A/n: Someone mentioned that Charles actually graduated from Oxford, and I think that the movie says that it's Oxford as well, but Oxford is in Britain. It really makes no sense for a CSI agent to go all the way to Britain and then drag him back to America, so I'm going to say that Charles went to Harvard. Think of it as my creative license.


II. Past and Present

Charles' breathing was heavy, too heavy.

Erik frowned slightly as he turned to face his fellow mutant, his equal and opposite, his brother in all but blood. They hadn't walked for more than a few steps before Charles started falling behind, a hand to his chest and sweat prickling down his brow. It was unlike Charles, who had been able to outrun Hank easily before the now blue man 'set the beast loose', so to speak. Unlike many intellects, Charles knew how to keep both his mind and body fit, and while he had nothing on Erik, he wasn't exactly this unhealthy. At least, not normally.

"Charles," Erik muttered yet again, having slowed down considerably for his companion. He swatted away stray branches as they traversed down the forest pathway, away from the Cuban beach. "Are you sure you're alright?"

"Ma-maybe not," Charles replied with a weak grin, blue eyes flashing slightly in amusement as he glanced at the metal manipulator. The filtered sunlight shining through gave his skin a deathly pallor. "But we've got to get going, yes? Besides, I'm not so sure if my aliment has anything to do with the physical."

Erik's eyebrows furrowed at those words, his mind mulling over what Charles said. He was far from stupid. Erik stopped, and offered out an arm. Charles looked at him curiously for a moment, before taking it with a grateful smile. Erik frowned a little at the reaction; normally Charles would have reached for Erik's arm before Erik himself offered it, because Charles would be able to see where Erik's thought progression was leading up to. Then again… "You think you've overused your telepathic powers, and now you're getting a backlash?"

If Charles' powers were exhausted like he thought, then the slow reaction to Erik's arm did make sense.

It had happened to Erik before. In the past, he had actually become bedridden for days after using his mutation too much. Of course, this was all before he had discovered the key to harnessing his power—to find the space between rage and serenity. Today (and it still amazed him to think that it was all today) he had managed to lift a submarine and turn rockets around, and none of that had tired him. His new power was intoxicating, exhilarating, though he knew that there must be a limit to it somewhere. It seemed that even Charles had hit his limit.

Charles closed his eyes, letting out a soft breath. There was something strained about his voice as he leaned against Erik and together they started walking again, "Well… something like that."

Green eyes narrowed as stray broken branches crunched underfoot. Erik might not be a mind reader, but he had spent most of his memorable life around the globe, searching desperately for any clue of Shaw. He had learned to read people, and to read them well. If not, he wouldn't have been able to get all the clues that he needed to eventually avenge his family. Charles was keeping something from him, that much was painfully obvious. The question was, what?

"Charles," Erik said again, this time sternly. "None of the children are here; you don't have to act completely composed around me. I won't tell anyone that you're fallible too."

Charles seemed to tense at those words, which only confirmed Erik's suspicions.

"It's not that I'm—" he started, only to be cut off by Erik.

"Don't lie," Erik said harshly, which made Charles flinch a little. Erik instantly felt guilty. He let out a shaky breath, not quite sure why he was being so hard on Charles; but then again, for the past few hours he had been hard on everyone. He was still coming off of his high from killing Shaw, his fight-and-flight mode that he had used against his creator, and it was hard to get back into that semblance of normalcy. Erik took another breath, and tried to insert some of his old teasing nature into his next words, "I think that memory-changing ability of yours makes you an awful liar, Charles."

For some reason, Charles winced at this. Erik frowned, not quite understanding what in the world was happening today. Usually Charles was always up for a joke and this—

"I could change your memory so that you think I am an excellent liar, Erik," Charles replied in kind, his tone equally as teasing despite his strained breaths.

"But you won't," Erik replied amusedly, shaking his head. He would never understand how Charles was able to keep his integrity with powers like that.

Thinking about Charles' powers…

"What do you think happened back there?" Erik wondered aloud, referring of course, to the sudden influx of people in a war-torn zone and the disappearances of their students.

A light frown crossed Charles' face, "I don't know, but if I had to guess, I would say that I've overloaded my telepathic capabilities, hence the reason I have such an immense headache right now. When I… when I put everything into reaching you inside that helmet Erik, it may have energized the brainwaves to such an extent that it melted the thing right off your head, and created some sort of wormhole that brought us to another part of Cuba. A once in a lifetime phenomenon, I'd wager."

Erik nodded at the logic, mulling over the implications. He trusted Charles' judgment, and although his friend had warned him that it was only an educated guess, Erik knew that even when unsure, Charles' understanding of specific situations were much better than his own. Charles' logic seemed probable and easy to understand, but Erik of all people knew that there was a huge difference between understanding logic and being the one to formulate it. And, especially given the killer headache Charles had to be sporting right now, Erik once again confirmed his friends' genius. Such a fact was always in the back of his mind, and Erik had long since gotten used to brilliant leaps of logic from his friend. One just didn't graduate from Harvard five years early because they lacked intellect.

"Can you feel Raven and the others, then?" Erik asked, following up on Charles' through progression of a temporary rip in space.

Charles shook his head, and then winced a little, "Ah, I'm afraid that wherever we've been sent, it's too far away for me to tell where they are. I hope they're alright, with all the navy ships nearby…"

One didn't even have to know Charles as well as Erik did to hear the worry in that last sentence. As it was, Erik did know Charles that well. Still, he couldn't comfort his friend. Charles' words had brought something else to the forefront of his mind. Green eyes narrowed, "I thought you believed in the goodness of mankind. It doesn't sound like that, now."

Charles tensed in his arms. Erik felt that. Warily, the university professor turned his head, pursing his lips. Charles didn't look pleased, and his tone was equally as unamused, "That's a different situation entirely."

"Is it?" Erik questioned, not able to help the slight smile that spread across his lips. He had won this round, and he knew it. It was a rare event for them to win their discussions, as Charles had all of Erik's memories available to him and that insufferable logic. Although Erik knew that he was in the right, he had a hard time articulating it, and Charles would always run circles around him with his mastery and flowery use of university language. Added to that extensive arsenal of course was Erik's very own past, which Charles would use as an excuse to nearly everything.

Erik could never fault Charles for reading his thoughts, because telepathy had just happened to be Charles' mutation. Despite the fact that Erik hated the idea of anyone in his head, he couldn't deny the brown haired mutant his special power. It would be like someone asking Erik to never touch cars with his power, despite the fact that they were brimming with metal. Erik had told Raven to be 'mutant and proud', and that in part extended to allowing another's powers to touch him, no matter how much he may have hated it.

And he didn't even hate it, anymore. It had become sort of understood that Charles would be in the back of his head, and as creepy as it might sound to outsiders, well, it just wasn't. The likes of McTaggart wouldn't understand, no doubt, because they were human. They wouldn't see how torn up Erik's mind was, and how much he desperately needed that soothing presence in the back of his mind that would always be there to calm him whenever he awoke gasping for breath from a nightma—no, memory. They would simply see it as an invasion of privacy, and hence, the reason why mutants with such powers were meant to be contained.

They would never accept Charles, more so than any of the other mutants. Charles was too powerful for them, and America would forever be too afraid of their free will being taken away to accept a telepath like him. Maybe the others—Banshee, Havok, heck even Beast—maybe they could eventually be accepted into the military or government defenses, but Erik knew that Charles would never, ever be.

He didn't need to have a mutation to see the future to know that.

"It sounds as though," Erik continued, his voice gaining a whimsical edge to it, "that you're worried about what the humans will do if we aren't there to stop it. That doesn't sound very trusting to me."

"No," Charles said sharply, his voice sounding frantic for the first time since they had left the warships. Even when they had discovered that they were suddenly not alone and were in fact, surrounded by curious humans and cameras Charles had stayed calm. It took a lot of force to shake the man; Erik had quite possibly only seen Charles lose control once, and that was earlier this morning. "Even if there were mutants aboard those ships, I wouldn't feel at ease. This isn't about humans Erik, it's about the danger in general. Or have you forgotten about the teleporting one's attack on the CIA?"

Erik winced a little at those words. He had forgotten, in fact. Or at least, had pushed it to the back of his mind. He had even been planning to invite the mutant to his new alliance, even though that mutant had been the enemy and had somewhat caused the death of the teenage taxi driver Charles and Erik had found together.

Charles took a breath, and he ran a hand down his face. His blue eyes softened, turning to something more sympathetic and even a little apologetic, "I am sorry, my friend. Not for my words, but for the way I presented them. I am tired as you know, and not quite feeling like myself. There's a hotel up ahead. For tourists it seems. Shall we rest there?"

Erik nodded in agreement, feeling slightly shamed. Charles was right; he was tired, and now Erik felt horrible about starting what was obviously a strained topic when Charles seemed ready to faint at any moment.

They made their way to the entrance, and Erik didn't even find it odd that nobody threw them so much as a single glance at their disheveled appearances. Charles had his eyes squeezed shut now, and Erik instinctively knew that the telepathic mutant was feeding the others a different image. Similarly, Charles made short work of the receptionist at the desk, and within minutes he had gotten them a set of keys for a hotel room.

Erik couldn't help but marvel at Charles for the nth time that day. Once again, he mulled over the versatility of Charles' power, and how very useful it could be. Despite the fact that he had promised not to discuss it at the moment, he couldn't help but think it. His friend could control the minds of all the world's leaders, nudge the masses a certain way for their decision making, and if all that was too villainess for Charles (for Erik knew that Charles would have been a saint had he been born five hundred centuries earlier), then Charles could still erase the memories of any loose ends and make breaking into a compound a virtual cat walk.

The possibilities were quite endless.

As much as Erik didn't want to become too egotistical about this, because he knew that being too arrogant could get one killed, Erik couldn't help but think that with his new powers and Charles' telepathy, the two of them probably wouldn't have to enlist too-young-mutants in able to ensure that the world was safe for their kind.

Green eyes glanced sideways to the mutant in question. Now if only Charles could realize that.

They made their way to their room. It wasn't extravagant by any means, and certainly when Erik compared it to Charles' manor, there was quite a bit lacking, but Charles didn't seem to care at the moment, and Erik had always been one to take whatever he could get. He hadn't exactly had much when he was younger, after all.

Erik helped Charles into one of the beds (for there were two; this was no doubt some sort of family hotel) and turned on the AC. Charles was still breathing heavily, making Erik glance over at him somewhat worriedly.

"It's nothing, my friend," Charles said as he cracked an eye open, throwing a weak smile in Erik's direction, "I've just let go of all the people on the beach, and I'm feeling much better now. Let me have some sleep, and then I will be as right as rain."

Erik simply nodded back, knowing that Charles had read his mind, but not minding terribly much. Charles' smile turned softer, and his eyes fluttered closed again. Finally his breathing evened out, and Erik knew that Charles was doing exactly what he had promised he would—sleep.

The green eyed mutant just stood staring at his friend for a moment, before shaking his head and heading towards the bathroom. Erik stripped off his grimy clothes and turned on the shower tap. He fully intended to get clean after that filthy battle in the beaches of Cuba. Not only did he hate being dirty in general, something that was passed over from his days in the ghettos, but he also wanted to wash away his past, now that it was done and over with. He felt like he could do it. Emerge as a new man with power and confidence, not as the broken boy whom Shaw had bent to the snapping point.

The sound of rushing waters filled his ears and steam started collecting in the room. A smirk spread across Erik's lips; it looked like the bath was ready.

He spent a long time in the shower, scrubbing down every part of himself. Scrubbing away his memories of Shaw, for that was done with now, and scrubbing away the battle of Cuba. The blood and dirt fell to the bathtub floor, swirling down the drainages to never been seen again. When Erik emerged from the momentary pleasure, he did indeed feel much more relaxed. Who said showers were only for girls?

He glanced at the pile of black and yellow clothes crumpled on the floor. There was part amusement, part disgust at the sight of them. Nevertheless, he wholeheartedly agreed that he really, really didn't want to put them back on again. It was already bad enough that they were the most hideous things that he had ever set his eyes upon, but now they looked utterly repulsive to his relatively germ-free self. He would convince Charles to get someone to buy them new clothes in the morning.

Erik decided that wrapping a towel around his waist would be enough. Cuba was hot, after all.

He walked to the unoccupied bed, and sat himself down. A part of him was antsy he admitted, because he wanted to get started on his mutant domination plan right away. But another part… he glanced at Charles. The other part of him knew that he couldn't leave until he knew that Charles was alright, and that for sure, Charles would not join him.

Deep down inside, Erik knew that Charles' morals wouldn't allow the Harvard graduate to side with Erik on this one, but the green eyed mutant couldn't help but hope. If he said just the right words, expressed just the right feelings, wasn't it possible that Charles would see that the humans would never treat them right? Looking at Charles' pale, sickly skin right now, Erik couldn't help but think that there was a chance that Charles would agree. After all, if it weren't for the humans and their damned curiosity that Charles had to block, the telepath wouldn't be in this condition.

Still, that was a thought for another day. He would have to wait until Charles woke up. Finding the others likewise, would be easier when Charles woke up.

Erik wasn't quite sure what had happened to the others, but he had a feeling that it wasn't an answer he could discover for himself, anyway. He had planned on asking Charles, but then the media, and then his friend's sudden illness… well, quite frankly, Mystique, Hank, Riptide and all the rest had been pushed to the back of his mind. Erik lived in the world of mutants after all, and there were always strange things happening. Such as a certain idiot risking his life to stop someone from drowning, for instance.

Erik felt his lips quirk upwards at the last thought, and then he shook his head. Yes, come morning, when Charles was awake, they would do something about it. Now though… now he could use some sleep himself.

He let out a soft sigh, and splayed himself across the bed. He hadn't really noticed it before, but his body ached horribly. It was only the contrast of the soft mattress that truly brought it out. Shaw had thrown him around like a Ping-Pong ball before Erik had finally managed to kill him, and the crash from their aircraft hadn't helped matters either. He had no doubt that by next morning, he would be hard pressed to find a patch of skin that wasn't part of one big bruise.

But wounds would heal; they always do. Shaw was gone now, even when Erik had thought that the task would be impossible. All they needed to do now was to ensure that the humans would be gone too, and then he, Charles, and the rest of the kids would be able to live in peace. With that last thought in his mind, Erik Lensherr drifted off to sleep.

There were people screaming.

The skies were black. Dim street lights cast a hazy yellow glow in the surroundings, but other than that there was no source of light. The smog and the haze prominent in these parts covered even the moon. He coughed, holding up an arm to his mouth and trying desperately to breathe through the fabric. The stench of something rotting filled the air, making his eyes water with its intensity.

Out of the corner of his eye he noticed a rat scurry up the side of a torn building, the edges of the wallpaper already peeling away as the yellowing paper finally lost the glue that had held it together. A mixture of rain and too many inhabitants had done the job. Ratty apartments were what filled the streets, and none of them looked much better than the one he had happened to glance at.

In a distance, imperious stone walls towered like an iron age, keeping its prisoners within. He could only see one side of it, but somehow he knew that it surrounded the entire town. He took a step, and then paused as he felt something smoosh underfoot. He looked downwards, and instantly recoiled as he saw what the substance was. Human feces.

It was just then that he registered the screaming again. The sound of frantic footfalls. A woman dashed around the corner, a wailing babe in her arms.

He recoiled in shock at the state of her, though intuitively, he knew he shouldn't have been so surprised, considering the condition of the houses. She was all skin and bones, her flesh practically hanging off her body, despite the fact that she couldn't have been more than thirty. Her clothes were rags, and the only thing substantial about what she had was the cloths she was using for her child's wraps.

She noticed him.

Her eyes wide with terror and yet, a tint of compassion and concern sparkled within. Momentarily she paused, her pale and cracked lips parting, "Run."

He didn't have time to.

A man with short blond hair and a crisp brown uniform barreled past, skidding to a stop in front of them. He grinned, and it was not a nice grin. The woman took a few steps back, her arms tightening around her babe as her breath quickened in fear. It was obvious that this was who she was running away from.

She looked around frantically, obviously thinking of escape, but it was too late for that. When she had slowed down to warn the boy standing idiotically in the middle of the street past curfew, she had forfeited her own right to flee.

"You," the soldier sneered, his voice both disdainful and angry at the same time, "did you think you could get away?"

The woman shivered, glancing at him out of the corner of her eye. "I… no sir."

The soldier shook his head, an almost pitying expression on his face, "That's why I told them they should have just put you guys down. You guys can't understand anything. Can't change your ways. Dunno why the government insists on spending money on these ghettos for you guys. It's not even like a zoo; at least then, the German people can get some enjoyment out of watching the animals."

The woman's eyes flashed, but she kept her head down. She swallowed, her Adam's apple bobbing sharply within her thin throat. "Sir, I did not mean to be out after curfew, truly. It was just… my little Jordan here was really hungry you see, and I'd run out of milk for him…"

A disgusted look flashed across the soldier's face, "There you go again, trying to act like the rest of us. Fuhrer Hitler warned us about your ways. You won't fool me. You've broken a law, and you know what the punishment for rule breaking is."

His face shining cruelly in the moonlight, the solider took a step forwards.

The woman panicked, even her food-deprived mind seeing that there would be no way out of this. The soldier did not want to listen to reason; he wanted to demonstrate his power. She cried out, though she knew that nobody would hear her. Nobody would want to hear her.

He just grinned, and raised a hand.

And then Erik stepped between them.

The soldier's arm faltered, and his grin dropped off his face. He peered down at the boy who had stepped in front of him and his prize with rage. "Boy, if you know what is good for you, I suggest you leave."

Erik simply shook his head. His eyes too, were burning. It had taken him a few minutes to figure out what was going on, and when he did, he was filled with fear. He was back in that time period in which he had been helpless, in which he could do nothing but watch as one by one his countrymen fell. He was back in that time where living had been a nightmare, and every day he burned with the uncertainly of whether his new best friend would die tomorrow or the day after.

He was in the ghetto again, but this time, he wasn't just a boy.

"Why were you chasing this woman?" Erik demanded in a monotone, as if he couldn't care less how the solider answered. Of course, such a thing was far from the truth. The truth was that Erik was burning with so much rage that it was surprising he hadn't combusted already. He knew full well what soldiers did to women whom they caught out after dark. And that thought maddened him.

"I—"The soldier was actually startled to a response, but a moment later he caught his bearings. He sneered, and brought out his gun, bringing it to Erik's head with a click, "are you trying to be a hero, kid? 'Cause let me tell you, when you're defending a monster, you're called a demon, not a hero."

Green eyes narrowed. "Wrong answer."

The gun crinkled, and twisted. It bent and turned, warping as if it were putty in the soldier's hands. The soldier's mouth fell open as he watched his weapon being manipulated as if it were nothing more than a child's plaything. Or more specifically, a particular child's plaything.

"Wh-what?" The soldier stuttered, his own sky blue eyes snapping to Erik's fearfully. "Th-th-this—"

Erik snarled, and was pleased to see that the soldier startled, taking a frightened step backwards. The green eyed male grinned, loving the palpable scent of fear the man gave off. Jade coloured eyes glittered as Erik slowly raised his arms, calling the metal to him. Around him, the street poles started bending, sending flickering shadows of lights across the area.

Erik tilted his chin up and threw his hands up, yelling to the air. The things of metal shook, and out of the corner or his eye Erik saw both the woman and the soldier stumble. Erik grinned, and slowly twisted his neck back down so that he gazed upon the soldier's wide, fearful blue eyes.

"A demon?" He said, pronouncing the words slowly and carefully, an almost lazy tone in his voice. He felt all powerful, completely in control. The soldier would be begging for his life if he could, except that Erik didn't want to hear any of it. He could control what the soldier could do, and he loved the feeling. "Oh but I am so much worse."

And then, with a scream of rage and conviction, he flung his arms towards the soldier.

The things of metal wrenched themselves from the ground, uplifting earth and breaking through walls. Erik didn't care though. He concentrated all his power towards the soldier, whose eyes now were wider than the dead which Erik had to bury, and more fearful than the last look his mother had given him as she tried to tell him it was all going to be alright.

A twisted smile spread across Erik's face, and the metal things flew true.

Lampposts, pipelines, anything that had even the smallest hint of the largest chunk of the periodic table embedded themselves within the soldier at speeds that should have been impossible at this time. The Nazi didn't stand a chance. Within seconds he was skewered like the pig he was, barely recognizable pinned as he was by the long shafts of metal.

Blood spilled out from his mouth, and with a jerk of Erik's fists, the metal came flying back out of him. They clattered to the ground, their tips glinting in the moonlight with fresh blood. The soldier collapsed like a doll, body unable to stand now that what was supporting him was gone.

Erik strode up to the Nazi soldier, green eyes scrutinizing the newly dead man. His eyes were still wide, but they were glassy as opposed to fearful now, death having taken him before his prime. Still, the twisted expression of his face told any passerby that the soldier had not died peacefully, and that in his last moments, he was as much of a coward as he was when he was alive.

This was a man who had caused Erik's people such pain, and now he was laying at Erik's feet, no better than a dog who had to be put down. Erik felt his lips twitch, and unexpectedly, a sense a great irony filled him. This was a Nazis, who thought of the Jews as nothing but powerless animals, and yet it was he who had been sliced like a rabbit with rabies.

Erik threw his head back, and laughed.

He wasn't sure how long he stood there, but finally he remembered that he was not alone, and he had left a stunned Jewish mother not five feet behind him. With a smile, he turned back to look at her.

She was glaring at him.

Erik's smile faltered. And then, it disappeared altogether. He had thought that she would be pleased that he had rescued her, but of course she would be more wary of what he had done to rescue her. Such was human nature.

His voice was dangerous now. "You are scared of what I can do, right?"

"Do not be ridiculous," she spat, the intensity of which surprised him. She shook her head, her long hair swinging past her shoulders. "Yours is a gift of God. I do not know of what it can do, but such a gift only God can give."

Erik blinked, and then his face relaxed back into a smile. He had known it. His people were accepting; they knew.

"But," the woman continued, a note of self righteousness in her voice that Erik thought he distinctly recognized, "you have perverted God's gift."

There was a moment of silence.

"What?" Erik exploded, green eyes flashing as he took a threatening step towards the woman, "What did you say?"

The woman took a step back, her arms tightening around her baby. Erik faltered, realizing what it looked like he was just about to do. His fists tightened, and he backed off. He may disagree with the woman, but he would never resort to physical violence because of that. He only reserved that for people who really deserved it. Besides, there was the baby to consider…

Thankfully, the woman seemed to recognize his intentions, because she didn't take another step back.

"I saved you," he finally said, a note of desperation in his voice. She was one of his people, she should have understood. He had helped her! Why couldn't she accept that? He wasn't sure why he wanted her to see his point of view so much, but he… but he…

"You are," she said, her voice baleful, "no better than him. That soldier, I mean. The Nazis. God teaches love, not murder. I hope you realize that some day."

Erik awoke with a gasp, jerking up from bed. He looked around, eyes wide, searching for the woman in the ghetto. She was not there. Instead, Charles was. Looking at him with concerned blue eyes, the telepath stood at the foot of the double, holding a few folds of clothes in his arms.

"Erik," Charles said, his voice concerned, "Are you alright? Did you have a nightmare? I didn't think you did, which is why I didn't pull you out of it, but by your reaction you—"

"No," Erik gasped out, before Charles could get himself into more of a frenzy. "I'm fine. It wasn't a nightmare, it was…"

Well, he didn't know what it was, but he thought he might have preferred a nightmare. Shakily Erik ran a hand through his hair, finding out at the moment that it had become sticky with sweat. He smiled ruefully a little at that, realizing he would have to take yet another shower.

He glanced at Charles, and realized that the man was looking as immaculate as ever, not a single hair out of place. There was a serene expression on the other mutant's face now, and Erik guessed that Charles had awakened long before he did and had cleaned himself up. And…

"Is that new clothes?" Erik asked greedily.

Charles let out a laugh, his voice sounding lighter than bells. "I figured you wouldn't want to walk around in our X-Men outfits. As amazing as they are, it would unfortunately, draw too much attention."

Erik shook his head slightly at Charles' comment. Only a Harvard graduate would think that those clothes were amazing.

He looked over the new clothes that Charles had gotten for himself. A white button up dress shirt that was practically see-through and comfortable looking black slacks. Erik felt his lips twitch slightly in amusement at the attire; even in the vacation capital it seemed that Charles couldn't get over his need for formality. There was however, a long silver chain that now hung around the brown haired mutant's neck, and Erik found himself nodding at how much it complimented the outfit. It made it look much more casual, and a lot less nerdy. It was a touch that Erik himself would have added.

Finally, his eyes fell upon the blue and black fabric Charles held in his arms. "Those had better be for me."

"Oh I don't know," Charles said teasingly, blue eyes twinkling, "I rather think that the girls would dig you in a torn and body-tight yellow suit, don't you?"

Erik growled softly; so Charles did know that the outfits Hank had fashioned was a big fashion no-no. "Charles, if you don't give me those clothes on the count of three, I'm going to undo your zipper at the most inappropriate time."

Something in Charles' eyes flashed, and, completely out of character, he tensed. Erik frowned, his brows furrowing at the odd movement. And then, he too tensed as he realized what Charles must be thinking of.

"I'll return this favour to you then, shall I? Shaw, if you're still in there, pay very close attention. On the count of three…"

"Charles…" he started, not quite knowing what to say, and wondering if it would always be like this between them, now. Wondering if they would never be able to banter contentedly without bringing up painful memories.

"It's fine Erik," Charles quickly interrupted, before smiling weakly. "Though I never should have suggested that bra straps and flies were made of metal too, should I?"

Erik shook his head, smiling ruefully as Charles changed the subject. He knew that Charles knew that Erik would never be the one to initiate a discussion like this, and if Charles deemed it better to be left alone, then Erik could only follow his lead. "No, you shouldn't have. I wouldn't mind more suggestions like that in the future, though."

Charles laughed, and Erik ignored the strained edge to it. The blue eyed mutant handed the clothing to Erik, and Erik was pleased to see that it wasn't something he wouldn't wear.

"I thought you only knew how to pick out sweaters with the word M5GX GENE stitched out on it."

"Just because I don't like your style Erik, doesn't mean I don't know what it is."

Erik couldn't help but be touched by this small revelation, though of course it was hardly the most moving thing Charles had done for him. Once again Erik was reminded of how much he owed the other man.

He slid on the clothes, and sighed happily at the smooth and comfortable fabric.

"I bet you made some cashiers very happy with the amount of money you spent," Erik mused, his fingers running over the edge of his shirt. It was obviously very expensive.

To his surprise, Charles blushed.

"Ah well actually," the rich heir murmured, "I didn't have any money on me. You see, our suits don't exactly give us much room to put things in."

Erik felt his eyebrows rise to his hairline, and he couldn't help the tone of amusement that his voice took. Really he couldn't. "You stole? Charles Xavier stole from somebody?"

Charles huffed, a wry smile on his face, "Don't sound so surprise Erik. It's not like I'm never planning to pay them back. Once we find Raven and the others, I'll convince Hank to take us back here again."

"Hm," was all Erik said in reply, purposefully making sure his tone sounded disbelieving. He swung his legs over the edge of the bed and arose in one swift motion, patting down his pants. They were still rather pressed, as was characteristic of newly bought clothes. "Anyway, I guess we'll have to find Raven and the others first, right? Any idea where they are?"

Charles shook his head, "None, although…"

The Harvard graduate hesitated.

"Although…?" Erik pressed. The hesitation was uncharacteristic of Charles, but Charles had been doing a lot of uncharacteristic things today.

"Although," Charles bit his lip, "this is going to sound crazy, but Erik… I wonder if we're still in the same place that we thought we were?"

Erik just blinked.

Charles chuckled, running a hand through his hair, "Sorry my friend, that didn't explain anything, did it? What I meant was… when I was walking around earlier this morning, trying to find some clothing for us, I noticed some very unusual things. Technology that doesn't exist. Either Cuba's been hiding out and is actually more advanced than America, or, or..."

"Or what?"

"Or… I don't know, really."

"Then," Erik said firmly, "the best thing we can do is to take a walk and find out."

The two of them made it out of the hotel with relative ease. They did attract some looks, but Erik could tell that those looks were more appreciative than suspicious.

The hotel was spacious, although not as spacious as Charles' mansion. They decided that staying inside would be the best option, seeing as all that was outside were forests and the sea. Charles pointed out the store he had visited to buy his and Erik's new clothes; one of the many of the small shops lined against the interior of the hotel's first floor. There was also a food court located at the end. It was like a mall.

"Well it has to have everything," Charles explained, "seeing as there are no other signs of civilization for miles."

"You're right," Erik said with a frown as they passed by yet another man talking rapidly on what seemed to be a better designed version of a walky-talky, "they do have technology that I've never seen."

"Did you doubt me?" Charles teased.

Erik waved a hand, "Not that, but I had expected small things. These things… is like the stuff that Hank makes for us, except in mass production. How…?"

Charles sighed, "That's a question I would like to know the answer of. I think I'll have to do a deeper reading. Let's go to the food court."

Erik nodded in agreement, instantly seeing what Charles intended to do. They walked languidly over to the dining area, knowing that it would only look suspicious if they hurried. They picked out a two-seater. The Harvard graduate hmmed, and slid his elbow on top of the table, then leaned forward and put two fingers to his forehead as if thinking. He closed his eyes.

A moment passed.

Suddenly Charles jerked backwards, a soft gasp escaping his lips as his blue eyes fluttered open. The chair screeched, and was almost knocked over. A few people glanced their way, but a combination of Erik's glare and the apologetic smile of Charles Xavier had them turning back.

"What," Erik said tensely, leaning forward with narrowed eyes, "was that?"

Charles' small smile slid off his face. "Something impossible."

Erik simply gave Charles an unamused look. Sometimes he thought the blue eyed mutant derived too much pleasure from being mysterious.

Charles held up a finger, "Hold up."

And then, he got up, and started walking towards one of the stores. The convenience store, if Erik was reading it right.

Erik also slid out of his chair, deciding to follow his graduate friend.

Charles shot him a weary look, but not an unwelcoming one. "I thought I told you to stay put? It'll only take a minute."

"You said 'hold up'," Erik replied easily as he fell into step beside Charles, "and I am holding up, in a way. Doesn't necessarily mean I have to stay there."

Charles mock-glared at Erik, "My friend, be very careful, or else you'll get as annoying as me with your comments soon."

Erik chuckled at that. They stopped, having gotten to the entrance of the convenience store. "So, what are you doing?"

Charles laughed weakly, "I'm doing a confirmation that I'm not crazy. Or at least, the lady whom I read wasn't crazy." His eyes slid over to the newsstand, and once again Charles let out a soft gasp, "So it's true, then."

Curious, Erik looked that way too… and paused. The first thing that caught his attention was the headline and name of the company, as newspapers were meant to do. The second thing was—

"That's not right," Erik blurted out before he could help himself. His mind was shut down, blank. He couldn't comprehend. But even as the words passed his lips, he couldn't help but piece it all together. Their strange arrival at the beach, the weird technology, and Charles' strange reaction…

"Oh you know it is, my friend."

Erik wanted to argue, but Charles' one sentence stopped all signs of rebellion. He trusted Charles above all else, and if Charles said that it was true, then how could it be false? Sure Charles screwed up on the morality stuff, but there was no one better to trust with the facts of things. Erik took a breath as he stared at the date on the newspaper, forcing himself to accept it, and accept all its implications.

They were somehow, unbelievably, in the future.

"How…?" Erik started faintly, "how is this possible?"

A thoughtful expression crossed Charles' face. "I'm not sure, but perhaps… perhaps when I overextended myself trying to go past Shaw's helmet, I overextended the boundaries of our world."

Erik was no dummy, and even if he wasn't a Harvard graduate like Charles, he could connect the dots. "That wormhole you mentioned earlier. It didn't just send us through space, did it?"

"No," Charles replied with a wry smile, "I don't think it did. You don't want me to get into all the technical details, do you?"

Erik shook his head. He was still having a hard time believing this, but on the technical stuff, Charles had never led him wrong before.

"And," Charles continued, his eyes gaining a faraway look in them, "it looks like someone else has noticed our intrusion, too."

Erik looked sharply at his friend, "Who…?"

Charles held up a finger, "Wait, I don't think they mean us harm. Come Erik, let's not startle the vacationers."

Erik let out something that might have sounded like a huff, but gave no verbal response. Charles smiled at him, taking that as an agreement, and headed for the hotel lobby. Erik rolled his eyes and followed after the Harvard graduate, though he made sure to snap a piece of metal from the convenience store before he did so.

He trusted Charles' abilities, but he also knew that his more tempered friend didn't like to read beyond the surface of another's thoughts if he could help it. While Erik doubted that anyone with ill intentions could escape Charles' radar, he didn't think that there was anything wrong with having some… insurance.

They reached the lobby and then went beyond, exiting the cool air conditioned interior of the hotel. They walked back over the long lane leading to the hotel, except they were traversing in the opposite direction this time. Back to the forest.

"Charles?" Erik said in a questioning tone.

"Not here," Charles replied, smiling mysteriously. "A little further. Let's go meet our guests, shall we?"

Erik might have crossed his arms and stopped walking, demanding to know exactly whom they were going to meet before continuing, but he knew that such an act would get him nowhere. Erik knew that the only way to get information was to let Charles pretend that he was some grand omnipotent being who could annoy the life out of anyone he chose.

By the twitch of Charles' lips, Erik knew that the professor had heard that thought.

Good.

They once again cleared a pathway through the forest, though of course, they went a completely different route this time. By the position of the sun, Erik could tell that they were not heading back towards that beach.

They walked in comfortable silence, neither feeling the need to fill it with pointless chatter. Erik knew that Charles wouldn't diverge any real information about their supposed 'visitors' before the main event. Despite looking for all purposes like a naïve little boy, Charles knew all about big entrances and dazzling performances. There was a reason that when they had gone to collect all the mutants for the CIA, they hadn't just come right out and told the teens the reason they were there. Nope, Charles had his dark side too.

Erik didn't need to be a mind reader to know that Charles derived some pleasure from watching people squirm.

"That's not true," Charles muttered, having obviously heard that thought.

"You're just as sick as the rest of us, you just won't admit it." Erik retorted playfully. And then, he froze. Above him, to the east, he felt something so big and wondrous that it shook his bones. He let out a gasp, and his head whirled towards Charles almost of its own accord. "Is that…?"

"So it looks like you know now," Charles said in slight disappointment. "I thought that maybe you would feel it, but I still hoped… well, at least I'll still get to surprise our guests, hmm?"

"And you're denying that you derive pleasure from being mysterious," Erik said incredulously, shaking his head.

"Ah well, when all your college buddies talk about are genes and how they interact, you've got to make some of your own fun."

Erik stopped, his head snapping to Charles so quickly it was a wonder his neck didn't snap, "Did you just say that sometimes you get bored of talking about genes? You?"

"Pleasure from being mysterious?" Charles asked, not stopping his walk. He looked back at Erik, a twinkle in his eyes, "I think being surprising is better, don't you?"

Erik blinked, and then shook his head. He started walking again, easily catching up with the Harvard graduate. "You were messing with me."

Charles only hummed in reply.

They stopped at the edge of a large clearing in the forest. The humming got louder, and the feel in Erik's bones were so intense it was almost painful. But of course, that feeling was never painful. Always pleasurable, and always something that was just there. He wouldn't want it to be any other way.

But he saw nothing.

"Charles what—"

"Erik," Charles said softly, touching metal manipulator's shoulder, "trust your instincts."

Erik took a deep breath, and nodded. He closed his eyes, forcing himself to relax and forget the world around him. He felt for what he knew was there, even when his senses were telling him differently.

Black eyes furrowed as the screech of metal became ever closer, even though intellectually knew he that there was no way something that big could be so close without them seeing it. Still… he knew he wasn't wrong, and Charles didn't seem to think that he was wrong either.

Erik opened his eyes, just in time to see some sort of plane shimmer into existence not fifty feet above their heads.

"Oh hell," Erik muttered.

"More like heaven," Charles replied in an amused tone, "seeing as the aircraft is descending from above, and heaven is the realm that is more associated with the sky."

"How did…?"

"Some sort of cloaking device," Charles murmured softly, evidently knowing exactly what Erik was planning to say before he said it. "They don't want the Cuban government to know that they're here, apparently. I guess Castro never did give up Cuba like the American government seemed to think that he would."

The aircraft touched down softly on the clearing, sending up torrents of warm wind and debris. Erik felt his hair fly as the large jet made a landing, before the engines seemed to shut down, making it safe for the riders to come out.

"Now then," Charles said with a wink at Erik, "let's give our visitors a warm welcome, seeing as they came all this way for us."

Without giving the metal manipulator a chance to reply, Charles skipped over to the door of the aircraft, just as it hissed open. The entranceway steamed, and hollowed metal stairs descended from the man made hole. Charles stopped at the foot of it.

"Ahoy there!" The telepath called up, waving at the people inside with one arm. He quickly glanced over at Erik, signaling for him to come join the university professor. Erik let out a little, semi-annoyed, semi-exasperated sigh, and did as his friend asked.

Two figures descended from the shadowy interior. One was a female, with a lithe figure and snow white hair. The other was a bulky male with a scowling face. His face seemed familiar; was he perhaps a descendent of someone Erik knew?

And then, the smoke faded, and it became very clear what they were wearing.

Black and red spandex with a large X on the chest. Erik couldn't help but roll his eyes. So the newcomers were their future allies, and they somehow still hadn't developed a fashion sense. Greeeaat.

"Hello," the female said, her voice high and clear, "you need not to be afraid. We are like you. I do not know what troubles you two have—"

She suddenly stopped mid-sentence, a startled look flashing across her face. From Charles' amused grin (though it was very subtle, of course), Erik could tell that the telepath had just communed through the female's mind.

Charles cleared his throat, signaling that the private conversation was over. His blue eyes were twinkling, "So, may we meet Professor Charles Xavier?"

Erik startled at the request, and the female narrowed her eyes. She looked towards the bulky man, who only shrugged in response.

"You're having too much fun with this," Erik murmured.

"There's no such thing as too much fun," Charles whispered in reply.

Finally, the woman nodded. "Alright. Get in the jet."

Charles nodded jauntily, and took a step towards the foldable stairs. He was stopped by a sudden hand on his arm, courtesy of Erik.

"Are you sure we should be doing this?" Erik asked in a low voice, bringing his head close to Charles so that they could whisper without being heard. From the narrowing of the bulky man's eyes however, it seemed as if they were heard anyway.

Erik turned slightly towards the bulky man, frowning. He hadn't been paying much attention to it before, thinking that the metal that surrounded him came from the large jet, but now he could see that it was not the case. That man… for some reason, he had metal within him, and a lot of it.

The green eyed mutant licked his lips, sensing something different about that metal now that he concentrated on it. It felt… better, somehow, than the regular substances. More pure, more intense.

"Well that's interesting," Charles muttered, bringing Erik's attention back to the telepath. "Yes, we can trust them. You've already figured out who they are, right?"

"Still…"

"I shuffled through their minds. They mean us no harm. And even if they do, we can escape easily, don't you think?"

Erik thought about that for a moment. Yes, it was true. Charles and he were the perfect pair, each covering each other's weaknesses. They would never lose when they fought together. Where telepathy could be blocked there was always metal present to send the distracted enemy sprawling, and in places where no metal dwelled the mind was always vulnerable.

The metal manipulator didn't even bother to nod. He didn't need to. He climbed the stairs to the aircraft. Charles smiled faintly, and walked up after him.

The trip was made in relative silence. In the pilot seats, Storm and Wolverine (they had introduced themselves as such, and Erik approved of their names) whispered quietly to each other. Erik couldn't hear what they were saying, but he didn't mind. It would be nothing of importance to him, anyway. They were clearly not the leaders of their group.

Charles was sitting quietly in his seat with his head back and eyes closed, no doubt shuffling through somebody's mind. Erik didn't disturb him; he knew how important it was for Charles to get acquainted with all the information he could, especially if this were the future. Who knew how technology had evolved, and how it could be used against them?

That left Erik to dwell on his own thoughts.

They were… in the future, there was no doubt of that now. When they had first boarded the aircraft of the new Xmen, Erik had instantly seen how developed the technology was. While he was no Hank or Charles, he did know how to drive and he did know how much mere humans could manipulate metal. These Xmen had gone beyond that.

As unbelievable and insane as it sounded, he and Charles were some forty years out of their timestream.

They would have to find a way back, of course. Charles would insist. He wouldn't want to leave Mystique behind. For Erik, it wouldn't have mattered, as the only one who mattered to him was here with him, but emotional attachments aside, it would be more beneficial to go back to the past.

Forty years was a long time, and Erik was not sure how much had changed in such a long period. He was sure that Charles would fill him in later, but it wouldn't be the same. Perhaps thought processes had changed, and as he had already seen with the technology, Erik was ill-equipped to deal with things in the 2000s. He could adapt, oh definitely he could, but the time it required for him to become comfortable in this new world would set back his plans greatly. It would simply be easier to go back to their main timeline.

Hours passed and he did not notice, too busy contemplating the changes and what had brought them. Finally, Charles' voice brought him out of his thoughts.

"Erik," the Harvard graduate breathed, his tone amazed but demanding, "look! Look at this!"

He was pointing out of a window, and it was then that Erik noticed that the jet was descending. Wherever they were going, they had arrived. Either that, or the jet needed to refuel.

Erik's eyes widened.

Below them was Xavier mansion. Someone despite the fact that it was the 'Xmen' that had brought them and it obviously a jet of Hank's design, Erik hadn't thought that they would be coming here. Coming to the place he had started tentatively thinking of as home.

But here it was, Charles' house. And yet, something more than Charles' house. There seemed to be a swimming pool and a… basketball court? There were wings built that were never there before, and a large plaque on the gate. Erik squinted, and distinctly he could make out 'Professor Charles Xavier's School for the Gifted'. He felt his breath catch.

"There are minds," Charles whispered, a note of wonder in his voice, "so many minds. Erik this… this is more than I could have ever hoped for. Oh my friend, we have succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."

Wolverine, manning the controls up front, glanced back at them sharply, "What do you mean by that?"

Charles blinked, snapped out of his serene trance by Wolverine's harsh voice. He smiled, "It'll all be explained very soon, Logan. As soon as we meet your Professor X, I'm sure everything will become crystal clear."

Wolverine's eyes widened, and then narrowed, "Are you reading my mind?"

He was obviously not pleased with such a fact. A stricken look crossed Charles face, and he opened his mouth to respond, but Erik beat him to it.

"It is his gift," Erik said coolly, crossing his arms and leaning back against his chair. Charles hesitated, looking for a moment as if he were about to refute Erik, but then his body language smoothed out, once again deciding for the compromise rather than the argument. "He can use it however he wants."

"You don't see me going around beating people up just 'cause I'm good at it," Wolverine sneered, before turning back to the controls.

"Oh I don't know," the female, Storm, murmured, "if I recall correctly Wolverine, you do go around beating people up because you're good at it."

"Shut it," the bulky mutant grumbled.

Charles' lips twitched. Erik couldn't help his from twitching as well.

To Erik's surprise, it was the basketball court that was the landing site. Or rather, what was inside the basketball court. The twin sides of the playing area opened as they descending to reveal an intricate landing area; a hang glider fit for the military. Then again, Charles owned many things that the military could only dream of getting.

Still, Erik mused, it was rather unsafe for the basketball court of all places to house a jet. Especially in what was supposedly a school. Then again, Charles' definition of safety had always been a bit skewed.

Storm led them up to the ground floor, twisting past many hallways and corners. Having spent more time at Charles' manor than any other dwelling place, Erik found that he was easily able to map where they were going. Seeing the amused look in Charles' eyes, Erik guessed that the Harvard graduate was thinking the same.

Finally they stopped in front of the door to the study. Wolverine had already left them as soon as they had entered the house, muttering something about not wanting to be stuck with babysitting duty.

Storm rolled her eyes, subtly of course, and opened the door to the study. It was almost exactly as Erik remembered it, with the exception of everything being within sitting distance. And it only took him a moment to realize why.

Erik felt his breath catch as his eyes finally landed on the figure sitting in the center of the room. His back was turned to them, but there was not a doubt that it was Charles. Despite the lack of hair and formal suit, there could be no one else. It wasn't the changes forty years had wrought upon his friend that Erik stopped short however; it was what Charles of the future was sitting on.

"You're—" Erik couldn't continue, almost choking on the words. "How?"

The figure in the wheelchair sighed, his body slumping with the motion. Hands on his wheels, he turned himself around, so that he was facing them directly. There was no doubt about it now. The life filled blue eyes told Erik that it was indeed his best friend, and not some apparition of a nightmare. "Ororo, you may leave us now. Thank you for bringing them here."

Storm, whom Erik could only assume to be Ororo, hesitated. "Professor…"

"Don't worry." The one in the wheelchair interrupted gently. There was an amused twinkle in his eyes that Erik knew all too well, "I am perfectly safe with these two."

Still not looking totally confident, Storm exited the room, shutting the door behind her.

There was a moment of silence, in which the three of them just gazed at each other.

It was Charles that broke the silence.

"Well," the Harvard graduate said, his voice light, "this is confusing. I'm thinking of myself as Charles and you as Charles. Do you think I might have some identity crisis problem later on?"

The sixty some year old man laughed. "I certainly hope not, because that would be me, you realize. You may refer to me as Professor X, if you'd like."

Erik could live with that, though he couldn't help but roll his eyes good naturedly at that older Charles' choice of names. When the group of teenagers had first proposed the 'mutant names' thing Erik had thought it was ridiculous, but on the Cuban beach he had been all prepared to become Magneto. It was still pretty ridiculous, but if Erik were honest with himself, he knew that he couldn't think of anything better.

"And I did turn bald after all," Charles lamented, touching his own hair like he was afraid it was just going to disappear on him in that instant.

"Yes, unfortunately so," Professor X sighed, "I tried everything, from hair potions to eating asparagus, but nothing worked."

Charles nodded sadly, and then he got down to business. Usually he wouldn't have been so abrupt, but Erik supposed that even Charles wasn't too worried about offending… well, himself, really. "So you know why we're here."

Professor X shook his head, "I only know that you are here. I was hoping that you could enlighten me on how you two ended up splashed all over the news as two mutants who seemingly appeared out of nowhere."

Charles hummed, and looked at Erik. Erik nodded; he knew what his partner wanted.

Charles took a deep breath, and began to explain everything. Hearing it the second time around did not make it any less mystifying or astonishing for Erik. In fact, it made him more amazed, now that he had time to actually think about the mechanics and possibilities of it outside of 'we're in the future, we're in the future!'.

"Hmm," Professor X hummed when Charles ended with them meeting the Xmen, "most interesting."

"Is it not?" Charles asked almost dreamily, "I suppose that this didn't happen with your timeline?"

Professor X cocked a brow, "And why do you say that?"

Charles smiled mysteriously, "We all have our ways."

There was a moment of silence, in which the two telepaths simply stared at each other serenely.

"I am not going to listen to this," Erik muttered, breaking the 'who's is bigger' contest the two seemed to be having. "You two are not going to try and out-mystify each other."

Charles blinked, and then he threw back his head, and laughed.

Professor X just smiled in amusement, though Erik could see a tint of sadness in that smile. "Very amusing. Well, I must say that I would win such a contest hands down. After all, I do have forty years more of experience."

"And yet I still have stumped you," Charles said teasingly, "but I will enlighten you to your loss. I knew that this couldn't have happened with you –or at least, not that you remember— because Erik here noted how surprised you appeared when I mentioned melting the helmet."

Erik shook his head in amusement at his friend's words. Charles may be able to read facial expressions as well as a fruit fly, but that boy really knew how to use his powers to his advantage. It was true of course; he had been watching Professor X's reactions as much as he was listening to exactly what Charles was diverging during the retelling, and now he knew that Charles had read all his thoughts. It was necessary at this time, so even if Erik wasn't Erik he still would have consented; they needed to know everything they could about their situation.

"Ah," Professor X's half-appraising, half-assessing eyes landed on Erik, making the metal manipulator furrow his brows. Charles had never looked at him like that, and it made him wonder what had happed to the future Charles to make him appear so cynical. "Of course."

"Talking about Erik," Charles mused, "where is he? The future him, I mean."

Erik tensed, his good mood vanishing. Thinking of his intentions which hadn't changed despite everything, that dream that he had… he wasn't sure if he wanted the answer.

Professor X's cool blue gaze seemed to peer deep into his soul, making Erik's skin crawl, before finally, finally, the old and bald but somehow more powerful version of his friend turned his gaze away. Professor X let out a sigh, a deep sorrow in his voice that Erik had never heard in Charles before. "Are you sure you want the answer?"

Now it was Charles who tensed.

There was another long stretch of silence, and this one wasn't amusing by any means.

"Yes," Charles said finally, staunchly. "I would like to know."

He glanced at Erik, blue eyes wondering.

Erik gritted his teeth, and took a breath. He knew what Charles was asking, and what he was offering. Charles would consent to not listening to the future if Erik willed it, but Erik knew that such an action was futile. He knew that he must have done some pretty awful things, especially with the way Professor X was looking at him, but it was not something he could avoid. Nor, he realized, did he want to. When he spoke, his voice was barely above a mutter, "I too."

Professor X bowed his head in consent. "Very well then. I will not tell you everything, understand, because that would take much too long, and I take it that you two are tired already. No, not in body, but in mind. You have had much to take in over these last few hours.

"We were very good friends, Erik and I. We always had our differences in opinion of course, but we continued to be friends. Actually, Erik and I—excuse me, I mean, future Erik and I— are still very good friends. However, that does not mean we agree on everything."

Professor X took a deep breath, a misty look entering his eyes. "You say you just came from Cuba? Well, in the original timeline, that is to say, my timeline, I was not able to send both himself and Erik to the future. Things escalated, and the Cuba incident ended up with Erik and I separating, each with our own method of helping the mutant populace.

"Eventually, we made up again, and actually worked together to stop a variety of common enemies. It was then that we realized that we could never stop being friends, and that in fact, we did not want to. Still, our opinions on how the mutant-human relationship should be handled did not change, even if we became better at hiding our opinions around each other.

"Finally, a year and a half ago, Erik tried something… disastrous. He wanted to turn New York City into mutants with a machine that he had built, but what he didn't know was that the machine didn't work, and that the artificially made mutants would die right after they were created. He even kidnapped an innocent mutant girl to work the machine, even though it would result in her death.

"In the end I had to send my Xmen to stop him, and stopped him they did. Regrettably it ended in two deaths, but many more did it save. The girl was recovered, and Erik was sent to prison. He was there until just six months ago, when he broke out again. Where he is now I don't know, for he still wears that helmet that blocks my telepathic transmissions and I, unlike you, have not found a way to melt it yet."

Professor X finished with a smile at his younger counterpart, and Erik was surprised to see the normally unflappable Charles blush a little.

"Ah," Charles said, "Ah, well that was…"

Even Charles, who could think of a joke in a life and death situation, was left speechless.

"It is late," Professor X said suddenly. "You two have a lot to take in. Shall I show you two your rooms?"

Erik hesitated, and almost subconsciously, glanced down at Professor X's wheelchair.

Professor X only looked at him amusedly, though there was a hint of something else in his eyes. Something that Erik wasn't sure about.

You forget, Professor X's voice came booming in Erik's mind, that although I am not the friend you know, I have all his gifts.

And then images came rushing into Erik's mind. A turn there, a flight up the stairs here, two doors down the hallway, and there! The whole setup of the new Xavier mansion was in his mind; or at least, the paths leading to the empty rooms were. The rest was still blank black spots. Selective memory giving.

"Ah," Erik said, a little dazed as the information settled in his brain. He turned to Charles, shaking his head slightly in an attempt to snap out of it. "I didn't know you could do that."

Charles was looking rather glazed over too. He turned to look at Professor X curiously. "That's because I can't do that."

There was a question in that statement.

"You will learn," Professor X said in slightly amusement. "Like I said, I have forty years of experience on you. Talking about learning… I have a proposition for you."

"Well, considering that it'd be rather stupid to try and cheat yourself, this should be good," Charles joked.

Professor X laughed. "Well it is not bad, certainly. No, not bad at all. You two need a way home, correct? Well, I might have the technology to figure out how to go about sending the two of you home, but that will take some time. I'm not sure how long you two will stay here, and I'd rather not have two very bored and very creative young adults in the house with nothing to do…"

Charles and Erik shared a grin, and Professor X just shook his head in amusement.

"As you know," Professor X continued, clearing his throat, "I run a school. I'll call Hank back to work on the wormhole, but in the meantime, would you like to help me out… as teachers?"

"Teachers?" Charles seemed startled, but pleased. Still, his common sense won out over his desires, as it very often did. "But wouldn't that be too much of a hassle? I mean, you've probably all got positions and everything…"

"Actually," Professor X's eyes turned sad, "We've recently lost one of our teachers, and another has become indisposed. We're a little short handed right now, and it'd be very helpful if you two could step in and help. If I remember correctly, no one has learned so quickly as our first class."

The last part was said almost teasingly.

Charles laughed, "Alright then. We'll do it. Won't we, Erik?"

Erik nodded, and then paused. He had to ask. "That teacher… did they die because of humans?"

Beside him, Charles tensed, and Erik sent a silent apology. He knew that it was the last thing Charles wanted to hear about right now, but he needed to know.

Professor X hesitated, making Erik narrow his eyes. And then, the older man shook his head, his voice sad. "It was the work of an extremist. It is by no means, a reflection on human kind. In fact, as a result of his extremist actions which neither side wanted, the mutant and homo sapiens communities have grown even closer."

Erik opened his mouth, not entirely convinced, but Charles gentle hand on his shoulder stopped him. He turned to look at the younger telepath, whose blue eyes were shining with sorrow and just a hint of desperation.

"Leave it, please," Charles said softly, "we're both tired. Let's discuss mutant politics when we're not as strained as we are now. We might end up saying things that we'll both regret."

Erik hesitated, then nodded. Yes, he could do that for Charles. They bade goodbye to Professor X, then headed towards their rooms. They were on the fifth floor, which was only one floor away from the roof. Apparently there were no students on this floor, and Erik was just fine with that. Actually…

"He gave us our old rooms," Erik murmured, looking around. Even without the newly inserted memory Professor X had implanted within him, he recognized the place as thoroughly as the back of his hand. The room that Professor X had given him was exactly the same room that Charles had given him when he first arrived at Xavier manor.

"And he gave me my room too," Charles said in wonder, "I would have thought he would have kept it."

Erik looked down, an uncomfortable tone in his voice, "Maybe… he can't get up here anymore. After all he's…"

There was a pregnant pause, as they both reflected on Professor X's condition and what that had to mean.

"Well," Charles finally said, his voice deceptively light, "Us being here means that this future will never happen, right? I mean, bit catastrophic changes will come around because of the ripple effect, and now the chances of what happened here happening where we came from is minimal."

That was… right.

Erik looked up, his green eyes filled with wonder as he realized something. Charles words struck him, but it was his friend's smiling face that really did it. They had apparently been separated in Professor X's timeline, but now that they were here, such a thing was unlikely to happen. Erik would not let it happen.

Charles, so decrepit and old, so helpless and sad in his wheelchair… no, Erik would see to it that such a future would never come to pass. They had to be sent here to this specific time for a reason. He had a real chance to change things.

They would be alright. They were going to be alright.

Yes he had hurt Charles when he had killed Shaw, and he had betrayed Charles by putting on that helmet. He knew that. He still didn't regret it. He knew that Charles would never have agreed to what he planned to do with Shaw and later on, the US soldiers. Charles didn't see then, and Erik didn't delude himself into thinking that Charles saw now.

But this… this was a different situation entirely. Professor X had not told them everything, that much was for certain. When Erik had questioned him on mutant rights, Professor X had been strangely reluctant. That meant that mutants were not treated as equals in society, and it meant that Erik was right.

Now, forty some years into the future, Erik had a chance to show Charles that pacifism wouldn't work. And then, when Charles recognized how devastating not taking action against the humans was, Erik would be there to help Charles find the right path. They would be together, and quite frankly, unstoppable.

In this timeline, he was Magneto and Charles was Professor X. By this point they could have destroyed the humans already, but instead they were too busy destroying each other. And look where that had gotten them.

But everything would change now, because Charles had unexpectedly brought them here. Seeing the future would not leave them unchanged. The Brotherhood and the Xmen…

That was the past, and this was the present.


A/n: Erik is… a mixture of guilt, anger, tenderness, and that dangerous soldier mentality. And of course, his very own personality quirks too (such as his childish excitement at getting shot, pushing Sean off the satellite dish, etc). He is slightly easier to write than Charles, but I still found myself rewriting this chapter five times xD I was surprised at the reception of the first chapter, and it has truly inspired me to write this second one although I wasn't planning on it. I'm a snail at writing though, so don't expect the next one for a long, long time. But I hoped you liked the length of this one!