DISCLAIMER: With the exception of Kai, the characters in this story belong to Marvel Comics, and are used without permission for entertainment purposes only. Kai belongs to Kaylee, who was kind enough to let me borrow her. :) Warning: Rampant silliness ahead.
Logan was frowning. "Couldn't have been anything too serious, or we would've heard something about it," he pointed out, but he was scanning the estate warily, just as I was doing. "Hell, I talked to Drake before we left, told him we were on the way--"
"Maybe it slipped his mind," I said dryly, refraining from the obvious comment.
"Funny," Logan grunted. We both relaxed a little when Sam Guthrie appeared, flying up from behind the mansion in a comparatively slow, casual-looking arc. Logan waved, and Sam changed course, landing neatly in front of us.
"Mornin' Kai, Logan," he said, nodding at me politely. He gestured over his shoulder at the wreck of the west wing, grimacing. "Had a visit from a stray Sentinel that decided t'do some redecoratin'."
Logan frowned. "So why the hell didn't the popsicle mention something when I talked to him this morning?" he asked in exasperation, then shook his head when Sam would have answered. "Never mind," he muttered, and moved on to the important question. "Everyone all right?"
Sam nodded. "Hank and Forge're dismantlin' the thing in the backyard, tryin' to figure out where it came from--just sort of sailed in from out o'the blue. Really took us off guard--" He shrugged, and I frowned. He seemed awfully uneasy all of a sudden, as if he'd just remembered something he'd have rather forgotten. He was giving Logan a funny look, too. "Not a big deal--nothin' t'worry about."
The kid actually sounded rattled. "How did you take it down?" I asked curiously. I'd tried my hand against Sentinels often enough in the Danger Room--only made sense to familiarize myself with an enemy that the X-Men faced so often--but I'd never faced the real thing yet.
Sam actually flinched. "Well--Storm zapped it good, then Cable kinda--um, finished it off."
"Cable's here?" Logan asked sharply. "Since when?"
I was watching Sam very closely, so I could assess exactly how much more uncomfortable the question made him. The answer, I decided, was somewhere between 'a lot' and 'get me the hell out of here right NOW'. "Yeah, um, him and Dom've been here for a couple of days, ever since Scott and Jean went t'visit her parents. They wanted t'talk to the Professor about somethin', ah think--" Sam gestured aimlessly at the sky, switching his blast field back on. "Well, ah was--um--flyin'. See ya both later."
He proceeded to beat one of the hastiest retreats I've ever seen. I was starting to get more than a little curious. Sam Guthrie, being evasive? And whatever he hadn't wanted to talk about, it sure as hell didn't look like he wanted to be around when we--or maybe just Logan, I reflected thoughtfully, found out. After all, Sam hadn't really started to squirm until the whole subject of Cable had come up.
"Cable," Logan growled. "Great."
The whole thing still baffled me. None of the other X-Men, not even Scott or Jean, seemed to know exactly why Logan and Cable could barely stand to breathe the same air. Even when they were more or less being civil, they still eyed each other as if they were planning out attack strategies. I'd even tried asking Domino about it on one of her and Cable's previous visits. But she'd just laughed, shrugged, and admitted that the whole thing had started before her time. She had shared some pretty hilarious stories, though--good blackmail material, if I ever needed it.
"So," I said casually. "Shall we go take a look?" Might as well find out what it was and get it over with, I reasoned.
"Yeah," Logan growled. "Might as well." As we headed around to the backyard, I glanced over my shoulder, surprised to see Sam still hanging there in the air, watching us. He blasted away as soon as I saw him, as if I'd caught him eavesdropping or something.
In the backyard, Hank and Forge were swarming all over a good-sized, standard-model Sentinel. Lying in pieces on the ground, it had clearly seen better days. There was an enormous, scorched hole in its chest--
And one vintage Harley sticking out of its forehead. The bike had also clearly seen better days.
I heard a strangled noise, almost a yelp, and realized with some surprise that it had come from me. Oh, damn. Sam's uneasiness on the subject of how the Sentinel had been taken down now made perfect sense. I glanced swiftly at Logan, expecting an eruption. But he just stood there, staring, his eyes as wide as I've ever seen them.
Hank glanced up at my exclamation. He stood there on the Sentinel's chest for a moment, watching us. I could almost see the wheels turning behind his eyes. Then, he jumped down and came over, wearing a very wide, very bright, and very fake smile. He was also holding a dinner plate-sized piece of the Sentinel's armor as if it were a shield, but I let that go for the moment.
"Logan! Kai!" he greeted us. "Lovely to see you! Isn't it a beautiful morning?"
"Umm--hi, Hank," I said, my voice sounding a little off, even to me. Logan was still staring at his bike.
Hank noticed, and kept chattering on nervously. "As you can see, we had an unexpected visitor. Rather a surprise, to suddenly look up from your Cheerios and see an old-model Sentinel coming flying towards the kitchen window, I'm sure you can imagine--" He gestured swiftly at Forge, who hadn't so much as acknowledged our existence. "Forge was kind enough to come by to assist me in trying to determine its origin. I mean, you must admit, the likelihood that a single Sentinel would simply happen to decide by itself that today was a good day to attack the X-Men seems highly implausible--"
"McCoy," Logan said in a flat, dangerous voice that cut off the flow of words immediately. "Who did that?" He pointed at the Sentinel. His hand was actually shaking slightly.
Hank's eyes widened, and I fought the urge to laugh at his distressed look. I'd guessed the answer already, of course. "What, the large hole in its chest?" Hank said swiftly. "Ororo, of course. Our resident windrider manifested quite the lightning bolt. I think she herself was surprised at the size of it--"
I admired Hank's courage, but he was just asking for it, stringing Logan along like this. "I think Logan meant the--um, bike embedded in its forehead," I said, trying to keep my voice level. But it was getting really, REALLY hard not to laugh at the tragic, outraged expression slowly forming on Logan's features.
"Ah," Hank said helplessly. "Well."
"Don't bother, Hank," Logan growled. "If it wasn't 'Ro, it had t'have been a telekinetic, and since Jeanie ain't here--" He gave the bike one last, long look, and then turned and stalked towards the back door.
"Oh, dear," Hank said mournfully.
I patted him on the shoulder. "Relax, Hank, even if you hadn't spilled the beans, someone else would've," I said reassuringly. "But I think I'd better go after him--"
"Please do," Hank said fervently. "Appeal to his reason, whatever you have to do--we have enough repair work to do without him and Nathan picking up where the Sentinel left off."
By the time I caught up with Logan, he was halfway up the stairs, wearing an expression like thunder and clearly intent on mayhem.
"Hey," I said conversationally. "Sure you want to do this?"
"Come on, Logan, it was just a motorcycle--" He gave me an injured look, and didn't deign to respond. I tried a different tack. "You shouldn't go around beating the crap out of your teammates, you know--"
"He ain't my flamin' teammate!"
"True," I countered, "but he is family."
"I'm still going to kill him."
We reached the top of the stairs, and he headed unerringly towards one particular door. "Cable!" he bellowed, stopping in front of it. "Open up! I've got a bone to pick with you!"
"Logan--" I started, but he cursed and gave the door a solid kick, nearly knocking it off its hinges. It flew open, and I promptly blanched.
Cable wasn't alone. And he and Domino were mostly definitely occupied. Turning crimson, I backed away from the door.
Logan, who'd already been starting through, gave an oof! of surprise as he was thrown backwards through the air and into the wall. The door slammed resoundingly shut.
Still flushed with embarassment, I went over to help him up. He swore and pulled away from me, struggling to his feet.
"I can't believe you just did that!" I said, trying not to snicker. It really, really wasn't funny, but I couldn't help myself. "What would you have done if someone walked in on us?"
His only answer was an incoherent growl. He started forward again. I reached out to pull him back, not sure that Cable wouldn't decide to blow him THROUGH the wall if he tried it again. But the door opened just as he got to it, and Domino stepped out.
Breathing heavily, her pale skin flushed, she knotted the belt of her robe and made a token attempt at smoothing her tangled hair. If looks could kill, the skin would've been melting off Logan's bones right then and there.
"You," she said very slowly, her violet eyes flashing dangerously as she glared at Logan, "are going to BEG me to kill you, old man."
"You can have him after I'm done, Dom," Cable growled, coming to the door. He was fully dressed, I noticed with some surprise. What had he done, teleported into his clothes? He had to have been expecting this, though, I reflected. Just maybe not at this particularly awkward moment. "I'll be sure to leave you enough to amuse yourself with."
"Tough talk, tin-man!" Logan snarled.
I sighed. Into the insults already. Just great. I could see where this was going. Domino, still standing between them, echoed my sigh almost simultaneously.
"Let me guess," she said patiently. "You were just in the backyard."
Logan nodded angrily, Cable cursed under his breath. "I should've known you'd come whining about your flonqing bike," he said disgustedly.
"WHINING?" Logan shouted. "I seem to recall Sam telling me that you were mighty pissed when Magneto swiped your space station!"
"Oh, SURE, throw that in my face again!"
"Boys," Domino murmured, the anger in her eyes slowly melting away to be replaced by something very close to amusement. "Why don't we all calm down? Nate, maybe you should apologize about the Harley--"
"I'd sooner rot in hell," Cable snarled, his left eye glowing balefully.
"Wrong answer!" Logan spat, and lept at him. Domino saw him coming and stepped adroitly out of the way. He slammed into Cable and they both ended up on the floor.
"And the day was starting off so well, too," Domino sighed regretfully, glancing back over her shoulder at them as they grappled, spitting insults at each other.
"Sorry about that, by the way," I said helplessly.
"Don't worry, Kai. It's hardly your fault."
Cable suddenly growled something in that bizarre language of his--Askani, according to Jean--and threw Logan off him as if he was swatting a bug. I raised an eyebrow, impressed.
"He using his powers?" I asked Domino as the two of us followed our men into the room. I shut the door behind me and locked it, leaning against it. No need for an audience; something told me that the other X-Men would just get upset about this. Good thing Scott and Jean AREN'T here--
"Nope," Domino said, her mouth quirking. "Enhanced strength thanks to the T-O virus. He's not in a class with Colossus or Warpath, but he's up there--"
"Logan's faster, though," I commented as Logan recovered his feet quickly and threw himself at Cable again.
"Oh, for sure."
"Though Nathan's pretty quick on his feet for someone his size--"
"Yeah," Domino said ruefully. "Shocked the hell out of me, the first time we sparred. I was expecting him to be a lot slower."
This was bizarre. We were chatting away like old girlfriends while our men were busy beating the shit out of each other. Sort of surrealistic, in a way. Logan landed a punch that would've broken the jaw of anyone who wasn't half-metal. It was still one heck of a punch, though, and Cable staggered backwards, looking dazed for a moment.
"Out of all the things you could've thrown at the damned thing, you had to choose my Harley?" Logan raved.
Cable recovered his balance and gave Logan a nasty smirk. "It was handy."
"Is he trying to goad him?" I asked incredulously as the two of them closed with each other again. It didn't seem like a particularly good strategy.
"Mmm-hmm," Domino said, rolling her eyes. "It's part of the game."
"Some game," I said a little huffily.
"Tell me about it." Domino winced as Cable, reeling backwards, fell on top of a table that snapped under his weight as if it were made of toothpicks. "Nate, damn it, that was an antique!"
"Tell him that!" Cable said almost plainitively, shaking his head as if to clear it.
"Sure, go runnin' to her t'protect you," Logan sneered.
Cable's eyes widened, and then narrowed. "Hardly," he grated, and landed a solid kick to Logan's midsection. Logan stumbled backwards with a grunt. "You know, I COULD kick your ass up between your ears without laying a finger on you--"
Logan straightened, glaring at him balefully. "Then do it and quit jawin' about it," he growled hoarsely.
"Oh, but this way's so much more fun!"
"I'll show you fun, Twinkle-Face--"
"Bring it on, you pint-sized psychopath--"
"This might get a little ugly," Domino murmured, watching them with a suddenly impassive expression. I was beginning to agree; they were going at it with an alarming amount of gusto. This wasn't sparring by any definition of the word. "They don't usually get this intense this soon. Logan must really be pissed about the bike."
"That's one way to put it. When do you usually step in?" I asked, wincing as Logan ducked a punch from Cable that went on to leave a sizeable dent in the wall. That would have HURT if it had connected, healing factor or not. "If you've seen this happen all that often--"
"When one of them loses their temper," Domino said, and flinched as Cable went down again under a particularly well-timed kick. "Nate, do remember that you DON'T have a healing factor, all right?" she called. "That was downright sloppy."
Cable cursed again, shooting an exasperated look at her before he struggled back to his feet, holding his side as if his ribs hurt. Which they probably did, I reflected, with a trace of sympathy that immediately vanished when he promptly knocked Logan across the room with another one of those mammoth punches.
"Care to be any more specific?" I asked her, telling myself that no, I was NOT going to get in this middle of this. That'd just add fuel to the fire, and I certainly would have lost it if Logan had tried to help ME in a similar situation. "I mean, they both look pretty angry to me--"
Domino gave me a quick, reassuring smile. "All right--either when Logan's claws come out or Nate starts flinging furniture around telekinetically. You let it go much past that, they usually end up doing serious damage." She chuckled. "I remember the time G.W. and Nick Fury had to drag them off each other--"
That would be an interesting story to hear. "I swear, I'm drowning in the testosterone," I groaned, and shook my head, taking a step back as Logan came skidding across the floor to stop almost right at my feet. "That was pretty clumsy," I commented, staring down at him. "You should've seen that one coming--"
"Kai, shut up, all right?" he growled, wiping blood from the corner of his mouth.
"Yeah, editorial comments bruise their fragile male egos," Domino said, giving me a deadpan look. I laughed.
"You too, Neena," Logan growled, heaving himself to his feet. He glared at Cable, who hadn't pressed his advantage. "What's the matter, Nate? Slowing down in your old age?"
Cable was breathing heavily, looking a little unsteady on his feet. "You still talk too much," he snarled, still clutching his side. He glanced down at the floor, his eyes narrowing.
Domino suddenly reached out and pulled me backwards, about a half-second before the small area rug abruptly yanked itself out from under Logan. Not having been prepared to lose his footing so suddenly, he went down hard.
"Does that class as furniture?" I asked Domino.
Growling incoherently, Logan rolled and came back to his feet. His claws weren't out, but he was definitely on the verge of losing it. "You--" he snarled.
"Oops," Cable said with a fierce grin, his left eye glowing brightly.
Domino was shaking her head. "Nate, even I have to admit that was low--"
"Pretty creative, though," I said generously, and got a furious look from Logan. I raised a defensive hand. "Hey, just making an observation--"
He turned back to Cable, still glaring but marginally more in control of himself. "You always were a sneaky, under-handed son of a bitch!" he growled.
"I'm hurt," Cable said mockingly.
"You're going to be BLEEDING in a minute, bub!"
"I suppose this has some therapeutic value," I commented lightly as the two of them went at it again. "Working out their frustrations with a living punching bag."
"Beats me. I always just chalked it up to the whole alpha-wolf thing," Domino muttered, and then her eyes widened. "Nate, Logan, watch where you're going!"
The two of them went flying out the window, and Domino and I abruptly found ourselves alone in the room.
"Well, at least this is only the second floor."
"The pair of you should be committed," Domino said disgustedly. We were standing in the medlab, watching as Hank checked the two of them over.
"Don't glare at me, Neena," Logan growled from where he was lying on a biobed. His healing factor was working busily away, but it still took him a while to recover from a fence post through the gut. "Not my fault Nate wasn't watching where he was going!"
"WHAT? I wasn't watching where I was going?" Cable snapped from the other side of the medlab, then flinched as Hank gave him a glare. "I know--stop moving around," he muttered grouchily. He'd survived the fall in better shape than Logan, but then again, he didn't have a healing factor.
"Unless you wish me to dig out a needle and thread and deal with the non-inconsiderable gash in the back of your head in the most primitive and painful method possible, YES," Hank said forcefully. "My stars and garters! What happened to the good old days where X-Men didn't try to kill each other?"
"For the thousandth flonqing time, I'm NOT an X-Man--"
"He started it, flinging my bike at a flamin' Sentinel--"
"I started it! You were the one who broke the door down when Dom and I were--" Cable flushed as Domino gave him a narrow-eyed look. "Busy," he finished lamely, as Hank looked back and forth between the two of them with a great deal of interest.
Domino muttered something under her breath. "I need a drink," she growled.
I sympathized. I also had an idea. Giving Hank my most charming smile, I gestured at his two patients. "Maybe you should confine them to the medlab for a little while. Just for observation."
"Confine them? Together? Kai, my dear woman, I like my medlab intact, thank you."
"You could always chain them to their beds," Domino suggested.
"Dom!" Cable protested.
"Neena, no way am I--"
"I think that's a very good idea," Hank said loudly, and gave them both a penetrating look. "Well, not the chains, but sedating you both is a HIGHLY practical alternative. Unless you gentleman will give me your word to stay put and keep your hands away from each other's throats."
Cable gave him a sideways look, as if trying to decide whether or not he was serious. Logan was cursing under his breath. I smiled again, and turned to Domino.
"I'm sort of thirsty myself, actually. Mind if I join you?"
Domino raised an eyebrow, but there was amusement dancing in her eyes again. "Sounds good. Have fun, boys--"
"Dom--" Cable said, almost imploringly.
"See you later, Logan," I said cheerfully.
"Kai!" There was a definite undertone of 'don't leave me here with him!' in Logan's voice, but I ignored it blithely.
The door slid shut behind us, and I could finally laugh. Domino was grinning at me.
"I never could figure out a way to punish them both for making me stand there on the sidelines and wonder if this was the time things were going to go too far and one of them was going to end up dead," she said, chuckling. "Gotta hand it to you, Kai."
"Well, having to spend an hour or so in there behaving like angels when they'd much rather be gutting each other should do for a start," I said wickedly. "We can think up the rest over that drink."
"Sounds like a plan."