Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: 1_million_words Say What Friday: "Life without friends means death without company." -- Basque proverb
Warning(s): Character Deaths, Future Fic, Spoilers
Word Count: 1,205
Date Written: 18 August 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
He thought he would be alone when this time came. By all rights, he should be. There is no one left in the land of the living, after all, who cares for him. His own children have nothing to do with him these days, having at last given up on trying to change him. Even the young X-Men, including Miss Grey who had felt a certain connection with him at one time, have moved on without him.
And yet, still, as the end draws near, Erik finds himself no longer alone. Voices crowd into his head, and he’s uncertain how much of what is said there belong to the spirits surrounding him and how much are his own thoughts. He is uncertain, in this moment, of everything, from his own lifespan to the sanity of his very mind, but one.
There is one voice that cuts through all the rest as smooth as a knife sliding through fresh butter and as rich as that fattening substance made back on the farms when they were children. It is wise and calm, deep and resonating, soothing and fulfilling. It brings tears to Erik’s eyes but also a smile to his old, tired lips. “Charles,” he fondly whispers his former lover’s name.
Charles had not been the only one to leave his mark on Erik’s life, but he had left the greatest mark. Other men and women had come and gone, and still Charles had remained, always in his heart. For years, no matter the distance that separated them, Erik had been able to reach out with his mind and feel the soothing reassurance of another mind connecting with his. Through all the time they had been friends, lovers, and enemies, he had never shared another connection as deep or meaningful as the one he shared with him.
He feels Charles’ smile rather than sees it. “Did you really think I would abandon you in your hour of need, my dearest friend?”
His fading blue eyes stay tightly shut against the horror of their reality. “I failed you,” he whispered, “in yours.”
“Nonsense. You could not have stopped Scott or, more aptly, the Phoenix. You would have only died beside me.”
“It would have been fitting,” Erik replies, still not opening his eyes not because he’s afraid to look at him but because he’s afraid Charles won’t be there before him, that his rich, wonderful voice is just yet another figment of Erik’s wild imaginings, like the idea he’d held to for years that he could make a difference.
“You did make a difference,” Charles says kindly. “We made a difference.”
“Perhaps you did, Charles,” Erik returns, “but the only difference I made in this world was to make it worse. I never saved our people.”
“We never saved our people,” Charles corrects him gently, “but we did save lives, Erik, hundreds, if not millions, of young mutants who otherwise would have perished. You kept my dream going long after I was cut short. You kept my children safe.”
“And yet,” Erik whispers, “they still left me.”
“As all children eventually do their parents,” Charles conjoles. “Is that why you thought you would be alone?”
“‘Life without friends means death without company’, Erik quotes. He’s unsure where he first read those words, but they sound very familiar.
“But you did have friends, Erik -- “
“No.” Now, at last, Erik opens his eyes to peer directly into the concerned, blue orbs looking up into his tired and withered face. “I had one friend. I had you, Charles.”
Charles reaches out and takes his hands in his. There are tears in his eyes but a smile on his face as he tightens his grip on Erik. Neither of them stop to consider why a ghost is able to have such a solid touch. Erik is not yet ready to realize the truth, and Charles wants only to comfort him, not sadden him further. “You always had me, darling, and you always will have me.”
Erik’s tired, thin lips lift into a smirk. “Always is a very long time, Charles, and with our track record -- “
“That was then,” Charles finally says gently, “in the land of the living, in the land where we both allowed men to affect us and direct the courses of our actions, to make us doubt one another and ourselves -- “
“And what, pray tell, is so much different now?”
“Ah, my dear, don’t you see? Now is the first step of a new beginning for us both, for us together. Now is our first moment of eternity to spend together.”
“Eternity?” Erik asks. He looks down, only now realizing that they are drifting ever higher into the air, and sees his body far below, still and already growing paler in the chair beside his lonely bed. “Charles -- “
“Yes.” Charles squeezes his hands as he takes him higher, out of Erik’s current sanctuary and further up into the star-filled, night sky. “Eternity.”
“You will be here with me?”
“Every step.” Charles raises his hands to his lips and kisses each humbly, solemnly in turn. “I’ll never leave your side again, my darling, and now all those words we wanted to say before but were too afraid to speak, we may say.” He goes first without hesitation, the admission whispering out from him like a breath though he no longer breathes and hasn’t for a couple of decades now. “I love you!”
Erik smiles through his tears and squeezes Charles’ hands. “I love you too, my darling! I always have! Why else do you think I would have ever learned to tolerate your cherished X-Men?”
“Because you’re a good man, Erik. You’ve always been a good man. We may not have always seen eye to eye, but I’ve always known that. I’ve always known that even your worst deeds all began because of your good intentions.”
“And all for naught -- “ Erik starts again.
“No, not for naught. We laid the beginning, Erik. We gave the children of our species a chance, their only and truest chance. So many more have lived because of us than ever would have been if we had not touched our lives, many of my own X-Men, as you call them, included. We paved the way. We just didn’t get to finish our mission, but our children will finish it, yours and mine together. Ours. They’ll finish it as we watch from above.”
“And you will stay with me now?” Erik asks, gazing, still uncertainly, into Charles’ beautiful eyes. He’d forgotten just what a brilliant shade of blue they had been when they had shined before.
“Oh, yes, my darling, for now and forever, amen.”
Erik smiles, beaming, happy for the first time in so long he can not remember when the last time joy touched his heart even a little, let alone to this magnitude. “Always?” he asks again as Charles’ head angles in closer to his own.
“Always,” Charles whispers across the lips of Magneto’s specter.
Erik’s smile fills his face and outshines the brightest stars. “Amen,” he agrees eagerly and lets go of life, and all its mundane things and limited choices, as they kiss again and again and fly together into Heaven.