Erik knew he was pathetic.
He’d visited this particular bank every week, for three months now, every Monday morning. At first he told himself he needed to make sure his not inconsiderable savings were split apart enough that they would be covered by the FDIC quarter million guarantee. Then he decided the interest rate on the saving account was too low, and he’d like the money moved to a money-market account. Then he wanted some of his funds put into bonds. Then he decided he wanted a safety deposit box. (That was his best idea so far, because it allowed him the excuse to return to the bank whenever he pleas—umm, to place and remove things at will.)
And then he’d forced himself, while cleaning his rifle (just because he didn’t use it anymore, didn’t mean he shouldn’t keep it in pristine condition—Anya was his baby), to admit to himself that he couldn’t have cared less for his interest rates, or his shiny new bonds or his safety deposit box (what did normal people put into them, anyway? The gun chamber under his garage was more secure anyway, and he could put whatever he liked in there without having to smuggle it into a bank). He only cared for the ridiculously floppy-haired, outrageously enthusiastic, beautifully intelligent assistant manager whose shift started at seven o’ clock every Monday morning.
His name had burned into Erik’s mind ever since Charles had stood up from behind his fantastically messy desk, peered at him from beneath his spiky brown lashes and said: “Hello, my name is Charles Xavier, what can I do for you today?”
Westminster Bank of the Trust had ensured his loyal and unending business faster than he and his beloved rifle could take out a mark.
Which was why Erik found himself pushing open the glass doors to the aforementioned bank at 9:15 on Monday morning. He’d promised himself this morning, as he’d carefully shaved in front of the mirror, that today was the day he’d ask Charles out on a date. He had already selected five possible social venues.
The bank was busier than normal, but a line hadn’t formed quite yet. Erik nearly growled when he saw Charles was busy helping someone else, a petite black haired woman with beautiful chocolate skin wrapped in a cream sweater. He did growl when Charles threw back his head and laughed.
Erik deliberately walked to the side of the bank, picking up one of the pamphlets on display, as he casually checked over the woman. She’d be an easy mark with her overloud voice, he decided, as he pretended to flip through the glossy leaflet. (“Mortgaging Your Second Home”—maybe that’s what he needed next, a nice little house in the suburbs, one he could pretend to live in, cozy, but not too grandiose for a middling-income-d husband, but no, the commute for Charles would be better where Erik was living now, and much better than the ridiculous apartment Charles rented—not that he’d followed him home or anything. Anyway, everyone needed a professional to case their home to ascertain how secure their floor plan was, and evaluate their security system. Perhaps it wasn’t necessary to break into the neighbor’s to ensure the landlord upgraded the system, but really, who was going to complain about higher-quality alarms and a better response time?)
He watched as Charles gave the woman in question over to Summers, the new employee. Erik watched him warily as he escorted the woman into his new office. Summers had a juvenile record for house-breaking. Erik was currently double checking that the man’s life of crime had stopped at fourteen.
Erik casually sallied up to Charles’s desk. This was his favorite part of the day.
“Good Morning, Mr. Lehnsherr!” Charles’s red-red lips quirked up slightly higher at the sides, brightening into a slightly crooked little smile just for him. Erik just wanted to kiss it right off his lightly freckled face.
“I’d like to see my box today.” Erik tried annunciate and not to mumble. As mortifying as it was, it had happened before. He also tried not to blurt out: “Will you go on a date with me?” in a whine reminiscent of the worst days of adolescence. It was best to wait. It was more socially acceptable to ask Charles out at the end of their business interaction. Erik’s stomach fluttered with nerves.
“Certainly. Did you bring your key today?” It was a valid question. Erik had “forgotten” two weeks ago, and had to return close to lunch hour. That was when he’d forced himself to reevaluate how fond he was of his bank while gun cleaning. Lehnsherr, “the Red Death”, forgot nothing.
Erik held up the item in question in response. “Very well, let’s head back then!” Charles retrieved his own key on its lime green curly ring, and started to lead the now familiar way.
“How has your morning been, sir?” Charles asked brightly, as he unlocked the door to the room of safety deposit boxes by swiping the key card around his neck and entering his pin.
“Pleasant,” Erik replied. He tried not to stare too obviously at Charles’s backside as Charles pushed the heavy door open in front of them. If he succeeded in inducing Charles to go out with him, then in all hope he might be able to run his palms over that beautifully rounded derriere on perhaps a third date. Erik tried not to imagine how absolutely perfectly the two cheeks would fit in his cupped palms if he could hitch Charles up into a kiss.
“That’s wonderful to hear,” Charles said as he held the door for Erik to enter. “Now, as I’m sure you remember, you have fifteen minutes before I return to collect you.” Charles slid his key into the safety deposit box, before gesturing for Erik to do the same. Together they turned. Erik’s box slid open.
“I’ll leave you to it, then.” Charles smiled again, before turning to leave the room. Erik tried not to imagine the whole line of Charles’s back naked as he badly pretended to fiddle around in his lock box.
At the ten minute mark, Erik had rearranged the contents of the safety deposit box to his satisfaction (The shell casing from his first kill, a well-worn book of poetry inherited from his mother, an earring he’d once worn before realizing it made a too obvious identifying mark, the leather glove he’d worn the first day he met with Charles). Or rather, Erik had convinced himself to buck up, be a goddamn man, and just ask Charles out for the evening. He took a deep breath and closed the safety deposit box, before groaning and banging his head against the wall of them. Fuck. He was a spineless coward.
And then the muffled, but unmistakable sound of bullets rent the air.
Erik’s hand shot to his lower back holster before he realized that the bank’s metal detectors ensured that this was the only place Erik ventured without a weapon. “Fuck,” he snarled, before he realized Charles was out there, gallivanting at risk out in the hallway.
Erik sprinted for the doorway, bursting out of the box room, jerking his head side to side, desperately searching for Charles. (Idiot, not even checking the corners first for a gunman in the hallway—a rookie mistake, he scolded himself.)
He almost ran into Charles as he was frantically punching a code into the door keypad. Charles wobbled with the force from their collision, before Erik’s arms shot out around Charles to steady him. “Charles,” his mouth blurted, with no input from his brain whatsoever, “Would you like to—”.
The arching of Charles slightly bushy brown eyebrow cut Erik off. He realized his hands had moved without his permission, one of them cupping possessively around Charles’s shoulder blade, cradling the slight edge of bone under flesh, while the other was gently stroking the space two inches from Charles’s spine, gently running a light trail from Charles’s last rib to the gentle sway that started the rounded curve of his ass. All while they were standing oblivious and uncovered in the middle of a hallway during a bank robbery!
Unacceptable. Erik fiercely quashed the small part of him wriggling with glee at the feel of Charles’s flesh beneath his suit jacket. It felt like it belonged underneath his fingertips.
Erik hardened his grip on Charles and started to manhandle Charles down the hallway. He had to get Charles out of the danger zone. He mentally called up the blueprints he’d illicitly procured and meticulously memorized of the bank. There was an exit there, through the adjoining hallway, that if he could get Charles down and out before they were discovered, he just might be able to herd Charles into his car and off the scene.
“What are you doing?”, Charles hissed at him, low and quiet, dragging his heels into the carpeting, and sinking his fingers sharply into Erik’s upper arms. For a second, their progress down the hall came to an abrupt halt, Charles leather shoes doing an excellent impersonation of octopus suckers against the floor. “Are you one of them?!?” He sounded harsh and betrayed.
“I’m getting you out of here,” Erik murmured, as he flexed his arms and brought Charles’s body briefly off the floor. Charles thrashed mid-air, and Erik considered slinging him over his shoulder. It would slightly unbalance him, but it would hardly slow him down, with the molasses-slow rate they were currently going. “And—what? No. Hardly. With the way they’re wasting ammunition?” His voice was scandalized. Erik was hardly incompetent, and petty bank robbery was utterly beneath him.
“We can’t leave them!” Charles whispered fiercely, sending out hand to grip a passing doorway. “Alex hasn’t had his Robbery Training yet! He doesn’t know what to do!” Erik slipped Charles’s grip off the frame, trying to catch the grabby fingers of Charles other hand before he could clamp onto something else.
Charles started to wriggle in his grip again, and Erik decided abruptly. Overbalanced or not, over the shoulder would do. Moreover, then he could rest his hand on Charles’s bum, in order to keep him balanced and secure.
Erik dropped a shoulder down to catch Charles in the middle when his ears heard the unmistakable sound of a gun cocking behind him.
“Get down. On the Ground.”