If nothing else about his current situation is desirable, at least the boat is made out of metal.

Erik is still in his wetsuit and sitting on the edge of a bottom bunk bed in a cabin, a blanket draped around his shoulders that does little to provide any warmth. He needs to change, and they let him collect his briefcase and the change of clothes from the pier before boarding, but what he needs right now, more than dry clothes, is time to think.

You have to let go!

The voice is no longer in his head, but he remembers it clearly: urgent and serene, just like the hands grabbing at his shoulders, pulling him up, away, as the submarine and Schmidt disappeared into the murky darkness of the cold, black water. I know what this means to you, but you're going to die. Please, Erik, calm your mind.

He shudders, and not only from the cold. His mind has been the only thing he has ever been allowed to keep to himself, and if what he thinks happened actually did, then that too, that last sanctuary, has been stripped bare and invaded.

A knock on the metal door gets him out his thoughts and he takes a second to gather himself before he reaches to open it. It is Xavier. He has changed into dry clothes but his hair is still wet, dark curls around his temples. He has a steaming cup in each hand and the smell of coffee wafts into the enclosed space.

"I thought you might need something hot; I know I do."

"Thank you" Erik says warily, accepting the offered cup.

"Do you mind if I come in?"

The cup suggests that that has been Xavier's intention, and while Erik wants to be alone, he also needs information. Answers.

"No."

Xavier steps inside the door without even a moment's pause. He looks very unofficial in his trousers and sweater but Erik learned long ago that looks can be more than deceiving. Even so, he takes some comfort and satisfaction from the fact that they are surrounded by metal. Granted, it is the CIA's vessel and Xavier is apparently in some way associated with them, but everything in it, from walls, doors and floor to the bunk beds and shelves, is made out of different kinds of metal. That metal is currently creaking and groaning slightly, the sound of the engines in the machine room reverberating through the hull as the boat makes its way through the water. Just like Schmidt's submarine. Drowning would have been a small price to pay to finally put an end to the lifelong hunt for that man's life.

"Wouldn't you like to change?" Xavier asks suddenly, and he sounds a bit… bothered by the fact that Erik has not yet taken the time to change out of his soaked wetsuit. "You did have some warm clothes, didn't you?"

"I do, but I have questions as well" Erik replies. "Sit down, if you please."

Charles does sit down. He sits in the most curious way though, one leg over the other and his hands placed above his knees, one hand still holding the cup. It is a posture that projects interest and eagerness. Not relaxation, but not the carefully constructed ease adapted by someone conducting an interrogation either. Erik on the other hand feels as if preparing for battle, muscles tense and breathing controlled. This man has been inside his head, has said things without speaking that Erik does not want to and needs to hear, and he has to find out how.

"Are you a fed?" Erik asks, because while the possibility of mind-breaking-and-entering is pressing on his mind, no, burning in his mind, this is the most important question.

"What? No, no, not by a long shot." Charles laughs "I was asked to help them bring in Shaw, but I'm more of a… consultant in this case." The laugh turns into a smile, as if he has touched upon some joke that he knows Erik is not privy to, and it is annoying as hell for the span of a split second, when Xavier asks, in a rather kindly tone of voice, "is there anything else you want to know?"

Millions of things. But this is not the time nor the place for such questions, so Erik settles for the next most important one.

"What's going to happen to me?"

"Nothing. They will leave you alone until we get back to base."

"And then?"

"You can either come with us, or go wherever you want to go."

"I don't believe it." Xavier looks mildly taken aback by this reply, so Erik continues: "No federal corps is that lenient."

"Well, no, I suppose not." Xavier shrugs awkwardly and looks, suddenly, young and innocent, and then takes a sip of coffee. There is a grimace on his face instantly; whether from the temperature or the taste is impossible to tell. He presses his lips together a few times, not smacking them, because this is a slower movement and inaudible, but still significant in some way. His lips are slightly chafed, Erik notices, as Xavier says: "But it's true, nonetheless."

Something happens then, not in the cabin but in the entire body of the vessel. The hum in the metal changes and it takes Erik a second or so to realize that the engines are slowing down. They must be reaching shore. Opposite him, Xavier takes another sip of his coffee and then smiles. It seems genuine and Erik wonders if it is. He does not trust others easily, not at all in fact, but Xavier almost makes him want to.

"We'll be docking in a few minutes" Xavier says. "I'll see you on the deck then, perhaps?"

He rises from the bed and leaves without another word. Erik remains on his bunk, hands still holding the cup of untouched coffee. He has to locate Schmidt again and he needs answers, and while he can find the submarine, he knows that he will probably not outrun the federal agents in doing so. As for answers… Charles Xavier seems to be his best bet.

He reaches for his clothes and begins changing into them. The coffee cup is put on the floor and then left there as he leaves the cabin to join Xavier on the deck. He never liked coffee.


He is introduced to Xavier's sister and a few agents whose names he instantly decides to forget. They are not the reason why he is here and if he has to make a run for it, he would rather not know them as he crushes their heads inside their helmets or aims their guns at each other. Raven's name sticks with him though and he cannot help but look at her, because it is as if when he sees her out of the corner of his eye, he sees something else than her blond, thick hair and fair skin. He does not know what though, and perhaps it is only the nightly adventure in cold water that makes him imagine things, so he chooses to ignore it for the time being.

She does not say much and neither does Xavier, at least not to him, but it grows evident from Xavier's discussion with the agents in the front seat of the car that whoever these people are, and whatever Xavier is, the agents know at least something about whatever his abilities are. Eric listens to them without speaking, hoping that they might let something slip about Schmidt, but they do not. What they do say, though, is a word Erik has not heard before, at least not in this context.

Mutant.

That is what they are, he understands. Himself and Xavier and apparently Raven as well. Something more than human. Mutants. He rather likes the word, it is highly preferable to monster or freak, which are words he is far more acquainted with, in many different languages. Mutant has a sophisticated tone to it, a note of pride, and he takes it to heart.

They arrive at a great building compound, all polished stone slabs and big windows, but there is metal as well, hidden in the structures and in the weapons and equipment. It is vibrating with activity, and they barely have time to step out of the car before they are introduced to the federal plan: a task force.

Xavier is thrilled, it is easy to see, and his energy carries him away when they are taken to one of the research and tech labs. It is large and clean and rather silent, but Erik can feel the shiver of fear travelling up and down his spine as he involuntarily recalls other laboratories. If anyone suggests putting a needle in him he will put the syringe so far up that person's arm that they will never get it out. Xavier gives him a look, taking in the crossed arms, and then proceeds to admire the aero plane suspended in the hangar ceiling: admiration soon transferred to the young man bragging about it dressed up in a lab coat. Erik keeps his distance from him.

A moment later, Erik realizes that Charles Xavier is naïve. Sure, he apologizes for his tactless way and then encourages the guy to show off, but in unintentionally outing him in the first place, Xavier rather proves that he has lived a shielded life. He honestly thinks that these agents will not harm them or any other mutant.

That kind of thinking is dangerous, but it is not the right moment to point it out, either.

Then, Raven shows her ability and Erik is stunned. She is exquisite underneath the layers of her power that shields her true nature from showing. He cannot keep his eyes from her and neither, he notices, can Hank, the lab coat. He also notices how Charles averts his eyes. For the first time in the past twenty-four hours, he looks uncomfortable. He soon disappears with the agents, not looking at Raven or Erik or even the lab coat, and they are left to their own devices.

That makes it so much easier when one hour later, Erik breaks into one of the offices and retrieves the file on Sebastian Shaw, Schmidt's new alias.