The mental call jerked Raven awake, and she frowned unhappily. She had made her choice. 'Charlotte...'
'Raven...' Relief came through with the confirmation and Raven paused in the outraged lambasting she was about to unleash upon her sister. There was something else there, beneath the relief... was it panic? But Charlotte never panicked...
'Raven... he's out of control... hospital... too much... hurts...' Charlotte's disjointed thoughts interrupted Raven's internal musings and her focus sharpened.
'Who? Charlotte, where are you? What's happened?' she sent back, frantic as she realized that Charlotte's voice was getting fainter. A wave of confusion and pain was the only reply and she prompted again. 'Charlotte, where are you?'
'Florida?' finally came back, accompanied by uncertainty and bafflement.
'Hospital name. Come on, Charlotte, I need more,' Raven demanded. She was already heading down the hallway toward's Azazel's room. She might disagree with Charlotte on a number of things, but the telepath was still her sister and she was disturbed by how... terrified Charlotte seemed. Erik was out for the moment on some mission of his own, so Raven had no compunction about acting on her own initiative. 'Charlotte,' she prodded.
'South Miami Hospital,' the answer came back, whisper soft, and the connection was gone.
Swearing to herself, Raven pounded on Azazel's door. "Azazel. Get up. I need you."*****
Charlotte stifled a sob as she lost touch with Raven's mind. She was exhausted, and the pain in her head was overwhelming. The thoughts and feelings of the rest of the hospital's inhabitants only made it worse, and she could feel herself getting lost in the minds of others. As it was, she didn't know how she had gotten to Florida. All of that, along with the fact that she couldn't feel her legs, had her hanging on to her composure by her fingernails. The drugs certainly weren't helping, either. She was surprised she'd been able to reach her sister, but she had been fueled by desperation. She had yet to alert any of the medical staff of her awareness, wanting to understand the situation first. However, her inability to concentrate was hampering her efforts. Hopefully, Raven would be able to help her to get out of the hospital before she completely lost her mind.*****
Raven stalked through the hospital, Emma following at a more leisurely pace, until she arrived at the room that Emma had discovered from a wandering nurse's mind. Once there, however, she stopped and braced herself with a deep breath before opening the door. As she entered, she couldn't quite contain the small sound of distress that escaped her. Charlotte was there, but she looked... fragile, something Raven had never considered possible. Even more worrying, she didn't react at all to their entrance. "Charlotte," she murmured.
Frowning, Emma strode to the end of the bed and picked up the chart, her frown only deepening as she read. "They have her pretty heavily sedated. Evidently, her nightmares were bothering the other patients. Though, there's no mention of it before today... oh, she was in a coma and..." Emma's voice trailed off and she looked over at Raven. Sure, she had no particular fondness for the other woman, but she wasn't completely without compassion.
For her part, Raven was still reeling about the coma. Clearing her throat, she asked, "How... how long?"
"Six weeks. Mystique... she's paralyzed... and pregnant," Emma stated, deciding it was better to just deliver the blow quickly.
Shock had Raven rippling back to her true form, her blue skin a stark contrast to the white of the hospital room. "Oh god... Oh my god... we... we left her there. She... she was hurt, but... she told me to go. I thought she was fine... She's Charlotte. She's always fine." Tears started to flow unheeded from golden eyes, and Raven grasped Charlotte's hand in a death grip.
For her part, Emma was more concerned with logistics. She could sympathize somewhat, but she wasn't about to absolve the girl for abandoning her wounded sister on a beach. In fact, that incident had made her very wary of trusting the so-called Brotherhood, if that was how family was treated. However, the Brotherhood wasn't really equipped to deal with someone in Charlotte's condition. "What do you plan to do?" she asked, cutting into the girl's continued murmurings of apology to the other telepath.
Sniffing, Raven shifted back to the nurse she had been impersonating. "We're taking her with us. She can't handle being in hospitals when she's hurt. I've only seen in her one once before, and it wasn't pretty." Wiping her eyes, she straightened her shoulders. "I'm not leaving her behind again."
Emma cocked an eyebrow but didn't argue. She had little love for hospitals herself, and that was with her own impressive defensives at full strength. She doubted Charlotte's shields were up to much at all, at the moment. "And how will you explain to Magneto?" One of the reasons she'd accompanied Mystique and Azazel on this unplanned trip was that she hadn't wanted to explain their absence to their ill-tempered leader. He had little love for her as it was.
Looking down at her sister, Raven brushed the hair away from the other woman's face. "I'm going to tell him the truth, and he had damned well do the right thing," she stated. "Call for Azazel. We're leaving before someone decides it's time to check up on her."*****
Azazel had looked as dubious as Emma felt, but he had held his tongue and here they were, back at the very nice estate that had once been one of Shaw's holdings. Emma still wasn't sure if she was disappointed or relieved that Magneto had yet to return. From the others' minds, she knew that the split between him and the other telepath had been pretty messy, and, with Charlotte's condition, it was clear that it was even messier than they had known. And as for Mystique... her feelings about Magneto were now conflicted. Before, she had been very much the man's right hand woman, but now that she was confronted with the reality of what had happened, she could no longer deceive herself with reassurances that her sister was fine. Quite frankly, the tangled knot of guilt, anger, fear, and other feelings was giving Emma a headache. But, she had the perfect excuse to get away. "We need supplies. And a medical professional. But I don't think we should bring anyone else here without Magneto's approval, so supplies will have to do."
Raven nodded her head distractedly, focused on arranging Charlotte in the bed as comfortably as possible. "Do you know what to get? I'm afraid my education never included anything in the medical fields."
"Oh, I'm sure I'll find what I need," Emma assured her with a sharp smile. "You might want to warn Angel about our new guest. I doubt she'll be too happy about it."
Raven scowled. Angel had made several disparaging remarks about Charlotte in the past, but the girl had best watch her step now. It was strange, she'd never been in the position where she'd felt she'd had to protect Charlotte before, but seeing her sister looking so vulnerable scared her. "I'll deal with it. I want to talk to Er... Magneto first."
"Suit yourself," Emma returned with a shrug. It wasn't her problem, and she really hoped the whole situation would be resolved before she returned, but she wasn't going to count on it. Supplies were going to include alcohol... lots and lots of alcohol.*****
Erik stopped at the end of the long drive and donned the helmet that had been absent from his head for the past couple of days. He had to admit, it had been nice to feel the wind in his hair again, but he didn't trust the White Queen to stay out of his head. He'd felt her before, and it was a far cry from Charlotte's warm, gentle presence. He thrust that thought away quickly. Charlotte was gone, had rejected him and his cause, so it would serve no purpose to dwell on her. Continuing the drive to the main house, he was pleased there appeared to be no damage--at least on the outside. He had a rather volatile group, none of which had any compunction about using their powers to get a point across.
As he pulled into the garage, he noted that one of the cars was gone, the white Jag, so it was probably Emma who had ventured off the grounds. He'd no more than grabbed his duffel and shut the door when Azazel appeared.
"Mystique needs to talk to you. I will take Riptide and Angel to lunch, and Emma has gone for supplies," Azazel said, and then he was gone.
Erik's brow furrowed. He couldn't imagine what Mystique would need to discuss with him alone... unless... He quickened his pace. It had to concern Charlotte and the boys. There wasn't anything else that would unsettle the shapeshifter so, and the rest of the Brotherhood wouldn't understand.*****
"Mystique?" he called out as he entered the house.
He frowned when there wasn't an immediate response and started up the stairs. "Azazel said you needed to talk?" he prompted. He was surprised when she suddenly came out of a room that had been empty when he left... and it looked like she had been crying. "What's happened?"
Raven choked out a bitter laugh even as she wiped her eyes. "Charlotte... she, she contacted me last night. Erik..." she trailed off, not sure how to continue. "I had Azazel take me to her and... and she's here... but..."
"Charlotte's here?" Erik moved toward the door Raven was blocking.
"Wait... There... There's something you need to know, first," Raven stopped him, holding a hand out that just touched his chest. "She... she was in a coma and just woke up when she called for me."
Erik blanched, halting his progress. "A coma? Is she all right? Were they attacked?"
Biting her lip, Raven looked down. "She was in a coma for six weeks," she whispered. "And.. there's more." Forcing herself to make eye contact, she repeated Emma's words, "She's paralyzed... and pregnant."
For a moment, Erik could only stare at her in incomprehension. Six weeks? But that was when they were in Cuba... and then the rest of what Raven said registered--paralyzed and pregnant. Mein Gott... He'd paralyzed the mother of his unborn child and abandoned her on a beach surrounded by enemies.