ionic: ((xfc) charles - ready)
[personal profile] ionic
The basis for this is First Class, rather than any of the other movies/any of the comics.

This is the informal version (read: I am basically copying/pasting bits from emails with [ profile] stlkrchck, because her replies help me make more sense, but is more than what I was @-rambling to [ profile] pocky_slash on Twitter) of one aspect on how I view Charles Xavier.

To: [ profile] stlkrchck
From: [ profile] chiasmus
Subject: Charles' complicated set of ethics.

I guess the first major point is: he has morals! and this is a mostly canon rant, but it is the basis from which I extrapolate any of my AU versions of Charles, SO.

That's why I can't ever really get into dark!Charles fics, or fics where Charles leaves with Erik on the beach. Like, even as everything and everyone disappoints him on the beach, /genocide is not okay/ and will not be okay and I still have SO many problems that they (the writers/directors/whoever) had Erik do that, but that is another matter. Anyway, I think Charles has morals that aren't readily apparent to anyone else. One of the things is yes, exactly, he doesn't manipulate people in a harmful way unless under extreme circumstances (for example, Shaw was a major exception, because of all the nuclear war crap, and also, on a more immediate level, if it came down to a decision between Erik or Shaw — since god only knows what was going on Shaw's mind while Charles held him down, or what he would have done to Erik had Charles let his control over Shaw slip — of course Charles would picked Erik. It's something I don't think he would regret doing (feel guilty over, definitely yes; regret, no), that he would in all likelihood do again if he had to relive the moment, but at the same time he would still have issues with the whole, I was complicit in someone's murder, even someone like Shaw, because I think Charles really, really wanted Erik to somehow find some way to subdue Shaw without killing him for a lot of different reasons.

[Also, going back to the conversation Charles had with Erik over chess the night before Cuba, Charles did, in fact, have it in him to allow Shaw's death to happen, and I really, really want something — I technically started something and never finished it — that addresses this, this being the decision Charles made, and Charles being upset/angry/a lot of complicated feelings at Erik, too, and all of these other things, then them having a falling out over what Charles experienced when Erik killed Shaw, because I feel like Charles knew what it would be like, since he has been in others' minds before, and he kept all of that to himself, for his own reasons. The thing I was writing involved Jean's comic backstory — how she went into a vegetative state because her mind was linked with her best friend's at the time of death — and when Erik finds out these things he puts two and two together and there is a lot of arguing. This was a mutant school AU wherein Erik was still at Westchester, but things were still not really settled into any kind of easy thing and I don't even know. I am stopping this tangent now.])

Anyway. There are definitely certain lines Charles won't cross. He genuinely wants everyone to reach their full potential, and he wants there to be a peaceful co-existence between mutants and humans, but it's not like he's just going to mess with everyone's minds to achieve this. (I got angry at a fic where Charles was blatantly just abusing his telepathy and manipulating everyone around him in a completely amoralistic sense, because that is so far off base, in my mind, from his character that I can't even handle it). He will try to nudge things in that direction, but not a literal "I am going to telepathically make you do this" nudge, even though he could. He also, through some mixture, I think, of the way his life has thus far been, a level of arrogance, and what I imagine it's like to be a telepath, wants things to be done his way, because he honestly believes he knows what's best for everyone (that he wants Raven to not go around naked and blue because that's what's /safest/ for her, not because he thinks there's anything wrong with it, the conversation with Erik about how killing won't bring him peace, and other things I'm probably too tired to think of right now). He's totally got a huge ego and is kind of a dick sometimes (or more than sometimes; the other thing I get angry at in fic, when people go the opposite end and make Charles a pushover/too nice/perfect/self-conscious because there isn't really anything in the film to indicate this, from my interpretation of it at least), and he really needs to learn how to make concessions (Erik needs to learn this, too, but for different reasons). In any event, he's really secure in himself in a way that none of the others really are (and that's part of the reason why I think he had trouble relating to Raven's insecurity: he just didn't understand it, at all, because at least from what we see of him in most of the film, there's none of that kind of uncertainty from Charles, and I do think that most of the time he was respecting her wishes and not reading her mind).

Continuing off of that, he does use his telepathy as a way to relate to people, but not in like, an intentionally invasive way. I don't think he goes around trying to read everyone's life history/know all of their secrets or whatever, it's just something that comes into his mind, because that's how his power works.

To: [ profile] chiasmus
From: [ profile] stlkrchck

Okay, yes, first things first, canon absolutely should be the basis of AUs, and I feel really strongly about that, if you can't already tell from my questions on what Charles or Erik would or wouldn't do, so I am delighted that you feel the same way too. :)

I am completely with you on this. The closest I can get to reading/understand Charles as dark is stories in which Charles does something that is morally dubious (like controlling someone, killing someone, forcibly changing people's minds, etc.), but only because he needs to prevent violence, particularly to the people he cares about, and even that I have serious problems with.

I do agree with you that Charles probably has an incredibly strict, incredibly detailed set of morals for him that really don't make sense to anyone who's not a telepath. I imagine Emma probably finds them incredibly limiting but also somewhat compelling because of how internally consistent they are to a telepath.

(I also want, like, all the fic where Emma talks to Erik about Charles and explains Charles to him, because I feel like she would have all these thoughts about how ridiculous Charles is that conversely make Erik have so much more respect for Charles.)

(I want to hear your Erik feelings too!)

Yes, exactly, I think Charles thought about killing Shaw and knew he'd do it and accepted it, and I think he's still conflicted about it, and I think a part of him will always feel terrible about it, because in his mind, he became a murderer. (I also think this gets all mixed up inside him, and sometimes he thinks, "I let myself become a murderer for Erik," and sometimes it becomes, "Erik made me a murderer.")

I really love hearing about this story, which I would love to read. I kind of believe Charles thinks of the pain as penance for killing Shaw, and I want Erik to (1) understand how painful it was, because I don't know that it's clear from the movie that Erik ever understood that it hurt Charles. How would he hear Charles screaming? He can't hear him in his mind, because he's got the helmet on. And it isn't clear that they're close enough for Erik to hear him scream, given that they needed to talk mind to mind to communicate to begin with, and to (2) get that Charles is having a hard time living with this and does feel that it's penance. By which I mean that I have all the feelings about this and want this story.

Also, I really don't buy fic in which mutant minds feel *different* in some way to Charles, and I think this is something that Erik doesn't understand: that Charles knows that, while they may be the race of the future, there is no real difference between mutants and humans as when it comes to thoughts. Not everyone agrees with me on this, but that's what I think. And how can Erik possibly expect him to accept that there's such an enormous difference when, mentally, there is no difference for Charles.

I...yes, exactly, this! He's a dick! He's got an enormous sense of entitlement! He's self-centered! He thinks he knows what's best for people! But he's not evil and he care deeply about people and he doesn't manipulate them for the sake of manipulating them and he would do anything to protect the people he loves and promote their happiness, even at the expense of himself.

I think he just doesn't know how to relate to people without the telepathy too. I mean, I think first of all that he's incapable of turning it off all the way. I hate fic where people have him able to just flip a switch, because I don't think his control is that good, and even if it is, I would imagine it's an enormously shocking sensory deprivation if he can do it at all.

To: [ profile] stlkrchck
From: [ profile] chiasmus

Yeah, I can see those things, in that scenario (preventing violence, protecting people he cares about), but only as a very last recourse or entirely in the heat of the moment if he just cannot think of another way around it. To go into anything more dubious than that would take like, a lot of building up to and just require a lot of other difficult things that usually don't get brought up.

This. I also just want, like, all of the fic of Charles and Emma interacting with each other as telepaths who have a lot of diverging views on how it should/shouldn't be used, but still having common ground insofar as "this is the kind of thing only another telepath would understand" both in how they perceive the people around them/how they are perceived by the people around them. But really, in the long list of things I wish the movie had done better, utilizing Emma is one of them.

(I really, really want this fic, too. I think I read something like it? Containing Multitudes, I think, which at least had a conversation between Erik and Emma about telepathy; I can link if you've not read it already.)

(My Erik feelings might take longer to formulate? I love Erik, but he frustrates me in a way/I have to dig deeper to articulate him in a way that I feel doesn't fail. Not to say that the thoughts are any less extensive or the ones of Charles are shallower, but I, uh, relate to Charles more than I do to Erik [not just in an experiential sense, but the way each views the world and people and motivations/reactions/personality traits], which is why I am always like, stop me if I'm projecting too much in our AU, haha.)

I agree with all of this, too. That it's the kind of thing Charles would carry around with him, and I could definitely see how those two thoughts end up going through his head and all of that.

It's one I started writing back in... August? That I come back to every so often and it's really not even that long, but I will send it to you if I ever get more of it formulated. And, yeah, those are pretty much the main two things I wanted to try to address with it. 1.) I'm pretty firmly of the belief that Erik doesn't know. In fact, I kind of think Moira might be the only one other than Charles who does know anything at all of it, since she was in the plane with him (Raven helping Hank and the other kids involved in fight and all), he said that he was holding Shaw down, and then she pretty much got to hear him beg Erik to not do this, then Charles screaming in pain, which I always thought contributed to why she fired at Erik (because Charles wouldn't be able to talk Erik down, or subdue him, and even if she knows Erik can deflect bullets, it's a distraction, and she didn't think he would deflect the bullet towards Charles, but I may be reading too much into that). 2.) Yes, exactly. Charles has so many reservations and problems with what happened, but these are all things he contributed to and has to live with, and it's not something he would forget to begin with/let himself forget and the guilt that goes along with that.

No, I mostly agree — I think that the only ones who might feel different are other telepaths (for obvious reason), possibly teleporters (since they move around all over the place). I think the only time he might feel any kind of difference is when he's hooked up to Cerebro, but that's more of a Cerebro functionality/heightened thing, but that being an exception, not the everyday. And, yeah, Charles definitely believes they are the race of the future, but that certainly doesn't equivocate to, therefore we must kill the humans off to protect ourselves, because /no/, that is really not how evolution works.

Yes! He's selfish! and entitled! and so sure of himself! but his actions primarily come from a place of caring and even if some of the ways he approaches it may be misguided (like, with Raven, and her "cosmetic problem" I think he was really just trying to encourage her to do whatever would make her happiest without endangering her rather than realizing she was seeking some kind of validation/reassurance). Yes, yes, yes to Charles not just manipulating people without a damn good reason. Ugh, seriously, these are all the reasons why I love him, and I always side-eye any fic that has him being perfect or whatever, because he really is not and that is what makes him so interesting (and the same with Erik and Raven and everyone).

I definitely don't see at as a switch. I imagine it's like forcefully depriving yourself of any one of your other senses.

If you don't want to read all of that, the bottom line is: I have really strong opinions on Charles and get so sad when people write him in ways that are disingenuous or oversimplified to his character, because I love that he is like, one giant walking gray area and wants what's best for everyone and is still kind of an asshole who's used to getting his way, though I know that's a hard balance to get right (and sometimes I don't think I get it right, but I am always super excited when someone else does).
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