Saranac Lake, NY:
Dressed in civilian clothes, Magneto buys groceries and muses how easy it is to fall into ruts. There is comfort in the mundane. Catching a quick breakfast at local dinner. Buying groceries, staples that weather the road. Razors too. He found he now dislikes the feeling of stubble on his head. If he were someone else, someone ordinary, he might find security in the day to day grind but he is not ordinary. He recalls his deeds of frightening humanity. His face is just a disguise, a sheepskin to keep the herd from panicking because he is mutantkind’s salvation.
He browses in a bookstore, musing that when the mask falls away these people become casualties.
Carefully a tall auburn-haired woman with a leg brace follows him.
In the bookstore, a shifty-looking man enters the same aisle as Magneto and passes him a note.
The man leaves the store. The woman takes a photo of him with her cell phone. She turns around to find Magneto is no longer in the aisle. She enters the bookstore and finds his groceries abandoned in the aisle. Looking around, she leaves the store when suddenly she is grabbed and slammed into a wall.
Who is she? he demands coldly. Why is she following him? Straining for breath , the woman gurgles that she is a friend. Magneto doubts it. And he doesn’t have time for niceties. She asks him to wait. Instead, he announces he will coax some answers from her.
He manipulates her leg brace, turning it tighter. The woman groans. Her name is Briar Raleigh. She’s been following him since he arrived at his hidden retreat in the foothills. She has a theory about what he keeps there. They call it “the scrapbook.” She knows a lot of things and, if he lets her, she could work with him. Why? he asks. She explains she knows who he is and what he is capable of, once he tires of hiding out here.
Briar recalls Magneto at full power attacking a city.
That much anger, that much hate can’t stay hidden forever. He tires… and it will burn him up inside. They say he’s changed, that his powers are weakened. She bets he still remembers all the people he couldn’t help. Even when his abilities were at his peak. She doesn’t think his powers have anything to do with who he was. Who he still is.
Magneto has taken Briar to his hotel room. She smiles that the clock is ticking. It’s only a matter of a time before he cuts loose again in a big way. And he knows it. He looks at her silently and grimly. He knows what they say about idle hands, doesn’t he? Briar continues. He just needs something to keep his hands busy.
Magneto forcefully tells her he is not playing games. What does she think is happening here? “You tell me,” Briar grins. He is no more in the habit of inviting strange women into his hotel room than he is in the habit of accepting such offers, she continues. They must sense something special in one another. The least he could do is offer her a drink.
Nonplussed he replies he doesn’t have— Briar walks to a drawer and opens it, finding a bottle. She takes it the local liquor store didn’t have his usual brand. How would she know anything—
Briar pours them each a glass and muses: Hakushu Single malt, right? Although she guesses this dime store swill will get the job done. When he stares, she laughs. How helpful would she be if she didn’t do her research?
He puts down his glass, the content undrunk. He doesn’t remember asking for her help. To come here, admitting she’s been spying on him is a very dangerous play.
Not if she can prove her value, she retorts and puts a data disc on the table. The man he met at the bookstore… what name did he give him? Another wealthy bigot funneling petty cash to hate groups? Maybe a journalist who is going to write another fear-filled mutant expose?
And she can offer more? he challenges. She wouldn’t be here otherwise. For example, she can tell him almost anything about the SHIELD task force assigned to bring him in.
The disc shows images of those agents. He admits this is a start. Briar continues she figures he’d want something a bit more meaty. Something for those idle hands of his.
The next image shows the Marauders. She can tell him how to find them… how to hurt them. She knows he thinks he is a changed man. That his diminished powers make him damaged goods and that means he is trying a different approach. When she was hurt she had to go through months of physical therapy to walk again. Some days it seemed like an impossible fight. But if she’d changed her methods every time she had a setback, she wouldn’t be standing here.
They clink their glasses together as he observes it sounds like she wants a war. The war is the only thing they can be sure of, she retorts. She just wants to make sure the casualties are on the right side.
She doesn’t tell him what she remembers.
A city that was attacked by Magneto. Paramedics and police find Briar, her leg crushed under a car. When asked about her family, she groans she doesn’t have a family anymore…