“Sorrow found me when I was young,
Sorrow waited, sorrow won.
Sorrow that put me on the pills,
It's in my honey, it's in my milk.
Don't leave my hyper heart alone on the water,
Cover me in rag and bones, sympathy.
’Cause I don't wanna get over you.
I don't wanna get over you.”
~ “Sorrow”, The National
“Sorrow found me when I was young…”
~ “Sorrow”, The National
The sleekly designed wheelchair moved fluidly: easy to learn, easy to maneuver.
She loathed it on sight.
“What do you think, Professor?”
She smiled tightly. “It is wonderful, Hank. You’ve outdone yourself once more. Thank you.”
The blue-haired mutant grinned. “No problem. Glad you like it. I was thinking we could start working on building Cerebro II soon, if you’d like?”
Again, she nodded. “That sounds great.”
It was a week after the entire debacle. Charlotte was out of the hospital now after a quick physical recovery.
She had resolutely left her tears on the beach and refused to shed anymore. It didn’t mean she no longer felt the urge to scream.
The doctors had said…well, they’d said a lot but it boiled down to the fact that the bullet had practically severed her spinal cord and she would never walk again.
While hospitalized, Hank had made the time to build her a wheelchair before she was released. The others pitched in with the Westchester house, doing their best to accommodate her new lifestyle. She returned home to find the furniture rearranged, the elevators inspected to be in perfect working order, the kitchen reworked, and her bathroom almost entirely remodeled.
She was touched at their determination and work ethic.
Earlier that day, after arriving home, she had wiped Moira’s memory of the entire event and sent her home.
The house was left with only Hank, Alex, and Sean. It felt empty without Erik and Raven.
Charlotte didn’t allow herself to ponder upon such things.
In the meantime, she focused on making the dream she had showed Erik a reality. And so she began setting about to make the Xavier mansion a school for mutants. Though they didn’t have Cerebro, they still had some print outs and coordinates they had not had time to search for. They could run through that list for students and, hopefully, teachers.
That was the main concern before even making sure the mansion could be made into a school. She needed teachers. While Hank seemed very willing to be one, Alex and Sean were hardly teaching material. Not yet.
Alex, though, had mentioned wishing to find his younger brother, Scott. Perhaps they could recruit him as one of their first students.
Her mind swam with plans and ideas. So she put aside her impediment to focus on creating a school.
The first note came very shortly after she returned from the hospital.
She found it on her desk. It was in an envelope, which was sealed with wax. She knew its sender on sight but opened it anyways.
It made her throat tight but she restrained her tears. She had no doubt that it was from him, that he most likely sent Azazel to deliver it.
It was unlikely, improbable…but she did it anyways, just in case.
In a sealed note of her own, she wrote a reply. It took her three tries before her handwriting was suitable and you couldn’t tell her hand was trembling as she wrote it.
I know. I forgive you, Erik.
The next morning, when she came into her study, the note was gone from her desk. She smiled at that, daring to hope. Just in case, she tucked his note away in the bottom desk drawer and locked it. Just in case there aren’t any more, she told herself.
There were more.
Two days later, his reply came.
How can you forgive me? How can you possibly?
She could sense the guilt behind his words. So she merely said: Wouldn’t you?
Nearly a week later, he wrote back: I would forgive only you, Liebling.
Time went on.
Slowly, Charlotte adjusted to the wheelchair. She forced herself to—forced herself to adapt to this limitation, forced herself to learn her house again, forced herself to change her daily habits as needed.
A month after returning to Westchester from the hospital, the boys had finished building Cerebro II. While she had rested, recovered, and adjusted wearily to her new life, they had finished necessary renovations to the mansion and the new Cerebro.
They showed her to the new device proudly as she studied it. Hank had improved his design to make it more powerful and effective; the young mutant was full of more pride now than Charlotte had ever known him to be before.
"It's perfect, boys," she said as she looked around the immense, round room. "You did beautifully."
Sean and Alex grinned now too.
"Was a son of a bitch to finish," Sean said with a mischievous grin. "Woulda been easier if Erik was—"
Alex smacked the back of Banshee's head sharply with a furious glare. Hank let out a low growl.
Charlotte winced visibly. "It's alright," she said quietly. "You didn't intend to, Sean." The telepath reached up and patted the redhead's shoulder as she sent a wave of calm to him. Her smile gave away none of her heartache. "Now, let's test out Cerebro, shall we?"
She reached for the helmet, placed it atop her head, and reached out with her mind.
Instantly, her mind spread wide and she gasped slightly at how much more powerful Cerebro was. Her normal range was over two hundred and fifty miles and now…now, her mind was stretching to encompass the entire planet.
She could feel them all, feel every human and mutant alive, feel them all connected, feel their pain and joy, their love and sorrow, their compassion and hatred: the dual beauty and the ugliness of the human condition.
With a shuddering breath that brought her back to herself, Charlotte focused on that in Westchester.
She focused on the room she stood in, upon that spherical structure underground, and the five consciousnesses within.
The telepath froze.
But yes, there were five including herself. Herself, Hank, Alex, Sean, and ...? But the fifth was faint and gentle, not quite fully conscious, but full of warmth and contentment.
Charlotte tore the helmet from her head.
"Professor?" Hank exclaimed in worry.
"I'm—I–I need a moment, boys, please," she said and only just realized there were tears down her cheeks. "Excuse me."
She wheeled herself quickly into the corridor and to a nearby bathroom, in which she locked herself before going to the toilet.
Her stomach churned with unease before it finally gave up her breakfast to the porcelain bowl. After flushing the toilet, the professor stared at her reflection in the full-length mirror: pale faced with panicked eyes and tearstained cheeks.
Cautiously, she lifted the hem of her button-up blouse and inspected the smooth plain of her stomach before laying a tentative hand over her flesh.
"Oh," Charlotte whispered.