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The Sadness of a Telepath

Nobody could have predicted what it would be like to live with a depressed telepath.

A week from the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Charles Xavier was accompanied by Moira McTaggart back to his Westchester residence. They strolled through the grounds toward the mansion, Charles steeling himself to face the young mutants like this; wheelchair bound and heartbroken. Moira chattered at him, trying her best to distract and cheer him up, but the waves of pity and guilt and apologies that rolled off her mind were so incredibly strong that none of Charles' techniques for keeping to his own head were able to block them out.

He kissed her and erased most of her memories of the events of the last month. He took away any knowledge of how to return to him, but left some of her happier memories of the time they had together (and in her time with the mutants, she'd accumulated quite a few) to help her remember mutants are people too. He dulled her love for him so that she would quickly be able to dismiss it. He did not love her; not because she was a human, or a woman, or any other such reason. He simply could only love one person at a time, as he wasn't polyamorous, and his quota was filled for now. Perhaps forever.

He watched her leave, walking calmly and contentedly (or blissfully ignorantly) away from him until she disappeared from sight. Then he looked at his lap, sighed at the uselessness of his legs, wondering if he would ever become accustomed to it, and wheeled himself to the front door. Sean, Hank and Alex greeted him. All radiated sadness about his paralysis but also relief that he had returned, gratitude, affection and a lot of other, more pleasant emotions. Charles supposed that it was good that the two who blamed themselves for his condition were no longer with him. He wouldn't have been able to stand the onslaught of constant, overpowering guilt.

Charles was surprised and impressed that Hank had managed to corral the other two and prevent them from breaking any of his antiques, and the boys had even done some grocery shopping. In the week he was gone, they found the tool shed and started working to make the mansion wheelchair-friendly. Alex beamed proudly and announced he'd cleaned out and repaired the disused lift, which cheered Charles up a little because he could now access his bedroom and study independently, not that he would be entering the latter room for some time.

Sean surprised everyone by revealing accomplished cooking skills. The four sat down to a delicious dinner, avoided mentioning the pair missing from their set, and managed to entertain Charles enough so that he almost forgot about his losses and cheered up considerably. When the boys had gone to bed, he slowly and carefully found a bottle of whiskey (not his favourite, or best quality bottle, but it was in the study near the chessboard upon which he couldn't let himself to look, so it would do) and made his way up to his bedroom in the rickety, decade old lift (I'll have to replace it soon, he thought, if I want to survive my daily trips up and down without further paralysis in an elevator crash).

Even something as simple as preparing for bed now took twice as long – which made sense, he thought, considering he no longer had control over half of his body. He made a mental note to get Hank to fetch him some books from the study, which doubled as a library, tomorrow, instead picking up his thesis as the only reading material in the room and pouring himself a very generous tumbler of whiskey. Unfortunately, the thesis reminded him of times he read it to put Raven to sleep, so he threw it away from him. He then proceeded to drink himself to a deep, dreamless slumber.

The four fell into a pattern. Charles, slightly hung-over and paraplegic, would now only manage to make his way downstairs at midday, by which point the others would have done some physical training and be having lunch, join them for the meal and conduct some lessons on whatever topics interested them (usually science or history), with some assistance from Hank. Then, they would go outside (Alex had rapidly mastered his abilities even without the focusing disk Hank built him) and train their powers for a couple of hours, then retire to rest or take care of chores. After dinner, they would sometimes work together on the new Cerebro Hank was building, or other projects like the reconstruction of the jet or a new wheelchair for the professor.

Charles fought to keep his mind occupied or numb, or both. If he did not succeed, he would start to remember strong hands, black turtlenecks and metal behaving like liquid at a mutant's touch. However, his keeping himself in a constant state of near exhaustion began to take a toll on his health, both physical and mental. His telepathic control was slipping, and he was unconsciously bleeding his grief into the minds of the other occupants of the mansion. This culminated to a disaster one Saturday afternoon, when Alex found Sean about to jump off the satellite dish; without wearing his X-suit and activating his abilities. His anguished mental calls for assistance finally reached the professor, who sent Hank along to help Alex and together they managed to bring a distraught Sean safely back inside, where they sat down in the living room for a serious talk.

Hank and Alex had also been experiencing crushing sadness which they suspected to be not of their volition. Charles was ashamed at his loss of control, apologised to Sean endlessly, and immediately put his efforts to reversing the damage to the others' psyches and strengthening his mind barriers. Quietly, with a lot of maturing on everyone's part, Charles told of his depressed state (including, even, some reasons for it and his newfound alcohol dependency) and then the household put its efforts to battle it with Charles.

Eventually, deeming the professor to have recovered as much as he ever could, the four stood before the door to the study. Charles was ready to go in and pick his own books rather than shying away and having Hank do it for him. Alex opened the door and Sean pushed the professor inside on his new wheelchair (containing no metal whatsoever, just to be safe), with Hank bringing up the rear.

Charles sat quiet and stiff in his chair, holding his breath. He motioned for Sean to let go of the chair and wheeled himself to the pair of armchairs, small table between them supporting the remnants of Erik and his last, unfinished, chess game. He gazed at it sadly.

"Leave me, please," Charles said without looking around, throat tight, tears burning hot behind his eyes, "and don't worry Hank, I won't do anything 'stupid'". The sheepish trio retreated to prepare lunch.

Charles Xavier sat a long time in his wheelchair, coming to terms with the loss of his legs, and more devastatingly, the loss of his two best friends, a sister and a love.