Charles knew that there would once come the day where Erik would end up leaving. After all, no matter how well they got along, their ideals would one day pull them apart. That it would be on the day he would be lying injured on a beach in Cuba hadn’t been in his plans. He had watched with what he hoped to be a calm expression as Erik left his side, stood with his sister and a few others some meters away from him, disappearing into a thin veil of smoke.
Only then did he feel the pain that was spreading through his whole back, his hands grasping for the first person who was close.
“Charles don’t move.”
“I can’t feel my legs.”
“I can’t feel my legs.”
It suddenly became way too much and reality of what had happened came crashing down on him.
Everything ended up being rather blurry from there on. Charles could remember that they had somehow gotten away from Cuba, and that he had ended up in a hospital bed. Everyone standing around him, telling him over and over again that it was going to be all right. But there was so much pain, and neither Raven or Erik were there to soothe it, so all Charles could do in the end was to scream.
Then the pain finally faded, the voices left, and he found himself drifting into a deep exhausted sleep.
He awoke a few times, only to fall asleep again when the pain became too much. The foggyness of the morphium overwhelming his senses once more. It took Charles almost a week until he managed to lie in bed without the pain and panic flooding his mind whenever he realised again that he indeed couldn’t feel his legs.
The private hospital room was empty as he awoke, the late afternoon sun was streaming through the windows and Charles could tell that someone had just been there with him from the half empty glass on the table next to his bed. His whole body felt groggy, hands sluggish as he tried to push himself up into a sitting position. They slipped two times along the soft sheets before he gave up, his mind once more reassessing the situation.
He had been shot.
Erik was gone.
Raven had gone along with him.
He was left alone.
Charles took in a deep calming breath and closed his eyes again for a moment. He could slowly hear the voices becoming louder around him again. Voices begging to leave this place, asking for mercy, begging to a god that in Charles’ eyes didn’t exist. Of course there were also the happy ones in between, the very quiet ones of the newborns who could do nothing more than cry. He let himself relax in the last part of his life that hadn’t been taken away from him.
He could do this. Charles knew that he could. Still there was now this empty feeling inside of his chest, that the small family he had started to create in his head had been torn apart. Again.
You can do this Charles. You’ve been through worse.
Taking in another calming breath, he opened his eyes again just in time as the door opened to his room and Moira walked in. Truth to be told he had been hoping that she would have disappeared after all of this, but apparently she seemed to be keen on sticking around.
“Charles! Oh my god, you’re awake! Are you alright?” Moira asked instantly sounding rather concerned.
“I am alright,” Charles replied, and he was not surprised at how calm he managed to sound. It was always like this around others. Always calm and controlled Charles. No matter how much he wished he could let go, he would not. Even when he could instantly read the pity from Moira’s mind, without even having to concentrate to search for it, he simply continued to smile at her not letting himself be phased by her emotions.
“We were all so concerned,” she continued and Charles just smiled, attempting to listen to her ramble on while his mind was already somewhere else again.
Erik had been right in a few things. Humans were so simple. They didn’t get the complexity of a Mutant, and how life was a constant measure of control to protect himself. Charles let out a small sigh and attempted to let go of these dark thoughts, knowing that they would lead him to nowhere.
“Sorry, you were saying?” he asked after a while, too tired to delve into Moira’s mind and search for the last words she had said.
“I said that if everything goes well, the doctors will let you go into rehabilitation next week.”
“So they’re sure there is nothing to be done?”
Charles had to admit that he had preferred the pain then to the sudden frankness of it all.
“I am sorry Moira, I think I am just going to get some more rest if you don’t mind,” Charles said quietly, turning his head away and gazing emotionless towards the window. He could feel her uncertainty come off from her in waves, but she seemed to be able to convince herself to leave and Charles only relaxed by the time he could hear her footsteps leave the room and the door close behind her.
He was alone again, just as life seemed to have it opted out for him.
The doctors called it shock when they came to check on Charles a few hours later and found him staring quietly at the window. They had tried to talk to him, but Charles felt like he couldn’t give them any kind of answer. He knew sooner or later he would have to pick himself up again, but right now he just wanted to be what people would claim he was, human. Eventually one after another they came to visit him, attempted to talk to him, attempted to make him eat and drink. When the doctors at the end almost threatened to force feed him, and Charles was sure that a tube down his nose wouldn’t feel good, he relented.
Yet as the week passed by Charles couldn’t find any peace with his mind, and the eerie calmness that had been surrounding him at first was soon replaced with anger and panic. It ended with Charles on the floor, bruised and so broken that by the time he was back in bed it felt like the whole world had come down crashing on him. It just didn’t seem fair, and he found himself screaming again as pain rushed through his body once more.
They called it phantom pain, and Charles could remember voices begging him to hold on. That everything would be alright. He just had to hold on.
Life became foggy again and Charles couldn’t help but relish in the feeling, the knowledge that for a while there wasn’t any responsibility he had to bear.
When life became painfully clear again, the world was quiet around him. Letting out a soft groan, Charles forced his eyes to open, blinking a few times into the darkness surrounding him. When he finally managed to focus, he realised that he was still in the same room he had been before, but still something was different. He slowly realised that someone was holding his hand, and he twitched his fingers experimentally, a small gasp instantly going through the room. It was followed by a second hand on his head, carding slowly through his hair.
“Go back to sleep Charles.”
Charles’s mind immediately grew completely alert as he recognized that voice, and he pulled his hand away from the other holding it as if the touch had scalded his skin.
“What are you doing here?” Charles asked, attempting to sound composed, frowning as he realised that he had completely failed.
“It’s in the middle of the night Charles, go back to sleep,” Erik’s deep voice replied. And while Charles couldn’t completely make him out in the dark he could imagine the sight of Erik all too well.
“You wish! You can’t just come back and then act like nothing has happened!” Charles almost shouted, and he reached up to pull the hand out of his hair. Every touch felt like it burned, the anger and pain only seemed to grow inside of him again.
“Will you be quiet. You’ll wake up the whole hospital!” Erik hissed, and Charles could see the other man pushing himself up to stand at the side of the bed.
“You left me on the beach!” Charles only snarled in return, attempting to push himself up on his elbows and in a sitting position. “You left me there! So what the fuck are you doing here?!”
At first there was no reply, and Charles was indeed worried for a moment that he had woken everyone in hearing distance around him. He forced his mind to reach out to his surroundings, finding everything calm and quiet. There was only one mind that seemed to be at unease. So terribly concerned and confused at the same time. It took Charles a moment to realise that it was Erik’s.
For a while neither of them said anything and Charles wondered if Erik was just going to leave again. Charles didn’t know if he would be able to bear it if the other man left again, because no matter how much he had tried not to, he had grown so attached to him. He remembered clearly every evening they spend together. Every talk they had shared, every game played, and every night that they spend in each other’s beds. No matter how much he had tried to deny it, he had fallen in love with the other man.
“I thought you’d be happy if I’d come back,” Erik suddenly said, and he sounded so vulnerable for moment that it made Charles’s heart constrict in his chest. It made Charles unable to say anything in return; because how could you tell the man you loved how angry you were when all he tried was to set it right in his own way.
Uncomfortable silence settled between them again, and Charles slowly managed to make out Erik in the dark. He was still angry at Erik, there was no denying that, but right now all the energy had left him and the thought that everything could be like it had been before was so much more tempting.
Without warning Erik’s hands were suddenly cupping his face, his body leaning forward so that their noses almost touched.
“You’ve got to let me make this right again, Charles. Are you listening to me? You can’t give up now. You’re Charles Xavier, and you’re going to walk again. I am going to make sure of that,” Erik said his voice firm and full of conviction which Charles hadn’t been able to muster up for himself ever since he had woken up in this hospital.
There was so much logic missing in this whole conversation, and Charles wanted to do nothing else but to explain to Erik how impossible this was. Didn’t the man know that spinal cord injuries couldn’t be cured? That there was no way out of this, and that he should just leave Charles to dwell in his misery. Still he couldn’t, and instead his mind grasped so tightly on the idea that everything would be alright again, no matter what cost.
“Charles! Are you listening to me!” Erik repeated once more, sounding rather urgent.
Charles nodded slowly, swallowing the heavy lump that had formed in his throat. “Okay,” he replied hoarsely as he eventually found his voice again, finally feeling the tension fade in the room and his exhaustion instantly return.
“Good... good... now go back to sleep,” Erik said, his voice quieter this time. The hands left Charles’s face, and he could hear the chair scraping closer to the bed. One hand returned to hold Charles’ own and the other back into his hair, this time not feeling like it burned, but sending a comforting feeling through his mind and letting him drift back into a deep sleep.
When Charles awoke the next morning the sun was already streaming through the windows of the room, and the smell of pancakes tickled his nose. Groaning softly, he slowly opened his eyes, widening in surprise as he saw that Erik was indeed at his bedside.
“The sleeping beauty has finally awoken,” Erik teased, getting up from the chair he was sitting on and while Charles was processing the thought that Erik was still there, he pressed a button to level up the head of Charles’s bed.
“You’re here,” Charles mumbled, still very much asleep. He groaned again as he felt the bed move, which was followed quickly by a frown as the side table with said pancakes was pushed over his lap.
“Yes, and I’d be grateful if you’d eat your breakfast,” Erik replied, moving to sit down on the edge of the bed and looking at Charles with an expectant expression. Still feeling overwhelmed by all of this, since he had been sure for a moment that he had just dreamed everything that happened last night, he reached out for the fork. Tentatively Charles sliced himself a piece and put it into his mouth, still watching Erik closely as he ate it.
“And another bite, don’t tempt me to start having to feed you.”
//You’re really here.//
“Of course I am, now eat. The quicker you’ve finished the earlier I can get you out of this place,” Erik continued and Charles could now clearly see how tense the other man was.
“Leave?” Charles asked between bites of pancakes, feeling his hunger eventually return to him.
“Of course. I told you I was going to help you Charles,” Erik replied and then moved to get up from the bed. Charles watched as the other man walked over to the small closet in the room and started to pack Charles’ belongings, which weren’t a lot really.
“Where are we going then?” Charles asked instead, having finally gotten over the shock that Erik was indeed here and relishing in the fact that he would be able to leave this hospital for good. Taking another bite of the pancake, he let himself relax back into the bed.
“To the mansion of course. McTaggart is coming to pick us up,” Erik replied as a matter of fact and Charles almost choked on his food in process. He coughed a few times and then glared at Erik as the man simply looked at him with a raised eyebrow.
“Well I thought you were at the mansion. Took me a little bit of convincing to get them to tell me what was wrong,” he explained and then walked back over to the bed as soon as he had finished packing. Charles, still not knowing if he should believe all of this, simply finished eating his pancake. For a while neither of them said anything, and he could feel Erik’s eyes on him as he ate. He had never known for Erik to be like this, so protective of him, and his anger flared briefly, feeling like he was momentarily treated like a child which had misbehaved.
Once Charles was done, Erik came silently back over to the bed, pushing the tray away again and pulling back the blanket covering Charles. Without asking for permission he reached out to pull the hospital gown Charles was wearing off over his head, and then started to help him into a fresh pair of pants and shirt, followed by what seemed rather warm pair of socks.
“I could have done that myself,” Charles noted, having to admit that he felt a lot more comfortable in his own clothes now.
“Sure you could have,” Erik retorted, a small smirk tugging at the corner of his lips and Charles wanted to do nothing else but kiss it off the other man’s lips.
Time seemed to be standing still as he was fully dressed, letting out a small whimper in surprise as he felt Erik’s hand on his cheek. The touch was so gentle that he almost hadn’t felt it at first, and Charles was about to reach up and pull the man close as the door opened. Erik pulled away in such a rush that Charles plopped back on to the pillows with a small ‘unf’, almost glaring at the doctor as he came into the room.
Making the doctor agree to let Charles leave had been easier than expected. Apparently Erik had already been there the day before and had caused quite the hassle. Charles couldn’t help but feel a little bit amused with how the doctor was visibly keeping a distance from Erik, avoiding eye contact as much as possible and just talking to Charles. Whenever Erik cleared his throat in between he almost jumped and Charles could understand it in some kind of way. If Charles weren’t a powerful mutant himself, he would be intimidated as well.
By the time that the doctor had left and all the papers had been signed, it was already time to leave. Erik had helped Charles into a wheelchair that had been standing at the side of the room, and had wheeled him out of the hospital and to the car waiting with Moira by it. She seemed rather subdued as they greeted her by the car and he wondered for a moment what she and Erik had discussed when he had been at the mansion. What made him even more curious was why Erik had been there in there in the first place, but that was something he would have to discuss with Erik later when they were alone.
The drive itself to the Mansion was silent and uneventful, and Charles sat quietly at the back while Moira was at the front with Erik. He was sure if he hadn’t been there the two would probably not be getting this close to another. After all of that had happened at Cuba, she had been the one with the gun and Erik had been the one to deflect the bullet. Still she had stayed and he had left. Somehow that made the whole situation even more unrealistic.
When they arrived at the mansion Hank, Sean and Alex were already waiting for them. They didn’t spend a lot of time talking to one another however. Erik had quickly declared that Charles needed his rest and without further ado had picked the other man up in his arms and carried him up the stairs to his bedroom. Charles had wanted to protest, but instead had just wrapped his arms around Erik’s neck instead, smiling apologetically and letting the other man carry him.
His bedroom was still the same as they entered it, and Charles could feel some of the tension from the last weeks leave his body. Still nothing was back to normal. He had quickly noticed that while Erik was back, Angel wasn’t to be seen anywhere and neither was Raven, a thought that saddened him a little. It made him worry that after Erik would have done what he felt he needed to, he would leave again. That no matter how much Charles wanted this to work out that it wouldn’t.
“What were you doing here in the first place?” he couldn’t help but ask as Erik put him down on the bed and helped him to get into a sitting position.
Erik halted for a moment in his steps, followed by a heavy sigh. He moved to sit down on the edge of the bed and help Charles to get out of his shoes. His hands, as if he needed the distraction, rubbing slowly up Charles’s legs.
“Emma Frost has disappeared,” Erik eventually said after a while, and Charles immediately attempted to sit up a little straighter.
“Disappeared? You don’t think she’s out there to try and get revenge for Shaw?” Charles asked quietly, for once glad that he didn’t feel anything in his legs because Erik’s hands would definitely be a very unneeded distraction.
“I am not sure, but you know her as well as I do. She had the same plans as Shaw. I could imagine her wanting to continue his plans if she got the chance,” Erik said looking up at Charles with a serious expression. Neither of them said anything for a while, and it was Erik who spoke first.
“I came here because I wanted to warn you. I know you’re a stronger telepath then her, but not everyone here can shut her out like you do... and then I heard of what had happened,” Charles could hear how Erik’s voice faltered for a moment and his hand out of instinct reached out for Erik’s, grasping on to it gently. He could feel Erik’s hand tense a little in surprise, making Charles almost pull back. He wasn’t sure where either of them stood right now, especially now after he had heard about Emma. He had always thought that she would side with Erik if given the opportunity, now she was a threat to both of them and that, he had to admit, wasn’t a very a comfortable thought.
“Did you really think she was going to come here?” Charles asked, tentatively threading his fingers with Erik’s.
“I am hoping she won’t, but one can’t be sure,” Erik replied and then pulled his hand away again. Charles let out a small sigh and looked over towards the large windows for a moment. He couldn’t understand Erik right now, but he wasn’t going to push himself into the other man’s mind. He had promised Erik he would never go into his mind without permission, and it was a promise that he wasn’t going to break now.
“Is there something I should know?” Charles however couldn’t help but ask, looking at Erik with a thoughtful expression.
“No Charles, nothing,” Erik replied calmly. The two just stared at another for a while and Charles could feel the temptation growing in him, but quickly pushing it away again.
“I am going to make you some lunch, you better get some rest,” Erik said after a while and then moved to get up, heading for the door.
“Hey! You’re just going to leave me here?!” Charles asked incredulously, looking a little panicked for a moment.
“Don’t worry, I’ll send you entertainment,” Erik replied but didn’t turn around to look back at him. Charles let out a small frustrated sound and then watched Erik leave, once more reminded why he had been in the hospital in the first place. He was paralyzed. That meant he couldn’t move his legs anymore, and it meant that he was stuck in his bed until someone would come to help him.
//Erik! You just can’t leave me here!//
//Don’t worry, calm yourself Charles someone is coming already.//
Seconds later Moira stepped into his bedroom, and Charles let out a small sigh. So much for life getting easier.
The rest of the day Charles spend either talking to Moira and the others, or having Erik in his room. When the evening came things got a little bit more complicated. Erik had sent everyone out of the room and had then without any warning started to prepare Charles for bed.
“You don’t need to do this,” Charles had said quietly, but it had only been greeted with a small grunt. Once Charles had been put in bed, Erik retreated to his own room just next to Charles’s. Sleep didn’t come easy that night.
The next few days Charles simply spend recovering from the time in the hospital. Which mostly contained of Erik and him acting like they were walking on egg shells, the air tense and their tone polite as if the wrong word or movement would break everything. Erasing Moira’s mind of any of memories of the mansion and sending her away (much to his dismay but Charles had quickly understood the dangers of having her at the mansion, not only for her but also for them), and having Azazel pop in and out whenever he felt like it. Sometimes he tried to ask for Raven, the protectiveness and worry for his sister rising inside of him, but at the end never really daring to. On the surface everything was so well organized, but underneath it all felt so fragile, that it reminded Charles over and over again that Erik would leave once all this was over. It made him want to be selfish. It made him not want to walk again, keep Erik here until he would decide never to leave again. However Charles wasn’t like that, and chastised himself before any of those thoughts took hold of his mind.
It all started to be so domestic, and he could even see the kids getting used to having Erik around again that it almost felt like nothing had happened at all. The only thing that still reminded him that something was different was of Erik not sharing his bed.
Charles felt like the tension between them would snap any moment, and while Erik was already making plans on how to make Charles to walk again, Charles simply didn’t want to hear anything about it.
So when the first week had eventually gone by, Charles had found himself lying awake in his bed in the middle of the night. Before Cuba he would have gone out to have a jog, now he was doomed to lie here and wait for sleep to take over again.
Letting out a heavy sigh, Charles once more closed his eyes, hoping to get some more sleep as he heard a noise. Frowning, he pushed himself up on his elbows and scanned the area with his mind tensing instantly. Quickly searching out for Erik’s as soon as he assessed the situation.
Charles groaned as he realised that the other man was very much asleep, nudging it sharply to coax it awake.
//There are people in the mansion.//
Charles attempted to push himself out of the bed, his mind the whole time trying to find out how many there were, but something seemed to be stopping him. He had just somehow managed to get his feet on the floor as Erik came rushing into the room.
“How many?” Erik asked breathlessly, striding quickly over to the bed and picking Charles up in his arms.
“I don’t know, there someone stopping me,” Charles replied, this time not complaining as Erik picked him up and instantly wrapping his arms around Erik’s neck.
“Emma,” Erik muttered darkly and then carried Charles out of the bedroom.
“We need to wake up everyone else!” Charles pointed out as he saw Erik heading straight for the emergency exit.
“We have to get you safe first,” Erik said back angrily, but stopped at the sounds of guns being loaded around them.
“Give Xavier to us Lehnsherr and no one will get hurt,” Charles could hear someone say behind him, instantly feeling Erik’s hold tighten around him. For a while nothing happened and then Erik seemed to make a move to have a run for it. He looked once over Erik’s shoulder and cursed softly as he saw a group of military quickly come up close behind them. He still wanted to warn Erik, trying to remember the safest way out, when seconds later Charles could hear one of the guns being charged, and he found himself tumbling to the floor with Erik lying unconscious next to him. Groaning he pushed himself up into a sitting position and pulled Erik protectively in his arms, growing tense as he felt the blood on Erik’s shoulder.
“Don’t come any closer,” he said angrily as he saw the men closing in on them.
“Take Xavier and kill anyone who gets in the way,” the man who was the leader said in the background.
“You didn’t say anything about killing anyone!” Charles frowned as he suddenly heard Emma’s voice in the background, his hold tightening around Erik’s shoulders.
“Well dear, I couldn’t tell you everything now could I?”
Charles took the distraction to slowly lift his hand spare hand to his head, closing his eyes and concentrating on taking control of every mind that was in the room. He stopped as he realised that he was also pushing into Emma’s, wincing for a moment at the cold feeling that hit him and instantly letting go of it again. Once he was sure he had everyone he needed, Charles let out a long sigh and closed his eyes.
Charles had never liked inflicting his powers like this on to anyone, and had promised himself that he would make sure to let no one come to harm. This right now was self defence, he had to do this and after all he was simply beckoning them to do something else. Still it gave him an uneasy feeling and his other hand clenched in Erik’s nightshirt while slowly one by one the military men left, leaving Emma just standing there and looking at Charles with a quiet and unreadable expression.
“Why did you do that?” she ended up asking in a subdued manner, as if she couldn’t understand why Charles had just protected them without a hint of doubt.
“Because at times like these we need to stick together,” Charles said seriously and then looked down at Erik. He could see the blood now seeping through his shirt on the man’s shoulder, feeling momentarily helpless at the thought of Erik gotten hurt because of him, and right now he couldn’t do anything to help him.
Quickly pushing those thoughts from his mind Charles turned practical. It didn’t take long before the rest of the house was awake, Erik’s wound was treated (which only lead to him attempting to take charge of the whole situation again), pack their bags and leave. Charles didn’t like leaving the mansion; it was his home and safe haven, the only place where he had felt like he could finally get some strength back. However there was no other way and some day they would return, and maybe next time it wouldn’t go as smoothly.
In the end it was Emma’s idea to go into one of Shaw’s previous hideouts, a well protected house in the woods, big enough to house them all and maybe some other mutants as well.
By the time they finally reached the house everyone seemed to be rather tired, and he couldn’t stop himself from letting out a small yawn himself as Erik pushed him towards one of the bedrooms he had apparently decided was for Charles. Charles watched the other man closely as he did so. Hank had told Erik to take it easy, the shot was not fatal but it would need time to heal and the hit against the head from falling to the ground had probably left a slight concussion. Still Erik had shown no signs of backing down and resting. Charles knew from experience that Erik was only going to relax once he deemed everything save.
This apparently seemed to include sharing a room with Charles.
Once Charles had gotten settled into bed, ready to sleep away the exhaustion of the last few hours and expecting as usual for Erik to leave again, he was more than surprised as he saw Erik getting ready for bed himself.
“What?” Erik asked as he realised that Charles was watching him.
“Are you staying here for the night?” Charles couldn’t stop himself from asking, pushing himself up on his elbows.
“Of course, you didn’t think I’d leave you alone after what happened,” Erik replied as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
//You didn’t stay the other nights,// Charles projected, and for a moment he was scared that he might have said the wrong thing, because Erik just suddenly stood there not saying anything at all.
“I didn’t think you’d want me to,” Erik finally said, his voice quiet and rather serious.
“I’ll always want you here Erik,” Charles said when he finally managed to answer.
At first nothing happened, then eventually Erik moved towards the bed and it felt like time was standing still as Erik leaned over to kiss Charles very gently on the lips. It felt like the first time they had kissed, all tentative and so full of inexplicable emotions. It felt like coming home.
The first two weeks passed by in a blur.
It took them a while to get properly settled in the house, for a routine to grow between them all since they shared a smaller house now. Slowly as every day went by it became easier, and Charles could even see Emma’s distrust slowly leave her mind and warming up to them.
After the first week when Erik finally dared to leave his side again, Charles was more than surprised when he came back with Raven and Azazel in tow. It had been awkward at first, and Charles had been sure that one could have cut the tension with a knife. Especially when it came to Azazel. It had however only took a second before Raven and Charles were hugging tightly, muttering apologies and promises to never fight like that again.
Things became a little bit more crowded from there on, making Erik leave the house more often and making Charles worry that the other man had decided to leave again after all.
He soon found out however that Erik was looking for a specific mutant, one who had exceptional knowledge about trauma and nerve damage. Charles had tried at first to tell Erik that he shouldn’t waste his time and strength searching for someone who might be at the other end of the world. However when Erik came back with Wolverine, (“Bringing home strays now as well?”), Charles hadn’t had the heart to stop him.
Especially when it was starting to feel so normal, like they were becoming a large family. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but it made up for everything they had been going through lately. This illusion of a family was quickly overshadowed as reality quickly caught up with them again.
They were sitting together in the kitchen one morning, and Charles had just finished his breakfast as he felt Erik suddenly standing behind him.
“Everything alright?” Charles asked, still smiling as he felt the hand on his shoulder.
“Have a look at the front page article,” Erik said quietly, making Charles frown and then take the offered newspaper.
He didn’t say anything for a while as he read the front page. ‘Beware: Are mutants dangerous?’ was written right across the top, followed by a smaller article that revealed that their worries had been justified, that there had been another raid to the mansion. Even if it was unsuccessful this time, it still left an uneasy feeling inside of Charles. They would have to do more than this if he ever wanted to completely return home.
“Well this was expected,” Charles finally managed to say, putting the magazine back down on the table.
The whole kitchen had gone quiet, and he let his gaze wander around the room. Raven had gone to stand in front of the window, Logan close by. Alex and Emma were still sitting at the table with him; quiet as they had all drifted into their own worlds. He could feel the tension and the insecurity radiating through the room, and for once he had no idea what to do about it.
“What do we do now?” Alex asked, finally being the first one who dared to talk. At first anyone didn’t seem to dare say a word, as if saying the wrong thing would make the world explode. Charles wondered if he should be saying something and was just about to do so, when Erik managed to be quicker than him for once.
“We need to get Charles walking again,” Erik said calmly, and a sound of consent went through the room.
“You’re not still on about that are you?” Charles couldn’t help but ask, turning his head to look at Erik. There was a fierce determination on Erik’s face, and Charles knew that there would be no way that he could manage to convince the man otherwise unless he would go in to his mind. For a moment the two just looked at one another, a silent battle of wills.
//I told you I would do this Charles. Don’t think I have forgotten or will put it aside because of this. You come first,// Erik’s voice suddenly came into his mind, and Charles without really wanting to felt his smile soften. Letting out a small sigh, he turned his gaze away again and then looked back at the newspaper article in front of him.
“And how is that supposed to work?” Logan commented and Charles couldn’t help but smile inwardly as he and Erik immediately set off into a heated discussion.
The rest of the day Charles spend hidden away in the living room, having pulled himself up on the couch and letting the events of the last few months once more wash over him. Everything had gone so insanely fast. Meeting Erik, getting shot and staying in the hospital, being paralyzed and now stuck in a house he wasn’t yet sure to call his home. Stuck in a chair that left him all open and vulnerable to the world. Well not exactly vulnerable, he could do so much to another person it was classified as volatile, and if it were up to others he would be locked up somewhere and under the control of some kind of medicine.
He was just about to doze off as he heard the door open, expecting Erik to come in but instead looking straight at Raven.
“What are you doing here on your own?” Raven asked softly, closing the door behind her as she stepped inside of the room. Charles just shrugged and then smiled as he watched her walk over to the couch and sit down on the floor next to him.
“Where are the others?”
“Mapping out some war plan,” Raven replied and Charles couldn’t help but look shocked for a moment, which must have looked rather amusing as Raven instantly laughed loudly.
“I was joking,“ she added seconds later to reassure him again.
Charles glared at her momentarily, which was followed by a soft smile. Even after their falling out and being left alone, everything seemed to have gotten back to normal, or at least Charles hoped so.
“Not a good joke,” Charles admonished gently, which was followed by Raven’s hand in his hair, tugging at it gently.
“Erik really wants to help you know,” she said after a while, her eyes drifting down to Charles’ motionless legs.
“I know he does,” Charles replied and he couldn’t stop himself from reaching out for Erik’s mind right at that moment. He smiled as he felt he mental gasp and then the warmth surrounding him as he curled up at the back of the man’s mind. He felt like he belonged there, and the knowledge that Erik wasn’t pushing him out forcefully right now made him hope that things could stay like this for a little while longer.
“Then why don’t you let him?” Raven asked and Charles looked at her with a frown.
“I don’t want him to spend energy on something that can’t be fixed, that’s all,” Charles retorted, pushing himself further into the corner of the couch with his arms.
“And you can calmly accept the fact that you will have to spend the rest of your life like this?” Raven persisted, hitting Charles’s most sensitive nerve spot on.
“Well I might want to remind you that you weren’t there when I was trying to reach a conclusion with that. So yes, I can live like this, because I’d rather do that than going through a hundred failed attempts,” Charles snarled angrily, and he winced as he instantly felt Erik’s concern, pulling himself out of the man’s mind again as fast as possible, not wanting to worry him more than necessary.
“You told me to leave!” Raven shouted back, moving to get up and glare at Charles.
“Well I am allowed to make a stupid decision for once aren’t I!?” Charles shouted back. Breathing heavily, he moved so that he could reach out for his wheelchair. Raven reached out to help him, but Charles simply glared at her making her stop in her tracks. Reaching out for the arms off the chair he was about to pull himself into it, as he realised that he hadn’t pulled on the breaks. He didn’t even have time to react as the wheelchair rolled backwards and he felt himself landing face forward on to the ground.
“Charles!” Raven cried out and Charles tensed as he felt hands on him.
“Let go of me! I can do this by myself!” he replied angrily, batting at Raven’s hands. He wanted to show her that he could live like this, that he could be on his own. He wasn’t forcing anyone to stay. “Just go away!” he added, as he rolled himself on to his side and then reached out for the couch.
“What’s going on in here?!” Erik’s voice suddenly bellowed, and this time Charles didn’t even have time to prepare himself as Erik was suddenly at his side, picking him up.
“Why didn’t you help him?!”
“He wouldn’t let me!”
“That shouldn’t have stopped you. What are you? A child?” Erik shouted and only then looked down at Charles.
“Let me down,” Charles said, almost pleading, but instead of getting the desired effect Erik’s hands only seemed to tighten around him.
“In your dreams,” Erik replied and then looked over at Raven. “Out.”
“But this is the living room!”
“Well then we’re going,” Erik retorted and with further ado, carried Charles out of the living room, the wheelchair rolling after them.
“Erik let me down,” Charles attempted to protest, looking down at the floor and contemplating how much it would hurt to fall down on the floor this time. It was a lot higher than from the couch and he wasn’t too sure if he wanted to experience this right now.
“Shut up Charles,” Erik replied and then didn’t say anything until they reached the bedroom they had been sharing ever since arriving here. Keeping his thoughts to himself, Charles just watched as Erik stepped into the room, letting the door close behind them and then walking over to the bed where he put Charles gently on top.
Murmuring a small thanks, Charles pushed himself up in a sitting position, attempting to get some space between Erik and him. He was angry with the world, and he wanted to stay like this for a while, and having Erik this close wasn’t helping matters.
“I am not an invalid, you don’t need to help me all the time,” Charles defended himself and watched as Erik’s expression turned from the stone cold guarded one into the one that only seemed to surface around him. There was real concern edged on the other man’s face, and Charles whimpered as seconds later Erik let his fingers brush along Charles’s cheek.
“But I want to!” Erik said, and he sounded almost desperate, like he was pleading.
“Then why did you leave me alone?!” Charles said in frustration, and all the pent up pain that he had felt during his time in the hospital was coming up again. Of course they had shared a bed every since they had reached this safe house, but that still hadn’t solved matters.
“Because I didn’t know better! I am sorry, I was blind, but I am here now, let me make up for it Charles!” Erik continued, and this time he was indeed pleading. Seconds later Charles felt Erik’s hands on his cheeks, followed by his lips. This was only their second kiss, but it felt even better than the last. The feeling of home was starting to penetrate his mind again, once more automatically reaching out for Erik’s mind, not probing, just resting there.
A soft sigh escaped Erik’s lips as they finally pulled away from each other, foreheads pressed against one another. Neither of them said anything for a while, just feeling and letting old wounds heal.
“I was trying to hate the world here, you ruined that,” Charles finally mumbled at the end and a grin grew on his face as Erik immediately succumbed into a fit of laughter.
“I am sorry if I ruined your mighty plan,” Erik murmured once he calmed down again, his hand moving upwards to caress gently through Charles’ hair.
“What if he or she, won’t be able to help me?” Charles asked at the end, looking up at Erik with a scared expression. Hank had tried to somehow extract some of Logan’s power in every way possible so that they could use it in that way to help Charles. However no matter what they had tried none of it had worked, and Charles had at the end warned Hank mildly that he hadn’t been in the mood anymore to be a test subject. So they had stopped, in the hopes that Erik would be successful.
“Then I’ll still be here and we’ll find another solution I promise,” Erik replied his voice serious but soft, and Charles nodded urging himself to believe that all of this would work out well.
Life continued just like it had during the first two weeks and as another two weeks went by, Charles was slowly giving up hope that Erik would indeed find the mutant. So he was more than surprised when suddenly one evening he got to meet Cecilia Reyes. She had a good knowledge in medicine, where her mutation, being able to control the human body even in it’s growth and healing functionalities, helped her along. During the days that followed they sat together for days, discussing all the possibilities.
Eventually the decision had been made. They would cut open Charles’s back at the spot where the bullet had entered, and from there on Cecilia would try to find the damaged nerves and attempt to regrow them. Azazel and Hank had offered to get all the medicine and utensils necessary for the operation and the days after, while Raven and Emma had agreed to make sure that one of the rooms would be completely sterile for the task. Charles just watched everything happen, having given all the control over, trusting him on this.
The night before the actual operation Charles could hardly sleep. He ended up spending most of the night awake with Erik, talking mostly about nonsense and distracting himself from everything that was going to happen on the following day. During the day he stayed in bed, not being allowed to eat before, and adding the nervousness had made him want to be on his own.
The operation took a while, and even when it was deemed successful it would only show when Charles awoke again and a few days had passed. When Charles awoke again his mind was foggy from meds and pain, projecting every pain he felt without the barest ability to control it. It took almost two days before Charles managed to wake up with an almost clear mind, and he smiled as he found Erik still sitting vigilantly at his bedside.
A week later Charles could feel an actual touch his feet, and Cecilia decided he was ready to start with some physical therapy. They started slow, stimulating the muscles that hadn’t been used for a longer time, teaching Charles again how to feel and eventually how to put weight on his feet again.
When the day came for him to stand Charles almost didn’t want to. They were in a makeshift therapy room they had created, he was sitting in his wheelchair between two bars where at the end Erik stood, waiting patiently for him.
“Mr. Xavier, whenever you’re ready just reach out for the bars and pull yourself up. Then we’ll see how many steps you’re ready to make,” Cecilia said in a warm and soothing voice.
“How many times have I already asked you to call me Charles?” Charles asked, attempting to diffuse the attention from him. He reached out to put his hands on the bars, his fingers tightening around them as if his life depended on it.
“Too many, now don’t focus on me but your task ahead,” she replied quirking an eyebrow at him.
Letting out a small huff, Charles looked back at Erik and then bit his lower lip. If he would be able to walk again, Erik would once more leave, and everything would be back as it was before. Raven would leave as well, even if they had managed to solve their issues somehow, and Charles knew that he wasn’t going to stop her.
“I can’t do this,” he said hoarsely, feeling his chest tighten as a small surge of panic went through.
“What do you mean Charles, you’ve been working so hard for this,” Erik said from the other end of the bars.
“I am not ready for this yet,” Charles replied not meeting Erik’s gaze.
“Charles,” Erik said softly, and Charles could see the other man coming close. Soon enough Erik was crouching down in front of him, his fingers on Charles’ chin and pushing it gently upwards.
“What’s going on? Didn’t you want this?”
“Of course I do!” Charles protested, looking at Erik with a frustrated expression. “But where will you be when I do?”
The room went quiet for a moment and Erik had this indescribable expression that Charles wasn’t sure he was reading correctly.
“Charles, I am not going anywhere, I thought you’d knew that,” Erik reassured him and Charles let out a small sigh, guessing that he had been stupid in some kind of way after all. Still he couldn’t stop himself from questioning it. At the beach it had been so clear to him that Erik and him were following two complete different ideals. How did he know that this wasn’t going to be exactly what was going to drive them apart again?
“I don’t want to start a war,” Charles said seriously, looking up at Erik with an equally serious expression.
For a moment Erik’s expression is unreadable, and Charles dreads that he has said the wrong thing. He can’t remember ever feeling this vulnerable. Still he knew that if Erik and he couldn’t find a way to make both of their ideals work together, they would have to end up going different ways again.
Instead of receiving words as an answer, Erik leaned in to kiss Charles. The kiss was slow and loving, and all the emotions that Charles got to feel in process overwhelmed him for a short moment.
//Will you start believing me now?// Erik asked and Charles nodded, taking a deep calming breath to ground himself again.
“Alright Mr. Xavier, ready now?” Cecilia’s voice suddenly came from behind Charles, and he found himself blushing as he realised that he had completely forgotten about her.
“Yes I think I am,” he replied with a definite tone of voice. He looked back up again and found Erik once more standing at the end of the bars, his hands outstretched and open.
//You’ll catch me?// Charles asked a last time, his eyes locked with Erik’s.
Repeating that word in his mind like a mantra, Charles closed his eyes and pushed himself up. He groaned as he could feel the weight on his feet, his toes curling on the soft floor and fingers tightening on the bars. Letting out a shuddering breath he forced his eyes to open and looked at Erik. There was so much waiting for him; he just had to dare reach out for it.
With the first step came the next, and by the time that he reached the end he was safely in Erik’s arms, laughing and crying in relief.
If they could do this, then the rest would be as easy as riding a bike.
Of course nothing was ever easy and it took Charles a while before he could manage to walk properly on his own two feet again. The world around them in the meantime was slowly growing calmer. Still, while the search for Charles and the others had faded, more rules were enforced on mutants. There was the new registration protocol, how mutants shouldn’t be allowed to live with regular humans and such other nonsense. It made him wonder how their future was going to look like from now on.
However up until now they hadn’t planned further once Charles had his complete control over his legs back. Erik seemed to make a good job of making sure that Charles had all the time he needed, while everyone else was making sure to keep them safe. They were all slowly becoming a family.
Still that didn’t seem to hold back Cecilia. Once she had seemed Charles fit enough, she had thanked for their hospitality and left. Charles couldn’t say that it wasn’t expected, but still it would have been nice to keep her with them. Emma to his surprise stayed and slowly but surely the two of them was even starting to get along with one another, as long as they kept out of each other’s minds.
Logan was another problem all together, and neither Charles nor Erik could make out how long the man was going to stay. There seemed to be a long troubling past with the man. Charles wasn’t sure if he should be digging deeper into it, but then had decided in the end to do Erik the favour of helping out Logan.
Raven and Azazel, now that was something Charles hadn’t expected at all. The two seemed to be getting along better with every day that passed. At the end he had found himself lying in bed, his mind following Raven discretely and pulling back as he found her kissing Azazel. He ended up muttering to Erik something about too much information, and then had let it rest there. She would come to him when she was ready. He wasn’t going to make any more decisions for her, Charles had learned that the hard way.
Erik and him. Charles smiled at the feeling that instantly surfaced. Erik had kept his promise and had stayed by his side the whole time, taking the role of the leader whenever Charles was too tired. They were equals, just like before, and Charles never wanted it to be different again.
Letting out a small sigh Charles looked up as he suddenly felt a pair of arms wrap around his waist and pulling him closer. Smiling, he tilted his head upwards and found himself greeted by Erik’s soft smile.
“What were you thinking about so you didn’t even notice me coming in?” Erik asked softly, his nose nuzzling slowly through the hair at the back of Charles’s neck.
“You, us, our small family that we have here now,” Charles replied sincerely, turning his head a little more so that he could capture Erik’s lips in a slow and tender kiss. Kissing Erik always felt like a new adventure, finding new sides he had never known before. They hadn’t done much more then this since they had been together again, probably because Erik thought that Charles was going to break, and right now Charles couldn’t help but yearn for more.
Erik seemed to be experiencing the same, as he was slowly guided over to the rug in front of the fireplace. Very gently they both moved to lie down on the floor, simply kissing and touching. Soon clothes were gone as well, followed by gentle touches and preparation. Shortly after Erik was inside of him, and it felt good, so good.
Like everything in the world it was over way too fast. Once he managed to get his bearings again, Erik was sitting up against the couch, with Charles between his legs.
“That was good,” Charles murmured softly, closing his eyes for a moment in bliss, smiling as he felt Erik reach out for a nearby blanket and wrap it around them.
“Only good?” Erik teased, making Charles chuckle.
“More than good,” Charles reassured, looking up at Erik with a warm smile.
“Game of chess?”
“Always,” Charles replied and then watched as the chess set came floating towards them, settling down next to them and seeing the pieces set themselves across the board.
They played in comfortable silence for a while until Erik started to speak. “What do you want to do now?”
“What do you mean?” Charles asked in confusion, turning his head so that he could look up at Erik.
“Well I was sure that you would have plans, now that you can walk again,” Erik said looking like he was saying the most obvious thing in the world.
It was true, Charles had indeed thought about it. There was so much he wanted to set right in this world, even if he knew that he couldn’t. Letting out a thoughtful sigh, he leaned forward so that he could move one of his chess pieces and then leaned back against Erik.
“I want to go back to the mansion. Set up the place for mutants, a safe haven. Somewhere people won’t look at us as if we’ve escaped from a circus,” Charles said sincerely, his brow furrowed in deep thought.
“You’re sounding like me,” Erik noted and Charles couldn’t help but look up at him again. He didn’t know what he was supposed to say to this and instead curled up against Erik’s warm chest again. The world suddenly was all open to him again, and somehow that made it a little scary.
“You can’t save everyone Charles,” Erik continued instead, motioning a piece to move forward.
“No but I can try,” Charles replied this time, smiling as he felt Erik’s hold tighten around him.
Two years later…
Erik hated going grocery shopping, but Charles had felt sore and it had taken Erik a lot of stubborn persistence to make the man agree to stay home. Even if the operation back then had gone well and Charles could walk, could jog with him through the grounds around the mansion, there were days like these when it didn’t work that well. It had been snowing for some time now, and he had ended up taking Ororo and Jean along to give Charles a chance to nap.
Ororo and Jean. Their beautiful and so gifted daughters. Erik chided himself as he caught himself thinking like that. They had come to them just a year ago, so young and confused, but already so strong. It had been the first time he had seen Charles almost furious, his calm demeanour had disappeared as he had found out what those parents had done to their children. There had been no doubt that they had to take them in, and they had been more than shocked when the parents had so willingly given them away.
They had been the first two mutants to join their school, the Lehnsherr and Xavier school for gifted children. It had taken them awhile to get settled back in the mansion, to make the state agree that they were doing nothing else but simply a school for gifted humans. When that finally had been achieved, they had started to turn the mansion into a school. Their family was slowly starting to grow, and Erik had to admit that he was rather content to live like this.
He gasped softly in surprise as he suddenly felt himself running right into Jean, her feet stepping on his own. The can of coffee that he had been holding was just about to drop to the floor as Jean lifted her hands and made it stop in mid air.
Ororo looked nervous as the cans float back into Erik’s hand, and Erik was about to admonish Jean for using her powers in public like that, when he could hear the shop growing quiet around them. People were watching, pointing, whispering behind their backs and Erik clenched his fingers around the handle of the shopping cart. It was one thing to go against him, an adult who could defend himself, but not against children, not when they didn’t know any better.
“Erik,” Jean’s tentative voice pulled him back out of his reverie, and he looked down to see her tugging gently at his trousers. His heart broke as he saw her close to crying and he couldn’t stop himself from glaring once over to the people who were still staring at them.
He reached down to pull Ororo up in his arms, setting her into the chair of the cart and then crouched down in front of Jean. “Hush, it’s okay,” he said gently, reaching out to carefully wipe the tears from her eyes. He then picked her up in his arms, smiling briefly as he felt her arms wrap around his neck.
“You can stop staring now, we’re already leaving,” he said in a clear and sharp voice, holding his hand towards the cart and letting it roll ahead of him towards the cashier.
The children kept quiet until they had reached the car and Erik had secured them in their seats and was just about to get his own seat belt on as well.
“Why did they stare?” Ororo asked quietly, kicking her legs against the seat.
“Because they don’t know any better,” Erik replied trying to remain calm about the whole ordeal. He had promised Charles a long time ago that he wouldn’t go hunting down people any longer, no matter how hard it was, and he was going to keep that promise. Somehow.
“What is a freak?” Jean asked shortly after, and Erik stepped a little too hard on the breaks at the intersection.
“Where did you hear that?” he asked instantly, turning around in his seat to look back at Jean. She looked so small sitting there with her legs pulled up against her chest.
“That one woman was thinking it,” she said tentatively, and Erik let out a small groan. He looked up at the streetlights finding it just turning green and pushed his foot back down on the gas pedal.
“What did Charles tell you about using your powers in public?” Erik admonished gently, looking up in the rear-view mirror to see her reaction.
“I didn’t do it on purpose!” Jean immediately protested, and then there were the tears again. This was usually Charles part, calming crying children. Erik sometimes just didn’t know how he was supposed to deal with these kinds of emotions. General emotions were still confusing him; he had gone so long telling himself that he wasn’t allowed to feel which had brought him a lot pain. He had almost lost Charles due to this. Quickly shaking off the thought again he looked back at Jean.
“I know sweetheart, and what the woman thought was very mean and uncalled for,” Erik said softly and then concentrated back on the road. The kids kept quiet until they reached the mansion, feeling himself relax as he immediately felt Charles at the back of his mind. It had become such a wonderful familiar feeling that Erik felt empty without it and he wondered if Charles would be ever be able to live without it.
//Welcome back home love, got everything?// Erik smiled as he could hear Charles’s voice in his mind.
//I’ll meet you in the garage.//
True to his word as Erik drove into the garage Charles was already inside waiting for them. He watched with a warm smile as Jean immediately rushed over to Charles, telling him everything of what had happened and how calm Charles looked, managing to soothe her with the smallest of touches.
By the time Erik had managed to put all his shopping away, the kids have retreated to their room to play and he is left alone in the kitchen with Charles.
“Shouldn’t you be sitting?” Erik admonished gently, walking over to Charles, wrapping his arms around his waist and pulling him close.
“I am alright really,” Charles replied, resting his hands on Erik’s chest.
“Did you see what happened?” he adds in a more subdued voice and Charles just nods, leaning up to press a kiss against the corner of Erik’s lips.
“I am sorry I didn’t come along, even if I have to admit you handled the situation rather well,” Charles replied, smiling in the end. Erik chuckled, letting his forehead rest against Charles’ and closing his eyes for a moment. They both knew how little patience Erik had with humans, which had sometimes brought them in to very interesting situations.
“Do I get something for behaving so well?” Erik asked and Charles let out small laugh.
“Aren’t I enough?” Charles asked and time suddenly seemed to stop around them. If he had to admit life wasn’t perfect, but who needed perfection when you had everything you needed to be happy.
“You’re more than enough,” Erik whispered, leaning in to press a soft kiss against Charles’s lips, knowing it was true.