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Tread upon the Light of Grey Roses

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Tread upon the Light of Grey Roses

 

Vegetation was scarce on Tatooine. Bitter. Angry. Sharp, shriveled brown leaves dry as dust swept across the desolate picture of rocks emerging from a simmering ocean of endless sand. The jagged ridges weren’t unlike its inhabitants, in that respect; both stood spine-bent but proud despite the crushing heat, and the awareness that the planet would sooner be drowned in water than willingly offer them any kind of change in their situation.

When the harsh, punishing midday struck, the sand turned almost white with the glare of the sun and getting lost in the desert felt rather like toppling over whipping-hot clouds.

Only a very few species of flowers grew there, young Charles Xavier realized when he first set foot outside of the spaceship, his general and bodyguard at his side. Screwing up his sensitive blue eyes against the sudden glare, Charles took in the forbidding landscape. The beautiful, delicate roses which overran the gardens of Naboo like a warring poem would plainly catch fire and burn here. Their petals would ignite instantly, or maybe they would turn grey, would turn into ashes to be scattered into the merciless blaze of the wind.

This place was beautiful. Infinite.

Charles could lose himself here. If he started running, maybe no one would manage to catch him, and no one would bring him back on Naboo. He’d live the life of a coward, but a free one.

“What are you two doing here?” The Jedi Master abruptly asked, turning to them both as his brown cloak and long, silver-sprinkled hair fluttered in the other direction.

Charles' general answered first, as he was meant to, and gestured to the veiled, smaller figure plastered to his side, “The King wishes to learn more about this planet. He sends his servant Raven to accompany you while we’ll stay on board.”

Under the disguise of said servant the young King nodded humbly, casting his eyes downwards. He was careful to conceal his face by bowing his veiled head soon after.

“This is a bad idea.” The Jedi answered bluntly, but Charles didn't lift up his face even as he felt the piercing gaze upon him.

He had a feeling that the Jedi would soon discover his true identity, if he had not already. In all fairness, the Knight was probably right; he shouldn’t put his life in danger so recklessly when Raven went to a fair amount of trouble to make sure he was safe by using her mutation to take his place in these sorts of dangerous situations. But when — a mandate ago — Charles had agreed to become the King of Naboo at the age of ten, he had sworn to help his people no matter the cost. If he could improve the fate of others, then he had to jump at the opportunity.

“This is a dangerous place.” The Jedi continued, a frown evident in his voice, but he was wise and kind, and he knew full well he couldn't oppose a king's wish.

So, in the end, Charles joined them.

 

He met Erik that day.

Those angry, wary grey eyes burned through his dream-drenched soul for many years after that, just like desert roses dolefully crystallizing under the blast of the sun.

Flowers never truly blossomed on Tatooine.

 

 

 

When his old Master unexpectedly passed away, Charles bent in half, screaming in a strangled cry which emptied his lungs suddenly bruised with sorrow. His Master’s death seemed to ripple through the entire universe, so much his heart and mind were deafened by it. Blinded. Torn apart.

He couldn’t breathe.

Master, he called desperately, like a gasping prayer, and he lost his vision to blurring water. You’re dead. I am all alone without you. What am I supposed to do? What am I to become? All of a sudden, it didn’t matter anymore that Charles had been knighted a few years ago — for a second, he felt as abandoned and insecure as an orphan waif.

To his surprise, the Force soon stepped in to present him with the ten-year-old memory of a teenage Erik Lehnsherr on Tatooine. It strangely soothed him. Grey eyes, ashen face, and life ; so much life in that lithe, soot-smeared little body. Through a swirling haze of pain and grief, the memory flared in his mind: life was ablaze inside Erik Lehnsherr.

Surely then, it had not deserted Charles.

Soon enough, he was able to steady himself. Taking deep breaths, he carried on with his meditation without wiping any the round, fat tears that had fallen on his cheeks. His heartbeat slowly decreased, his heart settled… until finally, he was able to sense it — the passage of his former Master in the Force. Charles sighed shakily and let go of this excruciating first wave of sorrow.

You are me, now. You are all of us. You are everything that is good, Master — hope, in its purest form. Your kindness will warm us all. I ought to envy you, ought I not?

“Felt it, you must have.” A familiar voice ventured with a hint of sadness. Charles had guessed Master Yoda was approaching thanks to the steady clatter of the stick he usually leaned on whenever he walked. “To the Force, your Master has passed. Lost a great Jedi, we have.”

“We have.” Charles agreed. “But they defeated Darth Maul, the Sith Lord’s apprentice. How I wish he had let me come.”

He couldn’t help letting his pain lace the words and smiled tightly in apology. The Sith Lord's apprentice was dead and, even though it had cost his Master’s life, well, the news was a relief. Charles was beginning to think that death was likely to be the most probable outcome when facing a Sith.

“Strange, these past few weeks, your old Master had been, Knight Charles. Yet, how you can know what happened on Tatooine, I wonder, hm.”

Charles didn’t open his eyes, but smiled ruefully, his red lips parting to reveal a row of even white teeth. With the passing of time, Charles Xavier had become even more beautiful. The child King, who was as renown for his fair, lightly-freckled face and unruly thick brown hair as he was for his shocking blue eyes, had grown into a handsome omega and a talented Padawan — two traits which formed a dangerous oxymoron. Jedi could only ever be betas, for being an alpha or an omega made the Jedi prone to attachment, longing, passion and thus, violence.

Charles had then been quite the star attraction of the academy when he had arrived all those years ago with the Jedi Master who had saved him from his abusive step-father. The King of Naboo had fulfilled his second mandate to the very last day, then guiltily left his own planet behind.

And yet, Master Yoda had never once frowned upon feeling Charles' unbalanced, hormone-influenced aura.

“I can hear him.” Charles explained with another satisfied smile. It was true. He could hear a faint whisper, a feeble murmur as undulating as the wave chant inside of a shell. It formed words directly into his mind. “He told me. He’s bringing a gift to Coruscant, apparently.”

The sudden and amused irritation staining the Force made Charles chuckle; he tasted the old, fond joke he and Master Yoda shared.

“Even in death, rules, your former Master defies. Respect these days, no such thing there is.”

As if sensing that he was the object of discussion, said Master decided to dance in the Force, prompting an exasperated sigh from Yoda. Charles outright laughed.

Before it was too late, he thought with tenderness, “ Thank you, thank you for everything ”.

To his surprise, another answer came forthwith, “ Promise me you’ll train the boy. He is the Chosen One, the one that will bring balance to the Force. Train him just as I’ve trained you.

With his heart loud and thumping in his ribcage, Charles solemnly nodded.

 

 

 

Erik crouched down in front of the seemingly bottomless hole in which the Sith Lord’s apprentice, Darth Maul, had eventually fallen. He sighed through his nose, clenching his teeth. There was no way he could ask him information about Schmidt now. Dead ends. Erik only reached dead ends on Tatooine. Anger ran and bubbled through his veins, like blood boiling.

He promptly jerked his head up when the words whirled by his mind once again.

“Go to the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. You will find what you’ve been searching for.”

Where did it come from? He turned his eyes to the dead man on his left, the Jedi Master, the one who had spoken these words before the fight. Could the dead speak?

Erik easily remembered he had met him in the past, not long before his mother had been slaughtered by Schmidt in front of his young, terror-stricken eyes. The bloody coin which has served to kill her gently warmed the pocket of his pants; he always carried it with him. Grabbing with his powers the blaster that had fallen to the floor, Erik got up, turned around, and walked away.

At the last moment however, he found himself stopping. Gritting his teeth he turned around once more to pick up the old Jedi’s body with a suppressed wince of pain — he’d need to stitch that wound in his side up before he lost any more blood.

After all, the dead Jedi had offered to help him, even if all of it had proved to be fruitless and nothing but lies. The girl with him had lied too.

Erik had never again encountered human eyes so blue.

Outside the cave, he found the ship in which the Jedi had come, along with a droid which beeped sadly when he recognized the corpse of his former owner. Erik gave the body to the droid without a word and boarded the spaceship. For a second, he considered ignoring the Jedi’s advice and heading for Mos Esley, where he could always ask again if people had heard of a human Sith, but the trail was growing cold. His best chance was apparently Coruscant. The fact that he was following the lead of some dead old man’s voice rather showed how desperate he was starting to feel.

So Erik begrudgingly took the pilot’s seat and started the engine, his eyes darting around the cockpit as he familiarized himself with the ship’s systems.

He wasn’t aware he’d been looking for it until he found it — a clue. A clue that she had taken up the Jedi on his offer. A thin braid of thick brown hair placed religiously in the center of the control panel. A Padawan braid.

He was certain this was the girl's — Charles’ — hair. What a strange name, Charles, he had never come across anyone else called by it since. He had never met anyone quite like her either. Cold indifference showered Erik's impulsive bitterness. Good for you, subject of the King, your life was less miserable than a slave's. As he typed in his itinerary, purposely ignoring the weeping droid behind him, Erik spared yet another thought for the two people who had briefly entered his life to try and free him.

Many years ago, the long-haired Jedi Knight had come to Mos Espa with a Guncan and a young girl about Erik’s age, looking to replace a broken piece from their ship. The girl had been hiding most of her face under a thick tan veil and yet, right after the commanding lightsaber ornamenting the Jedi’s hip, her curious blue eyes had been the first thing Erik had noticed. They remained the only thing he remembered as vividly years later.

Erik's owner had been unwilling to help the Knight, but that didn’t mean Erik himself couldn’t. Never one to let an opportunity slip by, he had offered to help them in exchange for his mother’s freedom. In the end, they had turned out to be nothing but liars; they had been unable to free her, and they only had freed him, forcing Erik to work for years to earn his mother’s freedom.

He hadn't been quick enough.

She had died a slave.

“Why are you staring at me like that?” The girl — Charles — had asked as soon as they had been left alone, her voice soft but amused.

Erik had frowned, turned his body away and had kept cleaning the pieces of the 147-N Meldo engine he had been toying with.

“Are you human?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Are you human?” He had repeated, angrier than he ought to be. The girl was clearly amused. Typically this would have served to stoke Erik’s irritation, but instead he found himself stumbling on. “Or are you an angel? I heard they come from the sky. Mother told me they were so beautiful you could cry and feel the weight of your mortal burden leave your shoulders. Your eyes — you must be a blend of another race… why are you laughing now?”

Erik’s mouth twisted in displeasure as the memory of his past embarrassment rushed over him, prickling his skin. He had been such a fool. No education system for the poor and lower class would do that, he guessed. Sometimes, Erik realized there was a lot he still didn't know. The girl on the contrary, had clearly been educated, but, unlike the other free races, she had not mocked him for his ignorance.

Instead, she had taken interest in what he was doing, and had later confessed her true name, “Charles, it’s Charles, but I beg of you, call me Raven in front of others.”

Charles. What a strange name.

Erik still remembered that night perfectly; the grey-haired Jedi Knight had tested both their abilities after he had come upon them shyly experimenting with their powers — himself the manipulation of metal, and her, mind control. Just as they had been leaving, the man had offered to take them both under his wing; to give them the chance to become Jedi. Charles had smiled, her sky eyes dancing with painful hope and joy, but Erik had declined. He needed to set his mother free. They had parted ways.

Tatooine was now nothing but a flat, dry expense of sand below him.

It was the first time Erik ever flew this high. Up here, the primary moon Ghomrassen seemed to be courting its two still, quiet counterparts; one of them stood slim and hungry, the other swelling with so much pride it nibbled on the stars. When the ship finally reached dark space a comlink beeped on the panel board. Erik glanced at it, considered his options, and eventually turned it on.

“Yes?” He said.

The cultured accent of a man’s voice answered him, questioning, “...Erik?”

Erik’s heart thudded in his chest. He checked on the radar. Nothing. Had a Sith found out that he was looking for them?

“How do you know my name?” He demanded.

A soft breathy sound filtered over the coms

“I knew it would be you. My Master had —has— a very wry sense of humor. You’ll arrive on Coruscant in ten minutes. I’ll soothe their minds, but don’t panic if an army of lightsabers welcomes you. We’re all a bit shaken. See you soon, my old friend.”

“Wait!” He barked impatiently, but the communication ended before his order could be heard.

He swore under his breath. People were expecting him? Narrowed, pale eyes roamed over the planet progressively looming before him. With each passing second, Erik's awareness of the surrounding metal expanded. This planet was entirely covered in cities. The coin in his pocket buzzed pleasantly.

If Schmidt was on it, it would be very easy to slice his body in half and stab him repeatedly with pieces of skyscrapers until the bastard could be fed to the Tusken raiders who had imprisoned him for years.

He initiated the landing.

 

 

 

From the moment he set foot on the ground of the Jedi Temple, carrying the Jedi’s corpse over his left shoulder to hold his dusty blaster with his free hand, Erik Lehnsherr was surrounded by two dozens ignited lightsabers. Their bright, colorful light was lost in the glare of the sun. It was early afternoon on this planet.

Nothing of his strained exhaustion showed on Erik's body — a cold dusk had been draping over Tatooine when Erik had left, and he had hunted down Darth Maul’s tracks for two sleepless days prior to the fight that had wounded his left side.

Nothing showed on his body, and neither would it show; if anything, years of slavery had taught Erik's mind to be alert but quiet, giving a ravenous look to his washed-out blue eyes which especially darkened when he was threatened. He could always use his power, but he would never be strong enough to rob them all of their lightsabers at once.

Feeling exposed, he blindly raised his gun.

This was the wrong thing to do.

Without warning, one of the Jedi surged forward at high speed, so unbelievably fast that Erik only had the time to spin in her direction before she was on him. Her lightsaber swept up in a deadly curve on his right. Erik would have been killed, or at least incapacitated if all of a sudden, another lightsaber had not firmly stopped its course with a loud buzz. Blue met green.

Where a split second before there had been nothing but wind, a young Jedi had appeared out of the sky.

Instincts seemed to overcome them as the two sparred fiercely left, right, left, spin, right. It reminded Erik of two feral felines facing off t, hackles raised and too fast for him to follow with his gun. The man jumped above the other Jedi in a swirl of blue and tan, touching ground only to somersault back while attacking his opponent. When he landed back in front of Erik, he extended his leg in a front kick which forced the first Jedi to take several steps back and, at last, she seemed to pause, catching her breath.

“Stop!” The young man ordered. That accent. “He is a friend. Drop your weapon, Padawan, and please don’t ever use the Force and your lightsaber for something else than defending yourself and the weakest, ever again.”

“He’s carrying your Master’s corpse on his shoulder, Master Xavier!” Someone in the crowd argued. “How can you be so calm and forgiving in these circumstances?”

Erik swiftly turned his eyes to see who had spoken. This was one of the few non-humans of the group. He realized that he had lowered his blaster a few seconds ago. Stupid of him.

This Xavier fellow didn’t flinch. Erik was smart enough to realize that they had all frozen when they had realized who the Jedi was, and the girl who had attacked Erik had promptly apologized with a bow and stammers. Thick brown curls circled the shell of his ears and Erik could make out a flash of human skin, fairer than his own. Something about him felt off.

He couldn’t look away.

“Open your heart, my friends, and you will find that he is not the one who killed Qui-Gon Jinn. Don’t let sorrow cloud your judgment.” To his surprise, the middle-aged non-human Jedi didn’t look baffled to be given a lesson by such a young man. He nodded slowly, and finally Xavier turned his blue lightsaber off. “Erik helped in defeating the Sith Lord’s apprentice, Darth Maul. The Force gathered around him isn’t Darkness, it’s only untamed. Have no fear. Please go back to your activities.”

Only a few of them did.

Predictable, Erik sneered inwardly.

His eyes quickly fell down again on the man who had turned to face him. Erik’s heart raced. The young knight  was strikingly handsome, which he shouldn’t even have noticed. Something definitely felt off, but Erik wasn’t sure anymore if the oddness came from the Jedi or from himself.

The man didn’t meet his gaze, but only reached for his dead Master with delicate hands and sad, compassionate eyes. Erik willed himself not to touch him. He let the shorter man take the body, wrapped in the only veil Erik had been able to find, and which he carried with ease in surprisingly strong arms. This young Jedi was so tender, his expression so full of love, that Erik found himself scrutinizing his face.

At last, the knight  looked up to him. Blue eyes deep as a rainy night froze him, cut him into pieces, sparing nothing but his brain which suddenly put together every bit of information he possessed. Erik realize something he had refused to believe while all the clues had been there.

“You— Charles? How—”

The soft, rueful smile he received in response  provided him with the answer he didn’t need anymore; this man was the girl he had met on Tatooine. And he was — Force dammit, every single thing they had said back on the Outer Rim Territories was true. Erik had been certain they had made fun of an ignorant former slave. But they hadn't. They did exist. They truly existed. He was an—

“Thank you for bringing him back to me.” Charles simply said, his voice grateful and nice.He sounded so sweet and pliant. Erik gave himself a mental slap as he clenched his teeth. What was the matter with him? “We’ll give him to the pyre.” the Jedi continued ”Then I will bring you to the Jedi High Council. We have a lot to discuss.”

Indeed there was. Erik should have been yelling at Charles for abandoning his mother while he had apparently been the goddamn rightful King of Naboo all along; he should have been pestering against this shitty welcome gathering, and he should have explained that he was here to track Schmidt, not to meet some elitist Council part of a decadent Republic.

And yet, he found himself mumbling with disbelief, “You’re an omega.”

... which it wasn’t at all what he had intended to say. Erik winced internally. Keeping his mortification from showing on his face and letting it crawl under his skin instead, he only had a moment before Charles blinked and took a step back.

Taking in Erik’s sharp features and long body, Charles seemingly realized something which threw him off for a second. Still, he answered easily — yet with something stiff in his refined Coruscantian accent, “I am. I see that your undertunic is soaked up with blood, my friend. You should go and see the Healers during the ceremony. A Padawan will accompany you. I’ll see you soon, Erik.”

Charles waited for him to nod reluctantly before turning around. Erik’s eyes roamed over the slender figure which was only slightly smaller than his own, if sturdier. Powerful, powerfully bearing his own grace. His stomach clenched in hunger and in absolute helplessness. An omega!  

Erik saw the Jedi turn his profile to his dead Master’s face and heard him mutter under his breath, “I take it you think yourself a very funny man, Master.”

Erik raised his eyes to his surroundings when he felt some kind of unknown presence around him. Chuckling in the breeze. Infinitely teasing.

 

 

 

Even in the midst of the sorrowful funeral Charles couldn’t help occasionally thinking about Erik, the Chosen One... and obvious star of the day. After placing his Padawan braid between his Master’s cold, coiled hands, Charles lit the pyre himself. It seemed to him that the silver strand of hair Qui-Gon had intertwined with his own years ago was the first to ignite. They curled together like a dying snake and Charles probably would have cried if he wasn’t so much at one with the Force and his former Master’s spirit.

His Master was gone, but everywhere. Supporting him with a soft touch on his back in such a caring  way that Charles wore a slight smile on his dignified expression. But even then, his mind pulsed with the need to find Erik.

An alpha, Force dammit!

Charles wanted to laugh in outright despair at the fate’s slyness. He had spent so much time pointedly scorning his own primal nature to become the Jedi he was meant to be, going as far as to avoid the contact of all alphas until early adulthood. When he had decided, finally, to embrace his nature, the pointed gazes of senators or interested gleaming in the thoughts of random informants had no effect on him. Because of this conditioning he had not understood right away what Erik was, what this indescribable attraction had been when they were but children.

And now the man was to be his Padawan! And Charles was about to confront the High Council headlong to make them accept it not only despite Erik’s age, but also despite the fact that Charles was bringing into the Order an unmated alpha — an unmated alpha to be trained by an omega, of all things! Force, his former Master must be enjoying himself so much.

Charles sighed, his arms crossed over his stomach, the sleeves of his cloak fluttering in the insubstantial breeze. He would take to Naboo the ashes that were now Qui-Gon’s body to scatter them at the man’s favourite place — the greenest flower-coated meadow of the planet, where Charles’ second home was. He would probably have to take Erik there with him, he reflected, as the man was to be his Padawan. Charles eventually headed back to the Temple after everyone had left.

He found the object of his musings — heard him, rather — in the hallway outside the medic’s chambers, around a protocol droid which was obviously requesting one last check.

When the droid reached for his wounded side, Erik gritted his teeth and abruptly turned away. “I said don’t touch me! I’m fine, Sith dammit!”

To Charles’ surprise, the Force suddenly grew heavier, and its strength, when Erik used it on the poor droid, almost deafened him.The Force tore down like an invisible arrow, causing the protocol droid to lose his balance and collapse with a surprised cry. And yet, it wasn’t a regular blast wave. It was something else entirely, something that Charles wouldn't be able to do.

The memory of a dusty and handsome grey-eyed young man’s explanations about his mutation was still clear as Light in Charles’ mind; metal, yes, he controlled magnetic fields. How amazing.

A scowl was still pulling at Erik’s features when he spotted Charles, but the eyes the Jedi had never forgotten eased a bit to lose some of their bite. How interesting it would be to train that man. Erik marched to him with an efficient stride which spoke volumes of his alpha assurance. A new white tunic clung to his shoulders but appeared way too large around his extremely slim, tapered waist. Suddenly Charles felt goosebumps running under his skin, up to the base of his hair.

Oh Force, no.

“Charles.” The taller man greeted, stopping in front of him.

“Erik.” He nodded back, satisfied to find that he could keep his voice and smile under tight control as his diplomatic training had taught him to, despite the worrying pulse of  heat that the mutant’s presence caused to the lower part of his body, “Your power is amazing. I felt it the first time we met.”

“Well,” Charles heard from the man’s mind despite himself, “there are other things I didn’t feel the first time we met.”

“Yours was too, at the time.” Erik answered politely while walking alongside Charles to the Council’s room. A few silent seconds elapsed, so strained with Erik’s discomfort that the telepath didn’t dare breaking it before he spoke again.

Finally, Erik asked, smirking, “Has ‘Charles’ always been a man’s name?”

The Jedi’s eyes snapped to his, widening slightly. “What do you mean?” He read Erik’s embarrassment and irritation at being deceived, when understanding dawned. “Ah. You thought I was —”

A girl.

Force help him. When he blushed, Erik’s lips tilted in a wry smile, making him look so blatantly seductive in a delightful, predatory way, that Charles could only turn his face away, redirecting his gaze towards the big door in front of them.

“That is understandable, I suppose.” He conceded flatly — as if he wasn’t so happy to see Erik again, almost giddy. As if his stomach didn’t constrict in the mere presence of the taller man.

Charles obviously didn’t need to point out that his red lips and bright blue eyes had indeed long seemed feminine, when he had neither been an adult nor a trained Jedi with a broader muscle structure than his soft body naturally had.

"Yes. I would've liked to know, though." Again, that sardonic smile as he confessed, "Since I had a crush on you."

It was by pure kindness of fate that Charles didn't trip over his own cloak or mutter something entirely stupid. Oh, Force. Oh, Force. His heart would calm down once they got used to the presence of one another, surely.

“Not that it would’ve changed anything.” Erik added as an afterthought, even though Charles absolutely did not need to know his future padawan’s mating habits. He would avoid every conversation regarding sex, sexuality, and if Erik would rather take his omega Master standing or on his stomach?

Erik didn't seem to mind, or notice, his (blaspheming) silence as they continued walking.

“Why am I being brought to the Jedi Council?” He eventually asked, turning his intense gaze to the door.

Charles was grateful for the change of subject. It was also, even if Erik didn’t know it yet, an opening to start instructing him in the Jedi culture. “The Jedi Masters are assembled in the High Council to meet you, Erik. It is composed of the twelve most eminent Jedi of the Order.”

“Don’t you sit on the Council?” He enquired, with such genuine innocence that Charles found himself smiling, repressing a silly chuckle.

“Why, no, I don’t. I am far from being powerful enough to be part of the High Council.”

“I doubt it.”

Charles’ face broke into a grin. “And your judgement is based on your experience of…?”

He didn’t miss the way Erik glanced at his lips, but the man didn’t get flustered. “I’ve seen Darth Maul, and your Master. My mother was killed by someone who was Force-trained too. I may not know a lot of Jedi, but I’m sure you’re a very powerful one.”

Though his eyes were stained with a sudden painful sadness, Charles bowed his head. “Your trust honors me.” If only it was enough to sway Erik, whom he guessed would not be exactly thrilled to be offered the Jedi training.

He went on, throat constricted with sorrow, “I’m sorry about your mother, Erik. Was she —”

“I’d rather not speak about it now.” Erik interrupted him, contained anger spiking in his voice even as the doors opened before them. So much for warning Erik about what was about to be discussed. They walked in.

Charles stopped in the center of the room, Erik at his side. He watched the stiff figure next to him meticulously analyze the room, its high dome and tall glass windows, then the people around them who sat cross-legged on round cushions. His gaze stopped on Yoda, who was both the smallest and the most impressive being of the gathering. Surely Erik could feel the Force that emanated from him, even if it didn’t know exactly what it was.

“The man who killed the Dark apprentice, here is. Yet, but a youngling, you are.” Yoda remarked, before nodding absent-mindedly with his eyes shut. “Very strong, the Force is in this one. Very strong.”

Charles could feel it, too. Erik remained quiet, but there was something wary and primal in the way he was standing, like a wild creature ready to either throw itself at his opponents or make a break for the door.

“It’s true.” Mace Windu agreed, a thoughtful frown crossing his face. “Almost too much. Where are you from?”

“Tatooine.” Erik answered laconically. “I’m here because Jinn told me I would find what I’m looking for in this Temple.”

Charles had hissed internally upon hearing his former Master addressed so informally, but it was Ki-Adi-Mundi who pointed it out before Windu went on, “He was a Jedi Master. You could use his title.”

“And what is it that you’re looking for?”

Ignoring the Cerean Jedi, Erik answered bluntly, “Revenge. I’m after a man named Klaus Schmidt. He has ties with the Sith.”

The Jedi Masters shared a look. Charles refrained from pinching his lips in displeasure; they would not tolerate revenge as a driving force in a Padawan. He needed to redirect the conversation.

“No one of the name of Klaus Schmidt, we know.” Yoda answered after a time.

“But surely we could help him,” Charles intervened, his head bowed and posture radiating respect, “Erik must have gathered intelligence about the Sith that we could use. He helped us on Tatooine years ago when I was King of Naboo. Without him, we wouldn’t have been able to leave the planet and we would have fallen prey to the Sith. Force only knows what would’ve happened to the Senate without my vote in favor of the Republic.”

One of the ears of Yoda twitched in amusement. “A diplomat, you are, Knight Charles. So much better than your Master.” Charles liked that he kept reminding him of his link to the man, and he smiled despite himself. “But your true mind, you must speak here.”

The omega knight knew that Erik was watching him out of the corner of his eyes. He drew a breath and announced, “I intend to train Erik.”

Watching the High Council explode in shouts and imprecations had always been fascinating.

Erik, however, entirely dismissed them. His gaze focused sharply on the telepath as his irritated voice lashed out, “I’m not here for this, Charles. What are you playing at?”

As always, it was Yoda’s calm voice which brought back the order.

“Too old to be a Padawan, he is. Too young to be his Master, you are.”

But Charles could not be swayed. He was known for adopting strays — various races of children and teenagers whom he had taken in to offer them the shelter and the family they had always dreamed of. He had begun with his adopted sister Raven, but recently he had also brought Alex, Sean and Angel into the Order to serve the Exploration Corps; Hank, who worked for both the Archives and the MediCorps; Jean and Scott, for their part, had been placed at the nursery as younglings.

It wasn’t thus the first quirkiness of the former King and omega Jedi Knight.

“The Council gave me the title of Jedi Knight, and I sense that I will be perfectly capable of handling his training. As for Erik, everyone here must have felt how Force-sensitive he is. He needs to join the Light.” Or else… He thought with dread. “He needs to become a Jedi.”

Charles remembered Tatooine; he remembered that night when Erik had told him of his dreams to fly through galaxies as a free man. He had asked Charles to join him. The child King had been so tempted, though he had been tied to Naboo. His future Master had interrupted their feverish conversation to test them...

“His level of midi-chlorians is even superior to mine.” Charles added, giving the council another subtle nudge.

Whispers and glances were exchanged, while Yoda screwed up his eyes to analyze the stoic man in question.

Charles could feel Erik’s outwardly masked confusion next to his, and explained by using his telepathy: “ My level of midi-chlorians was the highest they ever encountered. They thought until now that I was the Chosen One of the prophecy, because we kept yours a secret. My Master feared their reactions as you had declined his offer to become a Jedi.”

Though it was probably the first time Erik was communicating through the Force since they last met, he managed to answer straight away.

“I don’t care, Charles. Unlessyour prophecy can help me kill Schmidt, I —”

“In fact, I think that there is a good probability that it would.”

Before he could make something of Erik’s sudden interest and questions, Shaak Ti spoke, “We’d need to find evidence of what you’re claiming. Where are the results of his tests?”

“Destroyed.” Charles answered with a tight smile. “Of course.”

He had not expect Erik to speak up.

“But you could run them again right now by taking a blood sample.”

He didn’t move from his current position when Charles turned to him in pleased surprise; Erik was standing straight, his hands crossed behind his back. Pale eyes bluer than what Charles remembered. He defied the world just by remaining still, and his chin was raised, speaking of a fierce pride only former slaves possessed.

Not for the first time, Charles wondered how he’d be able to maintain his superiority as a Master over such a creature. When he caught himself noticing a bit too acutely his potential padawan’s sharp and dusty features, his copper stubble and his outfit — white tunic over brown leather pants — Charles forced his gaze back to Master Windu, who was crossing the chambers towards them with the device used for midi-chlorian testing. Master Windu returned to his seat when he was finished and, predictably, a few seconds later…

“I confirm what Master Xavier has just said. This man has the highest midi-chlorian level ever known in the galaxy.”

However, when Windu passed the device to his closest neighbour, his dark eyes flashed to Erik.

“You’re an alpha.” He asserted accusingly, as if not telling them straight away constituted a grave offense.

As Erik didn’t answer, shouts and whispers rose again. Charles’ mind tensed. This was it. He looked towards Yoda, whose ears were flicked back.

“A Jedi, an alpha can never become.”

“Nor could omegas, not so long ago.” Adi Gallia pointed out, though more to be fair than by conviction.

At that, Yoda closed his eyes.

“Hm.” A few seconds elapsed. “By an omega, an alpha should not be trained. Interfere between Master and Apprentice, love should not.”

“It won’t.” Was all Charles could say without sounding ridiculous, and yet it earned him a brief look from Erik. The Force was urging him to take this man as his Padawan. He had sworn to his former Master that he would.

“If trained he must be, it should be by someone else.” Shaak Ti countered. “By a beta, an older beta.”

“I won’t be trained by someone other than Charles.” Erik proclaimed fiercely. Charles would have been flattered if Erik's resolution didn’t sound so influenced by his alpha instincts to be close to an unmated omega. “We have a…” He seemed to think over what he meant to say.

“A bond?” Windu offered.

“Yes.”

“No!” Charles shouted when the Jedi Master recoiled and blinked. The future Master’s cheeks were flushed with embarrassment. Force, Erik didn’t even know what a bond meant between alphas and omegas. He was so screwed, he wouldn’t teach him. “We don’t have a bond! I did not break the Code, Erik meant that we have history. He knows me.”

The High Council visibly calmed down at his words, though Charles was still flustered and Erik looked confused at his side.

What did I say? He asked. What’s a bond?

Later . He answered, and Sith! He hoped the man would undertake some research of his own.

“I am very uncertain about this whole matter.” Gallia finally said, turning to Yoda. “I would need time to think about it.”

When he sensed that the matter would be postponed, discussed, and refused, Charles warned, “I should tell you beforehand that I will train this man no matter the Council’s decision. If he is the Chosen One, Erik needs our protection as much as we need his help. My mind is set.”

As expected, everybody turned to Yoda, who had kept his eyes shut since he had last spoken. Breaking the thick silence was Erik’s racing mind, loud and sharp in a way Charles had seldom encountered. The Jedi Knight had the time to draw several calming breaths before the honest troll spoke again.

“End and beginning. A whole circle, they form. A strong omega, a strong alpha needs. But a Master, will he consider you, hm?”

That was the real question. What disgrace it would be to fail a Padawan who would rather disobey than respect his Master's guidance. Charles had to turn his head to his right in order to look at Erik, whose steel eyes pierced through his own. He seemed to take in Charles' strength and figure without breaking his gaze. Evaluating the situation with his clever mind.

After a split second, he answered Yoda’s questions, solemnly and without doubt, “I will.”

Charles’ heart pounded in his chest. Erik made it seem so easy, while the Jedi had seen, had felt throughout the galaxy how alphas considered themselves the better of their vulnerable, “weak” mates. Erik didn’t show any sign of this contempt, and yet, his alpha aura crushed the entire room, demanded everyone's attention and submission.

A strong omega for a strong alpha.

“Behind your Master, you shall always stand, Padawan.” Yoda tested with narrowed eyes, but Erik didn’t fail them; he took a simple step back and disappeared from Charles’s peripheral vision. Goosebumps erupted on his arms, legs and nape. The feeling was exhilarating. He felt guilty for not being able to put aside their nature, but a wild contentment still ran through his veins at the thought that an alpha was willingly submitting to him. Yoda nodded approvingly and turned to Mace Windu.

“We should test him.” Was all the Master said, as the troll transferred the weight of his wise gaze to Charles.

“Not long ago, a youngling you still were. Now, a Padawan of your own, you have. With anger and pain, his heart is clouded. From the Dark Side, protect him you shall..”

Honor and a respectful gratefulness incensed his being when he felt Erik tentatively open his wounded heart and mistrustful mind to him in order to embrace their new status as Yoda had just prescribed. Charles had to breath in not to choke with emotion. His Padawan.

Mace Windu’s voice echoed once more, “May the Force be with you.”

 

Chapter Text

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