From Julio's perspective (on the floor, next to the bar, looking up at the ceiling) the evening doesn't seem to be getting any better. He'd only managed to make it through a single beer before some douchebag made a comment about how getting drunk wasn't gonna get him his powers back. In retrospect, Julio shouldn't've let it get to him.
The whole day's been shitty though. A shitty day in the shitty life of Rictor, token unpowered member of the world's only mutant private investigation group. And now he's probably gonna get thrown out of the bar. It would figure. He leans his head back in defeat and somehow it's no surprise at all when he bashes it against a barstool.
"Hijo de..." he mutters, and then the guy who punched him out steps up and kicks him in the ribs.
"Get the fuck up, mutie!"
Julio leans forward to do just that, but he's stopped by a hand on his shoulder. "It's not worth it," says the woman holding him back, and then she turns to the other guy. "Turn and walk away. He didn't do shit to you before you provoked him."
They face off for a moment, and then the guy actually backs down, retreating to wherever his buddies went when he decided to start trouble. Julio takes that opportunity to wrench away from the woman's hold and stand up. She's way taller than he is, and obviously built; it's pretty easy to see why the other guy didn't want to argue with her. She isn't that intimidating, though. She's got nothing on, say, Cable. Looks to kill, still, hard mouth behind mild-mannered lipstick. Not gorgeous, but she probably isn't leaving here alone tonight unless she wants to.
"Didn't ask for your help," Julio says, and sits down at the barstool he hit his head on.
"You were doing so well on your own," she retorts.
"If I can't defend myself in a fucking barfight I deserve the beating." Julio waves the bartender over, orders another of whatever the fuck he had before. Over in the corner, douchebag says something loud and jeering and his friends all laugh.
"I'll have what he's having," says the woman, and pushes back her blonde hair as she sits down on the next stool. "So you're an ex-mutant?"
Julio doesn't punch her. Obviously that approach isn't working tonight. "The hell does it matter to you?"
"Hey, cool down, it was just a question." She puts her hands up in surrender and smiles, and for a moment looks way too much like Domino. "Okay, so that's a touchy subject. Something simpler. My name's Ruby, what about you?"
Since she's apparently not going anywhere, Julio sighs and gives in. "They used to call me Rictor," he says. "Some people still do."
"Let me guess: seismic waves? I love it when codenames make sense. Not like Cyclops -- I mean seriously, what the hell does Cyclops have to do with shooting lasers out of your eyes?" Ruby laughs and eyes Julio like she's waiting for him to join in. "No? Tough customer."
"Is there something you want?" Julio asks.
Ruby turns serious in an instant, grinning like she's got him just where she wants him. She looks dangerous, all of a sudden, instead of just badass. "No, but there's something you want," she says, and accepts both beers from the bartender. "I've got this. I have an offer to make you, Julio Richter."
"How the hell do you know my name?" He's on his feet before he knows he's getting up, already in a defensive stance.
"It's what I do," Ruby replies, and offers him the bottle of Corona he ordered, already uncapped. Julio accepts it, wary, and takes a sip. It tastes fine, doesn't tingle as it goes down, so he takes a longer gulp. Ruby's smile widens. "I'm right, though, aren't I? There's something you want. Something you haven't been able to get back no matter how hard you've tried. Because no one you've found has enough power to do the job, do they?"
"I've heard it before," Julio says. Quicksilver sounded a hell of a lot more full of himself when he'd said it, though. Ruby just sounds like she knows she's got the better hand.
"I can make you a mutant again," Ruby says. "But maybe you don't want to take the deal. That's fine. Some people find the price too high. If you're interested, come with me, and if not... it was a pleasure to meet you, Rictor."
She stands up, drains her bottle of beer, and starts walking out. She's nearly to the door when Julio gives up and follows her out.
Outside the night's grown cold, and Julio zips up his jacket without much effect. The streets are basically deserted. Ruby's standing out in the middle of an intersection, just out of the ring of light from the streetlight on one corner, and she smiles again when she sees Julio. "Over here," she says. "Do you want to make a deal?"
Beneath Julio's feet, beneath the concrete and pipes and the metro system, there's solid earth. Sometimes he thinks he can still feel it moving, the slow steady crushing of plate tectonics. That feeling of connection left a gaping hole like a phantom limb when he lost his powers, something that a team couldn't fix, that his best friend couldn't fix, that sex couldn't make up for, that drinking couldn't numb. Ruby might be a fake, this might be a mistake, but Julio's good at making stupid mistakes.
"Yeah," he says, stepping out under the streetlight, into the road. "Let's make a deal."