Okay, how to explain this....

You can call this the story with two mothers and one nagging aunt. You see, about four months ago I (BJ) got about two paragraphs worth of an idea for a Domino-based dialogue, but it jumped off a cliff immediately after those two paragraphs and thus was delegated to my 'someday' pile. (That's another word for the trash heap, or at least that's USUALLY what it means.) Luckily in this case, this snippet of a scene got another look - our brave and noble Aunt Alicia dared me to write a DOMINO voiced monologue for once and I dug back out the file, stretched it out to a page, and while drowned in Griplines and other such stuff, started ignoring it again.

Who ever knew Lynxie would decide to call me on the neglect? But she did. And when I sent it to her in desperation for ideas she gave me something better: a writing partner with the same take on this project as me. :-) It was an interesting experience for both of us, believe me...but hopefully our little 'darling' is ready to meets the world.

And on that note....

Disclaimer: All standard disclaimers apply. This piece is rated at a strong PG-13 for language and adult themes at present. Don't expect mush guys, I'm warning you now. Go somewhere else if you want one of our more light hearted pieces.

Blue Lines: Early Morning


It's not gonna work anymore.

Oh, who am I kidding...it hasn't worked for a *long* time. And in hindsight, I'm beginning to doubt it ever really did. Self-denial may be a special gift with Nate and I - our greatest mutually shared talent in fact, but I've never been so good at it that I can continue turning a blind eye to the truth once I've labeled and admitted it in my own head.

He's asleep on the bed right now; passed out in pure exhaustion. And he should be - after how late we were up last night. They say sex goes with age? Well excuse me, Mr. Surveyor, but I'd like to introduce a statistical anomaly...

Heaven forbid Nathan Dayspring follow *any* pattern of accepted behavior.

He looks so blasted *cute* lying there, too. And yes, I really did use that term. I don't care how unlikely you think it sounds in conjunction with his name. See, what you'll never know in the outside world, is that the man's a real cuddler at heart. He's addicted to touch, and in light of my absence has actually latched onto a pillow, pulling it tight against his chest - like a slightly bewildered four year old who's lost his favorite teddy bear.

'Tactily Inclined.' What a nice psychological term. Of course it's just a fancy-shmancy way of saying he's got a skin thing. Oh stop looking at me that way - of course you haven't seen that side of him; he's a soldier. His reputation's got to be as big as his weaponry - no pun intended - so the only thing he'd ever let you see him curl up beside would be his rifle. You gotta close the shades in the foxhole to meet that part of the man.

It surprised me, actually; that first time. The attention he pays to the physical connection beyond the obvious. Oh, he's like any man in the big stuff...likes all the same parts and previews. It was the afterwards that kind of caught me off guard, though - the way he seemed so reluctant to break for his own room. Most guys I've known may not mind if you invite them to stay and sleep - but I've met very few who were so big on post-coital snuggling that they actually seemed to crave it. He's quite possibly the first man I've ever encountered who doesn't think an offered pillow is a demand. Or even more refreshingly, an open-ended invitation.

Maybe it's partially the whole telepath thing - I can't fairly state one way or another. See, until now I've only gotten this close to *this* telepath, so I couldn't really venture a sound opinion onthe group as a whole. Still, some telepaths I've known or at least known of have had a... well Logan calls it a touch-based fixation. Obsession would be politically incorrect: not that that means much to either of us at this point. Either way, for the sake of politeness I'll be generous and call it a compulsion for human 'contact'.

Bottom line is that they need the physical input to keep them functioning.

Huh? Well, I'm not actually sure why that's the case. Perhaps they need it to sort of - balance themselves with reality, or something. What with all the mental stuff, maybe if they don't havethe other end of the spectrum they get repressed and go kinda nuts. Could explain a few things. Heck it could explain a LOT of things if you're honest. Especially if you're discussing borderline neurotic, withdrawn, obsessive, normally self-absorbed, irritating and utterly *male* telepaths like the one sleeping ten feet away from me.

But that's kinda a redundancy, isn't it? Saying 'irritating male' is like saying 'dangerous explosive.' You know what they are, and you gotta expect what they are most of the time gonna be. Oh, existence is already uncontrollable, I know - but there's at least a few things I can be sure of in the short term. On that list is the fact that explosives are dangerous, Nate's irritating, I'm emotionally distan...repressed. Fine. Say it however you like. That's still just how it is, no matter how you phrase it. And you can stop laughing if you ever expect to hear this type of rap session again. That's just the facts you're gonna have to accept when dealing with 'Mr. Congeniality' and me.

I...enjoyed it too. The snuggling. I haven't wanted that with many other men. Yeah - I guess that's not exactly a big surprise to figure out, so I'll give you that much for free. What? He's nice and warm...even if he tends to end up taking over the whole mattress. And at least he stops snoring if you jab him hard enough times. Believe me, kiddo, after a while you learn what's worth being picky about.

Have I told him any of this? ...Are you *crazy?* I can't even tell him when I wanted to sleep with him, most of the time. For people repressed as us, even initiation can be a nightmare. If we end up together for a evening that didn't start off with either a close call, enough drinks tolower our inhibitions beyond the point of no return or enough adrenaline and rampant hormones that we're practically ripping each other's clothes off after a minute - technically, yes, sometimes we are in so much of a rush that clothing does end up in more pieces than it should - or unless we're in one of those dark times when one of us *needs* the comfort so much that the other can almost feel their pain...then us getting together for a while means the long, drawn-out process of one of us making a tenuous half-gesture of offering, just enough that we understand the intent and meaning, but not so blatantly that the other can't pretend to ignore it if we don't want...and then maybe a hesitantly given reply.

So it's anything but casual...which is really the problem with it all, I suppose. See, we used to know exactly what we expected from these times. For us, sex started out safe: as fun and generally harmless attraction. When we were together, we could let go - forget for a short while all the gore and death, all the killing and shady dealings that the 'Pack saw. Of course, most people *we* killed deserved it, or knew the risks of getting in our way at the least... What? You really think we were the only killers out there? I'm sorry kid, but that's naïve.

And naïveté is only a cute trait for the first few years or so.

Lately, though, something's been changing between us. I don't know where we're going - I don'tknow where we *are.* He confuses me now. He ALWAYS did, true, but now even moreso than usual. It's as annoying as hell too...sometimes I just want to reach out and smack him. Hmmph. He'd probably interpret that as me meaning that we should try something kinky... No, he's not really *that* insensitive. It was a joke. A bad one, maybe, but oh well - it's just part of my 'charm.'

I'm not exactly suited for the title of 'role model' am I?

Where's all this going? Absolutely nowhere. Don't need or want it to - so there. What, you thought this was some sort of confessional? - well I'm the one wearing black, so you're out of luck, Buddy. By the way, you can drop that eyebrow. Though come to think of it, that expression couldn't hurt much in the long run. I mean, I already can tell you have the attitude down and the rest is kinda out of your hands.

Really makes one appreciate the blessings of other people's genepools, doesn't it?

Mmmm...he appreciates me, I think. He never makes me feel less than welcome in his bed. But then, he's a man - I don't think he'd wanna do anything that could make me stay away. I do have my charms, I guess. Very few people I wanna share them with - or even let 'em know they exist- but they're there. I guess he gets a kick out of the challenge...and I'm that much at least. In a sense, that's my main role in this blasted game.

So why am I drawn to him, you ask, if that's all there is to it? Why do I still end up in bed with him when it frustrates me so much? Well, I enjoy it...and he's...good. Our times together are fun...not to mention cathartic. I can't help that little involuntary shiver I get at the thought of last night: abstinence definitely makes the heart grow fonder. It's been what, almost a month? Yeah at least that long - blasted never-ending business. I guess that's actually why I'm in this mess. If I'd waited another few days, I'd have been a whole lot more enlightened...

If I hadn't allowed myself to get so distracted I'd have known not to come.

He's not selfish, you know. Far from it, at least where the bedroom is concerned. Interesting, really...considering what it says about his nature. Even when he wants...when we're not thinking, just *acting* - doing what our bodies are telling us and not using our brains in the slightest, he's still careful of what's happening - determined to ensure that it's as much for me as it is for him. That touch-fixation has some NICE repercussions when we've locked the doors and drawn the shades. Of course, at the beginning I found the whole thing just a little bit creepy.

And something else... Nate's always been gentle with me. Doesn't really go with his projected self-image, does it? I think he makes allowances; though thankfully he's always done so subtly. Any other situation I'd get pissed off over that type of behavior. This, though, I'm willing to let slide as a part of his make-up. What a concession, right? Simple. Let the man be a nice guy.

You'd think it would be a easy concept, for anyone else in this world.

He always understood that - or at least he seemed to. Lately...? That's another story. The physical side of it, yes...that's all I ever intended it to be. But now more and more there's moments like this one - or fights like the one that split us up and brought us back together so erratically. All the emotional garbage is destroying a sanctuary...when I'm already so short on them. And the worst of it is all this new 'relationship' stuff is making us ouright *sloppy.*

If it were working, you wouldn't be here. That's as coldly honest as I'm gonna sink. I'm not blaming you, try and understand...hell, you're the one person involved I can't bring myself to cuss out. It's just you got caught up with this because of circumstance, and tonight you were the other person awake.

Just goes to show, the insomniacs always get stuck with the nut-jobs, don't they?

What do I want? Does it matter all that much? Well sure it does, but I mean - it's not just up to me. And even if it was, I doubt I'd do anything breathtakingly drastic. Although...just this once, I wonder what would happen if I woke him, if I told him everything, if I... yeah, *right.* When pigs sprout wings and take to the sky...or when Sam Guthrie takes up with the Hell's Angels. As if I could ever - this is already hard enough as it is. And no matter how much the optimists try and say otherwise, trying to make more out of it wouldn't be any easier. Heck, if I thought it would really help, I'd have told him I loved him a good fifteen years ago. I mean, it's not like I didn't realize it on the second day in.

What do you mean you can't believe I just said that? Yes, of *course* I know that I'm in love with him. You were idiotic enough to think I didn't; I'm emotionally repressed, yes, but not totally *stupid.* The emotion may leave me close to nausea sometimes...and heaven help me most days I don't have the faintest idea how to deal with it in the practical sense, but if it weren't love do you really think I would still be here after this long? If it were something less by now I'd have found a way to get rid of it. Like I'd really put myself through this sort of stress willingly.

EXAGGERATING?! Oh yeah, uh-huh, right - I just adore feeling permanently off-balance and unsure of myself whenever I'm around my best friend. Combat situations are different - they don't count. I don't feel like that during a fight. I'd be pretty damn useless if I did, wouldn't I? It's just common sense to stay compartmentalized in this business. You fight with your brain and your instincts and you didn't let your heart anywhere near it unless you're asking for a suicide run.

I'm smart enough to know *that* much at least.

Unless one of us gets hurt. Then I get the mental equivalent of a slap in the face; reminding me that no matter what we seem, we're all too mortal - that we can die - that he could just disappear before we've resolved anything. Not the most appealing thought, is it? Or *I* could die - that's not a fun notion either. Though knowing my luck, I'd be forced to come back and haunt him until we finally came to terms with it anyway. Logan would probably make a comment about galactic justice somewhere in here.

So I love him. I think he feels the same. I'm sure...almost sure...he's gotta care. That much anyone with half a clue could tell: I mean why else would he've been willing to put up with me an' my oft-neurotic condition for so damn long? Thing is, that doesn't make all that much difference to the probable fate of our relationship; knowing that we're both idiotic enough to put up with each other at this point doesn't promise that some day one of us won't actually grow a brain and finally look up the meaning of the words 'massively dysfunctional' in the dictionary.

Would I be the first one to leave, if it came down to that? Or at least be the one to actually bring up the subject? I never thought so before now - I just don't know how I'd cope if he wasn't...*there.* If I didn't know he'd come back, how would I react - apart from badly? Maybe it's never been perfect between us, but it's certainly just as unperfect without him around. And being afraid of being in love is better than being not in love at all.

No, we're not talking about sheer dependence. You oughtta have a better grip on me than that. It probably wouldn't kill me to be by myself...but the bad dreams...the bad memories, they'd get out of hand pretty quick. Hell, being totally honest? They'd take over. If he wasn't there to force me to get back up - to help me lick my wounds and pull myself together again after I end up getting hurt or hurting myself - to help me deal with the really bad trips down neurosis lane at the worst times, when I'm falling apart... Well, things'd end up getting messy. Or messier thanthey already are. It's not that I can't keep breathing without him. It's just the air gets a lot less clarifying...

Co-dependent relationship in that respect? Probably a little bit. Not being cursed with mindreading, I can't help Nate nearly as much as he helps me. Sometimes it rankles - when I'm feeling petty. When I feel insignificant - And when I'm just worried about how he's doing. Maybe I smother him too much. Though of course if you ever reveal that I said that you *will* die. I'm not *trying* to be nice here. I'm a merc, I don't do nice, I do realistic. Besides, there's not a person out there who needs MORE looking after.

Still, I guess I've just learned to read him other ways. Probably not as effectively and certainly not as often as he does for me though. With him it's almost easy, I suspect - personally I have this nasty fear that somewhere in that twisted mind of his he's come up with a color code of emotions that somehow transmute themselves into my forehead as my moods change. Creepy as heck too...having someone who understands your brain that well. And of course he'll never admit it OUTRIGHT. Blasted self-righteous man: do you know how hard it can be to pull one over on an already observant telepath?

Now take that knowledge and multiply about a hundred times.

With me, watch-dogging is not as graspable; you learn body language - come to understand the subtle habits and postures that go with various scenarios. Watch how much he eats and what he eats to see if that ulcer he keeps denying he has is flaring up. You keep count of the advil in the bathroom so you know when he's sneaking into the over-dose society instead of going down to the ER for X-Rays like you told him to in the first place. Though heaven forbid he should actually *do something that rational...*

What?! I've already told you I love him...have for almost two decades. Do you really think we could have gone that long together without me learning at least a few things about him? Just because I said he probably reads me better than I read him doesn't mean I can't read him better than just about anyone else in the world. Heck that's probably the reason I'm sitting here tonight, trying to figure out how I already managed a hangover without picking up so much as a coughdrop. Because I *do* know quite a few things about him...and number one on that list is that henever tells lies in his sleep.

"Tyler, I'm sorry." It was one of the few phrases I could distinguish clearly among a mountain of gobbly-gook that he otherwise refers to as Askani. I'd been perfectly content at the time; thoroughly enjoying the portable heater otherwise known as Nathan Dayspring after he reached his drop off point. I was relaxed, and half unconscious myself - cuddled with Nate in one of the standard positions. For those who wonder what that means, it's the half-automatic spooning position we always end up with when we share the same bed for a night. Either way, all was well. The world was uncharacteristically QUIET.

And then he nearly squeezed the life out of me.

No, of course not intentionally. I just told you he was still asleep. He was having a dream - having one of *those* dreams. Oh, of course you wouldn't have any idea what I'm talking about: they're his subconscious version of 'acting up...' When they hit, his whole body seizes up - he convulses like a shivering infant and sweats so bad the whole bed may as well be drenched in water. He's all but impossible to comfort at those moments and completely hopeless to wake up.

Did I mention that during these times he also babbles like a hysterical child?

'Course he never remembers any of it in the morning - or at least he claims that's the case. I'd take bets as to truth of that kind of response, but naturally he's not polite enough to speak English during these little excursions into phantom land. Oh no, like any good time-traveler, he gets to launch into his beloved *mother tongue* - you know, the one that I can only speak in to the point of saying "You can call me Domino" and "Where in the heck did Nathan go to, dammit?!" It's like trying to decipher Japanese...with the added advantage of him speaking at mach 10...

Needless to say the tone and the occasional use of decipherable names are the only thing I've got left going for me.

So he was guilting over his son. That's as simple as it sounded. He said the name and then continued to bawl like a baby. I don't really know the specifics of what he is saying, nor do I need to - I know his list of perceived self-crimes is longer than any legal tribunal could come up with. And as for the particular subject - I may not be all that affectionate towards my makeshift-stepson...we both know I'm *glad* he's not around any longer...but even I understand in the most basic terms what drives this personal flagellation on the subject: Tolliver's darker, more megalomaniacal days aside, I do get that he was Nathan's only child...his last tie to Aliya.

Besides, though he always tried to hide it, Nate's got the heart and soul of a father.

Maybe it wasn't even really the phrasing. He has these parental-regret dreams at least once a month. And that's not to mention the currant proximity issue that we're facing. See, Nathan naturally always gets the worst around the time of Tyler's death...and he went to Kentucky to see the grave in private just yesterday. I knew the dammed terrors were most likely coming: in fact,that was the very reason I'd come to meet him and haul him off to a safe-house for a while. Nathan will never admit how much it takes out of him, but I know very well that he'll either throw himself into work or get dragged back into it if he's not stopped. The man is exhausted with all the never-ending garbage of the past few months. He needed a vacation desperately or the grief would drag itself out for weeks while he avoid it.

So as you see, it wasn't so much that I missed him...though certainly that was true that I did. I'd come for one real reason, though; to do some loving interfering.

He seemed pretty well off when I found him, though. Surprised me how up and positive he was actually acting. We went out for dinner after we left the Guthrie farm, and just talked about various facets of nothing for several long hours. He was even upbeat enough to make snide comments about me not finishing my steak...which somehow didn't appeal to me as rare as I'd ordered it. Of course, he took the same fact as license to steal it off my plate rather than order more food of his own. Again I feel the need to state concern over how I am now finding amusement in the things that I should rightfully find annoying.

These erratic emotions are definitely not a flattering side of me.

Eventually we left and found a motel...and not a bad one, while we're at it. I guess pure luck had it the Hilton was the closest place to the restaurant. I won't fill you in on how we passed the intervening time...you're perfectly capable of finding and nourishing your own gutter. Needless to say it all seemed okay...at least until around three when I woke up.

He was in mid dream at this point, and I was feeling...well...just not right.

I can't say quite what drove the point home. Maybe it was the aforementioned bear-hug. As I already admitted, I'd had similar experiences before but it was probably the particular connective words and the grip together that turned the light on for me. I realized my breasts were sore under his enveloping embrace, and that they had been so for a long and unlablable while. Then his hand tightened on my belly and I *felt* it: the combination of nausea and undisciplined psi-link.

I'm surprised I managed to get out of his arms before I finally threw up.

I don't know whether I should blame you for that trip to the toilet or not, kid. It'd be a suspicious time to suddenly develop morning sickness. Besides, this felt more like shock-induced body reaction than like woman-in-first-trimester. It's only now as I say this I'm starting to see the other signs - and getting mad at myself for not seeing them sooner.

God help us all, I think my life was just officially declared a mess.

How in the heck did this HAPPEN? Now what have I told you about that blasted eyebrow. I obviously wasn't talking about the issue literally - since you wouldn't be a subject to sweat over if I didn't understand the biology of the situation. What I meant was how in heck did this manage to slip past me? How could I have been so damned stupid?

And how, more importantly, am I gonna get this one past your Daddy?

He's gonna know the moment he wakes up, you know... It'd be impossible to hide. I mean face it, there's not much subtlety in any attempt to not-inform him. The minute he looks at me the words "I'm hiding something you should know." are going to flash across his line of vision. And I guarantee he won't wait seven or so more months for a damn explanation.

So am I right - around seven more? That's where it'll most likely calculate out if I'm thinking straight. I mean, any longer than that and I'd have had to notice before now. Occasionally skipping a cycle is just no big deal - too much stress and physical abuse in this job; it has to come out somewhere. Regardless, missing more than two in a row has never happened. Well till this, anyway.

Would it be inappropriate to say there's a first time for everything?

Baby. Me with Baby. The words just don't want to compute. And yet I know, as sure as I sense you within me. I guess you must be a telepath, hey kiddo? Lord as if I needed another one of those in my life. Well either way, hello, I think. I'd be your mother.

Mail the authors, BJ Carlson and Lynx, with comments!