When Everything's Made to be Broken
“And I'd give up forever to touch you
Cuz I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now
And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
Cuz sooner or later it's over
I just don't want to miss you tonight.”
~ “Iris”, Goo Goo Dolls
“…The advent of the nuclear age may have accelerated the mutation process. Individuals with extraordinary abilities may already be among us,” she concluded. “Thank you very much.”
A moment of terse silence ensued as she sat, but her audience wasn’t looking at her now.
“MacTaggert, you really think that some crackpot scientist is going to make me believe in sparkly dames and vanishing men?” one of the CIA men snort derisively. “You just bought yourself a one-way ticket back to the typing pool. This meeting is over.”
Charlotte spoke up quickly. “Ah, please, sit down, Agent MacTaggert,” she asked politely. She was dressed professionally in a dove grey skirt suit, sitting straight with her legs crossed at the knee, but the men before her are sexist ignoramuses and they still considered her no more than a foolish teenaged girl. Time to get down to business, then.
“I didn’t really expect you to believe me, as all you’d think about during my presentation is what sort of pie they’d be serving in the commissary,” she spoke haughtily but paused. “It’s apple pecan,” she added with a sharp look but looks to MacTaggert. “I’m terribly sorry, but I haven’t been entirely honest with you. You see,” she returned her attention back to the men before her. “One of the spectacular things my mutation allows me to do is that I can read your mind.”
She relished the skeptical looks on their faces, preparing for the following expressions of incredulity.
“I’ve seen this trick before at the magic show,” the one on the right said scathingly. “Are you gonna ask us to think of a number between one and ten?”
Charlotte laughed politely, still smiling sweetly. “No, Agent Stryker, although—I could ask you about your son, William, you were thinking about, which is very nice—but,” she leaned forward eagerly, “I think I’d rather ask you about the Jupiter missiles America are currently placing in Turkey.”
The panic is well worth her wait. They both straightened in alarm and shared an urgent look.
“She’s a goddamn spy!” the other agent spat. “You brought a goddamn spy!”
Chaos ensued momentarily.
Raven, if you would?
My pleasure, Char.
Her sister stood instantly, taking Stryker’s appearance (though with a smirk). The room froze instantly. After a moment, she reverted to her natural azure form.
Charlotte smirked. “How’s that for a magic trick?”
The man in the back finally spoke up. “Best I’ve ever seen.”
A cursory perusal of his mind made her smile. An ally, especially one of his position, was a valuable thing.
Good. They wouldn’t be thrown into a cell. Though she’d only have manipulated other agents minds into releasing them, this was far more preferable.
She didn’t expect their next ally.
“There’s someone else out there!”
She pushed past them, back out to the deck, and located the other in an instant.
“There!” she exclaimed, pointing to the speck in the water…just as the Caspartina’s anchor rose into the air and began destroying the ship. Charlotte’s mouth fell open as she watched the display.
Information came pouring in from the mutant’s mind. Shaw—in a submarine escaping—the mutant trying to pull it back—
“Let go!” she screamed, leaning on the rail. “Let go!” Charlotte turned to the others. “You’ve got to help him—get someone in the water to help him—” The other had not heard her. “Let it go! You have to let it go!”
But he only began sinking under the water…
They were not listening. There wasn’t time—
“Sod this,” she muttered, flinging off her jacket and shoes before taking a running start and diving off the ship. “Charlotte—” Moira exclaimed, but the telepath hit the water before she heard more.
She latched on to him, wrapped her arms around his chest, and tried to pull him up. You can’t. You’ll drown, she told his mind kindly but firmly.
The professor delved into his mind and knew him.
Blinding, consuming rage—heartbreaking grief from years past—desperation, I can’t let him get away, not again—and a fierce determination, willing to die if it meant taking Shaw-Schmidt with him.
I know what this means to you but you are going to die, she told him urgently, tugging at him again. Please, Erik. She plucked his name from his mind. Calm your mind.
Finally, he listened and almost went limp for a moment, watching Shaw escape again, as Charlotte pulled him to the surface. Even without trying to read his mind, she could feel the mixture of desperation / disappointment / fury.
When they surfaced, he shoved her away. “Get off me, get off me!” She allowed him to distance himself while she gasped for air.
“Calm down, just breathe!” she told him calmly, trying to sooth the boil vat of anger she could feel within him. He was pouring out his anger and confusion like a leaky faucet; much more of it and she’d get a headache. “We’re here!” the telepath screamed to the people on the ship.
The mutant, Erik, looked at her—she tried to ignore his thought of A girl?—and asked sharply, “Who are you?”
“My name is Charlotte Xavier,” she replied, spitting out water.
“You were in my head!” he exclaimed. “How did you do that?”
She smiled a bit. “You have your tricks, Erik, and I have mine. I’m like you—just calm your mind!”
The wide-eyed look of shock and confusion he gave her softened her heart. “I—I thought I was alone.” Her heart clenched at the sudden sense of loneliness but rising hope.
“You’re not alone,” she told him with a smile. “Erik, you’re not alone.”
They said no more as they were fished out of the sea and onto the ship.
As they stood, huddling and shivering from the cold, on the deck, several crewmembers went in search of blankets and fresh clothes.
The CIA people and Raven eyed the newcomer curiously.
“H-He’s w-w-with us-s,” Charlotte stammered. “A-an ally.”
God, it was freezing. She shivered and her legs were kind of numb—but at least she was wearing trousers instead of a skirt. That could have ended badly. But her sweater was soaked and clinging. A couple nearby crewmen leered; Charlotte ignored their filthy minds and turned to chastise them, but didn’t have the chance. Before she could say a word, they scurried off.
Turning back to face the others, the telepath was surprised to find Erik glaring after them, thinking loud curses in—German? Yes, that was German. Charlotte held back the amused smile that threatened to give her away. Instead, she looked at him curiously.
Out of the water, she could see him better. And, wow, he was a tall one; he practically loomed over her five-four frame. His dark hair was plastered to his head and he, too, was shivering.
Finally, spare clothing was found and they changed. As the ship returned to land, they all gathered and introductions were made. Charlotte let Moira explain while the telepath focused on pinning her wet hair out of her face. Finally, he explained, though briefly. “He killed my mother trying to get me to use my abilities,” he said tersely. “I’ve been after him for years now.” A pang of sympathy resounded in her. There was the explanation for the well of sorrow and hatred in him that had tugged at her painfully earlier.
When they adjourned, Erik paused beside her before they parted. “You said you were in my mind earlier, Miss Xavier.”
“Please,” she told him, “It’s Professor Xavier if you want to be formal, but I’d much prefer Charlotte.”
His mouth hardened for a moment. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“Technically, you didn’t ask one. You rephrased an earlier statement, but yes you were correct.”
Erik’s eyes narrowed. “I asked in my mind, I thought you were listening.”
Charlotte shook her head. “No. I try to stay out of others’ minds if possible,” she told him. Now that he had calmed, she could block his thoughts from her.
“Good,” he told her. “Stay out.” He left before she could say more.