A/N: So this has a huge amount of onesided Charles/Moira, and a lot of mentioned Charles/Erik. Hopefully I did okay. Lol.
Warnings: slightly-depressed!Charles, unrequited Charles/Moira, angst, Charles/Erik, no fluff, SLIGHT language. Set both very shortly before the end of First Class and directly afterwards.
Disclaimer: If I owned X-Men, Moira and Charles would not have kissed. Seriously. Neither would Erik and Raven.
Also, a note: The normal text is Moira and Charles, during the movie but not before he wipes her mind. The (bolded text in parenthesis) is Moira post-wipe and after the movie.
The day was chilly but bright, and the sunlight managed to catch the turning leaves in a way that made everything look as though it had been painted on a canvas, handcrafted with thick, rich shades of orange, red, and yellow. Plus the green of the grass, and the blue of the sky (it matched his eyes so perfectly, and yet at the same time it could never compare), the rich auburn of her hair and the pale cream of his skin. If you combined the landscape and the two young, beautiful people, it was the perfect picture; lovely scenery, a fancy house in the background, and two young lovers taking a walk together.
But Charles and Moira were not lovers, and they were not just taking a walk – Charles could never walk again, after all. She was pushing him along in his wheelchair, his shiny new wheelchair, and with every step she felt more and more sick, guilt twirling like spaghetti around a fork in her stomach and rising higher and higher like vomit. The perfect picture was ruined now, tarnished by the wheelchair and forever tainted by her face, so warped and confused that it simply made no sense in a painting of two would-be lovers.
But Charles was, shockingly, completely oblivious to her swirling emotions and to her trembling hands on the handles of his chair. He was looking up at the sky with an empty expression, and for a second his eyes looked so gorgeous that she thought Heaven must have opened above her, and that his eyes were reflecting it in all its glory. But a quick glance upwards told her that if Heaven was there, she could not see it, which was rather odd, because she put much more stock in such things as God than Charles did. But maybe she did not deserve to see Heaven anymore – maybe firing the shot that had paralyzed the man she loved had been enough to earn her a first-class ticket to Hell's gaping, fiery pits. But then, if she were destined for Hell, she knew Erik Lehnsherr must already be there, burning slowly and painfully – there would be no metal to help him in the afterlife, after all.
Charles still said nothing to her, and it was almost as if he had completely forgotten her existence. Then again, maybe he had – he had only returned from the hospital this morning, and the medication they'd given him was enough to make anyone forget that there were other people out there besides themself. He had insisted that he was not in any pain, but she knew the pills were not for physical pain; they were to keep him calm and sedated – as if Charles would be anything but calm and sedate. But he had spooked the hospital staff with his clear, rational words and his empty eyes; they'd thought he might try to commit suicide.
She reached out with fingers that shook slightly and touched his forehead, tracing lightly over the smooth skin. He reacted only by blinking, and she was suddenly so disturbed by his complete lack of outward emotion that she said, "Charles. Charles?"
(Moira McTaggert awoke slowly, as she had as a small girl, back when she was untroubled by things such as covert CIA operations or the lingering potential for a nuclear war. She blinked and stretched, cat-like, but then the instincts the CIA had instilled in her kicked in; she did not recognize where she was, and she froze, tensing and shoving her hand towards her waist where a holstered gun should have been. But there was no gun; there was only the soft fabric of a dress she had no memory of putting on. Indeed, she had no memory of . . . anything. At least, not anything recent.
She was aware of having met Charles Xavier; that much was clear in her head. And his band of mutants – what were their names? She could recall blue fur, scales, red swirling energy – but only one other name; Erik. Erik who? That much more was beyond her.
Finally, it slowly dawned on her that she was inside her own house, in her own bed. The sheets around her bore a familiar, cottony smell – strangely, she had been expecting expensive silk. She sat up very slowly and carefully, hand still automatically resting on her hip where her gun usually was but was now suspiciously absent from, even when she could not remember taking off the holster.)
At the sound of her voice, Charles roused slightly – his blue eyes regained some degree of focus, and rather than staring straight up at the sky he lowered his head slightly, brow furrowing. "Yes, Moira?"
She felt a wave of relief wash over her; he still knew her name, therefore he had not lost his mind completely. "You were scaring me."
"I was?" Charles asked, a hint of curiosity in his otherwise bland voice. "I was only thinking."
"You were staring up at the sky like you could see the meaning of life written in the clouds," Moira told him, feeling more than slightly embarrassed at how overbearing she sounded, jerking him from his thoughts simply because she could not stand to see him so far gone, so far out of her reach.
Charles smiled, but only faintly. "Sometimes I'm afraid that there is no meaning to life, Moira."
Moira's heart skipped a beat; that was not Charles, that could not be Charles. Charles was perfectly confident that there was a meaning to every life, and the man speaking was lost, out of the loop, unsure. That was not Charles Xavier.
(Moira looked around, her gaze carefully tracing each familiar object in her bedroom. There was the antique bureau that housed all of her undergarments and non-work apparel, and the closet door behind which she was sure she would find her work clothing, hanging neatly and perfectly untouched. She was lying on top of the bedspread, which was not rumpled except for in the area in which she had been curled up, asleep.
Still moving with care, she got up off the bed, reaching down to slowly open the drawer of her bedside table, where she kept an extra gun. She had no idea who could potentially be in the house with her, or if they were friend or foe, so it was better to be prepared. She pulled out the gun and slid the drawer shut – everything was there exactly as she remembered leaving it, from the inkless ballpoint pen to the tangled silver necklace she'd stuffed in there after growing frustrated with her inability to unknot the chain.
But no – there, on the top of the table, staring up at her innocently, was a folded piece of paper. Her name, Moira, was written on the front in a script that was almost womanly in its natural elegance, but the stroke of the pen was too heavy to have come from the hand of anyone but a man. She picked it up and unfolded it gingerly, not quite sure what to expect.
There were only two sentences written on the expensive, thick paper – what a waste of stationery, she thought dimly, and the part of her that was not a CIA agent but instead just a normal woman clucked her imaginary tongue.
My dearest Moira,
I am so sorry. But it had to be done.
She stared at the words uncomprehendingly, and after a moment, a sinking suspicion dawned on her – she knew exactly what must have happened, and it horrified her.)
"What do you mean, Charles?" she asked, not at all able to veil the fear in her voice or in her thoughts.
Charles was still smiling faintly, as though he had remembered a fond memory of a friend who had long died. "I don't think I mean anything by it, Moira. It's merely an inner fear of mine that has recently surfaced."
She had stopped wheeling him along without realizing it, and she suddenly began pushing him forward again, startling him. "I'm sorry. Do you want to go inside?"
"No," he said, rather peacefully as he went back to looking at the sky. "It's been so long since I've seen the outdoors."
Only a couple of weeks, she thought, still vaguely frightened by his uncharacteristic behavior. Oh, God, he has lost his mind. Or he is losing it now.
"I'm perfectly sane, Moira," he told her, and she blinked – for a second she had forgotten that he could hear everything she was thinking. "I was merely thinking of how much I missed the sun and the sky. They are the last things I remember seeing when I could still feel my legs."
Her heart gave a painful lurch, and oh, God, she was going to be sick right there, she was going to die right then with guilt. "Charles –,"
But he was not done speaking. "I remember seeing the ocean, yes, and I remember feeling the bullet hit me, and the sand when I hit it. But all I can think of is the sky. It was so clear."
No clearer than it is now, she thought, more to him than to herself. No clearer than on any sunny day.
"But that was the last time I saw him," Charles said blandly. "With the sky behind his head."
Moira had to stop moving before she collapsed – she pulled to a halt slowly, her head spinning. "Saw who?" she asked, even though she knew who Charles meant perhaps even better than he himself did.
(Charles had erased her memory.
It was the only logical explanation – he was a telepath, she recalled now, a powerful one . . . not that she knew any other telepaths to compare him to. Well, she didn't anymore, now that her memories were gone.
But some of them, she realized, were not gone – not if she thought hard enough. Yes, there were areas that had been wiped cleanly out of her mind like chalk off of a blackboard – things like where she had been living for the past several weeks and the names and faces of Charles's fellow mutants. But she remembered Charles very clearly – blue eyes, fair skin, dark hair. Dark suit. Wheelchair.
She could not recall how he got the wheelchair, but she only knew that he had not needed it when she had first met him – when she had fallen in love with him, he had still been walking.
I'm in love with him, she realized. I am still in love with a man who wiped my mind and who I can barely remember. A man who kissed me so softly outside – outside where?
But she could remember nothing more – nothing except his warm, pink lips against her own and sunlight against her closed eyelids.
Then he must have loved me, she told herself with irrational haste, as if her subconscious was trying to tell her greater mind that no, it wasn't true, that Charles did not truly love her. If he was kissing me – if he did this – it must have been for my own good. To protect me. But I can't remember a damn thing.)
The sound of Moira's question seemed to pull Charles from his reverie slightly. "Oh," he said, faint surprise coloring his tone now. "Moira, forgive me – I forgot I was talking to you for a moment."
No, Charles, she thought, knowing he would hear. You forgot that he's gone.
Charles did not reply, and she continued aloud.
"You forgot that he left us. He left you, Charles."
(Still holding the note from Charles in one hand and her gun in the other, she darted into her bathroom, which was, like the bedroom, just as she had left it. Same plain white-tiled floor, white walls, white toilet and bathtub. It all suddenly seemed glaringly white and pristine, matching her mind with its blankness, every stain and memory scrubbed clean forever.
She stared at herself in the mirror – she was clothed in a purple dress that she had absolutely no memory of ever wearing before. Her hair was mussed from sleep, her eyes wide and bright. There was nothing wrong with her, at least not on the outside – however she had gotten there, she had either gone willingly or unknowingly. She rather suspected it was the latter of the two.
Charles, why did you do this? Who is this Erik I remember, and why can't I remember where I've been living? Why is there a bruise around my neck?
There was indeed a fading bruise on Moira's neck – a thin little line that was almost-but-not-quite gone. It was as if someone had wrapped a chain around her neck and tried to strangle her, but she could not recall how it had gotten there.)
Charles inhaled slowly, then exhaled. "I know, Moira. I told you, I am still sane."
Her voice shook just a little. "Charles, it's his fault, isn't it? I fired the gun, but he – he waved his hand to deflect it, and then it –,"
"Hit my spine," Charles cut her off. "Yes, Moira, you know very well it is his fault." But there was no anger in his voice, and perhaps that was why it did not assuage her guilt in the slightest – the words of a man who had been permanently crippled should sound full of rage and thick with hatred. But Charles was not capable of rage or hatred; not when it came to Erik.
"On the contrary," he said, and she vaguely wished he would get out of her brain. "The day after they told me I would never walk again, I was angry with him. More angry than you could imagine."
"I can imagine you angry," she responded. "But not at him."
"It was difficult," he admitted. "And that difficulty probably led to me forgiving him the same day."
Moira felt sick again, but that time it was with an anger of her own. "He doesn't deserve forgiveness, Charles. Not from any of us." He deserves a lifetime of misery for what he has done. If you have a lifetime in a chair, let him have a lifetime in hell.
Charles winced. "You mustn't think like that, Moira. Erik made a mistake, and it was an accident when he deflected the bullet and hit me. When someone makes an error, the person they have acted against must forgive them eventually – to err is, as they say, human."
"You're hiding your feelings, Charles," she said. "You think that by appearing wise, like some sort of telepathic sage, you can disguise the fact that you still care for him. You care deeply for him, Charles."
"I disagree with you on only one point," he said, turning his head and looking upwards so that he could see her face (she refused to look down at him, because she knew if she did, she would start to cry). "I appear wise to you because I think, deep down, that I am not trying to disguise my feelings from you, but rather to cleanse myself of them. And spouting benevolence at you is the only way I know how to do that."
She was more than a little stunned, but the main reason she had fallen in love with Charles Xavier was because of his unfailing honesty to her, even when they were discussing the fact that he was still in love with the man who had left him bleeding in the sand on a beach littered with burning metal.
(In the other room, the phone let out a shrill scream, and she jumped and dropped the gun into the sink – it clattered loudly against the porcelain but thankfully didn't go off or crack the sink.
It's just the phone, Moira, she told herself flatly as she hurried back out of the bathroom and ran to the kitchen to retrieve the telephone. You're much too jittery. CIA agents don't behave like this – confused lovers with amnesia behave like this. You're acting like a woman, and they will never take you seriously if you carry on like such a mess.
She picked up the phone mid-ring and said, steadying her voice as best she could, "Moira McTaggert."
It was Levine; he sounded shocked to hear her voice. "Moira," he said, sounding dumbfounded (as usual). "Wow, didn't expect you to be at home, but I'd figured I'd try anyway. Well, the big guys wanna talk to you, Moira. It's serious."
Her heart gave a funny, nervous skip. "Okay. When should I be there?"
"How about right now?"
She ran a hand through her auburn hair – it's a mutation, she recalled, before thinking, where on Earth did that come from? – and huffed. "Alright. Thank you, Levine."
"You're –," he began, but she had already dropped the phone back onto the cradle and sprinted back to her room to change out of her ridiculous if gorgeous dress.)
"You don't love me, Moira," Charles said softly, and the fact that he did not deny her thoughts about his love for Erik burned her more than anything else.
"I do," she said back, her voice trembling and her eyes moist – but she would not cry. Not in front of him.
He paused, and she knew he was looking deep into her mind. "You do," he said finally. "Oh, Moira, forgive me."
Forgive you? You've done nothing, Charles. You can't help it that you're in love with someone else.
"You're right," he said quietly. "I can't control my feelings for him, but you can control your feelings for me – perhaps you don't care for me as deeply as you think you do."
But she did – she knew it deep in her soul, in the pit of her being, that she loved Charles Xavier. Charles could read her mind like a book, but he could not know it, not as deeply as he knew the mind of Erik Lehnsherr. Charles didn't even know his own mind as fully as he knew Erik's.
(She barely registered going to the agency until she was already there – it was just one more thing that she would not remember in the future, except this time she needed no assistance from a mutant to erase her memory.
She told her bosses she could remember virtually nothing – it was easier than trying to explain the snippets she could remember, and somewhere, deep down, she still felt an undying loyalty to Charles that she would carry with her for the rest of her life. And she felt the tears welling in her eyes – she felt the stares of her higher-ups – she felt anger at her own weakness and at their smug superiority – the CIA is no place for a woman, my ass, I've seen things they never will and that I can't remember – and I have been kissed by a man who can read my mind, and I have loved a man who will never be mine.
They sent Moira home, and she went, dimly grateful to be out of there – being a CIA agent no longer seemed as wonderful to her as it had before. It almost felt as though there was some new reason for her existence, something new she had discovered that she wanted to do – but it was as lost to her as every name and face but Charles's.
She went home, and took off her clothes, and she went into the bathroom. She did not even glance at herself in the mirror, preferring to just fill the tub up and slide in for a relaxing bath – or an attempt at a calming soak, at least. Perhaps she knew even then that Charles would find her form and figure attractive, but not as alluring as he would find a tall, lean body with a flat chest and a row of digits tattooed into a forearm.)
"Let's go inside now," Charles suggested gently, turning his head around to face forward. Moira was thankful – he was giving her an out, an escape. He seemed to be saying to her without words (whether in her head our out), come, Moira. Let's go from here, and pretend this didn't happen. It will be alright.
"Alright," she said to him, the man she loved, as she turned his chair around and wheeled him slowly back to the mansion. The tears she had battled against so hard were gone now, and she was relieved – because Moira McTaggert was a twenty-nine-year-old woman and a federal agent, and she did not cry anymore.
She had no idea that in just a few short days, she would be sitting naked in her bathtub and crying hysterically, unable to even remember the reason for her tears.
A/N: Hopefully that wasn't too confusing. Thanks for reading, please review!