Disclaimer: Alex and Bobby are Marvel's. I never got money from nothing.
Warning: Guess what!! Slash! *G* I assure you, I'll never do it again (that was what I said about serious stuff, and Bobby, and Draco-fic....). It does however have a plot. Woohoo! Some bad language. Nothin' smutty at all. ;)
For Diamonde, who did the Maori Sock Dance for this fic. How could I resist, even if she was at the other end of the phone?

When the Sun Rose
by Mel

Bobby twisted his body around the pool-cue, steadying the shot, then perfectly hit the ball so it bounced off the cushion missed the blue by a millimetre then ricocheted off another corner, narrowly missing the corner pocket, then knocked a green, which in turn, oh, so slowly, nudged the eight ball, and the eight ball alone into the pocket.

Everyone gasped, gaped and stared at him, but he was ready, his eyes wide, his jaw dropped. Then the laughter started. It continued as he made his way, stiff-limbed as a sleep-walker around to the pocket the black-ball had just dropped into. The sniggers redoubled as he pulled out the offending object and stared at it. Finally, he held it up, thumb and forefinger, the figure facing him.

"Alas," he said, "poor eight-ball, I knew him, Horatio. Until the bastard betrayed me." The laughing was uproarious then, as he put the ball back in the pocket. He rolled his eyes once more, and his scene made, wandered back to the bar, with many pats on the back. He paid for the round of drinks, then sat back, beer in hand, to enjoy the joviality of the crowd.

"Why the hell'd you do that?" A voice slurred from beside him. "You don't need to prove to anyone here that you're a loser."

Bobby spun, and blinked. Apparently the hunched figure beside him was someone he knew. "Alex? What're you doing here?"

"Not cheating at pool, thass for damn sure," Alex said, then pointed at his empty glass. "Yo, bar-whassit. More."

With a resigned air, the barman refilled the glass, rolling his eyes at Bobby in comradeship.

Bobby was too preoccupied to react properly, though. Alex looked like he'd been there for some time, and had the air of a regular. And that was strong liquor he was knocking back. Bobby thought about it, and couldn't remember the last evening Alex had spent at the Mansion.

"Are you okay?" he asked, concerned.

"Why the fuck should you care?" Alex asked, a pertinent question to Bobby's suddenly guilty mind. Alex seemed to see the change in his face and shrugged. "I'm absolutely wonderful, Bobby-Boy. Don't you go worrying your pretty-little head about it."

Bobby sighed. "You look smashed, Alex. That's not exactly fine."

"'Course it is. I want to be smashed. And I'm not smashed yet, it takes more than a couple of drinks to be really smashed." Alex gulped the rest of the glass down and held it out to the barman again. Before the glass could be topped up again, Bobby held a hand over it.

"I don't think so."

Alex glared at him. "What? What makes you think you've got any say?" A hank of lank blond hair fell over eyes that Bobby had just realised were bloodshot. And, right at this moment, extremely angry.

"I'm your friend, Alex," Bobby started, but Alex interrupted.

"No, you're not. I stole your girlfriend, and we can't stand each other. Don't talk through your arse." Alex put the glass down with finality. "Now piss off and let me drink."

Bobby blinked. "I let that go a long time ago, Alex. And I'm gonna help you get home now." He rolled up his sleeves and looped Alex's arm over his shoulder. "C'mon." He heaved a sigh of relief that Alex didn't fight him as he was hauled out of the bar.

They were nearly out at Bobby's car when Alex shook him off. He stood very creditably on his own two feet. "I'll bet you're glad."

Bobby blinked. "I'm what?"

"You're fucking glad."

Bobby rubbed his head. His good deed for the day seemed to be rather more complicated than just hauling Alex's arse back to the mansion. "What am I glad about?"

"That Lorna's with Magneto." Alex's hair was in his eyes, obscuring the expression there. He stood, legs planted just far enough apart to give away his not entirely steady state, as though waiting vindication.

"What?" Bobby was still confused. He shoved both hands into his pockets impatiently. "I don't have a clue what you're talking about."

"You're glad that she left me, like she left you," Alex clarified, his enunciation careful. "You're happy."

"I don't particularly care," Bobby said, not entirely truthfully. "That'd be your problem."

"Oh, don't go giving me that crap," Alex spat, disgust dripping from his tone. "Don't go acting all grown-up and cool now, Bobby-Boy. Not when I just watched you lose on purpose to make people like you."

"I did not!" Bobby objected.

"You did." Alex tossed his hair back. "You could have made that shot with your eyes closed, and you know it. You're still just a little boy wanting approval, and you can just leave me alone." He glared poisonously at Bobby. "I don't need your pity."

"I don't pity you, you sad drunk, I just thought I should get you home before you drank your last brain-cell away." Bobby snarled. "You know Sco-Storm'd be furious if she knew that you were drinking again."

Alex stood as though frozen. The name had nearly been said, and they both knew it. His eyes caught the moonlight like mirrors. Bobby closed his and swore. He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Alex's shoulders. "Let's get out of this car park, at least." Gently he led Alex to his car, and helped him in, trying to ignore the shivers that ran over Alex's body. He trotted around to the other side of the car and started it up.

They drove in silence for a few minutes, then just out of town, still a little way from the mansion he pulled over, and Alex, even before the engine was off, shoved open the door and staggered out. A few steps away, he hunched over and vomited violently into the grass.

Still in the car, Bobby rested his forehead on the steering wheel, trying unsuccessfully to erase the image of Alex's eyes from his mind.

Some minutes later kneeling, arms clamped around his stomach, Alex finally stopped retching. He couldn't move though. Every muscle in his body ached, every bone. Even his hair ached. Worst of all, his eyes strained against his strict control, blurring his vision. Just as he thought he might stay like that forever, a gentle hand gripped his shoulder, and pulled him to his feet. His eyes betrayed him still, smearing the moonlit area, so he meekly followed when he was prompted, and finally he found himself curled up on the ground, back to a tree.

"Water?" Bobby offered, his voice only slightly tremulous.

Still mute, Alex accepted the bottle, spitting out the first mouthful, then swallowed several more. He carefully, exactly, screwed the lid back on and placed it on the ground beside his leg.

They sat in silence. Alex, glazed-eyed and staring straight ahead, Bobby, unable to face that much pain, unable to face his own, staring at his knees.

"Scott's dead."

The words dropped into the quiet, barely rippling it. Somehow, though, they made Alex's diaphragm turn traitor as well, making his breath hiccup and swoop from his lips. He tried the words again, hoping that somehow this time they'd be less true. "Scott's dead."

Bobby heard the words. He heard them the first time, and all his own grief welled up, stopping his voice. He heard them the second time, broken and uneven, and his heart broke again for what those words meant to the man who said them. Without thought, he turned and wrapped both arms tightly around Alex, offering no words, no sentiment, only his presence, too humbled to offer more.

Blindly, Alex reached out for that strength, that presence. He clutched it to him as though fearful it too would be taken from him too soon, his body shaking, his breath wheezing frantically, and his eyes burning with unshed tears.

Bobby gripped the trembling body, pulling it closer to try to take away the palpable storm of regret, grief, and guilt that raged there. Even then, even after so much, Alex didn't let the tears fall. Bobby let his fall, to fill the void.

Stunningly, Alex found his voice first. Stuttering into Bobby's shirt he spoke. In broken phrases he poured out his guilt and grief. He should have been here. He shouldn't have taken so long to return. It should have been him. It should have been him.

Bobby absorbed all of this, and didn't deny Alex his emotions, feeling his own inadequacy too strongly to try to break into this man's grief. It was too big, too total for him to presume to do that. Instead he held Alex close and let him talk, and never let up the tight grip for a moment.

The torrent of blame stuttered to a halt, and they lay there, Alex breathing in the smell of Bobby and Bobby's tears, Bobby feeling Alex's still unsteady breathing warming his chest. Finally, quietly, Alex spoke his ultimate guilt, hiding his face away from Bobby so as not to see the condemnation in those mischievous brown eyes. "I hated him. Sometimes."

Those fingers holding him spasmed, and he waited to be thrust away. Instead, he heard Bobby take a breath and speak, his voice gentle.

"He didn't die because you hated him, Alex."

Alex pulled away abruptly, holding his hands up. "I didn't ... I don't ... You..."

Bobby felt the heat coming off those outstretched hands and swallowed. He reached out and intertwined his iced-up fingers with Alex's. "You couldn't help being away, nothing you could have done would have changed what happened, and it's okay to cry." Bobby gently tightened his clasp on Alex's hands. "We all hate our big brothers sometimes. I hated Scott sometimes. I still do. How dare he go away and leave us. God, I'm going to miss him, Alex."

Seeing the scraped-bare honesty in Bobby's eyes, Alex finally let go, and he crumpled, fiery tears of mourning streaming down his face. All the way down, though, Bobby never left him alone.

It seemed like hours later that they sat, curled up against the tree once again.

Alex sniffed. "I guess this means that I'll have to stop rebelling against Scott and grow up," he said, still with a hiccup on the name.

Bobby smiled. "If you grow up, you know that I'm going to have to as well. I can't be the only permanent teenager on the team."

"Yup." Alex couldn't smile yet. But the tight coil in his stomach had gone. "Nothing but serious grown-up stuff for the two of us."

"No more practical jokes." Bobby listed dismally.

"No more sleeping in."

"No more not pulling our weight in the kitchen."

"No more wearing the uniform to bed so we don't have to get dressed in the morning."

"No more arguing with the boss just 'cause we don't like their haircut."

"No more deliberately bad hair-cuts so people will argue with us."

"No more staying up until three in the morning watching B-grade movies before a mission."

"No more staying out till three in the morning, looking for the perfect soul mate."

"No more waiting for that perfect man to fall in our laps, we'll find an impossible love and angst like proper grown-ups."

There was a pause.

"The perfect man?"

Bobby's heart-rate skyrocketed. Apparently, Alex was behind on all sorts of gossip. Which meant that he was going to pull away and look at him in disgust. After all that had happened in the last few hours, suddenly Bobby realised he couldn't deal with this right now. He'd gotten used to the strange looks, the conversations that stopped as he walked into a room, but right here and now, he couldn't handle it.

Alex didn't though. He neither turned away, nor sneered in disgust. Instead, he did something that made Bobby's heart stop entirely. He reached up and very softly kissed him on the lips. It was Bobby's turn to shift away.

"What was that for?"

Alex shrugged, his cheeks darker in the dim light than they had been before. "Curiosity?"

"Curiosity? About what?" Bobby was trying to pull his brain together, but suddenly other parts of his body wanted a look in. It was all rather distracting.

"About kissing a guy. It wasn't exactly thrilling. Not exactly bad either, though." Alex rested his head on Bobby's shoulder, and felt the thundering pulse.

He'd thought about this before, but he'd never been in a situation where he felt this ... easy about it. Maybe it was just a reaction to everything that had happened. In one part of his brain he was aware that later he could use the alcohol he'd drunk as an excuse for all of this later. In the meantime he was feeling remarkably relaxed.

Bobby on the other hand was suddenly not feeling relaxed at all. In fact he was feeling a bit like someone had just spun him around in dizzying circles and dropped him. And he felt like he wouldn't mind another kiss from Alex either. "Well, you didn't exactly give me a chance to kiss you back, you know. That is half the fun." Suddenly embarrassed he added. "Not that I kiss a lot of guys myself. I may be gay, but I'm not a slut."

Alex sat up. "I never said you were." He frowned. "I'm not either."

Bobby grinned. "Now we've established that neither of us are sluts, I feel so much better."

Alex leaned against him again. "So do I."

Bobby wrapped an arm around him. "Do you, um, want to give kissing a guy another chance? 'Cause if this is just because you want to try something different, you'll probably regret this when the sun comes up tomorrow."

Alex gave that unexpectedly sober remark the consideration it deserved. "Yeah, actually, I think I'd like to. I've, you know, thought about it before. What it'd be like. There were a couple of guys who..." he blushed then, unable to prevent himself. "But it wasn't exactly something a guy who's trying to be a football great, or a caped crusader thinks about so I didn't. Then there was Lorna, and, well, what sort of a man has those kinda thoughts while with ~Lorna~? So I didn't have those thoughts."

Bobby let go the evidence this gave that Alex had never let himself react as he wanted to, only as he was expected to. "You're kidding me."

"Nope. I have thought about it." Alex shrugged. "Is that so surprising?"

"A little. You've always been so ... un-gay."

Alex frowned. "Does this mean that you don't want to kiss me? Here I was thinking I was sexy."

"More grotty than sexy I'd say. No, it doesn't mean I don't want to kiss you. It means I'm trying to get up my courage." Bobby lifted Alex's chin, and gently touched his lips to Alex's. Or, it started gentle, at least. Alex opened himself to Bobby and in moments was kissing back, with quiet, tear-tasting eagerness. Bobby reached for Alex, sliding his fingers to each side of Alex's face. Alex responded, slowly but no less urgently by running his hands up Bobby's back with a very different grip than his earlier one.

Bobby's breath was coming hard when he pulled away. The two of them both gazed wide-eyed at the other in surprise, and surprising need.

"Whoa." Alex managed.

Bobby took a moment longer. "This is so not a good idea." He took several deep breaths of air that seemed rather cool compared to whatever he'd just been breathing.


"You're all emotional." Bobby took some more deep breaths and avoided looking at Alex. That seemed like the best way of cooling down short of icing-up. "I'd be a bastard to take advantage of you now. No seducing the vulnerable person. It's a kinda rule."

"Very chivalrous," Alex said solemnly. His hand, sliding up Bobby's leg wasn't solemn at all. "But what if the vulnerable person seduces you."

"Don't!" Bobby said sharply. He plucked Alex's hand off his leg, and unable to think of anything more appropriate to do with it, kissed each knuckle.

Alex groaned. "But I decided I want to. Can't you just let the rule slip this once?"

Bobby tossed his nose in the air and put on a sniffy tone. "I'm trying to be grown-up, Alex. And you are not making it easy."

Bobby's eyes met Alex's, and Alex read the determination and hunger there. He sighed and shuffled back against the tree. He held out a hand to Bobby. "If you will go around having principles, I guess I'll have to just deal." Bobby sidled next to him and was pulled into a comfortable lounge against Alex's body. "Of course you'll have to massage my ego later. Tell me how sexy I am and stuff."

Bobby grinned. "I'm sure I can do that."

They talked quietly for hours, neither wanting to get up. They covered lightly things important and trivial, about people who were both. Finally Bobby pointed to their left. "Hey, look, the sun's coming up."

"Yeah." Alex looked at the intertwined hands in his lap and for the first time that night, and in what felt like years, he smiled. "I'd noticed."

The end.

Extra note: Dia MADE me do it! She did! In 24 hours. Oh god...
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