Chapter 1: pieces of me; memories of us
/My hands they shake, my head it spins/Ah Brooklyn, Brooklyn take me in/When at first I learned to speak/I used all my words to fight/
The sand beneath his feet is hot; burning (like his need; want; desire for forgiveness), and he just stares out at the ocean, watching the waves crash against the shore. And he realizes that he doesn't particularly like the beach, though he isn't sure why.
There is no memory to getting here. But he knows he wants to leave, it is but a mild annoyance to him that he doesn't have any shoes; but either way he starts to walk; in what he can only hope is the direction that will lead him away from here.
His mouth is dry, and the sun is hot on his back. He has been traveling for days; and with no money, and nowhere to go, he has been reduced to stealing to get by; something that comes to him with startling ease.
It doesn't bother him. Not the way he thinks he knows it should.
People bother him, though. And he finds he does not like them (but he likes metal; cold and indifferent to the life around it).
There is no direction he finds himself pulled in (no way home; does that mean he doesn't have a home?), and so he walks (and hopes to find a home).
Work is something he thinks he could be good at; and honestly his body tells him that he must have been built for it (there are numbers on his arm that he does not recognize; but if he looks long enough he can feel something tugging at him mind; trying to come back), or at least trained for it (a pain so unbearable that he pulls back before he can fully grasp whatever it is that he is feeling).
So he is relieved when he finds a man who does not care who you are, where you come from, so long as you can work; that relief is short lived when the man asks for his name, he remains silent for a few moments; concentrating only on the pull of the metal equipment around; the tools being used during construction; magnetic.
"My name" his voice is hoarse from lack of use, and there is a definite pause, "… Magnus." He finishes with a scowl; it tastes wrong on his tongue.
He is put to work with a man to teach him what they do here; a man shorter than him, but looks as if he could hold his own in a fight between them (there is a pull toward this other man; something that courses through him, and shutters out again, sending tingling sensations through him, and out his fingertips). His voice s gruff; but he gives him a look as if to say 'I know you.'. They only talk when it is necessary.
At the end of the day he finds himself in a small bar; the beer doesn't taste right to him, the setting doesn't make him feel comfortable; and the empty stool beside him leaves something to be desired, and he knows he is missing something (Someone) important.
There is nothing here for him. And he knows that in time he will move on; and search for whatever (Whoever) it is he is missing.
Time makes fools of us all, and before he realizes it, he has stayed until the job is complete.
He and the other man, the only one he really talked to; and yet he still does not know, are standing together outside the bar; a farewell that does not taste quite so bitter as it should (as bitter as the one he remembers; yet cannot pull up from the dregs of his mind).
An awkward joke; a soft pat on the shoulder, and his sort-of-friend is climbing on a motorcycle, asking him what he'll do now; where he'll go, and a soft smile graces his lips, a shrug of the shoulders; though he knows he will look (for home), and he will search.
There is a hesitation about his sort-of-friend, a scowl firmly in place; guilt plain in his expression, a soft confusion in his words as he reminds him that they'll see each other again (doesn't say that they will both find their way home in time). There's something there. Hidden in those words, that goes unrevealed as the other man pulls away from the curb; and the bike rumbles down the street.
The cities get bigger; the pull toward metal becomes stronger. And so does he. It is quite easy to recognize the powers inside once he first surrounds himself with metal.
Cool in his hands it becomes a weapon; but he doesn't understand why his mind automatically goes to that direction. He tries to control himself, but humans really are intolerable, and he doesn't like them.
Though enjoyment is easy to come by in the city, he finds himself in the country within no time.
It's nice; and there is no violence.
He realizes soon, that more than anything else in the world he yearns for a world without the need to hurt; to destroy; to tarnish innocence.
He yearns for love.
In the quiet of the night, as he lies awake under the stars (wishing; hoping; praying; begging; breaking), he is almost certain he hears someone calling out to him; or who he once was.
And though the whispers promise (forgiveness; home; hope) love, he closes his eyes to it.
Work is easy enough to find; and he finds that animals rather enjoy him, as he does them. The people here are good people, and that yearning for what is right; what is just in the world keeps him at peace with them; keeps his darker instincts from lashing out at these innocents; because war, and blood, death and violence, he realizes, are not the answer to anything; pain and punishment, upon the innocents, is never an answer to what few have done to many; and he realizes that now (it is too late, though; and with each smile, each gentle word, and careful understanding he feels something break inside; though he refuses to shatter under the weight of it).
(It's too late, part of him screams inside, you're too late; as usual.)
Doesn't respond to the resounding war stole my everything that crashes into something in the back of his mind (and that thought has absolutely nothing to do with the numbers on his arm; has everything to do with the dull ache inside that he can't seem to understand).
It ends with him here, he realizes.
Here in this shop; working for an old woman, who lost her son in WWII. They fit together well, he thinks; and he smiles every day; a genuine, true smile.
He stays, not because he feels obligated, but because he feels like he belongs here.
Holiday seasons come, and he feels strange, out of place; wrong, but they celebrate her way; because he doesn't know what his way is.
It tears through him, at dinner, in a way he doesn't understand; can't quite fathom-[it's a very beautiful memory, Erik]-it hurts his head; and his heart in a way he'd like to deny-[thank you]. The very voice in his mind brings a pain (a regret; dashed hopes, and broken hearts) he'd like to be rid of; but the rest of the evening is laid out before him, and he forces himself through.
And if he trembles a little as he raises his glass to his lips, no one seems to notice.
After two years he feels something he doesn't understand (run, it tells him, run and don't look back). Things are no different now than they've been, and he's sure his confusion is palpable; but no one seems to notice, or mind really. Confusion turns to annoyance (at not being able to understand what he's feeling), and annoyance turns to anger.
But he doesn't leave; he can't.
Several days later, the woman that had taken him in as her son, has died. His path to leave is cleared.
But he stays to shut the shop down. To say goodbye.
Something he'd never had the chance to do, before.
The door opens as he's taping the last box shut; he doesn't turn around, despite the pulling feeling behind him that indicates a large quantity of metal. He doesn't speak, doesn't tell them the shop has been shut down, because it's his fault for not putting the sign in the window.
"Excuse me" a shiver courses through him, and his hands start to shake, "I do believe I'm lost." A blow to his pride to admit such a thing, he's sure, "I-…" a thrumming through him; a headache pounding at the back of his eyes; an intrusion in his mind.
Walls breaking down, crumbling around them; unease, and pain shattering him as he turns to face the other man (what have I done, runs through his mind like a mantra), the need for forgiveness (love; hope; help) is breaking through him. And he falls to his knees without realizing it.
An outstretched hand (and it's so much more than a hand; it's a lifeline, an acceptance, a plea; a pity. It is life restored to him), and his trembling fingers wrap around those before him.
He isn't quite himself just yet; but for years now he's been leaking back in; bits and pieces (and memories of the man before him; blood and sand; and tears and sweat; the only love he had known; and a life he missed dearly.).
And here and now he's willing to let it all come flooding back in; accept the help offered, as he grips the hand, and places soft kisses to the skin, as if kissing the ring of a saint; and really, he feels as if he might as well be.
"Charles." He says it; begs; pleads; cries; shatters, and falls to pieces before the man; friend; love; life; human; mutant; everything, that he had once held dear.
A forgiving touch; the others hand comes out to stroke his hair; a soft chuckle, and he knows now that he is, has been; always was, forgiven.
A/N: If any knowledge of the original series, this will make sense. Just view it as someone, a telepath, repressed Erik's memories, and set him free… as per usual Cherik if you want
What is this, I don't even. Technically X-men: First Class, heavily influenced by the comics where Charles was (hurr hurr) wiping Erik's memories, so that Erik would stop getting in his way.
Chapter 2: the past is passed; look forward
Chapter two; though the second chapter, is actually set before both chapter one, and chapter three (and chapter three is set before chapter one...)
There was always that incessant tug, dragging him back to the mansion; he wouldn't approach it, would hover in the vicinity watching, waiting; and when he knew Charles would be asleep he would fly in, open the windows silently, and step into the room that he had once shared. He would watch the other sleep- he was never sure just how long he would stand there (sometimes until the day was dawning); sometimes he would pull the helmet off, become caught in the current of Charles' thoughts. He would be dragged into the dreams the other man was forming. And they would both be lost in a land where they caused each other no pain; where there was no oppression.
Sometimes they would sit on a bench in the park, look off into the abyss until one of them felt the need to speak (usually Charles), and more often than not Charles would say something so strange that Erik just did not understand it; I never meant for this to happen- but I am only human, you realize Erik? I missed you so terribly at times it took my breath away.
Now, though, there is only a dull ache in the back of my mind; sometimes I think it's regret- because I hadn't meant to make it happen; it simply had. But I know, it is merely eternity; waiting on us.
He never stayed long enough to become noticed by anyone; though leaving was more painful than it should have been, considering the fact that he had already left so many times before that he should have been desensitized by it (how long had it been, he wondered, since he'd started this pattern that he couldn't break? How long would it be before things trembled, and broke around them? How long before Charles would just wake up and find him standing there?).
It was a good thing, he thought, that Eternity was waiting on them; because if they had a limited amount of time, he wasn't sure he would be able to fix this.
Tonight, Erik had decided before he'd come out here, was going to be the night that he tried to fix things; as a show of faith he had even left his helmet at home.
So tonight he went in through the study window; where Charles was working.
The windows opened effortlessly (as usual; and part of him wondered why Charles kept so much metal in his house when his enemy was the Master of Magnetism? The rest of him knew why; it was to call him home) and Erik let his feet touch the floor; graceful (and a bit dramatic) as always. "Good evening, Charles." he drawled; but there was something wrong.
There was no familiar warmth; no welcoming smile; no fond exasperation in his eyes; no love to be found.
And this wasn't how it should be. Charles shouldn't look so shocked (mildly horrified; frightened), shouldn't have dropped his pen; shouldn't have that look that said I need to run.
Charles should know he wouldn't ever hurt him.
Pushing the strange behavior aside Erik went to pour himself a drink, "I've come to speak with you." he said as if they were meeting for brunch; and not as if he had just broken into the other man's house in the middle of the night.
"You could have set an appointment." Charles said slowly; a strangely guarded tone to his voice. The fear in the room was practically palpable, and Erik was confused.
"Yes, well" Erik shrugged (could feel Charles eyes tracing the outline of his shoulders; could feel Charles' mind seeping in around the edges of his, trying not to be detected) "they don't respond kindly to hearing Erik Lehnsherr for Charles Xavier, please." it was meant to be a light tease, but when he turned toward Charles he saw such shock that it was confusing.
"What's wrong, old friend?" Erik finally asked; because he couldn't stand the fact that Charles wasn't pleased he was here (without the helmet) couldn't stand that Charles hadn't come around to see him like a friend; but stayed behind the desk as if he were talking with a stranger.
"Pardon?" Charles' brow furrowed, and he canted his head to the side; Erik's breath caught in his throat at that quizzical look, "Do I... know you?"
Erik's equator seemed to snap- the control he used to keep Charles' out of his mind shattered like the glass at his feet; and he felt that gentle warmth seeping into him; saw the clear confusion written in Charles' features; and he felt like he was going to die.
"No" Erik finally said, pushing weakly against Charles' presence in his mind, "I suppose you don't." because he could feel the emptiness there when Charles reached out to him; there was no more love.
"Heh," he moved back toward the window, catching his cape and holding onto Magneto, because Erik was crumbling underneath this realization; Charles had erased him-and just to cause the other man pain he pushed forward the memories of those nights they'd held each other; breathed each other in; lived each other, and only each other- "don't suppose you ever have.
"Ever will, actually. You may think it was bad before, think you've felt pain, suffered- think you know true pain, but that was nothing compared to what will happen now. You thought it was frightening before-thought Magneto was something terrible; but wait, Charles, now you will feel the full force of the Master of Magnetisms wrath. Death will come easily, war will destroy your feeble dream. There will be blood.
"The death of innocence" Erik-no, it was Magneto-said as he raised up off of the floor, "is going to be the most painful thing the human race-and you too, have ever felt."
"War?" Charles' voice trembled; and there was something there in his mind, a presence of His Charles, but Magneto shoved it away violently; it was too late for Charles to reach out now; this was an unforgivable offense.
"War." Magneto breathed out, "The thing that creates monsters like me. Breeds pacifists like you." he arched a brow as he glanced back at Charles, and the other man frowned as he began trying to push his way back into Erik's mind; to feel that fire of passion which had been thrust violently upon him.
"Let us hope that next we meet... one of us will be prepared to die." and just like that he was gone. The metal on Charles' desk vibrated slightly, and he watched the windows with a frown; what had he done?
There's an echo in his mind, that he knows is Erik's voice; just barely a whisper on the edges of his mind, and he knows it's not something the man who has just vanished said; because there's a tinge to it; it is aged, it is a memory of his, and he is utterly lost right now; Love is always the first casualty of war.
Under the realization that he may have just started a war, Charles feels his shoulders sag, draws his hands up to cover his face because the echo of Well our love will certainly never fall prey to such an awful thing as war is deafening, and these are his words; his promises.
And whatever should come next is his fault; he will live with that guilt; he will shoulder it until such a time when Magneto can be made as vulnerable again as he was tonight; a time when he will lower his defenses around Charles; because this is Charles' burden to carry; Charles' burden to bury.
And the X-men will not live with this blood on their hands, on his behalf.
This is his failure; and his alone.
Chapter 3: strangers once; we are again
There's blood running down his face; over his lips down his chin; cascading in a beautiful way that looks like what death will surely feel like when it comes for Charles (and he's sure it will soon; for this is unforgivable).
His legs give out; he doesn't scream, and maybe if he did it would make things better (the fact that they are in the sand; water washing up the shore, the scent of war shrouding the air, doesn't escape Charles; he appreciates Erik's theatrics; it makes this a little easier for him).
It is almost as if he had already resigned himself to this fate long before Charles had ever come to the conclusion that this was the only way to stop things.
I'm sorry, Erik his voice ghosts over the other man's mind; and for a brief moment Erik draws his eyes up to Charles' eyes; a smile on his lips that makes no sense considering the situation; and Charles prepares himself for the most painful thing he's ever had to do, and Erik's voice cuts through his mind painfully,
I knew you were a selfish bastard his brow furrows, and Erik keeps grinning; but Charles see the pain in his eyes, the tears they used to both deny, can't get what you want from me- can't change me, so you're just going to get rid of me? There's no way to reasonably respond to that; no reason because Erik will not know what he'd said in but a few minutes time.
And yet; I tried to help you Erik, you wouldn't allow it
It starts in a sweeping motion, coming up from his past, and he hears a hollow laugh echoing in his mind; feels like it will be trapped there forever, Help me? You never came after me there's something there in his voice that makes Charles' head spin,
You never came back to me either, Erik
I did his voice holds a growl that makes Charles shiver, but you'd erased me
… what would you have had me do? Live with that pain every day? He knew that was a stupid question, because Erik had always been a little selfish where he was concerned,
What like me? Erik counters, and Charles closes his eyes against the pain,
You caused the pain, my friend, I could only relieve myself of it; only you could have relieved you of the pain, you had caused
Bullshit. Charles knew that he was right. Which was odd. It was an awful feeling having to admit that he could have done something, but deliberately hadn't,
You could have come home, Erik
That was never my home. You were my home; heart and soul; and you know that
A soft sigh escapes him, and he can hear the unsure tone seeping into Erik's voice, for he had just obliterated that memory of pulling Erik from the ocean; his own words echo in his mind painfully, and a tear runs down his cheek as he watches Erik's memories unravel around that one
I... what? The confusion tears at Charles' in a way he doesn't care to stop
I love you, Erik his voice washes over Erik, and the other man blinks slowly as Charles touches his fingertips to his temple, "Do I know you?" Erik asks, there's something painful in his expression, and Charles remains silent, but for the projection of Sleep.
As Erik hits the ground Charles looks away, wipes the tear from his cheek with his thumb; refuses to allow himself to bend and break under the burden of Erik's memories; all the while wondering how someone could live under such pain, alone.