It takes some time to fall back into what one might consider a routine. Which is to say it takes some time to figure out how they work (or do not work) together and what that means as far as gainful employment. Not that the governing body hiring them in secret to snuff out a local cartel cares if they have matching business cards when they show up to the murderfest, but Wade’s trying to run a business not a god damned carnival side-show.
Tolerance is not a bad place to start. Tolerance, and forgiveness, and all of the other stuff Sesame Street bangs on about. Wade thinks their company policy of ‘shrug and move the fuck on’ is going swimmingly well so far, but that’s probably just because they don’t have an HR department and he’s no longer accepting constructive criticism regarding their team line-up, but thank you for your inquiry.
“Whatever your grievances are,” he says, “I’m a hundred percent sure I don’t care.”
“Nothing’s been the same since,” Weasel continues onward, as though he’s suddenly developed selective hearing. He sits another bottle of whiskey onto the bartop. “I’ve got some sort of Pavlovian response now to Cable growling in irritation. I popped a boner the other night and it was just my dishwasher switching onto the rinse cycle.”
“Yeah, I was right the first time,” Wade raises his shot glass, but pauses before knocking it back. “Definitely don’t care - and, also, let’s just add that onto the list of things I didn’t need to know.”
“This isn’t funny. This is a complex . How am I supposed to function in a real life relationship? Ask her to beat me upside the head with an alarm clock while she calls me a fucking failure-“ he pauses, shifting uncomfortably, and mumbles to himself, “God damn it not again.”
“Giving your Fleshlight a name doesn’t make it a ‘real life relationship’,” Wade says and pulls the whiskey bottle closer to pour himself another shot. “And you’ll have to forgive me for not shedding a tear for your plight. If you have a sudden thirst for being demeaned by middle aged white men, who like cheap beer and who might be on a watchlist somewhere for firearms and search history, you’ve got some options. You’re not exactly branching out as far as fetishes go.”
“Why are you even here? You can’t get drunk. You’re just wasting all of my whiskey and giving bad life advice. I could have saved us both time and just beat myself with the bottle while watching Doctor Phil.”
“And, furthermore, if you asked really, very nicely I think you could probably convince our favorite man named after wire to just step on your balls himself.”
“Whoa, hold your horses there, Satan, I’m not asking anyone anything,” Weasel leans forward, voice lowering. “I don’t want to be a part of my own sick fantasy – why would I would to bring it into the real world, with real world consequences?”
“Consequences like… gee, I don’t know, saying his name three times, backwards, into a mirror and he suddenly shows up?” Wade asks, which is right around the time that Nathan walks in from around the corner, looking as disgruntled and unsocial as ever. Which, as far as timing goes, couldn’t have worked out better. “I might have invited him.”
Not that he’d been one hundred percent certain that he’d even show up, considering their consistent track record of Wade saying things and Nathan ignoring them like it’s his new career path. Although there is something to be said about showing up looking like you’re already planning on leaving or, in Nathan Summers’ case, showing up looking like you hadn’t planned on coming at all.
To be fair they are in a bar of mercenaries, but Nathan walks into the room sporting just enough concealed weaponry and grenade pouches to make even Slappy Pete near the billiards, who literally carries a machete around in his teeth for the ~aesthetic~, uncomfortable. Wade tries to imagine him attempting to purchase groceries, or check out a book from the library, while wearing kevlar and a truly irresponsible number of belts, but fails. It also makes him uncomfortable for a number of reasons that have nothing to do with intimidation and everything to do with the way he wants to put his face all over Nathan’s body and inhale him like cocaine.
“I have to leave right now immediately,” Weasel mutters, half tripping over his own feet as he deposits the dish towel and his set of keys onto the bar in a pile.
“Don’t run away from your feelings!” Wade calls out, as Weasel vanishes around the corner and into the keg room with all the grace of a man attempting to escape his cybernetic demons. He turns to regard said demon as he sits down onto the stool next to him, five o’clock scowl already in place. “Priscilla, how nice of you to join us. Although I can’t help but notice you didn’t bring the Amazing Gun. Were you afraid of being a third wheel? It’s okay, you can tell me.”
Nathan does a double take and grimaces, as though physically pained. “What in the fuck are you wearing?”
“If you can’t handle me at my discount MargaritaVille Hawaiian shirt then you don’t deserve me at my ninja bodysuit,” Wade tells him, and slides the whiskey bottle within sharing distance. “Not all of us shop at the NRA Supply Warehouse, baby Cyclops.”
“Everything about you gives me a migraine,” he mutters, but, miraculously, still doesn’t leave. Maybe sitting alone in the X-Mansion, growling at the wallpaper and sharpening his knives, doesn’t pass time the way it used to. “Where is everyone?”
“Lady Luck should be here any minute - probably right on time. I sort of thought you were going to invite WyldStyle and Strawberry Shortcake.”
“The teenagers,” Nathan confirms, nodding his head. “Yeah, I don’t know how that slipped my mind to ask them along.”
“I can’t help but notice your larger, metal-er half isn’t here either.”
“He referred to this place as a ‘house of ill repute’, so I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
They finish off the bottle they’re on and are well onto a second one before Weasel comes back, forty minutes later, after all of the battery on his phone is drained and he can’t hide in the keg room any longer without resorting to occupying his time stacking mouse traps.
“That’s a funny way of saying ‘carpal tunnel’,” Wade notes. “How about a blowjob?”
“I poured all of the Kahlua out before you got here,” Weasel admits. “I felt a little bad at the time, but I see now I was wrong to consider there might be some good left in you.”
Nathan lifts his glass in toast to that.
Domino is fashionably an hour late, but she does show up in good spirits, which is more than Wade can say about anyone else currently occupying the building.
“I expected more trivia for trivia night,” she says, chin propped up in her hand, elbow on the bar top.
Weasel glances between the three of them. “We don’t… we don’t have trivia night. Unless that’s a euphemism.”
“You said ‘trivia night’,” Domino says, spinning slightly on the barstool to give Wade a nonplussed look that he doesn’t feel especially moved by. “I distinctly remember that.”
“Trivia night is what you make of it, grasshopper.”
She glances past him at Nathan, who is staring into the stain on his glass like he might be able to discern the meaning of life from it. “Somehow I’m finding it difficult to believe you showed up for trivia night.”
“Every conversation with Nate is ‘trivia night’,” Wade offers, waving his hand dismissively. “He’s from the dystopian Hunger Games future where they don’t have television or Hot Topic.”
“Nate,” she echoes slowly, and finally manages to catch Nathan’s eye. “You let him call you Nate?”
“He doesn’t care what I call him as long as I call him,” Wade supplies, at the same time that Nathan shrugs and says, “Who gives a shit?”
Domino moves back on her stool so fast she almost falls off the back of it.
“Oh. Wow. You two are fucking,” she says, in awe. “I don’t know why I’m surprised, actually.”
Weasel grimaces harder. “Why would you put that out into the universe?”
“I’m serious,” she reaches over the bar to grab her own bottle, while Weasel is distracted with looking like he might vomit on his own shoes. “You know, it actually explains a whole lot. And also nothing at all.”
Nathan licks his teeth and turns to look at Wade. “This is why no one likes you.”
“Please. I’m a fan favorite.”
“Okay, trivia night,” Domino says, and pours herself a glass. “How do you have sex in the same house as Colossus? Does he stand outside the door and demand you sweet talk each other? Slip condoms under the door? Make you Mickey Mouse pancakes for breakfast?”
“Why would you want to know anything more than we already know?” Weasel asks, aghast, at the same time that Nathan looks up from his drink and says, “We tag team him, obviously,” and Wade bites down on the suddenly overwhelming urge to reach over and lick his jawbone.
“Was that a joke?” Weasel asks him, eyes flickering between the two of them like a nervous squirrel. “Did you give him a sense of humor? You’re playing with fire , Wilson.”
“It’s worse than I thought,” Domino tells him, and pours another shot. “They’re dating .”
Weasel dry heaves behind the bar.
“As much as it warms me internally to know my romantic affairs cause you all such apparent torment, you’re both horribly, miserably wrong as usual,” Wade corrects. “Nathaniel and I are strictly platonic battle buddies. At least until he finally collects all of the Infinity Stones and asks my pa if he can make a respectable woman out of me.”
“I want to believe you, for Weasel’s sake, but I’m feeling the bromance.”
Weasel glances around, like they’re talking about someone else. “Why is this back to me? Haven’t I suffered enough. Just let me die in peace.”
“I thought the whole point of the fantasy was that you hadn’t suffered enough,” Wade notes, speculatively. “I’m gonna need some flow charts for this. I can’t keep up.”
“It’s like I told you I have a cockroach infestation,” Weasel says, miserably, “and instead of calling an exterminator you built the roaches their own god damned amusement park and invited them over for trivia night .”
“Holy shit, you’re right - Domino hasn’t chimed in yet. Doms!” Wade smacks the bar with his palm, as though intending to garner the attention of someone across the room rather than still at his elbow. “Doms, you’ve gotta weigh in here.”
“What am I weighing in on? I’m not really into being trash talked during sex,” she admits, as Weasel stares at the bottle opener like he is considering eating it.
“Whatever you have to tell yourself to sleep at night,” Wade says, then continues, “No, Doms, something embarrassing. Or maybe a secret. We’re joining together in solidarity for trivia night. X-Force trivia night.”
She slouches against the bar. “I’m not really the embarrassing secret kind of person.”
“Neither is he,” Nathan finally speaks up, gesturing at Wade with his shot glass. “Why else would he want to play?”
Wade steals his bottle of whiskey back. “And now the game’s over – because you killed it. It was fun and then you killed it. I hope you’re happy.”
“My real name is Neena,” Domino offers lamely, then points a finger between them, “although, unlike Nathan , I do care what you call me. So don’t.”
“See? Bonding through adversity,” Wade says, waggling his eyebrows at Nathan, who rolls his eyes in a way that Wade is going to purposefully interpret as not exactly unfond. “It’s your turn, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Tell us your deepest, darkest secret that isn’t about the desire to gain another four inches on your inseam.”
“You’re a walking tabloid that speaks primarily in dick jokes and pop culture references,” Weasel chimes in, looking less pale. “No one caught in your disastrous gravitational pull could possibly retain any secrets or shame.”
“ Neena and I watch Wheel of Fortune with Al every Wednesday,” Nathan says, which should be more than enough to stab Wade’s constant desire to climb him like a tree right in the proverbial eye, but it doesn’t.
“Well,” Wade says, turning back to his drink. “That’s… something. I guess we take our small victories where we can.”
“Victory?” Nathan repeats, incredulous. “Don’t be ridiculous. They’re ruthless . I’ve haven’t won once.”
“He doesn’t know what a rerun is,” Domino tells them, with a shrug. “He thinks we’re psychic.”
Trivia night, or what little counted towards it, fizzles out pretty quickly.
Domino occupies herself by destroying two regulars at billiards, and Weasel retreats back to the keg room with a fully charged phone. Miraculously, no one is trying to kill anyone for a change. Which means that surprise not- trivia night is a complete success, even considering the way Nathan is staring into his drink like he’s considering the mathematical probability of an alien spacecraft crashing into him and ending his misery in the next ten minutes.
“So on a scale of one to ten - with one being ‘everything is fine, Wade, I’m having a great time’ and ten being ‘I’m planning on pissing in your ear while you’re sleeping tonight’ - how much are you regretting your life choices?” Wade asks, digging his elbow into Nathan’s rib cage because he is physically incapable of keeping his hands to himself.
“I’m hovering somewhere around a six,” he says. “But, for the record, for once , it’s not your fault.”
“Repeat that again. A little louder. Ignore the recording device I’m holding in front of your face,” Wade shifts back onto his barseat. “So - what? The six people in this bar a little too much socializing for you, old man? I thought we agreed on acclimation .”
“I’m acclimating. This is acclimating,” Nathan grumbles, pronouncing ‘acclimating’ the same way one might pronounce ‘tapeworms.’ “Never had a whole lot of time for this kind of thing.”
“Drinking in a bar?”
“Peace. Quiet. It gives me too much time to think.”
“Let the record show you said it was quiet in here. While talking to me. With me present. With me practically talking over you because I was already going into withdrawls from not having heard my own voice in the last ten seconds.”
Nathan huffs out an honest-to-god laugh , his mouth tilting up at the edge into the beginnings of a genuine smile, and Wade feels like someone has pulled his barstool out from underneath him. He says, without an ounce of irony, “I like the sound of your voice.”
“Oh, well, you and my narcissism would get along swimmingly then. Maybe we should set up a double date. Me, myself, my voice, and you,” Wade babbles, and he stares, helplessly, at where Nathan is still smiling into the curve of his glass. “It’s rude to fuck with my emotions during trivia night, that most sacred of all nights.”
“One: it’s not trivia night,” Nathan replies. “And two: I’m not fucking with you.”
‘ Be cool ,’ Wade thinks to himself, as his own traitorous mouth says, almost tripping over his own tongue, “Would you like to?”
Nathan stares at him for a moment, almost calculating, eyes narrowed and drink paused against his mouth. “Are you asking me to leave with you while dressed like you fell into a thrift store in Florida?”
“These are vintage , Priscilla, not unlike yourself,” Wade retorts, and gestures to himself. “It’s the whole enchilada.”
Nathan hums thoughtfully and then shrugs, downs the rest of his drink and sits the glass, empty, back onto the bar.
“Alright,” he says, and slides off of the bar stool.
The alley behind Sister Margaret’s smells like piss-laden garbage and chemical runoff from the 2-hour laundry across the street. Wade thinks to comment on it, but doesn’t get the chance before he’s distracted by how Nathan has apparently decided his space is their space.
He lets himself be crowded against the grimey brickwork before he says, “If I’d known it was going to come to fisticuffs I’d have brought you a milk crate to stand on.”
“More short jokes. What a riot,” Nathan deadpans, and Wade is distinctly aware that his hands are on his belt. “You keep it up and I might start to think you’re the one with the complex.”
“Oh, I’ve made peace with all my demons. We have tea every Sunday. You wanna know my trivia night secret reveal?” Wade asks, but he keeps his hands pressed firmly against the brickwork where they can’t fuck up whatever is maybe-happening maybe-not-happening right here. “The fact that I can see over your head makes me giddy in all of my special places. If you got on your tiptoes right now I’d probably cream my pants.”
“Go fuck yourself,” Nathan replies, without any heat. There’s a glint in his eye that makes Wade lightheaded. “Unless your neck is broken you can meet me halfway, you lazy-”
And that’s the only invitation his hands need to invite themselves to the party, to tangle in Nathan’s hair and tilt his head up just enough so that he can lean down and slot their mouths together. The thud of his heartbeat is somewhere in his throat, right underneath the possessive press of Nathan’s flesh fingers that clutch at the back of his neck. He smells and tastes like horrendously cheap whiskey, and his metal fingers are cold when they slide underneath the hem of his shirt to smooth over his stomach.
Wade kisses him until he remembers they both have to breath, until he is forced to pull away in order to ask, “So what’s it gonna be, old man? Your place or mine?”
Nathan huffs out a breath and says, incredulous, “If you think I’m giving you a chance to invite Colossus to join us you’re dumber than you look.”
“The shanty by the sea with the blind old lady it is then,” Wade agrees, and waves down the alley where Dopinder’s car is still parked. “Taxi!”