Disclaimer: Mystique, Destiny and
Rogue are all property of Marvel Comics. I am profiting in
no way from their use here.
A Time for Family
With a keen eye, Raven Darkholme moved from room to room
in the luxury penthouse, looking to see if there was anything
she might have missed -- there wasn't.
The palatial dwelling boasted elegant design, tastefully
appointed furnishings, and stunning works of art -- but something
was missing from the rooms she passed through. As beautiful
as each one was, there was something strangely antiseptic
and impersonal about them. You had to look past the opulence
of the surroundings to see what it was -- there were none
of the personal touches which made a house a home. And that
was just how she wanted it.
She was going to miss this place.
As B. Byron Biggs, billionaire financier -- one of her oldest,
and by far the most successful of her many identities -- she
had established this apartment as an inner sanctum. It was
the only real home she had -- the place she kept all that
was most precious to her. But no more.
Since she had been forced by circumstance to divulge the
existence of this place to Rogue and Shadowcat, she could
no longer count it absolutely secure -- and she was here to
Having passed through the perimeter, she returned to the
one room which still possessed that personal touch. It was
a small room, but cozy, comfortably furnished, with a sofa
facing the fireplace in the far wall. Most of the other furnishings
were strewn with the last of the personal mementos that had
remained in the apartment -- the things she hadn't been quite
able to bear packing away so soon.
When she was younger, she had had no use for keepsakes --
with the life she led there was no room for emotional attachment
to people, let alone things -- but that was before she had
met Irene Adler.
She remembered the Christmas concert vividly -- the invitation
had arrived at her office, along with a plea for help. Intrigued,
she had accepted both the invitation, and the request for
a meeting afterward. After all, she had reasoned, even if
nothing came of it, she would be well-paid for her time --
and it had been a while since her last job...
From the moment her prospective client walked onstage and
was escorted to the dais, Raven had been unable to keep her
eyes from Irene, and had known this was one client she wouldn't
be able to refuse. Mystique never would have guessed all that
would come of that Christmas Eve so many years ago, though
she had often wondered how much Destiny had already foreseen
of their life together.
Irene's mask was on its stand on the mantel, away from the
clutter of pictures, books, knick-knacks and packing boxes
which filled the room. Tenderly, Raven traced a finger down
one golden cheek. She wasn't as angry as she had been -- as
she had told Rogue earlier, she had realized that it was easier
to remember the love than to hold on to the hate -- but she
knew the rage and the hurt would never completely fade away.
Irene had deliberately sacrificed herself, and had left no
explanation why. It wasn't the first time Destiny had kept
something from Mystique, but it was the last, and most hurtful.
Logically, Raven knew that Irene had to have had a reason
-- and a good one -- for what she had done. But knowing that
did nothing to lessen the pain -- especially since Raven had
a healthy suspicion as to what Irene's reason had been.
You always had to be the self-sacrificing one, didn't
you, my beloved friend?
They hadn't even had a chance to say goodbye...
Raven picked up the mask and turned it over, pressing her
nose to the soft cotton padding where the disguise had rested
against its owner's brow. Even after three years, a faint
trace of Irene's scent remained, which brought back other
sense-memories -- the sound of her voice, the silk of her
hair, the soft brush of her lips...
Slowly, Mystique replaced the mask on its stand -- she would
pack it away last of all.
Mechanically, she began going through the items in the room,
sorting them first by size and shape, then approximate date.
As she did so, she tried not to examine the things too closely,
and so be drawn into her memories -- she wanted to get this
over with as soon as possible.
Since Irene's death, Raven had done her level best to avoid
thinking of the past. It was less painful, especially at this
time of year. Christmas had always been Irene's favorite holiday,
even before they first met. Mystique had little use for religious
holidays or religion, yet at Christmas she indulged her partner's
beliefs, even going so far as to accompany her to Midnight
Mass. Raven had done so partly to please Irene and commemorate
their first meeting, and partly because if there was a God,
Raven wanted to thank whatever it might be for causing her
path to cross Destiny's.
Raven had always been a hard woman -- she had to be, to survive
-- but before Irene had entered her life, she had had no time
for love or compassion. None had ever been shown to her, so
why should she lavish it on others, who would only hurt her
Irene had changed all that, opening Raven's heart in ways
she had never believed possible. And yet, there was more to
come -- for Irene had given her a family.
Mystique paused as she looked at the picture she was about
to pack -- it was of the three of them: herself, Irene and
Rogue was laughing and carefree as Raven held her in front
of the Christmas tree, Irene beaming in the background --
their daughter's first Christmas.
It was hard to believe it was the same child they had adopted
less than a year before. Certainly Rogue had had little enough
to smile about before they had taken her into their home and
hearts. From time to time, Raven still found herself wishing
that she had simply gone with her initial judgement and killed
the sick bitch who had dared to call herself the child's mother.
That such a creature could have birthed a child like Rogue
was proof of the infinite variety of genetics...
With time, care and love, the fearful child who never smiled,
always flinched at sudden movements, and suffered night terrors
had metamorphosed into the happy, laughing little girl in
the picture. And though her nightmares still came from time
to time, there were comforting arms to hold her, and a soothing
voice to sing her back to sleep.
How Raven missed her.
Counter to Mystique's best intentions, memories began to
surface: Rogue learning to ride a bike; Irene teaching Rogue
to bake; the three of them picnicking by the riverside near
the house; the first time Rogue had called her 'Momma'.
When Rogue had left them, it had hurt, but it wasn't completely
unexpected -- Irene had foreseen that their daughter might
choose a different path in life -- and at least Destiny was
there to help her come to terms with Rogue's departure. But
there was no one to help her accept Destiny's own...
To cope, Raven had buried herself in work, as she had done
so many years before, often taking refuge in this home --
but now that too would soon be gone, along with her family.
Everything was neatly packed away, with the exception of
the mask. Raven supposed she should call the shipping company
-- service at this time of year was always a nightmare...
Just then, she heard footsteps in the hall.
Raven immediately morphed, taking the shape of Biggs' butler,
and took the safety off her sidearm. Silently, she rose and
stalked toward the source of the sound. As the footsteps grew
louder, she ducked behind a nearby column, and crouched in
a firing stance as the intruder approached.
"Momma?" a voice called out uncertainly.
After a darting glance around the column, Mystique reverted
to her true form and stood upright, tucking her weapon away
as she went to greet her daughter.
"I would ask how you got in, but I'd like to think my training
had something to do with it..."
Rogue turned toward the sound of her mother's voice with
"Like ridin' a bicycle ... an' Ah see you haven't lost yoh
touch, either. I didn't even hear a thing."
"So what brings you here, child?"
"You do, Momma," Rogue said softly, "Ah wasn't sure if you'd
already pulled up stakes after Kitty an' I were here, but
I was hopin' you'd still be around. It's Christmas Eve, after
"An' I was wonderin' if we could spend it together.
Reenie always said it was a time foh family -- an' this is
the first one Ah ever belonged to. I haven't forgotten that,
Momma -- an' I don't want to. You an' Reenie gave me a life
that was worth livin'. She might be gone, but you're still
here -- Ah was hopin' we could make up foh lost time, that
is, if ya want to..."
"Of course, darling -- I'd like that very much. Just give
me a minute to get my coat."
As she entered the room where she had been packing, the tear
that she had fought off successfully when facing her daughter
fell from her right eye. She carefully wiped it away as she
retrieved her coat from the sofa. Sparing a last look at the
gleaming mask on the mantelpiece, she paused for a moment
before leaving the room.
A time for family, indeed...
"Thank you," she whispered, then hurried to meet their daughter.
This story was largely inspired by X-Men issues 93-94 -- especially
by one picture of Rogue, Irene and Raven at Christmas which
Kitty was seen to be examining in the apartment. There isn't
a lot of canon reference to Destiny (unfortunately), so I
had to make it up as I went along. However, I didn't do that
without guidance from a number of people who were able to
supply me with what hints have been canonically dropped over
the years. Tilman Stieve and Karolina Phillips were both invaluable
resources, and I don't think I would have been able to write
this without the information they generously gave to me. As
well, thanks go to both Redhawk and Phil Hartman, who also
took the time to respond to my posts begging for information
Thanks also to Tilman (again) and to Valerie Jones, who very
graciously found the time to beta-read.
"Be as hard as the world forces you to be --
and be as soft as the world allows you to be." -- Sensei Chuck
Down-Home Charm / Fan-Fiction /
Fan Artwork / History Books /
Photo Album / Songbank /
Miscellania / Links /
Legalese: Rogue, the X-Men, and the distinctive likenesses thereof
are Trademarks of Marvel Characters, Inc. and are used without permission. This is an
unofficial fansite, and is not sponsored, licensed or approved by