The Way to a Girl's Heart

- 0a -

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

Chapter Summary: Almost the way it always was.

Chapter Notes: Set after X3.

Remember When It Was

- 3 -

He looked the same. That was the first thing Raven noticed when she slipped into the quiet room Moira had pointed her to. It almost made Raven's lips quirk in a smile, the thought that they were both here, back in England, together with the only human woman both of them could tolerate.

She couldn't tolerate herself just yet.

"Raven?" His voice was hesitant, but familiar.

She leaned over him and brushed one hand over his comfortingly. "It's me, Charles."

Charles opened his eyes and looked at her. It wasn't the same body, but she couldn't tell the difference. And it was the same mind brushing gently against hers, asking permission to be truly sure she was his sister. With therapy, he would be able to walk again. With time, they might be able to heal.

He reached up and wiped a tear off her cheek with his hand. "Your hair is dark."

Raven let out a small laugh, not really amused, but unable to help herself that he would notice something so insignificant first. "Now you really do look like the big brother." She smiled at him through her tears. "I'm not... I'm not a mutant anymore."

His eyebrows knitted together. He dropped his hand to cover hers and squeeze tight. "You're still the prettiest girl in all the world."

"You always did know the way to this girl's heart," she whispered back.

Sadly, but not unkindly, Charles shook his head. "Oh, Raven. I never did."

They sat there for a while longer without speaking. Their eyes said more than enough. Everything had changed and nothing had changed all at once.

"I found our old apartment," Raven finally told him. "I even took the liberty of renting it."

"With whose money?" he teased.

Raven teased back. "What's yours is mine." The sentiment was, of course, true.

"Off to save the world then?"

The siblings looked up to see Moira standing in the doorway. Her doctor's coat was still a surprise to Raven, though Charles had seen her in this light for years, and would continue until he finished therapy for the long unused body he now occupied.

"No," Raven answered her. "Just one small Oxford apartment."

Moira nodded. "Just try not to let him burn it down."

"That was an exception," Charles protested. "I bake an excellent casserole."

And for the first time in a long time, Raven shared a laugh with a human.

It was almost like normal, Raven and Charles moving back into the comforting haunt of familiarity. They unplugged the television set. Both agreed to shut out the world unfolding after Alcatraz. They had been married to their plans and hopes for the future for too long. It was time to get to know themselves again—and each other.

Charles did melt the toaster, and Raven did harp at him and his sheepish expression the entire time she was cleaning it up. Moira stopped by often, pleased at his physical progress and Raven's emotional progress at getting over being left behind on Alcatraz.

"Erik was a bit of a jerk," Charles admitted lightly.

Raven nearly choked on her water when he said that. "You were his best friend. You sent me off with him." She poked him in the ribs. "What, were you lying?"

"No," Charles replied, almost primly. "But he did have a knack for leaving us whenever the tide of events changed."

Raven stared at him, then sat back with an almost child-like pout. "I absolutely refuse to commiserate over exe's with my brother."

Charles merely laughed. "I think we shall soon have company," he told her.

"Someone called?" Cautiously, she returned to sipping her water.

He tapped his temple with one finger. "In a manner of speaking."

Raven nodded. "Just tell them to leave the war outside." She set down her glass. "Now, my dear brother, we must teach you how to cook."