Charles first notices it during another silent family dinner. He's picking at the glazed duck breast and fennel salad, trying hard to close his mind against the dull unhappiness in the room, when he feels something else... a growing warmth starting at the back of his head, spreading through his body, lighting up behind his breastbone.
And he feels emotions: curiosity. Nervousness. It's not from him. But it's not from outside him, either; he knows what that feels like, too well, the essential strangeness of thoughts and feelings that aren't his own.
Part of him, but not him. Maybe, then... he doesn't know what else it could be.
"May I be excused?"
Raven looks at him, concerned. He gives her a smile and a quick «Everything's all right.» He could tell Raven... of everyone he knows, his sister is the only one he'd like to tell. But for now he just wants to keep this for himself before he shares it with anyone, even her.
His mother frowns a little at his barely-touched plate. "You're excused, but wrap that up and put it away. If you're hungry later, finish your dinner instead of eating junk food, all right?"
Charles covers his plate with clingfilm and stashes it in the refrigerator, climbs the stairs and goes to his room. A year ago he begged to move to the room with the window seat, and his mother indulged him, on Kurt's condition that Charles move all his things himself. He's still not sure he put the bed back together correctly-- it makes funny noises sometimes-- but it's worth it.
It's definitely worth it at times like this, when he can sit in the window seat hugging his knees, draw the curtain and open the window and feel entirely separate from everything in the house. A space of his own. The best place he could want to be, to feel this... this sense of uncomplicated happiness, someone else's happiness, igniting his own, reflecting and building on it, til Charles is smiling hard enough to make his face hurt.
He closes his eyes, and touches his temple. «Can you hear me?» he sends.
He feels a ripple of surprise. No answer, but maybe a sign that his message was received.
«I can't wait to meet you,» Charles tries to tell his soulmate, across whatever miles might separate them. «I know we'll have to... but I hope maybe we can talk to each other til then.»
A little shiver of emotion, not much, but enough to encourage him.
«I'm a mutant. A telepath,» Charles sends. «I've always wanted--» even as fast as he can think, he cuts that off, unsure. But that feeling in him is so steady, so warm. If he can say it to anyone... «I've always wanted to find someone who wouldn't mind that I can hear their thoughts. I already know how you feel through the bond... maybe it would be all right...?»
There's nothing specific to tell him he's being understood, but the wide-open sense of happiness and homecoming is enough. It's enough to stop doubting and worrying, for now. He leans his head against the windowpane and looks out, the breeze cool on his face. Usually he'd be shivering at these temperatures without a jumper, but with the bond taking hold, getting stronger, lighting him up, he feels as if he'll never be cold again.