Something Beyond Imagination
AN: Something I wanted to do as my first Cherik fic. Had a different idea but someone had already done it so…yeah. This is likely considered AU for the premise but I mean well. There are slight references about religion and religious curiosity just because of the ideas that make this story but I am in no way intentionally supporting one religion or propagating it. I used a google translator for the German (I don't speak German but a friend of mine does and approved the phrase) for "Alles ist gut" which essentially means "all is good". "Er ist tot," is supposed to mean 'he is dead'.
Summary: What if Erik Lehnsherr died in the camps as a young boy? What if he was given a chance to live again? Frankly he didn't imagine becoming a guardian angel when he didn't FEEL angelic but anything would do. His charge is the young Charles Xavier who thinks he's the best illusion ever.
Chapter One: The Newest Angel
It had barely been a month since Erik's mother had been taken from him and the sting of a long, cruel needle was just the reminder he didn't need. Shaw had taken his father and his mother, and even worse had tried to become his new father. The German towered over him with his sharp cheeks and mostly-pale features turned a chalky white in the sallow glow of the experiment room. Fathers did not strap their sons down. Fathers did not HURT their sons.
The routine was something Erik didn't need to think about anymore. A blood test or two and then the task of releasing himself from the metal gurney and several buckles pinning his malnourished body in place existed as his morning. Erik wasn't sure whether to damn or embrace the fact that he was mutant. On the one hand the fact that he was mutant kept Shaw interested in him and allowed him to receive bigger portions to maintain his energy; on the other hand his inability and confusion concerning his mutanism cost him his mother. At eleven and a half Erik was smart enough, old enough, to know he'd rather starve than not understand these "extraordinary genes" that cost him his mother.
He would cry if he could. Now he barely had the energy to cry when it seemed to take all he had to throw the buckles apart. Shaw had a way of draining remorse out of his victims and only leaving hatred behind. Erik wasn't used to such intense hate and such deep-seeded feelings of sheer evil. Experiencing them alone, first hand, to such a degree was very draining in itself but it was worse because he was quickly realizing this is what the world had in store for him.
Mutants would never be accepted. And all around the world, if he ever escaped, there would be other Shaws waiting on him. Wanting to test him. Hurt him. Certain thoughts roused his ability to contort metal, like thinking of his mother or how much the tattoo hurt when they scratched the skin from his arm, and with a previously-withheld sigh Erik collapsed on the table.
Shaw clucked happily, making notes. "Very good Erik," cheered the older man, "but your stamina is poor. We will improve you, my son." He was too tired to correct the man. The first few times he did it one of the two armed soldiers slapped him with the butt of the gun. Shaw stopped that, of course, but Erik retaliated just like he did to the two in the room when Shaw shot his mother. Eventually Shaw quit mandating soldiers to accompany them because Erik was killing too many of them.
Sebastian Shaw could at least say Erik was resourceful. The metal helmets crumpled like soda cans against the soldiers heads until their brains hemorrhaged. Shaw believed Erik inherently knew Germany wouldn't change their style of dress or protective gear to avoid one mutant so he would always have a way to strike back. Each day that passed in the year of 1945 Shaw realized Germany was swiftly losing grounds and eventually the Americans would discover the camps. It was far too late for Germany to change their method of dress or war to suit one mutant when their style worked so well against the enemy.
Beads of sweat dripped down Erik's gaunt face and Shaw helped him up from the table, offering a towel. Erik wiped his face and turned to look at the uncomfortable, horrible, cold table he'd been strapped to just seconds ago. When Shaw turned his back to align his paperwork in the folder only for Erik the young boy forced the straps together so hard he was sure they'd either broken or locked together indefinitely. It was fine by him if he didn't have to get up there again. A look of surprise swept over Shaw's face and he just smiled, eyes twinkling behind his glasses as he clapped Erik on the back.
He was allowed one shower and time to properly dry off before being ordered to redress and go back to work. The sessions with Shaw left Erik very tired and he hardly had strength to lift the pick. Of course he was always grateful that's ALL he had to do because he failed to believe he had strength in his stringy form to push a wheelbarrow like some of the others had to. Not to mention the pick he worked with was made of metal and he could lift it – if there was anything to admit about Shaw's tactics was the fact that they worked, unfortunately – with his powers while the hum of metal in his veins kept him awake. They toiled away as a thin, oppressed people and Erik could only dream of getting a shower and curling into bed with the others as they struggled to stay warm during the night when temperatures dropped low.
Sometimes he thought his ability wasn't a good thing. Metal was cold, after all, and he seemed to be able to feel everything metal in his veins. Maybe he was finally going crazy, Erik concluded, but lying in bed stacked somewhere in the maze of people he really could feel the metal in the room and it felt like ice on his skin. He pulled the ratty cloth closer and wedged his thin body between the older man next to him that couldn't be older than twenty. They were all wasting away, he realized, and although he was thin he was far better off than most of them.
Three of them could probably fit under the same blanket due to the practices of the camp. Without even asking or needing to ask the men that slept to either side of him dragged their brittle limbs out to hang over him. Any warmth through contact he could get, Erik would take. Despite what he could do and what the people around him may NOT be able to do they were still family. Still suffering.
Nights like these when he was on the cusp of sleep and having his last coherent thought for the night he often thought of his mother. Was she okay now that she had passed? No longer suffering? Maybe getting her fill of food and bliss and warmth and love that she couldn't get in the camps? Did she find his father?
Erik tried to remember her as anything other than the gaunt woman with dark under-eyes on a skin-and-bones body that no longer had her gorgeous hair due to malnutrition. Sometimes that worked. Most of the time images of his mother prior to experiencing the camps would hold for a second or two before time flew forward and she deteriorated into something sad with no smile, no hair, sallow color, and clothes far too big to be hers. It was nightmarish sometimes but that was still his mother and even looking frail and sickly her smile could warm him like no blanket could. "Alles ist gut," he could still hear her say as if they'd met up for celebration outside like they had only done a handful of times.
He couldn't really believe it but it was comforting enough just to imagine her voice. How could anything be good when he was alone, suffering, starving, tired, and being tested on by a creepy old man? Erik was beginning to think he'd much rather be dead. At least then he could be with his parents. It was cold enough now to where coughing could be heard echoing at random points throughout the night; they tried to tell the soldiers about the cracks in the wood but they wouldn't listen.
Or they ignored them, rather, and Erik could feel the chill wind whistling lowly against the outside. He felt colder now than before, if such a thing was possible and noticed he couldn't feel his toes. It wasn't uncommon for those in the building to sneak toe flesh into the cuffed pajamas of their neighbor for a chance of feeling SOMETHING like heat and Erik managed to wiggle three of his five toes under the twenty-year-olds pant leg. Not that it helped much because the man was just as cold as him but Erik still liked to try. Hardly anyone moved, their bodies too tired to shiver, and Erik only hoped he'd see most of these people wake up in the morning.
Each morning the soldiers would do a sweep and remove the dead bodies, disposing of them. Erik could only hope his neighbors to either side didn't go and that he, himself, didn't go. Or maybe he did want to go. The boy was conflicted. Day by day the Americans seemed to take longer and longer to get to them.
Would it just be easier to play dead until he was finally removed? He thought so but Erik also thought Shaw wouldn't let that happen. Not when he could do what he could with metal. His blue-green eyes closed and the boy tucked his nose into the top of the blanket as he tried to sleep. Maybe tomorrow they'd all wake up and the war would be over.
It was one of the only dreams that survived here.
About six hours later he could hear rustling, groaning, and coughing. The chilly air escaped into the building and Erik knew he had to get up because such a freeze was caused by soldiers infiltrating the rows of beds. He was still so very tired, though, and didn't want to move. They probably wouldn't hit him, Erik ventured, because of what he'd done to their friends and due to direct orders of Shaw. "Er ist tot," he heard the soldier say as the metal of his helmet and gun clanked on his person.
Erik bolted up then, unable to believe what he'd heard. He forcibly peeled his nearly frozen lashes open only to realize he wasn't looking at the ceiling like he did most mornings, or at his building mates like he did other mornings. On the contrary he was looking at himself and the soldier taking his hands from the side of his neck. His head was spinning as he tried to make sense of what had happened while he watched the soldier take his body from the bed and carry the limp thing outdoors with some others that had passed during the night. Was he really dead?
Maybe God had heard him. Or maybe it was his mother because he was sure he'd heard her last night. Erik went to follow his body outside – still refusing to think that he was following his body when he should simply be in it. He was starting to think that was all some awful dream and he was fixing to get disciplined for not waking up with the others – but the gentle whisper of "Alles ist gut…" stopped him cold. It was his mother's voice, clearer than any memory could be.
He turned, aware he couldn't feel the floor once he 'touched' it and his eyes widened at the sight of his mother standing at the back wall. She was shot; he saw her collapse to the floor! Her smile was wide and peaceful like she'd truly forgotten everything she endured and though she didn't have any hair that he could see somehow Erik thought she looked healthier. "Mom?" no one turned to look at him when he spoke and Erik ignored them all as he tentatively crossed the floor, moving towards her. As he closed the distance his heart trembled, especially when his nose picked up the spices she seemed to wear from being in the kitchen all day before the huge nightmare concerning the Germans happened.
This place had taken plenty of things from her but never the smell of spices. Erik could only assume it's because he never wanted her to lose the smell and took it to heart. They were common spices mixed with a smell that was undoubtedly his mother with all of the soap, warmth, and love mixed in. "Come with me, engel." she said, offering her hand, "We have somewhere to go."
Cautiously he took it, amazed that he could feel the thin but callused fingers under his own. Her grip was strong and gentle, much like the hands that held his bruises and kissed them when he fell or the arms that rocked him to sleep when he had a nightmare in his younger year. Erik was tempted to cry, unable to believe any of this. "Where are we going?" asked the son as the camp seemed to fall away and his mother walked calmly, smoothly, as if she was just walking to sight-see. He wasn't sure what was happening, or where they were now that he couldn't see any trace of the camps.
"We are already here," she smiled. Erik was greatly puzzled. He saw no change in scenery whatsoever since the camps disappeared. His mother smiled a little larger. "This place is what you make it," his mother tried to explain, "and because you haven't seen anything it looks like nothing."
"I…I don't understand," Erik muttered, baffled. He felt his ears burn because she knew something he didn't – and he felt a little embarrassed – but the gentle pinch to his hand eased the burning.
"Imagine your father." Erik did and was stunned to see him show up not too far away. That was odd. "Now imagine a place you like. I like to imagine our old kitchen," because she liked to cook, Erik thought. His memory of their home – it wasn't large by any means and was a one-story thing – was immaculate to the very shade of the white painting the outside. His heart thundered behind his suspenders and white long-sleeved shirt.
"This place is what you make it," his mother repeated, now better understood.
"What happens here?"
"I'm not quite sure," admitted Mrs. Lehnsherr. "All I know is when I thought of you, when I wanted you here with me, I could hold you again." His eyes widened a bit.
"Is that why I could hear you?" asked Erik as he looked up at her with near childish surprise that she missed. Her son had pretty eyes, his father's eyes.
"I think so," whispered his mother though she didn't know for sure. "I would see you and be happy. All I wanted was to hold you and let you know everything was alright. Last night I did the same but you were so cold, engel, so they let me take you here." Mrs. Lehnsherr gestured around them and Erik licked his lips. He could see anything he wanted up here? Was it really that easy? Joining his father and the old house was his old bed, his favorite books, and a hot bowl of soup because he remembered being dreadfully cold only hours ago.
It was warm in his hands and Erik greedily took a spoonful. He knew it should taste like vegetables and broth but strangely it didn't taste like much of anything. It was just warm. Confused he gently lowered the spoon with his powers and looked questioningly to his mother. She smiled.
"It is all new to you and still new to me," consoled his mother. "We don't have all of our senses here because we do not need them all, or so I could gather."
"What are we here for?" Erik asked.
"To protect," answered his mother with a wide and loving smile. "He will show you someone he would like you to protect, or maybe not to protect but simply look out for because there are so many that need Him, engel." For a minute Erik was confused. Angels didn't really exist…did they? Angels seemed to be the thing his mother was describing. Then again he had heard his mother even though she'd been gone a month and he had just looked over his own body as it was carried away so maybe there was such a thing as angels and spirits.
"Do I get to see Him?" Erik whispered, wondering if he should ponder such a thing. According to the Bible no one was supposed to be able to see him. Apparently to see him was akin to being blind.
"No," his mother replied. He could only gather she hadn't seen him either. "But He doesn't need to be seen to act."
There was a moment of silence and Erik took pleasure in looking around this paradise of sorts. The longer and harder he thought the more he was able to see. Most of the people here were family members, like his mother, that he hadn't seen since the camps. Little by little the more he thought he realized previous things he'd wanted to see were disappearing and Erik felt guilty – did this paradise have a space limit? He didn't even think about his mother or what she may have wanted to see because he had been so caught up in what he still couldn't explain.
She had tried to explain it but it still seemed so…dreamy. His family talked about religion but he never would've imagined something like this. "Why is everyone disappearing?"
"He is trying to show you something…"
His family members, even the house and the bed fell away until it was just one person aside from him and his mother. Erik knew the boy wasn't someone from his family because no one in his family had clothes that fine. He was unable to tell how small the boy was – assuming from his hair that it was a boy with the short-cut curls that turned to waves in places where a curl couldn't form – because he was sitting down but imagined the blue pinstripe pajamas must be expensive. They shined like polished shoes and yet looked very delicate. Erik tentatively moved around the sitting boy to better look at him.
Briefly he wondered if his mother had done this. He also wondered if the Pajama Boy would be able to see him this way. The boy was his age, maybe a year younger, with a touch of freckles about his cheeks and nose. He had messy auburn hair that was lighter than Erik's own and it was nicely brushed for a boy who looked ready for bed. His blue eyes were hypnotizing and light like lightning had somehow struck crystal to create a special lit, captivating shade.
"I need a friend who isn't paid to keep me company," Erik heard the boy whisper to himself. He studied the hunched form harder and as he did a room full of books began to appear. It occurred to him this could be how his mother came back to the camps. The floor was completely made of wood that shined with polish and cleanliness but it was darker than the off-white walls and partially hidden with small rugs Erik didn't have a clue as to what they were made of. A book was balanced in his lap and in danger of falling closed as he turned to look out the portion of large window not covered by a curtain.
Erik could see stars amongst the inky blackness and the slightest hint of tree tops. Is that my job, what He wants? Wondered the little Lehnsherr, I have to be his friend?
"My god," the boy looked stunned and the book clattered the floor. "Did I imagine you? Have I finally tricked myself?" the surprised look and large quality his blue eyes took caused Erik to look around cautiously. Did he drift here that easily? Clearly he'd need to work at this whole…spirit business because he was sure he wouldn't be getting his body back anytime soon since that Nazi took it.
"No," Erik said slowly, afraid to approach him as he shifted his weight from foot-to-foot, "I'm real." The boy sucked in a tiny gasp and closed the book as he looked him up and down. "Well," Erik corrected himself, "as real as I can be."
"What do you mean?" asked the boy as he pushed himself to his feet and started to walk towards him. Erik would like to think the young boy would be afraid but he could assume he was simply too curious to obey that theory.
"It's a long story," mumbled Erik with a half-apologetic smile. Honestly he couldn't explain it. Didn't know how and didn't know if he'd be believed. "But…you need a friend, right?" the boy paused. He pinned Erik with those clever blue eyes and gave the smallest of nods.
This boy – whoever he was, his task, Erik imagined – didn't have it in him to be frigid. With his big ears and neatly combed hair he looked hardly harmful and the freckles sprinkled across his baby fat-plump face only added to the idea he was harmless. If anything he looked to Erik with enthusiasm, curiosity, and a long, unanswered hope of company. This room alone was large and Erik could only assume the house and its other rooms would match and just that thought alone led him to see why the boy wanted a friend. Erik had never met anyone who could afford paid help and believed that paid company wasn't a good as genuine company.
All he'd ever known was genuine company because all it had ever been was him, his mother, and father. Until the camps and until now. "Erik Lehnsherr," Erik held out his hand. He wasn't sure if the boy would be able to feel it but he had been able to feel his mother's so…it should work. Not to mention he'd been shown this little boy so Erik would like to think they would be connected.
"Charles Xavier," grinned the little boy widely. Erik was able to see his crooked teeth and couldn't help but give his own tiny smile at the sheer glee in the dimples pockmarking his face. Despite having just met him Erik knew instantly he'd prefer Charles' company to Shaw or the camps any day. "It's nice to meet you, Erik." Said Charles as he finally let go of his hand.
"It's nice to meet you too, Charles."