Erik walked through the eerily vacant hallways of the tower - the slow incline would eventually take him to the top and his prize. There was no one to take him there, few had been visible when he'd entered the city and eventually the citadel. Kurt Marko and his abomination of a son, Cain, hadn't visibly cowered, but Erik had almost hoped they'd try something, just to give him an excuse to end their miserable existence.
The fact that no one was showing him the way, made Erik feel more at ease, conversing with the presence that had been with him for almost eight years.
The presence that had turned Erik's attention to the small moon of Westchester. The moon wasn't out of the ordinary. A fair sized spaceport, standard natural resources in its rocky underground. Nothing that would normally have caught the attention of a General like Erik Lehnsherr.
Yet for the past two years, he'd planned the takeover, had planted spies, gathered funds and in the end, he had walked into the citadel meeting little resistance.
"They have been told that you will be merciless, that fighting you will mean certain death."
Erik huffed as he carried onward. His soft footfall barely audible. "I am merciless," Erik replied. He didn't have to speak out loud, but out of habit he tended to. It was one of the reasons why he had a bit of a reputation of a madman.
The laughter rolled through Erik's mind and sparked through his pleasure center.
"To your enemies I am," Erik insisted.
The voice was silent for a while, but Erik was used to his companion's thought-filled, silent moments. Even if they sometimes left him feeling bereft.
Erik stopped outside a door blocking his path. He could have forced the Markos to give him the codes, but why bother with the slimy lowlives anymore than necessary?
Erik waved his hand and the door peeled aside and he walked through. For a moment, the presence didn't follow him and Erik stopped, staring at the stasis chamber in front of him.
His companion ...fluttered. "They have put a blocker on the unit, as I had expected."
"I wonder if they did it when they knew you were out of your body," Erik murmured.
"They knew," Charles replied, voice hard. "They pumped my body full of drugs that forced me out of it and blocked me. I drifted for a while before you caught me."
Erik closed his eyes for a moment. For who knew what time, he wondered how much pain he wanted to inflict on the Markos. Drifted for a while? That was a bit of an understatement.
"I was born more than a decade ahead of you," Charles mused. "I should now be around eight or so years younger than you, though. Physically."
"You could be decades older for all I care," Erik said gruffly.
"I could've been a child in there," Charles teased.
"Then I would wait for you to come of age," Erik interrupted. "I would wait for you however long it took."
Charles' presence seemed to wrap around him as Erik went to the panel to start the procedure that would shut the shielding off and begin the process of bringing Charles physically back to the land of the conscious.
It was a strange feeling when Charles left him and drifted towards his body. The glass of the stasis chamber was frosted and didn't allow Erik to look inside. He knew the Markos had kept Charles in stasis, letting the public think he was ill and had to be kept there until a treatment could be found. A lie that had ended up becoming something of a fairytale.
Of the young prince in his ivory tower, sleeping until he would be wakened by true love's first kiss.
Such a silly thing, but something that the Markos made work for them. Kurt Marko had married Sharon Xavier and had taken over the running of the colony, making sure that no one could interfere with his rule. With Sharon Xavier dead, they could legally control the colony as long as Charles wasn't there to contradict them. Indefinitely, if Charles' consciousness hadn't drifted and happened upon Erik.
Erik wasn't surprised that the Markos had taken steps to keep Charles in a manageable position. He knew enough about them, had, even before Charles had come along. Erik had spent the first couple of years after he'd first 'noticed' Charles wondering if he was mentally defective, constantly feeling the presence of something or someone, but seeing no one.
Eventually Charles had mastered communication and then he'd just stayed with Erik.
Staring unseeingly at the stasis chamber, Erik wondered if he'd find Charles physically attractive. Not that it mattered. As the years had passed and Erik had grown used to Charles, he'd also spent a lot of time planning how to free him.
And somewhere along the way, he'd fallen in love with Charles, regardless of appearance.
It had been difficult to explain to his mother, who couldn't perceive Charles' presence, that Erik couldn't find a nice someone to settle down with. He'd realized early on that it would be Charles or no one else.
It spoke volumes that Edie Eisenhardt, Empress of the Magnus System, trusted her son to know that he hadn't gone around the bend.
There were days where Charles had been silent. Where Erik had wondered about his own sanity.
Had he gone mad?
But no, this very moment was why he had rallied their fleet, asking for volunteers. All to pursue a fairytale. The sleeping beauty in the ivory tower.
"I wonder if you'll wake to true love's first kiss." Erik almost expected Charles to tell him that he was being creepy, but all he was met with was silence.
For how long Erik stood there, he had no idea. Finally, the chamber beeped and a hissing noise told Erik that it was re-pressurizing. The glass went transparent and Erik stared at a young man. Pale skin, a smattering of freckles over his nose and shoulders.
Erik allowed himself to take in the full view. Shorter in stature than Erik, which was a little surprising. Erik had always imagined Charles as tall and physically imposing.
Not that he was complaining. If Erik had a type, this was definitely it. Short cropped brown hair, face soft in sleep. Lovely, long lashes, dark against the cheeks… In no way was Erik disappointed with how Charles looked.
Erik put his palm flat against the glass, waiting patiently.
He kept letting his eyes drift, up and down the still figure. He looked up when he felt he was being observed.
It was all Erik could think of, as he watched Charles staring back at him.
Charles slowly lifted his hand to mirror Erik's, on the other side of the glass.
"Now let me out so I can touch you properly, darling," Charles' voice rang clear and familiar in Erik's mind.
Erik didn't fight the grin spreading on his face as he reached for the controls to do as he'd been asked.
"Hello, love," he greeted when the chamber slid open and his hand found Charles' for real, for the first time. Sinking onto one knee, he held the hand to his lips, feeling life pulsating under the soft skin. "Welcome to the rest of your life."
Charles didn't answer, merely used the hand that Erik was still holding onto to tilt Erik's head up enough for their eyes to meet again.
And General Erik Lehnsherr didn't look away, knowing that he would conquer worlds in this man's name, if he asked him to.