ihearyouthink: (62: at his desk)
[personal profile] ihearyouthink
[from here]


[Step up, step up, see the amazing fishman!]

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It wasn't often one could go to the Carnival. Charles, being a student of human anatomy and a doctor to boot, he couldn't turn down the chance.

Though so far, he has been less than impressed, he's explaining to a young lady that the so called creature from another world in a jar they have there is nothing more than a mutated pig fetus.


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[Abe waits in in his tank, listening to the barker's banter. He's got this down to a proper act. Even if he doesn't enjoy the freak show routine he does have his pride in a job well done. Yes, yes, missing link, found frozen in the Arctic, etc.

The curtain raises and Abe stays motionless. There's that moment as the audience tries to puzzle out what they're looking at before he twists and slams his hand against the glass, making the children shriek with gleeful fear. He shifts from side to side in the murky water, swaying like a charmed snake. Abe never wanted to be fearsome, but it seems that people enjoy him being a little scary. Humans are strange.]

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And I suppose you're going to tell me that's fake as well? [The young lady whispers to Charles, staring at the tank before leaving with a shiver.

Charles on the other hand is fascinated, rubbing his chin thoughtfully. No, this person was real. He'd never seen anyone quite like Abe and, while the barker was going on about where Abe might have come from, Charles was unobtrusively reaching out with his telepathy to see if he could read the creature's mind.]

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[Abe's head jerks to the right, staring at the young man at the front of the crowd. It's like a bright spotlight in the midst of a sea of dim candles. There's something different about this one. Abe presses his webbed fingers against the glass, looking deep into the young man's eyes as he ignores the rest of the gawkers. It's like a tingle in the back of his brain, different from that odd clairvoyance he's hidden from the carnival men lest they take advantage of more than his freakish form. This is something quite new.]

I...feel you, yes. What are you?

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[He's never heard a mind like this before, it almost latches onto his own like a magnet. Charles is not easily amazed, his jaw about hitting the ground for a moment or two. When he's managed to recover his wits, he puts two fingers to the side of his head, stepping back behind a few people so Abe can still see him but the barker cannot.]

Incredible. Hello, you can hear me? My name's Charles Xavier.

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[There's a laugh from Abe's mind, and he almost forgets to keep up the act as the barker continues to speak of the long, dangerous procedure of his capture. The fishman's mental voice is an excited rush of thoughts.]

[Yes, yes I can! My name is Abraham Sapien. Your mind is like mine, isn't it? [His fingers scrabble at the walls of the tank, desperate for companionship.] Please don't be frightened. I'm really not what he's saying.

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[The front row is getting restless, one of the women pointing and saying it's trying to get out but the barker reassures them that no such thing would happen. Even if he looks a little worried because Abe is breaking the routine and ad libbing.

Charles was far from afraid. Ecstatic, curious, yes.] Yes, I'm a telepath. I can hear the thoughts of others. You're a person...they shouldn't have you in there. Not like this.

Calm yourself, you'll give yourself away. We can talk later.

[He can see the barker looking around for anything abnormal in the crowd, dog whistle or whatnot. He makes like he was just rubbing an itch on his forehead and puts his hands back in his pockets, biding his time.]

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[Yes sir, extremely dangerous, but don't worry, folks. We've got him under strong lock and key. The barker's fingers tap on the back of the tank but Abe's not paying attention]

They do pay me, but not much. Every thought, were you always like this?

[The tapping gets more forceful and Abe looks up. He's almost missed his cue.]

Pardon me, I've got to jump out of the tank now.

[The lock looks secure, but it's been modified to come off under the slightest pressure. Abe braces his feet against the bottom of the tank and shoves the lid back, launching himself upward and spraying the closest gawkers with dirty water. He hiss at the shrieking crowd, reaching out for them with his long freakish fingers, and seems on the verge of climbing out entirely. Fortunately the barker is there to beat him down with his cane, stunning the monster long enough to shove him back into the tank and lock the lid firmly.

Well. Accidents happen. Abe continues to bang on the glass, ignoring the pain in his head and shoulders. The escape was false, the beating was not.]

Come by after the show closes. Please. I need to talk with you further, I've never met anyone like you.

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[The crowd scream, ooh and aah at the spectacle.

Charles....Charles is appalled at it. He doesn't interfere but the disapproval is plain on his face as the barker beats Abe back into his corner. This was how mutants were treated? It was only fueling the disillusion that they were all dangerous and should be feared.]

I'll be there. I promise. [And the doctor fades back into the crowd before anyone can notice him.]

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[The crowd is ferried along to the next attraction. The barker smacks the tank with his cane as he goes, a reminder for Abe to be more attentive to his role with the subsequent bunch of suckers. Once the curtain is draped back over him Abe lets himself relax into the corner of the tank. A fellow mind, an understanding mind...how glorious!]

Thank you.

[When the carnival closes for the evening the tank is opened so Abe can get a bite to eat. It's mostly bread, lettuce, and rotten eggs, the latter being not as bad as it sounds. He loves rotten eggs. Once he's left alone, Abe creeps past the wagons and out into the scraggly bushes around the camp, trying to make his thoughts a blaring beacon for the other psychic.]

I'm here, I'm over here, come and find me, I'm here! Please be here. I need you.

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[Charles returns to his hotel room for the night, the one he's sharing with his sister, who's traveling with him. She's a mutant like himself, but till that moment, he hadn't met anyone else with such singular abilities.

When night comes, he takes his medical bag, along with a sandwich from supper in his pocket, and walks out towards the carnival grounds. It's quiet enough, he can move around undetected. Anyone who gets close enough to see him forgets he was ever there.

He catches the projected thoughts easily, smiling in the dark.]

I can hear you, no need to shout. [He works his way towards the right clump of bushes, stopping when he sees the fish man standing there.]

Well, hello. [Charles says with a smile, his light Oxford accent giving away his higher education.]

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Hello, Charles. [Rather than the raw hiss he'd given the crowd, Abe's voice sound mild and erudite. He was obviously educated before he was reduced to a freak show display. While he's not smiling, his body language screams excitement.] How are you able to do this? I had thought my abilities were simply another aspect of my...grotesque nature.

[Abe gestures towards his body. In the tank he was...well, not wearing much of anything at all, a pair of short pants to maintain modesty. In an attempt at dignity he stole a shirt on the way out, though the sleeves don't cover his thin limbs beyond the forearm.]

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[His smile broadens, delighted to hear him speak so eloquently. And why not? One's appearance didn't dictate how you spoke. Sensing his excitement, Charles tries to proceed as calmly as he can, but he's just as excited about all of this.]

It's a curious thing, I had developed it at a young age but I have never met another like myself. [He looks him up and down, making a few mental notes on what he might have evolved from.] You are really quite amazing, I have to say. Where are you from, really? [He didn't believe that spiel from the owner one bit]

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I...I'm not sure. [His hands move as he speaks, toying with the ill-fitting shirt or describing abstract shapes in the air. He can't seem to keep them still.] I was found in a water-filled tube in the basement of an abandoned hospital in New Jersey. The word 'icthyo sapien' was inscribed on a plaque at the bottom, but there was no information on my potential origins. I had no memory of what had happened before I was discovered and awoken. I was taken in by a scientist named Professor Brutenholm, and he provided for me during the...few short years that I knew him.

[His voice drops for the last part of his statement. The professor was the only one who had treated him as a proper human being, as if he were no different from the rest. Abe had grown to accept that no one else ever would. He shakes his head, shrugging off the passing grief.]

After that I took up with the carnival. It seemed the only place I could find employment.

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Incredible... [Charles runs a hand through his hair, this whole thing was just mind blowing. The scientific implications alone...]

[His amazement fades to sympathy at the professor's passing. Charles will have to look him up if he should ever find a proper library out here in the west (which wasn't likely).]

Employment is a loose term, I should say. [He hadn't forgotten the beating from before. Charles sets his bag down before taking a step or two closer.] Are you injured in any way? I'm a doctor, you see. Medical and one of science.

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Injured? [He touches his shoulder, one of the places he was struck.] Oh no, it's fine. I heal quickly. But you're a scientist? Tell me, what do you work in? Or, or better, can you show me?

[He doubts Charles can do much for him, but he wants to make the most of their meeting.]

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Are you sure? I could take a look, just to be on the safe side. [A daily dose of beatings for who knows how many days in a row? Charles hopes he's right about healing quickly.]

At the moment, I'm working on a paper regarding the evolution of man as a species. If my theories are correct, there will be more people like ourselves walking around in the next ten or twenty years. And you seem to have proven a very big point for me in that regard. [Which was part of the fact he was so pleased about this meeting.]

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[Abe's reaction is perhaps not the one Charles was expecting. He presses his hand to his mouth in horror.] That's terrible. Is there any way of stopping it?

[Charles is gifted, but Abe...Abe wouldn't wish this life on anyone. His gifts of the mind aren't worth not being able to walk into a library and read any book he pleased, surrounded by the love and acceptance of his fellow human beings.]

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[It's all he can do to keep a chuckle in. He hadn't planned on that reaction.] Oh no, no it's a good thing. More like us, that will be a whole new race of humans. It's something we've been doing alright all this time.

[Charles sighs] But people tend to fear what they don't understand. More is the pity, they can't see how amazing differences can be. [He's kept his own telepathy a secret because of how it frightens other people.]

Abe, you shouldn't be here, not like this. You're a step up from everyone else.

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[Abe looks over his shoulder, at the lights of the carnival encampment.] It sounds...lovely. [He doesn't sound convinced.]

But where else can I be? I'm a fishman. Too aquatic to live on land and too sentient to go hide in the ocean for the rest of my life, however long that might be. [And he's read the minds of the carnival boss and his cohorts. Even if he wanted to leave, they would act to stop him. He's their prize exhibit.]

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True... [Charles muses, rubbing his chin thoughtfully.] A pity you couldn't take your water with you. [He has an inkling of an idea, wondering if some sort of breathing apparatus would work.]

If you could leave, would you? [He's willing to spring him if that's truly what Abe wants]

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I can survive without it, it simply becomes uncomfortable after a while. [His skin dries out.] The professor would let me sleep in a bathtub.

[His eyes are still on the camp.] The question is if the long term. Where can I go? I cannot blend in. What can you do for me? [And does he even have the best intentions? The carnival had seemed welcoming too, at first.]

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I can offer you a life away from this. I can't promise it will be easier but it will definitely be less abusive.

[Charles stills as one of the carnies is coming their way. He shuts his eyes, concentrating, and the man goes by without seeing a thing. As if the two of them were invisible.]

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[Abe freezes, barely breathing and readying his excuses, but the man passes by as if they were ghosts. Such power, even Abe's never done anything like this. What if he really could protect Abe?]

Could I see your hand for a moment? [He stretches out his own. One way to see if he is honest...]

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[Charles is surprised by the request but doesn't mind in the least.]

Of course. [He gives his hand over willingly. Even as he's closer to Abe, there's an increase in sensing his empathetic ability. Like zeroing in on a magnet again.]

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[Abe's telepathy is most sensitive when he can touch. His fingers, slightly slick, splay across the other man's palm. He searches through Charles' mind for his intentions, his past, any sign that this is yet another trap. But he's never met another psychic and doesn't think to guard his own thoughts from leaking back to Charles. He's scared, the carnival is at least familiar, but he's also scared of livIng his entire life there. He wants a way out so much that any chance at it seems like a lie.]

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[Charles had never had anyone else inside his own mind. This was a completely new experience for him as well. He tries to keep as open as possible for Abe to see what he needs to, his eyes taking on a faraway look before closing altogether as he senses all that Abe's feeling as well.]

It's alright to be afraid, I'm a stranger to you. [He only had the best intentions at heart, wanting to help in any way that he could.

...but when Abe reaches for thoughts about his sister, Charles does something unexpected. He blocks him. Raven is off limits for now, he doesn't want anyone to know about her abilities.]

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[Abe runs into the wall and stops, poking at it like a dog confused by the concept of a glass door. He backs off and instead evaluates the rest of Charles' mind. He seems honest, courteous, genuinely willing to help. Abe does not understand why, but Charles wants to help. And to be respected, Abe will take a great deal of risk.]

Yes. Take me with you.

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[Charles smiles, thrilled about this idea. He'll have to explain to Raven, of course, but honestly she won't mind having a new person around. He kept her from the world so much, he's certain the two of them will get along like a house on fire.]

Right, would you rather just slip away unnoticed? [As much as Charles wanted to stay honest, the thought of offering to buy Abe from the owners was just...distasteful. He'd do it if needed but he would rather just have them forget all about Abe.]

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They claim to be holding my back wages, but I have a deep suspicion they'd refuse to hand them over if we asked. [Abe toys with his buttons. Now that he's made the decision it seems far less intimidating.] I think, perhaps, I can take my payment in the clothes on my back. [And they do scare him, slightly.]

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[Charles considers him for a moment] I have a few things that might fit you. [And it wasn't like Charles was hard up for money.]

If you'll point me in the direction of the owner, I'll settle the situation for you.

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[Abe's hand grazes his wrist again, and Charles is given an image of a fat man with a large mustache. The image is then replaced with the outside of his wagon, where he'd likely be this time of night.] If you feel you'd be safe. I imagine they won't take kindly to you stealing their star.

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[Charles takes on the memories easily, a smirk creeping up on him.] Believe me, they won't even remember me.

[He gives his bag to Abe to watch while he walks casually into the carnival grounds, looking for the wagon in question and knocking on the door. The owner lets him in and there's a long silence inside the wagon.

Soon, he comes out, leaving the owner with only the memory of selling an unwanted water tank to Charles, no memory of Abe at all. The rest of the carnies will be confused but when the owner doesn't remember the act at all, they'll probably think better than to question him, probably thinking Abe did something to him.]

All set. Shall we? [Charles gestures towards town.]

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[Abe waits with the bag, tense and fearful. Having his one shot at getting out of here shot by an angry businessman is not how he'd like his wonderful night to end. But Charles returns, and the tension goes out of his lanky form.]

Yes, please! [He can't smile, but his mind is a sunburst of joy.] You can make it so they won't see me, as you just did? Anyone?

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[Charles nods, taking his bag back and falling in step next to him.] Yes, I can. It's a bit of concentration but nothing I can't handle.

I'm afraid it might be another bathtub for tonight. I don't know how comfortable it will be but it's clean. [The water tank wouldn't exactly be able to come with them on the road should they decide to leave this town but Charles was a man of innovation and ideas. They'd figure it out somehow.]

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[The rocks and dust under his feet are slightly uncomfortable but Abe barely notices.] As long as it's clean enough to breathe, I can manage. But I'm not sure how I can earn my keep.

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[Charles thinks on that one for a bit as they near the town and main street.] If you're willing, I could use some help with my research. But I wouldn't want you to feel like a lab rat, more like exploring your own potential and abilities. Only if you're agreeable to it.

And I should probably tell you now, I have a sister. She's here with me, at the hotel.

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The professor did research on me and I never felt offended by it. I knew as little about myself as he did, it was interesting. As long as it's not too invasive I'd be glad to help out. [As they approach the populated areas Abe walks closer to Charles, as if to hide under his protection.]

Will your sister be frightened by me?

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[Charles assumes his concentrating position, keeping both of them from curious eyes as they walk. Anyone passing will just think them two normal people, dark figures in the night.]

I will take any help you are willing to offer. [a faint smile at his question] Raven will probably wonder the same thing about herself. She has her own ability but when she's not masking it, she's very....blue.

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Oh. Well. Blue I can manage. [Abe looks to his own arm and chuckles lightly. A woman in blue...no, put those thoughts away, Abe. You're still a fishman and besides, it's your host's sister.] I'll give you as much information as I can regarding the professor's findings. I admit, I'm very curious myself.

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Perhaps you'll have a knack for science yourself. [He wouldn't mind training him in anything he could. A man had to have a profession to survive out here.

They reach the hotel without anyone giving them so much as a how-do-you-do, Charles keeping his hand to his temple the whole time. He leads Abe inside, getting his key from the landlord and leading the way up to the room.

Raven is already in one of the two beds, opening her eyes sleepily as Charles comes in.] Did you bring home another hard case? [She teases him, only half awake]

I'm afraid I did, dear sister. [Charles opens the door wide, letting Abe come in and putting his bag away]

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[Abe raises his hand and nervously waves with his fingertips.] Good evening, ma'am. [He assumes she can see him, and stands with his arms curled around him in the doorway. It's hard not to be self-conscious, despite his friend's assurances. The reaction comes natural. Either be ashamed of your body, or let it be exploited and play along.]

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[Raven blinks at the fish man and jumps out of bed, delighted to see someone so different. Unfortunately, she's only in her nightie and Charles immediately colors and grabs a blanket] Raven, please!

Where did he find you? [Raven seems less concerned about her modesty as her skin ripples to change to her blue form. Charles makes sure she's decent enough for company, she's always trying to embarrass him like this.]

This is Abe. And this is my sister Raven.

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[Abe hasn't been consciously projecting his thoughts, but Charles may have been picking up on them anyway. Mostly it's been anxiety but a stray thought cuts through the paranoia.]

Good lord, she's beautiful.

[Abe tries to stop staring, and gives Raven a proper bow.] A pleasure to meet you.

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[Abe only gets a look for that thought. One brotherly look that says that's my SISTER but he knows Abe means well.

Raven is quite taken with Abe as well.] Oh you're lovely.

[Charles will be over here turning on the bath faucets] Do you have a preference of water?

He's staying in the bathroom?? Charles. [Raven's using his own tone back at him.]

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[Abe's thoughts turn into a mass of apologies and 'I would nevers', from that look alone. The last thing he wants is to upset his host.]

Just water, I think. Room temperature is fine. [He turns back to Raven, fingers still fluttering with anxiety.] I'm amphibious. I'm more comfortable if I can sleep in water, it keeps my skin from drying out.

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[Raven is way too comfortable around Abe, trying to take one of his hands in her blue ones so she can see his amazing skin.] Wow...that's incredible.

[Charles tops off a room temperature bath for Abe, coming back in to see if Raven was making him nervous at all.] Raven has her own ability.

It's nothing really. [She ripples again and changes to a duplicate of Charles....then one of Abe...and back to herself again in blue.]

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[Abe laughs helplessly, watching his own face flash before him.] Nothing? It's amazing! [His hands flutter around her, wanting to touch her skin and figure out how she works.] It's absolutely fantastic, I had no idea. The professor mentioned the possibility of people with strange abilities but nothing like this.

[If these two exist, and Abe exists...]

How many of us are out there?

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[Raven is more than happy to let him touch her, moving her face closer to his hand with a happy grin. Her own emotions brimming over with happiness to finally find someone other than Charles who can look at her without flinching.]

[Charles smiles too at the question, answering telepathically.] I couldn't even begin to estimate. There could be few or many. But it's going to be fun finding out. [Charles intends to find more, if there are more.]

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I thought I was alone all this time. I want to find all of them. They must be so lonely.

[Abe gingerly lets his fingertips touch her cheek. Her skin feels strange, wonderfully so. Very lightly he seeks out her past, her history, her way of shifting. How versatile is it? Himself, Abe has often dreamed of the ability to take any skin he chose.]

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[Charles shifts a bit protectively. He never reads Raven's mind...and he's not sure she's aware she's being read right now. He's watching you, Abe.]

[Raven's already asking questions] Do you need a pillow in the bathtub? Do you snore? Does it make bubbles? Have you slept in a bed before?

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[Abe doesn't even care about information at this point. He just wants to feel the pair's presence in his mind. To know they exist. The whole thing feels like some mad hallucination.]

No, no bubbles. Underwater I breathe like a fish. [He bends back his neck and flares his gills. Even her interest is flattering, it's so unlike the way the carnival-goers would ogle him.] I could sleep in a bed, but water is more comfortable for me.

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[Both Xaviers are quite amazed at his gills, Raven being the more outgoing one actually reaches to touch them.] That is so groovy.

I was thinking, they make equipment for men to breathe underwater. It stands to reason something could be invented to do the reverse somehow.

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[They twitch under her fingers, and it almost tickles. Abe resists the urge to flinch.] As I said, it's not a constant need, more an issue of comfort. If they become too dry, it's unpleasant and harder to breathe. I'm not sure wearing a diving helmet would do more than make it difficult to walk.

[And he draws attention enough as it is.]

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[Charles removes his suitcoat to hang it up] A problem for another day, I should think.

[Raven rolls her eyes, her brother was always adamant about curfew.] He's worse than a mother sometimes, just ignore him. Are you hungry? We've got a few sandwiches left from supper.

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[Abe touches his stomach, as if consulting it.] I was fed earlier, but I think a sandwich would be nice. If you don't mind. ['Was fed', not 'ate dinner'. It's hard to stop thinking like he's still one of the animals.] But I'm not sure I'd be able to sleep. This is so overwhelming.

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[Charles grins, pulling out his journal to make some notes. Yes, it might be a sleepless night for the lot of them, this was really exciting.]

[Raven takes over with supper plans, pulling out two sandwiches, tuna and egg salad, from a small satchel] Here, and sit down. What's it like in the circus?

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[Eggs! Abe contains his excitement and sits down on the floor, legs crossed elegantly beneath him.] More of a carnival than a full circus, a traveling exhibition. I was, um...

[His voice lowers for an awkward moment.] I was one of the exhibits. The missing evolutionary link from darkest Russia, unless it was darkest Brazil or the Antarctic. They did tend to muddle the story based on how drunk the announcer was that day.

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[Charles cannot refrain from rolling his eyes at that] Darkest Brazil...missing link indeed. Some people... [He should not belittle them but sometimes people were so very naive.]

[Raven pushes the sandwiches on him when she figures out he's not getting up off the floor. She had meant to give him the chair so she opts to sitting on her bed.] So are you staying with us now?

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I suppose darkest New Jersey didn't sound dramatic enough. [Abe takes a delicate bite of the sandwich and chews deliberately before speaking again. He did have a few years in which to be civilized, and thank goodness he never got over it.]

It would be Charles' decision, of course, but I would like to. I have nowhere else to go.

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We're going out west. Charles has a house out there. [Raven was quick to speak about their plans]

My family has a house there. It may take some time to get there, but I assure you, it's quite large. [There would be plenty of room for all of them, should Abe decide to stay on with them for a long time.]

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Would there be access to running water? A river, perhaps? [He looks hopeful. He hasn't gone properly swimming in...ages, really.]

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The ocean itself, if that's large enough for you. [Charles closes his notebook, giving Abe a smile.] It's very near the beach, you can walk to it easily. Or so I'm told, I haven't seen it since I was very young.

Me neither [Raven chimes in. She leans forward conspiratorially] I'm adopted.

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The ocean. [It's too amazing for words.] I've never actually seen the ocean, any of them. I've only seen them in people's minds. But I've always wanted to go.

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You have your chance then. [Charles puts away his notes, it's very late after all.] Raven...

Yes, I know, bedtime. [She rolls her eyes and gives Abe's arm a happy squeeze before climbing back into bed. She's so excited about someone new like herself, she's sleeping in her blue skin tonight]

I should probably show you how to work the tub, in case you need to fill it up again during the night.

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[She's squeezed in one of the places where the barker hit him, but he hardly sees fit to complain. He's riding high on endorphins.] Is it just taps? I can work those.

[Abe forces himself to leave her side and go to inspect the bathroom. It's not big enough to fit his lanky form, but he can get his head underwater and let his feet dangle out the sides. That will do.]

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Hmm... [Charles looked worried that it may be too small for him. And his mind was already working on the problem.] They do have those metal tubs, they're a fair bit larger. [They'd just have to find one to bring up to the room and fill it by hand...which would take awhile.]

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No, please, don't put yourself out on my account. [They've done so much already.] I'll just move during the night if some part of me gets too dry.

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[He debates on pushing the matter] If you're sure....?

[Next place they stop, they'll have to find some other solution for sleeping. Maybe that breathing apparatus, if Charles can find a few parts.]

In that case, I will say goodnight then. If you have any problems, don't hesitate to wake me.

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Of course. [Abe strips his shirt off, then pauses to stare mournfully at the ragged thing.] Though if it becomes at all convenient to find me some more appropriate clothing...for the sake of decency, if nothing else...

[He steps into the water. It's warm enough and feels good on his tense, arid skin. Abe sinks in with a deep sigh.]

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[Yes, tomorrow he'll need to find Abe some suitable clothes. For tonight though, it would seem he didn't really need them but Charles didn't want him to go without.

He goes to the suitcase in the corner of the bedroom and digs through it till he finds a too-large-for-him shirt that he can part with. Charles puts it next to the sink for him in the morning.]

Think you can manage in there? [He still thought it was too small]

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[Abe had already settled himself under the water with his arms folded across his chest. Rather than move he thought his response up to Charles.] It will be a better sleep than I've had in months, thank you.

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[Charles smiles happily to himself, giving Abe a nod as he flicks off the lights] Sleep well then.

[He goes back to the bedroom and gets himself in bed. It would be a long and busy day tomorrow, no doubt.]

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Charles Xavier

December 2016

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