In the city of Chicago, the streets were buzzing with life. If you crossed the road without carefully looking, you’d be lucky not to get hit by a car. In some places, street lamps flickered on. Men in their suits and women in their dresses littered the streets, their heads down, knowing exactly where they were going. The hum of vehicles and the shrill ringing of shop doorbells made up for the lack of conversation on the sidewalks.
One man walked these streets with his head held higher than those he walked past. To any of you, perhaps he would seem like a newcomer in the city, not knowing where his destination was. In truth, he had been to the city before, but this time was different. This time, he was looking for someone he loved instead of someone he hated.
His eyes were trained and sharp, looking for a sign of something familiar. Rather, someone familiar. Nobody knew the man in the leather jacket and the turtleneck jumper, but he knew them all by the metal they wore. He knew if they were out for a day of fun, if they were workers, or if they carried knives or guns.
He was looking for a particular set of blue eyes that he would always know, even from the other end of a street. He looked left and right as people passed him, looking. Always looking.
He felt for the hum of a familiar piece of metal – perhaps the watch, the chain he wore around his neck, or the gun that killed Sebastian Shaw.
He absentmindedly played with a coin in his pocket. He knew what the chain was now. He could never quite figure it out before, but now he knew that the chain held the dog tags that men were given when they joined the army. He never would have guessed it was that.
Charles Xavier was more than the man Erik thought he knew, and he had to find him before he did something awful.
Erik pushed out with his powers, trying to find that place between rage and serenity. He thought of his mother, and he thought of Charles. They were both the serenity to his rage, and he needed them both.
But now he just needed to find Charles.
He latched onto something: a handgun that seemed familiar, and he tried to follow where it was going. It was in front of him, hidden in the crowd of people. He started walking a little faster, weaving in and out of the people. He tried to catch sight of him, but he was still hidden.
How long had they been walking in the same direction? Erik didn’t know, but he kicked himself for not seeing him earlier.
He kept following him, unsure as to whether he should confront him in public or not. So he watched Charles jaywalk across the busy streets to an apartment building, where he slipped inside. Charles didn’t look like Charles – what with the simple pants, working boots and leather jacket, but it was undeniably him. It had to be. So Erik crossed the street and entered the building after him.
He followed the hum of the metal up the stairs to an apartment with a rickety door. He tried the handle, not surprised when he found it locked. He undid the lock as quietly as he could, and silently slipped inside.
He followed the sound of the beautiful voice he’d missed over the past few days. He felt like he would have gone insane without Charles there. In the past, he might have called himself weak at how quickly he’d become attached. Instead, he did what Charles would do: called himself strong for finding the courage to love someone.
Charles sounded like he was talking to someone, but nobody was replying. “You told me I knew how to fix it,” Charles was saying. “She did too, actually. But you were telling me different things, weren’t you?” He sighed. “I’m sorry I didn’t see it back then. And I’m sorry I can’t listen to you now, but she’s right.”
Erik now stood beside the doorway, listening to Charles talk. His heart was racing.
“I’m sorry I can’t listen to them, either. They only saw me kill one man. They don’t know what I’ve done.” His voice broke and he exhaled shakily. “They don’t know how many people I’ve really killed. I… I can’t tell them, I don’t want them to look at me that way. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look in a mirror again without… without seeing you, without seeing them.” Another pause. “Fox was right. Sloan was right. I’m so sorry.”
Erik felt the gun in Charles’s pocket move, and he heard the click of the safety and the slider.
“Well, father,” Charles said, sounding emotionless, “I guess I’ll see you in hell.”
Erik pushed himself off the wall and looked into the room, and he felt the gun’s excitement as the trigger was pulled.
“No!” Panicking, Erik flung his powers towards the gun. It crumpled in Charles’s grip, the bullet along with it. Charles jumped a little, but gave a little laugh.
“I should have known you’d follow me,” Charles said, and it sounded like he was supressing a sob. “You are quite a stubborn person.”
Erik felt a tiny spike of anger, but tried to push it down for Charles’s sake. He pulled the useless lump of metal away from Charles, dropping it at the same of the room. Charles offered up no resistance, and simply leaned against the window. “So are you,” Erik said, taking a few slow steps towards Charles. “Or, I thought you were.”
Charles huffed. There was a strange silence as Erik moved to stand next to Charles. Charles looked out of the window into the apartment opposite, and Erik studied Charles. His eyes were bloodshot and there were dark circles under them, and he looked like he hadn’t eaten in the time since they’d seen each other last.
“This was my father’s apartment,” Charles said suddenly. “I used to live in that one there.” He gestured to the apartment he was looking into. “I lived there with my bitch of a girlfriend who used my anxiety as an excuse to cheat on me with my best friend.” He took a deep breath. “That was one of the many reasons I was glad that Fox and the Fraternity found me.”
Erik didn’t know what to do, but it didn’t seem like Charles was expecting him to.
“Raven didn’t know that I killed my father,” Charles said, and he shivered. “I didn’t know I did until he was dead. She knew everything else after I projected a nightmare one night, but I didn’t tell her about killing my father. She didn’t deserve to be burdened with that. Besides, I was scared that she’d abandon me, disown me as her brother.
“And on that ship… you’d think someone like me, a telepath, would think. But having that gun in my hand… it was like I had nothing else. It became my first instinct, and telepathy became my last.
“There’s no hope for me anymore,” Charles continued. “I can never go back to being the Charles that you knew. You’ve already learned things that I never wanted to think about again.”
“I don’t want you to go back to being that Charles,” Erik said, and Charles finally looked up at him, surprise and confusion in his eyes. “I would never ask you to. You’d be lying to yourself and everyone around you, and I know you hate doing that.”
Charles gave a half-hearted smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “What are you doing here, Erik?” Charles asked.
Erik replied simply, “I came to bring you home.”
The smile fell from Charles’s face, and he stared at Erik.
Erik looked out of the window, preparing himself. “I was going to leave after I killed Shaw,” he said. “I wanted to prove that people like me, mutants, would always be superior to ordinary humans. I wanted, I planned to make them suffer like I had suffered because of what I could do. I truly hate humanity,” he reminded Charles. “I was a killer, a madman with nothing but pain and anger to carry him through. I… I was going to leave you.”
He took a deep, shaky breath. “But seeing you like that, it reminded me of myself. I saw you, in that moment when you held that gun to Shaw’s head, how you said you’d seen me: a tortured soul surviving on sheer anger alone.” He turned to Charles and put a hand to Charles’s cheek, making sure that Charles was looking at him. “I want to help you, Charles,” he said. “I want to help you like you helped me. There is more to you than you know. There is more than just pain and anger. There is good in you, too.”
Repeating Charles’s words to him physically hurt, but Charles had to hear them. He had to hear that Erik saw those things in him.
A tear ran down Charles’s cheek, and Erik wiped it away with his thumb. “I don’t like what I am, what I can do,” Charles croaked. “I despise it. But without my telepathy… it’s all I have left.” He sounded distraught, so Erik pulled Charles close to his chest, burying his face in Charles’s hair and wrapping the other arm around Charles’s waist.
“You have me,” he promised. “Come home with me, Charles. Please.”
He felt Charles sob and clutch onto Erik’s jacket, and that nearly broke Erik.
“Please, Charles. I’m begging you. We can get through this together, I swear.”
There was a short pause.
But finally, Erik felt Charles nod against his chest. Erik sagged in relief, and ran his hands through Charles’s hair. “I swear to you, Charles Xavier, that for as long as I’m alive I will never leave you.”
Charles lifted his head and Erik looked down at him. “What makes you so sure of that?” Charles asked quietly.
Erik rested his hand on Charles’s neck and ran his thumb across his jaw. He licked his lips and said, “Because I love you, Charles.”
Charles was silent, and his eyes widened slightly. His hand went up to touch Erik’s, and a soft smile found its way onto both of their lips. Charles rested his head against Erik’s chest again and closed his eyes, and Erik gently kissed the top of his head.
“Everyone’s freaking out looking for you,” Erik mumbled into Charles’s hair.
Charles laughed. “I think you’re the only one that could have been able to convince me to come home,” he replied.
“I think I’m the only one that could have stopped that bullet.”
Charles looked up at him again. “Thank you,” he said.
Erik rested his forehead against Charles’s. “I love you, Charles,” he said softly, “mutant or otherwise.”
Charles smiled at him. “I love you too, Erik.”
Erik finally relaxed with a sigh of relief. He closed the distance between their lips and Charles met him halfway, clutching onto the front of Erik’s jacket like he was scared Erik would disappear. But now that this was happening, Erik knew that he wasn’t going anywhere.
He felt a strange surge of happiness on the edge of his mind that lovingly entwined with his own.
I love you, Erik, so much.
Erik smiled against the chaste kiss. I love you too, Charles.
Charles pulled away, staring at Erik with wide eyes. Erik smiled, and Charles laughed in disbelief.
And with the busy streets below the apartment and raindrops beginning to patter on the window, they laughed and they kissed and they swore to endure whatever the future held for them together.
Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. – Oscar Wilde