A/N: Goodness me… The day is finally here. This story is coming to an end. (wipes eyes) BUT, before going there…
THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart, for those amazing reviews! You guys seriously outdid yourselves this time. (beams, and HUGS) I really hope that this final chapter is everything you wanted it to be.
I'm REALLY nervous about final chapters, so I'll just get going before I'll chicken out. (gulps) 'Hope you'll enjoy the ride!
Six months later
Jacob Reynold's eyes couldn't be read as he stood in the Xavier mansion, staring at a unfinished game of chess. After a little over six months dust had already gathered on it. It was the pretty much only reminder that time moved on in this house as well.
He didn't bother to look over his shoulder upon hearing steps. There was only one person who knew where he was. He also recognized the scent of perfume. "Thinking about him again?" a very alluring woman's voice suggested.
Jacob took a deep breath, unable to tear his eyes away from the chess pieces. Unable to chase away the feeling that he was missing something. "I know that he's dead. That… terrorist group of his has disappeared. But I just… I can't believe that it's over."
He could actually feel a sharp chill in the air as the woman stood beside him. "This madness has already cost you a career, Jacob. Your position as an agent. Don't let this cost you your sanity as well."
Jacob's eyes narrowed. His mind refused to let go. "Those lies he showed me… They keep spinning inside my head, all the time. Taunting me. Haunting me." Those flashes of peace… Illusions of humans and mutants side by side… That utopia… Charles had poisoned his mind so badly that he couldn't even trust it anymore. Didn't know what to believe in anymore. He had no idea of how to let it go.
The woman beside him sighed, running a hand through her long, reddish brown hair. Her dark eyes were thoughtful. "It overwhelmed you enough to leave you into a coma for three days. When you were first brought into my care I wasn't sure if you'd ever let yourself overcome it." She gave him a swift sideways glance. "Those things he showed you… Are you really sure that they could never be reality? That there can never be a world of peace for your children?"
Jacob nodded but it didn't come without hesitation. Another thing Charles had stolen from him. "Don't let them fool you, Isabella. Their peace is nothing but a lie."
The woman – Isabella – sighed. It took a moment before she spoke. "When is this going to end?"
Jacob's eyes flashed. The answer came to him easily. "When every single one of them has been destroyed." Finally managing to convince himself into doing so he turned away from the chess set, beginning to walk away. "Now let's go. We've already spent too long here." In the middle of Charles' legacy. In a house full of ghosts and shadows.
When he walked away Jacob already knew, with disheartening certainty, that he'd be back. Just like he was back every single week, this place calling out to him like a magnet. Maybe one day he'd find what he was looking for.
While Jacob walked away Isabella Grey stayed behind. This time it was her turn to stare at the chess set, tears filling her eyes. It took all she had not to let the anguish twirling inside of her from exploding.
Once upon a time she caught a glimpse of Charles Xavier's dreams. That hope was a beacon of light in a world where her kind were pestered shamelessly. The thought that one day her children might be able to live in a better world… "It won't be just a shadow", she whispered. "I'll make sure of that."
Suddenly the chess pieces were moving. Isabella gritted her teeth, shivering slightly. She decided to walk away before all control would be lost.
The game of chess was left unfinished.
Miles and miles away from her in another massive mansion, in the middle of the most beautiful countryside, a pair of blue eyes opened. A sigh escaped through slightly dry lips while stiff shoulders eased. Two fingers were lowered from a pale forehead.
He had to die in order to make it happen. But they were safe. His family was safe.
The room's door opened and not quite subtle steps approached. For obvious reasons he didn't need to turn around to see who the arrival was. Instead he closed his eyes and hummed appreciatively when a kiss was planted to his hair. "I thought you were sleeping", he murmured.
Erik chuckled. "The bed was lonely. Besides, peanut missed his papa."
Charles' instincts reacted instantly. He peered over his shoulder and didn't even try to stop the smile that appeared to his lips when he saw the baby in Erik's arms. Their perfect, healthy son who seemed to have inherited his eyes. Immediately after meeting his gaze the baby whimpered, tiny arms flailing. "Hey, there. Now why are you crying? Papa's right here." With utmost care and gentleness he took the baby, giving him a tiny kiss to the forehead. In an instant the baby boy stopped crying, instead sighed, reaching out towards him. His eyes even warmer than usual Charles offered his finger. The little one grabbed instantly. "Oh dear… You're going to just as much of a handful as your daddy, aren't you?"
"Oh, you think I'm a handful?" Erik scoffed. "You've nearly given me two heart attacks." The words didn't sound quite as light as they were supposed to.
Sighing, Charles brushed the metal bender's mind with his own but didn't go any further, not wanting to intrude. Even after Shaw, the bullet, and the latest disaster six months earlier they were both still hanging on. Maybe one day Erik would stop feeling so very scared. Charles leaned close to the arms that wrapped around him all of a sudden.
He had to admit that at times he, too, was still struggling with what happened during his time in that hellish place. The nightmares and flashbacks came without a warning. (Once he had to interrupt a training session with Hank when a particularly nasty memory sneaked up on him.) There were new scars on his body and especially the carved 'X' itched like crazy sometimes. They were eternal marks that'd never, ever allow him to forget. Charles wondered, with a great deal of worry and unease, if his faith in humans would ever be the same it was before.
But Charles had never let the past hold him back and he wasn't about to start now. He had a family to look after and a school he hoped to open someday soon. And he had his beloved son Dawid ('beloved', exactly what the little one's name stood for). That was quite close enough to perfection for him.
Dawid emitted a sound of delight, a tiny pair of arms flailing, before settling in his papa's arms once more. If that wasn't a sign of agreement Charles didn't know what was.
Charles hummed softly, readjusting his son in his arms, and looked through the window towards the blue sky. To think how close he'd come to leaving this all behind, once. For a moment he actually had.
/ Charles had sometimes wondered what death felt like. It had fascinated him a little more than was necessarily healthy since he was just a boy. What he faced that day certainly wasn't anything like he'd imagined.
It didn't hurt. Didn't… feel like anything, really. There were no human emotions where he was. He was falling and floating all at once, in a endless grey hue. And then he took a look at his body. He blinked, as far as it was possible where he was.
His body – and his mind as well, quite possibly… He was falling apart to tiny particles that shone as brightly as stars. Those tiny bits of him scattered everywhere, impossibly bright beacons of light through all the grey. All his love. His hopes and dreams. The future he'd always envisioned, the one he'd fought for until the very end. They spread everywhere in those tiny stars, landing who knows where.
It was… beautiful. Inexplainable. All Charles could do was stare in a silent marvel.
Before the process could ever be finished, though, he heard a unfamiliar female voice. 'This isn't your time, Charles. Not yet.' The voice was soothing. Wrapped around Charles like a warm blanket. 'Follow me. Let me take you home.'
Charles closed his eyes, then gasped, feeling he'd been suffocating. Like his lungs had only just been learning how to function. His eyes flew open easily.
He was in a room he'd never seen before, most likely in Erik's hideout. And he certainly wasn't alone. All his students and Moira were there. (Why… did Hank look human? He'd have to ask about it later.) Erik was holding him in his arms so tightly that suddenly Charles understood why it'd been difficult to breathe. There, in a far corner, stood a latino woman with dark eyes and long, wavy hair, looking at him with a mixture of relief and hesitation. Gabriella, came to Charles without invitation. 'You…' Somehow telepathy was easier than speech. Charles blinked twice. 'You brought me back, from the dead.'
Gabriella nodded. 'It's my power. But it was a close call. Another moment or two and you would've been out of my reach.'
Charles shivered, then found himself smiling. 'Thank you.' With his head clearing slightly he focused on his friends – family. There wasn't a single dry eye or a coherent mind. He would've desperately wanted to ease their worries but even breathing was still a struggle. "Erik… A little air…", was what he managed eventually.
Those words, or perhaps the sound of his voice, were what it took to break the tension. Before he realized what was happening Erik closed him into a searing kiss that seemed to last a lifetime. When it eventually ended the metal bender held on to him as though never, ever planning on letting go. Charles didn't need his gift to know what was going through the man's head.
Raven, on the other hand, sobbed, her tear filled amber eyes narrowing. "I swear to god, Charles. If you ever do anything like that again I'll haunt you down and kick your ass."
Charles just had to smile at that. At the way he could feel them all. He was finally home, even though this place was anything but. "It's over", he murmured. "It's finally over."
Sean swallowed and breathed as though not having done so for ages. "All that… stuff you sent out… We felt them, professor."
Erik nodded in confirmation, still looking rather shaken. "I think that a lot of mutants did, all over the world. Your reach was pretty impressive."
That was when Charles felt it, even without the aid of Cerebro. Those tentative, scared minds, reaching out… Sparkling with a hint of that hope a glimpse of his dreams, of one possibility, had given them. Looking for a home.
Charles chuckled, his chest filling with warmth and joy despite the horrors he'd just been through. There was only one thing that came to his mind in that surreal situation. "Groovy." /
Little did Charles know, that Erik was lingering on that very same memory. The metal bender shivered slightly and kissed Charles' hair. His eyes were thoughtful.
For a very long time Erik walked in what can only be called hell. All alone. Consumed by hatred and rage. His only target being to destroy, whatever the cost. That was until Charles pulled him out of the dark, in more ways than one.
Twice, now, he'd almost lost the telepath. Yet here they were, all three of them. He and his family. His whole world. His home.
If someone had told him a year ago that he'd get all this…
Erik sighed, taking a even tighter hold of Charles.
Sure, they fought. A lot and loudly. (Granted, they made up just as vigorously.) But what they'd been through had changed them. Slowly yet surely they were finding some sort of a compromise. Their very own point between rage and serenity. In their hearts, though, they both knew that one day the remote peace they had might be disturbed if the impending war would reach them once more. The threat was always there, almost close enough to be touched. Any wrong move from either party would cause an explosion.
"You worry too much", Charles pointed out. Those blue eyes locked with his, seeing everything even without powers.
Erik snorted. "And you don't? You don't get to hold the weight of the world on your shoulders all alone anymore."
For a moment Charles stared. Then smiled. And pulled him very roughly to a kiss that left no room for doubts.
Screw the rest of the world, they decided together. For a little while, at least.
Downstairs Hank arched an eyebrow when he entered the room he shared with Raven, carrying two steaming mugs. The blue skinned mutant, still undressed, had a wince on her face while she sat on their bed. "So you felt it, too?"
Raven growled, loudly. "The whole fucking town probably did. If he didn't look so damn happy every time this happens I swear I'd strangle him." She eyed greedily towards the mugs. "I really hope that those are spiked."
Hank shivered slightly, then shook his head. "Nu-uh. No way. We both know Charles' opinion." Quite frankly, he much rather faced a irritated girlfriend than a disappointed Charles. Charles and he were still struggling to come to terms with the fact that he was sharing a bed with the professor's little sister.
However, truth to be told, his relationship wasn't the only reason to his carefulness. Despite the half a year of waiting he was still completely human. And although he knew that Charles would never, ever throw him out he couldn't help feeling a little bit like an outsider amongst all the mutants. Like he wasn't as much a part of this bizarre family anymore. In some bitter way it was amusing that after all the years he'd spent on finding a cure for his abilities now facing the world without them felt absolutely terrifying. These days he found it extremely hard to determine who and what he was anymore. He'd never say any of that aloud, of course.
Raven scoffed and rolled her eyes but took the mug nonetheless. "It's really impolite to disappear on me like that, you know? Just relax for once. Don't disappear into that amazing head of yours." She then smiled sweetly, sincerely. "You're lucky that I love you."
Hank grinned and gave her a spontaneous kiss. There was already a taste of coffee on her lips. The fear… A little bit of it was gone, at least for a while. "Trust me, I know."
Later Charles had just reached downstairs of the mansion when he shivered.
Immediately Erik gave him a worried look, even took a subconscious step closer. The metal bender's eyes sharpened as the man tensed up. "What is it?"
As endearing as Charles found the concern he didn't manage to smile, still too shaken. "I assure you, Erik. I'm fine. I just…" He swallowed thickly, feeling a little bit sick to his stomach. "I was just broadcasted – quite loudly, might I add – things that I'd never want to know about my sister's sex life."
Erik paled and, bless his soul, didn't ask.
In fact, it looked like Charles was actually feeling sick to his stomach. Again. The wave of nausea was strong enough to make him gag dryly.
He could feel Erik's suspicious, worried eyes on him as he wheeled his way towards the bathroom. "Honestly, Charles? Bad enough to make you want to throw up?"
Charles' eyes narrowed, a very uncharacteristic bout of irritation taking over. Couldn't the questions wait until later? "No, she isn't making me nauseous", he muttered under his breath. "But your daughter is."
Charles didn't realize how loud he'd been until he felt the wave of shock, disbelief, startle and – eventually, breaking its way through like a slowly rising dawn – excitement radiating from Erik. It took at least twenty seconds before the single word slipped through. "What?"
Charles swallowed thickly. Oh crap… This was not the way he'd wanted to tell…
The further discussion was forced to wait for a moment. Because just then Alex barged in, eyes wide and out of his breath. "You… You've gotta come and see this…!"
The two men exchanged a look before following Alex, out of the mansion and to the porch. What they found made both of them freeze completely.
There, approaching the mansion, were five mutants. Two of them in their teenage years, one young woman who could barely be called an adult and two little children, one of them a mere baby. Desperate. Exhausted. Their eyes full of hope.
(The young woman was bound to become the mother of one Scott Summers and one Alex Summers Jr. But that's a story for some other time.)
While the others stopped the young woman – who, although painfully thin, appeared quite beautiful with her long, black hair and scarlet eyes – took a step forward, as though shielding the others with her body. "We… We heard your call, months ago." Her accent was thick but neither Charles or Erik managed to place it. "Is it true? Are… Are we safe here?"
Very slowly Charles and Erik looked at each other. For a moment dumbfounded. Then very slowly, they joined hands.
Now take a look at that, Charles, Erik broadcasted. Softly. Tenderly. In a way he could've never spoken out loud. Your school is becoming reality. Your dream's coming true.
Charles' eyes were on him for a little bit longer, before they focused on the young mutants. Yes. They are.
They smiled, bracing themselves for the storm in the horizon. Because here, with their hands joined and their expanding family gathering around them, they'd take on anything.
"Welcome home", Charles greeted the arrivals.
A/N: Oh… my gosh! I seriously can't believe that this story is over, now. (sobs) You can't even imagine how much I enjoyed writing this. I really hoped that you've enjoyed the ride even half as much.
Thank you, so much, for all the reviews and listings! You guys have been a great audience. (GLOMPS) I really hope that I'll see ya again one day.
Once again, thank you! Take care!
AND HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
sjl: That was quite emotional, wasn't it? Let's hope that everything works out for those two. (sighs) No worries, the final chapter is almost here! I really hope that it turns out worth the wait.
Colossal thank yous for the review! Until next time, I hope.
None: I'm REALLY glad to hear that you enjoyed it so although the last chapter ended to a pretty torturous spot. (grins sheepishly) I truly hope that the last chapter is everything you've been wishing.
Massive thank yous for the review!