by DuAnn Cowart
Standard Disclaimers Apply.
She opened her eyes blearily, squinting against the cruel beam of sunlight adamantly attacking her slumber. "Go away," she muttered, rolling over and burrowing deeper into the covers. She lay on her side, curled tightly in a ball, but even through her sleep-dulled senses she heard a soft snore. John, she thought, allowing herself a private smile before she sat up, pulling the sheets over her. Ohhhhhhhhh......whatta headache....., a legacy of the scotch, she knew. She glanced down at the other result of the previous evening, and closed her eyes. She sighed, then opened one eyelid to search for the alarm clock. 8:17. I gotta get up, she thought, we've got a session scheduled this morning.
John rolled over, snuffling into the pillow "G'mornin'. Whadda ya want to do today?" His eyes were barely opened, but she could see the hint of brown between the thick black lashes.
She shook her head sadly. "I have to go to work."
He sat up and stretched langorously. "Nina, please. I haven't seen you in ten years. You go to work everyday. C'mon, take the day off. Do something with me."
She couldn't help smiling, then groaned as a particularly harsh wave of pain spread through her temple. "Like what? Get smashed again? No thanks, the dog that bit me can keep every hair on his nasty little hide."
His voice was earnest. "I'm serious. One day away from work won't kill you. By the way," his voice sounded a bit sheepish, "Tell me again what it is you do now? I'm afraid I forgot..." Actually, she hadn't told him, preferring to steer the conversation towards more innocuous topics.
She chose her words carefully. "I'm a consultant for a private educational institute, where I do some teaching." This was true. She did some part-time teaching for the kids in Generation X, all the qualified adult X-Men did. After all, she did have a phD in Political Science, obtained partially while undercover for the every operation where she'd met John. She'd finished her degree while Nathan was in law school at Harvard and Hammer at MIT, the three of them somehow managing to coordinate their schedules with the rest of the Wild Pack to work to pay for it all. Other than the occaisional lecture, she'd never used her degree for other than research into prospective ops, but it was nice to have. As much as she loved weapons and combat, she knew that there was more to her profession than mere brute force.
He nodded. She remembered that he'd told her last night that he had retired from teaching, earning quite a nice living from his investments. Nothing compared to her portfolio, she was sure, but enough to live comfortably. She had made several incredibly 'fortunate' investments with the monies she'd earned from her mercenary years (not to mention from the occaisional night spent playing the long odds at casinos). Once, she'd even played the lottery as an experiment and won the second largest jackpot in the history of the unfortunate state she happened to be visiting. The ability to have things 'fall into place' turned out to be a lot more economically viable than most mutant powers and had allowed her the financial freedom to stay with Nathan and X-Force.
She yawned. "I don't know. . .I hate missing, but," She recalled the look on Cable's face when he'd refused her invitation yesterday. "Alright. I'm already late, anyway. You have to promise me something, though..."
"Hmmmm?" He leaned towards her, grinning widely.
"You've got to make it worth my while."
He smiled and ran his hand through her hair, delicately fingering a raven lock. He kissed her gently, and she wondered again at the novelty of being treated as a woman and not a soldier. Though she decided she'd grow bored eventually, she couldn't deny its more obvious charms.
She rose from the bed, raising an eyebrow at his appreciative stare, and bent down to pick up her clothes. Apparantly they'd had as rough an evening than she- she counted two tears on the neckline of the tight blouse and a huge brown stain on the leg of the form-fitting pants. He laughed at her expression as she slipped them on and raised his arms behind his head, eyes never straying from her as he watched her cross the room to the phone.
She dialed the number quickly, meeting his stare. The phone rang four times before she heard a sleepy "Hello?"
Theresa answered automatically "I know we have a session this mornin', ye don' have to call and wake me up, I'm gettin' up, I am..."
"Terry. . .listen. . .I need you to do me a favor. I'm not coming in today, so go ahead and start without me."
The voice, suddenly alert, came through the line in a thick Irish brogue heavy with concern. "Dom. . .are ye alright?"
She understood the layers of the question. "I'm fine, no problems, I just," she smiled at John, who was struggling into a pair of boxers "ran into an old friend last night."
At the mansion, Theresa exhaled. Domino was never late, and never took any time for herself. Her trip to Brazil last month was the first time she'd taken a vacation in the four years she'd known her. The older woman had come back from that 'holiday' looking tired and wan, and Terry had been worried about her. Domino, of course, had sworn that she was fine. Cable had been too busy with other things (or people, Theresa thought, thinking of Cable's new 'friendship' with Storm) to notice, and Domino was reluctant to talk to anyone about personal matters. Theresa had tried, but Domino had insisted that it was only her imagination. Terry knew better. Try as she might to keep impenetrable barriers, the 'mysterious' Domino occaisionally let things slip that told anyone listening enough to know that she was more than the cold hearted mercenary she claimed to be. Terry thought sometimes that she was her only female friend, but that even that bond was tempered by Domino's insistence on privacy. She asked again "Are ye sure that ye're alright? Ye sound horrible. . ."
Domino laughed. "Just a hangover, Terry, I'm fine."
Terry winced, remembering all too vividly similar mornings of her own. "Alright, then. What do ye want me to tell Cable?"
She thought for a moment, then answered quietly "Tell him I have 'plans'. I'll see you later, Terry, and don't forget- the session is at nine sharp." She hung up the phone.
Theresa looked at the silent phone and sighed. She sat up in her bed, looking out the window into the trees. Why didn't she tell Cable herself? she wondered, curiosity piqued. Though as Siryn she was deputy leader of X-Force, Cable and Domino had always preferred to discuss executive matters amongst themselves whenever possible. She groaned and lay back into the warm covers. Privately, she was glad Domino was taking some down time, but she couldn't help muttering
"And just how am I gonna explain all this to Cable?"
Domino walked back over to the bed. John lay on the floor, clad only in his boxers and one sock.
"There's some aspirin and a glass of water on the nightstand," he pointed "I got it for you while you were on the phone."
Gratefully accepting it, she looked down at him. "That other sock got you beat, hmmm?" She swallowed the aspirin, washing it down with a mouthful of cool mineral water.
He rolled over and grabbed playfully at her leg. She easily eluded him, and had to laugh when he sprang at her. Though he was in excellent physical condition, there were few people on the planet she couldn't best in hand to hand combat. She grinned, and decided to play along for a while. After all, she noted, as she let him pull her close to him, today was her day off and she'd never been one to let a little headache spoil a good time.
To Be Continued
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