Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Magneto/Professor X, teen!Jean
Challenge/Prompt: slashthedrabble 451: Hindsight
Warning(s): Spoilers, Cannon Character Death
Word Count: 500
Date Written: 30 June 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Disney and Marvel Comics, not the author, and are used without permission.
"Jean?" he calls her back as she starts to walk away for the night.
She stops but doesn't turn back, feeling guilty. These clandestine meetings have got to stop. She's keeping secrets from her team, and although Erik has good reason not to want everyone to know how badly he hurts, she still doesn't want to hurt her friends by hiding in the shadows with him. They have a right to know why she's chosen to side with him and why her heart aches in compassion for him, but Erik has a right to protect his secrets. The truth hurts, and there are so many ways that these truths he's shared with her could return to hurt him.
"I want to ask one thing of you."
"Just one?" she retorts, bristling slightly. He asks so much of her. She leads her friends into dangers seemingly every day, and there's a part of her that thinks keeping secrets from them is no better than lying to him. She was perhaps a better person when she read others' minds without their permission, and there isn't a day that goes by that she doesn't regret those actions.
His lips twist into a wry, self-depreciating smirk. "I know I ask a lot, and I'm sorry I must," he speaks truthfully, "but of all the things I ask, one I would like to ask more than any other."
She turns back, at last, to look at him, her curiosity piqued. There are unshed tears in his eyes, but she speaks those tears glitter every night as he speaks forlornly of the Professor. "Do not choose the wrong dream, my dear."
Her head cocks to one side. It's clear she's not understanding.
"You see," he explains with a gentle calm, "in hindsight, I have come to realize that that was my greatest error. It wasn't that Charles' dream was any better than mine in the beginning or any more sensible. The dream I should have followed wasn't about our people at all. It was about us, and only us. I should not have allowed myself to deter from it. If I had not, perhaps Charles would still be here, and if he was, if we had worked together, perhaps his dream would have been made a reality long ago. So many who died might have lived."
"He might have lived," Jean whispers, understanding. "But if wishes were horses -- " she begins, remembering a line Hank has often quoted.
" -- beggars would ride," he finishes for her and turns away, but not before she sees one lone tear escape his careful control and slide down his wrinkled face. She steps to his side before she can stop herself and wraps her arms tightly around him. This, she thinks, is the very reason why she can't tell her friends, at least not yet. That decision has to be Erik's, but when he's ready to make it, she'll stand beside him just as she's doing now, just as she does every night.