Mutual Benefaction

a/n:Well... sigh I must say, when this was first proposed to me, I tried to scratch my own ears off...But then it started to make sense. I'm not a big crossover fan, but hey. This works - sorta. And it's amusing (well, it was amusing to write). Most credit goes to Malkin, who put this all together after we created and wrote it. For the links to the rest of the blogs, check out my profile.

Quick note- my Warren is NOT the young, American one of Ultimate comics and the new movie. He's a business man; much less wishy-washy than X3. And he ain't American. Technically this occurs after X2, but is sort of a movie/comic hybrid combined with my personal X-Men stuff, where Jean has come back from being Phoenix and all important characters are still alive. There's also more kids at the Mansion who weren't included in the movie (most of them are the teenagers of the Evolution series). In terms of Rent, this would probably be less than a year after Angel's death/the end of the musical (or movie). Also, we took slight artistic liberty in Mark working for Buzz Line again to pay the bills. That's it for technicalities! Enjoy!

------The Interview (Part One)------

Mark enters the office with trepidation. He's been let in by the secretary, an overly flamboyant man by the name of Jason. The office space itself is larger than he expected, but it could just be the decor. High ceilings, dusty blue walls off-set with high wooden panels, it looks like every fancy office he had ever seen on TV. Fidgeting slightly, Mark lingers near the door, unsure of what to do. Maybe he should set up...or maybe he should simply wait until Mr. Worthington finds it appropriate to grace him with his presence. Glancing at his watch, he sees that it's three minutes past their arranged meeting time.

He waits a few more minutes, shifting from foot to foot. The office isn't like Joanne's at Legal Aid, or any of the Executive Offices at Buzzline. It's a relatively small room with large windows, and a small desk, in front of which is a half-moon table, but it seems cleaner and starker. There are a few black and white photographs on the wall, but they seem to be there merely as a message. Obligatory Art. Mark wonders if Worthington even knew who took the pictures.

"Mr. Cohen?"

Enter Warren Worthington the Third: A tall young man, who looks like they wouldn't have to do any airbrushing to put him on a magazine cover. His hair is already perfectly in place, and with big, blue eyes, and high cheekbones, Mark finds himself jealous of the man's genetics. He's in a black, fitted suit with grey pinstripes and a pastel pink tie that belies something more than a snooty businessman. He stands stiffly, but his smile is one of genuine ease, as though his posture and his personality aren't quite in-sync.

"Mr. Cohen. Please take a seat," he says, his impeccable upbringing as one of Society's Elite comfortably displayed.

Mark extends a hand, still feeling very much out of his depth. "Mark," he corrects the young heir, not used to the formalities. "Look...I don't have much time to do this, so should we just get started?"

"Of course." Worthington replies, lip twitching towards a smile. Mark wants to ask what he finds so amusing, but refrains. It's probably the Boho filmmaker struggling with his over-sized camera bag in the middle of his office that Worthington's getting a giggle out of. Suddenly in a foul mood, Mark sets the camera on its tripod as Worthington takes a seat behind the desk.

"Ready?" he asks, fiddling with the many knobs on this newer brand of camera. He would much prefer working on his own 16mm, but Alexi has insisted that they look as professional as possible. Good impression first, she had reminded him.

Worthington nods and Mark takes this as his cue to start rolling. Warren was previously briefed by Alexi on the premise of the Interview, or at least he acts like he was, which is good enough for Mark. He puts on his filmmaker voice, speaking from behind the camera.

"The Dark Secret Behind Worthington Industries: Just What Is The Heir of the Worthington Fortunes Hiding?" He narrates. A look of displeasure registers on the Billionaire's face. Mark looks at him with a shrug, still a little on edge. "Hey, I don't write, I just film."

Worthington fixes him with a look. "Well, your film content is questionable," he says lightly, before adding, "both in validity and sanity."

Mark sighs; he does not need this right now. Not after the flack Collins had given him for taking this assignment in the first place. He just barely made it out of the apartment with all his limbs when Tom found out that Mark was going to film for one of the "big-bads" of America, as Collins called them. He turns off the camera. There's no use in wasting so much film.

"Look," he says, leveling his gaze with the man behind the desk. "I didn't ask to interview you. In fact, I don't really like interviewing people. I'm a documentarian."

"Well, I'm open to skipping it altogether." Worthington retorts coolly, and Mark's temper flares.

"I would be too." Mark tells him, "But I need the paycheck." Warren gives him a challenging look, something gleaming in the eyes that Mark is starting to think are too blue. Mark sighs. This is not the point. Alexi will have him taken out and killed in new and imaginative ways if he doesn't come back with something good.

"Look, don't you get interviewed all the time?" He asks, exasperated. Maybe he just needs to get the young heir warmed up.

Worthington looks at him again. "I've had a particularly bad week," he says, his tone clearly questioning his need to justify this, "and generally the content involves flattering my father's business, or giving hints of our future plans. My...personal life is not usually covered," he adds. Silently, Warren's glad Mark hadn't just leaned over the desk and asked for a check right there. Not enough people had the stature of morality to brush off the idea of money over film content.

Mark sighs once more, thinking longingly of quitting Buzzline again and working on his own films. "All you have say is "I have nothing to hide," he supplies, fiddling with the camera's focus.

Worthington concedes with a sigh. "Fair enough." He pauses, adjusting his suit jacket. Mark notices that he hadn't unbuttoned until now, and watches as he does so almost reluctantly, eyes dropping to his lap to hide a flinch before looking back at Mark with the same detached cool as before.

"Let's get this over with," Worthington sighs, and Mark turns the camera back on.

"Mr. Worthington, is it true that you've denied rumors that you're horribly deformed." Might as well get to the point, Mark thinks, looking up to see how horrified Worthington looks with the question.

No emotion registers on his interviewee's face.

"That's a rather harsh phrase, don't you think? I was born with a slight spine deformity, which the doctors warned my parents could lead to severe nervous system damage if it was not carefully monitored. I'm forced to wear braces to try and keep it in the back of my mind, but I assure you it has no immediate effects."

Mark is impressed, the answer is well rehearsed, but it's not what he's looking for. He turns the camera off once more and leans in over the camera. "Maybe we don't have a good understanding," he ventures. "I only have about a minute to get this point across."

"What point would that be?" Worthington shoots back.

"That you are or aren't horribly disfigured." Mark tells him. Frankly he's sick of skirting around the truth. He wants to finish this up and get out of here.

Worthington nods. He adjusts himself in his seat, ready to try again as Mark's pager goes off in his belt. Immediately Mark opens his mouth to scold the sound with a firm Take Your AZT, but then he remembers where he is. He pulls the beeper off his jeans and turns the sound off.

"Can I use your phone," he asks, embarrassed that he has yet to scrape the money together for a cell phone.

"Oh-- yes." Worthington replies, as if used to shedding formalities and what Mark has asked is not strange at all. He pulls the cell phone off his belt, moving a little slowly as he bend to the side to grab it, and tosses it to Mark. Mark grins sheepishly as he catches it and dials the loft.

Per usual, they're screening their calls and Mark is forced to leave a message, "Hey, Rog, It's me. You need to get up for Band Practice, and all three of you need to take your," he lowers voice so that Worthington can't overhear, "AZT." It's clear that no one there is willing to pick up, so he ends the call and hands the phone back to it's owner. Worthington raises an eyebrow at him, but says nothing.

Mark restarts the camera once more and hopes that it is the last time. "So, one more time. Mr. Worthington, is it true that you've denied rumors that you're horribly deformed."

This time Worthington gets it right. "Yes, it is." Mark sighs in relief and tries to remember what his next question was suppose to be. Having trouble recalling it, he decides to improvise. "Why did you deny these rumors initially?"

"I found them an unnecessarily cruel personal attack, that was completely irrelevant to every aspect of my work and my family's business."

Mark smiles slightly. The familiar tingle that accompanies a good interview floods his senses. "Has your mutation ever affected your work?"

Worthington pauses, looking just a little thrown. "Mutation?"

Mark corrects himself. "Deformity. Mutation sounds---catchier." This seems to satisfy Worthington and he recomposes himself quickly.

"Although I would hardly call a minor spinal defect a mutation, no, it has no immediate or prominent effects on my work, and I doubt it ever will." This line of questioning has obviously grown stale, so Mark switches paths.

"Is it true that you've become a social hermit in recent years because of it?"

"I've chosen to withdraw from most of the common social on-goings in the public eye because I find them frivolous and unimportant by comparison to my other obligations. Like my work." There's something almost angry in Worthington's stupidly blue eyes, but he keeps his cool.

Mark raises an eyebrow. "But I thought you were just a figurehead," he says, remembering all the articles on Worthington that had been strewn across the floor of the loft when the millionaire and his practices had flitted across Collin's radar.

"Mostly," Worthington confirms, "although lately I've been focusing much of my attention on trying to conduct research concerning the Mutant community, to find what type of market they present and what their social and political interests entail. My father likes to think that my family blood is finally starting to show."

But Mark isn't paying attention, he's more caught up on something that Worthington's just said, and interrupts him. "Mutant community...but didn't you just say--" Worthington cuts him off.

"That I have no mutation?" He smiles, and Mark thinks it looks enigmatic. "My interest is purely professional, and performed on the half of Worthington Industries. I took the matter into my own hands our of sheer personal interest." His smile fades quickly and he looks at Mark in a way that throws him off. "I don't think I need to explain the difference between a birth deformity and the inheritance of the Mutant gene?" Mark's not buying it.

"What does mutation have to do with your corporation?" Worthington's smile returns, in a politely corporate way. Mark's glad he's expressive, since he's barely moved since the camera started rolling, and doesn't seem to be the gesturing type.

"They pose a large potential market. Worthington Industries is always looking to potential customers and meeting their commercial needs." Rather than quenching Mark's curiosity, the answer ignites it.

"But haven't you stated on many occasions that Mutants deserve equal rights, and that they need no special treatment."

"Precisely. It's all the negative coverage their community is receiving from the media that needs some sort of counter- a positive voice and reaffirmation that despite their differences, they have virtually the same needs as anyone else. Hence the ultimate point of my research." Nothing Mark says seems to have thrown Worthington for a loop. It's starting to piss him off, so Mark tries harder. He wants to see Worthington squirm, and not just because Collins will love him forever if he does.

"But---why would you target mutants if you want to prove they have the same needs as regular mutants? By creating a special part of your marketing scheme you're separating them and portraying the message that it's all right to label them as those with different needs."

Worthington leans forward ever so slightly, well aware of the camera, and keeping his gaze perfectly to the side of it. Mark has to admit; he knows what he's doing.

"The study I'm performing is surveying the needs of the mutant community, in an overall attempt to provide solid evidence that they don't require 'special' or 'different' treatment, although they may be fighting harder than your average American for their equality. On the business side, if there do prove to be any marginal differences in their commercial needs, it can be utilized by my father's corporation." Mark smiles, satisfied that he's caught him.

"So really you're performing this study so you can find the one way being a mutant can profit you."

Anger briefly crosses Worthington's face.

"I'm really performing the study to find how we can benefit mutants," he says levelly.

"And in turn benefit yourself." Mark pushes.

"As the case may be. An unfortunate yet unavoidable aspect of being involved with the business world."

Mark is floored. Once again, Worthington has backed him into a corner, and he casts about for another question.

"Is it true that you dated Dr. Jean Grey, a known mutant, in the past?"

"Yes, when we were recently out of high school." Apparently this little tidbit doesn't count as an invasion of his privacy, or he's finally caught Worthington off-guard. Or it's already been let out.

"Did you know she was a mutant at the time?"

"I was aware of it, yes."

"So, is it safe to say that your study on the mutant community is being done because you still hold a flame for her?"

Again, Worthington looks displeased, and adjusts in his chair marginally, something like a wince ghosting across his features. Mark wonders if he's finally made him uncomfortable.

"Not at all. Dr. Grey and I remain good friends, but there is no romantic interest left," Warren finally replies confidently.

"Is it true you also dated her husband?" Mark asks, smirking. That had taken a bit of digging on Collins part, but it seemed that Worthington had quite the past to be elaborated. Or fabricated. Mark wasn't quite sure.

"No." Worthington answers calmly, before continuing. "Mr. Summers and I were also close friends, and remain such. I am quite happy for Jean and Scott."

"Is it true that you privately fund the school in which Ms. Grey conducts most of her research?"

"Any funding I give would be done publicly." He sounded clipped, and Mark didn't buy it. He could recognize a legally obligatory technicality when he heard one.

"It's been said that Dr. Grey attended a private High School in Westchester. If you dated her, did you go there as well?"

"Jean and I did not attend the same High School, I attended a boarding school in Britain, and moved to the United States shortly after my graduation with my family."

But Mark is looking past him now. During the last exchange a feather had fallen from somewhere and landed on the floor by the front of Worthington's desk. "What's that?" Warren reacts as coolly as if it's just the next interview question.

"It appears to be a feather." Worthington replies, in a tone that reminds Mark of when he asked Roger what the white powder in the Ziploc bag was.