Café - A Bar of One's Own
A sequel of sorts to Getting to Know Us
Disclaimer: The X-Men
and X-Force belong to Marvel Comics. This is a nonprofit work of
fiction. Julia de Santos/Shockwave belongs to me but she'll deny
it if asked.
It started with a seemingly
In the basement of the Subreality Café, the various X-Forces had discovered the familiarity breeds trouble. Tempers were already running high when Rictor accidentally knocked over Roberto's drink. Again. After the ensuing fight, Julia sighed and said: "You know, we really need a bigger place."
One week later.
It had taken less than an hour of research to determine the target. Scouts were sent out to gather strategic information. Allies were found and brought on side. Plans were made and tasks assigned. Finally, they were ready.
Cable surveyed his troops. He was in charge of the overall operation after a loud debate with the other Cables and Dominos. This meant, of course, he was effectively leading various versions of himself. I never realized what a pain in the butt I can be to work with, he thought absently. Although, he had to admit there was plenty to recommend about being surrounded by several Dominos. His thoughts took a more personal drift until he felt a mental kick in the shins. He winced and looked at his Domino. She was studying him with a deadly expression. Uh oh.
~Do I want to know what you're thinking about?~ She asked through their psi-link.
~Does it help my case that I'm thinking about you?~ He hedged.
~That may sway the jury into letting you live.~ She allowed with a small smile.
He raised an eyebrow and let her see just what he had been contemplating.
Her eyes widened ever so slightly and there was the barest flush of colour on her pallid skin.
~Very creative, Nate. But get your brain to business. The natives are getting restless.~
Cable smirked then noticed he was short in the mouthy mercenary category.
"Where's Wilson?" he asked.
"Upstairs harassing people with his alts," Roberto said as he synchronized his watch with his alternates. "Where else?"
"We'll collect him, them, on the way then," Domino said. "Okay, people. Move out!"
The silence was deafening as they trooped upstairs to the main floor of the Café. A table of Storms frowned at the heavily armed procession. There was a sizzle of ozone when one of the more antagonistic Dominos turned and blew them a kiss.
~That alone is reason to get our people out here.~ Cable commented to his alternates. An advantage of having alternates was that they could commiserate and honestly say they knew exactly what it was like. And have telepathy meant that the commiserating could happen without anyone knowing.
~Oath, yes.~ Another agreed.
"Siryn, fetch the merc please," Domino asked as they passed the bar.
"Aye," Terry nodded. She spotted the group of Deadpools bothering a Jean wearing the red and gold Dark Phoenix outfit and hurried over.
The Jean in question tried to manifest the Phoenix effect to intimidate the Deadpools into leaving her alone. Unfortunately, she was too drunk to get her birds straight and only managed a flaming penguin. She collapsed in teary self-pity after three of them fell over laughing and pointing.
"Stop mocking her and come on," Terry said, prodding her Wade in the ribs with her boot. To keep the confusion down to an acceptable level, everyone with an alternate was wearing colour-coded arm bands.
"Camera!" Wade snickered as he got up. "I've got to start bringing a camera.'
He smacked the nearest alt on back of the head. "Okay, c'mon guys. Let's go.'
Deadpool rubbed his skull as he stood. "Stop with the abuse already. We're coming. Hiya, Red. If you get tried of that edition, I'm available.'
"Yer dead, Wade," she pointed out. "I think it would be illegal.'
The cluster of mercenaries stared disbelievingly at her.
"When did that start to matter?" Wade asked curiously.
They moved into position carefully, cautiously. Given the malleable nature of Subreality, no-one could accurately predict what the target would look like until the actual strike. Domino smiled in satisfaction as she led her team forward. The sprawling roadhouse with the flickering neon sign was exactly what she thought it would look like.
"This is Domino One Blue." She said over their comlinks. "Implement plan two alpha."
"Flyers are in the air."
"All teams report ready."
"Target looks good."
"Let's do it."
X-Force descended on the AOA Bar and Grill.
The Bouncer was taken down by two of the Tabithas and the strike team rushed in. The conversation in the bar stopped as the newcomers entered and spread out around the room.
Domino, one in her classic black and purple, smiled at the Manager from behind her enormous plasma rifle.
"You might want to duck," she advised as she opened fire. Fics scattered in all directions as the fight began.
"What the hell are you doing?!" The Manager screamed.
"Hostile takeover," Roberto explained as he knocked the Manager into merciful unconsciousness.
Julia walked up to a very ugly blue individual who seemed to be enjoying the chaos. He looked bemused at her friendly little wave.
"Hi. Are you Apocalypse? Strongest of the Strong?" She asked politely.
"I AM. WHO ARE YOU, LITTLE MUTANT?" He responded. "ARE YOU ONE OF THE STRONG WHO WILL INHERIT THE EARTH?"
"Nah, we're gonna inherit the bar," Deadpool remarked as he hoisted an unconscious Prelate out a window.
Julia winced at the volume. The strong are going to need hearing aides if he keeps shouting at them, she thought.
"I'm Shockwave. I'm one of the stylish."
Before he could figure out what she was talking about, she hit him at full power and he went flying out of the bar via a wall at somewhere around the speed of sound.
With the removal of their lord, most of the patrons were quickly convinced to leave. The team moved into further into building, rooting out any hidden fics.
"Face tattoos are in with this crowd," Rictor noted as he blasted a Prelate Summers with his vibe waves. "You fit right in, amigo.'
"I would not wish to associate with such as these," Shatterstar commented as he carved up the SugarMan.
A Domino and her team came by, herding a few Sinisters out the door.
"We're not mimes!" Protested one of the white-faced scientists. This caused a few uncertain looks.
"Dom, they're talking," Terry said. "I hate mimes.'
"Don't let that fool you, chica," Rictor advised. "It might be a sophisticated defense mechanism.'
Resolved, they pushed their prisoners onto the street.
Outside, Apocalypse, Lord of the Morning, the first of mutantkind (whenever Selene wasn't around) was surrounded as he slammed into the telekinetic wall put up by the Cables. He stood and laughed.
"FOOLS! YOU CANNOT DEFEAT ME! I AM ETERNAL," he saw his servant Essex standing on the side of the road. "COME TO ME MY FATHFUL SERVANT. LET US CRUSH THE WEAK!"
Sinister drained the last of his cognac.
"Bite me, you technicolor freak!" He yelled back as he threw the bottle in a clumsy overhand. It landed with a bounce at the feet of one of the Cables, who debated whether he should return it to Essex or complete the throw.
There were a few embarrassed looks from the assembled X-Force and spectators but Essex continued to rant at the affronted Apocalypse.
A Remy dressed in grey and gold Guild armor approached the raving doctor. This one might not be the doctor I know but that's no reason not to show respect, he thought. The man's got reason to drink.
"Mon ami, you come wit' me and I get you another bottle, neh?"
Essex looked at him blearily.
"You knocked up my daughter!"
"Non! Dat be a different Gambit," Remy corrected quickly as he led Essex away.
Sideshow over, X-Force returned its attention back to its target.
"By the numbers, people," The Cables called out simultaneously. "Now!"
They lashed out and struck.
Several members of the crowd covered their ears in pain. Glowing circles appeared and he vanished.
"Where'd you send him?" Cable asked the Illyanas.
The collection of blonde girls giggled.
"Which part?" A demonic version asked with smirk.
"Never mind." Cable sighed. "Okay, people. Let's get this place secured."
The sounds of mayhem brought more than a few people running from the Subreality Café. A set of five Scott Summers came forward after hearing complaints from the displaced fics.
Sam and Roberto were dispatched to handle the public relations while the rest of them dealt with stragglers and negotiated with the staff.
Roberto, resplendent in his Black King garb, raised an eyebrow at the demands for explanations.
"It should be obvious, even to you. We require our own amenities while we wait on our Writers. This was the logical choice.'
Two of the Scotts hyperventilated at the situation. The other three sputtered.
"Ah don't think there's that big of a problem," Sam said with that country-boy grin that hid the mind of a trained operative. "We've been around for a lot longer than them AOA critters. Especially when you count the years we were New Mutants too.'
"Thus, we are far more numerous than those mere four month creations," Roberto said without missing a beat. "The rooms we were allocated in the Café were not sufficient.'
"What about them?" Cyclops asked, indicating a collection of battered AOA fics huddled at the side of the road.
"They can go hang around the Villain's Bailiwick or the regular Café," Sam said casually. "They're welcome our old place in the basement, if they want.'
"They certainly should be placed out of sight," Roberto commented.
Sam patted the lead Cyclops on the shoulder. "Y'all are just feeling a little jealous 'cause you didn't think of it for yourselves.'
"Don't worry," Roberto said smoothly. "We won't hold it against you.'
Inside the newly-captured bar, things were slowly setting down. The Bouncer was recovering in the office and the Manager had regained consciousness. He was sitting quietly in a corner with the glassy expression of the truly horrified. The Bartender was gibbering softly in the wine cellar and had outright refused to come upstairs.
Julia watched with some amusement as the Dominos set about organizing the backrooms into a combination poker parlor and mercenary hang-out. This, of course, meant that the Cables were drafted into moving furniture and other sundry decorating duties. Fortunately, there was enough paint to cover all the gun racks.
Since she had no interior design advice to give and wasn't inclined to being roped into helping, she wandered back to the main room. There wasn't anybody behind the bar so she decided that she was a good a replacement as any. Why is it that the bad guys get the best stuff? She wondered as she surveyed the selection.
Illyana appeared in a burst of light. She really didn't need to teleport across the room but what's magic good for if you can't be flashy?
"Get me a drink!" She snapped.
Julia raised an eyebrow but dutifully poured a vodka and soda. Illyana watched her hands closely. An assassin for a bartender could make for some pretty lethal concoctions.
"What's got your tail in a knot?" Julia asked idly.
The demon sorceress drained the glass.
"Remember the 'Yana who table-dances?"
She nodded. It was one of those things that tended to stick in one's mind.
Illyana grabbed the bottle and poured another splash.
"As part of the take-over celebrations, she wants to share her art."
"So where is she?" Julia asked after a moment of silence. "Practicing?"
Illyana pointed a manicured talon at a booth across the room.
"No. She's over there talking shop with the Terry who posed for a nudie magazine."
"Whoa, hold the phone!" Wade said from behind her. He sounded both scandalized and thrilled. "My Irish sweetie was wearing nothing but a smile? When did this happen? What magazine was it? I've got to buy a case load and wallpaper my place," he checked the clip in his gun. "First, I'm going to nail everybody who's seen it.'
"Mercs are so cute when they're possessive," Julia smirked. "It's not your Terry, you know."
Wade sniffed and affected a hurt look. "So what? It's the principle of the thing."
Stationed at the front door for his turn as bouncer, Jimmy looked at his guidelines again. They were fairly straight forward. It was just the non-team exceptions that could cause problems. So far a few fics claiming to know Deadpool had shown up but Wilson, all of them, had disavowed knowledge of any fics except for the other redhead named Teri. There was a crunch of gravel and he looked up again. Standing in front of him was Longshot, Spiral and some guy he didn't recognize. He shoved the note back in his pocket.
"Hey, there. Team?"
The guy looked at Spiral and Longshot then shrugged.
"I'm with the X-Men but we heard that Mojoworld fics are okay here. The name's Dakota."
Jimmy was considering whether or not to let the guy in when Shatterstar came out. He glared at Spiral, who glared back, then nodded respectfully at Longshot. For his part, Longshot looked a little bewildered by the recognition but smiled cheerfully.
"Please enter and be welcome." Shatterstar said formally. He had insisted in a fit of homesickness that Mojoworlders be allowed admission.
The trio went inside, looking anticipatory.
"'Star, can you watch the door for a sec?" Jimmy asked.
"I will watch the door for now," Shatterstar said. "But I will be leaving for a minor mission with Roberto soon."
"Thanks. Be right back." Jimmy said, hurrying inside.
Shatterstar watched as a team pulled up in a highly aesthetically displeasing minivan. He felt some kind of resigned amusement when an alternate of himself got out of the driver's side. Why am I not surprised? He thought. Most of my alternates do not seem to be the sharpest of knives.
"If you wished to participate in the securing of this facility, you are late," he said critically. "Did you not review the briefing material?"
"Don't get all uppity with us, boyo," Terry snapped. "It's yer double that's at fault."
"True warriors do not ask for directions," The Shatterstar in question said.
"True warriors can read a map," he shot back. "Do not embarrass us any further."
They glared at each other as the rest of the team got out of the vehicle.
Roberto sauntered out looking for his prospective partner in crime.
"It's just us going. Damn, that's one ugly van. Hi guys."
Tabitha came waddling around the side. Sam followed after her, holding a baby name book.
"Hi, 'Berto," she said.
"Dios!" Roberto exclaimed. "Uh, I mean, congratulations Tabs."
"Yeah, thanks. That was pretty much everybody's reaction. We really shouldn't have listened to Gideon," Tabitha griped.
He floundered for a moment, trying to come up with some suitably supportive words. He hadn't planned on seeing a pregnant Tabitha any time soon.
"Oh. Well. I'm sure Sam with do the honourable thing. Or else."
"Ah will," Sam said. "But we're kinda Unfinished right now so it don't matter much."
"Just brag about it, why don't ye?" Terry asked snidely. "'Tis already horrible that I'm trapped with ye lot of fools without everyone knowing about our status."
"Don't be so bitter, Terry. What is, is. Everything is change," Bobby commented serenely.
Roberto studiously ignored his alternate. Sounds like something Cable would say when he's plastered, he thought. Great. A Zen-Sunspot.
Jimmy came out with a bottle of beer with fortify himself for the rest of his shift. "Okay. I'm back."
Shatterstar nodded. "Well timed. I believe we are ready to leave."
Rictor looked around the parking lot. Their van stood out like a sore thumb beside the BMW Z3, the two Mustang GT's, one of which had a plate that said 'SolarPwr', the Lotus Esprit and the heavily armored Land Rover.
"Madre de Dios. Some Writer let their characters have money."
"That would be ours," Roberto gloated as he headed for the Mustang with the vanity plate. "C'mon, 'Star. Let's go."
Inside the bar, Longshot made a beeline for the dart board where an alternate of himself was playing yet another perfect game. Spiral strode over to the fireplace and claimed a chair almost in the hearth. After few graceful gestures with four of her arms, a mug of hot cider materialized on the table.
"I think her Writer had her someplace cold," Illyana remarked as she helped herself to a wine cooler. Julia nodded as she absently used the guard of one of her cheaper knives to open a bottle for herself.
"That isn't the half of it," A male voice said dryly.
The two looked over at the man standing at the other end of the bar. Well-built, tall, dark and handsome. Julia inclined her head in acknowledgment. Illyana smiled, looking intrigued.
"Do you have Moosehead?" Dakota asked.
Julia waved at the cooler. "I haven't a clue. Come back here and take a look for yourself."
Dakota blinked at her then went to investigate the options available.
"I take it you're not the usual bartender?" he said, pulling a bottle.
Julia smirked. "No. He's downstairs working through his coping mechanisms."
"Are you with X-Force or an alternate Excaliber?" Illyana asked curiously.
Dakota shook his head slightly. "No. The X-Men."
Illyana tilted her head. "Do you have a mainstream?"
"No. I'm a Writer-created."
Julia looked marginally more interested in the conversation. Writer-created fics were fairly scarce in the X-Force teams. X-Men fics that voluntarily wanted to hang around them were almost as rare.
"How are things going in your story?" she asked. Small talk, Subreality-style.
Dakota put down his beer.
"Ask my Writer. I'm just the fic," he said, sounding resigned.
Illyana waved her cooler at Spiral.
"She's an X-Man, too? Pretty wild."
Dakota looked over. Spiral was watching Longshot's every move. I knew this would be a bad idea, he thought.
"She's not on the team but since she's written by the same Writer, we invited her along."
Sitting a roomy table with Risque and awaiting their other teammates, Tabitha put her head down on the table.
"I don't frigging believe it!"
"What's wrong, Tabs?" Risque asked.
"I'm knocked up!"
Risque choked on her Mai Tai. "What?"
"I mean, not me personally. Those me's over there," she indicated a pair of pregnant Tabithas sitting with two Sams.
"Jeez, girlfriend. Don't scare me like that," Risque did a quick scan of the crowd. No version of me is preggers, right? Good.
Terry sat down. "Sakes, there's maternal me's all over the place.'
Tabitha giggled. "Kind of scary, huh?"
"Aye," she sipped her non-alcoholic Margarita. "None of ye yet, Risque?"
"Nope," Risque gloated. "And boy, am I ever glad," she patted her sleek form. "I'm not into loosing this bod. You seem to be spitting out enough kids for all of us.'
"Shut up," Terry sulked. "I don't want to look like a whale either, ye know.'
"You don't look like any kind of marine mammal," Julia said, joining them. She had left the bar to Spiral's tender mercies. The timetraveling alien sorceress was slowly trying to get Longshot drunk for reasons best left unknown.
"What's wrong? Is this a diet thing again?"
"It's all me alts who don't know what condoms are!" Terry said.
Risque pulled a couple of foil wrapped objects out her jacket and threw them across the table. "Here. There's plenty more where they came from.'
Julia snickered. "Sorry. I can't help it.'
"Yer not trying very hard," Terry accused. She pushed the prophylactics back. "I have me own, thank ye very much.'
"Well, no," Julia admitted. "Wait until the rest of the baby boom crowd gets here.'
"You mean like that 'Star over there who's groping that girl?" Risque pointed.
Julia turned slightly. "Yeah. That's Jimmy's daughter from the future or something.'
Risque took a second look. "James' kid? Who's the mom? Me? Terry?"
"No," Julia said. "From what I understood from their Writer, which admittedly wasn't very much, a dead Hellion.'
"Oh that's just gross," Tabitha gagged.
"Uh, no. She was alive at the time," Julia clarified quickly as she glanced around. "There. The purple-haired girl.'
Terry choked. "Catseye? Jimmy did it with Catseye?"
The girl came over at the mention of her name. "Hello? Why is pretty redhair calling Catseye?"
"Uh, I was nae calling ye over, lass. I was a mite surprised at an alternate of yer's involvement with Jimmy," Terry said carefully.
"Oh! Bigkitten and littlekitten? Very confusing," Catseye nodded. "They are the same kitten but this Catseye has had no kittens.'
"Whoa, time for refills," Risque declared. "Another 'round?"
"Yes, please," Julia sighed. "Maybe this will be easier to comprehend if I'm not so sober.'
Catseye leaned towards her and sniffed delicately. "Is silvereyes a friend of nastylonghair?"
There was a pause while Julia mentally filled in the proper nouns and worked out which alternate was being discussed.
"Yes," she decided finally. "But not the one you're familiar with.'
Terry smiled suddenly. "Why can she scent 'Star on ye?"
Julia blushed. "Enhanced senses mystify me. I think I'll help Risque get the drinks.'
She got up and went back to the bar with as much dignity as she could manage.
"Busted!" Tabitha whooped.
Sometime later in the evening, Roberto and Shatterstar resurfaced and wandered over to Julia's table. The rest of the team was enjoying the nearly deafening dance music.
Julia smiled as they sat down. "Where'd you two disappear to?"
"Roberto wished to discuss certain matters with the mainstream version of himself," Shatterstar said. "I also felt there were issues unresolved from my last meeting with the mainstream version of me.'
Julia tilted her head in thought. They didn't, did they? Of course they did.
"So, are they still breathing or what?"
"I'm sure he'll be okay in a few days," Roberto smirked.
Julia sighed. "Do I even want to know why? Outside of 'because we can'?"
He shrugged. "That pretty much covers it.'
One of the waiters who had been convinced to stay on came by. Julia and Roberto were taken aback by the glasses of foaming liquid.
"What is this?" Roberto asked, taking an experimental sniff.
"I do not know if the name can be effectively translated into English." Shatterstar said.
Julia blinked at his next statement. "That sounded like it was entirely consonants."
"I'll try it. I've kind of wondered what stuff from Mojoworld was like," he said, taking a swig.
He tilted his head thoughtfully then fell over onto the floor, giggling madly.
"I think I'll hold off the cross-cultural drinking for now." Julia decided, reaching for her latest wine cooler. "A toast?"
Shatterstar considered then raised his glass.
"May this location serve us longer than Murderworld."
The Subreality Café was created by Kielle.
The AOA Bar & Grill was created by ? (I don't know!)
The idea of a cosmic avatar as a flaming penguin was actually posted to RACMX by Blue Canary.
The dead Deadpool is from "The Dead Can Die." by Matt Nute.
The anti-mime X-Force is from 'Getting out of the Box' by Desert Nomad.
The Sinister who's on a bit of a bender is from Rhona (Jupiter 2)'s Sinister arc.
The five Cyclopes are from 'Pale Reign Over Gesham' by Abyss.
The Black King Roberto, the demonic Illyana are from 'In The Shadows of the Future' set by Samy Merchi.
The table-dancing Illyana is from 'X-Force: The New Breed' by Red Monster.
Terry who was a centerfold is from "A Siryn Tale" by Quamp.
The pregnant Tabitha and the crew with the ugly van is from the X-Writers revisionist series.
The other pregnant Tabitha and her Sam is from 'The Most Precious Gift' arc by Darkchilde.
The other redhead named Teri is Firelasher and is from 'The Tide Turns ' by Quamp.
Dakota, Spiral and Longshot are from 'Climb That Mountain High' by Beverly McIntyre.
Shatterstar and his time-traveling girlfriend Elizabeth are from Child X by Rhona (Jupiter 2).
Catseye is from 'Brothers in Arms' by Jeremy Bottroff.
Longshot and Spiral are members of Excalibur in the 'All-New, All-Different Excalibur' arc edited by Chris Dickinson.
The concept of incredibly alcoholic Mojoworld beverages is Leary's.
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