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Lurking Fear [IC]


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Mike had returned late that night and barely slept before slipping out of his room trying not to wake Mark. He wandered the campus avoiding the more populous parts of the campus, not that much of it was particularly busy in the early hours of dawn in the summer but none the less.

Once the morning chill had burned off and the hour seemed to him at least to be more reasonable he made his way to Chris' room. He didn't really know why he was even here but he had done something to set Chris' off and wanted at least to apologize for that. He had resolved in his wandeings to repair his friendships with Boht him and Erin and hoped this would be the easier one.

He stood at the door for several long seconds before knocking, it was firm but no louder than would be polite.

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Chris had been out the night before. Some pursesnatchers had been running a racket on Riverside, and he'd followed them back to their base of operations. It had got messy, and he'd crawled out of there in a good deal of pain.

Rolling out of bed, still in costume, he answered the door bleary-eyed and stiff from lying in an odd position. "Hey, Mike. What can I do for you?"

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Mike had tried to wait till he thought Chris'd be up, apparently the noctuornal hero thing cause a little different schedual than he had expected.

"Uhm, sorry to wake you." Mike said nervously this didn't seem like a good start to working out whatever had upset his friend the day before but leaving now would be worse. "Wanted to apologize for yesterday, It's been a rough week and I might have overstated things." Mike Shifted nervously in the door. He wasn't really that good with the talking in general and this whole thing had him less comfortable than usual but he was making the effort.

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"Hey...Who is it?" Eddie sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes. "Oh, hey Mike!" Eddie's face suddenly brightened. Tired as he was he was always glad to see a friend.

Just then it occurred to him that he had no recollection of Chris getting back the night before. Damn, he is good!

"Well what are you waiting for, Chris, why don't you let him in?" Eddie made an attempt to stand up out of bed, but one of his legs got caught in the sheets, and tripped him up. *Whump* he hit the ground. He righted himself and stood up. He was wearing a pair of long pajama pants and a t-shirt. The pajama pants had a Guitar pattern on them, and the t-shirt was a ratty old "Generation Swine" t-shirt (Featuring Motley Crue, and a giant word "Pig." on the back). Eddie chuckled to himself as he stood. "Ugh...I hate it when just waking up makes you a klutz!"

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"Yeah, come in dude. Pull up a seat." Chris leaned against the wall and stripped off his gloves and belt, rubbing his brow. "I'm not annoyed at you really, dude. I just wanted to smash your head against the wall, because I can't let you carry on with this train wreck of teen angst. Can you see where I'm coming from?"

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Mike stepped in closing the door behind himself to slid down to sit on the floor as it seemed simpler than navigating to one of the piles that might be a chair.

He sighed heavily, "I know I'm not exactly Mr. Sunshine, living with Mark has proven that much." he said with a laugh as he toyed with a loose carpet fiber. "Alot of people think I should just be excited or happy about what I can do, they don't really think out what exactly it means to be able to do what I can do." He glanced up at Chris and Eddie nervously.

Mikes face was strained for a moment, "I have to watch my every move, take care with every action, or else things can go really badly." he tried to explain but wasn't really able to discuss the root of his problem.

"Anyway," He said shaking his mind free of the past, "I'm not trying to say I have it worse than everyone else, honestly I've really done pretty well considering."

"I dunno, I didn't mean to minimize the good stuff going on with what I was saying before." He said with a sigh "I'm not so good with this kinda stuff, my old school wasn't very big and we didn't spend much time with other kids."

He tossed up his hands not sure what more to say.

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Eddie smiled. This might actually be easier than he thought it would be. Provided Mike was willing to work with him. "It sounds like your problem is actually quite different than what you think it is." Eddie threw a pile of clothes from his chair onto his bead, and then sat down. The back of the chair faced Mike and Eddie sat in a reversed fashion on it.

"The entire time I have known you, you have been worrying yourself sick about what you can't let yourself do." Eddie gave Mike a reassuring smile. "But after what you just said, it sounds more like your worried because you don't know what you SHOULD be doing."

Eddie crossed his arms across the back of the chair and laid his head down on top of them. "Not knowing how to control your powers is not something I am qualified to tutor on. Being better at making friends and expressing yourself, however, is something that I am very good at." Eddie's bright, cheerful, trademarked smile shown across the room.

It's gonna be alright, man. Just let us help you. Please! He thought hopefully.

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Confusion passed across Mikes face for a moment as apparently Chis had taken his apology for a request of some kind. Now both Eddie and Chris certainly were more comfortable in social situations Mike was less certain that thier particular brad of socializing was for him.

On the otherhand he had just worked things out so reacting with the horror he felt at the idea of trying to act like Eddie probably wasn't the best bet. Instead he decided to direct the enthusiasm towards something he actually did feel the need to correct.

"Alright," He said non-comitally, "How about this then."

He gathered his thoughts for a moment not wanting to go into to many details, "Summers suggested Erin and I work together on some training." His next pause was weighty and he was clearly trying to decide how much detail to go into, "It didn't go well." He fianlly said.

"The training was kinda pointless but we got into a bit of an argument over our philosophies and she's been pissed at me since." As he finished speaking Mike tossed his hands up and waited for them to offer what advice they could.

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"Ok, obvious questions first: have you talked to her about it?" Chris said, reclining in a chair. "It basically boils down to as simple as that. There's not much you can do otherwise. You both need to sit down and talk about it without trying to throw each other into the sun or something."

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Mike shrugged uncomfortably at the question, it wasn't really that he was afriad of talking to Erin about the fight just thet he was pretty sure he'd just make it worse.

"Nah, not yet, I mean my mouth is what got the whole thing started I don't wanna just make it worse." He explained.

With a laugh he continued "Like I said I'm not exactly up on the nuances fo interactions here, I'm still not certain what set her off int he first place."

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Eddie shrugged, helpless. "Whatever does? Women! We will never understand them!" Eddie smiled. This was going quite well so far. Mike had deflected the subject matter, but Eddie was confident it would eventually come back around.

"Erin is always touchy. Sometimes it is simply best to agree with someone even if you don't like it on the inside. There is something to be said for just 'getting along'. I do it all the time with her. It's probably why my head is still attached to my neck." Eddie shrugged again. "Sometimes these things just can't be helped. But you will find that if you are willing to try and agree with someone, they usually are willing to compromise, or at the very least, not talk about whatever subject is the source of the argument."

And idea suddenly popped into Eddie's head. "You remember the first day that I met you, and I touched a nerve? I agreed I wouldn't talk about it, and I haven't. I have a feeling that these situations are alike. Also, it never hurts to apologize, even if you think you are right. That's what I did, and now we seem to get along okay. You never know when you might upset someone by saying something you think is totally innocuous."

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Mike let slip a half smile at Eddies joke and managed not to look too uncomfortable whent he subject switched back to his own uncomfortable truths.

"I can see where you're coming from Eddie but I don't think this is the kinda issue either of us can just ignore if we're gonna work together." Mike said finally, adding, "I think Chris is right and I should just try and talk it out and not let my temper get away from me."

Of course the closest either of the other boys had seen to Mike losing his temper was his occasional sulk about this or that nothing one would say would start a fight.

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"'Course I'm right. Talking to people is my thing. Unless they're mind-controlling mutant hookers. Bad times." He pondered for a second. "Why exactly do you think you struggle to talk to people? Is it this confined program you got put in? Because I think what you really need to do is just man up and talk to people whether you feel awkward or not."

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Mike frowned at Chris' oversimplifacation of the issue, "The program was almost all private tutoring, inter-mixed with tests and couseling, not really conducive to knowing what to say to people and not piss them off. So yea I tend to ere on the side of not upsetting everyone, well I try but aparently am not so hot with that." He explained, he realized he was rambling and cut himself off.

"Anyway yea you may be right, no way but practice to get it right I guess." Mike wasn't really sure what exactly to practice but sitting on the sidelines letting Alex do the talking seemed to be a fast fading option and he said as much. "I dunno Alex has always been better at this stuff anyway, did all kinds of research before we starrted here to see what normal school would be like and prepare us." Mike shrugged, "But she said basically the same thing, but to try not to dig the hole deeper."

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"A wise man once told me that the best way to learn things is through practice and youtube." Eddie tried the joke to lighten the mood. "On a more serious note, your right. You have to try and make things better without digging your own grave." Eddie smiled. This was working! "That being said, the best way to go about this might just be to leave it alone for a little while. You have to be careful with this though. If you leave it alone for too long, she will think you don't care. But if you attack the issue too soon, you risk it being too sensitive still." Eddie smiled again. "Don't worry though. That's what you've got us for, right Chris? We're here to help you out!"

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Mike nodded, "Sure giving it a few days will let me cool off some too." He said though he had shown almost no signs in the course of the conversation fo being upset so much as penitent.

"I appreciate the advise guys, Its helped alot." He said though he continued to neatly skirt discussion of the Mark, Alex situation. Mike still wasn't sure exactly how he felt about that other than awkward. Until Chris had mentioned it he hadn't ever really thought about him and Alex in that fashion however since it had been brought up he was less certain how platonic his feelings were, its not like there was anyone else he could really compare, well Erin but thatwas a big enough mess without contemplating that.

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"Trouble is, dude, you can fix this, but what happens if something screws up again? Or again? I'm not saying you have to become emotional as a toddler, but you're about as repressed as a man with a stick rammed right up his... well, you know what I mean. I think your trouble is that you don't think you should let people know how you feel. You're scared of pissing people off, even if it's the right thing to do. I mean, it's not ideal, but sometimes you just need to go piss someone off. A small problem to stop a long-term one."

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Mike looked somewhat blankly at Chris unsure exactly what they were talking about. "So what big problem is that supposed to avoid?" He asked.

"I mean, I know I can't just hold everything in all the time or else it'll get out of hand and I'll just blow up and lose it." He said with a sigh, "I know lots of ways to blow off steam without having to be rude."

He really didn't want to go to indepth into whatever repression Chris felt he had as the initial metaphor was bothersome enough without further explanation.

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"The big problem is that the only time you seem to let someone know how you feel, you end up getting real mad at them." Eddie talked with his hands as well as his mouth. "There really is no end to the problems that can cause. People may be afraid of offending you, or might not consult you when they should. They might think that to get any sort of solid opinion out of you it means having to put up with a possible argument."

Eddie switch positions in the chair so that he could avoid having his legs cramp up this early in the morning. "Take the Alex issue for instance," Eddie tried broaching the subject once more. "How do you know that she doesn't like you. You never talk about it with her. At least not that I can see. I don't know what goes on with that mental link of yours. So if it turns out that you do like her, and she likes you, but you never express yourself, well, Mark ends up 'getting the girl' as they say." Eddie thought for one more second before opening his mouth again. "It's really not a problem of how to let off steam. Its more of an issue with the fact that you're not letting your steam power the right engines. You're just kind of sticking it all in the hot water heater when you should be using it to move a locomotive instead. It's a terrible analogy I know, but I can't really think of anything better this early in the morning."

Maybe I can dig up some song lyrics that would fit this situation...

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Mike shrugged uncomfortably, "Yea I guess I come off a little too intense at times." If that wasn't the understatement of the year who knows what was but Mike seemed unaware of that fact. He really thought that he wasn't that argumentative and but for the several issues bound to come up when discussing heroics he was actually very even keeled.

At the discussion of Alex once more Mike decided that there was some kind of serious misunderstanding of the nature of thier relationship, and not in the way he had first thought. It was an area Mike was both comfortable and very uncomfortable with so it was tricky to talk about but in light of what Eddie had said he made sure ot to come off angry like it was off limits.

With a big sigh Mike tried to better explain his feelings for, and connection with Alex. He frowned in concentration, "Alex is," He struggled with the right words as he spoke, "my best friend, I mean she's been there through everything with me and I've been there for her the same way."

He shrugged again saying, "I dunno really how to explain the connection between us, honestly I don't know if its because of our powers or if its something she did when we were infants, probably the later though." He looked up to his friends, "But ist been there as far back as I remember this ... feeling ... in the back of my mind. We can kind talk over it but theres more than that, I can feel how she's feeling, and her me. It's always been that way, theres no one I'm closer to than Alex, I don't think there could be, so yea if I had to put a word on it I would say yes I love her. How couldn't I?"

Mike looked to his friends uncertain if he had said too much again.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mike stared blankly at from Chris to Eddie, "Less to lose? Knocks me back?" He said questioningly, "What do you mean by that?"

Was he actually so dense that he didn't understand what they were suggesting he do? Hard to say on some level he did of course but he also felt he had just explained why he didn't need to do that, this whole scenario left Mike more than a little confused and uncomfortable.

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"Dude..." Eddie was all but speechless. Does he really just plain not get it? I mean I know that I am older than him and everything, but come on!

"Alright... I'm going to put this as simply as possible. We are saying that you should ask her out. You have nothing to lose, especially if you are as good friends as you say you are!"

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Mike sighed heavily he had kinda been afraid of this. He didn't really know how to explain his reservations about a more romantic relationship with Alex, or anyone really for that matter. He just didn't feel prepared for that kind of relationship in general and knew that he wasn't ready to be that for anyone no less Alex was he? Not to mention she was dating one of his best friends even if she did say yes that would be awkward to say the least and possibly worse if she said no.

Words failed him for a time but he finally thought of a way to explain himself better, "I'm not afraid of losing her, either way really." He sighed uncomfortably emotions werre not his strong suit, "Not to mention she's dating Mark which to say the least would be awkward regardless of what she says." She seemed happy with the idea of Mark and if he hurt her well Mike was confident Mark wasn't that kind of guy.

"I think I get what you mean, missing my chance and all that, but I just don't feel like her dating someone else interferes with what we do have." he shifted uncomfortably when he said it outloud it already felt like something of a betrayel of Mark to continue to be as close as he was with Alex but he chose not to dwell on that uncomfortable truth. A part of him realized that Alex and Mark really were not going to become anything permanent, he almost wished that wasn't the case Alex deserved a good guy like Mark.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mike waited throught the awkward silence that followed as his friends stared at him in vague confusion and disbelief. He glanced around uncomfortably uncertain what exactly he had said wrong then tried to clear it up.

"Look," He said, "If that is the kind of relationship I want with Alex and I don't even really know if it is now isn't really the time." He didn't like to spell it out but he was self aware enough to know he wasn't really in much condition to be dateing anyone even someone as understanding as Alex.

He sighed as he continued, "I mean if things did go that direction then it turned out that one or the other of us didn't really want that it woudl get wierd, wouldn't it?" He paused to atke a deep breath after the inquirey, "Besides she's going out with Mark tonight, He's a good guy and a friend I'm not gonna get in the way of that, if its meant to be it'll work out eventually." The last was more hope than anything after their talk so far he was begining to doubt some of his convictions, he may well have missed his shot after all what could he offer that Mark couldn't?

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