Time Out

by Cosmic



Disclaimer: Marvel’s Marvel’s, mine’s mine.

Notes: *sighs* You should never offer evil people random story titles, it can only lead to trouble and bloodshed. And getting a fic idea of your own to match. Sequel to Timesprite’s Blue Pancakes and Homemade Coffee. This work of fanfiction actually fits in current canon, somewhere in the six-month gap.

Thanks to Lyssie, the fabulous beta’er. And also thanks to the evil Timey for her (evil) suggestions. Feedback of any kind would be loved at cosmic1982@hotmail.com

I stepped into the diner, hoping I wouldn’t collapse from starvation before I reached a table and ordered something. The diner was almost empty, so finding a quiet comfortable booth in the back wasn’t so hard.

I smoothed back my hair. I must have looked like hell. I hadn’t slept for days, or changed clothes, or anything. I had been on the road for days now. And it was 7 am and I was so fucking tired I didn’t even know the day of the week.

I looked around, trying to make sure this place was secure. I needed to get back on the road, back before they could find me.

“Hey, there. I’m Elaina.” The voice startled me. I looked up to find a waitress, smiling down at me, with a coffee pot and a cup in her hand. “Here’s some coffee to start you off.”

I smiled gratefully, taking a sip of the cherished liquid. This was heaven.

“Why don’t you look at a list and I’ll be back in a few minutes to take your order,” she offered, pointing at the menus on the table.

I decided I liked her. She had a nice, friendly voice with a lovely southern lilt that was barely noticeable and her whole demeanor just said ‘friendly’. Strawberry blond hair cascaded in waves on her shoulder as she tried to keep it from falling on her face, failing in the effort.

I smiled back at her, nodding, and took one of the menus. “Wait,” I croaked. I blushed, hearing how hoarse my own voice was. Not talking to anybody in days does that, I reasoned.

The waitress turned back to look me. “Yes?”

“Can you recommend anything?” I asked, taking a long gulp of warm coffee, hoping my voice was relatively normal when I started talking again. “I’m up for anything, really. And considering that you work here, you probably know what’s best here.” I realized I was starting to babble. I didn’t babble. That just wasn’t me. So why the hell was I babbling?

“Well, the blueberry pancakes, or as we call ‘em, blue pancakes, are a specialty here,” she answered, giving me another one of her 200 megawatt-smiles.

I gasped, feeling a sudden wave of emotion go through me. Blue pancakes. Wow, that took me back. To a time when all was still happy, before the gathering of the Twelve, before Scott dying, before *everything*. Before it all shot straight to hell.

Everything had been so simple then. Waking up, making love, laughing, eating blueberry pancakes and making fun of his quite good cooking skills.

Unlike now. The last time I had seen him, I had tried to kill him, because of the Undying. I couldn’t go to him now, no matter how badly I needed his help. The wounds very still too raw.

Suddenly I felt someone tugging at my sleeve. “Ma’am? Ma’am, are you all right?” I lifted my eyes at Elaina, looking at me with bright, concerned blue eyes, eyes like Sam’s, actually, trying very hard not to panic.

I shuddered and pushed all the newly risen memories back to where they belonged, somewhere in the recesses of my mind, in a dark corner with all the other things I wanted to keep out of sight and mind.

I smiled. Albeit weakly, embarrassed by the scene I had made. “I’m fine. Thank you, Elaina. It’s...” I trailed off, getting the strange feeling of wanting to share this with somebody. A waitress was like a bartender, right? You could tell them things and they’d listen. “It’s been a long week.”

That should be explanation enough. I didn’t need to tell her my deepest and darkest secrets. I turned to quickly go through the menu.

She nodded sympathetically. “I know that feeling.” Probably knowing I wouldn’t share more than this. “Would you like to order now?

Glancing at the list briefly, I looked back at her. “You know what? Blue pancakes and homemade coffee sound pretty good right about now.”

Elaina nodded and left to fetch me my breakfast. I slumped back to my chair, feeling the familiar wave of memories again. Nate had been so at peace, then, doing the dishes and throwing suds at me and humming some stupid tune from the radio as I giggled at the blueberry stains on his shirt. That was the way I liked to remember him.

Not as the man I had tried to kill just months ago. I wasn’t exactly in full command of all of my senses then, but still, it haunted my nightmares. I saw me, trying to him and couldn’t do a thing to stop it from happening. I couldn’t even scream.

My musings were stopped by someone walking towards my booth. I tensed. “There you go, ma’am.” Elaina handed me my steaming plate of pancakes, smiling.

I visibly relaxed, realizing who it was. As she left I sighed in relief, feeling so fucking stupid once again. Everybody wasn’t out to get me. I could be as scared as I wanted to be, but I didn’t have to be this obvious about it.

I was just tired. Tired from being on the road for too many days. Tired from watching over my back every waking moment. Tired of being scared. Tired because I was just tired.

I wolfed down some pancakes, smiling slightly as the picture of Nathan with flour on his cheek came into my mind. The picture was soon replaced by one more recent ones. Him fencing off my attacks, regret evident on his face.

I didn’t want that to be the last image of him I ever saw. I didn’t want guilt. I didn’t want regret. I didn’t want horror. I wanted Nate, but I couldn’t get him. Not now. Not yet. Maybe after this mess, (if I get out alive,) I could go see him. We could make a fresh start, then. Clean slate. Tabula rasa.

For now, though, he wasn’t supposed to be an issue. Not now. I had enough things on my mind. I was running scared and I needed to get help before Marcus Tsung got to me. I needed help, because I couldn’t handle this on my own. And the only people I could go to were X-Force. X-Force and Pete. They’d help me. Maybe I’d stop being scared when I got there.

I glanced at my plate, noting its emptiness. Those pancakes had been good, even if they weren’t as good as Nathan’s. Even the coffee was half-decent, though it wasn’t quite the same as...

I wiped a stray tear from my eye, trying so damn hard not to think about him. About him or about blue pancakes and homemade coffee.


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