Summary: Pyro has a tattoo. Mystique has a plan.
Fandom: XMMF, post X2, does not incorporate X3 canon
Warnings: Slash, Various adult content
Spoilers: X-Men 1 and X-Men 2, AU as written prior to X3 canon.
Title, Author and URL of original story: mofic, Having Writ, Move On.
AN: Thank you very much to resolute and likeadeuce for the beta! mofic, I hope you enjoy your remix!
Having Writ, Move On: [The Ulterior Motive Remix]
Mystique saw the look on Erik's face, on the X-Jet, when he spoke to the young man. The kid was all smirking reticence and lighter-flicking sullen teenager; trying too hard with every single breath, every postured gesture. Erik was looking at him, though, with that sharp-eyed predatory look, like a hawk sighting prey. Proprietary interest. Magneto saw all that anger and he saw potential. He ignored everything else in favor of the promise of flames brightening the sky, things burning for the Cause.
You are a God among insects. Never let anyone tell you different.
Erik's favorite tactic, honeyed flattery spoken in his silken voice. Make them think they're special. Give them what humanity is denying them. Promise them a palace on the top of Olympus. It was always what he started with, playing to their vanity. Sometimes, like with this kid, it worked right away. Sometimes it took other things. Pain and threats. Mystique, that's what she did. She was good at those things, when all of Erik's talking got him nowhere. The Brotherhood was fighting a war, and civilian casualties--these things were regrettable but necessary. If families had to be threatened, if loved ones harmed, that was just what it took.
Mystique didn't think that Pyro knew the lengths to which Magneto would have gone, If Pyro hadn't fallen for the spiel. Mystique could have broken his arm. Other things. If Magneto wanted Pyro in the Brotherhood, he would have done a lot more to ensure his membership than a few choice remarks and pointed looks.
Magneto didn't have to rely on those things, though. Pyro fell too easy, bought it all too fast and quick, and Mystique was torn between contempt and amusement at that. She could tell that Erik was glad, of course--less effort wasted, faster success. Mystique, now, she had more respect for the others. Those that held out until they'd screamed themselves hoarse. Why did she want someone on their side, who abandoned their principles so easily? Magneto never saw it that way. Mystique knew better.
Mystique could see it in Magneto's eyes, as he watched John. Watched the flames. The reflection of the fire shimmered in the depths of Pyro's dark eyes, and Mystique knew that Magneto was calculating exactly what could be done with the powers the boy possessed.
Sometimes Mystique thought about Charles Xavier and how easy it had been, to infiltrate the mansion and drive Rogue away. How long it taken the X-Men to understand Magneto's plan for the girl, because they weren't thinking the right way. Xavier thought more about the person than the powers. Understandable. That was ever his manifesto, wasn't it? That everyone was a person, no matter if it were some flatscan kid or a girl who could kill with a kiss. Mystique thought that approach was stupid. Foolish. Shortsighted. It was going to get Xavier killed, someday. She wouldn't be sorry.
It wasn't like Erik was any better, though, not really. He saw John as a weapon, just as he'd seen Rogue. He didn't focus enough on everything else; that Rogue would have someone willing to die to save her. That John was more complex than his ability to control fire.
John could be a threat. Not just to Magneto. To her. Erik was proud of his newest acquisition. And for all his practiced idiocy, John wasn't stupid. Mystique had never been threatened before, not by Toad's sycophancy or Sabretooth's brawn. This kid, now...he could be a danger.
She'd be damned if she lost her position to some kid, no matter how impressive his talents. Mystique's own powers weren't inherently destructive, like John's.They were more subtle. They required manipulation, carefully supplanted suggestions. Studying a person, learning their quirks. It wasn't enough to look like someone, to have their voice or even their fingerprints. You had to think like them, too. She'd realized this, in the months spent as Senator Kelly, and the lesson was invaluable. It was destruction of a less-immediate sort.
John was a kid. He was going to be easily swayed by Magneto's charisma and promises of glory. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, and all of that nonsense. Give him a little incentive to think he was important, that he mattered, and she could have a challenge for her position for the first time. Mystique gave no speeches, she made no promises. She was intimidating, sure. Because she was quiet. She watched, and she listened.
So. They say you're the bad guy, John had said, smirking, looking over at Magneto with a challenge written on his face.
John had no idea. He thought Magneto was the more dangerous, of the two.
He was wrong.
* * *
It was easy to see, really, how bored the kid was.
When they got back from Alkali, Magneto obsessed over their next move. The next attack. If he mourned for Jean Grey, Mystique never saw it. Maybe he'd lost too many people to be able to mourn properly. Maybe Jean's death was the thing that was pushing him on, making him spend hours in his study, putting the fire of conviction in his voice and strengthening his resolve. Mystique listened to his rants, she read over his plans. She gathered intelligence for him. She killed for him. She fucked him, long and slow or short and frantic, when he wanted.
She also watched Pyro. Watched the way he prowled, restless and bored, eyes darting quick towards the door or the lure of the outside when they were kept too long inside. Watched him make fire dance, let it burn over his skin. The slight wince, the bite of the lip as he suffered in silence to master his talents. Magneto was proud of Pyro for that, for the way he practiced and practiced, all the time. The way he designed his wrist flamethrower. Magneto thought it showed initiative.
Mystique saw it as another hint that Pyro was dangerous. Currying favor with Magneto, for ingenuity and promise. Things Magneto had always admired about her.
When Erik praised the boy, Mystique only smiled and stayed quiet. There was no more need for flattery to his face, now that Pyro had joined up. Pyro was one of them, and he wasn't special or courted any more than the rest of them were. Pyro was just another soldier, just another power in Magneto's arsenal. Oh, Magneto praised Pyro well enough--if he didn't, Mystique would have abandoned her plan altogether--but never where Pyro could hear.
Pyro was punished for his mistakes, often publicly. But he was never praised for individual success. All success belonged to the Brotherhood. That it was Pyro's talents that brought them glory was unmentioned. Erik took it for granted that Pyro understood that as part of the Brotherhood, he was expected to take praise with the others. But Mystique didn't think Pyro really understood what it meant, Brotherhood.
She went to him, one night, slunk with her usual deadly grace into where he was sitting, sprawled in typical adolescent fashion on the sofa, flipping through channels. They were in Prague. He was frustrated, obviously, not speaking the language. The only American channel on the television was CNN. Pyro looked up at her, that look of insolence briefly crossing his face. "Yeah?"
"The boss doesn't need me, now." Mystique said in her usual flat voice. "You'll do." She grabbed his hand.
He looked briefly surprised and then momentarily concerned. Not enough to keep him from standing up and following, apparently. Mystique led him into an empty bedroom. He was all clumsy hands and obvious insecurity, but sometimes he surprised her by getting a little aggressive. Grip a little too tight, mouth too rough. Mystique liked that, so maybe he deserved a reward. She sank to her knees and took his cock in her mouth. Thought about when she'd first seen him, on the X-Jet. The way his eyes had followed the girl, Rogue, and her milquetoast boyfriend, Iceman.
Magneto had thought he was sweet on her (he still said things like that, Erik, things like sweet on her) but Mystique knew that wasn't quite right. She tested her theory and morphed into the kid, Drake, with the bright blue eyes and the wide, white-toothed smile. Sucked hard on Pyro's cock, and felt the push of Pyro's hips as he drove his cock further down Bobby's throat. Felt the sharpening of interest and heard the quick intake of breath.
Afterwards, she'd been surprised that it was the first thing he'd said, about who she'd chosen to become. "Do you really think I want Bobby to blow me?"
Mystique almost said that she didn't care what he wanted, but she didn't say that. She tried for casual conversation. All knowledge was worth having, isn't that what they said? Besides, she had a suspicion. "It didn't stop you, did it? You like thinking about doing it with a guy sometimes?”
He'd acted like it hadn't mattered. Mystique had known better. He hadn't known, that he'd like that. Interesting.
Still. She'd had worse lovers. Magneto was amused, that she was sleeping with Pyro. "I hope he's not too much of a disappointment," he'd say, chuckling. Fingers stroking up her arm, playing with the scales he so admired.
Magneto never asked her who she became for Pyro. She didn't know if that was because he didn't care or if he knew better than to ask.
* * *
Pyro, of course, was different.
He wanted to know. About who she was, when she fucked Magneto. Mystique played coy about it. Teased him with just enough information to make him guess, to make him really want to know. He'd ask her all the time. When they were in the middle of it--her, on her hands and knees, looking over her shoulder at him with Bobby Drake's face--he'd gasp, in a voice roughened by lust, "Who are you, when it's him?"
"Ask him," Mystique would say, every time. In Bobby's voice. Or Wolverine's. And one time, in Magneto's. Pyro had really liked that. Mystique noted that reaction with sharp interest.
If she said that enough, ask him, maybe Pyro would actually do it. Overstep his boundaries. Ruin the reputation he was getting for himself, with Magneto, because Pyro was quite obviously bored. He didn't get that long weeks of nothing broken by brutal violence--that was what war was. Mystique watched him rise favorably in the ranks without even knowing it, still thinking himself ignored or, as she heard him mutter once, nothing more than canon fodder
In a few months, Erik said, maybe he'd ask Pyro what he thought about their next planned target. To get a fresh perspective, he said. After all, the boy was getting a good feel for things around here. Maybe it was time, Erik mused, that Pyro be given his own room. Some more privileges. Surely he'd earned them? Mystique smiled her Cheshire-smile and said nothing.
That night, she morphed into Colossus and fucked Pyro so hard into the mattress, she was pretty sure she was going to leave bruises on his hips from where she'd dug fingers into his skin. Peter was a big, physically imposing man. Pyro had asked her once if she liked being a man. She liked it then, with Pyro. As Colossus. It felt good to overpower him.
When it was over, she lay next to him on the mussed sheets, and then she saw it. Saw the mark on his arm. Bright orange flames and his name, Pyro, inked on his skin.
Mystique traced it with her fingers. Her touch made Pyro shiver. She smiled in the darkness where he couldn't see. "When did you get that?"
It was so easy, really. Knowing what she did about John. His tendency towards rash, impulsive decisions. His insatiable curiosity (even tonight, with fingers curled into the blanket and a whine of pain escaping his lips, he still wanted to know--who are you, when you're with him?), his boredom, his desire for action and making things happen. Spontaneous actions without thinking through the consequences.
So easy, to let her eyes flash a little. As if in fear. Easy to show the same thing, on her arm. Pretty green letters with her name. "Just don't let the boss see it."
"Why not?" Pyro's voice, imbued slightly with interest. She'd given him something else to think about, besides who she became when she fucked Magneto. Something else over which he could obsess, and push, and push, and break the fragile beginnings of Erik's trust.
"He doesn't like tattoos."
That wasn't going to be enough, of course. But it would set things in motion. John wasn't going to let things go, and he already knew that Mystique didn't tell Magneto's secrets. Ask him. It wouldn't happen overnight, but it would happen, eventually. In a few weeks. He'd work it through, with little nudges from her in the right direction. There would be a confrontation, and John would say all the wrong things. He didn't know everything he thought he did.
Pyro would push too far, and Erik would send him away. It wouldn't happen right away, no. That was all right. Mystique knew how to wait.
* * *
A few nights after Pyro had gone, sent away by Magneto, Mystique lay curled next to Erik in the bed, his hands idly stroking her thick, red hair.
"I had such hopes for him," Erik said moodily. "I don't mind saying I'm disappointed."
Mystique traced her fingers over Erik's tattoo in the darkness. He stiffened, but only just a little. They were used to each other. Mystique knew him. She'd been him, before. She knew how he was. That was her gift.
"Sometimes you don't know people nearly as well as you think you do," she said, shrugging. She ducked her head, so he couldn't see her smile.