As most post X3 stories involving Magneto and Mystique, this has some familiar ground to cover in the beginning, such as the truck scene. You’ve probably read stories that feature similar events and I do not mean to plagiarize other wonderful stories, such as Lynx Rider’s No Promises. It’s necessary to take the characters through a few of the same things before this story can diverge off in a very different direction.
Chapter One: Cold and Alone
All she really remembered of that day was the cold. The cold, unyielding metallic floor of the truck that had served as her prison. The cold of Erik’s rejection and her subsequent abandonment. Everything else that happened that fateful day seemed a blur. Taunting the security guard, thrilling when the moving fortress came to a screeching halt, killing him with her bare feet. Then the elation of finally seeing Magneto coming to her rescue. It all felt like a million years ago.
She’d lain on the floor, covering her body and shivering against the November chill for an indeterminable period of time. She knew she should move, try to run away. But she couldn’t will her body to do it. Besides her body didn’t even feel like her own. It was the foreign, soft, smooth, pale skin of a human. Her hair, once red and plated to her neck, now hung black and itchy in her face. She shivered trying to come to grips with what had happened. But her mind was still reeling.
She again tried to summon the strength to move but it was beyond her. She tried to cry in self-pity. She tried to hate Erik for leaving her like this. She tried to curse the humans for developing a Cure. But she was incapable of doing anything. All she could feel was shock and disbelief. She lay hopelessly on the hard, ice-cold floor and covered herself as best she could. She wrapped her arms around herself and lay on her stomach leaving her back to the crisp air. She did it more to keep warm than for modesty. She wasn’t capable of thinking about the implications of her newly pale skin yet. Everything in her life had changed and it had happened too fast.
A motorist passed the scene not long after the Brotherhood had left and made a cell phone call to 911. The police and EMTs arrived a few minutes later, but to Mystique, shell-shocked and alone, it could have taken hours. She had no sense of time anymore. She knew only that when the humans finally came she was chilled to the bone and gasping for breath. The cold air hurt her lungs as it went down.
When an EMT threw a scratchy wool emergency blanket over her, she was infinitely happy for it. She pulled it tightly around her shoulders to keep warm and ignored the strange looks the male EMTs gave her as they kneeled beside her. When they tried to help her up, she let them, too shaken to put up a struggle. Her stomach protested from being vertical, nauseated from the after effects of the Cure transforming her DNA. The EMTs escorted her to an ambulance and helped her onto the waiting stretcher. It all happened very quickly to something in a daze the way Mystique was.
The warmth from the ambulance’s heaters was delicious compared to the cold of the road. In the back of her mind she knew she should protest. She knew she shouldn’t accept human kindness and should never let mere humans help her. But she was so cold and her body didn’t respond to her mental rebellion. It was easier to lie on the foam of the stretcher and snuggle into her blanket. It was easier to fall asleep as she was transported to a local hospital.
Mystique awoke in a hospital room a few hours later; she was disoriented and confused. She tried to move her arms as she opened her eyes and found out she couldn’t.
She was handcuffed to a hospital bed with an IV stuck in her arm. Her mind raced to remember the events that had put her here: being ‘cured’ and Erik leaving her to freeze. Being reminded of her transformation and abandonment depressed Mystique deeply and she turned her head away in disgust, burrowing it into the uncomfortable hospital pillow.
A doctor was addressing her; waking her from her rest. Now he was blabbing on about the effects of the Cure on her mutant body. She ignored him.
Her head ached and her stomach felt queasy. She looked up at the handcuffs that held her to her bed. No doubt they had a guard stationed at her door as well. She was still a convicted terrorist after all. But this time the handcuffs were normal police ones, thin and cheaply made. They were nothing like the thick, electro-pulse shackles that had held her when she was a mutant. If she could just get to a small piece of metal… like the needle from the IV in her arm, she could pick the lock easily.
“Please Ms. Darkholme. We need to discuss your care.” It was the doctor again. He was in just the right spot. She could hit him where it hurt with her left foot followed by a blow to the head and he’d be out cold.
The Doctor gave up waiting for Mystique to pay attention to him and continued talking.
“I’m Dr. Jarvis and I’ll be your physician for the next few days. You were in shock and suffering from hypothermia after you were rescued.”
Nothing Mystique didn’t already know. She regarded the middle-aged white haired doctor with aversion as she plotted. After she knocked him unconscious she could use her toes to pull the IV out of her arm and unlock her cuffs. It would take her two minutes tops.
“I need to test you to make sure your Cure treatment was successful. Sometimes more than one dose is needed to ensure permanent-”
“It might not be permanent?” She turned and looked at the doctor, abandoning her plans to knock him unconscious.
“Don’t get me wrong. The Cure is 98% effective, but sometimes in the very young or in particularly powerful mutants it can take several doses to subdue the mutant X gene.”
Mystique looked hopeful. Maybe she had a chance to get her life back after all.
“I’m going to swab your cheek for a DNA sample and we’ll send it off to the lab. It should take about a day to get the results.”
Against her will, Mystique felt hope rise in her chest. She wasn’t all that powerful a mutant, only class 3, but she was healthy and in good shape. Maybe her body would reject the changes in time and purge the DNA from her system. She had to stick around the hospital long enough to find out what her chances were. She had to know if there was a way to reverse this travesty.
The doctor swabbed, checked her pulse and blood pressure then wrote the information down on a chart. Mystique submitted to it with no outward resistance but inside her anger was growing. Here in the hospital, smelling antiseptic with a needle in her arm she began to process just what had happened. Her mutation, no… her whole life had been stolen from her in the blink of an eye. And Erik, the one man she had trusted and loved had left her on the side of the road like a piece of trash. Now she was back in police custody, praying she wasn’t cured forever as a half-rate doctor, in a backwater town prodded her. His presence there: human and helpful, bothered her.
“Is there an antidote? Anyway to reverse the Cure’s effects? Can it fade with time?”
“Reverse it? Why in heaven would you want to do that? No, it’s usually a permanent change. In rare cases some mutation can return. We only have data on patients who’ve taken it a year ago or less. They’ve all had remarkable success on it.”
The Doctor continued checking her, and internally Mystique loathed every second with him. She hated his type that believed mutation was a disease that no one would want. She glared at him, but without yellow eyes, it was significantly less effective as usual.
“That reminds me. I should check you for side effects.”
“With all gene manipulation therapy there can be significant, but rare side effects. They’re usually uncommon, but we’ve seen things like rejection, genetic instability, non-replicable sequences, irregular blood-cell counts, increased risks of cancer, early onset of menopause, changes in thyroid function and reproductive function.”
“The Cure is poison.” Mystique looked down at her skin, pale and smooth, like it was the outward manifestation of hatred and prejudice. Her new human skin reminded her of Erik’s tattoo on his left forearm. Her eyes narrowed at the thought of him.
“Oh, no. It’s giving hope to millions of mutants. Haven’t you seen the news?” The good doctor’s chipper voice grated Mystiques frazzled nerves and she stared daggers at him. He ignored the palpable change in her demeanor and used the remote control to flick on a TV set in the hospital room. CNN came on and Anderson Cooper, white-haired just like the Doctor and Erik, was reporting from the scene of the Worthington Labs Alcatraz Research Facility.
Dr. Jarvis left her to watch the media coverage, taking the DNA sample with him. Mystique’s hopes rested on the tiny cheek swab. She desperately wished the Cure was temporary and soon she would be back to her old self. But until she knew… she had to bide her time and wait.
Notes: Give me some feedback. Is it too angsty or not enough? How’s Mystiques characterization? Tips, pointers, and constructive criticism always welcome. I promise starting in the next few chapters the story begins to radically diverge from any previous Magneto x Mystique stories you may have read.
Preview: Mystique learns her test results. Will she ever again be a mutant? Will she be incarcerated for her anti-human terrorism activities?