Erik crouches in an empty parking lot behind a black sedan. It’s nighttime and his leg is aching from what he assumes is the length of time he’s spent kneeling behind this car. A little thrown off balance by the fact that he’s randomly in a parking lot, he tries his best to remember anything that might have happened before this moment. Of course, nothing comes to mind. A breeze blows past him, causes him to pull his jacket around him a bit tighter. Cold, but it doesn’t feel like winter. There’s no other indication around that would show his location. He wonders where he is and peeks out to the side of the car. The parking lot seems to be empty.
Right then. He quickly uses his powers to open the car door and gets into the car. He just needs a moment to think, to figure out what the heck he’s doing before some good citizen passes by and tells the cops about a crazy man crouching in some random parking lot.
Patting down his pockets, he pulls out a thin engraved sheaf of metal along with several polaroids and a sheet of paper. He scans the metal quickly and notes that at the very top, the word New York have been impressed more recently than the others. His likely location then.
The paper seems to be a bill of some kind but he notices the word SCHMIDT written on the front of it, underlined three times. He freezes, mouth curving into an excited smile. Was he that close? The bill is addressed to a Hellfire club in Las Vegas, but the address is already crossed out and initialed in his handwriting, so he assumes that he’s only to pay attention to the return address. Which is in New York. Which would match with the weather quite nicely, even though he’s in a part of town that Erik doesn’t recognize. There's a card attached to the bill, one for a professor by the name Charles F. Xavier. Looks like the addresses match.
He flips down the visor and keys fall out into his hand. Amateurs. Putting them into the ignition, he pulls out of parking lot, only to slam on his breaks as a brunette throws herself in front of the car, slamming her hand on the hood. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she yells, eyes flashing.
Taken aback, Erik is too startled to do much but stare, and then consider running her over. He thinks that she can perhaps see that possibility in his face because she quickly runs around to the side of the car and pulls the door open-stupid, should’ve locked it-and shoves a badge in Erik’s face.
“You stole the wrong person's car you ass--” she breaks off once she gets a good look at his face. “I’ve seen you before.”
Erik groans internally. He had to be the one to steal what was probably the only cop’s car probably within dozens of miles.
“I highly doubt that,” he says, even though he has no clue if she has seen him before or not. “Would it be too late for me to claim it was an honest mistake?”
Erik put on his best smile, holding his hands up in what most humans considered to be a classic surrender position but for him was actually the best position for him to deflect any bullets that might come out of that gun he could sense she had her hand pressed against in her jacket holster.
“Were you sent here?” she demands, hand still insistently pressed against her gun.
“Sent here by whom? I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Erik says, starting to lose his patience.
She eyes him suspiciously. “So you’re just an idiot car thief then.”
Erik sighs. “Look, you...clearly need to be on your way and I...the door was open, and I had the keys in my hand, so I must've mistaken it for my car” he blatantly lies, but he can sense the key’s in the glove compartment. “So how about I just get out and go on my way and I’ll let you go on yours.”
“Are you fucking kidding me? You had the keys in your hand after you STOLE them. Do you see any other car in this parking lot? And where were in such a hurry to go, the local chop shop?” she asks incredulously, hand not wavering one bit.
Erik hesitates, then decides to inject some truth into his story. He found it best not to lie too much in these situations, only because it was impossible to keep track of them for any longer than a day in any case. And plus it was easy to feign ignorance, since he was just as much in the dark as anybody else at this point. He just hoped that she wouldn’t remember where she had supposedly seen him before. He tells her about his condition, explaining that he had just come to in the parking lot, and was was trying to find the address on the card that he had in his pocket for more explanation as to where he was coming from. He found it easy to be deliberately vague considering the holes in his own memory. He pulls the card out of his pocket carefully and hands it over to her.
He notices that her face changes slightly as she looks at the card. She recognizes it.
"Interesting," was the only thing she said in reference to that. "You expect me to believe this story."
"It's the only story I have, and happens to be a true one." Erik responds, not having to fake his look of frustration.
"Oddly enough, it isn't even the most unbelievable story that I've heard this week, especially concerning him." she sighs. "Get out of my car."
"You know where this this place is." Erik starts cautiously while climbing out of the front , wondering if he was pushing his luck.
She slides in, bucking her seat belt and not looking at him. "I may, however at the moment I'm wondering if It would be a good idea to help a man who initially wanted to steal my car, so."
Erik grits his teeth. "Please. I mean no harm."
Which he didn't. Unless of course Schmidt was there, or someone who denied him access to the man in any way.
He backs away from the car slowly, hands still up. "I'm sorry, I'll just...find it myself. Sorry for the trouble."
She stares at him, tilting her head. "Well...I may be able to help. Perhaps. Besides, he'll be able to tell your intentions anyway and I'd love to be there when that happens. Get in the passenger side."
Erik assumes she's talking about Charles Xavier, and he smiles inwardly. If "Charles' is an alias of Schmidt's then she would get quite a different meeting than she had likely been oping for. He jogs around the car and gets into the passenger seat, reaching over to shake her hand when she offers it.
"Magnus Eisenhardt." he lied smoothly.
"Magnus," she repeats, her voice skeptical.
"So? My parents were eccentric." Erik huffs defensively, slamming the car door shut.
"That name is almost too ridiculous to be fake." she laughs, pulling out of the parking lot one handed.
She still didn't take her arm off the weapon hidden in her jacket.
She drives them to a bar in what looked like a student section of town before she speaks up again. "Tonight is your lucky night. I was actually going to meet with him. You will wait here for me in the car while I speak with him first, because I'm here for a reason that frankly, has nothing to do with you, and is none of your business. You will stay here. in. this. car. Am I understood?" Her smile is all charm with steel underneath. With that, she was out of the car, taking the car keys with her and locking the door.
Wait in the car, right. Erik sits in the car for about five minutes after she leaves and then slips out and heads into the same bar he saw her go into. Luckily its rather crowded, so his entrance is well hidden by the throngs of grad students milling about. He spots her at a back table, sitting with a young man. He pushes his way past, trying to stay out of their line of sight, and manages to find a seat in a booth in the back where he can hear them reasonably well, but can only view them out of the corner of his eye. He only hopes that she doesn't turn her head too far and see him.
"-wanted to see him first to see what his deal was. I did not get the impression that he was connected but do you think he might be one of yours?" she was saying.
"Hmm, The name Magnus Eisenhardt is not particularly familiar to me. It does seem strange that he would search for me at that particular address and not the compound if he was 'one of mine.'”
"I don't know. I can’t guarantee that he is not connected to Shaw in any way it just seemed like a strange coincidence that someone would come looking for you here, and I swear I saw him at the Hellfire Club in Vegas. I left him in the car, but do you think you can do your.." Erik assumed she was gesturing to the other man as she trailed off uncertainly.
'I don't think that will be particularly necessary Moira, I believe our guest has come to us."
Erik stiffened in his seat and tried to turn away but he could feel the burn of Moira's glare against the back of his neck.
Erik whipped his head around at the sound of his name, to meet the bluest eyes he'd ever seen.
"I believe you were looking for me. My name is Charles Xavier."
He never really suspected that there might be more like him out there. There certainly wasn't anyone in the camps that had anything similar to what he had, the Doctor would have gathered them up as well. But after his escape he realized that while there might have not been anyone like him, people with other talents might exist. He came close to finding him once, not too long after the camps were disbanded and most of the higher officers had gone to ground like rats. It was several years later after the failed relationship with Magda that just proved to him the tenacity of humans to murder and destroy anything that might be superior to them. There was too much on the outside that reminded him of the camps, so he decided to destroy what he considered to be the source. For some reason, after making that decision all he remembers is snow, a pair of very cold blue eyes and pain. He's tried to recall detail, he's tried to meditate, he's tried every single human psychiatrist and doctor, and every attempt was a failure. After a while he stopped trying. It didn't really matter that he couldn't really have a life after this, considering the fact that he didn't think he would survive the attempt at revenge.
Moira is outraged at his perceived betrayal, her features pink with anger, but Erik doesn't care, all he has eyes for is this man, who is definitely not Schmidt.
"Do I know you?" he demands, completely ignoring Moira's growing anger.
"This is the first time we've met, I think I would have remembered." Charles smiles at him, leaning forward onto the table. He looked almost like a young man playing dress up in his father's clothes, with his tweed blazer and wavy brown hair that fell into his rather unnerving eyes. He looks at Erik as if he is looking straight into him, and Erik finds that he can't quite look away. He had seen eyes like that before somewhere, but he couldn't quite remember where.
Despite this man looking almost suspiciously innocent, he was still connected to Schmidt in some way and Erik intends to find out exactly how. He pulls out the paper that he found at Hellfire and smooths it onto the table.
"And I presume you do business at this address?" Erik says, watching Charles' reactions carefully.
"This is the address to one of my properties, yes." Charles brow furrows as he scans the bill quickly, "but I'm not sure why its addressed there, I've only recently heard about this Hellfire Club." He exchanges glances with Moira, who shrugs at him. "Might I ask where you got this from?"
Oh this man was good. Everything about his demeanor screamed that he was telling the truth. He ignored the question and countered with one of his own. "And what is it exactly that you do, Mr. Xavier? Seems a bit lax to not know what is going on in one of your own properties."
"I'm a professor of genetics at Oxford, but recently I've been on a sabbatical doing some personal projects." At this Charles seemed to light up, smiling directly at Erik as if this were some kind of cue.
He has no idea what this man expects of him. "And these personal projects don't include nightclubs in Las Vegas, I'm assuming."
"Far from it. My line of study involve something far more interesting than that. Tell me, Erik, how much do you know about genetic mutation in humans?"
Erik keeps his face straight. He couldn't know. He was just being paranoid is all, there was no possible way.
"Not too familiar, I'm afraid. You're talking men with six fingers? Siamese twins?" Erik replies in a bored tone, sitting back in his chair.
"Yes in fact, but also genetic anomalies that include even more than that. Blue eyes, red hair, these are all mutations, but there are also distinguishers in different human beings that translate as talents. For example, being born with significantly longer legs, or perhaps someone with an extra and yet fully functioning arm."
"I can't say that I'm too familiar with the subject no." Erik lies. This harmless looking professor was starting to take on a more ominous light.
"So you ensuring that these abominations don't happen? Eugenics?"
Schmidt was also interested in genetics and mutations in humans, and it was highly suspicious that this man was interested in the same subject.
Xavier was shaking his head almost before he finished his last word, looking almost offended. "Not at all, not in the sense of fixing, as after all, there is nothing wrong in itself with mutation. Mutation is what took us from single celled organisms to the beings we are today, and each of us have experienced different mutations in our own way. You, for example, have a very interesting mutation."
Erik toys with the napkins on the table, bringing his left hand underneath to loosen one of the knives that was always tucked in between his sleeves. "A mutation? And what exactly would that be? I'm relatively sure that I've got the same amount of arms and toes as everyone else."
"Blue eyes are considered a mutation."
Erik loosens his grip on the knife and smiles almost in relief. "I don't think most people would consider that to be quite as useful a mutation as an extra arm."
Xavier smiles at him as if they are sharing some kind of secret. "It would depend on whom you're speaking to. I would say that that woman there at the bar is using hers to great effect."
Erik glances over to see a redhead at the bar flirt shamelessly with the bartender as he poured her a drink, and laughs despite himself.
"I'm not sure if studying girls at bars is quite up to the Oxford standard of research, Mr Xavier."
"A bit flippant perhaps, but still accurate."
"So thats it? That's a bit anticlimactic." Erik says, ready to get back on topic. Why would a stripper at a bar in Las Vegas have the card for a genetics professor in New York?
Xavier suddenly sobered up, and that piercing gaze was back. "Oh no, Erik. The real mutations I study are something quite different. " He looks almost sad as he continues "Something I think you are quite intimately acquainted with." Shaking his head slightly, he regains his smile and cards his hands through his hair. "If you're interested, I can introduce you to some of us."
"Are you sure thats a good idea, Charles?" Moira's voice cut through the air, startling Erik. He had almost forgotten that she was there.
"Oh yes" replies Xavier, still staring at Erik, "I think it might answer a few more of your questions."
Erik feels a growing pressure in his skull and he massages the back of his head idly.
"And the bill?"
"That, I can't answer," he says, frowning. "I truly have no idea. But I have a suspicion that we're searching for the same thing. My office is not too far from here. Will you come?"
Erik agrees, if only to continue his line of investigation. He's a bit thrown as to how they even got onto this subject, and Charles seems to dodge his questions about Las Vegas quite easily. Charles signals for a bill and signs his tab while still speaking idly about programs to introduce those with different mutations into a more prominent role in society but he’s hardly paying attention, what with what has now turned into a full on migraine.
He finds himself agreeing to visit this man’s office, if only to continue his line of investigation. Xavier seems a bit overly excited at this prospect but Erik thinks himself ready for any ambushes. Xavier would regret having crossed him if this was a trap of any kind.
“ So...Erik,” Moira started, with an emphasis on his name, shooting an annoyed look at Xavier first. “You never did mention what exactly you were looking for. I know you have this document but why are you searching for this place?”
Erik suddenly realizes they have been referring to him by his real name for this entire conversation. His mind racing, he curses himself for not realizing it earlier. They clearly recognized him from somewhere, or perhaps only Xavier, Moira had been content to call him by his alias just earlier today and her annoyed expression would explain that she simply didn’t like being lied to. Was this a setup? He scanned the bar again, only seeing the same grad students, no suspicious characters at all. He couldn't sense that Xavier was carrying a weapon of any kind, only Moira was carrying the same gun she had been carrying since the beginning of their acquaintance.
Pushing back his chair, he stands up abruptly, stumbling at the stabbing pain in his head and ready to lash out, human witnesses or no, when Xavier cuts him off with one sharp word.
and the world stops.
Students are frozen mid-step. The woman at the bar holds her cup still in midair on its way to her unmoving lips, and even Moira was in an awkward rising position, clearly mid-attempt to protect Xavier from this perceived threat. For the first time in a long time, Erik felt a chill of fear. The stabbing pain in his head grows exponentially and he grabs at the table to steady himself, while trying to calm his breathing.
“ What is this? What is happening?”
Xavier stands up. “Erik, please calm down. Recall I was speaking to you about talented individuals. I did not mention that I too am talented. As are you, I suspect.”
“ How can you do this? How do you know?” Erik’s headache was blinding by now. Had he been somehow drugged? His fingers are clumsy and he drops the knife that was in his hand onto the table. He had to do something, defend himself somehow, but he suddenly can’t quite get in enough air.
“ Erik! What’s wrong?” Xavier’s face takes on a worried cast and he reaches out as if to touch him but Erik recoils.
“ Don’t! I can’t...” he feels the tables shaking slightly, the nails holding them together vibrating themselves apart, and then all he can see and remember are blue eyes, and ice, then dark.