Spoilers: Belongs in the Time, Tide, and Trauma universe at the below listed

link.

Characters: Domino and Rachel.

Disclaimer: Everything that isn't Marvel's is Timey's. Yes, I'm an

equal-opportunity character-stealer. Archiving: The rest of the series

along with this story) can be found at 1407greymalkinlane.com . This story

will also go up on FF.net.

Notes: Done solely because Timey handed me the munchkin and badgered me

into working on it. Proof, yet again, that I'm a huge pansy when it comes to

puppy-eyes. And I'm sure I've forgotten something, but ah, well. Enjoy!

***

And Oranges

by A.j.

***

This... was not how it was supposed to be.

Dom tapped her nails on the steering wheel and tried not to glower. It

was lunchtime and everyone in the surrounding area had suddenly decided to

hit the main drag for fried food and sugar. Fair play to them, but did they

have to do it today?

In front of her, a blue Porsche veered into the McDonald's parking lot,

cutting off an Escalade. Horns resounded and for all of five seconds, Dom

could pretend she was in New York City rather than one of its overpriced

backwater suburbs.

She'd always found it rather amusing that some of the most wanted

terrorists on the planet made Westchester County home. Then again, they did

fit right in with the mob bosses.

"We there yet?"

"No."

"How long?"

Dom tapped her fingernails some more and glowered at the teenager making

googly eyes at her the next car over. "Five more minutes."

Behind her, comfortably strapped into her zebra-print safety-seat, Rachel

nodded her pigtails and went back to waving her middle fingers at passing

pedestrians. Jean was so going to kill her for that. Or probably Scott. But

it was New York, and what could you really do when some idiot tries to

flatten your borrowed Volvo station wagon with attached sister-in-law?

Too bad she hadn't had her grenades. Although, Scott would probably frown

more at that then having his baby daughter flipping everyone off.

Traffic edged forward again, the light having turned. Where had all these

people come from? Salem Center had all of ten stoplights, and it wasn't even

tourist season. Most of the lake homes on Lake Purdy were shut tighter than

a drum, yachts and boats merrily dry-docked.

Hell, the only reason she was here was because Jean had decided she and

Nate needed a little Quality Time as mother and son. Since everyone -

including Scott - was off blowing things up in New Zealand, this left Dom

with keys to the Volvo and an afternoon with Rachel.

Not that she minded much. Jean had used pretty much every excuse in the

book to shove the kid off on her from eight months onwards. The woman had an

unhealthy obsession with becoming a grandmother before the age of

thirty-five.

The light turned again, allowing Dom to pull into the McDonalds parking

lot, just in time for Rachel to 'salute' the passengers of the blue

Porsche.

Dom quirked her lips as she caught the gesture in the rearview. "You

probably shouldn't do that to everyone. It's a rude gesture that's reserved

for morons."

Rachel furrowed her eyebrows and considered this, but tucked her fingers

into fists. She nodded to herself and looked like she was having some

serious pondering issues all the while Dom was unstrapping zebra buckles.

When she finally managed to unhook the child - not resorting to her pocket

knife - Rachel was back to grinning.

She scooped the girl up, planting her firmly on one hip before starting

across the parking lot. Rachel tucked her head onto a convenient shoulder,

as Dom threaded through the drive thru line. "Moron?"

"Yes. Only morons."

"Guy in car?"

"Yes, the man in the car who tried to kill us was a moron." Dom pulled

the side door open, the smell of grease and salt smacking her full in the

face.

Rachel nodded and thought about it some more.

"A moron is stupid?"

"By definition, yes."

The line to the cash registers was short due to the massive SUV cavalcade

outside. There was only an older man making his order, a couple teenagers,

and a slightly harried nanny with two children.

"Soo." The little girl's tone was serious and thoughtful. Completely out

of place for someone who generally resembled the bastardized spawn of a

bright pink missile and a ping pong ball. "Nate is a moron?"

Sure, the giggle was somewhat undignified, but how could she not

laugh?

"Oh, little girl, for that you get all the fries you can eat."

***

Dom poked at her salad. It had been the only thing on the menu that

hadn't sounded entirely disgusting. Given the opportunity, she would have

dragged Rachel to the nearest hamburger dive and gotten the kid some quality

grease, but Jean'd had the kid revved on a Happy Meal toy before they'd even

made it to the car. How anyone managed to choke down one of the meatless

wonders the great McDonald Corp. was trying to fob off as burgers, Dom

couldn't really fathom.

Still. The monkey hadn't complained when Dom had opted for meatless

chicken. The white fried lumps had seemed less sinister, and a lot less

messy. Being a Summers, the toddler was currently disproving that hypothesis

rather forcefully.

Only sanity and a steady hand managed to grab the flying nugget out of

the air and back into Rachel's fist. Admittedly, the kid's aim was

improving, but she doubted that the staff would appreciate picking

non-chicken bits out of the potted plants lining the generic dining

room.

"Stop aiming at the windows."

"Kay!" Rachel moved to shove a handful of fries into her mouth.

The kid had definitely inherited her mother's metabolism. So far, she'd

plowed through the small bag of fries that came with her Happy Meal (cartoon

toy with wheels guaranteed!) and looked about to cry before Dom'd gone and

got another one. She was currently half-way through that and showing no

signs of stopping.

Weren't kids that age supposed to have stomachs the size of dinner rolls?

Damn Summers and their hollow legs.

Dom sighed and poked her salad again.

"Fry?"

Dom looked up. Rachel had two fries clutched tightly. She was nearly bent

double over the brightly colored high chair, fist a couple inches from Dom's

nose.

Oh, why not. "Sure."

She leaned forward and took a bite.

"Oh, your daughter's so adorable!"

It took Dom a second to not choke on the potato.

The voice came from the right. Slowly, both Rachel and Domino swiveled

their heads. Just next to the table was a youngish blonde woman, perfectly

coifed and pushing one of those SUV-type stroller things. Inside, a kid not

much younger than Rachel zoned, completely dead to the world. What the hell

these two were doing at McDonalds, Dom had no idea.

"Er. She's not mine."

The woman's smile flattened a little, her smile going just a touch

glassy. Dom would have laughed if Rachel hadn't decided at that moment that

she really needed another french fry. A slightly loved potato hit her on the

cheek.

Blondie's laugh even sounded expensive. "Your niece then? She's just so

*precious*!"

Mentally sticking her tongue out at the toddler, Dom scooped up the fry

and popped it into her mouth. "No, actually, I'm her sister-in-law."

Strangely, that didn't seem to phase the woman at all. "Oh, my cousin

Ginny has the same situation. Second family?"

"Something like that." Out of the corner of her eye, Dom watched Rachel

scoop up another fist of fries. Now she didn't have Jean's precognitive

abilities, but she had been given an up close and personal crash-course on

Summers behavior over the last fifteen years. Dom leaned back in her chair,

slightly away from the obnoxious person who insisted on not going away.

Yeah, she really was a bad influence.

Five minutes, some minor shrieking, and a mostly false promise of payment

on a dry cleaning bill later, Dom held her palm out flat for a very greasy

low-five. "I have to say this, kid. You have talent."

"TALENT!" Rachel grinned and tried to choke herself on a chicken

nugget.

***

The parking lot was emptier when Dom was finally able to pry Rachel out

of her highchair. The toddler had taken a rather amusing interest in the

brightly painted cartoon figures painted on the table. She'd spent a good

ten minutes grinding a nugget skin to paste on the face of a particularly

obnoxious figure in a big red wig. Even more amusing was the fact that

Rachel had done everything in her power to keep Grimmace's face completely

clear.

When questioned, Rachel babbled a long string of sylables that ended with

'purple' and a disturbingly familiar set of puppy eyes. The damn things were

genetic.

Now hand-in-hand, they were wandering towards the Volvo.

"Apple in car?"

Dom looked down her sunglasses at the bobbing pigtails. In the early

afternoon sun, weak as it was, they were glowing a particularly bright shade

of orange. The little pink pompoms adorning either tail clashed even more

horridly than they had under the fluorescent lights inside.

"No. We have to go to the grocery store."

Because Jean was a horridly manipulative woman, she'd shoved a short

shopping list in Domino's general direction along with the car keys. Happily

it *was* actually short, rather than short for a team full of

high-metabolism-mutants who grazed in a way comperable to water buffalo in

full feed.

Apples. Laundry soap (dye-free). Post-it flags. 10-lb bag of flour.

"Apple there?"

"Yep."

Pigtails bobbed along with the child's head as they reached the station

wagon. Little arms reached up as Dom bent to scoop the girl up. Dom tried

not to grunt. She'd only really noticed the girl's growth spurt earlier when

she'd strapped Rachel in the first time. Nate, the sentimental bastard, had

been almost misty when they'd arrived the day before. *He'd* babbled

something about how fast they grew. It had only been after swinging the

little girl around for a few minutes that her arms had let her know just how

large Rachel had gotten.

Sure, 'large' was something of a misnomer. Rachel couldn't be more than

thirty pounds soaking wet, but for a tyke, that was still pretty decent.

"You know you're going to be built like your mother, right?"

Rachel's grin was eerily similar to her brother's when he didn't

understand something. This made her response less unexpected. "Yes!"

Suppressing a snicker, Dom nodded. "Right. To the store."

***

Unlike the McDonalds, the Long's parking lot was nearly empty. Dom had no

problem pulling in to a spot close to the entrance. The second time

de-zebraing Rachel went a lot smoother, which was a good thing since the sky

had darkened considerably in the ten minute drive.

Sure enough, a big fat snowflake landed on her shoulder just before she

plopped the kid into one of those wire cart seat things. The metal of the

handle was cold, even through her gloves, but the wheels didn't squeak

unnecessarily, and Rachel seemed to be absorbed with eating the falling

snow.

It was too adorable. Dammit.

"Stop that. It'll make you sick." If her voice was a bit harsh, Rachel

didn't notice. Instead, she just smiled at the older woman and leaned over

to bite her jacket.

"Hey! No kid slobber on the leather!"

"Leather!"

Oh, yeah. This was just a brilliant idea. Her next paycheck, Jean was

back at the mansion filling Nate's head with details galore on child

rearing. It wasn't fair. The idiot had enough ideas splashing around in his

head. Jean didn't need to be contributing.

Sighing, she pushed the cart inside.

No help for it now. Man. He was going to be doing the puppy eyes for

*weeks* after this.

Veering to the right, she pulled into the vegetable and fruits section

with a little more force than she'd intended. The cart screeched to a halt

in front of a large selection of apples and grapes.

A VERY large selection.

Annoyed, she consulted the list. Apples. Laundry soap (dye-free). Post-it

flags. 10-lb bag of flour.

There were at least fifteen different types. Red, yellow, green,

sometimes all three. Macintosh, Fuji, and plain old Granny Smith. The

hell?

Apples were *apples*.

"Any clue on what kind of apple your mom wants?" Dom absently tugged the

kitty-eared hat further down on the girl's head. As expected, she shoved the

offending cotton out of her face and half grinned, half scowled at the older

woman.

"Yes." Her lower lip popped out.

Oh, *perfect*.

"Can you tell me?"

"No."

"Why?"

"EARS!"

Oh, that was true... Dom rubbed one finger in an ear, trying to get them

to stop ringing. "Vocal only, please."

"EARS!"

"Better. How about, I point at one and if I'm close to the one you want,

you say 'nose', okay?"

"EARS!"

"Sounds like a yes. This?"

"EARS!"

"This?"

"EARS!"

"This?"

"EARS!"

"This?"

"NOSE!"

"All right then." Dom shoved the bag of Granny Smith's in the storage

compartment and started for the baking aisle.

***

"No."

"Yes."

"No."

"Yes."

"You're not getting black hair dye."

"Why?"

"If you start with the 'why' question thing, I *will* sell you to

gypsies."

Somehow they'd ended up in the hair products aisle. Dom had no idea how.

Truth be told, she hadn't been through a regular drug store in ages. There

were good things about having a husband, and one of them was kicking them

out the door with a shopping list. And implied threats of bodily harm.

"Want *your* hair." Big eyes.

The older woman sighed and closed her eyes. This kid was good.

"Your father would stone me. He likes redheads."

"But!"

See? THIS was why she didn't want children. It was questions like this

for thirty years straight.

"Rachel Sarah Summers. Look at me."

Green met purple. Green blinked first.

"Aw..."

Dom looked over the rows of little paper boxes, then down at the lower

lip trembling rather pathetically. Dammit! This was worse than going to Home

Depot with Nate. Lord knows this was how they'd ended up with the router

that had taken a fairly substantial chunk of TO out of the idiot's arm. This

was *so* going to bite her in the ass, but...

Oh, god. There went the single tear.

"Ask me again when you're fifteen."

"Okay!"

***

"She looks absolutely nothing like you. Takes after her father then?" The

large woman with a bouffant hairdo that would have been more at home in the

1950's blinked lazily at Domino and Rachel from behind the checkout counter.

Her nametag read 'Verna' in big red letters. She looked like a Verna.

"No, she looks like her mother."

Verna dumped the bag of apples on the scale part of the food scanner,

none too gently. "Nanny?"

Dom grinned and separated Rachel from the brightly colored Post-It flags

package. "Sister-in-law."

"Hmph." The older woman nodded and picked up the flour, content with the

explanation.

Strangely enough, the other items on the list had been pretty easy to

find. Grocery stores everywhere tended to have a generally similar plan.

Sure, the vegetables were on the other side of the store than they were in

Oregon, but who honestly cared?

"How do you want to pay?"

"KEYS!"

How that child didn't loose her voice...

"Plastic."

Traffic was significantly lighter when they stepped out of Long's. The

snow had stopped, for the moment, and above weak sunlight did its best to

poke through the cloud cover.

Behind her, back in her car seat, Rachel was busily making a complete

mess of her coat and face. Bits of apple and rivulets of juice streaked her

face. Why she was on such a fruit kick, not even Jean knew. In fact, the

woman had warned her of her daughter's current proclivity for apples just

before they'd meandered towards the mansion garage. It had been that warning

alone that'd stopped the older woman from dialing Jean up and demanding to

know what was wrong with the toddler when, still mashing a chicken nugget in

to Ronald McDonald's smiling face, Rachel'd demanded one.

Still, all things considered, the grocery store hadn't been bad. Heck,

the whole afternoon hadn't been bad.

Then again, it had only been two hours.

Dammit! Why was this taking so long?

She glanced in the rearview. "Crap. We've got at least three hours before

your mother wants us home. Suggestions?"

Rachel just smiled and mumbled something like "No!" before attacking the

apple again.

Helpfulness never was a Summers family trait.

The main street offered few options. There was a jungle-gym type place,

but it didn't look open, and the thought of dropping Rachel in with more

kids, and (worse) having to deal with the parents... Just no. Same went for

shopping.

That left...

The light ahead of her changed, and the Volvo slid to a tight stop. To

her left, the only cheap movie theater in all of Salem Center proudly

announced a special afternoon matinee. According to the sign out front, it

was the only showing in during the month-long Disney matinee festival.

Huh. There were days when her piddly little powers really came in

handy.

"Hey, Rachel? You remember how you didn't want to watch Mulan?"

***

It wasn't until later that night, with Rachel happily sugar-crashing on

Jean across the lawn, that Dom could really think on the whole thing. The

day.

The ceiling was low and white, contrasting with the green wallpaper. It

was fairly obvious that Jean decorated it. There was something intrinsically

homey and terrifying about that woman. It, and a certain colorblindness,

carried over into everything up to and including her dress sense.

Then again, certain people could probably argue the same about

Domino.

Breathing out and pushing away a sad little niggling of something, Dom

turned and looked at that certain person.

He was tired. She could see it in the lines around his eyes and the

tightness of his jaw.

"You and Jean overdid it today, didn't you?"

His eyebrow twitched.

She sighed and flopped back on the bed to stare at the ceiling. "I'm not

going to lecture you. You'll just get pouty, and it's your own damn fault

you're going to be sore and cranky in the morning."

"I'm always sore and cranky in the morning. Comes with getting old."

Comes with getting stupid, she didn't say. But when you're in bed with a

telepath...

"That's not fair, you know."

"I know."

Silence had a thumb war over them. Maybe a waterballoon fight. Who could

tell?

"Were you at least sitting down?" She didn't want to ask that. Even after

all this time, she had to remind herself that she got the right to ask. To

say something. To have a right to care.

"Yes. But my day was boring. How was yours?"

"Interesting."

"Really? You and Rachel out on the town. I'm surprised there's anything

still standing." She could hear the amusement, and something else, both in

his voice and down the link. Lying here, Dom suddenly realized how quiet it

had been all day. She hadn't even gotten any flashes besides the distant

reassuring ones that never quite disappeared.

"You're changing the subject."

"Yes, but I'm also inquiring about my sister. It's allowed."

"Fine." It wasn't worth it. She'd weasel whatever 'bonding' he and Jean

had done out of him later. "It... wasn't bad. We had a nice time."

"Really?" The mattress did its normal earthquake thing, indicating Nate

shifting position. "You did."

"Strangely, yeah. She's a good kid. I've said that before." She felt a

twitch at the crown of her head. He was playing with her hair again.

"Yeah. I saw you finally got her to watch Mulan."

She closed her eyes and smiled. It made this - the intimacy - that much

easier. "And how did you figure that out, genius?"

"I think the dialogue spouting and chasing Jean around with a stick was a

tad indicative."

"You're using big words again." Her smile grew.

"And as much as I'd like to back them up, I need to crash. You need to

use the bathroom?" This time the earthquake shifted the other way, leaving

her with closed eyes and the smile. He sounded tired. Moved like it too.

"Nah, you can hit the light."

Ten minutes later, Nate was sound asleep and Dom was still staring at the

ceiling. Something had been bothering her all day. Nothing specific, but

just a general sort of thing.

She hadn't been lying. She'd enjoyed the day with Rachel. It had been

strangely fun in a very domestic way.

But that wasn't how it was supposed to be.

No, Rachel should have been screaming, and begging for her mother, or

father, or brother. Instead, they'd had lunch, gone to the grocery store,

and watched a movie.

Almost like...

Domino didn't go to sleep for a very long time.

-fin-