"I'd have to agree that she ought to stay dead, if for no other reason than I prefer dead people to stay dead. As much as I'd like to see Stonewall, Super Sabre, Pyro et al rise from the grave, it'd go a long way to cheapen their deaths. Not that it wouldn't be interesting if an intelligent writer did (just imagine Destiny's reaction to post-Dream's End Mystique!), but I'd rather not take the chance of a hack disturbing and desecrating the fallen."


NOTE: Though I would consider myself intelligent, and since I write, I am a writer, I don't know that that makes me an 'intelligent writer.' However, I thought I'd take a whack at this. The prompt was just too good to pass up. I hope this is in keeping with the spirit of the mailing list (I am new, and don't know how welcome fan-fiction is) and would love feedback. This was written in a couple non-consecutive hours, and I would love technical or conceptual feedback. I haven't written in a while. Be gentle though. I bend willingly but will break if you push too hard.

*Warning: I assume the theory (is it still a just a theory?) that Mystique and Destiny were lovers. Not my characters, copyright, blah, blah.. don't sue, blah, blah… Marvel, blah, blah…


"Why did you leave me?" Mystique stared blankly at the clean hospital ceiling, wondering if she was dead. "Why did you leave me?" The guards at the door exchanged a tired glance.

"Wish she'd shut up already," Black said. Johnson laughed shortly.

"I wouldn't want to get close enough to shut her up." The man nodded in agreement, wrinkling his nose in the direction of their prisoner. Restrained at the neck, arms and legs, her skin had been fluctuating between clear and scaly for days. There was a collar at her neck keeping her trapped in her humanoid form, but even this hardly reassured the humans assigned to guard her. They knew what she was capable of. They were afraid of her. If she had been coherent enough to understand this, she would have been pleased.

"Why?" she repeated, squeezing her eyes shut and trying to imagine Destiny's face. She couldn't remember sometimes. She hadn't had a home for months, hadn't had anything for a time, hadn't looked at a picture in so long. Could she forget that face?

"Why did you leave me?"

"Pull yourself together, darling." Mystique opened her eyes quickly, straining against her restraints in an effort to locate the voice. Black and Johnson drew their weapons, taking aim for her heart. She relaxed, dully wondering if she was insane. She was hearing things.

"Where are you?" she asked, closing her eyes again.

"Right here." When she opened her eyes this time, she nearly cried to see Irené at her side. "Did you really think I'd be gone for good?" The blind woman shook her head. "What have you done now? What have you done?"

"Irené? Why haven't you come to me before?" Mystique cried, tears making paths down her cheeks.

"I'm dead, my love. I've been dead for a long time." Irené reached over to wipe the other's tears. Her wrinkled hand was soft, and smelled of lilac.

"Don't treat me like a child!" Mystique said, trying to control herself. The guards exchanged another look.

"Sounds like a conversation this time," Black commented, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "When's the damn shift gonna end?"

"Why do you look so sad?" Mystique asked. Irené stood, walking around the bed. She ran her hand over the restraints on her lover's wrists, and the collar around her neck. She touched Mystique's face again, and her neck, fingers lingering at the hard scales lining the woman's jaw. "What are you doing here?"

"You're hallucinating. I'm dead, and you've forgotten me." Mystique cried out in pain.

"I haven't! You forgot me and left!"

"Why do you linger on that?" Irené snorted. "People die." Mystique tried to reach for her hand, but was caught fast by her chains. Irené walked to the guards at the door, and passed her hand through Johnson's shoulder. He twitched a little, but otherwise didn't react. Mystique lay still, eyes fixed on the woman, the ghost, the hallucination.

"What are you?"

"I told you already. You're hallucinating. I'm not here. You're insane." Mystique screamed in rage. The guards either did not hear or did not care.

"Why are you torturing me! You're not Irené!" The old woman sat by the bed and began to laugh. She laughed for a long time, until tears came to her eyes.

"Of course I'm Irené! Who else would I be?" Her face fell, her cheeks still flushed. "I'm

exactly as you remember me."

"But if you're Irené, why haven't you scolded me? That's what she would do. You would never leave me alone. You always knew best. You always had the answers. And then you died! You left me alone! Why did you leave me alone?"

"God, Raven, would you listen to yourself? You sound like a self-pitying child. Why did I leave you alone? You're a grown woman. You can take care of yourself. I have no patience for you acting like you need me to hold your hand and dress you every morning."

"I liked it when you dressed me in the morning," Mystique said softly. Irené smiled.

"That's more like it. You're older than I am. You're a leader. You need to begin acting like it."

"What am I supposed to do?"

"You want me to tell you what to do? I wasn't the one who tried to kill the entire human race. I wasn't the one who tried to kill our daughter. You've been taking care of yourself for years. Why should I tell you what to do now?"

"If you'd been here…"

"Don't do that to me. Don't blame me for your mistakes. I don't deserve that. Don't tell me that none of this would have happened if I were alive. Don't tell me that this is all my fault. I was your lover, not your mother." She sighed. Mystique thought Irené looked very old. "Maybe you needed a mother more than you needed me." Mystique closed her eyes for a moment, but when she opened them, the woman was gone. She wanted to cry and scream, but suddenly knew she would accomplish nothing with this.

Is this it, she wondered to herself. Am I going to die? Am I insane? Have I ended my own life? How could something which had seemed to right turned so wrong? Have I lost my daughter? Have I lost everything?

"She got quiet all of the sudden," Johnson said some time later. "It'd been nice, but I don't trust it." Black nodded.

"Yea. She seems almost, I dunno, like she's thinking. Like she's waiting."

"Yer getting paranoid. She's been raving for weeks. You don't just get better. Hey, relief's here. Let's get a smoke."