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Title: This Day in History
Fandom: X-Men: First Class
Author: [ profile] snowdarkred 
Word Count: ~2,500
Pairings: Charles Xavier/Erik Lehnsherr/Raven
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Seriously.
Rating/Warnings: R; torture, fast and loose historical accuracy, eventual sexual content, and other mature themes.
Author's Note: A special thank you to [ profile] lathyrism , who not not only beta'd her own present -- she also provided the German translations! I love you; I'm glad I was able to write you a story you enjoyed. <3 
Additional Note: Fun with AUness abounds! 

Summary: On May 16, 1956, Charles Xavier gives up on humanity. (alternate history!AU)

This Day in History
May 16, 1956 - February 4, 1957

May 16, 1956

Charles and Raven held hands while the radio crackled. Any second now, the newscaster would announce the Supreme Court's decision. Any second now, people like them -- cursed and blessed with abilities far beyond those of normal humans -- could either gain or lose personhood. Ever since the existence of mutants had been revealed following the second world war, Charles had been waiting for this moment. The Supreme Court was the line in the sand for mutant rights, and Hernandez v. Georgia was their rallying cry.

The radio crackled again, and Raven's grip on Charles's hand tightened painfully.

"The Supreme Court has ruled," the man on the radio said. Charles held his breath. "The Court has ruled that since the so-called mutants are not homo sapiens, that they are not members of the human race and are not a part of mankind, these beings are not entitled to the protections of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights."

Raven started to sob softly, and Charles was on the verge of joining her. Their rights had just been stripped away by the highest court in America; to the government of the United States, they weren't people. They were nothing. Nothing. Nothing worth protecting.

"What are we going to do?" Raven asked as the man on the radio talked on about the overwhelming majority and the lone dissenting opinion. "Charles...."

"We're leaving," Charles said sadly. "Oxford extended another invitation for me to study there. I'm going to take it, and you're going to come with me. Britain doesn't have any laws against mutants. Not yet, anyway."

"So we're just running away?" she demanded angrily.

"It's better than dying," he said. He squeezed her hand and tried not to be hurt when she pulled away and stormed furiously from the room. Her thoughts were vicious...and understandable. He felt the same, but he didn't have the time for anger. He had to keep them alive and undiscovered long enough to flee. He had to get them to safety.

1956 was the year Charles Xavier lost faith in humanity. He was nineteen.

June 25, 1956

Erik threw the French newspaper to the side and scowled at his waitress. She scurried to get him his check, no doubt in a hurry to get him and his permanent cloud of anger out of her cafe. There had been another anti-mutant lynching in America; this time the victim had been nothing more than a girl with yellow eyes. Hardly the monster the papers were trying to make her out to be. Ever since the United States had taken the first step in declaring a war on mutants, the rest the of the world had been tiptoeing after them.

Today, there were lynchings in New Mexico, New York, California. Tomorrow, it would be Moscow, Cairo, Beijing. Paris. Anti-mutant riots were spreading as the political system churned out fear propaganda and false scientific evidence. The governments of the world had found the ultimate boogeyman, and they were milking it as much as they could, as quickly as they could, to gain as much power (as the could) over their citizens.

Society was turning against them. Erik had read the essays, the reports, the articles. Most wrote of mutants as if they were abominations, but a few controversial, quickly censored papers hypothesized that mutants were the next stage in human evolution. A new species rather than just monsters made of clay.

The waitress came with the bill, and Erik promptly gave her exact change. He left the cafe and his newspaper behind, not even bothering with a tip. The streets of Paris teemed with life – and stank with it too. The hot morning sun filtered through the old crumbling buildings and fresh skyscrapers. Erik shouldered through the sweating crowds, weaving a path back to his hotel.

He had searched high and low, had spoken to everyone who might have even a sliver of connection to Schmidt, but the bastard wasn't here, which meant that Erik had no excuse to linger in La Ville-Lumière longer than the time it took to collect his clothing. His next lead was in Italy and was unlikely to linger if he thought that Erik was coming after him.

The world was trying to stomp out his species, and it was all Schmidt's fault. Erik was going to make him pay for that - and for so much more.

October 9, 1956

Raven sighed and looked forlornly out of the apartment window. Charles had insisted that she at least finish high school, or the equivalent thereof here in England. She hated it, and not just because the girls at school snickered about her American accent and flighty older brother. She hated it because of the fear that stalked her every step.

What if she slipped? What if her eyes changed color? What if she forgot the tilt of her form's eyebrows or got the height just wrong enough for someone to notice? She kept her bone structure and core features as similar as possible to her normal appearance, but her skin was blue, for God's sake. One mistake could land her in the middle of a riot or worse. She didn't want to be the next target of the media's smear campaign against mutants.

Charles was scared too, she knew. Scared for her, scared for others of their kind. He had once been so hopeful, but now it seemed as though all the life had bled from his eyes. He watched strangers suspiciously, instead of with joy, and he was always on the alert for an attack. So was she, for that matter. It felt like the universe itself was set on destroying them, and there was nothing they could do to stop it. All they could do was blend in as much as possible.

The academy Charles had deposited her at – as a day student only, since neither of them wanted to risk being separated – was older than dirt and twice as boring. At least dirt let plants grow and blossom; all the school did was stifle her. She was a wilting flower.

She was terribly lonely.

Charles was busy with his own schooling, of course, jumping through all the hoops Oxford set for him. Raven tried not to be bitter about it, since Charles was only grasping at whatever straws he could. He deserved the distraction and opportunities his education was bringing him. Plus, his enrollment allowed him to look at the newest data about mutants. Genetics was a booming field, and one that had a special importance to Raven, Charles, and people like them. Mutants.


People passed below; she wondered how many were homo sapiens and how many were mutants. She wondered how many of them were keeping secrets and what those secrets were.

She wondered how many of them were hiding in plain sight, hiding their very skin, like she was.

She sighed again and turned back to her Latin homework. Perhaps she could guilt Charles into doing it for her. Not having to remember how to form the subjunctive would definitely cheer her up.

December 24, 1956

Charles watched the fire crackle and pop. The Christmas tree in the corner of the room looked drab, despite Raven's best efforts. Charles hadn't bothered. Christmas used to be his favorite holiday, but it was hard to wish good on all mankind when mankind seemed determined to hate him.

“Come on, Charles,” Raven pouted. She was worried about him, he knew. He was letting himself get worn down more and more. The anger of the world pressed in on him every day. “It's Christmas Eve, for God's sake. Lighten up a little.” She made a goofy face at him, shifting her features just to show off.

He immediately checked to make sure that the curtains blocked their apartment from prying eyes across the street. He hated himself for it a little, especially when he felt the sharp stab of resentment from Raven, but their safety could not be compromised. Anonymity was the only real defense they had. “Raven,” he started.

“We're in our own fucking home,” Raven snarled. She breathed deeply and made a valiant effort to calm herself. It was Christmas Eve, after all. “Just, relax. For once. Please.”

Charles pursed his lips and turned back to the fire. I'll try, he told her mind to mind. It wasn't something he did often anymore – something else that worried Raven. He couldn't turn his telepathy off, of course, but he could keep himself from straying any more than he had to. While vigilance was necessary (he needed to know exactly when someone started to suspect that he and Raven were more than human) he no longer let his mind wander far.

“I'll get you some eggnog,” Raven said, the only peace offering she knew how to give. He smiled at her weakly as she hopped up and walked over to the kitchen, blond hair swinging behind her. She sang a Christmas tune under her breath, but she didn't remember all the lyrics and thus had to subsistence them with her own, far dirtier versions.

The tree had more presents underneath it than its sad branches deserved, most of them from Charles to Raven. He had dragged her across the world, and whether it was to keep them safe or not, he had still forced her to leave behind everything she had known and move to another country. Bitterness flavored her thoughts from time to time, and while he refused to feel bad about leaving the United States behind in the wake of the Hernandez v. Georgia decision, he did feel guilty about what it did to Raven. She shouldn't have to hide in fear; none of them should.

Raven returned with his eggnog and some for herself. She plopped down next to him on the sofa and laid her head on his shoulder, as she'd done when they were children. He gladly took the drink from her hand and took several quick gulps of it, hoping that it would give him the holiday cheer Raven craved.

“I don't blame you, you know,” Raven said after a silent moment. “For getting us out.”

“Yes," Charles said, "you do."

“There was another article in the paper yesterday,” Raven said instead of denying it. “Some rich guy's kid grew wings.” She paused to take a healthy gulp of alcohol. “The mob burned their mansion down.”

“I won't let that happen to us,” Charles told her. “I swear it, Raven. I'll do whatever it takes.”

“I know you will,” she said softly. “But Charles, we shouldn't have to live like this.”

“It's all we have.”

The fire burned on merrily, but the room remained chilly for the rest of the evening. Neither of them slept well that night.

January 11, 1957

Erik walked over to the window, ignoring the useless pleading coming from his informant. The room was cold; Germany in winter usually was. Erik pulled out a box of cigarettes and extracted one. He lit it with the soon-to-be-dead man's lighter before pocketing the costly trinket. Gold detailing, how foolish.

“Ich werde dick noch ein letztes Mal bitten, du Narr,” he said with false cheer. “Wo ist der gute Herr Doktor? Schnell jetzt.”

“Ich weiß es nicht!” the man protested. “Ich weiß nicht, von wem Sie reden!”

“Lügner, Lügner, keucht im feuer,” Erik chanted softly. He turned face his victim. The man was bound to his fancy office chair with chains of varying length, purchased by Erik for just this occasion. It was a special moment for him. He remembered this man well, after all.

Randolf Huber was one of Schmidt's financial backers. He had often come to see Schmidt's experiments.

Erik was Schmidt's favorite subject.

But Randolf Huber didn't recognize Erik, and why would he? Erik didn't resemble the tortured young boy he had been back then at all, even though, objectively, little time had passed since he escaped into freedom.

For some reason, the fact that Huber didn't even remember Erik annoyed him more than the fact that the man was withholding information from him. The metal fixtures in the room quivered, and the chains tightened even further.

Sag es mir,” he commanded, raising his free hand and pulling his fingers into a fist. Huber screamed as his ribs broke. Erik released him he was damage to the point of being unable to answer Erik’s questions.

“Ich weiss n--” Huber whined.

Erik made the chains break his arm this time.

“Bitte, ich--”

The other arm.

Bitte, ich flehe sie an--”

The kneecap.


The other knee.

“Ich -- ich sags ihnen.”

Erik smiled and took a drag from his cigarette. “Danke fuer deine mitarbeit, Herr Huber.”

Schmidt was in England, somewhere near Oxford. He was making inquiries about something, but Huber didn't know what. Schmidt had seemed enthusiastic about it when they spoke last. Then Huber had lapsed into nothing but begging and pleading for his pathetic life. Erik killed him as soon as it was clear that the man would be of no further use to him. His death sealed his place in Erik's past; one more person who had stood by and witnessed Schmidt's cruelty without protest was dead.

Erik left the room with a cocky smirk and a new lighter.

February 4, 1957

Charles felt him first. He and Raven were out and about, trying to enjoy a quiet evening together around town, when he suddenly reeled, one hand grabbing at his head, other at Raven's shoulder. His grip hurt, but Raven had seen this kind of behavior before; Charles needed something – someone – to ground him, and that person was her. She waved off the concerned passersby and focus on helping Charles keep it together. They couldn't afford to be found out now, not with human-mutant tensions at an all-time high. If someone thought that one of them was a mutant, or that Charles was being attacked by a mutant, things would get out of hand very quickly....

Charles head snapped up, and he appeared to focus in on one point across the street. Raven followed his gaze.

A tall, thin man stood across from them, watching. His stared at them, Charles specifically, and once their eyes met--

Charles crossed the street without even bothering to look both ways. Raven cursed under her breath, causing the elderly couple behind her to gasp in shock. She darted to the other side in a way that normally would have made Charles scold her for recklessness, but now he was too busy introducing himself to bother.

“I'm Charles Xavier,” he said sunily. “This is my sister Raven. I believe you were looking for us?”

“Indeed I was,” the other man said smoothly. His eyes left Charles's only briefly. “Are you all right?”

“Very,” Charles laughed. “That was just a shock reaction. You have very strong emotions.”

“I suppose,” the man said, quirking an eyebrow. “I'm Erik.” He offered his hand to Charles, who shook it longer than was strictly polite, and then Raven. “Erik Lehnsherr.”

“Welcome to Oxford,” Charles smiled. “You can sleep on our couch.”

--- --- --- 

Additional-additional notes:

While most households, especially those as wealthy as the Xaviers, had television sets by the mid-to-late fifties, I think that Charles and Raven would avoid watching a news broadcast about something as personally significant with the others that would surely watch it with them. A radio in a private location would be much safer.
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