redders: (bored lou reed)
[personal profile] redders
Even as he comes upon the roof, the flames are licking ever higher, smoke coiling and blotting out the sky.

"Charles!" he shouts once more, voice broken from the fire, from his calling. The soot clings, immersed in his every pore, smothering his breath. His sole comfort is that the house is now an empty one, that Magda escaped with Anya when the first tendrils of smoke were seen.

He shan’t see either of them again. The madness of this house has always been deeper than Erik even suspected, himself. He’s tarnished with it utterly, and his greatest failing shall always be imagining that he could escape it—that he could have a wife, a child, a life not unlike any man of his station.


Any word spoken is now a blade in his throat, his eyes failing and useless in this inferno.

Knowing he won’t see Magda again, that she and his child are safe—that knowledge strengthens his press onward. He may well perish, his powers useless against the surrounding blaze, but he cannot leave his first spouse to this fate.

"Charles! Please—" and he coughs, blinking to try and clear his sight, hoping this isn’t illusion.

He never should have suspected Charles to be anywhere else. Madness, after all, has its own pattern and design.

"Darling," Charles purrs, turning. Erik’s pulse hammers in his throat. Charles sounds as charming as the day they first met, he speaks clearly and moves fluidly, like a man not standing on the very edge of a roof.

"Get away from there," Erik demands, stepping closer. It’s become difficult to make out finer features, but it is hardly any matter. He can make out just enough of Charles, lit from the flames: his silhouette dark against the surrounding night, the torn chemise, the hollow glint in his eyes.

Charles moves backward, a little half-step that brings his heels to the edge and Erik’s breath to a stop.

Damn him, Charles just laughs. “Why? Haven’t you noticed, there’s a fire, my love. We need to get out,” he sings. He sounds calm, voice unmarred by the smoke, and Erik wishes it was this sort of madness that had stained him. This, the inability to fear, when all the world becomes but terror and ash.

"That was my every intent," Erik says, reaching out for Charles. His palms are split and bleeding, but he cannot feel them now, for all that matters is bringing Charles away from the ledge. "Come, let’s go."

For a heartbeat, Charles does not reach out. The entirety of Erik’s body tenses, prepared to lunge should Charles complete the act, but in a moment’s time Charles is in his arms.

Letting Charles clutch him and whisper delighted nothings, Erik brings his own arms slowly around Charles’s shoulders, trying desperately to formulate his next step. He is shocked enough that he found Charles alive, more so that Charles is apparently willing to stay as such.

Perhaps the latter is merely as they’re doomed to the fire, he thinks with bitterness. It is utterly surreal, as it is each time, to have Charles in his arms in this manner. The grip of broad hands on his waistcoat, the tickle of hair against his jaw—it would be very like how it was when they first met, when Charles had not yet been given over to his voices, save for the desperation in those hands, the matting and length of that hair.

"You mean it," Charles says, with all the surety of his power.

"Yes," Erik replies, brushing one ruined hand heedless against the side of Charles’s head. The hair is uneven, singed from the blaze. "I do. Now, we must make haste."

Again, Charles giggles. It is a cold sound, chilling to the very bone even when one is surrounded by flame, and Erik stills.

"Oh, yes," Charles says to him, clenching his fists tighter. "Yes, my dear heart, we must," and before he can react, Charles takes the last step back.

Pulled along, the plummet is endless. There is no power left in his voice to scream, no strength even in his soul to curse Charles or his murderous insanity. He falls, and falls, keeping his eyes closed and thinking of Magda and Anya, thinking of the happy day when he first wed the man who would become this demon in his arms.

The fact is, he would but only welcome the impact. Their bones shattering alongside the ruins of his home, it would only be just and right.

But there is no righteousness in this world, nor justice. He has never been anything more than a coward, a pathetic animal, and like any animal his will is for survival. His powers unfurl outward, reaching deeper into the cruel earth to find a core hidden, and their fall comes to an unexpected conclusion.

Startled, Erik holds himself and Charles suspended, immobile. Charles is motionless in his arms, speechless and unblinking, as if stunned.

Slowly Erik lowers them both to the ground, and it is then, the moment his feet touch the earth, that Charles awakens.

"You’re a fool," he laughs, releasing Erik only to grab him again, wrenching at his shoulder and arm, throwing him to the ground.

There is no fight left in him. His ribs ache from the struggle for air amidst soot, his hands smart from pulling aside that damnable smoldering door, when he opens his eyes he can see nothing at all—not even Charles, who is astride him, slapping and clawing at his face.

"Lensherr! Goddamned worthless fool! You should have let me die, you should have let me die when you had the chance," he screams, and Erik finds just enough energy to hold his wrists, stopping the weakening blows.

"You’re a fool," Charles whimpers once more. Now, his voice is breaking. Should he but reach for Charles’s face, Erik knows he would feel tears. "Now I won’t let you go, now you shan’t ever be free."

Squeezing at the thin bones of Charles’s wrists, Erik fights to catch his breath. The darkness of Charles’s mind is spreading, thick as smoke.

"I never was," he wheezes.

Magda and Anya are safe, and no one died. And if Erik is honest with himself, there is a hideous sort of comfort in this, too. He and Charles have not been torn apart, and perhaps they never shall.
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