I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth.
The metal was cold and bitter to the taste.
Yeah, I know. "Poor little rich boy," right? Warren Kenneth Worthington the Third, heir to a vast fortune, blessed with a devastatingly handsome face. Women love me, or they love my checkbook, I can never tell. Men--resent me.
If they only knew.
But *this* particular bout of angst isn't about the wings that sprouted from my back when I was 13 years old. Maybe being a mutant changed my life's path, but since I was probably on a road to being one of the hedonistic, idle rich anyway, it wasn't much of a loss. Being an X-Man gave me purpose, for a while. And a Champion. And a Defender. And--
Well, you know. Anywhere to belong.
The truth is, I really want to belong to some*one.* Some*ones,* rather. Ungrammatical as that is. I've always wanted....
I wanted them both, you see.
It wasn't all about Jeannie. That was just easier for everyone to understand. Way back in the beginning I flirted with Jean and she flirted back even as her eyes tracked around the room to fall on Scott.
Jean was, even then, the life and heart of the team, the...family we original X-Men became. She was and is beautiful inside and out. Warm, passionate, loving--
Everything I fear I'm lacking, so is it any wonder that I wanted to lose myself in her?
As for Scott...
So serious. So determined. Scott has amazing focus and compassion and sense of *right.* He's not just a leader because he understands battle tactics; Scott is always there, utterly dependable--and that's in no way a euphemism for "boring," not with him.
I wanted to find shelter in that strength, too.
But from the beginning Jean and Scott were meant to be together. Oh, I played the jealous suitor and sulked a bit for appearances' sake, but I wasn't really angry; how could I be? They were everything to each other, everything they needed.
I didn't resent them for that. It'd be like resenting a force of nature. Water is wet; snow is cold; Scott loves Jean and Jean loves Scott. Meant to be, world without end, amen.
Scott doubts nothing about his love for her. Jean is surety itself where her heart's concerned.
I doubt everything, especially myself.
But really, what's to complain about? I have money and good looks and a benevolent blessing of a mutation. I've had lovers and friends and even on occasion the satisfaction of having done something to make a better world.
I'd give it all, every bit of it, for a night or even a moment in their arms. Everything else pales in the light of that longing. Selfish as well as spoiled, that's true too.
I once heard that a triangle is the most stable of all the geometric shapes. Or maybe I just *believe* I heard that to justify my own longings. I can't imagine what I'd have to offer them that they don't already share.
It's nearly enough to know they're happy in each other. Almost. Most of the time. I have that, at least; knowing that these two whom I love are themselves content. It's a strangely comforting thought, unselfish even--perhaps there's hope for me yet.
But sometimes I think of triangles, and wonder.
He's watching us again.
Oh, Warren. You don't hide nearly as well as you believe you do. And to a telepath--it's even more clear.
Not that I ever deliberately read his mind, of course. But working together sometimes we need to link to coordinate strategy and send messages, and things...leak.
There's a surge of--such longing, such desire, when I link to Warren, it catches me every time. It's so pure. And it's not just for me. Those eagle eyes, half-lidded, watch Scott with just as much intensity.
It's almost mythical, the way he sees us. My Guinevere to Scott's Arthur, leading the world's mutants to the Professor's dreamt-of Camelot. The problem is, that casts Warren as Lancelot: the outsider knight, the tempter, the interloper. The one who steals away the queen and sends the shining dream crashing down.
Except there's no "stealing" going on here, and Warren isn't the outsider. He's already as much a part of this as any of us. The problem is, he thinks the gifts he was born with--his looks, his money, even his beautiful wings--are all that he has. He thinks it's all a façade and there's nothing real underneath.
It's not at all true. Warren never *had* to come to the X-Men, unlike the rest of us, and he never had to stay. He could have hid his wings and played the hedonistic young executive all his life. He *chose* to be one of us, risk his life to see a little justice done. It's a certain kind of nobility that rests deep in him. But try to tell him that and he passes it off as noblesse oblige; an obligation of his wealth and beauty, rather than something he does because he's driven to it by the truest sense of what should be right. What the world should be. Despite his protestations, I see the passion that drives him.
I've seen his deepest fantasy, too.
We're together, the three of us, and I'm looking up into those beautiful eyes as he sinks into me, he's whispering my name, Scott is behind him warm against Warren's back and he feels--he feels *possessed.* Owned. We surround him, filling what he thinks are the empty places in his heart, all three loving and loved.
I've "heard" him wake with our names on his lips, sweating and aroused, and I've woken with him in the same state. And I turn to Scott instead of going to Warren, because I wouldn't hurt Scott for anything. But all that desire isn't one-sided. Warren shines like his namesake.
I wasn't sure if I should say anything to Scott, but as things go...we were looking at some of the old school photos and found one of Warren, bare-chested and wings spread to catch the sun. And without thinking I said, "He loves you, you know."
Scott didn't say anything for a few seconds, and then he said, "I know."
Sometimes it's hard to know what he's thinking. *Even* for a telepath. Now that I'd mentioned it, I didn't want to get this wrong. "I mean, more than just friends, or X-Men."
He turned to look at me. "...Did he say something to you?"
"No, never." Never in words, anyway.
Scott just nodded slowly, and I could see the wheels turning in his head. I didn't intrude--sometimes the trickiest part of being mentally linked with someone is knowing when *not* to read his mind. Finally he said quietly, "Both of us."
"Uh-huh. Almost from the beginning, Scott."
He shook his head bemusedly and I caught his embarrassment, and maybe a touch of--curiosity? Or maybe that was from me, projecting. Then he kissed me and turned the page, and that was that.
But ever since then I've seen him watching Warren a little more closely, and I wonder.
I never hated him.
What Warren never understood is that I *envied* him, his beauty and easy smile and casual ways. I was jealous, terribly jealous, because I was sure Jean would choose him. He was so bright, handsome and wealthy and charming, what did a skinny, too-serious kid who couldn't even *look* at her properly have to compete with that?
I won't repeat what Jean says, in answer to that. It makes me blush.
She's the center of my world and...I don't know, some kind of dream in his. Both of us would die for her, without question. We've always known it. For that, if for nothing else, I could love him.
But it's not as if I didn't, anyway. Jean and Warren and Hank and Bobby--those four and the Professor became all the family I needed, after the orphanage. Charles stood for the father I barely remembered, Hank as the best friend I could ever ask for, Bobby as *everyone's* younger brother, full of laughter.
And Jean--to say I love her doesn't even begin to explain it. There isn't a moment I don't thank God for the pattern of my life that brought me to her.
Warren and I didn't get along at first. I was jealous of his gifts. It took me years to understand that he was jealous of mine. Warren seemingly had everything. I seemingly had nothing. But I was the one who lead the team, who won the Professor's praise and Jean's heart.
After awhile he was even gracious about it. He gave us his best wishes, sent us out to expensive restaurants, let us borrow a cabin his parents had in the country.
It's only now that I realize it was his way of...being a part of us, staying involved with Jean and I. Living vicariously. Who would ever have thought? Warren had more girlfriends than I could count, a parade of young women who paid proper homage to his looks and charm.
I had *no* idea--
Hm. That's not quite true. I didn't *let* myself have any idea. I probably did understand, even before Jean brought it into the open, that when his eyes followed me it wasn't all about jealousy. I just couldn't acknowledge it.
I'm still not sure what to do with it. "Nothing" is the easy answer. I never *have* to mention it aloud. Warren will never say a word and Jean's already silently said her piece in the emotions I feel from her when she sees him.
Jean loves him; not in the same way she loves me, but she does. And oddly--I can't find it in myself to be jealous of that anymore. Jean *is* love. I'm only lucky enough to be first among...well, if not equals, then among all those who have a place in her heart. Everyone she knows is a little bit in love with her, one way or another, and she loves them back. I can't be jealous of a spirit that generous. Warren's just one step closer than the rest.
So I know she'd...love him, and gladly, and I'm still trying to work out how I feel about that. I can't deny her anything, which is why she'd never ask. But we've laughed before about the male fascination with two women, which she counters with the "one sweaty man good, two sweaty men better" argument, and I *know* she's wondered about Warren....
And I think I'm starting to wonder too.