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Marital Commitments

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The Dominus Objective makes keeping up with international current events easier than even Omega level telepathy used to, but after skimming over three different reports on the nuclear situation in Korea and one on some very suspicious activity on the Latverian border, Cable has to admit his heart's not in it today. That's – odd, to say the least. On the opposite side of the open-plan lounge, Betty White is sharing an anecdote about her fictional brother's bird impressions. There is no logical reason why this should be distracting to someone who once filtered out the anxieties, pain and joy of a whole world without compromising his concentration; and besides, he's been around Wade long enough that he's already seen this episode at least once. As far as Cable is concerned, a casual browse through the output of a few thousand news feeds in a dozen languages is the ideal way to relax after a long day's work – yet here he is, quite unable to focus because Wade is on the other side of the room, watching repeats of a show he must know by heart, and leaving sodden tissues all over Cable's couch every time the late Bea Arthur makes a passing reference to her age and/or mortality. When exactly had that happened?

He flicks the Dominus Objective feed off with a thought, leaving nothing to obscure his view of the back of Wade's head poking over the couch, or the slightly squelchy honking noise Wade makes blowing his nose. On a whim, he finds himself calling, "Wade. Have you ever thought about making this official?"

"The rule where you don't speak until you hear the sultry tones of Cynthia Fee coming from my corner?" says Wade, eyes glued to the screen.

The station cuts to a commercial break. "I mean," says Cable, "you and me," then he blinks, and completely misses the moment where Wade's head whips around.

"Excuse me?" says Wade. "Did that new McDonalds jingle just take a really weird twist, or did I hear you-"

"Propose? Yes. More or less."

"Us? Me and you?" The couch topples backwards and lands inverted with Wade at an angle that cannot be comfortable. He doesn't miss a beat. "What an idea, then we can get us a white picket fence and a Pekinese and adopt a whole family of adorable African orphans – oh wait you already did that with that fence you call 'Providence'. Is your way of telling me I've gone and got you 'in a family way'? C'mon babe, this is the 21st century! You can pop out to see the man with the coathanger in your lunch hour and be back before anyone knows you're gone! No-one has to marry anyone anymore! And what possessed you to pop the question when the cameras aren't even rolling? Don't you come running to me when ratings tank in the middle of the second season of Keeping up with the Messiahs and we've got nothing left for the movie-length special! Do you ever think this shit through before you open your big mouth?"

"In detail," says Cable. "Let me explain."

Wade folds himself up with his legs crossed on the now-vertical couch cushions. "Oh, this is gonna be good."

"First – next time I miss a UN meeting because you stumbled back from an AIM facility with a mouthful of floral aphrodisiac, I'll be able to blame my absence on 'marital commitments'."

"Like that's ever gonna happen again. Who hasn't been through that once or twice..."

"Three times."

"...once or twice and it could happen to anyone, sheesh, you don't think I do it on purpose do you?"

"Secondly," says Cable, firmly, "no-one will ever again be able to write off my relationship with you as 'a brain-addled fling with his pet psychopath'."

"Who said that!?"

"Later," Cable promises. "And finally – we'll both get to see my father's face at the wedding."

Cable knows he's scored a hit with that last one when Wade is, for one of few times in their whole association, stunned speechless for nearly a whole ten seconds. "Did you..." he gasps, "did you just ask me to marry you to mess with your dad?"

"I should have put that one first, shouldn't I?"

"Nate," Wade is thrumming with so much energy that the couch back is actually rattling against the tiles. "Take. Me. Now."

Cable glances reluctantly up at the TV screen over Wade's left shoulder. "The commercial break is over."

"Do I look like I care? You. Me. The kitchen table. Now!"

Later on, Cable realises that in all the excitement Wade never had actually said 'yes', but then, when all was said and done, it was hardly as though he'd needed to.