Title: Charlotte Francine Xavier
Rating: R/NC-17 overall, probably M/15+ for this chapter.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, and am making no profit from their use, more's the pity.
Warnings: Genderbend, violence, disturbing images, references to the Holocaust, references to past non-con and child abuse in this chapter. I delve into the darker implications of telepathy here, so please heed the rating – both of the fic overall and of the individual chapters.
Summary: Written for a kinkmeme prompt that wanted to see the events of the movie if Charles had been a woman. This story will also wander into psychic-bond trope territory, as well as being a shameless fix-it fic. Just so everything’s clear up front...
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
In the moment a twelve year old girl saw her in her natural form and smiled rather than screaming or running away, Raven had known her life was going to change.
Though she could have never anticipated exactly how much. Even at twelve, Charlotte was strong enough and deft enough with her telepathy to make her mother believe she'd adopted a child, to slip Raven into the household without even a ripple. In some ways, it had been almost frightening, to have people she'd never met treat her as though they'd known her for years.
Raven remembers thinking that for a well-fed, richly-clothed girl who couldn't have wanted for anything, Charlotte had been surprisingly desperate for her to stay. Of course, it was only later that she understood just how starved for affection Charlotte was, in that enormous mansion where she had everything a child could want and so little of what a child actually needed.
For the first week, Raven had been unable to go anywhere without Charlotte tagging along behind, her mind whispering through Raven's own, always asking if she was all right, if she needed anything, and did she like the house? It might have been irritating, if Raven hadn't been just as desperate for friendly company.
She quickly realised that Charlotte was very protective, almost smotheringly so (though she's gotten better since she went to university), but two years had passed before Raven first had an inkling as to why.
She was eleven when she saw the scars on Charlotte's back, criss-crossing like carelessly threaded shoelaces, eleven when Charlotte first told Raven about her stepfather and stepbrother.
At the time, Raven had thought that Charlotte really was just like a fairy tale princess – she had a mansion, a special power, and even an evil step-parent. Now, with an adult's eyes, Raven can look back and see how those years of being terrorised by Kurt Marko and his son, Cain, shaped the woman Charlotte would become. It's why Charlotte is so reluctant to turn to violence, preferring tactics she dubs 'aggressive diplomacy', it's why she controls herself so rigidly, why she worries every time Raven has one of her little slip-ups.
It's also why she's so desperate to protect Raven, even though Raven's long-past needing that protection. Even now, Raven knows there are secrets Charlotte will never share with her, for fear that they'll hurt her somehow. If she hadn't seen the scars in the changing room that summer, Raven has no doubt Charlotte would never have breathed a word about her mother's second marriage.
Perhaps that's where it started – no one had ever tried so hard to protect her before, to the extent of refusing to bring up subjects they feared would hurt her.
Try as she might, Raven's never really seen Charlotte as a sister. Perhaps it's because the mansion was so foreign to anything she'd ever known before – it took years for her to become truly comfortable in it – and Mrs. Xavier...was always Mrs. Xavier, never her parent.
To tell the truth, she often felt sorry for Charlotte, having to call that bitch 'Mother'.
So, she's never seen herself as related to Charlotte, but it was when Raven was fourteen that she first noticed some distinctly un-sisterly feelings towards her adoptive sibling.
It was then that she asked Charlotte to stop reading her mind. Raven can bear a lot of things – she's had to – but she can't bear the thought of Charlotte's horrified rejection. It's not her revulsion or disgust Raven fears – she's known she had nothing to fear on that subject ever since Charlotte slammed that psychology textbook shut and snapped, “Completely ridiculous – homosexuality is not a mental illness, and I'm in a position to know!” – but Charlotte's pity. Because it would be pity – it could never be anything else.
Besides, there are plenty more fish in the sea. Hank, for one. And Raven can admit Erik's quite handsome, if you like the intense, permanently brooding type.
Which it appears Charlotte does, if the sidelong glances and almost dreamy smiles she gives Erik are any indication. Subtle, Charlotte is not.
Of course, Erik's not much better. He lights up every time Charlotte walks in the room, and Raven knows for a fact that there are several trained government operatives who won't talk to Erik unless Charlotte's there to put him in a good mood. Raven once transformed into Charlotte and walked up to Erik to see if he could tell the difference, and she'd been taken aback at the way his usually-severe expression had softened, turning gentle at the edges. As though he was smiling with his eyes, even if his mouth didn't move.
It hadn't lasted long – Raven couldn't duplicate Charlotte's powers, and in the absence of telepathy Erik had broken her cover within moments – but it was long enough for Raven to see exactly what her sister meant to this man. She'd have been sitting Erik down for a conversation about his intentions, but it feels kind of redundant, as well as about a week too late.
Honestly, Raven suspects they'd fallen for each other by the time they reached the CIA. Which is kind of cool, to connect to someone so deeply so fast (and she suspects Charlotte's telepathy is playing a role in this), but also kind of spooky.
It might be cute, if they were actually doing anything about it. As it is, it's all longing looks and deep personal conversations over chess. Raven's half-tempted to just barge in on one of their chess games and tell them to have sex already, but she's not entirely sure she really wants them to hook up.
Because Erik may be completely smitten with her sister, but Raven's not blind to what the man is. He's a killer and he has already tried to leave them once (Charlotte does tell her some things), he’s a basket of emotionally repressed issues just waiting to explode, and the jury's still out on whether he's good for her sister or not.
He might be able to kill Nazis and manipulate metal and could probably kick her ass if he wanted to, but if Erik hurts Charlotte, he'll answer to Raven.
“What's it like?” Erik asks. “This future you envision?”
He and Charlotte are in the car again, driving to a bar (because it is a bar, Erik calls them bars) where Cerebro picked up another lonely mutant. This is the fifth time they've done this, and Erik can't help but wonder what point Charlotte sees in this. She's been very vocal about her dreams of mutant/human cooperation, but how is she planning to get there?
After all, it's been over fifty years since women were granted the right to vote, yet as far as public acceptance goes...well, he's seen the way far too many people treat Charlotte.
“What do you mean?” Charlotte wonders, looking away from the empty road for a moment to glance at him.
Erik's stare is flat and bitter, and it's almost a relief that Charlotte can pick up on his thoughts, that he won't have to articulate what's running through his mind – that even if they can change the laws, they won't erase people's prejudices.
I'm not saying it'll be easy, Charlotte's mind breathes into his. Acceptance doesn't happen in a day, or even a generation. But the road will be much smoother once we're legally recognised, and working for the CIA is a good step towards that.
Make the recognition positive, rather than negative, Erik realises.
“You're assuming that positive recognition will make a difference in the long run,” Erik speaks up, unsure if the troubled chaos of his mind is properly articulating his feelings on this matter. “You, of all people, should know better than that.”
Charlotte doesn't speak aloud, and Erik wonders if it's more natural for her to communicate telepathically than verbally.
Just because I've seen evil, my friend, doesn't mean I'm blind to all the good in the world. Yes, I know when people give into temptation, when they lie, when they're selfish and greedy and petty and cruel...but I also see people resist temptation, fight above their baser natures to be selfless and kind and giving.
Erik can admit he's dubious about that – he's seen a lot of the world, and the parts he saw were nowhere near selfless or kind.
And yet, almost against his will, he remembers his father giving him the last of their food even though both he and his mother had gone hungry for two days straight. He remembers the ones who stumbled in the lines to the gas chambers, whose friends and family rushed to pull them from the mud before the guards could strike them, often taking the blows on their own body.
But then that was always people they knew – always a relative, or close friend. Someone they had reason to be kind to, to watch out for. People aren't kind or gentle to others simply for the sake of it.
At least, people who aren't Charlotte Xavier.
Most people don't want to hurt others, Charlotte muses. In fact, we'll go out of our way not to. At some level, we're aware that we're not alone in this.
Life, the world, take your pick. Humans are primarily social animals, and I've seen nothing to indicate mutants are any different – we have to work together or we'll destroy ourselves.
Destroy them, you mean, Erik thinks, feeling a shiver of satisfaction at the thought. He's not a helpless child any more – he has strength, and power, and if it happens again, he can protect himself. He can protect Charlotte, and Raven, and every mutant out there.
No, I mean ourselves, Charlotte repeats. You think if it comes to war, it'll be all humans on one side, all mutants on the other?
“Why wouldn't it be?” Erik demands aloud, the words somehow feeling weightier if he speaks them rather than merely thinking them.
Charlotte lips quirk, but it can't be called a smile – it's too sad for that.
“We're born to humans, Erik,” she says quietly, and it feels strange to hear her with his ears instead of inside his head. “Mutants are such a small fraction of the world's population...our families are human, our friends are human, and I guarantee you that if we try to raise ourselves above humans, most of us will fight it. If someone proposed a regime that would make Moira a second-class citizen, then I'd fight it, no matter what they were offering me.”
“Not all those families are happy,” Erik protests, but it's half-hearted.
After all, his mother was human. As was his father, and his uncle and aunt and his cousins...
No family is perfect, Charlotte admits, and Erik wonders if he's imagining the weariness and sorrow in that thought. I can't deny that. Some of them become frightened of their children, but most...there's a reason I could only pick a few to go with us. Because most are happy with families who love and accept them.
Erik has no reply to make to that.
And I'm not entirely ignorant, Charlotte continues, her mental tone seeming lighter somehow. I know how people treat those they don't understand. If we're to make any headway, we need to be...aggressively peaceful.
Basically, we're nice and diplomatic, but if we're pushed...we push back hard.
There's a hint of steel to that thought, determination and conviction and a whisper of anger, the weight of a tested strategy rather than a hypothesis.
That's how you survived, he realises.
Charlotte's eyes are shadowed, seemingly more black than blue. I know a thing or two about fighting for acceptance, my friend.
There's melancholy and anger running beneath her words, and Erik knows Charlotte intends him to feel it, that she's deliberately giving him an insight into her very emotions. The intimacy that comes with this kind of communication is deep, and all the more unsettling for the fact that with Charlotte, Erik...doesn't mind it. There's no instinctive need to retreat, to keep a healthy distance – if anything, Erik's inclination is the opposite.
He wants to get closer to Charlotte Xavier, this woman who openly flies in the face of what society expects, who smiles in the face of jeers and insults, who refuses to do unto others as they have done unto her.
Charlotte is feeling dubious as soon as they walk into the bar. Logan is lonely, yes, and yearning for something more, but she doesn't think he'll find it with them. At least, not yet.
She and Erik try anyway, but they've barely introduced themselves before Logan cuts them off.
“Go fuck yourselves,” he says, without preamble. Then he turns and gives Charlotte a considering glance. “Unless you want to fuck me, then you can stay. Assuming you actually are a woman, that is.”
Erik's eyes narrow dangerously, and while Charlotte would usually be irritated and repulsed, she's not now. She can sense that Logan's crudeness is deliberate – he wants to be left alone with his pain, and is taking the most expedient route possible to that solitude.
So she decides to leave him to it.
It's all right, she sends to Erik, along with a compressed version of her realisations.
Erik's still not happy, but he leaves the bar without incident.
Charlotte is pensive as they walk back to the car, reflecting grimly on how easily that could have been her. Drinking to forget the pain, drugging so she wouldn't have to think, fucking so she wouldn't have to connect with anyone.
If Raven hadn't come along, Charlotte's not really sure what would have become of her.
At that thought, she can't help but smile, because Charlotte knows she's been extraordinarily lucky. True, it had been difficult in the beginning – to have telepathy manifest in a household so devoid of love was a trial – but she's known a sister who is fiercely devoted to her, and she's managed to pursue her doctorate in spite of the many obstacles in her way.
And she's known Erik. No matter what may become of them, Charlotte knows she'll never regret meeting this man.
Her smile grows wider, and she tilts her face to the sun, basking in its warmth.
Beautiful... whispers through Erik's mind.
Charlotte starts from her reverie, glancing at her companion. “What?”
Erik blinks, echoing her question. “What?”
“You thought 'beautiful',” Charlotte says, glancing around. “What's beautiful?”
There's a wave of embarrassment/defiance/determination from Erik, as though he's sure she won't appreciate whatever he's seen, but is determined not to be ashamed of it. Curious, Charlotte dips just a tiny bit deeper, trying to see what he found beautiful through his eyes...
It's her; her face tilted to the sky, the breeze lifting individual strands of her hair and curling them around her neck and face, her eyes distant and her smile soft and contemplative.
The picture is hazy – Erik's trying to drown it in a stream of mundane information – but Charlotte can feel his affection and attachment to her deep in her own chest, a throbbing as close as her heartbeat.
Erik thinks she's beautiful, in a way that goes far beyond the physical.
Charlotte's not sure if it's a side-effect of her powers, but they step towards each other in almost perfect unison. Her hand comes up automatically, wanting to touch him physically as she's touching him mentally, and she's not sure what's written on her face but Erik's is twisted like a man walking a knife-edge between agony and ecstasy.
His thoughts are a hurricane of contradictions; longing/denial/want this so much/want her so much/can't do this/can't want this/can't deal with this.
The sudden, visceral wave of rejection and fear that follows pulls Charlotte up short, her hand half-extended towards Erik's face, her mind stinging at the slap of no, no, no/can't/won't/NO!
“I can't,” Erik says aloud, with something like desperation in his voice.
He steps back, his fingers curled into fists at his side. He actually looks...shaken. But his mind is unanimous in rejection and refusal of Charlotte's unconscious offer.
So she deliberately breaks their mental connection, withdrawing in an effort to give Erik some privacy, and tries not to feel hurt when he turns away and walks to the car as quickly as he can.
But she's only lying to herself. Of course she's hurt, but really, what does she expect? If she couldn't make even her weak-willed, socially-compliant parents love her, what chance does she have with Erik?
Charlotte's used to disappointment, but it's been a long time since it hit this hard. So she takes a moment to collect herself before she makes her way back to the car.
Erik is clearly uncomfortable – his hand is in his pocket, tracing the shape of the coin he always carries with him – and Charlotte finds herself automatically searching for a way to soothe him.
“It's alright,” she eventually settles for, deciding to keep their conversation verbal rather than mental. “It doesn't matter.”
It does matter, it matters a great deal, but he doesn't have to know. Charlotte refuses to find out why he rejected her, instead stretching out her mind to the mental hum of the city around her, the equivalent of sticking her fingers in her ears and loudly singing nonsensical syllables.
Because there's some knowledge – and some pain – that Charlotte can live without.
Erik feels like a coward, and it's not a feeling he relishes. He's sworn that he'd never be in this situation again, never be denied or afraid of taking what he wanted the way he was so many years ago, but...
But he can't do this. He can't risk deepening his attachment to Charlotte – it's already consumed far too much of him. At times he can almost feel how dangerously close he is to falling in love with her, the same way you feel the heat from a fire long before the flames actually burn you.
Erik loved once, or at least he thinks he did. Her name was Magda, and her parents died in the gas chambers. She lived, for a while at least – Schmidt and the soldiers had uses for a pretty young girl, none of them particularly palatable.
They were young, they were suffering, and they were alone; their bond was almost inevitable. Sometimes, Erik wonders if Schmidt didn't plan it that way.
Because as soon as Schmidt realised his little lab rat cared for someone, Magda become one more tool to inflict pain and incite rage.
“You can stop it, Erik,” he whispers as the soldier drag Magda out, slapping her sharply even though she hasn't had the strength to fight them since the first week.
“It doesn't take much,” Schmidt continues, voice low and coaxing, dripping faux-kindness. “Just a little tug, and their guns turn on them. Just a little tap, and their skulls are crushed inside their helmets. You can do it, Erik – you failed to save your mother, but you can save her.”
He tries, he always tries, reaching out for the metal decorating the soldier's bodies and willing it to turn on them, but he can't quite get a hold on it. It's slipping away from him as they leave the room, yanking Magda along like a recalcitrant dog, but no, no, he needs to do this, he needs to save her-
The door slams shut, and Schmidt sighs. “Such a pity. Maybe next time, Erik?”
And then Erik is left alone, with an aching head and tears on his cheeks as he curls into the corner and tries not to think about what the soldiers are already doing to Magda, tries not to think about anything at all.
He knew Magda for perhaps seven weeks before she died. Schmidt didn't think Erik was progressing fast enough, so went back to his tried-and-true methods – he drew a gun on Magda and told him to stop the bullet. Erik tried, of course he did, but...
But in the end, he was too young and inexperienced, and the bullet moved too quickly.
Erik doesn't allow himself to think of Magda often.
So, no, he can't fall in love with Charlotte Xavier, even though telling himself that feels rather like trying to bail out a sinking ship with his hands. He's just about managing it, but something tells him there's a storm on the horizon, and he's fighting a losing battle.
Besides, it's not as though his motives are purely selfish. Erik doesn't truly expect to survive killing Schmidt, and he doesn't want Charlotte to feel what he felt that day, standing over Magda's body.
AN: In the comics, Magda was Erik's wife for a time. Since there's no mention of her in the movie, I decided to write my own version of what happened to her in this universe.
And, as per usual, this chapter was tweaked and betaed by the wonderful ginbitch