Parallel Lines by Azurine
Date Completed March 28th, 2003
One of his most vivid memories is of the stapler.
The stapler was ancient. Old and heavy and well-used. When he set it back down on the desk, Erik gave it barely a glance, but it moved. Millimeters, just a hair's breadth. Just enough to be perfectly parallel with the edge of the legal pad next to it. Everything on his desk set at precise angles. Clean and orderly and perfect.
Erik always spent a good deal of time making all the pieces fit into place. Back then, Charles didn't realize he was one of the pieces.
Erik lives in a world of sharp corners and jagged edges and right angles. His powers are employed effortlessly, but the results are spectacular. He waves his hand, and steel bends to his whim. Concrete and glass crumple and fall around him. Everyone knows it, can see it.
Charles manipulates the smooth contours of the mind, a subtle and quiet force that can yield the same results, the same destruction, if he nudges the right person the right way. He can tiptoe into someone's mind, brush against their thoughts, and no one ever knows the difference.
With Erik, you always know the difference.
It was a decision that was no decision at all, leaving everything else behind to be with Erik. His mission, his goals, his entire philosophy--these were the ideals Charles knew he was meant to live up to. The dream he was meant to fulfill. And they could do it, together. Or have the time of their lives trying.
And there was *so much* time together. Talking for hours and God, he can't even remember a fraction of what they said, but he knows he hung on every word. Erik pouring him another cup off coffee at dinner, fuel for conversation. Then pouring him another glass of the ever-present cordial after dinner, thick and syrupy. Sipping it slowly, making it last, because when he finished the glass they would turn in for the night. And the glass somehow getting full again.
Lingering in the study until they were both hoarse from speaking, both nodding off in their chairs. And then watching Erik retreat down the hall to his room. Tall and straight-backed, even when he was on the brink of exhaustion. Not wanting him to walk away, wishing there were more. Not sure what kind of more, but wishing for it.
Erik showing up in his room before breakfast, anxious for the day to begin. Stretching the days, starting them earlier and ending them later. Sleeping less, living more.
Everything slipping through his hands, and he didn't even know it.
Now, Charles lives in a chair made of sleek curves and smooth contours. He notices the difference every day, even after all this time. The world is built for average people with working legs, and neither of those applies to him.
Sometimes, when he's particularly focused, and confident he won't be interrupted, he visits his old friend. Looks through the other man's eyes at the glass of cordial, and remembers a time when Erik would appear in his doorway only hours after they'd said their goodnights, and it didn't matter, because he'd barely slept anyway.
He remembers Erik watching him shave in the morning, watching the razor carve sleek trails in the foam on his cheeks. The harsh edge of the blade, the soft whisper of the shaving cream, and Erik's angular frame propped in the doorway.
Now, it is he who watches, from behind Erik's eyes. A vantage point that is deliciously and wistfully high. Now, the hand holding the razor shakes sometimes. Only a little, and only when he draws it down his neck, where just a hair's breadth of fragile skin separates life and death. And the eyes that aren't his stare into the mirror, and it almost feels as if Erik is daring him to do it.
All it would take is a whisper, the barest hint of a thought.
And Charles gently withdraws, leaves him to his morning routine. Leaves him to his sharp edges.
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