A Time to Embrace

The devil hauled her sputtering into a vat of frigid water that soaked her instantly to the bone. Cold leather melded against her taut flesh. She fought him, struggled, kicking, scratching, hitting—until suddenly the water was no longer cold. She froze in the humming heat charged around her.

Pink glow lit up the cavern, glowing from the water. The heat of his fingers seeped through the material of her bodysuit. Charged molecules bumped up against her, starting a low whine. Low, seductive whispers in the devil's tongue.


She walked through the fiery, wet, blanketing, enfolding heat to reach him, shuddered beneath his sensitive touch. Gloves traced her body roughly, suddenly no longer gentle. He scrubbed her quickly, every place the mud and blood had covered her, washing out the filth of her hair, her suit, her skin beneath the tears. She stared at the shadowed stubble on his chin. Her hands dug tightly into his arms, holding on to stay aright beneath his brutal ministrations.

And then it was over. He stared at her. She shuddered beneath the intensity, the heat, of that veiled gaze. She would not look at him, would not speak.

At least...

But she could not think it, forget whose lair she was in. Cold, sinister whispers of telepathy penetrated the air in these caverns. A younger, more heated power roiled in a dance with his. She could not think, could not feel, let those brushing tendrils of empathy and charm wheel her into the devil's kiss, could not let them bend her, shape her, mold her to their will. She would not have been the first.

This moment had stretched too long, but the angel did not dare to lift her eyes to the devil's gaze. She thought of the battle, focused hard upon it. She could not lose this battle, even with his fingers hot on her arm, reaching upward, tracing fire across her breast, cupping her chin. She closed her eyes as he tilted it back.

She was utterly surrounded in his power. The heat roiling in the water. The fierce, brightening glow in her bodysuit. The painful, hushing, lulling sensations about her emotions. Reeling her in, coaxing, begging her to let him touch her in the most intimate of ways.

Too long. She grasped for something, anything, to break the woven spell he so quickly entrapped her with.

The chimera.

For a moment, she fought it, prickling it with all the invasive spears of her mind, and the chimera roared to life, a thousand heads of thought, emotion—a thousand voices clamoring for relief.

He snapped back, one hand releasing her, the other tightening painfully around her wrist. He dragged her from the vat. She hissed and bit her mouth so the blood came at the rough way her body hit the edges, hit the concrete slab of a floor, hit the wall. He pushed her ahead of him and she went.

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The ange woke in a haze, body enveloped in a warm comfort that dulled her senses and yet, so familiar, so...

Her hand gripped the sheets as she shot upright. She didn't look up, shivered violently, realizing in horror her torn bodysuit had been exchanged for one of her own silky nightgowns she had worn once upon a time in this room.

Anywhere, anywhere but here.

But she was here.

This silence was deceptive, ingratiating, swirling with the scent of cigarettes and spices. Her skin prickled with awareness of his gaze. It had been so long. Or had it?

Her thoughts stuttered to a halt.

"What am Ah doin' heah?" the angel asked abruptly, suddenly bringing up her fierce emerald gaze to meet the devil's.

He was watching her, leaning against the inside of his own doorway, blowing out smoke from another cigarette. This was what it took then to bring out the Rogue, neh? The diable's dark gaze blazed over her. She clutched at the sheet to cover herself. It wasn't enough.

Never quite enough.

He pushed off the frame, closing the door with a short gesture, and glided toward her. She could not help but watch. Nothing had changed. He was all liquid and shadow, darkness and terror, and yet everything she ever wanted. But he was not hers. Never had been. Everything had changed, but never quite enough.

He deliberately leaned over her--too close she could almost taste him, all spices and fire—to stub out his cigarette in the ash tray on the nightstand, deliberately held her stare steadily with his while he did it.

She hardened her eyes. "What am Ah doing here?" she repeated, enunciating the words into knife points.

His black and red gaze burned into her eyes, drowning her in heat and hurt and hardness and promise, and she knew then that this was punishment for her arrival, for failing to do the one thing she had always done.

He leaned over and kissed her.

His wrath tasted dark and spicy on her tongue. His body fit against hers with a pained familiarity, but his hands were rough and hard on her flesh.

"'M de diable t' your ange, neh?" he whispered against her mouth. She breathed him into her veins like poison. "'M just your devil." He nuzzled the word against the hollow of her neck, hands sliding downward as his kisses traveled down her body, shadowed the curve of her hip as she swallowed. "De sin t' your flesh."

He kissed the bared skin of her leg and she whimpered. She could not help but respond to him.

Every single job, she took inventory of only one thing: was he there, waiting for her. She had failed one time, and this was her punishment.

"Ah never wanted to fight ya," she whispered.

His grip on her hips tightened, and he sat up. His red devil eyes burned down into her own.

"All I wanted was y'."

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She strokes the back of his neck with long, slender fingers, allowing the softness of his hair to brush her skin. She has been sitting for a while, thinking, in the barely lit darkness of his room. Finally, she bends over his head and kisses him.

He stirs in her arms, but does not reach out to brighten the lamp. Of course, he doesn't need to—not with his red and black devil eyes. Diable...

"Y' ever goin' t' sleep?" he murmurs against her and sits up on one arm to stare at her.

She looks into those beautiful eyes, the way they burn and draw her in. Only he can find her in the reeling, boiling morass of her mind, and when their gazes meet, she is the only one beneath her skin.

A small smile, then she shakes her head gently, still not willing to let go of him.

He arches an eyebrow. Always could see through her. "What's botherin' y', chère?" He asks with that confident tone that means he's sure she's going to tell him.

He gets a glare for that.

"Mah debt's about paid," she blurts before she can lose the strength of will again.

They remain staring. Nothing has changed, and yet...everything has changed. His face is like a stone. He rolls over, swings his legs off the bed, and rests his arms on his knees.

"Y' leavin'?"

Her hands, now empty, are restless. She fiddles with the edge of the blanket. "Been thinkin' about it." She shrugs, even if it's to his back. How can she speak these thoughts that flit about her mind? Memories... Of a home. "Ah have a mama," she says. "Raven."

Raven has never been on good terms with Essex.

He does not answer for a long moment. Finally, still staring at the wall and not at her: "You and him don't change you and me."

She catches her breath. Essex owns him, body and soul. "Ah don't ever want ta faght ya."

He turns. A deceptively genuine smile. He leans over, pins her beneath him. "All I want is y'."

She tastes the heat of his mouth, the sweetness of his sincerity...

The bitterness of the lie.

    House of Mirrors

    FANDOM: X-Men (comics)

    STORY SUMMARY: The many threads of the multiverse are ripe for the plucking. Pick a card, any card. Once. Twice. Pick another. It's a House of Mirrors. Enjoy your stay.

    DISCLAIMERS: Marvel owns it all. I'm just twisting it around a bit.

    CANONICAL NOTES: AU, sort of. More like, visits to some other threads.

    LANGUAGE AND ACCENTS: Cajun French is courtesy of Heavenmetal (many thanks). I will attempt to reproduce accents in this story arc.

    AUTHOR'S NOTE: I never intended to start this, but a certain Cajun had other ideas. If this is frighteningly out of my norm, blame him.

    (UNBOUND) entries are in drafting phase and are likely to change radically before complete.



    1. Diable
    1.1 Devils And Angels
    1.2 Pain And Subterfuge
    3. Traiteur
    3.1 Althea Root
    4. Requital
    4.1 Mercy

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