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


11-16-2018
09:21 PM
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11-16-2018, 09:21 PM
[In-Character] [Post #21]
The moment the pillow connected, it exploded into a wash of feathers and then Paige startled herself awake. The sensation was similar to when she dreamed about running and tripped, or when she was stepping off of somewhere and mis-stepped. Her mind fooled itself it thinking it was awake enough that it responded to what it thought it saw. Blinking a few times, she realized her bedroom wall stared back at her as it had before she had thought that she had gotten out of bed.

She squinted her eyes in an attempt to make out the time on the little analog clock on the bedside table and huffed in frustration. Frustration that it was only two in the morning and that with the moment she had apparently managed to fall asleep, it hadn’t lasted long enough to get her through the rest of the night. All she wanted was to close her eyes and not wake up until the sun crept into the sky and roused her son from sleep.

When the doorknob to her room turned, she shifted slightly over to make room for Ben to crawl in, until she realized the figure that put itself in her doorway was far larger than the small child she had anticipated.

He stood there for what seemed like the longest moment in her life and then he whispered her name loud enough for her to not miss the sound of it. The door shut behind him, barely audible, and he lingered for little longer than a beat of her quickening pulse. She made a mental note that he at least hadn’t brought a pillow so she was unlikely in for retribution, but then he was moving around towards her. His hands tugged at the hem of his shirt and yanked it off of himself and she swallowed at the sight and his forwardness.

She followed him with her eyes as he moved to the side of her bed and lifted the blankets, allowing a subtle draft of air to move in around her, prickling her skin. Too stunned to move or respond, all she could do was watch him. And then all she could do was feel him as he slid in beside her, to her, drew her against himself. She wanted to shove him back and tell him that he was being selfish, that he wasn’t giving her the opportunity to deal with him just being alive. The protest, though, died long before it ever was fully realized as he settled with her back to his front and her body caged by his arms. It was…comfortable, familiar, she wouldn’t admit that out loud and give him the satisfaction of his presumption.

His declaration brought her up short. Take him back like there had been no time in between. Like she hadn’t cursed his name a thousand times, like she hadn’t craved the sound of his voice just as often. Her mind was still organizing everything that had happened in the last several hours, rationalizing his actions, thinking he had been doing something noble in sparing Gabe. But her emotions kept clamoring to the forefront demanding to know why he hadn’t thought about her in that idiotic split second decision.

Then she exhaled, audibly, when his voice curled around Ben’s name. He wanted him, and she felt the tears she thought had run dry rush right back up to the surface.

His question blindsided her, took her from zero to sixty in half a second. “Yes.” She blurted out before she lost her nerve. Then she turned her face into her pillow to muffle the sloppy sob that shook her through. She had thought she would go the rest of her life with Ben kept to herself, afraid to let him go anywhere without her, without Six because she wouldn’t be able to handle him being taken from her. Taken from her as Alex had been. As she had though he had been.

“Don’t…” she hiccuped. “You can’t…you can’t hurt him.” She stuttered around her thoughts and words as she envisioned the blonde curls, green eyes, and Alex’s stupid facial structure. “You can’t do that to him.” She had no intent with her words to mean him causing the boy physical harm, her angle was emotional. Because she knew the only way that she had decently coped with Alex’s death was feeling Ben move within her and holding him in her arms.
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11-17-2018
09:07 AM
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11-17-2018, 09:07 AM
[In-Character] [Post #22]
To call this surreal was still not quite as unreal as one ought to describe it. Definitely Alice in Wonderland. He had jumped down that rabbit hole, had taken every last potion he had been offered and done all the things that came with this story. He had shed his cover within a second’s notice, had lifted the seal on his powers. Four for years, the real Havok had – for all intents and purposes – truly been dead. Alex Summers had been dead. But he had risen from that grave at the sight of a single person in danger…

Paige.

As he held her, in this dark small bedroom, Alex knew he would do it again. And not once would he think twice. A lump formed in his throat as his heart hammered in his chest with Paige’s back pressed against him. Her warmth, her entire form against his – it sealed the deal. It erased every doubt, every last bit of any question wondering whether he had done the right thing earlier. He had saved her, had made sure Ben’s mother was around to see him grow. Oh Jesus, if he had been too late in that moment …

The silence between them eventually became heavy after his words – his declaration, and his question. Would she take him back? Did he even have a right to ask?

Then a single small word solved the entire puzzle and set his direction, his plan from here on our in stone.
Yes.
“Ooooh …” it simply escaped him as he exhaled and emotion swept him up and along with it. His child. His boytheirs. Again, his breathing wanted to quicken as another wave of emotion was building up. Two in one night, geez – he was racking up a few records tonight, wasn’t he? So as he tried to control himself, his hold on Paige easily loosened when she struggled out of it, to turn her face into her pillow. The sob that tore out of her pushed tears to his eyes. Shaky hands reached for her shoulders – gently, ever so gently.

Her shoulders moved, shrugged him off, not accepting his touch in this moment and Alex accepted, let his hands slide to his lap. When exactly had he sat up on his knees? He was facing her, hovering over her as she ground out the words that obviously caused her more pain yet.

Oh, what had he done? Why had he been such a blind fool back then?
He had had – literally – everything.

Her words, the implication lying within them, could have hurt him. Yet Alex, for once not being the one who always felt like he had received the short end of the stick, simply accepted them. She had every right. She was a mother caring for her young – and he was the figure in all this who had deserted them. Nature forbade her to allow for it to happen again. What was happening here was exactly how it ought to be, he realised. So Alex swallowed against the lump in his throat, as for the second time tonight a tear escaped the corner of her eyes. The way Paige had suffered through his loss, with his child on the way.

Oh god, Ben … all the things he had missed. All those things ..
Alex once more put his arms onto Paige’s shoulders, gently urging her to return to his embrace. He wanted to hold her, comfort her. He closed his eyes, willing the flow of tears to stop and his voice to become steady. The onset of the attack had ebbed off in the dawn of her confession and the words now on the tip of his tongue.

“I’ll never forgive myself … that I wasn’t with you.” Simple, and very hurtful truth. “For four years, I dreamed of you every night. You were the thought on my mind before I went to sleep… if I even could.” Insomnia had been a dutiful recurring friend. “And I was an idiot for still staying away. I was afraid … of this. Of seeing you hurt – of realising that in you I had everything I ever wanted, and I messed it up.” Like he always messed things up.

“I made that choice for Gabriel and Scott” – no matter how stupid one might call that decision, this was the truth: he had made it for them. “But I regretted it for you every single day after that …” Alex sought Paige’s hand, intertwining his fingers with hers and letting his thumb run over the back of her hand. He breathed, trying to steady himself as the emotions leaped high within him, waves crashing and tossing him about. “He’s my boy”, it broke out of him, as he brought up his free hand, covering his eyes for a moment when tears pushed at the threshold once more. “He’s our boy … Oh God. I won’t hurt him.” He shook his head and his fingers took the tears that may have spilled with them as he pulled them away.

Alex knew that what he wanted was not something he could just demand. It was something he needed Paige for – her acceptance, and her help. His blue eyes found her face in the darkness. “Do you think … Can I be his dad?”

Four years ago, the idea of a child might have sent him running for the hills. But in the meantime, Alex had had a rather close relationship with loneliness. What it meant to exist in a world where one had no ties, no real friend, not one bit of family. He had sacrificed it in a split second when the Sentinel had hit – a mutant so desperate to do the right thing for once; when the right thing had been right in front of his nose all along.
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11-18-2018
03:49 PM
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11-18-2018, 03:49 PM
[In-Character] [Post #23]
Hands at her shoulders tried to tug her back and she shrugged him away, she needed the moment. She knew in a split second that she would give him a chance, she couldn’t fight the want to do so, to let him near Ben, to let him near her. He had been the one to stutter out that he hadn’t realized then that she had loved him, but it had taken him being ripped from her life before she had ever given the emotion a name.

She had loved him.

A bruise to her heart, a scar left irrevocably across the surface of it, and gods how she had loathed the choking sensation it had offered her at night when she had had to learn to be alone. When she had had to wake up day after day, reaching to the other side of wherever she had fallen asleep, hoping to feel someone that never materialized. It had been simple at the beginning. He had been single, she had been equally so. It was fun at first, fooling around on whims. She wasn’t sure what had changed it, if it simply evolved, or if the world turning upside down had played its hand, but having to let him go had nearly pushed her over the edge. How many others had they buried over the years.

And then he was gone.

Just like everyone and everything else she had loved.

She had never hated people before, but humans had slowly worked toward achieving such in her eyes. They had taken so much.

And then she had noticed her emotions pitching, the cravings, the fatigue, and it took her too long to accept what else had been left behind in the wake of his absence. She had clung to Ben, even then, before she knew what it was like to feel him move, before she knew what he would be, when he was just a glimmer of the man that had given him to her.

If he hurt him…

She swallowed.

When he reached for her again, she flinched at the contact, but his insistence baited her back towards him. The heat his body offered was a secondary benefit that she was not going to admit to appreciating in the moment. His confession tipped her emotions further and she worked to temper herself into hearing him out in full. She wanted him to just shut up and hold her and let her sleep, but all the effort was to his benefit, hers, theirs, if there was to be a ‘theirs’. It would simmer otherwise, waiting to boil until it overturned. He braided their fingers and she allowed it.

He’s my boy. The sound was near divine, even as he clarified he was theirs. The sound of his voice breaking did something to her, did a lot of things to her. Tickled something smug that he could reduce himself in such a manner, and yet it tugged at the strings about her heart-which she would blame on the hormonal fluxes that accompanied motherhood. She had already once resigned herself to this fate alone. As awful and selfish as she had sometimes thought herself to be in keeping Ben away from everyone.

She had simply wanted something to be as safe as she could control.

And yet, so was so tired.

Tired of being the one to fight, being the one to protect.

The armor of such was heavy to bear.

When he asked if he could be Ben’s dad, she let her eyes slide shut at the thought and the sound of his voice, the pleading. “You have to prove that to him.” And then she set her hand gently against the side of his face. “He has these stupid cheekbones,” She whispered, trailing her thumb across his, “and this stupid chin.” She emphasized by dragging her thumb there then. “But he doesn’t know who you are.” She had only ever told Ben who his ‘daddy’ was, that his ‘daddy’ had been brave, that his ‘daddy’ had done so many things.

She shifted enough to look up at him. “I’m very tired.” Because that was the truth. “Please let me sleep now.” She looked up at him, trying to find the blue in his eyes in the dim light. When he didn’t immediately respond, she wondered if he thought she meant for him to leave. Rather than forcing him to wonder and possibly move to leave her, she turned, taking his hand in hers and lifting it as she put herself once more again him, her back to his chest, and then folded his arm about herself.

“If you teach him how to make things explode, and he sets this apartment on fire, I will kill you.”
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11-18-2018
07:13 PM
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11-18-2018, 07:13 PM
[In-Character] [Post #24]
Alex sat hunched over Paige’s form. His focus was fully on her. She filled his senses – his sight, his hearing, his sense of smell and his tactile sense. Alex gladly let himself slip underneath the surface here, see and hear and feel nothing but Paige. It filled corners and crooks in his bruised heart that he had torn open in four years of spending most of his nights alone. That she was here, that he was here – with her, in her bed no less. It made his head swim.

She spoke, her words a little slurred. She was tired alright; though exhausted would probably be more accurate. And yet, her hand found the side of his face with precision. He treasured the feel of her fingers against his skin as she pointed out that his son had his cheekbones. Then her thumb wandered across his chin as she said that Ben had the same here, too. He slightly leaned his face into her touch. After imagining this, reality felt so much better than he could have ever dreamed up.

“I thought so”, he whispered when she made clear that Ben didn’t know he was his father. Then she moved her head, and in the darkness tired eyes looked up at him. Her voice was hushed, once more laying out for him that she needed to sleep. He nodded, wondering if that meant he ought to move. Alex quickly realised he could not. His body refused to give up the proximity he had gained. He wanted her warmth, her scent, her presence.

Paige was obviously aware of his hesitation. He had the words ‘I’m sorry’ on his lips and tried to urge his limbs to move to give her space. That was when she turned, his arm taken along with her as Paige turned back onto her side. Alex breathed out with relief and slid back in behind her, his bare chest against her back and his large body framing her smaller one, fitting against her so perfectly.

He closed his eyes, draping the covers about both of their forms. Instantly, it was warmer and more comfortable than her couch could have ever been. But really, the warmth and comfortableness came from her. Had he not imagined this very moment with a pained ache of longing deep in his stomach for most of the nights these past years?

Alex closed his eyes, knowing that tonight insomnia would not be able to sink its claws into her. He would sleep soundly. He felt himself relax as her warmth flowed about him in waves. And just as he was ready to let himself drift to sleep, Paige spoke again. It made a grin blossom on his face in the darkness. He pressed a quick but gentle kiss to the top of her head.
“Noted.”
That it wouldn’t be Ben to set the apartment on fire and thus bring the house down only three days later, neither of them could possibly know.

[OOC: Let me know if that last line there, limiting the timeframe, is ok or if I shall remove it.]
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11-22-2018
03:19 PM
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11-22-2018, 03:19 PM
FF to morning after their arrival at the theatre. [In-Character] [Post #25]
Alex pushed his fists into the pockets of the hoodie her was wearing. He was more than appreciative of that cyborg fellow – Jackson? – sharing in his clothes. While the other man was slimmer around the shoulders, the piece of attire still fit Alex and it was quite comfortable on top. Like the rest of the clothes he had been gifted the previous night, they were also freshly laundered. And after a shower earlier, he felt a little bit like a new man.

Or not so much new. His mind snapped back to the conversation he had just had with Paige. It made him frown. Despite last night, eventually he had managed to tap into the things that made her anger bubble to the top. Alex knew that she had to get these things out and that he had no right to complain.

As he made his way towards the kitchen in search of more coffee, the scene played out in front of his inner eye. She had been working herself into a fit bit by bit after Ben had taken off with Tony and Alex to go play.

”You named him after me. Paige, you gave him…”
The pillow had hit him in the side of the head and for a moment he was a bit dazed. “YOU PUT OUR SON IN DANGER!” she threw at him, not accepting that putting the father’s name on the son truly did anything in his favour right now.

“Fuck”, he exclaimed, pulling his head to the side to avoid another blow. He rubbed his ear, looking back at her – seated on the futon that had served as their bed the previous night while she stood in front of him. “There were hornet units. Drones”, he rattled off. “You’ve seen those things right?” They were flying tazers – but the kind of tazer that could land one right on his face from ten feet away. “Those things would have zapped us. And not just me, Ben, too!”

Paige accepted none of it. “You used his powers! And you made him think it was a damned game!”
Alex sucked air in as if to recharge, going another round. Something told him, this argument might just take a while. “And what was I supposed to do? Run screaming? Give him more night terrors?" That had been Alex’s dominant thought in that moment. He had not wanted to scare Ben.

“Oh my god!” Paige looked away for a moment – her expression exasperated and incredulous. No, she did not believe that he was being serious. Alex could see that. He had gotten better at reading her moods than he had ever been before. “Six classified him as an Alpha! And you had him right in front of a Sentinel!”

Alex pressed his lips into a thin line to ensure he kept his composure. “I’m an Alpha. Thank you very much.” One didn’t need to be classified a damned Omega to take down a Sentinel.
“You’re not three”, Paige shot back, pushed both index fingers against either side of her face, massaging her temples for a moment. “Please tell me you destroyed its ability to relay what it saw.” She looked back up at him.

The scene of the previous morning came back to his mind, when Ben’s eyes had lit up like two tiny lights. He had smiled and exclaimed Light go boom! Alex had felt such incredible pride at the little boy then. Couldn’t Paige see that their son – powers half way manifested at the age of three – would be one hell of a fighter one day?
“He did it. I put the energy where it ought to go – he sent it flying.”

Her motions came so fast that he did not duck in time. Three times the pillow hit home before he threw himself back. “Jesus”, he exclaimed, slowly running out of patience a bit. She could scream until the darned cows came home but he didn’t like it when she kept pummelling him with damned pillows.

Though, better pillows than her hand coated in concrete or diamond or whatever.
“Can you please stop?” Alex asked, his gaze slightly darker as he propped himself up on his elbows and stared up at him. “And no, I’m not three … but, Paige, trust the kid. He’s the size of a pint and he’s got more control over energy than I could ever dream of.”

Again, his words appeared to be reaching ears that were preoccupied. Paige wasn’t listening to him as she threw up both hands that came to rest on the top of her head. “Oh my god, they’re going to look for you, for him.”
“They’re going to be looking for me anyway”, he said – but as the words were out, he was somewhat glad that she seemed to not have taken note.

“What am I supposed to do when you’re both gone?” Her gaze turned from angry to troubled in an instant and the expression yanked all of his heartstrings rather painfully. “He’s all that I had left of you.”
Alex swallowed, pushing his budding annoyance over her pillow-pummelling him to the back and sat back up, crosslegged this time.

“It was a 2022 Sentinel model. The one’s still equipped with Scott’s optic blast.” He lifted an arm, pointing to the right side of his forehead. “They have the memory back here.” Then he moved his finger to just below his left eye. “And the wireless transmitter is directly below the optical unit.” Paige was following him closely, and he held her gaze to stop her from interrupting. “I drew the line”, he said, drawing with his index finger diagonally across his face and this connecting the two points. “And Ben shattered it. That thing went down.” Then a smile slipped onto his face, and he could not hide that sense of pride the memory sparked. “My boy took out a fucking Sentinel!”

Paige glared at him for a moment as if to say that such a thing was certainly nothing to be proud of. But something in his expression seemed to tell her otherwise and she relented. The indignation faded and a small smile that matched his took its place. Alex reached for her hands, his thumbs rubbing the backs of them. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“You said that before!” Her tone had decreased to a softer cadence. She pushed out her last exasperantion.
“I was an idiot then”, he offered, knowing he had taken her for granted right until the moment he had found himself giving her up.
Paige shook her head. “I can’t … you can’t …”, she kept searching for words. Then her eyes found his as she slightly adjust course. “You need to explain to him that it’s not a game.” Some of her fight went out of her, and she sank to the floor, sitting on her heels in front of Alex. “I can’t …”, her voice lost more volume. The words were hard to get out. She kept her eyes on his face, as if to make sure he understood her very clearly. “I can’t …lose him. …or you. I can’t do it again.”

And if he had any say in it, she would not ever have to do it again. Alex felt that feeling in his chest that was connected to her grow – as it had been ever since that day he had set foot back into her life. Where she had been a dream before – possibly a memory – she had suddenly become reality and nothing managed to keep what he felt down anymore.

“Alright”, he said. There was nothing to argue about here. "We'll explain it to him... No games. I didn't mean to put him in danger. I just wanted him to not be afraid." He slowed himself down. He needed to be more rational about these things next time. He may have chosen a way that succeeded – but he would have to get better at visualising possible repercussions, especially when Ben was involved.

Alex moved forward a little bit, inching closer to Paige. “You won’t lose him. I’ll do anything.” It was a promise. As he continued, his voice got softer as he wondered whether saying what was on his mind was appropriate right now. “Or me …” Did she want to hear this now? Would she be able to believe it? “I want to stay… with you. I know I can't ask for you to trust me, but I want this. You, Ben. What can I do?"

Paige held his gaze and thought on his words for a moment. Then she tipped her head to the side a little, her eyes on both of their hands. “Imagine me leaving this room, going outside, and someone taking me or shooting me point blank.” Alex could not help the somewhat sharper breath this made him take. “I don’t want to imagine that”, he said but he nodded, he was following along.

“Imagine me being dead, Alex.” She continued. Then her eyes were back on him. “Because I wanted you, and you let yourself die." There was accusation in her eyes as her words brought her back to her version of the past four years. Then that expression softened. “Earn your son's trust. Earn his love, his loyalty, his heart. And then you'll have mine."

Alex pulled one of her hands up to his lips and pressed it against his lips for a moment. It was a kiss, but more so a way to find means for a touch gentle enough to convey what was on his mind. Then he spoke. “For four years, you were what got me through the nights ...”, he told her keeping the memory of those nights at bay.

“And I know that's unfair,” he went on, “because I knew you were out there ... and I took that from you. I had four years to realise what I had ... what I gave up.” Now his eyes were on their hands, and then it was his turn to drag them back up and look into her face again. “If anything happened to you... to Ben ..." He shook his head. He could not go there.

"I know I can't just come back and tell you what I want and what I feel and just expect you to forgive me ...”, Alex added. “I won’t ask you to pick up where we left off." Because that was not what he wanted; not what he felt was right. “I want to do it right this time. Do right by you ..."

Paige looked at him for the longest time, until a gleam returned to her eyes and before he knew it, she was giggling, on her feet and taunting him with the pillow.

“Come on”, he pushed out, unable to stop his own laughter to bubble up. “I asked you to stop it …”
“Make me”, she teased, dancing in front of him, obviously ready to let the pillow sail down on him any moment.
Alex laughed, and was on his feet instantly, closing the gap between them both of them. One had each, he took her by the wrists and pushed them behind her back. “I’ll even say please”, he added. Alex noticed pretty quickly that something about the way they stood there stirred something inside of him, so he loosened his hold on her was about to step back and Paige spoke up.

The laughter had ebbed off. The smile was … reminiscent.
"You think this hurts?” she asked him, and Alex’s expression somewhat sobered as well. “Trying feeling it inside of yourself”, she continued and set her hand in the middle of his chest. "Right here, every day."

Alex just gazed down at her. "I don't know how to imagine that”, he admitted. “When I try to put myself into your shoes ... I don't sleep. It's hard to breathe..." Alex was working hard to understand it – to follow as much as he could to where she had been.

"Then you have a sliver of understanding of what it's been like." Paige’s tone was once more quiet.
Alex could not help the sensation of tightness in his chest. It always happened when she gave him these bits and pieces – when she put these things into words and images that he could understand. "You were what kept me going ...” he said, remembering his time living on the baseline. “I can't imagine a world where you dont exist. The idea to bury you ..."


He had pulled her towards him after that. Her slender form pressed against him, he had lifted her just a foot off the ground and into his embrace.

After that he had grabbed their cups and made his way to the kitchen. More coffee – and time to cool down a little. Having her that close to him was beginning to do things. And while, Alex certainly had himself under control, he did not want to push it. So here he was, heading into the kitchen. Alex felt a bit of relief when the room turned out to be empty. No Caitlin, no Gabriel. No need for him to either tread in careful silence, duck energy balls or something of the sort.

Just in the process of filling up the two mugs he had brought down, Alex suddenly found himself accompanied by Ben’s and Tony’s smaller forms – in this moment, the two looked like Alex was sure Gabe and him would have looked like that age. He swallowed at this, blinked and made himself see the boys as individuals rather than smaller versions of what effectively were estranged brothers.

“What’s up, guys?”
Ben only shook his head, putting a finger onto his lips. “Sssh.”
Alex left the mugs and set the pot of coffee back into the machine. “You have a secret?”
Ben leaned against Alex, automatically shifting into half an embrace. Alex’s heart skipped a beat. “Tony says, it’s a secret.”
Alex looked up at the other boy.
Tony nodded and grinned. “Mommy and daddy wanted to keep it a secret.” He said, his voice taking on a conspiring tone. “Uncle Scott!”
Alex thought his hearing was acting up. “Excuse me?”
“Uncle Scott”, Ben repeated.
His eyes shifted back and forth between the two boys, and he waited for one or both of them to break into laughter. But nothing happened. They just continued to look at him, waiting for him to act on their secret.

Alex had all but forgotten about the coffee. His throat had gone dry but to drink something could not have been further from his mind. “Is it a really really secretive secret or can I see Uncle Scott?” Alex’s heart was hammering in his chest and he worked hard to keep his expression according to what he thought was appropriate for two kids this age. He doubted that he could fool Tony, but for now the kid let him be.
Ben and Tony looked at one another, then both shrugged.
“I think he can see.” Tony said.
“I think he can see, too” Ben echoed him.
Alex nodded and then walked after the both of them as they dashed off.

Eventually, he had to drop into a light jog to keep up with the boys. They took him into an area of the theatre completely out of the way from where Alex and Paige – and some others – were set up with rooms. Alex did not like what kind of feelings any of this was giving him. When the two boys finally slowed down, Ben gazing at his older cousin with big eyes, Alex stepped closer to them, ruffling Ben’s hair. “So where to now?”
Tony pointed at a closed door. “That’s where Uncle Scott is”, he murmured taking a step back.

Alex looked at the door that really looked like most other doors in this place. A glance down the hall and to his back, even this floor was non-descript. No guards, no nothing. Alex huffed. As if there would be guards here. His gaze went up to the corners, no cameras either. Jax did not see the need to monitor this place.

Nothing out of the ordinary. Alex tried to shrug it off. The kids were playing a trick on him. There was so one here. And yet, he could not do anything against his heartbeat picking up considerable pace. Alex stepped forward, took hold of the doorknob and gave it a good turn. The button popped. Someone had locked it, from the outside.

Alex pushed the door open, and the light from the hallway created a triangle on the room’s floor. The shutters were closed in there, and at first he couldn’t see who the form on the other side of the room, lying still on a futon much like he and Paige had slept on, was.
“Look!” Tony whispered in that loud kind of whisper only kids could do from beside him.
Alex almost jumped.

This was the moment when the form on the other side of the room stirred and then turned around, facing them.

Alex’s brain took forever to compute as he stood in the open door and stared at his older brother. His hair was not all dark anymore. First silver in his hair. He had aged … Alex doubted naturally. The lines around his eyes were bathed in deep shadows. His beard was in need of a trim.

Gripping both, the door’s knob with one hand and the frame on his right side with the other, he just stared.

“He sleeps a lot”, Tony whispered. “Daddy is sad.”
It was his nephew’s voice that brought Alex back to reality, forcing his world to once more begin to turn on its axis. He couldn’t help feeling like he was suddenly sleep-walking.

With cautious motions, Alex closed the door. His eyes met two pairs of the small boys, looking expectantly at him.
“That’s quite a secret”, Alex heard himself say. Ben nodded, hyped that Alex thought so, too. Tony looked suspicious. His mother’s son, Alex reminded himself. The boy was empathic. He didn’t buy it. Alex was sure that his face was ashen, his eyes wide. But he remembered Paige’s words. Ben cannot see this. Something like that. He could not spook his son. “How about you leave … him to sleep… and go back to playing? I hear Tony has quite the collection of planes.”

Ben nodded enthusiastically and was already done with this secret. The boys were back to chatting away, and took off down the hall. Alex followed. His steps were always an inch away from faltering. The image was burned into his mind – his older brother lying there on that cot. He could barely see past it as he blindly tried to find his way back to the room he had stepped out of earlier.

It seemed to take forever until Alex finally stepped back into the room where Paige and he had had their little shouting match before. “Paige …”, he called her name, expecting to run right into her. But there was no one here. Alex felt himself tip sideways onto one leg. “Not again,” he growled as a familiar feeling swept up against his leg, its momentum gaining. He seriously questioned the decision to come to the theatre by now. He had never had two attacks back to back like this before.

But it did not quite feel just like that. The tightness in his chest wasn’t there – even if his head swam and he felt unable to really stand on his own two legs.

He shut his eyes, forcing himself to breathe steadily, remembering Paige’s face in front of his the previous night. And he breathed, once more, like she had done.

However, none of the breathing, none of the pulling it the fuck together helped to answer the question that continued to spin and spin in his mind.

Why was Scott here? And how … how was any of what had just happened in the past thirty minutes even possible.
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11-22-2018
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11-22-2018, 05:49 PM
[In-Character] [Post #26]
Alex needed to have a say, that was meant to happen when she was allowing him to slip into their lives. It was his right, in a way, to influence his son’s life. As angry as she could be at him, as hurt as she still was even in the wake of relief, what she felt should have nothing to do with what happened between Alex and Ben. Habit, though, was a difficult matter to break. She had spent every moment of Ben’s life caring for him on her own without any other influence besides that on a robotic suit that oddly seemed to display emotional qualities at times.

Alex was alive, and Alex was her son’s father. He hadn’t known he was leaving him behind before his stupid death scheme. She hadn’t even known. It was difficult to fault him for leaving Ben, but it was easy to fault him for leaving her. Still, that shouldn’t affect his relationship with Ben. He was going to have moments where he wanted Ben to fight, where he wanted Ben to practice his budding abilities, there were going to be moments when Alex was going to need to reprimand Ben. And she had to allow it.

She backed to the wall and leaned against it, his absence taking with it the physical support he was always willing to offer her. He said he wanted to be there, wanted to be with him, and it warmed her through, until her rational mind reminded her it had barely been a week.

She looked to the little table she had set her coffee cup down on and realized he had taken it when he had left. Probably to be courteous. Her mind snapped at her threatening irritation. She had become accustomed to lukewarm coffee and tea, a necessary adaptation with a small child. How many times had she made one or the other in the middle of the night to try to keep herself alert while she had nursed him, only to reach for it once he was settled or asleep and find it cold? Near every time. It was almost better if it was cold rather than room temperature.

Glancing down at herself, she decided a long tee and underwear were fine enough for the confines of her-their-room, but she doubted Megan or Gabe wanted to see her traipsing around in smalls. Rifling through the bag she had managed to salvage, she found in their haste, she had not taken a single pair of sweatpants or sleep pants and instead was left with a choosing between black leggings or blue. Tugging a pair on without discerning the exact color she hopped on one foot towards the door, shimmied herself into them, and then left the room.

Finding the kitchen was easy, she had been there so many times over the years that the path there was likely worn with her own footprints. The only figure within it, though, was a yawning Megan who ran a hand through her think pink hair.

“I have no desire to be angry or to fight.” Megan offered and shook her head. “I think I get it and I’m okay with it. I’m just glad that you’re here now.”

Paige smiled and noted the pair of coffee cups on the counter, steam wafting upward. She frowned when a different thought wiggled into her consideration. “Where’s Victor?” She hadn’t seen him in…weeks. Which was exceedingly odd.

“Ugh.” Megan groaned. “Don’t worry about him, and I will tell you from personal experience, don’t go looking for him, either.”

That seriously tickled her curiosity, but she let it be for the moment. She didn’t need to set onto tracking down more people. “Okay, have you seen-”

“Alex Summers?” Megan brightened. “It’s so weird saying that name again, seeing those blues again.” The younger woman sighed a little too dreamily. “I sort of saw him talking to Tony and Ben.” Megan trailed off like she was letting something run away wither in her mind that only she could perceive.

“Megan.”

“Oh sorry.” She snapped back to attention. “Have you ever just…watched him walk?”

It was only a little awkward to watch the younger basically swoon. Then Paige shrugged, let her have her crush. “I’m going to find the boys, then.” She chuckled as she moved towards one of the other doorways that led out of the kitchen.

She found them easily enough in the twin’s room, blocks scattered, those medium sized legos compiled into some sort of castle. They turned about the room, each with a plane in one hand, and a helicopter in the other, pew pew noises abound.

“Hi Paige.” Tony managed between sound effects.

“Hey, buddy, have either of you seen-”

“Uncle Alex went to see Uncle Scott.”

And then Paige straightened. “Excuse me?”

“He went to see Uncle Scott.” Ben echoed.

“And how long has your Uncle Scott been here?”

Tony shrugged as he swooped his plane closer to Ben’s sending the younger boy into a quick fit of giggles. “A few days. My mom found him.”

Scott. Scott. She blinked, hard. “Your Uncle Scott?”

“Yeah.” Tony nodded and then lifted one hand to his temple. “You know, pew pew.”

Scott Summers was there.

“He’s really tired.” Tony said. “And he doesn’t know where he is so he gets really strange.”

What did that mean?

“Okay boys, thank you.”

“My dad went back to your room.” Ben stated without missing a beat as he zoomed his plane back towards Tony’s beam shooting hand. “He wooked kinda funny.”

What the actual fuck. ‘Uncle Scott’ and ‘my dad’ in one conversation. A strange exasperated whimper-y sound bubbled up from her throat as she backed out of the room. If Scott was truly there, and Alex had actually seen him… She made herself move. She made quick, albeit quiet, work of bridging the distance between the twins’ room and the one allotted to them and found Alex near wobbling on his feet with ever hesitated step he took, as though he were trying to decide if he needed to stay or leave.

“Sit down.” She said quickly. “I don’t have time to shift just to catch you and keep you on your feet.” Her steps took her directly before him and her hands lifted to frame either side of his neck. He locked onto her instantly and his hands wrapped about her wrists. She had hoped he would move to the edge of the bed or the lone chair in the room, but he simply went down, shakily composed, to his knees first. “All the way.” She coaxed and he nodded his agreement.

He sat with his knees bent and she moved to position herself to mirror him, setting a foot on either side of his hips while she kept her hands on him. She leaned forward enough to touch her brows to his cheekbone and gently circled her thumbs against his skin. “It’s okay.” She soothed. He at least wasn’t quite as diaphoretic as he had been in any previous incident. “Did you see him?” Scott. His brother. Oh. Gabe had left the room the night prior with no fight whatsoever.

A few days. Tony had claimed was how long Scott had been there. Gabriel was not one to hide his disappointment or frustration. She thought his simple bowing out had merely been the presence of three children in one room. Alex needed to talk to Gabe.

“Ben told me ‘his dad’ had gone back to the room.” She tried.
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11-22-2018
10:37 PM
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11-22-2018, 10:37 PM
[In-Character] [Post #27]
Relief flooded through him when the familiar presence appeared behind him. And yet, the emotion could not counteract what he was feeling. Why was he having another attack? Four in less than a week? What the hell was going on? During the past years, he would have no more than one in a month – less even. And when he got one, he would suffer it at night, alone in his bedroom. Not in a room full of people. Or … in front of two small children, one his son, the other his nephew.

He had given up his life as a baseline. His powers were back and very much functional. He had found his way back to Paige and with her to his son. And maybe he would even try making it up to his younger brother – if the stubborn idiot would let him. Yet, he was shaking in his boots or so it seemed.

Four times within less than a week.

Sit down, Paige said, and Alex gave a small nod as he still held himself in what looked like mid-motion. She continued, and Alex wanted to tell her that he preferred the way down anyway. He doubted he would be able to stand right now. His knees felt like they were non-existent. She made him look at her as her hands brought his face up. His gaze found hers and he knew that she could see exactly how freaked out the situation had him. He hated this – he hated being so weak, so useless. He brought his hands up and once more let them wrap around Paige’s wrists.

The connection to her established, he let himself go down. Paige’s gaze was fast on him, and she lowered herself along with him.

All the way, her words reached him above the strange noise ringing in his ears – like water rushing through a tunnel. Her voice was gentle so Alex simply nodded and went further down. Did she even know that this tone on her lips would coax him into doing pretty much anything?

With no longer being taxed by having to maintain his own position, Alex felt energy freed up to notice more than just his own fading control and the face of the woman right in front of him. She had come down with him, mirroring his sitting position. Her hands were on him and they were the only thing warm on, of or against him right now. Alex just closed his eyes, hyperaware of her and only her. Everything else was unimportant for the moment. Paige was his anchor, he needed no more.

“Ben didn’t see…” He ground out, putting effort into getting his breathing under control, once more taking a cue from Paige. He really needed to talk to her about these attacks. If they kept increasing at this rate, he would soon be useless … possibly a danger to Ben and her.

Her words were soothing him, pulling him down and away from the effects of this wave.
“Did you see him?”
“Yeah”, he pressed out, and did not even try to hide how much that sight had affected him.

“Ben told me ‘his dad’ had gone back to the room.”
Alex exhaled – no actually it was the attempt of a small chuckle. His hands found her face, one of them clammy, the other still at 82% of its maximum performance level and ever at the same temperature. Not that his cybernetic arm felt like anything other than a real human limb. He gently nudged her back just a little so he could look at her. When their eyes locked, he had a small and proud smile lighting up the colour of his eyes.

“His dad…”, he repeated, momentarily letting his eyes slide shut. He couldn’t wait for the moment when Ben would first just address him as daddy. Alex tried to hold on to that thought, but the image of Scott pushed back into his mind. “Tony said Scott sleeps all the time. That Gabriel’s sad … Something’s wrong with him.” His hands sank into his lap, and he wanted to move closer to Paige but couldn’t move. He wondered where the futon was in the room. The exhaustion ever in the wake of an attack was sinking its claws into him.

And yet, there was something else gnawing at him. “Four years and nothing, when I tried to find him.” His tone dropped half an octave as disappointment was thick in his voice – and he knew that the wave had not yet fully ebbed off. Was this the root of this one? His own disappointment? He had stepped out of Paige’s life for his brothers – only to find out that it had all been no more than big stupid idea.

“It was really all for nothing…”

Alex Summers still possessed a single ability that he did with more fervour and passion than anyone else – make himself the black sheep of the family.
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11-23-2018
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11-23-2018, 07:03 AM
[In-Character] [Post #28]
There was an urge to shush him when he insisted that Ben hadn’t seem him start to lose himself. He wooked kinda funny. Still hummed about in her head, having been immediately preceded by a statement involving ‘my dad’ as well as the fact that Ben had felt compelled enough to incorporate the identifier when addressing her about it at all. Ben had yet to address or reference Alex as ‘Alex’, which she had questioned, until Alex had pointed out to her that she had not even used his name until they had been crammed into that little closet the night prior. Just like they were in that moment, smooshed together with Alex literally on the verge of collapse.

She absentmindedly smoothed circles into his neck wither thumbs, much as she had before, and she wondered in that moment if she would have been this comforting years ago. Had she always been this way? Or had having Ben made her softer, more in tune with another person? She had always, she thought, been a kind person, but she had never noticed if she had been a comforting person. His voice prompted her back to him and she nodded. He had seen him. She had assumed as much. She had assumed that was what had made him wook kinda funny. Words might have stirred something, but not enough to drive him back into their dim lit room, surely.

The smile, regardless of size and depth, that tugged at his features in regard to Ben encouraged her own lips to seek mirroring.

And then he shifted, the more immediate issue pressing back to the forefront. The boys had relayed a similar claim. “Tony told me that he doesn’t know where he is, ‘and gets really strange’.” His hands fell away form her, dropping to his lap as though he could no longer manage to keep them where they were about her wrists. She wanted to follow them with her own, pick them back up again and put them back on her in some way to ground them both. Instead, she curled her ankles behind him and used that point of contact to draw herself all the closer to him. Her elbows bent between them and her own hands dipped down to set against his collarbone.

“Stop.” She immediately cut his line of thinking off. He was going to start inciting that he had been stupid and foolish. Qualities she would otherwise agree with, but her assessment did not need to be heaped on him in the moment. “There’s no undoing what is done, there is only forward.” She repeated herself. There was no use rehashing and regretting everything that had happened. There was no benefit to him going back over and over when there was no way to change what had happened.

“When you…left,” she had difficulty being mean enough to him to even dress it up as death, “their trackers and hunters came less often.” Because what did they need him for. No point getting their asses handed to them on repeat when one key member of the trio that they wanted was suddenly inaccessible. “That was when he moved everyone out of Brooklyn and gave them even less to chase.” Having had to move Caitlin had been his main goal, and in one of Wanda’s bouts of clarity, she had managed to cover most of the transition. There was a lot that woman was capable of, she was sure, if only someone could put her head back on right. She had been is different duck when Pietro had been alive.

“You absence relieved the relentless focus on Gabe and gave him a chance to breathe and shift gears.” Almost thankfully. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they would love to get their paws on him, but without you,” she looked up at him again, “hard to have a mariachi band when the trumpeter is missing.” And Alex was definitely the trumpet player in the equation, loud and centering.

She sighed. “You can’t keep doing this to yourself.” Her hands pressed against him and then up over his trapezius muscles. “You’ve got one brother in the basement, and another up on the roof, though I would give Gabe a few minutes if Caitlin went up after him.” Those two were rabbits, even still. “But they’re both here, and you need each other. The humans have wanted the three of you because of what you’re capable of, because they’re afraid of it, because it’s a strength and benefit.” She didn’t need to elaborate how the three of them together were often annoying to boot.

“Stop living back there and be here. Ben is here. I’m here. ”
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11-23-2018
08:35 AM
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11-23-2018, 08:35 AM
[In-Character] [Post #29]
"Tony told me that he doesn’t know where he is, ‘and gets really strange’."

None of it wanted to make sense in his head. Alex did not know how to piece the story together. Parts of it were missing, and right now he could not imagine asking the people for them who had to know. Caitlin, Gabriel. Alex didn’t understand. Why had no one said a word? Not Caitlin in the park, not Gabriel the previous night. Should he not have known? Scott was his brother, too? Why would anyone allow for him to just stumble upon it like this?

Over and over, those few seconds of seeing Scott in that room and recognising that form that looked so beaten, so bruised, so broken played back in his head. Alex could not stop it. His mind insisted that he ought to have known. Why had they not told him? Why had not someone found a way to … The spiral tipped in his mind, chipped and discontinuous. Something darker opened up. It was a sense of bitterness – and old friend he loathed with every fibre of his being – that swept through him.

His own fault. He wasn’t worth it. Why would anyone give him the light of day … Screw-up.
Old old whispers suddenly reached out, brushing rotting and festering fingertips against him. Alex shivered.

Alex didn’t move at first when Paige pulled herself closer. He was so preoccupied with this old habit of his reawakening from the pit of his stomach that for a moment he could not even appreciate the intimacy with which she was breaching almost any kind of distance between them. Her touch against his collarbone made him look up – and he was not aware of how beaten and bruised and broken he looked in this moment. Such reminiscence to the image of his older brother spinning in his mind.

“Stop.”

Somehow the word cut through the fog. Just enough to let her in. Alex’s deepened his breathing, trying to suck more air into his lungs. And his eyes fastened on Paige’s face all over again. He tried to focus, tried to accept that somehow her action stood directly against the thoughts pushing into his conscious mind now. If he were that kind of screw-up, then she would not bother, would she?

“There’s no undoing what is done, there is only forward.” He swallowed against a lump in his throat and nodded as she repeated the words from the previous night. Alex realised that once more she sat here, willingly letting herself be his anchor. How could he be a screw-up when a woman like her let him lean on her like this?

“When you…left, their trackers and hunters came less often. That was when he moved everyone out of Brooklyn and gave them even less to chase. You absence relieved the relentless focus on Gabe and gave him a chance to breathe and shift gears. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure they would love to get their paws on him, but without you, hard to have a mariachi band when the trumpeter is missing.”

“The trumpeter?” Alex asked, and he could feel that his reaction, his will to be in this moment with her was like light cast into the shadow in his mind. It burst some of the darkness, dispersed some of the fog. “Is that what I am?” It was hard pushing further out into the real world instead of holing himself up in his mind underneath all that self-berating, those aweful things he was saying to himself about himself.

“You can’t keep doing this to yourself.” Alex felt her hands slip over his shoulders and to his upper back. The effect of her motions further to him, and around him, was almost unexpected. Again, he noted, that he could have just stayed here for the rest of his life. When had she become a constant in his life – and why had he taken so long to notice it?

“You’ve got one brother in the basement, and another up on the roof, though I would give Gabe a few minutes if Caitlin went up after him. But they’re both here, and you need each other. The humans have wanted the three of you because of what you’re capable of, because they’re afraid of it, because it’s a strength and benefit. … Stop living back there and be here. Ben is here. I’m here. ”

Alex just stared at her, out of eyes darkened by a sensation that was a terrible mixture of self-loathing, despair and inability to understand. “I don’t know how to talk to Gabriel …”, he admitted, warring against the feeling of inadequacy that spiked in that moment. There was so much currently blocking the way between the two man, and the one guy who could fix it was … not right in his mind. “And I don’t know how to accept that … it was really wasted.” Alex closed his mouth, pressing his lips together into a thin line, drawing his brows down as the moisture pressed into the corner of his eyes. He shook his head, knowing he was going directly against what she had just told him. And yet, it had to come out. He couldn’t just accept that there had been any use to his decision. Not when Caitlin and Gabriel had had him here how long? When she had apparently managed to get him after he worked on it for four years. Not at the expense of Paige …

“It was really a mistake … I could have sacrificed that arm, and I could have come back. It would have done the same thing.” He pushed his eyes closed as pain washed over his facial features. The tears were coming. He wanted to frown at it. He hated crying. But they were coming now. The attack earlier had torn him open, and her words had touched upon a very sore topic. And now … now it was time to reap the fruits of that.

“There was absolutely no need to leave you … There was no fucking point.” He choked on the last two words as a tear escaped the corner of his left eye. “I could have been there. When you had Ben … when you held him for the first time. When he said his first words, took his first step. I could have been there.” Alex shook his head. “It was one four year-long big, fucking stupid mistake.” His gaze was off to her left side as his eyes stared into the past. Then he once more shut his eyes as more tears escaped him.

Alex’s hands slipped to her sides and he pulled her up and onto his lap. Crossing his legs, he positioned her flush against him and let his arms snake around her. He buried his face against the side of her neck. Alex wanted to do as Paige had said and paint it all in brighter colours, and he knew eventually he would – but right now, he had too much to process. There was his angry kid brother, his broken older brother, a quarter of a dozen kids he was suddenly related to, and the revelation that what a small voice had whispered to him for all this time – You’re kidding yourself. You did not need to leave. – was actually the harsh and hurting truth.

“Right now, I just don’t know how to do this.” He spoke against the side of her neck. “I’m a fucking mess …”
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11-23-2018
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11-23-2018, 03:07 PM
[In-Character] [Post #30]
The motion was simple when he pulled her up against himself, one arm around his shoulder, one up along the back of his neck and her fingers into his short hair. It set something at ease within her, the proximity so oddly still familiar. The heat of his body against her own, his heart hammering a bruise against the backside of his ribs sending ripples through her own. “Scott can’t fix this.” She murmured against his skin. “You’re the oldest right now.”

When he started to spiral further into the loathing that accompanied having left, when he babbled on about how it was useless, it had proven, there was warmth and wetness where he pressed his face and she tried to shush it away, and he nearly choked on his own words. It hurt something deep inside of her that rivaled the anger she had felt those first few days, to see him so reduced. “There are still so many firsts.” She sighed and rolled her eyes, even though he couldn’t see it with her being pressed so close to him. “You helped him destroy his first Sentinel.” She bit her lip. “He’ll lose his first tooth, break his first bone.” She nuzzled against the side of his neck. “Tell you that he loves you for the first time.”

She had dealt with him upset, she had been around him when he had raged, when his powers had all but peeled subconsciously away from him the way she would tug at layers of her own skin. How many times had she ever yelled back, got up in his face and told him to buckle himself the fuck up. But this, this was all the same rage and anger and pain, all of it, broken down into something so much deeper and darker that she wondered how he ever got his head above the surface on his own.

“He’s already falling in love with you.” Rather than the ghost of the past that Ben had always clung to, always asked for stories about, he had the man firsthand. “There’s still so much.” So much that he would miss out on if he locked himself away with this awful self-deprecation that he allowed to tie him up around the throat like a noose. “The first time he’ll come to you rather than me because he’s scared, or happy, or proud of himself.”

She turned her face enough to gently breathe in, drawing the scent of him into her lungs and it still cut through her. It woke up the still slumbering part of her that had held on so tightly, that had once finally clouded out the girl that wanted something easy, that wanted more. The part of her that was still so afraid to come forward fully and accept that he was real. He was so upset that he hadn’t been there when Ben had been born, and yet she had nearly fabricated his presence from her memories, had all but willed him into existence.

“Gabe needs you to be his brother.” Scott was in no condition to be an older brother, no condition to be helpful in the slightest. “He’s been here with Scott the past few days probably trying everything in his power to get through to him.” So close, yet so very far away.

She sat up straighter and took his face in her hands. “You’re still so needed, that you can’t sit here in the dark. Gabe. Ben.” Her hand sought his wrist, she didn’t care if it was real or bionic, and she pressed it to the center of her chest. “As angry as you might feel, as angry as I might feel, I still need you, Alex.”
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