Erik watched as she spread the local goat cheese over the local coarse bread, took a bite, and grinned with her even white teeth. He couldn't help but smile back. She wasn't particular. That had never mattered. He might be an aesthete, but he was a survivor, too, and he shared with her in full measure the appreciation of bread and cheese, a fire and a reasonably soft place to sit.
He leaned forward to pour them some wine. Again, local, but it would do. He'd been allowed nothing alcoholic in prison--the sheer prudery of an administration willing to kidnap schoolchildren but refusing to authorize money for a simple glass of wine would never cease to make him laugh. At least, until he remembered the one drug that they hadn't had any pangs of conscience over. He hastily passed her a glass. "Have I told you how very clever your plan to rescue me was?"
She had already almost finished the bread. "Yes, but don't let that stop you from telling me again."
"Truly. Remarkably imaginative. Some people might have settled for simply impersonating the man, but you..."
"Stryker was too paranoid. My way was less risky. Besides..."
"You knew I'd enjoy it."
"Locked up, studied, drugged..."
Her normally flat voice had an undercurrent of husky feeling to it. "Oh, yes, my dear. I really can't thank you properly."
She drank off the wine in one draft. He did the same, watching the line of her fine throat, letting his appreciation of it elevate the mediocre red to something almost extraordinary. "I think you should try."
She straddled him in one swift movement, and it was almost too much for him right there. A year was a very long time to be confined to steadily paling fantasies. He bit her throat and ran his hands up her arms, reveling in the way the exquisite softness of blue skin turned into the cool dry slickness of the scales.
The first time they'd been together, she'd stopped him just when things were starting to get interesting. "One thing. If this is a pose, you can get out now."
He'd been honestly baffled. "A pose?"
"The great mutant liberator, with a mutant who can't pass."
"Don't you know how beautiful you are?"
She'd tossed her head. "Of course I do. And I won't waste my time with anyone who doesn't."
He could have told her then, that to have the cool, self-possessed stalk of the international fashion model when one was a model was nothing, but to have it when one's skin was blue and scaly was transcendent--but he already knew that Mystique was a practical woman, and he'd told her with touch instead. It hadn't changed, nothing had changed, as she rode him, warm and wet and exactly tight enough for him, hands scratching at his back, mewling with raw sensual pleasure. All that was new was a sudden, strange desire, that he could change for her delight as she did for him. "Lovely woman," he whispered, and knew he was slipping into other, older languages, and didn't care. "So lovely."
When he climaxed, it was hard enough to have been a bolt of his native power through him. He jerked his hand down to her, for just the most minute touch of that power, and she was done, too.
She allowed herself to settle down around him, with him still inside her. "Erik..." she murmured in his ear, on a long, shuddering sigh. "I've missed you."
"You've had other lovers," he said, teasingly.
He kissed her shoulder. "Robert Kelly wasn't chaste."
He could feel her tense. "I wasn't thinking of those."
And he'd known she hadn't been, of course. Still. "I'm sorry to have to subject you to such tedium."
A jerk of her head, and those yellow eyes were meeting his. "You're talking in the present tense."
"Yes. A U.S. senator is far too valuable an asset to give up."
She slid away from him backward, her flesh flowing in that inhumanly graceful way, but her scales fluttering. "You want me to go back. And be that."
"For now, yes."
She held herself still for a moment, not looking at him. He waited for her; he knew better than to upset her complex shifts towards dignity. When she looked up, she was different. Smooth again. "A U.S. senator can't be seen with a male lover."
He moved closer, touching her cheek with the backs of his fingers. "Then we'll simply have to arrange for some vacations for you."
She laughed, throaty and gorgeous. "Come here."
He came, but protested, "My dear...I am an older man..."
She put her arms around him. "After a year? I think we can manage it somehow."
And they did, of course. She slept afterwards, the sleep of someone who had not had true rest for a very long time. He stroked her hair and promised himself that she would be rewarded. He would give her a world in which such beauty would never have to hide itself again.