Wade bopped his head to the music as he slipped into the gym, humming along to Salt ‘N Peppa while he scanned the crowd of bedazzled, excited teenagers for his little girl. There were holographic streamers hanging from the ceiling and neon faux graffiti on the walls. He never went to a dance at his high school—at least, he doesn’t think he did. He only had vague memories of anything before 2005, and even some of that was hazy—but he could imagine it looked something like this. The fact that kids were nostalgic for the 90s now made him feel very, very old.
“Oh wow, I didn’t think you’d make it,” Ellie told him. He turned to find her standing on his left with her hands on her hips. Wade was taken aback by just how stunning she looked in a short, pure white taffeta dress with deep red roses sewn into the bodice, her long dark hair curled and flowing down her back. Tears pricked his eyes. How someone so perfect could come from the mess of his genes, he had no earthly idea.
“You look beautiful, baby,” he told her, pulling her into a tight hug and tucking his nose into her neck. She smelled of sunshine and soft florals. He sniffled back an urge to sob into her hair.
“Wade, come on, everyone’s looking,” she admonished, gently pushing him away. She held a tiny, pleased smile, though, even as she re-established distance. “I think you’re supposed to sign in with Ms. Michaelson. She’s over by the punch bowl, yelling at Matt Robertson. Probably for spiking the punch bowl.”
“Where’s your date? I need to intimidate him so he knows he can’t try to pressure you into sex,” Wade said, looking around for the shiny bald head of the punk kid Ellie insisted on calling her boyfriend.
Ellie rolled her eyes and gave him a gentle shove towards the refreshments table. “Sign in. I don’t think they let you chaperone if you try to intimidate the students.” She flashed him a smile and clacked away on spiked heels that made her tall enough to almost reach his chin. She looked so grown-up that it made Wade’s heart ache.
He rubbed his chest absently as he turned to find this Ms. Michaelson. A tiny woman stood at the refreshments table, curly hair wild and flowered dress a size too big. She looked like the kind of person who regularly came to school with two different shoes on, but was too focused on books to care. Wade liked her immediately. The skinny, pimple-faced punk-wannabe kid she was dressing down did not look like he shared that opinion.
Wade made his way over, but as he got closer, something tingled at the back of his senses. Familiar, just on the tip of his tongue. He ignored it in favor of tapping the woman on the back. “Ms. Michaelson? My daughter, Ellie Camacho, told me that I should sign in with you for chaperoning? Wade Wilson.”
The tiny woman turned to face him with a sharp look that softened when she laid eyes on him. The kid scurried away as soon as her eyes were off him. “Mr. Wilson, so nice to finally meet you. Your daughter has written many colorful stories about your exploits in my creative writing class. I’ve been dying to find out how much of it is fiction and how much truth.” She smiled at him and held out her hand, friendly as could be, but there was a tick. A twitch of one eyelid. And then Wade knew.
He smiled back just as friendly and shook her hand, the grip of her fingers around his all the confirmation he needed. He felt the Baretta tucked into the back of his suit trousers like a comforting weight, his unoccupied hand itching to reach for it. “I’m sure you have a few interesting stories of your own to tell, don’t you?”
Her smile flickered, but didn’t disappear. “I do, indeed. Maybe we can exchange them later. For now, would you mind helping Mr. Lawson bring in the extra cookies from the kitchen? These kids are black holes for baked goods.” She pointed towards an open door at the other end of the gym, just visible through the crowd.
Wade did as she asked, but kept his eyes open. If she was here, there were probably more of them. And as he found Mr. Lawson and went about chaperone duties, more of them was exactly what he found. Three teachers, two students, and a parent volunteer.
How long had they been at the school, biding their time, waiting for an opportunity to strike? Preston couldn’t have known. She would have taken care of it by now. Ellie probably didn’t know either. She had a keen eye for deception, but she was still a teenager, and nowhere near as well-trained and experienced in these matters.
The kicker, the thing that really set his nerves on edge, was Brantly. Wade had heard Ellie talk about him, rant about him, gush about how pretty his eyes were. Weeks of Snaps of some gangly looking kid with pink-tinted heart filters and happy sighs and heart eyes emojis. Brantly this, Brantly that. It had gotten to the point that Wade hated just the sound of the kid’s fucking name. Wade had never gotten a very good look at him because every picture she sent was covered in some kind of pastel haze of floating hearts and dramatic-happy music, but in person it took Wade three seconds.
Towards the end of the night, he approached their entwined forms, eyes on Ellie’s happy face and how much he didn’t ever want her to have to hurt the way she would when she found out what her boyfriend was. “Mind if I cut in?”
“Wade, I don’t think the chaperone’s are supposed to dance with the students,” Ellie reminded him.
“Not even if I’m your dad?” Wade gave her a winning smile, and she caved, expression turning fond, if exasperated with him.
Brantley the turd stepped back, eyeing Wade with obvious fear. As he should. Wade was going to make his insides outsides as soon as this dance was over with. “Later, Brantly,” he said in a sickly sweet voice, adding extra whine to the name. Brantly took the hint and scampered away.
He pulled Ellie close and pressed his cheek to the top of her head and began swaying to the beat, uncaring that the song playing was ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’ by the Proclaimers. “Did you have fun tonight?” he asked.
Ellie squeezed her arms around his neck and nodded against his shoulder. “So much fun. Thank you for coming to help, Dad.”
“Of course, Gumdrop. I’d do anything to make you happy.” He kissed the top of her head and pulled her a little closer, keeping his eyes fixed on Mr. Lawson across the way. He would do anything to protect his baby girl.
Wade waited until the first one left for the parking lot to slip out the back door of the gym and meet them at their car with a muzzle to the back of the head. The click of the safety was loud in the empty teacher’s lot. Wade grinned watching the shoulders stiffen. Nothing made hands and heart rates jump faster than the click of safety. “Thought you could come after my daughter, and I wouldn’t notice?” he asked.
“I don’t know what you mean, sir. This is my car,” Mrs. Trilby told him in a trembling voice. Her hands shook as they hovered in the air.
“And this is my bullet.” One finger and the body was slumped on the asphalt. Wade stepped out of the pool of blood, turning towards the student lot. One down, seven to go.
He saved Brantly for last. He wanted to take the time to watch the light fade from the little weevil’s eyes without worrying about catching up with one of the others, but part of him also wanted Ellie to have a nice end to her date before Wade ended it for her.
The Preston house was dark when he snuck up the drive, only a single lamp on in the front window to indicate that anyone was home. Likely Preston staying up to make sure Ellie got home alright. Preston was a good mom like that. Wade crouched on the neighbors’ side of the hedge that split the two driveways and waited for the beat-up old Focus to pull up. He watched the imposter kiss his daughter like he meant it before getting out to open her door for her and walk her up the front steps.
Wade watched them kiss once more at the front stoop before the front door opened, and Preston glared the boy off the porch with a short admonishment that they were five minutes late. Brantly tumbled backwards off the porch, eyes on Preston and the fear of God in his steps. Ellie giggled at his clumsiness and waved at him even as Preston shuffled her into the house.
Wade waited until the door had closed fully and the boy had walked past him down the front walk. Then he stepped out from between the bushes with his gun trained on the creature who meant to take his little girl away, but not before he took her firsts and broke her heart.
The boy froze, eyes shifting from the Prestons’ closed front door to Wade’s looming figure in front of him, blocking his view of the house. “Mr. Wilson?” he asked in a trembling voice, staring down the barrel of the gun.
“Did you think it was cute to take my daughter out on her first date, kiss her when you dropped her off, and make her think you really liked her? I bet you thought it was hilarious, the way you tricked Deadpool’s daughter into falling for you, didn’t you? What were you going to do, take her virginity, then slit her throat and send her to me like a present?” Wade spat out, rage raising his voice. It felt like a volcano waking up, white hot fury bubbling inside him, waiting to burst out.
The little shit opened his mouth to protest just as Wade heard the front door open once more. He wasn’t interested in hearing a denial.
Green exploded across the concrete, followed by the satisfying WHOMPH of a body falling to the ground. Brantly’s chiseled good looks morphed into a thinner, wrinkled face of a Skrull. From behind Wade, Ellie’s high-pitched scream echoed through the night.
“Wade, what the fuck?! WHAT THE FUCK?!” Ellie screamed, shoving him from behind hard enough to knock him forward a few steps, the force of her attack unexpected. Tears welled in her dark eyes, smearing her mascara. She collapsed onto her knees next to the body, hands cradling the mangled head. The pure white of her dress turned a mottled green color where it brushed the ground.
“He was a Skrull!” Wade explained, as if the green skin and blood pooling around it wasn’t a giveaway to that fact. “Probably working with all those other Skrulls to infiltrate the school and get to you.”
Ellie’s head whipped up and she stared at him with wide, watery eyes. “Others?” she whispered. She slowly climbed back to her feet, unconscious of the green blood dripping from the hem of her dress. “What did you do?” she asked in a cold, measured tone that he had heard a million times before, but never from his daughter. It made him uneasy.
“I took care of them. They were going to kill you. Or kidnap you to use you against me. I was protecting you,” he explained, trying to keep his tone even as he tucked the gun into the back of his pants again.
She stood very still in front of him, her fingers trembling the only sign of movement as she asked in the same cold, measured tone, “Are you telling me you killed Ms. Michaelson, Mr. Lawson, Mr. Mendez, and the Jacksons? At my Homecoming?”
“Not in the building . I’m not an asshole. I waited until they got to their cars.”
“You KILLED my FRIENDS?!” she yelled, stomping her heel so hard that it snapped at the seam.
“THEY WERE SKRULLS!” Wade yelled back in frustration. How was she not understanding the danger she had been in? Danger he had saved her from.
“I KNOW!” she snapped back, pulling off her heel with an angry tug and throwing it at his head. “We all knew! You sent me to a mutant school, you moron. They were refugees from the Kree War. They just wanted to live their fucking lives. And you killed them. ” She pulled the other heel off and threw it at his head. Wade was too stunned to dodge. “YOU KILLED MY BOYFRIEND!” she screeched at him, voice so loud it echoed through the night and three porch lights down the street turned on.
“He was a shitty boyfriend, anyway. Who picks Brantly for a name? You literally have to whine to say it.”
Ellie roared like the T-Rex in Jurassic Park, her face almost purple it was so red, and then she collapsed in a pool of stained taffeta in the grass and started sobbing. Nearby, her boyfriend congealed on the sidewalk.
Wade deflated, all the frustration seeping out of him like pasta water through a colander at the sight of his little girl's tears. "I was trying to protect you."
Ellie nodded, not looking up even as she rubbed fiercely at her eyes. "You always are. And it always ends up blowing up in my face,” she said. Her tone was nothing like the calculated calm of before. She sounded heartbroken. She shook her head harder and looked up at him, her face a mess of runny mascara, smeared foundation, and snot. Wade never wanted to see his little girl this broken. “I can't do this anymore. You can't keep coming into my life with good intentions and bulldozer over everything. I have to live my life. And I can’t do that if I’m constantly worrying that you’re going to come by and kill my boyfriend or stab my principal. Or burn down the house. We've had to move seven times in five years. Seven, Wade.”
She tugged at her tangled hair, curls straightening under the strain. Wade tried to speak, but his voice wouldn't work. He felt like he had a tourniquet around his heart, squeezing the life out of him. He had only ever loved one thing in this entire fucked up world, and he had managed to fuck it up to the point of no return.
Ellie let go of her hair with a defeated little slump of the shoulders. Her hands fell limply at her sides, fluffing the taffeta up with the movement. "I just want a simple, normal life. No violence. No terrorists. No looking over my shoulder every three minutes, bracing for the worst. I'm never going to have that with you around, am I?” She let that sit for a long, pregnant moment, the elephant in the room, dancing around them like an awkward ballerina.
Eventually, she climbed to her feet. It looked like it took the effort it might take to climb Mount Everest. Behind her, Preston stood in the doorway with her arms crossed over her formidable chest and a look of pure disgust in her eyes. Ellie squared her shoulders and looked Wade directly in the face. “You have to go," she told him with the finality of a death blow.
A stake to the heart would have been preferable. At least he knew he could survive that. This was... He dropped his head with a nod. "You're right. You don't deserve my brand of crazy. I'm so sorry, Sugar Plum. All I ever wanted was to make you happy. If this is what you need to make that happen, then okay.”
He wanted to hug her, kiss her forehead one last time, get one last whiff of her strawberry shampoo. But he already knew that wasn’t going to fly. Not with Preston’s thousand-yard stare burning a hole in his suit jacket.
So he tipped his imaginary hat, bowed low, and slunk off into the night. If Ellie never wanted to see him again, then he could make that happen for her. Even if it broke his heart.