Charles is always there.
At every mission the Brotherhood went on, the X-Men will be there to intersect.
And Charles will always be there.
Dignified. With his head held high, sharp suit on compact body, blue eyes piercing, hands folded in his lap, situated on his wheelchair.
Erik swallows and turns away.
His eyes will always be searching, just like Erik would.
Searching for him, seeking for each other.
Erik walks out of the tunnel, Emma and Azazeal flanking his sides.
His pace stutters.
Charles is there, a distance away, facing him. Alone.
The buildings in his background blaze hotly, destroyed by Pyro’s licking flames casts a reddish hue, lighting up and casting shadows on Charles silhouette along with his sturdily crafted silver wheelchair.
Pale skin tinged red by the fire, eyes an undecipherable stare.
He’s heartbreakingly beautiful and powerful.
Erik swallows and turns his head to the side, eyes down casted, hoping his helmet covers his yearning, frustration and guilt.
He only vaguely senses Emma and Azazeal exchanging looks.
He wonders where the other X-Men are. Probably rescuing the scientists the Brotherhood tied up and gagged before setting the compound on fire.
“They are just following orders”
Erik shut his eyes tight, forcing the memories out of his mind.
“Stand back. Don’t come close until I ask you to.” He turns and regards Emma and Azazeal.
He sense Emma sighing and Azazeal giving an understandable gaze and a lazy nod.
He turns his focus on Charles-who is still calmly surveying them- or maybe his focus never left.
Hot air from the violent orange flames caresses his cold cheeks as he starts towards Charles.
This is the first time they will be speaking alone, without their fellow members around throwing weights and baring their teeth.
He prepares a vicious one liner once he and Charles are of appropriate hearing distance.
He stops a short distance away, using the wheelchair as a gauge and looks up at Charles’ face.
Charles is staring right back at him, imploring. And in that instance, once their eyes met, Charles composed face cracks, his jaw loosens. His blue eyes burns up with passion and emotions brighter than the raging fire behind them.
Erik’s lips opens and stops short. The words won’t come.
His façade gradually sears away. Utterly helpless as his carefully constructed blocks of control crumble away. His back unconsciously tenses up, trying to hold back, fingers clenched.
Erik isn’t willing to decipher the emotions right now. He can’t.
This was not part of the plan. This was not supposed to happen.
He notes Charles’ glowing pale skin contrasts starkly against the orange exterior of the fire, his windswept hair framing his face, the delicate angle of his pale cheekbones, with his blue eyes and soft red lips; a blooming shock of colour against the dark sky and fiery background.
He looks achingly vulnerable yet so powerful.
Erik is on his knees even before he realizes, a ragged sob straining from his throat. His magenta cape bellowing behind him ruffles to a stop, resting on the ground.
Eyes focusing on Charles wheelchair instead. Another shot to the heart.
Being in such close distance from Charles. He seems so close. Too close. Too real.
Their sudden close proximity seems to burn Erik’s body. Inside and out.
It hurts. So badly it scorches.
Slamming his left fist on the hot rough dusty ground, and his right hand clenched tight and shaking violently, thumping hardly on his chest, right where his aching heart is beating. He whips his head to the sky, straining to get his emotions under check, but so close to Charles the carefully made up mask never stays for long.
The skin on his left palm blisters.
Two warm hands frame his jaw on either side. Instinctively, he holds on to Charles wrists. Feeling the delicate green veins pulsing under his fingers. Like so many times before. And turns his wrecked face towards Charles.
Open expression, bared heart.
His helmet still stays on, heavy and burdened. Why should he give Charles access to his mind when he already has Erik’s heart? Irrevocably.
Dust and debris from the ruin buildings stir around them.
It is then during that moment that he fully realizes and acknowledges the revelation: That he will never stop loving Charles and he will never quit fighting for his version of peace.
And he knows. He knows he can never have both.
A bereft self deprecating laugh tumbles out of Erik.
They can never be together without compromising their passionately fought ideals.
“Why! Charles. WHY ARE YOU HERE!” His voice breaks, echoes faintly and flats out among the destruction the Brotherhood has left in its wake.
Buildings are collapsing around them; fire devours the grounds, crackling wood and metal. If you listen hard enough, you’ll hear Bobby trying to put out the fire. Black smoke rises, infiltrating the dark sky like masses of clouds. There’s a blinding flash of lightning and rain pours. Storm then.
I will never give up on you.”
Desperation spikes. Erik grabs Charles head towards his own and crushes his lips against Charles’s. Feeling those flushed full lips on his. He needs Charles to stop talking and at the same time he yearns to hear more of his voice. The voice that has been haunting his guilt ridden dreams.
He feels the rain running down Charles face though his own face is still sheltered under his helmet.
Stark naked face, emotions bare.
Charles pulls back fiercely and whispers firmly on his lips.
“I love you Erik and I will wait. I will wait and continue to stop you at every conquest. Till you quench your blinded hatred. Maybe you won’t. Maybe you will.
But I will always be there. To stop or to receive you.”
“No Charles No. Don’t. I-” Erik stutters and forces words that he never meant but didn’t have the heart to take it back. He bit his tongue, tasting blood. The copper taste of defeat.
“I don’t deserve yo-“his words were cut off by a bruising kiss from Charles, the fingers framing his jaw tighten and move to caress his warming cheekbones, the angle of his jaw line.
Tender and heartbreaking.
“Don’t you ever say that Erik. I will wait. For as long as this takes. I will.” Charles soft lilt gracefully broken but strong with fervor, aching and defiant. His finger tips pressing and stroking Erik’s closed trembling eyelids, his arching brow.
Straining to lean closer to those pale, familiar fingers, Erik remembers a time when he was touching Charles like this, on the last day they were together.
The day before Cuba.
When somehow, they had both known, deep down, that it would come to this.
Far away the siren wails. They have to go now. It seems like a call to an end, once again.
He draws back and notes that the rest of the X-Men are heading back, the compound is a lost cause. The rain has slowed to a drizzle. Smoke like dark current swirl skywards.
He fixes his eyes on Charles. He never wants this moment to end.
He doesn’t want Charles to know how far gone he is. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
With a flick of his fingers, he summons Azazeal.
His eyes never leave Charles’s. Blue eyes still bright with conviction against lightly glowed pale skin.
His fingers gradually slipping away from Erik’s face.
In a tense helpless moment, Erik grabs those warm rough hands, and presses his lips to Charles knuckles.
He sucks in a ragged breath, lips brushing the tender skin and whispers against those hands.
“I love you.
Azazeal’s hands rest on Erik shoulders lightly. He lets go, feeling Charles fingers slip through his now loosening grasp.
Small pits of fire scattered across the barren and destroyed land. The smell of charred buildings and sulphur lingers.
Leaving behind a dash of warm tears that escaped, taking refuge on Charles’ now empty fingers and the whispered, longing remains of his words.