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4 Times Raven Pretended to Be John Watson and 1 Time She Wouldn’t
Four or five different prompts from crossover exchange smashed into a story.   Covers the entire X-men movie run.

~1~
(Pre X-Men, First Class)

“Raven, there’s more to being a person than looking like them.” Charles was still arguing a point that Raven had won years ago. “Little details matter, you have to know their mannerisms and history. Do a little research.”

“You know how few normals are even suspicious that I’m replacing someone else and that only happens if I enter too soon after they leave.” Non-mutants were stupid and if Raven could trick them without half trying, then they deserved to be tricked. One-half of happily married couples were normally the fastest to catch on to the fact that the person wearing their significant other’s face wasn’t quite right. In a dark London pub, well after most patrons had started drinking, Raven could imitate any person in the place and no one would notice. Even if she stood right next to the original form.

Charles had that familiar half-pitying, half-chiding look on his face like Raven was missing the point. Raven was missing the point, not surprisingly, but from the stubborn set of Charles’ chin she was about to learn whatever the soon-to-be professor wanted to teach her. “Look over my shoulder,” Charles ordered. Raven looked. She had a feeling that her adoptive brother would be directing her to the two men seated at the bar. She could identify the slight pressure of Charles unconsciously using his telepathy. Raven found comfort in the pressure and would never tell Charles. He would never read her thoughts; he had promised. He needed to work on his gift as much as she did hers. “Two men are at the bar, neither one is like us.” Meaning neither one was a mutant. “The taller dark-haired one is who you’ll try to fool. That’s Sherlock Holmes. I’ll distract the other one, Dr. John Watson, for you. I bet you…” Charles pulled out his wallet and checked for cash, “twenty guineas that he’ll be suspicious within thirty minutes, well before I’ll be ready to end my conversation with Dr. Watson.”

Raven nicked the money and grinned. “You’re on.”

Charles placed two fingers to his temple and Raven wasn’t surprised to hear Dr. Watson excuse himself to use the bathroom. Raven and Charles followed. He would keep Watson busy and she would enter the pub from the direction of the male restrooms.

Raven checked her watch and estimated the amount of time Watson would normally take. Then she got impatient. Besides, it wouldn’t due for Watson to see someone else wearing his face.

Sherlock glanced toward Raven’s new form and immediately did a double take. His dark eyes were piercing. Raven knew better than to pause. She walked right up to John Watson’s pint and took a sip.

“You normally take a minute more in the loo and why aren’t your hands damp? Your gate was off, feminine.” The man’s eyes narrowed even further. “Were you hypnotized?” Holmes looked past Raven trying to identify the mysterious hypnotist. She could feel Charles laughing in her head. I expect all of my money returned, her brother told her. While Raven’s appearance didn’t change, inside she bristled at Charles. She wanted to spend it all in revenge for setting her up to lose, but they were guineas. If Holmes had noticed everything else about Raven in seconds, he would notice the guineas. Guineas were a gentleman’s coin and only Charles would bring them to a pub. Everyone else would have pounds. Even a doctor, presumably a gentleman, would have brought pounds instead of guineas. When Raven waitressed, she was only paid in pounds. Charles normally carried both, but Raven had only seen the guineas in his wallet.

She wanted to curse and then tell Charles’ professors that obviously they weren’t challenging her brother if he had time to work all this out before this evening. She had been played, well and truly. Sherlock Holmes knew something was wrong and Raven had thirty minutes to keep the man occupied and away from the truth.

Well, if Sherlock Holmes thought John Watson was hypnotized, Raven would play up his assumptions. She had seen (and challenged) Charles into laying mental commands much like a hypnotist. She had a favorite trick. “You’re ridiculous,” Raven sniffed. After all, the best hypnotists wouldn’t let their subject be aware of the reprogramming.

“Really? So if I ask for a list of all the men in the loo and their deduce-“

“Squawk!” Raven made Watson look surprised at such a sound coming out of his mouth.

She had made Holmes pause in a bit of shock. Then a slow smile inched over the man’s face. “That’s amusing.”

“Not amusing, Sherlock,” Raven retorted.

“Did-“

Raven, as Watson, squawked again.

“So,” Holmes drawled out the word. “Words beginning with the letter D…”

On cue, Raven squawked again. People were beginning to turn and look and though Raven didn’t mind, she had a feeling that Watson would not appreciate being the center of attention. Not to mention that Raven couldn’t make too big of a spectacle or the real Watson would come and investigate.

Much the amusement of the pub patrons, Raven spent the next five minutes squawking every time Sherlock spoke a word beginning with ‘D.’ ‘Watson’ tried several ways to break the hypnotic suggestion. First, he spoke over Sherlock, using some truly (if Raven did say so herself) foul and inventive language. Then he/she covered his/her ears so that they couldn’t hear Sherlock speak. The man simply yelled louder.

In the end, Raven huffed, “You’re being impossible,” and stomped away. In truth, her voice was getting raw from all the squawking. She just had to get out of sight long enough for the deduced hypnotist to unprogram Watson. She rounded the corner, ducked into the shadows and shifted into her preferred blonde-headed body.

Charles was sitting at a private table talking to the doctor and from his body language, thoroughly enjoying the conversation. The doctor was murmuring how surprising it was that Holmes had let him out of sight for so long, but Charles was returning the conversation to medicine, genetics and research.

Holmes rounded the corner almost immediately. He spied Watson and Charles together and was not pleased.

Watson spotted him and waved. “Homes, there’s this gent I’d like you to meet. Sherlock Holmes this is Charles Xavier.”

Raven could see Holmes trying to logically explain the change in demeanor. He stalked toward Charles and glared at him. “Talented hypnotist, I gather?”

Charles was trying not to laugh and only succeeding if the audience wasn’t familiar with him. “Doctoral student of genetics.”

Raven was sure that every clue on Charles’ body would convince Holmes, but it was amusing watch the man puzzle it out. Raven wandered to the group and leaned over Charles and wrapped arms around his neck, the very picture of a bored younger sibling. “Are you done talking about boring stuff yet?”

Charles sighed, ever the long suffering brother. “I suppose so. Dr. Watson, John,” he corrected himself to the familiar, stood and then nodded to the tall, thin man. “Mr. Holmes. It was a pleasure to meet you both.” Holmes was still horribly confused, but Watson looked like he had enjoyed Charles’ relaxing nature.

As soon as they were out of the pub, Charles leaned close and asked her, “What did you learn?” Ever the professor.

Well, Raven knew better than to concede to Charles. “That if you brazen it out, you can fool even the most observant.”

Charles’ eye roll was worth the money that she’d have to return.


~2~
(Sometime during X-Men First Class and before Inception)

Raven was walking London alone. Charles was doing God knows what at Oxford and Raven was feeling playful. A woman along on the streets was just asking for harassment, so Raven chose the appearance of a certain short, blond, mostly invisible doctor. No one noticed her. Then a slight young man in a brown leather jacket (not quite a bomber’s, but it was tailored) and slicked-back black hair walked beside her.

The stranger greeted her, “Captain?”

In a country full of a generation of men with military titles, Raven could be forgiven for not realizing that he had been addressing her.

“Captain Watson?”

Now Raven turned to face a strange sight: the man was rolling a single die. He seemed surprised by how it landed. He glared at Raven, somehow knowing that Dr. Watson wouldn’t have forgotten or ignored him. His hand tightened under his jacket. He had a weapon.

“I’m dreadfully sorry,” Raven called. “But I’m late for surgery.” She hurried away. She had no defense against a gun.

She considered it lucky that he didn’t shoot her in the back.


~3~
(Not long after X-Men First Class)

If Charles teased and cajoled and prodded Raven into learning more about the people she imitated, Erik demanded Mystique research and study for missions. He accepted no less. Missions weren’t to be left to chance or winging it. So Mystique studying and practiced and went on a couple short term missions. She knew how to prove to Erik (and herself) that she could replace anyone: fool Sherlock Holmes as John Watson.

She finally studied the man, the doctor, the career and the odd friendship. Some could be conducted via research and other times she had to watch the two men. Once she had memorized all of the doctor’s mannerism and knew his history, Mystique had an opportunity to approach Sherlock Holmes. They were in the midst of a long-standing conversation of Sherlock trying (and failing) to teach John to be more observant. Mystique could use that.

John was supposed to meet Sherlock in the park for a picnic, more of an observation and deduction exercise, but had been held up at the hospital.

Mystique appeared in John’s place. Sherlock seemed to be fooled. They drank their tea and sat on the grass. Mystique enjoyed eating John’s sandwich as Sherlock quizzed her on the other park-goers.

“What about that man?”

Mystique looked to the couple on the blanket. Married, they both wore rings. The same age, late forties, so they met young. She watched the man follow the ass of a spritely twenty year old blonde jogging. He glanced at his watch and then at his cell phone. The matching wedding bands were of the highest quality, as was the rest of her jewelry. His watch was in the middlin-high range. He gave every appearance of listening to his wife when she was facing him, but he was ignoring her when she wasn’t. Mystique had seen it all before. She had done it all before while on a mission and trying to give the mark’s wife a clue. For a normal, the mark’s wife had been kind and had actually argued with her supposed husband for mutant rights. Mystique had tried her best to leave clues of the multiple affairs all over their house so the wife would get mad and kick him out. It served multiple purposes: Mystique could leave and no one would be looking for her and if the mark ever returned from wherever the other mutants had stashed him (unlikely) his life as he knew it would be destroyed.

“Well?” Sherlock prompted.

“Married for most of their life, but he’s stepping out on her. Probably with a younger blonde or two. He knows when the mistress will be available and is expecting a call.”

Sherlock grinned, delighted. “Yes. Those’re the easy things. Go on.”

“He liked his wife when he married her, but he’s staying now for her money.”

Sherlock appeared impressed. He pointed to a group of university students, “What about them?”

Mystique settled into the character of John Watson and spoke her observations. Maybe he wouldn’t be as good at reading body language as the shapeshifter, but appearing brilliant in front of his flatmate would sooth Mystique’s soul.

And it would be amusing to consider Watson, days from now, trying to match Mystique’s work… and failing.

~4~
(Sometime after X-Men)

Mystique had a day of downtime before she had to be a certain diplomat at an international conference. She didn’t want any reminders of the past. For the moment, she didn’t want any reminders of the conflict. She couldn’t even bear the thought of staying in London where every smell carried a memory and the pulse on the streets reminded of happier days. So she took the train to an outlaying town and walked in anonymity. To her surprise, she saw a familiar face: Dr. John Watson was walking into town, relying on a cane. He had aged, as normal humans tended to do.

If Watson was in town, then Sherlock had to be in the opposite direction.

Mystique bought a cane identical to Watson’s and transformed into the elderly doctor. It didn’t take much deduction to find their residence. Sherlock was outside of a small cottage, keeping bees. Mystique wasn’t sure how much he had aged, since he was covered in netting.

Sherlock Holmes looked up at Mystique and smiled to be viewed through the protective gear. It was probably the first genuine smile Mystique had ever received from the genius without earning it by passing some observational quiz. (It was probably the first genuine smile she had seen in a year of battles against normal humans.) She was fooling him. She had perfected Doctor John Watson, Retired. She wanted to call up Charles and gloat, even if it meant that he would refer to her as Raven during the phone call.

“So the new medicine is relieving the arthritis,” Sherlock surmised happily.

And damnit. She had gotten something wrong again. She could lie, she could easily agree about the medication. She could do any number of actions that would make John Watson’s life hard for the next couple of days, but she was tired. It was too much work and the emotional rewards were little. She was jealous that John had someone who cared about the paltry pain of arthritis. She had had to fix herself after Wolverine had sliced her. No one had even asked about her health after the fact. She would bask in Sherlock’s contentment for a little while.

So she shrugged and, using the cane, limped into the cottage. She fixed herself some tea and drank it as she watched Sherlock examine the hives. She didn’t miss all of the times that Sherlock would glance her way. She would enjoy the quiet, the hum of the bees, and then she would slip out the back door and be on her way before John returned home.


~and 1 again~
(Spoilers: All of the X-Men movies)

She had been in bed, not sleeping but not motivated enough to move. She wasn’t hungry. She didn’t want to hear London outside her window. Since Erik had abandoned her, she was nothing.

She was a shadow no longer secure in her own skin. Oh, how she had delighted in changing her appearance with every whim.

“Well, Mystique.”

Consumed by her morose thoughts, she hadn’t heard the intruder. She knew that voice. She had talked to that man for hours upon hours and yet this was the first time he had addressed her (almost) correctly.

Raven rebuffed Sherlock Holmes. “Mystique is no more.” Without her mutation, she was nothing more than a dull Raven.

“I deduced as much since you didn’t try to kill me on sight.”

That would have taken too much energy and passion. Raven rolled over and gave the white-haired man the cold shoulder.

“I want to hire you.”

“No.”

“I can pay.”

“I don’t care.”

“I can make it worth your while.”

“I can’t,” Raven spit out, finally admitting the truth in the face of such stubbornness. She turned and glared at the man, her blond hair swirling in her anger. “I was infected with the cure.”

“I know. I’ve seen your interrogations, but I also know that the cure is not permanent.”

Raven tried not to be surprised. Very few were aware of that. “It’s permanent enough.”

Sherlock stared at her and Raven knew he was regrouping to try a different tactic. “You have a friend, that’s more like family, a telepath.”

Raven froze. Sherlock saw, of course. He saw everything. With Erik tossing her aside like garbage, Raven had nowhere to go. She had nothing. She didn’t have her powers, not like before, nothing that she could control as easy as breathing, but at least they were returning. Slowly. Like a glacier melting. She had no identity. She had been thinking about sure things. Charles’ love for Raven had always been a sure thing even if she had hurt him numerous times. So maybe she had been thinking things through, trying to figure out if she could still be a shadow of the Raven of before to return to the only place that had felt like home. Following Erik had been fun and exciting and adventurous and purposeful, but it had been transitory. Charles was stable, maybe a bit boring and stuffy but a rock of acceptance. If this normal said anything wrong about Charles, Raven would kill him. If he mentioned Erik, Raven would torture him.

“I think he left a message for you in my subconscious.”

And that was Charles, all ethics and right and wrong except when it interfered with protecting those under his care. Never mind that Raven hadn’t been in his care for decades. “What’s the message?”

“I don’t know it unless I see John acting differently.”

“Liar.”

Sherlock smiled. “Yes, I am, but so are you. I know you can do reasonably well. You followed John for weeks before that picnic. I’ll accept that version of John.”

“I can’t,” Raven told the detective. “I can change eye color and the superficial, but I rarely was good enough to fool you in the pinnacle of my control. That picnic was the height of my control. I would never fool you now. You haven’t gotten stupid with age.”

Sherlock nodded at the fact, but he didn’t preen as he would have as a younger man. They both had grown and matured. “I have something that will help.” He pulled a syringe and a vial of clear liquid out of his pocket.

Raven leaned forward despite herself. “An antidote for the cure?”

“Heroin. For me.”

Raven scoffed. An antidote would have been worth her time. Cash was not. “I am not a trained monkey to perform at your leisure,” she spat.

“Not even for your brother’s message?” Sherlock taunted. “I can guess that your relationship with your brother is as fractious as mine. You work with me and you can get the message without dealing with your brother gloating.”

Sherlock had a point, but Raven knew the truth. “I am unable,” she enunciated. She wouldn’t tell him to return in a month or a year. She didn’t know when her abilities would return and she would be far away from England when it happened.

Sherlock pouted.

Raven didn’t care. She forced herself out of bed and started packing. She didn’t know how Sherlock had found her, but she was leaving. She wouldn’t let anyone else find her.

“There’s room for you at home,” Sherlock said grudgingly. “You have a room there.”

Raven smiled to herself. Charles, you sentimental old fool. She had gathered all of her belongings. Sherlock was still sitting next to her bed. Raven couldn’t change her appearance and she didn’t want to, but if she did nothing she would feel like she owed the normal. She would not be indebted to Sherlock Holmes.

So she changed her throat and said, “Sherlock,” in John’s voice. Sherlock’s entire countenance brightened. “For God’s sake, take care of yourself.”

And then she was gone. She would never return to England.

~*~