Tonight Charles lingered a little too long in the kitchen while he was debating which bottle of wine to take to Erik while they played their game of chess. This gave Raven ample time to intercept him.
“So, Charles, what are you up to?”
Her tone made Charles suspicious at once. It was the sweet one she used whenever she wanted something.
“I'm about to meet Erik for chess.”
“Again? Is that all you two do whenever you get a moment of free time?”
“No, we do other things,” Charles said evasively.
“But not with the rest of us. We don't really get to see you guys unless we're training or eating.”
This was true, and Charles felt a little guilty about it. He could become easily absorbed in Erik's company and forget about everyone else; not because he cared about them any less, but because he found it difficult to concentrate on anything other than Erik when they ended up alone together. “What did you have in mind?”
Raven smiled in triumph. “Game night!”
Charles groaned. “Game night” with Raven often became more complicated than it needed to be, which was why it didn't happen very often – it had recently only occurred when he and Raven were back home during school holidays. This was an offshoot of their childhood when they mostly had only each other for company, since two player games could only be interesting for so long unless they went off on different tangents. “Which one?”
“We'll decide that with the others.”
Raven dragged him into the other room, where the others, sans Erik, were already waiting. There were a number of different boardgames stacked on the coffee table, dug out from whatever nook Raven usually kept them in.
“Do you want me to go get Erik, too?” Raven asked.
Charles sighed. “No, I'll call him,” he said, lifting his fingers to his temple and finding Erik's familiar presence in the study. Erik, I'm in the sitting room. Come save me, please?
Despite the wariness Erik radiated when he saw that Moira and the children were with Charles, he entered the room anyway. “What's going on here?” he asked without preamble.
“Good, now we're all here and we can start.”
“It's game night,” Charles said, since Raven hadn't really offered much of an explanation. It's best if we go with it now; it will only become a bigger issue later.
Erik frowned at Charles. “I'm out,” he said, turning to go.
“No, Erik, you have to play,” Raven said, getting up and walking over to him. “Like I was saying to Charles, we need to spend more time together as a group.”
“Isn't training enough?” Erik asked.
“No. Which is why I found all of these for us,” Raven said, gesturing to the games.
Erik folded his arms across his chest. “I don't play boardgames.”
“You don't, or you just haven't played one before?”
“Then all the more reason why you're joining us now.”
Erik gave Raven, then Charles, a halfhearted glare. Charles shrugged helplessly. It could be fun. Erik didn't say anything further and instead took a seat in one of the arm chairs that had been arranged around the table.
“All right, as you can see we have many options. Now we just need to pick one,” Raven said.
“Not Scrabble. No one ever accepts the words I use,” Sean said.
Alex leaned forward and started to look through the ones that were available. “Not this one. I'm never sorry.”
“We could play Risk –” Hank started to say, but both Charles and Moira interrupted him with a resounding “no”. This earned them an amused look from Raven and a curious one from Erik. Charles directed toward Erik: Trust me, it isn't worth it.
Alex continued reading the sides of the boxes for the game names. “I don't know what it is, but I'm not playing a game called Perquackey.”
“It's like Yahtzee with letters, which I also don't want to play,” Moira said.
“Clue won't be fun with the three of you –” Raven began, looking at Charles, Erik, and Moira, “– unless you're all willing to get very in-character.” That was a fair assessment, considering he was a telepath, Erik had hunted several people down around the world, and Moira was an intelligence agent. Then again, Erik and Moira might end up being hilariously bad at it for all they knew, since real life competency didn't necessarily translate into game play. But Charles didn't want to get into character for Professor Plum who he would probably be inevitably stuck with, so he kept the observation to himself.
“You can play without us,” Erik suggested.
“Not happening,” Raven said. “So, by process of elimination, I think our best choice is the Game of Life. Which covers exactly what it sounds like,” Raven added, since Erik was giving her another doubting look.
“You're serious,” Erik said flatly.
“Yes. Help me clear the table so I can set it up.”
Hank and Sean helped clear the table so Raven could setup the game board while Alex observed. Charles still had the bottle of Cabernet he had selected earlier, so Moira went to get a cork screw, and wine glasses for herself, Erik, and Charles. This all didn't take very long, and even though Erik was thinking really loudly at Charles to give him an escape route, Charles had to admit he was starting to warm up to the whole group relaxation time.
Moira returned, and Charles opened the wine and poured glasses for the three of them. Erik was eying the board now that it had been arranged. “There are six cars and seven of us. I'm electing myself to not participate,” he said, rising from his seat after taking his glass.
“It's all right, I'll be the rule keeper and banker. Make sure the rest of you stay in line,” Moira volunteered.
“I could do that better than you,” Erik said.
Moira rolled her eyes. “You just said you've never played anything before. You don't know what the rules even are.”
Erik scowled at Moira, because he knew she had a point, and sat back down.
I'll make it up to you later, Charles promised, and sent along a few images. Erik turned a heated glare on Charles, but didn't react visibly other than that; when he finally pulled his gaze from Erik, Charles still caught Moira smirking at him around her wine glass before she took a drink. He quirked a brow at her, as though he didn't have any idea what she might be going on about.
“Eye contact and body language,” Moira said, seemingly abruptly to everyone but Charles.
Feeling the beginnings of a blush, Charles said with new-found enthusiasm, “So, I guess we should get started. Moira, if you could go over the rules just so we're all on the same page...”
“Awesome! I found the circus elephant,” Sean said as he placed his red car on that space.
Alex snorted. “If you get Hank to join you, you'll have quite the start for a show.”
“Like you're any better. You try to hula-hoop and there's a chance you'll kill half the people in the room,” Raven said, quick to defend Hank before he could take offense to Alex's words.
“I have better control than that.”
Raven smirked. “Now you do, thanks to Hank.”
Alex rolled his eyes. “Whatever.”
“Don't worry, you can all be in my circus,” Sean said magnanimously.
Of the six of them, Charles and Hank chose the academic route while everyone else jumped straight to business. This put him a bit behind when he spun the wheel and got a one, which let him collect five hundred dollars for his thesis. He spun the same on his next turn and subsequently had to pay five hundred dollars towards a gambling loss.
“This is an accurate representation of your Oxford years so far,” Raven said cheerfully.
“I definitely won more than that for my thesis while I was there,” Charles said. He couldn't dispute the rest after some poor decisions he had made regarding several football matches while he was down at the pub.
Hank ended up as a physicist (which made sense); Charles ended up as a lawyer (which didn't). Raven made the rest of her business compatriots elaborate on what they were doing. This was the real warm up to the rest of the game.
“I decided to skip out on school and go straight into photography,” Raven said. “This was going well until the day I snapped a picture of a secret meeting between this politician and a mob boss. Now I have to be really careful about everything I do, which is why I can't bring in a lot of money. What about you, Sean?”
“I make baskets.”
“Why baskets?” Hank asked.
“So when the rest of you are thinking, 'man, I really need a basket', you'll have to look no further and I'll make thousands. I also paint on things. And I have my circus to keep me busy. Alex?”
“Hell if I know.”
“Come on, even you should be able to come up with something,” Raven said.
“You could be a trucker,” Hank suggested.
“No, you should be a stuntman,” Sean said.
“Which one?” Raven asked.
Alex shrugged. “Whichever.”
Sean grinned. “Then I guess it's both. What do you do, Erik?”
“I eliminate annoying people,” Erik said shortly. No one asked for further details, at least not immediately.
“So, if you do that, shouldn't you be paid more?” Alex asked a few turns later. “Unless you're a really shitty hitman.”
Erik gave Alex a flat stare. “I'm self-employed, and extremely effective,” he said drily. “Want a demonstration?”
Charles tried to not choke on his wine when he laughed. Moira made the banking decision to give Erik a slight raise.
Raven became the first to reach the next milestone of Life: marriage.
“I want to marry Hank,” Raven declared.
Hank looked suddenly startled. “W-wait, where did that come from?”
Raven pointed to the board. “See, I'm at the chapel. I choose Hank.”
“What? That isn't part of the rules,” Hank said, maybe panicking a little. “You just take another stick person and put it in the car.”
“It'll be more exciting this way. We can combine our resources,” Raven said, smiling.
Alex protested. “That's not fair, the rest of us can't get married.”
“One of us could switch out with Moira –” Erik tried, again, to get out of playing.
“Not gonna happen,” Moira said. “And as rule keeper, I accept Raven's proposed modification. To make it even, you guys can get married amongst yourselves when the time comes, as long as the other person accepts your proposal. Which means you need to ask.” Moira directed the last to Raven with an amused look.
“So, what do you say Hank? Wanna marry me?”
Hank flushed. “I, uh, well – why not.”
The next one to reach the white plastic chapel ended up being Erik.
“Goddammit,” Erik said, clearly not wanting to be the next one up at the fake altar.
“Don't even think about skipping out on your wedding day,” Moira said, grinning.
Charles wondered if Erik would put up an argument. This time, Erik didn't. “Fine, I pick Charles.”
“To the surprise of no one,” Raven said.
“The rest of you are too young,” Erik said defensively.
“You could have argued for staying single,” Moira pointed out.
Erik gave her a skeptical look. “That was an option?”
“No, but it didn't even occur to you to try,” she said smugly.
“Let's get on with the fucking game,” Erik snapped.
“Remember, Erik. You have to ask,” Moira said.
Charles hastily interrupted before Erik clubbed Moira with one of the silver candelabras. “I accept.”
“I get to be married to the guy who rides motorcycles through flames and shit. Cool,” Sean said.
“I guess that can be my act in your circus.”
“Hey, you're right!”
Moira left to get another bottle of wine after they had finished the first. While she was gone Erik, Alex, and Raven decided to rob the bank.
“Really, must you? We were doing such a good job playing fair,” Charles said, watching the proceedings with amusement. “Now you three have taken up a more active life of crime.”
“Tell Moira to bring the Scotch.”
“Gladly,” Charles said, and did so.
Erik smirked. “Now you're an accomplice, since you provided a diversion.”
“Dammit. They might disbar me for this.”
“We'll just frame Alex,” Erik said easily. “He already has a criminal record.”
“I'm good with this plan,” Raven said.
Alex frowned at them both. “Well, I'm not.”
“This time, you'll have me on the outside. I'll write to you while you're in prison,” Sean promised, offering his support.
Moira returned with both wine and Scotch as requested; she really was a good friend. They were all trying to pretend like nothing was amiss, which was perhaps the wrong thing to do, since it made Hank's fidgeting all the more apparent. “Okay, what happened here?” Moira asked, eyes narrowing and focusing on Hank.
Before anyone could offer any kind of excuse, Hank cracked, “Erik and Alex stole money.” Raven shook her head and patted Hank's shoulder.
“Christ, way to sell us out. Raven was in on it, too,” Alex said, shooting Hank a glare.
Raven scowled at Alex, then smiled at Moira. “I can assure you that it was mostly just Alex.”
“I concur with Raven,” Charles said, since Erik was staying silent.
“I can definitely say that Alex didn't do anything too illegal,” Sean said.”Neither did Raven and Erik.”
Moira sighed. “Return the money or I'm putting a hold on everyone's wages. I'm not letting any of you cheat your way into winning.”
Reluctantly, they complied.
Charles and Erik were in an automobile accident, but Charles had planned ahead.
“See? Aren't you glad you married someone with insurance?”
“I would never be stupid enough to get into an accident with another car,” Erik said shortly.
“It isn't a matter of intelligence, hence why it's called an accident,” Moira said.
This reasoning was, of course, ignored. “No, idiots definitely have a higher chance than other people.”
“Maybe you backed into a tree,” Sean suggested.
Erik rolled his eyes. “Again, that would be stupidity at work.”
“I think that's unobservant rather than stupid,” Charles said.
“To be fair, the time Charles did that he had had a lot of beer and it wasn't even his car.”
“Raven, we agreed to not speak about that.” Charles caught the arch look Erik gave him. “I paid for all the damages.”
“This validates my decision to never let you drive,” Erik said.
“No wait, it was a streetlight – not a tree – that time and you got ticketed from the city,” Raven said. “The tree was because of a squirrel. And tequila shots.”
There were times when Charles wished Raven didn't know him quite so well. This was one of them, since he didn't need everyone to know about the more misspent aspects of his college years. “I don't think we need to relive that,” Charles protested.
“I think we do,” Alex said, grinning. Even Hank seemed interested. Charles quickly downed the Scotch he was working on and poured another glass.
“Where did we get twin sons from?” Alex asked, annoyed.
Raven's tone was mocking. “Do you not know where babies come from?”
Alex looked unimpressed. “I can't knock Sean up, so that's beside the point. We would have had to find them somewhere, and there's no way I would have taken them with me.”
“Maybe they were abandoned during one of our shows and we kept them,” Sean said.
“What's the big deal? Two of them, two of you. You should be able to handle it,” Hank said, not really having any kind of experience with small children. Even when he was one, he had always been a few years advanced in school.
It was different for Alex. “I have a little brother. He was difficult enough to look after when he was a baby.”
Raven gave him an amused look. “You mean your parents didn't learn their lesson and stop after you?”
“Very funny,” Alex said flatly.
Sean seemed unperturbed. “It'll be fine. They'll love the elephant.”
“Well, look at it this way,” Moira said, “Now everyone else has to give you presents of money.”
“Can we just send cookies?” Charles asked.
Sean looked intrigued. “What kind?”
Charles quickly read Sean's mind for his favorite kind. “Oatmeal chocolate chip?”
“That was cheating,” Raven said.
Sean shrugged. “I don't care if it means I get a present I like.”
“Can we just give you cookies, too?” Hank asked.
“No, cash only from everyone else,” Alex said, spinning to see how much they would get.
Charles and Erik end up with a son and a daughter from two separate turns. They also end up with a weird inheritance.
“I do not have an aunt who would leave me a hundred cats,” Erik insisted.
“Pay up, Lehnsherr,” Moira said, not budging. They had been arguing this one for a few minutes now.
“Can't we keep them?” Charles asked.
“No,” Erik said.
“Can I have them?” Sean asked. “I will give you this shiny penny.”
Moira shook her head. “Sean, for the last time, you can't add real money to your store of fake money.”
“It'd be a waste of a penny, since these aren't real cats,” Alex pointed out.
“I know, but we'd have bragging rights.”
“No one gets to keep the cats,” Moira said emphatically.
“Then why the hell did I inherit them?” Erik asked.
“Because somewhere out there you had a fucking crazy aunt who loved you enough to entrust you with her cat collection. Now pay the fine.”
Erik didn't, but Charles did.
Sean's luck at receiving bizarre things continued.
“So, I will be happy to pay the ten thousand dollars,” Sean said, “But I expect a lot of shrunken heads in this collection.”
“They could also be charging for quality,” Hank said speculatively.
“Are they human heads?” Alex asked.
Moira looked like she was re-evaluating their sanity; it was an expression she had worn several times already throughout the evening. “It's your shrunken head collection once you purchase it, so go wild with whatever you want them to be.”
“You all need to name your children,” Raven said abruptly, since she and Hank had yet to land on one of the reproductive rectangles. This sudden prompt interrupted the debate Charles and Erik were having with Moira over whether or not they had to purchase the yacht, and if so, would their existing insurance cover it.
“No,” Alex said.
“Definitely no,” Erik agreed.
“Come on, it's not that hard, you just pick something,” Moira said.
“One of the twins is named Butch, and he gets to have my last name,” Sean said, “So I guess that makes the other one Sundance Kid.”
Alex raised a brow in Sean's direction. “What? I liked 'The Three Outlaws',” Sean responded.
“Whatever. We'll go with that.”
“Charles? Erik?” Raven looked at each of them in turn.
“We can name the boy David?” Charles hazarded. Erik shrugged indifferently, so Charles added, “You name the girl.”
Erik seemed about to protest, thought about it for a moment, and decided it wasn't worth it. “Wanda.”
“That's a weird name,” Alex said, ever helpful.
Moira laughed. “You're the one who agreed to let your son be named Sundance Kid Summers. It's good that kid doesn't exist, otherwise his life would be miserable.”
Alex frowned, but Sean didn't seem bothered. “Don't worry, Butch Cassidy will have his back.”
“You are aware how that movie turned out, right?” Moira asked.
Sean shook his head. “It was a while ago, and my mom wanted to leave before it was over. I'm sure it all worked out in the end.”
There is apparently a limit to how much Hank is willing to suspend his belief while they're playing the game. “If I lost one turn just for jury duty, you should lose multiple turns for traveling to Neptune. For free.”
“Maybe Charles' Martian ambassador friend gave us a lift,” Alex said with a shrug. “Either way, it just says one turn.”
“That's completely illogical.”
“Everything that's happened so far is completely illogical,” Erik said shortly. “Like when Raven caught that whale while skin-diving.”
“It could have been a small whale –” Hank started to say.
Moira cut him off. “Sorry Hank, the Neptune trip is still just one turn.” Alex started to look smug. “Don't worry, they're losing anyway.” That got him to stop.
“This is fucking ridiculous,” Erik said when their car ended up in another accident. This time a tree fell on it.
“Insurance to the rescue, again,” Charles said, pleased.
“You don't have to sound so happy about that.”
“It's further proof I've made good decisions. Will you let me buy stocks now?”
Erik folded his arms across his chest. “Fine, do what you want.”
“You were faking the golf injury,” Alex accused.
Raven snorted. “Why would I fake a golf injury when it made me lose a turn?”
Aware that they might be behind, Alex was trying to at least get himself and Sean ahead of Raven and Hank. “I don't know. But you can't be on the dance show now.”
“I would be the perfect person to be on a dance show. I'd cut out all the time wasted on costume changes,” Raven said. “Can I get paid now?”
“What sort-of wedding anniversary would cost nine thousand dollars?” Erik asked.
“I don't know, why don't you tell us about it, Erik?” Raven grinned at him. “Where would you take Charles on this very special anniversary of yours?”
Erik gave her an unamused look. “I don't have the first fucking clue.” Probably to dinner, then to bed, Erik thought involuntarily.
Charles smiled to himself and occupied himself with taking a drink. Not a bad idea, my friend. Erik made a point of ignoring Charles. “I'd rent out a villa on the Amalfi Coast. We could take our yacht over. There would be lots of spectacular wine, and we could take trips to Rome on the weekends. It would all be very groovy,” Charles said, the idea improvised on the spot.
Raven gave him an odd look. “That's surprisingly sweet. The height of your romantic gestures has been that one time you remembered that one girl's birthday and stole some flowers out of someone else's garden.”
Charles shrugged, this time not looking at Erik even though he knew Erik was looking at him. “I felt inspired.”
“Yes!” Sean cheered. He and Alex were selling their cattle ranch for one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. After Raven and Hank took a hundred thousand dollar gambling loss this brought them much closer together. “Now we can start feeding the twins real food instead of making them share with the elephants.”
Raven was the one to protest this time. “At no point in the game did either of you purchase a cattle ranch.”
Alex grinned widely. “You're just sore that we're getting thousands after you gambled yours away.”
“Are taxes applicable?” Hank asked.
“I'm not going to retroactively tax everything that we haven't taxed, so no,” Moira said.
The wine, or maybe the whiskey – they were almost finished with both bottles now – was starting to get to Charles. It wasn't enough to make him completely fall down drunk, but enough that everything felt warm and fuzzy. His gaze kept wandering back to Erik, who was more relaxed now, but still impatient to be finished. He looked back at the board, but sent a thought Erik's way, It shouldn't be too much longer. Then we can go upstairs and you'll have me on my knees sucking your –
“Oh God! Charles! Stop!” Hank exclaimed frantically out of nowhere, looking completely horrified. He was sitting in the chair to Erik's left and Raven was perched on the arm of the same chair. Charles blinked and stole a glance at Erik who gave Hank a blank look, then gave Charles a bewildered one. Clearly, Charles had misfired.
Shit. I hope Raven didn't–
But Raven did, too. Unlike Hank, she laughed hard enough that tears sprung to her eyes and she fell into Hank's lap, which at least seemed to distract him. Charles was sorely tempted to erase the last couple minutes from everyone's memories, but he couldn't do that to his friends without a good reason, and his mortification wasn't enough of one.
Alex and Sean were looking at the rest of them like they were crazy. “So, what was that all about?” Sean ventured.
“Nothing!” Charles said too quickly, sounding more panicked than he preferred. “Nothing at all.”
“Charles, secrets aren't any fun,” Raven said as she caught her breath. She then proceeded to pantomime what Charles had just been thinking about doing to Erik and it was Charles' turn to feel scarred for life when he didn't look away in time.
“Raven! Don't do that!” he shouted, his voice a pitch higher from how flustered he was.
Charles wondered if Erik were mad. He hoped Erik was infuriated at the affront to Charles' dignity and the invasion on their private life so the topic would be off-limits. Instead Erik had apparently discovered the only common ground he had with Moira: amusement at Charles' expense, since they were both laughing harder than Charles had seen from either of them before.
Et tu, Brute?, Charles thought petulantly at Erik, making sure to focus on him this time.
Erik snorted. This is the most entertaining thing to happen all night.
Charles had turned very red at this point and wasn't looking at anyone. He sunk lower into his seat and desperately tried to convince everyone that there was no Charles Xavier there, and obviously if he weren't there now he couldn't have ever been there at all. It was all just a drug-addled hallucination. Without any drugs being around.
“Oh come on, we know you're still here,” Raven said.
Erik made a lazy movement with one finger and Charles felt a tug at his belt buckle, which surprised him enough that he dropped the mental illusion of camouflaging himself as his chair. “This isn't as funny as you all think it is.”
“No, it's definitely funnier,” Moira said.
Charles buried his face in his hands. “Can we get back to playing?”
“If you're finished fantasizing about Erik and traumatizing Hank,” Raven said.
“Please don't remind me,” Hank muttered. It was a sentiment Charles could share.
“I think it's my turn,” Erik said, grinning at Charles. I'm flattered that in the midst of this insanity all you can think about is my cock.
Charles felt himself flush more. I hate you.
From the way Erik smirked, Charles could tell he knew that wasn't true. I'm sure you'll feel differently when I'm fucking you so hard you can't remember your own name.
Charles was becoming uncomfortably distracted again. Just spin the damn wheel already.
Alex gave Charles a confused look. “But it's Erik's turn.”
“Yeah, I heard that, too,” Sean said.
Erik's grin widened. Charles sighed and decided to keep his thoughts to himself for the remainder of the evening.
“I've been in the jungle. I wouldn't get us lost there, and even if I did, I don't understand what the thirty thousand dollars is for,” Erik said. He didn't sound as irritated as he might have previously, so there was at least that benefit from Charles' humiliation.
“Probably some kind of rescue mission. Maybe hospital bills if either of you got sick,” Moira mused. “Why were you in the jungle before?”
“Hunting,” Erik said simply.
“Were you hunting the most dangerous prey?” Sean asked.
Erik stared at Sean until Sean looked unnerved. “What do you think?”
“Okay, let's not talk about this,” Moira said. “I'll cut down the amount you have to pay to fifteen thousand for post-jungle medical treatment.”
“Who would pay five thousand dollars for a toupee?” Hank asked.
“Maybe it's made of gold and I bought it for Charles,” Raven mused.
“I don't need a toupee,” Charles said.
The day of reckoning arrived. Despite their momentary advantage, Sean and Alex had fallen down on their luck, so they ended up relegated to the poor farm already. Hank and Raven were making a comeback after Hank won the peace prize and Raven sold Charles a fake diamond, so it was down to the two of them and Charles and Erik.
However, the last couple of the last spaces seemed made for Charles' method of play since they get a sizable amount for the life insurance and selling stocks. He smiled triumphantly. “See, I knew what I was doing.”
“You got lucky,” Raven said. “Normally it's just a waste of your money.”
Moira tallied up each team's overall monetary worth. “Charles and Erik win.”
“Does that mean we get to leave first?” Erik asked.
Raven and Moira both smirked, independent of each other but at the same time. “Why not, since we know you have important things to get back to,” Moira said.
Charles hurriedly got to his feet, a little unsteadily, and didn't put up any resistance as Erik drug him out.
Though Charles had shared more details than he had ever wanted to that evening, he had enjoyed himself, and it wasn't enough to ruin the mood. As soon as they were back up in his room, Erik had him pinned against the door, kissing him hard. He wrapped his arms around Erik's neck, pressing close to him like he had wanted to be doing for a while now. “That wasn't too bad,” Charles said when they parted for air, or at least tried to, since the words were interrupted by a moan as Erik's hands were everywhere he wanted them to be.
Erik made a sound that was neither agreement or disagreement, but Charles knew Erik had liked it, too. “I believe you made several promises you need to make good on,” Erik said, voice rough.
Charles caught Erik in a shorter kiss, then sucked on his lower lip and was rewarded with the sound of Erik's groan. He pushed off from the door and backed Erik further into the room until Erik sat down on the bed and Charles settled between Erik's legs, hands resting on his thighs. “And I will be happy to do so.”