To his shame, he almost forgets that she should know.
It's been years since he thought of her as anything other than an enemy. He had tried to forget the attraction there had been between them … the almost-romance that might have changed both their lives. Sometimes in his dreams he sees the young girl she had been—and in his dreams, he kisses her blue lips and tells her there's nothing wrong with her, that she's beautiful the way she is … and then he wakes up with the bitter memory of the words that he had actually said, the words that had destroyed something precious before it had a chance to begin.
For a genius, he had been a remarkably stupid young man.
He's older now, if not necessarily wiser. Whether it's due to his own mutation or the serum he had created from her blood, he's still physically in the prime of his life. He's lived to see almost everyone else from their time together age and die, but he's still here—and God willing, he might even live long enough to see Charles' dream become a reality.
He's certainly going to do his best to make it so.
He'd almost forgotten she had been there at the beginning. He had almost forgotten her connection to Charles. He'd almost let her remain ignorant …
After all, she had been Charles' enemy for decades. She had threatened him—threatened everything that Charles had stood for. She had tried to kill his students—even Hank himself—more than once over the decades.
Would she even care that Charles was gone?
In the end, he had decided that he owed it to her—not necessarily Mystique, the assassin, the infiltrator, the killer—but Raven, his friend and his almost-lover.
"Are you sure this is a good idea, Mr. Ambassador?" the warden had asked him when he had made his request. To his credit, the man had managed to look Hank right in the eye when he spoke to him—something that not all humans—and many of his fellow mutants—could do.
"No, Warden. I am not certain this is a good idea." Hank made a point of not smiling too often around anyone he didn't consider a friend—more than once the sight of his bared fangs had been taken as a sign of impending violence rather than jovial good will. "However, there are at least two people that I owe this sad duty to, and I will not shirk it."
"Very well, sir. We'll have cameras monitoring the room at all times. If you should need help, you will just have to ask." The Warden had grimaced. "She may have lost her powers, but she's still a very dangerous woman."
"Indeed she is, Warden." But she was not always so … damn you, Eric … and damn me for being a callous boy.
She's chained to the table when he comes in. Her eyes—her human eyes—sweep over him and her mouth turns down into a sign of disgust. "Do you have any idea how ridiculous you look wearing that suit?"
"Hello to you too, Raven."
"Mystique! I no longer answer to my slave name!" she hisses back.
"Yes. So I have heard."
They look at each other uncomfortably for a moment.
"You're not one of them, Beast. You shouldn't wear their clothes, answer to their rules. You should be wild and free."
"I am quite happy where I am, Mystique." It's not quite a lie—he does hate the way his clothing feels sometimes, but garments are the sign of a civilized man, and he is nothing if not civilized. "And you can call me Hank if you wish."
"That was a lifetime ago, Beast." She cocks her head and looks at him. "Why are you here? Have your slave masters ordered you here to try to get more information about the Brotherhood from me?"
"The Brotherhood is finished, Mystique."
"I've heard that before. Magneto will find a way to triumph. He always does."
"Eric's lost his powers. The cure was used on him."
"You lie! No human could POSSIBLY get close enough –"
"It wasn't a human."
Her eyes widen for a moment. "You?" She tries to jump over the table to attack him, all her formidable martial arts skills forgotten in the animalistic need to hurt him.
The chains bring her up short.
"It had to be done, Mystique. And isn't it an odd accusation coming from you? After all, didn't you supply the government with information about Eric's location?"
She flinches. "I was angry. He abandoned me."
"Yes." He reaches out to touch her cheek, but her eyes stop him. "I know."
"He'll still find a way to come back. No human invention can possibly steal Magneto's powers for long." She pauses. "Did you come to gloat, Hank?"
He notices the "Hank" and wonders if she realizes that she used it. One can never be sure with Mystique; she may have lost her powers, but she was still the consummate actress. "No. I came for Charles."
"Oh? Does Xavier wish to lord his victory over us now?" Her lips twist bitterly. "Or now that I'm nothing more than human is there a place for me in his life?"
He's almost surprised by the unconscious yearning he detects in her last words. "I'm afraid not." His next words are gentle, kind. "Charles is gone, Raven."
"Charles … gone?" There's a look of amazement on her face. "Did ….did Eric …?"
"No." He doesn't tell her about how Charles died. No one who loved him should have to hear that his last moments on earth were tormented ones, torn apart by the power of a girl he loved like his own daughter. It's too cruel.
"Charles …." She doesn't look at Hank. She looks at her hands. Her human hands. "I knew his ideas would get him killed in the end. He was too good for this world …"
"Charles was a very good man, Raven." He lays his furry hand over her human one.
"I loved him, Hank." She looks up at him, and her eyes are filled with pain that no artifice could create, he's certain. "I never stopped loving him … Charles …. Oh God! Charles!"
And for a moment, Mystique, the assassin, the spy … the murderer … is gone, and all Hank sees is a girl that he almost loved once so very long ago. The words that he should have said to her back in 1962 nearly spill from his lips, but he knows that it's far too late for them now.
Sometimes there are no second chances.
Instead of holding her like he aches to do, instead of kissing her pain away like he longs to do, he reaches out and squeezes her hands and says, "I know, Raven … I know …."