for introducing me to a new pairing and building it up from scratch all by herself. Her dedication and hard work are inspiring.
Notes: In the next few chapters we’ll hear Mystique’s story immediately following her abandonment. Look for my attempt to add depth to Mystique’s character which throughout the movies and comics has been, for lack of a better word, mutable.
Chapter Two: Anger Does the Body Good
Mystique ignored the 13in hospital TV screen with open disdain. Watching the pitiful mutants throwing away their genetic gift was insufferable. There were a few people with the right idea, Cure protestors, but for every protestor there were three dumb saps waiting in line to receive the drug. Mystique couldn’t watch them do it. She couldn’t watch as each lost, confused mutant let the humans steal their life from them.
Mystique couldn’t watch them take the Cure because there was a time many years ago when it might have been her in that line, desperate to be human, to be normal again. That was before she’d met Erik. Before he’d taught her to value herself and what she was capable of. And now… now it hurt to think about Erik. She didn’t want to remember him or the fact that she was now a human. She used the remote to shut off the TV despondently. She didn’t know what she would do if she was stuck like this. She could only pray it was temporary and sleep.
Mystique awoke a few hours later to the squeaky sound of a nurse’s sneakers. The windows outside revealed a black night sky. It was evening. She must have slept through most of the day. That was probably for the best.
The nurse was short and pudgy and dressed in lavender hospital scrubs. She was plain looking and seemed tired which contrasted with the irritatingly bright smile she never took off. She studied Mystique’s chart for a few moments, scanning it with quick eye movements.
“You’re due some medicine honey. Says here you took the Worthington Mutation Cure this morning.”
“Yes.” Best not to explain, Mystique thought to herself. She’d be out of here in the morning, after she found out from the Doctor if her condition was transitory.
“You’re the first patient I’ve seen who has taken it. How are you holding up?”
“I’m fine.” Mystique said, refusing to elaborate further on her physical or emotional state.
“That’s good. Some patients can be a little disoriented at first. But you look very well. You’ve got no visible signs of mutation. You look perfectly human.”
Mystique didn’t let on how deeply the nurse’s words cut her. The last term she had ever wanted to hear describe her was ‘human’. On instinct she morphed out of her disguise back into her blue form, only to remember that that power was denied her now. When she attempted to control the look and shape of her form, her head hurt a little and nothing happened. Her mutation was gone.
The nurse was oblivious to Mystique’s growing rage and produced a small plastic pill cup with two orange colored pills.
“These are immunosuppressants. You’ll need to take them for three days to make sure your body doesn’t reject the Cure.”
“I don’t want them.” The nurse didn’t miss the edge to Mystique’s voice.
“They’re for your own safety honey. Best you take them.”
“The Cure may not work if you don’t. You’ll turn back into one of those mutant creatures. Says on your chart you were blue and scaly.”
“I want to be a mutant.”
The Nurse’s enduring smile pursed a bit, but prevailed. “I’ll leave a note for Psych to talk to you tomorrow, but tonight you’re following the doctor’s orders and taking these pills.”
The nurse tried to hand Mystique the cup of pills only to realize she couldn’t take it. Her hands were cuffed to the bed railings.
“What did you do?” The Nurse’s smile was gone and she spoke accusatorially.
“I fought for mutant rights. I fought against prejudice humans like you.”
That gave the Nurse some pause, but didn’t faze her for long. Years’ worth of inborn prejudice wasn’t going to be challenged so easily. Her beliefs weren’t even shaken. But her smile did fade. And to Mystique that was victory enough.
“I’m going to administer these meds and Psych will talk with you in the morning.” The nurse pulled latex gloves out of a drawer near Mystique’s bed. She used one gloved hand to pry Mystique’s mouth open; the other to pop the pills in. Mystique, chained to the bed, struggled only shortly, choosing instead to maintain her dignity.
The nurse held out a cup of water. “Drink this down.”
Mystique glared at her with her newly grey eyes, no longer yellow, but filled with every bit as much venom. The Nurse bent down to hold the water cup to her lips.
Mystique waited till she was right in front of her face and then spit the pills back at her. The Nurse shut her eyes and backed away. She dropped the cup of water and wiped Mystique’s spittle off her forehead. The Nurse fled from the room, her smile reduced to an angry scowl much to Mystique’s enjoyment.
At the doorway the Nurse stopped and said, “Pysch will be here in the morning to talk with you.”
The meeting with Psychology was rather fun for Mystique. A nurse, a different one, awoke her at 5AM for her meeting. Likely a bit of revenge since the psychoanalyst didn’t stop by her room until 7. He was a 45 year old man, with a beard and a nasal voice. Mystique instantly found him condescending and trite. He kept asking her generalized questions about her identity as a mutant and her anti-human sentiment. She refused to answer and remained silent no matter how many times he pressed her. Every time she didn’t answer he wrote himself a note on a yellow legal pad.
Once he realized she wasn’t going to break down and open up he decided he would tell her his findings from the little he knew about her which he’d gleaned from her government file. He suggested her father might be responsible for her rebellious streak. He felt that she had a father complex and that explained Magneto’s influence over her. Then he had the gall to conclude she was stunted at an adolescent emotional maturity level from abandonment by her parents.
Although he was a blatant idiot, Mystique let the man go unharmed. He had been very entertaining for a typically prejudice human. As for her mental state, Mystique knew exactly what it was: scared, depressed, and angry with a touch of homicidal violence.
Waiting for Dr. Jarvis to return with her DNA test results was agonizing. Hours passed and Mystique was getting anxious. She was chained to the bed with nothing to take her mind off her situation and she didn’t like it. The last thing she wanted to do was think about what she would do if she was permanently a human. She didn’t want to think about the change it would bring in her life.
She focused instead on the immediate, the practical. And that meant escape. Once she knew her test results she was getting out of this hospital and out of police custody. The first step was freeing herself from her chains. She had to get out of the handcuffs. They’re attached to the bed railings, but the bed railings can be raised or lowered. That means they can be removed as well. But how?
Mystique was exceptionally cunning and amazingly flexible. Using only her feet and the wheeled IV stand next to her bed she pulled over a wheeled bed stand of drawers. Using her toes she opened the drawers which were filled with medical supplies. The bottom drawer was empty. A patient’s personal effects would be stored there. But she had been brought in with nothing. Left with nothing by Erik. No, don’t think about him.
She searched through the drawers with her feet, straining her neck to see what was inside. Nothing looked very promising for unscrewing the bed railings. She was about to give up before she saw a flash of reflection. There was a mirror in the fourth drawer down. Her toes picked it up and angled it to where she could see the bed railings from the side.
There in bold letters a big white and yellow safety sticker read: “TO LOWER RAILINGS: PULL LEFT AND PUSH DOWN. TO DETACH RAILINGS: PULL TOWARDS YOU.”
Mystique could have cried for joy! Humans were just as incompetent as ever. No jail would hold her for long! She wanted to pop the railings to see if they did indeed detach but thought better of it when she realized how much noise it would make. She used the TV remote control to flick on the TV and turned the volume up. Best to drown out the sound for safety. Her activities were fairly exposed in the hospital room. There was no door.
A commercial blared and then a moment later the main program came on. But it was 11am and the program was none other than ABC’s “The View”. Mystique heard the shrill jabbering of the hands-down most annoying women on television.
“Not this show. Anything but this.” She stopped her work on the railing to switch channels.
The railings did indeed pop off when pushed away from Mystique (or towards an attending nurse or doctor.) That meant Mystique was free to go when she pleased, but she would still be carrying the railings around as her handcuffs were firmly attached. She had to get them off. She remembered seeing syringe needles in one of the drawers. They would work as a lock pick if she was lucky.
She was an expert at covert ops and even the art of lock picking did not escape her. These were standard police handcuffs, some of the easiest to pick yet they eluded her. The needle was an awkward lock pick in her chained hands and she fought with the metal to release her.
By the time her right hand was free the metal handcuffs were driving her crazy. The last thing she needed right now was a piece of cold unfeeling metal encircling her wrist. The entire material of metal was tainted by association with Erik. And she didn’t want anything around her that reminded her of him. She wanted to forget he had ever existed.
She worked furiously at the left handcuff chaining her to the left bed railing. She was growing impatient and she wanted to flee this hospital soon. Just as soon as she learned those test results. She stopped suddenly when she heard her name on TV.
“The department of Homeland Security reports that the known anti-human terrorist Mystique remains in custody after a failed escape attempt yesterday. Mystique is a minor member of the ‘Brotherhood of Mutants’. The FBI’s most wanted suspect Magneto was part of the escape plot which was foiled by new technology. Mystique remains in police custody. Republicans are claiming this as a victory for their increased funding of defense and homeland security.”
It was the 12 o’clock news program reporting on her. And they called her a minor member of the Brotherhood! Minor! She had been Erik’s second-in-command. And the escape hadn’t been a failed one: Erik had added Juggarnaut and Multiple Man to the Brotherhood’s ranks. How did the news get off reporting such total falsehoods.
Mystique shut off the TV in disgust again and went back to picking the lock that bound her. If she had her way, she would have every human killed. Erik should have been successful when he was using Xavier to kill them all. The world would be a better place in her opinion. Humans were insipid, cruel, unfeeling creatures bent on suppressing minorities, spreading hate, and generally pissing her off. She’d be happy to see them all dead. Even though she was now one of them.
By the time Dr. Jarvis stopped by Mystique was carefully prepared. Her handcuffs were unlocked but remained on her wrists for show. Her IV needle was pulled out of her arm. The blanket was strategically draped over her arm and hands so as not to arouse suspicion.
“How are you feeling today Ms. Darkholme?”
She wanted to correct him and tell him her name was Mystique, but she wasn’t sure of it anymore. Was she still the mutant Mystique or was she only Raven Darkholme?
“I’m fine. What were my test results?” She was dying to know. He smiled at her.
“They turned out just fine. Your body has reacted well to the Cure and I can say with confidence that there’s little chance of your mutation returning. You should be able to live a completely normal life.”
Under the blanket and sheets her hands balled into fists and she bit her lip to keep from screaming.
“But it’s reversible right? Tell me it’s reversible.”
“No, your diseased DNA has been replaced with healthy DNA. It should provide you with a permanent-”
He was standing in the right spot again and this time Mystique did not hesitate. Her foot whacked him firmly in the crotch and he crumbled to the floor. She slid her wrists from the unlocked handcuffs and leaped from bed to land behind him. Her hands grasped his head and jaw, a quick snap broke his neck.
“Mutation isn’t a disease,” she whispered in the dead man’s ear. “We’re the cure for human flaws.”
She caught herself. It wasn’t ‘we’ anymore when she spoke of mutants. As Erik had said she wasn’t one of them anymore. And she never would be again. Damn the humans. Damn Erik. Damn the Cure. Damn everything.
Tears threatened to spill down her cheeks but she took a few deep breathes and held herself together. She was close to freedom now; she could smell it. She’d think about this later.
Without the ability to morph into the Doctor’s body, Mystique was forced to undress him and use his clothes as her own. Everything was too big on her but she thought it looked decent enough for a quick escape. Dr. Jarvis’ white coat, badge, and stethoscope added rank, if no one looked too closely she would walk right out the hospital. The key was to appear as though she belonged.
Leaving her room she walked calmly and slowly past the receptionist’s desk, not sparring him a glance. Dr. Jarvis’ long pants covered the fact that she had no shoes to wear. Mystique thought she could feel eyes watching her. She did her best to keep calm. Disguise was much less nerve wracking when you could become the person you were pretending to be.
With slow paced steps she walked down the wide, white hospital halls. She knew from the view out her hospital window that she was several stories up. Mystique looked for a way down as she pretended to knew where she was going. There an elevator and stairs. Best to take the elevator. It arouses less suspicion.
She pressed the button and waited, hands folded politely in front of her. She was a doctor at this hospital. She was going down in the elevator to check on her patient. She worked here. It was a day like any other. Nothing to be nervous about. Reciting this over and over in her mind helped to keep her calm. The elevator was agonizingly slow.
Where the hell is this elevator?
The doors finally slide open to reveal another occupant. An African American male surgeon in blue hospital scrubs. She stepped inside and was careful to appear tired and at ease, just like any other doctor would be.
“Yes, first floor.”
“Err...” he stuttered, “Main level or lobby?”
“Lobby.” She laughed. That was a bad slip. Why didn’t she look at the floor lettering on the elevator control?
“You must be new.” He laughed and smiled with her. He’s flirting with me. She looked him up and down. He’s not bad looking. Rather handsome. Not Erik, but…
“I’m just here to assist on a case. The cured mutant. I’m a genetic therapy specialist.”
“Ahh. I’m Dr. Reeves. You can call me Ted.” He extended his hand and she shook it.
“I’m Amanda. Dr. Amanda Bennington.” His eyes narrowed.
“That’s not what your badge says.”
Fuck! The shock was evident on her face. She struggled to recover and laughed nervously, but he had caught her.
“I’m sorry. I just don’t like getting picked up in elevators. So I gave you a fake name.” It was the best cover she could manage under the circumstances. I really, really miss my mutation.
“You’re not Dr. Jarvis. I know Dr. Robert Jarvis.” His hand shot out and he pushed a button the elevator. “Security! Security!”
A man she had been ready to flirt with only moments ago, Mystique was now quite ready to kill if she had to. She pushed him back into the solid wall of the elevator and bashed his head against it until he lost consciousness. She couldn’t believe he’d seen through her disguise so easily. She had thought she was a good liar.
She stopped the elevator immediately. It was at the main level and not lobby but she had to move. She had to gain ground and get away from where the surgeon’s alert signal to security had come from.
She was prepared to run when the doors of the elevator opened. And she would have. If not for the three guards with revolvers pulled and aimed at her. They closed in on her tightly and she considered how many she could take down before one could get a shot off. At least one, maybe two. But the third guy…
A fourth appeared from around the corner holding a taser gun.
“Stand down or I’ll be forced to stun you.”
Mystique sneered at him. They weren’t prepared to shoot a pretty human woman with real guns. All the better. Maybe I can make an escape.
“Go ahead shock me you bastard. I can take the pain.”
It was excruciating but Mystique ripped the electrodes off long before they paralyzed her. The 50,000 volts had run threw her body for three seconds and slowed her significantly. Five seconds later her face was pressed against the floor as the security guards cuffed her again.
Psycix: Thanks. I know it’s hard to ship M/M after X3. But we keep trying.
: You are the absolute sweetest Chip. Just like your name sake.
I started with Magneto/Rogue because I’ve always been a Magneto fan and a Rogue fan so the pairing was a natural favorite for me. But kumadapuma
helped me to see how interesting a character Mystique can be and I’ve become a big Mystique fan. She’s got a mean streak and she’s sort of a femme fatal. She’s a little selfish and she passionately defends her own rights. So little of Mystique’s character is seen in the movies. Like most of the more minor characters she doesn’t get enough screen time for us to really understand her. And that originally was a fact that kept me from liking the character. But then I realized that just left Mystique more open for interpretation and I was instantly attracted to her. I’m so happy someone checks my profile page. Yay!
: I totally understand you being upset over your favorite pairing being treated so heinously in X3. I’m not sure if I have a favorite OTP in X-Men. I just sort of adore Magneto with any character. I know that I cried for several days when Carth and Revan didn’t end up together in Kotor 2. It affected me greatly. There’s supposed to be a Kotor 3, but it’s only rumor.
I have a few actually original ways of justifying Erik’s abandonment of Mystique. I’m introducing several novel concepts (as in I don’t think they’ve been done before) to soften the blow. And then I’ve spent an inordinate about of time ruminating on what Erik was thinking in that prison when he turned his back on her. I think I can do the scene some justice. A thousand people have already wrote it, so I have to hope no one has written it like this before.
And I’m working hard on my Mystique characterization. It’s clearly one of the biggest challenges in this story. So little is known about her and so much of this story is carried by Mystique.
As for the doctor… well all humans are portrayed as almost universally ignorant and prejudice in X-Men. Humans are always the enemy it seems. The doctor is a stock character. As are, basically everyone else from this chapter. But that will change very soon.
Notes: Dr. Jarvis was meant to be a take off of the proliferate and constant Lipitor ads featuring Dr. Robert Jarvik in the U.S. I have personally seen an ad for the drug Lipitor about 400 times. The random surgeon at the end reminded me greatly of someone off of Grey’s Anatomy but I resisted out rightly naming him Preston Burke. Although I do love Burke.
Preview: The repercussions of Mystique’s failed escape. She is released back to police custody. But someone comes to her rescue. Who could it be? Find out in the next episode of After the Past Fades.