A/N: This begins before the scene where Magneto makes the chess piece shake.

Disclaimer: I don't own X-Men. I'm not making any money off this.

I.

"You're one of them." The words echo in his mind. He replays that day again and again, wondering where it all went wrong.

They should never have relied on the unstable Jean Grey. He should have trained his army. They should been more than pawns. They were his brothers and sisters.

He scans the chessboard in front of him. He used to play chess with Charles. He rarely won.

He was too rash. He should have thought it out. No. It doesn't matter now. Charles has his dream, even if he isn't here to see it. Magneto- no, Erik, tries to reach out with his mind to move the chess piece.

But there is nothing, just an emptiness where he could once smell, taste the metal. The tang of copper, the sweetness of gold.

Just a big, gaping hole, and now he understands how they feel. To be so empty, so lost. He can't forgive them, but now he knows why.

He reaches out again with his mind, throws all the power he can, and still. Nothing.

He is defeated. I was a god, once...

II.

He doesn't know why he keeps coming back. Day after day, month after month. Staring at a chessboard.

Today is different. A girl sits down across from him. He doesn't know her. She's young, probably the youngest one there. She looks normal. Straight brown hair, school uniform. She says nothing, just carefully makes her first move.

She leads with her knight, he notices. A bold move. Well, she is young.

He is surprised to learn that she's a decent player. Hardly a prodigy, but she knows what she's doing. He wins, of course, but it takes him several hours.

Neither of them says a word. When he checkmates her, she knows; he doesn't have to announce it. She gives him a nod, and leaves. He never sees her again, but he wonders. She had strange eyes. It's not obvious, but the way she carries herself, he's certain she's a mutant.

For a moment, he's looking in a mirror, a vision of what he could have been. If there had been no death camps, no war.

Other people offer to play him, but he refuses. Says he's waiting for someone.

They must think he's crazy. Hell, he thinks he's crazy. Waiting here every day for a dead man.

If you could see me now, old friend...

III.

He watches the pawn impassively. "The pawns go first"

Now he is less than a pawn.

He reaches out with his mind, searching for the smoothness of stainless steel. There is nothing, just an empty darkness. He has never felt more alone.

Then- then- for just an instant, he tastes it. It's gone, of course, as quickly as it came. The taste lingers in his mouth, and he wets his lips, shaking. He's left wondering if he imagined it, if he's finally gone insane.

Maybe he was always insane.

Raven, Raven, can you ever forgive me?

IV.

It's getting late. His coat does little to keep the cold away. He got it secondhand. Irrational anger bubbles up inside him suddenly, and he slams his fist on the table. A nearby couple starts with fright, looking at him with wary eyes. When he makes no more sudden moves, they return to their game.

He doesn't know why he's still here. He should be going home, trying to fall asleep. But he's waiting for someone.

When the man enters the clearing, Erik doesn't look up. He doesn't notice the man walk over to him, just a tiny bit unsteadily. He notices when the man sits down across from him, picks up a pawn, and moves it two spaces forward.

Erik looks up, and catches the strange man's eyes. His mouth opens, just a bit. He knows.

"Hello, old friend," the man says softly.

Erik's mouth twists into a wry smile. So Charles, for all his morals, has stolen a body. Somehow he's not surprised.

Erik leads with his knight.

V.

When Charles has gone, with the unspoken promise that he will return the next day, Magneto is left staring at that one traitorous pawn.

He wills it to move with his mind, desperately searching for that power, and there is still nothing.

He sighs, and throws at it all his power. Power that rerouted the Golden Gate Bridge itself. He begs it to move, to allow him this small triumph.

It does.

It only shakes a little, and that feeling of power unimaginable is gone as quickly as it came but it is something. Maybe it will grow. Maybe not.

It doesn't matter. He's not planning on destroying any bridges. He just wants the emptiness gone.

It's over...