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usavatar wrote in singularitylogs
what ; Steve done pissed off Erik. Erik done said he will hunt down Steve's teammates if the soldier doesn't show up for a meet-and-greet.
when ; Right after this. ...IE early evening on Christmas.

He doesn't hesitate after receiving the message, just changes into civilian clothes and leaves at once, the shield resting in its halter across his back. The only pause he makes is to leave a note under Peggy's door. It's not for selfless reasons - Erik wouldn't have said an hour if he planned to start attacking people immediately, and Steve wants to get a look at the meeting place before the actual confrontation.

The civilian clothes, well. His field uniform has too much metal to be anything but a detriment.

He should talk to Stark about designing something armored without any metal for Erik to use, if things go on like this. At least he has a coat on for a bit of padding.

The location is about what he expected. Barren, which is a plus - but right in the middle of an empty city zone, metal on all sides. Steve takes a deep breath as his adrenaline starts to rise.

Probably this is going to kill him.

Steve walks the block, sidewalk to sidewalk and intersection to intersection, mentally measuring it out, taking note of all the potential weapons - his and Erik's. Then it's back to the center to lean his shield against a bench and walk to the middle of the street, unarmed, to wait.

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Unfortunately for Steve, even his civilian clothing contains enough metal to identify.

There isn't any warning. No speeches, no chance for Steve to make any more arguments. The metal in both buildings on either side of him starts to groan, girders bending and twisting, and both start to topple.

Erik, of course, is watching from a nearby roof, his expression set and furious as he brings the buildings down.

He tenses, watching for a breath in awe as the buildings fold toward him. Realization hits and Steve's stomach clenches: Erik is playing a bully's game.

And then he runs. Snatches the shield from its resting place, slides it onto his arm, and dives clear of the shadow of the buildings before rolling back onto his feet and bracing for the shockwave, for whatever detritus - or construction - Erik throws at him next.

He can't reason with the man until he reveals himself, can't hope to talk him down until he's not hurling architecture without a word or even a signal as to his whereabouts. Just block the hammer of metal and glass exploding outward as the former skyscrapers turn into tidal waves of debris. He won't call out. He won't try to get away. Just fight, and wait, and hope there's something he can do to end this before someone else gets hurt.

Edited at 2011-12-30 04:26 am (UTC)

And since Erik has absolutely no intention of putting himself on Steve's level, at least not yet, he stays safely where he is and calls to the metal threaded through all of that falling debris. It's more than he's ever tried to move before, and far beyond the limits of his fine control, but in his fury he's perfectly capable of lobbing great chunks of concrete and steel haphazardly like a child throwing blocks. Falling debris converges on Steve, following him when he tries to dodge.

He takes hits from the first few against the shield, angling it away from himself rather than trying to fight the intertia of hundred and thousand-pound blocks. But this is like fighting toy soldiers, puppets instead of people, and if Erik wants to, Steve realizes, he'll be outflanked in a second.

The problem is finding something to get his back against that can't be turned against him as well.

His breathing is already starting to get labored. This is like the avalanche in the junk yard, but a hundred times worse -it's like everything there suddenly took umbridge at his letting off steam and started attacking at once. No wonder Pietro is afraid of the man. What Erik's capable of is already terrifying.

Steve drops, rolls, fetches up against the sidewalk at the edge of a small park between the buildings and plows into the trees. Still a few streetlamps here, but at least there's some cover - and not nearly as much ready ammunition.

Edited at 2011-12-30 06:14 pm (UTC)

The park is a minor nuisance in an otherwise perfect physical location; on the other hand, Erik could always topple a building just so and flood that area with concrete and steel. He chooses not to. Toppling buildings is a good outlet for the rage burning through him but it's too clumsy, trying to swat a fly with a tennis racket. He could watch Steve dodge falling chunks of rock all day and it wouldn't be enough.

It occurs to him, briefly, that he recognizes that particular impulse. Klaus Schmidt had never been one for getting his hands dirty unnecessarily, but there were always occasions when he wanted to make the incisions himself, when he wanted his hands and not an assistant's wrapped around someone's (Erik's) internal organs. There were plenty of subordinates that could have seen to the care of a child, and a few that did. Yet Schmidt always reserved certain practices for his own hands. If you want something done right, you had to do it yourself, he'd whispered, and while Erik would have shaken through his fever alone in a ball under a bed he'd magnetized to the floor, where the guards couldn't reach even to give him medicine, Schmidt knew the value of a personal, precise touch. Erik had attacked every person who tried to touch him but for Schmidt, he'd allowed himself be coaxed out and in a matter of minutes was clinging to the man who'd murdered his mother.

He could almost hear Shaw's faint disapproval in his ear, really Erik, leveling buildings, I taught you better than this and his mind flashes of its own accord to every button, every rivet on Steve's clothing, the tiny bits of metal no human realized they carried with them everywhere, and how easy it would be to simply push. Like a coin through flesh.

The nausea that abruptly claws at his throat sends him sideways, throwing a hand up to catch himself against a wall. His control wavers and the steel chasing Steve falls off, dropping to the ground naturally.

He has the coin. He has the coin with him at all times, still tarnished with blood. He had tried to get rid of it, to leave it somewhere and walk away, but his mind stays with it, feeling every ridge and imprint of the design, feeling the additional iron in the blood splashed across it. It's the weapon that murdered his father and his future with Charles in one clean stroke, and he can't ever let go of it.

Erik tells himself that it's because Rogers doesn't deserve a quick death, a casual execution by some insignificant piece of metal he'd never see coming. A button, a screw, a ribbon thin piece of wire. Killing the man isn't the point at all. This is about showing him and his little team what they're dealing with, what kind of consequences Rogers is flirting with when he declares so naively that he's going to stop Erik. There is nothing he can do to stop Erik, ever, and it was time he learned something about helplessness and futility.

He resolutely does not think of the way Charles looked at him in Cuba, as though he were a stranger, a murderer reveling in his grandstanding. This isn't that. This is... pre-emptive. If Erik had done something like this earlier, perhaps the navies would never have chosen to fire on them. Perhaps they would have already known the futility and tried to negotiate. If the Avengers and their boyscout leader know exactly what they are dealing with, perhaps they'll take the hint and stay out of his business.

A deep breath, and Erik calls to the thick steel cabling in the debris, the decorative iron fencing, anything he can twist into a fluid, mobile shape and send flying after Steve. It alternates between metal rods flung like javelins, trying to impale him, and flexible wires trying to entangle him, hold him down, squeeze until he can't breathe.

It's the pause between the crash of falling cement and the new attack that unnerves Steve the most. The silence can mean nothing good-

He jerks the shield up instinctively as the chuck-chuck-chuck of metal shredding foliage fills the air. A volley of rebar bounces off the shield, feeling like a volley of twigs thanks to the vibranium. The railing that slams his legs out from under him feels a lot more like, you know, a railing.

He rolls back to his feet, feels a passing wire open his upper arm like cutting into hard cheese. A tangle of wires grapples around his throat and he slices his fingers wrenching them apart. They regroup and attack again.

Steve hisses, blocking the direct attacks and snapping and bending the attempts to pin him down or get around his throat. It's like being in the middle of a swarm of insects bent on murder, and it's not long before the air tastes and smells like blood.

Steve grits his teeth and wishes for one of the flame throwers from HYDRA's infantry divisions. But he won't stop fighting- not when a small rod shoots past his defenses and plunges through his shoulder, another into his calf. Not when one arm gets pinned against him as he blocks a strangling wire and it manages to wrap around his wrist and neck. His shield is still free -

And there's the question again of why Erik hasn't used it.

Steve drops onto one knee, the rod in his calf twisting. This is bad.

An easy answer. The shield doesn't respond to Erik's powers, for whatever reason, the same way Shaw's helmet didn't. The rest of the metal, however, sings him a different story. He can feel it when his cables finally succeed in restricting Steve's movement, and they twist around the man like snakes to hobble him further. No more impaling, he only wants Steve more or less immobilized and most importantly, helpless. Waiting, knowing something worse was coming.

Only then does he come down from his vantage point. It takes him a bit to get there, metal coiling around his arms and shoulders. He's confident in his ability to destroy Rogers if he has to, at this point. Not that it's going to come to that.

Steve stills when Erik finally appears, tangled in metal that's bent out of shape with his own efforts to get free. He's on the ground at this point, wire and rebar braided around every limb. Deep breath, hold, exhale quietly.

"Magnus," he says, almost conversationally. There's an edge to it - wariness, the tension of physical pain - but overall it's calm.

Pietro's warning rises oh-so-helpfully from somewhere in the back of Steve's brain. If he was going to kill you, Rogers, he wouldn't do it quickly.

I could do this all day, he thinks, with a heavy dose of irony.

"Captain," Erik returns coolly. A flick of his fingers eases some of the metal constricting Steve's chest and neck, not wanting to slowly choke the man into unconsciousness. He needed to be awake for this.

Erik eyes his apparent captive for a long moment, taking in his injuries, the way he'd struggled, and his expression twists briefly. He looks away, pinching the bridge of his nose. The metal chains twined around his arms ripple in response to his aggravation, and the edges of them fray, revealing themselves as hundreds of small spheres held together as a chain only by will. Bullets, in a pinch. The edges nearest Erik's hands fracture into individual spheres, free floating.

"Are you an idiot, Rogers?" he demands, apropos of nothing. "Did you honestly come here by yourself to face me? I didn't tell you to come alone."

His reaction to that probably seems a little insane. He grins, brief and crooked. "You know, for some reason I get that a lot."

Steve's attention flicks to the chains, to the briefly-imagined damage they can do and the mental preparation for it. He starts to shrug, but the motion in and of itself hurts, so he stops half-way and relaxes again. "I didn't want to fight. And I wasn't about to bring someone you'd already threatened."

Edited at 2011-12-31 04:44 pm (UTC)

That smile makes something twist inside his chest. His jaw clenches. "We don't always get what we want."

Erik glances down briefly at his wearable, checking the timestamp and then looking back out at the destruction he'd caused. "Nevertheless, they'll come on their own soon enough. To rescue you, or to investigate the disturbance."

The dust cloud is already billowing high above the tops of the remaining buildings. It would be hard to miss, even for someone just popping in from a teleporter.

"No." A breath of real fear. The thought of the rest of them - the not-really-Avengers, Wanda and Pietro, any others Peggy reached out to - tangled or gored or sliced to pieces by metal.


"Eri- Magnus. You don't have to do this, not to them. You don't have to be what you've been told." He presses against the bindings again, the strips of metal whining against each other. "We can help each other. Change things."

"And what," Erik asks without turning his head, tightening Steve's bonds a fraction, "could you possibly do to 'help' me. A man can't fight his own nature. This is what I was groomed for, whether I wanted it or not. There's an entire species out there waiting for me to become some kind of war leader and a symbol of hope to them."

"It's not that I haven't thought about it, you know. Trying to change the future. I thought about taking my own life, I thought about vanishing to become a hermit up in the mountains, I even thought about begging my dearest friend to erase my memories in hopes that I might somehow become something different." His fists clench, although his tone stays conversational. "You and he would get along very well. He tries to see the good in all things, even me. But you should know that he eventually realized that there just wasn't enough. And you should also understand that if I wasn't standing here, right now, it would be someone else in my place. My decisions aren't going to stop the future."

Edited at 2011-12-31 10:26 pm (UTC)

"He's wrong. And you're the only one who can convince anyone of that. You can be a leader without war. You don't need to kill anyone - not with what you can do." He struggles more as the metal tightens, opens new cuts along one arm, bends around the shield. Another groan; one of the ropes of rebar starts to split. "You can be a symbol of hope without blood. The future isn't something to stop, it's something to change. I understand. I understand what it means, being told who you are, what your choices will be like you have no option to do things differently."

At the feeling of the rebar giving way he flexes, pushing with the shield, knowing Erik will just pin him again. He doesn't care. He has to either provoke a fight or make sure there's no one here to save. The words are half-pointless, a distraction for Erik and Steve both. "You're giving up on yourself. Defeating yourself."

Edited at 2011-12-31 11:06 pm (UTC)

That earns a bark of laughter. "How could the great and infallible Charles Xavier be wrong? He's a telepath, the most powerful telepath in the world. He knows me better than I know myself, as he's fond of claiming."

He doesn't have to be watching to feel some of metal giving way, and chooses to ignore it. But he does turn back to look at Steve, his expression remote.

"You're a human," he says softly. "You fought the war on the right side. Your country calls you Captain America like a favorite son, and you have a mutant -- my son, someone that might be my son in the future -- that would kill for you."

"What could you possibly understand."

He stops fighting to catch his breath, which he almost holds, barely daring to believe that he might have a chance to get through.

"No one is infallible." His tone echoes Erik's own. "And I was only Captain America for two years. My mother died when I was ten - tuberculosis. My father went before I was born. I grew up in an Orphanage in Brooklyn. Half the time I was too sick to get out of bed - the rest of it, I got beat up in every alley in Brooklyn and Hell's Kitchen. No one thought I could do anything, be anyone, and they told me so every chance they got. I heard some of the orphanage workers talking once, when I got sick - they were surprised I hadn't died already. They made plans for the bed once I did."

It's strange to say all this, particularly to someone not Bucky or Peggy. Definitely to say it to Erik, to someone who for all intents and purposes is an enemy. It's in some ways like dragging a knife across open wounds.

He looks away. "I had one friend. Just one. He stayed with me right up until we tried to enlist - he made it. I didn't. But I didn't stop trying, I didn't give up, and somebody noticed. He gave me the chance to be someone different. To be Captain America. I know it's not the same. I know I can't imagine what you went through. But I know, and I'll never stop believing, that no one has to be what they're told they have to be. There's always, always a chance to change if you don't give up on the possibility."

Edited at 2012-01-01 02:14 am (UTC)

Erik's expression doesn't change as he listens to this unwanted history lesson, but he does listen to the entire thing without interruption, and the cables slacken just the tiniest bit at the word 'mother.' More tellingly, the metal coiled around his arms ripples in agitation when Steve talks about his bed being discussed for redistribution. Erik had seen a lot of hospital and cell beds in his youth, and he remembers vividly the arguments about space and the pitiless judgments made.

Everything Steve is saying, unfortunately, is the kind of argument another blue eyed idealist had tried to persuade him with, and each of them fetches up against the reality of Charles' paralysis by Erik's hand, the horrifying knowledge that he'd failed to stop another bullet. The words are right but Erik has no more faith left to put in them, not from a human, not from anyone who isn't a telepath and doesn't know him.

So when Steve is finished, Erik looks down on him and hates him for saying the right words at the wrong time, when Erik couldn't believe in them even if he wanted to. He hates the fact that every step he takes is wrong, moving away from the selfish personal things he wants but always seemingly necessary, always in line with some agenda he can't ignore. He could let Steve go. He could apologize, he could try to explain himself and the date and the snow and the helpless fury he feels at being trapped without any of his normal coping mechanisms, and that he's estranged the only pillar of support he's allowed himself in decades. He could explain that he put that person in a wheelchair and no matter what else he does, ever, that will never be made right.

And maybe Steve would understand. Maybe.

Then again, the telepath who had claimed to know everything about him hadn't.

"Unfortunately, Captain," he answers at last, settling his chains and back to being impassive, "it's not all about the future and the decisions I've yet to make. The things that have already happened can't be changed, and that still makes me a murderer."

And then, as an afterthought, "You should stop struggling. You're only going to hurt yourself unnecessarily."

He takes in every reaction, until he can't look at Erik any more - too busy thinking about his own history, about Bucky, about Erskine. When he finishes and looks back at Erik, the tension in every muscle is almost unbearable.

Please. Please.

The silence isn't promising. Steve forces himself to relax, little by little, surreptitiously feeling out the loosened bindings and mentally noting where he's done the most damage. Where they're starting to give.

Erik speaks. Steve braces. He's moving before Erik finishes unneccesarily, faster than anyone simply human could. A hard wrench against every bit of constricting metal and a roll to one side. Feet under him. Now. One chance, one more chance - until he finds his next one.

Steve launches himself at Erik shield-first.

It's the last thing he's expecting, which he'll find unforgivable immediately afterwards. An attack out of nowhere. A surge of metal. Cuba springs to mind.

Erik flings both hands out instinctively, but the shield doesn't respond to him (he knows that, he'd known that before, he'd called to it and it didn't respond, reminding him of Shaw's helmet) and for a paralyzing moment he remembers the times as a boy when his powers had failed him, the creeping certainty that his abilities had never been his own, but something only called forth when his master wished. His strength, his gift, had failed to save him from the worst tragedies of his life.

Impact cures him of that particular train of thought. He spits a curse in German as he's bowled over by what has to be a goddamn truck masquerading as a terribly naive American. He can hear the breath leave his lungs in an awful gasping wheeze, and his ears ring as his head bounces off the ground. Pain announces itself. An old and familiar companion.

The world simplifies, abruptly. Erik squashes the urge to grapple like an ordinary primate, squashes the urge to go for the carved Nazi knife in the top of his boot. Rage and betrayal flood his veins and he steps aside for it, letting his mouth contort into a snarl, letting his fingers curl into claws, everything metal around him surging to answer his call. The cabling that had failed to hold Steve before darts through the air, spearing into flesh and curling around the shield, yanking it away from Steve and Steve away from him.

"You humans," he hisses, remembering the guns in the water turning towards him, orienting themselves at his friends, his children. This time he doesn't just bind Steve. His metal drags him into the air, crucifying his flesh.

"Was that the point of all this? Take me off guard, attack at the first moment of opportunity? Your species is all the same."

He gestures sharply and the knife rises into the air, hovering directly in front of Steve, the design of the hilt and on the blade obligingly visible.

"Perhaps you'd like to try one more time to appeal to my better nature."

Edited at 2012-01-02 07:37 am (UTC)

The noise Steve makes doesn't exactly qualify as a scream. Always, up until now, he's had some scale of experience on which to rate pain from the battlefield. Worse than this fight, not as bad as that spell of illness. Burns, scrapes, bullet wounds.

In one moment Erik manages to shift Steve's entire paradigm of agony.

He doesn't realize he's in the air or that the shield is gone until the first rush of blindness passes and sensations beyond the burning at his wrists and ankles start to ripple back in. Confusion is the first emotion that hits - the change in perspective, a brief curiosity as to where the shield went and when.

You humans.

We have left humanity behind.

Erik's voice and Skull's blend horribly and coherency slips again.

"No." The emblem on the knife makes Steve's stomach knot. His arms are agony, muscle tremors sending earthquakes of pain from his wrists to his chest. He tries to drag his thoughts into some kind of order. But every time he gets close to a full idea, shock roars through him and leaves him half-blinded again. "That wasn't. Why."

For a second, Steve's not sure if the words are in his mouth or just his head. "Don't."

Don't do this, don't let them see this, you don't have to do this, be this, just stop.

"Magnus- Erik." Steve's voice sounds strangely hollow in his own ears. He gets distracted by the echoes, some of which sound like Bucky, some like Peggy, and deep down in the well of semiconsciousness he's slipping into, Erskine, Skull, his mother. "You're not."

I fought a monster. You aren't one. Not yet. Not yet. Don't prove them right.

He feels like someone strung fuses through his arms and legs instead of muscles. He feels like he's burning from the outside in.

His eyes are closed, and he's not sure when that happened.

Please, don't do this.

"Stop." Before anyone comes, before anyone sees, before the abuse of another living being becomes a hallmark, a thing to be remembered by. Steve can't stop imagining in little lightning flashes all the scenes Pietro and Erik himself described, murder and torture and thousands of lives destroyed or ripped to pieces.

Breathing turns to light gasps. A little less painful but no less difficult.

"Don't be this."

It's a last effort, like the death rattle of reasonable discourse, and Steve opens his eyes just enough to be bewildered by a few red raindrops falling from his wrist to hit the snow.

"It's too late for that," Erik tells him gently, sliding more coils of metal around his torso to take his weight and hold him in the air. It wouldn't do for the cables to tear through his wrists and let him fall, and Erik had carefully avoided hitting anything lethal. Steve would have scars, but nothing internal had been punctured. One of Shaw's oft-repeated lessons, that Erik learn human anatomy with absolute precision, and understand exactly where he could introduce metal and leave the patient (victim) alive for Shaw's pleasure.

The knife dips for a moment and then tucks itself neatly into a pocket, a thin drop of metal from the hilt reforming to create a convenient sheath. A gift. Shaw had given Erik the coin that eventually killed him, after all. Perhaps Captain America would find some use for this.

And then Erik turns and leaves him there, checking his wearable again for the time. It shouldn't be long, now.

Since hearing of the situation from Agent Carter, Clint has slid entirely into professional mode. Back in his SHIELD uniform for the first time since arriving, quiver on his back and bow in his hands, he rushes to the location Stark had found. At Peggy's warning, he had ditched most of the metal in the quiver--sticking to the woods and plastics. Still, that didn't leave him with much, so he'd been decidedly uncautious in bringing a few with sharp metal heads with him.

When he came upon the scene, sticking to the shadows and doing his best not to be seen, he was glad he had, however. He winced at the sight of Rogers being strung up like that, and without thinking through the rest of a plan sent three arrows flying. Two were aimed with expert precision for the captain's restraints, sent with enough power to cut through just about anything. The third was meant for Erik.

Bruce had met up with Agent Barton at the teleporters and was more than glad to avoid any actual conversations about what he was planning to do. It's still a kind of numb panic that this is even a legitimate plan that he was really considering. But the way the ground shakes and the sound of screeching metal echoes in the air...

It's easy to keep up with Barton (all the years of cardio paying off), but it's the sight of the captain strung up like that that sucker punches the wind out of him.

"Oh, no."

He's rooted where he stands as the arrows whistle through the air.

Ah, the reinforcements. Erik doesn't need to see them to sense their arrival, his mind latching on to the signature of moving metal. He doesn't shift position, having set himself up a considerate distance away from where he'd strung Steve up in the air. It wouldn't do to let him become collateral damage.

Erik ignores the arrows that free his captive and calls up a shield of metal to deflect the third. A lazy gesture to the side stirs the debris, cables rising up from the ground like a forest of snakes.

"I'm sorry, gentlemen," he calls out, tone mild. "I didn't quite catch your names."

"Will you shut up?" Clint mutters out of the side of his mouth to Bruce, clearly not needing the commentary. Banner calling attention to himself was also another reminder of the scientist's presence, something that had the potential to be more of a stressor than Magneto himself.

But back to the task at hand. Clint straightens up and eyes Erik carefully, expression stern. "Don't worry about it," he calls back, letting another arrow fly. This one is entirely plastic, rigged to explode on impact.

"Sorry, I'm not used to-" Bruce retorts under his breath. "That." Whether he means somebody crucified right in front of him or the whole metal moving like it's alive is up to you to decide.

Swallowing nervously, he winces as Rogers hits the ground. Then he starts edging away from Clint and towards the captain. He knows he's no good in the situation as he is, and he's not about to try otherwise. Let the others go and do the hero thing - he's gonna focus on getting himself and Steve out of there.

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