Battle Lines: Early Afternoon

by A.j and BJ Carlson



RATING: R for Adult situations and language


DISCLAIMER: All standard apply, we make no money, we only rant and weep and gnash our teeth.

Hello Nathan.

YES, this is for you.

Do I seriously think this will stop you? No not really. It's worth a try though. Besides, it's about time you and I had a little chat.

No. It's PAST time.

Glowering at me like I'm Stryfe isn't going to make me move any faster, or any further. The girl in that room over there is the closest thing I've ever had to a daughter. Not more than two hours ago, she was pounding on my doorstep in *tears*.

TEARS, Nathan.

We all went through some major shit in our times in the Pack, Nate. We saw stuff that would make the devil weep. I never *once* saw her cry.

She had a story to tell me, Nate. Actually to be more precise, I made her tell me, and felt like a real bastard for doing it. It wasn't a very nice story, Summers. In fact, I nearly ripped the end off my nice Louis the XVI couch. I really like that couch.

Seems I'm going to be a godfather. Aren't I?

Nathan, step away from that door. I will fucking shoot you from here, telekinesis or not. We have some things to go over first. Like I said before, Domino's the closest thing to a daughter I've had in my misbegotten life. She is an amazing, fun, wondrous being that has been seriously fucked up since the day I met her. Truth be told, I had no idea just *how* messed up she was until she walked through my door today.

Do you have *any* idea how... *wrong* this situation is?

God, do you think me that LOW? NO, I don't mean the baby! Shit, I may think the kid's in a fucked up spot, but I would *never* suggest that. What I mean is this thing between you and Dom.

Look, man, I've known you two for the better part of the last twenty years. I knew from almost the first day Domino smacked you upside the head and told you to 'lighten up or feel the heel of her boot' that you two were perfect for each other. God knows you kicked the shit out of us guys' betting pool when that Yucatan stuff went down. I have to say though, this is one problem that is *not* going to get solved between her legs for once. And yes. I know the only reason I'm not flat-assed over that comment is because you're too pissed to hit me right now.

I'm counting on that, in fact.

You two have been fucking each other pretty consistently for the last *fifteen* years, Nathan. Going at it like bunnies to be candid...and don't think everyone didn't know. What, did you honestly think something like this wouldn't happen? Ever?

Fifteen YEARS Nate. Not even Domino's that lucky.

Look, boy. It's time you started facing some pretty hard reality. No, don't even start on your 'world saving cause' and how reality is what we make it. That's a damn smoke screen: your mission is as much something to hide behind as it ever was something you were devoted to. You need to take a good hard look at the woman you claim to love. Then you need to start asking questions.

Numerous questions, actually. But let's start out with two.

Question one. What do you *really* know about her? It's been almost twenty years and you don't even know her first name, do you? Much less her last. You better start finding out Twinkle Toes... cause way it's looking this kid isn't gonna be a Summers. No, I don't either, but then, I'm not screwing her, am I? You're so attractive when you're about to commit murder. Such a lovely scowl.

Question two. Do you know why she's trying so hard to get the hell out of Dodge?

No, I'm not sharing...this would be *your* test. This is your time of enlightenment and I'm not helping. And no, it's not because I'm being perverse. Yes, I like watching you squirm, but this is *way* too serious a topic for that. This isn't about me, though Mr. Dayspring. It's about damn time you realized it isn't entirely about you either. Get your head *out* of your ass, Nate. In all of those fifteen years of blind humping how much time did you devote to learning about *her*?

Ugh. You still hit like a girl when you're pissed.

I *know* you don't like your relationship with her being talked about like that. You two 'make love' or whatnot, right? It's about damn time everyone else, INCLUDING HER, get enlightened as to that little piece of information. Oh, she knows you love her, eh? Well, let me ask you Question Two again, boy. Why does the unflappable Domino want out of this so bad? Huh?

Is the light bulb finally going on yet?

God, I feel old.

You are aware that you're going to have to replace that lamp, aren't you. I was rather fond of it.

No, Nathan. I'm *not* making this up. Damn, I wish I were. You're calling *me* cryptic guy? My, my, how things have changed. We used to call you the group repressive. Nobody could top you in it. Funny, considering. Reverse polarities and such. You two really deserve each other, you know?

When she came here... I don't think Domino has had an open conversation with *anyone* about *anything* relating to how she feels in a very long time. Knowing her, it took a hell of a lot of courage to come to me. I don't think that's even why she came though.

Get your hand off that glass table before I tell you anymore. She was exhausted, it took me nearly forty five minutes to get her to lay down and I *don't* want to wake her up.

She came here to disappear, Nate.

You must have guessed that on the way over. If you haven't... Things are worse than you know. Than you'll ever know. But then I think I better not assume anything anymore, should I? So why don't we start from the top. Answer me one question, Nathan. Answer it honestly. Do you love her? HAVE you loved her?

Smartass remarks are *not* appreciated at this juncture. This is not fucking 'let's get indignant' hour. Now, DO. YOU. LOVE. HER?!

Good. I don't want to have to explain to my godchild that I killed its father.

Domino... She doesn't believe that you love her, Nathan. At this point, she doesn't *want* you to love her. Or that's what she's convinced herself...


You will stay on that floor and listen, you sanctimonious ASS!

The woman sleeping in that room has been through hells we DO NOT KNOW a THING about. I'm not just talking about her mysterious childhood either. Do you have ANY IDEA what Tolliver did to her? ANY? Do you even want to know?

No. You don't, do you?

Don't ask, don't tell? Well, that cuts even less ground here than it does in the Navy, boy. She... she hasn't told me all of it, Nate. God knows I don't want to know the rest.

Then again, I'm not her husband.

Don't look at me like that. You two have been more than lovers for years. Heck this pregnancy shouldn't surprise you...people tend to get *married* because they're intelligent enough to expect this kind of result. The only thing you two are missing is the idiot priest making cross gestures at you in front of loads of people. Well that and decent communication skills. I read the file on Tolliver. I'm not sure I understand it, but then I sure as hell don't understand you either.

I know...

I know he was Tyler.

And I wanna know why in heck you ignored it.

Yes, I know who Tyler was. I'm not really allowed to say how I found out. Let's just leave it at I have connections who decided to open up. The point is, Nate, what he did to Dom… Shit, Nate. I know less than half of it...and it's too much.

He was a sick, sick, sick bastard. I know he was your son, but that still doesn't make what he did… Hell, it makes what he did *worse*.

How are either of you supposed to heal if you won't acknowledge that fact?

He did it to hurt *you*, didn't he? He took Domino, replaced her, did… things… to her, all to get at you. Do you know how SICK that makes me? YES, you need to hear this. You need to know how badly what he did effected Domino. Tyler took the privacy and intimacy of that kind of violation away from her! He would have done it to *any* woman you were attached to, Nate.

She didn't get to even be Daddy's girlfriend. She got to be a fucking piece of cattle.

<Sigh> Look, I know that not asking about what happened to Dom was just as much a protective measure to you as it was to her. Fact is, it'd probably be okay if you two didn't talk about the specifics of the physical stuff. I read the medical data we got off one of his smaller bases, though Nate. And what he did to Theo… Lord, Nate…

I'm more than glad Logan did what he did. Given the opportunity, I'd have done it myself. And you being his father or not, I'd have enjoyed it.

But that's just the side notes... we haven't even gotten into the big stuff.

My point Nathan... You seriously fucked up. This isn't one you can blame on Tyler either. This one was *your* mess up. No, I'm not blaming you for her imprisonment! God, is that what you think of me!? Shit, Nate. You are *not* the root of all problems in this world, okay? Just quite a few. And stop trying to side track me. This is something you need to hear and face before I even *consider* putting this gun down.

One word, Nathan. Vanessa.

Don't you fucking turn pink on me and start blustering!

You shacked up for a *year* with an impostor! And you didn't even *NOTICE*!

What's more, you haven't learned a damned *thing* from the experience. Vanessa was *NOT* Domino. Truth be told, and I'm only saying this because she's asleep, the main difference was Vanessa was a *lot* more emotionally balanced!

Oh will you just *stop* threatening my furniture!? This is stuff you *need* to hear. I have kept my mouth shut up till now because you two have my respect. You're grown individuals and needed to work things out *your selves*. That didn't work too well, did it? Domino's in my bedroom sleeping of a *CRYING* jag - which is NOT good for someone in her condition - and you're destroying my apartment in the midst of a hissy fit!


Shit. Forgot who I was talking to. That would be like asking for a rainstorm on the moon.

Look, Nate, the whole Vanessa situation did some serious damage to Domino. Aside from being Tyler's genetic whore for a year, she had to put her life back together... Only to find out that *you*, her closest friend, had fallen in love with someone else.

Someone who was her, but *wasn't*.

And then you had to go and ask *her* to return the feelings you'd built up with her but only started to show for someone else. Do you have any idea how confusing that is? How demeaning? Especially since she loved you from nearly day one?

Nate...She feels like second best. Hell, *third* best actually. She told me about meeting Aliya. She also told me you were damn close to staying there.

Yeah, yeah I *know* Nathan. You chose *Dom*. You went *home*. Yes, I mean here. Look at it this way though. Dom's already trying to play catch up to Vanessa. How do you think she's feeling about competing with the woman who's death sent you into an emotional glacier for ten years? With *Vanessa* there was a chance. After all, you fell for her *as* Domino.

With Aliya...

For as long as I've known Domino, you two have always had an attachment. She was the only member of the Pack you partnered with besides me. *SHE* was the first and only woman you ever stayed the night with in this time.

Well, at least as far as I know.

And for all that time...for the entire run of the Pack...I knew she loved you. You just didn't act like you loved her until Vanessa decided to cater to you every whim. The perfect Dom cut-out with about ten percent of the real life pain and non of the struggle. She was EASY to love big boy, wasn't she? As long as you wanted cotton candy instead of steak.

You're starting to realize how screwed up this is, aren't you?

God, this is insane. I am *not* cut out to be counselor to the mercenary lovelorn.

No, I'm not shutting up. You've finally stopped trashing my home and are actually listening. I may be a moron, but I'm not a complete imbecile.

Listen up, and listen good, Nate. Dom doesn't believe you love her. She doesn't believe you *can* love her. She thinks that deep down, you're still yearning for Aliya. Or worse yet, you're wishing Vanessa was still her. *THAT*, my friend is why she bolted from that hotel room. And *that*, you sightless flonq, is the scope of the trap you've been building yourself for years.


Are you okay?


You look pretty pale.

No. I didn't know how bad it was until I suggested Dom go and talk to you about why she needed to get so far away.

I've never seen her so scared.

Remember how I said she needed some damn fine courage to tell me anything? Well, she told me everything. She just didn't do it for *her*. She did it for my godbaby. She isn't leaving because she can't stand you not loving her. She'd be willing to live on what she understands as piecemeal scraps of your affection for the rest of her life.

The reason she came here is because she can't let that happen to your baby.


Shit! You're shaking! What is it?

God man... I *know* you love her! I know. The boys know. Your Mom and Dad know. Tammy on the street corner knows! Shit, all you have to do is be in the same room with the two of you for ten minutes and nearly *anyone* would know how deeply you care for each other!

Why doesn't she?

Because, as stupid and small as it sounds, you never told her.

Have you ever *once* said the words? To *her*?

No, Nathan. She *doesn't* know.

... You two started out as friends who were attracted to each other and had sex. Somewhere along the line, you both fell in love.

Well, neither of you said a damn thing, and the only place you allowed yourselves to *do* anything about it was in bed. And it got confusing, didn't it? And then all that stuff went down in the Yucatan, then Tyler, and then Vanessa. By the end of it, you couldn't tell up from down, could you, Nate?

Well, add ten to that, multiply that by a thousand and square it, 'cuz that's how Dom feels. She wasn't the most balanced of people emotion-wise before this started going down. Now? I think a four foot wide ball of string in a room full of tigers has less tangles.

Yeah, it *is* about time you started to clear some of this up. You should have done it *years* ago.

Do *I* have advice on how to handle this? Man, you could make billions if you practiced stand up, you know that? The only think I can tell you is that you need to start making Dom realize that you love *her.* Not Vanessa. Not Aliya.



Try finding out her favorite song. Or book. Hell, find out her first *name*.

I don't know or care as long as you *start* doing *something.*

God, I haven't talked this much since the Contessa made me explain how you and your team infiltrated the Hellicarrier. I still owe you an ass kicking for that.

Speaking of ass kickings...

You do know that Theo left explicit instructions that if any of the Pack were still alive and you got Dom into trouble, those of us still breathing would have to kick your butt from here to Madripor for him.

You know that Theo was Catholic. Of *course* he meant the 'M' word.

No, I'm not going to press the issue until you do some serious work in the romance department first. At this point, Dom's gonna rip my lungs out for even letting you in the apartment. God help me, though, but I do have to at least *try* to honor the promise of a dead friend. I think Theo made us swear to this just so he could sit back and laugh his ass off from wherever he ended up.

Yes, I'm going to try and get you two in front of that priest so he can make weird gestures at the two of you. And *yes*, I'm dragging the tyke in front of said priest after he or she is born. It's getting dunked and gestured at, like it or not. It's *my* godbaby's soul at stake here.

Askani-shmushkani. I was Christian once too. It can't hurt to cover your bases in the spirituality department.

With you Summers... every little bit helps. Get a Buddhist monk. Heck, if it's a boy, find a rabbi. Whatever.

Yeah. I know, I know. We're stalling. And to think, not more than half an hour ago, you were ready to flatten me to get into that room.

No, I don't envy you the next few months.

Hell, the next few years.

You are aware that if this is a girl, she's gonna eventually date, right? Oh, this *is* going to be a fun millennium coming up. Yes it is.

Of COURSE I'll get the intelligence department at headquarters on this future date's ass quicker than mercury as soon as you call. She's *my* godbaby.

Go on, Nate. One of you has to take the first step, and it sure as hell isn't going to be her.

No, it's not fair. Then again, who ever said life was?

Then again, you've had some pretty up close and personal lessons with that little truth.

Go on, Nate. Carpe Diem, and all that.

What? What is it?



Oh, fucking shit.

She heard you.

Move Cable! GO!

God, it's a fucking twenty story drop! How did she... Nevermind. I don't want to know just move, Nate. I'll get a few people out looking...Any ideas where...?



Why do I have the feeling this is *very* not good?

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