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To be said and said

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Raven is in the kitchen, making a sandwich, when Erik finds her.

She's surprised to see him, really. In a house this big, it's easy for five people to avoid each other, and she's pretty sure they've all been putting a lot of effort into these last few days. She'd searched out Hank, the day after they got back, but he'd refused to talk to her at all. Even Sean and Alex have been quiet, keeping to themselves. She doesn't know what Erik's been doing.

"You were on the phone," Erik says from the doorway.

"I was," Raven replies.

Erik isn't glaring at her, but he doesn't look happy, either. "What did she say?"

There's a weird emphasis on she. Not only won't Erik say Moira's name, but he doesn't even want to admit she exists.

"He's doing good," Raven says. She looks down at the counter. "They're going to observe another day or two, but then she should be able to bring him home."

It stings that she can't visit Charles in the hospital. It's where she should be, there with him. Even if she couldn't do anything, she'd at least be able to see for herself. But Moira had warned them all away; it wasn't safe, after Cuba, being so public. People would be looking for them soon. Better to stay discreet.

Erik is silent for a long moment. "When you've finished eating, meet me in the courtyard."

"What?" Raven says. "Why?"

"Training," Erik says shortly.

"Are you kidding me?"

Erik shakes his head. "You didn't pull your weight on the mission. You need more fighting skills. I can help you with that."

She is about to protest, when Erik adds, in a voice that for him is almost soft, "It will give you something else to think about."

It's a good point, she has to admit. And she still thinks, sometimes, about the CIA raid, remembering how helpless and afraid she was, completely defenseless, unable to protect herself or help her friends. If there was anyone who could teach her how to fight, it would be Erik.

"Give me ten minutes," Raven says.

She cries when Moira brings Charles home. She hugs him awkwardly in his chair, and he laughs at her a little, patting her hair. The boys all crowd around him, too, relieved and maybe a bit giddy, talking over each other.

Only Erik stays back, leaning against the wall, his arms folded against his chest. Every time Raven glances over at him, his eyes are fixed on Charles.

Charles excuses himself to accompany Moira on a walk around the property before dinner. When he joins them at the table, she's not with him.

"She sends her apologies for not saying goodbye," Charles says. He doesn't look any of them in the eye. He's not - really - a very good liar. He never has been.

"Will we be seeing her again?" Erik says. His voice is casual; it doesn't sound like a challenge.

Charles's mouth twists. "I don't believe so, no," he says, and takes a drink of water.

Erik makes a small, satisfied grunt.

Raven can tell by their expressions that Sean and Alex haven't understood the subtext of what Charles has had to do. She'll explain it to them herself, when dinner's over.

"How many times must we have this conversation?"

Erik's irritated voice filters from the hallway into the library, loud enough to rouse Raven from her book.

Charles is quieter. "I just want you to understand, Erik. You have to see that this is the best way - the only way - to go about improving things. Violence, extremism, they're never going to solve our problems."

"I'm here, Charles, aren't I? What else do you need from me?" Erik's voice is cold in the way that still makes Raven shiver, even after all these months.

"Why are you here?" Charles says, and there's ice in his voice, too.

There's a silence. Then Erik says, in a hiss that Raven has to strain to hear, "How can you ask me that?"

Charles sighs.

"Go to hell, Charles," Erik says, and Raven has just enough time to open her book again and pretend to be reading before Erik enters the library.

He's not fooled, of course. He sits down heavily in the armchair across from her. She can feel the weight of his stare until she looks up at him.

"Eavesdropping is a nasty habit."

Raven shrugs, feeling defensive - mostly because she knows that he's right. "If you don't want people hearing you, you shouldn't be so loud."

Erik laughs, a short dry bark without any humor in it. "You and Charles do have a lot in common," he says, and Raven flinches even though she doesn't know why.

"But we're not teachers," Alex says, over another dinner. "We don't know anything."

"You don't know anything," Hank says, not quite under his breath. Alex glares at him but doesn't retaliate, which Raven thinks might be a testament to how much all of them have matured in the last few months.

Charles says, "You all have your unique talents and backgrounds. Each of you has something to contribute to the school, whether it's academic instruction or something else entirely."

"Like what?" Raven says. "For example."

He meets her gaze and smiles at her, the fond smile she remembers. It makes her ache a bit. "For example. These children are going to be lonely and confused. Leaving their homes, discovering that there are others like them. They'll need comfort and assurance as much as anything else we can give them. A friend, if you like."

She can't help but smile back at him, but when she turns back to the green beans she can see Erik's frown out of the corner of her eye. She wonders, suddenly, what sort of tasks he would have thought her capable of.

"Why won't you come grocery shopping with me?" Raven says. She perches herself on the corner of Charles's desk.

"I'm busy." Charles shuffles through his papers and doesn't look at her.

"It's been a month since you came home, and you haven't left the property once."

Charles says nothing, just continues to sort through the files. There's a deep line across his brow that she doesn't remember being there before.

"Charles," she says.

He rubs his forehead. "Raven. Don't push."

She reaches out and pats his shoulder. "I'm your sister. I have to push."

Charles lets out a heavy breath and finally looks at her. He says, very slowly, like he is searching for the exact correct words, "People look at me - think about me - differently now."

She waits, but that's all he says.

Oh, Charles, Raven thinks, biting her lip.

She doesn't say anything for a few moments. Finally, in a light tone, she says, "Well. I guess now you know what it's like."

For a few seconds, he looks at her with no real expression, and she doesn't know how he's going to react. But somehow it's not surprising when he reaches out to kiss her hand.

He comes with her to the store. She puts on her blonde mask before they go; it's odd how little it feels like her anymore.

In training, one day, she says, "Are you sleeping with my brother?"

"Distraction," Erik says, approvingly. "It can be an excellent technique."

She stops, dropping her arms to her sides, bringing the sparring to an end. "I'm serious."

Erik tilts his head at her. "Does it matter?"

Raven pauses to consider the question carefully. She knows Erik won't answer, otherwise. "Maybe," she says.

"Hmm," Erik says.

"You've moved into his bedroom, haven't you?" Raven says.

"Have you been visiting my old room?" Erik says, raising an eyebrow. "Attempting another late night seduction, perhaps?"

Raven blushes, despite herself. "I just don't get why it's a secret. You, of all people, hiding like that. What happened to being proud of who we are? Of not caring what society thinks?"

"What I feel for Charles is not hidden," Erik says, and there's something low and rough in his voice.

Raven swallows and says, "As his sister, I should warn you what will happen if you ever hurt him-"

"I've already hurt him," Erik says, and she flashes back to the day on the beach, that awful sickening drop in her stomach as she watched Charles fall to the sand.

"Are you going to break his heart?" Raven says, and it comes out quieter than she intends.

Erik looks her straight in the eye. "Probably," he says. "But anything I do to him, I'll do worse to myself."

He pauses and then adds, in a different tone, "But you'll break him just as badly, you know."

She thinks of Charles, her sweet, idiotic, bullheaded brother, and all the hopes and dreams he has for this house. Of all the good he's going to do for mutantkind, and all the children he's going to help.

She feels a little sick, because she has to admit to herself, deep down, that she knows she is not going to be here with him for it.

Raven says, "I know."

It's a surprise when Erik enfolds her in his arms. He's not, Raven is sure, practiced at giving comfort to others, and it is truthfully a little awkward. But it's effective, for all that. It's a reminder that she's not alone.