by DuAnn Cowart
Standard dislaimers apply....
It was almost an hour before she found him swimming laps around the lake, much as she'd done several nights before. She pulled the brim of her hat down as protection against the evening sun and walked down the length of the dock, rubbing her bare shoulders against the chill of the early spring wind.
"Nate! Come here, I need to talk to you!" She yelled from the edge of the dock. He was on the other side of the lake, well out of the range of normal human hearing, but she called out anyway. "Nate!!!!! Swim faster, dammit, I've got to talk to you!"
He chuckled as he made his way across the lake with swift, methodical strokes. Never been known for your patience, girl, he thought, listening to her yelling. I wonder what's important enough for her to break her vow of silence towards me.... During the morning session they'd both observed the team, but she hadn't said anything to him. She'd answered his questions with grunts and monosyllables and when the team finished, she had only ran down a perfunctory analysis of their performance before she had excused herself and left the room. That'd been several hours ago and he hadn't seen her since. Though I haven't really looked, he admitted, picking up his pace I was gonna give her a little more time to herself before I tried talking about everything again, but if she's ready, so am I.
He swam up to the dock where she sat cross-legged, looking at him. "Hey, Dom. What's up?" He pulled himself out of the water and sat beside her, telekinetically floating an enormous faded purple towel from a nearby bench. Rivulets of water ran down his muscled chest and she forced herself to look away, suppressing the totally inappropriate and wholly lewd thoughts that sprang unbidden to her mind. You're pissed at him, Dom, stop it. He doesn't deserve your drool. Thankfully, he seemed not to notice her reaction.
She scooted away, grimacing in disgust at the rapidly encroaching puddle of water pooling under him. She managed a clear, dispassionate tone. "I spoke to Pete today."
He dried his hair with the now damp towel. "Which Pete? I know lots of 'em." Running his fingers through his hair, he sat the towel down under him to soak up the excess water.
She inhaled sharply. "Pete Wisdom, you idiot. He e-mailed me earlier this week, so I returned his call. I would have done it sooner," she looked pointedly at him "But I've been busy."
He raised a silver eyebrow "Yeah, me, too. Life's a bitch. What'd the Brit want?" Cable asked in a conversational tone. Studying her face, he leaned back, resting his palms against the hard flat planks of wood.
Domino stretched her legs out and crossed them at the ankles. She calmly recounted their earlier conversation, including the coded message and Pete's oblique instructions to meet him in London. His eyes narrowed when she told of Pete's reluctance to trust the security channel between the mansion and Muir.
He sat up sharply "Does he think the channel is compromised? By whom? On their end or ours?" He continued the barrage of questions, thinking out loud, trying to reason out the logic behind their old friend's words.
She finally stopped him. "Nate, it could be any of the reasons you just said or none of them. Pete was in the business a long time- and you and I both know what that does to people. Besides, let's just face it- Pete Wisdom was born cynical. It might be something as simple as the fact that he just doesn't trust the overseas comlines."
He nodded reluctantly. "Maybe you're right, but one thing's for sure. We'll find out tommorrow." He stood up and held down a hand to help her up.
She looked up at him incredulously. "What do you mean, we'll find out? He didn't ask for you, Nate- I was just telling you to get your ideas about it, to let you know where I'd be going." She rose gracefully, shaking away his proffered help.
He narrowed his eyes and drew back his hand. "Dom, you know I have all the faith in the world in you but after what you've just been through there's no way in hell I'm letting you go off like that by yourself." At her furious expression he closed his eyes Bad choice of words, buddy.
She crossed her arms against her chest and glared up at him. "What do you mean let me go like that? I'll go anywhere I want to, Nathan, and I've been 'by myself' all my life." Her voice was quiet but their long association had taught him to recognize the note of sadness hidden in them.
He opted against arguing in favor of an apology. "You're right- I'm sorry, Dom. I didn't mean it like that- I meant that I'd like to go with you. Whatever this is, it must be serious for Pete to call. I'd like to help." He pleaded silently Dom, calm that temper, please...neither one of us can handle another day like yesterday. Strangely enough, his words seemed to mollify her.
He could tell the depth of her exhaustion by the speed in which she acquiesed. She nodded tiredly "It's alright, Nate. I think Pete probably meant the message for both of us, anyway." A deep sigh "When do you wanna leave?"
He very nearly told her immediately, but a closer look at the shadows under her eyes stayed his hand. Whatever it was that had Pete so upset could wait another night- Dom needed some rest, even if she wouldn't admit it to herself. He stretched "How about tommorrow at noon? I'll leave Terry in charge of the morning session and clear everything with Scott tonight." He looked at her closely "Hey, you had dinner yet?"
She shook her head "I had a sandwich for lunch- I'm not really hungry." She stood silhouetted against the light from the dying sunset, and he stared at her for a long moment, debating the obvious.
"Come go into town with me, let's get some dinner. I don't feel like cooking tonight, and since we don't know how long we'll be in London, let's go to Harry's." He held his hand out to her, eyes squinting against the light.
To his surprise, she took it. "Yeah, I think that'd be good. I wouldn't mind a steak." He grinned crookedly and they walked down the dock towards the mansion.
He sat in the foyer waiting. She'd said meet him in thirty minutes, dammit, and it'd been an hour already. He'd already showered, shaved, and changed into casual dress clothes, and discussed with his father the trip and the reasons for it. Though Cyclops hadn't liked it (he hadn't met Pete Wisdom personally, only read Moira and Kurt's reports), there really wasn't much he could say. Cable and Domino were the team leaders of X-Force, and as such had the authority to make any such trip they deemed necessary. Scott had made him promise daily reports, especially about the security of the com lines, which he promised to have thoroughly checked immediately. Nathan sighed and checked the heavy grandfather clock again. If he hadn't been so surprised that she'd agreed to go anywhere at all with him after the week they'd had, he'd've gone up there and banged on her door until she was ready. As it was, he waited.
The hall door opened slowly and startled him out of his reverie. Logan and Psylocke entered, chatting animatedly about an esoteric form of Japanese meditation. At Cable's obvious impatience, Logan nudged Betsy and walked over to the bench where Nathan sat. With Nathan sitting and Logan standing right in front of him, the two were almost eye-level. The smaller man grinned and took a deep puff of his cigar.
"Looks like ya been stood up, bub. Which one was it this time?" Wolverine rumbled, amusement glinting in his eyes.
Betsy glided over to the bench and sat beside him. "Yes, Nathan," she smiled serenely "Which shall it be tonight?"
Nathan glared at both of them. "Is there any such thing as a secret in this place?" he groaned, but refused to answer them. He had all ideas that they knew anyway. He turned his head away from them and crossed his arms against his chest, staring at the wall. Logan's next words surprised him.
"I heard you talkin' to Scoot a minute ago. I'm goin' with you and Dom ta London." He squared his stance and met Cable's stunned gaze directly.
Nathan crossed his legs "Oh, really? Just why do we need you to come with us?" Though he and Logan had officially resolved their differences, Cable still felt the tiniest bit threatened at Logan's insistance that he tag along on this trip. He'd just get in the way.
Elisabeth stood by Logan, echoing his posture. "I will be accompanying you as well."
Cable snorted in disbelief "Well, why don't we just ask the whole friggin' team if they want to go? I'm sure I can get us a group rate at a real nice hotel."
Betsy's face darkened for a moment. "I'm quite serious. This sounds lunatic, but I've always suspected my telepathy extended into precognition. I can't see particulars, but I know that if I don't go to England now that something horrible will happen. I don't expect you to understand, but you must accept that one way or another, Logan and I are going with you to London."
Logan chewed the tip of his cigar. "Well, I ain't seen no visions a' doom or anything like that, but my instincts are just screamin' on this one. Neena's a friend, bub, and I intend that she ain't gonna go through no more of the crap I know she's rememberin' right now. I'm going. Period. 'Sides," his expression softened "I wouldn't mind seein' Kitty while I'm over there."
Betsy smiled "Ah, the truth will out. Come, Logan, let's let Nathan enjoy his evening. He'll see more than enough of us soon enough."
Before he had the chance to object again, they were gone. He had no doubt that somehow, someway they would find out precisely when the PACRAT was departing. He sighed. And Dom was pissed about me tagging along.
To Be Continued...
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. -John 14:27
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