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A sense of worth

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Charles looked through the one way mirrored wall.

The room was windowless, the AC was filtered so he had no reason to be reacting the way he did. A gut feeling. He couldn't scent the person inside.

Raven was so going to kill him. Or kill herself laughing. Charles wasn't entirely sure. His adopted sister could go in either direction. Or both - one after the other.

"Mr. Xavier," the guard said, standing by the door that would allow Charles to step inside.

"Yes," Charles said, steeling himself. He wasn't there because he was looking for a guide that could match him, he didn't need one. It didn't mean he didn't want one. He was a sentinel, and it was in his genetic makeup to want one. The only reason he hadn't needed one yet was a deep understanding of his own psyche and physical body and the fact that he'd studied what he might need to know in order to survive without one.

He might be officially listed as an empath, but he was not going to give the government an excuse to control him just because he happened to be a fully functioning sentinel as well as a full fledged telepath.

And Raven. Raven was capable of grounding him when needed.

The reason why Charles was at this facility, was because Raven had caught wind of Erik Lehnsherr's imprisonment, that he was a mutant.

She'd accuse Charles of having a bleeding heart when it came to these cases, yet she would always pass them on to him to deal with, knowing they had to. Especially seeing as no one else would.

"Mr. Xavier," the guard repeated, hand on the door handle. "Please keep in mind that Mr. Lehnsherr is a damaged guide - he killed his own sentinel."

Charles frowned. He wasn't going to get into a debate with this man, but he was pretty sure that the sentinel that had lost his life had been more defective than any guide. Sebastian Shaw had been an abomination as a sentinel and even more so as a mutant supremacist. Also, Charles was mainly there because the prisoner was a mutant. That he was a guide and that they could always use the grounding presence of those at the institute… well, that was just an added bonus.

Not that he was going to let anyone in this place know. To them Erik Lehnsherr would be a charity case to Charles Francis Xavier.

If they had known Charles was a sentinel, let alone unbonded, he wouldn't have been let within a mile of this man. Fact was, the general agreement was that sentinels had no self control. Seriously? Charles had met many cases where the sentinel had been in perfect control of themselves. As a scientist, Charles wasn't particularly impressed with the 'science' the government used to keep guides, sentinels and mutants for that matter, under control.

Having read Lehnsherr's file, Charles was fairly sure that even if he wouldn't trust Charles or Charles's cause, he would at least agree to listen to Charles if Charles could offer him a possible way out.

Charles slipped into the room, catching the eyes of the tall man sitting at the table. He knew he had to stop Lehnsherr from speaking, because just as Charles could tell he was a guide, he knew that Lehnsherr could tell he was a sentinel. And if he blurted it out-

What a stupid time to find your guide, Charles, he told himself as he nodded to Lehnsherr and stopped on the opposite side of the table. Plastic, he noticed. Like the chairs.

'Please don't say anything of what I can guess you're currently thinking,' Charles pushed at Lehnsherr.

Lehnsherr shot him an alarmed look, but didn't say anything. He did, however, to Charles' surprise project: 'Stay out of my head!'.

"Mr. Lehnsherr, I don't know if the facility has told you about why I am here." Charles threw himself into the rehearsed speech. It was, after all, only there for the cameras. He tried hard not to breathe too deeply. Lehnsherr's scent was enticing and he could very well zone on it if he wasn't careful.

"Nothing," Lehnsherr said, instinctively drawing back a little.

So while Charles spun his tale about a sanctuary for mutants, he kept up a much more important conversation away from microphones and video cameras.

'I am not here because I need a guide, I don't,' Charles insisted. He wasn't really lying, he was here for the mutant, not the guide.

The raised eyebrow told him he wasn't being believed.

'I admit that a school, especially one with children, can always benefit from a guide's skill and intuition,' Charles admitted.

'They tell you I was broken?' Lehnsherr replied, a shuttered look.

'Yes, but considering what wasn't in your file but could easily be read between the lines, not to mention what I know of Shaw, I find that hard to believe,' Charles replied stubbornly.

Lehnsherr made a noise at the mention of Shaw's name. He silently let Charles explain about the school while he watched his every move.

'I refuse to believe that you would throw away the opportunity to get out of here,' Charles offered. God, it was getting hard to keep his usual focus with the way he could see every detail in Lehnsherr's eyes, would catch his scent, barely concealed by generic facility soap.

'I may have considered going with you, but you're more or less imprinting on me from the other side of the table, whether I want to or not,' Lehnsherr all but growled. 'I hate this fucking biological imperative shit.'

'I can promise you, that you can give me the slip when you are back on your feet. I will even make sure that you don't have to deal with me at the school.' It hurt more to promise than Charles had expected.

'They- the government, the facility, can't be alright with this,' Lehnsherr replied with disbelief.

'Money and arguing until they grow tired of me.' Charles hesitated. He didn't want to give too much away, but if it would help Lehnsherr trust him a little… 'I have a shapeshifter who occasionally bends ethics in order to help people.'

Lehnsherr stared at him. Charles thought, maybe for a moment, there was a glimmer of hope.

'We're used to sentinels and guides as well,' Charles explained. 'But much like I do not condone the public and political lording over mutants, nor do I find sentinels OR guides less worthy of citizenships and rights. It's some of the things that we try to fight.'

'With pretty words,' Lehnsherr sneered.

'With more than that, but you must accept that I can not share that information with you in the middle of a government run facility. Just trust me when I tell you that we do more than that.' Oh, how Charles wanted to tell him about the X-men. Lehnsherr was bound to know about the group, but Charles couldn't afford to affiliate himself OR the school with a bunch of vigilantes. As much as he felt that it would tip Lehnsherr in favour of leaving with him.

Not for the first time Charles cursed the fact that he was a sentinel. He could tell how fast Lehnsherr's heart raced, he could tell how the anxiety and anger bubbled just under the surface. He also knew that the reason Lehnsherr wasn't jumping at the opportunity was because of Charles being a sentinel and himself being a guide.

And they just had to be fucking compatible, didn't they? More than compatible. Charles had been close to guides many times before. Unbonded guides as well, but he'd been able to tell from outside the room that Lehnsherr was more than that. He couldn't help but wonder what Lehnsherr must have been like, before, untouched by Shaw's abuse.

Not broken, never broken. Anyone who took a moment to look into Lehnsherr's eyes - even someone not a telepath, could tell that the man had, very fitting to his gift, a core of steel. Stubborn as hell and not beyond help. He just needed a break. He just needed to get the government off his back.

Which was exactly what Charles was offering.

"What would I be doing at this… sanctuary?" Lehnsherr asked, voice rusty from misuse.

Charles took a deep breath. Back to speaking and definitely being careful what he shared that could be overheard. But his telepathy seemed to make Lehnsherr uneasy and it meant he was finally pushing Charles out of his head.

"We always need level headed people to work with the mutants that come in - they are not always in a good place," Charles admitted. "Apart from that, you'll have options if there's something you'd like to study, courses you'd like to take. We offer quite a few and we have a working relationship with several universities around the world when it comes to online courses."

'I'm a broken guide,' Lehnsherr's sour words were pressed forward. Apparently he wasn't completely opposed to speaking this way after all.

'Injured, maybe,' Charles replied archly. 'I don't buy into their claims and I think, neither do you, you're too bloody stubborn to do so.'

There was a quick flash of a grin on Lehnsherr's lips, then he was back to the stone faced non-emotional state. 'I won't submit to you.'

For a moment, Charles wondered what he was on about, then realized. The gut wrenching feeling of what had been done to this man - if Charles had only found him before Shaw… Charles pushed the protectiveness and possessiveness down into a dark corner of his mind. He couldn't afford to let it back out.

'I wouldn't ever expect submission from a guide, from anyone,' Charles replied, more in control than he really felt. 'I don't care what Shaw told you, as a sentinel I would never expect you to submit to me.' At that moment, Charles wanted nothing more than to kneel at Lehnsherr's feet and bare his neck, anything to make the man believe him. Anything to show him… but doing so he would out himself as a sentinel-

Some of it must have made it across their connection, because Lehnsherr's eyes widened.

"I… if you can do this, if you can get me out of here, and I'm saying IF, because we both know I killed a sentinel and they are not going to let that go," Lehnsherr said quietly. "But if you can, I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt." He licked his lips, a move that could have been because he was nervous, but in reality, his eyes were sharp and bearing into Charles'. So, a deliberate move, then.

Yes, Raven was either going to kill him or laugh herself sick, but Charles finally relaxed. This he could do, this he knew. One way or another, Erik Lehnsherr was going to get out of the facility and into a home that would be much more fitting for a man of his skills. The kind of home he deserved and that Shaw had denied him.