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Lessons Learned

Title: Lessons Learned
Author: Kat Lee
Fandom: X-Men
Character/Pairing: Mystique, Rogue
Rating: PG/K+
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Say What Friday: "Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning." -- Bruce Lee and fffc r17.16: Puppy
Warning(s): Spoilers, Cannon Character Death
Word Count: 1,660
Date Written: 25 August 2017
Summary:
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.







She looks up as all Hell breaks loose in Paris. She was warned of this moment long ago. She’d still like to think that she just happens to be in the City of Love by sheer coincidence when it begins, but she knows better. Don’t lie to yourself, Irene had once told her, especially about yourself, kiddo. At the time, she’d made her angry, but at the time, it had been so easy for her lover to make her angry. Now there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to take back every moment of that anger and to be able to live it again without blowing up at Irene, without letting her anger her, with just savoring last second they had together.

As she thinks of her, tears touch Raven’s currently blue eyes. They glitter there for a moment before she starts to run. Irene was right: She’s spent too much time lying to herself, but she knows who she is now better than ever before and understands why she’s here. It’s not coincidence. She doesn’t want what Irene’s visions warned them about to continue to come to pass. She’s lost so much, unwittingly given up so much that could have perhaps been saved if she’d only listened to her lover’s warnings; she’ll be damned if she’ll lose anything else today.

She could easily lie to herself and tell herself she doesn’t have anything left to lose. There’s not a single person left in this world who still loves her. All her children either hate her or are dead -- or hate her, died, and came back to life still hating her. She has no friends left, and the last person to whom she gave her heart has been dead for longer than she cares to think about. But her children are still alive. There’s still a reason for her to fight in this world.

She can see the X-Men beginning to fight toward Psylocke as she slides to a stop. She can’t continue the way she is or they’ll never let her help. Irene once told her that life is the greatest teacher and that she should always be learning something. Raven’s learned too damn much. She knows better than to continue approaching them the way she is. They’ll only assume she’s there to fight, and she’ll never have a chance to help.

Raven drops her disguise of a normal, but beautiful, woman in an instant. Paris’ citizens are already too busy running scared to pay her any attention. For a moment, she flips through the possible heroes whose identities she can borrow. Many of the ones whose appearances she would have once used are dead now, too, and she’s not sure exactly who’s going to show up to this fight except that her daughter, who still refuses to accept her, will be involved.

Thick, blue fur begins to spread over her body the minute she recalls hearing about Hank’s current positioning. He’s left the team. After bringing the original X-Men forward in the timeline, he remained disgusting with what the X-Men have become, with the hard decisions they’ve had to make, and is now in New Tian, still trying to make a difference for mutantkind. Raven’s lips twist with irony as she feels her teeth growing into fangs inside her mouth. Good luck with that, McCoy. It seems the more she tries to fight for a better world for the future generation of mutants, the more she loses, and she’s sick and damn tired of losing.

The very moment her body has settled into her new form, Raven takes off running again, only this time she uses the Beast’s superb agility, strength, and speed to bound over the landscape, quickly eating up the miles that remain separating her from the X-Men. It’s funny, she thinks, still smirking, how often she runs to a group of people who would like nothing better than to spill her guts across this very pavement, but she knows why she’s doing this, even if the true reason will never be accepted. She’s here for one reason, not that she can tell them or that they’ll believe her.

Rogue will never believe that she loves her, but after all that’s gone down between them and everything they’ve both suffered through, Raven’s heart still pines for the girl who she should have treated better when she’d had her as her daughter. Now Rogue wants to hit her every time she calls her that, but she can’t help it. The short time she had with both Irene and Rogue in her life was not only one of the extremely rare joyful times in Raven’s long life but also the happiest she’s ever been.

Raven ceases her distracting thoughts once she jumps into the battle. She keeps her thoughts stubbornly stamped down as Psylocke explains to them all what’s happening, what Raven has known would come to pass for around two decades now. Irene warned her of this time. She doesn’t allow herself the luxury of entertaining the thought that she’d believed Destiny would be here with her to help her fight this.

Despite her love’s warnings, she’d always thought so much of what’s happened would turn out differently, but Irene was definitely right about one thing: Life has taught her much, too damned much. She knows not to allow herself to think in the presence of a telepath. She knows, too, to make certain they understand what she appears to be bringing to the team: Henry’s intelligence and strength. She makes the big, blue, loyal lug perfectly, blending right in with the team up until they’ve passed the Shadow King’s first test and it’s too damn late to send her away.

She knows it’s too late to send her back after the first test. They have no choice but to let her stay and help now, which is exactly why she doesn’t bother to try to keep Logan from discovering the truth about her once he starts sniffing. And she finally lets herself think again as her yellow eyes stare across the distance into Rogue’s big, green orbs.

Her daughter has grown into a beautiful, strong, and stubborn woman who still hates her as much as she did the last time they were together. Raven can’t blame her for that. She’d like to think she’d give up her hate, but that’s another hard lesson life has taught her: Rogue will always hate her, because any time they grow close, Raven will inevitably do something to fuck up everything. It’s her curse, just like Irene tried to tell her once.

She doesn’t flinch when Rogue threatens to kill her. She doesn’t back down or try to make them angrier when her daughter and her little, Cajun puppy dog start to come at her. She simply stands her ground for what else can she do? Rogue has every right to hate her after all she’s put her through, and LeBeau . . . Well, her daughter may have finally seen through him, but that was another sacrifice Raven had to make in order for Rogue to see the real man.

Her skin crawls as she remembers LeBeau’s touch from the time she pretended to be a young mutant lusting after him. It had taken her a lot to show Rogue how untrustworthy LeBeau is, and though she finally succeeded, she lost a lot -- again -- in doing so. She doesn’t care that Gambit will never trust her -- she’d like nothing better than to choke the life out of him right here and now --, but Rogue’s trust, especially her love, is the one dream left in this world for which Raven would gladly sacrifice anything, and everything.

She listens to the others talk about the fact that somebody is fighting the Shadow King and wisely keeps what she knows that they’re not ready to believe to herself. She knows exactly who else is here. She’d feel the presence of the world’s strongest telepath even if Irene’s premonitions had not already warned her of his betrayal. Charles is here, and everything is about to change for the X-Men. Everything is about to change for her daughter, but like it or not, Rogue isn’t going to be alone this time.

She’ll keep hating her. She may even get her wish and get to kill her before this all is over. Raven doesn’t know how this mission is going to work out in the end, but she does know one thing: Destiny’s going to be wrong this time. She’s going to prove her wrong, because this mission isn’t going to kill her daughter. It might kill her. It might kill every other damn X-Man on this losing team. But it won’t kill Rogue.

Raven herself will die first, but for now, she just squares her blue shoulders and keeps marching on. She’s got a mission to finish, an enemy to fight, and the most important person left in this damn world to protect. She’ll save Rogue, even if she never loves her or accepts her as her mother. She’ll save her, even if it finally costs her her life. “Let’s get this over with,” she nearly growls and walks on, ready to do anything, to give anything, to protect the last person she still loves.

She feels her daughter’s eyes glaring into her back as the doorway seals behind herself and Fantomex. They’ll be separated again for a time, but it’ll be okay. When Rogue needs her, she’ll be there. She’ll always be there when she needs her the most, no matter how much Rogue hates her or what it costs Raven to have to protect her. She wants to tell her -- the words are right there on the tip of her tongue --, but she knows she won’t believe her. For once, her lessons learned, Raven doesn’t try to talk to her. She doesn’t risk angering her any further; she just keeps fighting.


The End

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