|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.
Many thanks go to Luba Kmetyk and Kristina Sennvik for their incredibly helpful comments over the last several chapters...thanks, ya'll!
Just Lucky, I Guess
Using a sophisticated version of their image inducers that disguised radio and heat emissions as well as appearance, the plane touched gently down on top of a penthouse owned by Braddock Enterprises. After programming the autopilot to respond to any distress calls by homing in on their mutagenic signatures, Cable joined the others in the cabin.
He almost bumped into Logan as he stepped out of the cockpit. "'Cuse me, Cable," the stubby Canadian lifted up a travel-stained garment bag. "I gotta change an' I didn't want ta do it in front o' the ladies if I could help it."
Glancing down at his own boring suit and tie, Cable refrained from asking why he didn't change before they left. Knowing Logan, the answer was obvious- comfort. He and Domino had decided the night before, over dinner, not to use image inducers- there were just too many ways of detecting and jamming them. He'd informed Betsy and Logan of that last night, so they were prepared. He wondered abstractedly what they would do about Storm.
He shouldn't have worried- Betsy hovered over Ororo, fluffing out the dark, stylishly short wig that disguised Ororo's pale silverly hair. A quick glance at the two women showed that that Ororo's pale, cat-like irises were now quite an ordinary brown. Though still very attractive, this Ororo had none of the exotic beauty he'd come to associate with her.
He nodded his approval at the disguise. "Where did you get those on such short notice?" he asked Betsy, whose lush purple hair and eyes now matched Ororo's dark ones as well.
The British telepath smiled mysteriously "Oh, one makes do." Satisfied with Ororo's appearance, she walked back to her chair and sat down. She felt no need to double check her own appearance, knowing that the contacts and wig disguised her unique coloring. The immaculate white sweater and slacks outfit she wore, though very stylish, was uncharacteristically modest. This woman looked nothing like the X-man Psylocke.
Domino had also touched up her makeup and perfume and was getting in character. Sitting primly on the bench, she answered his question in a perfectly bored British accent "Betsy had her own, and Storm borrowed some of my spares. You ready to go, Nate?" Her violet eyes now glowed a dark emerald.
"Yeah- just one more thing." Cable pointed to his left eye, glowing in the dim light of the cabin."Have you got mine with you?"
Domino sighed and reached for the bag she'd stuffed back behind the chair. "You should have done this already, Nate. Yeah, it's in here somewhere." Pulling out a small vial and a mousy brown toupee, she tossed both to Cable. "You need to extend your T-O mesh in synth-skin mode, too."
He grimaced "That itches like hell, but you're right." After popping an oddly shaped full-colored contact lens into his left eye, his features furrowed in concentration. As the others watched in rapt fascination, the flesh on the left side of Cable's face undulated and shifted, then settled back over his broad features, changing the shape of his face slightly. He brushed through the toupee with his fingers, then expertly pulled it over his own distinctive silver hair.
Face twitching slightly, he turned to the others "Anybody got a mirror?"
Betsy nodded calmly, pulling a small compact out of her purse "Here." 'Not bad, Nathan,' she admired the transformation. 'Pity we can't do the same thing for all those cumbersome muscles.'
Cable checked his appearance critically. The synthetic skin created by his T-O mesh covered the star-shaped scar over his right eye, and instead of gleaming golden, his technorganic left eye now matched his blue grey left eye perfectly, down to very, very tiny bloodshot lines (added for authenticity) in the corners of the whites. The synth-skin even altered the contours of his face slightly, and he nodded in satisfaction. 'Good enough.'
Walking back across the cabin to the cockpit, he pounded on the door "Logan! Come on! We're waiting on you!"
A few minutes later Logan, garbed in a classic Italian white linen suit, appeared sillouetted in the cockpit doorway. Legs spread wide apart and short arms crossed over his chest, he grinned ferally "If yer waitin' on me, yer backin' up, bub."
Ororo beamed at her old teammate. "You look most respectable, Logan."
Betsy slowly ran her eyes up and down his short frame. "Indeed." The single word held reams of meaning.
Domino, for her part, dropped character and wolf-whistled "Not bad for an old man, Patch."
Logan grinned at all three, swaggering slightly as he crossed the cabin. "Thanks much, ladies. Yeah, this is one o' my Patch outfits, Dom. Surprised ya remembered."
Her smile vanished and she shook her head solemnly. "There's no way I could ever forget." The look he gave her spoke volumes. 'Yeah, I 'member too, Neena. The combat pits o' Madripoor wasn't no place fer a little girl like you was back then...ol' 'Patch' may have been an asshole, but at least he got ya out o' there.'
Sensing the thickness in the air, Cable interjected "Well, then, if this meeting of the Logan appreciation society can come to a close, there's a very irritable Englishman waiting for us across town."
That very Englishman was bored. Bored and impatient. Sitting in a cramped booth in a dark corner of the Crown, he watched the midday patrons come in, drink their drinks, chat a little with the 'bartender' and leave. He stirred his drink half-heartedly. 'It's too soddin' early to be 'ere- I told 'er today, but ain't no way she's comin' this early. Damn Pryde for makin' me get up like this.' In his mind he mimicked his girlfriend's voice 'what if they're waitin' on you,' she says. 'you don't want to keep your friends waitin', she says. He snorted in mock disgust and took another sip of his scotch. 'Yeah, right. She just wanted to get here early so's she could get some shoppin' in before they got 'ere. Damn makin' me wait.' As always, though, the thought of his lover made him smile and his gruff irritation faded. ''S alright, though, Kitty, shop all ya want to, luv. We've got all day.' He knew he could never tell her no, even if it meant getting up at such an obscenely early hour.
He was privately very glad she'd agreed to come along with him on this little trip. He didn't especially relish the idea of having to tell his old friend the rumor he'd heard last week, and Kitty's presence would, as always, help keep him steady. Besides, he knew that Kitty had been wanting to speak to Cable about his sister (his head still spun at *that* story), and he was willing to bet that Dom had taken his hint and brought her partner along. He hoped so- when she heard his news, she'd need the moral support, too. Even though Nathan could be an insensitive bastard Pete knew he'd be there for Dom when she needed him. He shook his head grimly. 'This ain't gonna be easy for 'er, but we gotta find out whether that asshole Tolliver was tellin' th' truth or not.'
Strumming his long fingers on the stained oak table, he reflected 'It's a long way fer them to come fer a just a rumor, but...damn if I'm gonna trust that to an air line, I don't care how 'secured' it's supposed to be.' In any case, Kitty had told him that all video and audio calls received at the mansion were recorded automatically, and that didn't sit well with him at all. 'Damn fishbowl,' he griped, as much at Excalibur's living conditions on Muir as at the mansion in Westchester. 'No friggin' privacy whatsoever. Parta this news ain't nobody's business but yers, and the rest of it... well, we'll talk about the rest of it after we do a little bit more diggin'.'
Sighing loudly, he glanced up at the clock and moaned. 'Damn, this is early.' Draining his glass, he stood up and stretched, feeling the inevitable call of nature. He stood up and picked up his empty glass. "Time to water th' daisies."
Pete stopped briefly by the bar in his way to the restroom, nodding a greeting at the inconspicuous man behind the counter as he passed. "Hey, mate. How's it goin'?"
The man's eyes scanned the room, then he smiled. "'ello, Wisdom. Pretty good, mate." His guarded eyes glimmered with a hint of mischief. "Where's that pretty lady friend of yours- she finally wise up and leave you? Think I can give her a call?" The warmth in his voice took the sting out of his teasing words.
The empty glass thudded on the counter and Pete laughed a good-natured warning at the grinning man. "Not if you wanta keep on breathin', Dennis." He turned and headed for the bathroom, speaking over his shoulder. "And hows about another one of those watered down excuses for Scotch ya serve 'ere?"
Chuckling, Dennis made a rude guesture at Wisdom's back and fixed the drink. Shortly after Pete turned the corner into the Men's room an unfamiliar woman walked into the pub. The 'bartender' didn't recognize her, but this in itself was not unusual. Even though the Crown was a haven for intelligence operatives from various communities, almost as many ordinary people frequented the pub or stopped by for a midday drink.
Though the woman looked and carried herself like a typical London businessperson, he discreetly checked her out anyway- years of intelligence work had made observation second nature, and he was good at it (the main reason he'd been positioned here- that, and the fact that he, unlike some of the other operatives placed here before him, was actually a good bartender). Bartending at the Crown was more than a simple job- it took a truly skilled professional to interpret all the rumors that floated through this place.
As she walked over to the bar, Dennis scrutinized her features. Dark hair, green eyes- a figure to die for- and he'd never seen her before in his life. Something about her, though, made the sixth sense developed over a lifetime in the business tingle. 'I'll ask Pete when he comes out,' he decided. He asked in a bland tone "Can I get you something, miss?"
She sat down on a stool, a harried look on her face. 'He's checking me out,' Domino thought. 'Must not know me...Good. I don't recognize him, either. This makes things a whole lot easier.' Smiling brightly, she said in a clear London accent "Good morning. I'm early for a lunch meeting," she inclined her head towards the restaurant across the street. "Would you mind terribly fixing me a martini?"