STORY SUMMARY: Domestic life with the X-Men.

DISCLAIMERS: All characters and organizations (with the exception of small, mostly unnamed minor characters) are the product of Marvel.

CANONICAL NOTES: This story arc accepts movieverse canon for First Class, X1, X2, and X3. XO (Origins) is ignored. Powers for major characters follow movieverse, with the exception of Remy LeBeau/Gambit who is based on comicverse.

LANGUAGE AND ACCENTS: Cajun French is courtesy of Heavenmetal (many thanks). I will attempt to reproduce accents in this story arc.

The Way to a Girl's Heart

- 0a -

Story Summary: Charles always did know the way to a girl's heart.

Chapter Summary: Raven didn't believe him—brother's tend to be biased.

Chapter Notes: Set before First Class.

The Way to a Girl's Heart

- 1 -

Charles grimaced at the parting glare his potential future date had given. Raven dissolved into giggles. She was emphatically not the giggling type, so much that Charles whipped his head around in her direction. Immediately, he grimaced again and reached to uncurl her fingers from around the champagne glass.

"I'm not drunk," she stopped giggling long enough to inform him primly, but she let him slide the glass out of her reach.

"I believe you," Charles replied. She was easier to manage when he agreed with her. "But then, what's so funny?"

Raven dissolved into giggles again.

Last time he ever snuck her into a club with him underage, he noted to himself. Especially one that served champagne.

She elbowed him. Hard. "You!"

He rubbed his ribs.

She ignored his action. "That is the lamest pickup line I've ever heard."

"What?" Charles asked. "She does have a groovy mutation."

"Uh-huh." Raven shook her head at him. "Still lame."

Charles groaned and drank the rest of her champagne.

"Hey! That was mine!" Raven made a grab for the glass, but he pulled it out of her reach.

"You're my sister," he reminded her in his most tiresome drone. "I would be neglecting my brotherly duties if I did allow you to get drunk and..." He didn't finish the sentence, just looked at her meaningfully.

The last time she'd gotten drunk (long story, don't ask), she'd streaked naked and blue across the football field. While she'd claimed body paint (and they believed her), the fallout hadn't been pretty.

Raven crossed her arms and glared at Charles. "But what about me?" she demanded.

"What about you?"

"Do I have a groovy mutation?" she asked, voice suddenly quiet.

The question startled him. He couldn't read her tone. Her face was a mask. He had promised he would not read her mind.

"The grooviest," he said cautiously. "But you're my sister."

She stewed over this in silence before her shoulders sllumped a little and her empty fingers curled as if around a glass. Then she straightened, brightened, and turned to Charles with a sparkle in her eye. "You know," she said playfully, "even sisters occasionally like some flowers."

He studied Raven's teasing expression—how beautifully she acted the role. He had taken a psychology class last term just to help him understand her. She was so self-conscious about her appearance that he tried to avoid the topic altogether so she wouldn't be hurt by others and so she wouldn't feel that his "protesting too much" validated her own opinion. It seemed his silence had done worse.

He leaned over and kissed the top of her head. "I'll keep that in mind."

Raven woke to sunshine spilling in the windows on her birthday and bounded out of bed to enjoy it. She stopped suddenly and stared at the top of her dresser.

A dozen long stem roses filled a vase with their loveliness and her bedroom with their scent. Next to them lay a box of chocolates. She plucked out the small card and read 'to the prettiest girl in the world.'

She grinned, unable to stop herself. Raven didn't believe him—brothers were generally biased—but she kissed the card, smelled the roses, and savored every chocolatey bite.