Disclaimer: I do not own the X-Men or Professor Xavier. I am simply borrowing them for awhile (who cares if I don't have permission?). This story is nonprofit and purely for entertainment purposes.
Rating: G, nothing bad in here.
Continuity: This story doesn't really need to take place at a set time. Just assume that it is after Onslaught, and that the Professor is at the mansion and also has his powers intact.
Feedback: Always appreciated! You can send all feedback to or to the list. If you want to see more of my work, you can find it at my website: http://members.tripod.com/galaxia_alpha/
Thanks to Faile for the beta read! __________________________________________________________
Crossing the Room By Galaxia Alpha
She was a young woman, not much more than a child really. It was all rather tragic. Her powers hadn't manifested themselves until a few days ago, when she was 18, with the unfortunate timing of erupting in the middle of her graduation ceremony.
He'd heard similar stories all his life. Teenagers, so new to life, having their stability and dreams ripped from their hands. It was a story shared by perhaps all mutants, their mark, their burden to bare. And many of them, knowing no other place to turn, ended up right here, in the office of Charles Francis Xavier at the Xavier Institute for Higher Learning.
She stared at him, her eyes large and brown and terrified, but her chin high with her remaining dignity. He could sense the fighter in her, figured that he would be able to feel it even without his psychic powers.
"How do you feel, child?"
She looked at him, chocolate eyes gaping with a distant emptiness, as if she were trying and failing to focus on him, and then, "I don't know." It came softly, and fell heavily on the ground.
"Do you understand what happened?"
She didn't say anything, as if she hadn't heard. He repeated the question calmly. Her eyes fell to her knees where they were held tightly to her chest in the oversized plush chair. "I'm not sure."
He could tell that she was confused, her mind thrown into shock, scattered, unfocused. The same story again and again. He'd seen that blank stare in too many eyes before, in too many of his own X-Men. It was the distant demeanor that signaled a type of retreat of the mind, a reaction to having one's life whipped about around them. He sympathized with her. He'd had it all happen to him before, so many times and in so many ways.
"Do you know what a mutant is?" He felt like an interrogator, and he hated it. He wished he could simply reach into her mind, slip behind the shell that came between them. Words were so clumsy. But they were necessary now, for her sake.
"Yes." He heard her take a deep, slow, breath. Her gaze rose to meet his again. "Is that what I am?"
He nodded, trying to keep his eyes soft and even, watching her brown ones. Not red or puffy, but clear and empty.
She reached up nervously, pushing some dark strands of hair away from her face where they fell out of her ponytail. There was silence for a moment. "So..." she began uncertainly, "what happens now? ...And why do you care?"
He cocked his head slightly, and leaned forward in his wheelchair onto the polished redwood desk. There was a fire in the fireplace and it projected dancing patterns across the shiny surface of the glazed wood. She was so isolated, and suspicious as a result. She'd just lost everything she knew. He wanted to help her. "Do you know who I am?" He resisted the urge to reach into her mind for the answers. It was one of the constant temptations that he was forced to spend his life fighting so that he might clutch to a tattered sense of decency.
She looked at the nameplate on his desk, her brow wrinkled in confusion. Of course she knew who he was, everybody did. "I've seen you on T.V. a few times, always debating about mutants."
"Yes." He nodded. She didn't know who he really was. Should he tell her? She was a mutant. She needed his help. He had to. "I'm going to tell you something, but I need you to promise me that you'll keep it a secret."
She nodded, the strands of hair falling back into her face.
He needed to be careful. He needed to know he could trust her. There was no choice. He reached very gently into her mind, like a quiet thief sneaking into a treasure filled bedroom. He felt the innocence of youth there, intuited that he could trust her.
"Do you know who the X-Men are?"
The brown eyes focused on him with recognition, but no other reaction came.
"They aren't the traitors the world makes them out to be. They are good people, fighting to save this world that fears and hates them from those who would try to take advantage of it. They are a team, which I have raised member by member, and have trained to help those in need." He watched her expression carefully, knowing that it all sounded fantastical from her point of view, corny and unrealistic. He figured, were he her age, it might sound the same to him.
She pinched herself. Quickly and sharply. He almost smiled. No child, you aren't dreaming. What would she do if she had seen the things he had? Sometimes dreams seemed even more likely than reality.
"Why are you telling me this?" she finally asked. He saw the suspicion enter those wide eyes.
"Because you have a gift. You were blessed with a mutant gene that gave you special powers and you can use these abilities to the benefit of human and mutantkind. You can help us make peaceful coexistence a reality." It sounded too wonderful, so incredible to him, the goal to which he had devoted his live. He wanted so much to give her that feeling of purpose, that drive to change the world, to let her feel the reason he got up every morning when she had just lost her's.
She didn't say anything, keeping her disbelief to herself. But he heard it anyway. She didn't think she had a gift, couldn't see the good in it. The thoughts were nothing new.
"The world hates mutants," she said simply, as if pointing out a fact that he hadn't considered. Her arms tightened around her knees, bringing her body closer in on itself. She looked so afraid, so alone.
He nodded, solemnly, leaning back in his chair once again. "Unfortunately. But the dream is more than hate and fear. I think you should stay with us for a while, see exactly what we do, learn how to control your powers."
She stared at him a moment, unfocused, trying to understand him. He watched her carefully, measuring her up, checking for signs of acceptance. He found none.
Her gaze suddenly lit with fire. The soft chocolate brown darkened and the meekness was gone. "Control my powers? Become a 'hero'? Why?" Her voice was low, almost a whisper. "Do you know what the people out there think of you? They hate you. Don't you understand? They HATE you. They don't care if you want to do good or not, or if I help you. They don't want to live with you in peace. The scars are too deep. Don't you see?" She shook her head vaguely at him, the look on her face warped in wonder at his attitude. Her feelings were projected at him like missiles. He built shields, blocked them out.
"Magneto, Juggernaut, Onslaught, countless others-they've ruined it for you and me. People have died over this..." She stopped, her voice breaking, and a moment later he realized that she had reverted to sobbing. Redness moved in to cover the once clear brown. He fought to hide his reaction, his shock. He hadn't expected her to resist this way.
"How can you still believe?" she said softly, after a time. "My family, my friends, the world hates me now. They would hate you too if they knew you founded the X-Men. How can you help people who don't want your help? Why?"
He took a moment to compose himself, then, very quietly, "Because we dream of a better future."
She didn't say anything for a moment, wiping her tearing eyes. Her voice broke when she spoke again. "You're idealistic. I've lived in that world you talk about saving, I've been bashed over the head with reality. Your dream can never happen. It's a nice sounding fairytale."
And he hadn't been bashed over the head? He hadn't been ripped apart in every way imaginable, dealt uncountable discouragements, been disillusioned too many times? Magneto, Juggernaut, Onslaught.
"Have you truly lost all hope?" He let his disbelief show on his face now. She was so young. He saw this too often.
"No... But that doesn't mean I should believe... I mean... Well..." she hesitated looking down at her knees for a moment, before she met his stare again. "Take your handicap. You can't walk. You probably never will again. You must know that. But do you still hope? Of course. But do you still believe that one day you will just hop up and be healed, do you still try to cross the room?" Her eyes were wide, pleading with him to understand, to see.
He didn't say anything. He couldn't. What could he say? He couldn't meet her eyes.
It took her a moment before she apologized. He nodded and said it was okay, covering his expression with the calm mask of a professor and idealist. One more time he asked if she would stay, if she would give it a chance, let him prove her wrong. She considered it, it seemed like she really did. But her conclusion was the same.
She stood, unwrapping her body from its protective position. "Thank you for trying to help me," she said quietly, the meekness returning. Her cheeks reddened, and he realized she was blushing over her earlier outbreak. "I have a place I can stay at for now." She turned, about to leave, and then looked back remembering something. "I-I won't tell anybody about you or the X-Men."
He nodded. He wished he could trust her. "Someone will escort you back to where we found you." She nodded, meeting his eyes one last time with her brown ones, now slightly bloodshot. He watched her leave, and then gently, reached out with his mind to erase the memory of the last 30 minutes she had spent in his life, at the same time pushing her into a gentle sleep. He sensed Storm outside the door, catching her falling body and lifting it to take it far away from the mansion and back to whence it had come. He couldn't take any chances. After all, he lived in a world that feared and hated him.
She was just like so many others. He'd wanted to help her. He'd lost her.
It was quiet, too quiet. His fingers tapped repetitively over the tabletop, making some noise to compete with the echoing words in his head. Idealist... dream can never happen... fairytale... Do you still try to cross the room? He caught his breath in his throat, held it there, released it slowly. Did you still dream when it was useless? Slowly, carefully, he pushed his wheelchair back away from the desk.
Did you give up when it seemed impossible? Could you hope without believing?
He held tightly to the arms of the chair, knuckles constricted and white, and pushed up with his strong arms. His body stayed like that for a moment, hung suspended in the air.
But do you still hope? But do you still believe...?
He reached forward, with one arm, to the desk a small distance from him, and pulled himself away from the chair, pushed himself free of its support.
They hate you.
He tried to believe. He tried to trust that his legs would catch him, would suddenly regain their strength and hold him upright. He almost did.
They hate you.
He fell, crashing to the floor between the desk and the chair, without even taking a single step, without even beginning to cross the room. Maybe if he hadn't been using his arms to thrust himself forward, away from the chair, he might have been able to catch himself before he hit the ground. But as it was, he came falling down on his face, smashing his nose into the carpeted floor.
The pain was sharp and fast.
They HATE you.
He did not move for a long time.
Could the dream really fail?
When was it time to stop trying to cross the room?
He didn't speak, didn't yell out, didn't make any noise. But alone and lost, eyes staring widely at the blackness of his eyelids, Charles Francis Xavier began silently, to cry.