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Title: Beggars at the Feast (part 1 of 4)
Fandom: X-Men: First Class
Rating: Very light R- some language and sexual content
Characters: Raven, Erik, Emma, Charles, Angel (Salvadore), Azazel, Janos Quested (Riptide), Dominikos Ioannis Petrakis (Avalanche)
Pairings: Erik/Raven, background Janos/Angel. Hint at Charles/Erik and future Azazel/Raven
Summary: Explores the early days of the Brotherhood, Raven's relationship with Magneto and her evolution into Mystique.
A/N: Discussion of body image, food issues.
Prompt: Written for a prompt back in 2011 in 1stclass_kink , asking for Emma making a critical comment to Raven about weight/dieting and involving Erik in the argument, expecting him to agree, but he (having witnessed enough emaciated bodies to last him a lifetime) has quite a different view. Bonus points for Erik's own food insecurities, that Raven picks up on.

Also on AO3



The first night, after the beach, they spend at the Hellfire Club. Angel makes the introductions and Azazel shows them around. They're in the private living area for the Club's members, far enough from the dancers that they can hardly hear the music. When they get to the kitchen area, Erik opens the fridge and cabinets, inspecting the content closely. There isn't much, seeing as how Shaw's people spent most of their time on a Sub. Erik's people, Raven reminds herself. 'They're our people now'.

She feels like she just tumbled through the rabbit hole and nothing makes sense anymore. Just this morning everything was right with the world- She was in her home, with her brother and friends and they were going to stop a madman from starting World War III. Now she's standing by Erik's side, under the same roof as the people she tried to stop and Charles-

Her breath hitches and she tries to calm her racing heart. Charles is fine, he has to be. Hank said the uniforms were bullet proof and there was no blood on the bullet. He was just winded, that's all. It probably still hurt, but he's fine. Moira would have found a way to get them back home. 'Maybe we shouldn't have left so fast,' Raven bites her lower lip. 'Maybe we should have gotten Azazel to drop them off first.' She glances at the red demon and he looks her up and down, a lascivious smile gracing his face and a hint of sharp teeth. She blushes and quickly looks away and tries to catch Erik's eye. But Erik doesn't notice, too caught up in his own thoughts. She doesn't like the look she sees in his eyes, the deadness of it.

"Erik-" She starts.

"We should get some sleep," Erik tells the room at large, avoiding her gaze. He walks off, his shoulders stiff and his step heavy. She thinks of him cradling Charles' head on his lap, keeping everyone away and dropping the missiles. She wonders, not for the first time, how close the two of them really got and what went on during their 'chess matches'.

Jealously flares in the pit of her stomach as she thinks of Charles and his cheesy pick up lines and the string of one night stands he used to bring home. She would have done anything, been anyone, if he'd just look at her, really look at her. All she wanted was for him to look at her with half the adoration he'd look at Erik with. For him to treat her as more than just his baby sister, more than just a cute pet he needed to take care of. 'Just the first in a long line of strays,' Raven thinks to herself.

"Come on, I'll show you to your room," Angel smiles at her tentatively, her singed wing twitching slightly. It's an olive branch Raven doesn't want to accept, but she nods tersely. She still remembers the time they spent together at the CIA- her, Angel, Hank, Alex, Sean and Armando. They were just being kids- showing off their powers, playing around and creating code names for themselves, like it was all one big game. Well it's not a game now, it's a war and while Angel and Raven are on the same side, she can't help but feel resentful towards Angel.

Angel, who pretended to be their friend- Raven finally thought she had a girl friend- only to stab them all in the back when she went with Shaw. Armando died because of her, trying to shield her, and she still went with that murdering psychopath. And Raven might have accepted her choice, if she hadn't tried to kill Sean and Alex on the beach. How could she attack them without even a moment's hesitation? Did the time she spent with them mean nothing to her? Was she just pretending all along, waiting for a better deal?

Angel leads her quietly to a comfortable room with a fully stocked mini-bar, a double bed, a closet and no windows. Angel wisely leaves her alone, closing the door after her. Raven lies down on the bed warily, shifting into her natural nude self. She covers herself with ridiculously soft sheets and wonders what Charles would think about the room.

'He'd probably say it's a very lovely prison cell', Raven smiles to herself. She wonders if he'd possibly change his mind and join them. A small vindictive part of her hopes he never does, knowing that she could never compete with Charles. That whenever Erik and Charles were in the same room, it was like nothing else in the world existed, but them. The bigger part just wants her big brother back. Wants him to be happy, wants to go back home. But most of all she wants to erase that dead look she saw earlier in Erik's eyes, a look that says that there's a piece missing in his heart he might never get back.


~*~


Raven sleeps fretfully that night and wakes up at dawn. She debates whether to create clothes or not- Erik seemed to think she should be in her natural form, but she wasn't comfortable yet around the others. In the end she puts on a bathrobe she finds in the closet and pads down to the kitchen area, hoping to be able to dredge up something for breakfast. Maybe cereal or some crackers, she thought she saw some in the pantry. When she reaches the kitchen, she sees that Riptide and Angel are already there, a dazed and confused look on their faces.

"What is it?" She asks worriedly. Did the CIA find out where they went? Are they after them?

"Magneto went shopping," Angel says slowly, obviously still shocked. It takes Raven a moment to register the name and then she tastes something bitter in her mouth. She swallows down her anger. Magneto- that was the name she gave Erik. How dare Angel use it like she has a right?

She wants to yell at her, to smash her stupid friendly expression, but instead she asks: "Shopping?"

Angel motions with her head in the general direction of the fridge and pantry, so Raven heads over there cautiously, wondering what he could have possibly bought that freaked the two out. She opens the pantry and her eyes widen. There are piles of canned foods, boxes of crackers and cereals, packages of pastas and rice. She opens the fridge and sees vegetables and fruit, cheeses and milk. She reaches for the door of the freezer and sees frozen chicken and what looks suspiciously like ice cream.

"What the-?"

"Good, you're all up."

Raven jumps a foot in the air and the three of them turn guiltily to see Erik and Azazel standing in the entrance, having just popped in.

"You bought food," Raven says stupidly. "Wait, when did you buy all this?"

"If you didn't eat yet, you should," Erik tells her, before addressing the rest. "Pack whatever you need, we're moving."

"Moving?" Raven asks, while she pours some Cheerios and milk into a bowl. "Moving where?"

"There's a safe house Azazel and I scouted, not far from the Canadian border. We'll stay there until we know how the Government plans to proceed and then we'll move on."

"But we just got here!" Angel exclaims. "And I dig this place, it's got style."

"This is Shaw's club, we can't stay here," Erik's voice sends chills down Raven's spine. She has no idea what the history was between Shaw and Erik, but she can feel the waves of cold hatred rolling off of Erik. "And I am not running a strip club."

"So we just leave it?" Angel asks frowning. "This place has got to be worth a fortune."

Erik stops for a moment, considering. "You're right, we should sell it. We should use all of Shaw's finances to support our cause. Azazel-" he turns to the man besides him. "Who would know about the Hellfire Club's finances, now that Shaw is dead?"

"Emma Frost- the telepath- knows where the bodies are buried," Azazel says, sharing a look with Riptide. "Shaw found her very useful with many things."

"The CIA have her," Erik says, contemplating. "How loyal was she to Shaw and can she be persuaded to join us?"

"She shared his vision," Riptide says carefully, his accent halting his speech. "But he never treated her well. I don't think she will mourn his death. Free her from the CIA and she will probably follow you."

"I see," Erik muses. "A telepath could be very useful on our side."

'I bet you wish it was a different telepath, though,' Raven thinks, as she eats a spoonful of her Cheerios.

"We'll talk more once we've settled at the safe house," Erik decides finally. "You have one hour to get ready, then we leave." He turns and goes upstairs. Azazel disappears, leaving Riptide, Angel and Raven alone in the kitchen.

"I don't get him," Angel mutters to herself angrily. "Why go to all the trouble of stocking the pantry and the fridge if we weren't going to stay? Why bother?" She gets up angrily and thuds upstairs.

Raven doesn't have an answer, but the question lingers with her, making her feel uneasy. Erik's behavior sparks a memory of herself when she was little, not long after she moved in to his home in Westchester.


~*~



She used to keep a box in her closet, under a pile of blankets. She had just put an extra item in the box, when Charles came in without knocking. "Raven! You wouldn't believe what I just read-"

"Charles!" She spun guiltily, trying to shove the closet door closed, hoping he wouldn't notice.

"Wouldn't notice what?" He asked curiously, peering at her intently.

"Nothing," she said shakily, trying very hard not to think about the box in her closet.

"You have a box in your closet?" He asked, getting excited. "What's in it?"

"None of your business!" She raised her voice. "And stop going into my head- you promised!"

"I know, I'm sorry," Charles was suddenly abashed. "I don't mean to, it's just… You're thinking really loud and I don't know how to not hear." He looked so crestfallen that she immediately felt guilt gnawing at her insides. This was Charles, who wasn't afraid of her blue form, who let her live at his house with his family.

"I'm sorry I got angry," she told the floor.

"It's ok," he shrugged, his eyes filled with compassion. "I just don't want us to keep any secrets from each other."

"I'm not- it's not a secret," she said. "It's just stupid. You'll think I'm stupid and laugh at me." She sat down on her bed and tried not to look at him. He sat down next to her and put an arm around her.

"I promise not to laugh," he said gently. "And I won't tell a soul, I promise." She looked up into his kind eyes and something in her caved. She nodded once before walking over to her closet and dragging out the box. She took a deep breath, before opening the lid and letting him see inside.

He looked at the content of the box, his eyebrows drawn together in confusion. "But that's-"

"Food, I know," she said quietly. There were cans and cheese crackers, a loaf of bred and bottles of water.

"The kitchen is fully stocked; you don't need to keep food in your room." He said slowly, trying to understand.

'You don't get it,' she thought. 'It might not always be there, or I might not-' She stopped her train of thought and shook her head. "I like to have food in my room, because… Because I might not always want to go to the kitchen. What if I get hungry in the middle of the night and I'm too tired to go? So I have food here. I told you it was silly." She breathed out the lie and hoped he didn't hear her thoughts.

"Alright," he said, clearly knowing there's more but not willing to push. "But I still don't think you're stupid." His eyes were filled with love and understanding and she took a moment to bask in it, to let Charles' warmth chase away all her fears.

"You said you read something," she prodded him and his eyes lit up with excitement. He started babbling about Darwin and evolution and she zoned him out. She never could keep up with that brain of his, but for now she was content to just let his lilting voice wash over her and take her away from all her thoughts and worries. She lay down on the bed and listened to him until she dozed off.


~*~



In the end they take the fridge with them to their new (temporary) headquarters and a bag filled with cans and packages from the pantry. Azazel grumbles something in Russian, but makes all the necessary trips. After that day, Erik is busy planning- how to rescue Emma Frost, how to recruit new mutants, different responses to different reactions the Government might have, some strategic maneuvers. Erik doesn't have time to do shopping, but he eyes the contents of the fridge critically and counts the cans and packages.

Nobody comments on his strange behavior, but Raven goes out once a week and makes sure that the pantry and fridge are full. One day when she comes back with bags from the market, shedding her blonde persona on her way to the kitchen, Erik looks up from blueprints he and Azazel are going over and watches her restock. She can swear she can see gratitude in his eyes, before the mask comes down again and he goes back to his battle plans. Or maybe it's just a reflection off that shiny helmet of his.

A week later they infiltrate the CIA and a few things change from that day on. The first is that they only use their code names, even among themselves- their 'Mutant names', as Magneto calls it. Raven might have come up with the name 'Mystique', but that doesn't mean it's not an adjustment in their every day lives. The second is that Magneto seems to have found his inner theatrics, because he wears a ridiculous costume and cape whenever he's out in public. The third is that they bring Emma Frost back with them.

She eyes the safe house with scorn and brushes off a chair before sitting in it. "This is… Homey," she says with a tight grin. "When can we leave?"

"We need to secure Shaw's finances, before we make any further plans," Magneto tells her pointedly.

"And that's where I come in," her smile is as perfect as a beauty pageant's. She turns her penetrating gaze on Angel and Raven. "But where do you two come in? I see Shaw didn't bother waiting before getting himself a new 'queen'," she says to Angel, who winces slightly. "I'm not mad at you sugar, I expected no less from him." She looks at Raven, as if dissecting her like an insect and Raven wishes she had some clothes on, so she'd feel less exposed. "I see we're taking on charity cases as well."

"Mystique is an asset and an equal here," Magneto's tone brokers no argument. "We are all brethren here, there's a place among us for any of our kind who chooses to join."

Raven tries not to preen at Magneto's words, but she can't help feeling smug. Magneto needs her, she's 'an asset'. He was the one who reached out for her on the beach and asked her to join him. He called her beautiful, told her she was perfect just the way she was and kissed her gently. It might have been chaste, but it was a promise that she will make sure he keeps. Emma eyes her coolly and Raven knows there will be trouble.



Part 2