Title: Dysfunction
Summary: I love you, I hate you, I can't get around you. They never could play by the rules. Charles/Emma
A/N: LiveJournal memery, prompted by LithiumAddict

lack of empathy, understanding, and sensitivity towards certain family members,
while expressing extreme empathy towards others

They met in England. Emma Frost was visiting her relatives and presiding as guest of honor. Charles Xavier was quite comfortably entertaining (boring) one of her snobbish cousins, who was under the mistaken impression that he was wealthier than a Xavier. Emma rolled her eyes and went to extract this brilliant student—...and the way that this gene leads to viable mutations is...—for some more intelligent conversation with an equal. (Of course, she was his equal.)

The erstwhile cousin (Robert, was it?) skittered across the floor with her well-applied shove, her mind reached out to comb through the student's thoughts, and then Emma and Charles were staring at each other, blinking in shock.

You're a telepath.

Their expressions turned wary; mind circled mind, seeking for a flaw. But underneath his caution, Emma could almost taste the bright flame of optimism and hope licking at her diamond shields.

She reached out to probe deeper. His blue eyes widened. He did not have her cold hardness to seal her out, and she felt a sharp spike of satisfaction at discovering her advantage.

She smiled and held out her hand. "Emma Frost."

"Xavier." He reached out hesitantly, then clasped her hand firmly, eyes narrowed and dove headlong into her.

The rough strength he had available surprised her. In the space of a handshake, Charles knew about her sister Ariadne and Emma knew about his sister Raven. He knew her father petted her head like she was merely a fine, well-trained beast. She knew his mother kissed his cheek if he stayed out of the way like a good young man. He knew she was more special than just a telepath and more intelligent than just a wealthy young lady. She knew he more tender-hearted than a real mother with her own young and more genius than he felt safe to let on.

"You're rather heartless, you know," he finally said, withdrawing his hand and cocking his head.

Emma laughed. "Not to you," she said.

purposefully violating a boundary another person has expressed

She did not want him telling Raven about her, and at least that was one rule he honored. The others...not so much.

"Some people like to sleep," Emma would grouse aloud when he woke her in the middle of the night with a psychology question he should have known the answer to.

Well, some people aren't psychotic enough to know, he would quip back when he was feeling particularly antsy.

He had been fighting with Raven again. Emma mulled that over, along with his question.

It would be easier to rewrite the behavior than retrain it.

She could feel his mental eye-roll. I'm sure my professor will perfectly understand how I could do that.

Emma sniffed. You read her mind, didn't you? she demanded.

A long pause. Excuse me?

Her mind. Raven's. Emma's eyes narrowed. For someone who can't get off your high-horse about ethics, you certainly don't have many.

Charles sniffed. So says the woman who walks in my mind whenever she feels like it.

Is it my fault you have terrible mental shielding?

Is it my fault I'm not cold as a diamond? Charles retorted.

Emma might have steamed over that one, but her anger was not hot, but rather cold as ice. At least I don't pretend to follow someone else's rules of right and wrong.

I have asked and asked you, Emma, not to invade my mind whenever my shields are weak, he replied in his best "infinitely patient" tone.

Emma raised a mental brow. And I have asked to be allowed to sleep. She turned to diamond and shut him out.

either too much fighting or insufficient arguing

They did not discuss their differing viewpoints any longer, though Emma did not see it so much as a differing point of view (both of them used their powers fairly as they pleased), as a differing amount of hypocrisy. They did not argue when Emma invited him to join the newly formed Hellfire Club or when Charles turned her down.

They did occasionally slip beneath each other's mental shields and exchange bruising mental caresses, melding thought to thought, prodding emotions they had no business touching, and creating a white heat of euphoria in each other's minds.

They did not discuss it; neither stopped the other from doing it.

She warned him once when Shaw declared they would destroy the world as Charles knew it. He warned her once when Erik declared that Shaw was as good as dead. They could both play their parts better than any actor, and who could call them on it but each other.

I love you, she should say. She thought at him, Don't die.

I hate you, he should say. He thought at her, I know that metal cannot break diamond.

I cannot get around you, they should say. We'll fix this later.Minds meld and merge and shatter each other in a hundred pieces.

Tomorrow never comes.