Vee, dearest, this was supposed to be longer and also just better in general but I still hope that you like it ♥ It’s set in the same baby!Rogue ‘verse as At Least The War Is Over, maybe a month or so later.
Title: Send Me The News From A House Down The Road
Fandom: X-Men: First Class
Pairing: Past Charles/Erik, some Raven/Angel and implied Alex/Darwin
Azazel drops her off at the very edge of the estate, but apparently there are no alarms because Raven walks straight up to the front door undisturbed. She’s not sure if that’s a sign that security is now so high-tech that it’s undetectable or just that Charles is still stupidly trusting but, either way, Raven isn’t reassured.
Charles, she thinks clearly, stepping over the threshold. I’m breaking into your house.
It’s your house too, Charles replies immediately. We’re in the back garden.
Raven snorts. What Charles calls the ‘back garden’ is what anyone else would call several acres of land and lakes and orchards. Her heels click, clack on the wooden flooring, echoing around the empty hallway. The floor is less polished than it used to be, dust swept into corners like tiny snowdrifts. It suits the place, Raven thinks.
She can hear the excited yells and bright laughter before she reaches the kitchen, which is another thing that’s changed since her childhood here. She and Charles had fun, sure, but they were always careful to keep quiet in case they reminded Cain that they existed.
Raven pauses for a moment in the kitchen doorway, quickly transforming herself into someone non-descript and mousy, the kind of Goldilocks person who the others won’t look twice at.
She finds Charles out on the lawn, the wheels of his chair sunk an inch deep into soft turf. He’s watching Anna Marie, who’s running around with her hair streaming behind her and being chased by –
Raven’s knees feel suddenly wobbly.
“Charles,” she breathes, before she’s close enough for him technically to be able to hear her. He glances over his shoulder and smiles, anyway.
“Good afternoon,” he says, as though she’s a guest who’s dropped around for tea, not a deserter taking advantage of her brother’s sentimentality to gatecrash his afternoon.
She stops beside him, eyes locked on the lawn. “That’s Darwin.” It is, it definitely is. She saw him blown to tiny, irredeemable pieces but there he is, chasing Anna Marie with a water pistol.
“Ninety-eight percent of him so far, yes,” Charles agrees. There’s an edge to his voice that Raven wouldn’t recognise if she didn’t know him so well; she thinks it sounds like relief.
Raven glances over at him. He’s already looking up at her and it’s strange, being taller than him, even though it shouldn’t be; she’s been in plenty of bodies before that are taller than Charles.
“How?” she asks.
Charles purses his lips then smiles slightly. “Will you accuse me of being terribly trite if I say the power of love?” he asks.
Raven blinks at him. “Yes,” she says. “Also, what the hell?”
Charles just smiles, waving around that inscrutable smile that he’s always known exactly how to infuriate her with. “Anna Marie,” he calls, raising his voice and ignoring Raven. “Careful!”
When Raven looks up, Anna Marie is sitting on the grass, staring at her hands in interest. Alex is flat on his back in front of her, blinking and dazed looking. Raven is pretty sure Anna Marie must have run into him and he isn’t wearing a shirt.
“Shit, Charles,” Raven says, starting forward.
Wait, Charles tells her. Watch.
So Raven watches, having to breathe deep to calm herself so she won’t just go rushing in to check that they’re both okay. What the fuck is Charles thinking, she wants to know, letting anyone walk around half dressed while someone with Anna Marie’s powers is near?
Darwin kneels down next to Alex, touching his shoulder and murmuring something Raven doesn’t catch. Alex shakes his head, but he doesn’t shrug away Darwin’s hand like Raven would have expected.
“Look!” Anna Marie says suddenly, as lethal, glimmery red sparks shoot from her fingers, trailing tracer-bright up toward the clouds.
Darwin laughs, elbowing Alex. “Dude! She worked out in ten seconds what it took you, what, all your life to work out?”
Alex punches Darwin in the side and Darwin folds too easily, collapsing on top of him, still laughing.
“Rogue,” Darwin calls from under Alex. “You rock!”
Anna Marie shrugs, like she didn’t expect anything else, but Raven catches her beaming grin once Darwin is distracted by Alex again.
“Rogue?” Raven asks Charles.
“The children decided she needed a code name too,” Charles says. “Do you like it?” He sounds almost hesitant, like he thinks she actually deserved a say.
“Does she?” Raven asks instead because that’s the important thing.
Charles spreads his hands, that annoying tick he picked up from the family therapist his mom decided they should all see during one of her sober phases. “Why don’t you ask her?”
“Fuck you,” Raven says pleasantly. “And yeah, not right now.”
Anna Marie looks like she’s having fun. Her grip on Alex’s power is fading and she’s looking at Sean thoughtfully like she’d like to try his on next.
“Noo,” Sean says, hopping backwards, hands flying up to his throat like that’ll stop her borrowing his powers. “No, you did me yesterday and it felt fuc- freaking weird. Why don’t you do Hank, huh? Blue is definitely your colour.”
“Beast’s fluffy,” Anna Marie agrees, grinning, “but Mystique’s blue. I don’t want to copy.”
Raven doesn’t know why just hearing Anna Marie say her name makes something warm squirm in her stomach. It’s possible she didn’t really expect Anna Marie to remember her after Raven gave her away.
Darwin finally rolls away from Alex, spreading his arms out, starfish-like on the grass. “Hey, Rogue? Try and steal my powers.”
Alex sits up. “Dude,” he warns. “You aren’t all back yet, remember?”
Darwin shrugs. “I want to test something.”
Anna Marie approaches him slowly. “How will we know if it’s worked?” she asks cautiously, sensibly in Raven’s opinion.
“Eh, dunk you in the lake,” Sean says, grinning.
Anna Marie turns around and sticks her tongue out.
“Come on,” Darwin says, holding out his hand. “Trust me.”
Anna Marie pulls off one of her tiny, yellow gloves and presses her palm to Darwin’s. He doesn’t keel over like Alex did, just sort of blinks, a muscle jumping in his jaw when he tenses.
“Darwin?” Alex asks and even Sean takes a step forward.
Darwin’s skin seems to ripple for a few long moments and Raven sneaks a glance at Charles. His hands are white-knuckled around the arms of his chair, which makes her feel better; Charles has always been a know-all, but she’s not sure how she’d feel if he actually did know everything.
Raven looks back at the lawn. Anna Marie is biting her lip hard, trying to snatch back her hand but Darwin’s holding on tight.
“There,” he says after another minute, breathing out hard and wiping sweat from his forehead with a slightly shaky hand. “I thought so.”
“What?” Alex demands. “What’s it done to you?”
Darwin turns a bright, happy smile on Anna Marie. “Nothing,” he says.
Anna Marie’s eyes widen. “Nothing?” she echoes like she can hardly believe it. Raven can’t either.
Darwin spreads his arms. “Want a hug, little one?”
Anna Marie sort of folds into him like her strings have been cut, throwing her arms around him and pressing her face into his neck. He ripples again but that’s all then hugs her back, grinning smugly up at Alex.
There are tears on Raven’s cheeks but she ignores them – just because she was once a little mutant girl in desperate need of a hug too doesn’t mean she has to get stupid about it.
“I wonder how long it’s been since anyone was able to hold her,” Charles muses quietly. He sounds almost clinical about it, but Raven knows how he was brought up; that’s how he sounds when he’s feeling all emotional.
Raven doesn’t want to think about the answer to his question. “I should go,” she says instead. She’s not needed here.
Charles turns to face her full on for the first time. “You could stay for dinner?” he asks hopefully.
Raven shakes her head. They probably still all eat together, and she can’t sit on the outside of their weird and weirdly happy little family right now. “I can’t. I’ve got, I’ve got someone waiting for me.”
That’s not true, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind. She didn’t mean to imply that that someone was Erik, but she can see from Charles’ tiny wince that that’s what he’s assumed. She doesn’t correct him, not when she’s suddenly so desperate to get out of here.
Charles nods slowly. “All right, of course. Please say, um...” He trails off.
“Say what? Hi, to Erik?” Raven asks. Charles flinches and she immediately feels bad. “Sorry, I’m sorry. I will though, if you want?” she adds more gently.
She doesn’t need to be a telepath to feel him fighting his desire to say yes. Eventually, he stops trying. “Yes, please. Thank you.”
Raven shrugs. “Maybe I’ll bring him along next time.” She won’t, not unless Erik has a sudden personality shift or a stubbornness-ectomy but that’s not the point. The point is to make Charles smile wistfully and maybe, just a little bit, to check that she’ll be welcome next time too.
“He’s always welcome,” is all Charles says. He glances away then back, gaze suddenly twice as piercing. “As are you.”
Raven rolls her eyes. “Quit reading my mind,” she tells her, even though she was probably projecting that one pretty loud.
“Bye, Raven,” Charles says quietly.
Raven casts one more look at Anna Marie, who’s still curled up in Darwin’s arms, Alex watching them and looking like he might be having a feeling. It wouldn’t be fair to say anything to her now, Raven thinks, not now she’s found somewhere to belong.
“Good bye,” Raven echoes.
It’s a long way back to join the others but Raven deliberately didn’t ask Azazel to wait for her. She’s been training more than ever and she’s pretty sure she can get there under her own steam. She shimmers back into her natural form and starts to run.
By the time she gets back, it’s late and Raven’s exhausted. The house is quiet, everyone retreated back to their own rooms the way they always do because they might have been thrown together for now, but they don’t actually like each other all that much.
Well, she kind of likes Erik - sometimes, when he’s not being a stubborn jerk - but she’s not going to tell him that or anything. She’s seen him try to handle being liked: Charles ended up with a bullet in his spine.
Raven showers and pads back to her bedroom without dressing. They’re the House of Mutant Pride, or whatever, they can deal with seeing her body the way it’s meant to be seen.
Angel is sitting up in Raven’s bed, reading. That’s a surprise although maybe not as much of one as it should be.
“Hey,” she says, putting her book down. “How was it?” She looks like she wants Raven to say it was shitty.
Raven shrugs, crawling across the bed and lying down with her head on the comforter. “Fine. The kid’s fine.”
Angel strokes her hair back from her face. “Decide not to bring her home with you?” she asks softly.
Raven starts. She hadn’t realised Angel even knew she’d thought of it. “She’s happy,” she says after a long pause where she tries to think of any other plausible reason.
Angel hums something and rolls over onto her stomach, leaning down and kissing Raven slowly. Raven feels kind of dazed and kind of better about the world by the time she’s finished.
“You know I don’t think this is a good place for a kid,” Angel tells her, “but if you do…” She lets it hang.
Fuck but Raven wants to. She could do it, she thinks. Even if she and Angel weren’t this… whatever they are now, Raven could raise Anna Marie by herself. But she’s not going to. She wanted Anna Marie to have a family and now she does; the hardest part is realising that that family doesn’t have to be Raven.
“Yeah. No,” she says and pulls Angel down toward her. “Kiss me again?” she asks because she doesn’t want to think anymore.
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