A/N: This story is completed.
The room is quiet. Save for the ticking of the clock and the sound of the wind rustling the leaves outside of the window, everything is silent.
The mirror is large; nearly as tall as the wall it rests against, overly ornate with it's gold frame that stretches out into clawed feet, screaming of his mother's taste and influence.
Charles used to stand in front of this mirror every morning to inspect his attire for the day. Now he sits in front of it, large blue eyes fixed on his reflection, trying, in vain, to ignore the wheelchair that he is forever confined to. He is not one to pity himself, Charles likes to think; although, until recently, he has never really had anything in his life go terribly wrong. Of course his mother was never around, his father merely a picture on a wall in a deserted hallway, but he had nannies. Was well taken care of in this massive home large enough to house a dozen families comfortably. He's gone to school, completed school, is a professor now of all things, and has been recognized and honored for a subject that fascinates him immensely. And now he has students, this mansion converted into a school for those who thought they were alone, self-proclaimed freaks of nature that would have to hide their beautiful talents for the rest of their lives.
Charles, for the most part, has had a wonderful life. But this knowledge can't seem to stop the flood of hopelessness he feels at moments like this one.
He finds himself in front of this mirror a lot lately. He stares at himself, small and seemingly fragile in this chair of steel and wheels. Stares and stares until he isn't in this room, in front of this mirror, but on an island three years ago feeling a bullet pierce his skin, shattering bone, and nerve endings; tearing apart his spine. At times like this, he isn't in the school he's put all his faith and hope into, but laying on that sand, the utter absence of feeling in his lower half completely overshadowed by the fierce overwhelming pain in his chest, in his heart, as his sister and best friend disappear in a flash of red smoke.
Sometimes, in his more dramatic moments, he thinks Erik took his last happy breath with him. Raven he knows he will see again, it is not in her nature to stay away, and indeed he has seen her a few times over the years. They are always friendly, always kind, always brother and sister, parting with warm kisses to cheeks. But Erik-
And Charles' heart throbs painfully as he stares at himself in this mirror. His sight blurs until he feels the balmy air on his skin and the sand between his fingers. He looks and looks until he is gazing up into Erik's eyes, feeling his large hands cradling his head in his lap, green eyes worried, and angry, and sad, and so many emotions Charles doesn't even know where to start. Can't sort out the whirlwind of thoughts and panic so reminiscent of that first night he held onto Erik in the water, begging him to calm his mind.
Charles plays that scene on the beach over and over again – maybe he could have said things differently. Made it more clear that despite Shaw's murder he still wanted Erik, his best friend, around. They would come to a healthy medium about the humans, sit down and discuss, or not, whatever Erik wanted, just as long as he agreed that whatever decision they came to they would come to it together.
He wonders if it is too late – Raven brings news. She tries to be subtle, but it is not a trait she posses. She mentions that Erik (Magneto he calls himself now, and Charles only shakes his head at the nickname) asks about him – how he is doing, if the school is progressing. Charles wonders if this is an olive branch of sorts, but every time he decides he will contact Erik something tells him not to. Not yet. Hubris, he guesses idly. Something new to him, but he hopes will fade quickly.
The chirping of a bird pulls Charles back to the present, off of that beach, away from green eyes. The ache in his chest grows stronger as he is immersed immediately into another memory. The only one of its kind, not that Charles was aware of this at the time. Lying awake at night, he wonders that if he had known this if he would have done anything differently – added to the moment or kept it as it is, sweet and simple.
He hesitates for a moment, fist poised to knock on the dark wood of the bedroom door. He isn't sure if Erik is in the mood for visitors – he didn't seem in the mood for company after the President's address, but that was hours ago. Another two seconds pass in deliberation, and Charles, making the decision, knocks somewhat hesitantly.
"Come in," Erik's voice floats through the wood and Charles feels unaccountably relieved. Turning the knob he pokes his head inside. Erik stands, forest green sleep pants slung low on his hips, his back facing the doorway. Charles takes in the strong lines of his bare back, tanned and smooth, the two slight indentations right above where the waistband begins. He tears his eyes guiltily away just in time to meet Erik's eyes as he looks over his shoulder to see his guest. "Charles." The greeting is warm and familiar, and Charles takes it as an invitation to step fully inside.
"Erik," he closes the door quietly behind him and puts his hands in his pockets. "I was just coming to see how you were."
"Fine, fine." He drops the piece of paper he was reading back onto the desk and turns around fully. Charles has to force himself not to admire a chest lightly dusted with dark hair and flat stomach coiled with strength. "Yourself?"
"Anxious," Charles admits, gaze fixed somewhere over his friends shoulder. "I just… want this to be over." He runs a hand through his hair.
"This will never be over," Erik says quietly, voice hard. "Tomorrow is just the beginning Charles, you must know this."
Charles doesn't answer, choosing instead to look over into the low burning fire in the grate. The silence is strained from an argument held too many times, neither party budging. "We may save the world from a war tomorrow, but we are waging one on ourselves." Charles lets his eyes slide shut; this is the part of him he is ashamed of, because of all of his talk about giving humans the benefit of the doubt he is unsure. He knows of the human need to survive, to eliminate perceived threats. Tomorrow is a perfect example of this. But he still hopes, prays, with all of his might that the humans prove Erik wrong. He can't bear to think about what will happen if they don't.
He starts and his eyes fly open when he feels a large, warm palm cup the side of his face. Erik is standing before him, tall and looming, eyes soft. "Charles, be reasonable." The thumb smoothing along his jaw is persuasive – it manages to press a trembling breath out of his lungs. It is hard to focus with Erik standing this close, clean smelling and warm for his bath, finally touching him like this, the way Charles has found himself longing for, for the first time. But he tries.
"I am," he says quietly, wishing that Erik will keep his hand just where it is. "It may not happen right away, but I'm sure one day-"
"One day we will all live in peace, the humans unthreatened by our obvious superiority?" The words are not cruel, but they could be.
"Yes." His answer is firm and he is proud.
Green eyes search his for a long moment
"Charles." The word is a whisper preceding the warm press of lips against his own. Gentle, and warm, and barely there, but a kiss nonetheless. There is another palm on the back of his neck, pulling him forward, and he mirrors the action, his own fingers slipping through damp hair.
Just a press of lips, moving slowly over each other and nothing more for a few seconds, but it's enough of a push for Charles. Stomach burning, limbs weak, he presses his forehead against Erik's and thinks what he can't say aloud.
'I just want us to get through this together.'
Two heartbeats. 'We will.'
Charles opens his eyes – unsurprisingly they are wet. He's always told himself he was too sensitive for his own good. He tells himself now that that is enough melancholy for today, enough of the memories that will only leave a dull pain behind. But he doesn't move from in front of the mirror, the echo of that single kiss playing before his eyes keeping him anchored. He fixes his gaze on one of the ornate feet of the mirror, focusing, allowing his mind to float away from his body, searching for another that he hopes isn't too far away. He swirls and glides, searching, searching for that familiar feeling – for that spark and warmth he always felt whenever he entered that conscious.
After minutes of searching, he finds it. Faint, but it is there. Concentrating he molds a thought, rounded and smoke, fit to blossom when he sets it down. 'I miss you.' He feels when it makes its soft impact, but sends it again, so there is no confusion. 'I miss you.' He stays there, away from his mind, hovering around this one, but when no answer comes, he withdraws.
Its nothing else than what he expected, he tells himself as he wheels his chair out of the bedroom and down the hall. But he can't ignore that ache that has gotten sharper at the base of his ribs.
o o o
The sun is streaming through the bay windows of his office when there is a knock on the door. "Enter," he calls out and a girl, blonde and young, freckled and vibrant, pokes her head inside. "Madeline. Shouldn't you be in class?"
Madeline rolls her eyes good naturedly at Dr. X's refusal to call her by her chosen name of Maven, but smiles.
"I am. I was, but I was on my way back from the toilet when I found this man wandering around the halls. He's right fit, so I offered my help." She grins cheekily and Charles shakes his head. "Anyway," she continues before he can scold her, "you've a visitor. Says his name is Magneto. Wicked name, yeah?"