Erik checks the peephole once he reaches the door. He sighs deeply, unhooks the chain, and swings the door open to reveal Moira standing in the hallway.
“MacTaggart,” he says.
“Lehnsherr,” she replies. They stand in silence, staring at each other down, until finally Moira quirks an eyebrow at him. “Aren’t you going to let me in?”
“Yes, he is,” Charles says from within their apartment. He wanders over to them and tugs Erik out of the way. “He’s just sore at you because the marks on his leg from Hank biting him haven’t faded yet.”
“I thought you told him not to take Hank’s teething rings away,” says Moira as she walks inside and shuts the door behind her.
“I did!” Charles tells her. “He’s mad that you called out in the first place.”
Moira punches Erik in the arm. “My uncle died, you jerk!” She shoves her coat and hat into his hands, glares at him as Charles beckons her into the living room.
“I don’t think I believe you,” Erik shouts to them. “How do I know you actually had an uncle? I want to see his death certificate.”
“Ignore him,” he hears Charles tell her. “He’s not normally this cranky.”
“Oh, please,” Moira replies, “he’s always cranky.”
They laugh. Erik hangs Moira’s coat up and retreats into the kitchen, summons his laptop from their bedroom so he can get some work done while the two of them gossip about the daycare for the foreseeable future.
And you want to eavesdrop on us, love, don’t forget that part, Charles sends him. I know you were worried about Ororo’s rash, and you’ll be happy to know she’s all better now.
Erik is definitely not eavesdropping and most assuredly is not concerned about some rug rat’s rash.
Of course not, dearest.
Shut up, Charles, Erik thinks.
Erik quickly loses himself in circuit components and semiconductor wafers, only stopping every once in a while to see where Moira and Charles are in their conversation. He’s been tinkering with the plans for fully conductive bodysuits, the implication being that eventually such a suit could be used for muscle therapy in cases of paralysis, and the details have to be just so in order to...
A soft kiss lands on his forehead. He grunts in response.
“We’re ordering food,” he hears Charles say. “Any preference between Thai and Korean?”
“Thai,” says Erik. He looks up from his laptop screen to find Charles staring down at him, a ridiculous smile across his face. “What? Do I have drool running down my face again? Key marks?”
“No,” replies Charles. “I just love you a lot, that’s all.”
He turns around and walks back into the living room to find the menu for their favorite Thai place, explaining to Moira what’s good and what’s not. Erik is left in the kitchen, alone and feeling like the world has never been brighter or more beautiful.
Moira and Charles join him in the kitchen when the food arrives a half hour later. Erik dutifully sends his computer away when Charles asks but makes Moira clear a chair off for herself. “Don’t just shove your coat at me next time,” he tells her when she glares at him. “Maybe if you used some manners once in a while, I’d be more willing to help.”
“Manners?” she scoffs. “Lehnsherr, you wouldn’t know manners if they came up and smacked you across the face.”
“False. I know plenty of manners.”
“You just choose not to use them. I see.”
Charles sets a stack of plates down on the table between them with more force than necessary. “I’ve been looking into possible new locations for the daycare,” he declares, “and I might have found one or two that are worth looking into, at the very least. Neither are very far from where we are right now, so the parents wouldn’t need to change their routines too much, I’d think.”
Moira sits down and punches Erik’s leg under the table. “We should go look at them soon, then,” she says, wincing when Erik retaliates by kicking her shin.
“Oh, I already did. Also, stop it.”
“What?” Erik frowns. “When did you do this?”
Charles waves a hand at him and hands a white carton over to Moira. “Last week,” he says. “You were working late one night, and I was bored.”
“So you went and looked at real estate.”
“We all have our hobbies.”
Moira passes the carton to Erik. “Coconut rice,” she tells him. “And I suppose, Charles, you’ve already decided which building you’re going with?”
“I would never dream of making such a unilateral decision,” Charles says. “I wanted to wait until both of you had had a chance to see them.”
Erik stops spooning rice onto his plate and stares at Charles. “‘Both’?” he asks. “Where do I factor into this?”
Charles frowns at him. “You don’t care?”
“It’s your daycare, Charles,” Erik says. He passes the rice off to Charles and reaches for a container of yellow curry and chicken. “I don’t particularly think it’s any business of mine what you do with it.”
A moment later, Moira steals the extra veggie roll out from under Erik’s nose, and it’s game on going forward. Charles goes to bed shortly after she leaves and is fast asleep by the time Erik joins him. Erik re-immerses himself in his bodysuit plans the next day, and by Wednesday has mostly forgotten Charles’ intentions to move the daycare elsewhere.
Charles forgets to bring his lunch along with him to work often enough that Erik is unsurprised to get a phone call from him later that week.
“It’s on the counter,” Charles tells him.
“I know,” replies Erik as he shuts and locks the door behind him. “I saw it there this morning as you were leaving.”
“And you didn’t remind me?”
“What, I can’t give myself an excuse to come visit you at work sometimes?”
Charles snorts at him over the phone and hangs up. Erik frowns at the elevator doors. Odd, he thinks. Charles is usually all over mundane expressions of affection. Did I do something wrong?
He arrives twenty minutes later to find the daycare in a slight uproar. Little Alex has, from what Erik’s cursory glance around the playroom informs him, blasted the head off of Jean’s baby doll and is currently running around in circles with the headless body. Jean, of course, is screaming and flinging blocks at him telekinetically while she struggles in Moira’s arms.
“Is this a bad time?” Erik asks. Moira glares at him.
“Here,” she says, thrusting the little girl into Erik’s arms, “take her. Give me that.” She grabs Charles’ lunch bag from his hand.
“Uh, where are the other children?”
“Charles has them outside,” Moira explains. “Nap time has to wait until we can move all of the boxes out of that room and into Charles’ office, but then this happened, and, well.”
Jean is staring at him. Erik swallows nervously, and then she wraps her little arms around his neck and says, “Mr. Charles is sad because of something you said.”
Erik blinks. “I - what?”
“Jean,” Moira says, “you know you’re supposed to be practicing not reading other people’s thoughts.”
“But he’s sad,” Jean protests. “Mr. Lehnsherr said he didn’t care about what Mr. Charles did with the daycare, and it hurt Mr. Charles. But I don’t think you meant it, right?”
Oh, Erik thinks.
Charles walks in with a gaggle of children behind him just then. He’s pulling twigs out of Ororo’s hair (god knows how they got stuck in there), and when he finally looks up and sees Erik standing there, he frowns. “Where’s my lunch?” he asks.
“You’re an idiot,” Erik replies gleefully. “It’s not me this time.”
“Mr. Lehnsherr, you shouldn’t call people names,” Jean says.
“Quite right,” he says. “But Mr. Charles has been rather silly, yes?”
She giggles, and the rest of the children, though most of them know fewer than five words between them, follow suit. Even Moira cracks a smile. Charles, on the other hand, does not look at all amused.
“Can we speak in my office, please?” he asks.
Erik looks at Jean, who nods very seriously. “Very well,” Erik replies. “Miss Grey, it has been a pleasure, as always.” He sets her down on the floor and wanders after Charles.
Once inside Charles’ office, Erik shuts the door behind him and steps into Charles’ personal space.
“And what,” Charles grumbles, “do you think you’re doing?”
“You’re a telepath,” explains Erik.
“I don’t read your thoughts without permission,” says Charles. “That would be rude and invasive.”
Charles sighs and leans his forehead against Erik’s shoulder. “You said you didn’t care.”
“I said it wasn’t any of my business, and it’s not. That doesn’t mean I don’t care.”
“And how am I supposed to know the difference?”
Erik plants a kiss on his jaw. “You could - I don’t know - ask if I’d help move those boxes from the nap room and into here.”
“When you first said it, I meant, how was I supposed to know?” Charles clarifies.
“Again, I don’t know, ask me, perhaps?” Erik nudges Charles’ head until he’s standing straight again. “I know I’m not the perfect model of a good communicator -” Charles coughs suddenly, a cough that sounds suspiciously like “engineer!” Erik ignores him. “- but you can’t just assume things like that.”
Charles falls silent for a beat of time. “Well,” he says, “it’s true that you didn’t complain once when Sean tinkled on you. Twice.”
“If that’s not caring, Charles.”
Charles hums in agreement. “Very well,” he says. “Erik, will you help me move the boxes into here?”
“What, right now? I’m supposed to be working,” Erik says. “I only came by to bring your lunch.”
Charles wraps his arms around Erik’s neck and smiles. Erik lets out a sigh. “Fine,” he says. “But when this portion of the suit isn’t finished on deadline -”
“Your team will think the world is ending,” Charles finishes. “You can tell them a horde of babies distracted you.”
“Why would the babies be distracting me?” Erik asks.
“I thought,” Erik grinds out, “that you wanted me to move the boxes.”
“But the children missed you!” Charles says. “And look, Hank didn’t even bite you this time.”
“Alex had a temper tantrum and nearly took my hand off.”
Charles grabs Erik’s hand and kisses the palm. “All better now, yes?” he asks.
“I don’t know, Charles, I’m not a three-year-old. That doesn’t work on me.”