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


Though he'd protested, she returned home that night after dinner. He'd driven her to her car, still parked near the bar where they'd met again. After promising to call him, she drove home. She was exhausted, and her head still hurt. She shook her head- somehow fighting all day and all night wasn't as tiring as pretending to be 'normal' for a day.

About fifteen miles from the mansion, she tilted the rear-view mirror toward her face and opened the glove compartment. She took out a tiny vial of liquid, pouring some on her fingers. A few seconds after she gingerly applied it to the skin around her left eye, the 'skin' puckered and bubbled slightly. Keeping one eye on the road as she drove, she began delicately picking at the area, skillfully pulling off a single opaque sheet of pale latex.

She glanced at her reflection again and nodded in satisfation. There was now a perfect oval of black skin surrounding her left eye. She readjusted the mirror and turned down Graymalkin Lane. She looked down at the latex in her hand and smiled. She'd been using it for several years now and barely even noticed it anymore, much like the contact lenses she sometimes wore to disguise her brilliant violet eyes. Guaranteed not to come off for at least seventy-two hours without the accompanying removal solution, even under the harshest conditions, the 'makeup' matched her albino complexion perfectly and was absolutely undetectable. 'It'd better be,' she snorted 'I pay enough for it'. It was a worthwhile expense, she knew. She had undeniably distinct features, and in a business where identification meant exposure she couldn't always afford to go au natural. She tossed the latex into a bag to be disposed of later, and pulled down the driveway to the mansion.

She walked up to her room quickly, hoping to avoid contact. She had too much to think about to manage casual conversation just then, or worse yet, run into Nathan. She managed to get to her room undetected, and closed the door with a sigh of relief. Crossing the room quickly, she lay on her bed and threw an arm over her eyes. She kicked her shoes off and lay there quietly a while, then crawled under the covers and fell into an exhausted slumber.

Nathan sat alone by the shore of the lake. His entire day had been absolutely horrible, just a joke. Besides the morning debacle with his team, not to mention his *lovely* lunch, he'd had a fight with his father and had very nearly moved the team out of the mansion. Only the knowledge that X-Force needed the training facilities and protection the mansion afforded had kept him from gathering up the team and leaving immediately. Cyclops had later apologized, but the apology had seemed rather oily. A quick mindscan proved him right, but Jean caught him. She then lectured him on privacy and ethics, all familiar arguments. He had in the past considered both luxuries that he couldn't afford, but now had to concede their worth. He didn't mind breaking them in battle, but was slightly ashamed he'd slipped so easily into old habits, especially with his father.

Then Jean had surprised him. In a much gentler tone she had told him "Your personal life is your business, but you really need to work on your shielding. It's rude to broadcast such personal emotions and sensations at the intensity you did last night". 'Yeah, right,' he thought. 'Like we all don't know whenever she and Scott get creative'. The worst part was, he hadn't even done anything. *She* had, and he'd been trying his damndest not to think about it all day. He avoided both teams at dinner, opting instead to go for a run, hoping to tire himself out so he didn't have to think. He'd wound up on the far side of the lake and sat down, exhausted in mind if not in body. He looked over the lake, considering his options.

'Dom,' he thought regretfully 'have we drifted that far apart? She was the only bright spot in my life for years, and now that I'm finally finding myself it seems like I'm losing her'. He telekinetically picked up a nearby twig and snapped it, closing his eyes against the residual pain still plaguing him. He shook his head.

'I don't know how this happened.' An image of Ororo laughing alongside him flashed through his mind. 'Ororo? But Dom and I have been too close for too long, shared too much, to let anything like someone else come between us'. His eyes widened and he remembered the hurt and rejection he'd felt after he'd realized just what had happened last night. He closed his eyes. "Damn," he whispered.

'Still...Dom and I have been so much more than lovers. Eighteen years of friendship and a psi-link should prove that. For so long, she was the only one I trusted...'. Images of the times spent with Vanessa masquerading as Domino flew through his mind, but he shook his head quickly. He didn't even want to *consider* that old betrayal. All that time had done was intensify his feelings for her, but she hadn't seemingly shared them.'Had she? I don't know...as close as we are it's so hard to tell with her'. After he'd rescued her from Tolliver- 'No, Tyler,' he corrected himself bitterly, she'd disappeared, thinking him dead. She'd fulfilled her promise to him, though, had reunited the Wild Pack to try to find X-Force. Later, they'd rejoined. "You called, I came," she'd said to him, and that had said it all.

He thought about the last few weeks- they'd hardly talked at all since she returned from her trip to Brazil. He'd been so busy, and everytime he had a few moments it seemed Ororo or the team had claimed his time. He'd trusted her to take care of herself, and obviously, he thought wryly, she had.

His technorganicly enhanced hearing detected the sound of a familiar engine. He looked across the grounds and saw her car come up the driveway and go around to park in the back. He inhaled sharply in relief. 'At least she came back,' he thought, 'this time'.