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CATaracts, CATastrophes, and Other Terrible Cat Puns

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Prologue: How to Rob a Bank (sung to the tune of “How to Save a Life” by The Fray)

Step one, you say, “Let's rob a bank.”
He walks, you say, “Calm down. It's just a bank.”
He looks warily back at you
You flash a thumbs-up right on cue
Some sort of risk in the fight
As says leave and you say fight
Between the words of fear and blame
You begin to wonder why you came

Where did I go wrong? I lost the game
Somewhere along in wanting the fame
And I would have succeeded with you to thank
Had I known how to rob a bank

You told him that you knew best
'Cause you thought you did know best
Try to slip past the bank's defense
Without any pretense
Lay down a list of what to do
The things you've told him would were true
Pray to skill to see you through
And I pray that this will see us through

Where did I go wrong? I lost the game
Somewhere along in wanting the fame
And I would have succeeded with you to thank
Had I known how to rob a bank

As police sirens begin to wail
You lower your weapons and try to bail
Drive until you lose the cops
Or break the ones that have followed
He will do one of two things
He'll admit to everything
Or he'll say it was just a game
And you'll begin to wonder why you came

Where did I go wrong? I lost the game
Somewhere along in wanting the fame
And I would have succeeded with you to thank
Had I known how to rob a bank

Where did I go wrong? I lost the game
Somewhere along in wanting the fame
And I would have succeeded with you to thank
Had I known how to rob a bank

How to rob a bank

How to rob a bank

Where did I go wrong? I lost the game
Somewhere along in wanting the fame
And I would have succeeded with you to thank
Had I known how to rob a bank

Where did I go wrong? I lost the game
Somewhere along in wanting the fame
And I would have succeeded with you to thank
Had I known how to rob a bank
How to rob a bank

How to rob a bank

Chapter 1 (of 1): CATaracts, CATastrophes, and Other Terrible Cat Puns

“I need you to stay at my house and take care of my cats for a couple weeks while I visit my sister,” Nathan had said.

“Sure thing!” Wade had said. “I love cats! They're like the ultimate combination of cuteness incarnate, evil demons, and prissy aristocrats.”

“They shouldn't cause you any problems,” Nathan had said. “They are, for the most part, a well-behaved group.”

“Uh, wait,” Wade had said. “How many cats do you have?”

“Four,” Nathan had said.

“Ohemgee, I didn't know you were an old cat lady!” Wade had said. “Since when did you have so many cats?!”

“I've had one of that cats for three years,” Nathan had said. “The other three I've had for four months.”

“Let me guess,” Wade had said. “You found them in cardboard box on the side of the road labeled 'FREE' and couldn't leave them there.”

“Something like that,” Nathan had said. “Don't worry, though, they've all been spayed and neutered.”

“You have a messiah complex, I swear,” Wade had said.

“Will you watch them for me?” Nathan had said.

“You need me to stay in the house with them for two weeks?” Wade had said.

“Ideally, yes,” Nathan had said. “Three of them are still new, and the older cat isn't very fond of them yet. I just need you to make sure that they don't destroy anything.”

“I thought you said they were well-behaved!” Wade had said.

“They are,” Nathan had said. “For the most part.”

“What the fuck does that mean?!” Wade had said.

“Thank you for doing this for me, Wade,” Nathan had said. “I really appreciate it.”

“You really think that it's a good idea to lock me up in a house with four cats for two weeks,” Wade had said.

“You won't be locked up in the house, Wade,” Nathan had said. “And I'm sure you'll be fine.”

“Y'know,” Wade had said, “I'm actually more of a dog person…”

But he'd agreed anyway, because he was nice like that.

If he'd known what the two weeks would entail, however, he would never have agreed to watch his best friend's cats. Oh no, he would have moved back to Canada to get as far away from the little demons as possible.

Those cats probably took a good decade off his lifespan, and he was sure he found a few gray hairs by the time the fortnight was through.

He spent a good half hour mourning for his beautiful blond hair. And then he decided, Whatever. Fuck it. He could always just dye his hair red.

And then get a fake I.D. and move to Canada so that Nathan would never be able to find him and ask him to watch his demonic cats ever again.

~Backwards time skip to the beginning of the cat-watching fortnight~

Nathan's house smelled like cat.

Wade, as he stepped into the hall of the house that was much too large for a single person to be living in by themselves (perhaps that was why Nathan had gotten the cats), he realized that he'd never actually been in his best friend's house before. Which was on one hand odd, since you'd think he would have visited the house of his BFF, but on the other hand it wasn't odd, because they'd only met about six weeks ago.

Yes, it was possible to become the bestest of best friends that quickly. “It was destined to be!” Wade would proclaim, placing one hand over his heart and raising the other dramatically. “Like chocolate and peanut butter! Or red and black! Or sake and Japanese food! Or hakuna and matata! Or wine and bowties! Or maple and bacon on donuts!”

And he would literally keep spouting such pairings until Nathan finally tired of it and smacked him in the back of the head, making Wade stagger forward and collapse to his knees, clutching the back of his head and claiming that he'd gotten a concussion from Nathan's huge fucking meatpaws, and how much did Nate work out at the gym anyway, because that amount of muscles could not possibly be easily sustainable and he must eat a fortune, so it was a good thing he was an attorney and could afford that much, and hey, why the hell did an attorney need to be so fucking buff anyway? Intimidation techniques in the courtroom? Because Nathan should know that Wade was not intimidated at all when he met Nathan.

(They'd met because Nathan had been Wade's attorney when Wade had been charged with robbing a bank at gunpoint. It turned out that Wade and his friend Bob, who worked at the bank, and his friend Jack, who was a camera man, and his friend Lester, who was a crazy stunt guy, were making a music video to a parody Wade had written of “How to Save a Life” by The Fray, titled “How to Rob a Bank,” but they'd neglected to inform the bank staff beforehand.)

(So when Wade and Lester, in a black masks and holding guns—that later was discovered to be a water guns—barged into the bank and told everyone to drop to the ground and give them all their money, several people called the cops.)

(The police had arrived to see Wade and Bob fist-fighting while Lester jumped back and forth over an open case of Monopoly money doing flips, and had arrested Wade and Lester.)

(Wade and Bob had actually been stage-fighting. But they were very good at it. Of course the police would think they were actually hitting each other! They were just that awesome.)

(Jack had found Wade a lawyer—Nathan Summers—who helped prove to the police that it wasn't a real bank robbery, and convinced them to change the charge to a misdemeanor for Disturbing the Peace. And then Nathan did some magical attorney thing and made an agreement with the bank so they didn't even have to take the case to court. Because Nathan was just that awesome.)

(Jack had also found Lester a lawyer—Akihiro, who also happened to be the son of Wade and Jack's history teacher from high school, Mr. Howlett, coincidentally enough—who got Lester off completely because all Lester had been doing was flips over a case of fake money.)

(Which totally wasn't fair, because Lester, being a stunt dude for movies, could totally have paid the make-up money to the bank—Wade, being a broke musician-wannabe, had ended up paying more money than he could really afford.)

(Last Wade had heard, Lester and Akihiro were dating and had gone to visit Akihiro's mom in Japan. Man, having divorced parents must suck, Wade figured—he at least knew what it was like to live with only one parent, and an embittered on at that, since his mom died of cancer when he was still in elementary school, and his dad hadn't taken it very well. Things between them hadn't ended well—they'd broken contact after an argument about Wade wanting to be a musician when his dad wanted him to go into the military, and had never contacted each other again.)

(However! On the plus side of the fake bank-robbing incident, Jack got some great footage of Wade and Lester being arrested that they used in the music video.)

(And also on the plus side, Wade got to meet Nate.)

(So all in all, pretending to rob a bank was one of the best decisions that Wade had ever made in his life.)

(Along with four other debatably bad decisions that led to him meeting his bestest friends in life.)

(The first bad-but-actually-good decision: in his Freshman year of high school, stealing the geeky kid's glasses in his first period class and then asking him to read the eye chart on the wall, only to discover that the geeky guy—Jack Hammer—had memorized the eye chart. “Holy shit, the geeky kid's a weasel!” Wade had proclaimed, putting on the then-declared Weasel's glasses, only for Weasel to tell Wade to give him back or else he'd hack his phone. Wade hadn't given them back, and Weasel had hacked his phone. And thus had begun their beautiful friendship.)

(The second: when he'd dropped out of college his second year to tour Europe on a bicycle, he'd seen this guy getting beaten up by a bunch of jerks in Italy, and had gotten bloodied kicking the jerks' asses, but had saved the guy, who also turned out to be an American—his name was Bob, which was so not-Italian that Wade had laughed until he was crying from the pain of his cracked ribs—who happened to be visiting family in Italy and had a bicycle. So, when they were in the hospital being treated for their injuries, Wade convinced him to join him on his bicycle tour of Europe, during which time Bob became an expert in rudimentary first aid from having to bandage Wade up when he tried to pull bicycle stunts and ended up tumbling down hills, falling off railings, and skidding across asphalt—he still has the scars—and thus began their beautiful friendship.)

(The third: starting a barfight in the London airport, before he was about to return to New York City after the bicycle tour, with this guy who beat him at darts—the both of them were drunk, and beat the shit out of each other, and got arrested (it was not the last time the two of them would get arrested together for something). After waking up in jail with pounding hangovers, they'd agreed that it had been fucking awesome, and Wade learned that the guy was named Lester—but Wade termed him “Bullseye,” because he never missed the bullseye. Wade gave Bullseye his phone number and told him to call if he was ever in New York and wanted to hang.)

(The fourth: once he'd gotten back to New York, not looking where he was going while biking on the street riding straight into the door of this tough, black mom named Emily Preston, who told him it was his own fault for running into her door and he needed to pay to fix his own busted bicycle, but who did patch up his scrapes and tell him, when she heard that he was looking for an apartment in the city, that there was an open apartment in her building. And thus they became neighbors, and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.)

(That tended to involve Agent Preston—he was convinced she was secretly an F.B.I. agent, even if she vehemently denied it and insisted she was a school teacher—yelling at him for doing stupid stuff like pretending to rob banks.)

(But hey, doing stupid stuff had worked out quite well for Wade! He saw absolutely no reason not to continue to do so.)

(And thus, his most recent stupid decision: babysitting Nate's four pet hellcats.)

“Wade,” Nathan said. “Are you listening to me?”

“What?” Wade asked, looking up at the taller man—seriously, the guy was like some kind of demi-giant, or something—demigod?—and blinking. (Those eyes were so blue, it was kinda creepy. Wade wondered what they looked like when Nate was sad. Did they get impossibly bluer? Because any bluer and Wade thought his heart would start crying.) “I'm sorry, I zoned out thinking about all the wonderfully terrible ideas I've had so far throughout my life, and wondering if this will be another one of them.”

Wade smiled sheepishly. “Were you saying something?”

Nathan sighed, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose.

“If you want that move to work, you really need glasses,” Wade told him. “Preferably half-moon ones. Like Dumbledore!”

Wade grinned. Nathan glanced at him, lips quirking.

“I was saying,” Nathan said, removing his fingers from his nose (ew! Not like that! From the bridge of his nose, not his nostrils! How old are you, seven?) and fixing Wade with those blue (blue blue blue blue) eyes (seriously, Nate needed an eyepatch or something to moderate the blueness to a tolerable level), “that they're indoor cats, and are never to be allowed outside.”

“Keep the kitties locked up in their kitty castle-prison,” Wade said, nodding. “Got it.”

He could tell that Nate was fighting not to roll his eyes.

“Are you sure it's a good idea to make me their prison guard?” Wade asked, pursing his lips. “Because I learned about that Stanford Prison Experiment when I decided—for some reason that I still have yet to figure out—to take that psychology class waaaay back in high school.” Wade's brow furrowed. “It can't have helped me that much, though, if I still can't figure out why I decided to take the class in the first place. There's got to be a psychological reason for that, right? Like, some secret, innate desire to manipulate people.”

Wade tapped his chin thoughtfully. “Or some secret, innate aggressive urge to kill people.” His eyes widened, and he held up a finger, exclaiming, “That's it! I've figured it out!” A brief pause for dramatic effect. “I obviously should have become a mercenary!”

Nathan snorted at that. “You, a mercenary?” He did that weird thing with his lips that was half smile, half maddening know-it-all smirk. “You're too much of a people-person.”

“Exactly why I secretly want to kill people for money!” Wade said, nodding definitively. “I bet being a mercenary pays a helluva lot better than being a musician, too.”

And then Wade froze, staring ahead into the living room, where a piebald cat—white with large black spots, including one over its left eye—sat perched on the arm of the couch, staring at him with murderous blue eyes.

“Nate,” Wade squeaked out, caught in a staring contest with the cat. Oh shit, the cat's tail was doing that twitching thing! “Did I mention that I'm not a cat person?”

Nathan's lips quirked up at the corners. “This is Neena,” he said, walking over and stroking the cat on the head. “She's my oldest cat.”

“She's terrifying,” Wade told him, finally tearing his eyes away from the cat to look at Nathan.

Nathan just chuckled. “She's not, really.” He scratched her behind the ears, and she finally looked away from Wade, arching into Nathan's touch in a way that said, 'Yes, pet me more, slave.'

Wade shuddered. Cats were so entitled. And now he was supposed to watch over them and cater to their whims for two weeks?!

What the fuck had he gotten himself into?

When Wade opened his eyes again, there were three more cats in the room.

These three were definitely smaller than the first one, and looked younger. Like teenage cats, rather than adult cats, Wade thought.

“That's Elizabeth,” Nathan said, nodding to the black cat with amber eyes that jumped onto the back of the couch, walking along it and completely ignoring Wade's presence. The cat passed through a patch of sunlight, and Wade saw that there were stripes in the black fur. Huh.

“That's Charlie,” Nathan said, nodding to a Siamese cat that had just strolled into the room, meowing with a loud, low-pitched voice. The cat jumped up onto the couch next to the black stripey one, only for the black stripey one to bat the Siamese cat in the face and make him fall off the back of the couch, meowing in annoyance while the black stripy cat ignored him.

Ooh, burn.

“And that's Noah,” Nathan said, nodding to a white and black “snow” Bengal cat lounging on top of one of the large speakers that stood in a corner of the room. The speakers appeared to be playing the classic rock station from the radio that sat on top of the waist-high bookshelf on one side of the room, opposite from the TV.

The song that had been playing—“Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd—ended, and the channel changed to commercials. In a smooth, graceful movement, the Bengal cat leapt down from the speaker, dashed across the room, jumped on top of the bookshelf, hit the button to change the channel—the new song was “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk—and then turned and dashed back to its place on top of the speaker, lying down again.

Strange cat. Smart cat, but strange cat.

Wade looked around at all the felines, and then back at Nathan. “What did you say their names were, again?”

Nathan gestured to them each in turn, saying, “Neena. Elizabeth. Charlie. Noah.”

“Where the fuck do you get those names?” Wade asked, snickering. “Those are names I'd expect to hear belonging to your aunts and uncles or something, not your cats. Maybe your great aunts and great uncles, even.”

Nathan just shrugged. “Sometimes I call Elizabeth Betsy. That suit you better?”

“Not really,” Wade said, still snickering. The piebald cat appeared to be glaring at him.

“I'll show you the ropes,” Nathan said, ceasing his scratching of the piebald cat's ears, and moving into another room, Wade following after him with an, “Aye aye, Captain!”

Taking care of cats will be easy, Wade had thought to himself. All you had to do was feed them and change the kitty litter, and other than that you could leave them alone to do your own thing. Totally low-maintenance. Not like having a dog that demands constant attention.

Oh, how wrong Wade was.

Because not only did he have to change the litter in the litter box and feed the cats, but he had to feed them several times a day, and make sure not to feed them too much, and he had to play with the cats, and he had to make sure they scratched the scratching post and not the furniture, and he had to work the feline pheromone product thingy that was supposed to help keep them calm, and he had to brush the cats' hair, and he had to brush the cats' teeth—their teeth!


Nate just laughed at him.

Wade didn't think he'd be able to remember to do all those those things to take care of the cats, considering he could barely take care of himself, and he had told Nate so.

“Nate,” he said, “how the fuck do you think I'm going to remember all that?! I can barely remember to brush my own hair and teeth! Man, I can't even remember the last time I brushed my hair!”

Nate looked at him. “Your hair looks fine to me.”

“Yeah, well, I rock bedhead like it's nobody's business,” Wade said, making an underwear-model face and brushing a hand back through is blond hair, making it stick up in the front, “but mine.”

“So you're in the bedhead business now, huh?” Nate asked, lips quirking, eyes twinkling in a way that Wade swore was uncanny. Like, seriously, Nate's left eye seemed to sparkle more than his right one for some reason, it was weird.

Wade was convinced that Nate's left eye was, like, a cyborg eye or something. Nate being a cyborg would also explain how he was so huge and strong and so fucking perfect. Way too perfect to be human.

“You bet,” Wade said, scrutinizing the hard line of Nate's shoulders. Definitely a cyborg. Probably a cyborg planning on taking over the world and turning it into a cyborg utopia. “I've even got it trademarked—and patented—to boot. Wade, Inventor of the original Bedhead, © and TM! Buy one, and you're guaranteed to knock the ladies—and gentlemen, and people of other, nonbinary genders—dead!”

“I don't think you were the first to invent bedhead hair, Wade,” Nate said.

“Well that's because you don't know anything,” Wade told him.

“Not knowing anything is obviously how I graduated summa cum laude from Stanford Law School and became a lauded defense attorney,” Nate said wryly.

“Nate, you may know a lot about law, but you know NOTHING about anything that is actually awesome,” Wade told him, snorting. “Like my awesomeness that is bedhead hair and the originating of it.”

“Is that why you hang out with me?” Nate asked, lips quirking.

“I hang out with you because you're eyecandy and you also keep me out of jail,” Wade said, grinning.

“Nice to know I'm appreciated,” said Nate dryly. “But if you were trying to distract me, it's not working. You need to brush my cats. Their hair and their teeth.”

Wade narrowed his eyes, wagging a finger at Nate. “When you get back, I will have taught your cats the talent that is glorious bedhead!”

“Wade,” Nate sighed. “Here, I'll show you how.”

So Nate picked up the piebald cat, and the cat brush, and began pulling the brush through the black and white fur, talking softly, while the cat rubbed its head against his hand and purred.

When Nate handed the brush to Wade for him to try, the cat hissed at him and clawed his hand, and then ran away while Wade clutched his bleeding hand and announced that he was DONE and was not undertaking this unless Nate actually PAID him to, this was NOT worth just being a good friend for, and Nate, my hand is bleeding make it stop before I bleed out and die.

“You're not going to bleed out and die, Wade,” Nate told him, carefully wrapping the bandage around Wade's hand. “And stop wiggling your fingers.”

“Damn right I'm not going to bleed out and die from your cats!” Wade declared. “Because if I do then I'm coming back and committing homicide on you! And they won't be able to convict me to death row because I'll already be dead!”

“Wade,” Nate said patiently, finishing the bandaging of Wade's hand and pulling back, beginning to clean up the first aid supplies, “there is no death penalty in New York. New York's highest court ruled that the state's death penalty statute violated the state constitution in June of 2004 in the case People v. LaValle. New York's death row was disestablished in 2008 by then-Governor David Paterson.”

Wade just stared at him with wide eyes. “I cannot believe you just spouted all that off the top of your head,” he said.

“Wade,” Nate said, “I'm a lawyer. It's my business to know that kind of information.”

“Well, how am I supposed to remember you're a lawyer when I'm being thoroughly convinced that you're a crazy old cat lady?” Wade asked, snorting as he picked up the cat brush and brushed it through Nate's hair.

“What's with this white forelock, anyway?” Wade asked, brushing through the white hair at Nate's brow that stuck out vividly against the rest of the man's dark brown hair. “Because I used to think it was dyed, but up close like this it's not looking very dyed to me.”

Nate grabbed Wade's wrist, gently, moving the cat brush away from his face. “I have Waardenburg syndrome,” he said. “My sister does, too.”

“Wardenburg whaaaaat?” Wade asked.

“Waardenburg Syndrome,” Nate repeated. “It's a rare genetic disorder. It can cause hearing loss and has been associated with other congenital disorders. However, my sister and I are lucky. Our only symptoms are the forelock of white hair, and very pale or brilliantly blue eyes. I also have some patches of white pigmentation on my left arm, which my sister doesn't have.”

“Huh,” Wade said, eyes darting to where Nate's left arm was concealed by his jacket. He glanced back up at Nate's blue, blue eyes. “If we're on the subject of disorders, I have ADD, and they also used to think I had psychosis when I might have accidentally mentioned that sometimes there are voices in my head, but eventually they decided that it was only brief reactive psychosis due to personal stress and I'd be okay in a few days.”

“And?” Nate asked, raising an eyebrow.

“And what?” Wade shrugged. “I don't appear to be impaired, do I?”

“No,” Nate agreed, “you don't.”

Wade giggled. “Man, we make quite the pair, don't we?”

“Indeed,” Nate said, lips quirking, offering a hand and pulling Wade to his feet. “Now are you ready to learn how to brush a cat's teeth?”

“If I weren't possibly sociopathic and were capable of crying then I'd be bawling right now,” Wade informed him as Nate pulled him out of the bathroom, going to find one of his poor pet cats to torture with a teeth-cleaning. “This is going to result in me getting bitten by one of your monster cats, just you watch.”

Wade didn't actually get bitten by the cat, but the cat did try to bite him.

He would have left then and there if Nate hadn't agreed to pay him and given him half the agreed-upon amount upfront, the other half to be paid when Nate returned, on the condition that all the cats were still alive.

“Well,” Wade said, once Nate had left and he was standing there in the middle of the living room, hands on his hips, watching the cats watching him. “This is going to suck.”

The piebald cat meowed in agreement, glaring at him.

The Siamese, Bengal, and black stripey cats just ignored him.

Wade sighed, hands falling to his side and shoulders slumping. “Well, at least I should be able to get some work done...”

And then the terror started.

First, Wade discovered that he couldn't walk anywhere without the piebald cat attacking his feet. He tried wearing socks and shoes around the house, but the cat just attacked the laces and clawed the socks nearly to fraying, so Wade tried to leave to go get his combat boots.

And then he found that he couldn't leave the house without the cat's trying to get out. So he was trapped. In the house. With the cats.

Well, there went his day job as a Starbucks barista.

He tried to sneak out, but the black stripey cat always, ALWAYS seemed to know what he was about to do. Even when he swore he'd left the cat on the other side of the house. It was like the cat was fucking psychic or something!

“You!” Wade yelled in frustration as he pointed wildly at the black stripey cat after it thwarted his attempt to climb out Nate's bedroom window. “Goddamn you! You're like some fucking psy—psy—psylocke!”

The cat blinked its amber eyes at him. Wade blinked his blue eyes back.

“Psylocke?” Wade murmured to himself, scratching his head. “What is that, some kind of a combination between 'psychic' and 'warlock'?” He looked down at the cat again, and purposefully avoided looking at the door, hoping maybe the cast wouldn't realize he was about to try to dash out of the room….

But nope, the cat strolled over to block the doorway. Dammit.

“Well,” Wade sighed, “since I can't remember your name—all I remember is that it sucked—I'll just call you Psylocke from here on out. How does that sound?” He stared at the cat.

Psylocke stared back.

“You have a name now,” Wade said. “So can't you leave me alone now that I'm not just thinking of you as 'the black stripey cat'?”

Wade stared into the molten amber eyes, slowly crouching down and leaning forward till he was nearly nose to nose with the cat, and was just starting to feel like they were reaching a mutual understanding between equal and dignified beings when there was a yowl and something attacked his head.

“AAAAAAGGHHHH!” Wade yelled, jolting to his feet, arms scrambling to remove the ferocious piece of claws and fur from his face. “G'OFF ME YA CRAZY BEASTIE!”

Finally pulling the piebald cat off his face, he peered at the cat's angry blue eyes, demanding, “Why do you hate me so much, kitty?! Why?!”

The cat swatted out a paw, scratching him across the cheek. “Meow!”

“YAAAGH!” Wade yelped, tossing the cat across the room.

He froze as he realized what he'd done, staring in horror as the cat flew across the room towards the wall—only to land in the laundry basket.

The very lucky cat stuck its head up, a dirty sock on its head, and Wade breathed a sigh of relief.

“You lucky cat, you!” he grinned as the cat glared at him and then indignantly climbed out of the basket, the sock falling of its head. The laundry hamper teetered, about to fall.

“You lucky, lucky cat,” Wade observed as the laundry hamper fell away from the cat. “I bet all the dominoes fall your way, huh?”

The cat eyed him, tail twitching. “Meow!”

“I'm going to call you Domino,” Wade decided, nodding affirmatively. “That's a much better name than whatever Nate calls you.”

Domino hissed at him, taking a step forward, ears back.

“...Spray bottle!” Wade suddenly remembered, jumping over Psylocke and darting out of the room to the kitchen, beginning to root through all the cabinets. “Cats are supposed to hate getting sprayed with water! There has to be a spray bottle here somewhere, right?!”

He caught a scurrying-like movement out of this corner of his eye.

“AIIIEEE!” Wade yelped, throwing himself backwards. “Spider!”

The Siamese cat blinked back at him from where he was sitting a few tiles away, tail twitching. “Miaou!”

Wade narrowed his eyes at the feline. “Where did the spider go?”

“Miaou!” the Siamese cat said. “Miaou miaou miaou miaou miaou miaou miaouuuu!”

“Heh,” Wade said, leaning back against a kitchen cabinet and grinning. “You speak almost as much as I do, huh? Guess Nate's house is never really quiet, despite it just being him and a buncha cats.”

“Miaou!” the Siamese cat insisted.

Wade looked at the cat again, tilting his head, frowning. “Say that again?”

“Miaou!” the Siamese cat repeated, glaring petulantly with blue eyes in a black face.

“There's something strange about your voice,” Wade noted, crossing his legs and leaning forward to look at the cat more closely. “Aside from that you are very loud and a low-pitched voice. I get why you Siamese cats are often known as Meezers.' Hm.”

The Siamese cat pounced on his knee, uttering an insistent, “Miaou!”

“Ow!” Wade cried as claws dug into his leg through his jeans, jerking back to hit is head on the cabinets. “Ow!”

“Miaou,” the Siamese cat said, standing on his thigh to put its black paws on Wade's chest, batting at the drawstring of his jacket. “Miaou!”

Wade looked at him with wide eyes, before bursting out in a grin. “Oh, I get it!” Wade said, reaching out to scratch the Siamese cat on the white fur between its black ears. “That piebald cat earlier was uttering a very America 'meow,' but you are making a very distinctly French 'miaou.' You're French, huh?”

“Miaou,” the Siamese cat said, clawing its way up Wade's chest to sit on his shoulder, starting to bat at the hood of his jacket. “Miaou.” It sounded like an affirmative.

Wade grinned. “You need a French name! Like, Jean-Phillipe or something!”

“Miaou,” the now-named Jean-Phillipe said, rubbing against Wade's face. “Miaou.”

“Maybe you're not so bad, eh?” Wade grinned, reaching up to scratch the cat's white body. “Maybe this week won't completely suck.”

“Miaou,” the cat demanded, rubbing against Wade's hand. “Miaou.”

“Oooor maybe you're just going to make me your slave and insist I pet and play with you all the time,” Wade sighed, letting his head fall back against the cabinets, though he was still petting the cat. “But if you stay this cute, I might just not mind. So stay cute, okay?”

“Miaou,” Jean-Phillipe said, which probably translated into, “Je suis ton roi. Obéis-moi.” Or, for you non-French speakers, “I am your king. Obey me.” But, you know, in French.

“I took French in high school, and then I visited France while touring Europe on bicycle, so I'm pretty sure that that's right,” Wade mused as he stood up, Jean-Phillipe still perched on his shoulder, miaouing. “But somebody let me know if I'm wrong, okay?” he asked of the empty kitchen.

Well, you know. Empty except for him and a French Siamese cat.

Wade tilted his head. “A French Siamese cat? Does that make any sense?”

“Miaou,” Jean-Phillipe said, front paws stepping on Wade's other shoulder so that he was kind of wrapped around Wade's neck.

“I guess,” Wade agreed, walking out of the kitchen to find his guitar case. “You know, this is making me want to sing some Maître Gims. What do you think about his song 'Bella'? It's about a stunningly beautiful girl, kind of like the one you're pining after, except not a cat.”

“Miaou,” Jean-Phillipe said.

“Don't scratch up my guitar,” Wade said, taking the case from where he had it leaning next to the door, walking over to the black leather couch in the ridiculously high-ceilinged living room, sitting down, cat on his shoulders and guitar in his lap.

“Miaou,” Jean-Phillipe said, lying down around Wade's shoulders. “Miaouuu.”

“Yeah yeah, I'm getting on with it,” Wade said, unclasping the case, revealing his red and black acoustic guitar. “Brought the acoustic rather than the electric,” he said, pulling the guitar out, “since I didn't think Nate had any amplifiers, and I figured it probably wasn't a good idea to scare the shit out of all you cats, anyway. But you can play anything on a steel string acoustic guitar, so,” he lifted the guitar out of the case with a flourish, “meet Deadpool III! My electric guitar is Deadpool VI. My first guitar, Deadpool I, I broke while doing one of those stage-smash things, mostly because I was drunk and I'd always wanted to smash a guitar on the ground. Didn't remember it in the morning, but Bob had been kind enough to film it for me, so I have this video of me smashing Deadpool I while Lester laughs his head off and then smashes a bottle of beer on the wall. Ah, good times.”

“Miaou,” Jean-Phillipe said, batting at his face.

“Alright, alright, I'm playing!” Wade said, batting back at the cat, before settling Deadpool III in his lap, fingers ghosting lovingly over the steel strings. “C'mon, baby, let me just check to make sure you're tuned.”


“Chut,” Wade hushed as he tuned the guitar. “Une seconde.”


“Alright,” Wade said, before clearing his throat. “This song is 'Bella,' by Maître Gims. Just in case you forgot, or weren't paying attention. You can just pretend that Psylocke Cat is named Bella for this.”

“Miaou!” Jean-Phillipe said, grabbing a drawstring from Wade's jacket in his paws, starting to bite at it.

Wade started strumming the guitar, nodding his head along to the beat, foot tapping a drumbeat. “Bella, Bella,” he started singing. “Bella, Bella. Ooh Bella, ooh Bella. Ooh Bella, ooh Bella.

“Elle répondait au nom de 'Bella.' Les gens du coin ne voulaient pas la cher-lâ. Elle faisait trembler tous les villages. Les gens me disaient, 'Méfie-toi de cette fille-là'.”

The snow Bengal glided into the room, leaping easily up onto the coffee table, settling down and watching the guitar and Wade with bright, vivid green eyes, ears perked up.

“Elle répondait au nom de 'Bella,'” Wade sang, smiling slightly as he sang, “Les gens du coin ne voulaient pas la cher-lâ. Elle faisait trembler tous les villages. Les gens me disaient, 'Méfie-toi de cette fille-là'.”

Jean-Phillipe was still gnawing at the drawstring of his jacket's hood, while the snow Bengal cat leapt over to the couch and pressed against Wade's side, purring.

“C'était un phénomène, elle n'était pas humaine. Le genre de femme qui change le plus grand délinquant en gentleman. Une beauté sans pareille, Tout le monde veut s'en emparer. Sans savoir qu'elle les mène en bateau,” Wade sang, while the snow Bengal settled happily beside him, tail seeming to twitch along with the song's beat.

“Hypnotisés, on pouvait tout donner. Elle n'avait qu'à demander, puis aussitôt on démarrait
On cherchait à l'impressionner, à—”

And then everything went to hell.

There was a yowl of “MEOWWW!” as Domino fell from the chandelier onto Wade, scratching and hissing, and then Jean-Phillipe started yowling, “MIAAOOUUU!” and leapt at Domino, and the two were hissing and scratching at each other and Wade and the guitar, and Wade was yelling, “Don't scratch up Deadpool III! I payed a hundred bucks for this Epiphone DR-100!” and trying to get them off him, and then the snow Bengal gave a yowl that sounded oddly alien and that Wade could not have put Latin letters to if he'd tried, and jumped into the fight as well, pushing the other two off of Wade.

And then Domino was running off, meowing, while Jean-Phillipe ran after her, miaouing and trailing Wade's jacket's drawstring in his teeth, while the snow Bengal stood on the edge of the couch, hackles raised, hissing.

“Hey!” Wade cried, lunching for the Jean-Phillipe and the drawstring, only to end up faceplanting into the couch. “Mmph,” Wade mumbled, face pressed against the black leather couch cushion. “Rich Corinthian leather.”

There was a soft but insistent prodding of his shoulder, and Wade turned his head to see the snow Bengal looking at him with surprisingly tragic-looking green eyes. The cat made a noise that sounded maybe kind of like, “мяукать,” except even more foreign than Russian. It probably deserved letters that looked even cooler and more exotic, too.

“What kind of meow is that?” Wade asked the cat wearily. “Klingon?”

The cat made the noise again, walking back along the couch to where the guitar was lying, prodding at it, making the sad myaukat-ish sound again. Or maybe it was more of a Turkish-ish miyavlama sound?

“Crazy alien cat,” Wade muttered, sitting up and rubbing his face, sighing when his hand came away with a streak of blood. “And damn crazy regular cats.”

Wiping his hand on his jeans, he reached over to pick up his guitar, examining the damage, sighing when he saw all the scratches on the red body.

“Well,” he said, brushing a hand over it, “at least it matches me, now, what with all the scars I have from my bicycle accidents, bar fighting incidents, and my dad's belt. You know,” he pulled back, examining the guitar, calling upon his artistic eye, which he liked to term Pool-O-Vision, because his artistic eye deserved a name, it was just that awesome, “this doesn't look half bad. In fact, it looks kinda badass. Imagine me playing at a venue, and people being like, 'Why is your guitar all scratched up, Wade?' and I can just be like, 'I was attacked by hellcats that hated my beautiful music and angelic singing.'”

The snow Bengal made that strange whining noise and nudged his head against Wade's hand on the neck of the guitar.

“What, did you like my singing and guitar playing?” Wade asked, smiling slightly as he scratched the cat behind the ears. “Aww thank you! And I like all the leopard-y stripes and tiger-y stripes you've got going, there, cat that I can't remember the name of. I'm just going to call you Alien Cat.”

Wade sighed again, taking his guitar into his lap and strumming a few chords while Alien Cat rubbed against his elbow, making that strange and alien sound.

Loud French-sounding miaouing could be heard from the other room, along with crashes and hisses.

“This is going to be a long two weeks, huh?” Wade said heavily, letting his head fall back to rest against the back of the couch. “It's only the first full day, and it feels like a week already.”

“Miaow,” came a cat's voice, and Wade looked up to see the Psylocke Cat standing across the room and looking at him with astute amber eyes.

Wade stared at the black cat with stripes for several moments. “Was that just me,” he asked the room, “or did that meow sound rather British?”

Alien Cat nudged him again, making that strange noise that was not Russian nor Turkish, and not anything else Wade could think of, either.

“You want me to continue the song?” Wade asked the cat, who seemed to nod at him.

“Very well then,” Wade said, calloused fingers dancing along the steel strings as he found the chords again. “Where was I? Ah, yes.” He cleared his throat. “On cherchait à l'impressionner, à devenir son préféré. Sans savoir qu'elle les mène en bateau. Mais quand je la vois danser le soir
J'aimerais devenir la chaise sur laquelle elle s’assoit. Ou moins que ça, un moins que rien. Juste une pierre sur son chemin.”

Alien Cat pressed against him, purring contentedly.

Across the room, Psylocke was sitting and cleaning herself.

“Elle répondait au nom de 'Bella,'” Wade sang, smiling slightly. “Les gens du coin ne voulaient pas la cher-lâ. Elle faisait trembler tous les villages.'”

The Frenchie Cat came back into the room, strolling over to Psylocke and tring to engage her in some kind of game, but she swatted him in the face and then stood and walked way.

It was all Wade could do not to laugh. “Les gens me disaient, 'Méfie-toi de cette fille-là.'”

Wade sighed as he got into his bed—well, technically not his bed, but the bed in the guest bedroom Nate had told him he could use—completely exhausted from his first day of taking care of his best friend's evil demon cats.

Finally, at last, he could have some peace and quiet and not get scratched up by any angry kitties, since the room had a door, and the door had a lock, and he'd made sure to lock it.

There was a scratching at the door, and Wade groaned, turning and flopping over so his face was pressed into the pillow. “G'way!” he said loudly. “M'sleepin'!”

There was a sound like a cat had jumped at the door.

Wade groaned, rolling over to his back so he could say, unobstructed by uncomfortable pillow: “Your attractive manservant and meatpost is done getting scratched up for today! Scratching hours are closed! Come back in the morning!”

There was the sound of a cat landing on the ground, and then the door was cracking open and a cat was slipping through into the room, making a noise of some unidentifiable, undocumented cat language.

“What the fuck?!” Wade cried, sitting upright and staring at the open door, mouth falling open. “I know that I closed and locked that! You have a cat that can pick locks and open doors, Nate?! Why the fuck did you not see fit to tell me this?!”

Alien Cat jumped up onto the bed, making that strange sound again that really, really did not sound like “meow,” walking on top of the covers over Wade's legs up to his waist, raising a paw and batting at his chest like he was trying to make him lie back down.

Wade groaned and flopped back against the uncomfortable pillows, throwing an arm over his face. “I can't leave the house, I can't hide away in a locked room. I am so obviously imprisoned here that it's not even funny. 'Take care of my cats,' Nate said. What he actually meant by that, apparently, was: 'I got you out of going to jail for pretending to rob a bank, but you still need to pay recompense, so I'm imprisoning you alone in my house for two weeks in solitary confinement. Oh, and by the way, your prison guards are cats. Demonic, evil cats.' That's obviously what actually happened, here. And the cats have made me there servant, forcing me to feed them and pet them and be their scratching post.” He sighed. “This is what my life has come to, huh?”

Alien Cat made that strange noise again and curled up on the pillow between Wade's neck and shoulder.

Sighing, Wade reached a hand up, scratching fingers in soft fur, making the cat start purring next to his ear, kind of like a warm, furry motor. It kind of tickled.

“Well, this could be worse, I suppose,” Wade mumbled into the dark, still petting the cat.

“MIAOU!” the French cat caterwauled, leaping out of nowhere to land on Wade's chest.

“Ooph!” Wade said, as the cat knocked maybe like half of the air out of him. “I just had to jinx it, didn't I?!”

“Miaouuu!” Jean-Phillipe insisted, sitting on his chest and batting at his face, making Wade groan and try to push him away.

“No batting,” Wade said, picking the Siamese up and setting him beside him, where he could rub him behind the ears. “And no scratching, biting, or puking, otherwise you can't stay in the bed. Understood?”

“Miaou!” Jean-Phillipe said, and it sounded like an affirmative, as he quickly settled down under the ministrations of Wade's fingers, starting to purr as well.

Wade sighed, relaxing back and closing his eyes, still petting both the cats that had apparently come to sleep with him. “Looks like I'm party of a kitty puddle. Kitty pile? Like a puppy pile or cuddle puddle, with cats.”

“Miaou,” the Frenchie cat agreed sleepily. “Miaou.”

Alien Cat made a noise that Wade was pretty sure meant, “Shut up.” But, like, in Klingon, or something.

Wade sighed. Did Nate really put up with this every night?! No wonder he'd wanted to get away for a couple weeks!

Wade hadn't even noticed that he'd fallen asleep until he was woken up at six in the morning with the light blinding his eyes.

“Aaagh! What the fuck?!” Wade demanded, sitting up and covering his eyes with his arms, sending a certain Siamese cat running out of the room, caterwauling loudly.

The lights went off.

“What the fuck?!” Wade asked again, blinking around in the dim room.

The lights went on again.

“Aaagh!” Wade cried, yet again, quickly covering his eyes, yet again. “What the FUCK?!”

When his eyes finally adjusted to the light, he removed his arms to see Alien Cat perched on the dresser next to the light switch.

“Miyavlama,” the cat said, Wade deciding to go with Turkish since he didn't know Klingon. But he could guess it translated to, “Get the fuck up and feed us you worthless human.”

The cat swatted the light switch again, turning it off and running out of the room, and Wade groaned as he swung his legs out of bed and started fumbling around in the dim room that his eyes were not adjusted to.

“Damn cats…” he grumbled, fumbling for a shirt from his suitcase and pulling it on over his head, and then stumbling out of the room in the t-shirt and sweat pants to go feed the damn cats. “Gonna...” he yawned, “send you back to hell… where you came from...”

With a refreshingly American-sounding “Meow!” Domino Cat rocketed between Wade's legs and took off down the hall, but not before causing Wade to trip over his feet and nearly smash his face into the ground if he hadn't caught himself about an inch away from smashing his nose in.

He groaned and let himself collapse fully onto the floor, which immediately made him start sneezing from the cat hair that had gathered on the rug stretched out in the hallway.

“Goddammit, this is only the second day!” Wade cried, leaning back against the wall, head in his hands. “How am I supposed to survive this?”

“Miaow,” came a very British upper-class-sounding cat noise, and Wade looked up to see Psylocke Cat staring at him with unimpressed amber eyes.

“What do you want,” Wade said dully.

“Miaow,” Psylocke said, which Wade translated as, “Pick yourself off the fucking ground and feed us already you complete and utter tosser.”

Then she stood and walked off down the hallway, tail in the air.

Wade sighed, standing and saluting wearily with a, “Yes m'am, Your Royal Highness.”

Six days later, and Wade had learned several things about cats.

For one, he learned that cats never, ever tired of unrolling toilet paper.

He learned that if you step out of a doorway in front of a cat, they will jump.

He learned that if you throw something at a cat that's not paying attention, they will jump.

He learned that you can have entire conversations with Siamese cats. In English or French.

He learned that Alien Cat would headbang to music with him.

He learned that, if you balled up a piece of failed sheet music and threw it away from you, Frenchie Cat would go fetch it and bring it back to you.

He learned that, if you tried to play hacky-sack, the cats would leap out and grab the ball out of the air and then try to tear it apart, but if you threw a hacky-sack in frustration, Frenchie Cat would go fetch it and bring it back to you.

He learned that cats could jump really, really high, and hide up on refrigerators and shelves to pounce on your head.

He learned that Psychic Cat could make herself invisible and then leap out of the shadows at him when he was most vulnerable (for example, when he was changing clothes and had his pants down around his knees).

He learned that Lucky Cat liked to jump from very tall objects, or from the balcony of the second floor, and was always miraculously perfectly fine.

He learned that Jean-Phillipe cat tended to get cups stuck on his head.

He learned that Alien Cat could climb curtains. And walls. And pants. And shirts. And liked to try to dismantle sinks and printers.

He learned that cats really, really liked chasing lasers. A lot. And that he could make them dizzy by making them run in circles.

He learned that Alien Cat could play Fruit Ninja.

He learned that Jean-Phillipe demanded attention all the fucking time.

He learned that, if he did push-ups, at least one cat would jump onto his back.

He learned that cats like to slap people, whether that be Wade, or each other.

He learned that Domino gave high-fives.

He learned that cats would sit on your laptop whenever they fucking felt like, for however long they felt like it, and not a mewment sooner.

(A mewment, get it? Instead of a moment? It's a mewment, because their cats? Badam-tsch!)

He learned that Alien Cat could turn on the stove, and apparently didn't care when he caught the dish towel on fire.

He learned that Psylocke knew where the cat treats were hidden.

And he learned that three-quarters of the cats hated baths with a violent, bloody passion.

As soon as Wade walked into the room, planning to give the cats their bath, Psylocke looked at him and then quickly darted out of the room.

Wade sighed. Stupid psychic cat. He'd get her last.

“Alright, who's ready for a bath?” he cried, scooping Domino up into his arms and cooing, “And look what lucky girl gets to be first! Who's a lucky girl?”

He managed to put her in the sink and turn on the warm water before she was scratching at him and scrambling to get away, yowling what sounded disturbingly like “Noooooooo!”

“Yes!” Wade cried, shoving her back beneath the water, making sure her fur was soaked through.

“Noooooo!” Domino cried, scrambling to get out of the sink, scratching at his arms.

“Yes!” Wade insisted, taking the cat shampoo and dunking it over her, rubbing into her black-and-white-patched fur. “Nate said you need to take a fucking bath, so I'm giving you a fucking bath!”

“Noooooo!” Domino meowed, trying to get away and almost succeeding due to being a slippery little eel.

“Not so lucky this time!” Wade said, grabbing her and making sure to rinse all the shampoo out of her fur. “You need this bath!”

“Noooooo!” was meowed.

“Yeeeeesss!” Wade insisted, holding her front paws together so she couldn't get away as he washed her. “So shut up and take your fucking bath!”

She finally slipped away when he tried to dry her, bolting away to another room still soaked, but not before scratching at him.

“Angry kitty,” he sighed, shaking his head. “You should talk to my therapist. He could help you with that.”

Next he grabbed a slinking Jean-Phillipe, who immediately started complaining, “Non! Non non non!” as he was placed in the sink.

“Oui!” Wade said, holding him under the faucet and turning on the water. “Oui oui oui!”

“NON!” Jean-Phillipe caterwauled, trying to wriggle away from Wade's grip and scrabble out of the sink. “NON NON NON!”

“OUI!” Wade practically yelled, scrubbing water and shampoo into the cat's fur. “YOU WILL TAKE THIS FUCKING BATH GODDAMIT OR I SWEAR I WILL SKIN YOU AND USE YOUR FUR TO COAT BULLETS TO GIVE THEM SENTIENCE!”

“NON!” Jean-Phillipe yowled, trying to claw at him, only for both of them to be surprised as Alien Cat jumped into the sink and started batting at the water coming out of the faucet.

There was a moment of truce between Wade and Jean-Phillipe as they watched, stunned, as Alien Cat happily played in the water.

“He's playing with the cat-aract!” Wade said, waiting for the silent applause and bowing to the kitchen of invisible spectators. “Badam-tsch!” A pause as he looked up at his nonexistent audience. “In case you all didn't know,” he told them, “a cataract is a large waterfall. Not just an eye condition, but—”

And then Jean-Phillipe yowled, “NON!” and tried to make another break for it, only for Wade to grab him and finish washing him off, before taking him out and drying him while the French cat continued to petulantly miaou what sounded disturbingly like “Non.”

Wade left Alien Cat playing with the water in the sink as he went to try to find Psylocke.

He didn't find her until he'd completely given up on the idea of trying to give her a bath.

Wade learned that Bengal cats really, really liked water. And that if you were taking a bath yourself, they would open the door, jump into the bath with you, and then bat your rubber duck around in the water. Or, if you were taking a shower, they'd jump into the shower with you, and bat at the water streaming from the showerhead. And they never. Grew. Tired of it.

And he jumped into the sink whenever Wade was trying to do the dishes, and proceeded to make the arduous task even more difficult, though quite a bit more amusing.

What with Alien Cat insisting on helping him do the dishes, Domino cat insisting on helping to drive him nuts, Pyslocke Cat insisting on not helping him with anything at all, and Frenchie Cat insisting on helping him with absolutely everything else, Wade was never, ever alone.

(And never, ever bored.)

Wade learned that the cats all really, really wanted to go outside. Probably to hunt birds, if it was any indication the way Jean-Phillipe, Domino, and Psylocke would sit by the window, staring at the birds outside with intense gazes, tails twitching, only to leap at the window to try to kill the birds.

The birds feeding at the bird feeder that Nathan had placed outside the window apparently, Wade assumed, to torture and taunt his pet cats.

At least, that was why he'd figured Nathan had put the bird feeder there, until one day he saw Alien Cat lying down by the window and contentedly listening to the birds outside singing.

And weren't Bengals the breed of cat developed from jungle cats like ocelots, margays, leopards, and clouded leopards?

What an odd cat indeed.

Though he wasn't the only odd cat in the bunch. Jean-Phillipe had taken to riding Wade's shoulder and chatting in his ear, Domino liked to stick her paws in Wade's cereal and try to fish out the cheerios even when he was looking straight at her, and Psylocke turned out to be a ninja cat.

No, seriously, he could hold her in his arms in the hallways, and she would do a backbend so her front paws were on the wall, and then she'd walked down the wall as Wade crouched slowly crouched down. No joke.

She was a ninja.

But she wasn't the one who escaped.

Everything was all well and good, staying locked up inside Nathan's fucking mansion of a house with the cats as his jailors, up until the point he ran out of food.

Well, food for him. There was a large supply of cat food, so the cats wouldn't starve. But if he didn't get sustenance of some sort for himself, then the cats were going to be eating his lifeless flesh soon enough.

He had no choice. He had to make it outside.

He thought he'd had them fooled by putting food out for them in the bathroom and then closing the door on them and making a run for it, but nooooo, there was a cat that could open doors, and a cat that could read his mind, and a cat that was really more like a dog, and a cat that was very, very lucky.

So lucky that she almost always got exactly what she wanted.

And, in this case, what she wanted was—you guessed it—to get outside.

“NO!” Wade cried, as the piebald cat darted through the crack in the door and between his legs, out across the pavement, across the lawn, towards the street.

“Oh, you have CAT to be KITTEN ME!” Wade cried in alarm, quickly slipping outside and slamming the door shut before any of the other cats could get out and running after the piebald cat.

The stupid piebald cat that ran straight out into the middle of the street.

“Fuck!” Wade yelled, running out into the street after the cat, vaulting over a car that almost ran him over, into the next lane, only to see a motorcycle coming.

“Shit!” he said, doing a backflip right over the motorcycle and motorcyclist, landing and grabbing Domino Cat, running back toward the sidewalk, twirling out of the way of another car that, he noticed, honked at him, but did not slow down at ALL.

“Holy fucking shit!” Wade cried as he staggered back onto the sidewalk, clutching the shocked cat to his chest. “What the fuck were you thinking, Domino?! You could have gotten killed! You could have gotten me killed! If I hadn't met Lester and he hadn't been training me parkour and flips and stuff for the past five years, I would have been guts on a windshield, and you would have been guts beneath a tire!”

There was a quiet, uncharacteristically quiet meow in response.

“You bet you're fucking sorry!” Wade cried, holding her out in front of him and glaring at her, his heart still racing, pounding inside his ribcage the way his roommate from college—huge Australian guy, blond princess hair that nobody teased him for because his arms were as big around as most people's thighs, total Norse God of Thunder look-alike, first guy Wade had ever had a crush on, you can imagine how awkward that had been—used to play the drums.

Wade wondered what he was doing, now, and if he was still fighting with his shifty adopted brother who always slicked his hair back like some oily fox with a British accent, which was how you knew he'd be the villain if life were a movie.

However, life wasn't a movie, and Wade wasn't a hero who could shake off saving a cat from fucking traffic like it was nothing.

He was shaken. And understandably so! “You almost got us killed!” Wade reiterated, shaking the cat for good measure. “We almost died you fucking crazy cat! Was that worth your brief moments of freedom?! Was it?!”

Luckily, no other cats escaped as he made his way back inside, and when he got inside and collapsed on the couch, the cats gathered near him, as if sensing his exhaustion and the fading remnants of his panic, and Jean-Phillipe made his home on Wade's chest, while Psylocke curled up on the couch by his feet, and Alien Cat stretched out by the radio and made sure that it was never playing commercials.

Domino, to Wade's surprised, slunk over and made herself comfortable next to him, pressed against his side.

She seemed to scratch and hiss at him less, after that.

Still, there was the problem that he was all out of human food.

Obviously, though, he couldn't go outside to a store to get more.

So he'd have to call in help.

“Hey, Bullseye!” Wade greeted as he called up Lester, holding the phone with one hand as he moved the laserpointer around with the other, watching the cats chase it around the room. “Do you like cats?”

“No, hate them,” Lester said. “Though they can make good target practice. You know you're interrupting my vacation in Japan with my incredibly sexy lawyer boyfriend, right?”

Oh, right. Lester was in Japan with Mr. Howlett's dick of a son. How had Wade forgotten that? And how the fuck did a lawyer get away with having a mohawk and being half-covered in tattoos?

“Sorry,” Wade said, moving the red dot of light up the wall, watching all the other cats sit with their tails twitching in annoyance as they watched Alien Cat climb up the wall to try and get the laser. “Just wondering, for absolutely no reason. Okay bye!” he said, and hung up.

See, he would have called Bob, because Bob was actually nice. And not only was he the nicest of Wade's friends, he was the most loyal.

He was also, unfortunately, the least dependable. Unless you threatened him, at which point he was suddenly very dependable. But any of Wade's threats were kind of moot when he was locked in a house with cats as jailors.

So he called Jack next. He had to turn off the laser for a moment, and all the cats glanced around the room frantically, trying to find it.

“Hey, Weasel!” Wade greeted, turning the laser pointer on again and watching as the cats spotted it and immediately pounced. “Do you like cats? You do, right? Aren't weasels related to cats?”

“No, weasels aren't related to cats,” Jack said longsufferingly. “And I'm not a weasel. But cats are okay, I guess. Why?”

“I need your help, man!” Wade said, circling the laserpointer around and watching Jean-Phillipe chase it in circles while the other three cats waited their turn to tackle him and take the laser for themselves. “I'm locked in a house with four hellcats that won't let me outside and I've been here a week and I've run out of food and I have seven more days of this you have to go get me some food, man! Please! I'm gonna die here and get eaten by these monster cats otherwise!”

Jean-Phillipe had gotten dizzy and had to lie down for a bit, and Wade pointed the laser at his tail, having to choke back a laugh as Domino pounced on him to try to get the laser, making him yowl in protest.

There was a sigh from the other side of the phone. “How the hell did you get yourself locked in a house with four cats for two weeks? Though I guess this does explain why you haven't been answering messages.”

“The cats won't let me!” Wade cried, making the laser zig-zag across the floor as the cats chased it. “They sit on my laptop and try to eat my phone! I have to distract them with a laserpointer just to have this conversation with you!”

Psylocke jumped up onto the arm of the couch so she could watch the laser chase from above, probably waiting to pounce in at just the right moment.

Well, they couldn't have that, now they could they?

“C'mon, man, I'm starving here!” Wade whined, moving the laser up onto the couch and watching Psylocke pounce for it at the same time as Jean-Phillipe lept at it from the ground, causing them to collide while Domino, also leaping for the laser, managed to avoid that entire debacle and leap right over them. “I haven't eaten anything in fourteen hours!”

Jack sighed again. “Okay, okay, I'll bring you some food. What's the address?”

“I don't know, I've been stuck inside this whole time!” Wade said, moving the laser to the wall above the book case, watching Domino and Alien Cat race up the bookshelf for it. “Go hack it from the location of this call or something! And don't pretend you don't know how to do that kind of thing! I was there in Las Vegas that time!”

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Jack muttered, before sighing yet again. “Okay, I'll find you. You're at Nathan Summers' house, right?”

Wade's jaw dropped, and the laser went off, causing the two cats now perched on the bookshelf to glance around wildly in confusion. “How did you know that?!”

“Just a wild guess,” Jack said dryly. “I'll be over there in a bit. Try not to piss off any of the cats and get eaten before I get there.”

And then he hung up.

Wade let out a breath and turned the laser back on, watching Domino and Alien Cat leap down from the bookshelf to chase after it, while Psylocke and Jean-Phillipe, who had been cat-fighting on the couch, abruptly declared a truce to go darting after the red dot of light.

Jack rang the doorbell a little over an hour later, and Wade yelled, “The door's unlocked! Come in while I keep the hellcats distracted so they don't try to escape and almost get run over by a car again! And make sure you close and lock the door behind you!”

When Jack walked into the room, he had Bob in tow carrying a couple large bags of groceries.

Which made sense. Jack was a wimpy-armed computer geek and genius—no, really, he was a genius; maybe not as much of a genius as Professor Tony Stark, world-renowned scientist who had taught at Jack's college (yeah, Jack was so smart that he got into the college that Tony Stark taught at) but more of a genius than that Peter Parker kid, which was definitely saying something, since that kid was science whiz (he had been a student tutor at Wade's university who had helped him considerably with his math and science classes, even if they had tended to get distracted arguing about movies and such)—and Bob was a simple-minded guy who didn't have much going for him except that he worked at a bank, knew basic first-aid, and regularly hit the gym. Why carry heavy shit when you have someone else who will willingly and happily do it for you?

“Mr. Wilson!” Bob cried, which was one of his weird character quirks, along with randomly shouting his college's fight song for their sports teams. Seriously, the college had brainwashed him good. He did it whenever he was nervous. “Mr. Hammer said that you needed our help!”

“Bob, my man!” Wade cried, walking over to give him a one-armed hug—partly because one-armed hugs were the manly type of hug to do, and partly because he was carrying the Frenchie cat in his other arm. “Thanks for saving me!”

Bob beamed at him. Brown hair, brown eyes, very generic, forgettable face (maybe a slightly more attractive nose than was normal, but otherwise, very normal and forgettable). Simple an sweet: that was Bob. “It was no problem at all, Mr. Wilson!”

Goddamnit, they'd known each other for almost six years now, and Wade still couldn't get Bob to call him by his first name.

“And Weasel, my other man!” Wade said, giving the tech geek a one-armed hug as well, the only difference being that, unlike Bob, Weasel didn't return it. “You are awesome!”

Wade knew that Weasel didn't mind hugs as much as he always pretend, though. That was the kind of thing you definitely could tell after having known someone for over ten years and hugging them around 3,650 times, whether they wanted hugs or not.

He supposed it made sense for Weasel to be wary of hugs, though, considering that probably about half the times he hugged Weasel he stole his glasses.

They were large, circular glasses—total Harry Potter style glasses, but with larger lenses, like Weasel's ambition was to look like a wise old owl, rather than the shifty little weasel he was.

And he kind of looked like a weasel, too, short—only five feet seven inches, though admittedly that was only an inch shorter than Bob's five-eight, but it was seven inches shorter than Wade's six-two (wow, he really surrounded himself with short people usually, didn't he? Except for Nate, of course, who was a fucking six-eight, the fucking half-giant like who the hell was that tall, seriously, he was even taller than Wade's thunder god of a roommate from college!)—but skinny and lanky, with a narrow face, brown, weasely eyes, black, weasely hair, and almost always a six o'clock shadow (and yes, Wade knew the phrase was five o'clock shadow, but Weasel's stubble was just a bit more than that).

So yeah, he looked shifty as hell, but he could be kinda cute when he was excited about something.

Which he definitely was not, right now, judging by the way he kept sighing and pinching the bridge of his narrow, pointed nose.

“Miaou!” Jean-Phillipe said, climbing up onto Wade's shoulders to look at the newcomers curiously. Maybe he thought Weasel was a distant relation?

“Hey Kitty,” Bob smiled, reaching out to try and pet him. Maybe he felt like the cat was a distant relation? Bob kinda acted more like a pet than a friend at times, after all.

Jean-Phillipe, however, did not seem to think they were related, as he hissed and slapped at Bob with a black paw, making Bob squeak in fear and hide behind Jack, which was rather hard when he was carrying to large paper bags packed with groceries.

“The cats take a little bit to warm up to strangers,” Wade said, lips quirking as he reached up to rub the French cat's cream fur. “This is Jean-Phillipe, by the way. That leopard-y looking cat over there,” he gestured to the snow Bengal sitting by the radio, “is called Alien Cat. The white one with the black spots is Domino,” he gestured to the piebald cat lying on top of the bookshelf, “and the black stripey cat hiding around here somewhere is Psylocke. You won't see her unless she wants you too, though. I learned that the hard way.”

“I'm guessing those are your names for them, not Nathan's,” Jack noted wryly, straightening his glasses.

“Nate had totally bogus names for them,” Wade snorted, turning and walking towards the kitchen, waving the two men to follow him. “C'mon and help me and Frenchie Cat here make dinner!”

Jack walked after him with a sigh, Bob staying close at his heels and eying the other cats in the room warily.

He nearly tripped on Psylocke cat in the hallway, but luckily that catastrophe was averted by a clever little genius of a Weasel.

And, since Weasel was a genius, not only had he bought food for Wade (“Which I fully expect you to pay me back for, by the way. And if you don't pay me back I honestly then I will wire the money from your account.”), he had brought more cat distractors, including bubbles and silly string.

It turned out that cats really hated silly string and would desperately try to get away from it.

They liked swatting at the bubbles, though.

It also turned out that cats were really, really good at getting the last olives out of narrow-necked jars. Who knew cats could be so helpful while one was cooking?

It turned out that only one person could get out of the house at a time. The other two people were needed to keep the cats from escaping.

Both Jack and Bob had tried to leave, but when Psylocke tried to make a break for it, Jack ended up having to grab her and pull her back, and only Bob made it out.

He was the one who really needed to get out, any way, since he had work at the bank the next day. Jack, being a tech-y programmer dude, could do his work from Wade's laptop, which was nothing he'd hadn't not done before.

And he had never needed to actually hack Wade's computer, either—he could always just guess Wade's passwords, no matter how many times he changed them. It was really, really fucking annoying.

(“C'mon,” Wade whined, when Weasel guessed his password yet again. “That password was so totally random! There's no way that anybody should have been able to guess that!”)

(“I'm not nobody else,” Weasel reminded him, calmly tapping away. “I've been your best friend for over a decade. I know you better than anyone.”)

(Weasel was right. Weasel was basically always right. He was a stupid fucking genius like that.)

(When Wade checked in on him later, Weasel was working comfortably on Wade's laptop, Psylocke Cat curled around his shoulders. Which was not even fair, Wade thought, and Jean-Phillipe agreed.)

So both Wade and Jack were then stuck in the house for Thursday and Friday. Bob came back on Saturday with more food, and, since he didn't have to work on the weekends, it was his turn to stay with Wade and take care of the cats and Jack's turn to get away.

While Jack had mostly ignored the cats, and they had apparently loved him for it, Bob quickly became terrified of them after being scratched a few times.

He was such a wimp. He'd only bled a little bit, and he knew basic first-aid, so, really, he shouldn't have freaked out so much.

Wade had told him so, and Bob had informed him, hysterically, that it was very different when it was Wade who was the one that was bleeding.

(“Wow, thanks man,” Wade had said dryly, even while dabbing the antiseptic on Bob's wound, which had made Bob cry out and sob even harder. The guy had absolutely no pain tolerance, seriously. You could get him to beg for mercy and do almost anything you asked just by pinching him.)

It was Saturday—“Caturday!” as Wade had decided to call it—and the ninth day of Wade's cat-sitting adventure, when Nate finally called to check up on him.

Seriously, what had taken the guy so long, anyway? Wade and all four of the cats could have been dead by now!


Nathan trusted Wade. Which was really saying a lot, especially considering that they hadn't known each other for very long.

However, it occurred to him, on the ninth day of his trip, that he should probably call Wade to check in on him. He assumed Wade wasn't having any problems, since, he assumed, if Wade was having problems, he would have called Nathan to tell him about them and ask for help, if he needed it.

But, it occurred to him, he should probably call Wade, anyway.

“Bonsoir, Nate!” Wade greeted when he picked up the phone. “Comment ça va ?”

“What?” Nathan said, blinking. “Wade, was that French?”


“I don't speak French, Wade,” Nathan said.

“You don't?!” Wade cried, sounding genuinely surprised. “Then how the hell did Jean-Phillipe learn French?!”

Nathan blinked again. “Jean who?”

“You're not British, are you?” Wade asked.

“No,” Nathan said, confused. “Why would I be British?”

“Are you secretly Klingon?”

Nathan furrowed his brow. “What's Klingon?”

There was a pause on the other end of the phone, and then Wade was exclaiming, “You don't know what Klingon are?! They're a warlike humanoid alien species in the television series Star Trek and its derivatives and sequels! How the fuck do you not know that?”

“I never watched Star Trek, Wade,” Nathan said calmly.

“You never watched Star Trek?!” Wade cried, sounding scandalized. “I knew it! You're not human, after all!”

Nathan sighed. “I assure you, Wade, I am very human.”

“Nuh-uh! A human would have watched Star Trek!”

“That's not what I called to talk about,” Nathan said, deciding it best to just change the subject. “How are you doing? How are the cats?”

“It's been claw-ful, Nate!” Wade cried, as if he'd been waiting for it. “I haven't been feline well! I think I might need a purr-amedic. Pawlease et meowta here, Nate!”

“...Those puns are beyond awful, Wade,” Nathan informed him.

“You're right,” Wade agreed. “They're cat-astrophic.”

“Wade,” Nathan said, a hand over his face.

“Sorry!” Wade said. “Really, I hate cat puns. They freak meowt.” A pause as Nathan groaned and Wade laughed. “Just kitten, their hissterical!”

“Wade,” Nathan said.

“Okay, okay! Stopping with the cat puns. Right meow; this very mewment.”

“Wade,” Nathan said again.

“I did it again, didn't I?” Wade sighed dramatically.

“Yes,” Nathan agreed.

“Okay, well, fur-realz this time,” Wade said with a grin in his voice, making Nathan groan again. “Your cats are doing claw-some. They're very cathletic and have a lot of cat-itude. Psylocke is a master of purr-suasion, Alien Cat is a mew-sician, and Jean-Phillipe is an expert in getting me to pro-cat-stinate. And Domino? Well. She's just meow-nificent, isn't she?”

Deciding to ignore the apparently shameless force-feeding of terrible cat puns, Nathan said, “You renamed all my cats?”

“Your names for them were bogus,” Wade said. “Also, I forgot them.”

Nathan facepalmed. “But everyone's alive and well?” he asked, hoping he wouldn't regret the question.

“Only one cat almost got run over by a car, and that only happened once,” Wade said, and Nathan, for the life of him, could not tell if Wade was joking or not. “So yeah, aside from that, everyone's okay! Well, except for Bob, who's currently hiding behind the garbage can completely scared out of his mind, but he's scared of his own shadow, so it's normal behavior for him and doesn't count.”

“Bob?” Nathan asked, raising his eyebrows.

“I had to call in some help,” Wade said. “It turns out that only one person can leave the house at the time, so two of us have to stay here while the third makes a break for it. Fuck guard\-dogs, man, guard-cats are the fucking monsters!”

Nathan rubbed the bridge of his nose. “Who else is there?”

“Weasel. Don't worry, though. Also being a small, clever mammal, he gets along quite well with the cats.”

“Jack Hammer?” Nathan said, letting out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. “Oh, good. I'm glad you have someone capable to help you.”

“Hey, Bob can be capable!” Wade said. “Well, sometimes. Well, okay, maybe not most of the time, but it's fun to watch someone else be terrorized by your hellcats for a change.”

Another voice in the background was audible saying, “I heard that!”

“No you didn't!” Wade called, voice sounding more distant. “You didn't hear anything!” His voice was closer again as he said, “So, Nate. How's visiting your sister?”

“It's good,” Nathan said simply, not wanting to get into it.

“You paw-sitive?” Wade asked. “You sound a little down, Nate. Missing your evil hellcats?”

“They're not evil hellcats,” Nathan said, sighing.

“Oh really?! Shows what you know!”

“I just wanted to check in to make sure you were doing okay, Wade.”

“Yeah, well, it's the ninth fucking day I've been watching your fucking cats. A little late to check up on me to see if I'm okay, don't you think?”

“I'm sorry, Wade. I assumed that if you were having any problems, you would have called me.”

“Problems? Who said I was having problems? We're playing mew-sic and paw-tying it up over, Nate! I got ninety-nine problems but a cat ain't one!”

Nathan frowned. “Are you sure you're okay, Wade?”

“Yeah, paw-sitive! Live long and paws-purr, Nate!” And then Wade hung up.

Nathan stared at the phone in his hands. Had that been a reference that he hadn't understood?

He suddenly found himself worried about the situation at his house. Maybe asking someone he'd only known for a few weeks, someone who his cats had never even met before, to watch them for a couple weeks, hadn't been the best idea on his part.

~Back at the Cat-Guarded Prison~

Wade let Bob have the bedroom that night, since it had a door, and he was terrified of the cats. Wade slept on the couch, figuring that the cats would be so busy bothering him during the night that they wouldn't terrorize Bob.

Wade was a really, really nice guy. Really. Not just anyone would willing throw themselves to the hellcats to keep a friend in a less terrified state of mind than they'd be in otherwise.

Hell, not just anyone would have agreed to watch the hellcats in the first place.

So Wade well asleep with three cats curled on his chest and making it hard to breath, and one cat perched on the top of the couch looking like she was going to pounce on his face as soon as he started talking in his sleep, like the last four nights.

It really wasn't Wade's fault he talked in his sleep, really!

Usually he was woken up by cats jumping on him, biting his feet, caterwauling, or turning the lights off and on. But not this morning.

No, this morning he woke up alone, all the cats gone, the house strangely silent.

“You have entered...” Wade murmured, sitting up and glancing around, “the Twilight Zone.”

He got up and started walking quietly through the house to see what was up, but the silence was freaking him out, so he stopped trying to be quiet and let himself step loudly, stomping a little bit as he yelled, “Alright, what the hell is going on here?! This is the paw-ty police! Whatever you did, it's time to face the mew-sic!”

The door of the hallway bathroom flew open, and Wade suddenly found himself with arms full of Bob.

“Mr. Wilson!” Bob cried, clutching Wade's loose sleepshirt. “Oh Mr. Wilson, thank god you're awake!”

“Bob?” Wade asked, patting the man's mousy hair uncertainly. “Why were you hiding in the bathroom?”

“Th—the cats—” Bob stammered into Wade's chest, “—they opened the door! And—”

Wade sighed, rubbing his face with a hand. “Yeah, sorry about that. One of them is an alien. They didn't hurt you too bad, I hope?”

“N-no,” Bob stammered, finally pulling away slightly, rubbing at red-rimmed brown eyes. Oh, fuck, he had that kicked-puppy-dog expression on, too. Goddamn Bob's kicked-puppy-dog impression. “B-but I th-think they m-might've been d-destroying stuff...”

Wade sighed, reaching out to rub Bob's back, saying, “It's alright, Bob. Why didn't you come get me?”

“I-I was t-too scared to come out of the b-bathroom...” Bob mumbled, and Wade sighed again. That was one thing about Bob—he caused Wade to sigh around him almost as much as everybody else sighed around Wade. Wade was pretty sure it was one of the reasons Weasel had taken so well to Bob and decided to bring him with him whenever Wade was involved.

“Alright, why don't you go make yourself some hot cocoa?” Wade said, pushing Bob towards the kitchen. “I'll go see what destruction the cats have caused.”

“O-okay. Th-thank you, Mr. Wilson.”

Wade waved him off, walking down the hallway towards the guest bedroom where he'd been staying, seeing the door was open.

It was ominously quiet.

Wade wished the door had been closed just so he could have thrown it open dramatically as he stepped into the room, but alas, he was able to give no such dramatic entrance as he strode into the room to see what the cats had done.

“Alright, what have you quarrelsome quartet done now?!” Wade demand, striding into the room.

He stopped dead, mouth dropping open.

The reaction would have been much more effective if he'd had a closed door to throw open before storming in. But, alas.

He was stuck with the rather ineffective, shocked reaction of walking into an open room to see three cats chewing on and playing with all his clothes that he'd packed, his suitcase lying open a few feet away, the fourth cat occupying it like it was a kingly bed.

“Miaou!” Jean-Phillipe Cat said, looking up from chewing up the drawstrings of Wade's favorite second-favorite jacket. “Miaou!”

Wade's jaw snapped closed. He sighed. “This is revenge for me giving you all baths, isn't it?” he asked. He looked over at Alien Cat, who had shredded up one of his pairs of jeans, and was currently rearranging the pieces. “But et tu, Brucé?

Well, it looked like he'd be wearing his old, stained white t-shirt, and happy-face boxer shorts for the rest of the day.

He'd call Weasel and ask him to bring him more clothes when he came back.

It was a few hours later that he got the phone call.

“Wade Wilson,” the woman on the other side of the phone greeted.

“Sandi Brandenberg?!” Wade asked, grinning as he pet a relaxed Alien Cat. The cats were too evilly cute for him to stay angry at them for destroying all his clothes—besides, he'd just make Nate buy him new ones. “That's so nice of you to call me! Do you miss me?”

Another voice could be heard on the other end of the line whispering, “Tell him Yes, Sandi!”

“Inez Temple, is that you?!” Wade asked, grinning wider. “Now, why are the manger and drummer of the semi-successful band Agency X calling me today, hm? Did you finally realize that I'm a better guitarist and singer than Nijo?”

Inez's voice whispering, “Tell him Yes, Sandi!” could be heard again.

“Kind of,” Sandi said. “Nijo is currently indisposed, but Agency X has a large gig in a few hours. We need you to be his stand-in, since we all know that you can sing and play guitar, and that you have all Agency X's songs memorized.”

Wade brightened, ceasing his petting of the snow Bengal to stand up, keeping his voice uninterested as he said, “Will I be paid?”

Alien Cat whined at him, leaping down from the couch and headbutting Wade's legs to try to get him to continue petting him.

“Tell him Yes, Sandi!” Inez could be heard whispering.

“Yes, Wade,” Sandi said. “You will be paid exactly what Nijo would have been for this gig.”

Wade whooped, fistpumping and almost accidentally stepping on the cat winding around his legs. “Alright! You can count me in!”

The phone had apparently changed hands, because a male voice growled, “And no funny business, Wade. This is a serious gig.”

“Tony Masters, my man!” Wade cried, face lighting up at hearing the voice of the band's bassist and his old-time friend from college (who he'd actually met while stalking the library at night during finals in a gorilla suit to freak out the students who were studying, only to find someone else—who turned out to be Tony—stalking the area in a skeleton suit, apparently with the same idea). “It's been too long! Are you still wearing that skull mask on stage all the time?”

“It hasn't been long enough, if you ask me,” Tony muttered, before saying louder, “Yes, I am still wearing the mask. And you need to dress for occasion, too.”

“How does Agency X even work as a band?” Wade asked, as Alien Cat got tired of being ignored and, without any pants to climb up since Wade was just wearing boxers, jumped onto the arm of the couch and then up onto Wade's shoulder, fur brushing against the ear the phone wasn't pressed to. Wade made a soft ooph noise, before reaching up to pet the snow Bengal, continuing, “I mean, you all have, like, completely different themes! You have the black-and-white and skull-face theme going on, and Inez has the sexy cowgirl thing going on, and Nijo has that weird brown suit he's always wearing and that large eye-liner X he draws on his face. How does that all even work?”

“We make it work,” Tony growled. “Now get your ass down here. We except you there in an hour for the soundcheck.”

After Tony had rattled off the address of the gig and hung up, Inez calling a cheerful, “See ya soon, Wade!”in the background, Wade stood there grinning like an idiot for as long as it took for him to realize that the only clothes he had available to him were the happy-face boxer shorts and stained white t-shirt he was currently wearing.

Which was about five minutes, since he was so happy they'd finally asked him to join their band—even if it was only temporarily—that it took him a while to fall through Cloud Nine.

But when he finally did fall through, he fell fast, and hit the ground below with a bone-shattering strength.

“FUCK!” Wade yelled, causing Alien Cat to jump off his shoulder in alarm, and Jean-Phillipe to give a loud, “MIAOU!” in response from where he'd been playing with a ball of yarn that Wade had found lying around, the two of them shooting across the room to watch Wade warily as he began pacing, hands in his messy blond hair that he hadn't brushed for days.

“Fuck fuck fuck!” Wade cried, gripping his hair and tugging. “I can't go to the gig like this! Fuck!

“What is it?!” Bob cried, running in from the kitchen wearing an apron and carrying a spatula, as he'd been happily cooking lunch. Apparently cooking made him happy. And hey, whatever helped keep him calm, right? Not to mention that he really wasn't a bad cook. Much better than Wade was, anyway. “Is there a problem, Mr. Wilson?!”

“I got this really great gig and I don't have any clothes to wear!” Wade cried, collapsing on the couch, head in his hands. “Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck me!

A hand gingerly patted his head. “Maybe you could borrow some clothes, Mr. Wilson?”

Wade stopped cursing.

“That's it!” he exclaimed, leaping to his feet and pulling Bob into a quick hug, grinning, before running out of the room, calling, “You're a genius, Bob!” over his shoulder as he went.

Bob just kinda stood there for a few moments, before sharing a very confused look with the cats.

Maybe they had something to bond over, after all.

Wade tore through Nate's closet, but gawd-fucking-damnit the guy was so fucking huge that none of his clothes would fit Wade. Anything that Wade tried to wear, he would have been drowning in, and that was probably worse than just going in boxer shorts and a stained t-shirt.

“Fuck!” Wade yelled, running out of the room to check some of the other guest rooms, just in case a guest had ever left any clothes or something.

Hey, it was worth a chance, right?

Guest bedroom one: nothing.

Guest bedroom two: also nothing.

Guest bedroom three: “Jackpot!” Wade cried as he opened the third, and last, guest bedroom's closet to find clothes looked closer to his own size than Nathan's size.

However, he froze when he realized all the outfits were dresses.

Wait. When Nate had given him the tour, hadn't he said that this was the guest bedroom that his sister always used when she visited?

Wade looked at what must have been Nathan's sister's dresses and then said, “Fuck it,” and began searching through them for a good one to wear.

Hey, a nice dress had to be better than boxer shorts and a t-shirt, right? Tony and Sandi and them couldn't blame him for showing up in a dress—it wasn't like he had a choice, here! (Inez would probably like it, even.)

And damn if some of the dresses weren't really, really hot.

“You know what?” Wade said, grinning as he pulled out what looked to be a black and red flamingo prom dress with a huge rose in a delightfully awkward spot, “I think this is gonna be really fun!”

He'd have to see if Nathan's sister had left any panties lying around, too, because he couldn't very well wear boxer shorts under the dress when it would show, now could he? And he might as well borrow a pair of high heels, as well.

Because if you're going to go, you might as well go all the way, right?

Besides, he'd lost enough bets in his lifetime that he already knew how to make a dress and high heels work.

~A totally awesome alternative rock gig (that Wade totally rocked the shirt off of, sometimes literally) of time later~

Exhausted but still holding onto some lingering traces of exhilaration, Wade opened the door and high-heeled it over to the couch, collapsing down onto the black leather and letting out a breath, the lights of the concert still dancing before his eyes, music still pounding in his head.

He smiled.

Like he'd expected, Tony and Sandi had been upset at the dress and the scratched-up guitar, but Inez had liked it, and it turned out that the audience had liked it as well, after he'd given some awesome exposition, and it wasn't long before he had the audience wrapped around his little finger, and even Tony looking at him with grudging respect. Being the lead vocalist of a band was awesome, and Wade was awesome at it. Doing and saying entertaining shit and getting the audience drummed up and excited? Yeah, Wade was born for that kind of thing.

It had been one of the best nights of his life, easily. Along with that time he and Lester had stolen a ton of fireworks and then set them all off at once and then had to run from the police, who just couldn't keep up with their mad parkour skillz. With a Z! Because that was just how awesome their skillz were.

And then he abruptly realized that he'd gotten into the house, and not a single cat had come racing for the door to try to escape.

Standing up and grabbing the train of his dress again so it wouldn't drag on the ground, he ventured further into the house, calling hoarsely (he hadn't sung so much in ages), “Bob? Bob, are you and the cats still alive?”

“In here, Mr. Wilson!” came a surprisingly cheerful voice, and Wade walked into the hallway to find a grinning Bob sitting on the floor covered in cats. Alien Cat was on his shoulder, Psylocke was rubbing against him, and Domino and Jean-Phillipe were in his lap.

“Uh,” Wade said hoarsely, scratching his head. “Well, this is new. When I left, you were running around the house screaming while the cats chased you. What changed?”

“Well, see,” Bob said, grinning as he pet a miaouing Jean-Phillipe between the ears, “I was running around being chased by the cats, so I needed to find a hiding place, so I hid in the closet. And it turned out that the closet had a light switch inside, and I accidentally bumped into it, so then there was light, and it turned out there were some catnip toys in there. So I used the catnip to make them love me!” He beamed as Domino headbutted his arm until he started petting her.

“Good job, Bob!” Wade smiled, managing to drudge up some cheer despite his utter exhaustion and aching voice, crouching down to pat the brunette on the head. “I'm proud of you.”

Bob's beam widened. “Thank you, Mr. Wilson!”

Wade had just pulled a surprisingly content Psylocke into his arms when the doorbell rang.

“Huh,” Wade said, glancing over at where the front door was, even if he couldn't see it through the wall. “Did Weasel say he was coming back tonight?”

Bob wrinkled his brow. “I don't… think so? But maybe?”

“Keep those three busy,” Wade said (and his voice was still hoarse), nodding at Bob and the other cats. “I'll go answer the door.”

“Yes, Mr. Wilson!”

Psylocke in his arms and rubbing her beautiful black head beneath his chin, Wade high-heeled it to the front door, opening it.

“We didn't except you back so soon, Weas—” he started, only for his eyes to widen and his jaw to drop. “Uh, I mean,” he said, gathering himself, “I didn't expect you back so soon, Nate.”

“We didn't except you back so soon, Weas—” Wade stopped, eyes widening.

Nathan stared.

Wade was wearing one of his sister's dresses—the black and red one she'd worn to senior prom, actually, and that showed off a lot of leg (and while it was strange to see Wade in a dress, especially Nathan's own sister's dress, Wade did have the legs for it) and a large rose, the placement of which was a lot more awkward when the dress was worn by a guy. Wade was also wearing a pair of Nathan's sister's high-heels (and looked to be walking quite well in them), and carrying a content-looking Elizabeth in his arms (Nathan was at least relieve to know that she had warmed up to Wade—and if Elizabeth had warmed up to him, then everyone else must have, too).

The dress looked… surprisingly hot, on him. Nathan had never considered himself to be into the cross-dressing thing, but seeing Wade in that prom dress… he'd have to consider the possibilities.

Later. Right now he needed to stop staring at his friend (who he maybe wished was something more) and make sure that all his cats were okay.

At least his worry for Wade had appeared to be unfounded.

Wade visibly collected himself, managing a smile and saying, his voice strangely hoarse, “Uh, I mean: I didn't expect you back so soon, Nate. Weren't you supposed to be gone another, like, four days, or something?”

Nathan opened his mouth, but nothing came out, his eyes still locked on Wade's form in his sister's dress.

Luckily, his sister broke the silence for him.

“He was worried about you,” Starlin drawled, stepping out from behind Nathan to stare Wade down, her eyes flicking over the blond's form. “And why the hell are you wearing my old prom dress?”

“Weren't you supposed to be gone for another, like, four days, or something?” Wade asked, hugging Pyslocke closer.

Nathan stared at him, opening his mouth, but nothing came out. He looked unusually human, with that surprised expression, wearing just jeans and a dark blue t-shirt, as opposed to the business suits Wade usually saw him in. And oh, hey, there were the patches of white pigmentation on Nate's arm that he'd mentioned. Huh. That was kinda cool.

Wade had thought he'd collected himself, until a woman stepped out from behind Nate—a woman who looked a lot like Nate—and said, “He was worried about you.” The woman had the same bright, piercing blue eyes as Nate, and the same brown hair with the white forelock, but longer and pulled up in a high ponytail. She had similar facial features, but obviously more feminine, and she was a few inches shorter than her brother, making her probably only about an inch or so taller than Wade if he hadn't been wearing currently four-inch heels (hey, he was almost as tall as Nate, now! Maybe he should wear heels more often).

Wade couldn't help but stare at her.

She was just wearing jeans and a gray v-neck t-shirt, but she looked stunning. Her height gave her the long legs of a model, but she was a more broad-boned—those were impressive shoulders there, seriously—and obviously more muscular. She looked like she hit the gym almost as much as Nathan.

Wade's eyes landed on her chest. She was well-endowed in the boob department. It made his mouth go dry. He moved his gaze to Nathan so as not to stare at her, his eyes missing Nate's face and falling on an extremely muscular chest.

Fuck him. Seriously. This whole thing wouldn't be so bad if were straight, or gay, and only one of the Summerses in front of him took his breath away, but noooo, he just had to be pansexual and be blown away by both of them, didn't he?

He moved his gaze to the cat in his arms, instead, narrowing his eyes as he thought loudly at her, You knew that he was coming back early didn't you, you psychic! Why didn't you tell me?!

“And why the hell are you wearing my old prom dress?” the woman asked, and Wade felt his face heat up slightly as he looked back up at her.

“Ah,” he said, smiling awkwardly and reaching up to scratch the back of his neck, “it's kind of a long story. Care to come inside? I don't know how long Bob will be able to distract the other cats before they realize the door is open.”

Nathan and his sister stepped inside, Nathan closing the door behind them, and Wade high-heeled over to the couch, sitting down, continuing to hold Pyslocke in his arms since he couldn't very well put her in his lap with the huge rose there, and all. “So, uh, Nate,” he said, looking up at his friend and simpering, “mind introducing me to the stunning woman you have with you?”

“Ah, right,” Nathan said, looking slightly flustered. He cleared his throat, before gesturing between them, saying, “Wade, this is my twin sister, Starlin. Starlin, this is my friend, Wade.”

“A pleasure,” Starlin said smoothly, sitting down in the comfy chair (No! Not the comfy chair! Anything but the comfy chair!) across from him, raising her eyebrows. “So. The dress.”

“Uh, yeah, the dress,” Wade agreed, chuckling nervously. He cleared his throat, hating how hoarse his voice was. “See, these hellcats that I've been watching,” he held up Psylocke for emphasis, “decided to thank me for all my efforts my tearing up all my clothes. And I had to go to this gig—that's why my voice is all hoarse, I was kind singing for a few hours—see, I got this call—”

~An elaborate but surprisingly short story later~

“I like him, Nate,” Starlin smirked, standing up and walking over to her twin, hanging onto his arm looking up at him, fluttering her eyelashes. “Can we keep him?”

Nathan sighed, rubbing his forehead with a hand. “That's what you said when we found the cats…”

“Meow?” Wade offered, causing Psylocke to miaow back at him and bat at his face, which prompted him to hiss at her.

Nathan facepalmed, and Starlin laughed.

“You can keep the dress,” Starlin said later, smirking. “It looks good on you.”

“It does, Mr. Wilson!” Bob agreed.

“And I'm never going to wear it again, anyways,” Starlin added. Still smirking, the bitch. “You can keep the high heels, too.

“Uh,” Wade said, fingering the smooth material of the dress's skirt, grinning uncertainly. “Thanks! I think. That's a compliment, right? Like, the good kind of compliment, not the bad kind?”

“MIAOU!” Jean-Phillipe yowled, and jumped at his face.

Wade would have fallen, stumbling in the high-heels, had Nathan not caught him and steadied him, saying, “Are you alright, Wade? Those shoes look more ornamental than practical or comfortable.”

“Fine,” Wade had squeaked, a miaouing Jean-Phillipe in his arms.

Really, the entire situation had just been rather embarrassing and awkward all around. Especially when Wade kept looking at Starlin's boobs, and she'd noticed and said, “I have a girlfriend.”

“Of course you do,” Wade had said. “Gorgeous woman like you, how could you not? Doesn't mean I can't look though, right? I mean, beauties like those,” he gestured at Starlin's breasts, “deserve all the awe and appreciation. All of it.”

(And hey, Bob and been oggling, too! Well, whenever he looked up from petting the cats, which was not very often, as he had very quickly become their devoted slave.)

Starlin's lips had quirked, and she'd shrugged. “You can look, but don't touch. And I'd avoid looking, too, if I were you, when Luca's around. She'd punch you in the face if she got you oggling. Or knee you in the crotch—one of the two.”

“Why does everybody have scary, violent girlfriends,” Wade had muttered while Bob squeaked and tried to hide behind Domino.

Starlin had laughed, while Nathan had facepalmed for probably the twentieth time that night and muttered, “You two…” which had made Starlin laugh harder, and Wade crack a grin.

So really, it could have been worse.

~Two days later~

Wade was back in his own apartment, feeling oddly blue.

Like, figuratively blue, not literally blue. He made it a habit to never, ever wear the color blue (well, except for blue jeans—those didn't count, because they were jeans). It brought out his eyes too much and made him look too serious, in a really nonthreatening way. Black made him look serious in a threatening way, so black was okay. He also avoided green, because it was the antithesis to red, and red was his favorite color, because red was awesome. Pink was awesome, too, because it was also red, no matter what anyone else said, the same way that gray was black. He also avoided yellow and orange, either, because they clashed with his hair, so those colors he only ever wore on underwear (rhyme totally intentional). And he avoided brown, because Nijo always wore brown, and Wade hated Nijo on principle. White was okay, though—it made him look awesomely tan.

(All of which he'd had to explain to Nate, when Nate had taken him out shopping to replace the clothes he'd lost. Nate had been confused, but had went with it, which was one of the really cool things about Nate. He took everything in stride.)

So basically, Wade's entire closet was composed of clothes that were black (which included gray), red (which included pink), and white. The dress Starlin had given him fit right in with the rest of his outfits.

Oh wait, and purple! How had he forgotten purple?! Purple was okay to wear, he liked purple. He had several purple shirts he'd stolen from old flatmate, Clint. Nobody could rock purple like Clint could, though Wade sure as hell tried. Then Clint had moved out of their apartment to live with his scary redhead girlfriend, and Wade had been left to pay the entire apartment's rent, instead of just half of it. Not fun for a broke wannabe-musician.

So basically, he was lounging around his lonely, unfarily-expensive apartment in nothing but a pair of black, red, and gray comic superhero pajama pants, listening to a Maître Gims most recent album and staring at the ceiling, an arm raised as he drew a war between unicorns and zombies in the air.

The zombies were winning. Fuck unicorns.

“What's wrong?” Preston asked him, when she'd invited herself to his apartment to check in on him. “Do you miss your boyfriend?”

“He's not my boyfriend,” Wade said. “And no, I don't miss him,” he continued, which was a lie. “I miss his cats,” he said, which was not a lie.

Preston had laughed, at that, patted him on the shoulder, winked and said, “Well, if you decide you want to steal them, I have some espionage tips.” And then she'd gone to the kitchen to start making tacos.

Wade adored that woman. And she was so obviously a secret agent.

It was later that day, after Preston had left to go pick her children up from school—her adorable, adorable children, who called Wade 'Uncle' and let him play Legos with them—when Sandi called him again.

“Hello, Wade,” she greeted.

“Aw, please, can't Ah tell 'im, Sandi?” Inez could be heard whining the background.

“Hey Sandi!” Wade greeted, standing up from the couch to start walking the perimeter of the room (he always felt best talking on the phone while pacing). “Hey Inez! 'Sup?”

“We wanted—” Sandi started, only to be interrupted by Inez, who practically shouted, “We're offerin' ya a more permanent spot on the band! Say yes say yes say yes!”

Wade grinned. “Given up on Nijo, huh?”

“Nijo has a serious pancreas condition,” Sandi said, “so he won't be able to go on tour with the band. And we need a lead singer and guitarist.”

“Say yes say yes say yes!” Inez could be heard saying in the background.

Needless to say, Wade had been on Cloud Nine. He'd told them he'd think about it, wanting to draw out the experience of having them beg him to be a part of their band, but everyone, them and him, all knew he'd say yes.

Well, he thought he'd say yes, until he got a call from Lester, who had a different proposition for him.

“I landed a job on a film here in Japan,” Lester said. “We need more stunt guy extras. We want you in on this.”

“Me?!” Wade said, eyes wide, pressing the hand that was holding his cellphone to his chest. “Why me?!”

“Because you're the best damn parkour student I've ever had,” Lester had said. “You're a natural. I haven't met anybody who can learn stunts so quickly and do them so seemingly effortlessly, and has enough stamina and perseverance to keep up with me. Well, except for Tony, since has that photographic reflexes thing—it's really a shame he's decided to use it for bass rifts instead of stunts.”

“That's not what you've told me!” Wade had practically shrieked at him. “You always tell me I'm too slow and clumsy and an old blind lady could do better!”

“And it was good motivation, wasn't it?” Lester said, and Wade was struck speechless for several moments.

“Why now?” Wade said finally. “And don't you have to, like, audition for those kinds of things? I wouldn't want to fly out to Japan to audition only to get sent straight back.”

“You wouldn't get sent back,” Lester said, and there was a smirk audible in his voice now. “And I think the video was a pretty good audition, don't you?”

Wade frowned, wracking his brain for what video Lester could possibly be talking about. The music video where they pretended to rob a bank? No, Lester had been the one doing tricks in that one. All Wade had been doing was some pretty cheesy stage-fighting. “Uh, what video?” he asked.

“The one where you saved a cat from traffic,” Lester said.

“WHAT?!” Wade cried, eyes widening. “Somebody caught that on video?!”


“Okay, so somebody filmed me doing that. But how the hell did you see that video, anyway? There's, like, billions of videos on the internet!”

“It went viral.”

“It WHAT?!” Wade cried, feeling like his eyes were going to pop right out of their sockets and make a few laps around the room before smacking him in the back of the head.

“It. Went. Viral,” Lester repeated. “It was a really good video, too. Professional. Somebody with a really nice camera and some obvious film experience was out there and caught it, apparently. I think it was posted by some guy, name started with P…”

“Was it Peter Parker, by any chance?” Wade asked wearily. Peter always had had an uncanny ability to be at the most synchronistic places at the most synchronistic times. It was part of what made him such a great photographer, since he managed to get shots and footage that nobody else seemed to be able to.

“Yeah! That was the one!” Lester said. “So, what d'you say? Come out here to Japan. You'll get paid. You can even stay with me and Akihiro. I promise he doesn't bite. Well, okay, he bites a little bit, and he's really good at it, but he wouldn't bite you. Biting is exclusively reserved for me. I told him if he did that to anyone else I'd kill them, and then kill him.”

“You couldn't kill him, Akihiro would beat your ass, and then sue you for damages,” Wade muttered under his breath. Louder, he said, “The video seriously went viral?”

“Yes, Wade. Don't make me keep repeating it. You and I both know that you're not that slow, no matter how much you pretend to be. Stop being an asshole and get over here before I shoot you through the phone.”

“Fuck,” Wade said, head in his hands. “If the video went viral, that means that Nate is gonna see it...”

“He's probably seen it already,” Lester said, ever the insensitive one. “Don't worry about it, it probably made him fall head-over-heels in love with you. Now get your ass over here. You know Japanese, right?”

“Some,” Wade said, hand dragging slowly over his face. “I know some Japanese. But you don't understand! If Nate sees that I almost let one of his cats get run over by a car, he'll never let me watch them again!”

“I thought you hated cats. Only the other week you called me to say that if he ever asked you to watch his cats again, you were going to die your hair red, get a fake I.D., and move to Canada. You hate cats. I hate cats. Cats suck. Stop worrying about them and get your ass over to Japan. This is a really great gig, man, don't turn your nose up at it unless you want your nose to end up broken.”

“I—that's a big decision,” Wade said, head reeling. “I'll think about it and call you back to let you know when I decide, alright?”

“Make your decision by two o'clock tomorrow, Wade. Opportunity won't wait for you.”

And then Lester hung up (gawd, he was a dick), and Wade threw his cell on the couch and then collapsed down next to it, face in his hands, peering out through his fingers at his phone, waiting for it to ring, and Nate's disappointed voice to patch through.

“Shoop shoop ba-doop (Baby, hey),” went Wade's phone. “Shoop ba-doop.Shoop ba-doop ba-doop ba-doop. Shoop shoop ba-doop (Don't you know I wanna shoop, baby).”

Wade picked it up. “Hey.”

“Wade,” came Nathan's voice, and Wade shuddered.

“Is this about the video?” Wade asked.

“Yes,” Nathan said.

“I told you that happened, you know!” Wade said, shooting to his feet and beginning to pace around the room, gesticulating. “It's not like I hid it from you or lied about it or anything!”

“I know,” Nathan said.

Wade stopped pacing, his free arm falling limply to his side. “...I'm really sorry it happened,” he said, head down. “I'm sorry.”

“No, you don't need to apologize,” Nathan said quickly, “I just… called to say that…” He took a deep breath. “Thank you, Wade, for saving her,” he said. “And I'm glad that neither of you got run over.”

Wade grinned wryly. “Yeah,” he said, twirling an imaginary phone cord around his fingers, “me, too.”

Wade went a walk.

He always went on a walk, when he needed to talk to his therapist. It was easier to talk when he was moving.

“Hello, Wade,” Doctor Charles Xavier said.

“Hey, Chuck,” Wade greeted. “How's Erik?” Erik was Charles's pet German Shepherd, and he was definitely not a therapy dog. He was far too surly for that. He'd been a stray that Charles had picked up off the street, which really said a lot about Charles, and he had a tendency to bite people he didn't know.

He'd never bitten Wade, though. Wade was great with dogs. He took Erik on runs, sometimes, when Charles was too busy.

“Erik's doing very well,” Charles said brightly. “I took him on a run yesterday, and he didn't bark at a single other dog the entire time!”

Wade smiled. “Sounds like he's getting better.”

“He is,” Charles said proudly. “Just like you.”

“Yeah,” Wade said, scratching the back of his neck awkwardly. “Yeah. I haven't had any relapses, or anything. I just called because…” he trailed off.

“You know you can call me any time, Wade,” Charles said kindly. “You don't even need a reason.”

“Yeah, I know,” Wade said. “I did call for a reason today, though. I have to make a really, really big decision about my life, and I don't know what to do.”

Forty minutes of exposition and a great many city blocks later, Wade finished, “And I don't know whether to take the job as a stunt guy or the job as a lead vocalist and guitarist of this band that I've wanted to join since forever. And don't you dare say anything stupid like 'What does your heart tell you?' or anything!”

There was a thoughtful silence on the other end of the phone. All Charles's silences were thoughtful. It was, like, a thing.

“I can't tell you what decision is the right one for you, Wade,” Charles said finally. “But it sounds to me like you already know what you're going to choose. You just haven't committed to the decision yet.”

“I don't… I don't think I can make this decision,” Wade said. “I think the author can't choose.”

“Wade. What have I told you about pretending that you're a fictional character in a story in order to deal with difficult situations and make excuses to yourself?”

“Not to do it,” Wade sighed, leaning against a tree. He'd walked all the way to the park a few miles away from his house. “Sorry. Habit.”

Wade sighed again, letting his head fall back against the tree trunk. “I just… it's weird, to have this big of a decision in my hands. It's just always felt like… it's always felt like life chose me, not the other way around, y'know? The first decision I really made that was my own choice was to drop out of college and tour Europe on a bicycle, though even that didn't really feel like my decision, since it felt like there really wasn't any other option for me but to drop out of college, and then there really was nothing for me to do but wander around, since I didn't know what to do with myself. And even then, I just kinda did everything on a whim. Went wherever the wind blew me, so to speak. Or wherever the wind smelled like the most delicious food. But I've never… the traveling was all just temporary, really. This is a decision that could affect the entire rest of my life, or at least a large chunk of it. And I don't… I don't know if I can make that big of a decision. I don't know if I trust myself to. Y'know? I feel like whichever decision I make, it will be the wrong one.”

“You are perfectly capable of making rational decisions, Wade,” Charles said gently. “You're not broken, or messed up, or crazy. If you make the decision that feels right to you, then it cannot be the wrong decision. You have a very strong sense of self, Wade. You just need to learn to listen to it and ignore the other voices.”

Wade thought that over for a few moments. “So, I don't secretly want to become a mercenary and kill people?”

“No, Wade,” Charles said. “You don't secretly want to become a mercenary and kill people.”

“Oh,” Wade said, pausing for a few more moments as he tried to parse through his tangled thoughts and emotions. “Okay, cool. Thank you, Doctor X.”

“Anytime, Wade.”

~Four days later~

“Shoop shoop ba-doop (Baby, hey),” went Wade's phone. “Shoop ba-doop.Shoop ba-doop ba-doop ba-doop. Shoop shoop ba-doop (Don't you know I wanna shoop, baby).”

“Heya, Nate!” Wade greeted when he picked up, grinning and bouncing on the balls of his feet. “'Sup?! Funny you should call now, because I was just about to call you, actually! But I'll let you say what you were going to say first.”

“Hello, Wade,” Nathan said. “And I insist that you go first.”

“Well, if you insist,” Wade grinned. “See, Agency X—that's the band I did that gig for, just in case you didn't remember—is recruiting meow fur-realz, now!”

“Cat puns, still, Wade? Really?”

“Really really!” Wade said. “You can never have too many cat puns! But anyways, I am now officially the lead vocalist and guitarist of Agency X, and the band is going touring, starting tomorrow! I'm so excited! I've wanted to be part of this band forever, and it's been like almost two years now since I did any traveling. Staying in one place and working that day job as a Starbucks barista was really getting me down, y'know? I mean, I actually quit during the first week I was caring for your cats, partly because I couldn't get out of the house to go to work, and partly because I was just sick of the job anyway. And now I don't have to work at Starbucks ever again! Ha ha!”

“I'm very happy for you, Wade.”

“Anyways!” Wade said, throwing himself down on his old beat-up couch, only to immediately stand up and start pacing again, as he had far too much energy to sit down. “That's why I was calling you, to let you know that I'm going to be gone for a few months while Agency X is on tour. And then after that I get to help them actually write songs and stuff, and be the one who sings them on their next album! It'll be kinda weird, me performing these songs when it was Nijo who sung them on the album and that's what the fans will be expecting, but Sandi said it'd be fine, and she's a really smart business lady, so it should be fine. So yeah, that's all I wanted to say. Your turn!”

There was a pause on the other end of the line. “I...” Nathan started, then stopped.

“Dude, I don't have all day!” Wade said, sticking his tongue out, even though Nathan couldn't see it. “I have to pack and stuff!”

“I… it wasn't anything important,” Nathan said finally. “I just wanted to check and see how you were doing.”

“I'm doing great!” Wade grinned, practically pirouetting in his excitement. “What about you? And hey, how are the cats doing?”

“I'm fine,” Nathan said. “And the cats are doing well. I had to give Elizabeth a bath the other day.”

“Psylocke?” Wade said, chuckling slightly. “Yeah, sorry I didn't bathe her—I couldn't catch her, though. I bet bathing her went over well.”

“It went about as well as could be expected.”

Wade laughed. “Yeah, I bet! And hey, thanks for calling, Nate! It was good talking with you! I'll stop by and say goodbye tomorrow before I leave to go on tour, okay? See you then!”

When they said goodbye the next day, Wade wondered why Nate seemed so sad.

~Several months later~

Nathan opened the door, Neena in his arms, to see Wade standing there, grinning at him, gray-blue eyes bright, blond hair gelled up in the front.

“Hey!” Wade greeted, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “Miss me?”

“No,” Nathan said, which was a lie. “But the cats did,” he said, which was not a lie.

Wade laughed and practically threw himself inside, hugging Nathan briefly and then scooping Neena out of his arms, twirling her around and grinning as the other three cats darted from various parts of the house to greet him.

Nathan watched, smiling slightly, as Wade knelt down and was promptly tackled to the floor by the cats, who walked over, batting at the drawstrings of his red jacket and licking at his face.

Wade was back, for the time being. Maybe this time Nathan would finally have the opportunity to ask him out to dinner.

~A year later~

“Nate,” Wade said from where he sat on the other man's black leather couch, holding Alien Cat and nuzzling his face into the soft black and white fur, “I am going to have to marry you for your cats. And then, if we ever divorce, I'm taking them with me and leaving you with nothing but cat-hair and bittersweet memories.”

“Well, then,” Nathan said, leaning over to press a kiss to Wade's temple, making Domino yowl as she was nearly crushed between them, “let's try to never get divorced then, shall we?”

“We'd have to get married, first,” Wade pointed out, grinning, jumping to his feet and dancing around the room with Alien Cat in his arms, singing, “Cause if you liked it then you should have put a ring on it! If you liked it then you should've put a ring on it! Don't be mad once you see that he want it! If you liked it then you should've put a ring on it!”

“Non!” Jean-Phillipe miaoued loudly, before Psylocke slapped him with a paw, and Wade and Nate both laughed.