"Primary Colors" (Special #6), 1/2, Scott
- PRIMARY COLORS
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 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
The oft mentioned but heretofore elusive Jean Grey had appeared at
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,
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
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
Smiling faintly at the other two, and eyeing me, she said, "That's
really not necessary, boys." And she made a commanding gesture with
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,
"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
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,
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
Following him out, I asked, "What do you think of her?"
"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
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
"And leave the professor?" The idea of abandoning him bothered me
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
"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
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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