El Scorcho (twbasketcase) wrote,
El Scorcho
twbasketcase

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FIC: Hostile Takeover 17/18

Category: X-Force
Characters: X-Force -- Shatterstar, Siryn, Sunspot, Rictor, Cannonball, Domino, Warpath, Cable, Boomer, Moonstar, Feral, Magma, and Deadpool.
Pairings: Rictor/Shatterstar, Domino/Cable, Sunspot/Magma. Minor Warpath/Siryn/Deadpool and Cannonball/Boomer.
Genre: Alternate Universe, Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance
Rated: NC-17 for extreme violence, language, dark themes, sexual situations (het and slash), and character death.
Disclaimer: I don’t own a damn thing; I’m just playing for awhile.
Summary: A well known terrorist organization has made its move, and its dictatorship starts with the fall of the country’s greatest heroes. A few make it out alive, but they are on the run and in for the fight of their lives. Who lives and who dies? And where do you go when there’s no where left to hide?

Chapter Summary
: Roberto wants to make amends, Ric ponders if he's gone crazy, Shatty's hungry, and Cable's such a futuristic father figure <3

Part: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen,

A/N: There are a couple of sexually explicit (slash) paragraphs in this chapter. Just for your warning. (With this journal though, sometimes I wonder why I bother warning... o_O)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Theresa stared up at her bedroom ceiling blankly; her eyes were unfocused and unmoving. So many thoughts had run through her mind that day that it seemed as though there was nothing else left to think. She was not sure if she even wanted to think anymore.

 
She figured it had been hours since she had seen anyone else on the team. They had been left behind at Jimmy’s so called funeral quite some time ago, and she had not bothered to speak to any of them since. It had been a nice gesture on their part, sure, but it had not accomplished anything. Under no circumstances did it make her feel better, nor did they figure out the circumstances of Jim’s death. They had just seemingly accepted that he was gone and that was that.

 
They all still had someone there to help them grieve anyhow.

 
But Theresa had opted to grieve alone. When something had happened that upset her about her team, she had always gone to her dad. When something had happened with her friends that had bothered her, she would make herself forget by enjoying some time with Wade. And if anything else weighed on her mind, she could always rely on Jim to be there. There used to always be someone for her to fall back on when times got tough, but now…now there was no one.

 
Sure, it would be easy to fall back to old ways; if she wanted to grab a bottle and drown her sorrows away, there was an entire bar of alcohol in the hotel kitchen. But even old habits seemed to die that day, as she could not even find the energy within her to crave a drink. Nothing seemed to exist at all inside of her anymore. It was just blank, cold, and so very lonely.

 
However, her loneliness did not want to seem to stick around long. Sometime just after midnight a soft knock sounded on her door, but she did not even budge.

 
“Terry?” a hushed voice spoke through the door. “You in there still?”

 
It was Roberto.

 
The redhead rolled her eyes and turned over on her bed so that she was curled on her side. She pushed the extra large t-shirt she wore as nightwear down her thighs and waited for him to walk on in like she had expected him. Uninvited and unwanted.

 
“Terry?” he spoke again as he pushed the door open a crack. Roberto was powered down and wearing only a pair of blue flannel pants and a white tank. He was frowning at the sight of her, and scratched his head. “What are you doing?”

 
“What does it look like?” she mumbled.

 
“Sorry, I was, uhm, I couldn’t sleep and I just wanted to know if you were hungry. You didn’t come down for dinner earlier, so I figured you were probably starved,” he shifted his eyes awkwardly and stood at the end of her bed. “I was going to fix something up. Did you--”

 
“No.”

 
He swallowed and blinked. “Oh.”

 
“What do you want?” she snapped, and sat up to get a better look at him. She pushed messy red locks from her face, and once again adjusted her shirt. “Ye never offer anyone food, ‘Berto, let alone me of all people.”

 
“Look, I was just--”

 
“Just what?” Theresa demanded. “Did ye come on in here tah laugh at me? Tah say ‘I told ye so?’ Ye got what ye wanted, now leave me alone.”

 
The Brazilian scrunched up his face and plopped down on the end of the mattress. “Got what I wanted!? Droga, what on Earth are you talking about!? You really think I’m that big of an asshole that I’m getting some sick pleasure outta this?”

 
She glared at him and lay back down. “It’s the same bloody thing ye’ve been shovin’ in my face since I met up with ye at Bearskin Lake.”

 
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Bobby confessed, voice both soft and annoyed. “I know I said some bad things to you, Terry, but I never wanted this to happen. And I sure as hell don’t feel good about this either. If anything, I feel the need to pull my foot out of my mouth.”

 
She did not look at him and she did not say a word.

 
“Look, whatever happened these past couple of weeks has been a freaking blur to me. You had the guts to stay optimistic and hopeful and you had enough heart and guts to keep on fighting while you were looking out for me and the boys,” Roberto continued. “Ric was sick, Shatty was a basket case, and I-- I was mad. And I was sad and hurt – I still am. I think underneath it all I was just jealous that you were able to keep your head screwed on straight even though things didn’t look good.”

 
“Stupid me,” she murmured as she pressed herself deeper into her pillow. “Aye, I guess I shoulda listened to ye, huh? No sense in bein’ optimistic when all yuir hopes just get dashed in the long run.”

 
“Nah, pessimistic’s no way to be,” he scoffed slightly. “That just makes you feel worse.”


“But it’s an easier let down if’n ye expect it,” Terry contested.


“There’s no way you coulda known Jimmy was gonna die,” Roberto replied incredulously. “It just happened! There was absolutely no way at all you could’ve expected that…”

 
“Who says I’m just talkin’ about Jimmy?” she whispered.

 
“Uhm…I don’t think we’re on the same page here, Sy.”

 
“Did it even occur tah ye to ask how he died?” she rolled over onto her back and gazed across the mattress at him. “Ye just assumed he was shot and killed by HYDRA?”

 
“Well yeah,” Roberto furrowed his eyebrows. “I saw the wounds; it was a gun.”

 
“It was Deadpool’s gun.”

 
Roberto’s eyes widened and he stared at her absolutely stunned. “What!?”

 
“Looks like ye were right all along, Mister hot shot,” she leered. “Big bad traitor Wade broke me heart. Figgered he was nae cut out for the super hero business after all.”

 
The Brazilian rubbed a dark hand up and down his face for a few moments as he registered what she had said. He had been the first person that she told. Not even Ric and Shatterstar had known when they found her in the basement back at the base. Domino did not know, and neither did Sam. Theresa felt even worse now that the words had left her lips, but she could not stop them. Roberto was right all along. He was probably damn amused by it too.

 
“Go ahead, out with it,” she glared. “Yuir the one who hated him the whole damn time. Assumed that he was the one feedin’ HYDRA with information!”

 
“But it wasn’t him,” Roberto shook his head as he tried to process it all. “It was Nate! Nate was the one doing it all along…just…he didn’t have a choice. I hadn’t even heard of Wade being involved in anything until now!”

 
“Aye, but he was. He killed Jimmy and he left me behind, just like ye said he would eventually.”

 
“Sy…” Roberto sighed and inched closer to her. “I never meant that--”


“I think he was brainwashed,” she admitted shakily, feeling a familiar grief grow in her chest. “I dinnae know for sure, but they did…somethin’ tah him. He could nae even speak tah me for more than a few seconds at a time, and that…” she swallowed the lump in her throat; she was not sure why she was telling him all of that, but she felt the sudden need to get it off her chest. “That’s a feat for him, ye know.”

 
“You’re serious?”

 
She nodded.

 
“Mãe do Dues,” Roberto muttered quietly. “Why didn’t you tell anyone?”

 
“Think that’s somethin’ I’m jumpin’ at the chance tah blab tah everyone?” Terry scoffed incredulously. “Aye, that’s nae somethin’ I’m even comfortable thinkin’ about, boyo. My boyfriend…” she paused. “He…killed my best friend. Right in front of me. And nae only that, but he’d been tortured and experimented on and refused tah believe that I’d be any help tah him. He just left me there.”

 
“I’m sorry,” Roberto told her awkwardly.

 
“Nae! Yuir not! Ye’ve just been waitin’ for somethin’ like this tah happen! Ye’ve done nae a thing tah make the past few weeks easy for me. Ye constantly reminded me how bad he was, and ye taunted me by sayin’ he was gonna turn his back!” she yelled, and unknowingly released a violent pitch. Roberto winced and covered his ears. “Just leave me alone, Bobby. Ye called it, ye were right, and I hope yuir satisfied.”

 
“Fuck you!” he yelled at her. “I might have a big mouth, but I sure as fuck am not satisfied! Jimmy was my friend too, Terry, and it wasn’t easy putting someone else I care about in the ground!”

 
She lowered her gaze, and fisted the sides of her shirt silently.

 
“And I care about you too. I was an asshole to you, yes, but you’re my friend – and a real damn good one, Terry,” he crawled closer to her, and lay down on the mattress next to her. “I never would’ve made it this far without you. And Sammy may be my best amigo, but you-- you were the one who was there when times were tough. You held everything together.”

 
Terry felt her chin tremble, but she refused to let her emotions get the better of her.

 
“And Sam got back who he wanted,” Roberto continued. “And I’m happy for him because I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone. But you and me, Ter-- we weren’t as lucky. And I think…”

 
She lifted her arm and fisted her pillow. “What?”

 
“I was a prick, and I think I owe you,” the Brazilian admitted. “I owe you a lot, and…not a single person on this team or in this building knows what you’re goin’ through as well as I do. It’s time for me to stop actin’ like some spoiled little brat and think about someone else for a change.”

 
She stared up at her ceiling. “It’s all right. Ye dinnae have tah worry about me.”

 
“Yeah well I will. Because you know what Jimmy would say if he were here right now? He’d be on your ass telling you to not bottle everything up, and that you don’t have to go through this shit alone.” He scratched his head, and scooted up so that he was sitting against her headboard. “And I’m not as good at the nurturing emotional shit as him, but I sure as hell ain’t as bad as the other people on this team.”

 
She snorted humourlessly. “Like that’s hard. A lawn gnome is more nurturin’ than most of the people on this team.”

 
“Do you remember that one time I woke up in the middle of the night last week? We were still in the cave and…I had that dream,” he trailed off awkwardly and averted his eyes. “Anyways, that was the only time I—I let it out. You told me I was allowed to let it out and that I had to fight. That I couldn’t give up.”

 
Theresa felt her eyes sting, but blinked it back. “I remember.”

 
“Well…I’m here,” he swallowed loudly and stared off at the wall adjacent to the bed. “If you need someone…I’m here. Because I know what it feels like to not have anyone left. And after everything that’s happened, the only way you’re gonna make it through this is by allowing yourself to grieve, Ter. You can’t just shut off.”

 
Her chin trembled again. “I dinnae know if I even want tah make it through.”

 
“Well if you quit you let them win,” he muttered, and finally looked back down at her. “And I don’t think they deserve to claim anyone else’s life.”

 
“It just shouldn’t have even happened,” she whispered, finally feeling warm, wet trails slide down her face. “It was so useless. After everything that we’ve been through, I should nae have lost them so easily. So…easily…” she wiped her face angrily. “And nae just them! Da too. They took everything. Everyone.”

 
“I know,” he nodded.

 
“And I know I should be happy for everyone else, but I can’t help but feel just a tad bit bitter that they got people back,” she breathed shakily through her tears. “It’s selfish and it’s wrong, and – Lord forgive me – but it’s nae fair.”

 
Roberto frowned and hesitantly placed his hand in hers. “No, it’s not, is it?”

 
She sniffed again before a violent sob racked her body. “I’m sorry-- I cannae-- I dinnae wanna fall apart…”

 
“You’re allowed to, remember? You’re a tough chick, and I know that. I ain’t gonna think you’re weak if you just let yourself feel, menina; you can’t be invincible all the time.”

 
She curled onto her side and pressed her face against his stomach. Wrapping her arms around his middle, her shoulders shook as she finally broke down. The tears flowed and sobs racked her so violently that she found it hard to breathe. And without a hint of hesitation or awkwardness, he wrapped his arms over her shoulders and hugged her back. Just let her cry and soak his shirt and mutter incoherent ramblings against him. Roberto gave back to her what she had been so willing to give him before, and despite her not being comfortable falling to pieces on someone, Terry was thankful for it. Because by nature she did not like to be alone, and it helped to know that someone else knew what she was going through. They could get through it together.

 
He gently pushed her hair from her face and tightened his hold. “I’m sorry. I just want you to know that. After everything I did-- I never meant to hurt you.”

 
She nodded against his belly tearfully. “I know, boyo. I always did.”

 
“Good. I’m glad.”

 
“I dinnae even know how ye managed to make it through that whole fight feelin’ this way,” she sniffed.

 
“She gave me something to fight for,” he shrugged sadly. “It still hurts though. I don’t think it’ll ever stop.”

 
Terry nodded, and squeezed her eyes shut. “No…I dinnae think so.”

 
“But it doesn’t mean we can give up, right? We just keep fighting HYDRA the best we can.”

 
“Right,” she nodded, and lifted a hand to wipe her face.

 
“Not for revenge, but…just to make sure it never happens again.”

 
She nodded, and blinked to free her lashes from moisture. “And for them.”

 
“Yeah. For them.”

 
Terry tightened her hold around him and just lay there listening to the sounds of the night air. His breathing was even and gentle beneath her, and it was nice to hear him so calm for a change. Sighing sadly, she peered up to look at him. “Thanks ‘Berto.”

 
He fingered a strand of her hair as he peered down at her, and nodded a few seconds later. “I’m just glad you didn’t decide to kick my ass.”

 
“Nah, that only would’ve felt good for a coupla seconds.”

 
He smiled slightly. “For you and me both.”

 
She smacked him and rolled his eyes. “And there goes the mouth again.”

 
“So we good now?” he questioned. “Don’t feel like I did this outta obligation, or anything, I just…really wanted to make amends.”

 
Theresa nodded, and settled against him as a few more stray tears managed to escape. Her exhaustion kicked in, but she felt better. “Yeah, we’re good. I think I just need tah sleep it off or somethin’ though.”

 
He nodded, but did not move. Unspoken words flowed between them, but neither minded the company. Sometimes just that extra presence was enough to make dealing just that much easier. So Terry closed her wet eyes and just enjoyed the comfort while she still had it. After everything she had lost, she did not want to take things for granted.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

“Dios!”

 
Rictor scrunched his face up and tossed his hand out to the cement wall. He fought to maintain his balance as he rocked on his knees, having nothing at all to hold onto but the painted concrete ahead of him. Shatterstar dug his fingers into his hips roughly as he slammed against him from behind, sending jolts of everything between pleasure and pain through Ric’s body. His balance was shot, but it did the trick. No longer did the Mexican feel any sadness, remorse, anger, or pain – just excitement and exhilaration blasted through him and made him ache and yearn all over.

 
A large hand snaked its way around the tanned thigh and grabbed onto his dick. The contact made Ric arch his back into it, which, in turn, allowed Shatterstar to bury himself deeper into his ass. Rictor cried out again, not knowing how to handle all the attention to all the right places at once.

 
But Shatterstar continued on, despite Rictor’s whimpering, pumping his cock at an inhumanly fast pace and thrusting his hips. His erection buried deep inside of the Mexican, pushing through the tightened muscles and reaching up until Ric was sure he was seeing spots of colours behind his eyelids.

 
To have him there was amazing. There was no fear or mistrust between them, and the awkward discomfort that had accompanied curious touching nearly a week ago had quickly progressed into something confident and very welcomed. Not only were emotions finally laid out and clear between them, but to be in each other’s company was almost therapeutic. It was almost as if nothing could hurt them amongst all of the HYDRA mess…

 
“FUCK!” Rictor groaned as one elbow buckled beneath him. Shatty lifted off of his knees as he slammed into him. Long hair hung over Ric’s back as ‘Star had him completely mounted and pinned to the mattress.

 
“Yes,” Shatty hissed and moved his hand faster. Rictor panted as he felt all of his muscles tighten; sweat lined his brow and a wave of release consumed him. He emptied against Shatterstar’s hand and all over the mattress with a startled groan, but with the release the warrior did not stop fondling him. The frantic pacing of the alien’s movements continued and quickened, until finally he let out a long drawn out moan. Shook behind him slightly, and then draped over the Mexican’s back tiredly. “Oh my-- Za’s Vid…” he grunted.

 
Rictor let his jaw go slack as he fought to catch his breath, and after a few seconds their bodies finally separated and they crashed down to the bed. The Mexican scrunched up his face at the wet mess between his legs, and shot Shatterstar a look. “You get it all outta ya, or what?”

 
The Mojoworlder grinned tiredly and nodded his head. “I think so. Unless you want to ask me again in five minutes.”

 
Rictor snorted. “I’ll give you three.”

 
"Your confidence astounds me.”
 

“And your endurance astounds me,” Julio deadpanned.

 
“Do you feel better now?” Shatty asked him as he wiped the sweat from his face with a discarded t-shirt.

 
“Better?” Rictor questioned.

 
“You were quiet all day. Which is weird because I’m used to you running your big trap non-stop.”
 

Rictor snorted and reached over. His fingers clasped tightly onto one of Shatterstar’s pert little nipples, and he twisted it roughly. The warrior yelped in surprise and squirmed away from the smaller man. Ric just laughed at him, and shot him a smug look. “Big-trap that, cabron.”
 

Shatterstar covered his nipples with his hands, and scoffed with mock woe. “That actually hurt.”

 
“I’m surprised,” Julio shot him an infuriating smirk. “And here I thought you enjoyed pain.”
 

“You’re never allowed to look at them again,” he continued to hold himself. “I’m rendered speechless right now. I think that was domestic assault right there.”
 

Rictor burst out laughing at that, and actually had to wrap his arm around his middle. Just the look of surprise on the warrior’s face sent him into complete hysterics. How that guy managed to bust him down that way was beyond Rictor.

 
“You’re laughing at me,” Shatterstar rolled his eyes and dropped his hands back down to the bed. “What has this world come to?”
 

“Ugh, you’re just wondering that now?”
 

“Well at least you’re laughing and not upset anymore,” the warrior shrugged.
 

“I wasn’t upset upset…I don’t know, I think I was bummed out because I wasn’t as upset as I should be. Or something,” he rolled onto his side and fingered a lock of red hair. “Just seems like so much bad shit happened in the past few weeks that maybe any more bad shit just doesn’t even hurt anymore, know what I mean?”

 
“I think so,” Shatterstar nodded.
 

“Well all those people died, everyone’s families are dead, everyone got hurt and tortured, and people got molested by doctors – well, in my case anyways – so I don’t know. I probably just sound like a fucking jerk, but it just seems like bad stuff happens to everyone. It’s been happening my whole damn life, and I think it just really bugs me that it just doesn’t make me upset anymore.” Rictor propped his head up on his hand. “I think that makes me really fucked up! Like I’m just perma-fucked up and therefore can’t get any more fucked up than I already am!”

 
“That’s not true,” Shatty rolled his eyes.
 

“I think it might be. It’s weird, you know, because I was really upset and worried about Tab and makin’ sure she was all right. Then as soon as she went back with Sam I just didn’t, I dunno, feel the need to try and help her.”

 
“She probably doesn’t want much help right now,” Shatty pointed out. “Sometimes help makes people feel dishonourable. I don’t like help.”
 

“I know, but still.”

 
“You care about her a lot, don’t you?” Shatterstar questioned.
 

“Well yeah, she’s my friend,” Rictor frowned thoughtfully and gazed down at him. “And you remember that one girlfriend I told you I had before all this?”

 
“Yes.”
 

“It was her.”

 
“You dated her?” Shatterstar asked incredulously.

 
Rictor perked an eyebrow and smirked. “Yes.”

 
“That’s…interesting.”

 
“We didn’t even do anything,” Rictor rolled his eyes, and shoved him playfully. “And it only lasted like a whole less than a month. She pretty much helped me figure out I’m a big, huge--”

 
“I get the picture,” Shatterstar could not bite back his grin as he held up a hand to stop him. The little smile made Rictor beam, and he leaned down to kiss him.

 
“Thanks, ‘Star.”

 
“For what?”

 
“You did make me feel better,” the Mexican admitted.

 
“I thought you said that you weren’t upset?” he scrunched up his face confusedly.

 
“Maybe I’m just too perma-fucked to realize when I’m temporarily fucked up after all,” Rictor rolled his eyes and sat up on the bed. He could feel his hair sticking up in all different directions, and his muscles ached. “Dios, I hurt.”

 
“How does your nose feel?” Shatterstar questioned. “It does not even look swollen anymore.”

 
Rictor brought a hand up to the bridge of his nose and rubbed it gently. The agent he had wrestled around with had actually hit him hard enough to break the bone, but strangely it did not ache much at all anymore. “I don’t know, amigo. I think maybe there still might be some of that healing blood going through me, or something, because it’s feeling better already.”

 
“I’m glad,” Shatterstar murmured from behind him as Julio searched the bed for his underwear. When he found them, he pulled them up his legs. Shatty just stayed in his spot though. “I’m glad, Julio, because you looked like a clown with a black and blue nose.”

 
“You jerk! Not all of us can look like supermodels even after we get blown up!” Rictor scoffed and stood up. He only got two steps away from the bed before Shatty grabbed the back of his boxer-briefs and yanked him back toward the bed. The Mexican yelped as he stumbled over the fabric tangled around his thighs, and he fell to the mattress unceremoniously. Shatty leaned over him with a predatory grin, and Ric could not help but smirk. “Miss me already, huh?”

 
Shatterstar rolled his eyes and pulled the shorts off the rest of the way. “It’s been three minutes.”

 
Rictor smirked and pressed a long, soft kiss against the warrior’s lips. “You were probably even keeping track the whole time, weren’t you?”

 
‘Star shrugged. “Maybe.”

 
“Can I ask you something?”

 
“Maybe,” he repeated.

 
“You’re all worried about how I’m feelin’ about all this shit going on, but you haven’t said a word about you the whole time. Usually this is when you start showering me with questions,” Ric perked an eyebrow, and pushed ‘Star’s hair behind his ear. “I mean…this ain’t over either, hombre. We rest now, but we’ll be fighting again soon enough.”

 
The Mojoworlder tilted his head to the side and shrugged slightly. “I’m fine. I’ll just fight whenever I get told to.”

 
“You honestly think we can keep going on like this?” Rictor asked with a frown. “I mean I’ll fight too, obviously, but…eventually I’d like things to go back to as normal as they can be, you know?”
 

“This is what life was like on Mojoworld, in a way.”

 
“All the time?”

 
“All the time,” Shatty nodded. His larger hand traced down the Mexican’s belly and down through his hair until he reached the soft skin around his balls. Ric let his eyes flutter closed at the gentle fondling, and only moments later ‘Star was pressing his lips against his neck. “And I don’t really care what happens, Julio. I’ll do whatever I have to do, and I’ll stay by your side.”

 
Rictor smirked slightly as he felt himself begin to harden. “Like anyone else would put up with you anyways.”

 
Shatterstar lifted his head and stopped his groping. “Remember who’s holding your foojkies in their hand?”

 
Rictor let his eyes roll back as he grinned and pushed his hips up against said hand. “How could I forget?”

 
“This just turned sexual again, didn’t it?”

 
“Of course,” Rictor snorted. “Maybe that’s just easier to think about than all that other shit.”

 
“Really? Because I can’t think at all when it’s sexual in here.”

 
Julio wrapped his arm around Shatty’s neck and pulled him close. “That’s okay. I think you manage all right.”

 
“I want to do it right!” his eyes widened comically.

 
Rictor could not help but kiss him again. “Then just stay by my side like you said you would and I think you’ll do fine.”

 
“You are so cheesy.”

 
“You started it!” Rictor scoffed, and shoved him playfully. Shatty just rolled his eyes and lay back down on his back beside him.

 
“It’s okay, I like cheese. I’m hungry. We should go make food.”

 
Rictor just blinked at the ceiling for a few moments before he burst out laughing again. “Madre de Dios, you have the attention span of a goldfish.”
>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<

It was just after dawn when Sam had awoken the next morning. He and Tabitha had been able to fall asleep very early the previous night, and while the girl had managed to sleep in, the same could not be said for X-Force’s deputy leader. Communications between he and an ally had been going on for a few mornings in a row, and that morning he had finally gotten what he was looking for.

 
“What are you doing up?” the Kentuckian jumped slightly at the voice, and slammed the laptop on the lounge table in front of him closed. Cable stood with a very large mug of coffee in his hands, and he wore only a pair of sweats – just like Sam. The older man stared down at him curiously, and gestured to the computer. “Talking to someone?”

 
“Ah…” the younger man sighed irritably and pinched the bridge of his nose; trying to keep anything from Nate was near futile. "Ah been talkin’ tah Bobby Drake. The X-Men have been on the move all over the country in the last two weeks and he was keepin’ me up tah date. Said if they got around tah passin’ through Cumberland County that he’d gimme a shout.”

 
“And?”

 
“They got there last night,” Sam muttered and averted his eyes.

 
“I’m sorry,” Nate frowned and placed a hand on the Kentuckian’s shoulder. “It just doesn’t seem to get much better, does it?”

 
“No, it doesn’t…” he sighed. “But tah tell ya the truth, Ah was almost expectin’ it. Ah’ve had quite a bit of time now to deal with both Jay and Paige, and Ah found out the rest of them were missin’ over a week ago. Like Ah said tah ‘Berto, Ah knew they were all gonna die befoah me. Ah just didn’t expect it tah be anythin’ like this, ya know? Ah feel responsible.”

 
Nate nodded slightly, and took a sip of his mug before sitting down on one of the lounge chairs at Sam’s table. “In this line of work, people always die. It’s something that never gets easier to deal with. But what you have to understand, Sam, is just because you’re a hero it doesn’t mean you're responsible for everyone. You’re only one person.”

 
“Ah know that. But since my dad died Ah’ve always felt a certain obligation tah them. Ah just feel like Ah failed.”

 
“I know the feeling,” Nate nodded, and folded his hands in front of him. “I’ve seen my parents die and go missing. I’ve lost my wife and my son. And…so many people who’ve relied on me to lead them through a fight.” A large hand ran over white hair. “Each and every time though, Sam, it’ll haunt you. Some days are better than others, but that’s just the way grieving works. You’ll feel acceptance and denial and anger and guilt on replay it seems.”

 
The blonde nodded. “Ya got that right.”

 
“But I’m not saying just to sweep it under the carpet. What I am saying though is you just can’t hold yourself accountable. Especially now and given your particular powers. Hard as it is to accept, you’re going to bury a lot of people in your life.”

 
“And Ah ain’t lookin’ forward t’ it.”

 
“Of course not,” the older man nodded in sympathy. “But, don’t take this the wrong way, that’s just life.”

 
“Ah know.” Sam leaned back in his chair and folded his hands in his lap. He twisted his fingers around and stared at them tiredly, but he could not have felt as exhausted as Nate seemed to look. Frowning, Sam tilted his head to the side as he observed him. “Did ya sleep badly?”
 

“I didn’t sleep at all actually,” he replied casually.

 
“Why not? Ah know ya like tah sleep foah yoah dreams and all.”

 
“Too much going on,” the time jumper tapped a finger against his temple. “I heard every conversation, every thought, and every nightmare last night around this place. Too much for my brain to rest.”

 
Sam blushed slightly. “Ah’m sorry.”

 
Cable pinched the bridge of his nose and leaned over the table. “Oh believe me, you’re probably the one with the least to be sorry for.”

 
The Kentuckian blinked. “Ah ain’t gonna ask.”

 
“It’s probably better if you don’t,” Nate agreed with a tired chuckle. He took another large gulp of his coffee, and managed to slip Sam a smile. “So, things are okay with you then?”

 
“Ah’m…” he trailed off goofily. “Ah’m gonna be a dad, Nate.”

 
“Congratulations,” he smiled.

 
“It’s so weird. All this horrible stuff happened, and Ah’m sad and Tab’s sad and everyone’s got somethin’ to be upset about, but…” he shook messy blonde hair from his eyes. “It might sound cheesy, but it’s almost like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now, ya know?”

 
“Hope?” Nate offered.

 
“Yeah!” Sam beamed, and then quickly composed himself. “Ah mean…Ah still have all this stuff tah worry about though. Ah gotta find her a doctor somewhere and Ah have tah worry ‘bout the fact that…well there’s kinda a war goin' on right now. But, despite everything, Ah’m really happy. Ah just almost wish Ah’d gotten the chance tah find out befoah we left foah our missions. We coulda at least celebrated or somethin’.”

 
“She wanted to surprise you,” the older man said after a few moments.

 
“Ya knew?”

 
He nodded. “I had to. She didn’t want to be put on a strike mission, so I had her on pilot duty.”

 
Sam smiled a little. “Well at least she wasn’t runnin’ intah somethin’ head first foah once.”

 
“She’s happy,” Nate told him seriously, and rested his hand on Sam’s shoulder once more. “Give her some time to adjust with everything that happened, but you’ll see. Thing’s will turn out okay for you as long as you keep a good eye on her.”

 
“Ah promise Ah will.”

 
“I know you will. With everything you’ve guys made it through these past weeks, I wouldn’t doubt you for anything, Sam, and that’s the truth.”

 
“Thank ya, sir,” he nodded.

 
“Leader stuff aside, Sam, I’m saying that as your friend. I’m proud of you.”

 
Despite any other hesitations or negative emotions within him right then, Sam felt a sense of pride at Cable’s words. Nate was a man of true bravery and heroics, and Sam looked up to him in so many different ways. Not only as his leader, but, yes, as a friend too. And perhaps even a bit like the father he had lost so many years ago. It was nice to have that male role model in his life, and Sam could not be prouder that it was Nathan Summers.

 
“Thanks, sir.”

 
“And if there’s anything you guys need – anything at all – you just have to ask and I’ll do my best to make sure you get it. I think at this stage in the game my biggest priority is not fighting or engaging in any wars, surprisingly. I just want-- I want you kids to be able to get a chance to sleep easy. At least for a little while. It’ll take a lot of defensive strategy, but I think we can pull it off.”

 
“Ya don’t wanna fight!?” Sam asked incredulously.

 
“I didn’t say put it off completely,” Nate pointed out. “I said engage. We’ll play it by ear for now.”

 
“Sounds good, but…” Sam trailed off and bit his lip. “Aren't gonna go out lookin’ foah Wade?”

 
Nate sighed. “I couldn’t keep a good lock on his whereabouts. Problem with Wade is that his regeneration is so advanced that he’s basically developed a telepathic immunity. But just based on what thoughts I picked up back at the HYDRA headquarters, I think he’ll be hard to pin down. When Wade doesn’t want to be found, he can be damn good at hiding himself.”

 
“What? Ah don’t understand. Why would he want tah hide?”

 
“HYDRA wanted to keep all the male mutants for the purpose of sticking them in stasis tubes. To extract DNA samples, to experiment, and to monitor them. The information they needed to create their super soldiers that Strucker had told you about was gathered from those mutants. However, there were some individuals that were designated differently,” Nathan explained with a troubled frown on his face. “High Risk, I believe they were called. They were used for security purposes – hit men, front line attackers, hunters, and executioners.”

 
“Lordy,” Sam swallowed. “That musta been what they wanted Shatty foah.”

 
“That would make sense.”

 
“And ya think Wade was used for the same thing?”

 
“I know so. They were controlling the High Risk with some strange chip that they inserted surgically into the brain. But if Wade’s healing is any indication, it would be a good guess that the chip would not function properly in him. I'd managed to pick up that they'd been having trouble with him.”

 
“That’s Wade in a nutshell foah ya,” Sam could not help but smile sadly. “But Ah still don’t understand why he’d hide. We could help him! Ya could remove the thing with yoah TK, and then--”

 
“He’ll come back when he’s ready,” Nate cut him off, and lifted a hand. “There’s a little more to it then that, and I’m sure once he’s got it figured out we’ll definitely be seeing him again. Mother Askani knows I’ve had him latched onto me for years now,” Cable joked.

 
“But what about Terry? Shouldn’t we at least tell her?”

 
“She knows enough,” Nate sighed, and stood up from his seat. “I think at this point it would be best if you didn’t bring him up to her.”

 
“She knows?” Sam questioned again, just to make sure.

 
“Enough,” Cable repeated. “Like I said, I’m sure everything will come together in the end.”

 
“Where do we go from here then? How much more do ya know?”

 
Nate stared down at the young man with a troubled frown. “I’ll let you know at the team briefing. For now just…worry about those baby issues of yours and forget team stuff for just…a little while.”

 
Sam nodded. “Thanks, Nate.”


“Any time, Sam."
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
Go to chapter eighteen.

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