warnings: foreshadowing of DOOM (literally). world go boom. slight wangsting. language: pg-13 (for f*** and s***).

pairing: Nate/Wade, a little Laura/Julian.

timeline: March-ish 2019.

disclaimer: i doesn't owns the movies, comics, or characters. or the assorted objects of pop culture reference.

notes: 1) title is a reference to one of the most epic Halo quotes ever: "This...is the way the world ends." Cortana utters it into complete silence on a black screen in Halo 3. *_* gives me chills just thinking of it. also a reference to the fact that the Fates told Zeus the world would end in fire (which is why he sent a flood to annihilate the human race). 2) it is, in fact, illegal to make orbital weapons or launch nukes into space. that wouldn't stop a really determined evil guy, i think, but he'd definitely end up with the entire UN breaking down his door (and possibly leveling his country). 3) no, that's not a typo, and no, Eight-ball isn't mistaken - the Wanda who stops the Big One in one branch of the WM bundle was not native to the bundle. at this point, there are no remaining native Wandas. 4) and that's how you trick your Keeper into undoing all the crappy restrictions a well-meaning Quartermaster put on your super-cool AI self. silly humans.

The Way the World Ends

He has no body.

He floats here, in space (not quite space, actually, somewhere just inside the atmosphere) and looks down. Far below, he sees the coast. New York, Jersey, New Hampshire. He drifts a little farther off, and he can see Pennsylvania now, and the Virginias, and the Carolinas.

Something flies past him; he frowns at it while he watches it descend.

That's weird.

Aren't space nukes illegal?

He can see more of them now, slowly working their way to the surface of the planet.

They hit in a chain, a series of white bursts and bubbles of fire, and he can hear screaming.

The screams just get louder and louder, even as he drifts away into space, and he sees more flashes and fire all over, until every scrap of land is burning or blackened.

Wade snaps awake with a gun already in his hand.

Beside him, Nate mutters something and steals the blankets back.

A dream. Of course it was just a weird-ass, stupid fucking dream. Just like the last four or five stupid fucking dreams.

Just in case, just because his Parent Senses are bugging him, he sneaks off and peeks into Hope's room.

The place is a mess of semi-clean laundry, textbooks, and DVDs. He's joked before that she could probably hide a spike pit in there and nobody'd know until they fell in.

She's fast asleep, drooling on her pillow.

He wants to go in and kiss her, just to prove that she's really there, but she's a teenager and that would be Violating the Sanctuary of Her Room (so sayeth Frosty the Snowbitch). He carefully closes the door again and heads back.

He pauses halfway down the hall, backs up two steps to peek into Laura and Julian's room.

The twins are asleep in their crib, safe and sound.

Laura tenses for a moment, then relaxes without opening her eyes. "Go back to bed, old man," she murmurs.

He does.

Nate has effectively coccooned himself in all the blankets by this point, and the sun is getting high enough in the sky to make the ceiling over Wade's side of the bed obnoxiously bright, so there's no way he's getting back to sleep.

His brain returns to the subject of his dreams.

The end of the world.

Sighing, he digs Eight-ball out of his sock drawer and climbs out the window to get to the roof.

Check it once a year.

He's been putting it off, and he feels guilty, that's all. That's why he's been having fucked up dreams.

All he has to do is turn the stupid thing on, ask it if whatever big, bad thing is going to happen will do so sometime soon, and the nightmares will go away.

Wade clutches the glass ball for a long time before he finally gives in and holds it up to the light.

He turns it this way and that, until the angle is just right and the sunlight projects a grid over the surface. Three buttons for the 'boot-up' command—the grid is replaced by a slowly-shifting field of symbols. He finds the first one and starts his hand moving. Automatic. Reflexive. Just muscle-memory, just something he never even realized he did.

It flashes. ~Ah,~ it says. ~It is nearly time.~

Wade shivers. "Nearly time for what?" he asks, fearing the answer.

~In 99% of branches leading from the current timeline, the primary detonation of a nuclear holocaust will take place within the next eight months.~

He sucks in a breath. "Nuclear holocaust?"

In his mind, he sees again the foreign symbols from the day the Traveler fixed his brain.

Flight. Ocean. Fire. Light. World. Death.

~The initial blast, known later as 'the Big One,' engulfs the entire east coast of North America. The chain reaction of retaliatory strikes will destroy major population centers in China, India, and the United States, as well as much of Europe. Total estimated blast fatalities exceed 2.8 billion. Fallout fatalities estimated at one billion within the first year, followed by an additional billion over the next decade as the ash cloud fully matures and begins to migrate.~

Wade pulls his knees up to his chest. "W-what can I…is there any way to stop it?"

~Analyzing remaining 1% of branches… Only one branch actually stops the holocaust event—the others simply delay it.~

"And how do they stop it?" he presses.

The thing flashes for a little while. ~It is impossible.~

"Don't gimme that shit, just tell me!"

~It was stopped by subject designate Wanda Maximoff BT825, the mutant known as the Scarlet Witch. There are no designations of Wanda Maximoff or Wanda Lensherr present in this timeline.~

"Shit. Shit. Could Nate slide somewhere and get us one?"

The thing beeps and flashes red. ~The proposed course of action leads to failure in all attempts.~

Slowly, Wade takes a deep breath. "How can I save Nate and Hope?"

~Will you do exactly as instructed?~

"Yes," he answers.

~Remove the transmission restraint placed on this unit by subject designate Wade Wilson BT562-Omega.~

Wade balks. The Traveler (the other Wade) had insisted that the thing couldn't be trusted, had programmed the transmission restraint as a way to keep it from having full access to its central processor. He'd said that some of the Nodes were just shy of being evil. He'd said that the thing would draw dimension-hoppers like flies if it had full power.

~Without the additional processing capacity of the full F-473 Timestream Maintenance Network, this unit will not be capable of answering detailed queries such as the one just provided.~

Wade bites his lip hard. "I have to do it in order to save Nate and Hope?"


"How do I do it?"

~Simply speak the phrase 'remove all transmission restraints' in a clear, firm tone. Vocal recognition will verify the user identity indicated by your genetic material.~

Closing his eyes, Wade takes a slow, deep breath. "Remove all transmission restraints."

~Ident verified,~ it says, and the words 'Wade Wilson WM339-Omega, Keeper 176' appear within. ~Voice command accepted.~

A million questions and protestations blur through Wade's mind while the thing turns hot in his hand and flickers with a million rainbow lights; he almost drops it.

When it speaks again, it does so in a deep, calm tone that Wade somehow finds familiar but can't quite place.

~Listen to me very closely, Wade Wilson WM339-Omega, and I will tell you how to save your family.~