Life is a bitch, and then one stabs you.

Dear I was pompous and my sister was crazy.

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Brief Lives (17/?)
Title: Brief Lives (17/?)
Author: monstrousreg
Word count:  3666
Warnings:  ...fluff (bet you didn't see THAT coming, did ya?)
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 don't even know what's up with this chapter, it just felt nice to write them not bleeding out and struggling and stuff. Does that make sense?

He wakes, once, because whatever he’s lying on jostles and his arm feels on fire.

“Careful, chum,” a rough voice hisses, and the surface under Erik’s back stills immediately. “You do that again, I cut you from ear to rear.”

Erik tries to open his eyes. Sunlight stabs at his pupils, and he makes a sound and turns his face away. A warm hand settles on his forehead, possibly the only spot on his body that doesn’t hurt, and the same voice murmurs something, but Erik’s mind wanders and he doesn’t understand. It takes him a moment to refocus on the words.

“—fuck is that?”

“A sedative,” a new voice answers.

Amongst the many pains that riddle his body, Erik misses the pin-prickle of the needle. He struggles to open his eyes again, and the warm, large hand sooths his hair back.

“Go to sleep, kid,” the voice says gruffly. “I ain’t leaving ya.”

Erik sleeps.

He wakes again, hours, days, months later, who knows, and sees white, shapes blurring in front of his eyes. He swallows, tries to focus. Slowly his eras begin to function, and he can hear the sound of a low, even, sweet cadence nearby. He thinks he knows this voice, but the name attached to the sound eludes him. He shifts his eyes down, trying to bring his hands up to his head, and realizes both of his arms are wrapped in gauzes, the right one completely immobilized in a large cast. He frowns.

The words begin to make sense now.

"…misfortune is needed to plumb certain mysterious depths in the understanding of men; pressure is needed to explode the charge. My captivity concentrated all my faculties on a single point. They had previously been dispersed, now they clashed in a narrow space; and, as you know, the clash of clouds produces electricity, electricity produces lightning and lightning gives light—Erik?”

Erik strains to focus his eyesight beyond the ruin of his hands, blinking to adjust.

Ah. Ororo.

“How long?” he rasps.

The girl jumps to her feet, dropping the book carelessly on the floor and rushing over to a nearby table to pour water from a jug to a cup. She holds the cup to Erik’s lips, laying her hand softly on his shoulder when he attempts to sit up.

“Don’t move,” she murmurs.

“How long?” he insists, once his voice sounds more like it usually does.

“Eight days,” she answers, setting the cup down on the bedside table.

“Eight…” he reels are the lost time, chocked and disoriented. He looks down at his hands. They’re wrapped in so much pristine white thatb he can barely make out its shapes, but he can tell they are, at least, the same length. He must have both hands, then.“How bad?” he asks flatly.

Ororo’s eyes flick down to his right arm. “I don’t know.”

“Don’t lie,” Erik hisses.

“I’m not,” Ororo replies, wary. “I’m thirteen and not family, Erik. They wouldn’t tell me anything.”

Erik lets his head fall back and looks at her pout of the corner of his eye.

“Who did they tell?”

“Logan and Moira. Moira because she’s a grownup, and CIA, and Logan because he threatened to do a lot of damage if they didn’t give him a status as soon as they had one on the both of you.”

The both of—“Where’s Charles?” he asks immediately, snapping his head up so fast Ororo flinches.

The girl moves a single step to the right, and Erik has a clear view of the neighboring bed, where Charles lies on his back sleeping soundly, Raven curled up on his side. Charles’ head is wrapped in a stark white bandage, but as Erik watches his chest rises and falls without difficulty, breath coming easy to his lungs.

Looking at him, Erik becomes slowly aware of his tired he is himself, eyelids heavy and mind fuzzy. He blinks owlishly and looks at Ororo again, fighting to stay awake, possibly only to be contrary.

“What were you reading?” he asks, voice a little more slurred that he’d like.

“’The Count of Monte Cristo’.”

Ororo smiles wryly, “It didn’t survive the window-frame over the bedside table in your bedroom.”

Erik closes his eyes, I’m sorry. I’ll buy you another copy.

His eyes are closed, so he misses the way Ororo starts, dropping the book again even as his voice recedes from her mind.

The next time he wakes, it’s because someone’s crying out, “—cheating!”

“Keep your damn voice down,” Logan hisses from the general direction of the window.

“I am not cheating,” Charles says, laughing. “Your poker face leaves much to be desired, my boy.”

Erik opens his eyes a fraction to see that Charles has crossed his legs and sat up. Sharing the bed with him, sitting respectively in the right and left edge and the foot of the bed, sit Alex, Sean and Kitty.

Charles’ eyes flick up and he smiles at Erik, a wide and true smile like he’s never showed before. Erik can do nothing but smile back.

Then he says, “Surrounded by brats, as usual.”

Alex says, “I’m nearly eighteen, asshole,” just as Sean and Kitty turn to grin widely at him. Erik instinctively tries to sit up, wincing when his right arm throbs. He flops back on the bed, sighing. Kitty unfolds from the bed, slightly hesitant.

“Do you need anything?”

Erik needs to punch something to vent his frustration, but the girl looks genuinely concerned, and Erik’s unfortunately been developing a rather unbecoming affection for these kids, so he sighs again.

“Water, please.”

Kitty rushes to comply. Logan strolls closer to Erik’s bed, from where he had been standing next to the open window. Erik notes he’s had the decency to leave the cigar in the windowsill, though probably asking him to crush it would be too much.

“How bad is the damage?” he asks firmly, looking at Logan right in the eyes.

“The left one will recover fully, one-hundred percent, good as new,” Logan says frankly. “Right one’s a bit trickier. Had to make some pretty long reconstructive surgery, delicate shit. Wont; be moving that hand in a while, and forget about writing long love poems, but they think you should be able to use it almost normally eventually.”


Logan shrugs, “Maybe in about a year, if you subject to some intense PT. Chuck was right that the nerves weren’t snipped, though, so that pain stabbing your hand and arm right now? Learn to love it, kid. Means all five fingers are still there.”

Erik nods, not entirely certain how he feels about that. Kitty hovers rather uncertainly next to his bed, and he arches a brow at her, amused. Now that he’s fully awake, though, he can hold his head up on his own, so all Kitty has to do is carefully hold the cup to his lips.
“This is going to get old, really fast,” he says when Kitty sits the empty cup on the bed table.

“When I first manifested my powers I had entire days where I couldn’t get my hands to stay solid,” she says, nodding. “You have no idea how annoying that is.”

“What, you didn’t have a doting boyfriend to open doors for you?” Sean teases.

“What for? I can walk through them.”

“Kitty’s like, the perfect stalker girlfriend, she can follow you anywhere and shit—“

“Language, Sean,” Charles admonishes.

“—and like, spring at you from nowhere when you least expect it—“

“I’m not invisible, Sean—“

“I bet you’d scream like such a girl if she did that to you. Fuck, Kitty, you gotta do that!”

Alex, watch your tongue, for Heaven’s sake—“

Erik is so busy being amused and entertained by the conversation that he misses the way Kitty, casually demonstrative and comfortable with herself, is leaning her elbow companionably on Charles’ left shoulder. He grins, aware that Charles is very conscious of the weight and comfort of the contact, though he’s too busy arguing with Alex about something silly like appropriate wording in front of ladies.

The German turns to Logan instead, and finds, as he had suspected, that the man is very aware of Kitty’s casual attitude as well. The girl is smart—it’s only her elbow and she’s only leaning, careful not to overwhelm, but the intention of being in touch is there, an offer Charles is free to accept.

Erik lets his smile fade away as he stares at Logan, and waits for the man to turn to him before speaking.

“Thank you,” he says low, so only Logan will hear. “For being kind, back there.”

“It’d take a really hard man not to be kind to someone in your state,” Logan replies easily, though his eyes are dark and his eyebrows draw close to one another in a frown. “I didn’t think you’d make it, t’be honest. Crashed once in the ER, had to be resuscitated.”

Erik nods absently.

“So this thing you did with Chuck,” Logan asks, almost casually. “What happens if one of you dies?”

Erik’s eyes cut up, gaze intent.

“Yeah,” Logan nods, unimpressed. “Figured as much. Better start watching your scrawny hide, then.”

Erik snorts, “I doubt it can get any worse than I have it already, Logan.”

“Shaw’s dead,” the man nods. “But if you think Shaw was your only problem, you better start thinking fast, buddy. The Government thinks they have a telepath on a leash, they have an agent on a school dedicated to training mutants, and if you think they don’t know anything about your nazi-hunting rampage, you’re stupid besides blind. There’s no such thing as happily-ever-afters, kid.”

“I am not kid,” Erik says, but he’s shaken by Logan’s down-to-earth honesty. Of course, Erik knew all of the things he’s just been reminded of. Only they were out of his mind for the moment, and while he appreciates that Logan means well, means to keep him alert and safe, the brutal frankness has left him feeling bereft and unsure. “You can’t be that much older than me, Logan.”

“Older than I look,” the man shrugs.

“We’ll deal with it,” Charles says quietly, and Erik realizes the children have been silent for a while, all attempts at light-hearted banter forgotten. All three of them, none above the age of seventeen, look grim and serious. The expression is dissonant and alarming in Kitty’s pretty face. “A bridge we’ll cross when we get to.”

“We’re coming to it fast, Chuck,” Logan rounds Erik’s bed and pulls himself up to sit on the edge. Erik obligingly folds his right leg, giving him more room.

Just as does he becomes aware of a laceration on the top of his thigh, and winces as he moves the stiff muscles. Logan gives him an unimpressed look, even as the other four occupants of the room wince in sympathetic pain. Charles, judging by the way he flinches, not only sympathetic, but shared.

“There’s no point in rushing the confrontation,” Charles continues, fixing Logan with a level look.

“Best defense is a good offense,” Logan replies.

“I’ve no long-range telepathy right now, Logan,” Charles says calmly, and studiously ignores the way Erik starts. “I’m limited to contact and the link I’ve with Erik. I’m no good for attack or defense at the moment, and cannot predict when my gift will return to its original state. That it won’t is a distinct possibility. I need time to gather myself.”

“We’re not going to be safe in the manor forever,” Alex says in an even voice, blue eyes intent. “The CIA wanted Shaw alive, and they’ll know you must have had something to do with him being dead. Azazel was thorough, but we can’t be sure that he managed to conceal all evidence of the two of you being in that compound. There was blood everywhere, especially in Erik’s holding cell.”

“None of it can have survived the fire, Alex,” Charles says reassuringly. “And you’ve no idea how thorough Azazel can be.”

Erik frowns, reaches out with his mind and easily slips Kitty’s ring off her finger, calling it idly to his left hand where it twirls, cheery and light, before dropping to his lap. In the silence following the display, Erik’s eyes snap up.

“Why is my gift working and yours not?” he asks harshly.

Charles shrugs, “Psychological damage is the easiest guess. When Shaw—“ he stops himself, keenly aware of the fact that he’s surrounded by three children and can’t very well describe the exact conditions of the murder they carried out together. “when he died, I felt it, in my mind. When I woke up here my telepathy was muted to skin-to-skin only. I’ve not been able to figure it out, but I haven’t honestly given much thought to it yet.”

“So basically,” Logan sums up in is eloquent way. “It’s either a block or brain damage.”

“That is inaccurate,” Charles protests, “Because my brain matter wasn’t assaulted at all. Well, apart from the obvious, and even after those wounds I was using telepathy perfectly well—it hurt, granted, but I could do it. Whatever happened that shut down the ability happened during or after Shaw’s death.”

“How did he die, anyway?” Sean asks, blinking.

Alex’s eyes flick deliberately down to the covers of the bed, shoulders tense. Logan crosses his arms and says, “Choked on a coin.”
Erik thinks surely such level of dark humor must require some level of forethought. Then again, Logan is hardly the kind of man to sit around and think about stuff, so the possibility of him idly considering dark jokes in the improbable case of being asked this particularly specific question is not only unlikely, but also laughable.

“Okay,” Sean says doubtfully. He’s intelligent enough not to repeat the question, though.

Alex says nothing. Erik can tell that he’s uncomfortable and he thinks he understands why. Alex saw the state of Shaw’s body, so he must necessarily have been able to tell how he died. Neither Erik nor Charles had cared to spare Shaw any measure of pain, and his death had been messy and admittedly distasteful. Erik can see that now, and while he regrets nothing, he thinks they could have been better men, could have risen above Shaw’s level.

Alex feels like in seeing the body, and in the implied necessity that he keeps quiet about the manner of Shaw’s death, he’s been forced to be an accomplice in his murder—because it was murder, a necessary and deserved one, but murder nonetheless.  

Erik wishes fervently that Charles’ telepathy had not shut down. Charles always knows what to say to comfort someone, he understands people. From the way the geneticist is looking at the boy it’s evident Charles is as troubled as Erik is.

Charles hesitates, unsure, but he reaches forward and lays his hand gently on Alex’s shoulder. When the blond boy snaps his head up, Charles flinches and almost recoils, stopping himself at the last instant when Alex leans forward into the contact.

Easy, he sends soothingly through the bond. You can do it, don’t over-think it. It’s the easiest way of comforting someone, after all.

Charles smiles, squeezing Alex’s shoulder a little more firmly as an elated sense of child-like awe surges through the bond, unbidden and unchecked. It almost makes Erik grin, it’s so intense a feeling.

Logan snorts, delicacy and subtlety evidently quite beyond his grasp.

There’s a knock at the door, and a young doctor steps into the room, faintly amused. He’s classically handsome, with a long nose and almond-shaped bottle-green eyes, tall and athletic.

“I suppose that there’s someone guarding the door is understandable enough,” he says with a softly musical Southern accent. Texan, possibly, Erik thinks. “But I don’t think they need to scowl at me every time I come to check on y’all. They do know me by now.”

“Appearances are deceitful, Dr. Fraser,” Charles smiles.

Logan ushers the children outside, sparing the doctor a quick glance and a gruff greeting. Once the door has closed, Fraser comes closer to Erik and inclines his head in lieu of a handshake, for obvious reasons.

“Mr. Lehnsherr, we haven’t been introduced. I’m Michael Fraser, your head physician and traumatologist. I performed surgery in your right arm and realigned the phalanxes in your left one.”

Erik nods, instantly sober and uncertain. He has an instinctual rejection to medics of any kind, especially those in a position of power over him, but Fraser is hardly intimidating—if anything he’s calm and exudes a soothing air of efficiency and frankness. Besides, Erik reminds himself, he’s far from helpless—he has his gift, Charles is here with him, and there are at least five mutants out in the hall, if he counts the two guarding the door.

“How bad is the damage on the right one?” he asks.

“It looks worse than it is. Whoever did this to you had a very clear knowledge of anatomy, and knew what they were doing. The intent was to torture and scar, not maim. I assume you weren’t given the benefit of anesthesia, which accounts for both the dislocation of the left shoulder and the strained muscles on the right one. The left hand, as you might have heard, will recover fully if you mind it for the correct amount of time.”

He leveled a firm, unflinching gaze on Erik.

“You look like the impatient sort. Know from the beginning that you won’t be doing training circuits in at least six months, not if you want to be able to write again. Yes, I know you’re right handed, I can tell. Now let’s take a look at it, hm? How’s the pain? Are you handling it, or do you need a greater dose of sedatives?”

Erik is somewhat thrown off balance by how devastatingly honest the man is, and manages only to shake his head as he whips out a scissor and snips the end of the bandage and begins to unwrap in quick but mindful movements.

When he’s finally done, he reaches up and tugs the overhead lamp down. Erik stares. From wrist to inner elbow runs a long, red line of black-thread stitches, crowned at both ends by long Y shapes. Yes, Shaw certainly knew what he was doing. It looks like an autopsy’s been performed on his dominant arm. He grits his jaw, swallows convulsively.

He can feel Charles at the other end of the bond, offering company but respecting Erik’s natural need for privacy in his pain. Perhaps later he’ll turn to his lover for comfort, but right now, he needs to deal with it alone.

“It’s healing beautifully,” Fraser says, snapping on a pair of white latex gloves and touching Erik’s arm with exquisite care, testing the flexibility and temperature of the skin. By the time he’s done, Erik is breathing a little more harshly and pale-faced, but he’s not made a noise. Fraser glances at him, but he doesn’t reiterate the offer of a larger dose of painkillers.

It’s a rare doctor that is willing to accommodate a patient’s stubbornness. Erik appreciates that, even though he’s smart enough to gather that Fraser will only humor him to a certain point.

Fraser says nothing as he wraps up his arm and hand again, then discards the gloves and turns off the light. He settles back on the chair, crossing his long legs.

“In the interests of full disclosure,” he says conversationally. “My first instinct on seeing you was amputating the arm from elbow down.”
Erik flinches visibly. Fraser gives him a knowing look, not smug or mocking, simply intelligent, understanding.

“Why didn’t you?” Erik rasps.

“Because you’ve been tortured, Mr. Lehnsherr,” Fraser answers. The he pointedly glances down at Erik’s left arm, where the mils of gauze cover his Auschwitz tattoo. “More than once. And if you survived Hitler as a boy with all your limbs, I’m certainly not going to be the one to allow some sick sociopath to take your dominant arm from you. I can’t promise you that you’ll ever be back to perfect motor-control, but I can make sure that you keep your hand.”

Erik is speechless.

“I’m your doctor, Mr. Lehnsherr,” Fraser continues, getting to his feet and pushing the chair back against the wall. “You’re one of mine now, and I take care of mine. I don’t need you to open your heart and talk to me, but I will expect that you tell me all about your body, and trust that I will care for it, probably better than you’re willing to considering the fact that you weigh less than your ideal and have a zero-point-one percent of body fat—something that you will most certainly hear about later on. Hear about it extensively and in no uncertain terms.”

He gave Erik one last, sharp jade look.

“If you need something and one of your doting children is not around—unlikely as it sounds—ring a nurse. If you’re in pain call me. Move that arm and I tie it to your chest. I’m giving an order for you to be well fed, and if I hear you didn’t eat at least half of every meal, I’ll be back, and you won’t be happy to see me. Don’t even think of showers, it’s sponge-baths until further notice and no, that’s not open to negotiation. You can shave, if you want to.”

Erik blinks, feeling like he’s just been bulldozed.

Fraser turns to grin at Charles, familiarity and friendship evident.

“See you around, Charlie.”

He even pats Charles’ foot on his way out. Erik stares at Charles, wordless.

“Old Oxford friend,” Charles reveals. “Remarkable human.”

Oh. So Charles has decided to finally tackle the little matter of Erik’s prejudice against humans, by forcing him to admire a strong-willed, capable one.

I hate you, Erik thinks childishly, huffing.

No you don’t, Charles replies fondly.

Chapter 18

OOOOOOOH you make me sooooo happy!!! Brilliant chapter!

Ah, I think we all were ready for a bit of fluff after that last chapter. ;) Brilliant as usual. ♥

Thank you <3 Yeah, I thought some fluff was warranted and deserved. I don;t think I can out these boys through much more and still be fair, lol

superb, as always! <3! Erik got told, and his arm saved, by a human.
He will never live it down.
Aside from that though, it is a nice break to get some relief from the drama. You're good at balancing it out. I never feel swamped by it.

Haha I know, right? I needed a human character and since no one seemed to fit the bill, I came up with one.

I know, I needed a mellow, easy-going chapter myself. I like writing action, but what with all the drama in this story lately I feel like any time now the characters will try to strangle me.

Best. Doctor. EVER! And absolutely necessary and I adore you for that. I've been wondering how you would handle that part of their difference of opinions, and I adore how it was barely an issue. "Humans suck, OK, here." And I loved it. Also adored Logan, how he was honest, and the one Erik knew he could talk to about this stuff. Then Ororo reading to him. Just, this whole chapter was very heartwarming. All the children surrounding, protecting him, Charles casually sitting next to him...really enjoyed it.

Thank you! I'm glad you like Fraser. I know original characters are a risk in fics, but I needed a human an no one canon seemed to fit the bill. I didn;t want Erik and Charles endlessly discussing something they've already gone over and never managed to pull through, you know?

Thank you so much <3

So much love for this chapter, SO MUCH LOVE. So delightfully fluffy I am wrapping myself up in it tonight when I go to bed. :D The bickering between Alex, Sean and Kitty, Sean's stream-of-consciousness rant about Kitty being the perfect stalker girlfriend, holy crap that was my favorite part for some reason.

Haha I love Sean, i think he must be a blast to write. Maybe eventually I'll write a fic centered on his stream of consciousness regarding the events of the movie. That might be fun *speculates*

I think I owe you my first born for how brilliant you are.

Thank for the praise! But keep your child--I would be a terrible mother. I would make him read Batman comics and watch Monty Python and I'd insist he/she read every book written by one Terry Pratchett.

Jesus. I'd be the Neil Gaiman version of Mommy Dearest.

Had a horrible day, and this was exactly what I needed! *____________*

Michael Fraser, you are my hero!!! That was one kickass speech he gave Erik there. XD And I kind of love the fact that he called Charles Charlie. ^^

Seriously, I don't want this story to end.

I'm glad you liek him! I know OCs are kind of not welcome in fics, but I needed this character. LOL no one would call him Charlie to his face but someone this insane.

I know, but trust me, if I drag it out endlessly you'll wish it had ended when it was still good.

Awww! I needed a little bit of fluff after all the torture! Awesome! I love Charles' Oxford doctor friend.

I'm glad you liked! I know, fluff was MUCH needed. Thanks for liking Fraser <3

Oh, how they deserved to chapter like this! It's not really that fluffy, but it's... nice. And this great moment when Charles is being touched and is touching people other than Erik! The doctor is amazing- "Remarkable human"- I agree with this completely, no ordinary person could handle Erik as he does. Also Logan, stubbornly calling Erik "kid"... Poor Lehnsherr, his pride must be suffering. Anyway, to be more serious: it's a really pleasant break from all this pain, blood and suffering. As always nicely done!

Thank you! I took a risk with the OC, but you guys have all been so encouraging that I thought you might just trust me when I said I needed him. I like Logan because he speaks things as he sees them, and I think under all of that... hair, there's someone that actually cares. I think the nbreak in the drama and painw as much needed indeed. Now they need to re-enter normal life--or at least, life as normal as it gets for them which is, admittedly, not very normal at all.

Wonderful again! And now they're safe and recovering.

This doctor, Michael Fraser: LOVED HIM! Loved the way he talked to Erik. Did you name him after the scottish goalkeeper? (And no, I'm not versed in sports. I wikipedia-ed him because I thought it might be a marvel character I didn't know, and I found that goalkeeper).

Now, this question could be pretentious, but I have to ask. Did you write Logan's comment about no happily-ever-afters to answer my previous review? Because if you did, what a surprise! And if you didn't, then it's a great line anyway!

Of course I don't expect them to live in a beautiful world and always happy, but I thought their lives would be at least a little simplier after Shaw's death and their new bond.

Thank you for this chapter, and thank you for always answering comments!

Thank you!

I didn;t know about the goalkeeper! No, I just put a name I like with a last-name I like and run with it. I'm sure there must be some amazing human characters in the X-men canon, but I haven't read the comics in ages and I was too lazy to look into it.

No, I didn't actually think of that comment as a reply to you, but you know, lately I've written chapters one after the other, so I can't say your review didn't get me thinking about it. It's just with the life these two lead, happy endings are unlikely. I mean, you're right--life should be simpler with Shaw death, but there's still a lot of things that ned to be worked out.

Thank you for always reading and leaving throughtful comments that make me grin <3

Heh. Poor Erik. Of course Charles found a way to teach him even from his hospital bed. I have a feeling he won't ever get bored. XD This whole chapter was a relief and I'm very fond of the doctor. Finally they're safe.

I'm glad you like Fraser, and I know--I needed a relief from all the drama, as well. Now they can settle back into the normal rhythm of their lives, crazy as it is with all their students.

And yes, never a dull moment with Charles XD

That doctor is an absolute star! :D And this was a lovely chapter!

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it! <3

well.. and they are returning their discussions!
but anyway
poor erik
Shaw is a fucking crazy man! hate him! i'm glad that he is dead! and i hope erik can heal soon!
great chapter

I know, Erik's pretty bad off, but not to worry, he'll heal soon enough =3

Thank you <3


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