Charles and Erik wake from their beds, looking out their windows and to the bright, sunny skies. They both pull themselves up, with very different mentalities about the day to come. For Charles, a seventeen-year old from District 3, it was a death sentence in itself. Charles’ district was technology, where they made so many advancements and wonderful things. Charles loved his home, he went to school and then home to his mother and father. He had avoided the games for five years... If he could only last two more he wouldn’t have to worry about ever looking at the bowl with fear again. Charles was not a violent boy, he was very much a pacifist with very little training. Not being a part of the career districts, he had no reason to ever want to train. In their homes, mutants made up the lot of their population, with very human families in existence. There was only one in his district and they were the McTaggerts, a very good family with a daughter, Moira, the same age as himself. Charles wasn’t so frightened for himself anymore as he was for Hank, a fourteen-year old who had so much potential. Hank could be the greatest asset to their district, he was probably the smartest in the world and yet... Even with so much intelligence he wasn’t safe from the Reaping, from the Mutant Games.
As Charles readies for the day, he pulls on dark pants, a white button up, which he leaves
untucked for a reason even he can’t name. Tying a ribbon under his collar, he brushes his soft, floppy brown hair, which rests about mid neck. His eyes shine so bright in the light, blue as the skies themselves. Charles knows if he is ever picked, he would never last, He didn’t exactly have a useful mutation. He was a telepath, which people might think is immensely helpful, controlling people, reading minds. However, never have the Game makers allowed a telepath to use that part of their ability, suppressing it with a gas that blinds them from that portion of their mutation. He isn’t sure even Hank’s beast like abilities would help him all that well in the games. Stepping out the door, Charles meets with Hank to walk to the Reaping, even though once there, they’re immediately split up by age.
The Reaping to those in the Capitol is exciting, riveting even. President Shaw always enjoys watching them as they’re picked and yet, it’s nothing if but horrifying to the districts. Parents watching their children chosen for death... It’s rare that anyone outside the career districts win. Standing in the seventeen-year old group, he looks across to where Hank is... Hank only has three this year... He can’t be chosen. Charles takes a deep breath as Colossus, a silver man from the Capitol, takes the stand. The mentor for the tributes, Alex Summers, is standing alongside their mayor.
“Happy Mutant Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor, may you be mutant and proud!” he bellows out, smiling brightly as he crossed the stage, right to the bowl of names. The entire district ceases breathing, everyone frightened of their child being picked, the child themselves of bring chosen. Colossus is going for boys first, reaching in and fishing out a name. Plucking the paper he opens it, smiling. “Our boy tribute from District 3 this year—Hank McCoy!”
Charles cries in shock, looking to Hank, whose face has fallen, color drained. He doesn’t fight as two guards come to escort him to stage... But Charles does. The brunette ducks under the rope that corrals them in, running toward Hank. He is going to be called stupid, a fool for this, but Hank was too bright for this, he wouldn’t even last a day. Charles stands more of a chance than Hank. Grabbing the boy’s arm he rips him behind him, holding his arms out.
“I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!” Charles shouts out, Hank holding onto him. Hank has to have a chance, he needs to survive.
“Charles! Charles, you can’t!” the boy cries, pulling at him, tears welling in his eyes. Everyone in the district gasps, watching in mute wonderment that someone would volunteer. It hadn’t happened in years and certainly not for someone the volunteer wasn’t even related to. Colossus stars down at him, smiling.
“Ah, then come up here young man!” The guards quickly escort a screaming Hank away as Charles took the stage. “What’s your name?”
“Charles,” he starts. “My name is Charles Xavier,” he whispers, hands balled in fists, terrified but refusing to show it. They are being watched, if he wanted sponsors, if he wanted help, he couldn’t appear weak. Colossus claps him on the back.
“Give a round of applause to your new boy tribute from District 3, Charles Xavier!” While he sounds so energized, no one claps. Everyone stared, looking on with silent prayer. This isn’t a game to them, this is life or death. Instead of clapping, the district members press two fingers to their lips in unison, raising it toward the stage and directly at Charles. The teen is shocked, it was a sign of peace and survival. Charles returns the gesture before Colossus quickly takes the attention back. “Now then! For our female tribute!” Reaching into another bowl, he pulls the next paper out, the girl who would be his partner... At least until the games. “Moira McTaggert!”
Cries arise from the district and Moira’s family begins to scream, to cry for their daughter. Charles doesn’t know much about her, save for the fact she was the only remaining human family. Her siblings are too young to volunteer for her and even if they could, she wouldn’t let them; he doesn’t know her personally but he knows that she is strong, that she wouldn’t let her siblings take her place. Moira steps up beside him, looking at him, searching his eyes as he does hers. “Happy Mutant Games! May you be Mutant and Proud!” Colossus shouts out with a smile, both Charles and Moira staring at one another, knowing what kind of journey this will be for the both of them.
At the same hour Charles had readied himself, another boy did the same.
Erik Lehnsherr, an 18-year old in District 2 pulled on light brown pants and a long sleeved black shirt. He brushed back his short and thick ginger hair. Cold eyes glared out at the skies, knowing today was the day, it was his turn. Erik was going to volunteer as a tribute for his district, he was going to win and he was going to get his well deserved revenge. Erik was not meant to do this, his parents hadn’t wanted to train him, they wanted him to have as little contact with the games as he could and yet that was not the case. Erik had a very rare mutation, metal manipulation, where he could do what he wanted with any type of metal. It was extremely rare and President Shaw had found out about this when he was ten. Shaw urged his parents to train him, to teach him to be the strongest and have him volunteer. His parents refused, telling Shaw again and again that Erik would do what he wanted, not what they wanted. Shaw didn’t like to be refused. Erik came home from school to find his parents murdered, no witnesses.
He’d known who it was his entire life and he would give Shaw what he wanted. He would train, volunteer and then win. When he did, he’d meet Shaw and show the man just what happened to people like him. In District 2, mining and stone cutting, people volunteered all the time and Erik didn’t argue those years. He was waiting until the very last year, the year he turned eighteen, to be at his strongest and to be at his best. Erik wouldn’t lose, he refused the very thought. After his parent had died, Erik was on his own and worked hard to keep himself going, which wasn’t hard given the inheritance. Living in District 2 paid off more than he realized.
Stepping outside his house he met with the only friend he’d ever cared to meet in this hellhole of a place: Emma Frost, a first class telepath with a diamond form that protects from damage and makes her shine brighter than the sun. The two had met in school, they enjoyed little company but found it in each other. They regarded one another as siblings despite the attempts by Emma’s parents to make it anything but. They walked silently to the Reaping, standing in their groups as their announcer stepped onto stage. Her name is Storm and she’s not only the announcer, but the representative for whoever is chosen. To the left is the mayor, and Logan, the past winner from District 2, only three years as a mentor and already looking bored. Before Storm could even begin the “Happy Mutant Games!” crap, Erik stepped forward. “I volunteer,” he shouted, loud, so no one could mistake it was he who said it. Storm was shocked but smiled pleasantly. “I’m Erik Lehnsherr,” he stated, ducking under the rope to follow the guards to the stage.
“Erik, how lovely of you to volunteer.” She smiled and stepped aside as Erik took the stage. “Welcome your new boy tribute from District 2, Erik Lehnsherr!” Storm clapped, the people of the district clapping and hollering in cheer. Beyond the career districts, Erik was certain no one was cheering. Storm then began to give a speech about choosing a girl when she was interrupted yet again.
“I volunteer.” Emma stated, stepping forward, taking the stage and looking to Erik. They would make it work, Erik knew Emma was just as ready for this as him and in the end it would be them facing off; in the end, Erik was going to win. Storm was at a loss for words before regaining herself and smiling.
“Well! We have our two tributes from District 2. Happy Mutant Games everyone! May you be Mutant and proud!”
They were taken in after that, Erik and Emma separated for the time being, allowed to visit their loved ones, of which Erik had none. However, he did grab the pin his father had always held special, something his father believed brought on luck. It was a golden pin, with an X and an arrow placed in the middle. His father never said why he had thought this was so special but Erik didn’t want to disbelieve it now. After that, the two were herded onto a train that would take them to the capital. It would only be a few hours as they were so close already, but Erik wanted his own car, where he could begin to think of what might occur. He knew they wouldn’t be placed in a metal arena but he could hope, at least it wasn’t somewhere like the desert, where there was no chance for metal. The Game maker sometimes dropped things down if it would turn tables and cause suspense so perhaps he could play off of that. As Erik sat in his compartment he listened in on a pair of loud mouths outside.
“Did you hear about the boy from District 3? Volunteered for a kid he wasn’t related to.”
“He’s so pretty, too... I can’t imagine he has much to work with.”
Erik sat up and grabbed the remote from the television. The compartments were equipped with televisions, where the tributes could watch the other Reaping ceremonies if they so chose. Erik flipped past his to District 3, where a brown haired boy with the bluest eyes Erik has ever seen volunteered for a young kid who wouldn’t last two seconds. The boy had volunteered... Why? He wasn’t even trained, why would he do that? Erik would have to keep a close eye on the kid—Charles Xavier—he wanted to know more. The train pulled into the Capitol at precisely noon, where Erik and Emma were quickly moved into the training facility, where they would live for the next week. Upon reaching the second floor they were greeted by Logan, Storm and two other individuals. They found out the bubbly blond was Raven Darkholme, a twenty-something who was about one of the only normal looking people in the capitol. Her skin was not of any horrid color and her hair was a natural, golden blond. Her eyes were blue and bright, her skin a creamy peach. She had a look about her that shouted she was normal but when Erik looked away then back to her, he found a man, then a child and finally a blue-scaled woman with yellow eyes and red, slicked back hair. He found out she had the ability to change her form and that this was her true self. Taking Erik by the arm, she smiled. “Don’t worry, I won’t make you naked. Sean and I have a perfect idea.” She grinned.
“S’right.” Sean smiled. Sean was her assistant, with curly red hair and freckles covering his face. He also looked normal. He had the ability of sonic screams, which he could use to send himself into the air. It was a unique ability that Erik was certain was useful in an arena, but being from the Capitol, Sean was not forced to do that sort of thing. Raven quickly escorted them into different rooms, sending Sean with Emma. Once inside of the dressing room, which was literally a room full of clothing, Erik found himself surrounded by three women, all in their forties and all with various colors of skin. They were actually very pleasant but his concern wasn’t on how they doted on him, or how they liked the way he held himself but on his impression. One year the tributes were naked, one year they wore glorious ruby colored clothing but nothing had seemed so outstanding as District 12: one year, their tributes had been on fire. Raven stepped toward him with a smile. “Erik, we’ve devised an excellent plan of action and it will make you both shine. We’re going to but shining silver armor on you, then I’m going to give you metal balls, which you will float around the two of you and upon reaching the end, they will explode, raining down shavings of diamonds on you both.” She clapped her hands together as Erik wasn’t about to argue with her and allowed himself to be stripped of his clothes and put in the armor, which was light and clearly not the real kind. It was still magnificent though, and it was the type of armor that held his shape, showing everyone what he looked like. Stepping out of the room he met Emma, who was in her diamond form, shining and beautiful. He hadn’t actually spoken to her since that morning and approached.
“What do you make of it?” Erik asked, taking the balls he was handed and rolling them in the air, his fingers doing a little dance as he manipulated the metal. Emma shrugged.
“It’s good I suppose, I just want to get this over with.” They nodded before stepping up into their chariot, which was pulled by two beautiful, pure white stallions. Raven gave them both thumbs up.
“Remember, smile, the both of you!” Erik had also been given make up, just a little around the eyes to bring them out and as they rolled out after District One, the two of them smiled, though admittedly it was more difficult for Erik than Emma. The crowds gasped and screamed their names as they rode down the streets, his fingers moving the metal balls as they went around. Emma was shining brightly in the sun and the two of them looked gorgeous. However, Erik saw that they weren’t the only magnificent ones. District Three, the one with the boy, Charles... was riding out with his tribute, Moira, a human girl. The two were dressed in a flexible fabric suit that made them look like light boards; they glowed beautifully. They were both waving and smiling, smiles that looked far more real than Emma’s and Erik’s.
Their ride through the city was far too long in his opinion and as he stepped off with Emma, Raven embraced them. “You two were wonderful!” Erik couldn’t stop looking toward Charles though, who was being hugged, along with the human girl, by their own stylist, Janos, as he overheard Charles shout with a smile. It seemed Charles was accepting this fate despite having looked terrified on the video from his Reaping. Had he accepted death so readily? Why would he do that? He had a chance, he was a mutant, Erik knew. He just couldn’t place quite what it was about him. Soon enough they were being moved back to their own floor, where Erik collapsed in bed after a warm dinner, falling asleep early to get a head start in training tomorrow.
The next morning, it was dreadful to wake up. Erik rolled out of bed, securing the same clothes on his body, though washed, adding the pin and stepping into an awkward breakfast with Logan and Storm. Logan was hell bent on telling them the key to survival was to be as strong and smart as possible but they already knew that. The problem was who was smarter. Was there anyone? After breakfast they quickly headed to the training grounds, finding the other tributes there. Erik surveyed the group. He immediately found District One, some massive kid who could literally barrel through anything, alongside a girl with fairy wings. There was a teleporter, a dematerializing girl, a fast runner, a girl with witch-like abilities, a girl who could apparently weaken others, a fire kid, a dozen other random individuals, the human, and then Charles. Charles who clearly did something, but what? The rest of the day Erik practiced with short swords, his weapon of choice, along with his powers. His eyes remained on Charles though, who practiced with everything and Erik couldn’t explain why. It wasn’t until the day was nearly done that he felt strange, as if there were someone else inside of his head.
“Hello?” The voice was clear, very clear and he couldn’t have imagined it...But where did it come from? He looked around and spotted Charles, who was looking at him. “You’re Erik, right? I’m Charles...You’ve been staring at me a lot.” The boy was talking but his lips weren’t moving... He was a telepath. Erik knew this the instant he realized the other was in his mind; Emma had done nearly the same thing when they were kids.
“What are you doing? Why did you reveal your secret to me?” Erik hissed back, though no one could tell they were speaking. That was best, though.
“You have looked at me all day with curiosity and puzzlement, not contempt and hatred like everyone else. I wanted to believe that maybe I could talk to you.” Charles smiled at him and Erik felt something shift inside of him that had him walking straight up to Charles to talk. He hated the mind crap anyway. However, as he made his way he was blocked instantly by the big guy from District One, though the guy wasn’t facing him, he was facing Charles. Erik watched as Charles stood up straight, but even at his tallest, Juggernaut still had nearly a foot on him. Charles didn’t say anything but it didn’t appear he needed to as Juggernaut was quick to jump into an assault.
“What are you doing, tiny pretty boy? Messing with all the weapons, you can’t even wield half of the things you picked up! Go work on something less likely to kill you before I do.”
First of all, that insult was horrible. Secondly, this guy was already annoying as hell. He had no reason to be picking on Charles, who hadn’t been bothering him.
“Erik, don’t.” He heard Emma’s voice, her eyes narrowed. “You’re here to play and win, not befriend some kid from another district, leave it alone.”
“I can’t. Emma, there’s something different about Charles.” Erik didn’t know what drew him to the brunette but in these games he knew they’d need a team, that the other career district would want to team up with others and they would be on the list of allies. Erik would only tolerate them for so long. He wanted a group he could trust for longer than an hour. In the end it wouldn’t be about trust but until that point he wanted a team that could work together. Charles didn’t look frightened but Erik could feel it, the waves of fear that the teen sent out that only those who understood telepaths could feel. Erik made the move and with the flick of his wrist sent a metal bar slamming into Juggernaut, sending the teen back before he moved to stand next to Charles. “Why don’t you just train instead of bullying people? That’s probably a little better to prepare yourself with than petty, pathetic insults.”
Juggernaut was quickly back on his feet, glaringly so harshly that he’d be dead if looks could kill. “Why don’t you stay out of this? You have no reason to give a shit about him... Unless you’re interested in tiny pretty boy.” Juggernaut’s expression went from angry to smirking in the course of half a second. “You want tiny pretty boy? In that case, I’ll make you watch as I tear his limbs from his body, piece by piece, or would a Nazi like you enjoy that?”
Erik snapped. There was one thing to threaten another tribute when Juggernaut didn’t have a single reason to hate Charles, and then there was the fact that... well, Erik was interested in Charles. It was another thing to use an insult such as that, one that was so old yet meant the very same. Erik threw metal at the kid, knocking him down and lifting half the swords on the ground. Juggernaut was shouting for help, Erik ready to end it all for him there when he felt a tug on his arm. The ginger haired teen glanced down to find Charles pulling at him.
“Erik!” Where had he learned his name? Probably the screens. “Erik, save it for the games! He isn’t worth it now... Not when you’ll die because of it.” Erik glanced from Charles to Juggernaut before dropping the weapons and stalking off. He would get Juggernaut, he’d make him suffer. For now though he merely wanted to go to the courtyard outside to enjoy the time he had alone.
It was nighttime when he stepped outside, letting the moonlight bathe him in its light. The courtyard was just outside the building they were all staying in. No one was afraid of them leaving, as there was no way for it to happen, anyway. They would get killed before they could step onto the street, as was the life of a tribute. All he had wanted to do was get to know Charles, which was probably the most stupid thing to do. After all, he was going to have to fight him to the death and yet, he didn’t want to. It was incredibly lonely here, even with so many people. Erik was used to being lonely but seeing Charles volunteer for another made him want to know why. Had Juggernaut destroyed that chance?
“May I sit with you?”
Erik jumped, standing from the stone bench he had found himself at. Charles was looking at him, in the clothes he had worn at his Reaping. Erik mutely nodded and sat back down, letting Charles sit beside him. “Thank you. For earlier,” the brunette murmured. “I find that he will be my biggest challenge yet. I’m already very certain I’ve signed my death certificate, but it was worth it.” Erik’s head whipped to the side to stare at Charles.
“Why? Why did you do that? You didn’t have to volunteer, you aren’t a career district, you weren’t related to the kid. Why did you volunteer?” Even though he wouldn’t have known Charles had he not volunteered, he hated the thought of knowing he might die—no, would. Erik had to win. Charles smiled at him, a smile that was beginning to make Erik feel so different.
“Hank is smart Erik, he could do so much for our world. Being chosen would have been the end of him, he couldn’t handle the arena. I’m not much better but I’m also much less smart than him.” He smiled. “I just wanted to give him a fighting chance, so I took his place.” Erik hated Charles’ selflessness, he hated how the boy’s eyes were so bright and his smile so genuine. Erik knew there was something he had to do. Once the games began he had to make sure Charles survived. He wanted revenge, he wanted to kill President Shaw, but he wanted Charles to survive. Why couldn’t two tributes live?
“You’re a fool. I have to get to bed, we’ve got the Game makers tomorrow, then another day of training, the interviews, and then the games begin.” Erik sighed, looking to Charles. “Promise me something Charles.” The brunette stood alongside him, cocking his head. “Don’t die, don’t give up: fight.”
Charles smiled. “I’ll do my best Erik.” The cameras couldn’t see them now, they couldn’t see the way Erik’s face softened at Charles’ promise, or the way he was beating himself up over letting someone in so easily. Tomorrow marked another day closer to the games.