Jun. 18th, 2011

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Erik was very disoriented. He felt small and defenseless. He could see a very tall man standing over a woman who was cowed by him. His hand was back and he let go and hit her in the face hard.

“Kurt, please, “pleaded the woman, “I don’t care what you do to me but don’t do this to Charles.”

“Shut up” said the man “Your son is a freak and a menace. He should have been put away the first time you realized what he could do.”

Erik tried to step forward but found himself held by a larger boy with a very cruel face, “Where do you think you are going freak? And don’t try anything or I’ll break your arm again.” Erik felt his arm being yanked up behind his back.

“Kurt, I don’t know what you are talking about. Charles is not a freak. Yes, he is an overly smart child but he…” Her sentence was cut off by another slap by the man.

“He screws with people’s minds Sharon. He is dangerous. Little sociopath.”

“You better have your eyes open pipsqueak. I’ll fucking break your arm and your leg if you close them.” He felt a hand in his hair pulling his head up and back.

His head hurt so much. There was a pressure building inside. Erik recognized the rage and helplessness that was building. He watched as Kurt pulled the woman to her feet by grabbing her hair. She screamed in pain. Charles screamed in anger and fear, “No! Stop! I’ll be good. I promise I’ll be good. I’ll never do that again.” He pleaded and begged for the woman he called mother. Another ringing slap was delivered and the woman went limp. Kurt let her go and turned to Charles.

“Now to deal with you” he said advancing on Charles.

And at the moment of sheer desperation, Charles came into his own. Kurt froze with his hand upraised. In his eyes was terror that Erik recognized from his own life.

“What the fuck did you do? What the fuck did you do to my father?” the pain in his shoulder increased until the arm popped out of its socket. Charles took his heel and stomped on the boy’s foot hard. Bones broke and the other child howled. Charles was let go and he ran to his mother only to be grabbed by Kurt who started to throttle him, “I bet you can’t do that if you are unconscious.” Charles eyes opened wide and his mind went into Kurt and he screaming inside the older man’s head. Kurt dropped him and grabbed his head screaming in pain. Charles got to his mother’s side but he was too small, he couldn’t move her. “Mother. Mother please get up. Mother we have to leave.”

She made a slow moan and started to rally to and saw what was going on around her.

“Charles, did you do this?” she asked carefully.

“Yes mother. I had to.”

“Charles, this is very wrong. You told me that you stop this. You made me a promise.”

Erik was incredulous. She was blaming the boy for saving her life? He felt the shame welling up in Charles. He wished he could tell Charles that he is not awful or evil. He is a good man to the core.

The scene shifted and changed. He found himself in Singapore but he is older by several years. He is walking into the establishment where he and Charles had dinner but with Kurt and a rather surly looking lad who looked the part of a bully.

“Charles stand up straight. We must make a good impression here. You know what I want you to do.”

“If I do this then I can go back to Harvard and you will forget that I ever existed?”

“I have signed the paperwork already Charles. All I have to do is give it to you.”

Charles straighten up.

“Mr. Marko, your table is ready.”

They followed the greeter to a booth where two men and a teenager sat.

“Mr. Li.” Kurt Marko extended his hand to one of the men who stood up. They shook hands. “These are my sons Cain and Charles.”

Mr. Li gestured to the other people at the table, “These are my sons Wen and Hong.”

They sat down facing the other family. Charles put his mind out and probed the Li family. He was horrified at what he learned. Mr. Li was a local warlord who rules with an iron fist. He saw women and children of rivals being killing in front of their husbands and fathers before he killed his rivals. The children were not much better. The younger took particular pride in his ability to torture and keep the victim conscious. This was the bottom of the cesspool of people. The older boy looked at him in surprise and much to Charles’ he pushed back.

Charles could see what was happening before him. Kurt Marko needed nuclear material for his experiments and Mr. Li had access to some. All Charles needed to do for his freedom was “convince” Mr. Li to sell it to Kurt at a reasonable price. But there was a problem for Charles in all this. Sort of a moral dilemma. He knew how Mr. Li and his boy would obtain the material and it wouldn’t be pleasant indeed. What Kurt was going to do with it concerned Charles more. He put his fingers to his head to concentrate only to find Cain’s heel on his boot pushing hard in on it. Cain looked daggers at him and mouthed one work “Don’t”. Cain picked up his heel and slammed it down into Charles foot hard. The same foot that Cain had broken a couple of years before and Charles knew he would do it again. Then the headache started and Charles had to bite his cheek to keep from screaming. He focused on just keeping his head together when through the hazy he heard his stepfather say, “Oh good god, go clean yourself up. You look a right mess.”

Charles put his hand up to his face and felt the blood gushing from his nose. He looked at the younger Li boy who had a sadistic satisfied look on his face.

Charles excused himself to the washroom. He wiped the blood from his face praying that the pain would ease. ‘No.’ came the thought into his head. ‘No. I don’t think I am going to let you go. You are too much fun to play with.’ Then images of what that boy wanted to do to him flooded his head. Charles threw up in the sink and then steeled his mind and pushed back very hard with his mind. ‘Get The Fuck Out Of My HEAD.’ He capped it with a mental punch. The pressure on his mind eased and he drew a breath of relief. Then the washroom door burst open and Cain came charging through with fists being the first thing to connect with Charles.

“You Fucking Freak!” Cain roared, “You have ruined everything.” And proceeded to batter Charles into unconsciousness.

At that point Erik was able to break free of Charles’ mind and come back to the hotel. He smelled vomit and blood. He put his hand to his nose and realized that the blood was his own from his nose. He pulled off his shirt leaving him in a tank top. He went to the bed where Charles was in a fetal position also covered in blood and vomit.

“Oh Charles, you are a man of layers,” said Erik as he picked up his friend and took him to the bathroom and put him in the bathtub. He put cool water in the tub and washed his friend off. He let the tub fill and started putting ice in it trying to bring Charles’ fever down. He went to the sink and washed his face. He took off the tank top and stripped down to his underwear since his clothes were covered.

He took a towel and put it under Charles’ head. In picked up Charles’ head he noticed the red circle on his neck really for the first time. He passed his fingers over the spot only to feel a slim piece of metal in Charles’ neck. He carefully pulled the needle out with his powers trying to be gentle. Charles moaned a low moan as the barbed needle was removed. Erik didn’t touch the needle but let it hover over the palm of his hand. The needle was two colors and that told Erik all he needed to know. Charles had been poisoned and now Erik had to figure out how to save his friend’s life.
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Erik looked at his watch again. 4:27 AM. Charles had been having seizures in the tub but the ice seemed to be helping keep his temperature from rocketing up. Erik ran his hand through his hair and sighed. He had to come up with some plan of attack but he could barely put two thoughts together. Charles let out a low moan from the tub. Erik knew that a hospital was out of the question especially since he knew that someone had it out for Charles. Erik checked on Charles and added some cool water into the tub putting the last of the ice buckets into the water. He knew he couldn’t keep Charles in the tub and there was a chance that this was making him worse. All Erik knew is that the seizures seem to be less often and intense since he got Charles cooled off a bit.

He tucked a dry towel under Charles’ head and stepped into the living room of the suite. He picked up the phone and had the front desk dial a number for him. He needed help and he really had only one place to go for it.

“Fitch’s Wicket Company, how may I direct your call?” a young lady’s voice said.

“Sherry, it’s Erik. I need to talk to Opie.”

There was a slight pause and she said, “I’ll see if he was in.” Erik knew that pause was her turning on the recorder and wondering if she dare ask why Erik and not Charles was checking in.

Opie wasn’t his name. It was his initials but somewhere along the way Erik and Charles had given him the nickname so he went with it. Not having his name attached to those two seemed like a good idea for the long term. He straightened his tie and picked up his phone, “Erik, good to hear from you. A little longer than I would like. Did..” Much to his surprise Erik cut him off.

“Opie we have a serious problem.” The tone in Erik’s voice spoke volumes to his CIA contact.

“What sort of problem? It is that mutant Charles was so hot to get to come in?”

“No, that was over in less than ½ a minute. Charles has been poisoned.”

“Poisoned?”

“I believe so. Currently I have him in the bathtub trying to get his temperature down. He is seizing and losing control.”

“Losing control?”

“Of his gifts. You know how tightly wound our boy is. I can’t take him to a hospital. It is too dangerous. Someone wants him dead and they may have succeeded.”

“Erik, let me make some calls and get back to you.”

“I suggest they be short ones Oliver. I don’t think he has much more time.”

“Erik, he means a lot to me too” said Oliver. Erik heard the click and put the receiver down.

Oliver shouted to his secretary, “Sharon, get me the Chief. We have a problem to solve.”

Erik went back to the bathroom to find that Charles had slid further into the tub. He ran to it and pulled his head out of the water. ‘Stupid. Stupid. Stupid’ he thought.

‘Not really,’ came the familiar voice in his head, ‘I was trying to get out and slipped. Don’t seem to have the strength to do anything.’

Erik felt a feeling of relief that his friend was talking to him. Well, sort of talking to him.

‘Erik, something is still very wrong. I honestly don’t know how much longer I am going to be able to hold on.’

“You were poisoned” said Erik out loud.

‘Poisoned?’ came the thought with much confusion. ‘Who would want to poison me?’

Erik was concerned that Charles hadn’t spoken or opened his eyes. Charles picked up his concern. ‘Don’t have the strength. Can barely breath. Poisoned?’

Erik said, “Do you remember Mr. Li and his two sons?”

‘The head of the Yellow Dragon Tong, yes….how did you know about that?’

“You showed me.”

‘I…’ Charles started to shiver and Erik could feel the seizure building up. He picked Charles up and held him close to his chest. He took Charles into his room and laid him on the bed. He held his friend as the seizure shook his entire body. Charles looked not much longer for this world. He had to do something but he couldn’t leave Charles alone.

At that moment both the phone rang and there was a knock at the door. Erik swore under his breath in German and decided phone first.

The voice at the other end said, “Erik I got you some help. They should be there soon.”

“Thanks Opie. I think they are knocking now.”

He looked through the peephole and saw two men and a woman in US military garb. He opened the door.

“Mr. Lehnsherr?”

“Yes.”

“We were told to tell you that Opie sent us.”

“Come on in.” Erik stood aside and let the three in with their cases.

“Where’s the patient?” asked the taller of the two men.

“Professor Xavier is over here” said Erik pointing to his bedroom. He followed the three into the room.

The shorter man pulled a stethoscope out of his pocket and started to listen to Charles’ heart. The other two opened their cases and started laying out all kinds of medical equipment.

The woman asked, “Is there a table we can bring in here?” Erik went into the living room and with the help of the tall soldier got the coffee table into his room. The woman took out a notebook and a pen and turned to Erik as the soldier set up the medical equipment. He put together a drip stand and loaded a bag of saline on the hook.

She said, “Maybe we should step out for a minute. I want you to tell me all that you know about what is happening with him and what you have done for him so far.”

Erik didn’t want to leave Charles with strangers but he nodded slightly and went into the living room.

“I’m Captain Grace” she said, “That is Lieutenant Houseman and Colonel Cohen. Your friend is in good hands. We deal with the weird around here. We are all licensed Doctors with different specialties. Now what do you think happened?”

Erik told Captain Grace all he could remember with a few choice details left out that he felt didn’t need to be told. He showed her the needle he had extracted from Charles’ neck. She took a pair of tweezers and carefully pick the needle up.

“Colonel, you need to see this” she said as she walked to the bedroom. Erik followed her. They had Charles on an IV drip and a blood pressure cuff was on his arm. Charles’ eyes looked like they had sunk all the way into his head. He looked so pale and so frail.

“How did your friend piss of the Yellow Dragon Tong?” asked the Colonel as he examined the needle.

“How did you know that?” asked Erik.

“I have seen a couple of these during my tour here. Nasty piece of biological warfare combined with some serious toxins to create a cocktail of dead. It is a miracle that you have kept him alive so far. But he doesn’t have much more time before his body is going to start shutting down on him. There is only so much we can do to keep him going.”

“Are you saying it is hopeless?”

“Did I say that? No, there is an antidote for the toxin.”

“So let’s get that.”

“Not so easy,” said the Lieutenant in a very gravelly voice, “The only people who have it are also the only people who have these darts and they are not inclined to help those they have marked for death.”

Erik felt the pressure build in his head, “He is about to have another seizure.”

“How?” but the question was cut off by all three soldiers dropping to the floor in pain.

Erik crossed to the bed and grabbed Charles and shook him. “Charles, they are friends. Let them go. Charles, you are killing them.” Then he remembered how Cain had broken the connection and he, with much regret, open his hand and slapped Charles across the face hard. Charles’ eyes snapped open with a look of anger and betrayal. Then his eyes rolled up in his head and he went limp. Erik turned and saw that the Captain had put something in his IV line.

The Colonel picked himself up from the floor, “Well it wasn’t if Oliver hadn’t warned us about him. Should have done that sooner.”

“Just out of curiosity did he say anything about me?”

“Just not to get you mad. We wouldn’t like you if you got mad” said the Captain.

“So where can I find the Yellow Tong?” asked Erik with a bitter edge to his voice.

“Honestly we have no idea. That is one of the most elusive of the tongs to find.”
Erik thought back to the restaurant that Charles took him to “I might have an idea where to start.”

“If you are going to do anything I would do it sooner rather than later. The Professor is living on borrowed time right now.”

“Can you?”

“Take care of him? That’s why we were sent. Oh, you might want to put on some clothes before you leave the suite” said the Colonel with a bit of a chuckle in his voice.

Erik had totally forgotten that he was in his underwear. “Ah, well that might be a good idea indeed.” He went to his drawers and pulled some clean clothing out and put it on. He grabbed his wallet, keys and jacket and headed out to find the cure for his friend. He just hoped he could do it in time.

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