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[personal profile] monstrousregiment
Title: The Half Killed (2/2)
Author: monstrousreg
Word count:  3607
Warnings:  Angst, NC-17 for smut and violence.
Pairing: Erik/Charles.
Summary: Atonement AU or crossover, rather.
Notes:  Unbetaed, and stuff. I know you guys are waiting for the next Brief Lives update and it's coming, it's just this idea ate my brain, so I want to post it an be done with it. Anyway Brief Lives is nearly over and in a good place right now.

I'd be lying if I were to say I know what I wrote this for, or where it was supposed to go. I'm not even sure it makes sense, but it's out of my skull, and I'll drink to that.

It doesn’t take long for Charles to figure out that the man he knew, the Erik Lehnsherr he grew up with, is dead.

This new creature he finds is a being with flesh like steel and rage for blood, this is something new and different.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

Erik’s just graduated from University, second-best in his graduation class. He’s been offered several jobs and will take the time to consider which one he prefers. In the meantime, he’s back in Xavier Manor, back in his mother’s comfortable, familiar home.

He has time in his hands and a bright future ahead of himself, and his mother has missed him terribly. There’s no reason he shouldn’t enjoy this reprieve.

To keep himself busy he helps Logan, the groundkeeper, with his tasks. Today the gruff, short man asked him to help clean the bottom of the great fountain. Erik is, therefore, hip-deep in stale water, filthy with mud and clingy, sticky algae, when Raven races down the lawn and hoists herself up to the edge of the fountain, fake-blue eyes bright.

“You look horrible,” she grins.

“Thank you,” retorts Erik, flicking water droplets in her face. Raven is twelve this year. Erik wishes he got to see more of her natural form, but the girl is self-conscious. She used to be blue all the time around Charles, but Charles is busy now and besides, Erik is never around him anyway.

And what a painful thing that is.

“Aren’t you supposed to be preparing for big opening?” he asks distractedly, fishing out a handful of dead, half-rotten plants from the fountain’s bottom.

“The play will be ready in time,” Raven says confidently. “I think you should play a part, Erik. I need a handsome, dashing prince.”

“I’m no prince,” Erik laughs. “If anything, the pauper. And anyway, you have two brothers.”

“Cain is no fun and Charles is too busy being nice to Moira,” she says the name with a mocking, distasteful dragging of vowels. Erik doesn’t stiffen.

Moira McTaggart is a pretty, elegant, languid English noblewoman. She studied literature in Oxford. She and Charles are old acquaintances, as those in small chosen circles usually are, and Erik knows that Moira’s always had an interest in Charles. She’s not his usual, preferred style, but she is pretty, intelligent, smart and good blood. There’s no reason Charles shouldn’t be interested and be nice to her.

Erik doesn’t want to dislike her, but it’s difficult.

“Don’t be like that,” he says blandly, untangling long algae from his fingers. “Moira is bending over backwards to get you to like her. Make an effort at least.”

“She’s dull and tedious,” Raven replies without sympathy. “Charles was so much fun when he was with you. Why don’t you two ever play with me anymore?”

“You’re old for such games,” Erik answers.

“Raven.”

Now Erik stiffens. Charles’ voice hasn’t changed, indeed might never change, and he could recognize it in any state. Soft-spoken and polite, Charles is unmistakable. He can’t be childish enough to refuse to look at him, though, so he turns around and nods a greeting, wordless. Charles is wearing a light blue shirt and dark slacks. He’s in the company of Scott and Alex, who’ve taken to trailing his steps so long as he’s not playing proper-English-gentleman with Moira.

Charles has a finely-crafted ceramic vase on the crook of his right arm, and he offers it to Erik with a gesture.

“Be so kind as to put water in it,” he says, voice cold and impersonal, like they’d never talked, like they hadn’t shared joints in the floor of Charles’ flat’s bedroom, leaning into one another.

“This water isn’t good,” he answers, shaking his head. “The lake’s would be better.”

Alex pokes at a heap of algae on the edge, grinning at the way it coats his hands and fingers. Boys will be boys.

“This water stinks,” Scott wrinkles his nose comically, straining on tiptoes to look inside the fountain. “And you stink too.”

 “Scott,” Charles reprimands, setting the vase on the edge of the fountain.

Erik waves a hand, smiling at Scott. “But when I’m done, neither me or the fountain will stink anymore, and then I can throw you in and you can swim without turning green.”

“I was just asking Erik why you two aren’t friends anymore,” Raven tells Charles, leaning her chin on the palm of her right hand. “What do you think happened, Charles?”

Charles always startling blue eyes fix on Erik, freezing him on the spot.

“We were more different than we thought,” he says flatly.

Erik feels like a sword’s been driven through his chest.

“Let’s go to the take!” Alex says, and grabs for the vase.

“No—“ Charles says, reaching for the vase as well, but Alex has already attempted to grab it, and the smooth ceramic slips his grip. The vase tips and falls to the water. In trying to catch it Charles overbalances and falls into the water, just as Erik hisses ‘careful’ and shoves Scott back from the edge.

Charles emerges, soaked to the skin and with algae in his hair. There’s a split moment of uncertainty before Raven bursts out laughing quickly followed by the other children. Erik can’t help a smile, and even Charles has a wry curl of lips to offer the kids as he tugs his sodden shirt up and throws it at Alex.

Erik has an eyeful of pale, gleaming skin stretched over flat muscle before his mind snaps back to reason and he dives under the water to look for the vase and drag it up.

It thankfully hasn’t been damaged. Charles hoists himself up and out of the fountain, pushing back his wet hair with a graceful gesture. Erik tries not to stare at the way his wet slacks cling to the skin of his legs and arse, but quite decidedly he fails.  He’s seen Charles naked more than once, they used to swim bare in the lake in the long boring summers, but somehow this is different.

Erik swallows. Charles glances at him with an unreadable expression, and Erik envisions the slamming of mirrored doors.

Charles’ eyes grow cold as ice.

>>>>>>>>>> 

Sebastian Shaw is a mutant.

Erik learns of this within the first ten minutes of their acquaintance, hardly a minute before learning that Sebastian Shaw is a scientist and a psychopath.

The next three years are a blur of blinding, maddening pain whiting out his mind, hours upon hours of fiery agony and orders delivered in a soft voice, try again, do it right this time, you can do better, that’s right, now do this for me son.

Erik thinks of Charles saying I’ll make it right, I promise, and hates him, hates his soft voice and lilting English accent, the liquid pleasure that used to be his laugh, his impressive blue eyes.

Three years, and Erik is covered in scars, inside and out.


Sebastian Shaw dies with a pipe shoved through his right eye. Erik doesn’t even do it with his mind, he grabs hold of the pipe and plunges it in. Then he tears out the cell door, kills all the guards unfortunate enough to cross his path, and escapes, never to be seen or heard of again.

>>>>>>>>>>> 

Angel Salvadore is a distant cousin, daughter of the sister of a woman that married into the Xavier family. She is fifteen and has two adoptive brothers, Alex and Scott Summers, respectively ten and seven years old.

Angel is short and slender and has dark hair, skin and eyes. She doesn’t look fifteen, and she certainly doesn’t act fifteen.

At first she has her eyes on Erik, but that interest quickly withers when she learns he’s nothing but the son of the cook.

Erik learns that he raped her when he arrives at prison and they shove a lawyer his way. The boy is bumbling and clumsy, and he doesn’t listen when Erik tells him that he didn’t do it. Erik insists he was with the boys all along, that they can testify for it, but it’s no matter. Nobody believes him.

>>>>>>>>>> 

No one listens.

Charles beseeches, threatens, yells and whispers, speaks to everyone willing to pay attention, but it’s hopeless.

“This is Erik!” He shouts one afternoon, blood afire with anger. “You know him! You cannot allow this to be done to him! You know he has not done anything! This is the boy that grew up with me, the boy I used to play with in the summer, you know him!

“What he did was monstrous—“

“He did not do it, it wasn’t him!”

“Raven—“

“Lies! She lies, she lies all the time, you know she does! She’s nothing but a girl, she doesn’t understand anything! Erik is innocent. You cannot let this injustice carry on! There’s an innocent man rotting in prison—he is Edie’s son, my friend Erik!”

“I won’t hear another word of this, Charles. That’s enough!”

Charles storms out of the living room. On the stairs he meets his sister.

“How do you live with yourself?” he spits, eyes hard like blue stones.

It’s the last he says to her in five years.

>>>>>>>>>>> 

Charles tracks him down through the minds of others, tracks him down with the doggedness of a hound across countries and continents, never giving up.

He finally finds him, in an abandoned cabin far from civilization in Alaska.

For a moment, Erik wants to destroy him, as surely as he’s been destroyed himself. He very nearly does, fingers tightening around Charles’ fragile throat. But Charles says Come back without moving his lips, and he doesn’t fight or try to escape when Erik’s fingers tighten that bit more.

That night Erik fucks him, nothing like gentle, selfish and harsh and commanding, and if he gets Charles off it’s only because he happens to glance down when he’s pulling out and sees he’s still hard, and not all the good in him is dead yet. He knows he must have hurt him because he can tell hat Charles has never been with a man before. Horribly, cruelly, for a time he doesn’t care.

There’s no gentleness or kindness left in Erik. He’s unprepared to love, unable to forgive. He wants to hate Charles, a task made easy by resentment and distrust. Charles tells him he wrote letters and fought the bureaucracy of the legal system endlessly to get to see him, but even his name and money wouldn’t buy him a chance to find out what had become of him.

Erik believes him and doesn’t. He knows even if it were true Shaw would never have allowed Charles to know anything about Erik. He understands Charles is alive today only by the grace of his name and money, because his sudden death would have attracted too much attention, something Shaw would never risk.

But the fact remains that Erik spent three years being mutilated and tortured by a psychopath because Charles’ family did nothing to prevent an innocent man from being convicted for someone else’s crime. So hate comes easy to Erik, especially at night when Charles lays down on his bed and doesn’t protest when Erik is harsh and demanding.

>>>>>>>>>> 

It’s a little after noon, and Erik is swimming in the lake, like Charles and he used to when they were boys. He likes the feel of the slightly oily, heavier water of the lake, cool and smooth to the skin, and the warmth of the sun on the surface.

He’s just floating aimlessly, simply allowing himself to enjoy the feel, when Cain’s voice startles him out of his thoughts. He turns around, blinks water droplets form his lashes.

Both of the Xavier brothers are stalking quickly along the lake’s shore, seemingly arguing in escalating voices. Charles is walking ahead, and from the stiff set of his shoulders Erik can tell that something is bothering him. A shift of the breeze carries their voices to him again.
“—uck her and be done with it. It’s what she wants.”

“That’s not the kind of girl Moira is,” Charles snaps. “Nor am I in any manner interested in doing that with her. Moira’s not just a lay, Cain. She’s a good girl from a good family. She deserves better and I don’t feel inclined to give it to her.”

“She’s got stars in her eyes for you, Charles—“

“Be that as it may,” Charles says firmly, whirling to face his brother and crowding in on him in a strangely aggressive, hostile manner that startles Erik. “The truth remains I’m not interested.”

“She’s got a lot of money, Charles. She’s a good goddamn catch.”

“Is that how you think of women? What’s in their purses and what’s between their legs? That’s all that matters to you? We’ve got plenty of money, Cain. We don’t need any more!”

“War is coming—“

“I don’t care about the war!” Charles thunders. “It’ll come when it comes and we’ll deal with it then. We don’t need to deceive women to survive it!”

“Oh, I’m sorry—am I offending your high moral standards, Charles?”

Charles is at the end of his patience. “The very act of your breathing offends me spectacularly, and I often wish you did it as far away from me as the grounds allow!”

Cain does something he’s done before, only this time he makes the mistake of doing it in Erik’s sight. He fists his fingers in Charles’ shirt and prepares to swing. Erik grabs hold of his wrist watch with his mind as he simultaneously pulls himself up to the dock, issuing a curt warning. Cain smartly backs away from Charles as quickly as he can, well aware of how hard Erik’s fists are.

Erik trots to Charles’ side, and watches as Cain scuttles away like the rat he is.

“You alright?” he asks, pushing back his wet hair.

“I didn’t know that you gave a damn,” Charles says harshly, without looking at him. “I’ve been taking care of myself for three years now, so don’t bother coming to my aid now.”

He stalks away. Erik feels like he’s bleeding out from internal injuries.

>>>>>>>>>> 

“I talked to Mama,” Raven says, and grins at him from the frame of the kitchen door, open to the garden. “She thinks you should come to the dinner tonight. Erik, it’ll be wonderful! You can try to be friends with Charles again. I’m sure he’s not that angry with you, he’ll forgive you, easy.”

Raven doesn’t know Charles, not really. Not as well as Erik does. As Erik--used to.

“You should write him a letter,” she suggests, bubbly with joy and inspiration, eyes alight.

>>>>>>>>>> 

Summer turns into autumn. One afternoon Erik comes out of the house to find Charles sitting on the fallen leaves, dark hair in disarray and cheeks flushed by the growing cold as the sun sinks closer to the horizon. He hesitates a moment, and finally settles down next to him on the ground. Charles reaches in his pockets for a smoke, fumbles looking for a lighter, casually leans in when Erik produces one.

The share the cigarette like they used to when they were lads. When it’s nearly dead Erik’s takes its last, long drag, stubs it out and breathes the smoke out and away. Then he leans in and kisses Charles, deeply and slowly, like he hasn’t since that night in the library four years ago. Charles sinks into the kiss gratefully, glad that this time Erik doesn’t bite until he breaks skin to suck at the blood spilling forth.

Erik smiles against his lips, pushing Charles down into the leaves and stretching out over him like a blanket.

It’s, perhaps, the realization that Charles won’t leave no matter how cruel he is to him, that allows Erik to be gentle.

He raises himself up and drags Charles up to his feet by his wrist, leading him to the cabin, to the bed.

He means to do it right, this time.

>>>>>>>>>>>>> 

They only speak of it once.

“It was Cain,” Charles says quietly, exhaling smoke through parted lips. It’s winter and snow has covered their little, private world in the mountains. Charles is wearing one of Erik’s thicker sweaters, because he’s always colder than Erik, leaning against one of the porch’s columns and staring out to the gardens. Erik curls his fingers around the porch railing.

“How?”

“He abused her—hit her. Raven never told me. They hid it well, both of them. Cain raped Angel that night—he married her last year, by the way, the disgusting swine. He raped her and told Raven that if she didn’t tell everyone it had been you, he’d kill me.”

Erik draws in a long, deep breath.

“Have you forgiven her?” he asks in a low voice.

Charles flicks his eyes down, flicks ash from the glowing point of his cigarette.

“No.”

“It’s your family, Charles. I don’t want you to hate them for me.”

“I hate them because their attitude and actions are inexcusable and unforgivable,” Charles replies. “It was you, but it could have been anyone. You were innocent. They did nothing to help. Raven was twelve and scared then, yes—but what’s she done in the last five years, Erik? She’s seventeen now. She’s not told the truth, not cleared your name.”

“It doesn’t matter now,” Erik sighs. “Cain married Angel. He’ll never get arrested for her rape.”

“That doesn’t wipe away what they did then.”

Erik closes his eyes. “I want you to—I don’t want you sad. You’ve no obligation to me, Charles. They’re your family. I wouldn’t blame you.”
I need you to believe that I am who and where I want to be, Charles thinks quietly. I wouldn’t be anywhere else, with anyone else. I’m where I belong. I’m happy here, with you. I’d be happy anywhere with you.

Erik steps closer, tangles his fingers in Charles’ hair and kisses him slow and gentle.

I want you by my side, always, he thinks, pressing his forehead to Charles’.

Charles smiles, Yes.

>>>>>>>>>> 

Charles packs his bags and leaves Xavier manor for the last time when Kurt Marko dies and Cain, in a fit of temper after the discovery that he is not the main heir to the fortune, which must necessarily pass on to the firstborn Xavier male—Charles—attempts to fire Edie Lehnsherr.

“Are you certain of this?” she asks shakily when Charles puts her bags on the trunk of his car and slams it shut.

“I’ve only ever been more certain of two things,” Charles replies, holding the passenger door open for her. “And both involve your son.”

In the car for a long time they sit, side by side, in comfortable silence.

“Perhaps,” she says at length. “Warsaw would be nice.”

Charles smiles.

“Perfect chance to practice my horrible Polish.”

>>>>>>>>>> 

Winter turns to spring turns to summer.

Erik comes into the cabin, carrying bags of groceries. They try to make a run into town once every couple of weeks, stock themselves to be comfortable, but mostly they keep to themselves. Charles is asleep on the bed, curled like a cat on a stray patch of sunlight. The heat of the cabin and the ray of sun on his skin have made the line of his back and stomach damp, and Erik sits at his side and leans down to lick his shoulder.

Charles stirs, sleepy and content. Erik puts his hand around his throat and pulls his face over to kiss him. Even in the gentlest of gestures sometimes he feels like he’s too possessive with Charles, too demanding and harsh.

Charles smiles, You are exactly as I love you, he thinks, eyes closed and lips red.

>>>>>>>>>>> 

Edie catches pneumonia in the harsh Warsaw winter, but she wipes away Charles’ silent tears with warm fingers, smiling at him.

“You find my boy now, Charles,” she says in a breathless whisper. “You’ve done right by me, child. Now go and try and be happy.”

>>>>>>>>>>>> 

“There’s a war out there,” Charles says one morning, sitting in bed naked. Erik, lying next to him and idly tracing his fingers down the long lines he’s made in the smooth skin of Charles’ back with his nails, makes a thoughtful sound.

“It’s out there,” he agrees. “Nothing to do with us.”

Charles looks at him over his shoulder, eyes troubled.

“But it’s not just us in the world, Erik. I feel like I owe it to the world, to… do something about it, move, to look right at it and—be a part of it.”

“I owe the world nothing,” Erik says calmly. He wraps his fingers around Charles’ arm and tugs until the other man leans over him. Once Charles is close enough, he slips his hand in his dark hair and cradles his skull. “This world’s done nothing for me, Charles. If anything, it tried its best to destroy me.”

Charles swallows, closing his eyes. Erik lifts his head to press a kiss to an eyelid, and sighs.

“If you want to go to war, though, I’ll follow. It’s your choice.”

Charles lowers himself slowly to the bed, to lay almost half on top of Erik, and is quiet for a long time. Erik shifts so his cheek rests against Charles’ temple, carding his fingers idly, slowly, through his dark, glossy hair.

Finally, Charles relaxes, sinks fully into the bed and into Erik, closes his eyes and falls asleep, and his last thought before he drifts is The world will sort itself out.


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