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"Bethlehem" (3/3) Scott, Warren; movie/comic (Special #5) ADULT

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  • Minisinoo
    Continued DIRECTLY from part 2/3 ... Warren was nowhere to be seen when we got back. Maybe Xavier had sent him off somewhere on purpose, or maybe he d just
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 19, 2002
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      Continued DIRECTLY from part 2/3
      ----

      Warren was nowhere to be seen when we got back. Maybe Xavier had
      sent him off somewhere on purpose, or maybe he'd just disappeared on
      his own. In any case, and grateful for the reprieve, I retreated to
      my room to change, donning the blue pullover Mariana had given me.
      Comfort clothes. Then I wandered down to the kitchen to ransack the
      fridge. Hank had fed me at the hospital, but that had been hours ago
      -� late afternoon -� and I was hungry again. The cook was gone for
      the night. Xavier entered as I was eating at the little kitchen
      table, motoring over to join me. He didn't say anything, just looked
      at me. "What?" I asked, though I knew perfectly well what he wanted.

      "Warren?"

      Sighing, I put down the sandwich. "I don't know where he is. I
      haven't seen him." Of course, I also hadn't looked.

      Xavier's smile was wry and patient; the one he gave me when he still
      found me amusing, but was about to stop finding me so. "He's on the
      roof," he told me.

      "Oh. Gee, thanks."

      "You're welcome."

      "Can I finish my sandwich?"

      "Of course." And he motored out again. Sighing, I glanced down at
      the bread �- good healthy wheat at Hank's insistence -� but didn't
      pick it back up. I wasn't hungry now. Tension had lodged in my gut
      like dead dough, all the yeast killed, but the idea of simply
      throwing away food still bothered me. Taking it out back, I gave the
      ham to the cats and left the bread for the birds. Then I took off
      upstairs to grab a jacket and find Warren. No damn sense in putting
      it off.

      Hank had showed me a path onto the roof that even I could manage, out
      through an attic window that was near enough one of the pitched
      gables to scramble up and sit on the peak. Warren, of course, wasn't
      restricted by bipedal limitations. I didn't spot him immediately,
      then saw him perched on the cross gables dead at the middle of the
      mansion roof, like a shadow of some great, granite gargoyle. The
      night wind fluttered his wings. He'd stretched them out, maybe for
      balance, maybe just to relax the muscles. He must have seen me
      trying to scramble over the slate shingles towards him because he
      rose up in the air like Gabriel at the Annunciation, flying to where
      I was and landing as gracefully as he'd risen. "Sit down before you
      fall, idiot." And he helped me back to a secure perch on the gable
      near the attic window, then settled beside me, wings still half
      extended. They fanned me, lifting my hair lightly. My stomach spun
      and dipped, and I wasn't sure if that was for his proximity, or the
      altitude. In any case, we sat together in silence for a while; I
      couldn't meet his eyes. Somewhere far off, I could hear a truck
      honk. Now that I was up here, I had no idea what to say, and he
      didn't, either. Despite how unseasonably warm the day had been, it
      was cold at night, and I wrapped my jacket more tightly around
      myself, pulling my cigarettes out of a pocket to light one.

      "Care to share?" he asked, and I extended him the pack so he could
      take one, then handed over my lighter. He's a chipper, not a serious
      smoker, and never bought his own, just bummed them off me,
      complaining about the fact I smoked Camels when I could have imported
      French Gitanes. I told him if he wanted imports, he could buy them
      himself.

      When his cigarette was lit, he said, "What, exactly, did Cameron say
      to you?"

      I wondered how much the professor had told him. "How do you know
      that he said anything?"

      "Because I know that bitch. I wasn't thinking, or I wouldn't have
      stuck you with him." His smile was self-derogatory. "Bad
      Worthington."

      Shaking my head, I rolled the end of my cigarette carefully on slate
      to make a cone of ash. Very precise. "What did the professor tell
      you?"

      "Nothing, Scott. Or nothing about what happened. He said I should
      talk to you, but I didn't think you wanted to talk, so I came up
      here."

      I nodded, answering honestly, "I don't want to talk. But I guess we
      need to, if we're going to be living under the same roof."

      Though his face stayed cool, his wings had started to flutter. I
      understood now they were shaking in the same way a person's hand
      might, when nervous or afraid. I focused on the shaking wings, not
      his serene face. "Do you really like boys with blue eyes?"

      Dead silence for three beats, then, "I like blue eyes period, on boys
      or girls. I like pistachio ice cream, too, but I'll eat anything you
      give me as long as it's ice cream. It's not the flavor. It's the
      ice cream."

      "So you're what? *Omni*-sexual? You'll take anything for a lay?"

      He burst out laughing and swore vividly at the same time, then wiped
      his face with the hand holding the cigarette. The dim red glow
      reflected in wet tracks running down his face. Good God. He was
      crying. "I meant I'd like you no matter what color your eyes are.
      It's the you I like, not your eyes. Though I admit, they're pretty
      spectacular eyes."

      "Oh." The tears moved me as thoroughly as the shaking wings.
      Looking down at the slate between my thighs, I finished my cigarette
      and thought hard. Maybe the best thing was just to be honest and
      frank. I flicked the butt away like my inhibitions. "Warren, look,
      I don't �- "

      "You don't have to say anything. I know you're not."

      "Shut the fuck up and let me finish." I glared at him, but he stayed
      quiet. The wings were really shaking now. "And no, I'm not." I
      looked off across the dark shadow of forest. "But even if I were,
      the answer would still be 'no.' I don't want a relationship with
      anyone. It doesn't have to do with you, or whether you like cunt or
      dick or both." I don't know why I had to make it sound so crass, but
      I wanted it ugly. I could see his wings flinch. "I'm just not
      interested in that, and I wouldn't be even if you were a Gabrielle
      instead of a Gabriel."

      A long, long silence. Finally, he said, "So it doesn't bother you?"

      "Not like you mean." I half turned back, but kept my eyes lowered.
      "It's nothing religious or anything. I'm pretty much a lapsed
      Catholic. If you have a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend, it's cool
      -� as long as it's not me."

      He pondered that a while. I still didn't look at him. The cold was
      really starting to get to me and I'd begun shaking as well, a
      bone-deep tremor. I could hear my own teeth chatter. Abruptly his
      wings raised and arched forward, cocooning me in white without
      actually touching. It was surprisingly warm, and startled, I glanced
      up at him. His face was still, but not with the fragile,
      hold-onto-dignity stiffness that it had been earlier. He seemed . .
      . sad. "Thanks," I said, tipping my head sideways to indicate the
      wing windbreaker.

      "Any time."

      More silence. The wings insulated against more than the wind. They
      dimmed sound, made the night safe, and I couldn't resist. I had to
      ask. "Do you always give wing feathers to people you want to sleep
      with?"

      "No. Never. I only give them to friends."

      "But Cameron said �- "

      "Cameron used to be my friend, Scott. Then he was my lover. Now, he
      hates my guts."

      "Why?"

      He shrugged, and the wings shrugged with his shoulders. "His father
      worked for mine. He couldn't own me. I had wings and he didn't. I
      have money and he doesn't, or not as much. None of the above. All
      of the above. I don't know. I'm not sure people like Cam need a
      reason, or they have so many reasons, none of them count. I
      should've thought of it, when I asked him to keep you company, but I
      just honest-to-God didn't figure he'd try anything. Or that you'd
      take anything he said seriously."

      "Why wouldn't I? He didn't lie. I can tell a lie. Most of the
      time."

      "Oh, Cam doesn't lie. He's too good at twisting the truth. But I
      thought you knew me better."

      "Warren, I've known you all of a week."

      He cocked his head to regard me, sharply, like a bird of prey, and in
      that moment, he didn't look quite human. "You know me better after
      one week than most people know me after ten years. I tell you things
      I just don't tell."

      Astonished, I could only manage, "Why?"

      "Because I trust you."

      "Do you always make stupid-ass knee-jerk decisions like that?"

      "Not always."

      "I could rob you blind and you'd never catch me doing it."

      "Probably. But you wouldn't. I could leave my wallet on top of my
      dresser and you'd walk right past because it's not yours. You're
      honest to a fault, and you're proud. I can trust that."

      Oh, I was proud all right. Proud as a whore. He had no idea what
      I'd do to survive. Steal, con, sell my body . . . . I didn't have a
      shred of dignity that I could lay genuine claim to. The only reason
      I wouldn't steal from him now is because I didn't need to. "You have
      some really funny ideas about me, Warren."

      The won an unexpected grin. "I may have a few funny ideas, but I
      think the rest of them are pretty on-target. If I've learned nothing
      else about you in the last week, Summers, I've learned that you don't
      give yourself half enough credit."

      Instead of pleasing me, that just annoyed me. "What would you know,"
      I snarled back, "about the credit I give myself? You know *nothing*
      about me."

      Instantly, the wings flicked away and the sudden return of night wind
      was chilling �- his expression equally so. "Sometimes I don't get
      you. And the really sad thing is . . . I think you want it that
      way." We just glared at each other. "I may have told you things I
      don't tell, but you're right -� I know hardly anything about you.
      You hide it, don't trust anyone, just take and take. You're a damn
      clam. It's *selfish*. Friendship has to go both ways, Scott."

      Now, my shaking was from rage, not cold. "You have no right to judge
      me! You've had everything handed to you on a silver platter."

      "Oh, sure. Like being rich makes life okay."

      "Would you give it up?"

      He threw up his hands. "Some days -� yes! If it meant I could be
      normal. If it meant I didn't have to hide these damn things." The
      wings arched and beat for emphasis. "If I could have friends, a
      lover, a family. Sure. I'd be the son of a goddamn welder if it
      meant I had a father who gave a shit. I'd be anything at all *if it
      just freakin' meant people didn't hate me!*"

      The tears were back, but his wings were out and beating hard, half
      lifting him off his feet. He really did look like an avenging angel,
      and I knew, instinctively, that he was leveling with me. It was too
      plebeian and uncreative to be a lie.

      But I turned my head down. "I don't know how." I wanted to level
      with him in return, even as I didn't want to. Sitting on the roof
      gable with Warren beating the air right in front of me, scared by the
      sheer possibility of trust, I pulled up my knees and wrapped my arms
      around them, burying my face against them. "*I don't know how!*" I
      screamed. "*I don't know how to be your friend!*"

      He settled back down and the wings stopped. He just held them out as
      he had before, for balance -� maybe emotional as much as literal. He
      talked with them as much as he talked with words. "Try," was all he
      said, then knelt down in front of me. "*Try.*"

      I raised my face. "It's hard. To trust. It's so damn hard." And
      that bared me even more than if I'd stripped naked for him. I'd been
      naked plenty.

      "I don't want to hurt you," he said.

      "You want to *fuck* me," I replied.

      He shook his head. "No. I might want to make love to you, if you
      were interested. But you're not." He shrugged, shoulder and wing.
      "Fine. I don't know why it scares you. And I can see that it does."
      He reached out to touch my hair, too fast for me to anticipate and
      control my reaction. I flinched. "Just like that scares you. I
      thought maybe it was a religious thing since you're Catholic �- but
      you said it's not, and I believe that. People recoil in disgust.
      They don't flinch like they think you're going to hit them." I could
      see the pieces snapping together in his head �- like one of my damn
      puzzles -� even as he was speaking. "Can you tell me what happened
      to you? So I can understand. I won't touch you, Scott. I won't
      ever touch you without your permission, unless it's an emergency or
      something. But please, tell me what happened. Why are you so scared
      to be touched?"

      I didn't even realize I was crying until I tasted the salt in my
      mouth. It was like my first day at the mansion when the professor
      had confided to me how to hide from him. This, I thought, was the
      measure of friendship. Giving up what one wanted for what the other
      needed. A desire to feel with, *be* with, move the gut -� not just
      with pity, but with solidarity in pain. Compassion with skin on.
      Who had taught him to do that?

      More, if he could reach beyond betrayals -� could I?

      ** How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given; so God
      imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven . . . We hear the
      Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide
      with us, our Lord Emmanuel. **

      A real, live angel. And it had nothing to do with the wings.

      So I trusted. I leapt off the roof of my fears, telling him the one
      thing for which I most expected to be rejected, and most needed to
      have accepted.

      "I was a hustler. Before I came here. I was a hustler on the
      street."

      He didn't reply immediately. I think shock had stolen his voice.
      He'd probably had suspicions of child abuse, incest, sexual assault,
      violent rape . . . but not the bold, bald, nasty fact that I'd made a
      living sucking cock and taking it up the ass. Nothing tragic about
      that -� no socially-titillating expos�. I was just your common,
      garden-variety catamite. In the face of that, he was silent. And
      into the silence, my nervous words tumbled out like a prayer,
      disjointed in desperation.

      "I ran away, from Boy's Town in Omaha. I hopped a bus to New York.
      My parents died when I was eight. Plane crash. My brother and I
      survived. He got adopted. I didn't. I was in a coma for a while.
      They put me in five foster homes after that."

      I stopped and just shook for a minute. "Some were okay." I stopped
      again. The wings had come back around me, white feathers hiding me,
      shielding me. "Some weren't. I stabbed a guy. I had to. I had to
      stab him. He kept . . . bothering her. He kept touching her. He
      shouldn't have touched her like that. She was only six. So I
      stabbed him. They told me he lived. But then they put me in Boy's
      Town. I was a troublemaker. Nobody wants a troublemaker.

      "Boy's Town is mostly an okay place. But one of the boys in our
      house �- he used to cut me. All five of us. He made us bleed, and
      promised to kill us if we told. It was stupid, but I believed him.
      So I didn't tell. I ran away, instead -� took a bus to New York. I
      played pool pretty well, but when you're little, it's not a good idea
      to run cons. You need muscle to con. I was fast instead. Sometimes
      I was fast enough to get away, sometimes I got caught." I stopped
      again and rubbed my nose, forgetting for a minute it was mucus, not
      blood. I stared at my hand, surprised to find it wasn't red. "Jack
      caught me one night. Told me he'd let me live if I worked for him.
      So I worked for him." I wiped off the dampness.

      "How -� " He choked. "How long?"

      "A year and a half, or really, a year and four months." One year,
      four months and thirteen days. "I had a john who knew about Xavier
      and he sent me here. The professor thinks I'm a mutant." I wiped my
      face again. "Funny mutant with no special powers."

      "Scott. Look at me." I obeyed. He had one hand held out. "I said
      I wouldn't touch you without your permission." He didn't move the
      hand, just held it there. "**I triumphed and I saddened with all
      weather / Heaven and I wept together / And its sweet tears were salt
      with mortal mine / Against the red throb of its sunset-heart / I laid
      my own to beat / And share commingling heat . . . And now my heart is
      as a broken fount / Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
      / From the dank thoughts that shiver / Upon the sighful branches of
      my mind / Such is, what is to be? / The pulp so bitter, how shall
      taste the rind? . . . Now of that long pursuit / Comes on at hand
      the bruit / That Voice is round me like a bursting sea . . . 'All
      which thy child's mistake / Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee
      at home / Rise, clasp My hand, and come !'**"

      "God," I muttered, "You're as bad as Hank."

      But slowly, I put my hand in his and our fingers clasped tightly. He
      smiled at me, a human man with angel wings. A star in December. A
      stable in Bethlehem.

      -----

      And that concludes the 'Warren's Arrival' arc in the SPECIAL series.
      The next story, "Primary Colors," begins the 'Meeting Jean' arc. I'm
      not sure when I'll get around to that. I might turn to LIVING IN THE
      BORDERLANDS or ACCIDENTAL INTERCEPTION for a while first. The nice
      thing about writing a series is that one can contribute to it a
      little at a time, as each of the stories do have a natural conclusion
      of their own. :-)

      Let me know what you thought. Feedback is always appreciated.

      --Min


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