Longshot & Dakota: Every Time That It Blinks
By Beverly McIntyre (bkittle@creighton.edu)

This part of the Project is hosted by
The Danger Playpen

Disclaimer: Longshot and his fellow X-Men belong to Marvel Comics.  Dakota belongs to me.  Use him with out permission, and I'll shove you under the mistletoe with an overly amorous Mojo.  I am using Longshot and co. without permission, but this is a non-profit tale told for entertainment purposes only.  Please spare me yet another Christmas expense and not sue.

Note: This fits in my continuity sometime after "Climb That Mountain High."

Feedback: can be sent to bkittle@creighton.edu

Crisp winter days were hard on the nose.  Or so Longshot thought as he swiped his gloved hand under his nose for about the fifth time in fifteen minutes.  He looked down at the liquidy smear across the back of his glove and wrinkled his nose in disgust, which caused his nose to run again.  He wasn't winning this battle.  Sniffling, he yanked on the extension cord, pulling it toward the edge of the roof.
His boot skidded on an ice patch.  Multilayered arms pinwheeled to keep himself on the roof.  When he had righted himself, he crouched down next to the gutter and plugged in a string of lights.  Cheery colors flashed in a line, running the length of the eastern rain gutters.  He picked up the slack in the lights and paused.
Longshot noted the wind must have been rattling under the eaves nearby.  The low rumble was getting closer.  Precariously perched at the edge of the roof, he quickly looped the lights through the last hooks on this incline.  He stood up and noticed the rumbling was getting louder.  Glancing up the roof, he saw Dakota, snarling and grumbling as he fought a monstrous knot of Christmas lights.
Ah.  Not the wind, just a hot bag of air, Longshot decided with an inner smirk.
Dakota continued to curse as the wind blew strands of his black hair into his eyes.  Angrily swiping the long bangs out of his eyes, the tall Sioux tugged viciously at a strand in the knot.  The lights constricted, tightening the knot.
Climbing up the incline, Longshot sat down next to Dakota.  He looked over at his friend with crystal blue eyes.  Dakota tossed the lights down with a final muttered curse before readjusting his baseball cap to tuck his whipping hair underneath.
Longshot continued to look on silently as Dakota poked at the tangled string with a petulant finger.  The dark-haired man looked up.
"What?" he snapped.
Longshot picked the knot up and began to work on untangling it.  "Nothing.  Though that question should be applied to you."
Dakota blinked.  "Huh?"
"This is supposed to be fun, you know.  You did volunteer for this."  Half of the knot came loose in Longshot's hands.
Dakota snorted.  "It was either this or take you shopping.  There is no way I would ever subject myself to keeping track of you in the middle of a mall.  Especially in the middle of the Christmas rush."
Longshot looked up as he unwound the last of the knot.  "Why's that?"
"Because you have the attention of a magpie.  With all those twinkling lights, you'd be a lost cause."
"I'm not that bad," Longshot sniffled defensively.  Grr.  His nose was running again.
"Yeah, well," Dakota said as he snatched the light cord out of Longshot's hands.  "This isn't my holiday anyway."
Longshot watched the tall man carefully scramble down the incline, dragging an end of the light string with him.  He skittered to a halt, feet slipping on the slate roof tiles.  Cursing to himself, he started stringing the lights tightly down the slope.
"Why isn't this your holiday?"
Dakota yanked on the string of lights.  "I'm not Christian.  Plug in the lights, will ya?  Nor am I Jewish, nor any other denomination that has a holiday around this time.  I just -- WHY the hell are these blinking?"
Longshot's brow furrowed.  "What's that got to do with it?"
"They're NOT supposed to blink!"
Longshot sighed.  "Not that.  What's not being Christian, or Jewish, or whatever  have to do with enjoying the season?"
"Nothing for you," Dakota muttered as he ripped the lights back up.
"Heya guys!  Hot chocolate for the two hardest light-riggers!"  Rogue's cheery tone echoed over the rooftop.  She floated up with two steaming mugs on a bright red tray.
"Cocoa!" Longshot cheered.  He could use a spot of something warm -- his toes were going numb.
Dakota just grumbled as he checked over the string of lights again.
Rogue handed Longshot his steaming cup and looked over at snarling hunk of frustrated Sioux.  "Mr. Ray O'Sunshine, you want any?  Ah even put marshmallows in..."
Dakota sighed as he dropped the string of lights.  "That doesn't sound half bad."
Rogue grinned.  Marshmallows always hooked ‘em.
Neither Rogue nor Longshot knew exactly what happened next.  Simultaneous blinking kept them from missing the crucial misstep, but later they figured that Dakota's foot must have got caught in the string of lights that he had been fighting with all morning.  What the duo did see was one second Dakota was heading over the peak of the roof toward them, the next he had disappeared.
Longshot dropped his cup of cocoa and launched himself at the end of a rapidly disappearing light string.  He grabbed the end, snagging some of the dwindling slack.  He tossed a loop of it around the nearby chimney.  Throwing himself in the over the peak Dakota had disappeared from, Longshot braced himself as a heavy jerk tugged around the chimney.  Little lights shattered in cascading colors.
Rogue, in the meantime, launched herself over the peak, splattering the dropped cocoa all over the roof.  She caught a glimpse of a sneakered foot, wrapped in Christmas lights disappearing over the edge of the roof.  Throwing caution over the other side of the roof, Rogue whipped over the edge of the roof, hand outstretched to catch ahold of a foot, leg or anything.  When Dakota came to an abrupt stop less than five feet from the ground, Rogue overshot him.  Twisting her body, she knew she had too much momentum going to safely stop.  With a loud *fmoof*, Rogue disappeared into a snow drift that leaned against the mansion.
Dakota hissed from between clenched teeth as the light string snapped tight around his ankle and yanked him momentarily upwards.  He heard a faint crackle and couldn't decide if that was the lights or his ankle.  As he began to swing back and forth on the string of lights, he figured it was a mixture of the two.  He clapped a hand over his eyes in embarrassment.  He couldn't figure out what he did to deserve this.
As Dakota swung like a pendulum, two arms looped themselves under his armpits.  "Rogue, if you would kindly untangle his foot, we can get him down."
Dakota slowly pulled his hand from his face and looked up at the distinctive form of Storm's chin.  Despite the frigid temperature outside, he felt his cheeks burn slightly.  That was impressive.  Bet I impressed Storm with my impression of a dope falling off a roof.  I think I'll patent the Danger Roof right after I patent the Danger Mattress.
Rogue emerged from the snow drift looking like something akin to a yeti.  Despite the pain, Dakota couldn't help but snicker.
"Oh, shut up.  Ah'm not the one trussed up like a twelve-point buck."

Longshot paced the foyer, his wet boots squeaking across the tile floor.  He pivoted, heels squealing across the damp floor.
"Longshot, sugah, I know you're worried and all, but if you don't sit down, Ah'm gonna tackle you and rip those boots off.  An' maybe tickle your feet f'good measure."
Longshot stopped pacing and looked at Rogue, who was lounging in a nearby chair.  He tilted his head in thought.  "It bothers you?"
Longshot deliberately squeaked his boot against the floor.  "You'll have to catch me first."
Longshot had already taken off down the hallway before Rogue had gotten out of the chair.  Taking to the air, she whipped around the corner.  Yet again she had to slam on her brakes abruptly as Longshot came to a sudden stop just as the door to Dakota's room opened.  Yet again, she overshot her intended target.  Luckily she managed to stop herself before she became fairly intimate with a wall.
Dr. Reyes emerged from the room, closing the door behind her.  Her face looked a little somber.
"Is there something wrong?" Longshot asked with a little trepidation.
Reyes placed a clam, reassuring hand on his shoulder.  "Longshot, I'm sorry to tell you this, but...Dakota is suffering from a terminal case of Grinchiness."
Longshot's face paled.  "Terminal?  Isn't there anything you can do?  I know he fell off the roof, but he never hit the ground."
Reyes chuckled softly.  "No, it's all right.  Dakota's fine.  His ankle is reknitting itself as we speak.  He's just not handling the holiday atmosphere well.  If he got any more sour, we could taste pure lemon just by looking at him."
Longshot frowned.  He knew his friend had given up the chance to go home to be with his family to stay up here with the X-Men.  "Can I see him?"
"Sure.  But I wouldn't advise it.  He's grumbling so much I don't think you'll get a word in edgewise."
"Oh.  I'll wait then.  He'll feel better or at least only grumble on the inside."

Dakota gingerly set his foot down on the floor.  So far so good.  Carefully, he got up from the bed, gently easing his weight onto his ankle.  When no hint of pain shot up his leg, Dakota grinned.  Regenerative bodies: the gift that keeps on giving.
Sauntering out of his room, Dakota noted that a cold dusk was settling over the mansion.  A few lights were already on but mostly the mansion was swathed in dimming sunlight.  Feeling his stomach growl, Dakota padded toward the kitchen.  He hadn't eaten anything since breakfast.  After spending most of the day dozing to help his body heal faster, he was near famished.
As he approached the T.V. room, he heard Longshot's voice float out into the hallway.  Pausing, he caught a bit of the conversation.
"--then why would he steal Christmas?  That's not a nice thing to do."
"Longshot," Storm said patiently.  "That is why he is known as the Grinch."
"Oh.  Then Dakota wants to steal Christmas?  I know he said it wasn't his holiday and all."
Storm let out a small laugh.  "I don't think Dakota wants to steal Christmas.  He wants other people to feel miserable like him, but so far the mansion has been the very cradle of holiday cheer."
"Oh.  Then I'll feel miserable, too."
There was a lengthy pause while Dakota blinked.  Dammit.  I'm not supposed to ruin the holidays for him.  I guess I've been on this 'pity me because I'm not home' kick too long.
Storm's voice floated out after a minute.  "Longshot, why on Earth would you want to feel miserable?"
"Well, Dakota is my friend.  If all he wants for Christmas is for other people to feel like he does, I can do that.  He's my friend.  The season is about making people feel special.  I'll do whatever it takes.  I didn't finish rigging up the lights because I wanted to wait for him."
Dakota slipped back toward his room quietly, feeling rather ashamed.

Longshot sat cross-legged with a bowl of popcorn sitting in the middle of his lap.  He picked up a few more kernels and skewered them with the needle.  Pushing the white popcorn further down the string, he reached for a few more kernels.  He only had a few more inches to go and his last garland of popcorn would be done.
Storm stood in front of the tree on her tip-toes, stringing up the previous garland when there was a slight flash from outside the window.  The flash was quickly followed by a loud "Yeow!"  There was a pause.  Then a loud thud.
Longshot and Storm looked at each other as a faint "Owie" floated through the panes of glass.
"Santa Claus?" Longshot inquired.
"It's a bit too early for him."

Both Longshot and Storm scrambled out the back door of the mansion.  They paused when they noticed the light coming from behind them was a bit too bright to be just from the exterior lights.  Turning around, they both gaped in wonder as the entire roof was outlined in lights with a blinking ‘X' in the center of a slope.
"Wow," Longshot exhaled with a frosty plume.
"The X is to show Santa where he's supposed to land," Dakota rumbled from behind the duo.  He was bent over and wincing, like he had taken a long fall and landed on his back.
"Dakota," Storm began, "did you--"
"Finish the lights?  Yeah.  Did I fall off the roof again?  Yeah.  Was it worth it to see the look of wonder on Longshot's face?  You betcha."
They stood there for a minute.
"Yes, Dakota?"
"This being the season of giving and all, could you do something for me?"
Storm turned to the hunched-over mutant.  "Yes?"
"Could you lend me a hand...and help me get the snow out of my pants?"
Storm felt the color rise in her cheeks as she heard Longshot laugh behind her.  Dakota grinned up at her.
"There.  I got my gift.  Got to see a goddess blush."
"Now, you're going to a goddess throw a sn--"  *paff*  Storm lurched forward as a snowball pelted her from behind.  "Longshot!"
"No fair picking on the walking wounded!"
"I'll show you the walking wounded," Storm muttered as she scooped up a handful of snow.
The snowball fight lasted long into the night and danced in the shadows cast by the lighted roof.