by Alicia McKenzie



DISCLAIMER: Marvel's are Marvel's, used without permission for entertainment purposes only. Nathan Thomas Guthrie and Dana Hawkes-Guthrie belong to Cascade, used with permission. Clare is mine.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Thanks to the #pc crew for helping me with the title, and especially to Jim Smith, who came up with the one I used. This story's for Cascade, who wanted a Sam story. :)

He'd stepped out for a few minutes, just to clear his head, and had wound up enthralled by the sight of the sky. Absolutely clear, almost overflowing with stars and a huge silver moon, it was the sort of sky he was more used to seeing at home in Kentucky. Sam Guthrie wondered, a little whimsically, if God had maybe transplanted it here, just for tonight.

It was late. Long, long past midnight, but he felt more awake than he'd ever been. In a way, it reminded him of the night before his wedding. He remembered being this alert then, too. Every noise, every bit of movement around him had seemed so crisp and vivid, just like tonight. And just like tonight, his mind had been racing with thoughts of how much his life was going to change.

He supposed tonight was different, though. This time, the big 'event' had already happened. Then again, he thought with a huge grin as he headed back up through the mansion to the bedroom where his--where his family was undoubtedly sound asleep, tonight was just the beginning. Sleeping up there in the cradle that had been Sam's own as a baby, beside the big four-poster bed that had been his mother's wedding gift to him and Dana, was a tiny, new little person who'd need all the love and guidance and care Sam and Dana could give him for a lot of years to come.

Sam wondered suddenly if he should be nervous. He didn't feel nervous. True, there were bound to be hard times ahead. That was the sort of world they lived in, even now, after Apocalypse's death. But it had been two and a half years now, since that day at Akkaba, and the world WAS different. The days had been brighter, ever since.

If he had anything to say about it, that'd be true for Nathan Thomas Guthrie for a long, long time to come.

*Congratulations, Sam,* Cecilia had said with a brilliant smile, carefully handing him his blanket-wrapped son. *Listen to him! Quite the set of lungs he'd got.*

Sam's grin only broadened. Little Nate had certainly been letting them know just how disgusted he was at being out in the big, cold world, but he'd been using more than his lung to do it.

*Ah have a son,* Sam thought, shaking his head. *A telepathic son, no less.* There was a lot he needed to learn. He and Dana hadn't expected this - how did a human cannonball and an empathic healer produce an alpha-level psi? - but the telepathic yowl little Nate had let loose as he was born had been pretty conclusive, according to Jean.

Right now, though, he wasn't going to think about that. He was going to go back to their bedroom, watch his son for a while, and then lie down beside his wife and wait until she woke up so that he could tell her how much he loved her.

Then again, maybe he should really try and get some sleep. Dom had pointed out rather wryly that sleep would be in short supply for him and Dana both for the next couple of years. Given that she and Nathan - the elder Nathan, and that was going to get a little confusing, maybe - had a two year old, Sam was inclined to take her word for it.

The upstairs hall was just as quiet, and Sam moved carefully, determined not to wake anyone up. It had been a long day all around--while Dana had been giving birth, a team of X-Men had been off fighting an outbreak of Prime Sentinels. *Just par for the course, ah suppose.* Reaching the door of the little apartment the team had built for him and Dana as a wedding present, he hesitated, surprised to see it open, just a little.

Sam peered through into the sitting room, more than a little bemused to see Nathan Summers in one of the armchairs, holding his barely eight hour-old namesake and staring out the window at the starry night. Hastily, Sam pulled all the shields he could muster around himself, and listened curiously.

"I'm sure your father will be a little annoyed with me, to find I've got you out of your crib," Cable - no, Nathan, Sam corrected himself meticulously; he didn't go by Cable anymore - said softly. "But you've got the next few years to spend sleeping--and crying, and playing, and running your parents ragged. You'll find out. It's fun to be your age."

There was a faint gurgle from little Nate, and Sam couldn't help a smile. It sounded almost like he was agreeing with Nathan.

"But you and I needed to have a little talk, before you got on with all of that," Nathan continued, his left eye glowing faintly in the darkness. Little Nate gurgled again, a tiny fist waving almost threateningly, and Sam saw Nathan smile. "No, I'm not going to lecture you. I'll save that for when you're old enough to appreciate it."

Sam stifled a chuckle. "I'm sure you're enormously relieved to hear that," Nathan went on dryly, shifting the baby in his arms, a little awkwardly.

Sam pursed his lips, watching with a sort of helpless wariness. Nathan was still feeling the effects of what Apocalypse had done to him in that last fight at Akkaba, and they all knew it. It wasn't that he thought his old teacher and surrogate father was actually going to drop his son, but there was a little nervous part of him that pointed out the possibility and insisted on watching like a hawk, just in case.

"I was tempted to roast your parents over a slow fire when they told me what they were going to name you," Nathan continued, conversationally. "I mean, what a legacy to give an innocent little baby. I feel sorry for you, I really do."

Little Nate actually cooed, and the expression on Nathan's face softened. "You just had to turn out a telepath, didn't you?" he said, wryly and much more softly. "I suppose it was fate. But you're part of something much larger, too, you know. A whole new generation to inherit this brave new world of ours." He sighed heavily and closed his eyes for a moment. Sam frowned a little at the way his expression tightened, as if with pain. "I'm so tired of thinking about the bigger picture," he said, as if confessing something. "Oath, I'm just tired, period."

That soft, gnawing ache of worry reappeared in the pit of Sam's stomach. They'd all noticed that Nathan had his good days and his bad days, even now. It had taken him a long time to get back to anything even approaching his old self, and there was part of Sam that still hurt every time he saw Nathan hobbling across a room, leaning so heavily on that damned cane. It didn't seem fair--

"But I'm not complaining," Nathan said with a soft, grating chuckle. Little Nate cooed again, and Nathan's smile returned. "I never expected to have this, you know. This life--and it's a wonderful life. I'll introduce you to your--cousins, in a few days. You'll like them. That's the key, really. Get you used to being with other telepaths your age, make it all natural for you--then you won't have any problems learning to be comfortable with your powers. Comfort's the important thing. Control can come later."

Sam shook his head slowly, grinning again. *Damn, but he's mellowed.*

"Your parents will help. They're not telepaths, but that's not important. You'll never feel anything but love from them," Nathan went on, his voice softening again. "Take it from me, kid, you lucked out in that department. They had their heads screwed on right long before they ever ran into me and my corrupting ways--" A strangled chuckle escaped Sam before he could stop it. "Although they picked up bad habits from me," Nathan said sagely, without even hesitating. "For example, your father's standing out there in the hall eavesdropping. Now, he NEVER would have done that before I got my hands on him. He used to be SUCH a well-mannered boy."

"Ah wouldn't be too sure," Sam said with a rueful grin, pushing the door open and walking into the room. He kept his voice deliberately low. "So, sir, you and your namesake seem t'be havin' a good talk. Even though he should be asleep beside his ma, at the moment--"

"He was fussing," Nathan said. "I didn't want him to wake Dana up, so I ducked in and brought him out here for a few minutes. Just until he settled down."

"Fussing?" Sam asked curiously, sitting down in the other chair. "How'd you hear him doing that?"

Nathan gave him a deadpan look. "I was listening."

"Yeah, but you and Dom and Clare're stayin' over on the other side of the mansion." Sam tilted her head at Nathan, consideringly. "What, couldn't you sleep?"

"No, I was listening," Nathan repeated quietly. "And yes, I was on the other side of the house when I heard him." The corner of his mouth quirked upwards slightly. "He wasn't fussing aloud."

Sam blinked. "Was he loud?" he asked tentatively. "Ah mean, if he's that loud, ah suppose I need t'ask Hank or someone to rig up some shielding--ah don't want him to be wakin' up all the telepaths in the house."

"He wasn't loud," Nathan said, smiling down at the baby. "Not loud at all."

"Okay," Sam said, feeling slightly helpless as he got up. "Well--ah suppose ah should put him back t'bed. If you're--um, done talking."

"He does seem to have settled," Nathan said calmly, turning the smile on Sam. It was a warm, calm, utterly unself-conscious smile, and it looked so out of place on his face that Sam caught himself staring. "Baby?" Nathan finally offered, holding little Nate out to him.

"Oh--right," Sam said lamely, retrieving his son and carefully taking him into the bedroom to lay him back in the crib. He hesitated, seeing Dana curled a little awkwardly on the bed, and went over to pull the blanket up over her. She cracked an eye open as he leaned over her, and smiled tiredly. She was very pale, but still had something of that glow she'd had down in the infirmary, hours before.

"Say goodnight to Nathan," she said in an amused-sounding whisper, "and then come to bed."

Sam kissed her gently. "You go to sleep," he said, mock-sternly. It hadn't been a very long labor, or a particularly hard one - or so Cecilia had assured him; it had looked pretty damned painful and awful to him - but she still needed her rest. "Ah'll be right in."

Nathan had already gotten up and started to limp towards the door when Sam emerged back into the sitting room. "Hey, sir," he said softly, and Nathan hesitated, turning back towards him. "Thanks for sittin' with Nate."

"My pleasure," Nathan said, very softly. "I intend to make myself a nuisance, you realize. Your son's--very special to me." He paused for a moment. "We both know I'm unlikely to see my own grandchildren."

He didn't know whether it was just the long day, or all the emotions still chasing each other around and around in his head, but Sam's eyes suddenly blurred with tears, and he blinked rapidly. "Ah'd be honored if you thought of Nate as your grandson," he said hoarsely. "There's a reason we named him after you, y'know. He couldn't have a much better role model."

"I beg to differ," Nathan said wryly. "I think he'd be better off looking to his father for that." That smile came back, and Sam found himself returning it. "But I'll be just as honored to be a grandfather to him. I suspect I'll be his teacher, as well--that's one powerful little telepath you've got there, son."

Sam laughed a little weakly, rubbing his eyes. *Son,* he thought. *Been a long time since he called me that.* "Already?" he asked with another feeble chuckle. "He isn't even twelve hours old, yet."

"I can tell," Nathan murmured. "One of those things." He stared past Sam, towards the bedroom. "Go get some sleep," he said, almost sternly. "She won't sleep until you're there, and you're both going to need it."

"Dom said the exact same thing."

"Dom knows whereof she speaks," Nathan drawled. "Especially since I was more or less bedridden for the first few months of Clare's life. Dom wound up with a lot of the midnight feedings." He stared down at Sam, his gaze very direct. "I meant what I said to your son," he said, much more softly. "He really did luck out in the parent department. You and Dana are going to do just fine."

"Thanks," Sam said, his voice rough with emotion, and stepped forward to embrace the older man before Nathan could move away. "Thanks for--aw, where the hell do ah start?"

Nathan patted him gently on the back. "I can't believe you named him after me," he said gruffly, a suspicious catch to his voice. "I still say you've cursed him for life."

Sam pulled back, grinning helplessly. "So, you want to throw in an Askani blessing or something, to balance it off, then?" he offered, ducking his head to rub at his eyes, but careful to keep a grip on Nathan's arm until he steadied himself. "Ah'm sure you've got a few--"

"Not quite my style," Nathan said, just as gruffly. "Curses, now, I can manage curses--"

"Yeah, yeah, ah know all about your curses," Sam said, still grinning. "Dana translated a bunch of them for me. And if you think ah want to have you wishing ulcers and impotence on mah family to the tenth generation, sir, you've got another think coming."

"Oh, have a little faith," Nathan scoffed. "I've got one. It's not Askani, but I think it fits." His gaze went distant for a moment. "'May he have warm words on a cold evening, a full moon on a dark night, and the road downhill all the way to his door'," he said, very softly. Sam stared at him, and his mouth curved in a sardonic smile. "Overly sentimental drivel, I know."

"No, ah like that," Sam said softly. "Ah really like that."

"I suspected you would." Nathan hobbled towards the door, hesitating for a moment and giving Sam an almost mischievous look. "You know what the best part of grandfatherhood's going to be?"

"What?" Sam asked.

"When his diaper needs changing," Nathan continued, an utterly mundane and merry twinkle in his eye, "I get to hand him back." Sam chuckled, and Nathan waved a hand at him, almost dismissively. "Go to bed, boy," he ordered.

"Yes, sir," Sam said. The door shut softly behind Nathan, and Sam gave a deep, contented sigh, wandering over to the window for a moment, for one last look out at the stars.

Life was good, he decided. And went to bed.


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