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Points of Authority

Posted on Wed Jun 22nd, 2022 @ 3:09pm by Charles Xavier & Levi Rousseau

Mission: Episode 2: Northern X-Posure
Location: Brooklyn Secret Service Field Office
Timeline: August 4th, 1990

"United States Secret Service." The high-and-tight agent flashed his ID with a shiny gold badge. "And you're under arrest."

Before Levi knew it, was being whisked away in handcuffs inside a van. The sedan where the agents had stuffed Margo sped off in the opposite direction. Soon enough, the van was swerving through the city streets without regard for traffic laws.

Levi's heart pounded in his chest but he tried to calm his thoughts and focus on what he could derive. He didn't know if this was the same thing that had happened to other mutants who had disappeared, but it seemed... off. They had cuffed him and outnumbered them, but they hadn't incapacitated his abilities, or even gave an indication they knew he was a mutant. He thought it best to keep that card up his sleeve for now.

"Arrested for what? And where'd you take Margo?" he asked the sunglasses sitting next to him, though none of them gave any indication they were going to converse.

"You're in deep shit, kid." The agent removed his sunglasses in attempts of staring a hole through Levi's face. "Kidnapping a United States Senator's daughter is bad enough, but now that her daddy is a frontrunner for the presidential primary? You're going to get your very own federal prosecutor."

~These men truly do appear to be agents of the United States Secret Service~ said the Professor's voice in Levi's mind. ~I am tracking multiple students at once with great difficulty. My attorney will meet you at the field office where they are taking you. Say nothing until you speak with him~

The professor's words were a comfort in that at least he wasn't in immediate danger, but Xavier sounded stressed and that worried him. Levi visibly relaxed his shoulders and closed his eyes. ~I'll be fine, then. Focus on those in danger.~

"You know, I've watched Miami Vice before and know you didn't read me my rights. But I'll pretend that you did so that you don't get in trouble," Levi said with a small peaceful smile.

"Is that a fact?" The stonefaced agent grinned for a moment before hauling his hand back and slapping Levi across the face. "Does it look like I'm worried about any trouble from you?"

The agent seemed to want to escalate an argument, but Levi remembered his time at the monstary. 'Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coat with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned,' he could hear the old monk telling him back in Thailand as they gathered water at the well. The memory affirmed Levi's path of non-violence and it caused a further uptick in a corner of his mouth. He felt very centered and very much in control of his own emotions. "I'll start practicing that right to remain silent now," he replied simply.

"You think you got rights," the agent said. "That's cute."

After whipping through the streets, the van came to an abrupt halt. The panel door flew open and two armed men in security uniforms unstrapped Levi.

"Here we are at the end of the line," the agent said. "Move it, kid. This is where things get fun."

Levi gritted his teeth as he was moved out of the van toward the entrance of a building. Flashes of what had happened to him at Roxxon ran through his mind. His own hands still cuffed together, unknown grips on his arms and shoulders, he felt very much powerless in that moment.

But even like this, he knew he wasn't powerless and, unlike last time he had been abducted, he powers weren't being repressed. Fear and adrenaline fought against his own self-reassurances that the Professor would pull though but for the moment kept the full-on panic attack at bay. He allowed himself to be ushered through the door with only a moderate uptick in wind that howled through the vestibule.

In short order, Levi was led through dark hallways that were conspicuously dark and under-lit. A series of doors flew by as he was frogmarched toward the end and unceremoniously flung into a windowless room. There was but a single overhead light that hung from vaulted darkness over table and chair setup that was anchored to the floor.

"Oh... this is... lovely," Levi said after the door had closed with a clang. "I really hope he knows what he's doing." After a few minutes it became apparent action was not happening quickly around here. He sat down on the floor cross-legged and closed his eyes to clear his mind.

After an indeterminate period of time, the door creaked open. A petite Latina woman appeared, wearing a slate colored skirt suit that obscured her natural curves except for her toned calves. She entered the room and took a seat at the chair nearest the door.

"Levi Rousseau," she stated calmly while unbinding the case file in front of her. "You're not from around here, are you?"

Levi had opened his eyes when she entered. He watched her sit. He raised slowly to his feet and walked over to the chair where he was supposed to have sat before and finally sat. "Your question lacks some context. I am from the United States, so I still have rights here." He took a leap of faith. "Which... I'm sure by now my lawyer has pointed out to you."

"You have a lawyer?" She clicked her tongue and shrugged. "News to me. Hopefully I will be long gone myself long before my federal colleagues become embroiled in any red tape." The bruises on his face made her flinch, but she otherwise kept her composure. "And hopefully your treatment will be... humane. My question is a singular one. We know the presidential candidate's daughter is a mutant, so we can only assume you are one too. Where were you taking her?" Leaning forward, she added emphasis, "The Brotherhood? The Morlocks? The Maggia? The Thieves Guild? Tell me your destination and I will force the Secret Service to forget your name."

Levi hadn't even heard most of those organizations before so his confusion was genuine and his brow furrowed more as she continued. He crossed his arms. If she had anything going for her, at least she wasn't using the threat of violence and it made him at least feel a bit more open to speaking. "You must either think I'm really powerful then or else really stupid. If she's a mutant, how--- why would I just be walking her down the street of her own free will with no restraints? How would I even pull that off? If I had the power to do that, I wouldn't have let a bunch of thugs in a van separate us without a fight, would I?"

The next part Levi said very pointedly. "I don't know her very well, but I know she is stubborn enough that she's not doing anything she doesn't want to. That's why you're here talking to me instead of asking her. She's not cooperating with you people. You have nothing."

"The girl is on a secure chopper headed for DC as we speak. I never saw her and don't plan to because I don't deal with strays and runaways. My concern is the burgeoning Mutant Underground and its many diverse facets." Her brow quivered with suspicion. "To which facet, I wonder, do you belong?"

Seeing she wasn't getting anywhere, she reached inside her suit jacket and removed credentials. The identification said Dr. Cecilia Reyes. The badge said MRD.

"We aren't the bad guys here. If you can help us, then you will be helping yourself. Where were you taking the girl?"

"MRD," Levi scoffed. "I've heard about you. Turning mutants against each other. In the name of good governance." He hadn't been been at Xavier's school very long, but he hadn't missed that particular lecture. "Look, Doctor, I'm not with anyone. We weren't going anywhere. I don't know how many times I need to say that."

Dr. Reyes smiled wryly. "The Mutant Response Division has a mixed history to be sure, but I really was here to help you. Pity that we could not help one another." She stood to her feet, raised her hand, and stared at Levi intently. Her fist began to glow in demonstration of a mutant power. "I'll be seeing you." And then she returned to the door. As she left, she said to someone out of sight in the hallway, "He's all yours."

Levi was somewhat relieved Reyes was gone. She had kind words, but little else about her felt good. Still, she had alluded that she was something of a lifeline to him and what came next was likely to be worse. That sent a chill down his spine and he stood up from the chair and scanned the room again for tactical ideas. He had one, maybe two ideas, but they led to Bad Outcomes. He was just going to have to ride this out. It could always be worse, he reminded himself, thinking back to Roxxon.

Agent High-and-Tight returned with sunglasses still on his face, his stride a confident rooster's strut. "Looks like the Mardies don't want you. I guess that means you aren't one of those scary mutants. I guess it also means that you're all mine." He had rushed forward in several swift steps, grabbing Levi by the hair, and then screamed into his face. "WHAT WERE YOU DOING WITH THE SENATOR'S DAUGHTER?!"

It all happened so quick. Disorientation, pain from the head, the man yelling in his face, a hot breath reeked of onions and some foul hygiene issues. All Levi wanted was for it all to stop. He clamped his eyes shut as hard as he could, yelled 'STOP!' as loud as he could. The words reverberated into the echo chamber of the underground room. And then silence.

Levi opened his eyes. Everything was the same, except the man had a look of abject terror in his eyes and seemed to be somewhat frozen in a moment as the last of his air whistled out of his open mouth. He made a few ugly noises as he tried over and over again to take a breath, but air would not enter.

Absolutely mortified by what was happening, the pain and suffering he was causing, Levi nonetheless broke the man's dying drip and escaped to the furthest corner. He didn't even know how it was still happening. He was doing it. Not consciously, anyway. High-and-tight crumpled to the ground.

"Think. Think quick." Levi closed his eyes, forcing himself to calm down. It was working. He felt the grip slowly leaving.

The agent took several raspy breaths, but speech was far from him. A squad of armed guards in SWAT armor flooded the room and held Levi at gunpoint. "Stand down!" the point man ordered.

Dr. Reyes herself had returned and began administering emergency assistance to the gagging agent. Once she had ensured he was alive and would potentially stay that way, her eyes narrowed on Levi as if she were deciding what to do with him.

Down the corridor, raised voices could be heard. What began as a muffled tumult turned to voracious shouting. Boots on concrete echoed up the hall until a surly black man in a blue business suit and FBI ballcap walked through the door to the interrogation room.

"Drop your weapons!" he shouted. "Put your goddamn weapons away and return to your post!"

The armed unit hesitated for a moment, all looking at the squad leader.

"Move out."

And, with the well-oiled discipline of an experienced tactical team, the men marched out with their footfalls in perfect unison.

"As for you two," the man said to Reyes and the Secret Service agent, "I'm taking the suspect into FBI custody."

"He's mine!" protested High-and-Tight.

"You work for the Treasury," said the FBI agent. "I work for the DoJ. Justice trumps Treasury, so kindly forward all juris-my-diction crap to my SAC."

High-and-Tight gave a silent snarl but said nothing.

"You got a problem with that, Reyes?" the FBI agent pointedly asked the MRD agent.

"No, ASAC Duncan, I don't." Dusting off her skirt suit, she said, "In fact, I was just leaving myself."

And she did just that.

The man called ASAC Duncan looked at Levi. "You good to walk?"

Levi, still clearly in shock, nodded after a moment. "I'm good," he said quietly and visibly relaxed his stance. He was more than happy to leave that room behind, but wary of the new agent. Nonetheless, "Agent Duncan" had single-handedly defused an entire room of escalated government attack dogs and that had been impressive.

"Then walk."

Duncan led Levi away from the interrogation room, though the hall they took was different from the one they'd followed. In fact, there appeared to be a hidden door. It opened as Duncan scanned his ID badge. When they passed through, it was like entering a whole new world of proper illumination, warm if boring walls, and an open concept full of cubicles.

"Someone's waiting for you in the lobby," said Duncan with a nod toward a thick door beneath an exit sign. "You'll understand if I don't escort you." It was an imperative, not a question. Duncan nodded at the door again in case there was any doubt.

Levi looked at the FBI agent with an expression of questioning skepticism. He was exiting the building through the lobby after everything that had just happened? After nearly killing a secret service agent? The expression was fleeting, however. Duncan gave little room for questions or interpretation and it appeared that maybe he really was an ally. Levi decided to take the man at face value, muttered a quick "Thanks," headed toward the exit, pushed it open, and never looked back.

"You're welcome, Charles," said Fred Duncan as he watched Levi exit the office and into the lobby.

Out in the lobby, there stood a man in a classy business suit with overly gelled blonde hair and large, round wirerimmed glasses. "Mr. Rousseau, I presume?" he said.

Levi confirmed the man's question with a nod and says, "You must be the lawyer. I don't think they're pressing charges or... anything." The bruises on his face were already almost gone, but he was going to feel better only when he knew the others were safe. "Can we get out of here?"

The man nodded. "Indeed. I'm Cameron Hodge, senior partner of Hodge & Associates and legal counsel for the Xavier estate. My car is waiting outside."

Speeding away from the field office, Mr. Hodge sat in the backseat of the Town Car with Levi. A privacy screen was in place between them and the driver.

"My office will handle the finer details, but I do need to collect your statement just as soon as you can give it. Professor Xavier has briefed me on the humanitarian services you were conducting in New York City when you were wrongfully arrested by federal authorities. Do you have anything to add to that summary?"

Levi didn't really feel up to playing questions and answers, he was staring out the side window at the passing cityscape. He'd barely even looked at Hodges directly yet, and waited several seconds before he replied. "I might have assaulted one of the Secret Service agents, but I'm pretty sure he lived and will be okay. And the MRD was there, witnessed the whole thing. That kind of stuff?"

"MRD?" Hodge's brow creased above his wire frame glasses. "That complicates matters. Our contact in the FBI only mentioned the Secret Seervice. Did you get the name or names of the agent or agents?"

"Doctor Celia.. something?" Levi tried to remember the badge, but it had been a fleeting moment and the MRD logo had left more of an impression than the name itself. He shook his head and looked over at Hodges. "She was trying to figure out which group I was with and I didn't cooperate. She doesn't know."

"She?" Hodge made notes in his leather-bound legal pad. "Between myself and our friends in the FBI, I'm sure it won't take her long to figure out you're associated with Charles Xavier, one of the biggest names in mutant advocacy. Hopefully that will be enough to convince her you aren't a supremacist or terrorist." His face ticked under stress. "Margo is en route to her father and whatever protective custody he has in store for her, but her statement corroborated yours. Don't breathe too easily yet, Mr. Rousseau, but you may be in the clear."

"Maybe," Levi echoed, letting out a sigh as he turned his head back toward the window. Meanwhile Margo was going somewhere she didn't want to be. Yet another teammate taken out due to him? It wasn't completely true that he was responsible for Iris or Margo, but it still felt that way to him.

"I can take you back to the Mansion or drop you off with your friends in the City," Hodge said. "And that's a polite way of saying you can't stay with me."

Levi wasn't sure 'friends' was quite the right word for the cohort, but no other term seemed appropriate in the moment either. He pointed ahead, "Why don't you just pull over up there? I can take it from here." He looked over at Hodge and nodded in determined confirmation.

"Well, it's against my better judgment, but technically you aren't my client. So..." He pressed a button in the back of the Town Car, which immediately came to a stop at the curb. "Good luck, kid."

"I'll be fine. Thanks for your help, Mr. Hodge," Levi opened the door and stepped out into the evening air. He closed the door and watched the black car pull away some distance before he launched himself upward into the sky.


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