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I was 400 words short of 3,000 last night. I can't consider myself caught up, but since I did finish a fic I consider it a small victory all the same. The last sentence of that was: The light from the computer shut off and the space behind his eyelids changed from electric shadow to pitch black. It was Dick's bedtime. Poor thing had had a roller coaster of a day. Though I suppose that's just what it's like being Dick Grayson.

Today I'm going to post the last bit and get on to something new. I thought you guys might like something different as well. Where can this take you?

I've had this one open for a few days

Date: 2012-11-13 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Charles hears Erik's footsteps, the sound of him sinking into the wet sand as he gets closer. Erik doesn't speak, which says more about the passage of time than even the grey in his hair. The first time Erik saw a projection of Charles with full use of his legs, he panicked. The second time he went on a tirade. The years have sanded away many of their layers of guilt and excuses. Charles appears this way because it's easiest; Erik has long since given up treating it as a slap in the face.

"Do you know where we are?" Erik asks as he slowly lowers himself to the ground, sitting beside Charles in the damp sand.

"A facility in the Pacific," Charles says. "An island of some sort. I'm afraid it may be my fault you're here--they drugged me. I think they made me record some sort of message."

"A plea for help to your estranged lover," Erik confirms. He pulls his knees against his chest, mirroring Charles' posture. "I knew it was a trap. I'm sure they knew I'd know. It's been a few days. I think my people have a back-up plan."

"Mm," Charles says. "Mine have a plan as well, I'd imagine. Mutants this time, not humans."

"They're all the same," Erik says dismissively. He sighs. "It used to be so easy. So clear. Greed's corrupted even this struggle for rights."

"Greed corrupts everything, my dear," Charles says. He looks at Erik for the first time, turns from the reflection of the moon in the waves to study Erik's profile. If anything, he's become more commanding and dignified with age. The silver in his hair is dashing and striking. Charles' own baldness just makes him look old.

Erik leans back on his elbows, changing his position to lounge on the sand and stare out at the sea.

"You always bring us back here," he says. "In my youth, I was sure you were being vindictive, but even you can't hold a grudge this long."

Charles studies the shoreline, the trees and the water and the sky. It's not exact--he never got a look at the beach before the proto-Blackbird went down and took out half the tree line and he's never been back since that day, not outside of his mind. It's an approximation at best, but one that he pieced together incrementally while he was confined to a hospital bed in the immediate aftermath of battle.

"It was so beautiful," Charles says, looking back down at Erik. "I remember thinking that in the back of my mind, even as everything else was happening around me. It was so beautiful. I've always thought--I suppose I've always wished we had a chance to appreciate it. To enjoy it. Under other circumstances, spending an afternoon with you on a pristine beach would have been my ideal. Most people go to a beach to spend time together, to marry, to honeymoon. It's a less popular break-up destination."

"Have we ever really broken up?" Erik asks.

Charles turns back to the water.

"I suppose not," he admits.

The waves lap at the shore almost gently, as if they understand the fragile bubble of peace that they're a part of. Maybe they do. Maybe they're quiet because Charles thinks they should be. These sorts of fantasies all but run themselves once Charles sets them up, and Erik has nearly as much control as Charles does, though, in all their years as adversaries and lovers both, he's never taken advantage of that control.

"It means something to you," he says. "And it means something to me. Different things, I imagine. But it's ours. All these years, all these personas, all these agendas, all these people coming in and out of our lives and this is constant. This is the last place I was foolish enough to think I knew you."

There's a light breeze that ruffles the sparse foliage. The reflection of the moon ripples in the waves, and Erik puts a hand around Charles' ankle. He wants to memorize the phantom sensation, the constructed feeling of Erik's thumb stroking the small bones there. He closes his eyes.

"You've always known me," Erik says. "As much as anyone can know me. Better than I know myself, I sometimes think."

Re: I've had this one open for a few days

Date: 2012-11-13 07:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Charles hums in acknowledgement. He's an old man and he appreciates what little he's allowed to have: the honor of knowing Erik better than anyone, the stolen weekends together, the strange telepathic escapes when they're imprisoned by a mutual foe and the the weeks of recovering together they allow themselves in the aftermath. It's more than he ever thought he'd get and he's not as greedy now as he was at twenty-five.

"I would have married you here," Erik says.

Charles counts to five before opening his eyes and blinking down at Erik.

"The very thought of that would have been absurd in 1962," Charles tells him. Erik squeezes his ankle.

"I would have," he repeats. "All I wanted in the world was for you to come to my side. All I wanted in the world was to take you with me."

"But it wasn't," Charles says. "I know what you wanted. It wasn't me."

"You're right," Erik says, and Charles just blinks again. "I didn't want you, not as you truly were. I wanted you to come with me. I wanted what you represented--you were the first person to accept me, to join me, to help me. That's what I wanted--I wanted you there so I wouldn't be alone. I didn't want you. I didn't understand how that was different, not then."

"I see," Charles says, though he doesn't.

They continue to watch the waves. Well, Charles does. He can still feel Erik's eyes on him.

"That's why it was absurd," Erik says. "Because I didn't know what it meant. I was young. I was foolish. I was too arrogant to see that I didn't understand you the way I thought I did."

"The same could have been said of me," Charles admits. "To be honest, I can't say I entirely understand you now."

"Nor I you," Erik says.

Charles is too tired to play games. The little he remembers of this week has been long and painful and he doesn't want to waste this illusion on the sort of meandering philosophical conversations they have in the flesh.

"Erik, I can't say I'm following," he says. He closes his eyes and tips his head back, more disappointed than he ought to be when Erik releases his ankle. He doesn't have long to miss the touch, though; the sand shifts next to him and then Erik is sitting behind him, his legs neatly bracketing Charles and his arms slipping around Charles' waist.

"I'm saying," Erik says quietly into Charles' ear, "that fifty years ago it would have been absurd for many reasons, but we've long since outgrown the absurdities."

Charles breathes in sharply and doesn't open his eyes.

"Every time I think I have even an inkling of how your brain works," he finally manages to says. Erik laughs, deep and rich, and the sound reverberates where Erik's chest is pressed against Charles' back.

"Is that a yes, then?" Erik asks.

Charles has a million questions, a million demands, the first of which is to make sure this isn't some sort of trick. He holds back the words, though, bites his tongue because he's grown since those first turbulent days with Erik and knows better than to question his loyalty, to question his devotion to the near parody of a relationship that they've maintained for so long and at such cost. He pushes the questions back, the skepticism, the practicality, and swallows it down with the wet lump that's blocking his throat.

"Not here," is what Charles finally says. "This place is different. It's just for us."

"Eight other people were there, but it always was, wasn't it?" Erik asks.

"Another place of your choosing. You will buy me a ring and a cake," Charles says.

"And promise to honor and cherish for the rest of my days," Erik reminds him.

"Mm, that too," Charles says. "I imagine you'll leave out the bit about obeying, though."

"The same could be said for you," Erik says.

"We've, what, two days until a rescue?" Charles asks.

"About that," Erik says.

Charles leans back into Erik's embrace and one of Erik's hands creeps up his chest, spread out over his heart. It's a blurry reflection of that day all those years ago, Charles in Erik's arms as the sun beat down and the future crumbled to dust. Now, as the moon hangs overhead, something new is being born.

"We have plenty of time to work out the details, then," he says.


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