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22 July 2011 @ 09:02 pm
the ghosts in the attic.  

THE GHOSTS IN THE ATTIC
AN ERIK/CHARLES COMPILATION
ten songs with ficlets in 3000 words;
a companion to lessons exquisitely crafted.
by annie (chezvous).
compiler's note: I will be honest, I pulled some cheap shots with this FST, but they're all songs that had the strongest emotional impact on me while I was writing and now I pass the FEELINGS onto you. I also listened to quite a few of these songs while I was undergoing my own radiation treatments way back when, so there's a bit of a personal attachment there as well.

The fics accompanying each track are written out of order and not meant to be a completely cohesive story; there's still a lot in-between to tell and maybe one day I will fill in some more of the blanks--suggestions are always welcome! Thank you, and enjoy. ♥

(disclaimer: My knowledge of Jewish blessings is limited to when I attended my friend's bat mitzvah...six years ago, so I had to wikipedia-fu the Hebrew; please don't take offense if I've fudged it up something awful. ;;)

listen (8trx) | download (42.53MB) | singles (mp3)
THE OCEAN
mae.

over unannounced (will you come over now?), silence broken by your voice in the dark. i need you here tonight just like the ocean needs the waves.
"Il y avait en Westphalie, dans le château de M. le baron de Thunder-ten-tronckh, un jeune garçon à qui la nature avait donné les mœurs les plus douces..."

Charles perks up from where he is chewing on his pen cap as he tries to staunch the headache of reading endless lines of double-spaced twelve-point Times New Roman, readjusting himself more comfortably against Erik's shoulder as he tries to peek at the book he is reading from. The pages are dog-eared and the spine is heavily creased--clearly, it's been well-read. "I didn't know you could speak French. German, I knew, but this is a surprise."

Erik nods without looking over, touching his thumb to his tongue before flipping through the yellowing pages thoughtfully. "I studied at the Sorbonne for a few years. Mon professeur said my accent was irrevocably German, but I get by."

"I like your accent," says Charles, and it's true--there's something about the way Erik wraps his tongue around the elegant syllables, a bit gritty but still beautiful, like gilt that's been worn away. "What are you reading?"

"Voltaire. I can stop if you want to rest."

"No, please keep going." Charles smiles, closing his eyes. "The sound of your voice puts me at ease. It's a welcome distraction."

"Alright." Erik begins again, launching into the story about a young man named Candide who is an optimist at heart, and Charles dreams of a beautiful garden with high, high walls.
PAPERTHIN HYMN
anberlin.

these thoughts run through my head over and over. complaints of violins become my only friends. august evenings bring solemn warnings to remember to kiss the ones you love goodnight.
Erik receives the call on his lunch break.

"Mr. Lehnsherr--?" The voice on the other line is high and terrified, and the smile that crept onto his face from seeing Charles' name on his caller ID dies away almost instantly, replaced with an instant, mounting panic that makes his chest tighten even as his stomach drops.

"What's wrong?" He snaps, shoving the cast iron table away from him as he stands, scattering the remains of his Greek salad all over the patio and the front of his trousers. "What's happened?”

The world suddenly feels very small and very far away.

"I-it's the Professor," The voice, a student, then--female, he registers dimly--stammers and Erik wants to scream at her to get on with it, but he forces himself to listen. "He just--c-collapsed in the middle of lecture, we tried to give him CPR but he--nothing helped--the ambulance just arrived, they took him away a-and his phone was on the desk, y-you were listed as his--emergency contact--he was so pale, oh my god--what if he--ohgodohgod--"

"Which hospital?" Erik's patience is far past gone and he crams the phone harder against his ear so he can hear her voice over the frantic beating of his heart. Perhaps it's the open hostility in his voice that makes her squeak and spit out the name, but he doesn't care, he's already hung up and shoved the phone back into his coat pocket, vaulting over the waist-high fence and reaching for the keys to his motorcycle, biting his tongue so hard that he tastes blood in the back of his throat as the engine starts up with an angry growl.
GHOSTS OF YOU
chantal kreviazuk.

we took a secret vow that we would never change. you always loved to dance; I wish we had another chance to go back in time and do it all again. please don’t go, these ghosts of you are the only thing that helps get me through the day.
They met on the first day of Erik's new position as Assistant Professor of 20th Century European History at Columbia University. He had mistaken Charles for a grad student at first, though to his credit he wasn't much older than most of his students and was at least twenty years younger than the next member of the faculty in his department.

After a series of misunderstandings that were immensely uncomfortable and awkward for Erik but quite amusing for Charles (the least of them involving Erik falling into a fountain and Charles leaping in after him), they finally managed to reconcile over twin lattés in one of the packed student-run cafés on campus, so cramped that their knees knocked together beneath the rickety table.

Somehow the coffee date (though Erik won't realize that it was a date was until later) evolved into the promise of a lunch date, which then led to an invitation to attend each others' classes, where discussions over lecturing methods unearthed the discovery of a mutual love for chess. Sensibly, these were soon joined by a steady stream of spirited debate about philosophy and morals, ethics as they pertain to history and science, discussions that went late into the night and ended with Charles kipping out on Erik's couch for a night or two every week.

And if, one morning, one of them had kissed the other over eggs and coffee as naturally as if they've been doing this for months--well, who is to say that they haven't been?
AIM, SNAP, FALL
spill canvas.

the phone call left me paralyzed from the waist down, the pureness of it all, and then your siren began to sing. i know this may be redundant but i think it bears repeating. i think i've found my other half; i swear I've found my better half.
He's been sure of the diagnosis for days now, but they both wait with bated breath as Charles slits the envelope open with steady, surgical precision. The paper gives smoothly and in his mind's eye it becomes a scalpel opening up skin, allowing all the guts within to tumble out and bathe his hands in blood. He's usually not so morbid with his thoughts.

Erik watches him as he sheathes the letter opener and sets it to the side, pulls the single sheet of paper out and unfolds the very top portion gingerly. His eyes do not immediately go to the line labeled DIAGNOSIS. Instead, he forces himself to start from the very top of the page and read every line carefully.

Name: Charles Francis Xavier. Gender: Male. Age: 29. Date of birth: March 5, 1982.

Diagnosis: LOW-GRADE GLIOMA.

Please contact the Neurological Institute of New York, Columbia University Medical Center at ( 212-305-2500 ) to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.


It's almost a relief, but there's no way for Erik not to interpret his sigh in the wrong context and Charles lets him take the paper from his hands, zoning in right away on the diagnosis. Charles doesn't wait for his reaction to stand up and walk into the kitchen. He suddenly has a strange craving for peanut butter and he doesn't think he's going to be able to start editing the third chapter of Hank's thesis without fulfilling it.

"Charles--"

"Erik," He calls back with a small frown, unable to find a jar in the pantry in the midst of the boxes of pasta and half-eaten bags of chips. When he has the time, he will need to reorganize the kitchen as well. "Do you know if we're out of peanut butter? Do you think you could run to the grocery store before dinner to pick some up?"

"Charles."

Charles shuts the door to the pantry slowly, turning to face Erik, who is standing in the doorway with an disbelieving and slightly manic expression on his face. "I heard you the first time, Erik. Can we wait until tomorrow to deal with this, please? Or at least tonight, later tonight. I don't think I could--right now--" He smiles weakly, shrugging helplessly. "You understand, don't you?"

It takes a beat for Erik to jerk his jaw tersely in a nod and reach into his coat for his keys. "Right, then. I'll be back," He says, then takes a half-step around before whipping around. "Charles, don't--"

"I know." Charles lets himself lean against the refrigerator door, holding his palms out in placation. "I won't do anything rash while you're gone, I promise. I just want some peanut butter, that's all."

Calm your mind, Charles Xavier, He chides himself when he hears the front door slam distantly, pressing his palms to his temples as his knees buckle and he slides into a sitting position against the refrigerator, forcing himself to take deep, slow breaths. For the first time in his life, he feels a tinge of doubt that mind can truly overcome matter.
HEY NOW
augustana.

we're passing the time by breaking apart, we're damned at the end and we're damned at the start. blame it on the roses, blame it on the red, we're running out of time and i'm running out of breath.
Dear Students,

Thank you so very much for all of your kind messages concerning my well-being these past two weeks. Doubtless by now you've heard of the circumstances surrounding my mysterious disappearance--regrettably, I must confirm the rumors that I will be unable to lecture for the remainder of the semester for personal health reasons. My GTA Hank McCoy will be taking over classes in my stead and handing out assignments; you are, as always, welcome to e-mail me with questions (or if you are feeling particularly adventurous, to give them to Professor Lehnsherr in the History department to pass on to me--I will give a point back on the final exam to any soul brave enough to do so).

Best wishes,
Charles Xavier, PhD
Genetics and Development
Columbia University, NY
WINTER BONES
stars.

you say, "is this a war?" hardly, and then you hit a wall. honestly, you want to know but you can't. i believe, i want to believe, in anything.
Charles makes it abundantly clear the first time he allows Erik to see him naked after the first round of chemotherapy that he doesn't want gentle. He doesn't want to be taken care of and treated like he's breakable--he has more than enough nurses coddling him for that.

What he wants is for Erik to look at him like he did the first night they slept together, all hot, dark eyes and a ravenous appetite, groaning out gorgeous, blasphemous things in German as he slammed Charles against the wall and dropped to his knees.

Erik doesn't want to do that--he imagines that if he were to throw Charles against anything now, he would break quite a few bones and be extremely displeased when Erik would tell him that he told him so. Actually, Erik is wary about engaging in physical intimacy with Charles at all right now, but all it takes is for Charles to glance pointedly at Erik's left hand before he decides that this petulance needs to stop.

They fuck as if Erik can fuck the sickness right out of him if he tries hard enough. When that fails, they make love as if Charles has already been granted a death sentence.
ONLY ASHES
something corporate.

i can tell as you turn, i smell the sulfur so clear and fire's a beautiful sound. and the wings that you burn, turn to ashes, my dear, and ashes just fall to the ground. and we're only ashes.
"I should write a will." Charles said it as if he thought he might wear the green shirt to work today. "I will leave the house to Raven, of course, and Hank might like my geraniums. Is there anything of mine in particular that you would like, Erik?"

It devolved into the worst fight they've ever had--worse than after the first phone call, worse even than the haircut because this time, Charles didn't raise his voice or deny any of Erik's accusations, just leaned back against the pillows and listened, voice infuriatingly even, as if it didn't matter at all.

"You're a coward, Charles."

"Perhaps, but I'm not like you, Erik. I can't keep fighting like this--I must be at peace with whatever happens."

No, Erik wants to say, No, you don't--peace doesn't have to be an option, Charles, not when it comes to your life. And then he had left, stalked out without saying good-bye, almost knocking over the attending nurse as he dug a cigarette out of the crushed box in the pocket of his trousers, ignoring her cries of "No smoking near the patients!"

Now he stands below the window of Charles' hospital room with a cigarette stub between the fingers of one hand, the other shoved beneath his armpit in a futile attempt to stop the February wind from cutting through the thin wool of his black turtleneck. He bites his lips as he flicks the stub into the snow and lights another, shoving it between his teeth and stamping his feet to keep the feeling in his toes. He's been through worse, except that—no, he really hasn't.

He's finishing his fifth cigarette when his mobile vibrates in his pocket. He flips it open--one message from Charles. Chess? It says.

Erik scoffs incredulously, staring at the screen before it vibrates again, cheerfully notifying him of another new message.

:) Instinctively, he looks up at the window and is greeted by Charles looking down at him, waving sheepishly. I'm sorry is the third text. <3 is the fourth.

Erik knows he shouldn’t have taught Charles how to text, but it had seemed like a useful thing to do at the time—now it just confuses him. Erik prefers everything to be straightforward and the four texts he has just received are anything but. He stares at Charles, who stares back with his nose against the window in a way quite unbefitting a thirty-year-old genetics professor, least of all because it’s horridly and perversely adorable, until he rolls his eyes and pulls out his phone to text Erik something else.

Just come back upstairs, please? One game. We’ll talk.

He has half a mind to refuse so he can brood some more, but then a sixth text arrives: It looks cold outside, so I had the nurse bring up coffee.

Fine, Erik texts back, only he can’t really feel his fingers anymore so it comes out more like Fibn and he looks up to see Charles laughing at his screen and really, it’s that smile that melts away any of the residual anger not already tempered by the biting chill. Though he didn’t know it at the time (or perhaps he did), Erik was a lost cause the first time he was treated to that smile.

Groovy. ;) says his phone, and Erik rolls his eyes, shoving it back in his pocket and heading back inside with only a nominal amount of teeth-chattering. One of these days, he will learn how to stay angry at Charles Xavier long enough to actually be able to make his point.
NIGHTMINDS
missy higgins.

just lay it all down. put your face into my neck and let it fall out. i know, i know, i know. i knew before you got home. this world you're in now, it doesn't have to be alone, i'll get there somehow.
The nights immediately after the chemo treatments are the worst. There are some nights where Charles does not sleep at all, but shakes in Erik’s arms, eyelids fluttering madly as he murmurs, yelps sometimes at demons that only he can see, demons that take the shape of his stepfamily, the only time he has ever mentioned them. His temperature fluctuates at an alarming rate and he alternates between shivering and breaking out into a cold sweat every hour. Erik hasn’t prayed since his mother died, but he finds himself reciting the old Jewish blessings as he presses his lips to Charles’ forehead, murmurs the words that his mother’s Rabbi recited in their home when he was fourteen years old.

barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha olam, ha gomel lahayavim tovot sheg'malani kol tov

Erik has never wanted much in his life—but this, Charles, and what he has given Erik—he has truly come to believe that he cannot live without it. One more day, He prays as he holds the trashcan that Charles empties his mostly-empty stomach into, rubbing his back and making soothing sounds, passing him a glass of water to rinse his mouth with when he’s finished. Please, please, let me keep him for one more day.
COMING TO TERMS
carolina liar.

'cause this hurts, i can't leave. i understand, but can you? i'm just scared, you're lonely; everyone knows you're better than me. i'm coming to terms, i'm starting to learn this ain't all it's cracked up to be.
Erik, I'm tired.

How long has it been, my friend? A month? Two months, six? A year? See, I can't even keep track of it anymore.

Maybe forever. That's what it feels like. Is that what it feels like for you?

Raven doesn't come much anymore, does she? It hurts her too much, to see her brother wasting away like this. No, that's--that's good. She should be out in the world, enjoying life and being able to binge-drink and coming home at four in the morning while it is still fashionable for her to do so. I do miss her, of course, but--well.

And--Erik, not that I don't enjoy your company, of course I do--I could wish for nothing better, but don't you have your own teaching post to get back to? Who is going to pay for all of my hospital bills, otherwise? I'd like to mention in particular the steady diet of my body weight in lemon ice and prescription cocktails, which, admittedly, is currently less than I would like to manfully admit.

...no, you're correct, this is not a joking matter--I'm sorry.

Do you want to know a secret?

I'm terrified, Erik. I don't want to die, of course I don't, but when I think of the alternative, of fighting this disease for the rest of my life from a
hospital bed, it almost doesn't seem like the worse option when the other is some measure of peace, some respite from it all.

...But then, peace was never an option, was it? Not for you, and if I am to keep you at peace, then I must continue to fight.
HOMECOMING (ERIC'S SONG)
vienna teng.

strange how I fit into you; there's a distance erased with the greatest of ease. strange how you fit into me, a gentle warmth filling the deepest of needs.
"Oh," Charles breathes, fingers trembling as he holds the smooth silver band up to the light. It's absolutely beautiful, so bright it's almost white in color, and still warm from where Erik had kept it in his palm all morning. "Oh, Erik, I--"

I thought you said you weren't suited for marriage. I thought you said this was all we would ever need.

Erik doesn't give an explanation, but he must know the question that Charles is asking in his mind because he reaches for his hand, closing Charles' fingers over the ring, one by one. "Say yes," He murmurs, eyes soft and a little uncertain, as if he is fearful that Charles may not. "Please."

Charles tries to swallow the sudden rise of tears in his throat, his own voice wavering as he beckons Erik closer, leaning forward as much as he is able to cup his jaw with an unsteady hand. The curve of his cheek is prickly with the first hints of five o'clock shadow.

Erik leans into the touch, shuts his eyes and exhales, entire body shuddering with some unreleased tension. Charles smiles, daring not to speak above a whisper for fear that this moment will dissipate like so many other fever dreams before.

"Oh, my love..." He ducks his head, laughing with impossible joy as he pulls Erik to him and kisses him properly, letting the tears spill over to stick on both their cheeks. Erik smells like afternoon air, tastes of the sun-warmed earth, of the promise of life.

"I have been saying yes for years."


 
 
 
(Deleted comment)
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on July 26th, 2011 07:30 am (UTC)
TO DISTRACT YOU FROM THE FACT THAT THERE IS ACTUALLY WRITING TO ACCOMPANY IT???

No, I kid. Sort of. I hope it won't disappoint too badly ;_____;
(Deleted comment)
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:34 am (UTC)
dude this comment is only like a week late but w/e


nosrsly this is what you get for giving me the worst best worst ideas and making me turn them all into fics i will never finish SO YOU BETTER CRY


I
LOVE
YOU
????
♥♥♥
crow821crow821 on July 26th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
Holy God... wow. Talk about writing that packs an emotional punch. Fabulous fic and the music fits perfectly. And even more so the fact that it was kind of written off personal experiences. Wow. I'm totally not a creepy net stalker, but I really wanna hug you right now...

Yeah but anyway, good job.
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:35 am (UTC)
Sorry for the late response--lj has been the biggest headache all week. Thank you so much, and hugs are never creepy net stalkery with me, SO SHH, JUST COME. \o/♥♥♥
(no subject) - crow821 on August 5th, 2011 03:03 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - chezvous on August 5th, 2011 05:02 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - crow821 on August 5th, 2011 02:26 pm (UTC) (Expand)
digitalwavedigitalwave on July 26th, 2011 05:18 pm (UTC)
Wow, sweetie! This was powerful, heartbreaking and hopeful all in one. And filled with love.

Thank you so, so much for sharing this with us.
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:35 am (UTC)
And thank you so very much for taking the time to read. Much love! ♥
Javellejavelle on July 26th, 2011 07:16 pm (UTC)
This is unbearably lovely. *sobs*
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:36 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for saying so. ♥
Strayfish: Charles using his powersstrayfish on July 26th, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
That was really powerful. A beautiful story and soundtrack, and if I may say, quite wonderful design and typography to boot ;)
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. ♥ I figured readers would appreciate a complete package.
__♥..Jemz-y Baby..♥__jemzamia on July 26th, 2011 11:29 pm (UTC)
This is great :)
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:37 am (UTC)
Thank you! c:♥
whirr bzzzzzt beepmintine on July 27th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
ahlwjehfewabebgf


YOU
i

screams


least coherent comment i;ve typed ni forevef CRIES.
whirr bzzzzzt beep: ❛harley❜ lesbiansmintine on July 27th, 2011 04:22 am (UTC)
oh god this was even less coherent than i was expecting it to be
(no subject) - chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
bringing the party to youscintillulae on July 27th, 2011 05:00 am (UTC)
Why is everything you create so BEAUTIFUL. ;3; ♥
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:40 am (UTC)
;LKAJSF;LKAJSF; it's really not, but thank you, bb. ;w;♥
(no subject) - scintillulae on August 1st, 2011 08:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
telperion_15: X Men ErikCharlestelperion_15 on July 27th, 2011 09:27 am (UTC)
I'm choked up here. In my *office*, for heaven's sake! I hope no one walks in right now...

Gorgeous! :)
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:41 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, I hope no one did! ;w; Thank you so much. ♥
Carlysweetxrevenge3 on July 28th, 2011 05:05 am (UTC)
This was beautiful, fully crying.
Kudos.
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 1st, 2011 06:41 am (UTC)
Thank you. ♥
(Deleted comment)
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 6th, 2011 05:10 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! ♥ Let me tell you how much fun it was trying to debug this layout while LJ was going on the fritz (spoilers: the answer is NOT FUN AT ALL) but at least it worked out. :)
drinking the otp kool-aidpocky_slash on August 5th, 2011 04:03 am (UTC)
I... can't even make words. I want to go curl up somewhere and cry on their behalf. This is just so absolutely amazing. It was the Vienna Teng that killed me. That was the only song I knew, but I know it well and I couldn't help but hear it in my head as I read and... yeah. Just amazing. ♥
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 6th, 2011 05:16 am (UTC)
This entire story really stemmed from Eric's Song (because the long and the short of this origin story was one night I was like "LOL ERIC'S SONG IS LIKE ERIK'S SONG AND THESE LYRICS ARE SO APPROPRIATE HOW CAN I MAKE A STORY OUT OF THIS----ohh.") so I'm glad you felt a connection with it. Thank you so much for reading! ♥
ginbitchginbitch on August 5th, 2011 06:38 am (UTC)
My heart! My poor heart! Beautiful and poignant without being cloying! Lovely stuff. And with a light touch - the line about handing in essays to Erik made me giggle. Memmi ng - and would you mind if I friended you?
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 6th, 2011 05:17 am (UTC)
Thank you! That letter was probably my favorite out of the ten to write. And of course--I've added you back! :)♥
(no subject) - chezvous on August 6th, 2011 05:18 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - ginbitch on August 6th, 2011 08:47 am (UTC) (Expand)
Luna: James treelunafille on August 6th, 2011 12:04 am (UTC)
This is so so so achingly beautiful, so very moving, just absolutely gorgeous and it made me cry at the gorgeous richness of emotion conveyed in these lovely words, the full beauty and complexity of their incredible relationship. So beautiful! Thank you so much for this. It's a treasure!
my hat is deep & full of magic.chezvous on August 6th, 2011 05:19 am (UTC)
Like I said before, you are way too kind ;o;♥ Thank you so much and I'm beyond happy that you've enjoyed it so much.