Disclaimer: If these characters belonged to me, Brett Ratner wouldn’t be allowed within 100 yards of them.
Author’s note: I could have written up my reaction to X3 as a review, but I’d just be repeating things penknife and vagabondsal and a dozen others on my friendslist have already said. So instead I wrote flashfic expressing my deep need to comfort one particular character and feed her cookies. The comfort is a little doubtful and the cookies were lost in the mail, but I did manage to bring the femslash. God, I’m predictable.
“Nothing happens by chance, but by the foresight and wisdom of God.
If it seems like accident to us, that is only because we are blind.”
—Julian of Norwich (1342 - ca. 1413)
Raven’s lying on her bunk, and doesn’t bother to look up when the cell door opens. “What do you want?”
“I want you to come with me.”
“Another time. I’m not in the mood.”
“I’m not an interrogator, dear. I’m the cavalry. Come with me and be free.”
She can’t help but look up at that. Standing in the doorway is a woman in her late forties, maybe early fifties. More gray than brown in her Joan of Arc hair.
“You’re going to bust me out of here?”
“Yes. And I’ll answer all your questions, but you have twelve seconds to follow me or we’ll be caught.”
It’s a trick. It’s got to be.
“Do you have something to lose?” the woman asks.
Raven’s always been good at making quick decisions. She stands. “Let’s go.”
“Two seconds to spare,” the woman says, leading the way. “Welcome, Mystique.”
“Don’t call me that. It’s Raven now.”
“If you like. But you’ll change your mind soon.”
“Who are you?”
“A prisoner like you, despite these stolen clothes. A mutant.”
“Ex, you mean.”
“No, quite intact.”
“Then what are you doing in here with us cripples?”
“Oh, I’m not dangerous.”
It’s easy enough to believe. There’s nothing remarkable about her at all except the look of fanatical serenity in her clear blue eyes—the look you get from years of chanting and malnutrition and sleeping three hours a night on the floor of a cult compound. On second thought those eyes are a bit too blue, and it comes to Raven that the woman’s blind.
But she doesn’t look blind, as she moves down the corridor. She knows exactly where she’s going, and easily finds the right key on what Raven assumes is a stolen keyring to open another cell.
“Raven, this is my friend Speaker. Speaker, this is Mystique, who would like to be called Raven Darkholme for the next minute and forty-eight seconds.”
Raven sizes the girl up, which takes less than a second. Jailhouse hardness painted an eighth of an inch thick over about a hundred pounds of scared teenager. Her sleeves are rolled up to show off an attempt at muscles and an omega tattoo that Raven assumes is now a lie. She’s giving the older woman that look John used to give Erik, like she might be gay for her but hasn’t quite figured that out yet.
“Charmed,” Raven says.
“The camera up ahead is being monitored. May I trouble you two to walk as if you’re my prisoners? Holding your hands as if they were cuffed will be sufficient. The guard is quite distracted.”
They do as she says, though Raven isn’t quite sure why. They see no one and hear no alarms. When they come to a side passage the woman holds up a hand, stopping them, then motions them forward as if prompted by some unseen signal. Soon after the corridor makes a T, and the woman gestures at the wall. “If you will do the honors, Speaker.”
“I don’t know if I have enough power back yet.”
There’s so much confidence in the woman’s voice that no one could dream of failing her. The girl puts her palms to the wall and whispers to it, something like “be gone, be gone, be gone”—and just like that, a section of wall is missing. Only a puff of concrete dust to show where it had been.
“You were cured,” she says to the girl, who nods.
“I’m getting better.”
“It isn’t permanent?” Her heart is pounding.
“Please, Mystique. I know it’s important, but time is essential.” The woman catches her hand and pulls her through the hole in the wall. The ground outside is dusted with snow.
“Aren’t there dogs?” Mystique asks.
“They’re preoccupied by a stray cat.”
“The old tricks are the best.”
“Oh, it’s not my doing. I don’t control cats. Although that would be an amusing power. Speaker?”
The girl looks at the fence, joy on her face. “Tear!” she says, clawing the air with her hand as the fence flies apart, and Mystique’s heart could stop.
“Eighth of a mile to the edge of the forest and we’re free,” the girl says.
“You’re free now. You were free the moment you chose to follow me.”
The woman favors them both with a smile, and God help her but Mystique knows Class Five charisma when she sees it. She’s only met one other person who had that—no better word for it—magnetism. The woman’s possibly insane, but she could raise an army just by asking for it. Speaker would follow her off a cliff, and might just manage to believe enough to walk on air. And Mystique, oh God. Mystique could fall.
“You’re cold,” the woman says, and puts an arm around her shoulders. The warmth is welcome, and she leans against her. But then the woman is holding her tight, raising a hand to her hair; the touch is something more than friendly. Mystique pulls away.
“Forgive me. I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. It’s just that I’ve missed you so much.”
“I don’t know you. I don’t even know your name.”
“Irene on the lease agreement, Irenie in bed, Destiny in the New York Times. But my mutant name is Julian.”
“That’s a man’s name.”
Not just possibly but definitely insane; and somehow Mystique’s hooked up with another mutant fanatic with more charisma than common sense. Yeah, this’ll end well.
“Have faith, my dear,” the woman says, as if she could read Mystique’s thoughts.
They’re almost to the trees. The woman breaks into a run, stumbling and catching herself against the first trunk. She rubs her palms against the bark hard, as if they itched. Then she turns her back to the tree, as if being burned at the stake. She calls out in a singsong as Mystique approaches: “All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.”