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Dear Charles

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Dear Charles,

If I have said it once, then surely I have said it one thousand times. You were the best of us, Charles Xavier. You still are, you never stopped, and you always will be. The world will never take that from me. It can take you, but it cannot take my memories of you, my friend. Those I will always have. I hope you have them: memories of me (oh, but only some of them, we could both to well to forget others). Memories of birth and death, of joy and sorrow, of peace and war, memories about being human, and less than human, and sometimes, more than human. I would rather you not have the bad ones, my friend, but they are a part of being alive, so we must deal with them to be human, or whatever we are. Or, at least, I must.

If you were here, you would ask me what I want. Perhaps a lesser me, a younger me, would have asked you to strip away the bad memories and perhaps replace them, but I am not anymore the same man who would have thought those things. (Memories, experiences, make us who we are, Charles.) You know that, of course. You know everything about me. If you were here beside me, and you were to ask me what it is the deepest reaches of my heart desired, I would not be able to tell you, because if you were beside me asking, I would have my current wish. You would be there, my friend, and now, that is all I need. I am not saying that I believe in an Afterlife, a palace in the clouds, but if you are Somewhere, my friend, and have not simply ceased to exist everywhere except for in my memories, asking me what I want, I will tell you now. I want you here, and whole, beside me. (I will be alright with you just alive and by my side.)

But you knew that already, didn't you? (Of course you did. You know everything about me.)

If I regret anything about knowing you, Charles, it is not that I knew you. It is that of the time we spent in each other's company, even when we were separate, we fought. I regret some of my choices, my friend, but not all of them, and I certainly do not regret the choice that you made for me. (I will stand firm, my dear friend, on the principle that mutants deserve better. Most especially you, Charles. You deserve so, so much better than you got.)

When I see the ocean, Charles, I recall you. I recall when we first met. You pulled me from the depths and convinced me to give up my poisonous dream. I asked you what you knew about me, and you already knew so much. You saved me. Sometimes, though, my dearest friend, if perhaps you should not have. I wonder if you should have left me to sink until I could sink no more, to sink until water filled my lungs and there was nothing. I wonder if you sometimes think that, and then I remember who I am thinking about, and I know that you never for a second doubted. No matter for your regrets, I thank you for it. If you had not, I never would have known you. If you had not, time would have directed you down some other road, and perhaps many other events would never have occurred, but this isn't a science-fiction novel. This is a letter.

Some people will say that you were a great man, Charles. I would have to disagree with these individuals. You were – and still are – a good man, and good men are so much more. Great men are not hard to find. It is possible that you run across them fairly frequently, my friend. Their deeds are not hidden. Their deeds are proclaimed in song and in fable alike. Great men like to be recognized. They like to be thanked for their deeds. Many, many stories are told of great men. Good men, on the other hand, are harder to find. They do not perform their heroic deeds for the recognition, but they perform them purely for the good of others. They do not want to simply complete the task they are set, but they want to save as many men as they can doing it. Good men have songs, and they have tales, yes, but not as many as they deserve.

I believe an author called Terry Pratchett once said that if you must stare down the shaft of an arrow – I suppose the barrel of a gun or the blade of a sword is the same way – from the wrong side, that if a man has you at his mercy, than you are to hope like hell that it is an evil man who has you. They like power, the man says. They want to see your fear, and they want you to know that you are going to die. So, then, they speak to you. They talk, and they gloat, and they watch you squirm under their gaze and their weapon. (The possibility exists that they are one and the same.) I believe, Charles, that some of those characteristics apply to great men, too, not just evil ones. It is possible, very possible, that great men and evil men have more in common than they thought.

You are neither, Charles. You are a good one. As Mr. Pratchett says, you are to hope that your captor is an evil man for a good man will kill you with hardly a word. (I am uncertain on this aspect, Charles, but if it was for the greater good, if it were for someone else, I believe that you might.)

You deserve tales. You deserve songs. You deserve more than I and the world combined could ever give you, and you settled for so much less. Myself, your students, your house, your life. You should never have had to settle.

You are truly a good man.

Good-bye, my old friend, and good-night.

-Erik M. Lehnsherr