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It's hard to fight a war when everyone else is fighting a different one. Vietnam sweeps everything else aside, even for mutants.

The few kids they did have enrolled have left - the ones that had somewhere else to go, and the ones that got that letter in the mail and had to go do their duty. One by one, they left, and it's been just Alex, Hank and Sean, and the Professor, for months, pretending this is a school and mostly failing.

The Professor isn't fit to teach any more.

Alex wishes Hank wouldn't make the serum, but he's not the one living with everyone else's pain screaming through his brain, and he's not blue and fluffy with fangs and claws. Yeah, okay, he thinks Hank looks badass blue, but blue Hank also has trouble opening pickle jars without shattering them. Alex at least only breaks things when he wants to these days. He doesn't get to have an opinion.

He didn't have to see what the Professor saw, the last time he was clean enough to need his chair, to actually use Cerebro - he just saw the man coming out of the metal-lined room white and shaking and talking in bitten-off sentences about deaths. Torture. Vivisection. Talking about someone hunting mutants, trying to find out what makes them tick. That was the end of the good spell - the Professor dosed himself to his eyeballs again after that, more than ever. They all have ways of dealing with shit, and boy, do they seem to see a lot of it, but.

Sean doesn't like it either, but he knows he pretty much won the power lottery, of the four of them. And they've had the argument, they've had it so much, over breakfasts and in the bunker underground, and in the X-jet when they're all bruised, exhausted messes. The serum exists. The Professor uses too much of it, and Hank uses … just enough of it, he says, and that's that.

Alex never thought he'd miss having the Professor in his head, or that the sight of Hank's gangly, pink-skinned body getting out of the shower would make him do a double take.

***

It's the same every night. Sooner or later, that look crosses the Professor's face, and he goes upstairs. It's not like they don't know what he's doing. And Alex would happily leave him to it, but Hank worries, about things like syringe use and overdose, and so he hardly ever just lets the Professor go on his own.

Sean and Alex share a look after Hank goes up the stairs.

'Well, shit,' says Sean.

Alex nods, rolls his shoulders. 'I need a beer,' he says, kinda wistfully. There isn't any beer, and he's not old enough to be allowed it anyway. But the look on the Professor's face, and the idea of what happens if this all comes falling down around him, of being caught and locked up again, even without being experimented on, has him itching for a distraction.

Sean gives him a rueful look. 'Let's go to the bunker,' he suggests. 'Let off some steam.'

They let off steam literally, between them. Sean's been learning to fight with his scream as a weapon, he can deflect plasma rings even, and Alex is so fucking scared every time he so much as looks at another human while the fire rises in his chest, but he can control it, he will control it, and he can trust Sean to take care of himself.

There's fuck all left down here to catch fire, but there's enough. The air gets hazy, then smoky, and the emergency sprinklers let loose mid-fight. Sean looks like a drowned fox within a couple of minutes, dragging his hands through his dripping hair to pull it out of his face, his tip-tilted eyes narrowed at Alex as they both have to work out what adding water will do to the physics-problem mess of their powers.

When they're soaked through, Alex shucks his clinging, clammy shirt and Sean's eyes narrow even further. He licks the water off his lips, and they let off steam, with barely any pause in between. Both of them have control now, enough control that it's letting go that gets hard. Sean stalks up, takes Alex's face in both hands, tucked up tight under his jaw, and kisses him til they're both breathless, and then sinks to the floor. Sean sucks Alex's fingers, gives him hickeys on his belly, his thighs, that make him squirm (and he's had bruises off training with Beast so he's no stranger to bruises) and sucks Alex's cock like there's nothing he'd rather do in the world, blissed out breathless over it. Like he can't pull his mouth away.

Sean's noises ripple through Alex's skin. He holds Alex by the hipbones and laves him with his tongue, sucks him until the universe narrows down to the fire in Alex's chest and the pulse of his cock.

'Stop,' Alex growls, when he's too close for comfort - pulls Sean away by the hair and half collapses to the floor, already pulling him back. 'Fuck me?' he asks, half into Sean's mouth, sloppy against his jaw.

'Thought you'd never ask,' Sean says, biting Alex's lip and reaching for his pants.

Alex still makes Sean fuck him from behind. Always. Buries his chest in the floor with his hips up high. Grits his teeth and loves every second, curled up on his knees with Sean utterly silent behind him, their sobbing breaths the only real noise in the bunker, soaking wet with the sprinklers putting out the damage they've done.

The aftermath is Alex's spunk washing down one of the narrow little gutters that crisscross the polished concrete floor, and Sean's lips against his neck, whispering, 'fuck, you're good at this.'

Alex isn't sure if he means fucking or fighting. He pulls Sean to his feet and drags him to bed. When Hank finally shows up, Sean's on him like a dog on a rabbit like he hasn't come twice already, like he's starving for it. Hank's meds have worn off and he's the size of a house again. Sean gets him on his back and rides him like they're entering the Kentucky Derby.

Alex watches and jerks off lazily, and thinks, thank fuck at least something in his life works. This, the three of them, this works.

The next morning, Sean's gone.