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Title: The Bell's Toll (4/?)
Author: monstrousreg
Word count:  2645
Warnings:  Violence, fast pacing, eventual NC-17. So, uh, the usual for me, I suppose. 
Pairing: Erik/Charles.
Summary: Nikkita AU inspired by this prompt. A sort of fusion between the two series, with a healthy (or not) dose of my own imagination. Charles Xavier goes to prison, and is recruited by a spy/assassin division of the government. Dismal a beginning as this might look, it unbelievably goes downhill. Erik, the necessary stoic ex-military man, gets sidled with him. Not a single person is amused.      
Notes: Unbetaed, and stuff. Look, I don't even know, Charles is insane, this is probably my subconscious telling me to murder someone. I'm just... going to go along for the ride, because I feel like writing something fast and violent. But for those of you concerned, Erik is unlikely to ran into grievous bodily harm anytime soon at any point. 

Prologue

Charles woke up with a soft intake of breath, strikingly lucid in the darkness of his room, a whole two seconds before Lehnsherr knocked on his door to wake him up.

Baskerville was curled up protectively at the foot of his bed, hind legs hanging off the side.  

“I’ll be up in a moment,” Charles called, sitting up in bed and running his fingers through his hair. Lehnsherr made a grumbling sound of acknowledgement and left down the hall towards the cafeteria.

“I think a different approach is in order, old boy,” Charles told Baskerville, absently reaching over to tug on the hound’s closest ear.

“We need Lehnsherr, so if you could kindly refrain from ripping him to shreds, I would certainly appreciate it.”

Baskerville whined, ears flopping down against his skull.

“None of that, my darling,” Charles said quietly. “Don’t be whimsical. We’re too old for that. You know we need Lehnsherr, so. No more of that urge to destroy him at every turn, hm?”

The hound didn’t seem pleased, but he reluctantly lowered his heavy head to his paws, folding to Charles’ will. The wild side of Charles’ telepathy might be dangerous, but it was thankfully very much under the control of his rational thinking. This was something Charles was very strict about; Baskerville had free rein almost always, but he obeyed when called to do so.
The hound prowled ahead of him, scouting the corridors, as Charles made his way to the cafeteria.

“I can’t live like this,” he announced when he was standing next to the table Lehnsherr was sitting at. “If I’m expected to survive your horrendous training, I need better tea.”

Lehnsherr looked blank. “We haven’t even started training yet, princess.”

Charles frowned, looking over Lehnsherr’s breakfast; a half-empty mug of black coffee and a closed bottle of ibuprofen.

“Do you have an injury that requires constant pain medication?”

“Now we care, do we?”

“I wouldn’t say I care. I’m curious, however.”

“You’re such a sweet person, I’m touched.”

“I’m made of sugar and melt in the rain. Injury, yes or no?”

“No to the injury. I have a chronic headache.”

“Chronic headache?” Charles frowned. “What’s the cause? Is it neurological? You should probably get that looked at. If you have chronic cranial neuralgias, the chances of a stroke raise every day you don’t get treated.”

Lehnsherr stared at him.

“I can see how you don’t care.”

Charles sighed, “I’m not a horrible person all of the time. I’m just saying if there’s a way to prevent or stop the pain without you living off a bottle of pills, I recommend you grasp at it.”

Lehnsherr narrowed his eyes cunningly. “You’re not comfortable with drugs, are you?”

Two syringes, son. This one’s for your head. If you behave, I’ll give you the one for the pain.

Baskerville pushed his head against Charles’ thigh, ears flattening down against his skull and tail swishing.  

“They are bad for… your stomach,” Charles said vaguely.

Lehnsherr stared at him.

“So, training?” Charles smiled.

The man shook his head, finished his mug in one gulp and rose to his feet. As he slipped the bottle of painkillers into his pocket, Baskerville sniffed at it. Charles’ sense of smell was amongst his less developed, but his telepathy gave him information he wouldn’t otherwise have available. Buildings had memories; as did objects, if people carried them with them long enough. Lehnsherr carried the little bottle with him everywhere.

The bottle was labeled Ibuprofen. The pills were not.

Baskerville, who had by some miracle managed not to give into the urge to dismember Lehnsherr even once in the last fifteen minutes, went right back to sullen and distrustful, and put himself between the two of them. Charles sighed.

Lehnsherr spoke of endurance like it was something Charles had never even heard of in his life. He therefore felt the need to do everything in his power to improve whatever abilities Charles had which, physically speaking, were admittedly meager.

“You’ve got a good body type for a fighter,” Lehnsherr said once they had both warmed up by running more laps around the gym that Charles had even cared to count. If the man wanted Charles to feel like he was in hell, he certainly was proficient at it. “A little soft around the edges, but good solid bone structure. I can probably work with that.”

“Your faith in me is nothing short of heart-warming.”

Lehnsherr ignored that with the practiced ease of a put-upon personal trainer. “Your file said you’re a talented pianist. Think about a sheet of music. You remember how the silences are as important as the notes, right?”

“Yes, of course.”

“The same with fighting. It’s important that you know what your strong points are, but you also need to understand your weaknesses. Right now, your weaknesses are that you’re soft, slow, you have no knowledge or technique, and you’ve got a bad right knee and a weak right wrist.

“Result of a long career in fencing, I’m afraid. A bit like a tennis player’s elbow.”

The man gave him a flat look, “That wasn’t on your file.”

“Really? That’s just plain negligence. I have no reason to cover up that I indulged in a perfectly gentlemanly and elegant sport. Precisely what is in that file of yours?” Charles was genuinely curious, because the whole thing sounded appallingly poor researched.

Displaying a truly admirable capacity to ignore annoyance, Lehnsherr moved on to basic combat training. Charles had had a very brief affair with wrestling in school, a sport he had very quickly turned away from because all of that skin contact played havoc with his telepathy, and the last thing he needed was to be broadcasting on all signals the unfocused aggression of a testosterone-filled teenage boy.

“You ought to know,” Charles said, raising his hands to stop Lehnsherr momentarily. “When I’m on direct skin-to-skin contact my telepathy is often doing whatever it well pleases. It’s entirely possible it will single you out as a threat and bring you down before you can teach me anything.”

“Can’t you just turn it off for the purposes of training?” Lehnsherr sounded exasperated.

“It’s not like a light-switch, pet. I can’t just up and decide I trust you and we’re merry little friends. I try to get my instincts to circumvent the desire to hurt you, but,” he eyed Baskerville, ready to pounce at a fraction of a second’s notice, hackles raised entirely off wickedly curved fangs. “it’s not working.”

“You treat your telepathy like it’s a different entity from you. I don’t understand,” Lehnsherr straightened. “My gift, it’s not like that. I don’t feel it that way. It’s a part of me, as natural as my lungs, runs with my blood on my veins.”

“Sometimes your mastery of English leaves something to be desired, my Germanic friend. Different entity? Quite. Schizophrenia, remember? For all I can control it, my telepathy is quite separate from me. It even has its very own temper, you ought to be warned, and it’s often not nice. You are German, aren’t you?”

Lehnsherr seemed to find so many things wrong in that whole speech that it took him a moment to finally settle for, “Polish.”

“Oh, is that so? Poland is such a lovely country. Beautiful architecture. Also of notice is the fact that people don’t normally have last-names like Lehnsherr, of German origin, or first names like Erik, which isn’t even German, by the way. It’s of Norse origin, did you know? It means ‘eternal ruler’.”

“You don’t know when to stop talking, do you?” Lehnsherr asked, rubbing his eyes tiredly.

Baskerville snorted derisively. The truth was the opposite; Charles knew perfectly well when to shut up, which didn’t necessarily mean he did it at the right time. Experience proved that the more you talked the less people listened; so if there was any note of truth to Charles’ annoying long tirades, and there usually was, very few people caught on to them. Charles talked; he said a diamond and three pieces of glass, and if he was careful, or conversely careless enough about it, no one saw the diamond, because they focused on the glass. Not consciously in any case; but the mind missed very little, and it reacted to the diamonds. Charles could see through the tinted glass of consciousness and into the bare core of the subconscious. 

There were a thousand ways he could answer Lehnsherr’s words, hundreds of lines piling together in the inside of his skull, so many answers, so many choices. All aggressive. Minds, even shielded, were ever so easy to raze, and Just push a little more, pet, that’s it, right there, and a twist, son, that’s my boy.

He closed his eyes.

“Just teach me to fight other people. I can fight myself on my own.”

It began again. Most of Charles’ time was spent falling, stumbling, being tripped, being pushed, shoved, pulled, hurt. Baskerville was a black mass of seething hate in a corner, tightly restrained and furious for it. Charles let Lehnsherr land more bruises on him in one day than he had in a year of his childhood.

He had to admit the man was a work of art. Lehnsherr had exquisite control over every single muscle of his body that could be used for attack or defense. He was slick as he was elegant, violent as he was precise, fast as lightening, as easily grasped as smoke. A predator. And not a single moment of it was mindless; it was all calculated, to the very fraction of an inch. Where to land a punch, where to aim the kick, how to get Charles off balance.

The one thing he never succeeded in doing was goading him.

“Anger will help,” he said, circling the telepath as he moved, slinking like a jungle cat, every second active, never stopping. Charles wiped blood from his cut lip and stared at his long pianist’s fingers, trembling with exertion. He saw Lehnsherr move, tracked his mind, but the image was fractured, and in the fissures he saw lab tables and needles and white coats splattered with blood and remembered Big boys don’t cry, son.

“My anger and yours aren’t similar,” he said faintly, knitting his mind back together into the present. Baskerville strained against his leashes, eager to be set free.

“Anger is the same for everyone,” Lehnsherr countered, and appeared quite literally out of nowhere to twist Charles’ arm behind his back and bring him down to his knees with a gasp.

Charles sighed, allowing his muscles to go limp in the man’s grasp. Struggle would only worsen the resulting injuries.
“The nature of the emotion is the same,” he said, getting shakily to his feet when Lehnsherr released him. “Not so its manifestation.”

“Alright,” Lehnsherr smiled, and finally, finally stopped moving. He stood in a wide fighter’s stance, feet wide apart and legs braced for impact, and loosened his shoulders with a shake. “Show me how your anger is so different from mine. Get angry. Give me a taste of it.”

Charles fixed him with a flat-eyed stare. Lehnsherr held his gaze, as prepared as he thought he needed to be.

Baskerville panted, smelling blood.

Charles closed his eyes.

“Your anger burns like a supernova a layer above all your thoughts, Lehnsherr. I don’t know what’s made you this way, and I am ever so sorry, for it must have happened in your most tender childhood. Whatever was done to you, however you were wronged, has made that emotion readily available to you as a weapon.”

He opened his eyes, raised his hand and snapped his fingers, and for a single moment, a fraction of a second splintered in a thousand slivers of sharp-edged glass, he allowed his mind to reach out, to expand, to breathe and pulse like the living, breathing entity it was, separate from Charles in all its glory and as much a part of him and yet as independent as his beating heart.

Baskerville caught fire, flames so dark they fed on light, eyes like dying stars and fangs blinding white. For a second, less than that, Lehnsherr’s mind saw the hound and subsequently shut the knowledge down, unable to comprehend it. The man was left with an idea, a sensation, perhaps a shadow of a doubt of just how powerful Charles was; nothing concrete. His mind, non-telepathic, wasn’t prepared to understand completely what had just been done to him.

Charles snapped his fingers and pulled back, folded inside himself like the wings of a dragon, hid his power behind his eyes and sank it down into the center of his mind, wrapped by layers of silver spiderwebs.

Charles was not a three out of then in the psi scale. Neither was he a five.

Lehnsherr swayed on his feet.

“My anger isn’t my weapon,” Charles smiled faintly. “It’s my demon. Do you understand?”

“What manner of creature are you?” Lehnsherr answered, ashen-faced.

“There are many schools of thought on the subject,” Charles sighed. He turned and watched Baskerville out of the corner of his eye. The hound was subdued, satisfied by the display of power that seemed to have put Lehnsherr on a quiet, cautious mood. “If you were to believe my father, I’m a God amongst insects. My step-father was of a different inclination, as you well know.”

“What was your graduation on the psi scale?” the man circled close, head tilted, warned but not cowed. He was alarmed, and no wonder, but was also apparently fascinated by the notion that he’d stumbled upon a creature with a bigger potential for destruction than himself. This, it appeared, was a good thing.

Charles figured this was a good time to start worrying about his trainer’s mental health. The man was subjecting him to such intense scrutiny that even Baskerville was beginning to squirm. Charles knew from experience the best way to derail someone’s mind.

By being a complete and utter asshole. He even threw in a smile: “Who is John Galt?”

Lehnsherr straightened. “This is one of the things you’re never going to tell me, is it? Like whether you did or not kill Marko.”

“Like what your real name is, Mister Erik Lehnsherr,” Charles smiled like an open wound.

He knew how unbearable it was for people to realize he was not an innocent. His blue eyes, pale skin and apple-red lips made everyone think he had had an easy life, and for a while there indeed he had. That spot of time between his father’s death and the coming of his step-father, and then when he’d been powerful enough to protect himself and get away. For a while, he’d almost, almost had happiness at the grasp of his fingertips.

And then Marko goes and dies, and he goes to prison. There was quite possibly not a single thing Marko had done, in life or in death, that hadn’t fucked Charles up.

“Trusting one another would be wise,” Lehnsherr said, eyeing him speculatively.

“I never said I was wise,” Charles replied. “And you’ll kill me before you trust me.”

Lehnsherr wiped a big hand down his face. “Let’s move into weapons. You can probably handle yourself better with a blade.”

“Hm,” Charles said, noncommittal, and followed Lehnsherr docilely to the corner of the gymnasium, where some fencing equipment was available. Baskerville kept pace with him, loping graceful like a wolf.

What a foolish mistake, Charles thought, brushing mental fingers over the hound’s rough hair. To make such a display… yet the telepath wasn’t paying attention, I can tell. And he has no idea what I did to him.

“Foil, saber or sword?” Lehnsherr asked, arching his brows.

Charles’ best and favorite weapon was the saber, so of course: “Sword, if you please.”

He took the proffered foil with a wry twist of the mouth, not nearly a smile, and thought idly of Rorschach: You think I’m locked in here with you. But you’re wrong; you’re locked in here with me!



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