The trial had gone by quick. A haze in Erik’s mind. Visions of men in suits talking, arguing; people telling him what he should do, what he should say. He never said anything. He was guilty. He knew it, everyone else did, there was no point in lying about it. There was no life for him to live.
By the end, Erik Lehnsherr was sentenced to 10 years in prison for second degree murder.
Three days later, he was transported to a prison, chained to the floor of the van.
The drive was short, and soon he was being shoved out, squinting against the brightness of the sun. There were prisoners in the courtyard, all staring or yelling things Erik didn’t care enough to hear. He was taken inside, and then transferred to be escorted by another guard.
Most of the cells they passed were empty, Erik noticed. As he stood in front of his new home for the next decade, it became clear. This was it, no turning back now. Cell number 43. The words felt funny in his mind. He was shoved inside, and nearly fell over before catching the railing of the bunk-bed. The sound of the cell door being shut behind him sent his brain rattling, and he took a deep breath.
“Are you alright?”
Turning his gaze up, he couldn’t help but be surprised. There was a man laying on the top bunk. But more than that, his eyes were impossibly blue. They contrasted brightly with his pale skin, and the wavy mahogany hair. Was he wearing lipstick? His lips were a luscious red, and Erik did not believe that could be natural. It took him a second to realize the man had asked him a question, and he snapped out of it.
Clearing his throat, he straightened up. “Yes, I’m fine. That asshole just tried to intimidate me.”
The man’s lips turned up in a smile, and he hopped down onto the floor in front of Erik. He was a couple inches shorter than Erik, which somehow made him all the more charming. “Yes, he tends to do that.” Those red lips murmured, voice thick with a British accent. Erik let himself stare for a second, maybe a little longer. He didn’t count.
“Who are you?” Erik found himself blurting. The smile widened. The stranger stuck out his hand.
“Charles. Charles Xavier. I believe I’m your cellmate.” He explained happily, ocean eyes sparkling. The taller man took his hand, shaking it before quickly letting it go. Not too fast that he didn’t notice how smooth the skin was.
“Right. Well, nice to meet you, Charles.” Erik sighed.
“And the same to you.”
Lehnsherr looked around the small cell, pursing his lips. It wasn’t luxurious by any means. The ceiling was barely tall enough for him to stand in, and it was only wide enough for the things in the room and the two men standing rather close. There was a bunk-bed, a desk, and a toilet in the corner. That was it.
“Do you have a name?” Charles asked.
“I do.” Erik turned his gaze back to his cellmate.
“What is it?”
“Erik,” Erik admitted, “Erik Lehnsherr.”
“Erik, what a lovely name. I’m glad you’re here. It was getting quite lonely.” Charles grinned. Erik took another look around.
“I bet.” He muttered.
“Do you like to read?”
“I do,” Lehnsherr confirmed, “Why are you asking?”
Charles crouched down, reaching under the bunk-beds. He pulled out a wagon sort of thing filled to the brim with books. Erik wondered how he got all of those and got to keep them all. Charles stood back up.
“Because now I have someone to share these with.” There was a smile on his face, as if he were genuinely happy that he had books he could loan his cellmate. Something about the smile didn’t settle right with Erik. That sort of happiness didn’t belong in a place like this. And, as he was beginning to realize, neither did Charles.
“Why are you here, Charles?” The taller man asked. Charles’ smile vanished, and a dark shadow crossed his face. He cleared his throat.
“That doesn’t matter.” He muttered.
“I don’t want to talk about it, Erik. It’s not something I’m proud of. Just know I’m where I belong.” There was finality in his voice. He clearly was not going to talk about it. Erik let it go. For now. For some reason, he didn’t like Charles frowning. A smile fit much better.
“What books do you have?” He asked. A little light went back into those azure eyes, and he sat down on the bottom bunk, pulling the books to him.
“Have a seat.” He offered, patting the empty space next to him. Erik sat, watching as Charles pulled out books and set them on his lap.
They sat there for a long time, Charles showing Erik every book and asking if he’s read it. Then giving an explanation if he hadn’t, or discussing certain points with him if he had. They were only one third of the way through the books when a loud buzzer echoed through the prison, and the cell door swung open with a loud click.
“Time for dinner.” Charles commented, setting the books down and standing up. Erik followed, and they started down the hall. The cafeteria wasn’t very glorious, just a big room with tables. Everything here was grey. The walls, the chairs, the people. Well, except Charles. He was like a candle in a dark room. Once they had food and were sitting down, Charles continued talking about books.
Erik tried to listen, but it was hard to. He could feel eyes on him from all directions. The only downside to him being found guilty? Being fresh meat in a prison cell. He knew no one here actually posed a threat to him, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t annoying. He sighed, poking at his food, if you could even call it that.
“Erik? Are you alright?” Charles asked, a warm sense of worry in his voice. Erik looked up at him, concentrating on his face for a second. Everything about Charles screamed that he was nice, and good. It was unnerving.
Erik knew why he was in prison. He knew why the guy across from his cell was there, and the man glaring at him right now. Every single one of these people showed clear signs that they belonged there. Except his cellmate.
How the hell did this man- the same one that advocated peace over everything, smiled every 5 seconds, and offered to lend other prisoners books- end up in the most secure prison in Europe?
Erik shook himself out of his thoughts. “I’m fine. Just thinking.”
“Nothing in particular.” Erik let his fork fall. There was no way he could eat right now. He felt like everyone in the room was boring into him with their eyes. “I’m going back to the room.” He stood up.
“Oh.” The disappointment in Charles’ voice was clear, “Alright. I’ll see you later.”
Erik nodded, turned, and walked off back to his cell. He fell back onto his bed, shoving the books into the wagon and kicking it away. Rubbing his eyes, he took a deep breath. This was all a lot more than he was expecting.
He laid there for awhile, breathing and thinking. And before he knew it, he’d fallen into a dreamless sleep.