Antiochus Wept by Azurine
Date Completed December 11th, 2003
"Blessed are you our God, ruler of the world, who has given us life, sustained us, and has brought us to this season." -- Traditional Hanukkah blessing
"For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." -- Luke 19:10
The Savage Land
Charles poured himself a brandy and took a seat in the chair he thought of as his. It was one of the two comfortable chairs in front of Erik's fireplace, with room in between to stretch their legs, or set up a table for the chessboard. Pass the evenings in a civilized fashion, like a couple of old scholars warming their arthritis in front of the fire.
There was no fire this evening, no chess. And Erik hadn't said a word to him yet, beyond responding to his knock at the door.
It wasn't unheard of for Erik to miss the dinner hour, but it *was* unheard of for it to happen because he was sitting in his darkened quarters, staring into the cold fireplace and drinking his dinner from a brandy snifter.
"You were missed at dinner."
"Was I?" Erik's gaze rose from the fireplace to fix him with a look that felt like a dare as much as a question.
"Yes." He did not allow himself to be baited into saying more, because surely Erik was aware of the way the connection between them was changing, growing more intense in some ways as it weakened in others.
It was Erik's way to be confrontational, but Charles saw no use for it now, when nothing they did would alter the path they had chosen for themselves. His obsession with Erik had brought them this far; Erik's obsession with him would soon lead them the rest of the way.
The brandy swirled and spun in the snifter, flashing golden in the candlelight as he took a drink.
"I've been visiting ghosts this evening, I'm afraid," Erik said, motioning toward the mantle with his glass. "It's a pleasant change to have you for company instead."
Following Erik's gesture, Charles realized the light flickering forth from the mantle came from a single candle in a menorah.
Yes, it was December. Which meant nothing to him except passing thoughts of Moira and David, and Christmas presents he would not buy.
December also meant Hanukkah, and the menorah was more surprising than the realization that months had passed him by. It was unusual for Erik to mention, or even give a passing thought to, religious holidays or rituals.
"Tradition says the oil burned in the temple for eight days and nights," Erik said. "It was an act of God. An affirmation of their faith. A miracle." He paused, sipped, swirled. "We have a boy here who can do that with his bare hands."
Erik set his glass down and stood in front of the fireplace, staring at the candle.
"Your Christian God brought a man back from the dead," he said. "I don't believe we have anyone here who can do that. Yet." The candle flame danced and swayed to the rhythm of his words. "So I wonder, Charles, was God a mutant? Were we made in his image?"
Charles felt chill fingers creep up his spine at the question and all that Erik was most certainly implying with it. "Perhaps. I suspect you'll find that an unpopular opinion."
Erik nodded. "I imagine that's why humans resist us, even the idea of us. We turn their miracles into the mundane."
"Man naturally fears what is different. It has kept the species alive for eons."
"Man can be easily pacified with trinkets," Erik countered as he took a handful of small gold coins from his pocket. "Gelt," he said, holding them up for Charles to see. "Chocolate coins. They're given to children. These are expensive, and quite good. They would be wasted on a young boy who cannot fully appreciate their superiority."
Charles could only wonder where they had come from. It was hard to imagine Erik going out of his way to acquire such a thing.
Erik shuffled the coins from one hand to the other. "Candles. Bits of chocolate. Frankincense and yule logs. Man tends to sanctify the most ordinary of objects, don't you agree?" He carefully stacked the foil-wrapped coins next to the menorah. "Strange and wonderful things are happening around them every day, happening in their own homes, and yet they cling to their tired traditions, refuse to see that we bring the divine to their doorsteps."
He turned the last coin over in his hand, tilted his head as if searching the gilded treat for the answer to man's inexplicable love of the divine.
"We're going to change everything for them, change the meaning of it all. Their resistance will mean nothing, in the end. We will show them the truth behind their miracles."
The chill fingers were back. Charles chased the shiver with brandy.
"Faith is a powerful thing, Erik. And a hard habit to break. I think you'll find now, just as then, that it cannot be dictated or obliterated." He drained the last of his brandy and set the glass aside. "Men need their gods."
Erik slowly unwrapped the chocolate with sure fingers, leaving the foil in one piece on the mantle. He turned and looked down at him. "Is that so?"
Erik touched the edge of the chocolate coin to Charles's lower lip, encouraging him to take it. Charles parted his lips to accept what was offered, and Erik's voice was a whisper as he placed the sweet disk on his tongue.
"I will be your god, Charles."
The press of Erik's lips was firm and warm, his mouth determined and slow, rich with the smell of brandy.
After that it was all sensation, and Erik's voice in his head, cool and persuasive, twisting through his thoughts like a serpent, like his fingers through Erik's hair.
~We don't need them, Charles. For anything.~
It was Erik pressing him down onto the bed, tugging his shirt out of his pants, rising up to remove his own. Candlelight revealing a chest covered in pure white hair over skin with hardly a crease in it. The body of a much younger man, lean and firm and full of promise.
~Do not deny what you already know. You were created for me.~
It was exulting at the feel of Erik's hands between his legs, teasing him. Saying his name over and over as Erik's mouth sucked hard on him, and feeling something like gratitude when he came in Erik's fist.
Because what does any man want from his god but love and acceptance?
It was fingers clenching the sheets as Erik drove into him that first time, closing his teeth on his lip so he wouldn't tell him to stop. Reaching for Erik's thoughts, feeding off his gut-twisting pleasure, wanting to enjoy what he was doing to him.
Because what does any god want from man but obedience and devotion?
It was Erik's hips slamming fast in short strokes and then ramming deep. Quick throbbing stutter inside him, and feeling oddly victorious as Erik moaned and thrust and promised him everything he had to give and more.
~I can show you miracles. I can bring you power. I can give you the world. We will bow to no one.~
It was Erik's mouth pressing insistently between his shoulder blades, demanding more, because that was the way of his kind.
It was words he did not give voice to coming to Charles's mind from another time, another god.
'This is my body, which is given for you.'
Afterwards, Erik stroked the back of his neck, slowly and lightly. Like Charles was something well appreciated but nonetheless owned. Like he was rewarding a cat for finally consenting to be held on his lap.
~We are perfection, you and I. Few can match us, none can surpass us. We are what they wish they could be.~
He knew it was true, that Erik was a god. Complete with all the inherent weaknesses and conceits. For all his talk of evolution, he was no more advanced than the gods of times past, bestowing salvation through submission, revealing himself only upon surrender.
Gods had a tendency to be demanding and vengeful.
Man had a tendency to love them anyway.
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