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Title: Self-Made Mutant
Rating: PG
Summary: Hamilton Fantomos reminds Professor X of an old friend.


Charles is so used to beneficial mutations that he has nearly forgotten about the debilitating ones. You only get to be called a mutant, after all, if your genes have made you stronger, faster, wiser, capable of the impossible. If not, then you are still human. Distressingly human. To be human is to be fallible, and there are few things more fallible than those who were not gifted, but stolen from. Charles knows this, because his own body has been burglarized, but only now is he beginning to think that he doesn't know the beginning of nature's thievery.

Hamilton Fantomos is young and angular and haughty. Despite the warm summer day, he wears a full suit and gloves to his appointment with Professor Xavier. Charles knows that he's just completed his doctorate at an impressive age; he's barely twenty-five, but his eyes are dark and calculating and make him look so much older. He also walks like an older man, slower than any boy Charles has ever taught.

Standing in front of Charles with his hands clasped behind his back, Fantomos is tall and imposing, but self-consciously so. “Professor Xavier,” he says, and bows stiffly. His voice is plummy and ingratiatingly accented. Trying too hard, Charles thinks.

“Dr. Fantomos,” Charles says. He wheels himself out from behind his desk. He wants Fantomos to see the chair. “As of last week, I hear. Congratulations.”

Fantomos smiles slyly. “Indeed. Thank you, Professor.”

“Please, call me Charles.” He extends his hand. Fantomos hesitates momentarily before accepting it. He does not offer his own first name. “I understand that these,” Charles continues, holding Fantomos's hand aloft, rubbing his thumb over the knuckles and feeling the firmness of steel beneath the give of fabric, “are some of the fruits of your research.”

“Some,” Fantomos agrees noncommittally, withdrawing his hand. “A prototype only. I predict that robotics research will be taking great leaps in the next ten years.”

“And yet, I hear you have some ideas to surpass even the most sophisticated of robotics.”

“I may.” The pause stretches between them. Charles knows that Fantomos is hoping to make him uncomfortable.

“I must say, I'm very curious to hear all about them. And I have a great many resources that I would be happy to offer you, if they would help to further your research,” Charles finally says, as if there had been no pause at all.

Fantomos quirks an eyebrow at him. “Hoping that I will be able to make you walk again, Professor?”

“You've done a marvelous job on yourself.”

This garners a sneer. “These?” He holds both hands out, palms up. “Crude prostheses, barely better than having a claw on each arm.” Then he lowers his arms, cocking his wrists and angling his fingers in to indicate his legs. “And these? Scarcely more than tin cans.” Now there is rage in his eyes, and a desire for revenge that is all too familiar. “I can do better.”

“I'm sure you can,” Charles says softly. “Let me help you. You can be a part of something bigger—”

The sound of creaking metal interrupts him. Fantomos takes a step forward and leans over Charles, placing on hand on the back of his wheelchair for balance. “But I already am!” he says, then throws back his head and laughs. It's a terrible laugh because it's not the laugh of a madman, but that of a driven, intelligent man who had to come to terms with the cruelty of life at a young age. Only someone like Charles could know the difference.

“Yes, your family history. I'm well aware.” Your grandfather was a thief and a scoundrel, Charles thinks, and you idolize him because you fear that he was more able than you'll ever be.

“But not only that.” Fantomos taps one finger on the chair, thuds made dull and thick by the material of the glove. “You sit here with your precious 'mutants,' your 'gifted youngsters,' trying to pretend you aren't as freakish as I am, and that you can work with the mass of dullards that have the majority on this planet. But why not take it all?” He grins, all teeth and charm like a cheap suit. “I used to be inferior--” Charles doesn't turn at the sound of Fantomos tightening his fist around the brace at the back of his chair, crushing it “--and I made myself superior. Why shouldn't I take what I want?”

Charles holds Fantomos's gaze. “I had a friend once who thought very much like you.” He nods to the hand still clenching his wheelchair. Fantomos lets go and stands up straight. “You wouldn't be much of a threat to him, however.”

“Ah, Magneto.” He pronounces every syllable with exaggerated, mocking deliberation. “What was that line from The Graduate? 'I want to say one word to you. Are you listening? Plastics.'” Fantomos smirks. “I shall improve.”

“I wish you luck,” Charles says. “You think I don't understand, but—”

“You don't,” Fantomos reaches out and presses one finger to the center of Charles's forehead, “because you've always had this. Nature was kind to you, wasn't she? It was only Fate that bore you any ill will.” He steps back and lets his hand fall to his side. “Goodbye, Professor Xavier,” he says, then turns on his heel and walks slow and careful from Charles's study.


Fifteen years later, Hamilton Fantomos resurfaces with a streak of white in his hair, a domino mask, and a pair of electric arms that can incapacitate Wolverine.

Charles can't help but be a little bit impressed.


[A response to my own prompt.]
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August 2011

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