Shaw's plan, to remake the world how he sees fit, is progressing fantastically. He knows exactly how it will move forward, he has everyone he needs. The timing will be perfect. He smiles to himself, nods, and swallows half his scotch in one go.
Nothing can stop him.
All the pieces are moving into place. It's like a dance.
First the world, and then -
What in the name of God, is that noise?
Shaw dumps his scotch on the table, where it promptly spills out all over his fingers, marks the expensive wood.
She appears at the doorway, like she'd simply flowed into existence, pale and still, like the bride on a wedding cake.
"What the hell is that?" he demands.
She raises an eyebrow, querying. But he figures the steady noise repeats often enough for it to become obvious what exactly he's referring to.
Emma blinks, slowly, like a sleepy cat. "Azazel and Riptide are working out some of their frustrations."
If Shaw had still been holding his glass he would have thumped it down again. "I thought I told them not to fight on the sub." He specifically remembered telling them, and then being reassured by their willingness and ability to follow orders without question.
"They're not fighting," she says easily.
Shaw frowns. "Then what are they doing?"
"What do you think?" Emma's expression doesn't change.
He's supposed to guess? Like it's one of those weird submarine noises he should have some sort of familiarity with by now, or something? The sort of rhythmic - oh God - he knows exactly what it is. It takes him a second to stop picturing that, and worry about the obvious.
"Who's on the controls?"
Emma doesn't look phased in the slightest. "Angel has them."
"She's in there too?"
Emma shrugs, and it looks lazy and regal. "Someone had to watch sonar while they were busy. And I was making a drink."
Shaw...honestly doesn't know what to say to that.
He thinks it's an aberration. A moment of madness. Tension spiralling to a head in unexpected ways, easily ignored, not the sort of thing he's going to bother reprimanding anyone for.
But it turns out not to be an aberration.
Shaw is not happy about the state of the war room. The war room is for planning, and training, and preparation. It's a quasi-sterile environment.
It is not for...for this!
There are cushions all over the floor. There's crushed ice on the expensive glass table. There's a high heeled boot print on the wall - what the hell is it doing on the wall? How did it get on the wall?
What the hell have his people been doing in the war room?
Why wasn't he invited?
Shaw's not quite sure who to reprimand for the war room incident.
He spends the rest of the day making vague hints about people cleaning up after themselves, and not mistreating expensive property, vital to the cause of mutant revolution.
Shaw should know better, by now, he really should. He should have stopped the moment he saw the black jacket thrown haphazardly over the console. But it's the control room, and he expects some - I don't know - controlling of the nuclear submarine to be going on. There's another jacket tossed against the wall, a white shirt stretched out across the floor, and pants thrown over the back of one of the chairs.
He's seventy percent sure what he's going to see, but he still steps round the half-open line of metal.
Azazel is just a long stretch of crimson skin, that ends where a much paler leg is thrown round his waist. Janos has his fingers dug so firmly into the control panel, it's amazing they haven't accidentally launched a torpedo at some unknown island.
Shaw immediately turns around, and heads back the other way. It's not like a has a submarine to manoeuvre through the ocean or anything. It's not like he has plans to start a war and destroy mankind. It's not like he wouldn't, maybe, appreciate a little companionship of his own.
He finds Emma in the war room (tidied since, by hands unknown.)
She doesn't seem amenable to making him feel better.
"Is anyone actually getting any work done?" he snaps.
There's nothing from Emma but chilly silence. Shaw glares at her, until she pours a drink, then glares at her from his chair some more, until she stops giving off an air of blank smugness. He almost prefers it when she looks like she doesn't care at all.
He's retrieved a sense of dignified calm, by the time Angel drifts into the room, boots almost soundless on the floor. She hoists herself onto the back of a chair, next to where Emma's putting the glasses away. Then she leans forward until she can whisper - no, not just whisper, also to smell Emma's hair. "Can you do that thing, where there's three of you, again tonight -"
Fabulous, Shaw thinks. That's just fabulous. He clears his throat, because god forbid people should go about their business - and their business at the moment is apparently, and almost exclusively, fucking - like he wasn't even around.
Angel's smirk immediately smoothes away, turns into a nod that's more appropriate to a soldier in his war on mankind. They are in a war with mankind, in case anyone hadn't noticed.
Emma's bland expression cracks, in little flickers and twitches of mirth.
Shaw drains his glass, then gets up and leaves them both to - whatever it is they're going to do. He takes a slow, steady walk along the interior.
He reminds himself that he's in control, his subordinates and their ridiculous whims and affections, are unimportant. All that matters is the plan. As long as nothing interferes with the plans everything will be fine.
He should have a plan.
He should have a manifesto. Because much as Shaw loves that moment of horrified realisation when he outlines his plans, the moment when he can see someone realise the extent of them, the far-reaching brilliance. Sometimes you just want a way to summarise the most important points.
But he can't concentrate. The muttering from next door really isn't helping, sharp clipped little snatches of Russian. Which he makes the mistake of actually listening to, while he's thinking of his long-term goals.
For the first time he really, really wishes he didn't speak it. Because then he wouldn't be forced to listen to Azazel sharing exactly what he wants to do to Janos, in explicit, excruciating, obscene detail.
Shaw accidentally adds a few snatches of it into his manifesto, before scribbling them out in annoyance.
He doesn't mean to ask. He has so many other things on his mind, more important things. But he always thought of himself as an observant man, very observant.
This is a pretty big observation to miss.
"Do they - I mean, do they do that a lot? I hadn't noticed."
Emma stares at him. "You mean fuck?" She enjoys baiting him far more than she ever gives away. He knows that much.
"Yes, I mean fuck," Shaw grits out. Because he can play that game too.
"It's very claustrophobic here sometimes. It helps to -" she smiles. "Get out of your own head."
"What do they - I mean they're both - what do they see in each other?"
Emma helpfully provides the information, like he's given her a damn order. Full colour, full sound, there are even helpful subtitles. He had no idea Azazel's tail could even do that.
Sometimes he really hates her.
First point on the manifesto...
He's not asking any more damn questions.
The next day Shaw finds his manifesto untidily stacked on his desk, and looking an awful lot like it had been hastily scooped off of the floor.
The desk, that was previously securely bolted to the floor, now rocks ever so slightly.
He never does find page 7.
The question of recruitment comes up. When he can actually drag them all to a meeting for once. But Shaw's damned if he's in the mood to deal with it.
"We can't recruit anyone else," he says through his teeth. "Because clearly there are only so many rooms on this submarine to fuck in. We're supposed to be starting a war people. We're supposed to be changing the course of human history. We're supposed to be -"
There's no point at all. He doesn’t need to be a telepath to realise that they're not listening.
Azazel's tail is flicking back and forth, with a bored sort of inattention, stopping occasionally to dig its way through Riptide's hair. Emma has been smirking, ever so faintly, since he said 'fuck.'
Shaw exhales an angry breath through his nose. "Did we meet any mutants that I don't know about lately? Anything that looked like a goddamn succubus. Any suspicious people hanging around. Or maybe someone just sprayed the inside of the sub with hormones, or something. Or did I make the mistake of gathering a bunch of oversexed teenagers instead of professionals." He's shouting, he knows that he's shouting. He's lost his temper, and that's a personal failing.
Shaw's in this to be a powerful, intelligent force for change. He's in this to take the world for mutant-kind.
He's not in it to make disapproving parent speeches.
At midnight Shaw's mulling over the long-term goals of his newly tidied-up manifesto. Where he wants to be in five years, ten. How he'll structure his glorious mutant armies. What their uniforms will be like.
He's thinking stylish.
Big collars maybe.
No, definitely no berets.
He's been forced to mix his own drink, since Emma had disappeared an hour ago, and had refused to come when called. What's the point of having an amazing telepath if they disappear when you want them for something?
He'll have to have a word with her later, remind her that they have goals, and they can't be distracted from their goals. It's too important. It's too...
There's a fall of long, dark hair between his legs, plush, wet mouth, red and sweet and so talented. He's shaking, falling down, and up, and over. It's rush of low, achy, desperate pleasure in parts of him that his body doesn't even have. A quick, wet clench of thighs, that leaves him whimpering, and coming, and slithering out of his chair.
Ten seconds later Shaw comes back sprawled on the expensive carpet, breathing like he just fell down a flight of stairs.
As spontaneous orgasms go, that one was the most unexpectedly female.
~ Sorry ~
Emma's voice is thick and silky, hovering layers of amusement underneath it all.
~ Absolutely my fault, everyone. It won't happen again ~
Shaw stares at the ceiling and tries to decide if he's angry, or depressed.
Someone is growling in Spanish, and then there's a rush of dark, gritty laughter in response.
Shaw gets up, puts his helmet on, and pretends he can't hear anything.
"How's the surveillance on Erik going?" Shaw asks a week later, when he finds Emma flicking through a collection of glossy photographs
"He's still with the telepath," she says quietly.
"Plotting," Shaw says with a nod. Rolling scotch in his glass. There's nothing that makes you feel alive quite like an enemy plotting against you. A clever, ruthless, implacable enemy.
"Not so much," Emma says slowly, and turns the photograph she's holding onto its side. "Not unless, if by 'plotting,' you actually mean 'frottage.'"
"That's some pretty frenzied plotting," Angel agrees over her shoulder, chin resting on her arm. "And I totally called it."
Shaw is absolutely certain that this isn't funny any more.
Shaw decides almost a month in, that it's boredom, it has to be. It's claustrophobic in the sub, there's a lot of waiting involved, a lot of tension. It's understandable that they'd turn to more obvious outlets. He needs to connect more with his people. He needs to make them understand his long-term goals, to become part of it. They need to feel his drive, his commitment, to making the world a better place. To putting mutants in their rightful place. At the top of the food chain. Forever.
He stalks them until they're all in the control room together, and lays it all out.
"It's a plan for all of us, for our whole species. I want to pull us all together. So we can learn from each other."
Angel absently flicks a page of the magazine she's reading. "Today I learned how to say 'fuck me harder' in Russian. I like to think that might come in handy later."
There's a laugh across the room that sounds suspiciously like Riptide, and Shaw's briefly tempted to explode the lot of them and start over.
"As I was saying -"
What was he saying? What the hell was he saying?
~ Public relations ~ Emma reminds him gently.
Even Shaw's favourite smoking jacket can't console him.
The submarine smells like sex, no one is listening to him, and he's developed a twitch in his left eye.
"The finest, most advanced submarine in existence," he mutters angrily to himself. "A collection of powerful mutants for my cause, and I can't hold my own crew's attention for one damn speech."
He hones the particulars of his manifesto with sexual frustration.
He's going to blow up everything.