A Promise of Sunshine
Written by Loverly Souris
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Dedicated to Szilvi-san (raindaizy), who requested this X-Men fanfiction, for her support, kindness and persistence.
Also special thanks to Maru-chan for her sweet ideas and persistence. :)
Having friends like you can brighten any rainy day.
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It started raining on the day when Charles was released from the hospital, and it didn't stop ever since then.
Not even for a minute. It had been raining for five days now and the clouds didn't seem to have the intention of leaving yet. It wasn't that Charles hated this weather. No, he always liked the rain, fascinated by the way the crystalline drops cleaned everything, dressing the world into a shimmering coat. He also loved the smell of the wet soil and the fragrance of the various flowers in the garden after a heavy shower. The dark sky reminded him of the times he had spent in England. The university, the all-night-long study sessions, the pints of ale in the nearby pub, the girls with whom he had flirted. When he could still walk on his own two feet.
Suddenly, it felt like the moist air would wrap around him and suffocate him.
Charles closed his eyes trying to force the bitterness away from his mind, but a hole in his heart didn't let him. The void had been there since the events on the shore – no, maybe even before that. He didn't know exactly, but seriously, he didn't care. He felt it now.
"No. I mean it."
"My friend, once you go away, you will never come back. You will disappear like the sunshine on a rainy day."
"There is sunshine above the clouds. It's just not strong enough to break through."
"And when will it be strong enough?"
Charles almost laughed at the irony and he opened his eyes to look outside at the garden basking in the twilit rain. No movements, except for the soft swaying of the leaves under the weight of the drops.
He had always known this would happen – this was why he had no idea how it could hurt so much.
Maybe although you knew the truth, you were still hoping it would happen otherwise, a small voice in the back of his head answered and Charles sighed. Seriously, it was his optimism that would drive the very first nail into his coffin one day. It did nothing but causing him trouble and pain.
Feeling the usual headache that started when he was thinking too much, he decided to hit the sack. He didn't have any reason to stay awake anyway – no chess by the fire, no whiskey, no pleasant conversation, just empty, meaningless evenings followed by lonely nights. Charles groaned in frustration, ready to shut down all his brain functions in order to keep every single thought from leading directly to him. Unfortunately, his extraordinary mind had the habit of working against him.
He was about to wheel himself to the bed earnestly contemplating the option of knocking himself out into a coma, when something stopped him. Or rather someone.
An unexpected visitor.
At first, Charles couldn't even tell that another person came into the room. He didn't hear the door open and failed to catch any presence, any stray thought or feeling.
But as soon as Erik removed the helmet from his head, the emptiness in Charles' heart was filled with a mixture of different emotions – happiness, rage, relief, betrayal, fear, worry and affection. He could barely overcome the chaos that crashed down onto him. It was so sudden, he couldn't decide whether he was going to burst out laughing or start crying like a child.
No matter how hard he tried, Charles couldn't stay motionless – he had to move to hide the shiver that shook his body at the sound of Erik's voice coming from behind him, so he ran his hands through his hair still facing the window. He didn't say or think anything. He didn't even try to read the other man.
However, it wasn't like Charles to maintain a silent demeanour for a long time.
"Guess what, I am starting to get bald," he cut in nonchalantly, cursing himself inwardly for being so weak. "Hank says it is because of my abilities. He is glad, it is easier to use the new Cerebro this way, but I cannot say that I am bursting with joy." He even allowed himself a small, bitter chuckle, all to hide the war raging inside him. You are so pathetic. That little voice again.
At this quiet, remorseful prayer that Erik sent into his mind, Charles finally turned to look at him, his sparkling blue eyes mirroring his heart full of feelings. The easiness from his voice disappeared. "To be entirely honest, I have never thought that I would see you again, my friend."
Each of his words carried an enormous power and this didn't help Erik at all. He stood there, crestfallen, gripping his helmet so tightly that his knuckles went white. Charles didn't need telepathy to see how he felt – downright shocked at the sight of the wheelchair and full of guilt because he was the reason of this severe injury.
Erik deserved it, so Charles should be glad, happy that seeing him in a state like this had such a negative impact on him.
He hated the pure horror reflected in Erik's eyes as he walked over to him and touched the metal armrest of the wheelchair. "How… why…?" the man asked, still at loss for words. It was an unnecessary question, yet Charles answered.
"After my operation, I asked the doctors to be straight-forward. No use of beating around the bush when it comes to a mind reader, right? They said that I would probably never be able to walk again."
Something collapsed in Erik. He fell down onto his knees in front of Charles and buried himself into the man's hands. "I'm so sorry," he whispered. "It's my fault."
"Yes, it is."
"I didn't mean to… I've never meant to hurt you, Charles."
Charles cupped Erik's face and lifted it from his lap so that he could look straight into the man's greyish eyes. Brushing away a tear with his thumb, he leant forward to place his forehead on the top of his head.
He couldn't say anything for a long minute, and even after he could, only a sad thought left his mind instead. "The physical pain is nothing. What hurts more is that you left me, Erik."
"Even though you knew it…"
"Even though I knew it."
It wasn't the first time that Charles' brain worked on its own. It involuntarily unearthed a buried memory from the depths, a wavering sea of flashbacks, frozen moments. Sweet like honey, and extremely painful, feeding the blazing fire in his heart.
The very first kiss, soft and hesitant. A confession weaved into the cacophony of thoughts, impulses and feelings. Three little words echoing in the mind calling a smile onto the lips.
Hastily discarded clothes. Mouth stroking exposed skin, fingers tangled in brown hair.
Two bodies pressed together. Hungry lips crashing onto each other, like waves onto the rocks by the sea. The innocence and the caution of the first steps long forgotten. Both of them burning up in the fire of passion.
Intrusion. Tight, too tight. A cry of pain, soothed by caresses, sweet words. "It'll be alright."
A reassuring smile drowning in moans and sighs.
Two souls melting into one. Movements, rumpled sheets. The smell of intimacy lingering in the air.
Faster thrusts. Height, brilliant and white-coloured, blinding bliss. Magnificent release, then ethereal peace. A soft kiss on the lips, a seal of adoration. Heartbeats slowing down. A quiet embrace in the darkness. Safe and sound.
A rushed promise made in the dizziness, still flying high. "I will never leave you."
A silent laughter. Disbelief.
As he felt Erik shuddering under his fingers, he knew that the other man relived these moments, too. For an eternity, neither of them spoke or thought anything.
If Charles hadn't been clad in some pink fog from tip to toe inside, he would have hated Erik. His headstrong behaviour was the reason of his injury, all the pain he felt emotionally and physically, he opposed him in almost everything, especially in the way they regarded humans and mutants, their personality differed to an extent that they shouldn't be able to be in the same room for five minutes without fighting… and yet.
Erik completed him like no one did. And though Charles wasn't aware of it until now, he had already forgiven him long ago.
Love is much more powerful than hatred, after all.
Finally, it was Erik who broke the silence between them, "What will happen now? To us, I mean."
Charles smiled. "You came back, so it is fine."
"You forgive me? So quickly?" There was a sign of disbelief in his voice.
As an answer, Charles placed his lips onto Erik's mouth. Softly, gently. It was a kiss he had locked in the cage of his heart, saving it only for this moment when his shattered soul became whole again. Full of his congenital happiness and the joy of seeing his love.
Erik kissed him back just as sweetly. His heart was practically blooming with blissful relief, Charles felt it so strongly that he could hardly keep himself from laughing.
Gradually, they would rebuild this together. All they had destroyed. Brick by brick.
"You know," Erik said after they parted for some air but staying close enough to feel each other's gasps on their wet lips. "As I couldn't see you every day, that was when I realized how much I missed you." Before Charles could get to be flattered, Erik added something else because, well, he was Erik. "I couldn't hear you babbling about your happy-go-lucky nonsense all day. It was horrible."
Charles gave him a nudge with his nose accompanied by an irritated groan, but then Erik grinned and all his fake annoyance was blown away. It suddenly occurred to him how badly he had longed to see this smile again, those perfect lines of teeth, his eyes overflowing with unhindered feelings… it was something Erik reserved only for him. Something special, and Charles treasured it dearly.
The grin softened and Erik leant his forehead to Charles'. "I've never thought you'd accept my apology," he sent to him.
"And, as I said, I have never thought I would see you again. I guess we were both wrong."
"What a relief."
The next kiss merely had a faint taste of the sweet cinnamon-flavoured tenderness. It was more like Erik, heavy with passion, so unrestrained that all the remains of sense evaporated and Charles was left with no other choice but to give in entirely. Not that he minded – he was more than willing.
His hands fell from Erik's face and found their way to the back of his neck. He tried to pull him closer, impossibly closer until they practically melted into one. Erik pried his lips open and eagerly slipped his tongue into his mouth starting a fiery, sensual dance while grinning mischievously into the kiss as he heard Charles whimper.
They had to break away far too early, but they united again and again while both of them were sick of not having more of the other. Between two especially delirious kiss, Erik slowly straightened up, and for a moment Charles was overwhelmed with panic that turned out to be unfounded in the end – Erik only stood to reach down to him and easily scoop him up into his arms. He held him firmly against his chest, and Charles rested his head on his shoulder, cuddling into the crook of his neck, inhaling his scent deeply.
Erik walked to the couch and sat down with Charles in his lap. He carefully set his legs into a comfortable position for him before going at his lips again, already needy even if they had only spent a few seconds apart.
As soon as he satisfied himself enough to wander away, he started to claim the rest of Charles' face by placing butterfly kisses everywhere. The corners of his mouth, his chin, his cheeks, his temple, then his eyelids, his nose, his forehead. Several little pecks.
Each of Erik's kisses made thousands of fireworks go off in Charles' brain. Sparkles travelled down in the back of his neck, burnt his lungs and he could barely breathe. His heart was about to break out of his ribcage. He could feel his stomach clench in pleasure, a wonderfully familiar sensation starting to rage and he was definitely ready to explode while Erik quickly unbuttoned his shirt and ran his hand up on his bare chest.
But then, there was nothing. The fireworks stopped above his hips, they didn't go lower.
He froze. What? God, I have forgotten…
Charles tried his best to recall what he had felt for the very first time, almost pushing the emotions to reach the rest of his body. It was in vain, and he almost cried out in frustration. Erik's hand kept caressing his chest, not noticing his lover's unexpected pause until Charles gently caught his wrist. "I am sorry," he said quietly. His eyes were stinging. "It seems I am still not used to this."
For a moment Erik glanced at him with dark, unsatisfiable hunger, then his expression softened as soon as he regained his wits and saw Charles' face. After he kissed the shimmering traces away, he looked straight into his eyes. "It's alright."
"I hate that I cannot feel anything…"
"No, it's alright," Erik repeated on a bit less husky voice, stroking his cheek reassuringly. "Everything's fine. We'll figure out something, so don't worry, Liebling."
Liebling… Hearing this sweet term of his mother tongue to make it even more caring, Charles lunged forward and kissed Erik fully, with tears still streaming down. 'Relieved' couldn't even began to describe how he felt – his heart was flying, all the remaining doubts weighing it down disappeared at once as it grew wings, soaring through the sky. "I love you," he whispered in his thoughts while still attached to the other man's lips.
"I love you, too."
The last time Charles had heard these words, they had been cloaked in an incoherent mess, far too blurry to take them seriously. For a long time he had presumed that the confession had been simply born in the heat of the moment, and it had hurt him.
However, this one was different. This one was crystal clear.
Really, is it possible to be even happier?
They were separated by the need of oxygen again, and Charles wanted so much more, but he was overcome by a sudden drowsiness and he decided to simply lay his head onto Erik's shoulder. Despite of all those days he had spent in the hospital, his body was still too easy to fatigue, so no wonder he ended up extremely weak after such an emotional roller coaster. Erik hugged him and stayed motionless except for the calm rising and falling of his chest. They sat there like this, in comfortable silence.
A peaceful eternity later, Erik asked, "Shouldn't I put you into bed?"
Charles mumbled something and Erik was left with no other choice but to gather the younger man into his arms for the second time that night and try to stand up on his numb legs.
Charles opened his eyes and chuckled. "Are you going to carry me everywhere in bridal style for the rest of my life?" he inquired a bit teasingly as Erik took him to the bed.
"Do you have any problem with that?" A retort so much like him.
"Not at all."
"Then shut up, will you?"
He grinned up at Erik who shook his head with feigned exasperation.
When they reached the bed, he put Charles down gingerly onto the sheets with his legs still dangling down on the side. Before he could react, Erik knelt down in front of him and taking his left foot he started to untie his shoe. He had already pulled his sock off and grabbed his other ankle when Charles finally fought down his astonishment and spoke, "I-I can undress myself, you know."
"No," Erik said, neither his voice, nor his eyes leaving any room for objection. "Let me." Then he lifted his bare foot to his mouth and kissed it.
It wasn't possible. How could it have been, nothing down there worked properly anymore. And yet, a tinge of sensation, really faint and obscure and maybe it was only an illusion created by his subconscious mind, but… he was sure that he felt something and he smiled with renewed hope.
Erik flooded his foot with kisses – although mixed in the immense love, he also radiated bitterness that had already seeped into his soul as he kept holding onto the unfeeling limb like a dying man into the last straw, not wanting to let it go. No matter what Charles said, the remorse reappeared, and he knew he'd never be able to heal it, to erase it, but he'd try. He grabbed Erik's shoulders and hoisted him up, capturing his lips in a chaste kiss.
After another few minutes of rejecting the world, Erik continued undressing Charles, removing his shirt and trousers. Then Charles turned away from him to search under the blanket for his nightclothes, and Erik noticed the scar on his lower back, the other visible memento of that cruel twist of fate. He reached out and caressed the rough skin.
He returned to face him with a smile and a pair of dark blue pyjamas in his hands. "Yes?"
Erik stared into his eyes before looking away. "Never mind." He took the trousers and helped the other man into them while Charles put on the shirt and buttoned it up.
He sensed questions. Loads of them actually, but of course, he wouldn't intrude Erik's mind if he didn't want to ask them – though Charles hoped that one day he would.
He lay down onto the bed with a contented sigh and let Erik tuck him in.
"Good night," he said and was about to snap his fingers to switch the lights down when Charles stopped him.
Erik looked at him expectantly, really amused by the way Charles blushed as he tried to say his request out loud without stammering. "You are n-not going to leave, are you? I mean… would you s-stay with me? Until I fall asleep?"
Erik smirked as he walked to the unoccupied side of the bed. "I thought you've already lost your childish streak, Charles – it seemed so half an hour ago, that is."
"Will you ever stop teasing me?"
He joined Charles on the bed and stroked his now tomato-red face. "Not until it makes you so adorable." And before Charles could respond anything, Erik effectively silenced him.
"You are cruel, you know that?" the younger man thought good-naturedly smiling against Erik's mouth. "Not letting me speak – but you cannot do anything against my ability."
"I have a helmet, remember?"
"Yes, but if you wear it, you will not be able to kiss me."
Charles felt the sudden realization in Erik and it was so ridiculous that he couldn't help but interrupt the kiss with a fit of laughter.
"Now am I really the cruel one?" Erik chuckled and settled onto the bed properly next to Charles who managed to calm down. He placed a last peck onto his temple, then backed away a bit to leave him enough space to be comfortable – he reached for his hand though, weaving their fingers together.
"Good night, Erik."
"Träum schön, Liebling," Erik whispered affectionately while he motioned to turn the lamp off.
Hours later, Charles noticed the warmth on his face and he opened his eyes. Morning light escaped into the room between the half-drawn curtains and he could hear the distant chirping of the birds in the garden. He let out a sigh – it had been weeks since he had slept this well. Feeling a soft breath tickling the back of his hand still in captivity, Charles turned his head and the corners of his mouth curled up in a delighted smile.
During the night, Erik must have scooted to him, because he was lying beside Charles on his side, one of his arms resting on his waist on the border of sensation and blankness. His other hand entwined with Charles' fingers was so close to his lips that they occasionally touched his skin as he was breathing. It sent pleasant shivers down on Charles' back.
"I love you."
He was so deep in the moment that it took him a long time to finally register in his mind what had woke him up in the first place and Charles reverted his attention to the window. His eyes went wide with surprise that quickly transformed into happiness. He could barely keep himself from laughing out loud.
Sunshine broke through the clouds.
Thank you for reading my first fanfiction in the X-Men fandom. :)
Please, let me know how you liked it. It would make me happy. :)