UPDATE - SO sorry for the formatting issues! Dear Wolfa Moon, I am so grateful!

I cannot BELIEVE there are Erik/Charles fanfics out there under the DoFP category, at least young E/C. Erik is A SON OF A BITCH ASSHOLE. But! I gleaned some perspective on the Charles and Raven relationship, and will probably be incorporating aspects into Absolution; therefore, I claim the DoFP tag as well! *strikes freaky pose*


Very early the next morning, Raven rifles through the once familiar kitchen, only to immediately see that in three years everything has changed about it to accommodate the needs of hundreds of students and dozens of instructors now living in the mansion. The earl gray tea (honestly, why does every fic assume that Charles likes tea? Oh well) that Charles is so ridiculously fond of isn't in the usual cabinet. Biscuits? Missing from their customary spot beside said tea.

Hank enters the room on padded feet, so Raven doesn't hear him until he demands, "What are you doing here?"

She starts and whirls around, looking as guilty as if she had been caught filching in some stranger's house for food. "I was-I-"

It's alright, Hank. She is, again-here Charles' voice is dry-visiting. Be nice to our guest, old friend.

Beast frowns heavily, but nods stiffly. "These cupboards are full of cereal and snacks, as you may noticed. The adults usually prefer the new faculty lounge."

"Oh," she says in a small voice. "Thanks." She hates this feeling of nervousness, the fierce independence she had forged for herself falling into childish insecurity.

After following Beast's directions and foraging through the lounge, she discovers where Charles' usual breakfast materials are, and heads upstairs.

Raven stands at the door to Charles' bedroom, one hand hovering to knock, the other holding the breakfast tray. She has not been in this part of the mansion for many, many years, having had no reason to venture here.

Charles' voice floats through the door. "Breakfast in bed? Is this to be a daily service? By all means, come in." He is sitting on the bed reading, and waves a hand at a covered tray sitting on the small table by the table.

Surprised, Raven puts down her tray and checks the contents inside of the other. It's her customary breakfast food, scrambled eggs and bacon with two sausages.

"It might be a bit soggy, I'm afraid," Charles says casually. "You really shouldn't have dallied."

"Thank you, Charles," Raven says hesitantly, "You didn't have to do all this."

Charles snorts quietly as he turns a page. "Of course not. Unfortunately, you and Erik share this strange notion-that I owe you anything-that my welcome to you both in my life means that the invitation ought to stand permanently and is a thing to be taken for granted."

"You didn't accept me, Charles! You had this pretty idea of who I should be, a nice sibling to keep you company. You should have realized I was more than that."

"More flexible, certainly. That swinging knockout movement thing you do with your legs open on national television-very arresting stuff."

"Charles-you sick bastard-I can't even hold a decent conversation with you!" Raven shoots to her feet, glaring. 'You haven't changed at all."

Charles sighs and puts the book down. "I apologize. That was crude. But I doubt you'll like what I really want to say any more, or if you'll even bother to listen"

Raven takes a breath to calm herself and forces herself to sit down. "Go ahead."

"I am sorry, for many things that went wrong with us. But, do you remember what I said to you the day we met?"

Raven pulls back the memories. "You said I'd never have to steal again. That you'd take care of me from then on."

Charles nods. "And also, I said, in summation, that I'd found someone like myself, someone different." His voice is wistful, melancholy. "Perhaps I gained more out of our arrangement than I allowed myself to recognize." He leans forward, gaze intent. "You wanted me to look at you, to find you attractive in your true form. But, Raven, you were my little sister. How could I look at you the way you wanted? You say I haven't changed at all. I have. I've learned in setting up this school that a person's mutation is shaped by the person, not the reverse. My initial regard for the beauty of your special mutation has not altered, only that I better understand that's it's not the most precious quality you have."

Raven is quiet for a while, thinking on this, then asks, half-jokingly, "Are you trying to justify your horrible track record with women? Because, although you did get laid sometimes, that's mostly because you were a slut and not that your pick-up lines actually worked."

Charles chuckles.

Raven laughs a bit as well. "I mean, you kept indiscriminately jumping from one night stand to another, one attractive person to the next, but you-" here she falters a bit. "I wanted you to see me, the real me, and think that I was beautiful."

Charles leans back. "Say we had tried a romantic experiment, which would almost assuredly go wrong, given our natures? I didn't want to lose you over a messy fling."

Raven's tone is edged. "Is that the only reason?" she challenges.

Charles sighs. "Alright. I'll be honest, and I'm sorry that I'm a horrid cad. I thought Moira was gorgeous, and accordingly I hit on her. Repeatedly. In terms of libido, I didn't know to make of your blue color or your crimson hair, any more than I knew how to appreciate an extremely tall or muscular woman. I had prejudices, and I was wrong to have them."

"At least you know that," Raven mutters.

"Regardless of my loss, I'm glad you're found strength to stand on your own," Charles says simply. "You've grown so much. You're a warrior. Although," he adds slyly, "I admit to being surprised at how physically graceful you've become. I remember you trying ballet, and also that-"

Raven laughs. "-it was a disaster! I hated standing on my toes!"

Momentarily unguarded, they smile at each other. Then, remembering himself, Charles clears his throat and inquires, "How was your night?"

"... fine." She hadn't been able to sleep at all. Raven can perceive from the dark shadows under his eyes that his night had not been any more restful.

There is a long silence. "We have much to learn about each other, you and I." Charles says finally.

Raven gives him a small smile. "I guess we don't know each other as well as we thought."

Charles inclines his head slowly, then pointedly returns to his reading, but as he does not directly tell her to leave, she only gets up to wander about the room and memorize again the arrangement and contents of the room, which, rather predictably, have not really changed. She knows that Charles in his personal effects is a creature of habit, and generally keeps a few things very close-like a worn and bravely hideous clay mug he'd made as a very young child for his mother, one of the few accomplishments she'd been present to praise-and most things at a distance, like his graduate books She also sees her photograph on the dresser by his bed, and bites her lip, but says nothing.

Eventually, she notices that Charles has fallen asleep while reading, head lolling against the headboard. Some things never do change. Smiling, she eases him under the covers. When she takes the book still loosely clasped in Charles' fingers to lay it aside, she peeks at the cover.

It is Kate Chopin's The Awakening.


PREVIEW (although the next scene will probably not be centered on Mystique)

Charles briefly closes his eyes. "One day, Raven, you'll know the whole truth about what happened between me and Erik at the hospital all those years ago."

Raven sighs irritably. "Why don't you just tell me? I want to understand ..."

Charles shrugs. "I could say it's not the right time. Or that, maybe, I want you to love me, freely, without the burden of knowledge, or as a negative of Erik."