DISCLAIMER: Any character you recognize is the property of Marvel Comics and is used without permission for entertainment purposes only.

Warning: This story may deal with adult issues, so be forewarned.

My boyfriend says I'm lazy for simply stating that 'standard disclaimers apply', but I've assured him that you all know precisely what I mean.

Just Lucky, I Guess


DuAnn Cowart


"Nathan, I have little doubt that these headaches are exactly what you say they are- stress-induced migraines. I can write a prescription for the pain, if you like, but given the nature of your abilities I must recommend an additional procedure." Dr. Henry McCoy's handsome blue-furred face was studiously neutral, but the staccato beat tapped on the examination table by one sharp claw betrayed his concern.

Nathan, baseball cap clenched tightly in one hand, growled suspiciously "What kind of 'procedure'?" As much as he respected Hank's expertise, he was well aware that the X-Men's resident bio-chemist and physician had a distinct proclivity for excessive testing and experimentation.

Raising a protesting hand, the doctor chuckled ruefully "Nothing too traumatic, I assure you. You should be well aware that it is now standard procedure with telepaths in cases like this to conduct a full psi-scan to verify that there is no psychic wound that conventional examinations would fail to turn up. After Onslaught, we're not taking any more chances." Blue eyes met brown in shared sorrow, and neither voiced the unspoken 'If only...'

The older man ran his fingers through thick silver hair, then nodded. "You're absolutely right- that's the least we can do. When can we begin?"

The tapping changed rhythm as Hank considered. "The sooner the better. Of course we need another telepath, and Betsy and Jean are both very well versed in the technique. Pretty much any skilled telepath will do- it's just a matter of whomever you feel more comfortable with."

Remembering his encounter with Psylocke earlier in the week, Nathan frowned. 'Definately not that bitch.' "Definately Jean," he decided.

Hank smiled. "I thought as much. In fact, I was going to suggest our beloved Jeannie- shared genetics on top of the familial bond you two share should make this procedure a proverbial snap! If you're ready now, I'll go ahead and call her in-"

"Allright. Let's get this thing over with."

She delicately picked through her 'son's' mind, careful to preserve as much of his privacy as possible. Some images were impossible to ignore, but she sailed through them as best she could. Even in great pain, his TO mesh was stabilized, and she allowed herself a proud smile. 'Redd' had taught him well.

She winced as her gentle probing set off another wave of pain. One thing was certain- the disturbance was definately psionic in nature. His entire mindscape was bruised. 'No wonder he's got a headache,' Jean ground her teeth as she scanned his mind 'This is not good- Hmmm...what's this?' The damage seemed particularly severe around a recently shielded area of Nathan's mind. Anticipating the possiblity of her encountering shields, Nathan had granted her permission to look beyond them if necessary, so she felt no compunctions against removing the shielding to examine what was inside. He'd told her "You're the only telepath I trust enough to allow that, Jean." She'd understood, and warmed slightly at the memory.

Focusing her attention, she began carefully peeling away layers of shielding. 'Classic defensive shield,' she noted clinically. 'Thrown up rather hastily, too.' She reinforced her psionic armor, took a deep breath, and removed the final layer. 'Oh my stars and garters,' she breathed, borrowing her teammate's favorite exclamation. A huge psionic blister was at the center of the bruising- puckered and oozing, it radiated pain. She narrowed her eyes and set to work.

Two hours later, she sat up wearily and took the proffered glass of juice. "Thanks, Hank. How is he?" Separated only by the Beast's considerable bulk, she and Nathan rested on identical examination tables in the med-lab, both hooked up to Shi'ar monitoring equipment.

"He appears to be fine, Jean, though I was beginning to worry- had you been out five minutes longer, I would have called Betsy in to pull you out." They'd kept Psylocke on call just in case- with her newly acquired ability to travel through shadows, she was available at a moment's notice. "Tell me...what did you find?" Hank busied himself removing electrodes, considerable intellect focused on the problem at hand.

Jean described the blister and the psionic damage it had caused "I was finally able to repair it. Though incredibly painful, the wound wasn't really all that serious- I believe it would have healed itself eventually. There should be no permanent damage."

"What would have healed itself eventually?" Nathan struggled to sit up. "Jean- what was it?"

She inhaled deeply and swung her legs off of the table, holding on to Hank's strong arm for balance. "Nathan- do you remember a discussion we had a few days ago about you needing to develop better shielding?"

His face flushed slightly. "Yes."

"I apologize for that now. You're psi-linked to someone, aren't you?" Hank's presence made her choose her words carefully.

He nodded, and she continued. "Apparantly, you suffered some sort of mental backlash through that link- probably totally unexpected,and of incredible intensity or the link itself would have buffered the transmission. The intense shock caused a...well, for lack of a better term a psionic blister. You instinctively threw up shields, but the blister itself remained untreated and was the source of your headaches. I repaired the worst of the damage, but you'll need to keep an eye on it yourself until it's completely healed. There won't be any permanent harm, since your shields handled the brunt of the pain. This case is hardly unique- Scott and I have both had similar experiences, though neither with damage as severe as this one." She stood to leave.

Hank took her hand and kissed it. "Many thanks, fair Jeannie."

She grinned "Don't let Scott see such chivalry- Summers men are incredibly jealous." Pointedly raising an eyebrow at Nathan, she walked out. 'By the way,' he heard as she turned the corner 'You may want to talk to Hank about scheduling another procedure for Domino later- that backlash burned through both ends of the link, and since as a non-psi she doesn't have the caliber of shielding you do, she's probably got a hell of a headache, even worse than yours. Call me when you talk her into it.'

Noting Beast's wry look, Nathan sighed. "Even if I weren't telepathic, I can read your mind, Hank. You're right- the psi-link's with Dom, which explains her headaches, too. Yeah, I guess we need to call her in. Jean says that as a non-psi the damage will be more severe for her, but still managable." The trepidation in his tone was unmistakable. 'This is *not* going to be easy.'

The doctor's reply was a very succinct, professional "Okey-Dokey."

"You want me to do WHAT?" Domino's jaw dropped slightly in disbelief quickly replaced with a cold "Uh-uh. No way. Ain't gonna happen."

Hank sighed. "Please, Domino- I've explained what happened-in great detail, I might add. The headache is caused by psionic damage. The only way to repair said damage is to allow a telepath in. It's as simple as that."

Domino scowled "I like you, Hank, I do, which is why I came to you in the first place. I do NOT like doctors, I do NOT like hospitals, and I do NOT like strange telepaths pokin' around in my head! The only person I trust enough to do that is Nate and we're not even on speaking terms right now, much less thinking terms!" Beast almost interrupted to tell her that Jean was certainly not a 'strange' telepath, but saw the dangerous glint in her eys and thought better of it.

Nathan had been conspicuosly silent. He winced at her last sentence, but said nothing. Hank studied her for a moment, then blinked in sudden understanding. 'My goodness! She's actually scared! All that belligerance is disguising a genuine fear-' He held out his hand, palm up, and changed tactics.

"Domino- you are an adult. I cannot force you to submit to this procedure, nor would I. I appreciate the faith you've placed in me as your physician, but the decision is ultimately yours. I've explained what's necessary to repair the damage- it's up to you to decide whether or not to accept the offer of assitance. I highly recomend it, but in the end your wishes *will* be respected."

She looked suspicious for a moment then relaxed. In a calmer voice she replied "Thanks, Hank. Can you give me a minute?" He smiled gently, baring a gleaming canine. "Let me know when you make a decision. I'll be in my office."

Cable stood to leave as well. She twisted a thick shock of hair around her forefinger. "Nate- wait a minute." He stopped shortly, then stared at her. "What do you want, Dom?"

He met her surly gaze. "How did this happen?" she demanded, and in a pedantic tone he began the same description that Jean had given him and that McCoy had given her. She stopped him mid-stream. "I understand that, Nate, damn! Give me *some* credit. I meant- why? When did this happen? Did you cause it or did I? I don't understand-"

He sat back down on one of the tables. "Dom...do you remember the other night when I accused you of sleeping around?"

She arched a wry eyebrow, but he saw the anger still smoldering in her eyes. "How could I forget? You're always so sweet to me."

He avoided her eyes. "Yeah, well, I wasn't just being possessive- the other night, when you stayed out, I felt everything. When you were... with him, I felt it. I didn't try, I swear, it wasn't a concious thing. It just...happened. One minute I was just sitting in my room, and the next I'm right in the middle of the biggst orgasm I've had in years- mind and body both on fire. And afterwards, my head feels like it's gonna explode- but I guess you understand that part, too. It's felt like that, on and off, all week until Jean repaired the damage today."

Her eyes widened "You mean you...Oh, shit, Nathan, how embarrassing." She looked down at her feet. "You felt everything?" she asked softly.

His voice was rough "I felt enough."

She looked up "I was entitled, Nathan. Might I remind you that you 'had plans' that night?"

He groaned "Don't remind me."

She shook her head "Uh-uh. I will remind you- you were out with Storm that night, so you have no right to expect me to sit at home. I'm an adult, Nathan- don't presume to judge me. You don't have that right."

He glared at her "I have every right not to expect you to screw the first man you find willing!" He stopped short "Oh, shit Dom, I'm sorry. I didn't mean that, I know it wasn't like that. I just-" He grabbed her shoulders and bent down to face her. "Dom, imagine yourself in my position right then- feeling that, feeling you, but knowing it wasn't me you were with-" She broke his hold and stepped back from him, her face even paler than usual.

She started to answer him, but stopped and put her hand to her temple. 'Damn, it hurts-' He opened his eyes, amazed that she hadn't taken head off. He saw her close her eyes against the pain and he felt traces of it still lingering in his own mind. "Hurts worse when we argue, doesn't it? I think that's because the link is trying to fire up- Dom, please- I'm *sorry*." He drew back at the look of fury on her face.

She muttered "I gotta sit down-" He rose to help her, but she shook him off "I have a headache, Nathan, I can still walk." She stumbled very slightly, almost unnoticably, then righted herself. He reached over to steady her, but she snarled "Leave me alone! I'm fine, dammit!" He stood beside her, worry etched across his face. Her expression softened very slightly "I'm fine, Nate. And," she promised "You'll pay for that one one day-" 'Just not today,' she groaned, the pain more intense than ever. She sat down opposite him on the other examining table, eyes squinting aginst the light- even the slightest bit was agony. "Hank!" she bellowed "Get in here!"

He appeared immediately, for he was listening on the intercom to their discussion, ostensibly so he'd know in the future how to convince her to accept treatment. He silently bemoaned the fact that Doctor-Patient Confidentiality prevented him from sharing this particularly juicy bit of gossip with the others. ''Partners' indeed!' he grinned. 'Is information obtained when eavesdropping on your patients considered confidential?' he wondered jokingly, but was careful to keep the thought heavily shielded. It was only a joke- he knew that he could never betray his ideals or his patients and friends trust.

His face was composed as he entered the room "Yes?" His brow furrowed when he saw Domino. He bounded across the room and perched on the corner of the bed "My dear, are you alright? Your face is positively ashen-" She cut him off "I'm fine, Hank, and I'm gonna do it. Do me a favor, though? Let's get this done quickly- I've got work to do."

Hank nodded, hiding a triumphant grin, and went to the other room to call Jean. Domino and Nathan were alone. For a moment neither spoke, then she broke the silence.

"I'm doing this on one condition, Nate." He answered softly "And what is that?" She bit her lip unconciously. "That you'll be in there with Jean- I like her, but I don't trust anyone but you alone in my mind. There's a lot of dark stuff there, and, well...You've gotta promise me that you won't let her see anything she shouldn't." She stared at the wall, hands shading her sensitive eyes.

He swallowed "You got it."