"Stand Still, Time", PG, 1/1
- Stand Still, Time
A brief foray into Xavier and Magneto. Post-movie.
Characters do not belong to me, and I mean no
infringement. Rated PG. List archive and those with
Thanks to Elizabeth and all others who saw this and
gave it a go.
Erik played chess with a quiet mental vengeance;
Charles always beat him and yet...
... yet they couldn't stop. Erik *wouldn't* stop. And
Charles felt doomed to win until he someday honestly
lost, because Erik would know, with his unreaching
mind, if he gave up the goose in favor of the gander.
He hated his nostalgic relief at sitting, calmly
staring, from a plastic wheelchair. Moving parts-- not
metal, his most brazen thoughts gloated-- that set him
firmly across from Erik. Erik frozen in life and
space, Erik with the papery skin and the blue eyes
that got duller with every visit. And in the prison of
plastic walls (so akin to glass, the plastic was) if
either of them moved the guards would know it.
So many stones over the chessboard, thrown and hurled,
and yet the castles held. And Charles, numb with the
guilty relief at being safe-- as safe as anyone could
be, here-- gazed upon the deteriorating form of his
(yes, an old friend, the oldest)
and held back a sigh. Impertinent repetition, he
admonished himself. It did no good to go back.
*There*. At last. At long last, and never again.
And the wheelchair: plastic, thank God.
Too vivid in memory was Erik's despondant pallor at
first seeing him, crippled and broken and bent to the
will of fate. Most (not all, never all, because how
could you forgive, forgive *this*) of his own despair
ebbed away and he could only gaze at Erik and wish he
weren't capable of feeling the desolate emptiness
Erik: Erik, sad and true, and Charles once-- only
once, and the thought was too much-- yearned to
control that. Drive it away and let his friend cherish
some of the happiness others knew.
Ei Rikr; the words came in his sleep, sometimes. Ei
rikr, and thus he was ruled, in his way.
Erik and his empathy, and how he could draw the
wheelchair forward with a flick of his fingers, have
Charles at his side, beck and call, was autonomic
theft at best. And Charles said nothing because Erik
was, after all, so good at achieving new things.
Ei rikr, indeed. Complete ruler; ruler in completion.
Charles sometimes felt very helpless to Erik's whim.
Especially after the chair. Another reason to never
"As I recall," Erik was saying, and he took a pawn,
eased it off the board and out of play. Distraction,
Charles thought, the nature of the game. Always out
for the kind, and why wasn't Erik better at it, who
was so good at deception and aiming high. "As I
recall... you once made light of it. As if perhaps I
were wrong, entirely."
"I did indeed," Charles agreed. Caustic light, the
sort that seemed sterile, as if light could carry
germs, blazed through air and plastic; a reflection on
the board sparkled before his eyes. "I did, and in
that you were right."
"In that? And only in that, you're willing to concede?
How ungracious of you, Charles."
Eric looked tired, and Charles wondered why he came.
"There is no grace in speaking as one does not feel,"
he replied, and he took a bishop, the second. The
last. "You expect me to say things I don't believe,
Erik. There is no good in that."
"None at all?" and Erik's voice was dull and lonely.
"We all speak our minds, and if their minds are
against us, so be it, is that it? I tell you, Charles,
perhaps all the unrestrained speaking is not the
saving grace of eternity, after all."
"Perhaps," Charles said, and he watched Erik take a
rook. "But without it, where will you ever find your
land of freedom?" He sighed and reached to play.
"Checkmate, old friend."
He found it no surprise that Rogue had trouble looking
at him during the remainder of her days at the school.
No surprise at all; she knew.
And he had hesitated to press, to poke around and find
out how she felt about all of it, any of it. He could
have handled her feelings, whatever they may have
been, but somehow those were hers, only hers, as Erik
was supposed to have been only his.
Or maybe the other way around, because he knew, knew
even after everything, how Erik had
cherished, desperately protected, held him dear. He
knew Erik would have regretted having all that passed
to the girl, even for his perceived greater good.
And when the day came-- and he could feel it coming,
no doubt-- when she left, he knew it didn't really
matter, because there wasn't so much cherishing there,
anymore. He also knew it was probably for good; he
asked her why and she shrugged and wouldn't look at
him. She said she just had to go and then left
(she left, she left, did he hate you so much she could
and the next day he went to see Erik, because it was
that day of the month again.
Erik's sleeves were pushed up and his fists were on
the table, and Charles wondered at how the blue ink
was so much deeper, so much firmer
(so much more forever)
than the sheen of ice blue eyes. And he stared--
behind Erik hw could see the guard approaching: time
up, game over, though it had been over for some time--
and hw was overwhelmed with despair at knowing that
next time (always a next time) Erik's eyes would be
even duller. Paler. Colder, and so much more angrily
But never chagrin, and never remorse. Charles wondered
at that, too.
Erik let the matter go, for then, with a quiet laugh.
"We'll never agree, Charles. We never did."
"Oh, we did once," Charles countered. "Over tea, and
eggs, if I'm not mistaken. It was a splendid day."
"Yes, yes, I suppose it was," and Erik looked almost
amused as the guard entered. "Until next time then,
Charles? As always?"
"As always," he echoed softly, and he was pushed away,
hoping that promise would end up a lie.
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