Title: A canned life
Summary: "Now look at me. I became what you wanted me to be, don't
you dare turn away."
Note: betad by Laurelyn (lmdodge937@...
). A giant thank you.
The first day was tasteless. Mystique was still lying on the floor
when they modestly covered her with a coat. Hands carefully took her
under the elbows and pulled her to her feet. They avoided looking at
her; she kept her eyes to the horizon, but could tell by the distant
sound of their voices.
She let the coat slide down her body and hissed, tearing her hand
free, "Now look at me. I became what you wanted me to be, don't you
dare turn away." Red sun leaked down her disgustingly human pink
limbs. Her skin was torn and she was bleeding, yet without pain,
without the metallic taste on her tongue and down her throat.
The second day sounded like gritting teeth. Investigators performed
shaman dances around, filled her up with multicoloured papers, showed
her galleries of pictures and promised a happy life ever after. That
is, if she started talking about Magneto, his plans and his accomplices.
By the end of the day her forefinger got tired from poking into
faces, her teeth had ground down. If humans only knew how hard it was
for her to get in touch, to share the air of the same room with them.
If they could hear the imaginary crunch of neck-bones playing the
most precious symphony inside her head, then they wouldn't dare blink
when talking to her.
The third day smelled like spew. They said they didn't need her
assistance anymore. Raven Darkholme sat at the desk, under a pile of
papers, and massaged her temples. She couldn't trust her new human
fingers to break their hands and all the beetle body parts, but at
least a mild massage was feasible, something her fingers could do to
serve and please her. Recently, "We don't need you," was something
she had heard too often for her own taste.
Toilet walls were artificially blinding eyes; mirrors reflected
truth in the most unattractive way. She fell to her knees and allowed
the mutant and human rage combined to rip from her throat with
animalistic roars. Growls and hisses emptied her lungs. She was a
framework now, covered with vulnerable skin, a symbol of humanity.
"You wanted it," she mouthed against the mirror, watching her red
lips move, her black eyes shine, and her dark hair flow. "Twenty
years ago you would have died to have this." It's just amazing how
our delayed wishes can find us, just like lost letters, hunting us
down and forcing us to accept that now, finally, they came true.
The forth day was a beginning of the rest of her life.
Her new life was canned inside a pitiful room of an apartment house.
She simply stepped in and slid down the wall, dropping the package
they gave her. A canned life wasn't fitting; it stank and shimmered
with greenish walls. Deep inside she understood she needed to catch
the loose ends of her personality and tie rigid knots. With mutation
or without it, she still knew and could do much. She was a
professional, a fighter, a stalker, a good psychologist, and the hate
she felt of every human-being, the feeling that had motivated her all
her life, that hadn't gone anywhere.
Yet the feeling of being captured inside a giant, barbwire claw made
every move sting with pain. The only habit she adopted from Victor
was to crawl in the dark corner when she was injured. Animals survive
because they understand the time to fight and the time to lick wounds.
The tenth day shook with a big surprise.
"I came for you," John said, standing on the threshold, not quite
invading her canned space, but already taking a small step inside. A
cobweb of scratches covered his cheekbones, spanning his forehead and
disappearing within the roots of his hair. His left eyebrow looked
like someone had tried to scratch it off his face. Gloves covered his
hands, and he avoided meeting her gaze more than was necessary, but
otherwise looked sprightly.
"I'm co-operating with the police," she warned, "and technically,
I'm dead." She thought he had to know. In case he hadn't seen the
death of Mystique in her eyes when he watched her lying there. He'd
watched much longer than Eric had.
He stared at the centre of her chest, eyes resting on the shallow
area between her collarbones, the line of ribs pushing through the
"Look alive to me," he noted.
Raven didn't move. Behind her, sun danced on the greenish walls of
her can. She'd spent a few hours putting her minimum set of clothes
in a wardrobe, and bought soap and shampoo for the bathroom. Why the
hell did John decide he was automatically allowed to enter this place?
He lowered his head tiredly. "Look, if we're going to compare our
vital statuses, I'm not very alive either."
The threshold to her apartment was a border between her lives. If
he could look at her with something having a distant resemblance to
pity and pain, and was the only person she didn't name when police
questioned her, she assumed he was somewhere in-between her lives, too.
She moved to let him in.
Now John was canned, too. He lowered his weight to the coach with a
giant sigh of relief. Raven's new body seemed to dictate a new model
of behaviour, reminiscent of the precious human social models she had
despised most of her life. She nearly offered him coffee, the gesture
so natural and strong that she had to press a hand to her mouth,
keeping it there as she spoke, hoping her fingers might filter some of
the human sediments from her human language.
The other all too human thought was to press a wet towel to his
forehead and clean the dried mess, surveying the extent of the damage.
She decided this gesture could belong to both her past and present
"In a case you were wondering what happened after we left you, it's
over. Everything is over." John reached up as if to rub his forehead
and relieve the torturous thought, but dropped the hand to his knees
instead. It would hurt too much. Raven could see the positive in his
aching, yet she didn't want him to hurt.
"Why aren't you with Eric? He severed his right hand. I thought you
became his new one".
"He's over, too."
Little hypocritical rodent. If he wondered whether she felt better
when she heard this, she didn't. The fact that Magneto was dead, too,
could be comforting to her human ambitions. However, it couldn't
resurrect Mystique or assist her in any matter.
At least now she could understand what brought John here. The fear
of loneliness chases every mutant, only its stages are different.
John was a parasitic kind of loner. He rarely needed anyone close to
himself, but ached for the symbolic presence of a crowd in the
background. When pain started to get him, he would close his eyes and
picture himself being a part of them. When he was fine and healthy,
he'd pretend they never existed.
"I don't want to play the role of a crowd in your background." Raven
sat on a table opposite him. Her limbs were still rosy, and she wore
a disgustingly white synthetic dress, printed with blue starfish, only
so she couldn't watch herself in any shiny surface that would reflect
She had no choice except looking directly at him.
He leaned dangerously forward. He was still Pyro, she could tell by
the devils inside his eyes.
"I'm not asking you to."
"Then why did you come?"
He was still looking down when she awkwardly touched her forehead
with his. He turned slightly and slid his cheek along hers, then
rubbed his forehead and temple against her jaw and froze, lowering his
head. She could sense that his breathing felt different on her new
skin. It was warmer and softer, making them both more vulnerable.
His hair smelled of dirt and ash, soaked through with blood and
sweat. She kissed the top of his head, unwilling to start this new
experience with bare skin contact, especially with lips. He put his
hands on her hips, smoothing the cheap fabric. They tried to adjust
to the closeness, both of them.
"I don't know," she rather felt than heard him answering. "Why did
you let me in?"
The rough texture of his injured forehead scratched her chin softly.
She lowered her head. To get a closer look at the wound, she told
herself. They met halfway, nose to nose. He leaned closer then
stopped. Their faces met, skin touching. With human skin, it felt
differently. More dangerous, but softer at the same time. Now she
could feel each tiny scratch or irregularity on his skin.
He dashed forward and captured her lower lip with his. They both
froze, though they'd kissed before. He was warmer, wetter, so easy to
slide against, which she did, leaning on her hands, giving herself
time to manoeuvre, and then attacking him back. His lips and tongue
felt different, she noted absent-mindedly.
The wound drank most of his aggression and conceit, leaving him
almost bare, close to who he really was. She could pet the dragon
without getting a deadly burn. It was exciting, especially now, when
she was too human to play with fire.
"Blood doesn't arouse me this way," she muttered and pushed him
away. "You need to wash it all off."
He chuckled, but followed her into the bathroom. Once she opened
the door, she turned away. There was a large mirror on the wall, and
she still couldn't look at her new self without falling into a sticky,
hazy kind of mood, close to clinical death.
John hissed and rubbed at his head with a towel, rinsing red-brown
streams into the sink. As he dried himself, he noticed that she was
"Didn't know you were so sensitive."
She didn't even bother reflecting the attack. He turned in the
direction she would look if she raised her head and understood
everything. "You're not an object of my teenage sexual fantasies,
" he tried once again.
He took her hand and dragged her inside. The mirror made her even
more vulnerable than she already was, though he was sure she could
still break his arm if she didn't like something he was doing. She
simply stood there, in front of the mirror, her head lowered and her
hands clutching at her skirt.
"You could listen if you don't want to look."
As he touched her bare arm, something inside him started to shake.
The sensation was like touching someone without skin, stroking a live
person's insides, holding a trembling heart in his hand. He shook his
head, suppressing the odd feeling. He slid his palm up her hand, her
muscles tensing under his touch. John smiled weakly at his
reflection. He could do this, even if both of their bodies rejected
"I would kill you, but who will tell me how I look now?" She mumbled.
He kept his mouth shut to trap his shaking voice. One half of his
mind was demanding he walk out of the bathroom, sit on the sofa with
his hands between his knees, and be good. He shouldn't have touched
her like that; she was too sensitive now. He was the driving force in
an unnatural process.
The other half correctly reminded that this was the hidden agenda of
his visit. If the recent days of his life had been completely
pointless, he needed to start making a point now.
Raven tensed when John touched her neck with his lips. His hands
tangled in her skirt, searching for a zipper there, somewhere. He
caught it and pulled, waiting for the dress to fall. If everything
happens the way it should, he thought, he may not pass out from
The dress slid down her arms, and he pushed it down her legs to pool
on the floor. She stood a bit straighter, her forehead wrinkled with
the effort to keep her eyes shut.
She smelled differently than he remembered. Mystique had always
absorbed everything around her; like its owner, her former skin had
been a master of disguise. The scent imprinted in his memory belonged
to the metal that surrounded Magneto. Now she had the fragile, timid
smell of a human being. Heady notes, which went directly to his brain
and groin, allowed him to specify; she smelled like an aroused woman.
And she had nipples now. Not simply a tiny crack, but small,
freshly made, accurate nipples. If he didn't open his mouth, he
risked choking on his own saliva. Instinct took over and he touched one.
Raven swallowed her breath, remaining silent.
"You should look. It's worth looking."
She shook her head.
"Touch me so I could feel and imagine."
John slowly traced the contour of her breast with his fingers. He
was ashamed to scratch the softness with rough finger-pads, but he
couldn't stop himself.
Raven leaned against him, only a little. He was possessed by the
desire to lick what he was touching. Mystique had tasted like blood;
he really wondered what had changed since then. Part of him dwelled
on the thought that if he stepped from her retreat way, they could
both run in different directions and never return to this.
Covering one breast with his hand, he slid the other hand down her
stomach. Closing his eyes, he could still feel Mystique under all the
Before he could get scared, he slid his hand inside her underwear
and let out a tortured, pitiful moan. She was smooth, without any
hair spoiling the sensation. After he touched her there, she could
break his arm or even his neck. She could do anything she wanted.
John touched the swollen inner lips and parted them, sinking into
her wetness. He could stop doubting; she indeed liked what he did.
Raven's lips touched his cheek, seeking his mouth. Her possessive
tongue and mild lips felt like her crotch, which was still modestly
covered by a cheap pair of banal, black panties. She frowned, this
time with irritation, trying to rid herself of them. Clothes were the
main discomfort in her new life.
John continued to respond to her kisses, and fought with his belt
with a free hand. While he could still think rationally, he reached
for his cock. It was heavy, dangerously heavy, though it'd been, for
the most part, ignored. Another moment of delay and his
inattentiveness would be punished with an uncontrolled fountain aimed
right at Raven's back, instead of at least getting inside.
He drew her thighs slightly apart and guided her hands to grip the
sink. Her spine pushed against the muscles of her bent back. He
closed his eyes and after a few missed attempts slid inside.
He buried his face in her new, human hair and stopped breathing.
The body under him didn't seem to move, or maybe his nerves had
stopped reacting, to keep his brain from exploding. He didn't
practice in this field of activity much. An extra minute was needed
before he could continue.
He was touching her very nerve endings, getting under her skin,
becoming both sick and aroused at the same time.
Raven whimpered, but caught the sound in time and transformed it
into a grunt. Maybe she wasn't sure about the future paths of her new
life, but she couldn't allow her reputation to be ruined. Suddenly,
he knew what to do to ruin them both totally. His fingers got tangled
in his jacket and shirt, but he successfully ripped them off, and in a
violent gust pressed his bare skin to hers.
Raven yelped, and he echoed the sound. He turned Mystique inside
out, did something Magneto could never do. To him, she felt the same
inside as outside, a bunch of bared nerves. He braced one hand on her
hip, the other planted firmly between Raven's legs. He started to
It felt like her skin left deadly burns on his skin. He was wounded
and dying, and his death had the most beautiful face he could imagine.
Mystique was always exact in definitions and opinions. Raven found
it difficult to define what aroused her most John's body atop her,
or his cock inside her. Her new skin was so sensitive to touch, it
hurt. It hurt, and she fell into agony when John snaked both hands
around her and pressed her against him, squeezed like he was trying to
She had been sent an angel of death, hidden inside John's body, and
maybe he had been a symbol of her death from the very beginning.
Maybe she hadn't died inside the armoured car; instead, death
approached her now. White light enveloped the contours of reality
little by little. John made a strange sound, something in-between a
cough and a moan, and sank his teeth into her neck. Like an animal,
just like Victor.
She yelled. Not from pain, but rather from loosing her grip on the
order of things, once again.
Her eyes shot open when her body started to shake.
She could still feel John's hands, teeth, and hot juices between her
legs, but the world stopped and started to sink into the black eyes of
a new woman in the mirror. John rubbed his nose against her neck and
looked at her reflection, too. His gaze captured her, keeping her
from drowning. She grasped onto it with her own gaze, pure despair
and amazement, all at once.
When he turned her face to him and touched her with his lips, she
could still see the snow-white, rounded contours of the body she was
She pushed him away softly and left the bathroom. He was canned in
this place already too; he couldn't leave even if he wanted to.