Erik was sure he was getting away with murder. Or the kidnapper equivalent of it, anyway.
The kid in the backseat was out like a light, and Erik's mind was full of how he could make this work for him. Charles Marko, son of Senator Kurt Marko, was currently passed out on the backseat of Erik's car. Erik had been gathering intel on the Senator, a known anti-mutant bigot and he'd come across the kid wandering the less secure back rooms of the convention center where Marko was currently mid-rally, trying to get votes for his insane anti-mutant views.
Erik had set out to get information, what he had instead was something to barter with. It was obvious that he wasn't all there, but Erik wasn't going to complain. It had meant Erik could get him into a car and set off, then change the car half an hour later, and now, five hours and four cars later, Erik was trying to plan.
Marko kept his youngest son out of the light of the media. There had been speculation that the boy wasn't quite right in the head, and Erik had wondered if that that might've been the case. Mostly because he'd willingly let Erik lead him away. And now he was sleeping o'in the backseat.
Initially Erik hadn't recognized him. Young, probably early 20s, pretty as hell, spaced out look in his eyes - and something that Erik couldn't quite explain. If he'd been responsive when Erik had spoken to him, in more than short, drawn out words, then Erik would have hit it like nobody's business, but the kid was just that, a simpleton. And Erik was going to use him against Kurt Marko, put some pressure on him.
Just as soon as he could come up with a plan how.
Charles Marko shifted in the backseat and muttered something under his breath, his eyes moving rapidly behind closed lids.
Now the question was if Erik brought him to someone who had more experience than he did. Shaw was out of the question, Erik had been burned once there already, Maybe Frost, but he'd have to think that through for a little longer. So for now, he was dragging the kid along for the ride.
Maybe he could force Senator Marko's hand on a few issues, or at least get some money out of him in exchange for his son. Although, he'd prefer to get some issues on the table, rather than just petty cash.
Nearing midnight, Erik drove past a sign for a motel and although he'd decided that he wasn't going to stop anyway, he felt the urge to do so after all - then a moment later, he carried on down the road, shaking his head. Wouldn't do to stop too early - he would put a few states between them and Kurt Marko, and then he could find a place to stay and focus on planning.
He wondered if he'd spaced out this time, because he'd been heading west, and Erik was good with directions - walking compass and all. Yet, he found himself, half a day later, driving up close to the Canadian border. North, rather than west.
Finally deciding that he'd had enough weird shit for a day or two, he found a small motel on the outskirts of a town. His passenger had woken up briefly when Erik had returned with the key, but he was now conked out on one of the two beds in the dinky motel room.
Helping him out of the shirt and fancy trousers, Erik felt like a damned perv. No doubt the kid was pretty, but he was definitely not entirely there. And that was not Erik's thing, even if Marko had opened his eyes and stared into Erik's, long enough to make him uncomfortable., before laying back down on the bed, asleep before his head hit the pillow.
Erik paused when he saw the scars on the kid's back. Some of them were very, very old, and none of them looked like accidents. He swallowed hard and covered the boy with two blankets. Not his business.
Now, Erik should have known better than to let his guard down, but he was running on fumes by now, and his mind was not really letting him have any rest. He'd taken a cigarette and his lighter with him and had gone outside in the chill night, trying to get his thoughts and plans into order. They'd been at the motel for three days and Marko had slept through most of it, only reluctantly taking in food and water when Erik had offered him it. The toilet trips were best not spoken about.
Erik had to come up with a plan. A direction. He let his gift stretch out along the car park of the motel. Cars, vans, a truck at the far end. All the metal, all quietly humming to him. Right up until the moment he realized he'd spaced out for too long and something else was coming towards him. Several somethings, even. And he made the mistake of focussing on them, a split second too late to realize that there were weapons he couldn't track. A small plastic arrow hit him in the arm and Erik felt the instant certainty that he'd been hit with a tranq gun. Shit, shit, shit. Maybe it was poison and he wouldn't wake up again. Figures moved silently towards him and as Erik's worldview narrowed down with the chemicals roaring through his system - he tried to keep an eye on them. They closed in and then nothing. As he slowly slid to the ground, he tried to focus on the shadows in the car park. One moment they had been moving forward, the next they were quiet and still shadows, littering the car park.
As Erik felt consciousness slip away, he thought 'why are they not moving? Why are they not taking me out?'
And then nothing.
Waking up… Erik blinked once, twice. Waking up, he found himself in the backseat of an unknown car. Not the last one he'd stolen. Not that this one was any nicer. He could feel the age of the metal. The tiredness of its bones.
The kid was in the driver's seat.
Erik had expected soldiers, had expected a nullification collar, or at least chemicals in his bloodstream that would keep him from using his powers. But he could still feel everything.
From the angle he was lying at, Erik could see a thin stream of dried blood underneath the kid's nose. He stayed quiet. Something was very much not like he'd thought it was. The boy should've been dead to the world in the motel room and Erik should have been taken prisoner by government agents.
"I guess I owe you thanks," the boy said, quietly, not taking his eyes off the road. Judging by the area, the direction - and Erik could still tell that they were going north now. They were either close to Canada or already across the border.
Then the words caught up to him. "Thanks for wha'?" Erik managed to get out. His mouth felt dry as the desert.
"For getting me away from my stepfather. And his influence." Marko grew quiet.
"Where are you taking us?" Erik asked. His mind was trying to catch up. He was no longer dealing with a kidnappee - but rather an unknown opponent.
"We're going to take down my stepdad." Just as easy as that, and still completely focused on the road ahead.
Erik tried to digest that one for a moment. Take down his stepfather. Take down Kurt Marko...
"Not kill," the boy said like Erik was an idiot. "I know so many things that the news outlets will be interested in getting - if he doesn't stop us first."
And then Erik's mind caught up with everything. The frozen shadows of agents in the car park, how they had gotten as far as they had without intervention. "You're a telepath." And a damned strong one too.
"Yes, obviously," the boy sighed. "And I'm not a boy - I'm only a couple of years younger than you are, you know."
Erik lay quietly. His mind was trying to catch up. Maybe it was the lack of sleep of the past week, maybe it was still the tranqs in his system? Maybe it was-
"I'm not currently in your head," Marko said. Then he frowned, head half turned in Erik's direction. "And please don't refer to me verbally or mentally as 'Marko'. Kurt Marko is not my father, he married my mother to get to the Xavier family fortune and to gain political influence by marrying old money. I never wanted him as a father, never wanted his name."
"Xavier," Erik said quietly to himself, considering sitting up but his stomach gurgled and he decided against it. Erik had a vague recollection of the name. "It would explain how a bigot and mutant hater like Markos could have a son who is a mutant."
"Oh, Kurt would have done away with me a long time ago," Xavier said, voice low and full of contempt. "He would have killed me off if he could have, but he needed the heir to the Xavier fortune alive until he could get me to sign over every last dime to him."
"How did he not manage?" Erik asked curiously. "You were stoned out of your mind when I came across you."
A small laugh escaped Xavier. "Would you normally just let your guard down and take a stranger with you in your car? You never once thought it strange that suddenly you thought it was a good idea to make off with some kid?"
"I could have used you against Markos," Erik argued. Xavier couldn't have been that strong, could he?
"I am that strong," came the answer.
"You were on so many suppressants I am amazed you're still alive," Erik tried. If it was true-
"There is no such thing as suppressants strong enough to keep me from using my gift," Xavier said with a small smile.
Erik wasn't sure how to explain what that smile did to him. It wasn't fear. It wasn't what he'd experienced under Shaw, who had thrived on power and on the fear of the people following him. If he hadn't still been nauseated from the tranq, he might even have considered the curl of physical want that settled like a coiled snake in the pit of his stomach.
"Erik," Erik finally said. "I'm Erik Lehnsherr." He paused for a moment, searching for the right words. Xavier kept quiet, not interrupting him, just focusing on the road. "I want freedom and equality for mutants."
Xavier nodded after a moment. "Charles Xavier," he said quietly. "For too long have we been suppressed and feared for being different."
Erik breathed out slowly.
"Where are we going?" Erik finally asked, carefully sitting up.
"Canada. I have contacts there who can help me get what I want." Charles pursed his lips.
"And that would be?" Erik asked.
"To work against the US government and its crusade against all that is mutant, all that is different." He paused for a moment and the car grew quiet. Only the sound of the engine and the tires on the road. "And Kurt Marko's head on a silver platter," Charles finally said, voice low, and intense.
Erik felt his lips curve into a small grin. He leaned back against the backseat and laughed. He'd set out for a kitten and found a tiger, it seemed.