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Chapter 1

How the Other Half Lives: A Subreality Cafe Story - REVIEW THIS STORY

Written by Valerie Jones
Last updated: 04/07/2007 08:08:52 PM

Chapter 1

The Bouncer stepped outside the front door of the Subreality Café, firmly pulling said door tight behind him. The raucous din emanating from inside the Café was mercifully muted and he took up his normal post with a sense of relief. The muppets were here again. Never in all of his long non-life had the Bouncer ever met as noisy a bunch of miscreants as those fics. He was grateful that his job let him tend the door so that he didn’t have to listen to them. Especially their music.

The Bouncer shuddered in sympathy for the Bartender and looked around. The street was quiet, it having gotten too late for the fics to be out in force. Only then did he notice the figure seated quietly on the steps of the Café. The man was certainly familiar. The Bouncer saw as many as twenty different versions of him in any given day. But as he watched this one silently thread a playing card between nimble fingers, he felt the aura the radiated from him. A subtle but unmistakable glow.

“Hey! No Mainstreams allowed! You know the rules.”

Gambit looked up, flashed a grin. “Do I look like I’m goin’ inside?” He tossed the card out into the street, where it fluttered to the ground, lifeless. “I’m on vacation. Jus’ t’ought I’d come see how de ot’er half lives.”

The Bouncer eyed him warily, but he seemed content to sit on the empty steps of the Café. “Guess there’s no rule against waiting out here.” He put on his most intimidating face. “But if you try to go inside I’ll have to hurt you.”

The Mainstream stared at him for a moment, then shrugged. “Whatever.”

The Bouncer didn’t get a chance to consider his response as the door behind him flew open and out rushed a veritable wave of short, furry creatures. Fozzie, Gonzo, Kermit and the gang ran down the stairs and piled into a badly painted bus which took off almost before the last of them had climbed aboard.

Gambit looked up at the Bouncer. “What were dose?”



The Bouncer gave him a cross glance, annoyed by his ignorance. “Muppets. Puppets with an ‘M’. Created by Jim Henson to torture good people everywhere.”

“An’ dere’s really an X-Men fanfic wit’ dem in it?”

“Yup. ‘Fraid so.”

“Whose demented idea was dat?”

“Shhh!” The Bouncer glared at him. “What do you think I’m going to do? Invoke a Writer?” He turned away, determined to ignore the Mainstream. Vacation or not, he didn’t belong at the Café.

The door open behind the Bouncer again, this time at a more sedate pace. Two women walked out. The first was in her early twenties, her long blue fur pulled back in trendy barrettes. The second was older, with a thick mane of dark auburn hair and black-on-red eyes. Both stopped when they saw Gambit.

“Oh wow! A Mainstream! Hi Remy!” The younger one waved cheerfully.

“Hey, Siku,” he replied, and Sikudhani McCoy flushed violently beneath her covering fur.

“The Mainstreams know who I am?” she squeaked.

The other woman nudged her, smiling. “Of course they do. There are more fics about you than anyone else.”


“But I don’ know you, chere,” Gambit said as he approached the other woman. His smile was thoroughly charming, but the Bouncer sensed an underlying melancholy that wasn’t entirely dispelled even by this lady’s loveliness.

She gave him a knowing grin and held out her hand. “Reine.” She cocked her head, studying him, as he obligingly kissed the proffered hand.

“I know you’re Mainstream and all,” she said as he straightened, “but for what it’s worth. . . I know. And I don’t care.”

Gambit simply stared at her in a mixture of surprise and confusion. Reine gave him a rather feline smile and patted his cheek. “Keep the faith, Little Brother.” Then she was gone, pulling Siku down the stairs and out into the night after her.

Gambit watched the pair leave, then glanced at the Bouncer. The question was obvious.

The Bouncer shrugged. “Twins.”

“Oh.” Gambit sat back down on the steps. After a while, he pulled a cigarette out of a pocket of his ever-present duster and lit it with the tip of his finger. The Bouncer sniffed the scent of tobacco, wondering if a Writer would ever have the decency to give him the habit. It always smelled so inviting.

Fics drifted out of the Café as the hours passed. The Bouncer had almost started to enjoy watching Gambit’s reactions to them. Surprise, humor... occasional outrage. This Mainstream had definitely been wrapped up in his own little world for far too long. But then, the High and Mighty at Marvel had been using him extensively of late. Badly, too, if the rumors floating around were even close to true.

A Remy-Rogue pair walked down the stairs, hand in hand. They were deep in conversation and did not notice the man seated in the shadows, who watched them intently. The Bouncer had been wondering how long it would take.

“She’s wearin’ a pistol?” The question was surprisingly mild. The Rogue in question was dressed in a tank shirt and tight black pants, with a silencer-tipped pistol in a quick-draw holster on her left hip.

“She’s human. An assassin,” the Bouncer answered. “From one of those fantasy alternate realities.”

Gambit chuckled. “Dat’s definitely a fantasy I wouldn’ mind sharin’.”

“I think she’s taken, Remy” said a deep voice behind them. “Besides, Mainstreams and fics can’t mix.”

The Bouncer had known he was there. That was his job, after all. But Gambit whirled, eyes narrowing as he took in the tall, white-haired man at the top of the stairs.

“Dat’s pretty cold, comin’ from you, Joseph.”

“Don’t call me that!” The other was livid as he stalked down the stairs. “I am not Joseph! I am Eric Lensherr. E-R-I-C-L-E-N-S-H-E-R-R.” He was face to face with Gambit now. “Do I look like that twenty-year-old wet-behind-the-ears spineless excuse for a tree-hugger that Marvel has made me into? Do I?”

Gambit grinned. “I t’ink I like y’ Writer.”

Magneto’s anger evaporated. “She is the Godess,” he agreed.

Gambit’s expression turned suddenly doubtful. “She’s not de weird lady wit’ de cat, is she?”

Magneto chuckled. “No. That’s someone else. Mind if I join you?” He indicated the spot next to Gambit.

“You plannin’ t’ put a move on Rogue?”

Magneto’s chin rose. “I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer.”

Gambit made a sweeping gesture. “Den help y’self.”

“You Mainstreams certainly are paranoid,” Magneto commented as he settled himself on the stairs.

Gambit extinguished his cigarette. “Yeah, well, we’re at de mercy of idiots. Least de fanfic Writers *care*, y’know?”

Magneto nodded sympathetically. “We’ve been hearing the rumors. Did she really leave you to freeze to death?”

Gambit nodded. “Right outside y’ little palace down dere.” He shot a sidelong glance at Magneto, then shrugged. “But I made it out, o’ course. An’ now dat I’m done wit’ dat horrible LS...” He paused, as if warming to a favorite tirade. “What do dey t’ink I am, stupid? Let’s see... dere’s a beautiful young woman travellin’ in de company of a priest. Who’d’ve ever guessed she was a nun, hehn? Doesn’ dat seem like an obvious conclusion t’ you?” His voice was thick with sarcasm.

“My condolences,” offered Magneto.

Gambit snorted. “Ah well. It’s done now. Least I get a vacation from de mess.”

“Have you heard what they have in mind for Rogue?”

“Hopefully it involves chuckin’ her off de Golden Gate Bridge.”

Magneto looked at him askance and he shrugged. “It was good enough f’ Carol Danvers.”

“You sound bitter.”

Gambit lit another cigarette. “Who, me?”

Magneto grinned. “Well, don’t give up hope. They’re shuffling writers again.”

The furrow between Gambit’s brows eased as he blew smoke. “Oh, I’m sure it’ll all work out eventually. Dey not gon’ leave me out here forever. ‘Course, Rogue’s gon’ have t’ have a fling wit your favorite an’ mine before den.”

“Brett has better taste than that.”


Magneto smiled. “Sorry. My little corner of ficdom’s Rogue. Her name is Brett. You’d like her.” He patted Gambit on the shoulder. “Which reminds me—I’d better get going. My Writer is actually writing about us again.” He levered himself to his feet and stepped off the stairs.

“I’ll bet I would,” Gambit murmured softly as Magneto threw him a friendly wave goodbye. After a moment he stood and stretched.

“Are all de fanfics like dat? Happy endings?” he asked.

The Bouncer frowned. “A fair percentage. After all, the Writer’s don’t have to make any money at this. They do it for fun, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that most of the fics’ lives turn out well.”

“While I’m doomed t’ a life of unrelentin’ angst an’ unrequited love.”

“You *are* a Mainstream, after all.”

Gambit sighed. “Guess some folks are luckier dan ot’ers.” He stepped off the stairs, then turned and looked back at the Café. A haunted smile lit his features and the Bouncer felt a rare stab of sympathy. Then, without another word, he turned and walked off into the night.



The Subreality Café is the creation of Kielle.

The Bouncer and the Bartender were created by Falstaff, I think. Sorry if I’m wrong on that one.

The muppets of course belong to Jim Henson, and were used in an X-Men crossover by N.

Sikudhani McCoy belongs to Darqstar.

Reine belongs to Elena Zovatto, from “Wild Cards”.

The Rogue/Remy couple are from Vicki Lew’s “Free For A Second”.

Magneto and Brett belong to Dande and are from “A Companion Picture”.


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