Charles meets them all at the main entrance on the day they arrive, flanked by his new foundlings, the children he's taken in to raise and educate now that his home is officially a school. The whole thing would feel like a tense standoff if it weren't for how Erik and Charles keep staring at each other like they can't wait to be alone and rip each other's clothes off.
It hadn't been an easy decision to come here, for anyone. Once Erik made up his mind he gave them all the speech they had seen coming for months. A collaboration with Charles was necessary and unavoidable; he had a school now, a mechanism for gathering young mutants under one roof, and he was asking for their help in shaping this new generation. They couldn't afford to refuse his offer. Most of Erik's plans – his covert political and slightly less covert financial activities – could be carried out while living with Charles and the rest could be put on hold for the time being.
She was still a little astounded that they all listened to Erik's speech all the way through, nevermind agreed with him, eventually.
The deal was that they'd all take up teaching duties at Charles' hugely understaffed new establishment and in return Charles would turn a blind eye to all the places where their agendas diverged. Well, most places, anyway. Raven thought Charles probably extended the offer to Erik exclusively, originally, but Erik had pressured him somehow into including the rest of his team.
It's weird, being back in the house she grew up in. Raven only agreed to come with Erik because she can't imagine going back to the human world. Riptide, Emma, Azazel, the group won't stick together without Erik, and the prospect of being on her own, having to pretend, again, to everyone around her that she isn't what she is, is more terrible than the prospect of living with Charles again.
"So, what," Angel asks her on their third day at the mansion, when the initial shock has faded. "Did you like, sleep under Charles' bed or in his closet or something?"
Raven laughs. "What?"
"You couldn't have really grown up here," Angel says, looking over the intricately decorated walls of the guest room Raven's picked out for herself. Her old bedroom now belongs to one of the students.
"No, I had a room and everything. Charles basically mindwiped his parents into oblivion the day I showed up." Raven lies back on the bedspread – soft and luxurious – and stares up at the ceiling. "I was their adopted daughter, for all they knew."
"That must have been pretty fucked up," Angel says, after a pause.
"Sort of," Raven says, pensively. "He never liked his step dad anyway. I think I was just a convenient excuse for Charles to finally shut him out of his life for good. And his mom… his mom was nice. Sometimes I think he gave her grace periods. Like, he'd make her memories whole again just to feel like she was… still herself. Still his mom. But then eventually he'd tamper with them again to make her think I was her daughter or whatever."
"No," Angel says. "I meant it must have been fucked up for you. After all they must have raised you, right? People who didn't even know you were? I mean, you keep calling them his parents but… they were your parents too."
"Oh," Raven says, and it sounds a little hollow, even to her own ears. "Right. Yeah, I guess. I just… I never really thought of them that way, you know?" She sits on the bed, looks over at Angel who's busy examining an antique grandfather clock standing next to the window.
"I guess I should have called them my parents," Raven adds. "Even delusional they were better than the people who actually gave birth to me."
Angel looks turns around and meets her eyes. There's no pity there, no sadness. Raven's sob story childhood is still a thousand times better than some of the stories Angel's heard before, they both know that. It's why Raven always feels free to tell her about the messed up stuff. Raven doesn't think it's a big deal, and neither does Angel, and that saves them both the trouble of pretending to be lost souls in need of a savior.
"So, this isn't your childhood bedroom or anything?" Angel asks, coming to sit on the bed.
"No," Raven says. "I don't think I ever even went into this room when I lived here," she shrugs.
Angel looks disappointed. "That's a shame. I was hoping we could fuck next to your old teddy bear or something. Really defile the place."
Raven can't help laughing. "Sorry, I think I burned all my toys and half of Charles' when I turned sixteen or something. Not many survived."
"Oh well," Angel smiles. "I guess we'll have to make due." She kisses Raven and runs her fingers through her hair, as Raven's skin shifts from smooth pink to scaly blue.