Chapter – Magneto (1852)
He looked into his friend's eyes and knew it was over. Erik Lensherr was not the man Charles had hoped he would become.
The days had been long and dark for him. From the moment he had uttered the words it had felt as if his world had collided with the harsh reality. Never again would he – would he walk.
He blinked heavily as an American medic bent over him, examining him quickly. Charles saw him shake his head at Moira and he closed his eyes again.
He heard a helicopter land on the beach, sending sand everywhere and water spraying into his face. He felt Moira leave his side and he was lifted onto a stretcher. He groaned as the most horrible pain yet shot through his entire spine. He felt panicked as an oxygen mask was pressed against his mouth. He felt straps tighten around his waist and chest, but not the ones that secured his legs. He didn't want to think about it.
He felt the helicopter start to take off and wind swept past his face as it gained height and speed. He didn't know where the others were, but he didn't care. Erik was gone.
After two operations, Charles lay in his own bed at home. He had been treated in a private clinique, but had insisted on recovering at home. The last thing he wanted was to be in a hospital bed right now.
He had not seen any of the youngsters since they had left the island. Only Hank had visited him. He had asked the mutant if he could make him an electric wheelchair. He was going to need one after all. He didn't know why he had asked him. He could have gone for an ordinary electronic wheelchair but since he had such a gifted young mutant staying in his house, he could very well ask the young man to help him. Hank had returned later that day with the plans and Charles had given him permission to build it.
It was Moira who visited him next and she was the first who actually talked to him about what had happened. She felt guilty, and time and time again Charles had to tell her it had been an accident and that Erik should be the one to be blamed. He had been too careless when he had tried to avert those bullets.
'Do you miss him?' she asked one evening and Charles carefully set his tea down on the tray that lay across his lap. He didn't want her to see the uncontrollable tremor in his hand.
He was not going to pretend he didn't know who she was talking about, so he nodded slowly.
'All the time,' he admitted without looking at her, trying to keep his tears at bay. No one was to know what had happened between him and Erik, so he didn't speak nor shed a tear about him.
That night he wept. He wept for his legs. He wept for Raven. And he wept for Erik. How could he have lost three such precious things in one day?
Only one person kept him going, but he feared he would have to let her go soon too. Moira knew too much about them.
But most of all, he wept for the betrayal. Erik's words still rang through his head before he had put the helmet on.
'It's not that I don't trust you -'
But clearly, he hadn't trusted him.
He hated the helmet. He had hoped to guide Erik thoughthat day – to keep Shaw alive. But he had failed. If it hadn't been for that blasted helmet –
But Charles knew he had made the right decision that day by not joining Erik and his march for war. The world had to be shared, not ruled by only mutants. Co-existing in harmony was what he wanted. Erik wanted the world for his own.
He woke up with a start, sweat and tears dripping down his face. Something had awoken him and he looked around the room in search of what it had been.
He exhaled sharply as he saw a tall, dark figure stand by the door.
'E-Erik?' he breathed.
The figure lifted his hand and the metal wires inside the lamp connected, causing the light on the nightstand to turn on.
It was indeed Erik who stood in the bedroom, dressed in scarlet robes with a black cloak draped over his shoulders, the helmet underneath his arm.
'Charles,' Erik breathed and nodded once. 'How – how are you?'
Charles did not reply but heaved himself up in a sitting position, his eyebrows raised at Erik's question. He could see how Erik narrowed his eyes as he watched him drag himself up into a sitting position.
There was a long silence until Erik spoke: 'Will you now offer me a drink?' Erik asked. 'I have travelled from far to see how you were doing.'
Charles clenched his jaw together and exhaled impatiently. Was he mocking him? He knew Erik was trying to find out why he hadn't just sat up.
Erik tilted his head questionably but Charles could not utter the words himself. Instead, his eyes flashed over to the white wheelchair in the other corner of the room. Hank had only finished it today and it all seemed too ironic to be true.
Erik turned his head to look at what Charles had looked at, and as he saw the wheelchair, he quickly turned his head back, his face pale, lips parted and eyes wide.
'You – you're – ,' Erik didn't finish his sentence.
Charles continued to clench his teeth together.
'Is it – can't it be fixed?' Erik asked incredulously.
'No,' Charles spoke for the first time and hated the way Erik spoke about his injury as if he was a machine that could be fixed by replacing a few bolts.
'Charles, I -,' Erik stammered as he approached the bed and laid the helmet down on it. He himself sat down on the bedside. 'Can you – can you forgive me?' he asked as he shifted closer.
'It was an accident,' Charles spoke slowly. 'But I cannot help but resent your presence here, my friend.'
Erik's mouth opened slightly, shock and disappointment filled his face and he hung his head.
'I – I needed to see you,' Erik muttered and he looked up again.
'How did you get in?' Charles pretended he hadn't heard the other mutant's affectionate words.
'I have my ways.'
'They don't know I am here.'
'Neither does she.' There was a short silence before Erik added: 'She – she missed you.
'And I her.'
'Should I – tell her?' he asked as he looked down at Charles' legs.
'Do whatever you think is right.'
'She cares about you Charles,' Erik answered with a frown on his face, clearly offended by Charles' tone of indifference. 'We care about you.'
'She knows I love her,' Charles said shaking his head impatiently and speaking in a matter-of-fact- tone of voice.
A pause, before Erik spoke: 'What about me?'
Charles didn't answer, because he simply didn't know what to say. He cared for Erik, but wasn't sure if he could go back to desiring Erik like the night before he killed Shaw.
'There is no one like you, Charles,' Erik said when he didn't reply.
'There are enough mutants in the world, Erik.'
'But they aren't you.'
'You've found that out already?' Charles asked and felt his heart skip a few beats as Erik stared at him for a long time, his face slightly trembling before he looked down at the sheets and appeared suspiciously troubled.
'Who?' Charles demanded. He knew there couldn't be another option.
Erik swallowed and still didn't look at Charles. He answered after what seemed ages:
Charles felt his mouth go dry. Raven? Of all mutants? Her?
'When?' he again demanded.
And this time, Erik took even a longer time to answer. But when he did, it felt as if something pressed Charles' windpipe shut.
'The – the night you and I -,'
Charles exhaled deeply again, turning his head away from Erik. He felt as if someone had taken a sharp knife and had stabbed his heart with it. He couldn't breathe for a moment. He tried to move away from Erik and for a second, he had the intention of getting up and walking away before he was reminded that he couldn't.
Erik seemed to notice how upset Charles was becoming and he quickly spoke:
'She was in my room when I returned. She – she needed it.'
'And that's when you just do it?' Charles blurted out, unable to keep his emotions down. He wanted to shout and weep again. He wanted to hit Erik but his new disability made him unable to do such a thing. 'How – could you?' Charles raised his voice as he raised his hands in desperation, to put emphasise to his words.
'I wanted to send her away, Charles,' Erik defended himself.
'She's my sister, Erik!'
'She is not, Charles!' Erik exclaimed, and now he also slightly raised his voice.
'She's as good as.'
'But she isn't.'
But Charles continued to try to drag himself as far away from Erik as possible. He couldn't cope. He had kept hope that Erik might still care about him but that hope had just all disappeared. He had been used.
'Charles, please,' Erik said as he crawled onto the bed on his knees, taking Charles' head between his hands. 'I – Raven and I – it's something different than you and I.'
'How could you?' Charles cried again as he tried to slap Erik's hands away. But unlike Erik, he couldn't use his legs at all which made the other mutant a lot stronger.
'I love you, Charles,' Erik uttered in a way as if he was talking to a child, and Charles stopped struggling. He stared at the other mutant, his eyes racing over his face as he watched how Erik's lips trembled and his eyes started to water. He wouldn't fall for it.
'Erik – if you ever touch me again, I will never let you see me again,' he spoke slowly, and his voice was steadier than he felt.
Never in his life had he been more serious about his words.
Erik stared at him for a long time, his entire body shaking as he struggled to keep his tears from falling. It took a while before Charles felt his grip around his head loosen and the other mutant's hands slowly dropped down.
There was another long pause as they looked at each other, but eventually, Erik got up from the bed and picked up the helmet, sliding it down on his head as he walked over to the door.
'May I still visit you?'
'Whenever you wish,' Charles agreed and suddenly remembered the words he had uttered into Erik's ears on that night. 'We promised never to part.'
'We never will,' Erik spoke and he opened the door and disappeared from the room.