To celebrate the upcoming X-men: Apocalypse, I've decided to bounce my old fan fiction back to the mainstream for anyone who might be interested in reading some X-men before opening day.

X-men: World of Gray (Back-Cover Description):

Six months after Cuba, Charles Xavier is building his school for "gifted" youngsters. The threat of nuclear war has been brushed aside like a bad dream. But Magneto and his Brotherhood of Mutants have plans of their own—to build an unstoppable mutant army. And soon, the mutants' destinies will clash together as the Brotherhood realizes only one person can create such an army for their needs…Charles.

Primary Characters:

1) Charles Xavier

2) Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto)

Secondary Characters:

1) Moira MacTaggert, 2) Hank McCoy, 3) Raven Darkholme (Mystique), 4) Azazel, 5) Riptide, 6) Emma Frost, 7) Alex Summers, 8) Sean Cassidy, 9) Angel

New Rating - Alternative Universe—with "X-men: Days of Future Past" out, I think it's safe to say this fan fiction has gone over to AU.

Complete: This story is 100% finished; I'm only "bumping" it up to the first page from time to time.

Rating: This is a solid "T" rating. There is minor language, darker tones, violence, sexual content, and character angst.

*This is not a slash story, but there's definitely some bromance moments and a deeper understanding of Charles and Erik's complex relationship and opposing philosophies. It's the main reason I decided to write this piece in the first place. Also, there is a lot of information about spinal cord injury that I hope will give Charles' condition deeper realism.


Chapter 1:

The CIA hadn't cleaned up the rubble. The research base Shaw had attacked five months before was cloaked with black tarps; construction equipment littered the lawn like trash beside a dumpster. Crumbled cement from the main atrium had been tossed into piles and left aside. The place looked most unfortunate.

Such a pity—it was about to have another misfortune.

Knelt in the grass just off from the base, Magneto glanced to his left. "You ready?" he asked.

Beside him, Mystique nodded, her gold eyes practically glowing in the night's dim light. She didn't say anything, and Magneto knew better than to throw instructions or orders at the young woman. She didn't appreciate either. And she was good at following his lead without him offering any.

They stood and walked. Slowly. Casually. Like a stroll in a park, and as Magneto and Mystique approached the base, he could already hear the thunderous booming from within.

Azazel and Riptide had already made their way inside.

High above them, there was a flash of red. A man screamed, falling. On the other side of the base, he plummeted, and even from the distance, Magneto could hear the man's body crash into the base's roof. Then another flash of red. Another man fell.

Then another.

Beside him, Mystique flinched but said nothing.

Magneto reached one of the side doors. He flicked his hand. The metal lock snapped like a matchstick between two fingers, and he and Mystique entered. Inside, things were already chaotic. Down the hall, Magneto heard agents screaming, heard guns fired—and footfalls reverberated across the tiled flooring. Gusts of air raged around him and Mystique; deeper inside the complex, Riptide was busy.

Of course, the other mutant was merely a distraction. So was Azazel, Emma and Angel, all weaving throughout the base like a lion pack maneuvering towards its prey.

"This way," Magneto told Mystique, and they walked down the hall.

In front of them, agents raced through an intersecting hallway, their black jackets and ties flapping through the air. Guns were held at the ready. Magneto glided in front of Mystique, waiting for one of the agents to glance their direction.

It took but an instant.

Two agents skidded to a stop, their polished dress shoes squeaking on the tiles. They raised their firing hands. Magneto stretched out his arms; he felt the metal within his invisible grasp. The guns exploded into fragments as if they were made of glass.

The men stood in stunned silence. Beside him, Mystique stepped out of Magneto's shadow, her bright blue body illuminated by the neon lights above them. Then her casual stroll burst into a run.

Within seconds, she reached the men. Her right leg swung out, catching the first man in the throat. He gasped, but before he had a chance to react, she shifted her body, her left leg kicking as her right one found flooring again. As he clutched his neck, the man stumbled back into the wall behind him and stayed there.

Her form had improved; Azazel's training was certainly paying off.

Nonetheless, it wasn't perfect.

She had become too focused on the first opponent and forgot about the second.

Magneto continued to walk towards them, watching as the other agent slammed his fist into Mystique's face. The woman cried out, her voice suddenly very innocent. The man shouted profanities as he landed another fist, this one into her side.

With it, Mystique's strong demeanor crumbled. She dropped to the ground, curling into herself as the man began kicking. Magneto watched a second more, hoping the girl would regain her senses and find her opportunity to fight back.

Upon the third kick, Magneto had enough.

With a sway of his hand, a fragment of metal from one of the destroyed guns flipped in the air. The black shard pierced the man's left temple; he dropped like someone had swung a bat into the back of his knees.

Gasping on the floor, Mystique finally lifted her head. Her nose was bleeding, the red a bright contrast against her sapphire skin. Her expression screamed of pain and she was panting. As Magneto extended a hand to her, however, she immediately accepted it and started to stand.

"Are you all right?" he asked as she got her feet under her.

Heaving out another breath, Mystique said, "I—I wasn't thinking. I got too caught up…I looked away from him—"

"You made a mistake," Magneto replied. "And you survived it. That's all that matters."

"Thanks to you."

"Little details."

By his side, Mystique wiped the blood from her face. There was a bruise on her abdomen, creating a darker blue tint than the rest of her. Magneto grimaced at that, but said nothing.

The agents had become scarce. The winds had calmed in the hallway. With Mystique again at his side, Magneto began his walk. Up a flight of stairs, past the dead bodies left by his mutant brothers and sisters—Magneto found the office.

It belonged to the director of the CIA. No one was there.

As he stepped inside, Magneto immediately spotted his target—the same black file cabinet he had stolen Shaw's file from months before. Unlocking it, Magneto began retrieving folders.

There was one for each of them now. Just like Shaw, Magneto and the other mutants were on the CIA's radar—to be hunted. To be captured and detained, and eventually killed.

Magneto knew the process.

"Here," he said to Mystique as he pulled out her folder.

Although they had assumed the file existed, her youthful eyes still gaped at the paperwork like it was bloody knife in her hands. Gingerly, she began rifling through it.

"Here's more," Magneto said as he handed her his file—and then Emma's, Azazel's, Riptide's, and Angel's—as he continued his search.

Holding the mound of paperwork, Mystique whispered, "They have copies, you know. Probably in every CIA base they own."

"They know we exist now," Magneto said as he continued sifting. "It's not a matter of hiding anymore. We simply need to know all they know."

Mystique dumped the papers to a nearby table, all the files on Magneto's band of mutants. But Magneto didn't stop there. He retrieved other names, names he hadn't heard or spoken out loud in five months:

McCoy, Hank. Cassidy, Sean. Summers, Alex.

He knelt down to the lowest drawer. Pulled it out all the way.

He grabbed one last file.

Xavier, Charles

Magneto held the folder in his hands. Clipped to the front was a picture of Charles, a small, black and white photo of the man just a few years younger than he was. Behind him, Mystique hovered over his shoulder, staring at Charles' face.

Magneto closed the file cabinet. He straightened up and walked to the director's mahogany desk on the opposite side of the room. He sat down. On the other side, Mystique eased herself into one of the visitor chairs, waiting.

Magneto opened the file. Most of the forms were handwritten and barely legible—notes about Charles' telepathy. What the CIA had observed him doing during his time with them; specific incidences agents had noted. Mind control and manipulation. Reading thoughts. The concerns—the dangers. The opportunities.

Magneto's file read the same, he was certain. So did Mystique's and the others.

But that didn't surprise him. Nothing humans could think of surprised him.

He flipped through the paperwork. Past the reports—past Charles' college transcript and the copy of his academic resumé—Magneto reached the back.

As he stared at the final report, an uneasy breath escaped his lips.


Reluctantly, he read the details. Most of it was written by Moira MacTaggert just a day after the mission, explaining what had really happened on the beach. He skimmed through the section, noticing the woman's writing as it grew more expressive the further she explained the crash of the Blackbird jet, to Shaw's death, to Magneto's "mutiny," as she had written it. To Charles and his injury.

Then, the papers switched from eggshell white to baby blue. Medical forms.

A knot tightened in Magneto's stomach.

Some medical documents originated from one of the naval ships Magneto had tried to destroy, noting Charles' transfer from Cuban waters to a hospital in southern Florida. The rest were from the hospital. There was a diagram of a body. A diagram of a back. There were notes, hand-written by doctors and nurses with arrows pointing to the lower thoracic section of the diagram's spinal column. An X-ray showed an abnormal spine, its vertebrae broken and out of position.

Magneto gripped the folder's edges.

"What?" Mystique asked. "What is it?"

Magneto had avoided knowing what had happened to his friend for five months. Now, as he stared at Charles' medical records, there it was. Burning his retinas.

"He's paralyzed," Magneto spoke and slammed the file shut.

From the door, a flash of red appeared. With it, the band of mutants—Magneto's brothers and sisters—stared his direction.

"Did you find it?" Riptide asked as he stepped into the room.

Magneto stood. His legs felt as if all the strength had been zapped out of them; his heart was hammering in his chest. But he didn't let the others know that. Strength was what they needed from him, no matter the circumstances.

"I haven't looked for it yet," Magneto replied and then slid Charles' file to the other side of the desk.

Immediately, Mystique snatched it up and started fumbling through the back.

With a roll of his eyes, Riptide breezed by Magneto. The other man tossed a glimpse at the files scattered across the small table and then jerked open the file cabinet. Within seconds, the annoyance on Riptide's features melted away as he yanked a single folder from the top shelf.

"Here we go," he declared, holding up the thick file as if it was a trophy.

On its corner, a single word.


End of Chapter 1