Fandom: X-Men: Evolution
Crossposted on AO3: [here]
Pairing: Erik Lehnsherr/Female OC
Chapter Warning: Past/flashback gang rape.
Summary: How best to capture vermin?
Losing a Bet
Snared - Chapter 4
Moxie didn’t know what to expect the first time Magneto’s Acolytes moved to a new safehouse. They did it so quickly... They mentioned they were leaving, but not for where, and when Moxie returned from the woods with a vole in her mouth, rich blood dripping down her throat, they were already half packed.
It was Sabretooth who sniffed her out, turning to look her over. She wondered if all feral mutants had the same golden eyes — she, Todd, and Sabretooth certainly did. She hoped to meet others, someday.
“Well?” Sabretooth snapped, impatient. “You coming?!”
She discarded the vole. There wasn’t enough time to wrench meat off the bone and feed herself. She scurried to where she’d hidden her things, transformed into her two-legged body, and pulled her stolen sundress, her sandals on. Then she climbed into the overlarge truck that hadn’t been parked before the Brotherhood house yesterday. It didn’t matter where they were going, so long as they did not leave her behind.
“Nuh-uh,” Sabretooth protested as he again emerged from the house, arms full of boxes. He pointed a claw at the bed of the truck. “That’s where you go. No room for you in here.”
Moxie didn’t question him. She slid out of the truck, walked around, and climbed into the bed, wedging herself between crates and furniture and the bungee cords strapping them down. The less of a nuisance she made herself, the more likely the Acolytes were to continue tolerating her presence.
Gambit and Pyro crammed into the truck amongst all the boxes, leaving Moxie to assume Colossus and Magneto must be taking different transportation. It was more comfortable to transform, to lay her smaller body on the soft cushion of the sundress, tucked safely between a mattress and a wooden crate.
Sabretooth started the truck up, backing out of the driveway. Moxie curled up, tucking her tail over her paws, and prepared for a long ride.
The first three hours of highway were uneventful. They parked at a rest-stop to pee (Moxie hopped from the bed to squat behind the tire; Gambit tossed a sandwich and a bottled water her way), and then it was back to the road. The muffled music from the body of the truck synced into a pleasant rhythm. The hilly east coast scenery whipping by was pretty; all evergreens and tiny lakes.
Border crossing for Canada was surprising. Moxie had never left the country before. She hid deeper in the boxes when patrol glanced over at her. “Cute dog,” he told Sabretooth, returning his fake passport. Gambit, sunglasses hiding his hellfire eyes, pretended to sleep.
Another hour of driving, and they met with Magneto and Colossus in a blocked-off tunnel, where they ditched the truck (Moxie watched, wide-eyed, as Magneto used his powers to gently change the VIN and the digits on the license plate), before loading themselves and their things into two flatbed trucks, both dirty and battered and therefore invisible. With a snap of his fingers, Pyro burned their fake passports to ash, and Magneto divvied out new ones.
“Change,” he told Moxie, waving a passport, a small purse, at her. “Our new hosts are expecting a girl.”
Moxie changed, quick to slip the dress over her head, the sandals on her dirty feet, and approached to take on the new identity offered to her. Apparently she was now a nineteen-year-old Canadian named Ruth Hartman. When had Magneto snapped this photo of her?
Magneto looked her over. As always, when he looked at her, she felt grubby; inadequate. “Fix your hair, at least,” he sighed. “There should be a comb in the purse.”
She rode in one truck with Magneto and Gambit, self-consciously picking at tangles with the pointy end of her comb. Magneto debriefed them as he drove. “To the owners of the warehouse we’re taking, I’m a newly retired author looking to flip offices into homes with the companionship of my daughter and her boyfriend. Our employees are in the truck behind us; they take charge of manual labor.”
“Daughter?” Moxie cocked her head.
“Well, why else would a young woman like yourself be traveling with a rough group of men? Just stay in the car, and she won’t see your legs. You’re shy, remember; your boyfriend can do all the talking.”
Though she couldn’t see his face from where she sat, Moxie wondered if she was imagining the tinge of amusement in his voice.
Gambit, too, looked as though he wanted to tease, but didn’t know her well enough to try it. “Such a lucky man am I,” he finally settled on. “To have such a fair maiden on my arm.”
Moxie snorted. The comb, snarled in her hair, snapped into two pieces. She plucked a small twig out of her hair and flicked it out the truck window. She wondered if there was still some blood from the vole on her face.
Their warehouse, as it turned out, manufactured bath products before going out of business. The lot smelled to Moxie and Sabretooth’s sensitive noses like a floral hell. He flinched back in the other truck as they approached. Moxie instinctively pressed both hands over her mouth and nose. “Ugh!”
She couldn’t come within ten feet of the building, which she suspected might become a problem, if she was supposed to live there. All the fans in the world couldn’t air that monstrosity out; the chemical fruitiness had soaked into the very walls. Five minutes in there would burst her skull like a grape.
She was so distracted by the stench that she didn’t notice the middle-aged couple approaching their trucks until they tapped at the window and Magneto rolled it down. The smell intensified. Moxie shut her eyes tight, trying to escape it. It made her want to vomit.
Gambit slipped an arm around her shoulders, and she opened her eyes, meaning to shove him away, her nausea growing. She’d given none of Magneto’s men permission to touch her. She could and would claw his face to the bone if he didn’t let up.
The woman at the window, who looked to be in her late fifties, heavily made up and wearing a tight silver pencil-skirt, flinched away from Moxie. Her hand flew to her mouth as she gazed into Moxie’s eyes; golden, her slit-pupils narrow. “Oh... Oh, Mr. Hartman, you didn’t tell me your daughter was a...”
“Does it matter?” Magneto asked, voice clipped.
Clearly, it mattered a lot to the people selling them this warehouse. The woman turned to a companion who looked like he might be her husband. They exchanged a meaningful Look, regarding Moxie like she was an animal in a zoo. Gambit, still in his sunglasses, stroked Moxie’s hair, tucking it behind her ear. Her very pointed ear. The lot-owners gawked, pale and disgusted. When Moxie shoved Gambit off of her, he stayed away, but he still grinned hugely, like he’d just told an excellent joke.
What the absolute fuck?! Moxie had half a mind to slap the stupid sunglasses off his face. Let the mutant-hating couple stare at him a little. This had to be breaking some unspoken rule of mutanthood;faced with bigoted humans, it was their obligation to stick together. Moxie sat as far from Gambit as she could get, pressing herself to the truck door and scowling.
Recovering from their unpleasant shock, the older couple chatted away with Magneto, confirming land and license and contract details they must’ve settled over the phone before he bought the place. They passed him a clipboard to sign, which he did, elegant with a fountain pen. If they only knew they were talking to the single most infamous mutant terrorist the world had ever known...
By the time the papers were signed and the couple said their goodbyes, Moxie was ready to bolt. She waited until the prissy couple got into their prissy little Cadillac and drove off before she opened the door, shifted forms, and made to jump.
Magneto stopped her with a psionic jerk to her collar, halting her in her tracks. “You did well,” he told her. “There’s a reward for you in that purse.”
Moxie, puzzled, too upset to stay still, grabbed the small purse in her jaws and ran, ran; she ran into the weeds and scrub at the very fringes of the property they now owned.
It was hours later, when the moon shone high in the sky, that Moxie felt recovered enough, curious enough, to see what Magneto considered a ‘reward’ for what he’d inadvertently (or was it intentionally?) put her through. She wrestled with the purse, gave up, transformed, and used useful hands with opposing thumbs to inspect every zippered pocket of the little black bag.
It was in the very smallest of these pockets that she found seven hundred US dollars, crisp green cash clasped neatly with a silver money clip.
She and Sabretooth gave each other space when they both ended up sleeping outside. What other choice was there? Even being this close to the warehouse had her head throbbing. Maybe it was the headache, the stressful day, that triggered her nightmares.
They started out as the typical jumble of nonsense that made up any dream; snippets of images and conversations that made little sense when stitched together. But as night wore on, they took a more sinister edge. When she looked up, she found herself not under the night sky, but underneath her father’s poker table. Moxie felt her guts turn to ice.
And it was his table, alright, with all the scars and dings and stains she remembered too vividly. Legs surrounded the table like bars of a cage. Four pairs, eight total, and she would’ve recognized her father’s scuffed old boots anywhere.
No, she told herself. He’s dead. I killed him. You can stop this now.
It didn’t stop. It never stopped. A part of her was always trapped in this stifling trailer, hidden beneath this table, surrounded by these men. She could run forever and still land right back here, in this slice of time.
She heard her father swear — he must’ve lost another round, gambling money he didn’t have to pay debts that grew more outrageous the drunker he became.
“Pay up,” the pair of legs to Moxie’s left demanded. “I mean it, Bob; I’m not letting you fuck me around anymore. You always weasel out of it.”
“Two out of three?” Moxie’s father tried, with his Southern-boy charm; all dimples and sparkle. He’d charmed his way into half the beds in Minnesota with his boyish good looks.
“You can’t afford it. You’re washed out. I’m fucking sick of this, Bob.”
“Then why do you keep coming here?! You show up and drink all my beer and have a good time, and then you always get nasty near the end...”
“You know what I want.”
Moxie put both hands over her ears, trying to block everything out, or to change the outcome in her mind. It could be different this time. Maybe her father would get a good hand; would win back the good cheer of the night. Above her head, cards shuffled, chips clicked. Someone cracked open a new beer bottle.
In reality, games went on forever and a day, but in dreams, the game was over in a blink. “Looks like you lost the bet, Bobby.”
“Where’s that little freak of yours? Frannie? Oh, Frannie?”
There was excited laughter. The hounds had smelled blood in the water. Chairs scooted back, and hands grabbed her; her hair, her shirt, her tail. Scrabble and bite as she might, they had her flat on the table, panties ripped, in record time. They’d learned from experience to move fast; if she transformed before someone stuffed a dick in her, there wasn’t much they could do but beat her and her father bloody... And Dad always took that out on her, later.
She screamed, high and animal, as the first cock of the night stabbed into her guts; as a heavy man smeared her back against the table, slobbering at her neck with his beard-scratchy face. Someone — her father, probably — pinned her hands so she couldn’t use her claws. Not yet, anyway. What was the saying about holding a tiger’s toe?
“I’ll fucking kill you!” Moxie spat, a demon in child’s skin. “I’ll stick knives up your dick and make you eat them! I’ll—“
Someone backhanded her across the face. Her lip split.
Stop it. Stop it!
Rage and terror, terror and rage. That had been Moxie’s life for fifteen years until she snapped and thrust an ice pick into her sleeping father’s eye socket.
“I killed you!” she told her father, trying to thrash still. Let them beat her bloody. Let them kill her. “I won! You aren’t shit, you fucking — get off of me; get off!”
The weight on her grew and grew. Surely her bones were seconds from cracking. Just when she thought she’d die under all the weight, her eyes snapped open, and she was alone outside again, the noxious fumes of the warehouse beating her skull with hammers from the inside out.
As though surfacing from deep water, Moxie wrenched herself awake. Then, also like drowning, she began to hack, to cough. Had she been holding her breath? She braced her paws on the mercifully solid ground, back arched, and coughed her throat raw, shaking her head until her ears flapped. Fuck. Fucking dreams. She felt filthy all over.
She rolled in the dirt, trying to scrub the mental slime from her fur. Her teeth bared, her muzzle wrinkled with a snarl, she hopped to her paws, eyes narrow. She wanted to hunt. She wanted to kill. She wanted to solidify herself in the waking world, to feel her power with a spine snapped in her jaws; with blood coating her tongue. There had to be something small and squeaky to destroy here.
Leaping from the shrubs, she bolted, a cinnamon arrow of dark, chilly ground. She felt strong like this, muscles bunching and contracting in the night world of hunter and hunted. She had to be careful — a fox was a predator, sure, but it was also prey. An owl could take her easily. A stray dog or cat could fuck her up in a fight.
Maybe she wanted a fight. Maybe she wanted to bleed.
She ran around the property, all three acres of land where delivery trucks had once trod deep grooves into the earth. Already the land was haling; weeds growing, taking back the land that humans had tried to hurt. Moxie spun and clacked her teeth, just glad that they were her teeth to clack.
She smelled the trucks they’d arrived in, and approached, but found it was only one truck now; a metal cube that Magneto had melted together to form a kind of portable shelter, the wheels lying uselessly to the side. The thought made her bark a laugh; even he couldn’t stand the perfumed smell within the warehouse.
She danced around the cube, surprised and pleased to find an open door, despite the lack of windows. Peeking inside, she saw Magneto, sat at a desk made from arranging a truck seat by the now-flat dashboard, where he’d set his computer up on. He worked tirelessly, eyes barely blinking, fingers flying over the keyboard.
Approaching, Moxie rested her paws in the doorway and gave a muffled little yap.
Magneto glanced her way, then back to his work.
Needing no other invitation, Moxie hopped inside the “trucks” and had a sniff around. Magneto had made a bed for himself on the backseat chairs, bending them backwards and dressing them with sheets and pillows. She wondered if he’d done this before; if he knew how to turn the trucks back into trucks when morning came. She batted at a seatbelt, enjoying the metallic shine.
There was a clothing hamper half-filled with Magneto’s clothes… Moxie knew she’d have to wash them soon; had been planning on doing so for days, actually, but the thought of entering his room, of going through his things, brought an anxiety she couldn’t articulate.
With trepidation, she crept forward, wondering how sensitive the mental link he had with her collar was. Could he feel her every movement as she drew closer?
He continued typing away, eyes only on his computer screen. When she adopted her human form, she felt the collar expand a fraction to accommodate her thicker neck. It hadn’t failed her yet. He could easily keep her trapped as a fox by keeping the collar tight and tiny, but he hadn’t.
Magneto loved mutants. That’s what everyone said. He would buy their freedom, even if it meant he had to pave their path in human blood. She’d grown up with him as the boogeyman on every televised news channel. It scared everyone senseless when the thing they hated most gave them reason to fear. Moxie? Moxie had been in love with him since before she could spell her name. Since before she even knew what love was.
Maybe she still didn’t know.
Reaching into his clothes hamper, she withdrew a cotton undershirt, worn between his bare skin and his armor. When she pulled it over her head, it covered her ass, and not much else. Being a tall girl had its drawbacks. Would it be weird to ‘borrow’ his boxers, too?
“Have you always been so quiet?” Magneto asked.
Moxie, surprised, gave that a thought. Around her parents, certainly. The less she did to draw their attention, their rage, the better. She’d learned early on that to survive was to hide; sometimes in plain sight. She nodded, realized he couldn’t see her, and spoke. “Yes.”
“Hmm.” Magneto kept his eyes on his work, highlighting something with his cursor, copying it into the desktop notepad. “I, too, am quiet.”
Since he’d told her to sit, Moxie did, climbing up onto his bed with her legs crossed, tucking a fold of the shirt against her crotch so that her boss… Owner…Whatever he was wouldn’t catch an eyeful. The bedsprings creaked lightly beneath her.
“I’ve found that the quietest people are often the angriest,” Magneto informed her, saving his files and locking his desktop. A watery screensaver made the monitor ripple. “Are you angry, Moxie?”
Right now? Not particularly. But she knew his meaning. Was he saying that he, too, felt that constant pressure, the tightness, the steam collecting under her skin, right at the marrow of her bones? The secret knot stretched taut as piano wire, threatening to snap and cut the first person who pushed her too far?
Was he telling her that he, too, had such wires inside himself?
He turned to look at her, and she was struck, as always, by his iceberg eyes, cold and distant. He was beautiful, which wasn’t unusual in itself. Many people were attractive.
It was his looks coupled with his power, his status, his aura of untouchability, that made him compelling. Everyone wanted royalty, even if they pretended to despise them.
Or maybe that was just Moxie.
Still, when he looked at her, she wanted to keep his attention; keep his approval. Keep that glow on her. It was an unusual feeling for someone who worked so hard to go unnoticed.
“Is Pietro okay?” she asked.
“Mm? Oh, yes. I’ve packed his wound, stitched him up, and sent him back into hiding. He heals from superficial wounds fairly quickly.”
“He’s... A speedster? Your son?” Moxie knew little about mutations. Neither of her parents were mutants, as far as she knew.
Magneto didn’t answer, aside from a raised eyebrow. Moxie shut her mouth, fearing he might think her too nosy.
“He’s arrogant enough to appreciate your attention, but it’s misplaced,” Magneto told her, something like amusement quirking his lips. “He’s solidly homosexual, I’m afraid.”
Moxie, thrown, blinked for several seconds too long before she understood. Magneto assumed she had a crush on his son. The thought sank into her heart like claws, squeezing, piercing.
“That’s not why I was asking,” she snapped, unexpectedly and unreasonably annoyed. Did he think because she was young, she was also shallow, useless? She’d never given two damns about airheaded pretty boys! “Never fucking mind.”
“Hm.” His monitor chimed. Magneto turned back to it, unlocked the screen, and resumed typing.
Her annoyance growing by the second, Moxie rolled onto her side, then made to stand; to leave. Only the thought of crawling back into her stuffy, nightmare-filled patch of shrubs stopped her. Where small spaces usually felt safe, tonight they just felt claustrophobic.
Slowly, expecting to be thrown out at any moment, she stretched out with her back to Magneto. She lay on her side, knees bent, tail dangling off the edge of the mattress. She didn’t sleep, exactly, but she allowed herself to rest, imagining a giant blackboard eraser gently scrubbing away all her thoughts. Slowly, her pulse calmed.
She felt as close to calm as she ever got. Somehow, the sounds of Magneto existing behind her was soothing. Like oxpeckers perched on rhinos, and Remora clinging to sharks, the safest place to hide was close to a dangerous animal.
She drifted for a time, possibly an hour, always distantly aware of the sounds behind her. At last, Magneto stood, stretched, and undressed. She felt his eyes skim over her and prepared to wake; to leave, but he never shooed her.
Instead, he switched the lights off and slipped into bed next to her, lying on his back. She felt his body heat through the thin cotton of his undershirt, just inches from her skin.
He breathed. She breathed. She wondered if he felt the pause, as though both were waiting for the other to speak.
He didn’t touch her. After a few long, overly tense moments, she dropped like a stone into the deepest sleep of her life.
Because Magneto’s ‘room’ had no windows, there was no sun to wake her; to help her gauge the time. When she woke, it was with the impression that she’d been unconscious for quite a long time. Her mouth felt fuzzy; cottony. There was a twang of dysphoria as she felt her bare legs brush against soft sheets. Where was her fur? She never slept in this body; it wasn’t safe...
She wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or bothered that Magneto was still in bed beside her. They’d drifted in the night; she felt the slow rise and fall of his chest against her, as she’d somehow wedged up under his arm. He must’ve gotten cold; must’ve thrown a blanket over them during the night.
Slowly, she moved her face out of his armpit, bracing her chin on his arm to study him. He was still asleep, or pretending to be. One limb at a time, Moxie crawled backwards out of the bed, feeling some kind of way about his scent clinging to her.
Magneto turned his face on the pillow, opening his eyes. First thing in the morning, his eyes weren’t icebergs at, but the very sea reflecting the sky. Moxie went still, trapped in the tide.
“You’re not like my father at all,” Moxie said unthinkingly. She reddened at Magneto’s politely bemused expression.
“I should hope not,” he agreed. And, “For what it’s worth, you’re nothing like my daughter, either.”
He had a daughter, too? Why did that information make something clench unpleasantly in Moxie’s gut? A mix of despair and jealousy and curiosity and other emotions she had no name for.
“Lucky her,” Moxie said, sharper than intended. She turned on her heel and quickly left for the outside world.