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[personal profile] monstrousregiment
Title: Brief Lives (16/?)
Author: monstrousreg
Word count:  3024
Warnings:  Mentions of torture, lots of blood, gore, Shaw (he's a warning all on his own). 
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. I know it's early to update, but I'm aware that the subsequent cliffhangers are annoying you, so I thought it best we just got this over with as soon as possible.

Harsh chapter ahead. DON'T  READ IF YOU'RE ABOUT TO GO TO BED. YES, YOU. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

Erik wakes when the sliding panel moves and Charles enters the room, not because he’s had enough rest or because he was woken by a noise, but simply because he felt that Charles was near and he was needed.

There’s a heartbeat of ice-cold stillness as Charles takes in the state of Erik’s body, and then he rushes forward only to stop himself short of touching his skin, leaning instead on the edge of the table. A second later he straightens again, making a distressed sound when he sees his hands, smeared in red.

Charles seems mostly alright—except for the deep, still bleeding cuts along his temples and forehead, and already darkening bruises along his right cheek.

How did you get in here?

I killed the guards, Charles thinks distractedly, eyes zigzagging quickly over the buckles holding Erik down. Christ, Erik—It should have been me that was tortured, not you, that was the plan all along—

Fuck you, Erik thinks without rancor. Get me out of here, Charles.

I can’t—you can’t be moved, Charles bends down to undo the buckle on Erik’s left wrist, exquisitely carefully and careful not to jostle anything. I don’t dare.

I got Shaw down, Erik thinks disjointedly, slightly proud.

“There’s a lad,” Charles says, without really making any sense, as he starts slowly and carefully undoing the many buckles holding Erik down, on his throat, upper arms, wrists, waist and knees. He takes one quick look over Erik’s now free body, dart out of the room only to return a second later with a first-aid kit that, from the looks of it, will do poorly considering the task at hand.

“I’m going to disconnect your arm for a bit,” Charles says, resting the kit on top of the tray filled with blood-covered utensils Shaw had been using. “Just enough to pull down the muscles and skin.”

Erik watches mutely as Charles snatches up a pair of clean latex gloves and snaps them on. His arm goes completely dead—a strange, detached sense of horror creeping up Erik’s spine. He sees his arm but it’s not there, not really—his mind can’t find it at all, as though the nerve pathways to the tips of his fingers had been snipped.

“Yes,” Charles murmurs, and Erik looks on, with morbid curiosity, as the geneticist very carefully, very skillfully pulls the muscle tissue to the spot it should rest upon, wrapping the bone, and then closes the skin. He takes the time to stick, quickly but carefully, and then dress the wound tightly in clean gauze.

I’m going to lose that arm, Erik thinks calmly.

Charles hesitates.

“I don’t think so. Shaw wouldn’t want you maimed, and he did mean to keep you, I can tell.”

“He didn’t need me in one piece.”

“He didn’t sever the nerves,” Charles says, soaking cotton in disinfectant to go over the scattered cuts and lacerations throughout the length of Erik’s body. “Otherwise you wouldn’t be in pain. He was dissecting you just like he did when you were a child, with no intention to mutilate you. I think with proper medical attention you might be able to keep the arm, even eventually move it with ease.”

Erik pauses, hearing faint noises outside. He can feel, vaguely, as if through a great distance, the movement of metallic beams and plates, fusing together skillfully into a competent, impressive dome of armor around the small building they are in.

What are you doing outside?

“Reinforcing the structure,” answers Charles, dressing a deep laceration on the top of Erik’s right thigh.

Why? We should leave.

“I’m not going to move you,” the geneticist insists, firm. “We’ll have to hold steady here until the children find us. I already sent them a message, they’re on their way.”

It’ll take them at least two hours, even in the Blackbird.

“I can keep you safe for two hours,” Charles replies. He’s cleaned and dressed most of the wounds that would need further medical attention, leaving the smaller cuts to heal in the open air after disinfecting them. Erik can feel the dull throb of the skin, irritated by the chemicals, but he feels cleaner and it makes him feel better. His arm is still gone, though, for which he feels somewhat grateful.

Charles hovers uncertainly over Erik’s left hand, studying the angles of the broken fingers.

I think he just dislocated them, Erik offers.

“The second, third and fourth finger are all dislocated,” Charles confirms, shutting down Erik’s hand to pick it up and turns it gently without causing a wave of agony. “Phalanx by phalanx, the piece of shit. The small finger is definitely broken, though.”

Don’t need it to shoot a gun, Erik sums up briefly, blinking.

“Hm,” Charles emits, hesitating only a moment before setting the dislocated fingers on individual splints, and then wrapping the entire hand with the last of gauze and tape. He doesn’t know how to align them properly without risking forcing a joint in a bad way, and he won’t attempt to do it if it means possibly hurting Erik further.

A drop of blood from the gash between his eyes rolls down to the tip of his nose, and he swipes at it absently, wiping his fingers on the legs of his—

Erik suddenly realizes that Charles is wearing charcoal-colored dress pants, too big on his narrow hips, and a white undershirt.
Whose clothes are those?

“Azazel. He took Raven to the Manor, and says he’s coming back with as much help as he can get.”

You trust him?

“He’s saved my life twice,” Charles shrugs. “I don’t see what his interest would be in letting me die now. He’s hopelessly in love with Raven.”

Hopelessly?

“My sister likes women, Erik.”

Erik manages to smile, wishing he could lift one of his hands to touch Charles’ cheek, but a fraction of a second later, breath catches in his throat, almost choking him. Charles catches the swell of terror, whirling around, but Shaw has swung already, knuckles wrapped in heavy metal knuckle-dusters. He hits Charles squarely in the right temple.

The telepath falls to the floor with a slight gasp, his head colliding with the mirrored floor so hard both skin and mirror crack. Erik scrambles to sit up, but his entire right arm and left hand are still absent from the periphery of his mind, and now that Charles is gone, uncontrolled telepathy is eating away at his consciousness.

“How?” he manages to rasp, blind with terror as Shaw uses the tip of his boot to push at Charles’ shoulder so the man falls on his back. Blood is already flowing freely from the wound, coating half of his face.

“I’m a little old to be fooled by children’s tricks, Erik,” Shaw’s voice is as soft as usual, but he punctuates the sentence by delivering a punishing punch to Erik’s gut. Erik’s mind, propelled probably by telepathy, snaps back into the relative safety of the Irish hills.

Just as he turns around, frantically trying to find Francis, he is snatched back into the mirrored room, choking on a scream as Shaw squeezes harshly on the dressing of his right arm. Blood soaks the bandage immediately, its fresh scent pungent and metallic.

“I don’t know how he does it,” Shaw says coolly. “But you don’t get to escape me, Erik.”

Charles moans low, and Erik turns his face away from Shaw to see the geneticist struggle to his hands and knees, blood falling like a fountain from his temple. The wound is bad—really bad, especially for someone with a skull as delicate as Charles’. Evidently Shaw knows where to hit to achieve the most damage with the least effort.

Shaw rounds the table at an almost sedate pace, crouching down to grab Charles by the hair and force his face up to look down into it.

“Miss me so much you needed to see me, son?” he sneers, and Erik sees him pull back his fist away, but suddenly he staggers away, hit by a wave of telepathy weak and fumbling but powerful enough to have physical impulse behind it. It’s clear the wound to his head is taking severe toll on Charles—he can barely focus and even though he tries, he can’t get up, limbs uncoordinated. Erik wonders how long it takes for a skull fracture or severe head trauma to cause real, irreversible damage and even without proper medical training he’s smart enough to assume the answer is not much.

“Well,” Shaw hisses, getting to his knees, “that’s just rude.”

Against all his instincts, instead of attempting again to rise and try to help Charles, Erik turns inward and sinks down into the ragged, blurred space of the bond. He forcefully conjures the image of the desert and the temple, forced Charles’ mind to bend to his own will.

You didn’t tune into the right frequency, Francis says immediately, reaching out to grab Erik’s shoulder and steady him. It was arrogant of us to think you could instinctively use the telepathy like that. Your mind is unprepared

Do something!” Erik yells, watching as another wall in the temple crumbles.

He is the source of everything, Francis backs away, eyes hard. Use him.

“I don’t know how! You never taught me anything!

It’s no different than using a handgun. He is your weapon.

The world tilts, shifts and shatters into the mirrored room. As he opens his eyes he can see Charles’ back in front of him, a hand braced on the table, shoulders shaking, hair and shirt soaked in blood.

“—my dead body, Shaw.”

“Well, that’s looking more and more tempting, Charles. Move aside.”

“You’ll have to kill me to get at him. So come and do it, then—kill me. Go ahead. Because you’ll not have me on my knees again, and so long as I can breathe, you’re not going to lay a finger on him.”

“Jealous, Charles? I have enough time to spare for the both of you.”

Erik takes a deep breath and focuses on the dim light that used to be the bond. The link is now in shreds and tatters as Charles’ telepathy starts folding in on itself as a self-defense mechanism, vaulted doors slamming shut as parts of memories and emotions are locked away for the sake of practicality, leaving behind the bare, cold ability to attack and defend.

Why isn’t he falling to your power? He asks, and gasps when Charles drops his block on the nerves on his arm and hand, and they flare up into white-hot, maddening agony.

Frost taught him to block out telepathy once he can identify it, Charles replies, voice broken. I can hear him but not touch his mind. I’m sorry.

Erik knows if it had been Charles that attacked Shaw after he’d gleaned the image of the map from his head, Shaw would be unconscious. Charles is subtle enough in his use of his gift so as to go unnoticed, but Erik lacks that finesse completely—he’s wasted the small window of opportunity they had with Charles’ gift.

“Not your fault,” Erik rasps, forcing himself to push through the pain to sit up, vision blurring from the effort and the blood loss.  He wants to grab Charles’ arm, reassure him somehow, but his right hand won’t move and his left is wrapped in splints and bandages. He settles for leaning his forehead against Charles’ shoulder, gaze fixed on Shaw out of the corner of his eye.

“Heart-warming,” Shaw snorts. “What a spectacle you two are. I might even bury you together.”

So Erik’s wasted Charles’ gift, yes—on the other hand, that’s not the only power they have at their grasp.

Stall, he thinks, closing his eyes to focus on his gift, calling out all metal gathering around them, the protective dome Charles built as well he could, becoming aware of the small metal items scattered in the clothes of the many mutants crowing close to the dome, waiting for a chance to free their leader.

There’s a disturbing absence of feeling where the knuckle-dusters ought to be, but he figures that makes sense—Shaw’s obviously have that in his pocket all this time and he was never aware of it. That metals is unwilling to obey him.

Charles braces himself, gathers the splinters of his mind back together to a semblance of order and sends out a devastating wave of telepathy that staggers the other mutants on their feet, before they fall asleep to the ground. With the coming attackers out of order, Erik can dare crush the dome Charles built, forcing it to fold inwards and spear the room they are in, beams and spears of metal shattering the mirrors in long, jagged shards.

Quick of thought, Charles slides his arm around Erik’s midsection and drags him down to the floor, rolling down under the ceramic table enough to avoid the worst of the shards, probably saving both their lives in the process. The pain is nearly blinding, but Erik is nothing if not single-minded; now surrounded by his element, he fashions a protective shield of several layers of hard metal, cocooning around them as flexibly as foil under the power of his mind.

In the resulting utter blackness of the belly of the cocoon, the only sounds are their ragged breaths. Erik concentrates on feeling the way Shaw is blasting away at the outer layers of the shield, so it takes him a long time to realize Charles’ breathing is off.

“What is it?” he asks anxiously, eyes open pointlessly wide.

Charles leans his forehead on Erik’s shoulder, breath rattling. Erik can feel drops of hot blood falling on the skin of his neck from Charles’ wound. He’s losing too much blood, much too quickly.

“Azazel,” he manages to rasp, before going completely limp. Erik can feel panic encroaching on his mind, but he can also feel Shaw attacking the shields and he can tell Charles is unconscious, not dead, so he pushes it away.

Erik devotes all of his attention to making the shields bounce back to their original state as soon as Shaw hits them, and ignoring the trickle of Charles’ blood on his neck and shoulder. It takes a few minutes to Charles’ mind to reboot itself, something Erik wasn’t expecting to happen for a few hours, and as soon as Charles comes awake Erik can tell something has changed.

“I remember,” Charles says cryptically, and Erik can feel his mind sliding in rhythm to his own, the bond regenerating to its usual healthy, open connection.

“What?” Erik chokes, turning his face to Charles’.

“I remember everything,” Charles insists, voice quiet and incongruously calm. “It was Francis that taught me how, and now I remember.”

“Remember what?”

“How to stop time,” Charles answers, lifting his head carefully. “Unwrap the shields. I remember.”

Erik hesitates, aware that the metal shields he’s fashioned are the only things keeping the in one piece, but he trusts Charles, trusts the way Charles’ mind is reconstructing itself, confidence and power born out of the decay of his terror. He explodes the outer shell away, making Shaw stagger away, and the peels away the remaining shields one by one like petals.

He sees Shaw’s eyes narrow and he seems him swing, and then—

He stops, frozen mid-movement.

Charles, still draped over Erik’s body, swallows and with effort forces himself to his knees, legs on either side of Erik’s thighs. Erik stares at Shaw, ice-blue eyes narrowed, lips in a tight line, body frozen.

Then he understands. He reaches out and from the discarded metal of his cocoon, he fashions a flat, round coin, engraved exactly as he remembers.

“Here’s what we’re going to do,” Charles says, blue eyes heavy-lidded. “I’m going to count to five, and when I do, you’re going to move the coin.”

Erik grits his jaw, drawing breath thought his nostrils. The smell of blood, his and Charles’, clots in his throat, fills his lungs and coats his tongue and nostrils.

“One,” says Charles. Erik thinks of a burning car and the screams of a man trapped inside, and Charles with eyes as dry as the desert.

Zwei, he thinks, remembering the muted sound of his mother’s gasp as she fell dead to the ground.

“Three,” Charles is remembering the day he turned sixteen, and how Shaw laid him down on his own bed and said now, don’t be shy—open your legs.

Vier, Erik thinks as he sees in his mind the replay of years of abuse and pain and Shaw’s quiet soft voice and quiet soft smile and the feel of a bone-knife parting skin.

Fivefunf, they think, and the coin penetrates skin. Charles lets Shaw scream, lets his own eyes flutter shut at the sensation, whole body tensing, muscles locking stiff. Erik keeps his eyes on the slit in Shaw’s forehead, breathing harsh and noisy, blood rushing in his ears.

Shaw stops screaming soon enough. He falls dead to the ground, and just as he hits the ground as does Charles, falling to the side like a puppet with cut strings.

Erik wants to scramble up and shake him until he opens his eyes again, but he doesn’t even have the strength to be scared anymore. All he can do is reach out and clumsily lift his arm and rest his right hand on top of Charles’ blood-soaked hair as the door-panel slides open and the remaining shards of glass fall off the walls.

“Professor!” Alex cries out, shoving broken beams out of his way and stepping over one of the layers of Erik’s shield to drop to his knees next to them. Hank, Logan and Scott are already crowding into the room after him, faces pale and shocked.

Erik has a spare moment of lucidity to wonder how they got here so fast and then remembers Charles had said, Azazel.

Logan, as eloquent as ever: “Erik, fuck, fucking Christ shit—“

Erik thinks this is a good time to black out, so he promptly does.
 


Chapter 17
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