Disclaimer: Alas, they do not belong to me. All characters are the property of Marvel Inc. No money is being made, I'm just playing with them, and I'll clean them up and put them back when I'm done.
In case you haven't noticed, I'm a major Xavier fan, and an unrequited romantic. Sorry for the major angst, I didn't know another way to write this.
Let Old Acquaintance...
When I first saw him, I didn't know what to think. The first thought that ran through my mind was of an angel fallen to earth, one that had no idea of what to expect. Fear, a deep, chilling sadness, and confusion were coming off of him in waves. An angel, one with broken wings, but an angel none the less.
But that was how I always thought of Eric.
I made some sound, I think, because Jean turned to me, asked me if I was alright. What was I to tell her? That the one man I had loved for years was standing on my doorstep, like a living memory? In a perfect world I might have been able to escape with that explanation, but this world is less than perfect, and like always, I told her I was fine, even as my heart leapt into my throat. I waited, watching, wondering what he would do, even as a deep apprehension filled me. This man, for all his looks, was not the Eric I knew. There was none of the old pain that radiated from the man who I had been infatuated with for more years than I cared to remember. When he smiled, it held none of the melancholy that I had associated with him. In short, the man before me was a stranger, de-aged, painfully familiar, but a stranger still.
It nearly broke my heart.
The next few months were spent in a flurry of activity. Operation Zero Tolerance struck mutants around the world hard, and the X-Men were its primary targets. Orroro was nearly lost to us, as was Gambit. Both returned to New Orleans to look after Remy's family, most of which were mutants of one form or another. They were ambushed just outside the city, and if not for X-factors intervention, would have fallen. I can still feel the cold pain that entered my chest when we received a broken distress call from them. The thought of loosing two of my students was enough to bring me to my knees.
To further confuse matters, Eric fought for us, instead of against us, even though the old animosity was still there from my students. I cannot blame them for associating him with the man he was, I still find myself staring at him, remembering times long past, when we lived in a foreign country fighting to repair the damage done by mans insensible hatred. I find myself comparing mannerisms, the way he holds a fork, even his accent, trying vainly to find the man he once was. Not for the threat he may pose to humanity, but for the warmth he is to my heart.
At the oddest moments I find myself taken by a wistful nostalgia, remembering times that I know in my heart can never be again, even as my soul screams otherwise. I pride myself on my control, my ability to control and understand my own emotions, but with Eric, as always, a flaming jealousy overtakes me when I seen him holding Rogues hand, or the two of them caught in a private conversation. It has been too long since I shared that kind of intimacy with anyone. After my last words to Lilandra on Hala I thought my chances of sharing something, anything, of myself with another person were gone. In many ways she was my last chance, to have something, to belong to something, that was greater than myself, my cause. The sting of that last meeting is still fresh in my mind, adding to the pressure I find pilling on me.
Recovering from a broken heart with a former lover in the house is not conducive to ones sanity, that much I have learned.
We do have our stolen moments. Times when I find us alone in my study, playing chess, marveling at how, despite the fact that there is nothing remaining of him that I have been able to find, he still plays the game the same. Occasionally, I can feel his eyes on me, as if wondering and weighing, and I feel my heart beat increase. An adolescent response for one of my age, but it has always been that way.
There are so many things I miss from our former acquaintance. Our discussions which would quickly dissolve into shouting matches, and making up afterwards. The quieter moments when we could simply sit with each other, taking strength from our nearness, our love, though he would never call it that. The playfulness I remember so vividly is still there, but it has changed. Our games would end with one of us on his back writhing in pleasure. Now, it is more often a water fight, which Storm invariably wins, or a game of paintball, from which he emerges stained, bruised, but smiling.
There are times when a melancholy grips Eric, or should I call him Joseph now? The name does not fit the image in my mind. The melancholy that I knew too well, but he has no way of handling. The old Eric would simply avoid everyone until it passed, violently if necessary. The first time Jean brought Joseph to me, tears streaming down his face, unable to speak. He remained that way for nearly an hour before he calmed down enough to talk. The old Eric had reason enough to fall into such a state, but Joseph, who had no memory of the pain of his former life? He had no idea why he would act the way he did, and even after Henry examined him, no answer was forthcoming. More pieces missing in a puzzle too incomplete to understand.
Now its New Years eve, 12:01, and I find myself singing with new eyes, eyes that are, even though I hate to admit it, slightly skewed from too much champagne. The happiness I feel radiating through my students and friends warms a place I thought too cold to be touched by anything again. Love, understanding, and other emotions fill my heart. My New Years resolution is to stop looking backwards and gaze forward.
I just wonder if I have the strength to do it.