The Doors They Opened

Chapter 15

Raven was the first one to calm down, and when she had she pulled away from Erik and sat up. But she was no less upset, and she slumped dejectedly against the wall while Charles still cried. Erik knew she wanted nothing more than to comfort him, but she seemed afraid to get anywhere near him now—afraid of upsetting him any further.

"Charles," she begged finally, but she didn't move. Erik didn't either.

Ever so slowly Charles stopped trembling, and his sobbing faded to sniffing until he bent forward to bury his face in his hands.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry…"

"No, don't…" Raven trailed off and swallowed.

"You weren't supposed to…to know…I didn't mean to—" He had to stop as his body shook from the aftereffects of the sobs. "Oh god…" he moaned.

Erik watched her shift a little closer, hoping rather irrationally that Charles might be able to let her near him because he knew it was going to break her heart when he shied away.

But she stopped moving before she elicited a reaction, and reached out with just a single hand to curl her fingers around two or three of his and pull one of his hands away from his face.

"Charles…"

He let his other hand drop and let her keep hold of the one she had, but he didn't look up. Still, even in the dimness Erik could see the tears still on Charles's face from here, and he wished he knew what to say. What to do.

And maybe it was because she already had his hand, but when Raven moved slowly to sit beside him Charles didn't move. He flinched a bit at first, and Erik saw the pain on her face, but Charles didn't stop her. He pulled his knees up to his chest, as he did so much now, because maybe he felt safe that way, but either way he let his sister be there, beside him, and he let her hold onto him.

Erik let out a breath. Maybe not quite so many steps back then.

"God, Charles, I'm so sorry…" Raven was whispering.

"Raven, please, can we not—"

"Okay…okay, shh…" She began to wipe the tear stains from his cheeks with her thumb and her sleeve, and he wasn't stopping her from doing that either.

It was a good thing, but Erik knew he shouldn't be watching anymore. He should be leaving them alone. He got up silently, then, and went back to his place on the floor.

But he would be there if he was needed.


Raven wished that she could erase what she'd seen, but Charles couldn't erase his own memories and it was unthinkable to ask him to change hers. He was having a hard enough time as it was.

God that was such an awful understatement…

He was just as quiet the day or two after that, but now at least she understood why—why he was so skittish, too—and she did everything she could to help. She glared off anyone who attempted to bother him, kept the boys from asking questions, and she knew Charles noticed, but he didn't say a word about it.

That, really, was what worried her more than anything else. For two days he let her protect him, too upset to muster the will to make her stop, and because she wanted nothing more than to make it better she couldn't bring herself to stop even though it bothered her that he let her do it.

Raven didn't feel any better at until the third day, when he touched her arm at breakfast and shook his head a bit before she'd even narrowed her eyes to glare at Sean because she could just tell that he was about to ask Charles if he was all right. Again. Even though she'd glared at them all for the past two days for bringing it up at all.

They were stubborn, and usually she liked that about them, but not today.

But Charles stopped her.

Let them be, he told her silently. I'm…not all right, I'm not sure what I am, but you don't need to do that. Thank you.

Raven let out a breath, trying to keep the relief from being too apparent because the boys were all sitting right there. Okay…

And Sean didn't say anything after all, and breakfast went well enough after that.

The problem came after breakfast.

There were several more guards than usual in their corridor when they made it back to the cell, and Charles stopped in his tracks halfway to their door. He must have skimmed their minds to find out why they were there.

The way he paled so quickly told her everything she needed to know.

"No no no they can't do that; it's barely been a week," she hissed under her breath.

"Stryker can do whatever the hell he wants," Charles croaked weakly. And before he could even take a step back half of the men were on him, and the rest were dragging Raven the rest of the way toward the cell.

"Charles!"

She knew he was scared. She knew he didn't want to go with them, but he wouldn't make a scene here, with the others in their corridor streaming around them on the way to their cells.

Tell Erik the rest…tell him what happened last time. If I come back the same way you won't have to do that again. What you did. He'll do it. Tell him. It came through to her shaky and distorted and coated in terror.

Charles! "No!" she shouted aloud, struggling.

Raven, don't let them hurt you! Charles thought sharply. And then he was out of sight, and the cell door was open and they pushed her in and the door shut in her face.

"NO!" She knew she wasn't quite thinking as she threw all of her weight into the door and pounded her fists into it—knew it wasn't going to do any good—but she didn't care. "YOU CAN'T DO THIS! CHARLES!"

"What the hell is going on! Where's Charles?" Erik demanded. He was on his feet and scowling, just behind her.

"Cerebro!" she choked. "They took him. Oh god…god, they haven't fixed it. Oh god…"

Now Erik was pale. "What? No. They couldn't have. It hasn't been long enough. We should have more time. We should have been out of here before they took him again."

"Tell Stryker that!"

"Damnit," Erik seethed. "No no NO…"


By the time they were away from the cell blocks and anyone else who might see Charles was struggling. He didn't have an overabundance of strength with which to do it, but he did it. He was doing it when Stryker met them at the base of the machine, and that was when he stopped.

"You can't possibly need more coordinates by now," he growled.

"No, of course not. This isn't about that, and you know it. Now that I know Lehnsherr has been sympathetic to mutants all along I'm even more convinced that there's something else going on here I should know about."

"There isn't…"

"Of course there is," Stryker glowered. Then he shrugged. "Tell me now, and you don't have to go up there."

But there was nothing he would allow himself to say.

Stryker nodded up the stairs, and Charles bit back a sob as the guards took him up into Cerebro. He tried not to shiver, too, while they restrained him in the chair, tried to breath evenly…

He didn't quite succeed as well as he'd hoped to.

Then again, he wasn't sure why it mattered. He wasn't going to be to control anything at all once they turned the damned machine on.

Hank wasn't even here this time. Charles was alone. He still couldn't reach out to anyone, because if he did he would hurt them when it began.

It occurred to him that he really was shaking now.

Charles closed his eyes because he didn't want to see Stryker give the order.


Erik stared at Raven for a long time, anger threatening to overwhelm him because of everything she had just told him.

About what had really happened because of Cerebro the last time, when he was gone.

The temporary blindness. Being unable to control his powers. Raven having no choice but to knock him out before he hurt anyone unintentionally.

So much worse than Charles had admitted to before.

Raven was trying—quite heroically, really—not to cry at this point.

"Erik—"

"I'll do it," he said quietly. "If it has to be done I'll do it."

Raven nodded weakly, and leaned into his shoulder and gave up.


Charles! Charles!

What?

He couldn't think. There was too much pain. Cerebro's usual illusion was a blur around him, and he knew he was trembling violently and soaked in sweat. His throat hurt but he couldn't quite hear himself screaming.

I'm here!

One mind, small but warm and strong and the pain was melting into the background like it had the last time. Jean.

Jean.

No.

Charles panicked. Jean, no! You can't contact me. I told you not to contact me.

But—

No, you have to go. Quickly. Please!

But…

If you talk to me now they'll know where you are! They—

Charles! Listen to me! A small child's voice, just the way he remembered it, smart and insistent but not petulant. He missed her. He wished he could talk to her. See her again.

But if she didn't break contact they would have her new coordinates, because hopefully she had managed to convince her parents to take them somewhere.

Jean—

They already know, she told him quietly.

Charles froze inwardly. No…

And he let her draw him to her, show him where she was. He saw through her eyes, saw the back of the military issue vehicle and the CIA agents and soldiers crowding it. Jean was horizontal on a bench, her head in someone's lap.

I was asleep. They made me sleep.

Oh Jean…Jean, I'm sorry. This wasn't supposed to happen…

It's not your fault…we DID go to my grandparents' house. They found us anyway…

Are you all right?

I'm okay. They just made me sleep, that's all…but I miss my mom and daddy…where are they? Are they okay? I don't remember!

Charles searched her memories, saw the storming of the house and the tranq darts, felt the sharp sting in Jean's neck and saw everything go black. I'm sure they're fine, Jean. We'll get you home to them again. I promise you that.

But his heart was already breaking.

They haven't hurt you, have they?

No…but they don't like me…I can feel it. Except for one of them. There's one lady who seems nice. Jean looked up, showed him the face of who it was that was holding her.

Moira.

You know her, right? She thinks about you a lot…

Charles would have swallowed if he'd had any control over his body at the moment. Yes…I know her. You can trust her, Jean. She's on our side. She cares. She IS nice.

Do you want me to tell her anything for you? I don't know when I could…but I could try…

It's all right. Thank you, he told her quickly.

He still didn't know how he was going to face Moira at all.

Are you okay? She asked innocently.

She must have sensed something, to ask, or maybe it was the silence. But Charles quickly assured that he had everything reeled in. I…

But their time was up. The pain wouldn't stay back any longer, even with Jean's power to support him, and then she was gone and the agony was all he knew again. He was suddenly much more aware of his body once more—aware of the sobbing and the screaming and the clumped hair in his face and the fact that the bones in his knuckles felt as if they might pull themselves apart thanks to how tightly he was clenching the arms of the metal chair.

God, why couldn't he just black out? The neural stimulation, he supposed. Maybe if he was lucky enough he would lose consciousness as soon as they tuned it off this time.

But beyond that thoughts really weren't a possibility.


Erik was a coiled spring the entire time Charles was gone, pacing the cell furiously and putting dents in the wall without touching it…bending them out again afterwards so they wouldn't be noticed later. Raven couldn't blame him for how he felt. She felt the same. She couldn't bear to think about what they were doing to her brother, and after—

It had been too long. Longer than last time, certainly.

How much could he take?

The question made her chest ache.

When the door opened Erik, already on his feet, made it to the door first—or as close to the door as he could before the guns trained on him held him back.

Maybe he didn't really have to be afraid of guns, but he had to pretend to be.

They dragged Charles in, conscious but unable to get his feet under him, and they wouldn't let Erik close enough to catch him when they dropped him. Charles hit the floor bonelessly, landed in a trembling heap.

It was worse than last time. This time he couldn't get his breath at all, and every attempt at a breath was a moan. He curled into a ball and pressed his hands to his head until the guards were gone and the door was shut.

As soon as it was shut Erik went to his knees at Charles's side and pulled him up in his arms.

"Erik!" Charles gasped it, grasping blindly at the other man's shoulders, and his eyes opened and Raven swallowed a sob when she could see for sure that it really was like last time. Charles's vision was gone again.

Raven hovered by them while Erik pulled him close, and Charles held on tightly and pressed his face into Erik's shoulder, still moaning and trying to get enough air.

"Charles?" Erik asked urgently. "How bad is it? Can you control it?"

Charles shook his head against the shoulder. "No, I—please," he pleaded, and his own shoulders shook with a sob. "Erik, please, quickly, I'm losing—"

When Erik pushed Charles away from his body again Raven looked away, crossing her arms tightly over her chest and flinching when she heard Erik hit him. Heard Charles's desperate gasping cut off and heard Erik catch him again. When she was able to look again Erik was cradling his unconscious friend against his chest, a hand carding absently through Charles's soaked hair.

His eyes were damp, his face twisted in pain, but he wouldn't cry.

Raven let out a dry sob and sank to her knees beside them.

"Erik…we have to get out. We have to do it. We can't stay here much longer." She swallowed hard, and the rest came out a whisper. "This place is destroying him. In every way possible. I'm so afraid that if we don't get out soon there won't be anything left…"

Erik only nodded once, but she knew he agreed with her. "We'll have to do without the help of his powers. As soon as he can walk again we're leaving."


Charles came back to consciousness slowly, testing his control before anything else. It wasn't much different than last time—he felt shaky, but in control. Enough control that being awake shouldn't be a problem. But this time his head still pounded much more viciously, and even flat on his back he felt nauseous.

A small groan escaped before he could stop it, and there was movement beside him in response.

"Charles?"

Erik.

Charles was on his bunk, and Erik was beside it. His voice came closer with the movement, and he must have been resting against the wall.

Charles supposed he ought to try opening his eyes so he could see for himself, but he wasn't sure how that was going to turn out. He had to admit he was a bit afraid to.

"Charles?" Erik asked again, more quietly this time.

"It's all right…I'm awake," he mumbled.

"How are you feeling?"

"I uhm…rather awful, actually."

Erik answered wryly. "At least you're admitting it."

"Yes, well…" He opened his eyes and pulled in a sharp breath. "Damn…"

"What…?"

Charles blinked several times in quick succession, and nothing. "My eyes haven't recovered. They will, but…anyhow." He felt the sudden spike of worry from his friend rather strongly. "Erik, I'll be all right."

"Fine, but that doesn't mean I can't hate it."

A hand on his arm, and he hadn't seen it coming, of course, and Charles jerked away in panic before he could process that it was Erik and it was all right.

"Sorry!" they both said at once.

His head pounded harder from the sudden movement, and Charles groaned and let it drop back to the pillow. "Ah…good lord…"

"Your head?"

"An understatement. I should stop trying to move." He paused. "And it isn't your fault."

"I hit you pretty hard," Erik said tightly.

"Yes, but if I remember correctly it was more my jaw where your fist landed. It's everything else that hurts at the moment."

"Still—"

"Still nothing. Thank you," Charles insisted quietly. He let out a breath and blinked a bit more, as if that would do anything. He still saw black, and not the ceiling. And it really was black this time—not the deep muddled gray of the first time.

He was more afraid of it this time. More afraid that it wouldn't reverse itself as well as Hank seemed to believe it should, and…and more afraid to be in it, too. The darkness. He hated it more now, than he had before. He supposed there wasn't going to be any way around that, after…what happened.

Not that he was going to tell Erik any of that.

"Where is Raven?" he asked then, to change the subject.

"At dinner. They sent enough in here for both of us in case you woke up—"

"Oh lord, I am certainly not hungry," Charles moaned, the mere thought of food enough to make the nausea worse.

"Point taken." Then there was silence for a long moment, and Charles did a bit more squinting uselessly at the ceiling that he couldn't see. It didn't make any difference to his pounding skull whether or not his eyes were open; no light was making it in right now. "Charles…" Erik sounded hesitant now, and if Erik sounded that way it had to be important.

"Hmm...?"

"Charles…I know you wanted to wait for Moira, but I don't think we can stay here any longer. It's not about the coordinates or anything else now; Stryker is trying to break you."

"I know that," he admitted quietly.

"Then you know we have to get out of here…"

Charles was quiet, and now he did clench his eyes shut. Moira…

"You're right," he said finally. "It's probably better that way anyhow…"

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

She wouldn't want me now. Better to leave it as it is. The last moment we had was a good one…if we leave she never has to know…

But all he said aloud was, "Nothing."

But now he was thinking about it, and he couldn't lock it away again, and suddenly the fact that his head was killing him was at the back of his mind, and all he could think of was Moira. He missed her. God, he missed her.

"Not nothing," Erik was saying. "What are you talking about? That is not your nothing face."

His face? Charles schooled it quickly, but it wouldn't stay straightened.

Moira. He had to protect her; she couldn't know. It wasn't the same as Raven and Erik knowing. If she knew…

He couldn't see her again, could he?

Charles didn't know he was crying until he felt the hand on his cheek wiping the tears away, and this time it didn't startle him as badly as before. This time he didn't mind it, and he turned into the touch as he felt Erik move up to sit on the edge of the bed.

"Charles," Erik said, and the pain in his voice was clear. "Charles, what is it?"

He shook his head minutely, unable to do more because it hurt, but Erik had to know that he wasn't going to answer. How could he answer that?

"Charles…"

Why? Why did he keep doing this? Why couldn't he keep hold of himself? It was as if he had no control over his emotions anymore—as if they were no longer his, and they were being bounced about like a cat toy on a string being batted at.

He didn't want to be, but soon enough he was sobbing uncontrollably. The hand moved to his shoulder and squeezed, and stayed there, but Erik, thank god, said nothing. Words weren't what he needed. They didn't help often. Not with this. Erik was just there, and it helped. Maybe it was why he answered anyway, finally, though he didn't quite mean to.

"Moira," he cried. "She won't…I-I can't…he took…took her. He took her…from me. He took her from me…"

Erik's fingers tightened on his shoulder, but not painfully. "Charles, what are you talking about?" he said. "Moira is fine. She'll be back. You'll be able to find her, won't you? If we leave? It'll be all right." But he knew what Charles meant. Charles could feel it. But Erik didn't want to believe he meant what he meant.

But he did. He knew it. How could Moira ever want him like this? Broken…tainted.

How would anyone want him now?

He shook his head helplessly. You don't understand…you don't understand…

That he let Erik hear, and there was movement and there were hands on both of his shoulders now, firm.

"Stop it," Erik said quickly. "You don't understand. How could you think what I think you're thinking?"

Charles choked. "I'm—" Dirty. She wouldn't want me. I wouldn't make her be with me. Not now. Not anymore. She's gone. I can't—

"Damnit, Charles, stop it! None of that is true, you hear me!"

He wasn't sobbing anymore, but the tears still tracked down his cheeks, and he felt himself shuddering.

"It's not," Erik repeated. "It's not true. She loves you, Charles. This doesn't change anything…"

Charles swallowed, and though he couldn't see Erik's face he felt the need to turn his own away anyway. "I'm tired…" he trailed, because he was. Now all he wanted to do was sleep. He didn't want to think about it anymore. It hurt too much.

"Charles…"

He brought his hands up, managed to find Erik's arms and squeezed them. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I just…need to rest more. I'll let you know when I'm strong enough to continue building the shields…"

It was quiet for a while, and the hands on his shoulders finally released him. "We're leaving, remember? You may not have to worry about it."

"Right. Right…"

"Get some rest," Erik told him, but his voice was all but dead now.

Charles was too exhausted to worry about it, and he twisted to face the small and let sleep take him.

He dreamed of Moira, and little Jean, and a world that wasn't so awful.


What now? What the hell now? Erik wondered.

They couldn't leave now. Not with Charles like this. They couldn't leave and let him think for the rest of his life that Moira never would have wanted him again after what had happened to him. That she wouldn't have loved him anymore.

Moira was the only human Erik cared about in any way, shape, or form, and he knew her well enough to know that none of that would be true.

She loved Charles. It wasn't going to matter to her. She would be here for him the way Erik and Raven were.

But if they left before she returned Charles might never believe it, might never try to find her again, and the thought hurt more than Erik could bear.

He couldn't watch Charles be miserable like that.

It hurt too much watching it already. Now.

And why did he believe it anyway? Charles was intelligent, damnit; why would he have ever thought it? Why couldn't he understand…

But Erik remembered his childhood—remembered everything Shaw had done to him and remembered wondering, sometimes, if he deserved it…if perhaps he'd done something wrong before. Something to deserve it. Had he not obeyed his parents enough? Had he not taken care of his mother well enough after his father died? Was he not helpful enough?

Also ridiculous. Foolish. All of it. But he'd thought it at the time, nearly believed it, even, because he was scared and hurting and not thinking clearly and didn't understand. It wasn't his fault.

It wasn't Charles's fault, either. But they had to put a stop to it.

"What is it?" Raven asked when she returned. She took one look at him and knew that something else was wrong.

Erik let out a heavy breath. He'd been pacing since Charles had fallen asleep again. "I don't know if we can leave. If we should."

"What do you mean…"

He explained it to her, clumsily, told her quietly what had happened while she was gone. "We can't leave him like that. We have to do something."

It seemed to take a bit of difficulty for Raven to be able to pull her hand away from her mouth, but she managed. "But if we stay here he's in danger," she reminded him.

"I know that! And every instinct I've always had is telling me to get out. Right now. But I'm developing new ones, and it's his fault. They're telling me it'll do more damage in the long run if we don't fix this somehow."

"How?"

"Try to wait until she comes back…?"

"I hate this too, but you know we can't do that! If he won't find her later, we can. We could do that, couldn't we? It would be better than staying here and risking them killing him with that machine."

Erik grimaced, and after a moment the resolve he'd had before Charles woke returned. "You're right." He nodded firmly. "You're right. He needs to be out of harm's way first, before we can worry about the rest." He glanced down at Charles again, and the grimaced returned. "It's just that I'm every damn bit as worried about him as you are…"

"I know," Raven said gently.

He wondered if worry would do any good.


For two more days Charles's eyesight didn't return, and it didn't make anything easier. For two days all of them were stressed enough, wondering when it would, and being blind only made being in the cafeteria or in the yard harder on Charles. He couldn't see anyone who might come near him, and it only made the jumpiness worse. Raven kept him close, tried to head off trouble, but by the time they made it back to the cell, every time, he was trying not to shake from the anxiety.

And if he remembered what Erik had told her about—what he'd said the first time he'd woken—he didn't mention it. Of course he wouldn't, but…he acted as if it hadn't happened. He tried to hide how much the blindness bothered him and smile in the general direction of the boys when they saw them, and he did everything she would have expected of him.

It was so frustrating. He wouldn't really let her help, either, when he knew she was trying to. And he wouldn't accept her help to see. She told him she didn't mind if he went into her mind just enough to use her eyes, but he wouldn't do it even though being blind scared him.

She knew it scared him. He was her brother, and she knew him. She knew it did. But he insisted that he should save what he could of his recovering powers. Whether to help in the escape or to complete the shielding in Erik's mind if they didn't leave, to protect him from Frost if she showed.

Erik was going to make the final decision as soon as Charles was more steady on his feet and he could see again.

Raven hoped to god they could just get out of here.


The third day after Stryker had him forced into Cerebro again Charles still couldn't see. It was finally more gray than black, and occasionally he caught movement, but it wasn't much.

Still, at least he knew his sight was returning.

But if it was taking the better part of a week to get it back this time, what about the next time? Or the time after that?

"Don't worry about it," Erik told him, offering a reassuring smile that Charles only, of course, sensed. "We're getting out of here as soon as you can see better and you can keep up."

"Are you sure you're ready?"

The smile was gone. "I'll have to be. I won't let them hurt you again."

"Well I appreciate the sentiment…"

Charles tried to be okay. He tried. And mostly he succeeded, but he knew that Raven and Erik knew that something was wrong.

Of course something was wrong. His heart was broken.

Charles sighed, reaching out to find one of the bunks' bedposts before pulling himself to it and finding the mattress so that he could sit down, and the hand on his elbow almost immediately, helping to guide him there, was Erik's. He knew the difference between Erik and his sister easily now, even without brushing their minds.

"I've got it…" Charles told him.

"The last thing we need is you hurting yourself."

"Perhaps, but—" He cut off abruptly, all of the air going out of him at the sudden revelation of new minds on the base.

"Charles?" Erik's hands on both of his arms now, and it was getting easier, in general, not to flinch when he and Raven did things like that. Right now, though, he was too absorbed for it to matter.

He knew these minds. He'd never touched them himself, but he'd felt them enough through Erik's memories.

"No," Charles gasped. "No no no…"

"Charles, what!"

Above them Raven was coming down from her bunk, worried. "Charles?"

With no other options Charles forced his way quickly into Erik' mind, using his eyes to be certain he didn't poke any eyes out when he reached quickly to take's Erik's head between his hands. Then he stayed in Erik's mind, because he needed to be there.

Shaw. Emma Frost. They're here. NOW. They're coming. We don't have time to get out; I have to complete these shields.

Fear, in Erik, so strong it nearly knocked Charles over, but still he protested out of concern. Charles, you're not strong enough! You can't even see again yet!

I'll have to make do! And he attacked the materials he'd built before, throwing them up as quickly as he could and gluing them together as well as he could in the time he had. He heard Erik grunt, felt Erik's hands tight around his wrists now, but not trying to pull him away, and Charles knew he was probably hurting Erik, at least some, but this had to be done.

Stryker was brining them here. To the cell. How was Erik going to explain it? He would. He would think of something. He would be safe he had to be safe.

The pieces were up, but there were gaps. Charles formed new pieces, smaller ones, as quickly as he could, and it hurt. He wasn't really ready to be doing this again. He felt himself sway forward, forehead pressing into Erik's.

No more time. No more time. How long had it been? Raven didn't understand what was happening. She was upset.

He pushed the new pieces over the holes and pressed it all together but it wasn't steady enough. It needed more energy. Energy he didn't have.

I'm almost done. It should work. Give me a moment.

They were coming. No more time. Frost hadn't noticed them yet. He had to finish this before she really started scanning.

And Charles gathered every bit of telepathic energy he had left and forced it into Erik's mind, shoring up the walls what he hoped would be enough.

He heard himself shout once, and then everything was black.


What seemed almost like a flash of too much light in his head, behind his eyes maybe, and sudden pain, and Erik suddenly felt a bit different. Like there was…a film over his mind. He knew what was there, but if a telepath were to look in they would see only what Charles wanted them to see.

And the flash was gone, but the feeling was still there, a safe feeling, and Charles was shouting, and then he collapsed.

"Charles!"

Raven gasped, surged forward as Erik caught him, and when Erik lowered him to the bed he was unconscious.

"What the hell did he do!" Raven demanded.

"They're here," Erik scowled. "He finished the shielding…" He got up from the bed so that he could pull Charles up to his pillow and tug the blanket over him. "Damnit, he didn't tell it was going to do this to him."

"Why did they have to come now? He wasn't ready…" she groaned.

Why did they have to come at all?

Erik swallowed hard and straightened, expecting the door to open at any moment. "Raven…whatever you do, don't say anything. Don't draw attention to yourself. Not when Shaw's here. He's too dangerous," he told her tightly. "Promise me. Don't."

Raven nodded warily and sat on the edge of her brother's bunk, in front of him, as if to protect him.

Good.

And that was when the door opened, and quiet tsking sound drifted in from the corridor.

"Erik, Erik, Erik. What have you gotten yourself into?"

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