by Te
May 23, 2003

Disclaimers: Not even close to mine.

Spoilers: X-Men: The Movie, X2.

Summary: Home, family, satisfaction.

Ratings Note: PG-13.

Author's Note: Dude, this movie ROCKED.

Acknowledgments: To the IRC crew for audiencing,
suggestions, and encouragement, especially shalott.

Feedback: Always.


For Mystique, pleasure can be found in many things.

There is the endless variation of her skin, the shock on
the faces of the people she sees on the street, the
particular taste of deceit on her tongue...

Being Kelly has been... delicious on a number of levels.
She sits in her office surrounded by the bigoted and
simply ignorant and lets her flesh shift beneath the
cheap suits the man favored. Now, as the secretary
scribbles and frowns, she has the body of someone
born for the choicest of gay pornography -- shaved
and toned and golden just behind the wool.

Now, as the right honorable Senator Davies asks her
if she really, truly, means to give the muties *that*
much power, her flesh flows like water, clear and
sparkling in the moments before dissolution.

Now, as the clock ticks toward momentary freedom,
she builds herself a pussy beneath the baggy suit
pants. Not especially different from her own, though
strangely, wonderfully exposed with hair instead of

She makes it red, makes it blond, makes it brown with
a flashy skunk stripe.

She smiles, and nods in affable dismissal as Kelly's
modern court and courtiers make themselves scarce.

It's time to go home.

It is an effort not to simply shift back into herself as
she drives the Beltway -- there are mutants in some
of the cars she passes, after all -- but it's a temptation
she's accustomed to ignoring. The most important
aspect of her abilities is mental. Thoughtfulness and
iron control, and the ways to find these things.

She has enough faith in her ability to blithely lie her
way past any number of obstacles, but it's best not to
test this sort of thing, on any level.

The traffic pauses in a morass of metal and pollution
and she smiles as she imagines the shapes Erik could
make of it all. Art and artifice and weapon... someday.
Another pause and she punches a button on the cell
phone, slides the headset over Kelly's thin and
unremarkable hair.


She puts a touch of rue in the man's voice. "Honey, it's
Rob --"

Soft laughter. Beth is so much happier and more
*relaxed* these days. "Don't tell me -- you're working

She chuckles in response. "You know me too well,

"Hmph. Don't you forget it. Do you want me to leave
you a plate in the fridge, or do you think you'll make it
home tonight?"

And it *would* be nice to spend a night in her own
bed, her own skin, but... Beth is a far better cook than
anyone Erik's found. "Would you?"

"You know it, honey. Just be a little quiet coming in.
Carl has some kind of math test tomorrow --"

Mystique can hear the word "algebra" spoken with the
true loathing only a thirteen year old can manage. She
smiles despite herself. The child is... sweet.

"All right, Carl, *algebra*. Anyway, he needs his rest."


In her mind's eye, Mystique can see Beth rolling her eyes,
see the smile dimpling her round, soft cheeks. She lets
her own smile widen, and wonders what it would feel like
on her own face. "Sure thing, Beth. Okay, it looks like
traffic's starting to move --"

"I'll see you later, Rob."

"Love ya."

Mystique hangs up and focuses on getting to the warehouse.
Technically, the neighborhood isn't quite the sort where
a car like Kelly's would go unnoticed, but she'll be able to
park it inside.

Erik. Erik is... waiting for her? Playing with the little one?

She wants... she's not sure what she wants. It would've
been a dark and beautiful thing, an *epic* thing if their
plan had worked with the Stryker boy, but she hadn't
really expected it. Nothing works out as easily as that.
Stryker himself should have known that.

The world is not built for grand gestures. There is no
completion that can be found in broad gestures.
Revolutions are built on the small and the secret, and
nothing is ever truly erased.

She runs a hand over Kelly's paunch.

She knows that better than anyone.

And yet... Erik himself longs to write his message large
on the world. She doesn't hate him for it, or hold him
in even the slightest disrespect -- she doesn't think she
could -- it's just... the way he is.

Perhaps Stryker's men had felt the same way, if any of
them had given any thought to life beyond their pretty
guns and ugly uniforms.

There is something endlessly seductive about a true
believer, no matter what the nuts and bolts of their
beliefs may be. There is a passion to people who
think about more than their own fates, and Mystique
knows herself well enough to understand that she has
no real resistance to it.

She takes the exit into Baltimore proper and starts
maneuvering her way into the poorer neighborhoods.
At a mostly empty intersection, she makes herself
younger, darker, and somewhat more viscerally
menacing. It's a body she doesn't wear often, but
there's a license and registration for it in a little space
just beyond the glove compartment.

She switches it with Kelly's at the next red light and
thrums a little, just beneath the skin.

The boy with them now... mm.

Not as much control as Toad, not as much power as
Sabretooth. But the raw potential in him is... just a
little thrilling. Anger, resentment, and so much
*violence*. All under Erik's control, now.

She is just petty enough to enjoy the coup of snatching
him from Xavier's grasp. Erik had always believed it wouldn't
take very much to change the minds of the Professor's
charges, but *having* Pyro was not the same as knowing
he could be had. She thinks it might just change...

She pushes the button recessed above the visor and
watches the door open just in time for a truly impressive
fireball to bloom and disappear in a haze of smoke. When
she steps out of the car, the boy is playing with his Zippo,
pressing it to his mouth and looking... frustrated?

She shifts back into herself, stretching and humming at
the feel of her hips broadening, the crackle of bone and
muscle and scales settling into place.

"Practicing, Pyro?"

"There remains the difficulty of not being able to generate
flame on his own." She looks up to find Erik on the loft,
stroking the iron handrail absently. "I believe it to be a
matter of concentration."

"And why can't I just take the lighter with me wherever I
go? I mean, I'm just saying." Flick, spark, flare --

Erik gestures and the Zippo flies up to land in his palm
with a small, final smack. He nods to Mystique and there
are no words needed.

She flips and dives for him, kicking him in the ribs twice
before landing several short, hard jabs. He hits the floor
and kicks up, surprise and fury in his eyes, but it's the
work of a moment to catch his ankles up high and kick
him in the groin --

"Do try not to give him any *permanent* damage --"

Lightly. She drops, straddling his chest and pinning his
arms to the dusty, concrete floor. "Defend yourself."

He glares at her, mouth twisting with unspoken vitriol
and then he... drifts away. Somewhere inside. Mystique
tilts her head and watches as his eyes close, as his
lashes flicker and twitch. And there is... heat.

A sense of something building just beyond what she
can see or touch --

Gone, and the boy collapses beneath her, limp and still.
She presses a thumb to his pulse. Unconscious.

Looks to Erik, who is smiling at her.

"I felt something," she says.

"Mm." He floats down to crouch beside them, a thin,
smooth disk of metal hitting the floor with a tiny clatter.
Strokes dark hair away from the boy's forehead. "Xavier
was always far too... protective of his charges. I
understand the impulse, but..." He smiles at her again,
leaves the boy to take her by the chin.

As always, there is a sense about him of power banked
and controlled and *ready*. She imagines she can feel
it in her blood, iron singing to his touch. "Yes?"

"There's something to be said for trial by fire, my dear."

She smiles and dips her head, rubbing her face against
his palm. A few scales peel gently away before slipping
back into place. "Shall I move him?"

Just then, the boy twitches between her thighs.

"Nngh... ow."

Eyes open, wide and unremarkably blue. The boy blinks
up at her with a mildly endearing confusion.

"Wakey wakey, Pyro..."

"What... I think I..."

His face has a soft, unfinished quality as it crumples in
pain. Almost childlike. She resists the urge to stroke it
and thinks of Carl.

"I think I... did something."

Erik lays a hand on the boy's forehead, an oddly soft
gesture that the boy leans into at once. Mystique
wonders if it's different for Erik to have someone
so... conventional among his charges and stands.

"You feel a trifle feverish, my boy, but I think that
isn't abnormal for you, now is it?"

"Mm. Always hot. Always. God, my head hurts." The
boy starts to get up and Erik helps him, catching his
shoulder when he sways. "Thanks. I... did it...?"

There's a curiously hopeful expression on his face that
Mystique can't help but respond to. "I felt it start to
get warm -- hot. Before you passed out."

The smile on his face is brilliant. "All *right*!"

Erik chuckles and claps him on the back. "There is a
great power in you, Pyro. We're going to help you
find it."

We. It makes Mystique want to rub a hand over her
flat, rough belly. Makes her think of family, and
home, and all the things they could mean. *Should*
mean. She smiles. "You're going to make the world
burn, pretty boy."

Flash of something hard and sweet, but the smile he
has for her is gentle and faintly admiring.

A moment's tableau of warmth and then Erik nods
and turns to her. "Some of the computers arrived
earlier, Mystique."

"I'll get them set up."

And as she walks away, not quite listening to the
encouragement from Erik and the open curiosity
and happiness from the boy, she thinks of Beth and
Carl, waiting for her in a neighborhood full of fat,
successful humans who dream of nothing but the
next vacation, the latest acquisitions.

Beth is sweetly loving of her husband, and Carl is
perfectly, boringly normal. There is comfort among
them, and a certain deceitful variety of domesticity,

They have nothing to *this*. This space -- small
now, but with the potential to grow -- where she
can be nothing but herself, this *family* where Erik
wants nothing but the best for all of them, *from* all
of them and Pyro...

One day he's going to look finished, hard and polished
and full of his power. And Mystique will be part of that,
and the world...

The world will be her own, at last.

True pleasure in that.

And more than a little... satisfaction.

Mystique lets her scales curl and settle, curl and settle,
and knows happiness.