by Lady Disdain

Disclaimer: All characters within are the sole property of Marvel Entertainment and are used here without Marvel's permission. No profit is being made from the writing or displaying of this story.

Warning: This depicts an itsy bitsy minuscule erotic content, which, although mild by some standards, may freak out anyone who is underage or particularly sensitive. So, please, if that applies to you, don't read what follows.

Author's Notes: This is Part One of "A Man and His Dream". That's why it's classified as HoneyRider's version, although her and Lady Disdain are one and the same. Confusing? My mind is a scary and dark place.

HoneyRider's Version:

Did I ever stop believing? Was it ever a possibility that the utopia we long for may only be an illusion? I don't know. I simply do not know whether for years we have engaged in fights on all emotional and physical levels for the sake of a hallow notion or a founded ideal. I look around me today and wonder where it has led me, where it has led us. Those young men and women who put their fates in my hands only to be hurt, betrayed, lied to, shunned, not necessarily by me but by the mission, society, countless enemies. Then there are those who came to me regardless of the purpose I represent. They came for sanctuary and redemption, borrowing a cause for self appeasement. These people have fought side by side against the same evil. Yet, in the ranks of the worthy warriors who upheld my beliefs there is dissent and internal conflict, with each other and themselves. And this breeds my own tumult.

I am not saddened or bereaved. I do not swim in a sea of self destruction. I am merely consumed by frustration so vivid it could almost be anger. My heart and brain rebel against a feeling that the work and effort produced in so many years has come to nothing, the absurdly unfair chance that we have been acting like a dog chasing its own tail, obtaining no results. The society governed by humans perseveres in its hatred for mutantkind. That contest is not aided by the actions of those who find no scruples in destroying the thin peace in order to gain power and control over Homo Sapiens. My friends often turn into my enemies, blinded by a chance of grandeur or vengeance. What if I happen to be just as blind as Magnus? Perhaps neither of us are right in our battles. And the situation deteriorates when I think of those who have followed me. Some were disappointed, others have become so accustomed to my simple dream that they willingly indulge in it half-heartedly, knowing no other alternative. Also, there are those few, who have steadily increased in numbers over time, who choose to alter that dream to suit their dispositions. It portrays the splinters in that utopia which have issued my present doubts.

But anger is as crippling as despair and I am sure Logan would, for one, agree with me. That is why I have come here today, the day when, like all other living beings, I feel weighed down by earthly troubles. I have come to my Ready Room, perhaps the sole place in this large mansion where I can be sure not to be disturbed. I have left my pupils, my X-Men, to wander free in their lives, without my guidance, for a few hours, while I try to find my own way through the internal darkness.

I position myself beside Cerebro. Everything I have to this day I have created with my own two hands, though not literally, of course. Then why does it all seem so alien to me? Why, as I slip on the psi-helmet and sit comfortably back, do I feel as though I do not deserve this house, what it stands for, because it is simply futile and misguided? Or that I have come too short and failed the dream? But I forget that I have come here to seek answers and escapism. The Astral Plane holds no secrets or boundaries for me. I enter it freely, as any other Guardian would, and explore it until I find a corner to compliment my mood. Sometimes, I think the Astral Plane gently leads a telepath to where he or she subconsciously need to go. It is a helping hand, so to speak, and it moulds itself according to its occupant.

Today, it has guided me to a beautiful open valley, with golden grass slowly undulating beneath the soft breeze. The sun is low on the horizon, sheltered by womanly hills with careful curves; it casts a red glow, perhaps the telepathic residue of the anger I had wished to leave outside of the Plane. I walk, as I always do in my mind, observant to my surroundings, appreciative of their beauty, but, this time, they fail to offer the alleviation I crave. There is the strong lack of something. I can feel it in my soul, this wanting, a desire not easily quenched. Almost simultaneously, I begin to feel what might be the answer to my dilemma. A new presence in the Astral Plane that is not at all unfamiliar. It reveals itself gradually, in a teasing manner, although I am aware of its identity immediately. How could I not be, when it lives within me, in the deepest, most primal recesses of my being?

Lilandra steps forward from a cloud of mist I had not noticed before, her astral form as radiant as its physical counterpart. Her eyes smile ere her lips may follow. At once, I feel soothed by the mere sight of her, largely enhanced by the enforced distance our roles dispense upon us. Our psi-link has kept us close for many months, at times years, but little can come close to seeing her in the flesh or, at least, in the flesh of her psyche. It's a near dizzying emotion. She takes slow strides in my direction, the long silver dress she wears flowing rhythmically with her steps while the fabric clings to her contours. She is as stunning as an empress should be, out of a fairy tale. Her cool fingers wrap themselves around my hand in a reassuring squeeze and I know she has come to be near me.

"I felt a great uneasiness within you," she speaks as from a dream, softly, so not to wake me. "What is troubling you, Charles?"

I cannot help but smile. "It is the troubles of a mortal man, beloved. I would not want to burden you with such simple squabbles."

It's her turn to smile, but she takes it as far as open laughter. "How can you speak of sparing me the knowledge of what has made you, my love, so ill at ease! Come now, we are soulmates, no? Our hearts should be one the way our minds are."

She seems determined and I could never resist her. Truth of the matter, Lilandra has always been able to bring out in me what other expect to be scarce in my character. I place a hand on her arm and lead her to the top of a nearby hill, where we sit to gaze at the setting sun. It take a long breath I consider not releasing. "It is simply that, not often but not rarely either, I feel as though all I have worked for, with the X-Men, has amounted to nothing. As though we have made no progress." She is looking at me by now, her eyes lingering on my profile in sheer concentration. "And it renders me so frustrated, but at the same time, I think that I should not be giving in to these doubts, that I, as spiritual as well as technical leader of so many hopeful followers, should be above all that, only concerned with the realisation of the dream." I do not particularly expect Lilandra to comfort me with words; her presence would suffice. The clarity behind her reasoning shocks me.

"It is only normal that you should have doubts and insecurities, Charles. Your dream may be grander and nobler than others, but you are still a man, not a god. It is in man's nature to question his beliefs. It is a way to analyse any possible problems. We were not born to be great minds without making a few mistakes." Stealthily, she moves behind me and folds her arms around my shoulders, letting her head rest against the back of my neck. "Do you think I never have any doubts about what I do as an Empress? Often, I wonder whether overthrowing my brother was not just a selfish act excused by a self induced belief that the Empire deserved a better leader." Her embrace tightens and I welcome its warmth. "As with all people with great responsibilities, you are entitled to feel uncertain of your position."

I sigh. It is starting to make sense but there are still some nagging feelings left unearthed. "The great dream, of mutants and humans living together peacefully, has not advanced since we first started, though. It has a been a rollercoaster of results."

"Do you think the dream has faded somehow?" I nod feebly. "Then look around you, Charles. You may still be fighting old enemies, and you might have lost some friends on the way, but people do believe in you and what you stand for. Would the X-Men have stayed with you if they thought that what they fought for was nothing more than a delusion?"

I am silent, my previous state of mind finally calmed by Lilandra's advice. What need have I for words now that I feel closer to her than I have for a very long time, in this instant when all feels perfect, the pieces of the puzzle fitting together nicely. Lilandra may not have solved my problems, but she has offered me an insight I had not considered, she has lessened my angst, and, for now, that is exactly what I need. We sit together for a long while to watch the sky turn from orange to a darker shade of red, until sparkling stars begin to appear on the Astral Plane, where no concept of time should apply, but I guess we have both chosen to let it run its course. Lilandra has seated herself by my side and our fingers are entwined, our arms snaked around each other. There are no sounds in this abstract environment, only the low buzzing of our psyches dancing in synchronised tune.

From the corner of my eye, I find my companion's gaze on me. My head turns slowly, perhaps cautiously, in a strange attempt not to scare her away. Her eyes are there to meet mine, the stark black lines curling at the ends wrinkled slightly as her lips form a smile. I lean forward and kiss that smile, with a gentleness I am sure many people would not accredit me for. She responds to me, her mouth shaping against mine in a warm encounter; and I am taken in by our kiss, as brief as it may be, because it is feverish in its urgency and yet innocently reserved. We break off. Lilandra's eyes have drifted down to the ground; my own follow but only after having lingered on her face.

Instinctively, I bring my hand up to stroke the skin on her throat with my fingertips. I want to feel her closer; even in the relative cold atmosphere of the Astral Plane I know I could feel her warmth. And I do need her so desperately. My Lilandra. The Empress of entire galaxies who has come to love a mortal man. She has told me off for thinking in such a way before, reminding me that she is the one to have sought the X-Men's help on more than one occasion. Nonetheless, I cannot help but be in awe at the simple thought of being her soulmate. As Charles Francis Xavier, the greatest telepath in the world and leader of the X-Men, I feel humble in front of Lilandra's inner power.

Her eyes lift at my touch. I replace fingers with lips, stroking her flesh tentatively, in small up and down motions. She shivers but gives no impression of resisting. In my mind, so utterly open to hers, I can barely recall the last time we had been so near one another. And I know that neither can she. Distance is an old fiend, but somehow we have managed to survive. During these short encounters, our relationship undoubtedly grows, and with it, so do I, having a chance to let loose of the sides I am compelled to conceal in the presence of others, for the sake of appearing as the strong, authority figure who does not submit to his stronger emotions.

She has taken to tilting her head according to the movements of my hand while my fingertips explore the curves on her throat and the contours of her collar bone. Her body glides across the short distance separating it from mine and we are quickly in each other's arms, her holding me, responsive to the sudden pressure of my lips on her skin as I start to nibble and suck on the crook between neck and shoulder. A little sigh comes forth from her mouth.

The soft breeze has ceased to blow; the stars have crowned the sky and darkness acts as a blanket over us as Lilandra encloses my hands in hers and leads me down to the ground, where her back is resting, regardless of the cool grass brushing against her barely clothed form. I prop myself up on my elbows, half my body lying on that of my companion. I look at her. Eyes shining in the glow of the moon, lips slack in a secret smile, she seems more beautiful than ever before, a rapture. I am only human. How could I resist such a sight and not be driven insane?

She silences my thoughts with a second kiss, this one longer than its predecessor, perhaps even sweeter. Now, it's as though we don't break away, we continue to kiss while our hands trace invisible lines on our bodies, carefully searching for something familiar, and finding it, only to explore it with slow anxiety, like the two lovers finally reunited that we are. Somewhere along the line, our clothes are discarded, maybe with a simple mental command, maybe through the old fashioned, manual manner. It's all so perfect, so natural, giving and taking pleasure in burning anticipation, her limbs around me, our mouths covering every part of our bodies.

My brain registers every detail, affecting the rest of me, shooting straight through my nervous system and to my heart. As we kiss, caress, make love, play, live out our fantasies, I am overwhelmed with a variety of sensations which make my head spin and I feel dizzy, with love and lust, both accurately combined. Lilandra's body shivers beneath me, a subdued moan echoes in my ears and I feel her tighten involuntarily. I follow suite, unleashing the pent up energy then calming down, head nestled on her bosom, listening to her heart beat.

We lie in such a fashion for some time. The wind has returned. It seems the sun will rise soon. I lift my head and look at Lilandra once again. She smiles down at me, a weary, satisfied line of the lips. I realise it is time to go, for both of us, to say goodbye and attend to our worldly business, to resume the routine that keeps us apart for so long. It's a reluctant act but it must be done, especially now that she has restored my faith in myself and in my ideals. We part with a kiss and a few words.

Slowly, I unhook the helmet and slide it off. I spend like what seems an eternity staring into nothing, simply reliving the events just passed. I exit the Ready Room and make my way towards the Danger Room to check on my X-Men, those men and women I am so proud of having beside me to fight for our common cause. At the door, I meet Jean, who glances at me with slight worry in her expression.

"Professor, is everything all right?"

My back is to her as I enter the control pod and she can't see my furtive smile. "Of course Jean, everything is absolutely fine. I only took a short break ," I brush away her concern, then drop my voice to finish the sentence, "to live out a dream."