A Wonder And A Wild Desire
Author's Notes: Last summer I began reading the stories of many of the amazing writers here, including the incredible Echo Dancer. Echo's stories include a vital, often overlooked part of Warren's character. As she has pointed out, per Marvel canon, Warren with his avian mutations is a feral. Per canon Henry McCoy (Beast) is a feral as well. This story contains my imaginings of what that meant to themselves and to each other through years of life threatening battles and soul testing physical transformations. Rated M for male/male relationship.
This story is set squarely within the Marvel comicverse, going forward from Uncanny X Men Issue 51. At the time of UXM 51, Hank appeared as physically "normal" as he ever would, and Warren still had his original feathered wings. Hank and Warren were part of the Original Five X Men, which also included Bobby (Iceman) Drake, Scott (Cyclops) Summers, and Jean (Marvel Girl) Grey. The teens trained and fought enemies under the close supervision of Professor Charles Xavier, until Xavier died at an enemy's hands (but he actually didn't; the Changling posing as the Professor per his request did).
For those who were so kind to read Warren's Telling Tales, an apology: Chapter One covers much of the same emotional ground, but it's important to this story for different reasons. Hopefully you'll agree!
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to Echo Dancer and Mad Furry Cheshire Cat for your warm encouragement and support of my writing. I would never have begun such an undertaking otherwise, and hope it doesn't disappoint.
Shameless Plea: Can't say how very much a (non flaming) thoughtful review means. If any part of my stories makes you laugh, cry, gasp, or shake your head, I'd love to know! Even if it's only two words (as long as they aren't "You suck"), it's a beautiful thing!
Fine Print: Don't own a feather or follicle of Warren or Hank, an atom of any other Marvel character, or a word of any Marvel comic or graphic novel. Won't make a penny from any of these stories.
'O Lyric Love, half angel and half bird,
And all a wonder and a wild desire,
Boldest of hearts that ever braved the sun,
Took sanctuary within the holier blue,
And sang a kindred soul out to his face . . .'
Midnight, Present Day
"We should go, Hank."
"I know. But be with me awhile first. Please".
Warren Worthington III gave a small, sad smile to the vulnerable man sitting on the opposite end of the leather couch in the X Mansion's library.
"How could I say no to the most direct request you've ever made?"
Warren leaned over to lay his head on Henry McCoy's broad chest, earning a low, rumbling purr. A deep sigh, and eventually slow, rhythmic breathing of contented sleep escaped Warren as Hank's strong palms caressed lovingly down both Warren's spread wings. The flickering, dying fire softly illuminated a sapphire furred chin nuzzling silky golden hair, powerfully muscled arms gently encircling lithe frame. Hank's leonine features softened as he too drifted off. The two remained blissfully entwined until dawn.
Pre Dawn, 25 Years Previous
Warren woke up needing to return immediately to the now-deserted Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. He couldn't explain to his teammates, wouldn't try, wouldn't have minded company, didn't ask. Silently gliding among streaks of pale sun through the open library window, he shuddered as the heavy deep blue curtains parted, brushing against and trailing cobwebs across his wings.
Only last year Hank charged from behind those drapes with a booming "Have at thee, feathered foe!" during one of the teen boys' destructive free for alls that drew Jean's disapproving stares and sighs, culminating in Professor Charles Xavier calmly but firmly ordering them to stand down before someone got hurt. They would stop immediately. Scott and Hank would launch into very detailed, very different versions of how things got out of hand. Bobby, the usual scapegoat, would offer indignant defenses. Warren would simply nod in agreement at whatever Scott or Hank said, wondering to himself why they couldn't just admit they needed to let off steam. Xavier, knowing all their thoughts, would meet Warren's nod with a small smile and a gentle warning for them all to be more careful the next time. Warren chuckled softly to himself at the memory, even as his throat tightened with sadness.
Xavier had since been killed by Grotesk, and the 5 grieving X Men were ordered by the FBI to go their separate ways. Jean and Scott settled on the east coast, Bobby and Hank on the west coast. Warren roved between the two. He had been fine with not having a new physical place to stay, because his heart had not yet been able to say goodbye to the old one, and as his soul knew, he truly felt at home only in the sky.
Padding feet sent dust swirling across the worn, gouged oak floor. Warren stopped at the large leather couch to run a hand over the worn plaid flannel of one of the professor's favorite shawls still draped there. A tear fell onto the soft fabric asWarren recalled more than once returning from a pre dawn flight to find Xavier asleep at his desk, having worked all night on lesson plans and training exercise programs; he would gently drape a shawl over his mentor's shoulders.
At seventeen, Warren unhesitatingly left behind family, a comfortable but constricting life of wealth and privilege, and exciting, fulfilling days as a solo crime fighter because he believed in Charles Xavier's dream of a peaceful world more accepting to mutants. He felt ready to learn how to work with and fight alongside others to accomplish that dream.
He was also drawn to Xavier's acceptance and regard for all Warren was: a bird/man with feral instincts that drove more of his thoughts and actions than he cared to admit. More easily distracted than the others. Only slightly less impulsive than youngest teammate Bobby. But also a fiercely loyal and courageous protector to teammates or civilians. With Xavier's help,Warren felt he had just begun to navigate the feral world beneath his skin.
Not long ago Xavier encouragedWarrento accept Hank's attempts to befriend him, saying Hank andWarrenhad much in common. Warrenlaughed out loud at having any sort of kinship with the science adoring, word worshipping man, but fell silent when Xavier said that although Hank flatly rejected the idea, he was as much of a feral asWarren.
"In years to come", Xavier added quietly, so as not to betray the deep dread he felt, "You and Hank will very much need each other's support. I am convinced of this. I know you're private by nature, Warren, and I know how much what just happened with Jean hurt, but please try."
Warren had tried. Tried to win Jean's love and lost her to Scott. Despite being in desperate need of a friend and not wanting to let Xavier down, he kept to himself after that. Beneath the beautiful, charming exterior laid a brave but tender heart closely guarded, slow to trust and slow to heal from hurts and rejection. In the meantime, Hank and Bobby became close friends. Scott and Jean's romance deepened. Hank and Bobby. Scott and Jean. Warren.
Alone among outcasts, his mentor and life as he knew it gone, Warren returned alone to the mansion that morning because he needed to see physical reminders that he had been part of a family, that he helped fight for a cause he believed in, that he had a second father who accepted him unconditionally, that it all had been real, because he had lost so much that he also lost his bearings. He hoped seeing all this would be as good as having someone to talk to, which to him meant being vulnerable. He hoped remembering all this would be as good as having someone to tell him everything would be all right which meant needing reassurance, and again, being vulnerable. But while it did provide some comfort, it didn't, he reluctantly admitted, help him as he expected, hoped it would.
Warren paced agitatedly down the deserted halls, chiding himself for his weakness and self pity. He stopped at a hanging picture of Jean and Scott pointing at the "high-flying Angel". He had kept as much distance from everyone on the ground as from above, and what had it gotten him? He scowled at another picture of himself grinning, holding a water balloon over Bobby's and Hank's heads. Foolish boy, he was. What the hell was wrong with him? Was he not a Worthington, raised to be resilient, strong and self sufficient? A deeper voice within whispered wasn't he a hunter, didn't he know showing weakness made him prey? Exasperated, Warren told himself he should go, yet couldn't bring himself to do so.
Loud ticking suddenly echoed through the empty building. Heart racing, traveling fast as wings would carry him, he located and headed for the source, the room housing Cerebro . . .