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Act 3, Chapter 9: The Cold

*One Day Later*

Alex shivered as he woke up. His room was quiet. The only noise was the slight breeze flowing through one of the windows.

Turning; slightly, he watched as the nights sky still hung high.

He couldn’t sleep. So much had happened.

Climbing from his bed, he glanced at the clock which read 2:02am. Throwing on a shirt and jogging shorts, he moved from his room and down the hall.

He passed Liam’s room and thought about knocking, but in the end decided to let the other boy sleep. They’d have chance to talk tomorrow… he hoped.

Moving towards the common area, Alex opened the door and looked across the darkened room. He almost jumped as he found someone sat in the darkness, facing the window and looking out into the night.

Turning on the light; he found Brianna sat there, her injured leg rested on the table as she blinked slightly, her eyes adjusting to the sudden intrusion of brightness.

“Hey.” Alex whispered as he closed the door. “Couldn’t sleep?”

Brianna shook her head, sighing slightly as she shifted her leg.

“Leg?”

“No… they injected me with this saline chemical… I don’t know what it does but… I can’t feel any pain. They said it’ll be healed in a couple of days.” Brianna began as she flexed her knee, feeling no pain.

“Well… I’ll leave you to your thoughts.” Alex turned to leave the room, seeing that Brianna had other things on her mind.

“No… wait. Sit with me?” She offered, patting the couch next to her.

Nodding, he moved down onto the couch and gently came to rest next to her.

“I’m sorry…”

“Sorry?” Alex asked, looking quizzical as he turned to face her. “Sorry for what?”

“Everything… if my stupid sister hadn’t kidnapped us… we’d have been there to…” Brianna couldn’t finish the sentence as she finally looked up to Alex. “I’m sorry about your dad.”

Alex blinked a few times, before shaking his head.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. Not a thing. My dad… he died doing what he loved. And he was avenged. So please, don’t ever say you’re sorry for that. Because it was not your fault. It truly wasn’t.”

Smiling, Alex then leant over and hugged Brianna, who returned it.

“I think this is our first ever hug.” Brianna whispered slightly as they held it for a moment.

“Well don’t get used to it… you’re still a snob.”

“And you’re still a brat.”

They smiled into each other’s shoulders, before Alex pulled away and chuckled slightly.

“Have they been taken to the Cage?” Alex asked as the tone turned serious once again, regarding Brianna’s eldest sister and comrades.

“They have… never to return I should imagine…” Brianna turned back to the window then. “I have to ring my grandmother tomorrow… she has to know the truth.”

Nodding, Alex merely sat in silence with Brianna. Both unable to sleep. So they just sat there and watched as the night time faded into the day, high above New York City.

-

Liam awoke at 9am. He stretched, and gently floated himself from his bed to his wardrobe.

Walking was for losers anyway.

After checking himself out in the mirror, he got dressed and headed for breakfast. He couldn’t stop thinking about Alex, but he knew the other boy might not feel the same. He needed to respect that.

As Liam wandered in, he found Brianna fast asleep on the couch, gently snoring into a pillow. Alex and Mason were sat in the kitchen, gently chatting as Liam approached.

“…and that’s when I said, don’t you dare use that pineapple as a football.” Mason finished before turning and smiling at Liam. “Morning.”

Totally blanking Mason, Liam smiled at Alex who smiled back.

“Morning.” Alex began as Mason looked between them confused.

“Am I missing something?” The third wheel asked as Liam just gently shook his head.

“Not at all. Ooh waffles.” Liam suddenly began digging into the huge plate that one of the Shield Cooks had prepared, almost as if he was trying to distract himself from staring at someone. “I love waffles.”

“We can see, slow down or you’ll choke.” Mason chuckled as Alex sat down on the other side of the counter. “Plans for the day?”

“Off to see my mom and brother… they’ve been keeping it together without dad but… I do worry.” Alex countered as he bit into his breakfast.

“Right, well I was thinking, we hit Jimmy’s tomorrow night! All of us. It’ll be nice for us to hang out together.” Mason stated as he threw a pillow at Brianna. “You in?”

“Go to hell.” Brianna responded groggily before falling back into the couch.

“She’s in. Alex?” Mason asked, tapping the counter as he turned to the boy opposite him.

“I’m in… are you?” Alex asked Liam, who finally looked up from his food.

“Yeah. Sure, should be fun.”

“Just try not to get into a fight this time.” Mason prodded Liam, whose smiled turned into a glare as Mason backed up. “Twas a joke.”

Liam merely sighed, smiled at Alex and returned to his waffles.

“Right, I’ll go and find Brittany and Anthony! Sleeping in those lazybones.”

-

As Anthony awoke, he was sure he could hear Brittany yelling at Mason that it was too early and that he just go fall off a building.

Stretching, he felt the presence next to him move as he looked over.

Abbie lay there, her hair tangled in her right hand as she lay asleep.

Since their one night stand, they’d actually met up and dated a couple of times. They weren’t exactly going out but… they were more than friends with benefits. He examined her features.

She really was beautiful from her toes to her hair.

A knock on the door and Anthony was at it in a heartbeat.

“Hey Ant I”-

Mason was cut off as he looked down slightly, then back up at Anthony with a huge blush on his face.

“Erm… you’re naked…”

Realising this, Anthony moved with intense speed once again as he put jogging shorts on.

“Carry on.”

“Erm… Jimmy’s tomorrow night?” Mason asked as he tried to look past Anthony, as if he knew someone else was there.

Blocking him, Anthony slowly began to draw the door closed.

“Sure. I’ll see you later.”

Before Mason could respond, Anthony had closed the door as Abbie woke up.

“Morning.”

“Morning.” She responded as she admired his form. “Round 2?”

Smirking, Anthony whipped off his shorts again, and climbed back into bed. And back into bliss.

-

Alex approached his Shield issued car. He was looking forward to seeing Caitlyn and Jack again, hoping they’d missed him as much as he had missed them.

“Wait.”

Turning back, Alex found Liam approaching him.

“Hey, you o-”

Alex was cut off as lips crashed into his. Stumbling slightly, he almost dropped his keys as Liam pushed him against the car.

“I thought we should talk.” Liam chuckled slightly as he bit Alex’s lip.

“I want to as well… because this… whatever… this is. I like it.” Alex stated as he placed his hands on Liam’s well rounded chest. “But I’ll be late if I’m any longer.”

Sighing, Liam released his grip and stepped back a little.

“Fiiiiiine.” He moaned as Alex chuckled slightly. “We can talk at Jimmy’s I guess.”

Winking, Alex kissed his cheek in a way that showed he was almost unsure of himself, and then climbed into the car. Waving him off, Alex watched as Liam continued to watch him until he left the garage.

He wasn’t sure what all this was but… he thought he liked it.

-

“Mom?” Alex asked as he entered the house, before coming to a hard stop.

Caitlyn, Joe, Jack and Iris were all in the living room.

“ALEX!” Jack exploded, running across the room and diving at his brother. “You’re back!”

Alex just sort of stood there with a confused look on his face as Jack hugged him.

“Why are you so happy to see me?” Alex whispered and Jack laughed slightly.

It annoyed him that his little brother of 3 years was now taller than him.

“I was worried! But ya see, SHIELD always gets there guys home!” Jack stated proudly and Alex just stared as his mother hugged Alex.

“Mom. Are you ok? Has everything been ok?” Alex asked as he stepped from her hug.

“Yes sweetie, all is well… at least, it was. Until your brother and Iris had… a thought.” Caityln stated as Joe and Iris waved to Alex.

“Joe, Iris. Nice to see you both… day off Joe?”

“It was meant to be… but these two have other ideas.” Joe smirked before shaking his head, clearly not amused.

“Why? What have I walked into?”

“Alex… me and Iris, we’re going to join SHIELD. We’re going to be agents.”

Alex just sat down then. Straight on the floor. Staring up at them both, he was trying to find the words to say as Joe paced the room and Caitlyn just leant against the wall.

And then.

“Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!” Alex burst into laughter as he looked between them.

“Why is he laughing?” Iris whispered to Jack, who merely shrugged as his brother continued to laugh.

“HAHAHAHA!!!! Hahahahahahahahahahah! ABSOLUTELY NOT!” Alex’s tone went from fun to deadly serious without a heartbeat. “I will not allow you to put yourself in danger like that, or drag Iris with you.”

“Hey it’s my choice!” Jack shot back as Alex rose, getting in his older brothers face. “You can’t stop me.”

“Oh watch me. If I have to control the bodies of the person who checks the applications, I’ll do it. You’re not joining Shield. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.” Alex exclaimed as he pushed his brother out of his face. “You have college, you have a future. Live it. Don’t wind up being some Agent who faces near death situations every day.”

“Dad would have let me!”

“Well Dad’s dead so get over it!”

Alex felt all colour drain from his face as soon as he said it, and was so shocked at his own words that he didn’t even see Jack’s punch coming. It met his jaw, and with a solid crack sent Alex stumbling back.

“ENOUGH!” Caitlyn yelled as she stepped forward, but it was too late for that as both Iris and Joe took about twenty steps backwards.

“No mom… he wants to be a Shield agent, let’s see how well he can fight. You gotta know to be SHIELD.” Alex held up a hand to his mom, who stopped in place. He wasn’t using his power, but his mother almost agreed with his tactic here. Scare his brother into submission. “Come on Jack, fight me!”

“I’m not… I’m not fighting you.”

“No?” Alex laughed as he felt the blood from his lip begin to run down his chin. “Well that’s tough; because in the field, you don’t get a choice.”

Pulling his punch so as not to hurt his brother, he hit Jack straight in the stomach. Enraged, Jack lunged at him, but Alex blocked his grapple, twisted his arm, kicked his leg from underneath him and slammed his face into the floor.

“You wouldn’t last two seconds out there. You’ll die.”

Releasing his grip, Alex stumbled up the room as Jack picked himself up.

“It’s my life… and I can do what I want… I just want to help people! Like Dad…. Like you!”

Pausing, Alex looked back to his sibling. Gone was the anger, gone was the rage, he just felt the need to look after Jack as stared at his little brother.

Suddenly he was five again, Alex was eight. And he knew his only job was to protect Jack from anything… but Jack wasn’t five anymore.

“… I won’t stop you applying… but… I don’t like this.” With that, Alex moved to the kitchen as Jack and Iris smiled to each other, despite the atmosphere around them.

Wetting paper towel, he dabbed his split lip as the blood flow began to slow.

“You ok?” Joe asked as he entered the kitchen, and Alex nodded in reply. “I’m glad you’re home safe… I can’t believe there going to do this.”

“Me neither… maybe we can have a word with Maria… maybe she’ll be able to help.”

“Who?”

Alex looked at Joe then, scrunching his brow as he chuckled slightly.

“Ya know Joe… your boss… Director Rodriquez.” Alex punched him in the arm as Joe looked confused.

“Alex… there is no Director Rodriquez. Only Director Rojas… are you feeling alright? He welcomed you into SHIELD and everything.” Joe chuckled as he nudged Alex back. “How hard did Jack hit you haha?”

With that, Joe left the room and Alex merely stood there, totally perplexed.

“Wtf is a Rojas.”

-

Brittany found herself being escorted by Shield agents up to see the Director.

Apparently Maria needed something from her. Brianna had been up before her, and Anthony, Liam, Mason and Alex were all to follow.

Standing in the waiting room, she was told to stay there by the guards as they entered the office.

“Do you know what Maria wants to see me about?” Brittany asked the receptionist, who merely looked up at her with a blank expression.

“Who’s Maria?”

Brittany creased her brow, but before she could say anything further, the doors opened. A small man exited, his features complex and yet ever so plain.

“Hello. You must be Brittany. I am Director Rojas.” Nathan stated as he fixed his tie.

“Wait… no… this isn’t right, where’s Maria!?”

“Maria… Maria Who?”

His eyes became slits then, and it was almost as if he was hissing as he spoke.

“There was never a Maria here. I have always been your Director. I have always looked after you. Made you strong. Kept you happy. You will obey my every command. And you will never question them.”

Brittany blinked a couple of times, and her memories morphed, changed. She remembered Director Rojas helping them learn their powers. They saved him in New York when Jessica attacked. He helped them find Trevor.

“Sorry… sir… I don’t know what I was thinking. Did you need me for something?” Brittany asked as she smiled.

“No dear… that will be all.” Nathan smiled as he waved her goodbye.

As she left, Nathan smiled slightly as he felt his power beginning to connect the whole building.

“That will be all… for all of you….”


Submitted: April 01, 2018

© Copyright 2022 Torchwood Boy. All rights reserved.

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