The Doors They Opened

Chapter 5

By the time Erik had arrived at the mutant facility it was already late afternoon, and after what happened in the yard he was confused and a little shaken, and thought it best to just get to sleep and worry about the best course of action in the morning.

But he thought about it, all night long; it permeated his dreams. The way these people were treated here and how it wasn't fair and what was it that made him ache so much about it? Besides the fact that he had been locked up like this before? That should have explained it, but there was something else at the back of his mind, at the edge of his consciousness...and he just couldn't get at it. He couldn't explain it. He knew this place horrified him already, so much more than he'd even thought it would, and he didn't precisely know why.

When he woke all he could think was that...maybe if he could talk to the telepath...

Idiot. Of course he could. He'd been sent here to play friend. To play secret sympathizer. To find out if the man was up to anything. If he snuck into the cell block or went into the yard with the guards no one would say a word.

If he really was what he was playing at, the CIA bastards didn't have to know. Shaw didn't have to know. Shaw wasn't even here, at that. For once he was grateful for the trust Shaw seemed to have in him.

Erik dressed quickly, checked the time, and found the prisoner cafeteria. He wasn't hungry, himself. He didn't see the telepath or the red-headed one there, and he thought perhaps it was just the wrong time; their group wasn't here yet. So for most of the morning Erik stayed there, hovering around the edges of the room and blending in with the guards. The guards all knew that he was there for a reason, if Stryker hadn't told them why, but they knew to let him be.

In the second or third group to come in Erik spotted the red-haired shaggy-headed boy that had been with the telepath the day before. He came in with a blue-skinned girl, a dark-skinned boy, and another skinny boy with glasses who was taller than the rest of them.

But no telepath.

Finally he resorted to asking one of the guards, because he refused to go to Stryker if he didn't have to. The man repulsed him.

"Isn't the telepath in this group?"

The soldier shrugged. "Yeah, think so. Why?"

"Then where is he?"

The young man scanned the small crowd of mutants. "If he ain't here they probably got him in the labs today."

Wonderful. Erik frowned and nodded minutely in thanks before leaving the cafeteria. He didn't quite glance back, but out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw the redhead and the blue-skinned girl watching him, and the others with them turning to look, too.

He'd been given an I.D. badge for use in the facility, and he'd been told it would get him just about anywhere. He felt silly wearing it on his shirt and had it shoved in his pocket instead, but all he had to do was pull it out and growl at anyone who tried to stop him anywhere. Hoping it would get him where he wanted to go, Erik charged directly-or as directly as he could, trying to remember which way to go-to the entrance of the laboratory wing of the facility. Yesterday, Stryker had led him right through.

Today, the heavy doors to the wing were locked, and several scientists milled about outside. More were crowded into what look like a room of monitors and computers to the side of the entrance, watching something and working at the consoles.

"What the hell is going on here?" he demanded.

A woman a few steps away, writing furiously on a tablet as she read from a screen, answered absently. "Tests."

"What kind of tests?"

She gave him a withering look. "The kind we're here to do. If you're the new guy you're an observer, or so we've been told. Observe."

Erik rolled his eyes and shouldered his way into the room to get a look at the screens. On the main one was a video feed from a large lab-one with too many wires and gadgets and..everything, for Erik's liking. It took him a moment to find what was so interesting about the feed. He almost didn't see the one thing in the room that wasn't cold and metal and hard and science.

In the middle of the room was an exam table, several monitors around it that must have been feeding the data to the ones here that the researchers were so interested in. The table had no linens or pillows or even a mattress. It was just a metal slab.

On the metal slab, connected to the monitors by electrodes clinging to his forehead and neck, was the telepath.

Erik blinked. "Where is that?"

"The far side of the wing," the woman answered impatiently.

"Why all the way over there?"

The woman moved away and refused to help him any further, and a man nearby picked his head up from his console with eyebrows raised.

"The cocktail we gave him takes away most of his control for a while," he said, as if the answer was supposed to be obvious. "It's great for the readings we need but you don't want to be too close when he's like that. We figured that out the first time."

There were mutters of assent, and several of the scientists grimaced and rubbed at their heads.

Hmm...

"Of course," Erik said dryly, and that was all he said aloud. On the inside he said quite a bit more, but likely it would have bruised the researchers' sensitive ears.

And then he pushed his way out of the monitoring room and went for the doors. The scientists were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn't notice he was opening them until he had the lever up and a crack in the door.

"Hey!" someone called out. "What are you doing?"

"I'm going in there."

The man who had given him the straight answer, finally, charged out of the room with the screens. "No, you're not."

"I'm supposed to be an observer, you say? So I'll observe from closer then."

"You don't want to be in there."

"What if I do?"

"I'm just giving you fair warning."

"Thanks for the warning." Then Erik pulled the doors open far enough to slip inside, and closed them behind him.

He waited for a moment, but no one followed him or tried to drag him back out. He snorted. Cowards.

Erik realized that he had no idea where to go except 'to the other side of the wing' but he started walking, hoping something would give him a clue. He'd search every room if he had to.

And why was he doing this again?

But he wasn't willing to get into that with himself just now, so Erik pushed on. Besides, once he found the telepath maybe the man could help him. Could help him uncover just what was going on in his head that he could never quite unravel. Once he trusts me.

I already trust you, Erik.

He stopped short. The voice in his head was warm and inviting, if a little strained, and maybe a little forceful, loud, but Erik supposed that was the fault of the what the scientists had done to him.

What...? Who are you? Where are you? Erik thought.

The voice said nothing else, but suddenly he knew where to go. He just knew. He made his way to the lab he'd seen on the monitor without any trouble. And when he got there, somehow he knew that the control panel for the camera was by the door, on the other side of the light switches, and he knew how to turn the blasted thing off.

So he did.

When he did Erik felt immediately better, and he reasoned that he could explain it all away to Stryker later as part of the plan to fool the telepath into trusting him.

The telepath.

Erik looked to the center of the room and found the exam table man on it was on his side, facing the far wall, and he was wearing the same torn jumpsuit from yesterday, though Erik could see bandages through the tears now instead of the wounds.

He could also see glimpses of older scars criss-crossing the man's back.

Erik winced and drew closer, slowly, but as he did the telepath doubled over and cried out. He cried out more than once. The fingers of one hand went to his temple, and he seemed to be trying very hard to do something but Erik couldn't tell, really, because he couldn't see his face.

And then Erik jerked to a halt and doubled over too, shouting, and everysinglememoryhe'deverhad flashed through his mind, at blinding speed. The good ones, all of the bad ones, and flashes of...something else. Other things. Worse things. Were they his memories? They couldn't be this man's memories. They were set where his were set, but different. But...then it was gone.

All of it was gone and Erik dropped to his knees, exhausted, but wait no he wasn't exhausted. The telepath was exhausted, he suddenly understood. The man gave one more cry and went limp on the table, panting, though occasionally he moaned.

"What...what the hell just happened?" Loss of control...was this happening because of what the scientists did?

"Yes," the man on the table managed finally, breathlessly. "I'm very sorry. I tried to prevent that and failed. I have very little control at the moment, I..." His voice was strained, as it had been when Erik heard it in his mind before. "It's taking everything I have not to continue to overload your mind."

So what he'd been trying to do before the flashes from Erik's memory assaulted him was trying to keep that from happening-trying to stay out of Erik's head.

Erik climbed to his feet, a little unsteady. "I can't fault you for trying, then." He paused. "Is my being here hurting you?"

The man rolled onto his back, carefully, wincing, and let out a heavy breath. "If you want honesty, which I know you do, then yes, however...it's all right. I believe you wanted to talk to me. In further honesty, I wanted to speak to you as well." He let out another breath and gasped once or twice before his eyes closed for a moment. "Unfortunately, I'm afraid this is not a good time."

Erik backed away a few steps, looking the man over, trying to figure out why he would just lie there and let them to do this to him. He wasn't strapped down...oh. That was when the saw that the man's other wrist, his left, was caught in a pair of handcuffs that were snapped to a ring on the side of exam table. He could lie on his back and on his left side, but turning onto his other side wouldn't have worked unless he wanted his arm stretched behind him. He wasn't going anywhere.

The man grimaced again, and Erik frowned. "Exactly how is my being here hurting you? Just because it's hard to control anything? To keep from hurting me?"

"That, and it is very difficult to stay out of your memories. I'm sorry, Erik, but I'm afraid I know relatively everything there is to know about you now, and many of your memories are not pleasant."

Erik moved around the table so the man didn't have to lie on his injured back to see him, and the telepath rolled onto his side again. The gentle stare he gave Erik seemed to bore right into him, and Erik shuddered inwardly. It was unnerving, but...somehow beyond that he didn't mind that this man knew his past. He didn't know if the telepath was projecting the feelings, or helping him to feel more comfortable with him...

I'm not.

"Would you please not do that?"

"Sorry."

But he knew that he could trust this man. He didn't know how he knew it, but he knew it.

"I...I'm afraid I don't know a thing about you."

The telepath cleared his throat, and his eyes opened again after being squeezed shut for a moment or so now. "I'm sorry...where are my manners?" He held out his free hand, though he was still panting tiredly. "Charles Xavier..."

Erik warily stepped closed enough to take the offered hand. "Erik Lehnsherr. Though I suppose you knew that."

"I did. And please, Charles is fine." When Erik released his hand the telepath-Charles-brought it back to his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. Erik just watched him for a moment, wondering what he should do now or if he should go.

"You don't hate me," he said instead.

"Of course not...why on earth would I hate you?"

"I'm on their side. Human. I all but work for the man who suggested this facility should exist. I'm here to make sure it's everything it should be."

Charles smiled behind his hand. "All of that is only on paper, my friend. It means nothing." He lowered his hand and opened his eyes again, and looked Erik in the eyes once more. The startling blue of the telepath's eyes didn't help with trying to suppress the shiver that ran up his spine. It wasn't a bad shiver...but it was there.

"I know who you are, my friend, and there is so much more to you than you know. I know that I can trust you because I've seen you, Erik."

Erik swallowed. Part of him wanted to get into that and part of him didn't, and the decision was made when Charles's face pinched again, and he couldn't help but grimace and give a small, frustrated moan.

"We ah...we can talk later. You're in pain."

"I'm all right," Charles answered, eyes clenched shut again. "I only...have to control it."

"Which is hard for you right now." Erik started to look around. "Is there any way to reverse it?"

Charles shook his head. "No, it...has to wear off. It will be another few hours."

"They leave you in here for hours like this?"

"It's become commonplace, I'm afraid. Not that this is the only test they've done. Only their most recent fascination."

"I don't want to know, do I?"

He shrugged. "They can take my control...but they cannot keep it for themselves. It frustrates them."

"They want to be able to control you. Really control you."

"Yes."

Erik went to the cabinets, searching for anything useful. Finally he found a bottle or two with names he recognized. "Here..."

"What?"

He didn't say anything until he'd found a syringe and pulled what the bottle claimed was a normal dosage into it. "I found something. I don't know much, but I do know that this is a mild sedative." He went back to the exam table with the syringe and held it up. "It should knock you out long enough for the effects to wear off. But it's up to you; I don't know what they gave you or if it's wise to try this."

Charles was blinking quickly, maybe trying to focus, or remember. "I uhm...I don't think it would be dangerous. The first time they tried this they were unprepared...and so was I. It...it did not go well. They sedated me and it seemed to have no ill effects."

Erik nodded, and his gaze fell to the handcuffs keeping the telepath chained to the exam table. He pulled at them to no avail, but as he let go of them in frustration they suddenly screeched in protest, and the one around Charles's wrist popped open loudly.

"What..." he frowned. "Either I broke it or it was defective."

Charles was laughing. Why was Charles laughing? It was strange but it wasn't that funny.

"What?"

"Nothing, nothing...later, my friend."

My friend. It was the second time Charles had called him that, and...and it felt good. Now that he thought about it, Erik didn't know if he had had a real friend since before the camps, as a small child. And he didn't remember any of them now, if he'd had them even then.

"Uh huh..."

"I did know where the key was."

"I see. Can you tell me where I'm supposed to bring you?"

"Bring me?"

"I'm not leaving you here."

Charles's eyebrows went up. "I doubt that anyone will be very happy with you."

"They can be unhappy with me." He paused. "Wait...if you saw everything in head, then you know why I can do this. You know what they want me to do."

Charles looked up at him unblinkingly for a moment. "Yes."

"Tell me again why you trust me?"

The telepath smiled weakly. "Later." He groaned again and pressed his hands into his eyes. When he relaxed a little Erik felt the presence in his mind again, giving him the information he'd asked for. He saw the way to Charles's cell, and who he should expect to find there.

"You may need to be wary of Raven. She can be a bit...protective."

Erik scowled. "After what you've been through here, I can't blame her. And I don't even know the half of it, do I?" Charles's face told him he was right, and he sighed and helped Charles pull the electrodes from his he looked down at the man's arms. Charles knew what he was going to ask, and held out his left as he gingerly rolled onto his back again and lay still.

"I'll warn you; I have absolutely not idea what I'm doing. I may hurt you trying to find a vein. I'll probably hurt you."

"I know. It's all right."

Erik huffed a bit. "Just so you've been warned."

It didn't go as badly as he was afraid of; Charles gave him what he'd seen of the scientists' methods for injecting correctly, and he only failed once before he found a vein and was able to inject the sedative. It didn't seem to bother Charles much. He winced, but nothing more. Erik had to remember that he was probably used to being treated much more roughly, and when he did it saddened him.

Charles started to drift off, and just before he was out Erik heard the voice in his mind again. Thank you, my friend...

Then Charles was unconscious, and there was abrupt silence. Erik hadn't realized how much telepathic background noise Charles had been unintentionally projecting until it was gone.

What have I gotten myself into? He couldn't help but feel, watching Charles Xavier sleep, that something had just begun. Something bigger than he could fathom right now. Something important.

But this was no time to worry about it. Erik gently lifted Charles's head and shoulders and got an arm under him, and as he did he could feel the scars he'd glimpsed when he arrived here. Oh, Charles...

Erik already knew that this man had not gotten a single one of them from trying to protect himself.

He slid his other arm under Charles's knees and picked him up. He was much lighter than he looked, and suddenly Erik was angry again. What was he, 5'7", 5'8"? He wasn't tall, but he wasn't short either. He should have had more weight than this. He should have been heavy-hard for Erik, who was only a few inches taller, to carry-but he wasn't.

Erik carried him from the lab and back out towards the exit from the wing, realizing that he should have asked Charles if there was another way out. It was very likely that there was still a gaggle of angry scientists right outside that door.

And that, of course, when when the door burst open and Stryker stormed in. He stopped short when saw Erik standing there, holding his telepath.

"Mr. Lehnsherr, what are you doing?"

"I'm taking this man back to his cell."

"I'm afraid you're not."

Erik glowered at him. "Have you forgotten why I'm here? I thought we'd gone over that."

Stryker glared right back for a moment before it dawned on him, and his expression slowly lost its vehemence.

"I see..." He closed the door behind him. "You think this will make him trust you?"

"It's a start. And if you want to assist I would suggest that you have them leave him alone for a while. Let him think I have some sort of influence."

Stryker thought for a long moment. Finally he agreed, though reluctantly. "All right...I can see the sense in that." His eyes narrowed. "But do not begin to think that you do have any influence, Mr. Lehnsherr. I make the decisions here."

Erik smiled indulgently. "Of course you do. Now if you'll kindly open the door and get out of my way..."

Stryker still wasn't happy, but he did open the door and he did get out of the way. he followed Erik out, waving the irate scientists off and staying behind to keep them from following. Erik made his way through the compound to the wing Charles had indicated that his cell was in. He had to go up a level, and there were doors and guards and checkpoints and Erik simply flashed the badge and growled, as he'd done before. Some of the men hesitated a bit longer, seeing as he was carrying the most valuable prisoner in the entire facility, but since he was going in and not out they didn't hesitate too long. They let him through.

The cell was one of those that had no bars or windows, and when he went over what Charles had given him about the cell's other occupant it made sense. If she could shapeshift, they didn't need easily fooled young guards looking in, seeing someone would shouldn't have been in the cell, and letting her out. He wanted to know how Charles had ended up with a blue sister, but there would be time for all of that later.

The hall guard on duty opened the cell for him, and held a weapon on the young woman inside to keep her in check as Erik stepped in.

Raven-her name, apparently-glared at him when she saw her unconscious brother in his arms. "Who are you and what did you do to him? You don't look like the research type."

"I'm not. All I did was put him under so the effects of what they did to him could wear off. I didn't hurt him." He looked past her to the bunks against the wall. "Which one is his?"

"The bottom one."

Erik nodded and took a step, and Raven hesitated but she got out of his way to let him put Charles down. "He'll be fine."

"He's never fine," the young woman answered tightly.

He looked at her sharply, and winced as he back away. He didn't know how to answer that.

As soon as he was far enough back for Raven's comfort she moved quickly to the bunk and to Charles's side, where she pulled the thin blankets up to his shoulders. As Erik left he saw her push his hair out of his face and kiss his forehead before sitting down on the bunk at his feet.

If only he'd had a sibling like that.

But he was grateful that Charles did now.


When Charles woke his legs were numb, but he didn't have to wonder why. It wasn't the first time it had happened, and he smiled to himself as he sat up with some difficulty and called to his sister. "Raven..."

He called out mentally and she jerked awake, and when she moved his reclaimed his legs.

"Mm! Huh? Oh...sorry."

Charles rubbed at his calves to return circulation, chuckling a bit. "How many times have you fallen asleep down there?"

"You know I don't like it for you to wake up alone." After being in the labs, she meant. Just a few times, at the beginning, he'd woken panicked and shouting after being brought back from the labs unconscious. Since then, whenever he wasn't awake when they brought him back she refused to leave his side until he woke. Often she sat against the wall at the foot of his bunk, her legs draped over his feet, and she fell asleep that way.

"That doesn't answer the question."

"Enough," she smirked. Charles sat up and moved to sit beside her, and as he did Raven looked toward the door. "The guy that brought you back...was that the guy?"

"It was," Charles nodded.

"Have you told him anything yet?"

"Good lord, of course not. We've only just met. Granted, I feel as if I've known him my entire life, but he doesn't have that advantage. I don't want to scare him away immediately."

Raven was quiet for a moment. "And he's a mutant? And he doesn't know it? How is that even possible?"

"A thorough re-ordering and covering-up of his childhood memories, and constant suppression-covering up small incidents that might indicate to him that he is different, and things of the sort. His mind has been tampered with so often it is a wonder it isn't permanently damaged."

Charles sighed. "I have to help him, Raven. The memories he can't access are not pleasant, but...he deserves the truth. He deserves to know who he is."

Raven looped an arm through his and held on for a moment. "I just hope you know what you'r getting yourself into."

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