This is it. This is the end.
Charles curls their fingers tightly together. His skin is rough and wrinkled with age, but his grip is no less firm. Erik holds him close and thinks, I love you, except the thought doesn’t carry because Charles has lost his telepathy, just as Erik has lost his own gift, and in that moment, the absence of their powers is staggering.
Instead, he opens his mouth and clears his paper-dry throat. “I’m glad…it’s like this, in the end.”
Charles looks at him. Those oh-so-blue eyes are still the same as they were forty years ago. Erik wants to drown in them, drown as easily as he could have that night Charles had pulled him from the ocean and changed his life forever.
“There are better ways to go,” Charles says, a spark of humor in his eyes. “Much better.”
Asteroids crashing on Earth and eradicating all life does have a sort of quaint feeling to it. A battle would have been better.
“Maybe,” Erik says, squeezing his hand. “I meant that I’m glad I’m with you. In the end.”
Charles smiles then, so warmly that Erik is filled with a sort of peace, a sort of calm that begins in the depths of his gut and radiates outward. For a second, he thinks it’s Charles’s telepathy at work, but no, that’s impossible; after the Cure, both of them had been lost and empty, and Erik hasn’t felt the touch of Charles’s mind since. It’s an emptiness he feels acutely now, in the end.
The sky is darkening. Somewhere far above, the asteroids begin to tear into the atmosphere, brilliant balls of fire. But Erik only has eyes for Charles.
“I love you,” he whispers. His heart is pounding hard against his ribs. There is so little time left, so little. Too little for saying anything but the most important things. “I always have. Even when we fought. Even when we never agreed.”
Charles smiles again. “I love you too,” he says, his voice a bit rough. “Did you know that I loved you the night I pulled you from the water? I loved you even then.”
And Erik pulls him close, wanting to feel everything, wanting to bury himself in the warmth that is Charles and never have to see the world end. He looks up and finds the fireballs descending across the sky. Any second now they’ll hit, and it will be over.
“It’ll be quick,” Charles whispers. “We won’t feel a thing.”
One minute there, and the next minute gone. Erik’s heart races. His throat is dry, and he thinks for a second that he can’t breathe. But then Charles presses his lips against his, and it is small and simple and enough. He closes his eyes and forgets everything else, forgets the apocalypse, forgets the end.
“I’ll love you forever,” Charles murmurs in the gap between their lips.
“All two seconds of forever,” Erik says with a dry laugh.
Charles grins. It makes his tired face look youthful again. “Don’t be an ass when I’m trying to declare my undying love for you.”
Erik laughs again, and kisses him again, and loves him again—forever and ever and ever until the end.