A/N: First of all, I am SO sorry. I know it's been a while but well, a lot of shit kept going down and I lost the first version of this when my laptop died. SO this is version two that I rewrote from scratch. This is obscenely long and possibly a tedious read. Prepare yourself. It's also not all that well written because I lost the chapter half way through at one point and had to rewrite EVERYTHING and my life got in the way and I wanted to update before people thought I'd abandoned the story. So yeah. ALSO, I know iPhones don't work like that; I've taken liberties. You'll get it when you get there xD
A/N 2: READ THIS EVEN IF YOU DON'T READ ANYTHING ELSE! Ok, so, remember how these are supposed to be oneshots? LOOK! It's a new premise! It's a Modern Day College AU with a bunch of tropes that I wrote on a dare from my beloved BFFL Beta xDDD Watch out for the one from Charles' point of view that'll come out~ it's not super funny or fluffy or whatevs, and even though I've said it before, this is probably not the best chapter. It's also in two parts :D SO yeah. Still my baby, so you should READ AND REVIEW.
A/N 3: I HAVE DIED. HOW ARE YOU GUYS SO AWESOME? I WONDER HOW MANY CHAPTERS IT WOULD TAKE FOR ONE HUNDRED REVIEWS AND YOU GUYS DECIDE TO GIVE ME ONE HUNDRED AND TEN BY THE THIRD CHAPTER? YOU. GUYS. MAKE. MY. LIFE.
THANKS A BUNCH FOR REVIEWING TO: lyra1987, laughing senseless, MINA, Gaming Girl, Supporter of Free Love, Ninja Wannabee, Elaine, lowi, SorchaPhoenix on psychfic, Love is My Middle Name, SuperAwesomeAsianNinja, Utena-Puchiko-nyu, It's Rayning, Ie-maru, betweenlife, Elizabeth, X, amber'eyed'countess, ThatOneFan, Beizanten, zoisyte, kaesaku, Live4StarWars, Periwinkle Kitty, hylian-dragoness, Keinohrhasen, Renkin-chan, Ms. Unusual-in-Groovy-Ways, TTCyclone, tehehehe, pbw, WithLoveFromTorchwood, LadyGhai, Romanec, Pri-TheBishounenPuppeteer, Pilali, Sillybookworm, Lantis, Auluna, DeliaDOO, Joshieboy, MirrorFlower and DarkWind, Lulu118, callietitan, ticktock22, Beccatdemon13, It's so FLUFFY, 02AngelBaby75, Amarentha
THANKS FOR BEING THE ONE HUNDREDTH REVIEWER: SorchaPhoenix on psychfic. YOU ARE EPIC AND THIS CHAP IS PARTLY DEDICATED TO YOU. SRSLY.
THANKS FOR THE WORDS + REVIEWS TO: SorchaPhoenix on psychfic, WithLoveFromTorchwood, ticktock22, It's so FLUFFY, Ie-maru
WORDS USED FROM: Ie-maru. THANKS LOVEY! Her words were 'must protect Charles' and it was too epic to not use.
BETANEWS: BOW DOWN TO Love Is My Middle Name because she just read an obscenely long piece of work and beta'd it in one night and a little more. Twice over, actually, because the first time, the damned internet DIED. FUCKITANYWAY. SO yeah. :D You should love her as much as I do because without her, there is no chapter.
WARNINGS: a LOT of cursing, OOC, fluff, whump, OVERUSE OF TROPES, etc, etc.
Disclaimer: GOD I wish I owned. If I did, then Charles would have stopped Erik from his destructive rampage by KISSING him out of it. Who else agrees that THAT would have been WAAAYYY more affective?
Side Note:This chapter is pre-everything going to shit. So Erik is still the 'good guy' (the phrase being loosely used of course) and is teaming up with Charles. So basically, this is like...that training sequence where it's like the calm before the storm. :D ENJOY and again, R AND R.
Just for Reference: Sean – Banshee, Erik – Magneto, Charles - Professor X, Hank – Beast, Alex – Havoc, Raven – Mystique, Angel Salvadore – Angel Salvadore
The first time Erik meets Charles, it's in front of the registrar's office; he's just gotten his schedule, it's ridiculously early in the morning, and it isn't exactly one of the best moments of his life.
Erik's just transferred to Oxford from the Technical University of Munich and he's too busy cursing up a shit-storm over the fact that he's being forced to take accelerated calc four, advanced theoretical physics, and organic chemistry all in the same semester to really pay any attention to anything else.
Really, his tirade is inspired; if the woman has any sense at all, she'd start begging for forgiveness because Erik is not in the mood for bullshit.
Unfortunately for him, his ire isn't well received; rather, it isn't received at all because he's accidentally slipped into his mother-tongue without even realizing it; and these stupid, stupid English apes don't speak a language as dignified as German because they're stupid.
The secretary is just smiling at him through his angry diatribe as though it doesn't bother her that he just called her a cock sucking, cactus fucking bag of whore.
"I'm sorry darling," she says, speaking slowly and loudly as though there isn't a language barrier that separates her and Erik, but a mental one, "I don't understand what you need."
And Erik sort of wants to punch her in the face because shit, even if he is speaking German, he's still clearly pointing at his schedule; she should at least be able to figure it out from that. But no, the dumb hussy's apparently lost too many brain-cells over the years and isn't capable of simple intuitive leaps.
He's about to just start speaking English and tell the bitch to fix his goddamned schedule when a young man swoops in like a five-foot-seven, sweater-vest wearing superhero. All he's missing is the cape.
"Is everything alright, Mrs. Rose?" he asks, a chivalrous smile on his face and Mrs. Rose simply swoons as though the other boy just propositioned her.
"Oh Charles, you're such a helpful lad!" she says, looking like she wants to jump him and Erik's sort of disgusted because Mrs. Rose is most definitely older and Erik's pretty sure that this Charles, with his big blue eyes and rosy cheeks, hasn't actually aged since he was thirteen years old.
He can't help but wonder if this is a social norm in this country, and if it is, he wonders if it's too late to leave. He's pretty sure that Munich will still take him back if he just asks; it's not like they have a better prospect for their science program...
Then again, it's not like he can just walk back in there after everything he's seen, after all the things he's been through…
He's such a selfish jackass, coldheartlessdead, because he left even though she needed him. It's all his fault and god, why couldn't he have just died inste-
…he has to almost physically stop himself from going there.
So deep is he in pondering that he completely misses Mrs. Rose's explanation to Charles. In fact, he doesn't come out of his reverie until, suddenly, his schedule
is being ripped out of his hand and the boy, now identified as Charles, gasps.
When Erik finally manages to face the other boy, Charles, he looks a lot like someone's just killed his pet dog and Erik almost panics because oh god, he knows.
But then Charles is looking back down at the schedule and looking back at him and Erik realizes that it's the schedule that the other boy is making teary eyes at. In that instant, he takes a moment to swear to himself that if this odd man-child sheds so much as a single tear over a random stranger's schedule, then that's that; Erik's booking the first plane to Germany, shitty past be damned. The English would officially be too weird for Erik to comfortably live anywhere in their proximity.
Choosing to go back to hellhole number one would be like choosing the lesser of two evils, even if he doesn't actually want to do it.
And for the record, no, Erik doesn't think it's unfair to judge an entire race by one stupid, cougar secretary and one man-child.
Thankfully for all parties, Charles doesn't actually cry and Erik isn't forced to take drastic measures.
"Well no wonder he's so upset!" he exclaims instead, like he completely understands what's going on even though he's only been there for a few seconds, "Just look at this mess! Are you trying to kill him? He can't take all these at once!"
And Erik can't help but have a moment where it's like, Hallelujah! Someone gets it! It's almost as though the other boy is a mind-readerand he's stolen the words right out of Erik's head, sans vitriol of course. Now, if the hussy would be so kind as to fix the problem, then Erik would be able to admit that maybe, just maybe, the English aren't totally irredeemable.
But that, of course, is asking for far too much.
Instead of jumping to it and doing her job, the stupid floozy just adopts a confused air about her as she speaks, "But Charles darling, we don't know what classes he wants to take! I'm afraid that none of us here speak German." This only serves to make Erik feel like he's losing brain-cells because shit, can't she get a translator here? Or a student who speaks German? Something? Anything?
Can she not think outside of her cozy little office?
Honestly, it's not like he even needs a translator, Erik thinks, because he doesn't; his English is quite fluent. The fact that this human being is absolutely refusing to be resourceful is killing him. To make things worse, Charles, who had been Erik's beacon of hope in a world of idiots, actually frowns.
"Well," he says, "That is a problem, isn't it?" And Erik takes it all back; there is absolutely no hope for the English, not if Charles can't figure out how to do this.
Erik isn't quite sure when he started to put so much stock in a stranger he just met, but he's too busy lamenting over such high concentrations of stupidity to question it.
Anyway, he's just about to speak up and be like, 'Hey! Here! I speak English! Can we please get this shit over with now?' when Charles suddenly lights up and Erik finds that he can't get words out of his mouth. Just for a second, Erik feels sort of pole-axed because the entire room feels like it lights up when Charles does and Erik can't for the life of him figure out why. He vaguely wonders if he needs to sleep more, or maybe have his vision checked again; after all, it certainly can't be normal for that to happen…
He can remember from back then, when a particularly brutal beating had left his vision brightening to painful intensities, only getting worse as Erik begged for it to stop...
...begged to die...
It takes another Herculean effort to pull back, back to present where everything is safe and heis rotting in the worst possible prison.
In the meantime, Charles has whipped out what looks suspiciously like an iPhone and has started typing away at manic speeds.
Just as Erik comes out of his own thoughts and begins to idly wonder if he should try talking one last time, Charles interrupts him again, and Erik can honestly say that he's astonished by what comes out of Charles' mouth.
"Hallo! Ich bin hier, ihnen zu helfen mit ihrem Zeitplan. Welche klassen sie möchten oder drop?"
Charles is asking him what class he wants to drop and keep…in German.
Erik won't lie. It's more like a string of words rather than a proper sentence and the accent is absolutely atrocious; but it still warms Erik to his very core to even hear that butchered approximation of his native tongue.
Before he can even think about what he's doing, he's happily responding back in German, as though Charles can actually understand; he's just that damned happy. But then Charles is looking at him blankly and reality is crashing in again because oh yeah, Charles is an Englishman. Right. And it's obviously been too long, Erik thinks, if even that frankly awful version of German is making him so giddy.
On top of that, he realizes that it's only been a few days since he left home and he's already homesick and dear god his life just sucks.
And it's not even home that he misses because, god knows, he's never had that. The closest he's ever had is forever steeped in pain and fear and blood for Erik, with loss and hate and bone-deep rage. What he misses is the familiarity of being able to talk to someone on the street; he misses the food and the very few things he took comfort in back then.
It's all rather pathetic, actually.
Erik is once again wondering if going back to Germany is the best move when the iPhone is shoved under his nose by a very pushy Charles. Erik simply raises an eyebrow, and opens his mouth to say something witty about manners, but Charles just shushes him and points at the phone.
"Sorry chap," he says, all smiles and rainbows, "this is the only way we can communicate I'm afraid."
And Erik is once again being brought back to his predicament, if it can be called that.
One more time, he tries to speak, to say 'Oy! I am perfectly capable of being multilingual, unlike you dolts!' but it's like he's utterly incapable of getting even a full word out without Charles interrupting him. Seriously, he can barely get syllables out; all attempts on Erik's part are immediately quelled by Charles and his thrice damned iPhone.
"I-," Erik tries to say.
"Uh uh. Phone." Charles swoops in.
It sort of pisses Erik off actually, enough to want to cause harm; but the other man looks sort of like an eager puppy. And besides, punting someone while on school grounds would probably result in trouble for Erik, may God damn the English weenies and their reluctance to use violence.
Finally, he just grabs the iPhone; he thinks that maybe he could just type in English and clue the idiot Brit(s) in. Unfortunately for him, Charles does this thing where he sort of hovers.That's bad enough in and of itself because Erik is feeling all kinds of nervous and defensive and twitchy even though he knows this boy is not dangerous. His therapist from back home keeps telling him that it's his fight or flight reaction still overcompensating from back then.
But Charles also keeps moving the damned cursor down to the 'German to English' translator even though Erik pointedly moves it back to 'English to German' every time. He even tries to type in English in the part where one would regularly type in German, but the goddamned autocorrect, may the person who created it burn in hell, keeps switching his half-formed English words with possible German ones.
All in all, Erik's about ready to blow a gasket.
In the end, Erik sort of gives up and just writes everything out in German. Whatever, he figures with a mental shrug, anything to get the hell out of here.
[I wish to drop out of Organic Chemistry.] he types out, but he hesitates before translating.
He should've ended the message there; for all intents and purposes, it's clear, concise, and ready to be translated. There is no need to continue further because it's perfect for what Erik needs accomplished. But it also feels very impersonal and, for some odd reason, Erik can feel himself absolutely balkingat the thought of being that way with this man. He doesn't want to think that this is the only time he'll ever talk to this warm, fluffy little man with the big blue eyes and the rosy cheeks.
Despite himself, Erik wants to maybe strike up a conversation with the man, make a connection of some kind other than 'helpful stranger.' So, after a second's hesitation, he continues on with, [Your spoken German is atrocious.]
But just as he hits translate, he wonders if maybe he shouldn't have added that last bit after all. He's just teasing, but who knows how Charles will take it? All stereotypes considered, Erik figures that at worst Charles will simply be mortally offended, retract all offers of help, and possibly make a valiant attempt at crucifying him. In the best case scenario, he gets off with a slap on the wrist and a slight admonishment.
The English are just uptight like that, Erik thinks with a scowl. But it doesn't matter anyway because Erik speaks English dammit, and doesn't actually need help. But it's like some higher force is absolutely refusing to let him speak up because every time he does, there's someone stopping him.
But he digresses.
Erik is expecting to be shunned by Charles for that comment. He's incredibly surprised when Charles takes one look at the message and bursts into laughter instead. His big blue eyes light up, his cheeks get even rosier, and Erik sort of feels like the world glows with Charles at the epicenter.
...he makes a mental note to go to the school clinic the first chance he gets because he definitely needs to get his eyes checked. So far, his vision has been perfect; but who knows what kind of havoc studying from fine print books has wreaked on his eyes? Or better yet, maybe he needs to get his mind checked instead because these could very well be hallucinations…
He has been tired lately, what with the all-nighters and the hopping around and the court cases and several years of his shitty life finally starting to take a turn for the better. Funny, he's more tired now than he was back then; back when there had been constant fear-induced adrenaline at the mere whisper of his voice...
...right. Not going there.
Erik is so deeply involved in his vision concerns that he nearly gets beaned when Charles shoves the iPhone back at him.
He would have screamed at Charles about this, but he's too busy noting that Charles has given up on speaking German and quelling the unnecessary regret that wells up as a result. Charles' German may not have been good German, but it was German nonetheless.
Charles had been so enthusiastic and helpful about it and Erik had been such a jerk.
Maybe he shouldn't have opened his big mouth...
It turns out, though, that he shouldn't have bothered with the guilt because it seems Charles can hold his own. When Erik finally manages to read the message, he can't help the chuckle that comes out.
[At least I'm not trying to speak German in a country full of Englishmen,] the message reads, and Erik sort of wants to iterate that he does speak English out of sheer pride.
But Charles' eyes are alight with smug happiness and while Erik normally has no problem putting people in their place, he doesn't particularly want to rain on Charles' parade. He doesn't quite understand why this man-child that he's just metis so special; but then again, he doesn't really have the energy to wonder either. Later he would, definitely, but not now. So he pushes aside his discomfort, smirks, and commandeers the iPhone again.
[Hush,] he types out, [be nice to the new kid. Also, ask the idiot to switch my physics class to a later time, like noon. She can't possibly expect me to be awake at 9 in the morning!]
He wants to make Charles laugh, for some unknown reason. And yeah okay, he wasn't that amusing with what he just said, but he's pretty sure it'll at least get a chuckle.
As expected, hoped, Charles snickers, and then he proceeds to turn to the secretary and make Erik's life easy; he even makes it so that Erik has no classes before one in the afternoon and also changes Erik's calc class from the afternoon section to the evening section for no apparent reason. Honestly, the calc class was fine where it was but Erik doesn't question it because frankly, he doesn't care.
Charles spends a few more minutes yammering away at the cougar secretary and just like that, everything is settled to Erik's (and Charles') satisfaction. Before long, they're walking out of the registrar's office and that's awesome.
Erik sort of wants to jump for joy or possibly build a shrine for Charles because not only is his schedule now complete, it's also perfect. Seriously, Erik's in love.
Unfortunately for Erik, while he's deep in thought, Charles just stops. And then, while Erik is busy trying to maintain his balance and not fucking fall all over the other boy, Charles proceeds to shove both his hand and his phone in Erik's face.
Erik has to make a conscious effort to not scream or flinch back.
When he finally gets around to reading it, he actually goes cross-eyed and his balance is almost completely lost as he leans back.
[Hello! I'm Charles Xavier!] the phone says, [What should I call you?]
While Erik would have normally beaten the transgressor for being rude (and for scaring him like that), he can only chuckle at Charles' antics because Charles is a puppy and even Erik doesn't kick those. Instead, he gently pulls the phone from Charles' hand, momentarily putting his other hand on Charles' head to stop him from bouncing so much.
[It's Lensherr.] he types out, [Erik Lensherr.]
Even though Erik knows that the odds of seeing this whirlwind of a man again are ridiculously low, he's still hoping that it happens anyway. After all, it isn't often one meets a person like Charles Xavier around, someone as warm, as genuinely caring, and Erik desperately needs that kind of person in his 's still confusing though because, well, they've just met.
He snaps out of it when Charles chuckles, types and throws the phone back at him.
[Hello Lensherr Erik Lensherr!] it says, [It's very nice to meet you!]
And Erik really, really wants to roll his eyes because that joke is so old and he's mocked people for less. But then when he looks up, Charles is looking endearingly mischievous, like he's just said the greatest joke in the world. Plus, he's glowing at Erik for the umpteenth goddamned time and Erik finds that can't make himself really care about the shitty name joke because he's too busy trying to stop himself from petting Charles like an overgrown puppy.
He just sort of walks along and keeps his mouth shut.
Eventually, they reach a sort of fork in the road where Erik needs to go left to go to the dorms and Charles needs to go right so he can get to classes. Inexplicably, this makes Erik sad. But Charles looks as cheerful as ever and Erik doesn't want to lose face so he mans up and smirks as though he isn't in the midst of some odd and confusing emotional crisis. He absolutely refuses to be the weak one here.
It takes some real effort, but by the time Charles has his blasted phone out (again) and is done typing out a message, Erik is perfectly fine. Unfortunately for him, the apathy he's managed to gain for himself is quickly dispelled as he reads the message, only to be replaced by an odd mixture of hope and what Erik assumes is indigestion.
[I will be seeing you around, my friend!] it says and Erik is sort of emotionally all over the place again.
He's about to open his mouth, to tell the other boy that no, statistically speaking, they won't be seeing each other again and besides, since when are they friends? They only met an hour ago for Pete's sake! But, as per British custom (read: impoliteness), Erik is interrupted before he can so much as utter a phrase.
It's all very unfair.
As it is, this time he's interrupted by a girl, with straight, dark hair and what most societies would deem a perfect body; and Charles is quickly grabbing his phone and running off because he has to go. Apparently this girl is that important.
Erik spends a few seconds fuming before shrugging it off; it's not like he'll be seeing Charles again. And really, it's not like he needs the boy or anything; Erik's been alone for most of his life and he's perfectly capable of remaining that way for the rest of it. He even sort of prefers it that way because most people make him feel like he's losing brain cells when they talk.
That and, well, Erik won't admit it under the worst kinds of torture, but people scare him.
...except Charles. He doesn't do that. He just reminds Erik of a over-grown puppy and makes him smile. Erik's pretty sure that Charles will never hurt him.
He can't shake the loneliness off as he walks to his dorm room; it feels like he's lost the only person in the universe who truly can understand him.
It isn't until later that night while he's lying in bed that he realizes that he could've, at the very least, tried to get some contact information.
That he didn't is just one more failure, one more negative thing, to add to his ever growing list of life-regrets. He can't help but sigh because, despite everything, despite all the crap he's been through, this is near the top of his list for shit he really regrets. The icing on the cake is that he doesn't even know why he feels that way about a guy he just met; it doesn't fucking make sense.
…it also fucking sucks.
The only thing he can do now is hope that they'll happen upon each other again, but Erik has his doubts.
Turns out though, that he really didn't even have to worry because the second time Erik meets Charles, it's the very next goddamned day. He needn't have bothered with all that regret at all because Charles is a sneaky little…little…
Well, it makes sense in Erik's head anyway.
But he's just come from Advanced Molecular Structure and has lab rats on the brain, so he can't be too sure.
Still though, Charles is the manipulative idiot who took Erik's calc class and switched him from the afternoon section to his own and didn't bother to tell Erik. Goddamn him. Erik is pretty sure Charles has no idea of what could have been avoided the night before if he'd just told Erik about the schedule change which allows them to see each other four times a week.
Like all the angsting from the night before and the resulting beating that Erik's roommate had endured, for instance.
But it still sucks.
And Charles doesn't even regret itif that wide grin and the maniacal waving is any kind of indicator.
Erik sort of wants to go and pick a fight over it because shit, he'd battled his feelings all night; his roommate had accused him of mooning for god's sake, and it's like Charles doesn't even care.
He wants to go over there, accuse Charles of being a terrible person, and maybe throttle him a little, maybe punt him around a bit.
But when it comes down to it, he can't because when he looks at Charles, there is no ill intention on the other man's face, only brightness and a smile that Erik begrudgingly deems as utterly endearing.
He tries to make his ego feel better by telling himself that class has started anyway, so it's not like he can dole out retribution on a whim. It's not that he's gone soft at all, really.
Besides, by the time Erik finally makes his way over to the seat that Charles has saved for him, class really has started and this professor happens to be the kind of jerk that throws bits of chalk at those who disturb his class. The kid sitting on the other side of Charles has already gotten nailed on the forehead for whispering a quiet 'god bless you' to someone who'd just sneezed; and if the loud 'thunk' of impact and the kid's quiet moans of pain are anything to go by, Erik really doesn't want to be on the receiving end of that.
He doesn't even try and fool himself into thinking that it's just the kid being a wimp. He's already done some rough calculations based on the estimated distance, highest possible throwing speed for the average male over sixty-five, gravity, possible trajectories, mass of the chalk bits and the deviations allotted for air resistance.
Taking such things into consideration, even he has to admit that for a man who looks like he's about to pass out from the sheer strain of keeping upright, Professor McKellen is a force to be reckoned with.
Erik files away a mental lab-report and concludes that it's a good idea to stay on the professor's good side.
In fact, he's just about to get on that by taking impeccable notes when Charles' iPhone (of doom) makes yet another appearance, right on top of his notebook this time. Any attempts to dislodge the phone and actually write are viciously denied.
It figures, Erik thinks after a few attempts, that Charles is a bad influence despite
looking absolutely Cherubic. With little to no choice, Erik just sucks it up and looks at the phone.
[Well hello there!] The message says in German, sounding disgustingly British despite being in a different language, [fancy meeting you here!]
And Erik's pretty sure he would smash Charles' face into the desk if it weren't for the fact that the other boy was once again doing that thing where he looks endearing while trying to be smug. His face is too reminiscent of an overeager puppy and Erik figures that his usual methods of dealing with things will have to be put on the back-burner.
But still, vengeance is to be had and Erik has other methods.
So, he just grabs the iPhone and types in his own message.
[Oh yes,] he types out, droll as ever, [and you have no idea how this happened I assume? Honestly, I have half a mind to go and sit elsewhere right now.]
He's even raising an eyebrow at Charles as he passes he phone back; he's pretending to be irritated just so that Charles will feel guilty. He may think the boy is decent, but he needs to let him know that manipulation is not ok. Besides, he can't just let his night of undeserved angsting go unpunished.
Charles, for his part, has the courtesy to look embarrassed, and he even looks somewhat alarmed as he types back.
[Well, I suppose that was a bit forward of me. But I was rather hoping to become friends and that won't work if we never see each other, now will it? So I thought that since we're taking the same calculus course, well, it only makes sense that we share the same section so we can see each other at least sometimes and it isn't so bad is it?]
And he's actually throwing Erik pleading looks as he passes the phone back, like he actually thinks that Erik will walk away.
And even though he's mentally maiming himself for even thinking that word, Erik can't help but try and soothe Charles a little, his (non-existent) reputation as a hard ass be damned. He smiles (all teeth of course), pats Charles' head, and tries to project comfort until Charles goes back to looking almost idiotically happy. Erik doesn't understand what he's doing exactly, because he's never willingly comforted anyone other than his mother before. Hell, he's even quit doing that by this point time because he can't even deal with it.
Doing this for Charles is actually really new and frightening…
Erik knows that lingering on the subject will only serve to throw him into a panic; what had happened to him back in Germany has all but cemented his aversion to being close to anyone. But he won't think about the situation revolving around that because for the first time in a very long while, Erik wantsto make a friend. He wants to put himself out there and befriend Charles the heroic man-child.
So he'll do what he needs to do and not let his past get in the way.
After that, all revelations aside, everything just sort of... settles.
Erik sits quietly and does some diligent note-taking while Charles alternates between dozing and making Erik use the iPhone translation app to explain concepts that he would be able to pick up if only he'd pay attention to the damned professor. When Erik points this out mid explanation at one point, adding in that having to translate makes things even more difficult, Charles just grins and flaps his hand dismissively.
[Language barrier aside,] he writes back, [you just explain things better.]
Erik just gives a long suffering sigh and prepares himself for an arduous semester of Calc 4.
Don't get him wrong, math is something he can do, and very well at that. Unfortunately for him, it doesn't matter anyway because if he spends most of the class trying to teach Charles, he's going to have to work harder than usual to keep up despite being naturally talented. He thinks that maybe he should start learning ahead of time to make up for the slack because otherwise both he and Charles are going to fail.
Funny thing though, is that Erik doesn't once consider not helping Charles.
He does, however, huff and go back to taking notes, making it a point to tell Charles that it's not his problem if Charles fails because he refuses to pay attention. Just because he's mentally resigned himself to tutoring Charles already doesn't mean he isn't going to make the other boy beg. So he huffs, and puffs, calls Charles a failure of self-fulfilling proportions, and tells the boy that, seriously, this is the last concept that he'll explain.
Charles retaliates by nudging and pouting until Erik explains yet another concept. What stands out about that is, well, Charles is being very careful about touching him, like he knows why Erik reacts the way he does. And while a part of Erik's snarls and rages at being treated like glass, the other part is almost embarrassingly grateful.
All in all, they just sort of bask in the odd familiarity that they feel towards each other. They both feel like they've known each other for years even though they probably haven't known each other for more than 48 hours.
And God help him, but Erik is almost upset when class ends and he and Charles have to go their separate ways. But, as usual, he sucks it up, packs his crap, and waves a nonchalant goodbye to Charles before going to walk out. He's sort of in a hurry because he really, really doesn't want to do something embarrassing like clinging to Charles or making the other boy hang out with him some more.
Above all else, he doesn't want to come across as needy.
But Charles isn't about to let him get away without a proper goodbye because of something as stupid as his ego.
Suffice it to say, Erik is somewhat surprised and panicked when Charles suddenly grabs his arm and pulls him into a hug, his fight or flight reaction kicking into overdrive. But Erik takes a deep breath and makes note of the fact that it's a very loose hug, even as the fear wells up in him like it always does; it would be very easy to get out of it. It works somewhat in making him stay in Charles' arms for a bit and again, Erik has to wonder if Charles knows about him and his issues.
Charles seems to only come up to just underneath his chin, which makes him a perfect hugging height as far as Erik is concerned. He isn't sure why this is important, but he's completely loving it and melting on the inside even though he tries to extricate himself a few short seconds later.
He consoles his ego with the knowledge that, to be fair, he is a prickly sonuvabitch who just happens to hate physical contact of any kind and just because he practically falls into Charles' embrace doesn't mean he's going soft. It just means that Charles is special and is quite possibly the singular exception to Erik's Law of Personal Boundaries.
As Charles finally let's go of him and they're about to part ways, Charles once again forgets that Erik is only supposed to be capable of understanding German.
"I'll be seeing you around, my friend!" he says brightly, before running off to god knows where.
But this time, Erik doesn't even question it; he just lets out his sharp grin and waves goodbye.
This time around, as he walks to his dorm, he's sort of floating because yes, they will be seeing each other again; and when he goes to bed that night, it's with a smile on his face. Even his roommate knows better than to ruin Erik's mood with his stupid comments, which is an added bonus.
Overall, it's a damned good day. For the first time in a very long time, Erik is feeling content to bask in the nice warmth that Charles makes him feel.
The third time they meet, it's in calc the very next day and Charles surprises Erik by dumping what feels like a metric ton of books on his lap.
It takes every bit of self-control that Erik has to not curse loud, long, and not unlike a sailor because on top of hating people who disrupt his class, Professor McKellen also hates 'potty mouths'. He does not hesitate to aim his chalk-missiles at all verbal offenders within hearing (and shooting) range, and Erik really doesn't want to be a target.
He's sort of in pain, Charles is a little too regretful, and it's all Erik can do to convince Charles that no, it's really not a big deal but could he please refrain from doing it again?
Unsurprisingly, it takes more than a few minutes to stop Charles from having a silent meltdown over the incident. It takes even more effort to stop the man from getting the paramedics into the classroom because holy shit, that would be embarrassing and Erik may or may not have a not so irrational fear of anything that has to do with the medical profession. He has things to hide about his body after all, all the scars and the wounds that still haven't healed even though it's been a while. So he'd prefer if there were no doctors involved.
That dust has settled and Erik really doesn't want it to be kicked up again.
By the time everything is normal again, class is half over and Erik really is not happy about this.
A quick glance at the board only makes things worse because, well, Erik doesn't quite understand what the professor is trying to do. He suspects, though, that the man is trying to mathematically worm his way into the fourth dimension somehow because that's the only way that some of the things the professor has written on the board will make any kind of sense.
In a move to save his sanity and what's left of his brain-cells, Erik gives up on Calc lecture as a lost cause for the day.
Accordingly, he spends the rest of the class period examining the books that Charles had so unceremoniously dropped on his lap, and he can feel his eyebrow rising just a little bit more with every title he reads. They all have one big thing in common: each and every one of these books is a workbook.
More specifically, they're workbooks meant for people who are trying to learn English as their second language.
Another quick eyebrow raise in Charles' direction and the infamous iPhone comes out again, along with a manically typing Charles.
[You, my friend, need to learn English,] it says, [And I've decided that I'm the one who's going to teach you.]
One more time, Erik sort of wants to be like fuckdammit! I SPEAK ENGLISH! But then he thinks about what this could mean...
He's been trying to think of a way to make Charles hang out with him outside of classes without sounding like he's needy. Besides, he isn't sure what their relationship actually is. He thinks of them as friends, but who knows how Charles thinks of them? Maybe Charles just considers them acquaintances and would be annoyed if Erik asked to hang out.
The conclusion he's reached after extensive thought is that, in order for his results to be the way he wants them to be, he needs Charles to suggest that they spend more time together.
That way, Erik is sure about where he stands and doesn't have to worry about imposing where he isn't wanted.
Essentially speaking, this, what Charles is offering to do, is Erik's golden opportunity.
But the thing is, Erik also feels sort of guilty because Charles actually thinks that he needs help and Erik is completely leeching off of Charles' good personality.
He's also building a friendship based on lies, but that's neither here nor there.
Erik has to wonder as to what kind of person this makes him. He's always known that he's a terrible person, has always known that even if heaven does exist, he has no place in it. He's seen things and done things and his life has definitely not been pretty. But this…
For some reason, this matters. That Charles may get hurt in the end matters and even though it's only been a couple of days, Erik is already fiercely protective of the rosy-cheeked, bright, brilliant young man who chases away the darkness in Erik's heart and mind.
Erik is quickly pulled out of his inner debate when Charles nudges at him and points to the iPhone again.
[It's not like you have a choice, you know] it says, and Erik can practically taste the amusement, [You need this, and you're going to get it. You never know when I'm not going to be around to bail you out…]
Erik can practically hear his self-control crumble into tiny little bits.
Despite his inner battle, it doesn't take long for Erik to just shrug and nod in acquiescence. Who is he to argue with Charles, he figures, when the boy obviously has his heart set on it?
Moral scruples and odd protectiveness aside, Erik wants this friendship, badly, and he's willing to do just about anything for it, including being retaught a language. And if this is an ill-advised way to go about getting to know Charles better, well, Erik's excuse is that he's a college student. He's at that point in his life where his entire life is ruled by bad judgment and sheer, unadulterated stupidity anyway.
Besides, Charles makes him feel some inexplicable things- all warm and goopy and soft- and Erik is nothing if not a scientist; he wants to figure out why his heart swells every time he sees Charles. He has a hypothesis he needs to test, one that scares the shite out of him, but one nonetheless and the only way to do that is to be in Charles' presence as much as possible.
Erik can console himself with the knowledge that he is a 'fast learner,' so he won't have to fool Charles for too long.
After that point, they're with each other all the time. Seriously, other than going home at night to sleep, and going to their separate classes, they spend every other waking moment together.
Hell, Charles sometimes even cuts his classes so he can hang out with Erik even more, which absolutely boggles Erik's mind. When asked about it, Charles just waves it off, grins like usual and runs away with the iPhone app which allows the two of them communicate so that Erik can't tell him off.
Erik's pretty sure that, if he really wanted to, he could catch up to Charles in no time flat because he's obviously far more in shape than the smaller boy. But he sort of likes that Charles is basically following him around like a lost puppy; it makes him feel like he's needed, better yet, wanted. So instead of bitching, Erik goes around gathering notes for the classes Charles misses because Charles thinks he's too smart to need something as trivial as the class materials.
To be fair, Charles is smart, incredibly so. But Erik's pretty sure that, smart or not, there is no way Charles can pass if Charles is never there and therefore has no idea what's even being taught. So Erik takes it upon himself to keep Charles appraised in his classes even though they only have Calculus together.
And to make things just a little bit sweeter for Erik, the English lessons have not been going well at all, mainly because neither one of them has that kind of time. This bothers Charles a little but Erik just shrugs and grins and sprawls his freakishly tall self all over everything as he does his physics homework. He isn't even that upset when a single problem takes forty minutes and he has at least ten more to go because Charles is there to make things better.
Sure, there are some bad moments, like the time that Charles falls asleep in Erik's dorm and is treated to one of Erik's horrific nightmares. Erik's pretty sure Charles knows something at this point, because his screaming 'Nein! Bitte aufhören! Fass mich nicht an!'(1) were probably the biggest hints ever. Thankfully, when Charles proceeded to translate it and then question Erik about it through the very same translator, Erik passed it off as a stupid dream; and while Charles obviously didn't believe him, he didn't pry.
But, such moments aside, it mostly works and everyone's (mostly) happy; and even though it feels like they've been doing this forever, it's only been a week.
Everything is just that good.
Of course, as the Law of Erik's Sucky Life dictates: the second Erik starts to find some semblance of happiness, something has to go wrong, and spectacularly at that.
In this particular instance, it's a broken water main.
To be more specific, it's a broken water main in Erik's dorm building that ends up flooding everything. The school ends up having to shut the place down, leaving a hundred some kids without a place to live.
In all honestly, it really isn't a big deal for most of the kids in that dorm-building; they're all either from rich families that can afford to put them up at a hotel for an indefinite amount of time, or their family lives close by so that they can just commute from there. But, well, Erik isn't rich like that, or at all really and goddammit, he's from Germany. It's not like he can just nip back home and come back the next day to attend classes; neither can he afford to shell out obscene amounts of money so he can go and stay at a hotel until this problem is taken care of.
And to ice the shit-cake that's slowly becoming Erik's life, the idiot housing office is being singularly unhelpful because while they're sympathetic to his plight, there isn't anything they can do. They're obviously not used to dealing with not-rich kids because they keep saying that all the other dorms are full and why can't he just go stay at a hotel? It's only a couple of months! Erik just grits his teeth at them and stomps out because shit, what the hell.
For the first time in a long time, Erik has no idea what to do, so he's taken to cursing at the top his lungs in, ding ding ding, German because that's his mother language and it gives him comfort, dammit.
That's how Charles happens upon him, upset, trying not to cry from the sheer stress, and cursing vigorously from his seat at the curb in front of the housing building.
Erik's grateful because Charles doesn't even ask what's wrong and he once again has to wonder if Charles is a mind-reader because it's like he already knows. He takes one look at Erik, turns to look at the building, frowns and then walks right in.
About ten minutes later, he's walking back out, a scowl marring his usually soft face, grabbing Erik by the hand and with surprising strength, starts dragging him off to lord knows where. Erik is sort of flummoxed and more than a little freaked.
He doesn't even want to think about why, about those times when he wou—
Charles is his best friend, his only friend, and Erik's had enough time to gauge the boy's personality to know that he wouldn't hurt a fly. That and, well, he's still a little too busy panicking over were he's going to live for the next month to really pay attention to his surroundings. If it weren't for Charles' grip on his hand, Erik would probably fall into a ditch and never be found again.
He doesn't even notice when they eventually get into a car and drive away.
That is to say, he doesn't notice until Charles is nudging him and suddenly, there is a freaking. Huge. Mansion. Right in front of his face; Erik has no choice but to come back to reality. When he turns to Charles, his mouth gaping open, Charles merely shrugs and types out an iPhone message.
[Well,] it says, [you need a place to stay. I thought you could live at mine for a bit.]
Erik proceeds to stare, looking a bit like a fish even as he types back.
Charles just smiles, [Welcome to the Xavier Estate.]
Erik feels more than a little bitter as he types back, [Your childhood must have been so unbearable…] It's sarcastic and it's mean and Erik feels more than a little bit like a douche, but he can't help it! It feels like life is mocking him by giving him a best friend who has everything he has never had and never will. It's sort of like a slap in the face because while most of Erik's childhood and early adulthood had been full of despair and desperation, Charles had lived like a king. It feels like there's a huge gap between them now and Erik has no idea how to deal with that.
He only feels worse when Charles gives him this smile and it's quite possibly the saddest one Erik has ever seen. "Yes," he hears the boy mutter even as he starts to drag Erik inside, "Home sweet Home, indeed." Erik's pretty sure he wasn't supposed to hear that, and even if he was, he wasn't supposed to understand it.
As it is, it break's Erik's cold, dead heart to see Charles looking and sounding so despondent.
Erik's seen that smile before - the one Charles just gave him that is. He's seen it on his own face a thousand times back when he was but a child and thought there was still something worth living for. It's a smile full of loneliness, sadness, longing, and having one's hopes shot down too many times to count.
Erik can imagine a little boy with big, sky-blue eyes and rosy cheeks, with all the toys in the world and all the room the play in, but so, so alone. He can see a little brown haired boy being passed from nanny to nanny, everyone worth loving but not mom and dad. Every little rich boy cliché that Erik's ever heard of start to swim around in Erik's head and it hurts, because everything seems to fit Charles.
Suddenly, just like that, everything clicks.
And Erik is left to feel like a total douche even as he walks quietly behind Charles.
It must have been, and probably still is, utter hell for Charles to live here all by himself.
Erik feels for Charles.
Thankfully, it turns out that Charles doesn't live by himself; at least, not anymore anyway. There are running children everywhere and Charles wastes no time in introducing them to the iPhone translation app so they can talk to Erik. And while Erik is glad that Charles is doing the glowing thing again, he isn't so sure that he wants to meet the kids.
He may or may not have a deep-rooted inability to deal with annoying things, including but not limited to bad drivers, loud noises, lab-coats, pollen, thieves, children, old people, young people, people in general...
Did he mention that he hates people?
Except for Charles, who can be as annoying as he damned well pleases and Erik won't really do much to stop him. Seriously, he's the only exception.
But these kids, well…
There are five of them in total: Raven, Angel, Sean, Alex and Hank.
Sean is the youngest; he's five years old and in his reception year of school. Erik finds out that Sean likes choco-balls and pop and television and Charles and Alex and Hank and even Raven and Angel, he guesses, even though they're girls and girls are weird. He hates homework with the passion of a thousand burning suns and he hates fish; fish, Sean believes, should all die. Erik's almost overwhelmed by the amount of information he gets out of the boy even though he didn't even ask. Unfortunately for everyone, Sean tends to shriek when he's super excited and Erik concludes that, with the right amplification, his voice would be capable of breaking glass if he puts his mind to it.
Alex and Hank are a year older, although Alex is quick to point out that he's two whole months older than Hank and therefore is the oldest; he says it like it's some kind of win and Erik doesn't have the time to disillusion the boy before he's continuing on. Alex is in his first year of school and likes to sleep, eat, watch TV, playing with fire. He really likes fire. But he hates it when there's thunder and fire at once. So basically, he hates it when Charles lights up the fireplace when there's a thunderstorm because Alex is pretty sure that one day there's going to be an uncontrollable explosion and everything going to be set on fire and die. But it's not because he's afraid, Alex hastens to assure Erik, he's just careful.
As for Hank, well, the kid is a flat out genius, insanely high IQ and all. He's only six and he's already preparing for his A-Levels for god's sakes. He wants to be an engineer (just like Erik, which makes him happy), with a side degree in Astrophysics. He also wants to work for the CIA and wastes no time at all showing Erik his blueprints for a machine which, if Erik is reading these correctly, would essentially increase brain activity by sending small pulses of electricity through a special helmet, bring it back out through the visual cortex and onto a screen. If all is well, the result would be like Big Brother but on a mentally global scale.
No mind would be safe.
Erik is more than a little thankful that despite Hank's IQ, no one in their right minds would fund something that a six year old comes out with.
The last two, Angel and Raven, are the most normal of the group. They're both twelve and are in their seventh year. They're hitting puberty and just beginning to discover womanhood and it makes Erik all sorts of uncomfortable when they start batting their eyelashes at him in sync. He's just beginning to wonder if he should run for it when Charles smacks the two of them across the head and tells them to behave, and then it's like they're back to being young kids again. It turns out that Raven is the first child that Charles ever adopted and that she loves painting. In fact, Sean says with a wide grin, more often than not, she's covered in all sorts of paints and he goes on to describe the one time she came out of her room covered from head to toe in blue ink. Apparently, she's also good at mimicking people spot on. Erik can't help but grin as she does a very convincing, but childish, impression of him.
Angel is into fashion and is more prone to slipping into Spanish when she gets highly emotional, much like Erik slips into German all the time. She's the one in charge of making sure everyone dresses appropriately, including Charles. Apparently, without her around, everyone would simply walk around in clashing clothes, like the one time Charles had tried to walk out of the house in the most hideous pink and orange striped sweater and white pants. Other than that, she's quiet, soft spoken, and next to Hank, she's the one with the highest marks.
These kids, Erik finds himself falling for them a little.
He isn't sure what makes them so different, but they just don't act like regular kids even though they're hyper and loud and annoying like the usual batch. Something in Erik tugs every time he sees them, something special that makes them bearable where other children aren't, even when they're at their most bothersome. Something about them makes him want to love and protect them and it completely confuses Erik because he is sonot used to this shit. It's like they're fragile somehow because no matter how rambunctious they get the hunch to their tiny shoulders and the shadows in their eyes are visible. It's like they're fully prepared for the world to hate them at the drop of a hat.
…except around Charles.
Erik is beginning to notice a pattern here.
When he asks Charles about it later, through the iPhone of course, he finds out that they're orphans, every single one of them. He finds out that they were abandoned by society and lived in orphanages, on the streets, or with abusive families until Charles somehow managed to wrangle them into living with him.
Those kids had been through at least parts of what Erik had until Charles had taken them in and given them a loving home.
Just like how Charles is trying to take him in now.
But Erik is not a young child looking for acceptance, not anymore, and his ego is far bigger than any of the kids because he's been there and he's lived through it and he's come out fine.
Obviously, his answer is a resounding no.
But Charles, well, he's a stubborn little bitch, even on the translation app.
He uses logic like it's a weapon, pointing out the various and many flaws in Erik's abrupt decision like the fact that, oh, Erik has nowhere to go and doesn't have the money to pay for a hotel. Besides, Charles points out, his place is closer to the school anyway so would Erik please pull his head out of his arseand agree?
Charles is using his professor voice, as Erik has come to internally dub it. It's the voice that no one says 'no' to because years of schooling have conditioned them into fearing punishment if they do otherwise.
Erik is no exception.
He isn't even surprised when he finds out that Charles has taken the liberty of having all of Erik's things, what could be saved of it, into a spare room that's across the hall from his own.
Erik honestly can't figure out why Charles is going so far for him of all people and that fact sort of scares him. But when he looks into Charles' eyes, all he sees is warmth and affection and acceptance and something that he can't quite name. But it all combines to make Erik feel more secure than he has in his entire life.
There's also that peculiar emotion rising in his own chest, but Erik writes it off. He's too content to complicate things right now.
Despite Erik's concerns, moving into and staying at the Xavier Estate with Charles and the kids is almost seamless. It's almost as though he's back home after a long journey and it seems that even the kids feel that way because they take to him like fish to water.
He's spending more time with children now than he has in the past, oh, all his life.
Every day, between his physics class and his Advanced Molecular Structure class, he spends two hours tutoring Sean and Alex in math, while Hank watches on, tries to read through Erik's textbooks and asks the occasional question. It's a little difficult because, well, Erik is still using Charles' iPhone app for his 'translations' and whatnot, but it turns out that Hank the Genius speaks some German, still butchered but infinitely better than Charles. So between the app and Hank, Erik can actually communicate quite well.
Then it's class, Calc with Charles, and then home—
Erik's begun to consider Xavier Manor as home because it's the only place that's ever felt so—.
Anyway, after Calc, him and Charles drive back to the mansion and Erik makes dinner because, dear god, Charles can't cook and apparently they've been living off of takeout all their lives—all six of them. And Erik, well, he cooks very well because he's been doing it for himself since he was able to reach the stove.
Angel and Raven flit around and help out by fetching ingredients out of the cupboards and fridge –they've learned the names of the ingredients in German by now— and they set the table when all is said and done. In the meantime, Charles gets the boys cleaned up, helps them with their homework and makes sure that they aren't doing anything destructive until after dessert.
It's all ridiculously domestic and heartwarming, and it's only been a month and a half. Erik's almost upset because that means he only has two more weeks or so left here and he just doesn't want to go. It's too good here - better than he's ever had.
Of course, with the good comes the bad, and in far higher numbers. And especially recently, it's sort of started to feel like everything is going wrong.
For one thing, it's getting more and more difficult to not speak. And yeah, okay, Erik's brought it on himself by pretending not to speak the primary language of his current place of residence and whatnot, but it still sucks. Besides, he's basically cornered himself by now; he can admit to his lies and lose everything he's built up, or he can 'learn to speak' English.
Erik wants to do the second one, obviously, but it's just not working out because there never seems to be enough time between classes and the kids and Erik is starting to be concerned.
But whatever, they manage to make it work for now.
The other problem is that, well, his past is slowly coming out, more than Erik's ever wanted it to. He has nightmares often and more than once, he's found himself being woken up by small hands as one of the children wake him up and sometimes, curl up with him. And on more than one occasion, it was Charles himself who ran in, woke him up, held him to the best of his abilities even though Erik was trying his best to get away, and eventually tucked him in to sleep.
It's all very disconcerting and Erik is expecting Charles and the kids to start treating him like everyone else does: like he's damaged or made of glass. But they don't. Sure, they take a little bit more care, under Charles' instructions, to not set him off, but they pretty much act normally around him otherwise.
Erik is unspeakably grateful about that.
And last but not least, there's Charles himself.
Erik is starting to feel certain things for Charles that he can honestly say he's never felt before. Whenever he sees Charles nowadays, he feels warm and bubbly and just flat out odd. He knows what these feelings mean - he isn't stupid after all - but they scare the crap out of him. He's barely used to their insta-friendship, what with it only being all of seven weeks? Eight? since they've known each other; he can barely accept that. But an insta-relationship, well, that's on a whole different playing field.
It's not that he's averse to idea at all; he would probably have no problems with being with Charles and making it work. He knows this for a fact because that's basically what they've been doing for the past month and a half. They've been living as a normal family would with two parental units and children.
Hell, the kids even call them that sometimes, Mom and Dad that is, which makes Erik freak out a little because shit, he's really starting to get attached and so are they and this can't end well because Erik's life just isn't meant to be good; so relatively little time has passed and what the hell.
Erik just doesn't get it; he doesn't accept it and take it in stride and he doesn't understand.
And Charles is the worst of them all because if Erik is reading things right, then Charles isn't averse to being in an actual relationship either. Erik is definitely seeing the signs but shit, he can't actually confirm it.
That is, until he can and that night starts shattering Erik's world in ways he can't even describe.
Because one night, as Charles tries to comfort Erik through yet another nightmare, he actually saysit.
"Come back to me, Erik. Come on, love. Shh.. shh. I'm here. It's only a nightmare." Charles says, his voice soft and comforting as he places a gentle kiss on Erik's forehead, gently coaxing Erik awake.
What he doesn't realize is that Erik has been awake for a little while already, just trying to calm himself down so he doesn't do something embarrassing, like bursting into tears or cuddling. And when Erik hears his little slip, he freaks out all over again.
Erik isn't sure he can deal with that.
Sure, he knows that he feels something for Charles, something warm and steady and deep...but love? Erik isn't sure if it goes that far.
Hell, Erik isn't even sure if Charles meant that he loves him or if it was just one of those odd British nicknames that really have no meaning. On top of that, he isn't sure if that's what he wants at all.
Even though there's a small part of him that would be happy in being in a relationship with Charles, there's a larger part of him that's utterly against it. He's a fucked up man, it keeps whispering, Charles deserves better than a damaged man with so little to offer.
He's so deep in thought that he nearly misses it when Charles tucks him in, when Charles leans down and presses his lips to Erik's forehead once more and whispers a quiet, "I love you..."
He looks so, so sad as he says it, just for a second, as though it's hopeless, as though he knows that the sentiment isn't returned.
Erik wishes he could just gather the other boy up, assure him that yes, he is loved and that Erik is his as long he wants. But that, that would be a lie because Erik isn't sure. And he can't even ask Charles about it because Charles said it in English, which implies that this wasn't something Erik was supposed to be privy to.
This suspicion is only proven when Charles pats Erik's head like he hadn't just said something world-shattering and grins as he walks out the door.
It pisses Erik off because he wants to be like, shit! Can't you at least use the damned translation app for this? It's not like Charles doesn't use it for every other damned thing in the universe! But he can't because he isn't supposed to know.
Erik doesn't bother to stop Charles because what would he say anyway?
As he rolls over in an attempt to go back to sleep, a voice in his head keeps calling him a coward, a loser, a heartless bastard. What kind of person are you? it keeps asking, Why can't you just be brave for once?
Erik can't help but answer it with in a quiet whisper.
I don't know...
Suffice it to say, he doesn't sleep well at all that night.
The next two to three days are utter torture for Erik because he can't seem to catch a break anywhere.
First of all, his nightmares are worse than ever and because of that, he hasn't had enough sleep. And because he hasn't slept enough, he's feeling jumpy and paranoid and he can't for the life of him stop snapping at people. In a way, it's sort of normal because let's face it, he's always a bit snippy with people, but somehow, it's even worse than usual. It's even getting to the point where he's starting to snap at the kids.
Second of all, the relationship between him and Charles is strained and that's the nicest possible waythat Erik can describe it.
For instance, the fact that he's been snapping at the kids does not make Charles happy, at all. And for Erik...
It's a painful reminder that the kids are actually Charles', that Erik is the outsider here. And yeah, considering how Erik's been reacting, it's his own damn fault and he has no right to complain. But that doesn't make it any better.
It shouldn't hurt because he's the only one stopping himself from being a part of that family, but it does anyway. There's always a treacherous part of him that whispers, that says that if anyone knew about him, about his life before England, then they wouldn't want to be around him anymore. It really fucking sucks.
And as though that weren't bad enough, well, another problem crops up that does not help at all.
It seems Erik can't look him the eyes since that night a few days ago when Charles had confessed, confessed in a manner that should've been secret because Erik shouldn't know. Erik's pretty sure that Charles purposefully used English because Erik isn't supposed to understand the language. But the fact of the matter is, Erik does know so that makes this infinitely harder than it should be.
He can't stop thinking about it. He knows that he feels something for Charles too, maybe not love yet, but something that's probably pretty close. It's been growing in him over the past couple of months, festering in his heart and making him warm. At the same time though, Erik is terrified because shit, he has no idea if he's ready for something like that, something that strong and deep.
Hell, even if he does go through with the relationship business, there's that part of him that keeps whispering to him, telling him that he doesn't deserve Charles, his beautiful, kind-hearted, rosy cheeked best friend. He can never measure up; he can never be that person that Charles needs because he's damaged, has seen too much of the world to be able to foster that kind of naivete. Erik's pretty sure that he'd taint Charles, that he's beentainting him.
But love or not, pain or not, Erik won't put Charles through that; he needs to maintain the status quo.
Even keeping that in mind though, he can't look Charles in the eye.
Charles is obviously hurt, if his reactions are anything to go by, and that only makes Erik feel worse because Charles can't possibly understand what's going on. He doesn't understand why Erik is suddenly being snippy with him or why Erik refuses to stay in the same room as him for more than a few minutes.
Charles is obviously trying to be understanding, but even he's starting to lose his patience.
All in all, it sort of feels like Erik's world is falling apart all over again.
To top it all off, as though there weren't enough salt in the wound already, it's exam time. This means that everyone is basically trying to swallow their textbooks in preparation, including Erik.
And to make his situation just a little bit less bearable, for the past couple of days, Erik has been feeling like someone is watching him, scrutinizing him from the shadows, and he doesn't like it one bit. He tries to tell himself that he's just being delusional, isn't sleeping enough, anything, but a part of him just can't stop being in overdrive because it knows that there's something wrong.
It feels like there's some kind of impending doom on the horizon, and no matter how hard Erik tries, he can't shake it off.
He tries his best to pass it off as nothing but his own rampant paranoia, as nothing but a figment of his imagination, and it's just not happening.
Thankfully for him, Erik has years of experience in these matters.
When denial doesn't work, he starts to try and figure out what's wrong. After all, taking his life into consideration, Erik hasn't lived til the ripe age of twenty by ignoring his instincts. So why start now?
But the reason for his fears continue to elude him.
That is, until about a week later.
He's walking out of his Physics midterm, his last exam for a month, when he accidentally overhears a conversation that rocks his world and instills the type of furious terror in him that he hasn't felt since...since...
And then Erik quickly realizes that if it's something that feels related to that mess, it probably is.
"Hey! Did you hear? About that one guy in Germany, the one that got the life sentence for all that shite that he pulled I mean?"
"You mean the one who went to prison on all those charges for torturing and raping his step-kid? Yeah, wasn't it all over the telly last year because it was finally found out after almost 14 years?"
"Yeah! Guess what, they say that he's been sighted in England!"
"No! That can't be! Isn't he in prison for the rest of his life?"
"Well he's supposed to be...but the news said he escaped a week ago remember?"
"Oh my god! Where was he sighted?"
"Hm? Oh, they say somewhere around the Xavier Estate. But it's got to be a load of bull, don't you think? That place has more security than some of the prisons around here..."
The person says more but Erik doesn't even bother to pay attention to the rest of his conversation because his blood is turning into ice as everything falls into place; then, pure, unadulterated terror starts to burn through his veins.
He doesn't even have to go and ask about who those guys are talking about because he knows, without a doubt.
There's only one man in the world like that as far as Erik knows and if what those guys, the ones who had just been talking, said have any kind of credibility, then Erik's worst nightmares are coming true.
He is in England; heis back to make Erik's life a constant living hell. And judging by the last sighting...
Charles! His Charles. Danger. Danger. Danger.
Before he knows what he's doing, Erik's practically sprinting out of the courtyard and to where he's parked Charles' car.
He's beyond rational thought; his brain and his body are in sync for once. 'Must protect Charles', is the only thought going through Erik's head and his body is quick to obey. He doesn't even stop to verify if the rumor is true. He knows deep in his bones, like he knows the earth is spherical, that it is.
It's funny though. He's only thinking about Charles even though he should be running for the hills. His past is coming back to haunt him and the only thing he can think is that there's too much potential, too much that's been left unsaid, too much that has been said, and too much that hasn't been said enough; Erik's afraid that it's too late, too late, but he's still hoping so deeply that it isn't that it almost hurts.
Charles. Charles. Charles.
He's speeding like a maniac and he's almost wishing that one of the coppers will come after him because then he'll at least have backup. But then, the thought of being stopped and having to explain and waste all that precious time sort of terrifies him too, so he just drives on and hopes for the best.
Erik's at the manor in almost no time flat.
When he finally gets there, he doesn't even bother to turn the car off. Within seconds of being within reach of the door, Erik is bursting through, screaming for Charles as he searches through room after room.
"Charles? Charles! Where are you? GODDAMMIT ANSWER ME, CHARLES!"
But there's no answer and that in and of itself scares Erik more than he can ever say.
He spends another ten minutes screaming and searching, but there's no answering call.
Erik tries to convince himself that Charles has just gone out with the kids, or is in uni, but even he knows that he's lying to himself. The kids themselves are still in school and Charles doesn't have any classes or exams. For all intents and purposes, the smaller man should be in his room, trying to catch up on almost a weeks worth of all-nighters. But he isn't. Erik would know, he's checked.
So then where is he?
Erik's about to give up and phone the police, when he hears a noise coming from the kitchen and hope blooms in his chest that everything is alright for once.
He should have known better.
As soon as he walks in, he freezes, adrenaline pumping too fast for him to be able to react properly.
There, tied to a chair, is Charles, looking bruised and frightened. A nasty gash on his forehead was bleeding profusely, and at an alarming rate at that.
And just a little beyond him, sitting at the table and enjoying what looks like a good cup of tea, is the vision of Erik's nightmares, is the reason behindErik's nightmares.
"Shaw..." Erik gasps out, frozen in place as every memory that he's been trying to repress crashes over him, as every scar on his body twinges in remembered pain.
And as the man turns around, Erik can feel his world crumbling down around him.
"Now, now. Is that any way to greet your dear step-father?"
End Author Notes: DUN DUN DUUUNNN :D Whatchu think? I hope it wasn't a too terrible a read. I know it was long and sort of not the best written chapter. But as I said, I wanted to get it up before I someone thought I was discontinuing it. So yeah. Aso, don't kill me. The next part will come eventually! :D I promise! In the meantime, R AND R PLEASE!
(1) - Something like 'No! Please stop! Don't touch me!'