Another Way by glacis. Rated PG, pre-slash Erik/Charles.
Charles knew there was no way on God’s earth he could physically stop Erik from turning the missiles around. Lying bruised and battered on the beach, Erik straddling him, one fist pulled back, the other bracing Charles’ chest, holding him down, his face conflicted with the need to confront those he considered his enemies and aversion to hurting Charles.
He didn’t have time, couldn’t find words, was stopped in his mental tracks by that damned helmet… but he couldn’t do it. Couldn’t take that many deaths tearing through his mind, especially on the heels of what happened with Shaw. Not knowing how else to put it, he simply blurted it out.
“It will kill me,” he cried, voice rusty from screaming, staring up into cold green eyes.
“You will get past it,” Erik dismissed his concern, misreading it completely. “They’re trying to kill us!”
“That many deaths – feeling that many deaths – it will destroy my mind!” Charles snarled desperately.
That, at least, got through. Erik froze. In the air behind him, so did the missiles. In the bushes, Moira, holding a gun in both hands, stopped and stared.
“What do you mean?” Erik asked, staring intently at him, and for a moment Charles wondered who the telepath was between them. Those eyes cut straight through him. He could give nothing but the truth.
“Feeling Shaw died nearly broke my mind,” he choked out.
“Dobry Boże,” Erik swallowed harshly and spat out, “You felt that?”
“S’not like I could let him go,” Charles responded just as harshly. “With you wearing that bloody fucking bucket on your head, it’s not like you could hear me scream!”
Charles could hear Raven’s squeak, “Charles!” and Sean’s “I didn’t know he could cuss!” but his attention was focused completely on his dearest friend. Erik’s face was completely blank, but his eyes were tormented. Charles gave him a pleading look.
“Please,” he said softly. “If you kill them, it will destroy me,” he repeated.
Without so much as a twitch, the outgoing missiles turned on one another and exploded in the sky in a cacophony of screeches and tearing metal, a nightmarish fireworks display. Charles had only a moment to be overwhelmed with the relief and confusion of the sailors who’d narrowly escaped death before Erik unclenched his fist, raising his hand to rip the helmet from his head and fling it along the beach. He must have used his powers, because the helmet took off like a bullet itself, burrowing deep into the trees.
The overwhelming concern washed over Charles like a warm bath. The void where Erik had been disappeared in the blaze of his presence, back in Charles’ mind where it belonged, soothing some of the residual agony, the ghost-pain of the coin’s path through his brain.
“Oh, thank God,” Charles breathed, sending a wave of affection and relief back to Erik.
Erik narrowed his eyes and leaned closer. “This is not over,” he said clearly. “They will come after us.”
“I know,” Charles said.
Raven’s voice broke in. “Can we talk about this later? We have to get out of here before they try to blow us up again!”
Erik swung up off of Charles and for a moment Charles nearly pulled him back. Feeling oddly bereft with Erik’s weight removed from him, Charles took the outstretched hand and allowed his friend to pull him to his feet. Moira stepped forward, Erik turned to confront her, and Charles sighed.
“Erik,” he said softly, then shook his head. Stepping between them, he smiled a little shakily at the woman. “Thank you, Moira. I’m sorry.”
She gave him a puzzled look. “For what?”
He reached out and touched her chin. He didn’t need to verbalize it, but did anyway, to let Erik and the children know what he was doing.
And she did.
He tried to catch her as she fell but he was too stiff, too sore, and Erik got there first. Charles smiled at him.
“What did she forget?” Erik asked, eyes darting between Charles and Moira.
“Everything about us,” Charles said, regret heavy in his voice.
“Why?” Hank asked behind them.
“Because they could use her to find us,” Angel answered for him.
“Us?” asked Azazel, skepticism heavy in his voice.
“Yes,” Charles said firmly. “Us.”
His eyes met Erik, shining with sincerity. He believed they could work with the humans, and should, as they were all human, after all. But recent events (and a multitude of missiles) had also shown that the non-mutants would react violently, with deadly force, to the perceived threat of the mutants’ presence.
Shaw’s plan to have the humans kill each other off was stupid; the planet couldn’t survive it. Erik’s plan to go to war with the humans was premature at best, suicidal at worst; they weren’t strong enough. Charles had the feeling his own desire to peacefully coexist with the humans was overly optimistic.
The mutants needed to stand together. Apart, they would not survive.
Besides, he didn’t want to fight Erik. Not only would he lose, so would Erik. So would the children.
All the children.
He tried to tell them all this, mentally, but couldn’t quite come up with the words, so did the next best thing. He summarized.
It was probably good practice for teaching, if he ever got to that.
With a wry, pained smile, he looked at Azazel. “If you think of it as us versus them, they vastly outnumber us. We can’t fight amongst ourselves. We may not agree on how to do it, but we all want to live.” He glanced over at Raven. “Mutant and proud,” he said softly, and she gave him a shocked smile. “But for the moment, we need to regroup. Azazel,” he turned to address the teleporter, “would it be possible for you to remove us all to my home?”
“What about her?” Sean asked, waving at Moira.
“She will sleep until I wake her,” Charles responded, “and I won’t wake her until she’s somewhere far from us.”
“How about Vegas?” Azazel grinned. “Best I go where I know.” Charles winced.
“That will work.” Charles was starting to flag, the long day of shock, pain, and stress undercutting his shields, and the psychic shocks he’d suffered were catching up to him.
He gestured for the children to join him. Alex and Sean stared suspiciously at Angel, who glared back, Riptide at her shoulder. Charles sighed and sent out a wave of reassurance, wrapping their minds in it. The children relaxed. Riptide jumped. Azazel shuddered. Can we please get OUT of here? Charles’ voice sounded plaintively in their minds.
Azazel stepped forward, and the children joined them. Charles took Erik’s free hand, as Erik was still holding Moira, and Hank placed his paw on Charles’ shoulder, completing the link. A flash of red, a puff of smoke, and they were at the Hellfire Club.
With the last of his energy, Charles called up the memory of CIA headquarters, narrowed his focus to a conference room, and placed the location in Azazel’s mind. Given Azazel’s lethal history with CIA agents, namely dropping them from high places, he also implanted an order to leave Moira unharmed. “If you would be so kind?” he asked.
With a grin that only heightened his demonic appearance, Azazel grabbed Moira by the arm and flashed out. A moment later he flashed back. He looked oddly disappointed. Charles tapped his memory and saw that Moira was safely away, sleeping in a chair, her head resting on the table. He quietly closed the chapter on mutant involvement with the CIA with her departure.
“Thank you,” he told Azazel, who looked a little confused that he hadn’t followed his instincts and squashed the woman, but nodded acknowledgement.
The children were milling about, each to a side, staring at one another, hostility barely suppressed. Charles sighed again, slumping down to a sinfully comfortable leather couch. It was only when Erik settled beside him that he realized he was still holding Erik’s hand.
Erik had made no attempt to reclaim it, and Charles was too tired, and in too much pain, to voluntarily give up the sole bit of comfort he had. He cleared his throat, and everyone in the room stopped pacing and glaring to look at him. His eyebrow raised and he smirked despite himself. For all their differences they were so very alike.
“It’s been a long day. We have a lot to talk about, and none of us are in any state to make any sense tonight. So, dinner, then get some sleep, and let’s deal with it come morning, all right?”
As he was talking, Charles was wilting, until by the time the last word left his mouth, he was curled up into Erik’s side, his head coming to rest on Erik’s shoulder, his face resting against the side of his throat. It was warm there, and safe, and best of all, he could feel Erik, solid as granite, surrounding him, mind and body.
He could feel Erik’s discomfort in the tightening of his muscles, in the way his mind shied away, but for once his own need for comfort overrode his ingrained desire to stay out of others’ minds. He transmitted a wordless mental plea, some mixture of please and stay and need, and Erik relaxed. The hand Charles wasn’t holding slipped over his shoulder, and a strong arm drew him in. Allowing himself the luxury of blessed unconsciousness, Charles drifted off to sleep. Erik would keep him safe.
Dimly, he heard Alex’s enthusiastic “Room service!” as Erik’s arm tightened around him. The future could wait until morning. For now, everything was as it should be.
End part 1.