After the Past Fades
Title: After the Past Fades
Verse: X-Men movieverse
Timeline: post X-Men: The Last Stand
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.
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 the capabilities of his assembled army. 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 around. She'd hated the idea that they thought her weak now that she was human.
Mystique left the hospital seated in a wheelchair, well restrained, and surrounded by six FBI agents, two with their weapons drawn, and 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 Xanax 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 the 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 named after a man she didn't recognize. That meant it had to be a small regional airport or more likely a military one.
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 current 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 Xanax still making her words come out slurred.
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.
The van was checked at a security gate and pulled onto a small military base. Although Mystique had once studied the US military's various domestic bases of operation, nothing about this one looked familiar. Nondescript buildings and a lack of typical military equipment made it appear like a typical industrial park.
After being unloaded from the van, Mystique was escorted into a large empty warehouse that appeared to serve as an aircraft hangar. An impressive looking plane that resembled a smaller B-52 dominated the space. She was swiftly led to an office/waiting area in the back of the hanger.
There, she was greeted by two different agents. One agent was a middle-aged Hispanic man in good shape. The other was a heavy set young Caucasian man who sat at a desk in the corner. After Mystique was chained to a bench and her escort exited, the larger men reached into his desk and proceeded to thumb through two girly rags he'd kept hidden, 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 small base appeared to have only a light security contingent. 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.
As Mystique waited, more agents filtered into the waiting area. It was impossible to tell if they were Homeland Security or FBI or DoD as none were uniformed. As she listened to the agents banter and complain, 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 been kicked out of the Brotherhood. No mutant powers to endanger pathetic humans in the future. 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 the first row of the passenger area. A few more agents filled five of the thirty or so remaining seats. "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. She didn't use them.
Meanwhile, the heavy agent sat in the row across from them, oblivious to their interaction. He was already digging into some boxed food he had brought on board.
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."
"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," he interrupted her. If you didn't try to run back in the hangar 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; Scars that she had received over years of fighting mysteriously gone. 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."
The agent took a moment processing this information.
"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 to drink? They have coffee, water, and tea."
"No." She suddenly longed for some English breakfast tea, but didn't want to be helped to drink it through a straw with chained hands.
"If it's any condolence, I'm sorry about what happened to you. The Cure wasn't meant to be a weapon."
"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 across the aisle. The heavy agent was suitably distracted, with ear phones over his head listening to his iPod. Menendez's voice dropped notably lower.
"I see. What's her mutation?"
"She has enhanced vision. She can see everything on a microscopic level and far away, like the stars in the sky as though looking through 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 tease her and ostracize her. Even her teachers treat her unfairly. One claimed she used her enhanced vision to cheat on tests. "
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 out 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."
"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 cup of black tea from the galley. She ignored it. She was lost in faded memories of her youth: The day she told her parents her skin itched and showed them the first patch of blue scale. The silent way they had looked at her. The way the air stilled. The hollow, empty feeling of the day her mother had removed her from elementary school. The piercing way her mother had screamed when her father had tried to drown her in the bath tub. 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 awake by Agent Menendez after the plane landed. She had done something she would have never thought impossible: slept peacefully surrounded by strangers, vulnerable, and bound. It had to have been the Xanax, she told herself.
Before all the other passengers could disembark, Mystique was escorted off the plane. The two agents flanked her as she entered the arrivals area. They were met by an entire squad of armed FBI agents. Past the bland gift shops, she was led down an escalator and outside the terminal to a waiting squad car.
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 mutation? Any plans?"
Notes: I make way, way too many references to America's War on Terror. Forgive me. This was written in 2006. Bush was still president. Yikes. It is 2014 when I am updating this and I changed it so that Mystique travels via military plane to Washington DC. It seems more believable than letting a known mutant terrorist fly US Airways. I, also, adjusted her childhood memories to mesh a little better with the rebooted movies.
Preview: Will Mystique answer the reporters? What will happen to Mystique's freedom? Is she going to jail for life? Does she care?