Disclaimer: I do not own X-Men. Marvel does.

A/N: Writer's Block buster for the "post anything you write" challenge. High-school aged AU. Preslash because that's what I want in the future.

Rating: T for sensitive subject of nongraphic, non-con teacher-student relations. No rape.

Piano Cover

Low, harmonizing notes slip through the speakers of his headphones like slow drops of honey, wrapping around his brain and taking his mind to some far off, nonexistent location. His face is outwardly blank even as his eyes, darkened to gray in deep thought, follow every drop of rain the slides down his window in a race that has no happy reward for the winner.

The alarm clock on the desk reads 11:05 AM in blaring red letters, but Erik Lehnsherr is at home instead of at school, burrowed as tightly as possible into the corner where his bed meets the walls meets the window he is staring out of. Every now and then, to his immense self-loathing, he shivers in reminisce of the days before, and hates the world a little more.

His mother had offered no protest when he had opened his door at 7:30 and announced he wasn't going to school, only nodded in acceptance. Erik is sixteen, and reasonable, and can make those decisions. But her eyes, brown and warm and loving, had filled with tears, and Erik had closed his door again before he could see them fall.

He knows that she blames herself. He knows that his father, who is supposedly at work but is really downtown meeting a lawyer, blames himself. It is this knowledge that had made him slam his fist through the wall next to his dresser - the large hole has shattered pieces that match perfectly to the deep scratches on his hand.

'It is because we are immigrants.' That is what Erik heard his father say to his mother last night. 'These Americans. They think that because we are not from their country, that we are inferior. That is why this happened.'

Except that it isn't why.

Sure, the other kids at school make fun of his accent when they think he can't hear, and sometimes a substitute teacher will speak slowly to him, as though he has not lived in America for over year now and can understand the lessons just fine. But that isn't why this had happened. No.

Mr. Shaw had said he was special. That he was different. Extraordinary.

Erik's hand tightens over the small silver coin his teacher had given him as the rains picks up outside. Inferiority has nothing to do with what happened.

He shivers again and hates himself more for the weakness.

And then without warning, something small and hard lightly smacks him on the head - a pack of cigarettes falls innocently onto his knee. Startled, wary, his head jerks up, eyes seeking, and his jaw drops when he sees the figure slowly closing the door.

"What the fuck are you doing here?" He demands, too surprised to care that his voice cracks dryly over the words, fingers fumbling for the off button to his iPod. Too focused on the sight of a very soaked, slightly smirking Charles Francis Xavier standing before him, still in school uniform yet very much not in school.

"Thought you could use a smoke," Charles offers, waving towards the pack nonchalantly. "Heavy metal?" He adds, nodding towards the music player.

"Piano cover of that sissy rock band you introduced me to last week," Erik replies, still wide-eyed and confused. "Recorded it offline." The other boy arches an eyebrow.

"I think that still counts as piracy."

Erik makes a noncommittal grunt, still watching as his friend - only friend, best friend - draws closer to his bed, dripping rainwater all over the floor. Charles Xavier, four months his senior, usually the perfect student and perfect child who doesn't like the smell of cigarettes let alone the act of smoking, reaches for the pack and pulls out a cigarette for himself, and a lighter to ignite it. Watches as the other puts the slim stick between his lips and inhales deeply - Erik notes that he, too, is shaking - watches the smoke that comes out when he releases his breath.

"You don't have to worry," Erik says, because he knows Charles and knows that is exactly what is happening inside the brunette's head. Sharp blue eyes dart to him, hard and piercing and he looks away. "It was just a … a kiss. Nothing ... nothing else. You don't have to worry about me." I'd really rather you didn't, actually – he doesn't say that.

There is a few tense moments of silence. Moments where all that can be heard is the rain on the window, moments where Erik really just wants to put his headphones back on and be swallowed by the music and pretend that everything really is just a nightmare he hasn't woken from yet.

And then Charles inhales deeply, sighs out, and plops down on his bed, wet clothes and all.

"I punched Shaw in the face." And he says it so firmly, so matter-of-fact, that even though it is the opposite of everything Erik knows about Charles (and he knows Charles), it takes a minute for the words to fully register as strange and out of place.

"I'm sorry?" Because Erik knows he hadn't heard that right. But his friend shrugs, sucking on the cigarette again, and locks their gazes together.

"Shaw. I punched him." It's so simple, coming from Charles' mouth, that it's almost surreal. "Broke his nose too, I believe. There was quite a bit of blood afterward." He shrugs again, and now Erik can see the small flecks of blood on the white shirt beneath his jacket. "Suspended. Ergo, I am here, and not at school. My father's out with your mother in the kitchen, waiting for your father to get here to talk."

Erik is speechless. He can see Shaw, with his low hypnotizing voice, easy smile, and harsh threats, leaning over him in his office. Can picture him crumbling to floor, groaning in pain and holding his bleeding face, Charles (small, sweet, innocent, mischievous Charles) standing over him, seething and satisfied. "You punched Shaw." And he can't really believe it even though he knows it must be true because Charles doesn't lie.

"I did say that, yes." He doesn't sound even slightly remorseful.

"I thought you didn't believe in violence as an answer," Erik accuses, but it's empty and exasperated and oddly ... relieved. Happy. He suddenly wants a cigarette.

"I don't," Charles agrees, and there's a soft rumble of thunder outside. He holds out the cigarette to Erik in offering. "But … it's you, Erik." As though that explains everything.

And it doesn't. But it does. Funny.

"Charles," is all he can say. But it brings a smile to his friend's face that actually reaches his eyes. The other reaches out and slaps his shoulder lightly in understanding and promise. Erik takes the cigarette, and Charles falls across the bed to lay beside him, and the rain continues to fall.

It doesn't solve anything, what Charles did. But it suddenly feels a little better.


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