Rating: PG (this part) / R (probably, in the future)
Genre: drama, romance, angst
Warnings: uh, none so far
Word Count: 4000 (this part)
Summary: Wherein the world decides to deal with mutants with utter segregation. All mutants are placed on Genosha, and all children are tested at birth for the mutant gene, and sent to Genosha if they have it, to be adopted by other mutants. Years later, Charles Xavier's parents bribe officials to keep their child, and he grows up utterly alone in a human world. But all that changes ...
A/N: My knowledge of the comics is limited to what I've learned in fanfic. My only other source is the movies, so expect a lot of AU-ness here. Also, for the purposes of this story, telepaths are rare.
I expect to finish this story in three parts or so, and have it plotted out.
Feedback is loved!
Charles is three and sitting on the grass outside the estate the first time his mother explains what he is. She speaks in a low and soft voice, saying that sometimes children are born different, with unique talents, and Charles is one of them. His father's voice echoes for a long moment in his memory, like the echo of then Charles need to keep you safe Charles you're special oh Charles, and this part Charles does remember clearly, his mother's voice like a bell in his mind: "They wanted to take you away, baby. We couldn't let them - you're our darling boy, and we'll always love you."
Charles' talent develops early. As an infant, he cries only if he knows his parents can hear. He waits for their minds to wake to make his own needs known, and his first stumbling words are in answer to silence and mental chaos. By two he projects entire words, accompanied by pictures and sound and feeling, and he stops making sounds, stops talking. His parents, ultimately, must ignore every mental request, even the request for food, until Charles speaks out loud. His first spoken word is 'Dada', the request to be held. It takes his parents, they tell him later, three weeks to break him of the habit of mental projections.
By the time he is five, they allow him to project again, because he speaks in perfect and complete sentences at the developmental level of a ten year old, and he needs to practice.
Charles knows, of course, their fears. He can hear them thinking and planning and researching, but the knowledge of telepathy is often limited to fiction in the human world.
Every other child like Charles lives on Genosha, and nothing comes out of Genosha. They trade with other countries, have their own army, and they are as utterly insular as the American government had hoped when it created the island with the help of five mutants, making it rise from the sea. They pushed every mutant living at the time to go there. At birth, every child in the rest of the human world is tested, and if the test is positive for the mutant gene, the child is sent there to be adopted by its own kind.
Brian and Sharon Xavier bribe the officer and three others, to make Charles' test disappear. They pay eleven million to keep their child.
Until he is seven, he is not allowed off the Westchester estate. They fear for his sanity, knowing that telepaths must learn to block others from their minds. They make Charles practice and practice, and extend his range.
Charles feels it when his father dies of a horsing accident, and when he runs to his mother crying, he says, "Daddy's quiet!"
Terrified and alone, Sharon takes Charles to the city when he's eight, as a test. Hide, she says, hide your mind from theirs. He holds the minds off for nearly an hour, before he screams and loses consciousness. Sometime during that, she meets Kurt Marko, who seems so kind.
That is the beginning of the end.
Charles knows, of course, but his mother doesn't listen. She's lost in grief and loneliness, drowned in alcohol.
First, his nanny, knowing of his talent, dies in a car accident in Florida. The maid/cook, the only other help Sharon and Brian had allowed, dies of old age, loyal to the family at the last, and she went in her bed, in Charles' sleep, for which he's grateful. Charles knows through the lawyer firm that the person bribed at his birth also dies a natural death, lung cancer from years of smoking; the other three don't know the test result was altered, only providing access to the necessary documents.
Charles hears it when his mother begins to struggle for breath. He runs and runs, and that's all, a silent door in front of his face. "You're special," Charles whispers to no one.
By the time Charles is twelve, no one in the world knows he is a mutant.
Charles sits with a dozen others in the office, a non-profit mostly run by college students, walls covered with propaganda and notes about future meetings, carpet flat and stained by years of dirt tracked in, but the minds here, they shine bright.
" - maybe they want segregation, maybe they don't," Alicia is saying, sitting on the floor with the rest of them. She's an artist (drawings flow into life in her head, beautiful and abstract sometimes, other times messily accurate; she's even drawn him in her head, eyes intensely blue and the rest of him a bare sketch). She's blond, younger than him, but most of these are, still in college while Charles has his PhD in genetics. He can't properly specialize in genetic mutation, of course, because data on that has been mostly cut off since the sixties and fear of Genosha means that the DNA profile of infants handed over is not recorded, but he learned everything he could; evolutionary biology was a logical minor. "But they should be given the option instead of confined to a single island!"Alicia finishes in the space of Charles' thought.
Mutant Rights, with the perhaps misleading subtitle of, Mutants Are Humans Too. This is probably the only place Charles begins to feel normal; Oxford had one of these, too, and Charles was a member there, the faint accent he received from his mother brought back to life in those years. Of course, their knowledge of mutants is entirely theoretical. Charles has thought about telling them, telling someone, telling anyone, but it dies in his throat every time, fear gutting him and taking his breath away. His parents never failed to tell him that he had to hide.
"I think if they wanted to, they could," Charles says. "Not that I'm disagreeing, but the abilities that were recorded before Genosha - it's not like humans could do much to stop them, I think."
Daniel snorts and nods. "Like the mutant that made the whole damn thing rise from the ocean."
"I wonder if they have population control," Sarah says. "I mean, they're confined to such a small area."
"It's about the size of Japan," Daniel points out. "And think about how compact people can live. Like here." New York City, the estate just hours away.
"The ones who started it, I bet they really indoctrinated everyone into thinking segregation was a good idea," Sarah says, "and that's why they refuse to fill the seat at the UN or create embassies."
"Or they can't stand the hate and speciesism from the rest of us," Alicia says, throwing up her hands. Most humans are ambivalent about mutants, supportive in the theoretical sense and frightened by them in the practical one.
It goes on like that, arguments that begin being about the ways mutants are repressed by their very absence from the rest of society, that in turn circle around into theories about what the Genosha state is like, what culture the mutants have, if they're like humans or not. Fifty years is enough to develop into a unique culture; Charles wonders about it often, if he could live there. It's heated and loud until the meeting officially ends, and Sarah comes behind Charles as he gets up, locking her arm around his, and he smiles.
They collect letters at the end, to be sent to Genosha, reviewed by who knows, letters of support. Sarah hands in one, casting Charles an expectant look, but he shakes his head. Charles has never written one, hand shaking the first time he put pen to paper.
Sarah pulls him out into New York, minds abuzz and loud, but Charles shields very well; he never even takes the shields down in a city this size. Smaller places, he can let the thoughts in, hundreds at a time before he becomes overwhelmed, but not here.
"You think they're young, don't you?" Sarah says, tilting her head and looking him in the eye. "You're only three years older than the oldest of them, you know."
Charles is twenty-five. "Three years is a long time," Charles says. "And I don't think they're young. I like that they want to change the world."
"But you don't think it can be changed?"
Charles smiles, a little sadly. "I think our governments fear the day it does."
"You think they actually manage to spy on the place? I mean, given all the mutants, a human would stick out, right?"
Charles shrugs. "I think there are other ways of spying on a people. You know they have secret satellites that I'm sure take thousands of pictures, even if they can't get electronically."
Sarah hums in reply. He's known her almost two years and he likes her; her mind is quiet and organized, and she's smart. She's not bothered by some of Charles' odder behavior, the need to be alone paired with an intense responsiveness to the emotions and thoughts of others. Someone on a cell phone passes Charles, and the man is having an argument with his girlfriend, full of hateful thoughts, and Charles' can't help flinching, raising his right hand to his temple as if to silence the noise. When he masters it, Sarah is looking at him.
"You okay?" she asks. "I know you don't like crowds."
"Yes," Charles assures her. "I'm fine."
Her smile isn't quite convinced, and he very carefully does not read her thoughts. It's not that he lets the thoughts that flicker through people's minds usually bother him; everyone thinks something mean and cruel and nasty eventually, every once in a while. Most of the time, he can sense the sincerity of the beliefs behind the rest of the person, the loves and lovers and best friends, and to someone, that person is special and loved.
It was with the greatest of care, during his Oxford years, that he began to practice with his telepathy again, more than the blocking he learned as a child. To reach out and pull a memory, to alter an intention without the person being aware (little things, always little things; Charles learned every perfect grade since he began school at thirteen, and there's a reason he's never kissed anyone). He remembers his parents telling him he had to practice, and so he does, in remembrance of them, telling himself, special, not a freak.
And he plays a good human.
Charles stays at the Westchester estate another month, the empty rooms both painful and comforting. Sarah does not go with him; she's not even aware the place exists. His parents put it off the map, hidden within other holdings, as a safe place for Charles should the worst ever happen. He couldn't understand their fears then, but he can now. Genosha has, in theory, the right to Charles if he's ever discovered, but only in theory; only if they know of him. It would be easy for the American or British government to say that Charles, as a mutant pretending to be human, should be given in their care.
Charles reminds himself that he's fairly certain he could escape any facility he can think of. There's a reason he practices that's entirely practical. As always, his mind turns to Genosha, but the fact remains: he has no way of getting there. Airplanes that enter their airspace are shot down without warning. Boats are turned aside. Maybe he could force his way in, maybe not.
He chooses to live the life he's given.
When he's in New York again, he meets the rest of the group on the small office, Sally at the desk, the others all surrounding a table and talking intently to one another.
"What's happening?" Charles asks.
Sarah's dark head of hair pops up, brown eyes bright with fury. "HPG is staging a protest in Time's Square tomorrow."
Charles stops. "I see."
HPG is the Human Protection Group, radical and convinced mutants need to be exterminated, for the sole reason that mutants supposedly plan humanity's end, convinced they're the next stage in human evolution. Charles has thought the part about being the next stage is already true, but science and history tells him that that will happen anyway, eventually, especially if mutants and humans ever interbreed. They're also convinced mutants live among humanity in secret and operate in human governments. Charles knows very well that's not true; he's in the position to know, and he's never sensed the presence of another mutant in his entire life, no matter how far he's let his mind go.
"Are you counter-protesting?" Charles asks, bringing himself back to the present.
Alicia nods. "We're meeting up with other college groups all over the state. Joining us?"
Charles hesitates. "I'm not sure."
Sarah pulls from the group, and meets him, taking his hand. "It's okay," she says. "We'll all be there."
Charles tries to smile.
It's the day of the protest. Charles doesn't need to be here; there will be plenty of others, Sarah understands his uneasiness with crowds (he remembers screaming and screaming), and the HPG tends to make Charles feel ill by their mere existence. He's got enough stupid anxieties without adding to them.
It's a chilly day, the beginning of fall. This early in the morning, his breath fogs the air. Sarah's linked her arm in his as they walk on the street, and the roads nearby are already shut down, mutant rights organizations mingling with anti-mutant ones in a steam of people. Charles knows that he's really not surrounded by any more people than he already is, in the middle of New York City, but somehow, the convergence of everyone thinking similar thoughts begins to leak through his shields, like they're a reverb hitting everyone else in the right way, the echo growing instead of fading.
Then oddly, piercing: Have to find them, have to find them, they're everywhere and this will prove it. Thank the CIA. A flash of something blue and in a test tube, and the mind fades into the general turmoil.
He realizes he's stopped, and Sarah is staring at him.
"I - I think something is going to go wrong," he says.
She frowns. "It's just a feeling, Charles. The police will be there, if things get violent."
Charles exhales. "Right, lead on."
There's thousands packed into the square. Police have set up barricades to separate the two groups, clearly expecting trouble. Charles joins the mutant rights side with Sarah, watching and listening to the HPG shouting out slogans, lifting signs Charles doesn't bother to read. Him and Sarah separate, and Charles joins the ones in the back silently protesting with their presence. Some amount of time passes like that, Charles hearing the shouting and screaming up ahead, but choosing not to confront the other side.
Until he hears Sarah, in his mind, a shout of pain and anger. He flinches violently, and surges to his feet and through the crowd in seconds. He finds her on the ground, police around her and dragging off a man, and he realizes she must have been hit. She sees him, and the police start to stop him from getting near her suspecting he's a troublemaker and he pushes them away with a thought, reaching Sarah's side.
"You okay?" he asks, helping her to her feet.
She licks her lip, a drop of blood forming. "Yeah. One of 'em broke through a barrier." She lifts her cell. "Got it on record, though," she says with a half-smile.
Charles smiles back, the noise of the crowd rising around them -
And then blue dust.
"Mutants are here!" he hears the other side shout, and then things start to go weird.
His vision doubles, and he stumbles, Sarah barely keeping him upright, coughing. But he's not coughing, she is, and
His shields waver and then drop.
He feels himself go to his knees and scream, and then the mental noise drowns out the physical. There is nothing but noise, no sensation, no sight, no touch, just the tumult of thousands of voices, and he fights, he fights, but his last shield collapses around him.
He hears, he feels, and what he feels turns into a torrent, him a conduit.
grab his hand, grab his hand, see that you see that, what's happening? mutants, sing, Angela, police, he, I, her coat, pain, bolest, Schmerz, pain, b l, dolor, pain -
"What?" Erik says after a second, suddenly staring sightlessly at his desk, hard-wired phone to his ear. "Are you sure?"
He hears Frost sigh over the line. "He just took out half of New York City with his mind. Yes, there's definitely an omega level telepath in the States. It took four minutes for his mind to shut down and for him to pass out completely, four minutes that about four million experienced intimately. Get out of your basement office and look at the news." She hangs up.
He stands up from his desk, ignores the walls covered with endless newspapers and names from the human world, and is out of the office and going for the elevator to reach the main ops center for Intel. It's fairly large, about fifty desks lined up in neat rows, screens covering one wall, and he finds that the room is almost full - seventy or eighty mutants in the room, most standing, Jessie from computer technology flicking her spines in and out in a display of emotion. There's a low murmur of voices, all watching the screens, covered with US news stations. Erik waits and listens.
" - the NYPD has confirmed that the telepath is in police custody, and expected to be transferred for federal custody at an undisclosed time. Again, if you're just joining us, a mutant who seems to be a telepath has attacked New York City and has inflicted grievous mental harm to several million New Yorkers, at our current estimate. It is unconfirmed that a blue powder was released at the same time, and the connection right now is unclear. We'll keep you up to date as we learn more information -"
The reporter's face switches to what looks like security camera footage. It's of Times Square, immediately recognizable. There's humans shouting and gesturing, police in riot gear separating what appears to be two separate groups, and then suddenly, as if their strings were pulled simultaneously, everyone on screen collapses. The clip flashes to some other public area, and shows the same thing happening - hundreds instantly knocked to the ground by the sheer power of the telepath's mind.
The reporter begins talking again, and Erik tunes it out. A mutant, one not caught at birth or by Genosha's Intel. Intel covers everything outside of Genosha itself, all the world's governments and their plans and intentions regarding mutantkind. Erik works in the active part, that takes part in missions; his mutation isn't visible, but is incredibly powerful, so he's perfect for this kind of work. He's perfect for this.
Erik stalks up to Moira, who's watching the screen with a frown in between glancing at her computer and listening to the phone pressed to her ear.
"We need to get him," Erik demands.
Moira looks over, not surprised to see him and curiously unbothered by the interruption. "Yes, I understand that - Erik." She covers the mouthpiece. "The Prime Minister has agreed to talk to the US State department, but it's not looking good."
"He's a Genosha citizen," Erik says. "They can't refuse."
"They're trying to claim that he's a spy, and so not accorded his rights," Moira says. She holds the phone even further away. "Which - fuck that. Go get your team and get ready."
Erik pauses, mind catching up. "This blue powder - what is it?"
"We suspected the CIA was developing something that would destabilize mutant powers, but I think it's pretty clear they didn't do this. It's far too sloppy, and they obviously didn't know that telepath was there, or they'd have taken him in unseen, not in a debacle all over the world news. Still," and she frowns. "We'll have to deal with that. But not you, and not now. Go." She returns to the phone call.
Erik nods and leaves.
Intel comprises of a building that looks squat from outside, only seven stories reaching into the air, but more than thirty below ground, with enough shielding to survive a nuclear attack, like all the government buildings in Genosha. Safety against the bigotry of humans. Erik feels nothing but disdain for the people that thought his so horrific they needed to be caged, even though they've turned Genosha into a paradise for mutants, a civilization better than anything its citizens have seen on human television.
The blackout goes only one way, of course. The human governments have tried again and again to infiltrate Genosha, recognizing that now the country is as strong as all of theirs put together. Fear.
Of course, it's justified.
Erik snorts, and heads for the gym, knowing that's where Logan will be. He enters, sees Logan sparring with someone - apparently he's managed to talk some new idiot into it, because no one else enters the ring with him anymore - and shouts, "Logan! We've got a mission, suit up."
He walks away without bothering to see Logan's response, but hears a distant snarl.
Raven's easier. He finds a phone (no cells allowed, for security reasons), calls her number and says, "Raven. Meet us at the blackbird. We've got a mission in the states." Her ability to be anyone will be handy, if they have to do any extensive breaking in or need to persuade someone to talk ... without violence.
He calls Hank, their pilot and backup. "Meet us at the blackbird."
"I know. Moira called. I -"
Erik hangs up. He walks, smacking the elevator controls that will bring him to the surface, and to the adjoining airport for Intel. He reaches the surface, leaves the elevator and the main security center of the building with a nod to the guards, Dorak giving him a sharp, toothy grin as he passes, teeth sharp as knives. Within minutes he's at the airport, and with a flash of his ID and a retinal scan, he's allowed into the hanger that contains the blackbird and their suits. The suits are half-ways bulletproof (not that Erik needs that, with his ability), can deflect most knife attacks, and masks their heat signatures. Hank's invention, of course, and Erik will never know why he's permitted to go on missions when he can do that and still stumble over his words when faced with a pretty girl. Or, well, almost anyone. The guy should be in a lab, but then again, Hank's saved him more than once with his quick ability to hack into anything.
Deep inside, Erik feels that familiar thrill - he's been on missions to the states before, of course. Usually intelligence-seeking ones, very rarely anything purposefully violent. The human world has never managed to turn a mutant the utter lack of communication going out helps with that but the reverse is most definitely not true. Genosha money is valid money anywhere. But this one, he's expecting something entirely different. It doesn't sound like they're going to be able to get in and out unnoticed.
The result, though - this time, he's going to get a resource Genosha can use to protect itself even further. An omega level telepath; they've never even discovered one that strong before, so Erik isn't even sure how strong he would be or the reach he would have. Telepaths are rare - Frost refuses to go on outside missions, or he'd use her to find this one - and their skills greatly sought-after. And if the Project goes forward, an omega level telepath will be perfect.
Erik knows about the tensions and secret projects the human governments are running. They suspect what Genosha is up to, even if they have no proof. They see Genosha's power, and they see the logical result of power.
If the telepath is resistant, Logan will come in handy, being generally resistant to manipulation. But given that the human government is no doubt ready to start experimenting, if not brainwashing for their own goals, he has a feeling this telepath is going to cooperate. He should. Genosha is and always should have been his home.
The four of them meet in the blackbird. Raven flickers into her blue form as a sort of greeting, then becomes a mirror of himself, and then back to her true nature, naked as always, and she gives him a short smile as she straps herself in. She doesn't wear a suit; it compromises her ability to a small degree, one she can overcome, but it's enough of one she gets by without it. Logan is already grumbling at the sleek black suit, which they'll have to cover with general human wear when they get there. Hank's suited up and in the pilot's seat already.
He looks back at Erik, who's strapping himself in. "Moira's trying to pin down the telepath's identity," he says. "According to sources, he's already being moved into federal custody, so we're probably going to have to break him out of prison."
"Noted," Erik says. "Let's go."
They'll get any information they need on the way.