Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men. Marvel does.
A/N: Heavily inspired by so much. I was watching the trailer for Sucker Punch, and this idea just flashed into my head. That and dark Charles is just my most favorite thing in the world.
Rating: M for dark child abuse and slightly descriptive torture and other mature/dark/sensitive content. Not beta'd.
The snow falls like shards of glass from a breaking sky.
He loves the thought of it.
He's barefoot as he walks a yard that used to be green, clothed only in thin pants and a button-down shirt that's more gray than the blue his mother loves on him so much. His steps drag, pushing the barely gathered snow into small mounds between his toes. He's walking forward, away, going to escape before it can get too bad, before he falls under and doesn't want to leave.
So many voices, so many sounds. So many ways that he can get around. But he's always going around. Around and around and around. Already fallen under and maybe there is no real way out.
His eyes snap open, that vivid entrancing blue that is the only thing his mother loves about him anymore. The snow's still falling, howling as it dances and crashes to the ground, but he's inside, pressed against the window, the closest he will ever be able to get to it. He isn't allowed outside – hasn't been for a long time – and because of that the library has become his sanctuary. The library with its large window and bench right beside that he can crawl up on and just stare at what's real for hours and hours and hours.
"Charles. Pay attention when I am speaking to you, please." The voice is polite but far from pleased and he has learned in the past six months that that particular combination will not be nice. He turns his large eyes from the window and towards the tall, lean, dark figure at the doorway, and doesn't flinch even though he so badly wants to.
"Yes, Father." Kurt Marko is his step-father, but Charles has never been allowed to call him that. Step-father, Father always says, implies disrespect. A lack of acknowledgement of authority. And that is unacceptable. Do you understand that, Charles? And he does understand. Understands perfectly.
His father sighs, and it makes him shudder, because sighs are not a good sound from Father. "Perhaps you are in need of the cage again…" The threat dwindles off, as it always does, and his shudders become violent shivers he's learned to hide.
"No sir," he says quietly even though his father is already nodding to his own idea. "No."
Not that it makes any difference.
It doesn't stop snowing that night. Charles, tucked into the small cage of black-iron bars with nothing but his clothing to keep him warm, can feel every flake that flutters to the ground. More gentle than before, still the broken glass, but glass that slows down before it comes to Earth, as though it knows that anything harsh will cut into Charles much the same way Father's wires do.
The sky is dark and cruel and sunless, but he's never felt more alive. The grass is dead and the ground is grey but the snow floats around him, singing and laughing and echoing all the voices that float in his head. There are shadows all around, shadows of shadows and sometimes he thinks he can see red eyes and hear lower laughter. But he doesn't think about it, because here he's safe and can play with the snow and can be outside and there is no cage to hold him in.
"Your mother's first husband went to Heaven, you know," his father says with a grin. Charles is still in his cage, pressed against the ice-cold metal. His fingers are red and his nails look blue and his teeth won't stop chattering but he looks up through the bars on the top and watches his father anyway even as the man speaks about his real father who he isn't allowed to speak about because daddyI'msorrypleaseImissyou no… because those are the rules. Father says no more daddy, no more papa, just mother's first husband and that is how it goes. "Yes, Charles." Gleaming white teeth in a crooked smile. "But you won't, will you? Because there is no Heaven for you, Charles. And there will never be."
"Only Hell," Charles says along with his father, and it gets him out of the cage.
He doesn't have a body. His hands are in front of him, in front of his face, but he can't see them because they aren't there. The sky is red and angry and the lightning that crashes down from pitch black clouds is crimson like blood instead of white like hope. The snow is still there, but it just floats, unmoving, brushing against him even though he has no body, cold and wet and familiar. The ground is scorching hot and made of ashes and there's something standing at the edge of his boundaries. Something dark and human and misshapen, with those red eyes he's seen and a big smile of sharp teeth. It's pointing behind him with a long (too long) finger, and he turns around, and something inside of him wants to smile.
His mansion is burning in a sky-high tower of beautiful orange flames.
That night, free of his cage but not free of Father, Charles lays on the floor of his bedroom, the fire in his hearth burning with a roar that covers up the sound of his quick, shallow breathing. His cuts bleed onto the hardwood (he's moved the rug, as he always does), and he can't stop the tears that are flowing. He can hear the Cook downstairs (even though she isn't supposed to be here at night), her thoughts of hopehe' only adding to his tears. His mother he can hear as well, faint and whispered and just as broken as he is, hear her thinking KurtKurtKurtKurtKurtKurtKurt. It makes him sick and he throws up on the floor because only now and then, in the early hours of the morning when everything and everyone else is empty and she's had too much to drink and too much time to think he can hear the soft bitter longing call of Charles. And he can never get to her.
Marko is screaming. He's only Marko now, because Father is not Marko and Father is Daddy and Daddy is standing beside him, smiling and hugging him and watching with him as Marko burns with the mansion. Burns inside the cage that Charles knows from experience is hot from the flames. Daddy is talking to him, warm and encouraging, telling him how proud he is of him and what a wonderful young man he is growing up to be and that killing Marko will bring him the peace he wants and Charles just stands there and absorbs it all and cries and says nothing about the fact that Daddy's fingers are long and black like the shadow figure from outside.
Even though something feels wrong very very wrong and Daddy's grip is too tight and Marko's hands are too red and Charles is screaming like he's dying even though he's never been happier in his life.
"We're going to try something new today," Father says. Charles is with him in the lab that's hidden away on the other side of the bunker, sitting against the wall and staring at him without blinking because that shows that he is paying attention. He can't hear his father's thoughts the way he can hear everyone else's, because he refuses to believe the lovehateaffection he can feel is coming from that man.
"I want to see how far that ability of yours can stretch, Charles." Another bright twisted smile. "I want you to let it out." And something hard connects with his head and turns his vision black and then he doesn't know what happens. Just that he's screaming and then Father is screaming and everything is getting very hot and all he can see is his mansion burning and he knows his mother is inside and please can it all just stop because he doesn't want this anymore and daddywhereareyousaveusplease! And his father's thoughts of killhimsavehimwhathaveIdone? echo in his mind for the first time.
And then everything really does go black.
The sky is cloudy, cold, and blue. Everything is somber, and he's barefoot again, his dragging steps pushing the snow on the ground as he moves backward. Not forward. Not away. Because he's fallen under and he doesn't want to leave anymore than he wants to stay. The snow is calm in falling and each flake that lands on him adds a little cut that bleeds onto the white ground and leaves a trail of that crimson blood that had once been lightning. Behind him, he knows the shadowy figure with the red eyes and long hands is reaching out, calling him back with that crazyhappykillme grin, but his mansion is before him. Nothing but a skeleton of what it once was, with the haunting cries of the eternally dying ghosts as its voice. And he belongs to that as much as he belongs in the fire-twisted cage that sits on the front steps. His new room.
Six months after they bury his father, Charles turns twelve. His mother buys him a cake and smiles at him with tug of the lips that says sorryI'mtrying along with her mind and he smiles back the same way and tries to ignore the feel of the flames of his candles as he closes his eyes and blows them out. He doesn't make a wish, because wishes are for the deserving and there are two dead fatherdaddies in his life and he killed them both. The Cook stands in the background, smiling at him and cutting his cake when it's time, her thoughts of gladsogladhe'ssafe making his wire scars hurt.
But that night, he feels something new, and goes down to the kitchen with his baseball bat, prepared to strike because father could be back even though he's deaddeaddead, and instead finds his notmother hunting for food in the refrigerator. His notmother, who is really Raven, a girl who is different, just like him, with blue skin and terrified yellow eyes and a pretty smile. A little girl he instantly latches onto and who latches onto him in return, because she needs a family and he has destroyed his.
He gives her a home, a haven, calls her his 'sister' and loves her, and she hugs him and whispers to him when his healed wounds begin to bleed and calls him her 'brother' and loves him too.
When she dies, he'll never see her again. Because Raven, he knows, is going to Heaven, because even though she's different she's an angel.
It's always cold. The sun never comes out, and sometimes the sky goes from blue to red and the snow will stop moving and Charles can only remember the mansion burning and Daddy laughing and Father dying and knowing he started it all. He sits in his cage and squeezes his eyes shut and forces his brain to think ! until the sky is blue and the snow is falling and he's freezing again.
Charles Xavier is going to Hell. He knows this for a fact, even though he's now twenty-eight instead of eleven. Even though Raven, as pretty in her human skin as she is in her blue, shakes her head and hugs him and tells him he is the most wonderful person she has ever known; hugs him tighter when he says he loves her, but she's wrong.
Charles knows this, not only because Father had told him this, not only because he has proven this, but because Erik will need for him to do it.
Erik, who is just as scarred as he is, who is just as broken. Erik, who he pulled from the water and the shadowy depths that Charles now lives in. Erik, who is sleeping but notsleeping beside him, running a finger possessively up and down the scar that wraps around Charles' arm like a permanent brand. Erik, with his own real brand on his own arm, a brand of numbers and fate that Charles licked and kissed and whispered against for an hour if only to drive out the pain from the ink. Erik, who is just like him but is so much better than him and who told Charles that he has been on the road to Hell since the day he allowed his mother to die and killed two men because of her death. Killed so many more.
"You have no idea what I've done," the German had whispered into the night, words traveling over a chessboard locked in stalemate. "What I am." Charles had met his gaze evenly and smiled a bitter smile.
"As you have no idea of me, my friend," he returned. I know that darkness, Erik. It is as much mine as it is yours. Let me lead you through it? And their eyes glimmer together.
The kiss that had followed had been unexpected and known and wonderful and followed by many, many more, cloaked in pain and past and blood and horror. They both smiled all the way through and said words in silence that would never be spoke aloud.
Erik plans to kill Shaw. Schmidt. Herr Doktor. He plans to make it bloody and make it slow and make it count. A final act to cement his place in Hell.
But Charles does not intend to let him. Because Erik has done many horrible things, but he still cries. Still has nightmares. Still feels remorse, sadness, sorrow, guilt. Charles can't feel these anymore. Erik deserves a second chance to escape Hell. Charles has already damned his second chance, damned his soul, and therefore it is settled in his mind.
He will be the one to kill Shaw. He will rip him apart piece by piece and let the blood splatter to the floor and the limbs flail where they fall. He will keep Shaw's mind alive to watch and feel it all, replay every last memory of the torture he inflicted on others, on Erik, and make him feel their fear, their misery. And he will let Erik watch, because he deserves it.
Curled up in the middle of a large bed, in a room that has always been Charles, where old but still beating bloodstains hide under an expensive oriental rug, Erik nips at Charles' neck, and Charles nips at his jaw, and they're moving again.
A telepath and a metal-bender. It makes him silently laugh. Had they met earlier, they may have been able to save each other – Erik from himself, Charles from his cage.
But now, it is only that Charles can save Erik, and go to Hell by himself.
He thinks he prefers it that way.
A field of cages, a field of screams. He in his, them in theirs. Twisted and demented and unrelenting and inescapable. Minds. Bars. They are all the same. All permanent. They are all together, in a mix of fire and snow and hot and cold and wanting to die but unable because they're already dead. And even together, they're all alone.
I listened to Emily Browning's "Sweet Dreams (are made of this)" from the Sucker Punch soundtrack – the beginning of the song set the tone for the story. I suggest listening to it if you get the opportunity. It's dark and beautiful and inspiring.
Let me know what you thought?