Just Because I'm Losing Doesn't Mean I'm Lost

Summary: "Come on, Alex," she said. "Let's be heroes." Written for Alex Wilder, who asked for Runaways, Nico/Alex.

Disclaimed.

The bodies were limp, impotent, lacking the air of vibrancy which they'd always displayed in life. His mouth opened, shut with a snap. "I…" he began, then realized that there was nothing he could say.

"We did it," she said, showing the control that he was incapable of at the moment. Her voice held an undertone that he couldn't understand, couldn't find the energy to try. "I can't believe it."

He had never seen so much blood.

They stared, eyes wide with shock and accusation. Two of them had been lucky enough to reach each other and now held hands, stiff fingers clutching as though the other had the power to pull them from death.

He looked away. Red-blood-splashed her pale skin, indistinguishable from her lipstick where it beaded in the corner of her mouth. Her dark silky hair was matted with it.

She reached out to pull him from the carnage.

"Come on, Alex," she said. "There's no other way we can do this."

They were crouching in the earthen catacombs that riddled the place that he could have called home. His shoes were filthy, covered in dirt, and every time he sat down to rest, a new stone made it its mission to ensure his discomfort.

"I don't know about this," he said. "I mean, look-can we talk about this?" She started walking. "Nico!" He scrambled to his feet and caught her arm. "We need to-"

She whirled, brown eyes narrowed and tiger-fierce. "What we need to do is stop them! They're going to ruin everything!"

He tried to interject, for all the good it did him. "But they're-"

"The world will be better off without them." Discussion over went unsaid, but it was clear enough in the irritated gaze she pinned him with.

"We can't just"-murder, his mind supplied-"kill people whenever we feel like it!" She wasn't listening again, picking her way through the cramped dark tunnel. He tried again, accelerating so they were walking side by side. The craggy walls dug into his shoulder. "Do we have to kill them? We've known them our whole lives, and they've never-"

Nico stilled, tension knotting her jaw and back. Then she softened visibly, taking Alex's hand. "I understand that you trusted them," she told him gently. "I did, too. But they betrayed that trust. Betrayed us. They killed someone, Alex. We can't just let them go when they'd be willing to kill you, too. They won't think twice about taking an innocent life, so we have to stop them before they do."

Alex's mind spun, trying to reconcile this ultimatum. "I don't think I can," he admitted, shame hollowing his voice.

She stepped closer, brushing Alex's face with her fingertips in a light caress. "Yes, you can," she whispered. "I've seen you, Alex. You're so brave; I know you'll do whatever you have to." His eyes fell to the ground, and she immediately lifted his chin so they met hers.

"Think of that girl," Nico said. "She had no one to defend her, no one to avenge her death. We have to be those people, Alex.. We have to do the right thing, stand up for everyone they've hurt and everyone they're going to hurt, even if the law says it's wrong."

She kissed him, long and slow and flavored with all the promises the future held. Her hands slid to the back of his neck, his drifted to her waist, and they stood there, halfway to forever while her touch drained away his fears as if by magic.

After an eternity, she pulled away, though her lips still lingered barely half an inch from his. Alex could feel her hot breath mingling with his own. "We have to be heroes," she said.

"No," he corrected her, and her eyes shot to his. "We can't be heroes until this is all over."

Slowly, slowly, Nico smiled, the amber depths of her eyes lighting with an all-consuming fire. "Well said," she agreed. "We'll start over, okay? Just the two of us."

His heart clenched. "I love you," Alex told her.

She pulled him down the tunnel.

They burst into the Hostel with all the force of a tornado, blasting down the heavy doors and sweeping into the cavern.

Karolina saw them first and beams of colored light immediately sprang into being as her powers activated. Her face showed surprise, suspicion, and at the last second, hope, and that small hesitation was just enough time for Nico to send a spelled dagger into her throat. The others scrambled for weapons or the exit, too late to make a difference.

Far too late. She fell limply, a puppet with no strings and the first dead body Alex had ever seen.

But not the last.

He had never seen so much blood. It was everywhere, all over him, soaking his clothes like he'd been caught in some morbid thunderstorm.

"I can't believe it," Nico said. Blood splattered her face, painting a stark diagonal slash, red on white, droplets smearing into grotesque war paint. He watched her lips as she spoke, watched the dark liquid drip down and pool in the corner of her mouth, watched the lips that had kissed him not twenty minutes before-the phantom taste blossomed, shocking and metallic on his tongue-that were now curling into a satisfied smirk.

She reached for him, and where he'd once seen light in her beautiful bright eyes, now there was only darkness.

"Come on, Alex," she said. "Let's be heroes."