She has stopped trying to hide the fact that she’s drinking from him. He wishes that she still cares enough to hide.
“You are a smart boy, Charles.” She told him. “You know.” She continued, glancing towards where he knew she kept her bottles.
They were not in plain sight but it felt like they were.
“I see no reason to continue pretending I’m not drinking anymore.”
‘Please, mother’ he thought ‘pretend, at least’
She turned to look at him, her eyes bloodshot. For one moment, Charles thought he had said it out loud. He could have sworn she had heard him. She couldn’t have, he knew, you can’t hear other people’s thoughts.
He saw that she was gripping her glass tightly, upset. “Go to sleep, Charles.” She said and drank deeply.
She hasn’t spoken to him in days.
She’s looking through the window while leaning on the wall. Charles suspects it’s the only thing that keeps her from falling down. Her hand is shaking but he knows she won’t let go of the glass. It’s full, fuller than it was couple of minutes ago. Refilled.
“Mother?” She turns towards the sound of his voice but only looks through him. He feels invisible. She turns back to the window.
He wonders what she sees. An image of his father appears before his mind’s eye. Happy and alive-
he isn’t, Charles knows
-and he feels himself smiling and laughter is in his throat and he starves for more. And there is more. Years of more. He doesn’t know how he knows, how he can see this, how it is possible-
How doesn’t matter. Charles is greedy and not miserable and nothing hurts and he giggles and laughs and-
His laughter dies and the world is dark again. His mother is not looking through him anymore. There are tears on her face and anguish in her eyes. And then it transforms and her wrath hits him like a fist.
“Get out.” She says and when he doesn’t move she hurls her glass at him and he scrambles away. “GET OUT!
This is the most alive he’s seen her in a long time.
She never looks at him the same way again. She resents-
-would slither into his mind and rot.
some would take root.
She will be dead by the time he realizes what exactly happened that day.
He apologized to the stone with her name. He loved her for what he took and hated her for what she failed to give.
He treasured those memories forever.
If you are going to look, you must prepare for what you’ll see.
Charles tries always to be prepared.
He never learned not to look.
“You have your eyes, I have mine.” He would tell Raven later, when she asked him to stop looking through her mind, to stop listening to her thoughts.
“I can’t...If you don’t stop...” She said “I’ll leave.” Her eyes implored him.
He learned restraint.
He pulled back his power, blinded himself as much as it was possible. It was hard and it made him ache. He felt sick for days afterwards.
He understood why she asked for it. He knew thoughts were supposed to be private and the mind the most private thing of all.
But it felt wrong.
He discovered that not everybody can be held to same standards. That what is right can be wrong at the same time. It is right that he be allowed to use his telepathy-
-but the others are also right to have their privacy.
‘It’s not fair.’ he thought, that she can use her power freely and he can’t use his the same way. If he can’t be himself then...
He asked Raven to stop being blue. She looked stricken. She changed her shape and not always, but most of the time she held it.
She never forgave him.
The maid caught him in his father’s study. He was not supposed to be there. She will surely tell and mother will not approve. He wishes so hard she didn’t see, didn’t see anything.
He trembles with the need of it. Forget, he begs silently, nothing happened and no one, nothing here to see,
you see nothing.
It sounds final in his mind.
She blinks slowly, once, before she collapses.
They would speak later of amnesia and blindness. Doctors would say that there was nothing wrong with her eyes. For the rest of her life-
she was ninety years old when she died
- she would look and not see and never, ever remember.
He respected his mother’s rule after that, and never went to his father’s study again.
Charles could have helped Rosy, later, when he learned to control his powers. He could have restored her memory, could have restored her sight.
He could have.
He went to her once, a few years later, intending to fix things.
He reached into her mind gently and felt her recoil. Something in her recognized his mental touch. He knew it was because he had bludgeoned her mind when he was a child, had used too much force and no finesse, made her mind oversensitive.
Horrified, he withdrew quickly and left, never to return.
He didn’t want her to remember. Oh God, he didn’t want her to remember. He’s not sure he could have willed her memories back. He wanted them to stay gone too much.
So, he never tried.
The guilt never left him. Nor did the memory of the tatters of her mind, of the raw wound he left behind.
He made a rule for himself that day, never to manipulate someone’s mind when his emotions run rampant.
He never made a rule not to manipulate someone’s mind. For a long time the possibility didn’t even occur to him.
Erik tries to move the satellite dish but fails.
“May I?” Charles asks and, with permission, delves deep.
He learned to ask.
The man won’t let the submarine go.
Charles doesn’t ask.
He made Moira forget. He searched her mind and took what he thought she shouldn’t have. With a kiss, on a sunny day, gently, he pulled. Unraveling the strands of what was once they were in his grasp.
Thief, those memories were hers.
She should have been angry, despite understanding why Charles did it. She should have raved and raged. She should have been scared.
It should have hurt. Such a violation should never be painless.
Instead, she felt content, unconcerned, without a care in the world.
Where is your resentment, MacTaggert? Her superiors wondered.
Someone took it, she could have said had she cared.
“It was necessary.”
“And you’re in my head again.”
“Sometimes, Professor, you remind me just how scared of you I should be.”
“I would never hurt any of you, Alex.”
“I know how uncontrollable a power can be.”
“But...you seem to be in control of yours.”
“I hear surface thoughts whether I want to or not. I promise not to delve deeper without permission, unless I have no other choice.
“At the beach...Raven said you promised never to read her mind and now you say you can’t help but hear thoughts. That means you are a liar.”
“Did you lie to her, or did you lie to me?”
“I frightened her, Alex.”
“So you lied to her.”
“A white lie.”
Charles can feel the ache in his throat as if it were his own.
They’ve all seen Sean go as far away from the manor as he could and still remain on the grounds. They’ve heard him yell, distantly.
Sean is strangely silent now and refuses to speak of it, refuses to speak at all.
His mind is so open. It feels like a lure. Charles can swear it’s singing to him-
mournfully, angrily, not all songs are happy
-but Charles knows that he’s not welcome in Sean’s mind right now. Not welcome to delve deeper. He restrains himself but he is concerned. He settles for trying to spot the clues to what is wrong with his eyes. Behind Sean, he sees Alex relax, and Charles feels like he had passed a test.
He is skilled enough to be able to probe without anyone ever knowing. And even Alex, who had only a minute ago watched him like a hawk, looking for exactly that, wouldn’t be able to notice a thing if Charles didn’t want to be noticed.
Sean sees him looking. He smiles weakly. ‘I’ll be fine, Professor.’ He thinks at him and Charles is humbled. He feels something in him unfurl and settle at the realization that Sean knows Charles can hear him and trusts him not to probe. That he is not pushing him out, just asking him to avert his eyes. Charles is grateful, so terribly grateful. Not even Raven-
He wows to himself never to betray the trust they have in him.
He watches Sean and Alex go inside the house and spots Hank watching him with knowing eyes.
He feels caught and ashamed, although he’s not sure why. He didn’t do anything wrong. Hank walks over to him. “So, Professor, about Cerebro...”
He feels like he belongs, like he is accepted.
“What are you doing here, Erik?
“Can’t I visit a friend, Charles?”
“Of course you can.”
“Black or white?”
“Oh? You used to play white.”
“I used to be able to reach the shelf with the chess board.”
“And whose fault was that? You’re the one who insisted on putting it on the highest shelf. Just because I am not as tall as...Oh, stop smiling!”
“Erik! It’s not funny!”
“...Your power was never in your legs, Charles.”
“And if I lost my power, would you still call me a friend?”
“You are not wearing your helmet.”
“I don’t need it.”
“You thought differently in Cuba.”
“I did need it Cuba.”
“You told me you didn’t trust me.”
“I didn’t trust you not to stop me.”
‘...I would have.’
‘I know.’ “You would have frozen me, like you did Shaw, or used my body to stop him without killing him.”
“I dislike puppeteers.” ‘I am not a toy.’
“I never thought you were.”
“You would have treated me like one anyway.”
“What makes you think I won’t now? That I won’t change the way you think or make you forget?”
“You won’t.” ‘I wouldn’t be me then.’
“...I felt that coin.”
“I know. I knew you would hold him for me, despite of it.”
“...We are quite the pair aren't we, my friend?”
“One more game?”
“Only one, I have to leave soon. Black again?”
“I wish you would reconsider.”
“I wish you would reconsider.”
“We are the better men, Charles.”
“We could be.”
“Oh, Charles, you try so hard, don’t you? To be a good man.”
“It can’t be easy restraining all that power, stopping yourself from entering minds... Your power is by nature intrusive.”
‘What? Don’t like the way I think?’
“Please don’t. Use your voice.”
‘Don’t want to get used to my thoughts?’
‘I’m already used to them.’
‘Come with me and I’ll never wear that helmet again.'
Charles will forever be grateful-
-that Erik didn’t ask him that out loud.
He would have said yes.
“You are not wearing your helmet. I am a telepath, aren’t you worried?”
“Are you planning something, Frost?”
“You don’t think I am?”
“I haven’t given you a reason to yet.”
“You think I need it?”
“I think you are still waiting to see if I’m useful.”
His smile is full of teeth. “Are you?”
He keeps his mind open to her. She realizes slowly that it’s both a treat-
so incredibly powerful, it rolls off him in waves
-and an offer.
See? See what I want to do? What we can do together?
“You wouldn’t have stayed long Emma, had I decided to wear the helmet all the time.”
“No, I wouldn’t have. Neither would have the others.”
“I could kill you.”
He twirls a coin and doesn’t say a word. His thoughts bleed red into her mind.
“There is more to telepathy than communication.”
“You want to plant ideas in my head? There’s no need for that.”
“We share goals. I will not dismiss your words without listening to them. You are far from stupid. Why wouldn’t I listen?”
“Why waste time speaking when I could ensure that things would go my way?”
“Charles would know if you temper with my mind.”
“Would he? I am good at what I do.”
“Yes, you are.”
“You think he would help you. Why? You are enemies.”
“No, we are not.”
Emma tries anyway, about a year later.
It doesn’t end well.
“I have a rule, Miss Frost.” Xavier says congenially “A set of rules, actually.” he corrects himself with a self-deprecating smile. “I break them, sometimes. I don’t plan to. I try to follow them.” He sighs “It’s not easy.”
Emma doesn’t speak.
“There were times in my life when I wished to change someone. It pains me to say, but some people are truly idiots. I would be doing the world a favor by getting rid of their less desirable traits. ”
“You are an idiot.” He says. “He warned you, didn’t he? I saw your memory of that day.”
‘I should do to you what you tried to do to him.’ His mental voice twists cruelly inside her mind and his rage is unlike anything she has experienced before. It’s a cacophony of sound and colors swirling madly in time with it. Sharp like a blade and wild like storm. It doesn’t hurt, not really, but she feels like she’s going mad.
He tilts his head to the side “No?” He inquires, his polite tone and demeanor at odds with the state of his mind.
They are interrupted by the sound of a door opening “Charles...” Someone says, behind him.
“Yes, Raven?” He asks, not taking his eyes off Emma.
“What are you doing here?”
“Miss Frost and I are having a chat.”
“I see...” She didn’t “Does Erik know that you are here?”
“Yes, of course. Would you mind leaving us for a bit? We are almost done.”
“Charles, what is going on?”
He looks at her then and she is reminded of the day she met him. When she stretched herself to fit his mother’s skin and he backed her to the wall of the kitchen demanding an answer, utterly confidant in his own power-
it was before he learned to pull it in himself, beat it down to the shape of his body and only release it with fingers to his forehead.
- and so very dangerous. She hasn’t seen this Charles since then. Wordlessly, she turns around and leaves. She had hoped he wasn’t like this anymore, underneath it all. She doesn’t like to think of her kindhearted brother as anything other than kindhearted. She closes the door quietly. Charles turns back to Emma.
“Calm your mind, Miss Frost, I would prefer not to get a headache.”
“Do not do this again. Not to Erik and not to Raven. I will break my rules if you do.” He lets his words linger between them, sucking the air out of the room. “I will take my leave now, Miss Frost. You just stay put. No need to get up, I know my way out.” He says and wheels himself towards the door. He misjudges the space between the wall and the table and his wheelchair bangs into one of the chairs. He sighs deeply, wheels himself back a bit and tries again, successfully and resumes his way out.
For several long minutes Emma just sits still and breathes. Then, she trembles and heaves a long breath to her lungs. She stands up, just to convince herself that she can, that Xavier is not holding her still anymore.
“Emma.” She turns sharply to the sound to find Magneto looking at her with indifferent eyes.
The metal in the room rattles dangerously.
He is wearing his helmet.
“I warned you.” He says. “You did not believe me.”
“He isn’t what I was expecting.” She says coolly. The corner of his mouth twitches and she knows he can see right through her.
“You were expecting something similar to what happened in Russia?”
She doesn’t answer. “How did he get here so fast, past our security?” It’s been nagging at her.
Magneto’s smile is terrible to behold. “He didn’t.”
“He used Cerebro. It was all in your head.” He says, almost gently as she pales and shifts to her diamond form subconsciously, seeking safety.
“Imagine if we had him on our side.” He continues wistfully. She shivers as her mind supplies her with images of Magneto bending things and Xavier bending people, the world at their feet and is grateful, for the first time that the two of them are on the opposing sides.
Grateful for the rules that keep Xavier from joining Magneto and the rules that keep Magneto-
he denies having them, but Emma knows better
-from becoming someone worse than Shaw.
“There will be consequences for what you did.” He says and she closes her eyes. He will not kill her. Not now, when she knows better than to cross him or Xavier.
The lock on the door clicks closed.