A/N: Just kidding, there is no A/N, except for the obvious fact that I own nothing.
Something I'm forgetting - a Cherik fanfic
In which Charles has a tad too much to drink and can't figure out what he was supposed to remember.
"He is always busy with work and never has any fun."
"Maybe he considers his work to be fun." I offered, mixing a drink. The blonde that sat before me was beautiful; it made listening to her complain much easier.
That was my job, to listen to people complaining, though others might call it bartending.
"Work isn't fun." She crinkled her nose and downed the last of her drink a bit quickly.
Allow me to set the stage. Assumingly single girl alone at a bar where there is music, dancing, and mingling, yet she finds nothing better to do than complain about her sibling.
"I had to physically drag him here tonight, and then I had to practically shove alcohol down his throat. Nights at the bar shouldn't be a chore."
I always listened to patrons whether or not I actually felt any sympathy for them. In this particular case, I felt more for the poor sap that got dragged here against his will in the middle of work.
"Would you like another drink?" I offered as politely as possible, cleaning a water spot off the counter.
"I'm fine, but I think my baby brother needs one."
I hadn't been looking at her for a while but the movement of her arm caught my gaze and I followed it onto the floor.
I'd never seen a half-witted chicken attempting to dance but I then knew what it must have looked like. A man who seemed sorely out of place was being dragged by two serpent-faced women through a mingling crowd. Despite his unwilling participation, he acted enthusiastic, if only to humor them.
All of this I noticed without a clear view of his face.
"He's not a dancer is he?" I commented piteously, unsure of how to respond to the blonde's small and knowing smile.
"Nah, he's just too nice to say no." She gestured for me to wait a moment, and for some reason, I did while she rescued her brother.
It was when she touched his arm that he turned into view. I instantly understood why he was being dragged around by women; he had the face of a boy only lined from too much work and no play. It was handsome, yes, but something more accurately described as antique, as if it belonged on a shelf for all to admire, surrounded by 'look but don't touch' signs.
It wasn't with interest that I admired until the light struck his eyes. I couldn't describe them and get away with it, just know that they were blue.
I'm sure the blonde woman knew I had been staring; she had that charming smile on as she brought before me almost in a gesture of offering the most wide-eyed, innocent and seemingly old-fashioned young man I'd ever seen.
"Friend of yours, Raven?" He asked with a swallowed chuckle. Somewhere between his swaying stance and the knuckle he used to scratch his nose (or hide his creeping smile, I wasn't sure) it was obvious he was already drunk.
Raven, as I now knew, ignored his imbalance and instead handed him a drink.
"Drink up baby brother, I ordered it special for you."
I don't know if he even heard her with how intently he had been staring at me, a smile appeared and I could see the resemblance between the two.
They both looked like they had some incredible secret and were tickled pink that you weren't in on it.
"Lovely night, isn't it?" He spoke loudly enough to hear himself over the music and sound of his own intoxication.
I offered him back a grin that portrayed more confidence than I felt.
"If you could call it that. I'm Erik."
Damn, I had been far too quick to introduce myself. I didn't really care whether or not he knew my name, I was only being polite, after all.
"Charles. My name is Charles. It's nice to meet you Erik." Even as drunk as he was (and rapidly declining from the drink in his hand) I had never met anyone sound so genuinely pleased to make my (or anyone's) acquaintance.
"You see Charles? I told you, making friends is easy." Raven teased from somewhere off to the side.
"It's also dangerous." I added, still grinning. His gaze drifted to my teeth where he openly stared, still with that expression of amusement.
"Maybe I like danger."
"Oh please." Raven chortled. "Your idea of danger is getting the newspaper before the neighbors dog does." After which she turned to me. "Please excuse my brother he is very drunk and likes to think he can be sassy and attractive and all that. He'll sober out of it soon." Peals of laughter came from her as Charles jabbed a finger into her side.
"Why don't you go dance with someone Raven?" He chided, looking as if he were trying to convince himself he hadn't been caught in such frivolity.
"I agree, why not grant some poor sap's night? I'll even babysit for you." I offered with absolutely no selfish intentions whatsoever (really, could anyone blame me? I was finally able to distract myself from his eyes only to get stuck on his oddly red mouth).
Her expression clearly stated that I was caught and all I could offer was a pointed look.
Thankfully her raised and accusatory eyebrow slipped away and she was smiling again, shaking her head and wandering off with a call over her shoulder.
"Take good care of him Erik!"
"Somehow you've been saddled with babysitting me." Charles snickered as he took a seat at the stool.
Oh dear lord, why did he have to refer to saddles and babysitting in the same sentence? Even the pit of my stomach was conflicted over that.
"I guess you should make it up to me then." Before he could respond a man was asking for a beer, nodding, I retrieved one from under the counter and attempted not to look as malicious as I felt for the interruption.
Throughout the exchange, Charles just watched, his soft brown hair settling through the creases of his fingers as he leaned into them. I'm surprised that I was able to remain neutral through his stare-down and damn was I happy I didn't break anything.
"I'm not interrupting your work, am I?" The flair gone from his tone, he looked almost guilty.
I felt the urge to throw the beer bottle at the man who had asked for it.
"My work is to socialize, that and be sure you drink as much alcohol as you can tolerate and afford."
My dry humor must have assured him because he was smiling again and it kicked my heart into a race. I had a feeling that I was going to be in deep trouble if I kept this up.
"Are you trying to get me drunk, sir?" Charles cooed, leaning a bit further over the counter than could be misinterpreted. Was it rambunctious of me to lean closer as well?
"You don't need my help in getting drunk."
Even as I said this, I refilled his glass, making a note to forget about it when the bill came around.
Our banter continued for nearly two hours. He would slip something clearly invitational into our conversation and I would respond with what I hoped was equally obvious to my interest without sounding too forthcoming. In between the quips and compliments small details of our personal lives were revealed.
He told me about his study in genetics and I about my knowledge of five languages.
I mentioned my Jewish roots and him his shameful secret of his high-class family (which he admittedly had long cut ties with).
Lastly, Charles spoke about chess. He spoke about it in a way that was beautiful. His eyes lit up considerably for something as simple as a board game.
"If you would like..." I treaded carefully, glancing around to be sure no other patron was being neglected. "You and I could get together and play sometime."
I wanted to remember the way Charles' face collapsed into an exhausted grin. If I stared a little too long, he didn't seem to mind, just swallowed down the last of his (fourth? fifth?) drink and kept grinning.
"Why, Erik. I thought you might never ask."
Feeling daring, I pushed it.
"Might dinner accompany such a game?"
I thought at first he hadn't heard me and was prepared to clear my throat and try even more pathetically to extend what I hoped was a date, but was interrupted by Azazel, my boss, tapping on my shoulder.
He had been what stole Charles' attention.
Azazel was the man that brought this bar to life and was humble enough to name it after himself. He was Russian and bitter and every other stereotype that was associated with the culture, including intimidating to look at.
It was a good thing that I knew him on a more personal level.
"Azazel, what brings you to this side of the bar?" I chuckled, winking at Charles to let him know I was not in trouble.
"Your break." He grumbled, letting his angry eyes switch back and forth between Charles and I.
"I will watch counter, you have half hour." He spoke in his thick accent that often put people off.
"I had honestly forgotten." I put my hands up in a gesture of defeat and Charles was laughing outright, even after the Russian shot him a steady glare his amused expression stayed in place.
"Does this mean you'll be leaving me now?" He may have tried to sound innocent but it was obvious that he knew how appealing he was and apparently how to take advantage of that.
The dirty bastard.
"Actually, I have it on good authority that you're too nice to say no to a dance."
"And where did you hear that my friend?"
I slipped under the counter and stood not a foot from his shallow breaths.
"A little bird."
"Then you must have heard that I'm shit at dancing." Still he took my offered hand and I lured him into the crowd.
"Now that I saw for myself."
The two of us laughed as his free hand beat pathetically against my chest in protest, only stopping when I grabbed that one too and spirited the brunette away.
All through Charles' pitiful yet endearing attempts to woo me in the art of dance (let's just say Charles was lucky I had already been wooed earlier or his attempts would have gone fruitless) I watched the gleam in his eyes and the twitching of his dimples. I had never seen anyone go so long with such a steady smile.
It must have been contagious because soon his soft but sturdy hands were brushing against my jaw.
"You have a really nice smile, darling."
"I suppose I could keep it up for your sake." I managed even as my breath left me. Charles was far worse than I, even his feet seemed to cease response and give out beneath him. I don't know which of us was more startled as he wound up collapsed into my arms.
I couldn't speak for Charles, but I could have stared at him all night. I could have closed the gap between us and disregarded everything else the night ever offered me.
"I'm sorry, I just don't think I can remain vertical in your presence." Charles squeaked, breaking the spell over us and likely for the best seeing how strongly the man smelled of liquor.
So I laughed instead and dragged the mass in my arms back to the bar. I don't think he actually needed my assistance in sitting down but I played along when he asked and made note of the subtle brushes he left across my thigh and chest in doing so.
As soon as he was seated another glass was set before him.
I frowned up at my boss.
"I think he's had enough Zaz."
"Pretty blonde says his drinks be on tab. Tips too." He winked in a way that might have been friendly if I weren't instantly angry. He saw very well how imbalanced Charles was as I returned him to his spot and the last thing the man needed was more poison.
"Ah!" I snapped as I took the cup from the brunette's hand. "That's more than enough."
"Oh Erik, I only had one sip!" He exclaimed, stumbling a bit over a hiccup you could tell he'd hoped I hadn't noticed.
"I meant for the night."
I knew I was going soft because usually when dealing with an overly intoxicated patron, I called them a cab and sent them on their way.
I just rubbed circles into the base of his back and replaced his cup with water.
"You're so kind." Charles exclaimed, face flushed nearly the shade of his lips.
"You are the first person to say such a thing." It was true, I wasn't even sure if I'd done something remotely considered nice before. Then again I wasn't sure if even the Devil himself could act cruelly when being praised by those quivering little lips.
"When will I see you again?" Was his next question and I immediately thought back to chess game and dinner. Instead I took his hand and, using the sharpie in my apron pocket, I wrote my digits across his pale skin.
I took my time in memorizing the dip of each crevice.
"Whenever you want. If for some reason you can't get a hold of me, I'm here every weeknight."
Charles just smiled and nodded, looking somewhere between adorable and lavishing. It was plain to see that if I had to fall prey to love-at-first-sight, it only seemed appropriate that it be him.
When Raven eventually surfaced to drag her brother away, she didn't even notice him tuck a look over his shoulder followed by a small kiss blown my way.
I must have still been grinning because Azazel snorted at the sight of me.
"Disgusting." He grumbled before throwing the counter rag into my face.
I decided at that moment that I would not put down my phone until Charles called me.
I wish I could say that I awoke with anything other than a merciless hangover; groaning, moaning, hissing, and all other awful things included.
It could have been worse; at least I was in my own room and more importantly alone. There were numerous reasons why I wasn't a drinker and the fear of bedding a stranger was high up on that list.
Raven must have been an angel in disguise because beside my bed was a bottle of aspirin and a thermos of surprisingly warm coffee. I drank the liquid begrudgingly, being more of a tea person yet knowing when I've met my match.
Surely it would help with the awful throb at the base of my neck and the bottom of my throat.
I could not even begin to amuse how much I had to drink the night before yet with the status of my recovery I wasn't sure how I didn't submit to alcohol poisoning.
Then again perhaps I had; I couldn't even remember the name of the bar I had been dragged to much less anything else.
Maybe I should have just gone back to bed.
Before I could make such a decision I spotted a crisp note beneath where the pills had been, the pink gel ink guaranteeing that Raven had been looking out for me.
Do you remember anything from last night? Because there is something you certainly should! More specifically, someone.
I stopped reading for a moment to blink away the dryness in my eyes. The more I thought about it, the less I actually remembered from the night before, but I'm sure she was right; there was something I was forgetting.
Well, since you were drunker than fuck, I'm going to assume you don't remember anything. Here's a recap; I met someone! His name is Hank McCoy and I'm sure he is the one. He was just so shy and adorable, acting the wallflower until I spoke to him, then he was actually quite amiable! He is a man of money and has invited me on an extended vacation to the tropics.
I told you in the cab on the way home but you just kept giggling like a school girl with a crush. Seriously Charles? Aren't you like thirty or something?
I resented the implication, although I was only twenty-six, Raven often joked that I acted older than her.
So that's where I am right now. The tropics. Well, I likely will be by the time you actually read this. I love you, I'll be back sometime later, again, I love you.
Take care of yourself, Charles.
Raven was the Devil.
I was reaching for my phone despite the pain that shot through my whole body at leaping across the room so suddenly. I typed her number and waited, praying that her bell of a voice would pick up and say something sarcastic and endearing.
All I got was an answering machine.
"Raven, this is Charles, the baby brother you left behind. You can't just take off like this... I don't even know what happened last night! Call me back and let me know that you aren't dead. I love you."
Hanging up, I rubbed my forehead.
I remembered needing to work.
I remembered Raven insisting I accompany her out for the night...
I remembered the first two drinks she forced down my throat before we even headed out the door...
And that was the extent of it.
I shouldn't have been surprised; in my entire life I'd never had a good experience with alcohol, let alone ever come out of it with my memory intact.
Scrubbing my face with cool water seemed to be the most appropriate option at the time and yet it would lead to great distress on my part for a considerable time period. Upon looking in the mirror I noted a great smear of black across my cheek which had not before been there.
I looked down to the palm of my hand and grimaced.
All that remained were three faded digits and a smear where the rest had once been. It occurred to me that I'd lost a phone number likely acquired the previous night and I could not withhold the twinge of disappointment I felt at the loss.
Although I'm sure had I actually been able to recall whose phone number it was I may have mourned a bit more.
"Well that's just awful." I exclaimed aloud, marching to the kitchen to fetch a sticky note. I wrote down the three numbers that survived my morning ritual and stuck them to my fridge. I felt that it was the most respectful thing to do as opposed to disregarding the number entirely. Even had I the whole number what could I have done? Dialed it and explained calmly to whoever answered how they would have to restate their name and the circumstances under which we met?
At the same time, guilt consumed me that somewhere, someone was waiting for my call.
When I dialed for my sister again her phone was out of service.
The tropics... Perfect.
It took the entirety of the day for the last traces of pain to vanish, a day I spent ignoring my work, griping over my sister's swift departure, and playing a game of chess against myself.
Surprisingly, the chess game was the most distressing.
I was reluctant to admit that I spent the majority of my day waiting for Charles to call. As drunk as the man had been, I was positive that the interest between us was not one-sided. Had he not been so far from sober I might have asked for his number, though probably not for the best.
I would have been unable to contain myself from calling the moment I awoke.
Azazel had called it 'Smitten' with that leer he never lost. It was good to know we were on such close terms that he could say such a thing to my face.
Not to mention that I was (woefully) quick to accept my condition based on the intensity I found myself staring at my phone.
Each time it rang I leapt for it.
Each time it rang I was panged with disappointment at some familiar name.
Each time it rang I thought to myself that I hadn't many acquaintances and shouldn't be receiving so many calls that weren't Charles.
Two shots of whiskey later and the names still read along the lines of Emma, Shaw, Shaw, Shaw (Stop bloody calling me, I don't want to hear your rotten voice), Mom.
Needless to say I only answered the last.
When the day came to a close and the nightlife began at Azazel's, my phone rang a final time. In despair I glanced upon it to find an unknown number flashing across the screen.
I would not go so far as to say I answered in my most 'you-will-fall-madly-and-deeply-in-love-with-me' voice but the subtle difference was, well, not so subtle.
The telemarketer on the other end was likely emotionally scarred, mainly when I began to curse them to hell and slam the phone down onto the counter for no other reason than effect, since I had to go back and slide the 'end call' button on the screen after my fit.
I was not the sort to be needy.
This I had to remind myself each hour (on the hour) that no calls came in and Charles did not walk through the club door.
Trudging home late enough in the night to be early, the phone rang again.
It still wasn't Charles.
If Raven weren't such a strong-willed, independent (she'd never let you forget), and ambitious woman, I might have called the police.
Two days of not hearing from my chatter-mouthed sister could mean only that she either found the company of this Mr. McCoy to be more enjoyable than anything I could offer her or that she was dead.
I tried to think of anything but the latter.
The fourteenth time I called (I was keeping count, if for no other reason than to hold the number against her at a later date) I was in an ice cream parlor. Surrounded by small children and families, I knew what it felt like to be out of place. It was just that the solitude of an empty house was nerve-wracking and although I rarely socialized due to my work, I knew that my sister was only a shout down the hall away.
As night crept upon the window I finished a second cone, chastising myself for the complete disregard for my figure.
I rebutted with the knowledge that I had no one worth impressing.
The number on my hand had been in a man's writing style. It lacked the gentle curves and scribbles of a woman with romantic intention but instead possessed ferocity. The man that wrote on my palm wanted me to call him, each number had been so clear and unmistakable (that being the ones I hadn't ruined) so as to make sure I could identify each one properly.
I felt like an ass and had been feeling so for two entire days.
I just could not shake the feeling that there was something I desperately needed to remember.
"You've been here alone for quite some time."
A gentle voice noted, swerving me from my thoughts. The woman to speak was soft around the edges and sported the reddest hair I'd ever seen. It cascaded down her back in gentle curls and did wonders for her appearance.
In my dismay I felt no appreciation for the sight, only kept repeating the three numbers I had now memorized to myself.
"I am afraid the person I am waiting for has been held up. They should be here soon." I offered for excuse.
The woman let her green eyes soften a bit in resignation before she gave a final smile.
"Well I hope they aren't held up much longer."
"Have a lovely afternoon."
"You as well."
With her departure, I closed my eyes and tried desperately to recall the events of the night Raven left.
The night was warm with summer air, for which I was grateful. On the walk from my apartment to my work there was little to be had save for several family owned shops, still the walk was somehow pleasant when the weather was agreeable and I even went so far as to glance in windows and admire goods I'd never waste my money on.
I hated working on Fridays. The club was crowded with people relieving themselves of the week prior, each of which became a bit too friendly with me over the counter.
I knew it would serve all-to-much as a reminder of how Charles had acted the night we met.
As soon as the memory reared itself in my head I bumped into a woman as she exited an ice cream parlor.
"Pardon." She smiled in a friendly gesture, her florescent red hair a halo to her pale skin.
"I was distracted, my fault." I admitted, waving her off.
The walk to work was short but took far too long.
I spend one final night with an eye glued to the door, having long given up hope on receiving a phone call.
It was entirely possible that he somehow lost track of the number or misread it.
And if he had misread it and some stranger answered... it was possible that he assumed I gave him a false number and was beyond pissed at my existence.
If so, the least he could do is march in here to give me a piece of his mind and the opportunity to set things straight...
"You should cut losses; he's probably not really interested."
I stiffened under the sympathetic gaze of my boss and even more so at the hand he thumped against my shoulder.
"My sincerest condolences now get back to work."
Sourly, I served drinks, fought off flirtatious women, and tried to forget that I ever met a man named Charles.
I had no understanding of how I'd become so enamored.
As I traced the lines of weariness upon his face and let his talk of life become me, I felt madly stricken. As if being left alone in the man's presence were a catalyst metaphorically similar to a melted ice cap... my insides were flooding.
The gentleness with which he clutched my hand and traced delicately and determinedly a series of numbers seemed almost out of character for the rough exterior his posture implied.
His lips moved again and the words became indeterminable, I could only imagine what those lips must feel like against my own, my neck, my belly... And although I felt guilt-ridden for practically ignoring him as he spoke, I'm sure forgiveness was possible had he known how intimate my thoughts became.
I imagined that we could settle together in bed, bare chest to bare chest, and talk about the world that neither of us really cared about when together.
I giggled at the domesticity of it all, it must have been appropriate for the moment because he grinned back in a way that showed off so many sparkling teeth.
Upon wakening I managed my way to the fridge, staring at the sticky note on it and trying to remember what those other digits had been.
I had been staring as he wrote them.
The dream was like a trigger that set off an entire wave of distraught, now able to remember that I truly had something to mourn the loss of.
If only I could recall the name of the night club I had met him... the man with strikingly grey eyes. Perhaps the setting would trigger more memories, possibly even a name.
When I called Raven again I did not take the time to fret over her not answering.
Instead I chose to curse loudly and storm away from my phone out of spite.
While lying abandoned on my kitchen table, my phone rang, but I had not been there to answer it.
I hated the subway; when possible, I avoided it altogether.
Unfortunately, my errands forced my hand. People crowded in every direction and the common courtesy of personal space was abandoned at the top of the stairs.
I hated subways, nearly as much as I hated people.
My week thus far had been long-suffering and the thought of being crammed against a fit of strangers did little to comfort me.
My mood had been simmering since accepting the fact that Charles (just Charles, I hadn't even been graced with a last name) had better things to do with his time than skirt around with a bartender.
I should have thought nothing of him; after all, he was too kind to refuse a dance to anyone... words directly from his sister's mouth.
Just when I figured my mood could sink no deeper in the mud, did a shoulder catch mine rough enough to send my briefcase to the floor.
Caught between the urge to groan and to viciously murder each person that stepped on my papers, I submitted to the shame of kneeling down and gathering my belongings.
I hated the subway.
If I was to be honest, I really didn't prefer the subway as a means of travel. Unfortunately, it often was the only reasonable one in my frequent visits to colleagues who lived across the city. I made myself as small as physically possible and somehow was able to escape with minimal brushes, I'd come to the conclusion that the ones I did still receive were no accidents.
I'd spent the morning listening to the sound of Raven's voice in my messages, angry at myself for having missed her call.
Charles? I'm so sorry I haven't gotten in touch with you. Service is hard to come by out here. I'm fine, I'm alive, Hank is treating me very well. I think I could fall in love with him, Charles. I know you haven't given much thought to romance in a while but know that what I feel for him is very real. Maybe you should try to get back in the game? That guy at the club couldn't seem to keep his eyes off of you. Hopefully I'll hear from you soon, I love you, Charles Xavier. Don't starve.
I could put forth my exasperation into words. Despite all of her endearing confessions, all I could think about was the fact that it was likely Raven knew who the number on my hand belonged to. If I had only the chance to speak to her I could clear things up, even her words brought upon flashes of a man and I laughing together as he took my drink from my hand.
Far too late I'm afraid.
Pushing through the swarm of people, I frowned to see a man shoved harshly, knocking his briefcase to the floor and spilling it open.
In horror, I watched the culprit march away, grinning to himself as he thumbed a wallet. Frozen in place, unable to decide whether to chase the thief down or assist the man scrambling to save what could have been incredibly important documents, I missed my window and people filled the gaps before me.
The thief boarded a train and by the time I pushed my way to where the man had been, wanting to at least tell him what had happened, he was already gone.
I saw neither of their faces.
It took two days to have my credit cards all canceled, go in for a license renewal, and have my insurance company refund a substantial amount of money to my bank account.
If I had ever known spite towards the universe these last ten or so days proved that I knew nothing.
Walking down a grocery isle, I threw miscellaneous objects into my cart, grumbling about God not looking out for me even after having been circumcised for him.
The fact that I was a child and didn't remember a thing going purposely unmentioned.
A great many frozen dinners, cases of beer, and packets of gum later, I headed to check out, switching my grumbling from God to bachelorhood.
Thankfully, I did not put my full weight down on whatever it was I stepped on. Stopping, I picked it up and chuckled almost darkly at the sleek phone.
Someone must have dropped it.
Thinking back on how cruelly the universe juggled me around, I began to browse through it, excusing myself with the fact that its owner hadn't even bothered to program a password.
My impossible mood nearly lightened at the sight of the contacts, noting how each number was listed under a ridiculous nickname, I assumed nickname because only strippers and children would come up with such atrocities to refer to themselves (or others) as.
I was outright laughing at some point, a sight that must have been strange to any passerby. Whatever spoiled teenager owned the phone (spoiled because it was far nicer than even mine) had managed to lighten my impossible mood. If for nothing other than that, I felt inclined to return it.
Spending another moment or two rifling around, I afterwards brought it to a manager, hoping that the owner had enough sense to check the lost and found.
How could I?
Tip-toeing around, waiting for Raven to call again, and I'd managed to lose my phone.
Of all the stupid things.
I'd wasted away my time fretting over some man I met once, in a bar, while on enough alcohol to fuel a car. I hadn't even a guarantee that he was anything like I perceived him; perhaps I'd even been subject to the world's most bizarre set of beer-goggles, a set that made people have attractive personalities.
In all my dalliances to recall what had happened, I'd misplaced my phone, the single connection I had with the only person who had been consistent in my entire life.
I wasn't even sure if I had her number written down anywhere; I'd never considered it because it was already programmed into my phone.
I felt my pockets again, frowning at how I'd managed to not notice the lack of weight as I left the supermarket. I knew that it had to be there, I'd used it to text a few acquaintances just as I walked in.
Fishing through the aisles, I cursed myself for meandering so much while shopping, if I had been straight-forward I would not have so many areas to backtrack through.
I tried not to think about my work schedule, business meetings, and reference notes the phone contained.
I also tried not to scold myself for being so foolish as to not only lose the number from the mysterious man I hardly remembered, but to lose the numbers of every single contact I'd ever made.
I swore to myself that if I managed to find my phone I would copy every number down into an address book.
I'd have to buy an address book.
After searching recklessly to no avail, I stared piteously at the manager's office, hoping by some miracle my phone made its way into safe hands.
I doubted it. It wasn't even password protected.
"If you could excuse me."
When had my throat become dry?
"How could I help you, sir?" The manager was a stout man with a cheerful demeanor, making me feel even more foolish for bringing my troubles to him.
"I don't suppose someone found a phone?"
The man scratched at his stubble and gave an expression of suspicion, making my feet feel heavy.
"What kind of phone?"
Although I'd done nothing wrong, I still felt guilty. You heard about it all the time, people going to the 'lost and found' and asking for a general item that was bound to be there.
"Um, it has a custom blue case with my initials at the bottom." I tried, brushing my hair back and smiling weakly.
He just kept staring at me, waiting for something.
"My initials are CFX."
As if I'd said some sort of password, he was all smiles again.
You cannot imagine my satisfaction as he produced my (beloved) phone.
"A very nice man brought it in, you should consider yourself lucky. Not many would."
I nodded at his words of wisdom and smiled gratuitously.
"Yes, I am aware. Thank you very much, sir."
On my way out I rifled through my contacts, incredibly pleased that they had been returned to me. Before pocketing the phone, a note caught my eye that I hadn't recalled making.
It was just sitting on my main screen.
Opening it I could not stop from chortling out loud.
I stepped on your phone... then I looked through it. Sorry. - E.L
Without being able to placate my smile, I turned back on my heel and re-entered the store.
I bought an address book.
At some point, my small glances at my phone had lost hope. Coming to terms with the fact that I was going to be alone for the rest of my life, well, coming to terms with it for the second time was bitter tasting.
Azazel wasn't one to be sympathetic, but his casual pats on my shoulder and extra efforts to point out attractive men alone at the bar reminded me that we were considered friends.
Kindly, I declined his suggestions; even going so far as to work through my break.
As for socializing, I kept it to a minimal, listening to the complaints of the customers and nodding as if I actually cared.
"If you weren't cold before, friend, you are now." Azazel murmured over my shoulder, cleaning his hands.
"Love at first sight... This is very bad thing."
I couldn't agree more.
The next morning I found myself in a small bookstore I often visited.
Curled on a couch, I tried to read the first thing my hands had grabbed off the shelf.
I could not focus on a single word, only thinking about what I would say if I ever found Charles. My initial thought was along the lines of 'Thanks dick for never calling me' or 'What did I do wrong? I can fix myself, I love you!' but that one I'd never admit.
I flipped the pages every so often, accepting the fact that the one I'd been on had no condolences to offer and maybe the next would be different.
After an hour or so of this madness, my head jerked up at the sound of the door's bell, a form turning just out of sight.
I browsed around a small, used book store for most of the morning. It was musty and quaint but the atmosphere soothing. Small couches lined the back wall where the only other customer sat with his face buried in a book. In an attempt to be courteous, I stayed well out of his way, hoping to not interrupt the intensity of his reading through my fumbling.
Even with most of his face lost to the angle he sat in, I noted a very strong jaw line set into a grimace.
What could he have possibly been reading to rile himself up in such a way?
Deciding it to be better if I didn't bother with such a silly question, I nodded to the clerk and walked out, the bell chiming behind me.
That night I bounced around a few bars, ordering water at each one. They were all relatively local and each seemed the same as the one before it. By the time I walked into the fourth one, I'd already steeled myself for disappointment.
"So why are you here if you won't be drinking anything?" The bartender, a small Hispanic woman with long black hair and a nametag that read 'Angel', asked.
"I'm looking for someone." I confessed, settling my elbow on the bar and my chin in my hand.
"Well, be more specific. What do they look like?" I smiled at her interest and the way her eyes flickered across the bar behind me.
"He's about six feet, big, grey eyes, a strong jaw line and an absolutely wonderful smile."
Angel laughed and raised an eyebrow, the accusation bringing a blush to my face.
"Honey, we are all looking for that guy."
I went ahead and ordered a shot.
It had been two weeks to the day since Raven left.
A sad acceptance settled over me that I had lost the person I couldn't remember, and chose to mope over it my visiting the local pond.
From the flickers of sunset across the rippling water, until darkness had shrouded everything in the cloudy night, I stared and pouted as a child might.
All I wanted was to remember.
I left work not halfway through my shift. Azazel's had been virtually empty, as it usually was in the middle of the week, and so the big man himself ushered me out, claiming I needed a night off.
Not accustomed to having free time during the week, I took the long route home, to one side of me the city twinkled and to the other the local park rustled softly. I could not keep away from the glittering pond, dancing in the soft light of a single overhead lamp.
It did little to light the area, the moon hidden behind a blanket of pale clouds.
I walked up to the water and leaned against the railing, wondering where all the ducks had wandered off to or if there were even supposed to be ducks in this particular pond.
I was not alone.
Across the way was the silhouette of a man similar to myself, weight supported by the railing and head dipped to presumably watch the water.
In the darkness I saw nothing of his features.
Twenty minutes passed without movement from either of us, he must have pondered life's misfortunes the way I thought about Charles, acceptance settling in that it was time to give up and move on.
With that acceptance I turned around, looking back to the city, the clouds parted. I would go home and forget about Charles...
"Lovely night, isn't it?"
My shoulders stiffened at the voice drifting from across the pond.
Turning abruptly, I saw the face that the clouds had kept to themselves.
He was smiling and offering a friendly wave the way one might to a stranger, but there was no mistaking that it was him.
The expression on his face grew shocked when I leapt over the guardrail and into the pond. The water went no higher than my waist as I trudged through it, seething and cursing to myself and trying to figure out which malicious, hateful comment I would spew first when I got to him.
As startled as the man was, he did not run (thankfully, I would have chased him across town had I needed to). At the halfway point I stumbled on something and submersed myself to my neck in the dark water.
After regaining my footing and lifting my chest up to the breezy night, his voice rang out again with a huff.
Then he was leaping the fence as well, slipping into the water and heading my way.
"Sir, are you alright?" He called.
It was laughable, I could have been making my way forward to kill him yet he approached to offer assistance without hesitation.
That and the way his water-soaked clothes clung to him took my breath (and ability to speak) away. Any sarcastic or angry denunciations I'd been planning froze in my throat as those large, cerulean eyes were once again trained on me.
They were wide with recognition.
"Erik?" The whisper was shattering amongst the chaos, the water stilling around us as he came to be not a foot in front of me. Looking down into the softness of his expression, all anger fled and my shoulders sagged in defeat.
How could I channel any hatred to this man?
"Why didn't you call?" I croaked, throat suddenly bone-dry (ironic seeing as how I was soaked everywhere else).
He didn't answer for a moment, just reached two hands up to run across the features of my face. The touch traveled down across my neck until those hands settled upon my chest.
He could probably feel the way I held my breath.
"I knew there was something I was forgetting."
I opened my mouth to ask but never got the words out. Charles in all his sweet, well-mannered glory had taken the parting of my lips as an invitation to slip his own against them.
I couldn't be bothered by it, not even as our drenched bodies pressed together tightly and the weight of him against my love-weakened knees took us both down into the water.
He just wrapped his arms around my neck tightly as I settled my own against the small of his waist, surfacing for air from the water but not from each other.
Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that he had a lot of explaining to do.
It could wait.
I ignored the death glare Erik was sending Raven as she straightened my tie. I kissed her on the cheek and let the man grumble to himself in the long-suffering way he tended to be.
"Try not to be cruel to my sister on her wedding day." I chastised, knowing that the blonde's chortles would only fuel any flames between them.
"I have yet to forgive her for those awful days we don't talk about." The man griped, adjusting his sleeves and trying to appear angrier than I knew him to be.
My lovely sister only rolled her eyes at our antics.
"I'm sorry for making you go two whole weeks without the company of my brother." She drawled sarcastically, adjusting her hair in the mirror.
"Damn right you're sorry." Erik huffed, giving me reason to laugh and take his arm in mine. I settled my nose in the crook of his neck and placed a gentle kiss upon his skin. I don't know how I would last through the reception with how sharp and edible the man looked in a suit.
"I didn't know you wouldn't be over it nine months later." She griped, earning herself a slight shove toward the door from yours truly.
"Don't you have to get married or something?" I teased.
Raven nodded and gave me a final squeeze before sticking her tongue out at Erik. When she was finally gone Erik turned to me with the same serious expression he always had.
"She's not invited to our wedding."
I smiled at the way those two had slipped into a natural sibling relationship, spite and murderous intent included.
"Is that a proposal?" I teased, raising an eyebrow while tracing a finger along his collar.
The man leaned closely in, letting the small breaths from his mouth warm the corner of my lips. Heart racing, palms clammy, Erik Lensherr knew exactly which of my buttons to press to get his way.
I'd almost forgotten my question by the time he answered, my eyes fluttering shut at the intensity of his proximity.
"I don't know, I can't remember."
The seductive moment grew tender with peals of laughter.
"You ass!" I exclaimed, thumping my palm against his chest in false contempt.
"Charles! You'd better not be late to my ceremony because of that shark!" Raven's voice echoed from beyond the door.
The ripples of Erik's skin were only matched by the flutters in my stomach.
"Not invited." He murmured beneath his breath.
"Oh hush, darling."
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this little story, please review!