CONCLUDING NOTES: First I have to give extra thanks to Kael. She pointed out what I'd missed when I doubt many others would have had the insight to pick it and the courage to tell me. :) So thank you Kaela, Sam owes you a lot.

So, here we are. The last part of the last story in my still-untitled Sam/Alex series. I'll may still get around to writing other stories in this universe, I have a prequel that sets up some things and a kind of spinoff I'd like to do, but none of them are going to focus on these two as a couple or in the time this story is set. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm feeling rather good about it. :) So, I'm going to go finish my Harry Potter book (damn Dyce for getting me started on them, she knew my weakness for evil redheads) and have a good night's sleep now that I can finally tell the two of them to piss off and that I never bought it for a second.

Happy New Year. :)

by Diamonde

Scott was sitting at the table staring at the clock on the opposite wall when Alex got up. Following his son's gaze, Alex swore under his breath. "Why didn't you wake me up? You were supposed to be at school an hour ago!"

"I didn't go. Why did Sam leave?"

Alex frowned. "I asked you a question."

"And I asked you a more important one. Why did Sam leave?"

Anger flared. "Because he wanted to."

"Without saying goodbye?" Scott glared angrily. "I'm not five anymore, Alex. You can't just not tell me things and expect me to not care."

"I can if it's not any of your business." Alex wouldn't have believed that those words had come out of his mouth if he hadn't known that he really wanted to say them. But lashing out at Scott was even worse than what he'd been doing before...

"Yes it IS! I live here too and I had to listen to the two of you fight and I HATE IT!" Tears were welling up in Scott's eyes, but he blinked them away and continued. "You're the only father I've got, you don't get to just not talk about it because you don't want to!"

"Fine. You want to hear about it, I'll tell you." Alex sat down opposite Scott and tried to dredge up conviction in anything. "What I told Sam that started all this was that I listened to you cry in that hospital, knew that I couldn't do anything about it and that you feeling that way was my fault. What Sam does is dangerous, even more dangerous here than it is in your world, and you've lost enough people there. I can't-I WON'T make either of us go through that again if I can help it."

"Because it's too HARD." Scott's eyes narrowed. "Nobody ever said that being happy was supposed to be easy, Alex. And don't use me for this. This isn't my fault!"

"Of course it isn't." Alex blinked, horrified at the weight of guilt in the young voice.

"But I thought it was. I still do! Because every time you had a fight it was about ME, and without me you wouldn't have an excuse! But really it's just because Sam didn't want to understand and you were too scared." Scott scrubbed angrily at the tears on his face. "So now you're both just going to let it happen and make each other really unhappy and let the rest of us just live with it. Well go ahead, see if I care!" Scott turned to storm off but found himself picked up and turned back around, held firmly in place.

"Do you really think that helps? That it makes any of this any easier?" Alex frowned at the lack of response. "Well?"

"No." Scott gulped guiltily. "But at least you listened."

"I meant what I said, I won't make you live through things like that again if I can help it. Because you're a kid, Scott, and you shouldn't have to. And neither should I. That doesn't make this anybody's fault, least of all yours."

"That doesn't mean you need to break up with Sam. I can deal with it, I've been doing it my whole LIFE. It's just you that can't."

"And if I can't, I can't! Because I don't know how."

"You did it before, for years. With Lorna and Scott and everyone... why can't you do it now?" The look in his eyes begged Alex to say that he could.

"Because it was different then. I was there, it was something that I could deal with and fight against. But now... I'm just waiting." Alex sighed and closed his eyes. "I'm sorry, Scott. I'm really, really sorry for putting you through all this. I don't know what's going to happen, but you're right... this is my problem and I need to figure out what it is and how to deal with it."

"I told you." Scott sniffled. "'s because you're scared."

"That's the problem." Alex picked Scott up, holding on tightly as small arms linked around his neck. This is what matters, this is what I need... all I need. My son, my baby.



"You don't need to be scared about me. You can be scared about Sam, but not about me."

"What?" Alex frowned, leaning back a little so he could see Scott's face.

"You don't need to be scared about you and me. We won't ever be like you and your dad. See, he loves you, but he doesn't know how to say it and you don't know how to believe. But I can hear what you say inside, where even you can't hear it, and I know that you love me." Scott looked seriously at his father. "Even if something happens that's nasty, I'll know that you love me and wouldn't ever let anything hurt me if you could stop it. You wouldn't even come back here until they promised that you'd be able to get back there again. So you can stop being scared about that, 'cause nothing's going to make a difference with us."

Alex's hand reached out and carefully straightened the part in Scott's hair while his mind sat in bemusement and his heart threatened to break free of the rest of him. "Scott, I don't know how you know the things you know, I can't even imagine what it must be like to see people the way you do. But no matter what you know, don't ever let me get away with not telling you that I love you, okay?"

Scott smiled. "Of course not. Anyway, you'll probably still be saying it when I want you to stop."

"You'd better believe it." Alex felt a previously unidentified knot loosen and revelled in that sudden, surprising feeling of release. "But exactly who told you about my dad, hmm?"

"Scott and Nathan, when I asked. And I wrote him a letter."

Alex's parental radar went off. "What did you say in the letter?"

"Not telling." Scott wriggled and tried to look innocent.

"What did you say? Remember who's supposed to be at school here."

Scott snorted. "Both of us."

"My school's optional, we don't have truant officers. Yours does." Alex gave his best serious look. "What did the letter say?"

Scott knew when to back down. "I wrote that since he's my grandfather and he missed like nine birthdays and Christmases and my christening, he owed me some serious back presents. Then I said that I wasn't young enough to think it'll just happen if I find some Santa in a mall so I was telling him person'ly (but I don't think I spelled that right) that he better fucking well turn up this Christmas, because Domino turns up more often than he does and that makes it seem like she loves you and Scott more than he does and Domino really doesn't love you at all."

Alex took a deep breath and thought about that very long sentence. And decided that the word 'fucking' had a definite feeling of quotation about it. "That was all?"

Scott shrugged. "And I may have said that I wanted an android, a trip to Shi'ar, a thing that makes there be no gravity in my room and a puppy. But I don't think I'm gonna get the puppy."

For a long, dangerous moment Alex looked consideringly at Scott. Then he sighed. "Yeah, you're my son alright."

Beaming, Scott messed his hair back up and looked hopeful. "Does that mean I'm getting a puppy?"

"Hell no. Go get ready for school and don't push your luck."

"Feeling better?"

Sam looked at the reflection of Cable in the mirror in front of him. He'd sat with his back to the door, apparently years of training only kicked in when he wasn't in a place he considered 'home'. "Not really. Ah thought about it and yes, Ah know why he's scared. And Ah can't really say that that's unreasonable. But Ah can't help him with that and it doesn't mean Ah'm not angry."

"Because of that?" An eyebrow was all it took to indicate the marks that still remained of Sam's injuries. And that Nathan understood perfectly well that 'angry' meant 'really fucking hurt and furious about it'.

Sam traced down the side of the surgery scar with a frown then reached for his shirt again. "Yes. With him and this... it wasn't fair for him to ask me to choose like that. It's not like Ah don't care that Ah get hurt! It's horrible and Ah hate it and every time it happens Ah feel like Ah'm too scared to do this again. But Ah can, and Ah will until Ah can't. Thing is... he knows how that feels, but it's like he's ignoring it. He's acting like this is easy."

"I very much doubt he thinks that it's easy, Sam. Not really, anyway. He got hurt more than enough over ten years and that's probably why he's not letting himself think about it." Nathan came all the way in, sitting down on the bed but keeping himself to himself, probably guessing that physical comfort wasn't what Sam wanted at that point.

Sam stayed looking into the mirror although not at his own reflection. "Ah don't care. Ah couldn't say anything to him about it, even though it's not fair, because that'd only make him feel worse. Ah can live with that, even though it pisses me off. But Ah KNOW that this might kill me, Ah didn't need him to tell me that and he's not the only one that it scares! It was nearly a lot worse, Ah know that. The doctor told me, even though none of the rest of you did. And Ah thought that this time... Ah thought that Ah'd have help." Sam sighed and shut his eyes. "That's not fair either, he did what he could and Ah know he didn't want to hurt me. But Ah hate that he asked me now. Because it would have been so easy... to say yes."

"So what do you do now, Havok?" Alex asked himself quietly. He had an hour before he needed to leave for his next class to change his life somehow. "How do you figure out how to wait?"

He had no idea. But there was someone he could ask.

The phone rang at least seven or eight times before someone answered, Alex was on the verge of hanging up.

"Hello, Guthrie Madhouse. What can Ah do for you?" The voice was merely similar but the accent was identical.

Alex winced. "Can I speak to Lucinda Guthrie please?"

"Sure, Ah'll get her." There was a clunk and the voice continued, slightly muffled. "Moooom! Phone!"

Another minute passed and Alex wondered what on earth he thought he was doing.


"Uh, hi. This is Alex Summers."

"Nice to talk to you again, Alex." She paused, obviously a little puzzled. "Is there something Ah can do for you?"

"Yeah. Can I ask you an important question?"


Taking a deep breath, Alex closed his eyes and tried to think of the words. "I wanted to ask you this the first time we met, in the hospital. How... do you keep it from killing you? You've got two kids risking their lives every day, you know what can happen. How on earth do you deal with that?"

Lucinda was silent for a moment, acknowledging the fear they shared, but there was none of it in her voice. "Every day."

Alex was silent for a long time, considering that. Technically it wasn't an answer to his question, but in reality it felt like at least half of one. "It never gets any easier, does it?"

"No." She sounded sympathetic, but also a little amused. "Was that the only question you had?"

"No, there was one more. You sat there and waited for him to wake up, you were so calm for days while you had nothing to do except wait and I was falling apart. I can't imagine what it would take to do that."

"Ah wasn't waiting, Ah was praying. That's what it takes, Alex. Faith." She paused. "And a lot of guts. Think you can do it? Because since you called me long-distance to ask me this, Ah'm guessin' this is one of those 'speak now or forever hold your peace' moments."

"It is. And I think... that I don't know yet, but I'm trying to find out."

"Can't ask for more than that."

"Thank you for the help."

"Thank you for asking for it," she replied gravely.

Alex thought about that conversation hard, trying to imagine what it would be like to live that way. If he could live that way. Nothing had miraculously been fixed and there hadn't been any blinding revelations. Just the growing need to do something, anything, that could make a difference. A handful of questions and another handful of answers that didn't necessarily match or make any of it any easier. And still he was missing something, but he didn't know what.

"Now that," said a voice from above him, "is the look of a man with bigger problems than the fact that he didn't hear a word anybody said in the last hour."

Alex jumped and looked up into the open face of Daniel Robinson, one of his professors, and noticed for the first time that the seats around him were empty. "What?"

Professor Robinson smiled slightly. "Exactly. Want to talk about it?"

"It's... complicated."

"These things usually are."

It was something in the expression of the man who couldn't be more than five years older than Alex was that decided it-maybe the same something that made almost everyone in his classes like him. "Got an hour or three?"

"Four, but I may need to break for lunch at some point." He smiled faintly and stepped back to give Alex more room to stand up. "My office is this way."

'Office' perhaps wasn't quite the right word for the room Alex ended up in, at least not in a conventional sense. There was a desk, but there were also large windows, an espresso machine, several comfortable chairs and a population of potted plants. The professor headed towards one of the comfortable chairs, waving Alex towards the other.

"Now, at this point in a movie I'd say 'it's a girl, isn't it' and you'd look all surprised that I guessed. But this is real life, so I'd probably be wrong."

"You would be." Alex shrugged. "It's a guy."

"See? It's best not to make assumptions in an attempt to look clever." The other man smiled. "Don't worry, I'm not going to go weird on you or pull burning crosses out of anywhere. I'm a geologist, it takes a really good rock to get me worked up."

Alex smiled as memory stirred. "I know what you mean. When we first got together, Sam told me that he'd figured out what was going on when he got jealous of the San Andreas Fault because of my 'strange fascination with it'."

"Earthquakes come between you?"

"No. It wasn't what I do, it was what he does. He... it's dangerous. He thinks that it's worth the risk because it helps people. I can agree with that-I did the same thing myself for a while-but that didn't really help me live with him doing it." The silence was understanding and waiting to be filled. "About a month ago he got pretty badly hurt. Nearly died. And I couldn't deal with that. I looked after him and told him I loved him... and didn't sleep very much. I was falling apart but I kept putting it off until he got better, then a few days ago I just told him that I didn't know how to live that way. At the time I said that it was because it was so hard on my son, but Scott coped better than I did afterwards. He was terrified at the time, cried and cried... but he got over it. I didn't."

"Because when something like that happens you have toadmit that the risks are real. Other people think that you're incredibly selfish for choosing that moment to leave, and in a way it is, but they don't know what it feels like to realise that you're going to spend years waiting to hear that next time they weren't so lucky."

"He left me, after we fought about it for a while." Alex looked up with a frown. "How do you know?"

"Big coincidence, my ex-wife is a cop. Well, soon to be ex-wife. We've been separated for around a year."

"What happened?"

"She got shot by some sixteen year old drug-dealer. The bullet bounced off a rib and missed her heart. She was up and about in record time, I nearly had a nervous breakdown. So you see, I'm probably not the best person to give you an answer." Daniel smiled humourlessly.

"I've already got some of those, I just don't know if I'm strong enough to use them." Alex looked consideringly at the photographs of children and a complete family that hung on the wall before turning back. "Ever feel like you're cutting off your nose to spite your face?"

"Only all the time."

"I don't know which one I can't live with more. The fear or the nothing."

Daniel looked thoughtfully down at his hands. "Personally, I think the nothing is worse. The fear isn't going to go away no matter what you do, not if you really love him. It just gets duller and easier to ignore."

"And he's never going to give it up. Of course, given the way he looked when he walked out, I might not have a choice anymore." Alex thought a while more, and found his eyes drifting back to the photographs again. "Did you ever tell you wife that leaving didn't help?"

"No. By the time I figured it out it was too late."

"Are you sure?" He looked closely at the studio photograph of two adults and two children, all smiling happily, and felt tempted to smile back. "One of the other things Sam told me, not long ago, is that sometimes the stupidest thing you can do is let go."

"Is that advice for you or for me?" The dry tone didn't seem to indicate a real appreciation for advice, but not necessarily because the advice was wrong.

Alex shrugged. "Maybe both of us, I'm not sure yet. But I'm working on it."

Walking away from the building, Alex thought some more. Daniel Robinson had helped as well, both a sympathetic ear and a warning example. If the fear wasn't going to go away no matter what he did... well, he'd known that, he just hadn't really admitted it to himself. So maybe he could deal with it now that he'd admitted that it would always be there. It would be worth trying. Except that he hadn't stopped resenting The Dream for causing the fear, and Sam would probably object to that.

Jealous of the San Andreas Fault... jealous is okay. Resenting isn't. A difficult problem, but maybe a manageable one.

As a family, Summerses weren't very religious. Even Cable, raised to essentially consider himself the second coming, was less devoted than many. He loved much of the philosophy and had dedicated most of his life to accomplishing the Askani goals, but he wasn't one for blind devotion.

But, as a family, they could be very determined. And stubborn. Sometimes that could be a lot like faith.

God helps those who help themselves.

It was several days before Alex found what he wanted, and it was sheer luck that it happened that soon. But as Alex hurried towards the doors of his last class, feeling unaccountably nervous, he was surprised by a small distraction.


Turning in surprise, Alex looked across several people to Professor Robinson, who was still standing at the podium and answering some questions. "Yeah?"

"Thank you." He sounded calmer than he had all year, as well as sincere.

"You're welcome." Alex smiled, comforted. Maybe even if he couldn't work it out-which he was beginning to suspect that he could-what had happened between him and Sam had helped someone else. But he didn't have time to wait and ask for details if he wanted to catch the first speaker.

Berkeley basked in the cooler sun of autumn, full of pulsing life and thought. On one of its lawns a crowd had gathered in front of a hand-painted banner. Alex joined the back of it and looked up at a woman who couldn't be more than nineteen as she stood on a makeshift platform and struggled to get the microphone to work.

"Is this working now? Yes, okay." She cleared her throat and looked out at the crowd. "First, let me congratulate you all on showing up today and not just assuming that mutant rights are someone else's problem. Because as American citizens, the injustices perpetrated in our country are the concern of everyone, not just the victims!"

A warm-up cheer followed that. Alex clapped a little, watching to see what kind of rally it was going to be before committing himself too whole-heartedly.

"Wondered when we were going to see you at one of these things," said a voice next to him.

Alex turned to find Natasha standing next to him and smiling knowingly. "That obvious, huh?"

p>"No, not really. I was just around enough to notice all the little things, like the way your coffee never goes cold. Plus I did a heap of research on mutant stuff when it turned out my brother was, so I'd seen a lot of pictures of you and was already pretty sure-which is why I introduced myself to start with." She grinned. "Hate to say this, but black really isn't your colour."

"For a while it was sort of necessary." Alex wondered if having been unknowingly outed as an ex-superhero should be scaring him, because it didn't seem to be.

"Okay." Natasha was quiet for a moment, listening, then nodded to the woman on the podium. "That's Leslie. She's the one who makes these things happen but she's not actually a mutant herself. Well, I don't think so, she'd probably say so if she was."

"Probably." Alex smiled as Leslie continued, Scarlett-O'Hara-accented little voice ringing with conviction.

"Because I don't believe that people should be persecuted for being who or what they are. People can't help being mutants any more than they can help being black, or female." She looked around, a faint grin twisting the corners of her mouth up. "Or gay. Diversity is the spice of life. Instead of persecuting people because they scare us, we should talk to them, understand them, learn from them."

"What about 'help them'?" Alex was probably as surprised as everyone else to hear those words coming out of his mouth but he took it philosophically. "Most mutants get whatever it is that they're going to get when they're twelve or so. Often they have no idea what's happening to them or how to control it, so they get scared and often don't tell anybody. If they do tell their parents half the time their parents make them pretend that it's not there. They never learn how to control what they can do and that is dangerous. Although more often for them than other people, because the rate of suicide in teenage mutants is as high as in homosexual teenagers-it just doesn't show up as much because there are fewer mutants. Although, without knowing what they can do or how to deal with it, they can hurt or kill someone without meaning to, which is another leading cause of suicide attempts."

Leslie grinned widely. "Well, hon, why don't you come and help us put together at least a referral system for mutants in crisis and put your money where your mouth is?"

Alex blinked. He did want to. After all that, there hadn't been any voices from the sky or lightning strikes... he'd just remembered what it felt like to be a terrified kid who spent far too much time praying to a God that he didn't believe in to make him normal again. Had that always been what The Dream was about?

And there was something about Leslie... Suddenly Alex grinned. She reminded him of Sam. "I'm busy this week, how about Tuesday?"

Sam swore angrily at the computer screen. Trying to beat Julio's high score didn't work off much aggravation if he kept failing. And he knew that he kept losing because he was angry and distracted and guilty and hurt, and that just made him angrier and more distracted. So distracted that he didn't notice the person who'd walked up behind him until he spoke.

"If I promise to do everything you tell me to and worship your toes for the rest of my life will you forgive me for being a big dork?"

Sam didn't turn away from the computer screen. "Depends. Are you through being a dork?"

"Yes." Alex certainly sounded much calmer, yet so much more vibrant than he had for a long time. "Scott had a good yell at me and told me I was being a big dork for trying to blame my problems on him. He got quite specific about what exactly my problems were, actually. So I talked to your mother, then a fellow dork, and then I had a quiet epiphany at a mutant rights rally." He sighed a self-exasperated but less distressed sigh. "I remembered why I did what you do for so long and why you keep doing it and you won't give it up. The Dream hasn't meant very much to me for a long time, not as a passion. But the way it does to you is one of the things I love about you and I was a complete idiot to even think about asking you to give that up."

"Ah thought about doing it." Sam turned at that point. If Alex was going to be honest, he could too. "But Ah couldn't. It's... too much a part of me. Ah can't live like you do, at least not now. But Ah did think about it and your point of view. Cable kinda made me realise that you weren't the only big dork around. Ah just didn't want to admit how much it hurt you, because then Ah couldn't blame it all on you. And Ah'm sorry for that because it wasn't very fair. Not that you were very fair either and it fucking hurt, but you knew that. So. Ah can't make any promises, you know that too, but Ah'll try really hard not to get killed."

Alex smiled suddenly, coming the rest of the way into the room until he was standing in front of Sam's chair. "Just for me, huh?"

"No, for me. Because Ah don't want to leave you." Sam leaned forwards, managing to grab both of Alex's hands in his own. "Besides, if Ah did you'd just run off with some gorgeous woman named Bambi or Sherri or something who doesn't deserve you. Forgive me for doing something that might get me hurt?" It might sound stupid, but if Alex couldn't... well, there wasn't much point. And he hated thinking that Alex was angry with him.

"Yes, I think so. Forgive me for being a big dork?" The smile widened to a grin.

"Only if you do anything Ah say." Sam stood up and took a step forward so that they were chest to chest and eye to eye. "At least for a few days. A private few days." And what he'd ask for was to not have to sleep alone and be told that it was all going to be okay so that he could relearn how to stop being so afraid.

"So I can worship your toes?"

"Among other bits of me." He laughed. "And figure out how we're gonna deal with all this, Ah suppose."

Alex nodded seriously. "Because this doesn't really mean it's all fixed. I love you and I'm sorry. But I'm still scared and I can't promise that I'll always be able to cope with that, either."

"No." Sam sighed. "But we can try, can't we?"

"We can try." Alex let go of Sam's hands and hugged him instead. "Because some things are worth fighting for."

-=The End=-

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