Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men. Marvel does.

A/N: Writer's block buster, for the challenge of posting anything I write. I don't know exactly where this came from. But okay. I can take that. I started both Erik and Charles off at 12 years old.

Rating: T


Freiheit

Erik meets Herr Doktor at the front of the Camp in 1944. Just yards away from freedom that lays in front of an iron gate he knows he can move anyway. Freedom he knows he can get to if he plays along for just a little, little bit.

So he smiles for Herr Doktor and tries to be nice and Herr Doktor shoots his mother in the head.

His chance for freedom dies with his mother, because they leave the Camp a week later, and Erik has a coin in his hand.

Charles meets Doctor Shaw in his home in 1945. Just feet away from his front door and the freedom that lays beyond it. But the voices that have started invading his head are loud and crippling and going outside only makes them louder.

So he smiles for Doctor Shaw and tries to answer his questions and he must say something right because Doctor Shaw takes him away from his willing mother.

His chance for freedom is taken away with him, because they leave the mansion that day without stepping outside.

-X-

Erik and Charles meet through introduction in 1945. They are wary of one another at first but then the Doctor leaves the room and Erik points at an old scar on Charles' arm and asks him if he knows what pain is. Charles smiles and says yes, and that he can feel that Erik does too.

Herr Doktor. Doctor Shaw. They both agree to simply call him "Doctor". At the Doctor's suggestion, Charles teaches Erik English and Erik teaches Charles Polish (it's supposed to be German but Charles already knows German and what the Doctor doesn't know won't hurt them).

They do not trust one another, but they understand one another and that is a start.

And for a while, Charles pretends that things can be perfect and Erik pretends that he can make things better, one day.

But then, in 1946, Charles learns where the Doctor takes Erik every day. He follows when he isn't supposed to and sneaks into the big mirrored room and watches as the Doctor presses wires to Erik's skull and turns on electricity to see if it will "increase his control" over metal.

The Doctor has been trying to direct Charles on how to control his gift but all he can hear now is Erik screaming and begging even though his mouth is closed and the Doctor's calm, scientific thoughts as he absently praises Erik and watches the readouts of his machine.

That night, after the Doctor goes to bed, Charles goes to Erik and simply sits and ignores the rages to leave. And Erik, too exhausted to fight, tells Charles some things about the Doctor in Polish that Charles did not know, and sends images to Charles' telepathy that he cannot describe in sane words, and then Charles is stubbornly holding Erik and promising him in every language he can that things will change.

Because Charles knows then that things cannot be perfect, but thinks that maybe he can help Erik make things better, one day.

By 1947, Charles and Erik are fifteen and Charles still cannot control his gift and the Doctor takes on different "painless" measures to help.

The first night, Charles hears nothing at all, not even himself, and his ears bleed and his eyes bleed and he won't see Erik because he feels like he is dying and wants to set the world ablaze because of it.

But Erik finds out, and it is all Charles can do to keep him from trying to kill the Doctor, grabbing his hand and holding on so tight his body screams in protest. He says it is because they have nowhere else to go, but when Erik argues, he adds that the Doctor will kill Erik first. And Charles will not allow that.

The other boy admits that truth, and after moments of silence bitterly dubs Charles "little lab rat", but Charles knows it is because he feels helpless, and angry, and takes the nickname with a wet, painful laugh, and kisses him lightly on the cheek. Erik is startled, gruff and blushing, but does not let go of his hand.

And every night after that Erik holds Charles and every other night Charles holds Erik and they swear to each other in English and German and Polish that, one day, when they are strong enough - made strong enough - they will kill the Doctor. And on that day, when he is dead and they are free, things will change.

-X-

That day comes in 1962, when Erik is thirty and Charles is just shy of it. They are both grown, covered in scars both on their bodies and on their souls, and they have long been calling the Doctor "Father", even though it burns their tongues, and follow his orders, even though it kills them both. But those days are not this day, and they wake up and just know it.

They are in a submarine, miles under water in the Atlantic Ocean, sitting quietly as their "father" cackles as ships blow to pieces above them and World War III is set to begin. Across the floor they share looks of identical broken blue, and Emma hums a carefree tune and Riptide smirks and Azazel pops back in from the Russian cargo ship just as Erik throws his hand forward and pins their "father" against the hull of sub by the iron in his blood. No one moves.

And "Father", Doctor Shaw, Herr Doktor, stares with such disbelief and anger that Charles, standing in time with Erik, chuckles with a small shake of his head, and his mind keeps the man's mouth from speaking.

"Honestly, Father, you look so surprised." Charles' voice is hoarse from years of wrenching screams, but his tone is jovial as he approaches his guardian of seventeen years, cocking his head. There is a scar of white that runs down the side of one electric blue eye, but Charles can see him just fine. "Did you ... you genuinely believed that we were with you? Do you see that Erik?" He laughs, and Erik laughs, but there are no smiles. "I can hear it." The last words are hissed.

"Unfortunate," Erik agrees, moving forward. He sees "Father" look desperately to Emma, to Azazel, to Riptide, and laughs again. "They will not help you," he assures gently. "They are just as eager for this as we are. But you should not worry, Father." He shares another look with Charles, the scar on the telepath's eye mirrored in a longer version down Erik's face, and the other nods. "You have made us "perfect", and so we are. We will be the leaders you cannot be. We will take wonderful care of this world you have created for us. "

"For all Mutants," Charles echoes, and then a twisted smile pulls at his lips, and he reaches out a hand to grasp Erik's free one. "However, first, I believe we should play a little game. The methods and instruments are a little different, but I'm sure, Father, that you are familiar with it all the same."

Emma is already approaching them, a small box in her hand. A small box that "Father" has kept locked away and that Erik has never forgotten about and that Charles, by default, knows the contents of. And so when Emma pops open the lid to reveal the small coin that Erik had held in his hand when he lost his freedom in the Camp, it surprises no one.

Charles can feel the dread seeping into "Father's" mind at the sight, and Erik can feel his body struggle in realization, and their smiles become a little more genuine and Erik tightens his grip on their entwined hands as another missile rips through another ship and more souls are lost.

"I did want to thank you, you know," Charles says softly, and startled eyes from his nightmares turn towards him one last time. "You have ripped me apart and put me back together so backwards that I can never be whole again. But." You gave me him. You gave me Erik, and gave Erik me, and because of that we will survive this. And for that, and only that, I thank you, Doctor Shaw.

And then he nods to Erik, who loosens their hands (not for this, Charles), and stares at the Doctor with the demonic gaze of the monster he was made into. He steps forward, and his words are strong, brutal, and haunted.

"I am going to count to three."

-X-

It is January of 1964.

The world has survived the Nuclear War (no one calls it World War III, but everyone knows how close it was to being it), though America's major and somewhat-major cities are still nothing but rubble and radiation, and no one has heard much from Russia in a while.

It is almost difficult to believe that such torment and hate and horror could have lasted for only a year, yet caused so much devastation.

But no one has won, because the fight has not stopped. Only changed direction.

Charles and Erik are standing together on the steel-covered balcony of Charles' old mansion, eyes watchful but smiles content as they stare out over the snow-covered fields that surround their home. The winter is not natural, more soot and frozen smoke than snow, as Nuclear Winter is meant to be, but the children, specially clothed, are playing in it with joy and laughter that is severely out of place and yet just right.

They both laugh slightly as Alex (called Havok only on runs because Alex was the name his mother gave him, and not the humans, thank you very much) sends whiplashes of his plasma rays crashing amongst the pseudo-snow, sending it into the frenzy of a snowglobe that the children begin to race through and dance in. He, along with Sean and Hank who now laugh beside him, have come a long way from the mindless, enslaved mutant boys they had found in the CIA's possession, forced to fight in a war they did not want.

Erik had slaughtered their captors for them while Charles had broken their mental conditioning with ease. The three had not left the two men since, and they let them stay.

"Your oxygen tanks will need refilling soon," a bright voice calls out, and they both smile at the blue-skinned, red-haired girl who is sticking her head out of the window above them. Raven. Mystique when she wants to be. Their beautiful, loving younger sister, the first mutant they had found after the Doctor, who constantly reminds them with quirky banter and acceptance of what living outside of walls is supposed to be like. "And don't think I don't know your filter is old, Charles," she adds with a frown, and then disappears and closes the window when Azazel's tail pulls at her wrist.

Such a scamp, he projects fondly toward Erik. I blame your influence.

I do believe it all comes from you, Liebe, Erik taunts back gently. I am innocent in it all.

And it says so much to Charles that they can even think of joking now, he and Erik, that he suddenly presses closer to his life-long companion, head falling just under the older man's chin, and sighs as deeply as his blocking filter will allow.

They are free, the Doctor only a demon of their nightmares now, his corpse rotting at the bottom of the Atlantic in a broken submarine, a hole torn through his skull. The stone mansion that Charles had left as a child is his home once more ā€“ their home ā€“ the stone covered in thick adamantium metal at Erik's will. It protects them, all of them, Charles and Erik and the large number of hidden mutants that have become their family, It will be a few more years before the climate will be able to right itself, before the Sun will peak onto them for more than a few minutes a month. But until then, they have the warmth of the shields of Charles' still-reaching mind, the protection of Erik's still-expanding magnetism, and the eternal safe-locked company of each other. It's the perfect that Charles has been longing for since he left with Doctor Shaw to find it.

You think too much, little rat. Come, let us go inside. We have much to do, and even I can see the poor state of your filter now. Hank will have it out with you for that.

Charles looks at Erik through his thin goggles, sees Erik staring right back at him. And they cannot kiss now, as they did in the secrecy of their life before, as they do publicly in their home now, but Erik holds out his gloved hand, and Charles takes it, holds it tightly, and they turn to head in, side by side and not a step behind. They will call the children in soon for cleaning, dinner, and bed.

And then they will gather their team, and go out into the destruction again. Hank's newly crafted Airthopter has passed it's testing, Riptide has found the base of a movement, and Erik and Charles are slowly taking over this Nuclear-devastated world that was made for them.


A/N:

Yep. Ended a little nicer than I intended. But Iā€¦ need to possibly write this multi-chaptered. Because I love it. And it needs more.

One day ā€¦ it may or may not happen. ;D

Let me know what you thought?