Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandom: X-Men: Movieverse
Rating: from K+ to M
Pairing: Cherik – Erik Lehnsherr x Charles Xavier
Genres: Fanfiction, slash, alternate universe
Characters: Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), Charles Xavier (Professor X), Henry Phillip “Hank” McCoy (Beast), Raven (Mystique) etc.
Warnings: violence, (probably) sexual contents, etc.
Summary: A collection of short stories centered around the relationship of Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto) and Charles Xavier (Professor X). Set in alternate universes (expect ghosts, mythical creatures, vampires, werewolves, etc.)
Third story of Cherik Fantasy AU
Warning: implied rape and mutilation, slight gore
As Charles descended the seemingly endless darkness, one foot at a time, he was awashed with an overflowing sense of nostalgia. He was no stranger to these stone steps, smoothed by time and thus treacherously slippery, as he had once gone down this same pathway many years ago, one hand on the rough wall to steady himself, never mind the scratches, while in the other was a torch providing the only source of light. He had been but a child then, driven solely by a childish curiosity to explore the deep bowel of the gargantuan monster lurking behind his foster father’s bedchamber. Of course he had never reached the end of these steps to see what was down there, for his father had caught him and literally dragged him back to the surface. Looking back, Charles had never seen his father so livid like he had been at the moment his large, callused hand grabbed Charles’s shoulder. His pale eyes narrowed and his pupils slit, fatally akin to a snake’s when his gaze bored into his son’s face as if drilling a hole in his small skull. His lips pressed thinly into a straight, hard line, and a cruel, vicious look settled into his normally serene expression, twisting his handsome features into ugliness. Charles dared not look at him as he spoke, warned actually, frost in his tone and malice dripping from his trickled words, “Don’t ever come down there again! That is no place for you to play, boy!” The young boy, scared and frantic, apologized profusely and promised he would never, ever set foot into that door again, no matter how it taunted him.
And he had meant it for a decade to come, his father’s wrathful glare on that day a tight lock on his mentality, keeping his childish curiosity in check. Yet, here he was, doing the exact opposite of his fearful promise. Charles had no doubt that if he was caught this time, and he would be if fate was unkind, it would not be a harsh scolding and two days’ hunger as punishment, but a certain and agonizing death by the glowing tips of his father’s fingers. Sebastian Shaw, despite his amicable manners and calm facade, was never a kind man, and those who crossed him found themselves at the receiving end of a gentle tap on the shoulder, and the next thing they knew, they were in atom form. Shaw’s gift matched his personality, and Charles had, unfortunately, discreetly, witnessed him in the act, a cold smirk ever present on his lips indicating that he was enjoying every millisecond of it.
He had been wearing that exact same smirk, down to the tiny creases at the corners of his mouth, when his fingers began to glow red, and with those, he touched the sobbing, hysterical young woman clinging to his leg. The touch had been gentle, feather-light, yet its effect was devastating. In a blink, there was nothing left where the young woman had been, not even a pile of ash or a dark smudge to indicate her existence. Her too-young son’s eyes were glued to the empty spot, wide with confusion, his thumb in his mouth, drool dripping.
Charles could not have comprehended what had happened back then – hadn’t even remembered it – but he was able now, not having gone through a single night without reliving that nightmare in vivid detail. Always trapped in his own body, helpless and desperate to do something, anything, but was unable to, having to watch the same outcome over and over again. His mother, from whom he had inherited the chestnut locks and oceanic eyes, engulfed in the blinding light and then gone. This was a horrid side-effect of his telepathy; once an image had wormed its way into his brain, it stayed, and there was no telling when it would pardon his mind.
Charles did not wish for that image to be erased from his mind though; on the contrary, he secured it in a corner of his psyche, holding onto it like his life, nay, his whole existence depended on it, and maybe it did, because his mother’s tearstained face at her last minutes gave him strength to endure every day, to smile at Shaw and say “Yes, Father” until the day he could bring him down once and for all.
Charles had not extracted the truth from Shaw’s mind; he couldn’t have, for his foster father’s mind was powerful and barbed, and a small misstep would not only result in a mental bleeding but also alert him to Charles’s intention. A gifted individual’s power grew with his age, as Charles’s telepathy had grown from picking up stray thoughts off an unguarded mind to wringing memories from his own subconscious, and in Shaw’s case, he was ancient in spite of his middle-aged look. If Charles didn’t know better, he would think he was immortal, perhaps a vampire even though he’d never seen the man consume anything red other than fine wine. There should be a secret to his ageless state, a dearly guarded one that might be the key to his mortality. Charles had sworn to his mother’s soul that he would unearth Shaw’s secret and serve her murderer his just desert, but for that to happen, he had to be vigilant, dancing to his foster father’s tune like an obedient dog he thought he’d trained Charles to be.
Caught between his nostalgia and heightened anxiety, Charles didn’t noticed he had reached the end of the stairs. What awaited him was not the gaping mouth of the monster like he had imagined; instead, he was greeted by stagnant air and thick metal bars barring a pitch-black cell. Charles was taken aback since a cell suggested a sight of life while he had speculated Shaw’s secret was an inanimate object. A mystical relic, perhaps, imbued with powers to give men extended lifespan; such was rare, Charles had learned from Shaw’s tomes, but not nonexistent; Shaw’s accumulated wealth and influence would have allowed him its possession. Apparently he couldn’t have been further from the truth. Horror knotted his guts at the thought of a living, breathing being stripped of their freedom and banned from seeing the light of day for how long only the wicked man knew. Along with the uneasiness in his stomach, another emotion rose, one borne from more selfish reason. Wasn’t he too a prisoner, shackled down by years of lies and the pretense of a fatherly bond that had never been in the first place?
Tentatively, Charles released a fraction of his consciousness into the fathomless back behind the bars, searching in hope of finding what he didn’t know himself. There was a chance that an animal, not a human being, was being kept in the cell, and although Charles’s powers had far surpassed those of an average telepath, they remained solely in the human domain. He couldn’t read a beast’s mind even when it indeed had a semblance of one, nor could he control it the way he marionetted a man if he so wanted to. For several seconds Charles was dipping in the inky pool, extending his mental appendage to grope and feel his way not unlike a blind person when he let out an elated cry. He had found something in the dark. Cool, smooth and hard to his mental touch, this thing felt like a solid metal wall or gate. His heartbeats sped up since a barrier indicated the presence of a mind, capable of thoughts and feelings, though guarded and unwelcoming to telepathy, possibly hostile. Now he could try to breach the wall, but that was a barbaric act which Charles abhorred unless he was absolutely choiceless in the matter. Although his foster father had had every intention to make a lethal weapon out of him, Charles’s innate nature was that of peace and civility and it remained miraculously thus despite Shaw’s many a twisted philosophy, so reason would always be his first approach and violence the very last. He pressed his palm against the cool surface, warming it just a little to announce his presence and then knocked, as gently as he would if he had to pay an unexpected visit to a dear friend’s home during ungodly hours yet insistently. One, two, three, four, five… He listened, waiting. The gate remained silent and closed. He felt a pang of disappointment even though he knew he shouldn’t; it wasn’t a normal gate he was requiring entrance, and it would not open simply because he was asking nicely.
Holding up his torch, Charles brought his face closer to the metal bars, almost touching them as he tried to peer through the sheer black and failed. While he loved his telepathy as his gift, sometimes he wished to possess enhanced senses; they would prove to be very useful, especially in circumstances like this.
The torch slipped from his hand and dropped to the floor as Charles gasped mutely, falling on his behind. His heart leapt to his throat as a pair of will-o’-the-wisps had manifested from the darkness and were now staring straight at him. He almost forgot how to breathe, paralyzed by the intensity in those eyes – how did he think they were eyes? Contemplating him. Gauging him. Dissecting him. It was absurd but for an instant, he thought those eyes had penetrated him to his core, scooped it out and lay it bare in the light. It took all his courage to not shrink.
“You are not Shaw,” a voice spoke, masculine and rusty, likely from lack of use. It sounded almost like a growl.
“I-I’m not,” Charles stammered, stupidly. He remembered the torch on the ground and picked it up, relieved that the flame hadn’t been put out. He gripped it in one hand while the other sought the dagger at his waist, his fingers closing around the hilt once he touched it. It was the only weapon Shaw allowed him to keep and it leaned heavily on decoration rather than utility but it did give him some imaginary leverage against this man – creature?, whose glowing eyes and curt speech promised a not-so friendly attitude. His Adam’s apple bobbed, and a bean-sized bead of sweat rolled down the side of his face, not entirely because of the heat from the torch.
“Show yourself,” Charles demanded, raising his torch as well as his voice to sound confident in spite of his unmistakable trembling, then hastily he added a soft “please”, hoping to show he meant no animosity.
It was like dropping a pebble into a well; the water surface rippled but after a few seconds, it was still as if nothing had happened. His words created a small echo in the cavernous space, but the effect was temporary and soon silence took its reign again. The two will-o’-the-wisps had not vanished so Charles assumed he was just ignored. Rude, he thought, without malice, just exasperation. Swallowing a lump in his throat, he tried again, “Can you come out, please?”, with an emphasis on the last word.
To his astonishment, Charles began to see some sort of movement where light and darkness fought for dominion. He heard nothing though, which was rather odd considering how deafening the silence was. A figure was moving into the light provided by Charles’s torch, becoming clearer and clearer. When he saw fully how the speaker of that voice looked, Charles couldn’t help an audible gasp. His eyes went wide, unblinking and after a few seconds, they started to hurt and water from the strain. He ignored the discomfort and continued staring, his hand abandoning his dagger to clutch the metal bars, knuckles starch-white.
“You-You are an Edchina.” Charles somehow found his voice amidst the shock.
The Edchina – a half-human, half-serpent hybrid – didn’t give any response.
“How is it possible?” Charles wondered out loud, his gaze unabashedly raking over the hybrid’s body, from his obviously male torso, pale and ashen due to the sore lack of sun and littered with scars of various sizes, to his serpentine lower half, covered in grey scales that looked metallic in the light. He was thin, too, Charles noted as an afterthought, so thin that Charles could count his ribs underneath his skin. A wave of sickness and pity crashed into the shore of his heart.
“Edchinas were supposed to be all females, and extinct!” Charles exclaimed.
“Thanks to Shaw,” the Edchina sneered. His eerie glowing eyes, with slit pupils at the center, found Charles’s and immediately engaged them in a staring contest. Charles felt a strong urge to turn his head and found that he couldn’t, bewitched as he was, so he had no choice but to look the Edchina in the eyes and pray that he wouldn’t be petrified. A few seconds passed, which felt like an eternity, and the Edchina’s eyes slowly blinked, lifting whatever spell they had cast. Charles was hugely relieved that his limbs and body were movable; he did feel somewhat withered, however. His knees ached from kneeling on the ground and his throat was parched, screaming for some water. “What do you mean ‘thanks to Shaw’?”
“What are you to Shaw?”
“I…” Charles hesitated, his tongue caught between his teeth as he debated with himself about what to say. Judging by his captured state and acid tone, the Edchina was not likely fond of Shaw any more than Charles was. His guts told him that, and a telepath should know when to trust his gut instinct. He had already taken a huge risk venturing down here, so what was the harm in adding a little more? Emboldened, Charles said, “I am his foster son.”
“Oh?” A menacing grin spread across the Edchina’s exquisite features. At the gleam of his snake-like fangs, a chill crept down Charles’s spine while his hands became slicker. “A son trying to steal his father’s possession? Interesting.”
The mocking tone irritated Charles but he pressed it down and took a short breath to regain a neutral tone although he wasn’t quite sure he succeeded. “A son trying to discover his secret and kill him,” he said, determined.
To Charles’s pleasant surprise, the grin faded as quickly as it had appeared. His features hardened and his eyes scrutinized the human in front of the metal bars once more. Is he reading my mind? Charles pondered. Is he capable of it? The writings in the old parchments Charles had excavated from the library’s basement were very vague on the subjects of Edchinas. All they said were this species were rare and man-shy, and that Edchinas might have some preternatural powers, but what exactly those powers were, they didn’t seem to reach an agreement. With a mental snap, Charles erected his shields; that way, if the Edchina attempted to invade, he’d know and be able to defense himself and maybe counterattack. No telepath would be comfortable with a mind reader taking a stroll in his head uninvited.
“You were in my head,” the Edchina said, voice calm and much less rusty; there was even a smooth cadence in it. “How did you do that?”
“I am a gifted,” replied Charles, borrowing Shaw’s word with ease. “So is Shaw but I doubt you’ve already known.”
“Your gift is different from his.”
Charles shuddered at the implication. Had he too witnessed the extent of Shaw’s powers, or worse, experienced them personally? Charles was aware that his foster father’s abilities didn’t limit to sending an individual into oblivion; on a less destructive scale, he could tear flesh and snap limbs with a flick of his wrist.
“Mine is telepathy,” Charles said, gauging the hybrid’s expression. “As you’ve seen, or rather, felt it.”
“Nifty trick,” he commented. “Why didn’t you tear it down? Why just knocking?”
The mocking tone had returned but Charles refused to be provoked. He took a deep breath. “Violence is my last resort, when everything else has failed. I don’t think you have answered my previous question.”
“Are we playing a game?” The Edchina closed the distance between himself and the metal bars, which now served as the only barrier between him and the telepath. He pressed his palm against the bars, spidery fingers flexing, almost touching Charles’s. The human’s gaze swept along his arm, where he spotted several long, jagged scars, and winced. “No,” he replied curtly.
“Then I owe you no answers. However,” he trailed off, eyeing Charles’s throat. “However, if you answer mine, I will answer yours.”
Charles hesitated, the cogs in his head spinning as he contemplated the offer. He knew he didn’t have a lot of time. While Shaw was not supposed to be back until dawn, there was absolutely no guarantee that he wouldn’t cut short his “little excursion”; his father was a spontaneous man as far as Charles was concerned. However, he also knew this was not simply a bargain but a test of trust, one he couldn’t afford to fail if he wanted to wrench any crucial information regarding Shaw’s secret out of the hybrid, which he assumed the half-serpent man was holding.
“Fair enough,” decided Charles.
“What are you called?”
An easy, if unexpected, question. “My name is Charles. And yours?”
Charles committed the name to his memory.
“Why do you want Shaw dead?” Erik wasted no second with the next question.
This time, it was a question Charles had anticipated. It took him but a moment to answer, opting for sincerity as he had previously. “He orphaned me so he could take me under his wing. For that I don’t just want him dead; I want to kill him.”
Erik’s expression was blank as he grabbed Charles’s wrist through the space between the bars, his thumb applying pressure right on the human’s pulses, feeling them to determine whether his mouth had lied to his heart. Charles flinched but forced himself to remain still. Physical contact was a means to establish trust, and trust was what he aimed to gain from Erik. “Do you still want your earlier question answered?” Erik asked.
“You were right about the Edchinas. But I am not one.”
“But you have…”
The unmistakable physical traits of an Edchina as described in the tomes.
“I am a halfbreed, born from the seeds of a man who lusted after my mother’s flesh. In more way than one.” He took a short pause to regard Charles’s confounded expression. “That makes us brothers, Charles.”
The air was suddenly knocked from Charles’s lungs when realization kicked in. His mouth opened but not a syllable was uttered, his shock rendering him speechless. His eyes were boring into Erik’s face but wasn’t really seeing him; instead he was finding all the tiny details he had memorized from Shaw’s features. They were not too many and Charles could be forgiven to overlook at first glance, but they were decidedly there if he was looking – the high bridge of his nose, the icy color of his irises, almost translucent, the sharp cut of his mouth that made him look either cruel or generous, depending on the angles, the chiseled lines of his jaws.
“How could he do something like this to you?” Charles’s tone was choked with emotions bubbling in his chest. The dam could burst any moment. “Keeping you in this hole like a vermin, you who are his flesh and blood!”
To his bewilderment, Erik laughed. His laughter was mirthless and dry as sandpaper rubbing on iron. “Flesh and blood, what fascinating choice of words. That’s not all he’s done. Do you want to see for yourself?”
It took Charles a while to get Erik’s invitation, phrased like a question. He nodded and gingerly put his fore- and middle-fingers on Erik’s temple, his eyes squeezing shut. There was a spark and he was face-to-face with the steel gate guarding Erik’s mind again. He pressed his palm against the surface and was surprised to feel some vibration – its internal mechanism turning per Erik’s command. There was a creaking noise when Charles gave it a light nudge, and the gate swung open to release a flood of images and sounds and sensations. For several moments, Charles was literally drowned in it. He lost his footing and the control of his astral body, his arms flailing around not unlike a hopeless man trying with his blind instinct to grasp onto a straw. He couldn’t breathe, attacked by relentless currents of a mind liberated. He had never experienced this before, being utterly overwhelmed, but it was understandable given that all the minds he had come across until now couldn’t hold a candle to Erik’s in terms of depth and complexity. Again, none of them had suffered the way Erik had and yet, managed to persevere, albeit with a cost: his sufferings at the hand of Shaw had given birth to destructive thoughts now manifesting as inky tendrils to coil around Charles’s limbs and torso like snakes. He jerked his limbs, which only resulted in his bonds tightening. Forcing himself to concentrate despite everything, Charles lashed out with his telepathy, cutting a few tendrils. It proved to be a futile struggle because more tendrils instantly sprouted out to replace the severed ones. One in particular wrapped around his throat. His vision dotted, his concentration slipped away. It was a harsh test to his caliber as a telepath and he realized, with spiking panic, how unprepared and inexperienced he was. He could very well perish in the hybrid’s mind today, bound and dragged to the unfathomable bottom.
A clear voice like a beacon cutting through darkness called out to him at the same time a strong, bony hand caught his forearm. His dazed mind registered the maze of scars and it snapped into awareness, prompting him to cling onto it. With an odd sense of bliss, Charles surrendered himself to its gentle tug, letting himself be guided into a shining white spot amidst the haze. The tendrils recoiled and retreated to where they had come as the same time light engulfed him, momentarily blinding him before it subsided, allowing him to see again.
His relief, however, was short-lived, soon replaced by horror when the grim face of Sebastian Shaw entered his sight. From his first-person perspective, his foster father appeared towering as he loomed over Charles, who was cowering on the hard floor of his cell in hope to look even smaller than he already was; he would sink into the ground if that meant Shaw couldn’t see him and spared him the inevitable fate. In Shaw’s hand was a thin curved blade that suited ceremonies rather than actual usage. The light dancing on the metal brought a queer glint to his eyes, never leaving Charles. “Hush, child,” he cooed, one hand holding Charles’s shoulder in a vice grip while the other raised the blade, “it won’t hurt a bit.” Charles briefly caught his reflection on the metallic surface before it sank into his tender flesh.
Erik yanked Charles out of his memory train, slamming the gate shut in the progress, before agony bled into Charles’s consciousness. His breathing coming in quick pants, Charles clutched his forearm and took in his surroundings, his brain working hard to separate Erik’s memory from reality. It wasn’t an easy task after he had planted himself too deep in the hybrid’s head. Images flickered in front of his eyes, and Shaw’s toxin-laden voice was playing in a loop in his ears. He felt like cowering away. “Charles!” Erik called, hands on both his shoulders, shaking him. Charles blinked hard, and in the same way he had clung to Erik’s arm during the onslaught of Erik’s mind, he held onto his voice and reestablished himself in the real world. Once he saw Erik’s face again instead of Shaw’s and the wicked voice had died out, Charles realized the fingers on him, long and cool, were meant to comfort rather than hurt. Heat immediately pricked the corners of his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he sobbed, burying his face into Erik’s scarred chest. “I’m so, so sorry, Erik.”
Erik’s only response was lifting Charles’s face with both his hands. His thumbs swept away streaks of tears glistening on the human’s cheeks. “So warm,” he muttered, somewhat breathlessly. “I never knew tears could be so warm.”
“I have to get you out of here,” Charles said. “I don’t know how, but I have to.” His eyes were misty with tears and his voice was hoarse, but his resolution was loud and clear. His initial desire to uncover Shaw’s secret had vacated from his head; all he was think about at the moment was that Erik’s torment had to stop. His hands clasped the metal as if he could bend them through sheer will and determination. Heavens. If only he possessed the gift of super strength.
“Will you help me, Charles?”
“Of course. But I—”
Erik shushed him. “There’s a way,” he said, turning around. Charles’s scanned the expanse of his bare back. The skin here was in no better state than his chest, with scars crisscrossing and forming a grotesque cobweb. Charles’s fingers itched to run over them, smoothing them into oblivion with his touch.
“Touch the back of my neck, Charles,” Erik ordered, “where it connects with my back. Can you feel it?”
Charles did as he was told. The back of his neck was mercifully scar-free and the skin was smooth underneath his fingertips. Then he felt it – a bump about the size of his thumbnail. “What is it?” he asked.
“Something Shaw put in me a long time ago. I can’t take it out myself, so I need you to help me.”
Charles eyed the spot, reaching for his dagger. As soon as he touched the hilt, doubts filled him. Though he wasn’t squeamish when blood was involved, he had never actually cut open living flesh. Moreover, the fear that he would hurt Erik with his inexperienced hand almost caused him to drop the dagger.
Perhaps sensing Charles’s apprehension, Erik pled, “Charles, please.”
Charles exhaled lengthily, the dagger held firm in his hand. He pressed the tip into Erik’s skin, light as a ghost breath. “Alright. I’m going in. Are you ready?”
A short, dry laugh. “I’m accustomed to pain, Charles. Go ahead.”
Charles bit the inside of his cheek to soothe his nerves. Sweat pooled at his throat but his hand was steady and he knew his dagger, despite its ornamental function, was absurdly sharp and thin – perfect for a dissection. He was glad he had picked it in the first place. He wanted to – he had to make it quick for both Erik and himself.
Blood painted an abstract picture on Erik’s back but Charles wouldn’t let it deter him from his task, steeling himself to cut deeper into flesh until the damned thing exposed itself to his eyes. A tiny, rectangular piece of unknown material, it gave off a faint gleam. Exhilarated, he whispered, “There. Almost done. Just hang on a little more”, to himself rather than Erik, who had remained still and quiet since the beginning. It pained him to know Erik’s statement that he was used to physical pains held true.
Charles wasn’t aware he had been holding his breath until his fingers pried the piece free from the stubborn flesh trying to keep it in place. With his back turned to him, Erik let out a sigh.
Charles cut a sleeve from his jacket and pressed the cloth to Erik’s bleeding wound. His blood soaked through the fabric in an instance. It needed treatment or else the wound could fester, Charles worried, but he was at a loss of what to do. The metal bars were still between them, and Erik’s freedom seemed too far-fetched. “Are you alright?” Charles asked with concern, dabbing at the blood.
“I’m fine,” Erik replied, turning to face Charles. Catching Charles’s wrist, he gently pried his fingers off the soiled cloth and let it fall to the ground. Charles spared it a glance and looked at the hybrid, half confused, half questioning. “It heals. I’ve had worse.”
Charles’s stomach churned at the implication. “But it’s still bleeding,” he retorted. “At least let me stop the blood.”
Erik’s lips quirked. “I may not heal as fast as a full-fledged Edchina but still fast enough.”
As if to demonstrate, he touched his wound and showed his hand to Charles, whose eyes widened incredulously at the bloodless skin. “Extraordinary,” he whispered.
Charles spread his palm, where the bloodied piece he had taken out from Erik’s flesh was laying, seemingly harmless. It felt light and metallic on his skin. “What is it?”
Erik glared at the object and Charles’s guts felt a sharp twinge at the hatred contained in a single look. The piece levitated in the air and was crumpled by an invisible hand so that its size was reduced to that of a speck of soot. Charles let out a gasp, but before he could voice his question, he was witness to a feat of a much more grandeur scale: every single metal bar was twisting and wrenching itself out of its designated place as though they were freedom soldiers waiting since forever for the one signal to break their shackles. They dropped to the ground, making clanging noises that could wake the dead. Charles jumped a little but he was quick to assure himself that it was deep into the night and they were too far beneath the surface to alert a soul in the vicinity.
Peering at the bended bars near his feet, Charles could only hope the look he was wearing wasn’t too idiotic. “You are…”
He finished his sentence with telepathy, not trusting his voice to not tremble in awe. “… gifted. Just like me. Just like Shaw.”
Erik’s smile didn’t quite reach his glowing eyes. “Half human, remember? The thing you plucked out was a suppressor, specially designed to lock my power. Shaw had it crafted and put it in me as soon as my gift manifested.”
“Ever the cautious bastard,” Charles agreed.
“Maybe not cautious enough, because you found this hole, and you found me. You came looking for Shaw’s secret. Did you find it?”
“I think I have an inkling,” Charles answered in his physical voice. His mind drifted to the memory he had intimately shared with Erik, of Shaw’s cold smile, false words and curved blade. Of not-his but oh-so-real fear. He pulled himself out before he went in too deep.
“Shaw’s my father and he murdered my mother so there’s nothing in this world I want more than his death,” Erik said, his tone even, yet laced with cool enmity, leaving no room for doubt. “I will help you, Charles, as you’ve helped me. Do we have a deal?”
The hybrid held out his hand, which Charles wasted no time to take and give it a firm shake. Warmth enveloped his heart and from there it spread all over his body. For the first time since he had stepped down the stairs, he was truly relaxed.
“But first, let’s get out of this forsaken place.” Charles stared at Erik’s lower half for three seconds and was suddenly reminded. “Can-Can you walk? I mean, you don’t have legs.”
Edchinas had to be able to move around, right? Did they slither like snakes or…
“I don’t have legs?” Erik chuckled. “Look again.”
Charles blinked hard, not sure if he had heard right. In the time it took him to do so, a pair of very human legs had miraculously replaced Erik’s snake tail. Now he appeared human all over, not just from his waist up. Charles was dumbfounded.
“Half human, remember?” Erik echoed his earlier words, this time adding a hint of tease. His eyes had also ceased their unearthly glow. “I can take human form if I concentrate. Being a halfbreed has its perks.”
“Nifty trick,” Charles replied, also taking Erik’s previous comment. Then he exclaimed, “Heavens!” as he noticed the hybrid’s rather… exposed state. It had posed no problem when he had the body of a serpent but now… Crimson crept up Charles’s neck, bared by his lowered collar, and colored both his cheeks. He shrugged out of his coat and draped it over Erik’s shoulders, consciously trying to avert his eyes from Erik’s intimate areas, which was… difficult, to say the least. He thought he might be dripping blood from his face. Erik watched the human without making any comment. His lips stretched into a smirk.
“Can you stand?” Charles asked, already offering his hand. Erik nodded and took it, borrowing Charles’s strength for support. Once standing up, he let go off Charles’s hand and had but a moment before his newly acquired legs wobbled and Erik nearly collided with the ground if not for Charles’s quick reflex and the hidden strength his unimpressive build possessed. He rested Erik’s arm over his shoulder, pressing the hybrid’s torso to his own as he put his hand on his waist, wincing a little as Erik’s protruding hipbone jabbed his side. Erik had been mistreated and malnourished and Charles hoped with time and proper care, his condition would be improved. Taking slow, measured steps, he walked them both up the staircase.
“Imagine Shaw’s face when he’s back and finds that I’m gone,” Erik said.
“He’d suspect me at once,” Charles sighed. “We don’t have a lot of time. We have to come up with a plan quickly.”
“The best plan I could think of is find a place and lay low for a while.”
Charles frowned, turning his head to look at Erik. “Why?” he asked.
He was regarded with Erik’s smile, one of his more genuine ones, which made Charles’s heart inexplicably fluttered.
“Longevity comes with a price, and in Shaw’s case, if he stops consuming my flesh, let’s say, his age is finally catching up with him.”
Charles’s blue eyes brightened. “And he’s practically a relic himself.”
“More than you and me could ever imagine.”
Charles allowed himself a grin, which was mirrored on Erik’s countenance.
I borrowed the name of the half-snake, half-woman monster from Greek Mythology for Erik’s species.