"Whatcha squirts up to?" Alex asked, popping into the art room to find several children bent over construction paper and markers and glue.
Jean was intently applying sequins to a...skull? That wasn't very girly and Jean was one of the girliest girls that he knew. Way girlier than Ororo, who was a tomboy with a case of sticky fingers and a wicked streak. Jean was the one who favored pink and sparkles and kittens, but skulls were new.
Scott looked up at him. "We're making cards," he said.
"What kind?" Alex wandered over to his little brother and ruffled his mop of red hair. He glanced down at Scott's card. There was a carefully drawn out headless body that was squirting blood from its neck like a geyser.
"Cards for Stupid Head," Jean said, holding up her black piece of construction paper bedazzled with red glitter and sequins.
Alex blinked. "Mag...Um Erik?" He'd heard about the whole confrontation with Hank and subsequent declarations that Magneto was a stupid head. He agreed. After that whole beach divorce thing the man pulled, he couldn't even think of him by his name any more. Alex always called him by his super villain codename now. They were careful not to let the kids know that Erik was Magneto. They were young and might get weird ideas, like Jean’s idea that Charles had been married to Magneto. It had seemed like it back then. They had this weird Mom and Dad vibe going. He hated to admit it, but sometimes he missed it. But Dad had left and Mom was left to run things by himself. Alex really couldn’t forgive Magneto for the sadness that sometimes crossed Charles’ face.
Jean looked at Alex sharply, as if she wanted to read his mind. He gave her an innocent look and she nodded.
“Why are you making him cards?” He’d seen all the cards the kids had made for Charles and it had given his heart a little tug to see all the love the kids had for their mentor. But cards for Magneto? He looked down at Scott’s headless fountain of blood, then at Jean’s glittering skull, then over at Ororo’s pasted together card that looked like some sort of ransom note. Bobby was drawing...well, he wasn’t sure what Bobby was drawing, but he was sure that it was suitably filled with loathing. He had to laugh.”Never mind. I get it. I’ll make one too,” he said, settling down in the chair next to Scott and pulling over some construction paper.
Scott smiled at his brother and Jean helpfully floated a pen over for Alex to write with. “I need some scissors and glue,” he said as he bent over his new project. This was going to be good.
“Hey Hank,” Alex called, knocking on the door of Hank’s office before letting himself in.
“Yes?” Hank looked up from the papers on his desk.
“You still got that postal box address for Mystique?” He asked.
Hank frowned. “Yes. Why?”
Alex put a small pile of handmade cards down on Hank’s desk.
Bewildered, Hank picked one up and read it. There was a quiet snort before Hank burst into laughter. It was a loud full belly laugh that made Alex grin. It wasn’t too often that Hank let loose like that. When he was done, he looked up at Alex, giving him a toothy grin. “I think these just might find their way to their destination,” he said, eyes sparkling with mischief.
Mystique slipped into Magneto’s office to lay a large envelope on his desk. “What is this?” Magneto asked, lifting an eyebrow as he looked up at Mystique.
“I don’t know. It was in the post office box, addressed to you,” she pointed out, not fully able to hide the twinge of worry in her voice. The only reason they had a postal box was on the off chance that something terrible happened and Hank needed to contact them.
“I see,” he said. He didn’t bother dismissing her. He knew she wouldn’t leave, curious as she was and hungry for news of home. It didn’t matter how long they’d been with the Brotherhood, he knew that the house in Westchester would always be home for both of them. He might have spent far less time there than she had, but he had left something very precious behind. They were both careful to never speak of it because talking about it made them ache, gave them doubts, gave them foolish ideas of running back. They knew without a doubt that Charles would let them return, but it was too late for that after all that they’d done so they simply never mentioned it.
“What’s in the envelope?” Mystique asked impatiently, her skin rippling in anticipation.
There was a faint feeling of something metallic inside, but nothing to worry about. Magneto carefully opened the envelope and looked surprised at the burp of glitter that rose up from the envelope.
Mystique wore a baffled expression on her face as Magneto reached in and removed a small stack of cards. “What in the world?” She murmured, reaching out to take a card from the top of the stack. “Dear Mr. Erik,” she read aloud. “You are a stupid head. You could have married the Professer and been our dad, but you are too dumb for that so we’ll love the professer way way more than you because only dumb people don’t like him. And I don’t like you. Stupid head. Sinserely yours, Ororo.” Mystique’s voice was faint with disbelief as she looked at the words so carefully glued to the black construction paper. She looked down at Magneto. His jaw was tightly set as he picked up another card that was overwhelmingly colored in brown.
“Yu r a poopyhed!” The card declared. “frum Bobby!”
“You’re a fucker,” another card said, signed by Sean.
In shock, Raven picked up another card. “You hurt the professor’s heart. If you go near him again I’ll do this,” it announced, showing off a headless body spraying blood everywhere. “Signed Scott.”
Magneto picked up a card covered in red glitter. There was a skull with sequins for eyes. “Dear Erik,” it said on the front.
He opened the card. “I think you are the stupidest man ever on the planet. The Professor wanted to marry you. When he is sick, he needs you, but you’re not here. Since you are too stupid to love him and marry him, I’m going to love him way more than you ever did and he won’t cry at night any more and I’ll never run away because I love him more than anyone in the universe. Especially more than you! Signed Jean Grey. P.S. You are a big stupid head!”
As Magneto stared down at the words with an unreadable expression on his face, Mystique dug around for some explanation for this package. Surely Charles hadn’t encouraged this kind of behavior from his new charges. She found a note on school letter head in Hank’s neat script.
“Charles was sick recently and one of our young charges picked up on his fevered dreams. She came under the impression that Charles and Erik were married. When she found out that this wasn’t true, she declared Erik to be a ‘stupid head.’ I can’t say that I disagree. Yours truly, Hank.”
Magneto set down the glittery card from Jean Grey and picked up the last of the bunch. “Hey Mags,” it declared, showing a picture of his helmet with a large horseshoe magnet stuck to it. Magneto opened the card. The action sent a paper bullet sliding across the card to hit a pop up heart. “Hope this hurts you half as much as you hurt Charles. No love, Alex.”
The two of them sat in silence, staring down at the various cards. “Erik?” Mystique finally murmured.
“Raven, don’t,” he warned.
“But,” she said helplessly.
“We made our choice Mystique,” he said harshly, his hand slamming on the desk. The action made Mystique jump and sent up a cloud of red glitter. “Cancel the post office box.”
She breathed in sharply. “What?”
“Cancel it. We left them. To keep a link is foolish, especially when they send us these childish taunts.”
“Erik, I can’t! What if they need us?”
“I am Magneto,” he said darkly. “And we are enemies now. They chose their side. We chose ours. Cancel the box.”
She stared at him, yellow eyes watering. “I really hate you sometimes!” she hissed as she ran out and slammed the door.
Magneto looked down at the cards on his desk and miserably whispered, “Sometimes, I hate myself.”