AN: First chapter of my sequel! Yay! Enjoy and thanks to all the lovely people supporting me as I write :)
The sound of a small explosion shook the house and Erik was halfway out of bed before Charles' arm snaked around and pulled him back down.
"It's just Alex," the telepath mumbled half into his pillow. "Stay in bed."
Erik snorted a disbelieving laugh, "Last time Alex blew something up he caught the greenhouse on fire."
Charles raised his hand lazily to his temple, eyes still closed as he sought answers, "This time he just broke the fountain outside. He already put the fire out and nothing we do can save the fountain. Stay in bed." His eyes opened to look at Erik, making sure that he wasn't still trying to leave.
With a sigh, Erik sunk back down into the bed and smiled at his lover. Charles was smiling gently back at him with the haze of sleep still lingering in his bright eyes. Erik reached an arm out and lightly brushed his fingertips against Charles' cheek, leaving his hand resting against the telepath's neck.
Charles sighed into the touch, his eyes drifting closed again. Erik shifted closer, pulling his lover's body against his and curling his arms around Charles' back. Mornings like this were his favorite thing in the world and he certainly wouldn't complain about being able to enjoy it longer.
It had been a little over a year since Cuba and every day Erik still wondered when everything was going to go wrong. It was too perfect and his life was never perfect. Hank had rebuilt Cerebro – much to Erik's complaints about Charles needing his rest – and Charles had started searching for students. Eighteen had been found so far and were scheduled to start in a month when the first term began.
Erik had spent his time divided between helping get the house ready, aiding Hank in rebuilding the jet, and going on missions.
It was usually just him and Raven going covertly into research labs and privately funded facilities holding mutants captive. They went in quietly, got the mutants out and then burned the building down behind them. As per Charles' request, they always made sure that anyone innocent got out alive. Secretaries, janitors… Anyone who had no actual involvement with the crimes being committed.
Everyone else… Well, Erik didn't really care if they survived or not. Still, for Charles' sake, he always at least made an effort to get all of the humans out alive before he destroyed the labs.
Charles made it no secret that he hated when Erik left for a mission. They often had the potential to be dangerous and Erik's confidence was never quite enough to assuage the telepath's concern. It wasn't hard to see that Charles wished he could come with.
Erik wanted him to come too.
He had always pictured them fighting side-by-side. The wheelchair had changed all that. Charles had adjusted to it well, and he fought just as hard for mutants as Erik did, but he did it all from the mansion.
The telepath had convinced Erik months ago to stop apologizing for the chair – pointing out over and over that taking the bullet had been his own choice. That didn't stop the guilt that crawled up him every time Charles had to stay behind while he went off and risked his life. He suspected it would get easier once the school was running. Once Charles had more to do so he could focus on something other than the potential for danger that Erik was facing.
Neither one of them wanted to just let their fellow mutants suffer, so the missions were a necessary evil.
And the days spent away on missions made the lazy mornings like this seem so much better. Erik tried going back to sleep, lulled into a state of serenity by the peaceful quiet snores that had started emanating from Charles again. It didn't take long before the sun shining through the window had convinced him that he wouldn't be able to actually get back to sleep.
He used his arm to prop himself up, chuckling as the movement jostled a groan out of Charles.
Erik leaned over, half on top of Charles as he pressed a kiss to the telepath's forehead. One of those stunning blue eyes cracked open and a frown creased Charles' lips. "If you're leaving me for coffee, I'll never forgive you."
A full out laugh bubbled up from Erik's chest and he responded, "Well coffee is certainly part of the plan, but I really just need to get to work on the jet."
"So," Charles mumbled sleepily, "You're leaving me for coffee and metal."
"Well they argue with me less."
The telepath muffled a laugh with his pillow as he tried to maintain the pretend glare that he was directing at Erik. He gave up with a brief eye roll and then demanded, "At least give me a proper kiss before you go."
Erik obliged gladly, running a hand through Charles' hair as he met his lover's smiling lips with his own. It was sloppy and languid, neither particularly awake yet, but if Erik could wake up like this for the rest of his life he would never complain about anything again. He let out an undignified moan when Charles lightly bit down on his lower lip and the telepath merely grinned up at him feigning innocence.
"Hank will be expecting me to show up soon, Charles." Erik tried reasoning even though he was really growing much more attached to the idea of staying in bed.
Charles wiggled a hand near his own temple and gave a mischievous smirk, "I can always just let Hank know you'll be late."
It wasn't even worth pretending to fight. Erik just leaned down and started kissing a line down Charles' neck, enjoying the slight shiver that jolted through his lover's body and the pulse of contentment and pleasure that Charles pushed into his mind.
Breakfast happened far closer to lunch-time that day, but none of the other residents of the house chose to mention it. There was a silent agreement among the mutants that no one should ever be allowed to cook except Erik, so they opted to not annoy him by commenting on his morning activities. Sean had tried cooking once and ended up putting jam in the spaghetti instead of tomato sauce. Raven's attempt had been a little better, but the amount of salt she put in was stunning. Hank could cook, but no one was particularly fond of picking blue hair out of their meal.
Erik was most definitely the only one capable of making good, edible, food.
He leaned against the counter sipping the coffee he had finally gotten out of bed to retrieve, and behind him the entire kitchen was a flurry of activity. A spatula was systematically putting bacon on the griddle and then pulling it back off, the waffle iron would open on occasion and dump a fresh waffle onto a plate before the bowl with batter would pour another lump of waffle mix onto it, and a whisk was busy scrambling a heap of eggs in a pan.
He had no idea what the rest of the house did for food when he was gone on missions. Probably just starved until one of them convinced Charles to order pizza.
The telepath was sitting at the table, slowly working on finishing off his tea while he read the newspaper. Every morning they followed the same routine for breakfast and even though they hardly talked it was peaceful and calming. It gave them a chance to enjoy each other's presence even when they hadn't quite woken up yet.
Of course, they were both plenty awake today, but their well practiced routine didn't falter.
As always, before Erik even had the chance to tell Charles that breakfast was almost ready, the telepath murmured, "I've let them know. Everyone will be here in five minutes except for Alex. He's still trying to repair the fountain in hopes that we won't notice it broke."
Erik chuckled as he turned off the stove and waffle iron with a flick of his wrist. Carefully, he carried the plates towering with food and placed them in the center of the table. He dropped a brief kiss to the top of Charles' head and then sat down next to him as Charles neatly folded the paper and placed it aside. Their hands reached automatically for each other, curling fingers around and squeezing lightly, and the telepath slowly rubbed a thumb along the back of Erik's hand.
Sean came barreling into the room first, snatching a waffle with his hand before he even sat down. With a yelp, he dropped it onto his own plate and glared at it as if it had offended him. "Why is it so hot?" he whined, cradling his hand.
"Maybe because I just made it?" Erik responded, sarcasm dripping from him. "You know what might help? Using a fork. Try that next time."
The red head just stared balefully at the waffle and then with an exaggerated motion he made a show of picking his fork up to scoop some eggs and bacon onto his plate.
The rest of the group filtered in more calmly, Raven's smirk and knowing glance were the only indication any of them made about why breakfast was happening at 12:30 in the afternoon.
Alex came in sullenly, staring at the ground with red tinged around his ears. Before he could get out a stumbling apology, Charles held up a hand to stop him.
"Don't worry about it. I never liked that fountain anyway. We'll get a new one that will fit in better with some of the other renovations around here. Maybe Erik can give us some new metal sculpture or something." The last words were punctuated by a light mental nudge to let Erik know how much he would appreciate it.
Erik smiled easily and replied, "Of course. I'll work on it later today. I've got some metal scraps lying around from rebuilding Cerebro and I can repurpose them into a fountain easily."
Alex looked relieved, the tension seeping out of him. "I'm still sorry, Professor," he said. "I was trying to practice and I probably should have waited until I was more awake to do it."
"Well you know that for next time," Charles gave Alex a gracious smile.
It was Hank's turn for dishes, so Erik was excused from helping him build the jet for at least a little while. He took the time to wander down to Cerebro – still cursing it for the way it drained Charles – and gathered some of the leftover metal. He floated his pile behind him as he headed out to the front entrance of the mansion where the remains of an old fountain lay.
It really had been an ugly fountain and he was almost happy to see it go. It helped that Alex had apparently spent the morning clearing away the rubble; Erik had less to do that way. Most of the original marble was gone, but he was glad to see the inner machinery keeping the fountain going was still intact.
He concentrated on the metal floating beside him, twisting and turning it as he placed it in layers upon the foundation of the fountain. He made sure to build in a path for the water to follow as it bubbled up from underneath and he molded a new base large enough to hold the water that cascaded back down. He twirled the metal pieces in an intricate pattern that was reminiscent of a jet of water.
Erik hadn't even noticed Charles joining him outside and the sudden voice in his head made him jump. The surprise quickly turned into a laugh as he turned towards the telepath. "You would think that after all this time I would be used to you sneaking into my head."
"Sneaking into your head would imply that I ever actually left your head, my love. I assure you that I don't."
"And I wouldn't have it any other way," Erik reminded Charles. He walked closer to the younger man and grabbed onto his hand, pulling it to his lips for a soft kiss. "I feel empty when you're not there."
It was another one of the reasons Charles hated Erik going away on missions. Most of them took him too far away for the telepath to be able to maintain a proper link between them. It made them both feel lost when that familiar tether was stretched so far that it nearly snapped.
Erik gazed back at the fountain, admiring the smooth curve of metal glinting merrily in the sun. He reached with his power once more, feeling for the knob that would turn the water back on, and watched happily as the fountain sparkled to life.
Years ago he would never have dreamed that his power could be used for anything like this. It was once only meant for destroying things. Building new things, beautiful things, was still a marvel to him. Charles' gentle but firm squeeze of his hand let him know that the telepath understood his thoughts.
Of course, he always did.
Gratitude swelled inside him alongside the fierce love that he felt whenever he thought of Charles.
I love you too, my friend.
Erik smiled and curled a hand around Charles' shoulder. "Once in a while, you could let me say it out loud before you interrupt me with your own declarations."
"Ah, but that would shatter the illusion of the always stoic Erik Lehnsherr. We wouldn't want that," Charles teased back.
The metal bender merely knelt down beside Charles and looked him in the eyes. "For you, I would gladly give up that illusion. I love you, Liebling." He leaned forward, brushing a chaste kiss against Charles warm lips.
The telepath radiated happiness as he ran a hand idly through Erik's hair while they both soaked in the sunlight.
He avoided it as long as he could, but eventually Erik ended up down in the hangar that had been hastily constructed to house the new jet. It wasn't that he didn't like Hank; on the contrary Hank was always easy to get along with.
The scientist was very touchy about the rebuilding of his jet though, and more often that not Erik was being snapped at for moving a piece of metal a little less gingerly than Hank liked. The jet was coming together rapidly, and Erik would be very glad when it was finished. It was shaping up to be even better than the one that they had crashed on the shores of a Cuban beach.
Today he was working quietly on delicately threading wires through the control panels. Hank had for once left him alone to his job and Erik enjoyed the peace of being able to just focus on the metal obeying his every command.
Behind him, the door opened and Erik heard footsteps nearing him.
"We have reports of another research lab," Raven informed him as she strode over to where Erik stood. "This one is in Dallas, Texas. Government funded and heavily guarded. We'll need to go in as quiet as we can."
Erik nodded at her even as he sent a thought to Charles letting him know there was another mission.
Charles' voice sounded tired but resigned as he sent back, I'll start packing your suitcase.
That night, as they did every night, Erik pulled Charles' chair along with his power, leading them to the study. The all metal chess set welcomed them happily and Erik quietly made the first move. They played in silence for awhile, neither broaching the topic that was on both their minds.
Erik had learned already that it was better to just let Charles speak when he felt up to it instead of prying the words from him.
"So, where is it this time?" the telepath finally asked. He could easily have just taken the information from Erik's head, but at times like this he seemed to have some need to speak the words aloud.
"Dallas," Erik answered as he nudged his Bishop forward. "Government funded, rumor says they've got between five and eight mutants."
Charles let out a low whistle as he captured Erik's Bishop with his Knight. It wasn't often they found a place with that many mutants at one time. It was usually just two or three. They didn't say it, but they both understood that this meant the mission would likely be harder than most.
"You'll be taking Raven again?" Charles spoke as if he wasn't certain what he wanted the answer to be. It made sense, taking Raven put her in danger but not taking her made the danger to Erik worse.
The metal bender just nodded as he leaned back, steepling his fingers together while he surveyed the board. It was a lost game for him and he knew it already. There were at least three ways Charles could put him in checkmate within the next four moves.
That only left him one option for winning.
Erik shifted forward again in the seat, reaching to move his next piece. He waited until Charles started stretching a hand out to the board and then watched with amusement as the hand faltered. Charles glared heatedly at him and Erik just grinned widely as he continued thinking as hard as he could about the way Charles had looked underneath him that morning.
Beautiful pale skin flushed with heat, eyes closed as his fingers clutched at the sheets and his breath came in stuttering moans.
"That's cheating," Charles accused him, voice catching in his throat as he let out a soft gasp.
"I have no idea what you mean," Erik replied smugly. "Now, are you going to take your turn?"
Charles nearly growled at him as he darted a hand out and pushed a random piece forward. "Happy?"
"Very," Erik purred back.
It wasn't until two moves later – When Charles smirked as he called checkmate – that Erik realized the, 'random,' move Charles made had actually been quite deliberate. As carefully planned as all his other moves and one of the few that Erik hadn't been able to see coming.
Erik was torn between grudging affection and amusement. The telepath just smiled at him and projected an image of sleep across their link. Erik hadn't even realized how late it was and the reminder made him notice how tired his body was. He needed to be awake enough for the mission the next day so, unhappily, he agreed that going to bed was the best option even though he wanted to play another game.
These nights were always hard. He wanted to spend every possible second with Charles before he inevitably had to leave the next morning.
Erik waved a hand at the chess board, repositioning all the pieces in their proper place for the next round, whenever he they had another chance to play. Together they returned to their room and went to bed. Charles rested his head against Erik's shoulder and the metal bender wrapped both arms around the warm body beside him. They traded a brief but poignant kiss and Erik softly whispered, "I will come home, Liebling. I always do."
AN: This was mostly domestic fluff and I hope you enjoyed it because from here on out there will be a lot of angst.