TITLE: Sex Appeal
AUTHOR: Scorpio
ARCHIVE: Want. Take. Have.
PAIRING: Iceman POV, none.
RATING: R (adult themes)
WARNING: Slashy. Minor Scott bashing. If you're a die-hard Scott fan, you might not like how he is portrayed in this.
DISCLAIMER: I own them all. They are mine, I tell you. All mine! ZAP! Just kidding, Storm. Just kidding. Marvel owns all.
SUMMARY: Bobby talks about the changes in his own life and his newfound perceptions of his fellow X-Men.

Sex Appeal
by Scorpio

It's funny how different I am since I "came out of the closet" as a gay man. No really. I mean it. I am different. I have changed. Mostly for the better.

I have a theory on that, by the way. As to why being open about my sexuality changed me in so many unexpected ways, I mean. If you stop and think about it though, it does make a terrible amount of sense. Before coming out, my main focus during non-battle situations was to keep that aspect hidden away from the rest of the X-Men with any and all means available. It was my entire life.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to keep such a fundamental and all encompassing thing such as your sexual orientation and hormonal desires a secret from several telepaths, an empath, a man with heightened senses and a whole slew of teammates who are close enough to you to be considered a family? It's not easy. But it can be done. I know this because I did it for almost ten years.

The first step is to keep them off balance and to cultivate an image that goes against the stereotype. Most people automatically think "womanizer." I'm not suave or sexy or dangerous enough to pull that off. What I am, is cute.

So, you have to use what you have to your best advantage. I'm cute, so I carefully cultivated the image of Peter Pan; the boy who never grew up. Unsurprisingly, people are a bit shocked when they learn that I'm actually twenty-six years old. I look younger and act younger. Most people guess me to be somewhere between eighteen and twenty. An immature eighteen, at that.

I've got a reputation as a prankster. One that is well earned, I might add. That actually helped my cause a lot. No one expects deep thoughts from a person who pulls practical jokes. I don't know why, but they don't. No one hands you responsibility either. This served to reinforce my "kid" image. No one expects a "kid" to develop serious relationships, so my few dating disasters were seen as a lack of maturity on my part and not a lack of heterosexuality.

Another thing in my favor is that I learned all about telepaths and telepathy before I myself was even truly aware of my sexuality. I learned that my minimal shields aren't strong enough to keep the more powerful telepaths out if they chose to scan me. I also learned that most of them have enough ethics and morals not to do anything more deeply than a "surface" scan without permission. The easiest way to handle that is to think about something that discourages a telepath to bother looking any deeper. Like pranks. Or cartoons. Or math.

So, I was able to keep up this charade for a long time. No one suspected that I had a secret, nor that I was capable of such a sustained deceit.

Why did I end my game of hiding the truth? Simple really. I'm twenty-six years old. Twenty-six. I'm tired of being treated like a kid. I'm sick of having people automatically assume that there is nothing to me beyond cartoons and practical jokes. I'm tired of living a lie. So, I sucked up my courage and traded the lie in for a life.

The reactions I got to that admission were wide ranging to say the least. Jean didn't believe me and thought it was a joke. At least she did until I invited her to peak inside my head. She was terribly impressed with how I managed to deceive a bunch of telepaths. So was Scott, although not in a good way. He muttered something about how many other secrets was I hiding and walked away. He still only talks to me during training or missions, and then, only to give orders and reprimands.

Hank took me out for a celebratory dinner. He insisted that as my best friend, it was his privilege to take me on my "first date." You gotta love that guy. No one, not even Warren, does classy like Hank.

Logan couldn't have cared less then, and he still doesn't care one way or the other now. His reaction was to grunt, shrug and then tell me to get the hell out of his way. I was blocking the refrigerator and he wanted a beer.

Betsy laughed and made a few rude comments about how it explained my lack of success with both the ladies and life in general. That hurt. Warren, always one to put on the mantle of the more experienced and sophisticated "city cousin" looking out for his dreadfully ignorant "country cousin" immediately offered to fix me up with some gay friends of his that "move in the right circles."

Gambit just began flirting with me more openly while Rogue declared that we were "best girlfriends" now. I think she meant that as a compliment.

The other side effect of all this was that I no longer had to concentrate on hiding my sexuality. Not that I suddenly became a slut or anything. I didn't. Honest. I also didn't need to keep up the image of me being an overgrown kid. I'm not saying that I don't still come up with some great practical jokes, because I do. It's just not an obsession of mine anymore. I don't need to occupy my mind with trivialities in order to make myself seem younger.

Instead, I have found that I have a lot of other things to occupy my mind. I've been starting to take my life seriously because I feel like I can now. I've been working on learning the extent of my powers, something that a "kid" wouldn't do. I also have taken to trying to adjust myself to a more adult social status. When I see myself as an adult and show the world an adult, I'll be treated like one. Right?

Yeah. Makes sense to me too. So, I'm trying to see things in a new light. From other points of view beyond "how to use this information to advance my cause" and I've realized something that I've only taken notice of in a vague way. Not that it wasn't there before, but that I refused to allow myself to dwell on it out of fear that the telepaths would pick up on it.

My teammates are hot!

Not that I can't appreciate the beauty of the X-Women, but the men? Wow! Major sex appeal in tight shiny spandex. Can you say "gay man's wet dream"?

So, once I allowed myself to actually see this fact and acknowledge it beyond my subconscious, it became more and more obvious to me. All of them are amazingly appealing, and each in their own way.

Well, except for Scott Summers.

The fact that he has women that drool over him, expecially Jean, completely and totally confuses me. I just ... I just don't see it. At all.

Okay. Let's look at the guys one by one and you'll see what I mean.

Gambit. Remy LeBeau. The man is sex on legs in a leather trenchcoat. Women swoon when he smiles at them and it is not hard to see why. Hell, I've nearly swooned when he's decided it would be entertaining to flirt with me and I know what a jerk he can be.

Jerkiness aside, let's face it, Gambit's got it. He's inhumanly beautiful, seductively charming, thrillingly exotic, excitingly mysterious and more than a little dangerous. That's one hell of a powerful combination. Women tend to have one of two things on their mind when they fall for Remy. They either want to "save" him from himself or they get their kicks by playing with fire while knowing full well that they are going to get burned.

Gambit's also a flirt. He invites people to devour him with their eyes and to hunger him. He looks good, he smells good, he sounds good. It makes you wonder if he would taste and feel good as well. And I have to admit, if Remy asked me to, I'd sleep with him in a heartbeat. I don't think we'd ever have a "romantic" relationship, but I'm willing to bet all the money I own that the sex would be wild.

Then there's Logan. The Wolverine. You know, for a short hairy guy with no manners, Logan sure in a babe magnate. Don't even pretend that you don't know what I'm talking about. Wolverine takes the "strong and silent" type to a whole new level. He's also got that mysterious thing going for him. However, unlike with Gambit, most of Wolverine's past is a mystery to himself as well. That, of course, adds a new dimension to that particular part of the equation. Add in his overwhelming presence, his untamed wildness and the dangerous gleam he can't keep out of his eyes and you've got yourself the ultimate manly-man.

Women flock to Logan like ducks to a water. Although, he tends to attract a different breed of women than Gambit does. For the most part anyway. First of all, women see Logan as this sort of primal protector. Not that this is a wrong perception, because it's not. I've seen Wolverine take bullets for those he cares about. Yeah, yeah, his healing factor, I know. That doesn't mean he can't suffer from the pain. In fact, even more so since painkillers do not work on him. I know because I've heard Hank wax eloquent about that subject on more than one occasion.

Then there are the women who want to "civilize" him. Wolverine is a collection of bad habits. He smokes smelly cigars. He drinks to excess. He fights. He swears. He rides around on his motorcycle or in his jeep without even a stray thought to safety or motor vehicle laws. He's even been known to eat meat without cooking it first. There isn't a woman under the sun who doesn't view that man as a challenge. I almost want to tell them not to bother because Wolverine will never change, but I do admire their tenacity. Even if it is futile.

In fact, I think that I would be just a smidgen upset if some woman did come along and tame him. Let's face it, Logan is the ultimate top and if some woman civilized him than he wouldn't be Wolverine any more. I'd take him just the way he is and thoroughly enjoy being dominated by him. It'd be a heady experience to be claimed by that man, I'm sure. Although I don't think I'll ever have the courage to actually tell him that. Logan is nothing if not intimidating in a very frightening way.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Angel. Warren Worthington the Third. Multimillionaire playboy with his own international company to run. It's really a no-brainer why women would like him, is it? Warren's got lots of money, an excellent social standing, Fortune 500 connections in the business world, exquisite manners and blinding good looks.

In spite of all that, I don't think that I could ever want to be in that sort of relationship with him. I never know whether to feel a little sorry for the women he dates or if I should just snicker at them behind their backs. After all, women who treat men as delightful and generous bank accounts deserve men who treat women as helpless and charming playthings. All I can say is, thank God for Betsy. She may not be my bestest buddy in the world, but she did us all a favor by yanking Warren's head out of his own ass.

Don't get me wrong. I like Warren and I consider him to be a great friend and even as an older brother. He's taught me a lot about the world and he tries to look out for me as best as he can. But there is a core of arrogance to Warren that would leave me cold if I tried to love him in that way. He wears sophistication and financial power as a mask to hide the real Warren from the world, and I for one am sick of pretending to be something and someone that I'm not.

Then there is Hank. Dr. Henry McCoy, if you will. Beast. My best friend and confidant. Hank doesn't attract the sheer numbers of women that Gambit and Wolverine do, or that Angel did, for that matter. But the ones that do fall for Blue tend to fall hard. Not that I blame them.

Hank is many things. He's undeniably brilliant. Genius is a word bandied about in regard to many people, but Hank is the genuine article. He holds several Ph.D.'s, in fact. He's eloquent and elegant, a true gentleman in every sense of the word. He's a famous hero, too. Not that we all aren't famous, but Hank's thought of as a hero by the public at large, while most of us are seen as "outlaws."

Then there is all that luxuriant thick blue fur. That right there guarantees that anyone in an intimate relationship with Hank has a healthy set of kinks. I'm willing to admit to my fair share of fantasies involving all that fur, I would never act on them. I tend to see Hank as a brother and so any sort of sex thoughts about him just end up making me feel a tad on the icky side.

On the other hand, I tend to think of the women that like him as having extraordinary good taste in men. Even though I have yet to come across one that's actually good enough for Hank. I don't think I ever will, but that's more my problem than anything else.

Then there's the one that I just don't get. At all. Scott Summers. Cyclops. One of my oldest friends and my field leader. He's still my field leader, but I sometimes wonder if he's still my friend. That's a thought that hurts. Deeply.

We used to know each other inside and out and now we barely recognize each other at all. A lot of that is my fault because of my deceptions and the way that I pushed myself from the group. When I came back, he had changed and I worked hard to prove that I didn't. That I was still the same kid he remembered from before. I'm not sure if it bothers me that he just accepted what I was showing him and the team at face value or not. Scott never dug deeper to see how I was really doing behind the childish antics. It never occurred to him that I might be growing up. He did. Jean did. Hank did. Warren did. Why didn't he realize that I should be growing up too? Why didn't any of them?

Warren tried to "help" me grow up. I can't begin to relate all of the times he gave me "advice" and tried to teach me about his rich and snobby little corner of the world. Not that I didn't enjoy it or the time I spent with him, even though down deep we both knew that I'd never fit into that world. Still, Warren didn't give up on me.

And Hank? I think I mentioned that he was my confidant? He was. Is. I could go to him with any deep or troubling thoughts and he would help me see my way through them. Not all of them, of course, but a lot. My parents. My need to roam. My confusion and frustration with all of the anti-mutant rhetoric we routinely run across. Hank recognized my childish antics as a defense mechanism, even if he didn't truly know what they were defending.

Jean tends to mother everyone and sees us all as little kids. Except for maybe Storm. So, she coddles us, but she keeps us all at arms length because that would ruin her illusions. The fact that she never noticed that I never grew up was nothing personal. She never noticed that anyone grew up besides her and Scott.

But Scott? He never bothered to even make an effort and that just hurts. Now that I've tried to see everyone beyond the pigeon hole that I've created for them, I've noticed things about him that I never did before. He's unemotional, uncommunicative and blunt to the point of rudeness. He's also very narrow minded. Despite those rose-tinted glasses he is forced to wear, Scott sees the world and the people in it in black and white. And people who don't fit neatly and calmly into his worldview send him over the edge.

Take Remy LeBeau for instance. Scott absolutely hates Gambit. Why? Because Gambit messes with Scott's view of the world and how the X-Men should fit into that world. Remy's a thief, a flirt and very secretive. He's also unpredictable and thus, not easily controlled. Scott, on the other hand, is a control freak. So, Remy is a threat to him. Not in actuality, but in Scott's mind.

And now, so am I. Why? Because I lied effectively for over a decade and he never figured it out. That hurt his pride. It also made him painfully aware that I wasn't the dumb oblivious kid that he had pegged me for. In which case, I am an unknown. Unpredictable. He didn't even have any interest in finding out why I felt the need to keep my sexuality a secret for so long. The only thing that matters to him is that I broke out of the role I'd been cast in and now he doesn't know what to do with me.

Any yet women drool over him. The only thing that keeps them back is their, completely understandable, fear of Jean. Okay. Granted, he has a great body. His old nickname of "Slim" just doesn't cut it anymore. He's muscular and strong. He's also very brave and daring. For all his blind spots and bumbling with the interpersonal skills, he is a damn fine tactician. He knows our powers and he uses them ruthlessly to the best advantage. The only thing that I can figure is that women like a man in uniform. And with Scott, it does come across as a "uniform" whereas with the rest of us, it comes across as a "costume." Subtle difference, but oddly profound.

Still, Scott gives the impression of being cold, and coming from the Iceman, that says a lot. I just can't begin to imagine him in bed and having sex. The only thing that I've ever seen him truly passionate about is battle and having the teams show him absolute and unthinking obedience. Of course, I'm probably being a touch harsh since I'm pissed off at him currently. But it's true nonetheless.

Maybe it's because I remember him from when he was younger. Before we started taking so many losses and we all still had hope in abundance. He used to laugh back then. A lot, actually. He never laughs anymore. Ever. I'm the resident prankster, I know these things. He used to express his love for Jean openly. Yeah, Warren used to turn green with envy while Hank and I chuckled on the sidelines, but Scott used to be heavily into the PDA's. That doesn't happen hardly at all anymore, and only at Jean's initiative.

The funny thing is, until now, I never really noticed it. I was too caught up in my own little game of self involvement and deception. I worked so hard at staying the same that I didn't notice that my family was changing. Slowly, little by little. Then, I came to the point where I had to let myself out of the cage I'd built so carefully. I had to let the changes in me come to the surface. Once I did, I noticed them in others. Scott especially.

Funny thing is, I don't like the changes in him any more than he likes the changes in me. And that hurts.

He's turned cold. Hard. Unforgiving.

And me? I find that I much prefer to spend time in the company of Gambit and Wolverine. One because he simply doesn't care about my deception and the other because he understands it.

And besides. They've both got lots of sex appeal.

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