title: And if they don't believe us now
word count: 3031
fandom: X-Men: First Class [movieverse]
pairing: pre-relationship Charles Xavier/Erik Lehnsherr
notes: Continued from The girl with the thorn in her side. A genderflip AU where Charles Xavier is actually Charlotte Xavier, sister of Raven Xavier. Dr. Erik Lehnsherr runs a tea shop with his sister Emma Lehnsherr. Lots of fluff and snark and emotions, and this time we have descriptions of a sports car and of a big bike.
Title and cut text adapted from The Smiths, "The boy with the thorn in his side".
It had been a very long night, and he'd almost lost his patient on the operating table before sunrise, and he was just forcing himself to complete the supermarket run for Emma's sake.
Erik pocketed his keys and stethoscope, polished his glasses on the hem of his white coat, and got out of the car, checking his watch as he did so. Two in the afternoon. He'd been awake for over fourteen hours now, and he was feeling every minute of it.
When he looked over his shoulder, he realized that he'd parked next to a handsome Kawasaki Ninja, black with silver highlights. The colors were a decided contrast to the cloud of red hair on its rider, who was sitting comfortably on the kerb, his long legs stretched out into the narrow street. There were two helmets atop the seat.
“I take it you like motorcycles,” the rider said, in an unusual accent that was a mix of both American and Oxonian English.
Erik thought he'd heard something like it before, and recently.
“Oh, feel free to look, I get that a lot – I'm just happy someone appreciates her, you know?”
“A bike like yours is no longer common, not around here,” Erik said, thoughtfully, as he bent to look over the controls. “And therefore she should be all the more appreciated.”
“Thanks, man.” Pause, then the driver chuckled. “Somehow, I can't imagine a doctor driving a Lambo, but you've got a pretty sweet one there.”
“I may as well use a little money for myself, since the rest is tied up in investments,” Erik laughed, self-deprecatingly. “You are complaining that people do not appreciate your Ninja – your family does not approve of her?”
“Are you joking?” The rider laughed. “My sister loves her to bits; she takes her out more frequently than I do. Too bad there're just the two of us here. My name's Raven, by the way, and I call my bike River.”
Erik nodded and shook Raven's hand warmly. “Please, call me Erik.”
Whatever else Erik was going to say was abruptly drowned out by a familiar voice, calling out from behind him: “Raven? They're out of my chocolate; we'll need to go to the other shop – Erik?”
He turned around slowly, and hoped his poker face wouldn't slip, and peered at her through his glasses. “It is a pleasant surprise to see you here, Charles.”
It was a wonder he could speak at all, and so normally, given that he'd seen her in all sorts of outfits in the few short weeks of their acquaintance – a floor-length skirt matched with running shoes; a man's shirt and a bow tie over denims; a white shirt and blue leather pants – but never anything like this. Dark racing leathers, much like Raven's; battered motorcycle boots; a blue-and-grey-checked scarf wound around her neck. A set of knitted half-gloves that were unravelling around the thumbs. Her dark brown hair lying flat against her head, no doubt due to one of the helmets. Her blue satchel, slung carelessly over one shoulder.
He watched with deep interest as Charles began to blush. “Thank you, Erik; it's a pleasure to see you too.” Those deep blue eyes blinking, and then: “This is my brother Raven, have you been introduced?”
“Yes, we have,” Raven said, and Erik watched him take the shopping bags from her. “Charles – this is the guy you've been talking about, right?”
Erik raised an eyebrow and had to fight back a smile as Charles's blush grew impossibly darker, as she waved two fingers at Raven. “I...yes, Raven. I'll explain later, Erik?”
He gave in to his grin, then, and nodded. Suddenly, he didn't feel so tired any more.
But he clearly still wasn't himself because the next thing he knew, Charles was stepping to his side, was taking his wrist in her small hands, was peering worriedly at his face. “You don't look too well – bad day at the hospital? Heart surgeon,” she added, throwing the words over her shoulder to Raven.
“Ah,” Raven said, nodding.
“A common enough occurrence,” Erik said, once Charles was looking at him again. “I was summoned to the hospital last night to perform a very complicated surgery on one of my child patients. We nearly lost her, but fortunately the doctors assisting me were more than competent, and we were able to save her life.”
Sympathy in those blue eyes, and he thought about warmth, about being wrapped in a blanket.
“You'll tell me when she'll be allowed to receive visitors,” Charles was saying, when he blinked back to the present. “And I will go and see if there is anything I can do for her.”
“Of course,” Erik said. “But now I am keeping you from your errands?”
Charles shrugged. “I'm going to take Raven to the airport now, and drive River – that's the bike – back home for him. Chocolate can wait.”
“Do you intend to stop by the tea shop on your return?”
“No,” she said, and then she winked. “I'm joking, Erik; of course I'll come by later.”
“You're going to take me to that shop when I come back, right?” Raven said, and Erik looked up as he swung one leg over the bike with an easy grace.
“If I don't simply lose you to the Philippines.” Charles must have seen the confusion in his face, because she was dipping into one of her pockets and explaining: “I haven't quite mentioned what he does? My brother's a bit of a trader, specializing in these.” And then she was holding a flick knife, perfectly sized to her hand.
He watched her hold the knife well away from all three of them, and then snap out the blade. Silversharp flash of light off the gleaming metal. A short serrated edge on the inner side of the crescent-shaped blade.
“Got that from a merchant friend of mine,” Raven offered after a moment, and Erik watched with interest as Charles expertly resheathed the knife and replaced it in her pocket. “And in return I'm taking him to the Philippines to meet some of my suppliers.”
“And I still don't know when you're coming back,” Charles complained, winking at Erik and then sticking her tongue out at her brother.
Erik laughed – it was only a small and dry chuckle, but he thought the world of it when Charles turned a sunny smile on him.
“We should be going or I'll miss my flight,” Raven said, after a few moments.
Erik let his grin grow just a little when Charles reacted with a crestfallen expression. Was she actually pouting? And then she was wandering over to her brother, was comically beating him around the shoulders with her fists, and Raven was dancing around her, laughing and poking at her cheeks.
He thought that he'd like to try bottling their happiness, their interactions, and tucking the bottles away for those difficult days cooped up in operating theaters, or when Emma was being wistful, or when his interns were getting on his nerves.
Speaking of Emma – he still had her shopping to do, and he nodded at Raven as he stepped up onto the sidewalk, his feet already heading toward the supermarket.
Only to be stopped in his tracks by a warm hand sliding into his.
“Erik?” Charles had her helmet tucked under her other arm as she looked up at him. “I'll see you later?”
“Of course.” And, greatly daring, he brought the gloved hand in his up to his mouth for a kiss.
Charles blushed and grinned and took her hand back – only to put it on his cheek. “Later,” she said, and then she was turning on her heel and she was jumping onto the motorbike, her arms around her brother's waist, and they were off.
Erik stayed where he was until they had turned the corner and vanished from sight.
He looked up from his novel when Sean burst into the back office.
“Excited again?” he said, with a wry little smile.
“Charles is here – and did you know that she has a fucking monster bike?”
“Language,” Emma said, absently, as she appeared at the redhead's shoulder. “But for all that, I share his sentiments. Charles and a motorcycle – I should say I'd been expecting it, but the reality boggles the mind.”
“I saw her on it earlier – we had run into each other outside the supermarket.” Erik put his novel away in his bag and put his arm around his sister's shoulders. “Her brother, Raven, owns it, but it seems that she is in the habit of riding it when he is traveling on business.”
“What does he do?” Emma asked.
“Is that why she has that knife, then? I had been wondering, and worried.”
When they stepped into the shop proper Erik almost laughed – and Emma did, hiding it behind her hand, because Charles was looking trapped. Hank and Janos, and now Sean, were all talking around her at the tops of their voices, and she was clutching her helmet as if it were a shield.
Erik finally took pity on her and waded through the boys, nodded as Emma actually pushed and pulled at their shoulders to make way. “Enough, this is no way to treat a customer.”
“Or a friend,” Charles said, sharing out her mock-glares between the three. “Yes, you may go out and look at River, but I'll thank you not to do anything to her, or I promise I'll kill each of you painfully, and Emma will even help me.”
“I'll do better than that,” Emma laughed. “I'll record the whole thing and put it online.”
“I knew there was a reason why we got on so well.”
Erik prudently stepped out of the way as the boys, torn between looking afraid and amused, bolted out of the shop.
“Well, now that we have some peace and quiet around here,” Emma said, “what are you having today?”
“Actually, I have a strange request to make,” Charles said, “and it has everything to do with your brother. Sort of a silly little idea I'd had, on the way over.”
“Me,” Erik said, and tilted his head. “Say on.”
“I'd like to borrow you for the rest of the day, if you have no plans? And if you're not too tired.”
Erik looked at his sister. “It is partly your decision to make, Emma.”
“Oh go on,” Emma laughed. “You know I can run this place with one hand tied behind my back. I'll call you if anything happens, or I'll have the boys deal with it. Yes?”
“Yes.” He leaned over and kissed her cheek, and then looked over at Charles. “Wait for me here.”
Charles immediately sat down at the nearest table, Emma taking the seat opposite.
Thank goodness he kept a leather jacket here – Erik filled his pockets with his keys and his wallet and his mobile phone. Into the kitchen for a thermos of tea – it took him a moment to find Charles's favorite, the cinnamon-berry blend she ordered frequently – and then he went back out to the tables.
“Ready?” Charles said, and she stood up and kissed Emma's cheek.
“Don't do anything I wouldn't do,” Emma drawled at him.
He raised an eyebrow at his sister, extended his free hand to Charles. “I am assuming your brother left behind his helmet.”
He followed her out and took the second helmet from her, adjusting the straps to fit him and then buckling it into place. She was tugging on her gloves, looking somewhat nervous, but she covered it with a smile and got on the bike, motioned to him to do the same.
The roar of the engine, the sharp stink of gasoline, the machine vibrating beneath him.
He put his arms around her waist – and stared, since he didn't have far to reach around her – and she kicked the bike into gear, and they were speeding away from the shop.
The wind whistling in his ears even through the thick plastic of the helmet, the feel of Charles's leathers under his bare hands, her hands working the controls.
When he looked up from the back of her helmet, he was surprised to find out that they were back in the university, and Charles was booming up one of the main streets. Heads turning to follow them.
He flipped up his visor and shouted, “Where are we going?”
“We're almost there!” Charles yelled back instead of answering.
Fifteen minutes later she was throwing them hard around a long left-hand corner, and then – silence.
“Here we are,” Charles said, parking the bike and taking off her helmet.
He watched her put her hands in her hair, shaking out the flattened curls. When she looked back up she looked more like her normal self, with the unruly brown hair and the mischievous blue eyes.
He looked around and - “Are we upriver or downriver from your favorite place to eat lunch?”
“Gold star for Erik,” Charles said. “Upriver, actually; and as far up the river as we can get and still be on university grounds. We'd have to start traveling up and out for the rest of it,” and she pointed to the mountains, a little closer to where they were standing.
“Ah,” Erik said, and kept looking around.
The sound of a zip being undone jerked him to attention, and he immediately closed his eyes and turned his back on her.
“No need,” she said, teasingly. “I'm actually decent under this thing, look.”
And then she was walking around to him, and underneath the partly unzipped leathers she was wearing two sleeveless t-shirts, one on top of the other.
Fascinated, he watched her pull her arms out of her sleeves.
And then Charles was giggling as she walked away, toward the sound of rushing water, the dangling portion of her leathers swaying with each step. “Come on!”
Erik picked his way through the tall grass and wildflowers, and followed suit as Charles sat down on the roots of a large tree. “A nice place for contemplation,” he said.
“I had the impression you'd like something different,” she said. “I know what hospitals can be like.”
“You are not speaking from personal experience, I hope.”
“Partly,” Charles said. “My mother. Cancer. Part of the reason why I went into genetics.”
He reached out to her, watched as her gloved hand took his. “My condolences.”
“She died when Raven and I were young. But thank you.” Pause, and then: “I know you had a rough childhood; Emma has been telling me some rather hair-raising stories. Your guardian – not exactly model parent material.”
“He was not.” Erik pushed away the memory of fists raining blows down on him, of shielding Emma with his body, of covering his ears with his pillow just to escape the abuse being shouted at him. “I was happy to turn eighteen, and to escape to medical school, because that meant I could take Emma away with me.”
“He didn't come after you?”
“How could he? We denounced him to the authorities first. We have had no contact with him since.”
He looked up, surprised, when Charles went to sit down next to him, fitting herself into his side. “We're not exactly poster children, you and I. I'm just glad that we both seem to have gotten out of it in one piece.”
“I feel the same way,” Erik said, quietly.
Almost without thinking about it, he clutched back when her small hand slid again into his.
They sat there, comfortable and silent, as the sun began to set.
Wind in his ears, water flowing past. The trees moving and throwing shadows.
“Tea?” he murmured after a long silence.
“Please,” Charles said.
He poured the tea and the steam curled upward in the fading light; he watched Charles fold her hands around the metal of the cup. The sun flaring into her eyes; she flinched and turned her head quickly, bumping against his shoulder, and he watched her hide her face.
“Sorry,” she said, in a small voice.
“No harm done.” And then it seemed the most natural thing in the world for him to put his hand under her chin, to tilt her face up towards his, to watch her close her eyes as they came together, softly. A smile on his face as they kissed for the first time.
He was almost disappointed when she pulled away – but then she smiled and leaned back in, pressing her forehead against his. “Can I just say,” she said, giggling softly, “that I've been wanting to kiss you for a very long time?”
“If you will let me say that I nearly threw myself at your feet the first day you walked into the shop.”
An amused gleam in her eye. “Let me guess: because I looked like I'd just been some poor sod's punching bag.”
“Because you looked beautiful,” Erik said.
And then she was laughing, and he was laughing with her, and then she was trying her best to wrap his hands in hers, and all he could do was kiss her again.