Sean met Alex at the door. The first thing he said was:
"Who's the broad?"
"None of yours," Sean said, shouldering past him. The blonde followed, hand caught in Sean's; Alex ran his eyes over her, and she stood on the inside of his foot with her heel. He already liked her.
"Hey," Raven said, when he entered the meeting room. "Ain't that Tom's old girl?"
"That a problem?" Sean said, brusque; he lit a pair of cigarettes, the match flaring sulphur bright, and handed one to Maeve.
"Not with me," Raven said, pushing herself liquidly to her feet and stealing Sean's cigarette from his lips. "Come on, sugar," she said, taking Maeve by the arm. "Let's leave the boys to their business."
"You think that's a good idea, Sean?" Charles said, leaning back in his chair. "Necking with Tom's girl?"
"She ain't Tom's girl no more," Sean said. "And Tom's basically outta business any way; the new cat's cracking down hard on his rackets." Charles quirked a smile, rubbed a finger over his lips, and didn't push it. His eyes flicked up at Alex and Armando entered, sliding into their seats.
"I hear there's a new guy in town," Charles said.
"Yeah," Armando said. "Real quick cat. Goes by the name of Erik Lehnsherr. Tall, blond, mighty fine with a knife, from what I've heard."
"The crews're calling him Lyncher." Alex said, blowing smoke rings at the ceiling. "Kinda fitting."
"Read my lips, Summers," Armando said, leaning across the table. "Lehnsherr. Guy's German. Don't go getting him confused with some dumbass vendetta guy, neither: our boy down the DA says that he's got a real thing for Sebastian Shaw. Like, he really wants that guy's head on a stick."
"Hmm," Charles said, rubbing his hands together. "Think we can cut a deal?"
"They shipped his guy down outta DC," Alex said. "I dunno if these fed-types are the easiest nuts to crack."
"If he's got it as bad for Shaw as Mandy says," Sean said, twirling a cigarette between his fingers, "then I reckon we can work something out. Could use my pull at the Bureau to get a look in, boss, If you like."
"You do that," Charles said, saluting the idea with a fingertip. "I think I want to meet this Lehnsherr. See if you can't get him to come down to the office."
The three shared a look. "You think that's wise, boss?" Armando said. "If he's as hard on Tom's folk as he seems to be, then how're we to know he won't bring his boys with him?"
Charles smiled, and they suppressed a shudder. "Oh, I'm pretty certain he's going to want to talk to me," he said. "After all, I can deliver him Shaw on a silver platter."
Old money ran deep; that Alex knew, but he doubted even the Xavier fortune could counter Shaw's empire. Still:
"You're the boss," he said, standing. The others did the same.
"Aren't I just," Charles said, still smiling.