It burned. And it hurt. Charles' vision was blurry and he could hear screams coming from somewhere, probably his own open mouth, screaming his pain into the void. There wasn't anything but the pain in his world, mind swirling with many thoughts at the same time, as well with pure white pain.
They had cut one of his wings right from the root, the familiar sensation of muscles moving to move his right wing now hurt like- like Hell, whenever he tried to move something that wasn't there anymore. His left wing wasn't cut, but they had burned it, had incinerated most of the feathers as Charles screamed and begged for mercy.
But it wasn't mercy for him that he was asking, it was for Erik, whose screams of pain seemed to shake Charles' world like an earthquake. He could endure the pain, could deal with his wings being torn off and burned as a punishment for loving Erik in a way that angels shouldn't, but his powers allowed him to get into others' minds — mortals and angels alike — and Erik's mind was screaming as much as his mouth, screaming from pain and screaming for Charles, wondering if Charles was okay, wondering if he was feeling the same pain and getting angry as he realized Charles was feeling that pain.
He saw in Erik's mind at that moment how much he wanted to burn Heaven down for making Charles feel that kind of pain.
Charles looked up, vision completely blurred and head heavy as he tried to look for Erik around the- the room? He didn't know where he was anymore, all he knew was the cold solid ground under him and the buzzing of far away minds of angels deciding the next move to punish the two of them. He saw Erik laid on the ground, eyes half open and looking at Charles as well. He used the little strength that was left in his form to move forward, whining as his entire body complained with the movement, shoulder blades hurting in an almost debilitating manner. Even so, he stretched his arm, trying to touch Erik. He needed that touch, needed to feel it one last time, because he knew what would come next. Oblivion.
Erik's hand reached for his as well, the brush of fingers making Charles huff out a laugh in the middle of all that pain. Pleasure in the midst of pain, a simple touch that gave him strength to keep that touch happening, to stay there. With Erik.
He calmed Erik's mind as best as he could, pushing the pain to some part of his head that wouldn't hurt as much as their fingers touched. The entire world around them was blurry, except for their eyes. They kept the gaze on each other, seeking comfort on that, not even the pain made them close their eyes when they knew that would be the last time they would be able to do that, to look at each other and love each other. So they kept looking, minds and fingers intertwined, until the darkness came.
The man appeared on the bus stop opposite to Charles at the same time as always, tall frame standing out in the middle of the few people standing next to him, stern face watching his surroundings before stormy eyes locked with Charles' own in that magnetic lock that none of them seemed to be able to break until their bus arrived and they were forced to look away from each other. Everytime that it happened, something in Charles' back hurt, a faint pain as if it was an old injury who never fully healed, and he knew the man felt the same kind of pain when he saw Charles. He'd seen the man put a hand on his shoulder with a frown once, opposite side to where Charles felt his pain — the ache came from Charles' right side, while the man seemed to feel it on his left. He didn't know why, but he knew that the mysterious man from the other bus stop and him were linked in some way.
Charles couldn't figure out how, as much as he tried. He was pretty sure he never met the man in his entire life — he felt like he would remember that face if he had —, but there was something in him that told him he knew the man, that blurry part of his mind that often made Charles confused, made him think that the life he was living was not his. Identity crisis, his therapist once said when Charles told her about the way he didn't feel like himself working on his nine to five job, behind a desk, typing away and printing important papers for the firm he worked for, how he didn't feel like himself eating meals alone in his tiny apartment, sometimes feeling the ghost of that non-existent injury on the right side of his body, right on his shoulder blades. He wanted to believe his therapist, but that blurry part of his mind told him there was more.
He kept his eyes on the man on the other side of the road, none of them daring to cross the street and talk to each other, an invisible force apparently keeping them apart, keeping on different sides of the road, doomed to only stare at each other and wonder who the other was, as if something bad would happen if they got closer. Charles kept his gaze locked with those grey eyes, searching for something, for answers for that blurry part of his mind that he seemed to never be able to get into focus. All he could get was the aching of his heart once again, a clench of feelings Charles didn't understand but that were tightly tied to that man on the other side of the street.
He kept staring, and so did the man, until Charles' bus came and blocked his view from the other side of the street. Charles sighed, breath coming out broken as he closed his eyes for a moment, trying to calm his mind before stepping inside the bus and taking a seat. He tried to look at the man through the window, a few last moments of staring at those eyes at least, frowning once he noticed the man wasn't there anymore. Charles wondered where he had gone, if he had left once Charles was out of view, but soon his eyes found the man and he felt his breathing stop. Inside the bus, the man was looking at him with even more confusion in his eyes, body tense as if he was scared to get closer.
Charles just waited, not knowing what he wanted the man to do, if he wanted the man to leave or if he wanted him to get closer, to finally ask who he was. After a few seconds of just standing there, making a few people look at him weird, the man moved, walking carefully until he was sat at Charles' side, his left shoulder against Charles' right one. They stayed in silence for a moment, staring, and there was no way it could be a coincidence anymore, Charles could feel it in his gut that the man had the same kind of feeling whenever he looked at Charles that Charles had when looking at the strange man.
"I'm Erik." he said quietly, tentatively, and the name rang something in Charles' mind — that blurry part of his mind again — as well in Charles' heart.
"Charles." he said simply, raising a hand politely for Erik to hold.
Erik looked at the hand for a moment, brow furrowed, before he moved to shake it. Or at least it was what Charles thought he was going to do. Erik didn't grab his hand, didn't shake it, instead letting his fingers faintly touch the tips of Charles' own. Charles lost his breath again, blurry part of his mind now seeming to desperately try to focus as their fingers touched. He didn't even realize the tears falling from his eyes, or the ones falling from Erik's, until both of them looked up, gazes intertwined again. Erik let out a breath that he was holding, stormy eyes watching Charles carefully before he spoke again.
"I think I know you…"