poor_medea: (Fassbender smoking)
[personal profile] poor_medea

They crouch behind a bush, peering up at the house on the hill.

“Holy crap.”

Charles can only laugh, stupefied. “This is supposed to be my house? Or, not even that—my summer house?”

It’s almost monstrous in its size, dwarfing everything around it. A palace more than a house. It even has turrets.

“How filthy rich are you?” Erik asks in wonder.

Charles shoots him a disapproving look. “The only things I have are the clothes I’m wearing, and you. You know that.”

It’s true, but also not true, Erik thinks, as he looks up at the house. This could all be Charles’ one day. When Brian Xavier dies. If Charles Xavier ever wakes up.

After a long moment, Charles lets out a frustrated huff. “I don’t see anyone.”

The house is still and silent. There are no vehicles out front to show that someone is home, although Erik can see a long garage on the other side of the drive, big enough for a whole fleet of cars.

“We might have to wait awhile.” He has no idea how rich people pass their time. Do they ever even leave their house, with a whole staff of servants to cater to their every whim?

Charles groans but drops down out of his crouch, drawing his legs up against his chest and making himself comfortable. “I still can’t quite believe it.”

Erik smiles as he sits down beside him. “It’s no more unbelievable than dating your imaginary friend,” Erik points out.

Charles laughs. “Well, I can’t let you seem more credulous than me, I suppose.”

Erik wraps an arm around his shoulders and they sit in companionable silence, watching the house.

It’s miles outside of town, a walk of several hours for the two boys, and impressively imposing. Erik can’t quite picture Charles within its walls, although he knows that that Charles spent several summers there, when he was a tiny child.

Erik shakes his head. The tiny boy he met in the field ten years before would be swallowed up within those cavernous walls, lost amid a maze of rooms and halls. He can’t help but think it was no place for a little kid.

Although, alone in the woods doesn’t seem much of a better option.

But at least he had Erik.

“Look!” Charles says suddenly, scrambling forward on his knees.

The front door of the house swings open like a gaping mouth.

After a moment, a small figure slips out of the darkness.

Squinting, Erik can make out a girl, young and pretty and blonde. She wears a brilliant blue dress.

She saunters across the grass, a magazine in one hand, a glass in the other. Her feet are bare, and she digs her toes into the soft turf beneath her.


It was little more than a sigh, but Erik turns to Charles, surprised. Charles’ eyes are firmly affixed on the girl, though, full of wonder.

“She looks so grown up.”


“I think—” He turns to Erik, eyes wide. “I think that’s my sister.”

“You recognize her?”

“She was just a little girl…” Charles says, voice distant. “Only two. A baby, really.” His eyes go back to the blonde, a tall girl of about twelve, smiling to herself as she looks around the grounds. “I couldn’t possibly recognize her. But something inside of me knows that’s Raven.”

Erik doesn’t know the name of the Xavier girl, but Charles sounds so sure.

He watches the girl in silence for a few moments, staring at her with the kind of quiet intensity he normally devotes to his books.

“She was just starting to run,” he says suddenly. “Like, fast.” He chuckles. “Faster than either of my parents. I was the only one who could catch her. She was so excited when we got to the house, that summer. She could finally run wherever she wanted, without having to worry about cars or breaking anything. We’d come out here and we’d just…run. Her little legs would go so fast.”

Erik watches her, too. She’s walking slowly, but she’s tall and lean. He could imagine her being fast still.

“You remember,” he says, an unfamiliar emotion welling up inside of him. It feels, strangely, like loss.

Charles frowns. “Not…not really. Just a little blonde girl, running across that field over there.”

It’s enough, though. Enough to prove what Erik was already sure was true.

“You’re Charles Xavier.”

Charles looks over and gives him a hesitant, pleased smile. “I guess I am.”

Erik sits back on his haunches. “What now?”

He wonders if Raven could see Charles, if they called out to her right now. Would she run up to him with open arms, recognizing the boy she thought she’d never talk to again?

“I want to see myself.”


Charles’ eyes are serious. “You said I’m in a coma. In a bed somewhere, never waking up. I want to see myself. The body that everyone else can see.”

The idea of it—Charles’ body, so still and silent—is disconcerting, but Erik understands what his friend wants. The confirmation of looking down at himself, his own lifeless body.

“Then we have to get to New York.”


Erik has no idea how to begin. Since he arrived in this town ten years before, he’s barely gone anywhere that he can’t get to on foot.

New York is a hundred miles away.

Even if he could somehow filch Shaw’s car keys—and that would bring a world of trouble down on his head—he doesn’t know how to drive. Neither does Charles, of course. He thinks maybe he could figure it out, but knowing what he does, he’s not going to risk getting Charles into another horrible wreck, even if his friend’s body would be safe, miles away from the car.

Between the two of them, he and Charles know less about the world than the average ten year old, Erik figures. He’s always been so afraid of what awaited him outside of town—if the Shaws decided to send him away—that he’s never bothered to wonder how to get there.

So, Erik does the only thing he can think of. He asks Hank.

Charles hovers nervously behind him, refusing to be left out of the conversation.

“Hey,” Hank says, looking up from his books in surprise. Erik’s cornered him in the local library—the only kid besides Charles who would willingly hang out there outside of school. Erik thinks they might have been good friends, if only Hank could see Charles.

Erik sinks into the chair beside him. “The Xaviers are from New York, right?” he asks, just to be sure.


Erik pretends to look out the window, and really meets Charles’ eyes. He gives Erik an encouraging smile. “That must be an exciting place,” he says, trying for casual.

“Yeah, it is.”

“So, did they take a train or something? Is that how people get between here and there?”

Hank frowns at him, eyes narrowed as he tries to figure out Erik’s point. Erik gives him an entirely insincere smile. Beside him, Charles snorts.

“I don’t think people like the Xaviers take trains,” Hank said after a long moment.

No, Erik supposes not. Especially because he knows, from Shaw, that they have a private car and driver.

“Besides,” Hank continues, “They had to bring so much equipment and staff for Charles. Not to mention the van that had to carry Charles himself.”

“Wait, what?” Erik looks up sharply. “Charles is here?”

“Of course,” Hank says slowly. “They wouldn’t leave him behind in New York. What if something happened?”

What could happen to a boy in a coma, Erik wonders.

But that’s not the important thing right now. Unseen, Charles is tugging desperately on his sleeve.

“Well, thanks!” he chirps at Hank, standing abruptly.

“For what?”

But Erik is already striding away, following the darting steps of his invisible boyfriend.

“I’m here, Erik,” Charles pants as they burst out of the library. “I’m right here, just outside of town.”

His eyes are wide and his face is flushed. Erik’s never seen him so worked up. “We have to get into that house!”

“That’ll be easier for you than me,” Erik points out under his breath, darting around back of the building where they can talk in peace. “You could go without me.”

“No, I want you to come,” Charles says immediately, reaching out to grasp Erik’s hand. “What if it’s horrible?”

Erik has been wondering the same thing. The idea of seeing Charles lying there, lifeless, has been haunting him. But he’ll go if Charles wants him to.

“Then we’ll have to figure out how to get me inside.”


They stake out the house. It’s not that interesting as far as spying goes; mostly long hours uninterrupted by any activity from within. Occasionally Raven wanders outside, sitting on the lawn with a book, or walking around the gardens.

The staff comes and goes with more frequency. People Erik knows from town arrive in the morning and leave at night, presumably cooking or cleaning in the meantime.

If only Erik could get hired for a job in the house, it would solve all their problems. But he has no idea how to go about doing that. Besides, of all the people in the town, he figures a poor, scruffy foster kid is the last person the Xaviers would hire, even as an errand boy.

So they keep watching, trying to find some kind of an opening.

It comes unexpectedly.

Raven leaves the house for one of her morning walks, and leave the front door wide open behind her.

As she turns the corner of the house, Charles stands abruptly.

“What are you doing?” Erik hisses.

Charles looks at him with wide eyes. “Now’s our chance!”

“What?” Erik knows he’s gaping. “There could be someone right inside the door.”

“Maybe, maybe not,” Charles says, body tense. “Erik, we’ve been watching the house for days. I can’t stand it anymore. You can stay or go.”

Erik sighs, hauling himself to his feet. “You know I’m not going to let you go alone,” he grumbles. “But we have to be quick.”

Charles grins triumphantly and starts off across the lawn. Erik darts after him, moving more cautiously, eyes peeled for any sign of life. He’s the one who would be caught, after all.

When they get to the door, Erik pauses just outside, pressing himself against the wall of the house. “Look in and make sure no one’s there.”

Charles nods, creeping forward into what was once his home. Erik keeps his eyes on the far corner of the house, watching for Raven’s slim figure.

“It’s all clear,” Charles calls.

He takes a deep breath and forces himself to follow Charles’ voice, through the dark doorway.

Inside, the house is even more imposing than from the outside. Its high ceilings, spanning far above Erik’s head, do nothing to dispel the gloom of the place, dark and crowded with antiquities. He pauses next to a monstrous vase, nearly as tall as he is, painted with strange figures.

“Erik!” Charles calls, and he sees him, peering over the banister of the wide, sweeping staircase. “Come on, I think the bedrooms must be upstairs.”

It’s a fair guess, and Erik hurries to follow him, ignoring the voice of reason in the back of his mind telling him the further inside he goes, the more likely he is to get caught.

They creep up the stairs, their steps silenced by the plush rug beneath their feet. Its intricate burgundy and gold pattern seems to swim beneath his feet as Erik fights his own nerves.

He’s breaking and entering. He could get arrested.

Shaw and Emma would definitely get rid of him if that happened.

He sighs, and sticks close to Charles.

The hallway of the second floor seems to go on forever, lined with door after door after door.

“How are we ever going to find the right room?” Erik whispers.

“Look in all of them?”

“We can’t do that. There could be someone inside,” Erik hisses.

Charles frowns and then steps up to the first door, pressing his ear against the heavy wood. After a moment he steps away and moves further down the hall.

Erik has to hurry after him. “What are you doing?”

“Shh,” Charles says, ear pressed to the next door.

They go on like that, door after door, until Charles pauses, his brow creasing as he leans even closer to the dark wood of the door.

“I think…” he says, frowning.

Erik leans in, pressing his own ear close. At first he can’t hear anything, and he wonders if the thick wood of the doors is muffling any sound from within. But then, after a moment, he hears a small beep. “What is that?”

Charles looks up at him with wide, serious eyes. “Medical equipment.”

The reality of it presses down on Erik, heavy and oppressive. Charles’ hand rests on the brass knob, unmoving.

“We don’t have to,” Erik whispers.

Charles takes a deep breath, steeling himself. “Yes we do,” he says, and pushes the door open.

The room is, mercifully, empty…except for the still figure in the bed.

It’s a large and ostentatious room, but the drapes and rug and fireplace are drowned out by the equipment crowding every surface and corner. In the middle of the four-poster bed lies an impossibly small figure, with tubes and sensors attached to seemingly every bit of exposed skin. A machine next to him emits a steady beep beep.

“Heart monitor,” Charles says faintly, stepping forward.

It’s the only thing that indicates the figure is actually alive. The boy in the bed is so still, so silent, that Erik feels like he’s looking at death itself.

He comes to stand beside Charles, looking down at his twin on the bed.

Except that the boy at his side is full of vitality, flushed with color and beautifully alive.

The Charles is the bed is pale and thin, the shape of his body strangely small and frail under the sheet that drapes him. Erik thinks of the way the muscles in Charles’ legs coil when he runs, the way he glistens with sweat as he flies past Erik, laughing breathlessly at the exertion.

It doesn’t look like this boy has ever run.

Charles sits down heavily on the side of the bed, staring into his double’s face, searching.

For what, Erik isn’t sure.

“Look at him. Me,” he says softly. After a moment, he frowns. “Where are all my freckles?”

Erik stares down at the sleeping boy’s face. A lifetime behind drawn curtains has left his skin white and unblemished.

Not that he’s ever thought of Charles’ freckles as a blemish. The light dusting of them of them on his nose and his shoulders always makes Erik want to kiss them, to press his mouth against those tiny spots that humanize the boy’s beauty.

“Charles, I think we should go.”

Erik wants to be out of this room, out of this house, and far away from this reminder of the fact that Charles is fully human and completely vulnerable. This reminder of the hurt that has been inflicted upon him.

“We can’t go.” Charles looks up at him plaintively. “Look how lonely I am.”

“You’re not, though.” Erik reaches out for him, taking his hand. “You have me, no matter what.”

“Even though I really look like that?” Charles’ gaze falls back on his own pale face.

“Even then,” Erik assures him, although he is privately happy to have the sunny, bright, and most importantly awake Charles who has been with him his whole life.

“I feel so sorry for him,” Charles says. He reaches out, laying his free hand against his own cheek tenderly.

Something tugs roughly in Erik’s chest, thumping violently against his rib cage, and the hand entwined with his disappears.

“Charles!” Erik yelps.

But he’s gone.

Erik leaps up from the bed, looking around wildly.

Charles—his Charles—is nowhere to be seen.

The one in the bed sleeps on, the silence of the room interrupted only by the steady beeps of the machinery.

Erik draws back sharply, looking around wildly. “Charles!” he yells, desperately.

How could he just disappear?

And then the equipment goes wild, whirring and beeping all around him.

Erik knows he should run, but he can’t leave without Charles.

“Charles,” he whispers brokenly.

“E—Erik?” the word comes out brittle and harsh. The croaky, craggy voice is not one Erik knows. And yet, he turns with disbelieving eyes towards the bed, where Charles Xavier is blinking open his eyes.

They are the same person and yet not the same person, and Erik’s steps are hesitant as he makes his way over to the bed.

“You’re awake?”

“Erik,” this Charles sighs and he can see recognition in his eyes. “I’m home.”

It’s his Charles—he can see that, shining in his big blue eyes. He doesn’t know how or why, but Charles is back in his own body, awake for the first time in ten years.

Erik reaches down for his hand, desperate to touch, to make sure he is real.

The bedroom door bursts open.

“What on earth—who are you?” A woman barks.

Erik jumps back, spinning to see an angry older woman in a nurse’s uniform.

“You leave that boy alone,” she snarls, advancing into the room. “Did you touch this equipment?”

“No!” Erik insists.

“Then why is it—oh my god.”

Her eyes fall on Charles for the first time and she stops dead, staring. Charles stares back.

“You—you’re awake.”

After a moment she pulls herself together, straightening up purposefully. She presses a button on the nearest machine that quiets its insistent beeps. “Neural monitoring,” she says to Erik, as if the words mean anything to him. “And here I thought it was malfunctioning,” she chuckles with a shake of her head.

She seems to have forgotten that he’s not meant to be there, as she launches herself into her medical duties. She reaches over and presses a button on the wall above Charles’ head, before beginning to handle him carefully.

“Mr. Charles,” she says. “I don’t want you to be alarmed, but you’ve been asleep for a long time.”

“I know,” Charles croaks.

Her eyebrows rise. “You do?”

Erik hovers behind her anxiously. He wants her gone; he wants a moment with Charles, to talk to him, to assure him that the boy is fine, back in this body. The fact that this woman can see him, can touch him is unsettling, no matter how much Erik has wished for it in the past.

Now he just wants things to go back to the way they were, so he can have Charles all to himself.

Charles looks weak and pale and small under this strange woman’s firm hands, and Erik doesn’t know what to do. Charles rolls his head on the pillow, slowly as if it takes all the strength in his body, and meets Erik’s eyes. After a moment, he gives him a small smile, just a quirk of his red lips.

Erik smiles back.

“Agnes, what is the meaning of—“ The woman stops dead in the doorway, her hand coming up to her throat.

“Mama?” Charles says after a moment, the word strangely babyish. A word he hadn’t uttered for over ten years.

“Charles? Oh, my baby!” She flings herself forward, past Erik without so much as looking his way.

She curls over Charles, blocking the nurse’s touch, weeping so hard her thin shoulders shake.

“Sharon?” A deep voice asks, and Erik turns dazed eyes on the doorway, to see the family picture completed. A man with a neat, dark beard stands uncertainly just inside the room, Raven at his side. She’s very pretty, Erik notes, although not as beautiful as her brother.

“Has something happened to Charles?” the girl asks, her voice catching.

“Yes, Miss,” Agnes answers in her employer’s stead. Sharon is still bent over Charles, holding him as tightly as Erik wishes he could. “Mr. Charles has woken up.”

“What?” the man blinks, stepping forward. “Surely…”

But then Sharon draws back, and Charles sees his family for the first time in a decade.

And they see him.

There is more weeping—from everyone, really—and hugging, and crowding around the bed, and through it all Erik stands still as a statue, knowing that he doesn’t belong.

Finally, he makes himself move, while their backs are still turned, before anyone can ask who the strange boy is, in their home, in their sick son’s bedroom.

Erik creeps to the door, sparing one last glance over his shoulder at the happy family group.

They are all so elated to have Charles back—it’s everything the boy has ever wanted, and Erik forces himself to be happy for Charles.

They will need time, he knows. He suspects that Charles will need to see a doctor—the sheer amount of medical equipment in the room tells Erik that Charles won’t be leaping out of bed and running after him for quite awhile. And then Charles will explain everything to his family.

He’s better with words than Erik, anyway, always has been, so Erik doesn’t feel bad leaving the task to Charles.

He lets himself out the front door, and tries to calculate how long it will be before he hears from the boy. Days, maybe.

It’s a long time, but Erik doesn’t mind. He’s waited ten years to walk down Main Street hand in hand with Charles, and know everyone is looking. He’s waited a decade to introduce Charles to Shaw and Emma, and prove once and for all that he isn’t crazy.

He pictures being with Charles now, knowing that he’s real; everyone will know that he exists, and that he’s Erik’s. A grin blossoms over his face.

He’s waited his whole life for Charles. He doesn’t mind waiting a few more days for the boy to call.

Except…Charles’ call never comes.

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