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Title: Brief Lives (22/25)
Author: monstrousreg
Word count:  3155
Warnings:  Sean and Alex talking. That's a warning, trust me.
Pairing: Erik/Charles.
Summary: Erik thinks he's going to seduce, interrogate and murder some nondescript CIA intelligence agent, and winds up biting more than he can chew. Charles is not keen on being murdered, he doesn't favor interrogations, and he's certainly not willing to be seduced. That he's not cooperating is midly put.   
Notes:  Unbetaed, and stuff.  Ehh, lots of indulgence in this chapter, I must admit. Just, fluff. Oh, and anachronisms again, because Star Trek, but what is that you're saying? Timelines? I laugh in the face of your timelines!

It must be the alarm crashing through Erik that alerts Charles, because the bond bursts open and Charles’ mind invades his own, calm but sharp.

A moment later, Oh. A chuckle. We’ll be there in a moment, love.

Erik pushes his hair back, tense and uncomfortable.

“Well,” Scott starts, unsure. The student body turns to him, en-masse. “You guys all know the Prof and Mr. Lehnsherr are, um, close.”

“Yeah, alright,” Sean says. “But how close? Like, playing-chess close, like buddies, or sleeping-together close?”  

“Sleeping together?” a little girl asks, with a frown. “Like how?”

“I’ll tell you in a decade,” Alex retorts. “You really want to go over this right here right now, Cassidy?”

“Isn’t there like, an ethical code about coworkers sleeping together in this school? There’s one about students sleeping together. I’m just saying, fair is fair, kind of thing.”

The first little girl straightened, “Who’s sleeping together? They’re both boys.”

“Look, you shut up, okay, kid? This is fucked-up--”

“Language,” Moira points out, but she looks as lost by the conversation as Erik feels.

“They’re talking about two dudes shacking up together and you’re correcting language?” Logan asks incredulously. “Ever heard of priorities?”

“Shacking up, dudes, what? What the hell is going on here? What?

The noise is steadily rising. Erik feels the urge to slink into a corner and attempt to blend into the shadows, but that seems less likely the more the children turn to stare at him. At the back against the wall, Nicky turns to frown as Sofia, who leans down to listen to him and shake her head quietly.

Logan brings his fingers to his mouth and a loud, piercing whistle sound freezes everyone.

“Now let’s all calm down, kiddies,” he says loudly. “You got questions, start asking ‘em, but ask him, not your friends. You all don’t know a thing. He’s the one that knows.”

Erik feels like someone’s just thrown him under a bus.

Thirteen year-old Pietro turns to him, spots Nicholas and Sofia by the door and straightens, narrowing his eyes. “Who the hell are you, anyway? Never seen you around.”

“Never seen you around either,” Nicholas says, blinking. “I was invited here.”

“Oh yeah, and who invited you? I live here.”

“And I’m a guest,” Nicholas is getting heated. Clearly he has a temper, nothing like his father’s calm serenity. Things can get out of hand very easily, and Erik can see how badly it can go and how quickly. He knows there’ll be hell to pay if he lets Michael’s son get in a brawl with one of the students, and Pietro’s moods are as volatile as nitroglycerin.

Nicholas frowns, “Where are your manners, kid?”

“Nicholas,” Sofia says sharply, tugging at the boy’s shirt. “You watch your manners, young man.”

“He’s the one giving me lip,” Nicholas replies, tone switching immediately to polite when he turns to his father’s wife. “I ain’t gonna stand by and let him walk over me, ma’am.”

“I can walk over you a hundred times,” Pietro snarls. “I’m thousands of times faster, normal.”

“But I’ve got tougher fists,” Nicholas spits, feathers thoroughly ruffled.  

The door opens, and Charles stands in the doorway, gaze thunderous.

Enough,” he says, narrowing his blue eyes. Silence falls over the ballroom with the speed of a flying bullet. “Pietro, Nicholas, apologize to each other. I won’t have anyone being disrespectful in this school—student or guest.”

Pietro glares mutinously, but Nicholas ducks his head. Passionate as his temper is, he’s got no problem with authority.

“I’m sorry, sir. I meant no disrespect, but I ain’t going to be treated badly, either. Pietro, I apologize. We good?”

Quisksilver looks unconvinced, but Bobby shoves his shoulder, and the white-haired boy shrugs.

“Sure, yeah. We’re good. Sorry I called you, you know. Yeah.”

“You called me normal,” Nicholas says, shrugging off Sofia’s restraining hand. “You said it once, no point avoiding it now.”

Pietro scowls, “Sorry I called you normal.” He blinks, hesitates a moment. “And, thanks for not… insulting me back.”

“It wasn’t the word was insulting,” Nicky says. “Was the tone. But we’re good.”

“We are,” Erik says darkly. “And I won’t hear any more of this ‘normal’ business. Tolerance goes both ways, children—as does discrimination. I would know,” he adds in a quiet mumble, rubbing the bridge of his nose.

Charles steps fully into the ballroom, followed by Raven, who looks as irritated as Erik is.

“Now,” Charles starts, strolling calmly to the front and motioning for Erik to scoot over so he can take a seat at his side. Erik’s seldom been as hyperaware of the body warmth Charles emits, pressed tightly to his side in the small bench. “I’ll explain this very briefly, and if some of you are concerned after I do, I ask that you speak with me in private as this is a private matter.”

A long silence.

“Sean,” Charles says, leaning forward and lacing his fingers, the picture of professorish interest. “I can tell you are concerned. Would you care to tell me what bothers you?”

“I’m just—“ Sean shrugs, uncertain. “It’s weird, alright? I mean, not that you’re both guys, okay, that’s weird, but I’m fine with that. But, just—I mean, you’re nothing like each other.”

“I’m more bothered about how you hid it,” Alex cuts in. “What’s that all about? How long have you two been like this?”

“Obviously since that week,” Kitty pipes up, rolling her eyes. “You know, that week where they stayed here, alone, Alex?”

“This is like watching a train-wreck as it happens,” Logan comments idly to Moira, vaguely amused and not at all concerned. “Fun in a pathetic, and therefore amusing, sort of way.”

“Oh, big word there tiger, don’t choke on all those syllables,” Scott mutters.

Logan elbows him in the middle of the chest. Cyclops doubles over, coughing.

“Boys,” Charles calls out, arching a brow. “If it’s not too much to ask, I could do with some adults. I want everyone under the age of sixteen in their classes in the next five minutes and no—that is not open to negotiation. Off to change, all of you.”

“But professor,” one of the boys protests. “We barely had any sleep!”

Charles rubs his forehead slowly, “You can nap in the afternoon, I’ll compromise on that. Now, really, change and go to class. This is a school, if you’ll remember.”

The teachers take that as their cue and start shepherding children out of the ballroom. The remaining students, all over the age of sixteen, make a total of twenty-four.

Ororo comes forward to the front and frowns at Erik. He long white hair is tied back in two long braids that start at the top of her head and wind their way down. Erik thinks he remembers Ororo telling him that Moira did them for her sometimes, just like her mother used to.

“Sorry, kid,” Erik says, wrapping his long fingers around her wrist. “No special treatment. You go on to class, and we’ll talk later if you want to.”

Ororo looks displeased, but she nods her head and obeys. At the door, Nicholas is helping the teachers organize the smaller kids, with an air of easy authority that absolutely does not belong to a fourteen year old boy. When Ororo comes closer, he gives her a warm smile and gestures her to go ahead of him. Erik arches a brow and looks at Charles.

I don’t like this.

Charles grins stupidly, I can’t wait to see you try to scare him off. That boy’s got more balls than grown men I’ve met. Besides, I can tell our little Ororo likes him—I’m curious as to how you’ll get away with scaring him without getting a hiding from her.

I’ve escaped worse fates, Erik thinks haughtily.

None of those men knew where you slept and had you wrapped around their little fingers.

I am not, Erik scowled, wrapped around her fingers!

Charles gives him a knowing look, Keep telling yourself that, eventually it might stop being hilarious.

“Could I maybe interrupt the telepathic conversation for a minute?” Logan says, unimpressed. “I mean, it’s cute and all, but hello.”

“Logan, why are you still here?” Erik asks.

“That’s what I keep wondering,” Scott comments, and for his troubles gets an elbow to the kidney.

“I’m over sixteen, pup,” Logan says nonchalantly, fishing a cigar out of his pocket. Erik wrenches the lighter from his fingers, bringing it to himself where it circles, like a satellite, around Charles.

“No smoking in front of the children,” Erik says blandly. Logan flips him off, and stomps on Scott’s foot, probably only because he can. Scott releases a string of obscenities that make even Erik arch his eyebrows, and he can curse in seven languages, so that’s something.

“That’s it, both of you be quiet or I’ll shut down your speech centers. Logan, don’t think I won’t disconnect your entire arm—it’s been a trying morning.”

“So, as fun as seeing my brother get it is,” Alex pipes up. “could we maybe, I don’t know, focus? On how you two are sleeping together?”

“I don’t see how this is any of your business,” Erik retorts, standing up and striding over to lean against the piano. Being on his feet gives him several advantages, not the least of which is that his height allows him to dominate the congregation of teenagers. “What Charles and I do in our free time is relevant to you in no way.”

“Except that it’s illegal,” Alex points out. “And if the two of you go to jail, then what the hell happens to this school?”

“No one is going to jail,” Charles says blandly. “I’m a telepath. Why would I allow anyone to go to prison? I’ve committed crimes before, as all of you know perfectly well, and I’ve never been caught. Neither has Erik, who I daresay has as much experience in illegal incursions as myself. Even then, that would imply that we have somehow been caught—which would be unlikely, as that would necessitate me to allow someone to reach the conclusion that Erik and I are involved. Which I am not willing to do, and will not suffer it happening on accident. If that is your concert, rest assured, it will not happen.”

“But, isn’t it, like, weird? You’re both… guys. How does that even… work?” Sean gestures vaguely.

Erik arches a brow, “The technicalities are nothing short of fascinating, but I am confident that you’re not asking me to describe positions.”

Sean cringes. “Could you maybe not be creepy for ten minutes?”

“Probably not,” Bobby grins. “It’s like a secondary mutation.”

“Primary, I’d say,” Alex grins.

Sean snaps his fingers, “Like, bending metal is just an asset to be even creepier, and then he gets to smile like a shark cause that helps, obviously—“

“You know, I bet if he and Kitty started going out it’d be, like, because it can’t get any creepier than the two of them, creeping into your room and like skulking around—“

“Rustling things up—“

“Lovely as this stream of consciousness is,” Charles interrupts. “And I am certain it is worth pursuing, I would appreciate it if we could, as Mr. Summers said minutes ago, indeed focus.”

“Seriously,” Kitty says, unenthusiastic. “Because he’s old enough to be my dad, so the idea of dating him, yeah, no.”

“I’m twenty-nine,” Erik grinds out. “I couldn’t be your father unless I got your mother pregnant when I was thirteen.”

“I bet you were precocious,” Logan gives him a shit-eating grin.

“Well, not all of us can be old enough to be impotent,” Erik snaps.

“Ain’t ever gonna happen, bub,” Logan says mildly, or as mildly as he can pull off, which isn’t much. “I regenerate, see?”

“I’ll add that to the list I didn’t need to know about Logan,” Sean whines. “Infinite fertility.”

“He could repopulate the world or something,” Rogue snickers.

“With gruff, sour, surly offspring,” Bobby laughs. “That’d be fun.”

“They don’t seem traumatized to me,” Erik shrugs when Charles turns to look at him.

Sean snaps to attention, “Well, I mean, all I want to know is why all of a sudden you have telepathy, Magneto.”

Erik stills. Charles turns back to his students, who have all fallen quiet.

“Erik’s done me a kindness,” he says firmly. “As you all know, a few months ago I was unable to have any kind of contact with anyone. This was a side effect of… things that have happened to me in the past.  It was progressively getting worse, and would have eventually ended—badly.”

“I think we all sort of know how it would have ended,” Scott says quietly.

Charles winces, “Right, yes. Erik’s got a talent for clear projection, unfortunately. But as I was saying, he did me a kindness by allowing me to anchor myself in his mind, through a telepathic link. The link, when fully fleshed and healthy, would allow us to have access to each other’s gifts, in limited amounts. But as you are aware, my gift was not working properly, and by a strange turn of events it was working through Erik. That’s why he could project, Sean.”

“And no,” Erik cuts in when Sean opens his mouth again. “With the long-range telepathy restored to Charles, he’s working on shielding me and I won’t be able to use telepathy again, except in emergencies. We’ve discussed it. I’m a metal-bender, and nothing more.”

“So…. You two are, what… bonded, like Vulcan bond in Star Trek?” Sean asks, incredulous. “You’re what, soul-mates and stuff?”

“Star Trek?” Alex stares at him. “Seriously? I thought Beast was the obligatory nerd in the group.”

“And as we know, you’re the obligatory jock,” Hank returns, without fire. “Professor, might I ask you to let me explore this, scientifically? It’s entirely fascinating. Obviously, with Magneto’s permission.”

Erik shakes his head, “I don’t like laboratories, McCoy. This private. No tests. Just leave it alone.”

Charles nods, “I’m with Erik. I’m sorry, Hank. Maybe in the future, once we’re more settled. There’s much we don’t know, yet, ourselves. What you need to know is that Erik and I are linked, we are in constant communication, and—well. We’re—“ he trails off, slightly off-balance.
“Together,” Erik finishes for him. “We’re together, for good, for better or for worse.”

“So long as neither of you chickens out,” Sean shrugs. “Because I already went through one divorce, okay?”

“And don’t like, have sex anywhere visible,” Alex adds.

Alex,” Charles hisses.

“Raven already gave you hell about that, didn’t she, Prof?” Kitty grins.

“Yes,” Charles rubs his forehead. “Yes she did. Very much so. Now if you would all…”

He gestures with his hands. Scott pushes away from the wall and snaps his fingers, “Up, all of you, change and then class. Now, okay, I’m getting old standing here, Jesus, pick up the pace—Alex, I’ll cut that finger off, I swear.”

“And do what with it, shove it—“

“Don’t you fucking finish that sentence, Wolverine, or I’ll use you for target practice.”

As they start filing out of the ballroom, Charles gets to his feet and comes to stand in front of Erik, tucking his hands in his pockets.

“I’m sorry you were left with all the damage control,” he says with a sad smile.

“You should be,” Erik says intently, but relents a moment later, when he sees the lines of fatigue in Charles’ face. He reaches out to swipe the pad of his thumb down Charles’ cheekbone, and smiles when the man leans readily into the touch. “How’s your sister?”

Charles closes his eyes, “Angry and sad. She says she suspected that’s what I intended, and that she meant to warn you, if only she’s had more time. She thought you might be able to steer me off course.”

“Hm,” Erik hums, pulling Charles in closer to himself and massaging the back of his neck. “What about Shaw? Has she talked about that at all?”

Charles slumps against him, his body a long line of weariness and frustration.

“No. She won’t tell me anything, and she’s been dodging Mikey, and let me tell you—that is quite remarkable, because the man is, as you know, a hound.”

Erik smiles, “That he is.”

Charles hums in pleasure as Erik digs his fingertips into the nape of his neck, massaging out the tension. Erik ducks his head to kiss Charles, and makes a noise of pleasure when Charles opens his mouth and licks into Erik’s, straightening a little to get a better angle.

Erik reaches with his power and slides the door shut, locking it.

Charles smiles against his lips, “I’m sorry, darling. I have a class in ten minutes, and so do you.”

“I can do a lot in ten minutes,” Erik murmurs, biting slightly at Charles’ neck. Charles squirms, hands coming up to clench in Erik’s
sweater.

“I haven’t known you to last less than twenty in the worst circumstances,” he laughs, shaking his head. “Besides, I can tell you want to mark me, and it can’t be anywhere visible, Erik. Tonight, I promise.”

Erik sighs, dropping his head to Charles shoulder. Charles cards his fingers soothingly through his hair.

“You’re going to be the end of me, Xavier,” Erik mumbles against the wool of the telepath’s cardigan.

Charles laughs, “Doubtlessly.”

Erik straightens, moving back a little to look Charles in the eye.

“It’s never going to be easy, is it?” he asks quietly, thinking of the CIA, and of those that had sworn allegiance to Shaw and managed to escape, knowing perfectly well that it had been Erik and Charles that had brought on the demise of their leader.  People that are plotting evil against them for revenge, people who want to exert violence on the students in this school who rushed to their rescue as soon as Charles’ distress call reached them.

He thinks of Ororo and her little braids, of Kitty thinking of her father this morning while she helped spread foam over Erik’s jaw, of the easy familiarity and tendency to rant of Alex Summers and Sean Cassidy, of the grudging friendship between Logan and Scott Summers and the slowly building confidence of Rogue.

Life was so much easier when he didn’t give a shit about anyone.

“No,” Charles agrees, combing his hairs tenderly through Erik’s hair. “No one ever said it would be.”

“Still,” Erik says contemplatively. “In the interests of complete honesty—I would do it again, a hundred times over, Charles.”

Charles’ smile is blinding.

Chapter 23
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