Charles leant over Erik's sleeping form and just waited. He was wearing a metal belt buckle and other small metal items, so he knew it wouldn't be long. Even without trying he could feel Erik's mind beginning to stir and he enjoyed the feeling as Erik emerged from sleep.
"Hello, my friend," he said as Erik suddenly rolled over, coming to readiness for attack instantly.
"Charles?" Erik sounded unsure and confused.
He had tried so very hard to keep his instincts under control, but Erik called to him like a lone voice in the night. There were some things that were beyond even him. When Erik flicked on the light he winced slightly at the brightness, but did not move.
"You look different."
When they had been surrounded on all sides by the CIA Charles had had a distraction, but here in Westchester he was at the mercy of his instincts.
"I know," he said, sitting down slowly on the bed, so as not to startle the other man; "Raven is not the only one who hides."
Erik appeared confused by that and suspicious.
"You have a secondary mutation?"
He shook his head.
"I am only half human," he replied, being as totally honest as he knew he had to be. "You have only seen the mutant part of me, this is the other."
Now Erik frowned.
For what seemed like forever Erik did not so much as blink and Charles could feel the conflict in the other man. Erik did not want to believe him. Very carefully he opened his mouth, allowing Erik to see one of his descended fangs.
"The Xaviers are a very old and power line," he said, folding his hands in his lap even though he wanted nothing more than to reach out and touch. "This my mother could cope with; she married into it, the mutant part was her undoing."
"Vampires are myth," Erik said, as if he did not believe his own senses.
"Only because we wish it that way," he replied. "Secrecy is our ally."
Erik sat there for a while longer, just looking at him.
"Why tell me?"
Charles smiled just a little, because Erik showed no fear.
"I know you felt what I was unable to block in the water," he said; "nothing has changed."
It was Erik's total lack of reaction to what had passed between them in the ocean that had led Charles to try and stay away, but that just wasn't an option anymore.
"You are attracted to me," Erik said without preamble.
"And far more than that," he admitted quietly. "Your mind sings to me even as I try to block it and my instincts tell me to take you far away from here and keep you safe."
"You cannot keep me safe," Erik replied.
"Oh, but I can," he said, leaning forwards and allowing his vampire power to come forward. "I have relatives and others who owe me allegiance all over the globe. I could take you from here and keep you away from harm for decades. I don't, because it would destroy you even as it would eventually destroy me."
For the first time there was just a flicker of fear in Erik's eyes.
"I would never harm you," Charles said, sitting back. "I have to tell you, because I can no longer keep secrets from you. I need to be known."
The fear died as quickly as it had come and Erik frowned at him again.
"What do you want from me?"
"All that you are to the end of time," he replied and saw Erik's eyes widen in shock, "and I offer the same in return. However, what I want and what I can have are often different things."
Erik just stared at him.
"You make me crazy, my friend," he said, knowing that it would take time for Erik to digest what he had told him. "I had no choice but to tell you the truth. You may take it as a warning or an invitation, but if you wish to know more, I suggest you ask Raven. She is well aware of my darker side."
Then he stood and walked towards the door.
"I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you are completely averse to my attentions once you have spoken to my sister," he said just before stepping into the hallway. "I had hoped it would not be necessary, but I will have to take steps to keep myself under control."
The idea of not being able to go near Erik made his vampire rage; but he was not going to force anything on the other man. He let his vampire traits fade away and stepped into the hallway, before quietly closing the door. He was not surprised to hear it open again before he was halfway down the hallway, but he did not turn back.
"He told you then," Raven said before Erik even opened his mouth.
"He's been desperate since we came here, I knew it was just a matter of time," she replied, "and besides I know the stunned, confused look you have on your face."
Erik wasn't sure what to say to that, so he just sat down.
"He didn't tell me for three years," Raven added; "my expression was pretty similar to yours."
"But you lived in the same house," Erik said, confused now.
"After Charles' father died all things vampire were banned from the house. Charles used to be sent away to stay with relatives from time to time; he told me that was the compromise."
"He said his family were a very old and powerful line."
"They have the ultimate power," she replied, "they can walk in the daylight. Vampires are as diverse as human beings, only not as numerous. Charles' family are some of the most human. They can interbreed with humans and see the sun and many other things that I am sure Charles will tell you if you ask. Technically Charles is the heir to a huge network, but he says that won't make any difference until he hits his second century."
Erik didn't bother not being impressed.
"If vampires are immortal, how did his father die?"
Just for a moment Raven appeared unsure, but then she sat down as well.
"He was murdered by a rival and they're not all immortal," Raven told him. "For Charles' family it depends on their life partner how long they live. Charles' mother could not become a vampire, but his father chose her anyway. Had ... things not happened she would have lived much longer than a normal human, but they both would have eventually grown old and died. Some saw it as a weakness."
"Charles said he wanted me until the end of time," he said, trying to reason it through.
"You do have the potential to become a vampire," Raven said in a matter of fact tone, "Charles already told me. It is a complicated process, but he will give you everything if you ask."
"Start at the beginning," he said.
Raven pursed her lips at that, but she did eventually nod.
"Charles' father was a brilliant scientist; he was obsessed with genetics, just like Charles is," she explained. "I think he may have been looking for a way to alter his wife's genetic code to allow her to be a vampire. Charles won't talk about it much. Charles' father was the heir before him and the next in line was a distant cousin. This cousin felt Charles' father was weak for choosing a human even when it meant he would become mortal. The cousin came here when Charles was only six or seven and murdered his father. You and he have more in common than you know."
To say Erik was shocked was an understatement; Charles had never even hinted they shared something so profound.
"Why didn't he tell me?" Erik all but demanded.
"Because he doesn't tell anyone," Raven said and pinned him down with a very fierce glare; "he never talks about it. What I know, I know because sometimes as a child he had nightmares and he wasn't as good at not projecting as he is now. His father was murdered in this house and Charles saw it all."
For a moment Erik flashed back to his own childhood. He saw his mother fall to Shaw's bullet and he felt the pain and terror all over again.
"If you truly want to understand Charles and why he is like he is that's one of the things you need to know. The other thing is that, even though he was only a little boy, he killed the man who murdered his father. I don't know the details; he would never tell me, but I do know that."
It was mindboggling. So many times he had looked at Charles and seen a naive man trying to make a bad world good, but it wasn't naivety at all. As Raven's words sunk in he began to realise quite how completely he had misjudged the telepath. He had assumed so many things and Charles had never corrected him.
Standing up, he knew he had to confront the other man.
"Thank you," he said, although he barely looked at Raven as he walked out.
By the time he had made it halfway to Charles' room he was angry; angry at being deceived and angry that Charles continually tried to convince him to put aside his revenge. He burst in without even knocking.
"You had your revenge," he said, slamming the door shut behind him with his powers, "but you deny mine."
Charles was back to looking perfectly human again and Erik watched the colour drain out of the other man's face.
"Oh, my friend," Charles said quietly, "revenge is an empty thing. It brings nothing but more pain."
"I don't believe you."
They just stared at each other for a while.
"Show me," he said when Charles didn't respond.
"No," was the instant and complete reply.
"You have seen my darkest moments, Charles," Erik said. "You want me to believe then show me."
He was not backing down, not on this and he saw Charles' composure crack.
"I can't," Charles said in little more than a whisper.
"You say you're offering me everything," he responded; "does everything come with conditions?"
Charles' face lost what remaining colour it had. For a moment Erik thought Charles would still refuse, but then the telepath stood, stepped towards him and brought a shaking hand to his temple.
"Prepare yourself," Charles said, voice so quiet Erik barely heard it.
He knew the moment Charles stepped into his mind, because he was no longer looking at the bedroom; what he could see was what looked like a study, but from under a desk and behind the legs of a chair. It took him a little while to realise he was looking out from the eyes of a child.
"Charles," he heard a male voice, "I want you to be very quiet. I am about to have a visitor and you may stay, but only if you are good."
"Yes, Daddy," little Charles replied and Erik could feel his pride at being allowed to remain.
Time shifted, as if Charles' memory was not quite complete, or the telepath had not been paying attention. It was a spike of anger that caught the small boy's focus and made him look out at the feet of two adults.
"You are a disgrace," a second male voice said; "not fit to be the heir. It is time this family had someone to lead it who knows what they are doing."
"You are only third in line," Charles' father pointed out, "my son would succeed even if I did not."
"The halfbreed," the other male hissed. "How could you breed with an unturned human?"
"Stop being ridiculous," Charles' father snapped, "you know as well as I do it makes no difference if Charles is half human; he had vampire DNA and that is all that matters."
The other vampire actually growled and Erik saw him turn and walk away.
"You are unfit," was the judgement, "and so is your son. For the sake of our line you must be removed."
There was the sound of something mechanical.
"You are insane," Charles' father said, for the first time sounding something other than annoyed.
Erik recognised the sound of some sort of bow as it fired and he felt Charles' complete confusion as pain daggered into his young mind and he saw his father falling. It was as if it was in slow motion and it reminded Erik all too clearly of his own mother's death. They were more alike than he ever could have guessed.
"No!" little Charles screamed and scrambled out from under the desk. "Daddy!"
The small boy scrambled over to his father to see a long wooden bolt sticking out of his father's chest.
[Charles, run,] his father told him silently, but little Charles was completely beyond fleeing.
As he watched with mind and body, his father died and his young mind went blank with the death.
"Convenient," the other voice said and Charles turned to see a small crossbow pointed at him.
Anger, fear and confusion all leapt at little Charles at the same time and Erik felt the emotions trying to take away his mind even in reflection. A child did not stand a chance and Charles reacted rather than thought. He just stood there, silent and still, as his mind lashed out. The vampire never stood a chance as mutant power ripped into the open vulnerable mind. Erik felt Charles combine vampire and human even to the amazement of himself, it had to have been the first time, and then Charles ripped the other vampire's mind apart. It was violent and yet Charles never moved a muscle. It was over in a second and the creature that had killed Charles' father lay dead on the carpet without a mark on him.
A small gasp made Charles turn and look and he saw his mother in the doorway and he felt her fear. She stared at him and he realised the fear was not for him, but of him and he folded like a house of cards.
As Erik blinked back into the real world he was confronted by Charles, pale and shaking in front of him. For a long time Erik had thought he didn't have a heart, but he felt it breaking for the little boy that Charles had been. Erik had had his innocence ripped away, but Charles had had it destroyed at a much younger age.
"He was dead, Erik," Charles said, voice cracking with emotion; "I thought it and he was dead."
"You were defending yourself," Erik replied, looking into those all too blue eyes.
"The anger, my friend," Charles said, "you felt the anger; that had nothing to do with defence. My mother saw it as well and she could never quite bring herself to forget it."
Erik could only imagine what that must have been like for a telepathic child.
"I wish I could do something that would spare you the pain of realising killing will not finish anything."
"You were no more than a child," Erik could not help countering the argument.
"Neither is the part of you that wants to kill Shaw," Charles replied and then swayed.
Moving in without hesitating, Erik wrapped his arms around the telepath, holding him upright.
"Why do you care so much?" he really still did not understand it.
They had a kinship, a shared pain, but Charles had never tried to talk to him about it, not until now. Erik was sure it was not just that. Charles looked him directly in the eye.
[I love you.]
It was placed in his mind in such a way that he could not help but see the complete truth of it and the mess of feelings that made up that one statement.
So much of Erik had been dead for so long, but Charles seemed to find things in him that were not quite gone. Something flared in his chest, something that had been trying to ignite since that first night Charles had stopped him leaving. He had had no idea he was caught so soon, not until now, but it was obvious. Those too blue eyes and pink lips that quirked so easily into a smile; they had had him at 'everything'.
"I don't understand," he confessed, because the whole thing confused him, "but I feel."
It was the most chaste of kisses as he leant down and touched his lips to Charles', but it felt like far more. The pain of a little boy and two grown men still echoed through them both, but for the first time Erik did not feel it cutting him to ribbons. The cage of metal around his heart was cracked and broken, but there was something else protecting him now.
There was far too much he did not know, too many question to be answered, but for once he did not try. He held to Charles and Charles held to him and it was a start. Eternity was a long time.
"Show me," he said and, before he could change his mind, pulled his turtleneck over his head. "Show me everything."
Charles looked completely shocked, but Erik saw Charles' eye zero in on his jugular.
[Never ask me if I am sure,] he projected straight at the other man. [You know I am a man of action, Charles. Are you afraid to take what I am offering?]
Charles' human disguise fell away in a second and blues eyes rimmed with red looked at him.
[If I am never to ask then you must learn to never taunt a vampire,] Charles told him. [There is nothing more serious than blood.]
Erik felt the pain fading within him and he smiled.
[Show me,] he said, pushing his confusion away with determination.
To be a Nazi hunter you had to enjoy the hunt, but as Charles stepped up to him, Erik found he enjoyed being hunted.