Title: Rage and Serenity (1/?)
Pairing: Erik Lensherr/Charles Xavier
Fandom:X-Men (First Class)
Rating: PG (eventual NC-17)
Spoilers: X-Men First Class
Word Count: 3,579
Disclaimer: Not mine. The characters of X-Men belong to Marvel and the creators of X-men First Class the movie.
Summary: After Charles is shot on the beach, he is rushed to the hospital and paralysis is prevented. Ridden with guilt, Erik finds that he cannot leave him. He helps him heal, and eventually, Charles learns to trust him again. But when they set out to rescue Emma from the CIA and accept her onto their team, tensions rise. Will love keep Erik and Charles together despite their differences?
A/N: This story was originally written as an RPG, which explains any shifty POV's. This story is not beta read. Feedback is appreciated!
"I want you by my side. We are brothers you and I… We want the same things.""Oh, my friend. I'm sorry, but we do not."
Charles' last words before he passed out in Erik's arms still haunted him. Before the telepath weaseled his way into his life, Erik knew he would have left his friends on the beach. He would have taken what was left of Shaw's team and left the others.
He had big plans after Shaw's death, after all. He thought he had the world figured out. He thought it was all very simple. That was, of course, until Charles brought him back to himself in a moment when he least expected it.
And yet it only really hit Erik as he pulled the steaming hot bullet out of Charles' lower back and into his palm that there could be no life without him. They were worlds apart, but he couldn't stand to be his enemy. He would give it all up just for a chance to make this up to him, to prove his last words to him wrong. There is something else worth fighting for now, he thought, hoping desperately that it would reach him somehow.
So instead of leaving his injured friend on the beach that day, he hugged his unconscious body tighter to his chest and gave orders to the others despite their shocked, stunned faces. Azazel teleported Charles and Raven to the hospital emergency room, and there, he was rushed into surgery. According to doctors, their quick action saved Charles from a life without use of his legs. The doctors had assured them that with time and hard work, Charles would walk again. This miracle still didn't ease Erik's guilt.
And now, days later, Charles still hadn't woken up. Erik didn't think it was safe to keep him at the hospital to recover, so with a little persuasion, he convinced doctors to let him bring him home to the mansion to heal with an in-home nurse. From then on, Erik was constantly at his side, waiting anxiously for signs of life. He hadn't let anyone else in the room since but Raven, only because he had no energy to say no to her and she could be damn stubborn.
Besides, he owed her. Kissing her that night made him realize just how much he was in love with Charles. She must have seen it too, because as soon as the kiss ended, she smiled sadly and walked out of his room, almost as if she were a mind reader.
Erik continued to watch Charles' steady but shallow breathing and smoothed his soft brunette hair out of his face. He felt his own eyes sting with tears at the thought of him waking up and resenting him forever. Even so, he decided, he wouldn't leave. He couldn't.
At first, Charles could only hear a faint stream of thoughts like a distant static radio. It wasn't at all like the thoughts that steamed into his unconsciousness from his time in the hospital, giving him vivid nightmares of death and suffering. He could not quite understand them, but they were enough to stir him back into consciousness for the first time since he was shot down.
There was suddenly comfort all around him as he came to: Familiar smells and the feel of his own luxurious, childhood bed. But when he slowly opened his eyes, everything came rushing back to him and it was almost too much to bear. It was the sudden pain he felt then that made it real and convinced him that he hadn't died. He was very much alive. His eyes fluttered around the room but he could not focus on anything at all. The incoherent thoughts of others were still all around him, smothering him a little. He had no energy to block them from his open mind.
"Where am I?" he asked frantically.
"You're home," a strained, familiar voice answered him. Erik was out of his chair and at Charles's bedside in an instant. "What do you remember?" he asked hesitantly.
Charles noticed Erik then for the first time, even though he had been hearing him in his head for hours, days... however long he had been asleep. It startled him to see him now, not knowing what kind of person their last battle has made him. His eyes focused on him as if they were trying to read him, but his mind was too scrambled.
"I, I remember everything," he admitted, his glossed-over gaze never leaving Erik's.
Erik had to look away from those wonderfully expressive eyes because the guilt was killing him. "I'm so sorry, Charles. I... I will get Raven for you," he whispered before he promptly stood up.
An overwhelming, desperate feeling swept over Charles then, and before he knew what he was doing, he reached for Erik to stop him from going. He held onto his arm tightly as if it helped him brave the pain in his back. "Please don't leave," he pleaded as if it hurt him to even speak.
"Charles, don't move, you fool," Erik responded, and only he could make it sound affectionate. He sat back down on the bed, closer to Charles this time. "You are on a lot of pain killers, but don't push yourself."
Charles stilled once he knew Erik was not going to leave him. He took a deep breath and did not release his friend's arm from his tight hold. He had to know one thing. He could not bear to ask the question in anticipation of the answer. He needed to find out himself if he was going to spend the rest of his life a cripple. He had to move his legs.
He let go of Erik's arm as if he had suddenly realized it was there and ignored his warning as he sat up as much as he could. He winced through the pain as he bit his lip and forced himself to twitch his foot. "Ah!" he cried out in pain, but it was soon followed by strained laughter through tears. He was not paralyzed. He couldmove his legs.
Erik watched Charles worriedly, thinking that perhaps the drugs were too much. "Lay back down," he ordered firmly. He wanted to physically force Charles back down, but he was terrified of hurting him again. He was the cause of this pain, after all, and Charles still bore the evidence of Erik's violent touch with bruises on his face.
Erik would never hit the other man again, and if he could help it, he would never allow anyone else hurt him, either.
Charles collapsed back onto the bed, exhausted from his pain but sick of sleeping. Still, he was overjoyed by one thing. "I can walk..." he gasped as if the other man didn't know. The excitement was evident in his voice even through his ragged breathing. "I'm not paralyzed..."
"No, we got you to a hospital in time. The doctors assured me you would walk again, but you can't push yourself," Erik whispered to him.
Charles tried to relax as much as he could. It seemed all the pain killers did was dull his mind and thoughts. He looked up at Erik with dilated blue eyes. He remembered his betrayal most of all. He remembered how the bullet felt as it penetrated his back. "Why are you here?" he asked bluntly.
Erik should have known that was coming. It was a question that he had asked himself over and over again. "Because... because I meant what I said on the beach. I want you by my side, and if that means I have to set aside my own beliefs to keep you, then I will."
Charles was instantly confused. If he knew anything about Erik at all, it was that nothing stood between him and his beliefs. Charles has seen into his mind before and he knew the pain and trauma and determination that resided there. "To keep me?" he repeated. He looked deeply into his eyes, trying to find the truth and answers there.
Erik cleared his throat and looked uncomfortable. "You are my first and only friend. I should not have been so eager to throw that away."
Though Erik's eyes averted his, Charles continued to watch him with uncertainty, pain, and hope. It was hard, with the narcotics dulling his senses, to block the locked away memories that Charles' brain could unlock in Erik. It was hard to silence the thoughts streaming from him, and although he would never steal a look into his mind without permission, he needed to know the truth.
Erik's mind was always beautiful. While many other people's thoughts were chaotic and unintelligible, his were almost poetic, the way they flowed like ocean waves. Charles could live inside Erik's mind, he decided, even though some places were too dark to see.
Desire. Guilt. Need. Passion. Sacrifice.
Charles gasped as he pulled his eyes away from Erik in surprise. "Forgive me, I... I cannot seem to control myself right now," he stuttered as he hurried to say.
Erik usually would have been angry with Charles for rummaging around in his head. He could always feel when the other man did so. It was a strange, warm feeling that he always associated with Charles' physical presence. As far as he knew, he was the only one that could tell when Charles let his mind wander. He had never heard any of the children discussing the warm feeling Charles always left behind.
Erik also understood that Charles's gift came as naturally to him as breathing. It was second nature to skim people's surface thoughts, but when Charles lifted his fingers to his temple, it still made Erik uncomfortable. The only solace Erik had had in those early days when he first met Charles was that the telepath would always wear a metal watch as if he were showing Erik that he still had some control.
"It's fine. The drugs are affecting you. You should get some sleep," he urged him.
Charles was in shock and could not stop staring at Erik as if a wall had suddenly fallen between them.It must be the medicine playing tricks on my mind, he thought privately to himself. Erik did not feel those things towards him. "I've been sleeping for too long... how, how long has it been?' he asked tentatively, although the greater questions were left unasked. If he allowed Erik to leave this room, would he be gone forever?
"It's been two weeks since the beach," Erik told him softly, "Everyone is here. Even Shaw's people. Well, except for the telepath. Apparently, the CIA still has her." Azazel had been dropping hints to everyone about going to get Emma Frost, but Erik would not allow that. Not until Charles was better.
Charles found all of that overwhelming. The mutants that were once their enemies were now their allies. They could not all be on the same team... could they?
That was when Charles realized something else; something that he did not need to spy into his mind to see. "And you have been sitting here this whole time, Erik?" he asked, his own eyes heavy lidded with drowsiness. But Erik's heavy bags under his eyes looked far worse...
Erik's jaw clenched and his body tensed defensively, as if caring about someone was a weakness for him. "I wanted to make sure you were safe. I don't trust Shaw's people any farther than I could throw them."
"They are no longer Shaw's people. You took care of that," Charles told him, and the disapproval was evident in his tone. "I told you killing him would not bring you peace."
"No, but it was still enjoyable," Erik replied, trying to keep the irritation out of his voice. "The only thing I regret is you suffering for it," he added in a whisper. Raven told him how Charles suffered while trying to hold Shaw still and it only added to a long list of things he needed to make up to him.
Pain coursed through Charles' body then and he winced as if Erik's thoughts of him suffering made him relive it. "I thought nothing was more important to you than revenge," he challenged, "I thought we were the superior race, we were to take over the world..."
"I still believe those things," Erik told him as he reached for the pill bottle on Charles' bedside table. He unscrewed the cap and handed a pill and glass of water to Charles. Until now, he had been receiving medication through an I.V. which Erik now gently removed from his hand. "We should have these discussions when you're feeling better."
This was one of those moments when Charles would give anything to save Erik from the trauma in his life. He wished he had saved him the same way he had saved Raven as a child. He wanted so badly to show him that things could be good, that people could be good, that he could stay with him forever...
Charles didn't want to take any more pills, but Erik had a way of convincing him of things without even a single word and he was clumsily reached for the pill without even realizing it. He swallowed it down with the water, and when he lay back down, it was as though a sudden wave of calm had fallen over him.
"You're a good man, Erik... I thought I'd lost you," he confessed, only half awake now.
"Charles, go to sleep," Erik insisted gently, but he couldn't help but reach out and push Charles's hair out of his face again. "I'll be here when you wake up," he promised.
The last thought Charles had before he fell back into unconsciousness was that his dear friend Erik needed a life. He wasn't possibly thinking of sitting vigil by his bedside until he woke up again, was he?
The thought was actually a tremendous comfort to him, as strange as that was.
The next few hours, Charles slept and Erik watched him. Raven came into the room after a while and Erik told her the good news that Charles had woken up for a very brief time. She was mad that he didn't come get her, of course, but she was too overjoyed to hear that her brother was going to be okay to stay angry. After she left to tell the others, Erik pulled the chair up close to the bed and fell asleep with his head resting on his folded arms on the bed.
Charles slept better than he had in what felt like months, and when he began to wake again, he didn't have to look to know that Erik was still there. He had always been able to feel Erik's presence stronger than the others. He didn't have to open his eyes for his hand to know exactly where to travel as he laid it on the top of Erik's sleeping head to run his fingers soothingly through his short hair.
Erik didn't startle awake from the touch like he usually would. Instead, waking was a peaceful transition. He groaned softly and sat up when he realized Charles was awake, or at least, awake enough to be petting him. "Do you need anything?" he asked softly.
Charles let his hand fall limp now that Erik was awake. He did not have the energy to shake his head, but he smiled drowsily up at his friend. "How long must I be confined to this bloody bed?" he asked instead.
Erik looked at the clock and knew their 'children', as Charles affectionately called them, would be eating dinner soon. Maybe it would be good for them to see their Professor up. "That depends on how you feel."
Charles thought it was a bit of a strange thing to hear Erik say, but he had gotten used to hearing strange things from his voice and his mind. "I feel good, really good," he nearly laughed. The pain was still there, but he was able to focus away from it for once, thanks to the pleasurable high from the narcotics.
"Staying in bed it is, then," Erik said firmly.
Charles' smile quickly turned into a frown when he realized he held hope for nothing. By the pain he felt, he knew the wounds were still very fresh and it would be a very long time before he was able to get out of bed without someone helping him. "How are the children? I wish to see them..." he told him.
"They are fine. Perhaps they can come up so you can see for yourself," Erik offered, "Raven is the only one that's been in and out of here."
As much as Charles wanted to see the others, he couldn't help but feel like he had everything he needed right here in front of him. "Perhaps when I am feeling better..." he said a little sadly, hoping that moment would come soon. He looked up at Erik. "You are tired. I can feel your drowsiness. It is making me fall asleep. You need to let yourself rest. I will be fine if you do," he reassured him gently.
"I'm not leaving you alone," Erik answered, thinking that Charles was trying to kick him out of the room.
Charles knew what Erik was thinking as if he had said it out loud. Once again, the other man was trying to make himself suffer to make up for the fact that Charles was hurting so intensely for him. "Oh, Erik," he sighed as he blindly reached for his arm. "Don't you know that I forgive you?" He wasn't sure if he spoke it in his mind or out loud, but it didn't matter. Erik would hear him.
Erik's fists clenched but he did not move Charles's hand from his arm. "You shouldn't forgive me. You forgive too easily," he accused.
Charles thought it was easier to forgive. He didn't think there was anything wrong with that. "And you do not forgive nearly enough, my friend," his eyes were closed now, "Don't suffer to make up for my suffering..."
Erik knew how he was. He held grudges close to him like lifelines. He was pretty, however, that he could forgive Charles of anything. "It should have been me in your place. If I could have taken that bullet for you, I would have."
"Shhh, stop that nonsense," Charles protested with a shake of his head, but instantly regretted it when his head ached. It remembered its sacrifice for Erik. "It shouldn't have happened at all, but you are here now, and that means the world to me," he whispered in earnest.
Erik let out a shaky breath. "I'm here for as long as you need me to be."
Charles wanted so badly to believe him. It scared him how badly he wanted it. He sighed and winced again when a wave of pain hit him. "If you refuse to leave me to rest, then you must lay beside me. I will not have you suffer any longer," he told him bossily.
Erik was hesitant to crawl into bed with him, mainly because he wanted it so much. In the end, his worry for his friend won him over and he slipped his shoes off and carefully slipped onto the king-sized bed. He was careful not to cause Charles any more pain by jostling him.
Charles gave a satisfied smile. If only he could get him to give in as easily for other things. He tried to hide another wince when the movement caused a pain to shoot up his spine. Erik eased down till he was lying on top of the covers. "Pain killers make you even bossier," he said softly.
"That isn't true," Charles argued, because he could be bossy no matter what. Now that Erik was settled down and was no longer moving the bed, the pain dissolved and he relaxed. But he still felt Erik's nervous energy beside him. Sometimes, Erik was like a wild animal, but Charles knew just the thing to soothe his nerves. "Sleep, Erik," he whispered, and reached tentatively for his arm again.
He thought of the meaning of peace, of tranquility, of cloudy skies and calm, deep bodies of water. He projected all these thoughts into Erik's mind.
"You know I don't like you in my head," Erik protested weakly.
"I'm not in your head," Charles smiled, "I'm sending broadcasts your way and your mind is accepting them." He thought of blue skies and the sound of birds and sleeping under the sun.
"You are supposed to be resting," Erik admonished even as his eyes closed and he surrendered to the images.
Charles was asleep by the time Erik was, his hand still loosely on his arm as if he wanted to swim in the man's dreams. It was a few hours later when Raven wandered up to the bedroom and knocked softly, knowing that Erik must be inside. The man refused to leave his side, after all, and if Raven hasn't been preparing and bringing him his food, he would have perished by now.
When she heard no answer, she thought it strange and slowly opened the door. She was surprised to see Erik beside Charles on the bed, looking more peaceful than Raven had ever seen him.