Author: punahukka / Jester
Fandom: X-Men (First Class): Girl, Interrupted/Sucker Punch AU (featuring an ensemble of other Marvel characters)
Disclaimer: Playing with Marvel’s toys in Susanna Kaysen’s, James Mangold’s and Zack Snyder’s sandboxes.
Pairing: Charles/Erik (+ Charles/Tony Stark, Loki/Mystique, various others)
Warnings: mental illnesses, mentions of child-abuse and suicide (attempted and committed), language, sex, violence, alcohol and drug abuse, cross-dressing, era-specific homophobia and racism, screwed timelines
Summary: Have you ever confused reality with a dream or a good story? Or a bad one? Have you ever stood on a bridge and not jumped because you cannot trust the laws of the physics and you’re afraid of the ever after? Have you ever been kissed? Have you ever been kissed like a frog and not turned into anything at all? Have you ever met anyone you know from another life or timeline than this?
A mental institution AU for this prompt @ xmen_firstkink.
A/N: Can't remember the last time I've had so much fun writing a fic. But oh, don't worry, it's getting darker. A longer chapter this time; I blame Mr. Stark who just refused to stay as a background character.
Feedback: Please! I'd love to know if you're reading. ^^
Lions, and tigers, and bears! Oh, my!
The Wizard of Oz
After his somewhat confusing confrontation with Emma Frost he manages to go back to sleep for an hour before Nurse Grey wakes him up with a loud knock and a ”Charles, you have a phone call!”
He wonders if the caller is still waiting at the other end by the time he drags himself to a booth (or more like a closet with a phone in it) down the hall yawning and rubbing his eyes.
”Hello, beautiful,” a voice purrs. ”I know we jumped into things a little fast but don’t you think that escaping to a madhouse counts as overreacting? The Europe trip still stands but it’s not like I want to have your physically impossible babies or anything.”
Charles finds himself smiling, sleepiness suddenly swept aside. “Tony Stark, this is a pleasant surprise.” It is; in any other situation he would be banging his head to a wall over one-night stands calling after him, but it’s been over twelve hours in Shaw’s and he has already questioned the existence of the outside world.
“I ran to your charming step-brother last night. He was kind enough to inform me about your whereabouts.”
So much for the smile. “You met Cain?”
“Indeed I did. Those nasty things he was saying about you! But don’t worry, I defended your honor like a man.”
“I kicked him in the balls and ran like the wind.”
“I believe you can hear me just fine. But it’s not that caveman step-brother of yours I wanted to talk about.”
“He’s gonna kill you. In fact, he’s gonna kill both of us. And then dig up our bodies and resurrect them and then kill us again.”
“From what I gathered during that short encounter I think he wants to kill us anyway, so no harm done there. But how are you?”
Charles takes a moment to consider. “Tired. Confused. Fucked-up. A little drugged.”
“Do you want me to get you out of there?”
He sighs, rubbing a hand through his hair. “I think I’ll stay for a while and see if there’s a point to this. I don’t know. The staff seems sane enough. The other patients are nutcases, clearly, but I have a decent roommate.” He doesn’t mention being attacked by a fellow patient right after his arrival.
“A hot roommate?”
“More cute than hot. Cheekbones sharp enough to cut yourself on.”
“So you’ve taken notice. Any hot nurses?”
“I bet a redheaded one would be if I dared to look twice, but there’s a bloke who’ll probably break my arms and legs and cut off my dick if I do.”
“And for a moment I actually thought that you might be straight.”
“I fucked you, didn’t I?”
“Hell, I’d fuck me if I had the chance. I really don’t think it’s about who you fuck.”
“Yeah, I guess it ain’t.”
There’s a pause before Tony huffs and says: “I don’t think this is about fucking either. Not that I wouldn’t like to tell you to come over and go down on you right now if you weren’t otherwise occupied, but, you know. I really like you, Charles. In a totally… intellectual way.” There’s another pause. “That didn’t sound too intellectual, huh? More like a creepy stalker. It’s not like I have a crush on you or anything, it’s just… Oh, for fuck’s sake, Xavier, speak up before I embarrass myself even further.”
Charles finds the smile again, this time a little laughter escaping his lips with it. “I like you too, Tony. In a totally intellectual way. And I would really enjoy you going down on me.”
“You ever had phone sex, Xavier?” Obviously it doesn’t take Tony too long to recover from an emotional outburst and take the conversation back to a safer ground.
“There’s no way in hell I’m jerking off for you in a phone booth in a mental hospital, Stark. But I promise to think about you when I do. Jerk off, I mean.” He’s met the guy once and run away, so the whole situation doesn’t make much sense to him, but this is the kind of attention (affection?) he can handle. “I’m not sure how people do it around here, to be honest. With the shared rooms and limited shower times.” This is more than he has talked in days, and it feels strangely comfortable.
“You’re one big cock-tease, you know that?”
“I know nothing of such things. I was told a lot of things about myself this morning, though. Had my first appointment with my shrink.”
“Cool. Was he any good?”
“She. I don’t know yet. But I would like to ask you a favor. Now that you sought me out from my hiding place.”
“Anything within my power.” And that’s quite a lot of power the Stark family possesses.
“Her name is Emma Frost, and I have this feeling I should know her from somewhere. Could you be a darling and dig up some information about her?”
“You got it, darling. In fact, Frost sounds familiar. Shouldn’t be too hard.”
“What have you been up to anyway? I get uneasy talking about myself all the time.”
“I made this model I was hoping I could show you, but I guess it has to wait. Other than that, I have to go back to L.A. tomorrow. But they have phones there too, you know, so can I call you in a couple of days? About the Frost thing. And… just call you.”
“That would be nice.”
“I’m sending a comforting mental squeeze on that perfect ass of yours.”
“Hugs and kisses. With just a little bit of tongue.”
“That almost counts as phone sex, Xavier. I’ll get back to you.”
“Looking forward to it.”
“Take care of yourself, baby.”
Charles hangs up, feeling a bit light in the head. He almost considers fulfilling his promise to Tony right away but settles for fetching some clothes from his room and taking a cold shower.
Charles has lunch with Loki, Sean, Alex and Raven, Raven making the rest of them laugh with her over-dramatic summary of the girls’ Cluedo match the night before.
“I wouldn’t have thought they let you play it here,” Charles admits when the story has ended and Colonel Mustard has been found guilty. “I mean, bad influence or something?”
“Depends on the sense of humor of the nurses,” Loki grins. “We had the game at our ward, too, but it was banned after Victor Creed got mad after he lost and ate all the pieces.”
“Who’s Victor Creed? Is he still here?”
“He was moved to Eight, praised be the gods, when he was trying to rip Logan’s throat out. Eight’s for hopeless cases.”
“How was… I mean, is, or was Logan okay?”
The guys exchange a look before Loki shrugs: “Logan would have killed Victor within a minute if Thor hadn’t knocked him out.”
Inspired by the conversation they dig up Scrabble from the small bookshelf of the TV room and set it up.
“I think I and Mister Marvel will just watch,” Sean says happily, nodding to his ever-present teddy-bear.
Charles is relieved that he doesn’t have to explain the kid why he wouldn’t like to play with a stuffed toy. When Alex passes too and curls up on a couch with a magazine Loki summons Logan and the small dark guy who introduces himself as Bruce Banner.
After three rounds it is rather obvious that Loki is unbeatable, Charles and Bruce struggle for the second place, and Logan is going to lose miserably.
On round six, however, they have a heated argument about whether or not Loki is allowed to turn Logan’s “rag” into “Ragnaroek”.
“It’s totally acceptable to replace an ö with an oe since your alphabet doesn’t have it!” Loki claims passionately and tries to look offended by their doubts.
“Our alphabet? So suddenly you’re not an English speaker?” Charles wonders.
“My family migrated to America in the 900’s, so I’m practically still Norwegian.”
“What does it even mean?” Logan grunts. “I wasn’t allowed to make words up!”
“Ragnarök comes from Norse mythology, I guess?” Bruce thinks out loud.
“It does,” Loki says. “It means the end of the world.”
“Jean!” Logan bellows, and a red halo of hair peeks from the nurses’ room. “You have a dictionary in there don’t you?”
“Could you please check if Ragnarök’s in there?” Charles cuts in since Nurse Grey’s frown doesn’t promise anything good for Logan.
“Just a minute,” she sigs, shaking her head. When she comes back, she’s still shaking her head. “Nope, no Ragnarök in the Oxford edition.”
Loki puts on a martyr-like pout and turns the “rag” into “dragon” instead.
Despite the end of the world Loki beats their asses and takes his victory parade with a surprising amount of dignity even when it contains Logan throwing the taller but much lighter, cheering man over his shoulder and spinning him around the room until they both collapse on a couch.
Charles collects the tiles back in the box with Bruce’s help and walks over to put the game back from whence it came. There are other games too, some of which he is familiar with and some of which he isn’t. There is also a collapsible chess board which he carefully picks up; it’s dusty but the pieces are rattling inside.
“Does anyone of you play?”
When he turns around, he glimpses Bruce’s back disappearing around the corner, Sean muttering something to Mister Marvel and Loki coughing and untangling himself from Logan’s lap; all of the fuzz obviously caused by Erik Lehnsherr’s sudden arrival.
Charles’ body wants to shrink under the man’s gaze but he forces himself to stand straight and meet his eyes. Erik’s wearing a grey jumpsuit (they seem to be a trend here, Charles has been given one too), he’s shaved and combed his hair back and the bruise on his forehead is barely visible. And for now he’s not shouting at Charles or pushing him around.
All eyes in the room are fixed on him as he chooses a smaller table than they’ve used before and pulls an armchair closer to it. Erik accompanies him with another chair.
“I’ll play white,” Charles says, just to say something when they start setting up the board, and maybe just a bit because he wants to have at least one first move.
Erik nods and starts to organize the black pieces. “Time limit?”
The curve of Erik’s lips might too easily be mistaken for a smile. “Can I bum one?” he asks when Charles fishes a cigarette from his pocket.
“Sure.” He even lights it for Erik, reaching out to pick up an ashtray from the next table. Then he tries very hard to ignore the muttering going on in the background and moves his first pawn.
A cold, oh so cold, cloudy day is turning into a night of a hellish blizzard.
After feeding the animals (three hens, a goat and a small funny-looking cow) Charles bolts the door (there are creatures in these mountains that don’t mind the weather when they’re hunting) and hurries back inside his small cottage. He adds more wood to the fire, light two more candles and settles at the table to read a book he’s ordered from another town and waited for for three weeks.
His family says he’s crazy, staying the winter in the village when he could come back to the mansion and not worry about freezing or starving to death if the roads are cut off by snow and he’s stuck until spring.
The villagers address him as Professor but some of the old folks mutter “witch” under their breaths when he comes back from the woods bags stuffed with plants and roots and branches and a pile of notes.
“There are no plants in the winter, Charles.”
“Then I’ll have time to write.”
The reason he really stays? The people around here are so very quiet. They think what they say and say what they think, and for someone like him it’s a blessing.
The wind howls like a beast (and the beasts mask their bloodlust howling like the wind) and the snow keeps lashing at the windows.
It must be getting close to midnight when the uneasy feeling strikes him like a bucket of cold water. Charles shivers, glancing at the door.
There is a voice, determined but crackling, yet it is not in his ears but in his head. And for once in his life he doesn’t feel the instant need to shut it down.
It is not a call for help; it’s anger and sadness and hate and acknowledging that there’s no-one to help.
Charles’ feet are moving much faster than his brain cells. He gets a lantern from the cupboard and lights it. He puts on his boots and the thickest cape he has over his coat. His gloves are wool, made by one of the wives in the village. He reaches for his top hat but abandons the idea as absurd, drawing the hood of the red cape over his head instead.
The wind stings his face trying to bite through the delicious pale flesh (you’re soft, you don’t belong here). He can see the tree line downhill from his door and the lights of his nearest neighbor but other than that it’s just dark and white tangled in a furious dance. “Is anybody there?”
He has spent so many years trying not to that it is hard to reach out with his mind at first.
Regret. So this is how it ends.
Charles would run but there’s too much snow. He struggles forwards, clinging to the other mind that’s out there alone and freezing.
I can’t feel my hands anymore.
The wind tugs his cape with icy fingers (come play with us, silly boy) and his face goes numb soon enough but he keeps going, to the woods, not so far but still too far to recognize there’s a village almost in the person’s reach.
He doesn’t know how long he walks but he keeps calling out. The other voice is fading and Charles feels a rush of panic, hurrying his steps even more.
Then, finally, he almost walks over the other man. He’s curled under two trees growing side by side.
The man manages to look up as Charles kneels by his side. For whatever reason the man is shirtless, and after getting over the notion Charles realizes his hands are tied together by the wrists with a thick rope.
You need to get up.
The man’s eyes go wide in the pitiful light of the lantern and he tries to speak but his teeth are clattering and he’s shaking too violently. Charles takes off his cape and hastily wraps it around the other man.
Who are you?
Charles Xavier, and you, my friend, need to get up. I’ll take you out of here.
What are you? But it’s not fear; it’s awe. Charles digs just a little deeper, and -
Oh. I’m like you, or so it would seem. The pure rush of joy is however swept aside by reason, and he offers his hand to help the man on his feet (gladly he has his boots on).
Erik. His name is Erik.
“What… are you… doing here?” The words are barely audible. They really need to get moving.
“I heard you. I came looking for you. We’re only a stone’s throw away from the village.”
This lights a small glint of hope in Erik’s eyes, and he tugs the cape around himself more tightly. Charles is beyond relieved to find out that he can still walk, and they begin their slow journey back to his home (his tracks have almost been covered by the snow already), Charles supporting Erik when his newly-found determination threatens to falter.
Charles closes and locks the door behind them, helping Erik who is exhausted enough to pass out to sit on the edge of his bed.
“We need to get you warm,” he excuses as he pulls the cape off of Erik’s shoulders and replaces it with two blankets. Then he gets a knife (Erik immediately becomes more alert) and cuts the rope from his hands.
He runs back outside (the wind whistles even more angrily than before, disappointed when its victims have found their way back to safety) to fill a cauldron with snow and hangs it over the fireplace, adding more logs for the hungry flames to feed on. “Can I take off your boots? We’ll have warm water to put your feet into soon enough.”
Erik nods but bends down to do the task for himself. Meanwhile Charles gets rid of his own boot and coat. He tries not to but blushes anyway when he says: “In fact you’d better take off your pants too, they must soaking wet soon.”
Mechanically Erik does without questioning the logic, and Charles’ eyes dart from the ceiling to the windows until he’s sure the other man has covered his private parts with the blankets.
The next hour he spends thinking nothing but saving his guest’s life, rejoicing in silence when the color begins to return to his cheeks and when he eats what Charles has to offer him.
“What were you doing out there?” he blurts when Erik doesn’t look dying anymore as much as dead-tired.
Erik fixes his eyes on him, looking thoughtful. “You wouldn’t believe me.” He has a pleasant voice under the hoarseness.
“Oh, I’m willing to give it a try.”
“I have been Shaw’s prisoner since I was a young boy. A few winters back I escaped.” When Charles doesn’t object, he continues. “Now I have been hunting him down in order to have my revenge on him for slaughtering my family. I was stupid; one of his minions caught me and dropped me here, believing that the blizzard would kill me for them.”
“But… Shaw?” Shaw is a legend, a boogey-man they use to scare children to behave, the evil count residing in his castle up in the mountains, commanding the beasts and preying on humans.
“He is very much real, yes. He wanted me to join him because of my… the things I can do.”
Charles opens his mouth to tell the man that he’s clearly knocked his head on something; then he remembers that he can read people’s minds. What he finally manages to get out is: “At least you are safe now. Try to get some sleep, I think I’ll stay up for a while longer.”
Erik looks like he would like to protest, to be a gentleman and not to rob Charles of his bed, but the exhaustion is getting the better of him and he simply nods.
“The pleasure is all mine.”
Charles doesn’t keep watch for long after Erik has fallen asleep but follows him to the dreamland hunched at the table with a book as his pillow.
Charles wakes up to a knocking on the door. Every muscle in his body is screaming as he gets up and limps to see who it is; half of his brain is clearly still asleep since he is pulling the door open before he remembers Erik.
He wakes up fully to his own yelp; behind him he hears Erik springing up from the bed; in front of him there is a tall monster thoroughly covered in blue fur.
The monster looks startled (and also a little like a lion on two feet) and lifts its paws as if to show that it is not armed (with anything else than its claws). “Please, good sir, do not shout.”
Charles risks a glimpse over his shoulder and finds out that at least he has a naked man with a kitchen knife to defend him.
“What… what do you want?”
“I would be very pleased if you let me in. I don’t want the villagers to get upset.” The creature scratches its head and looks so bothered by the situation that Charles starts to regret his first reaction. “I’m Doctor Beast. I believe that you are Professor Xavier and Mister Lehnsherr. I need to talk with you.”
“Who sent you?” Erik barks when Charles steps aside and lets the enormous Doctor in before quickly shutting the door. (It’s still dark outside; the sun has not yet risen.)
“Oh. That would be the White Queen, although it was my idea to seek you out. It’s quite delightful that you have already found each other.”
Charles quickly comes to the conclusion that there’s no point telling the creature that the White Queen is just as imaginary as Shaw. Still; he but may be able to read minds, and Erik may be able to manipulate metal objects, but this is a bit much even for them. “I’m sorry, but… what are you?”
Doctor Beast turns to look at him, and Charles finds that he has a surprisingly gentle look in his yellow eyes. “I’m like you. You are lucky to have your powers sealed within you.”
Erik slowly lowers the knife pointed to the creature before them and decides to regain decency and puts on his pants. “What do you want?” he growls at the Doctor.
“I would be glad to help you.”
Charles looks up at Erik who blinks a few times as if to remember how on earth he has cornered Charles’ pieces to a point where he cannot move.
Charles has no idea, either, but there are black spots dancing in his vision, and he sees a suddenly blurry Erik jumping up from his chair and feels a sting of embarrassment just before he faints.