NOTES: I HAVE RETURNED. With some awkward mutants, grumpy teenagers, and the rules one has to impose when those things are mixed with a regulation size swimming pool. I did promise a sequel chapter to The Gap Between Us, but that sequel chapter is currently refusing to be written. I'll achieve that one eventually. I apologize for keeping you all waiting; I've had terrible writer's block all summer. Also, actual pool!fics should happen soon...

(Title and quote from Fade Like a Shadow by KT Tunstall).

IN OTHER NEWS: If you want to put a face and voice to the insanity, find me on Youtube (JonesIantoJones), or check me out on Tumblr just for fun (SnaffleBit Humptywink).

RATING: K+ for bratty teenagers

Like a Shadow

Thinking about it every day / and starting to notice you're fading away

"Alright, rules: no using your mutations in the swimming pool or surrounding areas," Charles began, "unless, of course, you truly can't help it," he added with quick glances to Hank and Darwin, "in which case, it's not a problem. What this basically boils down to is: don't do anything stupid or destructive because Erik, Moira, and I will subsequently get the blame for leaving you unsupervised for too long."

A quick glance showed him that the majority of his audience was blankly staring at him in exasperation. Only Hank was actively nodding in agreement.

"Which brings me to the second rule, which is that none of you may use the swimming pool unless one of us three is in the room to supervise you."

The girls rolled their eyes, the boys (save Hank) groaned, and Erik glanced at Charles with a very incredulous-looking raised eyebrow.

Charles ignored each of these reactions and asked, smiling authoritatively, "Any questions?"

"That went about as well as it could have," Charles mused to Erik as they walked down the hallway after leaving the teens with Moira in the poolroom.

Erik's eyebrow was still at its questioning height. "Charles, you never–"

"What is wrong with you?" a voice interrupted from behind them.

Charles sighed. "One moment, Erik." He turned around to face an irritated, bathing-suited Raven as Erik retreated from the siblings to lean against the wall. "Yes, dear?"

"You are such an old fart…"

"What is it this time?"

"I finally make some friends and all you can do is treat us like we're five years old–"

"Love, you shattered one of the lounge windows and nearly set the lawn on fire."

Raven scowled. "That wasn't me!"

"I say 'you' in the collective sense; obviously, not all of you had a hand in it, but neither did any of you have a hand in trying to stop it," Charles retorted calmly. "Therefore, I'm holding each of you responsible and have gotten the message that we need to be more responsible for all of you."

Still scowling, Raven rolled her eyes and stomped back up the hallway.

"Well, that went about as well as it could have," Charles repeated, shaking his head and chuckling. "That's Raven for you." After a brief glance in Raven's direction, Erik silently left the spot he'd taken against the wall to rejoin Charles. As they continued down the hallway, Charles muttered, "I really don't know what's wrong with her lately…"

"I do."

Charles turned to look at Erik, his furrowed brow conveying an unspoken question.

"She's ashamed," Erik continued, frowning back at Charles as if to tell him that this answer was too obvious not to have noticed before. "And hopefully, if she spends enough time with others like her, no matter how out of control they are, she'll start realizing she doesn't have to be." Charles nodded contemplatively, staring ahead but looking at nothing. A few steps passed in silence before Erik spoke again. "Speaking of the…out of control others–"

Charles laughed, still staring forward. "Don't worry, I'll never leave you alone in there with them."

Erik laughed quietly. "Stay out of my head."

"I wasn't in your head. Fairly obvious guess."

Half-smiling, Erik added, "If you paid as much attention to your sister's behavior as you do mine, you might actually begin to understand her."

The smile disappeared from Charles' face. His brow furrowing again, he glanced over at Erik. Erik didn't look back, and they continued their walk in silence.