Charles skimmed the datapad with a magnificent lack of concern, barely raising an eyebrow at its contents. "Emma, darling, this is field work."
It was the kind of attitude that reminded her of his first days at Division X, before he understood its true purpose and learned to make the role work for him. She'd thought him free of it until that unpleasant business last year landed him in hospital and prompted him to retire from active service. Speaking of which -
"And therefore beneath you, is that it? Remember your place, sweetheart. If that's even possible for you."
Perhaps she had allowed him too much freedom. Division X thrived by keeping its masters at the CIA oblivious of its true purpose, which had led to some inevitable lapses in discipline. Emma tolerated it for the sake of mutant interests, but it was occasionally very trying.
Charles blithely ignored her amused disdain. "Are you sure you want me for this?"
"Without a doubt. One, you can work with Mystique. Two, you have the right...skill set. Three - "
"I guarantee you haven't had an assignment this interesting since Sebastian Shaw."
The name worked on him like magic, as she knew it would. For a moment, it was as if he was back in that hospital room, small and pale and drugged up to the gills, but bright-eyed with fury.
Emma smiled. Inter-agency cooperation is one thing, but it doesn't mean we have to let SHIELD have all the fun.
I thought you liked me. For the avoidance of doubt: by 'fun', you mean 'investigate a creature with powers beyond human comprehension', Charles said. His face didn't change from its bland, pleasant mask. The grin was in the words, and the shiver of excitement he couldn't quite suppress when he spoke into her mind.
She knew then that she'd made the right choice. Precisely. You are something of an expert.
More than you know. Emma, darling, I have an idea.
[five years ago]
The day Emma Frost rose to the post of deputy director of Division X (and head of department in all but name), the neutralisation of Sebastian Shaw became its primary objective. Some might accuse her of having a personal agenda, an axe to grind against the man who was rumoured to have taken her from her family as a young girl.
Charles knew better. What Emma had was a vision for the future of mutantkind, one where they stepped out of the shadows into the light of day at last. Shaw was their target because he was one of the biggest threats to the realisation of that vision. Any score-setting beyond that was her own business.
They'd always understood each other, ever since the day they met.
Charles felt her before he ever saw her - a mind like diamond, glittering, unyielding and irresistable. He hovered at the edges, like knocking on a door, and was repelled with a sharp spike of pain that he could feel down to his toes.
A fine mind, primed to respond to any slight intrusion. Charles could feel himself straightening, shedding the skin of the stuffy academic he wore like armour. He was already smiling even as he turned to face her.
"Doctor Charles Xavier?"
"Not quite yet, but I will be in a few months. Apologies, I didn't mean to alarm you."
"My secrets are shared on a need to know basis," she said coolly. Her blue eyes were as bright as cut glass. "You don't need to know."
He always needed to know. But that was his secret, and he didn't share those easily either.
"I respect that."
She smiled, indulgent, even a little fond. "If you say so."
In that moment he fell a little in love with her, this woman who was content to let others have the illusion of power while she held all the cards.
That little bit of him she'd always have, to keep.
My name is Emma Frost. What do you know about Division X?
Charles raised his eyebrows. I refuse to answer on the grounds that it may incriminate my sister.
Don't concern yourself with that, she said coolly. I have a proposal for you.