|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
"Betts!" Logan's knees hit the groud as he stretched to catch Psylocke's limp body before it hit the ground. "C'mon, darlin', it's all right. Wake up," he implored, praying to hear a response from the woman he held in his arms. Betsy's head lolling on his chest, he rose easily to place her, ever so gently, on one of the sofas. When the others swarmed around them a bit too closely he suppressed a protective snarl.
Kitty, recognizing his expression, pushed her way through the mass of people clustered near the couch, commanding in a clear, high voice "Step back! Give her some room, people!"
"Wot th' bloody 'ell was *that*?" Pete questioned plaintively as she led him away. "Is she all right? Do we need t' get 'er to a doctor, or somethin'?"
Ororo, still hovering near the sofa, shot him a sideways glance. "Hardly," she replied in a cutting tone "As well as her telepathy, she also has precognitive flashes, Mr. Wisdom. Sometimes they are more fierce than others- this is not an unusual reaction to such a vision. Elisabeth will be fine."
Pete's eyes widened in sudden comprehension. Massaging his chin thoughtfully, he nodded "Precog, eh? That'd explain it, then." 'An' that opens up a *whole* new can o' worms, too...' Suddenly all business, he directed several questions in rapid-fire order at Storm. "How precise are her visions? About how accurate is she? How often does she have 'em?" On the other side of the room, Domino tilted her head in mute interest.
"It has been some time since her last vision." Ororo answered snappishly, concerned for her old friend despite her earlier show of nonchalance. "As a matter of fact, I do not think she has had such a vision since she has been in this body..."
Domino interjected cooly "Wrong there, Storm. The last one was about two days ago- that's why she felt like she had to come on this crazy mission anyway. And you didn't answer all his questions- just how good are these visions?" 'And why the hell didn't I ask this before?' she chastised herself. 'You're gettin' soft, Dom. You should have thought of this already, pressed Betsy for more details about just *why* she had to come on this thing, not just accepted her word for it like a damn rookie.'
Storm's pale eyes narrowed to aquamarine slits, and in a slightly forced tone, she answered "Elisabeth's visions are fairly accurate for the most part, Domino, though she generally only sees temporal possibilities. They have been critical to the team's survival in the past." Remembering the Seige Perilous and its horrible aftermath, Ororo's expression darkened. "We can work to either ensure or avert what she sees, though the paths we must take to do so are not always ones we may have chosen otherwise-"
Cable snorted in quiet derision. Turning to Kitty, who stood nearest to him, he whispered sotto voce "Just what I flonquin' need- a lecture on playing with the timestream." He was rewarded by a wide grin that he couldn't help return. 'Nice kid,' he thought, distracted 'I can see why she and Rachel were so close. Wonder how in the hell she got stuck with Wisdom?'
When Ororo had finished, Domino turned to her long time partner. 'Nate- are you getting anything from Psylocke? Did she get a look at something they don't need to know about?'
Cable shook his head tightly. 'I don't know, Dom. Very strong emotion blocks out concious thought, and can be as good a shield as any mental technique I know of. Psylocke's a skilled telepath- with both her shields *and* the sheer impact what she was seeing, I didn't catch as much as a stray thought. Whatever it was, though...it scared her.'
Domino gave him the mental equivalent of a sharp kick in the ass. 'Very enlightening, Nate.' She paused, and sarcastically continued "Whatever it was scared her. The bruises on my arms from her clutching me during that little seizure didn't tell me that at all. Thanks so very much for clearing that up.' Sighing, she abruptly ended the link, keeping her own fears about what Betsy may have seen to herself. 'Just what was she so sorry about?' She wondered, afraid she already knew the answer.
Logan crouched down by Betsy's side, completely ignoring the chatter going on around him. Checking and rechecking her vitals, he noted 'Breathin's shallow, but stable. Pulse is steady, but fast as hell.' Rubbing her hands briskly, he was alarmed at the coolness of her skin. Staring softly at her slack features, he thought for the thousandth time 'Worthington's a damn fool. C'mon, darlin', wake up...'
Almost on cue, Betsy's eyes fluttered open. "Hey there," Logan's gruff features sagged in relief, his dark eyes glowing. "Y' gave us a little bit of a scare there f'r a minute."
Giving him a shaky smile, she propped one elbow on the soft cushions of the couch and swung her body around so she was sitting more or less upright. Blinking against the sudden head rush, she closed her eyes tightly and tried to focus on the dream-images she'd seen, but only a few stood out in any detail. Committing them to memory, she looked up to see six pairs of eyes trained on her and was amused to see all but Logan standing some distance apart.
Betsy's voice, raw with exhaustion, broke the leaden silence. "Enough of this- it doesn't take a telepath to figure out what you're circling around me like bloody vultures for." She paused for a moment, then raised an elegant hand to her throbbing temple. "Domino- may I have a word alone with you first?" The others exchanged worried glances, but no one moved.
Cable's shoulders tensed, but his objection was cut short by Betsy's weary 'Nathan, please. I promise you, you'll all find about about this soon, but she deserves to hear this first.'
Recognizing Domino's guarded expression and the dread in Betsy's mindvoice, Cable shook his head. 'I don't think so, Psylocke. I'm not letting her go through this alone again.'
Psylocke's eyes flashed, and this time her voice in his thoughts resonated more strongly. 'I don't recall giving you much of a choice, Cable.'
Before he could respond, her sentiments were echoed by another voice in his mind. Across the room, Domino leveled her own deadly violet stare at him, similar in intensity if a shade or two lighter than Betsy's almond gaze. Slipping into the conversation through their psilink, she calmly told him 'I don't need you to hold my hand- I'm a big girl, I can handle it.'
Sensing this was a private matter, Betsy delicately slipped out of Cable's mind. Cable didn't even pause 'Dammit, I *know* that, Dom. I just...' He paused, then sighed 'All right. Do it your way-' Allowing a bit of annoyance to slip into his tone, he snipped 'You always have, anyway. Just-' his voice softened, betraying a strange vulnerability 'Just don't keep me out this time. Let me know what's going on?'
She ran an absent hand through her hair, too tired to argue anymore. 'I promise, OK, Nate? Just let me get this thing done...'
While Domino and Cable conferred silently, Logan leaned down and murmured in Betsy's ear "We'll be right outside if y' need us." Squeezing her hand tightly, he released it then stood to address the room. "You all heard her," he rumbled. "Let's give th' ladies a minute or two alone."
The others looked properly dubious. Ororo, frowning, asked Betsy "You are sure?" 'I do not like this at all,' she mused 'This may be important to this mission, and does not need to be hoarded...'
Sensing her thoughts, Psylocke exhaled sharply. "We'll be just a moment," she favored them with a reassuring smile, deliberately turning up her natural telepath's charisma. After a few more moments discussion (aided in great part by Logan physically opening the door and making unsubtle sweeping motions with his arms) she was gratified to see them slowly file out of the room.
Cable was the the last to leave. Obviously the loser in their internal argument, he nonetheless stopped briefly beside Domino on his way out. Placing a gentle hand on her shoulder, he whispered softly "I'll be right out in the hall."
She swallowed tightly. "I know," she replied, and watching him leave, closing the door tightly behind him. Crossing the room in several long strides, she perched gingerly on the arm of the sofa opposite Betsy and bluntly asked "You've got me here, Psylocke. Now what did you see? What's going to happen down there?"
Betsy leaned back into the cushions, still feeling slightly faint. "Domino, you must understand- what I see are only *possibilities*. These are not certainties-"
Nodding curtly, Domino cut her off "I've been around Nate long enough to know about temporal possibilites, Betsy. I understand all that. Consider yourself disclaimed. Now, please..." Her voice was calm, but Betsy's practiced ear could hear the thin hint of desperation edging it. "Just what did you see?"
Betsy tucked a lock of purple hair behind her ear, considering "I suppose you have, at that. Very well." Opening her mind, she drew the other woman into a light link. Noting with clinical satisfaction how well the blister she and Jean had lanced 'Only a week ago? It seems far longer' had healed, Betsy joined with her. 'Is this comfortable?' she asked. 'At this level, I cannot read you, but you can see whatever I project into your mind.'
Domino, unfamiliar with any telepathic signature save Nathan's, squirmed a bit. 'Yeah, it's good enough. Let's get this over with.'
Steeling herself, Betsy slowly recalled the scenes she'd seen in her vision, unfurling the images in a steady stream of glimpses from possible futures, one after the other. When she was done, Betsy gently broke the link, wincing at the bitter backwash of the other woman's emotions. Domino stared squarely at the wall for several long moments, not trusting herself to speak.
"Betsy...I..." She paused a moment, her face impassive if a touch ashen. "Thank you for showing me this first." 'What does it mean? I recognized Tyler, but *who was that child?*' She took several deep, desperately ignoring the nausea that twisted her gut while her mind ran through the myriad possibilities that could result in the scenes Betsy'd shown her.
Psylocke politely pretended not to notice her distress, and when she'd calmed herself, continued "Don't thank me yet. I don't presume to know what this all means, but it does confirm what I've suspected all along- you know more about what's going on than you've been telling us."
Domino stiffened at the accusation, but Betsy halted her. "Believe me, I more than most understand the need for privacy. I don't blame you for it- but you must know that I have to share what I saw with the others, too. If something happened to one of them that I could have prevented by telling them of this-" She stopped shortly, remembering a time long ago during her days with STRIKE when that very thing had happened "I simply won't have that blood on my conscience." 'Again,' a voice buried deep in her subconcious taunted. She tried to ignore it.
Domino stared back at her. "Fine. Do what you've got to do. Just-" her facade cracked, and Betsy saw cold rage flash in her eyes "Just don't get in my way when I get down there, and we won't have a problem."
Slumping into the couch, Betsy murmured "I wouldn't dream of it. Now," She inclined her head in the direction of the door "Would you mind terribly letting the others in so we can finish this up? If Logan thinks about us any louder, even a non-psi like you'll be able to hear him worry."
Domino obliged her, carefully steadying her steps. 'All right, Dom,' she shook herself 'Get back into leader-mode. Never let the soldiers see you're upset.' Pasting a look of casual indifference on her face, she opened the door, meeting the curious gazes of the others huddled in the hallway with a wonderful facsimile of an amused smile. "Nothing like gettin' a half-time report before the game begins. Come on in."
Cable was first back into the room. "Excuse us," he muttered gruffly. Not waiting to see if anyone had heard him, he took Domino by the arm and pulled her into his bedroom and closed the door.
Storm, watching the two leave, felt her cheeks flush hotly. Brushing past her, Logan stormed into the room to walk back to Betsy's side. "How'd it go?" he asked quietly.
Betsy motioned Pete and Kitty closer. "Why don't I show you all?" She asked, her aristocratic voice thin with exhaustion. "A limited psilink would be far more effective than just describing it to you."
Pete took an involuntary step backwards. Kitty, recognizing his quickly disguised look of suspicion, frowned slightly. Pursing his lips, Pete wondered how to explain his reluctance. Kitty knew of the episode with Scratch, but she didn't yet know about another, more intimate and far more painful experience he'd had with another telepath of her acquaintance. 'Yeah, I know they're bloody handy t' have around, an' I ain't got a problem with telepathic speech, but linkin'- with a *stranger*- that's another thing altogether.'
Ororo lifted a slanted eyebrow. "That is a sound plan, Psylocke." In a voice of spun silver, she turned to Pete. "Oh, come now, Mr. Wisdom. This is an eminently practical idea- surely you have nothing to hide from us?"
Pete's eyes narrowed dangerously at the hidden challenge in her tone but Kitty defused the potentially explosive situation by a single soft whisper "Pete- it's all right. I trust Betsy completely."
Staring down into her shining eyes, Pete reluctantly nodded. "Go ahead, Braddock," he barked, still careful to keep some of his rudimentary shields intact. '*Partial* link or not, ain't no way they're gettin' a look at the crawlies in *my* head...'
When she'd made certain all had agreed, Betsy drew deeply from the last of her energy, took a deep breath and showed them.
Cable locked the door and looked down at Domino intently, feeling her suppressed emotions easily through their link. 'Maybe nobody else can tell it, girl, but you're scared to death,' the muscles in his jaw twitching uneasily at the realization.
With a flick of a telekinetic wrist, he turned on one of the lamps then sat down uneasily on a corner of the bed. "Dom," he whispered, voice husky with fear and pain, knowing that little else save what he feared most would provoke such a reaction from her. "Dom, he's back, isn't he? What Pete said was really true, we weren't wrong about all this?"
Lowering herself onto the bed, she rubbed her eyes tiredly. "Yeah, Nate, he is. I saw him in Betsy's futures..." The tremor in her voice belied her impassive expression, and he cupped his hand around hers gently. "Show me?"
Wishing with all her heart she could turn the simple request away, she knew she couldn't. He had as much of a right to know as she did, especially if Betsy was true to her word and told the others what she'd seen as well. 'Nate needs to see this in private, too,' she thought, pulse thudding at the prospect of showing him what she'd seen.
Her heart aching for him, for them both, she nodded, and their psi-link flared back on. She felt his familar royal blue thoughts mingle with her own, and the solidity, the security of that touch reassured her in a way that she couldn't describe with mere words alone. At his wordless nudging, she opened the memories of Betsy's vision to him. The dream-images passed much more easily through their solid, well-worn link than they did through Betsy's exhausted half-connection, but as each looked through the vision with the other's eyes, sharing each other's emotions, their visceral impact was doubled. Nathan stared blankly at her, grey-blue eyes round with horror. When, shuddering, he leaned into her, she surprised herself by not pushing him away. Needing the connection as desperately as he did, with a small cry she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him even closer to her, closing her eyes as his pain echoed her own, burying her face in his chest as they held each other.
When Cable and Domino emerged, both looking dry eyed and completely impassive, Logan sniffed suspciously. 'Good try,' he chuckled humorlessly, sensing their deeply concealed distress even through the super-charged aftermath of Betsy's link.
Remembering Betsy's vision, he stood to greet them, rasping "I ain't likin' this, I ain't likin' it at all, Neena."
She raised a dark eyebrow at Betsy. "You told them?" She didn't sound particularly surprised.
Psylocke nodded, the dark circles under her eyes looking even more pronounced "I showed them."
Domino shrugged, then returned her attention back to Logan. "You think *I* like it, old man? Life ain't always fair- you play the hand you're dealt. You taught me that." Keeping her posture erect, she looked around the room, head held high.
Looking every bit the confident leader, she addressed the team in a crisp voice "Nothing in the vision was bad enough to preclude our completing this mission, and nothing Betsy saw says it won't get done and every one of us won't make it out. It just might- and I reemphasize *might*- make it a bit tougher, but I'm more convinced than ever that it needs doing. The plan is still in effect. Here's what we're going to do."
Projecting every bit of haughty self-confidence she could muster, she outlined a revised plan that adjusted for what Betsy'd shown them. Nathan, realizing what she was doing, joined in, and between the two they fielded all of the potentially embarrassing and admittedly difficult questions that arose, occaisonally deferring to Pete, who immediately caught on.
She breathed a sigh of relief when it was done, comfortable in the fact that she'd given them enough information to keep them alive but not enough to betray her past, she grinned broadly and yawned, her whole body arching in a stretch. "All right. Briefing over."
"Thank God," Logan exhaled, a heart-felt exultation of release. "I'm about t' damn near starve."