by DuAnn Cowart
Standard disclaimers apply, and as always, feedback is appreciated.
There may be a wee bit of naughtiness,
though, but just a bit.
She moved quickly, fluidly, without really thinking about her movements. Her muscles knew what to do, and with very little concious effort she dispatched the danger room holographic goons with ease. They were fighting in a deserted building, with no civilians present, so there was no need to contain the damage or worry about innocents. She sighed. This was just too damn easy. I'm barely even breaking a sweat, she groused. Not enough effort involved to make me quit thinking about things- I need something with a little kick.
As she stretched she calmly used her authorization code as team leader of X-Force to remove the safety overrides and started over. The environment shifted, and became a dark city street littered with garbage and rubble, with a few winos huddled in alleyways. Now the opponents were much fiercer. They came at her with a slick mechanical precision and she had to use all the considerable resources at her disposal to avoid being hurt, or worse. This time, she knew the game was for real- and as she smoothly spun and fired a plasma burst at a looming Sentinel, she also knew that she wouldn't have it any other way.
He walked down the corridor at a brisk pace. New York had been nice, and he'd decided to keep the apartment there for a while, but it was really good to be home. He hadn't told anyone he was coming, just used his security codes to enter the gate and chatted with Gumbo for a few minutes when he walked in the front door. Gambit had monitor duty that day and had for a change actually paid attention to the job. Seeing the Harley drive up, he'd met him at the door with a brisk bear hug and one of his own personal stash of fine Cuban cigars as a welcome home gift.
Logan inhaled deeply as he walked down the hall. Good stuff- he was glad his healing factor was back up to snuff so he could enjoy it properly. Who'd'a thought the Cajun would be glad ta see me one day? he grinned, recalling their less than cordial first days as teammates. He walked up the stairs to his room, swung his bags inside the door, and turned around. It'd been a long ride and he was hungry, but he needed to stretch his muscles a bit first.
He walked by the danger room and swore slightly at the 'occupied' sign. I've got plently o' time, he consoled himself. I'll just go to the observation room and watch- maybe pick up some pointers, he grinned, knowing very well that no one in the mansion could beat him in one-on-one combat.
Entering the room, he found a comfortable sat and propped his legs on the instrumentation. He looked down into the room, and blinked in surprise- instead of the Romper Room (though still impossibly difficult for a normal human, he conceded) he'd been half expecting, this was a real workout. Someone had disengaged the safety overrides, and was actually doing some serious fighting. Scott'd have three ducks and a baby octopus, Logan chuckled, knowing that such a procedure was strictly forbidden. He grinned when he saw who it was- her slight figure had been hidden from his sight by the Sentinel, and the sealed Shi'ar room played havok with his senses, but he should've suspected it to be her- he'd known her a long time, and she'd never been one to abide by pansy rules.
She was firing rounds directly in the face of the huge machine reaching for her, snarling curses and, Logan knew, having one hell of a good time. Her face was covered with streaks of blood from a gaping cut right under her hairline and her uniform was ripped in a dozen places, but from the state of disrepair of the two Sentinels around her he knew she was doing just fine. She leaped over the huge hand, twisting, and eluded the grasp of the nearest Sentinel, changing weapons in midair. She swung up on its thumb, leapt again, and took off its head with a well-placed plasma burst.
Logan leaned back in the chair and took another deep drag of the cigar. Not bad at all, Dom, he admitted, and crossed his arms over his head, watching every move Haven't lost yer touch, girl.
She didn't even pause, only shifted weapons again, racing behind the remaining behometh to reach up and place a wad of plastique behind each of its knees. She then sprinted to the corner of the room, darted behind a holographic car where she'd earlier herded the winos, and waited. The ensuing explosion rocked the room. Still leaning, Logan crossed his arms over his head and watched. This is better than the picture show, he grinned ferally Wish I had some popcorn.
She ran back across the room, hurling mockeries at the wrigging two-story torso. She bounded across its chest, dropped a thermal grenade, and spun away to return to the relative safety of behind the car.
After it was all over, she exited the program. As the holographic images faded, she gathered her gear, a pleased smile gracing her face. Logan watched from the observation room, mentally applauding her. Neena, ya still got it where it counts. Cable's a lucky man. She walked across the the room to the exit, ruined uniform baring generous expanses of skin. In more ways than one, Logan grinned, then half-heartedly chastised himself for thinking such about an old friend.
He met her in the debriefing room as she was passing through. Her eyes widened in surprise, but her voice was impassive as always. "Hey, Logan. How ya doin'?"
He grinned in gruff pride. "Good ta see you, too, kid. Ya did good down there- looks like you did pay attention ta me at least *some* of the time."
She allowed herself an amused smile. "You were watching?"
He nodded. "Yep. An' don't worry, I won't tell Scoot or anybody else that ya turned off the safety overrides. I knew ya could handle it."
Her eyes narrowed. "Frankly, Logan, I don't care if you tell Captain Kangaroo, the Impossible Man, or any of the flonquing Summerses - Cyclops, Nate, any of 'em. They're all probably related anyhow. Screw the whole bunch, I don't give a shit."
Logan quirked his lips sympathetically. "I take it Cable's screwed up again."
She looked down at him and sighed. "Yeah- he really has. I'm gettin' too old to be bothered by this shit, Logan."
He shook his head gently "You never get too old to be bothered by that sorta thing, darlin'. Now do me a favor and let me run through that program of yours- it looked kinda interestin'."
She grinned at him "Only if I get to watch, old man."
He leered playfully at her "Oh, ya like ta watch, do ya?"
She laughed lightly and shook her head "Actually, no, but that's immaterial. Now get your hairy rear in there and let's see if you can beat my time."
Cable sat in a huge recliner in one of the rec rooms, idly watching television. He had the sound off, and the silence was wonderful- the pounding in his head had at least faded to a dull ache, and he was finally relaxing. Today had been horrible- another awful day in what was shaping up to be a horrible week. Dom had given him the cold shoulder all day, rightfully so, he admitted, but he just couldn't bring himself to apologize. For now, though, he could almost make himself forget all about it and drift off into a deep, relaxing nap...
"Nathan! There you are! I have been looking for you. Get up- it is too early to rest!" Storm's lilting voice penetrated the benevolent fog of sleep. She walked in the room and sat opposite him in an oaken rocking chair. She held two envelopes in her left hand, and snapped her fingers at him with her right. "Nathan! Wake up!"
He groaned and turned away from her, mentally wishing she'd go away. The imperious demands of a self-proclaimed goddess were not particularly pleasant during a power nap. She continued speaking to him, her voice growing increasingly irate, until he turned around. "Oh...hello, Ororo," he mumbled, trying to surpress his annoyance.
She leaned forward, smiling at him "Hello! Are you not glad I woke you up, Nathan? It is still such a glorious day!"
He rubbed his eyes, headache returned full-force. This is not good, he thought, I haven't had migraines like this since puberty- Seeing her, he replied "Oh. Yeah, sure. Uh, listen, Ororo, I've gotta check something out. I'll see you at supper-" He stood up and stretched, rubbing his temple, and walked toward the door.
She looked at him curiously "Is anything wrong, Nathan? May I help?" She looked up at him, blue eyes widened in concern.
"Just a headache, Ororo, but thanks. I'll be fine- just going to see if Hank can give me something for it." He reached down and grabbed his baseball cap from the endtable where he'd taken it off to nap.
She pursed her lips in disapproval. "It is not good to rely on pharmaceuticals, Nathan," she began. "The body heals itself much better when free from foreign influences like drugs-"
He breathed in deeply and broke off her lecture. "You're probably right. I'll see you later." Before she could reply, he spun on his heels and left the room. Ororo shrugged her shoulders and opened her mail.
Hank was busily putting away some instruments when Cable came through the door. The blue-furred Beast rubbed his hands together in mock glee and said with his best mad-scientist laugh "And what can I do for you today?"
Cable winced at his booming tone "Please, Hank, I have an awful headache-"
The good Doctor raised a sapphire eyebrow "I'll forego the cliched 'take two aspirin' response, knowing that you wouldn't dream of invading my beloved lab unless it were serious- please, Nathan, have a seat."
Motioning to the examination table, Hank continued "It must be the day for it. Your lovely partner was just in here complaining of much the same problem. Of course, that rather large gash on her forehead could explain some of her pain, but she said it had been bothering her all week..." Hank prattled on, oblivious to the expression on Nathan's face.
"What? Domino was in here? What's wrong with her?" Cable grabbed Hank's forearm a bit too roughly. V "Ho there! Release mine appendage and we can talk!" Henry raised made a face at the offending hand, and Nathan released it. "Sorry. Just- Sorry. Tell me, Henry, is she alright? What's wrong with her?" His voice was thick with concern.
"She's fine, Nathan, there's nothing wrong. I assumed you'd already seen her, or else I'd've said nothing." His voice was now soothing, sincere. "Just a cut from a danger room sequence- I stitched it up, it won't even leave a scar. I do it all the time. Though, I must say," and now his tone was all business "I am concerned that she wouldn't allow me to give her physical. I should have a complete medical examination on file for everyone who lives here, but she adamantly refuses. She'll come in to have me stitch things up, but that's about it. Surely, you can talk to her?"
Nathan's tone was soft. "She doesn't like examinations very much," closing his eyes at one particularly gruesome memory, one time where he got her out a little too late. "I won't...I can't say much more than that, but- don't push it, Hank. It says a lot that she trusts you to do as much as you do."
Hank nodded, understanding dawning in his soft blue eyes. "I'm glad," he whispered, then returned his voice to its former jocularity. "So, you have a headache, hmm? Tell me all about it."
To Be Continued...
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