Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Charles, Jean, Scott, Ensemble, Hints of Charles/Erik and Scott/Jean
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words: August Rush: Days 3, 8, 10, and 12 - 15
Warning(s): Character Death
Word Count: 1,612
Date Written: 20 August 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
Sometimes, he dons Cerebro not to search for new mutants who may need him but rather to survey the world. It's a powerful feeling, making him feel as small as philosophers have said standing against the ocean makes a mortal, human being. He is mortal, but he is not human, and even the ocean is only a small part of the world.
After last night's events, this morning is one such dawn where he finds himself already plugged into the fascinating machine, his mind reaching out all across the globe. He feels the hunger in Africa and here in his own country. He feels the hatred fueled by prejudice, humans against mutants, blacks against whites, straights against homosexuals, Christians against Pagans, Americans against Muslins . . . There are always so many reasons to hate, but Charles chooses to take the high ground and focus instead on the reasons to fight.
He hears the laughter of a baby, sees a white hand holding a blue one, and wonders if the child will be a mutant or a human. He feels the embrace of couples across the globe. A man holding a man, a man holding a woman, a woman holding a woman, it matters not. Love comes in all forms, and he feels it in so many different embraces. There's not just the romantic bonds. There's the platonic of friends standing together against all sorts of threats, families who are as families as meant to be, and even two-leggers embracing and being embraced by those with fur and four legs.
But then he's shaken by the thousands of booted feet of soldiers marching to war. He hears people screaming in grief and pain, feels the lights of hundreds of eyes being shut out for their final times, senses the tears of a person who feels completely helpless and hopeless. And he himself wants to cry. He wants to cry out at the injustices of the world, and he wants to tell those who hate that life is too short to let hatred fuel them. He wants to cry out for peace, and for love, and to give hope to those who feel they have none.
And he remembers. He remembers that those are the reasons he first started his team. He also vividly recalls that he is not alone. Erik first started on his quest for mutant supremacy to give hope to their people and to preserve their species from being destroyed as the Jews almost were, as Erik's own parents were before his very eyes as a small boy, as his wife and child were . . . Charles understands his reasons even if he doesn't agree with his methods or what he feels to be the ideal solution.
There has to be a way, he thinks again, for them all to raise up above the hatred that spans the globe. There has to be a way to see people for their hearts not for what they are or who they choose to love. There still has to be a way for peace. But so many have given up.
Erik once sought peace as he did; now,he constantly remains ready for the war he feels inevitable. Charles feels Peter swinging through New York and knows he saves every life he can as Spiderman, but there's only so much one man can do. There's only so much any one person can do which is another reason why he brought his team together. And a reason why Raven, who he also senses, can not stay with them. She once hoped for peace, like he and Erik, but she no longer believes it can be found.
So many of them have given up. Charles himself is tempted, but he knows surrender is not the answer. If the X-Men surrender to the war between species that feels inevitable, who then is left to fight for peace? He knows the answer. He's been down this road before. Without the X-Men, there's no one left to fight for peace. Without the X-Men, there will be more death and dying, more young mutants, and humans too, slaughtered like the massacre the Friends of Humanity caused last night.
Charles' head throbs. Tears spring into his eyes. If only he could have sensed their need earlier yesterday! If only they could have reached them sooner! But they'd been away fighting one battle while the FoH had began their strike. By the time they'd found the group of young mutants who had found each other, it had been too late. Every one of them had been dead.
Rain beats down on the mansion as Charles lifts the helmet from his head. He knows Ororo, and several of his other students, are still grieving for the lives that were lost last night, and he knows, too, that their lives will not be the last lost to this endless war that, in truth, is already upon them and has been for a long time. Erik was wrong. War isn't coming; it's already here.
Charles closes his tired eyes and rubs his temples as the realization circles around his brilliant mind. The war they're fighting now wasn't begun by them or even in their lifetime. It began a long, long time ago, and the mutant versus human debate isn't the real war. It's only the latest battle in a war that spans eons.
Humans will always fear, fight, and persecute what they don't understand, Erik had said once. He wasn't entirely wrong. People in general, Charles knows, will always fight what they don't understand. They'll always fear what they do not comprehend, and those fears will always cause hatred. It's been that way since the dawn of time, but since the beginning, too, there have been people who have understood the world for what it was and have fought not simply to fight or tear down what they didn't like but to save the lives of others.
Charles grips the arms of his chair as he remembers again that that, more than anything else, is the reason why he formed the X-Men. The world needs them. The world, he fears, will always need them; he can only hope his team will last long after he's dead and gone. They'll always be needed, and if they succeed in saving only one life a day, then at least it is one life saved.
They can't save every one. It's been a hard lesson to learn, but he's finally learned to accept that fact. They can't change the whole world. They can't stop the hatred that smears the globe and life all across it. But they can stand together against it. They can save a life here and there, and they can change their little part of the world.
Charles opens his blue eyes at the sound of Jean's gentle voice calling to him. She and Scott, his oldest students and dearest friends, stand before him in search of direction.
Scott pushes his ruby quartz glasses up onto his nose. "What do we do now, sir?" he asks humbly.
"What we always do, Scott," Charles answers, and despite his own sorrow and the heartache he's felt reaching all across the world, he smiles. "We stand in the way of hatred. We continue our fight. We save who we can, and we never forget to love." His students nod at his sage advice, and Charles leads the way from Cerebro back into the light, and sight, of the world.
Thunder roars in protest. Rain pours down from skies as black as night, though it is day, as tears speed down a multitude of faces. A husband reaches for his wife's hand; Jean takes his hand and squeezes it in gently. Scott isn't speaking. He hasn't spoken a word through the whole service, which Kurt performed, but she feels the question pounding in his mind loud and clear through the bond they share, What do we do now?
Her throat is tight and dry from all her own tears, but she remembers. She's been remembering all day the lessons Charles taught them, but there's one more than all the others whose memory swells in her mind now. She tries to speak but finds she can't at first due to the emotions choking her throat. She licks her lips, clears her throat, squeezes his hand, and tries again. "We never forget," she whispers, "to love."
Together, they turn from the grave of the man who was like a father to them both. They nod to the elderly man who stands in the shadows. They look swiftly to their right upon hearing a growl. Jean reaches out, touches Logan's shoulder, and calms the angriest member of their team. "He has every right to be here," she whispers where only Logan and Scott can hear her. "He loved him, too."
Logan looks from Jean to Magneto and witnesses the ageless sorrow in his eyes. Finally, he sheathes his claws and nods. "For Chuck and Jeannie," he tells their oldest enemy and walks away.
It's Scott and Jean who lead the rest of their team back home. It's Scott and Jean who lead the X-Men into their next battle as well, but it's the X-Men together who remind the world again and again that hate doesn't have to be the answer. There is another way, a higher road, a better answer. Love still exists in the world, and it's love that fights the battles against hatred and still wins. It's love that Charles and his team always believed would win, and love that still fights today to save you and me.