Characters: Charles, Hank
Spoilers: Some minor ones For Days of Future Past
Synopsis: An answer to this request in the Kinkmeme where young Charles finds out he is bald in the future.
Disclaimer: I don't own the X-Men
"Hank, I need you to do something for me."
Hank looked up from the his microscope in surprise as the unexpected voice broke his concentration to see Charles in the doorway to his lab.
"If you can, that is," he added.
Hank put down the pen he had been using to make notes, and gave the other man his full attention. "Anything, professor."
"Oh, for..." Charles waved a hand in irritation. "Right, how about we make that two things? Thing number one, stop calling me professor." He pushed the lever on the arm of his wheelchair and moved forward into the room. "Really, Hank, I thought you'd dropped that years ago. It's very annoying."
Hank frowned, feeling suitably chastised. It was true, he had stopped using that particular word to describe Xavier, and it had been for a reason. The man that had earned that title simply hadn't been around. The one that had replaced him had not been deserving of it. Now, at least he hoped, things were changing.
"Okay then, how about this," the pr... Charles added in such a way that Hank wondered whether he had read his thoughts or simply picked up on the expression on his face. "If and when the school re-opens and we actually have students here again, when I'm teaching again, then you can call me professor. Deal?"
Hank nodded in agreement. That seemed fair.
"But only in front of the students, in private I'm Charles. We're friends, Hank. Unless you want me to start calling you Doctor McCoy?"
Hank couldn't help himself breaking into a wide grin. He hadn't realised quite how much he had missed this Charles until he had come back. "So, Charles, what can I do for you?"
They had been back at the mansion for three days following the incident at the White House, and most of the time had been spent recuperating, Charles especially. With everything happening so quickly, he had barely had time to readjust to having his telepathy back, let alone the sacrificing the use of his legs to regain it. That wasn't even mentioning the shock of having a stadium dropped on top of him. It had been a rough couple of days for Charles, and Hank had been expecting this moment for a while now.
The serum Charles used wasn't identical to his own, they were derived from the same source, but designed with different purposes in mind; Hank's to subdue his mutation and return his appearance to something resembling normal, and Charles' to correct the problems with his spine. In fact that benefit was actually a side effect. Charles' serum was as close to a cure for mutation as the world had ever come. It was that fact that prevented Hank from offering it to the world, to help other people with spinal injuries. It entirely suppressed the mutant gene, it just also happened to heal the injury that would ordinarily leave Charles paralysed. The potential for misuse was terrifying.
"I want you to try to work on a medication that..." Charles trailed off mid sentence, staring at Hank pleadingly, as though willing him to complete the end of the request for himself.
Hank took a deep breath. "Charles, I've tried, you know I tried. Even after you told me you didn't want your powers back I kept trying. There is nothing I can create that can heal your injury but leave your powers intact." He looked away. "I'm sorry."
Charles looked at him for a few moments, before his lips twisted into a bitter smile. "I know that, Hank. It's okay. Really, it is." He glanced down at his legs and then back up to his friend. "I mean, it will be. Thank you for trying."
Hank frowned, confused. If that wasn't what Charles wanted the ask him, then...
"Hank, while our friend Logan was with us, I caught a glimpse into my own future. I met myself, fifty years from now, an old man. Can you believe it, a war raging, humanity out to destroy us and I of all people somehow manage to survive?" He shrugged. "But the thing is, I..." He paused again, clearly embarrassed by something. His voice dropped to almost a whisper, as though trying to keep a secret from someone hidden somewhere in the room. "Hank, I'm bald."
As he said the word, Hank watched him comb the fingers of one hand through his untidy locks. Hank watched, not sure how to react, only half sure that this conversation was actually happening.
"Not just a little bit either," Charles added. "I'm not talking about a reseeding hairline here. He... I... Am completely bald."
Hank stared open mouthed at the other man. Of all the things that might bother him about the world Logan had come from, that had been the last thing he had been expecting to hear.
"Charles, I'm dead in Logan's future."
Charles frowned, thinking. Time stretched into an awkward silence. He took a deep breath. "I didn't know that."
"There never seems to be a good time to mention something like that." Hank shrugged.
"But, he told you that? Seriously? What the hell is wrong with the man?"
Hank swivelled his lab stool ardour and placed his feet on the ground. "In his defence, I asked him. And who knows, now we changed things, maybe it's different. And if not, well, travel far enough into the future and sooner or later everyone dies. At least I got a chance to change it."
Charles moved his chair further forward on order to enable him to clasp Hank on the shoulder. The manoeuvre didn't work in quite the way he had envisioned, on the lab stool where he sat, Hank was as tall as when he was standing, and Charles couldn't quite reach. He settled for his upper arm, patted him twice then clenched tightly. "We did change it, Hank, I'm sure of that."
Hank nodded, not feeling particularly convinced.
Charles backed off slightly. "My problem, though, will presumably still be there."
"My hair." Charles nodded. He could sense Hank's irritation, and he knew that it was silly and vain, but damn it he had given up enough already. He had always had nice hair. At university, it had been the first thing all the girls had noticed, and he knew that for a fact because he had seen it in their minds.
Hank grew thoughtful for a moment, then, "Are you sure your future self didn't agree to shave his head to make it easier to use Cerebro? I've told you before it might increase your range, maybe one day you finally listen."
"Hank, one thing I can tell you with absolute certainty is that I would never agree to that request. Besides, he was in the middle of a war, do you think he took the time to keep his head shaved and polished every day?"
"Stress?" Hank suggested, "Maybe your experiences in the war cause you to develop alopecia."
Charles looked at him. "You're joking."
"Well, yes, to a certain extent, but what I'm saying is that nothing we know about the future that Logan came from is set, anything could be different now. Everything could be different. There is no way to know if the world is even there anymore. It's an extremely remote possibility, but coming back in time and changing things could set any series of events in motion." He pushed his glasses a little further up his nose. Charles was smiling at him. He frowned. "What?"
"I've missed conversations like this."
"However, theorising about the end of the world isn't doing much to help. Really, Hank, don't worry about my hair because I might not exist any more? That doesn't make me feel much better if I'm honest."
Hank took a deep breath and sighed. "You know, people have been trying to cure baldness for centuries. True, most cures involved putting disgusting things on your head. You should count yourself lucky, at least you won't be going bald in Ancient Greece..."
"I'm not going to be going bald at all, Hank."
He nodded. "I'll do what I can."
Charles smiled, relieved, "That's all I ask." He turned to leave. "And Hank? Make it your top priority, okay?"
Hank suppressed the urge to roll his eyes, before remembering that things like that were less easy to conceal now that Charles was off the serum. "Top priority," he confirmed.
If all else failed, maybe he could make him a toupée.