A/N: Been shipping Erik and Charles ever since I accidentally stumbled upon a Cherik fic while browsing for something totally unrelated. This mad idea assaulted my brain at an ungodly hour last night, and I just had to write it. A bit of a character study, if you will, using the premise of Magneto having sort of a split personality, with Erik being the good half of him that still loves Charles and Magneto the bad half who just wants to achieve his own ends. I'd been brooding on the fact that the original script for X2 had Magneto actually rescuing Charles from Cerebro instead of manipulating him and leaving him for dead, and I just thought that that would have been the most epic scene ever. Of course, those stupid writers don't know what makes for good cinema. I was going to rewrite the movie scene like they'd originally planned, but this came out instead. Please enjoy and leave a review- this is my first X-Men fic! BTW I hope Magneto's in character, I really tried my best.

"Eric, hurry!" Mystique cried, cowering on the floor with her hands clamped desperately over her ears. Charles was telepathically killing every mutant in the world, and he had to be stopped. Magneto took his place in front of the round door and spread his arms wide as he prepared all his concentration to focus on the metal behind it and the machinery it belonged to. His hands shook with the effort of contorting its design, his mind flicking back decades to the time he had spent with Charles building it, recalling from the depths of his memory how to deactivate it.

He felt it shut down like he might have heard an engine whirring to a stop, and he opened the doors with his power to enter Stryker's abominable mockery of the real Cerebro.

Magneto strode in purposefully, confidently, but Erik almost stumbled at the sight of Charles. He wore Magneto on the outside, but somewhere deep in his heart Erik had always- and would always- reside, forever nestled next to a certain telepath-

No. That way lay weakness.

And so he buried Erik firmly away and continued toward the wheelchair bound man in front of him- no, one of the wheelchair bound men. There was a man behind Charles dressed in hospital scrubs, medical apparatuses on the back of his chair. As he passed him, the man turned to look at him, one green eye and one blue staring at him as though to penetrate his very soul. Magneto knew that look; he had seen it enough with Charles to know. It was the look of a telepath trying to gain access to another's mind. He tapped his helmet mockingly at the sickly man. He had no power over him as long as he wore it.

"How does it look from there, Charles?" He asked rhetorically, unsure of whether or not Charles could hear him. He continued anyway. "Still fighting the good fight. From here, it doesn't look like they're playing by the rules." According to Magneto, rules were only good so long as both sides followed them. But more often than not, one side or the other would break them. It was one thing Charles never seemed to understand. He insisted on taking the good in men for granted, and could never see the hidden dark lurking. Magneto, on the other hand, had learned long ago to recognize that dark, and beat them to the punch. "It's time to play be theirs."

And with that, Magneto summoned up his powers and rose above the narrow walkway, once more drawing on the knowledge of his construction of the original machine to rearrange the panels on the curved walls, morphing it into his own design. As he finished and slowly floated back down to stand on firm metal, the machine started up again. Mystique saw from the hall his work was done and entered, smoothly morphing into Stryker himself as she walked. She stopped by the man with the multi colored eyes, leaned down, and said in his ear,

"There's been a change of plan." As she whispered the details, glancing up at Magneto briefly, he smiled slightly. This had always been the plan, the reason why they agreed to help the X-Men in the first place.

Then why, why did he feel his heart clench, his hands shake, and why did his smile falter? It was not Magneto who could be feeling these things, never he, the unbending advocate for mutant rights by any means necessary. It was Erik who caused him this abominable feeling, this weakness. Magneto could not bury Erik deep enough that he could not feel Erik's heart breaking within his breast. He tried not to crumble under the full force of Erik's despair at the knowledge that he was leaving Charles for dead, tried desperately not to let it affect his resolve. After all, one mutant's life was a fair price to pay for the freedom of the rest. And if another mutant's heart had to be broken in the process, well, it was nothing he couldn't handle. Loss was nothing new to either Erik or Magneto.

It was a mark of how much influence Erik still had over Magneto that he turned around one last time to look at Charles, the smile slipping slowly off his face as he did so. He walked carefully over to the unresponsive telepath. His one time love and perennial friend faced away from him, and for that, he was glad. Because he knew that if he looked at him, allowed himself to remember all the loving gazes and the feel of fingers brushing against his own, he wouldn't be able to leave Charles's side again. All he had worked for his whole life would be gone as effectively as brushing crumbs off a picnic cloth.

He settled for laying a hand gently on the back of his chair and saying,

"Good bye, Charles." Erik would have liked to linger, the looming threat of the dam breaking naught but a niggling thought in the back of his mind, but Alkali Base had a death sentence upon its head as surely as Charles did and Magneto needed to get out quickly if he wanted to escape the same fate. His hand slipped off the chair listlessly as he turned his back and walked away.

He swept his cape aside with a flourish as he passed the sickly man in the wheelchair, Mystique a few paces ahead of him and already out the door. When he stepped over its threshold to turn and close it with a casual flick of his wrists, he was forced to look upon Charles for the last time.

Even though they'd been on opposite sides since that fateful day on the beach in Cuba, there had always been a part of Erik- and maybe of Magneto, too- that had held out hope that one day, Charles would realize that he was wrong and come over to his side, and they could pick up where they left off. However, it was Magneto who realized that this was just a fantasy.

He tried not to let his heart break as the doors closed and Charles was cut off from view. He tried, but it insisted on breaking anyway.

And so it was that Magneto was left with a diluted triumph. In the waters of victory swirled bits of driftwood grief that polluted their pristine shimmer. It was Magneto's greatest regret that his friend would not live to see the accomplishment of all they had ever fought for, albeit with different tactics. It was Erik's greatest regret that he would never again kiss Charles, or hold his hand as they walked through the mansion together. The two halves of Magneto agreed on one thing, at least: the world was indeed a bleaker place without Charles Xavier.

-Some time later-

It did not take long to realize that, somehow, his plans had been interfered with. As Magneto and Mystique rose into the air in their stolen helicopter, first minutes, then hours passed, and no humans spontaneously dropped dead. Though Magneto's disappointment and anger that the eradication of humans had failed could find no outlet, Magneto and Erik's hearts beat as one in their joy at Charles's survival.

A/N: What do you think? A bit too muc fluff? I was going for angst, but I haven't written in a while and, you know, you get rusty. Oh, and about Stryker's son- Jason, was it? I wasn't sure if Magneto knew him or not, so I just wrote it like he was unacquainted. BTW did anyone recognize the subtle House MD reference in the title? No? Oh, well, just thought I'd point it out. And remember- hours to write, seconds to review!