poor_medea: (Charles/Erik)
[personal profile] poor_medea




Charles gazes into the faces trained on his, taking in Raven’s determined frown, Kitty’s wide, nervous eyes, and Jean’s placid reassurance.

“I can do it,” the redhead says. “I’m willing to do it.”

Charles’ heart leaps, and he wants to instantly take her up on her offer. But…he can’t. He’s brought Kitty to the MA meeting, letting her relate what she overheard, and has explained why they can’t use her testimony against McCone.

And now Jean is offering to be the one to invade the Profesor’s mind, to take the information they need to sway Azazel to their side.

But Charles knows he can’t let her. If anyone is going to risk themselves like that, go against everything society has taught them, and potentially face the consequences, it should be Charles.

This is his problem, after all.

I know how you feel about things like this, Jean’s voice whispers in his mind. I don’t…I don’t worry about it as much as you do.

He knows that. He’s felt it from her. She doesn’t have the same reluctance with her powers as Charles does, which is baffling to him, given how much raw power she wields. Telepathic from birth, telekinetic from puberty—frankly, he would be terrified of himself.

But Jean isn’t.

She isn’t afraid of herself and she isn’t afraid to use her powers. The casual way she speaks into his mind both delights and frightens Charles. He knows she does it to the others, as well, when she wants to speak to them privately in a crowded room. He wishes, sometimes, that he could do the same.

“We don’t have to make any decisions now, anyway,” he says aloud. He can feel Erik watching him, wondering why he isn’t charging full-steam ahead to take down McCone. Wondering why he hesitates at every turn. “Nothing has to be decided until McCone actually starts something.”

“He’s already started rumors,” Erik objects angrily. Charles has told him about the whispers in the halls, the looks the other TAs and even some of the faculty are shooting him when he goes into the department.

“Rumors are just that. Insubstantial. Inconsequential,” Charles says with more conviction than he feels. It hurts, knowing the things people are saying about him. “No one’s risking their place at the university over rumors,” he says, glancing sternly at Jean and Erik in turn. They’re both students; they could both be kicked out.

Erik grumbles but subsides.

Raven draws Kitty into a conversation about her power, distracting her from the nerves that have been setting her on edge since she arrived. Charles smiles at the blonde gratefully and moves over to where Lorna is playing in the corner of the room, happily pawing through dog-eared books and worn toys. Everything is so simple for her, Charles thinks sadly.

He wishes he could feel the same. Once, he used to wish to be normal, to be just like everyone else. Now, looking around this room, he realizes that ‘normal’ is far from what he had thought.

He isn’t alone as a mutant. There are many of them, and they’re here, together, ready to support Charles and Erik.

He just wishes he could return to a time when his power was exciting, not terrifying. When the idea of mutations was exhilarating, not something to be hidden away and ashamed of.

“If McCone starts something,” Erik leans down to whisper in his ear. “You will do something. Won’t you?”


__________________________



“Mr. Xavier!”

Charles spins in the hall, looking curiously behind him. Professor Pratt hurries up to him, his large frame slowing his steps as he jogs down the corridor. Charles doesn’t know the man well; he teaches physics, an area that only tangentially overlaps with Charles’ own research. Still, he’s seen him in department meetings and he seems nice enough.

“I’m glad I caught you,” Pratt pants, slicking his hair back from his forehead. “Can we step into my office?”

“Of course,” Charles allows, puzzled.

Pratt leads him down the hall into one a small office nearly identical to the one Charles uses. “What can I do for you, professor?” he asks.

Pratt frowns, eyeing him thoughtfully. “I hate to be the one to tell you this, Xavier. But there was a department meeting today.”

“Okay?”

“Professor McCone called it, to let us know that he’s officially filed a complaint against you with the university.”

Charles’ heart sinks.

“For fraternizing with a student.”

“I see.” Charles drops into one of the available chairs. He had known it was a possibility, but he kept telling himself it wouldn’t happen, that McCone would see the error of his ways. That he couldn’t possibly hate mutants enough to have Charles dismissed from the university.

He thinks about his thesis, all the years of work that have gone into it. Potentially being flushed down the drain.

He thinks he might be sick.

“Are you alright?” Pratt asks, hovering nervously. “I’m only telling you because I want you to be prepared.”

Charles looks up, dazed. “Prepared?”

Pratt’s face hardens. “To fight this. To fight him.”

“What?”

“I know you’re a mutant, Xavier. I’ve seen your records. And McCone isn’t exactly secretive with how he feels about your kind.”

“Yes, well…”

“It’s not right,” Pratt says earnestly, leaning forward to catch Charles’ eyes. “Mutants should have as many rights as the rest of us.”

Charles looks up, surprised. “You really feel that way?”

Pratt gives him a considering look. “Did you break the code of conduct?”

“No.”

“You didn’t become involved with a student?”

“Not while he was my student,” Charles admits.

Pratt’s brow furrows, but then he nods. “Then it’s because of what you can do.” He says somberly. “I always thought it was. You know, ten years ago he didn’t even want mutants admitted to the degree program?”

Charles blanches. “He must hate having to work so closely with us.”

“I think he does,” Pratt agrees, shaking his head. “It’s a damn shame. People like him rising to the top, and keeping accomplished scientists like you down.”

Charles gives him a tiny smile, his mind whirring with what’s to be done. “Thank you for telling me.”

“Well,” Pratt says, scrubbing at his shaggy hair. “I wanted you to be prepared.”

“I appreciate it,” Charles assures him. “Really.”

“You do have allies here, Mr. Xavier,” Pratt says. “Not everyone is like McCone.”

“No,” Charles allows himself a smile. “I’m starting to realize that.”


______________________________



And so it’s happened, Charles thinks on the bus home. He’s going to be fired. No matter what the truth is, the evidence is stacked against him.

Unless he does something about it.

He watches the streets go by in a blur, wondering if he can really do it. It goes against everything he believes it. Or, believed in.

Because now he has Erik to think about. And Raven, and Kitty, and Jean, and Ororo.

And, most importantly, Lorna. Barely a person, and yet potentially facing so much prejudice and hatred.

If she has a power manifest, she’ll go through the same things that her father has, that Charles has. The same discrimination that all mutants have to face on a daily basis.

And that’s just unacceptable, Charles thinks. Not for a sweet, darling girl like Lorna.

If and when she develops a power he wants her to be excited about it, thrilled with the possibilities.

Not frightened and wary of the world around her.

And that’s it, isn’t it? Charles is tired of being afraid.

Erik asked if he would fight for himself if McCone started something. Charles had hesitated, but now he’s sure. He’s not just fighting for himself—he’s fighting for all of them.


__________________________________________




Erik calls four times that evening, but Charles lets them all go to voicemail. He knows the boy will support him no matter what he decides to do—knows, in fact, that Erik will be ecstatic with Charles’ decision. But he has to do this on his own. He has to do this for himself, for a change. No more hiding. Not behind a mask of normalcy, not behind other mutants, and not behind other people’s decisions.

So the next morning Charles goes in to the university and, mustering his courage, knocks on Professor McCone’s door.

“Yes?” That cruel, hard voice calls.

Charles cracks the door open, registering the disappointment and disgust that flit over McCone’s face when he sees Charles. “Can I have a word, Professor?”

McCone gestures him into a chair in front of his desk and Charles obeys the command, his mind already reaching out for the professor’s.

“I heard a rumor yesterday that you had brought up disciplinary procedures against me,” Charles begins, probing gently, ever so gently, at the other man’s mind.

“And what of it?”

Charles frowns. “I thought we could discuss it like rational adults.”

McCone’s face hardens as he leans back in his chair, crossing his arms tight over his chest. “There’s nothing to discuss. You fucked a student and now you’re going to be fired.”

Charles narrows his eyes. “We both know that isn’t true.”

McCone gives a derisive snort. “Truth isn’t really the issue here, is it, Xavier?”

And with that Charles dives in, pushing past McCone’s natural defenses into the soft matter of his mind. Thoughts swirl wildly around him as he searches for what he needs.

The fleeting thought of a red-skinned devil gives Charles something to latch onto, and he follows the thread into the depths of McCone’s mind, seeing what he really thinks of Azazel.

Disgusting, all of them, McCone practically shouts, now that Charles is listening. Think they deserve a place in this world. Might as well let trained monkeys teach our classes, for all that they’re human. For all that they should be in charge of a bunch of kids. Just as likely to kill the students as looks at them, probably, McCone’s mind sneers. Looks at Azazel. I’m just supposed to believe nature made him look exactly like a devil, like something out of a picture book?

“What is the issue then, professor?” Charles goads, buying himself time.

Red skin and a pointy tail, McCone’s subconscious continues. Might as well have horns and cloven feet. He’s an abomination just like the rest of them. He looks like what they all are on the inside. Freaks.

The professor gives him a hard look. “The issue is the stack of reports I have against you and Lensherr. The mountain of circumstantial evidence. My own eye-witness account.”

He should have remembered his place, McCone’s mind sneers. Look at Azazel. He knows what he is. A lackey. This one, though. This one thinks he’s as good as the rest of us. Wanting a job here in the department. Thinking he can be my colleague. Needs to be put back where he belongs.

Charles frowns, shaking his head. There’s no love lost between him and Azazel, but that doesn’t make it any easier to hear. “So what you’re saying is that you don’t care about the truth?”

“The truth is what you make of it, Xavier,” McCone replies smugly.

Charles stands, using the height difference to stare McCone down. “Are those the words of a true scientist?” he asks before stalking out of the room.

He needs to find Azazel and tell him what he heard. But more than that, he needs Erik right now.

He ducks into his own office and pulls out his phone.

“Charles?” Erik answers on the second ring. “Are you alright? I’ve been trying to reach you.”

“Sorry,” Charles sinks back into his chair. “I had some things to do.”

“Everything okay?” Erik asks hesitantly.

“I think it’s going to be,” Charles assures him, closing his eyes to focus on the cadences of Erik’s voice. “Tell me how your day was yesterday.”

Erik laughs. “We didn’t really do much,” he protests.

“I don’t care. Tell me about it, anyway.”

“Well, Lorna tried to have me guess what her drawings were. And I would have sworn it was a camel, but apparently it was a cat, and she was so offended.”

Charles laughs, feeling the tension release from his chest as Erik rambles on, full of the little domesticities of life with Lorna.


________________________________



Charles waits by Azazel’s office, hovering nervously in the corridor. He doesn’t want McCone, or any of his cronies, to see him and get suspicious. But he has no other way to ensure that he catches the red-skinned man. An email might be ignored, a call left unreturned. And with a disciplinary hearing looming on the horizon, Charles knows he needs to speak to Azazel now.

After an interminable wait with his heart in his throat, Azazel rounds the corner, his head bent over the stack of papers in his hands. As he approaches his office door he looks up and freezes, surprise crossing over his stern face.

“Charles,” he nods.

“Azazel. I was wondering if I might have a word.”

“For what reason?”

Charles makes a face. “Look, can we just talk in your office? I promise not to take up too much of your time.”

“Fine.” Azazel unlocks the door with quick, efficient movements, allowing Charles to trail after him. “What do you want?”

“I assume you know that Professor McCone has brought action against me?” Charles dives right in.

“Da,” Azazel agrees, face carefully blank.

“And I suspect you know that the allegations are false.”

“I have seen you with the student,” Azazel counters.

“But do you believe I actually slept with him when he was my student?” Charles demands. It seems so ludicrous to have to keep going over this point, when he still hasn’t slept with Erik at all. Perhaps he should rectify that, he thinks with a sigh. When this is all over.

“Why does it matter what I believe?”

Charles drops into the one available chair in front of Azazel’s desk. “McCone is out to get me because I’m a mutant and so is Erik. Surely you must object to that.”

Azazel’s posture stiffens. “You have no proof.”

“I know you think you’re his favorite,” Charles says apologetically. “You think he’s going to give you a job in the department. But he’s just using you. He hates all mutants equally.”

“You are just upset that you lose your job,” Azazel counters.

“No. I’m sorry, Azazel, truly I am. But he’s never going to employ you. He’s never going to think of you as an equal.”

Azazel’s shakes his head in denial. “You are wrong. He has promised me.”

“I’m sure he’s promised you a great deal. Getting you to do his dirty work for him. Tell me, did he have you follow me? Spy on me and Erik?”

“I think you should leave now.”

“No!” Charles leans forward. “You must understand.” He raises one hand tentatively to his temple. “I’m sorry, but you need to hear what I’ve heard.”

And then he does something he’s never tried before. He takes the lump of memories surrounding McCone—what Charles knows, and what Kitty heard, and most importantly, what Charles pulled out of McCone’s mind—and he shoves it into Azazel’s head.

The other mutant’s brain resists, flinging a wall up around his consciousness, but Charles just batters against it, shattering it into a million piercing shards.

Azazel gives an aborted yelp, flinging himself back in his chair, away from Charles, but he can’t escape the knowledge forcing its way into his brain.

Disgusting, all of them. Looks at Azazel. I’m just supposed to believe nature made him look exactly like a devil? You mutants are cheating every day of your lives. They’re useful sometimes, but I wouldn’t give one a job when there are deserving normal people.

Charles pulls back, panting, to find Azazel staring at him with wide eyes, his hands clutched to his head.

“I’m sorry. It was the only way,” Charles chokes out, his stomach roiling at the lingering feel of Azazel’s mind, struggling against his, trying to keep him out. “You need to know what he’s really like.”

“Get out.”

“But—“

“I said get out!” Azazel thunders, teleporting to Charles’ side, looming above him, his red face distorted with rage.

Charles scrambles out of his chair, snatching his bag up and flinging himself at the door. He can hear Azazel behind him, heaving great shaky breaths.

Charles can’t think as he races down the hall to his own office, blood pounding in his ears. What has he done? He locks the door behind him and sinks into his desk chair, his head in his hands.

He went against everything he was ever taught, everything he believed in. He invaded Azazel’s mind, not just with a glance or a whisper, but with blunt force, putting something into his head that wasn’t there before.

It’s the worst kind of violation, and he did it just to keep a job.

No, a small part of his brain reminds him. It was for Erik and Raven and Kitty and Ororo and Lorna. Charles sits up shakily. It was for every mutant who’s been belittled or bullied, insulted or overlooked or turned away.

It was even for the non-mutants, the ‘normal’ kids, who shouldn’t grow up in a world of hatred or prejudice either, merely learning their parents’ bigotry and spewing it back out at their peers.

It wasn’t the right way to do it, but Charles wonders if it wasn’t just the right thing to do.


______________________________________



Charles avoids everyone the next day, never even glancing at his phone, even though he knows that Erik will try to reach him, and probably Raven, too. He’s conflicted, still. He knows what Erik will say—that the ends always justify the means. He’s never believed that himself. Not before yesterday, anyway.

Azazel didn’t mind using his power against his own kind, he reminds himself sternly. The other mutant hadn’t admitted it, but Charles was sure that Azazel had been following him and Erik, reporting back on their every move. And all to get a job.

Charles was sure his own motivations were better than that. He was fighting the good fight, after all. Wasn’t he?

He’s honestly not sure anymore, about anything. He feels like he doesn’t even know himself.

He sulks in his flat, remembering every stern word his mother ever spoke to him, begging him to just be ‘normal’ in front of her friends and his father’s colleagues. He remembers the lessons he went to as a child—the special ‘freak’ lessons—where they drilled it into him: never use your power. It was different. It was wrong. He was wrong.

Charles knows that isn’t true. Understands evolution better than most, and knows the X gene better than anyone. He knows how mutants happened, knows that they’re not evil or a punishment from god, but merely another step in the forward march of nature.

But he still feels those judgments, slithering along his spine, making him feel like less than a man. Less than a person.

He hates it. He hates everything about the way mutants are treated.

Charles grits his teeth and makes a decision.

No matter what else he does, he’s not going to let Lorna grow up feeling that way. Not Lorna, and, if he can do anything about it, not any other mutant child.


___________________________________________________



Charles goes into work the next day because that’s what he does. Good old reliable Charles. Never mind that he’s a wreck as he enters the building, terrified of running into McCone or Azazel. What if the other mutant had told the professor that Charles invaded his mind? What if Azazel had lodged a complaint of his own with the university?

As he scurries down the corridors, Charles swears everyone is looking at him. Talking about him. Judging him.

And maybe they are. Even if Azazel hasn’t reported him, the whole department is bound to know about the disciplinary action brought against him.

There goes Charles Xavier, they’re all probably thinking. Student fucker.

It’s vastly unfair, he decides as he locks himself in his office, that he hasn’t even gotten to fuck Erik. It’s been over a year since he had last been with anyone, and yet his whole life has become about judging his sex life. Unfair doesn’t even begin to cover it.

He grades homework mechanically, going through the stack of assignments with barely a thought. They have to get done, and so Charles will do them.

Most of the morning passes in a blur of multiple-choice questions before Charles is startled out of his reverie by a knock on the door. For one panicked second he thinks about pretending not to be there, hoping that whoever is on the other side will just go away.

But it could be a student, or the head of department, and so Charles resigns himself and stands, cracking the door open with trepidation.

“Xavier!” Professor Pratt says genially.

“Um. Hello?”

“I guess you’ve heard the news?”

“News?”

Professor Pratt shoulders his way into the office, practically bowling Charles over in his enthusiasm. “McCone!”

Charles tenses. “What about him?”

Pratt shoots him a surprised look. “Well, he’s been fired, of course! You hadn’t heard?”

“Fired?” Charles parrots, dropping down in a chair in a daze.

“For discrimination, hate speech, false allegations, and inappropriate conduct! I reckon you could get him on stalking, too, if you wanted to involve the police.”

Police? Charles thinks in a daze. “What—what happened?”

“His other TA. Azazel, is it? Testified against him. Went over the head, straight to the dean, with his allegations. Told him everything—how McCone hates mutants, how he set out to get you and your student, how he had Azazel tail you two.” Pratt looks positively ecstatic, practically rubbing his hands together with glee at the juicy gossip. “How he targeted you just because you’re different.” Pratt gives him a considering look. “You really hadn’t heard? Everyone is talking about it.”

Charles thinks back to all the eyes he felt following him as he came into the building. Not because he was a mutant, or a student-fucker, but because of Azazel. Because McCone had been unmasked as a bigot.

Something lifts in his chest and he sinks back in his chair in relief. “So, the disciplinary complaint?”

“Dismissed!” Pratt confirms.

“So it’s just—all over?”

Pratt perches on the edge of Charles’ desk, giving him a sympathetic look. “It’s over, Xavier. Everything except your career. Which seems to me like it’ll be very bright.”

“Thank you, Sir.”

Pratt waves him off. “If I get any say in the hiring next year, your name will be at the top of the list.”

“Azazel should be considered, too,” Charles blurts. He’s always wanted a permanent job at the university, but suddenly, it doesn’t feel quite right. He shouldn’t get it over the other mutant, anyway. “He’s a fine teacher, I’ve seen him. And.” He squares his shoulders. “And a brave man.”

“I know,” Pratt says, with far more understanding than Charles would have expected. He claps Charles on the shoulder. “But you are too, Xavier.”

Charles just ducks his head, unsure of what to say. He violated his principles, whereas Azazel stood up for his own.

He doesn’t know how he’ll begin to thank the other mutant, for doing the right thing, for standing up for Charles. For standing up for himself, possibly for the first time ever.

Charles realizes the feeling welling up inside of him is pride. Not for himself, but for Azazel.

He loves helping his students, teaching them and seeing them succeed. But he’s never felt this before. This overwhelming pride in another person.

Knowing Azazel stood up for himself and finally took pride in who he is. It’s the greatest thing Charles has ever felt.

Perhaps, he realizes, just teaching university biology isn’t what he’s meant to do.

“Thank you for stopping by to tell me, Professor Pratt,” he says politely, standing.

Pratt pushes off the edge of the desk. “No problem. I mean it, Xavier. I’d love to have you around more permanently.”

“Thank you, Professor,” Charles says sincerely. “But I might—have some other ideas of what to do with myself. With my future.”

Pratt nods. “I’m sure you’ll be great, whatever you do.” He steps closer. “But I want you to know I’m behind you. All of you. So, if you need any help in the future, whatever you end up doing—Don’t be a stranger.”

Something warms in Charles’ chest, looking at this earnest man’s face. A non-mutant, but still so caring, so compassionate about Charles’ kind. “Thank you, Professor. I just might take you up on that one day.”

“I expect you to,” Pratt says with a grin. “See you around, Xavier.”

He lets himself out of the office and Charles stares after him in a daze. It’s all over. The persecution, the whispers. They’ve all come to an end.

Hell, he probably even has a job in the department, if he wants it.

He thinks back to his panic of the day before, the sick feeling that curled low and tight in his stomach, telling him he’d done wrong.

It’s gone now, he thinks as he locks up his office, strolling happily down the hall.

He may have broken every rule in the books—every rule in his own books—but he can’t argue with the fact that it had results.

And for right now, he feels like that’s enough.


____________________________



Charles knocks insistently on Erik’s door, wondering if he should have called first. The boy does have a life, after all. But Charles was brimming over with news, and when he saw the bus that would take him to Erik’s house waiting at the university stop, he got on without a thought.

He’s just thinking about turning around and making his way back to campus, perhaps stopping in the coffee shop to see if Raven is there, when the door is pulled open.

“Charles,” Erik sounds surprised.

“Hi. I—uh, I hope it’s okay that I just stopped by?”

Erik shakes his head, pulling the door open a little wider. “No, of course. It’s fine. Come on in.”

Charles steps into the dim hall, eyeing the boy beside him. Erik seems a bit…distant. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah. I just—haven’t seen you for a few days. I wasn’t sure if you—“

“If I what?” Charles prompts with a frown.

Erik turns away, looking pensively up the stairs. “If you changed your mind. About seeing me.”

“What?”

“I wouldn’t blame you,” Erik forges on. “With all the shit McCone is giving you.”

“That’s all over now,” Charles says firmly, giving Erik a small smile when he looks over in surprise. “That’s what I came to tell you.”

“Really? But, how? What happened?”

“A lot,” Charles laughs ruefully. “A lot happened. I’m sorry I wasn’t returning your calls. But I had some things to do, on my own.” Charles shrugs. Whatever he feels about the decisions he made, he can be confident that they were his own, that no one pressured him or persuaded him. He, Charles Xavier, stood up to McCone. He, Charles Xavier, used his powers against another person, willfully violating his own moral code and that of the university. Not matter what, it was all him.

“But we’re in this together,” Erik protested.

“I know that. Really,” Charles assures him. “And knowing that you and Raven and everyone else were supporting me means everything. But—I did something I swore I never would, and I’m okay with that, but it needed to be my decision.”

Erik still looks uncertain so Charles reaches forward, catching the boy’s hand with his own. For a second he’s worried that Erik will pull away, but then his long fingers tangle with Charles’, giving a little squeeze.

“A lot happened the last few days,” Charles says. “And I want to tell you all about it.”

They mount the stairs with their hands still linked, the warm pressure of Erik’s palm reassuring. Lorna stands just inside the door, eying them with suspicions for having remained out in the hallway for so long.

“Hi little lady.” Charles ruffles her silky hair, earning him a toothy grin.

“Hi Char!”

Charles crouches down, smiling at her pretty little face. “And how are you today?”

“Old.”

“Old?” Charles asks with a laugh.

“I’ve been trying to explain the concept of birthdays to her.” A fond smile crosses Erik’s face. “It’s not going that well.”

“I haven’t missed hers?” Charles asks, alarmed. He was only out of touch for a few days!

“No, no,” Erik shakes his head. “Next month. I was just trying to get the idea across.” He gives Charles a considering look. “Would it matter if you did miss it?”

“Of course!” Charles rises to bring that back to eye level. “A second birthday is important! I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

That earns him a small smile.

“Besides,” Charles continues. “I’d hope you’d tell me about something so important happening.”

Erik arches an eyebrow. “The same could be said to you,” he points out sharply.

Charles grimaces. “I’m sorry,” he says again. “Come on, let me tell you all about it.”

Erik doesn’t hesitate this time, just takes Charles’ hand and lets himself be led to the ratty sofa.

“Three days ago, McCone filed an official disciplinary complaint against me,” Charles begins.


_____________________



“So it’s really all over?” Erik asks incredulously as Charles sums up Pratt’s visit to his office just an hour before. The boy had barely blinked when Charles told him about invading Azazel’s mind. In fact, approval had practically radiated off of him. It still makes Charles uncomfortable, but he can’t judge Erik too harshly. It was the decision Charles came to, after all. Hurt one to protect the many.

“It’s really over,” Charles agrees with a grin. “And you know the best thing?”

“That McCone got what was coming to him?” Erik says with vicious glee.

“Well, yes,” Charles allows with a laugh. “But also no. The university has officially acknowledged mutant prejudice. They’ve fired a senior faculty member for it, no less. For years it’s been a problem no one talked about, happy to keep acting like they were doing us a favor just by letting us attend. And now the president of the university can’t help but face what’s really going on.”

“You think anything will change?” Erik asks.

Charles gives him a wide grin. “I think it will if we make it.”

Erik gives a startled laugh, revealing the neat rows of his white teeth. “Who are you and what have you done with Charles?”

Charles shrugs. “It turns out that not doing anything isn’t really an option. Not anymore. I’m tired of hiding.”

“So what’s your plan?”

“I think we need to start an advocacy group on campus, with university funding and everything. And the first order of business will be to stop branding us as different on all our official documents.”

Erik’s grin widens impossibly and his large hands come up to grasp Charles’ face. “You’re amazing, you know that?” he tells him, drawing him closer, until Charles can feel his warm breath against his lips.

“Do you think you’ll want to help?” Charles murmurs.

“Help?” Erik scoffs, leaning in to press a teasing kiss to his mouth. “I’m going to be by your side every step of the way.”

Charles sinks into the kiss then, letting Erik’s mouth mold to his, hot and wet and perfect. He hears the clatter of Lorna playing nearby, and realizes he’s finally found it. Where he fits, where he belongs.

_____________________


A/N: I am so, SO incredibly sorry for taking three months off from this story, especially when I was so close to the end, anyway. I just got caught up in a lot of other things (including the One Direction fandom) and time slipped away from me.

There's going to be an epilogue after this, but I can't promise when it will happen, as I've got a lot going on in the next month. But I WILL write it, and this story will be complete.

For anyone who's still watching for updates after all this time, THANK YOU. It really means so much to me.
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August 2015

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