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Still Learning

Title: Still Learning
Author: Kat Lee
Dedicated To: kitmerlot1213 as a reward for fulfilling their 1_million_words Monster Bash 2017 Challenge
Fandom: X-Men
Character/Pairing: Charles/Erik
Rating: PG-13/T
Warning(s): Cannon Character Death, Spoilers
Word Count: 2,015
Date Written: 1 November 2017
Summary:
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.





“You didn’t come this year.” His voice is quiet and carefully unassuming.

The great Master of Magnetism bolts up and swings his long legs immediately over the side of his bed, ignoring the pinch of his nerves and old bones as he does so. His eyes stare across the distance into the baby blues of the one man he’s ever truly loved. “No,” he admits, “I could not.” A smile chases over his face. “I knew you would find me,” he says, almost crying out the admission, though he had wondered if Charles would try to find him. If he tried, he’d known he would find him, but he had doubted he would.

Charles smiles, and all the kindness Erik has ever experienced seems to be in that one brilliant smile that chases away the shadows even on this dark, Halloween night. “Of course I would try, Erik,” he reassures him, swiftly floating across the distance that remains between them. “I will always find you.” He opens his arms to him, and Erik rushes into them.

There are tears already in the former villains’ eyes as they embrace. He closes his eyes against them. “I’m sorry I didn’t come,” he whispers into Charles’ ear. Apologies come so much easier to them both now. “I should have.”

“No,” Charles says, stroking his white hair. “I understand why you did not leave your base tonight, why you so rarely leave it these days. You made a promise to us both, Erik.”

Erik’s head nods against Charles’. “Yes,” he whispers, “I did. I promised I would stop interfering, stop trying to conquer this world with my ways that have never worked, so that I would be here for these children, Charles, for your children.”

Charles hugs him more tightly. “They are both our children now, Erik, as they always should have been, as they could have been if only -- “ He almost says the words, but he stops himself just in time. If only his beloved Erik had seen the error of his eyes before Charles’ own death, things could have been so much different, and so much better, for them all.

They should have led the X-Men together. That’s why he was never able to achieve his dream while he still helmed the team. He had been fighting for a dream over which his heart had been torn because whereas he’d always believed that it was possible for humans and mutants to live together peacefully, he had also always longed for Erik to be a part of his dream. Now he is, but now Charles can manifest only once a year when he doesn’t have the dreaded Shadow King to help -- and that had been a precarious situation at best.

“I know,” Erik says, nodding again. “I know.” He nuzzles Charles’ neck, hiding his tears from the world against his lover’s cheek though they are the only two present to see them.

“But we are not here to discuss the ‘could have been’s,” Charles whispers.

“No,” Erik agrees. Stepping back, he wipes the tears from his face and looks up at Charles again. He smiles at him, though tears still glisten in his faded, blue eyes. “We only get to be together once a year now. I’m not about to waste it on the past.”

“Agreed,” Charles says, smiling, “but I want you to know I watch you every day, Erik. I see how you’ve helped these children, how you are forging them to be the people I eventually failed to help them stay. They are learning to trust you, and they will learn to love you as I did. Jean, I suspect, already has.”

Erik shakes his head in disbelief. “Charles, whatever you think you are reading on that girl’s mind -- “ he starts.

“It’s not just her mind I’m reading,” Charles admits. “I sometimes peer over her shoulder and read the words she writes in her diary.”

“Charles!”

Charles shrugs. “Being dead must come with a few benefits, like when I watch over you at night.” He chuckles.

Erik’s face alights with recognition. “Are you the reason I dreamed . . . that dream all night the other night?”

Charles grins out right. “Guilty as charged.”

Erik sighs, but then he cries, “Ah, Charles! What fools we were when we were younger! We wasted so much time! When I think of the times I tried to kill you -- “

“I did worse,” Charles interrupts him. “When I wiped your mind, that was the beginning of the end. I let myself go too far, and I never fully forgave myself.”

“I know,” Erik whispers, “but I forgave you long ago. You did the only thing you could to save Logan’s life. He was a good man. I just could not see him as anything more than an annoying gnat at the time.”

Charles laughs. “He was an annoying gnat,” he admits, “but he was also a good man.” He sighs, and a distant look seems to overcome his eyes. “We have lost so many good men and women, and children too . . . “

“Not lost.” Erik shakes his head. “They are not lost to us.”

“Yes, they are, my dear, for now.”

“I would have thought for certain you would have seen them -- “

“A few, yes, but I have yet to encounter Logan. Scott left me after I was able to forgive him in this place between worlds.”

“You mean . . . You haven’t been . . . “ Erik hesitates. The concept of a true Paradise for the dead like Heaven is something with which he still often has trouble coming to terms. “You haven’t been home?” he asks in surprise.

“I have been home,” Charles is quick to answer. “You are not the only one who haunts these lonely hallways, dearest.”

“I do not understand . . . “

“Of course you do.” Charles smiles patiently. He lifts Erik’s hands in his and squeezes them gently before kissing the back of each one in turn. “My home is with you, Erik. Rather alive or dead, you are my home, my destiny. You may not always see me, but I am never far. I hear you talk to me, you know, when you’re frustrated, when you miss me the most, on our important days. I hear you whenever you speak my name or cry it out as you did the other night.” His smile turns sly.

“Charles!” Erik cries. There’s so much he wants to say, but he simply doesn’t have the words to voice everything he’s feeling in this moment. He embraces him again and holds him tightly against him for a long while before he finally releases him just a little and whispers against his ear, “You have not been to Heaven . . . because of me?”

“Because of you,” Charles agrees, gazing steadfastly into his eyes, “and because I choose to wait for you.” He strokes Erik’s hair, cups his face, and kisses him. “I will always wait for you. Our lives, our souls, are entwined, and when we leave this world for good, we will go together or not at all.”

“But what if -- “

“That is not a concern,” Charles says firmly, shaking his head. “You have earned your place in Heaven, Erik. You’ve regretted your wrong doings. You’ve sought forgiveness for your misdeeds. You’re doing all you can now in what time you have left in this life to make things right for us both. And I am beside you every day, rather you know it or not.”

Tears begin to trickle down Erik’s wrinkled face. “Charles,” he whispers, his voice cracking.

“Sh,” Charles whispers, brushing his lips over his in a tender kiss. “Sh, my love! We have not much time left this night! I fear my time with the Shadow King cost us several hours, but for now, shall we not try to make up for at least a little of the time we have lost?”

“Always,” Erik says, smiling through his tears. His arms still around Charles’, he begins to sway. They have danced together every night since Charles passed away -- Erik chooses to think of his cherished beloved’s demise in that manner tonight rather than dwell on the fact that Charles’ first, and one of his most loved, students killed him. If Charles can forgive Scott for ending his life, after all, surely Erik can find the strength to do the same. As much as it pains him, he’s learned that Charles is almost always right. He’s almost always taken the right path, even if, in the end, the results were not those desired.

“That’s it!” Charles exclaims approvingly, smiling once more. “Dance with me, my love! Let us sway these precious hours away together in each other’s arms, and while we’re at it,” he leans close, his smiling turning devious once more, “perhaps we can manifest a little of that dream we shared the other night?”

“I would like that, Charles,” Erik breathes, his smile growing. He spins him around and dips him into his bed, the bed that should, as so many things should, be theirs instead of his. “I would like that very much. Happy Halloween, my darling!” He doesn’t tell him he loves him, but he shows him instead with every touch, every caress, every kiss, and every motion his old body makes against Charles’ whose form is solid, yet again, for one magical night only this year. Perhaps next year he will finally be freed from this world and they won’t have to wait until Halloween to share this manifestation of their love.

“No,” Charles whispers, kissing him and softly brushing his hair, “not next year or the year after. The kids aren’t ready to be on their own yet. They still need you.”

And I, Erik wants to cry, need you, Charles!!

“And you have me, my darling, always and forever! Even when you can not see me, or hear me, I remain always yours and always with you, my love! I love you!” Erik lets Charles lead their lovemaking, but his heart sings only until the next morning when he’s again faced with angry teenagers.

Scott shoves his chair away from the breakfast table and stands. “Very well,” Erik tells him, his fingers curling by his side. Suddenly, he feels a little pressure that isn’t his doing against the gloved palm of his hand, and he remembers what Charles said: He is never alone. Even now, standing before the children, looking as though he stands alone, he is not alone. Erik smiles. “Have your training session against me, Cyclops, but then after lunch, we will have the real training you need, the training your Professor would want you to have.”

“How do you know what the Professor would want?!“ Scott demands, flushing with anger.

Jean lays her spoon down with a loud Clink. Everybody turns to look at her. Bobby’s mouth is still wide open and full of cereal and milk. “Because,” she answers knowingly, looking at Scott and urging him, with her fierce, green-eyed glare, to hush, “he does.” Scott, I know you don’t believe me, she thinks to him, but Magneto knows the Professor as well as we know each other.

Scott glares at her, but he doesn’t argue. He just stomps out of the kitchen and yells back to the others to get ready for their training session that was moved to this morning because of last night’s impromptu mission. Jean turns to look up at Magneto. “He’ll learn,” she whispers as the others file out.

“Thank you, Miss Grey. I can fight my own battles, however.” Yet, when Erik turns away from the flame-haired teenager, a secret smile lights his old face. Scott isn’t the only one learning. After all these years, he’s still learning, too, and if he cups his hand as though he’s holding to somebody else’s, none of the teenagers, not even Jean Grey, notices. But they do hear him hum an old waltzing tune and wonder, as he all but floats pass them, why the great Master of Magnetism is smiling this time!


The End

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
kitmerlot1213
Nov. 9th, 2017 02:16 am (UTC)
This was wonderfully sweet and poignant--lovely work :)
oberons_earring
Nov. 11th, 2017 08:04 pm (UTC)
another sweet story! thank you again :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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