Oasis: You Can Count on Me

Alicia McKenzie

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Disclaimer: The characters, with the exception of Patrick and Ilsa, belong to Marvel, and are used without permission for entertainment purposes only. And once, what seems like an eternity ago, I came up with the concept of the Shadowlands, and the Oasis ... the outlines of which, if you're not familiar with it, can be found at the official site.

Well, isn't this ironic. I'm the one who laughed at Nate for keeping his 'History of the Oasis'. I suppose I've got a mental image of what a historian looks like, and the sight of my slightly-flaky lover sitting in a corner scrawling in his journals and muttering to himself doesn't fit. Yet here I am, doing it myself. The scrawling, not the muttering. I suppose it's poetic justice. I'm no chronicler, though. I'm just keeping the journal warm for him while he's gone. He'll probably growl at me for this when he gets back. WHEN he gets back.

I'm not used to being the one waiting. But my luck turned bad the last time we were out - unintentional cliff-diving, anyone? - and even Franklin can't quite snap his fingers and make compound fractures go away. So I'm stuck in the Oasis recuperating, and of course, Mr. 'I'm not impatient, Dom, just driven' Summers couldn't stay put for long enough to let time heal what Franklin couldn't. As soon as Franklin and Ilsa told him I'd be fine in a couple of weeks, he charged right back out into the shifts. Typical.

He and Patrick are a week overdue.

And Franklin's planning Christmas.


Franklin Richards. I wonder about that boy sometimes. Okay, so it's unfair to call him a boy. He might be young, but the Oasis is here because he pushed his powers as far as they'd go and carved us this little refuge out of the chaos. He shields us against the shifts, controls the weather and the water supply, encourages the plants in the gardens to grow, does his best to heal anything Ilsa's skill and limited medical supplies can't handle, and still manages to find the time to organize the efforts to collect the Twelve and find a solution to the shifts. In other words, he's entitled to his eccentricities.

But I still have to laugh, watching him now. He's got an armful of pine branches, and he's trying to attach them to an old coatrack he must have pulled out of the salvage bins. I think he's trying to make a Christmas tree. He'd probably be having more luck if the coatrack didn't keep falling over and hitting him in the head.

Oh, there. Kitty's helping him now. See, being temporarily one_armed is good for something. Since I obviously can't help, she had to jump in and do it. Any excuse for matchmaking, Nate would say.

I have to admit, Franklin's gradually transforming the bar. I'd like to know who found the Christmas decorations--well, I'm assuming someone found them, and Franklin didn't just transmute something else into tinsel garlands and fake holly. At least, I think it's fake holly. Maybe we have holly somewhere in the garden, I don't know. That mistletoe certainly looks real.

I remember kissing the Nathan from my world under the mistletoe once, a lifetime ago.

I wonder if Franklin's planning to turn the coatrack into a real pine tree when he's finished. That would really be something to see.

A little Christmas magic, Richard-style.


Franklin's discouraged. Apparently he's not sensing as much interest in the idea of Christmas as he expected, even after he went to every shack and bunkhouse in the Oasis pushing the idea. I wonder if he stopped to think that we have people here who probably have no idea what Christmas is. I don't mean the people who don't celebrate it - Jewish or not, Kitty seems perfectly enthusiastic about the idea - I'm talking about the people who came from worlds where Christianity never existed. Hell, for all I know, we've got folk here who still celebrate Saturnalia.

To be honest, I don't think Franklin is as much in love with the idea of having Christmas, per se, as he is with the social function of celebrating Christmas. This is one of Franklin's crusades, I think. Yet another pet project to bring us all closer together. It's a practical strategy, on his part. The tendency here is to split off into little isolated groups, 'islands' as Nate puts it, and we have to work against that tendency as much as possible. United we stand and all that.

At least, that's the party line. Sometimes I wonder why we bother with these small battles, when the big one - the one that'll answer question of whether any of us are going to be here in another five years - is still staring us in the face.

Kitty's annoyed at me because of my "lack of enthusiasm" for Franklin's project. My response is probably best not preserved for posterity. It all just puts me too much in mind of the prototypical hedonistic reaction to catastrophe. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

All I want for Christmas is a certain grouchy lump of a Summers back beside me in our bed, where he belongs.


My mostly-mended bones are aching, and I don't want to be here. You'd think they could let the walking wounded rest, but no, they had to drag me down here to see Franklin Claus's grand plan come to fruition. If that sounds bitchy, I don't care. I feel bitchy. I am definitely not in the Christmas spirit.

But I must admit this is all pretty impressive. Apparently I was right about Franklin's plans for the coatrack. To all appearances, that's a real pine tree standing over in the corner. I wonder if Franklin intends to plant it tomorrow. It's quite respectably festooned with ornaments, although some of them are clearly handmade from bits someone rescued out of the salvage bins. It looks like that's where he got most of the gifts for the kids, either.

Okay, so it is nice to see the kids so happy. And this is undoubtedly the best damned dinner I've ever had in the Oasis. There's meat that actually tastes a little like turkey, or at the very least, chicken, and a truly frightening range of side dishes. As for dessert, I'm sure blueplum - they're blue, they taste like plums, the name stuck - pudding with quasi-scotch sauce was never on any of Martha Stewart's suggested menus, but it's pretty good.

I could do without the Christmas carol sing-a-long, though. I swear, if Franklin didn't get so much joy out of that damned piano I'd have arranged an accident for it months ago.

I could do without the empty space on the bench beside me, too.

I suppose I am being a "stick in the mud", as Kitty put it. But I can't help it. How am I supposed to enjoy myself, when Nate and Patrick are nine days overdue?

I know Franklin and Kitty and Ilsa are worried, too. But Franklin's over there banging out 'Jingle Bells' on the piano, Kitty's doling out the last of the plum pudding to anyone who wants seconds, and Ilsa's fussing over the baby boy she delivered last week.

And I'm sitting here brooding, writing in this damned journal and trying not to get sniffly. Too much to drink, I suppose. Next thing I know, Franklin will be singing 'I'll Be Home For Christmas', and in that case, I really will have to throw something at him...

The shoulder Franklin had almost-fixed hurt. No wonder, given the position she was in--when had she decided to put her head down on the table? Domino thought groggily. The last thing she remembered, she'd been trying to decide what else to write about Christmas dinner. She honestly didn't remember doing a faceplant into the journal--

Someone was settling down on the bench beside her, gently pulling her into an upright position. She muttered a curse, trying to bat them away, but a strong arm went carefully around her and drew her close. A place in her mind that had been cold and empty for days started to feel warm again, and despite herself, she relaxed against that broad chest, letting her breath out on a soft sigh. The piano was still playing in the background - 'O Little Town Of Bethlehem', she thought - but there was no singing, just quiet conversation.

"Shouldn't sleep like that," a familiar, gravelly voice murmured. "Next thing I know, you'll be bitching about having a sore neck."

The sound of his voice was enough to bring her fully awake. She pulled away sharply, looking up at him, and Nathan gave her a crooked smile. "Hi," he said.

"Bastard," she growled, and punched him in the shoulder with her good hand. He grunted, swaying a little, and she took the opportunity to give him a quick once-over. He looked like he'd been through a mudbath and smelled even worse, but he seemed blessedly intact, save for a few bloody scratches here and there. "Where have you been? Is Patrick okay?" She looked around automatically, and saw a similarly mudstained Patrick enthusiastically downing some of the leftover food while Ilsa fussed over a splint on his arm.

Nathan gave another grunt that might have been a laugh. "Pat's fine. And we were running in circles," he said, with a trace of bitterness. "What else is new?" He looked around, shaking his head slowly. "Maybe I shouldn't have asked that. This is new. This is--just surreal."

Domino saw that the festivities seemed to be winding down. Most of the people who'd been here for dinner were gone, and all of the kids were. Kitty had probably rounded them up and sent them all to bed. All that was left were small pockets of people, drinking and talking. Franklin was the one at the piano still, but there was something slower and more wistful about his playing now. Or maybe that was just 'O Little Town of Bethlehem'.

"Surreal. You could call it that," Domino said, the words coming out a bit more roughly than she'd intended. Nathan gave her an intent look, and she ducked her head. "Nine days," she muttered, and considered elbowing him in the ribs. "Asshole. Trying to give me gray hair?"

He kissed the top of her head, his arm tightening around her almost imperceptibly. "You were worried," he murmured, a ripple of amusement in his voice.

She couldn't very well say she hadn't been, not after the comment she'd just made. So she just sniffed. Loudly. "You don't have to sound so tickled about it," she finally said, acidly, and reached out and closed the journal. "Here," she said, pushing it at him. "I wrote it all down for you." She looked up at him again, willing him to say something she could smack him upside the head for, but he just looked at the journal, a strange, wistful expression on his face.

"I wish we'd gotten back this morning," he finally said. "Some historian I am, missing a momentous occasion like this."

"Well, I did my best," Domino said, and felt her mouth quirk upwards, despite her resolve to be annoyed at him. "Besides, the tree's still up, the lights are still on, and Franklin's still torturing that poor piano. Technically you did make it home for Christmas." She couldn't help the sudden, powerful relief that surged through her, washing away the irritation and worry of the last week and a half. Not getting teary-eyed, she told herself fiercely, and gave him a one-armed hug, instead. "And I'm glad," she whispered, as firmly as she could.

Nathan kissed her again, on the lips this time, and a little more seriously. "How does that song go?" he asked as he drew back, after a long moment. "'I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me--'"

"Oh, be quiet," Domino said, and poked him in the chest. "You need food and a bath, not necessarily in that order--"

He made a face at her. "I'm not home ten minutes and already you're ordering me around--"

"You know you love it--"

"I do not--"

"Food and a bath," she said, even more firmly, and then grinned at him. "And then you can unwrap your Christmas present."

His eyebrows headed for his hairline. "You got me a Christmas present?" he asked.

"Metaphorically speaking," she said with a wink, and tried very hard to keep a straight face as he roared with laughter and half the people still in the bar looked over at them suspiciously.

Franklin ignored them, and moved tranquilly on to 'Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas'.

Domino reflected that it sounded like a plan.

The End