Disclaimer: The X-Men are not mine. Angela Worthington is. Don't sue me. Don't steal her. "Angie" is the Rolling Stones.
Summary: Sometimes fate has a way of correcting the mistakes of time… (Cable/OC; tie-in with NXM Chronicles)
Author's Note: Why am I writing this? Because I like Cable and Angela, that's why. So there. If you're a fan of my New X-Men Chronicles, this is a tie-in. Also, this follows the timeline set in said New X-Men Chronicles, so some things are different than in the actual comics. Like Psylocke is alive and married to Archangel, and the Legacy Virus has never been cured.
Feedback and Archiving: If you want, go ahead. Just let me know if you want to archive it, so I can keep track of all my babies. Send feedback and archiving requests to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send flames to someone who cares.
Shameless Website Plug: Please visit my page. Pleeeeease!
What Is, Is
By: Addie Logan
*** *** ***
When will those clouds all disappear?
Where will it lead us from here?
With no lovin in our souls
And no money in our coats
You can't say we're satisfied.
You can't say we never tried
Angie, you're beautiful
But ain't it time we said goodbye?
Angie, I still love you
Remember all those nights we cried?
All the dreams we held so
Seem to all go up in smoke
Let me whisper in your ear
Where will lead us from here?
Oh, Angie don't you weep
All your kisses still taste sweet
I hate that sadness in your eyes
But Angie, Angie
Ain't it time we said goodbye?
With no lovin in our souls
And no money in our coats
You can't say we're satisfied
But Angie, I still love you, baby
Everywhere I look, I see your eyes
There ain't a woman who comes close to you
Come on baby, dry your eyes
But Angie, Angie
Ain't it good to be alive?
We can't say we never tried
*** *** ***
The man known as Cable didn't care when his father's old friend had a baby. Why should he? Another child born in the timeline he'd helped create, but what difference did it make to him? He figured the child would grow old before he even noticed it living anyway. Everyone would grow old, everyone would die—except Cable. He'd discovered a price came with his life outside the timestream. If he didn't exist to time, then it couldn't catch up with him. He was frozen, truly a man outside of time.
The baby was six months old the first time Cable saw her. Her father had her in the kitchen, trying to find a bottle for a late night feeding.
Warren looked up. "Cable." Warren Worthington stopped for a moment, before handing the screaming child towards Cable. "Could you hold her for a moment? Betsy's on a scouting mission with Rogue and Storm, and I'm having a hard time finding the milk she left with Angie screaming in my ear."
Cable just nodded and took the baby from Warren. Already she looked like her mother, with blue eyes and a bright tuff of purple hair on her head. She stopped crying as soon as Cable had her and looked up at him with curiosity. His techno-organic eye flashed for a moment, and the baby giggled.
Warren closed the fridge, milk in hand. "I think she likes you, Nathan. Would you mind holding her while I warm this up?"
"No. Go ahead. I had a child once myself, you know. He went crazy and tried to kill me, though."
Warren turned on the stove and got out a pot to put the milk in. "Yeah, it's rough when that happens."
The baby started to cry again. Cable looked over and saw that Warren's back was too him, and then made a funny face at Angie. She squealed with delight.
A few minutes later, Warren came to take Angela back from Cable. The baby cried until Warren gave her the bottle. She closed her eyes then and drank happily.
Cable walked out of the room.
*** *** ***
She was a toddler before he saw her again. The little puff of purple hair had turned into pigtails, and she'd learned to walk on her own.
She was by herself when he found her, standing in a hallway, looking at him with big, round blue eyes. He wracked his brain, trying to remember her name. "Angela?"
She just nodded, her gaze never leaving him. He kneeled down. "Where's your mommy?" he asked.
The girl nodded.
"Angie! Angela Elisabeth Worthington, where are you?"
Cable picked Angela up and carried her over to Warren. "Lose something, Worthington?"
Warren smirked as he took his daughter from Cable. "Thanks. She has a way of getting away from me. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear she has her mother's shadow walking ability."
"Kids'll do that."
Angela stared at Cable, her eyes following every move he made. It didn't take long for it to creep him out. "So, um, you hear long?" Warren asked, deciding he might as well try to make conversation.
"No. I just had…something to discuss with Scott."
Cable nodded and turned around. He could feel the little girl's eyes watching him all the way down the hall.
*** *** ***
She wasn't the only child at the Xavier Mansion the next time Cable returned. The X-Men seemed to have multiplied in droves in the years since Cable had been anywhere near 1407 Greymalkin Lane.
It wasn't hard for Cable to spot whose child was whose. He smirked at the sight of a boy with red eyes and a white streak in his hair.
One child in particular caught his eye this time. She was tall and thin, with bright red hair spilling down her back. He walked to her slowly. "What's your name?" he asked.
The girl looked up, and Cable wasn't surprised to see her eyes were green. "Rachel Summers," she said. "What's yours?"
The girl smiled. "We have the same last name."
"That's because he's your brother."
Cable looked up to see who'd spoken. It was the girl with the purple hair, older this time. He noticed she'd gotten rather plump in the past few years, and she'd gained a pair of glasses. Rachel looked from Angela to Cable. "Brother? I don't have a brother."
"Yes you do," Angela said. "His name is Nathan Christopher Charles Askani'son Dayspring Summers. And he's your father's son, so he's your brother."
Cable looked at Angela in surprise. "How in the world do you know that?"
"I know lots of things. My parents let me study all about the X-Men."
"You look older than my daddy," Rachel said, frowning.
"He is," Angela said. "He's from another time."
Rachel's eyes grew wide. "You can time travel?"
"I've been known to."
"Yeah. Wow. Hey, kid, how about you do me a favor and go get your dad."
Rachel jumped up. "Okay. He's in the library. I'll be back."
A few moments later, Cable noticed something poking at his techno-organic arm. He looked down to see Angela touching it. He pulled back. "What are you doing?"
"I've always wondered about it," Angela said. "Is that really a virus?"
"Yes. How old are you, kid?"
"Why are you so interested in me?"
"Oh, I'm just interested in viruses."
"Yes. I find them very fascinating. I think I want to cure one someday."
"Do you have one in mind?"
"Not yet. I guess I'll just have to find a suitable one when I'm old enough."
"So you know anything about my arm?" Cable asked, curious about just how much this child knew about him.
"I know that it's sentient because it absorbed part of something called Ship. And you call it Professor. So how much of your body does the virus cover?"
"That's none of your business."
Angela frowned. "I'm just curious."
"Well, it's a good thing you're not a cat then, because you'd probably be dead."
"You're not very friendly."
Cable smirked. "So I've been told."
Rachel came back with Scott, and Cable turned his attention to them, with Angela leaving the family alone.
*** *** ***
"Why won't you talk to me about your virus?"
Cable sighed. "Why won't you stop pestering me about it?"
"Because I want to know! You're the only person I've ever seen with that virus."
"I think I'm the only person who has it."
"Please, Mr. Summers?" Angela asked, trying to give him her best pitiful face. "I want to add it to my notebook."
Angela held up a thick, black spiral notebook. "See? It's all my notes on viruses."
Nathan took the book from her and flipped through a little. "There are a lot of notes here."
"It's my life's work."
"Can you have a life's work at ten?"
"I started early."
"Apparently. Look kid, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I really don't want to talk about the T-O virus, all right? Why don't you just write in what you know from your studies or something?"
"But I can't know what it's really like just from reading about it!" Angela said, taking her notebook back from Cable. "Can't you tell me something?"
Cable sighed. "Like what?"
"I don't know, something personal. Like doesn't it upset you that you've had to spend your whole life fighting it?"
"What is, is."
"It's a saying…from the Clan Askani."
"What does it mean?"
"It means…" Cable sighed. "Look, isn't there someone else you can pester?"
"I was pestering my brother earlier, but Mum said I had to stop."
"A brother? There are two of you?"
"Oh Warren's nothing like me at all," Angela said quickly. "He's irritating."
"Won't you please tell me something?"
"No. I have work I have to do, all right. Now go play with your friends or something."
Angela sighed as Cable left. "But I don't have any friends," she whispered, walking off the other way.
*** *** ***
When Cable found Angela later, she was crying. He felt an instant sense of guilt. Hadn't he promised himself he'd act more like the Chosen One he was supposed to be, and less like a heartless mercenary? "Hey, kid."
Angela wiped at her eyes. "Go away."
"Look, um, sorry if I was, um, gruff earlier."
"I don't care. You don't want to talk to me. No one wants to talk to me. So what?"
Cable sat down beside her on the couch. "That isn't it. It's just, well, I don't like to talk about the virus. It makes me…uncomfortable." Cable frowned. He sounded so weak. "So why are you crying?"
"Because I hate living in this stupid mansion," Angela replied. "No one here wants anything to do with me. I'm too old to play with all the kids, and too young to hang around the adults. I'm always alone."
Cable wondered when exactly he'd developed a soft spot. "Look, I'll hang out with you for a little bit if you want. But you have to promise not to bug me about the virus, all right?"
Angela brightened up immediately. "You will?"
"Thank you! I promise I'll try really hard not to annoy you!"
"I know, kid. Now what do you want to do?"
*** *** ***
Cable decided there had to be something worse than sitting on the couch and watching "Real Stories from the ER" with a ten year old who had an unnatural obsession with all things diseased, but he just couldn't remember what at the moment. "Don't you ever get out in the sunlight?" he asked after a while. "You know, run around in the grass or something?"
Angela shook her head. "No. Did you when you were a kid?"
"It was a little difficult where I grew up. But come on, let's get you some fresh air."
"Because this mansion is stuffy."
"But they're about to do emergency surgery! Emergency, Mr. Summers! That means they'll be lots of blood!"
"You can see it some other time. And you can call me Nathan."
Cable shrugged. "Yeah, sure, why not. Just not while anyone else is around, all right, kid?"
"Okay. So what are we going to do outside?"
"Well find something."
*** *** ***
"Okay, kid, you think you got it?"
"You just hold it like this and aim, right?"
"It's pretty heavy."
"Here, let me steady it for you."
Angela recoiled back against Cable as the plasma burst flew from the end of the gun to a nearby tree branch. The branch came crashing down.
"I hit it!" Angie said happily. "I hit it my first try!"
"Good going, kid."
"Cable! What the hell are you doing with my daughter?!"
Angela and Cable both turned around to see Warren and Scott coming towards them. "It's our dads," Angie said softly. "I think we're in trouble."
Cable smirked. "Yeah, it looks like it."
Warren snatched Angela's hand and pulled her away from Cable. "What were you thinking, letting her shoot that thing? She's only ten years old, for Christ's sake!"
"Calm down, Worthington," Cable said. "I wasn't going to let her get hurt."
"Daddy, don't be mad at him!" Angie pleaded. "He's my friend."
Warren snorted. "Come on, Angela. Let's go back in the mansion."
"Scott, talk to your son," Warren snapped to Scott as he drug Angie back inside.
Cable looked down at Scott. "Don't even start."
Scott sighed. "Warren's very protective of his kids, Nathan. And he doesn't like you."
Scott looked up at the marred tree. "Did you have to kill the landscape?"
"Would you rather me have her shooting at the house?"
"I'd rather you didn't have her shooting at all."
"Look, the kid doesn't have any friends. She was lonely and bored. I was trying to entertain her," Cable said, resting the massive gun on his shoulders.
"Why do you care about that?" Scott asked.
Cable shrugged. "I don't know. I'm going in."
Cable stopped. "Really, I shouldn't be that much older than her. A few years, yeah, but not anywhere near as older than I am. I'd be like her if I'd never gotten that virus. I'd be a kid of one of the X-Men, living at the mansion."
"Do you wish it had been that way?"
"What is, is, Scott."
Cable walked back inside the house.
*** *** ***
Cable woke up when he felt someone poking his arm. He reached for his gun and found that it wasn't there. He sat straight up.
"I moved it so you wouldn't shoot me."
Cable looked over, blinking sleep away from his eyes. "Angie?"
The purple-haired girl smiled. "Hi."
"What in the world are you doing here at," he looked over at the clock, "four in the morning."
"I woke up, and I couldn't go back to sleep. Can I sit on your bed?"
Cable shrugged. "I guess."
Angela sat on the end of his bed and pulled her knees up to her chin. "Sorry about my dad earlier. He can be a total downer sometimes."
"I can imagine."
"Thanks for hanging out with me, though," Angela said. "I had more fun than I have in a while."
"Was I more fun than studying viruses?" Cable asked with a smirk.
Angela giggled. "Yep." She looked up and noticed that Cable was shirtless, allowing her to see a lot more on his techno-organic side. "That's a lot of you that's silver."
"Yeah, yeah it is. Just about all my left side and part of my right."
"What does it feel like?"
"Metal, I guess."
Angela reached out tentatively and touched the metal of his shoulder when Cable didn't push her away. "It's not cold."
"What's it like?"
Cable sighed and moved Angela's hand away from me. "I don't know how to describe it. It's just always been there, always something I've had to fight to keep at bay."
"Do you wish you didn't have it?"
"It's a blessing and a curse, I guess," Cable said. "There's things I couldn't do without my techno-organic parts, but then at the same time, it inhibits my natural mutation. And it could kill me if I didn't keep it in check."
"Would you accept a cure if someone handed it to you?"
"I don't know. Why am I talking about this with you?"
Angela shrugged. "Because I asked."
Cable chuckled. "Look, kiddo, why don't you go on back to bed. I don't want your dad yelling at us again, okay."
"Okay," Angela said with a giggle. "Good night, Nathan."
*** *** ***
"Hey, I brought you a present."
Angela smiled brightly at Cable. "What?"
The girl's eyes grew wide as Cable handed her a book. "The Encyclopedia of Diseases!" she squealed. "Thank you, Nathan!" She jumped up, hugging him tightly.
He hugged her for a second before pushing her away and ruffling her hair. "You're welcome, kid."
Angela started flipping through it. "Wow. There are some viruses in here I've never even heard of."
"Well, they'll be something else to add to your notebook."
"This is my favorite present ever."
"Glad you like it."
"I love it! Thank you so much!"
"So you left the mansion today?" Cable asked.
"Come on, let's go for a walk. Kids should have fresh air."
Angela shrugged. "All right. Wait here while I put the book in my room, though. I don't want anything to happen to it."
"Okay. I'll be here."
Angela smiled at him before running up the stairs.
*** *** ***
"Do you like being at the mansion, Nathan?"
Cable looked down at Angela. "It has its moments. How about you?"
"No. I feel so trapped here, like I can't do anything. There's no one here for me to talk to, nothing for me to do." She sighed and looked up at the sky. "Sometimes I wish I could grow wings like my dad and just fly away from here."
Cable stopped and looked down at her. "You don't have to let this place hold you down, Angie. You don't have to feel like you have to follow in your parents' footsteps. You do your own thing, kiddo. Don't let this mansion and the X-Men follow you like a shadow."
"Is that what happened to you?"
Cable smirked. "I went two thousand years in the future, and I couldn't get away from them."
"Does that mean I'm doomed?" Angela asked with a giggle.
"Nah. I think there's hope for you yet, kid."
Angela smiled up at him before they both continued to walk.
*** *** ***
Cable was almost out the door when he heard someone run up to him. He turned around to see Angela, looking at him with big, uncertain eyes. "Daddy said you're leaving for a while. That isn't true, is it?"
"I'm sorry, kid," Cable replied. "I have too much going on to stay here indefinitely."
For a moment, Angela looked like she was going to cry, and Cable felt an instant sense of guilt. "But I don't want you to go, Nathan. You're the only friend I have."
Cable knelt down so he was eye level with her. "I'm sure you can make other friends."
"I haven't in ten years."
"I won't be gone forever, Angie. You'll see me again soon."
"I'm really going to miss you."
"I know, I'll miss you, too."
Angela reached out and hugged Cable tightly around his neck. "Don't be gone too long, okay?"
Cable hugged her back lightly. "I won't be."
Angie pulled away, wiping at her eyes. "Good luck with whatever it is you're doing."
"Thanks, kid," Cable replied with a half smile before walking out of the mansion, shutting the door behind him.
*** *** ***
Cable was surprised when he was unable to find anyone upon his return to the mansion. He reached out with his telepathy slightly, searching for any sort of life form. He found one, out back by the pool.
Cable stopped when he saw her. Apparently the X-Men had gained someone new in his absence. She was laying across a pool chair, an oversized hat blocking the sun from her eyes. She had long legs, and Cable couldn't help following them up with his eyes until her reached a pair of large, feathered wings that came from her back. Apparently Warren wasn't the only winged member of the team these days.
The girl looked up and saw him, and a huge grin spread across her face. She stood up and ran to him, hugging him tightly, despite the fact she was wearing a barely there bikini. Cable froze. "Do I know you?"
The girl pulled away and frowned. "I know it's been a while, but don't say you don't remember me at all."
She pulled off her hat, and long, purple hair fell down her back. Cable's eyes grew wide. Had it honestly been that long? "Angela? Angela Worthington?"
Angie smiled. "So you do remember! You know, I was starting to think you were never coming back."
"How did you get so old?"
"You've been gone six years, Nathan."
Cable grew a little pale. "Six?"
"Wow. It seemed like…a lot less time." He paused for a moment, then asked, "So where is everyone?"
"Oh most of the X-Men don't live here anymore. I was just here using the lab for my biology project, and felt like coming out to the pool and taking a break for a little bit."
"Why don't they live here?"
"Well, after Xavier died, the team pretty much disbanded. They still come here from time to time, but most of the X-Men just moved off to be with their families."
Cable froze. "What did you just say?"
"I said most of the X-Men live with their families…" Angela said with a frown.
"No, before that…about Xavier."
"He's dead. No one told you?"
Cable moved back slowly until he was sitting down on one of the pool chairs. "No. When?"
"About five years ago."
Cable dropped his head, his forehead resting in his hands. "Xavier…gone…"
Angela knelt in front of him. "Hey, at least the world hasn't gone to hell without him."
Cable laughed, although it was anything but a happy sound. "I guess that's something."
"I'm sorry, Nathan. If I'd known you'd been kept in the dark, I would've found a way to let you know."
"Don't worry about it, kid. I tend to be pretty hard to find." Cable looked up. "Do you know where Scott and Jean are?"
"I can give you their address."
"Thanks." Cable stood and followed Angela towards the mansion. "So, you still interested in viruses?" he asked.
Angela laughed. "I'm going to Columbia pre-med soon."
He raised an eyebrow. "How old are you?"
"Sixteen. I'm graduating early."
"You always did seem like a smart one."
"I study a lot," Angie said, walking in to the mansion.
"So when did you sprout wings?"
"Four years ago. I'm also a telepath, with some telekinesis."
"You any good?"
"I know you were checking out my ass earlier by the pool."
Nathan coughed. "I didn't know who you were!"
"I know," Angie said with a laugh. "Not like I'm going to hold it against you. Come on, I think there's some paper in the kitchen so I can write down their address for you."
Cable followed behind her, being careful to keep his eyes straight ahead of him.
*** *** ***
"So I guess you're going straight to see them," Angela said after she got Scott and Jean's address for Cable.
"I don't have to," Cable replied. He gave her a half smile. "I could always spend some time catching up with an old friend. If you don't mind, that is."
Angela smiled. "Of course I don't mind. I've missed you, you know."
"Strangely enough, kid, I've missed you, too."
Angela sat down on the couch and Cable sat in a chair across from her. "So, see anything interesting while you were gone?"
"Nothing I haven't seen before."
"You better be careful there, Nathan. Someone might think you're jaded."
Cable gave her a dirty look. "Cute."
"What you need is to do something you've never done before."
"There's nothing I haven't done."
Angela gave him a sly look. "I'm sure there's something you haven't done."
"All right, kid, I'll make you a deal. You find something I've never done, and I'll do it with you."
"You're a brave man, Mr. Summers."
"So I've been told." Cable stood up. "I should go, talk to Scott. I'll come find you later."
Angela nodded. "Promise it won't be in another six years?"
Cable smiled at her and Angela realized it wasn't an expression he wore often. "I promise."
*** *** ***
"Have you ever done it before?"
Cable cursed himself for ever making that deal with Angela. "No."
"Well, neither have I, so it's something neither of us has ever done."
"Come on, Nathan, where's your sense of adventure?"
Cable looked over the putt-putt course. "I think I left it in my other pants."
Angela rolled her eyes as she grabbed on to his arm. "Oh don't be such a stick in the mud. Lighten up for once."
"But why break such a good streak?"
"If you just spend one day not acting like your pet goldfish just got run over, I'll promise not to tell anyone, okay?"
"Pet goldfish? Run over?"
Angela waved her hand dismissively. "Whatever. Just play along for one night. Who knows, you may even have fun."
"I doubt it."
Angela sighed and started dragging him towards the entrance. "You're going to have fun, Mr. Summers, even if I have to beat it out of you."
Cable looked down at the tiny woman who was surprisingly successful at dragging him along. "You know, somehow I get the feeling that isn't an empty threat."
"I never make empty threats."
Cable sighed as he walked inside.
*** *** ***
Cable wished he had one of his guns. That metal crocodile needed to die. Every time he tried to hit the damn ball into the hole, that crocodile closed its mouth again, and the ball just rolled right back to him.
Angela, on the other hand, had hit it through the mouth in one swing and had the ball in the hole by two. She swore she'd never played mini golf—or any kind of golf—in her life, but she was severely beating him. Cable wondered if rich people just came with a golf-playing gene in their blood. Right along with the tennis gene.
Finally he managed to make it through the hole, but by that time he was ridiculously over par. Angela was waiting for him on the next hole. "Finally make it thought the jaws of death?"
Cable gave her a look that had made grown men want to run to their mothers. Angela laughed. "This next hole has a sand trap," she told him.
"I can hardly contain my excitement."
First swing and the ball went into the sand. Cable muttered something under his breath in a language Angela hadn't heard before. "What did you say?" she asked.
"Um, that was just, um, so Askani…good luck words."
"Sure they were," Angela said, rolling her eyes. "You know, we can leave if you want. You're stuck it out for twelve holes."
"Like hell I'm leaving. I'm not letting some damn putt-putt course get the better of me."
Angela laughed. "Then to hole thirteen it is."
*** *** ***
"So how did you like mini golf?" Angela asked as she and Cable left.
"Like I said earlier, you're evil, Angie Worthington."
Angela elbowed Cable lightly. "Oh come on. You had fun. Admit it."
Cable tried to suppress a small grin. "I'll admit nothing of the sort."
"You know, you're a lot more relaxed than most people give you credit for," Angela said.
"I'm not usually like this."
"How are you usually?"
"Let me put it this way—I certainly wouldn't normally be found playing putt-putt."
Angela rolled her eyes. "That was the whole point, Nate. So what makes you different around me?"
"I don't know. I just am."
"Fair enough. Hey, I know a place nearby that serves good, cheap pizza. You hungry?"
Cable shrugged. "Why not?"
Angela smiled and linked her arm with his. He let her walk him to the restaurant.
*** *** ***
"So what do you think?"
Cable looked around. "I think I'm the oldest person in here."
"Are you going by birth date or years lived? Or are you going by the time in which you spent the majority of your life, because in that case, you're the youngest. I don't think anyone in here is negative in their age."
"Let's get a table. You can have your midlife crisis later."
"I think I'm beyond midlife crisis."
"What, no blonde in a red sports car?"
Cable just snorted. "So where do you want to sit?"
"Here. By the window. Unless that's too much direct sunlight for you."
"Has anyone ever told you you're a smartass?"
"It might have come up once or twice."
Angela ordered the pizza for them, and then they talked while they waited for it to arrive. Cable found himself surprised at just how much insight she had for such a young age. She kept up with him so easily in conversation, that he almost forgot he was talking to a sixteen year old.
While Cable had thought that whatever Angela had ordered had sounded weird at the time, he had to admit once he was eating it that it was a rather good combination. She talked animatedly thought dinner, and Cable realized he enjoyed the company.
After a while however, he started to wonder. What would he be like if he'd never had the T-O virus, never gone to the future? He'd always assumed that being the child of X-Men would make him screwed up any way he looked at it, but Angela made him think twice about that. She seemed much better adjusted than he would've guessed. Granted, the other X-Men had children to, ones he'd never met, so Angela could've been a fluke, but what if he could've had the sort of life she did? She was obviously happy, even with her obvious mutation and the fact that she felt distanced from people her own age. She was smart, with a strong personality. She laughed regularly and smiled easily. Cable had never known what it was like to be that relaxed, that at peace with the world around him.
He wanted to know her secret, wanted to know why she got happiness when he never had. He was surprised to find that as much as he liked Angela, he was also jealous. She had what he should've. He wanted to push those thoughts away since he of all people knew that the past wasn't something you could just "fix." Fate had dealt them different hands, and they'd ended up a generation and a world apart instead of two kids with similar ages and lives.
Cable forced himself not to dwell on what could've been. He knew better.
He took another slice of pizza.
*** *** ***
"So how many years has it been this time?"
Angela grinned from ear to ear when she opened her apartment door to see Cable standing in front of her. "Three," she said, hugging him. "How did you find me?"
"Your little brother told me," Cable replied. "He said you gave strict instructions to let me know where you were if I ever came around and you weren't there."
Angela blushed. "I don't know about strict instructions. I may have said it once…"
Cable smirked. "So you gonna let me in, kid?"
"Yeah, of course." Angela stepped back, letting Cable in.
"So what have you been up to?" Cable asked as Angela shut the door behind him.
"Well, I'm starting my first year of med school," she said.
"Graduate early from college, too?"
"Yes. And I was the top of my class."
"Looks like you have a promising career ahead of you."
"I hope so." She smiled and added with a wink, "I'm on my way to curing a virus."
Cable laughed. "I don't have any doubts that you can, kid."
"So how long are you going to be in town?" Angela asked.
"A couple weeks, I guess. Maybe longer."
"Are you staying with Scott and Jean?"
"No. I tried that before. Not an enjoyable situation. I guess I'll just hole up at the mansion for a while."
"You can't stay there," Angela said. "It's pretty much shut down. There's no electricity or running water in most of it."
"So I'll have to rough it. It's not like that bothers me, Angie."
Angela frowned. "Yeah, well, the thought of you being stuck there like that bothers me. It's winter in New York—you don't need to be sitting around with no heat. Why don't you just stay here?"
"I don't think that would be a good idea."
"Nathan, it would be fine. I have a pull-out couch, so I wouldn't even have to make you sleep on the floor."
Cable smirked. "I'm not exactly a picnic to live with, Angie."
"Yeah, like I'm too naïve to figure that out. Look, with trying to finish up med school as soon as I can, I'm barely even here anyway. You'd have the apartment to yourself most of the time, and you could do whatever it is you do."
Cable knew he shouldn't. He knew he should just go back to the mansion and live in cold darkness. But he couldn't. From the beginning, he'd been drawn to Angela Worthington. "We can try it. But I'm not promising I'm going to stay."
Angela smiled. "Then make yourself at home."
*** *** ***
"So how was class today?"
Angela walked into her apartment, surprised to find Cable cooking dinner. "It was fine… You're not another Cable clone, are you?"
"Yes, I'm Stryfe, come back from the dead—again—to make you food."
"And you call me a smart ass."
"Maybe you're rubbing off on me."
"You know, that actually smells good. Since when did you know how to cook?"
Cable winked at her. "Don't tell anyone."
"So why are you cooking dinner?"
"Because I thought you might be hungry. That and I have this theory that you burn water."
Angela blushed. "How'd you figure that one out?"
"The fact that there's nothing in your kitchen that needs to be cooked with anything but a microwave tipped me off."
"So what did you do, body slide to the grocery store?"
"You're a mess."
"Hey, if you don't mind I'm going to go change into something that's a little more wing-friendly. I'll be back in a few minutes, okay?"
Angela came back shortly, wearing a thin cotton shirt, cut low in the back so her wings could be free. Cable looked up, his breath catching. She was beautiful, like a painting. He dropped the jar of spaghetti sauce he was holding, smashing it to pieces on the floor. "Dammit."
Angela came into the kitchen. "What happened?"
"I, um, slipped."
"Here, why don't you let me clean it up while you get some more?"
"I'm the one that dropped it."
Angela grabbed some paper towels and knelt down, cleaning the sauce off the ground. "So. You can go to the store and back before I can."
"I'll be back in a minute."
Cable was back shortly after Angela finished cleaning up the mess. "I'm sorry about that."
Angela looked up, startled. "Oh, you're back."
"Yeah. Told you I'd only take a minute." Cable reached a hand down to her. "Here, let me help you up."
Angela took his hand. She was lighter than he'd expected, and she stumbled forward, falling against him. She looked up at him and met his eyes before darting her gaze away. "Sorry."
"My fault," Cable said, helping her stand straight again.
"Why don't you go sit on the couch for a bit, Angela. I'm sure you've had a rough day. I'll let you know when the food's ready."
Angie nodded and left the kitchen.
*** *** ***
Angela had refused to let Cable help her with the dishes. She said it was the least she could do, seeing as he had cooked the meal. He leaned on one of the kitchen counters, watching her as she washed their plates in the sink. He couldn't explain his attraction to her. She was beautiful, but he didn't feel so much just drawn to her physically. He wanted to be around her, wanted to be with her. She made him feel what no one else could—relaxed.
"You could at least let me dry them."
"Put them away?"
"No." One of the cabinet doors opened and plates began to fly into their places. "I have that covered."
Angela giggled as she put the last plate away and shut the cabinet. "I need to study for a little bit. Will you be okay out here?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine."
"Let me know if you need anything."
Angela walked over to Cable and stood on her tiptoes, kissing his cheek. "Thanks for dinner."
Cable touched his cheek as he watched her walk out of the kitchen.
*** *** ***
Cable was dozing on the couch when Angela came back out of her room. He woke up to the soft sound of her door opening. She'd put on her glasses and taken off her make-up, and her hair was pulled up in a messy cross between a ponytail and a bun. She still took his breath away.
"I didn't mean to wake you," she said. "I was just coming out to get a glass of water before I go to bed."
"It's all right," Cable replied. "I tend to be a light sleeper anyway."
"Yeah, it makes sense you would be."
"You look tired."
"I've been pushing myself pretty hard recently. I guess it's taking its toll."
"Why don't you take a break? Your brother said you even take a full class load in the summer."
Angela sat down beside Cable on the couch. "I don't want to. I don't feel like waiting around to finish med school just so I can start residency. I want to be a real doctor. There's no point in postponing it with a summer break that's just a chance to sit around and be lazy."
"People can only push themselves so far, Angela. You don't want to burn yourself out before you even graduate."
"I'll make time to relax when I achieve worldwide recognition in the medical community."
"You don't set low goals for yourself, do you?"
Angela sighed. "It's just…I don't know, this probably sounds a little crazy."
"Angie, you're talking to a Summers. Nothing sounds crazy to us."
"It's, well, sometimes I feel like I don't have a lot of time left. Like I have to hurry up or I'll never have the chance to finish."
Cable frowned. "Do you have any reason to feel that way?"
"No. But recently, it's been getting worse." Angela sighed. "It's probably just anxiety."
Cable reached out slowly, putting his hands on her shoulders. He rubbed them softly, afraid he'd break her if he wasn't gentle. "Is this all right?" he asked.
Angela relaxed against his hands. "Yeah. It feels nice."
Her skin was warm, and Cable wanted to hold her against him and keep her safe from anything that could make her hard like most of the people he knew. She deserved good things in life, deserved to be happy. He stopped, pulling away. "You're probably tired."
"Yeah, a little."
"Go on to bed. I'll see you in the morning."
Angela smiled at him. "Good night, Nathan."
Cable lay back on the couch, but it was quite awhile before he fell back asleep.
*** *** ***
Cable was surprised to find himself actually enjoying staying with Angela. He felt he could be relaxed around her, never having to worry about what sort of problems could arise. He'd even stopped sleeping with his gun directly beside him. Granted, it was still close, but at least it wasn't in the bed.
He'd started cooking for her and straightening up a little when she was at school, and she'd told him he was making things easier on her, taking some of the stress out of her life. He liked to think he was doing that, liked to think he wasn't just dead weight around her apartment. He realized just about all the X-Men probably thought he was long gone by then, but he didn't care. He was content with the way his life was.
Cable waited anxiously for Angela to get home from her classes. He hadn't made anything for dinner that night, and he hoped that his gamble was actually going to pan out. He looked up as soon as she opened the door, searching her face for clues on how her day might have been.
As soon as she saw Cable, Angela grinned, her smile spreading from ear to ear. "I got it," she said. "I got in Dr. Mitchell's group."
Cable walked over and hugged her. "I knew you could, Angie. I had faith in you. Dr. Mitchell said he wanted the best students there, and you definitely fall in that category."
"You give me too much credit, Nathan."
"You don't give yourself nearly enough. But go get yourself dressed. We're going out to eat tonight."
Angela raised an eyebrow. "We are? Where?"
"Someplace nice. Call it a…celebration dinner. Now go put on a dress."
"Does that mean you have to wear something nice, too?"
"It's happened before."
"I'll believe it when I see it."
Cable gave her a dirty look. "Well you will if you quit being your regular smartass self and go get dressed."
Angela gave Cable her most dazzling smile before hurrying into her bedroom.
*** *** ***
Cable stopped short when Angela came back out of her room. She was wearing a light purple dress that complemented the highlights of her hair perfectly and seemed to make her eyes look even bluer.
"You look…beautiful," Cable said when he realized he was staring.
"You don't look half bad yourself," Angela said with a smirk. "Never thought I'd see you in a tie."
"Yeah, well, commit it to memory, because you probably won't see it again. So you ready to go?"
"Just let me get my coat out of the closet, and I will be."
Cable waited for Angela to get her coat, then helped her slip it over her wings. He offered her his arm, and they walked out of the apartment together.
*** *** ***
Angela had fallen asleep on the cab ride back, and Cable carried her up the stairs, not wanting to have to wake her up, since he knew how little she'd been sleeping recently. He carried her to the bedroom taking off her coat and shoes and setting her on the bed without waking her.
He watched her for a moment, marveling at how the moonlight coming in from the window made her look even more beautiful. Her complexion was flawless, her face like that of a porcelain doll. He reached out and stroked her face once, wanting suddenly more than anything just to touch her skin.
Angela's eyes fluttered open. "Nathan? Where are we?"
"Home," he said. "I took you up to bed. Go back to sleep, all right?"
Angela smiled at him. "Thank you. For dinner. That was nice."
"Yeah, it was."
Angela sat up, trying to undo the clasp that held up part of her hair. "It'll bother me if I sleep with it up," she said.
Cable reached over and helped her, his hand lingering in her hair even after it was down. Angela looked up at him, and he could see her trembling. He leaned in and kissed her lightly on the lips, relishing her cool, clean taste. He kissed her for a few moments, never deepening the kiss, just touching her lips with his softly. All too soon for Angela, he pulled away, brushing her hair away from her face and handing her her hairclip. "Good night, Angie."
Angela looked at him with confusion for a moment before taking the clip from him. "Good night, Nathan."
He kissed her forehead before leaving her bedroom and shutting the door behind him.
*** *** ***
Cable sat on the couch, wondering what had just happened. Why had he kissed Angela? That wasn't the sort of relationship he wanted with her, was it? What did he want? He'd wanted to kiss her, had enjoyed kissing her, but he hadn't felt the sort of urgency he had with women before. He wished he'd stayed in there more for the fact that he wanted her next to him still, not because he knew she would've probably let him make love to her.
Cable punched a throw pillow in frustration. Why didn't things make sense to him? He wasn't used to being confused—not like this—and he didn't like it. She was barely twenty years old. She didn't need him. She was drawn to him for whatever reason, but that didn't mean he should give in to the feelings he was developing towards her himself. He could be her friend, but not more. It wouldn't be good for Angela.
Cable pulled off his tie and flopped back on the couch. He'd taken on Apocalypse with a cool head—why was some tiny woman bothering him?
"Because you want her, you idiot," he chided himself. "You want her to love you."
Cable sighed. But could he let himself love her? People that got close to him got hurt. He'd learned that lesson hard with Aliya. He wanted to keep Angela safe. Was loving her worth the risk?
Cable heard a beeping noise and cursed under his breath. That sound could mean only one thing—someone was trying to contact him, and whoever it was was probably in trouble.
He sighed as he went to answer it, hoping it was at least something worth his time.
*** *** ***
Angela woke up the next morning, the memory of Nathan's kiss still in the forefront of her mind. She wanted to know why he'd kissed her—and why he'd left so soon. She reached out, trying to touch his mind, and frowned when she realized he wasn't in the apartment. She put a robe over the nightgown she'd put on the night before after he'd left her, and went out of her room.
She felt her heart drop when she saw that he was gone, and that he'd left a note on her fridge. Did he not even have the decency to let her down in person? She'd always thought Cable had more integrity than that.
She took the note off the fridge and read it:
Sorry I had to leave so quickly. Something came up that I couldn't ignore. I'll be back soon, and we can talk.
Angie let out a deep breath. So he hadn't left suddenly. And he wanted to talk to her. Could he possibly have feelings for her? She kept herself from getting her hopes up as far as that went. She'd been waiting for Cable to notice her as long as she could remember. Something inside her had always pulled her to Nathan, always made her long to be near him, and the thought that he'd realized she'd grown up was more than she could stand to entertain without knowing it was the absolute truth.
So she went about with her life as if it were any other day. Nathan would be back soon—she knew he meant that since he hadn't even taken all his guns—and then they could talk, and she'd know for certain if he felt what she did.
*** *** ***
It was several days until Angela awoke knowing she wasn't alone in her house, but she knew in an instant that it wasn't Cable.
She walked out to the living room and froze as she looked over the bar. She'd never met the woman who was standing in her kitchen making coffee before, but who she was was obvious. And she was wearing one of Cable's shirts.
"Domino," Angela said, trying to keep her voice from wavering.
Domino turned around. "You must be Angela. Cable told me Warren and Betsy Worthington's little girl lived her."
Angela felt herself trembling. "I'm not a little girl."
"Of course you're not."
"Where's Nathan?" Angela asked.
"He stepped out for a moment."
"Tell him I want to speak with him when he gets back," Angela said, storming back into her bedroom and slamming the door before Domino could respond.
Cable came in a few minutes later. "The girl's mad," Domino said. "She's in the bedroom, and she said she wants to talk to you."
"Dammit," Cable muttered. "What did you say to her, Dom?"
"Nothing!" Domino replied. "She just saw me and freaked. You're not sleeping with her, are you Nathan?"
"It's none of your business, but no."
"So why is she being so bitchy?"
"Let me think, Dom—you're standing in her kitchen, wearing my shirt. Why do you think she's being 'bitchy?'"
"Why would she care if you're not even with her?"
Cable sighed. "Things between us are…complicated. Look, you should probably just go."
"Just like that?" Domino asked, her jaw dropping a little. "Nathan, I haven't seen you in years, and now you just want me gone in less than twenty-four hours?"
"You needed my help, and I gave it to you. You're out of a sticky situation, and your clothes should be dry now. There's no reason for you to stick around."
"So that's it, huh? Years and years of whatever it was we had, and that's it."
Cable looked away. "Dom, we said we were ending it for good a long time ago."
"We've said that before."
He looked back up at her. "Is that why you called me the other night? Because you wanted to give it another go?"
"I was hoping."
"I'm sorry, Dom, but I can't. I'm too old for this now."
"So you're trying to infuse some youth back in your life with that child-woman in there?" Domino asked angrily.
"That isn't it at all!"
"Then what is it, Nathan? What is she?"
"I don't know! Dammit, Domino, I don't need this in my life right now, okay? I'm sorry, I really am, but I can't do it again. I'm just not the man I used to be."
"No, you're not."
"Don't be, Nathan. Like you said, this ended a long time ago." She gave him a half smile. "Besides, I knew my luck with you would have to run out sooner or later."
Cable started to say something, but Domino held up her hand to silence him. "Don't." She kissed Nathan softly. "Go talk to her."
Cable nodded. "Good bye."
Cable found Angela standing beside her bedroom window, watching the activity on the street below. "Hey," he said softly.
Angela turned around, her face red from crying, and Cable felt a twinge of pain in his heart. He'd hurt Domino, he was hurting Angela. Why couldn't things just be easier for him?
"Why was she here?" Angela asked.
"She isn't anymore,"
"That doesn't answer my question."
"It wasn't what it looked like, Angie. She called me; I helped her out. She needed a place to rest last night, and her clothes were sopping wet. I put an end to whatever the hell it was I had with that woman a long time ago."
"So what about us, Nathan?"
Cable didn't want to have to discuss the inevitable, not then. "What about us, Angie?"
"Where do I stand with you?" she asked. "I need to know, Nathan. Is this going to go anyplace beyond friendship?"
Cable thought of a million things he could say to her to try to explain what he felt, and what he had to do about it. He wanted to tell her that she and effected him in ways he couldn't even begin to explain, and that she meant more to him than anyone else in the world. "No."
Angela's lip trembled. "I want more than that, Nathan. I have for a long time."
"I know." Cable wanted to hold her then, tell her he never wanted to leave her side, that he wanted her with him for as long as time would allow. "I don't think I should be here anymore."
Angela wanted anything but for Cable to leave. "I think that would be for the best."
Cable left Angela alone to cry.
*** *** ***
Angela knew her friends had been well-intentioned with their "get Angie drunk so she can forget that guy" plan, but at the moment it seemed anything but helpful. They were trying to hook her up with every guy who walked past, and she was starting to wonder just how desperate they thought she was.
"I can believe you've had this guy around for two months and you never mentioned him to us," her friend Sandy said. "Was he too much of a dud to dish on?"
"I didn't think it had any potential for a relationship, I guess," Angela said, not really wanting to discuss Nathan, even though he was, in a way, the center of the night's activities. "And he was not a dud. Believe me."
"Yeah, well, you're better than him," said Carolyn, the girl to her right. "You're amazing, Ange. You deserve better than someone who would let his ex hang around your apartment like that."
"It was just one night," Angela said. "And nothing happened."
Sandy rolled her eyes. "Right. Nothing. Men don't have their ex-girlfriends running around in their shirts for nothing. Think about it, Angela, if his story was true, wouldn't he had woken you up and let you know what was going on? Maybe even gotten some of your clothes for her if hers were sooo unwearable."
"He probably just didn't want to bother me." Angela replied. "He knows how tired I get."
"Or he was feeling guilty because he was banging some other woman right there in your house," Carolyn said.
"He's a man, Angie," Sandy said. "They don't pass up free fucks. Especially with someone they had a wild past with."
"Then why didn't he want me?" Angela asked.
"Because you're the good girl," Sandy said. "The icon of purity, yadda yadda yadda. Men are gross about that. They want you to be their beacon of light to guide them to the port in the storm of life, not ride them hard when they need it. That's for women like Kitchen Girl."
"Nathan isn't like that," Angie said. "He just thought it would be best if we didn't try to make what we have a relationship."
"Bullshit," Carolyn said, taking a sip of her drink. "He didn't want to have to let himself see that you're a real woman. If he leaves, he can carry your image around all untainted—like Dr. Zhavago."
Angela ordered another drink, suddenly glad the bartended hadn't bothered to card her. "Nathan knows I'm real."
"Angela, sweetie, you're young, you haven't had a lot of experience with the male of the species," Sandy said. "Carolyn and I, we've been in the trenches—we know what they're like, No matter how wonderful this Nathan guy seemed, he's just like the rest of them."
Angela drank quickly and ordered another one. "I don't want him to be," she said softly.
Carolyn gave her a sympathetic look. "That's the tragic part about it. You never want them to be, but they always are."
*** *** ***
"Where the hell have you been?"
Angela jumped. "Nathan! What are you doing here?"
"I was waiting for you!" Cable yelled. "Where have you been?"
"I've been…" Angela stopped in mid-sentence when she stumbled and almost fell. Cable ran to her and caught her.
He frowned. "You smell like alcohol."
"Why do you care, Crazy Eye?"
"Crazy Eye Summers. That should be your name with that flashy thing it's always doing."
"Wow you're drunk."
"Yeah, well, fuck you."
Cable scooped her up in his arms. "Come on, Angie. I'm getting you to bed."
"No you're not! I can walk in there on my own!" Angela yelled, using her wing to hit him on the top of the head.
"Would you knock that off?" Cable snapped.
"Will you put me down?"
Cable tossed her on the bed. "There, you're down. Happy now?"
"Go to sleep. You're going to be up early enough as it is with the hang over you're going to have."
"I'm not going to sleep! I want you to leave me alone. I…!"
Cable reached out with his telepathy, gently nudging her mind to sleep. He sighed, sitting beside her on the bed. He hadn't gotten very far before he realized he needed her. The past two months had been the happiest he could remember, and that was because of Angela. He wanted to tell her that he did need more than friendship from her, but now he wasn't sure.
He'd hurt her. He'd tried to protect her, and he'd hurt her. She looked so young to him suddenly, and he hated himself being selfish enough to think a relationship with her would be for the best. He doubted she'd be able to spend her entire life sheltered from pain, but he didn't want to be the person to cause it all. Angela would be happier with someone more like her, not someone who just wished he was.
Cable knew even as he was leaving that he'd never forget her. He'd carry her with him until the day he died—she meant too much to him be anything less. But he'd still have to leave, for her sake. With him out of the picture, she could find someone to love her the way she should be loved, someone who wasn't broken.
When Angela woke, all she found was a note with the scribbled words "I'm sorry."
*** *** ***
The last person Cable expected to find sitting on Scott and Jean's porch three years later was Warren Worthington IV. The sight of him brought back so many memories of the boy's sister, memories he'd spent many a cold, lonely night trying to destroy.
"What are you doing here, kid?"
Rachel was sitting beside Warren, and Cable realized he hadn't even noticed her before she spoke. "The Worthingtons are over here for dinner, Nate," she said. "When you just show up unexpectedly every few years, it's a little hard for us to plan our social functions accordingly."
"I'll remember that," Cable said, going in through the front door. She's said the Worthingtons. As in the whole family. Was their daughter included in that? He'd told himself that this time was going to be a quick trip without any contact with Angela, but the thought of seeing her, even for a moment, pushed that resolution quickly to the side.
He found her quickly enough. Sitting on the couch talking to a man he'd never seen before. Cable felt anger quickly rising to the surface. He went over to her. "Angela."
Angie jumped off the couch, he expression one of shock. "Nathan! What are you doing here?"
"This is my family's house," Cable snapped. "What are you doing here?"
"Having dinner," Angela snapped back.
"Um, who are you?"
Angela blushed when she realized that she'd completely forgotten about the man with her until he'd spoken. "Kerrigan, I'm sorry," she said, trying to regain her composure. "This is Nathan—and old friend of mine. Nathan, this is Kerrigan, my fiancé."
Kerrigan stood up to shake Cable's hand. Cable looked him up and down. "I don't like him."
Kerrigan pulled his hand back. "Excuse me?"
Angela positioned herself between Cable and Kerrigan. "Um, Scott and Jean are in the backyard with my parents if you want to talk to them."
Cable gave Kerrigan a good glare. "See you around, Angie."
"So who the hell was that?" Kerrigan asked once Cable was gone.
"A friend. Well, former friend, I guess."
"What! No!" Angela exclaimed. "What makes you ask that?"
"Well, he hated me on sight. Usually a sign of jealousy."
"Nathan's, um, like that. He hates pretty much everyone. Don't take it personally."
"A little hard not to. And was his hand metal?"
"It's a long story."
Angela kissed Kerrigan. "I'm sorry, darling, I really am. Nathan just doesn't know quite how to act sometimes."
Kerrigan smiled. "It's all right, dear. As long as he isn't around too much once we're married, I don't think he'll be a problem."
"Don't worry about that," Angela replied bitterly. "He has a problem sticking around anyway."
Kerrigan decided not to comment.
*** *** ***
Cable didn't normally pay much attention to the date. Time had stopped meaning anything to him long ago anyway. But that day he knew, that date had burned in his mind ever since Scott had told it to him. By the end of it, Angela Worthington would be someone else's wife. He'd spent three years telling himself he didn't love her, but the moment he'd seen her with that man he knew it wasn't true. Now he was trying to tell himself that letting her go was what was best for both of them.
He wasn't having any better luck with that.
Scott had told him that Angela was getting married at the mansion, wanting a wedding similar to her own parents. He could body slide there with no problem, be there before Angela even began to walk down the aisle. She had wanted more from him once, why not then?
He didn't take the time to think about it anymore. He body slided right into her dressing room. Angela looked up in the mirror and saw him, and he clamped his hand over her mouth before she could scream.
Angela pushed him off her. "What the hell are you doing in here?"
"I came to talk you out of marrying that guy."
"Whatever. Look, I don't think you should marry him. He's all wrong for you."
"Cable, you don't even know him."
Cable started for a moment. Angela had never called him Cable… "I can just tell, Angie. You shouldn't be with him."
Angela crossed her hands over her chest and glared. "Then who should I be with?"
"You? You had your chance three years ago, and you blew it."
"Angie, please. I've had a lot of time to think, a lot of time to sort out what I feel for you. I've felt this attraction to you, something I can't quite explain, and the longer I've known you, the stronger it's gotten. I have to be with you."
"No. I'm marrying Kerrigan and that's that."
Cable didn't want to take no for an answer. He grabbed her, kissing her as hard as he could. Angela fought him for only a moment before melting against him. Cable pulled back slowly, looking down into her eyes. He started to kiss her again, but Angela turned her head away.
"You're not the man who's supposed to be kissing me while I'm wearing this dress."
Cable knew then she wasn't going to change her mind. He dropped his arms to his sides. "Do you love him?"
"Good luck in life, Angela."
"You, too, Nathan."
Cable vanished in a bright light, and for a moment Angela had to wonder if he'd even really been there.
*** *** ***
"Angela Worthington is dying."
Cable stared at Scott for a moment, unable to fully process what he'd just been told. "What?"
"Angela Worthington—Warren's daughter—she's dying."
"No. No, she isn't. She's young."
Scott winced at the look in Cable's eyes. "Nathan, she has Legacy Virus."
Legacy Virus. The words echoed in Cable's head, and he couldn't help but feel a sudden rush of guilt, as if his existence was causing Angela to be sick. "There are treatments for that, Scott. Hank and Moira, they made treatments."
"The treatments only prolong the effects. She's still very sick, and getting weaker by the day. She'll probably gain some strength back once she's been on the treatments for a while, but as it is, she only has five, maybe ten years left. If she's lucky. Not everyone's reacted well to the treatment."
"Can't it be something else?" Cable asked. "Can't the diagnosis be wrong?"
"No. It's Legacy. She's had third, fourth, and fifth opinions. Warren's paid every doctor he knows to try to find something Hank missed."
Nathan wanted to hurt something, wanted to hurt fate for allowing Angela to be sick. She was the last person he knew who would deserve anything like that. "Where is she now?"
"She has an apartment with her husband in the city."
"I want to see her."
"I don't know if that's a good idea," Scott said. "She's in bad shape right now, while she's adjusting to the treatments. She doesn't need any extra stress."
"We were fighting, the last time I saw her. If something were to happen, Scott, I couldn't let that be it with her. I have to talk to her. I have to see her. Even if it's just so she can tell me to leave and never come back, I can't let the chance pass."
The pain in Cable's voice took Scott by surprise. He knew that Nathan had had somewhat of a friendship with Angela, but he had no idea that Cable cared quite as much as he appeared to. "I think Jean has her address. I'll see if I can get it."
Scott just nodded.
*** *** ***
"Is Angela here?"
Kerrigan recognized the man immediately as the one he'd met a few months before, at the Summerses. "She's resting."
"Please, I need to speak to her," Cable said, glaring at the man in front of him.
"Look, I don't know what you think your relationship with my wife is, but you can just leave now. Angie doesn't need anymore stress in her life."
"Kerrigan, who's at the door?"
Cable looked up at the sound of Angela's voice. She was so pale and thin, and he felt a lump grow in his throat. "Angie?"
She smiled, and the sight of it tore Cable apart. She looked so weak. "Hey, Nathan."
"I heard you're not feeling too good, baby."
"She has the Legacy Virus," Kerrigan snapped. "I think 'not feeling too good' is a bit of an understatement."
Cable turned around and grabbed Kerrigan by the collar. "Listen, punk, I know all about the Legacy Virus, so don't even start lecturing me on…" Cable stopped when he felt Angela's hand on his shoulder.
Cable dropped Kerrigan to the ground. "I'm sorry, Angie."
Kerrigan stood up and dusted himself off. "Angela, you're not well enough for…company," he said, glaring at Cable. "Tell him to leave."
Angela started to say something, but then stopped and lowered her eyes. "He's right, Nathan. I'll call you when I'm feeling a little better, all right?"
"Do you actually want me to leave, Angela?"
"She does," Kerrigan said quickly.
"I wasn't talking to you," Cable said. "She can talk for herself."
"I…I think it'll be for the best," Angela said softly.
Cable knew that wasn't really a direct answer to his question, but he didn't want to cause Angela any more stress by staying. He kissed her softly on the forehead, relishing the ire he saw in Kerrigan's eyes. "Call me when you can. I'll be staying with Scott and Jean for a little while."
"I will," Angela said, a slight blush on her cheeks exaggerated by her pale skin. "Thank you for stopping by, Nathan."
"It was my pleasure."
Cable gave a nod to Kerrigan before shutting the door for himself.
*** *** ***
It was months before Cable heard from Angela again. She called him late, her voice strangled by tears.
He sat up in the bed, concern covering his face. "Angela, is that you?"
"What's wrong? Are you okay?"
"Kerrigan…Kerrigan left me."
Cable had the sudden urge to get up right then, hunt down Kerrigan, and kill him in the slowest and most painful way possible. "He left you? Why?"
"He said…he said he didn't sign up to be the husband of a terminally ill woman. Apparently the 'in sickness and in health' part of the vows didn't apply to him."
Cable wanted to kill Kerrigan even more. "Where are you now, baby?"
"I'm at home. I'm alone, and I'm too weak to get up. I need to get out of bed and get my medicine, and I can't." Angela began to cry harder.
More homicidal urges towards Kerrigan. What sort of man just walked out on his bedridden wife? "I can be over there in a second, okay Angela? Just sit tight."
"Thank you, Nathan."
Cable hung up the phone and immediately body slided to Angela's bedside. She looked haggard and pale, and Cable heart ached. "Where's your medicine?"
"Down stairs. In the cabinet in the kitchen. I need the yellow pills."
"Right." Cable was gone and back within seconds. He sat down beside Angela and helped her take her pills. "You all right now?"
Angela nodded. "Thank you. I'm sorry if I woke you up or anything—I just didn't know who else to call."
Cable smoothed down Angela's hair. "Don't worry about that. I'll always be here to take care of you."
Angela fell over on him and burst into tears. "Oh Nathan, I just want to die!"
Nathan rubbed her back softly. "Don't say that, Angie. You have so much to live for. And the treatments will make you better soon."
"But I'll still be sick! I'm a doctor, I'm supposed to make people better, not be the one who needs help!"
Nathan leaned back so he could take her face in his hands and look into her eyes. "You're going to be okay, Angela. You're going to make it through this."
"Nathan, Legacy Virus is fatal. No matter how many of these damn pills I take, I'm still going to die, probably before I'm even out of my thirties."
"You always said you wanted to cure a virus," Cable said softly. "You can sure this one."
"No, Nathan. I can't. It's going to kill me."
"What is, is. You told me that."
"Well it doesn't apply to this!" Cable yelled, jumping off the bed. "You are not going to die. Stryfe is not going to take you away from me!"
Angela looked up at him in shock. "Stryfe?" She paused for a second, then asked, "Nathan, do you blame yourself for this?"
"If I never existed, he never would've either, and you wouldn't be sick right now."
"Don't say that, please. I'd rather die right now than live a thousand years never knowing you."
Cable looked at her, and Angela almost thought she saw tears in his eyes, although she couldn't be sure. "I love you, Angela. I have for a long time…"
"Now isn't the time, Nathan," she said softly. "My husband just walked out on me."
Cable took a deep breath. "I know." He sat back down beside her and took her hand in his. "Don't give up on me. Promise me that you won't give up. Fight this thing, Angie. You're stronger than any virus."
"I don't think I have much strength left to fight."
"Then don't let Kerrigan win."
Angie looked at him, startled, "What do you mean?"
"He doesn't want an invalid wife? Then let yourself get stronger. Show the fucker what he walked out on."
Angela smirked. "You have a bit of a vindictive streak, don't you?"
"Just a little."
"I'll…I'll do what I can."
Nathan gave her a nod. He knew it was the best he could hope for then. "You probably need some rest."
Angela gripped his arm. "Stay here with me. I don't want to sleep alone tonight."
Cable couldn't bring himself to turn down that request. He lay down beside her and pulled her against his chest, stroking her hair until she fell asleep.
*** *** ***
"It's good to see you up and walking around."
"Feels good to be out of that bed." Angela smiled, then frowned. "You know you don't have to take care of me, Nathan. I'm getting stronger."
"I want to be."
"This isn't your fault."
"In a way, it is."
"Please, don't blame yourself. Stryfe created the Legacy Virus, not you."
Nathan pushed a strand of Angela's hair behind her ears. "You're so beautiful, Angie. You don't deserve this. You deserve a perfect life, with no pain."
"Things happen for a reason, Nathan."
"No. I used to think maybe that was true, but I don't believe it anymore." He sighed. "They told me I was the 'Chosen One,' that my meaning in life was to defeat Apocalypse. Well in the end, was it me? No, it was Scott. So why me? Why did I have to exist? Why did I have to suffer my whole life just so the final blow to that monster could be by someone else? I was sent into the future to save it? Well, the world I knew then will never exist, so why am I here? There's nothing to save. That's my destiny, and there's nothing to save. Everything that's happened to me hasn't happened for a reason, Angela. It's been a fluke. And then you, beautiful, smart, kind, and you have this. Where's the reasoning behind that?"
"But think about everything you have done, Nathan. You've done so much good, despite what you may believe. And as for me, it isn't my place to question—just to accept."
"You can't just accept a death sentence!"
"I can't fight it, Nathan! It's not an enemy that you can just shoot with a plasma rifle! I'm sick! It's not an external threat!"
"But I want to!" Cable leaned against a counter and hung his head. "I want to fix it."
" I used to be grateful that if Aliya had to die, at least she died quickly. I couldn't stand the thought of having to watch her slip away. But now seeing you like this, I realize how wrong that was. I feel like as long as you're alive, I still have a chance. Like time is slowing down enough for me to save you."
Angela took his hand. "But time isn't slowing down, Nathan. It's moving just as quickly as it always does for the rest of us."
"Ten years is like an hour to me. I need you for longer. I need you forever."
"Why? Why me?"
"I don't know." Nathan laughed slightly. "I've never known. I told myself it was something I could fight, that you were just another person I'd know in passing. But you're not Angela. You've made me wonder if there's such a thing as a soulmate."
Cable didn't let her talk. "You know, I wonder sometimes. I wouldn't be that much older than you, had I just aged in this timeline. Were we meant to be, Angie? Was I supposed to grow up and love you? Did it just get postponed?"
"I thought things didn't happen for a reason. I thought the whole universe was random."
"Still strong enough to be a smartass, I see."
Angela smirked. "Always."
*** *** ***
"I can just keep taking care of you. I don't mind. Really."
Angela sighed, rubbing her temples. "I know, Nathan, but I think this will be better for everyone involved."
"Do you honestly think that living with your parents is going to be easy? No offense, Angie, but I mean come on. Have you met your parents?"
Angela gave him a dirty look. "It's just until I've gained enough strength to take care of myself again, Nathan."
"When will that be? You're getting stronger, but you still get tired out easily. A couple times I've found you completely unable to walk on your own."
"I'm just taking things one day at a time. And really, this is best. For you, too."
"No, it isn't." Nathan crossed his arms in front of him. "You're afraid."
"Afraid!?" Angela asked, her eyes wide in surprise. "Afraid of what?"
"Of whatever this is between us. You're afraid that if you stick around me much longer that you'll stop being able to tell me it's for the best if we don't love each other."
"Well if I am afraid of being in love with you, I have good reason to be."
"Oh yeah? Give me one."
"My divorce isn't even final yet!" Angela yelled. "That's one right there!"
"It isn't a good one!" Cable yelled back. "I'm not Kerrigan, and anything we have is in no way related to him!"
"So you want an answer that's related to us then? How about this, Nate? I can't trust my heart with you! The first time I tried to be in love with you, you threw it in my face! And look at you! You're Cable. You're not exactly known for your tendency to be nurturing and loving. You're the heartless mercenary who does whatever he needs to to reach the end he needs, even if it means tossing aside the people you profess to love."
Cable blinked, staring at her in shock before his face went impassive again. "I thought you knew me, Angela."
Angela looked away.
"Maybe you're right. Maybe it is better if we're apart."
"I'm glad you see it that way."
"Yeah." Cable let out a deep breath. "I'll help you pack."
Angela's eyes held no light. "Thank you."
*** *** ***
When Cable had first heard that Sam Guthrie's little sister was attempting to form a new team of X-Men, he hadn't paid much attention.
When he found out she'd sent them into battle with all of about a week's worth of training, he had. He had a feeling those kids were going to be in trouble, and his suspicions hadn't been wrong.
Their first battle, and they'd already lost one of their own. He felt for the kids, knew what sort of loss that was. He was angry at Paige for thinking they'd be ready so soon, for pushing them so quickly, for abandoning them to fight on their own.
They needed someone experienced to be by their side in battle. Otherwise, they were all as good as dead. Cable appointed himself that on the way back to the mansion. He didn't care what had happened between him and X-Force, or what their parents would say to see Cable training them. They needed a mentor, and he missed having a team.
He didn't doubt his decision until he walked into the mansion and felt her. Her presence was clear, like a bright, beautiful beacon in his mind.
He didn't look at her when he entered the room. It was easy to pretend she wasn't there. Everyone was upset over the loss of one of the new X-Men. Until she touched his arm to stop him from going after one of the children.
At the touch of her fingers, everything stopped for Cable. He looked down into her eyes and couldn't breathe. He shook his head, making himself look as unemotional as he usually did.
And when he told Paige he'd be willing to help out with the kids, he suppressed a smile at the fact that he'd have an excuse to be near Angela Worthington day in and day out.
Cable decided right then that he'd wear her down if it took an eternity.
*** *** ***
He followed her quietly the first night. Always just a step behind. He knew that technically, what he was doing could be considered stalking, but he didn't care. When he had a goal, Cable followed it to the end.
He leaned against a wall, silently listening to a conversation between Angela and two of the kids—he was pretty sure that one was Wolverine's, and the other Bobby Drake's. He knew she was going to fall a second before she did, and he body slided over to her, catching her in his arms. She looked up at him with surprise, and for a moment, it was like time actually did stop for Cable. But then he began to breathe again, and he had to let her go.
She was still trembling when he walked out of the room, and he knew it wasn't from her sickness. He smirked. Let her think about him a little.
Still, he didn't go far.
The two girls were teasing her about him. And she was blushing.
Cable walked off to his new room smirking to himself.
*** *** ***
She'd always said she was going to cure a virus, and Cable certainly didn't find it in the least bit surprising that the one she'd chosen to cure was the one that was eating away at her.
What did surprise him, however, was his agreement to help her cure the Legacy Virus. Cable had never been one to spend much time sitting around, looking at microbes through a microscope, after all.
But it was Angela. And he'd do anything to help her. He'd willingly trade his own life for her if he could.
Still, working with Angie on the virus brought them close day in and day out. More times than Cable could count, something had happened, and he'd almost kissed her. But every time she'd pull away, and he was beginning to wonder if he was wrong in thinking she could actually ever love him. Sure, she'd had a crush on him years before, but now? She was older and on the tail end of a divorce. Why would she want someone who would enter the relationship with more baggage than would fit in a passenger jet?
They'd worked late in the lab that night. Angela insisted, even though she usually ended up falling asleep on her desk, and Cable would have to carry her to her room.
Not that he minded. Any chance he had to hold her suited him just fine.
He tossed and turned in bed for a while that night, before he just got up, abandoning the notion that he would get any sleep that night. He walked over to the window, looking over the grounds of the mansion. He blinked, unable if he was seeing correctly. He frowned when he realized he was. Angela. Flying. As tired as she'd been that night, he knew she was taking a huge risk pushing herself like that.
Cable turned pale when he realized just how right he'd been. He heard her scream as she began to plummet out of the sky. He wasted no time bodysliding out to her, getting there just in time to catch her in his arms.
Angela blinked, slowly trying to catch her breath. "Nathan?"
"You…you caught me."
"I'll always be there to catch you."
Angela looked up at him, her breathing heavy. "Always?"
"Yeah, always. You said before that you trusted me with your heart, and I let you down, but I've been here ever since. For almost five years, I've loved you, only you." Nathan tightened his grip on her slightly. "I've never felt like I really needed anything, like I've been dependant on something to the point that I couldn't live without it, but that's you, Angela. Please, don't push me away anymore. I…"
Nathan stopped in mid-sentence as Angela kissed him hard. She pulled away after a moment and looked at him with a sly grin. "You're rambling, Crazy-Eye."
Nathan smirked. "What would you rather me be doing then, Dr. Worthington?"
Angela knew then that she couldn't run from him anymore. There was no way for her to deny that whether it was fate or just a fluke, she belonged with Nathan Christopher Charles Summers. "You could start by going inside with me," Angela replied. "I wager we can figure out where to go from there."
She smiled warmly at him, and Cable could almost forget the pain he'd always known. He set her back on her feet, and the two walked into the mansion hand in hand.
*** *** ***
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