by DuAnn Cowart
Standard disclaimers apply.
Domino hummed a few bars of an old Russian drinking song as she stepped out of the shower and grabbed the plush white bathrobe the hotel had thoughtfully laid out for its guests. Twisting her dripping wet hair into a towel-turban, she tightened the belt of the downy robe and breathed deeply, feeling clean at last. The latex strips of makeup counter by the sink. Stretching muscles loosened by the hot shower, she scooped them up and dumped them in the small trashcan under the sink.
Closing the door to the steamy bathroom behind her, the first thing she saw was the now wrinkled beige suit crumpled at the foot of the bed. Shivering at the comparative chill of the bedroom, she scooped up the rumpled clothing and tossed it into the closet. Then, with a grimace, she threw the woefully painful pumps in the trash can. Damn if I'll wear you bastards again, she rubbed her hands together triumphantly. The bawdy words of the ditty still running through her mind, she looked through the weathered leather suitcase and looked through it for something else to wear.
After they'd polished up the version of Pete and Domino's story they'd tell the others, Cable had retired to the other bedroom to change clothes before the inevitable briefing session began. She'd done the same. The damn brown suit, while it had served her purposes very well, was not exactly her style. She wanted to strip out of it as soon as possible, and she felt sure that the others were in their respective rooms doing the same. "Though I've always liked Logan in his Patch suit," she grinned, remembering the time in Madripoor when Patch had helped polish the raw fighting skills of a certain very young combat pit fighter who would go on to become the world's luckiest mercenary.
Quickly selecting several articles of all-black clothing, she stared down at the contents of the suitcase a moment longer. Sighing, she pulled two small but very different pistols, one half the size of the other, from the mass of clothing in the bulging suitcase and tossed them onto the bed alongside the clothing she'd chosen. I've felt naked without them, she admitted. Good thing the PACRAT doesn't have to go through customs...
Yawning, she snapped the suitcase shut and slipped it under the foot of the bed. Though she'd have prefered a full night's rest, one of the first things she'd learned as a mercenary was how to survive for long periods on only snippets of sleep. The short catnap in the sitting room had helped replenish her energy reserves, but an exhaustion as deep as the one she felt was not so easily completely shaken. Still, the nap and the wonderful shower had combined to a most beneficient effect- she felt much, much better than she had in some time. I might even be able to be civil to the weather-witch, she smiled wickedly, remembering the other woman's face when she'd left the suite. I might even feel like doing something tonight, if anyone else feels up to it and I still feel like a disguise after we get through with the debriefing. It's been a long time since Pete and I went drinkin'...
In sharp contrast to her earlier melancholy, and despite the lingering edge of tiredness, she was now in an extraordinarily good mood, and her analytical side couldn't help but wonder why. "Probably 'cause now the worst part's over- Nathan knows." She breathed out in relief. "I don't know why telling him was bothering me so badly, but now that that's over, I don't have to hide all this from him anymore. Now, we get to have some fun..." Brushing away any thoughts of why Nathan's opinion would matter so much to her, she continued getting ready. After quickly applying her normal, non-disguising makeup- Not, thank God, that beige peachy shit- she loosened the towel from around her head and began briskly drying her thick wet hair. At least now, even if we do go out tonight and I have use a disguise, I can dress like I want to and not like some corporate cookie-cutter type...
When she was finished, she tossed the towel haphazardly on one of the tables. Regretfully stepping out of the warm robe, she donned the clothing quickly, goosebumps rising on her pale flesh at the chill of the room. Slipping the larger of the two pistols into her waistband and the other into the heel of her stacked boot, she checked her appearance in the mirror critically. Much better. The woman in the mirror wore tight black pants and a matching low cut silk shirt, her hair hanging loosely down her back, and her brilliant violet eyes flashing in good humor. Nothin' dull about it at all, she smiled to herself again as she walked out the door, humming the tune again.
In the other suite, Betsy sighed and glanced at the clock again. It's almost 9:00 in Westchester.... She thought of Warren again, and once more wondered Should I call him? I told him I would, but I really don't feel like fighting right now, today's just been too pleasant...
She stared impatiently at the closed door to the bedroom Ororo had chosen. Pursing her lips in irritation, she very nearly summoned her old friend telepathically but remembering the other woman's scowl, she decided to allow Ororo a few more moments of solitude. Casting her thoughts gently in the direction of Logan's suite, her eyes widened. The emotions coming from him were vividly erotic, and she immediately, instinctively strengthened her shields, unwilling to violate Logan's privacy, especially given their current situation. Tempted as she was, she would not do that to a friend. Tempted indeed, she closed her eyes, feeling acutely her own aching loneliness, Therein lies the problem. Sighing, she looked at the phone. Perhaps I'd better call Warren after all, she thought. We need to resolve this one way or the other.
Alone in the other suite, Logan dreamed. Clad only in his boxers, he lay sprawled out on one of the elegant sofas tossing restlessly in his sleep, persperation beading on his forehead as he growled low in his throat. A familiar woman danced in his mind, a woman he'd known for so long, loved for so long. Wrapping her long limbs wildly around his waist, she murmured to him sensuously as she pulled him into her body and then her mind until they were one creature, moving rhythmically together. She moaned his name again and again as his strong hands up and down her smooth body, calling her name as her back arched in pleasure again and again. In his sleep, Logan cried out, muttering a single, longing word "Jean...."
Domino closed the door to the bedroom behind her and walked lightly across the room towards her partner. Cable, sitting on the same sofa she'd napped on earlier, was now dressed in jeans and the ecru cable-knit wool sweater Theresa had given him for his birthday earlier in the year. Smiling across the room at her, he chuckled silently at her appearance. Now that's the Dom I know and love... Quickly brushing over that particular thought, he closed his eyes and sent a brief mental summons to the other members of their party.
As Domino walked towards him, he grinned. "Hey. I just told the others to meet us over here..."
She nodded "They coming right over?"
He shook his head. "Betsy said give them a minute- she's on the phone with home."
At her nod, he ran his eyes up and down her frame, pretending to notice her appearance for the first time. He clucked aloud in mock dismay. "Damn, Dom. Where's the suit? I thought you'd turned respectable on me for a while there..."
She wryly lifted one sardonic eyebrow as she sat down on the couch beside him. "I'm not the only one who's played respectable before, Counselor Summers..."
He turned to face her, eyes crinkling at her retort. Reminded of that time when, working with the Six-Pack, they'd pursued for a time a life in academia, he grinned. "Touche', Doctor..." He paused for a minute, trying to remember something. "Oh, hell, Dom, just what name did you get the friggin' doctorate in, anyway? I can never keep track of what you called yourself when."
She chuckled, lips twitching at the irony of it. "Winters. Doctor Tamara Winters- I think you've heard the name before, if not the title. And before you make any smart-ass remarks about characteristics of the seasons again, Mr. Summers, just remember that I got the damn thing years before we learned that you were a branch of that funky twisted family tree. Back then you were just Nathan Dayspring."
His face fell slightly. "Back then with the Wild Pack I was a lot of things I shouldn't have been, Dom... Damn, when I look back on what my precious mission cost you and Kane-" His voice deepened with guilt "Cost Hammer..."
Shaking her head sharply, Domino raised a hand and placed it gently on his arm. "No deal, Nate. I'm not going to let you- let either one of us- get caught up in that frame of mind right now. We've got too much to do tonight."
Her gentle smile softened the harshness of her words, and he caught her hand and squeezed it gently in appreciation.
Before he could answer, though, a knock sounded at the door. Casting his mind in that direction, Nathan turned to her and answered her unspoken question. "It's Pete and Kitty."
"Good! Time to get this party started!" She smiled, and releasing his hand, she stood up and walked over to the door. "Who is it?" She asked sweetly, and was answered by a coarse "Who th' bloody 'ell do you think it is, Dom? Let us in!"
When she opened the door, Pete walked right in, holding the Do Not Disturb sign in his left hand, one eyebrow raised in a silent, mischievous question. Domino snatched it from his hand and threw it into the hall with a put-upon sigh. Smiling broadly at the former spy anyway, she hugged him gruffly now that they were in private and her disguise wouldn't be compromised by a display of affection. "Never change, do you, Wisdom?"
Deep blue eyes twinkling with merriment, Pete pointed to the discarded sign and whispered low enough that only she could hear. "Now why in the world was that there, y' bloody tart? Should we come back later?" A muttered obescenity was his only reply.
Kitty walked in right behind Pete, an eager expression on her face as she looked around the room. "Hey, Cable, Domino..." Trying to keep the disappointment from her voice, she wondered aloud "Where's everyone else?"
Standing to greet them, Cable answered her question with a smile. "They'll be here shortly, Kitty... Betsy had to make a phone call." Placing a tentative arm around Kitty, Cable was surprised at the strength of her return hug. Then again, I forget...Logan trained her, too.
Marshalling his courage, he hesitantly asked her "Kitty, if you don't mind, before this is all over I'd like us to sit down and talk a little bit about my sister."
Kitty's return smile was genuine, and her chestnut eyes glistened with emotion. "I'd really like that, Cab- Nathan."
At Nathan's hug and quiet words, and to Domino's vast amusement, Pete quickly walked over to where Kitty stood. Unlike Domino's effusive (for her) greeting, Nathan merely extended his hand. "Good to see you again, Wisdom."
Pete met his handshake with a firm grip. "You, too, Nate. It's been too long." In contrast to Domino, who for some reason reminded him of Romany, Pete always felt a bit defensive with Nathan. Probably because of that damn authoritarian image he cultivates, Pete considered, though he was careful to keep his thoughts shielded.
After Kitty and Domino chatted a few moments, Pete stepped closer to his American lover. Putting an arm around Kitty, he stood quietly for a moment, an unspoken question in his eyes.
Noticing his expression, Domino nodded, her voice hardening slightly. "Nathan knows, Pete, and I'm assuming you've told Kitty what you know. That's fine. I told Nate everything, but when the others get here, we'll tell them only what they need to know so far- You can fill in whatever gaps are necessary."
Pete shrugged his shoulder, catching the emphasis. "Sounds good t'me, Dom. Now tell me- y' got anything t' drink around here?"
When the four had seated themselves comfortably on the sofas and spent several minutes in pleasant conversation, catching up on Muir and Westchester gossip, a second knock sounded at the door. Kitty sprang up from her seat beside Pete, eagerness and anxiety warring on her features. "I'll get it..."
To Be Continued...
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give 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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