...yeah, I did another one. WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE, MOVIE.

When I Get There
by gale

SUMMARY: In which Irene tries to explain how her power works, Raven gets life advice, and the ladies agree to take turns.


Irene is like no one Raven's ever met.

The mutants she's met are joyous about their abilities (Charles), or happy to just show off (Alex and Armando and Sean), or boiling with ill-banked fury at the way the world is (Erik and, the more she's starting to realize, Raven herself). Hank is the saddest; he'd been ashamed before the serum hadn't worked, and now he stays to myself unless otherwise ordered to interact with them.

Irene is...blasé. Easily amused. She's hard to surprise, and confident in a way that Raven envies even when she's in her own skin. She changes the radio station on the drive back to the house, and tilts her head at Raven like she's shooting her little glances - impossible, of course, because she's blind, but that feels like what she's doing. It's unnerving, but not in a bad way.

She tilts her head up at the mansion, idly waiting for Raven - and her bag - to catch up. "It's nice," she says. "A little too large for the amount of people in it, but that'll be fixed soon enough. How did Charles keep you from his parents?"

Raven blinks at her. "How did--right, your power."

"Educated guess," Irene corrects. "I see the future, not the past. If it's already happened and I don't know about it, I'm as clueless as anyone else."

"But you know I'm not his sister."

"I know he calls you his sister," Irene says. "I've seen him do it in the future." She stops and turns her head at Raven, like she's looking at her. "...I know, it's unnerving. I'm just used to it."

"Huh." Raven shrugs and gets out her keys. They've talked about Hank putting in something more complicated, some kind of fingerprint scanner or whatever, but it's just talk right now. "I only asked him once, right after. He convinced them they were adopting me, and should start the paperwork. It was easier than trying to convince everyone who knew them that they'd always had two children." Or, well, three, but Raven hates thinking about Cain. Besides, he was Kurt Marko's kid, not Sharon's, and he's not here. She scowls and opens the door.

--and almost walks into the coat rack that's currently lurching towards her.

Raven drops Irene's bag and half-turns, kicking out with one leg. The coat rack, old and wooden, makes a satisfying cracking noise but doesn't stop moving.

"What's--whoa," Sean says, stopping in the doorway, Ororo behind him.

"Jean!" Charles shouts from the stairs. "Put it down!"

The coat rack falls with a clatter. Raven, who's trying to kick it again - she's pretty sure this one will actually break it, enough to stop the momentum - overbalances and slams to the ground. She groans.

"Blast," she hears Charles say, and then there's thundering down the stairs. "Raven--"

"It's fine, Charles," Irene says, and touches Raven's face. "Are you all right?"

"'m fine," Raven groans. "My ass broke my fall." She blinks a couple of times and pushes herself up on one elbow. "What happened?"

"I'm sorry!" a girl - yeah, that's a girl, 13 if she's a day, with coppery red hair and green eyes, clearly terrified - says, skidding to a stop beside Charles. She's wearing overalls and looks like she's going to bust into tears. "I'm so sorry, I just - I was trying to show off--"

"It's fine," Raven says. "I've done worse to myself. Maybe try not to brain me with a coat rack again." She offers a smile. "Hi. I'm Raven."

"Hi," the girl says, and looks slightly less miserable, more awed. "You're blue."

"Hmn?" She glances down at herself. "Ah." She'd kept the false face in the car in case they got stopped, but it really is easier to just stay this way. She'd probably shifted back before the kick. "Yeah, I am. This is how I really look."

"It's neat," the girl says, and smiles a little. "I'm Jean. Do you live here, too?"

"Yeah, I do. We all d--you can come in," Raven says, glancing at the doorway.

"Sorry," Sean says, a little pink. "I just--you know, coat rack."

"You can echolocate a sub, but a coat rack scares you? Weak, Cassidy." She gets to her feet, only grabbing for Irene's arm once, and brushes her skirt off. At least it's not torn. It might feel more natural to just be in her own skin, but she's resigned herself to wearing clothes around other people, and she'd like to look nice.

"Raven," Charles says breathlessly, and: You're sure you're all right?

Raven tenses for a second, then makes herself relax. Projecting his thoughts isn't like reading her mind, the same way changing her skin isn't the same as altering her voice. They're just parts of the same ability. Projecting's okay. "I'm fine," she says out loud. "Just startled."

"Coat rack," Sean says helpfully.

"That was me," the redhead says, embarrassed. "I'm not good at it yet."

"Raven, Sean, Ororo," Charles says, "this is Jean Grey. She'll be joining us. She's a telekinetic." Off their blank looks, he adds, "She moves things with her mind."

There's something else to it, Raven knows - she knows that look on Charles' face, like he's telling you 95% of the truth - but she won't pry it out of him right now. "Hi, Jean," she says, and smiles at the girl, who smiles back. "And this is Irene."

Irene waves a little. "Hello."

"Strange," Erik says, appearing at the top of the stairs. Raven's pretty sure his ability to walk into a room without making any noise is a learned skill and not a mutant power; if it's learned, she's gonna make him teach her. "How you just happened to go into town and find another mutant. Unless we're just randomly taking in strays, now."

"Erik," Charles warns, but Irene smiles a little.

"It's fine," she says. "Yes, I'm like you." She turns her head in Erik's direction. "If it'll make you feel better, Charles can read my mind and make sure Schmidt didn't have a back-up plan."

Everyone tenses, at that. It's weird enough to mention Shaw at all, let alone his real name. Raven mentally sends up a little prayer that this won't end with anyone leaving or breaking the house or something.

The metal ball at the end of the banister crumples, making finger-sized dents in the metal. Raven winces.

"Stop that," Charles says idly, but doesn't look away from Irene. "I have your permission?"

She nods. "It might be a little more resistance than you're used to, but just give it a stronger push."

Charles touches two fingers to his temple and stares at her. This part's always weird, no matter how many times Raven's seen it. She looks away long enough to mouth "fix it" at Erik and nod at the metal, then looks back at Charles and Irene.

Charles winces and stumbles back. Erik's halfway down the stairs before Raven can take a step, but Irene's pulling his hand away from his temple and looking apologetic. "I should have warned you," she says. "I'm used to it, you see. A little like--"

"--sensory overload, yes," Charles says. "Your shields are very impressive."

"Natural," Irene says. "I didn't have a teacher." She smiles a little. "Until now, if you'll have me. He's fine," she adds, to Erik, who's glaring at her. If she's disturbed by it, she gives no sign. The only other person who's never been a little freaked out when Erik does that is Charles.

Raven's a little irritated by that. She's not sure why.

"It's fine, Erik," Charles says. "Irene is a precognitive."

"She sees the future," Ororo says, speaking up for the first time in about an hour. She's been pretty quiet so far, but even Charles isn't pushing her to talk, and he can get pushy when he wants to. "Also, she's blind."

Erik stops glaring and looks at her more cannily. "I see."

"Good to know one of us does," Irene says, smirking a little. "So! Where's my room?"

*

The Xavier estate has a truly ridiculous amount of rooms. Irene takes one of the smaller ones (which isn't saying a lot, since it's still roughly the size of a really nice hotel suite) and opens her suitcase, begins removing neatly stacked clothes. There's nothing too extravagant, but everything is neat and clean and well-cared-for.

Raven hovers in the doorway and watches her. You'd never know Irene was blind, if you didn't see her eyes, or the way she very occasionally hesitates before taking a step. You'd maybe think she was a movie star, or hungover, but not blind. "Why do you wear the sunglasses?" she hears herself ask.

"Why do you wear clothes?" Irene asks, in the same tone of voice. She doesn't turn from what she's doing.

"Because I live with a bunch of teenage boys and my brother, and they all fluster easily," Raven says. "When I'm by myself, I usually don't."

"Exactly," Irene says, and takes her glasses off, setting them on the bed. She turns to look at Raven. "Better?"

Raven looks at her. The scars are less prominent than she'd thought, but still the first thing you see; that, and the milky-white eyes. But just for a second. Then she's distracted by more important things: the sly way Irene's mouth curves into a smile, and the way one wisp of hair's escaped her ponytail and hangs over her ear, framing her face. She wonders, idly, what color Irene's eyes are. Or were.

"Blue-green," Irene says, before Raven can say anything. "When I was a child, anyway. I've been blind since birth, but you could actually see my eyes back then." She kicks her shoes off and wiggles her sock feet - men's dress socks, the silky ones - against the hard wood floors, drops to sit on the bed. She bounces a little.

Raven steps into the room and suddenly feels overdressed. "You don't seem surprised," she says. "Most people are shocked they're not the only one."

"I see the future," Irene says. "It's hard to surprise me, I'm afraid." She looks over. "Do you--Raven, you can sit. You've lived here longer, but I'm certain you'd tell me if the furniture was prone to biting."

"I know!" She lingers for another minute, then sits on the edge of the bed, the suitcase between her and Irene.

Irene just looks amused. Raven feels her cheeks heat.

"You know," Irene says, "I meant to tell you something earlier, but the attack coat rack distracted me." She reaches out and tugs on a lock of Raven's hair. "Raven--"

"Raven!" one of the kids shouts - Scott, from the pitch of his voice. "Help!"

"Just a second," Raven says, and bolts to her feet. "I'll be right back," she says, and makes her escape before Irene can say anything else.

*

The thing is, Raven's never really liked anyone before.

Not romantically, anyway. She's had sex before, and she sort of liked Hank (and still likes him, but not like that); she still harbors what feels like lingering traces of a crush on Erik, but she's not sure if that's more ideological or physical, and either way that...isn't an option, really. (As soon as Charles figures it out, anyway, which: it's Charles, it might be a while yet.)

Irene's different. Irene makes her feel fifteen and stupid and tongue-tied, like Raven doesn't fit into her own skin. Which is funny, because Raven literally always fits into her skin; that's the whole point. But not around Irene. It's weird. And scary. And great, which no one ever told her. She wants to giggle a really stupid amount.

She groans and faceplants onto her bed.

From the doorway, some time later, she hears someone ask, "You grow gills, too? Because I don't think you can breathe facedown on the bed, Raven."

"Go 'way," she mumbles, but turns over to look up at Armando. "And no, I didn't. It's just easier than moving to be all emotive and confused on my back."

"Uh-huh." He just looks at her, amused. "Well, as long as you're okay--"

"Wait!" Armando actually might know something about this. He's actually a little older than she is; he's lived in the world, in his own skin, among other people. He didn't trail around after his older brother who could constantly protect him and keep him sheltered and--okay, no, Raven, focus. You're not mad at Charles. You just need someone to talk to. "Um. Can I talk to you about something?"

"Is it mutant stuff?"

"Not really."

"Then go ahead," Armando says. Raven gives him a look. "What? I barely know what I do, Raven, and I apparently missed something on the beach that makes everyone go all quiet and awkward when I ask about it."

"I'll catch you up," Raven says, "when we're done." She shakes her head. "This is life stuff."

"Life stuff I can do," Armando says. "Hit me." He edges the door mostly closed - but not entirely, which Raven appreciates - and sits in the desk chair.

Raven takes a deep breath. "I like someone."

Armando doesn't blink. "Okay. Is it Hank?"

"No. Don't get me wrong," she says quickly, "Hank's great, and I really like him, but I don't--"

"--you don't like him-like him," Armando finishes. "Even with the fur?"

Raven narrows her eyes. "I know he hates it. And that's--that's fine, for Hank. I just. I don't get why everyone but Erik thinks it's weird that he looks like that. He always had a physical mutation, it's just that now he can't hide it in shoes."

"Other people think it's cool," Armando says. "Alex won't shut up about it." And there's something in his tone at that, but Raven puts it aside for the moment. If she asked, it's not like he'd tell her. "And quit trying to change the subject."

"I'm n--okay, fine, I am." She sits up and pushes herself against the pillows. "I. It's Irene, okay? I like Irene." She waits for a few seconds, then peers at Armando, trying to read his face.

Armando just looks at her. "Okay," he says slowly. "Still...not seeing the problem."

"Irene is a girl," Raven says.

"Yeah, I got that part."

"I am also a girl."

"Technically," Armando says, "you're a shapeshifter. You can be a girl or a boy. Or neither."

"...oh." She's never really thought of it like that, but it's not incorrect. She's always Raven, but is she any less of a girl when she's pretending to be Sean? Is she really any older when she makes herself look thirty to try and impress Erik? She should be thinking about stuff like that, not pretty blondes and how it'd sound if Irene laughed and whether or not oh my God, Raven, stop it.

"Way I see it," Armando says, breaking her out of it, "you tell Irene or you don't. If you don't, then you don't have to worry about her not liking you back, but you don't get to be happy, either. If you do..." He shrugs. "You see what she says, and you go from there."

"Yeah," Raven says, "that's sort of what I was afraid you'd say."

*

Raven waits a couple of days, just thinking.

She keeps busy: she's teaching the younger kids basic gymnastics, mostly tumbling and low beam work, and alternates between picking locks and learning French. (The learning multiple languages thing isn't a requisite or anything, but it's not a bad idea; Erik speaks at least four, counting English, and Charles can learn one in about thirty seconds, the cheater.)

She's not really avoiding Irene, but she's not seeking her out, either. If Irene's upset, she doesn't give any sign; she spends a lot of time with Hank and Charles - and Erik, of all people. Raven catches her once, gently chiding Sean for wanting to know the future.

"What's the fun in that?" Irene says. She's sitting on the sofa, reading a Braille version of Call of the Wild.

"Come on!"

She sighs and looks at him. "So if I tell you your cousin Thomas is going to eventually turn into a giant tree that tries to eat people--"

"Tom?" Sean looks incredulous. "He's not even a mutant."

"Are you sure?" She arches an eyebrow at him.

Sean looks at her, gobsmacked. "I--I gotta go talk to Hank," he blurts out, and hurries off.

Irene just smiles and looks back at her book. Raven smiles, too, and turns to go.

"Why have you been avoiding me?" Irene calls.

Raven freezes and mouths a curse, turns back around. "I haven't," she says. It sounds weak even to her own ears.

Irene just looks at her.

"Okay," Raven says, "I have. I'm sorry." She blows out a breath and flumps onto the sofa beside her. "I was - I had things to think about."

"Mmn." Irene's quiet for a minute. Then, with no warning: "You know, I didn't think you and I were going to meet. We don't, always."

Raven frowns at her. "What do you mean?"

"I see the future," Irene says. "Nothing's a surprise to me, not really. I don't - the fun, for me, is watching other people be surprised. It's why I don't like to tell people about it. There are other considerations, of course."

It's an interesting idea. "Like what?"

"If I tell you Charles is going to be dead in a week," Irene says, "what would you do?"

Raven's heart stops.

"He won't, of course," Irene adds, and it starts again. "He doesn't die for - oh, years yet. But if he was supposed to die, and I told you, and you tried to stop it, would that actually stop it? Or would it somehow ensure that he died?" She puts the book aside. "Things didn't end the way they were supposed to."

Raven looks at her, waiting for an explanation. When Irene doesn't offer one, she asks, "What?"

"On the beach," Irene says. She sounds different - not amused, but cooler. Dispassionate. Like she's reading a story out of the newspaper. It makes it worse. "Erik wanted to send the missiles back to the ships. Charles attacked him, trying to get him to stop--"

"Yeah, that happened."

"--and some dark-haired woman was shooting at Erik. He deflected the bullets and one struck Charles in the spine." She tilts her head. "He's supposed to be paralyzed, and you and Erik are supposed to be with the other three. In the original timeline, I mean. Where I don't meet you."

"Stop it," Raven says quietly. All of that sounds horrible. Like it's not bad enough that she was never supposed to meet Irene, but Charles - sweet, idealistic, slightly ridiculous Charles - in a wheelchair? Her stomach churns.

"They break each other's hearts a hundred times. You bear someone else a child; you and I never meet. Jean kills Charles and Scott, among others, and you get shot by a dart containing a cure the humans develop for mutation. Erik abandons you--"

"Stop it!"

"That was what was supposed to happen," Irene says. The coolness is gone from her voice; now she sounds urgent. "I knew it as soon as it happened. It--everything was different. There were a thousand new paths where there had been ten a minute before, and it." She bites her lip. "I should have been here sooner, and I'm sorry I wasn't. It's just--it's hard to explain." She touches her forehead. "And in all of those paths you didn't find me for years, and I hated the idea of it. So I found you first. And I'm not sorry."

Irene's voice breaks on the last part. Raven leans in to touch her face. "Irene--"

Irene leans in and kisses her.

Raven's kissed before; she's been kissed, too. They were fine, but oddly--lacking. She'd wanted to kiss that day at the CIA lab. She'd kissed Erik before he'd sent her away. She's never kissed a woman before.

Dimly, she realizes she likes it. She really likes it. Though, admittedly, that could just be Irene.

"Did we do that?" she asks a moment later, breathless. "In any of your visions?"

"We did that quite a bit," Irene says. She looks dazed. "Of course, you're usually the aggressor--"

"We can take turns," Raven says, and leans back in.








Sean's cousin Tom who will (maybe) one day turn into a homicidal tree is a shout-out to Black Tom, from the comics. (He's also best friends with Cain Marko, Charles' stepbrother, better known as The Juggernaut. On the plus side, Vinnie Jones as James McAvoy's asshole stepbrother is SPOT-ON. Though, again, neither Charles nor Cain are actually British. Oh, movies.)

The horrible future Irene posits actually happens in X-Men: The Last Stand. If you saw it and forgot, though, I totes don't blame you. HOW WERE YOU SO BAD MOV--oh, right, Brett Rattner. Nvm.

This series SHUT UP is also now tentatively titled "M.I.N.A.S.F.S. ("Mutant" Is Not A Synonym For "Shitty")", courtesy of Fall Out Boy and [personal profile] eisen. If you like it, thank her and Pete Wentz; if you hate it, that's on me.
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