title: Just a Gentle Whisper
word count: approx. 1570
andom: X-Men: First Class [movieverse], Daycare 'Verse by brilligspoons and pocky_slash
characters: Charles Xavier, Erik Lehnsherr; Scott Summers, Alex Summers, Jean Grey, Katherine Summers, Phil Coulson
notes: A very advanced birthday present for the amazing pocky_slash. Inspired by the events of Daycare 'Verse, with special mention to cradles you and connects you to everything. The imagery in this story is taken partly from this song, In Love With You, performed by Regine Velasquez and Jacky Cheung; and partly from one of my favorite John Lennon songs. Uh, this one's pretty much just Erik introspection and a lot of fluff?
Happy birthday, dearest pocky_slash, and thank you so much for all the lovely stories!
Erik has a bad habit of working all the time, every hour he can spare, and this includes the occasional weekend and the odd public holiday. Sure, there is always the lure of staying at home and wallowing in bad cop shows and his rather extensive collection of mindless B-movies, but there is only so much vegging out that he can take, and he doesn’t mind being all alone in the office because it means peace and quiet and productivity.
And it’s not like Coulson minds that Erik comes and goes at the oddest hours, either – he rather thinks the man actually does understand him, and this is why Erik has more or less permanent access to the office.
Still, it is a public holiday, and he’s allowed to stay in bed long past his alarm, and, hey, why not – he summons his phone and hits speed-dial.
The phone rings, once, twice, and the first thing Erik hears is a blast of traffic, the unmistakable bleating note that he thinks the city must issue to the yellow cabs together with the radio that always seems to be playing either salsa music or NPR (the only reasons why he ever takes cabs).
Charles’s voice, surprised and pleased and happy and also in what seems to be some kind of rush: “Hello, Erik, I’m so sorry I’m in a little bit of a hurry, is something the matter?”
Erik chuckles. “Will you please pause for breath so I know you’re not about to expire from self-inflicted asphyxiation in the next few minutes?”
That gets him a huff, but it also gets him a hearty laugh, so he figures he’s won.
“Erik,” Charles says, warningly, affectionate and teasing. “Is this a social call, or...?”
“I don’t even know why you sound winded,” Erik says. “Didn’t you say you weren’t opening the daycare today? Public holiday and all?”
“That had been the plan,” Charles hedges, and now Erik thinks of that traitorous blush that almost, almost allows him to read the other man’s mind. Charles blushes easily, and tellingly, and maybe Erik ought to think long and hard about the fact that he already knows how to read Charles’s moods and tones so easily and they haven’t exactly known each other that long yet. It occasionally makes his brain hurt to think about it, but right now it only makes him smile to imagine Charles’s ears turning a delicate pink.
“Yes, and?” Erik presses, after he realizes Charles has gone quiet on the other end of the line.
“Yes, well,” Charles laughs. “I find it very difficult to say no to Katherine. I’m out to Central Park with Scott and Jean and Alex for the day. Do you think it’d be appropriate to take them to Strawberry Fields?”
Erik laughs. “That’s a good idea, but you’re not allowed to sing.”
“Excuse me,” Charles laughs, and Erik knows he’s only pretending to be miffed. “And you – what’s got you awake on a day like this?”
“I’m going in to work, actually,” Erik says, honestly. “Had a couple of ideas I thought I’d test out.”
“Oh, that sounds nice,” Charles says, and it might be the particular way he says the words, or it might be just Erik being so besotted with him that he can’t think straight sometimes, but he actually sounds encouraging, and that’s already more than enough incentive for Erik to get out of bed, to get the coffee started, to begin his own day. “I hope you have a good time in the labs.”
“Are you planning to spend the whole day with the children?”
Erik smiles, and he means it, when he says, “You have fun, now.”
He can hear the answering smile in Charles’s voice. “Thank you; I’m sure we’ll all do our very best.”
He’s grinning as he hangs up, and Charles is nowhere nearby, but he can almost recall, with complete and aching clarity, the warmth of Charles’s mind against his, the gentle brush of almost-formed thoughts, and it’s nearly as good as having him there, in his kitchen, in his bedroom, by his side.
Still, there’s another idea brewing in his head, and while he’s soon thinking about the day’s projects he’s also reviewing his mental map of the neighborhoods surrounding Central Park.
Of course, Erik gets badly distracted once he gets to his desk, and when the alarm goes off on his mobile phone he just ignores it for a solid twenty minutes while he finishes tweaking the specs on one of his ideas, and he really needed those twenty minutes.
By the time he surfaces from the haze of his work it’s late in the afternoon, and the sun is beginning to dip towards the truncated New York City horizon and all the buildings around him are blazing golden and brilliant, and the only thing on Erik’s mind is that he has to make it to Central Park in...ten minutes? Fewer than? Is that even possible, he wonders, and he’s throwing on his leather jacket and he’s running out of the building as fast as he can.
There’s a flower shop on the last corner before the Dakota, and he’s surprised he remembers it easily because, hello, allergies. Still, he steels himself and runs in, and he grabs the largest bouquet he sees: bright pink petals spackled with dark red, rust-orange pollen already staining his hands. He’s probably been overcharged for the flowers – he only vaguely remembers asking what they were, and the answer was something strange, “stargazer lilies”, really? – but he thinks it might be more than worth it.
Now if only he can make it to Charles before he starts sneezing, and more importantly before the flowers’ scent is no more than a memory – he tears across the street, trusting his metal-sense to help him dodge the traffic.
The closer he gets the easier it is to pick out the thread of presence that Charles just has; Erik thinks of him sometimes like a magnetic pole all on his own. It’s too easy to home in on him, to point to the warmth and gentle brightness of his mind, and long before he spots Jean’s red hair, a beacon by itself, he’s already smiling and running with an armful of flowers in the general direction of blue eyes and dark brown hair threaded with auburn and copper and silver.
And maybe he’s a lucky bastard after all because Charles gets to his feet and the sprogs are grinning as they splay out in the grass, and when he turns around and smiles and waves Erik swears his heart skips a beat and then he’s skidding to a halt, and he’s holding out an armful of ridiculous and beautiful flowers to the other man, and he’s blinking away tears that have only a little to do with his damn nose. The pollen stains on his hands have just gotten worse and worse, and he’s winded and there’s nothing else he wants in this world.
“Oh, thank you,” Charles says, and he takes the flowers and holds them close. “Erik...I, well, was there a special occasion I missed?”
Erik grins, and tries to catch his breath, and shrugs. “Can’t I give you flowers from time to time?”
“This might be the first time?”
“A good place to start, then,” and now Erik steps in to kiss him. First on the forehead, because he’s weirdly conscious of the Summers kids and Jean watching them keenly, and that makes Charles laugh – so Erik kisses it back into him, a sweet chaste press of mouth to mouth that leaves them both red-faced and stepping into each other’s space.
Charles’s mind twines about the edges of his, nothing intrusive, and Erik welcomes him in, and so he catches a glimpse of Charles’s thought before it even completely forms. Will you mind very much if I left some of these flowers at the mosaic?
Absolutely not, Erik thinks, and he takes Charles’s free hand in both of his. Today all of your ideas have been nothing but good.
Charles’s smile is blinding even as he calls to the children and they surround the two of them with their usual happy clamor, and Erik doesn’t mind it at all when Jean raises her hands hopefully to him – he picks her up and hugs her, and asks her about her day, and Charles offers his hand to Scott, who offers his hand to Alex, and just as they reach the mosaic and the single word Imagine all the lights in the park come on – and Charles keeps just one of the lilies for himself, and lays the rest in the circle.
Even the children are quiet – though Charles smiles and murmurs, Jean is trying to remember if she knows the song.
I do, Erik says.
And so do I, but someone asked me not to sing.
Erik grins, and clasps Charles’s hand around his lily, and they stand there until Charles’s mobile rings and Katherine is on the line, asking after the children. The moment is broken, but not lost, and Erik follows in Charles’s wake, watching him pass through evening shadow and streetlamp light, with the breeze in his hair and the lingering scent of stargazer lilies on his hands.
And he might be a dreamer, Erik thinks, already laughing at himself – but, yes, he knows he’s not the only one.