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Facing Up


Pain. Pain in the darkness.

What else would he ever wake up to? He ought to be used to it by now.

It had been easier to deal with when he'd also woken up to a usually sympathetic pale-skinned angel. But she was gone. He hadn't been there for her, she'd gone to X-Force, stayed with them because he'd driven her away. He hadn't been able to tell her what she wanted to hear.

But he'd beaten Apocalypse now--with help. He vaguely hoped that she was going to forgive him for stealing her power for a while and knocking her unconscious in the process. Then again, in order for her to kick his ass, Domino would have to come to him. Would be worth it.

At that point, he tried to move. He regretted the action half a moment later. *Maybe--* he reflected *I should have listened to Reyes when she bitched at me about how she didn't care if I was Superman, God and Captain Planet all rolled into one, I should still be under observation and drugged.*


She was here already?!? And he was still breathing?

*It's more fun beating people to death when they're awake to feel it.* Damn. He had a point there. Why did he have to think of that? "Dom?" His voice sounded so weak... and there was movement by his hand, and silky-soft fingertips trailed down the side of his face, that touch smoothing away some of the pain in his mind, almost tickling his skin.

"Who else would catch the first plane they could to New York just to see your sorry ass?"

"Didn't think...even you would." Could it really be her? Maybe this was just another fever-crazed dream, even if it was more realistic and interesting than the one of Apocalypse in a ballerina costume, dancing to Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes.

"Right. I pass out on the west coast, and next minute find myself in Egypt, in your mind, see you kick tall, ugly and blue-lipped to death, and I'm not meant to look for you? Even if you are an utter moron and didn't warn me." Her voice was warm, caring... didn't sound at all as if she was planning on killing him.

"'m sorry."

"It's okay."

Seemed like she wasn't mad at him at all. Like she understood...

Like she understood everything that had happened, like she understood why he hadn't told her what was happening, like she was content to just be with him. If she...if she was really there, if she wasn't just a dream.

"It's...dark. Why...?"

"Night-time. You know, this side of the earth facing away from the sun and all."

"Very...funny. Why can't I see you?"

"Because it's dark." She rose from the bedside, carefully pried her fingers from his over-tight grasp, slipped away. Was she--

She was at the curtains, drawing one back, just enough to let the pale, silvery light of the half-moon outside into the room. She wasn't leaving, wasn't fading away as the light touched her. She was making her way back to him and blinking at the sudden change in the light quality.

"You're...really here."

"I thought we'd already established that, hmm?" she smiled, a little repentantly. "Sorry. Shouldn't tease."

"Forgiven. This once." He could forgive her anything. She was here, she'd come to him when he had no right to expect her, hadn't dared believe she'd be here, like this, ignoring what they'd said the last few times they'd seen each other.

"Thank you." she sighed, noticing some things anew in the light... the tears in his eyes, that he'd blame on the light if she asked, the way that his gaze only followed her, not noticing or wanting to notice anything else, the lines that were so deeply etched on his face in this half-light, lines that she could reach out and brush away if she wanted to.

She did--oh, how she did. Wanted to hold him close, wanted to block out the world. He'd finished his damned mission. Apocalypse was dead, she'd seen it happen. He could be hers now, they could have some them time without Blaquesmith intruding at the worst possible moment and messing with her memory, without him having to disappear for 'business', without him returning a day later or so and being so hurt inside, with an ache that she could never quite heal for him.

He could be hers. She could be with him. With him always...

*Idiot. That's always assuming that he wants to be yours.* It was entirely too possible that he'd tell her to get lost. Not so likely, considering what she'd seen and heard during the last fight before waking up, but possible. Did he know she had been there? Did it make any difference?

"What are you thinking about?" he whispered quietly. He could have just looked in her mind, he would have known exactly what she was thinking. But he trusted her. If she didn't want to tell him, he would accept that.

She trusted him. More than she'd ever trusted any man alive, she trusted him.


She could prove that trust, to him, to herself.

"I was just..."

She could let him know what she had been longing to tell him for years.

"I was thinking..."

Place her cards on the table, face-up. Let him see, let him know.

"About us."


"There--is an us, isn't there?" She was foolish... so foolish, to come here. She had thought everything would be all right when she arrived. When that doctor had caught her sneaking in, not trying to stop her after she had explained that she was looking for Nathan, to beat some sense into him. When she had found Nathan curled up in bed, the covers firmly pulled over his head, but he'd reached out a hand for hers all the same, then hadn't moved for another twelve hours.

"Unless you object."

"No objections." That....wasn't enough. She needed to tell more. Needed to tell him about... "Egypt, Nathan. You were fighting Apocalypse. I...saw it."

He raised himself up on one elbow, ignoring the protests of pain from the flesh part of his body, "Took your powers. Sorry."

"You...took a lot more than that, babe. I saw the fight. The whole fight." Her fingers interlaced with his, she raised his hand to her cheek, amethyst eyes shining. "You did well. My brave, courageous, idiotic lover."

"My most endearing qualities." A hesitant, hopeful grin appeared for a moment before fading again, before he became serious. "You...were there. I couldn't have done it without you. Your luck kept me alive during that fight. And your faith in me, that I would succeed. That I'd live through it."

"Hey, you know if you hadn't, I'd have kicked your ass."

"I know." He'd half-thought that the vision of loveliness in the moonlight here would kill him anyway, but apparently not. Instead she was opening up to him, more than he'd ever thought she would.

"Remember that talk we had--oh, a long time ago...when we were living here. When you'd just escaped Xavier and you asked me if I had any dreams? If I ever thought I'd get there? And I told you that I didn't have dreams, it wasn't my style?"

"I remember." They had escaped up to the roof for some privacy, since few people had the grace or the guts to follow, and he had tried to subtly find out more about her. "How could I forget? Almost getting pitched off the roof was such a--memorable event."

"I said I was sorry." the faintest hint of moonlight-dim color tinted her face as she shifted her gaze for a moment, only looking back to him when she could control her guilty look. "I lied. Not about the being sorry, about the dreams."

#You don't have to tell me if you don't want to.#

"I need to. Owe you this much. Shh." She shifted closer, until she was sitting on the very edge of her seat, kissing his cheek so gently. "I don't know exactly what my dream is. It doesn't matter, I'll find out eventually. But I know, when I look in your eyes... I know that everything's going to be all right. That I'll have time to figure out what I want, as long as I'm with you."

He could feel the first tear escape now, trickling slowly away. She was so close; his Domino, the one woman in the world that he would do anything for. The one woman in the world who would never ask anything he couldn't do, they couldn't do together. The only one who could stop the pain, the only one he wanted to be with.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to--Nathan, don't--please..."

"Dom...do you know how long I've waited for this moment?"

"No. Please don't name an exact amount of time, you'll just make us both feel old."

She was teasing him. Only teasing him. "A long time, then."

"I know. I love you."

"I love you too. Please come to bed?"

She couldn't help but chuckle at that. The wording, his tone, the pleading look...

But he had a reason for it. He wanted her close, where he could touch her, where he could wake up and know instantly that it wasn't a dream. Where he could be sure that she had meant everything she'd said.

She'd meant it.

No going back, even though he'd let her. She didn't want to. She didn't have to. She could stay forever with him.

After all, it wasn't as if Nathan was going to object very strongly.

"Let go of my hand for a minute?"

He released her reluctantly, watching as she stepped away enough to find a clear space. Continued watching as she shifted ever so slightly, jeans slipping to the floor unheeded and shirt being discarded in less than a moment. "You look...very nice..."

"Thank you." He had moved back for her, was holding the comforter back so she could slip into bed. *Ever the gentleman...* she mused, snuggling close to him.

#But of course, my Lady Luck.#

No. She very much doubted Nathan would object at all.


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