Blackfish Bar : Chapter Four
by Kerrin Watter
It had been two days, and she felt like a lab rat. Or a zoo animal, she realised on further introspection. Through the tinted glass, she could see the figures that would occasionally gather outside, looking in on her. Watching.
Against her better judgement she ignored them, her hearing identifying
their footfalls as easily as her eyes had identified their silhouettes.
Shed requested no visitors, which Hank had actually supported. She could
hear him as he pottered around, the soft swish that his furred feet made
on the linoleum floor, augmented with the harder sound of the ball of his
foot bouncing with each step. A slight screech sounded, and she winced,
her eyes finding him now hanging from a rafter off the ceiling, his nails
having gouged another path in the wood.
Well, if this is a zoo, at least he looks the part, she thought darkly as she scowled.
"My lady Beatrice, what price must be paid for the removal of that
surly expression from your normally divine face? It saddens a soul to see
you languishing in such torment. If the fair lady would only grace my humble
being with a simple smile, then I would sing to the heavens of thy beauty,
of the miracle of such an expression on your radiant countenance."
"Yes, my dear?"
"Shut up. And no singing."
Her eyes shut as she went back to her aural study of the room. The swish
was back, with a small scrape. Hank was moving, almost on tip-toe, she
reasoned, and she felt his breath brush her ear.
"Not even a show tune?"
Faster than he knew she could move, her hand shot out and grasped him around the throat.
The strength in her fingers was amazing, he noted abstractly, as she choked the air out of him.
She felt him nod fervently in agreement, and she released him, his breath coming in a gasp.
Slowly he padded out of the room, and she heard his footsteps retreating
before she allowed herself a small smile. Her hand had returned to its
folded position on her stomach, and she wondered guiltily how much longer
she could stay in the med-lab. Usually her least favourite place to be,
Hank had been amazed at her relatively easy agreement to stay for observation.
Hed only had to argue for ten minutes, and he considered it a personal
victory. Knowing full well her aversion to labs of any kind, Hank had gone
out of his way to make her comfortable. The small room was bare apart from
the equipment that monitored her, and was not entered by anyone except
Hank, and only then when he needed to.
Face it Dom, youre here because youre avoiding Nate. You know that the minute you go out that door, hes going to come screaming down, and demand to know everything. Her lips twisted into a frown, and she opened her eyes, slowly pulling her body into an upright position. Her eyes locked on the figure that stood outside the window, one she hadnt heard arrive. How long hed been there, she didnt know. Whether hed read her thoughts, well, a while ago she would have known he wouldnt. Today, though, she wasnt so sure.
She stared back at the hulking figure, her eyes challenging. Over his
few visits, hed barely said more than the usual niceties. How are you
Dom? Fine thanks, Nate. Good to hear. See you later. It was so unlike
them, that she didnt quite know whether either of them had the upper hand
Well, lets hope that changes, Domino thought as the figure slowly moved, making his way to the door, answering the challenge that shed sent with her eyes.
She leant back against her pillows, her eyes tracking him as he moved around the room. His face had a distasteful look to it, almost as if hed swallowed something sour. She ignored that, and motioned for him to shut the door. This had gone on for long enough - she had to know where she stood with him now, if I stand anywhere she realised bleakly as he pulled up a nearby stool.
"Hank says youre getting better."
"Yeah, I should be up and about in a few days. Ill have a scar or two, but nothing serious."
They used the same tone one would use for ordering coffee. One lump or two? Two - thats fine.
"Okay, not that I mind the silent treatment thing, but Nate, this is us. Im expecting to be chewed out for getting myself into this mess."
"Believe me Dom, every instinct I have is to scream at you, and
demand to know *why* you didnt tell me; *what* you didnt tell me."
His deep voice was barely restrained, the tension instead escaping through
his clenched fists, that were balled at his sides. With a wrench of will
Cable tried to keep his voice down. "You go away for two weeks, dont
even tell me youre going, and leave no way of getting in contact with
you. It seemed that everyone knew but me. As part of my team, as my co-leader,
damn it, do you know how stupid I looked? What it could have done to the
team? What if there had been an emergency, what if I needed your help?"
He stopped, knowing he was getting off the point. Domino, at least, was
letting him have his say. "Then theres this thing with Bridge. I
knew something was wrong, but you wouldnt tell me. I know you have your
privacy Dom, as do I, but hell! Youre my partner. More than that, youre
my friend." He stopped, knowing he shouldnt take that matter any
further. Domino watched his blue eyes shut in pain, before focussing on
her, their expression saddened, matching the sudden quiet of his voice.
"But what I really want to know is - when did you stop trusting me?"
His voice had dropped to a whisper, his eyes showing a world of hurt.
"Aw hell, Nate . . ." Domino licked her suddenly dry lips,
before gesturing widely with her hands. "Its not that, its..."
She hesitated, the smallest hint of doubt showing in her eyes.
"Damn it, were meant to be partners. If you cant tell me, then . . ."
"Tell you when, Nathan?" Domino broke in. "When? Youre never around any more. Im fine with that, really," she said, stopping his words with an upraised hand. "But ask yourself - how often, over the past two months have we been alone? Either youre with Scott, or with the team, or going off on some secret mission of your own, or youre otherwise engaged."
"You know Im busy. Jesus, Dom, its just the same as it always was. Nothings changed over the past two months."
"Oh really." Her eyes narrowed as she went in for the kill. "Well, it seems to me that youve developed a shadow." At his confused look, she pointedly turned her gaze to the viewing window, where the silhouette of a woman was, her short bobbed hair flowing down to a regal neck.
"Dont bring Ororo into this, Domino. Shes got nothing to do -"
"Shes got everything to do with it!" Dominos hand struck the bed, her voice rising in anger. "No, I dont care if youre seeing her, Nate. But shes the reason things have changed. Youre going to have to acknowledge it sometime."
"Im not . . . shes not . .. ." He stopped speaking, his blue eyes growing icy. "Were talking about us here Dom. No one else."
"You want to know *why* I didnt tell you?" Her eyes were blazing, her rough voice as loud as the scarring would allow. "Why? Because you never asked me, Goddamn it!"
Cable stopped as if slapped, and watched her shake her head, the black hair falling over her face.
"You never asked. It was a simple question, Nathan. But you just assumed that Id be around."
Cable strained forwards to hear the rest of her words, as her voice fell.
"I dont know which is worse."
Her face was hidden, the flash of hurt that had been in her eyes veiled by her hair. He sighed, his jaw clenching as he tried to find the point just when it had all become so difficult. Out of all people, they didnt need this, didnt deserve it. Her black hair glistened, and he reached out tentatively to brush away a lock, something to show her that it didnt have to be this way. That he was there for her. But he knew that eventually her chin would lift, shed give a quirky smile, then tell him off for being one sorry son of a bitch.
Aww Nate, not now. She saw the look on his face, the tenderness that filled his eyes as he cleared the physical barrier between them. Her thought was private as she dragged her hand over her face, slowly shaking her head.
"Im getting too old for this shit." Her usually vibrant voice
held a world of hurt, It was the voice of one who was a regular companion
of grief and loss, who knew them intimately. Her lips turned downwards
as she let the rest of her breath out through her teeth.
"Hell Nate, its changed. Weve changed. No matter how hard we try to pretend, its never going to be the same." Her fingers plucked at the sheets,
Hed looked away at her speech, his blue eyes focusing on some distant point in the room.
"I refuse to believe that - "
"Refuse all you want to, Cable. That wont stop it from being the truth." Her eyes met his, challenging him to see the truth. She shrugged. "Its just the way it *is*. Its not anyones fault. It just is."
Her mouth twitched wryly as she forced a grin. He didnt return it, but his expression softened.
"So, what do we do now?" He perched on the edge of her bed, the tension slowly draining from his body.
"What do you think. We go on like we always have, Nate. Lead X-Force, beat the kids up, save the world. Fight the good fight." She shrugged again, the cockiness creeping back into her eyes. "The usual." His eyes twinkled.
"I was thinking more along the lines of breakfast."
The front porch, sunset, two weeks later.
"So, have you figured out who set you up?" Nathan leaned back in his chair as he asked the question, as Domino scanned through the recent incident reports.
"I dont have a clue, Nate. But I think Im going to find out soon enough."
Back to Archive