Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Magneto/Professor X, Shadowcat
Challenge/Prompt: Xavier's Challenge 2: Snarl
Warning(s): Cannon Character Deaths, Future Fic, Spoilers
Word Count: 1,901
Date Written: 16 August 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
He walked carefully among both his people and others. After decades of seemingly endless fighting and suffering, his lover’s dream had finally been realized. The day should be a reason for joyful celebration, but all he seemed able to do was recall that Charles was no longer with him. He had given his life for his dream. He had given his very life to the same students who had fought so hard to keep them apart. He was dead not because of his dream, not because of so-called humanity, but because of his own children, of the very boy who’d been the first male X-Man, the one who had been closer to Charles than any son he had actually had.
Yet that very mutant was one of those being celebrated today. Erik snarled as he came face to face with a picture of Scott Summers carved into marble. There was an inscription talking about Charles’ first student -- although Jean had actually been first, it was a fact rarely remembered -- and listing a few of the more honorable things he had done. The man could have saved the world a zillion times. He may well have done so a billion times. But none of his heroics mattered to Erik. All he could think of when he saw Scott Summers, rather it was his face, his likeness, one of his many doppelgangers, or the man himself, was the fact that he had killed the man who had given everything for him, for his dream, and for his other students, everything including giving up the man he’d loved.
Erik had never once doubted Charles’ love for him or his for Charles. He would have liked to have believed that if they had not been so different in their beliefs, nothing else would have stood in their way of being together and they could have lived and loved quite happily, but he had long since accepted the sorrowful truth that for all their speech about acceptance, Charles’ students would never have accepted him. It was still difficult to believe that Scott, of all people, had been the one to kill Charles, but Erik had been there. He knew what had happened, knew what the little bastard had done, and gotten away with.
He ached to topple his statue. He had wanted nothing more for years than to flay the bastard alive, but the honor of getting to kill him had not gone to him in the long run. It had been a quickly fired blast in the final battle with the government’s Sentinels that had finally killed Cyclops instead of the hands who so justly deserved to be able to strangle the last breath from him. It was a shame really and one that Erik would always regret.
He could take out some of his frustrations here and now on Summers’ replica, but he was suddenly tired and there were too many people standing around instead. His old, blue eyes flicked around him, making certain that no one was watching him too closely, and then he ripped a piece out of the roof. He whipped the small, torn beam at the replica of Scott’s face and scratched through his name and the information of the heroics he’d performed. He did it all so swiftly that no one noticed even as he walked away and the fragmented beam dropped to the floor with a clatter behind him.
The humans gaped and whispered, but they didn’t recognize him. He wasn’t dressed as himself today. In a simple suit of trousers and a buttoned down shirt, Erik looked just like any other of their kind, any other who also had old, tired blue eyes and white hair. He could slip in and out of their little crowds unbothered by the screams that would surely resound if he’d worn his uniform. They speeched acceptance, and they had accepted some mutants, like the current members of the X-Men, but they’d always run in fear from him. Perhaps, in a way, he thought, moving on, that was a good thing.
He walked, passing by exhibits and barely glancing at them. There was one for Jean Grey, Charles’ first, true student although he had adopted Scott long before Jean had become an X-Man. There was one for Wolverine, and for Storm, and for the Beast, who had brought so many cures and helpful inventions to the very humans who had so feared and hated him for being different. There was a statue in the center of everything of the original, five X-Men and another statue for Dazzler, who, although she’d not brought nearly as much to the cause of peaceful cohabitation between Earth’s two most renowned species, was nonetheless greatly popular with the humans for her music.
And then -- Erik stopped walking and stared into eyes he knew as well as he knew his own -- there was Charles, the man who had started it all, the man who had dared to believe, no matter how impossible it had seemed so many, countless times over the years, that the two sides of the homo genus could live together peacefully. He felt tears well into his eyes and his anger drain from him as he stared into the replica’s eyes. He reached out, his hand, wrinkled and withered by age shaking, and stroked the statue’s cheek.
“Charles.” His voice broke. It was all he could do to keep from crying. The sculptor had done well on capturing Charles’ likeliness. He wouldn’t have minded taking the statue home with him, had he had a home to which to go, but the place where he was staying was merely a place to lay his head, nothing more. He hadn’t felt there was a home left on this Earth for him since Charles had died.
He closed his eyes again the tears that threatened to overcome him. It wouldn’t do for him to break down here, in front of the world, in front of the humans, or even in front of the other mutants who walked among the displays. He trembled inwardly, and as he did so, everything metal in the museum also quivered.
“Charles,” he whispered again, every inch of his aching resounding in his weary voice. “Perhaps now I can finally join you, old friend.” How many times had he called him that? he wondered. Surely it was nearly as countless as the number of times their different beliefs had caused them to fight, and yet they’d always been so much more than friends. A single tear escaped his control and rolled down his cheek.
A hand suddenly touched his shoulder. Erik’s proud head snapped up. His blue eyes flew open, anger and hatred burning most of the tears from them in a single, powerful surge of emotion. Metal beams creaked while spoons and other silverware suddenly flew from those who had accepted the cakes and other delicacies being passed among the visitors. He turned swiftly and found himself glaring into a pair of brown eyes that had always seemed older than they were. “Miss Pryde,” he growled out.
She didn’t remove her hand from his shoulder. “We miss him too,” she said, and instead of moving away, she did something over which he would later marvel. She stepped closer. She stepped right up to him, the most terrifying “evil” mutant of them all, wrapped her arms around him, and hugged him.
And in that moment, suddenly, the years fell away for Erik. He remembered another girl, one younger than the one who now caressed him so reassuringly but one with equal spirit and caring heart. She had known his and Charles’ secret, and perhaps it had been in part because she was like them, having also taken lovers of her own gender in later years, but she had accepted them. She’d never hated him, and he had, in fact, saved her life once and talked her best friend and secret girlfriend down from killing the very people who had harmed her. Talked her down like Charles had tried so many times to talk him down.
Slowly, hesitantly, Erik reached out to the not-so young woman who now led the X-Men. He reached out and softly touched his aged fingers to her soft, brown hair. He felt her eyes glance up at him in surprise, but instead of stepping away, she only hugged him more tightly. “We miss him too,” she said again, and Erik felt the truth in her words and in her heart.
They day was meant to be a day of celebration, but instead, for them, it was a day of remembrance. So many had fallen, and whereas his heart broke for only one, he knew hers broke for many more of those on display in this room. He knew her valiant, compassionate heart ached for them all, and he knew, too, that this young woman, and other bright, younger spirits like hers, were the very ones for whom Charles’ dream was intended.
Their time was over. Erik had known that long before he’d stepped foot into this museum. He and Charles were of the past, in more ways than one. Just a few minutes ago, he’d thought perhaps he could go to what passed for his home now after having seen Charles be honored and he could sit down and die. He could go home. He could go to be with Charles, if he finally got lucky. He could leave this world of pain and sorrow behind him. But now, with the relevantly young Kitty Pryde’s arms around him, he began to think perhaps it wasn’t over after all. Perhaps there was still something left for him to do in this world after all. “Miss Pryde,” he spoke again more softly.
She finally released him. She stepped back and nodded almost humbly. “We’re having a celebration later, a private one. I’m glad you’re here, because of us all, you loved him the most. It wouldn’t feel right not having you at a celebration for him when -- when you’re -- “
“Still alive?” His lips hovered somewhere between an amused smile and a teasing smirk as he looked down at her.
“Well, yeah.” She paused a moment and looked at the plaque behind him. Her eyes fell on the date. “You know what today is, right?”
“Of course.” His smile took a genuine but sad turn. He could never forget this date. It was, after all, more than just the day that a Bill of Rights for mutant kind had been signed along with a treaty between homo sapien and homo superior. He glanced back at Charles’ statue. “Happy birthday, old friend,” he whispered.
Kitty nodded behind him. In that moment, he could almost hear Charles. “Go home with her, Erik,” he would have said if he’d been there. “Go home with her and teach those young mutants what it means to be a mutant in this world, what it is we’re fighting for, why it is we care. Go home with her and lead them into my dream.” And so he did, but while he was at it, he told them about the man who had started it all, the man they all had to thank for the new peace just beginning to settle between humans and mutants, the man he would always, always until the day he did die and even after.