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I, my loving vigil keeping

by Te

Subject: [glass_onion] XMM: I, my loving vigil keeping Date: Tuesday, July 09, 2002 4:18 AM

I, my loving vigil keeping
by Te
July 2002
Feedback adored at thete1@earthlink.net Disclaimers: Almost no one here is mine. Summary: Mystique watches her sleep, when she can.

Spoilers: Vague ones for assorted X-books, but takes place in the movieverse.

Ratings Note/Warnings: R. Contains content some readers may find disturbing.

Author's Note: So, I wanted to play a little more. Sequel to Because, some years in the future. Because can be found here: http://strangeplaces.net/te/xmbecause.html

This story is archived with illustrations here: http://strangeplaces.net/te/xmvigil.html

Acknowledgments: To Jenn and Livbun for encouraging the slow-writing and incredibly whiny Te.


Mystique watches her sleep, when she can.

For a long time -- quite possibly years, but for an alpha whose longevity has proven dangerously immeasurable thus far, a careful count of such things is usually inadvisable -- Mystique was irritated by the habit. Or, not the habit so much as by the way her many companions chose to view it.

Destiny should've known better, but no matter how many times Mystique tried to explain it, no matter how reasonable she was, or how angry; when Destiny caught her watching their girl sleep, her eyes would always widen just that slightest degree. The lines on her face would smooth here and deepen there with a smugly secret smile. Destiny, to the day she died, was always convinced that there were deeper meanings to Mystique's night watches.

Never mind that precognition has nothing to do with telepathy.

If it had...

There were always some parts of their relationship Destiny could never know, would never understand. Sweet Destiny, her lady love out of time. Always more practical than anyone would expect, just not quite practical enough for a girl, a woman who sometimes got tired of making love in the world's largest prophylactic.

A woman who needed another woman, or a man, or a beast. Anything, so long as it could touch her flesh with nothing like flesh of its own.

Marie.

Some secrets had to be kept, and even at her angriest, her teenaged-poutiest, Marie always understood that. Destiny wore her desire for family, her pride in their own like a badge. Or like a target, but then, she had her wife and daughter to protect her, didn't she?

It had been a... relief when Destiny died. Such a satisfyingly pure pang of feeling, like something had burst in her chest, giving her room to breathe at last. And Mystique had, great gulping gasps even as she'd rolled away from the sniper's bullets, from her wife's riddled, raddled body.

They'd been on their yacht, an anniversary present for no particular year, on no particular date, and Mystique remembers the way the bullets sent deck-splinters under her scales, into her hair and mouth.

Remembers squeezing her eyes shut against them just in time to be thrown against the mainmast by the force of Marie slamming up through the deck, half-nude and glorious in the Caribbean sunshine.

Her hair had shone as the sniper took the bait and aimed for her instead.

Shone red and gold as Marie flew at him with all the speed she'd stolen from the Danvers woman, drove him into the rock of the cliff he'd staked out with all her strength. Took the few bullets that didn't go wild with her invulnerability.

How she'd shone.

There hadn't been much left of the man to question when Marie was done with him, but there'd been enough.

Family, always family. In this case, Mystique's errant, angry son. Sometimes she wonders if Greydon knows the only reason his family tree hasn't been exposed is the relief.

Mystique prefers her girl in moonlight, and that, too, would only be interpreted badly.

Sabretooth, when he finds them, when she invites him, sneers at her from behind a thick layer of classist envy that's obvious as the scent of winter in his hair. Obvious since Marie stole that knowledge at least. Such a good girl.

He thinks she's looking for poetry, or perhaps framing an art photograph.

She could smell it on him one night, long enough ago that she's mostly forgiven it. She'd been bestial for him, in her bed. Some feline creature described in gruff sketches of lust. Something he hadn't yet found in real life.

Ferals are always looking for a mate.

He'd rolled off her, unsatisfied and restless, rolling his head and sniffing toward Marie's room.

"Why don't you call her down here? She's awake, and I know you two --"

The work of a moment to slice into the meat of his side, his bicep.

Another to kick him to the floor, avoid his own kick, straddle him, and stab him until he stopped fighting.

Really, between Marie and herself, they'd tamed Victor well even before then. He didn't ask again after that night.

He didn't make any more remarks about things which were no business of his own.

Marie sighs in her sleep like a child, or how Mystique thinks a child might. She hadn't gotten the chance to raise either of her own. It's been a long time since the sound has made her fear Marie's waking -- she sleeps like a soldier.

It suits; she's taken enough of them.

Mystique shifts a little in the doorway of her girl's bedroom and watches Marie shift almost in counterpoint. Will she...? Yes.

She never spends the whole night on her side. Not the left one, at least. A turn, and the moon shines unforgivingly on the cracked and pitted surface of her cheek. It hadn't taken very long for Marie to joke about how easy it was to defer suspicion about her cape and cowl, now that she had the scar.

Her girl. Impressions.

Danvers...

Danvers had had a girl of her own.

Mordant had been... interesting. Well over six feet tall, much too thin for humanity, even without the unnaturally glossy black shine of her skin. Brazen in her baldness, from heel to scalp. Smooth all over. They'd come on her naked, though there was little sign she ever wore much more.

Bright, raw intelligence behind eyes that missed insectile by very little indeed.

In another world, another life, Mystique would have gone after Mordant herself. She never would've chosen Marie. Certainly not after Xavier had had five years to program her. Proof of Destiny's wisdom.

And Destiny... hadn't known about the Danvers mission.

Difficult to keep things from a precognitive. Impossible if she got a vision she could interpret clearly, but Mystique had never planned for anything less.

Not for her girl.

Not since it had been clear that Marie was hers.

And as much as she'd wanted to teach the girl a few harsh lessons in following orders after the debacle in Alexandria, there was nothing like a voluntary killing of a former compatriot -- a former friend and lover -- to prove one's loyalty.

No, Marie was hers, and so Marie had to have the best. And if she couldn't have absolute control, then she would have Danvers.

And it wasn't as though Destiny disapproved of Marie's drainings, or even the killings. How could she, when more often than not she set their little family on the paths to them, or demanded them outright?

But Danvers had had the irritating philosophy of having almost no philosophy to speak of. Incredible powers, and the will to use them only to save the day as necessary within her own demesne. No schemes, no plots, not a player in any game that Mystique could find. And she had looked so hard. Not a player, and so not fair game. Not by Destiny's rules.

She hadn't wanted to hide anything from Destiny, if only because she'd come to rely on her advice regarding missions long after the woman could no longer handle going on them herself. A precognitive's advice was a weapon only a fool would turn down, and never mind Toad's snide little asides about putting her eggs in a moldering basket.

The moonlight is heavy now on Marie's eyelids, but she doesn't so much as twitch. Like a soldier, yes. Like a child. Blameless as anything.

She still has Destiny's diaries. Copies secured on three different continents, as well. She will have them entirely memorized one day, and no one will kill her but Marie.

Mystique smiles to herself.

No matter how many people try.

It had been Mordant that day. An unwelcome surprise, she'd been, all clattering limbs as they fought. It had been like punching a particularly sturdy insect, and Mystique had switched quickly to kicks. Her strength had always been in her legs, anyway.

Enough of a distraction for Marie to continue into Danvers' bedroom, except Mordant had spun her head around a full one hundred eighty degrees with a ratcheting click and. Spat.

Mystique feels the smile on her face settle itself a little firmer, make itself at home. Marie had made only the smallest of sounds, never once forgetting that they were on a mission, even as she scrubbed the pink and clinging mess from her face.

Even as it became clear that more was coming off than just what Mordant had spat.

But by then the fight was back on, and Mystique was busy in her own right. It took another few minutes to get Mordant down, another minute to figure out some way to check to make sure she'd stay down.

A measureless time to study the blade her hand had become of its own volition, and the easy trajectory of hurt for hurt... no.

She'd tied the woman, instead, musing half-idly on her origins that she hadn't thought to raise an alarm. She hadn't learned until much later that the same acid that scarred Marie had burned out Mordant's vocal cords some years before.

Mystique shifts, stretches, forcing her vertebrae to move the way she wishes them to when simple body movement doesn't do the job. There was a time she'd reveled in her essential impermanence, but that was before Destiny, and long, long before Erik.

The Star of David is an old, homey ache in the hollow of her hip.

Motherhood, she thinks, is watching a girl realize you want nothing from her but herself, even the darkest, ugliest parts she'd always been taught to fear. Watching that and needing to touch your own face because the ache of memory is just that powerful. That sweet.

Motherhood is slipping into another woman's cleanly unfamiliar bedroom and watching your girl rock herself to orgasm on the empty husk of another woman's body, fingers crammed in her mouth to the point of bleeding, and forcing yourself to do no more than watch, and then only for a few moments.

Every mission had a timetable.

Destiny had been waiting for them at the airport when they returned, despite being two days earlier than they'd told her.

"None of the futures I see show Marie without a scar," was the first thing she'd said as they drove back to their home.

She didn't speak of Danvers. But then, she didn't have to.

Mystique knows Destiny knew why she did it, or at least thought she did. More of the same softening she insisted on believing in whenever she watched her watching Marie sleep.

It just wasn't a good enough reason for her.

Erik would've understood.

Erik had had children of his own.

You do what you can for them, you make sure they learn, grow. You make sure they have the very best of everything, that they can take the best of everything, should the day come when you can't give it. One day it will be Marie running the Brotherhood. One day the inroads Mystique has made into X-Force and the Hellfire Club will bring rewards that will...

Well, not all of the prophecies are easily decipherable.

It's all right. There are other precognitives out there.

And methods of persuasion can be found that work on anyone.

Marie is angry sometimes, it's true, and no one should have so many childhoods to forget, but Marie...

Marie has her.

And Mystique knows how to make that be enough.

End.


ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT

Sleep, my child and peace attend thee
All through the night;
Guardian angels God will send thee,
All through the night.
Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber steeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night.


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