A/N: The angst is back, folks!
Warnings: kinda short, angst, a bit AU, Raven/Azazel, mentions of Erik/Charles, mentions of Erik/Raven, and maybe a bit of Charles/Raven, if you're trying to see it. Set a few years after First Class. Title comes from a line in 'Whispering' from the musical Spring Awakening, which I listened to obsessively while writing this.
Disclaimer: If I owned X-Men, the 'divorce' (as my fellow fangirls have begun calling it XD) would have never happened.
The night is cool and chilly against Raven's bare flesh, and the sensation of being in one place and then suddenly being in another is, as usual, a little disorienting. She releases Azazel's elbow and stares up at the looming mansion before them, her heart giving a strange, awkward skip at the sight of her old home. The lights in the windows are warm and glowing, and she knows there must be children up there – mutant children, preparing for bed after a day of learning.
For one half-second, she burns with jealousy.
Then, Azazel speaks. His dark eyes, visible only by the weak moonlight, meet her yellow ones. His skin appears almost purple, and she knows hers must look just as black as the sky above. How fanciful; if only her scales were stars instead.
"Are you sure?" he asks, his voice as deep and quiet as ever.
"Yes," she says, her tone firm. "I'm sure."
"And he will be safe here?"
"Of course," she says, her gaze falling to the shape in Azazel's arms. The child is asleep, his features hard to make out against his dark skin in the darkness. "Charles will take care of him. He has to."
Azazel only nods, and unwinds the baby's blue tail from where it has curled around his wrist. He hands his child to Raven, and only watches silently as she holds him a little uncomfortably against her shoulder. She sighs very softly. Were this anyone but Azazel, she might kiss him – but he is Azazel, and while he is her lover (one of her lovers – Erik doesn't come to her often, but he is a man, a lonely man who misses his lost love with a quiet, fervent intensity, and so she plays her part for him), a kiss seems hardly appropriate.
"I'll be back soon," she says quietly. "He's probably already sensed us."
Azazel nods. "I will be waiting."
She tries to smile reassuringly, but can't manage it. Her son's tail twitches in his sleep, and Azazel's unreadable gaze focuses in on the movement. She turns and begins to walk before he has time to change her mind (not that he would say anything about it – but then, he probably wouldn't have to).
Her bare feet pad softly over the dying autumn grass, and for a moment, she is more than tempted to change forms. She has the strangest urge to melt back in to her old self, her blonde, pretty disguise, and she longs to turn back to Azazel, hand him their child, and go running to the house like a long-lost sister coming home after many, many years. But she does not – she can not.
She walks up to the door, and tries the knob – it is unlocked. And of course, Charles is there, waiting for her in the foyer. He had sensed her mind the second it appeared. Or perhaps he'd been watching her all along, and had known she was coming the second she'd made the decision.
Though she has always been a bit taller than him, it unnerves her to have to look down so far to see his face. He is in the wheelchair, and the sight of it after all these years makes her throat clench up. The last time she saw Charles, he was lying on the beach, his now useless legs stretched out on the sand as Erik held him (and then left him . . . left him for dead).
He looks up at her, his expression carefully neutral. "Raven," he says. His face suddenly softens, and he reaches out a hand to her. "My dear Raven."
She is perilously close to breaking, and she reaches out to grip his pale, smooth hand with her free one. "Charles," she murmurs. "You know why I'm here, don't you?"
"Yes," he says gently. His baby blue eyes (how she has missed them – sometimes, when looking in the mirror, she finds herself changing her yellow eyes to resemble them, but in the past years she has forgotten their exact color) come to rest on the dark form that she holds. "You have a child."
"Yes," she says, nodding. For a moment, she wonders if he's listening in to everything she's thinking, but his next question proves that no, he is not.
"Is he the father?" Charles asks, his gaze moving up to meet hers again.
"No," she says, indicating the boy's tail. "Erik isn't the father. He doesn't even know I'm here." He'd be furious if he knew. And he'll be ready to kill when I go back.
Charles inhales softly, and asks, "Is he alright?"
"Yes," she says, finally relinquishing her hold on Charles's hand. "He misses you. And he's so sorry, Charles." We all are. And I'm the sorriest of all.
Charles's brow furrows, his gaze darkens just slightly. He is as in love with Erik as he was on that final, terrible day, and it is so clear on his face that a blind man could see it. "I've forgiven him." And then, his voice is in her head – I've forgiven you, dear sister.
She closes her eyes for a moment at that word. Sister. It is not blood that ties her to him, but rather mutated strands of DNA, linking them forever – he is more her sibling than anyone in the Brotherhood could ever be.
She shifts then, lifting the baby boy from her shoulder. Absently, she brushes her lips over his forehead, and then she holds him out to Charles. Charles takes the child with all the ease in the world, and her heart cracks a little. It was always Charles who was meant to be a parent, not Raven.
"He has a very sweet mind. Very inviting," Charles says, looking down at the slumbering infant. "What's his name?"
"Kurt," she murmurs, and his surprised expression is not at all unexpected.
"Surely you haven't named him after –,"
Raven bites back a flinch at the thought of Charles's stepfather Kurt Marko, grimacing at the memories of shouting matches and bruises on Charles's jaw and that man's face, so hard and cruel. "No, of course not," she assures him quickly. "Erik suggested the name. He didn't know. He still doesn't."
"How very like him," Charles says, his voice unusually bleak. "To suggest the name that would bother you and I the most."
"I wanted to name him Charles."
Charles stares at her, and in the dim light of the foyer, she can almost see the tears in his eyes. "I'm flattered."
"Don't be," she says softly. "You deserve children of your own, not just a namesake."
Charles's smile is sad, wistful. "I have plenty of children. They're just not biologically mine."
She should probably ask him about the school, but that is the last thing on her mind. She wants to hug him, kiss him, stay with him. But she can't – it's too late. Too many years have passed. (Even one day would have been one day too long – it is all done now, and it breaks her heart.)
"You'll take care of him, won't you?" she asks. "Raise him like your own."
He nods, and the baby stirs, yellow eyes peeking open. "Are you sure, Raven?" Charles asks, looking down at Kurt.
"Yeah," she says. "I'm not meant to be a mother, Charles, and Azazel doesn't stay in one place long enough to be a father. He'll be safer with you. Happier."
Charles nods, and smiles a little as the baby yawns drowsily and blinks heavily. "I'll take care of him," he promises. "If he asks who his parents are, what do you want me to say?"
She makes up her mind in a split second, although she hadn't actually thought of that. "Don't tell him," she says decidedly. "I may meet him again one day, and I don't want him to know."
He looks up at her. "Raven –,"
She leans down then, and presses her blue lips to his snowy-pale cheek. "Goodbye, Charles," she says. "I'm sure we'll see each other again someday."
He reaches up and touches her face. In his lap, Raven's son looks up at them with glowing eyes and makes a soft, sleepy noise. "Goodbye," he says. "Oh, and Raven? Make sure Erik knows what I said. That I've forgiven him."
Every inch of Raven is threatening to break and bleed and ache, but she pulls it together. "I'll tell him," she vows. She takes a step backward then, and perhaps she is the worst mother in the world, but it hurts her more to pull away from Charles than it does to leave her son. But Kurt will certainly be better off here – this is the only real home Raven has ever known, so what better place is there for her child?
Charles's sad smile is back, and now the tears are visible on his cheeks. He watches in silence as she leaves, gazing out the front window until she is nothing more but part of the night, only her orangey-red hair visible. She turns when she reaches Azazel, and she looks back at him, her brother, sitting in his wheelchair and holding his unofficial-nephew in his arms. She smiles brokenly and shouts with her mind, I love you, big brother.
He hears her, she can see it on his face. And I love you, little sister.
Azazel takes hold of her elbow then, and Charles and Kurt are gone, replaced by the Brotherhood's headquarters. As soon as she realizes where she is, she lets out a choked sob.
The teleporter turns to look at the shapeshifter. "Do you want to go get him back?"
"No," she says, and she collapses against him, tears flowing hot and thick. "No, he's where he needs to be." He's with the one person who can take the best care of him. Charles does seem to make a habit out of adopting small blue children, doesn't he . . . oh, Charles.
Azazel holds her, if only because he doesn't want her to fall to the floor. "We will see him again someday."
She nods jerkily. "We will." I'll see him again one day, she reminds herself, repeating it over and over in her head forever. Charles will take care of Kurt – Charles will take care of the world when it lands in his lap.
So with that she wipes her tears, stands up, and goes on – and she misses him and loves him, her brother, her best friend, her protector. But she goes on, because even years later and miles away, Charles is still capable of saving those he loves, and she is still fortunate enough to be one of the few who lay a claim to his heart.
A/N: So obviously I know that Charles doesn't really raise Nightcrawler/Kurt, but leave me alone, I took a little artistic license. XD Thanks for reading, reviews make my day!