A/N: First X-Men fic, inspired by the oh-so-lovely James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, of course. Don't know if I've done Charles' telepathy right at all, and I had to do a fair bit of fanwanking to make sense of the confusion about Mystique's age, but hopefully there's something of a good story in here. Concrit much appreciated for any aspects of X-Men-verse I might have gotten wrong, but do, please, be kind to this newbie. :)
Raven has been with him. Him being Erik. With him meaning sexually.
Charles doesn't have to break his promise never to read Raven's mind to know; it's obvious from the moment she and Erik enter Charles' hospital room three days after the accident on the beach that cost him the use of his legs that their relationship is a sexual one. He sees it in her body language: how her fingertips, her body brush against Erik's as they stand together at the foot of the bed, and how the strong lines of his face soften slightly in response; the way her eyes follow his every movement as though magnetized, while he casts off an air of being completely aware of her, at all times, even when his attention is rapt upon Charles; and how, whenever his gaze does touch hers, however briefly, her lips curve in a small, (not very well-kept) secret smile.
Of more interest to Charles, however, is the evidence of the relationship in her overall demeanor, as if in a few brief days she's shed the stroppy, slumping, self-conscious teenager persona and transformed herself into a woman who walks proudly with shoulders back, head held high, confident in her own blue skin for the first time in her life. Alarmingly confident, to be honest, if her new fashion choice is any indication, her concealing turtlenecks and go-go boots exchanged for sandals and a thigh-baring, low-cut dress so sheer as to make one wonder why she's bothered to put on clothes at all.
Also, Charles knows they've had sex because he made no such promise about reading Erik's mind.
He has to probe a little further back than expected, past the jumbled emotions at the forefront about himself, of Erik's guilt and remorse and shame and-still-justification and blame-shifting, before he reaches last night's images of Erik's pale, sinewy frame entangled with Raven's voluptuous blue figure.
Why Charles lingers in Erik's memory after ascertaining that yes, he slept with Raven, is somewhat of a mystery. Voyeurism has never been one of Charles' kinks, and he ought to be disgusted to watch his friend-turned-nemesis make love to the young woman he's long regarded as his little sister. His seemingly under-age little sister-although, as Charles discovers when he trawls a little earlier in the evening's memories, Erik did try to resist his attraction to Raven, bolting his bedroom door against her advances, only to be undone by Raven's own brand of blunt logic bellowed through the door:
"You do realize I'm not actually seventeen, don't you?" she shouts. "Beast explained it-physically, I age at half the rate of normal humans."
Bizarrely, Charles finds himself stifling laughter at her, as well as at Erik, who growls into his pillow before yelling back in tones of exasperation, "Yes, well, if you want to be treated your true age, then I recommend acting it."
Since the memory is from Erik's point of view, Charles must rely on his imagination to supply the likely image on the other side of the door of Raven's momentary sulk before she retorts, as if Erik hasn't just insulted her, "That means this will be one case where a woman ages more gracefully than a man, so unless you want to wait until people think you're just a dirty old man-"
Erik barges out of his room and looks at the nude Raven with such intense desire that the pupils of her yellow eyes contract and her back arches and her midnight blue nipples stand erect at the tips of her full breasts and Charles can almost smell the musk of her mutual desire before Erik has even touched her. Then he captures her lips with his own and sweeps her up into his arms and carries her to his bed with a passion that makes Charles catch his breath and think that Clark Cable doing the same in Gone With the Wind seems positively frigid by comparison.
Though fully aware of the slight hypocrisy of watching Raven in an intimate encounter in someone else's memory amid the claim that he'd never violate her privacy by delving into her own mind, Charles continues his sojourn in Erik's head. At first he stays because he's captivated by the sight of her recent insecurities melting from Raven's face as her head falls back on the pillows with an expression of utter bliss as Erik blesses every inch of her blue skin with kisses and murmurs that she is beautiful…magnificent…superior…But then she cries out and Charles cannot leave, mesmerized by her eyes, rounded in pain, and by her fingernails, carving crescent moons into Erik's shoulders as he pushes into her, and by the realization that she is a virgin.
Because all these years she was waiting for him. Him being Charles. The thing she was waiting for being for him to love her.
But he didn't-not like she wants, not like she needs.
Not like Erik does.
Charles watches the hands that can manipulate any metal on or in the earth evoke pleasure from Raven's body and transformation in her soul, and is ashamed. She offered herself to Charles, and he justified his rejection with the pitiful excuse of not being attracted to her, when in reality he saw the physical manifestation of her gift as an unfortunate side-effect that should be hidden, all the while claiming the moral high ground over a man who possesses the rare ability to see individuality as beauty and who knows the true meaning of unconditional acceptance.
The same man who, at this moment, extends that acceptance to him.
"Mere mortals can walk, Charles," Erik says. "Gods read minds."
Charles withdraws from Erik's mind then, and finds himself a little jarred by the abrupt shift from steamy bedroom scene to stark hospital ward…from the smooth words of seduction Erik was speaking to Raven to his awkward, even ill-conceived attempt to encourage Charles…from the shame of not giving Raven the dignity due her to simply being ashamed of his own indignity.
"This from a man who can fly," Charles mutters.
And have sex, he adds in his head, as it hits him for the first time that walking isn't the only ability he's lost. A glance down at the overly-starched hospital linens spread, un-rumpled, across the useless lower half of his body reveals him to have remained unaffected by his little foray into mental voyeurism. But even if he can still be aroused, what woman will want him? Certainly none of those girls at university who were so easily charmed by his idiotic pickup lines. Mutant and proud resounds in his head, mocking him.
Against his will, he looks at Raven, who's stood there with her hand in Erik's gazing at Charles with those yellow eyes that now seem strangely alluring. They shimmer with unshed tears, not of pity, but of genuine sorrow for his loss-though that doesn't make him feel less humiliated than pity would.
For the first time in his life, he questions whether telepathy truly is a gift. He'd have been better served by the ability to see, in the moment, what could have been his. Or by the foresight to realize that one day, he might need someone who would fully understand the primal need to be accepted exactly as he is, with all of his many shortcomings.
And now, with a sisterly kiss on his cheek, she is gone.