddings and so far, you don't." She turned to leave the room, but before she did John asked her something.

"Hey uh… don't tell anybody who I am. If anyone asks just say I went into town or something." He looked a bit vulnerable, and Rogue couldn't help but smile a little.

"And what happens if I tell?"

"I'll burn something. And it won't be pretty once I'm through with it." There was definitely a serious undertone in his voice, although in the back of his mind they both knew he was joking.

"Don't worry John; your secret is safe with me. And Bobby." She grinned and left the room.

"How in the world did they manage to get me into this?" John asked himself. Then he felt the $100 note in his pocket. He mentally kicked himself. Ah, that's how they did it. DAMN IT!

Bobby watched John from the back of the lounge room and thought he was doing a pretty good job of portraying Santa. He had put on a deeper voice, and didn't flinch when the younger ones (and even some of the daring older ones) sat on his lap. Many weeks earlier presents had been organised for all of the students who were staying at the Institute for the holiday season, and so all John really had to do was take the present from his helper (which was a very jubilant Jubilee) and give it to the student it belonged to. Not all of them sat on his lap, which John was thankful for. Nobody seemed to know who he really was, either. He heard some people trying to guess, but nobody even came close.

Kitty was standing with Bobby, and she turned to him and asked, "So, who's playing Santa this year? I really can't figure it out."

"Ah, why don't you go and find out yourself?" Bobby suggested with a grin. He suspected Kitty had always had a bit of a crush on John, but had never let on that he knew.

"What do you mean?" Kitty furrowed her brows.

"Sit on his lap and see if you can recognise his eyes or something."

Kitty almost snorted, but then realised that it was a brilliant idea. "Okay, I'll do it, but once everybody else has had their turn."

Fifteen minutes later there was nobody left who cared for Santa, as they'd all gotten their presents and had all retreated to their rooms, or their friends' rooms to try them out. Bobby watched amusedly as Kitty walked over to John. Once John saw her his eyes widened a little, but he managed to keep composure. Before he knew what he was saying, he had asked in his deep 'Santa' voice: "Come, sit on my lap and tell me what you want for Christmas."

Kitty obliged, laughing a little at the silliness of it, and sat down comfortably on John's right knee.

"Now," John said, and had to stop himself from calling her 'Kitten'. "Have you been a good girl this year?"

Kitty smiled and replied, "But of course! Did my homework, helped people with theirs, even wrote up a few assignments for the minority who couldn't be bothered doing it themselves…"

John gave her his Santa-esque chuckle. "Ah! Fantastic. And what did you want for Christmas this year, then?"

"I have somebody in mind," Kitty admitted, looking thoughtful.

"Somebody? This is very interesting," John said curiously.

Suddenly, Kitty found herself studying John's eyes. They weren't the usual periwinkle blue associated with Santa Claus, but a deep, intense hazel. Where had she seen those eyes before? John seemed to have realised this, and looked away and up at the ceiling. What are the odds? he thought. There, hanging above them, was a sprig of mistletoe. Kitty followed his gaze.

"Mistletoe…" she whispered, and once she looked back down at John she noticed him staring at her intently.

"Fancy a kiss from the big guy in boots?" John said, trying not to laugh and almost breaking character.

Kitty grinned widely, and said, "Definitely."

Both of them leant in at the same time, and their lips met in a surprisingly soft and gentle kiss. Kitty could now smell John's aftershave, and it was very familiar to her so she deepened the kiss and put her arms around John's neck. John wrapped his arms around her small waist and revelled in how sweet she tasted – a mixture of strawberries and vanilla.

When they pulled apart, Kitty's face was flushed slightly and John felt dazed. They heard someone wolf whistle (Bobby was the likely culprit) and this just made Kitty more flustered.

"I didn't know St. Nicholas was such a good kisser," she teased, grinning shyly.

John smirked, and decided it was time to reveal his identity. He pulled off the hat, wig, beard and moustache and said, "Well, St. John certainly knows."

Kitty almost fell off his lap in surprise, but John steadied her.

"Merry Christmas?" he whispered quietly, unsure of what Kitty was thinking. Was this a bad idea?

"You're the 'somebody' I was talking about," Kitty said finally, biting her lip nervously.

It took John a few seconds to realise what she meant, and when he did he kissed her again, this time not caring who was watching or what they thought.

END