mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: Jean regenerates in the cold waters of the lake. She won't wake up alone, this time.

"Are you okay?" The woman seemed concerned but surprisingly calm, considering that she'd just pulled a leather-clad woman out of a lake.

Jean peered at her. "Do I know you? I think I know you." Her voice was still raspy, but now the woman was close enough to hear.

"Yes, you do. Are you in pain? Cold? Hungry? I've got a fire going." She took Jean's smooth hand in her own calloused one and pulled her to her feet. "Come on."


Jean awakens in Alkali Lake, but this time she's not alone. In it's own way, I think this is one of the scariest stories I've read in this fandom, and I really like this take on Mystique.

Hide a Hundred Girls in Your Hair
mutatismutandis: Bobby's ice rose. (Gifted)
Summary: He's made himself a uniform, but he doesn't wear it.

He flies with Moira just barely visible in the corner of his eye, existing mostly in the haze beyond the edge of his glasses. Her fingers grip the armrest, aware of her own mortality in a way the others don't seem to be. He doesn't look at her any more than he needs to.

Clever ficlet in which First Class turns out rather differently for Hank. A interesting possibility.

Working at Cross-Purposes
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: She is not the pretty stone attached to a ring, she is the brink of disaster, a blade so sharp that the pain kicks in long after the damage is done.

Raven figured that Erik would teach her self-defense.

Charles had probably pictured a judo lesson, the kind where you roll around on squashy gym mats and bow to each other and pretend to dodge punches that come in slow motion.

What Erik really shows her is fighting. Raven spends the majority of the lesson panting on the ground, a copper-sweet taste on her tongue like biting down on metal.

Where Charles would be concerned with providing a soft space to land, Erik pulls her legs from under her and watches her hit the ground. Raven knows there is a moral somewhere in that, but the way her shoulder is throbbing with pain makes it kind of hard to concentrate.


Four missing scenes from the film, with four women learning, choosing, moving on. I love the way this story manages to draw a thematic line between these characters, and their hearts are indeed fierce.

And your heart is fierce
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: Jean Grey gets called to the hospital to help them deal with an injured and under arrest Toad.

I can feel him waking up from here. I can feel the blind panic, can practically smell the crackling ozone. He's reliving the lightning strike. His heart is racing, which is not good in his condition, since his heart's already taken a hell of a beating. He's lucky to be alive. Do the right thing, Jean. He needs to calm down. There's three police officers, two orderlies, and a nurse in here with me. Worst case scenario, someone's spraying solvent in my face in thirty seconds.

After X1, Jean Grey is called in to treat one of the Brotherhood members who tried to kill her. An interesting meditation on how the X-Men and the authorities, as well as Jean on a personal level, might deal with a mutant like Toad.

Witness for the Defense
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: It's remarkably difficult to entice new soldiers to their just and righteous cause of mutant supremacy when the only thing the potential recruits can think throughout the course of the conversation is, "I'm just not sure I can follow somebody who wears a silly cape – oh, shit, I hope the telepath didn't hear that."

That was when the medieval swords hanging for show above the villa fireplace had tied themselves into knots and began to glow a deep, menacing red. Erik strode from the room, his ridiculous cape sweeping behind him, and slammed the door.

A second later, he had to open the door and slam it again, because he still hadn't quite got the hang of sweeping the cape all the way through the door before shutting it.


The Brotherhood have an image problem, and its name is Magneto. Emma and the others set out to solve it. Both insightful and really, really funny. (This also earns bonus points with me for the parts where Mystique tells her new friends hilariously embarrassing stories about Charles.)

The Emperor's New Clothes
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: All actions have consequences.

The faint smell of decay in the mansion is getting stronger with each day. He's learning to live with it, but he'll never get used to it. Stagnant water, old blood, singed flesh.

He tries not to stare when she drifts past in the corridors, to not look at her grey skin. To meet the fiery emptiness of her eyes with love, instead of letting his gaze slide away in revulsion. He never quite manages.


After X2, Jean comes back ... wrong. Effectively creepy, and I love the characterization of Scott here, faced with the thing his fiance has become.

Bring Out Your Dead
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: Thanks to recent events, Storm finds herself in charge of the desperately under-staffed Xavier Institute for Gifted Youngsters. It puts her in the uncomfortable position of having lunch with Emma Frost, a woman who never quite managed to choose a side.

The restaurant is Emma’s choice. Storm would have liked to have met somewhere else, somewhere a bit more private, but she gave in because it really doesn’t matter. She’s learning that being in charge sometimes means a great deal of compromising. She looks down at the crisp white tablecloth and sighs. She wishes Scott was here, or Jean. It’s lonely being the last one of them left, lonelier than she ever would have imagined.

“Ororo. So sorry I’m late.”

Storm looks up at that, taking in Emma’s appearance as she stands sedately by the table, dressed as always in flawless, crisp white. Her diamonds flash as she sits, crossing her legs at the ankle and arranging her napkin in her lap with a flourish. “It’s all right,” Storm says evenly. She’s not fooled. Emma’s late because she wants to be.


After X3, Ororo and the school are in dire need of help, and that means looking for unconventional aid. I really like the portrait of Emma here. The story also builds effectively on one of the few personality traits that Storm was actually given in the films - her frustration with mutants who won't choose a side.

There Is A War
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: Does she dare disturb the universe? X3 wasn't the first time Jean Grey wrestled with her powers. Set about 10 years before the first movie.

"He doesn't dream," I realize, and at the same moment I say it out loud. Not, as some would say, because my impulsive temper matches my red hair, but merely because I do not always remember the line between thought and speech.

Vail freezes, mid-drone and pivots slowly to look at me. "Miss Grey. Perhaps you would like to lead us today, with your vast expertise in the subject." His sarcasm drips, for all to hear, but no one else witnesses the fantasy in which he pushes me against the wall and reaches under my labcoat. He thinks that I would cry and kick, at first, but quickly surrender. This is what women like me really want.

He has an active imagination.


A portrait of Jean in medical school, struggling with her abilities and with the difference between thought and action. I love the characterization here, and it's great to see Cecelia Reyes turn up in the movieverse.

Phoenix: Lovesong (The J. Alfred Prufrock Mix)
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: The mutant named Darwin can survive anything, but some situations are easier to live with than others.

One pile of dust and ashes was pushed into a corner of a courtyard and forgotten, until it rained a little and the newly-made mud began to push itself upward into a lump. It gathered more debris from the wreckage in a swirling little dust devil and shortly the lump of mud was a golem the size of a man, huddled on a broken paving stone. In a few more minutes, he had human skin, and he stood up, naked. Armando looked around at the empty square, up at the dark sky and found that he was alone and it was the middle of the night, and he didn't know what day it was.

He coughed into his fist, spitting out some stray dust. First order of business, he needed some damn pants.


Darwin's death is the one thing I hate about First Class. (Especially since the first time I saw it I spent the rest of the film expecting him to come back.) As far as I'm concerned, the more fix-it fic the better, and this is a favourite of mine. It's a lovely take on the subject, as Darwin adapts his way back to life, to his friends, and to Alex Summers in particular.

The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: Five times when Charles wanted to read someone's mind, but promised not to, and one time he accidentally did.

Moira walks beside him on the grass, sunlight on her hair, and he recalls vividly the half-drunk memory of their first meeting, the strangely distant euphoria of seeing more mutants, more people like him, even just through her eyes. He's oddly glad he wasn't entirely sober during that conversation, since even then he suspects he'd have given himself away too obviously in his delight. How little he could have imagined this, even those few short weeks ago...

"You'd better not be reading my mind, Charles."

He blinks and turns to her, stopping short, surprised at her words. "Why would I be?"


One of the most interesting things about Charles Xavier in First Class is he's a mutant who's come into his powers without anyone to tell him how to use them. Since there isn't an Ethics for Telepaths handbook floating around, he has to work it all out for himself - which is one of the things this story is about. I love the different shades of reaction the other characters have to his powers, and the different ways Charles responds to them.

Five Minds Charles Never Read (And One He Did)
mutatismutandis: Bobby's ice rose. (Gifted)
Summary: One family, two answering machines, and the aftermath of a very different Alkali Lake.

For a flickering, ephemeral instant, he thought that the jet was taking off without them, that the X-Men hadn't noticed their absence in their rush to squirrel the hostages out of Stryker's compound. He pulled his too-thin jacket closer, tucked his head down, and lengthened his stride into the best sprint he could manage.

Then Rogue gasped, and he realized that the rumble he heard wasn't the thudding, grating roar of pistons and gears. It was the living scream of the sea, the sound of hundreds of thousands of gallons of water clashing against one another as they tumbled end-over-end, wild, unstoppable...


I like the way this story is told - sort of epistolary but with answering machines instead of letters. More than that, though, I like the idea. This is a universe where the events at Alkali Lake went a different direction, but not necessarily a better one. Painful and clever.

Acts of God
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: "Fire gods. They always have to make trouble of one sort or another.”

Bobby Drake held two things, one tightly and one loosely, in his hands. The first was a postcard, No Rest for the Wicker printed at the bottom of a black-and-white photograph showing a long line of people snaking through a field in front of a set of wicker furniture. He had both sides memorized. The back had a twenty-three cent stamp (greenish, white profile of Washington, ponytail and all), slapped crookedly into the box in the upper right-hand corner; it had a postmark stamped half into the message on the left side, dated five days before today from Parkersburg, West Virginia. The letters were scrawled (typical), slanting up. The pen had died a few words in, and the note changed color.

Magneto called Pyro a god among insects, but if he remembered his comparative mythology he would know that fire gods always cause the most trouble. I love the use of the legends here, and the deft characterization of John as well.

The Agnihotri
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Agent Xavier)
Summary: What might have happened had X1 not ended so well.

The calendar in the box room still read October 2010, but she knew it was later than that. She had no mirror, because she'd thrown it out of the window an autumn ago, or maybe a spring ago, and judged her age by the rough and lined hands that she would stare at as they tried to grip at her fork and knife.

She asked her nurses which year it was, but they never told her.


A poignant story about what might have happened to Jean - and, by extension, to everyone else - if things hadn't gone quite so well at the Statue of Liberty. Full of beautiful details that make it sing, from the Jell-O cups to the view from her tiny window.

The Box Room
mutatismutandis: Bobby's ice rose. (Gifted)
Summary: Yuriko remembers other names.

She remembers meeting Stryker for the first time. The memory is sharper, and she remembers things like how his teeth looks as if they would gobble her up. He doesn't smell of cigars or alcohol, like she thought he would.

"You're a very talented young lady, Miss Shan," he had said.


Self-determination isn't the only thing that Stryker took from the woman he turned into Deathstrike. Sharp and incredibly layered for such a short story.

By Any Other Name
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: How do you tell a man who's lived inside his skull for the past seventy years that his mind is rotting away?

We have a few helmets that we've cobbled together, headgear to protect us against the Professor's roving telepathic reach. In his dementia, the Professor sometimes mistakes people for figures from his past and--and he rewrites them, so that, for a while at least, they are who he remembers them to be. I still remember the first time it happened to me; the Professor started calling me "David," and before I could gently remind him that I was Scott, not this David he seemed to mistake me for, I was screaming hysterically and accusing him of abandoning me.

Mutant powers have a way of making real life problems more complicated, and as worst case scenarios for telepaths go, Alzheimer's disease has to be on top of the list. A heartwrenching story of what happens to Charles Xavier and his family as his mind collapses in on itself.

Caducity
mutatismutandis: Emma Frost (White Queen)
Summary: Kitty Pryde tries to understand what the universe has planned for her. Set pre-X1.

When they were finally ready to leave, the tears vanished from Kitty's mom's face as she opened the garage door and firmly nosed the family car past the idle gawkers who gathered daily to watch the mutant house. Some of them, slackers Kitty vaguely recognised from the mall, took photos of the car with their phones. She slouched in her seat and scowled at them as the car moved implacably through the crowd.

"Like they're going to get a photo through the glass. Haven't you heard of polarisation?"


The story of how Kitty Pryde started walking through walls and ended up at Xavier's, with occasional digressions into physics. I love the way this captures Kitty's geekiness - an aspect of her comicverse character that wasn't played up in X3 but not, I feel, at odds with it.

Chirality
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Agent Xavier)
Summary: Cyclops and Wolverine are taken prisoner, and escape is only the beginning of the recovery process.

One of the guards stepped forward and released me. I held still till the man moved away. I didn't want to scare them. I didn't want to scare Summers, either. Despite the dimness of the room and his weakness, I could see him trembling, smell his fear. Strong, acid sweat. His face had a slack quality. He was drugged. I laid a hand on his shoulder. He flinched.

Under the tape, his face was covered with bruises, fresh and greening both, and I could see more on his body. They'd beaten the crap out of him, burned him with cigarettes down one arm. Carefully, I unzipped the front of the coverall and checked his torso, afraid he might have bruised kidneys or some other internal injury that could explain his illness. He tried to shove my hands away, but not with affronted modesty. The fear in him had spiked sharply. "Stop, Scott. It's me." No jokes now. No half-insulting names. "I won't hurt you." He quit fighting but the trembling grew worse.

This was crazy. Even drugged, this was Cyclops. What the hell had they done to him?


A harrowing novel about what happens when Scott and Logan are captured by an organization that has terrible things in mind for both of them. Does an incredible job of exploring both their initial reactions to the experience and the recovery process.

Climb the Wind
mutatismutandis: Xavier, Charles Xavier (Default)
Summary: The blade slid into the flesh, its sharpness balking at first and then easing in with a sickly wet sound.

The Mutant Question was the topic of the day now. It seemed to escape people that the mutants weren’t a real force yet. Some day, perhaps. A generation, maybe two – yes.

Now? Just a tool, whether they wished it or not. There simply weren’t enough of them to coalesce in a movement of their own, no matter how often Magneto got his purple-caped ass kicked in a televised manner. Just a tool to be used by older interests, established and strong, by the entrenched ideas and old hates. Or Ideals.


A fascinating look at how global politics might function in a universe that has mutants in it. Set in both Washington D.C. and Chechnya, this story deftly explores the complications superpowers could add to real-world problems. Some things are different, and others depressingly similar. And X-Men fandom could always use more espionage, international incidents and people getting stabbed in dark alleys.

Cloak and Dagger
mutatismutandis: Emma Frost (White Queen)
Summary: Emma goes to visit an old mentor.

'Welcome to my humble abode.' The same wry smile as always, but tireder, older, in a way not attributable to the passage of years alone. 'I'm afraid we had to move in rather a hurry, and therefore have yet to find the time to decorate.'

You would have been able to make this place into a fortress within minutes, once, she does not say. She supposes it is impolite to point out the obvious failings of others. Not that it's ever stopped her before.

Magneto gestures for her to sit down on one of the wooden chairs. Murder is acceptable, but good manners are vital. Always a gentleman, right to the bitter end.


After the events of X3, Magneto is attempting to make a new army from his old allies, but that might be easier said than done. I love this version of Emma Frost, who is diamond hard in more ways that one, and the perspective on Magneto is a fresh one.

Cold Front
mutatismutandis: Bobby's ice rose. (Gifted)
Summary: After all these years, Mystique looks a little different. Natasha looks exactly the same.

She stands in front of a stool, two down from Mystique, orders a vodka martini, then waits for it, wishing with great intensity for the days you could smoke inside in this city. Because if now were then, she could simply have struck up a conversation by asking for a light.

Also because she would really like a cigarette.


I love crossovers in general, and those that bring other Marvel movie characters into the orbit of the X-Men universe are among my favourite kinds. In this story, Mystique makes contact with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Natasha Romanova. The author borrows Black Widow's comicverse background to good effect, and shows how much she and Mystique have in common - although maybe that's not as much as they used to.

Common Cause

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