He is not naive, he just knows that for him there is no in between. If he does not choose to believe in the I hereby good of man, he would destroy them all. He remembers the last time he decided man was not worth his time; he remembers the scream of his mother as he forced Cain slowly skin himself. He remembers watching it with joy, a sick twisted delight. He wanted his step-brother to suffer, to hurt the ways he himself had.
He remembers Raven’s voice, breaking, “Charles? What are you doing?”
He had killed Cain instantly, simply shutting off his brains signals to the rest of his body, before wiping his soarers and mother’s memories of the event when they found Cain’s body the next day, he altered their perceptions of the damage, and led everyone to believe it has been a stroke.
He knows that there is bad in the world, he himself has been it, but if he does not also acknowledge the good, well, then Charles fears what he could do to the world.
He’s taken from his own school, a place he has thought safe from such attacks. The children escape, he ensures it, using all the power he can without tapping into his darker nature in order to stop the intruders. He can not do so and focus on getting himself to safety at the same time, so he does not. Besides, if they are busy taking him there will be less personnel pursuing the children.
When the children are free, he lets them take him. He could kill them all, but it would only bring more down upon them.
He wakes up in an empty white room. There is nothing within it, not even a bed, and he feels a sense of dread. The men who had taken him had not known who there master was, had not known who they worked for, but he can tell now that whoever has him is well informed. The drugs which no doubt are in his system, as he cannot hear anyone think and there are undoubtedly people within his range, only serve to prove this point.
They will want information no doubt, the names and locations of more mutants. He will not give it to them.
The suppressors in his system may be powerful enough to keep him from reaching into the minds of others, but they cannot keep him from his own. Slowly but surely, he shuffled through his memories of mutants and locks them away, only to be revealed to him once more under a specific set of circumstances.
It’s risky, to take away memories, pieces of who he is, but he is careful only to hide what he must.
He does not consider that his captors will not be quite so gentle.
They strap him to a chair, and it hurts as they manhandle him, having taken his wheelchair away, and stick electrodes to his head.
“Come now professor, surely you don’t want to go through this again, just tell us where the others are,” Stryker coaxes.
“I don’t know what you mean!” Charles answers, young and frightened. “I don’t know where any other mutuales are!”
“Don’t be coy.”
“I’m being honest.”
Stryker looks at him, disappointment apparent. “Very well, I suppose we shall do this the hard way.”
He snaps his fingers, and the pain begins.
It feels as though someone has sunk their claws into his mind, tearing it apart as they search for something. The jostle his brain, pulling it apart, over and over, until he loses track of how it all once for together.
“That is interesting,” Stryker comments. “You truly don’t know where they are, you’ve hidden it even from yourself.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Charles tells him, cold and desperate.
“No, I suppose you don’t. It doesn’t matter though, we’ll find a way to undo what you’ve done to yourself, and then we’ll know where to start.”
He doesn’t know how long he’s been here, only that he’s lost weight, everyday his mind atrophied more and more. He cannot remember the order of his own life, and the repeated use of Stryker’s device means he may never again.
Eyes wide, he looks down at his immobile legs and then back at Stryker.
“Did you do this? Did you take my legs from me?”
“No,” the man laughs, “A mutant did that. One that you thought you knew, don’t you see Charles? Don’t you see why we have to stop them?”
“I don’t, I don’t remember it.”
Stryker’s smile is cold, “I can fix that.”
Suddenly the memory is playing over and over in his head. A man in a metal helmet, an enemy a voice whispers (why else would he hide from Charles's telepathy), casually deflecting a bullet into his spine, leaving him on a beach. It hurts, it hurts and then he is numb.
It hurts and then he is numb. It hurts and then he is numb. It hurts and then he is numb. It hurts and then he is numb. It hurts and then he is numb. It hurts and then he is numb. It hurts and then he is numb. It hurts and then he is numb. It hurts and then he is numb.
Cain brings the belt down across back. It hurts and then he is numb. He feels no pain at all, not anymore. Cain turns, about to bring the belt down on his mother, and Charles finally lets loose the delicate control he’s maintained all his life. He allows the monster loose
“Get a blade,” Charles orders and his brother cannot disobey. No one can, for he is more than human. He can have anything and do anything he should wish, and he wishes for Cain to suffer at his hand.
Cain does as commanded, and Charles forces him to take the knife to his own face, deep enough to hurt as he slices off his own skin, but not enough to kill. He watches, a perverse joy filling him as the blood drips down into Cain’s eyes.
From somewhere else, he hears a voice, “What is this? Someone stop it; this isn’t the memory he should be seeing!”
His attention shifts, to the here and now, to the man in the white coat, ordering that he be pumped full of power suppressing chemicals.
He never sees Raven emerge in his memory, he is not stopped this time.
“ No ”.
The whole room halts.
“ You, come here.”
Stryker obeys, he never had a choice in the matter.
“ Free me.”
As Stryker pushes, Charles’ wheelchair throughout the facility, bodies drop around them.
Charles smiles as he breathes in fresh air. He’s going to have fun in freedom.
“ Take care of yourself.”
Stryker begins to slam his head into a metal door repeatedly, not even stopping as his head begins to bleed. He will not stop until he is dead.
Stryker, Charles remembers, is not the only one to hurt him. Based on his scattered memories, Cain is gone, but the man on the beach, the man who crippled him, he is still alive and well.
Oh Erik, he sings. I’m coming for you.
It echoes in the minds of telepaths across the world. He hopes it makes his chase more exciting.
Erik is sitting at his desk pouring over blueprints when Emma Frost burst into the room. He merely raises a brow, shocked at her unusual behavior.
“Xavier is alive.” She states and he rises to his feet, a small smile forming in his lips.
“How do you know, did he escape?”
“Yes,” Emma answers, and he finally notes her pallid coloring and the way her hands are trembling. “And now he’s coming to kill you.”
“Emma was only in contact with him for mere seconds,” Erik explains to the gathered X-men, “But from what he could tell, they’ve shattered his psyche. This isn’t the Charles we know. He won’t hesitate to manipulate or kill us.”
“You’re the one he wants to kill,” Alex objects, “Why would he do the same to us?”
“Because he isn’t human,” Emma replies. “He touched the mind of every telepath worldwide, and we all felt the same thing. The man you knew is gone, what’s left is… dark, evil.”
“How could they turn him evil?” Hank asks. “The professor was, is , a good man. You can’t just take that away.”
“They didn’t. They just revealed what lurks underneath.”
They settle in to wait at the school, Hank’s idea, hoping that it will spark some kind of memory for Charles. Afterall, they can’t be sure if he recalls anything, or if he’s just been twisted by Stryker.
The students are all gone, sent to stay with whoever they could, just while matters are dealt with, but tensions are still high. The history of those remaining is dark and painful, and the only one who could unite them is their enemy.
“ Tick Tock,” Charles projects. He likes to play with his food.
“You don’t have to do this,” A woman replies. Her voice conjures up images of diamond, and a man who Charles remembers holding in place while a coin burrowed through their minds.
“They have a telepath!” Charles explains. “How quaint. I haven’t had a chance to kill a telepath!”
He binds her mind to her body, essentially trapping her power. He’d struggle to do the same for a different mutation, but a telepath who cannot leave her own mind is one who cannot use her gift.
“I’ll come play with you later. I promise.”
He extends his reach once more, freezing the fools within the house, before reaching for Erik’s mind. All he finds are smooth, impenetrable shields.
An image flashes through his mind: a helmet of sorts, one he remembers the man he died with wearing. Erik had taken it, he recalls now, after shoving a coin through their heads.
“This will be fun.” Charles beams, and he settles himself into Mystique’s mind. He knows Erik will be hesitant to harm her, though he’s unsure where that thought stems from. It’s likely from Mystique herself, but that classification feels wrong somehow, as though it were almost one of his own thoughts.
“Erik,” he says though her mouth. “Did you think you could escape me?”
“Charles. Why are you doing this?”
His giggle is loud and girlish. “I’m having fun! Stryker didn’t fight back like you, nor did Cain.”
The mind he occupies shivers at that, as though it shows from the very name he had just mentioned. Charles can’t help but follow the trail, afterall, he has all the time in the world.
He burrows through Mystique’s mind. He does not know what he chases, but he learns along the way.
Raven. Raven. Why is the name so familiar?
He finds a memory patch, a false memory laid over a real one, and he rips it away. It is only after that he recognizes his own work.
Charles orders Cain to hurt himself, and their brother obeys, taking away layer and layer of skin. She watches, tears streaming down her face until she cannot hold back her terrified whimper.
“Charles,” she asks, voice shaking. “What are you doing?”
Then Cain is in the floor and Charles is holding her, his hands bloodless, and yet coated at the same time.
Charles walks Raven towards him. Disregarding his initial target for now. Afterall, this is far more interesting.
“You,” he whispers into her mind. “You know me.”
“We all do,” she chokes out now that he allows back some control. She is just as scared as the day he killed Cain, perhaps more so now that she knows what he is capable of.
His answer is sung. “You knew me before!”
“Before what?” Raven asks, as he uses her arms to open the door and bring them out into the same courtyard where he sits in his gleaming silver wheelchair.
He does not know why, but the sight of her, Mystique, Raven, in person is even stranger than it had been in her memories.
He feels a door somewhere in his mind crack.
They don’t intend to harm him, despite their fear, and as such he realizes more of them, the blue, furred man and the angry one with the red, raw power.
They come racing out to the courtyard, where he freezes them besides Raven.
His eyes flicker between them and the mansion besides them.
The door shatters.
He is in Los Angeles when he finally allows himself to think back on the memories which were released back on his property. He does not know how to fit it all together, the faces of many children he had taught, the horrors he had experienced, the desire to harm which he had given into.
When the memories had hit, he had been overwhelmed enough to set aside his desire for revenge in order to sort though go the memories weighing down his mind. It’s not just his experiences he’s regained, but the memories he has seen from them.
He has Erik’s whole life in his head; he wonders how he ever got so close to killing the man.
Even after the memories are, mostly, slotted back into their places, Charles does not leave LA. He cannot go back to life he once led, cannot pretend to be the stable, sane professor he was.
Even now, the darkness remains. He thinks of Stryker and a savage glee remains. He thinks of his possible future enemies, and he knows he would be willing to put them all down.
He is not safe anymore, not for the children.
Emma Frost finds him first.
“Sorted it all out?”
He nods, and does not speak. He is to busy checking his mental shields once again to ensure they have no cracks.
“Won’t you speak to me?”
He answers slowly, “I see you’ve regained your confidence.”
“And you your sanity.”
“It was never my sanity I was lacking, merely my memories.”
“Yes,” Emma replies. “I suppose that’s true. I saw the monster when you first threatened Erik. It’s always been there.”
“So it has. Now, is there something you want from me?”
“Only to warn you, they’re looking for you. They think the fact that you didn’t kill them means your fighting against Stryker’s programming, they don’t realize who you really are.”
Charles hums, tapping his fingers along the wheel of his chair.
“I appreciate the warning, now get out.”
“Happily, I just have one question. What did stop you?”
“I remembered why I don’t just give in to the darkness; why no one obeys their every desire.”
He could get away without them ever knowing, change their minds without even twitching, but he does not. Instead he waits for them, his chair facing towards the door he knows they’ll barge in through.
Raven leads the charge, kicking his door down.
“That was unnecessary you know, If I didn’t want you coming in I could have stopped you a long while ago.”
“That’s true,” Hank replies, but everyone remains as tense as they had been before he spoke.
“You can stop staring at me now, I have control over my mind once more. The sight of both you guys and the school unblocked the memories I had hidden from Stryker.”
Charles sips his tea, making eye contact with Raven.
“Why did you run, then?”
“I had my memories back, but they weren’t in the correct places. I needed time to sort them all out, ensure that they were real, afterall Stryker likes to manipulate how I viewed the past.”
“And you’re all better now?”
“Yes, I am.”
He reaches out to Raven’s mind. ‘ I am who I always was Raven.’
‘A killer?’ She asks.
‘A man doing his best.’