Midnight Shadows Guided Games GENEsis: DOFP Genesis In Character Days of Future Past [NYC] Hurricane [Paige / Alex]


11-14-2018
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11-14-2018, 10:14 PM
[In-Character] [Post #11]
That he agreed to not use his powers to easily settled her somewhat. If Ben had picked up on Alex’s seemingly simple twist of his abilities, he was far more sensitive than she gave him credit for. She had assumed Six had glitched and that was what had tipped him off to the fault in its construct. It had been strange for him to look up from his coloring to inform her that Six ‘didn’t feel good’. And then for him to tell her it had to do with its energy stores…she popped her little fridge open and retrieved a water bottle, then mentally coerced herself to take up a second one.

“Thank you.” She replied quietly as she turned and watched him fold down onto her couch. When he commented that he looked like her, she swallowed again. “I’m not what I see when I look at him.” She looked down at the bottles in her hands. His name. “Ben.” She confessed. Everything that she wanted to keep from him, everything that she wanted to keep out of his reach, out of his ears and his thoughts, it was choking her from the inside out. He should know. That was what was right. It was wrong for her to keep deflecting, wasn’t it? What if she was dead tomorrow?

When he commented about how she couldn’t want him there, she inhaled to argue, but swallowed it back. He had to have some point. And there it was. He had no where else to go. Whoever he had been, the human masquerade he had constructed, it was gone. He had thrown it away. He had put himself so far within them, and then just destroyed what he had built in a moment. She wondered how he had done it, truly. He took some pill to suppress his mutated genes, but no one looked close enough at his face? His blue eyes, straight nose, perfect cheeks and lips. She ground to a dead halt.

He asked about staying on the couch and taking a shower. Then his thought immediately skipped to finding the theater otherwise. Finding Gabe. And something selfish in her snapped. She needed him more than Gabe did. Even if the claim was that he needed her. The left side of her mouth quirked at the thought. That was fair though, was it not? He had save her, and she should return the gesture?

She set the water bottles down on the horizontal placed packing crate that served as a ‘coffee table’ and moved back towards the hall. She opened the hall closet and reached for one of the few towels. Then she ducked to the next shelf and pulled out a pair of plain blue sweatpants, they were mens because she hated the fit of womens, and the pair were too big for her. She paused when she considered her next item, then reached to the back of the shelf and slipped her fingers through a set of folded shirts and drew them closer to the light. She chose the second one because she knew it would fit him. Because it had been his. She thought she kept it to be practical, no use throwing something perfectly fine in the garbage. She thought that she kept it because it was comfortable. She thought that she kept it for Ben. But she had kept it because of him.

Her steps back were simple enough and she rolled the items up before she held them out to him. “Do not put those other clothes back on.” She moved to step away, then turned back. “Put them somewhere Ben won’t find them.” She swallowed and fought the urge to look away from him. “You need me right now. How does that feel? To need a mutant’s help?” She felt the tears creeping back and her lower lip threatened to tremble. “Remember this moment the next time you think it’s a great idea to stage your own death, because I…I needed you when you were gone.”
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11-15-2018
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11-15-2018, 03:12 PM
[In-Character] [Post #12]
I’m not what I see when I look at him.

Then what … who is it you see?

The question simmered in the back of his mind. Yet instead of letting it out, Alex kept it right there. Was it a question he had the right to ask? After walking out of her life even if on an impulsive decision what right did he have to return and poke around in things she might not even want to discuss with him. Ben, Alex though, rolling the name around his head. A child, three years old.

How long after the explosion had he been born?

Less than nine months, a small voice in his head said. He heaved air into his lungs, wondering just how long it would take the question to just slip past his lips. The idea was gaining momentum, gaining room in his head. What if … what if Ben was his?

In this moment, the simmering question turned into a flame and Alex struggled at the implications it brought along. He pushed at it, willed the thoughts spinning into a spiral away. Paige set down a water bottle in front of him, and Alex breathed a sigh of relief as her reappearance was enough to keep it all at bay for now. He looked up, nodded and took the bottle. With a quick twist, he opened the lid and proceeded to gulp down half of the bottle’s contents.

All the while, his gaze settled back on her over the bottle tipped to his mouth to drink. He saw the emotions warring on her face, in her entire composure. This was much harder on her than it was on him. Alex set the bottle down on his thigh to screw the lid back on. Then he placed the half-empty container onto the floor next to his still booted feet.

In silence, he watched her as from the hall closet she was … retrieving a towel. He acknowledged her actions with a sigh of relief. She was not kicking him out. Alex would have a place to stay tonight. His eyes slid closed for a moment, and he ran his hand across his dirty and unshaven face again. He exhaled and his breathing was unsteady. Tension he had not even been aware of until a moment ago slipped away. He had to admit to himself that part of him had feared that Paige would open her front door any moment and ask him to leave. With that gone, he felt relief to have a bed tonight … but that was not all of it. There was more. Somehow, half an hour in, her apartment felt more like home than his own had the past years.

Then she had returned to his side, holding out the things she had gathered in a neat little roll. Alex gazed up, into blue and green eyes so much like his own. He bit his lower lip as his gaze took in the woman she was, had become. Just a few small lines around her eyes. She had been muscly to a point of lean back then whereas now slightly wider hips made her appear much more womanly. He liked that about her. Other than that, she was so much like she had been then – so much like he remembered her. Alex felt trouble swallowing as he took in the vision she was. Even with the dirt smeared across her face from the fight at the compound and still stuck in the dark clothes she had worn for her attempt to break free Psylocke – Beth.

So much familiarity in that face. So much she had offered him then … Alex could no longer understand how he had ever decided to walk away from that. For so long he had lived as the black sheep of the family. Be it his birth family, or that composed of other mutants. Somehow, he had never been just right, just quite enough. It was something he had lived with for all of his life. It was normal to him – to accept that he was impulsive one, never thinking things through, making every last damned mistake in the book. And more than that, he had lived up to it. There was no need to act responsible because no one had ever expected that from him. Why give a damn, when no one else expected any better? It was not something he felt sorry for. He did not pity himself. It just was the way it was. He was the rascal. It was just his place in life.

And yet, had Paige not made him feel something else? Despite the both of them insisting that there did not need to be commitment between them. To be kept casual - had she not been the one person he had enjoyed coming home to? And more importantly, Alex remembered that despite insisting that they did not need to be mutually exclusive, he had never so much as looked at another girl. Another breath escaped him, somewhat exasperated it was.

So much wasted time.

He took the bundle she held out for him while she told him not to put his clothes back on. Alex shook his head, then switched to nodding. He understood perfectly why she asked this of him, would of course comply. “I’d melt them …”, Alex told her in response, his tone indicating that he of course would not. “I have a gun, a tazer, ammunition and a hunting knife” - the only thing missing from full gear was the assault rifle he had dropped at the compound. “They might be useful.” Possibly even if just to sell and make a bit of money. Not that a gun had much on the kind of attack and defense two mutants with his and Paige’s abilities could come up between them. “Show me where I could hide that?” Alex’s gaze shifted to the hall closet behind her, maybe way up on the top shelf? “At least until I incinerate the uniform…” He wanted her to hear that, needed her to know that there was no way back for him.

Paige turned to step away, and Alex held his breath to not just push forward. He could not just push into her personal space and pull her back. He had cut the ties back then, and now he would have to earn her trust back. Still, he willed her back to his side. Her presence was a soothing one despite the anger and hurt still clinging to every one of her motions. That was when she turned back to him, and Alex found himself slowly releasing the breath he had held.

He was quite certain that his face, his eyes gave away almost everything he was feeling right now. The fear that she would chase him from here, the regret over the time he had taken away from the both of them. The need for her to forgive him. Alex said nothing, just looked into her eyes and waited for her to say what she needed to say.

“You need me right now.”
“I do”, he said and his voice was a whisper.

“How does that feel?”
Alex shook his head once. He had no words to explain it. It felt like … everything. Because right here and right now, her small living room had become the center of his existence.

“To need a mutant’s help?”
“Paige, don’t …” He quietly begged her. Living without this side of him, it had felt like missing more than just a single limb. It had felt like missing his entire right side.

He saw the gleam caused by added moisture in her eyes, and without consciously deciding to do so, Alex reached out, his fingers wrapping around her lower arm. His touch was soft as he did not want to startle her. He pressed his lips together as she continued, her words cutting into him with uncanny precision.

“Remember this moment the next time you think it’s a great idea to stage your own death, because I…I needed you when you were gone.”

The added moisture brightened blue eyes in the darkness of Paige’s living room as Alex’s gaze remained on her face. He wanted her to let it out. Everything, get it all out of her system. All the anger, the contempt. Maybe in the wake of all that, he could confess that she had been the thought on his mind all this years. How he had tried to catch glimpses of her every now and then. That when he had seen her with some fellow he had never seen before it had been such a punch to his stomach that he had stopped trying. He could not watch her being with someone else - the idea alone had helped him empty first two bottles of whiskey that night before spending a night camped out in his small bathroom.

“I’m sorry”, he breathed, a tear slipping down his cheek. “It was …”, he shook his head, “so … I didn’t … I mean …” He heaved air into his lungs only to let it out in frustration. He couldn’t find words. His fingers, still wrapped around her lower arm, twitched and he gazed down and his face gave away so openly that he, too, was fighting tears when four years of loneliness broke out of him. “Please, don’t let me go ...”

Of course if was impossible of him to ask her this. It should be the other way around, right? But no, Paige would not. She would probably laugh him off, send him for the hills because he had left her then. And yet, here he stood, heart on his sleeve begging the woman he had left behind four years ago to save him now.
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[In-Character] [Post #13]
He was on edge, she could see that, afraid she would push him out of her apartment and back out of her life. He was reaching out and trying, and all she was doing was slowly unleashing her pent-up anger and pain. It wasn’t fair, for either of them. It wasn’t fair that he had staged everything, that he had moved on with his life, that she had been left behind. She supposed, though, that it also wasn’t fair that she was being as cold as she was. He had plucked her from likely certain death, but did that really earn him her care? She was angry though, and it warred like a ragged thing against the relief that he was alive. He had hurt her, deeply, and she wanted him to feel just a measure of it. Not for punishment, but to comprehend in some capacity what he had allowed to flourish in the wake of his death.

He had died. She had told them they had mourned him. Some part of him had died that day. And as grateful as the traitorous part of her that wanted to reach for him was, he was different. They were all different. She had been selfish with Ben, tucked him away in a corner of the world, too afraid to share him with the world. The guilt that rattled her through every moment she was forced to be in Gabe’s presence…oh god. She had no idea how to handle and process this. He had stalked every corridor of her life since he had left, and then he just blew back in like a storm upending everything in his path.

So she did what she did best since he had disappeared, she threw up her defenses.

Even as she wanted them to come down.

When his fingers ghosted against her forearm, every nerve twitched, every immediate reaction was to pull away. Only Ben got to touch her. Anytime Victor got too close to her, she pushed him away, or moved out of his immediate sphere of influence. He joked about having her in every way possible, and as much as she had come to appreciate his company and his understanding of everything neurotic about her, the image of the idiot in front of her would push through, and then morph into someone so much smaller.

He had just left.

He tried to apologize, but just ended up babbling no coherently. Sorry, sorry, sorry. She pressed her nails against her palms to stave back the impending madness that threatened to swallow her whole. Why couldn’t she just accept it and move on? Why could she just lift her arms from her side and feel him again?

Because of the boy in the room down the hall. His beautiful eyes, his perfect little voice, his stubborn nature, and his impulsive streak. She had carried him and brought him into the world, alone. Even as she had curled into a ball as her own body fought against her to do what it knew how to do all on its own, to bring Ben about, she had thought about him. Grieved his absence, his missing that moment, missing every moment afterward. Missing every cry, every gummy smile, every laugh, every change, milestone. And everything that Ben had to miss out on.

She breathed in and settled herself. “The hot water only works for twelve minutes.” That was…safe. If she let herself unravel, she might wake Ben. “That’s the best that Six has been able to work out with the compact heater coils and cells.” No one else lived in the building.

When she lifted her free hand, allowing Alex to keep hold of her other, she moved her hand towards him with care, caught between wanting to hit him and wanting to soothe him. It was a strange place to be. She set her thumb against his chin and curled her other fingers about his jaw and towards his ear. Leaning in was almost second nature. She carefully inhaled against, drew in the scent of him from near the base of his neck and she so wanted to give in, to just fall back into ease, the simplicity, the comfort she had once felt in his presence. It was there, sitting beneath her skin, the urge to.

Please, don’t let me go…

Were those his words?

Or hers?

She slowly removed her arm from his grip, but rather than drawing away, she lifted it up around him, pushing along his lower back and then up as far as she could reach. It settled against his upper back and she fisted his shirt as she took the half a step necessary to lean into him.

“Please,” she breathed against his clavicle, “please don’t hurt me anymore.”
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11-15-2018
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11-15-2018, 09:01 PM
[In-Character] [Post #14]
Something about this was so familiar, Alex realised. He could remember the times they had fought. Sometimes books or the remotes would fly across the room, usually from her direction to his. At times he knew she was deliberately missing, at other times that remote had hit him square in the forehead. Maybe that had been part of what had made them so good. She could do these things and he would not hold them against her. Each of them allowed to say and get out what needed to come out. It had been a freedom previously unknown to him. Someone to be honest with, no matter what that truth might be.

Why had it taken him four years of nights spent alone to understand?

He knew her when she was angry. Could see it in her clear as day. Part of him silently urged her to just get it out. All of it. He would stand for it, would endure every last moment of it. Because that’s what they had been to one another, hadn’t they? Someone to just get it all out with. Why had his younger self just not seen the treasure he had found there?

He exhaled with a quiver when she pushed her anger down, choosing a path he had seen from her before as well. Detour, walk off the dangerous emotion first. Whether it was pain, anger or something else altogether.

“The hot water only works for twelve minutes.”
“I understand”, he choked out.

“That’s the best that Six has been able to work out with the compact heater coils and cells.”
“I’ll remember.” Alex nodded, his thumb rubbing her lower arm in a small circle. He was sure that right in this moment, she could have told him that she needed him to cut off his other arm and he would have nodded all the same and done it. He would have done right about everything. The appreciation of her not pulling away was like a lump in his throat. Swallowing was problematic, especially against the tears still pushing into his eyes, tears he was fighting back.

He was trying to wrap his mind around this. This moment, the past hour. The last four years. Eventually, he had given up, had slipped deeper into the life of this human like an addict would eventually switch from the bottle of wine to the whiskey. He had insisted that he was doing what he had to do. Had to be this man – for his brothers, for everyone he had left behind. He could investigate, get close to the mutants the SFG incarcerated and get them out somehow. But who had he been kidding? He knew that his attempts had been futile at best. At some point, his attempts had become nothing but a joke – while Alex had worked hard to pretend that he could indeed make a difference. That point when accepting it would take another six months, maybe more, to even get the clearance he needed. How long had he planned on holding up this charade?

Alex did not know because this morning there had been not even the shadow of a doubt about continuing to do it. He had had his coffee, had donned his uniform, had taken off to the compound. There he had equipped his gun, the tazer and knife, and last but not least the assault rifle. He had been just half an hour shy of finishing up when Paige and her team had hit the compound. What if Alex had switched shifts like one of his colleagues had asked him the previous night?

What if he had not been there to get Paige out when the team inside had aimed and fired – at her back, shooting to kill.

And now, after all this time, he stood here after he had yanked her out of the line of fire literally. Stood in this place, his hand wrapped around her arm. And he wanted her forgiveness, her absolution. He wanted her to say that the child sleeping down the hall was his, and that she would take him back. That she would let him win her heart properly, like he should have done last time. He wanted that back. He wanted her laugh, her hugs and kisses. He wanted her anger, and even that way in which she would throw that remote and hit him square between the eyes. He wanted all that – and he wanted her to understand that he would never forgive himself for giving her up in the first place.

So, Alex did not flinch, nor duck when she lifted her hand. If she was to slap him again, there was nothing he had in the way of defense. He owed her to stand here and accept whatever she would deliver. The idea to put himself into her shoes, to imagine what it would have been like had he stood at her grave … Alex couldn’t get his mind to go there, and he shivered when he imagined that she had lived with that truth for so long.

Grief was love with nowhere to go.

He gazed at her as another tear slipped from its hold – and he exhaled when her thumb found his chin and the rest of her hand settled against his face. Then he sucked in air and held it when she leaned in. She breathed him in and he wondered what it was she found in that scent. A man in need of a shower, quite likely. And yet – how often had they come home from a mission, sweaty and dirty. To him her scent then had never been off-putting. Sadness furrowed his brows as once more he reminisced these small and simple things he never treasured like he should have before.

When Paige pulled her arm from his hold, Alex let it go only to find her push it around him. His breath came out ragged as he dropped the roll of clothes she had brought him to simply pull her into his embrace. His chest rose and fell in quick succession as the emotion got too much to keep within. It weren’t sobs just those ungoverned attempts to steady oneself when that emotional tide rose too high.

Paige whispered to him, and her words tore into him.
“I won’t.” His voice was oddly unwavering when he said it, while his body was shaking a little as he drew his embrace around her closer. “And god, you’re really pissed off with me and you’d take my head off right now if it wasn’t for Ben sleeping, right?” Tears mixed in with a helpless laugh coloured his words. “I didn’t think … I didn’t …” think .. didn’t consider that maybe you actually loved me.

One arm settled against her lower back while the other went around her shoulders, his hand digging into her hair at the nape of her neck as he inclined his head and pressed the side of it against hers.
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11-15-2018
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11-15-2018, 09:54 PM
[In-Character] [Post #15]
This was not where she had seen herself an hour ago when he had plucked her up, when she had connected his face with his scent with his voice. This was not where she had seen herself ten minutes prior when her rage had threatened to swallow her whole. Ten years ago, she would have walked away from him. She might have caved if he had chased and made an effort. But wasn’t that he what he was doing? Trying to push his way back through every time she dried to erect another wall, another guard.

Her grip tightened the moment his arms settled around her and drew her in. She pressed her face more firmly against his shirt and she didn’t care if she left tear and drool marks. He was supposed to incinerate the clothing he had on, so it wouldn’t matter. She just wanted to feel something other than fear, anger. Something wholly else. Something that whispered the lines of what she held for the boy down the hall. Something not tied to or seeping with pain. His fingers tangled in her hair and she wanted to drop right there, give in to the sensation offered, the hands willing to hold her.

He sounded so resolute in his promise, and she exhaled, warm breath against his skin as she tried to draw herself closer to him still. He was real. She could feel his heart against his ribs, knocking through against her own. She felt a measure of her tension dissipate at the sound of him wet chuckle, felt it hum through his entire being. He wasn’t stupid, at least, he had managed to keep a few brain cells.

When he stumbled over his next choice of words, she pushed herself upright enough to look up at him through bleary eyes. I didn’t… a frown creased her brow and she shoved him away from her, right back onto the open and waiting couch. “You didn’t what?” She waited, gave him a second to spout off some half-formulated thought to make everything better before she left him alone with his thoughts once more. And the clothing and towel she had brought for him, whatever he had done with those.

She went straight for her room, her motions angry but quiet as she passed her son’s room, purpose in her step as she entered the small space and immediately grabbed a pillow before turning directly back to the dumbass likely still sitting on her couch. She wasted not even a moment. She drew back as she exited the hallway and slammed the pillow into the side of his head before she reared back and followed through with a second blow. “You didn’t what, Alex?” She clocked him the other direction, again and again, something finally releasing from deep within her and the well of her splintered emotions. “You didn’t think about anyone else?”

Pillow to the head.

“You didn’t think anyone else would care?”

She aimed for his chest next, drawing back with both arms.

“You didn’t think that I would miss you?” Because that was the root of it. “God I just want to knock your stupid head off your stupid shoulders.” She spit out as she drew back again, as the tears pushed forward again. As playful as this seemed, it was the only way she could think to diffuse her ebbing anger without screaming at the top of her lungs.
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[In-Character] [Post #16]
A little bit at war, a little bit testing the waters. And a lot of just getting it all out. Shuffling back and forth, the progress was slow and yet it was there. He accepted her anger as much as he did her embrace because both of them were honest. He loved the way she pulled herself closer even if for just a moment.

And then, came the shift in her and he was instantly alerted to it. Like she was his homing beacon and he was privy to every change of the energy levels. Before he knew why Alex found himself pushed back. He sat down involuntarily, and stared after her as she stomped off. He had said something, Alex told himself. But what. Which of his words had set her off? She answered his question almost instantly, repeating the question she had not finished.

You didn’t what?
A solid Huh was all he had in his mind as a response. Why was she angry now? Alex looked after Paige, dumbfounded and speechless. He stared after her. What was she doing?

“Huh …” he now voiced as well, reaching down blindly picking up the things she had brought for him earlier. A towel, a pair of sweat pants and a … wait, what? Alex stared at the piece of clothing. His hands franticly unfolded it and found the frayed Nike swoosh on the front. He turned the piece of clothing around, and found a hole at the back just above his left kidney. He’d once torn it there, trying to outclimb her one Sunday morning. He had picked a tree not quite suitable for climbing and had almost broken his neck that day.

This was his sweater.
His sweater.

“Paige, this is my…” he started but couldn’t finish the sentence.
BOOM.

His head throbbed for a moment as she whacked his head firmly with a pillow, hitting his ear. Alex saw stars. Instantly a second blow came. “Paige …!” he tried, a shouted whisper if such a thing ever existed. Her question cut through the throbbing emanating from his ear. It took him a moment to catch on as she kept hitting him. What … what was she construing of that sentence he had not finished?

“You didn’t what, Alex?”
“You didn’t think anyone else would care?”
“You didn’t think that I would miss you?”


Alex did not fight back, he hardly even defended. Because how could he? She had no reason to take the words he had uttered for anything but this. One wouldn’t think Alex Summers thought further than the tip of his own nose, right? The words Paige hissed subsequently hurt him, but he figured she had every right to say them. And it was then, as her tears into the blue and green swirls of her eyes again, that he finally brought up his arms to stop her.

“I didn’t know you …” he hesitated, swallowed. God, he felt obnoxious as the words formed in his head. “You loved me … I didn’t know.”

He held her still, above him, poised to throw more blows against him. Alex would let her if she yanked herself free, and he would continue to hold still if beating it out of herself and into him was what she needed to do. Heck, this was better than what he would have considered … inviting her outside into one of the deserted baseball courts, do it with real fists. At least this wouldn’t have him black and blue come morning.

“I was so caught up being the black sheep of the family… I didn’t see. Paige … I didn’t see it.” The words came flying out of his mouth now – all still in a low and hushed tone but nonetheless very clear to both of their ears.

“I was so stupid … so stupid.” And obscured by the back of the couch, Alexander Summers lay there beneath the smaller form of Paige Guthrie, tears of regret and relief ran down his cheek when it all finally came out.
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11-16-2018
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11-16-2018, 05:56 AM
[In-Character] [Post #17]
She was tiring. It was plain enough in the gradual slowing of her motions. It had been an overly taxing day. She had barely slept the night prior in anticipation of getting up, of getting to Beth. Finally finding one of them. Finally shifting the board. Half carrying Beth out of that compound, up flights of steps, into that awful elevator. Shoving her through the gates had been impulsive, too focused to think about what it would mean for her to remain behind. What it would mean for Ben, for Gabriel.

What it would have meant for Alex.

If she hadn’t remained behind, if he hadn’t been there, if he hadn’t taken her from that place, he would have remained with them. He would have continued being human. He would have left that compound without being any wiser. She would have ran from that site around the same time that he had been arriving. Ships in the dark. Some part of her wanted to laugh at the odd twist of fate. If she hadn’t remained behind, she wouldn’t be where she was. She would have returned to the theater and then returned here. She would have snuggled Ben down into her bed and held him, asked him about his day, read him a book and let him fall asleep wherever he chose.

Then she would have been alone with her thoughts. She would have watched him sleep, grasping to hang on to every moment as they seemed to race by. He had been so small once, so needy, so sleepy all the time. Now he walked, and talked, and created energy spheres and fields.

She would have thought about Alex. She would have run a finger down the side of her son’s small face and pieced together everything not her that she could see developing in his features. Everything that haunted her of the man somewhat below and beneath her.

When she drew back for another swing, his hands darted out and wrapped around her wrists, halting her as she loomed over him. He huffed in several breaths and she mimicked the physical sentiment, before he struggled for his words.

“You didn’t know…me?” She demanded. “What?” And then he finished the admission and she felt herself suspended. You loved me. It struck her, hard. He had never realized that he meant more to her than she let on. I didn’t know. He continued, spilling further and it chipped away at the ice about her heart; she hated that he had ever mastered that ability. They had never tried to sort out just what it was they had been, never put a name to it, instead had simply appreciated the other’s company in whatever shape or form it was presented. But he hadn’t realized that, at least for her, it had become far more personal. She wasn’t even sure she could have recalled the moment the shift had taken place.

He had simply been it, then.

Odd one out, he drew for her. She had known that. She had known how he felt. She had tried to counter whatever it was that made him feel like he didn’t belong with anyone or anywhere. She had laughed with him, yelled at him, thrown things at him, but she had stood with him, faced down the barrels of guns with him. And he hadn’t seen what she had been trying to show him all along. She had known about his history with Caitlin, and with the girl who manipulated the metal in the world like another mutant. Had he thought he couldn’t be loved. And that realization cut through her like a dull blade, leaving an aching trail in its wake.

It wrung her and she felt herself loosen, felt her muscles give as she lowered herself onto the couch over him. His tears tugged at her, because Alexander Summers wasn’t a crier. She touched her fingertips to his cheek as though she needed to physically affirm their presence on his face, and then wiped them away.

How had it all funneled to that point.

She swatted him once more with the pillow and the fight went out.

And she was suddenly so very tired.

She pitched her weight and slid away from him, turning enough to settle back against the couch so that she could stare at the wall ahead of them. Seconds or minutes passed, but she couldn’t count them.

“I’m going to shower.” She finally told him, then she breathed in. “And then I need to go to bed.” Because she needed the lay her body down and rest, let her mind shut down and process the days events.

Twelve minutes. That was so little time to wash away everything.

Her feet padded quietly along the floor as she moved through the hall and into the small bathroom at the end. The water stuttered for a moment like it always did, and then a solid spray that quickly steamed up. She made quick work of cleaning herself, it had become a necessity when you only had twelve minutes of heat before it ran cold. It was still hot when she turned the knobs off and reached for the thin towel waiting for her. It was a half-ass job drying herself off and then she shuffled to her room and crawled under the covers of her bed without bothering to remove the towel or find pajamas. She pushed a hand through her hair and shed the brown for blonde, just like any other night.

How was this supposed to go?

Exhaustion hooked its claws in deep and she struggled against it, trying to restructure the last several hours again and again. At one point, in her anger, she had come so close to telling him that she hated him.
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11-16-2018
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11-16-2018, 09:05 AM
[In-Character] [Post #18]
The apartment was quiet, everything bathed in shadows with only the occasional sliver of moonlight shining in through the windows. Alex stood next to the couch, staring outside. Few of the buildings he saw were still inhabited. He could see small flickers of light here and there. More people hiding out, as far away from the next SFG compound as they could possibly get.

And that was what the normal person would do, was it not? Get away, and not join them. He closed his eyes, as he stood there, only wearing a pair of boxers now and his black shirt. On the couch lay the towel along with his old shirt and that pair of sweatpants. He would put that on – any moment now.

His mind backtracked to the time the both of them had spent laying on that couch – and his thoughts shifted to her bedroom where she had probably long crawled into bed by now. Sound asleep. She had looked beyond tired by the time she had announced that she would go to bed. He could not help himself imagining what it would be like to crawl under the covers next to her. Dig his hand into those strands of familiar blonde that had returned after her shower. It had made it all the harder to just stay where he was.

Yet it was the right decision, was it not? Alexander Summers making a good decision rather than an impulsive one. Who would have ever thought? The expression on his face was a sneer rather than a chuckle. He heaved air into his lungs – wishing it all to hell. His head moved from side to side, as he shook it, his eyes tightly shut. Pain welled up and he pushed the heel of his hand against his chest. Breathing became harder as he heaved forcefully now.

It washed over him, with precision and unrelenting force. Swaying, Alex’s form gracelessly stumbled backwards, coming to sit on the couch’s arm rest for a moment before slipping to the floor with a low thud. One hand on the floor next to him, fingers wide, and the other still pushed against his chest, he tried to slow his breathing.

But it hurt. It hurt like what he imagined a sword through the chest would feel like. It was the culmination, the reckoning of four years of wasted time. He had never even considered what it would be like to bury a loved one. All of them were so used to death. But what would it do to his brothers? What had it done to her? Grieving the loss for four long years. The effort involved in forcing oneself to live in a world where that loved one no longer existed.

Alex had done that – maybe impulsively so, but still with open eyes and a relatively clear mind – to them. All of them, and he had not once faced what that could mean in the past four years. So willingly he had coated the story with some heavy and sickeningly sweet sugar coating. He was doing it for the right reasons. To save his brothers. To dig up information. To find Scott.

Bullshit.

A hiss escaped his lips as he forced himself to accept that beneath it all, Alex had known that he would not find Scott like that. Not as Steven Smith. If anyone had truly had a chance to get close to his older brother, it would have been Havok – charged to full force.

Hands flew up, and Alex tore at the shirt he wore. The fabric gave and he literally yanked it off of him. The last piece of his standard issue uniform. The last of that life.

Both hands hovering above the pile of discarded clothes issued to one Steven Smith four and a half months ago, he wanted to just bring the heat. It sat there, dormant inside of his body. A flick of a single finger and he could burn it all to ashes in no more than a moment. But he couldn’t. It would certainly wake Ben – Paige had asked him to not use his powers. And he wouldn’t.

So that pile sat there and it taunted him.

The weapons he had already removed. All three items were safely tucked away in a black plastic back on the top shelf of Paige’s wall closet. Of course these things had to go as quickly as possible with a child in this place. But for now they were safe there. That left his clothes. He couldn’t just toss them out of the window. The SFG did the occasional sweep of randomly chosen remote areas at times. So he would have to actually burn them. Again, possibly not well after one in the morning. It would certainly raise the curiosity of some eyes that could be watching from somewhere.

He felt sweat trickle down his neck while he shivered. The exertion of still trying to slow his own breathing was making him sweat – and yet, he shivered. His laboured breaths only slowed down very gradually. The wave had hit him, and now it was behind him. Had that been a panic attack? Alex had had a few of them during the past years. The sensation, and pinpointing them for what they were was still something he found tricky. He had just never seen himself as the kind of person to even get them. Apparently, whenever he tapped into pent up emotion, they eventually came. Alex’s thoughts shifted back to that moment on the couch when Paige had hovered above him and the tears had flowed freely from his eyes. Four years of being on his own.

That moment had probably opened the doors for what happened now.

His head swam and shaking hands fished for the black trash bag he had helped himself to in the kitchen area before. He took it, taking well over thirty seconds to get the thing open, and shoved his gear and torn shirt into it. He didn’t like the idea that he would need the boots but he doubted that Paige happened to have a size ten pair of runners still stashed away in her wall closed. So eventually, he took the boots and the filled trash bag and stood. Pushing open the windows to the balcony, he stepped outside. Goosebumps erupted across his upper body, the sheen of sweat making the night appear that much colder.

Again, his power beckoned him. It was so simple to just feel warm. He had the ability to do so literally at his fingertips. Putting the bag down after tying it up with several knots, he placed the boots next to it and clenched his fingers into fists.

Having this side of him back was … almost alien. Alex had worked hard – like an addict shaking the habit – to accept his mutation being gone. Now it sat right underneath his skin, in every fibre of the body, welcoming him back into a world where he had his eyes open once more. Yes, that was the best way to describe it. The yellow pills had closed that sense of sight in his mind – the white one earlier had pushed it wide open once more. He could feel the energy everywhere – above him, around him and how it flowed into him, still charging batteries he had not used in four years. How had he been able to live like that? Blindly, and bound to the ground. Like a man shackled to his own damnation. What a poor creature had he become?

Alex stepped back inside. His breathing was down to normal levels once more – and his gaze found the two closed doors down the hall. That one behind which Ben slept under the watchful gaze of the suit Paige had gotten from Forge. And the one behind which Paige was. Then his eyes settled on a third – the bathroom.

He picked up the clothes and the towel, crossing the distance with almost soundless steps. Carefully, he shut the door behind him, and switched on the light. His gaze came up as Alex regarded himself in the mirror. “Really not in Kansas anymore ..”, he mumbled as he ran a hand across the growth on the lower half of his face that was becoming dense. His eyes roamed the shelves and eventually found a pack of disposable razors. He fished one out of the package, helping himself to some shaving cream in the corner of the shower stall. Alex ran the hot water, filling the sink half way before shutting it off again.

Alex did what he could, trying to chase away the look of a homeless man. It was not all that easy especially not with the lack of proper tools and enough hot water. But he felt a little more like himself, when most of the thick growth was eventually gone.

He cleaned the sink and stepped out of his boxers. Gazing at the shower stall for a moment, he wondered how long he would have hot water for Twelve minutes Paige had said. How long ago had she taken her shower? And how much had he used up for the trim just now?

Again, the whisper of his power. It allowed him to be independent of the availability of hot water. His own body acted as a heat source enough to make for pleasant and long showers. Maybe he would offer her this the next day – remind her how practical it could be to have one Alexander Summers close by. A half hour shower courtesy of his heat emanation – damned be those 12 minutes. But right now, he could not do it.

So Alex stepped into the stall, ran the water and enjoyed the warmth while it lasted. It was enough to wash away the dirt, the grime, the reminder of the man he had been these past four years. Both arms lifted and hands pushed against the wall in front of him, Alex let his head hang and the water run over him. He scrubbed his skin twice, hurrying as much as possible, before he decided to just stand there and wait for the hot water to run out. And he still stood as it turned cold – only finally shutting it off when he had begun to shiver.

No more tears, no more panic attack. Just a sense of deep and utter fatigue. He was tired – but it was a kind of tired that no amount of sleep could cure. Too much time had passed. And he had wasted it all.

How long after the explosion?

The question returned to him as he finally stepped out of the fire stall and pulled the towel from the pile of items to dry himself off. His motions became sluggish as his body slowly accepted that he too would need sleep. His mind wandered to the small boy sleeping down the hall – and the idea of wasted time became a harsh accusation in his mind.

What if …

No, Alex insisted as he stared at himself in the mirror with tired but strict eyes. Not now, Summers. He pulled on the pair of sweat pants and then his old shirt. Once more gazing at himself in the bathroom mirror, blue eyes slipped down to the piece of clothing. Did it fit him still? Or was it too small? Alex could not say. It simply felt so strange to see himself like this, to imagine Paige had held onto it for all of this time, to consider just who he – who they – had been when he had last worn it.

“I wish I could take it back …” he whispered, admitting to himself that in hindsight it was one of the bigger mistakes he had ever made. “I wish …”

Regret was a cruel companion especially because hindsight was always 20/20.

Alex ran his hand across his tired face once more before stepping out of the bathroom and shuffling down the hall towards the couch. He picked up the blanket that lay over the arm rest and the small pillow half hidden under it. His form was much too big for the small couch and he had to pull up his knees to fit but it would be fine.

He tucked the pillow under his head and pulled the blanket up and over him. It smelled like her. Somehow her scent was just everywhere. It softened Alex’s facial features as his last conscious thought was an image of a laughing, blonde Paige with a small boy on her hip, both of them laughing as Ben stretched his arms out and his small voice piped up with a demanding “Daddy!”
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11-16-2018
05:23 PM
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11-16-2018, 05:23 PM
[In-Character] [Post #19]
She stared at the wall, and then tried to stare at the insides of her eyelids. She rolled form one side to the other. Sleep shouldn’t be so elusive to those exhausted. She had contemplated slipping form her room to Ben’s to pluck him up back to her room to snuggle, wondering if the familiarity of him in her arms, his smell, his overactive body heat would soothe her frayed mind. But he had already been roused from sleep once by Alex, he didn’t need her troubling his sleep just because she couldn’t find it.

Alex was relatively quiet as he moved down the short hall to the bathroom. She had heard the sink faucet turn on, then off, then back on for a while and she wondered what he was doing. The shower kicked on next and she listened to the change in how the drops hit the tile floor, trying to imagine how he turned, stretched, reached. Then she wondered about his artificial arm. How had he vanished from that site so quietly when the explosion had taken his arm off? How long had it taken him to find someone to help him? How had he not bled out? Had he cauterized the severed area himself? How-

Her breathing accelerated again and she drew one of her pillows tight against herself.

How long had he been alone afterward?

She couldn’t imagine him alone for very long, he was too much himself to have remained alone. People used to gravitate to him, and he had barely ever noticed it.

She curled her knees upward and willed herself to just fall asleep, let the emotional barrage slide away, just for a little while. She needed to meet with Cait. She needed to meet back up with Elise so that she knew she wasn’t dead. She needed to check on Beth at some point.

She should have been dead.

Alex exited the bathroom and moved back into the living room and she felt…disappointment.

What if he had met someone? And now, because she had been careless enough to be caught within that compound, and he had been impulsive enough to reveal himself to his surroundings, he would never go back? Her chest clenched again, painfully, trying to imagine someone else experiencing what she had when he had died. She wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

She was up on her feet in the next heartbeat, pillow in hand as she made her way back to the living room. He looked so awkward curled up on the couch. It was at least half a foot too long, and his bent knees jutted out almost comically. But she shook her head and instead lobbed the pillow at his.

“Did you leave someone?” Her voice cracked. “Is someone else going to think that your dead now?”
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11-16-2018
08:17 PM
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11-16-2018, 08:17 PM
[In-Character] [Post #20]
Alex startled awake. The blanket had already slipped off of him from the waist down, his neck would probably be incredibly sore come morning. He was cold, uncomfortable. And the sequences that lovely image had shifted into had his heart hammering in his chest. In the end, they had been running – from Sentinels, a whole unit of the SFG, searching for him, coming after him. His hand came up and he rubbed his hand over the now non-existent beard.

Sitting up, he checked the small digital clock in the kitchen. A few minutes he had been out, no more. Probably not even real sleep. Great, he thought. This would be a long, long night. Heaving air into his lungs, he hated the idea of still having those kinds of nights. Plagued by insomnia at times, tortured by nightmares at others. Now that his life was a human was over, he wanted his nights to be restful again. After four years, he was in need of some serious rest.

Maybe it was the medication, he contemplated. Maybe he had never realised just what kind of sideeffects the suppressant came with. And only skipping a single dosage so far, he could not expect those effects to have faded already.

“Shit”, he muttered as he pulled the blanket off of himself and put his feet on the floor. His gaze rose to that door Paige had walked through earlier. He contemplated for a moment. Alex swallowed. What would she do when he stepped through that door? More pillows? Or open arms? His heart ached in his chest and he knew what he wanted.

In front of his inner eyes he saw himself walk up to the door, and then step through it. Alex stood, hesitating. Could he live with a rejection, he wondered? After all this time of dreaming of her, envisioning her next to him would he be able to get back up if the answer would be no? Alex doubted it – and yet, he could not not do it.

A step forward, another. And he stopped. Did she even know? Should he tell her that he had found anyone in this time? Of course there had been the occasional one-night-stand. But never more than that – Alex had not even bothered to ring any of the women. The interest had just never been there, because in the aftermath all of them had paled in comparison to the memory he held of one Paige Guthrie.

“Come on, Alex …” he chided himself wondering when exactly he had become the hesitating kind. Sucking in air through his nose, he forced his bare feet to move. Light, soundless steps had him cross the distance in no time. Before he could change his mind again, he crossed the point of no return. Alex turned the knob and the door opened. He could see her bed in the darkness, across from him underneath a window.

For a moment, he just looked at the form lying there underneath her blanket. Were green eyes looking back at him in the darkness? It took his eyes a moment to adjust until he was sure they were. “Paige …”, he whispered her name as he pushed his large frame through the entrance to her bedroom. With a soft click he shut the door behind him.

What came then, was one long, quick and agile motion. Alex pushed away from the door, pulled the hem of his shirt up and over his head, and was at her bedside in two large strides. He pulled up her cover with his right hand, and slid in left knee first. His cooled down body slipped in next to her warm one and his arms found her. It was so familiar. Like he had never done anything in his life other than hold her. Suddenly, just for a moment, four years felt like nothing.

“Take me back … Paige. I want this … us … back.” Too much? Too son? He wondered. Probably, and yet, he could not help it. Would she forgive him? And would she let him make up to her what he had missed out on last time?

“I want you. And Ben …”, he said, before another sentence chased the words.
“He’s mine, isn’t he … Ben’s my son.” His whisper became voiceless. With the words spoken, and thus the idea made reality, the outline of what she had gone through these past four years became so much darker. She had been pregnant at the time of the explosion.

God … she had been pregnant.
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