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[b "I doubt you would need superhuman reflexes if you went five miles over,"] he leaned over to look at the speedometer. [b "The thirty that you're doing now,"] he drawled.
By the time they reached the airport, Erik had moved on to teasing her for her over-attentiveness at the wheel. [b "I don't think even the strongest mutant on the planet could pry that steering wheel out of your hands. I think you left indents in it,"] he taunted, tucking his fake passport back into his pocket as he took his seat next to her.
When the flight attendant came around with their complimentary champagne, he clanged his glass against hers. [b "Are you sure you're ready to commit yourself to multiple days of traveling with just me? You're not exactly good at hiding the whole 'don't throw him out of the car' vibe you had going on back there."]
Thirty-thousand feet in the air means no escape. Erik's patience had already been on edge for the past few days, and being stuck in a tin can with strangers meant he was even more annoyed than usual. [b "Since when have manners been forgotten? That man has been shucking his peanut shells onto the floor for the past ten minutes,"] he grunted in disgust. [b "Tell me, are you an animal, or do you know how to pick up after yourself?"] he leaned forward in his seat to speak to the man one row up and across from them.
[b "Well considering you want to start from outward and work in, we're going to Chicago first. So... our first stop, technically, will be the airport."] The airport itself was only an hour away, sure, but it was still a drive.
She wanted to toss him out of the car within five minutes.
Because Erik was being a little shit.
[i Don't make him throw himself out of the car, don't make him throw himself out of the car, don't make him throw himself out of the car....] A mantra steadily thrumming in her brain, Charlotte would release a slow breath as she changed lanes in order to take the right right road, rather than the left wrong one. [b "I am going to ban you to riding on the roof~!"] She softly sing-songed, glancing over at him with a rolled of her eyes.
The brunette had said that, sure, but she was fighting off a small smile. It was nice to see him being a teaser without her needing to induce it first. She hadn't known him very long, sure, but it as already so refreshing to see Erik letting a little loose.
At his last commented she snorted, shaking her head. [b "And I'm going to drive whatever speed I please. I'm telepathic, but do not hold superior reflexes. I'm going to drive at a speed I can manage."] She added, rolling her eyes with a grin.
Soon they would reach an airport, get into First Class with their badges, and they were on their way to Chicago in no time at all.
Erik rolled his eyes as the younger sister left the room in search of the young scientist. [b "I'm afraid I don't have much experience with teenagers anyways, so excuse me if I don't log this lesson away for future use,"] he drawled wryly.
He accepted the badges and slung his bag over his shoulder. [b "I'm not quite accustomed to driving in this country yet. You should drive."]
It was a bitter truth for him. Pride was his main virtue, and it was not easy to just hand over control to her for the mission, let alone admit that she was capable of something that he wasn't. [b "Shall we?"]
Once again, he walked away before she could answer. The car was waiting for them, and Erik glanced -or glared- towards the driver's seat. Stupid country, driving on the wrong side of the road, he thought to himself. He put the bags in the trunk and slumped into the front passenger seat.
[b "What's the first stop?"] he grumbled, unfolding the map from the glovebox.
If he was going to be the passenger, then he was going to be useful. He would not sit there for the entire journey without occupying himself somehow. [b "If we stay along the rural routes, we will make better time. Freeways can get backed up with traffic, and we are working with a rather strict time frame."]
He withdrew a pen from his jacket pocket and began marking their route. [b "No no, don't take that road. We'll be better off taking a right instead of a left,"] Erik guided her.
He knew he would be a great pain in her ass, but he was the only way to keep himself entertained. [b "You can also speed up. We're not quite going to be pulled over in a government issued cat,"] he glanced over at her with a smirk.
[b "Aww,"] Charlotte all but cooed, giving the man a warm yet playful smile as she stood up from her chair. Stretching out her back, she just as playfully continued, [b "You want to do things my way? I know we haven't known each other very long, but I bet I'll never hear that out of your mouth again."] Her smile grew utterly cheeky, but even with teasing in her tone, her voice was nothing but that kind and verbal softness it seemed to naturally be.
She rolled her eyes when he handed her the files and went off to go pack first—assuming he'd probably tease her for not packing fast enough once she finally got to their shared lodging. Nonetheless, she went and gave the information to Flemyng, quickly secured two badges that would allow them onto flights without need of tickets or identification, and left off to head back to her rooms. She felt her ever-sense of Raven reach the location first, and she may have dramatically timed her arrival.
Charlotte opened the door, stepping inside, and casually said, [b "You can't come."] Moving over to Erik, she handed him one of the badges before heading to the bathroom to grab her utilities. Her clothes had still been mostly packed. All she needed to do was toss in a pair of shirt and pants.
[#c43112 "But, Charlotte, I can help-"] Raven began, but quieted as her elder sister put her hand on her shoulder.
[b "We won't need your abilities, Raven, it's just business. I can take care of myself."] Charlotte soothed, brushing a kiss to the currently blonde-haired teenager's forehead. [b "Now, why don't you go find Hank, hm? I think he's looking to have lunch with you."] Charlotte chuckled as Raven blushed, but the woman ended up turning to Erik with a triumphant grin as the teenager left the adults be. [b "And that, my friend, is how you distract a teenage girl."] Laughing softly to herself, Charlotte zipped up her bag and tossed it over her shoulder. [b "I have the keys to a car. I got us these badges to allow plane travel, rather than yet. I figured you wouldn't want us being flown around by a government employee."]
Erik's temper soured and he appeared much like a pouting child. His argument was flattened by her words and he just looked like a dick. [b "Alright, well. Children are out of the equation. I guess you're right to dismiss those ones,"] he grumbled.
He never did like being proven wrong. He'd gotten into many fights as a young man, simply for being a sore loser. He would have to remind himself to calm his temper before it got the best of him. [b "My apologies. I should have listened,"] he added begrudgingly.
[i Anxious], she called him. It was quite an understatement. Erik Lehnsherr was comprised of nothing but high-strung nerves and a severe lacking of patience. [b "I'm not anxious,"] he told her. [b "I am...motivated."]
It was a barely feasible excuse for his poor behaviour. [b "We will do things your way. We'll start from the outside and work our way in, from the selection you've made,"] he reached for the files to glance over them.
Not terrible picks, either. A girl who can fly, and a boy who can shoot lasers with his body, just to name a few. Perhaps they'd be handy after all.
[b "We can stay in hotels as we work our way back. No sense coming back all this way just to leave again four times. We can interview them along the way. Make sure they're decent prospects off the page as well,"] he looked to Charlotte for any disagreement.
[b "We'd best pack a bag,"] he handed the files back to her and dismissed himself from the room.
The sooner they left, the better. Erik wasn't one to sit idle for very long. He'd feel better if they were at least being productive with the time they were spending on base. [b "You can't come,"] he informed the younger Xavier sister as she bolted into the room while he packed.
[i "Technically Charlotte is the one who gets to tell me what I can't do,"] Raven was quick to sass back.
[i And... there it is.] This thought timed with his little blow up, Charlotte would set down her pen and notebook, fold her hands, and waited until Erik had finished his rant before attempting to answer any of his apparent questions.
[b "Well, Erik, the reason I said no to this one,"] She picked up the notebook, pointing out the last canidate she had vetoed, [b "Is because it is someone with a latent, non-activated mutation. That, and it is someone who is definitely less than a year old. An infant. I think it's a valid reason to say no."] She arched an eyebrow at him, turning in the chair and crossing her own arms as she stared up at his form looming over her. With her seated and he standing, their height contrast of apparent lion and lamb was even more drastic. [b "A majority of the mutants I sensed are twelve or younger, Erik. I'm signaling out the ones that are adults. ...Or, in the least, no younger than what Raven is."] She scrubbed her hand through her hair a little warily, [b "I'd have done it by myself and gotten through this faster, but you would have thought I was keeping secrets—and don't try to deny that."] The curly black-haired woman smile slightly up at him, and then sighed before picking her notebook back up.
[b "I know you're anxious, Erik, and that's without needing to even intentionally read your mind. You're just... like... basically screaming it."] Charlotte tugged the list of papers towards her, picked up her pencil, and quickly scanned her eyes down it before managing to jot down another twenty names. They now totalling fourty canidates, she held the notebook out to him. [b "All of these canidates are within 12 hours from her, as we wanted. I've sensed their brains once, and I shoulb be able to find them. Now, will you stop looking like you want to strangle me?"] She gave him a smile, still lounging in the chair as he loomed over her. [b "We'll go give that to Mister Flemyng now, and then we should be able to he'd out tomorrow. Would you like to do the ones close enough for taking a car to be the first we head to, or rather work our way inwards from the farthest out...?"] Her smile grew, she back to that genuine serenity she always gave off.
Erik was more than happy to send off the teenagers on their own assignment, which was really just an excuse to get them away so he and Charlotte could think clearly without eager young minds questioning their every move. The office offered them a perfect retreat from prying eyes, to pour over potential mutants that they could contact to aid them in their fight. The work was incredibly tedious and Erik was having a hard time focusing. It seemed like the more they sat there working, the further Shaw was getting from them. And every time Charlotte declined a potential recruit, he wanted to slam his head in to the desk.
After she uttered the latest 'no', he waved a hand to fling a paper clip at her. [b "I can't tell if you're being difficult because you're still tired, or because you're just too picky,"] he grumbled before taking another gulp of coffee. [b "I'm trying to be patient, but we Germans aren't known for it. If we spend all evening and night in here, I may actually kill someone."]
They had been at work for hours already and had not selected a single candidate. Erik pushed his chair back and stood up to stretch. [b "Can we just regroup here? We're going to get nowhere if you don't start making decisions. Explain to me what exactly is wrong with the last candidate."]
He came to lean on the desk beside her with his arms crossed over his chest. [b "And if any of your criticisms include 'they aren't prepared', allow me to remind you that we will have to train anyone we bring in here. Not to mention, I doubt anyone would be prepared for this to begin with. We don't even have a set strategy. So why don't we start selecting recruits?"]
[b "It's not being taken advantage of if you know and accept it's happening, and if it's genuine help so I don't faceplant again. You've seen me do that enough already and it hasn't even been three days."] Charlotte murmured back, letting her eyes fall closed a moment as the march back to the main building began.
It was oddly calming, just being carried somewhere. She can't remember the last time she'd been carried.
...Any serenity that came with those moments, however, were ruined by the three's mouths. [b "I [i will] make you all believe you're toddlers. Don't think I won't."] She grouched, lips pouting as she turned her head out of Erik's chest mere moments before her had set her down. Her mouth hadn't been able to stop from twitching into a smile, however.
[center [b [i ~ ~]]]
The two teenagers had been ushered off by talks of interesting topics between one another, and because they had been slightly ushered off by the adults: subtly done on Charlotte's behalf, and likley not-so-subtly-done on Erik's part.
The two mutant adults had been able to secure a small office to use for all the readouts, so for the past couple hours since the lethargy had left her, that's what they've been doing. Skimming through a few thousand 'pings!' of mutants within twelve hours of their location.
[b "...No, not eligable."] Charlotte said in response to another set of coordinates that Erik listed off, so their list of currently only twenty eligable candinates to even attempt asking would remain at, well, only twenty in count. She had been able to feel the man's growing irritation with every "No" of hers over the past hour, and she could tell from the frustration he was projecting that it wouldn't be much longer before he'd finally explode.
Erik bit his tongue and refrained from any sarcastic comments. He could play nice if he has to. At least, as long as the others didn't push his buttons and bring his pessimistic side to the front. [b "Fine. I'll stop bringing up Shaw recruiting more minions. If this machine will let us maintain the upper hand, I guess I can't complain too much."]
She's light in his arms as he holds her up. With her request to be carried back to the headquarters, he sighs and lifts her up. [b "Sometimes I think you're just taking advantage of me, Xavier,"] he mutters.
Hank and Raven follow behind them as they march the path to the building. [b "Don't expect that I'll let you boss me around constantly. And don't even think a piggyback will be granted at any point. This is the only time I will carry you,"] he tries to keep a stoic face but a grin tugs at the corner of his lips.
[i "You should start to feel normal within an hour or two. Cerebro really takes the energy out of you,"] Hank chimes in behind them. [i "The first time I tried it, I was alone so I just kind of laid on the floor for a few hours until the numbness went away."]
[i "Aw man, we should have left Charlotte back there,"] Raven teases her sister.
[b "I can always turn around and drop her back off. Then we could enjoy coffee without her. Maybe take an early lunch,"] Erik agrees.
They enter the headquarters and Erik deposits her on a chair in the dining hall. [b "I'll start the coffee,"] he turns towards the pot to start the boiling water.
[i "Please, sit. You're a guest. Least I can do is make you feel more at home,"] Hank gestures for Erik to take a seat, wanting to appear charming in front of the younger girl.
There was so many. There was so, so, [i so. Many.] There was more than she had ever even theorized, and she had never been more happy to have one theory proven wrong for the sake of another!
It seemed like forever, yet not that long at all, when the machine would power down, she'd shakily remove the helmet, and she'd end up stumbling in almost a faint off of the small platform. She, for lack of better terming, just lounged there in Erik's arms as the other three fired off rapid questions and then babbled around her as if she wasn't there.
[b "All three of you are being.... such a mood-killer, but I'm not going to let you succeed."] Charlotte finally said, giving a small smile despite her exasperation from having her pure joy filtered back into serious levels so soon. So, she decided to begin with the toughest and end on a high note. [b "First of all, Hank, never say 'Never' in regards to helping as many as possible. Also I've told Erik once and will tell you now as this becomes his second time,"] She waggled a finger between the two me, [b "Shaw isn't looking for more soldiers actively. He has no reason to. As of now, he thinks there's only me and Erik and he likely believes his telepath more powerful than me since she could block me out. ...Which, I'm pretty sure, wasn't even due to her telepathy being stronger. It was something else."]
The woman now turned her attention to her little sister, [b "A lot of them are safe and aware, some yet unaware, and others who aren't in the safest of locations. But, we will all do our damndest to help them all as soon as it's safe too."] The reason why it was currently unsafe to reach out to any that wouldn't be able to help in the fight against Shaw was left unsaid because, well... Shaw.
Charlotte then once more turned her eyes on Erik, [b "And as for what I saw...?"] She let out a breathless laugh, tucking her cheek into the metal-using mutant's chest as she let her eyes close. [b "We are far from [i ever] being alone in this world."]
Her words had a power despite their softness, a strong and booming hope desite how quietly spoken she was. And that hung in the air for them to soak in, to bask in. To know even more thoroughly that they were not alone, for though they had gotten that sensation in each other it was a completely other thing to know that there were more people like you about the world than just the ones you physically knew.
[b "Now,"] Charlotte broke the silence, the telepath still a bit lethargic in Erik's arms, [b "I feel like I just ran a dozen miles, so I would appreciate it if someone would carry me inside to get coffee. After that, we can go over all of those locations and I can lable all of those I see as the best canidates for Erik and I to go and meet."] A small smile tweaked her lips and, despite its size, it still managed to make her visible cheek to dimple.
Erik doesn't want to admit it, but he holds his breath when the machine is switched on. Ready to pounce to her rescue at any second, he doesn't exhale until she starts smiling and laughing. No danger yet. [b "What do you see?"] he asks her.
[i "There's so many!"] she responds.
More of them. How many? Hundreds, maybe thousands? Could she see their lives, where they are? He opens his mouth to ask, but Hank cuts him off. [i "Let her focus. She can't get distracted or the machine won't work properly."]
Erik grits his teeth and watches, seeing the euphoria on Charlotte's face. When Hank gives him the signal, he steps up beside her with his arms ready to catch her if she stumbles after the scientist throws the switch to turn off Cerebro.
[b "What could you see?"] he asks.
[i "Are they safe? Are they aware of their powers?"] Raven chimes in, just as curious.
[i "I'm sure some are, but there are most likely others that have not been made aware yet. Part of my hope with this technology is that they'll come to understand that they aren't alone, and that there are answers out there for them,"] Hank answers, rubbing his hands nervously as he tries to appear confident.
[b "This will give us an advantage over Shaw. I doubt he is able to track mutants around the world. If we get to them first, he'll be unable to brainwash them to join his side,"] Erik states.
[i "Theoretically yes, but we're talking about a significant number of people. We can't reach them all in our lifetimes, considering new mutants are born every day. We just have to hold out hope that Shaw is unable to locate more soldiers for himself,"] Hank tries to reign in the strategy.
[i I am surrounded by children.] Charlotte thought, resisting the urge to shoot the bird because one was a child she barely knew, the other was her sister, and the other was a man whom she already knew would make a dirty joke about it.
[b "A beacon of support, you three are. One trying to shave me, and the other two mentioning the things that can go wrong! What more can a woman ask for?"] She finally said, releasing a soft breath of a laugh before raising a hand briefly beside her in a "Go ahead" gesture for Hank to get the machine started.
There was the wiring and the buzzing. Anticipation flooded in her veins alongside anxiety as everything hummed to life.
Then there was a flash of white in her mind's eye, her hands snapped out to hold onto the railing for support, and her brain began to see so much farther than the room of Cerebro.
The machine started ticking away in seconds as the brainwaves of Charlotte Francine Xaver's abilities began to dance around the worlds thanks to satellites and genius and mutant powers. A seemingly endless amount of bright lights in her mind that she registered as strangers like the four of them. Just, just....
[b "There's so [i many!]"] Charlotte gasped out, a bright smile on her face and a breathless laugh escaping her lips as the machine continued to record the location of every mutant her powers touched. Her eyes briefly refocused on the room as her brain continued to see everything else, and she laughed some more in utter glee after meeting eyes with Hank, Raven, and then finally Erik in that order.
She soon let her vision fade back out to focusing on all her brain saw, she still being able to feel her eyes sting a bit with tears, but she felt no care. The young professor was overwhelmed and had every right to cry, considering the situation. She was right. She was really, truly, and undoubtedly right in her hidden theories on a level even larger than she had imagined possible.
Erik smirks, unable to help it. [b "What an adorable lab rat you make, Charlotte."]
Raven tosses him a smirk as she walks around the machine. [i "Really brings out your beauty,"] she teases.
Cerebero was one of the most impressive things that Erik had ever seen. Every possible detail went in to making it, to ensure the safety of civilians. He stares at the different panels, wondering what exactly each button did. Hank must have noticed because he makes a mild squeak and hurries over. [i "Just be very very careful. It's sensitive and easily broken."]
The elder man gives him a blank look and then turns away. Being on a team with a child would be difficult enough. He didn't quite like being told what to do by one. So, he chooses to wander back to Charlotte. [b "Not worried? He's quite young. Could have made mistakes. One little misplaced wire and zap! Extra crispy Charlotte Xavier."]
The scientist in question comes over to make sure everything is secured properly. [i "We may get better reception if you'd be willing to shave your head,"] he looks at her hopefully, only to be immediately shot down.
[b "Be a sport about it, Charlotte. I hear baldness is becoming quite the fashion statement,"] he muses.
Raven snorts in to her hand. [i "Can we keep him?"] she asks her sister.
Erik notices Hank wince a little at the comment, before clearing his throat. [i "Alright, we're all set here. Give the go-ahead whenever you're ready, and I'll flip the switch."]
With baited breath they all watch her carefully, waiting for any sign of distress. If she was in need of rescuing, they would all be quickly on hand. [b "I'll let you know if your hair catches fire,"] Erik promises her.
[b "He won't be looking for anyone, Erik. From the glimpse I saw he had those three with him for years—he has no need to go looking for more mutants. Believe me."] Her tone, rather than one of reassurance was, instead... concrete certainty. If the male mutant looked at her, he'd see the fiery, non-doubtful look on her face.
[b "I blocked your mind from his own telepath's the moment I noticed you in the water. He and his telepath will either think you're dead, or will believe there's only the two of us."] The woman nudged the door open with her back, opening the door for them both and only now turning to walk properly face-forward now that they were outside. [b "There's no way I was letting that woman into my head and find out about Raven—"] There's be a brief flicker of something lethal in her eyes, [b "—and neither of us knew of Hank's existence. They'll think they have us outnumbered. On the look-out for us, sure, but not actively rallying against us."] Charlotte cast Erik a grin, the seriousness of her demeanor lightening up to her usual cheeriness as soon enough they were standing right in front of the two teenagers outside of the large, ball shaped ground satellite.
Hank opened a hatch at the bottom of the dome, folding stairs slowly pattering out for them all to walk up. [#0086eb "This is it!"] The young scientist exclaimed, gesturing around the dull-tan insides of the dome filled with machines, wiring, and... a platform in the center, with a half-circle support bar and a rather large helmet connected with even [i more] wires dangling from the ceiling. [#0086eb "The electrodes connect Charlotte to the transmitter on the roof. When she picks up a mutant, her brain should send a signal through a relay, and then the coordinates of their location are printed out here...."] While Hank babbled on in his explanation and gestured towards the mentioned parts of Cerebro, of course Charlotte had gone about examining the helmet before hopping up on the platform and pulling the helmet down onto her head.
The short mutant stood there, arms folded behind her back, and her eyes flickered over towards the German-male in the room. [b "Don't you dare say it, Erik. You'll spoil this for me."] The woman threatened playfully, eyebrow arched as she caught the beginnings of his joke tickling his brain.
Erik had risen before the women and gone for his morning jog. The air was brisk against his lungs, and he relished in the fresh air of the compound. Years traveling had not always been pleasant, sleeping in alleys and breathing in truck fumes. He would bask in the freedom for a while longer.
When he returns to the room, Charlotte and Raven aren't there. He showers quickly and pulls on some slacks and a button down to try and look a little authoritative around all of the suited agents.
He's wandering the halls to find of the girls when he hears the voices. Charlotte and Agent O. Erik could announce his presence and join them, but he wasn't about to pass up the chance to overhear something important, now that he doesn't have the Xavier woman glued to his side.
She was good at negotiating, he'll give her that. She doesn't even have a waver to her voice when dealing with the FBI. [i Trying to get him flustered, Charlotte?] Erik thinks, knowing that the woman would be in tuned to him as soon as he put his guard down. [i Poor man doesn't stand a chance.]
Just as he predicted, the agent caves. Erik smirks. [i Pity. I was rooting for him.]
He tries to look innocent when Charlotte emerges and catches him. [b "I don't know what you're talking about, Ms Xavier. I was simply waiting respectfully. I didn't want to interrupt."]
His eyes flash with the grin on his face. [b "Perhaps I should handle the matter next time. Agent O looks rather dazed. I believe he may be smitten with you. Wouldn't want you to take advantage of him."]
With a nudge of his elbow, he matches her step towards the teenage scientist's project. [b "If this machine does as it's supposed to, we'll have to get moving right away. We don't want Shaw to get to these people first. Who knows what he can talk them in to if they're desperate and scared."]
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