rating: if you can watch BtVS or the X-Men movie, you can handle this.
main characters: Marcie, Vic
disclaimer: If you recognize them, they are not mine. Anyone from BtVS or A:tS is the creation of Joss Whedon. Anyone you recognize from X-Men belongs to marvel Entertainment and Stan Lee.
distribution: notes response to Jinni's Poetry Quote challenge, week #12. Roughly equivalent to season 6 BtVS time frame, post X-Men 1. Marcie was the invisible girl in season 1 BtVS.
I want to go with the one I love.
I do not want to calculate the cost.
I do not want to think about whether it's good.
I do not want to know whether he loves me.
I want to go with whom I love.
- Bertolt Brecht (I Want to Go With Whom I Love)
* * * *
Working for the government as an untraceable, undetectable spy and assassin had been an absolute blast – for about a month. Just long enough that not only had she gotten too deep to change her mind and walk away, not that they would have let her, but long enough that she’d started to crave the freedom to act without repercussions.
There were always repercussions. And they’d found ways to give them to her. Side effect of being invisible – nobody would ever know if you had bruises. If she did something wrong, or the guy ‘teaching’ her was having a miserable day, he’d hit her, or where he thought that she was. Call her all sorts of names, going on about how she was so worthless to everyone ‘back home’ that nobody had ever bothered to look for her, nobody had cared that she’d vanished.
Her elation had gradually changed to a resentful pride in her work, and then that too had changed, becoming a grudging obedience, mainly because the penalty was worse than putting up with their crap. Marcie Ross had realized just how carefully the trap around her had been woven, how skillfully they’d removed her every chance of escape. She’d had no friends, her family hadn’t cared. Once they’d brought her in on those assault charges as a result of Sunnydale… they’d had her.
The fact that her escape from their clutches was the result of her last mission was delightfully ironic. They’d decided that since prison had failed to keep Magneto contained, what was needed was a simple, silent assassination. She’d been summoned, and after a few awkward moments while the director tried to figure out if she was actually in the room or not, she’d been given her orders – go kill Magneto.
She’d said that she could handle it, blustered a bit about an old man being well within her abilities. She could still hear her arrogant words, spoken in an effort to try to hide the fact that he scared the stuffing out of her. “I can handle anything that some dried up old man can dish out. He won’t even know I’m there.”
Stupid bravado. Stupid nerves demanding that she do something to keep her ‘handler’ from knowing how nervous Magneto made her. Magneto was just an old man, even if he was an old man that could do just about anything he wanted with anything metal. He probably never would have known that she was there. She may have hated the government, but she was good at her job.
But Magneto wasn’t stupid. He knew that hew as just an old man, when it came down to it. Not very strong, and he’d get short of breath easily enough. He was old, and his body was getting weak. That was why he had a bodyguard, in case someone tried to kill him. A big, hulking, feral mutant with enhanced senses.
Sabertooth may not have been able to see her, but he could smell her, hear her soft footsteps, maybe even her breathing and heartbeat. He’d known that she was there and caught her before she’d even got into the same room. Opening the door with one hand gripping the back of her neck, Sabertooth had dragged her towards Magneto, and rumbled a simple word, “Intruder.”
It was hard not to laugh at the baffled expression on his face, in the first few moments. Before he’d realized that she was invisible. But somehow, with the claw tips of his bodyguard touching her skin, leaving little spots of almost painful pressure on her neck, Marcie didn’t think laughing would be a good idea.
“An invisible spy? Did Charles send you?” He’d gone from baffled to amused and curious.
“Who? The director is Russell, Russell Caldwell. Who’s this Charles person?” Marcie had been entirely confused by his question. Part of her warned against giving the slightest bit of information away, but… She hated her keepers, and really didn’t care if he did something horrible to them as a consequence.
“Russell Caldwell?” For a moment, Magneto had looked surprised all over again, and then his expression had faded into something part way between resignation and anger. “So, the government isn’t above attempting to use mutants for their own ends. Ends that include assassination. How… sadly predictable.”
“Yeah, well…” Marcie tried to shrug, not quite able to because of the large hand holding her. He wasn’t quite hurting her, but the message that he could was clear. “I never really expected them to be nice people.”
He’d given her such an odd look when she’d said that, as if he’d not expected that sort of response. “Did you get that cynical before or after you joined their employ?”
“You make it sound like I had an option. I didn’t, not until I’d already concluded that I liked being alive, and was more afraid of what they’d do when I didn’t cooperate. That’s not really a choice.” She stood there, not trying to get away. Struggling would probably just get her hurt anyhow, if not killed.
“So, why are you still standing there, invisible? You can’t possibly think that it affords you any substantial protection?” He sounded detached, almost as if it was a minor intellectual curiosity.
Marcie was pretty sure that she was blushing as she mumbled her response. “I… can’t turn visible again. I don’t know how, or even if it’s possible.”
“What?” He looked as if he wasn’t quite certain what she’d said, or maybe he was having difficulty believing her.
“She said she can’t,” The deep rumbling voice seemed somehow perfect for the bodyguard.
“Why not?” He had a small frown, the sort of thoughtful look that reminded her of the smart kids at school or the technical people in the labs for the government when they got a hold of an interesting puzzle. “If your mutation turned you invisible, surely with a little practice you should be able to gain a measure of control over it.”
“Didn’t come up. I don’t think they wanted us to learn how to be visible again. They didn’t want us to have faces, outside lives, we were just… invisible, undetectable – well, almost – and we didn’t have any outside ties. Perfect tools.” She knew that her voice was bitter.
His expression had shifted to calculation, a very familiar expression to Marcie. “So, considering that they can’t look for you with any sort of visual photography beyond maybe infrared, would you consider leaving the government’s employ, miss…?”
“Marcie Ross.” She started to smile, glancing around. The shining metal balls that just clicked back and forth like one of those perpetual motion thingies – only without the framework and supporting threads – was cool looking. He had a pretty interesting reputation, not only for being unconventional, but for what he tried to do. “Are you making me an offer?”
“Yes. I can’t offer particularly spectacular benefits, but you will be free to make any effort you desire at controlling your power. You won’t have the same governmental supervision… Quite a dreadful amount of scrutiny that they leave.” He had this small smile as he folded his hands in front of him. “But the only person issuing orders would be… me.”
She smiled, even though they wouldn’t be able to see it. “Sounds good to me. Count me in.”
It was not quite a month later that Marcie and Vic were sent to evaluate a possible threat, a place that might have been performing research on mutants. She’d been a bit uncertain how well it would work, considering that while she was a fully trained operative, her equipment was sparse, and she didn’t have the thorough briefing. Their entry hinged on her being able to stay visible long enough to get inside, and to look convincingly like a lab assistant long enough to get by the guards.
But Vic turned out to be the best backup that she’d ever had, and not only did they learn that while there was research being done, they were using tissue samples instead of the actual mutants. They’d made copies of the records to take back, in case they made sense to Magneto. Life was looking up, and she had that giddy rush of a job completed.
Laughing, she hugged Vic. “We did it!”
His arms felt good as they wrapped around her. “Yeah, we did.”
Something about his voice had been different, almost softer. More like a purr than a growl. Looking up at his dark eyes, Marcie whispered “Vic?”
He leaned down, kissing her with an intensity that left her absolutely breathless in a wonderful way. She began kissing back, her hands running over his body as clothing fell aside.
Oh yeah, this was much better than working for the government.
End A Better Offer.