The bar was crowded, well, wasn’t it always? He would often come here when he wanted to be alone, it was the kind of place where you could fade into the background, purely because the kind of clientele it attracted was the kind that weren’t really interested in those around them; bikers, outlaws, people running from something, and then there was James who wasn’t quite sure which of those he fit into.

He was looking for something, something that he knew he’d probably never find, at least not in some dive bar on the outskirts of New York but there was something about this place he found calming. He’d often find himself skipping out on Xavier’s for days, sometimes weeks, on end just to surround himself with some semblance of normality, not that James Howlett really knew what normality was and, if he ever had done, he was screwed if he could remember now.

Downing his ninth beer of the afternoon, he just couldn’t seem to get drunk today, he gestured to the barman from his seat at the bar for another before adding in a gruff voice, as an afterthought; “And a shot of whiskey, actually make it two.”

The man, a wizened old man who’d probably had a heroin addiction at one point, nodded. He knew James well, the man was often found in here, he had a bit of reputation for not taking any shit.

“On a heavy one, I take it?” He said, pulling out a bottle and sliding it down the counter to him before pouring out two shots of whiskey with surprising finesse. He took them over to James, resting them carefully them down on the table.

James shrugged, downing the first shot and slammed the empty glass down on the table. “It’s just one of those days.” He took a sip from the bottle of beer before shooting back the second shot.

“Hey, where’s that blonde chick?”

He was, of course, referring to Liz, the woman who was renowned in the bar for outdrinking many of the more seasoned patrons before overtaking the jukebox and dancing on the tables to old irish folk tunes. James would sometimes bring her along when he fancied the company, she was a decent girl, didn’t ask too many questions and was perfectly able to take care of herself when the men got a little too lecherous for her liking.

“Not around today.” James smiled grimly before taking another swig from the bottle. He’d only just got back into New York that morning, hadn’t even looked in at the Mansion yet. He’d come straight here without so much as a phone call.

He fixed his gaze on the small television mounted up on the wall behind the barman, signalling that the conversation was over. The news was on and James exhaled in mild distaste, the news was the same every day now, talking about how much of a danger mutants were. Except today, it was different, there had been an explosion somewhere, there were people crying on the screen, weeping for dead relatives and…

“Hey, turn that up.” He barked, it wasn’t a request, it was an order and the barman did as he was told, leaning back against the counter to watch as well.

“Shit.” The old barman muttered, watching as the story unfolded, apparently a group of mutant extremists had come forward, calling themselves The Brotherhood of Mutants, and they’d taken responsibility for the massacre at Fenway Park. “Jesus, those filthy muties, eh?” He said, turning to look at James but instead found himself looking at the empty chair where the man had been sat, a pile of ten dollar bills were resting underneath the half drunk beer bottle and he was nowhere to be seen.