I'm pretty sure I read it either at the end of the 1990s or the very beginning of 2000. I think it was a first-person narration. The character involved learned that he could succeed at any task he put his mind to, but only the very first time. I think he initially figured it out when he threw a bullseye in darts and then couldn't hit the broad side of the barn. He tries to make use of his gift, but continuously fails because he can only ever do a thing perfectly once. Ultimately:

He meets a girl, falls completely in love with her and has perfect sex... only to realize that it can never be that good again. The story ended with him lifting a gun to his head and grimly thinking that, since this was the first time, he couldn't miss.

I have this vague idea that this was tied into mutants in some way. I think I read the story online, so I don't have an anthology to attach it to, although it might have been published in print as well.

  • What makes this an SFF story? Is it that his 'beginner's luck' ability is supernatural?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 7 '15 at 1:32
  • It was definitely unnatural. As I said, I have this vague idea that he had recognized himself as a mutant and that others had powers, just that his was... underwhelming.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 7 '15 at 1:41

I found it. "Beginner's Luck", part of The Common People archive, a selection of X-Men fanfiction that was intended to look at mutants who were not superheroes or supervillains and largely did not interact with the canonical characters.

I toss the dart at the board, from where I'm sitting, all the way across the other side of the room. I'm drunk, I'm messing about. And yeah, I know it's stupid to throw sharp objects around, but when you've had a few pints, who really gives a shit, right?

And then I feel something -- I dunno -- click -- inside me, just as the dart leaves my hand. It hits the bullseye. And the crowd goes wild...


But one pattern is clear from the beginning: it only ever happens the first time. Just the first time. After that, I have to rely on my normal talents, and they aren't exactly up there, know what I mean?


Beautiful, perfect, amazing Gwen. I fall like a rock, and -- maybe it was my power, I don't know -- but somehow she falls for me too. And we're perfect together. We talk together. We laugh, endlessly. She gets on with all my mates, God help her. I even like her parents, and bizarrely enough, they like me too. God looks down and smiles on us. And then we make love -- and it is making love, something I never really did before with anyone, even before my powers.


But then -- then it's the second time, and it's -- ordinary. The earth still moves, I mean, if I wasn't constantly comparing it to the first time, it would seem pretty special to me. But I feel sick inside, as if I've cheated her somehow, and I try to find the words to apologise. She just laughs at me, holds me tight, says, "Shut up, you fool. It was wonderful. Christ Ted, it can't be completely perfect, every time."


So I bought a gun today, and I spent an hour polishing it, and cleaning it, and making sure that everything was in full working order.

'Cos you know, I've never tried to kill myself before.

And I want to be sure and get it exactly right.

First time.

  • Wow. I see why this was hard to find. Now I can stop trying :-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 7 '15 at 2:15

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