Charles and Erik meet in a bookstore.
Or, rather, Erik trips over him in the children’s section of a bookstore - Erik breaks his nose on the side of a shelf, and Charles gets a firm knee to his head (no concussion, just - ow). Erik just sort of lies there waiting for the agony to end, and then there’s the guy he probably gave brain damage to leaning over him trying to staunch the blood with his sweater.
“You’re going to ruin that,” Erik says (tries to say - it comes out all garbled). The guy just sort of smiles at him, a dazed look in his eyes. Definitely damaged him, Erik thinks. Fuck.
“It’ll be fine,” is the response. “I shouldn’t have been sitting where I was, this is totally my fault. We, uh, we should probably take you to a hospital, right?”
“Probably,” Erik agrees, and then promptly passes out.
The possibly-brain-damaged-guy, Erik discovers later, is Charles Xavier. He is 24, a telepath, and runs a daycare for baby and toddler mutants. Charles tells him all of this while he’s holding Erik’s hand as the doctor sets his nose. Erik insists he doesn’t have to, but then the painkillers start making him nauseous, and it’s a little embarrassing but the hand-holding is actually a little comforting. A little. And Charles is definitely not that attractive. Especially not when his cheeks and ears pink up and - oh, shit, he’s a telepath.
“Um,” Charles says. “Coffee? Sometime?”
“Urgh,” replies Erik. Charles smiles.
“Not today, of course, but - tomorrow?”
Erik is a little floaty right now, but he does his best to nod. He thinks for a moment. “You’d better write all of this down,” he tells Charles. “I’m going to forget, and then I’ll be very angry because I missed out on a date with you.”
Charles obliges him, and the very next day they meet up at the same bookstore for coffee.
And then the day after that, they have lunch.
The day after that, they have dinner, and Erik kisses Charles afterward, but he’s forced to cut the kiss short.
“Nose?” Charles says breathlessly.
“Oh god,” Erik says.
It takes almost a full two weeks after that for Erik’s nose to stop feeling so goddamn tender. He and Charles go out to a movie, and they spend the entire time making out in the back of the theater, and it’s glorious. Charles even invites him back to his apartment after and makes him breakfast the next morning.
(Though the breakfast, once they get to it, is charred. Charles tries to give Erik disapproving looks, but it’s hard to be cross with someone who just gave you a mind-blowing orgasm.)
Erik’s lease ends six months later. Charles bullies him into just moving in with him, rather than signing something new. He’s a bit wary of doing so, to be honest. Charles’ apartment tends to get decorated (covered is more like it) with macaroni art, plaster molds of tiny feet and hands, and stick figures crayoned onto colorful construction paper, not to mention the myriad little plush toys that invariably get stuck in Charles’ bag and never return to the daycare center.
“Don’t the children miss those?” Erik asks after stepping on something crinkly and shiny for the fifth time in ten minutes.
“We keep multiples of everything on hand. The ones I bring home are generally not fit for the little ones anymore.”
“Fantastic,” Erik says. “I’m so glad I get to step all over them.”
Charles beams at him. Erik rolls his eyes.
Charles comes home two weeks after they move in together and drops face first onto the couch. He says something to Erik, but it’s completely muffled by the fabric.
“What was that?”
He repeats himself, and that too is muffled. Erik sighs, lifts Charles by the metal in his belt buckle and watch, and floats him over to sit in his lap. Charles looks up at him blearily. “I’m beat,” he says. “I am going to need to sleep forever.”
Erik raises an eyebrow at him. “You spend your days playing with babies and toddlers, Charles. What, did their crawling and babbling zap the strength from you?”
“Have you ever watched a child?” Charles demands. “Oh, why am I asking, of course you haven’t, otherwise you wouldn’t be saying that to me.”
“Please,” Erik says. “They’re tiny. What could they possibly get up to?”
Charles glares at him. “One day,” he says, “you are going to know. And I will laugh at you.”
“Doubtful,” replies Erik.
And then of course Moira, Charles’ co-teacher, calls out early one morning because there’s been a death in the family. Erik is vaguely sorry for her loss - mostly, though, he’s annoyed that Charles’ phone rang so early in the morning on the first day of Erik’s vacation.
“Erik, get up.”
“I need your help,” Charles says, poking him in the stomach. “I can’t handle the children all on my own, and all you’re going to do today is nothing. Now get up and make yourself useful.”
It is a testament to Erik’s love for Charles that he does as he’s told, though the promise of the largest coffee money can buy also helps speed the process along. He’s feeling a little less grumpy by the time they arrive at the daycare center. Charles gives him a quick kiss on the nose. “Listen,” he says, “if Sean starts having a tantrum, there are ear protectors stashed everywhere.”
“Supersonic screech. And don’t be alarmed if one of the girls looks different every time you turn around, Raven likes to try and confuse us from time to time. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t take Hank’s teething rings away from him.”
“Charles,” Erik says, tone of voice slightly condescending. “They’re little. I’ll be fine.”
“Of course you will be,” grumbles Charles. “Tell me that again later tonight, yeah?”
Fifteen minutes after the children arrive, Erik starts panicking a bit. Not all of the children are present today, Charles informs him, but there are five small mutants running and crawling and climbing everywhere.
“Wait, there are usually more?” Erik asks.
“Yes,” says Charles, smiling down indulgently at Alex, who seems to be using a teddy bear as target practice for his plasma beams. Erik feels the first stirrings of wariness. “It’s a pity that Jean and Ororo aren’t here today - I think you’d like them especially.”
Erik highly doubts that but doesn’t say as much out loud. “Alright,” he says, “what’s first? Coloring, blocks, what?”
Charles places his fingers on his temple; Erik immediately regrets asking. A moment later, all five children perk up and start making their way over to Erik. “Now,” declares Charles, “it’s playtime.”
Four hours later, Charles summons the little ones over to their lunch table. They are, however, reluctant to leave their new toy - Hank has latched on to Erik’s left leg and Alex his right while Sean and Angel flit around his head, giggling and dodging out of the way of his only free limb. Raven is the only one who waddles her way over to Charles obediently, raising her arms the whole way so he’ll know to pick her up for a pre-lunch cuddle.
“Children,” he admonishes, “let Mr. Lehnsherr go and come eat.”
“Charles,” Erik says just as Angel has latched her arms around his neck. “I believe I have something to admit to you.”
“Not now, Erik. You’ll have ample opportunity to tell me how wrong you were when we get home tonight. Oh, would you mind changing Sean? He hasn’t quite mastered the potty yet.”
“Oh dear god no,” Erik says.
In the dark of the bedroom, Erik lifts his head from where it had been resting on Charles’ chest.
“You win,” he says.
Charles smirks. “Moira’s out tomorrow, too, love.”