Blackfish Bar: Chapter 2

by Kerrin Watter



Friday, 8 am.

Domino fastened the choker around her neck, hiding the small pressure bandages that Hank was still making her wear, as she headed down for training. Hank had kept his word, and no one knew just how close it had been the other night. Which was exactly how Domino had wanted it.

X-Force had gathered by the time she got down to the Danger room, and their eyes took in her surly expression. They exchanged glances - today’s session was not going to be an easy one.

An hour later, and Nathan scratched his head. Domino was giving 100 percent today, with each kick and punch landing with precise accuracy. She certainly looked pissed off, and he vaguely wondered if it was something he’d done. He was jarred from his pondering by the beeper signalling the end of the first session, and X-Force sighed in relief. They were literally being ‘killed’ today. And they still had an hour to go.

"Dom, can I have a word?" Nathan motioned her over with a toss of his head, and she walked over slowly, wearing the same expression as before.
"Aren’t you pushing them a little hard?"
She raised her eyebrows, wondering whether she should grace him with an answer.
"Pushing them hard? Nathan, I haven’t even begun."
"What’s the problem?"
"Maybe I just want to make sure they’ll survive out there, if their powers are down, and they have to rely on their hand to hand skills. Or maybe I’m doing it because I care." She rolled her eyes, her voice was sarcastic.
He sighed angrily, his breath escaping through his teeth.
"Fine." He’d had it with women in general, and he wasn’t going to bother arguing today. "We’ll do it your way. Okay, everybody, one on one, hand to hand combat. No powers. Dom - you’re with me."

They pairs filled out the room, circling slowly, as they began to feint and dodge, no one wanting to take on their friends. Except for Nate and Domino.

She landed the first blow, her kick glancing off his jaw and snapping his head around. Nathan backed up, seeing the determination in her eyes. She wasn’t holding back.

He saw her weight shift, and he ducked the blow that she sent, sending a slap across her face. It only served to increase her focus as they slowly circled each other.

One by one the other teams stopped fighting, and watched Domino and Cable. She was fighting as if her life depended on it, and Nathan was warding off blows as best he could.
*Jesus, Dom, what’s wrong?* he sent out telepathically, as she circled him slowly.
*Nothing. Now shut up and fight.*

His eyes narrowed as he considered his options. If he let go, she’d be down in minutes, due to the plain fact that he was bigger and hit harder. But he didn’t want to hurt her, no matter what she wanted.

Domino seethed as he fended off another blow. He wasn’t fighting back - this wouldn’t help to hone her skills any. She shook her hair out of her eyes, enjoying the control she was feeling. At least in this fight, she was winning. Not like the other night…

She spun, sending a kick to the side of his knee, then followed with blow to his back. That would teach him. That would teach them all.

Nathan went down, his anger growing as he realised Dom wasn’t training any more. She was looking for a fight, and he wasn’t going to be the patsy to give her one.

"Game’s over, Dom," he muttered, allowing her to get close enough to grab her.
"Not until there’s only one person left standing, Nate," she growled, twisting out of his grip.
"No, not this time." He caught her wrist and spun her into a headlock, increasing the pressure on her throat.

"It’s over Dom. Give it up."
"No, damn you."

Her neck felt on fire, the pain more intense than she would have cared to admit. She gasped for breath, knowing that she had to win this round. She didn’t know what she’d do if she couldn’t.

Domino felt Nathan’s grip relax slightly as she stopped struggling, and she took the opportunity to slam her elbow into his diaphragm, winding him. He gasped, and her other hand grabbed the back of his head, pulling it back as her elbow dug into his ribs. She knew then that she’d won, as he loosened her grip, and she followed through, sending him sprawling across the floor.

"Now it’s over."

She walked out the danger room door, heading to her room.

Nathan slowly sat up, rubbing at his jaw, where her first blow had landed.
"That’s it. Training’s over. Same time tomorrow people."

His face told them to leave, and to leave quickly, as he slowly punched a code into the console. If Dom was pissed, that was fine, but she shouldn’t take it out on him. Not in front of the students. He growled under his breath as the lights dimmed, and a war torn visage emerged. It was his turn to work off his frustration now, and he carefully selected his weapons as the first holographic opposition came into view.

An hour later, Cable finished the programme, Apocalypse nothing, Cable 263. The lights came back on, and he headed for the showers, wanting to be rid of his sweaty clothes and the bad mood that followed them.

‘What’s that?’
He fingered the sleeve of his shirt, and noticed the dark stain that covered it, on the inside of his elbow.
‘Dom must have hit me harder than I thought. Funny, though, I don’t seem to be bleeding anywhere.’
He dismissed the thought as he stepped under the jet of steaming water.


Domino had reached her room, and slammed the door as she walked inside. Her breath was rasping, and she gripped the chair to steady herself. Cable had hurt her neck more than she would have liked to admit, but as her fingers probed at her choker they came away covered with blood.

"Smart, Dom, really smart."

She sighed at her impatience, at using Cable as a target instead of her usual Danger Room program. Her eyes went to the mirror, where she saw the faint red traces that were creeping down her neck.

Her hands fumbled for the intercom, punching out a newly learned number.

"Hank? I think you need to get up here."

***** ******

Nathan passed her as he headed to the kitchen, his hair still damp from his shower. Her eyes were locked straight ahead, her mouth set in a grim line. Her footsteps were lighter than usual, treading almost delicately over the wooden floor. He frowned. Something was definitely wrong. He brushed his hair out of his eyes, trying to focus on what was different.
She stopped, her body deadly still, eyes still facing forwards.
"Are you all right? What’s wrong?"
"Nothing. I’m fine." Her voice was expressionless, no hint of either emotion or her usual cockiness coming through.
He opened his mouth to ask her more, then stopped. She wasn’t going to tell him, either way.
"Fine. Whatever." He muttered an Askani curse under his breath and walked on, before stopping and twirling around.
"No, it’s not fine. What the hell’s going on? You try and kill me this morning, and now you won’t even talk to me? If it’s something I’ve done, that’s fine, but if it’s something else - I need to know."
"What it is, is none of your god-damn business." She’d turned to face him, her violet eyes cold with fury. Her voice was low, the anger barely restrained, and his eyes widened involuntarily. She turned on her heel and walked away, using the same delicate footfalls as before. Nathan watched her leave, his senses knowing that there was something more. His hand absently pushed his wet hair out of his eyes again, then stopped as he remembered. Underneath the fury there had been something else. Something so rare that he’d almost missed it, but it came back in his memory as he pictured her eyes just before she left. There had been fear.

An involuntary shudder ran down his spine at the revelation, an he closed his eyes. ‘Hell, Dom, what have you gotten into this time?’

Part 3

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