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. Any other pieces of work you may recognize don't most likely belong to me either.
Pairing: Charles/Erik (+ Charles/Tony Stark, Charles/Loki, Loki/Mystique, Logan/Jean, 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: ...I really have no idea how this Charles/Loki thing got so out of hand, but they're kinda cute together, don't you think? ^^'
One thing was certain, that the WHITE kitten had had nothing to do with it:—it was the black kitten's fault entirely. For the white kitten had been having its face washed by the old cat for the last quarter of an hour (and bearing it pretty well, considering); so you see that it COULDN'T have had any hand in the mischief.
When Charles opens his eyes he finds himself lying on his back on the floor.
“Stay down,” the face nearest to his own orders gently (Nurse Grey, he pictures after a few blinks). Erik’s face is frowning at him from further above, and Loki is holding his legs up by his ankles. “You can let go now,” Grey informs his roommate, who carefully eases the limbs in question back to a horizontal position.
“Take a deep breath. Are you hurt?”
Charles considers this but decides that he isn’t and shakes his head slowly. (Bad decision.)
“Could you please follow my finger with just your eyes?”
Charles does, but Grey’s finger doesn’t do anything uncanny.
“Do you feel dizzy?”
“Not really. I don’t know… what happened.”
Grey nods firmly and takes a hold of his forearm. “If you think you can stand let’s take you to your bed.”
The room spins just a little when he gets up and his legs are working just fine, but Grey supports him from the other and Loki from the other side during the short walk.
His bed still isn’t comfortable, but it’s considerably nicer now that he has tested the floor.
“We need to take your blood sample anyway so let’s get it over with. I’ll be back in a minute.”
Loki helps him to adjust his pillow, casually sits on the edge of his bed and gives a light pat on his chest. “I should have guessed that you’re a drama queen.”
Charles smiles a little. “Did I do anything… embarrassing?”
“Not really, you just slumped and fell to the floor in kind of a slow motion.” He hesitates a moment before adding. “In fact, Lehnsherr was there to soften the fall if not to catch you in time. Maybe he felt guilty.”
Loki bends closer to whisper the words into his ear, and Charles can’t help but notice just how good he smells. “I think he was trying to suck out your soul.”
Charles must look puzzled since Loki leans back and his dead-serious face soon cracks into a smile accompanied by a chuckle.
“Okay, would you take that cardigan off your other arm?” Grey asks while she’s still walking in, her every motion telling a tale of efficiency. “And Loki, dear, you can cuddle him later.”
Loki gets up and throws an encouraging smile over his shoulder before leaving the room.
“Have you passed out before?”
Charles holds out his arm and watches as Grey makes the preparations and sticks a needle in his vein. “A couple of times, but before it has been for a reason. Lack of air, usually.”
“It’s most likely a perfectly harmless case of low blood sugar, but better to check it out anyway. You could try and take a little nap.”
Charles doesn’t have to try very hard.
This time he wakes up to Darwin shaking his shoulder. “It’s dinner time.”
Loki is literally beaming at the sight of him. Erik (who is obviously accompanying them to the dining hall this time) nods. Alex and Bruce pay no remarkable attention.
“You fainted!” Sean informs him with a wide grin. “I thought only princesses faint!”
“Sometimes princes faint too. It’s not a big deal,” Loki assures the ginger. “You feeling better?”
“I’m okay, thank you,” Charles answers, hoping that Thor would get the damned door open and that he’d be spared from further humiliation over his girly traits.
“Is Charles a prince?” Sean asks in awe, his cocky expression taking a turn towards appreciating.
“Of course he is,” Loki snaps pretty convincingly. “There’s even a book about him. He comes from another planet entirely. He likes sheep. And airplanes.”
“Do I?” Charles whispers to Loki, but the given information is clearly enough to keep Sean occupied and thoughtful for a while since he trots ahead muttering something to Mister Marvel’s fluffy ear.
“You could. But to be honest, I think you’re more of a traditional Snow White.”
Charles catches himself elbowing Loki in the ribs, is momentarily stunned by the realization of using such friendly gestures towards someone who’s practically a stranger, and decides to worry about it later when Loki laughs and throws an arm over his shoulders.
Charles wonders if three times in the same table makes him a regular. Erik and Bruce share a smaller table in the corner but manage to project a clear image of both of them eating alone.
“Ladies and gentlemen - oh, well, just gentlemen - it’s the Let the Crazy People Express Their Feelings in a Non-Destructive Way time of the month!” Loki exclaims cheerfully when they get back to the ward and there are two people chatting with Darwin. The other one is a smallish man around his twenties and the other a tiny elderly lady.
“Don’t say crazy, pumpkin,” the woman scolds gently, actually pinching Loki’s cheek when he gets close enough. “It’s an ugly word. Oh, hello, you must be new.” She looks at Charles as if taking his measures for a Christmas present sweater.
“Charles Xavier,” he says, hoping he’s looking presentable, and shakes her hand.
“Nice to meet you, Charles. I’m May Parker, and this one here is Kurt Wagner. We come here twice a month to do some arts with you.”
The man shakes Charles’ hand too but looks like a deer in the headlights with his huge eyes darting everywhere.
“They are volunteers from some church, I’m not sure which one,” a low voice says very near to Charles’ ear when the duo’s attention is turned back to Darwin. He doesn’t jump but dislikes the idea of how easily Erik has crept behind him. “Be nice and they might even say a prayer for you.”
“I’m not that religious myself, but how nice of them.”
Erik might chuckle, or maybe he’s imagining things (again).
Thor (who looks way too amused by the situation) keeps watch at the door when they are gathered to the art room and everyone is provided with an easel and a canvas and the necessary equipment for some oil painting. It seems that Kurt Wagner’s role is to do the teaching and May Parker’s to circle around them patting their backs and saying kind words of encouragement.
Charles knows far too well that he cannot draw, let alone paint, to save his life.
“This time we are going to capture time itself,” Wagner begins his heavily accented (German?) instructions. “What is time? How does it affect us? What does it mean to us? Where does it show? Feel free to use your imagination. Interpret. Think, but don’t think too much. Try to capture the feelings time brings up in you.”
Charles is not sure if he’s ever felt this ridiculous in his life, but Loki beside him in the back row is already tipping his brush to the paint and giving him a wink. “Don’t think too much, it’s not like we’re heading into any National Gallery. Free your mind.”
He remembers the top hat he didn’t take with him.
He cautiously takes a little bit of black paint to his brush and clumsily scribbles the numbers 1962 on the canvas.
“Oh, that’s an interesting approach!” May Parker (“Just call me Aunt May, everyone does.”) assures him when she’s walking by. “Very good, Charles, keep going!”
He changes to green and adds, in a smaller print, the numbers 1692 under the first ones. Then 2961 above them in red. And he keeps going like that, changing the combination, and when he remembers the good old grandfather paradox he’s sure he’ll have a headache after all.
After forty minutes he has a canvas full of numbers in different colors. He wipes his brush and takes a peek at Loki’s artwork. “Is there something you can’t do?”
It’s a rather stunning sunset over a seaside view: red and yellow and orange and purple, sharp cliffs, little waves caused by the same wind that’s pulling the grass at the bottom of the scenery. It’s beautiful.
“I suck at team sports. And I can’t cook.” Loki brushes the side of his nose and leaves a purple stain there. “Can I see yours?”
Charles grimaces but lets Loki have a look.
“I actually like it. It’s very you.”
“You have known me for twenty-four hours, so I think it’s a little early to tell. But thanks.”
“I judge people during the first hour anyway. I’m never wrong. And I like you.”
Charles takes a napkin from his pocket and carefully wipes the paint from Loki’s nose. He winces but pokes Charles’ nose gently with his finger in return.
“I guess…” Charles begins but has to clear his throat before continuing. “I guess this is the point where I should feel awkward about getting handsy on my madhouse roommate.”
“Don’t worry, sweetie,” Loki laughs but lowers his voice. “In the staff’s books I’m Mister Touchy-Feely, so as long as it’s me you occupy your hands with you’re not gonna get any extra pervert points for being queer.”
Charles takes a quick look at Thor but the man is talking with Aunt May and not paying attention to them.
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“I’ll finish this one here, but you really should sneak around and see what the others have done. It can be… enlightening to say at least.”
Obediently Charles takes a look around. Alex is carefully covering the last corner of the canvas with the same red as the rest of the work; Logan’s vision is a surprisingly detailed tank running over a decapitated body; Sean has painted a hedgehog with a lime green bowler hat; Erik is finishing a simple but elegant bridge over a river; Bruce’s work looks like a cellular structure of something big and vicious.
After two hours of painting and a supper at the TV room Charles takes his pajamas and towel with him and goes to take a shower.
Bruce is leaving as he comes in and he’s left alone. There are three benches, three sinks with mirrors and three showers separated by thin walls. He strips of his clothes and steps into the last one, wincing when the first splash comes out ice cold before the water warms up.
Charles rubs soap over himself, resisting the urge to grip a hand around his cock and wank some of his tensions away.
When Erik walks in just as he turns off the water he’s glad of his willpower.
He freezes (even though it’s not panicking as much as hesitation), just for a moment, but it is a moment long enough for Erik to raise an eyebrow, pick up Charles’ towel from the bench and throw it at him.
“Thanks,” he mutters and is definitely not peeking as the other man starts peeling off his clothes. He’s seen it, after all, even when he really hasn’t.
Charles aims towards his pajamas but is stopped midway by Erik’s grip on his forearm. Their eyes meet, and it offers Charles some consolation that he’s not the only one confused here.
“The… earlier today. The chess. What was that?” Erik clearly has to force the words out (the question “did you see it too or am I this much insane?” can still be read on his face).
“I don’t know. I… really don’t know.”
I know what you mean but I don’t know what that means.
They both jerk back a little and Erik lets his arm go, reorganizing himself first. “Well, thank you, anyway. I guess. And I’m sorry for yesterday.”
There’s a moment of total loss for words or any relevant actions, but finally Charles tears his gaze off Erik’s eyes (the color is amazing but he has no name for it) and makes it to his clothing, definitely not fleeing even if he gets dressed faster than ever before in his life and does not look back.
Charles fetches his little white pill from Darwin and gets a glimpse of the night-time warden who seems to wear sunglasses with reddish lenses. Maybe it’s a fashion statement of some sort, because most of the lights are already turned off, or maybe one has to be a little crazy to be able to work in a place like Shaw’s.
Their room is illuminated only by two little lamps at their bedsides, and Loki is lying on his bed with a book in his hands. Charles hesitates, but sits at the end of Loki’s bed instead of his own. The other man provides a bookmark out of nowhere and puts the book (Crime and Punishment) aside and looks curious but waits for Charles to speak first.
“How do I know which things here are real and which are… just crazy?”
“Oh, sweetheart,” Loki sighs and sits up, folding his legs gracefully underneath himself. He’s wearing silk pajamas of dark green with some gold embroidery, and he’s pretty enough to wear them with dignity. “Real doesn’t rule crazy out.”
“How do I know if it’s the person or their illness talking?” Charles’ attempted smile turns into a small grimace. “And with that Pseudologia thingy of yours, how do I know when you are lying and when you are for real?”
“You just know; or then you don’t and you have to accept it. As for me… would I lie to such a sweet prince as you?” Loki’s touch is without a doubt meant as a quick brush of his thumb over Charles’ cheek but extends to lingering on the side of his face. “Sure I would. But not everything I say is a lie; they say it’s just hard for me to keep different worlds apart from each other. And you…” When Charles doesn’t object (hell; he leans into the soft-skinned long fingers and within a few seconds he’s gone from torn to keeping himself from purring) Loki brings his free hand to cup the other side of his face and shifts a little closer. “You. There’s something about you. But don’t trust me; trust yourself. You’ll understand.”
The color of Loki’s huge eyes under thin straight black eyebrows isn’t hard to determine at all; it’s stunningly green. Charles knows there should be a voice in his head screaming by now (no, no, no, no!), and he even tries to summon it, but it’s nowhere to be heard, and he leans in to rest his forehead against Loki’s. “No offence, my friend, but I don’t understand. What is it about you?”
Loki’s breath is so very warm on Charles’ lips, and so is his thumb as he runs it over them. His voice is soft, pleasant: mesmerizing. “Imagine that everywhere you go, every group of people you spend time with… Imagine that they’re different worlds, and in each and every one of them you play a different part. Unlike the rest of you, I actually enjoy it here; this is a world I can control.”
“What do you mean by control?” Charles finds his breath hitching in his throat. “You think you’re pulling the strings here?”
“Do you feel like being pulled?”
When Loki strokes his hair Charles' body knows only one way to react; he closes the distance between their lips. Loki smiles but kisses him back, inhaling sharply through his nose when Charles’ hands come to rest on his thighs, then to caress them, his fingers curling to the soft fabric of his pajama bottoms. He tilts his head and allows Charles to deepen the kiss, to suck on his bottom lip, to bring their tongues to sweep against each other.
It’s a very perfect kiss, and Charles feels a warm fluttering in his stomach even when Loki gently pulls back, still stroking his hair.
“You’ll understand,” Loki whispers, planting yet another kiss, this time a brief and chaste one, on his forehead before letting go. “Good night, my sweet prince.”
“Good night, you mischievous creature.” Charles moves to his own bed and they turn off the lights simultaneously.