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The Fall of Rome

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The cab pulls up at the end of the long driveway leading to a palatial estate. You can't really believe you are doing this, even as you know there's nowhere else to go. Erik has turned against you; Charles is dead; there is nobody else to whom you can turn.

You pay the cab driver, then make your way up the steps to the ornate door. A servant ushers you in and hands you off to a young woman. You are about to introduce yourself to her when an elderly woman descends a staircase from above, dressed in a white robe pulled over a white nightgown. "Hello, Raven," she says.

"Aunt Emma," says the younger woman, surprised, quickly moving over to take her aunt's hand once she lets go of the banister. "What are you doing out of bed?"

"Greeting an old friend," Emma answers, not taking her eyes off of you. "Although the years have been kinder to you than they have to me, I see."

You say nothing, although of course you know that Emma can tell what you are thinking. Frail as she may be, she is in fact in remarkably good health for a women of her age. But even she is not immune to the ravages of time, not the way you had been. You wonder what it will be like, now that you are merely human, to age and to grow old the way she has done.

"Come," she says, gesturing towards the conservatory both for your benefit and her niece's. "We have much catching-up to do."

Once Emma is seated in a wicker chair in the conservatory, and you in one across from her, she sends her niece out of the room. The young woman makes a token protest, then leaves. "One of my brother's granddaughters," Emma explains. "A nice girl, if a bit naive."

You nod, wondering where all of this is going.

You are the one who came to me, she reminds you, telepathically. Then she smiles, and the room shifts, no longer Frost Manor. Emma changes, too, the wrinkles receding from her face, her nightgown shortening and becoming sexier. You stand, turn, look into a mirror, and see a blue-skinned face looking back at you.

"This isn't real," you say.

"Of course not," says the White Queen. She stands, walks towards you, traces the length of your now-bare arm with her finger. "But when you've reached my age, my dear, memories are all you have left."

Angel enters, dressed in bra and panties. "We're fucktoys," Angel says. "That's all we are to them. It's right there in the title: Brother-hood of Mutants. We don't matter."

Seeing Angel again, alive and vibrant, almost succeeds in breaking your heart. Emma, what are you up to?

"Hssh," Emma says, and places a finger on Angel's lips. "Believe me, you should be grateful that Erik left us behind. Meetings with rival mutant groups can be so tedious."

Angel's not in the mood to be placated so easily, however. "It's a brave new world, and we're still second-class citizens."

Oh, 1969, Emma projects. I knew there was a reason why I don't miss that year.

You sigh. Feminism was never your battle, exactly, but Emma's condescension rankles now--as it did then, if you are honest with yourself.

Within the fantasy, the memory, however, Emma doesn't break character, simply reaches out and places a hand on Angel's shoulder, lets it slip down until its covering her breast. "Let the boys do the boring work," Emma purrs. "I'm sure we can find a way to amuse ourselves until they get back."

Like the free love wasn't oh-so-very-69 itself, you think at Emma, but the illusion doesn't even flicker. Still, in retrospect, it seems obvious how the non-stop orgy that the Brotherhood headquarters sometimes seemed to be was very much part and product of a cultural movement even greater than itself. So much which once seemed daring and counter-cultural now strikes you as little more than a historical inevitability.

You wonder if you are alive fifty years from now (and you suppose there is no reason, even if your aging has accelerated to the normal human rate, why you should not be), if recent events--Liberty Island, Alkali Lake, Alkatraz--will seem such as inevitable datapoints in a relentless dialectic of history.

You're going to give yourself wrinkles, Emma thinks at you wryly. Focus on the here and now--or, as I suppose the case might be, the then and there. In case you've forgotten, we're about to have sex.

You hadn't forgotten. Angel moves to unfasten her bra, but Emma shakes her head. "Let me," she says, and her hand slips around to Angel's back. Angel's hand slip down to her panties, but Emma interjects with an, "I said, let me," and suddenly Angel is frozen in place, prey to Emma's telepathic abilities.

Emma glances at you. "Mystique," she says, "would like the pleasure?" You nod and step over, closer to Angel, close enough to be able to pull down her panties and denude her. Now there are two people naked--and of course, Emma is perennially half there already as well.

You kneel down in front of Angel and place a kiss on her inner thigh. There is no response, as she is held in place by Emma's telepathic paralysis. You move higher, your tongue against Angel's clit, even as Emma's fingernails slide across her breast.

"Down," Emma orders, and Angel lowers herself, sliding her legs open so you continue having access to her vulva. Emma pulls her nightgown up to her waist and lowers herself onto Angel, whose tongue moves perfectly in response to Emma's every telepathic command. Emma climaxes first, of course: she knows what she likes and is in control of Angel, the whole thing being more akin to masturbation than cunnilingus. Angel's next; the effect is subtle, since she's still under Emma's control, but the three of you have experimented sexually with Emma's powers enough, sometimes with you the object instead of Angel, that you know the signs. You trade places with Emma, and she watches you with an amused expression as she uses Angel's tongue to fuck you.

The orgasm comes, the orgasm goes, no less powerful for the fact that none of this is real. The scene fades away and once again you are seated across from Emma in the conservatory of Frost Manor.

"What was the point of that?" you ask.

The old woman stares back at you, her eyes piercing, all-knowing. She smiles. "The purpose was the same as that of anything we have ever done," she answers. "Because we can."

And, seated in front of you, you see at last the tragedy, the fallacy of Erik's path. This is its logical endpoint, you realize, this feeble old woman who relives memories of orgies past because even mutant genes cannot free her from the mortal coil or instill the life she did live with any real or lasting meaning. It took Angel's life decades ago, but perhaps in its way fate was far kinder to her than to Erik or to Emma . . . or to you. You watch Emma recoil from the force of your realization.

"You would side with Charles, then?" she asked. "After so many years?"

"I don't know," you say honestly, rising from your chair. "I don't know." And in that simple admission of ignorance, of limitation, of humanity, you suddenly feel more freedom than your mutant powers ever brought you in all the lifetimes you have lived.