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

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Just Lucky, I Guess

30/?

DuAnn Cowart

 

Taking a deep breath, she collected herself and conciously opened the mindlink. 'Alright, Nate, I'm done,' Domino sent cautiously. As soon as she felt his surprise at her sudden message, she partially closed her mind to his, allowing only his thoughts to come through. The memory of the dull ache that had permeated her skull for so long was entirely too fresh, and she just didn't think she had the energy to repeat everything Pete had told her to Nathan without at least a *little* bit of time alone to process it. It was going to be difficult enough to decide just how to present the news that his 'son' was back, much less what the horror of what he had planned.

Still sitting in the restaurant a block away, Nathan had just called a server over to his table when Domino's message burst into his thoughts. Though startled at the abruptness and gruffness of her tone, he was more disturbed by the poorly concealed fear that her hastily thrown up shields hadn't quite disguised in time.

Her mental shielding, which they both knew wouldn't even slow him down if he chose to look through it, was a long recognized sign between them. As one of Earth's premier psis linked with a non-psi, Cable had always had the definite advantange in their mental link. Knowing how very little Dom liked being at a disadvantage in *anything*, Nathan hadn't taken her acceptance of the bond lightly. Her shields, however rudimentary they might be, were a red flag telling him not to look any closer, and he'd learned to respect that. Two intensely private people, they'd learned over the years what to share and what to keep back from each other. As much as he wanted to delicately pierce her mental barriers and find out just what the hell Pete had told her that was frightening her so badly, he wouldn't betray that trust.

'Dom? Are you alright? What did Pete say?' Nathan sat up abruptly in his chair, ignoring for a moment the nice waitress he'd summoned for another drink.

Domino groaned. 'Dammit, Nate. I am *not* in the mood for a debriefing right now,' she thought to herself. Focusing her thoughts in his direction, she sent a terse message 'Get everyone else together and get settled in the hotel- Pete and Kitty're gonna meet us there tonight. I'm going for a walk.' She completely severed the link, not caring for the moment how frustrated she knew he would be.

Clasping her briefcase close to her, she began walking slowly in the opposite direction from the hotel. 'Dammit, Nate, you've disappointed *me* enough lately,' she fumed, trying to justify her shutting Nathan out yet again. Despite her best efforts, she knew that her ire wasn't truly directed at Nate, though he'd certainly done enough to deserve it lately. Her heels clicked rhythmically on the sidewalk as she stalked down the street, her thoughts slowly turning to the true root of her anger. 'Bastard,' she growled, already descending into the dangerous mood she associated thought of Tolliver and his pets.

Nathan jumped out of his chair, muttering a curse that wouldn't be invented for millenia yet. In his rush to get to the hotel and meet Dom, he inadvertantly knocked down the poor waitress who had been hovering near his table, waiting for his order. Several abject apologies and a big tip later, he was out the door.


A few blocks away, Logan was comfortably sprawled in the plush velvet chair outside the waiting room. With some not so subtle encouragement, Betsy had decided to buy the dress, and had casually given the fawning salesgirl her credit card to ring up the purchase. Though the clerk didn't recognize Betsy's new appearance, she did recognize the inevitable air of wealth and privelege that clung to Betsy and had treated her accordingly. Her assurances (verified as sincere, thanks to Psylocke's telepathy) combined with Logan's obvious physical reaction to her appearance in the gown had convinced her that her instincts about it has been accurate.

She'd been tempted to peer deeper into her teammate's mind as well as the clerk's, but his obvious admiration of her appearance had rendered deeper inspection unnecessary, not to mention her reluctance to invade her friend's privacy in such a manner. She usually had few qualms about using her telepathy in whatever manner served her best, but Logan was worthy of more respect than that. In any case, the flashes of his thoughts and emotions that leaked through her mental shields were more than enough to verify her suspicions.

When she stepped back out of the changing room, Logan's eyes fastened on her. Nodding his head in the direction of the departing sales clerk, he'd unabashedly ran his eyes up and down her now casually dressed frame. "Wings is a lucky man," he'd teased with a smile.

Her eyes narrowed, and before she could stop herself she muttered "He certainly thinks he is." She rolled her eyes sarcastically. 'But I'm not so sure anymore,' the thought skittered across her mind as she considered the fierce arguments between herself and her feathered lover and the coolness that had pervaded their relationship as of late. Her face tightened almost imperceptively, but Logan's keen senses immediately perceived her distress.

His weathered features creased sympathetically. "Trouble in paradise, eh, darlin'?" he growled. Conciously suppressing the images of gleefully beating the shit out of Warren that immediately sprang to mind, he contented himself with the promise that he'd have a nice *long* talk with the insensitive Mr. Worthington when they returned to the states.

Stepping over to the couch where he sat, she motioned for him to slide over. He did, and she gracefully sat down beside him. "Things haven't been 'paradise' between Warren and I for some time now, Logan," she murmured softly, knowing that he wouldn't press her for more information than she could readily give.

Catching her slim hand in his own, he rumbled softly "Then he's a damn fool, Betts. Ya ain't gotta say no more-" He broke off suddenly, but even with her telepathy turned 'off' she sensed Logan's anger and genuine concern for her, tempered with the soft flickerings of desire that she'd felt ever since she'd stepped out of the dressing room. Closing her eyes briefly, she opened them to look directly into his eyes.

"Thank you," she whispered softly, the corners of her perfectly shaped lips curling in a grateful smile.

"UH-HMMM," an embarrassed cough broke the heavy silence that hung between them. Turning slowly around, her composure completely intact, Betsy squeezed Logan's hand and released it, part of her cursing the girl's timing while another part was very, very glad for the reprieve. "Yes?" she asked regally.

The sales clerk blushed fiercely. "Uh...I'm truly sorry to bother you, Ms. Braddock, but your friend over there-" She pointed in the direction of the counter, where Ororo was staring at them, her arms crossed against her chest, an unreadable expression flitting across her face. "She told me to ask you if you were ready to go yet..." Refusing to meet either pair of eyes, the sales clerk busied herself with picking at an imaginary piece of lint on her sweater.

Before Betsy could answer, a harsh, tired voice sounded in her mind. 'Psylocke. Domino and Wisdom are done- I need your team to meet me in the lobby of the St. Martin's in thirty minutes-' Nathan's mindvoice was preoccupied, and she could sense a deep worry beneath the flatness of his tone. 'This does not bode well,' she sighed.

Raising a wry eyebrow at Ororo, she felt rather than heard the low rumble of laughter echoing in Logan's chest. Supressing her own bemused chuckle, she smoothly rose from her seat beside him on the comfortable couch. "No need to apologize. We're certainly ready to go- if my purchases are ready, that is," she smiled reassuringly at the clerk, all the while carrying on a rapid mental conversation with Nathan 'What are the plans? Did all go well?'

Logan rose beside her, and along with the clerk they walked over to where Ororo stood beside the sales counter. As they walked, Elisabeth listened to Nathan's terse explanation of Domino's scant report while she reassured the clerk that she was indeed pleased with her shopping experience.

After assuring Cable that they would indeed meet him at the hotel within the hour, she took her card back from the sales clerk, who walked behind the counter to ring up Storm's purchases while the three whispered softly among themselves.

"I hope I didn't interrupt anything," Ororo spoke softly to Logan, who simply stared at her, an amused expression on his face.

"Certainly not," Betsy responded calmly, then proceeded to inform both her teammates about Cable's message. By the time the sales clerk was finished with Ororo's gift- a long, incredibly supple leather duster to replace Gambit's well-worn and battle-torn jacket- the three were more than ready to depart.

Beaming with pleasure at the plump commission of the two women's purchases, the sales clerk watched the three leave the store, her curiosity piqued by the strange trio. Her attention was soon diverted by another customer needing her assistance, though, and after a few more seconds of speculation she gave them no more thought.


PART31

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