by Brooke Hembree
Author's note: Thanks to Alicia McKenzie for letting me use her story, "First Dance", as my history for Domino's first meeting with Cable. It's a great story, so read it! But, um, first read mine, and then send me some nice feedback! I'll be your best friend!
"Nathan, is anything wrong? You have hardly spoken a word all night."
Cable blinked, then focused on Storm. "Hmm, Ororo?"
"I asked if anything was bothering you," his friend asked.
No yes. He wasnt sure if anything was wrong, but something was certainly bothering him. After his argument with Domino, Blaquesmith had sent him on a well, a wild goose chase, for lack of a better term. Cable had investigated an old base that had belonged to Apocolypse, but was now totally abandoned. Except for the still active security system.
Cable hadnt been expecting the security and Blaquesmith, if he had known, hadnt felt a need to warn Cable. In fact, Cable couldnt help be wondering if his old friend and mentor hadnt seemed almost smug. The security hadnt been much, but it had given him some minor injuries. And for what? Nothing. Nothing that would even remotely help Cable find and defeat Apocolypse.
That wasnt the worst part, though. After he had gone to the Med-Lab to let Hank patch him up, he had gone looking for Domino, to apologize. Rogue had said, "Sorry, sugar, but no ones seen hide nor hair of her since she took off a week ago." Scott had been a little more detailed about it, "She didnt leave any plans for her mission, no way of reaching her in case something went wrong. And she hasnt checked in with any of us." Then he had given Cable a measuring look, not pointing out that Cable had done the exact same thing.
Cable had tried to laugh it off, to ignore the feeling of dread deep within him. At first, hed missed her for purely selfish reasons. Both his body and his ego had taken a beating during Blaquesmiths little infiltration. He didnt feel comfortable talking about it to anyone else, but if Dom had been there, she could have talked him out of his dark mood, telling him that he hadnt done that bad, with a wicked grin, then maybe easing his sore muscles with a back rub.
As one week turned into two, though, his mood had steadily worsened and his injuries were still giving him trouble. And he had started worrying about Domino, even contacting Wisdom to find out if he knew where Domino was. But she had just disappeared.
Of course, it was entirely possible that she had done this on purpose. Maybe shed just gotten fed up with him and decided to take a few weeks off. But when he had almost convinced himself of that, he remembered how shed come up to his room to talk to him about something, and their argument and his parting words.
Everyone could see that Cables mood getting darker and darker. Most of the occupants of the mansion kept their distance, but a few tried to reason with him. Finally, today Hank had cornered Cable and told him that he had decided that Cable needed treatment for his "problem."
"Its a rather old-fashioned treatment, granted, Nathan, however it has a very high success rate. As your doctor, I order you to spend a night out with a beautiful woman. And, wonders of wonders, our resident weather goddess happens to have tickets for a concert tonight."
And that, Cable reflected, was how he had ended up in a restaurant with Ororo tonight.
"Nathan?" Cable didnt miss the frustrated edge in Ororos voice.
"Ororo, Im sorry. I just " he trailed off, frustrated himself.
She smiled gently. "I had thought at first that you were simply in awe of the music tonight at the concert, but now I am beginning to wonder if my company is not putting you to sleep," she said. He couldnt help by smile back at the gentle humor and concern in her lilting voice.
"No, Ororo, not that. The concert was wonderful, the meal is delicious and I couldnt ask for better company," he said. "And I certainly appreciate you inviting me out to take my mind off things."
"But?" his friend prodded gently. Nathan didnt say anything. "It is not working, is it, Nathan?"
"Its just that Im worried " he trailed off, unsure of whether or not to continue.
"About Domino. And her mission," she supplied. Cable raised his eyebrows. As far as he knew, Scott was the only other person who suspected she was on a mission. Ororo smiled at her friends look. "I am co-leader of the X-men, Nathan," she reminded him gently. "I noticed that Domino had borrowed some new weapons that the Ma- that Forge had sent over."
Cable chuckled. "I hope it wasnt a problem. Domino can be impulsive sometimes." Impulsive? he thought indulgently, Try completely unpredictable.
"Of course not, Nathan. At the very least, this can act as a field test. I would trust her judgment on weapons based on her past experience," she said. "But that isnt the issue. Given your history with her, Im sure shes gone off in the past on missions. Why would this one be any different?"
There was no spite, just genuine curiosity tempered with concern for a friend. And it was hard to keep carrying around all of this guilt. It was ironic. In the past, hed kept most of his life a secret, yet he always had the Professor with him. If something like this had happened in the past, he would have talked to the Professor about it and the computer would have helped him figure out a solution. But the Professor Prosh was gone. He looked again at Ororo, someone who hed come to consider a very close friend. And he tried to think of what to tell her.
He frowned. There was that feeling of dread within him and he was starting to wonder if Blaquesmith might have purposely kept him away from Domino for some reason. There was the fact that she had apparently wanted to tell him something that day, when she came in his room, as well as thousand other, smaller things. But one thing stood out.
"We . argued before she left," he said. "A lot of stuff was said, but as she was leaving, I told her that I didnt care if she came back or not."
Storm considered this for a moment. "Are you worried that she took you at your word?"
Nathan shook his head. "No, Ororo. I mean, she might have taken off if it had been just me and it might have been better all around to get a cooling off period. But X-force. They need her and she takes that seriously." He was silent for a moment, knowing that deep down she had done more for X-force than he had. "And when she came to my room, I think she wanted to tell me something. But, I basically threw her out and then when I went to her room . That didnt go much better. I think she might have been so disgusted that she took off without back-up."
The waiter came by to take their empty plates and bring them coffee and desert. Cable started on his immediately, to give him something to do.
"But if something had gone wrong, surely she would have contacted you," Ororo said.
"Unless she wasnt able to." There. He had voiced his fear. Ororo nodded, obviously weighing the situation in her mind.
"I was under the impression," she began carefully, "That the two of you had a link?"
He nodded, taking a sip of his coffee. "Yeah were psi-linked. Have been for awhile."
"Have you not sensed anything from her?"
"No. Nothing at all. Ive tried actively scanning for her " he hesitated and burst out, "Dammit, Ro, I may not be as experienced as Jean or Betsy, but Ive been scanning actively for her for the past week. I should be strong enough to sense her anywhere especially with the psi-link. But I havent felt a damn thing."
A frown marred Ororos lovely face. "Nathan, are you implying that she might be "
Nathan shook his head. "Im not implying anything. Im just stating facts. If she had been killed " his voice caught a little bit, "I would have, should have felt it. A psychic back-lash I should have felt the link being severed."
"But you felt nothing?"
"No, Ro. Shed been keeping her end of the link quiet especially after the argument but I still felt her there. Then suddenly, I realized I couldnt even sense her. Either shes doing a hell of a job shielding, or someone is interfering with the link."
"Is that possible?"
He finished his desert and considered the question. "What? Her being dead? Shielding? Anything is possible, I guess. But it still I should have felt her death cry if she was killed and Doms good, but shes a non-psi. She shouldnt be able to actually hide out like that."
"Then you think someone is interfering with your psi-link?"
He considered that for a moment. Did he? "Maybe. But if someone were blocking it, I should have felt whatever was done on my side of the link. And Dom has a strong psi-signature, very distinct. And she thinks loudly anyway." He thought about the situation a little more. "Stab her eyes, I thought she was past this stage."
Ororo looked at him curiously. He debated on whether to tell her anymore or not. On one hand, he liked having his secrets. He didnt feel comfortable with these confidences. On the other hand, it made him feel better to be able to talk about this with someone.
"Back when I first met her, well, she was young. Couldnt have been more than seventeen, eighteen. She wanted to join the Wild Pack." Cable smiled, as he remembered their "interview". "She may have been young, Ororo, but she was experienced. Shed been freelancing for a good year, at least. And we needed someone with her skills, she was there and so we let her in." Cable hesitated for a moment, then went on, "She was good. But she was so young, and shes got that unpredictable personality anyway. I cant tell you how much I worried about her sometimes, not that Id let myself admit it. Of course, she has that luck power for a reason." Cable smiled at happier memories.
"I cannot imagine you as a mercenary," she said. "It seems to be at odds with your mission." She said this carefully, disguising almost all of her curiosity.
"That would have been my geographical orientation period, Ro," he said with a smile.
This time, she didnt hide her shock. "Geographical orientation, Nathan?"
He chuckled, sitting back in his chair. "Yeah when I came here I had to learn about the political structure, the economic structure " He shrugged, "You name it. And what better to learn about a countries political and economic system than by taking it apart?"
She pursed her lips thoughtfully, "I suppose."
"I miss it, sometimes, Ro. It was so simple then we drank a lot, we made some money and we had a party. And now " He trailed off.
"And now?" she prodded gently.
He seemed surprised to realize hed said so much. "And nowI have no idea, Ro. Im here. Trying to do the right thing when Im not even sure what the right thing is. Um, are you ready to go?"
She went to "check her make-up" as he paid the check. Nathan wondered about that particular female trait, always had, probably always would. Hed seen Ororo without lipstick before, but hed learned long ago not to argue a point like that. He recalled some of the more scathing discussions with Domino over so-called "feminine mystique."
As he walked with his "date" to his car, he was shocked to realize that hed, by immersing himself in happier memories, he had managed to avoid worrying about where his partner was. Ororo had succeeded in that thinly concealed mission, he thought with a wry smile. Of course, he honestly didnt think she was trying to keep his mind off his partner as much as she was trying to keep him from dwelling on something he couldnt help.
Tonight had been a good thing. He now understood his relationship with Ororo better. The two of them were incompatible as far as a romantic relationship, but she was a good friend. A friend he wanted to keep. Now, if he could only understand his relationship with Domino.
"Ro?" he asked, after driving in silence for fifteen minutes.
"Youve listened to me all night, now its your turn to talk."
"Very well," she said, with a slightly surprised look.
"Do you ever regret where you are right now? Not staying in Africa, maybe?"
She was silent for so long that he had given up on her answer. "Sometimes, yes. Maybe often. But where I am now it is where Im meant to be. I dont pretend to understand a lot of things about America...their culture, their views on life "
He nodded, understanding that statement. "But?"
"But I have a family here. I have a purpose. I am making a difference," she said, with confidence.
"But good or bad?"
"Ororo, what if, in spite of all your sacrifices, all that youve given up, you end up doing more harm than good?" he asked.
"Nathan, Im not sure I understand what youre trying to say," she said.
"Ororo, all of us have given up so-called normal lives, just for a life with constant pain, constant suffering and what, when its all over, it didnt make a damn bit of difference?"
"Then, I suppose that I can try to console myself by knowing that I did what I believed in, that no matter how things turn out, I was struggling to right the wrongs of the world," she said. She looked out the window. She didnt need to add "And thats that," because they both heard it in her tone.
And for her, it was that simple. For him, it should have been even simpler. He was the Askanison, born to defeat the Apocalypse. Wasnt he? Or was he? Sometimes, especially lately, he would lie awake at night and wonder about that. Wonder who decided to make him the Chosen One, if he even deserved such a title. And he also wondered if defeating the Apocalypse made a damn bit of difference, when everything that mattered to him was slowly falling apart.
Cable had a headache. He was tired and disgusted with life in general and himself in particular.
I think Ill see if Jean will let me borrow Cerebro to scan for Domino. Id much rather have her mad at me for violating her privacy than have her dead.
He was so distracted that he would have missed it had Ororo not laid a hand on his arm and said, "Nathan, what is that?"
They were just getting ready to turn into the mansions driveway. Ororo was pointing at a dark shape by the gate. His mind refused to process what he saw.
Great, someones dumped a load of garbage by our door--wonder what Bridged say about that? Then, he realizes it was clothing. It looked a lot like the jacket Domino had worn the last time he had seen her. It looked like a human shape. Someone with a jacket like Doms is taking a--a nap by our gate? No. Who would fall asleep there? At this time of night? "Thats"
He stopped the car in the middle of the road.
"That is Domino," Ororo said, a combination of shock and fear in her voice.
They both jumped out of the car and rushed to her, but Ororo reached her first.
"Goddess! Nathan, she is barely breathing. Shes badly hurt! I think she may be"
"Shell be fine, Ororo." He dropped to his knees by her. "Dom? Ive got you babe, wake up." Her thoughts were muddled, tangled as well as dangerously weak. "Dammit, Dom, youve proved your point! This isnt funny even for your weird sense of humor, now wake up." When she didnt stir, he lifted her up.
"Weve got to get her to Hanks lab now," he told Ororo hoping that it wouldnt be too late. Praying that Dominos blood wouldnt be on his hands as well.
To Be Continued...
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