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[personal profile] monstrousregiment
Title: Brief Lives (19/?)
Author: monstrousreg
Word count:  3858
Warnings:  none for this chapter.
Pairing: Erik/Charles.
Summary: Erik thinks he's going to seduce, interrogate and murder some nondescript CIA intelligence agent, and winds up biting more than he can chew. Charles is not keen on being murdered, he doesn't favor interrogations, and he's certainly not willing to be seduced. That he's not cooperating is midly put.   
Notes:  Unbetaed, and stuff.
We're fast approaching the end of this story =) I'm just wrapping up the last of the plot points and we'll be done in, say, 4 or 5 more chapters, I think.

My LJ for other chapters. I'll start editing them now, including a link for the following one.

It’s evening and outside, rain pounds against the manor’s new window panes as if wants to get in and slap them all.

Erik lights a cigarette and offers the pack to Fraser, who turns it down.

“Filthy habit. Disgusting. I could list all the ways it can kill you, but like you’ll listen to me.”

Charles waves a hand, “He listens to you. Occasionally.”

“Right,” Fraser rolls his eyes. “So what’s this I hear about you thinking you broke your head?”

Charles shoots Erik an annoyed look, “Not the exact expression. I think I might have done something to myself, though. Maybe some sort of psychological block? I thought you might be able to help.”

“What makes you think this is self-imposed? What happened that leads you to that conclusion?”

Charles and Erik share a long look. Finally, Erik nods, slowly but firmly.

“I think you might want to sit,” Charles says, gesturing towards the armchairs. Fraser inclines his head, but takes a seat on the end of the sofa instead, a spot where he won’t be isolated and confined. It’s a show of good will; he’s smart enough to tell what’s coming will be bad, but open enough to listen to everything with his usual patience.

“I’ll go first,” Erik says, blowing smoke from parted lips. “Because it started with me.”

He takes a deep breath, stubs out his half-smoked cigarette and sits in front of Fraser, leaning forward. He twists and offers his left arm to the medic, laying his hand palm-up on Fraser’s thigh. The doctor’s eyebrows quirk, but he readily unwraps the bandages, uncovering miles of pale skin and the stark ink of an old tattoo.

“Auschwitz-Birkenau. I was thirteen. He went by the name Schmidt then, and he found out I was a mutant because when they took my parents away, I twisted and deformed the fence gate between us.”

The story goes on. Erik doesn’t go into gory details, but he doesn’t spare Fraser any sort of discomfort either. Not because he wants to see the medic flinch—which he never does, anyway—but because he knows the man can take it, and the only way he can show respect for that is giving him everything.

And to Fraser’s credit he takes the story in with admirable calm, at least until Charles hesitates over the first time he was sexually assaulted. Here Fraser stands, gesturing with his hand for a moment for Charles to stop and heading over to the bar. He pours himself a generous amount of whiskey that he downs in one gulp, without hissing, and then, more sedately, pours three shots and sets them on the table.

Once more perfectly composed, he crosses his legs and laces his fingers, inviting Charles to carry on.

Charles bullheads through his reluctance and tells him about his absolute terror field, though he finds he can’t do it if he’s not touching Erik, in this case with his fingers clamped around Erik’s knee. It’s hard and it hurts, but Erik doesn’t complain. He hates that he’s sitting with Charles on his right side, his right arm immobilized, but he doesn’t want to stand—Charles is at his most vulnerable when speaking of these matters and can be easily intimidated into silence.

Fraser’s careful to look Charles in the eye, even as his cheeks go livid alternatively with anger and disgust.

He only closes his eyes once Charles says that the last he remembers before he woke up in the hospital was the white noise of Shaw’s encompassing pain in his own mind. The doctor holds his tumbler of whiskey on a steady hand, swallows a mouthful and nods, slowly.

“Alright,” he says, voice rough, and stops to clear his throat and give a quick shake of his head. He stops Charles with a gesture when the telepath makes to get up and move closer. He swallows the rest of his shot, clears his throat again and laces his fingers.

“Alright,” he starts again. “One less monster in the world.” He waves a hand when Charles opens his mouth. “Leave it, Charlie. There’s a special place in hell for people like him, and I can’t bring myself to think the Lord would want you to turn you other cheek for that man. You did fine by me.”

“We’re not going to hell, then?” Erik can’t help but ask.

Fraser gives him a startlingly jaded look. “’Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless’. Isaiah 10: 1-2. Let’s not forget Jesus was Jewish, Erik.”

Erik sits back, shocked. Fraser rubs his forehead with his thumb, trying to unknot a migraine that’s been growing throughout the day.
“So you think Shaw’s last great act of cruelty was robbing you of your telepathy, Charlie?”

Charles runs a hand through his hair, sighing. “Surely there must be a cost to what I did. I held him back while he was murdered. Surely there—“

“It’s not that easy, though. Your powers aren’t gone, obviously. Your telepathy’s still there, in your skin, and through Erik, so it’s definitely not gone.” 

Charles looks at Erik, puzzled. “What does that mean?”

Erik blinks, “I’ve no idea. Fraser, what are you talking about? Through me?”

Fraser arches his brows, “You project, obviously. You can’t do that on your own, so… you hadn’t realized?”

Erik pales. “No. You’re wrong. I’m not a telepath.”

“Well, certainly not a subtle one. How do you think I understood what you thought about me, how very perceptive I am? I mean, yes, alright, of course—but not only that. You project. You even communicate. You told Ororo you were going to buy her a new copy of Jane Eyre, without moving your mouth. You—good God, you really didn’t know?”

Erik stands, raking a hand through his hair.

“This is dangerous,” Charles says frankly. “Erik, try to—“

“I could kill someone,” Erik interrupts, pacing. “I’ve—you’ve done that, I know you have, and I have no control over this. Charles you were supposed to—“

Charles gets to his feet, catching Erik by the waist and forcing him to look at his face.

“Calm down, please. Freaking out won’t help any. Deep breaths now, Erik.”

“Think of contention,” Fraser offers. “Your mind is a strict place, yeah? Almost militarized. Think of compartments and put the telepathy there. Think of borders in your mind where your extended gift is meant to stay.“

Fraser has a graphic idea of the place, and it floods unbidden and unwelcomed into Erik’s mind. Unfortunately Fraser is not thinking of sharing, not really, and the unpleasant and private mental image is that of a fenced-in fortress, probably meant to be a prison. In Erik’s mind it translates into a ghetto and then, swiftly, uncontrolled, into Auschwitz.

Charles winces, fingers tightening on Erik’s waist. Turn away from that. Don’t listen to Mikey, listen to me. Find the bond and fall back into it.
Erik honestly tries, but now that Fraser’s presented the possibility, he can’t help but listen to the thoughts of others, drifting into his mind, heedless of his growing panic. Fraser, who is no idiot, stands and moves to the door, intending no doubt to get himself quickly out of range and possibly even alert the others. But now that he’s no longer thinking of the prison, he thinks instead of what an uncontrolled, untrained and panicked telepath can do on the helpless minds of others, and—for a split second, flitting and immediately discarded—the thought of giving Erik something to calm down passes through his mind.

Fraser might have been thinking of anything ranging between valium and tea, but Erik falls down on him as aggressively as if he’d pulled out a gun and aimed it at his forehead. Charles clamps down on Erik immediately, shutting down the telepathy with the ease born of years of practice, but even then it’s not fast enough.

Fraser sinks to the floor like a stone, soundlessly hitting the floor.

Charles throws up mental shields so harshly and quickly that both he and Erik wince.

“Are you alright?” Charles asks, eyes wide and fingers tight on Erik’s waist.

“Better,” Erik manages, feeling marginally more balanced now that his mind is safely contained within the looming walls of Charles’ formidable shields.

“Are you certain? Can I let you go?”

Erik looks down and realizes Charles has wrapped his hand around his bare left wrist, using the contact to channel his telepathy.
“I’m—how do I maintain the shields?”

“They’ll hold regardless, I built them through the bond. I used the skin to it more quickly, though, so you might feel dizzy when I let go. Are you alright?”

Erik realizes the urgency buzzing beneath Charles’ skin is quickly solidifying into dread.

Fraser. Fuck.

Erik twists his hand away, blinking against the dizziness even as he pushes Charles away. The geneticist gives him a glance, but his eyes are wide and troubled, and he drops to his knees at the doctor’s side and turns him around. Erik stumbles closer.

Fraser fell flat on his face, and his lip is split. There’s blood on his nostrils, but the nose seems unbroken. More distressingly, his clear green eyes are open half-way and empty. A cold knot of dread settles heavily on Erik’s stomach, and he braces himself on the arm of the sofa and goes down on his knees next to Charles, uncertain as to what he can do to help. Darkly he thinks he’s done quite enough.

“He’s not dead,” Charles says with relief, taking the man’s face in his hands. “Just gone. I’ll go in and get him, I’ll be a minute.”

Charles sometimes speaks of minds as if they weren’t fragile, flimsy constructions of illusions and ideas and easily torn concepts. Erik thinks just gone and thinks of Fraser that morning in the breakfast table, leaning over Scott’s shoulder to point at his plate and say eat that, it’s good for your eyes.

He closes his eyes and, carefully, eases his way into Charles’ mind through the bond. Instantly he’s flooded by a barrage if images, a slideshow of memories that, in the whole, form and construct the architecture of Michael Fraser’s mind.

He pays attention.

He doesn’t know how long it lasts. Fraser’s mind is a warm, orderly place with images of memories set chronologically, one after the other, but also organized by the name of those in the memories, and by the seasons of the year, and more often than not he remembers by the age of his children. He doesn’t know how to meet people without categorizing them into the following labels: asshole, imbecile, sister/brother, daughter/son, lover. He hasn’t met a woman in his life that he hasn’t thought he’d like to be with, and he hasn’t met a single patient that he hasn’t adopted as his own.

Curious, Erik nudges the swiftly moving images to find himself, and see what Fraser truly thinks of him. Charles admonishes him gently, but complies, pushing Erik in the correct direction where.

The first time Michael Fraser laid eyes on him, it was in a seedy little Oxford bar, and he was telling Charles Stop that, Charles, our love can never be, you know that. I’m a prince and you’re a beggar, but his clear green eyes had already pinned Erik, and he felt uneasy. Michael can tell when a man is out for blood, and Erik’s eyes spoke of dark corners and sharp knives. But Charles returned quickly enough, seemingly unharmed, and smiled and thought Won’t bother me for a while, I think. Michael sends back Scared him good? Charles steals Michael’s pint and grins, Spooked him at least.

Years later his wife—Erik knows her through Michael’s eyes, a heart-stopping beautiful Chilean woman of wide dark eyes and honey-colored hair, a mind like a diamond and a tongue like a blade—shakes him awake in the middle of the night, frowning. Charles is on the phone. He sounds panicked. Something about a friend’s arms.

Mikey, please—I know it’s late and I know it’s a lot to ask but please, I can’t—his arms, Mikey, he’ll never be the same and you’re the best. This is all my fault and he—I couldn’t protect him, Mikey, I brought him over and now he might lose his arms and—

Hours later Michael is on a plane pouring over medical books that explain the possible side effects of deep surgery on an arm, and even that doesn’t prepare him for the sight. He lays a hand on Erik’s forehead and says to the assistant surgeon, Introduce yourself to his tendons, you’re about to get close acquainted with them.

Erik sleeps the sleep of the heavily sedated, and Michael sits on the edge of Charles’ bed and holds him like he would his son as Charles goes brokenly through his own torture at Shaw’s hands. When Charles finally sleeps, Michael stands over Erik’s bed and shifts the covers unnecessarily, as if attempting to tuck him in.

Logan snorts, I don’t think he’ll appreciate the coddling, bub.

Michael goes to the chapel, and wakes the father without a single flinch of remorse or restraint. Do you know Jewish prayers, father? Or where I can maybe find a rabbi?

It’s Saturday, doctor. Sabbath.

But I need—

Pray for the child in your own faith, the father says kindly. If you mean it, any and all Gods will listen.

So he goes back to the room, lays his hand again on Erik’s forehead and murmurs the Father’s Prayer, and then the Hail Mary. Out of verses, he thinks simply, Look upon Thy child, O Lord, and see he’s done no evil—hold his hand in his need, that he may find health and peace at the end of this road you’ve out him on.

He’s my lover, Charles says the next evening, brushing hair away from Erik’s forehead. Erik sleeps, and he has a fever, but nothing worrisome. Michael squeezes Charles’ shoulder and says, He’ll be fine, boy. He’s a tough one, I can tell.

Charles looks up, eyes wide and moist, You knew I was queer, I know you did. But you never saw me differently, Mikey. Has the Lord not said that I am to be in Hell?

The Lord says many things, Michael replies. He says love thy neighbor, and believe in the ways of the Lord thy savior. He made you who you are, and who am I to argue? Just be careful not to get hurt.

Charles stares at him and says, You never told me why you went to the Auschwitz Memorial.

Michael lays his stethoscope comfortably on Erik’s chest and listens. Once comforted by the reassuringly steady rhythm of his patient’s heart, he withdraws. He doesn’t know if Erik’s been sexually assaulted as well, and would like to know before he touches more than he’s welcome to.

Because seeing is better than knowing by the mouths of others, he says. Because once you go there, all of those ghosts and all that death and the horror that impregnates the walls takes hold of you and I know, Charles, that I’ll always remember. And so long as I remember, I know I’ll never stand back and let it happen again.

Michael fails to be either surprised or impressed when Erik awakens and is, as expected, a complete asshole. The man is a healthy active person, and those never make good patients, especially when they can’t fend for themselves. Michael wants to tread carefully around a man that’s been abused, but Lehnsherr doesn’t want to be treated carefully, so Michael gives him what he wants. It’s too easy to grow fond of him; argumentative and pissy as he is, Lehnsherr Is intelligent, and he doesn’t see himself as a victim, which makes it easy not to see him as one.

He sees Lehnsherr as a puzzle, a collection of characteristics that Michael finds amusing and interesting. Michael wonders what makes Erik hate him more; that he’s a human, or that he’s a Catholic. The idea doesn’t bother him. Michael has no room for hate in his own heart, so Erik can crash against him all he wants; he’ll never hurt him. Eventually, Michael knows, the anger will dry out and the loathing will scab over. Perhaps Erik’s never really looked at it in the eyes, and the ability to throw it on Michael’s face and rail against it helps.

All Michael really cares about is that the fingers on those hands move, and that Charles finds some nook of happiness and comfort in the sharp angles of Lehnsherr’s geometrical mind, and that perhaps someday Lehnsherr himself can lay his rage to rest.

It feels a little insulting to pray for him, though, he says on the phone, and his wife Sofia laughs. I feel like if I tell him he’s in my prayers he’ll disembowel me with a spoon.

All the more reason to pray for him, Sofia says, soft honey accent tender. I wonder what he would do if you showed him a rosary, told him he’s in your mind.

Strangle me with it, no doubt.

It’s not until that afternoon in the lawn when Erik tells him what Charles and he did that Michael understands.

Oh, he thinks, and looks at Erik with clear eyes, and sees him for what he is. No, honey. You won’t get me to hate you. I won’t let you.

Too many people care about you for me to think you’re worthless, Michael thinks, and Erik startles and draws back sharply, withdrawing until the study settles back around him.

Charles slides an arm under Fraser’s shoulders and helps him sit up. The medic rolls his head back, touching his nose gingerly.

“Not broken,” he says with a sigh. “Though I’ll be a sight, now. Sofia’s going to punch you in the balls.”

Erik swallows heavily and attempts to make sense of the world, and fails. Charles goes to get the med kit, and Fraser wobbles to his feet. Unthinking, Erik puts his left hand on his elbow and steadies him, still wordless. He clears his throat as he steers Fraser down towards the couch and makes him roll his head back again.

“Sofia,” he says finally. “She’s coming over?”

“And the kids,” Fraser sighs. “I thought it’d be good for everyone to have some humans around. Besides—“

“Those are your children,” Erik cuts in. “You’re putting them on the line.”

“Do you have intentions of letting my children come to harm?” Fraser asks instead, pinning Erik with a cool look.

Erik doesn’t hesitate, “Never. No child would—no. Not while I draw breath.”

Fraser smiles, rather ghastly with his lip cut open and teeth coated red, but there’s warmth in his eyes.

“Good boy. Now please seat, you’re giving me a headache.”

Erik hesitates, and becomes keenly aware that Charles is taking his sweet time with the med kit. He rolls his eyes, sits down on the couch next to Fraser and sighs.

“Shaw wasn’t the first man I murdered,” he says bluntly.

Fraser gives him a tired look, “I’m seating here bleeding because you slapped me with you mind and you want to discuss your troubled past? Honestly, Erik, fuck you. I have a migraine and a split lip. Could we maybe focus on me, would that be too much to ask?”

Erik grins, “Who the hell raised a creature like you, Fraser?”

“A Texan lady, obviously,” Fraser retorts.

Charles does eventually return with the med kit, and Erik watches calmly as the geneticist cleans Fraser’s face. The cut on his lip is not deep, and will heal without scarring. His nose is tender and soon it bruises, but the damage is negligible. Still, tired and bruised, Fraser asks they delay the psychological exploration of Charles’ traumas to the next day.

Charles and Erik retire early to bed. With his left arm left unwrapped and the aid of his gift, Erik can undress himself, a much welcomed change in the routine. When Charles returns from the bathroom, teeth clean and hair combed back, he stops hi with a hand on his arm, and makes him face him.

“How did you know I’d listen to him?” he asks quietly.

“I hoped,” Charles answers. “Mikey did a lot for me, back then. I was angry and hurt, and I said horrible things, but he only ever offered me his hand and his roof and a safe place to sleep and lick my wounds. He took me into his family, Erik, no reservations. And he doubted, yes—he was scared, sometimes, he hesitated, but he pulled through for me every single time. I admire that from him more than if he had not doubted. He gave me chances. I wouldn’t be the man I am today if Mikey hadn’t insisted I had lunch with him and his children every Sunday. He kept my faith in humanity and I hoped… I hoped he would be able to do that for you, as well.”

Erik sat down on the edge of the bed, pulling Charles into the space between his thighs, inhaling the scent on the dip of his collarbone.
Erik feels undone. Emotionally strained, angry and irritated but anxious and anguished at the same time, something roiling uneasy at the pit of his stomach. It’s like the truths that have lined the shelves of his life are unraveling, one by one. Without the distant pull of the goal of Shaw’s death as a beacon, he’s not sure of what direction he’s supposed to go. He drifts, uncertain, unsure.

“I don’t know…” he starts, pressing his forehead to Charles’ chest and shivering when the telepath wraps his arms firmly around his broad shoulders, offering what comfort he’s able.

He doesn’t need to say the words—Charles understands. Without Shaw, without the driving rage that gave him determination, without the distrust of humanity that kept him single-minded in his road to mutant supremacy, without the resentment for Catholicism that kept him firm in his beliefs and his pain, Erik hardly knows who he is. He’s never been free of those feelings; they’ve been as constant a presence in his life as his gift.

“We’ll start anew,” Charles murmurs into his ear, kissing his temple. “We’ll start fresh, you and I. We’re together now. You’re not alone, Erik.”

With the lack of telepathy threatening panic on Charles nearly every minute of every day, the nights are almost asphyxiating for Erik. Charles clings like a parasite, trying to find comfort in the corners of Erik’s mind, almost trying to curl up inside him and rub against the familiar murmur of alien thoughts. Erik tolerates it because Charles is terrified of the lack of his gift, but most nights it drives him insane.

Tonight, he doesn’t mind at all.

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December 2011

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