Disclaimer: I do not own Marvel or X-Men. If I had artistic talent of any sort, I would have tried to come up with my own thing ages ago. Alas, my drawing peak was tracing DBZ characters in the 3rd grade.

Chapter 44: Protect Ya Neck


The craziest part about winter break was that only one bit of trouble occurred, and it had been at the beginning. Nothing else happened after my little detour to Genosha. Once Quire had been placed back into the tender mercies of the school, I was able to get out with my vacation at home with nothing but a day or two lost as a result. And that was it. For a few weeks, I wasn't an X-Man, I was just some rando high school kid at home from boarding school.

There was no one dropping in to try and kill me and my family, no venturing off on a crazy adventure, no evil plots putting countless lives at risk to thwart. It was peaceful.

...It was terrible.

I mean, yes, it was nice being with my mom and dad without someone pointing deadly weaponry in my general direction, but as the days dragged on, I found myself getting bored. I could feel myself getting out of shape. I knew when I got back to school, I would have to go absolute jackhammer in the gym and in training to get my edge back.

More importantly, I wanted to get back to campus so I could see Laura again. We'd spoken on the phone a lot during winter break, but there had been times when I couldn't get in touch with her. Right before I'd headed back to school, I'd brought it up to her during a video call.

"Logan says I should not tell anyone what we are doing, for their own safety," Laura told me. Plausible deniability. Right. I couldn't even make out the background of wherever she was.

"Okay, so that means you're doing some probably illegal black ops shit," I said, reading between the lines. She didn't deny it either, "I hope you're at least enjoying your time with him."

"Yes," Laura confirmed for me, "I... do not get to spend much time with Logan, just the two of us. He usually has too many responsibilities to dedicate time solely to me," I could see from her pensive expression, having all of anyone's attention was clearly something she was still getting used to, even after dating me for a month. She definitely wasn't going to go and seek it out, even if she really wanted it.

I had to find a way to pressure Logan into doing more with her when he was around the school. I could probably do it. He might draw his claws out on me for pissing him off, but people being mad at me was common enough by now that it didn't bother me. For the greater good, as it were. In the meantime, however, she needed to take every bit of quality time that she could get.

"We'll fix that later," I promised, "For now, you monopolize his time. And if he gets testy about you being clingy, just give him your doe eyes."

"Doe eyes?" Laura repeated, her features scrunched up in confusion.

I tried my best to fix my face to demonstrate what I was getting at, "You know, that look you always give me that's like, 'Oh, I'm so cute and earnest. You know I'm too sweet to actually get mad at,'" I said, turning my voice high-pitched for a moment to inaccurately mimic a girl before going back to normal, "That shit. Just think about any lame-ass, meaningless disagreement we've ever had where I end up caving in. That's the face that makes me give up."

A flash of realization moved across her face, "I think I know what you are talking about."

I really didn't need to be teaching her how to weaponize her genuine charm. Laura was already attractive enough when she utilized the tactics she'd learned from The Facility to draw people in. That she also had no small amount of natural allure in her own right should not have been lost on her, and yet the girl possessed self-worth issues that could have been considered worse than mine.

"Anyway," I continued, "Try to enjoy your... could we consider this daddy/daughter time?" No matter what, that was what I was going to call it, "Try to have some fun, and I'll see your gorgeous self when you get back to school."

"We should return soon, Bellamy."

"Alright. I'll catch you later then. Bye, Buzzsaw."

I had not told Laura that I loved her yet. I hadn't told Megan back when we had been together either. I just wasn't the kind of guy comfortable with throwing words like that around. Love and hate were powerful sentiments, and I didn't feel like using them in regards to my own feelings very easily. Love especially, and most definitely when it came to romance.

Besides, I was a goddamn teenager. What did I know about love? I'd spent enough time watching my idiot friends and classmates throw the word 'love' around, then have their relationship crash and burn in a matter of weeks. While I made plenty of mistakes for others to learn from, I could also observe and learn from the mistakes of others. If I was in love with a girl, I wouldn't have to think about whether or not I was right to feel that way or not. Being with Laura was never a drag, even when we did the most mundane stuff. I felt good when I was with her, always. That was what mattered. Hopefully, she felt the same way too.

Either way, I honestly couldn't wait to see her again, even knowing that I would beat her back to campus by at least a day or two. When I landed back in New York, I had to find my own way back to Salem Center. I was coming back so early, there were no student shuttles.

After getting through security and claiming my bags, I wandered through the terminal, nose in my phone. I had to be able to grab an Uber or something to get me back to the school. In a place like NYC, there had to be some drivers up for that kind of trip. It wasn't that long of a ride; two hours with the city traffic.

The moment I stepped outside to wait on my summoned transport, I looked up when I heard someone yell my name over the sounds of people milling about and traffic passing by.

"Bellamy Marcher!" A guy in a black bodysuit with a bunch of white 'V' designs all over shouted. He stared at me from behind his visor, then looked down at his phone before turning the screen toward me, "This you?" I couldn't tell, seeing as how he stood across the street, but apparently, he'd gotten a good enough glimpse of me to make the decision himself, "...Yeah. Yeah, it looks like you."

He pulled a boomerang from his back, but seeing a loony in a supersuit gave me enough early warning that I was ready for it. By the time he'd started to rear back to throw it, I'd already Frogger'ed a concussive shot across the street, shooting through moving traffic to nail him right in the head. He dropped like a stone. I didn't know if he was a superhero or a supervillain, and I didn't care. He yelled my name and pulled out a weapon; that was all I needed to know. It had been low-key enough of a shot that people who saw it barely stopped and simply went about their business. Queens would probably see weirder shit than that three more times before sundown. Just another day in New York City.

The guy was still on the ground, limbs twitching when my Uber pulled up. I didn't spare a second glance at him and threw my stuff in the trunk before climbing in.

"What's that guy's deal?" The driver asked.

"I dunno," I responded, not quite lying as much as I was omitting what little details I had, "One second he was yelling something, the next he was on the ground."

The driver scoffed and shook his head, "This city, man. Nowhere like it."

Right. And I couldn't wait to get as far away from it as possible. The sooner the better.

He got us right onto the highway, but in the middle of the day, it was sheer gridlock in some places. At the rate we were going, it would have taken a full hour just to get to Manhattan. I occupied myself by trying to figure out just who the loony was that tried to take a shot at me at the airport.

Boomerang – Fred Myers. A former baseball player from Australia turned career criminal that had been in the game for quite some time. He had an extensive list of heroes he'd tangled with over the years. Guys like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and more. He'd even fought the Hulk, and the fact that he wasn't a stain on the pavement somewhere after the fact reflected well on him. Still, none of that explained just what his deal with me was.

It also didn't explain why we came to a dead stop on Robert F. Kennedy Bridge. We hadn't made it to the toll bridge yet, as I could see the traffic around us moving and hear them honking. I could also see an inexplicable shadow looming over the car. I looked up from my phone to see the girthy stomach of an obese man wider than the car I was in, clad in a black onesie. Not a pretty sight.

The massive man lifted the front of the car as though he were preparing to vacuum under a couch. He peered through the windshield, squinting as he tried to make out my form in the backseat, "You Bellamy Marcher?" He asked, checking the phone in his other hand to confirm, "...Yeah. Yeah, it looks like you."

Was that the Blob?

The driver looked back at me with wide eyes. Poor guy. I had no idea what was going on, but at least I was better equipped for whatever this was. If nothing else, I could keep him from getting hurt, maybe make sure his car remained in one piece also if possible.

I made eye contact with the Blob and did my laser pointer move, "Gah!" He dropped the front of the car back onto the ground and stumbled backwards a few steps. I quickly scrambled out and the driver took his chance to peel off.

I was glad to see him get away, until I realized my luggage was still in his trunk, "Aw! Aw! Come on! All my fucking stuff! My Switch was in there!" As well my laptop and two weeks' worth of clothes.

That dude was definitely getting one star if he didn't find a way to get me my belongings later. To be fair, I was also probably getting one star as a passenger for getting him dragged into a super-fight.

Following the sound of my loud complaints, the Blob took a blind swing at me. It took a concerted effort even then to keep his tree trunk of an arm from swatting me across the East River. It took even more to keep from getting turned into roadkill by a box truck that rolled by in the direction I dodged.

The driver honked and flipped me off. Did he not see me being attacked by a bad guy? If I hadn't been busy fighting for my life, I might have shot out his tire just to be a dick. Priorities though. Instead of the passing truck, I shot at the Blob.

My blast hit him directly in the stomach, after all, it was the easiest target. Crazily enough, he returned my concussive shot to sender. When I blasted him, he flexed his belly and redirected it. It was slower and weaker and he couldn't aim it, but the fact that he did it at all was a sight to see, "That the best you got, you X-Baby? This is gonna be easy money."

The next one got him in the head. There wasn't any fat up there to catch a shot. It rattled him for a second, but he shook it off and kept coming at me. Trying to hurt the guy was starting to look like an exercise in futility. I couldn't even budge him with my normal offense, and there was way too much traffic on the bridge for me to just cut loose.

Warning bells started to ring, and I nearly lost my balance when the portion of the bridge we were on started to raise from the rest of it. Great. So now I had to fight on a vertical-lift bridge, "I'm too out of shape for this!" I complained aloud. The Blob started laughing, "Shut! Up!" I shot him with an explosive blast. When the smoke cleared, he didn't have a scratch on him.

"Hit me all you want, you little shit! Don't you get it!" The Blob shouted at me, thumping his fists off of his blubbery chest, "As far as you're concerned, I'm fucking indestructible!" While he boasted, a cocoon of webbing started to wrap around him. In a matter of seconds, his entire body was engulfed from the neck down, "Oh, no... not this guy."

Just within my peripheral vision, a figure swung into sight, landing smoothly on one of the bridge supports, "Aw, I promise, I'm just as happy to see you, as you are to see me, tubby."

The man's outfit covered him head-to-toe. It had a red and blue color scheme with white web designs covering the suit. The mask that covered his head had large white eye patterns that somehow seemed capable of changing expressions. Emblazoned right across the chest was a white spider emblem.

"Spider-Man?" I said aloud, "What are you doing here?"

Spider-Man stood up full, despite standing sideways on a vertical surface. He pointed to the scene before him matter-of-factly, "Well... you guys are having a giant fight in the middle of the RFK. Not really that hard to find."

Okay, that was fair.

"Considering that guy's involved, I'm amazed there isn't more property damage, honestly," Spider-Man continued.

I was inclined to agree, "Yeah, seeing as how he's trying to kill me, I'm kinda surprised he hasn't thrown a car at me yet either."

The large eyes of Spider-Man's mask seemed to go wide at that. He turned his attention back to the Blob, "Wow. You used to run with Magneto, and now you're picking on kids? How the mighty have... well, I never really would have considered you mighty enough to fall too far in the first place."

The Blob seethed, "That's it..." With a mighty flex, he ripped through Spider-Man's webbing, "I'm gonna smush both of you together!" He ran over and grabbed an occupied pickup truck that he hurled at Spider-Man.

"You just had to give him the idea!" Spider-Man said as he jumped into action. He quickly spun a literal web that caught the truck between the suspension cables of the bridge, "It's alright, I'll get you guys out of here!"

While Spider-Man worked to get the people in the truck free, I tried to buy him some time by taking the Blob on again. At the very least, I could stay close enough to him that he wouldn't think to throw more vehicles as a method of offense. That didn't change the fact that I couldn't seem to hurt the fucker. I couldn't even make him stumble.

"Hold still!" The Blob demanded, taking wild swings at me whenever he could. It wasn't a very polished method of fighting, but it didn't have to be. One decent shot from him would probably break a good portion of the bones in my body, "The bug's over there already! I don't need two of you pests jumping around!"

"I wish I could jump around like that," I said, grunting as I back-rolled out of the way of one of the Blob's punches, "All I've got are commando rolls and a few flips. Oh, and this!" I blasted the ground to shoot myself into the air over the Blob's head and out of his line of sight.

He turned around as quickly as he could, only to find nothing waiting for him there, "Huh? Where the-? Did he just disappear?"

Not quite. I just bent the light around myself. It wasn't a perfect invisibility cloak. But for a dunderhead like the Blob, it gave me a momentary edge. At the very least, it bought enough time for Spider-Man to get himself involved again.

The Blob took a few knocks from Spider-Man and failed to retaliate fast enough to hit him, "Come down here and fight like a man!"

"Ooh, sorry," Spider-Man quipped, "I'm afraid I'm only half a man. It's all in the name, get it? Can you guess what the other half is?"

I'd seen plenty of crappy web videos of Spider-Man in fights, but they never did him justice. Shaky-handed camera-people barely able to point their phones in the correct direction didn't show just how fast he moved. He didn't just swing around the city on his webs at the speed of a moving motor vehicle, when the guy wanted to cover a lot of ground quickly, he could shoot himself around as fast as a bullet... which was what he did, directly into the Blob's head. He bounced off, much like an insect hitting a windshield. It looked like it hurt; hurt Spider-Man, that is.

"You're wasting your time, web-head!" Blob boasted, arms high above his head triumphantly, "As long as my feet are planted on the ground, you ain't moving me an inch!"

I went to Spider-Man's side and pulled him up to his feet, "Well, this is going great," I said sarcastically, "Any ideas?"

Spider-Man could clearly take a hit, because once he was upright, he seemed a-okay, "You heard the man. We've got to get him off of the ground somehow," He turned my way when he heard the low whirring of one of my light blades forming, "What are you going to do with that?"

"Uh..." I didn't know how to answer one of the most notorious good guy heroes on that one, "...I definitely wasn't going to try and cut his legs off at the cankles, if that's what you're wondering," I lied. I wasn't even sure if it would work, but I still wanted to try it.

Spider-Man seemed a little put off that an obvious teenager was willing to maim someone so casually, "That's a little extreme, don't you think?"

Maybe it was, but the Blob was trying to kill me in broad daylight, so screw him, "I'm only doing the job diabetes will probably finish sooner or later," Spider-Man wasn't amused, "Fine. New plan. Get him good and pissed."

That new plan consisted of an old plan, shooting the Blob directly in the face. His head snapped back and he coughed at the smoke it created, but was otherwise unaffected, "Are you an idiot, kid? I told you-!"

*BOOM!*

"Yeah-yeah-yeah," I cut him off shooting him in the face again, "I can't knock you off your feet, or hurt you, or blah-blah-blah!" Another shot to the head to further antagonize him, "I know! I've run simulations against you more times than I can count! It got old!"

Granted, I had a whole team with me when I did those, never soloing any of them, but he didn't need to know that.

"You're like a three out of ten in the Danger Room," I continued, punctuating with as many annoying shots as I could muster, "The only reason I didn't just leave and let Spider-Man handle this himself is because I'm not the kind of guy that lets other people clean up his garbage."

"I appreciate that, you know," Spider-Man chimed in, by this point swinging around the Blob, just out of his reach, "Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man isn't above picking up trash, but I love it when citizens do their part to keep our city beautiful."

"I'm not trash!" The Blob shouted, focusing his full attention on Spider-Man's petty little hit-and-run blows. I took the opportunity to cloak myself and creep as close as I could. When I was close enough, I dropped my disguise and jumped onto his back, "Hey, what the hell?"

Before he could reach behind himself to pull me off, I slapped my open hands over his ears as hard as I could and blasted him in the earholes. The force of the blast sent me flying, but Spider-Man was on-point, catching me out of the air and getting me back to the ground safely.

While any blow to his body didn't budge him, head shots had seemed to affect him, if only a bit. That was better than nothing, so I took a chance. It didn't matter how fundamentally indestructible someone was, getting your brain rattled around your skull was bad news.

Powers or not, the Blob's natural equilibrium had to be obliterated. He stumbled around on his feet for a moment, a blank look in his eyes, before he fell onto his ass and didn't get back up. The road cracked underneath his weight.

I took a moment to observe my handiwork as Spider-Man lowered himself upside-down on a web next to me, "Great, Jameson's probably going to blame me for that one too. 'That menace tied up traffic on the RFK again with one of his freak fights!'" He complained, momentarily mimicking someone's gruff voice, "At least you didn't have to cut his legs off."

Maybe, but now there was a pretty good chance that the Blob would be deaf when he woke up. Whatever. He could enjoy that permanent tinnitus for all I cared.

Spider-Man webbed the Blob up in a cocoon to try and hold him in place, just in case he woke up anytime soon, "So, what was that about anyway?"

"I dunno," I replied honestly before focusing on what was my most pressing issue at the moment, "Hey... you wouldn't be willing to give me a ride to Salem Center, would you?"

XxX

As it turned out, Spider-Man's charity only extended to giving me a ride into Manhattan. From there, duty called, and he left me on my own. I still had my phone, so I tried to reach out to any contact I had that I felt could help. That meant the X-Men.

"No answer?" I muttered to myself. I had tried the school proper, as well as the individual contacts of the teachers I had – Mister Summers, Miss Frost, Mister Rasputin, Dr. McCoy... all calls went to their machines.

They had better have been on a mission or something. I needed a ride! In the meantime, I tried to get in touch with my Uber driver again, not expecting a response. I doubted that simply telling him I'd beaten up the Blob would bring him back, but he still had my stuff.

"I'm not even back at school yet, and shit is just going swimmingly," I remembered complaining aloud to myself, "Can I at least set foot back on campus before whatever voodoo curse the X-Men have cast on them kicks in?"

"Eh, I'd call it more of an Indian burial ground curse if I had to give it a label."

I froze when I realized that in all of my complaining, someone else had fallen into step with me, their gaze down on their phone. It was a man in a dark red bodysuit and mask that covered him from head to toe. The outfit had black accents, and the mask had large, white, expressive eyes, a lot like Spider-Man's. Unlike Spider-Man though, this man had a pair of swords strapped to his back and a pair of handguns tucked into holsters at his thighs.

Deadpool. One of the more... notorious mercenaries of note in the world. One that had his share of dealing with the X-Men in the past, hence why I knew of him. I had yet to have to displeasure of meeting him. No longer, it seemed.

When I stopped and stared at him, he also stopped and looked up to make eye contact. Neither of us moved for several seconds, until he tried to reach for one of his swords.

I jumped away and shot him straight through the chest with a laser before he could draw a weapon. He didn't go down. In fact, he simply looked down at the brand-new finger-sized hole in his torso and placed his own index finger into the opening, "Wow. Center mass. Nice," The moment he removed his finger, the wound started to heal, "Well since you had your chance-."

I preempted his response with a light blade that removed his head from his shoulders. Hey, Spider-Man wasn't around to admonish me, so I let the lethal stuff fly. The masked man's severed head splatted onto the ground as a fountain of blood shot up from the neck. His body then collapsed like a puppet with its strings severed.

"Nope," I said before turning my back to walk away. I stopped mid-step when I heard the same voice from before.

"Man, you're a vicious little shit, aren't you?" The severed head said from its place on the ground, "And they let you in the X-Men? What is this, the 90s?"

"Healing factors are so lame..." I sighed aloud. Turning around, I stomped over to Deadpool's head, idly shooting his body a few more times, just in case, "Okay, this isn't funny anymore," I said as I grabbed his head by the top of the mask, "You are literally the third clown in a costume that's come at me since I stepped foot off of the plane. What the fuck? I definitely don't know what I did to you."

"You mean, you really don't know?" Deadpool asked before letting out a laugh, "Oh man. That's priceless, unlike you, actually."

"Say what?"

"I don't know who you pissed off, but there's a big-ass bounty on your head."

Deadpool's body got up from the ground behind me and fumbled around blindly for his swords, "...How big is 'big'?" I asked, shooting it again to put it back down.

Deadpool didn't seem bothered by my cautionary besmirchment of his body, "Let's put it this way, junior. Once I pop you and show proof of it, ol' Wade's buying himself a gold boat. And that's solid gold, not gold-plated."

"You're kidding."

"No, for real! I don't even give a fuck if it sinks! At least I'd have it!"

"No, you-," I put my free hand up to my temple before shooting Deadpool's body again to vent some anger, "I meant, why is there a bounty on me? And since when? I've been chilling in the Bay for the last two weeks and there hasn't been a peep."

"It went active about three hours ago."

"I was getting off the plane three hours ago!"

"Yeah, it's pretty crazy, right?" Deadpool gleefully replied, "Anyway, be a peach and put ol' Uncle Wade's head back on his body so he can put two in your skull and make his fat stacks, 'kay sport?"

"Oh, I hear you, and as much as I like the sound of that idea, how about instead, we-," I suddenly drop-kicked Deadpool's head into an open dumpster. As morbid as it was, I got a satisfying feeling from the sound of his head banging into the metal.

"Oh-ho, you're gonna pay for that one, junior!"

"I'm sure I will," I said as I walked away. I also shot his body one more time for good measure before walking away, "Goddamn it, a bounty? Who would put a bounty on me specifically?"

The U-Men. The Sapien League. Whatever was left of the Purifiers after I murdered Reverend Stryker. Donald Pierce and the Reavers. Kimura and The Facility. Logan's jerk kid, Daken. My own jerk kid from the future, Riddick; but he was still locked up.

...The more I thought about it, I had pissed off a lot of people in just under one year of being a superhero in training. Still, to upset whatever party decided to make it open season on me in NYC, I must have really done something.

"I can't be that much of a prick," I said to myself, gazing at the phone I had lifted from Deadpool's body. Everyone that had attacked me had been looking at their phones, so they must have had the details of the hit sent to them somehow. It wouldn't take much to jailbreak it. I was trained by Kitty f'n Pryde, I could hack an Android.

Meanwhile, an alert on my phone got my attention. Moments later, the same car I had been in before the Blob had ruined everything pulled up and hit the horn to get my attention. It was the same car, the same guy behind the wheel, and hopefully my same stuff in the trunk.

"I'm so glad you came back," I said as I retook my previous place in the back seat, "I didn't think you would."

The driver shrugged as he went to pull off, "Crazier shit happens in this city every hour, man," He turned back to look at me only to find that I'd bent light around myself, "Uh, what are you doing?"

"Trust me, it's for the best if nobody sees me back here again. So... Salem Center?"

XxX

"Why would somebody put a bounty on you?" Was the first question I was greeted with when I returned to campus and found someone to regale with the tale of my attempted return. It just so happened to be Julian, and he was none too pleased, "If it was a real X-Man, I'd get it, but you?"

I gave him a dry look in return, "I lead the team you're on, so by saying I'm not a real X-Man, you're saying you're not a real X-Man."

He couldn't have been jealous. That someone was targeting me specifically, and not him, instead of all of us in general, was the dumbest thing to get a chip on his shoulder about.

"You know what I mean," Julian grumbled, "Well, at least nobody's gonna-."

"-Ah-ah-ah!" I interrupted him before he could tempt fate by finishing that sentence, "Don't you fucking dare. The school's been attacked twice since I've been here. Let's not try and go for a third."

The primary X-Men that we relied on for guidance and to take control when things went wrong were indeed out on a mission. Being that it was the tail-end of winter break, there were others that were still away on vacation, so it was more or less a skeleton crew of staff around. Even the student body was for the most part still absent. The only reason Julian was there was because of estranged relations with his family.

My point being, if anything happened at that moment, we lacked the manpower and command structure to deal with it. Saberwolf was still prowling around, doing security as he always was, but he was just one A.I., good at his job though he was.

Speaking of the mechanical devil, I received a call from Saberwolf not long after.

He hadn't called to welcome me back. In fact, there were no pleasantries whatsoever. He was all business, "Bellamy, the campus has been infiltrated."

I immediately jumped up from the bench I was on, set on making a beeline for wherever the trouble was occurring, "Where? I'm on the way to help you 86 some fools."

"It is one 'fool', as you so put it," Saberwolf said, as I could hear fighting and cursing in the background, "And I cannot kill this intruder."

"What? Why not? Says who?" As far as I was concerned, Saberwolf had free reign to use his own discretion when it came to security threats.

"You misunderstand, Bellamy. It is not that I am forbidden from killing this intruder. I am physically unable to kill him. I have tried," I could have been mistaken, but I swore I heard a touch of shame in his inflection, "He says he is here looking for you."

Someone had tried to sneak onto campus to find me. Someone that Wolf couldn't kill, but was apparently doing well enough against that he could stop and call me.

"...Is it Deadpool?"

"It is Deadpool."

"Goddamn it," I cursed, gesturing for an eavesdropping Julian to follow me. I put the phone on speaker so he could properly listen in, "I'm coming."

Saberwolf directed us to the northern limits of the property. Following his instructions, we passed a slew of destroyed automated defenses. Turrets and launchers had been sliced up and blown apart. There were also copious amounts of blood everywhere. Eventually, Julian and I started following that trail more than anything else.

We had both seen our share of violence by this point, though I was still more acquainted with it than Julian was. Gore and whatnot still grated on him more than it did on me, "Jesus, did somebody start a slaughterhouse in the woods as a side hustle?"

"You wish," Before long, we could hear the sounds of combat. Gunshots, metal clashing against metal, the wood of trees breaking. I gestured for Julian to keep quiet as we snuck around the battlefield.

As expected, Saberwolf was fully engaged against Deadpool. Being that I roomed with Wolf, I knew what to expect from him – acrobatics, lots of sharp pointy objects flying around with computerized precision, you know the drill.

Deadpool though, I had never seen him fight. For a guy who was a complete clown, he was seriously competent.

Still though, even in the middle of a fight, he never shut his mouth.

"Since when-!" Deadpool grunted, swinging a pair of katanas at Wolf, who parried with his chainsaw, "-Do the X-Men! Have a fucking robot chihuahua as a guard dog!"

"My design is based on a wolf," Saberwolf corrected matter-of-factly as the two continued to duel.

"Yeah, no shit, Cujo!" Deadpool snapped back before cutting the wire that comprised Wolf's manipulator arm, "Aha! Gotcha!" When he went to stab Wolf directly, he found his sword caught between reactive panels of Wolf's armor, "Goddamn it, are you made of knives?" Deadpool asked, whipping out an automatic handgun that he immediately began firing at Wolf's face.

"Yes."

"That's so metal."

"Yes, my hull is comprised of 68. 712% Vibranium."

"Heh, that rounds up to 69. Nice."

The magazine in Deadpool's gun ran dry of bullets. Wolf took a swipe at Deadpool with a massive claw, prompting the merc to nimbly handspring and flip over and around his attacks. In the meantime, Wolf had been able to reattach his manipulator arm and used it to return one of Deadpool's swords to him, pointy end first.

"YEOWCH!" Deadpool shouted as his sword buried itself four inches deep into his left butt cheek, "Hey! A few inches to the right, and you'd have gotten a hole-in-one, Fido."

*VRRRR!*

Having seen enough, I gave Julian the cue to snatch Deadpool up with his telekinesis, sword still firmly stuck in his ass.

"Hey!" I shouted as I approached, "Quit picking on my dog, bruh!"

Upon seeing me, the eyes on Deadpool's mask seemed to smile, "Oh, you are here! Cool. Just stay... right there," He started to try and struggle against Julian's telekinesis in vain, "Be right with 'ya. Just...gotta... get... fuck!"

Julian grinned smugly at Deadpool's failed attempts to escape, "Yeah, no. You're not going anywhere."

"I have not tried decapitating him yet," Wolf commented, now back in possession of his chainsaw.

"No, I did that already," I told him before gesturing to the captured Deadpool, "As you can see, he's still here. Speaking of here, how are you here?" I directed at Deadpool.

"Please," Deadpool replied, "Anyone with half a brain would know where you were going if you got out of New York."

"Anyone with half a brain wouldn't have tried breaking in alone," Julian said.

Deadpool didn't deny that, instead shifting his point of focus, "It's not about the bounty anymore. Well... it's not just about the bounty anymore. It still mostly is though. But now? It's personal."

Julian, Wolf, and I all looked at each other before looking back to Deadpool, "What the hell are you talking about?" I asked.

The eyes of Deadpool's mask narrowed, "You. Took. My. Phone," He hissed accusingly.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out the offending device, "...And?" I could feel my brow furrow and the usual frown on my face grow more pronounced, "Buy another one, you broke motherfucker."

"You don't get it," Deadpool sighed, "In this modern age, stealing someone's phone is a heinous breach of personal space. Kids like you should get that. It's like walking into someone's bedroom uninvited, or reading my diary. And I have transcribed all of my diaries into word docs on that phone."

I threw said phone directly at Deadpool's face. The sound it made bouncing off of his head was fantastic, "You broke into my school to kill me, you psychopath!"

If Deadpool could have moved a muscle, I felt he would have been wagging a finger at me, "You took my phone. You're a common thief. If anything, I'm the righteous hero, fighting for good, trying to take down a dangerous criminal."

"It would have literally cost you less money to get a replacement phone than it probably cost to come all the way out here, try to sneak in, and get bodied by my wolf-bot."

"Eh, I'll reimburse myself with your bounty," Deadpool reasoned before honing in on the last part of what I'd said, "Wait, this wolf thing is yours? Holy shit. What shelter did you rescue him from?"

"An underground one."

"How much for Iron 'Man's best friend' over here? I like him."

I reached over and gave Saberwolf a hug, "My wolf's not for sale. You can't put a price on the kind of friendship we have," Wolf then lowered his still running chainsaw into my field of vision, "...And I don't own him. He's an independent entity," That was good enough to get the threat of the chainsaw taken away.

Julian growled to himself and used his powers to shake Deadpool like a bottle of orange juice, "Hey! Who cares about any of that? Why's there a bounty on Marcher?"

"Hey, yeah," I said, realizing that I'd let myself get distracted by Deadpool and his weirdness, "Tell me who put the bounty on me, or I'm gonna have my friend here take your little phone, turn it sideways, and shove it straight up your candy ass."

Julian was quick to shut that line of thinking down.

"I'm not doing that, Marcher. TK or not."

"Dude, I didn't expect you to. But you don't say that in front of the bad guy. Come on, sell the threat!"

Despite being immobilized in the air, it was clear that Deadpool didn't take any of us as a real threat to his health or safety, "Aww, you two are adorable," He taunted, "If you wanted to kill me, you should have shown up in your baby X-Men uniforms. I'd probably die from the cuteness overload."

I gave Deadpool a blank stare before suddenly pointing my index finger at his head, intent on lasering him dead in the face, "No-no, come on, Marcher," Julian said, "Don't let him get to you."

The irony of Julian Keller of all people, the guy literally named Hellion, keeping me from impulsive assault, was not lost on me. He was right though. We had Deadpool captured. If I lost my cool because of his antics, that would mean he won. I knew that, and he did too.

"He'd just live through it anyway," I muttered as I lowered my finger and offered an alternative suggestion, "Fine. Brig?"

"Yes. Locking him away in the brig seems prudent," Saberwolf co-signed.

Julian was onboard with that idea, "To the brig. Leave his ass for Wolverine or someone to interrogate."

I knew what Julian was going for. Bringing up Mister Logan had a tendency to make people wary of dealing with the X-Men. Invoking his name was an effective method of implying a threat without actually saying anything.

In this case, it had the opposite effect.

Deadpool gasped excitedly, "Do you mean it? Aw, man, I love Hugh Jackman! Or... wait... Wolverine hasn't been recast yet, has he?" He asked, completely serious, "I'm just afraid I won't like the new Logan as much as the Jack-Man. Big shoes to fill, you know?"

"What the hell is he talking about?" Julian whispered, not willing to interrupt the clearly crazy gun for hire while he was ranting to no one.

"This might be a mistake," I said worriedly.

XxX

It was definitely a mistake, at least as far as my sanity was concerned.

Getting Deadpool to the brig was the easy part. Julian's telekinesis was better than any zip ties or handcuffs we could have had on-hand. We just took all his weapons, chucked him in an empty cell, and sealed it up. The problem wasn't that we were worried about him breaking out on his own. Those things were meant to withstand all sorts of overpowered weirdos, they could handle Deadpool.

No, the problem was that someone still had to watch him while someone else went to find someone to report to. Saberwolf still had to patrol, so he was out altogether. Given that Deadpool was there to kill me, that meant that the job fell to me. My life was my own responsibility, after all.

Thirty minutes. That was all it took for me to contemplate shooting myself in the head. He just wouldn't shut up.

He was in the middle of some inane rant about restaurants and their Ponzi scheme with guacamole when I found myself unable to take it anymore, "-If I kill myself, do you still get the bounty for me? Or do I get the money posthumously? I'm pretty sure my folks could use it."

My rather dark question was enough to temporarily distract Deadpool from his ramblings, "Eh, in this case, I'm pretty sure as long as I drag your corpse in, I still get credit," He replied.

"So, you do know who put the bounty on me?" I accused.

"Nope. But I do know where I'm supposed to go to get my money," Deadpool said, "Payment on delivery. Speaking of delivery, you've still got my phone. DoorDash me some chimichangas, would you?"

Even unarmed and locked in a holding cell meant for powerhouse mutants, he was still treating everything like a walk in the park. It was so annoying, my head was starting to hurt, "DoorDash deez nu-."

"-Stop talking to him, Glowstick," Logan's voice interrupted me from finishing my cliché comeback, "You'll never get the last word and your brain'll thank me later," He seemed stressed, running a hand through his hair, as if he could already feel the pain in the ass that this was going to be, "Jesus, fuck. I thought Hellion was screwing with me when he called."

My head whipped toward Julian, who had just reentered the room, "You called Logan?" I asked incredulously

Julian scoffed, "You didn't call Logan?"

"No," I replied, "Because I try to be considerate of my girlfriend's leisure time," Speaking of whom, she gracefully strode in right behind, bringing up the rear. I was quick to jump up and greet her, "Hi Laura."

"Hello, Bellamy," She replied. A small smile played on her lips as I approached. Lips that I made it a point to smooch on, seeing as how I hadn't seen her in the flesh in almost a month, "I missed you," I pressed a hand to her cheek and she simply closed her eyes and leaned into the touch, covering my hand with hers.

She inhaled a deep breath, which I could only take as her finding my scent comforting. This girl, man... the loveliest little murder machine I ever did see.

"I am so sorry," I apologized to her, "You still had vacation left, and now you're here dealing with my bullshit and the most annoying dude on the planet."

As if summoned, Deadpool shouted across the room from his cell, "You shouldn't talk about yourself that way, even if it's true! Have some self-esteem!"

I grimaced at the sound of the man's voice. How did he even hear us? "See?"

"Pipe down, kid. We were just about back anyway," Logan said as we walked back over to where I'd been keeping watch, "We were actually hanging around in New York when news broke about your little team-up with Spider-Man."

"I wanted to come back then," Laura pointedly said, cutting her eyes at Logan.

Logan took this in stride, letting his teenage clone's ire wash off of him casually, "Yeah, darlin', but it ain't like he needed a rescue. Clearly, he won. It ain't like Glowstick is some pushover."

That was the closest thing to a compliment he had ever given me. The man didn't dole out positive reinforcement easily, especially when it came to fighting. I took it and placed it squarely in my brain's 'key memory' box for Logan.

"That is not the point," Laura insisted. I could have sworn she was pouting, "You would not even let me call."

I wrapped my arm around her and pulled her in close. She pressed herself against my chest and nestled her head right underneath my jaw, "You don't need to worry about me, Buzzsaw."

"You have a bounty on you," She argued, despite letting me cuddle her, "That is a very good reason to worry about you."

"To be fair, you being there wouldn't have made that not happen."

"I could have helped."

"Absolutely," I readily agreed, "But if the Blob had thrown a truck at you the way he did at me, I definitely would have cut his legs off. Spider-Man be damned."

By this point, Deadpool had noticed the way I was holding Laura and ran to the end of his cell, "Wait-wait-wait. No way. Ow," In his excitement, he pressed himself against the see-through wall of the cell and hurt himself on the containment field running through it. This did little to deter him, "This just keeps getting better every minute. The guy I'm supposed to kill is sticking it to Wolverine's girl-clone?"

"Why does everybody keep saying it like that?" I groused. First Hisako, now Deadpool. There had to be a classier way to refer to my relationship with Laura than to simply say I was 'sticking it' to her.

"I do not know," Laura agreed, her brow furrowed in annoyance, but her ire was for a different reason than mine, "It is as if to imply that Logan has another clone, male in gender. He does not."

I gave her a side eye before letting it go, maneuvering behind her to wrap my arms around her waist, "Not really what I was talking about, bae. But it's good we can both take different things away from the same comment," I said, giving her a peck on top of the head before setting my chin there.

Deadpool started bouncing on his toes excitedly, "This is like Christmas, Halloween, and Leif Erikson Day all rolled up into one! Ooh, does she smoke and drink nonstop too? Hey, since I'm technically Weapon X too, does that make her like my niece or my little sister?"

An uncharacteristic look of horror formed on Laura's face at the idea of being related to Deadpool in any way, shape, or form. Not only was she way more expressive than people thought, she was also really imaginative. Fortunately for her, I was there to rain on his parade, "Seeing as how you didn't contribute any genes – no."

"Damn," Deadpool cursed, "I had a great 'protective big brother' speech planned and everything. Check it out," To everyone's collective chagrin, he cleared his throat and launched into said speech, "Listen up, kid. Condoms are meant for prostitute business expenses and for smuggling drugs in your stomach. If you don't go skin-to-skin, it's like saying you don't really love her. Also, pulling out is for wusses. Finishing inside is like leaving the future up to fate. And what's more romantic than fate-?"

"-Wade!" Mister Logan eventually roared, claws popping in anger, "You can make this easy or hard. Knowin' you, it's definitely gonna be the hard way. But I figure I'll make the easy offer anyway."

By now, Deadpool was lying on his stomach, feet kicking in the air behind him as he listened raptly, "Uh-huh?"

Logan seemed to be kicking himself for even thinking about what he was set to propose, but he did so anyway, "If you help us get to the bottom of who put the bounty on the kid, I'll... I'll... consider it a tryout for the X-Men."

If before, Logan had Deadpool's attention, after that, he had his interest, "Really!?" The mercenary exclaimed.

"Not my team," I was quick to throw in for the sake of self-preservation. I could feel the gratitude from Laura and Julian alike, "We're all full."

"Pfft. Like I'd bother breaking a sweat just to wind up on the JV team," Deadpool sent our way as a shot before actually taking a moment to contemplate the offer, "...Still, I don't know. One of you also have to read the draft for my novel and give me some notes."

"You have a novel?" I asked.

"I'm more surprised he can even read and write," Julian insulted.

Deadpool didn't seem to take much offense to the remark, "Hey, I actually have really nice handwriting. But text-to-speech is a thing in this day and age too, you know."

"Glowstick'll read it," Logan was quick to volunteer my services, "He's a movie and book guy."

"I will?" I was prepared to argue until Laura gave me a nudge and a look. It was fair. This was about me, after all, "...Yeah, okay... I will."

"Deal," Deadpool immediately agreed, trying to shake hands, only to be stopped by the containment field, "Ow."

Despite being the one to offer the terms, Logan seemed surprised; as though he hadn't expected it to be that easy, "What? Really?"

Deadpool shrugged, "Yeah. Honestly, I'm just glad I finally get a spot in this story. My last movie came out years ago. Putting me in now isn't exactly striking while the iron's hot."

"Seriously, what the fuck is he talking about?" Julian asked Logan, the only person who might have had a semblance of an idea. Even he had nothing for us.

"Don't," Logan wearily advised, "Just... don't."


And that's the chapter everyone. More than anything else, I just wanted to have a little fun for a bit. Hence, including Deadpool for the next portion. Do I need Deadpool to get where I'm going? Probably not, as he isn't really necessary for any character's story that isn't his. But I do as I please.

...By the way, yes, I could only hear Ryan Reynolds' voice anytime I read Deadpool's dialogue. I'd be surprised if any of you didn't.

Originally, a part of me kind of wanted this story to be like a less raunchy Blue Mountain State when it came to the school stuff, but with X-Men students. I say 'less raunchy' because if you've seen Blue Mountain State, I couldn't in good conscience attempt to go anywhere near that far and keep things anywhere near the realm of being serious when I need it to be. So, we never wound up going that route.

Anyway, until the next time around, everyone.

Kenchi out.