Title: Phantom Pain
Author: Andariel (andariell@...
Summary: So what happened with Warren and Jean after Scott found her living in
the penthouse? Begins concurrent with and ends slightly after Min's "Trying"
Codes: Warren, Jean, AU
Rating: PG-13 (on the plus side for bad language)
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I do have much fun playing with them.
Archive: Lists, jenn's Indulgence, Muse's Fool.
A/N: This has been niggling me for a while, and I finally finished it. Not
earth shattering, but necessary (at least to me).
Thanks to: Min for dropping a little something in "Trying" that made me *need*
to write this. That fic was... <sighs> I have no words to describe how much I
loved it. Also to jenn, who thought I got Warren right, which was a great
relief -- Thanks for the preview, chica!
Feedback: Would go well with my hot chocolate and cake. <g>
Warren watched Jean pace the floor while he tried to determine what to say to
her. She was biting down on her thumbnail as she walked, apparently too deep in
her own thoughts to share them with him. She'd been in constant motion ever
since Scott had walked out the door. Either pacing as she was now, or sitting
in a chair fidgeting -- tapping her foot, sipping her wine, thrumming her
fingers on the glass she held as if it were a talisman that could resolve the
chaotic mix of thoughts in her mind.
Warren suppressed a sigh and rubbed at the taut muscles in his neck. He'd been
in the same place on the couch during her entire frenzy of motion. Where she
dealt with the tension through the physical expression of it, Warren had
internalized his and remained stationary. He wondered if she had any idea how
like Scott she was in that need to do something, anything really, when her
emotions ran high.
Realizing that watching her pace was putting him even more on edge, his eyes
slid to the dining room table. The formerly appetizing Lobster Newburg and
asparagus tips almandine that he'd had catered now lay gathering dust motes and
becoming an inedible mess. Neither of them had felt like eating after that
scene with Scott.
Bloody fucking hell. That *look* on Scott's face. His expression and body
language had said more than he did. Warren knew that he'd wanted to believe
them when they had explained the situation to him. But Warren didn't need to be
a telepath to read Scott's lack of faith as plain as day, because he knew the
signs intimately -- the stiff posture, the little tick in his jaw muscle, the
hands clasped tightly behind his back. Scott had tried to accept that they
weren't doing anything more than sharing a roof, but some part of him didn't.
And damn him if *that* wasn't irritating as all hell. Warren was used to not
being believed at times -- he had enough a sense of himself to realize that it
wasn't wholly undeserved, considering his propensity for bending the truth when
it suited his purposes. But to be doubted when he was telling the truth, by
Scott of all people, who knew better than anyone how to determine when Warren
was fabricating a story for show... well, that was enough to give him a bit of
self righteous anger.
They hadn't *done* anything -- well, nothing outside that brief but unbelievably
stirring kiss in the shelter. Warren shifted remembering it. The soft lips
that had trembled against his, clinging for the most fleeting of moments before
they both backed away. Such an innocuous kiss shouldn't have left such an
impression, but it had.
Giving himself an internal shake, Warren glanced over at her again. Still
pacing, still rhythmically clamping her teeth down on her nail. He'd tried to
talk to her several times but had received nothing more than one word responses,
if anything at all. A flare of irritation at his absent best friend hit him.
Christ, Scott. Finally had her relatively calm and you had to show up.
Appropriate timing was never your strong suit, pal.
That thought brought on the musing of what *would* have been appropriate timing.
After he'd had a chance to tell Scott that Jean was staying with him
temporarily? Certainly would have been better than what *had* happened -- Scott
showing up to ask for his help in locating Jean only to see her walking out of
the wine locker with a nice bottle of German Trocken Riesling in her hand.
Innocent they were, but Warren had felt like he'd been caught at something, like
a kid with his hand in the cookie jar.
Now, the "cookie" was drinking down an expensive bottle of wine like it was
water, and he was trying to figure out why he'd felt so damned guilty when he'd
done precious little to earn the emotion. Scott Summers and Charlie Xavier were
members of the elite few who were capable of raising self-censure in Warren. A
fact he was none too pleased about at the moment, but he had to wonder if that
misplaced shame had somehow been apparent, and if that may have been the cause
of Scott's presumption.
Chicken -- egg. Egg -- chicken. Quit analyzing, Worthington. Do something
about the redhead before she bolts again.
Warren flexed his wings slightly as he leaned forward to rest his elbows on his
knees. "That's a rather nice rug you're wearing a path into."
Jean pulled her hand from her mouth and looked over at him, then down at the
hand-woven Aubusson under her feet. She walked around the sofa and resumed
pacing on the hardwood floor, started worrying her thumbnail again after
muttering "Sorry," in a distracted tone.
Warren sighed as he pressed to his feet and crossed to the dining table. "A
telepath should be able to tell when a person is joking, don't you think?"
Jean stopped pacing and glanced over at him mutely for a second, then laughed
when she picked up the dry humor in his tone. "I suppose you're right. But it
is a lovely carpet. No need to abuse it."
Warren smiled sardonically as he retrieved the abandoned plates from the table.
"Believe me, that rug has taken more offensive abuse than your size eights could
dish out." With plates in hand, he turned toward the kitchen, making a head
gesture in the direction of the floor. "If you look closely enough, you can
still make out a faint Merlot colored stain, courtesy of one of Candy's fits."
Warren heard her speak as he reached the sink with the laden plates. "And Candy
Warren chuckled as he scraped the congealed seafood and asparagus formerly known
as a gourmet meal off the plates and into the garbage disposal. "That's right.
You haven't met her, have you?" He let the water run and flipped a switch on
the wall. The machinery churned quietly for a minute before he turned it off
and faced her again, leaning his hips against the edge of the counter. "Candace
Southern. Heiress, spoiled rotten, quick to temper and slow to apologize.
We're ... involved. On and off."
She tilted her head curiously at him. "Really? Which is it currently?"
Warren turned and rinsed the plates while he considered the question. The pause
wasn't for effect -- he seriously needed to think so he could recall how they'd
left things. He closed the water tap and placed the dishes in the drainer,
turning to walk back toward Jean. "As I recall, it was off. She called me, and
I quote, 'a hedonistic pig who wouldn't know good breeding if it walked up and
slapped me in the face'. Then she slapped me and stormed out."
A surprised giggle burst out of Jean. "She sounds like a handful."
Warren chuckled himself, glad to see she was distracted, at least for the time
being. "All relationships are a mine field. Candy is my personal version of
TNT, that's all."
The quick smile faded as she said, "He didn't believe us."
Damn it... He'd been hoping for a little more relaxation on her part before they
tackled the Scott issue, but here it was, and it needed to be dealt with. He
nodded. "Picked that up myself."
A little furrow formed between her brows, and Warren wasn't sure if that meant
she was angry or confused. "If he's the one who's wrong, then why do I feel
"Scott has mastered the art of inspiring guilt. He uses it to magnificent
effect with the students. Half the time they confess to things he doesn't even
know about because they *think* he knows." He reached out and tentatively
placed a hand on her upper arm. She didn't flinch away, which he had to take as
a good sign.
She looked up at him, tired resignation in her eyes. "But *why* didn't he
believe us? It seemed like something in him actually wanted to think we were
Warren took a moment to consider that. Interesting that she'd picked that up
from Scott, or was it merely an assumption on her part? Either case... "I
wouldn't worry about it. Scott's just wound a bit tighter than usual." And
wasn't *that* a frightening concept, in and of itself?
Jean sighed. "Because of me. I know I'm partly to blame for his being upset,
but he had no right to take it out on you too, Warren. I may not be entitled to
expect his trust, but you are. You're teammates. For Christ's sake, you're
best friends. Why won't he believe you, if he can't believe me?"
To give a completely honest answer to that question would be to make things
harder on her, so Warren evaded. "It's a long story. Water under the bridge
and all that. Scott just... he needs some time to sort things out in his head.
He'll realize the truth."
Warren watched her glance down and away from his eyes, taking a long sip from
her wine glass. Then she slowly trailed a look up his chest, stopping at his
mouth, up to meet his gaze again, something unreadable in the light brown
depths. "Or... we could make his lie the truth. May as well burn for a witch
instead of for a saint."
Warren didn't move, frozen with surprise at the frankly sexual glance she was
directing at him. "What?" Oh, how very smooth, Worthington. She'll be jumping
into your arms any second, helpless to resist your razor sharp wit.
The moment broken, she stepped back from him, shaking her head bemusedly. "I
don't know what I'm doing. Fuck... I'm behaving like the prototypical scorned
woman, and considering the circumstances, that's pretty damned amusing." She
laughed, but there was no humor in it. "How can I be scorned by a man who I
have no claim to? Ridiculous..."
Warren took a step forward, stopping when she moved back to keep the distance
between them. Fucking hell. He'd botched this amazingly well, hadn't he?
"Jean, it's okay. I-"
"No," she interrupted forcefully, firmly shaking her head. "I need to get my
head on straight before I do anything else to... I'm going up on the roof for a
Warren realized she was right to back away, for her sake if not his, but that
didn't prevent him from regretting the way he'd handled the situation. He
almost offered to go up with her, but she seemed to want to be alone. He
watched her cross to the door to grab her jacket. When her hand was on the
doorknob, he said, "Keep back from the ledge. That first step is a big one."
She turned a glance at him over her shoulder, adding a quick, sad smile.
"You're not going to need to come swooping down after me, I promise. I'm not
suicidal, I just... need some fresh air."
When the door closed behind her, Warren fetched his own full wine glass from the
dining table and swallowed the contents in quick succession. He held up the
empty goblet, watching the light shine off a few stray droplets clinging to the
crystal and thinking about the telepathic doctor seeking solace on the roof.
Playing surrogate for his hardheaded best friend in her bed shouldn't be
appealing. And on one hand, it wasn't, but on the other...
"Fucking hell," echoed in the empty room.
Jean pushed open the access door and stalked across the roof of the building.
God damn it! What was wrong with her?
"Scott Summers is what's wrong with you," she muttered angrily, kicking an empty
soda can someone had abandoned. It didn't help relieve her frustration.
Staring at it fixedly, she levitated it in the air, then closed a mental fist
around it, smiling with grim satisfaction when it crumbled under the force of
She'd always been able to control her telekinesis ability, so why was the
telepathy so hard to master? She'd manifested the TK when she was a teenager
and had instinctively known how to direct the power. Jean supposed that she
must have lost some flexibility of mind and ease of learning with age.
She paced along the rooftop, not noticing the lights of the city around her or
the stars in the clear night sky. Her mind turned back to what had brought her
to the roof in the first place, and she ground her teeth. "Why do I give a good
damn what Scott does or thinks? I haven't even *kissed* the man and I feel
territorial..." She stopped pacing, throwing her hands out and staring up at
the sky. "What the hell do you want from me, Scott?"
Suddenly realizing what she was doing, Jean dropped her hands and laughed.
"Great... now he's got me talking to myself. That Thorazine may not be a bad
idea after all. I could use a nice padded room to bounce off for a while."
She glanced around the roof and saw the shadowed outline of a deck chair. She
made her way over to it and sat down, kicking the heels of her shoes against the
resilient plastic. Leaning her head against the padded headrest sewn inside the
back of the lounge, she looked up at the sky again. "I won't spend the rest of
my life pining away for someone I can't have. If Scott can give up on us... on
the chance for an us, then so can I."
Jean closed her eyes and focused on her mental relaxation exercises. She didn't
realize how exhausted the frustration had made her. Didn't even notice when she
drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
She twitched slightly, but didn't come fully awake.
Jean bolted upright on the chaise, heart pounding quickly in her chest, breath
heaving out of her lungs. She vaguely felt tears slipping down her cheeks, but
her thoughts were focused on one thing.
She had to get to him. Now.
She jumped up and raced back down to Warren's penthouse, glanced around for his
keys but didn't see them. Rushing down the hall to his room, she knocked
loudly, brushing tears off her cheeks while she waited impatiently.
Warren opened the door, tying the belt of a white silk robe and looking at her
with worry in his eyes. "Jean? What-"
"I need your keys, Warren. I have to go to the mansion immediately."
Warren walked out of the room and ushered her down the hall in front of him,
blinking and rubbing his eyes as they adjusted to the light. "You need to calm
down first. I'm not giving you the keys to a very fast car that you'll likely
wrap around a tree in your current state. What happened?"
Jean tried to keep her patience, but all that desperate sadness... it weighed on
her. She was near frantic with worry. "It's Scott. I need to get to him.
"Whoa there," Warren interrupted with calming patience. "I told you earlier,
he'll come around. Just give him some time and -"
Jean shook her head quickly. "No. It's not that. Something's very wrong with
him, right now. He called out to me. He *needs* me. He -" She noted the look
on Warren's face, which was painfully easy to interpret. She ran her hands
through her hair. "Oh God... You think I've lost what was left of my mind,
Warren shook his head. "No. I don't understand this... thing between you two,
but if you need to go to the school, I'll take you. You're not driving like
As Jean watched Warren turn and head for his bedroom to get dressed, something
inside her shifted. "No, Warren. Don't."
He kept walking. "I told you, I'm not letting you get behind the wheel-"
"No. I mean neither of us is going."
He turned around at that, looking confused, and she explained. "I... I think I
must have imagined it. Wishful thinking, wine, exhaustion... powerful combo to
make a weird dream seem real."
"You don't think it was real now?"
Jean walked over to the window, staring out at the city lights with unseeing
eyes. "It couldn't have been. Even if I have a particular mental sensitivity
to Scott, it doesn't make sense that I could feel anything from him here. My
telepathy isn't that strong or disciplined, and even the Professor needs Cerebro
to see over a distance as far as Salem Center to Manhattan, right?"
She glanced over her shoulder at Warren, who was leaning against the doorjamb
between the living room and the hallway. He shrugged. "To be honest, I don't
understand telepathy enough to give you an answer."
Jean turned her glance back out the window. "Regardless, if Scott needed help,
it wouldn't be from me. He has a fiancée to get back."
She shook her head to stop him, turning to lean back against the floor to
ceiling plexiglass that walled the penthouse. "Don't give me false assurances.
I saw it myself in his mind."
Jean's thoughts wandered briefly to that unguarded moment with Scott back in the
cabin. There had been so many things in his mind... about her, about Rogue,
about all the conflicting things he wanted. "No, but I doubt anything has
changed for him since then. He wants her back, Warren. He needs to get back
everything he lost when I came into his life. He wants that certainty... more
than he wants me."
Warren didn't answer, just stared at her with an unreadable expression. Unable
to bear looking at him anymore, she turned back to the window. "I was seven
years and one relationship too late to have a chance with him. I see that now,
but I can't help wondering if things could have been different if I'd been there
first. I even made up the scenario in my mind -- my telepathy activating
earlier, finding out about the Professor and the school, showing up at nineteen
and being there before she was..."
Jean shook her head and turned around again. "It could have turned out exactly
the same. Maybe I'm just kidding myself. Maybe he would have wanted me but
loved Marie no matter when or how I showed up."
Jean didn't know how it happened or which of them moved first. All she knew was
that she ended up cradled in Warren's arms, trying to cry away the mental
anguish that still felt as horribly real as it had the second it struck her on
Rationalizing it hadn't banished the specter of Scott's pain, but she hoped
crying her eyes out might.
~ End ~
The Insomniac Playground
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