Scott arrives with Emma on his arm and the look of someone who just swallowed a chicken bone on his face. Nothing in evidence from his first real view of the location does anything to ally his considerable misgivings, which are multiplying by the moment.
"It's too early in the day for me to start drinking, isn't it?" he asks aloud.
"We've only just arrived," says Emma, absently patting his hand. "They haven't even opened the bar yet."
Not far away, people are already milling around a structure that looks less like a pavilion than a circus tent. Over the entrance, a large neon sign, not yet illuminated, spells out the words, For one night only: The Merc With A Mouth and Priscilla Queen of the South Pacific. A graphic on one side illustrates a ball and chain with Deadpool's logo on it. Scott eyes the whole installation the way he might a suspected Hydra base. "Tell me we've survived worse than this."
"You have survived worse than this," Emma tells him dutifully. "I promise nothing this day delivers could be worse than that nightmare you had about giving Nathan away in a dress."
Behind his visor, Scott grimaces. "You had to remind me."
Someone waves at him from near the tent. It's Bullseye, grinning the grin of a man who not only knows an excellent joke that Scott doesn't, but who fully intends to enjoy every minute of the mandated amnesty attached to the event. Nearby, several people in uniforms with Taco Bell Catering Division written across the back appear to be arguing with Prester John about the parking of a fuel tanker blocking access to the pavilion. The odds of the whole affair being interrupted by some vengeful super-villain before it can get going are beginning to seem unhappily remote. The only super-villains likely to be caught dead here have probably been invited.
Bullseye isn't the only one to notice their arrival. Honing in with the inevitability of a laser-guided missile, Deadpool traipses over to greet them. "Heyyyy! Well if it ain't the father of the bride! Still getting up in there with all the hot telepath chicks, huh, huh?" That Deadpool's pistoning elbow doesn't actually connect with Scott's ribs is the smallest of small mercies. "Sooo, is it too soon for me to start calling you 'Dad'?"
Scott's expression takes on a faintly glassy quality. "Come on, Deadpool. Even Nathan doesn't call me that."
"Awww, c'mon Mr S! That's nothing a few rousing musical numbers and ninety minutes of touching family drama can't fix! Seriously, you want me to work on that with him? I have an inkling our honeymoon could be the perfect opportunity for me to get him to really open up about his feelings – he gets all emotional after a few good rounds of unf."
"Very funny, Deadpool," says Scott, who obviously finds it anything but.
"You like the outfit?" Deadpool is dressed in a black-and-white version of his usual costume, fitted with a bow-tie and a corsage. Set against the rest of this fiasco, it's actually quite tasteful. "I was gonna go with skirts, but if we want your boy to keep his hands off me long enough for us to get this show on the road, I figured we couldn't risk me flashing these shapely legs everywhere."
A lifetime in visors has largely trained Scott out of the need to rub his face at stressful moments, but today, the impulse itches at him like an angry clothing tag. "No last-minute nerves then?"
"Me? Nah. Now or never, and what can I say, the time just seemed right, what with the whole 2015 SCOTUS thing. 'Course, when I mentioned that to Nate, he said he didn't see the relevance what with how it's always been legal here on Providence, and also last he checked it was still 2008, but who are we to pretend the whole world doesn't revolve around whatever's going down in the US right this second?" Deadpool pauses and scratches his head. "Or was it to celebrate our big limited-series 616 reunion deal? I never can keep track. What universe are we in again?"
One unfortunately lacking an exit, thinks Scott. Emma coughs into her hand. Deadpool keeps talking.
"Seriously, Nate's been great about letting me book whatever I wanted and picking up the bill without going all bridezilla over all the details. He did insist we get in one of those Askani-sisterhood weirdos in to do the ceremony. I asked if that completely ruled out the Elvis impersonator, and he said he was sure we could manage something, so..."
"Glad you could make it," Cable cuts in, joining them with Siryn and Cannonball on his heels. Though Scott has been dreading this moment all day, now that it's here it's become a welcome rescue, all the more so when Deadpool squeaks, "Terry!" and nearly pounces on her in greeting, temporarily forgetting all about his previous victim.
"Who are we to miss a wedding?" says Emma, to Cable. "Besides, it was practically on our way home, as it turned out."
"Ah, the Brood infestation on the blue area of the moon?" Cable guesses. "Did that turn into a longer than expected stay? I was under the impression you had that largely under control a week ago."
"More than largely," Emma agrees. "But you know Scott. He didn't want to take chances."
"You don't take chances with the Brood," says Scott, a little stiffly. Less than twenty-four hours have elapsed since he'd had to accept that the second wave he'd been all but praying for wasn't going to materialise, and the X-Men were well beyond ready to go home.
"Of course not," says Cable. Scott tries very hard to ignore his tone.
In the background, Deadpool natters happily away to Siryn about the good old days back in X-Force ("You were never in X-Force, Wade. We were enemies back then." "Pffffbbb, continuity, shmrontinuity.") Scott clears his throat and casts for something to say that would be less feeble than looks like a good turn-out, but less honest than Emma had to spend an hour in Cerebro listening in on your preparations before I believed this was really happening at all.
A shadow falls across the conversation. A small team of men carrying a large box with ACME written on the side have passed between them and the sun on their way to the pavilion. Scott settles on, "I wouldn't have thought all this was really... you."
"Well, it isn't just my day," says Cable, philosophically. "It isn't even my first wedding. Personally, I'm just happy to be tying the knot with someone with a better than reasonable chance of outliving me this time around."
Deadpool snickers, swinging back around to rejoin the conversation as Siryn wanders away to say hello to some other old X-Force alumni. "Hehe, even Nate here had to wake up and face who's headlining the more books these days sometime, amiright, baby? Not that I wanna make him feel like he's marrying above his means or nothing – I'm just saying, you find me a more eligible mutant this side of the equator, and there's an exterminator out there who owes me one hell of a refund." Deadpool would likely have gone on, but something over Scott's shoulder seems to catch his attention. "Monty, my crinkled old chum! You made it! How's been skinless and psychic treating you these days?" He prances off to greet yet another arriving guest. Cable watches him go, a look of quite uncharacteristic fondness settling over his features, quenching most of what little hope remained to Scott that this was all going to turn out to be one vast practical joke.
One of those extended gaps in conversation that were known to eventuate while remaining parties recalibrated themselves to the fact Deadpool was no longer around to fill them in arrives in his wake. Scott caves first. "I'm guessing he did most of the planning?"
"He got quite invested in it once I'd sold him on the idea," Cable agrees, still gazing indulgently after what is soon to be Scott's son-in-law. "Perhaps I wouldn't have opted for some of the more... eccentric details myself, but it makes him happy."
"Happy," echoes Scott. "Is there a, uh, a reason there's a blast shield protecting the east end of the pavilion?"
Cable shrugs. "Wade was absolutely set on releasing a platoon of deathbots for us and our guests to subdue in place of the bridal waltz. I told him I didn't see why not, provided we gave our few civilian invites somewhere to take cover during the melee. He's graffitied the words 'make-out spot' on the far side of the barrier and provided some tables for people to hide under – it's really quite cosy."
Scott almost wishes he hadn't asked. Unfortunately, a lifetime of field experience has left him only too well aware of what comes of the questions you don't ask. The time has come to either speak or forever hold his peace. "Look, Nathan, I know I've probably missed the ideal window for raising any questions about your plans for this affair-"
"We did send you the invitations over two months ago."
"-well, it's been a busy two months."
"You should try planning a wedding with Wade while running a small island sometime."
"Sure, but aren't you at all worried about, well, the publicity? You've never shied away from pushing the international security community's buttons before, but marrying a man like Wilson does send a certain message."
"One which heralds a downward spiral that ends with myself fiddling while it all burns to the ground around me, perhaps?" suggests Cable, lightly.
"I wouldn't have put it that way exactly," Scott protests, though he might have had it occurred to him.
"Providence has always been ready to welcome even wanted fugitives among its immigration intake," Cable tells him, unfazed. "I'd hate for people to imagine I was running a place that wouldn't grant the likes of Wade a second chance. Do you know how many victims of ill-considered scientific experimentation there are living on – or under – the streets in the tri-state area alone, driven to lives of crime in the sad belief society offers them no other alternatives?"
"Alright," Scott allows. "So you have thought through the political ramifications."
"Besides, where would any of us be if we simply wrote off our somewhat morally-challenged, stab-happy friends from former rounds of Weapon X experimentation?"
Just because Scott takes the point doesn't mean he has to appreciate it. "You may notice I'm not marrying Logan."
"Maybe you should consider it," Cable suggests, with an expression that is really far too innocent. "You really can't imagine what a healing factor does for the stamina until you've experienced it in action."
"I didn't need to know that."
"No? I'm sorry, it's sometimes a little hard for us former omega-level telepaths to remember what constitutes over-sharing."
"You are enjoying this far too much," says Scott.
"Well, yes. What merits a more joyous occasion than a wedding?" Something happening over Scott's shoulder seems to catch his attention. "You may have to excuse me; I think the strippers have arrived. Wade booked most of them – I understand one of them is supposed to be a zombie, and this may be my last chance to double-check precisely what that's going to entail."
Scott watches him go until he's out of earshot. He turns back to Emma. "I'm not in all good conscience going to be able to start drinking until after the last of the deathbots stop twitching, am I?"
"Oh, I wouldn't worry," says Emma, examining her nails. "What could possibly go wrong?"
"We're never having kids," Scott tells her, fervently.
"Hm." Emma seems to consider this. "I suppose the one guaranteed way to avoid stretch marks is to wait for them to 'port in from an alternate future rather than give birth to them yourself."
"I mean it. Never. No alternate universes. No dystopian futures. Nowhere."
"Probably for the best," she agrees. "How could we possibly hope to top the legacy you've left to the Summers name already?"
"Please stop enjoying this."
"One of us has to, dear," says Emma, not unkindly, and steers him carefully towards some of the few guests present he doesn't hate.
It all goes remarkably smoothly in the end, with the only serious injuries sustained when one of the strippers had accidentally put a literal stiletto heel through someone's hand while doing something of an unspecified nature under one of the tables behind the blast barrier, which all agreed was the sort of innocent mistake that could have really happened at any wedding, robots or no. The beer flowed freely, many an enchilada was consumed, the band never quite managed to set themselves on fire, and long after the event, people would recount with hushed voices the miracle of how not one of the long row portaloos around the side backed up. The part where look-alikes for the Olsen Twins leapt out of the cake wearing nothing but several pieces of strategically placed duct tape and proceeded to sing the theme song to The Golden Girls brought many a tear to Deadpool's eyes. Scott never did figure out why the man with the camera seemed to be following him more than the happy couple, which was probably for the best.
The only real upset was Wade's one minor outburst during the ceremony.
"And so, by the power invested in me by Our Holy Mother of Fortunes To Come, I now pronounce you, Cable and-"
"Hey! It's Deadpool and Cable! My name goes first now – c'mon, we talked about this!"