snowdarkred: (xfc: charles&erik: date at the monument)
[personal profile] snowdarkred
Title: This Day in History
Fandom: X-Men: First Class
Author:  [ profile] snowdarkred 
Word Count: ~2,800
Pairings: Charles/Erik/Raven
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Seriously.
Rating/Warnings: R; fast and loose historical accuracy, eventual sexual content, and other mature themes.
Author's Note: Continuing my thanks to [ profile] lathyrism , who, naturally, continues to be an awesome beta and muse. <3
Additional Note: Fun with AUness abounds!

Summary: On February 8, 1957, they run like hell. (alternate history!AU)

This Day in History
May 16, 1956 - February 4, 1957
February 5, 1957 - March 1, 1957

February 5, 1957

Charles watched over his newspaper as Erik methodically ate breakfast. While neither of the Xavier siblings were very good cooks, Charles liked to believe that he, at least, did somewhat admirably. Raven always seemed to set everything she touched on fire, even the things that should not, logically, have anything to do with heat.

Erik, however, gave no sign of enjoyment -- or of disgust. He just ate, one bite at a time, as if it wouldn’t matter to him what the food was so long as it was food. Charles felt a shard of Erik’s memory stab at him sharply. The telepath jerked away from it and tried to keep his thoughts to himself, not only for Erik’s privacy but also for his own peace of mind. He had already seen enough horror in Erik’s mind to last a life time.

Raven made her grand entrance of the morning, five minutes later than she should have. She hopped sloppily across the living room, pulling on her uniform shoes and adjusting her Headington School skirt. She banged her shin against the coffee table, and Charles’s foot twitched. Erik felt Charles brush against his leg and looked up sharply. Charles smiled warmly and rolled his shoulders. Even though he kept mostly to himself these days, he and Raven’s bond had almost always managed to cut through their walls, especially when it came to pain.

“Good morning, brother dearest,” Raven said as she glided smoothly into the small kitchen area. She flicked her hair and grinned impishly, as if they hadn’t watched her stumble and curse across the flat. She swooped down and kissed him lovingly on the check. She also stole some of his toast, but that was as a part of their morning routine as Raven’s kisses.

“Good morning, sister love,” Charles said back, pushing the rest of his plate toward her. She collapsed happily in their third chair and dug in, using Charles’s fork to eat his sub-par scrambled eggs.

“Good morning,” Erik said to the table. Raven grinned at him around her fork and winked. Charles turned back to his newspaper.


The headline was violent, and the article itself was even more strongly worded. Honestly, Charles didn’t understand why they even bothered to separate the editorial page from the actual news anymore; it wasn’t as if anyone could tell the difference.

Yesterday evening, four radical mutant sympathizers were arrested after protesting the new American film "Armored Within." The film shows the triumph of homo sapiens over the mutant threat and has stirred controversy around the globe. The radicals were arrested for--

This is how it starts, Charles’s mind whispered, but the voice wasn’t his. He looked across the table to see Erik staring calmly back at him. He was the one who had fetched the paper for them earlier that morning.

“Raven, if you don’t leave now, you’ll be late again,” Charles said, turning away from Erik’s intense gaze. There was too much history there, etched for anyone who was looking in pain and loss. It clawed at the edges of Charles’s shields, reaching for him through the passing of time.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Raven said, pushing aside Charles’s plate. “I’m going, I’m going.”
She leaped gracefully to her feet, like a cat, and kissed Charles on the check again.

And then, to Erik’s surprise, she leaned over and did the same to him. Charles smiled despite himself and was forced to take refuge behind his newspaper again. Erik’s thoughts scattered like so many dropped marbles, rolling uselessly around on the floor. He was frozen in time, thinking of the last time a woman who had known exactly who and what he was interacted with him as casually as that. It was a long, long time ago.

Erik fit with them. Charles couldn’t explain it. He just did.

February 6, 1957

“Are you ever going to ask me?” Erik finally snapped. He’d been at the Xaviers’ flat for two days, and all he had accomplished was the loss of two chess games and making it through Raven’s rant about the anti-mutant propaganda her instructors were spreading without tearing the pipes through the walls. Being around the Xaviers was like being stranded in an ocean of peace, and Erik was drowning. He was suffocating. Losing his edge.

“Ask you what?” Charles asked absently. He was bent over a pile of books, marking notations in the margins at random intervals.

“What I’m doing here! What I want!” Erik resisted the urge to jump up and pace, but it was a near thing. How someone so fascinating could be so frustrating was beyond him.

Charles sighed and put down his pen. “My friend, do you think that I would let you anywhere near my sister without reading your mind?” He met Erik’s gaze calmly. “I know exactly what your goals are. I know your reasons.” He smiled. “I know you.”

“If you really knew me, you would never have let me within twenty meters of your sister,” Erik said stiffly.

“Your name is Erik Lehnsherr, born Max Eisenhardt. You witnessed your mother’s murder. You spent years in the hands of a monster. You think that you’re a weapon, a tool capable only of violence.”

“A summary of facts,” Erik dismissed. “That is not the same as knowing me.”

“I know that you are a good man.”

Erik grinned toothily. “Then you really don’t know me at all.”

Charles didn’t look afraid; he didn’t even look impressed. He was just as calm as he’d been when he was scribbling notes in his books. Erik wondered how Charles would react to a threat. He rattled the knives in the kitchen and warped most of the nearby metal, just to see. Poking Charles with a stick.

Pulling his pigtails.

There was no reaction to the display of power. Charles didn’t even blink.

“Raven will be home from school soon,” Charles said with that infuriating calmness. “You should probably fix the doorknob before she returns.”

Erik grimaced and did so as best he could. Fixing things was hard -- it was so much easier to twist and break them.

“When she gets here,” Charles continued, picking up his pen again and returning to his studies, “you can tell her what’s going on, and then we’ll figure out a plan. Together.”

“Just like that?” Erik asked, disbelieving.

“Just like that.”

February 8, 1957

Erik and Charles faced off over the chessboard. Raven sat on the couch next to her brother, leaning into his warmth. He had his hand on her thigh, and Erik’s eyes flickered down to that point of contact and then away, as if he was ashamed of something. Raven wanted to know why, but Charles wasn’t answering any of her mental questions. He twitched slightly every time she offered up a theory. The dirtier the theory, the bigger his twitch.

Raven had done something that Charles had yet to forgive her for, although Erik had given her an approving smirk when she’d confessed. The minute she heard what Erik had to say, she’d plotted. Changing into Charles was as easy as breathing. Convincing the Headington headmistress that Raven Xavier was taking an abrupt and permanent vacation as Charles was a little harder - but still manageable.

Charles wasn’t speaking to her, but that wouldn’t last. It never did.

Raven watched as Erik and Charles pitted their intellects against each other. She only half paid attention to the game. Her mind kept swinging back to what Erik had told them.

Schmidt -- the man who had tried his best to destroy Erik and forge him into a weapon -- knew that there was a telepathic mutant at Oxford. He didn’t know who, but he was looking. Erik had gotten wind of it and decided to find the telepath first.

(He actually hadn’t found them at all; it had been a complete accident that he gone that particular route back to his seedy hotel. His attention had been drawn by Charles’s rather theatrical fit, and well. Now he was sitting across from them, slowly getting his ass kicked at chess.)

They were in danger. Charles was in danger. They still didn’t have a definite plan, other than “don’t get caught” and “don’t go anywhere alone.” It seemed as if Erik had thrown in his lot with theirs, God knows why. How Schmidt had found out about Charles was a matter of concern. As was whether or not he knew about Raven.

Charles abruptly froze in place, his hand outstretched to the board. He sucked in a sharp breath and then turned abruptly towards the door, his eyes wide. Erik was on his feet instantly, and then--

And then Raven heard it.

The stomp of boots on wooden stairs. There were people in their apartment building. There were people coming for them.

Raven didn’t have time to collect herself. Charles and Erik shared a quick look filled with silent communication, and then Charles hauled her up off of the couch by her arm. He herded her towards the windows -- and their fire escape. Erik followed behind them, one hand raised toward the door.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

Charles opened the window and stepped out, his fingers pressing at his temple. He motioned for her to follow him quickly, and she did, all but flinging herself on the fire escape. She turned, waiting for Erik to join them.

There was a thud against the door. Loud, like someone had thrown their body weight into it. The door held, although the frame creaked and splintered alarmingly.

“Erik!” she screamed, darting forward to dive back in. Charles caught her around the waist and pulled her back. “Erik, come on!”

“Go on without me!” Erik shouted. His voice was strained, and it was then that Raven realized that he was holding the door in place. He was trying to give them time to escape. He wanted them to leave him behind.

Oh hell no.

Raven jerked her elbow back, catching Charles in the stomach. He let go of her and bent over, gasping harshly. She’d feel bad about that when Erik wasn’t trying to turn himself into a martyr. Charles was built for martyrdom, not that she’d ever let him try, but Erik wasn’t - and neither was she. She refused to let him throw his life away like this. She grabbed his lowered hand, which had tightened into a white-knuckled fist, and tugged him back with her.

“You can't do this!” she yelled. “Get your ass in gear and leave it!”

“Please, Erik,” Charles called from window. He had recovered enough to accept defeat and help her convince Erik to run with them. “They’ll kill you. Or worse. We can get away.”

“I won’t take the chance of you two getting caught,” Erik said. His hands shook, and sweat started to bead at his hairline. “Leave!”

“You’ll die,” Charles said stubbornly. His fingers trembled as if he wanted to put them to his head; he even started to before he stopped himself. Raven knew her brother. He wouldn’t want to force Erik, but if he was desperate enough, he would do anything to keep the people he loved safe. Before, it had just been her, but now there was Erik as well.

But Erik would never forgive them if Charles took over his mind, even for a moment. Charles would never forgive himself, even if it was necessary.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

They were pounding on the door.

“Please,” she whispered, just before the door broke. “Erik.”

“Yes,” he said, resigned, and then they ran like hell.

February 9, 1957

It took them over six hours to get to Portsmouth. Erik had stolen a car for them, and Charles couldn’t find it in him to protest the theft. They wasted a good four hours driving in circles, trying to throw off any tails, and it was past midnight by the time they got off the backroads and started to travel in earnest. The sun was just pushing up from the east when they pulled up to the shipyard.

They didn’t have time to buy proper tickets, and they also didn’t have time for Charles’s morals. He eased their way onto one of the ships bound for America, convincing the crewmen that they were two brothers and a sister -- with first class passage -- looking to escape the winter chill in someplace warmer. Raven changed her appearance to look more like a blend between Charles and Erik. She was the link holding their false familial relationship together, because no one would think that Charles came from the same womb as Erik.

They didn’t have any luggage. They didn’t have any cash. (Well, they hadn’t had any cash, but both Raven and Erik were fond of the five-finger discount, as they liked to call it.) They didn’t have their passports or any other kind of identification.

They were leaving. Charles was leaving.

He would probably never be able to return to Oxford University.

He watched England slowly shrink from view as the ship pulled out and took them away.

February 13, 1957

“Where, exactly, are we going to go when we reach the United States?” Erik asked one evening. Raven had stolen a chess set from one of the recreation rooms, and Erik was attempting to thrash her thoroughly. Unfortunately, it appeared as if both of the Xaviers were chess geniuses. Maybe it was a mutation.

“We’re going back to the mansion,” Charles said from his cot. His feet were propped up on pillows as he read a book that one of the other passengers had lent him. Some trite romance novel that telepathic geniuses were supposed to be above.

“Your family mansion?” Erik asked, incredulous. Raven nodded absently. She was wearing her own skin; the brilliant shade of blue kept drawing Erik’s attention -- and holding it. “They know who you are. Going to a known location like your family home would turn us into sitting ducks.”

“The mansion is much more defensible than an Oxford flat or a dingy motel room,” Charles replied. He turned the page.

“And it’ll give us plenty of room to house our army,” Raven said. She moved her queen to G5, placing him in check.

“Army?” Erik asked, afraid to know what the two had gotten into their heads now. He moved his king out of check and reconsidered the board.

“Yes, well,” Raven said, leaning forward to shift her angle of view. Erik noticed the sharp contrast between her red hair and her skin. He felt his hands itch to touch, to feel. He wanted to sit on his hands, like a child, but that would draw too much attention. Who knew what Charles would do to someone of an inappropriate age who showed too much interest in his sister? “We talked about it, and we think you’re right.”

“I’m right about what?” Erik didn’t remember ever having any conversations with either of them that involved armies.

“We have to do something,” Charles said. “Things can’t go on like this. There has to be more push back.”

“And you intend to do that?”

“Yes,” they said in chorus. As if it was the simplest thing in the world to wage war on society at large.

It strengthened his decision to stay with them, no matter where the Xaviers went. If he wasn’t there, they would get themselves killed before they could step foot on their own land.

“Checkmate,” Raven announced with a pleased grin. Her teeth were stark and white against the brilliance of her skin.

March 1, 1957

“So this is it,” Erik said, looking up at the sprawling mansion. Spring was fighting the hard grip of winter, but it would be a month or two yet before the chill left the air. Their breath streamed in front of them like smoke, and Raven still felt cold underneath several shirts and a coat. She even had on gloves.

“This is it,” Raven said. She reached forward and linked her arms with Charles’s. Then she grabbed Erik’s hand and coaxed him into letting her do the same. She liked to remind them that they were hers, from time to time, and casual touch was a part of that.

“Home, sweet home,” Charles said with only a little bitterness in his voice. His memories of this place were darker than hers, but it couldn’t be helped. They were drawn back to their childhood home, again and again, no matter how far they ran. The past tried to swallow them whole.

Raven tightened her grip on her boys and led them forward. Together, they went inside.

-- -- -- 

Additional Notes: It took them a little longer to get there than it should have, because Charles kept insisting that they stop and rescue kittens from trees.
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