NOTE: Permission has been secured for the use of Kai.
ARCHIVE: Please. Wherever you like, and as
often as you like.
It was Country/Western Night at the Subreality Cafe, which meant that all of the various incarnations of Wolverine were out in force.
The sign on the door announcing the theme of the night read underneath, "Check your weapons at the door. Rabies certification required before entrance allowed." And the bouncer was roughing up the patrons before entry just on principle. If you couldn't take a little friendly beating from the bouncer, then you really didn't want to go inside.
Even if you were a very depressed looking writer.
"Hey! You don't wanna go in there."
The stolidly built brunette woman looked levelly at the bouncer. "Why not? I could use a round of broken hearts and stolen pick-up trucks."
"You asked for it, lady."
The bouncer punched her, a palpable hit, and she fell down. Satisfied that he'd done his job (if feeling a little guilty because he'd had to hit a lady before she'd had the chance to hit him first), he straightened up and resumed his post at the door.
Much to his surprise, she stood, remounted the steps, and began banging her head against the wall.
"What are you *doing*?" he asked in fascinated horror. Not even Kai had done that, and she was the craziest person he'd seen so far tonight. Of course, he had had to take a break in order to wrap his knee after she'd responded to his friendly warning, but that was his job.
She looked up. "Ever heard the theory that hitting your head on something will cure a headache?"
"No," he said.
"Neither have I."
She ducked under his outstretched arm, opened the door, and entered the cafe.
Sawdust was liberally strewn on the floor, an annoyance to everyone, as the stuff kept getting kicked up into the air where it would float into the drinks, and very loud music was playing. Travis Tritt from the sounds of it. A free-floating brawl was going on over by the jukebox, short stocky men flying out from it at high speeds, and jumping back up and re-entering the brawl a little less quickly. There were more cowboy hats in evidence than at a country fair, and the unfriendly stares would've sent a Hare Krishna running for the door. If they'd managed to get by the bouncer in the first place, which they probably wouldn't have. Her favorite kind of place.
She sat down in a booth, pulling out her weapon of choice, a Palm Pilot III, and flipped the case open.
"Gotta check your weapons at the door," the gum-snapping waitress who approached the table said.
"It was working then, too. Gimme a margarita. With lots of salt. Oh, never mind. Make it a pitcher of margaritas."
"Coming right up."
She flipped the cover of the Pilot open, took out her stylus, and began playing Bubblet. When the margarita arrived, she began drinking it as though it were the nectar of the gods. Or beer.
A pitcher and a half later, she had finished her 1,209th game of Bubblet in super-shifter mode and still wasn't drunk, when she was rudely shoved aside so that someone else could slide in next to her on the bench seat.
"Hey!" She looked up. Gambit and Rogue sat across from her, while Wolverine had slid in next to her. Jubilee sat backwards on the edge of the table, her feet in Wolverine's lap.
"Oh, god. Can't you people leave me alone?" One of her hands went to her temple. "I really do not need this right now. I promise you, I'm working on another story in the cycle. I'm almost ready to post the first part."
"Yeah, but will you finish it?" Wolverine growled.
"Talk to my agent. I finish most of what I write. And everything that I post. I have a great track record. You want to jump on someone, go hunt up Alara."
"What about me, sugah?" Rogue asked. "You said Ah'd get to be in the next story, and Ah don't see myself anywhere in the next part."
Mercutio looked down at the surface of the table. "Lovely weather we're having today, isn't it?"
A gloved hand extended from the opposite side of the table and reached for the very vulnerable Pilot.
She grabbed at it, trying to rescue it.
SNIKT! Three, long shining claws barred her from the slim gray device. "I don't think so. Answer the question."
"It wasn't a question," Mercutio protested weakly. Rogue touched the Pilot with her finger. An ounce of pressure from Invulnero-Woman, and it'd be pulverized into tiny shreds. As the Pilot would stop working if dropped onto the floor from a distance of three inches, the threat mobilized her mouth into action. "Look, I've got some stuff written up. I really am thinking about writing you into the story. It's just that... well, you know, it's kinda ridiculous that Gambit's still interested in you after six years. I mean, you'd think the man would get a life. And that you'd have figured out some way to have sex with *somebody*."
Rogue dissolved into tears. "Ah hate you!"
Gambit gathered her into his arms, glaring at the writer. "Dat's not nice, chere."
"It's the truth."
"Den change de truth. It's only true if you say dat it's true."
"Well, yes, but you also have to think about continuity and plausible deniability and things like that. I want something to happen, but I'm just not sure that the two of you should get together. I mean, it's not like I have any idea who you guys should get together *with*, but after this long, it's just a little ridiculous for you to get involved with each other. And it's not like every other writer hasn't done that. I need to do something more imaginative. Something wild."
"Got somet'ing like dat in mind?"
"Well, no. Imagination's never been my strong suit. But it's important."
"More important dan our happiness?"
"You've never *been* happy! How would you know if you'd even like being happy? You're angst central and she's the perennial virgin. The token nymphomaniac who keeps pushing you away. It's your lives. How can I screw with fate?"
"Ahem." A composed Jubilee looked down at her. "So whatcha you're saying is that, like, Wolvie an' me were meant to be together? Bet that'd be news to Marvel."
"Hey, you know that Psylocke was just added in when you guys arrived at Madripoor to give you a chaperone."
"That's sick," Wolverine growled.
She flinched away from him. "Not that you were meant to get together *then* or anything. I didn't mean that."
"That's better," he said, slightly mollified.
She eyed her Palm Pilot, sitting vulnerable in the middle of the table. Wolverine had retracted his claws, but his hand still rested on the table, in easy reaching distance of the palmtop computer. Closer than hers, which were both wrapped around the seat cushion, as though attempting to squeeze blood out of it. Silly hands. You couldn't squeeze blood out of cushions. Only change and small bills.
"Look, I'll keep working on 'Revenge Is A Dish Best Served By Generation X'. That'll get me up to the point where I can put Rogue back into things. But I can't promise I'll write it. I'm still depressed over the whole 'Strange New Worlds' thing, and really, if you'd just wait until I felt happier, I know I'd do a better job. And then there's Christmas. After Christmas, maybe, then I could think about writing a story in the cycle with Rogue in it."
Rogue burst into fresh tears, and Gambit glared at Mercutio again.
"Okay, okay, I'll try to work on that too. Before Christmas."
"Whaddaya think, guys?" Jubilee asked. "Think we should let her get away with that?"
The fictives all looked at Jubilee, while Mercutio nervously looked at her Pilot. If she had that in her hands, she could write her way out of her. Open a trans-dimensional vortex portal thingy and escape into another world. Of course, neither the Star Trek fictives or the X-Files fictives were entirely happy with her either. As last she recalled, Q still bore a pretty mean grudge against her.
"All right," Rogue said grudgingly. "But first--"
"--Let's get some more drinks!" Wolverine said.
Mercutio groaned, left the Pilot on the table where it was sitting, and contemplated the possibility of slipping out for a quick bath. She'd be back by the year 2000. Maybe.
An extremely strong, hairy arm wrapped around her shoulder, pinning her in place. "I saw you drinkin' those margaritas. Betcha yer gonna love the tequila shooters."
"Uh huh," she agreed weakly. If she ever got out of this, she was going to start cosying up with Cyclops and Beast instead. People with sensible vices. People who wouldn't get her drunk and then prey upon her weakened sensibilities.
'Course, there still did seem to be some of the lime left.