Word count: 2953
Warnings: None so far.
Summary: Erik and Charles, before the beach, in a house together but in diffrent shores of a river. An errant thought from Erik makes them face some truths, and bridges begin to burn.
Notes: I don't even know. It startes as humor and deteriorated into something a bit more serious. Story of my life.
Title taken from Florence+The Machine song Blinding. So in love with the wrong world... seems to suit.
It starts like this: Charles, with a candlestick, in the study.
No one’s dead though. Presently.
“I don’t suppose you have emergency generators, hm?” Erik asks. He sounds idle and calm but Charles doesn’t need to be a telepath to read between the lines. He could probably put subtitles on Erik’s ‘calm’ tones. Most of them would admittedly be variations of ‘murder’ and ‘oncoming violence’; this one in particular would be perfectly labeled with ‘growing irritated’.
“Oh, certainly, we do,” he answers, settling down the candlestick carefully on the table. “That’s not a problem.”
Erik gives him a look. “So what is the problem, then?”
Charles is calm enough about this whole matter that his non-worry grates on Erik. Charles’ non-worry often does that, but Erik is particularly short-tempered tonight because he’s got a migraine to shame all migraines. Ever.
No, he’s not exaggerating.
“I’ve never had to use them. I haven’t the slightest idea where they might be,” Charles smiled slightly and shrugs vaguely.
Erik is staring at him.
“You did say yourself; it is a big house.”
Erik doesn’t say I was mocking you because even if Charles managed to somehow not notice (he would have been the only one) Erik is not sure he wants to revisit that subject. He’s aware he acted pretty much like a jerk, and selective a memory as Charles might have when it comes to Erik’s (many) flaws, belittling his empty, lonely, neglected childhood is probably not one of the things Charles is willing to smile and shrug off.
Raven certainly isn’t doing that, what with all the haughty looks and pissy little comments she makes whenever Erik starts to say something about their opulent lodgings. Erik isn’t even trying to be an asshole anymore, really.
Alright, Sean might disagree. But the point is, Erik is not being an asshole to Charles.
Not that he was actively trying to be an asshole before. Thought maybe he was, a little. Or a lot.
What’s important is that Charles has forgiven him, unlike Raven.
Because for all of the love they have for one another, Charles and Raven as quite different. And it’s not just that her skin’s the color of his eyes. The thing is that Charles believes in understanding, and accepting, and forgiving, and Raven believes in growing the fuck up. Which is in her opinion precisely what Erik isn’t doing.
“…might be in the toolhouse, in the backyard, I believe, and then we could set the house on fire and deliver ourselves to the Russian, while wearing kilts.”
“What?” Erik’s attention snaps back to Charles.
“Oh, there you are, I thought I lost you there for a minute. Was it the kilts that got your attention?”
“What are you on about? The generators, Charles. This whole estate has just gone into a complete blackout and you’re thinking of wearing skirts?”
“I wouldn’t say that in front of a Scotsman, were I you.”
“I’ll remember if I ever meet William Wallace. Now about the generators—“
“I can probably make some light,” Alex’s voice drifted into the study, and the boy peeked into the room, smiling when he found them there. “But I might also rip off half a wing of the house.”
“Thank you, Alex, I rather think we’ll do without.”
“I’ve just discovered I can see in the dark,” Hank trailed in behind Alex, waving his torch in a wide circle as he gesticulates excitedly and approaches Charles, who he knows to be his ally in scientifically fascination.
“Now if only you could see in the light,” Alex joked.
“Alex,” Charles warns, not amused in the least.
And this is interesting, Erik thinks, because whenever Alex shapes up to be a jerk (and he shapes up for that quite nicely indeed) Charles immediately makes him back off, but when Erik is being a jerk, Charles arches a brow and gives him an unimpressed look, but doesn’t actually say anything.
“How about Hank and I go to the toolhouse and see if we can find those generators, and Alex and Erik can search inside the house. Raven is—oh. Half a moment.”
Charles raises a hand to stall any comments, and his eyes fall half-lidded as he turns inward, focusing his telepathy on doing something. A moment later, he raises his head again and smiles.
“Sean and Raven will make another team. I suggest you focus your searching on the basement, while Raven and Sean look in the attic, as I know the rest of the rooms in this house well enough and I’m quite certain I would remember, had I ever seen a generator. Whoever finds it first gives me a call, and I’ll tell everyone else.”
Erik nods and takes Hank’s torch, leading Alex out into the hallway and down four flights of stairs, because Charles’ study is adjacent to his bedroom and all the bedrooms in the Xavier house are in the top, third floor. All the better for the guests not to be disturbed with the comings and goings of a house this size, Erik imagines.
Sometimes Erik wonders what Charles would have been like, had he not been born into this privilege, pampered by servants and butlers and raised by people who felt they were educating royalty. Charles never spoke of his father, dead at a young age, and rarely mentioned his mother, careless and distracted. When he did mention them, though, it was with little more than passing interest, more of a detached kind of knowledge than any real affection.
This was one of the few things in which Erik thought he had gotten the better of it. His parents had died when he was young—and he quickly turns away from that memory—but he had always known they loved him deeply, fiercely. Charles might not have had such an unfortunate childhood, but his growing up had not been all flowers and candy, either.
Then there was the stepfather and stepbrother Charles never spoke about, the very mention of whom made Raven shiver in revulsion and overwhelming anger, anger like coiling ropes in the dark, like shadows spilling from beneath a locked closet door in a child’s bedroom.
There’s something there, Erik thinks, and he intends to get to the bottom of it.
As soon as those damn generators turn up.
“He’s sure we have them, right?” Alex asks, half an hour of searching later.
“He did live here.”
“Yeah, but he looks like little birds help him dress in the mornings.”
Erik gives Alex an unimpressed look that he’s sure could compete with Charles’ best, but the effect is lost because he’s not shining the light on his face and Alex is looking away, anyway.
He decides to emphasize his lost glare with a “Watch it.”
“What I mean is—“
“I can’t imagine why you think I care what you meant. Just watch what you say when you’re talking about Charles. If not for him, I’d be dead and you’d be in a concrete cell-block.”
“How do you mean, dead?”
“The usual way, Alex. No heartbeat, no blood-flow, drawing no breath, that sort of thing.”
“You still don’t care that’s not what I meant, don’t you?”
“Not in the slightest.”
“You’re a bit of an asshole, anyone ever told you that?”
“Yes, but I suggest you don’t do it a second time.”
Alex grumbles something unintelligible but otherwise remains quiet, and Erik realizes with some surprise that he’s being particularly irritable, and wonders why. It’s not that he minds Alex’s company particularly, the boy might not be bright but he isn’t rock dumb either. Still, he’s not as good a companion as Charles, and ah.
So that’s what that was, then.
Interestingly enough, Erik is not jealous or upset that Charles decided to take Hank with him. He’s just irritated Charles is not here with him right now. Usually when a task required they split up, Charles and him always ended up together. It was intelligent for them to split up now—Hank could see in the dark without a torch, and Charles knew where the toolhouse was.
Still, it doesn’t sit right with him that Charles isn’t there with him, and the fact that it doesn’t irritates him. Charles is nice, but hardly necessary. Erik has survived all his life without nice, and can continue on doing so.
Found them, Charles’ voice flooded their minds, making Alex hesitate on a step.
The hallway Erik and Alex are in remains stubbornly dark.
“Do you not know how to operate them?” Erik asked testily.
Oh no, that’s not a problem. The problem is no one’s fueled them in about a decade. They’re completely dry. I guess it’ll be candlelight tonight, lady and gents.
Erik rubbed at the inner corner of his right eye with his middle finger, gathering his patience. We just wasted forty minutes.
You had anything else you were looking forward to do in the dark, my friend?
Erik thinks rather wildly of replying, why yes, you and watching the inevitable fallout, but at the last moment thinks it’s completely juvenile. Then he remembers that oh right, Charles is a telepath.
Charles, the telepath, is suspiciously silent.
Erik is unsure as to whether he’s grateful about that or not, for all of ten minutes, which is the time it takes for Alex and him to make their way back up to the study.
By the time he’s arrived at the study he’s quite certain he’s not grateful. In fact, he’s annoyed. And alright—annoyed is pretty much Erik’s default, but this might be a bit over the usual line, because it’s clearly bleeding out into Alex.
“So now what?” the teenager asks.
“We wait until morning, and then Charles and I go into town and buy fuel,” Raven shrugs. “It’s not the end of the world. It’s just one night in the dark.”
Erik doesn’t say anything because he’s thinking, Charles and I go into town tomorrow, and inexplicably feeling like Raven is taking liberties. This is about the point he realizes this is getting ridiculous. He’s always had a tendency to fixate on things—coin in his pocket notwithstanding—and he knows he has a bit of a fixation on Charles, but this is getting slightly out of hand.
He’s not too proud to admit he wants Charles. He’s just too proud to admit he wants Charles this much.
Charles, who is clearly not reading his mind because ten minutes later he enters the study, bringing with him the scent of fresh grass and cold air, and smiles all around, blue eyes bright, pale cheeks blushed apple red.
Those blue-blue eyes, those red-red cheeks.
Erik is somewhat confused, because even if Charles isn’t the fine-tuned killing machine he’s forced his own body into becoming, the Englishman is most certainly not effeminate, except for his big eyes and full lips. Charles might be softer, his shoulders not as broad, his hips not as trim, but he’s definitely masculine.
“Old house, I’m afraid,” Charles is saying ruefully.
“It’s a good thing the central heating is not connected to the electrical system,” Hank says, smiling hesitantly at Raven.
Erik sees Charles glance briefly at him, the too-blue eyes sliding away almost immediately, and he instantly knows Charles heard… something. Something. Erik’s been thinking such strange things lately he can hardly guess at what exactly, but clearly it’s left Charles somewhat uncomfortable. Erik thinks he should back off, retire to his bedroom and let Charles settle down.
So, naturally, he sends out stay, even as the children file quietly out of the room and into their own bedrooms.
Charles seems to hesitate but unlike some other people, he can behave like an adult and be civilized, so he stays.
Erik waits until everyone’s out of earshot before willing the door closed.
“So,” he says conversationally, sliding his hands into his pockets. “Should we discuss this ambiguous thing between us now, or would you like some time to panic over it before?”
“I don’t think I’ll panic,” Charles frowns slightly. “I would have panicked already, wouldn’t I?”
“I hardly know, Charles. It’s not always easy to tell, with you.”
“I’d imagine if I were panicking my eyes would be bigger, and I might be shaking.”
“I’ll keep an eye out for that. You’re nervous, then.”
Charles walks to the chair he usually occupies, but instead of sitting down he leans against its back, expression pensive.
“Not nervous precisely. Unsure, I suppose you might call it.”
“What are you unsure about?” Erik asks, more curiously than anything else because he knows that, regardless of Charles’ doubts, the outcome of this has long since been decided.
Erik is the kind of person that takes, and Charles is the kind of person that gives.
“Sometimes, Erik, I think about us,” Charles says, eyes too serious all of a sudden. Erik unconsciously straightens, feeling that Charles is about to deal one of his sharp, painful little blows that he can never see coming but he sort of can, because he’s expecting them. Only not right at the moment they’re dealt.
“I got you out of the water,” Charles says, “But I wonder if you ever stopped drowning.”
There’s a moment of complete stillness as those words settle between them.
“Has it ever occurred to you, Charles, that this thing between us—whatever it is or may have the potential of becoming—will inevitably end in tragedy?”
Charles’ eyes flick down, and then back up, the force behind them like a tidal wave, unstoppable, undeniable.
“And it doesn’t ever make you waver in your beliefs?”
“Everyone wavers. I’m not exempt of that. But then I remember, and I hope again.”
Erik leans his hands against the back of his own chair, mirroring Charles’ position, slate-blue eyes intent.
“That you lived,” Charles says softly. “Through all of it. That for all that it’s shaped you, it’s not who you are. It’s another fragment in the sum of all your parts.”
Erik feels the cold of the dark chimney seeping through his sweater, licking up the back of his neck where his turtleneck ends, freezing against the sensitive skin of a scar.
“I wish you could see the world the way I see it,” Erik said quietly.
“But I can, my friend,” Charles smiled gently. “I can, and I have.”
“Then why won’t you see?”
“I do see. I understand where you come from, how you shaped your beliefs—but that doesn’t mean I am about to bow to them, take on your views of the world instead of mine. Can we not simply disagree? It is impossible for you to be friends with someone that sees things differently? Are our religious beliefs going to be the next hurdle between us, then?”
“You take things too far,” Erik grounds out, straightening aggressively. Erik is aware he relies too much on his physique to intimate people, used as he is to being taller, fitter. He forgets, sometimes, that Charles is rarely intimidated and when he is, it’s never because one might get the upper hand on him physically. Charles’ body is relatively weak; that’s not his weapon.
“I take them as far as you urge me!”
Erik knows what he’s thinking is wrong before it reaches his lips, but he can’t help himself.
“So this all goes down to me being Jewish, then?” he snarls.
Charles grows so pale Erik feels a flicker of concern. A moment later, though, the vast power of Charles’ mind avalanches over him, hot with anger and iridescent with disbelief. Charles eyes don’t change color, of course, but Erik can almost imagine they’ve gone darker, as if shadowed by the weight of the wrath they can contain. Charles is so rarely angry, Erik too easily forgets that for all of his temperate, level character, Charles is a creature of great passions, capable of deep emotions.
“And this,” Charles voice is low, dangerous flat. “is what you think of me.”
Erik wavers, “No. No, it’s not. Charles…”
“Erik,” the telepath straightens, slips his hands into his pockets, relaxes is shoulders. His eyes are as flat as his voice, his mind having withdrawn completely. After the vastness of his anger, the way he’s pulled back has left a big, empty space in Erik’s mind—like a vacuum, an absence of air where Erik’s thoughts moved over to accommodate Charles’.
“Erik, I think you should go to your room now.”
It’s not a dismissal exactly, and certainly not an order. It’s a challenge, rather. Charles is angry, so angry, he’s clearly past the point he is willing to be civil. So many times in their discussion it’s Charles keeping them for hurting each other, Erik is unsure what will come of it if Charles isn’t pulling both their punches.
Charles is the unmovable object against which Erik’s unstoppable force continues to slam against. When they’re like that it works. But if Charles were to begin to push as well—
Quietly, gently, Erik folds.
The quiet click of the door falling closed behind him sounds loud as a gunshot in the silence of the dark house.
Erik makes his way to his bedroom with the ease of someone used to charting out spaces in his mind, analyzing corridors, planning escape routes.
In the darkness interrupted intermittently by rays of silver moonlight spilling through the windows, he lays in bed, and doesn’t sleep.
The small place in his head where Charles’ sunny, warm presence usually lingers is as dark and silent as the manor.