A/N: This is angst with a theme. Yay!
Warnings: some language, angst, no fluff, Erik/Charles (dominant pairing), Erik/Raven (as a couple but in a weird way), slight Erik/Emma (in a 'you're crazy but very hot' way), mentions of violence/injury/death. Set shortly after First Class - within a year, definitely.
Disclaimer: In my happy little fantasies, I totally own it. In real life, I own nothing.
"Raven. What are you going on about?"
"Go away." There was a stifled sob and the muffled sound of something soft being struck – Raven tended to take out her feelings on the pillows sometimes. (Which was fine, he supposed – he'd rather not be the one receiving any of her blows. For a girl with relatively little physical training, she could pack a punch.)
"What did I do?" he asked, mildly confused. He hadn't even spoken to Raven at all that day – he'd merely gone looking for her and found her in her room weeping. But he was her lover (sort of), so there was a great chance he'd said something or another at some point to upset her.
She didn't respond – the silence from behind the door was dark and swirling, a small vortex of Raven's apparent anger and despair. He knocked again, for once genuinely concerned – if there was something wrong with his right-hand woman, it was technically his duty to figure out the problem and what the best way to get rid of it was (and he secretly hoped that it was a person bothering her – that way he could just kill them and be done with it.)
Emma Frost's cool voice echoed towards him, and he twitched slightly, eyes reflexively flicking upwards to ensure that the dark, shadowy helmet rested on his head. "She'll be fine. Just let her cry it out."
He turned and walked towards the telepath, suspicion clear on his face (she couldn't read his mind with the helmet on, but that didn't make her stupid). "What did you do to her?"
"I didn't do anything but what she asked me to do," Emma said disinterestedly, turning her fingernails into sparkling diamonds and inspecting them before morphing them back to normal.
"And what did she ask you to do?" he asked curiously. Emma was not one of his favorite people, true, but she respected him enough to leave Raven alone.
"If you really want me to tell you, we should go somewhere more private," Emma said, her voice soft but oh-so-bored. "She can still hear us."
There was another sob from Raven's bedroom, one that was soft and shaking, and Erik knew he had to figure out what was wrong with her – if not to help her, then to satisfy his own curiosity. He led Emma into his room, shutting the door behind them with a twitch of his fingers. He quietly hated the look on her face – it was full of distaste, as though his room were some sort of grimy pigsty. Erik had seen grimy pigsties before, and they definitely looked a lot worse than his bedroom, which was plain, neat, and essentially empty except for a bed, table, and some chairs.
He did not offer her a seat, knowing that she would take one anyway – he sat down smoothly at the table in the corner of the room and looked up at her, his green eyes as icily expressionless as her large blue ones. She sat in the chair opposite him with an effortless grace that made the man in him want to grab her and throw her onto his bed, while the mutant in him desired nothing more than to see her turn into her whole diamond form just to watch her sparkle and glitter, the shimmering epitome of beauty. He wondered vaguely if that was why Shaw had cared so much for her (if he could have actually cared for anyone besides himself) – not only did she have perhaps the most powerful mind in the world (or possibly the second most powerful), she was also completely stunning.
"Magneto," she said, her tone sweet but with an edge of steel to it (but that was fine with him, he was much better with steel than he was with sugar). "I don't need to be able to read your mind to see you staring at me."
Erik quirked a slight smirk onto his face with ease. "Don't worry, I'm not going to make a pass at you," he said. "I'm just marveling at how gorgeous you are."
She returned his smirk without hesitation. "Well, I appreciate the compliment, but aren't you worried about your girlfriend?"
She isn't my girlfriend, Erik wanted to point out, but didn't. "Yes. I've never seen her like that before." Even in the days after that morning on the beach, Raven had not cried – at least she hadn't when he could see her. Then again, perhaps he simply hadn't noticed. Or cared.
"She asked me to check on the telepath," Emma said, leaning back in the chair and crossing her arms lightly under her breasts, which were as usual very much on display.
Erik stiffened. He certainly hadn't expected that.
For a few moments, he was completely silent, thinking. Did Raven want to go back to Charles? Was that why she was crying, because she knew that Erik would not allow her to leave? (He couldn't, not when she knew so much – she had forfeited her chance to stay with her adoptive brother months ago).
Emma just watched him for a minute, her normally bland gaze now with a calculating cast to it. "She's upset because of what I found out, if that's what you're wondering."
"What did you find out?" he inquired, furrowing his brow. What, was Charles planning to track them all down and kill them? That was hardly likely.
Emma paused, seeming to savor the moment. "Your telepath friend is, ah, slightly damaged. To put it gently."
How could he be damaged? His mind is the most amazing one I've ever heard of, far more complex than even yours, my dear fraulein.
The blonde woman seemed quite inclined to prolong Erik's suffering as much as possible (sadistic bitch, he thought very quietly in the back of his brain, even though she could not hope to hear it anyways). "Well, you see, Magneto, he's been hurt. Usually when I look in on him – she asks me to do it quite often, and I have to admit I'm a bit curious myself – I can only get a very vague impression of his mental state. If I try to go any deeper, he'll detect me. But this time, I just slipped right in. He could sense me, of course, but he seemed to realize what I was doing was not with . . . malicious intent."
I don't care, he wanted to spit. Tell me what's wrong with him.
"He was in the shower," she continued, her tone empty; she seemed not to notice the look that passed over his face at the thought of Emma being, whether in body or in mind, remotely near a naked Charles. "Sitting down."
Erik blinked at her. "I don't understand."
She smiled slightly. "You wouldn't," she said. "He's paralyzed from the waist down. He'll be using a wheelchair for the rest of his life."
Erik just stared at her, for a moment so dumbfounded that he could not breathe. "You're lying."
Her calm little smile did not slip in the slightest. "Why would I lie about something I have no personal interest in?"
She's getting a kick out of this, he registered dimly. Someday, I'm going to smash her into bits. Just for this.
"How?" he finally asked, his voice suddenly slightly raspy. Images flooded his mind without warning – Charles in a mangled, burning car on the side of the road – Charles crippled and dying of polio – Charles falling headfirst down the ornate grand staircase in his house with a thump on each wooden step – Charles as a porcelain doll, with snow-white skin and big blue eyes, cracked into a hundred pieces. If you could compare Erik to a metal rod, iron-hard and rusting away with madness on his hollow inside, then you could surely compare Charles to fine china – elegant, handsome – and breakable. So very breakable.
"How," he repeated, angered by the silent games she was playing with him. "Tell me how it happened."
Emma sat up, uncrossed her arms, and spoke without hesitation. "A bullet hit his spine."
No, no, no. It's not fucking possible.
Various metal objects around the room suddenly twitched – the doorknob rattled loudly, the closet door swung open and shut spastically, the lamp in the corner shot across the room, and the knife at his waist flew out and landed on the table, point pressing into the wood viciously – and then all fell still. Emma transformed and narrowly avoided the lamp as it smashed against the wall beside her head.
She eyed him, glinting and sparkling with each slight movement. "I always knew you felt more deeply for him than you would admit. I saw it in your head in Russia."
The knife twitched ominously, but it could not do much damage to her when she was out of her soft-fleshed human form. "So it's my fault. That he's crippled."
"Yes," she said (where has that false sweetness gone now, he wondered, now that she knows I would readily kill her – now that I want to watch her break into a million little jewels and grind her into the finest powder). "Mystique blames you, but she does feel that you didn't mean to hit him with a bullet. And judging by the memories I've seen in her head – you didn't, did you. Or, at least, you'd never be able to tell from the way you held him."
I'll kill you, I'll kill you, I swear – where is Charles when I need him, I need him now – Charles is in New York in a wheelchair – and I put him there. I did it. Oh, God, Charles, I'm sorry, forgive me, please.
He tugged the knife out of the table with his hand, feeling the cool weight of the handle in his palm. "Is he alright?" Erik asked hoarsely. "I mean, otherwise. Is he alright."
"He misses you," she said silkily, still in her diamond state. "He tried to hide it, but he's not used to having people inside his head, so I saw it. But he'll move on." He's stronger than you, was what she meant. You will love him for forever, but he will get over you. He is physically broken, but mentally he will always, always be better than you. As if it could be any other way, when your mind and body have always been so scarred.
Erik stared at the tabletop, not really seeing it. Charles – can you ever forgive me?
There was no answer, because with his helmet on, no one could hear his thoughts, not even beautiful and twisted Emma.
He rose suddenly, and she did too, seemingly content to stay in her jewel form until she was safely away from his potential wrath.
"Going to see your girlfriend?" she queried, her gaze idly flicking about his room.
"Don't call her that," Erik said coldly. "After you, Miss Frost." He gestured to the door, and it swung open without being touched. She exited before him, and they went their separate ways – until she called out to him again.
"Oh, Magneto," she said. "I am sorry – for him, I mean. To be only twenty-seven and to have taken his last steps on a foreign beach under the threat of a fiery death. Quite tragic."
She turned and kept walking, safely disappearing from his sight – because she knew very well that he could not kill her then, because he needed her incredible mind. The only other telepath he knew was too far out of his grasp. But someday, he thought to himself, with a kind of quiet, shaking desperation. Someday she will be dead, and Charles will be at my side. Someday.
He knocked once more on Raven's door, the sound of it almost as somber as it should have been. "Raven."
She didn't reply, but at least he couldn't hear anymore sobbing. "I'm coming in," he said, flicking his wrist and clicking the lock open with ease. He pushed open the door and discovered her sitting on her plush bed, her knees drawn up to her chest.
She looked up when he drew close, but did not say anything as he sat gingerly on the edge of her bed (he disliked fuzzy, squishy blankets – anything warm and soft was perfect in his eyes). She merely rested her yellow gaze on him flatly, dully – that was the way someone should look after finding out a person they loved was now permanently crippled. Erik wondered if he looked the same way, or if he looked just as broken as he felt – could she tell that he was inches from turning brittle and cracking wide open? But it was more likely that he looked as he always did – blank, calm, calculated. He was cold titanium, not burning shrapnel. He would never burn or melt again.
"You know," she said softly.
"I know," he agreed, green eyes meeting gold. "I'm sorry."
"I'm not the one who deserves an apology."
"You know I didn't mean for this to happen," he said fervently. "Raven – you know." It's true, he mused. You've always known, Raven. You knew, and Charles knew that you knew – I was the only one who could delude myself into thinking that everyone was blind to it.
She nodded slowly, looking away and staring into space. "He's my brother, Erik. My best friend. You're my lover. And my leader."
He reached out to lightly rest a hand on her shoulder, but her scaly skin felt odd under his calloused palm – perhaps he was missing Charles's soft flesh (yes, Charles had always had light, pleasing muscle tone, but Erik had always been mildly obsessed with that creamy, perfect skin and the way it would flush under his touch so very sweetly), or maybe he was still dreaming hopefully of holding Emma's cracked diamond shell in his hands.
She looked back at him again. "I used to think that one day me and Charles would end up together," she told him. "But he never saw me that way. I think I was more blood related to him than his entire family was."
Erik said, "He loved you very much – he still does, of course. If you want to go back to him, you can." He wasn't sure why he'd promised her that, but he suddenly found that it was true – if Raven wanted to leave Erik and return to Charles, then he would not stop her.
She shook her head. "I couldn't," she breathed. "Not knowing that I'd left him there on that beach – Erik, he's paralyzed . . ."
"I know," he said. He took the bullet, and it took his legs. And I take the blame.
Silvery tears slithered down Raven's blue cheeks. She suddenly shifted, moving so that she could put her head on his shoulder. "It's not your fault," she whispered. "It isn't your fault, Erik."
He flinched just slightly. "I told you not to call me that anymore, Raven."
"And I told you I'm not Raven anymore."
He paused. "Very well, Mystique."
"Thank you, Magneto."
He put an arm around her almost automatically, but it was not she who he wanted to hold. It was always Charles, brilliant, beautiful, broken Charles. Our roles should be reversed, Erik thought. He should be sculpted iron, strong and proud; and I should be porcelain, fire-blown, cracked, and constantly in danger of shattering into pieces.
Even years later, Erik Lehnsherr – no, Magneto – would still find it hard to believe that the strongest person he'd ever known was also the only person he'd ever truly broken.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Please, please review.