"I think you gentlemen were seated at the wrong table. Let me get the maitre d' to find you another one," I said, after I overcame the shock of finding two men sitting at my usual dinner table.
And then they had the audacity to smile at me. Well, the shorter one smiled, but the taller one most definitely smirked. "No, Miss Serena, we are at the correct table," the shorter one told me, standing to pull out a chair. And he was still smiling.
"Won't you join us, Miss Serena?" The tall one stood as well, now raising an eyebrow in challenge. It was almost like he knew I could never allow myself to back down from a challenge.
I allowed the shorter one, the Brit, to assist me, all while keeping an eye on the German. He seemed far more likely to cause problems than his friend. And he had been the more challenging one, anyway. "So, gentlemen," I began, placing my napkin in my lap precisely, fully aware of every move either of my now dinner mates might make. "Would you mind informing me as to why you decided to intrude on my dinner plans? Also, your names might be helpful. I seriously doubt you want me to continue referring to you as Tall and Short."
The Brit shook his head rather vehemently, while his friend laughed at him. "You don't like it simply because you're the short one," he said, smirking even more.
"I could call you Brit and German, if you prefer," I suggested innocently.
The smirk fell from his lips in an instant. Interesting, I thought, taking a sip from my water glass. He is clearly touchy about his origin. Then my eyes fell to his right hand rubbing his left forearm, seemingly unconscious. Though once he noticed my gaze, he instantly stopped, glaring as he pulled his sleeve to cover it, I was still able to catch the tiniest glimpse of a crude tattoo. And that tattoo made everything make sense.
This all took less than a minute, during which the shorter one started to apologize for his companion. "No need," I said, cutting him off and breaking the slight glare he was giving his friend. "I'm actually the one who should apologize. I know better than to assume anything from one's accent. Forgive me." I saw the tall one's measuring gaze, as though he were assessing just how honest I was being. But once I steadily met and kept his scrutiny, he finally nodded once, relaxing just the tiniest bit.
The shorter one watched the whole exchange with interest, then took the opportunity to speak again. "Well, Miss Serena, my name is Charles Xavier, this is Erik Lensherr. And we have a proposition for you," he said congenially, while handing me a glass of wine. From my bottle of wine.
"Gentlemen, I can assure you that I am not that kind of girl, regardless of what you may or may not have heard about me," I said, feigning shock and insult.
It was far too entertaining to watch Xavier splutter into his wine, coughing as he hurried to assure me that that was not what he had meant at all. Lensherr watched it all, smirking slightly into his glass, not at all concerned about his friend. I simply tucked into my steak that Henry had slid, unobtrusively, onto the table in front of me.
I had taken three bites before Xavier finally clued in. "You didn't actually mean that, did you?" he asked, though his smile told me he already knew the answer.
"Really, Charles, what gave it away?" Lensherr asked, spearing a piece of melon on his fork with a very amused expression on his face.
"I'm not sure coming to talk to you was a good idea, after all, Miss Serena," Xavier said, taking the ribbing with good grace, even for his feigned hurt. "I'm not at all sure I could handle having two of you. After all, you and Erik seem to have rather similar humors."
"Well, why don't you tell me why you're here, and then we'll go from there," I prompted. After all, they had yet to tell me why they had joined my dinner, without my consent.
"Yes, that's probably best," Xavier agreed, but his mouth never moved. The only movement he made was a single raised eyebrow.
The thought that they probably spent far too much time together, as their expressions were rubbing off on each other, flitted through my mind, but it was very momentary. The rest of my attention was arrested by the fact that he had spoken to me in my mind. "You're a telepath, then?" I asked him, though without uttering a single word, before quickly shutting him out.
Xavier seemed a bit surprised. "You've met someone like me before?" he carefully asked aloud.
Forcing the snarl out of my voice, I said, "Yes. It wasn't pleasant, so I would greatly appreciate it if you stayed out of my head." After receiving a reassuring nod from him, I turned to Lensherr. "And what exactly can you do, Signore?"
Another smirk quirked his lips, and I felt my fork jerk out of my hand. It twirled in the air for a moment, then sailed straight to his lips. "That was an exceptional steak," he said, once his mouth was empty again.
"Yes, it was," I said pointedly, since he had eaten the last bite. And of course, he simply smirked more. "So you can move things with your mind? Or is it just metal?"
"Metall," he answered promptly, his German accent more prominent.
"Interesting," I said, raising my glass to my lips once more.
"And what exactly can you do, Fraulein Serena?" Lensherr inquired.
"I sing," I said, matching his smirk.
"Yes, I did notice your name on the marquis outside," Xavier commented. "But is that your… special power?"
"Special power? That makes it sound like a cheap parlor trick," I said conversationally, before drinking the last of my wine and standing up. "And I assure you gentlemen that it is most definitely not a cheap trick. But you are welcome to stay and watch, find out for yourselves."
I quickly walked backstage, feeling their gaze on me the entire time. Lorna met me in my dressing room and made quick work of getting me stage ready. Then, once Freddy signalled to me, I stepped onto the stage, waiting at the microphone for Marcel to announce me. "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to introduce the lovely, the talented, the intriguing Bianca Sereno, Atlantic City's very own White Siren!"
As his last words were fading into the night, the house lights dimmed, leaving a spotlight on the stage. I could see the bright light through the curtains and prepared to be temporarily blinded, as my band struck the first notes. A grin tried to form, but I fought it down. It would ruin the stage image I had carefully crafted, so instead, I allowed a little pout. And the moment the curtains fully opened, I opened my mouth.
"Stars shining bright above you, Night breezes seem to whisper I love you. Birds singing in the sycamore tree. Dream a little dream of me."
As my vision came back, I made sure to look toward my dinner companions. I was interested in their reactions, and they didn't disappoint. Xavier had a puzzled look on his face, as though he were aware of something happening, but not quite sure what. Lensherr, however, had that smirk again, like he knew exactly what I was doing.
My show was a little more than an hour, and I finished with a new favorite. It had only been a few months since Elvis had released it, but I had adored it from the very first moment I heard it. "Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can't help falling in love with you."
My last notes rang in the air for an unnaturally long moment, mesmerizing my audience. And it wasn't until Marcel began applauding that it was broken. I inclined my head slightly, acknowledging their applause, before the curtains closed once more. I quietly thanked my band, then headed for my dressing room. "Hey Freddy, the two guys I had dinner with can come back, but just them, okay?" I instructed the stage manager, closing the door once he had hurriedly nodded.
Slipping behind the dressing screen in one corner, I slipped off my shoes and unzipped my dress. An unfamiliar knock sounded, and I grinned. "Come in."
I peeked my head around the screen just in time to see Xavier and Lensherr walk in the room, just as I had suspected. "Make yourselves comfortable, gentlemen. I'll be done in just a moment," I told them, stepping out of my dress and hanging it before wrapping my satin robe around my shoulders.
Once covered, at least somewhat, I headed to the bottle chilling in a bucket on my vanity. "And how did you like the show?" I asked, handing each man a glass of wine.
"It was spectacular." Xavier toasted me with his glass, keeping his eyes firmly on my face, after the tiniest of peaks.
Lensherr, on the other hand, had no such compunctions. His eyes roamed my slip-and-robe clad body, before finally meeting my eyes once more. "It's no wonder why they call you the White Siren," he said at last, admiration filling both his words and gaze.
It was my turn to smirk. "That's actually poking fun at my name. In Italian, Bianca-"
"Means white," he finished for me.
"So you know Italian," I said, letting surprise and approval color my tone. "But my last name comes from the fact that the women in my family have had the same… what did you call it, Xavier? Special power?... for centuries, millenia, even. In fact, they are where the Greek myths of sirens come from."
Both men looked rather shocked. "Are you saying that you come from a line of mutants?" Xavier finally managed to ask, excitement and intrigue causing him to speak so quickly, he nearly slurred his words together.
"Since before Homer?" Lensherr added, sounding more skeptical than his friend.
"I'm not sure what you're meaning by mutant, but yes. Any woman born in my family has had a special gift of music, able to manipulate a mind, or multiple, with just her voice," I answered, swirling the wine in my glass. "So I am literally the White Siren," I added, before taking a sip.
"Well, that is fascinating," Lensherr began, after several long moments of the men trying to digest what they had just learned. "But how is magical singing going to help us beat Schmidt? Shaw, I mean."
I stiffened at the name. "What are you talking about?" I asked. If they were talking about who I thought they were, I would need more wine.
Xavier sighed, then tossed back the rest of his drink. "That's what we came here to talk to you about. We're with the CIA, recruiting mutants to help us stop another mutant, a very dangerous man called Sebastian Shaw. Or Klaus Schmidt, as Erik knew him."
Choosing my words carefully, I said, "So you're collecting other… mutants to fight him. That's what you want with me. But you didn't know anything about me, other than I'm a mutant?"
Lensherr nodded. "Charles was able to use a transmitter to find other mutants. But it doesn't tell us what powers you have. So, I'm terribly sorry, but you won't be of much use to us. We should be going now."
"Why do you want to stop Schmidt?"
My words stopped him in his tracks as he was turning to leave. "He killed my mother," came his growled answer. "So I will return the favor."
"Interesting. Do you have any idea of how to do that? After all, Schmidt can absorb any energy thrown his way. There's not much that could harm him," I said, feigning a nonchalance that I most definitely did not feel.
"And how would you know that?" Lensherr's gaze was back on me, piercing me, as if he might rip the answer from me with merely his look.
"He's the man who killed my mother," I replied. "So we have that in common. But he's also my father. And I inherited his powers, as well. So you'll need me on this little mission of yours. At least, if you want to succeed."
AN: And here we have yet another story I'm starting. But I promise I will finish this one, never fear! This one has been rolling around in my brain ever since I restarted Star Light, Star Bright, so I finally gave in. It's fun to have a contemporary for Charles and Erik! Thanks for reading!