by DuAnn Cowart
Standard disclaimers apply.
Hey, if you're in a movie mood, go see Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a lush, beautiful film about Savannah, Georgia, my wonderful hometown! (well, I'm actually from a nearby small rural town, but close enough!) It even co-stars the canine mascot of my alma mater, the Universtity of Georgia, and the coolest drag queen you ever did see, The Lady Chablis...In any case, I highly recommend it.
Kitty leaned against the wall, patiently waiting for Pete to finish the last few drags of his cigarette before stepping into the waiting elevator. Shifting her small black travel satchel on one shoulder, she unfolded the small piece of hotel stationery and re-read Ororo's note.
Regretfully stubbing the cigarette into the small receptacle hidden tastefully behing a large potted plant, Pete craned his neck over Kitty's shoulder. "So wot's it say, Pryde? They ready for us now, or do we have time for a little nap?" Ignoring the baleful stare of the elevator operator at Pete's obvious meaning, he waggled his eyebrows playfully at Kitty, who, long accustomed to his teasing, simply gave a long-suffering sigh and rolled her eyes at him. Placing a wiry arm around her shoulders, he grinned again at her as they stepped into the elevator together.
Leaning against the back corner of the slowly moving elevator, Pete turned to Kitty and asked in a good natured tone "So, Pryde, answer me- what does yer little love note there say?"
"Just says what rooms they're in, and for us to call Ororo just as soon as we check in." Kitty couldn't help but smile at the wording of the note. Despite the blocky penmanship of the desk clerk, the words themselves were sheer Ororo.
When the elevator had deposited them on their floor, Kitty stepped closer to Pete and clasped his thin hand in her own. "We'll have plenty of 'nap' time later, you sleazy git," she whispered in response to his earlier question, squeezing his hand tightly as they walked down the hall to search for their room. "Right now, I just want to drop off these bags and then find Logan and Ororo. It's been so long since we've seen each other, and I think it's time they finally met you..."
"Glad they put us on the same floor as the others, at least," Pete noted conversationally as he checked the room number on the note. "Makes things a little easier gettin' back and forth from our room to theirs, 'specially if things run late tonight."
Finding the proper room number, Pete inserted the key into the lock and opened the door for her. "I guess we can go straight over there, but it's yer loss, Pryde," he teased, and dropped his bag in one of the chairs before performing a cursory examination of the room. Finding nothing, he strode across the room to stretch his lanky frame across the huge bed. Propping himself up on one elbow, he watched Kitty as she studied her reflection in the large gilt-framed mirror. Nodding to herself, she removed a brush and small makeup bag from her satchel and began briskly touching up her hair and makeup.
"Y' don't need any of that stuff, Pryde," Pete muttered from where he lay sprawled on the bed. "Y' look fine without it."
Kitty blotted her lipstick, applied a light dusting of powder and turned to face him. "Thanks, Pete, I appreciate that," her smile was genuine as she removed some clothing from her satchel. Stripping out of her casual day clothes, she changed quickly into a deep blue velvet turtleneck and matching leggings, sticking her tongue out at his appreciative leer. "But I haven't seen Logan and Ororo in a while, and I want to look my best."
"Like y' could look anything but," Pete snorted, smiling proudly at her. "Yer always bleedin' gorgeous, Pryde, you know that." Shifting so that his legs dangled over the side of the bed, he yawned and ran his fingers through his own unruly hair. "I think I could probably use some work, though..." Standing up, he walked over to her side and picked up the round brush from where it lay discarded on the dresser and ran it through his thick coal-black hair.
Kitty raised her eyebrows in surprise but said nothing. He must be more nervous about this meeting than I thought, she realized. I don't think I've even heard him mention how he looks at all... She smiled warmly at Pete and straightened his omnipresent black tie. "You ready, babe?"
"I don't have much choice, do I? Let's go meet th' in-laws."
"Anyway, Jean, that's where we are. The com-line's fine- Wisdom was just being overly cautious, a trait I think the rest of us could benefit from occasionaly. Tell Scott not to freak out about it- nothing's really wrong. No need to worry."
Across the Atlantic, Jean smiled wryly "Yeah, right. Telling Scott not to worry is like telling the sun not to shine, Nathan..."
Cable laughed humorlessly at the expression on her holographic face. Speaking into the small Shi'ar holophone, he sighed. "Guess you're right about that. Anyway, everything's fine here." Without going into the details, he'd explained to Jean that Pete had needed a little help investigating some sensitive intelligence information and had wanted someone with experience in the field to help him out. It hadn't taken a telepath to know that Jean was properly dubious of this glib explanation, but his promise of a more thorough explanation when they returned home seemed to satisfy her.
"Can you tell Terry that we'll be gone for a few more days, at least- I don't know how long- and for her to go ahead and get the team into the exercises Dom has programmed for next week?"
When Jean had assured him she would, and made him promise to telepathically yell if there was a problem, Cable pressed a button, ending the transmission. Shucking off his tight dress shirt, he placed the tiny Shi'ar device back into its pouch in his briefcase. Relishing the lack of constricting fabric across his skin, Cable stretched again, bare skin rippling against the chill of the room. Damn, that feels good, he sighed.
It'd taken a while, but he was finally back in control of his emotions. Almost as soon as he'd excused himself from Domino about an hour before, he'd lapsed into meditation, using practiced Askani techniques to transform his rage at his 'son's' monstrous deeds to a managable anger. This, he could handle professionally without the dangerous swell of emotions that had threatened him earlier. This, at least, he could put to the side until the time came to deal with it properly. Keep telling yourself that, Nate...
Knowing that thoughts of Tolliver were not particularly conducive to the calm mental state he'd need to help brief the team, Cable sighed and walked over to the door, looking longingly over his shoulder at the invitingly large bed. A few hours sleep would be wonderful right now, he thought wistfully. Oh, well...maybe we can call Kitty and Pete, get the rest of the team over here, tell them the abridged version Dom and I decided on and get them out of here so we can get some rest. It's gonna be a long day tommorrow... Pushing that thought aside for the moment, Cable opened the door and stepped into the darkened sitting room.
In the other suite, Betsy rested comfortably in the main room. Now that the initial pleasure of removing the abominable contact lenses had faded, she was becoming increasingly bored. Though she couldn't sense any of the particulars, residual telepathic pain still emanated from the direction of Domino and Nathan's suite. Probably because Nathan's such a high-level psi, she concluded, massaging her temple. From what little I've gathered, whatever they were discussing was fairly intense, too...no wonder the air feels like this.
And Ororo- after quickly claiming one of the bedrooms, Storm had retreated to it and hadn't come out yet. Not that I really expected her to, Betsy thought dryly, remembering the literally thunderous expression on the Ororo's face when she stormed down the hall after trying unsuccessfuly to gain entrance to Domino and Cable's suite. There was enough negative psychic energy coming from that room to give even a gamma-level telepath a headache, and she didn't have to wonder about its source at all.
Bloody marvelous joke, Domino, really, but I don't know that it was worth it... Betsy's perfectly drawn lips curved in a wicked smile as she remembered their shock at Domino's... unconventional manner of dealing with unwanted guests, and she corrected herself. Well, perhaps it was at that, but now we've all got to live with a pissed-off Ororo...and she was not in the most pleasant mood to begin with... She winced as she caught a particularly dark wave of emotion from the closed bedroom. This may not be the best place to relax right now, at least not for a telepath. I wonder what Logan's doing right now...
Since it seemed that Domino and Cable were quite firmly settled in the first suite Logan, recognizing the potential awkwardness of the remaining rooming situation, had taken his bags and gracefully extricated himself from the situation by excusing himself to the remaining suite. At the time, she'd been grateful he had done so, but now, after sitting alone and bored for over an hour, she was beginning to change her mind.
Vision automatically compensating for the much dimmer light, Cable walked into the sitting room quietly. "Dom?" he whispered softly, but got no response. The curtains were drawn and the lights turned down, and walking past one of the elegant couches, he saw the reason why. Domino, still dressed in a now very rumpled business suit sans blazer, was curled on one of the couches, deep asleep. A pale tan afghan, similar to the one he'd noticed in his bedroom, was clutched tightly around her for warmth.
Telepathically masking himself so as to not wake her, Cable crouched on his heels and simply stared at her for several long minutes, utterly amazed at how young she appeared. The hard worry lines he'd grown accustomed to seeing on her face were softened in sleep, and her pale skin was smooth and unlined. Her sculpted features seemed luminous in the dim light of the room and, except for the very few strands of silver in her tussled raven hair, she looked just like the young woman- the girl, really- she'd been when first they'd met.
Beautiful, he thought to himself. So many years gone by- Nathan, you are a damn fool. Leaning forward, he brushed her cheek with his lips, lingering over her still form for a few moments longer. When this is all over, Dom...when this is all over, I promise you...
Beneath him, her mauve lips parted, and a loud, off-key snore filled the air. Fighting a strong urge to laugh, Nathan stood up and slowly removed his telepathic shield. He coughed very lightly, under his breath, and Domino almost immediately jumped up from her slumber, flinging the afghan to the side and falling into an instinctive defensive posture. Seeing that it was only Nathan, she smiled sheepishly and retrieved the afghan, pulling it close to her, trying to recapture the warmth of the lost nap. "Sorry, Nate," she yawned. "Old habits, y'know?"
Folding his arms over his bare chest, Cable grinned. "Wake up, sleepyhead," he teased, flicking on the lights. Noticing the luggage for the first time, his brow creased in puzzlement. He sat down beside her on the soft couch, and gently picked up her feet and repositioned them on his lap. After sitting there a moment in comfortable silence,he motioned to the luggage and wondered aloud "How'd those get here?"
"Oh, the others brought them by before they went on to the other room," she chuckled, a enigmatic smile on her face.
Nodding in understanding at her words, if not her bemused expression, he leaned back into the soft cushions of the couch, the lingering heat from where she'd slept warming his bare skin. "Damn, I wish we could just go back to sleep and deal with all this in the morning."
Shifting in her seat so she faced him, Domino nodded. "You and me both, but there's nothing we can do but just get it over with. You about ready to call everyone else in here?"
Eyes fastened gratefully on the luggage, Cable nodded, pleased beyond reason that it was already here and that was one thing less they'd have to arrange. "You wanna change, first? Now that those bags are here, I'm dyin' to put on some comfortable clothes."
Rising to walk over to the bags, Domino ran her eyes over Nathan's bare chest and her own disheveled appearance. Her lips twitched again in wry amusement as she agreed with him. "Yeah, you're probably right. Don't want anyone to find us like this- somebody might get the wrong idea."
To Be Continued...
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto
you. Not as the world gives, give I unto you. Do not let your
hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
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