Author: aeskis PM
At the beach Erik changes his mind and takes Charles with him, something the latter probably isn't going to be happy about when he comes to. Warnings for physical and mental imprisonment.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Angst - Xavier, C. & Magneto - Chapters: 5 - Words: 24,233 - Reviews: 130 - Favs: 137 - Follows: 240 - Updated: 05-04-13 - Published: 06-11-11 - id: 7073097
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AUTHOR'S NOTES – In response to popular demand :p, I'm reorganizing and consolidating the fanfic. So nothing new this time. Red Aurora's contributions and mine (aeskis) are put in separate chapters. Less confuddling, hopefully?
Yes, Absolution will be updated. Slowly, but updated. I sincerely apologize for the continual confusion and repeats. So ... reviews? ^-^ They keep me going! *hint hint, nudge nudge*
At the beach Erik changes his mind and takes Charles with him, something the latter probably isn't going to be happy about when he comes to. This story will hopefully be moderately long and fulfilling if not disturbing. Warnings for physical and mental imprisonment, much angst, tortured friendships, possible eventual slash (I haven't decided), etc, in addition to probable multiple revisions. Dark!Erik. And general creepiness.
They will turn on us.
Not if we stop a war. Not if we risk our lives doing so.
"I want you by my side," Erik says urgently, still emanating that undeniable charisma beneath the metal helmet obscuring most of his features. "We're brothers, you and I." The terribly fragile weight of Charles in his arms, Charles' hand first clutching at his front and then dropping weakly to the ground, strike him like the smashing final blow never dealt him by this most infuriatingly idealistic of men. "We want the same thing."
Or is it arrogance?
There is great sadness in Charles' too-bright eyes as he looks into Erik's—no, Magneto's deathly earnest face. "My friend," he says, breathing hard against the agony of his injury as blackness threatens his vision. "Oh, my friend … that we do not." Initially stunned by the refusal, Erik's expression closes, until nothing can be read, as though a mask has dropped into place, or a curtain signaling the end of an act.
There's so much more to you than you know.
No, there is only a gripping fear and despair as the momentary peace achieved over the last few weeks dissipates, dying with the faltering rise and fall of his once friend's chest. He is determined not to surrender to a fool's dreams, however, no matter that they are beautful, and rises, motioning for Moira to take his place. Shaw's former henchmen stand a distance away, lost without their leader. The young men, Banshee, Beast, and Havok stumble forward from where he's thrown them, warily keeping an eye on Magneto.
Not just pain, and anger.
"My fellow mutants," he begins. "Their kind will never accept us. They've shown us their hand. Now it's time for us to show them ours." He pauses. "Who's with me?" His gaze goes to Mystique, who looks at him and what he offers with unmistakable longing. Magneto extends his hand. "No more hiding." His eyes move over to Shaw's men; Azazeal, Riptide and Angel stare at him.
Mystique moves slowly, her vision flickering between her foster brother helplessly prostrate on the sand and the strong, powerful figure of Magneto inviting her to join him. Guilt and nearly twenty years of sibling love—and perhaps something more than that—propel her to Charles' side. He looks up at her, trying to smile reassuringly as he takes her hand and kisses it. "You should go with him," he gasps. "It's what you want."
"You promised me you'd never read my mind," Raven whispers in gentle accusation, pressing a kiss to his forehead.
Charles' lips curve in mirthless, regretful smile. "I promised you a great many things, I'm afraid." The tight, pained line of Charles' mouth abruptly relaxes, and he goes limp, eyes fluttering closed to hide the blue. Raven gives a small shriek and she and Moira lean over him anxiously. "Charles!"
There's good too ... I felt it.
Good? As Magneto he has no good in him now, only a purpose and total focus on achieving it. And Charles … only the man whose stillness shouts of Erik's guilt, the person to whom he owes so much, saw and believed in that part of him invisible to everyone else, hidden so deeply behind anger and an air of dangerously charming menace. Against his better judgment Erik looks back at the slight form slumped in Moira's cradling arms, and feels that abyss of agony for the second time in his life.
He can't lose Charles. He can't.
In her concern for Charles, Moira speaks even in fear of turning Erik's attention to her once again. "We need to get him to a hospital."
Yes. Erik turns. "Azazeal, is it?" The devilish-looking red visage affirms his words with a twisting of his lips. "Will you join me?" The uncertain grimace becomes a grim smile, the expression equally startling as the first. "I will."
"Good." Ignoring Moira's startled, frightened protests, he brushes her aside and lifts Charles' unconscious body, his head lolling against Erik's shoulder. "Transport us to a private facility where Charles can get treatment."
Beast and the other young mutants start. Erik stops them from interfering with a warnng look and just the slighest pressure at the metal in their suits. Mystique lays a questioning hand on Erik's arm, gazing into his face beseechingly as her fingers on the other hand brush Charles' tear-stained cheek. He does not need to be a telepath to read her mind.
"Don't worry. He'll be fine." And Erik finds that aching hope in his chest again, that treacherous emoton that fluttered into existence at the kind understanding in the words, You're not alone, Erik. You're not alone as he stared at his unlikely savior incredulously across the few feet of water separating them.
Charles does not wake for three weeks, during which time doctors care for his injury and inform the anxiously hovering Raven and Erik, brooding with dark thoughts, that he might never walk again.
Two days into the young man's continued unconsciousness, the metal equipment in the private hospital room begins to rattle ominously, and suddenly Erik strides out the door. Casting a glance at the silent form of Charles on the bed, Raven follows her new leader outside. "I know you're frustrated ..." she trails off, unable to continue at the impossible anguish engraved on Erik's face. Erik clenches and unclenches his hands, whirling away from her and slamming a fist into the wall in a rare display of uncontrol.
"I want him to wake up too," she finishes in a whisper.
Azazeal stands in a sort of lazy slouch against the wall with his tail dragging idle scratches along the floor, Riptide beside him looking only faintly interested at the events transpiring before him. "Emma Frost," he says in his accented tones. "If anyone can find out what's happening in your friend's head, she can."
Erik does not waste time. The thick metal door of Emma's prison screams and crumples into so much scrap; Azazeal could have transported them directly into the chamber in which she is kept, but a display of power can only help his cause.
Defensively in her diamond form, Emma still manages a cool smile, although an undercurrent of nervousness is noticeable. "Where's your telepath friend?"
Magneto's bloodshot eyes are shadowed by the metal helmet, but they are piercing nonetheless. He knows the game to play with this woman. "Mutants ought to reign supreme in this world, and I will make it happen," he states baldly, ignoring her query for the moment. "Care to join me?" The shining facets of her body shift as she looks over at the mutants standing in the doorway, old and new companions alike.
Switching allegiances is apparently not a hardship for those who used to work for Shaw. The gorgeous telepath smiles, more confidently now, as though she can guess what he wants from her through the metal helmet, and changes back to to her svelte, white-clad human form.
Miss Frost is less than pleased when she discovers the true nature of her first assignment. "I could," she admits. "In the state he's in, your friend's an open book."
"Then do it." Erik's warning glance leaves no room for protest.
Emma huffs quietly, but sits beside the hospital bed and closes her eyes in concentration. Several moments pass before she gasps and jerks away, the chair legs screeching on the floor as a fine-boned white hand presses to her forehead.
Alarmed by her reaction, Raven automatically reaches out to steady the woman. "What is it? What's wrong?"
Emma speaks slowly, in uncharacteristic incoherence, still feeling the ghostly vestiges of approaching death. "Somehow …. it's as if he's been killed. Looking through his eyes and seeing through another's as he's held immobile by something …. himself … the coin moving through the air… the trauma of that and the shock of too much loss … he doesn't want to awake and face reality."
There is silence in the room. Raven is afraid to look at Erik, but she musters the courage. His pacing has given way to an absolute stillness. "He was in Shaw's mind when I drove the coin through the bastard's brain," Erik finally says faintly, his face white. "I knew Charles was holding him, but … I didn't … I didn't mean … I didn't think ..." In a fury of self-hatred he tears the helmet from his head, and its clangs sharply against the counter and then more dully against the floor. A nurse who has come to check on the patient shrieks and jumps back.
Erik, please, be the better man. There will be no turning back-!
Azazeal grunts from the hallway, having overhead the conversation. Riptide raises his eyebrows, catching the gist of what happened. "Well, boss, you've certainly ruined the guy's life. Are you sure he's going to be on our side if he gets up?"
Two weeks of sleepless nights and intolerable pacing later, when Erik blearily raises his head from the arms of the chair beside the hospital, his eyes meet Charles' serene gaze.
"It's about time. You've … been a setback to my plans for world domination," Erik manages to say somewhat calmly, reaching for the helmet next to him.
"The guilt overwhelms me." Charles' smile does not quite reach his eyes as they follow Erik's movements, and he seems very weary, sinking back onto the bed from where he had reached for his friend. "Is this what we've come to?" he asks quietly. "Erik, it doesn't have to be this way."
"My name is Magneto now." Suddenly restless and avoiding Charles' eyes, Erik gets to his feet. "I'm not the hapless person who tried to move a submarine and couldn't."
"But you're still drowning in the effort of doing something beyond your power." The remnants of mischief enters Charles' voice. "And that helmet is most unbecoming. I won't even discuss the cape. Raven's idea, yes? She always liked superheroes with an unhealthy passion."
Erik almost returns the fond smile, then recalls himself and his face falls into its now usual tense lines. "It's Mystique, and I'm no hero."
Charles pauses, his fingers worrying at the sheets covering him. "How is … Mystique doing?"
"She's been scared to death for you," Erik answers. "I should tell her you're awake." But he makes no move toward the door.
"Wait," Charles says for him after a moment. "We need to talk."
"Are you prepared for a war with humans?"
Charles stares at him solemnly as though trying to penetrate through the helmet blocking his telepathic abilities. "I would do everything in my power to prevent such a thing from happening."
"Then we have nothing to discuss," Erik counters.
"We do. The last I remember, you made the lines you've drawn quite clear. Ending on that note, why am I here?"
Erik's throat closes, but he bites out the words. "That bullet smashed part of your spine. You're—"
"-paralyzed. Yes." Charles sighs tiredly, hands fisting in his lap as he looks at his useless legs. "I pretended to be sleeping when a nurse came in earlier, and her pity … bled out onto me." Erik's own limbs lose strength and he collapses into a chair, recollecting Charles' calmness even at the beginning of their conversation. "I'm surprised you didn't concentrate and kill me before I woke up," Erik says with painful seriousness.
"I won't lie. I thought of it," Charles replies after a moment of strained silence. "But in the end … I'm still the same person who couldn't pull the trigger on his friend."
I won't stop you. I could, but I won't.
Erik wants to laugh, but only the awful recognition of tears filling his eyes comes. "You self-righteous, pompous fool," he snaps, to hide the wetness at the edges of his vision. It's true. Charles has the arrogance of a young man who has always gotten what he wanted, always known he was right, except he isn't. But his disarming innocence and kindness smoothes the rough edges, and that is what wrecks Erik the most.
"Why am I here, Erik?" Charles repeats gently, his eyes the same self-assured, bright blue.
It's not just me you're walking away from.
And Erik realizes he can't articulate an explanation. Charles will never willingly join the Mutant Brotherhood. What is he hoping to achieve? Everything he's done in his life has been for a reason, toward a focused—and usually fatal—conclusion. What use will a disinclined Charles be to him and his cause, except a liability and danger?
Charles turns his face to the door a moment before Raven's footsteps can be heard rounding the corner to the room.
"Charles? Charles!" Raven's exuberantly happy voice rings forth at seeing the patient awake. She hastily sets the tray of food meant for Erik aside and rushes forward to fling her arms around her brother. He oofs and returns the fervent embrace. "You've had a change of names as well as address," Charles laughs. "Mystique, I hear." His gaze softens as he pulls back slightly to look at her, blue and scaled and utterly herself. "You're looking so well." There is recognizable guilt in the compliment, but Mystique chooses to ignore that and busies herself by bustling about Charles.
Erik watches the foster siblings chatter animatedly to each other with the ease of familiarity. Well, Raven is practically bouncing words about how the the fledging mutants so recently under their care are doing back at the mansion, and her new life, while Charles lies back and happily listens, too exhausted to contribute equally to actual conversation. It's sweetly touching, and for a few minutes Erik vicariously shares in the joy.
Raven glances at Erik and generously gestures for him to join in. "Magneto has been a most devoted mother hen," she teases, "flapping about her chick."
Charles smiles slightly, amused and clearly touched. "Is that so?"
"I am not a female chicken," Erik tries to interject feebly, helplessly chuckling at the undignified image of himself fluttering about.
Raven giggles, "But you did flap."
All three look at each other, and fall to laughing.
In one of the living rooms of the now horribly quiet and extravagantly large mansion, Alex sits in a similar posture to the one he held in prison, his head buried in his hands. Sean for once is silent, and that is telling of the tension under which they all labor, while Hank curves his furred, clawed hands and growls softly every so often. At last Moira breaks into speech, saying what is on all their minds.
"We need to get Charles back."
"But ..." Hank hesitates. "We don't know even know where he is."
Alex puts in, "There're the letters from Raven. Can you trace them?"
Sean reminds, "She warned us not to try to find them. If Magneto wanted, he could just have the scary-looking red dude move them somewhere else."
Moira straightens her bowed shoulders in determination. "It's been three weeks. We have to do something. Charles is owed that much, at least."
Her connections with the CIA are less than impressed with this line of reasoning. "I say good riddance, McTaggart," her superior snaps. "One missing mutant is not going to stir this department into unnecessary action."
"Charles Xavier is a hero!"
"He's damned dangerous and possibly on the run from state identification!"
Moira almost hits him before taking a deep breath to prevent herself from action which would only hurt her petition. More and more often she finds herself astounded by the incredible blindness and stupidity of her race.
"Is that what you're planning?" Alex demands, having heard the last part of the shouting match and coming up to them. "To round us off to jail when all we've done is prevent World War III? We saved your ungrateful asses-"
"You little hoodlum-" McCone glares threateningly and seems ready to call for backup.
"I'm quitting," Hank says suddenly, his yellow gaze cold.
McCone's lip curls angrily as he turns to the massive beast-like figure, and a look of disgust and fear is evident on his face. But McCoy is a genius. "You can't do that. You need to rebuild the Blackbird and show us how-"
"About that. I'm sure the minions working for you will figure something out." Sean guffaws at McCone's expression, and the strident sound drowns out the latter's furious reply.
After they have settled down from their ridiculous fit, Raven presses Erik to"take off that metal can" because "it's only Charles here."
Reminded, Erik withdraws immediately into himself. "He's why I have it on." The atmosphere in the room grows dismal. Raven bites her lip in vexation at her new leader's obstinacy and seems about to push the issue, but Charles pats her hand. "I'm sure Erik will divest himself of that uncomfortable monstrosity when he's ready," he assures her.
She smiles in reply, but is clearly troubled at this rift in the relationship between the two men dearest to her.
"Mystique." The commanding tone in Magneto's voice causes her to sit up straighter. "I think Angel needs someone to look in on her. After all, her wings are still recuperating."
"Yes, but-" Raven isn't entirely fond of Angel, but at a glance from Magneto, obeys with a quick squeeze to Charles' fingers. She exits the room after a promise to Charles to visit him again soon. There is a hint of disapproval in Charles' demeanor at Erik's treatment of his sister, but he chooses to remain silent for the moment.
Silence fills the room as the last sounds of Mystique's retreating steps die away. "Would you like to go outside?" Erik asks abruptly.
Charles' lips quirk in a genuine, boyish smile of delight, and Erik feels that fission of comfort at the palpable ease with which Charles still treats him. "That would be splendid."
Erik wheels Charles through the hospital gardens. The latter is obviously basking in the little sunlight, somewhat dim as it is hidden behind greyish clouds. "Even you have to admit you were wrong." Erik convinces himself that he will not act smugly on the strength of his better acumen regarding humans and their inevitable negative reactions.
"About?" Charles queries innocently, trying unsuccessfully to lean down and pick a flower; the chair's arm blocks him.
Erik rolls his eyes and seizes a thin wrist, forcing Charles to look up at him. "Don't be an idiot as well as naïve."
Charles squints exaggeratedly as he meets Erik's exasperated gaze. "The light is glinting off the metal on your head," he complains in a plaintive voice. Then he sighs deeply, looking away. "That was a poor sampling of the much vaunted humanity of homo sapiens."
"Then, don't you see what must be done?" Erik lets Charles' hand go, only to crouch down and grasp his shoulders a moment later in his desperation to persuade the man.
Charles does not flinch, meeting his gaze squarely now. "There is still a chance for reconciliation. Humans and mutants can live together. I believe it."
"They don't." Erik starts to run his fingers through his hair before remembering the helmet. "How can you, who can read minds, still have this blind faith in their goodness?"
What do you know about me?
Charles smiles, in a manner sad yet strangely bright. "The same way I believe that you, my friend, will be the better man."
"How are the others doing? Hank, Alex, Sean, Moira …?" Charles inquires of Raven, who is fussing with his blankets. He is dressed in casual clothing, the result of much irritation with hospital gowns.
"The last I heard, they were fine." Raven avoids his questioning gaze, looking somewhat guilty, a slight flush under the blue color of her cheeks.
"Fine?" he repeats slowly, sitting up despite his sister's attempts to make him lie down. She bites her lip at seeing the struggle even this small movement is. "When was the last time you heard from them?"
"A few weeks ago," she says defensively. "I was a bit concerned about your well-being, you know. And Erik's off building something-"
"I'm as recovered as I'll be without walking out that door," Charles says, a little more harshly than he intends. Raven flinches.
Perceiving this, Charles sighs and leans back. "I'm sorry. I'm not angry with you."
"Are you angry with Magneto?" Raven asks quietly, after a pause.
"Should I be? If I were to be trapped in this place, that would be adequate reason for me to harbor some resentment against him, wouldn't it?"
She is genuinely shocked. "Charles, how can you think we'd imprison you? As soon as you're well ..." Her face crumples. "On the beach, I thought we'd have to part ways forever. But if you stay with us, then-"
"Dear Raven." He takes her hand and holds it in his own. "Don't fret. I didn't mean to upset you." She tries to smile at him and doesn't quite succeed, and eventually leaves the room. Charles settles back into the bed and lifting his fingers to his temple, closes his eyes.
A startled gasp. Charles! Are you alright? Where are you?
I'm doing as well as can be expected. How is everyone?
Bearing up. Don't worry. Now, answer my question. Where are you?
An island—the mental connection is suddenly cut off. Erik had come in unnoticed and immediately
guessed what Charles was doing. Swearing, he pulls Charles' hand away from his head and smashes it onto the metal railing. Charles winces but keeps silent, only looking at Erik reproachfully.
"You were contacting that woman, weren't you." It is not a question.
Charles does not bother to deny the accusation. "It's Moira. And you can't keep me here." He stares pointedly at the grip Erik still has on his hand. Erik expels an angry breath and releases his hold.
What did you just do to me?
"If you'd only see sense—"
"You mean your way of things. We will be forever divided on this subject. As you once said, do you have it in you to allow that?" Erik has to smile a little at how Charles is so dependent on his mind-reading ability that without it, he usually miscalculates people's reactions and chooses exactly the wrong words to say.
It was a very beautiful memory, Erik. Thank you.
With that prompting, he had moved the satellite, a veritable and proverbial mountain. He can't do without such strength, not when he needs it the most in the coming war against humans. And he certainly cannot let it be on the opposing side.
"Come with me," Erik says abruptly. Charles frowns in confusion, but is given no choice as Erik throws off the blankets and lifts him with less than maximum effort, depositing his burden onto the wheelchair.
"Where are we going?" Charles asks a little nervously but as yet without real fear; Erik wheels him through the empty hallways. His inability to read Erik's mind has him groping for a consciousness to latch onto. A few nurses are at the outer edges of the hospital; the center of the building is curiously lacking in people.
Erik doesn't answer him. There is a nearly visible aura of fury emanating from his body, and only belatedly does Charles, not seeing him, realize this. He cranes his neck to face his friend. "Erik, what's wrong?"
Erik laughs shortly, the sound harsh in both their ears. "You really don't know, do you?" The wheelchair whirls around to face him, and Charles grips the arms to stop himself from lurching. He frowns, clearly wondering what is going on Erik's erratic mind. "Sometimes I wonder who's the telepath, me or you."
Listen to me very carefully, my friend.
"So clueless," Erik mocks with an affected air of carelessness. "Defenseless. Pathetic." Despite his words, Charles' earlier, heartfelt words and others, said over the course of a few weeks, has reverberated in his head and embedded themselves into his skin, and he wonders if Charles really isn't in his mind.
Charles' mouth tightens and his eyes narrow. What would surely be a painful mental blow to Erik dissipates into a pressure hard enough to make him stagger back, but only for a few moments, while Charles falls back, exhausted from the effort as well as his weeks of enforced bed rest.
Two nurses come running, a blank expression on their plain faces, presumably called by Charles. "Will you take me back to my room, please," Charles requests of them, a hard look on his face as he glares at Erik. So he has ruffled the great telepath's composure. He wants Charles to be angry, to make his own ire rise, to make this easier for himself
Killing Shaw will not bring you peace.
No, peace is not an option, not when a formidable dilemma presents itself so blindly, so idiotically before him. Erik grins, though amusement is the last thing he feels, and blocks the blank-faced women from assisting Charles. "Call off your slaves."
"They're not my slaves, and I'll do as I please-" Charles starts to say indignantly.
Erik interrupts him. "Not slaves? Seems like the worst kind of domination to me, that power you have. You're no saint; can you really say you haven't abused it?" He doesn't wait for an answer, and suddenly jerks his elbow a hair's breadth from one of the nurse's abundant belly. "Call them off, or they'll get hurt."
Charles stares at him, shocked at this turn of events. "But ... they're innocent," he begins tremulously.
"Not as long as they're under your control."
After a long moment, Charles takes a deep breath, and as if on cue the two women turn around and stiffly walk back down the hall. "Very well. I've done as you wanted. Now will you kindly inform me of the reason for such threats of violence?"
Erik ignores his demand. "If you call anyone else, I promise you there will be casualties." This is Charles' main weakness, one of many; his care for these wretched, weak humans.
"You've made your point quite clear. No need for demonstration, thank you," Charles says tightly. Erik surprises him by laughing. "So proper, even in a dire situation."
"Is this a dire situation?" Charles asks carefully.
They've reached an innocuous-seeming door, and he maneuvers the young man in the wheelchair through it. Inside is a white-washed room, much like any other in a hospital, except that it is bare of any but toilet accessories and a shower; there are curious slits in the roof.
Depleted of energy by his mental exertions, Charles has had his eyes closed until he feels the wheelchair movements stop. "Why are we stopping here?" he murmurs tiredly.
Erik smiles oddly, though since he is behind Charles, the latter can't see it. "You could say we've reached the end of a long hallway and are standing at a door."
"Well, of course-" Charles says irritably, fingers coming up to rub aching temples. Suddenly he sits up and takes stock of his surroundings. "Where are we?"
"Would you care to repeat your response to my invitation?"
Charles stares at him, knowing immediately this time what Erik means. "I won't be a part of this—this genocidal devastation. Can't you see it'll only end in total destruction for everyone involved?"
"Is that your final answer?" Erik inquires, in an eerily quiet voice, the game-show humor of the question lost in the tense moment.
Charles on a subconscious level realizes Erik's plans but still cannot bring himself to believe his friend capable of such action. "I—yes-"
In a smooth motion, metal screens fall into place from the slits in the roof. Charles' eyes widen at the sudden silence in his ever probing mind.
"Nice, isn't it? It's designed of the same material as this helmet. If you can be kept out, surely … you can be kept in."
"Erik … let me go." Magneto does not answer, his eyes hooded and dark beneath the helmet's shadow as Charles tries to suppress his growing fear at the awful silence of the void into which he has been forced. "Let me go!" He pulls ineffectually at his wheelchair, but the metal of the wheels is rooted to the ground.
When you can access all that, you will possess a power no one can imagine.
"It's your decision, Charles." Magneto pauses at the door, his back to his former friend as he speaks. "But there's only one choice." And then he is left, utterly alone.
Not even me.
Hours later, Erik returns to the room with a tray of food. Charles is dozing fitfully, trying to get into a comfortable position in his chair on the other side of the room. Like this, he looks small, much unlike the forceful presence he puts forth to the world. The existence of the powerful mind inside the slight body curled in on itself is difficult to believe.
Deflecting the bullet away from himself … a scream from Raven, and a choked cry from Charles … turning .. falling … hitting the sand …
He himself doesn't understand why he's doing what he is.
After putting the tray down, Erik closes his hand into a fist. Metal from the wheelchair's arms snake around Charles' wrists and close around them. He does not bother with the ankles. "What-!" Charles wakes up and releases a startled gasp.
In a few long strides Erik is across the room and leaning over him, grasping his chin and looking carefully at his face. Charles' features are too boyishly soft to be considered handsome, but there is something indescribably charming and charismatic about him when he chooses to exercise his considerable talents.
Charles tries to twist away but bound as he is, fails. His hands clench on the wheelchair and he shuts his eyes to avoid Erik's examining gaze.
"How long are you planning to keep me here?" he snaps through gritted teeth.
Erik releases him. "Well, that depends on your cooperation."
"She's on a mission for me and won't be back for some weeks. The others, if not entirely approving, won't interfere."
"Are you putting her in danger?" Charles demands furiously.
"We all knew the potential consequences when forming the Brotherhood." Erik goes over to the tray and wheels it over.
"Is that what the Brotherhood does? Send children to fight? For God's sake, Erik-"
"She's not a child," Erik retorts coldly. "That assumption was your mistake and why she chose to come with me instead of stay with you."
Charles bites back a response, miserably recognizing the truth of Erik's statement.
Despite his attempts to plan his next move, Erik has spent the last few hours thinking and has come to the conclusion that, in some way, he is in almost as deplorable a condition as Charles must be.
It is as though Charles can read his mind, as he laughs softly in a bitter tone. "Am I causing a hitch in the Almighty Magneto's agenda? Is that why he's come to punish the erring mortal with remembrances of failure?"
"You're doing this to yourself," Erik returns evenly.
You did this.
"Allow me to differ from that biased opinion. You're absconding from responsibility again," Charles reprimands, in a nearly normal voice. "Do you think, even if you succeed in what you want, there won't be a human weapon who rises up against your tyranny, your persecution of his kind, much as yourself?"
No, Erik. You … you did this.
"Don't presume to lecture me," Erik warns, the metal tray beneath his fingers twisting frightfully. An apple rolls precariously to the edge, and the milk in a bowl of cereal sloshes over the side.
Charles grins, a ghostly and chilling remnant of his usual warming smile. "Come on, then. I'm obviously unarmed, while you've seen to having the entire room at your disposal. I can't fight back. Isn't that the kind of victim you want, you bastard?"
There are thousands of men on those ships. Good, honest, innocent men.
Erik flushes with anger. His righteous crusade is being turned into mere bloodlust. The metal of the wheelchair writhe around Charles' wasted body, a handle even wrapping around his throat, before Erik regains control of himself and recognizes the edge of desperation underlying Charles' words.
Erik laughs, the sound echoing dully in the room. "Good try, Charles. You won't goad me into hitting you."
Found out, Charles goes white. "God, Erik," he says in a ragged whisper. "You don't know … you don't know what you're doing to me. There is nothing, nothing ..."
"I'm sure only you can appreciate the full experience, but do let me know how it goes," Erik replies in a clinical tone, in an unaware mimicry of Shaw's professionalism. He bends down to ensure that the wheelchair is put back in proper order.
Freed, Charles leans forward and spits in his face. "You didn't kill Shaw, you meglomaniac. You're his living embodiment, his greatest success."
Before he can stop himself, the child who watched his mother die rebels against this assertion and wins over the adult who overtly agrees with it, and Erik's arm lashes Charles across the face. Charles reels, the wheelchair almost tipping over before it and his head slams into the wall behind him.
I don't want to hurt you … don't make me!
The wheelchair is still tottering and finally falls over, taking with it Charles, who is too dazed to even instinctively protect himself when he hits the floor.
The wheels on the chair spin idly.
The memory of grappling for the fate of the men on the ships on the beach, gaining the upper hand, striking the weaker body struggling under his—Erik, stop!-until Charles' head snapped to the side, becomes more real than the metallic room where he is standing lost and afraid. Erik steps back shakily and surveys the damage, his hand reaching out involuntarily.
I'm so sorry ... I-I said back off!
Several more weeks pass dully, and the phantasmal pain gripping Erik is almost ever-present, like the weight of the helmet on his head, even when he's not in the same room with Charles. He doesn't need the helmet now, actually, and it would be a material relief to have it off, but he finds himself placing it on his head every day, as though he's going to battle.
Magneto schemes of mutant supremacy; his latest project has Mystique gone with Frost to quietly sound out what the higher-up humans were thinking and contriving after the missile debacle. Azazeal is with them to be able to spirit them away should anything go amiss. Riptide and Angel have gone scouting for other mutants Shaw earlier had come across, to persuade them to join the better side of the coming war.
Erik thinks of Charles. As time wore on, the man had tried a few more tactics. Screaming is not an option; the outer walls behind the metal are soundproof, and before leaving Frost had ensured that the few doctors and nurses in the building do not come near his room; they do not even question Charles' sudden disappearance from his bed. The long-term mental implant had been a taxing and time-consuming effort for Frost, but she had known enough not to question his reasons. Now they don't even see him coming and going.
She doesn't particularly care for the idea of two operating telepaths—one is superfluous. She's taken care to be useful to Magneto—her side mission is to block, frustrate, and otherwise thwart 'Moira and friends' efforts to find Charles when, inevitably, they look to the government for resources.
Magneto is the only one remaining at this little island hideaway. He tells the others it's because his powers were so prominently on display, with the lifting of the submarine and the turning of the missiles, that he ought to recuperate as well as allow the humans some deceptive breathing room.
Charles had tried to starve himself, but Erik quickly put a stop to that when he noticed the increasing pallor of the other man's skin and the protrusion of his bones where the thin pajamas fell against his originally slim, now almost emaciated, body. He had force-fed him, brutally when necessary. It had seemed to work; a few days later, he recognized the smell of vomit in the sink.
Mutely defiant at first, Charles had broken down after Erik had taken the opportunity to remind him that Moira and the little school of mutants were increasingly becoming a nuisance with their blatant inqueries on Charles' and thus Erik's location. They could, he tonelessly reminded Charles, become casualties in war.
In truth, he doesn't know if he could bring himself to harm the little group, faltering already without their kindly leader. But Charles doesn't know what Magneto won't do anymore.
Today he finds a fully clothed Charles slumped in the shower, open-eyed, the water running, running like a sheet of clear, flexible metal over him. Erik reaches over and switches off the shower head. The blank expression on Charles' face doesn't suit him—he is always alert and searching.
Many times in the last few weeks Erik has questioned himself, his quest. And so often he has wanted to go back a time when he and Charles were not at odds, when he had been part of a family, laughing as Banshee attempted to fly. Havok's attempts to direct his destructive energy were less amusing in nature, but still evoked smiles. So few memories he had of those moments, so very few, yet each one worth remembering, like those he had of his mother.
But invariably he lets the fear and isolation he felt under Shaw's clinical treatment take over, sharpening and hardening into an irresistible pride in his own kind's superiority and the need to secure the continuance of the species.
Charles had only said aloud what Erik already knew and thought he had accepted. Erik has for all intents and purposes become Magneto, and Magneto is Shaw's creation.
But there is an inexorable part of Erik that has come to need Charles, even when he knows that what he wants is falling through his fingers the harder he tries to hold it.
One morning, as Erik enters and his eyes sweep the room through habit, he realizes that the wheelchair and room are empty. It's impossible, but he can't deny the evidence of absence directly before him. He is too shocked to even recognize the air whistling as Charles swings the heavy metal tray into his back. Erik stumbles forward, grunting in pain as he hits the ground; the metal helmet has no padding. Bright lights explode in his head. Stunned, he dimly realizes Charles has thrown the door open and then managed to pull off his helmet, hitting him again to ensure that he will stay down.
Through dangerously wavering vision he only then understands what he sees when claw-like hands drag him onto his back. Charles is precariously standing over him holding the helmet, chest heaving, sweat dampening his hair. "I should kill you-" Charles hisses, pale face flushed with exertion and righteous fury.
The helmet seems to fall down toward him, and Erik is too dazed to block it. Then abruptly everything coalesces into silent darkness.
Charles staggers out the door, bloodstained metal dragging at his fingers.
Author's note: I had a few questions about Charles "staggering" out the door. So, in this story, the doctors' verdict was that Charles MIGHT walk again. During his imprisonment, Charles has secretly been regaining the use of his legs as a hidden card up his sleeve while Erik thought he had the upper hand; then Charles stages his desperate escape attempt.
Thanks to those who reviewed!
When Mystique and Frost return to the remote island hospital to rest and make their report to Magneto, they are greeted with absolute quiet. Having grown to depend on each other despite a continued mutual coolness of personal feelings, Mystique changes into her lovely blond persona and nods to the icily beautiful Frost to examine the situation. Azazeal walks at her elbow, blades at the ready as Mystique switches on the lights.
Bodies slumped in the hallways alert them them to obvious fact that something is very wrong. "They're just unconscious, for a day at least," Frost informs her wary companions. "Don't worry for now; there are no hostile persons here."
"Where are Magneto and Charles?" Mystique inquires in worry, glancing around. Relaxing, she turns back into her blue form as she and Azazeal look into the rooms.
Frost concentrates again, then frowns. "The telepath's trademark signal is all over this place but he himself isn't here."
"Charles did this?" Mystique demands in disbelief. "He must have been frightened—defending himself-"
Frost shrugs elegantly. "Whatever happened, it was powerful, and apparently Xavier didn't care about leaving strong traces of mental tampering,"
On her regular questioning on Charles' condition, Magneto had tersely given the same answer: since her departure Charles had slipped into a temporary coma, but the doctors were sure he would wake up soon. Soon had become weeks and then a few months, and Raven wanted to come back, even for a moment, with Azazeal, but Magneto had ordered her to remain so as not to alert any surveillance that might be following them.
Raven couldn't fathom what could have caused Charles to assail these people. Maybe he had woken up and been disoriented—and where was Magneto?
"There're something ... conflicted ... dark ... at the end of the hallway," Frost comments a little uncertainly as they venture further into the hospital. "I think … it's Magneto."
Raven breaks into a run, but skids to a stop at the partially open doorway, somewhat afraid of what she'll discover. She steels herself, however, and pushes the metal door open.
Inside there are, peculiarly enough, sheets of metal on the walls, and she vaguely notices that the door locks from the outside. It takes a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dim lighting, and she sees the glint of Magneto's helmet thrown haphazardly. Then … Magneto is lying on the floor, so still that when Raven drops to her knees to hurriedly check his vitals, she almost misses the slow rise and fall of his chest. There is a small pool of blood underneath his head, trailing from a cut on his scalp.
"The telepath's handiwork again," Frost says, walking up behind Mystique.
Azazeal grunts. "Xavier's wreaked some impressive havoc here while we were away."
In panic Mystique gestures for Frost to come closer. "Can you do anything?"
Frost closes her eyes and concentrates. "It'll take a few days for him to wake up, if he's lucky; it feels like Xavier just blasted his mind—but not at full power, otherwise, he wouldn't be alive at all."
Mystique's lips tremble and tears trickle down her face as conflicting fury heats in her breast. "Charles—why would you do this!"
I'm still thinking about that alternate slash scene, but I'm not sure I have the mental maturity to write it at the moment. Right. Darn. :p Much thanks to Bianca for helping me brainstorm for this chapter/story! This didn't quite turn out the way it was planned, but hey, it's out. :p And my gratitude to those who favorite/story alert/(and especially) review! You keep me writing, even when I don't want to! :)
Lurching like a drunken man on the beach, Charles fights to stay conscious and focus.
Charles! Don't fob me off—where are you!
He tells her and a mental image of his surroundings, then collapses in the sand to the sound of the waves gently lapping the shore and the last thoughts of Hank: We've coming … don't worry about anything … just don't move!
Sean: We sure missed you … you're one wanted guy … but not like on the criminal list ...
Alex: You don't know what we would have given for a telepath these past few months …
A few hours later, Charles is safely wrapped in blankets and sleeping fitfully on the floor of a compact, silent helicopter designed by Hank technically for government purposes, but cleared by Mr. Nathaniel Price. Mr. Price has proven helpful on this occasion, even if his only human reach could not penetrate Magneto's superhuman barrier of silence on Charles' whereabouts.
In fact, only Hank and Moira are really needed for the present, the former to pilot and the latter to care for Charles, but Alex had argued loudly about emergency situations and once Banshee opened his mouth, everyone else shut theirs.
Moira closes her eyes and tightens her comforting grip on Charles' clammy hand. The telepath is very pale and drawn, and from his troubled murmurings it is clear that his dreams are not pleasant.
"Will the Professor be okay?" Sean asks in a whisper which suppressed emotion causes to screech a bit. The window panes rattle in irritation, everyone winces … and Charles remains motionless. Hank calls from the front, "We've already checked his vitals—nothing's physically wrong with him."
Alex chews on his lower lip, and mutters, "But everything's not all fine ..." The immediate area around his chest glows red just a very little bit, and immediately detecting the rising temperature from the control panels in the small enclosed space, Hank growls a warning.
Moira tries to smile encouragingly. "Come on, boys. We need to give Charles more time than three hours to recover from whatever he's been through." Pressed by urgency, they had forborne from investigating the rest of the tiny island; they had what they had come for.
Alex asks earnestly, "You'd tell us if the situation was really bad, wouldn't you?"
"Of course not," Moira quips warmly. "What kind of honest person do you think I am?"
Sean grins, then starts to blink tiredly. "I think … I'll take a nap," he announces. Without further ado or bothering to change clothes, he settles down comfortably beside the sleeping Charles and forthwith nods off. After a few minutes, Alex's eyes droop and he tilts precariously from his perch on the other side of Charles until he's snoring softly as well.
They'd been pulled at a moment's notice from their beds in the wee hours of the morning, but now that they had acquired their precious cargo, they can rest peacefully.
Moira blinks back tears. Her boys. But when Hank begins to emit deep-throated yawns, she quietly threatens to sing bawdy Irish songs with a Scottish accent.
I'm throwing a question out there: does anyone want to continue this story? Since I've brainstormed a few overarching ideas and themes for Absolution, I wouldn't mind sharing them with the super unfortunate person who fancies taking this story on. :)
I would be happy to have some input on the future of Absolution, but as I'm not really sure about it actually HAVING a future, especially when I start school again in the fall, I don't want to disappoint the many kind people who have taken an interest in it.
If no one takes the bait, I'll struggle on. Poor me. ^-^
After much deliberation (a few minutes of chatting with someone :p) I've decided that this will be more of an emotional, angsty story (no, really?) instead of an action-filled epic. Many, many thanks to the super awesome Red Aurora who wrote the last part of this installment as an alternate version of what happens/gave me ideas, and went back and forth with me on how this story should go. I couldn't have done it without her, and of course you guys who review. I really ALMOST gave up, and then a few super kind people reviewed just in time to boost me.
Thanks for waiting!
Hi guys! Red Aurora here. I'm gonna be helping out on this fic. Hopefully I can make a positive contribution We made a few tweaks, the biggest one probably being that Charles took Erik's helmet with him when he left, so just note that. I think that's about all I have to say. Hope you enjoy!
By Winnie (aeskis):
Several days later, when Erik wakes up, he does so laughing.
Mystique, who is standing beside the hospital bed, flinches back as though he has gone insane. In all probability he has. Riptide stares and if anything can be discerned from Azazeal's forever imperturbable crimson face, he too is troubled at the possibility that their leader has mentally snapped. Only Frost shrugs, but even she is at least mildly surprised.
"Why are you laughing?" Mystique demands in bewilderment, after many moments pass and Erik continues to chuckle wildly. "I don't see anything funny about this situation!"
At last his ironic mirth subsides, but he's still grinning, an expression infused with a pained grimace. "My God, Charles," Erik finally whispers breathlessly, spent from his fit of terrible merriment. "Between rage and serenity, eh?"
At night the dreams of the four in the mansion are disturbed with blurry flashes of images involving an oddly distorted Magneto, but mostly feelings of unbearable loneliness and a building fury.
Charles is projecting again.
After the flight, as if on cue Charles had woken and asked for some water. In response Moira had cajoled him into eating as well. He had smiled weakly at the numerous questions about his present condition, but for some strange reason no one could bring himself (in Moira's case, herself) to ask about what had happened. Surely Charles would tell them in his own time.
He goes through the motions of rehabilitating with a personal physical therapist and a doctor to monitor his progress to strengthen his body. The physician says frankly that he is shocked at the medical anomaly of Charles managing to walk at all. It's almost as though, he adds, Charles mentally willed himself to walk again.
Moira and the boys don't argue with that assessment. After all, Charles might very well be capable of it.
But despite outward signs of progress, clearly the past few months bother him greatly. He frequently stares off into nothing, lost in his own troubled thoughts. When the helicopter rescuing him had first landed at the mansion, he had stared and stared as if he had never seen it before.
To be honest, Hank, Alex and Sean are afraid to broach the subject of their mentor's obvious internment, while Moira tries desperately to give her dear friend the space he needs. They are all worried that, while the release of words may bring healing, it might cause a complete breakdown as well, one from which the sensitive and currently vulnerable Charles will not recover.
However tightly Charles reins in his emotions during the day, he cannot control them when he sleeps and his careful guard dissipates into unconsciousness. The first night Charles slept without the others in his room Sean had actually woken up screaming, a strident alarm which had the effect of gathering everyone into the living room. Charles had been the last to arrive, pallid and appearing sickly. He had paused in the doorway, blanching further as he quickly scanned everyone's minds.
"I'm so sorry," he says quietly. "I didn't mean for this to happen." He sighs wearily. "I think it would be best if we separated, and—"
"No," Hank says immediately and decidedly for all of them. "We want to be here." He smiles reassuringly, and jokes cautiously, "Besides, remember that we have nowhere else to go?"
The three boys almost in unison suddenly recall with striking clarity the offer both Shaw and Magneto made them, to join them in their cause of forcefully championing mutant supremacy. Not one can deny that he was tempted, but after recalling the kindness with which each had been received, especially Charles' warm reception, they had pulled back from that abyss. And now, after seeing what the potential violence of Magneto's ideas, they think that he can keep them to himself.
After a long silence, Alex is the first, with a timidity uncharacteristic to his usual brashness, to ask, "… why?"
The empty metal helmet on the fireplace mantle, incongruous beside dainty figurines and porcelain wares, glints an eerie crimson in the light of the dancing flames. Charles glances over at the memento a moment before meeting the gazes of his friends; he runs a hand over his tousled hair and tries to smile. In addition to her worrying, the fastidious woman in Moira notes that he needs a haircut. "It's … difficult to express."
It is at this point that each of them wishes he was a telepath.
"I should kill you," Charles hisses, a frightening snarl distorting the usual ineffable smile.
Erik can only squint at him uncomprehendingly from the ground, darkness washing in and out of his vision. His head and lower back throb agonizingly, and he can feel but does not understand a warm wetness trickling down his neck.
For a few heartstopping moments Charles simply stands unsteadily with the helmet raised in his hands, glaring down at Erik. Then he collapses to his knees and half-sobbing, screams hoarsely his frustration and impotent fury, a trembling wreck of the man he had been.
Soon Charles gathers some control and drags himself to Erik, who is still staring dazedly at the white ceiling. "You … will never … hurt me again," he promises bitterly. He places the fingers of one hand on his temple, and presses the others to the side of Erik's bloodied head.
And then there is oblivion.
"Charles!" Magneto abruptly comes awake, heart pounding. The metal in the devices monitoring his condition begin to rattle alarmingly.
In a chair beside him, Mystique jolts from a light doze, blue skin rippling in alarm. "What's wrong?" she inquires immediately in concern.
For a few moments he doesn't answer her, rather occupied with finding that answer out for himself. As blank succeeds blank, however, he has to concede defeat. "What just happened?" Magneto asks finally, pressing the palms of his hands to his burning eyes. Directly before waking, he had grasped something very important—
Mystique automatically starts to answer, and then pauses. "What do you remember?" she presses instead.
He tries to think, and his thoughts sputter out in fragments. "A white room—a red flash of pain—Charles standing over me—black—"
Her lips thinned in anger at this revelation of past events, Mystique nevertheless reminds him gently, "That was a week ago. You've been in and out of it ever since."
Even as he looks at her, uncomprehending of the amount of time he has lost, the memories return with violence and shutter through his mind like the horrendous fast forward of a film on a theater screen. Magneto goes stiff, his face becoming blank in reaction to the internal conflict roiling within.
"We know what happened," Mystique assures him, completely misreading his expression. "Don't blame yourself. You couldn't have stopped Charles if he wanted to leave." Her features harden. "He must have lost his mind and just struck out. That's the only way I can believe he'd hurt anyone like that."
Magneto stares at her. If they all know, how can she sit there so calmly, so anxious to comfort him?
She thinks she knows what happened, a dry voice says in his mind. And it is then that Magneto notices the absence of his helmet. And I await your directions, Magneto, as to whether I should continue to allow her misapprehensions.
A headache begins to build, and absently he rubs his temple. I … I'll tell her myself. And get out of my head, Frost, he adds as an afterthought. With a turn of a mental high heel, Emma complies.
Once a potential ally and brother-in-arms, Charles is now a terrible liability and loose cannon. Magneto can admit his own destructive role in the dynamics of their relationship, but if Charles had only listened … fuck. Everything has gone so very wrong.
"Tell me what you found in Washington and Moscow," he instructs Mystique brusquely. She smiles in relief at this return to normal behavior and begins to report.
Later, he thinks. I'll tell her the truth … and think about what to do with Charles … later. He doesn't think he can take Mystique's betrayed expression at the moment.
Sometime afterward Mystique pats his hand and leaves as Magneto cites a headache. In fact images of his former friend occupy his thoughts despite his attempts to thrust them from his mind, and the myriad ugly possibilities sink brutal teeth into him.
If he'd assumed Charles could be forced into submission, he had certainly been proven wrong. Magneto is furious for allowing himself to be so easily deceived; he had assumed Charles' blank pliancy to be the sign of a bending mind, and all the while it had been a convincing act to allay suspicion. And then, from that heady moment on the beach, when he had held all the cards of fortune on his side and Charles had been helpless to stop him, he had arrogated the notion that he was the more powerful.
But he had underestimated Charles' ability for subterfuge, though really he ought to have known better. Had he not prided himself on his ability to read men and their dark natures? And if a metaphor had to be made, Magneto thinks wryly, Charles had let him wallow in that arrogance and then drowned him in it.
There is still that damnable part of him that wants the man's company—his advice—his friendship, just as much as when he first tried to forcibly keep Charles by his side. But he has forfeited all that; mortal battle lines have now been drawn, and there will be no return to happier times.
Still, such irony, that although their goals take such different routes, their paths will inevitably intersect.
Charles opens his eyes. He is in his bedroom and it is dark. But in his mind he is still in a blindingly white prison.
By the time a week has elapsed, Charles is forced to realize that he has entangled himself in a terrible difficulty from which he may never be able to extract himself. In a moment of despair and fury, he had sought to ensure that Erik could never again use the helmet as a shield against his abilities, but it seemed that the opened link worked both ways.
Erik. He is constantly in his thoughts. No, not in them; he is them. Though of course Charles can read and manipulate minds, he now finds that such an intimate connection with another person is intensely undesirable, especially when what he wants is to rid himself of all traces of Magneto.
He dreads the nights. They bring on the ghouls of his and Erik's fears and entwine them into hideous monstrosities. Particularly they center on the frustrating future potentials and alternative pasts, what could happen and different outcomes for what has already occurred. Worse, often those dreams tantalizingly reveal a kinder present than the reality. Charles can summarily solve this problem, as much as he had the opportunity at the time of his escape. He can wipe Magneto's mind, force him to become molten metal, re-forged to another shape and texture more to his liking, and then this damnable second, invasive consciousness would no longer trouble him.
But … there is Erik. Charles has taken away the helmet; in fact, even with it on, Charles would still be able to reach him, because an irrevocable chain has been forged between them. Without the previously impenetrable metal, however, which had dehumanized into a demon the man who had incarcerated him, Charles cannot help but know him as Erik. When Charles recalls the awed expression of happiness on his face as he brought the memory of Erik's mother to the surface, then he can believe that there truly is more to him than pain and anger.
Now, with Erik's heart seeming to beat in his chest, Charles can begin to understand the desperate desire of the man to keep him, even in a prison. And he cannot take the final step to destroy his jailer, even at the cost of escape.
"Charles Xavier was born to a world divided … a world he tried to heal … a mission he never saw accomplished."
In a world without Charles Xavier, the single greatest opposing force to his ideal of world mutant supremacy—Erik is lost, his moral compass shattered. Erik might have deliberately turned away from Charles' laughably compassionate aim to unite the world, for humans and mutants to coexist in peace—but he had always known that, should he wish to face his once-friend, Charles would return the defiant, angry gaze with a serenely welcoming smile of his own.
Where is he? A beautiful young woman with shocking white hair speaks tearfully in front of an assembled group of somber people, themselves a spectrum of ethnic colors, ages, and social classes. As he orients himself, Erik realizes a sense of being omnipresent in a way he has never before experienced; he can feel the terrible sadness present in the small gathering, the mourning thoughts of farewell. Erik tries to shut his eyes. He knows he succeeds, but his vision remains unimpaired, and he stares in horror at the tombstone of a man he does not physically recognize but whose name he certainly does.
"Charles was more than a leader, more than a teacher; he was a friend."
Erik struggles to take in the ceaseless flow of mental, emotional and sensory information. He does not understand what is happening, still fixated on the words etched in stone. Charles Xavier. He forces Charles to hold a gun to his head. Charles tries, honestly tries, but is unable to pull the trigger. "I can't shoot anyone, let alone my friend," he argues in what would be a convincing line for anyone else other than Erik. Charles asks permission to look into Erik's mind in order to find the mental block; he grants it, and is stunned to discover tears silently falling down his face at the sheer loveliness of the recollection. "It was a very beautiful memory, Erik. Thank you," Charles tells him, sincerely and similarly touched.
Was. Was more than … was …a friend.
"When we were afraid, he gave us strength. And when we were alone, he gave us a family."
"I thought I was alone," Erik gasps, spitting out icy water. Charles smiles breathlessly at him, lights from the ship glimmering in his eyes like a beacon of hope. "You're not alone, Erik. You're not alone." There treading the dark ocean directly next to a line of gleaming white ships filled with military and government personnel, Erik still does feel alone, but with Charles Xavier. Somehow, the comfort is more than he had ever expected or dared to dream of.
"We must carry on his vision. And that's a vision … of a world … united."
The grinding movement of the Golden Gate Bridge. The monstrous demon who had once been a beautiful woman wreaking utter destruction on a planet vulnerable to the wars of homo sapiens against each other, and now to the conflict between homo sapiens and their mutant cousins. He hears the voice of an older man, accustomed to power and leadership, say solemnly, "Charles Xavier did more for mutants than you will ever know. My single greatest regret is that he had to die for our dream to live."
This cannot be his dream.
Had to die. Single greatest regret … Charles Xavier … dead.
And then he realizes that the voice speaking is Magneto.
There is a pathetic old figure sitting alone in the park, staring blindly at a partially played chess board. Veined, age-spotted hands reach out to hover over a black metal piece. Ever so slightly, it trembles under his outstretched fingers.
Unlike Erik, Charles is perfectly aware of where he is and what is happening. The defeated Magneto lives in a post-war world once again, a war he had perpetrated since the debacle on the beach. He would argue he hadn't begun it, that humans started it all by their persecution of mutants, setting out with the missiles flying toward a seemingly defenseless patch of sand in the ocean.
"Please, Erik … don't let it control you," Charles whispers into the quiet of his bedroom.
They stand the length of the room apart, but the distance makes no difference. They were as close, and as far, when hundreds of miles away.
Erik has committed an inexcusable act against Charles; Charles has done the unforgivable to Erik. And, though knowing the pace of each other's breathing, one cannot look into the eyes of the other without flinching back and something breaking within.
WARNING WARNING WARNING
This is an alternate scene to what has happened in Absolution so far, if Charles had not succeeded in escaping. This really has nothing to do with anything except for my awful imagination. It's non-con slash, so be warned. Hopefully not too graphic. Only I (aeskis) am guilty of this horrific crime against plot continuity and good friendship fics. OOC, seriously.
Please review. Please?
When Erik enters the sterile room, he can immediately see that Charles is missing. Shock rushes through him, and he barely senses the metal tray hurtling toward him in time. Instinctively he flings the attacker back even before turning, and he hears the soft thud of a body hitting the far wall and the clatter of metal onto the floor. Erik's eyes widen in disbelief. Charles is stumbling to his feet, shakily and holding onto the sink for support, but he is standing.
Fury courses through him, and he stalks toward Charles, his fingers curling and the metal of the tray rising in the air to seize Charles' wrists and bind them above his head to the metal towel rack.
"Well." The smooth menace in his voice is unmistakable. "This is an unexpected development. It was very dishonest of you to keep the truth from me. Did you really think your plan would work? When this entire room is metal and under my power?"
Charles grimaces at the too-tight grip of the handcuffs and shuts his eyes as Erik closes in on him. "I had to try." He tries to sound casual, even cool, but his fear is palpable in the small space between them.
From the loose fall of the plain cotton pajamas against his body, Erik can see clearly how thin Charles has become, when a few months ago he had already been slim. His face is white and strained, testament to how much his little effort had cost him, and he slumps forward, legs unable to hold him up. Charles keeps his eyes resolutely closed, until Erik slams a hand onto the wall, startling him.
"What do you think I should do to you?" he asks, almost conversationally.
"Let me go?" Charles suggests in a desperate attempt at humor. Erik's mouth curls. Even now Charles refuses to believe that Erik is serious, that he can persuade Erik to give up his plans. It's too late for any kind of reconciliation on his side; that's only possible if Charles gives in, and as his stunt revealed, Charles is far from convinced.
So close, Erik can smell the cheap soap on Charles' skin, the dampness of his slightly wet hair, look into the whites of his wide eyes, still so brightly blue, and the uncertain trembling of his mouth. And unexpectedly, terribly, Erik begins to get hard.
Even without his telepathy, Charles sees the sudden change in Erik's expression, though he does not understand it. Clearly he thinks violence is on Erik's mind because his face tightens in preparation for a blow. But he's wrong. Partly, at least. Erik does want to hurt Charles, to rip out his indomitable spirit and beautiful, naïve mind until he can finally feel absolved of what he is doing. He wants more. Cautiously, Erik lowers his head until he is nearly on level with Charles's forehead and trails a callused hand over his throat, past the opening of the shirt, and onto his heaving chest.
"Erik?" Charles questions falteringly, uncomprehending. "If you're going to hit me, get it over with."
Smiling darkly, Erik traces his fingers over Charles' full mouth, the soft skin of his boyish face. Charles stares at him in shock. Without warning, Erik lets the metal cuffs fall from the towel rack, though still clasped around thin wrists. Immediately Charles collapses, and only Erik's hold on his arms keeps him from falling to the floor. Grasping Charles' chin, Erik then lifts Charles' dismayed face to his, testing what begins as a brief press of lips together. It's only a taste, but Charles tries to squirm away and fails, too weak to put up an adequate fight. Nevertheless, he shoves futilely at Erik's chest, his hands beating a hopeless tempo.
"Erik—I don't understand—" he gasps after the second kiss, more demanding this time, with Erik deliberately holding Charles' jaw firmly to ensure he is not bitten when he slips a tongue into Charles' mouth. "I'm not—I don't—"
"You will." He tastes faintly of mint toothpaste, Erik notes in appreciation, clean and warmly wet within. Absolutely focused on his crusade for vengeance, heretofore Erik's sexual meetings had been used as necessary release. Whatever had been available was acceptable, men and women alike, although he had preferred the latter until now, their pliancy and softness under his greater strength.
"You're so helpless without your powers," Erik murmurs. "It's really quite remarkable. So very … human." He releases his hold on Charles' arms, and the latter at once crumples to the ground. Erik follows him, kneeling down and forcibly turning him over until Charles's back is pressed flush to his chest, one hand gripping his throat and the other on his hip.
Charles' voice rises in blind panic and he demands again, "What are you doing? Let me go! Erik!"
Erik muffles his voice against the back of his prisoner's neck, breathing him in. "You don't understand. I can't." And he's telling the truth. The feeling of Charles struggling helplessly against him, his ass unconsciously rubbing against Erik's awakening erection, is sending electric thrills through his body. He's wanted this for so long, Erik realizes. For all his kindness and generosity, Charles always carries with him an air of superiority, as though he knows all that comprises a person. It's an exhilarating relief to prove him wrong, as Erik had on the beach. To hold power over him. The adrenaline of keeping the missiles at bay and then having the power to send them toward the ships, the heady experience of physically overpowering the weaker Charles, the ability to hurt him, even as his conscience screams in strident protest, had been as powerful as sexual arousal.
Charles is his first friend, the true companion of his ambitions and desires, his only equal. But at the same time the predator in Erik, created by Shaw, wants to crush him, relegate him to nothing more than something to be used, as everyone has been in his life. He cannot bear to have another person be as precious to him as his mother, and though Charles has come to occupy a similar place in his heart he refuses to acknowledge the fact.
One hand still on Charles' throat in order to feel the rapid beat at the base, Erik draws his finger along the loose hemline of Charles' ridiculously innocuous pajama bottoms and abruptly pulls it down so that the telepath is naked from the waist down. Then he begins to rock, forward, back, and forward again, with increasingly fiercer snaps of his hips. He's throbbing, heat thrumming along in furious currents.
"Erik, please! Please … please … don't do this …" Charles' arms shake merely from the effort to keep him from slumping onto the floor. "If you hate me so much, kill me, hurt me, don't—don't—"
"You should say what you're thinking. You might feel better about this." Erik takes his hand off Charles' throat to reach around and grasp Charles' soft, shrinking flesh and begins to stroke roughly. Charles lets out a choked cry as his body betrays him and starts to respond. Lip curling in satisfaction, Erik spreads Charles' kneeling legs further apart for better access. "Oh God, oh God," Charles moans as he spills into Erik's hand.
"I doubt he can hear you." He had certainly ignored Erik's pleas for divine intervention as Shaw had tortured him and killed his mother. Gritting his teeth as memories of Shaw grinning above him holding a metal scalpel fill his mind, Erik gets up and leaves Charles collapsed on the floor, unable to manage more than a feeble movement of his traitorous limbs, and returns with a bottle of shampoo. "I hope this will be sufficient to prepare you. I hadn't thought to bring another sort of lubricant. Lack of foresight, you see."
"Erik, I know you aren't Shaw, that you're in pain. I understand. But you can't do this," Charles tries to reason calmly, voice quivering with agitation. Erik freezes, momentarily wondering if Charles has somehow read his mind. The thought passes, however, and he lifts Charles' hips off the floor with one hand and spreading him open, proceeds to lather his opening with the slippery substance of shampoo. When he inserts a finger, Charles shudders and begs him to stop. After a few minutes of this, he eases his erection out of his pants and positions himself.
"No. No. No." Charles groans, body spasming as Erik enters silently and resumes his harsh handling of Charles' groin. Even so soon afterward his release, Charles grows hard again, to Erik's cold amusement. Charles will never again tell Erik that he knows everything there is to know about him. Thrusting into Charles' tight heat, Erik continues the fucking for several unbearable minutes.
In the aftermath Charles lies motionless, but he whispers, "I'll never forgive you. Never. I swear to you."
Erik smiles hotly and reaches for him again. Charles flinches away when Erik grasps his arm and forces him onto his back. "Aren't you finished humiliating me?" he hisses through gritted teeth.
First task done, Erik proceeds to methodically tear at Charles' shirt until the other man is lying beneath him completely exposed, ragged edges of his pajamas trailing incongruously on the floor and wound around his ankles.
Charles, Charles. Still misunderstanding, even now. "Not yet," Erik tells him, the calmness in his voice at odds with the heat burning inside him.
He fists one hand in Charles' tousled hair, pulling his head back until Erik can trace his tongue over Charles' tightly compressed lips and down over his arched throat, where he bites down hard. The other hand travels leisurely down to fondle dark rosy nipples until Charles lets out a miserable moan, hips twisting unwillingly.
Charles has the ability to compel people to do as he wants, and even more, make them think they want it. Now Erik has this intoxicating power over him. He realizes now what he has to do in order to break Charles to his will, when all other ways have failed.
"Why—why are you—doing this to me?" Charles demands in a stuttered, broken sob.
Erik shrugs, making a point of keeping his face blank. "I shouldn't have to answer that. You're supposed to know everything about me." Simply from hearing and touching Charles, he is unbearably hard again, but he plans to proceed more slowly this time, to ensure that Charles knows exactly what is happening and who is doing it to him.
"Did you dream of doing this with Moira?" Erik asks casually. He will erase any thought of the kind from Charles' mind, of course. "Don't lie."
Charles glares at him furiously, trying hopelessly to raise himself on his elbows but falling back. "It's none of your business."
"So you did think about it."
Charles starts to shake uncontrollably when Erik moves to place himself between Charles' legs, hands on the pale thighs to spread them open. "Did it end this way?"
"I would never force her to—" Charles gulps in great breaths of air as he tries not hyperventilate.
"No fantasies about it? Really? She's a strong woman. If you didn't charm her with your terrible pick-up lines, she might fight you. But you could take care of that, with a thought, literally."
"No!" Charles cries out as Erik penetrates him. The fucking this time is slow and deliberate and Erik takes more care, but it is still strong enough to hurt, especially after so recent a session. His back curves up, fingers scrabbling uselessly against the floor. Head lolling in denial, eyes staring blindly at the white ceiling, Charles' crumpled, naked body is more an aphrodisiac than anything Erik has ever tried. With a smile showing too many teeth, Erik takes Charles in hand and fists him in time to the simmering pace of his thrusts.
Charles writhes under the harsh ministrations. "I can't—stop, stop—!"
"I won't stop until I hear from your mouth that you want me to fuck you," Erik tells him coolly, though keeping his urge to pound into Charles is becoming overwhelming. "Until then, well …"
And somehow I tie this in with Shaw's psychological torture and mental twisting of Erik, and the latter's distorted need to be in control. Well, I tried to.