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Fic: WMD (X2, Magneto/Xavier, NC-17)

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  • C. Elisa
    WMD by C. Elisa Summary: Five things that probably didn t happen while Charles and Erik were building Cerebro. Rating: NC-17 Feedback: Please.
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 22, 2003
      WMD
      by C. Elisa

      Summary: Five things that probably didn't happen while Charles and Erik
      were building Cerebro.

      Rating: NC-17

      Feedback: Please. c-elisa@...

      Disclaimer: Charles, Erik, and Cerebro all belong to Marvel Comics and
      Fox Entertainment.

      Author's note: The "Five Things" format -- five independent vignettes,
      usually AU -- was invented by Basingstoke, with her story "Five Things
      that Aren't True". There was a Five Things challenge
      (http://strangeplaces.net/challenge/five.html), but I invited myself to
      this party. Many thanks to Andraste for beta.

      URL: http://c-elisa.slashcity.org/wmd.html



      One ear in Italy, one eye in Spain,
      In caves, my blood, and in the stars, my brain.
      -- Vladimir Nabokov, _Pale Fire_

      1.

      "One, four, seven, eight, two!" the girl announced, pointing at Erik's
      bare forearm with each digit. Charles stiffened in his wheelchair,
      ready to put a reassuring hand on Erik's shoulder, but Erik's relaxed
      posture on the park bench didn't change.

      "Very good," Erik said, smiling at her. "You should become a
      mathematician, like my friend here."

      "What does it mean?"

      A breeze shook the oak boughs overhead, making coins of light dance on
      the ground and the girl's face. "It's Dr. Mengele's phone number," Erik
      said at last.

      "Why did you put it on your arm?"

      "I don't want to forget. I hope to call on him someday."

      "Is that your mother looking for you?" Charles said hastily as the girl
      opened her mouth again. She looked over her shoulder and reluctantly
      trudged off.

      They sat in silence for a while, Erik throwing crumbs from a paper bag
      as Charles looked down at his hands.

      "You know, Erik -- even if we do succeed in amplifying my telepathy, I
      don't know how I would begin to locate one mind among billions --"

      "We'll have to work on that."

      "He'd be over sixty-five years old."

      "Should I leave him to enjoy his retirement?"

      "No, of course not, but...." Charles sighed. "Do you really think that
      bringing an old man to justice --"

      Erik shook his head. "I don't care about justice anymore. I want to
      _know_. I want you to read his mind and tell me what it was that he
      injected into me. I want to know what the surgery was for. I want to
      know how much blood he took from me, what he did with it, and exactly
      what was going through his mind." He let crumbs sift through his
      fingers onto the ground. One daring pigeon darted in between his feet.
      "After that," he said, "you can decide what to do with him."

      "Erik...."

      Erik stood up, knocking his hands together to dislodge the remaining
      crumbs. "Let's go."

      "It's a beautiful day, Erik. Let's stay a little longer."

      But there was no peace in Erik's eyes as he looked down at Charles. "We
      have work to do."


      2.

      "Erik, we have an intruder in Cerebro."

      "Do we," Erik said absently. He was leaning against the console, his
      back to the door. In his hand was a sheaf of scribbled calculations,
      and he kept looking back and forth from them to the scattering of panels
      set in the dome. "We'll have to install some sort of security system.
      Is it friend or foe?"

      "Well, I'm not sure," Charles said without turning around. "It seems to
      be a little girl with red hair, a white nightgown, and --" he pressed a
      hand to his temple, pretending to concentrate -- "an eight-o'-clock
      bedtime."

      "I couldn't sleep," the girl said from behind them. "I got scared."

      At that Erik looked around and met Charles's eyes. He rolled up the
      papers, stuffed them into his pocket, and slipped past Charles's
      wheelchair to scoop the girl into his arms. "You're just in time to
      help us," he said, and then stage-whispered into her ear: "You can
      distract Charles for me. This will go much faster without his
      supervision."

      The girl giggled as Erik lowered her into Charles's lap. Charles darted
      an exasperated glance at Erik but said nothing. Someday there would
      have to be a conversation about how easy it was to manipulate him with
      any reference to nightmares or disturbed sleep, but this wasn't the
      time.

      The girl turned and looked up at him expectantly.

      "Yes, your eyes are very pretty," Charles said.

      "Which one's better?"

      "Now, you know it doesn't matter to me what --"

      "What's your favorite color?" she said impatiently, sensing evasion.

      He smiled at her. "Blue."

      There was a trace of doubt in her expression, but before she could put
      it into words, Erik suddenly laid the papers aside. "All right. This
      ought to do it." He raised his arms. Two panels flew out of the dome
      and slotted themselves into empty niches on the other side. The girl's
      mismatched eyes grew round.

      "I want to ride on those," she said as more panels crisscrossed the
      room.

      "So do I," Charles said gravely. "But Erik is no fun at all."

      "What's he doing that for?"

      "The panels are a little bit like an antenna," he explained. "Have you
      seen a television with the rabbit ears up?"

      She nodded. "Before," she said quietly.

      "Well, Erik is trying to adjust the rabbit ears so we can tune in the
      channel we want. In the unlikely event that he gets it right --" Erik
      did not react -- "we should be able to use Cerebro to find other
      mutants."

      "Why?"

      He looked into her eyes, which were slowly returning to yellow. Her
      scales were coming back out, as they always did when she was tired. He
      tucked a loose strand of red hair behind her bright blue ear. "Because
      you should have other children to play with."


      3.

      Why on earth had they made Cerebro's platform so narrow? If Erik had
      been standing beside him, it would have seemed natural, at a moment like
      this, to take his hand. It would have felt like being together at some
      mountain overlook, with the moon shining on their faces, and the
      midnight sky a mess of stars -- the sort of thing they'd never actually
      done. As it was, Erik stood behind him on the walkway, and Charles
      couldn't even see the expression on his face, though he was sure that
      Erik's silence meant astonishment.

      "There's no mistake?" Erik said at last.

      "I'm positive. I know it seems incredible, but every one of these
      lights is a mutant. Erik, _look_ at them. There are so many...."

      "'I had not thought death had undone so many.'"

      "What do you think the total is? How many jelly beans in the jar?"

      "Six million," Erik said. "Give or take."

      Charles turned to look over his shoulder. "It won't be like that."

      "You think that when they find out they're surrounded by members of a
      powerful new species, they'll simply accept us, as humans have always
      accepted -- "

      "We have the initiative. We're the only ones who know how many of us
      there are. We'll find a way to keep history from repeating itself."

      "Yes," Erik said bleakly. "We will."


      4.

      "You need pigeons," Erik said from underneath the control panel.

      "Pigeons?"

      "Cinderella's stepmother mixed lentils with the ashes of the hearth and
      made her sort them before she could go to the ball, but pigeons came to
      pick them out for her."

      Charles smiled down at the schematic that he was trying to read by the
      light of five billion minds. Five billion tiny specks, like grains of
      brilliant dust; and so far, there was no way to find mutants among them
      without checking each one individually.

      "Lentils are very uniform," he said. "A properly sized set of wire
      screens would have worked as well."

      Erik snorted and looked back up at the console. He was lying with his
      head toward Charles, his legs stretched out on a bit of scaffolding that
      he had improvised from steel rods and sheet metal. From that position
      he could keep an eye on the lights of the dome, and still watch the
      circuits in the console as they worked. The current flowing through the
      wires was visible to Erik as an electromagnetic glow, and the waveforms
      produced strange synaesthetic echoes, colors and tastes and scents.
      Until recently, Charles had regarded the ability as little more than a
      curiosity -- good enough to quickly diagnose a broken radio, but no
      substitute for a proper oscilloscope. In the event, his carefully
      engineered machine had done nothing but give him headaches until he
      finally let Erik modify it by trial and error, guided only by his
      instinct that the signal needed to be mintier.

      Now both calculation and intuition seemed to have deserted them. The
      brainwaves of humans and mutants were as distinct in Charles's mind as
      the colors red and blue, but nothing they tried could make the machine
      see the difference.

      He put a finger down on the schematic. "Let's try turning P25 again.
      We haven't done that since your latest changes, have we?"

      "I can't remember your numbering. P25?"

      "Part of the bandpass filter. It would be in series with a thousand
      picofarad capacitor --"

      "What does it _do_, Charles?"

      Charles consulted a pencilled note on the schematic. "According to you,
      it makes the output stage smell like pine needles."

      "Ah." Erik reached up under the console to make the adjustment. Charles
      concentrated. The room dimmed as most of the lights went out -- but
      that meant nothing. It often happened when he tried to focus, but, as
      always, the pattern kept shifting at random. When he finally managed to
      focus on mutants alone, the constellations would be stable except for
      the occasional birth or death.

      "Anything?" Erik said.

      "Not yet. Keep going."

      The lights changed slowly. After a minute or two, Erik said "That's
      halfway. Do you feel any --"

      "Does it _look_ like the display has stabilized? I'll tell you when I
      feel something."

      "I wasn't demanding progress, Charles. I was checking for slurred
      speech. This _is_ your brain we're playing with."

      "I don't need you to monitor me. Just do as you're told."

      "Charles. Control yourself, or I'll turn the machine off. This isn't
      like you."

      Charles felt a surge of anger even as he realized that Erik was right.
      Somehow the machine must be causing this.

      He brought minds to the fore at random. A man caught in traffic, a
      child arguing over a baseball game, a woman slamming a door --

      "Anger," he said. "The machine is tuned to people who are angry."

      "That was the reason for your outburst?"

      "It must have been. It's much easier to control now that I know what it
      is, but the anger felt so natural...."

      "That doesn't sound pleasant."

      "It wasn't particularly," Charles said. He knew -- whether through
      intuition or telepathy, he wasn't sure -- that it was all the apology
      Erik would accept.

      "Shall I turn it off?"

      "No. If I understand what's happening, changing the setting of P7 might
      tune in different emotions. We should try to map them. If we can
      locate fear, it could eventually be useful in identifying mutants who
      need our help."

      "P7," Erik muttered to himself. "That's in the circuit that keeps
      everything from being too yellow...." He reached up underneath the
      console, and the pattern changed again. "Well, it's gone from gray-
      green to the taste of orange peel. Do I seem particularly frightening
      to you?"

      His voice had the same faintly mocking tone that had often accompanied
      some half-serious proposition -- _Do you want me to do it here, Charles?
      We'd have to be ever so quiet if you don't want everyone to hear_ --

      "Oh," Charles said.

      "Charles. Can you count backward from ten?"

      "I'm not suffering any cognitive impairment. I'm just a bit...
      distracted."

      "Oh, I see."

      "Try turning it a little further."

      "Why?" Erik said. "I like this setting. It's a fascinating shade of
      blue."

      "When you've finished playing --"

      "What's the matter, Charles?" Erik turned over, pushed the wheelchair
      three feet backward without touching it, and stood up between the long
      red and black cables alligator-clipped to Charles's helmet. "You just
      have to keep yourself under control." He bent down to kiss him -- just
      a brush of the lips, uncharacteristically delicate. Charles shuddered
      and closed his eyes, but didn't make a sound. Then Erik licked gently
      at the corner of his mouth. A wave of pure heat went through him, and
      he seemed to have cupped his hand around the back of Erik's neck and to
      be sucking urgently at his tongue.

      Erik pulled away and looked down at Charles with the slight smile he
      always got when he was winning at chess. "Let's channel that impulse in
      a more interesting direction." He unbuckled his belt, took it all the
      way off, and hung it from an unused switch on the control panel.

      "This is taking advantage," Charles said.

      "If you don't like it, why don't you take off the helmet?"

      "It's made of metal. Would I be able to?"

      "Try it and find out."

      For a moment, Charles considered it. Then he reached out and ran the
      backs of his fingers down the length of Erik's erection through the
      fabric. After more than thirty years, he didn't have to say aloud _I'm
      not the only one that that would disappoint_.

      There was no reason he couldn't control this. He put his fingers to the
      fly of Erik's pants, undressing him with a practiced ease that lasted
      until the instant that his fingertips made contact with the skin of
      Erik's waist. His reaction was only a brief pause, the slightest intake
      of breath, but Erik made it an excuse to take his wrists and pull his
      hands away. Erik was claiming an unearned victory, but Charles was not
      going to to walk into the trap of insisting.

      When Erik had taken off his pants and underwear, he moved closer,
      spreading his legs a little to straddle the footrests. His shirtfront
      parted at the bottom to reveal his naked cock. Leaning forward to reach
      it was going to be awkward, but of course that was part of the point.
      Erik wanted him to prove he wanted this so urgently that an ache in his
      neck wouldn't matter at all. Erik probably thought he could get Charles
      to beg just by pulling away at the right moment. He was probably right.
      So Charles would just have to make sure that Erik lost interest in that
      plan. He would give Erik everything he wanted, leaving him no chance to
      do anything but accept it -- like one of those chess problems in which
      White has to force Black to win.

      He leaned forward, bracing a forearm against his thighs, and brought his
      tongue up underneath the head of Erik's cock. Gently, he licked at the
      slit, at the seam between head and shaft, all the weak spots in Erik's
      defenses. After so many years of practice, he could do this by muscle
      memory alone -- which was fortunate, since he was constructing circuit
      diagrams in his head to keep the machine from overwhelming him. He ran
      a hand down Erik's back, but only through the insulation of his shirt.
      When he looked up, Erik's breathing was still steady, but at least his
      eyes were half-closed. Charles knew from long experience that that
      didn't mean he had stopped thinking, but it was a start.

      He took Erik's cock into his mouth, pressing his advantage. The head
      was warm and smooth against his lips, against his palate. Erik's
      breathing slowly became ragged. He wrapped a hand around the shaft of
      Erik's cock, stroking it as he sucked, and soon the taste of salt and
      musk bloomed on his tongue. He could give up now -- just lose control,
      and blame it all on the machine. There was nothing wrong with giving up
      an easy victory at rook odds. But he forced himself to pause, to rein
      himself in and continue more steadily. He just had to keep reminding
      himself that he was under the influence of an illusion. He was not
      seventeen years old, and while Erik's scent had never ceased to be
      arousing, it was only the machine that made it threaten to unseat his
      reason. His mouth was filled no fuller than before, no matter what his
      mind was telling him. The temperature of Erik's cock was ninety-eight
      point six degrees and it was not, not going to melt him from the inside
      out.

      At last the pace of Erik's breath persuaded him that Erik was past the
      point of playing games. He closed his eyes and sucked, and opened his
      mind just a little more to the machine.

      There was a heaviness between his legs, a sudden heat where no feeling
      had been before. It was only an illusion, something borrowed from some
      random mind, but it was impossible to believe that he didn't actually
      have an erection and that there wasn't a hand wrapped around it. Since
      the accident that had shattered his spine, Charles had only been able to
      come by sharing someone else's pleasure -- he could feel touch on
      anyone's legs but his own -- but he hadn't counted on the strength of
      it, amplified by the machine. Touch covered him, a chaos of sensations.
      He couldn't seem to remember what position he was in, and the feeling of
      Erik's cock in his mouth was the only thing anchoring him to his body.
      He reached for Erik blindly, smoothing his hands over his hips, then
      clutching his buttocks, trying to ground himself. Far away, he heard a
      moan rise in the back of his throat.

      Then Erik's thumbs were on his cheeks, pushing his face away. Bringing
      him back.

      "You're _feeling_ something, aren't you?" Erik said thickly.

      For a moment Charles just stared at him, trying to make sense of the
      existence of a point of view from which that wasn't obvious. "Yes," he
      managed.

      "I don't feel you in my head, Charles. You had better not be getting it
      from anyone else."

      Erik was broadcasting his thoughts loudly enough for Charles to know
      that the jealousy was perfectly real -- though that didn't mean he
      wasn't using it as an excuse to make things more difficult. Charles
      wasn't sure it would even be possible to focus on Erik's sensory cortex,
      with the whole world clamoring for admittance to his head. But he could
      never bring himself to refuse Erik's challenges. Somehow, by an effort
      of will, he managed to focus past the helmet and take Erik's mind into
      his. When he ran a fingertip experimentally up the shaft of Erik's
      cock, he felt the same sensation mirrored on his own.

      Then he sat back and met Erik's gaze, waiting. He refused to strain
      forward again. Erik would just have to find another solution. This
      narrow platform of hard metal did not give them many options, but one
      impossible task deserved another.

      Erik smiled and glanced down at Charles's wheelchair. The handle of the
      joystick suddenly snapped off and dropped to the floor. The steel tubes
      that supported the armrests curved in over his thighs, then leaned
      toward Erik, twisting so that the pads were level. Kneeling on them,
      Charles realized, would put Erik at just the right height, and the
      joystick, detached, would not get in the way of his legs.

      Erik was no longer a young man. His climb onto the armrests was
      dignified rather than agile. But it would have been hopelessly awkward
      if his pants had been around his ankles. Charles wondered whether, when
      Erik had taken his pants all the way off, he had already been looking
      ahead to this move.

      Charles opened his mouth and took Erik in until the metal of the helmet
      brushed the placket of his shirt. Erik's hand came to rest on his
      shoulder -- gently, careful not to clutch. But Charles could feel
      everything he was doing to Erik now. He knew just how hard to suck,
      just how slowly to tease the slit with his tongue, just how long to
      pause before taking him in again. Erik had no defense.

      Erik's hand moved to the back of Charles's neck, then slid upward to cup
      the cool, smooth metal of the helmet. Three months before, Erik had
      closed his eyes and stroked his hand along an imaginary curve in the
      air, and the helmet had taken form -- a tactile memory of the shape of
      Charles's head turned into steel. Now Charles could taste the alloy,
      bitter with chromium, sweet with manganese. The circuits underneath
      incensed the air with sandalwood and rose.

      Suddenly Erik gripped the helmet harder, pressing it into the back of
      his head. Something slipped in his mind -- he lost focus -- and he
      could still feel Erik, but now other minds were flooding in as well. In
      a cornfield a man and a woman were making love, and he could feel the
      fallen stalks against her back, hear the snap as his thrust broke
      another. In a car going past, a young girl ran a finger up the inside
      of her lover's thigh as they drove down the road toward a house where a
      woman was lying in the bathtub with the water pouring down between her
      legs. More and more -- he could feel everything, and it was all part of
      _this_, of him licking and sucking and making Erik's breath come fast
      and rough. He felt that in time he could fit the whole world in his
      head, but Erik was thrusting into his mouth now and they were close,
      close. White heat built in his cock with each shuddering thrust. Then
      Erik's hands just sank into the metal and he swallowed and everything
      was rushing in at once and all the minds in his head flared up bright
      and then dark.

      Eventually Erik got down from the wheelchair. Charles just sat there
      and watched him put on his pants as the world spun weakly around them.
      It was surprisingly quiet in his head now. When Erik had finished
      dressing himself, he knelt in front of Charles's wheelchair and
      straightened his jacket for him with an expert twitch of his fingers.
      The armrests rose into their usual positions. He picked up the joystick
      handle without looking down and pressed it back into place. Finally he
      looked up at the helmet and smiled, and some combination of memory and
      telepathy made Charles realize there must be a handprint pressed into
      the back of it.

      Charles shook his head slightly: no, no need to fix it. The damage was
      purely cosmetic. Someday this house would be full of students, and they
      would both have to be ever so respectable; the handprint would need to
      be smoothed out, in case someone saw. But for now this place was theirs
      alone, and if they wanted a reminder, they could have one.

      "We should have thought of this sooner," Erik said. "What better way to
      inaugurate a new invention? Breaking a bottle of champagne seems so
      wasteful. If you've thought of a name, I believe this is the
      traditional time to --"

      He stopped, looking over Charles's shoulder. "What is that?"

      Erik was broadcasting the image so strongly that Charles couldn't help
      seeing. In the heart of North America there was a hole in the light, an
      oval darkness where no ocean was.

      He remembered a cornfield.

      "Oh," he said dully.

      "What is it?"

      "We did speculate that the connection might be two-way...."

      "Charles, what happened to all those people?"

      "They're not on this map anymore." Charles closed his eyes. There was
      no good way to say this. "I think I may have given Iowa an orgasm."


      5.

      "'I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.'"

      "That's not a fair comparison, Erik."

      "You're right. It isn't. When Oppenheimer quoted that, he was talking
      about the A-bomb. Compared to what we've built, it might as well have
      been a bottle rocket."

      "Erik, you still have a headache --"

      "Because you nearly killed me trying to test this thing!"

      "I'm as horrified as you are. But now isn't the time to make this
      decision. You need rest. We can look at it again in the morning -- we
      may be able to introduce safeguards -- "

      "Safeguards. You want to put your trust in safeguards. This machine
      could destroy every human being on the planet."

      "We don't know that."

      "I stopped breathing, didn't I?"

      "For an instant. Yes. Erik, I was terrified -- "

      "Mutants in Manhattan stopped breathing."

      "I believe so."

      "I can see the power setting on the control panel, I'm familiar with the
      inverse square law, and I can do arithmetic. Don't pretend you don't
      believe you could extend that effect all the way to the antipode, and
      don't pretend you don't know you could do it to humans too."

      Charles closed his eyes. "Most likely."

      "Have you changed your mind, Charles? Have you decided to rule the
      world? They'll have to give in to any demand that you care to make -- "

      "Of course not."

      "Then you have to destroy even the _idea_ of this machine. You cannot
      possess a weapon like this and be unwilling to use it."

      "No one has to know -- "

      "You don't believe the mutant children that you want to bring here will
      find out? God, Charles -- this is the most dangerous weapon in the
      world, and you want to build a school on top of it."

      "Erik, I'm afraid of what will happen if we do destroy it. It's only a
      matter of time before someone is killed just by being too close to a
      mutant with poorly controlled powers, unless we start finding them
      first. The backlash from something like that --"

      "Will be nothing compared to the effect of holding a gun to the head of
      everyone on earth. Do you think the fear of annihilation will promote
      tolerance? Charles, do you _remember_ the 1950s?"

      "I understand that. Erik, all I'm trying to say is that nothing is
      going to change overnight. Let's take the time to think this through."

      "You don't want time to think. You want time to persuade me. Just as
      you persuaded me that war between humans and mutants wasn't inevitable.
      _This_ makes it inevitable. When they find out this machine exists,
      there will be war, and you had better be prepared to win it."

      "You know I don't want that."

      "Then why are you resisting me?" He paused, looking down at Charles.
      One side of his mouth curled up in a smile. "You like it, don't you,
      Charles? How does it feel, touching all those minds?"

      "I won't deny it's a remarkable experience, but that hardly -- "

      "I should have realized."

      "Erik, we have the opportunity to make a difference. We can save lives
      -- we can give children a chance to learn what they are in a safe place,
      away from the world's prejudice and hatred. We can prevent everything
      you've always feared. We have the ability to shape the future, and
      Cerebro is the key to that. We can't give up the dream just because
      there's a possibility that people might find out. Erik, please, listen
      to me."

      "You're like a child with a loaded gun." Erik lifted a hand. The
      helmet rose from the control panel, tore away from its cables, and began
      to crumple. Above their heads, the panels trembled in their slots.

      Charles narrowed his eyes. The helmet stopped and clumsily flew back to
      its resting place.

      "What... " Erik shook his head slightly, then looked at Charles with
      growing horror. "You did that. You _controlled_ me."

      "I'm sorry, Erik. I just didn't want you to do something that we'd both
      regret. We've worked so hard for this...."

      Erik took a step back. "Goodbye, Charles."

      "Erik, wait --"



      ~*~

      Endnote: #1 was inspired by reading about a Holocaust survivor who,
      when her daughters were old enough to ask about her camp tattoo, told
      them it was Hitler's phone number. They never asked again, she said.

      --
      http://www.livejournal.com/~c_elisa
      http://c-elisa.slashcity.org
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