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Regret

Xavier stands alone, bleeding and broken but not yet down. Not yet brought permanently to his knees by those who scream that he is the villain. That he is wrong. That he must be punished.

He doesn’t understand why they can’t see what he’s doing will make it all better. That sacrifice is necessary. Loss and death is necessary if it gets them all to eternal peace and happiness. What’s a few inconsequential lives for the greater good? They can hate him if they want, they can curse his name till their breaths run out – but those that will follow will see that he was right. When Xavier’s work is done, they will all see that his means justified the ends.

Sacrifice is necessary, even if it’s messy and it hurts and — and if there must be so much bloodshed and pain and — and do they think he sleeps with ease? That he sleeps at all anymore without being awoken by reaching hands and weeping eyes? That he is not haunted by what he must do for the betterment of all of them? Do they think he is beyond empathy? Why do they not see what he’s doing is for them? That everything that he has done was necessary? That he is not the enemy here?

Xavier expected resistance, there is always resistance to change, but he did not expect this. Not all this pain and blood and —

Xavier swallows a cry as he tumbles across the earth, iron filling his mouth and dripping down his chin. There is red dripping into his eyes. He cannot see through the blood and tears, not that his gaze hadn’t already been blurry with the loss of his glasses —

Xavier arms and legs burn. There are so many cuts, so many bruises — Xavier coughs, spitting red into the disturbed dirt. He throws out his arms, his bones trembling under his abused skin as he holds his wavering magical shield against the next barrage. The glistening purple energy wavers, cracking like glass. He does not need to open his eyes to know. He can feel it as clearly as the wet warmth dripping down his arms.

Everything burns — but Xavier cannot stop, cannot falter. Everyone is shouting, their curses and accusations falling like acid rain against his soul. He cries out, and launches back a wave of magic, sharp, physically and with intent. Xavier feels his attacks strike home, and at last, he has a moment to breathe.

Xavier swipes away the blood, blinking into the near-blinding golden light of the setting sun. He takes in the blurry figures of those he might have once called friends and family — and even with his impaired vision, Xavier sees the hate as they stumble to their feet. Clinging to one another. He feels the distant pulse of healing magic, and the trembling in his legs increases.

Xavier gathers the dwindling remains of his waning magic as he watches them rally — but finds one missing from their number. His eyes widen. Color flashes at the corner of his eye and he pivots around, magic building between his palms, a snarl on his tongue — only to freeze.

Xavier’s chest grows cold as he stares into what must be their final move. He stares into the crack in reality his closest friend had carved out. Into the nothingness of the abyss. The spaces between reality that devoured everything they touched, leaving only shattered slivers of echoing screams and memories.

A chill drifts through the opening, but it holds not a candle to the frigid quality of the eyes he feels on his back. Xavier looks to his friend, but as he meets that familiar bright and powerful gaze, he finds no hope. Xavier’s friends eyes are dim and damp, but his friend will not save him from his fate. Even if it hurts.

Everyone knows the stories of those who fall into the abyss, and the thought of being consumed into nothingness, of being shattered into a million pieces as his mind unravels — Xavier cannot imagine a worse fate.

Xavier stumbles back, magic fizzling out as he drops his hands. He looks back, to beg, to do something — but then there are hands, fists really, and he is thrown back. Xavier steps back to catch himself, and his foot connects with open air.

“No!” Xavier cries, hands jerking out to hold onto the jagged edges of the tear. His feet dangle in the cold stillness. His arms quake and burn, but he does not let go. Even as his fingers bleed red and his muscles begin to grow numb.

Xavier stares up into the faces of those who wish him dead — no, worse than dead, apparently, and pleads for anything else. He pleads for death, for not even he would have ever even considered banishment to the abyss. But there is no mercy here. There is no sliver of morality that would let the executioner’s axe fall instead.

Xavier’s eyes grow hot and wet, dripping something saltier than blood. He begs again, willing numb fingers to hold fast. But the villain never gets what he wants. The world slows as the boot of Xavier’s eldest child comes down, the son he had loved and failed who stares back at his with incomprehensible hate — and then Xavier is falling. Droplets of blood and tears fly past, a trail leading to the warmth and color of reality.

Xavier screams, and then the crack slams shut. He is alone. And then the dark rushes in to take him.

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