"My name is Charles Xavier. You can call me Professor Xavier or Professor for short. Your duties include preparing breakfast and dinner for me, collect data for my researches, provide me with information that I may need, make sure I don't miss an appointment if I have any and... keep me company." The last words were uttered with a certain dose of embarrassment, bordering on irritation. The android nodded to indicate he understood. Charles clapped his hands together in a nervous gesture. "Right. I'll call you... umm, what shall I call you..."
"The factory calls my model David-8 ." The android replied in a calm, melodic voice. "You can call me David, or you can rename me any time you choose."
Charles shook his head, eyeing the android head to toe. "I don't see you as a David. You look more like an Erik to me."
The android tilted his head. "Shall I save the name Erik as my new name?”
Professor Xavier looked at him for another long moment and then nodded. "Yes."
Owner's name: Professor Xavier. Saved.
My Name: Erik. Saved.
Duties: preparing breakfast and dinner, collecting data, providing needed information, following appointments, keep the Professor company. Saved.
Charles opened his eyes to find the android by his side, standing by the foot of Charles’ bed with a tray of breakfast in one hand.
“How long have you been standing there?” he asked, yawning and sitting up.
“Exactly 2 minutes and 23 seconds.” The android replied.
“Right.” Charles said, disinterested. “When I said ‘make me breakfast’ I didn’t mean you had to stand there watching me sleep.”
“I apologize. Did I disturb your rest?” the android tilted his head, looking at Charles with curiosity.
Charles rolled his eyes at himself, cursing his own stupidity. Erik was a machine. He could not be curious. Whatever human-like traits he’d presented were programmed this way and were all in Charles’ head. In which case it didn’t matter if Erik had been standing in Charles’ bedroom, waiting for him to wake up. Like a pet. Like a dog. Even less than a dog for a dog was alive whereas Erik wasn’t. That’s what he wanted, wasn’t it? To be alone without feeling alone. Charles wanted the company but it had to be less than a human and more than a pet. Something he could talk to without feeling like a crazy person but also something without a mind. Minds were so loud. Minds were exhausting. They also posed danger and triggered old issues within his own head.
Android, was the answer. And Charles would soon get used to the more peculiar aspects of having someone around most of the time.
“No, Erik, you didn’t disturb me at all." the professor replied. "We’ll get used to this and establish our own routine soon enough.” he said, tapping his lap with his hands, looking at Erik expectantly.
Erik glanced down at Charles’ lap, then up at Charles’ face again and after a brief moment he walked to the bed, set the tray down on the nightstand and then settled himself on Charles’ lap, straddling him.
Charles blinked, his jaw slacking in surprise. “What are you doing?” he asked, eyebrows raised in astonishment, voice pitching higher than usual in an embarrassing almost shriek.
“You tapped your knees with your hands - a gesture that usually signifies that a human wants another human and/or a pet to sit in their lap.”
Charles inhaled deeply and then loudly let out the breath. “No, I didn’t mean it like that. Context. You see, Erik, context is very important when it comes to human interaction.”
Erik blinked even though Charles knew well that he didn’t really need to. Must be another setting to make him look more life-like.
“So you don’t want me to sit in your lap?” The android asked.
Charles shook his head, amusement slowly creeping inside him. “I don’t, no. I meant for you to give me my breakfast tray.”
“Oh. I understand.” The android said, getting up from Charles again and placing the tray on Charles’ thighs instead. “Shall I save this gesture with its new meaning?”
“Yes. No. I-- I don’t know.” Charles said, exasperated. “Does it matter?”
“It does if you want me to not confuse your gestures again.” the android replied.
“Save it in that case.” Charles waved him off and began eating his breakfast. “Mmm! It’s delicious! You’re a great cook, Erik.”
“Thank you, Professor. I did a research of your eating habits and downloaded all recipes of your favorite meals and foods. I can prepare for you anything you like.”
If Charles didn’t know any better, he would’ve thought he detected something akin to pride in the android’s voice. All in his head of course. Erik was fake. Not real.
“That’s very thoughtful of you, Erik. Well done.” he said nevertheless. No need to be rude to Erik just because he was not a real person.
The android remained silent, waiting for Charles’ orders no doubt. Charles sighed. He did want the company but Erik was behaving like an equipment. A talking equipment but an equipment nevertheless. You can’t be mad at him for it. It’s what he is. And it's the closest you're ever gonna get to having someone by your side. His brain supplied and Charles went on eating in silence.
Charles had many hiding places in this huge mansion. Broomstick closets, secluded corners, forgotten staircases, little spaces between massive furniture, chutes, the library -- oh, the library! So much room for hiding there! -- all those little secrets about a house that only kids knew so well. But unlike most other kids Charles spent the majority of his childhood curled up in his hiding places. In fact, he was terrified of coming out of them. The mere thought made him tremble with fear. He had actual panic attacks whenever he was away from the familiar space and out in the mansion, surrounded by… well, his stepfather and his stepbrother, mostly.
Charles’ hideouts were his kingdom. The only person who knew some -- mind you not all! -- of Charles’ hiding places was Raven, of course. His sister Raven was his best friend at the time but even she hadn’t been privy to all of his hideouts.
Tonight Charles was curled up in one of those hiding places -- specifically, the one under the staircase to the staff dining room. No one ever looked for him there. He was safe and everything was mostly quiet here. The servants only came down there to eat dinner and that wasn’t until much later, they were busy with their work so no one ever saw him entering. He was hidden here. He was safe and sound and hidden.
Or so he thought.
He heard footsteps and felt each and every hair on his body stand up. His heart was beating faster than it ever did before, he could hardly breathe, the air wasn’t enough, the walls were about to squash him. He was shaking and panicking and very soon he would also be discovered as well, he just knew it! Kurt or Cain would know he was hiding and punish him. He was silently gasping for air, desperate to breathe and completely unable to. His head was spinning.
And then the door, the small door of the little cabinet under the staircase, opened and light came in, blinding Charles, causing him to squint his eyes.
It was a familiar voice but it was definitely not the voice Charles was expecting to hear. This voice, this title, they did not belong here, they were not from Charles’ childhood. Charles wasn’t a child anymore. Charles was a grownup and Kurt and Cain were no longer a part of his life, both of them gone now. Kurt dead and Cain… well, Cain would not be a problem anymore….
And yet Charles was still shaking, and sweating, confused, and having troubles breathing.
“Professor, you’re experiencing a panic attack, you should not be here.” the voice continued as two strong hands pulled Charles out of the little closet as if he were light as a feather. Charles let the person manhandle him the way he wanted -- it somehow felt safe to just follow the instructions of that calm, pleasant and confident voice. “Breathe in, breathe out. In and out. With me, come on. Breathe. Breathe.” Charles did just that, closing his eyes again -- his vision was too blurred at the moment for him to make out his surroundings anyway. That same person was lifting Charles’ arms up above his head, shaking them slightly then letting them fall and rubbing Charles’ shoulders. “Breathe in. Breathe out.”
Charles’ heartbeat was slowing down to normal, his breathing coming in more regular. He felt hands on his face, long gentle fingers tenderly circling at Charles’ temples, relieving the tension there as if knowing that Charles’ head was playing tricks on him.
“You can open your eyes now.” The voice said. The hands left Charles’ face. Charles almost missed that touch.
He opened one eye first and then the second as well. Then he let out a huff of breath.
“Erik.” he said. Well, of course it was Erik! What was Charles expecting?
“You’re back.” Erik replied. “I’m glad.”
Charles frowned only slightly. “Back?”
“You appeared to be miles away in your head.” Erik explained. “It was putting you in a shock.”
“Oh. That. ” Charles ran his still slightly trembling fingers through his damp hair. “I wasn’t miles away, I was years away. I-- I sometimes have these episodes-- nightmares-- and they appear so real…”
“You were asleep and you came down all the way to this broom cupboard under these stairs--”
Charles nodded. “Sometimes that happens too.” he interjected.
It wasn’t happening as often as before anymore -- luckily! -- but it still happened every now and then. Charles’ memories would come back to him so strong and powerful at night in the form of nightmares that for a while he was a child again, frightened, bullied, abused and helpless. And in such moments when his mind was so convincing his body would go on instinct, a very old instinct, and hide. Hide in these places that used to be his sanctuary in those troubled years.
“Do you need anything?” the android offered.
Charles rubbed the bridge of his nose. “No.” he said but when Erik didn’t go away, he added. “Maybe stay with me tonight?”
The android nodded. “I will stay with you tonight.” he said determinedly.
Charles has never fallen back asleep after an episode as strong as this one. But when Erik accompanied him to his bedroom, tucked him in as if he were a little boy, then sat down on the edge of the bed next to him, stroking Charles’ hair with these long delicate fingers, Charles felt the tension disappearing, replaced by calmness and serenity. He drifted to sleep without even realizing it.
Charles was very wrong if he thought Erik would let last night’s incident slide that easily. The next morning the android was right there in Charles’ bedroom with a breakfast tray and a ton of questions. Well, maybe not a ton but one question that weighed a ton for Charles. The professor was far from keen on having this talk but Erik, it would seem, had conducted a little research of his own and was eager to discuss it with Charles.
"Situations like the one from last night appear to be a normal occurrence for telepaths.” Erik explained to him. “Only it usually happens under too much stress, during severe illness or to individuals who haven't learned how to control their powers yet. Teenagers, mostly, people who had recently manifested. When did you manifest?"
“Long ago, Erik.” Charles replied, rubbing at his temples, exasperated.
The android frowned. “That leaves us with stress or illness then.” he said. "Were you stressed, professor?"
How does one even reply to that? Charles sighed, running his fingers through his unruly hair.
"Not particularly, no.”
“Are you ill? No health issues were registered when I last scanned you--”
“I’m not ill, Erik.” Charles interrupted him. “I just-- sometimes that happens to me, okay? It's nothing for you to worry about."
Charles dared not glance up at erik at that moment. He was not certain if he'd like the look on the android's face. Apparently an android judging him had such strong effects on Charles, which was insane to even consider but true nevertheless.
"Have you learned to control your mutation, Professor?" Erik finally asked.
His voice was gentle, tentative, as if he were afraid not to wound Charles, or break him with his words. It was ridiculous. It enraged Charles to feel the way he felt.
“I live in solitude, Erik. What do I need to learn control for? I don’t even use my mutation here.”
Erik frowned a little. “Correct me if I’m wrong but I suspect you live in solitude because you haven’t learned to control your--”
“Well, you’re wrong.” Charles cut him off and when Erik attempted a reply the professor raised his hand to stop him. “An occasional nightmare is normal for me.” he continued firmly. “Even if they do seem so real to me, even if my brain does trick me like this every now and then. It happens. It’s not the apocalypse. You need not fear, worry or research it in any way. Even if I--” he frowned and cleared his throat before speaking again. “Even if I can’t control it well, my mutation is not dangerous to you. You have no mind, no thoughts, nothing for me to destroy or damage. We’re both safe here.”
“I never thought you would endanger or damage me, Professor.” was Erik’s reply to this little speech.
Charles swallowed. “Thank you for that.” he said and hoped they would never need to have this conversation ever again.
The good thing about having an android around was that he did all those tasks Charles hated doing -- or simply forgot to do -- instead of Charles without the need of a servant and without Charles feeling uncomfortable for making someone else do things for him. Things like food and reminding him to eat or taking care of the household for him, clean up stuff, etc. But recently, Charles noticed, Erik was doing other things for him too; things Charles hadn’t asked of him but Erik was still doing nevertheless. It was Erik’s own initiative to bring Charles tea every afternoon. Or to bring him sweets every now and then while Charles was working, after Charles once mentioned that he did have a sweet tooth as a kid. These things, little things, things like tucking Charles in whenever Charles fell asleep without a blanket, made Charles feel like Erik truly cared. He knew, of course, that this wasn’t true but it was still a nice human-like care that warmed Charles’ heart.
Charles was replying to Raven’s messages when Erik walked in with Charles’ tea on a tray at what had now turned into their usual tea time. Charles glanced up at him, cast a brief smile in the android’s direction and continued typing.
“Put it on the desk here, Erik, I’ll pour it myself.” Charles said and that was about all the thoughts he spared for his android at the moment.
Raven was asking her usual questions -- Is Charles okay? How is Charles doing there all on his own? Was he lonely? Did he need her to come over? , etcetera. To all of these Charles gave his standard replies -- I’m okay. I love being on my own. I’m alone but I’m not lonely. You don’t need to come over, I’m fine. What else was he supposed to say? He was never truly comfortable around other minds, people never liked it that he was a telepath and always felt on edge around him. He was self-conscious and anxious not to accidentally hurt them. It was not a nice experience for Charles to be around others people or other mutants. As an omega level telepath he could hardly contain or control his mutation, it was stronger than him, it was like a force of nature that he was too weak to handle. Spending his youth suppressing his mutation did not aid things at all. Maybe there would have been some small chance of learning to control that power had he practiced as a child and a teenager. But Kurt never allowed that and Charles was too scared to fight for it, and now it was too late for any of it anyway. Everyone were better off without him and he was better off on his own. With only Erik by his side -- Erik, whom he could not hurt simply because Erik had no mind for Charles to access or be overwhelmed by. It was brilliant.
But explaining all of that to Raven would take too long. And it would either upset her or she would not understand him. He wanted neither of these. She knew why he chose this life. She should make peace with it just like Charles had.
He stretched his arms, feeling his back hurting from the uncomfortable position and bad posture. His neck was stiff too, it was annoying. Charles still had his letter to finish.
“You seem to be experiencing pain, Professor.” Erik said.
Charles almost jumped startled. He had thought Erik left the room once he brought the tea. That was his usual routine in these cases. But there he was, quiet as a mouse, blue-green eyes fixed on Charles, tentatively tilting his head to the side and waiting for Charles’ reply.
“I rather am, yes.” Charles grimaced, rubbing his back with one hand. “Care to bring me some painkillers?”
“I have a better suggestion.” Erik replied, approaching him. “I have downloaded all the necessary information and I possess the skills to give massages when necessary. I believe I can help with your back pain.”
“Are you suggesting you give me a massage, Erik?” Charles asked, looking at him with slight amusement.
“That is what I was suggesting.” the android replied.
“Umm, alright... I guess.” Charles furrowed his brow, a little uncertain. “What am I supposed to do?”
“Just take off your shirt and lie down. I’ll take care of the rest.” Erik explained.
Charles chuckled and got up from his chair. “Sounds perfect to me.” He said, doing what Erik told him to.
Charles had never been given a massage by an android before. Come to think of it his experience with massages was limited to Raven experimenting on his back once in 7th grade. What she did to him back then resembled more martial art techniques than a massage. Long story short, it was an experience they both preferred not to speak of ever again. Charles wasn’t sure what to expect this time and if it would even feel good to be touched like that by a machine. But the moment Erik’s hands pressed at his shoulders, Charles melted into that touch. It was just right. The right amount of pressure placed to just the right points of Charles’ back.
The android’s hands were soft and human-like, even warm. He must have warmed them up in advance, Charles realized, that body temperature simulator system makes everything feel so real and genuine. It was perfect and Charles wanted to just sink in this feeling and enjoy it thoroughly. Which he did. He closed his eyes, giving in completely to Erik’s ministrations, letting Erik do what he pleased, trusting the android knew what he was doing.
At one point, from a distance, Charles heard someone moan repeatedly. The moans sounded intense and filled with pleasure, growing louder by the second. It took Charles a very long moment to realize it was him doing the moaning. There were also a few other things he came to realize his body was doing as a response to Erik’s massage. Charles froze, biting his lower lip, willing himself to calm down .
The android’s hands stilled for a moment. Charles swallowed nervously and remained silent and a bit embarrassed. Then he reminded himself once again that Erik wasn’t a real person so it didn’t matter how much Charles embarrassed himself in front of him. Somehow that didn’t make much difference to the state Charles was currently in.
"The readings I have of your body suggest that you are currently aroused." Erik informed him casually in his usual calm manner. His hands lifted up from Charles’ back and he took a step away, giving Charles space to get up if he so wished.
"What can I say, I enjoy a massage?" Charles shrugged with a little awkward smile as he got up and stretched a little.
"I am programmed to perform sexual functions as well. I can take care of that."
Charles choked on air.
"Umm, no need for that, thank you." he said quickly. There was after all a limit to not being embarrassed in front of an android.
Erik, however, seemed to not understand those limits, by the looks of it, for he continued talking about it.
"Suppressing your sexual desires could have a negative effect on your health, both mentally and physically." the android said in the same casual fashion as if he were commenting on the weather.
Charles felt his cheeks going red and hot as they haven’t done in years!
"You're a robot, Erik." He said with an exasperated sigh.
"I assure you my penis was crafted with great care to be the perfect--"
“... and give the optimal satisfaction and ultimate--”
No, this had to stop! Charles was not ready for such a conversation.
"That's enough discussions on your penis, Erik. Can we move on from the topic now?"
"If you prefer manual or oral stimulation, that is within my abilities as well."
Being offered a hand job or filatio by an android felt like a new low. Charles sighed. "You don't quit, do you?"
"My purpose is to keep you satisfied, Professor."
“I am perfectly satisfied with the massage, thank you very much for that.” Charles assured.
“You say that but you’re still aroused.”
“Oh?” Charles bit back, letting his frustration show. “And how can you tell? By scanning my brain chemistry and diagnosing my dilated pupils or speeding heartbeat and/or breathing?”
“No.” Erik replied simply. “Your penis is erected.”
Silence. Charles glanced down and yes, evidently his penis was indeed erected. Very much so, on top of that. But he would rather take care of that himself, than use a freaking robot to do it for him!
“I don’t require the sexual function. You can delete that from your hard drive, if you like.” Charles said seriously.
“I could deactivate it. Are you quite certain that you won’t--”
“I’m quite certain. Thanks for the massage.”
This said, Charles quickly grabbed his shirt and cardigan and hurried through the door.
Working was an essential part of Charles’ life. He spent most of his time in his laboratory, conducting his experiments and researches. Science was his escape when he was a teenager. It slowly became his sole companion over his years as a young adult. Now, at the age of 31, Charles was one of the most respected scientists and yet he hardly ever showed up in society. His papers and thesis met more people than he had personally. Charles found that ironically amusing. Working secluded, isolated and only sending his discoveries by mail or the internet was an arrangement he approved of, though.
Once again he was in his lab when he heard Erik knocking on the door.
“It’s dinner time, Professor.” the android said, showing his head inside. Erik never entered the lab without Charles’ explicit request or consent. He knew it was Charles’ special and private place and he was only allowed if Charles had asked him for information or to bring him food or books or drinks. And to remind him it was dinner time. Erik was careful not to let Charles starve to death. It was sweet.
“Be right there!” Charles called out.
Approximately two hours later he remembered he was supposed to ‘be right there’ for dinner. The food was probably cold by now. Charles didn’t mind. In the years before Erik was delivered to the mansion Charles occasionally went by days without eating. A cold dinner was better than none.
“I know it’s been two hours but I’m here now.” Charles started explaining when he entered the room -- of course Erik was familiar with Charles’ absentmindedness by now but Charles still felt bad about it -- but then gaped at what he sight in front of him. “Erik! You-- you kept it like that for me?”
Charles’ dinner was cozily waiting for him on the dinner table and Erik had been keeping it warm by sharing his own heat thanks to the temperature adjustments on his hands like a human/robot stove. When Charles entered Erik stopped heating the meal and got up from the chair.
“It’s all ready for you, Professor.” he said as if constantly warming up food for Charles was nothing at all. Charles could only imagine how much Erik’s systems would overheat by that unnatural to him effort.
“Erik, you didn’t need to… I mean, I could’ve eaten it cold or heat it up again or…”
“I know you. You’d never have the patience to wait for it to heat up again. You would’ve eaten it cold. It’s no good cold.” Erik insisted. “Now, eat.”
Charles dared not protest any longer. Feeling a little guilty for taking so long and causing Erik distress, Charles sat down on the chair the android had prepared for him and tried the food.
“Mmm, it’s really good, Erik!” he said, only partly to be polite and mostly because the food really was delicious.
“It’s a special improvement to your usual recipe.” Erik explained, pulling up the files to show Charles.
“Well done, it’s really good. Can you, um… I mean, can you taste? Would it do something for you?”
“I cannot feel taste.” Erik replied. “But if you request it, you could order a special application to be added to my system so that I could.”
“We could think about it.” Charles nodded, chewing.
“If a customer prefers his android to be more life-like…”
“This isn’t about me, Erik, it’s about you.” Charles said, because it really was. “If you think you’d like to… I mean, if you’re curious to know what taste is, we can add that to your systems. It’s up to you.”
The android’s eyes went wide. Charles felt foolish -- he was actually telling an android to do as he pleased, to make decisions for himself as if he were an actual individual. He must be losing his mind!
“Forget it.” Charles waved it off quickly.
“I would like to know what taste feels like.” Erik said at the same time.
Charles stopped mid-motion to glance at Erik. “You sure? You really mean that?”
“You--” Charles said, leaning in curiously. “-- you’re curious about taste and feelings?”
“I understand the concept of both, I am knowledgeable of the theory. Even if I do not feel those things. If there is a chance for me to feel them, if you would not mind it if I upgrade my censors like that, I would think of it as a privilege.”
“Hmm.” Charles never thought of taste as a privilege. It seemed to be one of those vital things one only appreciates when they’re gone. Erik could never taste so Erik valued the ability to taste so much more than Charles or anyone else would. And yet taste it was such a vital thing. Charles couldn’t imagine living without taste. Although he realized there were people in the world who have lost the sense of taste. It wasn’t a strictly android thing. He felt silly. Erik was right. It was a privilege indeed.
Charles swallowed, tilting his head a little and smiling at Erik.
“Alright then. Upgrade yourself as you please. I give you permission to quench your curiosity as much as you want.”
“Is this for real? Are you sure…?”
“Yes, yes. Absolutely sure. Whatever you’re curious about.”
Erik beamed at him and Charles could’ve sworn the android's blue-green eyes were sparkling. “Thank you, Professor!”
“It’s nothing.” Charles chuckled, amused and went on eating with a new appreciation for his taste buds.
Charles was getting dressed. The early morning sunlight was lighting up the room, giving it a feeling of spring and sunshine. But the cheerfulness of the weather hardly affected Charles. His face was stern when he inspected himself in the mirror.
“I have to go to town.” he told Erik who was standing nearby, holding his coat, his back straight as an arrow, chin up - picture perfect soldier, Charles couldn’t help thinking. He sighed. “It might take a while. I want you to take care of the mansion while I’m gone.”
“Wouldn’t you prefer it if I came with you?” the android suggested.
Would Charles need his personal fake human with him while he had to meet with a bunch of stiff windbags who already think him weird? No, thank you.
“No, thank you.” he replied out loud. “I’ll be fine.” he shoved one arm in the sleeve of his coat and Erik helped him put it on instantly. “Don’t wait up.”
Erik did wait up. Erik worried. The Professor was gone the whole day without a word -- he could’ve at least called to let Erik know he arrived safe and sound to his destination -- and Erik couldn’t help but wondering why did the man suddenly break his usual pattern of behavior to disappear like this. Erik knew the Professor for two months now but he was certain that Professor Charles Xavier was a creature of habit who basically never went out of his house unless it was for a few strolls around the gardens. To suddenly march off to town was an anomaly for sure. It had to be.
Erik replayed in his mind the strange expression on the Professor’s face as he was getting ready, then when he left. The tension in the shoulders, the stiffness of his back, the quick jerky awkward movements of his hands, the pursed lips… What could all that mean? Erik wished he could help but he had insufficient information to draw conclusions as to what would please the Professor in a situation like that. He was useless in this case and that was overwhelming his systems. He had to cool down so he turned off his superficial body-temperature simulator. That only helped a little bit.
Erik went to the front door, scanning the area for a car approaching. Nothing. Nothing at all. The Professor did not warn Erik when he’d be back. What was Erik supposed to do if the Professor did not return?
Two days later, the android’s concern grew into full-fledged worry. The Professor who hardly ever left home, the Professor who basically spent his time in his room, his lab or the library, was gone for two days and Erik had no orders whom to call and what to do. He had no idea where the Professor had gone -- Erik knew ‘to town’ could mean many different things -- so he couldn’t just go there looking for him. He searched for information online but there was none. No Charles Xavier was registered in any hospitals, police stations, mortuaries, hotels, nothing. Erik knew because Erik checked them all. The Professor was gone. And Erik was alone.
He spent the two days looking after the mansion as he had promised to the Professor and when he was done with his duties, he would sit by the front door, outside, waiting for a sign of the Professor’s return.
“Don’t wait up.”
“Don’t wait up.”
“Don’t wait up.”
It sounded like an order but Erik refused to follow it. At the time he had not even registered that he was ignoring a direct order. He waited like a loyal dog by the front porch, waiting and waiting and waiting for his Professor.