Author's Note: This fanfic was written for the sole purpose of getting it out of my head (which is never a good idea, because removing one just makes more room for a half a dozen more) and it is only fair to warn all readers that it was completed in less than a week. With that in mind, I apologize in advance for any OOCness or if any of the events portrayed seem rushed. I didn't really take the time to flesh anything out, I just wrote what came to mind, so just apply a no guarantees policy and you should be right. The story is finished, and subsequent chapters will be posted as I revise them.
Warning: AUness, probable smudging of creator's intentions for characters, shameless befuddling of timelines, and other nefarious author acts. Other than that, nothing too drastic.
Summary: AU "Peace was never an option."-Because the way Cuba ended, no matter how horrific, wasn't the worst of the possible outcomes.
***Skip to here if you are bored***
Quote: "All you really need to know for the moment is that the universe is a lot more complicated than you might think, even if you start from a position of thinking it's pretty damn complicated in the first place."
― Douglas Adams
-Fall Into The Darkness-
"They're just following orders."
The words were a mistake.
He knew that the moment they left his lips, when the expression of the man beside him morphed from indecisiveness to cold immovability, the change obvious, even if half hidden behind the helmet adorning his head. Chances were he wouldn't have uttered them at all had he had the time to stop and think, had exhaustion and the buzzing in the back of his mind not so wholly clouded his judgment, his equilibrium still in tatters, mental shields barely holding in place as his own emotions churned and twisted, trying to process too much all at once. He could not remember a time before now that he had felt so wholly and utterly drained, his fatigue both physical and not, to the point where it was taking a great deal of his concentration just to remain upright.
"Tell me I'm wrong."
Erik had challenged him, forcing him to face the betrayal of those they had been trying so desperately to save, a betrayal he had been so certain would never happen. A betrayal that had, in truth, merely come as an addition to one already made.
"Not if we stop a war. Not if we can prevent Shaw. Not if we risk our lives doing so."
Their actions, it seemed, didn't matter in the long run. Their lives had been declared forfeit, but not by the men on those ships. The decision had been made, but not by them. He could sense their fear right now, even without trying to, their trepidation leeching through his battered defenses, but that was all it was. Just fear, awe in some, a hint of curiosity in others, coupled and mixed with confusion in all. The hatred Erik had predicted had not formed, however, not yet, for, despite everything, these men had been given no reason to hate them. But that could change in a matter of seconds, change with a simple flick of Erik's wrist, and Charles feared he had just wasted his sole chance to prevent it.
"I've been at the mercy of men just following orders."
No. Please, no. Icy blue eyes focused on his face, hard, unrelenting, and he was groping blindly, helpless to find the right words without being able to touch his friend's mind, to at least partially map out the emotions driving this mad act of genocide. Not like this, Erik. Not. Like. This! But his thoughts bounced back at him, his desperation never making it past the smooth surface of the helmet.
A thrust of the metal manipulator's hand was all it took, and the missiles were moving again, rocketing through the air, hastening towards their goal, ready to steal the lives of those who had set them loose in the first place.
"Erik, release them!"
The command in his voice was amplified by the panic radiating across the water with enough force he was surprised the others did not feel it, but his words went ignored, the other man not even registering he had ever spoken, intent on his mission in a way that was terrifying to behold. The missiles did not stop, the dread pulsing from Russian and American vessels alike, and, robbed of his words, of his influence over the mind, Charles resorted to the solution of physical violence he so ardently tried to avoid.
"No!" Even as he raced forward, throwing himself at Erik out of sheer desperation, he knew this was a confrontation he had no hope of winning. The man he was tackling to the ground was a trained killer, who did not rely on his powers alone to carry out the deed, whilst he himself was a scholar, lacking both the strength and the training he would have needed to come out of this tussle the victor. But he didn't need to win. If he could just distract Erik for long enough those missiles would never survive to cause the damage they threatened to. Surprise was on his side for a moment only, as his hands groped for the helmet, knowing if he could only get rid of that he might still be able to avert this calamity.
"I don't want to hurt you!" The elbow that caught him in the side of the head belied that statement, and he fell back against the sand with a stunned cry, well aware of the snarl in Erik's voice as he moved to pin Charles in place with a hand about the telepath's throat. "Don't make me!"
He felt more than saw the others move forward to intervene, heard the unbridled rage in Erik's barked command to 'Stay back!' as he raised a hand, hurling all but Raven away, out of reach, exacerbating wounds that already existed. But Charles did not have time to feel concern for any of them, his hands still fumbling for that blinding helmet, trying to gain a purchase despite the long fingers coming just short of strangling him.
"No! That's enough!" But Erik merely raised his other hand, forcing the faltering missiles back onto their unwavering course, a course that inevitably led to destruction, the decimation of all his hopes and dreams in a single instant. "Erik, stop!"
Unable to reach his original target, he moved both hands lower, thrusting against the arm holding him in place, and feeling a single moment of exhilarating triumph when Erik lost his hold. The other mutant didn't miss a beat, however, merely drawing his hand back and delivering a vicious punch that snapped Charles' head to the side and made his vision waver and warp, black spots clouding his eyesight. And then Erik was standing, rising, moving away from him to ensure the projectiles reached their goal. He sensed Moira emerging from the plane's hollow remains, willed her not to try the half formed idea in her mind, knowing she would do so anyway, and knowing, just as surely, that it wouldn't stop Erik.
He rolled onto his stomach, pushing himself up on shaking arms, hoping, more than believing, he would be able to keep his footing once he was standing. He heard the first muted shot from Moira's handgun, and a moment later saw the object whipping out of her hands and flying out of reach, Erik barely flinching in his single minded focus.
"Stop, Erik! Please…"
Staggering upright, one hand outstretched towards his friend, Charles turned, hoping enough of the missiles had detonated during his and Erik's struggle to at least save some lives, and knowing, even before his eyes were seared by the image of the roaring inferno, that that hope was groundless. The sea before him was becoming the stage for the most destructive act he had ever seen perpetrated by a single man, and he couldn't do anything but watch. Time froze. He drew in a ragged breath, felt the last of his fragile hope drain away with the tide.
And then the pain struck.
Ruthless in its intensity, boundless in its immensity, it tore its way savagely through his mind without remorse, breaking down the fragile barriers he was only barely holding in place to begin with. Forming a crescendo of wailing voices the thoughts and emotions came, belonging to hundreds, to thousands, and he was without the means to ward them off, robbed of the ability to halt the onslaught the moment it began.
The strangled cry that wormed its way free of his constricted throat was both his own and not, for, whilst a small portion of the sheer agony reverberating through both his mind and body was his, the majority of it was not, and he was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of pain. Shock. Fear. He could no more differentiate the emotions from one another than he could separate the last thoughts of the dying from his own, and he was scarcely aware of his knees folding beneath him as his hands lifted to cradle his head, hoping the physical movement could achieve what the mental will could not.
Time unfroze, but it was not moving as swiftly as before, a single moment dragged out across eternity, and, whilst it lasted, the pain stayed, clinging to his side like a shadow, and worming its way past every last defense he had. His head had been aching before this, already echoing the torment of another's mind, but the pulsing, living thing that had taken up residence in his skull now was so much worse it was a wonder he was not screaming himself hoarse. Or maybe pain had made him mute? It was an errant thought, and swiftly forgotten as another tremor wracked his body, his limbs twitching spasmodically, receptive nerves mimicking the gestures of dying men as his brain transmitted messages it had not made itself.
Someone touched him, a hand grasping his shoulder that he could barely feel, a worried, familiar face joining the blur before his eyes, but he could no more react to the sudden presence nearby than he could tune out the resonating remains of those so far away, separated in body by so much water, but close enough in mind that they may as well have been standing side by side.
Someone spoke, the concern and worry in their, her, Moira's words transmitted through the air as emotions to add to the barrage already battering against his last vestiges of control. She was scared, he recognized the fact distantly, and he thought the panicked, anxious query may have revolved around him, but his mind was still too busy trying to react to the rush of external stimuli to try taking in any words. Raven responded for him anyway, muttering something about telepaths, as if that explained everything and anything that was in doubt. And maybe it did.
He was too lost in his own distress to really know one way or another.
Ignoring, for the moment, the hands now resting on either side of his face, and the pleading voice trying to awaken a reaction from him, he let his consciousness drift, retreating back within his head, back into a realm of pain, terror, and a lingering sense of betrayal he wasn't quite yet certain should be there. What had brought him here no longer mattered, he merely needed to find a way to escape, and that meant sifting through all these emotions, the feelings that were still bombarding him, even though the source of their existence was most likely long gone, in the hopes of finding himself among the wreckage that was all that remained of others.
With his concentration focused so wholly inwards, he did not even notice when his body became limp, nor did he register the cries of alarm that arose around him when he pitched to the fore, hands reaching to catch him, but only one voice piercing through the void.