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AngelofSnow's Journal - Everything is prettier from the outside
Fan Fiction, Fandom, Reviews, and a Healthy Dose of Squee
After the Past Fades - Chapter 3: Comfort in Unexpected Places 
28th-Nov-2006 01:52 am
After the Past Fades
Title: After the Past Fades
Verse: X-Men movieverse
Timeline: post X-Men: The Last Stand
Author: angelofsnow
Pairing: Magneto/Mystique
Rating: Eventual M
Disclaimer: I don’t own the X-Men. I am not making any money off of this.
Summary: AU, The Cure is permanent. How will Magneto and Mystique deal with being human? Magneto's on the run from the FBI and Mystique has a grudge to settle with him. Can they work out their differences after he abandoned her? 

Dedication: To genkaishihan because she’s been sticking with her NaNoWriMo and I have the greatest respect for her.
Notes: Yup, I took forever writing this. My apologies.
Chapter Three: Comfort in Unexpected Places
The police took no chances after Mystique’s violent escape attempt. As a wanted terrorist recently responsible for one homicide and one assault, she was kept under constant guard by two federal marshals. Mystique’s health needed to be monitored for another two days to be assured the Cure and the shock of the taser gun did her no harm. She remained in the hospital, both her hands and feet bound. She was thoroughly drugged into heavy sedation. After the death and injury of two of their own, the nurses and doctors rarely bothered her. She slept the peaceful sleep of the drugged until she was roused by several FBI officers prepared to take her away.
The FBI and Department of Defense were eager to have Mystique as a witness. They knew Magneto was gearing up for an assault against humans but they didn’t know his target or what the capabilities of his assembled army would be. Mystique’s testimony was vital. No longer a mutant, abandoned by her leader, they hoped the new Mystique, nay Raven Darkholme, would be softened up and ready to talk.
Mystique had no clothes when she was brought to the hospital; she left in orange prison garb, her wrists and ankles chained. She was actually a little happy to be restrained. At least they respected her this time. She’d hated the idea that they thought her weak now that she was a human.
Mystique left the hospital seated in a wheelchair, well restrained, and surrounded by six FBI agents, two with their weapons drawn, safeties off. It was good to know they still considered her a threat. But she wasn’t planning to escape at that moment. Not only were the odds highly against her, but the fight had been taken out of her. She was a human now, not a mutant. And even the valium still running through her system couldn’t dull the gut-wrenching effect the information had on her.
She needed to know what she was going to do before she tried to escape again. She needed a plan. She needed to know where she would go. The Brotherhood had abandoned her. How could she run away if she didn’t know where she was running to? Next time she made to escape, she wasn’t going to go off half-cocked.
Best to learn what information she could from the FBI agents.
“Where am I going?”
“Jail.” The FBI agent said pithily. He must have been told not to flirt with her; his eyes never turned from straight ahead of him. The gun toting female marshal beside him gave Mystique a nasty look as though to say ‘You’re not allowed to talk.’
“Very funny. Where?”
The male FBI agent looked back at his armed female companion and she shook her head.
Mystique would learn nothing from them.
From the hospital, Mystique was transported in a government van. She watched the highway signs faithfully to garner information about her location. The shoulder of highway was desolate: evergreen trees and fields left fallow. She was in a rural, forested area, but beyond that the foliage was too nondescript to judge. The signs were no more helpful: names of small towns she’d never heard of.
After riding for what felt like two hours, Mystique saw signs indicating an airport. It was one she’d never heard of the name. That meant it had to be a small regional airport. Mystique spent the rest of the ride conjecturing on where her flight destination was likely to be. The Federal agents indicated she was likely to end up in a federal pen. The only thing Mystique knew about her location was that she was probably somewhere in the Northwest. That meant her prison had to be to the East or South. Not much to go on.
“Where am I headed? Guantanamo Bay?” Her voice sounded dry and unused. The valium still making her words come out rushed.
The Federal agents sitting in front of her looked at each other but said nothing. She turned to look at the agents behind her, but they turned their heads away and did not meet her eyes.
For some reason they didn’t want her to know where she was going. Come to think of it, no one had read her the Miranda rights or charged her with any crime. They hadn’t even questioned her about her escape attempt or the death of Dr. Jarvis. But then again, she had already been a prisoner when she came to the hospital. Still this didn’t seem like normal procedure. It stank something rotten.
Fucking Patriot Act.
The plane ride was a little more helpful.
After being padded down twice by the TSA, Mystique was escorted by two different agents to the departures gate. One agent was a middle-aged Hispanic man in good shape. The other was a heavy set young Caucasian man who kept thumbing through two girly rags he’d bought at the newspaper stand, paying little or no attention to Mystique, his prisoner.
She knew she ought to make a break for it now. The heavy agent was distracted. And if she hit the middle-aged one quickly enough he would go down without a fight. The orange prison garb would be minor hindrance, but the airport was bound to have only a small security staff. If she hit the first guard with a two-fisted blow to the back of the neck…
But what was the point? She was human. She couldn’t morph. She couldn’t escape. And if she did, she had nowhere to go. And no one would help her. Even Erik wouldn’t help – No, don’t think about that. Think about anything but that.
Mystique scanned the departures board furiously. And since there were only two flights scheduled in the next hour, it wasn’t hard for Mystique to learn she was bound for Washington, D.C. That made sense. Federal agents, D.C. … All the pieces were falling into place. She wasn’t just going back to prison; they were taking her to the capital to be interrogated. Either FBI or DoD. Last time she’d been kept in a secret location and never tried for any crime. But this time she had no leverage with the Brotherhood. No terrorist ties. They would have to give her a trial. She hoped. If it was DoD they could still lock her away forever and throw away the key.
Mystique’s head kept spinning around in circles as she boarded the plane. She tried to guess which route the government would take. They could keep her as a terrorist suspect and hold her against her will indefinitely. Or now that she was no longer a threat, they could release her into the general prison population. In which case, any future escape became much easier.
The thing that worried Mystique the most was how little she cared which fate would be hers.
“Are you comfortable?” It was the Hispanic agent. He politely asked her the question as they settled into their seats in first class. “I can put your seat back and then clamp your restraints in. Or do you want to remain upright?”
Mystique was taken aback by her wishes even being considered. She wasn’t used to it. It took her a while to answer.
“Upright is fine.” The agent strapped her in.
“Is this too tight?”
“Yes.” The agent readjusted the handcuffs and ankle restraints that bound her to the seat, making them a little less tight, allowing her a few more inches of free movement.
Meanwhile the heavy agent sat in the row in front of them, oblivious to their interaction. He was already ordering food from the flight attendant.
Mystique looked over at the agent who had shown her some kindness.
“You know I could kill you in less than two seconds with my cuffs this loose.” Her face was blank and her tone factual.
“I know. I read your file.”
“Then why risk it?”
“I trust you.”
Mystique laughed.
“I’m surprised you’ve survived this long. One day a prisoner you trust is going to snap your neck.”
“I know you won’t try to escape. I’ve read your file.”
“If you’ve read my file you know I killed a doctor only two days ago.”
“A doctor who was an anti-mutant bigot. If you didn’t try to run back in the terminal when you had a better chance of escaping, you’re not going to try on board an aircraft at 30,000 feet.”
Mystique looked over at the agent. It wasn’t like the government to hire someone who was smart. The agent gave her a friendly smile.
“I’m Agent Menendez.”
“Excuse me if I don’t shake hands.” Mystique raised her cuffed hand. She turned her head away to look out the window next to her. She disliked pleasantries. The agent’s manner unsettled her for some reason. She wasn’t used to people being kind to her without wanting something in return.
“And your name is Mystique.”
Mystique turned back to look at her hand. The skin was soft, unblemished, and delicately pink. She had no calluses on her palm or the pads of her fingers. Her face betrayed no emotion as she looked up at Agent Menendez.
“Not anymore. It’s Raven Darkholme.”
“It said in your file you only go by Mystique and woe to anyone who called you by, as you put it, your ‘slave name.’”
“That was before. I’m not Mystique anymore.”
“Fair enough.” Agent Menendez looked away for a second. His lips shifted into a frown and he shook his head. He had read her file, so he knew exactly how she had lost her mutation and the name Mystique. “Can I get you anything from the flight attendant?”
“If it’s any condolence, I’m sorry about what happened to you. The Cure wasn’t meant to be a weapon.”
Mystique chuckled.
“Do you tell yourself that so you can sleep at night?”
Agent Menendez didn’t answer for a few moments. He appeared to be genuinely considering Mystique’s question. She was surprised with him.
“It wasn’t the right thing to do. Using the Cure as a weapon. Most of the government agrees it’s not ethical to use it like that. But some of the men in power… they can be ruthless about getting what they want. And right now they’re trying to cover their asses.”
For the first time Mystique really looked at Agent Menendez. He was smart, intuitive, and kind hearted. But he was troubled also. She was an expert at reading people, learning everything about them in a mere glance. And Agent Menendez was easy to read. She knew by the lines on his forehead, the tired slump of his shoulders, that he suffered under an unspoken burden.
“Why are you sympathetic to mutants?”
“They deserve the same rights as anyone else.” Menendez answered too quickly, as though he had memorized the phrase and repeated it a thousand times before. But Mystique knew when someone was lying. She did it so often herself it was second nature to her. But for everyone else, lying took effort. And she noticed that effort.
“What’s the real reason?”
Menendez hesitated, glancing at his partner in front of him. The heavy agent was suitably distracted, with ear phones over his head watching the in flight movie Ice Age 2: The Meltdown. Menendez’s voice dropped notably lower.
“My daughter…”
“I see. What’s her mutation?”
“She has enhanced vision. She can see everything on a microscopic level and far away, such as stars in the sky like a telescope.” Agent Menendez looked into Mystique’s grey eyes. Mystique’s face, so often cold and expressionless softened. “But she’s unhappy. She’s 14, and she wants to take the Cure to fit in with the other kids at school. They taunt her and ostracize her. Even her teachers treat her unfairly.”
Mystique didn’t answer for a moment, reigning in the violent hatred of the Cure that swelled within her. It was difficult not to let it blind her. She wanted to tell him that his daughter should never take the Cure under any circumstances, but she owed Menendez more than that. She owed him the respect to think about his daughter’s situation rationally. He had been kind to her, when no else, not even Erik had. Oh god, Erik!
Mystique physically winced just thinking about him. She let on a deep breath of pain and anger as she felt her chest tighten at the mere mention of her former lover, leader, and friend.
Menendez noticed her pain.
“Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” Mystique steadied herself and began shortly, “Mutants face a very different world out there. Our lives are… terrible at best. But our gifts, our mutations, there’s a reason we have them. We’re a product of nature, not a disease to be cured. Your daughter is young, Agent Menendez. When she’s older she could regret giving away her gift. Tell her to wait. If she still feels the same she can take it when she’s older.”
“Thank you.”
“When I was her age I would have given anything not to be a mutant.” It was Menendez’s turn to be shocked.
Their conversation did not continue after that. Menendez was polite enough to get Mystique a drink from the flight attendant’s tray. She ignored it. She was lost in faded memories of her youth. The silent pain of kids’ taunting her at school. The hollow, empty feeling of the day the school principal said she could not continue to attend high school. The way her father had looked at her before he tried to kill her. He had been no Agent Menendez, asking for advice from other mutants.
And with those memories came the worst memory of all: the way Erik had saved her from all that.
Mystique was nudged away by Agent Menendez after the plane landed. She had done something she would have thought impossible: slept peacefully surrounded by strangers, vulnerable and bound. It had to have been the valium, she told herself.
All the other passengers had disembarked by the time Mystique was escorted off the plane. The two agents flanked her as she entered the arrivals area.
A crowd surged forward and lights flashed at her. Everywhere were video cameras, journalists, and microphones thrust in front of her like a tsunami wave.
“Mystique, is it true Magneto broke up with you?”
“Ms. Darkholme were you in a relationship with Mr. Lensherr?”
“How does it feel to be cured of your mutantcy? Any plans?”
Notes: I make way, way too many references to America’s War on Terror. Forgive me. Also I wanted to break the stereo type in X-Men that all humans are completely non-understanding to mutant feelings and needs. So I created a character that at least tries to do the right thing: Agent Menendez. What do you think? Too much description or not enough description? Do I have the right balance of dialogue and exposition? And do Mystique’s feelings in this chapter sound believable and in character?
Preview: Will Mystique answer the reporters? What will happen to Mystique’s freedom? Is she going to jail for life?
Thoughts & Comments 
28th-Nov-2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
Yaaay, a new chapter at last *cough isn´t the fastest to update either cough*
I didn´t think there were too many references to the war against terror, I thought it fit well with the storyline. You seem to think about it just the way I do. *sharpens her darts to throw them at a photo of George W. Pinned to her dartboard* I think it also makes the story more realistic, so, you should keep it that way. Me likes.
Awww, so feeling with Mystique and how she thinks about Erik. I can´t wait to see what happens when the meet again... will they meet again? *stares* And I think you did a great job on that new character. Good idea to put him in! :-)
So... what more to say. What about... More!! ;-)
10th-Dec-2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I was against Bush from day one. I wanted his opposer to win.

We'll find out more about Mystique's feelings in the next chapter which I'm writing tonight. Yay! Mystique and Magneto will meet again.
13th-Dec-2006 03:16 am (UTC)
So many moons later - here's my review :)

First of all, feel free to reference the War on Terror as much as you want. Damn Patriot Act was almost my favorite part of the chapter. Seriously lol and yet so tragically true. I also loved the end with the paparazzi. I have always imagined that all our favorite super heroes are serious tabloid fodder. I mean come on. So, that was really great.

Agent Menendez. What do you think?
I liked him - I think I would have liked him even more if he didn't have a mutant daughter, but that didn't take away from his character, it just seemed a little pat. There are some humans in X-comics who care but you're right that they seem few and far between (it's a discussion I have with my husband a lot 'cause in Marvel all the super heroes are involved with each other and in DC they're all involved with ordinary people, but I digress).

Too much description or not enough description? Do I have the right balance of dialogue and exposition?
I think you have a much better handle on it than I do. Dialogue is sooooooo much easier to write. And honestly, it's easier to read. I am a very fast reader and sometimes I actually miss long paragraphs...I just jump over them and don't even realize it until I'm halfway through a sentence that doesn't match up with the last. Anyway, so I like dialogue. But I also like sentences like this one: Mystique’s head kept spinning around in circles as she boarded the plane. It's descriptive but also moves the action along.

And do Mystique’s feelings in this chapter sound believable and in character?Well, as we've said before, Mystique is not herself and perhaps is not anybody. She's trying to figure out who she is and who she wants to be. The thing that worried Mystique the most was how little she cared which fate would be hers. That's such a good sentence. Here's why: it says two things at once, 1) she doesn't care what happens to her but 2) she cares enough to worry that she doesn't care. Mystique is running in circles, she doesn't know what she wants really, she's lost. I think it's very believable.

I'm really enjoying this story. I adore Rebecca's Mystique, she's so strong and unabashed - and then in X3 she ends up so vulnerable...the exact opposite of what she was. So there's a lot there and I'm glad you're using it (cause the movie people sure didn't).
14th-Dec-2006 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yay, a review and you gave it a lot of thought so I'll reply back with a lot of thought too.

My liberal views shine through in small hints throughout my stories, especially involving the War on Terror since technically our beloved Brotherhood are terrorists. I try to keep it toned down because I feel like X-Men stories should be mostly apolitical. They're for enjoyment not to preach. I respect people who try to teach others through their writing, but I'm not like that. The moral of all of my stories is: Erik is hot. I'm betting most X-Men fans are pretty liberal. Something just tells me that. But I try not to take it for granted.

Tabloid fodder I like to imagine X-Men taking place in a very realistic, commericalized world just like real life. I saw one of Osama Bin Laden's wives or mistresses interviewed on TV and it inspired me to imagine that Mystique would be received with the same aversion and interest by the media. I was not planning on Mystique giving an interview or anything like that. But now that I think about that it would be a mighty funny scene. Hmm...

Agent Menendez I'm working mostly on movie canon as I don't like to mix much comic canon with movie canon in a movie story. And in the movies I believe the count of humans sympathetic to mutants is, maybe, 1 or 2. All the humans seem fearful or intolerant. So I was just happy that Agent Menendez was nice. But now that I've thought about it... you're so right. It would be a lot better if he didn't have a daughter. It would make his feelings much more complex. I agree with you one hundred percent.

The one advantage of him having a daughter was the line that revealed there was a time Mystique really didn't want to be a mutant. That's going to come up again in the story and we're going to see it in the flashback. In my characterization of Mystique that's an important point that I don't want us to miss.

Dialogue vs. Description For me description is so much easier to write. And most of my description moves the plot. My dialogue, at least in my opinion, is hit and miss. Sometimes I get it right and other times I fall flat on my face. Check out my old story Healing found here: http://angelofsnow.livejournal.com/18726.html#cutid1

I go sometimes 6000 words without a line of dialogue. It's crazy. But someone gave me some constructive criticism on that point and I'm trying to stick to it.

Thanks so much for your review. Now I've really got to try and write a fourth chapter.
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