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[OOC: *This comic never existed and all the following is my canon.]
And if I show you my dark side
Will you still hold me tonight?
And if I open my heart to you
And show you my weak side
What would you do?
Would you sell your story to Rolling Stone?
Would you take the children away
And leave me alone?

~ Pink Floyd, The Final Cut

Ben's been sitting in Alicia's hospital room off and on for nearly six hours now and Alicia is still unconscious. The doctors assure him she will recover, that it will just take time, but he's never really been one for waiting. He'd pace but knowing him he'd hit a wire or tube and mess something up, so he waits watching her breath.

The door opens and Susan pokes her head in. "How's she doing?" She asks as if everything were okay.

"Doc's say she'll be fine an' there's been a couple'a times she's almost woke up..." Ben replies his voice trailing off. He hangs his head down as he really can't met Susan's eyes.

"Good," Susan replies. "Come with me."

It's the last thing Ben wants to do but he has to face the music sooner or later. Sooner means he'll be able to get back to Alicia. Susan leads him to the next room where Reed waits. "Where're the kids?" Ben asks without thinking about it.

"Jen's watching them for us," Susan replies closing the door.

"Guys, I am so sorry. I'll move out..." Ben starts to say before Susan puts her hand on his mouth to quiet him. She hugs him and says. "Shh, we're just glad you're back."

Reed comes over and hugs them both. "I swear Ben, I have never made a device specifically targeted for you."

"And I have never blamed you for Johnny's death. I know you did the best you could and you would have taken his place if it had been possible."

Ben squeezes his eyes closed to hid the tears and hugs them back until his Avengers phone rings.

At the Avengers mansion all the various teams mill about not sure why Captain America called them.

"So until we get Stark Tower rebuilt, we'll have to share the mansion with you," Stark is saying to Luke. "Shouldn't take too long with Stark technology and Damage Control's manpower."

"Do we even have enough rooms?" Mockingbird points out.

"What about bathrooms? Are we going to need a schedule?" Spider-man quips.

"Guys!" Ben calls out to get everyone's attention. "I just wanna say it since everyone's thinking it, this is all my fault. If I hadn't picked up that dang hammer. But I did an' I'm sorry. I've just been havin' a bad time of it lately. I can pack up my stuff to make room.."

"That won't be necessary Ben," Captain America says grabbing his shoulder as Stark walks up.

"Can you guys give us a minute," Stark says to the room, before turning to Ben. "I heard about your plan to help rebuild and I and Stark Resilient would like to help."

"Sounds good," Ben replies still downcast. "But ya should talk ta Jen Walters, Danny Rand or Matt Murdock as I'm not in charge of it. I set them up so there's no conflict and they're setting up a legal trust to ensure folks what own property get a fair deal."

"Okay," Stark replies sounds slightly disappointed.

"Anyway Ben," Cap says with a slight glare at Stark. "Wait, can I have everybody's attention? Thank you. I would just like to say you all did amazing things and you have my up most respect. We saved the world," He turns to Ben then and salutes him, "and you saved New York, Ben. By stepping up and leading the heroes left in the city, you saved many lives, lives that would have been lost without you. And I would just like to say thank you. Thank you all."

Later that night Ben makes it back to Alicia's room just as she stirs. He freezes, scared of finally facing her. How can he ever account for nearly killing her?

"Ben?" she says to the room blindly.

"Yeah," he says, a bare whisper.

"Come here," she says sitting up, holding out her hands and like a puppet he comes and stands near her where she can reach him. She feels his face and chokes out a sob. "Oh it is finally you." Tears cascade down her face in her relief.

"Babe, I'm so sorry," he chokes out but she quiets him with a finger on his lips.

"Shh...I told you before, when it comes to us, you never have anything to fear. I love you and nothing will change that. You are back, that is all that matters."


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Benjamin J Grimm

September 2017

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