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Stand Up (The We Shall Not Be Moved Remix)

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It strikes Raven as faintly ridiculous afterwards, that her first thought after Erik goes down, next to her own bubbling rage, is: Oh, this is going to break Charles' heart.

Years of watching them dance around one another, everyone assuming that Professor X's soft spot (some would say blind spot) for the Brotherhood was due to his association with its second-in-command, and in some part that's true, but part of Raven always knew: it was never just her.

They'd kept in touch, in the early years. Initially, when Charles was still recovering from the bullet and the Brotherhood was no more than a few ideas held together by spit and the force of Erik Lehnsherr's will, she would visit, and they would talk, and once in a while it was almost as if they were still brother and sister, as if they were still friends.

But then: the more missions Magneto sent her on, the more she discovered her own willingness to do what had to be done, the more their meetings became about Charles expressing his disappointment in her actions, the type of person she was becoming.

"Strong, Charles. That's who I am now. And if you can't take that, you can go to hell."

The last conversation she had with him, before she stormed out, and never visited the school again.

She doesn't cry at Magneto's funeral. Stands brave and proud and strong, and talks about a better future for mutantkind, a stronger Brotherhood under her own leadership.

Minus the sentimentality even Magneto had been known to succumb to once in a while, the shadow of another man's conscience heavy on his soul.

Erik didn't have to grow up with the man; Raven has no room for sentimentality, not anymore.

-

She pretends to be Professor X for a while. Approved by Jean Grey, grudgingly tolerated by Scott. The logic is sound: Magneto being dead is bad enough, for all that he is.

To lose Charles Xavier at the same time is unthinkable.

From their enemies' point of view, it's practically an invitation to attack.

The wheelchair takes some getting used to, but she tries not to think too much about the difficulties of not having a choice whether to leave it or not. She's not trusted at all with anything important, but that's to be expected. Jean Grey pushes information into her mind, people and places and ideas: whatever she knows about Charles Xavier, and it staggers Raven, leaves her shaking and falling apart.

"There aren't many secrets," she says when Raven glowers at her, "between telepaths."

Charles' body is cremated, ashes to be scattered to the sea at some point in the future.

It's surreal, being back in the mansion again. Jean says, "Just keep your interaction with people to a minimum - he was already stepping back as it is, so it shouldn't raise that much of a stink."

"Was he?"

They're in Charles' office, her behind his desk and wearing his skin. Touching his face, well worn now, fine lines around his eyes and no hair to speak of. Like wearing a ghost, if she catches the hint of a reflection in a shiny surface, she could almost imagine that he were there.

"He believed the younger generation could achieve what he couldn't."

"That's my Charles, always the optimist."

Jean's smile slips off her face. "You didn't know him as well as you think you did."

"I knew him well enough." He was my brother, and she trusts Jean to pick up on the thought, hurled at her with such brute force.

Some kind of sister you were.

And she's gone, slipping out before Raven can think of a biting reply, or throw a paperweight at her head.

-

Two months of this and it's decided it's time enough.

Or at least, Raven's certainly had enough.

Two months of wearing his body, coddling his children, smiling at the people who don't know he's dead and think it's him they're talking to.

Two months of holding back whenever someone says, "Good riddance," in reference to Magneto being dead.

Would Charles have responded if the words had been uttered in his presence? Very possibly.

Raven as Charles doesn't. Raven as Charles doesn't care, won't react, will grit his teeth stoically and pretend the words weren't spoken.

"How are the twins," she thinks to ask once. She'd held one in her arms for the briefest of moments, but they needed to be together, and experience has proven that the Brotherhood is no place for children.

"As well as could be expected," Jean says. "You should visit them. Charles would."

"No. This is the side you choose to align yourself with then? Monsters who would torture children."

"I wish you wouldn't speak like that while wearing his face."

Raven switches form, but into Scott's, just to see her pretty face darken.

-

"Died in his sleep," Jean suggests. "Heart attack."

"Not exactly a hero's death, is it?"

"Does that matter to you." Jean's look is sharp, and Raven tries to recall the biting resentment she'd felt when Charles had first mentioned her, so very long ago. "Telekinesis," he'd said, and his voice had held the same lilt it had when he used to talk about her abilities, in the early years when she was still his favorite pet. But she's too old now, too tired, and she'd stopped competing for her brother's affections years ago.

"No, I suppose it doesn't. I want to come to the funeral."

"Not as yourself, surely."

"Yes, as myself."

"If you insist." Jean gets up to leave, and at the door she says, "He never stopped hoping you would come around, you know."

Raven curls her lips up in an expression of disdain, grateful that she decided, at some point, to put on the psi-blockers so helpfully provided to all the Brotherhood's members. "Funny," she tells Jean, "I used to say the same thing about him."

-

In the end she chickens out, goes as some dead low-level mutant. Unnoticed and unnoticeable, as Scott Summers talks about what a great man Charles Xavier was, as children weep openly.

What was obvious in the two months she'd spent pretending to be him: Charles Xavier was loved. Revered by some, less so by others.

But loved nonetheless, the way she loved Erik. Or, once upon a time, her brother.

There are no tears at this funeral either.

-

She won't grieve for either one of them.