Chapter Six: Lobster
As he left the remains of the lab on Alcatraz, Magneto walked across the remains of the great Golden Gate Bridge he had moved to allow his mutants access to the island. Even in the dark it was a magnificent red steel structure looming hundreds of feet in the air. The bridge was a testament to human ingenuity and it’s destruction a testament to mutant resolve. Still he balked at seeing the consequences of his actions, the mighty bridge left in ruins, its cables snapped, the length stranded miles from its original stanchions. At the time his actions had been necessary, yet he hated viewing the aftermath. It would take years to salvage the bridge and rebuild it. With the rising tension between mutants and humans would he even live to see it span again across San Francisco Bay?
A year ago he never would have questioned his ability to wage war against humans and win. This doubt was new to him, a byproduct of being brought low by the Cure. The Cure had done more than just strip him of his power for a time; it had stripped him of his pride and dignity as well. And it had forever robbed him of his over-confidence. He would be more cautious now. The Cure had been a humbling and terrible lesson to learn, but it had been an important one. You can never take your strength for granted. Even the great Magneto was fallible. Erik smiled at that.
He reached out with his powers to feel the silent hum of the massive metal in the bridge. The bridge felt larger than before, heavier. Reaching as far as he could he pulled the metal toward him but was unable to budge it at all. Gone were his days when he could levitate the likes of the Golden Gate Bridge or a fleet of cop cars. He wondered if those days would ever return. Reaching out he managed to pull a 12in crow bar to him, but his aim was off and it clattered to the ground several feet to the left of him. Oh, how the mighty have fallen…
Perhaps more disturbing then the humiliation of the Cure was its ability to make him feel human again. Not only had it made him feel human again; it had made him feel. And he didn’t like the fallout that was causing. Through the decades he had devoted himself to the cause of Mutant Liberation; his life had revolved around his work. All of his personal interactions were business related. When he slept with Mystique and other mutants through out the years; that too had been strictly business.
Now that he had had to live among humans again, as one of them, he began to remember parts of his youth, before the camps, when his family had lived simply in a small flat in Germany. As his powers returned and he fought to regain control of them, his mind drifted back to when Charles Xavier had helped him the first time around. After the death of his family, Charles was the only person Erik had allowed himself to love. Their brief, volatile relationship and later falling out had caused Erik to withdraw more and more from human society and become Magneto.
Just minutes ago when he had seen his own struggle mirrored in the eyes of young Rogue, something in him had compelled him to help her. He knew without the Cure’s ability to dull her mutation she too would withdraw from those around her. She was already the most isolated of the X-Men; that was obvious to even a causal observer. He knew he could have left her there to search among the broken slabs of concrete, but he hadn’t had the heart. Her white streak of hair only served as a visual reminder that she had many things in common with him.
After he had deceived her into believing he still had his powers with the hand cuffs, he shocked himself by offering to teach her. He still wasn’t sure where that had come from, but he ran with the idea, realizing the benefits of a trained Rogue to his cause. The kiss… well, she was an attractive young woman and he had wanted to show off his ability to block her powers. He could relate to her struggle with her mutation. And it had been a number of months since he had been with Mystique before her capture. The kiss had seemed liked a smart idea at the time, but now he reflected that he had probably scared the poor girl from ever training with him.
Having obtained the sample he needed of the Cure, Magneto made plans to leave San Francisco. He didn’t get rid of his apartment, instead pre-paying the landlord for a year’s worth of rent in advance. Logically, the reason he kept the apartment was to serve as another hideout in case he was ever on the run in the Western US. But privately he acknowledged that he kept the apartment full of wooden furniture to remind him of his frailty. He would not make the mistake of hubris again.
Plans to reunite the Brotherhood began in earnest. Magneto made several stops on his trip back to his island fortress, meeting with contacts in abandoned buildings and churches, tracking down the whereabouts of his former allies by word of mouth. Not for the first time Erik wished he had the mental ability to power Cerebro the way Charles had.
The first step had been to contact his most loyal mutants and convince them to return. At first they had been skeptical and hesitant. He couldn’t blame them. He had used them unceremoniously in the fight at Alcatraz, knowing they would be facing the Cure, and still giving them no protection. The mutants had insisted on proof that he was still Magneto, that he was still a class four mutant worthy of leading them. He had replied by levitating the girl with super speed, Callisto, by her myriad piercings. It had taken every ounce of strength he had and afterward he had thrown up from the effort but they bought it all the same.
The first thing Erik had done returning to his island fortress in Maine was to get Pyro to cook him a lobster. Living off the coast of Maine had its advantages, fresh lobster being the only one. He had eaten the meal alone in his study, the metal door swinging open for him easily. A lesser man would have cried as the door swung neatly back in place with the use of his power, but Magneto contained himself. He was back, weakened, but back.
Next chapter we see how Rogue spends her limited time being able to touch and learn why she cannot stay with X-Men. Go to Chapter 7