Erik Lehnsherr was nobody's idiot. He knew his sister was dating someone, someone who was doing a pretty piss poor job of hiding that fact, actually. He almost felt offended, he thought he was doing a much better job of hiding his relationship with Charles (from everyone who wasn't Tony). But Anya had returned from 'lunch with friends' behickied and smelling faintly of cologne, and then that Tuesday, just before the holidays she had returned not smelling of cologne but with a certain breathlessness and brand new hickey on the other side of the neck because apparently the boy wasn't classy enough to not chew on his sister's neck like frigging Edward Cullen or something.
But Friday night - which he had hoped to spend curled up with Charles - was instead spent taking his sister out for a casual dinner of big brotherly concern. In spite of the fact that this issue had been telegraphed early he had just... fallen down on the job. He'd been too wrapped up in Charles, really.
"Anya... liebling... are you seeing someone? Dating?"
She poked at her pasta for a moment before nodding. "Yes."
He was pleased that they weren't going to have an entire pack of lies concerning the topic, at least. "And when do we get to meet this boy?"
He question drew a rather impressive frown, and then a few moments of prodding at her food, and then she took a bite of the pasta and chewed it slowly while Erik kept his gaze fixed on her and tried to be both patient, intimidating, and open to anything she needed to say. He doubted he succeeded.
"When we're both ready," was the answer he received.
Erik sighed. "Is it too much to hope for that you're practicing such forthrightness with other aspects of the relationship?"
Anya frowned, trying to parse what he'd just said. "Maybe?"
He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Do I need to buy you some condoms, liebling? Because I'm not going to trust some... sweaty palmed teenage boy to make sound decisions." Hell, he hadn't been sweaty palmed and eager and he'd still fucked that up a quarter of the time and dodged that bullet magnificently.
She waved her hand, dismissive. "We don't need condoms."
A very warm ziti was threatening to make its way down the wrong pipe in Erik's throat. Anya could say something like that all she wanted, but Erik had already bought condoms on the off chance that he and Charles would find themselves wanting them because there was no way in hell he was leaving Charles' side the second after they both said yes.
He recovered a few moments later and then moved to the other side of the booth so he was right next to Anya. This was... so very important and he did not want to get this wrong with her. "Anya, I know you just met this boy, but... boys want things from girls." Well, most of them did, but now was not the time for that conversation. "And getting accidentally pregnant is not romantic."
"Erik!" Anya was blushing furiously now. "We're not doing anything that could get me pregnant!" She was hissing at him between clenched teeth, very embarrassed, but they were alone in the corner of the restaurant by the window with no one else around.
"STDs aren't sexy either."
Anya crossed her arms in front of her chest. "Nothing to get those either!"
"Oral sex, anal sex,..." Anya shoved him bodily out of the booth, with both hands and feet, and he sighed and went across the table again.
"Erik..." She was still glowering at him, eyes blue and fiery. "We're not doing any of that! The only sex we're having--"
"Is kissing sex, which is not sex."
Erik sagged in relief.
"And if you really care, I'll ask him, and he'll buy condoms, because he's a good guy, but we don't need them, and we won't need them until I say so." She frowned at him, all quivering lip and earnestness and... Erik really wanted to believe her.
"I want you to have some, Anya."
"Fine, but you get to tell mom why I need them if she finds them." Anya looked irritated at him again. "We're waiting."
"Until you're married?" Hope against hope.
"No, until I'm ready, which will happen when it happens-" She glowered at him. "Which does not mean whenever we're both all pant-y and stupid! It means... later."
This conversation was not going particularly well for him. He wasn't an idiot, he knew how love could be, he was feeling like an idiot himself, lately, and he was more than a bit terrified of pushing his sister into a teenage rebellion she had mostly managed to miss out on already. "I know love feels crazy..."
"We're not in love," Anya said immediately. More ziti threatened to suffocate him. "I mean... I think we will be... later. Right now it's just... talking and hugging and kissing. He listens and I listen, and I really like him a lot and I feel... special. He doesn't talk down to me," she said, eyes boring into Erik.
The accusation was pretty obvious, and he sighed. "I'm sorry, Anya... you're always going to be my baby sister." His mother and father had - for whatever reason - managed to space the Lehnsherr children at relatively equal - yet rather extended - intervals. Erik knew his story, that much was obvious, you didn't need to do much math to realize that mom and dad had been married barely five months before you were born, but Anya hadn't shown up until almost six years later, and the rest of the kids similarly scattered. "I'm... trying to trust you, but... I don't know this boy, he could be a little hooligan."
His sister giggled. "He's not, but I think you would like him when you meet him." She poked a few more noodles and ate them now, chewing slowly. Erik waited for her to decide what she wanted to say next. "He's smart, smarter than me."
"Liebling, you're brilliant, don't sell yourself short."
"He's... brillianter, although he can be a dummy sometimes." She sighed. "Sometimes he can be such a boy."
There were so many ways to take that, and Erik didn't like any of them. "What do you mean?"
"I mean... sometimes he has a hard time saying what he's feeling."
"You don't have that problem."
"Yes, because I have a dummy for a big brother who's treating me like a thirteen year old instead of a sixteen year old. You should go have a condom talk with the other girls at my school." She overdramatically sighed and then rested her forehead on the table for a moment. "You can ask questions, but I might not tell you the answers, I don't want you freaking him out more than you already have."
"How can I be freaking out a boy I've never met?!" He sighed. Apparently his reputation preceded him, or the boy had something to hide, or something similarly unsavory, the whole thing made Erik's jaw clench. He supposed it might be best to figure out if this boy had plans or was just a slacker. "Is he going to college?"
"Yes. He wants me to go, too."
Erik sighed, not even wanting to think about how much debt he had, much less the mountain that Anya would manage to acquire in addition. He could have bought a half-dozen houses in Squirrel Hill for the loan debt he was carrying. "We can talk about U. Pitt again, next year, when it's time to apply. I'll talk with mama about it with you, but I don't want you going to college because some boy wants you to."
"He wants me to go because he knows I want to." She prodded the table with her hands, running her fingers along the smooth worn surface of the table. "He doesn't know we can't afford it."
Rich little snot. Who wouldn't understand the idea that some people can't afford college? He had four younger siblings, and since they were all little everyone knew that Erik and Pietro would go to college and the girls would find husbands, and Erik - at least - could see that was incredibly backwards but he also didn't want his baby sister falling over the first boy she’d dated... "Get working on those scholarships, then."
"You'll really talk to mama about it again?"
"Yes, if you get in..." He took a deep breath, wishing he could make such a promise with real assurance, but... "If you get in, we'll make sure you get to go."
He did sigh, then. "To U. Pitt. It's not that much farther and it's a lot cheaper. Do we have a deal?"
"You didn't make me promise anything."
Right... "I'm buying you condoms, you're using them, you're not getting pregnant, and you're not going to college just to impress a boy."
"Oh. Deal. Deal deal deal." She grinned at him. "If I knew that was all it would take I would have gotten a boyfriend ages ago."
He pressed his fingers into his forehead and tried to massage away the incredible headache he could feel brewing.
"At least she has her priorities straight," Charles said - two hours later - when Erik had finally taken Anya home, mostly convinced she wasn't going to end up non-mysteriously pregnant by some boy Erik didn’t know. "Too young for children, interested in college, you did say she was on the bright side."
"She is, maybe smarter than me." He shrugged.
The two of them were laying on Charles' bed, Erik's head in Charles' lap while Charles played with his hair, stroking lightly. Tony had begged off nearly the moment Erik had arrived, practically to the second. He would have thought something was wrong, but Tony had been spending a decent amount of time with him in 'Schlag working on some circuit modeling - Erik's project - and in the Robotics Institute working on visual tracking - Tony's Project - in between the time they spent with Charles, TAing, and all the other drags on their time. No, Tony was just wise enough to leave him and Charles alone after his first - rather impressive - display of interrupting him and Charles in the moment.
"But you're worried about the money?"
He glowered up at Charles. "Money doesn't just magically show up because you need it, Charles."
Charles didn't say anything in response to that, just brushed his fingers against Erik's temples. "Well, if the boy is serious, it sounds like his family is the college going type, perhaps between the two of them they won't be overburdened by debt."
"Charles! They're sixteen! They've known each other a few weeks! Do you really think anyone can be serious about someone after a few weeks?" It was out before he'd thought better of it, and as soon as he had he saw how hurt that had made Charles, hurt enough that Charles pushed his head off of his lap and just... moped.
"No, of course, I apologize, how silly of me."
Erik felt sick. He might as well have said 'of course, I don't love you'; they'd barely known each other a month themselves, but... Erik whimpered, feeling like an idiot. After a deep breath he scooted over to Charles and pressed his fingers to Charles' jaw, tilting his head. "Charles... we're not sixteen."
"No, but we are rather young." Charles clenched his jaw.
Charles was right, of course, and he felt like an ass for saying what he had. He could be... so bad at communicating sometimes, he'd had to work up to his very minimal outing of himself for hours, and now... now he'd said something idiotic. "It's too early to say anything else... but I feel strongly about you. I do. We belong together." Anything more would be too much, too soon, but Charles seemed to find that acceptable and he put his hand back out. "Why are you defending my sister's hypothetical boyfriend?"
"I'm not," Charles answered after a moment, "But... your sister is delightful, I bet she has the young man wrapped around her finger."
Erik brought Charles' hand up to his lips, placing a soft kiss on one of the knuckles. "I know how he might feel, then."
That won him a smile.
Erik sighed, though, not really content with that answer. "I just don't want her getting hurt."
An interesting - and complicated - set of expressions flitted over Charles' face as he turned Erik's hand over in his and then kissed the palm. "Nonetheless, sometimes we get hurt. Sometimes we take chances... put our hearts with people who don't treat us right, but where would we be if we weren't prepared to sometimes risk everything to find out if that spark could be something more?"
The warm feeling in his chest radiated outward, and he stole a peck on Charles' cheek. "I'm still going to terrorize the boy when I meet him."
Charles laughed, pulled Erik in for a kiss. "I would expect nothing less. Poor boy."
"Well, at least I have a good example of how not to give a talk."
"Tony tried to give me The Talk, actually."
Charles' head tilted slightly, blushing and bashful. "Did he now?"
"Yes. There was..." He steeled himself. "There was something in there about not breaking your heart."
"And what did you say?"
"That I thought it went without saying." Erik let himself be dragged to Charles' lap, and kissed, hard, fingers tangling in hair and trailing down backs, rucking up shirts and touching everywhere.
He arrived home late in the evening, Anya sitting out on the back porch in his seat, drinking lemonade. Erik could see the smug and self-satisfied look on her face that he recognized from the mirror as of late. This boy apparently had some sort of psychic power to know when Anya was without her big brother. Erik sat down on the ground next to her.
Wordlessly, Anya pulled out three two-packs of condoms, before stuffing them back into her pocket. "I asked, he gave me some, we didn't have sex. It was magical."
"I wish you would take this more serious, liebling."
She stuck her tongue out, annoyed. "I said you were being a pest about it, and he said that was fine." Anya took a deep breath. "I knew he was the right guy... almost as soon as I met him. Not right away, because he was being a pest, but after we talked a little bit... we like a lot of the same things, but not too much; we both get all... squishy when we kiss." She huffed. "It's not my fault you dated all those girls who had nothing in common with you and I don't think you even liked them."
"No, you're right." His sister hadn't even been a teen when he was dating last, how did she even know what chemistry was or looked like, then? "So he makes you feel squishy?"
She nodded. "Squishy and smart... and pretty and special."
"It feels nice, doesn't it?"
"What do you...?" She looked at him, and then her eyes went wide. "You got a girlfriend! I can see it! You're feeling squishy, too!"
"I don't have a girlfriend," he shot back.
"But you did meet someone?"
"Yes." Honesty seemed... if not wise, at least better than attempting to hide it completely.
"Are you feeling squishy?"
"Do we need to have a condom talk? I know it all seems very romantic, Erik, but unexpected babies aren't sexy."
He hid his face in his hand; he definitely had earned that one.
He didn't hear anything else on the topic of the boyfriend after that until well past Yom Kippur, which was nice, until he noticed the neat, silvery bracelet that Anya was now sporting around her left wrist while the two of them were dicing potatoes and preparing to boil them.
"A present?" He asked, indicating the shiny metal, it was... very polished, almost too silver for silver.
She tilted her hand, showing it off. "Yeah. It's an Italian charm bracelet."
"Oh?" It looked nice, although the metal of it was bugging him. "Is it silver?"
"Really, aluminum?" How fifth grade. "And here I was worried that he was going to get laid."
Anya huffed at him, overdramatic and teenaged. "It used to be one of the most valuable metals in existence, you know, more than gold or silver, and the Washington Monument tip was aluminum." He couldn't tell if she was parroting her boyfriend or if she actually knew that. Honestly, Anya was a bit of a chemistry nerd, so it was possible either way.
"And now we use it to make pop cans." He really shouldn't have been being such an ass, it was only going to get him into trouble, but he was still very amused by the bauble.
She sniffed at him. "Aluminum?" She waited; he shook his head. "AL, for Anya Lehnsherr."
Erik thought he was going to vomit in his mouth from the adorableness. "Well, that certainly beats A..." He trailed off, waiting.
"AS, arsenic, for nosey older brothers."
Well played, Mr. S, well played. "It's nice."
"You don't have to be sarcastic."
"No, I mean it... that's... very thoughtful of him." He reached out and twisted the links on Anya's wrist; they were smooth and polished, each one neat and precise. "I didn't think you could even buy something like this in something other than silver or gold."
Anya shrugged, tucking it back up under long sleeves. "I think he made it, actually."
Mr. S sure was going to a lot of trouble to not get into his little sister's pants... Erik was unaccountably impressed. It was hard not to notice that Anya was obviously happy, and as far as he'd seen - and he did pay attention to these things - she was still doing as well as she always did in school, her tests and homework were still excellent, and if she slipped off to 'visit with friends' a bit more often lately, Erik wasn't... pleased, but he was... thinking he could maybe accept this guy if he was making his sister smile like that.