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Disclaimer: Marvel's, not mine.

I came home for a few weeks to get away.

But I can't really call this place, in Ptarmigan Creek, Alaska, our home anymore, now, can I? Not without Scott. It's just a place to keep our things. Dishes, clothes, keepsakes. The old stuffy comfortable chair he bought at a yard sale for his apartment that first time we X-Men were split up, after Charles's "death." It followed him back to the mansion, then to his grandparents' house in Alaska, to our X-Factor quarters (he liked to feed Nathan in that chair; I can still find the faded green stains of strained peas here and there), back to the mansion, out to the boathouse, and now finally here. It's held up really well, for a secondhand chair--a little worn, a few holes in its soft brown cover--really, it's the most comfortable chair in the house.

My favorite memories of this chair are the times we snuggled in it, especially here in this house. A bottle of wine, the fireplace going, perhaps a blanket draped around us, at least for a while. I'd sit in his lap--or, all too rarely, he'd sit in mine--and we'd . . .

I've slept in his chair every night since I came back. Couldn't sleep in the bed, really--I tried once, and it was so empty, so cold, that I had to try somewhere else. Even wearing a pair of his pajamas and wrapping myself around his pillow wasn't enough to keep me there. So I took his pillow and the blanket and went downstairs to curl up in the old stuffy chair. I slept like a baby the rest of the night.

I think it's because it smells like him--I find my sense of smell has become keener since I lost him. The chair and his pillow smell of his aftershave and another scent that's uniquely his. I'm scared to wash the sheets, the pillowcases, his clothes. It's crazy, I know--they'll lose his scent eventually, even if I don't wash them, and I'm a telepath, I can remember everything--even every single smell--as if I only encountered it a moment ago. I can't forget his scent. But the physical reminders are comforting.

I know I can't hide away from the world forever. I'm also an empath. I need to be around people. Yesterday I decided I needed to go back to the mansion, return to my friends and teammates. I keep trying to convince myself that they need me, my powers, my experience--but truthfully, there are just too many memories here. Too many ghosts.

Well, one ghost, anyway.

I wait for him to come in the front door or around a corner. When I walk into rooms, I expect to see him waiting for me with that special smile on his face, the one he gives only to me. It's like I can see him out of the corner of my eye, just beyond true sight. Teasing me with glimpses.

I know my mind is playing tricks on me--the result of wishful thinking, perhaps, or maybe just plain old hope that he'll be strong enough to defeat the . . . monster that's taken over his body, that he'll come walking in the door sometime soon, a little worn and torn, but intact. If not, well . . . I'll take him any way I can have him, help make him whole again.

Every day he's gone, though, hope fades, because I can't feel his mental presence anymore. Our psychic link dissolved into static as Apocalypse bonded with him, and now . . . well, there's nothing. Just . . . nothing. A heavy wall of blankness. Not torn like it would be in death, but there's no one on the other end to answer. An absence.

Charles and Nathan insist my husband is dead, that they felt nothing from him during our last battle with Apocalypse. I was so certain at the time that I'd touched Scott's mind, buried deep by Apocalypse's psyche--he was trying to help us, as much as he could, without being in control of his own hideously transformed body. And then the bastard transported away, taking my Scott with him. I've felt nothing since. When my childhood friend Annie was hit by a car, I was linked with her, and her death tore at me. Here, now, I can't feel anything. I don't know what I should feel. And I doubt.

This silence in my mind--it's deafening. I need to go back to the mansion, to hear familiar, real voices. I need noise and activity, anything that can fill the void in my mind and heart, dull this lingering ache.

God, I'd give anything for him to be here now.

If only someone wanted to bargain with me . . .

So, I'm going . . . home, back to Xavier's. I'm leaving most of our things here--at the mansion they'd just be clutter. I've been covering the furniture with sheets, calling the power company to cut off the electricity, and the like--I figure I'll be gone awhile. I'm just taking my clothes and a fewsmall things. Scott's pillow. His pajamas. His favorite sweater, that smells so much like him. A pair of his glasses. Our wedding album . . .

. . . and the chair. The movers will be here in half an hour--they'll bring it right to the mansion's doors.

I know Scott won't mind if I keep it with me.

I want to keep it warm for him.

Just in case.



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