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Title: Beggars at the Feast (part 3 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


Raven decides that she hates Nebraska. She, Magneto and Riptide arrived yesterday, with the help of Azazel. They were following the trail of minor earthquakes, that preceded small robberies, from Pennsylvania to Illinois and Iowa- before stopping in Nebraska two days ago. The newspaper printed a picture of a young man who was seen right before the robberies in all three states. Magneto figured it had to be a Mutant causing it and someone with the power of earthquakes could be very useful. Emma was on a recon mission with Angel in Washington D.C and Azazel was teleporting from one location to the other. Azazel dropped them off on the outskirts of a snowy Omaha and they were supposed to meet back there the next day to touch base, with or without the new Mutant. Obviously that didn't quite pan out.

Everything started out swell. They got to Omaha and split up in to two rental cars, covering as much ground in the big city as they could. Magneto was, for the first time since the beach, without his helmet and cape, having decided when they arrived that it would look too conspicuous. Raven also figures, though she doesn't say anything, that they were far enough away from Westchester or Washington D.C for Magneto not to have to worry about his mind being read or altered. They went to farms, diners, bars and fishing resorts; they casually asked about the Earthquake from two days ago, trying to glean some information from the locals. Magneto found an abandoned car just outside of the city limits, matching a description of the getaway car from Illinois.

"If he abandoned his car, he'll need a replacement," Magneto muses. "He wouldn't have been able to drive out in the blizzard and the roads only cleared up today. I'll check if there are any reports on missing cars, you go check if he went to an auto repair shop or a car rental." Raven shifts into a local reporter and tells Mike, the mechanic, that she's here writing a story about the earthquake that happened hours before the blizzard and about a stranger who appeared in three other States, before an earthquake. She shows him the picture from the paper.

"I saw him the other day," Mike says, wiping his greasy hands on a piece of cloths. "Fella with a heavy Greek accent, kinda hard to miss,"

"What did he want?" Raven asks, pretending to take notes.

"His car broke down, a couple of miles outside of Omaha. He wanted some spare parts, wouldn't have his car towed into the city," Mike shrugs his shoulders. "I went out to take a look- told him he'd best spend his money on a new ride than trying to fix that tin can."

"Then what happened?"

"The blizzard happened. Offered to give him a ride into the city, he turned me down, wanted somewhere with less people or something. He said he'd pay for a ride, so I drove him to Platte River State Park. They've got cabins there to rent and all."

"So you don't know if he got a new ride or left town?" Raven asks finally.

"Not through me," Mike gives her a long look. "You said you were writing about that earthquake- you think that guy did it? How?"

"I'm not sure yet," Raven closes her notepad. "Thank you for you time."

She meets Magneto back at the Inn. They have about three hours before the time they agreed with Riptide to reconvene and there is no sign of him.

"No stolen cars," Magneto tells her, once she relays her information. "If he stayed at a cabin to avoid the blizzard, it would be too far to walk into the city to get a new car, but he might have hitchhiked from the highway."

"Or he might still be there," Raven says pointedly. "We need to find out."

"You stay here and I'll drive out to this place and see if he's there," Magneto says, getting up.

"You can't face this guy alone, not without backup," Raven argues.

"I don't plan on 'facing him'," Magneto says. "I'm only checking to see if he's still there. If he is, I'll keep watch, make sure he doesn't make a run for it. You wait here for Riptide and then you two can come and 'back me up'."

"I'll go with you, just in case," Raven says. "If he's there, I'll drive the car back and wait for Riptide."

"Fine, we need to move now before it gets dark," Magneto relents, as they make their way to the car. He doesn't bother with keys and just turns on the engine and drives the car using his powers. They park the car, Magneto waits inside and Raven shifts into Mike the mechanic, walks into the park office and asks the man at the desk about the guy she dropped off two days ago.

"I can't divulge information about our guests," the man says.

"That's fine, it's just that the guy was trying to buy spare parts from me, so I wanted to get a hold of him, see if he still needs them." Raven says casually.

"He asked me today about a car rental," the man tell her. "I told him if he needs something fixed, about a mile from here there's maintenance and fuel, but if he needs to rent one it's ten miles away. He said he'd check it out in the morning."

"Thanks, maybe I'll catch him around," she waves at him as she leaves. She waits a few minutes, before she shifts into their mysterious Mutant and walks back into the office, claiming she misplaced her key. The man tells her she'll have to pay for the replacement and she agrees, asking that it'd be put on the room charge. And what do you know, the key even has the cabin number on it. She walks triumphantly to Magneto, waving the key at him.

They walk to the end of the park, where the cabin is located. They hide behind some trees and Raven shifts back to her natural form. The lights are out and it appears their Mutant isn't inside.

"He didn't leave long ago, the chimney is still smoking," Magneto says observantly. "Go back to the Inn and get Riptide, I'll stay here and watch for the Mutant."

"That's sweet, but I don't need watching over."

They both turn in surprise to see the Mutant standing a few feet from them. "So who are you guys- cops? Feds? What's with the costume?" he motions at Raven with his head. "Doesn't matter, you won't live long enough to tell the tale."

He points to the ground and everything around them starts shaking. Raven loses her footing and Magneto pulls out a hunting knife and hurls it with his powers at the Mutant. The man points one hand at the projectile and it crumbles. "Whoa, how did you-?"

"Magneto!" Raven yells as she falls through a crack in the snow-covered ground, holding onto the edge.

"We're like you, stop the earthquake." Magneto instructs him, throwing any metal he stored on his person at the man, hoping to knock him out.

The man hesitates and stops the quakes. Magneto reaches out to Raven, only to hear a growing rumble.

"Oops," the man says with a wince. "Gotta go, best of luck to you." he runs off and Magneto looks up in time to see an avalanche heading their way. He grabs Raven and manages to levitate them a few inches from the ground, using his belts buckle and metal on his boots. The avalanche gains speed and magnitude, a rising wall of white ready to devour them whole. He flies them to the cabin and uses his power to unlock the door. Raven grasps the handle and pulls the door open and closes it behind them, while Magneto locks it. They both lean heavily on the door in time to feel the snow pounding at the door and the walls, before the cabin is engulfed in total darkness.


~*~



It's pitch black and dead quiet. Raven can hear her heart pounding in her head and she calls out quietly: "Magneto?"

"Just a moment." he answers from somewhere to her left and she can hear his clothes rustling as he moves. "Got it." Before she can ask what, a blinding light erupts and she blinks several times, clearing the spots.

"Let there be light," Magneto says sardonically. "The electricity is still working at least, that's a good sign."

Raven looks at the window and sees nothing but snow. She tries opening it, but it's stuck. She goes to the door, only to have the lock turning on itself before she gets there. She opens the door a fraction and sees that the snow covers the entire doorway, blocking it. "We're snowed in." Raven says needlessly.

"So it would appear," Magneto agrees. "We'll have to dig our way out." He reaches out a hand and calls to him any free metal object inside the cabin and shapes them into digging tools.

Raven goes from room to room, taking stock of what they have to deal with. She finds a bag with clothes, some toiletry and a few maps of different States- their Mutant didn't leave behind too many personal effects. She finishes in the kitchen and opens the few cabinets and a cooler. Canned corn, peaches in syrup, canned tuna, some biscuits, two orange juice cartons and a bag of pretzels. She goes to the faucet to check if they have running water, when she feels it shaking. "Leave the faucet alone, unless you want a flood." She warns Magneto.

He shrugs and starts using the makeshift shovels to dig, sitting in a chair in the living area, facing his work. Raven grabs some wooden utensils and joins him, physically shoveling alongside the metal. They take a few water breaks, but otherwise they keep at it, digging for hours. Raven's muscles ache and she's hot and sweaty, but she refuses to stop. Magneto doesn't show any sign of fatigue, other than a frown line between his brows and a tightness to his mouth. At some point Raven glances at the clock on the wall and discovers that it's almost midnight and they've been digging for hours.

"We need a break," she says tiredly, dropping her 'shovels'.

"So take a break," Magneto pays her no heed as he keeps digging, using his power.

"We need to conserve our strength and eat something," Raven reasons. "If we didn't get out by now, the snow's piled on too high. It'll take time and in the mean time we need to pace ourselves, do this smart." She's proud that she's even capable of rational thought when she knows panic is nipping at her subconscious and will paralyze her if she lets it.

"You're right," he says and drops his shovels in disgust. "I can stop hundreds of missiles, raise a submarine- but I can't dig my way out of a snowed-in cabin." Raven wisely stays silent and a moment later he joins her and inspects the items of food. "We need to ration it, make sure it lasts as long as possible."

"How long do you think we'll be here?" She asks worriedly.

"We missed the rendezvous with Riptide- he would have assumed something went wrong. Maybe he'll go looking for us, maybe he'll decide to wait till morning. We're supposed to meet Azazel tomorrow at around nine AM. They'll search for us. Azazel can cover more ground and Riptide can help plow the snow out the way. Hopefully it will take hours or a day at most, but we need to prepare ourselves to the possibility that we might be here days at least."

"Right." she swallows thickly. "Well, you should have a bigger portion, because you're doing most of the digging."

"No," he says vehemently. "We both eat the same portions. I will not have you waste away on my account." There's an edge to his words that promises a story, but Raven knows not to pry. She watches silently as Magneto pours a half a cup of orange juice in two cups and puts on two plates a spoonful of tuna, a spoonful of corn and two biscuits each. They take the plates to the living area and sit on the same sofa. They eat in companionable silent, until Raven can't stand the quiet.

"It's kinda funny you know," she says with a sardonic grin. "You're always making sure our place is fully stocked and you end up snowed in with an empty pantry."

"Hilarious," he rolls his eyes. "I seem to recall you participating in the shopping quite often."

"That's because I get it," she says, taking a small sip of her orange juice.

"Get what?"

"Why you do it," she motions with her plastic fork towards the kitchen. Magneto stays silent, eyeing her contemplatively, so she boldly goes on. "My parents weren't too happy when they found out they had a freak for a daughter," Raven says quietly, looking Magneto in the eye. "I was living on the streets from a very young age with only myself to count on. I'd use my powers to hide and to get food, but sometimes it'd be days..."

She seems lost in a memory before continuing. "It's how I met Charles. I was starving and I figured this big mansion, they must have food, right? I could just break in, take some food, break out and nobody would know or even miss it. Charles caught me and I tried to pretend to be his mother, but it's hard to fool a telepath. He took me in and I grew up in the mansion with him, but I... I kept this box of food in my closet. And every day I'd sneak something from the kitchen and put in the box. Charles never understood why."

"No matter how comfortable your life became, you couldn't forget the time when you had no food. You were trying to plan for a 'rainy day', as they say." Magneto has no pity in his voice, no sympathy. But it still fills her with warmth to know he understands.

"It was my 'just in case' box. 'Just in case something happens to the cook', 'just in case the kitchen burns down', 'Just in case Kurt-his step father- kicks me out', 'just in case Charles gets tired of me'," she shrugs self-consciously. "Better safe than sorry, right? Eventually I realized Charles was going to keep me and as long as I stick to him we could face anything life threw at us, so I got rid of the box."

"It seems neither of us planned well for this occasion," Erik says ruefully, gaining a short bark of laugh from Raven.

"I definitely should have made a 'just in case we're snowed-in by a crazy Mutant' box." She says grinning.

"We should get some rest, at dawn we'll resume digging," he says finally. "The boiler isn't working so there isn't any hot water for a shower, neither is the air conditioning unit. The furnace is out of the question for heat."

"Ok," Raven says, absorbing the information. "So icy showers and a pile of blankets, got it."

"The blankets won't be enough," Erik says frowning. "It's getting colder and we won't be active to preserve our core temperature. We need to sleep together to preserve body heat." Raven's golden eyes widen a fraction, before realizing he probably doesn't mean it like it sounds.

"Well as much as hypothermia sounds like a blast," she says dryly. "I think I'll pass this time. Cuddling it is." Magneto walks out of the room towards the bedroom, muttering something about not being the 'cuddling type'. Raven smirks as she follows him inside and is about to close the door when he calls out to her.

"Keep the door partially open, we need some flow of air," Magneto instructs her, as he throws as many blankets as possible on the bed, before shedding his winter jacket and starting to strip. Raven goes under the covers and tries not to enjoy the view too much. She counts the scars and memorizes the number on his arm, trying to take in as much of him as possible. She knows she might not get another opportunity to see him like this again, laid bare before her without his armor. He strips to his boxers and climbs into the bed.

It takes them a few awkward moments to arrange themselves comfortably, without elbowing or kneeing each other. He ends up wrapped around her and though it's the furthest thing from sexy she could possibly imagine- both of them shivering and trying to stay warm and alive- her heart still skips a beat when she feels his weight pressed against her back and she can fantasize it's under different circumstances. Preferably on a warm beach somewhere, like the Bahamas.


~*~


They wake up at dawn. "We need to dig as much as possible now, before the temperatures drop again in the evening," Magneto tell her, as he splashes ice water on his face and layers up. She has no clothes of her own and she's a bit cold, so she creates some from her skin. They go into the kitchen and eat another ration of food, before getting back to work.

"I hate Nebraska," Raven mutters to herself, as she continues to dig through the snow. Magneto doesn't bother answering, too busy using his powers to dig their way out through the snow. They spend hours digging- Raven with her wooden utensils and Magneto alternating between using his powers and digging physically to produce heat. Half way through the dig Raven is too exhausted and she has to shift back to her nude self, in order to maintain her strength. They drink as much as possible, take short breaks and have another meal in the evening before it's too cold to dig anymore. They go back to the bedroom and huddle on the bed.

"I'm going to kill that Mutant when I get a hold of him," Raven says angrily. "And do you know I found in his bag a geological map of California? What on Earth was he going to do with that?"

"When we find him, you can ask him," Magneto says darkly. "Before he suffers a slow and painful death."

"God I wish we had a heat-related Mutant," Raven says dreamily. "Maybe a fire-breather or a flame-thrower."

"If wishes were horses-," Magneto starts to say, before Raven turns around and glares at him.

"We're in a snowed-in cabin miles from civilization, we haven't had a proper shower in almost two days and are slowly starving to death-"

"Actually, I believe we will die from asphyxiation long before the food runs out," Magneto says thoughtfully. "The air is getting thin and we're using up quite a bit of it when we work."

"Perfect," Raven says jovially. "Thank you for cheering me up."

"I'm telling you the truth. I'm sorry if it's not the sugar-coated lie you wanted to hear-"

"Forget it," Raven says angrily. "I shouldn't have expected you to act like a decent human-sorry Mutant being." She's sullen for a while, lying on her side next to him and trying not to cry in exasperation.

"A heat-generating Mutant would be useful," Magneto finally relents. "Or a weather-controlling one."

"Someone who can control the weather- all of it?" Raven turns around, intrigued. "Like blizzards, thunder, wind- all that stuff?"

"Ch- Xavier thought he found one in Cerebro, back at the CIA," Magneto explains. "She was young with shocking white hair. But she was in Egypt and it was beyond our reach at the time."

"Wow," Raven says reverently. "That's cool." There's another stretch of silence before Raven smiles wryly and says: "You know, if you wanted to take me to a romantic ski trip, you could have taken me to the Alps."

Magneto chuckles dryly. "I'll bear that in mind next time."

"Or we can go to Hawaii- some place warm and dry, with no snow."

"Hmmm," he says half-heartedly, his eyes closed in fatigue. She watches him for a few moments. Without his helmet he looks like a mere mortal, like a tired man who's seen too much, experienced too much in his life time. He's handsome, for sure, with a strong jaw, sharp cheekbones and gorgeous green eyes hiding behind his eyelids.

Suddenly all she wants to do is brush away the creases on his forehead and trace his lips with her fingers. She watches his chest rise and fall and she knows it's now or never. She edges closer to him, until their faces are inches apart. He opens his eyes and is about to say something when she plunges forward and kisses him. He lets her in, kissing her hesitantly back, before gently pushing her away.

"Mystique-"

'Well isn't this comfy?' Reverberates in their minds.

"Emma," they say at the same time, relieved and aggravated.

'The one and only', Raven swears she hears the smirk in her voice. 'Now do you want to be rescued, or are you enjoying your romantic getaway?'

"We're in a snowed in cabin outside of Omaha," Magneto says out loud. He closes his eyes and Raven knows he's showing Emma their location.

'I already know honey, but thanks for the pictures. I'm directing Azazel to your exact location,' Emma says to both of them. 'Don't go anywhere.' She's gone from their minds, leaving behind sensation of pinpricks and needles.

They get out of the bed and Magneto gets his clothes on quickly. Raven can't help but curse Emma for her timing. Not that she isn't glad for the rescue, but she's not sure what Magneto was going to say and that left her in a bit of limbo. Was he going to tell her to come back (again) when she was older? Tell her he's just not interested? Would he have figured they're dying anyway and gone for it?

They walk into the living area right as Azazel appears. He holds out Magneto's helmet and says: "Thought you might need this." Magneto nods and takes the helmet wordlessly, placing it on his head. Azazel grabs both of their shoulders and they're back at Magneto's room in the Inn, with Emma sprawled out in front of the fire place.

"Do you like my new winter collection?" She asks, her hand gliding along her warm white fur coat.

"It's divine," Magneto drawls as he and Raven edge closer to the warm fire. "How did you find us?"

"Well," Emma says with a hint of enthusiasm. "When you didn't show up, Riptide met Azazel alone. Angel and I were just finishing up in Washington- it went splendid by the way- when Azazel told us you two went missing. Riptide went off to look for the Mutant, while Angel, Azazel and I covered as much ground as we could. Angel's wings have healed very nicely you know, she's able to fly longer distances-"

"That Mutant created an avalanche, snowing us in," Magneto says with venom.

"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts?" Emma offers. Magneto gives her a withering look. "Too soon?"

"I want him found." Magneto sneers.

"Already done," Emma sighs dramatically. "He claims it was an accident and that he's awfully sorry. He helped me pin-point your location."

"Where is he now?"

"With Riptide and Angel at the safe house. Riptide, with Azazel's help, gave him quite the recruitment speech," Emma gives a small sly grin.

"We don't-"

"Force anyone to join our crusade against their will, I know," Emma rolls her eyes. "They simply explained the benefits of joining our little group and what we hope to accomplish in the future. He told them he has big plans of his own, but he can post-pone them for a while."

"I don't even want to know," Magneto says with a hint of fatigue. "In the mean time, I think it prudent that Azazel spend as much time as possible 'training' this new Mutant-"

"Avalanche," Emma says with a shrug. "It seems you've been a source of inspiration."

"Avalanche then," Magneto relents, giving Azazel a pointed look. "He needs special training."

"I'll help," Raven offers evilly. Azazel grins at her maliciously and she can't help but smirk.

"Speaking of which, much as I enjoy breaking out a new gorgeous attire, I think we should head back."

"I agree," Magneto says, then after a pause: "You've done a good job."

Emma and Azazel look at each other with baffled looks. "I think we need to get our fearless leader out of the cold," Emma says, with a twinkle in her eye. "He's starting to go soft on us."

"Cabin fever," Azazel agrees, his tail swishing in amusement. "Must be delirious."

"I think the safe house needs scrubbing," Magneto warns them, though the corner of his mouth is tugging upwards slightly. "Especially the bathrooms." Neither say another word as Emma reaches out for Raven's hand and Azazel grabbed her and Magneto and they disappear in a puff of red smoke.



Part 4