last01standing: ([SPN] Brothers Winchester)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Standing Tall While Sitting Down
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I don't know nearly enough X-Men canon to own this.
Summary: Charles was paralyzed during his adolescence. Somehow everything works out better.
Warning: People being dicks to a paralyzed character. Erik is one of them.
Words: 6,200
Author's note: De-anoning for a fill on [livejournal.com profile] 1stclass_kink which I wasn't actually planning to do for this fic, but that meme's on fire or something. I decided a back-up seemed to be a good idea. Original prompt/fill can be found here



Standing Tall While Sitting Down


His first thought after the Accident is for Raven. Even before opening his eyes, he's cast his mind out, searching for the answer, hoping against hope that the suggestion he'd left in his mother's mind, (you have a daughter. her name is raven. she's always been here.) has held fast even while he was unconscious.

The gentle beeping in his room gains in speed when he opens his eyes and takes sight of a very clean, very private hospital room. A saline drip is attached to his arm and he scales his panic back behind the mental barriers before reaching out again for Raven.

It only takes a moment for him to find her. raven, raven! are you all right? tell me you're all right. that you haven't left yet.

The reply is nearly immediate, am i all right? Even her thoughts have a tinge of hysteria. charles, you were. i couldn't.

calm your mind,
he tells her. are you well?

i'm fine. i was just worried about you. so much blood.

It's then he remembers. Raven's slip-up. The flicker of blue skin where there should have been normal fresh. A man with a gun. The single thought, protect raven and then a crack.

we both survived, Charles thinks firmly. that's what's important.

Sorrow crashes off Raven in waves and then the doctors come in. Charles learns that he's been unconscious for the better part of the week. He's had three different surgeries and his back is a mess of freshly stitched flesh. The only reason he feels no pain is the morphine in the IV drip. There is talk about another surgery, about physical therapy and hope. But Charles could have read the truth in their faces even if he hadn't seen it in their minds.

He is fourteen years old and he will never walk again.

***


Life changes. The mansion is begrudgingly retrofitted to suit someone with his unique mobility challenge. The gravel path to the garden gets paved. Stairs become ramps. Elevators supplement stairs. Charles adjusts. He still has his books. He still has his mind.

And he still has Raven.

The wheelchair becomes an appendage, just as useful, and he tells himself stubbornly that it does not make it less of a man.

Still, everyone's first instinct is pity. The curse of a telepath is that he hears it. poor bastard. brilliant mind but i wouldn't trade places. The best ones get over it within a few minutes, won over by his smile, his words.

The worst ones think being disabled means he's also deaf, and stupid. There is a subsection of person who dismisses everything he has to say the moment he doesn't stand to shake their hand.

When he leaves for Oxford, Raven still at his side, he's learned to filter out the pity, learned the ways to make people see past the chair. He's been in the chair long enough that it's a part of him. He still has dreams about what it was like to run, but it feels as foreign as flying.

His advisor takes one look at him and says, "I assume you've elected to study genetics hoping for a cure."

"There's nothing wrong with me," Charles says. He punctuates his point with a satisfying snap of the chair's breaks. It makes his advisor jumps. "I'm quite interested in evolutionary genetics. Mutations in particular."

just short of mad, this one, his advisor thinks when he reads the first rough page of his thesis. brilliant. something new.

Charles goes to a bar that night and picks out the prettiest of the coeds. The crowd moves out of the way as he passes, unwilling to be the asshole who holds up the guy on wheels. He tells the girl, daria, that she has a groovy mutation and she looks at him like he's a wet dog. "And I suppose you've got a mutation as well?"

"Ah, no actually," Charles looks down to his useless legs. "What I've got is a bullet that severed my spinal cord at the T-11 vertebrae. But considering my sister is alive I count it as a win."

He's impressed her. He can tell without even taking a peak into her mind. Impressed her enough so that she lets him buy her a glass of white wine. By the time she's through with it, her mind whispers, he's got quite a good set of arms. Charles leans in the kiss her and thinks it might just be a good night after all.

***


"You're shameless," Raven tells him the next morning after the girl sneaks out. "You're completely horrible and I can't believe I let you get away with it."

"Get away with what?"

"Did you give her the genetics speech?"

"I may have opened with it."

"And it actually worked?"

When Charles is quiet, Raven's eyes narrow. "You played the pity card, didn't you? You let yourself be some kind of trophy fuck."

"Language, Raven."

"Come on, you know she's going to be going on to all her girlfriends about how she slept with the crippled guy."

"Keep in mind the fact that I did get a date. Score one point for disabled and proud."

They have a kinship now, him and Raven. It's a stronger one than it was when it started. Neither one of them look entirely normal and it's irony's greatest prank that only Raven can pass.

Charles transfers to the sofa and pulls out the copy of his thesis. Raven walks over and curls up beside him. "Do you ever wish things were different? That we were just like the rest of them?"

Shaking his head, Charles drops a chaste kiss into his sister's hair. She squeezes his knee, a gesture meant for comfort and he senses the intent of it even if he can't feel it. "No. I'm happy with things just the way they are."

He's happier two months later when he successfully defends his dissertation and ecstatic when CIA agent Moira MacTaggert comes looking for an expert on genetic mutation. She looks him up and down once, taking in his chair and dismissing it just as quickly. "I need your help," she says.

Charles would have agreed even without the kaleidoscope of mutants in her memory.

***


Two of the CIA agents dismiss him the instant they see he is not standing. He frowns and wonders if perhaps he should have projected an image of himself walking or perhaps allowed Raven to masquerade in his stead. But this is something precious, something important. He's a newly minted doctor, a mutant, and a paraplegic. He's damned if he apologizes for any of them.

The rest of the agents dismiss his ideas at various points during his presentation. He marks them all with a pang of something like sadness. At the end, Moira looks at him in despair thinking, maybe I should have brought someone who looked more impressive. But I brought the best. The best.

"I didn't think you would believe me," Charles says carefully. "Especially considering none of you would look me in the eyes when I entered. My physical appendages may not all function precisely as normal, but that was result of a gun, not mutation. My mutation is something rather more impressive and one of the spectacular things it allows me to do is read your mind."

There's a flurry of activity. Charles bares state secrets and tension fills the room until Raven stands up and changes and the tension fades into shock.

Then, for the first time in years, they're staring at him and his sister not in pity but fear. The chair is the last thing from any of their minds and if they weren't demanding he be locked up, Charles thinks it might just be the best moment of his life to date. When the man in the back of the room offers to take them to his facility, Charles knows things are finally starting to slot into place.

***


No one wants him on the boat when they go after Shaw. It's in everyone's faces and screaming out from their minds. So he nudges then. Nothing earth shattering, but enough to convince him that he is necessary in this venture. Raven watches it all out of the corner of her eyes, knowing that this level of accommodation isn't natural. She doesn't call him on it because meeting more mutants is what they both want.

It's the shock of his life when he reaches out to Shaw's boat to find another telepath on board. He knows it's going to get worse from here but he can't stop the flood of adrenaline that floods his veins. Extraordinary. "I don't think I'm going to be much help to you."

big fucking surprise, the man next to him thinks. Charles considers making him think he's a flamingo, but that would be wrong and he has far more pressing matters at the moment.

Like the man in the water throwing an anchor around Shaw's boat. Another mutant. Charles touches his mind with interest only to find that it has a single-minded purpose. He gets an exquisite flash of rage, power and anguish and he knows he can't let this man slip away.

Because as he attempts to yank a submarine from the water just using the power of his mind, Charles can see he's going to drown.

"Stop!" he screams at him. "You can't!" He doubles his scream with a mental twin, hoping to break through. But the man (erik lehnsherr, metal bending mutant, holocaust survivor--) He glances over his shoulder, seeking Raven's gaze and asking forgiveness.

for what? Raven replies, but he's already moving by the time she sees his plan.

What people don't realize about wheelchairs, especially in the hands of someone adept, is that they're fast. Fast enough for Charles to get to the edge of deck, snap on the breaks and pull himself up on the railings.

charles, no! Raven thinks desperately at them. Charles's held up for a fraction of a second, arms clutching against the railing, feet limply pressing against the ground and then he hauls himself over the railing and into the water.

The water's cold on impact and his dive isn't quite so smooth as it would have been with functioning legs to give him the proper thrust but it more than gets the job done and he crashes into Lehnsherr –no, Erik and wraps one arm around his chest.

let him go, he thinks desperately, trying to pull them to the surface. you've got to let him go or we'll both drown. erik. just calm your mind.

And there it is, Erik lets the sub go and Charles finds the strength to haul them both up, one arm looped under Erik's shoulder, the other one pulling for the surface.

Erik shoves him away the second they're not submerged. He's confused and angry, but his mind shines. "You were in my head," he accuses.

Charles hasn't felt this good in a long time. He barely remembers his retort. He's always felt more at home in the water, this great equalizer and Erik is looking at him like he's something incredible. "You're not alone," he finds himself saying. "I'm like you."

It's the first time in nearly a decade that a first meeting isn't marred by the wheelchair's presence. Erik's mind is splintered glass, the world distorting in all sorts of wonderful ways and Charles wants to see more of it.

But Erik isn't a man who entertains weakness. Though Charles will never apologize for what he is or how he came to be that way, there is a distinct possibility that Erik will leave.

As the boat gets closer, Raven's thoughts force their way into his head again, a frantic babble of charles, oh my god, i could murder you. are you okay? what the hell are you thinking? where are you?

He does his best to project back his safety to his sister, both anticipating and dreading the return to land. He's a little ashamed by how much he wants to stay in the water.

***


It starts to go downhill on the lifeboat. Without proper support for his back, Charles can't sit up in the rocking waves. He finds himself hunched over himself in order to keep from falling. Erik seems in a daze. There has been no talking since their exchange in the ocean and Charles has to fight to keep out of his head.

The distraction of Raven's voice eases the anxiety, even if it has degenerated to a steady stream of explicative. Back on the ship, Charles is given a towel and he's so out of sorts, he needs Raven to help him into his chair. Even through the darkness he can feel Erik's judgment. He pushes wet hair out of his eyes as Raven fusses at him. "You've got poor enough circulation as it is without jumping into black water." She smacks him squarely on the shoulder. "What were you thinking?"

"I was thinking I didn't want to lose a fellow mutant. Especially not one who seems like he could be on our side."

"Enemy of my enemy, Charles?" Erik says. "With friends like yourself, who needs enemies?"

The words are carelessly cruel and Raven rounds on the man, prepared to defend her brother until Charles reaches out a hand to stop her. "I assure you, I am far from helpless." He touches a finger to his temple and pulls up Moira's memories of the Hellfire club. "Shaw's has allies. Is there any reason why you shouldn't as well?"

A half dozen reasons present themselves in Erik's brain but he dismisses them all. "You have quite a lot of confidence and not much else from what I can see."

Charles's brain whites out and for a single wild second he considers showing Erik just how much he can do, but he reins it in as he always does. "I'm working with the CIA. If nothing else, you can be certain they have some information. You can't always be moving. This will do you some good."

There's a bit more curiosity to Erik's gaze now. "The CIA let you come out to sea with them?" He leans in close, exuding menace. "How exactly did you convince them of that?"

Charles doesn't reply but he hold's Erik's gaze, unflinching and Erik comes with them.

***


Things move fast after that. There are briefings, debriefings and takedowns. It's all Charles can do to keep up with the mess. Some of the CIA agents have the most disconcerting tendency to climb a flight of stairs when they'd rather not talk to him. But the world's changing and somehow, impossibly, Charles is in the middle of it.

The CIA base is fantastic. Hank McCoy is even more fantastic, from his clear genius to his marvelous feet, and Raven seems quite smitten. Erik makes it an entire day and a half before Charles finds him at the door. He has to pause at the top flight of stairs, the wheel chair ramp, freshly installed is not and an opportune place for giving chase. "Considering what I know about you, I'm surprised you made it this long."

"What do you know about me?"

Charles sets his hands against the rims of his wheel chair, lifts his chin. "Everything."

It doesn't matter though. Erik still leaves.

***


The recruitment trip after cerebro is just him and Raven, like it's always been. The two of them against the world. He can't feel Erik's mind anymore and tells himself that's for the best.

The trip is largely a success. Charles has the location of almost forty mutants on his list and he crosses off thirty because they're not even teenagers yet. The remaining ten are a mixed bag. Three of them tell are in a good situation, unwilling to leave their families. One tells them to go fuck themselves. Another politely declines but underneath, she's thinking, no way in hell do I leave with a cripple.

Easily the most awkward part of the trip is the two hours he spends in the strip club with his little sister. Raven enters wearing the face a tall man who looks vaguely like Erik. Charles protests her very involvement, but she'd told him in no uncertain terms that she was coming in and that she would not be wearing the same get-up that the other women in attendance did.

She gets entirely too excited when holding up a bill to their possible recruit. When Angel takes it and offers them a private dance. Charles does his best not to bleed embarrassment to the world at large.

"Tell you what," Raven says, innuendo fused in her voice. "We'll show you yours and then—"

Angel tries to cut them off but Raven smiles and in a flash of blue she's blonde, another and she's Charles minus the chair, the last and she's herself, blue-skinned and violently ginger.

Charles smiles and reaches out with his mind, less showy but no less impressive. I've told the rest of the club not to see what goes on here. This is perfectly safe.

"My turn," Angel says.

Then there's Darwin who would prefer excitement to driving cabs, Alex who just wants out of prison and Sean who's got nothing to stay for. Raven is elated by the time they all return to the facility, but Charles is a bit more tempered. "They were looking for an escape. This isn't supposed to be an escape."

"Why are you doing this then?" Raven says, voice completely even.

"Because it's the right thing to do."

Raven snorts and shakes her head. "Chares, you're doing this because you're sick of feeling alone."

***


Hank McCoy thinks of his mutation as a disability. He spends half of his time working on various CIA projects, the other half working on what he's dubbed 'a cure'. He approaches Charles in the halls, offering just a passing remark. "I think I've isolated the proper gene in Raven's DNA! I may be able to correct the source of our physical deformations. We should maintain a normal appearance in addition to maintaining our own abilities."

"Fascinating, Hank! And you made this breakthrough just this morning."

"I can start the synthesis of the serum as soon as I reevaluate the sample, but there was a reason I came to see you. I can work on correcting your deformity as well, I just need to know the exact nature of—"

"My deformity," Charles repeats.

"Yes, the reason you're in a wheelchair."

Hank's face is open and earnest and it's the worst kind of reaction.

"First of all, this is not a deformity." Charles has to fight to keep the anger from his voice. "It was something earned through action. It has no part in my mutation nor my genetic code. I still do dream of walking, Hank. Of running. I don't expect I'll ever stop. But there's nothing wrong with me. And there's nothing wrong with you."

"But—professor—I could."

"You have better things to focus your mind on than physical defects, Hank."

Hank sinks back miserably against the wall. "I don't know how you do it, Professor. How you deal with everyone looking at you like you're a freak."

"You're not a freak," Charles says and he thinks it might be the most important thing he'll ever say to this man. "You're something new and you're not alone. Don't let anyone tell you differently."

***


Charles is attempting to sleep in one of the facilities bunks when he feels it, a dying mind screaming through the night. The cot is nothing like the comfort of his bed, it's not nearly firm enough and it takes him two tries to hoist himself to a sitting position before he transfers smoothly to the chair. He throws up mental shields to stop the screams and instead reaches for Raven. She's there in a moment screaming something about a Devil and falling bodies and Charles reaches out as far as he can and demands, Freeze.

And everything listens to him. It gives him time to move.

Charles is on the first floor—there's been a more luxurious room on the third, but he abhors dealing with lifts in unfamiliar situations. He's thankful for that now.

The pressure in his head is getting stronger. He's never tried to hold this many people at once and certainly never this many people with such strong intentions.

An explosion rocks the complex and Charles knows it's gone from bad to worse because when he gropes for the source of the explosion, he comes up with nothing but a void moving steadily towards the children. A light bulb shatters above him and the ground shakes. Charles can only pray there's an unobstructed path to his sister.

He gets there minutes before the void. Knocking on the door and screaming for his sister. Raven answers just a second later. "Charles, what's happing? Are you all right? You're bleeding."

Charles reaches a hand to touch his face and finds a thin trail of blood seeping from his nose. "Side effect of attempting to freeze so many at the same time I'm afraid. It will pass."

But how much more will he have to do before that?

"I was rather hoping I'd find you all here," a man says and Charles knows him to be Sebastian Shaw from the picture in Erik's mind.

Charles moves in front of them, the mere presence of a void intensifying his already terrible headache. He tells the CIA agents on base to go to sleep and they do. They'd only be filleted if they got in the middle of this. He reaches for the teleporter's signature, the man who makes whirlwinds in his hand, but his control, already taxed is making him clumsy.

"This is the man you align yourselves behind?" Shaw says. Everything about him seems larger than life. He's not terribly tall, but he takes up more space than he has a right to. Not even the ridiculous metal helmet he wears impedes his presence. "Look at him. We're clearly the superior species and yet you fester in a human facility under the gaze of a telepathic cripple."

Raven's anger flares at the word. Charles feels it through his cracking shields.

"Come with me," Shaw says, looking at them each in turn. "Come with me and live like kings. And queens."

"I'd like to suggest you leave," Charles says and even as he does, he knows he's not an intimidating picture. He's wearing his pajamas, bleeding from the nose and above all sitting in a wheelchair as he stares down a man who all but destroyed the base.

"You can't do a thing to stop me," Shaw says. "Not where I'm wearing this." He taps the side of the helmet and the metallic ping that rings out makes Charles think of Erik Lehnsherr and a coin.

"I highly doubt that," Charles says. His fingers go to his temple, streaking the blood on his face on the way.

In a wisp of smoke, the teleporter, (azazel, recruited out of russia, a bizarrely good painter, left--) is at Shaw's side, his tail at the other man's throat. "You're not welcome here," Charles says with Azazel's voice.

"You're more powerful than I thought," Shaw says, eyes thoughtful under the helmet. The trickle of blood from Charles's nose has turned into a stream. Shaw looks from Charles to the children, lined up behind him. In a clear voice he says, "This is a one time only offer, friends. I will not be so forgiving if you continue to stand in my way."

Charles loses his hold on Azazel and the man looks at him like he's the Devil incarnate before the three of them vanish in a haze of red smoke.

"Dude," Sean says, squeezing Charles's shoulder in a grip so tight it hurts.

Raven has tears in her eyes. Angel's loudly wondering if she's chosen the right side.

Alex and Darwin are both impressed, but the thought in both of their minds is that they need to learn how to fight.

"Are you all right, professor?" Hank asks.

Charles tilts his head and feels more than hears that that is how the children think of him now. Professor X, telepathic agent of the CIA. "I rather think I'm going to pass out," he replies, and ruins the image of himself as a badass.

***


The next day Erik comes back to the rubble of the CIA facility. When he sees Charles sitting outside, shock rolls off him in waves, though he schools it from his features.

"Shaw was here," he says.

"Yes," Charles confirms.

"And you're still alive."

"It would appear so."

"I believe I underestimated you, Charles."

"It appears you did, my friend."

Erik's mind whirs. He sees the world like a puzzle, only valuing the pieces that would take him closer to Shaw. But if the disjointed scenes of destruction Charles gleaned from his brief tour in Azazel's mind are anything to go by, he knows how important it is to stop the man.

Finally, Erik clears his throat. "It occurs to me that working together would be the most effective use of both of our resources."

It's dangerous to deal with this man. Charles knows it already, but his mind is still one of the most fascinating things Charles has ever seen. There is the capacity for good in him he can feel it.

As he shakes hands with Erik, he also gets a glimpse of a dead woman made of diamonds and he tells himself that it's possible for people to change.

***


He takes them all to the mansion because the mansion is safe, has a built in bunker and has been retrofitted for someone in a wheelchair. The paths are all paved. The upper floors are all lift accessible and there is more than enough room for practice. And if they are going to have to face Shaw again, they will have to train. Twenty-seven people in that facility died the night Shaw attacked and it's only blind luck (and Charles) that kept it from being any of the mutants.

So they train. Erik forces Hank to run, and coaches Raven in being herself. Charles finds himself teaching for the first time in his life and he loves it. He may be at a slight advantage in that he can see the moment the ideas take hold, can see how it takes route and how it grows.

He likes to think that he would have done this regardless. That Charles Xavier would be a teacher telepathy or not. Legs or not.

And the ideas are starting to take hold. He can pinpoint the moments. When Darwin preemptively changes. When Angel hits a target a three hundred yards. When Hank catches Erik in a sprint and then some.

When Erik pushes Sean off a roof.

***


"Do you have any idea what you could have done to him?" The chessboard is between the two of them, Erik already on the defensive. "Any idea at all?"

"Nothing happened," Erik replies, moving his bishop.

"He could have been killed," Charles says, studying the board. "These children have been entrusted to my care. I won't have them being—"

"If they're to face Shaw, they're going to have to learn."

"I have no intention of coddling anyone. I'd just prefer my students not be thrown off massive satellites. They could be—"

"Crippled, Charles? Like yourself?"

Charles reaches for the rook, thinks better of it and moves the knight instead. "Check."

"I can still feel the fragments of the bullet in your spine. I'm guessing the damage was quite extensive. May I ask what happened?"

"Raven had a… slip up. I got between her and the man with the gun."

"A human did this. And yet you're willing to fight with them, stand up with them when they will turn on you the second they're done with you."

Erik's making his moves almost carelessly now, fueled by passion instead of sense.

"I'm afraid I won't be standing with anyone, Erik." Charles allows himself a small smile. "The world will accept us. Especially if we avert a war."

"And how can we be sure of that?"

"Because, my friend. You've started to accept me." Charles picks up his rook and moves it two spaces to the left. "Checkmate."

***


The first time Erik looks at Charles and doesn't see the wheelchair, he moves a satellite with his mind. That morning, Charles had taken Darwin and Alex to the bunker, helped Alex into his chest plate and said, "I want you to hit Darwin."

No one dies that day, so Charles counts it as a win.

***


The night after they hear about Cuba, Angel leaves. Charles catches, the only conscious mind in an otherwise sleeping mansion. It's a bizarre parody of the night Erik left. She doesn't seem the least bit surprised to find him watching. "Professor, I—"

"You nearly left with Shaw," Charles says. There's no accusation in his voice, but she flinches anyway.

"I can't help thinking that maybe he's right. We don't belong with the humans and I don't see why we should fight for them."

"I can already tell that nothing I can say will change your mind." Charles wheels to the counter to fix himself some tea. "But know this, as long as I am alive and capable of providing a home, you will have a place here."

"Thanks, professor," Angel says. She leans forward to give him a kiss on the cheek. "If you survive the week, I'll be sure to remember that."

The door closes and Charles can hear the flutter of wings as she leaves. Charles puts his tea on his lab and moves to the table. Raven greets him not ten minutes later. "Angel's gone."

"Yes," Charles says. "I just saw her off."

"And you let her go?"

"She thinks we're all going to die tomorrow." Charles takes a sip of his drink. "Terribly pessimistic."

Raven's blue, but then the more she's been around mutants, the more she's started to show her true face. What makes Charles sputter is the fact that she's completely nude. She picks up a piece of fruit form the bowl and slides across from him with a roll of the eyes. "You always were a gigantic prude."

"You're my sister."

Raven takes a bit of her apple. "Hank says he developed a cure for my mutation. Brought it over for the both of us. Said it was a present."

"He probably considers it one." Charles wonders just how long Hank has kept this from him. He's impressed despite himself. "What did you tell him?"

Raven sinks back against her chair. "I told him we shouldn't have to hide."

Charles nods slowly. "I agree whole-heartedly. Though I must admit I slightly begrudge those who have the choice. There are times I wish I had the option."

"But you don't regret it?" Raven ask, golden eyes wide.

"Not for a second," Charles replies. "If I had a chance to do it over again, I wouldn't change a thing." He sips on his tea again. "Is this problem with Hank the reason you've suddenly decided to be a nudist? Because while you are quite lovely, as your brother I have to object rather strongly."

Raven bursts out laughing and the sight warms him. "I also told Hank that injecting a new, untested, potentially life-altering serum into himself was ridiculous. He should at least wait to get it peer reviewed."

"That's my girl."

***


Hank doesn't listen.

***


Raven sidles up to Erik the day before their first mission. "Did Charles ever tell you what happened to the man who shot him?"

"No. I'm assuming he got away with his crime."

"Not by half. Charles was only fourteen years old at the time. He didn't have the control he does now. And when Charles got shot, it tore down his walls. Everyone within a two-mile radius felt it. Harry Layland, the one who pulled the trigger got the worst of it. Last I hear doctors think his legs are fine, but he hasn't walked since the last time Charles did."

"Charles did that?"

"Charles is a lot of things, Erik, but before we go out to fight, you should understand that he's not weak."

***


The ship Hank designs is specially made to lock Charles's wheelchair into place and that mild consideration does nothing to change the fact that putting on the leather jumpsuit is one of the single most difficult things he's ever accomplished. Erik is looking oddly at him when they report and he can only grin and say, "The next upgrade will be turbo boosters for the chair."

Darwin's the one who laughs. "Never thought I'd see it. Professor X suiting up for combat."

Everyone sobers. Charles can hear same though singing out, an echo shared over six minds. The odds are against us coming back at all.

Erik Lehnsherr, who Charles would have thought would be the most resolute of all of them is looking down the line, trying to convince himself that there is such thing as an acceptable loss.

***


The coin hurts worse than the bullet for the single reason that it hurts longer. The bullet had been an impact. Flash-bang pain followed by nothing. But the coin, the coin is meant to be torture.

He screams as loud as he can but Erik's put on Shaw's helmet.

He isn't listening.

***


Getting from the jet to the beach is all but impossible. Still shaken from Shaw's death (murder), Charles tries to maneuver through the wreckage to the sands, but there's too much in his way. Frustrated, he wishes Erik were here. Hank had sown a wire frame into every uniform so that Erik could carry them in a pinch. Erik could move the debris away, could pull his wheelchair through the sand.

But Erik has stepped into the same void where Shaw lived and Charles isn't sure he wants to see the man who reemerges.

There's enough of the wires free for Charles to pull himself up with his arms, muscles screaming. He's half out of his head in pain, but he can tell if he doesn't get out to the beach, things will go bad. Moira finds him then, finds him and without asking for permission loops an arm under him and hauls him out into the sand.

Raven's there a second later, supporting him on the other side as his legs dangle beneath them.

Everyone else is watching Erik.

Erik dropping Shaw's body. Erik telling them to stop the infighting. Erik saying the real enemies are the humans.

Erik stopping hundreds of missiles with just his will.

Then, as Charles watches, the missiles start to turn. "Erik, there are hundreds of men on those ships. Innocent men. They're just following orders.

Things go from bad to worse. Erik sends the missiles back on the ships despite Charles's cries of, No. He lunges forward through the sand, forgetting his disability and wrenches out of Moria's grip only to hit ground. He has no other options so he presses his fingers to his temple and reaches out, grabbing Shaw's teleporter's mind and in a flash he's at Erik's side. "I had Shaw in this same position, Erik," Charles says.

Erik turns around, hold on the missiles failing as he pulls Charles up by the wires in his suit as well. "What did you just say to me?"

Charles tries not to be intimidated by the sensation of floating. "You heard me, Erik. Your mother was human. Moira is human. Humans are not our enemies."

"The man who put you in that chair is a human. The ones who fired the missiles are human. I read your thesis. The next step in human evolution was always started by the slaughter of the one before it."

"You read my thesis?" Charles asks and it has to be brain damage from the coin that causes him to latch onto that detail of all things. "What did you think?"

There's the ghost of a smile on Erik's face and a thousand bombs go off in midair. Charles eases out of the teleporter's mind. Azazel takes Riptide by the arm and steers the hell out of dodge. "I think you're painfully naive."

"Well I think your helmet is simply atrocious."

"Uh, guys," Darwin says. "I don't mean to break up your moment or anything, but I really think we need to get the hell off this beach."

***


"I won't stay unless you're willing to fight," Erik tells him at the mansion. "I know even you aren't so naïve as to think there will be a revolution without blood."

"I'll fight when I have to," Charles says. "I always have."

(end)
Tags:

(no subject)

17/9/11 22:57 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tzzzz.livejournal.com
This is great! the charles characterization is perfect for if he had been disabled earlier. What really hurts is that in the end, Erik and Charles aren't as close and maybe that's even the reason that Erik doesn't leave. I'd love to see a slashy follow up.

(no subject)

18/9/11 00:00 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Ah, I'm quite wretched at anything other than gen, so the slashy follow up won't really happen. I'm glad you enjoyed the story!

(no subject)

18/9/11 09:37 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] shadowserenity.livejournal.com
Oh, this was really wonderful. I love how you wrote Charles so that he showed everyone wrong - he is so strong in this. Then there's also how his disability allowed him to relate to Raven and enhance their relationship.

(no subject)

13/10/11 03:42 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
[so I'm woefully behind on replies but]

Thank you so much for reading. Getting into the XMFC fandom, I keep having flashbacks to my Dark Angel days, because if there are any two people who made me believe you don't need legs to be awesome, it's Charles and Logan.

(no subject)

18/9/11 11:52 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] etirabys.livejournal.com
At the end, Moira looks at him in despair thinking, maybe I should have brought someone who looked more impressive. But I brought the best. The best.

This made me love Moira so much. So much.

He's a little ashamed by how much he wants to stay in the water.

Sobbyfaces. I can just... see this.

Also, Erik's initial ableism was- I liked that. I mean, I like how he got it wrong. Because people do get it wrong, and although it's horrible, it's... (handwave) I just liked it. A disabled blogger once put it as " It’s not like dragging the function across multiple rows in Excel." I think this is what I like about this, because so many times in fic there's this automatic "we're mutants, we're cool with everything, we've been discriminated against and now we get every sort of discrimination" that I simply hate, and well. Sigh.

"Enemy of my enemy, Charles?" Erik says. "With friends like yourself, who needs enemies?"

Erik, you nastly shit

Some of the CIA agents have the most disconcerting tendency to climb a flight of stairs when they'd rather not talk to him.

I always love the little details, you know, as much as the big punches sometimes, and this packed a pretty big punch for me, because, ouch.

It doesn't matter though. Erik still leaves. ... Easily the most awkward part of the trip is the two hours he spends in the strip club with his little sister.

I just need to say how much I love this. When I read that second sentence my face split into this evil grin and I went lololol.

The short conversation with Angel and Charles... Dude. I always wanted Angel to get more screen time. And this isn't directly linked to Charles' disability, and I don't see it as being related, just one of those effect of an effect of an effect things that just show how he would have reacted even if he hadn't been disabled. (Basically I just really really like Angel.)

"Well I think your helmet is simply atrocious."

God, I love this line, because YES. (The last scene in the movie with Erik in that horrible cape made me squirm with revulsion in my seat, and the strange little beetle-thing on his helmet... what. Someone should ALWAYS say something about this EVERY fic.)

...I have this sad little scene in my head where Charles, right after the surgery, before he adjusts and starts being unashamedly badass, asks Raven to impersonate him and walk around. And Raven's like NO and then, sadly, fine. But just this once.

tl;dr, loving this so much.

(no subject)

13/10/11 03:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
[I am a terrible person for not responding to this immediately but...]

This is the kind of comment that keeps me grinning for days. Really. Thank you so much for all your kind words.

(no subject)

20/9/11 02:29 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] davincis-girl.livejournal.com
That meme is on fire.

Like the scene about Sean being pushed. I thought that, although it was played for fun in the montage, Charles reaction would have been that of a more protective teacher/parent.

Well done here.

(no subject)

13/10/11 03:45 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I'm still not quite sure what happened to that meme, but there's another so I guess it's all good. Or something.

Thanks for reading!

(no subject)

20/9/11 04:04 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] blackstarnebula.livejournal.com
wow, this was great. I really love your Charles - still the same Charles but stronger.

(no subject)

13/10/11 03:46 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

(no subject)

20/9/11 14:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] lilacsigil.livejournal.com
This was great, though painful to see so clearly how much of Shaw's ideology Wrik has absorbed. The extra closeness between Charles and Raven now that they both have visible differences was lovely.

(no subject)

13/10/11 03:47 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
It kind of hurts me a little to think of Erik and Charles not being bffs/mortal enemies, but the more I thought about the premise of this story, the more I felt like it had to go that way. Thank you so much for the comment. I'm sorry I'm hideously behind with replies.

(no subject)

24/9/11 00:35 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] apagon.livejournal.com
Lovely! You quite accurately pinpoint the problem as charles being an privileged WASP who has never had to deal with certain prejudices... love the story you craft... very logical uses of plot and motives (when the physical tackling of erik is not possible, his use of azazel is so very reasonable and right) anyway, I'll stop blabbing, thanks for sharing!

(no subject)

13/10/11 03:49 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
No need to apologize for the babbling. Thanks so much for the comment. It was a really fun kind of what if exercise to figure out how the movie would go down with this change. I'm glad it worked for you.

(no subject)

11/11/11 01:17 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] mrkinch.livejournal.com
I love the perfect bloody-mindedness of this. I love the characterizations; everyone is spot on, including Erik, though I like to think that in time his prejudices would have been overcome. Really, really good.

(FYI, I rec'd this here (http://mrkinch.dreamwidth.org/195265.html).)

(no subject)

11/11/11 05:39 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Oh, getting recced never stops being cool. I'm really happy to hear it worked for you. Especially the Erik being a dick part. Because I love him dearly, but boy does have issues.

(no subject)

11/11/11 08:09 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] so-shhy.livejournal.com
Here via the above rec. Awesome story, I adore BAMF Charles and I love the mixture of ways that things changed, that it wasn't all about how he thought - butterfly effects too, like their not letting him go to Russia leading to him being being there for Shaw. All really interessting, especially Erik's reactions.

Thanks!

(no subject)

9/12/11 13:49 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thank you so much. I love writing the change one thing kind of AUs, it's always a blast to see how much will unravel.

[And I'm sorry this is so late. Nano ate November and then finals are eating December.]

(no subject)

28/3/12 18:16 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] oxymora.livejournal.com
How did I not see this before? Close-canon 'What if?' AUs are my favorite, and so are fics about BAMF!paraplegic!Charles, so basically this is the best thing ever. And I'm saying this as a diehard Charles/Erik shipper and Erik fangirl. Erik's reaction and rejection was painful, but all the more effective, because it hit home and it is sadly a realistic assumption. And this Charles, with this Raven at his side, can take it. I loved their dynamic (and the image of Raven at the strip club).

(no subject)

3/4/12 04:27 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
I've got a bit of fandom ADD as it turns out. Don't think I'm on anyone's radar. Glad you found it though. Its one of those AUs I was surprised wasn't out there already. As much as I also ship Charles and Erik, I almost feel like this way is better for them. Raven too. Because that movie really was Murphy's Law in action.

Happy to hear you enjoyed this!

(no subject)

28/3/12 19:15 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] tahariel.livejournal.com
This is lovely - I love how you've changed the story without losing the sense of who the characters are and how things could unfold in that universe. you have a really good grasp of who Charles is at his core that I really enjoyed :)

(no subject)

3/4/12 04:28 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Thanks so much! The change one thing sort of AUs are a favorite of mine and I'm glad it worked for you.

(no subject)

29/3/12 08:57 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] unforgotten.livejournal.com
Ahh, I love this fic so much. It's even better on the re-read than it was the first time I read it months ago. <33

(no subject)

3/4/12 04:29 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
Always nice to hear you merit a reread. =) Thanks so much for the kind words.

(no subject)

23/10/12 23:59 (UTC)
alamerysl: (marion cotillard)
Posted by [personal profile] alamerysl
This is incredible. Your Charles here is so much wiser and stronger due to his disability. He's lost the kind of privileged rich boy ignorant attitude, and it changes his perceptions and the way he deals with other people. I especially loved that he understood Raven much better, and that their relationship becomes so much stronger.

(no subject)

11/12/12 05:14 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile] trolllogicfics.livejournal.com
(I really fail at comments, but...)

Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm really glad you enjoyed it.

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