"Oh, Charles," Mystique whispered, like she was a mother shaming a wayward son. She shook her head back and forth as she read the Times article.
"Professor X," Magneto corrected automatically. "He may not embrace it, but it is his mutant name." Still, he arched his eyebrows curiously underneath his helmet. "What has your brother done this time?" He set down his spoon in his bowl of cold porridge. They were sitting in the lunch room of an abandoned coal plant in southeastern Pennsylvania, a plant that had been a secure if not always comfortable base of operations for the past year and a half.
"He's giving a lecture on coexistence at the B'nai Brith of Manhattan. Next Wednesday at seven pm. The title of the lecture is "Why Non-Violent Protest Is More Evolved."
"He thinks he's baiting me, the fool."
Mystique nodded. "Probably. That does sound like him."
"He's baiting Kahane."
"I assume he's aware of that as well."
"You were always more charitable to him than I was." He paused to consider his options. "We can't stay away if Kahane and his goons show up to attack a mutant. Even a mutant like Charles."
"Professor X," Mystique corrected. Magneto glared at her. "Anyway, he has his own muscle. Hank and the two Summers kids. And no, I will not call poor Hank the Beast. That is a slur, not a mutant name. Hank and Havok can handle anything Kahane can throw at them. I know you miss Charles, but he can take care of himself. Especially if the only threat is a handful of yids with pipe wrenches and homemade bombs."
"I was once just a yid with a pipe wrench, Mystique."
"Is that what this is about, Erik Lehnsherr? You don't want to protect the Professor, you want to protect the JDL? Your own kind?"
A ball bearing flew past her head at a speed slightly under the sound barrier. It slammed into the wall behind her and lodged into a self-created hole Mystique blinked once, then stared at Magneto. For an instant, she turned into John Wayne, unfazed by anything, then she flashed back into her comfortable blue skin. Magneto didn't usually understand her pop culture jokes, which was really why she made them. For all their loose talk about creating a new mutant culture, there was still a part of her that was American, and she didn't want Erik Lehnsherr, jude, to forget that.
"I was once just a yid with a pipe wrench," he repeated. "Now we are magnificent, the first of a new race ready to inherit the Earth. Which do you believe is more important to me?" He let her ponder his rhetorical question in silence. The awkward silence left her feeling unsettled. "We can't let the X-Men protect the Professor. They'll do anything to keep the fight out of the newspapers. No, the defense has to come from the Brotherhood of Mutants. The world has to know that we look after our own. Mutants have to see that there are no allies in our struggle except other mutants. We are the only ones who can protect ourselves."
Mystique and Angel were still trying to add Sisterhood to the name of their group, but Mystique knew now wasn't the time for that argument. She started taking notes on top of an advertisement for women's shoes. "You, me, Azazel. That should be enough firepower."
"You still don't trust Ms. Frost?" He was testing her. After seven years together, he was still testing her all the time.
"Her own shadow doesn't trust Ms. Frost."
He smiled, a dark internal smile that as far as Mystique could tell he never displayed unless the two of them were alone. "No, that's true. She serves nobody's interests but her own. Still, she has her uses."
"So make use of them. While we're nursemaiding my brother, send her with Angel and Riptide to talk to Creed. We haven't shaken that tree in a couple of years. Maybe she'll be able to do what you couldn't."
"You have a devious mind. Very well, we'll do it your way. But please, call him Sabretooth. Even monsters deserve to be called by their true names."