"Why?"

Morph towered over his foster son, his arms folded across his chest. Alex rubbed his head and looked the other way. A bruise was forming there, although from what Morph had heard Bobby had gotten the worst of it. At least Alex hadn't broken his nose, but it was going to be in bandages for a long time.

As far as he could tell the fight lasted less than three minutes before Sean had managed to pull Alex off Bobby. Alex hadn't had time to use his powers. Morph was relieved. Alex could do serious damage with his fists, but if he'd used his powers than Bobby would've been dead.

All in all, it wasn't the best thing to hear upon arriving back for shore leave.

"I got angry," Alex muttered.

"That's not good enough," Morph said, "You beat the shit out of a kid today."

"I already apologized," Alex said.

He fought the urge to scream.

"Yes, I know," he said, "I was there. And Bobby said he shouldn't have said that, and Pryde took away fifty merits from each of you. I know."

"Stuff like this happens all the time," Alex said.

A migraine began to form. He knew that fighting amongst the Acolytes was fairly common. Logan, when he had still been in charge of the Acolyte program, said that there was an average of twenty fights a year, and those were the ones that he caught. Other ones outside of school grounds happened as well.

His former commander was still in America though, leading the search for the MRD. Emma was still there as an advisor, but he knew that she'd be returning fairly soon. It was odd sharing command with someone, especially someone who doesn't really remember you, but it was something that Morph was getting used to.

He shook his head. He had to focus on the problem at hand which, unfortunately, didn't concern the Hellions. Those were the easy ones.

"I know other people do this all the time," Morph said, "But you don't."

He didn't answer.

"Listen, Alex," Morph said, "Let's take a good look at what happened. This Bobby was almost ten ranks down from you."

"Eleven," Alex said.

"Eleven," Morph said, "That meant that he was one of your soldiers. More than that he was your comrade. Why did you hit him?"

"I told you," Alex said.

"No, you didn't," Morph said, "In this particular situation, 'I got angry' is just not going to cut it."

Alex refused to meet his eyes.

"He shouldn't have mentioned my dad," he mumbled.

Morph rubbed his temples, the migraine reaching its full potential. Alex was right. His personal opinion was that Bobby should have been smacked for doing that. However, that punishment should not have been given by Alex. He should have been punished by Pryde or someone else in authority. Morph wasn't going to condone fighting as a way to solve his foster son's problems.

"No, he shouldn't have," he agreed, "But you shouldn't have tried to kill him immediately afterwards."

"I didn't try to kill him," Alex snapped.

Morph raised his eyebrows.

"Then what were you trying to do?" he asked.

"I was trying to get him to shut up!" Alex said, "He just kept talking and I wanted him to stop and…"

He trailed off. Morph had to trample down the anger that was growing in his chest.

"You couldn't have told him to back off?" he asked.

"I did," Alex said, his teeth gritted.

"So you thought that the next best resort was violence?" asked Morph, "You're not a child anymore Alex; you're nineteen."

"I know how old I am," he said.

"Do you?" Morph asked.

"Yes!" Alex snapped.

Morph shook his head.

"Sometimes I wonder," he said.

He gestured outside where Scott was playing tag with a few of his friends. Their house was fifteen minutes away from the Hellion base, although they found themselves staying there more often than not. It had always been thier home away from home. Morph had wanted a place that would feel normal for his foster sons though, something more like home.

Besides, the only other person even close to their age who could set foot onto the Hellion base was Doug. A house like this allowed Scott to invite friends over, to play tag with his classmates as he was currently doing. Morph made sure that Alex got a good look of him playing with Jean, Ororo, and Evan.

"Do you see that?" he asked.

"I see that," Alex mumbled.

"That's your brother," Morph pressed on, "Your brother who thinks the world of you. What kind of example do you set for him when you do this?"

Alex lapsed into a sullen silence.

"What were you even doing talking to Bobby?" asked Morph, "You're always telling me that you think he's an idiot."

"He is," Alex said.

"No, he's a teenager," Morph said.

"So am I," Alex said.

Morph fought the urge to disagree. It wouldn't help the situation, even though he wasn't quite sure that Alex's words were true. Alex had grown up quickly, and not in a way that Morph was completely comfortable with. His parents' deaths had thrown a switch somewhere inside of him. He'd been training to be a Hellion since that day.

At first Morph had just thought that it was his way of coping, that it was a phase. When he got older he would let it fall by the wayside. As time went on he realized just how wrong he'd been. The phase had never ended and Alex had continued to push forward. He'd had a plan mapped out for what he was going to do when he got out of high school, had written down every detail he'd need to become a Hellion.

That wasn't to say that he didn't approve of Alex's choice. The Hellions were an honorable choice and he knew that Alex had wanted to follow his father's footsteps even before the Night of Fire. Alex's single-minded tendencies could be disturbing at times, but it was nothing to worry about. He just knew what he wanted.

It was why he'd been curious about Alex's decision to become Lorna's bodyguard. It was an honor, true enough. If submitted to the right people it would do wonders for his acceptance process. He could be on missions in no time if it became known, at least among the higher ranking Hellions that he'd been on a mission every day for the past few years.

However, Alex only needed two years of college to go into the Hellions as officer material. By volunteering to guard Lorna throughout her schooling he'd signed himself up for a mission that was going to last for at least three years. That wasn't even taking into account what happened when Lorna went to college.

Morph hoped that Magnus might relax security in the coming years, but he didn't think it likely. He understood Magnus's paranoia, but at the same time he knew it was slowing down Alex. Morph had learned that, if Alex wanted something, he was going to go for it and steamroll anything in his path.

It was why his desire to become Lorna's bodyguard was confusing. You couldn't really say no to the King, especially when he asked a favor that he wouldn't give to just anyone. However, Alex seemed happy about it. Morph had expected a few weeks of gloom and irritation in the very least.

He sighed and rubbed his temples again. His headache really was building.

"Even so," Morph said, "You knew better. So why were you talking to him?"

Alex looked down.

"I was trying to get into an argument with him," he said.

Morph blinked.

"Come again?" he said.

"Just a little one," Alex said, "Just enough to lose some merits. Then I figured I'd piss off Pryde. Then I'd lose enough to have to take someone to the dance…"

Morph stared at him.

"Still not following," he said.

Alex gave him a helpless look.

"Lorna wants to go," he said.

Morph gaped.

"What?" he asked.

"If I had a good excuse then it wouldn't cause any speculation if I took her as a friend," said Alex, "It's the only way she gets to go to a dance."

"So you punched a boy for that?" he asked.

"No. I just wanted to get into an argument with him," Alex said, "It got out of hand."

"You can say that again," Morph said.

He threw his hands into the air.

"So you started all of this just so the Princess can go to a dance?" asked Morph, "After all the official balls she's been to?"

"It's not the same," Alex mumbled.

"It's close enough," Morph said, "This was stupid Alex."

"I just wanted to do something for her!" Alex snapped.

Morph opened his mouth to tell Alex to not go to such lengths, but he stopped. His mind began whirring away, giving him an unpleasant answer.

"Alex are you…?"

"What?" snapped Alex.

He swallowed.

"Alex, are you in love with her?" he asked.

Alex glared at him defiantly.

"So what if I am?"

Morph moaned.

"I don't need you to tell me not to be stupid," Alex said, his voice bitter, "Neena already did that."

"Neena knows?" asked Morph, his eyes popping.

"She's not going to tell Magnus," Alex said, "She hasn't ratted me out."

His voice remained bitter. Morph wished he had hair just so he could run his hands through it, but it would take too much time to shift some.

"This was why you agreed to protect her?" he asked.

"Don't be stupid," Alex said, "I didn't know her then. Not really. She just…"

He trailed off and looked away.

"When my parents died she came into my room and reminded me that the world was going to continue," Alex said, "I just wanted to do something for her, and then I actually met her and…and I just…I couldn't help myself."

Morph sighed and sat down next to Alex. He felt exhausted.

"So you wanted to take her to the dance because she wanted to do it," he said.

Next to him Alex nodded.

"You do know that this is a terrible idea?" asked Morph.

Alex snorted.

"Yeah, I got that," he said.

Morph paused, feeling awkward.

"You're grounded for two weeks," he said.

Alex's shoulder's slumped.

"That means you get out just in time to do the dance," Morph said.

He saw Alex raise his eyebrows.

"It's a terrible idea," Morph said.

A heaviness settled in his chest, but he had to say the words that were on his mind. Someone needed to be on Alex's side.

"But at the same time…"

Alex turned his head.

"I haven't seen much of her, but from what I have seen Lorna strikes me as a smart girl. Caring, considerate," Morph said, "She'd have to be pretty unfeeling to not be touched by how devoted you are to her."

For a moment he thought he saw Alex's eyes shine with tears. He ducked his head before Morph could be sure though.

"Thanks for saying that," he mumbled.

Morph put his hand on his shoulder.

"I mean it," he said.