Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Charles, mild Charles/Erik, several other X-Men cameos
Warning(s): Cannon Character Death, Spoilers
Word Count: 1,507
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
The house is quiet as he passes through walls, checking on his students. Scott and Jean are nestled together as they always should have been, and although Logan's brooding, he is at least with their family. Snow falls quietly on the school and its grounds, ensuring the perfect Christmas morning to follow the evening. Ororo walks quietly through the dormitories, ensuring all are asleep as they should be, while Kurt bamfs from stocking to stocking, filling each with surprises. Charles smiles as he watches the blue Elf, thinking how lucky they are to have him as one of their own rather than an actual Elf from the North Pole.
He watches as Jubilee rises and pauses, cocking her head slightly to one side as she considers the subtle shift of the atmosphere in her room. He had expected Logan to notice the difference, not Jubilee, but the girl has learned a lot since being turned. Nonetheless, she eventually seems to disregard the changes as she pads over to Shogo's cradle and watches the baby sleep.
She's grown a lot in the last few years since Charles has been gone. They all have. He's only grateful that they've finally come together again as a family, even if there are many of their number still missing. They've lost far too many, but it does his old heart good to see that there are still people believing in and fighting for his dream. There are still X-Men choosing to pledge their whole beings to a world where mutants are no longer feared and can live side by side with humanity. It's funny, he thinks, how that word is supposed to mean such goodness but it is people's very humanity that makes them fear what they do not understand lash out at such, especially his kind.
He shivers at the sight of ice in the next room. He doesn't actually feel temperatures these nights, but there's so much on the floor and ceiling, and on the walls too, that it's subconscious for him to shiver. Hank clearly isn't cold, however, with his great, big, and hairy arms curled tightly around the X-Men and a huge grin plastered on his face. Charles hesitates, watching that grin for a moment and Bobby's matching one and wondering about what his boys are dreaming.
But then he reminds himself that that doesn't really matter -- all that matters is that they're happy -- and moves on again. This time, he finds himself in Kitty's room. He surveys her with kindness until she starts to toss and turn, murmuring in her sleep about Lockheed and the Peters who are never far from her thoughts. The girl was one of the youngest people to ever truly challenge him, and yet here she is now, crying out in her sleep and as easily comforted as Charles reaches out and places a discarded toy in her arms. Kitty stops squirming with a little smile curving her now peaceful face, murmurs Lockheed's name once more, and continues to dream better dreams or so Charles hopes.
Room by room, he checks in on each of his students. Rogue's up late reading. Bishop's cleaning his guns while Rictor tries to coax Shatterstar out of his meditation with hot chocolate and the promise of kisses to come. Remy's got his door carefully locked while he wraps a very special present for his lady before tucking it into a new pair of gloves for her. Rachel and Cable share a moment in the kitchen with a late night snack of the cookies Jean made and the last glasses of milk in the mansion. It's sure to raise a ruckus in the morning, but neither lets it bother them tonight. They're far too busy reconnecting, which, Charles thinks fondly, is exactly what Christmas is about.
He finds Erik in a room that's been closed off for months. His love stands in the dark, pouring two glasses of eggnog by the light of a single, white candle. Charles watches as Erik caps the eggnog, then raises the matching glasses. "Here's to you, Charles, and to your triumphant return."
Charles is both warmed and saddened by the honor as he watches Erik drink the eggnog alone. His students have given up on his return, but there's a part of his beloved that, although they spent far more time fighting than loving while he was still among the living, refuses to give up on his return. Charles wishes it was that easy. If he could will himself into being alive again, he would gladly stand there beside Erik, take him in his arms, and ravish him gently, proclaiming his undying love for him again and again underneath the mistletoe.
But such is not to be even on this magical night. He is dead, his body long destroyed, but his spirit can still walk the realms and visit his family. He leans in close to Erik, but his lips pass right through the tired, old, but still handsome man's cheek. He will kiss him again one day, he swears, but he'll never return to them. He is simply not able to return this time, but he also will never stop counting the sunrises until Erik and his students are all back with them -- not that he wishes them to hurry. He misses them, but he wants them to take their time in this world and enjoy everything it has to offer.
His heart tonight is full of love and happiness for he sees what this year has brought them. All who remain in the school are another year older, but some have much to show for it. Scott and Jean and Bobby and Hank are all back where they belong. Remy is determined to make his love seen, and Logan, though he's brooding, is no longer running. His children have grown so much and come so much closer to being happy. Some of them, this year, actually are very happy indeed. He misses them, but all in all, he couldn't be happier for them.
Charles watches over his family as the hours while away. He sees Rogue fall asleep while still reading and gently blows the switch on her light until it flicks off. He sees Remy carefully select just the right place underneath the Christmas tree for his most important present to be given tomorrow before retiring for the night. He sees Kurt, Rachel, Cable, and even finally Erik all retire for the evening. Wolverine is the last to go, and even then not without making a final walk through the school and making sure all is well.
"But it is, Logan," Charles whispers though he can not be heard. "It is all finally well." For a little while, his family has everything they need, and Charles' heart is full of love. It can't last. Tomorrow and especially the new year will bring new dangers, new lives to save, and the continuation of the war that never seems to end between mutantkind and humanity. Tomorrow, the war will continue, but for tonight, everything is well. Every one who can be is home, and his family is complete.
Logan slaps his switch off, and Charles prepares to leave. Wolverine's gruff voice stops him in the dark. "Night, Charles."
Charles smiles with a mist shining in his old, blue eyes. "Good night, my friend," he wishes him solemnly though he knows Logan can not hear him -- even if he did smell him. "Sleep well, my children. Merry Christmas to all, -- " His lips twist with irony as he remembers Leech stumbling over the words of the story so dear to his heart just a few years ago. He wonders, for just a moment, if it really has been that long, but he knows it has and it will be longer still before his family are all reunited on the same realm. " -- and to all, a good night."
He soars above his family, taking his place as the patriarch of them all, and from the Heavens, looks down upon them again and smiles. He'll watch them all tonight and not just any night but every night. "Good night, my children. I love you all." Underneath the light of the stars, he watches his children smile almost as though they can hear him. He sees Erik's hand cup around the space in the bed where he should be. Tears mist in his eyes, but his smile remains. "One day soon," he vows, "we'll be together again. We'll share a merry Christmas together again, but always and forever, my love, I'm right here."
Charles smiles through his tears as he watches Erik's weary face lift into a happy, peaceful smile. "Charles," he whispers and dreams of the day that has been promised. It's another Christmas spent apart but together, but Charles knows one day they'll have an eternity of Christmases to spend together. He knows. He holds to that truth, and he loves him, and his students, forever.