Info: for midnight_united
Summary: Repo! Mag/Marni, AU.
This time Marni doesn’t die. This time a lot of things are different, but the most important thing, Mag thinks, is that Marni doesn’t die. She’ll die some day, probably (well, who’s to know, really), because that’s what people do. But she hasn’t died yet, and she didn’t die the way she did before. That’s what matters.
Mag is the only one who remembers before (the only one she knows of, at least, though the promise that someone else does is a comfort. It helps her believe this isn’t all just a dream). She recognized herself in stages, like awaking slowly from a clinging dream. Until she saw herself in a mirror one day, and knew: that child, batting against the surface, blue-eyed, this is you. A dream might better explain this place, with no hint of organ failure or GeneCo. The buildings lie close to the ground and dreams are the only thing that broadcast constantly in the streets. As a baby, Mag doesn’t believe that everything is truly changed, but she comes to know it, in her bones and blood, dream or not.
She meets Rotti, by chance, on a street corner, an old man, hunched, begging for change. She pulled her skirts free of him, told by a clear motherly voice to stay clear of strangers and realized with a start that his eyes were murky and unseeing.
It is five years until the next. And Shilo comes as a surprise: for some reason, Mag expected all that to happen again (Nathan, Marni, the baby). Her mother introduces her to a voice coach, (not as Magdelene DeFoe this time, though Mag thinks her voice is one thing that hasn’t changed) and the resemblance is so striking that Mag stumbles on the new name, and has to stare at her feet for minutes at a time to swallow the lump in her throat. For the first few lessons, they work in Italian, and Mag feigns difficulty, though the song and the notes begin to come back to her like the first time she tasted ice cream again, or re-learning to tie her shoes.
She’s touring Europe when she encounters the Largo siblings, as they were. After her third Paris show, she’s stopped outside by an au pair and a little girl. The child (Pavi, of course, she’d know him even in frills—especially in frills) holds out a school notebook and says “Vous nom, sil vous plait?” She has to bite her lip to sign the right name. Then back to the hotel: a nod to the doorman—Luigi?—and up to her room on the nineteenth floor. Mag orders a bottle of wine to sooth her nerves and the girl who rings the bell curtsies a little too deeply, holding her hand out for a tip.
Instantly, Mag knows. “Marni,” she whispers under her breath, as if the eyes of the entire room aren’t on her, aren’t watching her every move. The mayor of her small town hosting a ball in honor of her return: a far cry from a Genetic Opera held against her will over a name signed in blood. None of it matters. She’s just been waiting for this moment, wondering when it would come. Wondering who would come.
Marni lights up, a visible shiver passing across her bare shoulders and down her spine. “I’m so pleased you could make it. I must admit, I’ve been following your career for years, ever since I could purchase my own albums.” Her hands; Mag remembers her hands.
“It’s my pleasure, truly.” Mag’s heart constricts. For a moment, she wishes she were blind. She didn’t know that she would behold this beauty ever again, and for a moment, for more than that, it’s too much.
“Have you met my brother?” Marni gestures. Nathan. “Oh, but you don’t want to be bothered with silly things like that.” She makes a face at the boy, grinning. “Do let me steal you away from the party for a moment, and we can talk of the opera?”
“We can speak of whatever you wish,” Mag can help but say. She tries not to hear the echoes.
And so they learn each other’s names and forms and voices. Mag pushes the frozen picture of Marni up against this Marni, the one who will never die, and the picture changes, makes room for more.
Mag whispers words of all the operas she sang, all the prayers she cried that the first Marni never heard, against Marni’s bare skin. Though Mag never tells Marni what happened, the story of her before, sometimes Marni cries when she comes. And once (though it could have been a gasp or breath) Mag hears her say “I remember.”