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Into The Fray

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Saturday, November 4, 1961:

 

Cerebro was finished: up, running as though it had been a well-oiled machine from moment one. The concept fully realized. Tiny bulbs of light dotted Hank McCoy's expertly manufactured control board, blinking in random patterns and emitting a faint glow that would mesmerize even the most brilliant of minds.

Charles included.

"Ready Professor?" McCoy asked, his white lab coat swaying open as he shuffled from one end of mission control to the next. Careless with his appearance, a genius to Charles' own, Hank paid mind to what mattered versus things that didn't deserve his utmost. His attire being one of those lesser of two evils.

Be that as it may.

Charles nodded contently, his mind focused on their plan of action – method of attack really. Running his fingers through thick waves of chestnut-brown hair, he clutched onto the alien-like helmet and waited for Hank's final nod of allowance. Xavier studied the thing, turning it over in his hands, taking in its remarkable details: tubes crafted out of various metals, copper running inside, dozens of white lights that would grow brighter from the power of his exceptional brain. He felt a vibrating hum as he paid reverence; waves of electric current soaring so fast through the components, Charles hadn't fully realized his appreciation for Nikola Tesla until that very moment. A genius before his time – a mutant perhaps?

In any manner, Charles wasn't waiting too long, the brief mental reverie very much welcomed. Thoughts of an insane man with ideas that inevitably changed the world? Well, Charles never felt so more out of his mind than this moment, so the telepath appreciated the distraction Tesla's memory brought forth.

"It's time, Professor," the young mutant chided, walking over and standing directly to the front of Xavier. The mild-mannered scientist grabbed the headpiece from the Englishman's unsteady hands, and Charles could do nothing but oblige him. Standing silent, deadly silent, Hank secured Cerebro's only physical part to his waiting skull.

As the saying suggests, it was now or never. Burn one bridge to snuff out the five-alarm fires on many others. Charles couldn't believe himself in this moment – couldn't foresee how he could ever go back when this was done with.

______________

It wasn't something Charles had ever, ever thought to do; even the contemplation of such a treachery against his resolute principles had wrecked havoc on his nerves. The entire week was nothing but one minute of heart-palpitating misery to the next.

All leading up to he and Hank, Cerebro and one goal. To find the man that could destroy everything. To discover an enemy before the world crumpled to its core by the dirt of this monster's feet. And upon finding this man...Charles would lose all that he was.

______________

Monday, October 30, 1961:

 

"Professor, are you positive you want to do this?" Hank stood there, black slacks, red-blue plaid button-up, his jaw nearly unhinged from his face. Aghast.

Charles' eyebrows shot skyward; scared, a released pocket of air he hadn't realized he was holding through the trembling of his red lips, escaped. "Mmhm, yes. There's simply no other way for this situation to find a peaceful resolve. I've spent the better part of two weeks deciding on whether or not to go through with the insanity that has become my thoughts, or to let events see themselves to completion. But, I ...cannot deny my hand in this deck of ugly, war-torn cards. You have nearly finished Cerebro; so finely tuned now that I am beyond merely locating mutants and seeking their participation in a battle I loathe to see realized. Don't you understand Hank? Why this is the only chance to give of myself while sparing the others a horror I know they are ill prepared for."

Hank stood there, unspeaking but with a busy mind dancing images of outcomes and mathematical equations that muddied a personal opinion. "And Erik?" McCoy suddenly probed, needing that answered before signing his innocence away. As if Charles' decision would ultimately be his own. Follow the leader.

The telepathic Professor turned around at the mention of the metal bending mutant's first name. Friend, confidant...A man with whom Charles had taken to nearly on instant. A man Charles was still taken with.

Xavier coughed, "well, we will have to just wait and see how this effects us all, Hank, not just Erik."

Hank scoffed in defiance. A spike of anger shot from on the edges of his inner thoughts. Charles sensed this immediately.

"Something of concern plaguing you about our mutual friend, Henry?" Charles dug his hands into the pockets of his onyx-colored dress pants, preparing himself for an impending argument. Hank was a good kid – a genius by all standards, but still a young man. Nevertheless, an opinion was valued to Charles, be it in his favor or otherwise. As was Hank, age be damned.

Hank bit the bottom of his lip, eyes drifting away from the present as he contrived of the future within his mind. Charles didn't intend on listening in on the man's thoughts, but given the circumstances, he disobeyed personal privacy. Things would shift soon for Xavier anyway and so now wasn't the time to play prude.

The Professor's breath caught at the visions besotting him. He saw anger, violence, and strips of red droplets, as if drawn outwards in parallel lines, like airport runways. Fallen friends and lost loved ones with twisted faces gone slack, heartbeats ceased. Tears and cries of why and how and could this be real. He saw Hank's feet, naked and unlike anything humanity has ever seen before when he chanced a look downwards. Charles felt McCoy's strength, that inside fire burning with good intentions and good will.

And then the fighting ended, melting away into a background of grey and beige. Images of blinking lights and metal came rushing forward then, like a train railing on through a nighttime fog. Distorted-like, blurry, but barreling down a track with conviction and reason. A direction, a destination that need be met.

Charles pulled back then, fully aware of the breach of space and lack of will power he had just exuded. "Forgive me, Henry. I...your mind was so loud that I-" Hank held up his hand to stop Xavier, a small grin shaping the features of his face.

"In a roundabout way, Professor, I wanted you to see that." A pause, then, "I know why you decided to do what you-what we are setting out to do, because I understand the stakes. I know how this is something you must have warred with, but know that in sacrificing your own ideals, my own will be right there as well."

Nodding, Charles felt a familiar unease slowly churning down, so deep inside of him. It wasn't right, but it needed be done.

"Yes, so let's us go to Cerebro and have her finished for this, then plan our strategy for executing." Charles didn't wait for Hank to reply.

______________

Tuesday, October 31, 1961:

 

"Halloween, Charles. You've heard of it, yes? Little holiday that pits children against one another for the sake of who is wearing the best, most elaborate costume. Or is it the parents that are pitted...?" Erik's voice drifted away, thinking on the subject matter of who's more to blame for the ghouls and goblins of America's youth. The taller man shifted in his seat, sat across a quieted Charles who was considering his next move in their nightly game of chess.

"Surprising as it may be, Erik, I've indeed heard of All Hallows Eve. I simply choose to ignore it–the holiday itself, in favor of Scotch and games played with the likes of you. Besides, that many sweets in one night is murderous on one's teeth." Charles' eyebrows pitched up a few times before returning to normal, indicting his light-hearted teasing.

Erik snorted playfully, lifting a glass full of a deep-amber liquor to edges of his lips. The ice fell against the side of the thick crystal – no doubt the best of the best for an Xavier's aged whiskey – and the sound filled the cooling air that crept in around them. Charles' study fireplace was working harder than usual to stave off the chill of winter approaching, but with little effect at current.

"Will you make a move sometime tonight, Charles? Seeing as I would like to eventually return to my room to sleep. Another day of training tomorrow...and babysitting. Tiresome, very tiresome I hope you know." Erik smiled, his teeth reflecting the bright red-orange flames that licked at the top of smoke-colored bricks.

The fire finally got going.

Charles adjusted his legs, shifting so that he found a more comfortable, suitable position in his oversized chair. He was thankful it wasn't made of leather in that moment, otherwise the residual sounds might be cause for question when moving. A tease he could sooner live without. Not that a serious man like Erik Lehnsherr would make fun of a sound – children did that – and yet, Charles couldn't be sure.

He opted to follow Erik's original thought. "Yes, I do apologize for my seemingly distracted nature this evening, my friend. Pressing matters this week, and I'm afraid my work is bleeding onto my personal time." Charles paused, looked around; sensing Chess was useless on an evening like this – during the week spent concocting plans he would sooner forget than openly face – Charles drank until he saw the base of his whiskey glass. Resigned with uncertainty, Xavier stood, walked towards the fully realized, blazing fire. His ocean-stormed eyes locked on the burning wood, lost...remorseful now.

Closing the guilty cerulean orbs, Charles felt the alcohol bleed into his veins; it traveled through his blood, taking sense and sanity from him with each beat of his heart.

"Charles?" Erik was behind him then and the telepath jumped from a sudden broken focus, ignorant to just how long he had gone missing from their conversation.

"Yes?" Xavier piped, turning around to find the taller man standing close – closer than they'd ever been. Well, aside from the night they met, though Charles counts that as what it was: a matter of life or death. Personal boundaries be damned.

Erik laughed lightly, not out of humor but from the constructed tension burgeoning between. "Are you okay, Charles? You've been absent this entire night, and during your lessons today, the students mentioned your being distracted. Is everything alright? Despite my overall disagreement with most of your illogical, and utterly passive opinions, I hope you know...that you can tell me. Anything."

So Erik was more perceptive than Charles had expected. Not that it surprised him. The man was his equal – something both men had unknowingly been searching for.

Charles listened to Erik's probing words and silently, he began to mull over hidden secrets that lay at the edge of his own conscious mind. He thought of how things would inevitably change, how moments like these would cease to exist. Emotions barraged Charles at the thought, like a biting-cold wind falling onto the stilled streets of a small western town. Unexpected and wholly unwelcome.

Not thinking, not caring, Charles moved in towards Erik slowly, abandoning purpose. Logic was forbidden in places pregnant with heavy emotion, the rules existing there only meant to be broken. His liquor-embossed red lips only inches from Erik's.

The Professor of genetics simply wouldn't give up this fleeting chance. Couldn't. Even if it meant risking everything else – the chess games, the camaraderie, the trust, their... – Charles simply held steady to the desires he so desperately, so hopelessly, found himself latching onto.

Erik, confused by the sight, moved away. Two steps but lengths apart, he ran a hair through his light brown hair, gaze falling from those blue-blue eyes to the velvety carpet of a now-rotating room.

He found his voice, "wh-what are you doing, Xavier?" The German spun on his heel achingly slow, irises now enflamed, as if burning alight by the fire's reflection. Thinking it over.

Charles said nothing. At least, not at first. Rather, the telepath focused solely on Erik's bright eyes as they bored trenches into the orange glow of the fireplace. A safety net.

Shuffling his feet, hands gripping tight the fabric inside his slacks, Charles recognized rejection – heard it scream loudly through Erik's thoughts. "Right, well I'm fully convinced it would be best to cut the evening short. As an unpredictable turn of events have lead us to an en passé, I bid you a good night, my friend."

A cough. A stalling sniffle. Crackling, popping sounds of woods engulfed the heated air surrounding them. The same smokey wafts that permeated their nostrils now, were once comforting plumes of warmth. My, how quick the truth works to changes things.

Erik heard Charles' deflated attempt at retiring into the dark, but neither had yet made an actual move to exit the room. "Charles, I ...I'm not sure what you want from me?" A question, perhaps also a statement. The metal-bending mutant was facing Xavier's left side, attention spent on how physically close, but light years apart, they were from one another at present.

He watched as Charles closed his eyes against the luminescence of the room, a burn overwhelming.

Not daring a look over at Erik, his face twisting in on itself, Charles paused to bite his lip, his head nodding solemnly.

Then, "I honestly don't know what I expected. From you, or this...whatever, pray tell, this is. I don't know where this week will find us at its end, but I do know that I needed to explore what's here-well, what I imagined was here, between you and I. I do so apologize for overstepping any boundaries, if that's indeed what I have done. It was never my intention to offend you." A long hold, perhaps waiting on Erik to speak, before, "and with that, I do believe it's time I'm left alone with my thoughts."

Erik saw the blatant irony in Charles' statement: a telepath was, nor could ever be, truly alone. Even he knew as much.

So. Seeing as it would be less than ideal for that level of solitude, and in light of Xavier's resigned speak, Erik took the opportunity to laugh-nod before, "Charles, wait-"

A hand went palm-out, the flesh visibly sweaty and bright pink. It was Charles' physical way of silencing a now confused-looking Erik. And then it wasn't long until he ended it completely.

A whisper, was what it really it was, Charles' voice dripping with sadness. "Goodnight, Erik." A turn, a shift in movement and Xavier's beige-colored sweater-vest now faced Erik's furrowed features.

Lehnsherr could do nothing but watch as Xavier relieved himself of the room; stunned into an unplanned stupor, Erik did the only thing he could and swallowed the nerves he hadn't known were there.

But that was just what Charles was to him: unplanned, unexpected.

He felt as the metallic parts of the study's door engaged one another, a smooth sense of cooled steel and calm then flooding him. A replacement to the recent unease from Charles' abrupt exit.

Erik sat himself back down, intent on finishing the last few sips of his drink before leaving for his own bedroom. His mind hummed as if charged by an unseen electric force; not only from the biology of his beating heart but from the near-kiss he illogically refused.

Refused. 'Erik you goddamn fool.' Chastising himself, he suddenly felt weighted down, as if falling into the swirling cataclysm of a maelstrom's vortex: powerless to stop the inertia from swallowing him whole.

Lips against the glass, Erik tilted it until the bottom shone clear through and through. The liquid burned hot as it fell down his throat.

This was not at all the week he'd imagined, when thinking back on its beginning now.

Erik rose up then, startled by the thought of losing something he hadn't known he wanted. Intent on absolutely nothing, unsure of everything, but ...now ready for anything, he left the study, knowing exactly the direction he was headed.

 

tbc...

Chapter Text

Tuesday, October 31, 1961 –
Wednesday, November 1, 1961

 

Charles undressed himself using little more than moonlight; like a peaceful glow, it radiated through his bedroom windows, acting as a guideline of sorts. Same end of day routine, as with most people, and one his memory played little part in. It was habitual — natures teasing game of repetition as it was ingrained on the conscious mind.

But it was rather cold by this late hour of the night. Charles hissed at the icy temperature of hardwood oak just as the skin of his now-bare feet touched down, dress socks pulled off only moments prior. The floorboards made no sound of rebuttal and so Charles' plight went unnoticed amidst the stillness of the rest of the room.

Though all of this, the telepath had hardly paid attention to; no, Charles' mind was elsewhere: on Erik.

On that awkward scene from the study as it played endlessly, a strip of film rolling over and over again – like a broken reel that went unmanaged by an operator, left to its own devices. To its own demise.

His lips – Charles' – too close to the man in question... and that man was unsure at best, repulsed at worst. Xavier couldn't decide if he felt guilty or elated when thinking of his misjudgments, and this...this was the embarrassing horror that need be worked out. The reason for this impromptu date with "alone time," as Charles had so aptly named it.

Yet that didn't quite fit either. Not for the emotions boiling the blood in his veins, nor the race of heartbeats that pounded on the drums of his ears. It was cowardice.

He decided on a more appropriate definition then – a "fearful retreat" might have been a better term for what this self-wallowing game of doubts was turning into.

To name a thing was to define it, to understand it, to face it. Fears be damned.

Though... Was he wrong for taking a chance, given the circumstances of all he and Erik had been through up to this point? And even more so, with all the challenges they would soon face in the coming days; Charles felt void of answers and the only other person knowledgable enough to assist, he had walked away from. Had walked out on.

A no was a no was a no.

'Bloody hell,' Charles said to no one, a hand running through the waves of his tousled hair. He didn't know when or even how, but Xavier found himself half dressed – pajama slacks the color of navy, much like Raven's magical skin – and standing by the edge of his mountainous bed.

Alone, the bed, him. The space was meant for comfort but Charles stared at the thing and felt how empty it was tonight. As though his efforts would have produced a different, and much better, outcome than this.

Unhappy, Charles' fingertips touched against the cooled skin of his chest; contemplating the chill rolling in from his unlit fireplace, he decided to brave the early nights of winter by fighting with layers. Surely his blankets could do the trick.

He stood there longer though, eyes lost and mesmerized by the sheen of his satin-rich sheets. A pale-blue light from the moon was cutting a line across the mattress, as if waiting to light up a man and his broken wishes.

Charles was that man tonight.

_______________

Erik made sure to extinguish the fire and so he snuffed it out before leaving the study, a destination determined by the last drop of liquor he'd consumed.

At least he had thought as much upon finishing that most pleasing glass of Charles' best Scotch.

But in the time it took to watch the final glowing embers of wood burn out, Erik's eagerness was replaced by an unfamiliar question of character. Was he about to do the right thing now, or had he done so from the beginning? Was backing off more appropriate than embracing the possibility...of what, really? Did Charles want to be his...his goddamn boyfriend?

Absurd. The word itself even more so.

Erik, finally outside of the study, had two paths laid out ahead, only the road was the same. His room was adjacent to Charles', so either way he would be near the man – only how close, Erik didn't yet know.

He walked slowly. Heavy feet pushed down atop the plush carpet that ran the length of the Estate's main hallway, a massive line through and through. A three minute walk to the opposite end would find him at routes end, only not fully as Erik realized he still hadn't resolved the conflict in his mind.

His own room or Charles'?

Erik stopped, hand reaching out to grasp the shiny brass doorknob of his bedroom. A useless move, seeing as he could open the weighted door without moving a single muscle, but the novelty of physical touch hadn't ever worn off. Erik hoped it never would.

Physical touch.

Charles had tried to kiss him – that would be touching, and very much physical, and yet Erik stood there, frozen as he thought back to close encounter. Why? Why had he stopped Charles?

His conscious mind gave no answer and Erik knew it was the best solution to an otherwise unexpected equation.

Decision made, Erik let go the handle that lead to a cold, empty room, and moved to stand before Xavier's cherrywood door. The color struck him, it's red a dulled version of Charles' lips, and without hesitating, he knocked softly.

No words, none were needed. Erik knew Charles would sense exactly who was out there, probably knew the entire time he had been standing in the hallway, with muddied thoughts storming with too many why's.

Erik heard a faint rustling, as though Charles were being jettisoned from a cocoon of weighted fabric. Silence followed until a creak in the wooden floorboards on the other side gave away Charles' position. And then the door opened, Charles' blue eyes barely visible, squinting now from the dim lights of the hallway.

"Erik?" Charles asked, with a voice deeper than normal. Lehnsherr guessed the man had fallen asleep. Erik nodded, smiled a little before, "may I come in, Charles?"

Stood there in his place mere inches from Xavier, Erik took in the sight of the man: along with that lower, raspier, sleep-laden tone, Charles was naked from the waist up. Erik didn't have proper time to admire or allow himself the pleasure of such reveries before Charles stepped out of the way, walking into the darkness. He was actually striding towards the nearest lighting fixture, knowing Erik's eyes weren't adjusted for the night.

A smaller lamp, one with golden-brown fringe that hung from it's rustic looking shade, was switched on, offering little to aid Erik in his steps. He felt the metal of the room, alive as one with a pulse might feel. A shiver traced his spine; 'so this was Charles' room,' Erik piqued, eyes taking in all that with which he could see.

The room was vast, with more than three quarters of it shrouded black in pitch darkness; both the moon and the lamp lending minuscule give from the night. Charles hadn't bothered lighting another fire, and Erik stood there puzzled, wondering why. It was nearly November – a check of his watch then – no, it was November now.

All Hallows Eve had lead them straight into All Saints Day by the stroke of midnight. Though Erik didn't know much beside the name, as it was a Catholic's day of obligation.

Charles broke the silence first.

"What is it, Erik? It is quite late." Charles mumbled his assertions, fatigue obviously plaguing him.

Turning to look at Charles, who had since wrapped an overwhelming amount of blanket atop his shoulders, Erik cleared his throat.

"Listen, about earlier... I'm-I didn't mean to–" Charles hadn't moved or spoken, but the smooth curve of his lips ushered Erik into an unwanted pause. It was a smile, sort of, and one Erik felt increasingly uncomfortable with.

The magnetic man inched closer, one boot about a foot ahead of the other. "Charles, why are you smiling like that?" Erik wouldn't go so far as to say he was offended by Charles' ...smirk, but it was unsettling. Especially after he had warred long and hard with himself to end up right here. In this gigantic, blackened bedroom.

Xavier's head dropped, a small laugh escaping those rosy-red lips. "Erik, are you here to apologize on my behalf or to, simply put, make a move? I honestly cannot decipher you on the best of days – not without breaching your trust – but now, I don't even know where to begin. I...I knew what I wanted, but clearly, it's not something of import to you. But I assure you, my friend, that is all well and good. However, I kindly ask that you, please, spare me a trip down the lane of rejection and leave. I've had enough use of that particular brand for the night."

Erik, more confused than ever, felt small tendrils of anger spiderweb outwards from his core. Like spiny fingers scratching just outside of a pained itch. 'Fight it, fight it,' Lehnsherr droned to himself, the urge to ...slap Xavier with an object made of metal rising high on his instant to-do list.

Charles saw the change before he felt it. "Erik, I didn't intend on angering you – that's the absolute last thing I'd ever wish-"

"Stop playing games with my head, Xavier. You wanted me earlier but now you don't? You left the study but...now you're asking me to leave? Charles, what the hell do you want from me?" Erik's face shone with a bright pink, even in the low light, his frustrations taking a stronghold over his emotions.

Since when he had emotions like these, well, Erik wasn't sure. Perhaps Charles had muddled with his mind more than he thought.

Charles sat easily along the edge of his grandiose mattress, the expansive comforter bundling his legs as he settled. It was unnaturally cold in the room, his plans of forging a war against winter slowing wearing thin.

A tired yawn, "Erik, perhaps I made a mistake this evening. Perhaps ...the whiskey drink wrecked a bigger bout of havoc on my mind than I suspected. Whatever the case may be, I am truly sorry for confusing you. But I am also dreadfully tired. You se-" Erik's piercing eyes hushed Charles suddenly, yet the feral approach of the taller man's steps was also wholly impressive.

But Erik descended upon Charles not in a rush of anger, not with fists flying or metallic objects manipulated to resemble weapons – none of this happened.

What did happen confounded Charles more than he had ever believed possible: for he hadn't seen this coming.

It was Erik, falling to his knees in a flash of motion, quicker than Xavier could have blinked, but he was there, on the floor at Charles' knees. Between them, really. The telepath sucked in air, not realizing he had yet to release it. The status-quo was changing.

Erik, this great magnetic mutant, was now looking less like an angered, lovesick case of rejection and more like a determined man putting his soul on the line.

The transition was remarkable, leaving Charles silent, observant. "Erik?" It was a quiet, hushed question, so very unsure of what might happen next. Charles wouldn't dare read Erik's mind; not when the bond they'd shared was already weakened enough by his study-room antics, and then the subsequent confusion. He wouldn't risk losing another part of Erik, not all in one night.

So Charles waited.

Though not for long.

The blanket was pushed aside, opened. Erik's hands, both of them steady and without hesitation, ran painstakingly slow along the tops of Charles' thighs. A sensual feeling of heat, of another's touch, of Erik's touch, lighting tiny fires as they went. Ten fingers squeezing in patterns of give and release, thumbs rubbing the inside of Charles' legs, up, down, higher and higher still they traveled. Close, so close to his groin. An ache lie there.

The pajamas were thin enough that Erik could feel Charles' hair through them; the masculinity of the situation being new to Erik, but not one he equated with fear. Not anymore.

Then Erik stopped, needed something else before exploring Charles any further. A permissive give, one telling him that all the words from Charles' mouth just then, were untrue – irrational bullshit. That he meant none of what was said.

Of course, Erik wouldn't ask these things, not aloud anyway.

So his hands found themselves stilled, fingers curved around the bones of Charles' hips. The hem of those soft cotton pants, and the heated skin beneath, nearly in his grasp.

No sounds, not from outside, nor from the solid oak floor Erik's full weight rested upon. It happened so silently, heartbeats racing faster and faster still. Charles could do nothing but wait; his eyes, now a dull gray by the minimal bedroom light, were focused on Erik's. Erik's eyes that reflected the moon, as though they were black pools of bioluminescence. Erik's eyes that appeared as though they were circling satellite's in an orbit Charles had never before known existed.

The distance closed, and Erik and Charles were there – tips of their noses touching, breath escaping as though sobs weren't too far off. An excitement palpable.

Erik's wanting orbs fell closed first, giving in to the moment, giving in to Charles, losing himself in an unforeseen event.

The first thing Erik noticed was how soft Charles' lips were. Smooth, cared for. Yet hot and wet with saliva from the tongue that was lapping at them before Erik's final submission. The second thing was the taste; as Erik delved for more still, his own tongue finding a serenity inside, he couldn't get enough of the sweet taste that greeted him. The kiss deepened, neither knowing where one began or the other ended. An exploration of uncharted territory, no plans to return to the safety of home.

And then Charles' hands twined themselves fiercely into his hair, the pulls and tugs welcomed. An urgency of the highest degree. Erik allowed himself to let go, feeling things he hadn't ever felt before, the seductive waves from Charles' mind crashing into him. Filling him. Closing those insecure holes left torn apart from his old life.

It was a unity of epic proportions that each of them had yet to fully grasp. But there was always later for that. There was always tomorrow.

Charles' mind flooded with Erik's thoughts, knowing the barrier had been murdered away by a rush of blood and want and need barraging the both of them. He felt Erik's fear dissipate as the kiss carried on longer. He felt the future open up, sensing ideals that being a part of something much bigger wasn't, after all, a bad concept. That maybe Charles had been right all along.

And then Charles remembered. Hank's heavy, bulldozing question echoed in his mind; asked only yesterday: "and Erik?" They were two of the most terminal words Charles had ever heard and knowing that, knowing what he was going to do, what he needed to do, Charles twisted his face away from Erik.

A final blow to both of their egos.

"No, no Erik. We ...we can't do this. I was wrong. I was wrong earlier to do what I did. I'm sorry, I'm truly sorry." Charles rose up from the bed, comforter and cold forgotten as he began to pace. Erik could only see the pale white skin of Charles' chest, arms and back, everything else blending in with the rest of the night.

Hands that were once on Charles' warm body were now flat against a cooling mattress, and Erik's sanity was teetering on its edge.

A burst of rage, "Fuck, Charles! What are you fucking doing to me? Why...no, you know what. You're right. You were wrong, just not in the way you think." Erik jumped up, stretching and smoothing out the crinkles of his onyx slacks. Not another syllable came from his mouth, lips swollen and undoubtedly red from the kiss he and Charles had only moments ago shared. Only moments ago ended.

A grunt emitted as Erik walked past the antique lamp Charles had turned on when he came into the room, and as he made to exit, magnetism blew the bulb. The metallic filaments inside engorged until they exploded out, shredding the shade and littering the bedside table it sat on. Erik didn't care.

Charles simply watched the destruction unfold, arms hanging lame by his sides. Erik's anger was rolling off in drones, and it was best to simply let the man be – Charles had learned as much over the past few weeks.

A pause in Erik's stomping about, before a short sentence laced thick with confusion and regret rang out: "Goodnight, Xavier."

The telepath turned away before the door slammed shut, locks engaged by the will of another's power.

Charles thought to light the fire, but decided tonight would be punishment enough for his irredeemable behavior. He'd discovered long ago not to use people as playthings, his gifts with telepathy notwithstanding.

All things considered though, Charles had done everything not for himself, but for Erik. In the end, it would ease the transition, make the facts less hurtful.

If Xavier had the will power to follow through with these most trying of games, and if Erik could come to hate him by the pure deception of it all, then Charles would have succeeded. A victory in possibly the worst, most painful of ways for the telepath, but a war he must silently wage.

And if Charles' heart broke in the process, well, it had already begun to shatter.

Chapter Text

Wednesday, November 1, 1961.

Hank was sat at the table, unfocused eyes peering absently into treebark-brown liquid, its steam rising up to meet him; a wakeful aroma. Six o'clock a.m. He rested there, yawning in spurts, only half-prepared for an early meeting with Charles – only thing: Charles had yet to show.

Six sixteen a.m. 'Peculiar,' Hank mumbled, a soft pocket of air escaping from his throat. A quieted belch. It tasted of fresh ground coffee beans, black and strong, with kick enough to start the day.

McCoy's thoughts drifted from his cup towards possible reasons as to why the Professor was uncharacteristically tardy, but they yielded no plausible results. Had Charles merely forgotten? Or perhaps he was simply running late. Mutant, human – people were certainly fallible, of that Hank was certain.

But by six thirty-three a.m. Hank was becoming more than a little anxious; he decided to stroll down to the Professors room – surely a knock could do no harm? Something felt...off.

As the young mutant stood – walking to the sink, rinsing and washing out his nondescript, charcoal-gray mug – a slight rustling came from over his left shoulder. By the kitchen's doorway.

Hank looped around, hoping to find Charles standing there – their plans of additional testing on Cerebro and rest-of-the-week daily timelines were at the forefront of their agenda today – but he instead found Erik Lehnsherr.

A handsome brute of a man, fresh from a shower, his hair was neatly combed back and thus, still damp. Hank appreciated him but wouldn't offer up an ounce of trust – couldn't see what Charles had so plainly viewed...and before the two of them had even met. It was one of those immediate connections, a cosmic chance meeting: a drowned spark lit aflame in an endless black sea – just the sort of bond Hank hoped to expand upon through the miracles of science one day. That was for later though.

Yet the mutant was still impressive to Hank, his gifts with metal quite striking. Personality notwithstanding.

"Hank."

"Erik."

It was an even exchange, not amongst friends, but neither were they enemies. Pleasant enough to leave the area void of tension or awkward silences.

With no distracting small talk at present, McCoy had an opportunity and decided to take it: "Hey, Erik. Uh...h-have you seen Charles this morning? He and I were supposed to meet at six and it's nearly seven now...and, well. I was just wondering if you knew where he might be?" Stammering, but only a little, Hank pushed the center of his eyeglasses higher up on his nose as he closed his question.

Erik's attention snapped hard over at that, head turning quicker than intended. With so curious a thing, Erik found himself inadvertently paused. Why hadn't Charles shown?

With a cleared throat, "no, no Hank, I have not."

And that was that.

Standing to leave, Erik gripped tight his heated cup of caffeine and set out for Charles' bedroom. Curiosity level dangerously high to ignore. A stress he didn't want, nor need.

Watching quietly, Hank noted the sudden shift in Erik's mood; from brooding to concern, the man clearly exhibited signs of being more worried than anything. That same feeling of unease – as if he were forgetting some important bit of information that would help him to understand better – returned tenfold.

'But why? Why would Erik be so thrown by Charles' late entrance ...to a meeting he hadn't known was scheduled?' Hank pondered this and that other sneaky sensation over his now cooled morning drink.

____________

Erik had suspicions as to why Charles neglected to turn up for the morning science time with Hank. All gibberish and foreign to the German, though intriguing and wholly impressive – Erik, nevertheless, went out in search of certain answers.

And so it was that he found himself placed once more in front of Xavier's door, finding its appearance to be larger now than it seemed only a few hours prior.

Erik didn't knock this time, or wait to be ushered inside. His knuckles were far too bruised, fingers swollen from the tantrum he had thrown not soon after storming out of this very unwelcoming space. The mutant simply strolled in, anger at the ready.

"Charles?" Morning light was scattering about, gleaming slices of brilliant yellow patterning themselves across the thick carpet. Xavier's bed was shrouded from view, oddly still dark by that part of the room, so Erik moved slowly as to not startle the man. A surprised telepath was something Lehnsherr could knowingly live forever without.

With no clues revealed yet, Erik placed his coffee mug on the table – the same one that held the shards of glass and broken parts his magnetism had purposefully destroyed – and noted that the mess hadn't been tidied too. 'Also odd,' Erik chided, concern rising for his ...friend at a steady pace. It wasn't like Charles Xavier to leave something so blatantly hazardous, harmful even, where one might have an opportunity to injure themselves. Preposterous, really.

He moved on. At the grand shadow of Charles' too-large bed that suddenly appeared there, budding up against his thighs, and with pupils not yet blown wide, Erik began to pat down the sheets and soft blankets to feel around for the mind-reading man. A whisper, "Charles?"

And then he felt something entirely unlike the gentle touch of satiny fabric: a sticky, wet residue on one of Charles' pillows. Not a lot, but enough to bring Erik to an abrupt stop.

Minimal levels of panic. And rising.

"Charles, Charles where the hell are you?" Uncaring of the events that had lead him to a late night outburst – thus costing several interior walls of Xavier's bomb shelter sizable damage – Erik wanted nothing but to find the man.

He scoured about, willing his damned eyes to adapt to the low light, search intensifying by the second. "Fuck this," Erik said aloud, feeling out and sensing every piece of metal so that he might manipulate and switch the lights from off to on.

It was as easy as that for Erik. With the vast space finally brightened, sunlight barely noticeable as a result, Lehnsherr caught the curved hump of Charles' body on the opposite side of the mattress. Stilled, but ...yes, breathing.

'Thank God..' Erik inwardly spoke, relief flooding away the cold, unforgiving grip of fear.

He reigned himself in while making his way there; not dashing over in a frantic attempt at salvation, but rather quick, tentative steps. What if Charles–No. Erik wouldn't think of any more reasoning beyond what he was about to, literally, uncover; guessing was a fool's game.

Rounding the corner of the messy bed, blankets and sheet strewn messily, Erik caught sight of the source of that questionable substance on Charles' pillow – blood, as suspected, stained there. Little droplets traveled from one end of the pillow hopping onto the next. Charles had slept in it.

Yet, there was not enough of it to stir up any further pangs of great concern, nonetheless, there it lay.

At the covered half-moon shape now, Charles in a tight fetal position, Erik began to strip away the layers. Carefully. Heavy duvet first, lighter quilt laying beneath that next, followed lastly by the silky touch of a paper-thin sheet.

"Charles?" another whisper, the name falling from between Erik's unsure lips. He waited, gazing into the shadows that lain across Charles' face. Neither the sun nor the artificial room lighting had reached the front of the sleeping man.

A weighted groan slipped out of the Professor's mouth at the sound of Erik's voice, eyes squeezing tightly into themselves. "Mmmph..." Fighting the morning and concerned, echoing words, a roar of pain ran Charles through, as if gears were grinding against one another in their efforts to power themselves on.

Erik withheld a smile, still unconvinced that the situation was indeed resolved. The bloody path and drops causing puzzlement enough to remain reserved, so he did just that. "Charles can you hear me?"

Without thinking, Lehnsherr eased one of his hands through the bushy locks of Charles' unkempt hair. An act of kindness – a show of ...love? It was all so unfamiliar to Erik; were those the types of actions a man in love might do? Or was it a friendly show of worry? Erik's brain worked nonstop trying to decipher the code of his current emotional state.

Charles' eyes finally opened at the other man's touch, blue orbs highlighting the deep pockets of fatigue that rested beneath them. Heavy, heavy bags under those cerulean gems was an ugly sight and one Erik was instantly bothered by.

Distracting the metal-bending man, Charles then spoke: "Er--Erik? What...what happened?"

Unease continuing to rise. Thankfully panic slowly dissipated.

Erik didn't reply, hoping Charles might continue on in his silence. And he did.

"Last night," the telepath paused to clear his throat, gently moving upwards at the shoulders now, "a-after you left. What happened...to you?"

Well that was unexpected from him; Erik shook his head, "Charles, I don't understand. Here, let me help you up."

With the aide of Erik's strong arms, Charles was seated upright, gently, legs drooped over the side of the bed and fingers gripped ironclad to the fitted sheet. Trying to steady himself, eyes rolling disturbingly quick inside of his head, the Englishman attempted focus.

Erik couldn't wait anymore. "Charles, there's blood on your pillowcase – look over there, see it? – and you're asking what happened to me? Care to elaborate ...please?"

Charles saw the blood as he peered over the bones of his shoulder, then touched his face – he didn't feel right. Something was wrong, only he couldn't accurately decide what was gnawing at him. A taste, rustic and thick, lay heavy in the back of his throat.

"Erik, after you left last night, I...I seem to have memories that I'm afraid don't belong to me. Where did you find yourself after... locking me in my room?" An air of distaste ran alongside the ending of Charles' inquiry, clearly unhappy by last nights turn out.

More confused than ever, Erik studied Charles: the Professor was vertical, but noticeably weak in the knees. Appeared to be weak all over, really: arms looking languid and too loose, back hunched forward as if it were too heavy to hold up.

"Erik?"

'Right,' Lehnsherr thought, aware that he was supposed to answer a question directed at him. "Well, I left and went to the training/firing room. I needed to...blow off some steam. I'm sure even you can appreciate that."

A verbal assault poised to hurt, only a little bit, when suddenly all the color drained from Erik's face. Charles, having only just stepped out of the last darkened spot of the room, was wholly unaware of his predicament. His face, features now easily seeable, left Erik jumping up at the unexpected picture that greeted him.

"Charles-Charles you're face is smeared with blood!"

Erik's fingers grasped Charles' jaw – as if working of their own free will – tilting Xavier's head upwards, downwards and from side to side, inspecting as he went. "Erik? Erik let me go please." Charles' tone was polite but stern enough that Lehnsherr did just that.

Appearing too calm for what he was just made aware of, it instantly piqued Erik's curiosities. "Charles, what the hell happened to you? Are you okay? What's going on?" The worry evidently unhinging the taller of the two men. At least, to an extent.

Ignoring Erik, Charles walked away, with a heading set for the aged mirror that hung in master bedroom's bathroom.

Not a single word came from Xavier's mouth as he looked himself over. He was dressed in the navy-colored pajama bottoms that Erik saw him in last night, only they appeared bluer now in the light of day. Closer to the color of the Englishman's eyes. Alluring.

Charles had also remained naked from the waist up.

Erik, not having a moment the first time around, allowed himself to take in Charles' physique. Lean muscle ran from his lower back to the base of his skull, spine neatly nestled between the two bands. Neat and pale alabaster skin tying it all as one. Freckles here and there; Erik thought him perfect.

Lehnsherr gulped, wondering the depths of just how deep a hole he was digging himself into. Feelings – who knew he had any before Charles? – were sieging upon his mental shores, the tides drawing forth waves of desire, both raw as they were passionate.

Charles returned from the washroom, a cream-colored hand towel stained anew with traces of a light pink – no doubt drops of blood that were recently mixed with water and cleared away.

"So...are you okay?" Erik chanced, stood once again at a closer place by the eerily muted telepath. Speaking of which-"if you don't want to talk aloud, how about you send it over the wire?" Erik pantomimed Charles' fingers-to-the-temple motion, signifying that telepathy was welcomed.

Silently, Xavier shook his head, "no, I believe I've about had enough of that connection, with you, over these last eight hours. Erik, I need only rest. now..please."

It was a plea, of that the magnetic man was certain, but what Charles had meant to imply remained a mystery.

So rather than leave as requested, Erik stood firm to his location, arms shifting to criss-cross over his chest. Universally recognized as one being frustrated. He wasn't going anywhere. Voice raised, he spat out racing words that were gaming inside of his head, "what does that even mean? Why was there blood on your face, Charles? What connection are you talking about – with me? What memories do you have that aren't yours? Verdammt! Tell me, please..." A beg all of his own.

Charles sighed inwardly, the ache in his head reaching a higher level than he had ever remembered. The pain was almost unbearable; Charles felt as though he were catapulted back to a time when the control over his telepathy was in its infancy. When barriers and blockades weren't built instantaneously, like they were now, but rather constructed over weeks spent with a given individual. Getting to know that person, their fears, their hopes and dreams, and then separating it from his own psyche to remain a single, working entity. A man of sound mind.

Plainly, Charles was obviously exhausted, his mind like that of mush, with flashes coming on as though they were built of spears that shred at the boundaries of his gift. He couldn't fight it anymore, especially not with Erik in the room, nor the icy-cold floorboards licking wantonly at his heels.

Charles gave in, offering the man answers he so desperately wanted:

"Erik, your...rage, your anger...it overwhelmed me last night. You said you went to the firing room, and I believe that, because it's all I see now. Don't you understand? This morning is nothing short of a waking nightmare, my friend. For the first time in a great while, I cannot recall anything of several hours but the battles you forged against the impenetrable walls of my estate's shelter." A pause, Erik's arms dropping lamely to his sides, a look of surprise washing over him. "You see, I felt that deep-seeded fury as you vacated my room, and rather than remaining here, I telepathically sought you out. It was my attempt at easing the swell of your fight... alas, I was unprepared for how great it truly was. Perhaps I was overtired, or the drink had done me in, either way. I would apologize, although I believe my physical presence this morning is perhaps payment enough for such an uninvited intrusion."

Charles finished, one hand clutching the sweaty brow of his forehead. A tight grip, but one meant to soothe an invisible hurt.

Yet through all of that, "how does a blood smear on your face factor in to the invasion of my mind – of which I didn't know had happened until right now." Erik wasted no time, his face twisting in at the thought of Charles roaming around, without due cause, and he, none the wiser. It's not that he didn't trust Xavier...

Erik didn't like anyone in his head save for himself, and even that found him weary most days. Charles didn't answer, didn't even offer up a shrug, but Erik knew the other was hiding something. Surely Xavier was stronger than this?

A deep breath, releasing with it the tension and traces of anger felt towards Charles' unwarranted mental break-in. "Charles, correct me if I'm wrong, but why would you have any trouble – least of all with me – with respects to your telepathic abilities? Surely a simple walkabout to ease a man's fury should be nothing for you?"

So Erik had connected the dots – however not all of them – and came to understand that the blood strewn on Xavier's face, the blood pooled on his pillow, had a direct correlation to a use of his mind. "Overextended myself, my friend, and a simple bleed of the nose has humbled me," Charles spat, as if his tongue were laced with sulfuric acid.

The words outwardly pained the Englishman; to speak so lowly of his mental charge – a disgrace upon himself spoken aloud – it was wholly necessary for the shroud to remain over his burgeoning secrets. The lie must be one the others – including and especially Erik – could believe. Infallible even.

For a man, a mutant, like Charles Xavier to admit his reach exceeded his actual grasp, well, that was a testament to one's character. It was a failure of self admitted, and thus, Erik trusted the Professor now more than he had ten minutes earlier. More than he had ever perhaps.

Silently, Charles heard the idea of trust and his own name tossed around the forefront of Erik's mind; he knew right then that he succeeded in the telling of his false truth.

And it hurt him more than Charles' imagined it would. He felt destroyed by his own lie.

"Erik, I-" but the magnetic mutant stopped him by way of interruption: "Hank asked about you. Said you had a meeting of the minds at six this morning. I came to check on you... Will you be attending or should I go and tell him to expect you later?" A semblance of a smile there, at the end of Erik's spiel. He was making his way to go now.

Thankfully, Charles didn't have to ask Erik to leave again, as he realized – through Charles' lies no less – that the telepath needed rest.

"Yes, later would be perfect, thank you. I will regroup with Hank and the others...and you, after a few more hours of sleep." Charles nodded solemnly, walking to his fireplace; suffering through both night and his mental excursions cold and alone was hard enough – he wasn't about to go through that again. Not so soon anyway.

With no shattering of light bulbs this time, no anger threatening the possibility of physical harm, Erik retreated from Charles' bedroom. Albeit quietly, that same almost dubious smile still holding loosely on his face. "I'm glad you're okay," he finished, before closing the door behind him.

________
Charles had never felt worse.

Erik had gone; his rage suppressed, lost at the moment, but never truly forgotten and now Charles was left behind to stand in the wake of his monumental deceptions.

Several things had just happened, constructing a wall that would inevitably cascade down and bury Charles. But for the will of what he felt was right – what was undoubtedly necessary – Charles had followed through.

Yes, it was true that he had lead Erik to believe he experienced a phantom nose bleed through a compromised bout of mental communication. True that Charles then rolled his head unknowingly atop his pillows, giving cause to the miniature pool that had found its way there – the little red dribbles and drops being cast offs from restless movement. Everything was explained. Apologies given in hopes of forgiveness.

Charles got that but so much more. More than he wanted.

He feigned so much so that Erik was convinced it had been a failed attempt at controlling his mind.

Even Hank's presence in the kitchen had been staged, memories promptly erased of the planning he and Charles had created to spare the scientist even a shred of guilt. Everything went off without a hitch, as they say.

But the truth, the real truth – of what had actually taken place in those early morning hours – post Erik's weathered storm – well that was irrelevant. Charles suspected himself now to be too far out to sea to glimpse the safe ports of harbor any longer. This was the day he'd passed the point of no return.

Charles had done this flawlessly.

Chapter Text

Wednesday, November 1, 1961 — 2:04 a.m.

 

Charles' bare feet trampled along the ornate designs of his bedroom flooring, skin icy and wearing a paling bluish-gray tone. The fireplace, as it lain purposely neglected still, was the claimed source of the frigid air. Old houses – let alone mansions or estates – were known for being drafty, but currently, it was the only thing keeping Charles on the straight and narrow.

The cold's biting pain wormed its way into him; from the ground up, as though tendrils of Arctic sea water were navigating paths by way of his veins, and so Charles' mind was working twice as hard to merely focus. The man's self-torture was quickly mounting, and yet.

His consciousness floated outwards and upwards, as if knowingly seeking out an impossible flame – a spark amidst a hurricane of thoughts constantly surrounding him. Looking for that source of heat despite the tundra-like temperatures was Charles' reason tonight. He knew it wouldn't take long.

Erik was a mental typhoon of rage and rejection; mad – more angry than Charles had ever sensed in the short amount of time they had known one another.

As much as Charles wished to dull the edges of Erik's searing swords, tonight the telepath needed that explosive energy as he needed the air in his lungs. It was a stolen gift; a carefully scripted short story that was being made into more. Into reality.

Deceptive, deceitful and disjointed now, Charles used Erik's anger to lose himself for the next few hours. He would make up for it in the morning – no doubt the pain would be ungodly, but for now, Xavier's mental charades were all he had. The Professor's only true weapon, and one finally being employed. Albeit in a negative light.

Morals be damned, ideologies be made into things of the past, tonight was the beginning. From knowingly damaging Erik's pride and thus, shaking the trust the man had in Charles, there really was no going back. Objects in motion...

Xavier only hoped his efforts would work.

Ocean-blue eyes were closed tightly then. The soft pads of his index and middle fingers pressed in against the right temple of his head, and Charles felt himself go. There was only the fury waiting ahead; Erik's seething hate filling Charles from tip to toe. A hate born so long ago yet recently rekindled – a single shattered light bulb left acting as proof.

Charles could easily sense Erik's whereabouts: magnetism run high down in the firing room. It was a solid structure used for training. Charles' father – his real father, Brian – had built it as a failsafe to protect the Xavier family from the war. But up until just a few weeks past, it was a dormant, forgotten empty space that Charles, more often than not, pretended hadn't existed.

Xavier was lucky for it tonight.

Erik's overwhelming desire to smash things was rather great this evening, and no other place on the estate was better suited for it...or him.

So Charles stood there, frozen to his frigid floorboards while playing resident, alongside Erik, in the magnetic man's mind. Watching, observing. Losing his morals, his code of ethics and all the reasons to do the right thing. Tonight, he wasn't Charles Francis Xavier, Professor of Genetics: "Mutation, A Speech." No, he was a darker version of himself. Tainted and torn open, like the fraying, soggy pages of an antiquated novel.

It being a preparation of how the world – and his closest allies – would subsequently view him in a only a few days time.

––––––
Wednesday, November 1, 1961 — 2:36 a.m.

 

As Erik's arms wildly sent metal objects outwards – things gathered on route to the converted bomb shelter – everything hastily slammed through a myriad of concrete barriers... As if the manipulated nothings were sharpened blades cutting through hot butter.

Erik's pain – emotional trauma really – stemmed from so many unseen tortures, his heart beat a constant ache behind the bones of his chest. From Charles' recent leading on, to Darwin's death, then the move to the mansion to train as some cut-rate team – hell, even breakfast with the same few people every morning was dragging Erik farther down the path of domestic insanity. And yet there was one driving force gnawing at the belly of the beast that was greater than all others. A man whom has not only lived longer than he, but one that has corrupted more lives and freely killed innocence by the thousands. A demon, a devil, a mythological being that should have long ago been eradicated.

Sebastian Shaw.

Spittle dripped from Erik's momentary lapse of self preservation, and in that blinding fit of rage he threw all he had into a final, finely-tuned object: it was steel coin fashioned to look much like an original. A blood-bathed weight that still hung heavy in the pockets of Erik's daily attire. This newly-formed circle of steel was larger though, slightly impregnated looking – as though this copy were blown up six times the size of that fated Reichsmark.

He watched as the imitation metal cut through the concrete, slicing coldly and unabashedly. Swirling patterns and weaving symbols Erik had never before seen. An artistic locker of his madness, etched into stone.

Deep, heaving breaths filled the barren length of the space, his heart beat like pounding drums inside of his ears.

Erik felt his fight coming to an end, the warning flares having all been fired off by that point. A flash bomb had a short life as well.

The magnetic man didn't care, only gazed on noncommittally at the holes in the wall; various sizes of strewn-about cement blocks and gray dust now littering the unkempt floor.

He thought of Charles then – the telepath's receptively smooth tongue and warm skin, scents of fresh soap and ...rain was it?, filled his dizzied head. It was an intoxicating moment for Erik, one that has seldom, if ever before this, been experienced. Lehnsherr felt connected to the Professor in a way that went beyond mere physical attraction though; an unseen drawl, like the hook of a good story, or a strength as great as the destructive force from just outside a hurricane's eye. It was there.

Shared but...not. Charles blatantly refused Erik the moment Lehnsherr had chosen to disclose himself to the other.

Now. Here he found himself, acting out like an infant: breaking Charles' toy because he was the older, bigger man of the two. Irrational but it was all the same. Feelings were relevant now, even if Erik had never given into them before. And Charles mattered.

And so his anger...it boiled up from all these things – including those ideals of domesticity, Xavier's confusing rejection, and Shaw. That fucking bastard, Sebastian Shaw. It was little to large, a compound effect that was overrunning Erik's restraint and self control.

Erik paused in thought; it was no mistake that he wanted Charles – with him, around him, near.

He wanted Shaw dead. He wanted ...well, Erik didn't know what he desired past that. Love and hate working in tandem. Confusing him.

Unsurprisingly, the objects that embedded themselves into the concrete surrounding Erik, bore his true dilemma though: a sudden knowledge that he couldn't kill Shaw and still have a chance with Charles. And he couldn't run from the Xavier estate anymore than he could stay. For an extended period of time at least.

Erik knew though, in that moment, killing his monstrous creator was not simply priority, it was everything. If Charles could see to realize that...perhaps. But he wouldn't. The Professor of Mutants and Humans Living in Harmony could never be talked down from his pedestal of light and universal love.

A spike of resentment rose like a pit in Erik's stomach; immediately feeling betrayed by a man who had already shown he wasn't interested in carrying on with Lehnsherr. Only after he had shown that he was, indeed, interested. Confusing bullshit.

So what would become of Charles in the event of Shaw's certain demise? Would the telepath become a distant memory? A forgotten face with eyes bluer than the clearest ocean? An ally all the same? An matched enemy?

Erik, begrudgingly, didn't have the answers.

______
Wednesday, November 1, 1961 — 3:54 a.m.

 

Charles' mind was still deeply intertwined with Erik's, not only hearing the raging German's thoughts but living them, feeling them. As if they were Charles' own. Something strange had undoubtedly happened: a string from his conscious mind had been sewn neatly into Erik's, linking the two inseparably in that moment.

When Erik breathed in, Charles did as well. When Erik's tongue tasted the floating particles of the cements ruin, Charles did as well.

All of it amounted to one obvious thing: Erik's emotion became a feeding tube, one nourishing Charles with the precise amount of fury required to fill the mission tanks. So to speak.

Charles was angry now, all the more resentful of the monster he was soon set to destroy.

But through all of his deceptive uninvited entrances, and all the supplements he came to gather from within Erik's seething mind, Charles knew it was time to leave. To go back home to his own thoughts, his own miseries.

Let Erik be but the man he was and take only what was needed. Borrowed emotions for a brief time, anyway.

And so Charles retreated, quietly, slowly; easing out of one's mind has always been a specialty trick of Xavier's. Much easier than delving deep into a person's thoughts, only for the simple fact that once undetected, exiting was a relative concept, like rain in a rainforest. The affected hadn't known Charles to ever been occupant in their minds, so any trace evidence of an impromptu curtain call was immediately washed away.

Although. Charles worried, early on, that Erik might suspect him to be playing observer to the outburst of anger and hatred, but lucky for Charles, it was too overwhelming for the man. Erik was blinded to all else. That made Xavier's melting pot of consciousnesses tactic both successful and highly discrete.

Charles was in, was out. Within and without himself.

But now, thrown back inside of his own head, the telepath felt feint. Frightened by the weakness in his knees and the spinning, semi-blurry lines of his darkened, moonlit room. Everything appeared to have been splashed with a brilliant silver; the pieces of broken glass from the lamp shone like dying flashlights, reflecting the blueish glow from outside the windows.

Wavering now, both knees fell to the floor quick, dragging Charles down. A painful shock to his bones. Landing palms out, he now rested on all fours, heaving. No vomit came, but his stomach contracted in a series of spasms, causing him to choke. Xavier gagged, fingernails digging into wooden boards that lay beside the edges of his ornate carpeting. Tears ran down his pale skin, a reaction to this heightened state.

'Goddamn it Charl...es' he accused, finally righting himself and now resting his tailbone on the rear of his ankles.

His skin was like ice, solid and tight from being exposed to the cold for so long. He was shivering, teeth rattling. Charles moved his arms to warp around his chest, to find a source of heat, anything.

More than that though, Charles felt as if he were two steps beyond the realm of exhaustion. Yet even with his mind missing pieces – things purposefully forgotten – he fought to hold onto enough energy to do one final treacherous act. Of the night, that is.

Then he would sleep, and sleep. And sleep more.

Hank.

Hank was under the impression they had a meeting in-Charles shakily walked over to his other bedside table to peer at the clock, 4:08 a.m. now-less than two hours.

It, of course, was under a false pretense; the entire meeting was set up as a mask for baiting Erik. A ruse. Xavier knew Erik would be in the kitchen – whether the man will sleep or not – by 6:30 a.m. A half hour between Charles' scheduled appearance and Erik's show. More than enough time for Hank to decide that something must have gone askew ...and then request Erik's assistance in finding the telepath.

Terrible, Charles knew, but all part of the grand plan.

Searching through the cavernous mansion hallways, the empty bedrooms versus the occupied, Charles found Hank sleeping. Expected and something that would aide greatly in his telepathic meanderings.

Without hesitation, Charles entered the inside of McCoy's mind seamlessly; bursts of blue and untamed animal met him, coming as waves of images might wash across one's mental shorelines.

Leaving a quick note, he was in and out, like a blink of an eye. Charles made it so that Hank would give way to no suspicion insofar as Erik was concerned. Why Charles might not have shown come morning time wouldn't be anything but your typical mystery. Overslept, has he? Forgotten the time?

Really what this meant was that Charles left no breadcrumb trail. Erik was as intuitive as they come and covering bases was top priority for Xavier. Lehnsherr was not to know of anything, or suspect anything.

Indeed, come morning – a mere couple hours – Charles would be late, but his tardiness would be the result of simple human-like fault. Lies to cover his truths.

'Yes, I must have missed my alarm,' or 'I'm wretchedly ill on account of last night's alcohol consumption,' ...though that last one might be a stretch. All would be business as usual.

Done, everything, because Charles believed in a man that was, for all intents and purposes, unobtainable. It was being done for Erik.

Erik must be made to believe that Charles is the bad guy when all is said. A effort that will surely save Lehnsherr's soul in the long run and protect him; ensure that his magnetism will grow brilliantly, and untainted, for decades to come. Well, as untainted as it could be from this point on.

The facts were there. Easily found in the light, easily felt in the night.

Charles understood that Erik couldn't stay here, at the mansion, forever. He knew this as much as he himself wished that Erik would.

Charles understood that the his sister and the children – though not children at all, really – were to be in his care indefinitely. And that the world spinning on around them was coming to a head. Shaw was an unstoppable force – to all but he and Cerebro, and Charles sought to capitalize on this as quickly as he was able.

So all things considered, killing Shaw was Charles' only option.

Charles was prepared now, ready to take on that mythical beast and stand up as victor. Not to suggest that winning was the end goal. It was about saving things that might not realize they need saving. True valor.

As those thoughts ran rampant inside his head, it was then Charles noticed the small blots of blood. They had fallen onto the pillow as he exhaustedly fell into bed, nightly missions accomplished.

He was too tired to care why it was there, or how it come to be that he was bleeding.

Charles slipped into a dreamless sleep.

Chapter Text

Wednesday, November 1, 1961 – 12:34 p.m.

 

Charles awoke to the sound of a sonic boom. Distant blasts echoed against the walls of his bedroom; whatever it was, it was close enough to startle the sleeping man.

He sat up; his skull was throbbing, as if a family of angry gorillas were beating on a bass drum...inside of his head. Suffice to say, Charles wasn't so happy to be a part of the waking world.

The alarm clock beside his bed read that it was half past noon. 'Late to rise,' the suffered remarked to himself, mind cloudy and corroded from last night's deceptive excursions. Charles turned to evaluate his surroundings: the pillow with dried blood still remained where he had last seen it, the glass from Erik's tirade lay hazardously strewn about, forgotten and neglected.

Mess, everything was a complete mess.

Charles finally made it into the room's bathroom, locking the door behind him. He didn't suspect anyone might try to enter while he was in there, but the telepath thought it best to keep options limited.

Of course, Erik wouldn't have pause if he wanted to break in on Charles, but that was another matter entirely. One left to be dealt with much later.

For now, Xavier sated himself with the hot running water of his shower. The streaming liquid pushed out forcefully, offering no grace to the wounded that might stand beneath it. Though Charles' hurt was unseen, the slightest outside pressure – in this case, the water itself – had the man biting back stabs of pain.

It wasn't long before he was dressed, clean-shaven and ready for another day of...well, whatever might have him. Whether it be with Hank and the mountainous Cerebro data calibration and analysis still left to be tended to, or training sessions with the children–

Charles recalled the noise that had originally been his reason for damn near jumping awake. An audible breach of distance and air and sound and he remembered them: Sean or Alex. One of the two, if not both, were training out in the estate's expansive fields.

'Training with whom,' Xavier muddled quietly to himself. Hank might be with them, but the likelihood of that was slim: the scientist did little else but work from sun up to sun down in his lab...which was fine by Charles. Xavier understood the appeal of test tubes and beakers and solutions to questions that hadn't yet been asked. Not even mentioning the electronics that so gripped McCoy as of late. Technology was changing at the speed of light, and Hank? Hank always managed to remain one – if not three – steps fully ahead of the learning curve.

It made Charles proud in a fatherly sort of way, even though he himself were much too young a man to have had a child of Hank's age.

Anyway, Charles suspected with near certainty that Hank wouldn't be assisting Sean or Alex in either the bomb shelter or the fields.

That left either Raven or Erik. Seeing as how Raven herself was a part of the training schedule it was just as unlikely as Hank that she were the one chaperoning outside.

The list dwindled down to Erik. Which meant Charles would have to see the brute of a man earlier than he had wanted. Xavier didn't wish to avoid him per se, but after last night there was no telling what kind of mood Erik would greet the telepath with.

Anger almost certainly, but violence? Charles doubted it, though that 'goddamn' light bulb spoke otherwise.

Fear be damned, Charles confidently began to make his way down to the estate's main field. Well, perhaps forcibly.

–––––––

Wednesday, November 1, 1961 – 1:21 p.m.

 

Erik stood, arms crossed over his chest, behind Alex; the chip-on-his-shoulder young mutant, who wouldn't trust himself if he were the last reliable source of safety on planet earth, was staring forward. The target, a man-made construct consisting of several bales of hay wrapped in steel cording, sat neatly encased in an outer layer of bright-red brick. Painted dead center of the square object was a large black circle: Alex was to strike that with a focused beam of plasma that shot right out of the middle of his chest. A few hula-hoop swivels of his torso and bam, a ray of energy soared direct from somewhere deep inside, it's intent nearly obliterating each and every thing it touched.

This afternoon however, Alex seemed less than willing to give it his all; he was tired and the headache he'd woken up with was downright deplorable.

Even Erik seemed lesser the spirit of camaraderie and physical betterment of their little group today, though neither Alex nor Sean were quite sure why. Oh, and they wouldn't soon ask the man either. Lehnsherr was a brood on a good today, and today was far worse.

So there Summers was. Sean was soaring between the clouds by the satellite dish, Hank was tinkering away with that big globe of a contraption meant for Xavier (to do whatever) and here Alex found himself with what could be the most dangerous mutant he'd ever met. It was a fun afternoon indeed. Exhausted, worn out and and now pretending to act as though Erik were his usual self, the day couldn't come to an end fast enough.

Alas, relief drew upon them: the sight of Charles trotting down the massive green hills towards their group of two somehow lightened Alex's mood. Xavier was just that type of man: a friend, confidant, teacher. An all-around reliable source of calm and goodness.

The professor reached them, his hands deep within the pockets of his loose-fitting black slacks. He was shuffling around what sounded to be loose change; no doubt Erik could equate exactly how much money there was simply by listening to the metals individual weights.

"Alex, Erik, good afternoon," Charles said, giving no charge for the sort of concern the magnetic mutant had only just found him in early this morning. Erik nodded and Alex smiled – cocky but it was there, white teeth and laugh-lines. "How goes your training today Alex? Erik getting you closer on point with the target?" Xavier gestured to the solid box out ahead of the trio while asking. The solid black dot was still intact, but closely surrounding the brick there were blown-out holes and shreds of hay falling through them.

Clearly Summers was refining his control by the look of things. "Well...yeah. I can't hit that goddamn center target though!" Alex hastily ran his fingers through his blond hair, gripping tight to the ends. It was messy now, fraying and shooting out in various directions – utterly unkempt. Much like Erik's inner thoughts at the moment.

"Erik thinks that if my body moves at a certain rate comparable to the target at large, the force behind the blasts will vary significantly." Charles could see the open-ended possibilities with that theory but also the truth behind it. And the semi-confused expression Alex had when saying as much.

Charles smoothed down an eyebrow, "yes, I see. So if you, say, snap to the right but ease towards the left, with a smaller object you might exert enough force to hurt but not destroy. Endless opportunities to work with really," Xavier sounded thoughtful, clearly contemplating the physics and probabilities of Alex's ability.

Erik hadn't yet said a single word.

"Erik, what made you think of this?" Charles was baiting the man into conversation. Erik knew it as well.

His feet moved to displace weight from one foot to the other and in doing so, Erik sighed. "Well, it makes sense doesn't it? Alex's ability is created through movement and inertia, so the faster his upper body moves, regardless of patterns, that should be a tell ...you know, the level of power drawn out." Erik spoke clear and loud but his eyes never connected with Charles'. Not once. Alex noticed this.

Just then Hank popped up beside the group of men and the three now added one more.

Not missing a beat, "actually Professor, Erik, Alex's inertia is a byproduct. I've been developing a harness of sorts – an electronic disc that will streamline the plasma rays out of one focal point on Summers' chest. So while the erratic movements of his upper body can – and do – account for power level, it can be manifested through other channels of his mutation. Something akin to a simple, straightforward inflation–deflation of his chest might eventually be all that's needed to fully control the plasma... but I'm not yet finished with the design." The good scientist fixed his glasses center on his face, watching the others as they stared at him.

Charles smiled and gripped the genius mutant on the shoulder, "very good Hank, very good indeed. I'm sure Alex, as well as Erik and I, are more than a little excited to see what you come up with."

Erik snorted at that and Alex's head instantly snapped over towards him. "Something funny-" Charles stopped Summers before any harm could come through innocent words. "Alex it's quite alright. We're going to head inside for a break now, and alls well that ends well, yes?" A precise tilt of his head.

Charles raised his eyebrows at Alex and the angered young man bore off towards the mansions living room. Nothing audible came from Summers' stomping away, but Charles heard quite clearly the names both Erik and he were being called. Pleasant, really.

Hank turned to leave and follow Summers inside, though not before inquiring as to whether or not Charles would be joining them. "Yes, yes. I will be in momentarily. I need to see if Sean will join us. Oh and Erik, where might I find Raven?" Lehnsherr finally met Charles' eyes. A deep, warring fire burned behind them now. Begrudgingly he spoke, "I don't know. Weight room possibly? I'm not her keeper."

Charles smiled and sucked in a deep breath of air. The day was absolutely lovely: neither trees nor grass were alive with springtime emeralds and its endless shades of green. Yet as it was the beginning of winter all of that was typical – but the sky, a crisp, ocean-blue heaven above, was what made it such a pretty afternoon. A Magritte sky, if you will. Clouds white, fluffy and full, perfectly placed, as though painted by the artist himself.

"Mhm, I see. Will you be joining us in the living room?" Xavier asked easily, unsure of Lehnsherr's reaction.

Erik stared at Charles as though the man had asked to borrow his kidney. "No, Charles, no I won't be joining any of you anywhere today. And where the hell do you get off talking to me as though nothing happened last night ...or this morning, for that matter?"

So Erik was clearly angry, but Charles already knew that. Telepathy or not, that much had been clear from minute one. Understandably though, Lehnsherr was speaking from within his mood rather than rationally: he had already been training Alex today, so his point was virtually moot: he had been with someone today.

"We need to talk, Erik, of that there is no doubt. However I fail to see how doing so in front of the others and my sister will improve the quality of your current state. We have tonight to do as much. Please, come inside and take a break with us – I'm guessing you've been outside all day?"

Erik arched his eyebrows in response.

Charles tilted his head, "well then it's fair to say you've earned a reprieve, my friend. Please, take it with me – with us? As undeserving as it may be," Charles piped, slightly leaning in towards Erik. Inwardly, Xavier's skull was still a mashed group of primate drummers, so in truth his work would consist of very little today, but Charles didn't let on.

Couldn't let on.

"Fine," Erik bit in return. Not waiting for Charles to speak, the taller man set off, and Xavier was left wondering as to whom had the bigger chip on their shoulder: Alex or Erik.

–––––––
Wednesday, November 1, 1961 – 7:46 p.m.

 

It was a rare occasion that Charles Xavier would watch TV at night, or at any point during the day really. Save for the evening news, and honestly, what was that? A half hour at most? No, Xavier had far more interesting things to do occupy his minutes with. Not to mention productive.

But tonight Alex, Raven and Sean had corralled Charles, Erik and Hank into watching an old black and white film: King Kong. Released in 1933, its artistry had been unmatched at the time, but now, the younger mutants simply picked at its flaws.

Aside from their slights, it was obvious Erik and Charles appreciated the solid use of film making magic with this one; when the production studio went ahead and created a gorilla that was ...mutated far larger than its direct gene pool, the two men exchanged knowing glances.

Yet... Genetics. Mutation. Charles found himself enthralled – engrossed even – so much so that he had neglected to notice the hour. The telepath had planned to spend only a fraction of time with the group before whisking Hank away to the scientist's personal lab. There the two would reconvene and discuss Charles' morning mental escapades that McCoy was still none the wiser.

It was forty-six minutes past his original exit time, but Charles felt he had become too invested to leave now. The others would be suspicious and that was the last thing he needed: no drawing further attention to himself. Suspicion often lead to persons investigating without giving notice beforehand, and Xavier couldn't afford that.

Knowing he had the rest of the night to bump smarts with Hank, and only a few imperative scenes left in the movie, Charles decided to stay.

By eight-thirty the movie had finished, and the three younger mutants scattered like falling leaves. Raven retired to her room, a fitness magazine and a strawberry milkshake in tow. Alex ran off to shower – he hadn't had the time earlier between strategy studies, dinner and King Kong on the TV. Sean flitted towards the kitchen; envious of Raven's treat, the sonic mutant couldn't resist the sweet taste of a nighttime snack.

That left Erik, Charles and Hank alone in the expansive living room.

"Hank, do you have a minute to go over some schematics concerning Cerebro with me? I've been meaning to suggest a few add-ons but it was a rather crazy morning, as you know." Charles eyed Erik quickly but shifted his gaze back the moment the magnetic manipulator caught him. Erik hadn't said much more than two words since they had left to come inside from the afternoon training sessions.

Serves Charles right, and yet it felt odd to be so distant from Erik.

'Focus Xavier, you need it to be this way,' Charles spat at himself, angry for wanting his cake and eating it too.

Erik stood at that, nodded and then left the room. An eerie silence followed in his wake, as though Charles were being beckoned to read his mind.

Sure enough, "meet me in the study in one hour, Xavier," came the German man's distinct inner voice. They were speaking to one another without actually opening their mouths. Charles fancied any the person who would willingly do such a thing for him.

But no. He wasn't allowed to want for Erik anymore. He had no right to do that.

Naturally... "yes, yes Erik I will be there."

–––––––
Wednesday, November 1, 1961 – 8:50 p.m

 

Charles walked behind Hank quietly as they made their way through the grandiose halls heading towards the lab. "Hank, I want to tell you something rather than, say, flipping a switch," Xavier crooned, his voice smooth but hesitant all the same.

Hank paused to unlock his private entrance way. "Okay... professor?" Charles sensed confusion in the mans mind; like blankets of grey clouds hanging wantonly above a sunlit sky. They could descend at any moment, but for the life of them, they couldn't figure out why they would do such a thing. Charles' telepathy was kind of like that. Direct sentences sure, jumbled thoughts definitely, but pictures most assuredly. He could 'see' what others were feeling. Memories, hopes. Quite amazing really.

Finally inside the room, they stepped over to the lengthy tables at random. Charles knew fully well he had zero intentions of adding anything onto Hank's machine – it wouldn't be smart to act as though the young man were anything short of a genius wonder.

"Hank, I trust you understood that my comment on Cerebro's schematics was a ruse, yes?" Charles had to be sure. The young man nodded in recognition, "I figured as much. Plus I knew that you knew the design and construction has been complete for a bit. What I don't know is why you needed a secret meeting? In the morning – with Erik, I mean?"

Hank bit the nail on this thumb; worry was flowing through the confusion waves of thought now.

"Very good, Hank. Well, I won't horse around anymore: earlier this morning, around six a.m. to be precise, I believe you were in the kitchen area awaiting on me for a meeting? I never showed, as you know, and then Erik volunteered to see to my whereabouts. I trust you well enough to say this much: I planted the entire idea of a meeting, at such that exact hour, so that you would undoubtedly run into Erik, who would then come check on my welfare status. You see, last night was spent siphoning off anger and absolute rage from Erik – that fury the result of another ploy enacted that I will respectfully keep to myself – when he had thrown a fuse down in the bomb shelter. He ruined some walls, I'm afraid, but it was all for the purpose of our top secret mission."

Charles paused to see that Hank was up to speed.

"So you played with Erik...'s mind and emotions, altered my own thoughts and subsequently used both of us for the sole intent of inevitably killing Shaw? A plan of which I'm privy to."

Clearly, McCoy was up to speed.

Charles Xavier felt terrible seeing his dirty laundry strewn haphazardly about. When had he turned into this deceitful excuse of a being, one must beg to wonder.

Yet there was no room for pause now. He was primed and ready to take down the fabled mastermind that would inevitably be death, the destroyer of worlds.

Charles coughed, "yes, Hank. I did all of that and more. Are you experiencing cold feet with this mission? I surely hope not, as I don't know if I could do this without you. Alas, I will understand if you wish to opt out."

Hank stepped close to Charles; no longer the man of worry or confusion, no longer the nerdy mutant who nudged his eyeglasses higher than one should, McCoy exuded strength and conviction. "I'm only going to say this once Professor, and out of respect for you I wish you need only hear it as much. I understand your position in this house as greatly as I understand your position among the future mutant community... but if you ever use me as your plaything again, I will regretfully be forced to break ties with you. I won't tolerate being a puppet to a master with whom I consider both a friend and colleague. Please do me the favor of honoring my intelligence – had I known you needed me to be a ruse, I would have simply acted as one. This mission is too important to let feelings of guilt hold me contempt. I realize it may break pieces of my character to follow through – fully – with the murder of a man, but it is something that must be done. He cannot be tamed, he cannot be controlled and Erik will become a tyrant if he is left to take Shaw down himself. Which could result in wars far worse than Shaw could have ever single handedly begun. So, please, Charles, don't ever give me reason to leave this group...or this team."

Charles was stunned into silence. It wasn't that Charles doubted Hank was the sort of man he had just revealed himself to be, but that Xavier himself was inspired to be better. To complete his goals with solid conviction and a relief of guilt. Well, guilt in respects to Shaw's untimely demise, but Erik was an entirely different matter.

Erik.

Charles checked his watch. Twenty-four minutes until he agreed to meet the other man in the study. Another uneasy conversation for sure.

"That all being said Professor, what do you need me to do tomorrow?"

Charles smiled and pulled a thin piece of pearl-white paper from his pocket. "Coordinates. I believe Shaw can be located here." Hank looked at the numbers and then turned to punch them into Cerebro's mainframe control panel. "Entered, now what? How did you come to have these numbers?"

Charles patted the side of Hank's shoulder, eyebrows raising in a pleased disposition.

Ignoring Hank's second questions, "now we set up to take down his telepath. Then others that might try to protect him. I will be in here first thing in the morning. We can run preliminary testing to finely tune their whereabouts and I will plant mental bombs to go off accordingly-" Hank's face drew a paler shade of white, the fear was written so plainly on his face – "you're going to ki-kill all of them too?"

Charles felt aghast but could see how Hank would draw such a ludicrous conclusion. "No, no. I aim only to rewire them. The telepathic woman will need to be quick and precise, but with the power Cerebro offers, I doubt she could fight it if she tried. The others I will merely send packing. No worries Hank. I'm not a serial killer."

Charles spun around to leave as a reflection of unbidden relief flooded across Hank's face. "I'll just...work on the location then. Goodnight Professor," the scientist called, sighing once again to share his sense of ease.

Charles laughed a little, then remembered he still had to kill a person. The thought sobered him quickly as he made his way towards the second floor study.

As he made his way towards Erik.

–––––––
Wednesday, November 1, 1961 – 9:59 p.m.

 

"I was wondering if you'd forgotten I asked you to come, Professor," Erik stated, a whiskey glass half full on hand. Charles' smile was genuine as his hands lifted out from his pockets. "Never, I simply neglected to check the time. You know how us lab rats can be, wholly distra-"

Erik's mouth cut Charles off suddenly, his liquored lips pressing almost painfully against the smaller mans. Then he broke away just as passionately. "I don't know what the fuck you're up to, and I don't believe you'd even tell me if I asked you direct, but I just want you Charles. I want you tonight," Erik smoothed, his voice hot and fevered as it whispered into Xavier's ear.

A bolt of wantthisneedthislove shot straight down to Charles' groin, like an electrocution of instant desire. His mind blacked out all plans to kill Shaw, let alone harm anyone, in such a heated moment, and Charles let himself be lead and sat on the couch.

Erik knelt between the telepath's legs, spreading them at the knees as he began to speak, "I won't pretend to act as though you're not up to something, but whatever it is, I don't seem to be worthy enough for you to share it with me. Maybe it's Hank – are you fucking McCoy, Xavier? I doubt it's any of the others though. But ...I can make you trust me Xavier. I can make you want me like I ...need you to."

Erik damn near choked on his words, so foreign they were. This was beyond simplistic lust. It was beyond anything he'd ever hoped to experience. Or wanted to.

'A complete reversal of roles is what this is,' Charles thought to himself. 'I'm set to kill a man while Erik's emotions are burning mad, like a vampire exposed to daylight.

Erik wasted no time; hands at Charles' waistline, the older mutant – though not by many years – began to unbuckle and unzip Xavier's black slacks. Warm, drunk hands found themselves exploring happily: the soft skin of Charles' hard cock emanated hot and was dripping with a need to be touched. Quite literally.

The telepath eased his fingers into Erik's hair, massaging his scalp and edging the German's face – and mouth – closer.

Of all the things to say no to, Charles was left without a single protestation.

Chapter Text

Thursday, November 2, 1961: 2:33 a.m.

 

Charles couldn't sleep. Not a wink, no way-no how, not after what he'd done tonight. With Erik.

'Erik.' Thoughts drifted serenely over...

Laid out peacefully beside the telepath was the slender form of his newest lover, sleeping. 'Perfection,' Charles murmured beneath his breath, admiring the view. Lifting a hand, Xavier traced from the stubble skin of Erik's jaw directly down to the man's thin, exposed waist. Both naked still, a familiar pull tugged at him – a want of heart-pounding, blood-pumping desire – flooded Charles.

Then reality set in. A war between the rational and the irrational seemed deeply rooted now.

Charles wished his life would permit moments like this every morning – though one could hardly call the hour morning. A throaty sigh; Charles found himself choking on emotion.

The key issue wrecking constant havoc: Was killing Shaw worth the cost (of everything, including self-respect) anymore?

And then, as though a hammer swung down from the gods above, something striking and evil came upon the telepath: Charles couldn't change a thing even if he so wanted to. Oh, how he wanted to. See, if Charles didn't remove the obstacle (a world-sized terrorist and then-some) that would set the stage for Erik to take up the torch. Erik wouldn't choose Charles' affections – no matter how stimulating they may be – before his own end goals.

One way or another, Shaw was going to be done for. Made accountable in the both the highest and lowest regards.

The reason for this sudden bout of inner pain was so simple, so easy: Charles couldn't be with a vengeful murderer anymore than Erik could bare the man that had taken his only chance at ...well, not peace exactly but something close to it.

"Lose-lose, Xavier," he spoke aloud, all but forgetting the presence of his partner.

Erik grumbled at the abrupt sound, rolling onto his belly as he did so. Charles found himself tonguing his lips; it was incredibly cathartic to admire a man that had everything Charles always waited to find in another.

Yet as close as it seemed to be that Erik could belong to him, Xavier knew...it would never work. Not in their lifetimes.

Charles didn't fight the tears this time as they cut lines down the pale skin of his face.

________
Thursday, November 2, 1961: 7:57 a.m.

 

Erik felt the ache in his stomach the second he'd fully risen for the day. It was a dull pain but pain nonetheless. He suspected his binge with emotional drinking as the main perpetrator, but sucking Xavier off and the subsequent fuck (well, fucks actually) they'd shared could also hold a hand into why he was feeling so ...out of sorts.

The overall quality of his body felt relaxed despite it all – having two orgasms in one night could do that to anyone – yet something just ...didn't feel right. Erik knew quickly it went beyond the physical realm of sensory perception and into lesser known territory: the heart. More specifically, his heart.

Erik rolled over onto his back, and found the other half of Charles' impractically large bed empty. 'Well,' Erik thought, 'that might be one reason as to why today isn't turning out too great.' So far.

Ever the sarcastic optimist, Erik slipped his body from where it was buried beneath the sheets, gathered his clothes and set out for a quick shower in Xavier's private bathroom. Surely the telepath wouldn't mind his using the facilities...not after all they shared together last night.

Last night.

Erik's mind was scattered; reliving the spectrum of things both he and Charles had done and mentally trying to catch up to the day that waited for him, he felt fatigued when he technically had no right to.

Memory took over then, removing Erik from the real and into the once-was. Paused beneath the shower faucet, Erik let the emotion come. In waves, it fell over him, filled him. Damn near drowned him.

Spasming flashes coursed from tip to toe, taking control over – of his mind, his body. Uninvited they swept with a free license: a fevered chill carved its way through scarlet-red blood cells, as if they were bursting open while traveling on their rhythmic way. Beating, beating. Erik's heart was racing at a dangerous level. If it weren't for the shower-head raining down on him, Erik suspected he'd be sweating something unkindly. But no matter how jarring, he wouldn't let it – the all from late night – get the best of him. Erik wouldn't allow something so ...human, so innocent and frivolous to happen to him. Not him.

Images accompanied the pained pleasure now.

Skin on skin, whispers of words he wouldn't dare say aloud. Words that were so near to those fears Erik wouldn't permit inside. There were touches Erik hadn't ever known, shows of truth that soothed the beast – the animal that always lay threateningly ready there. Forever his side occupant. A constant reminder that peace would never lay out on the horizon – war would wage forever. It wouldn't stop, not when it made its home inside of him all those years ago.

Charles had been real though, beneath and above him. All around Erik, the telepath surrounded and completed the savage. A brute no more, Lehnsherr was a feeling person caught up in the throes of ...passion.

Erik doubled over. At one time he'd been standing up, naked, dripping wet in Xavier's mythically perfect shower, but now Erik fought rabidly to keep his feet steady. His head swam alongside the droplets of cascading water as it fell onto shocked skin.

Knowing it then, feeling it deep inside, Erik was terrified.

He was in deeper than he'd ever been. But what Erik couldn't figure out was why, if love was meant to be both infinite and open, did he feel so alone. As if it were a prestigious castle that held light and hope. He couldn't understand why then, if it was meant to be a good thing, that all felt as though the castle itself were crumbling on top of him.

And that castle was Charles Xavier.

________
Thursday, November 2, 1961: 5:49 p.m.

 

"Are we nearly finished with this, Hank?" Charles probed a bowl-like contraption that currently sat atop his head. Cerebro.

Mind aching, both the bones of his skull and the mutant ability itself, plagued at him. Xavier was exhausted, mentally and physically spent from testing all day. And...well, from his excursions with Erik only just last night.

Charles cleared his thoughts of Erik, knowing the timing for such remembrances was all wrong.

Back to the present again.

Hank actually sighed, "Professor, I understand how all-day data configuration and calibration might leave you worse for the wear, but if we're to remain on schedule, I'm afraid we must see these phases through to completion." Charles nodded, happy with Hank's determination and yet unhappy at the blatant disregard for Charles' well-being.

Though to be fair, the pair of them were in deep with their (essentially) assassination plot against a monster of a man. So really, there were plenty of things being left unattended as far as caring was concerned.

Hank stood in front of Charles then, the silence stretching out from their center. "We won't be here too much longer, Professor," McCoy made up for his earlier disregard, the slight guilt he felt for technically speaking out getting the better of him.

Old habits.

Charles smiled submissively, "I'm here as long as you need me to be, Hank. All other obstacles be damned." Charles spoke with renewed attitude but a semi-vicious bite laced to his words. Anyone who could say they knew Charles Xavier well would have immediately picked up on it. However exceptions were made: anyone less busy than say, Hank McCoy, would have noticed the contempt in Xavier's voice.

Charles pulled himself together; fighting against demons as they scratched the thin veils of his will power were trimming away at something else inside. He knew he couldn't pay mind to them until after this deed was done. Everything else must be of less import – Erik included.

His own consciousness was hurting him. Xavier gulped the rock-solid lump that suddenly appeared in the back of his throat. Life was mutating into a foreign entity from a normal Charles had always known. He felt alienated from his old self with the dawn of this determination to kill. Because when it came down to brass tacks, that's what it was: murder.

"Hank I need a moment," Xavier pledged, before easing himself down and out of Cerebro's helmet-connector. The faint telepath hadn't waited on a protest from McCoy. He stepped outside of the spherical room where daylight pierced through his bright-blue eyes.

Checked his watch, 6:12 p.m.

A throat cleared to Charles' left, "you don't look so well, Xavier." Erik.

Of course it was Erik.

Charles feigned happiness, hating himself every second. "No, I'm quite alright, my friend. Simply overwhelmed by the sheer scale of Hank's genius to be perfectly honest." Charles didn't look Erik in the eyes as he blatantly lied to the man.

"Ah-hmm. Well, if there's anything a lowly regular mutant like myself can do...to help you, let me know," Lehnsherr was being sincere, Charles could tell. Erik's hands were dug down into the pit of his charcoal-grey slacks. The German made to leave without so much as another word. That was most unsettling for Charles.

"Erik, I'm sorry I wasn't there this morning...in the room." Erik stopped. He had regretted seeing the bed empty of Xavier this morning, but never thought Charles would apologize. Not for a thing he was sure the telepath had done to more than one man – or woman – in the past.

Turning, Erik smirked, "I didn't expect you to be spooning me in the bright and early, Xavier." Charles laugh-nodded at Erik's attempt at a joke, knowing fully well – and having clearly felt the taller mans disappointment earlier – that it wasn't meant to be anything but that. A joke. The real emotions weren't to be spoken of in the here and now. They were shown in the darkness, with fingertips, with whispers so low one might think they were imagined.

Charles watched as Erik descended from his line of sight, no doubt heading towards the training bunker to seek out Alex. Nothing like throwing metal and liquid fire around to soothe the bruised soul. Or tampered ego. Either or.

Hank was hanging out of the entrance way to the global shape that held so much of the future's chance on its atypical structure. "Professor?" Charles brightened up and started back towards the boy-wonder.

It would be a long day but one that would inevitably lead to a conclusion Charles no longer believed he wanted.

But one the world most definitely deserved.

________
Thursday, November 2, 1961: 11:22 p.m.

 

Charles woke up to the sound of a steady beeping not far off from where he realized he must be. Since they weren't tones he was familiar with, Xavier turned his left and right to scan his surroundings. Slowly he did this. An IV line was taped onto his left hand, it's bottle of hydrating liquid hanging nearby. Immediately afterwards, he saw Erik, Hank and Raven move to be closer to his sides.

"Charles?"
"Professor?"
"Xavier?"

All three had questioned him at the same time, all three silently thanking God that he woke up. 'What in the...' he berated himself, wondering why the worry run so rampant amongst his little group of bedsitters. Loved ones.

He sat up with the help of Erik's lean arms and almost certainly began to regret his decision. "My head feels as though a train ran directly through it ...What happened?"

Hank stepped into focus then, smiling uneasily before, "you-you had...we worked too long today Professor. During those initial stage trials – you remember them? That first test back at CIA HQ where we pinged locations for Darwin, Sean, Angel and Alex? Well that Cerebro design was calibrated to a much lower standard and so nothing came of it. Nothing harmful, I mean. But since you and I have restructured this Cerebro to a much more powerful degree, I'm afraid...well, you had a pretty substantial syncopic episode."

Charles smiled, "I fainted?" Everyone shifted awkwardly around him. Clearly, they didn't appreciate his light, almost jest-like tone. McCoy regretfully stamped the brief joy out of Charles after that. "Well yes, but there were signs of brain seizure activity as well. You fell at some point – harshly disconnecting your mind from the tether. Convulsions were minimal but your body was in a period of rigid stasis. It was rather unnerving, Professor."

Raven wiped at her eyes, and Charles picked up on her horror in having to witness Charles set in such a state. He turned his attentions to her. "Raven dear, I'm alright. Bit of a headache, but I promise you I am okay." He gently patted her blue hand, thankful to feel the roughened scales of her skin beneath.

Charles didn't really know if his statement to her was true or not. Didn't want to think about if it were true or not either. The alternative was too crushing: if he couldn't handle the machine, what good would he do for their mission? Would Hank be disappointed in him – find another telepath?

Hank seemed to have caught on to the change in mood – telepathy not being a part of his excellent people skills – and placed a hand on Xavier's shoulder. "We went on too long with configurations today. I assure you, your ability is not lacking in the least."

'Well that was sweet of him,' Charles growled to himself, nodding but still discontent over the whole ordeal.

A silent, pregnant moment filled the air. Raven's worry was overwhelming, Hank's confidence was telling, but Erik...

Erik was curious about why this happened in the first place – of that Charles could hear loud and clear as it emanated from the German's mind.

The telepath's mental blockers and shields were worn down, so hearing every one of their thoughts at random was making Charles jumpy. It had been a long time since this had happened to him; he was child when he mastered the art of restraining his mutation but now. Now it felt as though he were that determined little child again. Only much more tired.

Erik didn't wait long to share his concerns: "Why is this version of Cerebro built to a higher degree than its former? Isn't the goal the same – to locate fellow mutants and attempt to reign them in? To bring them here?"

Erik bit the tip of his thumbnail as he asked, focus set with an intensity Charles hadn't seen outside of the sheets he was currently laying on. Oh, right. They did have sex yesterday.

'Clear your mind, Charles,' the Englishman said to himself, once again knowing the timing wasn't right for thoughts of such an explicit nature.

Hank looked to Charles, Charles looked to Hank and then there it came, "Charles is getting stronger. We thought it best to increase the capacity and expand the sizable search field." A lesser truth, but truth still.

Raven shook her head. "So what the hell does that mean?"

Erik cut Charles and Hank off before they had the opportunity to speak. His hands dropped to his sides, "Raven, it means they're looking for someone specific this time. Someone farther away and more powerful than the few we've already managed to bring home. To bring here."

Charles was only happy that Alex or Sean hadn't been there to hear the not so subtle dig aimed towards them.