DISCLAIMER: Only one of these characters is mine, the rest belong to Marvel and I'm not making a red cent. Or even any silver ones.
The plot-weasel got me again, people... while I was doing the dishes, no less. He really has no shame, Alicia.
Oh, word of warning though... I made myself cry when I was writing it. Now I really AM gonna have to slash him with Deadpool, I hate crying.
Cable looked out over the rolling grass and carefully preserved trees of the Xavier estate, but his eyes didn't really see the landscaped view. He was remembering. Reliving the last seven years inside his head. The normal years, the ones after Apocalypse's shadow had been banished from his life for good. He'd been at a loose end for a little while, half terrified because he didn't have an all-encompassing goal to work towards. But then things had changed; he'd found a hundred other, smaller goals that were as much fun to pursue as they were to achieve.
It was the one he hadn't even thought of that brought the most joy, though. He hadn't even suspected that he'd accomplished it until he woke up one morning to find Domino swearing a blue streak at him. As soon as his eyes opened she hit him, and not gently either.
Still more than half asleep he grabbed her hands and frowned up at her. "I know didn't do anything this time, I was just lying here peacefully sleeping..."
"It's what you did BEFORE." She scowled down at him, but here eyes were dancing with irritated amusement. "There's a pretty good chance you knocked me up, you oversexed son of a bitch."
He'd just blinked, sleep-muddled brain completely incapable of processing that. Turning so that her back was to the bed, Domino raised her wrist to her forehead and closed her eyes dramatically. "Just what the poor world needs, another Summers!" Then she fell back onto the bed, lying half across him and laughing until she cried at the expression on his face.
He remembered every second of Nicole's birth. Every grunt and curse, the smell of sweat and blood and antiseptic, the moment when Domino had demanded to be able to squeeze his right hand instead of his left so that she wouldn't hurt her fingers instead of his. The frantic moments while they tried to fix the haemorrhage and the concentration he'd managed to dredge up to stop the blood flow, despite not having slept for more than twenty-eight hours. He'd been so busy trying to help Domino, he'd hardly remembered that there was a baby involved somewhere. It wasn't until the danger had passed that his daughter had been unceremoniously plopped into his blood-soaked hands.
Aesthetically, he knew that that creased red face with its matted hair and traces of slimy white stuff wasn't really very pretty. But aesthetics had very little to do with it, and he thought she was beautiful. In fact, he'd tossed the last remnants of macho image out the window and cooed that fact to the tiny infant on the spot while he traced her minute face with one finger. She'd responded by trying to eat it, but babies could be like that.
"Nate?" Jean was suddenly standing next to him. He hadn't heard her approach. "Are you coming back inside?"
He looked down at her, and contemplated telling her that the black dress she was wearing really wasn't very flattering. She'd probably consider it an inappropriate moment for such an observation, however, so he didn't. "No, I think I'll stay out here for a while. It's too nice a day to be standing around inside."
She gave him a worried look but retreated without further comment, leaving him to his recollections.
Several years of happiness had slid past like a golden river, and he'd almost stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop when it finally did. But once the avalanche had started there was no stopping it, it gained speed and tumbled on, sweeping everything before it.
At first there had been hope. The survival rate for leukaemia in children was far better than it had been, and was improving all the time. People had assured him that a child as healthy as Nicole had a good chance of recovering. But a year passed, then another, and nothing seemed to work. The search for a suitable marrow donor was stepped up, became desperate. Domino had the wrong blood type. He didn't, but something else was incompatible. They tested the rest of his family, from his mother and father to the then-unborn son his uncle's wife was carrying. Domino didn't have any.
None of them matched.
Both their lives became consumed with that one small person, who went through illness with the same sweet good nature as everything else. Sam and Dani took over X-Force.
"It's not like we haven't done it before," Sam had explained gently. "We chased most of 'em around before you did. You need to spend time with your family, not worrying about us."
He hadn't had any objections to that, although he didn't spend time with his 'family' as such. He spent time with his daughter, and sometimes Domino was in the same room as he was. Or at least she was physically. As Nicole got worse, Domino grew more and more distant to anyone except Nickie herself. She would go for days without talking to anyone else, sleeping in Nicole's room with her much as she could.
Technically they were still married. Technically they even still slept in the same bed. But sleep was all they did there and very rarely at the same time. Sometimes he would wake up and find her sleeping beside him, so deeply she hardly seemed to be breathing. When he got up, she rarely stirred.
Often when they did actually talk to each other they ended up fighting. If he mentioned that she was losing weight and not eating or sleeping enough, she yelled at him. How could he be so inconsiderate as to bring up such a trivial thing as her health when her daughter was dying? When he corrected it to 'our daughter', she yelled at him again.
"She's only _six_, Nathan! She's been sick for half of her life! But what is, is, right?" Sometimes she didn't talk to him for days afterwards.
He wasn't the only one who noticed, though. People started shaking their heads and muttering about what a shame it was when she left the room. Then they talked about how horrible it must be for him, losing his child and his wife at the same time. Again. After he broke Piotr's jaw, they stopped mentioning it. Some people stopped talking to him altogether, apparently unnerved by his presence. He didn't care.
Nicole had noticed too. They'd been playing one of those card games designed for children with bright colours and simple rules, one of the ones he didn't even have to let her win at because she could always beat anyone, when she spoke with unusual seriousness. "Daddy?"
"Will you promise me somethin'?"
"Anything." He meant that. If she'd asked for a pony he would've got her one, even though she couldn't have ridden it.
"Will you look after mommy when I go?"
He couldn't answer that, he didn't know how. Didn't want to admit that it would happen, even though they all knew that she didn't have much time left. He felt his eyes fill with tears and tried to blink them away, but they fell anyway.
Nicole climbed out from under the blankets and onto his lap. "I'm sorry, daddy. But she's so sad, and she doesn't know what to do..."
"I know, baby..." He wrapped his arms around her and rocked her gently, never wanting to let go.
But Nicole looked up at him, lavender-blue eyes still worried. "Promise?"
He stayed there until she slept. Somewhere his half-brother started practising his violin and was quickly hushed. _Why? It's not as if the music will hurt either of us..._
"Nathan?" Jean was back again, and he wondered how long he'd been standing there, thinking.
"It's time." She took his hand gently and led him across the grass.
"We are gathered here today to mourn the passing of Nicole Amber Dayspring. Although she was very young, Nicole possessed wisdom beyond her years and touched us all..."
* * *
It took him far too long to escape from the people offering pointless condolences and unwanted sympathy. The press of people confused and distracted him, every time he made a stilted apology and tried to get to the door someone else came up to him. Eventually Jean and Sam managed to subtly clear him a path and he escaped. Just in time.
Domino had lived in soft, dark clothes while Nicole was sick. She hadn't really cared how she looked, as long as she was comfortable and wouldn't have to worry about keeping anything clean. But now she was out of those and the severe suit she'd worn to the funeral, instead wearing the black leather and soft purple silk of the Domino he remembered marrying. Her face had changed, though. Nothing could remove the withdrawn grief, the lack of sleep, the pain.
She didn't look at him, just picked up the bag from the bed and walked towards the door. Nicole was dead, and with no reason to stay she was leaving. That was what he'd thought would happen, convinced himself to expect. But now that moment was here, he had to face that this wasn't what he _wanted_ to happen. "Dom?"
She stopped, only a few feet from him, and looked at the floor. When she spoke her voice held none of the vibrant edge he remembered, it was as dull and as the rest of her. "What do you want, Nathan?"
"I want you to stay."
"No." She shook her head emphatically. "I won't stay here, not now. I have to go... somewhere. Anywhere. Away."
"Are you leaving this place or are you leaving me?"
She squeezed her eyes shut and turned away. "Don't ask me that now, for pity's sake."
"When would be a good time, then? When you get to the bottom of the stairs?"
She crumpled quietly, ending up sitting gracelessly on the carpet. "Please..."
He was sick of talking. People had been talking to him all day, and words didn't do anything except hurt. So he reached for the psi-link instead. It had been kept resolutely silent for months, by both of them, but he was tired and it didn't matter anymore. #Domino?# He extended a real hand with the telepathic one, wordless but sincere.
She took both and he could feel the horrendous, soul-tearing pain and anger, see the abyss of despair that she was only just holding onto the edge of. He sat down and held out his arms and she crawled into them. They were both tired of crying alone.
Eventually they ran out of tears, and Domino pulled away again. "I won't stay here," she said firmly. "I won't."
She wiped her eyes on the back of her hand and took a deep breath. "But you can come with me."
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