by DuAnn Cowart
Standard disclaimers apply, and as always, feedback is appreciated.
She sat down to the computer, rubbing her aching head. Since their argument last night, it had pounded mercilessly. She'd taken several painkillers already, and though they'd blunted the worst of the pain her skull still throbbed. The work-out session had been torturous, but for a thankful change Nathan had avoided his psionics in observing and analyzing the session. She'd studiously avoided his gaze and had spoken to him only when necessary, but even so she couldn't help but notice that he looked like hell. Good, she smiled, and winced at the pain. She'd tried an Askani bio-feedback technique to curb the pain, and it had almost worked until she remembered who had taught it to her. Nathan. Smug bastard. She fumed silently for a moment, then turned the machine on.
#You have mail.#
"Gee, thanks," she muttered sarcastically. "That sign flashing on the screen wasn't quite enough to clue me in- glad you told me." She opened her mailbox, and grinned when she saw the first message- a raunchy joke forwarded by Pete Wisdom with a quick note at the end.
HEY DOM. CALL ME THIS WEEK- GOT SOME NEWS YOU MIGHT WANT TO KNOW ABOUT. OH, YEAH, KITTY SAYS HEY. PETE
She raised an eyebrow speculatively. News from Pete was usually interesting, and it'd be good to see what the old git was up to. She didn't have that many old friends left, and she'd recently learned to treasure the ones she had. All except my best one, that is. Sighing, she leaned back in the chair. Nathan...why are you such a jerk? And why do I let myself put up with it? She sat up suddenly. "And when did I become such a wuss to spend so much time thinking about this crap?"
They walked into the kitchen hand in hand, determined to get the teasing and gibes over with as soon as possible. The room was relatively full, the team having drifted in sporadically after the session and showers so their entrance was noted immediately.
Tabitha's eyebrows rose almost to her hairline. She nudged Bobby under the table, and he almost choked. Theresa smothered a grin, and leaned up to whisper something in Jimmy's ear. He chuckled, and they released hands a bit reluctantly.
"Hey, everybody, what's up?" His voice was light and casual, but his dark eyes sparkled.
Shatterstar answered "We were discussing Cable's disposition this morning. It seems that some of us" he motioned toward Tabitha and Bobby "consider him a 'hardhat'."
Rictor broke in, smiling. "Hardass, 'Star."
Shatterstar snorted. "Whatever. In any case, I disagree. On my world, I underwent much harsher training when I was only a child."
Tabitha looked at him over her sunglasses. "Yeah, and look how well you turned out. Anyway, that's old news, we're always bitching about Cable. So," She turned and faced Theresa. "How's tricks?"
Terry looked at Jimmy then back at Tabitha. "Couldn't be better." She waggled her eyebrows playfully, then walked across the room to a cabinet and began rummaging through boxes and cans.
Tabitha would not be thwarted so easily. "Hold it right there. Out with it." She pointed at the couple. "You. And you. Talk. Now."
Jimmy flushed slightly, but Terry answered quickly. "What do ye think, Tab? 'Tis none of you're business, really, but Jimmy an' me have patched things up. Now, what were ye sayin' about Cable?" Her expression left no room for debate.
Tabitha flashed her a look that said We'll talk later, but dubiously returned to her previous topic. "I was sayin', before you so rudely interrupted, that..." She began a tirade that was mostly ignored as others ate meals of varying degrees of nutrition.
Does she never shut up? Rictor growled silently, sliding his chair away from the table. He opened the trash can, and blinked in surprise. On top of the normal kitchen refuse were three empty half-gallons of liquor, a chipped shot glass and two broken glasses, all with telltale traces of brown liquid pooled in their respective bottoms. He spun around angrily.
"Lissen here- next time ya'll throw a party and don't invite me, I'm gonna be really pissed.... He held one of the bottles up, an accusing look on his handsome features. X-Force had impromptu get-togethers all the time, and by common agreement everyone was invited (except Caliban, who really didn't understand why his teammates acted so different when they had a party). In their business, relaxation was absolutely essential, and like many other groups of friends, X-Force found considerable release in gatherings much like the one obviously held in the kitchen last night. Of course, not everyone drank- Siryn wouldn't allow herself, and Shatterstar refused, but all enjoyed the down time just the same. Occaisionally, they'd even invite some of the younger and more boisterous X-men- Bobby Drake was an especial favorite. Domino sometimes joined them, but always sat apart from the group, nursing a drink with a decidedly nostalgic look on her face.
Bobby sat his tea down. "Ric...Man, what are you talking about? I haven't heard about any party...unless some of you had one and didn't tell the rest of us..." He glared at the group.
Theresa shook her head. "Don't be stupid any more than ye absolutely have ta be, boys. Lemme see that." She walked over to the trash can, oblivious to the concerned look James cast in her direction.
She picked it up and glanced down at the remains in the trash can. Part of her longingly wanted to pick up where this little celebration obviously left off, but she quickly brushed those thoughts away. Wonder whose these are....Probably none of our business, but if anyone else 'sides us was in here drinkin' and raisin' Cain in our kitchen I'd really like ta know... She brightened. "Cal! Come here for a minute, will ye?"
The huge Morlock stood a bit uncertainly. He'd sat quietly to the side of the team, still reeling from the recent effects of Apocalypse's tamperings. He looked up. "Yes, friend-Terry?"
Her expression softened. "Cal...I don't want ta push ye, but kin ye tell me whose bottles these are?" She picked up the other two and held them out to him.
He nodded surely, proud that he could help. "Yes. There's many, many scents in this room, but..." He walked over to the bottles and delicately sniffed one then sneezed "Stinky stuff! Whew!" He thought for a moment and then grinned broadly in triumph. "Patch-eye and Cable-Nathan had a party!" He looked quizically at Terry. "Why wasn't Caliban invited?"
Theresa managed to hide her smile. "Nobody was, Cal, but I tell ye what. I'll invite ye to the next party, how about that?"
Caliban nodded happily and returned to his seat a little surer of himself than before. The rest of the team wore varying expressions of amusement, disbelief and surprised glee. Tabitha actually crowed in delight.
"Three half-gallons? Droga, I thought Ric could pack it in...gotta give ol' Nate and Dom credit. I guess years of experience teach you how to handle more than just battle tactics..."
Tabitha answered with a lascivious leer "With this much liquor there's no telling what else they handled last night!"
Theresa stopped the private grin on her own face. At least they'll have someone else ta talk about 'cept Jimmy an' me, now, she thought, but managed a "Tab, please...Nothing's wrong, and anyway, it's none of our business. You people really need ta get lives. Now, Cal, for such good work would ye like a Pop-tart?"
"Caliban loves Pop-tarts!"
To Be Continued...
Back to Archive