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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

X-Men fic: Five Times Peter Almost Told Erik the Truth (1/1)

November 13th, 2017 (03:28 pm)
amused

feeling: amused

Title: Five Time Peter Almost Told Erik The Truth

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: If I never get to see Erik finding out the truth that Peter’s his kid, I may go a little nuts. Until then, there is always fic. This fills my major injury prompt for hc_bingo. Super unbeta’ed.

Summary: Erik’s not looking for a son. Peter tells himself he’s never looked for a father. There’s no reason to start now.



-o-

One

See, Peter doesn’t get it, not right away. He’s fast, but even going a million miles a minute, he’s a bit slow on the uptake.

In fact, none of it comes together for him until he’s back at home. Speeding in and out, he pauses long enough to see his mom watching the TV. It’s not hard to notice what’s on, either.

Peter swears.

“Is this live?” he asks, jumping over the couch to plop down next to her. “Like, really?”

His mother is stony faced. “Yep.”

Peter cringes. Because okay, yeah, attacks on the president are bad and national security is important and whatever. But that’s the dude -- that’s the guy. That’s the guy Peter broke out of prison.

Threatening to drop a stadium on the president of the United States.

Peter swears again.

His mother looks at him, sharply. “Something you want to tell me, Peter?”

He blinks at her, dumbfounded with wide-eyed surprise. His mind races, coming to an inevitable, crashing conclusion.

She knows.

She knows what he did.

She knows that he’s an accomplice to a terrorist attack on the President of the United States.

All Peter can do is swear again.

Face pinched, he’s a little surprised that she doesn’t accuse him of anything. She’s always sort of known, about the things he brings home, about the times he just disappears. But all she does this time is stand up, marching across the room to turn off the television set.

“It’s better not knowing,” she mutters, turning toward the kitchen. “We’re all going to keep our secrets, Peter.”

Peter looks back at the TV and wonders why she’s letting him off this easily.

It’s later, that night, when she’s crying herself to sleep that Peter gets it.

A man who can move metal.

We’re all going to keep our secrets, Peter.

A man who made his mother turn off the TV.

My mom knew a guy who could do that once.

Needless to say, Peter swears again.

He’s out the door before he has a chance to think about it twice, and he’s at the scene by daybreak. After poking his head in and out around the security perimeter, he deduces that he needs to expand his search. He checks the airport, bus stations and finally the docks.

That’s where he sees him, of all places. Standing in line for a boat with a fake ID in his pocket.

Peter knows this.

He checked.

There’s no cops; there’s no one giving them a second look. Peter has all the time in the world to confront him, to ask what the hell he was thinking -- back in Washington and 19 years ago when he left his mom, pregnant and alone.

And Peter wants to. He wants to because he broke this dude out of prison. Because this is the guy who made his mom cry. Because this guy is his father.

18 years, Peter’s never thought a lot about having a dad.

Face to face with his own, he’s still not sure what to think of it.

He’s still standing, frozen in place, watching while the guy gets on the boat. Peter still has time, of course, but he doesn’t move. His dad is already leaving, and he’s not carrying baggage.

He’s not looking for a son.

Peter tells himself he’s never looked for a father.

There’s no reason to start now.

Two

There’s no reason, except for the fact that Peter wants to.

Okay, it’s not his fault. He wants to know his dad. That’s not weird. It’s not even bad. It’s totally and completely normal.

Of course, it would have been easier to come to that conclusion years ago, when he had the chance to stop his old man from getting on a boat and disappearing for, basically, ever. He tries not to dwell on it, but that’s really just cute to say. Peter dwells on it all the time.

It gets so bad that he finds himself standing on the street, watching dads with their kids. He just stands there! Watching!

“For goodness sakes,” his mother scolds him. “All your life I’ve told you to slow down, and you’re just now taking me seriously?”

She swats him so hard that it actually hurts.

Do something about it!” she says. “Or I swear to God, I will kick you out of this house.”

He could argue that she’d be really unsuccessful trying to lock him out, but he knows that’s not the point. That’s not the thing. It’s just…

What is the thing?

How do you reach out for a father you let walk away?

How do you fix something you were too late to make right?

Desperate enough, he finally sits down to write a letter. He doesn’t know where he’s going to send it, but it seems like an appropriate start. It would be, anyway, if he knew what to say.

Because what do you say?

Hi! Remember that time I broke you out of prison so you could almost assassinate the president? Good times, right? We should hang out again -- without breaking the law -- because I’m your son!

He scraps that version, and the version after that. Within a day, he’s gone through all the paper in the house and used up every pencil and pen. He’s written so hard and so fast that the table breaks in half from the stress of his superspeed handwriting.

Still, he can’t bring himself to throw the copies away, because they’re the closest he’s come in two decades. Instead, he hides those letters -- and all the rest he starts and abandons over the years -- in empty boxes of Twinkies.

Somehow, it just sort of seems right.

Which is to say, it’s completely wrong.

But then, what else is new?

Three

One day, Peter wakes up and ten years have passed.

That’s a hell of a thing, time passing like that. He’s blurred out all his seconds into days, weeks, months, years, and he’s got nothing to show for it.

Not that there’s really anything he wants to do.

That’s a particular problem for Peter, setting long term goals. He’s the guy who can finish anything in a matter of seconds, so it’s not like he’s big on delayed gratification.

There is, of course, that one thing.

He thinks of the back of his dad’s head as he boarded the boat across the sea. He thinks of the letters stuffed into Twinkie boxes.

He thinks of his hand to his dad’s hair. Did his old man even say thank-you when he saved his life?

That one thing is the truth he can’t outrun.

No, that’s the truth he has to face.

He takes the card out of his wallet and looks it over.

Xavier’s School for Talented Youngsters.

It sounds just ridiculous enough to be legit. Charles Xavier, after all, is an upstanding kind of guy. He’s all professional and polished; people trust him. Peter’s tried the less reputable ways to figure his stuff out, so maybe it’s time to give respectable a try.

That’s the plan, anyway. He’ll make his way to the school, talk to Xavier and explain the situation. He’ll ask about his dad, get information about where to find him, and that will be that.

It will be great.

It’s going to work; it really is.

Peter believes that until he stops just outside the grounds and realizes that everything’s on fire.

“Huh,” Peter says, hesitating for nothing more than a split second. So much for respectable.

Still, Peter’s come all this way.

The truth can wait.

The people inside -- he decides -- really probably can’t.

Peter can fix that much.

And Peter does.

Four

So, it’s really not gone according to plan. As if the exploding house hadn’t been enough, he’d also been captured and taken into custody by some weird-ass military unit operating on some strange interpretation of the law. Then he’s putting on a flight suit and jetting across the world to Egypt, confessing his entire life story to anyone -- and he does mean anyone -- who will listen.

You would think, then, that with all the times Peter’s told the truth in the last 24 hours that it would be easy to do it when it really matters.

But, in the heat of battle, looking at his dad, the confession just doesn’t come.

He hears it in his head, for whatever that’s worth, and it sounds pretty good. It makes sense. And, really, Peter knows it could make a difference. His old man is going to town on the metal structures, and Raven is appealing to his humanity when his powers are edging it out. And Peter -- he’s got like the best leverage ever.

If he tells his dad the truth, right here and right now, he might actually save the world.

That’s the scary part, though.

What if his dad doesn’t stop? What if he looks at Peter, sees his own flesh and blood, and just keeps going? What would Peter do then?

And honestly -- if Peter’s going to tell the truth -- what if his dad does stop? What if his old man came to him, trying to make up for lost time? What if he was ready to lay down everything for Peter’s sake, so they could have a second chance at, well, everything?

The truth is a scary son of a bitch, when you get right down to it.

Someday, Peter won’t be able to outrun it.

Today, however, is definitely not that day.

Five

Peter has a broken leg and some badly damaged pride. It’s a hell of thing, going off to save the world. Even more so when you fail spectacularly.

No one says it like that, and Peter knows they’re not even thinking it.

They don’t have to.

Peter is.

But Xavier puts him up at the school grounds, and people come to visit him, and it’s kind of like family.

Then, out of nowhere, Erik visits him, too.

And that, for the record, isn’t like family. It is family.

His old man plays it cool, or as cool as one is able after almost destroying the world.

Again.

But Peter’s not one to start holding grudges, even if the sight of his dad in the same room as him makes him act even weirder than usual. He tries to be normal and cool about it, which just makes him even weirder.

As if Peter needs to act weirder.

Honestly.

But for every weird and awkward thing Peter puts out there, his dad doesn’t leave. He makes stupid jokes about Twinkies, and he tells his dad inane stories about all the times he skipped out of his high school classes. He rambles endlessly about popular music, and explains, in explicit detail, how he keeps bugs out of his mouth when he runs.

When he laments the problems of being fast in intimate relationships, his dad squirms like a son of a bitch and gives Peter a withering look.

For some reason, though, he doesn’t leave.

In fact, he visits Peter the day after that and the day after that. Maybe the guy is just being polite. Maybe he’s doing this for all the new X-Men, as they are wont to be. Maybe he feels guilty that Peter got hurt and came all the way to Egypt to stop him. Maybe he’s the lonely and awkward one with nothing else to do except hang around kids twenty years younger than him.

Or maybe -- just maybe -- his dad knows the truth.

It’s not like he couldn’t suspect. It’s not like Peter’s going around by some sort of alias on a full time basis. It’s not like Maximoff is a super common last name, and it’s not like they both didn’t have a moment ten years ago.

The man’s not stupid. Confused, conflicted, possibly evil at times, but not stupid.

He’s probably just waiting for Peter to say something.

So Peter does.

But not about that.

He talks about the relative differences of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. He talks about Coca-Cola and Tab soda. He talks about headphones and special ordering silver jackets. He talks about reinforced soles on shoes that he still wears out in a week at a time. And then he talks about the jobs he tries to work to pay for said shoes, and how he’s either the best worker in the place -- so damn fast! -- or the one that gets fired after a day.

He talks about anything and everything, so long as it’s not about that.

Now, as far as stupid goes, that’s probably it, and Peter’s not really ashamed to admit it. The thing is, sure, this could be the perfect moment to tell his dad, but that’s the point. This is the perfect moment. He’s spending time with his old man, and he’s having a blast. For the first time in his life, he’s getting to know his dad, and that’s the best thing he’s ever had -- period.

If he tells the truth, things are going to be different.

There will be hard questions and difficult answers.

Things will change, and maybe not for the better.

Sure, after all this, people call Peter a hero.

Deep down, though, he knows he’s still the same coward he’s always been.

And One Time He Actually Did

Well, Peter’s done it this time.

He’s made mistakes before, but he’s never been face to face with consequences he can’t outrun.

And yeah. He can’t outrun this.

He could have, at one point. Before he got himself impaled on a gnarly look piece of metal.

That’s right, impaled. In his front and out through the back, and it hurts like a son of a bitch, not to mention the fact that he’s leaking like a sieve, and Peter’s come a long way from his mother’s basement, but not far enough.

He doesn’t have any say in that matter, though. He’s screwed it up this time, screwed it up so bad that he can’t fix it.

He closes his eyes, breathing through the pain.

No one can fix it.

Maybe they could, but they’re all busy doing their own thing. Funny thing, saving the world. There’s not exactly a lot of time to kick back and relax, not when you’re on the job, and this one had left them spread thing. Something about rogue government assets or something -- Peter only half cares about the briefings -- and they’d had to separate in order to, you know, divide and conquer.

They divided, sure.

Peter’s pretty sure he didn’t conquer.

To be fair, he’d been responsible for taking out the external sensors at the guard tower. Which he’d done, in a way.

He just hadn’t expected the guards in the tower to respond so violently -- they blew the damn thing up. Peter had been taking care to move the first guard someplace safe during the event, so he hadn’t turned around in time to see the blast. Obviously. If he’d seen a sharp piece of metal flying at him, he would have run.

As it is, he’s not running now. Nor will he be any time soon.

Trembling, he tries to press his fingers to the hole through his torso. He swallows, feeling blood start to well up in his throat.

They’ll be inside now, at least. He can feel the chill in the air -- Storm’s doing her thing. Mystique will lead the main assault with Scott and Jean. Hank will be in charge of the secondary access point, not too far from here. He’ll have Kurt with him, Storm, too.

Mission estimates put them on the clock for an hour.

They’re supposed to be home for dinner.

He has to laugh at that.

He’s not making dinner.

Gritting his teeth, he tries to breathe through the pain. For a moment, he tries to convince himself they’ll look for him when he doesn’t show up. That they will double back and make sure he’s okay.

Blood has coated his hands. He can feel it, starting to pool on the ground. It’s more than he’s seen in his life; too much. His stomach turns, hard.

He’s not crying; he’s not.

His entire body feels ice cold.

They won’t come soon enough.

There’s a finality to that, and it’s a little strange to him. Face to face with an inevitability he can’t outrun. It’s a hell of a time to really learn the extent of his limitations.

He shudders again, pressing his hand a little tighter against the wound for whatever it’s worth.

Truth be told, he’s not ready for this.

Truth be told, he’s not ready for anything.

Truth be told, he’s scared.

He’s really, really scared.

He chokes on a cry, and when it comes out a laugh, it almost strangles him. When he coughs, he can feel the blood splatter on his lips. The smell of metal in his nose.

Startling, he comes back to his senses.

Metal, he thinks. He looks dumbly at the iron cutting through him.

Metal. He looks up, and he’s actually not surprised when Magneto is there.

“Hey,” Peter says, half gargling now. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

The words come out slurred and rough, and he imagines he paints a macabre image.

“No,” Magneto agrees. He’s hovering in that way of his, levitating just off the ground by Peter’s feet. “But Charles called in for backup. As far as things go between us, you might say I owe him.”

“Oh,” Peter says. He glances feebly toward the rest of the compound. “Mission’s over there.”

Magneto doesn’t even look. “I am aware,” he comments before setting himself on the ground. “But I think I may be needed here instead.”

That makes complete sense.

And no sense at all.

Peter watches as his dad kneels next to him, reaching out gently. He flinches at his touch.

Magneto pulls away, concerned. “That hurt?”

Peter grunts a laugh. “I am impaled.”

That’s not it, though.

He closes his eyes.

When his dad touches him again, this time he braces himself. He forces air through his nose, trying to keep himself still. After a long moment, he opens his eyes again.

Magneto is looking at him, face pinched.

“Thanks for coming and all,” Peter quips, trying in futility to pull himself away. He almost props himself up, but his hand slips on his own blood. “But I think you’re a little late.”

The uncertainty dissipates from Magento’s expression. “Not too late,” he says, and he’s reaching out again. “Here, be still…”

Peter shakes his head. “But this is a big ass piece of metal,” he says, and he almost breaks with a hysterical laugh. “I mean, have you seen this thing?”

“I have,” Magneto says, punctuating the words heavily. “And have you forgotten who I am?”

Peter blinks, still trying to press his hand against the wound.

Has he forgotten?

Could he forget?

Magneto holds up his hand. “My name is aptly chosen,” he says, extending his fingers toward the metal that has twisted through Peter’s guts. “Metal is no match for me.”

Peter’s still making sense of that, when Magneto’s fingers flick back and Peter feels the metal shift against his skin. He feels it move, a terrible, agonizing inch, and he cries out in pain as the sensation overwhelms him. He’s slipping now, and he’s thinking about letting himself go, when he feels his dad’s touch again.

This time, not on the wound.

Calloused hands on his face, and he can hear his father’s voice in his ear. “Peter! Peter, listen to me!”

He opens his eyes, even more dumbfounded than before. His old man is there, and they’re almost nose to nose. He can feel his heart thudding in his chest as his dad looks at him.

This is exactly like he’s always dreamed.

The blood and pain -- that’s just an afterthought.

Weakly, Peter manages a smile. “I’m glad you’re here.”

Magneto’s brow furrows in consternation. “And why is that?” he asks tersely.

“Because,” Peter says, willing his eyes to stay open. He’s losing feeling now, and his hand falls limply at his side in the pool of blood. “Seems like my last chance to tell you the truth.”

Brusquely, Magneto reaches out, pressing his hands forcefully around the wound. “What truth?”

Peter shrugs. “That you’re my dad.”

All these years, all those letters, all those what-ifs in his head. Now that he’s said it, he’s not sure what took him so long except that this feels right.

He’s fading -- he’s dying -- and this seems right.

Even when it’s all wrong.

“What?” Magneto asks sharply.

Peter actually crying now, but that’s okay, too. Everything might be okay right about now. “I know, I know,” he says. “It’s bad timing, but I don’t know. Better late than never, right?”

Magneto -- his dad -- stares at him, incredulity written all over his face. It’s almost funny, since Peter’s being honest. Sure, this isn’t how he thought this would go, but there’s no way to change it now.

There’s no way he would.

Peter pulls his lips into one last, fading smile. “I’m sorry,” he says, and he’s slipping faster now. The split seconds are building up on him, and he’s losing control of everything. “I’m sorry.”

He’s not sure what he’s really apologizing for. If he’s sorry that he didn’t tell the truth sooner. If he’s sorry for dumping this on him while Peter’s blood is literally on his hands. If he’s sorry that they’ll never get a chance to figure out what this means.

It’s all of that, and more.

Peter’s just sorry.

He feels himself slumping, but Magneto catches him. He props him up, resting Peter as best he can against his own torso. It’s not an easy thing, what with the metal sticking through him in all, but Peter relaxes against the touch.

Magneto is talking to him now, pressing both hands with force against Peter’s chest. That would hurt, but Peter’s beyond pain.

He’s beyond everything now.

As he closes his eyes, he feels his dad hold him tighter.

That’s okay; that’s good.

There are a lot worse ways to die.

That’s going to be the way the story ends.

Except it isn’t.

Peter is surprised -- and pleasantly so -- when he wakes up some period of time later.

It’s less pleasant when he realizes how much pain he’s in. It feels like his entire body has been turned inside out and stuffed back inside of him.

Twice.

He can actually feel it, where the stitches are pulling his separated skin back together, and he wants to get up and check the medical charts to see what the hell is wrong with him, but it hurts too damn much.

He’s contemplating that when someone clears their throat.

Peter looks up, bleary-eyed and weak.

There, in the chair by his bed, is Magneto.

Not Magneto. There’s no cap or helmet. Just Erik Lehnsherr, wearing jeans and a button up shirt.

That’s a difficult image for Peter to cope with.

All things considered, he’d rather know about the near-death experience, thank you very much.

“Oh,” he says, not able to think of anything more intelligent to say. “What happened?”

This is, of course, the stupidest question possible. Peter knows what happened. He went and got himself almost killed and told the truth to his dad at the worst possible time ever.

“Well,” Erik says, clearing his throat. He cocks his head. “You are recovering from major surgery. You should be dead.”

He sounds vaguely amused and somewhat put out by this.

Peter licks his dry lips to no avail. “I thought I was.”

Erik shakes his head in exasperation. “Without me, you would have,” he says. “When you passed out, I got you to the hospital within minutes. I may have made a few...colorful threats to make sure the medical staff wasted no time in coming to your assistance.”

Peter wrinkles his nose. “That seems…,” he says and has to stop to really think about it, picturing it in his mind. “Drastic.”

“It seemed necessary,” his father replied. He presses his lips together for a moment. “Besides, you did most of the work yourself.”

“By getting impaled?” Peter asks.

“With the speed of your cellular regeneration,” Erik clarifies. “You’ve been here a week; most people wouldn’t have woken up for another month after what your body went through.”

“Right,” Peter says, nodding. He’s trying to make it sound like that makes sense.

Who is he kidding?

Nothing in his life actually makes sense.

Erik clears his throat again, shifting in his seat. “I’ve talked to your mother.”

Peter blanches. “Oh.”

Erik presses on. “And I’ve talked to Charles.”

He feels his stomach fall. This hadn’t seemed possible seconds ago, what with the stitches and all. Still, turns out he’s still capable of feeling worse.

Erik inclines his head in Peter’s direction. “Now I’m talking to you.”

Peter resists the urge to groan; he’s too embarrassed as it is. He’d take the metal through his gut again over this. This is why he never told the truth. This is why honesty isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Because now he’s half dead and stuck in a hospital bed with not enough drugs having the most awkward conversation with the man who is his father.

“Okay,” is all Peter can bring himself to say. He might throw up.

He wants to throw up.

He probably would, but the thought of pulling his stitches is a pretty convincing counterargument.

It’s marginally reassuring that Erik looks as uncomfortable as he is. He sits forward somewhat, swallowing hard. “Most confessions made on the battlefield mean nothing,” he begins, and it sounds like he’s practiced this. “When the body starts to shut down -- as yours did -- the mind can come up with the most outrageous things to say. Most of the time, such comments should be disregarded.”

“Oh,” Peter says, starting to nod. This sounds good to him. This sounds like maybe he doesn’t have to admit to the thing he’s already admitted to. “Yeah.”

Erik’s face is grave. “This time is different, though.”

That’s what Peter wants to hear. And what he doesn’t want to hear. It had made more sense, back when he was dying. Now that he’s living, he’s not sure what to make of things.

To make of them.

Like father, like son.

“Yeah?” Peter asks, almost like he doesn’t want the answer.

All these years, he’s hoarded the truth for himself, and part of him wishes that Erik would return the favor. It’d be easier this way, if they could go back to the way it was. There are some secrets you really don’t want to know.

Even when you really need to know.

There are a thousand expressions in Erik’s eyes, but he settles for something that resembles compassion. “We’re going to talk about that,” he says, rather purposefully now. He holds Peter’s eye contact with a deliberate nod. “And everything else, I’m sure. When you’re better.”

That’s...a good answer.

At least, Peter thinks it’s a good answer.

It doesn’t make things perfect, but it doesn’t start them at zero. It doesn’t deny the weirdness that has become their relationship, but it also doesn’t obfuscate it either. It’s just the truth.

What happens next, well, that’s up to the both of them.

Pushing his pain aside, Peter sits up a little in the bed. “Wait,” he says. “Does that mean…”

He studies Erik’s face, looking for any kind of deception.

His breath catches, and it’s not the damage to his healing body this time. “Does that mean you’re staying?”

“Well, you’re my son,” Erik says with a shrug as he sits back. He seems nonplussed by this. “Where else would I go?”

Now, that’s a confession. Sure, Peter got the big whopper between the two of them, but Erik gets the one that actually matters.

After all this time, Peter knows a thing or two about the truth and the lies people use to avoid it. There will be more truths; and he’s pretty sure there will be more lies. Honesty doesn’t necessarily make things easier, but it makes things different. There are some truths he’s not willing to die with.

There are others, though.

Those are the ones he can’t wait to live with.