The Waiting Song

by Kerrin Watter



With references to X-Force 68, 69, 70 (and a bit of history from me).

your basic average superstar
is singing about justice
and peace and love

A woman stumbled out onto the road, the truck almost jack-knifing as the driver slammed his brakes on to avoid hitting her. She didn’t even seem startled that the truck had barely avoided running over her, as she leant against the front of the cabin, letting the warmth of the engine seep into her body. Her head felt like it was going to explode, and she was off-centre, nervous. Her eyes opened blearily before shutting against the glare of the headlights.
‘Face it Dom, you feel like shit.’

Spencer Beaumont had barely gotten three words out before she collapsed on him.

He looked around, and decided that stranger or no, the Oklahoma interstate was no place to leave anyone. With a grunt, he lifted her up, transferring her to the passenger seat of his truck, getting a small smile in return.

i am glaring at the radio, swearing
saying that’s what i was afraid of

Domino’s eyes fixed bleakly on the dashboard, the country music suddenly jarring in the cabin of the truck. The driver had stopped talking long ago, his efforts met with a stubborn silence, which he now seemed resigned to.

The road swam again in her vision, giving way to memories of the previous week.



Theresa and Bobby.

The flash of a passing streetlight triggered more memories, and once again Domino was dragged back into the lab. Back with Gryaznova. . .

the system gives you just enough
to make you think that you see change
they will sing you right to sleep
and then they’ll screw you just the same

She came to with a start, pushing the memories back down as she tried to focus on what had changed. The driver of the truck was looking at her, concern in his eyes as he saw the way her hands were clenched, blood trickling slowly from the inside of her palms. Distantly, she registered the hum of the engine, providing a solid background of noise that was suddenly present when he switched the radio off.

"So are you gonna tell me what you’re running from?"

She swung her violet eyes towards him, not quite hiding the flash of pain and fear that escaped.

"Nothing you want to know about, Spencer. I just got lost is all." She stretched, trying to consciously relax her body. It didn’t work. Her gaze swung around to catch him still watching her, and she shook her head.

"If you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep driving. Trust me, you don’t want to get involved."

She settled back down in her seat, her eyes now fascinated with the outside scenery.
A moment later and the truck coughed into life, heading back down the highway as Spencer Beaumont sighed in defeat.

but i will wait, yes i’ll wait
for the truth
I will wait
I will wait for the truth
I will wait for the truth

They had stopped at a diner in the middle of nowhere. Oklahoma, to be exact. Spencer was buying coffee while Domino used the phone.

She tried the number again, getting the same engaged signal. Normally the lines to the mansion were clear, or the call would be transferred to another phone, allowing direct and immediate contact.

But not tonight.

Domino sighed, her fingers punching out another number, and knowing that it too would be busy. Ordinarily her senses would be firing, telling her that something was wrong, but tonight she felt nothing. That worried her almost as much as the phone lines. She was now working on logic, not instinct, and she hated it.

Her mouth settling in a grim line, Domino made one last call, making her voice as pleasant as possible.

"Operator? Yes, I’m trying to get through to an upstate number, but I think the line might be busy. Could you check that for me?"


"The lines are down? Thank you. . . . Yes, those storms can come up suddenly…."

She hung up the phone, her grip almost breaking the plastic receiver. There could be no other meaning - the mansion was compromised. And if they’d gotten to the X-Men, then . . . Domino shivered, one hand massaging her scalp as she stared blankly at the diner. She was frustrated, angry and a little scared, if the truth was known.
‘Scared is better than dead,’ she told herself, as she sorted through the information slowly.

The X-Men were compromised.
Cable was god-knows-where.
X-Force was captured, possibly dead.
Her instinct was gone and she couldn’t rely on her powers any more.

The trouble was, she wasn’t sure which she feared the most.

they think i make a big deal about nothing
but they still think i’m kinda cute
they joke about the status quo, to break the ice
once the ice is broken
i hope they all fall through

The regulars of the Diner watched the newcomers with looks born of years of reading strangers. Spencer they knew, but the woman. . . . With the lycra suit, shaved head and eye tattoo, she could have stumbled out of any bad punk movie or women’s room in the country. But her eyes were old, the corners lined and creased, the red rims telling of more than a few sleepless nights. Their violet depths were hard, flat, as if she had thrown up every defence she had, and placed them in her eyes for all to see. To the locals she only seemed on thing - trouble.

Domino sat in the booth of the Diner with Spencer, seemingly oblivious to their looks. She ignored their questions and taunts, her body too tired to care what they thought. Instead, her mind drifted to happier times, to one of the memories that she hadn’t let Gryaznova destroy. Susan and Jo. Two weeks living a ‘normal’ life with her family - picnics, kindergarten, grocery shopping. Then back to her normality - wars, set ups, Bastion, and mad women with scalpels.

She took a sip of the coffee then placed the cup down, suddenly unable to stomach the bitterness. Spencer saw her face, and reached out, placing a consoling hand on her arm. She jumped, half defensive, half aggressive, then visibly calmed herself.
"Sorry," she whispered, flashing an apologetic smile. He nodded, heading back to the counter, leaving her with her memories.

because this is no joke to me
they don’t fool me with their acts of sensitivity
they too shall pass
just like everyone who’s only here for my ass

Then came the set up. Her neck still bore the scars of the wire garrotte, her voice was still husky from the scarring. She’d almost killed Bridge because of it. And he’d warned her.
‘Watch your back’.
She had nodded, thinking of the long list of people who wanted her dead. And not even realising that the woman behind it wasn’t even on her list.

and i can’t wait, oh i can’t wait
till they get their due
oh I can’t wait
till they get their due
they’re gonna get their due

All that was left was the here and now, an all night Diner on the Oklahoma interstate, with poor lighting and even worse coffee. And a vague semblance of a plan beginning to form in her head.

Domino and Beaumont left the café, arguing softly as they headed for his rig.

" don’t want to get involved with me. I’m nothing but bad luck these days." Her voice was weary, hinting at a past that he didn’t want to know, that had almost overtaken her. ‘I’m beginning to think that I’m bad luck *most* days, now,’ she thought silently as Spencer tried to change her mind.

"I nearly ran you over this morning. We’re involved already." He paused, his voice softening. "Look, the nearest town’s fifty miles from here. At least let me give you a lift." His eyes were kind, offering her what he could, yet asking nothing in return. She knew she couldn’t drag a man like that into her life, into the suspicion and complication that she was used to. Just giving her a lift meant that he could end up in a gutter with his throat slit. But whether it was the coffee or the bone aching weariness she felt, she was wavering, her consideration being halted by the look of amazement in Spencer Beaumont’s eyes. "What the.."

The sudden roar of engines filled her with hope, and her mouth broke into a slow confident grin as the Pacrat appeared overhead.

"Don’t think I’ll be needing that life, Spence…"

Domino boarded the plane, her private relief that the kids were safe and that Spencer was now out of danger, a short lived comfort. Briefly, she explained her situation and settled back for the ride, the only thought in her head on what had happened to Cable.

baby i’ve only got a minute before i have to go
a minute is all my life will ever allow
let’s grow old and die together
let’s do it now

The chatter in the ship had died down, and Domino sat to one side, lost in her thoughts. Her head rested lightly on one palm as her mind wandered, trying to fight the tiredness her body felt. Her eyes periodically scanned the sky, looking for the trouble that had to come. She wasn’t being paranoid, she was being realistic.
‘You’ve accumulated some bad Karma along the way, girl,’ she told herself with a snort. ‘This must be payback time’.

They’d been travelling for half an hour when the other ship had approached. Slowly it had closed in, and Domino watched, her body almost non-responsive to the situation. She had nothing left to fight with, and her eyes were blank as it drew near.

"Uh - Dom? Any suggestions?"

She shook her head, and tried to focus. The team needed her now, she needed herself.

"Defensive manoeuvres now, Julio."

Her command cut through the silence as the Pacrat swerved and dodged, the other craft following on their tail. She felt the bile rise in the back of her throat as the ship moved in, preparing for the kill.

*I ought to know those moves, Rictor – I’m the one who taught them to you.* The psionic voice filled their heads, and Domino’s shoulders slumped with relief.


While she’d been held with Gryaznova, he’d been fighting his own battles, his own demons, she knew. But she remembered being strapped to the table, the anaesthetic slowly working through her bloodstream. She’d fought it all the way, but eventually the realisation had come that she couldn’t get herself out. This time, it was serious. This time, she was cornered, and all the escape routes had been cut off. She remembered the last thought she’d had before drifting into oblivion. Remembered her rage, her fear, and then the thought, that one man might turn up and save her sorry ass. Again.

because you’ll do the job no one else will do
and you’ll step aside and you will let me come through

She looked at the plane, wondering how his fight had gone. He was alive, obviously, but she knew that some scars were more than skin deep.

The number of times they’d saved eachother’s assess from situations that no sane person would have wandered into. But they had. Oh yes, they were always there, their faces showing absolute confidence in themselves, but each knowing, deep down, that this one could be too much for them.

They’d always managed to do the dirty work for other people. Bridge. Xavier. The X-Men. The list went on. It was an old joke between the two of them. "If we can’t send the X-Men, we’ll send in Nate and Dom."

She remembered, suddenly, that frightful day. The one that was foremost in her nightmares. When he’d saved her from Tolliver. She’d learnt about Vanessa and Wade. He’d learnt that she’d been there for almost a year. And together they had left the building, chasing the fleeing Tolliver; Cable sending her to safety at the last minute, himself flying off in the burning chopper. She shook her head. He’d reasoned it out with her, made her see the logic in the move. He was a continuing reason why she was still alive. She still hadn’t thanked him for it.

you have all my respect
i’ll leave it here when i go
maybe i never told you, baby
maybe you don’t know

The plane banked gently, and she slowly straightened up. Her mind was ticking, trying to decide what she should do. If only all this hadn’t happened. If she’d been able to lead a more normal life, then maybe, just maybe, things would have worked out differently.

And maybe, if she’d told him earlier how she felt . . . instead of avoiding the topic like she had always done in the past. Then maybe things would be different. Maybe if Storm hadn’t come into the picture, she might have finally had the courage to tell him. . .

*Who’re you kidding Dom?* she thought sarcastically to herself.
*You couldn’t even tell Milo, and he was dying. You think you can just walk up to Nathan and say that .. . *
Even in her mind she couldn’t get the words out.

She shivered, one hand rubbing the scar on the back of her neck, as she made up her mind.

but maybe if we wait, if we wait
things will improve
maybe we just wait
and things will improve
you know they’ve got to improve

Domino let the team exit their plane first, and silently brought up the rear. Her hand ran self-consciously over her shaved scalp, the other arm hugging herself protectively.

She snorted in anger, as she realised what she’d become. Whatever Gryaznova had done to her had destroyed her confidence, and her powers. She wasn’t good to anyone in this condition.

Cable watched the team exit the plane with a cursory glance. They were all there, plus Dani. He relaxed somewhat as they moved forwards - no obvious injuries; they were still alright. That concern off his mind, he quickly got down to business. Now he knew they were safe, he didn’t see any need to tell them how much he had worried. How much he’d missed Her. No, She’d understand. She always did.

your basic average super star
is singing about justice and peace and love
i am glaring at the radio, swearing
saying that’s what i was afraid of

Domino had made her decision, knowing there was no other option, and as she watched Nathan greet the team, not even giving her a second glance, she knew she’d made the right choice. Her mind raced through her options - she couldn’t go back to Susan’s, not like this. She didn’t want anyone to see her in this condition, let alone family. She bit her lip as she decided how to tell him.

the system gives you just enough
to make you think that you see change
they will sing you right to sleep
and then they’ll screw you just the same

She prepared herself for the battle that was about to happen, and quietly turned to face him.
"Yeah, Nate?"
He noticed her appearance, the change in features, the way her eyes darted nervously around.
"You coming?" He reached out to her, watching with hurt as she flinched away.

"I don’t think so, Nathan."
"What did they do to you?"
"I got captured. They played around with my head." She shoved him away, taking a step backwards. "And then they dumped me on the interstate. End of story."

He sighed, watching as she backed off, and he reached out, one more time.

"Why are you so intent on pushing me away?"
"Ever wish we could be two ordinary people with ordinary problems?" Her mind flashed back to her sister, and she shook her head. "I know it’s silly because we’re _not_ ordinary… and our lives are complicated by extraordinary circumstance."
Her face had hardened, and he turned, facing her squarely.
"What are you saying?"

She turned away from him, wrapping her arms around herself. "Look at me, I’m shaking. Whatever they did to me on that operating table has thrown me off centre… and until I regain my sense of balance I’m no good to anyone." She turned and faced him. "Not in the field. Not in a relationship. I hope you can understand."
"But Dom…"
"I’m no good to anyone like this, Nate! Not to the team, not to you. And not to myself. Jesus, Nate, I don’t know what’s happening. I’ve got to find out."
"We need you Dom. Now, more than ever. The team’s counting on you."
"Crap. They can look after themselves, Nate. They don’t need me."
"They need you, Dom. Damn it, I need you . . ."

Her eyes filled with tears, but still she couldn’t tell him. She took another half step back as he reached for her again, and stopped his words with an upturned hand.

"No, Nate. Not like this you don’t."

She turned to go, the numbness that had started in Gryaznova’s lab now starting to fill her soul. His hand caught hers, their fingers entwining as he pulled her close, and she looked up tiredly into his battle torn face.

"Dom . . . I . . . ."
Her fingers pressed gently against his lips as she shook her head.
"I know. I know."

Turning, she walked slowly away, and back into the forest.

he says i know you have to go, you have gone before
we are fighting on two different fronts of the same war
but no matter what else i will do, baby
i will wait for you.

Turning, sighing, Cable walked back into the cabin to face the team.


The few fragments of dialogue that might be vaguely familiar were pilfered (okay, borrowed) from X-Force # 70. I just added the scenery.

Lyrics from The Waiting Song, by Ani Difranco.


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