*ducks head anxiously* Uh. Hi. It's been... fuck. It's been seven months and three weeks since I last updated and I can't even begin to tell you how very sorry I am for that. I really don't have any excuse whatsoever. Except that this chapter was a bitch and really didn't want to be written, but that's fairly stupid. So. My deepest apologies for making you guys wait so long, especially given the fact that there are only about ten more chapters in this story to go.
Thank you so much to everyone who has stood by the story and has reviewed and asked me for updates recently. I know it's rough when your author doesn't update for months on end, and I hate to be that person. And I really wish I hadn't been, because you are the most fantastic fanbase I have ever had and I don't think I could ever thank you enough for sticking with me for so long. I hope you all enjoy this chapter. While I didn't exactly enjoy writing it, it is still in my opinion, one of my favorites.
Here's to having another update fairly soon! (Actually, it could very well be tomorrow, because I have a snow day tomorrow and most of the next part is already written. So. Maybe!)
I love you all and I hope you haven't given up on me completely.
The Perks of Being a Telepath
Chapter 54: A Sense of Wrongness
Charles couldn't even begin to describe the way he felt about the Xavier family mansion. On one hand, it was a testament to the shitty childhood he had undergone, all of the hell with Kurt and Cain, all of the pain and suffering, all of the heartbreak he and Raven had endured as children. He had been all too willing to run away to England with Raven in tow the second he had had the chance. But on the other hand, there was the past three years of Charles' life, which were in equal parts the best and worst, all involving the ragtag bunch of misfits that had come together to become a family, all calling the Xavier mansion home. While physically, it was still the same place, the very feel of the large house had changed, going from a stale, frigid building devoid of life, to a warm, bright place, pulsing with vitality. It had become home, something Charles had been searching for nearly his entire life.
Neither one of those things, however, covered what Charles felt now. There was an emptying sense of wrongness, as though something was missing.
The mansion was silent and dark, two things that it almost never was nowadays. Charles could feel the hairs on the back of his neck standing up as his heart beat faster and his blood started to race.
Behind him, Hank let out a soft, frustrated growl.
"Something's not right."
Charles could clearly see that, and only barely managed to curb his sarcastic insult that was on the tip of his tongue. He had evidently been spending far too much time with Erik.
"Can you smell anything, Hank?"
The telepath couldn't sense anything at all. It was almost as though there were no minds in the mansion at all, which was haunting, given the last thought Charles had been able to hear had been Erik's cry of distress almost an hour before hand.
Hank shook his head. He opened his mouth to say something, and then froze.
"Wait... There's something around back. I'm not sure what it is."
They shared a brief silence, during which Charles debated the logic of their splitting up. Something about this entire situation just seemed to scream trap to him, but he could not figure out what. Nor could he explain the lack of minds coming from inside the mansion, when in reality there should have been at least six, all full of dreams and nightmares at this time of night. He knew he needed to go into the mansion and figure out what was going on, but at the same time, he could not willingly send Hank into what could very well be a highly dangerous situation. But they still needed to know what was on the other side of the mansion, and if Erik was truly in danger, time was of the essence and they could not afford the extra time spent if both of them went to the back of the house.
They're no longer children.
Erik's words, spoken many times throughout the past three years, floated through Charles' mind.
He growled internally, knowing that this would be a very bad idea, before nodding at Hank.
"Go check it out. But please, be careful."
Hank nodded once and slipped off into the night.
Charles waited a moment, feeling slightly comforted by the fact that despite there were still no signs of activity coming from the mansion, he could still hear Hank's thoughts.
He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, counting down from ten in his thoughts, before pushing open the front door. He hadn't used this amount of caution to enter the mansion since he was sixteen and hiding from Kurt.
The wood creaked abnormally loud underneath his weight as he stepped into the house. All of the lights in the foyer were out, a situation practically unheard of in the Xavier mansion.
Charles was still completely unable to hear any psychic activity whatsoever. It made the hair on the back of his neck prickle uncomfortably.
He had been in similar situations, all of which had ended badly. The two which he remembered most acutely were Cuba and Texas, both of which had ended with severe pain and lots of heartache.
A large, solid object slammed into his side, breaking Charles' thoughts and forcing him back to the present.
As he crashed to the floor, instinct and years' worth of training with Erik and the others kicked in. Charles tucked his body and rolled away from his attacker, throwing out a mental pulse to see if he could get a read on the other person.
There was still nothing definable-no hints as to who the mind belonged to or what their intentions were-and Charles' attacker was moving too quickly for him to be able to figure out who it was. But there was something familiar about the way the mind was hidden, something he couldn't quite put his finger on and didn't have time to figure out.
His attacker lunged. Having anticipated the movement, Charles ducked right, but he was too slow. The assailant got in a few good kicks, knocking the air out of the telepath's lungs, and tackled him. A strong arm wrapped around his throat, drawing him upward.
The lights suddenly flickered on.
Charles blinked, gasping for air as the pressure on his throat increased significantly.
Hank stood in the doorway to the foyer, his blue eyes wide with horror.
"H-Hank, don't just stand there. D-do something!"
The telepath's voice was barely audible, a faint wheeze as the arm continuously applied pressure to his throat.
Charles would never find out for certain one way or another if surprise or genuine fear was what stopped Hank from moving that night. The telepath did know, however, that when his attacker did speak, it froze his heart.
"Take one step closer, Beast, and I will break his neck."
It was Raven.
A few weeks later found Erik in the middle of one of the almost empty hallways of the Xavier mansion, looking for Charles. Surprisingly, the telepath was not in the library, like he usually was this time of day, nor was he on the lawn helping Sean with his sonar abilities, or in the usual six thousand places that Erik could dependably find him on a regular basis.
No, instead, Charles had decided that today, of all days, would be a great day to go find a new place and not be the typical, dependable professor he usually was.
If the thought had actually truly surprised Erik, he might have been a little more panicked. But the fact of the matter was, no matter how saintly Charles was, the man still needed the opportunity to get away from everyone on occasion.
Though, Erik wished the idiot wouldn't choose today to do it.
In truth, today really wasn't all that important. It was just another typical, rainy afternoon at the Westchester mansion. For the most part, the mansion was empty. It being a Saturday meant that the mutants had free time to do what they wanted, so long as they didn't reveal themselves. It wasn't exactly something Erik approved of, but since the majority of the mutants were children, and since Charles was a big believer in good morale, the children got their Saturdays.
Sean had taken a lot of them into the city for shopping. Surprisingly enough, Raven had elected to stay behind and had then locked herself in her room. That was why Erik was now looking for Charles-someone had to be able to explain the shapeshifter's bizarre behavior.
Erik let out a frustrated sigh, and decided that Charles would show up eventually. He headed to the weight room-not to physically lift weights, for that was still out of the question while his injuries, but at least he could work out some of his inner frustrations on the metal weights.
Surprisingly enough, he found Charles there, sitting in the middle of the room with a small weight in one hand. Further observation revealed that it was indeed the hand which belonged to the dislocated shoulder Charles was sporting, the one the doctor said not to stress for at least a month.
"Should you really be doing that?"
Charles, who had been staring at the floor, looked up in surprise.
That in itself was interesting-Charles was never surprised by anyone's entrance.
The surprise melted into a guilty smile as he looked down at the weight in his hand.
"Once or twice won't hurt."
Seeing as Erik had been searching for the telepath for close to an hour, he highly doubted Charles had only lifted that weight once or twice.
He sighed and mentally shook his head. Charles was going to be stubborn and ignore Erik, even if the metal wielder told him he was being an idiot.
Erik solved the problem quite simply by using his powers and gently prying the weight from Charles' hands.
"That was uncalled for."
"You'll thank me later when your shoulder is better."
Annoyed blue eyes met calm green.
It was Charles' turn to sigh.
"Fine. I'll go to the library and do some reading. It seems to be all I'm good for nowadays anyway."
His light, mocking voice reminded Erik that he was not the only one frustrated by his injuries. While Charles' hadn't been nearly as bad, the telepath still had been sidelined from the mutant recruitment process. The knowledge that the longer they were out, the more mutants they couldn't save weighed heavily on both of their minds.
Erik resisted the urge to growl.
He trailed off, not knowing quite what to say.
Charles offered a light smile.
"It's not your fault, my friend."
"It's not yours, either."
The telepath shook his head, a small reminder of the conversation they had had weeks earlier. Erik wished that the other man wouldn't be so quick to blame himself for everything that went wrong, but knew it would do no good to argue.
Besides. It was a trait they had in common.
However, the gesture also reminded Erik as to why he was looking for Charles in the first place.
"Your sister is behaving... strangely."
Charles' eyes widened slightly in confusion, which begged to question where exactly Charles had been mentally the past few weeks if he hadn't noticed his own sister's behavior.
The brunette recovered slightly.
"She didn't go shopping today."
The words sounded absurd to his own ears, but Charles didn't laugh. Instead, he too frowned, and looked thoughtfully at Erik. Erik knew the telepath well enough to know that Charles' mind was far from the weight room, wandering down the halls to his sister's mind to figure out what was going on.
A moment later, Charles blinked, and came back to himself.
"I'll talk to her."
There was something immediately off about his stance, something that Erik couldn't quite put a finger on. He knew that he should probably say something-that if he didn't, this was probably going to end in disaster-but Erik also got the sense this was something Charles wanted to handle on his own.
Erik nodded once and then hesitated.
Charles sensed his hesitation.
"What is it, Erik?"
The metal bender shook his head.
"Just be careful, okay?"
Charles smiled softly.
"Aren't I always?"
"No. You're not."