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Tessellation

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Tessellation: a continuous, repeated pattern made up the same shapes that must fit together exactly, with no spaces or overlap.

 

Shortly after his mother's death, Erik made a list. A list of the people he would someday kill. For many years it held a single name: Klaus Schmidt. By the time he left Schmidt's care, Schmidt's Nazi employers scattered and broken, Erik's list had grown. In the years that followed his list dwindled, bloated corpses left in his wake, until once again the list held a single name: Klaus Schmidt. And then Schmidt was dead, Nazi relic through his skull, and Erik's list was exhausted. Magneto was born.

Magneto kept a list. A list of those he would like to kill, but never would, because some bonds--like the bonds of brotherhood--were stronger than any desire for revenge. At present, two names occupied that list.

The first was Emma Frost, for first suggesting the Brotherhood incorporate, an act that, five years later, still caused Magneto no end of grief.

The second was his personal assistant, Anna Marie, who, in an entirely selfish act as far as Magneto was concerned, had scheduled her honeymoon the same week as the Brotherhood's fiscal year end.

He felt a headache coming on. It trickled through the back of his skull, made worse by the weight of his helmet. Had he been alone, he might have removed it and pressed his forehead to the cooling metal of his desk. Instead he stared up at the awkward, fumbling girl trying to fill Rogue's shoes.

"I realize you're new, but didn't Rogue go over your duties with you before she left?" Magneto said around clenched teeth. Jubilee, that was her name, and from the look of her she wasn't old enough to reproduce, let alone claim membership in the Brotherhood.

"Um, yes, Sir, that is, yes, but..."

Magneto glared. Jubilee cleared her throat and tried again, overeager in her need to please. The brightness of her yellow dust jacket was making his headache worse.

"Raven… That is, Mystique, said you would want to see this personally." Again she thrust the gilded invitation under Magneto's nose, like opening the day's mail was somehow worthy of his time. He kept his hands, palms down, on the desk, leaving the invitation to tremble in Jubilee's grasp. She was afraid of him. Good.

"Mystique is having you on. I don't do functions. I have no interest in attending the annual Mutant Rights Symposium."

A pointless event, with more dithering than calls to action; mutants of privilege arguing over every piece of legislation they managed to push through the congresses of the world. Magneto knew better than that. Change came on the back of an iron first. It was not forged in suit-filled rooms.

A wave of his hand should have dismissed the girl, but she stood her ground, shaking though she was. Rogue would have known to leave. He hoped she and Gambit were happy, because as soon as she returned Magneto was going to make her life miserable.

"What?" he asked, exasperated.

"Mystique said to tell you that Professor Charles Xavier would be acting as this year's keynote speaker."

The news was surprising enough that Magneto forgot himself and reached across the desk to snatch the invitation from Jubilee's outstretched hand. He waved her away, forgetting her entirely as she fled the room. He turned his chair to face the window, cradling the invitation in his palm.

Professor Charles Xavier. Mystique knew him well.

It took twenty minutes to track Mystique down once he decided he needed her, the Brotherhood's Genosha base a sprawling complex that spanned half of the island. He found her in the planning and ops room, bent, half sprawled, across the briefing table.

"Professor Xavier is giving the keynote address at the Symposium this year," he said without preamble.

Mystique glanced up from the set of blueprints she was examining and arched a delicate eyebrow, gold eyes glowing briefly in amusement.

"I thought you would like that," she said. With a flick of her wrist, she ordered the other mutants from the room. Magneto waited until they were alone to continue speaking.

"Has it been confirmed?" he asked. "Because I don't need to remind you that Professor Xavier has never once made a public appearance."

This Magneto knew for a fact. He had been following Xavier's career for years. He had read and reread and reread again everything the man had written. He had tried, on more occasions than he could count, to recruit Xavier into the Brotherhood, but each request for a meeting had been denied. Aside from his work, no one knew anything about Xavier. Not what he looked like, not the full extent of his power--though from what little they did know, he was by far the most powerful telepath in existence--and not what his intentions were.

The man was a recluse. As far as Magneto knew, Xavier had never once stepped foot outside his impenetrable Westchester manor.

And now he was scheduled as the keynote speaker for the largest pro-mutant conference in the world.

"I have official confirmation," Mystique said. Magneto released a breath.

And just like that he was Erik again. Mystique relaxed, losing the stance of his second in command and becoming Raven, the first mutant he'd found and recruited to his cause, someone he considered a friend. Erik grinned.

"Professor Charles Xavier," he said, giddy with the thought of it. Raven echoed his grin, showing far more teeth than her true form possessed.

"Don't mock me, Mystique. Xavier is the reason the Brotherhood exists. I never would have built any of this if it weren't for his work. His manifesto, it changed my life."

This Raven already knew. Most of Magneto's earlier speeches, in the days when the Brotherhood was still only an idea, had been lifted directly from Xavier's manifesto. The words still sang in his ears. Homo superior, the next stage in human evolution, destined to replace Homo sapiens as the dominant life form on the planet. Before Xavier's manifesto, Erik was little more than a monster, a broken creation bent on destroying his creator. Xavier had made him what he was today, had given him purpose.

"What Professor Xavier did, unlocking the mutant gene, giving us a voice, giving us authenticity," Erik said gesturing wildly, caught up in fervour and unable to finish his sentence. "What we're doing here is a pale imitation of the progress he made. It we could convince him to join us… The possibilities, Raven, the possibilities."

He was dimly aware that he was beginning to sound like an obsessed fanatic, but if any man stood as idol in Magneto's life, that man was Charles Xavier.

Caught in the spell of Erik's enthusiasm, Raven stood straighter, head held high, mutant and proud. Her smile became genuine.

"I'll RSVP and make travel arrangements," she said.

"Good. And find someone else to take over your current mission. I'll need you to attend as my plus one," he said, then, as an afterthought, added, "and tell Emma to finish with year end." A fitting punishment he thought as he swept from the room, already planning the next phase of his revolution. With Charles Xavier by his side, the Brotherhood would be unstoppable.

~*~

Charles stared at his reflection in the spotted antique mirror that hung in the grand entranceway. He thought he looked pale--well, paler than usual. The dark circles beneath his eyes stood in stark contrast to the white of his cheeks. He was having second thoughts.

This was not unusual, nor unexpected. He had second thoughts every time he contemplated leaving the security of his home. The second thoughts usually won, which was why he could no longer remember the last time he'd left the property. Had it really been ten years? The thing seemed impossible, but Hank insisted the count was accurate and Charles could find no deception in the tangle of his thoughts; only sharp worry and eager relief that Charles was even considering travelling to New York to attend the Symposium.

What had he been thinking?

"Professor, the car's ready." Hank approached him cautiously, his thoughts timid, half afraid that Charles would retreat to his rooms, leave the Symposium scrambling to find a replacement. He wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to.

"I'm ready," Charles answered, to both of their surprise.

Was he really doing this?

He thought of the last time he had left this place, had travelled by automobile through the looming iron gates that cradled the house and grounds in their secure embrace. He thought of Moira, and the pink flush of her cheeks as she rolled down the window and let the damp evening air into the car. He thought of her careless laugh and then of her strangled scream. The image vanished and Charles glanced down at his legs, covered neatly by the now threadbare wool blanket Moira's mother had knitted as their wedding gift. He clasped his hands neatly in front of him, resting them on unfeeling knees.

Hank took this as permission, and wheeled him steadily through the front doors and then down the lane to where the car was parked, back door open, the trunk loose on its hinges. Charles transferred himself from his chair into the backseat with minimal help, securing himself and repositioning the blanket across his legs as Hank put the chair in the trunk and then joined him in the car. The knot in Charles' chest drew tighter. The engine rumbled to life and the car lurched forward, Charles closing his eyes against the unfamiliarity of it. They rolled forward, towards the black gates and wide world beyond. Already Charles missed the comforting scent of mahogany, the shrill whistle of his kettle, and the gentle vibrations of Cerebro.

~*~

The Grand Ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria was decorated in white and greens, twisting ivy wrapped around pillars and hanging from balconies. Pristine, hand selected calla lilies filled vases on tabletops, filling the room with their sickly sweet scent. Against the room's red and gold décor, the green and white clashed terribly. Magneto adjusted his cape and continued to scowl at the room, effectively scaring off anyone who might desire the ear of the Brotherhood's notoriously austere leader.

"Which one do you think he is?" he asked his companion, searching the face of every man in his line of sight. At his side, Mystique tilted her head, considering.

"He was paralysed, wasn't he? In that car accident that killed his wife," she eventually answered.

"I didn't know he'd had a wife," Magneto replied, shifting his gaze lower, but unless he was one of the men already seated, none sat confined to a wheelchair.

"I don't think they'd been married long." Mystique shrugged, gave him a brief smile and then slipped away into the crowd, hips swaying seductively as she went. Many a head turned to watch her pass, distracted by the sight of a beautiful, exotic woman. Magneto smiled, filled with sudden pride. He had taught her well. He turned in the opposite direction, beginning his own circuit of the room.

Dignitaries, politicians, activists, even a few faces he recognized from his own ranks filled the room. Magneto wove his way between tables and clusters of standing mutants, occasional drifts of conversation standing out from the general buzz, none of it particularly interesting, none of it particularly revolutionary. More of the same; there was a reason he did not attend these events.

The room's stage was set to receive the night's speakers, though it would be some time yet before anyone took the podium. Magneto eyed the set up critically, unimpressed by what he found, the podium set too low to prove anything other than awkward. He hesitated then, Mystique's words coming back to him. He smiled, seeing now further confirmation of Xavier's attendance.

Aside the stage was a door, locked. Magneto hesitated briefly before reaching for the mechanism, letting the metal slide apart with little more than a flick of his hand. He pushed his way inside, glad to be away from the incessant humming of the ballroom. Beyond, a narrow corridor led to a fire exit, a series of storage rooms and impromptu dressing rooms set on his right. Magneto poked his head in each. He stepped inside the third, recently cleared aside from a long, low table set without a chair. The sound of a lock releasing filled the otherwise silent space. Someone had entered the corridor through the emergency exit. He paused, cocking his ear to the side. He did not fear discovery--no one here would dare question Magneto, leader of the Brotherhood--but his curiosity was piqued.

"I'm fine, Hank. It's just a mild headache. Too many minds, nattering away; I'm not used to it."

"That's to be expected. Do you think you'll be able to block them, I mean, once you're on stage?"

Excitement coiled in Magneto's chest, his body tensing in anticipating in the same way it did on the cusp of battle. Were he a sentimental man, he would have declared his faith in fate renewed. To find the very man he was seeking here, free from the influence and interruption of the masses; it was too much to have hoped for. He was about to step out of the room and into the corridor, into Xavier's path, when a voice froze him in his tracks.

"Are you going to come out, or do I have to send Hank in after you? He's nowhere near as understanding as I, and even less impressed by those who would hide their presence behind technology. I'm assuming you have one of those dreadful helmets? Regardless, if you would kindly show yourself, it would be appreciated."

It was said with such arrogance, such imperialism, as though disobeying the command would be unthinkable, that Magneto had to smile. Leaving his helmet securely in place, he stepped into the hall, glancing past the furred mutant who stood between him and his quarry, and got his first good look at Charles Xavier.