The City Of The Evening Star
by Alicia McKenzie
DISCLAIMER: Characters belong to Marvel, and are used without permission for entertainment purposes only. The lyrics at the end belong to the Tea Party, and are also used without permission...I don't usually include lyrics even with stories inspired by songs, like this one, but I decided to make an exception in this case.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the seventh Nocturne. This Nocturne is a little different from the others. It's set entirely in Cable's head, while he's in the coma (see Nocturne #5: Memento Mori), so it gets a little...weird. :) Fair warning...there's a little implied naughtiness here, nothing graphic...:)
"Where do you go from here?"
The question came from everywhere and nowhere, in a voice he knew intimately yet couldn't put a name to. It didn't matter, not knowing. Nothing from--before mattered. Here and now, in this place, everything he was, everything he might have been, was gone.
He was an empty vessel, facing the empty desert stretching out before him. There were no roads here, nothing but barren dunes under a merciless sky, but he could see his path laid out for him. Feel it pulling him onwards to the place he had to reach.
He knew he had to start walking. There wasn't much time. Something was following him, something dark and insistent, with a power over him that he hated but couldn't resist. If it caught him, it would bring him back to where he'd been--before. And he didn't want to go back, so he had to get away before it got here. Had to start walking, despite how tired he was--how heavy his burden was.
Heavy? He laughed emptily. It didn't matter. He'd never let her go. Never. Shifting Domino's weight in his arms, he gazed down for one moment into those sightless violet eyes, just long enough to harden his resolve.
"Come on, Dom." His voice was gravelly, wavering, as if he hadn't spoken in a year. "It's not far."
He remembered this feeling from sometime--before. It felt like an old memory, something very distant yet curiously vivid. He had struggled against the wind then, too, winced as exposed skin was flayed raw by the sand.
But it was a reflex only, nothing more. Pain was pain, but it couldn't really touch him, not when he couldn't feel.
"Hold on, Dom," he muttered, coughing, cracked lips bleeding.
He wished she'd say something.
"Why--why won't you talk to me?"
The wind's howl peaked into a raging shriek, lashing at him in hate. It nearly lifted him off the ground with its force.
"Please, Dom--I'm sorry--"
She wouldn't talk to him. She was angry. He didn't blame her, but part of him had to laugh. Dom was always complaining about his temper, about how long he held grudges, but she was every bit as bad.
Softer now, the scream of the wind. He could hear himself breathe. Feel warmth trickling down his cheeks. Tears or blood, he wasn't sure.
"I should have been--faster."
Dying, softening to a breeze, the sand it had carried returning to the ground where it belonged.
"I--shouldn't have let you go on without me. But we're here now, Dom--please--"
The air cleared. He was standing atop a massive dune, staring down at the city below. Above, the sky was shading down to night, all purples and midnight blues with only a smudge of rose-gold on the western horizon.
The stars were coming out.
"We're here, Dom. We're--" He looked down at her, and a howl of pure anguish burst from his throat as she crumbled into dust, into sand, and ran through his fingers to vanish into the dune under his feet. "NO!"
He fell to his knees, crying out in wild, agonized fury, hammering at the sand with his fists.
His scream shook the silent stars.
"State your business," growled the guard. A Canaanite, in green mantle and armor, big and bestial and not quite human. Cable blinked at him--at it, wondering why he didn't feel any alarm. Why he didn't care at all. "I said state your business, traveller!" he snapped when Cable didn't answer.
Annoying man. Swaying on his feet, Cable smiled at him faintly. "Die," he whispered, reaching out and touching the guard with his hand, just briefly.
The guard shrieked and dissolved into sand. Cable felt his smile grow, turning wild and baleful and unsettling.
It felt good.
"Live," he whispered again, just out of curiosity, to see what would happen.
Obediently, the pile of sand grew, reassembled itself into a man.
The guard fell at his feet, weeping, shaking. From the smell, he had soiled himself, Cable noted impersonally. He nudged the guard with his foot, listened hard for the sounds of heartbeat and respiration. All there. The guard seemed to be perfectly healthy, if incoherent with shock.
What a curious thing.
Cable turned, casting a longing look back at the crest of the dune. "Dom," he whispered. But she'd vanished, become part of the desert. He couldn't bring her back, not from the place where he'd lost her.
He turned, staring forward into the narrow, winding streets of the city. The maze. In there somewhere, that's where he'd find her again. He could almost see her now, slipping in and out of the crowds, a slender figure in violet silk and veils, beckoning him to follow.
"I'm coming, Dom," he whispered, walking past the still-prone guard and into the city.
"Spices! Exotic spices from the Far Islands!"
"Silks! Fine silks from New Canaan itself, with the Tribune's own seal!"
Cable wandered through the bazaar, the entreating calls of the merchants ringing in his ears like dissonant bells, the smell of food provoking not even a flicker of hunger in him.
He didn't like the crowds. The women went veiled, their inscrutable eyes studying him from behind gauzy fabric. The men didn't meet his eyes at all, merely shouldered past him, gazes fixed on the ground, muttering surly apologies if they brushed against him too hard.
"Precious stones! Precious stones fit to warm any lady's heart--you, sir!"
Cable froze, turning slowly to meet the eyes of the merchant who gestured at him eagerly. "Yes, good citizen, you!" the fat little man said encouragingly. "I have just the thing for you!"
Almost against his will, Cable found himself walking over to the booth, his slow, reluctant steps inexorably bringing him closer. The merchant nodded enthusiastically, bending over the trays of jewelry laid out for display.
"Here, good citizen!" he said happily, an elegant gold chain trailing from his hand, which was closed tightly around something. "Just the thing for your beloved. A token of your love, to match her beautiful eyes--"
He opened his hand, and Cable stared down at a large faceted amethyst, glowing darkly in the light of the phosphorescent globes that illuminated the market.
Then it turned into an eye and blinked at him.
He cried out, knocking it from the merchant's hand. The man blubbered in terror at the look on his face, backing away, pleading for his life. Cable snarled, bringing a metal fist down onto the table, shattering it and sending jewelry flying everywhere.
"You son of a flonq!" he snarled, advancing on the jewel merchant. "I should kill you where you stand!"
"Temper, temper." A purred whisper in his ear, and he whirled, grabbing the slender figure in violet silk who stood behind him. She laughed, and the eyes that looked out at him from behind her veil were mirthful, not guarded.
He let go of her, trembling. "Dom?"
A pale, slender hand reached up, pulling back the veil. "Did you miss me?" Domino asked with a sly smile. "I think you did."
"Dom--" he whispered blankly, staring into those dancing violet eyes, at that smile. He could hear her heart beating from here, strong and steady and alive--"I did," he breathed. "I did miss you--"
Her laugh rang out over the babble of the bazaar. "Prove it!" she said with a challenging smile, and slipped away, melting into the crowds.
"Dom!" he called out desperately, losing sight of her. "Dom, please--wait for me, PLEASE!"
He was lost. The crowds were just as thick, wherever he turned, and he was pushing against the tide, helpless as a child caught in an undertow.
Over and over again, he called her name, desperately, his voice growing raw as the hours wore on. It felt like hours, at least, but the night did not grow appreciably darker. The city was seemingly caught in an endless twilight, frozen at the moment after sunset.
A puzzle for later. All that mattered now was finding her.
"Answer me!" he cried. "Dom!" He caught a glimpse of her silk-clad form at the end of the street, vanishing between a foodseller whose booth displayed battered, wizened-looking fruits and vegetables and another booth, one shrouded in dark hangings, more of a tent. A fortune-teller's tent? The thought echoed absurdly in the chambers of his mind.
But she was gone.
"NO!" He wasn't going to lose her this time! Stopping, holding his ground against the push of the crowd, he glared at them, letting his anger and frustration show on his face. "Get out of my way!" he shouted, his voice echoing from the skies.
And then there was a path cleared for him as a great swath of the crowd dissolved into dust. Those unaffected just plodded on, apparently unaware of the demise of so many of their fellow citizens.
Cable didn't care why that was. "DOM!" he shouted, running towards the spot where he'd last seen her.
But the two booths backed onto the city wall, a dead end. Looking around wildly, breathing heavily from the run, he could have wept in sheer frustration.
Why was she running from him? Was she still angry with him? He needed her, stab her eyes--he couldn't go on without her. He'd come so far, to find her--
"Dom," he whispered plainitively, closing his eyes and sinking to his knees. A single sob shook his broad shoulders. "Dom, why are you doing this?"
"In here," a voice called from the dark tent beside him.
He was up like a shot, through the door' and into the darkness beyond before her voice had even died. "Dom?" he asked, his heart in his throat.
Something struck him head-on, knocking him to the ground. Dazed, he blinked up at the woman straddling his chest and grinning at him wickedly as she pulled her veil off and dropped it on the carpeted floor beside them.
"You made it," she said softly. "I've been waiting for you."
He opened his mouth to ask--something, some question that wasn't even half-formed yet, but before he could say a word she was leaning over him, kissing him with an eager passion that made him forget the chase, the frustration--everything.
She pulled away for a moment, her eyes almost glowing in the dark. "Make it real, Nate," she said huskily. "You can do it if you want. Desire shapes the universe."
"Make it real," he murmured, lost in her eyes, in the warmth and the faint, spicy scent of her.
"Love me," she whispered, leaning down to brush the hair back from his forehead in a gesture so familiar that it brought tears to his eyes. "Make it real, and you can stay--we can be together, forever--"
"Forever," he breathed, and something broke inside him, some last measure of reserve that shattered irrevocably. Fire and longing poured through the breach like molten lava and he reached up, pulling her down to him and then turning them both over, claiming her mouth with a near-violence that would have appalled him at any other moment, any time when the need for her wasn't so overpowering.
"Yes," she whispered fiercely as he turned his attention away from her perfect mouth to the elegant curve of her neck. She all but tore the shirt from his back, her nails biting into his skin as she pressed herself against him. All of him was flesh and blood, he realized feverishly--and all of him was afire. "Believe in it, Nate," she almost hissed. "All you have to do to make it true is believe--"
Silk tore in his grip as control deserted him totally.
Outside, the city shimmered like a mirage, and then grew solid again. More vivid, more detailed.
More real. Sourced in need, reborn in belief.
The evening star blazed in sudden, fierce joy.
Inside the tent, Cable managed a weak smile as Domino drew him into her arms, cradling his head against her chest.
"Welcome home," she whispered in a voice full of profound satisfaction.
silence swimming in a pool of
beneath its depths the forgotten streams
above, the city of the evening star
behind its walls, the grand bazaar
as she walks through its endless maze
cursing those who mistrust her ways
please my friend no matter what she sees
tell my lover come back to me
doorways spilling out their
casting shadows that will raid the night
along the alleys of her ruling fears
walk the visions that will cause her tears
lying still as she wills her glance
through the eyes of a charmer's trance
please my friend no matter what she sees
tell my lover come back to me
and on the walls
i await you
come to me...
'The Bazaar', by the Tea Party
continued in Watched You Fall
Back to Archive