Spoons and Solace
Written by Loverly Souris
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Author's Notes: First of all, I would like to dedicate this fanfiction to that anonymous fan who sent a confession to the X-Men First Class Confessions tumblr page (the post can be found here, just remove the spaces: firstclassconfessions . tumblr post / 37974007955). I'm not sure if you'll ever find this story, but if you do, I want to thank you for giving me such a wonderful idea and I hope that you'll like it. :)
Also, just to make it clear – the story focuses of Charles and Jean's relationship, but it's not a Charles x Jean fanfiction. The actual pairings are Erik x Charles and Scott x Jean. Oh, and I mixed up the timelines a little bit, so imagine a First Class Charles here, please. :)
Enjoy the story.
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Edit: The world turned out to be much smaller than I have ever thought - the anonymous fan is not so anonymous anymore. :) Thank you, Wolfborg007.
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"You know I really like you, Jean. However, that doesn't mean you won't get to be punished for what you've done," Charles said and even though he tried his best to appear stern, his voice involuntarily softened as he watched the girl.
Jean and him were far too alike in attitude, abilities, personality – as soon as she had shown up in his school, she had immediately found her way to his heart, and Charles was incredibly grateful for this. Up until that day, nothing could fill the void in his heart. Teaching the children had helped a little, but at night, bad dreams had been assaulting him non-stop and the lonely darkness had poisoned his days as well, gradually turning them intolerable.
And then, Jean had appeared, and with her, another warm and friendly spirit had arrived knocking on the door of Charles' mind. It had been similar to the one that had left him not so long ago. He had let her in – and from that moment, he could always feel her, even if they were miles apart.
Her presence was like sunshine. The nightmares had slowly ceased to come, at least now they didn't bother him every day. He had realized that in the form of this girl, he had received a priceless gift probably from heaven, because even though his heart was still slightly wounded, she had been able to treat his injury and he knew that with her help, he would recover entirely in the end.
"I know, professor," Jean nodded, her red mane flowing with the movement. "And I'm very sorry for what happened. It wasn't deliberate. I swear."
"I'm sure it wasn't, but I have to punish you nonetheless. You could have gotten hurt, or worse. Fortunately for you, no one was passing underneath that window at that exact moment."
Jean blushed to the tip of her nose when she remembered an extremely angry Ororo. Her friend was very lucky to have such superb reflexes – she had barely avoided the accident with a few inches thanks to them. If she had hesitated and flown away a second later, she would have gotten hurt indeed.
After the incident, it hadn't been surprising that Jean had been followed everywhere by a large black cloud for the rest of the day. Even inside the mansion.
Charles tried to cover his chuckle with a cough. She reminded him of his fifteen-year-old self. "Anyway, at least you finally learnt that you shouldn't use your power on your own yet, without anyone to watch you. Especially not for winning bets."
The girl lifted her head at this. "It wasn't me who started it, it was-"
"It doesn't matter, Jean. You owe the school a table and a window."
"Yes, Professor Xavier," she groaned sulkily, but stayed quiet waiting for her punishment. Charles didn't have to look into her thoughts to see that she would carry on defending herself in every possible way since she was quite prideful, but the fact that she perfectly knew it was her fault didn't let her. Also, Jean had always felt an immense respect for Charles – which made him unique among the other adults in the school.
Charles smiled at his dear student. "Since nothing serious happened, apart from the property damage that is, you'll get a minor punishment. One week of spoon duty."
Jean stared at him, barely believing what she had just heard. To be honest, she had expected something much nastier, like being expelled, or an extra-long essay for Genetics, or maybe some courtyard-cleaning – the estate around the mansion was tiring even to merely go round on foot, let alone to maintain it. The spoon duty was almost too forgiving in comparison with the crime of accidentally floating a mahogany table out of the closed window from the sixth floor.
A relieved sigh left her lips that stretched into a grin afterwards. "T-thank you, professor!" she said and turned on her heels to dash out of the door, but Charles stopped her.
"Hey, haven't you forgotten something, Jean?"
The girl came to a halt and spun again to look at the man. "Sorry. May I be excused, professor?"
Charles smiled. "Yes, you may. I expect you to be here by 10 o'clock."
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"So, how did it go? What's your punishment?" Scott asked while they were sitting in their own secret corner on the courtyard.
Jean grinned. "It'll be a piece of cake. Spooning. For a week."
The main point of spoon duty – or "spooning", as some of the teens referred to this kind of punishment with no sexual innuendo at all, of course… – was that the unlucky student had to stand next to Professor Xavier's bed while rattling different kinds of metal objects until the he fell asleep. These "instruments" were most frequently spoons, hence the name.
Nobody knew exactly why, but the man was unable to doze off in complete silence. Jean had tried to find out the reason of this interesting habit several times, but it was like some top secret information, so well-hidden that she couldn't unlock the mystery even with the help of her ability. The only source would have been the professor himself, but she didn't dare to approach his private thoughts.
Nevertheless, she was a curious teenager, and as a teenager, she was sure she had the right to know everything in the world – she was yet to realize there were things that shouldn't be bothered.
Scott nodded appreciatively. "Not bad, a piece of cake indeed." He smiled. "The Prof likes you very much. Soon you'll be his special little pet. Watch out, or he'll adopt you. Despite of your parents."
"Shut up, Scott…"
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However, as 10 o'clock was getting nearer and nearer, Jean was overcome by a stupidly out of place wave of worry.
What if in reality, there was no spoon duty? Or there was, but it was something totally different from the thing they had imagined? After all, she had never spoken to anyone who had actually done it. The spooning was common knowledge, but nobody talked about it.
Jean winced. The idea of standing beside Professor Xavier's bed and "playing the spoons" was suddenly extremely ridiculous with not a single person to confirm it. What if that was only a gossip among the students that he had started to veil a much more difficult task? If it was, what was actually the spoon duty? Would she even get to stay alive until 11?
She should have investigated more. Her secondary ability was telepathy, for God's sake, she should use it.
Why didn't she use it? Damn it.
It was only in front of the well-known door when she could finally calm down and order herself not to think insane stuff. Professor Charles Xavier, the most straight-forward man in the universe, coming up with imaginary punishments and filling his students' head with lies? Oh, please. Professor Charles Xavier would never betray the trust that most of the people instantly put in him.
He wasn't her mentor for nothing.
Trying to look confident as she was holding two spoons in her hands – she had no idea whether she should bring her own cutlery or the professor would give her some –, Jean waited until the large clock in the hall struck ten and knocked.
"Good evening, Professor Xavier," she greeted him when the man opened the door.
"Good evening, Jean. Come in."
The girl entered the room and immediately noticed the steaming pot of tea on the small table. There were two nice cups next to it. Before she could open her mouth to speak, Professor Xavier motioned towards the armchair. "Take a seat, please. Care for a cup of tea?"
Jean was eyeing him and the tea uncertainly. "Uhm… I thought I'm here because of my punishment, professor."
"Yes, indeed. But I'm still almost wide awake, I don't think I can fall asleep yet, and I don't want to make this too difficult for you. So really, take a seat. Milk or sugar?"
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Scott burst out laughing. "Seriously, tea? He invited you to a tea at 10 o'clock? That guy's really something!"
Jean blushed in annoyance. "Don't laugh, Scott," she muttered. "I was sitting there like an idiot. I didn't expect that he'd want to chit-chat with me, but he told me that he was not sleepy yet and he didn't want to go to bed."
"But you had to do the spooning, didn't you?"
"Yeah. He fell asleep quite quickly after that, in like half an hour."
"You were lucky then. I heard he's a very bad sleeper."
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The professor insisted that Jean moved the spoons with her telekinetic power to kill two birds with one stone – practicing self-control and lulling him to sleep. He made her sit down in a chair by his bed and she was controlling the metal with her mind, rattling them once in every three seconds. Counting was essential to keep her focused on the task, and she could carry on for like half an hour – then, as her attention slipped on the boring monotony, Jean allowed herself ask a question since the man didn't seem to be sleeping anyway.
"Excuse me, if I'm too curious, but… how can you fall asleep with this noise?"
While Professor Xavier turned in his bed to face her, the clattering turned a bit erratic. "There are a lot of crickets in the park, aren't there?"
Jean had no idea where this had come from, but she answered. "Yeah, I can always hear them in summer."
"Do you like listening to them chirring?"
"Yeah," Jean nodded.
"But that's a kind of noise as well, right? A lot of people can't sleep at night because of it."
"Well, I can. I've already gotten used to it. In fact, I really love it."
He smiled. "And don't you miss it in winter, when there are no crickets? Don't you miss the chirring? Doesn't it feel like it's more difficult to fall asleep without it?"
Jean stayed silent, letting the questions hang in the air between them.
But she finally understood.
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The following day, Jean was extremely quiet.
"You're not very talkative today," Scott said as she was staring at the grass in front of them, resting her head on the boy's shoulder. "Is something wrong?"
"We both know that you can't lie. What's the matter?"
She didn't answer to that. She turned and buried her face deeper into the hollow in the base of his neck. Her eyes were getting damp for some strange reason and her throat was beginning to clog up with a bitter, painful lump.
Scott reached to place his hand on her hair. "Jean." He didn't say more – and yet, it was enough. The dam broke.
"Scott, h-have you ever heard the P-Prof mentioning someone called "Erik"?" she asked, trying her best to control her shaking voice.
Scott frowned in thought. "Erik? No, I don't think so. A relative maybe? Why are you asking?"
Jean lifted her head from Scott's shoulder and brushed away a few tears from her eyes – in vain, because it was soon followed by some more. "L-last night, we talked a bit, and then he fell asleep, and I was about to go when he s-started to mutter that name in his sleep… he was projecting while he was dreaming and… d-damn it, Scott, I could feel everything he felt, and it was so painful, I thought he was going to die!"
She couldn't restrain her sobs any longer, and as she became unable to speak, Scott wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close. His hands went up and down on her back in a soothing, sweet motion, but that didn't help a bit. Jean continued to soak his shirt with her tears, letting all the bottled up worry flow out in a chain of gasps and furious, half-muffled cries.
"Shh," he whispered into her ear. "It's alright."
"No, it's not!" Jean exclaimed. "I have to do something… that guy... that asshole hurt the Prof, I could feel it! I'm going to kill him!"
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Charles couldn't help but chuckle softly as he laced his fingers through Erik's soft hair, absent-mindedly stroking his scalp in little circles. The man sleeping on his bare chest reminded him of a large, satisfied cat and his snoring sounded like contented purrs, rattling even the tiniest pieces of metal in his bedroom – he was oblivious of this in his deep slumber though, leaving Charles alone with the monotonic alternation of silence and the metallic noises.
However, no matter how annoying it was, Charles didn't really mind. He looked down at the older man and the happiness that suddenly flooded him brought a few tears into his eyes. He was so aware of the protective arms wrapped around his torso he thought he was going to burst. Everything etched itself into his memory, the softness of the pillow under his head, the fragrance of the love they had just shared, Erik's breath on his skin, the sound of his fountain pens clattering in his drawer, the silvery moonlight that escaped into the room…
If this keeps up, I might collapse because of the insomnia you cause me, my friend, Charles thought to himself, letting his fingers run down on Erik's forehead, following the line of his nose until he reached his mouth. His lips were partly open – he hovered above them for a second before he caressed them, recalling their taste on his own.
But I don't care, he continued. Their heartbeats intertwined and sounded twice as loud. Charles cherished the feeling of being one with the only person who could complete his imperfect soul.
"I love you." And I'm so happy to have you, Erik.
The confession was embraced by the quiet jingling of the curtain-rings and Charles rested his hand on the back of Erik's neck, closing his eyes with the intention of falling into a peaceful sleep.
After several more nights, Charles finally got used to the noises so much that not only did he grow to tolerate them, but he soon found out he was unable to fall asleep when he couldn't hear the clanking of his metal chess set paired up with Erik's snores.
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Jean had tried anything she could without directly using her powers in order to find some information about this "Erik".
Nothing. Not even a photo. They didn't mention him anywhere, so she didn't even know his full name. She only knew that he must have been a horrible person to cause so much pain, and she hated him with all her heart.
A bit depressed that her investigation had no result so far, she entered the living room and plopped down onto the sofa next to Ororo who was watching the news on the television. The wrecks of a bridge took up the majority of the screen with the reporter's voice in the background.
"Luckily, since the Everdeen Bridge was out of order since October, the accident had no casualties. Experts assume that the damage was caused by a powerful mutant, presumably by mutant terrorist Magneto, who is particularly well-known for large-scale demonstrations of his power." The picture switched to a very bad quality photo of a person wearing something that looked like a cape and had chunks of metal flying around him. "However, it is not yet proven whether this highly dangerous mutant-"
Ororo hissed in annoyance as she stood to turn off the television, not noticing that Jean was watching it.
"Hey!" By the time she jumped up and turned it on again, they were presenting something else, some economical news, so she let her mind wander off instead – until her friend opened her mouth.
"Don't you find it frustrating?" she asked, and Jean looked at her.
Ororo narrowed her eyes at the television. "Mutants like Magneto are the reasons why people are afraid of us. They think we're all equally cruel and dangerous."
Jean thought about that for a minute. She could see what the other girl meant and she agreed of course, but… "Well, if there were no evil mutants, how would we prove that we're the good ones? I mean, if there were nothing to fight against, we wouldn't be able to say that we're different."
"… am I really so different from them?"
It was merely a whisper, almost inaudible, but Jean could hear it with all the uncertainty that the question carried. She scooted closer to her friend and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Of course, you are," she said smiling. "Your heart is full of goodness. You couldn't be anything but good even if you tried, trust me. That's why you're different – you have a power, but you know how to use it to create, not to destroy, and even though you're powerful enough to tear a whole bridge apart, you wouldn't do it."
Ororo chuckled. "I might consider it next time when you decide to drop something on me."
Jean pouted. "Hey, I've told you it was an accident and I've already apologized!"
"Yeah, sure." "Thank you, Jean."
A second later, Ororo's arms were full of the other girl. "I've only told the truth. Don't dare to doubt yourself. Ever."
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On the last night of the spoon duty, metal chess pieces were flying around the air occasionally colliding softly with each other. Jean had to admit the sound was quite soothing – it reminded her of chirping and she was starting to get drowsy herself. Professor Xavier was already sleeping so she wasn't needed anymore, but she couldn't make herself to get up and retreat to her own room.
She felt strangely overprotective of her favourite teacher. Even though she couldn't find out anything about that fucker, she felt like it was her duty to defend him – against what, she didn't really know, but she insisted. Professor Xavier was the best person in the world, and those who hurt him deserved to be punished.
Jean abruptly lifted her head and the pieces stopped mid-air.
And then, they fell down and scattered on the floor as the girl lost control over them because of the huge wave of pain that suddenly crashed down onto her.
Doubling over in the chair, Jean covered her ears with her hands as if that could soothe the mental torture. She didn't dare to shout, neither with her voice, nor in her head. Soon, the incoherent mess of pain turned out to be composed of different emotions – betrayal, exposedness, worry, dissatisfaction, fear, longing, rage, loneliness, disbelief and a myriad of other feelings.
Before she could do anything to stop this, she was sucked in.
Memories or dreams? Jean didn't know, but they were all very clear, some of them longer than the others, some of them allowed her only a short glimpse. They were not in chronological order and not everything made sense and she felt nauseous jumping between the pictures and she shouldn't intrude, but she couldn't get out, she just couldn't get the hell out…
Jean saw Professor Xavier in the arms of a man. Somehow, she immediately knew that was Erik. A beach, sand, blazing sun. Who were those people? Why was that blue-skinned girl crying? What was that searing pain in the lower part of her back?
Hospital. Whiteness everywhere. He was staring at the ceiling. Wordless despair.
The smell of the Christmas tree mixed with cinnamon and snow was a bit overwhelming, but young Charles was extremely happy for the new books he had received. A blonde girl that seemed to be the same age as him jumped onto him. Her laugh was joyful.
A confrontation. Erik again, he looked different from the last time she had seen him, except for the helmet. His cape was vaguely familiar to Jean. They were shouting at each other. An unlikely sight – Professor Xavier's hands around Erik's neck.
Kissing. Soft embrace. Confessions.
A young man covered with blue fur was pushing a brand new wheelchair towards him. He was enthusiastically describing its qualities, though Jean didn't understand half of it, and the professor didn't seem to care.
"You should be Professor X… and you should be Magneto!" Jean frowned. Magneto?
Reaching for a book on the top of the shelf. He was about to grab it when he slipped and fell onto the ground. He hit his elbows and knees, although he couldn't feel the latter. He was still not used to his new condition. Two or three minutes later, a blonde boy came into the room and helped him back into the chair. A smile of gratitude and slight surprise. He didn't even reach out to him.
Professor Xavier and Cerebro. He had to continue searching. While he removed the contraption from his head, he was crying.
Bottles, the thick smell of the alcohol around him. I miss you.
Again, the beach, and Erik disappeared with the blue-skinned girl. Professor Xavier's heart shattered.
Faster. The scenes were changing faster and faster, Jean couldn't keep up. She had to do something, or she would go mad.
"Why…?" The professor's mental voice was shaking. "Why did it have to go this way? It was so perfect, wasn't it…? But I ruined it. I ruined everything… I love you, Erik… Raven… please, my dear sister, I need you… Come back to me… please, come back… I promise I'll change… don't leave me! I ruined our lives… nobody needs me, I should just-"
The girl reached out for the man's soul. She gently trapped it in her hands. It felt like she was holding a fidgeting bird that tried to break free, but it was wounded, so Jean had to protect it until she was sure it didn't die immediately as soon as she released it. She didn't do anything, just wrapped her own mind around his.
Warmth – her grandmother used to say that a bit of warmth could cure everything. She put all her feelings into the warmth she was passing onto him. She wanted him to know how grateful she was for having a mentor like him, how glad she was to be under the wings of such a wonderful man. Professor Xavier had given her home and new friends.
He was her hope for a better life. She and so many others would be lost without him.
"We need you, professor!"
Jean held onto him for long minutes until she felt him pull away and thus the connection between their minds was cut off. She opened her eyes.
Professor Xavier went back to sleep – either it was her who accidentally knocked him out or it was himself, she was very relieved. The bed was a mess though, the sheets crumpled, the pillows had fallen down. Jean stood – she swayed a bit –, bent to pick up the blanket and carefully covered him to his chest.
Then, she left the room.
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Jean had always thought that those people who loved each other could never be separated. She thought love indicated our soulmates, and it had never occurred to her that once we had found this special person, there was still no guarantee that we'd be together forever. These views weren't strange for a romantic fifteen-year-old girl with no actual experience – though she could feel that her relationship with Scott was something deeper than simple friendship, she wasn't sure yet. The butterflies that came to life in the pit of her stomach every time she saw the boy whispered something she couldn't quite catch.
That was why she could barely comprehend what she had seen that night.
This "Erik" was Professor Xavier's soulmate. At first, she found it a bit peculiar that he was in love with another man – she had always pictured him next to a beautiful woman –, but it was less peculiar than the fact that Erik had actually wounded the professor, emotionally and physically, then he had just left him and now, he was Magneto, one of the most dangerous mutants in the entire world – and their greatest enemy.
How could he do such a horrible thing?
Jean sighed. At least she hoped that she could help him a little. She was already waiting for the day when she could finally meet Magneto in person. She was going to make him pay for everything.
"What are you thinking about?" Scott asked and she shrugged.
"Nothing special." She didn't tell him anything about what she'd seen, of course. They remained silent for a while, and then it was her who spoke. "Promise you'll never leave me?"
Scott smiled. "And where did that come from?"
The boy hugged the girl to him and bowing his head, he placed a sweet kiss on the corner of her mouth. "You can count on me," he whispered, and Jean had never felt happier.
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She waited impatiently until everybody left the room after the Genetics lesson – then she practically jumped to Professor Xavier's desk. "Professor, I'm-… well, how are you feeling?" she asked quietly.
The man looked up from his notes and smiled brilliantly at Jean. "Thanks to you, I feel much better."
The girl let out a sigh of relief. "I was very worried, professor."
"I know. And I'm very sorry for letting you see all that. It must have been hard for you to comprehend." His blue eyes bore into Jean's brown ones as if trying to find out something. "I completely trust you, Jean, but if you'd like, I can remove the memory. Though I don't really like tampering with memories."
It was her turn to smile. "No, it's okay. Some burdens must be shared, right?"
Professor Xavier chuckled. "Indeed."
The silence between them was a comfortable one, and Jean wanted to stay a bit longer, but the first people from the next class were starting to drift into the room.
"Well then, goodbye, professor," she grinned and spun around, but he stopped her by the door.
She froze and turned back in slow-motion. "Yeah? Oh, I'm sorry… may I be excused?"
"Yes, you may."
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Jean disappeared, but her presence stayed in the corner of his consciousness. It was like a guardian angel sitting on his shoulder and Charles didn't know what he had done to deserve such a gift. Two years of suffering, denial and loneliness, and he finally found his peace in the form of a red-haired girl who wrapped him into her warmth and showed her the light.
Those who used to need him, didn't need him anymore – but there were others who needed him now, and probably that was the purpose of his life.
Although the wound had been deeper than he had initially thought, it finally healed.
And after that night, no more nightmares came for long, long years.
Thank you for reading. :)