It all started, as most of Cassidy's stories went, in a bar.
He, Jesse and Tulip finally made it to San Francisco, and as always, the first order of business was to find a bar, which were just about the only establishments still open with the riots underway.
"Mayhem and murder follow you around wherever you go, don't they?" said Tulip, sliding into a booth next to Jesse.
"I think I can safely say it wasn't my fault this time, baby." Jesse leaned in closer to Tulip, and Cassidy, instead of sitting down across from them, re-routed himself to the bar.
"I'll get the drinks!" he said, not that Tulip or Jesse were paying him any attention. Jesus, he knew he was the third wheel, but did they have to rub it in like that? He was pretty sure he heard them going at it when he was out in the back of the truck, underneath his flame-proof blankets. Well, they were only flame-proof as long as he didn't catch on fire.
The bartender wore a red and black suit-and-mask, which was kind of strange, but Cassidy had seen stranger things just in the last few weeks, since he started hanging out with Jesse and Tulip.
"Proinsias!" The bartender flipped up his mask to reveal white teeth and a scar-covered face. "Proinsias Cassidy!"
"Shh, not so loud! How do you know my first name?" Cassidy looked around to see if anyone else - and by "anyone", he meant Tulip - had heard.
"Don't you remember me? Wade Wilson! Deadpool! The Merc With A Mouth! You haven't changed a bit!"
Cassidy peered at the bartender closely. ". . .Neither have you."
"Well, I have feet now, and more pouches. New artist, you know how it goes. But I'm not a vampire. Or a bartender either!" Deadpool hopped over the counter, several bottles of booze cradled in his arms. "Which one do you want?"
The problem with letting Deadpool decide what movie to watch was that they ended up watching porn or something truly offensive. And this. . .travesty of a movie was. . .both?
"What the fuck is this?" Cassidy wished his sunglasses blocked more of the screen. "I picked a hell of a time to stick with sobriety. Should've had a few drinks at the bar."
"Shh," said Wade and everyone else in the theatre. Except Jesse and Tulip, probably, because they were somewhere in the back necking like teenagers. Jesus Christ on a stick. Weren't they sick of each other yet?
"Oh, put a sock in it," muttered Cassidy. And then there was some Tinkerbell noise on screen and, "Are those fucking SPARKLES? IN THE FUCKING SUN?"
"You can say 'fuck'? That's awesome! Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck," said Wade, testing it out. "Oh, cool. We must be in a grown-up comic! or fic! Have you met Jessica Jones?"
Someone dumped a bucket of popcorn on Wade.
"Ow!" Wade stood up, scattering popcorn everywhere. "Who did that?"
"Sit down!" said the audience, throwing more popcorn. Wade opened his mouth and caught a few kernels.
"Oh, no. I'm not with him," said Cassidy, leaning way over to one side of his seat, when a pair of cops in the front row stood up and escorted him and Wade outside.
"Mutie freaks," the tall one said.
Wade was closer to the short cop, so he knocked that one out first.
"Hey!" said Cassidy. "Oh, what the hell." What was the use of super-strength if you didn't use it to your advantage every once in a while, right? He left Deadpool to his pummelling and looting of the policeman's weapons, and dragged the other one into the alley behind the theatre. He hadn't eaten in a good long while. Screw feeding on animals. How the fuck was that promoting vegetarianism, anyway? And what vampire in his right mind would go back to fucking high school? Not that he himself had gone, but, you know, he'd watched enough American television to--
A sharp, red-hot blast to his midsection interrupt both his thoughts and his snack.
"Fire! Fire! I'm on fire!" Cassidy rolled on the ground, attempting to put out the flames. Cold water rained down on him and he came up sputtering.
Jesse looked far too amused, dry and unworried about whoever had attacked Cassidy. "I can't leave you alone for a minute." Jesse held out his hand.
Cassidy thought about flipping him the bird, but decided it was too much effort. "Hang on a sec. Gotta settle my innards a bit."
"Ew, gross," said Deadpool, hovering over him. "Do you need an extra pancreas? I've got one here. Or maybe it's in this one." He rummaged through his pouches, throwing out bits of lint, bullets, ticket stubs, shoelaces, popcorn, and once, a coin. "Ooh, shiny!"
"Who are you people?" Tulip addressed the two newcomers.
From his angle on the ground, Cassidy could see the blonde woman was a vampire. One of them sparkly ones. "Oh, fuck. You're real."
"Of course I am," she said, all haughty like.
She also clearly had no sense of temperature because it was night and sort of cold, or maybe that was the shock talking, and she was wearing really, really fucking tiny clothing, with some white leather boots that made her legs look a thousand miles long. The tall guy next to her was dressed in a black, full body condom and night vision goggles. The weirdness kept on coming.
"Wade, what are you doing in San Francisco and who are your friends?" said the tall guy. His suit didn't really leave much to the imagination, even if it covered all his skin.
Wade straightened up and raised his left hand. "Reporting for duty, Cyclops! Once an X-Man, always an X-Man!"
"You're not an X-Man." Cyclops crossed his arms.
"Like you can afford to be picky right now." Wade crossed his arms too.
"The X-Men don't hire mercenaries, Wade," said the blonde woman.
"That's not what I've been told!"
As it no longer seemed like his stomach would fall out of the gaping hole in his body, Cassidy sat up slowly.
Both Cyclops and the woman spun around to face him. "Don't move," they said in unison, almost like they practiced it.
"Not going anywhere," said Cassidy. If he'd eaten some blood it might've sped up the healing process, but suggesting that to this new group might cause more bleeding holes in his body, and he was well and truly over being fucking tortured, thank you very much.
"Why don't you go your way and we'll go ours," said Jesse. He was gearing up to use The Voice, Cassidy could tell.
"Whoa, hey, is anyone else seeing this?" Wade bounced around between Jesse and Cyclops. "It's like good'clops and bad'clops! I think bad'clops is the preacher dude. I bet he'd like the Marvel Girl outfit. Too bad Tulip's not a redhead."
"How are you friends with a preacher, Wade?" Cyclops asked.
"Never met him before in my life. But Cassidy an' me, we go way back, like to the early 2000s! Maybe he found religion. Oh, yeah, where are my manners? Cass, the tall guy is Cyclops, fearless self-declared leader of the mutant race, even though this is America and he didn't have a vote or anything. Takes after his son, who is like Jesus with guns. And Emma Frost. She can kill you with her brain. Or so she says."
"Did you say Jesus?" said Jesse.
"With guns?" said Tulip.
Great. Jesse picked a fine time to get all curious, instead of high-tailing it out of here like a good friend would have. Cassidy sighed. With Jesse on one side of him and Tulip on the other, they managed to get Cassidy upright and mobile.
The entire group of them - minus the cops, who they'd left alive, with full amounts of blood, in the alley - wound up back at the bar, due to it being close by, abandoned and luckily, still full of sweet, lovely, mind-numbing alcohol. Cassidy left his glasses on and so did Cyclops, though Cassidy was pretty sure he was not a vampire. Unless he was another one of the sparkly kind and trying to hide it - and, really, Cassidy couldn't blame him for that - which might explain the outfit. Cassidy very carefully put Wade, Tulip and Jesse between him and the Cyclops/Emma Frost pair, in case sparkles were some sort of catching vampire disease no one told him about.
Wade set down a shot glass in front of Cassidy. "I thought you would've liked the movie. You know, it's about vampires. You're a..."
Cassidy downed a shot. If he was falling off the wagon, he was going to do it right. "Vampire. Yes. Announce it to the world, why don't you. At least I don't fucking sparkle. What happened to dark and dangerous? We're not glitter-wearing, mopey, beige-loving, sexless, lovesick schoolboys wearing glitter. Fuck, man. And I thought those blood-drinking vampire groupies were creepy. Fuck."
"I hear you." Wade raised his glass for a toast.
"I mean, if you're in love with someone and they're maybe in love with you, they should just get it on, don't you think? Life is short, unless you're immortal, but for everyone else, it's fucking over too soon." Damned if he wasn't getting poetic. Cassidy thought that called for another drink, to celebrate.
Wade nodded along. "Nothing says 'I love you' like moonlight stalking and skulking in bedroom corners! It's tough being a vampire these days."
"You're not a vampire, Wade." That Cyclops fellow sure was a dour one. Should have a drink or ten to loosen up.
"'You're not a vampire, Wade. You're not an X-Man, Wade.' Next, you'll be telling me I'm not a mutant either!" Wade huffed and puffed and had some more shots.
Cyclops had a great poker face, though personally, Cassidy thought his glasses were cheating a bit. You couldn't even see where his eyes were looking. Cassidy's own pair of sunglasses were not nearly so devious.
"You're not a--" Cyclops started to say.
"So, you said you know Jesus?" said Jesse, interrupting the very fine drinking session Cassidy was developing with his new best friend, Wade Wilson, who was in no way a preacher or someone named Tulip, who was his old best friend's girlfriend and therefore completely and totally off limits.
Wade sat up straighter. "He mostly goes by Nate. Or Priscilla. He really likes it when you call him that. But you really should ask Cyclops about him. He's the dude's father, you know, in the future. Does this mean Emma Frost is Cable's step-mom? If she and Cyke got hitched, I mean."
Jesse lit a cigarette and blew out a long stream of smoke. "Does this have any connection to God at all?"
Cyclops looked disapproving. "Deadpool, how did Cable get involved in this?"
"Beats me. Must be his giant, timestream-and-universe crossing messiah complex. Our writers even named a volume after it!" To Jesse, Wade said, "You missed Providence by about 117 issues, possibly more if you count all of Wolverine's titles. Tiny dude, big claws. Unless you've only seen the movie version? With yours truly?"
"Do you understand what he's saying?" Tulip rejoined the conversation. Probably the shock of finding Jesus and learning that sparkly-fucking-vampires were real had kept her quiet. Cassidy could commiserate. Maybe later, when he was sober. Or far drunker. That sounded good too.
"Not really," said Cassidy. "Here, let's have another drink. Maybe he'll make more sense after. To us! And our new, sparkly vampire friends!" Cassidy pushed a glass into Emma's hand.
Shock and great displeasure registered on her sparkly, sparkly face. "What? I'm not a vampire! I-- This-- My skin is part of my mutation!"
Cassidy only caught some of what she said. Tulip was sort of half leaning on him, though she had her hand tucked around Jesse's arm. So maybe he was leaning on her. "Oh. Okay. To sparkly mutant vampires!" Wade was right: if you squinted, Jesse did look a little like the Cyclops guy. It was sort of like seeing double, except Cyclops didn't have on the right outfit and his eyes were all glowy. 'Course, Jesse's eyes could get all glowy too.
"Oh, yeah," Wade was saying enthusiastically, "Cable could perform miracles. I mean, he made me normal once! Though it turned everyone else pink. That was kind of awesome."
"Scott! They think I'm a vampire!" Emma said to the not-Jesse.
Cyclops's poker face twitched. "Do you think that'll help with our public image?"
Emma stood up. "It wasn't funny the first time. It's not funny now." She stalked out in a whirl of white and sparkles. She sparkled like a thousand diamonds, even through the shades Cassidy wore. Maybe that was why Cyclops kept his sunglasses on all the time too, so he wouldn't be blinded by his girlfriend's skin. Cassidy didn't have any sort of sexual inclination towards what he imagined would be like having sex with a marble statue or giant diamond, but to each their own, he supposed.
He drank to their retreating backs. Cyclops was saying something to Emma. If he was anything like Jesse, Emma didn't stand a chance, funking sparklers or not. Tulip never even looked at anyone else when Jesse was around. That definitely called for another bottle.
The last thing Cassidy remembered that night was Wade complaining about the goddamn movie again.
"There's never enough Bea Arthur!"