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The Exchange

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“You abandoned us all, Charles,” said Erik, and even through his terror, his spiking adrenaline and his relief as the plane levelled up, Logan couldn’t help but notice the pure betrayal on young Charles’ face.

He wondered when the Professor had got better at hiding his feelings. Because at this age he showed everything, all his broken pieces. He couldn’t seem to keep the raw hurt off his face for love nor money. How in hell were they meant to change the world like this?

Charles stumbled to his feet and escaped to the little toilet cubicle towards the front of the plane. Logan watched Erik watching him, and lit a cigar. “So, you were always an asshole.”

There was a bang and a yelp, and Logan leapt to his feet, the bones shooting from between his knuckles. “What the fuck are you doing now, Erik?” yelled Hank.

“It wasn’t me,” Erik said, his voice steady, eyes fixed on the door to the toilet. “Charles?”

The door opened. The guy who came out…

Logan tilted his head to one side. “Huh.”

“Charles?” Erik asked.

The man looked from one side of the plane to the other. “Ahhh, no? What the fuck happened here?”

Logan barely noticed his bone claws retracting with the confusion. Charles’ well-groomed doppelganger pursed his lips and pointed at Hank. “Where did Nick come from?” He did a bit of a turn. “Why is the fuckin’ plane different?”

“Charles?” said Erik, his jaw hanging open.

Not-Charles made a face and pushed the door shut behind him. “Ah, yes, very fuckin’ funny, Michael. You’re all hilarious.”

His voice was different. Scottish, maybe, Logan thought. He wrapped his mouth around his vowels like they were something edible, his face mobile and amused.

He spread his arms and gestured around. “Fuck, how long did this take to plan? It’s brilliant! I didn’t even think Nick was in the country, and like…” he trailed off, looking out the windscreen to the sea as the plane slowly gained altitude. “We were… we were only flying from Chicago to San Francisco so…”

He glanced at Logan, a frown line deepening between his eyes. “OK, how did you do it?”

“Do what?” Logan asked.

The man bit his lip, looked out the window, then back to him, shaking his head. “Nah. You wouldn’t have let them roofie me,” he said, pointing at Logan. Logan raised an eyebrow and dragged on his cigar. “Jen, I’d say yeah, she’d do anything for a laugh, but Hugh, you’re all responsible really.” He shrugged. “You pretend you’re not but…”

He walked around, poking at the seats, the windows,the walls of the plane. He glanced back at Logan and Erik, took a deep breath, then walked into the cockpit.

Logan blew out a stream of smoke and glanced at Erik. Erik was still standing in the same position, his mouth open.

Not-Charles came back, the mischief sparkling in his eyes all gone. “Right. Seriously, what the fuck?”

“You’re not Charles,” Erik said.

The guy rolled his eyes. “Aye, and you’re not Erik, now tell me what the fuck’s goin’ on?”

His accent was starting to thicken as he worried. Logan nodded to him. “Just, sit down, Bub, OK?”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Hugh, stop with the stupid Wolverine accent, this is… where the fuck are we?”

“Look, kid, I don’t think we are who you think we are, OK? I’m Logan, this is Erik, you’re…”

“No. No, that’s not fucking funny. Where the fuck are we?”

“On the way to Paris,” said Erik, his voice a croak.

“Are you serious?” Not-Charles asked, his voice pitching high in disgust. “Look, this isn’t fuckin’ funny any--”

Logan snarled and the bone claws shot out of one hand. “Enough! Sit!”

The guy sat, bouncing slightly on the seat as he stared at the claws. “How…”

“What, your Hugh can’t do this?” Logan sneered.

He hesitated. “Only with prosthetics…”

Logan sat down again, crossing one ankle over his knee and leaning back, the bones sliding back into the skin. The kid winced. “Jesus Christ, that’s… it makes a noise.”

“Yeah, it does that,” grunted Logan. “Erik, sit down, for fuck’s sake. What’s your name?” he asked the man.

“James,” he said, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, and suddenly he looked that little bit more like Charles. “Ah, I’m James McAvoy. I’m an actor.” He looked up at the two of them, narrowing his eyes. “Look, if this is a prank, I swear I’ll hide fucking prawns in your trailers, all of you.”

“Where’s Charles,” Erik said, his voice hard.

James huffed. “I am Charles. I mean… I play Charles, I act as him in the films.” He looked between them and tugged at his hair. “Fuck me, this is fuckin’ weird. Am I having some… psychotic break or something? Did you bastards drug me? Because that’s not a fucking prank, that’s…”

“We didn’t drug you,” Logan said. He rolled his eyes and took a long breath. Clearly it was down to him again, Erik still glaring at James like he was one step away from strangling him. Or fucking crying, or something. Fuck. Logan wasn’t cut out for this. “Look, Charles went into the bathroom, there was a bang, you came out. Just… tell us where you’re from, we’ll see about getting you back there, and getting Charlie back here.”

James shook his head and laughed mirthlessly. “Well… sit back boys, ‘cause this is gonna blow your fuckin’ minds.”