Title: Through a Glass Lightly
Author: A.j. (Aj2-@yahoo.com)
Rating: PG. No sex, no violence. Just depression.
Disclaimer: Ain't mine, ain't makin' money.
Spoilers: Definite yay for up to X-Force #115, and the X-Men Annual
2001. And Cable #82 & 83, but not *really*.

Summary: Domino lets it all fall down. But not.

Notes: Dom's head is not a fun place, but I figured she deserved *some*
sort of reaction to the crapitude that was X-Force #100 straight on
through the XMA2001. Oh, and those Cable issues. And wow is that
double sided.

***

Through a Glass Lightly
by A.j.

***

She doesn't want to remember anymore. Not at all.

Many people who know her, or knew her, would laugh at this. Tip their
heads back and mock the sky with their chuckles. The tough girl merc
can't handle a memory. So. Amusing.

If anyone knew, she'd probably be kicked out of the club, and get her
special superhero decoder-ring repossessed. Can't stand the heat...

It's cold here. Before coming to Hong Kong, she never really thought
about it. Every time she'd been to this part of the world, it'd been
summer, or if it rained, she put it down to karma kicking her ass. But
this, the everyday life. Walking and living and going to the store, it
gets cold.

Must be why her hands are shaking.

There's no one here to see though. No one at all. She smiles faintly,
closing her eyes to the night around her and trying to lock the box in
her mind that just won't stay closed.

Lonesome. How silly.

She hadn't been alone – completely – in so long. Forgot what it felt
like. There was Nate before. And after him, there was the other. The
monkey on her back.

Lock it up, Dom. Lock it tight. Don't let it go...

...because then it's real.

She sucks in a breath, filling her lungs with dry recycled air. On a
table behind her, a pack of cigarettes waits. Burning relief. She
ignores it and the empty condo, looking out over the buildings and neon
signs.

It was a beautiful kind of terrible, the darkness on her back. The
missing thing. It which was there, then gone. Building her anew, and
taking everything – EVERYTHING – away.

She remembers, even though she doesn't want to, waking in that French
morgue. The water-stained ceiling, and the smell that always haunts the
halls of the dead. Sour and old. It took so long to wash off her skin.

Hot water and so. Much. Soap.

Even now, if she turns her head the right way, she can still almost
taste it, bitter. Clinging to the back of the throat like hairspray
and ash.

She swallows twice, paranoid that it and everything after will come
back
in a crash of sensation and light. Swallows and pushes closer to the
windows, closer to the night beyond.

Everything was missing when she opened her eyes. For a second, maybe
three, there was nothing at all but the ceiling and the smell and the
man with the saw. Then she blinked.

And there it was.

Sound and color and EVERYTHING in a large lump inside her head. A new
thing where an old thing – love she can say now in her head – had been.
A broken place that hadn't been real or filled since before many, many
things. And as deep as this new violation, or resurrection, went, she
could have wept for joy in not being alone. Anymore.

The thing was alive.

It's easier, at night, to let things go. Or in. Or to remember the
feeling of skin on skin. It used to be a nice memory. Sometimes.
Distant though. And here, looking down on the bustling streets of Hong
Kong - not so bustling now with the soldiers - she can recall how the
new thing had felt all the world like someone had painted her back with
glue and left it to dry. Not a pulling pain, exactly, but a tightness.

And the weight of it.

Tiny back thermonuclear sentient devices were surprisingly heavy.
Probably had something to do with the dinosaur DNA.

She doesn't think about the traces of emotion. Its conscious. Green and
quick and gone just as she fumbled to catch them, like Nathan had
taught her. Not even at night. Don't look at it, don't think about it,
it didn't happen.

Maybe one day it'll work. Because it's not right now. That trusty
little box in the back of her head isn't very trusty anymore.

It's raining tonight. Not heavily, but enough to spatter the windows of
her entirely too-large condo. Light from outside bounces off the water,
giving the effect of standing in an aquarium. She's leaning now,
against
the big window in the living room. When the sky's clear, and she's
feeling fanciful, she can stare out past the crowded streets and jammed
harbors, past the horizon and beyond. She can see forever out this
window. Maybe.

She's not feeling very fanciful right now. No. Head leaning on the cool
glass, she can't even see the street. The clouds are low, fog rolls
past
the raindrops outside, enforcing the underwater feeling. She's sent her
assistant home early with an 'oh, thanks, ma'am!' and a firm push out
the door. Everyone's gone home to other places and other buildings and
other people.

She's alone here. Completely and totally. She's getting used to it, but
is sure that this hurts more than dying.

She's had quite a bit of experience with that too.

Because he knows her and she misses him, if Sam were here, he would
probably laugh at her. Maybe. She misses his laugh.

They'd gotten vaguely closer the last time... before. Growing up, he'd
called it before giving her a knowing look. Getting uppity, she didn't
say. Going back that last time had been a mistake. She'd known it then,
but hadn't seen any other option. The weight on her back had,
literally,
been too much, and there are only so many times a girl can have a hole
blown in her gut before tossing pride out the window.

Her lips pull a bit at the thought, and she knocks against the glass
she's leaning on. Window. Pride. Heh.

They'd told her to leave, before. Turned away from whatever she had
left
to offer them, and hugged Pete and his little crusade tightly. She
shouldn't have been surprised. They were kids, and kids needed to look
to someone who looked like they knew what they were doing. She had been
though.

Surprised. Not knowing what she was doing. She hadn't know that, ever.

Clunk. Clunk. Clunk.

Her knuckles are starting to hurt from the knocking no one can hear.
Outside, the rain spits at the window more. She shouldn't have gone
back.

Her back is aching tonight. Her shoulder-blade and the molted skin
around it are itching like mad under her robe. It's why, tonight, she's
doing this. Because not-thinking only works when there's no reminder.

They've died. Everyone said it. Died the way they lived. Powerfully.
Didn't even leave a pretty corpse.

But that doesn't stop the punch to the gut of knowing you've been left
behind. Again. They aren't dead. She knows that. Given enough time and
will, they'll be back and blowing things up again. Or Sam will. She
won't think about the others. Even so, it doesn't matter, because the
scars are still there.

They didn't want her anymore. Again. It's a feeling she's becoming all
to familiar with.

Delicately, she traces a finger down the path of a rain drop. It's a
silly thing that she thinks she might have done as a child. Trace a
path, follow where it will lead. Race gravity, anticipate movement.
There's a smile on her lips. Not happy, but not sad. A haunting little
thing that seems out of place on her brand new, young face.

A long time ago, during a lesson only have remembered on a conscious
level, someone told her that all glass has flaws. In the right light,
every window is a web of cracks and fissures. It's a liquid that keeps
moving otherwise it gets brittle and shattered.

It's knowledge that's served her well more than once. Find the breaking
point and push, just hard enough. Let it all rain down like a sparkling
waterfall of ice.

She wonders how she would look in the middle.

The windows are why she chose this place. They – being Xavier – had
given her a choice when he'd hired her. She'd taken this one and been
glad of it. It was a base. A stopping point. And the windows...

She tilts her head just a bit, and the light from the cola sign cross
the way shows her a story. Flaws and fissures, all in a web. There it
is.

Her whole life she's moved. Remembered when it was convenient. Run
faster and further because going back wasn't an option.

She isn't moving now. She's stopped. Caught here between what was, and
what will be. And here in her too-large-fish-tank condo, she's waiting
for the right light. For someone to see the flaws and cracks stretched
across new skin, and to push just...

...there.

But she doesn't think of that.

Instead, she runs her finger over the spot. The center of the web.
It's cool from the rain and the wind, and almost soft under the pad of
her index finger.

It would take so very little.

She knows this. And it's why she steps back and scoops up the pack of
cigarettes, her lighter, and a remote. A flick of her wrist and asian
techno fills the rooms, lights flash.

The first puff pulls hot smoke down her lungs, then back up, across dry
lips. There's nothing but the taste of nicotine now. Nothing in her
head but light and sound of this place. This now.

And she doesn't remember.

-fin-