Disclaimer: Only "the Stranger" is owned by Marvel Comics. The others are original characters by the Cody, Monster of Cookies and author of this piece. All editing was done by yours truly, so complain to King Henry the V if there are any mistakes.

Note: This story takes place in the MDR (Marvel Done Right) series.

Jake shook the snow off his coat before stepping through the door and allowing it to close behind him. He involuntarily shivered as he hung his coat on the coat rack by the door.

"It's a cold one tonight Max. I didn't-" Jake stopped as he noticed the stranger sitting at the opposite end of the bar.

"How's it goin'?" Jake asked.

The man ignored Jake's inquiry. He had long black hair which seemed to grow straight out of his head no matter what angle it grew at, but it was perfectly even across the top. The man also had the thickest sideburns Jake had ever seen in his life. He sat at the opposite end of the bar wearing a leather jacket over a white tee which had slowly begun to turn gray. He wore a very faded pair of blue jeans over his legs which ended at an old beat up pair of tennis shoes. The man was staring at his glass, just watching the bubbles float to the top. To Jake, the man looked short.

"Have a seat Jake. He doesn't talk much." Max was walking in from the back. "Here's your usual." He sat the glass down in front of him.

"Who is he?" Jake's voice was involuntarily reduced to a whisper.

"Not sure," Max replied. "But don't bother whispering. He can hear you. The only thing I know about him is he comes here every year on the dame day at the same time. Any time I've tried asking him why he just brushes me off, tells me he doesn't know; that he can't remember. He just comes, orders the same thing, stares at it for a while, then he walks out without saying a word. He never even takes a drink, but he tips well so I don't mind."

Jake stared at the man for a few seconds longer, until he remembered what he had seen on the news.

"Did you hear about what happened in DC? That mutant going crazy and blasting everything?"

"Yeah I heard."

"Sometimes I wonder Max. Why doesn't the Government do something about the mutants? Especially that one that can control the magnets. He's clearly evil. They should be jumping at opportunities to take him out. I mean yea he stopped the one that was out of control, but did you see how brutally he did it? Smashed him into nothing but juices with the White House fence!" He paused. "They need to do something about him."

"It ain't that easy, bub," said the stranger. His voice was a low growl, and he had turned his attention away from his drink.

"What do you mean?" Max asked. The stranger had both men's complete attention.

"It ain't as black and white as the kid thinks. What if I told you that the kid who went berserk was a byproduct of the Government trying to 'deal' with mutants."

The stranger paused waiting to get a reaction from the men. When neither so much as blinked he decided to go on.

"Alright then. We'll start with the magnet man. His name's Magneto, if it matters. Imagine, bub, that you have some kind abnormality about you, something that makes you different from everyone else. Like, you were really good at poker or something, better than any man has a right to be. Imagine that because of these Gifts, people wanted to kill you, to beat you, to take away every right you have that makes you human. How are you going to respond? There's the easy way which is to fight back, and that's what Magneto feels he's doing."

"I also know of a guy named Chuck. Chuck and Magneto used to be good friends, but they have a little bit of a difference of opinion on how to fight for their rights. Chuck prefers the nonviolence approach, 'cept for when it comes to protecting humans. Chuck is like that King guy in that regard, 'cept he ain't anything like that King guy. Let's say Chuck has the ability to manipulate the minds of everyone on this planet. He can make them do whatever he wants them to do. It makes you wonder how far that man will go to achieve his goals. How many minds will he bend to get them to see things his way? Would he be willing to completely take the mind of a well adept killer, so that he will fight for his side?" He paused and looked at his knuckles. "Sometimes ya gotta wonder."

"Anyway, these two are always fighting, right? So the Government decides one day that they're gonna build giant robots to kill them all. Only the giant robots ain't so great on stronger mutants who can beat 'em." Jake thought he almost saw the man smile at this. "No, that won't work at all. So they try something new. They capture a few Mutants and put these gizmos inside of 'em so they can control 'em. Preferably they get mutants that can dampen the other one's powers. Then they give 'em all kinds of weapons and they teach 'em to fly. Then they send 'em out to do their killin'."

"Now let's suppose the mind control gizmos don't work like they should, and one of these Mutants realizes what the government has done to 'em."

"Washington DC," Max said, shocked. The words barely escaped his mouth.

"You got it bub." The man turned back towards his drink and resumed his silent staring.

The three men didn't speak for an eternity. Jake sat staring at his drink, much like the stranger did. The only noise in the place was the slow, melodic creaking of a ceiling fan which spun shakily over the bar. The silence was finally broken by the sound of motorcycles pulling up in the parking lot outside.

"Hey Max, it's paytime!" a voice from outside called.

"Jake block the door. They're back for more," Max said. The panic in his voice led Jake to immediate action.

He sprung from his seat and was at the door when it swung open and knocked him flat on his back. The door had been kicked in.

"Oh look here, fellas," the voice from earlier said as he walked in. "We got us a hero trying to lock the door. We all know what happens to heroes don't we boys."

Laughter came from the men following him in. There were five of them in all, the lead man being the biggest. The lead man kicked Jake in the ribs.

"Take care of him boys." The four men picked Jake up and dragged him to a back corner in the bar.

"What about you? Gonna play hero?" he said towards the stranger.

The stranger was back to ignoring everything around him.

"We know what to do with the silent types too."

Again the laughter came from the men, who were now beating the hell out of Jake.

"Wallet," he said as he gave the man a shove.

The scream of pure feral rage shook the entire bar on its foundations. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch. Claws sprung from the man's knuckles. Jake stared in awe as the stranger drove the six metal blades deep into each of the man's legs. The large man cried out in shock and pain as he fell to his knees. The stranger retracted his claws and punched the man in the face and sent him flying onto his back.

At this the other four men left Jake to go help their leader. The first one to get there threw a punch and Jake could hear the bones breaking from where he sat. The man clutched his fist in agony and doubled over. The stranger turned and leapt at the next closest man and threw him across the bar. He grabbed the third, but the fourth had pulled a knife and quickly jammed it into the strangers back. Again, the stranger let out his scream of rage and smashed the two men's heads together.

Having dispatched the other four men, the stranger returned to the leader of the group and pulled him up to meet him eye to eye. His chest rose and fell as he panted for breath, more because of the adrenaline than the actual fight itself. The leader of the biker gang's knees still rested on the floor. The stranger was that short.

The stranger turned to Max. "Your call, bub. I can gut him right here and he'll never threaten you again." His claws slid back out and stopped just at the man's neck.

"What's it gonna be?"

The man started whimpering now as he stared his proposed executioner in the face. Mucus ran down his upper lip and tears were smeared across his face.

"Not such an easy choice is it?"

At this, the stranger dropped the man, pulled a hundred dollar bill from his wallet and laid it on the counter, and then left through the kicked-in door. Jake struggled his way over to the door to stop him and thank him, but when he looked out into the snow the man was gone. He left no footprints.

Jake turned back inside and said to Max who was now on the phone, "Think he'll be back next year?"

Max covered the lower part of the phone with his hand.

"Who knows?" he said.