by Northlight

Disclaimer: Marvel's world.
Written: March 14, 1999
Notes: Nothing but fluff here, people :)

Even from behind his ever present red-tinted glasses, it was a gorgeous day. The air had that peculiar feel to it that came only during that time when the world hovered between winter and spring. The snow was melting ever so slowly beneath the soft glow of the heavy sun hanging overhead, tiny, matted brown spikes of grass thrusting up through the receding drifts of snow.

And Scott Summers was enjoying a leisurely walk. Alone. No Cyclops, no X-Men, not even Jean's husband. Just... him. The part of him that all the rest was piled up upon, until everything else seemed more real than that buried piece of him. When he thought about it, Scott would usually decide that trading off that small part of himself was nothing compared to what Cyclops did for the world.

He drew in a deep breath, ignoring the slight tug of the still mildly tender scar across his abdomen. A child's high pitched squeal attracted Scott's attention, and his eyes drifted across the street towards a squat, red-bricked house. His lips quirked up into a small smile as he watched the children dash around the yard, their bulky winter boots making the melting snow fly up around them as they ran.

His steps were slow and lazy, holding no hint of the brisk, determined stride that so often marked his steps. He had nowhere to go, no reason to hurry. This day, there was time enough for everything.

The street split, and without any conscious thought, Scott turned onto the road that led towards the woods that developers had yet to destroy in their drive to put up more houses. The bare branches swayed in the distance, laughing wordlessly.

"Ah... mister?" a small, worried voice called out to him as he neared the cluster of trees that marked the beginning of the woods.

Scott glanced around, and then upwards in search of the source of the voice. He found her uneasily perched on the sturdy branch of the tree he had just drifted past. Her jeans were muddy, and her short blonde hair was wildly sticking out from her head. She looked as if she'd been enjoying her day almost as much as he had.

"Yes?" Scott asked, tucking his hands into the loose pockets of his light spring jacket. He tilted his head back slightly and waited.

"I'm stuck," the child pronounced, her voice filled with embarrassment and a touch of fear. Dirty fingernails dug into the bark of the tree, and she looked down at him beseechingly. "I was with my friends, but they went home, and I couldn't get down by myself..."

"They left you here?"

"Uh huh. I'm not good at climbing trees. I can't go as high as they can, and I'm too slow. I don't like going high, anyway," she added, looking up at the higher branches with an expression caught between terror and longing.

Scott stepped forward, his hand reaching out for a branch as he hefted himself upwards. In short order, he was perched almost within touching distance of the child. "Haven't done _that_ in a while," he smiled, patting the rough bark fondly.

"You climb trees?" the girl gasped, the whole distinction between children and grownups wavering for one unbelievable second before Scott was safely shuttled into the 'exceptions' category.

"Pretty good at it, actually," he told her, watching her eyes widen in amazement. He looked at the small, dirt smudged face consideringly. "Actually, I could probably even help you with your problem..."

"Scott?" Jean's voice floated out from the kitchen along with the tempting smell of that night's supper.

Hanging his mud smeared jacket up in the closet, Scott wandered through the boathouse towards the kitchen. He kissed Jean's cheek and cast an admiring glance towards the food piling up on the counter before settling down at the table.

Jean turned around, her smile faltering briefly before she giggled. "What happened to you?" she asked curiously, taking in his rumpled appearance.

"I was playing hero."


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