Characters: Charles Xavier, mostly
Spoilers: For First Class
Synopsis: Five times that Charles Xavier misused his power, and one time that he didn't.
Disclaimer: I don't own the X-Men
“Mother,” Charles said.
His mother smiled distractedly at him as she glanced up from her reading. He stood still, in the doorway to the sitting room, waiting. Hoping that the thoughts in her mind would eventually quiet and she would be able to give him her full attention. Behind him, he could hear the impatient feet-shuffling of Raven, as she waited, not understanding his hesitation.
His mother frowned and glanced back down at her newspaper, picked up the tiny china teacup and took a sip.
From behind him, Raven gave him a gentle shove, and he stumbled forward into the room. His mother looked up again. “Charles, no playing in the house,” she said.
Charles sighed, and glared back at the girl behind him. She had been disguised just a minute earlier, but her impatience had taken its toll on her control, and she had reverted to her natural form. She shrugged unapologetically.
“Mother,” said Charles again.
For a third time, she looked up at him, this time giving him a little more of her attention, though under the surface he could still tense the tide of other thought. Adult things, most of them too complicated or worrisome for him to acknowledge. All adults were like that. “Yes, sweetheart?” she said, and gave him a genuine smile. She placed the teacup on it's matching saucer and closed the newspaper.
Charles took a deep breath. He had been practicing this for months, but only ever small things. This suggestion was somewhat larger than he had ever attempted before. He cleared his throat, and carefully forced his mind into hers, making her more suggestible, subtly changing to her memories so that they would support the new reality he was creating. He held out a hand to Raven, who took it as she stepped inside.
“This is Raven,” Charles told his mother. “She's my little sister. Your daughter.”
The bartender eyed him suspiciously. Charles' smile wavered slightly. Here he was, back in England for the first time since he was a small boy, his first week at Oxford, tying so hard to impress his classmates, as well as the pretty girl sitting right next to him, and it was all about to go wrong.
“ID?” The man said.
Charles sighed. His wallet contained five pounds, a few dollars that he had yet to move out, and a library card enabling him to borrow books from a library thousands of miles away. He didn't even have anything to identify him as a student at the university yet. He was beginning to suspect that bringing his classmates on an impromptu tour of the old town on a hunt for a more traditional pub than the usual student haunts had been a mistake.
Behind him, his friends were growing rowdy as they became thirsty, and Charles' head spun slightly as the drinks they had already procured in other establishments began to do their job.
“I assure you, I am eighteen,” he said. “I'm a student at Oxford university, this is my first week.”
The bartender smiled sympathetically, “Look, kid. You're probably telling the truth, but if you're lying and someone finds out, I could lose my license. Why don't you try one of the places nearer to the campus?”
Charles glanced sideways at the girl on the bar stool next to him. She and her friend were watching him surreptitiously out of the corners of their eyes. He could feel their amusement. He could hear the thoughts of his potential new friends behind him, fast losing any respect they might have had for him, and he felt his cheeks begin to redden in embarrassment.
He leaned forward, resting his elbow on the bar and placing a hand to his temple. It helped him focus, though in time he hoped it wouldn't be necessary – it looked a bit odd, he had known that before Raven had pointed it out to him, laughing. He entered the man's mind and lay a few simple commands. He didn't say a word as he worked, simply frowned in apparent consternation.
When he was done, he looked up. The barkeeper was smiling, shaking his head in bemusement. “Sorry,” he said. “What was I thinking? You're obviously old enough.” He reached for the first pint glass, placed it under the tap and pulled. “Know what?” he said. “By was of apology, this round is on the house.”
Charles graciously accepted.
He noticed Hank McCoy from the other side of the building. He was radiating a kind of nervous excitement that covered the whole area, obvious to anyone able to sense it. As they walked through the gray, uniform corridors, doors and staircases, the feeling intensified. It was impossible to ignore. There was a mutant nearby, eagerly waiting to meet them. A mutant who, like so many others, had previously believed that he was the only one.
A smile played on his lips. Noticing, Erik glanced a question at him, but Charles dismissed it with a shake of his head. As they walked, he probed deeper, accessing the man's thoughts and memories. He was hiding. Keeping his secret closely guarded from those around him. He had no intention of revealing it even to them, so deep was his shame. But he was curious, eager to meet people like him. He wondered how they would look, and how they would act.
But once his curiosity was satisfied, the scientist would go back to his work, afraid to be seen by his colleagues for what he really was. He had been hiding for so long that it had become second nature to him.
They needed mutants. And here was one, working in the same building, working for the government. By definition, they were already on the same team. Charles glanced quickly at Erik out of the corner of his eye. He knew what his friend would tell him to do.
As the door to the lab opened, and the man turned to greet them, Charles squashed down the guilt at what he was about to do. He affected an amazed smile as he strode forward to greet the man. “How wonderful,” he proclaimed, making sure that he was heard by everyone around him. “Another mutant.”
The hospital room was so...white. Charles found himself longing for home. Any home. The long corridors and richly decorated rooms of Westchester, his student lodgings back in Oxford, even the small room that had been his while they had been officially employed by the CIA. He longed for anywhere, and any time, when he had been whole.
He drew in a deep breath and idly pressed his fingers into the numb, unfeeling flesh of his legs. They were fine, blood still flowed in their veins and arteries, muscles had not yet begun to atrophy from disuse, even the nerves of his lower limbs, the ones that should have been carrying the sensation of touch from the skin there to his brain, allowing him to feel, or to move, even they were working perfectly well. The problem was higher up, where Moira's deflected bullet had severed his spinal cord, essentially destroying his brain's only way of communicating with part of his body.
It was ironic. His brain could easily speak to other people, even over several miles or more, but to transfer the signal telling his toe to twitch, or his knee to bend - impossible.
He cherished moments of solitude like this one, in a way. The others meant well, but he couldn't help but slip into their minds and see that behind their bright, optimistic facades was a tide of shock at what had happened, of uncertainty for the future, and of pity. Oftentimes, he found himself comforting them. Soothing their worries with words he wasn't even sure that he believed.
Unfortunately, solitude led to melancholy, such as toyed with him now.
It was almost a relief when he heard footsteps in the corridor outside. He touched the mind of the approaching man, and found him to be a doctor, heading to check on him. Charles pulled back his hand from the top of his leg, and waited. As he did, he scanned the man's mind, discovering the purpose for his visit. Just a quick check up, but if he passed, he could go home in the morning.
Charles froze. It was what he wanted, of course, but at the same time this room had become something of a sanctuary to him. When he was discharged, it meant there was nothing more the hospital could do for him. It meant returning home like this, and preparing for the rest of his life.
The door creaked slightly as it opened. “I have good news for you,” the doctor said as he walked through. He was smiling. The man was young, around Charles' own age, and not lacking in enthusiasm for his job.
But no, he didn't have good news. Not really. The words Charles wanted to hear were the ones that he never would.
He reached out, barely thinking about what he was doing, and entered the doctor’s mind.
“Good news?” he asked.
The doctor's smile widened. “Yes,” he said. “You're going to make a full recovery.”
His happiness was genuine, and Charles sensed no deception from him, only the sincerity of someone who believes his words to be the truth.
“Oh,” Charles said, because the statement demanded some kind of a response. He had thought it would help, to hear those words. That it would make him feel better, if only for a few seconds. In fact, he felt so much worse.
He released the doctor's mind. He blinked in confusion, and glanced around the room. Then, he turned and left, walking quickly out of the room and down the corridor, away.
The Russian officer had been executed for treason. The man that he had forced to fire on the other Russian ship.
Charles heard about it just a few days after he returned home to the mansion in Westchester. It was just a stray thought picked up from Moira's mind. Death by firing squad, for a crime not his own.
He tried to put it out of his mind. By destroying that one ship, that one ship whose crew was already dead, the man had averted a third world war, saved millions of lives and affected the course of history for the better. If one man had had to die to achieve all that, wasn't the sacrifice worth it?
He sighed deeply, and maneuvered his chair to the window. Outside, Banshee was practicing flight. Charles envied him that ability.
Was the sacrifice worth it? One life for the lives of the entire human race.
Probably, he thought. But had the decision been his to make?
Erik turned up unannounced an irregular intervals. He always came alone, never once bringing Raven with him. Charles wondered why that was, whether she didn't want to see him, or whether Erik – or rather, Magneto – was not allowing her. He didn't ask, and Magneto's helmet stayed in place, preventing Charles from plucking the information from his mind.
It was the middle of winter, and the afternoon was already darkening into night. Charles sat in his study, going over the profiles of several mutants teens he was considering approaching, when he sensed something he had not sensed in many years.
He turned, glancing behind him to the door, to see Erik standing there, watching him. Erik, not Magneto. The helmet that blocked his telepathy was absent and his mind was open. Charles exercised self control, and held himself back from reading it. “Erik,” he said.
Erik took a step forward into the room, “So it's true,” he said. “You are losing your hair.”
Charles shrugged. News, even something so irrelevant as that, traveled fast, it seemed. “Only a little,” he insisted, “it would still be invisible to most people, if they didn't insist on standing, looking down on me.”
Erik took the hint, and sank into a nearby armchair.
“It's been a long time,” Charles told him.
“Not so long,” he replied. “Less than a year, I think.”
Charles nodded. “True, since I was last visited by Magneto. But you, Erik, I don't believe I've seen you since that day on the beach. To what do I owe the honor?”
“We're not enemies,” Erik told him. “I decided that I don't always need to hide behind a shield when we speak.”
Charles nodded, but began to probe carefully, Erik underestimated his abilities. He had come laden with false information, planted there by another telepath, meant to convince him of things that were not true. As they spoke, keeping things friendly, discussing friends and old times, he sorted through the implanted lies carefully, hoping that they would reveal some kind of truth.
Finally, Erik rose to leave.
“Don't leave it so long between visits next time,” Charles told him. Erik nodded and began to walk away.
As he watched him go, Charles fought his own instincts. Erik was vulnerable, he might never get another chance like this. He could end their rivalry, they could truly be friends again.
He reached out one final time and brushed the once so familiar mind with his own, remembering it, knowing that he may never sense it again, and then he did nothing, and let him go free.