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Volume 2 -- Supreme Reflections -- Warren Worthington III

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Warren Worthington III
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Warren’s Reflections (AN: Takes place after issue 43)

Why do we do it? What’s the point? Is it really worth sacrificing time, energy, and an ungodly level of heartache? I see everybody getting caught up in it. Friends, family, and even enemies take part in this madness. They blindly dedicate themselves to someone they think is the one…their true love. They wait, sacrifice, and agonize at every waking moment. And for what? Love? Sex? Companionship?

Damn you, Candy Southerner! Damn you, Father! As far as I’m concerned it’s all more trouble than it’s worth.

Warren Worthington III may very well be the most sarcastic and cynical person on the face of the planet at the moment. Considering the planet just made it through a close call with mass extinction, this was really saying something. But if Warren was a betting man, he would wager his entire family fortune that he harbored more bitterness than anyone could ever hope to match.

It was a tragedy and not of the Shakespearean kind either. He just found out the last two years of his life had been tainted by one big lie. Even though he had grown used to lies from the world outside the X-men, this one hurt. It hurt in ways no words could describe. His heart, his soul, and his very will to continue was shaken. While the X-men and the rest of the world worked to undo the damage done by Magneto, Warren Worthington III had some more personal repairs of his own to take care of.

He needed to get away from it all. He needed a clear head and a quiet place. In his experience there was nowhere on Earth quiet enough to wrestle with these issues so his only sanctuary was up in the sky within the clouds. It was probably the best use of his powers. Every day he would just step outside and go on a nice flight, taking refuge in the calm surrounding of the clear blue skies. Today happened to have the perfect weather. The winds were light, the sky was clear, and the temperatures were just right. For the past hour he had been flying around the mansion and the lake, trying to get away from everything on the ground that had caused him so much pain.

I wish I could live the rest of my days up here in the sky. It’s so much simpler up here. There’s no conflict, no heartbreak, and aside from the occasional jet fumes it smells a lot nicer too. It would be so great if I could just leave it all behind. Lord knows I’ve tried before. Even if I look like an angel, there are times I feel outright damned.

It’s pretty ironic because there aren’t many people who wouldn’t hesitate to switch places with me. I’m young, I’m handsome, I’m rich, and I can fly. It’s like I won the lottery three times in a row the day I was born. Who wouldn’t want to grow up in that kind of environment? The Worthington family isn’t just rich. They’re obscenely rich with billions of dollars of wealth. We have so much money that even the most reckless human being in the world couldn’t spend it all in one lifetime. You don’t just get a silver spoon when you’re born. You get a diamond encrusted, platinum plated, gold molded arsenal of eating utensils that you use to shovel the most expensive cuisine in existence into your mouth as if it were chocolate.

That all sounds nice on paper, but there is a long list of caveats. The cynics are right in this respect. It is lonely at the top sometimes. Money really cannot buy away problems. As if that weren’t enough, more money tends to attract more problems. Throw a family legacy and a multi-billion dollar enterprise that five generations of Worthingtons have built and you’ve got the kind of enigmas that Einstein himself couldn’t crack.

None of these problems are clear at the beginning. I sure didn’t feel that way when I was young. I had damn near everything a kid could want. My room was like a miniature toy store. If I ever wanted something, I would just ask and within a day or so I would have it. One time I wanted the latest Nintendo game, my father’s people actually called Nintendo up in Japan and had them fly the game over to me personally before it even hit the shelves. That’s the kind of wealth we’re dealing with here and I didn’t give it much thought. What kid would? But it became painfully apparent earlier for me than it did with other rich kids and it wasn’t just the burden of a family legacy.

Warren picked up speed as he flew higher into the sky, reaching an altitude just above the cloud-line. He could only fly so high before the air got too thin and or too cold. Whenever he was really upset, he often tested the limits and today was more than appropriate. He was almost at his record for altitude and a fresh stream of blistering cold soon swept over his wings and body. The winged mutant cared little for the shivers that followed. He was willing to do anything at this point to take his mind off his troubles. But even at this altitude, the conflicts of his life still followed him.

It started off small. My parents groomed me from an early age to carry on the Worthington name. I swear you could have bought two houses and a new Bentley with the money they spent on my education. They sent me to the fanciest private schools and hired the best tutors money could buy. It was pretty overwhelming for a young kid and I didn’t respond in a way anyone would call mature. I know all kids go through a rebellious phase, but mine was a little more severe than others. I later found out there was a reason for this extra pressure from my parents and it wasn’t just typical rich people buffoonery.

My parents never intended for me to be an only child. They made no secret of their desire to build and expand the next generation of Worthingtons. My grandfather, Warren Senior, died prematurely before fathering many kids. This caused somewhat of a glut in our ranks and my dad sort of took it upon himself to pick up the slack. When they had me they were ecstatic. I’m pretty sure they wanted to keep going. I sure as hell didn’t know much about this nor did I care to. But it was not lost on me that my parents clearly wanted more kids and they weren’t having any.

This would be the first time I was hurt by secrets. While I they were pampering me and shoving so much education down my throat, my mom was secretly lamenting about her inability to get pregnant. She went to all sort of fertility experts and they couldn’t figure it out. Then one day they learned the truth and it was worse than anyone suspected. My mother had ovarian cancer and it not only left her infertile, it was slowly killing her.

I found out when I was just nine years old. Overnight, my rebellious attitude and arrogant selfishness was shoved aside. My mother was dying. I could no longer afford to be immature. I now understood why they dedicated so much effort into nurturing me. Since I was their only son I was basically their only shot at continuing the Worthington name. That really struck me and I learned a great deal about living up to that name.

During this time I essentially stopped living such a charmed life and spent most of my time either studying or supporting my mother. Now I wanted to live up to my family name. I wanted to make my mother proud of the son she bore. I kind of became her angel before I even had wings. I would sit by her bed for hours and just talk to her. We would laugh and tell stories. I thought it was pretty amazing a woman so sick could still smile. The cancer she had was pretty nasty and spread to several different organs within a year. My dad tapped pretty much every resource he could to treat her. It was probably the most decent thing he ever did. All those fancy doctors and experimental medicines bought mom time and eased her suffering. That extra time became pretty important in the long run because I developed a certain condition of my own.

It started happening when I was around fifteen. My mom’s condition took a huge turn for the worse and even the best doctors in the world were saying she didn’t have much time left. All that stress probably set off my X-gene because I started developing these lumps on my back. At first I was terrified. I stayed home from school and tried to figure out what they were. I tried to conceal them with clothes and jackets, but it was no use. They kept on growing. For a while I thought it was more cancer. I remember rushing to my father for advice, who promptly rushed me to a special hospital where they threw me into an X-ray machine and did a full scan. I want to say I was relieved when they said they weren’t tumors, but that actually only freaked me out even more. A blood test or two later and I finally got my answer. I was a mutant.

That offered some relief to me, but I remember my father looking deadpanned. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking. I thought he would at least show some relief that I didn’t have cancer like mom, but I get the feeling he would have actually been okay with cancer. His son being a mutant left him pretty conflicted. It was a sign of things to come. The only reason I didn’t realize it was because my mother was on the brink. All our family wealth couldn’t save her. Between her health and my mutation, all that money and privilege kind of lost its meaning. It gave me a lot to think about and I sure as hell wasn’t equipped to deal with it.

That turned into a major soul-searching period in my life. I stayed home with my mother while I got used to the idea of being a mutant. My mother took it much better than my father. Maybe it was because she was dying, but she told me to be proud. She told me that being different only made me more precious to her. I was actually in her room when my wings first sprouted from the lumps in my back. It happened while she was sleeping and I was just talking to her, venting all my uncertainties. It started as a stabbing pain, but it quickly passed. I like it to a caterpillar coming out of a cocoon because when those lumps were broken, my wings sprouted free. I made such a racket that I woke my mother. When she saw me she gasped, thinking that she had passed on. I assured her she hadn’t. She still called me her angel. The name pretty much stuck.

I’m kind of glad that she was the first person to see my wings. She didn’t hide any uncertainty. She didn’t keep any secrets. She saw me and accepted me. I would have loved to show her these powers and take her out on a flight. Sadly, I never got that chance. My mother passed away that night so she could be with real angels. I was with her until her dying breath. After that night, my life would never be the same.

Warren stopped ascending into the cold recesses of the sky. He had already broken his record for height and duration. Even with his unique biology, breathing at this altitude was difficult. He started getting light-headed. It was almost a relief of sorts because it kept shedding a wave of tears. Any thought of his mother triggered a wave of emotion that just made him want to yell out at the top of his lungs. Between her and the fluttering sound of his wings flapping in the air, it was a reminder of just how much his world changed as he came of age.

The death of my mother drove a permanent wedge between me and the carefree world of the rich that I was groomed to inherit. I noticed that when a lot of rich people face challenges, they try to spend the problem away. Conversely, my methods of coping didn’t cost me a dime. The very day after my mother died, I stepped outside and started flexing my wings. From the roof of the Worthington mansion, I took my first flight. It wasn’t anywhere near as graceful as one might think. Adapting to new limbs is not nearly as intuitive as it sounds. The flight was more a glide than anything else, but during those brief moments in the air my troubles were completely behind me.

I soon became enchanted with my powers. They gave me an outlet from a world I was becoming increasingly disillusioned with. My father’s methods of coping weren’t nearly as efficient. He was not the same man after my mom died. I could tell the very next day. He seemed to lose much of his passion and essentially drowned himself in work. He became cold and distant, losing any sense of empathy. That works great in the business world, but not as a father.

Now that my mother was gone he grew more anxious about me and my future. He was still determined to prepare me for my role as the future face of Worthington Industries. That face was going to have some problems though. My wings were pretty hard to ignore. At first he wanted me to hide them. I had to wear these horribly uncomfortable shirts and I was always being followed by these body guards my dad hired. He said it was to protect me. It was painfully clear that they were just there to keep an eye on me and make sure I didn’t show my wings. I had to go through school like this for a while and I flat out hated it. I couldn’t get close to anybody. I couldn’t be open with anybody. I was my father’s hidden shame.

Eventually, I withdrew from the school and was tutored full time. I basically became relegated to the Worthington mansion. Granted, the mansion is big enough to have it’s own zip code, but even a place like that can feel like a prison. Those walls started closing in on me. I couldn’t take it, being cut off from the world at my father’s whim. It would have been easy to just disobey him. But with my mother’s death still fresh in my mind, I didn’t have the heart to be a rebellious jerk. I needed to be something better. I needed to be something more.

It was my mother’s last words that inspired me. She called me an angel. She said I had a gift and I would grace the world with it. So that’s what I was going to do.

Warren’s expression hardened in the bitter cold and thin air. A few filled his eyes briefly. He washed them away by shifting his body and flying back down towards the surface below at high speeds. The blistering wind wiped away any tears of sorrow that lingered. The rush of the air still got his adrenaline flowing in the same way it had when this experience was still new to him. He felt it when he went on these long flights. He felt it when he went on a mission with the X-men. It was a feeling that money could not buy and one that guided much of his life.

From her inspiration, I became Angel. I grabbed some dark clothes, threw on some heavy leather jackets and gloves, and made a mask out from some old Halloween gear. And just like that, I was a superhero. I took to the sky, flew into New York City, and started fighting crime and saving lives. I swooped in on some muggers, drug dealers, and gang bangers and put the fear of god into them. They actually thought I was a heavenly messenger. I even found out one of them became a priest later on. It was an incredible feeling, using these powers to help people.

It didn’t take long for my father to find out. The tabloids and the press were all over the story of a real anger as if Elvis had come back to life. Needless to say, he didn’t approve. He told me I was being a fool. I was putting myself and the family name in great danger. I scoffed at that notion. It’s not like I didn’t care about our family. I wore a mask for crying out loud! But that wasn’t enough for him. He forbade me to keep doing this. Naturally, I didn’t listen. I was 17 years old and I got a taste of the hero life. There was no going back for me.

I kept on going despite my father’s disapproval. By day I still got tutored in the world of business, but by night my only business was to be a hero. I wasn’t thinking much about making a career of it or anything. Human/mutant conflict was on the rise at the time and speculation about me being a mutant seemed to take away from the whole heavenly messenger aspect. But I honestly didn’t care. I got too much fulfillment out of it. One night, I got something even more incredible.

Warren pulled up from his rapid descent, gritting his teeth threw the blistering wind. It felt like ice shards were bombarding his face. It helped mask the pain of the other great burden he bore from being a Worthington and having mutant powers. The hardest part was that there were times when it hadn’t always been a burden. There were points in his life where his powers and his family intersected in unexpected ways.

He was about few hundred feet from the ground when he pulled up from his descent, pulling off a sharp turn before gracefully ascending into the air again where he settled in a perfect hover just over the lake. The adrenaline was still coursing through his veins. It reminded him of another kind of rush he felt only once and used to treasure.

I was out on patrol one night, looking to help wherever I was needed. I flew over the GeorgeWashingtonBridge for a quick breather and I landed just in time to see a traffic accident unfold like something from a Jackie Chan movie. This big truck was hauling these concrete slabs which weren’t exactly secured as well as they should have been. The guy driving must have been from out of town as well because he was clearly not versed in the merits of New York City driving. He tried merging into another lane and some asshole cut him off, causing him to swerve and knock off a few of those concrete slabs. A number of incoming cars were closing fast and managed to avoid it. One in particular, a very nice convertible with the top down no less, wasn’t so lucky.

It all happened in slow motion. The convertible swerved, crashing at an angle against the barriers on the edge of the road. As it just so happened, the passenger of the car wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and she got thrown from the car as if she had been shot out of a cannon. I can still hear her screams to this day. They belonged to a teenage girl named Candy Southerner. I instinctively flew down to save her, catching her just before she hit the water. When she saw me I swear she thought she had died. She even begged me not to take her away just yet. I tried not to laugh too hard when I told her I was just a guy who saved her life. When she finally had a moment to process everything, she looked at me with those beautiful eyes of hers and that was where it started. I had saved people before and they had given me all sorts of looks. But the way this girl looked at me was different. It was different in a way that I would grow very fond of.

By the time I took her back to her bewildered father, I found out who she was. Candy Southerner was part of another rich family that made their billions in the pharmaceutical industry. Her father was a lot like mine in the sense that he was keen on continuing the family legacy. He almost lost that legacy the moment Candy fell off that bridge. When I brought her back he literally got on his knees and thanked me. It could have ended there, but I found myself drawn to this girl and boy did that change everything.

After some heavy coaxing, I told Candy and her father who I was. Her father was pleasantly surprised that this guy who just saved his daughter belonged to another obscenely rich family. I don’t think he needed much convincing when Candy started giving me that amours look. They were really understanding, so much so that they kept my secret and even reached out to my father. It was the beginning of a new phase in my life and this time it would have more direction than just being a hero.

Within months Candy and I were a full fledge couple. I kept playing hero, but I always came back to her. She was so enamored by who I was and what I did. She fell head over heels for me much sooner than I fell for her. She was the first person I could share my secrets with…the first person I could connect with emotionally since my mother died. That connection turned into serious love. I really thought I had found the one. Because of that, I found myself wanting to grow up a little. As much as I loved being a hero, I knew that heroics alone wouldn’t give Candy the life and relationship she deserved.

This is when Professor Charles Xavier and the X-men came into my life. It was part of the coaxing Candy and her father did on my behalf. My father finally accepted that I was not going to stop doing what I did with my wings. So rather than keep fighting it, he decided to make a deal. He called up Professor Charles Xavier, whose Xavier Institute for Higher Learning was just gaining a reputation for educating mutants, and got me enrolled. Since Xavier and my father had a bit of a history, he knew a bit about the X-men and their clandestine heroics. He figured if I was going to continue being Angel, I might as well have some close supervision.

Warren’s gaze drifted from the lake towards the Xavier Institute, which appeared so pristinely in the distance. This elegant estate held a great deal of significance for him. In many ways it became more a home to him than the home he had with his father. That transition didn’t happen overnight though. It emerged from a series of conflicts that would take this happiness he once enjoyed and turn it on its head.

Everything seemed to come together after I joined the institute. I got my act back together academically, which was good because I fell terribly behind. I also got to meet others like me. For once, I had real friends who understood me. Scott and Jean were awesome. And learning from Hank McCoy was way better than any of those expensive tutors my dad hired. Not only that, I could still be Angel as part of the X-men. I ended up helping way more people as part of a team than I ever could on my own.

This new act didn’t come without stipulations either. For one, my father was adamant that I always wear a mask and conceal my identity. He wouldn’t even use my real name when he enrolled me with the institute. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, the real Warren Worthington III was studying in some fancy school in Virginia. He seriously did not want word to get out that he had a mutant for a son. I tolerated it, if for no other reason than to keep him off my back while I did my part for the X-men during our vigilante phase. I also had to tolerate being a part time act for the institute. I spent a few weeks with the X-men and a few weeks back home. I didn’t really mind this because it gave me time to work on my relationship with Candy.

Turns out we didn’t have to work all that hard though. Candy and I just flat out fell for each other. We were seriously head over heels in love. The thought of even being attracted to anyone else didn’t cross my mind. We went out on all sorts of private retreats, including a few trips to family vacation homes that ended up being clothing optional. We went on traditional dates as well, albeit with me wearing special clothing to cover my wings. The best part was just taking Candy in my arms and flying through the sky. It took her some getting used to, but she grew to love it and so did I.

By the time I turned 21 I was ready to marry this woman. I even talked to my dad about it. He still had reservations about me being a mutant, but this was one time when he seemed genuinely happy for me. The issue came up with Candy’s family as well. She seemed all for it. I remember finding these sketches she was making of her dream wedding. It was a little over-the-top, but I didn’t care. I was ready to accept anything for this woman. At least, I thought I was.

Warren clenched his fists in a fit of anger. He turned away from the Xavier Institute and back out towards the lake, already feeling that twinge of heartache that now plagued him worse than ever. He loved Candy Southerner with all his heart. Their relationship was like a fairy tale at times. This beautiful woman fell for an angel and they were going to build a life together. It didn’t matter that he was a mutant. It didn’t matter that she was human. What mattered is they loved each other.

That’s all that should have mattered. That’s all every hopelessly romantic notion in human history said was necessary. It shouldn’t have been complicated, but the real world had a way of tainting even the strongest of loves. None of those romantics ever spoke of the actual logistics of a relationship. If they had then his would be a case study in how it could all go horribly wrong.

Candy’s began talking with my father. At the time Candy was 19 and had graduated at the top of her class from a prestigious business school. She was poised to become a big part of Southerner Pharmaceuticals and carry on her family legacy. Her marrying someone from the Worthington family could only help. A union between these two families would have shareholders fainting with joy. There was just one caveat. Nobody wanted this to be a wedding between a human and a mutant.

It was like being hit in the head and stabbed in the back. The hit in the head came when Candy’s parents stated that they wouldn’t allow this marriage to take place so long as I had wings. If I was to marry the woman I love, I would have to cut them off. If that wasn’t bad enough, the stab in the back came when my father revealed to me that he had been preparing for year that this day would finally come.

I swear I was ready to deck the old man where he stood. Before my mother’s body was even cold, my father set up a new division at Worthington Pharmaceuticals with the sole purpose of studying mutation and by study I mean finding a way to stop it. He called it a cure. I called it outright bullshit. He kept trying to justify it by saying I was sick and I needed help. He didn’t understand that what I had was not a disease. Me being a mutant was his secret shame. If I was going to continue to Worthington legacy, I had to sacrifice what had become an important part of who I am.

He and the Southerners ganged up on me. They pushed and they pushed, urging me ot take this cure and become a normal human being again. I didn’t want that. I didn’t think Candy wanted that either. She always told me how much she loved my wings. I turned to her, hoping that she could convince her family that this was wrong and that we could still be together. I was disappointed and hurt by her efforts.

She didn’t even try. If anything she actually agreed with my father. Being a mutant would threaten not just my legacy, but hers as well. I told her I didn’t care about that. I was willing to leave that legacy behind for her. If it meant losing my inheritance and all the wealth the Worthington name carried with it, so be it. That’s the price I was willing to pay for her. I thought she loved me enough to pay that price as well. I was dead wrong.

Candy had worked so hard to carry on her family name. She wasn’t willing to let all that work go to waste, even for me. She kept telling me how much she loved me. She kept telling me how much she wanted to be with me. She didn’t say she was okay with me losing my powers. That probably should have been a red flag. But I was so pissed at the time I hardly had any time to scrutinize it. This conflict drew itself out for months and I kept wrestling with my father, trying to get him to abandon this idea that I needed to be cured. That never happened.

On what had to be the coldest night in the history of New York, I yelled at my dad for at least two full hours in the dead of night. Candy was there with me. She just sat there, not saying a damn word the whole time. It all ended with me saying that I was out. He could have the Worthington legacy. I’ll keep my wings. I told him I was leaving all Worthington affairs indefinitely. Since I was a legal adult, I could enroll in the Xavier Institute full time. That was where I belonged. That’s where I wanted to be.

I don’t know how much this affected my father, but he must have been reeling because he froze as still as a statue. I told him not to cut me off completely. Otherwise I would expose my identity to the world and everybody would know his dirty little secret. That left a door open that a small part of me hoped would be there for me one day. It wasn’t so much for the Worthington legacy as much as it was for Candy. Before I left she ran up to me and told me she still loved me. I loved her too, but I said we can’t be together until this changes. She didn’t say much else. She just nodded. I took that to mean she was going to wait for me…that one day I could be her lover as both a mutant and a Worthington. After all this time, I realize just how stupid I was to think that.

While hovering silently, Warren reached into his pocket and pulled out an old picture that rarely left his side. It was a picture taken a few years ago just before this mess with their families began. They were sitting on the roof of the tallest building in Dubai. He had flown her up there so they could be alone. She clung to him so lovingly, as if he was her lifeline. The way she smiled still made Warren’s heart ache.

“I should’ve known,” he said aloud, as if he was talking to the picture, “How could I have been so stupid?!”

His hands trembled. Warren used to hold this picture with such care. Now it felt like a festering wound, one that had always been there without him realizing it until the truth finally came out. Once again, secrets and lies tormented him. The pathetic thing was he went years without knowing just how bad it was.

Life after Candy was a difficult adjustment. Being an X-man full time was an easy transition. The others had refined themselves into a full fledged superhero team. I had to play catch-up for the first few months while dealing with the heartache. It was nice that my friends were so supportive. Charles Xavier was a great mentor. Sometimes he was my unofficial therapist, helping me to cope with this feeling of betrayal I had from Candy and my father.

During this time I kept wearing a mask to conceal my identity. Whenever the press reported on the X-men’s exploits, I was labeled simply as the Angel. No one made the connection to me and the Worthingtons. Even after the X-men shed their masks and became more publicly active, I still wore a mask to conceal my identity. Hell, I still do to this day. There were times I was tempted to tell the world I was a Worthington. It may have been worth it just to see the look on my dad’s face. But Professor Xavier and my friends kept me from taking that step. It was a good thing too because it gave my dad time to think about what he had done.

My father kept running his company, but he also followed my exploits with the X-men. Over time he slowly but surely owned up to his pigheadedness. Being a hero more than anything showed him that I wasn’t sick. I had a gift. It took him a while to start reaching out to me. He didn’t cut me off from the family money and he was even nice enough to start supplying the Xavier Institute with new tools. But I wasn’t convinced he was ready to turn over a new leaf. I thought Candy would beat him to the punch.

I kept in touch with her as well, but only through email. I had no idea what she was up to other than learning the ropes of her family company. She never mentioned meeting someone or falling for another guy. That gave me hope that I carried with me over the years…hope that we were still destined to be together. While the rest of the X-men went through their share of relationship dramas, I avoided it entirely. The thought of seeking another woman for so much as a one-night-stand didn’t even cross my mind.

Then this latest stunt by Magneto changed all that. His plan to wipe humanity off the face of the Earth with an asteroid, as crazy as it was, revealed the painful truth. This time it wasn’t my dad who was the asshole. It was the woman I loved who hurt me the most.

Warren tensed with anger and heartbreak. He closed his eyes and crumbled up the picture in his hand. Just looking at an image of Candy brought back all those feelings of betrayal that overwhelmed him during this fateful mission. The others had coaxed him into reaching out to his father in order to secure a transport to Genosha. He certainly wasn’t enthused about graveling to his father. If that’s all he ended up doing he wouldn’t have had a problem. When Candy made an unexpected appearance, it turned into one of the most painful revelations of his life.

She lied to me. It was all a total farce! She never accepted me for what I was! She never loved Warren the person! She just loved Warren, the concept! Why else would she pick up where my father left off with his anti-mutant research?

She was even worse than my father. At least my father had the good sense to stop that research when I stepped out. I’m sure he didn’t stand in Candy’s way when she ordered her company to pick up the slack, but I expect that shit from my father! Not from her! I had to look her in the eye and find out first hand that she didn’t love me as much as I thought she did. She was willing to finish my father’s so-called cure! She actually hoped I would one day come to her and ask that I destroy this part of myself! That way we could be together the easy way! Even if it wasn’t the right way! I don’t know what the hell that is, but it sure isn’t love!

So here I am, a 23-year-old man who basically spent the last few years in a fantasy world. I thought I found the one. I thought I found the woman I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Instead, I found a liar…a woman only willing to love me when I fit into her comfortable little world of wealth and privilege. Not only that, the X-men had to fight to prevent that mutant-killing gas her company made from destroying all of Genosha! There’s no coming back from shit like that. Love will make you forgive a lot of things, but when certain lines are crossed there’s no working around it. You have to cut your losses, suck it up, and move forward.

A hard lump formed in his throat. The winged mutant refused to break down up here in the sky, his sanctuary from the conflict. He had already shed enough tears for this woman. From here on out, there could be no more sobs. Candy Southerner could no longer be part of his future or his present for that matter. It was time to leave her and the love they once shared in the past.

Warren swallowed the hard lump and looked back towards the picture he had crumpled up. He let it flatten out for a few moments, watching the wrinkles and tears cover what was once a happy memory. His lips quivered with a mix of angst and anger. The time had come to sever his ties to this part of his life for good.

“Goodbye Candy,” he said to the picture, “Thank you for all the good times. Damn you for tainting them with your lies. I wish it didn’t have to be like this. Part of me is still going to love you and what we once had. But you’re not going to change. Just like my old man, you’ll only accept whatever fits into your cozy little world. If I can’t be in that world, so be it. You won’t be in mine either. Whatever this new status quo brings with humans and mutants, the phony love we once shared won’t be part of it.”

Having said his peace, Warren crumpled up the picture again. This time there was no subtlety. He let the image rip, tear, and warp beyond recognition. Then he held his hand out in front of them and in once symbolic gesture, dropped the tattered picture into the lake blow. Within seconds, the wind swept it away. When it hit the water it began to dissolve, taking with it a vestige of Warren’s past and opening the door to an uncertain future.

Next Issue: Bobby Drake

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