A Smack In The Face Is A Good Reality-Check.
...at least, if youre not on the receiving end.
#...# = telepathic talkies.
... = thoughts.
...s = things that drove Jen mad when she was betaing. J
He waited a long moment, until after the waitress had brought their food over and departed again, before answering "As a sort of...thanks for last night."
She turned her face away from his direct gaze. "Wasnt anything much."
"At the time, it was everything." Nathan covered her free hand with his and sighed when she shrugged. "I just want you to know--I appreciate it."
"No problemo." She smiled hesitantly, looking back to him. "Not like I have much else to do with my time right now."
He nodded. "In other words, Youre ignoring me." He released her hand, applying a little of his attention to his food. "Im--sorry. About...the last few days."
Domino blinked in confusion, resting her spoon carefully on the plate, deciding not to eat the rest of the ice-cream that had come with her meal. "What...? Oh. No. I wasnt referring to that. Its not up to me what you choose to do, or who you wanna spend time with."
"Maybe not. But I wish Id had you with me at Lilas concert." He confessed after a moment, gaze firmly fixed on the tiny vase of flowers in the center of the table.
"Oh?" she said, seemingly careless. "Right...the concert. Did you have fun?" then she frowned, picking up the vase of flowers and placing it on the next table. "Youre talkin to me, not the pretty flowers."
"Fun? Not really. Things mightve gone a lot more smoothly if youd been there." Nathan shuddered, recalling how Storms--claustrophobic attack nearly let Marrow and Callisto escape...knowing that the confrontation would never have escalated to that if hed had luck on his side then. If Dom had been there, she wouldve either been able to talk them out of it--or distracted them long enough that they could be incapacitated. And then there was another aspect of it... "I know it wouldntve gotten so out of hand...and youre better company, anyway."
She accepted that compliment graciously, moving forward ever so slightly. "So if you have so much faith in my talents, whyd you say you didnt want me to go?" she asked, as she stabbed a piece of pancake with her fork.
She was taking this entirely too calmly for his peace of mind. He couldn't believe that she was this serene about the entire mess. Soon he was going to say something that shed pounce on as swiftly and viciously as shed attacked that part of her breakfast closest to her. Trying not to wince, he muttered "I--did. But it wasnt my call."
"Mmph. Whatever." She shifted her attention from him for a moment to get her breakfast back onto her fork, trying to hide the sudden nervousness she felt. "I cant deny that I was...less than happy when you went off with her, but I doubted you wouldve wanted me to make a big scene about it."
Nathan admitted haltingly "I...had been hoping youd--say something, but you didnt..."
"Wasnt my problem, was it? Youd told me as much a month or so ago." She shrugged, then took a bite of pancake.
"...Youre right. But before--when I said those things to you...Dom, I made a mistake. I didnt want you out of my life...dont want..." He gave her a pleading look, hoping shed understand what he was trying to say.
"These things happen." She tilted her head slightly, giving him an uncertain look, fidgeting a little. "So--does this mean anything?"
Nathan swallowed his food rapidly. "What?"
"Now. This. What youre saying. Or will it have the same relevance that stuff youve said--before had?" she examined her nails, carefully not letting herself meet his eyes. "I thought, after what happened in the Negev..." then she straightened slightly, looking directly at him with an almost eerie intensity "but you changed your mind. You did it before, maybe youll do it again...how do I know you wont?"
He flinched. "Thats--not fair."
"Isn't it?" she sighed, running a hand through her hair. "I tr--Im trying to suppress the urge to clout you around the head a time or three, believe me. But that wouldnt solve our problems." She began to
shred her napkin, tiny scraps of dark blue cloth landing gently on the table. "Itd just make more, and our relationship...or lack thereof...is dysfunctional enough as it is."
"Are you really pissed off with me?" Nathan asked plaintively. She is...but if shes this mad at me...does this mean...maybe...just maybe...she really cares?
"Yup." I will not give in to that puppy-dog look, I will not... she told herself sternly. I will not back down from this conversation, I will not run away--even if I dont know what the hell it is Im doing...
"Why?" he continued, hoping that shed admit something...anything.
"Because, damn it--you--I--we..." Domino trailed off, careful to keep her thoughts hidden from him, letting the last tiny shred of her napkin land on the table. We what? Just cause you feel that way doesnt mean he does, girl. Remember that.
Nathan waited a moment, but she didnt say anything more. He offered her his napkin, and she accepted it with a faint smile, tearing it in half to begin with. "Why?"
"No reason. Every reason. Hell, I dont know." The poor suffering fabric of the second napkin continued its descent towards complete annihilation as she ripped it in half again. "No, thats not true. Its because of...because I cant figure out just what it is you want from me." she gave him a quickly-masked annoyed look for the barest second before averting her eyes. "One minute you act like you ...c-care for me--" she stammered slightly, annoyed at herself for sounding so timid "--the next as if you dont want me near you at all."
"Thats--not true." Oath, he knew it must look like that to Dom... But she didnt understand, he couldnt tell her. His attempts to push her away were the acts...not those of one who no longer cared, but rather those of one who had finally realized, finally admitted to himself, that she was something precious to him, so precious that he was torn between holding her close, blocking out the rest of the world for eternity...and keeping her at a distance, keeping her safe, protecting her--however much it hurt him--by staying away from her.
"Ive really got to find out what is true one of these days." She gave him an intent look, violet eyes widening perceptibly as she saw the barely-hidden emotions he was all too close to voicing, glancing away swiftly when it seemed as if he would tell her... Tell me what? Don't delude yourself, woman.
"Maybe one of these days Ill surprise you and actually tell you."
"Oh no, dont! I dont think my heart could stand the strain." She chuckled softly, a sound that had reached him far too seldom in times of late, and took his hand, carefully avoiding his gaze. "No, Ill be serious for a moment. I am a little annoyed with you, but it doesnt change my feelings. So if--"
"When..." he murmured, causing her to look up in surprise.
"--when you decide what you want in life...if you want me there..."
"Not much of an if." he admitted carefully.
"Anyway...I can wait." Domino finished in a whisper.
A waitress wandered by them, pausing to ask "Can I get ya anything else?". The spell, the one that locked out the rest of the world, leaving only them, was broken. They gave her a very swift and decisive no as an answer, barely waiting for her to flounce off before going back to their conversation.
"Th--thanks, Dom..." Nathan gave a slight sigh of relief. She was being so good about this. If it had been him that shed been playing mind-games with, he wouldnt have been nearly as patient. And what does that tell me?
"s okay. After all, its not as if the worlds going to end--again--in the near future." Domino waved dismissively, wanting to switch from that rather sensitive subject before they went too far, before one of them said something they couldnt shrug off, couldnt say later and forget about, before they admitted their true feelings, or anything else...not that she didnt want to hear it...she did, more than anything, but... they couldnt, not then... Casting around for another subject, she asked slowly "Tell me...why did you choose to go to Lilas concert with the Weather-Bi...Weather-Witch? You couldve pulled rank and asked me to go too."
"I...know." he laughed at her all-too-intentional slip of tongue. "Sorry--but--Dom, has she ever heard you call her that?"
"Im really not sure. And youre evading my question."
"I am, arent I?" Nathan finished his last pancake and shrugged, trying to hide the sudden twinge of nervousness. "I just--thought, at the time, that itd be better to have Storm there."
"Why? Are her skills better than mine?" her eyes flashing in ire, she considered trying to shut up, but then decided not to. Shed just see what this led to. "I know shes more powerful, mutation-wise, but you an I both know that an alpha-level power doesnt necessarily make someone any better dealing with things out here in the real world."
"Yeah. Weve learnt that one through experience, havent we?" he flushed a little at her pointed look and continued. "No, I dont think Storms better than you. Youre one of the best, you know that."
"Thank you." she didnt relent in the slightest, keeping her gaze fixed on him.
"I just...thought..." he tried to look away, but couldnt, not quite. "...that whoever went with me might get hurt, and...it wasnt really much of a choice, as to who Id rather didnt get hurt."
Her voice took on a slightly doubtful tone, her annoyance and her feeling of that was kinda sweet quickly strangling each other, leaving her with only confusion showing. "So...you took Storm instead of me, cause youd rather have her beat up than me?"
Okay, lets try the honest approach. He waited only a heartbeat before admitting "Yes."
She wasnt sure what sort of reaction hed expected her to have--but punching him had, from the look on his face, been pretty damn low on the list. "Trying to protect me again?" she whispered bitterly. "Nathan, Ive told you, I dont need your protection, I dont want it. It never worked before--its not going to work now."
"I guess I deserved that..." he rubbed his jaw, reflecting that she couldnt be too pissed off with him. If she had, hed have been on the floor, possibly unconscious. But shed used only a fraction of the force hed seen her turn on others. As most of the Pack...everyone except Grizzly...had learned on occasion. Not that he ever wanted to have Dom do anything to him that shed done to Grizzly for revenge. Getting hit was so much swifter and less painful. Nathan was suddenly very, very glad of his T.O virus, just for that minute when shed hit him. Otherwise, even with the way shed nicely held back a little, hed have a broken jaw...and have been in entirely too much pain to telepathically ensure that no-one had noticed anything. Thankfully, they were outside, and there were only two other tables being used at that time.
"Ouch..." Domino shook her hand, wincing. Damned delayed pain reaction! "And I shouldntve done that. Oh, that hurts. Damn it, you nearly broke my hand."
"Youre the one that hit me." he muttered sheepishly.
She just glowered at him. "Is that meant to make me feel better?"
"No, its not. Dom..." Nathan sighed. "Dont be mad at me. Or at least be mad at me for something I did." Oh, no... he thought with dread when her expression didnt soften in the slightest.. Shes just going to leave, shes going to walk away--things are going to be even worse now.
But to his immense surprise, she bit her lip and, steeling herself, sat down again. "I--apologize, Nate. I shouldnt have hit you like that."
"Really? How should you have hit me, then?"
She snickered, more sincerity showing in her voice and expression than she knew. "No, I shouldnt have hit you at all. Im sorry. Truly."
"Yeah, sure you are. Sitting there smirking, and saying youre sorry. I believe you, Dom. Right, sure." He shook his head in mock sorrow. "Honestly, I dont know. Children these days. When I was your age, I..."
"Oh, wait. I know." she said cheerfully, resting her chin on her palm, her elbows on the table in defiance of good manners. It was too nice a day to ruin with arguing. Especially after shed finally dragged him out of the mansion, out of Everythings my fault! Dayspring-angst-mode, without the end of the world occurring or some costumed freak showing up trying to prove how powerful or amazing they were, and most importantly--by himself. "You walked ten miles to school, through the snow whether it was summer or winter. Of course, this would place you somewhere in the arctic circle, probably northern Canada. And when you got home, you had to chop up fifty tons of firewood with a rusty razor-blade, then..."
"Close enough." he leaned forward and said in a confiding tone "No, I didnt. But I did have a time of immense suffering at your age, though."
"Oh?" she raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah. Remember, that was right about when I met you." Maybe I shouldve moved out of her reach before I added that--
"Gee, thanks. That makes me feel so much better." She patted him on the cheek, grinning when he flinched. "Dont worry, Im not going to hit you again. Not when I can freak you out this easy."
"I will get revenge later, you know." Nathan vowed in his scariest tone. Unfortunately, it didnt faze her in the least. Not that he ever did by acting scary...
"Later. Im not going to let the prospect of that stop my fun now. I figure, if youre going to get me, its going to be nasty. So why not make the most of my opportunities?"
Why me? he thought wildly. Her expression showed that she was considering all sorts of evil things for him. "Ill be nicer in my revenge if you stop now." he said hopefully.
"Nuh-uh. Liar." Domino sat back, deciding to play nice and let him have a few minutes of apprehensive worry before she tried anything. "What do you want to do today?"
"Not much. Nothing planned, why?" he seemed vaguely interested.
"Cause I didnt want to go back yet."
"Back? To the mansion?" he questioned.
"Why not?" Had she done something before leaving the mansion earlier, something that was going to make a few people mad? She was looking too, too innocent, and that always meant trouble.
She rolled her eyes. "You have been out of the loop. After the place got trashed, the X-Men decided to take over most of our space, so X-Force is doing their best to convince the X-Men that they dont really wanna be there."
"Mmm." Domino shrugged, remembering what shed overheard earlier. She was almost sure the kids had let her hear, Because they know that I wont be protesting too much...or at all... At her last count, theyd planned rearranging everything in their wing so people could hurt themselves on the furniture, having a sword-and-powers fight through the whole house--but more in their wing, at least until theyd chased out the pest infestation. What else? Locking all the bathroom doors and leaving them locked for a day (Of course, X-Force could get to the bathrooms if they were willing to brave either Terrys Messy Room or Bertos Messy Room.) and completely demolishing every remaining edible thing in the kitchen, then going out to the nearest supermarket, stocking up on food, and hoarding it in their rooms. Theyd probably eat or throw out most of the inedible food too. Or maybe theyd leave it there--whatever they wanted.
The bathroom thing was sure to work nicely...or not so nicely...after all, a variant of that was what shed done to X-Force when theyd decided it would be fun to hide all her weaponry. Then theyd learnt what fun was--and how to cross their legs and wait for seventeen hours. "Theyre making life hell for anyone who dares enter X-Forces lair. I think itd be safer if we stayed out of the way during the next few hours."
Nathan groaned, getting the barest hint of their teams plans from her through their link. "I dont think I want to know."
"No. You dont." she considered. "Id be quite surprised if two or three of the X-Men werent gibbering wrecks by the time X-Force get through with them."
"Lets not go back to the mansion any time soon." he said quickly. If this was anything like the prank war X-Force had held in Murderworld...that fifteen-foot tall robot of Arcade was still giving him a horrible, sick feeling whenever he thought of it.
X-Force was probably being even nastier now in a concentrated effort to kick the X-Men out of their part of the mansion. After all, was it X-Forces fault that their part of the house had remained mostly unscathed? ...even if Domino had been the one to create nearly all of the damage?
"Id hoped youd see it my way." she raised a hand to her mouth, hiding a smirk. I knew youd see it my way.
"Just lovely..." Domino muttered, looking at the FoH posters in disgust. Most of them were advertising some sort of young FoH group. "Look. Theyre creating the new Hitler Youth."
"Wait, it gets better." Nathan pointed down the street. Towards a group of people who were very, very vocally proclaiming humanitys superiority to mutants, waving their FoH banners, and giving out FoH stuff.
"So, we gonna bug them?" she smiled maliciously.
He thought about that for all of two seconds. FoHers werent the most observant of people, and anything strange they did notice about either him or Dom... neither of them were exactly helpless. "Why not?"
They spent half an hour heckling the FoH recruiters, pointing out holes in their theories that one could fit the Titanic through--sideways--and generally stirring up peoples feelings, learning that, even with the whole Onslaught mess, a few people were smart enough not to pin the blame on all the mutants, just on the mutants at fault, and that most people didnt notice mutants right next to them. Then they continued on down the street, leaving behind people still arguing, and creating an even worse image for the FoH.
"Hey, Dom?" Nathan noticed something a few shops down, startling Domino out of her thoughts.
"Wanna go to a movie?" he tried to look innocent. Not that I just want to get you alone in the dark, no...
"Maybe." she shrugged, then blushed slightly, recalling several other times theyd gone to the movies. "Anything worth seeing?"
"Uhm...action, cartoon, action, another cartoon, mushy romance junk, horror, comedy." He judged from the advertising signs.
"Well find something." She gracefully allowed him to take her hand and drag her into the cinema before she changed her mind.
"Are you sure this is worth seeing?" Nathan questioned dubiously, following Domino with his hands full of the synthetic-buttered-cardboard-tasting popcorn and the drinks.
"I think so. Star recommended it." Domino replied, her expression perfectly serious despite her growing urge to laugh.
"Hell watch anything." Now Nathan looked truly frightened.
"Relax, I checked. Its meant to be good."
"Meant to be."
"Im wounded at your lack of confidence." she found their seats and collapsed into hers, yanking him down into his seat and laughing quietly at the mutters and mumbles of annoyance from the people behind them.
#I have all the confidence in the world in you. I just dont know how good this movie will be.#
#Trust me.# She sent back firmly.
#I hate it when you say that.#
#Shh. Watch movie.#
He shhd obediently, turning his attention to the beginning of the movie. After a moment, he added #You know, I like going to the movies with you.#
#Always get good seats.#
#Yeah, thats why you like going to the movies with me. Right.# she patted his hand absently. #I believe ya.#
"Another movie?" she asked as the lights came back on, adding generously "You can pick, this time."
"...sure. Why not?" Nathan thought that was a good idea. Hed been so busy watching that he hadnt thought to torment Domino during the movie, so if they were going to another movie...
"Any complaints about my taste in movies?" Domino looked to him inquisitively.
"No. But I didnt think you went for cartoons--I mean, animated movies." He said teasingly. Not that he was protesting. He very much doubted that hed make a habit of watching them, most of the Disney movies were too cutesy for him. But...
She elbowed him in the ribs. "I dont, usually. This was a rare exception."
"It was--funny. I wonder if the kids that watched it caught all the sick jokes?" He had, and he knew Domino had. That might have had something to do with why hed liked it. And it just appealed to him, somehow. Maybe it was because for some reason, although he couldnt quite explain it and he never was going to explain it--the main character reminded him of Dom in some ways. Of course, shed be the last person to ever find out that he thought that.
"Probably." She laughed. "Im sure the jokes in these movies are a lot sicker than they were when I was a little brat."
"I dont know, did they have people screaming "No, your great-granddaughter had to be a cross-dresser!!" in cartoons when you were a kid?"
"Um. No. They didnt." Domino admitted with a wry smile. "Cha want to watch?"
"That." he nodded towards a big cardboard cut-out, advertising The Big Hit.
"I knew youd choose that." she divulged as he got the tickets.
"Sure. Why else would I have let you pick the movie? This way, I could drag you off to a movie which you would like, even if you didnt know it, and then I get to watch the other thing I wanted to watch." her eyes shone with mirth and she gestured for him to go in first. He claimed the seats at the back for them, but she let that pass without ribald comment for once.
"Youre impossible." This movies crowd was considerably less than the others. Probably because this movies nearly finished here. Good...enough of a crowd so that Dom cant make a scene, but not so much that therell be anyone too near us. he gave everyone else who wandered in a little telepathic hint that it would be a Good Idea to sit up the front.
"Since you know everything..." he whispered when the lights dimmed and faded, the movie starting. #How did you know Id choose this?#
#We always watch this type of movie, Nathan. Its a habit.#
#Right.# he put an arm around her shoulders.
She froze, looking up at the fiendish gleam in his eyes and the smirk on his lips. Then she looked at his hand on her arm. Then up at him again. #No...you wouldnt...not now...#
#Oh, wouldnt I? I said Id get revenge...#
#But--# she only just managed to stifle a gasp as Nathan attacked the vulnerable skin bared by her midriff top, tickling her mercilessly. #No! Not now! Not here! Nate, you bastard, I swear Ill get you for this--#
#Promises, promises...# he sent wickedly, taking an unholy delight in what he was doing. #Will you be good?#
#NO!# All his evilness aside, she had to admit to herself that she didnt mind that much. And anyways, after the way hed been for the last few days, it was good for him to stop angsting. Plus, she liked the attention, even if she never would admit it to him.
After a few minutes, Domino stopped her token struggle, and relaxed against him. His attentions had gone from tickling to slower, more gentle caresses. They even managed to pay enough mind to the movie that they knew what the plot was, and didnt refrain from the occasional critical comment ranging from I so would not do that. and No-one who expects to be taken seriously works like that... to Thats impossible! Hed be dead after that. and its reply of Unless he was a member of your family. Nothing can get rid of them.
"You--knew this...would happen--" Domino accused him as she led the way to his room. After the movie had finished, theyd--very quickly--walked back to the car, and she knew theyd gone well over the speed limit on their way home. Not that she was bitching about it, oh no. Not her. Although shed been quite sure that only luck kept them from having an accident, what with the way Nate had been driving.
"Knew--what?" slamming his bedroom door shut and locking it, Nathan turned to his partner, drawing her close and kissing her, letting her pull him back toward the bed.
#You know, damn it. You know what happens to me after watching that kind of movie, youre the same, and you did this on purpose!# she slipped her arms around his neck, drawing him down onto the bed with her.
#I didnt. But Im not complaining.# he pulled away ever so slightly to allow them a chance to breathe...for breathing was a good thing...and brushed a strand of silky hair back after it had fallen onto her face. Then he started kissing her again, light, gentle kisses and teasing touches that he knew for certain would work her into a frenzy. After all, he wasnt quite finished in his revenge just yet...
"No..." she murmured softly, managing to retain enough control to say "Oddly enough, neither am I."
He woke up much later than usual, probably because of his ...interesting night, and found Domino gone, but shed left a note on the table beside the bed. It looked like a note anyway, and if his memory was right it hadn't been there the night before. Groggily, he reached out for it and unfolded it, shaking his head to try and find some sort of clarity of thought. It didnt work.
The message was brief--a neatly written Heya, babe. Didnt want to wake you up this morning. Ive gone to run damage control after X-Forces escapades. They did good. Watch out, the X-Men are on the rampage--theyre pissed at the lot of us. You may as well not get up, the day will be half gone by the time youre awake. Hope you enjoyed last night... I did. Remind me again why it is Im not sleeping with you on a permanent basis? Gotta go-- and a little heart, before a messily scrawled Dom.
"Incorrigible." He muttered, turning over and deciding for once in his life to actually take her advice...for a little while, anyway. He did wish she was there, though. Thered been...something he was going to...tell her...
"Well, that was an amusing little interlude last night. Now what? Ooh, decision time. Marvelous." She murmured to herself, stretching a little as she sat on one of the fallen trees that littered the grounds, trying to think logically. Option one is going back to Nate and bugging him to see if anythings changed. Thats out, because I dont want him to give me a definite answer unless its a yes, and the chances are it wont be. Option two...packing up and leaving is also pretty much out of the question as well... cause then hell think that more happened than it actually did, or that...nah, he wouldnt think that... sides, I dont want to leave...or good ol option three...pretend nothing significant happened, move on with life, wait for him to decide. She sighed "Not much of a choice, is it? So itll be option three. Again. But hey...now you know for sure that you dont have to worry about the weather-bitch, no matter what she wants..."
After a couple of minutes spent in reflection, the faintest noise alerted her to the fact that she wasnt alone.
"Hey, old man. Whatre you doing still hanging around in the back yard?" She didnt bother turning around. She knew he was there, he knew she knew, and theyd never held with formalities, anyway. "I thought we'd driven you off already."
"You wish. I ain't doing much, but Im stayin out of trouble. Kinda." Logan growled. "Not like you."
"Ah, whatever." she said cheerfully, twisting and crouching to scoop up a handful of fallen leaves and throw them at him.
"So, whyd you come out here, Neena?" he picked a red leaf out of his hair, ignoring several others that hed accumulated on his own.
"Thought Id find out how you were. Arent you glad to see me?" she assumed a hurt expression.
"Yeah, sure I am... An whyre you so damn happy?" he sniffed suspiciously. There was the very faint lingering scent of someone he didnt like all that much. "You get lucky or something?"
"Logan, Im sure I dont know what you mean. Im always lucky."
"You know what I meant."
"Really, is that any sort of question to ask a lady?"
"I aint askin a lady. Im askin you."
"Oh, thats harsh." Domino smirked. "Maybe I did. Maybe I didnt. And maybe Im not going to tell you."
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