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

32/?

DuAnn Cowart

 

Closing the door behind her, Domino surveyed the room cooly, trying her best to put her very private feelings aside and deal with the situation like a professional. Walking across the spacious room, she felt rather than saw the stares of the others trained at her. Plastering an expression of calm composure on her face, she took a great deal of comfort from the fact that her outward expression belied none of the fury she felt at having to explain the intensely personal situation to the others.

'It's going to be hard enough to tell Nathan about Tolliver... I don't...' The idea of spreading open her private pain for all to know and see -'Like a friggin' salad bar,' she winced- was completely and utterly repugnant to her. She'd spent most of her life maintaining her privacy, and now, if things went as Pete feared, everyone in this room would know her most private agony. Facing the bluntly curious gazes of everyone in the room, she nevertheless squared her shoulders against the burning embarrassment and walked over to the couch where Logan was sitting. She was a professional. This was a job. She could- no, she *would* do this. 'Keep tellin' yourself that, Dom,' she muttered to herself, 'But there's no way I'm gonna just spill my guts about everything...they'll learn what they need to for the mission, and that's all.' Beside her, Logan favored her with a reassuringly crooked smile, and she had to avert her eyes to maintain her composure. She couldn't bring herself to speak.

Across the room, Ororo and Betsy sat on either side of a long, elegant sofa. Ororo parted her lips to speak, but before any sound issued forth she felt the telepathic equivalent of an elbow in her ribs. 'What is the meaning of this, Elisabeth?' Storm, shocked, questioned Psylocke 'We must be briefed on the situation before we can continue.' 'That may be, Ororo,' Betsy answered, returning her attention to the fascinating interplay of emotions coming from the others 'But why don't we give her a few moments, hmmm?'

Cable pivoted sharply and resumed his pacing in front of the huge central window, fuming at Domino's silence. He'd thought that as soon as Domino opened the door that she'd tell him what happened, dammit, to either relieve his fears or realize them, but no... She just sat there, looking for all the world like she'd just had a pleasant afternoon stroll while he'd been in here ripping his soul apart worrying about her, thinking about whatever news Pete had, thinking about the still unsettled events of last week. His thoughts darkened- her obvious unwillingness to share the news, whatever it was, with him, with them, just added to his already dangerously high level of frustration and impotent anger, and finally he couldn't take it any more.

Unable to hold his peace any longer, his soft voice pierced the silence. "Just where the hell have you been, Domino?" he asked quietly, every word slicing through the air like daggers.

Domino's eyes narrowed, and it took every ounce of self-control she possessed to refrain from jumping up and telling him just what she thought about the whole situation. One glance at the others stopped that reflex, though. Beside her on the couch, Logan tensed, and she could see the shiny tips of his newly readamantiumed claws poking though the outlets on his hands. Though she appreciated the gesture, she gently placed a restraining hand on his arm. The last thing she needed was for Logan and Nate to get into yet another of their testosterone contests, especially when the news about Tolliver, the sorest spot of all between them, was revealed.

Ororo and Betsy, though...they looked like flip sides of the same coin. Ororo was leaning forward, unabashed curiosity at the situation coming out of every pore. Domino supressed her own growl, and quickly forced herself to look past the other woman to Betsy. At first glance, Psylocke's expression revealed nothing, but to Domino, highly skilled at reading body language, she appeared equally interested. 'At least she had the good manners to hide it,' Domino snorted, then returned her attention to Nathan, who was point-blank staring at her.

"Well?" He asked, his voice reverberating with command authority. His pale grey-blue eyes bored into her coldly, and she met his flinty gaze with her own icy violet stare. He didn't flinch at all, but she thought she heard a wispy chord of jealousy leach into her thoughts. "What do you have to report?" He looked like a general demanding a status report from an underling.

'That's it,' she decided, her black mood flaring into dangerous red. Tiny ruby sparkles framed her vision, and she had to bite her lip to contain the stream of obscenities that wanted to pour from her lips. She contented herself with sending an acid thought through their psi-link. 'You sonuvabitch. I cannot take this shit any more. I am not in the *mood* for this today, and there's no way in hell I'm making this thing into a bloody bed time story for the gossip mill at the mansion. I'm not saying anything until they get out of here.' She'd intended to try to break the news about Tolliver with a modicum of sensitivity, but Nate had pushed her far past that point now.

She was rewarded with his mental flinch and, though his facial expression didn't change, she thought she saw the coldness in his eyes thaw slightly. By that point, she really didn't care. Without taking her eyes off Cable, she addressed the room, her voice amazingly calm. "I believe Nathan and I have a few things to discuss, if you all don't mind."

Logan, sitting beside her, rumbled his approval. 'Good girl, Neena,' he thought. 'Ain't none o' our damn business. Tell us what you want to later.' Wolverine's keen senses, almost as good as telepathy in determining emotional states, were almost reeling at the swirling maelstorm of emotion-laden scents emanating from everyone in the room. Anger, jealousy, frustration, worry- they'd blended into a heady mix that had kicked his own dark thoughts into overdrive. Whatever it was between Domino and Cable wasn't good, wasn't good at all, and he for one wanted to get out of the way and let them sort it out between themselves. He knew he was dangerously protective of his women friends, and didn't want to test the tenuous new tolerance between himself and the elder younger Summers. "Allright, darlin'," he agreed amiably, rising up from the couch. "You just let us know when everything gets sorted out- we'll be right next door." He hovered near the sofa, waiting for her to acknowledge his words.

Domino didn't take her eyes off Cable, but her expression did soften slightly at Logan's understanding. "Thanks, old man," she whispered gratefully. Nodding, he walked across the room to the door to the hallway, shooting Cable an openly poisonous look as he passed. Cable didn't even look up at him, his pale blue-grey eyes locked in a furious battle of wills with his partner.

Betsy rose smoothly to join him. "Certainly, Domino. Simply let us know when you're ready."

Storm, still seated on the sofa, didn't move. "You two go ahead," she waved her hand negligently, in command mode. "I need to hear this briefing."

Taking a deep breath, Domino ventured a terse thought through her shared psi-link with Cable. 'You want to handle this or should I?' she sent, and couldn't help a small rush of satisfaction when Cable, flustered, broke eye contact first. 'Good,' she thought grimly, 'Hypocritical bastard.'

Betsy, aware of the delicate situation, turned to Logan beside her. 'Play along with me,' she sent, rapidly outlining her plan to him. He grinned at the simplicity of it. 'You got it, Betts.'

Cable, his face set, took a deep breath to ask Storm to leave. Before he could speak, though, Betsy strode over to her teammate and friend and whispered something in her ear. Ororo's eyes widened in surprise, and she rose swiftly in one smooth motion, heading towards the door with fluid grace.

"Never mind, Nathan" she said abstractedly over her shoulder as she headed towards the door. "I do expect a full briefing when I return...." Before Cable could answer, she was gone, Logan walking behind her with a wide grin on his face.

Nathan stood speechless for a moment, and then turned to Psylocke. "What the hell did you just tell her?" he asked in awed gratitude. Maybe Betsy wasn't as big of a bitch as he had thought.

Betsy gave him a smug smile before she turned to leave the room. "Oh, I lied to her," she told him blithely. "Told her I sensed Kitty and Pete in the lobby. We'll play if off when we get down there, say we must have missed them."

Domino, still seated on the plush couch, chuckled throatily. "Good job, Psylocke," she smiled, the first genuine one since she'd left the Crown.

"Thought you'd like that one," Betsy's lips twitched, and she turned to follow her teammates out of the room. She caught Nathan's gaze before she stepped completely out of the door. "That's two you owe me," she whispered, and then she was gone.

They were finally alone. Cable shut the door, and locked it for good measure. Leaning his forehead against the cool door, he stood like that a moment, gathering his strength. Finally, he turned to face Domino, and the look on her face made him almost wish he hadn't.


PART33

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