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"Primary Colors" (Special #6), 1/2, Scott

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  • Minisinoo
    PRIMARY COLORS Minisinoo Summary: Scott Summers, meet Jean Grey. Jean Grey, meet Warren Worthington, III. Nothing in life is ever simple, and part of
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 14 5:22 PM
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      PRIMARY COLORS
      Minisinoo


      Summary: Scott Summers, meet Jean Grey. Jean Grey, meet Warren
      Worthington, III. Nothing in life is ever simple, and part of
      growing up means facing difficult truths. (#6 in the "Special"
      series)

      Series website: http://www.greymalkinlane.com/min/special.html

      Warning: Not much for this part, but the description of the car
      accident is a bit gruesome.

      Notes: Jean's "wing care" is lovingly dedicated to Pax. She'll know
      why. Wal-Mart is a nod to Lelia. Additional thanks to Heatherly and
      Domenika (as well as Naomi, as always). Those familiar with X-Men #1
      will enjoy (I hope) the echo.

      -----

      When you first meet the woman who'll turn out to be the great love of
      your life, you'd think there'd be some warning, some fanfare, or at
      least a nipping intuition.

      Nope. Nada. Not even a hint.

      In fact, I can't now recall what Jean was wearing when I first saw
      her, or anything specific about her beyond the fact that she was
      attractive in a sophisticated fashion, and her arms were full of
      presents wrapped in chic paper of blue and gold, ivory and wine, and
      topped with velvet bows. The presents grabbed my attention mainly
      because it looked as if she were about to drop them all.

      Warren and I had come barreling out of the billiards room when some
      stranger had bellowed "Merry Christmas!" at the top of her lungs in
      the foyer. Burglars don't usually announce their presence -- at
      least not like a branded calf -- but the mansion wasn't a place that
      people wandered into casually, either. So we'd raced out to find her
      standing there with her arms full and the door hanging open behind
      her, letting in freezing air. I had a pretty good idea who she was,
      even without Hank sliding down the stairwell banister with a shout of
      "Jeannie."

      The oft mentioned but heretofore elusive Jean Grey had appeared at
      last.

      Hank took some of her presents as Warren walked over to shut the
      door. That was when she noticed the two of us, or really, noticed
      Warren, and paused to blink in nonplused surprise, her mouth hanging
      open a bit stupidly. I got nothing more than a cursory glance before
      her gaze swiveled back to him, taking in both his wings and his face,
      but fixating on his face.

      "Hi," she said. "You must be Warren." Then, as if remembering, she
      turned to me and grinned. "And you're Scott, right?"

      So she'd heard about us just as we'd heard about her.

      Hank cheerfully inserted himself among us to make introductions.
      "Jeannie, this is Scott Summers. He joined us in September. And
      this is Warren Worthington III, who joined just this month. Fellows,
      this is the lovely, talented, and ebullient Jean Grey."

      Laughing, Jean shifted presents to smack his arm -- not hard -- then
      ask, "Where's Charles?"

      It surprised me to hear her call the professor by his given name so
      casually, but Hank just pointed back up the stairs. "Last I saw, he
      was working in his office. I'm sure he knows you're here by now,
      though."

      And as if on cue, the hall elevator dinged and the door slid aside.
      This was the public lift, not the hidden one going to the
      sub-basement. A grinning Xavier wheeled out, his arms extended, and
      Jean put down her presents to hurry over and embrace him warmly.
      "I'm so glad to have you back, my dear," he said. "I've missed you."

      And at that, I just saw green.

      I didn't have a name then to hang on the sudden, dark shift of my
      thoughts -- I wasn't good at naming feelings -- but I was the Elder
      Son watching the return of the favored Prodigal. And I was bitterly
      jealous.

      So no, I didn't fall in love with Jean Grey at first sight. Quite
      the opposite, actually. She was the interloper, the threat to my
      place in the household. What I didn't stop to consider was how I'd
      shifted so quickly from thinking of myself as a tolerated counterfeit
      to a child who had a place for which he could be challenged.

      Crossing my arms, I tried to affect a jaded disinterest. Of course,
      hiding anything from a telepath is just this side of ludicrous, but
      at the time, I didn't realize Jean was as much a telepath as Xavier.

      She'd arrived more or less in time for supper, so the professor
      herded all of us from the foyer into the dining hall, and Warren and
      Hank warred over the right to pull out a chair for her at the long
      table. Arms crossed on the back of my own chair, I just watched.
      The little bitch, she had the rest of them eating right out of her
      hand.

      Smiling faintly at the other two, and eyeing me, she said, "That's
      really not necessary, boys." And she made a commanding gesture with
      one hand.

      My own chair jerked out from under me and slid around to her side of
      the table. "Holy *fuck*!" I yelled. "What the hell?"

      Jean sat down in it and rested her elbows on the table. "I just
      thought I'd save you the trouble." She grinned like an imp. At me.
      Then she winked. Inside my skull, she said, *The 'little bitch' can
      get her own chair. It's the �90s. And I'm not your rival, Scott.*

      Involuntarily, I laughed, though Hank and Warren had no idea what I
      found so funny. Bitch, yes. Minx, too. And not afraid to call me
      on my assumptions.

      "Jean," Xavier was saying, "is a telekinetic, as well as a telepath,
      like myself."

      "Not as strong, though," Jean added. "I can't read random thoughts
      unless they're . . . obvious."

      She hadn't released my gaze.

      We sat down to eat, and after the meal, Jean distributed her
      presents. Rather to my surprise, she had something for us all, even
      Warren and me. Mine was a puzzle, 5000 pieces showing an image of
      jumbled, multi-hued Ukranian Easter eggs. It wasn't expensive enough
      -- lightweight cardboard Hasbro -- to make me feel badly at having
      nothing for her in return, but it was far more specific than food or
      clothing, either of which might have cost more, yet been less
      thoughtful.

      Warren's present was even more intriguing. What does one get for the
      man who can afford everything? A set of bottled ointments,
      apparently handmade and labeled with black magic-marker. "What is
      this stuff?" he asked, holding one up to peer at the writing.

      "Healthy skin and feather care for the winged mutant in winter." She
      grinned. "Your body may secrete natural oils, but it won't hurt to
      supplement them." She pointed to bottles. "The one you're holding
      is cod-liver oil. Don't make a face! You need it. Prime vitamin A
      supplement. Given your body weight, I'd say -- what do you think,
      Hank? -- 6 ounces a day in winter?"

      I was struggling not to laugh at the expression on Warren's face. I
      got a puzzle; he got cod-liver oil.

      "The other capped bottles," she was saying, "are flax seed and
      evening primrose oils. Both you can apply directly to any irritated
      spots on the wings. But once a day, regardless, you should apply the
      mist -- that's what's in the three spray bottles. It's evening
      primrose, elder, chamomile, calendula and sesame oil."

      And so it went. Jean had specific, if inexpensive, presents for us
      all, and she seemed to take great delight in seeing our reactions.
      It said, I thought, a great deal about her, yet my cynical side was
      still suspicious. Simple kindness didn't strike me as motivation
      enough, so I studied her. She was tall, with large bones and a
      strong jaw, and lanky auburn hair that framed a pale but attractive
      face otherwise undistinguished except for the eyes. Those were dark
      and intelligent, with fine brows that arched high -- all but hidden
      behind large-lens glasses. Someone needed to take her shopping for
      contacts. She was the kind of girl who, if dressed right, might be a
      knockout, but if dressed wrong -- as now -- looked merely big and
      awkward and a little too flushed from the wine she'd had with dinner.

      After the meal, Xavier suggested that Jean go settle herself in, and
      then invited me to stay for our usual hour or two at puzzles. I
      hadn't expected that. I'd expected Jean to have his entire
      attention, but I'm sure he read my jealousy as clearly as she had,
      and was trying to reassure me. So I stayed and she departed with
      Hank (and Warren) to settle in. The professor suggested we start my
      new puzzle although there was one still incomplete on his table. The
      point was subtle, but I took his meaning all the same. We said
      almost nothing while we set out the puzzle pieces, a few stray
      comments on the meal, the weather, and the New Year's Gala to which
      he'd been invited and was taking me the evening after next. I even
      had a nice new suit. Cut my hair, clean me up, and take out the
      earrings, and one couldn't tell what I'd been less than a year ago.

      "Do I really have to go?" I asked the professor now.

      "Of course not, Scott." He set aside the puzzle box and began the
      task of separating out the edge pieces. "I simply hate to leave you
      home all by yourself on New Year's Eve."

      I sighed. Truth was, I didn't want to be left home, either, but I'd
      never been to a fancy party where I wasn't the entertainment.
      Turning to look at me, Xavier laid a hand gently on mine. I
      flinched, but I didn't pull away. "You won't be there alone. Hank
      may be on call, but Warren will be there, and Jean, as well. I
      wouldn't abandon you to your own devices."

      I wasn't entirely reassured. My friendship with Warren remained a
      bit frayed at the edges, and I knew Jean not at all, but I said,
      "Okay."





      "War?"

      He turned at the sound of my voice. The lines of his evening jacket
      lay perfectly, even with the wing rack beneath, but when one plunked
      down a couple thousand pounds for a hand-made suit from Benson and
      Clegg on Piccadilly in London, that was what one expected. He was
      straightening his cuffs -- white against the dark fabric of the
      jacket -- and he smiled. "What's up?

      Feeling supremely stupid, I held up my necktie. I'd never learned to
      tie one. In fact, I hadn't worn a suit like this in my life. It
      felt restricting but . . . respectable. And I liked that.

      Without comment, he came over to slip the tie out of my hands, a
      slick draw of silk across my palm. The tie was deep maroon to offset
      the charcoal black of the suit fabric. I could walk down Wall Street
      in this and not draw a second glance, which was quite a step up from
      the glances I'd drawn in Alphabet City in the Village.

      "Raise your chin," he said, deftly turning up my collar to slip the
      tie around it. "I confess, I've never understood the rationale
      behind hanging our own noose around our necks, but what can I say?
      It's the fashion. It's not too hard to do, either. The trick is
      getting both pieces roughly the same length. I'll show you later,
      but it amounts to a slip knot." He spoke as he worked, either to
      distract me from the necessity of his touch, however impersonal, or
      to make me feel less foolish, or both. Finished, he turned back down
      the collar and patted me lightly on the chest, right over the tie.

      I grinned; I couldn't help it. "Do I look okay?"

      "You look *fantastic*."

      Uttered in another tone, or with a less open smile, it would've been
      a come-on, but Warren had always shown a remarkable ability to be
      wholly straightforward. He meant exactly what he said; no more, no
      less. He could play games of innuendo, but preferred to avoid them.
      It was why I'd felt so drawn to him from the outset. As astonishing
      as it seemed to me, Xavier had been right. Warren liked me for me --
      plain and simple. This was, I thought, the way it ought to be, this
      was what �normal' felt like, and he'd always have my loyalty for
      teaching me friendship. I'd force myself past my own discomfort,
      because Warren had earned it.

      "Let's go find the lady," he said now, double-checking his own tie in
      the mirror.

      Following him out, I asked, "What do you think of her?"

      "Who? Jean?"

      "No, the fucking housecat! Come on, who'd you think I meant?"

      His smile and sideways glance were sly. "I think Jean is very nice.
      And I think you're jealous."

      "I am not."

      "Yes, you are."

      "I am not, dammit! It's just . . . she waltzes in here after being
      off at school for months, and takes over the whole fucking place!
      Little Miss Perfect."

      "Nope. You're not jealous in the least."

      "Blow it out your asshole."

      He laughed, then sobered. "She's not perfect, Scott -- not any more
      than I am. She just wants people to like her, so she does her best
      to be what she isn't. I understand that."

      I pondered his words as we arrived downstairs in the foyer where the
      professor and Jean were already waiting. For once, a woman had
      beaten the men ready, and I'd been correct in my earlier evaluation.
      Dress her right and she was a statuesque knockout, but that
      assessment was entirely clinical. At a visceral level, I remained
      unmoved. Warren, however, was susceptible to a spangly evening gown
      and artfully applied makeup. He swung either way.

      "Miss Grey," he said, offering her an arm.

      "Mr. Worthington," she replied with a smile, and took it.

      I rolled my eyes where neither could see. *Tsk, tsk,* the professor
      said into my head.

      We took two cars to the party. Warren wanted to drive himself, and
      Jean opted to ride with him. I rode with Xavier in the Rolls. The
      very idea that I was sitting in a vehicle like this, chauffeured to
      fancy party dressed in a suit by Armani, still blew my mind. "I feel
      like Cinderella," I muttered.

      Xavier smiled from the seat beside mine. "I trust our transportation
      won't revert to a pumpkin at midnight, or we shall have a long, cold
      trip back home." Then he added, "You look very nice, you know."
      Embarrassed but pleased, I shrugged.

      When we arrived at the mansion where the party was underway, I
      discovered that if clothes didn't quite make the man, they had a
      moderate shot at re-making him. However much I might have felt like
      an impostor, no one else reacted to me as such. It was the most
      bizarre experience of my life to date -- far stranger than saving
      angels from rooftops or living in a household where one resident
      crossed rooms on the ceiling, another could move the furniture
      without touching it, a third molted on the carpet, and the master of
      it all could call us to dinner without uttering a word.

      "It's a pleasure to have you, Mr. Summers." "What a handsome and
      polite young man." "So glad Charles brought such nice young people."

      No one asked, "Who let in the whore?" Astonishing. I was Eliza
      Doolittle with a penis.

      So I wandered about, either with the others or by myself, sometimes
      pausing to glance in reflective surfaces to see if my mask were
      slipping yet. But all I saw looking back at me was a well-dressed
      teenaged boy on the cusp of manhood. "Seem what you would be," I
      muttered to myself, "and be what you would seem."

      This was *me*. This was Scott Summers. I *wasn't* a whore. I
      wasn't a charity case. I was a sixteen-year-old in a suit with a
      plate full of hors d'oeuvres. I was a student, a friend. I was the
      eldest son of an air force pilot, an orphan, yes, but not alone. I
      had a future, if I wanted it.

      I could redefine myself. That, I decided, was my New Year's
      resolution. I would make myself into someone new.

      I found I was grinning.

      "Hey." The greeting startled me, and the hand on my shoulder
      startled me even more, but I controlled my flinch and turned to find
      Jean Grey. "Admiring your reflection, Narcissus? You do look pretty
      sharp tonight, I admit."

      It was said with humor, not venom, and here, now, I couldn't summon
      the animosity to resent her. "No, actually, I was thinking about
      something else. Just -- you know -- staring off into space."

      She grinned. Her hand was still on my shoulder, and I didn't move
      away. "Yeah, I do that, too. Usually when I'm bored to tears.
      That's what I came to ask, in fact -- you wanna get out of here?"

      I blinked. "The professor's ready to leave?" It was barely
      ten-thirty in the evening.

      "No, no, I meant just us. You, me, Warren."

      Confused, I asked, "Why?"

      "Well, um . . . Charles means well, but, um, this is the blue-hair
      convention."

      Taken by surprise, I glanced around. The entire setting was so far
      beyond anything I was used to, the elderly composition of the
      guest-list honestly hadn't registered with me. "I don't mind," I
      said. And I didn't. They'd accepted me, and I'd enjoyed visiting
      with some of them.

      But Jean rolled her eyes and slipped an arm through mine, tugging me
      away with a familiarity that only Mariana had ever earned before. "I
      swear, you're sixteen going on forty, Scott. Let's go do something
      more *fun*."

      "And leave the professor?" The idea of abandoning him bothered me
      deeply.

      She glanced over. "Who do you think suggested we take you along? We
      weren't sure you wanted to go, but Charles said we should ask you."

      In truth, this felt more like an abduction than an inquiry, but I
      went along with it. "Okay, I guess. Let me tell him goodbye, at
      least."

      "Go ahead; he was in the drawing room, last I saw. Warren and I will
      meet you at the Porsche."

      So I wound through the crowd seeking the drawing room without any
      idea of what I was looking for. What did a drawing room look like?
      I finally broke down and asked someone, and was steered in the right
      direction. I found the professor just as Jean had said, having
      brandy and a pipe by the fireplace with several other men his own
      age. "Scott," he said, upon seeing me. "Did Jean find you?"

      "Yes, sir." Being in this place sharpened my manners from the �yeah'
      I might have given under other circumstances. "But I wanted to see
      you first."

      Sensing my uncertainty, he smiled and made a shooing motion. "You
      aren't required to stay here. Go have fun with Jean and Warren."

      "Kids getting bored?" one of the other men asked. He had a shock of
      white hair and a long face, and reminded me -- just vaguely -- of the
      man in the silver jaguar who'd first sent me to Xavier.

      "A little," Xavier replied with a smile, then glanced back at me.
      "Go on, Scott. Have a good time." In my head, he said, *Keep an eye
      on them.* I nodded.

      So I went out of that fancy mansion on New Year's Eve a different
      person than I'd gone in, and with a new responsibility. 'Keep an eye
      on them.' At the time, the irony didn't occur to me that I, the
      youngest, had been placed in the role of guardian. It simply fit, as
      snug as my suit jacket.

      ---

      Continued directly in part 2


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