A/N: *phew* finally done with this chapter. I do apologise for the wait and thank you all so much for reviewing, you are the reason I bothered to finish before school starts. there's a lot of nothing in this chapter, which might be why it was so hard for me to write, but it's vital information building up to the following chapters. next chapter will focus more on Charles and his subconscious, until then, enjoy.
Chapter Two: The Plan
"Another telepath?" Sean was the first to break the silence that had followed Hank's suggestion. The red head was seated on the floor to Hank's right and hugging the pillow Alex had recently thrown at him. "You mean another mutant, like that Emma Frost?"
"Yes. Someone like miss Frost would do."
"How would a telepath be able to help the professor?"
"According to Charles he was having trouble at re-building the barriers while being locked up in his subconscious. It sounded like his only option inside is to put the barriers behind him which would result in some sort of self induced coma."
"Well, that's not an option!" Raven cried out, panic in her voice.
The thought of Charles never waking up. Never standing beside her and kiss her cheek.
It scared her to death.
"I told the professor that. Charles said if that was the case then there was only one thing we could do. Find another telepath and have him put up the barriers instead."
"But wouldn't that have the same outcome, with Charles being stuck in his own head?"
"No. Another telepath would be able to differentiate between Charles' conscious and his unstable power. In theory the telepath would be able to help build up the barriers to the point where it should be safe for Charles to wake up and finish the job himself."
"In theory?" Erik was sceptic. "You mean you are not sure?"
Hank rubbed his eyes, too tired to get into another fight with the metal bender.
"Of course I'm having my doubts. It's not like this has ever been done before. Even Charles seemed unsure when he spoke of it."
"If Charles is doubting this too then why are we considering it?"
"Would you prefer the first option?"
That comment made Erik shut his mouth. He wanted many things but Charles absence was not one of them. In fact this whole situation was making him sick with feelings he thought he had suppressed throughout the years. Fear. Pain. Worry. Guilt.
"Fine. Well I am not trusting Emma Frost anywhere near Charles. I've seen her in action and the damage she can cause with her telepathic ability. Don't try and fool yourself into thinking that she wouldn't exploit this situation if the opportunity presented itself."
Hank, satisfied with that answer, nodded gravely in agreement.
"I don't think it's wise to let her near Charles either."
"So, if we can't use Frost, where will we find a telepath? They don't exactly grow on trees, do they?" Alex snorted. Sean's sense of humour was far from appropriate considering the seriousness of the topic but at least he tried to lift their spirits and Alex couldn't blame him for trying.
Besides, he was right.
Where could they hope to find a telepath?
"No, they don't, Sean, but thanks to the professor we have a clue." Hank fumbled with his pocket for a second before presenting a folded paper. He unfolded it with surprisingly delicate fingers in spite of his claws. Raven, who had been peering over his shoulder, instantly understood what it was.
"That's the coordinates to the mutants that Charles found using Cerebro!"
"Precisely. Charles said that the telepath we needed to find had his coordinates on this paper." Hank smiled and gripped the paper more tightly as if it in itself was the cure to Charles' problem. Sean quickly threw himself on the couch to get a better view.
"Dude, that's got to be at least sixty different locations. What do all these colours and markings mean?"
"I had some time so I checked most of them up already. There are ten or so in this state and thirty in the states closest to us. I still need time to check the rest of them but we should be able to start the search by tomorrow."
"Wha- wait, what? You mean you don't know which one of these coordinates that leads to the telepath?"
Hank's smile fell and he refused to lift his gaze from the paper before him.
"No. Charles didn't have time to tell me before..." He paused, brows furrowed while searching for the words to phrase it properly, "before his power started to claw it's way out again."
Raven placed a hand on Hank's tense shoulder and squeezed.
"We'll find the telepath. You've already done more than enough Hank."
The following hour was spent planning their next move. Hank, close to passing out from lack of sleep, was sent to his room after it was decided that he should stay put in the mansion to monitor Charles.
Sean and Alex formed one team, Raven and Erik another. At first Moira was determined to join them in the search but after some rough persuasion from Erik ("I don't want you to jeopardize these mutants and their identities, a human shouldn't be there to tell them about what they are and what they can do.") and some more refined argumentation from Raven ("It would be safer for you to stay here. We don't know these mutants or how they would feel to help Charles. If they get aggressive we can't guarantee your safety.") Moira decided to stay in the mansion and help Hank.
Locating the mutants proved to be far more difficult than anticipated without Charles by their side. From the ten coordinates that shared the same state as them four led to crowded places where they may spend days and still not find any mutant and two proved to be dead-ends. After two weeks they had met a boy with eight eyes and one who looked like a frog, a girl who spoke to trees and a girl who could levitate.
But no telepath.
Hank started narrowing down the remaining coordinates to states close to home. With the help of one or two phone calls thirty spots turned into eight. It was decided that sending Alex and Sean off on their own to a different state was reckless. Moira argued that they were too young and inexperienced. Alex had no way of demonstrating his powers close to humans and Sean had hit a police car with his shrieking once.
Erik and Raven was scheduled to take a flight to North Carolina the next day and the atmosphere in the mansion was growing thicker.
Moira and Erik avoided each other like the plague and if they ever met in a hallway they would fire away their arsenal of snarky comments and snappy comebacks. Sean and Alex was getting more and more irritable by the day and spent most of their time in each others company, rarely speaking but mainly keeping themselves away from the others.
The aftermath of what happened in Cuba had been put on hold since everyone agreed that saving Charles was their top priority, but that didn't stop the thoughts from forming and emotions from conflicting.
Erik knew that Charles would not approve of their lack of talking if he was conscious. He would have wanted Erik to help mend the broken friends back together. But Erik could not find it in him to take responsibility when the wounds of Shaw was still open. All his life Erik had learnt to survive by staying alone and not forming connections with people for an extended period of time. Even the earlier months spent together with these fellow mutants Erik had distanced himself, because that was the only way he could still be comfortable preparing for the inevitable.
Shaw's death and Erik leaving.
Fulfilling his purpose and desperately craving another reason for existence was what lead him to act as he did. Humans are ignorant and murderous, proof of this is how Charles had managed to help stop a nuclear disaster, if not a possible third world war, and the humans rewarded that with the threat of massacring him and all the mutants around him. Erik was no telepath. He could not close his eyes for the darkness of a man's actions. The mere thought that these proud mutants who fought valiantly, placing their lives at risk for the sake of a planet they shared with humans, would be killed because some human decided they were too different to be allowed to live... Let's just say Erik saw red.
He was willing to throw everything he had away, to declare war on humans for the sake and well-being of mutants everywhere. It wasn't until he was tackled to the ground by someone much more to him than a friend that Erik realized exactly what it was he was throwing away.
Trust. Loyalty. Home. A future.
And for what?
A life urging another war and spreading hatred, fear and resentment? A part of Erik knew that this was the only thing he was accustomed to. This was the life he had lived and prepared for. Never had he thought that something so mundane as chess would appeal to him.
His mind was in uproar and this time he did not have Charles' soothing voice to guide him out from his darkness. This time around it was Erik's turn to save Charles. Whenever he and Raven returned from scouting another pair of coordinates Erik's feet would make a beeline to the room Charles' was kept in. It hurt too much to talk or touch him so Erik would sit by the bed and observe Hank. They rarely spoke to one another, Hank ignoring him and Erik never being in the mood to talk at all, but the hard edge in Hank's eyes would soften as he left the room to sleep late at night and still find Erik by Charles' bed.
He never commented on this of course. Erik would be gone the next morning, feverishly searching for the telepath that would make everything all right again.
This morning was no different. Erik and Raven left around five am, Hank happened to meet them in the hallway on his way to the bathroom.
"Take care of my brother will you, and if anything happens, anything at all, make sure to call me at once." Raven had said, hugging him tightly, and Hank had smiled meekly and promised to do his utmost. "Yeah, you'd better or I'll kick your ass when we get back."
Erik gave Hank a nod, his face stoic as ever, and placed a hand on Raven's back, urging them past and out the door. With a cloud of dust they were gone and Hank continued on his way, unaware of the chaos that would erupt later that very same day.