by Alicia McKenzie
DISCLAIMER: The characters belong to Marvel, and are used without permission for entertainment purposes only.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a sort of half-sillyfic half-vignette, set after a hypothetical CABLE #75....whoo, that was obscure. ;) Let's just say it's self-explanatory, and more than a little fluffy. Not much substance here, believe me....;) Dedicated to a certain cat who needed a happy ending. :)
The first thing Nathan Summers became aware of as he struggled up out of the darkness was the fact that his head hurt. Like hell, actually. Calling it a headache would be presumptuous, since he wasn't QUITE sure he actually still had a head there and not just that thudding, pulse-like pain.
He could deal with not having a head, he reasoned. *Oath, it was fairly empty already, anyway. No big loss. Plus I could go and decapitate a couple of Horsemen, and have Headless Horsemen for company. Heh. I kill myself. . .*
He actually tried to laugh. What came out was a cracked groan that sounded so appalling he decided that shutting up would be healthiest for his pride. Apocalypse was probably listening, and he'd rather flonq Logan than give that motherless bastard any satisfaction.
There was a soft, disbelieving laugh. "He's, um, coming around," a familiar voice quivering with a weird mixture of tension, concern and amusement said.
Well, that was new. The last time he'd checked, however long ago that had been, the lab had been empty. Or he'd thought it had been, rather. Maybe he was hallucinating. Cracking up. Wouldn't THAT be fun. Stryfe always seemed to have had so much fun as a raving lunatic. . .maybe he should try that for a while. Nice, undemanding insanity. The thought was perversely appealing.
"Good, but what the hell's so funny, Jeanie?" a rougher voice said. Nathan concentrated. He knew THAT voice, too. But it was tired. . .tired and angry and sad. He'd feel sympathetic, but he was too busy feeling sorry for himself at the moment. Maybe later.
"Nothing, Logan." A cool hand touched his forehead, and he flinched. "Nate, I know you can hear me," Jean said softly.
"Come on, son, open your eyes." That voice, coming from his other side. . .he knew that one, too. And he really didn't want to open his eyes, because at this rate, he'd see his whole family hovering over him, and half of them would be yelling at him for letting himself get captured, while the other half would be yelling at him on general principles. . .
Besides, his pride hurt almost as much as his head did. If he kept his eyes closed, maybe he could pretend Apocalypse hadn't kicked his ass into the next century, laughed, and then tossed him back into the lab while he decided what to do with him. *Nice thoughts. Happy thoughts. Sitting on the beach and watching Dom model a new bikini thoughts. . .*
"Come on, asshole," her voice said, right on cue, soft and warm and encouraging. Nathan spared a momentary evil thought for the universe's lousy sense of humor, making him hallucinate she was there. At a time like this. . .the gall. The universe was a remorseless tease. "You're keeping the rest of us waiting."
*Late. . .late for a very important date. . .* Why was he getting the mental image of Dom in a bunny costume right now, anyway? Not that it wasn't a very appealing image. . .only her bunny ears were crooked, and she was glaring at him.
A different voice chuckled softly in his mind. #It's good to see your sense of humor's still intact, Nathan,# Xavier said quietly.
The addition of Xavier to that mental image was disturbing in a very fundamental way. *I think I'm going to wake up now.* Nathan opened his eyes and winced, closing them immediately at the way the bright light stabbed like twin daggers into his skull. "Ouch," he muttered in a cracked voice. "Someone turn off the sun."
"We're inside, Nathan," Scott said.
Was he not allowed to make a joke? Was it some unwritten law of the universe? Or was Scott just taking things WAY too seriously, again. . .*what a flonqing surprise THAT would be.*
#Be nice to your father,# Jean's voice said in his mind, reprovingly but still gentle. #He's been worried about you. We all have.#
Nathan opened his eyes partway. The light still hurt, but not as much. He was getting used to it. It just took a while. He felt like he'd been in the dark for a year. . ."All these people hovering over me. . .don't I feel loved," he rasped, and tried to sit up. The wave of dizziness that swept over him nearly sent him back to the floor again, but a couple of the somewhat indistinct shapes surrounding him reached out and caught him.
"Easy, Nate," Dom said gently. "Take it a little slower you're pretty banged up."
"No kidding," he muttered and opened his eyes a little wider, blinking as he tried to focus. Scott. Jean. Dom. Logan, off to one side Xavier on the other. And other people in the lab, too. A very odd mixture of people. A significant mixture of people. "Regular party we seem to be having," he said weakly, and heard a disgusted snort from somewhere farther away.
"We're wasting time!"
Jean's head whipped around, and she leveled a deadly glare in the direction of the complaint. "Even if he wasn't one of the Twelve, Shiro, this wouldn't class as wasting time."
Sunfire? Nathan laughed raggedly and closed his eyes, ignoring the pain in his head to scan the room telepathically. He knew what he'd find before he did it, but he had to make sure. . ."The gang's almost all here, I see. Where's. . .what's-his name, the Living Monolith?" One missing, and they couldn't have that, could they? Twelve was the number, the magic number
Scott's hand on his arm suddenly tightened, almost spasmodically. "What? Wait a minute. . .you knew?"
Nathan opened his eyes, fighting to focus on his father's face. "Who the Twelve were? Yeah, for a while now. Rachel showed up a few weeks ago, gave my presently rather addled brains a stir. . ." He turned his head to one side, narrowing his eyes until the silver-haired shape over by the door took on a little more definition. "What did you do to get HIM here?"
"Amazingly enough," Magneto said dryly, "I can be reasoned with at times."
"Why didn't you tell us?" Scott was still on the whole indignation kick, Nathan noticed wearily. He had the whole 'why didn't you tell me, what were you thinking, if you weren't taller, heavier, and generally meaner than I was I'd take you over my knee' tone going. "We wouldn't have known about any of this if Kitty hadn't found Destiny's diary "
"But she did, didn't she?" Nathan said helpfully. When all else failed, be obscure. It was a really good way of covering your ass. "Things happen because they're meant to happen."
"Plus I'm just a secretive bastard who likes hiding things. But you all knew that, didn't you?" Or honesty could work, too. . .
"Nate," Domino said, softly but firmly.
He looked up at her, and was immediately lost in those violet eyes. He could have drowned in them happily. All he saw in them was relief. No judgement, no accusation. They weren't silently telling him how stupid he'd been, how short- sighted, how much he would have deserved it for sheer bloody-minded stupidity if Apocalypse HAD killed him. . .
"The kids are all okay?" he asked hoarsely. The kids had been on his mind. . .the kids and a thousand other things. It was no wonder, the way things had turned out. He'd had his mind everywhere else but on the fight. . .he hadn't been focused, hadn't been fighting smart. . .
"Just fine," Domino said softly. "Worried sick about you, though." She reached out, gentle fingers tracing the side of his face in a bare caress. The fact that she allowed herself the gesture, in this company and under these conditions, told him how worried she'd really been, even more than what he was sensing from her did. "Looks like we were right to be."
Then again, what he was sensing was pretty telling, too. And entirely too similar to some of the emotions he'd barely been keeping under control as he'd been held prisoner here. Fear. . .dread. . .barely repressed panic.
He closed his eyes again, trying to block out the memory of how easily Apocalypse had beaten him. So fast, it had been over so fast. . .he'd landed a couple of telling blows, but nothing really damaging, and Apocalypse could have killed him a half-dozen times, why hadn't he. . .?
#What is, is, Nathan. And you were never supposed to fight him alone.#
He felt the ripple of surprise - and wariness - go through the others even before he opened his eyes to meet the gaze of the old Askani standing in front of him. "Not alone," Blaquesmith said aloud, and extended what he held.
Nathan stared at him for a moment longer, and then started to get to his feet. He had more help than he needed, but he shrugged free of their grip as soon as he was upright and stepped forward, taking his psimitar from Blaquesmith.
He felt better as soon as he touched it. Or maybe it was something else, the sudden appearance of hope where there'd only been despair. . .
He looked down at Domino. Her eyes as she stared back at him were brighter, suddenly. Free of shadows. He wondered what she saw in his.
"Time for a rematch," he murmured.
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