by DuAnn Cowart



Standard disclaimers apply.

This is obviously set in the recent events of X-Force, and lacks much of a point other than I simply wanted to write something short and easy tonight.

Language warning, but nothing too rough.

Hey, Jimmy, pull up a chair- or better yet, bring me another beer, and then pull up a chair. It's in halftime now, and surprisingly enough, it's shaping up to be a pretty good ball game.

Yeah, the Dolphins and the Falcons. I usually prefer college ball, but you take what you can get, you know? Anything's better than watching that Temptation Island. I don't care if Jesse and Tab both swear it's the best thing since Starbucks, I'm not watching that crap.

I agree completely. No, I don't have any money riding on this one- just nothing better to do. Care to place a friendly wager on the game?

Coward. Ahhhh, despite your craven nature, I must admit that you fetch good beer. So, Jimmy, you and I haven't had a chance to talk much since I came back. How's everything going? Glad to hear it.

How'm I doing? Fine, I guess. . . Ah, hell, to tell you the truth, I don't know. That was one big ass lizard that came out of my back. I've seen some screwed up shit in my day, but I grew a *lizard* out of my *back*.

You don't have to hide that smirk. I'll be the first to admit that it's funny. A lizard. My back. That'd be a hell of a halftime show, wouldn't it?

A friggin' lizard. I can't help but wonder what in the hell will come next. It seems our lives get sillier every single day.

Yeah, you're probably right- I don't really want to know, either. Now that Pete's weird little buddies are gone, maybe things will get back to normal for a while. Wishful thinking, I know.

What do you mean, what am I thinking about? What, you mean you haven't developed telepathy along with that flying business? I'm teasing you, kid. You know that. Poke your lip back in, and watch the football game. It's started back.

Nah, seriously, I was thinking about my scars. Junior took them all away, rebuilt me good as new, inside and out. Physically, I feel twenty younger- oooh, fumble, tough call. . .

Sorry. Anyway, it sounds funny, but I kinda miss how I used to be. My body, my scars, really are- were- my life story in Braille, each one a souvenir of my past.

Here, see this? Don't blush, Jimmy, you've seen the inside of a woman's thigh before. See this smooth skin? Two weeks ago there was a long jagged scar right there. It was so old and faded that you could barely see it, but trust me, it was there.

What happened? I got caught in some constantine wire on one of my first ops with the Six Pack. Damn, that one was bad. I almost bled out, if I recall correctly. It was a bad one. Twenty years ago, and you could still feel the ridge of skin. Not that I've had anybody touch it in quite some time, more's the pity.

Oh, I'll talk about my sex life- or lack thereof- if I want to. Quit being such a baby. I was talking about my scars.

They're all gone. The gunshot scars, the burn marks, the tear wounds- all of them, gone. Even the bad ones, even the ones I can't remember how I got, they're all gone.

Not a moment too soon, either. Philosophical musings aside, time was beginning to take its toll on me. I'd never admit it to anyone else, but I was beginning to *wrinkle*. All Tabby's snide little comments about me getting old were true.

Hmpf. Little heifer. I just hope I'm around when *her* boobs begin to sag. See if she gets any sympathy from *me*. By then she'll pray for a lizard to make her perky again.

Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy, come back, I'm sorry, I'll behave, I promise. No more talk about girly parts, promise.

We can talk about football and manly parts instea- Jimmy! Come back. I'm teasing, dammit. You used to have a sense of humor.

Smart ass. I guess I deserved that. . . Hey, I'm gettin' another beer, you want one? DAMN! Look at that play! Fourth and inches to go to tie it. . . It might just turn into a real game, yet.

Here you go. By the way, I've been meaning to ask you. Have you heard from Terry lately?

That's good. I'm glad to hear she's doing better- therapy works wonders, you know. I need to e-mail her myself, let her know what's gone on.

Oh, you did? Not that I mind her knowing, but wonderful. Next thing you'll say is that you called Nate, too, let him know what happened.

Oh, hell. Don't say that- shit, Jimmy.

It's none of his friggin' business, that's why.

What's the difference in telling Terry and telling Nate? Terry's still part of this team, that's the difference. She might be on leave right now, but she's still part of X-Force, and she needs to be kept up to date. She needs to know she's not forgotten.

. . . No, that wasn't a dig at you. I understand why you all did what you did. I don't blame you for it.

Don't look at me like that. I don't. You needed what Pete could give you way more than you needed me hanging around. I don't. . . well, I won't say I was happy about it, but I understood.

Yeah, I miss him, too. Pete and I were. . .not quite friends, but we knew each other, and I trusted him.

Do you think I would have left you with him if I didn't?

. . . Damn, I can't believe you called Nate. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that I haven't heard from him. Nice to see the son of a bitch is consistent in his not giving a shit.

Oh, don't defend him, Jimmy. Take it from someone who knows, that gets real old, real fast. Nate cares about one thing- Nate. Whether it's his destiny or his philosophy or his mission, or whatever else he wants to call it, all he cares about is himself. You ought to know that by now.

Don't talk to me about fair. Not when it comes to that. I don't want to hear it.

Jimmy. . .

I'll be however I damn well want to be when it comes to Nate. No matter what Junior did to my body, I'm too damn old to be anyone's beck and call girl anymore. Especially when he can't even be bothered to pick up the friggin' phone when you tell him I almost died. Again.

Hold on. . .

Jimmy. . . I'm no telepath, but you're thinking pretty damn loud over there. What does that look mean?

Oh, for goodness' sake, spit it out. What are you trying to say?


He was here? What do you mean, he was here? When?

I . . . see. And no one saw fit to tell me about this?

Oh. He asked you not to, so you didn't. Heaven forbid we should disobey the mighty Cable. Yeah, I see.

I . . .

. . . I think you'd better go, Jimmy. Now.

I don't want to hear it. Jimmy, I said. . .

Screw this. Game or no game, I'm out of here.

. . .

Get your hands off me, Jimmy! You're not too big for me to take over my lap, and not in the good way!

I'm serious, too, dammit! Don't make me . . .

Shit, Jimmy. You could have told me.

Yeah, well, it's a little too late now, don't you think?

Easy for you to say. It's not that friggin' simple! It's *not*. Things have never been easy between us. What makes you think this changes anything?

Oh, look. Falcons got another touchdown. How exciting.

No, I'm not trying to change the subject. What the hell more do you want me to say? You want me to get all weepy and girly and cry on your shoulder? I don't *do* that, Jimmy. Not for Nate, not for anybody. That's not me.

It's not me, dammit.

What makes you think I care, anyway? So he came to see me when I was unconscious. Big deal. It's not like that means anything.

No, of course I didn't see his face, dipshit. That's sort of my point, isn't it?

I don't know why he cared, anyway. Last time I saw him I was trying to kill him.

He told you about that? Lovely. What else did he say?

. . . oh. Well, it's no secret, I *do* look twenty years younger. So does he. Occupational hazard, it seems.

. . .I can't believe the bastard came. . .

Anyway. Enough on that. How about this game?

Jimmy. I said I don't want to talk about it anymore, OK? Got it?

Good. Now watch the friggin' ball game, the clock's running down, and I want to see who wins.

Oh. A commercial. Great. So. . . Any more secrets I should know about? Don't tell me Jesse has found my hidden liquor cabinet.

Hah. That's just the decoy. For a geriatric, I've still got some tricks up my sleeve- Ah, we're back. Look, the Dolphins just called their last time out.

Wonder what they'll do. . .

Yeah, yeah, very funny. Now shut up and let an old woman enjoy her football game. They've still got a chance for one last play. Maybe they'll pull it out-

Hey, they could! You never know how the damn things will turn out. No matter how bleak it looks, there's always a chance for things to fall into place, as long as their hearts are still in the game.

All you gotta do is want it, right? Isn't that what Wolf Waters always told his team?

. . . I wish it were that easy. . .

Yeah, right. Now drink your beer and be quiet, kid. We'll talk about all that later. I've got more important things to worry about.

Can't you see that I've got a football game to watch right now?


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27

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