The light in the office had long since been turned off, concealing that there was still a figure leaning over a folder on the desk, his fingers quickly brushing over the Braille script drinking in the facts of his latest case. Even engrossed as he was in his reading, his sensitive hearing didn’t let Matt Murdock miss the sound of metal scraping on metal behind the window. Before he could approach the first unwelcome guest, he could feel the paper under his hands move slightly with the wind that the people who had just teleported into his office brought with them. Two heartbeats. The vanishing tinge of the dangerous fire they had played with and the ill reek of a deathly dimension, trying to hide under a cloud of Dior’s Jasmin des anges perfume.
“Well, if it isn’t Emma Frost and Ilyana Rasputin themselves,” Matt started, trying to think of how to get the advantage on his side: “I’d invite you in, but as you’ve already let yourselves in…”
“Permission to stab him?” the demon girl asked.
“Denied. We need him, remember?”
“I would be more inclined to believe that if you didn’t have one of your associates pointing a piece of metal at me,” Daredevil jumped in as he pushed his chair a little further back to get out of the trajectory of whatever Magneto intended to use as a missile.
Matt could practically hear Emma’s lips forming into a bemused smile.
“Given our fugitive status I think you can understand that we needed to make certain precautions if we wanted to stop you from bringing the whole self-righteous band of Steve Rogers’ cretins down on us before we could talk to you,” the telepath explained.
Matt stood up and helped himself to a glass of water from the sink, acutely aware both of the master of magnetism keeping guard behind the window and the girl with the huge sword that was oozing its mistresses’ hate in his direction. Surprisingly he couldn’t feel any mind probe or telepathic attack trying to crash through his skull. He took in a deep breath in order to take a better sniff off Emma’s emotions. A rather unusual mix of embarrassment, anticipation and hope? Not anything that he would have expected from the once White Queen.
“Then talk,” he said as he sat back in his chair, feet up on the table and his arms crossed across his chest in his best ‘I have not just called in the Avengers’ pose.
“Give him the files, Ilyana,” the telepath nudged her associate.
A thick folder hit the surface of his desk with unnecessary force.
“What’s this?” Matt inquired.
“All the information you need in order to get Scott Summers acquitted of the murder of Charles Xavier and any other crimes that dimwit Tony Stark tries to put on him,” Emma spat out, the venom in her voice increasing when she uttered Iron Man’s name.
“And you expect me to do that because…?” Matt raised his eyebrows.
Emma didn’t get to give her answer as the glass of the office window shattered and Matt barely managed to push the two women out of the way of the shrapnel falling in, jumping in on pure adrenaline. Magik untangled herself from his grasp quickly as she muttered about how his heroics were not necessary as she was just about to teleport the two of them to a safer spot in the office.
Any further arguments were however broken off by the steady voice of Erik Lehnsherr cutting in: “We expect you to do it, Mr.Murdock, because despite your current faulty allegiances, deep down you’re the kind of lawyer who would never let an innocent man rot or die in prison.”
“Emma, you better do your thing, we’ve got incoming,” Magneto turned his attention to his fellow mutants.
“Where are they, Matt?” Tony Stark demanded.
“Who?” the lawyer asked, rattled as anyone who had just been reading through some case files would be when half of the Avengers' roster stormed their office.
Another man whose identity was easily disclosed to Matt by the distinct smell of cigarettes and beer walked in and sniffed the air.
“They’ve been here,” he growled.
“Which ones?” Steve questioned.
“Frost, Magik and Magneto.”
Matt shook his head as he muttered: “I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I was just catching up on some case files when you idiots burst in. I’m having my assistant send the bill for that window to you, Stark, by the way.”
“Well, that’s all jolly good fun, but your window happened to already be broken when I flew in thinking that you had just been attacked by some rather psychotic mutants,” Iron Man returned the blow.
“I suspect you’re having a hell of a migraine right now,” Wolverine suggested.
Matt frowned as the cogs and wheels in his brain started turning.
“You mean?” he half-asked.
“And now he catches on,” Tony said and started clapping before he was shut off by Steve Roger’s irritated exclamation of ‘Tony’.
Matt stood up from his chair quickly, staggering a bit under the pressure behind his eyes. Natasha jumped in and steadied him. He murmured a silent thanks as he turned to Steve.
“Call in Foggy and ask him to make sure that nothing has been stolen from here,” Matt tried instructing Captain America.
“Already done,” Tony broke him off. “Now let me haul your ass to Avenger’s Tower so that Bruce can make sure that Frost didn’t do you any permanent damage.”
Clint who had been scanning the content of the desk picked up the thick red file and asked curiously: “What’s this?”
“No idea,” Natasha replied. “But it looks like a case file to me. Why?”
“I don’t know,” Hawkeye replied, his right hand playing with the settings of his purple hearing aid. “But it feels out of place.”
Natasha looked around the office and had to agree with her friend, while the folders in Foggy’s part of the office were obviously color coded, the ones in Matt’s corner were mostly in shades of black, using different materials so he could distinguish them from each other by touch alone.She let go off Matt and motioned to Clint to pass the folder over. She briefly turned a few pages over with Tony who had opened his Iron Man helmet to get a better look peering over her shoulder.
“It’s in Braille,” he said. “I doubt Summers’ band of renegades dropped in just to deliver a case file. As for the color, coincidences do happen. Not everything is a super spy conspiracy. Let’s get Daredevil here into safety, the best clue we will find now has to be in his brain anyway.”
“I want to try to pick up their scents and follow them,” Wolverine suggested.
The other Avengers exchanged a series of tired looks, acutely aware how much the man wanted to catch the people who were putting a black mark on the entirety of his race.
“Face it, Logan. With the Magikbus they could be half across the world by now,” Tony stepped in, figuring that the defeated news better come from a source that the hairy fellow already disliked as it was.
The short man grunted, but didn’t pursuit his request any longer.
Scott was sitting on the floor of his cell, still reeling from his earlier conversation with Logan. His pondering about the next steps got interrupted by some ruckus happening in front of his cell. Two of the guards argued with a third one, whose voice he didn’t recognize.
“The prisoner isn’t allowed to leave his cell,” one of his usual wardens told the newcomer.
“I’ve got permission from the highest places,” the mysterious man said and Scott could hear the rustling of a paper as the man provided some kind of proof.
He finally lifted his eyes from the ground to get a look at the fresh arrival. Two hundred pounds of pure muscle, an opponent that the older Summers brother might take on one of his better days, but certainly not with his hands shackled and his optic blasts neutralized.
“If you want to hear my opinion you should just put the damn mutie freak in front of a firing squad and be done with it,” one of the prisoners shouted from a cell at the end of the floor.
The muscled man grabbed him by the elbow, he didn’t give him the pleasure of flinching. He had been used to getting pushed around long before the inmates and guards of this particular prison decided to take out their hatred of mutant-kind on him.
He almost laughed at the irony of it all. Just as he had been starting to think that he might still be of some use to the mutant cause beyond martyring himself, they had come for him. At least they decided not to rely on some thugs to get the job done and sent in a professional. Maybe a clean death was the best he could hope for these days.
The man dragged him to one of the interrogation rooms and made a show of throwing Scott against the wall before closing the door behind them.
The mutant gathered himself and stood up.
“I guess this is where you kill me?” his calm voice was bouncing off the walls of the empty room.
The warden looked at his nails in a manner that seemed mildly familiar to him.
“Not really, darling,” the words sounded almost comical coming in the man’s rough drawl.
“Emma?” he asked, astonished. They had lost their telepathic connection in the ashes of the Phoenix fire, albeit he still wasn’t sure if it was brought about by his betrayal or ripped away from them by the cosmic force itself.
“Yes. I hope you excuse the poor choice of attire.”
“You shouldn’t be here. Do you have any idea how dangerous it is for you to have come here?”
“Relax, I’m in a safe distance with a teleporter by my side.”
“Ilyana is with you?”
“What about Piotr?”
“He and Namor are both in the wind.”
He pursed his lips at the mention of the Prince of Atlantis.
“Listen, we really don’t have much time. I wish I could be more subtle about approaching you, but that power dampener is probably equipped with some kind of telepathy repellent and I don’t want to raise any alarm bells,” the former White Queen explained gesturing towards the metal bind that the guard had secured around his neck when he brought him his meal after Wolverine had walked out. He had wondered what the point of replacing the orange head gear they had originally equipped him with this slightly more comfortable inhibitor was. Only now did he realize that its aim might have been to stop him from receiving any kind of psychic contact. He turned his hazel eyes on the woman he now supposed was his ex-girlfriend.
“Emma, when I took the Phoenix force away from you,” he interrupted her and after searching for the right words continued: “What I want to say is I understand if you want to punch me right now.”
“No, darling,” she said as she put one of the guards’ thick fingers against his lips. “Whatever you took away from me, you’ve had worse taken away from you before. And I know you, Scott Summers and having felt how that kind of betrayal feels you will never stop kicking yourself for inflicting it on me even though you did it for the right reasons. I think that’s punishment enough.”
He gave her one of his sheepish smiles.
She slapped his cheek.
“Now, this one you fully deserved. Suicide by Logan, really? Next time you decide to off yourself could you at least have the decency to choose a more elegant method? Preferably one that doesn’t unleash an even crazier Wolverine on the world.”
“Let’s talk shop now,” the blonde suggested.
“Right. Is this where Magneto and Magik break us out of here?” he asked, making sure to start using code names to show that he had fully switched back into mission gears.
“You realize that the moment I walk back in there, I’m dead meat, right?” Scott questioned.
Emma pursed the guards’ thick lips: “You weren’t against that course of action yourself a few hours ago.”
As he opened his mouth to reply, she raised a hand to cut him off.
“I’m sorry. It’s just…I’m so angry with you about that, Scott and I let myself get carried away…”
“Huh. You’re not angry with me about the Phoenix, but you’re mad about that?”
“Yes! I can’t bring myself to blame you for actions you took under the influence of a cosmic force that I couldn’t control myself, but I’m allowed to be furious with you about wanting to throw your life away.”
“It doesn’t matter. We need to get back on point,” she said, visibly upset with herself about letting so many emotions seep through into the conversation.
“Okay. What’s the plan?” Scott asked, trying to get her back on a topic that would make her feel in control of the situation.
“We don’t get you out. Well, we do. But we go through the proper channels.”
“You mean a trial?” Cyclops inquired his voice unusually quiet.
“Emma, I’m hardly innocent in all of this.”
“Scott, you don’t really believe that you have murdered Charles?”
His eyes glazed over at the mention of his former mentor.
“No, “ he sighed. “But I can’t deny that the actions I took brought us to a moment where one of us had to die.”
“No more than he or anyone who knew the whole story could refute that Charles played a major role in the path that led you to take those very decisions,” she argued fiercely.
"The whole story? You mean...," he trailed off, his expression unreadable despite his newly visible eyes.
"I mean everything."
"I'm not sure I'm comfortable with that."
"I know," she said softly. "But it's your get out of jail card. And we need you out there. I’ve survived one genocide too many, Scott. I’d prefer not having to claw my way out from the rubble of another one.”
He breathed out harshly.
"Alright," he said not meeting her blue eyes. "But how?"
"I might have nudged a former enemy and your brother lightly," Emma answered with a ghost of a wicked smile on the guards' lips.
Before Scott could get in any further questions, she stopped him frowning: "Oops. We're out of time."
“Why are we here?” the guard blinked, shooting Scott a perplexed look.
The mutant leader shrugged his shoulders.
“You tell me,” he answered, inwardly preparing himself for the fight that might arise.
The other man furrowed his brow as he said: “I came to move you. Your lawyer has managed to arrange a place in solitary confinement for you, away from genpop.”
“A certain Matthew Murdock.”