It was almost sickeningly domestic.
The kitchen was warm and bright, the intermingling scents of coffee and toast pushing away the cold fingers of November.
Winter was coming.
Charles was still getting dressed, Erik noted, but the rest were there, all sprawled in the fashion of rumpled adolescents around the round wooden table.
Raven stood in the corner, buttering toast, surprisingly neat in a navy blue dress, and it struck him that he had never seen Raven so-
well, womanly, he supposed, almost motherly, and for a moment he wondered if Charles saw her like this before realising that he couldn't.
That to Charles, Raven would forever be eight years hold, starving and lonely and in desperate need of protection.
His thoughts were interrupted by Sean.
“Raven,” he asked curiously, “What did Charles do in the war?”
Everyone turned to look at him.
“Oh, come on! How old do you think he is? He was a babe in arms during the-”
“-He's not that much younger than you, you know.”
Erik snorted again. Mein Gott, do I look that old to them?
The answer, he knew, was yes; that his life was writ large upon his body, tight and scarred by history long before its time.
“I know. I was -” Six eight eleven fourteen when do the Americans claim 'it' began again? “- Thirteen.”
Erik did not need to be an empath to feel the sickening wave of pity emanating from the children. And they were children, he reminded himself, all of them.
Raven broke the awkward silence. “Search and rescue.”
Erik felt his jaw drop. That didn't make any sense.
Sean nodded. “I figured. Got a brother in 'Nam, Dad was in France.”
Hank looked up from his toast. “Are you going down to the memorial today?”
“Charles and I will, anyway. You coming?”
Sean, Hank, and Alex all nodded their assent.
“Get changed, then. We're leaving in half an hour, and he'll have your ass if you show up in pajamas.”
Raven looked over at Erik. “How about you?”
There were a thousand answers Erik could have given- would have given, were he a different sort of person.
That soldiers still made him twitch, that the Yanks had come, but came too fucking late, that the irony of there being statues and monuments to the American war dead that listed names, ranks, dates of birth, when in Europe entire families lay unmarked, their names unspoken, tasted bitter on his tongue; that he was not sure that someone of his heritage would even be welcome, a kraut or a Jew, neither fit for polite company; that people always forgot that the first nation the Nazis took over had been their own.
There was only one answer he could give, though, and so he nodded slowly.