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.

Just Lucky, I Guess


DuAnn Cowart


Ororo stood and brushed the soil off her knees. The flowers were beautiful. Every petal shone brightly in the mid-morning sun- no unwanted pest dared bare its carapace in *her* garden. Smiling in satisfaction at her handiwork, she gathered up her tools and walked down the long driveway to the mansion, watering the shrubs and plants that lined the path with small rainshowers as she passed.

Humming a tune under her breath, she punched in the code to open the front door. Her body automatically compensated for the much cooler interior of the mansion, and she continued the tune as she entered the lobby and walked down the hall to deposit her tools in a utility room before she went up to her attic loft to change. Passing the Professor's study, she noticed a familiar figure hunched over a huge oak desk. She paused at the doorway and spoke softly. "Hello, Scott. It is a lovely morning- perhaps you should take a break and enjoy some of it outside."

Scott Summers was struggling his way through the vast array of paperwork that littered the desk. Closing his eyes tightly, he rubbed the bridge of his nose where his ruby quartz glasses restly. He looked up "Wha...oh, hell, Storm, come on in. No, I've got too much work to do today to take a break, but I'd like some company for a minute." He yawned, stretching tight deskbound muscles. Kicking the plush chair back, he walked in front of the desk and leaned against it. "I would like to ask a favor of you, if I can."

Ororo walked over to the desk. She pursed her lips, considering. Though she respected Scott and considered him a friend, the old rivalry they'd had as simultaneous leaders of the X-men still flared up at times. She paused, hedging "Might I ask what kind of favor?"

Cyclops yawned again. "I need someone capable to check our communications systems *thoroughly*. Nathan promised to get Shatterstar to do it, but...I don't have too much faith in those X-Force kids."

Storm brightened at the mention of Nathan. "Ah! You have spoken with your son lately, then?" Perhaps he'd told his father of their relationship- she was curious to know what Scott thought about it, though she was not too concerned. Though the situation was unconventional, she admitted gladly, as a dear friend to both his 'mother' and father she was certain they would consider her a tremendous step up from his last 'relationship'. 'If one could call it that,' she sniffed.

He nodded. "Yeah- that's why I need the system checked out." He recounted the previous night's conversation with his time-tossed son to her, ignoring her stunned expression. Venting his frustrations to her, he finally concluded "The whole thing's just a waste of time, Storm."

Ororo's eyes widened in annoyance and she had to bite her tongue to contain her disapproval. Even so, she couldn't keep a tiny chord of irritation out of her lilting voice "Scott, perhaps I did not hear you correctly. You said that Nathan is going...where? To meet whom? When is he leaving?" She purposefully left out Domino's name- she didn't want Scott to misinterpret her interest in the matter as petty jealousy.

Cyclops was warming up to his subject. "Oh, they're going to London- didn't say for how long, though they left Siryn in charge of X-Force so I'm assuming it's at least an overnight trip. They're leaving in, oh," he glanced down at a battered wristwatch "About thirty-five minutes or so. I think he said that they're going to meet up with...." He bit his lip, tying in vain to recall the elusive name. "Oh, whassihisname...the new guy in Excalibur. Nathan said they've been friends with him a long time- he needed some help with something, I don't remember what." A morning spent going over reports of literally thousands of names from the Mutant Underground had left his short-term memory very little room for details. "I've got it written down here, somewhere," he motioned to the cluttered desk.

Ororo was so infuriated that she didn't even bother to contain her ire. She flinched every time Cyclops used the plural 'they' when describing Cable's plans. She almost cried out when Scott said 'new guy in Excalibur.' She swallowed hard. "Wisdom?" she queried darkly, the single word conveying every ounce of her distaste and suspicion of this interloper. The situation was rapidly deteriorating from bad to worse. "Is Nathan going to meet...Pete Wisdom?"

"Yes!" he grinned, snapping his fingers. "Wisdom! That's his name. I haven't met him, just read Kurt and Moira's reports. I wish they wouldn't go, but there's really nothing I can do about it. When the Professor decided to let X-Force stay here, he agreed to give the team leaders complete mission autonomy, as long as they stayed within the boundaries of the law." 'And sometimes when we need them not to,' he didn't add, vividly recalling one time in particular when X-Force had broken into the SHIELD helicarrier to free him. Matter concluded, he sat down on the edge of the desk and picked up another thick stack of papers. Idly thumbing through them, he looked up "Well, Ororo?"

She stared at the floor, shocked by this double betrayal. Nathan- leaving with...with that unstable...no, that was too kind... with that insane woman who'd clung to him for so long, and not telling her! 'I will speak to him about this,' she promised grimly. 'And to meet....Pete Wisdom?' Bile rose in her throat as she thought of what she'd learned about this man yesterday. 'And Nathan is going to see him? Surely he is simply humoring Domino. Cable would *never* associate with such a character of his own free will.' She had completely forgotten the fact that not too very long ago, Cable *was* such a person.

Cyclops raised an eyebrow "Ororo? Can you check out the communications system this afternoon? I really don't think there's anything wrong with it, but we can't afford to take any chances."

She glared at him. "I am afraid that I will be unavailable this afternoon. I am going to speak with Nathan about this trip, and if I cannot convince him of the error of his ways I am going to London with him." She tilted her chin in the air and abruptly left the room, striding regally to her loft to change clothes and take a quick shower before meeting Cable in the hangar bay.

Cyclops watched her exit in confusion, then turned back to his work. 'Whatever,' he thought, annoyed that he'd have to find someone else to check out the com array, and resumed his paperwork.