Decisions: Part 1

by Morrioghan


Continuity Note: This story is set between Cable #56 and X-Force #82 and is my explanation for 1.) The confrontation between Cable and Domino in Cable #55 and 2.) The new "touchy feely Domino" shown in the bottom panel of the next to last page of X-Force #82.

Standard Disclaimer: Domino, Cable, and X-Force are the property of Marvel and are used without permission. No money is being made from this story and I am too poor for any lawsuit to be profitable. Note: Much of the dialog between Rebecca and Domino was taken directly from X-Force #71. I just fleshed it out a little. :)

Author's Note: This story would never have been written or posted without the encouragement and assistance of Alicia McKenzie, beta-reader extraordinaire. Thanks, Alicia, you are the best!
Feedback is desperately wanted! This is my first story, so please let me know if I should keep this up or go back to my mild-mannered archivist persona. :)

* *'s = thoughts

Domino sat at the bar sipping a drink, half listening to the band playing below. The bar was on the second story of the club, overlooking the dance floor and stage. The Violent Overthrow suited her mood tonight. The place was packed. The boisterous crowd provided the perfect place to lose oneself in, to be anonymous. For Domino it was also the perfect place to think. Her life had changed radically in the last few months. In the wake of that upheaval, Domino was attempting to decide what to do, and where to go. Perhaps even, who to be.

Brushing off yet another offer to dance, Domino thought back on the events that had led her to this point. She grimaced as Operation Zero Tolerance and Gryaznova, came to mind. Commander Ekaterina Gryaznova. This nemesis she hadn't known she'd possessed, until a few short months ago, had nearly singlehandedly thrown Domino's life into a tailspin. It would be nice to lay the blame solely at Gryaznova's feet, but somehow Domino suspected that she herself was more than a little to blame.

*If I hadn't been so damn cocky...* she thought bitterly, *I was so damned sure that my 'luck' could get me out of anything.* G.W. Bridge had asked her and X-Force to extricate undercover agent, Dani Moonstar, from an Operation Zero Tolerance ambush of the Mutant Liberation Front. It had started like a simple in and out operation. Then everything went sour and three prime Sentinels stood between the team and escape. Domino had ordered the kids to get out, while she placed the plastique to blow up the Sentinels. When the kids protested leaving, she had replied, "That's my gift. I walk away from everything. Just be ready to clear that path, it's our only shot." True she had escaped the explosion with only bumps and bruises, but she hadn't walked away, she had been carried away, unconscious, by Gryaznova's minions.

*Damn Gryaznova,* Domino thought, rubbing the back of her neck. She could feel the line of the scar running from her hairline to the base of her spine. She imagined that she could also feel the implant humming beneath her hand. *Well, if she wanted revenge, she certainly got it. With this thing in my head I can't trust my reaction time. That's why I had to leave Nate and the kids.*

Domino picked up her drink, slowly swirling the amber liquid in the glass. As she sipped her drink, she looked around the room at the mass of humanity flowing around her. *Yeah,* she thought bitterly, *That's what I told myself, anyway.*

North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains: three months earlier...

Feeling the wind in her face, the woman called Domino turned her borrowed Triumph onto the interstate heading north into Virginia. *I've got to show this baby to Logan,* she thought, as she reached a comfortable cruising speed, the bike beneath her purring like a very large, very contented kitten.

She doubted that Nate would mind that she borrowed the bike. He had bigger things to worry about. *I should be there with him and the kids. God only knows what kinda trouble they will get into...* she thought, then stopped herself remembering why she left, *Yeah right, Dom, you'll be real useful right now.* Gripping the throttle more tightly she sped up focusing on the road and the task ahead of her. *I have got to take care of this thing in my head first, otherwise I'll be of no use to anyone.*

Later at the Weller Clinic, Langley Virginia

"Now when can I get this thing out of my head?"

"I'm sorry Domino. This device has insinuated microfiliments into your spine. To remove it now would leave you paralyzed."

Domino rose slowly from the bed where she had been casually lounging, and walked over to the window. She looked out at the parking lot below, silently watching the people walking in and out of the hospital's entrance. "Paralyzed?" she asked, not looking at Rebecca , but instead watching a young girl run ahead of her parents towards a blue minivan parked at the opposite end of the lot. "You're sure?"

Rebecca Schuyler looked at the woman who had saved her life more than once, and shook her head sadly. "I wish I wasn't. Frankly I am afraid to attempt anything at this point. Even exploratory surgery could do irreparable damage." She moved towards the woman at the window, and continued "This is not to say that there is no hope. I need some time to analyze the results from the tests I ran. I may be able to find something, some way to at least turn the thing off, but at this point it is simply too dangerous to try."

Rebecca raised her hand, almost placing it on her friend's shoulder. At the last moment, however, she stopped, and turned away. Her gaze fell to some papers lying on the bed. She picked them up and began to straighten them. *Damn it, Dom, look at me,* she thought, as she mangled the papers in her hands. *Don't shut me out.* Rebecca had known Domino since they were children, at a time when they both went by different names. Over the years she had learned to interpret her friend's moods, and she did not like what she sensed now. "I promise you, Dom, if there is any way to get this device out of your head I will find it." Rebecca finished aloud, as she put down the papers, and sat wearily on the bed.

Her gaze still locked on the child below, who having reached the minivan was now jumping up and down, waving happily towards her family, Domino answered quietly, "I know you will 'Becca." Taking one last look at the little girl, Domino turned toward her friend smiling weakly, "Well then, I guess I will just have to get used to this thing." She walked over to a pile of clothes and started to pull them on over the hospital gown. "Look 'Becca, I'll be in touch." Domino reached into the back pocket of her jeans, and handed Rebecca a folded piece of paper. "Call this number if you need me. I'll get the message."

"Domino," Rebecca's voice followed Domino as she headed out the door. "Take care of yourself."

"Don't worry about me." Domino answered without stopping or turning "Things have a habit of going my way."

As Rebecca Schuyler watched her friend's retreating form she thought, *I hope so Dom, I dearly hope so.*

After leaving Langley, Domino rode around for a while, trying desperately to get a grip on her emotions. The anger and fear that she refused to show to Rebecca had now given way to a strange sort of calm, which in its own way was equally disturbing. *What the hell am I going to do now?* She asked herself, *Well, I can't go back to Nate and the kids without knowing what I can and cannot offer them. I refuse to get them killed because of my weakness.* Domino realized that she had circled the beltway twice, and turned off at the next exit into D.C. *First things first,* she thought, heading towards the First Federated Savings and Loan Bank.

*That wasn't one of my brightest ideas,* Domino thought, as she downed the last of her drink and headed back to the bar for another. *This probably isn't either, but what the hell...*

After taking out three would be bank robbers, Domino had called Patch at the Hellhouse looking for work. She'd found it. The only problem was the job put her sword to fist with Shatterstar. *Damn Arcade for putting us both in that position. Using Rictor as bait was low, just Arcade's style,* Domino thought bitterly. Neither she nor Shatterstar had been able to hold back, thanks to Arcade's threats against Rictor. Wincing in remembered pain, she thought, *That kid packs one hell of a punch.* Taking him out had been neither easy nor enjoyable, but she had done it.

*Damn, I wish I'd had time to make sure those two made it out of there. But the U.N. had wanted that guy bagged and delivered, pronto.* Domino thought. *Come on, Dom,* she scolded herself. *What's with this Mama Bear act? Shats was already comin' to, when I left, and hell, Arcade was gone. Either way those two can certainly take care of themselves. Face it Dom, you've been babysitting too long.* Domino chuckled to herself. She set her empty glass on the bar to wait for the bartender.

Of course completing that job had only left her, once again, forced to make a decision about what to do with her life. Domino wasn't sure how making a decision about her future had led her to her past, but somehow it had.

Ward's Chapel, Randelstown Maryland: two months earlier...

*What the hell am I doing here?* Domino glanced around the cemetery. Adjacent to the churchyard, she could see a large and active housing development. *That's new,* she thought. This was a place she had thought never to return to. *How many years has it been?*

She knelt on the grass, resting her hand on a simply carved tombstone. "Hey Dad. The prodigal has returned." Her voice was heavily laden with sarcasm. "Bet you never expected that I'd come back?" she asked the stone, her voice breaking as her gaze fell on the words *Beloved Father.* With a shudder, the woman known only as Domino leaned against the cold stone and wept.

She had left before the funeral was over, sneaking out of the graveyard and into the adjacent field, while the mourners were too distracted by grief to notice the absence of one little girl. Her father had been her home and her life. They had moved frequently from place to place, only settling in this community during the last year before his death. Without him, she hadn't seen much point in staying. This place had held little value to her, when the man who had made it a home was gone. All of the relatives in the world were not going to fill the aching void in her soul. She'd had to get away. Away from the sympathy, away from the memories, and most importantly away from anything having to do with family. Families were dangerous. They could break your heart. They could get you killed.

"I've missed you Dad. It's been a long time since I left, ran away from here. I didn't know where I was running to back then. I only knew what I was running from." Domino sat back on her heels, her gaze leaving the tombstone, falling on the worn stone chapel before her. "Sitting in there, listening to the ministers words, surrounded by family and friends, I didn't know who to trust. All I knew was that one of the people in that room had done this to you." Her gaze hardened as she recalled how years later she had returned to discover the truth, and to see justice done.

Her expression softened as her eyes turned once more to the stone. "I'm running again Dad. Only now I'm beginning to wonder why." She ran her fingers over the name carved into the granite, searching for some sense of connection to the man buried beneath it. "I wish you could tell me where I should be, 'cause I don't trust myself anymore to make the right decision." Domino thought back to the events that had lead her here. Her father's murder. Madripoor. The Six Pack. Milo. X-Force. Cable. They had all had a part in bringing her to this moment, to this decision. Again and again, her thoughts returned to one man, and the unruly bunch of kids he had brought together.

Rising, Domino ran her hand one last time across the top of the stone, "It's time that I stopped running, Dad. It's time that I went home." Slowly she walked back to the bike parked along side the road. Looking around at the chapel, the graveyard, and the growing community surrounding them, she said a silent farewell, to this place, and to the frightened child who had fled across the field.

"What'll you have?" The bartenders words brought Domino back to the present.

to be continued...

Part 2

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