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[personal profile] a_q posting in [community profile] unconventionalcourtship
Title: Blackmailed Into Marrying
Author: [archiveofourown.org profile] a_q
Fandom: X-Men: First Class / Days Of Future Past
Pairing/Characters: Raven, Alex Summers
Rating: pg
Length: 1500

Gentleman Beneath The Veil

When Dr. Henry McCoy lifts his new bride's veil he can't believe his eyes—this dark-haired dab of a boy isn't the blonde beauty he's been courting! Stunned, McCoy resolves to seek an annulment at the earliest opportunity, but to do so he must first make sure Alex Summers' virtue stays intact….

Blackmailed into marrying Dr. McCoy by his scheming friend, Alex is just as keen to keep his distance from his unsettling husband. But despite their good intentions the marital bed beckons — and a stolen kiss could prove to be their undoing!

Original: Lady Beneath The Veil by Sarah Mallory (Harlequin)

Notes: This is the blackmailing part of the story, though it turned out more like a few threats and an odd argument than true blackmail. Completely (pseudo-historical) AU, based on idea that Raven could've form her own team to help mutants.

Alex came to when someone nudged his shoulder, the motion sending a flare of pain up his chest.

”Stop,” he muttered.

”Here, drink up.”

Alex opened his eyes to find Raven there, holding a glass out to him.

”What is it?”

”Something for the pain. It will help to take the edge off,” she said, and when Alex took the glass, she turned to go back to the rickety desk where she had spread her papers. ”I'm sorry about the doctor, the old hack was the only one I could find on such short notice. Don't worry, he still remembers how to do a neat row of stitches. You'll be fine.”

Alex didn't know if she said that to make him feel better, or convince herself. He gulped the glass empty, grimacing at the bitter taste. He leaned back against the pillow, trying to make a sense of the room. ”Where are we?”

”This is one of my safe houses. It's not much, but it will do for the night. I got you a train ticket for tomorrow morning. It will be an uncomfortable trip, I'm afraid, but I'll get you some morphine to last you the day.”

”Ticket to where? Why do you want me to leave?” Alex looked around, but the only light was an old oil lamp on the table by Raven's elbow, the thick curtains blocking all the windows. The furniture was covered under dustsheets, crouching in the corners like quiet specters.

“Why? You have a broken arm, several cracked ribs, a concussion and numerous cuts that needed stitching,” Raven said without turning. “You need a safe place to recuperate.”

Her attention was on the papers, on the next job. Raven didn't believe in down time, and she didn't have the patience for injuries. Alex swallowed, his mouth dry. Train ticket, injuries, it had to mean that Raven tried to push him out.

“Tell me if I'm done for,” Alex said quietly, noticing her tense posture. “Don't just ship me off to somewhere and leave me there to rot.”

Raven glanced at him. “What? No, it's nothing like that. I need you on a job.”

“You said I have broken bones,“ Alex said. “I don't know if I can handle another job like this.”

“It's not that sort of job.” She took took a map from the table and came over, holding it so that he could see it with his better eye. The other was starting to swell shut, but Alex was sure that this place didn't have a functioning ice box.

“See this little town near the coast?”

Alex nodded.

“A friend lives there. Dr. Henry McCoy. He send me a letter, asking for my help.”

“Help with what?”

“He asked me to marry him,” Raven said.

Alex blinked. “What?”

Raven turned to drag a chair next to the bed. She sat down, crossing her legs like a young gentleman in a club. She was wearing her blonde female look, but she also wore the military uniform. It was a strange combination. Alex could tell she was angry and tired, ready to snap. It was no wonder, their last job had gone wrong in odd sort of way, which was evident with Alex's injuries. None of that shouldn't have happened, and it must have bothered Raven. She wanted to be in control.

“Henry needs a spouse, urgently. It's for some legal issue, he didn't explain the nature of the problem in the letter.” Raven turned the map in her hands. “The point is, I owe him a favor. And you need a safe place to recuperate, so it's a perfect match.”

“I don't understand. What does your marriage has to do with me?” Alex tried to focus back to the moment. It was hard to breath from the pain in his chest, and he felt lightheaded. Maybe the good old doctor had sold Raven colored water instead morphine, for Alex didn't feel any better.

“What's there to understand? You know that I don't have the time to get married and pretend being his wife for months on end. But this situation will suit you. New name, new identity, safe location, and your own doctor to look after your health. What else could you ask for?”

“You want me to marry someone for a few months worth of cover? That's a cruel move, Raven. What will happen to this McCoy when his husband just vanishes?”

“Henry has means to get an annulment if he wants to, and you two have time to plan something that suits you both,” Raven said calmly, like this was no problem at all.

Alex frowned. He was tired, and it was hard to think objections to Raven's plan. It was still a mad scheme.

Raven leaned back, the chair creaking. “If it's the carnal side of marriage you are worried about, then don't. Henry is a perfect gentleman, he won't cross any lines of propriety. Unless you want him to, of course. In that case, speak plainly. He will like that.”

Alex laughed at that, the joke worth the flaring pain around his chest. “Really? I think you have forgotten one important thing on your plan.”

“What's that?”

“I'm obviously not a woman. I suspect that a doctor might notice that little detail.”

Raven shrugged. “In the letter he said he needs a spouse, and the marriage would be in name only. I don't see why he would have any objections.”

“He doesn't know me, and I don't know him. I show up to the ceremony, and he tells me to get lost. What then?”

“Then you better change his mind,” Raven said, the sudden threat slipping in her tone. Alex had heard that before, usually followed by someone getting shafted in the ribs. It was alarming, and Alex fought against the numbness, trying to stay alert.

“What do you mean?”

“He needs help, and you will help him,” Raven said. “Convince him this is the best solution, and stay with him until I come and collect you. I don't care how you spend your time, but you will do all you can to help Henry, in whatever way he needs it. That's your assignment, and I expect you to carry it out perfectly.”

“And if I don't?”

“Then you are no use to me,” Raven said, getting up and pacing to the table and then back again, like an angry cat. “Why should I waste my time with you?”

“You don't mean that. We are a good team! You would break this up because some favor you own?” Alex could believe she was serious. They had worked together for a year, helping mutants when there was no one else to protect them. There had been simple cases, complicated cases, and everything between. “What about Stryker? Look what he did to me, do you seriously think you can take him down on your own?”

“Stryker is a crafty bastard, and he will find out who you are, sooner or later. That makes you a risk, Alex. If Styker gets to you, he can get to me,” Raven said, sitting back down.

Alex was glad, for her pacing was making him dizzy. Or maybe it was whatever had been in that glass. The pain was distant now, which was pleasant. He was getting sleepy.

“No one can get to you,” Alex muttered.

“And I want to keep it that way. Which is why I want you to do this.” She leaned to spread the blanket over his chest. It smelled musty, like everything in this room. “You are not invisible, your name can be found if one digs deep enough in the right place. If you get married, it will muddy the waters. Mr. Alexander McCoy sounds good, doesn't it? Respectable.”

Alex doubted that, but he was too tired to fight about this. If Raven wanted this done, she would get her way eventually, and it was better to save his strength.

“Do you love him?”

The question seemed to startle Raven. “Who, Henry? Why do you say that?”

Alex stared at her. “If you want to marry him, then marry him. Damn with anything else.”

Raven was quiet for a long time, almost long enough to Alex to doze off. He forced himself awake again when Raven moved. He turned to look at her. “Well?”

“He loves me, I know that. And I love him, but not the way he deserves to be loved,” she said quietly. “I'm afraid I would hurt him deeply if I married him, do you understand? We could never be friends again, and I couldn't stand that.”

Alex nodded.

“It will be neater this way. You can help him, because there's no emotions mixed up with it.” Raven straightened up, looking calm. “Try to get some sleep. It's going to be a long day tomorrow.”

Alex was asleep before Raven had returned to her desk.


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Unconventional Courtship

September 2017

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