Pam, mentioned in passing here, is a character
that Persephone came up with a while ago. She has a whole history
that, unfortunately, Peek hasn't posted yet.
It didn't go the way they'd hoped it would.
In the first place, it looked like Alex was missing a leg, and an
eye. The stump where his right knee should have been was green. A
little green couldn't be a good thing; Nate muttered, 'oh flonq' and
frowned so much that his eyebrows met.
The two of them were holed up in a dank cellar, with supporting roof
beams of ice and nothing to eat. They were both dirty and smelled
like mothballs, like wet dirt. Alex, in particular, stank; Nate thought
it was that limb, a cloying rancid meat smell. Then again, it might
have been the pile of stale newspapers in the corner, the mold thick
and strangely fresh. Nate sneezed, and wrinkled his nose.
The first thing that Bobby said was, "You're not real, you can't
The first thing that Alex said was, "You'd better stay back; he's
not doing so well today. He said that there were flowers everywhere
right before you showed up."
They approached quietly, Nur with his hood draped over his face and
holding a corner of it to his nose delicately. The wool still had
the faint tinge of sheep, of pasturing and the strong odor of animal
paddocks. He could remember that from his youth -- not sheep, but
that grazing animal oily stench.
It was preferable to the rot in front of them.
Nate started out quiet, low, asking if they could help them both
and take them to a better place where there were no shifts, where
they could eat and clean up and not have to be afraid. Bobby wouldn't
hear of it -- Domino saw him stick his nose up in the air, and then
he said, "I smell flowers."
Nate took the opportunity to move closer, too quickly, too close
to Alex. He raced over, and Alex was hardly a match for the teke--
he fell over into a pile of garbage on the floor, unconscious. Nate
almost gagged as he picked Alex up, and winced when he realized how
young he looked.
Bobby whirled up, clutched his fist wildly. "Leave him alone! Don't
touch him or you'll freeze where you stand!"
His hands came up, and his breath was sour, rank. Domino clutched
her chest, gasping as the air in her lungs dropped to freezing-- this
Bobby didn't fuck around, she thought. Nate did the same, dropping
Havok's limp body and crumpling to the ground.
Nur stepped forward, unaffected, holding his hood over mouth and
nose like a veil, a curtain of perfume and clean to protect from the
mushroom smell of decay. "Bobby. Is that your name? Bobby." His voice
was soothing, and Bobby whipped his head around. "Bobby, be still.
Calm yourself. Fight it."
Domino gasped, where she lay with her head pressed against the stale
earthen floor. She choked out, "Keep it up, Nur. I can breathe again."
Bobby looked back at Nate, sprawled beside Alex's unmoving form,
and his face was fearful. "Alex! Alex, can you hear me?"
Nur continued inching forward, getting closer and closer to Bobby.
"He will be all right, Bobby. We want to help. We want to stop him
from being sick."
"Alex -- isn't sick. He, he'll be fine. I."
Nur was about two feet from him when Bobby raised a fist in a warning.
Nate croaked out, "Nur, be careful. He can hurt you just as well
as us, even if he can't kill you."
Without breaking eye contact, Nur answered, "It will be all right,
Nathan. We want to help you both, Bobby." Softly, he continued, "Do
you not want to feel well again? Whole?"
Bobby's voice was cracked, and he whispered, "Well?..."
Nur bridged the gap between them as Bobby fell to his knees; face
one of heartbreak, hands coming up to cover his face. Nur mumbled,
"You will be well."
And hit Bobby over the head. He fell into the pile of rotting papers,
getting fetidness and sour stagnant water in his hair and all over
his face. Nur knelt down beside him, and took a small breath.
Domino and Nate both flipped over on their backs, gasping desperately
and staring up at the ceiling -- made of ancient rotting planking.
"Jesus, Nur!" Domino said. "That was close."
Nur said absently, "Yes." He looked down at Bobby, unconscious on
the ground. "What a poor man."
Nate replied, "Let's take them back to the Oasis before either of
them wake up."
Nur mumbled softly, "So they can be well." The air outside was fresh
and Nur inhaled, a remnant of something whole and unbroken in the
smell of fresh-cut flowers, sweetly perfuming a world now dead and
ripe with mold.
They got to the Oasis without too much mishap; Domino almost fell
in a crater in a world where the air was brimstone and ash, smoky
and hard to breathe through. Nate dropped Alex twice, though Alex
didn't complain. He was out cold. Domino commented once or twice that
he was probably just looking for a chance to pass out from his injuries.
Nur didn't respond.
They had dressed the wound as best they could. After the initial
shock of seeing Alex Summers so close to death, none of them had gagged
"This can't be good." Franklin dropped his shovel, and squinted at
the three -- four -- figures approaching him, one being carried by
Nur. He said it flippantly, but watching Nur dump the body down on
a crate, and then gesture to him, Franklin was ready for the worst.
He went over. "Who did you-- Havok?"
Domino rolled her eyes. "You could say that again. And Bobby Drake."
The man standing behind her turned wide eyes on Franklin, and just
before he could freak out, Franklin put a hand on his forehead. Bobby's
eyes rolled into the back of his head, and Franklin concentrated,
trying to get rid of all the energy his body and mind had accumulated.
He was at it for almost a minute.
Nur got some water for Alex, who looked around groggily. "Where are
Domino grinned at him, showing off her teeth. "Welcome to the end
of the world."
Alex laughed, and spilled the cup of water all down the front of
himself. He was wrapped up in blankets so tightly he was barely visible.
Franklin rounded on Domino. "Come on! They're only here two minutes
and already you're at them."
She wrinkled her nose. "They *could* use a bath."
"True." Franklin gestured for Domino to lift Bobby, and Nur to help
Alex over to the water trough.
Alex held up a hand, saying, "I'm fine to walk. Just give me a minute."
He stood up, spilling the rough blankets off his lap, onto the ground.
That's when Franklin looked down and saw his leg. Or rather, lack
"You're telling me there's nothing you can do?"
Pam, their resident expert on disease, frowned, her forehead wrinkling.
"I don't know if I can help him." Sun streamed in and lit up the room;
on the bed, Alex Summers was most likely dying.
"Why not?" Nate's mouth was turned down permanently.
"It's-- I think it's a form of cancer."
"What?" Nate's jaw dropped. "How?"
Ilsa put a hand on his shoulder the same moment that Pam replied,
"It's not a disease, as such. It's not a foreign element in his blood.
It's a part of him. His cells, replicating themselves out of control.
I'm surprised it hasn't progressed farther along."
Alex wiped a cloth across his forehead, and smiled wryly. "Looks
like I won't be going to the dance tomorrow night."
He shrugged. "Oh, well, guess it doesn't matter then."
Nate turned to Pam. "You're telling me that he lost his leg to cancer?"
She nodded. He turned to Franklin. "Then is there anything you can
Franklin chewed on his lip, hand to his head. They had washed the
wound, and Franklin had cauterized it. He said slowly, "I don't think
I can repair the limb; even if I did, there's no telling whether he'd
be able to use it as well as he's managing now. The gangrene's gone,
thanks to Pam, and the wound is clean. The cancer... I think it's
spread everywhere. I might be able to slow things down, some--" and
he held up a hand, "but there's no way to tell whether it'll work."
Nate's eyebrows furrowed. "Then do it."
"I'll need some time to prepare, and I think Alex might want something
to eat, some rest. I might be able to slow the cellular disintegration,
but I don't know enough anatomy to stop it." Franklin sighed. "I'm
Alex sat up, awkwardly, and said weakly, "Do you always talk about
people as if they aren't in the room?"
Nate turned sharply, and even though no one could read his mind,
everyone immediately thought of Irene.
Lorna couldn't believe her eyes. It was Alex.
She took a breath, stepped forward hesitantly, and then, seeing Bobby
and him huddle close together, fled.
Nate glanced back at Alex. "Yeah?"
Alex shuffled his feet. "Thank you."
"Saving Bobby like that. He wasn't." Alex coughed, looking out the
window of the house. There were green spaces here, green spaces after
months, years of wastelands. It was almost impossible to believe.
He coughed again. "He wasn't doing well."
Nate replied softly, "It doesn't look like you are, either."
"Oh, I'll survive."
Nate sat down on the mattress, and Alex sat down beside him. After
a moment, Nate asked, "How're you holding up, anyway? Some people
get a little shell-shocked."
Alex nodded. "I can see that."
"Listen, Alex." Nate scratched his neck. "I need to ask you something."
Alex grinned wryly. "Whatever you need."
"Do you think Bobby'll go the distance?"
Alex blinked. "I think that he'll make it, yeah. He's tougher than
he seems, even though he's erratic."
Nate nodded. "Good." His lips twitched. "What about you?"
"Me?" Alex kept grinning. "I'm chipper, I'm fine."
"God, you are." Nate sounded almost disgusted. "You're almost as
cheerful as Franklin."
Alex looked out the window again. He said quietly, "It's easy. You
guys figured out a way to make things grow again."
"So, how many of us did you know from-- before?"
Nate said it casually, but Alex could tell that he was anxious to
hear the answer. He answered, "I hadn't met you, or Domino. I knew
a Kitty -- a much younger Kitty -- and Bobby, of course." He paused,
wondering how much detail Nate really wanted him to give. "We were
all younger than most versions of the X-men, it seems."
Nate didn't look at him when he answered. "Yeah. You are."
Alex tried to change the subject. "Fully trained, though." He tried
to joke, "Even housetrained."
"Good. Franklin hates mess on the carpet."
Alex chuckled. "I can understand that."
"Alex--" Nate grimaced.
Alex held up a hand. "I'll be well enough." He lifted up his shirt
to show off some kind of armor, lighter than the stuff that Alex had
worn in Nate's own time, and much more comfortable looking. Alex said
softly, "It feels good to think I can help again."
Nate glanced at him, a little surprised. He just answered gruffly,
"We take all the help we can get."
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