The world doesn't end. Unfortunately, Xavier and the remaining children make it out, as do Lensherr and the others, and the CIA cannot find them. Any of them. The facilities that once housed the short-lived "Freak Division" are still empty. Too many people died there; it obviously wasn't secure enough. Better to build elsewhere. Besides, it's fucking creepy out there.
So the facilities remain empty, burnt-out and crumbled, only the bodies cleared away. Nearly all of them, anyway.
One morning, there's a foot in the courtyard.
The mansion's too quiet in the mornings. Alex hates it. He gets up first because he spent six months in prison and before that, the family who adopted him liked to start their days with a song and a smile at 6:30 AM. Years of conditioning are nearly impossible to overcome, as it turns out, no matter how much he'd like to sleep in.
Even if that weren't the case, he's having bad dreams.
Breakfast is complicated. He's not very good at keeping his internal energy in when he's tired, so a spark knocks into the toaster, singeing the toast and probably killing the toaster. Again.
At least Hank stumbles in before Alex has time to kill the coffee machine as well, and before long Alex has a mug full of steaming coffee and is starting to feel more like a human. Mutant. Whatever.
"I killed the toaster," he says, because Hank is poking it with a puzzled look,
all the funnier for the way the fur on his ears twitches when he does.
Hank snorts, stopping. "Again, Alex?"
"Tired," Alex says by way of explanation.
Opting for cereal instead, Hank sits down opposite him at the table and they finish their breakfast in silence. It's easier between them since the island. Alex kind of likes it, though he'd never say so. Hank is the only one who doesn't really try to make him talk; he likes that too. The only person who could successfully make him talk was--is. Was.
Alex shakes his head, hoping the professor didn't catch that. He's not in the mood for another discussion of the six stages of grief. He likes anger; plans to stick to it.
(It should't have happened. If they had practiced like Darwin wanted, kept asking for, it wouldn't have.)
There's a spark.
The air is warm. Very locally warm. Cracks are appearing and disappearing, shimmering red.
There are two feet in the courtyard, and the suggestion of legs. Something is building.
There's a face, eventually. There's Darwin, falling to his knees and gasping for air, his skin still trying to close the cracks. The flagstones are heating beneath him, but he's got it now, he's back.
He falls over, still trying to remember how to breathe, and then he can't move. It's been weeks and weeks of pain (he thinks, he's not sure, fuck), and now he can't move.
Miles away, Charles Xavier blinks.
"Oh, I fixed your suit," Hank says.
"Fixed it?" Alex bristles a little. He doesn't need the suit for control anymore; Hank was there when that became obvious, so why is he--
"Modifications," Hank says hurriedly. "Not, like. Just some stuff that might be fun, now that you have more control."
Alex blinks. "More fun?" He's never thought of his power as fun. Even when they asked him to demonstrate, the others, laughing and goading him, it wasn't fun, exactly. Though he liked that they weren't scared, even after they saw.
"Yeah," Hank says, and he's sitting up straighter now. "I thought you could get some real fine-tuning, you know, and if we try it together we might be able to really tap into the energy waves--"
Alex shakes his head. "You're a real piece of work, Beast," he says. "But sure, I'll be your lab rat." He grins when he says it, so Hank'll know it's a joke. Alex is maybe trying to get better at saying what he means or being clear about when he's joking. It's just easier that way.
"Your experiments will have to wait, I'm afraid." The professor is at the door of the kitchen, hands resting on the wheels of his chair. (That had been Hank's first project when they came back: a lightweight, non-metal, easy-to-use wheelchair for the professor. Hank stayed awake for five days working on it, until the professor put him to sleep and Alex and Sean dragged him over to a cot in his lab.) "We're going on a fieldtrip. Suit up, children."
And god, but Alex hates that he still calls them that.
They take the chopper. There's a new plane, or there will be, but Hank has to rebuild it from scratch himself and it's taking a while. But they still have the chopper.
The professor is pale, looking out at the ground beneath them. Alex hasn't seen him this focused since he was fighting to get his body working again, after the island. It scares him a little to see it again.
Neither Alex nor Sean know where they're going, but Hank must, and he doesn't look happy. It's not a smooth ride. Alex wonders how the professor's taking it. He finds it bumpy, and Alex is still, he works. Everything is working. Better than before, even. He smooths a hand down the front of his new suit.
They touch down outside the facility and the professor has a finger to his temple. "No one is here," he says. "We can go in."
And they do and Alex realizes the professor didn't mean no one was there, he meant no one dangerous, because someone is definitely here, someone--
"You're dead," he blurts. "I watched you die."
Darwin shifts on the ground, slowly, like it's hard to move. He grins at Alex. "I adapt, remember?"
"You--I killed you."
"Nah," Darwin says, coughing a little. "Would have taken more than your wimpy little lightning bolt to kill me."
"'s not lightning," is all Alex can manage before he's on the ground next to Darwin, carefully helping him sit up with an arm under his shoulders. He swallows down against the burning he can feel in his eyes and the back of his throat; he doesn't think anything else is building but fuck if he's going to cry in front of anyone.
"Havoc?" Darwin says, sounding a bit puzzled.
"He missed you very much," the professor says, and his voice is warm. "Shall we go home, gentlemen?"
And it's not all pretty, because they have to fill Darwin in on what happened, tell him about Eric and the professor and Hank (though those two, at least, are kind of obvious) and Raven leaving and everything going to shit, basically, but Alex can't really be bothered to feel all that upset. Darwin's leaning on him as they walk back to the chopper, all warm and solid and alive, and it kind of feels like the world's alright, just now.