Fix You - Part Five
Things slowly and carefully returned to normal.
It took him three days and quite a few missed phone calls to finally break and call Raven - he'd never told her any of the details of his relationship with Logan, no matter how diligently she pressed for them, out of consideration for her rather keen habit of worrying endlessly over him - and he, with Erik's consent, invited her to the apartment to tell her in person. She'd taken one look at his still-bruised eye and split lip and burst into tears, and it had taken quite a bit of coaxing on the part of both Charles and Erik to calm her down and assure her that everything was going to be all right. She'd been angry then, and fiercely protective of her older brother, hugging him tightly in the doorway and getting several promises from Erik that he'd keep a watchful eye on him. Next had been a call to Emma Frost, one of Erik's fellow lawyers and a mutual friend (though the term friend was probably used very loosely in Erik's case), a conversation that he'd dreaded having equally as much as the conversation with Raven. He decided, against the better judgment of both Emma and Raven, not to press any sort of charges - in all honesty, he wanted nothing but to put this entirely behind him and move on.
Nearly two weeks passed before he left Erik's, despite his numerous assurances that Charles could stay as long as he liked. He wanted to return to work, and as tempting as staying with Erik was, it was time for him to pick up the pieces of his life back at his own apartment. So he'd gone back with Raven by his side, armed with boxes and trash bags, and together they'd done the best they could to clean and tidy the apartment, restoring it to the way it'd been before Logan had ever come into the picture. The bruises faded and he was able to return to work at the bookstore, slipping quietly into his normal routine with less fuss than he'd feared.
"How are you today, Charles?" Moira smiled at him from across the cafe's counter, her chin resting in the palm of her hand. She'd taken the news with a remarkably level head when he returned to work, hugging him tightly the moment he'd finished explaining his sudden absence. She'd always been one of his favorite coworkers, but they'd formed an easy friendship in recent weeks, a bit of added stability that he greatly appreciated.
"I'm well, thanks." he replied, gathering up a stack of books that needed to return to the shelves. "Save your break until noon, won't you? We'll have lunch."
Moira nodded just as another customer stepped up to the counter, and Charles smiled at her before turning to return to the floor, winding his way through several of the shelves as he returned books to their proper places.
At first, Erik had been hesitant about letting Charles return to his apartment.
There was a constant nagging in the back of his mind; his paranoia led him to think that the second Charles got comfortable back in his own place, Logan would return and do even worse damage than before. He'd insisted on several occasions that it was completely unnecessary for Charles to go back - that he didn't mind him staying at his apartment. Erik didn't go so far as to officially ask his best friend to move in with him (being a new couple and all, the last thing he wanted to do was freak him out by moving too fast).
Even his attempts to help Charles and Raven clean the apartment were futile. Charles affirmed that they could very easily do it on their own - after pointing out the fact that Erik had tons of paperwork to go through (he didn't know how it managed to pile up the way it had over the course of a few days). Erik, unwillingly, let him and his sister go, but kept his phone within close range in case Charles called with some kind of emergency. Thankfully, such a call never came, but Charles did let him know their progress later that evening via text message. He hadn't got but two replies before he assumed Charles fell asleep, which was not uncommon for him.
Now, Erik sat at his large mahogany desk, politely dismissing one of his most frequent clients from his office. As soon as they left, Erik reviewed the case file yet again and shook his head. Sean Cassidy. Again - this time for vandalism. Erik was sure that if Sean kept up these misdemeanors, his parents were going to make him a very rich man. Certainly Erik did not condone the rather lewd graffiti writing, even if Sean claimed it was for a necessary cause. Unable and unwilling to provide a testimony in Sean's defense, Erik could do nothing but assign yet another court date for the teenager - and being one hundred percent sure that the judge is tired of his continuous reckless antics, he wasn't going to be so lenient on the sentence this time around.
Erik's pen flowed freely across the bottom of the document and it wasn't long after that before Janos rapped his knuckle on his open office door. He looked up briefly, a smirk tugging at his lips when Janos held onto the doorframe and leaned over in his direction, a rather amused expression plastered on his face. "Cassidy again?"
Erik nodded, set down his pen and leaned back in his leather desk chair, releasing a slightly annoyed sigh. "Unfortunately, yes. I don't think he'll ever learn." But he didn't particularly mind - it was individuals like Sean that provided his income.
This time, Janos laughed and shook his head. "That kid, I tell ya." He cleared his throat and curiously looked over the documents scattered about his co-workers desk. "When's your next appointment?"
Erik gave a sidelong glance over at the clock in the bottom corner of his computer screen. He had about two hours to kill. "Not until three." Truth be told, he didn't have much, if anything to do until then.
"Cool. Wanna go get lunch or something?"
Erik pursed his lips and idly tapped his fingers on the desktop as he mused on Janos offer. Being as how the bookstore was only a few blocks down the street from the firm, he could walk down and see how Charles was doing. He hadn't had a chance to see him (at work anyway) these last four days and was hoping he was readjusting well after his prolonged absence. "Sorry, but I have a couple errands to run." He stood and grabbed his gray pinstripe suit jacket from the back of the chair and shrugged it on.
"Ah, I see. Oh well." Janos shoulders slumped slightly in disappointment, but he immediately perked as a new window of opportunity opened up. "I think I will go ask Angel if she wants to get a bite to eat." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and Erik had to chuckle. He'd approached her several times before - but that was Janos for you, he never knew when to quit.
"Good luck with that." Erik said, adjusting his collar as he brushed past the man and advanced down the long corridor leading to an elevator. Janos watched him go, then tugged a hand through his hair with a heavy sigh and made his way back to the front desk where Angel, Shaw's secretary (second to Emma, of course), sat as she always did, unenthusiastically answering phone calls.
Erik passed Darwin, an intern, on his way out the main revolving door. He acknowledged him politely, earning a broad grin and a cheerful "Hey Mr. Lehnsherr, nice to see you today" in return. Looking down at his watch as he proceeded to walk down the slightly crowded sidewalk, Erik calculated that it would take roughly ten minutes to get to the bookstore - surely he would not stay very long knowing Charles was supposed to be working, so he would have plenty of time to grab something to eat before he headed back to the office.
As Erik figured, he arrived at the bookstore in eight minutes and forty-three seconds (being a lawyer, it was in his nature to be extremely specific). A petite brunette woman, whom was currently cleaning the café counter, greeted him with a bright smile upon his entry. "Good afternoon, sir." Erik acquiesced to the gesture with a slight nod of his head, and then allowed his eyes to scan over the rows of shelves until he spotted a familiar brown head of hair - his back currently turned away from him.
Erik made his way over to Charles and rested a hand on the small of the man's back. "Excuse me, sir, but might I trouble you for just a moment of your time..?" He flashed his trademark wide, almost beautifully blinding smile, and chuckled at the shocked expression on Charles face - which soon faded away to utter delight.
The book store wasn't terribly busy despite the lunchtime break; they usually experienced an influx of customers around noon and one o'clock, but Charles only heard the door chime and Moira's greeting from the cafe a couple of times. After pointing an elderly woman in the right direction of their selection of novels by Nora Roberts, he returned to his work, re-shelving a handful of different copies of Jane Eyre. He wondered, with a brief glance at the watch on his wrist, what Erik was up to - on the phone last night, he'd mentioned the likelihood of another case coming in with Sean Cassidy's name on it, and Charles couldn't help but feel somewhat sympathetic for the troubled young man. They hadn't spoken since, other than a handful of text messages from this morning when Charles was taking the underground to work, and he was half-tempted to duck into the back to send another when a hand rested on the small of his back.
He whirled, nearly dropping the copies of Jane Eyre he still held in his hands, alarm evident on his face until he realized, belatedly, who was standing behind him. Erik was grinning widely, the corners of his eyes crinkled in delight, and Charles couldn't help but mirror the smile. It was a welcome surprise, seeing him here so unexpectedly, and Charles couldn't help the rush of affection that bubbled up in his chest.
"Hello, Erik." Charles said, the smile still on his face. "What are you doing here?"
Erik helped Charles straighten the rather tall pile of books in his arms as a soft laugh slipped past his lips. "I don't have another client for a couple hours, so I figured I'd drop by." He kept his tone quiet, even though there was only a few other patrons scattered about the store aside from himself. Erik was thankful when Charles did have to work - it went without question that he preferred him in a public setting as opposed to being back at his apartment alone. So long as Logan remained in the area, there was always that worry that he would come back unexpectedly. Hell, Erik was beginning to think he was more distraught about the thought than Charles was.
He was halfway sure that he was probably grinning like an idiot, but he couldn't help the sense of happiness he felt knowing that Erik had simply decided to drop by in between clients. Though he made it sound terribly casual, Charles knew that there were plenty of things that probably needed his attention back at his office - he'd seen, even in his short time staying with Erik, the amount of paperwork that he brought on every evening in his briefcase, and he could only imagine what waited for him each morning on his desk. With his new promotion, Erik's workload had seemed to double overnight, and Charles couldn't help but feel just the tiniest bit guilty that he was taking Erik's attention away from his work, even briefly. It was still terribly endearing that he'd dropped by, however; an act of kindness that he hadn't been used to in quite some time.
"Oh, you didn't have to do that..." he said quietly, placing the stack of books on a nearby display table. "I'd ask you to lunch, but I took my break just a half hour ago. I wish I'd waited."
Erik shrugged it off and slid his hands into his pants pockets. "I probably should have called earlier on." He replied, not knowing why he hadn't thought to do so a couple hours ago; he knew his schedule was going to be open around one o'clock. "Since lunch didn't work out, what do you say to dinner, my place, after you get off work?" Erik raised a brow, followed by yet another one of his irresistible smiles. He'd probably be home around the same time Charles' shift ended. He'd given Charles a key, but Charles insisted he wouldn't abuse the privilege and only use it for dire emergencies. "And if you're feeling up to it," The taller man paused briefly, grin widening ever so slightly. "Might you be interested in staying with me tonight?"
Charles had never been terribly gifted at saying /no/ - Raven had him wrapped around her little finger by the time she was five years old, and if she was the first person he couldn't, under most circumstances, say no to, then Erik was a very close second. From the moment Erik offered an invitation to dinner, Charles was sure that he would agree wholeheartedly, but the wide smile on the other man's face was enough to do him in. He couldn't possibly say no to that - not when Erik was standing in the middle of his workplace, eyes crinkled at the corners and his attention focused solely on Charles.
"Of course," he said before Erik was even finished speaking, realizing again that he was acting more like an awkward, lovesick teenager than an adult who'd been in more than one established relationship throughout his life. He felt the beginnings of a blush heat his face momentarily, but he couldn't help the smile that once again tugged at the corners of his mouth at the next part of Erik's request. Though he'd promised that he would not abuse the hospitality that Erik had and continued to show him, he couldn't deny the fact that staying with him again was tempting - their relationship was still considered very new, but something about it made Charles feel as though they'd been together for months, years even, without realizing it.
"If you wouldn't mind me staying...," Charles said, looking up at him with a smile. "I'd be more than happy to do so."
"Good." Erik answered in a hushed tone and then turned slightly from Charles. "I'll see you later, then." With that and a sly wink, he proceeded to walk back towards the bookstore entrance, where Charles brunette co-worker smiled broadly and gave the usual "Have a wonderful day, sir" dismissal. The bell above the door chimed as it was opened, then again when it closed. Moira looked over at Charles knowingly and continued to idly wipe off the counter. Charles had mentioned a boyfriend before - but she never had the pleasure of seeing him.
Charles smile remained as he then went back to the tedious task of arranging the books on the shelf; Moira laughed from where she stood, tossing the dishtowel onto the counter behind her. "Well, Charles, I must say…" She started as Charles walked over to the display where he'd set down the numerous copies of Jane Eyre. "It's nice to see you happy. Different, but nice." In the short time she'd known him, it was only recently that she noticed a change in his behavior. His normally somber attitude had morphed into that of sheer contentment.
A blush rose to Charles cheeks as he turned back to the shelf.