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Erik's face scrunched. [b "I think you need to reevaluate your definition of 'adorable',"] he didn't try to hide the judgment in his tone. [b "Don't encourage the boy."]
Their target was as unassuming as could be, in terms of standing out as a mutant. Nothing about him was a threat. Erik took note of the boy's unfortunate posture, unkempt hair, and overall lack of muscle. [b "God help us,"] he muttered to himself.
He was going to let Charlotte take the reigns again, since she'd already been successful with getting their last subject on board. However, the boy was either a complete space cadet who didn't notice their presence, or he was entirely indifferent. [b "Cool trick,"] Erik broke the silence. [b "How about another demonstration?"]
The young man barely glanced at them from the corners of his eyes. [i "Not sure I know what you're talking about. The filtration system bubbled and spooked them."]
Erik looked to Charlotte over the boy's head. He crooked an eyebrow. [i This one? Seriously?] What he wouldn't give to enlist someone not still wet behind the ears for the mission. He was going to lose his mind with teenagers running around, testing his patience.
[b "Never seen a bubble move like that before. How about you, Charlotte?"]
[b "You know what's good about kid-height, Erik? I have great advantage in being able to accurately aim and attack sensitive areas on average-height males."] Charlotte sassed right back, and she looked as if she were resisting the urge to stick her tongue out at him... because she [i was]. She was now a professor though, so she kept some decorum, and knew better than to be too immature while 'working'. She'd plan her revenge for later.
When they reached the aquarium she shrugged out of the jacket of her suit, folding it over her arms and then rolling her eyes at Erik's incredulous look. [b "Goodness, I joke about cleavage once and now you're looking at me like I'm planning to seduce my way all the way up to the U.S. President,"] she teased, a grin on her face. [b "It's warm in here, Erik, and it was warm enough outside. And as far as I can tell he's [i not] in a tank, since you're so worried about that. He..."] She trailed off, paused, and then grinned before shaking her head. [b "Oh, the poor dear: he comes here to try and use fish puns as pick-up lines on girls. That's so precious."]
Giggling, she lead the way through the maze of the aquarium building as easily as if she were a veteran employee. It wasn't long until they came upon the sight of a curly-haired, young ginger boy turning his attention to a fish window as a girl walked away, did something with his mouth, and the fish disappear like something had come to blow away. She arched an eyebrow, fascinated, and then lead the way over once the female child had disappeared out of that hall of the aquarium completely. She came up on one side of the teenager, a soft smile on her face as she glanced over at him.
The woman was far too bold. [b "I am not going to let a teenage boy oggle your...your..."] [i You are a grown man, Erik, be sophisticated. [b "Your assets."]
Wiping the water from his chin, he scowled at her on the floor. [b "No cleavage will be admired by anyone. If you're going in to speak with him, you'll be wearing a turtleneck and a parka over it."]
He hauled her back onto her seat, still scowling. Whatever was flickering in his chest was new and he didn't like it at all. He'd tampered it back down by the time they arrived at the zoo, but caught her playfully batting her eyelashes to convince Fred to wait for it. [b "I'm going to include a ski mask in your wardrobe if you keep that up,"] he glanced down at her.
It was amusing to watch her try to navigate the maze of habitats. More than once, he fought back a snort at the sight of her on her tiptoes. [b "What's wrong? They don't put the signs at kid-height?"] he tauntingly patted the top of her head.
The signs posted led them to the back of the zoo, where larger building structures were set up. Inside was mercifully warmer, but everything was coated in blue lights to give the halls a submerged atmosphere. [b "If he's swimming in a tank with sharks, I'm not going in after him,"] he warned her. [b "I've had my share of swimming lately."]
[b "The fire-incidents happened after noted confrontations mere minutes before. I think it's more of an anger-activated power. Poor thing is probably scared of the damage he's capable of,"] Charlotte said. But then just as joking back to Erik she replied, [b "And if it is anger-issues, it probably should be me instead of you. One, you're quick to anger. And two... he's a teenage boy and I have breasts."] She winked saucily, and then tossed her head back with laughter as Erik choked on the waterbottle he had moved to sip from. She doubled over on herself, falling to the floor of the car and was still giggling even as Erik easily manhandled her back into her seat.
It wasn't much longer before they made it to the front entrance of the zoo, and poor Fred agreed to wait for them in the car after a few batted eyelashes from Charlotte. And, grinning, she proceeded to lead the way.
[b "...He should be in the aquarium this time of day, if security camera snapshots are anything to go by."] She said, walking over to the map as her eyes scanned over it... but there was a piece of paper that said 'Map half-finished, find another map source. Thank you!' She huffed, looking up at Erik, [b "Any chance you can see those handy-dandy "road signs" that might lead us towards the aquarium in this madhouse?"]
Erik looked over the files one by one as they were handed to him, feeling underwhelmed by what they read. [b "So...one of them is a temperamental pyromaniac? If he's put himself in solitary confinement, we can at least say he's got a good sense of personal awareness. Though I don't know if a ticking time bomb is something we're going to be able to use."]
The others showed promise. A boy with supersonic capabilities, and a man with powers to adapt to his environment. Both would come in handy, in the event of a battle in uncharted territories. It was already hard enough to trace Shaw, let alone pinpoint the conditions they would be fighting him in.
[b "Your order sounds fine. The Summers boy might need a little more convincing than the others, so we should allot a bit of extra time for him. If he's willingly in isolation, he might not play well with strangers right away,"] he glanced at the teen's mugshot stapled to the top of his wrap sheet.
Considering how many people they'd interacted with over the last few days, Erik was eternally grateful that he didn't have her unfortunate power of being bombarded with everyone's thoughts. It must have been mentally exhaustion but to her credit, Charlotte didn't seem fazed by the sheer volume of socializing they'd had to get through. [b "It might be best if I take the reins with Summers,"] he looked to her. [b "I know what it's like to be a testosterone fueled teenager with an attitude problem. Might be more willing to speak with me than a posh member of Britain's royal family,"] he jokingly chided.
[b "Sorry, Fred!"] Charlotte apologized, rolling her eyes at Erik and giving him a gentle pinch. The divider was up now, though, so it was just her and Erik once more.
[b "There's three in New York, and I think they're all good candidates,"] she said. Pulling her luggage into her lap, she rummaged a moment before pulling out a pad of paper with the info she had written out on it. [b "Let's see... the first is named Sean Cassidy. He's sixteen, and has been managing to secretly live in the zoo and avoid foster-care since he was twelve. That takes some inventiveness."] She flipped to the next page. [b "The next is Armando Muniz. Been driving a cab since he was fifteen-years old."] She flipped the page once more. [b "And the last one is Alexander Summers. We'll actually have to head to Riker's Island for him. He set a school on fire three times when he was fourteen. He requested that the judge send him to an adult facility, and he's been there for two years."] She shut the notepad, huffing a soft sigh.
[b "We'll go for Sean first, then head off for Alex, and then we'll look for Armando. Sound good?"] She looked up at him, offering a small smile as she waited for his response. [b "If you have any other order you'd prefer to attempt recruiting them in, I'm all ears. I just think it's the best because if we snag up the two younger ones, we can just get this Armando to taxi us all the way back. 8 hours drive, sure, but it avoids the horror of the airport."]
Erik didn't bother biting back the smirk at seeing how unsettled the man was at her trick. [b "Would you like to see a magic trick from me, as well?"] he asked with faux innocence.
With a wave of his hand, the quarters in the cup holders rose to eye-level with Fred, turning into the form of a gun. [b "Bang,"] Erik raised his voice to a near yell.
Fred let out a scream, swerving the car into oncoming traffic before straightening the wheel back out, sweat forming on his brow. Erik barked a laugh, letting the coins fall back into their place. [b "Fun little party trick, wouldn't you say, Fred?"]
The poor driver looked like he was about ready to either wet his pants or pass out at the wheel. Erik looked to Charlotte. [b "I don't think he enjoyed my trick,"] he pretended to be sad. [b "Perhaps another, Fred?"]
[i "No sir! No more tricks,"] the man squeaked out. [i "I think I've seen plenty for one night. I'm just going to focus on what I'm doing."]
A button clicked and the black screen went up to separate the front of the car from the backseat. [b "There goes our fun,"] Erik sighed, turning his gaze to look out the window at the too-crowded streets. [b "Where is this next one we're meeting? Not another club, is it?"] he asked, seeing how many nightclubs lined the main road.
Charlotte was silent a few long moments, eyebrow arched at Erik as if teasingly saying she wouldn't, but then she glanced at the driver when the human wasn't paying attention, and made a show of bringing a finger up to her temple to let Erik be able to tell she was using her powers.
[center [i [b /+// ...Actually, he's wondering if either of us are similar to Captain America. He's rationalized that some sort of mutant gene must have been used to create a super-soldier. Which... honestly... makes sense. Huh. Rather astute correlation. I never thought of it before. //+/]]]
She lounged back in her seat, expression thoughtful as she absentminded leaned against Erik. Such thoughts had honestly never occurred to her before, but it really [i did] make sense for Captain America to have been created from some sort of non-human gene being used in the rumored serum that had created him. In fact, she wondered if it might be possible for one of the Howling Commandos of WWII was the possible mutant in question.
She glanced at the driver through the rearview mirror as he looked back again, and offered a smile before saying, [b "No, we're not. We're very different types of 'super', if you will."] She said innocently, seeing the man's eyes widen and cheeks go pink. And if she felt Erik silently chuckling, she encourage it for once by gently patting his knee. She deciding it wasn't so bad to indulge him when it wasn't his desire to kill first and ask questions later.
After all, flustering people in general was something she enjoyed anyway. If it kept Erik entertained as well, she didn't mind one bit.
Erik huffed a laugh. [b "Don't think I didn't look at your personnel file before we left on this little mission. 'House' is a term I'd use lightly, for your homestead. 'Mansion' would be more accurate. And here I thought you couldn't get any more posh."]
It was playful banter, though his tone was just as monotonous as ever. The car that was waiting for them was another black Cadillac, with an agent behind the wheel to act as chauffeur. [b "At least we don't have to drive ourselves around this place,"] he muttered as he dropped their bags in the trunk.
Their driver, a portly man with a moustache who introduced himself as Fred, was mercifully quiet for most of the stop and go drive. Though, Erik noted that his eyes kept darting to their reflection in the mirror. For the first time, he wished he had Charlotte's ability to read minds.
Bored out of his mind while stuck in traffic, he leaned towards her. [b "Our friend keeps looking back here like he's waiting for a magic trick. Or at the very least, like he wants to ask us questions. Why don't you take a peak in his head and beat him to the punch? Give him a little spook."]
He knew it was likely going to freak Fred out, but they'd been travelling for almost two days straight, and they could use a bit of a laugh. He would pull out his own party tricks to show the agent, but he figured causing a car wreck wouldn't be quite as enjoyable.
When he had first asked that question in a mixture of a grouch and a whine, she didn't answer until several seconds had passed and they had both slipped their lugage over their shoulders. [b "...I only tickled you a little bit."] She grinned up at him, giving him a good-natured grin.
Charlotte didn't so much as bat an eyelash as her smaller hand was held by his larger one, she just allowing him to slowly lead the way out of the crowds and out of the airport. She made sure to hum along in agreement with his words of travelers being revolting along the way, not seeing the good in agruing and he [i was] preventing her from being lost. Besides, she didn't enjoy airports either.
[b "Yes, there's a car waiting. I hate driving in New York the few times it's happened, and try to avoid it whenever I can,"] she said, huffing as she glanced at some paper... but then let out a squeak because Erik had stopped while holding her hand, jerking her to a stop as well. She glanced up, seeing his confused expression, and explained, [b "My father was American, my mother was British, so I have a dual citizenship I've maintained. Though I grew up primarily in Britain because of school, I live in the United States. The entire reason Raven has an American accent is because she stubbornly made sure it stayed that way. I have the house I grew up in off in Manchester, New York. It's not that far from New York City."] She shrugged her shoulders a little. [b "If you're that curious I could show you the houe sometime. Not now, for obvious reasons, but at some point." There's a giant satelite dish a few miles away from it. Maybe you could have some fun with that...?"] She trailed off, giving him a smile. [b "Can we go to the car now? It won't wait forever, and as I recall I owe you a lunchdate for winning our bet."]
The surly man wasn't entirely sure when he'd passed out, but the poking at his ribs was enough to jostle him awake. [b "Who's it-"] he blurted, smacking his knees off the seat in front of him as he jumped up, only to be pulled back into his seat by the belt across his lap.
Groggy and disoriented, Erik frowned at everyone around him. [b "We're here?"] he asked, unbuckling the seatbelt and wiping the small bit of drool from the corner of his mouth. [b "Did you actually tickle me?"]
Unsurprisingly, he was not a morning person. Or an afternoon person. Generally, any time he was woken against his will was sure to guarantee a moody man. He gathered their overhead bags and guided the way off the plane, keeping one hand in hers because she was so goddamn small that he'd likely lose her in the crowds.
[b "People are animals,"] his nose wrinkled in disgust as he caught sight of a well-travelled man cleaning his underarms with water from the fountain meant to drink from. [b "Airports may be the single worst destination in the world. Is there a car waiting for us?"]
He was sticking with consulting her for all logistics regarding the mission. She had more of a hand in the scheduling with the government officials, while he'd been off being difficult.
[#cc0092 "Sir? Miss?"]
Charlotte startled at the sound of the foreign voice, blinking to clear her blurred vision, and soon she was looking up at a flight stewardist. ...Slowly, the brunette realized her head was resting agaisnt something, and she glanced up to see she was practically in Erik's lap, his arms curled around her like a possesive child held onto a favored toy during naptime.
[#cc0092 "We've landed, miss. You and your husband can depart now!"] The stewadist gave a cheery smile, and Charlotte let out a groan. She tried to wiggled out of the others hold, so she could grab her carry-on, but.... she couldn't budge. Because the German-male was still sleeping like a rock and not letting go of her.
[b "...Erik? Darling?"] She asked, still half asleep with a yawn. The fact the endearment had slipped hadn't even changed her mind. [b "Erik, you need to wake up... we have to get off the plane, it's landed...."] She yawned again, and then not knowing what else to do, she had the most sophisticated and mature solution pop into her mind; she moved her hands to tickle at his ribs. Abruptly, mercilessly, and without a single care for how ticklish he may or may not end up being. She needed to pee, damn it.
[b "Don't get used to it,"] he play-acted stern. [b "Once this plane touches down, it'll be back to Violent Erik, throwing things at people whenever they annoy me."]
Later on, he would be ashamed to admit that he jumped upon hearing her voice in his head. His knees smashed against the food tray, almost spilling his drink. It'd been so long since she'd spoken to him in such a way that it was jolting to come out of nowhere.
[b "Leg spasm,"] he gruffly explained to the elderly woman across from him, watching with concern over her coke-bottle thick glasses.
At the teasing about the suit, Erik groaned and fought to keep from rolling his eyes. [b "First no violence, and now I have to put that monkey suit back on?"] he glared at her. [b "Now you're asking too much of me. What if when we're out, we're attacked? I can't exactly fight when I have a stupid tie flailing about, and a jacket impeding my movements. If I can't use my powers, I should be able to wear sensible fighting clothes."]
The conversation dwindled the longer the flight went on. Erik wasn't even remotely bothered when her head slipped to his shoulder as exhaustion claimed her. Hell, he even adjusted her neck so that she'd be at a more comfortable angle. Unfortunately, he didn't take into account the effect her warm breath on his neck would have on him.
His eyes fell to his lap, widening in surprise before slapping a magazine to cover the [i problem] she was causing. [b "Goddamnit,"] he huffed, forcing his eyes shut as he tried to think of anything other than the bloody woman poking through his brick wall.
[b "Look at you, not using violence. I'm so proud of you. I wish I had film to record this moment on,"] Charlotte sniffled dramatically, playful, but then her expression became soft and genuine.
[b [i /+// That was brilliant, you know. It really was. Bravo, Erik, bravo. //+/]]
She gently used her telepathic speaking for the first time in over a week on him – there really had been so much tension the past few days. Even if it had been jarring for Erik to feel at the beginning, it might possibly be some sort of relief for him to feel once more.
The brunette grabbed for a piece of bread from her meal tray, idly chewing on it, and then took a sip of her drink. [b "I suppose I'll be taking you on a dinner date once we get to New York, then. You willing to put that suit back on? I swear I won't look like a prostitute this time."] She giggled a bit, sticking her tongue out at him just slightly before pushing his plate closer to him.
It wasn't long after they ate and bickered a little more that Charlotte seemed to realize just how exhausted she was after a previou night of no sleep following a mini panick attack. So, against her will, she found herself slowly nodding off and, by the time there was maybe an hour left in their flight, her head tilted to rest on Erik's shoulder as she breathed in her gentle dreaming.
Erik's posture grew completely straight at the challenge. It was pathetic to get competitive at thirty thousand feet in the air, but they were crammed in this sardine tin so they may as well have fun with it. [b "You're willing to buy me dinner, if I win?"] he glanced wickedly at her.
Cut off by their delivery of food and wine, he forced a smile on his face. [b "This doesn't count,"] he muttered, gesturing to the meal.
Taking a deep breath and focusing his attention, Erik's eyes drifted closed. The resonating ring of the cutlery was easy enough to single out. However, eliminating sound was not something he was accustomed to. He was usually the one causing it. His fingertips twitched on his lap. Slowly, he heard the clanging silverware fade until it was a dull thud.
[i "Hey,"] the kid frowned, noticing the lack of noise.
He tried banging the forks together, only for the same dullness to play. Almost like a finger tapping lightly on a table. [i "Mom, are you seeing this?"] he elbowed the woman next to him.
[i "For the love of christ, Jacob,"] she snapped, moving the complimentary eye mask she'd been wearing. [i "I don't care about the goddamn forks, alright? Be quiet! For ten minutes, please just be quiet!"]
A smirk tugged at Erik's lips, satisfied as he watched the boy throw himself back into his chair in a huff, the forks dropping to the tray. [b "Not as satisfying as using them to tie his hands together, but I'll take it."]
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