Fanfiction Fridays: Tessellation

Aside from his work, no one knew anything about Xavier. Not what he looked like, not the full extent of his power–though from what little they did know, he was by far the most powerful telepath in existence–and not what his intentions were. The man was a recluse. As far as Magneto knew, Xavier had never once stepped foot outside his impenetrable Westchester manor.

And now he was scheduled as the keynote speaker for the largest pro-mutant conference in the world.

“I have official confirmation,” Mystique said. Magneto released a breath.

And just like that he was Erik again. Mystique relaxed, losing the stance of his second in command and becoming Raven, the first mutant he’d found and recruited to his cause, someone he considered a friend. Erik grinned.

“Professor Charles Xavier,” he said, giddy with the thought of it.

–from Tessellation by nekosmuse

This week’s rec is one of my old favorites from the X-Men: First Class fandom. In Tessellation, Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr meet under different circumstances—Erik is already the leader of the Brotherhood of Mutants, headquartered on the island of Genosha, and Charles is a world-renowned geneticist who’s turned into a complete hermit after the death of his wife, Moira. As in the movie, Charles is pretty frankly amoral about the use of his powers—and unlike in the movie, he’s chosen to remain that way. Erik, too, is older, and a lot of his fanaticism has been dulled by the experience of years. It’s a fascinating what-if story about two characters meeting at a much different time in their lives, and how they influence each other after they meet.

The story has a layered, calculated plot that leads its movie-verse characters on a merry dance through comics- and TV show-canon. No worries, though; if you’ve seen the other X-Men films, particularly those featuring William Stryker, there shouldn’t be anything confusing. It also features Magneto as a terrifyingly earnest Charles Xavier fanboy. What, I ask you, could possibly be boring about that?

Artwork by eira_cannaid.

Artwork by eira_cannaid.

My absolute favorite thing about this fic, though, is the way it handles the various mental/physical issues with which Charles and Erik have to deal. It’s honest about what people with disabilities have to face without making the entire story about disability and mental illness—Charles is a paraplegic in pretty much every canon X-Men comic, and yet you rarely see fics which lay out the day-to-day details of what a paraplegic’s life might be like. A fic like Tessellation, which paints a vivid picture of Charles’s life in careful truths and shaded subtleties while still keeping up an engaging, complex plot unrelated to his disability, is almost unheard of. Throughout the fic, Charles also deals with his alcoholism and panic attacks, and Erik with his PTSD—and yet the entire story doesn’t center around these issues, and neither character is ever less than who they are. Charles, in particular, is never reduced to a disabled person rather than a person with disabilities.

You can tell this was written over a long period of time—there are some awkwardly-placed point-of-view changes at the beginning, but by the end of the fic, the chapters are much longer and much improved for it. There are a few pet peeve-y misspellings scattered throughout, but don’t let them dissuade you from reading on. The story’s very long, and very worth your time. Go read it here! Then come back and tell me what you thought.