Spoiler: All New Mutants (original series), X-Force, Young X-Men, The Initiative, etc. AU starting from issue 4 of the New Mutants series launched 2009.
Disclaimer: Marvel owns New Mutants and all X-Men characters. I'm just borrowing.
Relationship: Danielle M./Robert D.
Author's note – To all the Power Ranger readers that have me on their Author Alert, please disregard this story notice. I'm just working through some non-PR related fic thoughts. But if you happen to be a comics fan, know the New Mutants series and stay, please let me know what you think. Ms. J.
Summary: Dani and Robert have always been close friends, going to the wall for one another. But is it anything more than that?
Sun and Moon
The somewhat impromptu re-established New Mutant team had returned to the Marin headlands headquarters of the X-Men from its near debacle mission to investigate a mutant in Colorado where Danielle "Mirage" Moonstar and Shan "Karma" Coy Manh had been hunted by David Heller and his personalities. Shan had been saved by Illyana "Magik" Rasputin while Amara "Magma" Aquila and Magik had rescued Dani from Heller after Samuel "Cannonball" Guthrie and Roberto "Sunspot" da Costa had left her behind in the jail cell for her "own protection".
If Magma and Magik hadn't shown up, Dani would probably be dead.
That fact had been a bone of contention between Sam and Dani the whole ride back. Now with the team debriefed and scattered across the campus, Dani and Robert had ended up in one of the smaller residential kitchens, the two of them sitting across from one another, beers in hand.
Dani scowled across the small circular table at Robert. He'd been expecting Sam to let her out of the jail cell, but he'd never verified it, and his failure to make sure Sam had done so had nearly gotten her killed. She'd already vented her frustration at Sam with a right hook to his jaw. Roberto had yet to get his.
"You could have just opened the damn door for me you know," she complained bitterly as she took a long sip of her Budweiser, looking across the small table at him.
"I didn't realize that Sam wasn't going to let you out. As it was, I didn't find out what he'd done until we were in the field and it was already too late," he argued, but without any real conviction in what he was saying.
"What the hell was he thinking 'Berto? He left me in that cell knowing Heller was out there hunting me. How did he think that was a good idea?"
"He thought you'd be safe… I mean, without your powers…" Robert started, and then trailed off.
Since Dani had lost her powers, along with so many mutants following the House of M incident, he and the others had been trying to be supportive. She'd worked with the Initiative and then the Young X-men as a teacher along side him, providing guidance in using mutant powers that she no longer had. But in the field, without those powers… it was a dangerous place to be.
"You know I've been okay in the field since then. As it is I can still fight, and I can kick his ass or even yours da Costa, with or without them," she growled half heartedly, and he grinned slightly, making her sigh as her anger faded and she grinned back. "I just hate being thought of as a liability."
"You're not. You're still a valued member of the team. Sam just wanted to make sure you stayed alive, just like I did. It was a mistake."
"Yeah, you're lucky the girls showed up or…"
Robert took a long swallow of his own drink before he looked away. He didn't want to think about that. The team had lost a lot of people over the years. He'd lost people. He knew that losing Dani would have been beyond painful. He'd already dodged that bullet more than once, much to his and the team's relief.
"We were coming back. Once we realized what was going on, I would have done whatever it took to get back to save you."
Dani gave a smirk and took another sip of her beer. He looked at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Just you – planning on swooping in and saving the day. How many times have you ridden to the rescue?" He frowned, his mind pondering the question as Dani continued. "The Demon Bear, that attack after the dance in Westchester, Hel, Donald Pierce…"
Memories of those incidents, times when he and the team were there for her, doing their best, his best to help or rescue her flooded his mind. Images of her tormented, beaten, bloodied, fighting for her life flashed through his mind. He paled slightly under his dark complexion as he thought of them all.
"I seem to recall the same thing about you," he answered, turning the tables on her as he put down his beer as he ticked off the incidents one by one on one hand, "Selene in the Amazon, Asgard… Reignfire…"
At the mention of the clone that had taken control of the Mutant Liberation Front under Roberto's guise, his mind link making the true Sunspot evil for a period of time, Dani looked down, staring intently into her beer bottle.
Robert reached over and grabbed her hand, his warm skin nearly burning her as his touch startled her into looking up.
"I never thanked you for what you did, thinking it was me. I know you'd just gotten exiled from Asgard and only reason you agreed to work for SHIELD was because you thought I was Reignfire and you had to rescue me somehow."
"Like I said, you would have done the same for me. You have…"
"It's not really the same… all those times the others were with me too. But you went undercover *alone* with the MLF to help *me*," Robert pointed out, and Dani shrugged.
"We've been good friends for a long time 'berto. What else could I do?"
"I'm lucky to have such a good friend then."
It was quiet for a bit, and Dani noticed Robert hadn't moved his hand. She looked at him and thought about everything they'd been through; years of pain and joy, sacrifice and acceptance. And somewhere during those years, she'd realized that she would do anything for him; go anywhere, say anything… kill anybody.
Her eyes widened just a little bit in the semi-darkened kitchen as she realized something she'd never understood until just this moment. She'd fallen in love with him.
She wanted to mentally smack herself in the forehead as she acknowledged the feelings, deep, intense feelings that he'd instilled up in her. How his well being meant more to her than anything. How she'd been willing to go out on a limb time after time for him, more often than any of her other friends, even Rahne Sinclair.
Thinking of Rahne, she mentally kicked herself again for misjudging their relationship. They had always been friends – nothing more. But 'berto….
She'd always been there for him, as long as she'd been in the same dimension. She trusted him more than any of the team, had been through more with him, hell, if she had to be honest with herself, she'd fantasized about him more than any other man she'd known. She just hadn't accepted that it was because she loved him rather than he was a guy who was pretty good looking and happened to be around 24/7.
And deep down, she had somehow known that the reason she hadn't ever acknowledged her feelings for him was because she knew if she ever let herself truly feel that for him, ever expressed it to him, that she could ruin everything that they did have, as friends, forever.
Across from her, Robert studied her quizzically. She seemed to be staring at him, and it was making him feel… odd.
"Dani? You okay?"
His voice cut through her thoughts, and she felt her pulse speed up as she watched his eyes, his lips, her mind wandering down a path that led her to wonder just what being in love with him would be like… and suddenly she had to know. She had to say something, because if she didn't, she'd regret it for the rest of her life; A life that had nearly gotten cut short again. But how could she explain herself, tell him what she'd only now admitted? How could she be sure to keep his friendship if that was all she could have?
"Have we always been friends?" she asked quietly, her eyes finding his as he looked at her, curious about her comment and tone of voice, which sounded so strange to him.
"Of course," he insisted, and then conceded, "Except when you were being a pig headed leader and told me the truth about myself."
Dani had to smile lightly at that. She could remember more than a few moments when she would point her finger in his direction and tell him he was being stupid, foolish, arrogant, elitist or even sexist. They both had tempers that could run hot, yet he always listened to her. Always.
"But I was usually right."
"Yeah, you were."
"I just… maybe things would be different now if I had been a better friend to you."
Again, Robert's eyebrow rose in disbelief and he looked at her to continue. He watched as she took a deep breath before she spoke.
"I should have told you before that I've always known that you're just hiding behind your ladies man, playboy image, hitting on every girl in the world when you were just afraid of actually meeting and dating a girl who wasn't your type and you could actually be happy settling down with…"
"What? Where the hell did that come from?" Robert interrupted, stunned by her words as he pulled his hand back. Dani held it for a second before easing up her hold, allowing him to escape.
The look of shock and anger on his face tore at her heart. He hadn't let her finish, and now she knew she'd made a mistake.
"I… damn it 'berto, I shouldn't have said anything," she said thickly, her throat suddenly tight as she berated herself mentally for giving in to her base desire to say something to him.
At that, she rapidly got up from her seat, beer bottle nearly spinning on the table as she headed for the door. Robert quickly launched from his chair, catching her upper arm in his grasp before she could get more than two feet from the table. She turned her head to look at him, and he realized that the dark brown eyes that he knew so well were watery as they caught is own gaze. He gulped visibly and moved closer to her before he knew he was moving, his other hand moving to grasp her other shoulder, turning her towards him.
"I'm sorry. Don't leave. You know you can tell me anything. Even if it's that I'm an insensitive moron," he commented self-depreciatingly as he gave her a tentative smile, and then said, "And hey, what exactly do you think my type is that I shouldn't be dating?"
Dani blinked, breaking the connection as she felt the tension in the air shift slightly. He'd given her an opening to joke it off. But did she really want to walk away from this, knowing she might never get another chance?
Her Cheyenne heritage pushed at her heart and she somehow found the courage to tell him the truth, as she saw it.
"You keep picking blondes."
He took a double take at that, his mouth dropping open. She laughed lightly and stared at him intently as his hands nearly fell free of her arms before he caught himself. He re-established his hold of her arms in a lighter grip as he stared at her, surprised still by her words.
"Tabitha, Gosamyr, sort of, Amara… Juliana," she listed slowly, watching him closely as he digested her words.
"I guess I have," he admitted, slightly dazed. Then he looked at her again and suddenly felt his heart lurch in his chest.
He saw something there in her eyes that he'd never seen before. Or perhaps it had always been there and he'd just never noticed. He could feel the emotion pouring off her, how her skin nearly burned him where he gripped her arms. Her chest barely moved, as if she was holding her breath yet he could feel her pulse pounding beneath her skin. And he suddenly became aware that her hands had somehow ended up against his chest, her fingers and palms splayed out across his shirt.
Was what he was seeing, feeling… love?
That was crazy… It couldn't be that. They'd know each other for so long, and they'd never… He'd always known she was attractive. But he'd always been swayed by the pretty blondes she was pointing out to him or teasing Illyana, Rahne or even Theresa.
They had never been more than friends. Sure they could fight like cats and dogs, but when it came down to it, he trusted her more than anyone he knew, even Sam. She'd put herself on the line for him more times than he could count, and she still was willing to come back for more. In seconds, every touch, kind word or smile she'd graced him with over the years suddenly replayed itself in his head, and he found himself realizing that it had always been there.
After all these years, everything they'd been through, everything he'd done, how could she feel that way about him? And if it was true, if she really did love him, did he feel the same?
Looking into her eyes he let himself acknowledge that he did. And suddenly, he had to see if he was dreaming or if this was real. If Dani really loved him like he loved her.
"So who should I be dating? Redheads? Brunettes?" he began softly, watching her face closely, looking again for what he was certain he'd seen there. Her eyes narrowed ever so slightly at his suggestion. "How about raven haired beauties then?"
He watched as Danielle Moonstar, the woman he knew who had taken on death itself, went stock still in his grasp, her breath catching at his words. And his heart began to beat wildly at the implications.
"Okay – a black haired girl. Any specific kind? Maybe a fiery raven haired woman who has always been able to both kick and save my ass?"
Her mouth dropped open then, and her eyes blinked before they locked with his with a stunned look to them.
"You were right. I've been picking the wrong women, when the right one has been standing next to me all these years," Robert said softly, pulling Dani closer.
"You… I… 'berto…" Dani mumbled helplessly as she realized that he'd read her face, her feelings without her actually saying a word.
Smiling as he realized he'd stunned her into silence, he took a deep, steadying breath and decided to take a leap of faith that she wouldn't punch his lights out for what he was about to do. With a slight effort, he pulled her to him until her hands were trapped between their bodies and leaned down to capture her lips with his.
The spark that flared at the first touch of her lips against his made him lightheaded, and as he kept kissing her, he suddenly felt her kissing him back. For Dani, once the shock at realizing Roberto Da Costa was actually kissing her, she let her eyes close and fell into the kiss, letting the locked up passion for him out. Robert answered her gratefully, intensely, their feelings erupting in this one act after so long. Dani's hands curled in his shirt and Robert let go of one of her arms to cradle her head as the kiss deepened.
Finally the fire of passion began to pale beneath the fire spreading through their lungs as they felt the need to breathe overcome them, and they broke apart to dual deep breaths, their eyes opening and locking instead.
Dani licked her lips suddenly and Robert tried not to shudder at the sight. Now that they'd crossed this line, she was worried about what came next, and she wondered if she was up to the happiness or the heartache, depending on Roberto's intentions
"This… this isn't just a… a fling for you, is it?" Dani asked quietly, sudden fears about his motives trying to override the torrent of feelings surging through her.
"No, it's the real thing Danielle," he replied, using her full name. "I…I never realized what was happening between us all this time. I chocked it up to just being friends, and chased all those blondes you accused me of hiding behind rather than face up to the fact that I'd fallen for you somewhere along the way."
"Love you. Yeah… I was a surprise to me too."
At that, she smiled at him, a truly beautiful smile that he couldn't help but be warmed by the sight of, his heart filling even more with the show of her emotions on her face. Her right hand eased up from his shirt to lie softly against his cheek, feeling the late day stubble brush against her palm. He slightly leaned into her hand; his eyes still latched to hers as he relish the feeling of her flesh on his.
"I love you Roberto Da Costa. Even though I probably shouldn't, I do…" she said breathlessly.
"I'm glad. It would majorly suck if you didn't want this too."
Dani laughed at that, and he had to join her. His arms wrapped around her waist and he pulled her to him again as her arms fell around his neck. As their laughter died, their lips crashed together again as they let themselves explore their newly found feelings. They kissed for what seemed like forever before the lights flicked on in the kitchen, shocking the two into breaking apart and turning to see Cyclops standing there.
"Uh… we're…" Robert began to say before Cyclops held up a hand.
"Relax. You're consenting adults. It's none of my business," he said as he quickly moved to the refrigerator and pulled out the remains of the six pack of Budweiser that Dani and Robert had been drinking earlier. Beer in hand, he turned to leave, but before he got through the door, he added, "besides, it's about time you two got together,"
With that, Cyclops flipped off the lights again, leaving the two of them in the dark and stunned at his words. After a few moments, they started laughing again.