Interlude: Northern Lights

by Alicia McKensie

DISCLAIMER: The characters in this story belong to Marvel, and are being used without permission for entertainment purposes only. Continuity-wise, this is set between 'Dreamweaver' and 'True Believers', during the time Cable and Domino spent in Alaska.

Ahead where there should be the thickness of night
stars are pinned on a shimmering curtain of light
Sky full of rippling cliffs and chasms
that shine like signs on the road to heaven
I've been cut by the beauty of jagged mountains
and cut by the love that flows like a fountain from God
So I carry these scars, precious and rare
and tonight, I feel like I'm made of air...

-Bruce Cockburn, 'Northern Lights'


He's on the roof. I don't believe this. It's minus--hell, I don't even know how cold it is, but this is Alaska, so it's damn cold. And he's sitting up there on the roof of his great-grandparents' house, doing God knows what. Stubborn, aggravating, mule-brained--

He's doing it just to piss me off, I know it. Nathan's not above being petty when it suits him, especially when he's irritable. And Lord, has he been irritable. When Jean, Scott, Logan, Bishop and I first flew up to Alaska, to make sure he was all right after he'd accidentally teleported himself up here, he was alternating between subdued and sheepish. Cute, in a kicked-puppy sort of way. But then the others went home, and it was just the two of us--plus Phillip and Deborah, of course. I don't think the others had been gone for twelve hours, the first time he accused me of being 'overprotective'.

Overprotective? I can feel my blood pressure rising, just thinking about it. First, he nearly gets himself killed fighting the Marauders, and then, before he's recovered, he decides to take up cross-continental teleportation. I think I'm justified in being a little worried about what he's going to get into next. When he's in one of his perverse moods, the man would cross the street to step in dog shit.

Take this morning. I came down for breakfast, and found him telekinetically juggling every piece of silverware in the house. Okay, so maybe I overreacted. But my grip on my temper's a little shaky in the morning, and there he was, like that damned song from Beauty and the Beast--oh, you know, the one where all the dishes are dancing around. 'Be Our Guest', that's it.

So, I yelled. Down came the silverware. The noise alone would've woken the dead. Then he yelled at me, accusing me of distracting him. I pointed out--quite reasonably, I thought--that it should be impossible for someone to sneak up on a telepath, especially when you're psi-linked to him. He snarled something in Askani at me. I asked him to translate; he told me to use my imagination.

Fortunately, Deborah came barreling through the door at that moment to find out what all the commotion was about. She must've thought there was a war going on in her kitchen. She certainly didn't look too happy when I explained what had happened. (Nathan was too busy glowering.)

I had to hand it to her. She didn't scold either of us, didn't raise her voice, but before I knew it, we were both down on our hands and knees, picking up every knife, fork, and spoon that Nathan had dropped. Then we spent the rest of the morning re-washing it all. As if Deborah's floor wasn't clean enough to eat off--

At least it's not snowing anymore. It actually looks clear outside--I can even seen the stars, when I move closer to the window. It's still too cold out there, though. What is he doing? Why won't he come inside?

And what would I do if he did? I can't help sighing. Nate hates inactivity just as much as I do. Worse, maybe, under these circumstances. He needs this time to recover, he knows that--but he's frustrated. I can feel it every time I reach through our psi-link. I don't know what his problem is, no one's clocking him here. He was a mercenary for long enough, he should know that when you're hurt, you take the time to get yourself healed up properly. Otherwise, you pay for it on your next job. I can even remember him lecturing me on the subject, once upon a time.

But he's impatient. He wants to run before he can walk. So, when he falls on his face, he gets cranky. Damn it, I feel like I'm babysitting a three year-old--

I've been trying to be the cheerful one, to keep him distracted. But it's not working. I tried to interest him in a game of chess; he scowled at me and said he wasn't in the mood. I found a box of books in the attic and presented it for 'inspection'. Nate's usually a voracious reader, and he actually did sort through what was in there. Then he scowled and told me that Tolstoy was depressing, Tolkien was pretentious, and that if I expected him to read Danielle Steele that I should just shoot him in the head and get it over with.

Such a charmer.

#Dom?# The voice in my head is tentative, and I wondered for a moment if he heard what I was thinking about. I hope so. It'd serve him right, the--

Yes? I sent back calmly.


He must have heard me. He sounds much too meek.

What, Nathan?

#I--come outside.# The meekness was gone. Now, he sounded determined, as if he was prepared to come and get me if it was neccessary. Well, that's tough! I'm getting sick of putting up with his mood swings. Patience has its limits, and I've never been blessed with an abundance of it in the first place.


#Come outside,# he repeated, quite obviously trying to sound persuasive.

Shove it! Ouch. That was maybe a little harsh. I felt a little chagrin leak down from his end of the psi-link.

#Please?# he said, much more quietly.

That floored me. All right, I said warily, putting on my coat and boots and opening the door. I hadn't taken two steps out when I found myself slowly rising into the air, as if I had just walked into an elevator. Not wanting to take a header into a snowbank, I remained very still so I wouldn't fall off. But as soon as I even thought about falling, the 'elevator' acquired walls. As I floated upwards, I felt utterly safe, part of me tranquilly sure that nothing could happen--

I was still ready to take his head off, though. "Nathan!" I snapped, seething. "What the hell are you doing?"

He was waiting for me at the edge of the roof, glowing faintly gold in the dark. "I didn't want you to slip and break your neck on the ladder," he said innocently as he set me down on the roof and released his telekinetic grip on me.

I glared at him. "What happened to 'not pushing yourself'?"

"You don't weigh all that much."

I snorted at the back-handed compliment, even as part of me worried at the pain I was sensing along our link. I can see it on his face, too, a tightness around his eyes that he can't quite mask. The idiot. "Show-off," I growl. He must have thought he could do it, and then found out mid-way that he was overextending himself. Of course, his pride would never let him admit it. "I hope you enjoy the headache you just earned for yourself."

He scowled at me. "Fine, be like that. I just thought you might want to see something."

"What?" I snapped, studying his face intently.

Nathan sighed. "That," he said, gesturing at the sky.

I took my eyes off him for the first time since he'd lifted me up here, and looked in the direction he was pointing.

"Wow," I said, after a full two minutes of silence. "It's gorgeous."

And it was. I'd seen the northern lights before, more than once, but never as beautiful as they were tonight. The sky was alive--shimmering, dancing. It was almost surreal, something out of a dream. I felt strangely light-hearted as I watched, like the years had fallen away and I was a child again, with a child's sense of wonder in the world around me.

"That's why I came up here," Nathan said more softly, and some of that same wonder was in his voice. "For the view."

"I don't think 'view' does it justice."

"You're probably right."

I heard him sigh again, and turned around in time to see him sit down, his expression tight with pain. He had to be shielding the link, because I could barely feel it. Biting my lip, I sat down beside him, trying to think of what to say. I'd been a little snappish with him, maybe--

He beat me to it. "It was stupid," he said dryly. "You're right, I was showing off. I deserve the headache."

"You were trying to be romantic, I think," I said with a smile. Now that he'd been the one to apologize, I could be magnanimous. "In your own unique way."

"I'm not cut out for it," he muttered. "But I've been such a bastard, these last few days. I didn't want to drive you away completely, so serenading you from under your window was out--" He gave me a wry, self-deprecating grin. "And poetry was a no-go for the same reason--besides, I think you'd die laughing if I tried to recite 'She walks in beauty like the night' to you--"

I hate the way I sound when I snicker. Like a damned escapee schoolgirl--

"Flowers are a little hard to find in Alaska in winter," he continued with a hangdog expression. "I thought of trying to bake you a chocolate cake or something--"


"Don't laugh," he protested. "I've absorbed enough telepathically over the years, I'm sure the technique for baking a cake is in the back of my head somewhere--"

"Oh, God--" I WAS going to die laughing.

"Besides, Deborah told me to stay out of her kitchen or I wasn't going to eat for the next week." He fell silent, staring out at the northern lights. "So I came up with this."

I stopped laughing and wiped my eyes. "It's beautiful," I said softly. "Thank you."

"No, thank you," he said quietly, still not looking at me. "Dom, I--I just want you to know--" He made a frustrated noise. "I--I just--oath!" He glanced up at the sky, as if for inspiration, and then went on, so fast I had to listen hard to keep up with him. "I know I've been acting like an idiot, sulking like some flonqing kid and all that, but I shouldn't have been venting at you just because I'm frustrated with my powers and the world, and anyone else would've flown back home days ago, and I wouldn't blame you if you did, but I'm glad you're still here, because I need you, even if I'm too stubborn to admit it most of the time, and I just wanted you to know that I appreciate it." He finally looked down at me, and seemed a little flustered to find me staring at him. "That you've--put up with me, I mean," he said hesitantly. "Did that make sense?"

I regained my composure quickly enough. Hey, everyone rambles sometimes. I just thought Nathan was the exception to the rule. "I've been putting up with you for more years than I care to remember, Nate," I said easily. "You haven't driven me away yet."

"Okay," he said, still sounding a little rattled. "Good. That's good."

I glanced back at the northern lights for a moment. All right, Dom, where do we go from here? I asked myself. Psi-link or no psi-link, I wasn't sure what he wanted, or what I wanted. It was hard to stop dancing, after all these years. "It's cold out here," I said inconsequentially.

And he put his arm around me. I stiffened in surprise, and glanced up at him. "You--I--" he stammered, then closed his eyes for a moment and continued, his expression only mildly bemused. "We could--um, go in if you like."

Inspiration hit. I fought the urge to chuckle wickedly. Yeah, that would be a way to see how far he wanted to take this--

"No, I think we could find a better way to keep warm," I said suggestively, and batted my eyelashes at him.

He suddenly smiled. "I hate it when you do that."

"Only because it turns you into putty in my hands, Nate."

"It's not fair."

"You going to complain, old man, or are you going to prove me wrong?"

"That sounds like a challenge."

"Take it however you want, Nate," I said with a perfectly straight face.

After that, words would've gotten in the way.


Continued in True Believers

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