"How can I be sure you're telling the truth?"

"You can't. I guess you'll just have to trust me."

It was an extremely long ride back to Florida. While it didn't take forever in terms of actual time- the boat reluctantly dispatched by the Navy had gotten them to the mainland in two hours, and the helicopter had an even shorter trip- for the people on board, it felt like an eternity.

Beyond the railing the sea rose up, topped with white foam as the ship cut a path through the Atlantic. Erik Lensherr stared out at the disrupted ocean and thought about ripples. They were deep, dark, unhappy thoughts.

If one thing was different, in history, how would that change the world we live in? If we could clearly see the paths that our actions would lead us down, would we be able to prevent tragedy, to avoid pain? Could there be a single event somewhere, sometime, that changed the direction of our destinies?

Erik thought hard, and he thought long, but despite the fact that his head was uncovered, nobody heard his thoughts but him.

When he took his hands away, the steel railing had dented under his fingertips.

High in the air, miles ahead, Charles Xavier lay on a canvas stretcher and prayed for unconsciousness. He was not a religious man- years at university and in the thrall of science had long since bled the God from his bones- but still he prayed for freedom from the agony coursing through his body, for the ability to sleep and ignore the inevitable truth, for silence and control. His head spun with pain and a thousand deafening thoughts that swarmed his brain like angry bees. As his suffering worsened, his defenses fell and other people's minds flooded into his own. He prayed for the strength to block them out, for control. Squeezing a hand just because it was there, he tried not to fall apart.

Below decks the others were sitting around, feeling awkward. They had separated naturally into two groups: Sean, Alex, Hank, and Raven on one side of the room and Angel, Azazel, and Riptide on the other. They exchanged glares and muttered quietly amongst themselves.

In an hour they would all be exhausted, but for now they remained awake as the adrenaline of the day pumped through their veins. None of them were sure hw to feel- the initial thrill at their victory had been blanketed by anger at their betrayal by the government and then fear for their teacher's wellbeing. Raven leaned against Hank, her yellow eyes rimmed with red, as he patted her shoulder awkwardly with his paw. The last remnants of the Hellfire Club brooded in the corner. They were mostly angry, but not angry enough to make them forget that they were essentially prisoners of war.

Tension clouded the air, and no one spoke for fear of disturbing it.

They were all alone, now.