by Brenda Jean Carlson



As always, all standard disclaimers apply. None of the above Chracters are mine, though they do seem determined to visit me often - I suppose I'll have to have a nice little chat with their keepers. No money was exchange in the creation or distribution of this piece, and if any of you archivers out there want it, you can have it...just make sure you let me know where it's going.

Just for the record, the whole debacle actually started because a certain fearless leader I won't bother to name swiped the last of my vanilla ice cream.

There. I wanted to be sure to get that particular fact out from the start, but not so much because the food in question is the important thing. Though come to think of it, you might say it *was,* because if there'd been anything other than Butterbrickle in the Boathouse freezer when I went looking last night, I never would have felt the need to make the trip to the main building in the first place. I mean, in that sense food was the motivating factor: I was suffering from a terrible craving for a large Root Beer Float, you see. I get them occasionally, all right...what do you want to do about it - kill me? And only that same gnawing obsession would have been enough to convince me to leave my husband safely tucked in our warm bed while I made a mad 2am dash up into the mansion's main kitchen.

So my intents for going there were simple - snag the container from Ororo's private stock and run. I simply wanted to 'borrow' the confectionery till I could replace it tomorrow after my bi-annual trip to the local grocery. Yes, I suppose you could claim the act was a kind of larceny - but if you do it may also be pointed out I had a collaborator in my loving husband. After all, it was Mr. Summers...who despite his numerous claims that he didn't even *like* vanilla ice cream...still continually decided to 'sample' a bite here and there when he thought I wasn't looking, until of course a craving hit, and I went to find my pre-supplied float-making stock suspiciously inadequate. In short, if he hadn't been such and ice cream leech, I wouldn't have been reduced to stealing the same from my teammates.

Yeah, so all of this was Scott's fault. That's my defense till the end. Well either that or the ice cream's - and since neither of them are here, I don't imagine either party will be objecting. The point I'm actually trying to make, amidst all this melting ice-milk and derision, was that I didn't go there to ease-drop or with intent to meddle.

For once in Nathan Dayspring's life, his mother wasn't trying to butt in.

But the kitchen light was already on when I got there. It spilled out through the partially open door. And even though they were faint, I heard the soft murmur of conversing voices inside. At that point I edged toward the crack between the hinges - hoping to snag a quick peak while sending a whisper-probe to see if I could identify the mood of the occupants within. I just wanted to make sure I didn't walk in on a sticky conversation, which is always a possibility when you're up this late at night. So as I've already trumpeted, it wasn't deliberate - I wasn't trying to pry.

Luckily that probe was almost non-existent: I'd set it to resemble a accidental mind-brush in case one or both the speakers were telepathic. It's a good thing I did, too, cause anything more aggressive would have most likely broken Nate's attention. It actually didn't take the probe to identify him...visuals were more than adequate . His formidable bulk was digging through the freezer...apparently hunting for something That sight, mixed with the worried irritation that was coming off him, made it easy to identify his companion even before he stepped away so I could see her.

It didn't take a genius to the name of the in-pain woman was who was with him.

"I *told* you to wait another day. Flonq - you tore out half of your stitches." Nathan's growl was ripe with exasperated disgust as he started stacking things on the counter digging deeper into the cooling units bowels.

"I ripped two of them *tops* - stop your whining." Domino's voice held it's own fair share of irritation as she pressed a compress firmly against her shoulder. "It'll be easy enough to re-suture - the fall wasn't that bad. Heck - I won't even need to bother waking Hank." She gave a sudden yelp as Nathan dropped something against her shoulder - apparently what he'd been seeking was one of our portable hot/cold packs. "Ouch that's *cold* Nate - be careful, already! She scowled at him darkly and took over holding the ice pack. "Who told you to get out of bed anyway?"

"You are *not* sewing yourself up." Nathan's next words were perilously close to booming. I could feel Domino's pain just as clearly as he could, and yet somehow I still wanted to laugh despite the mental strain. My dear over-muscled boy was trying to be authoritative - and doing a darn good job of it, if I might add. Only problem was Domino didn't seem the least bit intimidated by the appearance of the general.

A twisted part of me can't begin to say how karmicly good it was to see that.

"Why couldn't you have just waited a few more days?" The next question came after a long stretch of silence. Nate's tone were much calmer now - he'd apparently realized the need for a change in strategy. There was another long pause before he continued still more gently. "You could have at least warned me. Woulda been better then getting torn from a solid sleep like I was. Heck, I coulda been your sparring partner if you were that insistent on doing this. Last I check I was a better game than the blasted drones anyways." He sighed loudly then and checked her shoulder. "Looks like the bleeding finally stopped."

Emotion had been rolling of Dom all this time - exhaustion, pain and dismay mingled with irritation. Relief slowly rolled over all of this as the effects of the ice-pack kicked in. 'He's probably gonna kill me when I tell him the truth...' The thought caught me as it moved past on a wave of humor.

"You want the truth Dayspring - I wanted to make sure I was up to tomorrow...me and the kid have a date." Her laugh was almost hoarse as she continued. "Way I figure I gotta beat the spit out of him."

Nathan's confusion was nearly as acute as mine. What in the world was she talking about? I can only assume he must have given her one of his patented 'huh' looks because Dom actually snorted at him. "It's been almost a week, Nate...he hasn't even talked to me. The kid's gonna get an ulcer from the guilt. Way I figure, kicking his butt but good is the only way we're ever gonna get him past the self-flagellation."

*Shatterstar.* It clicked into place then. Everyone in the mansion knew about the blade she'd taken through the shoulder. We also knew who'd put it there too...since the resident Mojonian had been walking around like an inflatable fill-in. Shatterstar had taken his action hard - even if he'd been under a alternate influence at the time, and it hadn't helped that the wound had been a lot more serious then Domino had led them to believe when it happened.

We all know the truth, now though - Hank said a few more inches and she could very well have lost use of the limb.

"I really haven't been paying all that much attention." Nate's sigh was soft as he discarded the ice pack and began sponging at the wound with a wet cloth. 'Well no big surprise there, buddy...' Nate had been most definitely been watching other things than his students. Domino hasn't been doing anything but light rehab since the day she was injured...thanks directly to Nate's hawk-like vigil. I watched him frown as he lifted a gentle hand to touch the rough edged of the wound that had caused that monitoring, and for a moment the regret burned so bright you could almost see it. "I suppose if you're going to these lengths, though, I better have a talk with him."

Domino gave a queer sounding laugh. "That's the worst possible thing you could do." A wry smile split her face, "He's already having enough trouble knowing he hurt the 'boss' girlfriend.'" An answering snort slipped from Nathan's mouth at that moment, and Dom thumped a finger against his chest chastisingly. "Gotta deal with this my way. You're gonna cause more trouble than good. Besides, this is *my* place, Big Guy - it's between me and him."

Partners. Well that was certainly the right word. The mother in me gloated a bit at the scene. Okay I'll be honest...the mother in me actually gloated *a lot.* I'd long know how my son felt about the woman sitting beside him, but despite numerous attempts to get to know her I'd never really gotten the chance to really see what it was about her that had drawn his attention. Standing there at that moment, though...watching them together, I got a rare glance at the woman only my son seemed to have the privilege of knowing.

Domino wasn't easy for certain, but one thing was clear, she knew a lot about loyalty.

"You can probably get away with butterfly bandages - I assume you've still got Henry's drugs for the pain?" The kitchen floor board creaked as Nathan stood. "I want ice on that for at least another hour." He dropped what was left of the bloody toweling in the sink. "Look, I'll move practice till tomorrow afternoon - rest till then, you should be fine." He gave her a rare full mouthed grin, then ...."Be careful, okay Dom...he hurts you again I'll have to kill him out of pity. And by the way you owe me a new shirt." He looks down at his bloody covered one, "How in the world do you always manage to destroy my favorite ones?"

I won't bother to grace you with her reply to that one. The mother in me didn't have any desire to stay around long enough to see much more than the kiss. Needless to say though, I doubt Nathan got his shirt replaced...not that he minded all that much. Oh, and did I mention that their training didn't take place till the next *evening?* Not that anyone noticed.

Well okay maybe *I* did, but what can I say, I really wanted that Root Beer Float.

Back to Archive