Title: Mirror my malady
Rating: NC-17 overall / PG-13 for this part (I guess)
Genre: Crossover, Angst, Romance
Warnings: Somewhat disturbing themes of war crimes and torture (non-graphic), cussing, boy on boy almost-sex (yay!)
Spoilers: General spoilers to ‘X-men’ movies (including ‘X-Men: First Class’), no real spoilers for Glee.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or the universes.
Summary: “I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders.” Kurt whispered. “Never again.”
Word Count: 19.500+ overall / 5.100+ for this part
For A/N notes see chapter 1
“We need to talk about Kurt.”
Hank’s voice tore Storm away from her thoughts. She had been sitting at Professor’s desk, her fingers drumming lightly against the polished wood as she wondered what the hell they were all going to do. She didn’t really feel equipped to take his place.
“As much as I want Kurt to get some help as well, I honestly don’t think that’s our biggest problem right now.”
“It may be so,” Hank said. “But you’re the principal of this school now. Your duty is to your students and one of them is on the verge of collapsing because of his ability.”
“What would you have me to do, Hank?” Ororo asked angrily. “The only two people who might have been any help to him are dead now.”
“Jean and Charles were not the only ones with psychic ability. I have friends other than the ones who left the walls of this school. I’m sure I would be able to find someone who can help him.”
“I thought you were the first one to fight the Professor on this subject?” Storm asked, clearly confused. “You said so yourself, doing it against his will is out of the question.”
“That was before he started to deteriorate.” Hank looked out of the window, taking in the grounds surrounding the school. The day was dull and gray and Storm didn’t seem in the mood to do anything about it. “As a doctor I cannot stand by and watch him slowly kill himself because of feelings and memories he shouldn’t have in the first place. I thought he would be able to handle it, but he’s not thinking about it as a rational person would.”
“That’s because he’s not rational, his empathy has huge influence on him.” Storm said. “We’re asking him to leave behind memories he identifies as his own, even though deep inside he realizes they are not.”
“And what happens to him if Magneto’s memories influence him too much? I had every hope in the world that he would be stronger than this, that he would be able to tell the reality and these fictional feelings apart. I fought Charles on this, asked him to give Kurt time to deal with it on his own. But it’s not happening, Ororo. He needs our help.”
“I will not force him.”
“Then we risk his death.” Hank shook his head. “His empathy cannot handle that kind of pressure properly - he’s getting weaker every day. He’s not eating, he hasn’t been sleeping and frankly, I think it will slowly drive him crazy if we do not stop it. I think... I think this is the point where we say ‘enough’ and take responsibility for Kurt’s well-being if he’s unable to do it himself.”
“So you’re just like the rest of them.”
A quiet voice caused them both to turn towards the door. Hank’s heart dropped when he saw who was leaning against the door frame.
“You’re just like Professor. You don’t think I can be responsible for my own actions so you’re going to treat me with kid gloves and do things to me against my will.”
“Kurt, you’re going to get yourself killed.” Storm stood up from her chair, agitated. “No one is going to force you but you need to just think about it! This memories you cling to, they are causing you pain and it will not end well.”
“Saying you will find someone from the outside to help me sounds awfully lot like forcing me.”
“I do not want it, but maybe it is the best solution.” Storm argued. “At least we would be following Professor’s orders.”
As soon as the words left her mouth she realized it was exactly the wrong thing to say. Beast seemed to understand that as well.
“Kurt...” Hank shook his head, willing the boy to finally understand he was endangering himself and the others along with him. If he could just make the boy listen...
“I’ve been at the mercy of men just following orders.” Kurt whispered. “Never again.”
“No.” Hank said, recognizing the words from years ago, years that seemed like a different life to him now. “That is Erik’s memory.”
“It doesn’t matter.” Kurt turned his gaze away, focusing on the invisible spot on the carpet. “I have it now, so it’s mine as well.”
Hank moved, just an inch towards the boy, willing the empath to just talk to him, to try to convince the boy to see reason.
It was a mistake.
He had not felt a pain like this for a long time, not since he stopped fighting for X-men and traded a uniform for a suit and a place in the White House. It made him stagger and fall to his knees, hands gripping the pristine fabric of the carpet hard enough to tear. The pain was piercing him, his head feeling like it was about to explode and he let out a moan of pain. Bile was rising in the back of his throat and Hank raised his gaze high enough to look at the boy still standing in the door frame, eyes focused on him. Hank grunted, agony lacing his bones and causing him to lean heavily on his arms. Pain was pulling him down to the floor like an owner disciplining a disobeying pet.
“Enough.” Another voice cut in.
It stopped as suddenly as it begun and Hank took a shuddering breath, finally pain-free. He looked to his side to see if Ororo endured the same treatment, but she was still standing in her spot, frozen in fear and disbelief. Hank couldn’t really blame her - she was always close to Professor and his death shook her hard. Seeing another student attack one of them was probably hard for her to deal with at the moment.
“You made your point.” Logan let go of Kurt’s arm, which he must have grabbed just a moment ago. Kurt was looking at him with an indescribable expression. Hank gathered himself slowly from the floor. It seemed like some residual pain still vibrated through his bones, making him shaky and weak.
“They don’t seem to get it, but maybe you will.” Kurt’s voice was calm, quiet as he addressed Logan. “If any of you try to influence me without my consent, if I feel anyone trying to mess with my mind, I will hurt you.”
He kept staring at Logan until the man gave a slight nod.
Kurt didn’t think that the others would stop their quest to get him back to his old self. Back to being normal, not that he thought he was ever normal to begin with it. Logan was probably the only adult left who could relate to his current situation. He would not allow them to scramble his mind until the end result suited their beliefs. For all he knew, they could just outright inject him with this ‘cure’ and be done with him.
They would not stop. So Kurt would have to stop it himself.
A couple hours later after the incident Puck ran to Storm’s office, not really paying attention to other adults gathered there, pondering over some files on the computer, probably trying to predict Magneto’s next move.
“He’s gone!” Puck screamed at them, pointing an accusing finger at Beast. “It’s your fucking fault because he thought you were on his side and now he’s gone!”
Hank didn’t even try to deflect the punch that Puckerman threw at him. He could hardly feel the impact, but he figured he deserved it.
Magneto was tired.
The members of his Brotherhood were like children to him, his own children. He felt responsible for them like he had always felt about those that followed him. Their anger was his to carry, their hopes and dreams as well. He wanted to give them the better future they all deserved, but never at the cost of his best friend’s life.
Charles was always his friend, no matter how much their paths differed during the span of years. He was his first friend, first confidant, first person who truly cared about him as a human being. He had not experienced such kindness at any point in his life before, apart from the few short years he had with his parents. Charles had been his comrade, his brother, his universe.
Charles was dead.
Erik felt old. He hadn’t felt the weight of his years in a really long time but now he could feel every single hardship he had to endure slam down on him like a landslide. He didn’t feel inclined to deal with John’s foolishness, not after he snapped at the boy for wishing Charles dead. He didn’t want to tiptoe around Jean’s dark personality - he just wanted to rest inside his tent, be alone and forget about everything. He wanted to mourn his best friend.
His tent wasn’t empty. A hooded figure stood by the table that had been used earlier to plan their approach to Alcatraz.
“I’m so sorry for your loss.” A quiet voice reached him, coming from under the hood of over-sized black sweatshirt the intruder was wearing. “I know how much you loved him.”
“And how you might know that, I wonder?” Erik was not in the mood for games.
The person invading his tent was silent for a minute, grating on Erik’s nerves. He didn’t feel threatened by their presence, but later on he would have few words with mutants who volunteered to serve as camp’s security force.
“I know,” The intruder said, pulling off the hood slowly. “Because I felt it.”
The boy looked like hell. Magneto had seen him barely a couple days ago and the teenager looked like he had been in a fight and lost miserably. Dark circles under his eyes stood out in stark difference to his pale and clammy skin. He also looked like he had lost ten pounds in those couple of days. Erik was half-tempted to tell him to sit down before he fell down.
“Mr. Hummel.” He learned the boy’s name from John after the unfortunate incident at church, not paying much attention at the disdain he could hear in John’s voice when he talked about the empath and the other boy, the shifter. “I can’t say I expected to see you here.”
“Yes, well.” Kurt looked down, avoiding eye contact. “I didn’t really expect myself to be here either. Life’s funny that way.”
“Sit down.” Erik offered finally. “You don’t look so good.”
“Understatement of the century.” Kurt sneered, but took the offer and slowly lowered himself to the rickety chair. “I haven’t been sleeping well for a while now.”
“You didn’t go with it, did you?” He asked finally, feeling angry and disappointed at the same time. “You didn’t ask Charles to remove my memories.”
“Oh, he wanted to.” Kurt hid his face in his hands, elbows resting at the table. “I just didn’t let him.”
“I told you to do it.” The older man poured a glass of mineral water from a nearby bottle and set it next to Kurt with a soft ‘thunk’. “Those things in your head, they will eat at you, destroy you piece by piece. They won’t do you any good.”
Kurt didn’t say anything for a long while. Magneto settled for just watching him.
“If someone once told me I would have memories of Auschwitz in my head and I wouldn’t want to do just about anything to forget about it... I would say that they were bat-shit crazy.” Kurt started, slowly, like he had to struggle to get the words out. His hands left his face and he took a sip of water, glass trembling in his grasp. “It’s a nightmare that never ends no matter if I am awake or dreaming. When I make myself a sandwich I catch myself staring at the knife too long, wondering how the hell I could smuggle it past the guards into the barracks. When I catch the whiff of Logan’s cigars I want to puke my guts out, because suddenly I remember how the air near crematory smelled. And the other night when we were watching a movie and someone started speaking German I nearly damn wet myself.” Kurt gave him a bitter smile and set the glass down, every move calculated, like he had to save energy even with the simplest tasks. “So no, I can’t say it’s been all roses and sunshine.”
“Then why are you hanging on to it?” Erik knew what Kurt was talking about perfectly. It took him years and years to stop involuntarily react to smallest of things. “Why don’t you want to forget?”
“Because you can’t.”
The silence that fell was almost deafening.
“Because you can’t.” Kurt repeated. “Do you know what empathy means?” He asked, seemingly off-topic. “It’s a capacity to recognize and acknowledge feelings in other sentient beings. And what I recognize right now is the fact how utterly, horribly, unfair it is that you are the only one who had to live through this. And now I know how it feels too, I experienced it through you. I feel like I lived through it and it’s a part of me now and I cannot discard it just because it makes me uncomfortable or it might hurt me. That’s what empathy is, to me.”
“Kurt,” Erik shook his head lightly, standing next to the teen and extending one hand towards him. Kurt grasped it without thinking, his hold strong despite how fragile he looked right now. “I have had years to deal with my memories. I had help too - Charles played a huge part in my life and helped me let go of some things. Those memories... I don’t think of them anymore, not like this. They seem like a different life now, like something that happened to someone else. It’s the only way I know to process them and hide them in the corners of my mind so they won’t hurt anymore.”
Kurt looked close to tears, like he was hearing something he didn’t really want to hear. Holding Magneto’s hand in tight grasp, he realized that the touch of the original owner of the memories wreaking havoc in his mind was weirdly comforting.
“Why should you hang onto those memories if I don’t?”
Kurt didn’t reply.
“Kurt... Why did you come here today?” Erik asked, not unkindly.
“I don’t know.” He whispered back.
“Why did you come?”
“I don’t know!”
“I don’t--!” Kurt chocked back a sob. “Because I need your help!”
Energy seemed to seep out of Kurt as he bowed his head and his shoulders shook with grief. Magneto only blinked once, twice, before raising his free hand to wave it slowly in Kurt’s hair. The boy was shaking with tension and effort not to cry. Erik cradled his head gently towards himself, until Kurt’s forehead rested against his stomach.
“I don’t want to get rid of it, I can’t.” Kurt choked out, voice wavering as he closed his eyes. “But they want to force me anyway if I don’t give them my consent. I can’t go through this again, I just can’t.”
Erik said nothing as the boy was struggling to get his emotions under control. He was projecting, just slightly, probably due to his compromised state. Erik could feel the despair rolling off him like waves, the hidden anger and fear that stank of hurt and betrayal.
“I don’t think I’m just an empath, not anymore.” Kurt confessed. “I don’t know if it’s because of you or maybe you just pushed me to discover something that was in me all along, but I can do things I couldn’t do before. I am changing and they are afraid of me.”
Magneto couldn’t really argue with that.
“I don’t know what I am anymore.” Kurt whispered, finally letting go and allowing tears to fall, wetting the soft sweater that Erik was wearing. “They won’t give me a chance to find out, not now.”
“No, you’re not just an empath.” Magneto stroked the brown locks once and then gently grasped Kurt’s chin, making the boy look up at him. ”You are something else. Something new.” He gave the boy a small, tired smile. “Something beautiful.”
Kurt woke up a couple hours later, judging by the entrance of the tent and the dusk that settled outside. His eyes felt like he had sand underneath his eyelids and his head was throbbing with constant, dull pain. At first he opted to just lay there, unmoving, trying to comprehend what had happened.
He recalled falling into exhaustion after breaking down with Magneto holding him and how weird was that? But Kurt couldn’t help being drawn to Erik and even though he knew those feelings came from the older man’s memories coursing in his head, Kurt thought he actually understood Magneto a little better now. He wasn’t approving of his plan to eventually eviscerate humans, because hello, last time he checked his dad was still a human. But he understood - Erik’s experience in life was a clear pathway to Magneto’s conviction and he couldn’t blame the man for never trusting regular people again.
He gathered himself from a small cot in the corner of the tent where he must have collapsed earlier - and how embarrassing was that? - and pulled his hoodie closer against him to ward off the cold. That particular article of clothing belonged to Puck and it was three sizes too large for him, but Kurt knew he needed some more practical clothes for this little escapade then his regular repertoire.
The forest outside was calm and still, people gathering around campfires or huddled in various tents. Kurt took a deep breath, feeling the breeze on his skin remove the rest of sleep still clinging to his eyelids.
Magneto was in his line of sight, walking with someone not so far away, talking too quietly for his ears to catch any words. They stopped for a moment and he and his female companion looked somewhere to the right. Kurt followed their stares and his eyes fell upon the figure of Doctor Grey. She was still and silent as a statue, staring somewhere in the sky as if she was praying, but Kurt knew better.
“She’s all black and twisted inside, now.” He said quietly as Magneto and the woman finally came to a stop at the tent. “There is nothing of Miss Jean left in there.”
“I’m afraid that what you perceived as true Jean Grey was never the truth.” The woman said, not unkindly. “This is who she was always meant to be.”
“Then I am glad that I didn’t know her real face.” Kurt shook his head. “Because this one is corrupted and molded and to tell the truth, pretty damn scary.”
They were silent for a couple of moments before the woman spoke again.
“Maybe we should get inside.”
Kurt was getting pretty cold out there, so he wordlessly moved back into the confines of the tent.
“Kurt,” She addressed the teen who looked a little unsure why she was there. “My name is Siren. Magneto suggested I might be able to help you.”
Kurt’s eyes snapped back to Erik, who annoyingly was giving nothing but his usual calm gray-green aura.
“I believe Siren’s abilities will be just the thing to help you in your current predicament.”
“Explain.” Kurt demanded.
“Feel free to read me to see if I am telling the truth.” Siren said, taking a step towards him and wincing in pain when Kurt moved back, his mental shields colliding with her like a sledgehammer.
“Relax, Mr. Hummel.” Siren pleaded. “I won’t do anything without your permission.”
Kurt looked wary, but released his mental hold on her. He didn’t shut down his empathy, preferring to see her in colors, not willing to risk a slightest chance that she might turn on him.
“Siren’s power is the answer to your problem.” Magneto sat down by the table, motioning them to do the same and waited until they did before he continued. “She is a very gifted telepath who would be able to manipulate your memories for you. With you.”
“If you allow me,” She began, “I will access the memories that are causing you so much distress and then I will guide you through them as you decide which ones you will keep, which ones you will discard and which ones you just want to dull, so they don’t hurt so much anymore.”
Kurt was looking at her with wide eyes.
“You can do that?”
“And I would be in control?”
“All the time.”
Kurt closed his eyes for a second.
“Where’s the catch?” He shook his head and gave Magneto a sad smile. “I don’t know anything useful strategic-wise about the school or plans that X-Men might be cooking up right now. I don’t get it, what is it worth for you?”
“Leave us for a moment.” Magneto said to Siren and she gave a small nod before obeying.
“I don’t get it.” Kurt ran a hand through his hair. “She was telling the truth. But... why?”
“Because you asked me for help, Mr. Hummel.” Magneto said. “Because you came to me when you couldn’t come to anyone else and contrary to popular belief, I do not take any pleasure in suffering of others.”
“I didn’t mean--”
“Every single mutant is important and I do not like seeing them in pain, imprisoned or hurting. You came to me for help and this is what I am offering you. A choice. You don’t want to get rid of my memories and while I do not agree with that decision, I will not force you.”
It sounded too good to be true. It was all Kurt ever wanted - a choice that was his and his alone.
“I am helping you, Kurt, because I meant what I said last night. As mutants we keep on evolving, but you... You are something I haven’t seen before. You are powerful now and you will only grow as time passes. It would be a travesty to let you waste away because of my past.”
Kurt was blinking hard, holding back tears. Lately it seemed he had been on verge of crying all the time.
“You are something different, Kurt. Something exquisite. I hope I live to the day that you will come to pinnacle of your potential.”
Kurt closed his eyes and swallowed around the lump in his throat.
“Call her back.” He whispered, giving in to the promise in Erik’s voice, to the care and awe he heard in between the words. “Let’s do this.”
“I’m going with you.”
Logan turned after he descended from the stairs, Storm at his heels. Puckerman was leaning on the wall next to one of the classrooms, looking determined and somewhat pissed off.
“This isn’t what I meant when I said you should make your choice, Logan.” Storm was fuming, not bothering to show her displeasure. “Your place is here with us, defending this school. And you!” She pointed at Puck. “You are not going anywhere! Last time I checked you’re still underage and we are the ones responsible for you, so you will stay put!”
“I don’t care.” Puck shrugged and turned his gaze to Wolverine. “You think you can find Miss Grey?”
“I can track her. I have a starting point at least.”
“Then I’m coming. I am pretty much sure he’s with them.”
“You don’t know that.” Storm interrupted, shaking her head. “We don’t have a single clue as to where he is.”
“Where else could he be? You turned him down,” He pointed at her, anger causing him to almost see red. “And he isn’t with his father because I already checked with Burt. So I think it’s a pretty damn good chance that he went to the only person who would understand him.”
“This is madness!” Storm wanted to just grab both men and just shake some sense into them. “You don’t even know where to look!”
“But I do.”
Three heads whipped around as a quiet voice reached them from slightly ajar front doors, neither of them noticing movement in the midst of their argument.
The empath had little time to react before Puck was before him, crushing him in his embrace.
“I’m okay.” He whispered, arms reaching to close around Puck’s waist as the taller boy held him close. He buried his face in Puck’s neck and breathed in deeply. “I’m okay. I’m sorry Noah. I’m so sorry for leaving you like this.”
A long moment later they were interrupted.
“You sure you’re fine, kiddo?” Logan said.
Kurt reluctantly let go of Noah, even though the other boy refused to let him move too far away, keeping one hand on Kurt’s shoulder.
“I am now.”
“What happened?” Storm joined them at the door, a little wary of Kurt after their last encounter. Puck could feel Kurt slightly stiffen in his arms, as if he braced himself against their teacher.
“I needed to talk to Erik.”
“You actually found him?” Logan raised an eyebrow.
“I think that now I would be able to find him anywhere.” Kurt shrugged. “He has unique mental signature I can recognize anywhere.”
“What happened?” Puck squeezed his arm gently. He was so glad Kurt was back home but at the same time he was getting a little freaked out. It wasn’t every day that your boyfriend - Puck figured that’s what they were now - went off to have a date with resident villain.
“He gave me a choice.” Kurt gave the other boy a small smile. “I still have his memories... but they don’t hurt anymore. They are... dulled, so to speak. Like a bad dream that you once had and if you don’t focus very hard you don’t really remember all the details.”
“And how did he do that?”
Kurt didn’t like Storm’s attitude. He knew perfectly well that she was hurting after Professor’s death and she was burdened with responsibility for the school, but her tone grated on his nerves anyway.
“I will be happy to explain everything to Doctor McCoy later.” Kurt glared at her a little, but gave it up after a moment and turned to Logan instead. “Don’t go after her.”
“I have to.”
“No, you don’t.” With some hesitation Kurt reached to grasp Logan’s hand, sending him images he saw and feelings he felt when he read Miss Grey. “She’s not there anymore.”
“No.” Logan gasped when he felt the transferred emotions, the blackness of Jean’s soul. “I have to try.”
“She’s hollow.” Kurt whispered, voice trembling due to the wave of sadness he could feel from Logan. “She’s like an empty hall - if you call out your voice will echo long after you leave the room.”
Logan let go of his hand and looked away, just for a second. When Kurt caught his stare again his eyes were hard and unforgiving. Determined.
“Tell me where she is.”
It was over.
The fight at Alcatraz was done, Miss Grey was truly dead this time and Magneto was neutralized.
Kurt still didn’t know how to feel about the last part. Erik’s power was one of his reasons to exist. It was because of it that the Nazi killed his family, because of it they experimented on him like he was an animal and because of it he kept on living. But now he was dosed with ‘the cure’, helpless and stripped of his ability. Somehow he made out of the island and the police was still looking for him, but he had gone MIA. Deep inside Kurt was glad that Erik avoided capture.
It was late evening now, days after the battle and Kurt was stretched out on Puck’s bed and a little over Puck himself, cheek resting on the other boy’s shoulder.
“What are you thinking about?” Puck asked, running his fingers through the empath’s hair, knowing full well how Kurt disliked having it messed too much. “Not about...?”
“No, that’s behind me now.”
And it was. First thing Kurt had done after the fight was over was to sleep for sixteen hours straight and demand copious amount of food right after he woke up. He reluctantly allowed Hank to take all the tests he wanted and explained his encounter with Siren as best as he could. It wasn’t easy, putting in words things that were never actually said, things that were beyond words - emotional responses to gentle telepathic prodding, her guidance over the planes of his own mind, him sorting through Erik’s pain that lingered in his mind.
He felt like his old self, but new at the same time. It was a weird feeling, but somehow, it was liberating. He hadn’t had a single bad dream ever since. He didn’t lose track of time even once. He didn’t catch himself daydreaming during simplest tasks, relieving the events of Erik’s past. He still had those memories - if he thought about it really hard, focused on them, then he could remember all of it - but on regular basis they were just a shadow of bad dream.
He could live with a shadow.
The day was warm and just slightly breezy and residents of New York had left their stuffy offices and homes and came to Central Park to enjoy their day. Children were running around, playing tag. People were jogging or walking their dogs. Some had brought out blankets and lounged on the sun-warmed grass. And a small group had occupied the chess tables, playing with their old companions or new friends.
“Have you told them?”
A movement of chess piece and an old, wrinkled hand gathered his rook from the board.
“About you?” Kurt asked, studying the board. “No. Do you think I’m stupid?”
“I think you are anything but, Mr. Hummel.” Erik waited for the next move.
A moment of silence stretched between them, not uncomfortable.
“You know, you’re supposed to teach me how to play this game but I don’t think you’re doing a very good job.” Kurt huffed, finally choosing to move with his bishop. “I think you just enjoy beating me.”
“I most certainly do not, not when you are still new to it.”
“Hmm.” Kurt made some indescribable noise and after a moment his eyes travelled up from the board to catch Magneto looking straight at him. “I also recall you offering to teach me some other things.”
“That I will do, Mr. Hummel. That I will do.”
Erik looked back to the chess pieces and smiled, reaching out to execute his next move.