In My Image
- Interlude Two
DISCLAIMER: They're not mine, they're Marvel's.
Unfortunately. I make no money, but this is part of a large story I'm kinda fond
of, and that's fun too.
CONTINUITY: This picks up immediately after In My Image part 4. Why is it an interlude? Because it doesn't really have anything to do with the main plot, it just happened. Again, Lynx's fault. :)
Domino stood silently, watching. She was good at watching, and had been watching this man for almost half her life. She'd watched his back, watched his arse, watched his mouth, watched him fall and watched him crawl back to his feet. And there had been times when she'd done more than watch those things. She'd slept curled against his back, possessively patted his arse, kissed his mouth, helped him fall apart and offered a steadying hand to get him up again.
And now she was back to watching. Watching the back of his head from a doorway, and wondering if an offered hand would be accepted even if she wanted to give it.
"I know you're there, Dom."
"I know that you know." She stopped leaning on the doorframe and sounded carefully casual. "Want some company?"
"Suit yourself." He finally met her eyes as she sat down opposite him, blue-grey eyes unreadable. "Watching to make sure I don't suddenly turn evil and go on a homicidal rampage?"
"Nope. Watching to see if you drink that whole bottle and fall over, so that I can point and laugh."
"This is my first one." He waved the glass and its highly alcoholic content at her gently. "You see, I want a drink. But I also don't want one, because anything that affects my mind probably isn't a good idea right now. So I just keep looking at it." He stared balefully down at the scotch. "I think it's mocking me."
"Nothing worse than booze getting above itself." Domino lifted the glass out of his fingers and tossed the shot back in one smooth swallow. "There. That'll teach it."
Nathan took the glass back and refilled it, then went back to staring at it. Domino's eyes narrowed. He was doing the sulky martyr face again. She HATED the sulky martyr face.
"You can hardly expect it to respect you if you keep pouting at it, Nate."
"I'm not pouting."
The face had changed to Righteous Outrage. She was much more fond of that one, it was so much fun to torment. And sometimes it turned into the teasing face, then the don't-worry-about-coming-hither-I'll-come-to-you face... She shook her head to dispel that thought. "You are so. We could install a satelite dish on that lip. Actually, that's not a bad idea..."
He snorted. "Why don't you just wire my techno-organics into the aerial and make me live on the roof?"
"Even better idea." She stole his scotch again, swirled it, drank it, and gave the glass back with a smile. "Or you could just talk to me about it and stop being such a bitch."
"Get that eyebrow down and don't try to deny it. You've been in a ratty mood for months, but it's got worse in the last two hours. I know a bitch when I see one, I've been one often enough."
"That you have."
"You say that like it's a bad thing."
He laughed. "What a hypocrite. Why is okay for you to be a bitch, but when I do it I get lectured?"
"Because I'm the resident woman-in-a-man's-world gun-toting tough cookie. You're the tall broody one with the Shady Past." He still looked dubious, so she clarified. "You're Angel, okay?"
He frowned. "Which makes you..."
"Buffy, obviously." She thought about that for a second. "Except older, less airheaded and with a better butt."
"I'm going to have to deny that I have any idea what you're talking about. I've never watched an episode of either show in my life." He looked at her consideringly. "Does this mean that you're going to run off with some hormone-enhanced loser who wouldn't know military protocol if it beat him to death with his own shoe?"
"Earlier today I was tempted."
"The, ah, other Sam... I wanted to talk to him for a moment, so Sam did whatever it is they do to switch. And I asked him why he saved my life." She didn't realise how soft her smile had become, but Cable certainly noticed. "And he said 'because I love you'."
"Oh." Cable drank his new scotch without remembering that he wasn't supposed to.
Domino frowned, then suddenly laughed. "You just got jealous, didn't you?"
"Why the hell would I be jealous?"
"I don't know, but you were." She laughed again. "Oh, that's priceless. You push me away again and again until I finally give up for good, then you get jealous of SAM because he loves me."
"He's not Sam."
"But he was when he loved me, wasn't he? Because in his world I died a few weeks ago." He looked away, but she cupped his face between her hands and physically pulled his head back around, leaning across the table so that he had no choice except to look at her. "I won't pretend it didn't happen, Nate. It's what we're both looking at, isn't it? We died."
"You died, Dom. And thinking of that... hurts. But I didn't just die, I gave in and I... failed."
"I failed too. I failed Sam, I failed all of them. I wasn't there to protect them when things went wrong, I wasn't there to take you down like I always promised that I would if it came to that." She still held him firmly, trying to figure out a way to put all her thoughts into words that couldn't be misunderstood. She had died, he would have... still might. What good was post-mortem pride? "He said... that the reason you gave up was that I broke your heart. Was that true?"
"It didn't happen here, how should I know?"
"Was that true?"
He pulled away with a jerk. "Does it matter? It didn't happen!"
"I want to know!" She pushed a hand angrily through her hair instead of giving in to pettiness and trying to push it through his face. "God DAMMIT, Nate! It matters to me."
"You? No." She felt her jaw tighten. The bastard was't going to answer her. "I've changed, Nate. That's not enough for me anymore."
Nathan's hand tightened around the glass. Then he threw it.
Fast as her reflexes were, Domino was barely beginning to duck when the glass exploded against the wall to her left, the fragments crackling gold as they fell. "What the FUCK do you want me to say?!" He glared at her, and she actually took a step backwards. "What do you want from me?"
"Not everybody want something from you. I never wanted anything much from you, Nate. Maybe years ago I did... approval, respect, love even. But those aren't really things you take, they're just things that happen. And after a while I stopped needing your approval, earned your respect and was content with loving you. So I didn't want anything from you at all, I wanted something with you. Note the past tense there. Now... I don't want anything from you. Nothing. Do whatever it is that you need to do. They're your choices. Nail yourself to a fucking cross if you want to, but don't expect me to hold the nails." The monologue was longer than she had intended, and more detailed. Truthful though, for all the good that would do. "Goodnight, Nathan." She turned to go, suddenly feeling empty and depressed.
"You know one of the things I regret?"
She stopped, taking a few seconds before turning back around. "What?"
"Having the word 'sorry' banned from my vocabulary." He had both hands pressed against the table and was staring down at them. Flawless silver and slightly scarred tan, but still mirror images of each other in shape. "There are advantages, I'll admit that. And it's usually beter to just deal with something than wasting time on appologies. But sometimes... sometimes I turn around to tell someone that I wish I hadn't done what I had, and I don't have the word for it." He sighed. "It probably sounds so stupid to you..."
"Not really. I know of at least one language that doesn't have a word for 'thank you', but I'm sure they still manage to express gratitude. 'Sorry' is just a shortcut for politeness' sake. Telling someone that you wish you'd done something different, or regret what you did do, or didn't mean them to take something you said in that way... well, it means more."
He turned to look at her then, and for once some of the shutters seemed to be open. "I wish things between us had been different."
"I don't." She smiled at the brief look of confusion. "I wish things between us now were different."
He smiled back at that, a tiny victory. "So do I."
"Isn't that the point though? Your religion forbids appologising, I'm just lousy at it. So we skip that step and go onto the part that means something. Because we want NOW to be different, not because we can actually change what happened before."
"Well, actually I-"
"Don't even finish that sentence." She took the few steps back and put her hand firmly across his mouth. "Dont even think it at me." He grinned against her hand and tried to look innocent. "Promise not to mention it again?" Cable nodded solemnly and she took her hand back. "Good. We have enough trouble with the present without talking about changing the past."
"Our present has enough past-changing happening in it already."
"Yeah." she shook her head. "It's strange. I know he's just an older version of our Sam, you can even see it a little... but he scares me a bit. Just the way he looks. I think he's hiding more than he's telling us."
"I know that he is. He's manipulating me, and he doesn't care if I realise that or not. He knows we don't have much of a choice."
"He cares about it, though. He's.. protective of our Sam. And he hugged me, and told me that he loved me." She grinned. "And you got that suspicious look again."
"I do not."
"You do. I know all your expressions, Nate. I can read you like a streetsign."
"Oh? What does this expression mean?"
"It means you're pretending to be angry and tragically failing." She looked at him in amusement. "See, when you're really angry at me your eye flashes and that little muscle in your jaw clenches. That one right there." She tapped the side of his face lightly. "Besides, you were smiling."
"I was not."
"I was not. And I didn't look suspicious either."
"You did, both times." Domino looked challenging. "Well, YOU don't hug me and tell me that you love me. I'm not getting any love from Pete, either. I'll take cute, stringless affection where I can get it and thank you not to get jealous."
"Do you want me to?"
"What sort of a question is that to ask? If I have to ask you to, you've missed the point."
"How about... if I did hug you, would you try to rip a limb off?"
She thought about that for a moment. "No. I didn't in the hospital, did I?"
"That was different. I was worried, you'd nearly died."
"Welcome to my world, Nate. I've spent years worrying about you, waiting for the one day when you're finally not quite quick enough."
"I can't help that."
"I know. So you better hug me now."
It was just a hug. Although there were probably parts of them that would have liked to 'reconcile' by wild sex right there on the table, it wouldn't really have meant anything. Or maybe it would have meant to much, asked for more than they were capable of giving.
So perhaps it wasn't 'just' anything. Perhaps it was the first part of rescuing their friendship from what their romantic relationship had become. Moving from a sharp-edged past to a more hopeful present, and a future full of possibilities that didn't ever have to be fulfilled if they didn't feel like it.
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