"I know you've thought of it," he says, and Charles tries to breathe, tries to not let the hitch in his voice be heard through the phone line. "Everyone has thought of it, Charles. You've wanted to kill someone. You have killed people, you know how to do it, and you know some people deserve to die."
Charles swallows, and leans far enough forward that his forehead is nearly touching the desk, praying the others don't notice his conversation. "I believe in justice more."
"Killing is justice," the man - the serial killer, the man he's been hunting for months now, the man who has caused every gruesome crime scene that Charles has had to pick over again and again and again - says. "You're not nearly as naive as you pretend to be, Charles. Admit it, some people should never have been born."
Charles wants to say no, but he can't. He knows the voice will know it to be a lie. "Every evil teaches us a lesson, teaches us how to be better," he says instead, and breathes more. In, out. In, out. He tries to ignore the fact the voice sounds exactly like he's fantasized in every horribly enticing dream. "I know you think you're doing good, but is it really worth dragging yourself down to their level?"
"Someone has to do it," the man says, a dry sense of humor leaking through the speaker. "I think I'm as good as anyone, and the people I kill are worth the effort. What kept you from killing that person you were so tempted to rid the world of?"
Charles clears his throat. "This isn't about me."
"Then who is it about? You don't think this conversation is about me, do you?" The voice chuckles, dark and low. "Oh, Charles, rest assured I sleep very well at night, and I'm just as certain that you don't."
He shakes his head, even if the other man can't see it. Or, for all Charles knows, he can. "You're what keeps me awake at night," he says.
"Not from fear, though," the man says, absolute conviction in every word. "You know I'd never hurt you, don't you."
Charles sighs. "I do." He doesn't fit the profile, aside from being a white male, and they all know that isn't the criteria the killer looks for. He has a deeper purpose to his methods.
"Then I can't help but wonder what it is about me that keeps you awake," the man says, and that's the moment Charles realizes he's flirting. And that Charles is barely avoiding flirting back.
"I can't have this conversation," he says, and tries to not sound as trapped as he feels. They'll take him off the case, they'll take him off the force, they'll put him in some sort of witness protection program and he'll be condemned for the rest of his life for being attached-
"If that's what you want," the voice says. "But I do want to know what kept you from killing that person who deserved it so much."
Charles doesn't know what makes him say it. Maybe it's a feeling of gratitude that the man's willing to avoid the...situation he's found himself in. Maybe it's the fact that deep down, he's always wanted to tell someone. Maybe it's just the way he thinks that only a serial killer would understand. No matter the reason, he says, "Because it would have broken what was left of my mother's heart."
The line is quiet for long enough that Charles wonders if the man has left the phone off the hook and just walked away. "And if he'd killed your mother?"
"He nearly did," Charles says, and barely keeps from letting out a hysterical laugh. "But she forgave him, every time, even when it was me, and she didn't even notice-"
"Charles," the voice says, sharp and concerned, and god, it's actually comforting. "Charles, it's fine, I swear, it'll be fine-"
A hand lands on his shoulder, and Charles nearly jumps out of his chair as Emma Frost moves back and says, "God, Xavier, what's wrong with you?"
"I'll see you later," Charles blurts into the phone.
"I look forward to it," the voice says, and Charles reminds himself to breathe, breathe, and hangs up. He looks up at his partner and hopes he's not looking as queasy and unsettled as he feels.
Emma frowns. "What happened?"
"A rather emotional call from Raven, is all," Charles says, and Emma nods. She's not one to pry - rarely one to even give a shit if it doesn't involve an interesting crime, to be honest - and Charles is endlessly grateful for all her social failings in that moment. "Is there something I need to know?"
"Not really," Emma says mildly, and pauses right before closing his office door behind her to smirk and say, "Just that Raven is waiting for you in the lobby."
The door clicks shut, and Charles sets his head down on the desk, wondering what ever happened to calm, friendly, noble Charles Xavier. More than that, he wonders what he's becoming.