The fact that Charles has a therapist is ridiculous.
He doesn't even want a therapist, but Hank, after Charles had managed to mostly heal from the incident on the beach, was absolutely certain that Charles would need someone to talk to. Someone... objective.
Charles made the mistake of failing to disagree, and three weeks later he was being pushed up a ramp outside of a building in New York.
"Good luck," Alex says to him with a smile-- Hank is still blue, after all, and can hardly traipse around New York City with a telepath in a wheelchair-- and "I'll be back later."
The therapist is a nice woman, from what Charles can tell. Her general demeanor is calm, non-invasive or aggressive and she doesn't seem to be frightened of him.
"Did anyone tell you?" he asks, first thing.
"Tell me what, Charles--May I call you Charles?"
"Yes, that's fine," he responds, wheeling a bit closer. "Did anyone tell you what I am?"
She raises an eyebrow and then a slow smile spreads across her face. Charles notices vaguely that she's rather attractive. What a pity.
"No, Charles, why don't you tell me?"
To her credit, she doesn't scream when Charles connects their minds, in fact she hardly even flinches, which is reassuring, at least.
"Well, Charles," she says, "Our hour's up. But I'll see you in a few days."
Alex comes and collects him from the office, and asks him how it went. Charles nods a shrugs a shoulder.
"It was fine."
The next sessions are difficult. She asks him what his interests are, and why they're his interests. She asks him about his childhood, his college years. She asks about the beach.
Charles tells her everything he thinks she needs to know.
"Charles, I have something that I'd like you to try," Marissa, his therapist, says one day a few weeks later, uncrossing and crossing her legs again. She's nervous, he can tell, and he isn't particularly surprised.
"Yes?" He's found the sessions to be somewhat helpful, and while he isn't always completely truthful about what causes him the most pain on a daily basis, (how do you explain it's like a corner of your mind missing or a piece of your soul?) he still tries to be mostly truthful.
"I'd like you to write your feelings down. Perhaps start a journal or write letters addressed to whoever or whatever is bothering you. I don't need or want to see them, and you don't have to show them to the people they're directed towards if you don't want, but I'd like you to at least try it. Could you do that for me?"
She looks so young and earnest. Charles can remember what it was like to be young and earnest, to want to change the world one person at a time and think you're doing the right thing. It makes him feel sick to his stomach and yet Charles doesn't have the heart to say no.
He starts with letters to people at the house.
I know you're basically incapable of controlling it, but do you think you could keep from sitting on the couches when you shed? Blue hair gets everywhere, and I don't mean to embarrass you, but it's gotten to the point where the vacuum gets clogged.
He immediately crumples it and throws it into the fire in the study, watching his own insensitivity blacken and flake up. The flames do nothing to quell the shame he feels in the pit of his stomach.
If you touch another one of my 30 year old bottles of scotch, you will spend the rest of your days thinking you're a prize mare. I'll have Sean braid your hair. You have been warned.
PS- I'm not joking. Sean's very adept at French braids.
He tacks it to Alex's door and gives him a threatening look over breakfast the next morning.
When Marissa asks about his letters, Charles chuckles.
"I thought you didn't want to read them," he says, an easy smile on his face, though his muscles feel wrong doing it.
"I don't. I just want to know if they've helped."
Well, Charles' liquor did stop disappearing, so he counts it as a win. He doesn't mention the shame he feels every time he finds a blue hair on any surface of the house.
"I suppose they have," he says, nodding.
His nightmares return.
Charles hasn't had nightmares since just after the incident, and on the grand scale of the worst nightmares he's ever had, these are not bad. They get worse as the nights carry on, however, growing more and more vivid as each night passes.
They are painful to remember, since most of them involve the beach, but some of them hurt in the sweetest way. A memory of himself and Erik walking around the grounds, laughing carelessly. Others are memories of himself and Raven, and those hurt the most. He does not care to remember them.
He does not attend his next session with Marissa. He leaves blank pages and filled fountain pens on his writing table and does not enter his study in the weeks to come.
Hank starts to worry when he's woken by Charles' screams in the middle of the night. The sound rips through him like fabric shredding but he doesn't know if Charles is actually screaming that loudly or if he's projecting. He stands shakily and walks to Charles' room, putting a hand to the door and closes his eyes, pretending he doesn't know whose name Charles is muttering in his sleep.
He, too, misses Raven, but he's sure he doesn't have any right to. Not like Charles does, at least.
"I wasn't sure you'd come."
Marissa is perched on her chair behind her desk, examining Charles' sleepless face, the circles around his eyes, the pallor of his skin.
"Well, I'm here," he offers. Only because Hank forcibly removed him from the mansion.
"Did you write any letters in our leave of absence?" Marissa taps her pen three times on the desk. Charles stops her without a second thought, not even raising a finger to his temple to warn her of what he's doing.
"Stop that," he snaps, and she does, sitting back. He only controls the people around him when his patience has left, abandoned him on a beach.
He blames her for this. He was doing fine on his own, without anyone reminding him what happened and without having to think about the gaping hole in his life. In his mind.
"Do you know what it is like to fail the people you love the most?" he asks her suddenly, and Marissa blinks at him.
"Why don't you tell me?" she suggests, but he's already shaking his head.
"Allow me to show you," he says instead. And then, he does.
That day he leaves the office with Marissa a crying heap on the ground. Perhaps it had been a bit much to show her everything, make her feel everything he'd felt in those last few days with Erik and Raven, but he'd been angry and reckless and resentful of everything and everyone who didn't know how he felt.
People forget that it's just as easy for him to bring someone down as it is to cheer them up, or to help them find peace and serenity. He does not always have to go for the good memories, but he does, because Charles Xavier is a good man. And if his power were used for anything but good, he does not want to imagine the world they would live in.
That he would have created.
He convinces Hank quite easily to forget about the therapist and focus instead on Cerebro. Charles knows it is a bad idea to ignore all the progress he's made in the past months, so he keeps writing the letters, and burning them, most of the time.
There are letters he writes but never finishes, drafts that are thrown into the flames much too soon and yet not soon enough. The words don't come, but his chest clenches like they do anyway and he licks his lips over and over again, mouth suddenly dry.
He doesn't even know what to say. Does he apologize or does he express concern, ask about the banalities of her daily life? He can hear Marissa's voice in his head, telling him to do what he feels will help the most.
Raven won't see it, so what's the point? It won't help. It will never help. He doesn't want to relive the day on the beach, the crippling disappointment of failure, the devastating realization that Erik was right, that Shaw was right. That he was killed for revenge, in pure cold blood and Charles let it happen. Helped it happen.
Erik, (though I suppose now I should call you Magneto, shouldn't I, old friend?)
It doesn't make you any better than the men on the ships to continue as you are doing. It doesn't help to fight a battle that has not even begun, to strike when the iron is cool and not even on the stove. You never had patience. You'll never have patience, because I cannot teach it to you.
And without patience, you will never succeed in what it is you wish to accomplish.
I wish I could tell you this. I wish I could see your face right now and watch your eyebrows quirk up in a quick response and laugh and call me naive. This is what I miss the most. Your determination to see me as innocent, as a good person who cannot fail.
I have failed. We have both failed, and I have ended up alone, and you with my sister. My beautiful sister, who I never wanted to do anything except protect.
If you hurt her, Erik, if you fail to protect her as I have done, I will kill you myself.
Haven't I been punished enough by now?
He doesn't sign the letter, or throw it in the flames. He stares at it for a long time before folding it neatly and placing it in a thin box, out of sight.
His last he stuffs in a drawer, unable to look at it and do anything except push it from his sight.
Dear, sweet, beautiful Raven. I refuse to call you Mystique, and I know this must upset you, but I cannot let that faze me. No, you are and always will be Raven to me, much like Erik will always be Erik and Hank will always be Hank, even though he's blue and sheds on the furniture. (Don't tell him I've told you. He's terribly embarrassed.)
I miss you. I miss you more than anything. The mansion feels empty without you, and dreadfully so. It creaks in the night sometimes; the old, old wood shifting and popping, as if it were lamenting your loss. The mansion misses you, too.
The barn has come down. Do you remember the barn? Where mother and Kurt used to keep their horses? Do you remember sneaking in to pet and ride them, both of us in the saddle as the ranch hand would lead us around so we wouldn't get hurt?
It came down in a storm, the lightning knocked over three of our big oaks and left a horrendous gaping hole in the roof of the barn. The wind took care of the rest. The sound was terrible, but I knew what it was right away.
That is how I feel. I feel as if lightning has struck me and rendered me immobile, and I am simply waiting for a great wind to knock me down and leave me in a heap.
My joints ache when I wake in the morning and getting into the chair seems like a larger and larger feat each day. It is hard to find something worth getting out of the bed for, with you gone. With Erik gone, too, but mostly with you.
When Erik wears the helmet, I can feel emptiness where he should be, and that itself is comforting. It is not the same as if he were dead, I know this from Shaw and Kurt. It's as if he's invisible, just out of reach. But I know he is still there.
I do not search for you.
Though the presence of your mind is comforting as well, it also tears at the hole that the lightning has left. It makes my back and chest ache, it makes me feel my toes again, though I know that I cannot and never will be able to.
I feel as though I have been ripped open and torn apart, and most of all I feel I have failed you. I only ever wanted to protect you, you must know that-- I need you to know that.
I never wished for you to take your blue form in public because I have seen what people can do to one another, Raven, and I have participated in acts that I am ashamed of. I have stood idly by while people have been murdered, I have planted thoughts in people's minds to protect you, to protect all of us, and I have held a man down while Erik forced a coin through his forehead. I have felt people die within the endless parameters of my mind and every day I fear that you will be next.
You do not have to love me anymore. I understand that I have failed you in the worst ways possible, that I have pushed you away unintentionally when all I wanted was to keep you, to keep both of you, forever. You do not have to feel a single thing for me, and I will understand why.
But you must know, that I love you, Raven, more than anything. You are my sister, my oldest, and most of the time only, friend.
It hurts me that we can never be close again. It hurts me more than you know, but I realize that this is necessary. I am meant to fight alone, and you are meant to fight against me, with Erik.
Please do not be saddened by this. Please, instead, remember me as a brother when you are alone. Remember how we once were inseparable, and how I always knew what you needed, even without reading your mind.
I hope that you do not make me into a true enemy, because I could never do the same to you. I hope you can find it in your heart to keep me there, even if in just a small portion. Something is better than nothing.
I'll keep your room for you, though I know you'll never return.
Please, Raven. Just don't forget how important you are to me. Do not get lost in the battle. War will change you, and it will change me. But please, just remember. For me.