Black Shadows by AndromedaMarine

Author's Note: Set about a week post "Silver Surfer."

Reed Richards gave an involuntary yawn as he looked out over the dark New York skyline from the penthouse of the Baxter Building, a thousand things on his brilliant mind. His foremost thought revolved around the near-tragedy in China, yet as much as Reed tried to not think about it, he had to. He struggled to focus on the reality that Susan Storm was alive and now Susan Richards; that Victor had died (again); and that there was a possibility of having super-children in the near future. But Reed couldn't think of any of that. The only image that painted itself across his mind was Susan, with the javelin of angry metal jutting through her chest.

He blinked a few times and the dim Manhattan skyline swam into a clearer view. Reed rubbed his cheeks vigorously, taking note of the stubble. He always used to talk to himself through his science experiments, but this was one thing he wasn't willing to talk to himself through – or even about. He sighed and turned away from the wide window, trudging to one of the couches lining the room. He sank slowly onto one, knowing he should probably go back to crawl into bed with his wife – he brightened, but only for a moment.

Wife.

The word still sounded surreal to his ears and to his heart. They would be leaving for their honeymoon the next day, and Reed knew he should get some sleep.

Except sleep would not come.

After several minutes he gave in, and focusing on the image of the dying Susan Storm, Reed dug his fingernails into the soft fabric of the couch with firm resolve. He would not let the terrible memories keep him from seeing the happy ones. The Silver Surfer healing her. Reed's and Susan's wedding day. The decision to stay a team – and to have a family without the usual normality. He gave a quiet chuckle. Who could say what was normal anymore?

Reed stood with a shimmer of confidence, and padded softly back to his and Susan's room. So as to make no noise, he flattened himself and slid underneath the door, returned to normal, and tiptoed back to the bed. He sat down lightly on her side, content to watch her sleep. One of Sue's arms lay above the quilt; Reed reached out his hand to ghost his fingers down her pearl skin. He sighed sadly, closing his eyes. He couldn't bear losing her again.

Quietly he returned to his side of the bed and slipped beneath the covers, wrapping his arms as normally as he could around her stomach. Reed pressed his lips against the smooth skin of Susan's neck and simply breathed in her scent, filling his head with the happy thoughts. The happy memories. "Oh, I love you, Sue," he murmured gently, absorbing the feeling of her in his arms. "I love you so much."

The last thought that drifted across his mind before he succumbed to sleep was if he would ever stop having the flashbacks.

----

Slowly Susan Richards returned to the world of conscious thought. She tried to sit up in bed, but discovered that during the night Reed had wrapped his arms around her waist so many times that she was, for all intents and purposes, pinned to his chest. One part of her brain told her this would be a problem, another found it lovable. Sue turned her head enough that she could kiss Reed awake.

He blinked several times.

"Honey, as much as I love being this close to you, nature is calling."

He blinked a few more times. "Can't she call back later?" Getting no response from his wife, he unraveled his arms but held her down so he could properly kiss her. His intended chaste kiss didn't go as planned, as he was vividly reminded of the previous night, and decided he couldn't get enough of her. Sue obliged for a few moments, but then pushed Reed back.

"Reed."

He stopped, breathing heavily above her as he rested on his forearms. After a second or two he rolled onto his back, releasing his wife. She lifted herself from the bed and made her way to the bathroom. A few minutes later she walked back out and knelt on the bed next to her husband. His hands were folded behind his head, and he lay with the quilt covering everything up to his waist.

Sue laid a hand Reed's bare chest. "Hey." She could sense that something bothered him, and she knew if he didn't tell her he would keep it bottled up for a long time.

His chest reverberated as he replied. "Good morning."

"Is it really? You're acting like you had a rough night."

One of his hands emerged from beneath his head and he laced his fingers with hers. "I guess you could say that." He closed his eyes and the image flashed across his mind again. They fluttered back open. "I love you so much, Sue," he whispered.

Sue slid down so her body pressed against his side. "I love you too Reed." She kissed the junction of his neck and collarbone. "Are you going to tell me what's on your mind?"

For a few moments Reed focused on the reality that his wife was alive and next to him.

"Reed?" Her voice sounded laced with concern.

He sighed. "I keep seeing that day in China. And I keep thinking that somehow I'm going to lose you again."

Sue hooked a leg over his, drawing herself closer. "Sometimes, Reed, you think too much. Sometimes you just need to feel." With that she kissed him again, reminding him that she was very much alive.

She had driven away the black shadows in Reed's mind.