Decisions: Part 4
Author's Note: Special thanks to Alicia, Lynxie, and BJ for all their help with this part. Thanks for looking at draft after draft - and thanks for helping me get it right. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Domino. I don't own Rebecca. I don't one a single character (unless you count the cats <g>). They're all Marvel's. I'm not making any money off of this, though feedback is always accepted and adored. :)
Domino stared blankly into her drink. *You are not going to go there* she told herself angrily, as she picked up the glass, downing the amber liquid in one gulp. *There is no point in this. There isn't a damned thing you can do about it.* She silently repeated the refrain, *You're not...*
*Nathan!* her mind cried out, desperately wanting, needing a response. *Nathan. Where are you? Dammit, the one time I want him, NEED him, in my mind...* Another wave of pain crashed over her, stopping any further clear pattern of thought.
Domino was vaguely aware of her body, and of Rebecca holding her up, moving them both to the sofa. *Nathan! Cable! Dammit, Nate!* Another wave of pain. Another unanswered call. *No! This is NOT happening!* She could feel her body shaking, wracked by terrible spasms, but that didn't matter. Her body was far away, separate from what was happening in her mind, to her mind. All that mattered was finding him. Finding him in her head. Where he didn't belong. But where he was supposed to be.
*Nate!* she cried. The pain was fading. The tremors easing. *Where are you?* Her mental voice begged, desperate for a response.*Why aren't you answering me? Dammit! Nate! Nate... Where are you?* Frantically she searched her mind, using every psi-trick Cable had ever shown her. Searched for the link. Searched for the oft irritating presence in the back of her head. Searched for him. But he wasn't there. *Dammit, Nate, answer me! Please answer me. Nate! Please.* There was no answer to her call. *Nate, please... Why aren't you answering? Where have you gone?*
"Gone..." *Where is he? What happened? Why is he gone?* Domino looked up at Rebecca, not really seeing her. *I can't find him. Damn him! Why can't I find him.* Vaguely, she heard a voice calling her name. *Nate!* He didn't answer.
"He's gone..." she said, seeing Rebecca for the first time. "Nate's gone."
*No this isn't happening. He can't be...* Desperately she searched her mind.
He wasn't there. She was alone in her mind. Domino reached out towards the place where he was supposed to be and found nothing, not even a trace of his presence. Instead of the reassuring buzz of the link, she found a barren space. *Gone.* The word echoed through her mind. *Nothing there. Oh, God! It's so empty...*
"Empty..." There was nothing there. "... so empty." She looked up at Rebecca, fighting back tears. "How can I be so empty?" she asked, needing an answer, afraid of what it might be.
Domino felt Rebecca's arms go around her. "I'm here, Dom." Rebecca said. "You're not alone."
*But I AM* Domino thought, as she gave into the tears. *I am.*
Domino watched as Rebecca carried in a tray laden with hot water and every type of tea imaginable. She couldn't help but smile. *'Becca's answer to everything - tea.* Rebecca had carefully arranged the items on the tray. The tea pot was set in the center, a mug to either side, a basket of tea bags on the left, a bowl of sugar on the right, and two spoons were set neatly across the front. *Poor 'Becca, you can always tell when she is upset, by how carefully the tea is arranged.* Domino thought wryly, *'Becca cleans like a mad woman, and I break everything in site. No wonder we've managed to stay friends.*
Rebecca opened a package of Jasmine tea, placed the bag in a mug, carefully folded the paper into a small triangle before tossing it into the the trash basket, and filled the mug with water. Domino knew that Rebecca's outward calm masked inner turmoil. She also knew that she was the source of this turmoil. *You want to ask me about what just happened, but you won't. So instead you will putter around the house venting your frustration on unsuspecting dust-bunnies.* she thought. *You're a good friend 'Becca. The best.*
Domino casually reached into the basket, grabbing a tea bag. Only after she had opened the package and poured the water did she notice that she had chosen chamomile. *Now if that isn't just poetic?* she thought ruefully, as she played with her tea bag.
Rebecca sat across the room with one cat on her lap, and another perched on the back of the chair. She watched Domino casually sip her tea. *She's too calm,* she thought. *Hell, I'm too calm. Twelve hours ago all hell broke loose, and now we're sipping tea like nothing happened? Someone, please tell me what's wrong with this picture.*
The cat in her lap rose and looked at her inquiringly. *I don't suppose you know?* she thought as she rubbed his chin. He purred in appreciation and settled back on her lap. *No I guess you don't.*
Glancing over at Domino, who seemed to be entranced by her tea, Rebecca wondered, *What happened? What has it got to do with this guy, Nate?* Rebecca continued to watch her friend, a concerned expression coloring her features. *I wish you would say something. Do something. Shit, you haven't even broken anything yet. I just saw you cry for only the second time in nearly thirty years, and now you sit there calmly sipping what appears to be the most fascinating drink in history.*
Rebecca couldn't help but think of the only other time she had seen Domino cry, so many years ago. They have been friends for less than a year when Domino's father was killed. After the storm of tears and rage had subsided, a strange calm had come over her friend. A chilling, detached calm, that had frightened the young Rebecca. Now, as an adult, she recognized that calm overtake her friend. *The last time I saw you like this, you took off three days later. I know the the terrible cost you paid when you ran, blinded by grief, from your father's grave. I'll be damned if I'm going to watch you do it again.*
Frowning, she thought, *I may kill this guy once I find out who the hell he is, and what's going on. If I ever find out what's going on, that is.* Rebecca sighed, petted her cat and resisted the urge to go shake her friend.
*What to do? What to do?* The refrain echoed in her head. *I'm not ready to deal with this. I'm not even sure what happened.* Domino stared into her tea, trying to ignore the headache that pounded in the back of her skull. *Nate. What happened? Are you...* she stopped herself. *No. I'm not going to think that. I'm not... He looked so rough when I saw him, so tired. Maybe I shoulda stayed. Maybe if I'd been there...* Domino groaned. Setting her tea down, she rested her head in her hands.
"Dom?" Rebecca asked hesitantly, breaking into her thoughts.
Domino looked up at her friend, lines of pain and worry etched into her face. "'Becca, I..." she began, uncertainly. "It's hard to explain. It's... Hell, I don't understand it even. I..." Wincing Domino raised her hand to her head. *Damn. Can't think through this pain. If Nate were here I'm sure he'd suggest some Askani...* Paling, Domino closed her eyes. *I have to stop doing this. The link's gone. That doesn't mean he's...* Domino refused to complete that thought.
"It's okay Dom. You don't have to say anything. All I need to know is that you're going to be all right." Rebecca's voice carried concern and acceptance. "Look, I know you hate this, but I want to get you in the clinic tomorrow for another CAT scan. I know you're okay now, but those seizures make me nervous."
Domino shook her head. "I can safely say that they didn't have anything to do with the concussion." *He said the link was permanent, that it couldn't be broken without...*
"But Dom..." Rebecca's voice interrupted her thoughts.
"No, 'Becca. Trust me on this one." Domino smiled at the concern on her friend's face, forcing herself to focus on the conversation.
"No Dom. Not this time. Not with your life." Rebecca's tone brooked no argument. "What the hell is going on?"
*Dammit 'Becca,* Domino thought, her first instinct to tell Rebecca to mind her own business. *No. She has the right to an explanation. After all I've put her through over the years, she deserves at least that much.* Domino got up and started pacing around the room. *Okay, now how to do this so that she doesn't worry, without going into any unnecessary details?* she asked herself.
"What do you know about telepaths? Specifically psi-links?" she asked, stopping to stand in front of the window. *Psi-links that are supposedly permanent and unbreakable,* she thought with a frown.
"Psi-links?" Rebecca asked, confusion clear in her voice.
"I guess the best way to describe it is as a permanent connection." Kneeling down, she casually petted the tortoiseshell resting in the window seat. *Or at least I thought it was,* she finished silently.
"A psychic connection?" Rebecca asked, raising an eyebrow.
Domino laughed, *Trust 'Becca to put it that way* "Not quite like that," she said aloud. The tortoiseshell raised her head at the sound. "More like having a two way radio on in your head, connecting you with the telepath. Only it's on all the time. And there is no way to turn it off." Purring, the cat stretched to allow Domino better access to her chin.
Rebecca was quiet for a moment, as if digesting this, then looked over at Domino expectantly "I can imagine that would make things... interesting. Are you saying that you are... what is it - psi-linked - with a telepath?"
*I cannot imagine anyone except 'Becca taking this all so calmly,* Domino thought with a wry grin, as she watched her friend digest the and strange concept. "You know, 'Becca, you amaze me."
"How?" Rebecca asked, clearly confused by the sudden change in topic.
"I drop in on you out of nowhere. You patch me up. Then when I flip out in your living room, you sit there calmly listening to my whacked out explanation." Domino shook her head, giving the cat a final pat as she turned to fully face her friend. "How the hell do you put up with me?"
Rebecca smiled, "It's in the job description, a couple paragraphs down from 'Will provide chocolate in times of stress.'" She shifted in her seat, careful not to dislodge the calico. "Don't worry about it. It's not like you wouldn't and haven't done as for me in the past. So what the deal with the telepath? Can I assume you have one of these psi-links?" she asked, concern evident in her voice.
"Well, I did. That's the problem." Domino said dully, laughter fading from her eyes.
"Nate?" Rebecca asked gently, kneeling down beside Domino.
Domino gave her a wary look. "How the hell do you know..."
"That's his name? Right? The guy you have been telling me about all these years, or rather not telling me about?" Rebecca asked, refusing to look away from her friend's haunted gaze.
"'Becca" she said in a warning tone, as she began to rise.
"You called out his name during the seizure."
"I..." Domino sat down wearily, not looking at Rebecca, not looking anywhere. *I lost control that badly?*
"Dom I don't want to pry. Hell, I told myself that I wouldn't pry. But dammit! You didn't have to watch... You don't... Dom, you scared the shit out of me last night." Rebecca's voice wavered. "I need to understand. Don't shut me out. Please," she begged, her voice breaking.
"I don't know what to tell you. I..." Domino began, not yet ready to meet her friends concerned gaze. *What can I say? How can I explain what I never understood? Or accepted?* "It's complicated, 'Becca." *It was so much more than a link, so much less than it could've been, and I... Oh hell, Nate. What happened?* she asked herself desperately, as her head began to pound. *Nate.*
Rebecca silently watched the changing emotions crossing her friend's features. It was rare to see any unguarded expression on Domino's face. To see this. To see the naked pain, the fear that ravaged her countenance tore Rebecca apart. It was all she could do not to reach out and take Domino in her arms. But long experience had taught her that Domino was a woman who had to work things out on her own, at her own pace. She rarely accepted comfort when it was offered, and was even less likely to ask.
*You helped me through the divorce, and when John got custody of Casey. You were there when my world fell apart. I cried for weeks, and you were there to help me put the pieces back together. Why won't you let me help you? Please Dom.* Rebecca asked silently, as she watched Domino withdraw further and further into herself.
*Damn her, I wish she'd let me in, let someone in.* she thought. *Oh hell, maybe that's the problem. She said she had a link in her head with that telepath. Oh God. For her to allow that...* Rebecca stared at Domino in shock, beginning to realize the enormity of what this meant. *Dom called it a 'permanent connection' similar to a two way radio. If this is all related to the link?* Her eyes widened *Empty. Dom asked how she could be so 'Empty.'* Suddenly Rebecca understood what had happened. And just as quickly wished she didn't.
"It's gone. Isn't it?" she asked aloud. "The link isn't there anymore."
Rebecca's question jarred Domino out of her thoughts. For a moment all she could do was stare at Rebecca. The sympathy she saw in her friend's eyes nearly broke what little control she had. "It's..." she began, her voice cracking. "You're right. The link snapped." Turning away, she stared out the window. "Funny, as much as I bitched about having him in my head. I'm not sure what to do now that he's gone." she said, fear coloring her words.
Rebecca picked up the cat who had wondered by. Silently she waited for Domino.
"His name's Nathan. I just call him Nate, 'cause it pisses him off." Domino began, her voice level, stripped of all emotion. "And, yes, he's the guy I've been 'not telling' you about all these years." she continued in the same self-mocking monotone. *Partly to protect you, and partly 'cause if I'd talked about him, I'd of had to think about things that I didn't want to think about.*
"The link was actually accidental. Drove me up the wall having him in my head all the time." *Or at least that's what I kept telling myself.* "Didn't know it would hurt so much when it went." *Always thought he'd be there, the annoying and... reassuring... presence in the back of my mind. I never imagined that I'd miss having him there.* Domino admitted to herself for the first time.
Turning to face Rebecca, Domino met her gaze. "I'm not quite sure what to do now," she said simply.
"Dom," Rebecca began hesitantly, understanding much of what went unsaid. "You know you have a place here as long as you need it."
"Thanks, 'Becca. I appreciate it." Domino said, a wan smile on her face, "Look, 'Becca I need to make a few calls. Need to find out what the hell is going on."
"Translated - 'I'm not going to tell you anything so why don't you go away for a while so I can sort this out without interference'" Rebecca commented wryly.
"'Becca..." Domino began.
"It's okay, Dom. I'm used to it." Rebecca said.
"I need to find out what happened. I need to know if he's..." Domino couldn't make herself complete that sentence. *He's not. There HAS to be an explanation.* She looked over at the concerned eyes of her friend. "I have to know." she finished simply.
Rebecca walked over to Domino. "I understand. You do what you have to do. Just please, remember that you don't have to do this alone. You really don't."
Domino looked at Rebecca, her exhaustion evident on her face. "I know, 'Becca. It's just..." She lowered her head, not willing to meet the compassionate eyes of her friend. *It's just so much easier to go it alone.* she thought wearily. "I appreciate it 'Becca. But..."
"Yeah, habits of a lifetime." Rebecca said with a smile. "You do what you have to do, and I'll run along and find us something decadent for afterwards. "Okay?"
"Thanks 'Becca." Domino said, as she visibly relaxed. She looked up at the expression of patient concern on Rebecca's face, feeling a twinge of guilt. Forcing another smile, she asked "Something chocolate?"
Rebecca chuckled, "Of course."
A short while later Domino heard the screen door's trademark squeak and bang, followed by the whine of Rebecca's car as it actually started on the first try. She looked over at the phone, where it rested on its stand, across the room. *Okay, time to find out what's going on,* she thought as she continued to stare at the phone. *Just a few quick calls, and all of this will be straightened out.*
Domino watched as the black cat hopped onto the stand, then up onto the adjacent bookshelf. *What was that about cats and luck?* she asked herself in a failed attempt at humor, her eyes still glued to the phone. *It's just a phone.* she told herself firmly. "Go pick it up." she commanded herself aloud as she rose, startling the calico who had been contemplating climbing in her lap. Domino walked over and sat down next to the phone.
*Okay, mansion first.* she thought, dialing the number.
Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring.
"Hello you have reached the Xavier Institute. Nobody can take your call right now. Please leave a message after the beep and someone will return your call as soon as possible." Beeeeeeeeep. *Not likely,* she thought as she hung up the phone. *It's not like I really feel like dealing with X-Types right now.*
*Okay. How about the safe house?* Domino dialed the number. "The number you have called in not currently in service, please check the number and try again." Domino froze. *No this is not happening.* She redialed the number.
"The number you have called in not currently in service, please check the number and try again."
Domino shivered as she set the phone down and rested her head in her hands. *Shit. Maybe he forgot to pay the phone bill? Maybe I am deluding myself?*
She rose, and began pacing the length of the room. *There is a reasonable explanation for this. I just need to find it.* She could feel the headache getting worse. *There has to be a reason the link snapped.* She told herself firmly, *A reason other than he's... No! I won't believe... I can't...* Domino sat down by the phone, staring at it, willing it to somehow answer her questions.
She picked up the phone again. *It's a long shot but maybe...* She dialed another number.
At the sound of the familiar voice, Domino released the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding.
"Hi Jean. You wouldn't happen to know where Nate is, would you?"
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