Mourning After: Part 4
by Red Monster
Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel. Read Who's the Boss? by Samy before you read this. Pop-Up is okay, MST is not. If you like this and do not feedback, I will send Dani to your house. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"James! There you are. Dom's been wanting to see you," said Tabitha when she ran into James in the hallway on the way up from the training room.
"DaCosta and I went downstairs to beat each other up. He was still down there when I left. What's Dom want?"
"She, Sam, Jesse and me were in the game room playing Foozball and talking about what's going on, and Dom said she wanted to round up you, Dani, Terry and Bobby, but first she wants to talk to Terry alone. We're not going in the kitchen, because that's your mess to clean up."
"True, it is. Are they still in there?" James asked.
"Yeah, come on." Tabitha said. She led him back to the game room, next to the wrecked kitchen. There, Domino, Sam and Jesse stood (in Jesse's case, on crutches) around one of the game tables. Domino looked up gravely when Tabitha and James came in.
"James, are you okay?" she asked.
"DaCosta and I were just settling our score in the training room, but he didn't do anything to me worse than what I did to myself. I'll live," said James. "I did, however, get him to use up all his solar energy!" he smirked.
"Sneaky. Good job," Jesse put in.
"Is Bobby okay, Jimmy?" asked Sam.
"Unfortunately. Last I checked, he was just a little indignant. He's probably on his way up the roof right now to soak up some rays and recharge."
"Okay then," Sam responded. "Have you seen Terry? We all looked all over the place and can't find her."
"Has time been passing at different rates on each floor of this house?" James asked incredulously.
"No, James. After Dani calmed down and went back to her room, and we came up here to find the kitchen empty and trashed, Sam, Tabitha, Jesse and I went around looking for you and Bobby and Theresa. Sam said he heard you and Bobby growling at each other downstairs, but we couldn't find Theresa anywhere. Do you think she might have left?"
"No, I have a feeling she's still in here somewhere. Did you check her room?" James asked.
Domino gave him a very annoyed look. "Of course I checked her room, James. These three also went in there, and it was empty."
"How about we have a look one more time?" James suggested.
"Well, I suppose it can't do any harm," Domino said, and then turned to Sam, Jesse, and Tabitha. "You three carry on, have fun without me."
Domino and James returned to Theresa's bedroom to find the same still, quiet room as before. James continued inside. "Dom, do you notice anything in here? Do you feel like there's someone else nearby?" he asked, looking intensely around the room.
"Yeah, I do, but only now that you mention it," Domino said, unimpressed.
James opened up Theresa's closet door, stepped inside the closet, and leaned down. "Hey, what are you doing in here?" came his gentle, surprised voice from behind the closet's sliding door. He stood back up and walked out with Theresa beside him, led out by his hand on her upper back.
"You've been in there the whole time?" Dom said upon seeing the tired-looking, red-eyed Theresa stumble out beside James.
"Yes. Is it over yet?" Theresa asked.
"I'm sorry, but no. It won't be over without some more trouble on your part." Dom noticed the reddish, slightly raised handprint on Theresa's left cheek. "What's this?"
"What? Oh, that's from Dani. I came in here after leaving Jimmy alone with Bobby in the kitchen, and she was here waiting for me. We had a few words, and she apparently had to smack me."
"Dani came in here after she left the game room," Domino mused aloud. "She told me she was going to her room. I'm sorry, Theresa. This shouldn't have happened."
"Well, she didn't hurt me that badly. Not that I was going to let her," Theresa said. "Still, I don't see why she's so enraged at me, of all people. It's not like I'm the only person involved in all of this."
"That's true, and I want this to end just as much as you do. So I want to talk to you alone for a few minutes to figure out a way through this," Domino said with her arm around Theresa's shoulder.
"Okay, I guess you're right," the younger woman sighed, and then spotted James' distressing-looking wound. "Jimmy, your arm is looking really bad."
"What this? Yeah, I suppose it is. I guess that's what I get for breaking my own arm to make a point."
"Look, James, come down to the infirmary and let me put that arm in a splint, put some ice on it. Theresa's right, it looks like it's about to have a little monster jump out of it," Domino advised.
"Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Let's go," James said and turned out of the room with Domino.
"Good. Theresa, I'll be with you in a little while," she said while headed through the door. "And, James, don't ever do this to yourself again!" came her increasingly distant voice from the other side of the door. "You can let your limbs turn black and fall off from gangrene if you want to break them on purpose!"
Later that afternoon, Domino and Theresa convened in the mess that was X-Force's kitchen. Theresa sat on an empty space on the counter, while Domino stood next to her. A haze of displaced chairs and an overturned table surrounded them.
"First of all, you mind telling me what happened in here?" Domino asked, surveying the destruction.
"I wasn't there for the whole thing," Theresa began. "After you left to calm down Dani, James started on Roberto for getting me drunk and taking advantage of me, so they started arguing and pushing each other around. I had a few words with them, and then I left them alone in here. I guess they took their fight downstairs before it got too bad. Nothing's burned out of the wall or smashed to smithereens in here, just tossed around and broken in half."
"Okay, then, it'll be James and Roberto's job to clean this up," Domino said.
"Is this what you wanted to talk to me about, Domino? The kitchen being trashed?" Theresa asked.
"No. I want to talk to you about the fact that you kids are turning into each other's enemies. You have any ideas of how to deal with this situation?"
"I have the idea that we're all sick of being called 'kids' by you and Cable and everyone else who thinks we need a parent figure," Theresa replied.
Domino gritted her teeth and started to count to 10. "Okay," she finally said. "You young adults whom I respect but am a little confused by right now are turning into each other's enemies. Do you have a solution in mind?"
"Yes. Everyone needs to be heard out. I think we should give everyone a chance to tell their side of the story to everyone else, and let each other know exactly what's bothering them. Then we may be able to come to some sort of agreement."
"Yeah, that's sort of what I thought you'd say," Domino said.
"What else did you have in mind? Would you rather throw a couple of us off the team to end the conflict, or flip a coin to see who goes through the paddywhack machine? What?" Theresa snapped.
"No, I think your first idea is very good, in fact it's what I had in mind. Just thought I'd go over it with you, to see if you had anything to add. After all, you're supposedly the deputy leader, that ought to mean something," Domino said.
"I definitely want you to be present, Domino. You're a neutral party."
"Absolutely. Why don't we bring everyone down to the infirmary? That way, if a fight breaks out, the first aid supplies are right there," she smirked.
Theresa gave a brief half-smile and rolled her eyes. "Fine, the infirmary it is."
"Good," Domino pronounced. "James is already down there, holding some ice on his broken arm. I'll find Dani and bring her down, you go find Roberto. But, please don't get into a compromising position with him again?"
"Very funny, Dom, really."
After Domino found Dani sulking in the bathroom and contemplating vandalism, and Theresa found Roberto on the roof, replenishing his supply of solar energy, all were gathered in the infirmary, sitting at least three feet away from each other in a jagged rectangle shape. Domino silently walked through the rectangle, first lengthwise, then crosswise. When she saw all four were looking at her, she stopped in the middle between James and Roberto.
"I know you four aren't very happy with each other right now. Your teammates aren't really amused, either. Sam, Tab and Jesse have asked to be left out of this argument unless their input is absolutely necessary, which I hope it isn't. You all might not be thinking too much about it right now, but I am loathe to let this team be torn apart by the anger between the four of you. The others are much more disturbed at the way you're reacting than the incident you're reacting to. I find myself agreeing with them. While the matter you're warring over is...disconcerting, it does not need to destroy your friendships. If it does destroy your friendships, it does not need to destroy your relationships as teammates. Remember why you all are together in the first place; if you're no longer able to work together while subduing a Sentinel or other opponent, if you can't save each other's lives in battle, because of what went down after some pills turned up in a pair of pants, then I don't want to be on the same team as you. Maybe some of you should look into asking the X-Men if there's any room on their teams. Or Excalibur, for that matter. I hear you get along pretty well with them. But I'd rather save that for a last resort. As refreshing as it may be to kill each other, it's much more constructive to hear each other out, and then decide how you're going to approach each other in the future. My, what an unusual tactic for the X-types to use to resolve a conflict: verbal negotiation!" Domino paused briefly to revel in the uniqueness of the moment. "Now, you can't interrupt each other, and if anyone gets violent, I have my guns and will use them. Who's first?"
The four young mutants sat there with folded arms, bitterly averted eyes, and tight lips. Finally, Roberto raised his head.
"Okay, I'll go first." He peered out at his teammates, who in turn glared at him in anticipation. He turned his eyes back to the floor, and took in a deep breath. "I can't say I never intended to sleep with Theresa. While it was not something I was consciously planning, I'd be lying if I said the possibility never entered my mind before that afternoon." He looked up to find his teammates still glaring at him. "Theresa, I owe you an apology for the trouble you've been through since our affair, particularly the lying I've had you do. Dani...there is no excuse for my behavior. I hope you'll still have me, because I love you very much."
Dani looked toward the ceiling. Theresa let out a little exhausted sigh. James changed his glare from contemptuous to merely unimpressed.
"Roberto can't claim all the responsibility," came Theresa's voice. "I knew what was going to happen, or I should have. And I went ahead with it, because I wanted it. I wasn't planning it all along, either, but a part of me that sang out loud and clear wanted it to happen. So, whatever happens to him, should happen to me. Of course, that goes the other way, too."
"I commend your honesty, both of you," said Domino. "It doesn't excuse what you've done, but at least you're willing to take responsibility for it. James, Dani, do either of you have anything to say?"
"DaCosta's already heard everything I have to say about this," said James.
"I must admit that I originally wanted to shift most of the blame for this on Theresa. Not that I'm going to let you off the hook, Terry, but you're certainly not the one who brought this whole thing on. What I'd really like to know is how you two decided you had a right to do this. Roberto, am I really so worthless to you that you wouldn't learn your lesson the first time?" Dani asked.
"Dani, you mean the world to me. Please, let's work this out," Roberto started.
"No. How did you think I'd feel about this? Or did you think at all?" Dani asked.
"I wasn't thinking, Dani. But, I'd never do anything to hurt you."
"This is humiliating, 'Berto. I should have dumped you after you slept with Tabitha, but apparently, once isn't enough for me. Twice is enough. It's over. We're through."
"No! It doesn't have to end here!" Roberto raised his voice, grabbing Dani by the arm. "I can't lose you, Dani. I'll do anything to make it up to you, if you just don't give up on me."
"Do you have a hearing problem, Bobby? She said it's over, let go of her," Theresa said.
"I'd be stupid to stay with you after this. Just accept it, and keep this in mind for your next relationship," Dani said.
Roberto opened up his hand around her arm, and stood frozen in that position as Dani turned around to walk out.
"Danielle, hold on a minute," Domino said. "How is this going to affect the team?"
"I'm still an X-Forcer, if that's what you want to know. I'll save the life of anyone on this team, at any time, and I won't bring this incident up all the time. But, neither Roberto nor Theresa can consider me a friend. I respect them too much to not hold them accountable for their actions."
Domino sighed. "I'm sorry to hear that, but, okay."
"Can I go now?" Dani asked.
"Yes," Domino said.
Dani walked out and shut the door behind her.
"I can't believe this. How could I let her go?" Roberto thought aloud.
"Roberto, you slept with another woman, and she forgave you. You did it again, and she decided she'd had enough. You didn't 'let' her go, you screwed up and she refused to put up with it anymore. It was never within your power to make her stay," Domino said.
"I swore this wouldn't happen," Roberto went on.
"You should've sworn that you wouldn't let yourself astray. That would've meant something to her," James said.
"Shut up, Proudstar. I've heard enough from you," Roberto wrinkled his nose.
"Alright, is there anything else you three want to say to each other?" Domino asked.
"Just one thing for Theresa," Roberto said. He walked over to where she was sitting, and whispered something in her ear that made her eyes pop open. James heard it, too, and tensed up to sock Roberto, but Theresa stopped him, while Roberto made his way out of the infirmary.
"Jimmy, sit down," she said firmly. He dropped back into his seat grudgingly. "Domino, can I talk to Jimmy alone, please?" asked Theresa.
"Are you sure?" Domino checked.
"I promise, we won't hurt each other," Theresa said.
"Okay, but if I hear anything being smashed, crushed, split, or tossed, I'm coming down, and bringing Tabitha," Domino said.
"I understand," said Theresa. Domino nodded and went out the same way as Dani and Roberto.
"Jimmy, Bobby told me--" Theresa began, but James cut her off.
"I know what he told you," he growled.
"--he told me you said you still loved me. Is this something you're ashamed of?" she finished.
He realized what she'd just asked him, and felt sharp stinging rays of guilt poke at his insides. "No, no, of course not," he said, and squatted down beside her.
"Then why are you so angry about Bobby telling me this?"
"I thought there was no hope left for us. So, then it wouldn't help for DaCosta to bring that up again. Why, what does it mean to you?" he asked.
"It means a lot to hear that a man in my life still loves me, Jimmy," she softly said.
James started at Theresa, wondering what to make of her words, for a few moments. Finally, he exhaled quickly, and let his shoulders slump. "So what does this mean for us?" he asked.
"Let me explain," she began. "In that long time when I was neither here not there with you, it wasn't because I wanted to hurt you. Part of it was...I just couldn't appreciate what a good man I was letting go," she whispered the last part. "The other part was, I wanted to protect you from me. I was so damaged--still am, really--that I didn't want to think of what kind of relationship I'd make. I was afraid to expose you to that. But, I'd never hurt you, at least not on purpose."
"You never had to worry about that," James said after a moment of pregnant silence. "I knew what I was getting into, and it didn't scare me."
"Okay. Well, I would like to give it a try with you, if you'll still have me," Theresa said.
James' jaw went slack for a second, until he realized how shocked he looked, and composed himself. "Do you mean you want a relationship that goes beyond the platonic?"
"I would like that very much," he said as calmly as possible, even though he was inwardly barely able to contain himself.
Theresa smiled and let out a sigh of relief. "Wow. Sure took us long enough, didn't it?"
James briefly considered telling her to speak for herself, but decided it was best to let that one side. "Yeah. I thought this would never happen."
"Y'know, this is an odd time to be starting this up, seeing what I did just a few days ago," Theresa pointed out.
"True. But, I'm not going to hold a grudge. I've had my fill of that matter by now."
"Good," she nodded. "But you know, Roberto just lost a relationship, and we just started one. This is gonna be rough on him. Should we tell just yet?"
"Hmm. It would be a very bitter pill for DaCosta to swallow, indeed...but as much as I hate the little prick, we won't put him through that just yet. Let's wait a few weeks before we tell the others, or at least a few days." He swung from the rafters some more.
Meanwhile, the day was winding down not nearly so happily for some other members of X-Force. Sam found Dani sitting on the roof, staring up at the sun, with her back turned to him. He walked towards her, and the sound of his feet against the gravelly surface gave his presence away. She didn't turn around when she heard him coming, but wasn't startled when he placed his hand on her shoulder.
"Hi, Sam," she breathed.
"Do you mind telling me what happened?" he asked gently.
"It's over between me and Roberto. I broke it off."
"Oh, God," said Sam.
"What? You did the same thing with Tabitha, only sooner," she said, slightly defensively.
"I know, and I'm not saying you did the wrong thing, just...this has got to be rough on him."
"Yeah, well, if he didn't know before what happens when you cheat on your lover, he knows now."
"I'm sorry, Dani."
"It's not your fault."
"I know, but I'm sorry you had to go through this. How're you feeling right now?"
"Awful," her voice cracked. "I still love him, Sam, but I can't take this anymore. I can't risk letting this happen again."
"For what it's worth, I don't think he did what he did because he thought any less of you."
"I know. Still, I can't just gloss this over, for either of them. What they did wasn't right."
"You're right, but listen to me, Dani; even if you never forgive him, you can't afford to let this eat you up. You've gotta get on with your life, and not let this leave a scar."
"I will get on with my life, Sam, but right now I think I'm entitled to a little misery, okay?"
"Yeah, I know what you're saying. And in the meantime, I'll be here, to help you get through it."
"Thanks, I appreciate that."
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