Notes: This is dedicated to Maelstrom. Because, see, she stayed up half the night plotting and giving me lines. Probably a good half of these are hers . . . *grins* Many thanks also go to Ashlan and Trisha, who semi-beta-read it for me and gave me some pointers, and Pebblin. Who gave Galactus and Apocalypse pointers on how to talk like that. I'm sure of it . . . All other stuff is at the bottom. :)
The door was small, leading out of the Subreality Cafe with its rowdy noise (really, was there any other kind?) and dangerous fictives. This was the back room. Or rather, one of the back rooms. Well, a side room, really, if you wanted to be picky. Sort of a corner room. Not even a room, more like a lounge. Except that a lounge really was a room, so it could still be identified as a room.
It had been open for a week, and debates were still running fast and furious about who could get in. The horseshoe pits were a hot commodity.
And there, in the doorway, resplendent in her wrinkles, wearing them as a badge of eligibility, stood Merry the Gimmick Girl, also known around those parts as--The Blue Lounge Bouncer. A most formidable one, too. The crowd around the doorway was sure to keep all walkers and canes out of her reach, for everyone knew that if they came too close Merry would retaliate without concern for the safety of the people around her.
Through the crowd pushed a tall man, his back unbent by time and his white hair newly brushed, by all appearances. "Step aside," he said with a great deal of self-confidence. He practically reeked of it, as he strode right up to Merry, not worrying one whit about her as she eyed him from behind her cats-eye glasses. The rhinestones on the corners flickered in the constantly changing light of the Cafe.
The man stopped before Merry, pulling himself up and looking down at her. She didn't even reach his collarbones, but she didn't seem to mind much. "Name?" she asked, eyes squinting.
"Erik Magnus Lensherr," Magneto answered, sniffing and looking at the people around him. He waited, barely moving but visibly brimming with power, as Merry checked her list.
"Nope!" she said at last. "Not on here. Sorry, move along, move along."
Magneto blinked, looked down at Merry, and shook his head. "It must be on there. I'm over fifty. Try 'Magneto.' You know. Most powerful man in the universe . . ."
Merry sniffed, looking down at her list again. "That's debatable," she muttered. "Nope! Still not on here. Move along! Move along!"
Magneto blinked again. He was beginning to look like he had an eye infection with all that blinking, but no one bothered telling him that. "I must be on there--" he started, and Merry gave him a look that could quell a Watcher. "Well I must be," Magneto said. "I'm over fifty."
Merry eyed him. "You don't look it," she said at last. "Now move along!"
"I AM! I was just . . . de-aged," Magneto said. He wasn't nearly so unbent as he had been before.
Merry looked him up and down before squinting up at him. "Well, then you're not over fifty, are you?"
"But I am!" Magneto protested, grabbing the edges of his black cloak and shaking them in frustration. "I like shuffleboard as much as any of the people in there! And . . . and . . . I was in the Holocaust!"
Merry was looking at her paper again. "From what I understand, ALL Marvel's characters were in the Holocaust . . ."
"No, you're thinking of Onslaught," Magneto corrected.
"Then the other one," Merry answered with a dismissive wave of her hand.
"That was the Age of Apocalypse. Much different."
Merry looked up, frowning. "What, then, you were eaten?"
"I wasn't in the PERSON Holocaust!" Magneto said, exasperated. "I was in the concentration camps! During World War II!" Merry was ignoring him. Magneto huffed and looked around in frustration. "Look! Charles is in already! He can vouch for me!"
Xavier tried not to giggle (it was not proffessor-ish, though chuckling was okay) and settled back in his seat.
"He's LAUGHING at me!" Magneto cried, pointing at Xavier.
"I'm sure he's not," Merry sighed. "We're all adults here."
Xavier laughed out loud then, and stuck his tongue at Magneto. "That's what you get for getting all de-aged! You stole all the hotties!"
"I do not believe you just said 'hotties' . . ." Magneto murmured.
Xavier folded his arms over his chest and slumped back. "It's all this hanging around with young people . . . I NEED this lounge. You don't. So there."
"Move along!" Merry said, cracking Magneto's shins with her wooden cane.
"Ha, ha, ha!" Xavier said, pronouncing each word. "You're probably making out with Polaris on a daily basis! This is your just deserts!"
Magneto was already getting pushed away by others of the crowd, but managed to shout over most of their heads, "Well, your mom wore army boots!"
"Did not!" Xavier shouted back.
"Did too! Nyah nyah na nyah nyah!"
"Well, I'm in here and you're not!" Xavier answered, both mentally and by shouting to make sure Magneto heard.
"Yeah? Well I have the HOTTIES!" Magneto roared over the crowd.
The Cafe silenced. Magneto looked around, then smiled weakly. "Heh," he said. Then sniffed and straightened, the very picture of offended arrogance. "What? The Master of Magnetism can't say 'hotties'?" He lifted his chin and shouted at Merry, "This is bigotry! You hate me because I'm well written in fic! Can I help it if the predominant Magneto Writer is good? No! Bigotry, I say! I'm getting ABYSS! I know he must be under a table around here somewhere . . ."
Merry shook her head and looked at the next applicant. "Name?"
"John Law," the man said, peeking over the top of Merry's sheet.
She glared at him and propped it up higher.
"Oh, yeah," Merry nodded, "I have you here. Go on in. Name?"
Merry stuck one finger in her ear and shook it. "You don't have to yell. We're not old, you--oh. Wait. That's the point of this lounge, isn't it? Well, we're not hard of hearing."
"SORRY," Apocalypse said.
Merry gave him a dirty look. The same one that would have quelled a Watcher, actually. It seemed she only had a few Looks in her repertoire.
"What's going on up there? What's the hold up?" someone in the back of the crowd shouted.
"SHE'S LOOKING FOR MY NAME," Apocalypse answered.
There was a muttering, then, "Could someone please tell that young man to speak up? Not all of us have great hearing, you know!"
Apocalypse considered blinking, but he didn't have eyelids (it was a grievous oversight--especially when he rode his motorcycle without his helmet) and he didn't want to look like Magneto anyway.
"You're not here, big guy," Merry said. "Move along!"
"I MUST BE THERE. I AM OVER TWO THOUSAND YEARS OLD."
Merry shook her head. "Not here. Move along."
"BUT I AM OF THE STRONG!"
"Then you're not old! The old have osteoporosis! Move along!"
"BUT," Apocalypse wheedled, which was really quite impressive. It wasn't everyone who could wheedle in capitals. "BUT I'M APOCALYPSE! I'M OF THE STRONG!"
"I already said," Merry snapped, "if you're strong you're not old! And we outnumber you! So get lost!"
Apocalypse looked in stunned amazement (at least, everyone was pretty SURE it was stunned amazement. It was hard to tell, what with his mechanical face and all) at Merry, who was already ignoring him and looking once more at her paper.
Apocalypse was shoved, whimpering, aside.
"Merry! It's me! Doiby! From Old Justice!"
Merry blinked, then smiled--her face crinkling up so much her eyes were nearly lost--and waved Doiby through.
"Deadman," a ghostly voice said.
"You're not on here."
"I'm old. Trust me."
Merry eyed him. "How do I know that?"
"I'm DEAD. Of COURSE I'm old." Deadman blinked at her. Not an easy task for an apparition.
"Yes, but you might only have been dead for a few years. And maybe you were only thirty or so when you died," Merry pointed out, waving her pencil around for emphasis.
Deadman looked at her as if she'd gone temporarily insane. Or even, perhaps, as if she'd gone permanently insane. It was hard to tell which look he was using. "But--"
Merry glanced over in confusion as Charles Xavier wheeled by her, looking surprised as he left the room.
"Um. Help?" Xavier said as he went by.
He disappeared into the crowd as it parted and closed behind him. A moment later it parted again, letting a very disgruntled Xavier, pushed by a smug Magneto, back in.
"Excuse us," Magneto said, smirking at Merry. "I have to push my handicapped friend into the lounge."
"This stinks," Xavier muttered as they both went through.
"Keep that metal on your wheelchair, old boy," Magneto laughed wickedly.
Merry opened her mouth to protest, but ended up closing it again. After all, a man had a right to choose who pushed him around.
She turned back to deal with Deadman, but he'd already moved away. Standing in his place, looking up at her cheerfully, was a teenager.
"You can't come in, Impulse," Merry sniffed, looking back at her paper so she didn't have to see him.
"But I'm ancient! I mean, if you look at it chronologically, I was born some years in the future but then came back here . . . oh wait, does that make me younger instead? I confuse me."
He was nearly buzzing in place. In fact, he might very well have been buzzing in place.
"It means you're not born yet."
"I'm in the womb?" Impulse asked, cocking his head and rocking back on his toes. Then he went back to vibrating. "Cool!"
"Nope. Not even in the womb." Merry lowered her paper and smiled smugly down at Impulse. "You, my dear, are a little sperm swimming in your daddy's--"
"AAAAGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!" Impulse screamed, covering his ears and looking horrified. "Stop! Please, stop! I'll do anything you ask, just don't say any more!"
Merry smirked, and while she glanced away Impulse zipped into the lounge, grabbed fizzy water and whisky, and zipped back out again. Merry's hair would have blown in the breeze he left, but she was wearing her superhero helmet spray (don't leave headquarters without it).
"Excuse me?" a very pleasant female voice said.
Merry looked up suspiciously. Most older female characters were nasty and bitter because they no longer looked anatomically impossible, and their voices reflected that. Sure enough, before her stood a very lovely redhead. "You can't come in," Merry said without preamble.
"No, no," the redhead said. "You don't understand--you see, I'm Jean Grey-Summers. I'm old--I spent ten years in the future with my husband. And that hasn't been the only time I've spent in another time--no pun intended. I'm really quite old."
Merry looked at this polite young lady and smiled. "But you look so young, still!"
"Why thank you!" Jean said, smiling. Then frowned and shook her head. "Wait, no, I want to be old."
"I'm sorry, dear," Merry said, shaking her head. "You're not."
"But I'm his mother!" Jean said, pointing to a gray haired man sulking in the corner of the Cafe.
Merry looked from Jean to the man and back again. "Huh?" she said very eloquently.
"You see, that's my son Nathan. Well, actually he's not totally my son--he's my clone's son. But he was taken to the future--"
"You have a clone?"
Jean smiled and nodded. "Yes. Her name is Madelyne. Went insane for a little while, but I hear she's better now! She's around Nate's self from another dimension quite a bit."
Merry was silent, so Jean went on.
"Anyway, Maddy appeared when I was dead for a few years there, and my now-husband married her and they had Nate. Later, Maddy died--or so we thought, but you know how clones are!--and Scott and I went into the future to raise Nate--"
"Why'd he go into the future?" Merry asked, looking slightly confused.
"Well, because Rachel had taken him there."
"Rachel is . . . ?"
"My daughter from the future."
"The same future she took Nate to?" Merry asked.
"Oh no. A different one completely."
"I . . . see." In point of fact, Merry saw very well. But this had nothing to do with her eyesight, and it wasn't helping her in the slightest. She was very confused.
"So, we went to raise Nate--"
"Rachel didn't keep him?"
"No. We raised him for about ten years, and then came back but only three days had passed--during our honeymoon, too!--and after that there was the traveling back in time with Sinister thing--"
"Any Madelyne had died?"
"Well, yes, but she came back later--"
Merry finally raised a hand and shook her head. "You have two children--"
"Three, if you count Nate, and many many more if you count fictives."
Merry blinked. "I was counting Nate."
"No, the other Nate. The Nate from an alternate future."
" . . . oh." Merry thought about whimpering, but didn't. She was brave. "Right. So, three children plus fictives, you've died, you've had a clone--"
"You've had several clones?"
"No, no, I've died several times."
Merry just looked at Jean for a moment, then finally shook her head and looked down at her list. "What did you say your last name was?"
"Grey-Summers," Jean supplied.
Merry nodded and scribbled something. "Go in. Please."
"Me too!" Max Mercury said, nearly racing past Jean. Merry managed, apparently using Subreality Physics, to trip him up with her cane.
"No speedsters allowed."
Max looked hurt. "Why not?"
"Because," Merry sniffed. "You all age prematurely. It's impossible to tell your real ages. And besides, none of you seem very old."
Max wilted and shuffled away. He barely went seventy miles an hour.
Merry rubbed her temples, sighed, and said, "Name?"
"DARKSIED," came the booming answer.
Merry looked over her list. "Not here. Move along."
"I AM DARKSIED! IF YOU DO NOT LET ME IN, I SHALL EAT THIS PUNY WORLD!"
Merry looked up, irritated. "Is that a threat, mister? Do you really want to threaten me? Me?"
Darksied looked at her for a moment, then linked his hands behind his back and toed the floor. "NO," he murmured at last, and turned to shuffle away.
Merry looked up, smiling. "Go right on in! We're so glad you could perform!"
Dick Clark smiled and entered the lounge.
"Should we allow him in?" Doiby asked from just inside.
"Of course. Why not?" Merry responded.
"Well, he ain't no superhero," Doiby pointed out.
"It doesn't matter," Merry said, shrugging. "He's ghastly old." She turned and looked at the man before her. "Name?"
"Silver Surfer. I am here to say that Galactus is on his way."
Merry rolled her eyes. These villains and their heralds. Really.
A moment later a giant foot was placed before her (in a hot pink boot--really, Galactus was more gay than the Human Torch. Now there was a closet case. "Flame on"? You couldn't get more obvious. Those Marvel characters . . .) and Merry looked up. "Yes?"
"I AM GALACTUS."
Merry was getting very tired of being yelled at all the time. "You can't come in. Sorry. Your name isn't on here."
"I DON'T BELIEVE YOU REALIZE WHO I AM."
Merry sighed and prepared for yet another go around with a character who thought he was all-powerful (just because he was a god, really!), but was saved the effort when Apocalypse suddenly arrived.
"ONLY I AM ALLOWED TO SPEAK IN CAPITALS!" he said in his great booming voice.
Galactus blinked. Most of the crowd was blown away by the breeze created by his eyelashes. "OH YEAH?" he said with great irritation. "YOU WANT TO TAKE THIS OUTSIDE, HOMBRE?"
"YO YO, DON'CHOO MESS WIT' ME, MAN," Apocalypse warned.
Merry's brain went into spasm and shut down for fifteen minutes. When she was able to function again, Apocalypse and Galactus had taken themselves (and their LA speech) away. Merry was intensely relieved.
"Are you all right?" an older gentleman asked in a British accent.
Merry smiled fondly. He had a British accent. "I'm fine."
"That's good. Now, may I enter? Kenobi, is the name. Obi-Wan."
Merry sighed--he wasn't interested in her!--and checked the list. "I don't see you here."
He looked slightly nonplussed, then shrugged and waved his hand in front of her face. "You will let me in."
Merry eyed him. "No I won't. What is that, some sort of Jedi mind trick? Get outta here!"
Obi-Wan looked stunned. "But it's supposed to work!" he cried unhappily.
"Well, it doesn't! I'm a DC character, not a Star Wars character! In fact, I'm not even sure you should be in the Cafe . . ."
Obi-Wan Kenobi glared at Merry out of slitted eyes. Finally, he grabbed at his belt and pulled a weapon out. "You see this light saber? Huh? Now let me in!"
"Such rudeness!" Merry cried, affronted. And she had thought that he was such a nice man, too. "All right, young man, you march yourself off to the corner right now and think about your actions!"
Obi-Wan looked at her in shock. "But - but -"
"NOW!" Merry roared.
Obi-Wan sheathed his light saber and walked off, grumbling, "Use the Force my ass . . ."
Merry sighed, shaking her head, and looked at the next applicant. A young black man with an M tattooed on his face. Kids these days. "I suppose you think you should come in."
He nodded. "Bishop. I'm sure I'm on there."
Merry looked. Bishop wasn't on there. "Sorry."
Bishop frowned. Well, more. "Under 'time travelers' maybe?"
Merry looked up. "Is your last name Summers?"
Bishop shook his head, bewildered.
"Then time travelers aren't allowed in. You're not even born, much less old."
"The toddlers area is over there. You'll have better luck getting in. In fact, you're late for your picture drawing contest! Go! Go go go go! HURRY!"
Bishop, looking confused, hurried off.
"Go lick your wounds, Bish!" a rough looking man with pointy hair called, a beer in one hand and a cigar in the other. He sauntered up to Merry, looking entirely too cocky. "Logan. Wolverine. Lemme in." He nodded toward a woman in the lounge, who waved back. "Hurry it up. I got a hot date with Charlotte."
Merry glared at him, then checked her list. "You're not here and you don't look old enough!"
"I don't have to look it," he growled, putting his cigar in his mouth and chomping down on it. His free hand came up, fisting before his face, and three long claws tore out of his skin with a SNIKT and a bit of blood.
"You don't scare me, kid," Merry said. "I have laundry that's got more battle experience than you do. Off with you!"
"Who you callin' 'kid'?" Logan barked, through the great law of comics not losing his cigar. "You see these claws?"
"You see that fig juice on tap?" Merry pointed back toward the bar in the lounge, where Doiby and Magneto were currently playing Hearts. "You drink three glasses of fig juice and I'll let you in!"
Logan considered it for a moment. And then another one. In fact, he considered it for several moments. Then, finally, he shook his head and turned away. "Lady, not even my healing factor could handle that." And he walked off.
Merry sighed--all these young kids wanting in--and looked around. The next entries would be invited, dang it. "Hey! You!" she called to a very short, bearded black man. "Want in?"
He looked at her wordlessly. He was only wearing a sort of loincloth, and a bull roarer dangled from one hip.
"Can you talk?"
He didn't answer.
"Musta lost his dentures," someone murmured.
"Poor guy," Merry tsked. "Come on in, guy! We understand!"
The man looked at her for a moment, then pulled out his bull roarer and whirled it over his head. A portal appeared, he stepped through, and the next thing Merry knew he was inside the lounge.
"Show off," Merry said, glancing through the crowd. "You! Mister! Want in?"
The man looked at her, surprised. "Cher, I ain' old enough."
"You sure? You look it," Merry answered.
The man blinked. "I ain'! Some aut'ors say I'm barely twenty!"
Merry frowned. "Then you're sure looking haggard, young man. Stop trying to fool me and get out of here!"
The man's red on black eyes widened, and he huffed away.
Merry sighed, swung her legs, and looked at the very expectant Batman fictive. "Oh. You look upset. You must be one of 'rith's."
The Batman figure scowled. At least, it might have been a scowl. It was hard to tell, since that was how he normally looked, and he wore the mask all the time.
"Ignore him, madam," another man said, sidling his way through the crowd.
Batman's eyes narrowed further at the figure before him.
The new man smiled beatifically at Merry and said, "Al Ghul. Ra's."
Merry checked her list. "Oh, sure! Reborn every century, right? Come on in."
"I thought you said time travelers weren't allowed!" Bishop howled from where he sat across the room at a red and yellow plastic table.
"Get back to your drawing!" Merry shouted back. "He's not a time traveler!"
Bishop grumbled and studiously colored in his new My Little Pony coloring book.
Ra's Al Ghul had, meanwhile, glided into the lounge with Batman close on his heels. Merry stuck out her cane, tapping it on Batman's chest. "You don't get in, young man," she said sternly, looking at him down her nose. It was really quite hard to do.
"I'm old," he said, frowning. More. Possibly--it was still hard to tell, that being his default expression. "I've even raised a child into manhood."
"That's all well and good," Merry said, checking her papers, "but you didn't age. Only he did. Therefore, you're not old. Therefore, you're not getting in. Now scat."
Batman looked offended. Well, actually he still looked like Batman, but it seemed like he was probably offended. He did turn and leave without a fight, though. Merry was surprised.
She looked around, let another woman in. Checked her watch. That was the end of her shift--Doiby was coming to take over. Merry just hoped Xavier hadn't gotten high on prune juice again. She wanted some, dangit.
"Excuse me," a man said, stepping up to her. "I need to go in."
Merry blinked. She couldn't believe it. "Batman. You're too young."
"No, look, I have ID," he said, holding it out.
Merry took it and eyed it. "This is done in crayon," she pointed out archly. She looked around Batman, and saw Bishop trying to look very innocent by the hopscotch mat. "You can't come in."
Batman loomed over her. "I don't need a reason to give to you! Just let me in!"
"Aren't you supposed to be fighting crime?" Merry demanded, ignoring his looming techniques. She was good. "What sort of standard are you trying to set here?"
"Dis bum givin' ya trouble, Merry?" Doiby asked, arriving behind her and squinting up at Batman.
"Do you have any idea the horror I've been facing in fics lately?" Batman demanded. "I NEED this lounge! Why, one Writer brought Jason back from the dead, and killed off Alfred, all in the same story! Another Writer is making Dick in love with me! . . . in fact, Writers do that all the time . . ." Batman frowned introspectively. Then he seemed to snap out of it, and wailed, "And it's making me question everything that is me! They set me up with Superman--do you know how hard it is to continue to demand respect when your fellow EVERYONE knows you have a crush on Superman? And even Ra's! Writers are slashing me all over, and criminals just don't take me seriously anymore! They suggest I wear pink, and they giggle behind my back! And Lois--she won't even talk to me! I try to tell her, it's not me--it's the Writers! But she's not having any of it!"
Merry started to shake her head again, and Batman dropped to his knees before her, grabbing the edges of her blazer and clutching them. "Please! Please! You have to let me in! I'm broken!" He leaned his head on her stomach and started to sob.
Merry and Doiby exchanged glances. Finally, Merry put an arm around Batman's shoulders and patted him comfortingly, waiting for him to stand before leading him into the lounge. Prune juice all around, and cough syrup would make him feel better . . . besides, now Doiby had to deal with the others trying to get in. Ha.
Merry's shift was over.
She settled Batman, still sniffling, at a table in the corner, then motioned to Mama Beldacci--the server on call at the moment--to come help him. Tiredly, Merry trudged to the bar and sat down on a stool next to two people--a man and a woman, talking. "Hey, Ben. Hello, Mrs. C," Merry said on a sigh.
They both glanced over, smiling and making small talk for a few moments before going back to their conversation.
Merry turned to the barista, almost grateful to be able to ignore the two fictives. The former Commissioner, Gordon, smiled from the other side of the bar and sat a glass of cough syrup in front of her. Merry grinned gratefully, taking a swallow before setting it back down on the bar. "Thanks. I needed that."
"Long day?" Gordon asked, drying glasses.
"You wouldn't believe it," Merry moaned.
Gordon grinned, eyes twinkling. "I don't think it's quite over." He nodded over Merry's shoulder, and reluctantly she turned to look.
"Merry!" Magneto shouted, pointing a long finger at Xavier. "He's hogging the Depends!"
Merry glanced over at Xavier, who was currently wearing a pair as a hat and sticking his tongue out at Magneto. "Dear lord," she sighed. "Doiby! I'll give you fifty dollars if you'll let me go back to work!"
DISCLAIMER: None of those characters are mine. Not one. Scary, isn't it?
Stories and fictives and people I used--all without their permission. I should be ashamed of me. *grins*:
The good Magneto Writer Mags is refering to is Alara. Though, if you know of a Mag writer you like, I'm sure he's refering to that one, too!
Abyss is Abyss, and belongs to his pub. At least until he pays off the tab. *grins*
Charlotte is an original character created by Kerri, and is in many of Kerri's stories.
The following things from Batman's rant came from these stories:
The Ra's Al Ghul and Batman pairing: Rubayyat, by Dannell Lites
Jason Todd back from the dead and Alfred dying, all in the same story: "Here There Be . . . " by Kaylee
Dick in love with Bruce (sorta) is from the Sea and Sky series by rith and Dannell. I understand there's more than just that story, but I haven't read them
Mama Beldacci, Harv and Mrs. C. are from many stories by Mel, among them "A Dinner of Herbs."
The Batman/Superman pairing--the most recent one I've seen, anyway, is "World's Finest: Immovable Object" By LizardBeth.
Back to the X-Mansion
Back to the living room