It's not easy being us...

Mystique has a chance encounter with (a somewhat older than Evo-time, say 17-21) Wolfsbane, while both are enjoying a day “off duty” from their respective roles of villain and hero - idle conversation takes a turn toward venting about teammates, and an odd sort of mutual respect comes about, due to their shared connection; namely, both of them understanding the frustrations and aggravations and perks and benefits that are unique to being a shapeshifter (even if one’s forms are limited like Wolfsbane’s), especially the sort related to dealing with those around you who are not.


It was supposed to be her day off. She needed self-time as much as any other being in the world and had literally won the entitlement in combat.

It made the cheesecake and coffee all that much better for the winning, but really, Raven did not appreciate having to fight for basic human rights. If all else failed, she could vanish for the time she needed, but that sort of thing never ended well.

“Aw… fook…”

Raven turned just far enough to identify the speaker as her almost-opposite number. Wolfsbane. The X-man named Rahne Sinclair. The younger woman was looking very much alarmed to be parked with a cheesecake, coffee, and an inhibiting swathe of shopping bags just a table away from a potential fight.

Raven turned enough to face her politely. “Easy. I’m trying to take a day off.”

“You’ll forgive me if I don’t believe that right away,” said the scot.

“I’m here for the same reason you are,” said Raven. “This cheesecake is fucking awesome.”

“Damn straight. An’ I’m not gonna pick a fight and risk wrecking the only place that does it, neither.”

“Same here,” said Raven. “So. In the spirit of mutually enlightened selfishness, let’s call it a truce.”

“In the name o’ fookain awesome cheesecake, then.”

They sealed the pact with an appreciative mouthful, and relaxed their guard a little.

“Does it never seem to ye that sometimes we fight jus’ because we’re used to it?” mused Rahne. “It’s like a trained reflex or somethin’. Even if we got the same goal, we gotta go an’ have a big bloody battle all over the place.”

“True,” Raven allowed. “But even if we have the same goal, the difference lies in accomplishing it.”

“Sometimes I reckon you and the Brotherhood are way ahead of yourselves. You’re fighting fer liberation before they even had a chance to put the chains on. We’re just after recognition and representation. Then we’ll be lookin’ at liberation.”

“A step ahead of ourselves, or just you?” Raven found herself smiling. “Humans can barely cope with people with a different shade of skin. And that variation ranges from beige to black. You have no idea how reflexive their hate is when they encounter someone blue.”

“I’ve spent my time as a ‘demon’,” said Rahne. “It gets muckle awful when religion gets into it.”

“Peaches and cream little you? A demon?”

“Aye. When my power came in I could'nae control it. All my fears helped with the whole mess and created a big tangle o’ triggers.”

“And I thought growing up as a sideshow attraction was awful.”

“Let me guess, the word 'alive’ was in large print?”

“And 'freak’.”

Rahne rolled her eyes, as if that didn’t need saying. “There, but for the grace of God and a really big lycanthropy-fuelled freak-out go I…”

“Fucking Amos goddamn Jardine,” Raven growled.

“Ee! That’s the same feller as tried to buy me. I was almost glad of the opportunity, when he came. Except for the chains and all. Same numbskull tried to buy Kurt’s circus, once upon a time.”

“Centaurs and all, no doubt.”

“Oh, especially the centaurs.” Rahne sipped her coffee. “If he wasnae already dead, I’d get it in me head to track the bugger down.”

“You’re welcome,” smiled Raven.

Rahne tried to look horrified, but couldn’t muster the emotion well enough. “Good riddance to bad rubbish, then.”

They toasted the sentiment with their coffees.

“So…” Rahne began. “Why’re you wearin’ Principle Darkholme, after so long?”

“Call it a default state, if you want,” Raven allowed. “Back when I was starting to hold a shape, I modeled myself after my mother. The features were close enough and all I had to do was change colours, really. Stealing one of the really good biomimetic suits helped a lot. Later on.”

“They’re still lookin’ fer that one,” said Rahne.

“They can take it off me when I don’t need it any more.”

A reverential pause for cheesecake.

“D'you blame her? Your mum?”

“She was trapped between a rock and a hard place. Jardine at least offered some protection. He had a vested interest in my survival, after all. The military… had no such limits.”

“Mine had a normal little girl until the demon took over. Reverend Craig had the whole town in a fluff when it started. He was always after the 'demon within’ and then he got one.”

Raven considered what a hell her life must have become. “I could arrange an… 'accident’.”

“Na. He can’t learn if he’s dead. All 'is kids are mutants. Every last one. The whole towns turned against his own rhetoric since he’s a father of demons. Means he has to be one, too, dunnit?”

Hm. Pickling in a broth of his own making. That was almost… poetic. “Do you sit back and watch?”

“I get news from home now and then. Me brothers send letters when they can get away with it. I send more back. The miserable old fart lives alone and only has a few die-hard loyalists on his side. Everyone else ignores 'em, now. It helps that there’s a special clinic in the next valley over.”

Raven had never kept ties. She ran and changed and ran some more. Never looking back. Rarely keeping friends. She had no roots and she liked it that way. Most of the time.

Jardine had died by her hand. Raven at least had made sure her mother went peaceably and without pain, masquerading as a chipper and cheery volunteer who always had time to chat about anything. Where she found the strength to forgive the old woman, she never knew.

“Must be nice to have your family back,” Raven offered.

“It’s rocky, still. Da doesn’t like it. He’s one of the loyalists I talked about, see. He reckons all this mutant stuff is the devils’ work.” A shrug. “People like Warren are deceptions from the devil an’ people like Kurt just prove his point. Ye cannae reason with 'im.”

Raven just had an expressive eye-roll at that. “Can’t live with them, not enough time to wipe them all out…”

“Ah, ye make more trouble that way. There’s always a relative or a friend willin’ to hate a mutie 'cause they went and killed a right bastard. Best tae let 'em stew in their own mess. Keep tryin’ tae show the world we’re just like them.”

“Have you seen what humans have been doing to this world? Being just like them is reaching too low.”

“Aye. But how is trying to conquer 'em bein’ any different?”

Raven had no argument to that, and the cheesecake and coffee were almost gone. “Next time we’re both after the same thing…” she offered, “perhaps we can call a truce in the name of cheesecake.”

“Work out which is really the best? Sounds like a plan, then.”

Raven finished her last forkful as she watched the staff at the cafe. They had no idea their dessert could change a world’s path through history. Probably better that they never knew. That sort of thing went straight to the ego.

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