Disclaimer: Characters belong to their respectful owners
Fandoms: X-Men: First Class (2011)
Rating: Teen and up
Pairing: Cherik – Erik Lehnsherr x Charles Xavier
Genres: Fanfiction, slash, alternate universe
Characters: Moira MacTaggert, Charles Xavier (Professor X), Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), Raven Darkhölme (Mystique), Onslaught
Warning: character death
She could not comprehend how someone like Lehnsherr, who could lift a submarine with his will, could not deflect a bullet.
A tiny, crucial bullet.
For all her wits and experience in her expertise, Moira could not quite comprehend mutations.
She could not comprehend how Summers generated that beam of his, where he gained the energy for such a highly destructive blast, and if he ever suffered energy deficit.
She could not comprehend how Raven with just a thought was able to make her body ripple and take an entirely different shape, how her vocal chords were structured so that she could mimic anyone’s voice to perfection, and if she was ever afraid of losing her sense of self while impersonating others.
She could not comprehend how Charles felt when surfing everyone’s tumultuous thoughts with a constant risk of drowning in them, or if he had any qualms about tinkering hers. Made her forget, for example. The thought chilled her spine and put a damper on her growing affection for him. More than once she’d wished he was just a normal if overly charming genetic professor, a man she felt safe enough to pursue a romantic relationship with, perhaps even a family.
She could not comprehend how someone like Lehnsherr, who could lift a submarine with his will, could not deflect a bullet.
A tiny, crucial bullet.
Did she think he could deflect it when she pulled the trigger? No, she wasn’t thinking about something so complex like that at all. Swirling in her head was a resounding “No!”
Charles had failed to reason with him, mentally, verbally, physically. A few more minutes and hundreds of men would die — men who had only followed orders. Lehnsherr had to be stopped at whatever cost.
Her gun steady in her dry, cold palms, Moira fired.
Her first shot was successful — the bullet ricocheted off his helmet, unable to dent or even scratch the metal but able to divert his attention from the missiles. If Moira could spare a moment to look up, she should see a few of them falter from their tracks. Her fingers clenched the trigger, and the second bullet followed the first, separated only by a second. Then, in that very second, Lehnsherr turned his head.
Perhaps her aim had gone fractionally askew. An infinitesimal twitch of the hand, unregistered to her awareness. A minute dip of gravity. Perhaps Lehnsherr had inflected the trajectory of the bullet, a reaction more instinctual than conscious and thus imprecise.
Whatever it was, the result was definite: the bullet pierced clean through the side of his neck.
The missiles lost control. Some of them rained down the ocean while others blew up in the sky in a mock show of fireworks. All their sounds combined were barely as loud as the dull thud of Lehnsherr’s body hitting the ground.
God, what had she done?
Moira did not have time to reflect on the disastrous turn of event because Charles’s scream entered her ears and cleaved through her thoughts. A pain like she’s never felt before assaulted her left temple, sharp and sudden like a white-hot needle perforating her butter-soft brain. Her knees dipped in the sand and she released a choked groan, clutching her head. Nausea thrusted at her throat, causing tear to pool around the rims of her eyes. Vaguely she heard various shouts and screams and when she glanced around her, Moira saw with wide, tear-veiled eyes all of the others, her allies as well as Shaw’s subordinates, were on their knees, their heads in their hands.
All except one: Charles, who had rushed to Lehnsherr’s side and was now cradling his body. His hands was squeezing Lehnsherr’s hand — the same one that had controlled the missiles — and Lehnsherr squeezed back briefly. Charles pressed his limp hand to his chest.
Moira might not comprehend mutations but she knew with painful (pun intended) clarity that it was Charles who had taken them all down. Another roll of nausea and Moira covered her mouth to fight back a retching noise, this time caused by revulsion and fear rather than the telepathically induced migraine. Beads of sweat slithered down the length of her spine like a dozen clammy hands. Her slicked palm clenched around the gun handle in an attempt to anchor herself. Charles could have killed them all, friends and enemies alike, without lifting a finger, and there was absolutely nothing they might have tried to stop him, not with every one of them barely holding onto their lives. A prick behind her left eye reminded her that he still could.
As quickly and suddenly as it had come, her pain and nausea receded, and Moira wasted no time to scramble to her feet. Her relief was short-lived, however, and her horror was renewed when she realized she couldn’t hear the sand crunching underneath her boots. Nor could she hear the salty winds hitting her face or the various groans from all the mutants around her. It was as if someone had stuffed her ears with cotton, smothering her sense in a blanket of silence. She knew one man who could do that with ease.
“Charles!” Moira called, advancing to the hunched frame only a few hours before she could have confidently called her ‘friend’; she was not so sure anymore. Although she did not hear her own voice, she tried to squash her panic. Her grip on her gun tightened, her arm raised.
All of sudden, she could hear.
First, the sound was vague and distant, like being under water and hearing someone calling out to you. An echo of a voice, Moira could tell, and she was confounded to recognize its owner. Then it got clearer and clearer, until she could make out each syllable. “You have to let it go!” The voice half commanded, half begged. Her body felt floaty and weighed down at the same time. Once again, she sunk down on her knees. Her grip grew lax around her gun. “You can’t. You’ll drown,” the voice warned. Her lungs constricted and her chest struggled under the pressure of imagined water. She tasted salt on her tongue. “You have to let it go,” the voice repeated. “Please, Erik!”
Moira’s head broke the water surface and she gasped in the crisp air of Miami night, so deep in the trance that she forgot she was on Cuban beach, with the Cuban sun beating down on her skin.
A few steps from her, Charles was writhing on the ground, groan after groan escaping his lips, which had lost their usual-unusual redness and were pale as sheet. His brows knitted, his damp chestnut locks stuck to his forehead, and his eyes were squeezed shut. He bit his trembling lower lip, which produced a single droplet to draw a red thread across his cheek before it was absorbed into the sand.
He had not let go off Lehnsherr’s hand.
It was as if she was standing on thin ice and just now, the ice gave in under her weight. Moira heard a series of ominous cracks before losing her footing and her body plummeted into the center of a vortex, her eyes peeled open for flashes of images she knew for certain could have never come from her own experience. A row of tattooed numbers on a bony forearm. A warped iron gate. Bodies tossed into a mass grave. A gun pointed and an unmoving coin. A stout figure in the dimly lit corridor, a cane in his hand. A tiny beaming blue face covered in scales. The dark muzzle of a gun and dashes of blood. A submarine cutting through murky water. Sparkling blue eyes that made the sea pale in comparison. Shaking hand lowering a gun. An overturned chessboard, its pieces scattered amongst articles of clothing, and snapshots of tangled limbs. (Moira blushed.) A moving satellite. A coin floating in the air. Missiles gliding in the sky. Shadow of a bullet on the sand.
The images shattered with Charles’s howl. For all her training and experiences as a CIA agent, nothing prepared Moira for such a bloodcurdling sound. There was that prick again, behind her eye, only this time it was increased tenfold. Fear was spiking in her guts.
“Charles!” Raven shouted, rushing to her brother with an agonized expression etched on her face, only to be frozen in her track by Charles’s snap: “Stay back!”
For the months she’d acquainted and worked with Charles Xavier, not once had Moira heard him raise his voice. Before today, she would never have associated the soft-spoken professor with screaming and shouting. Raven wouldn’t have, either, if the stupefied look on her face was any indication.
One hand still gripping Lehnsherr’s, Charles was covering half of his face with the other. His skin looked transparent under the sun, and the crimson thread looked like it was cutting his cheek in half. The white of his visible eye was bloodshot, highlighting the blue that was shining too bright to be normal as his gaze zeroed on her with a kind of blazing emotion Moira dared not name. She shivered despite the heat.
Moira whipped her head to the side to tear her eyes from Charles’s gaze, and saw something strange. There was a red glow where their hands joined and it was spreading at breakneck speed, engulfing his entire arm and Lehnsherr’s body in a matter of seconds while Charles himself seemed unaware.
“Charles, your arm—” Moira cried, unconsciously taking a step back.
“Back off!” Charles barked with the viciousness of a dying animal.
That was all Moira heard before her mind went blank as her eyes were exposed to an outburst of light. Squeezing them shut with a grimace, she felt heat on her skin though it wasn’t scorching, and bright red spots danced behind her eyelids. She brought her arm up to shield her face.
What was happening?
She only let down her arm at Raven’s shocked gasp. Her eyes enlarged at the sight presented to them, and Moira wasn’t sure if what she was seeing was real. In fact, she wasn’t sure if the day up until now was even real.
Charles had stood up, his straightened back being proof that the pain which had previously caused his scream seemed to have washed off. His hand remained linked with Lehnsherr’s as it had been throughout the entire ordeal. His free hand wiped at his stained cheek.
Beside his feet, where Lehnsherr had laid, was only blood-soaked sand. Standing by his side was a slim figure which bore striking resemblances to the fallen Lehnsherr. He (was that a he?) was even wearing the same anti-telepath helmet. Sunlight bounced off its sleek surface.
“It can’t be,” Raven rasped. Her words mirrored Moira’s thought. She did a quick scan and gathered a ubiquitously astonished look from the other mutants.
Charles shook the damp locks out of his eyes and lifted his head, staring straight at Moira.
God, his eyes.
Moira had always found Charles’s eyes mesmerizing, as she suspected most people looking at his blue eyes would. At the moment, she still held onto her former expression, though it was enshrouded in horror. Pure, unadulterated horror.
The white of his eyes had been swallowed entirely by the blue. Eyes without pupils glowing like two will-o’-the-wisps, he smiled.
“Won’t you remove that eyesore?” Charles said, voice soft with an eerily calm undertone, turning sideway to the mysterious figure, sparing Moira that awful stare.
The figure wordlessly removed the helmet, crushed it and tossed it into the ocean, revealing the face of Erik Lehnsherr, only something was… off. Moira could feel it in her guts but couldn’t quite put her finger on it, and it wasn’t his hair which had turned snow-white, or his skin so pale the veins became visible. Or his pupils which had expanded to take over his eyes.
The bullet wound in his neck was closing.
This… Lehnsherr, whom Moira knew couldn’t be Erik Lehnsherr, turned to her with a blank look and raised his hand.
The dog tag chain on her neck immediately became a lethal choker. Moira’s gun slipped from her hand as she was yanked down by invisible force. Kneeling, she clawed at her neck despite a feeble voice from a fraction of her brain deeming it futile. Her mouth agape in a muted plea, she shot a desperate look to Raven but the girl was motionless, her yellow eyes staring ahead. Moira’s vision started to blotch.
“That’s quite enough,” Charles said in unhurried tone, clasping a hand around Lehnsherr’s wrist. He lowered his hand and the grip around Moira’s neck was released. She panted and coughed, hugging her throat with both hands.
He paid her no mind and walked to Raven, Lehnsherr by his side.
“You were going to leave me to go with him, weren’t you?” Charles asked, cupping her face with his hand.
Charles shushed her, his thumb caressing her lips. “Darling, I could read your mind.”
Moira thought she would protest, having accidentally overheard one of the siblings’ arguments. Raven parted her lips, but no word was formed. Her eyes were big like a scared kitten.
“Now that he’s with me,” Charles said, pressing his palm against Lehnsherr’s chest, “you’re not leaving us, aren’t you?” His voice became smoother, like silk, and the silk was wrapping around a blade. “Even if you do want to leave, I will not let you. I will not let any of you.”
“I won’t,” Raven replied with trembling lips.
“Come with us, brothers and sisters,” he called out to the other mutants. “We have much to do.” He spoke in normal volume; still, every other mutant seemed to catch his words. They nodded in unison and strode to him.
Like marionettes being pulled to the puppeteer.
Moira’s reason was screaming at her to reach for her gun and put a bullet between his eyes. Just as that Lehnsherr wasn’t the real Erik Lehnsherr, that ‘Charles’ wasn’t the Charles Xavier she’d known. She had no idea what exactly had happened, but she could tell whatever had happened — when Charles held Lehnsherr as he died or even before, when Lehnsherr pushed a coin into his head — it had also altered him: the brilliant light she had seen, had been drawn to, was now replaced with shadow. And the shadow was contagious.
With tremulous hand, she reached for her gun, only to have it snatched away to hover above Lehnsherr’s palm. Moira closed her eyes, anticipating a bullet between her brows. A swift death, if she could count on her luck. It never came, though; the gun was dismantled and its components dropped uselessly at Lehnsherr’s feet.
Moira saw Charles crossing a few steps to her. She forced herself to look into his ‘eyes’, clenching her fists hard enough to not feel the pain of her nails imprinting the meat of her palms. Her reflections stared back.
“Agent MacTaggert,” he said, “Moira. I could wipe your memory clean, and perhaps I should. The ‘me’ before today surely would do that.”
It was as if her heart had expanded in her chest, making it hard to breathe. Her worst fear, right before her eyes.
“For our safety, yes, even when the best option would be to kill you. After all, they had already decided you were collateral damage. However, I would not take your memory, nor would I kill you. You will stay here until they come to pick you up.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Erik was right. The humans proved him right.” His eyes appeared to be drilling into her face for a moment; she tried not to blink. “No more hiding was the last words his mind spoke to me. It’s time we stepped out of the shadow and made a new world.”
An ominous feeling made her stomach roil. She suppressed the bile rising in her throat.
Charles leaned into her face and whispered into her ears. Moira shook violently. He stepped back, lips stretching into a smile in other occasions she would find very charming, and put a finger to his temple.
Darkness put its frigid hand over her eyes and her consciousness was shut off.
Moira woke up with an IV stuck to her arm, into a world of war.
So, the white-haired Erik in this story is my version of Onslaught, who was born from Erik’s dying thoughts and Charles’s despair and consumed Erik’s body, absorbing all his powers. However, unlike in the comic, dark!Charles seems to have control over his ‘child’.