Epinikion: Part 8

by Cascade and Alicia McKenzie



"If I eat one thing more, the seams of this dress are going to pop," Kitty groaned, and then gave Pete a dangerous look. "Don't even say it."

Wisdom grinned slyly as he got up, intending to head back to the banquet for a second helping. Marcus certainly hadn't spared any expense on the caterers. "Bloody hell, she's turned into a friggin' mind-reader," he said jokingly, dropping a kiss on top of her head.

"Very funny, Wisdom," she scoffed.

"Ach, will ye listen to the two of them," Moira said with tolerant amusement, sipping her champagne.

"They're just feeling pressured, that's all," Meggan said, her eyes twinkling. "Everyone's having so much fun that they're looking around for more eligible couples to hurry down the aisle." Beside her, Brian snorted, and she gave him a merry look. "And I'd be careful what you say, my love, or I'LL start getting ideas--"


"It was a lovely ceremony, wasn't it?" Lorna Dane said contentedly.

Alex Summers grinned. "Oh, I figured today'd be pretty much uneventful. Like most X-Men weddings, it's the getting-there that's the hard part."

She tossed her emerald hair over one shoulder and gave him a smouldering look. "Present company included, of course," she said sweetly.

He flushed, and downed the rest of his champagne in one gulp.


"What is this, precisely?"

"Fish, 'Star."

"It smells peculiar."

One of the caterer's assistants, rushing by, gave them an indignant look, and Rictor groaned.

"Just eat it."



#Angelo, if you even start to throw that, I will make you wish you had never been born.#

"Um--okay, Ms. Frost--"


Speeches, Logan thought resignedly. Gotta love them.

Marcus wasn't doing TOO bad a job. He was keeping it short and more-or-less funny, rather than wallowing in sap. After Marcus made an admittedly clever sort of toast, Logan just leaned back in his chair, and listened to the rest.

"--and I can honestly say, it's a pleasure to welcome you to the family," Marcus said warmly, and hugged a furiously blushing Sam. "Of course, it goes without saying that if you ever make her unhappy, I'll kill you," he concluded in the same friendly tone. A ripple of laughter ran through the audience.

"You stole my line, Hawkes," Cable said laconically from another table, and the laughter grew louder.

"We can make it a joint venture," Marcus said generously, and sat down again, grinning at Sam and his sister.

"And--that would make it YOUR turn, Nathan," Lila drawled with a grin from over where she was playing MC. "Come on, now. Dazzle us with your words of wisdom."

Logan snorted. Lila's in fine form tonight. He grinned as Cable rose, giving Lila an eloquent look of disgust. She rose from her seat, dropping an ironic little curtsy.

"Thanks, Lila," Cable said dryly. He went over to the head table--technically, he was supposed to be sitting there, Logan knew, but he'd gone over to sit with Domino almost immediately, and no one had decided it was neccessary to mention the seating plan to him--and stood behind Sam and Dana, who looked up at him inquisitively.

Sulven suddenly straightened in her chair, grinning. Logan gave her a wary look. "What?" he asked.

#Just watch.#

Cable was already speaking, and Logan pulled his attention away from the alarming sight of a grinning Sulven and focused on what he was saying.

"--must admit, I'm in awe that these two could get their act together at such a tender age," Cable said wryly, to general amusement. "Quite a feat, considering the life we live and all the compromises we end up having to make." The crowd was quieter now, listening. "They've had a lot of obstacles to overcome--not the least of which being the fact that they're both as stubborn as donkeys--"

"Mules, Nathan!" Domino corrected, and his eyes narrowed as he looked over at her. There was a great deal of chuckling going on again. Domino smiled at him serenely. "Of course, your word choice could have been worse--"

The chuckling turned into open laughter. Cable gave her a martyred look, and waited for the crowd to quiet down.

"Thanks, Dom. Appreciate that," he said with a glower, and then turned back to the newlyweds, the irritation vanishing from his face. "But it's the thought that counts," he said, more quietly, "and even when Sam and Dana were apart, they were always together in their minds--in their hearts." Sam reached out and took Dana's hand. She beamed at him and nodded, her eyes shining, and Logan couldn't help a smile. "On that note," Cable continued, his tone oddly considering, "I think now might be a good time for my wedding gift." He finally smiled down at the two of them, and his eye flashed.

Dana suddenly gasped, and looked at Sam for a moment before she turned back to Cable. "Can you do that?" she asked tentatively.

"I wouldn't be offering if I couldn't," Cable said patiently, and glanced at Sam. "Sam? Do you trust me?" he asked.

Sam's smile could have lit up the whole backyard by itself. "You bet, sir," he said determinedly.

"'Ven? What's going on?" Logan muttered.

#He's going to create a psi-link for them,# she sent back, still grinning.

Cable closed his eyes, laying a hand first on Dana's shoulders, then Sam's. And then, the air around him was glowing fiercely gold, outstripping the soft radiance of the strings of lights decking the tent. A few gasps came from the audience. Logan saw Jean staring at her son in amazement, while Betsy merely looked intrigued and Emma seemed to be itching to take notes.

It took only a moment. His eyes watering, Logan stared right at the three light-wrapped figures at the head table. He thought he saw a tendril of warm blue light creeping away from Sam, and one of a pale rose coming from Dana. They met, flashing silver at the point of contact--

And then were gone, as the golden light surrounded Cable dimmed and faded. Sulven laughed in delight, clapping. #Beautifully done, little brother!# he heard her project at Cable.

Cable nodded wearily in her direction, his shoulders slumping, and then looked down at Sam and Dana, who were staring into each other's eyes as if they'd never met before.

"It'll grow as you want it to grow," he said, sounding worn out but thoroughly pleased with himself. "The two of you will shape it, determine what it ends up to be. It's not a real psi-link, since neither of you are a telepath. More along the lines of an empathic bond--" He shrugged in a poor attempt at diffidence. "Best I could do."

Dana looked up at him, tears shining in her eyes, and took his hand. She mouthed 'thank you'. Sam still seemed enraptured, his attention fixed on Dana as if there was no one else in the world.


"So, that was kind of cool, wasn't it?" Jubilee asked diffidently as Cable went and sat down again.

"Give it up, Lee," Everett said with a snort. "You thought it was incredibly romantic, so don't pretend otherwise."

She gave him an arch look. The speechmaking was pretty much done, but Lila carried on a running monologue to kill time as her band started to set up for the dancing. "If you like mush," she said, sticking her tongue out at him.


"Most interesting!" Hank pronounced. "And a very appropriate wedding gift, I would say."

"Mmm," Scott said, and shared a smile with Jean. I wonder if we should give them some tips on living with a psi-link, he said, remembering what it had been like when THEIR link was growing and changing, bringing them closer together.

Jean's eyes glimmered. #I don't think they need any help from us,# she sent back amusedly. #Unless you're wanting to vicariously relive all that fun and excitement through them--#

Why would I need to do that? Scott asked, his smile growing into a grin. I relive it every day that I spend with you.

#Oooh--you sweet-talker, you. Keep it up and I might have to respond in kind.# Jean flashed him a few images of what 'in kind' might entail, and Scott straightened with a cough.

"Why, Slim," Hank said merrily. "I'm afraid your epidermis in the facial area has turned a shade resembling that of your visor--"

"Thanks, Hank."

"Don't mention it, fearless leader."


"If the happy couple would please take center stage on the dance floor, I believe it's time for the first dance." Lila announced over the microphone. Sam rose from his seat and offered his hand to Dana gallantly, helping her up from her chair, then offering his arm as he lead her to the center of the floor.

"The couple has chosen "Don't Wanna Miss A Thing," by Aerosmith as their song." Lila continued. Dana looked around herself self-conciously, as she gathered her train in her hand so it would be out of the way.

"You realize," she whispered to Sam, "that the last time I had people watching me this closely while I danced was my first, and not coincidentally, my last ballet recital. I was seven. It wasn't pretty."

He chuckled quietly as he took her in his arms. "Relax, girl," he whispered gently. "Ah'll just focus on you, and ya just focus on me and we'll get through this fine. We shouldn't even notice 'em. Besides, ah'm the one who has ta lead."

She smiled softly as the song started.

I could stay awake just to hear you breathing,

watch you smile while you are sleeping

while you're far away and dreaming

I could spend my life in this sweet surrender

I could stay lost in this moment forever

Well, every moment spent with you

is a moment I treasure...

A stir went through the audience as those watching listened to the words, most of them making the connection and realizing what meaning they held for an External who'd just married a woman he would almost certainly outlive. Lila's version of the song was slower, more wistful and yearning than the original. By the time the band had gotten to the second verse, there was barely a dry eye in the house.

I don't wanna close my eyes

I don't wanna fall asleep

'Cause I'd miss you, baby

And I don't wanna miss a thing

'Cause even when I dream of you

The sweetest dream would never do

I'd still miss you, baby,

And I don't want to miss a thing...

"I used to think this song was sort of cheesy," Jimmy whispered.

Terry, tears shining in her eyes, looked over at him and smiled, taking his hand.

"Aye. So did I."

And I'm wondering what you're dreaming,

Wondering if it's me you're seeing...

#I like this tradition, Logan.# Sulven's 'voice' was soft, and Logan thought he saw a suspicious brightness in her one real eye.

"Thought you would, 'Ven," he said gruffly, and tried to pretend the song hadn't affected him as much as it actually had. Lila was sure hitting her stride tonight.

I just wanna hold you close

Feel your heart so close to mine

And just stay here in this moment

For all the rest of time

"They made a good choice, don't you think?" Domino asked softly. "Of songs, I mean--"

"Moments," Cable whispered, watching the young couple move around the dance floor. "How the hell did they get so wise so young?"

"Learned from our mistakes, maybe," Domino said teasingly, leaning over and kissing him on the cheek. You big softie, she sent along the psi-link.

#Bite your tongue,# he grumbled. #I've just got something in my eye.#

Don't want to close my eyes

Don't want to fall asleep

'Cause I'd miss you, baby

And I don't wanna miss a thing

As they danced, the reality of the wedding started to sink in. Sam reflected that maybe that was how the tradition came about. A way to keep the bride and groom in the middle of the spotlight and still give them a moment alone to think. He slid his hand from her hip to the small of her back and pulled her closer. Her cheek touched his and she sighed happily as she rested her head on his shoulder

He closed his eyes briefly trying to quell the possessive 'Mine, mine, mine!' feeling that he got when he was around her now. He wondered if it was because of the new psi-link or if it was normal. He guessed the latter. The psi-link was still just a tingling little silver buzz in the back of his mind. He really couldn't understand what he was getting through it yet, unless Dana deliberately pushed something at him. He pulled back his head to kiss her, and noted the link's sparkle of emotion. Which particular emotion he wasn't able to figure yet, but he assumed it was one of the good emotions. He dazedly realized the music was drawing to a close, and spun her out a little belatedly, drawing her back into his arms after the music had already ended, although no one seemed to mind.


"Now we come to the moment we've all been waiting for," Lila said slyly. "Will Dana's feet make it through this next dance intact?" Cable gave her a dirty look, and she chuckled. "Or will the 'father' of the bride shoot the leader of the band for her errant sense of humor?"

"Very funny, Cheney."

Dana firmly took Cable's arm and led him out onto the dance floor. "Ignore her," she said with a bright smile, a little amused at how anxious he looked. But he'd been so tolerant of her nerves before the ceremony, she didn't dare laugh at him now. "It's only a few minutes--"

#The longest few minutes of my flonqing life, I bet--#

Dana smiled. "Don't worry so much," she murmured, and then chuckled before he could answer. "I know, I know--it's like telling the wind not to blow--"

"Very funny," he muttered.

"This song was the choice of the bride," Lila said blithely, "since we all know that Nathan has little to no taste in contemporary music--"

"Drop it already, Cheney!" Cable called, exasperated, to the laughter of most of those watching.

"Sorry, Nate, couldn't help myself--anyways, the song is called 'Power of One' by Merril Bainbridge."

"Interesting title," Cable muttered, and Dana smiled again.

"It's a better song."

He opens up my mind

In a way nobody else has ever

He opens up my dreams

Now the life I see is so much brighter

What makes it so that one can touch another

In such a way

We underestimate the beauty

And the power of one

#How long did you have to look before you found this song?# Cable's voice in her mind was gruff, suspiciously so, and Dana's vision suddenly blurred for a moment. #And don't do that, you'll wreck your make-up.#

It almost set off another giggle-attack, but part of her honestly didn't want to ruin this moment. It was so full of memory, all the images of all the years she'd known this man racing through her mind's eye--all the laughter and tears, all the pain and joy.

He opens up my fears

To degrees I never thought existed

He opens up my heart

To relieve the many pains afflicted

What makes it so that one can touch another

In such a way

We underestimate the beauty

And the power of one

He still scared her, sometimes. There was still that driven, obsessive side of his nature that would have set off warning signals in anyone with even a flicker of empathy. But he'd worked beyond that, at last. Or maybe he'd just gone farther into what he had always been, rediscovered the man he had been before his life had been destroyed and he'd been sent back to the past on his lonely, terrible, desperate mission. To her empathic sight, he was like a tower of strength--the sort of strength you could build a new world on.

A mental sigh. #What did I tell you about romanticizing things?#

I'm not romanticizing, she shot back. It's how I feel. His emotions were tangled, hard to identify, but she tried anyways. She felt resistance, and a strangely uncharacteristic embarassment--but beneath it all, shining like a beacon, the same warmth and love that had sustained her through all those terrible months in the future when she'd been faced with such pain and suffering that her empathy had all but shut down in self-defense.

His arms around her tightened. #I would have done anything to have spared you that, Dana,# he sent softly.

Her vision blurred again, and this time, she didn't bother trying to wish the tears away. I wouldn't have traded that time for the world, she sent back proudly. It might not have been fun, Nathan, being without Sam for so long and seeing everything I saw, but I wouldn't be the person I am now without those experiences. Or without you--

Though alone this life we leave and enter

In existence of the flesh

We all need to feel a hand that's tender

One hand one heart can affect another

In such a way

We underestimate the beauty

And the power of one

The music trailed off into silence, and Dana took a step back, smiling up at Cable and blinking back tears. The expression on his face was strange, more tender than she'd ever seen it.

#I love you, Dana,# he said. #And I'm so proud of you--#

She threw herself into his arms, not hearing the soft murmurs from the members of the audience loathe to interrupt the moment. "I love you too," she whispered against his chest, "mi'tirvan."

The word was Askani. Inflected one way, it referred to a male teacher. The way Dana had said it was harder to translate. The best approximation in English was 'father of my heart', but, having learned Askani courtesy of Cable's telepathy, Dana knew that there was more, much more to the word than that, nuances that were as much telepathic and empathic as verbal.

And she meant every bit of it.

Cable's arms went around her. #You make me cry in front of all these people, Hawkes, you're going to pay,# he sent back, his 'voice' barely more than a whisper.

You big fraud, Dana sent back gleefully. A big, tough Askani warrior with a heart of pure marshmallow underneath--

He laughed, and led her off the dance floor and back to the head table. #I think I need a drink.#


"Would you care to dance, Ororo?"

"That--would be very nice, Forge. Thank you."

Bobby Drake watched Forge lead Ororo out onto the dance floor, smiling until he was distracted by the sound of a growl coming from beside him.

"Bishop?" he asked tentatively.

"What, Drake?" Bishop growled, still staring at Ororo and Forge.

"Oh, c'mon, Bishop. I didn't see you asking her," Cecilia said pointedly, raising an eyebrow. "He who snoozes loses, big guy--"

"Bishop?" The shy, hesitant voice belonged to Gina, who stood behind Bishop's chair, her hands twisting together as if in an unconscious reflection of her uncertainty.

Bishop's dark look vanished utterly as he saw her. "Yes, Gina?" he asked, and if Bobby hadn't known better, he'd have thought there was affection in the time-lost X-Man's dark eyes.

Gina hesitated, absently smoothing her blue dress, and then plunged onwards. "Dance with me? Please?"

Bishop opened his mouth and then closed it. He suddenly rose, so abruptly that Gina took a step backwards with a squeak.

"I would be honored," he said gruffly, and led the girl out onto the dance floor.

Bobby watched them, grinning. "Damn, she's certainly growing up." You saw glimmers of the girl she'd been sometimes--she was still a little too shy, Bobby thought personally--but in every respect, Gina was slowly but surely growing into a lovely young woman.

"More than you think," Cecilia said cryptically, and Bobby turned to see her approving--approving?--grin.

"What are you talking about?"

"She's not as meek as she comes off sometimes," Cecilia said wickedly. "And she knows EXACTLY what she wants." She waggled her eyebrows in the direction of where Bishop was competently if hesitantly guiding Gina around the dance floor.

Bobby blinked, and then nearly jumped out of his chair when Cecilia's implication hit. "No way! She's not even eighteen yet!"

"How old was Kitty when she got involved with HER older man?" Cecilia said with a chuckle. "Bishop's stubborn--I'd give it maybe another couple of years before he wakes up to the whole thing. But he's hooked, whether he likes to admit it or not. I suspect there's been a little string tied to his heart ever since he brought her home from Alberta. He just didn't notice it."

Bobby forced himself to relax, and shook his head in disbelief. "That's just weird."

"Yeah? And how many NORMAL relationships are there around here?" Cecilia scoffed.

"You've got a point." He gave Cecilia a measuring look. "Would YOU like to dance?"

He was rather amused to see her blush.


"Paige, would you care to dance?" Paige looked up at Marcus's request in surprise.


He offered his arm, and raised an eyebrow entreatingly. She glanced over at Jono. He only shrugged. Paige frowned. Jono had been depressing all day. He refused to dance, or join in the festivities any more than he had to.

Well, fine! she thought to herself. I'm not going to let him ruin my day! After all it's not everyday you get to dance with a millionare playboy... even if he is a member of the family now... She took Marc's arm and he smiled debonairly and led her out to the dance floor.

"Ahem." Dana cleared her throat as she slid next to Jono, where he was leaning against one of the tables.

#Well, wot is it?# he sighed. She didn't look at him, instead gazing out towards where Marcus and Paige were dancing.

You're being a twit.

#Any particular reason?# he asked, unimpressed.

How come you won't dance with Paige?

#'Cause I can't bloody dance...#

That's not stopping half the people out there... Why are you so doom and gloom over here? If you were a cartoon a little raincloud would be hovering over your head! Go cut in and dance with Paige.

#I don't see how it's any of your bloody business--#

Without warning, Dana reached out and smacked Jono in the back of the head without looking. She's my new sister-in-law you stupid little Brit. I want to see her happy. It would make her very happy if you would pay a little attention to her. It would make her even happier if you would go cut in and dance with her. Have you even told her how pretty she looks today? Jono paused a moment too long and Dana, despite her long wedding dress, hauled him up by the collar and shoved him in Paige's direction.


Hey, nothing. Get out there!

He scowled at her, but nevertheless started to drag his sorry carcass towards the dance floor. Dana smiled smugly.

"And what was that about?"

"Oh, nothing." Dana said innocently as she turned towards her new husband. He snorted and pulled her into his arms as she straightened his bow tie.

"Somehow Ah don't quite believe you," he smiled, resting his cheek against her temple.


"Cute trick," Domino said. "With the psi-link, I mean--"

Cable sighed, leaning back in his chair. "Not a psi-link--"

"I know, I know. The empathic bond, pardon me," she groaned. "Still--it was a sweet thing to do."

His mouth quirked. "Maybe I just wanted them to have a taste of what I go through every day, linked to you--"

She raised an eyebrow, even though she knew he was only joking. "Never a dull moment, huh?" she said, affecting a frosty tone.

"I wouldn't have it any other way," he said softly, and Domino smiled at the sincerity pouring down the psi-link.

"Likewise," she murmured, and reached across the link with a gentle mental caress. He caught her before she could withdraw again, and for a moment they were lost in each other's eyes again, their hearts beating in time as they experienced one of those rare moments of complete unity that came so rarely with all the strife and worry that marked their lives lately.

Feel sorry for them-- she sent back in a mere whisper.


She's not a telepath, like you said. They'll never be able to manage this sort of connection--

#They'll find their own way.# Warmth and love and pride, tinged with amusement, flowed into her. #Probably faster than we did.#

Some things are worth waiting for.

#You won't get any argument out of me, Dom.#

Some commotion over by the raised platform where Lila's band was set up drew them out of that total rapport. Sam's brother Josh, guitar in hand and smiling sheepishly, was sitting down on the chair Lila pulled up for him.

Lila turned and reclaimed her microphone. "Come on, all you couples," she said coaxingly. "Get out on the dance floor--I can guarantee you that you'll be kicking yourselves if you sit this song out."

"Come on," Domino said determinedly. "You haven't been back out there since you danced with Dana--"

"There's a REASON for that, Dom--"

"Oh, quit whining. I was the one that gave you all those dance lessons, I deserve to benefit from them," she said with a grin.

"Whining?" he said almost plainitively, but let himself be drawn out onto the floor.

"That's the spirit!" Lila said, nodding approvingly at the crowd that had materialized. "Ladies and gentlemen, I'm proud to present the very talented Josh Guthrie. Brother of the groom--and he's still available, all you younger ladies out there." Josh blushed furiously, and Lila laughed, clouting him on the shoulder. "Knock 'em dead, kid," she said encouragingly, before giving up the stage to him.

Josh cleared his throat, took a deep breath, and without any further ado, started to sing. The melody was country-and-westernish, but not overly so. It was gentle, tinged with melancholy but incredibly beautiful. It almost didn't need the soft guitar accompaniment, Domino thought as she and Nathan began to sway slowly to the music.

Well, they say that you can never

Never go back home

And if you're bound to wander

You're bound to be alone

You say I got no right

To feel what I feel

When I look into your eyes

But that I dream of you, most every night

Comes as no surprise

#This is a little too appropriate,# Nathan's voice said softly in her mind.

No shame in admitting what a pair of stubborn idiots we used to be, Domino sent back in amusement. But the spell of the song was too strong, and she let it go, leaning her head against his chest and just basking in the music and the moment, perfectly content.

Well, I've been out on this road for so long

Far and wide do I roam

But something in your smile tells me

I'm almost home

#More like 'back off, you idiot'--#

Nate, shut up before I brain you.

Well, I've been out on this road for so long

I was lost in the dark all alone

'Til the light in your eyes showed me

I was almost...

Home is where the heart is

And my heart goes with you

I would travel til the end of time

If it's what I have to do

Just to spend one night

where your sweet love-light comes down

shining down on me...

The music trailed off, and Domino took a step back, staring up into his eyes, part of her almost awed by how fearfully appropriate the song had indeed been. "Someone out there's got a sense of humor," she said, and managed a rather shaky smile, telling herself that no, she was not going to get all weepy. "So, would you?"

"Would I what?" Nathan asked softly, never looking away from her. All around them, the crowd was breaking up, most heading back to their seats, but he didn't seem to notice, or care.

"Go to the end of time for me," Domino said lightly, and was rocked backwards by the blaze of light that suddenly scorched down their link, brighter than the sun, full of a love so immense that it would have made her feel very small if it hadn't made her feel like she was on top of the world, soaring--

"To the end of time and back again," Nathan whispered, and leaning forward, kissed her.

Peace was a fragile, difficult thing to find when your life was one unending war. But sometimes, if you looked hard enough, you could find an eternity of it, inside one, fleeting moment.

to be continued...

Part 9

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