Erik fought to keep his hands steady as he stared at the piece of paper that Charles had given him. Everybody was talking over one another, trying to make sense of what just happened as the plane flew higher again and the hatch slowly closed. Erik’s mind whirled as he put all of the pieces together: Shaw’s name, Moira’s gun, the speeches that sounded like he was saying goodbye-
“Charles is going to kill Shaw,” he said out loud, and everybody fell silent and looked at him. “And he might not survive.”
“What?” Alex said. “The Professor- kill Shaw?”
Erik looked at Raven. She was looking down at her hands, which she was wringing around one another just above her lap. “Raven,” Erik said. “Care to explain what Charles was going on about?”
Raven licked her lips and took a deep breath. “Charles…” she started, and shook her head sadly. “Charles is the son of a very powerful and very dangerous man. He wasn’t a mutant, but he did have certain… abilities that made him so dangerous.” She took another breath, seemingly calming herself. “A long time ago, Charles was drafted to Korea during the war.”
Moira gasped. “He was a soldier?” she demanded.
Raven nodded. “Yes. The war messed him up in the head, and he lost a lot of his telepathy for a long time. He fled to Chicago, and he lived there for years. I tried to find him, even though he told me not to, but he was very careful, and he left no trace of himself anywhere – he even changed his name. He had a girlfriend, a job, a normal life. But he got involved with the same type of powerful and dangerous people that his father was, and his father was killed.”
There was silence for a little while before Sean piped up with, “W-what type of people?”
Raven looked around at them all, and her gaze settled on Erik. Erik’s heart was thumping with a fear that he hadn’t felt in years.
“The Fraternity was – is – a group of highly trained assassins. Charles’s father was the greatest assassin that the world has ever seen,” Raven said simply. “And Charles is better.”
The silence between the group of them was almost deafening, and Erik worried that the others could hear his heartbeat.
Charles – sweet, naïve Charles with his ridiculous idealisms and views of the world – was an assassin. His Charles, the Charles that he had fallen in love with and had just kept falling, was a trained killer. More puzzle pieces slotted together, the more he thought about it. The time he had forced Charles to hold a gun to his head, he had almost seemed experienced with it. The thought of Charles holding a gun to someone’s head and pulling the trigger… Erik supressed a shudder. It was scary, and it was wrong.
“What kinds of abilities does Charles have?” Erik asked.
“His heart beats at an excess four hundred beats per minute more than normal people, which heightens his senses and quickens his reaction time,” Raven explained. “He also has enhanced speed, strength and endurance. I wouldn’t be surprised if he can run faster than Hank.”
“You’re kidding me,” Sean said stupidly.
“He’s going to kill Shaw,” Erik repeated. “This is a kill order,” he realised. “The Fraternity wants Charles to kill Shaw because they think he’s the only one that can.”
Raven nodded. “He got that a few days ago,” she admitted. “The Loom of Fate – that’s what makes the names or targets – was destroyed in Chicago when Charles blew the place up.” Alex whistled lowly. “So they started using the one in Arabia again, and the first name to come up was Sebastian Shaw’s. Charles was trying to avoid it. He swore to never kill anyone ever again.” She steadied her hands in her lap and looked down at them. “Now he has to break that vow because, despite everything, he still believes.”
“In what? Fate?” Erik spat. “What a load of shit.”
“It’s the truth.”
“Screw that. I’m going after him,” Erik decided. “Hank! You need to land as quickly as possible!”
“We’re going down to land now!” Hank replied.
Erik was out of the plane as soon as the door opened. He was determined to find Charles. He needed to find Charles. There was no way in hell that he was going to let Charles go through with this. The thought of Charles killing someone was wrong on so many levels.
He reached out with his powers, trying to trace Moira’s gun. But there were just so many people with weapons there, he couldn’t pick out one. So instead, he opted for running towards the middle battleship. That was where Charles said he needed to go, although Erik couldn’t fathom how Charles would survive a fall like that…
He ignored the shouts of Moira and Raven, and snuck onto the ship. What he saw horrified him beyond belief.
He didn’t think there could be so much blood in one hallway. Guards were slumped over, their limbs in awkward positions. Arms, legs and necks were broken, and there were bullet holes in most of their heads or chests.
Erik was frozen as he looked around at the awful scene. Had Charles done this? It didn’t seem possible. He hadn’t seen a scene like this since-
Now is not the time for that, he scolded himself. He had to find Charles.
He heard a yell and a gunshot, and then a thud. It was close. Keeping low, Erik followed the sound. He had to carefully step over mangled bodies and keep his powers in check. He could feel it; it wanted to stretch out, to embrace his rage and to crumple this ship and everyone in it, and then move on and do the same to all of the others. He couldn’t let that happen, not with Charles on this ship and the others God knows where.
Erik reached the end of the hallway, where there was two more corridors stretching out in either direction. He pressed himself against the wall and looked up one. There was another body on the ground, a pool of blood slowly growing from under it. Bracing himself for what he might see, he looked around the corner.
Charles’s blue eyes locked with his over the body of an armed guard, and Erik saw emotions flashing through them. Surprise, confusion, anger, fear. Everything seemed to stop for a second, and then there was a loud crack and Charles was sent flying to the wall. He stumbled, using the wall to hold himself up and his attention returned to the guard. The guard had an assault rifle, which he now lifted up and pointed at Charles. Erik didn’t have enough time to react before he fired.
And Erik had barely blinked before the bullet hit the wall and Charles had the guard bent over backwards and his arms wrapped around the guard’s neck. The guard flailed for a second before there was an awful sound – somewhere between a snap and a pop – and the guard stopped moving completely. Charles let him fall to the ground.
Erik was frozen as Charles calmly bent over the body and pulled a handgun out of its holster. He pulled the magazine out and looked at it, before sliding it back in.
“I told you not to follow me,” Charles said suddenly, startling Erik. His voice was low, dangerous, and with what sounded like a tinge of regret.
Erik moved out from behind the corner and slowly approached Charles. “You think I’m going to listen to you?” he asked. “As if I was going to let you go after Shaw alone.”
Charles pulled back the slider on the gun and stood up to meet Erik. “You don’t know what you’re walking into,” he warned, and Erik felt the edges of his mind meet Charles’s.
Erik met his gaze steadily. “Assassin? You?”
Charles rolled his eyes and looked away for a second. “Hard to believe?”
“Stop it,” Erik demanded. “I’m not going to let you kill Shaw.”
“Yes, you are,” Charles returned. “This is my job now. You don’t know what the Fraternity is capable of.”
“I know what Shaw is capable of. That’s enough.”
Charles blinked in surprise, and Erik held his gaze. “This isn’t about revenge anymore, is it?” he asked quietly.
Erik furrowed his brow, his anger spiking. “Of course it is,” he responded.
The corner of Charles’s mouth turned up in a disbelieving smirk. “You’re sweet,” he said, and turned on his heel. “Come if you must, I won’t stop you.”
Erik caught up with his friend and walked at his side. To Erik’s surprise, they didn’t encounter any more guards along their way. Occasionally, he snuck a glance at Charles, who walked with his shoulders back and his head high and his eyes alert. It was like he wasn’t using his telepathy, only his instincts. Raven had said that his… abilities weren’t a mutation, at least not one like the rest of them had.
They walked down more empty hallways, they passed rooms that had nobody in them, they entered a round room where every wall was a mirror-
There was a woman’s shriek nearby, which Erik immediately recognised as Raven’s. Erik and Charles started running through the mirror room, and Erik was so focussed on Raven’s screaming that he almost didn’t hear Charles yell in pain and the thump that followed. There was a sharp spike in Erik’s neck, and he clapped his hand to the spot, and then he was useless.