(A/N) Hmm, I don't know that you could rightly call this a fix-it fic, as I've essentially caused something worse to happen. I was just thinking through the end of the movie and wondering what could possibly prevent Erik from becoming Magneto so soon. Answer: not killing Shaw. Going on from there, the question is how to stop him from killing Shaw. Answer: putting Charles in danger. I'm not entirely sure where I'll go with this. I guess I just wanted to see what people thought of the idea. This is also my first X-Men story ever, so we'll see how I settle into the genre.

Disclaimer: FANFICTION! Enjoy.

The Key To My Heart

Chapter 1: Unlocked

"Erik. What a pleasant surprise."

The moment he heard the voice, Erik turned to face its source. A hidden panel in the back wall had opened upon a mirror-lined room, revealing Shaw standing over the deactivated nuclear reactor.

In the few moments before he entered the chamber, he heard Charles' voice in his head, but the moment he stepped inside and the panel slid closed behind him, the telepath was instantly cut off. He was alone with Shaw…alone with his creator at last.

"So good to see you again," Shaw said casually as the reactor withdrew into the floor. "May I ask you something? Why are you on their side? Why fight for a doomed race who will hunt us down as soon as they realize their reign is coming to an end?"

Who said I was fighting for them, was the thought in his head as he threw a punch at Shaw, which he easily caught.

"I'm sorry for what happened in the camps. I truly am," he said, his quiet tone almost sincere as a simple punch, backed by all the nuclear power he'd absorbed, threw Erik back against the mirror-lined wall. Erik didn't think much of the sound of glass shattering…until he faintly heard Charles' voice in his head again.

Erik…whatever you're doing…keep doing it. It's starting to work.

Break the mirrors, then? Sure. He could do that. The task even kept him from thinking how comforting it was to have Charles back in his mind. He was only half paying attention when Shaw started to speak again.

"But everything I did, I did for you, to unlock your power, to make you…embrace it."

When Shaw reached out a hand to help him up, Erik easily anticipated the throw, but he didn't try to resist. He allowed the full weight of his body to smash into the far wall, shattering the chamber's protective lining even further. Charles' voice came through even stronger this time.

It's working. I'm starting to see him, but I can't yet touch his mind.

Erik actually smiled at the strength of his friend's presence, despite the pain in his body. The thing blocking him was probably that ridiculous helmet Shaw was wearing. All he needed to do was get it away from him.

"You've come a long way from bending gates. I'm so proud of you," Shaw exulted, though his tone remained quiet as ever. As he slowly began to move toward him, Erik started to pull at the metal frame of the ship about them. Pipes and beams began to collapse all around and in between them. Even though Erik was still trying to destroy the mirrors, he couldn't deny the twinge of fear in his gut. It was the fear that had been ingrained into him as a child…the knowledge that Shaw's approach promised pain. He had to stop him coming any closer.

"And you're just starting to scratch the surface," Shaw said as he surveyed the twisted metal wreckage all around them. "Think of how much further we could go…together."

Seizing a beam Erik had torn free, Shaw used his own force to shove Erik back against the wall, canceling out his control of the metal.

"I don't want to hurt you, Erik," Shaw was practically crooning to him now. "I never did. I want to help you." To Erik's horror, a light seemed to come on in Shaw's eyes at that moment. "And I think I know just what to do. What did I do the first time?"

"You killed my mother," Erik hissed in his face, desperate not to let his sudden fear show. What was Shaw planning now?

"Exactly. It was love…and the loss of that love that awakened you all those years ago. Imagine how you might grow if it were to happen again."

"What…what are you talking about?" he asked, all his earlier plans completely forgotten.

"It really is sweet…little Erik Lehnsherr…you're in love with Charles Xavier, aren't you."

Erik could have sworn his heart plummeted straight out of his body in that moment. His horror and despair were made all the worse by the shock he felt from Charles through their joined minds. Of course he was hearing all of this.

"Why would you say that?" he asked. He couldn't let Shaw see how deep he'd cut him with that…had no time even to sort out his own feelings. If Shaw thought he could use Charles against him…

Shaw laughed at his flimsy denial. "Oh, Erik, I've always been able to see what you cherish. How else would I know how to take it away from you?"

Erik…he heard Charles' voice in his head, quavering…uncertain. Erik, I-

"You're wrong," he insisted, hardening his face. "Why would I…love him? Why would I love anyone? I'm not that stupid."

"But you do love him," Shaw taunted, crushing his body even more forcefully against the wall. "That's why you fight for them…you fell in love with him. Heh, Angel had her suspicions. Erik, imagine…just imagine…the warrior you would become if you were to lose him…if I were to take him from you."

"Don't," Erik pleaded, feeling like a frightened little boy again. "He's not part of this."

"But Erik, you could be our harbinger. You really could kill them all. We wouldn't even need a nuclear war. All it would take…is one death."

"NOO!" he cried, unable to conceal his emotions any longer. He lashed out at Shaw with the metal shrapnel drifting around the room, but Shaw pushed right back with his own power, burying Erik under a pile of metal debris. He felt the metal pierce his body in several places as Shaw strode out of the chamber.

Did he love Charles? He didn't know. He didn't know a damn thing about love. So much had happened recently, he'd started to wonder, but he hadn't really had a chance to sort through any of it. Whether or not it was love, Erik did know that Charles was precious to him…vital to him in some way. If he died, anything that was left of Erik Lehnsherr would die with him.

"Charles!" he shouted as he started to shove away the debris he was trapped under, knowing the telepath would hear either way. "Run! Get away! He's going to kill you, Charles! RUN!"

XxX

Charles didn't know that he'd ever felt as shocked as he did in this moment. Erik…in love with him? He'd admit he'd been starting to wonder…especially after last night…but it was another thing to hear it directly. He had promised himself he would stay out of that part of Erik's mind, but was that because he respected his privacy…or because he was afraid to know the answer?

"What is it? What's wrong?" Moira asked, noticing that he'd ceased to focus on the beached sub.

"Shaw's coming," he said quietly, making no mention of Erik. "He's coming for me…to kill me."

"Well, we…we won't let him. We'll stop him!" she insisted, trying to reassure him.

"Thank you, Moira, but I don't know if any of us can; not while his mind's shielded. Erik is down."

Moira gasped. "Is…is he-"

"He's alive," he told her, relieved that he had at least that much to be grateful for. Only…now…

"What does he want with you?" she probed.

"I'm not sure," he lied as he started to head out of the downed jet. "Maybe I'm a threat."

"Charles, please! Don't go out there. We'll protect you. We all will."

"You can't," he said as he pushed past her, his voice serene, though his insides were awash with turmoil. "Not from this."

"What's going on?" Raven asked when she saw them emerge. There was no time to explain it to her, though. Shaw emerged from the sub just then, walking slowly across the beach, as if he were a king holding court. The dogfights between his people and theirs slowly ground to a halt as he approached the jet. Raven and Moira moved to stand in front of Charles.

"I know you're there, Charles Xavier…and I know you know what I want. So come out and play, or I'll just…detonate right here," he said, snapping his fingers for emphasis and releasing a small wave of energy.

"You're going to do that anyway, though…aren't you," Charles responded solemnly as he stepped out from behind the two women.

"Perhaps not. I might be persuaded to do otherwise. Come talk with me."

Hundreds of innocent lives at stake…and his death might save them? What else could he do?

Moira tried to stop him, but Raven intervened. "He knows what he's doing," she reassured her. Charles almost wanted to laugh. If only she knew. There was no plan…none whatsoever…just save as many people as he possibly could. Interestingly enough, it was not any of those people he was thinking of as he walked toward Shaw…toward his probable demise: not Raven or Moira or any of the others, not the soldiers, not the rest of world…none of them. It was Erik. All he could think was, If I die…what will happen to him?

Once Charles had reached him, the two men just stood and stared at each other.

"So what are you waiting for?" he asked after a time.

"For little Erik to join us, of course. There wouldn't be much point to killing you if he's not here to watch. I just had to make sure he didn't come out and stop you from giving yourself up."

"Do we really have to draw this out?" Charles asked, his chest constricting in pain as he listened to Erik scream inside his head, warning, pleading, begging for some sort of response.

"I'm afraid that's the only way to do this. Riptide. Azazel," he called to his two associates, nodding in Charles' direction. The red mutant grabbed a hold of Riptide and the two of them soon reappeared beside Charles, grabbing his arms and forcing him to his knees.

Charles, please! Talk to me! Don't…don't die, damn you! I…I need you.

I'm sorry, Erik.

Charles? No! You can't just-

I'm sorry…but if giving my life can truly save a lot of people…then it's all right if I die.

That's what he told you? This isn't about them, Charles! It's about you and me. He'll kill all those humans anyway.

Not if I buy you the time you need to stop him.

"CHARLES!" Erik shouted as he burst out of the sub, stopping short at the sight he beheld: Charles on his knees before Shaw. Charles could almost swear he felt his own heart breaking at the look of horror and pain on his friend's face. Keeping his connection to Erik active, he forced himself to experience every moment of his agony.

That agony soon devolved into rage, though. Shouting as he brought his powers to bear on the sub, he ripped whole sections of it free, gathering them above his head like a legion of javelins.

"Erik, don't! Please!" Charles shouted, briefly struggling against Riptide and Azazel. The metal-kine either didn't hear or didn't care. It was much the same at this point.

"Let him go now," Erik ordered slowly.

"My, this arrangement is already working wonders for you. I wonder what might happen if I…" he suggested, raising a hand over Charles.

"Stop!" Erik screamed, letting one of his impromptu javelins fly. Only his aim was off and he struck Riptide through the chest instead of Shaw. It didn't make much of a difference either way. Shaw's blow was not fatal.

He struck Charles to the ground. With all the power behind it, the blow was roughly the equivalent of a sledgehammer strike to the head. The telepath went down with a cry of pain that cut Erik straight to the heart. He froze as Charles lay there, dazed and in pain. The others tried to step in, but Shaw didn't even have to look at them to stop them.

"One move and he dies."

Charles…

"Oh, poor Riptide," Shaw said, hardly sparing his dead associate a passing glance. "But Erik…beautifully done, and all because I hit him? What more could I pull from you?"

"I will kill you!" Erik hissed at him, his face a mask of rage.

"Erik…Erik, no…" Charles struggled to get out, practically choking on his own words. He coughed and a trickle of blood escaped his mouth. "Don't…hurt anyone else. Nobody else…has to die…"

The sight of Charles so injured and helpless drained the rage right out of the powerful mutant. His hands fell slowly to his sides and the javelins crashed to the sand.

"You know, he could be right," Shaw said thoughtfully.

"Please," Erik begged, his dignity forgotten. "Don't do this."

"What say we make a bargain?" Shaw suggested, speaking to the group at large. "You let us leave here, with Xavier, and I'll let you and your precious humans live…for the moment."

"How do we know you won't kill him?" Raven demanded.

"Haha! Erik knows better than that, don't you, Erik," he said, turning to look at his helpless creation. "The only way I'll kill him is right in front of your eyes. I've got something much more special in mind for him."

"What other choice do we have?" Beast asked.

"You don't really," Shaw said, still looking only at Erik. "The only other way this is going to go is I kill Charles Xavier here and now, then destroy both fleets. Your choice."

Erik hated it. He couldn't stand it…Charles in the clutches of this monster. But at least, this way, he would still be alive. Shaw would make good his promise not to kill him, lest it be before Erik's own eyes.

I'm sorry, Charles, he said in his mind, knowing that they were still connected.

It's…all right. I understand, the telepath thought back, his brain already becoming hazy.

You're going to suffer. Shaw is merciless. He'll hurt you to get to me…but I'll find you. No matter where he takes you, I'll find you. I promise you.

I know. I…I…believe in you. Erik…do…do you really…love me…he asked, his eyes opening one last time to look up at his friend before they shuddered closed again, his head collapsing against the sand in unconsciousness.

"Take him," Erik said, his voice nearly a whisper.

Smiling approvingly, Shaw threw a glance toward Azazel, who quickly picked up the unconscious telepath. Angel ran to join them and they moved away from the other mutants, forming their teleport line along the shore.

"I will find you!" Erik shouted at Shaw mere seconds before they vanished into thin air.

The others started to gather once they'd disappeared, but Erik didn't even look at any of them. He moved toward the shore…to the spot where Charles had vanished from his sight. He could feel the humans turning their weapons against them, but their petty fear meant less than nothing to him now. These insects weren't even worthy of destruction. He would simply show them how worthless they were…then he would go after Shaw and rescue Charles…and this time, Shaw would not escape.

He could hear the shock from the others as the missiles were launched from the fleets, but he didn't acknowledge it. What came next was practically child's play. He raised his hands and dismantled the missiles in mid-flight, smirking in satisfaction as the useless scrap fell into the ocean.

Shaw needn't have worried about his lost chance to begin a nuclear holocaust. He'd just unleashed something far worse on the world.

XxX

(A/N) So what do you think? Do you buy it? I think the title might be a bit goofy, but it also fits, so…*shrugs* Any desire for more?