DISCLAIMER: Hey everyone! Merry Christmas! Here's a fic to start off the holiday, I'm making no money and Iceman is copyrighted to Marvel. Many thanks to my beta-reader, Dyce! (thanks thanks thanks!) Someone said they wanted to see lots of X-Mas fics, so I thought I'd write down as many as I came up with--whether or not they all fit into the same continuity! :::grin::: Tell me what you think! - J.B.McD.

By J.B. McDonald

Bobby walked down the sidewalk, huddled in his heavy jacket. What a year it had been! He didn't even want to think about it. Times like this he wished he wasn't a mutant. He kicked violently at a pebble, hitting a pigeon and causing the whole flock of them to take off. Behind him he could hear a large group of carolers singing "Angels We Have Heard On High." What a laugh. It sure didn't feel like any time to be celebrating.

"Here here, you're chasing my birds away!" a woman cried from her spot on the bench. "And your face is ruining the whole picture. If you must ruin it, at least sit down so I can look around you."

Bobby looked up, expecting to see some old lady. Instead it was a young girl, dressed for business, feeding her sandwich to the pigeons and sparrows that had gathered.

Iceman fell onto the bench, glowering.

The young woman glowered back at him. "Well, aren't you in the spirit of Christmas," she said sarcastically.

Bobby just shook his head and looked away.

The woman frowned in concern. "Hey now, what's wrong? Your guardian angel not looking out for you?" she asked with a laugh.

Bobby couldn't help but crack a smile. "It's been a rough year," he said at last, looking at her. Brown hair, brown eyes, sort of mousy looking. Black business suit. Didn't look at all right sitting on a run-down bench, feeding birds. "You work around here?"

She nodded, offered him half of her sandwich.

He shook his head. "No, thanks."

She shrugged and kept feeding the birds.

"On your lunch break?"

She smiled and winked. "Smart, aren't you? I work in the law firm over there." she indicated with her chin, never stopping in her feeding process. "I know what you mean about a hard year," she quietly. "I think I've filled my quota for roughness for my whole life this year!"

Bobby laughed and nodded. "What happened?"

"My brother and his girlfriend were in a car crash. My father had a heart attack and died. I had a miscarriage. My house was torn down by a bunch of sentinels chasing some mutants."

Bobby cringed.

"My goldfish died and I went broke trying to support my mother and trying to repair my house while paying for my father's funeral." She shrugged. "I'd say I have my health, but I'm afraid I just found out I have cancer. I don't know what I'm going to do about my mother if I die."

Bobby looked down at the pigeons. "Look at those little pigs," he said, smiling.

She grinned. "It's winter. They need food too. And I need to take some time for myself." She screwed up her nose. "I should be finding a place for my mother to live after I die."

"You say that like it's a certainty," Bobby said, frowning.

"It is. They can't operate on my tumor because it's in a spot of my brain they can't get to. Or something like that." She shrugged. "At least I don't have children."

Bobby eyed her. "You don't seem too upset by everything that's happened."

She shrugged. "Fifty years from now, it's not going to matter. These aren't world changing events. My dreams will live on in others, so why sweat the small stuff?"

Bobby scratched the back of his neck, thinking. That didn't seem like small stuff to him, but she had a good point. Lots had happened this year, from Bastion, to Onslaught to that whole Shi'ar thing. These were world-changing events--but what she said still held true. No matter what happened to them, the world--and the dream--would still go on. Look at Bishop, living proof of that. No one had died this year. The heroes had returned. Joseph seemed to be on the side of the angels--for once. Bobby's father was fine. Even Scott was okay.

Bobby looked up and smiled at the woman. "You're right. Why sweat the small stuff. I think you've had a harder year then I have." And you're here, not worried, even though you're going to die soon, feeding pigeons, Bobby thought, but didn't say. "I think maybe I'll take you up on that sandwich now,"

She smiled and handed it to him, then watched as he tore it apart and fed it to the birds.

Bobby sat back and watched the carolers, horribly off key half the time, but having fun. A squirrel grabbed a man's hat as he walked under a low hanging branch, and the man swore at it, shaking his fist as it ran higher, chittering. The snow started to come down again, dusting everything with a white powder, muffling sounds and blanketing things. Maybe life wasn't as awful as he'd thought.

Done with the sandwich, he sighed and stood up. "I guess I'd better be going," he said, putting his hands in his pockets.

She smiled and nodded, waved to him.

Bobby started to walk away, then stopped and turned around. "Thank--" he started to say. Behind him was the chorus singing "Jingle Bells" quite cheerfully, and children played, throwing snowballs at one another. Pigeons still pecked around in the snow, looking for crumbs. And the bench was empty. Slowly he walked back, wondering if he'd imagined the whole thing. There, sitting on the old metal, was a small piece of sandwich. Bobby smiled. "I never even asked her name," he said softly. "Thanks, anyway."

Bobby turned and walked away. He passed the choir, singing "Silent Night" and waved. He shoved his hands in his pockets, found a ten dollar bill, and handed it to the old man sitting on a step, counting bottle caps. The man smiled and thanked him, and Bobby started to whistle.

Maybe life wasn't so hard.

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