For, like, 0.1 of a second, I almost considered joining the X-Men. But I don’t want to live in a ridiculous house with a bald control freak and his visiting antihero boyfriend, a sulky teenager, a huge guy made of metal, and a bunch of others I’m not supposed to talk about. Mutants, the lot of them (hah, screw you, copyright attorneys). Their timeline is so twisted I don’t even know which pair of well-known actors the leaders are supposed to resemble right now. Besides, I heard Magneto is pissed with me for destroying that scrap helicarrier, even though most of it was down to Francis anyway. I don’t want to know what Magneto was going to do if he got his hands on a helicarrier, but it’s probably better for all of us that it’s now in much smaller pieces.
So I’m back with Vanessa, living in a nice apartment. We’re not rich, but we’re comfortable. Vanessa doesn’t work in the club any more, though she wanders down there sometimes to catch up with the girls. She’s started her own photography business. She wants to photograph me; I say only in the suit. It’s an ongoing argument.
I’m also back at St Margaret’s, scaring the children and taking money with menaces. It isn’t going so well. The money is good; the word got out that I was available for hire, and I’d take any work that paid well. I’ve rescued another four rich Meghan clones from creepy stalkers, murdered a team of people-traffickers with extreme prejudice, freed a factory full of sweat-shop workers, and eliminated an especially heinous loan shark. But people keep calling me a hero and I fucking hate it. I want to kill a good guy. Or ten. Or four. Whatever. I’m nobody’s hero, and I’m out to prove it. That’s not going so well either.
We were trying to settle the photography argument with extreme sex, when I took a call from Weasel giving me a lead on a drug baron wanting to take out some local goody-goody. No time like the present, I thought, but it turned out to be quite difficult talking business with a fist in your ass. I had no idea how much I was getting paid or when, or anything else we talked about.
Luckily the client was stupid enough to meet with me to “go over the details,” i.e. tell me what the fuck he wanted and how much he was going to pay. The meeting took place in a stereotype of an abandoned warehouse, henchmen swarming the place, and I left my ammo bag behind *again*. Can you believe me? I can’t, but I’m not the one reading this story. Anyway I explained the situation and it was all fine; maximum effort not required. We had a nice drink (well, the client had one – I can’t drink with my mask on) and a quiet chat.
It turned out the target had been finding all the local drug dealers and paying them off, getting them into rehab, and generally making it difficult to sell the hard stuff on the streets. Sounded like the thoroughly wholesome sort of victim that could really make my name as a part-time villain. I was totally up for that, so I called Dopinder, and headed out for reconnaissance.
We’ve got Dopinder on retainer now. Vanessa pays him in money, I pay him in crisp high-fives. Or tens, if he does something particularly awesome. The cousin love-rival has disappeared (Dopinder assures me he’s gone to live with relatives far, far away. I’m not sure I believe him, but whatever) and Gita is slowly warming up to Dopinder. I’ve told him to keep it cool, because if he stalks her I’ll be forced to warn him off. He started stuttering at that, and wasn’t keeping a good eye on the road. We ran into a fire hydrant, did a double flip, and the brand new taxi landed upside down, so I think he got the message. By the way, I totally shriek like a girl. There is nothing wrong with girl-shrieking, it’s totally a thing. Dopinder does it too, when his taxi does a double flip and lands upside down. You should try it sometime.
Oh yeah, reconnaissance. So I was hanging upside down from the apartment balcony above the target, just watching through the window for a bit. That’s what reconnaissance is, hanging around. I get bored pretty easily, and I was catching up with my favourite mutant teen on snapchat, while the target was sitting in a big wingback chair, reading something I couldn’t make out. Then the door opens and this little tiny girl is shoved into the room. His daughter, maybe, come to say goodnight? Nobody mentioned a daughter at the briefing. But no. She looked terrified, and it didn’t look good for her. Jeez, why can’t the good guys actually be good? So obviously I had to take him out. Maximum effort, and all that. He didn’t have any decent security, just a couple of goons who made a good splash when I threw them off the balcony into the pool. The little girl was crouched in the corner when I grabbed the target. It was impossible to smile at the kid with the mask on, but I asked her whether she thought he should join his friends for a swim. She nodded shyly and I took him out to the balcony, quietly slitting his throat on the way. No need for the kid to see that. I thanked my former self once again for the red and black suit.
I was about to scramble off down the building when I realised the kid must be alone. And scared. Who knew where she’d come from, or who’d been looking after her. I climbed back up and walked over to her, holding out a hand. She looked even more scared, but taking the mask off wasn’t going to help. The sirens were getting louder. I nodded towards the balcony. “Hi, I’m Pool. Want to go on an adventure with me?” She nodded.
Settling a kid on my shoulders along with the katanas was… interesting, but she was so tiny it kind of worked. I told her to hold tight round my neck and climbed carefully away.
We honestly tried to find out where Sophie came from, but she was too little to tell us much, and Vanessa's research didn't turn up anything. So now I’m a fucking superhero with a kid and a fiancée (apparently we need to be married if we’re going to take care of a child) and Colossus is after me again and a guy just can’t seem to catch a break around here. Vanessa tried to use a swear jar to teach me not to swear around Sophie, but you can guess how that worked out. First we needed a bigger jar; then a bucket; then a bank account. Which ended up with so much money in it that we all went to Hawaii on vacation. Now Sophie has taken to goading me to swearing as much as possible. Anyone would think she was my real daughter. We had to start taking money out of the jar every time **she** swore, which was actually pretty effective. So now we get to go on expensive vacations a lot, Sophie is a non-swearing supervillain in training, and Vanessa looks happier than I’ve ever seen her.
Me? I’m just hanging around, waiting for Cable to show up. Preferably in the form of Keira Knightley.