Disclaimer: Marvel owns them, I don't. This is mere speculation without profit, loss, or monetary concerns anyway.

Notes: Tamara is Domino, for those who wonder. It's one of her aliases. I asked Timey, and Timey Knows All. So. Deal.

Further notes: Surprisingly, this was inspired by Kossie's inspiring Timey. I was joking around, and said, "Hey, Domino was in Australia at some point, wasn't she?" Then Timey was talking about Alex talking to rocks, and... It all fell into place.

Final note: R-rating. Pairing that could offend some people. Don't read if this is so.

Dedication: Kosmicala.

Sympathetic Needs
by Ana Lyssie Cotton

He'd thought the voice was just a rock at first. Amused and American, it could only be the product of too many beers and too long spent lying in the sun. A figment of his imagination, conjured at the whim of a moment.

But she didn't go away, and eventually, he was forced to evaluate that voice. Eyes closed, he ticked through the list of women he knew. She wasn't Storm or Rogue. There was none of Alison's breezy vocals in the voice, and it certainly wasn't *her*.

No way it could be Madelyne. "Oh, let me cry in your arms. Oh, but I'm married to your brother." Torturous and dangerous to his pride and his sanity, Madelyne wouldn't have come looking for him. And she'd never stoop to comparing him to a desert slug.

So, hazily, he opened one eye and stydued the woman looking down at him. She was dark-haired with pale skin, her body slimmer than Madelyne's, but not as if she starved herself. Bright blue sunscreen painted her nose, accenting the black patch around her left eye. From here, it looked like makeup. She wore a big floppy purple hat on her head, the shade making her eyes merely dark. A white shirt and blue jeans completed his assessment.

"Looked long enough?" She was very amused, a smirk playing at her lips.

"Go. Away." He said carefully, having decided that she wasn't any use, and, really, all he wanted was to be left alone.

"Now why would I do that? I could get a lot of fun watching you turn into a lobster."

He sniffed, opening his other eye so he could properly glare. "Millie and I do not need company for our tans."

She raised an eyebrow. "Millie?"

"Yes." He opened his left hand, displaying the small irregularly shaped pebble it contained. "This is Millie. She's been a very comforting presence."


He nodded, ignoring the sensation of sand trickling down his back and into his shirt. And her near-laughter. "So, as you can see, I'm in wonderful hands."

Laughter changed to dry amusement, "So I should leave you here with Milli and the sun."

"It's good sunlight. Recharges me." He announced, then giggled, "Summers Family Batteries, re-chargeable in the rays of the sun. I wonder if Scott would be our spokesman. He could lead groups on how best to abandon your wife and child."

His visitor gave him a Look, halfway between amused and vaguely worried that maybe he was a little bit insane. "Mhmm. Yes. Definitely should not leave you out here. You could catch intelligence."

So he stuck his tongue out at her. "You can't make me leave." He said petulantly.

"Probably not." But she leaned over and caught at his shoulder, "C'mon, up we go."

"Don't wanna." He felt his lip protrude in a pout, and wondered at his own childish behavior.

"Either get up, or I'll go fetch Grizzly." She warned him.

Interested, he stopped pouting, "You have a pet bear? I've always wanted a pet. But I have Millie now, so I guess that works."

"You might say that." She wrapped a hand around his wrist and tugged.

He let himself be drawn into a sitting position, her face was much closer to his now, and he reached out and touched it. "Hey. That's not a blackeye or makeup."

She grabbed his hand. "Didn't your mother teach you any manners?"

"No. She died." He wasn't feeling petulent anymore, or playful. There was merely an exhausted weariness wrapping around him. He studied her, noting that her eyes were crystal amethyst. "I'm Alex."


He caught the hand she still held, and shook it. "You don't look like a Tammy."

She tightened her hand on his, "I'm not."

"Ah." He grinned and let her pull him to his feet. "Take me to your leader," He quipped, trying to ignore the way the horizon was gently swaying. Maybe he had drunk too much beer.

She snorted and wrapped an arm around his waist. He leaned gratefully against her, slinging an arm around her slim shoulders. "I don't need a leader."

"No. You wouldn't."

The look she cast him made him chuckle, but he didn't elaborate. And she didn't press as she walked back across the spit of sand and to the jeep pulled up on the side of the road. Vaguely, he wondered how far he'd walked before flopping down in the sand to soak up the rays of the sun. There seemed to be nothing to see except the road, which stretched to either side in a long ribbon of grey and black.

She left him at the passenger door and walked around to climb in the other side. Tucking Millie into a pocket, he followed suit.

As she drove like a bat out of hell, he pondered her profile. Noting the grace of the lines she cast, and the tapering fingers that gripped the wheel. It occurred to him that she did not look like a Tamara. She deserved something less strange, maybe more exotic. Something typified who she was, not what she seemed to be.

He shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts, wondering when he'd decided that it was okay to lust after another woman. First Lorna, then Maddie, now Tamara. Was he really this fickle?

Maybe he was just male, appreciative of a lovely body, expressive eyes and luxurious hair. Deciding this was the most palatable conclusion, he stopped looking at his benefactress, and looked around at the countryside they were speeding through.

Clumps of trees dotted sand and grass, with the occassional bush to break that monotony. There weren't any power lines run out this far yet but the road was fairly well-graded, gravel compressed over dirt. The jeep bounced on it occassionally. One such bounce made him bump the top of his head on the soft ceiling.

Tamara glanced at him, and chuckled, "Don't you put on your seatbelt?"

"Didn't think." He muttered, pulling it on now, and feeling satisfied as it clicked home. Usually, he was flown.

She chuckled, and mocked him as she turned into a winding drive. "Too late, Alex."

"Better late than never." He replied pedantically as she pulled to a stop in front of a medium-sized house.

The door was open, allowing the gentle mid-afternoon breeze to float in. All the windows stood open as well, large affairs with no screens. The wood of the porch was dark, patches of it greying with age. She led him up the three small stairs and into the interior. It was markedly cooler inside, the breezes tickling along his skin. And he could suddenly feel the sand down his back, the itchiness making him wriggle against it.

She looked at him, then grinned and tugged at his arm again. "C'mon."

He followed behind her as she entered one of the back rooms. It contained a large bed, several wide-open windows, and a stereo system. She let him go to turn on the tape in the cassette player.

Gentle, hypnotic music spilled out, caressing the ears as the wind caressed skin. He shivered as she stalked back to him. "Um..."

She touched his face. "You're all sweaty and sticky. Shower?"

"Will you join me?" He asked, blushing at the audacity of the question.

A low chuckle escaped her, and she smiled, "Too small a shower. But thanks for the offer."

He mock-sighed, "I could use a chance to wash off my dirt and sand. Where is it?"

"Back in the hall, next door on the right."

He went back out, and stepped through the indicated door. It was a small bathroom, the shower barely large enough for him to fit in, let alone more than him. Of course, she was small enough to fit it comfortably, and he wondered vaguely what it would have been like to have her there with him. His body certainly liked the idea. He contemplated going back to that huge bedroom and kissing her.

But then he caught a whiff of his own stench, and decided soap and water were a very good idea.

Suddenly cheerful, he found himself singing as he soaped up under the cool water. "I want you to want me. I need you to need me. I love you to love meeeeee!!" His voice carolled out into the small room and echoed back to him a gale of laughter.

Blinking through the water, he stopped singing and peered out into the room. There was no one there, and he wondered if the laughter had merely been a figment of his imagination.

Then he noticed his clothing was missing, a huge towel in their place.

"And she was worried about my manners," he muttered, finishing up quickly.

The towel was large enough to wrap around himself, so he did so once most of the water was sponged off. Peering out the door, he encountered the music again, this time a different song and band entirely.

She was curled up on the bed, legs crossed underneath her while she read through what might have been the morning paper.

"Anything interesting?"

"Not really." She tossed it to the floor and looked up at him. "Enjoy yourself?"

"I feel much better." Polite nothings, now. He wondered why he felt suddenly constrained with her. "Clean is good."

"Squeaky clean?"

"I haven't checked."

She smirked, "I could find out."

For a moment, they stared at each other, tension and something else flowing around them. And then he stepped forward, and she stood. He bent over and kissed her forehead, letting his lips feel the smoothness of her skin. She made an impatient noise, and twisted so that their lips met. Passion and confusion mingled in him, his thoughts reminding him of Madelyne, she flitted around the edge of his brain. But Tamara was kissing him hungrily, and he found red hair and green eyes dacing away leaving black hair and amethyst.

He trailed his hands down her arms, tangling their fingers as he pulled slightly back. "Are--"

"Yes." She didn't wait, leaning into him, pulling their hands apart so she could catch his head, pulling him closer for a much longer kiss.

Pale skin. She was all pale skin and dark hair, her shirt resisting as he unbuttoned it while her fingers combed through his damp hair. Then the last buttons were gone, and he was sliding hands underneath the material, enjoying the feel of soft skin against his water-roughened fingers.

She moaned, then shifted her grip in his hair, and moved backwards, bringing him with her. He released her mouth, trailing kisses around her chin and then down her neck.

"Oh, good. You're not dead."

He nipped her collarbone. "Not yet."

She slid a hand down his chest, and chuckled as she encountered the towel. "Definitely not."

Tangling a hand in the top of her jeans, he tugged. "I hate zippers."

"I got lucky." She pulled the towel, lettin it fall at their feet. "Now, if I'd taken a shower..."

He got the button undone and the zipper, and she slithered out of her underwear as he pulled them down, ending up kneeling at her feet. "Lovely view."

"You disappeared on me." She looked down at him, then grinned. "Coming back up here?"

"I was contemplating the bed behind you."

"Ah." Tamara stepped back, and let gravity flop her onto the bed. "Like this?"

He stood, and contemplated her, then laughed. "Perfect." And he jumped onto the bed landing next to her on his knees and bouncing like a child. "Now, where were we..."

She laughed at him, then propped herself up with her elbows behind her. "Welll...."

Eyes gleaming in amusement, he bent forward and kissed her neck, dipping into the hollow her clavicle made. She giggled, then flopped back again, bringing her hands up to play in his hair again as he moved down and began nibbling at various interesting bits of skin. For an instant, he wondered if Madelyne would taste like her, and then she was washed away as Tamara tugged at him impatiently, and he found them rolling over. She was straddling him then, head thrown back, hair every which way in dark clumps and curls, neck white and gleaming with sweat.

Time became something that didn't matter anymore as he caught her hips and they moved together. His sight dwindled down to pale skin, dark hair, red lips, and pink nipples. Taste and scent were her and then him, jumbled together with the freshly washed-hair smell, and a gentle perfume from the blankets beneath them.

It felt like being energised, the sunlight pouring through his skin and then back out again. He cried out, blinded, deaf to everything now but her.

And then the world exploded.


They'd fallen asleep wrapped around each other, but it was too close for her, so she moved away from him and sprawled. At some point, he snuggled back up, and she let him stay this time, one arm wrapped around her waist, his chin touching her shoulder. He snored.

Eventually, she drifted, warm and lethargic. At some point she'd have to get up. Grizzly had come in while Alex had been in the shower, and she really should go talk to him.

As evening slid into night, she finally gave in and got up. Alex moved for a moment, arm searching for her, then wrapped around a pillow and was still. She draped a sheet over him, amused at the way he flopped like a big puppy. Then she pulled on her robe and left the room, heading for the kitchen.

Grizzly looked up at her as she entered, then pointed to the filled coffee pot. "I started it an hour ago. Figured you might need... sustenance."

She went to pour herself a cup, then glanced sideways at him, "That was rather pointed. I didn't think you'd mind."

"I don't. You were both just... a bit noisy. Try and close the door next time, Dom."

Fighting back a grin, she collapsed into the other chair and snagged the section of newspaper with the funnies in it. "I wasn't thinking about doors at that point."

"No, I didn't think you were." He chuckled, "You do look well-rested, though."

A frown flickered across her face, then was gone. "I didn't sleep."

He looked concerned, "What are you doing up, then?"

She shrugged, "No reason."

A chuckle escaped him, "You look very much like the cat who ate the canary. Are you sure he's still alive?"

"Definitely." She glanced back towards the hallway and stood, "I think I'll go make certain of that."

"Good. Don't forget to close the door this time."

"Yes, boss."


"Why'd you pick me up?"

It was after another bout of sex, Alex was half curled around her, hand absently stroking her hair as she flopped.

"You were blond and cute."


She chuckled, "Not to deflate your ego, but I've never met you. And you seemed rather insane at first."

"Oh. Sorry."

"Don't. I like insane, sometimes."


A laugh escaped her as she looked at him in the grey shadows of moonlit darkness. "I've seen that look before. Don't worry, Alex, I'm not planning on killing you. Yet."

He snorted, "I should hope not."

"Why--oh." She shifted, allowing his hands better access to her body. "Already?"

"Mmm. Why not."

"Good--" she gasped, "question."

They stopped talking.


Sunlight was falling on him again. Alex moved slightly, and encountered another body next to his. Vaguely, he remembered pale skin and dark hair. A hand fluttered over his skin, and he groaned softly.

"Too tired?"

She was laughing again. He opened his eyes, and smiled up at her, "Never."

A bit of the amusement left her face, and she drew back and got out of bed, hunting up her clothing. "Well, that's a good thing. I really should drive you back to where I found you, though."

He propped himself on an elbow, watching the way she moved, "Is it really that urgent?"

She paused in the midst of pulling her jeans on. "Probably not, but I really should return you. I've probably kept you past your use-date as it is."

"I wouldn't have said used." He stood and began pulling on his own clothing, irritated at the stickiness and left-over sand. "I truly enjoyed last night, I--"

"Don't." She caught his hand and smiled, "Don't make this more than it is, ok?"

"Right." He nodded, and pulled his pants on. "There's a town, I think. Not too far from where you picked me up. If you could drop me there, that would be fine."

"I can't leave you where I found you and pretend you're some strange desert sprite?" She was looking at him oddly, eyes dark.

"Probably not a good idea--exposure would claim me, eventually."


He stuck his bare feet in his shoes, "Let's go then."

Tamara turned from pulling on her own shoes, and grabbed him, kissing him hard. He responded, tangling his hands in her hair and groaning. She pulled back a second later, "Yes."

Stepping away from him, she led him out the door and back down the hall. When they got to the porch, she put on a pair of mirror-shades, the bright sunlight reflecting from them. He followed her as she walked to the jeep and got in when she unlocked the door. They were silent as she drove back down the road, taking a turn here, a twist there.

As the rounded a bend, he began recognising some things, and shortly after, she pointed to the side of the road. "Are you sure you don't want to go back to the sand and the rocks?"


"What about Millie?"

He reached into his pocket and retrieved the stone. "She'll do just fine with me."


They pulled into the town square a few minutes later, and he turned to her. "Thank you."

"You're welcome."

He got out, and then paused to lean back in, "If I ever see you again--"

"I don't think you will." She half-smiled. "Something tells me we don't live in the same worlds."

"No. Probably not." He looked away, then smiled, "Take care of yourself, Tamara."

"You too, Alex."

And then he was backing away, shutting the door. She was driving off.

For a moment, he felt sad. Then a voice calling his name made him turn towards the bar. Alison was coming towards him, worry on her face. "Dude! There you are. We've been worried, Maddie--"

"I'm fine, Allie."

"Right." She took his arm, "C'mon, there's a briefing."

And he was sucked back into the life he was coming to hate.