A/N: This is just an idea that came to me while I was watching X-Men: First Class last night. It popped into my head during the scene where Charles was using Cerebro for the first time, and I couldn't help but wonder "what would happen if..?" I don't know if it makes sense anywhere except inside my own head, but the plot-bunny that gave it to me refused to leave until I'd typed it up, and I figured I might as well post it for someone else to (hopefully) enjoy.
Rated T for some mild cursing and general mentions of drugs/alcohol/etc,.
Disclaimer: I don't own Charles, Erik, or any of the X-Men. That right goes to Stan Lee and all the other brilliant people over at Marvel. I'm just playing with the characters and will return them when I'm done. :)
Charles Xavier knew so much, and yet so very little about the dangers of addiction.
How could he know? He'd never been an addict, never been held in the vice-like grip of drugs or alcohol or even a substance so innocent as caffeine.
No. What he knew about addiction came second hand from the thoughts and minds of others. He'd seen into the minds of too many people whose lives were ruined by drugs and other things to ever go near the substances himself. He'd never felt the absolute desire, the all consuming hunger, the agonizing need that took over the physical body and left it demanding, begging, screaming for it's next fix.
"Charles, damn you, snap out of it!"
He'd never been an addict.
And he'd sworn to himself that this was different. That this was good. It wasn't hurting anyone, wasn't hurting him like real a real addiction would have. This was helping him, teaching him, setting him free. He could stop when he wanted, he wouldn't let it go too far.
Charles Xavier was an addict. Cerebro was his tool, the way he got his fix. The minds, the thoughts, the dreams and aspirations and hopes of the every living person, mutant and human alike, were his drug.
He told himself he could stop whenever he wanted to.
But what if he never wanted to? What if he wanted to stay here forever?
Erik Lensherr knew all about addiction.
He'd suffered from the burdens of one nearly his entire life. But his drug wasn't what one would expect. He found no attraction in the things that usually trapped people. Drugs held no interest for him, alcohol had no appeal.
No. His drug wasn't something man made or man sold. It was something feral, something natural, something born of suffering and hardship and hatred. His drug was vengeance. And he knew all about the absolute desire, the all consuming hunger, the burning need that overtook him until he could physically feel the ache as his soul demanded it's fix.
He was an addict, and he knew it. He was an addict and he didn't really care.
And he knew he couldn't stop seeking, didn't want to stop seeking, would never stop seeking what he needed to make the ache go away. He wouldn't stop until Sabastian Shaw was dead.
Erik Lensherr was an addict. He knew what addiction looked like, felt like, sounded like.
He knew that somehow, somewhere, Charles Xavier had become addicted to a world that only the telepath himself could experience.
What he didn't know was why that fact terrified him so very much.
All he knew was that every time he watched the other young man slip away across the grass and into the rounded structure that housed Cerebro, some part of him shuddered and his stomach clenched in fear. No one else had noticed, not even Raven, but Charles was slowly slipping away and being replaced by someone else.
"What? Oh. Erik. You startled me."
"What are you doing out here?"
"I... I was just getting some fresh air."
"Out by the dome? This is a big place, couldn't you have found somewhere else to take a walk?"
"Well I... I had thought about using Cerebro for a bit. To locate more mutants that we may want to contact."
"Don't you think you should take it easy with that thing? This isn't something you know much about yet, Charles. It could be dangerous if you abuse it by overusing it. What if you get lost in it, Charles? What if you go so far that we can't get you back?"
"I thank you for your concern, Erik, but I'm fine. I know my limits."
"Do you, Charles?"
Charles hadn't answered him, instead just giving him a hard stare that was completely uncharacteristic before walking past Erik and slipping into the domed building behind him.
But Erik's fears had been proven right when the very next day Charles collapsed, clutching his head and gasping for breath as he couldn't get the voices and images and thoughts to stop rushing. He'd been fine eventually, just needing rest and a decent meal (because at some point his trips into the realm of thought and feeling had replaced the time spent doing important things like eating dinner or sleeping at night). Hank had said that it was safe for him to use Cerebro again, so long as someone was with him to observe and shut down the process manually if necessary. So long as someone was there to keep Charles grounded and to pull him back before he went too far.
So Charles's trips with Cerebro stopped. He only used the machine when it was time to locate another mutant for them to recruit and there was always someone - usually Erik - there with him to keep him on task and from slipping too far in.
But one night the urges become too strong, the burning need so painful that Charles decides to take the risk because he just needs it to stop. He slips out of the facility and through the shadows towards the one thing that will make the aching longing go away.
And this is where Erik finds him, eyes closed and his face awash with euphoria. And he doesn't see the terrified look in the other man's eyes as he rushes across the small space, calling his name.
He doesn't feel the other man's hands as they fall on his shoulders, shaking him and demanding, begging that he stop. That he come back.
And he doesn't want to come back.
"Charles, damn you, snap out of it!"
Because he's free here. He can see and feel everything! And it makes him feel more alive than he did even in the real world.
In fact, he thinks he should stay here, in this world of thoughts and dreams where he's connected to so many, where he never has to worry about his next "fix" because he'll be living it every day for the rest of time. Yes, he should stay. All he has to do is slip a little deeper, move a little farther away and...
"No! Nononono! Charles!"
But there's that voice that keeps him stationary, that keeps him from moving forward and instead is calling him back. It's the voice that reminds him that he can't stay, that there are people who are counting on him.
"Come back, Charles. Come on. Come back."
And he does, because he has to. And as he sinks to the floor with his head spinning and two strong hands resting on his shoulders to steady him, he's glad that he didn't slip away.
"Dammit, Charles, what were you thinking!" Erik demanded, shaking the other man by the shoulders again roughly yet still somehow being gentle at the same time.
Charles just shook his head helplessly. "I wasn't."
Erik shakes his head then, meeting the other man's gaze firmly. "Never again, Charles. Don't ever do this to me again."
"Never again, Erik. I promise. Never again."
Charles Xavier knows all about addiction. He will struggle with it for years, every time he uses Cerebro the temptation to stay will pull at him, and after a while Erik won't be there anymore to pull him right back.
But he'll fight it anyway. Sometimes alone, sometimes with help. But alone or aided, he'll fight the urge, the need, the addiction.
And, in the end, Charles will win.
A/N/2: Please review! :)