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fic: Beyond Cure

Title: Beyond Cure
Author: fengirl88
Fandom: X-Men: First Class, crossover with Spellbound (1945)
Pairing: Erik/Charles
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: none
Wordcount: 1443
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine.
Summary: Dr Xavier needs something to help him sleep. The American Psychiatric Association would not approve.
A/N: A crossover/fusion with Alfred Hitchcock's film Spellbound, in an alternate universe where some characters still have powers, Charles is Ingrid Bergman and Erik is Gregory Peck... Written for the "AU: mental hospital" square for xmfc_bingo. Thanks to [personal profile] kalypso for beta wisdom and helpful suggestions. This one is for idlesuperstar, because of this exchange.



Charles has never been so tired and so certain he’s not going to sleep – never since medical school, anyway. He’s tried all the tricks he knows, the mild and not so mild forms of self-hypnosis, but nothing stops the events of the day unspooling behind his eyes like a relentless bad movie.

He knows it’s not the thought of his patients that’s keeping him awake. The general public – the humans at least – would find many of the inmates of Green Manors frightening and strange, but the range of their behaviours today was nothing out of the ordinary for the year and a half that Charles has been working here.

First patient of the day, Miss Darkholme, twisting a strand of her blonde hair and telling him for the hundredth time I look in the mirror and I see someone else’s face. Body dysmorphia is a cruel trick, amongst so many the mind plays on its host. So far, nothing and no-one will convince the poor girl she looks fine the way she is…

Next, Mr Cassidy, screaming like a banshee, insisting that he can fly, that one of these days he’s going to jump right off the roof of the asylum, and then maybe Dr Xavier will believe him…

Last patient of the morning, Miss Salvadore, spitting with fury at Charles again for turning down her advances, and for refusing to rise to the bait when she calls him impotent, cold, unnatural

Charles winces at the memory, though she can hardly know what she’s saying. He knows it’s better for him to treat her than to let her go to work on McCoy, or worse still Logan. Sometimes being unnatural is an advantage, though that’s a view he’s careful not to share with his fellow analysts at Green Manors.

Miss Salvadore hadn’t confined herself to hurling insults today, Charles thinks ruefully. At least the book had missed his head, though he could have done without having Logan witness the patient’s full-blown fit of hysterics as she was dragged away, her whole body vibrating with uncontrollable rage.

“She’s right about one thing,” Logan said, with that wolfish grin that always makes Charles think wistfully of punching him, deeply unprofessional though that would be. “Celibacy’s not good for a balanced view of the world, or of human nature. You’re supposed to be an analyst, not a monk.”

“I’d make a very bad monk,” Charles said with deliberate lightness. “I’ve never been one for obedience, as you know. Or poverty, come to that.”

“Defensive humour?” Logan jeered. “Charles, surely you know better than to give yourself away so easily.”

“You do seem extraordinarily interested in my sex life,” Charles said coolly. If his defences weren’t working, he’d see what attack could do. “Have you ever asked yourself why that is?”

“Fuck you,” Logan said. Charles raised an eyebrow. “I swear, sometimes I’d like to throw a book at you myself.”


Charles is certainly not going to admit to Logan that he’s not interested in women that way, even if Logan suspects it. The American Psychiatric Association still classifies homosexuality as a mental illness, and he can’t see that changing in his lifetime. The last thing he needs is his overzealous colleagues deciding he’s in need of a cure

But he’s going to have to be on his guard with the new man, Lehnsherr. Even thinking about him starts a curl of heat in the pit of Charles’s stomach, remembering the shock of their first meeting. It’s not often that he’s confronted with such a classic specimen of a particular kind of male beauty, that extraordinarily piercing gaze, the strong jaw and the tight mouth that made him want to trace its outline, first with his thumb, then with his tongue –

He shouldn’t be thinking about that. Or about the brush of the man’s mind against his as they shook hands, a surge of interest so powerful that it broke through Charles’s careful defences.

Lehnsherr’s hands are beautiful, long-fingered, elegant and strong. Charles had tried so hard not to stare at them at the lunch table that he was reduced to fidgeting like a child, tracing patterns on the tablecloth with the tines of his fork, till Lehnsherr snapped at him and Charles found the fork twisting out of his grasp, bent out of shape, with no sign of how it had happened.

A metallokinetic, then: and one with a surprising and rather worrying temper. Everyone was staring, and Charles could see McCoy was about to say something irrevocable. His own reaction was as instantaneous as it was unpardonable, wiping away any trace of Lehnsherr’s outburst from his colleagues’ minds. No-one would call him to account for it, of course, but that just made it worse. He’d always argued that there was no reason to distrust a telepath in psychoanalysis, and yet here he was, acting like the most lurid stereotypes promulgated by the gutter press.

“Show me the grounds?” Lehnsherr had suggested after lunch, as if trying to make amends for his bad temper, and Charles had been only too happy to oblige.

“It’s a lovely view, isn’t it?” he’d said when they reached the top of the hill.

“Perfection,” Lehnsherr agreed gravely, but with an undercurrent of something that felt dangerously like flirtation.

Which was simply not possible… Charles knows better than to let himself imagine such things. But the warm glow he felt is still there inside him, threatening to blaze into something hotter, brighter.

Reading’s usually the answer to this sort of distraction, so he pulls his dressing-gown on and heads along the corridor to the library. He’ll read a chapter of Lehnsherr’s book, The Labyrinth of the Guilt Complex, focus on the man’s mind rather than his body.

Ten pages into the first chapter, his mind is brimming with questions, and he finds himself drawn irresistibly along the corridor in the direction of the light still burning under Lehnsherr’s door.

He can’t sleep either, then.

Charles opens the door without knocking, and Lehnsherr looks up from his book and smiles at him. There’s a little surprise in the smile, but not much, considering.

“It’s very late,” Charles says stupidly.

Lehnsherr nods. He throws the book onto the bed and gets up from his chair, pulling his dressing-gown tighter around him.

“I was going to read your new book again,” Charles says. “I – I would like to discuss it with you… I sound rather nervous, don’t I?”

“Not at all,” Lehnsherr says, looking at him steadily.

Charles flushes with embarrassment. “I thought I wanted to discuss your book with you – I’m amazed at the subterfuge. I don’t want to discuss it at all.”

“I understand,” Lehnsherr says, though he can’t possibly

“Quite remarkable to discover that one isn’t what one thought one was,” Charles says, thinking Stop babbling, Xavier. “I mean, I’ve always been entirely aware of what was in my mind –”

“And you’re not,” Lehnsherr says, moving towards him.

“No,” Charles says, though he’s not sure that’s true any more.

“I know why you’re here,” Lehnsherr says.

“Why?” Charles says, knowing he stands on the edge of disaster.

“Because something’s happened to us,” Lehnsherr says.

“But it doesn’t happen like that, in a day,” Charles protests, as if reason could save him now.

“It happens in a moment sometimes,” Lehnsherr says, sounding so appallingly sure of himself that Charles can hardly breathe. “I felt it this afternoon. It was like lightning striking. It strikes rarely.”

Charles hears the bedroom door shutting itself, the click of the key turning in the lock. It’s a small enough demonstration of Lehnsherr’s power, but the thought of what else he could do with that makes Charles dizzy. The metal frame of the bed seems to twist and vibrate as Lehnsherr – Erik, Charles thinks breathlessly – moves closer.

The kiss is somehow both startling and completely expected. Charles gets a flash of what’s in Erik’s mind as the connection sparks between them – it’s bewildering, those swathes of blankness as if a part of Erik’s memory has been erased. One thing stands out bright as a beacon amongst it all: the certainty of Erik’s desire, and his frank delight as Charles kisses him back.

Charles moans and stretches up into the kiss, tangling his hands in Erik’s hair and surrendering to the pleasure of Erik’s arms around him, Erik’s mouth against his. It’s not like lightning striking at all, but like something in a dream, like a series of doors opening to a world Charles has kept closed off until now. There was a reason for doing that, once upon a time, but he can’t remember what it was.




***

Title is a (spoilery) reference to this exchange from Spellbound. The scene on which the end of this fic is based is here.

The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1973; it's a complicated story, details of which can be found here.



Also posted at http://fengirl88.dreamwidth.org/117184.html with comment count unavailable comments.

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