DISCLAIMER: Alex, Sam and all the other people belong to Marvel. These versions, though, belong to the wonderful and amazing Diamonde, who was nice enough to let me play with them and even proofread this for me in all her marvelous Diamondeness. Thanks also to Crantz, Drea and Melly for not killing me when I kept whining about this.
NOTES: Dia says this in an official AU of her story series of those cute blond men. They’re cute. They’re cuddly. They’re blond. They’re mooky. And yes, there’s angst, too. Set after Dia’s ‘Make It Okay’, which can be found e.g. at Mooksville at http://thundercrack.hispeed.com/mooksville.htm. Any and all feedback would be loved at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Hey, Handsome.” I whirled around at the sound of the voice with a yelp. A man with blue eyes and blond hair met my gaze. Sam. Just Sam. Not somebody out to kill me, yet. Just Sam.
“Hey, yourself,” I replied, giving him a hopefully believable leer to disguise my earlier skittishness.
But he wasn’t easily mislead. He knew me. Almost better than I knew myself. “Did Ah frighten you?” His voice was filled with worry. His eyes were worried. His whole body seemed worried. Even his hair pulsed with worry. Easy with the overreacting there, Sammy.
“I’m fine. You just startled me. I guess I should be used to the window thing already.” I grinned, hoping he’d buy it. I gave him my best puppy-eyed look to support my claim.
He bought it. For now. He stepped close, pulling me to an embrace. “Where’s Scott?,” he finally said, letting me go, his right hand still lingering by my shoulder.
“Maddie’s got him. Arcades, beach. She’s trying to spoil him rotten.”
“And that’s bugging you, because you have to be the responsible parent these days,” he said, smiling cutely as he disappeared somewhere in the kitchen. Poor boy, probably hadn’t eaten a thing whole day, with that evil nephew of mine keeping them in line. Christ, Nathan... oh, that was a problem I didn’t want to even start thinking about now.
Sam was here. Sam was here and it was all good, all okay. I could do my bit of Summers-angst later, sometime in the night, when it was dark and Sam wasn’t here. He didn’t, he shouldn’t see me like that. especially since it was my own damn fault, the whole mess.
Suddenly I realized I was bound to worry Sam by keeping quiet. He knew something was up already. No, I didn’t mean up *that* way. Or maybe I did. Maybe minoring in Psychology had been a bad idea. And maybe I was a bit too old to ponder if I was thinking dirty thoughts in my head or not. In any case, now it was time to keep talking to Sam, so he wouldn’t start worrying any more than he was already.
I poked my mind, asking for a subject and it poked me right back, suggesting I continue what we were talking about before. Scott. Maddie. Okay, I could do this just fine... “It’s a good thing, really, they spending more time together. As long as she won’t take the kid out to kill people. Or to meet Nate Grey, then all is fine. He likes her, even if she isn’t his Real Mother. It helps him deal with all of this. And Maddie feels great about being there for Scotty as she now has a chance to fix at least some of the things that happened with Nathan with Scott.”
“That’s quite perceptive of you,” Sam came back from the kitchen, a bag of frozen strawberries in tow. He sat next to me on the couch and started tracing the line of my jaw.
“Hey, I wasn’t team leader for X-Factor and the Six just for my dashing good looks, you know.”
“Is that so?”
“Uh-huh.” He kept looking at me, waiting for me to make the first move, as he chewed on yet another half frozen strawberry. He was being polite today. Not that I minded. “Sam, are you going to kiss me, because I’m getting mighty jealous of those strawberries.”
“Well, we can’t have that, now can we?” he asked, eyes twinkling.
Warm lips with the taste of strawberries filled my mouth. I looked down at the man that made me feel this way. The man who gave me that look of absolute content and happiness, when he was in my arms. And that look scared me.
He looked at me with passion and trust and...love. Love wasn’t something I wanted to face with him, not yet. But I had, since last week. It haunted my dreams, that look. Love made things complicated. Love made things go wrong. Love made me go crazy and scream and run for the hills and wait for the second shoe to drop. Because it always did. When there was love, I was bound to get hurt.
“So... how was your day?” he asked, cutting the kiss short.
Flicking my tongue at him, I answered. “Just... normal. Typical. Run of the mill kind of stuff.” Graded some essays, studied for a bit, had sex with my new research assistant Cathy. “Boring, really.” Love made me do things I already regretted.
Something was wrong. Something was very much wrong. That was just what Alex’s lack of posture meant. And Sam wasn’t anywhere in sight. If the little (albeit cute) bastard had hurt him, I’d kill him, or send him to some ungodly universe. Nobody messed with my Alex.
My Alex. How screwed up was that? He was my ex-husband’s brother, my time misplaced son’s uncle, my sometime lover a long way back and one of the only good friends I still had.
“’Lex? You all right?” I asked, making him jump, as I started walking towards him. He looked at me quickly, his eyes hazy and uncomprehending, fear evident on his features. Gods, he really was scared to death of whatever it was that had happened or was going to happen to him. And next time I would sound less scary uber-protective, when I decided to startle him and give him a heart attack.
I stopped by his bed and took his hand in mine. Then he finally looked up at my face, finally seeing me, the earlier scared to death expression mostly hidden somewhere in the shadows behind his eyes, and searched for something on it for a long time.
He looked vulnerable and fragile. You’d never think he was once a leader to many a people, as well as to a whole race in a universe faraway, if you saw him like this. Or maybe that was why he had lead them. And why he stopped. He gave his heart to them without question, but when he realized they had his heart, he ran. I knew that from personal experience.
He was a very private man, when it came to his heart. A scared little boy who hadn’t been shown love had grown into a brave man who had hesitations about letting anyone in. Was that what had happened here? He had run, or he had done something irrevocable because he had been afraid of being loved. Gods, Alex. You were a stupid man if that was the case.
But he was a good man, I had always known that. And I still knew for that to be true, because I had seen his heart. His heart had been so pure, when I had seduced him before Inferno happened. Changing him had been almost as delicious as changing Meggan.
Finally acknowledging my presence, he pulled me to sit next to him. He looked at the bedroom door, a question formed on his already furrowed brows. “Scott’s asleep. Went out like a light after playing with Erik for a bit.”
“Erik as in Magneto-Erik?” He looked at me dubiously. No, I wasn’t out to get his son killed, thank you very much. And Scott, though he was just a nine-year-old, could defend himself against the master of magnetism just fine. Especially if the boy thought the older man was cheating.
“Yes. He adores Scotty, you know that. Almost as much of the one in Scott’s universe.”
“Ah.” He nodded and let go of my hand, what little fight there was left in him suddenly gone. My hands combed through his silken blond hair and I tried very hard not to smile at the few gray hairs I found among them. As much as he’d hate to admit it, Alex was in many ways more like my son than Nathan’s father was.
Alex and Cable had had their difficulties, but they were getting better. Or were they? If it had been my son who had caused this to Alex, caused this state of desolateness, would I know what to do? Sending a few nasty demons at him and giving him a good talking to were possible ideas, but would it make any difference? And could I choose sides between them. Nathan was supposed to be my son, but if it came to a choice between him and Alex, whom would I choose? And would the other one hate me forever for my decision?
I pulled Alex into my arms and he cried. He cried the sad tears of a very lonely and tired man, not one who was having the time of his life. “What’s wrong, honey?”
He searched my eyes, a puzzled look on his face as a few lone tears still fell across his cheeks. My beautiful Alex, I would always take care of him. Then the fact that he was crying in my lap hit me. I, the ghost of the Goblin Queen, was someone he trusted with his child. He trusted me enough to let me see this, to let me try and help. When had I become worthy of such trust?
I decided not to ponder further such troubling questions, so I just held him until he was ready. Which took about fifteen more minutes, but it was all finewith me. I loved the feel of his hair.
“I did something very stupid today,” he finally offered, his voice throaty and hoarse from crying.
And as I told my sordid tale of lies and deceit and utter stupidity, she just listened. She didn’t even stop holding my hand. And when I finally finished, sighing deeply, I stood up and looked away.
“Alex, you’re an idiot.”
“I know.” I bit my lip, waiting for her to yell at me or to hit me. I closed my eyes, so I didn’t see the look I knew was on her face.
“You foolish man, thinking you could turn me away from you. After all the things I’ve done, that seems minor in consideration.”
She had more patience than I gave her credit for. She was an amazing woman. If only I had... No, bad brain. No dwelling on regrets *that* old. Newer ones to dwell on.
She gave my arm a soft squeeze. “He’s going to kill you, if you tell Sam.” Ah, yes. Nathan. He would kill me, or at least maim me severely. I groaned and put my head somewhere in the pillows. Maybe I could suffocate myself with these.
She frowned and whacked me on the head with one the pillows. I guess even they were against me, the pillows, in their fluffy way. And she had made them turn on me. I received another whack on the head. “Stop glaring at the pillows. They-or the blankets, for that matter–aren’t out to get you.”
“You sure? I swear they plotting something earlier. I heard them. And could you stop hitting me already?”
“When you look at me in the eyes and tell me the pillows are blameless and you won’t hold a grudge.” I looked up at her. Her eyes were all twinkling and she was giggling. I stole the pillow from her before I could receive another whack. “I’m not giggling,” she claimed, as she continued laughing in a very non-giggly manner. “Giggling isn’t something former Goblin Queens do. It’s undignified. We might snicker or chuckle, but do not giggle.” She nodded firmly. I nodded back at her, giggling.
Letting out an exhausted breath, I finally came in and closed the door. It was good to be home. Home. When had I started considering Alex’s place as home? A month ago? Two months? I had a home already, two in fact, one in Kentucky and the other in San Francisco.
I just wanted to curl up around Alex and listen to his breathing. He purred in his sleep, which was a good thing. A very good thing. Looking at my watch, I realized it was way later than I thought. 2:48 AM, to be exact.
I winced. I’d have a killer headache tomorrow. Getting into an argument with Cable about training schedules had been a Bad idea. He had just been in a crappy mood, because he had argued with Pete earlier, something to do with a mission with Domino in Minsk, a few years back. But Nathan and Wisdom would be slugging it out later, that was for sure.
Note to self. Starting a fight with a pissed off telepath was a bad idea. Arguing with a pissed up telepath was an even worse idea. Telepaths knew how to shout in your head, which really wasn’t that much fun.
After a hot shower, I made my way to Alex’s bedroom. Odd, how I called this place home, but it still wasn’t *our* bedroom. I opened the door, ready to pounce him.
I blinked. There was a woman on his bed, asleep. There was a woman in his bed. I blinked again, harder. Alex was there, too. Curled up with a pillow. He was smiling. Why was there a woman *and* Alex in the bed? Why was there a woman in the first place?
I blinked again, and equally fascinated and horrified, I took a deep breath and stepped closer. Okay, they were both wearing clothes. Okay, the woman was Madelyne, I noticed, sighing in relief, after taking another step closer to her. Alex adored Maddie, but would never ever sleep with her (again). Or so I hoped.
I sat on the edge of the bed and tickled Alex’s right foot, running my fingers up to his calf. He had very ticklish calves. He lifted his head slowly, giving me his cute look. All his looks were cute, but this was extra cute. “Hey,” he said sleepily, his hand outstretching to ruffle my hair.
“Hey,” I replied, kissing the tips of his fingers. My head pointed from the half-sitting Alex to Maddie’s sleeping form. He grinned, sleepily, blond sleep-mussed hair drooping over blue eyes. “I guess we dozed off, there.”
My hand went over to Madelyne’s ankle, ready to gently shake her awake. Alex put his hand on top of mine to stop me. “Don’t. Just let her sleep. She’s cranky as hell if she’s woken up. If you thought Goblin Queen was something to be feared, then you haven’t seen her in the morning.” He gave another cute grin and slid closer to kiss me.
To his surprise, and mine, I turned away. “You’ve got morning breath,” I finally said, with enough of a teasing smile he should buy it.
He didn’t. “Sam... what’s wrong?”
Suddenly I felt like I had a large object in my throat. Glancing back at the still sleeping redhead, I answered. “Could we maybe talk this over some coffee?”
After brewing the coffee, we sat, mugs in hands, neither of us saying a word. The silence stretched, so I just listened to his breathing. And tried to calm down.
It wasn’t another woman, it was Maddie. Maddie, the former Goblin Queen, yes. Maddie, his ex-lover, yes. Maddie, Cable’s mother, ye--ewww. That was another thing I didn’t want to think about. My lover’s ex-lover and best friend was my pseudo-father’s mother. And my lover was his uncle. This was all a bit sick, really. Summers, you had to love them, even if their family tree defied all logic.
And I was willing myself to be sidetracked. How could I think even for a second that... I was supposed to be his lover, I was supposed to trust him, I was supposed to have faith in him. I loved him, didn’t I?
I paused, my coffee mug forgotten on the table. I loved Alex. I actually loved him. I was in love with him. “Ah love you,” I found myself saying, the silence still heavy around us. He looked at me with this puzzled look. He was so cute when he looked like a lost puppy.
He smiled. “I love you, too, Sam.”
“’Lex... Ah have no idea what Ah...” I paused, gulping, and looked at him finally. His eyes, his beautiful blue eyes were so dark. With red rims. Why had he...? My hand that rested on his shoulder slid up to stroke his face. “Have you been crying?”
“Don’t change the subject.” He sounded grim, but I saw the hint of a smile, ‘cause now he was the one changing the subject. For now, I let him.
“Shit. Alex, when I saw you there with her, with Maddy, I thought...” I trailed off again. “I thought you slept with somebody else.”
I couldn’t get the accusing tone out of my head. I silently swore. Not as long as I lived, would I get that line out of my head. I thought you slept with somebody else. Dammit, Sammy, I did!
Suddenly I realized the silence. I hadn’t replied anything. Glancing up at his blue eyes, I paused. Why was he looking guilty, like he had stolen my favorite sweater and accidentally shrunk it to a size four. He hadn’t done that, right?
“Sam,” I started again, more forcefully this time, but he didn’t let me finish.
“Ah shouldn’t have doubted you. Ah know you would never do anything like that. Ah know that.” He smiled tentatively, and I felt like my heart just dropped somewhere near my kidneys. I was such a bastard for doing this to him. I was such a bastard for doing this to him and letting him feel guilty for doubting me.
This slimmed my chances of ever getting into heaven considerably, and I was so sure I’d have a place there when I died. Almost sure, at least. Or if I died at all, that was, with all the Summers weirdness one could never be too sure.
“Sam, I—” If that boy wouldn’t let me finish a sentence soon, then I’d... Grrr.
His eyes were almost in tears, now. “Ah’m so, so sorry. Ah know you’d never do that. Ah just... Ah’m sorry. forgive me?” He gave me his puppy-dog-look, the one that made even Cable do anything for him. Damn that boy. Damn him. And damn me.
“I forgive you.” I was going to hell.
When I woke up, I heard the voices, the minds, that hummed in my head. Alex and Sam. Sam was good, purring softly in his sleep. But Alex felt guilty about something. What, I wasn’t sure.
I frowned, studying Alex’s mind more intensely. He wasn’t asleep, which was odd, since Sam was usually the one who was up bright and early. Alex was making breakfast, his thoughts shielded enough for me to get curious. There was something dark there, something he didn’t want to admit to.
As I opened one of the locks in his mind (he wasn’t supposed to know I knew how to do that), I felt guilt pouring over me. I had to sit down to take it all in. Dad, was it that time of the year again? When all your angst became this big thing that bubbled over? And mom couldn’t take it away from you, ‘cause she wasn’t here. You didn’t know that I knew, did you? Maybe you didn’t know at all. Mom was sneaky like that. Maybe Maddie could help me.
Maddie... Maddie was here, helping Alex with breakfast. They were talking telepathically, that was why I couldn’t hear. She shielded. A lot. Even more than mom did.
I walked, being careful to not make a sound, towards the kitchen. It wasn’t that I was trying to sneak up on them, because I was, but I could feel something being not right.
Or maybe I was just hungry.
I stopped at the door, yawning and tried to listen in on their conversation.
#So you’re going to do nothing?#
Exactly. Now, hush. I don’t want Scotty to hear about this.
“Hear about what?” Alex almost dropped the mug he was holding, but Maddie just smirked and winked at me. She wasn’t mom, no matter how much she looked like her, but she was nice. And she’d make sure Alex wouldn’t do anything wrong. She was cool like that, keeping him in his place and kidnapping me at times to take for ice cream, just because according to her I wasn’t spoiled enough.
But she strengthened her shields, and Alex’s. “That I’m getting to steal you away from your dad for a whole day, again. And that we’re going to visit Cable.”
He glared at her and she glared right back. They probably thought I wouldn’t notice, being so small and young and all, but young didn’t mean stupid. They were talking again telepathically and this time I couldn’t hear even a soft whisper of it.
“Have some breakfast,” Alex finally said, giving Maddie one last dirty look, and then smiling brightly at me, shoving an omelet under my nose. I started to eat and so did they.
I frowned, giving Alex a Look. The look he usually gave me when I did something bad and didn’t want to tell him about it. He squirmed a bit under the Look, but didn’t give in.
“Why’s Sam still sleeping?” I asked between bites.
“Don’t speak with your mouth full,” they both chastised, turning to look at one another and giggling. I guess their argument was over.
I swallowed and asked again. Alex had the courts— courag—courtas—Alex answered, looking a bit ashamed. “He came in late. He had an argument with Nathan.”
“Oh. Is that what you two were arguing about?”
“Yes,” Maddie replied casually, biting into her apple.
“Are you going to lecture Nathan when we go see him?”
She laughed, a sparkly sound that sounded just like mom’s. Mom just didn’t laugh that often. Smiling at me fondly, she nodded. “Maybe. Your brother-slash-cousin is being a big jerk and someone should show him his place.” She gave Alex a sharp look. “It’s a Summers trait.”
I tuned them out and ate the rest of my omelet. When I left to wash up Sam still wasn’t up. I pondered waking him up but decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. Even he deserved to sleep every once in a while.
He screamed happily as I carefully jumped on his stomach. He happily glared at me and I giggled, sensing his still sleepy (but homicidal) thoughts.
Maybe I should leave with Maddie already. Just in case.
“You ready to go, kiddo?” she said, hands combing through my short hair. Maybe I should grow it longer.
“Yeah. Got my bag, woke up Sam, tried not to get killed by Sam, hugged Dad... yup, ready to leave.”
She nodded, ready to do her teleportation thing. I looked back at my house and felt a shudder. I felt dark things, looking around the edges of reality. Something bad, sinister. Of Alex in trouble and Sam looking sad and fighting and somebody...
“Scott, everything okay?” She gave a worried look, the one Mom used to give me. And it wasn’t as bad as I thought, not seeing it from her, but from this woman who wasn’t quite her but still was, in the ways that mattered.
“Yeah, I’m just picking up some residue from something, probably. It’s nothing.” It’s nothing, I kept repeating to myself, as the world shifted very quickly, like it always did when she teleported.
The last flicker of not quite memory of things that hadn’t happened yet and probably never would happen faded, leaving my mind blank. The feeling of bad lingered for but a few more moments, disappearing then, leaving no traces of ever even existing. So maybe it was left over from some nightmare. It was probably nothing, since everything was fine. Dad was fine, Sam was fine, Maddie was fine.
It was nothing.
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