Chapter 1: the purple stripe
Requested by tony-stark-naked: Charles is a young pupil of the roman senate and Erik is a gladiator.
The boy’s surely never held a weapon before - and Eirikr narrows his eyes as the young man reverently picks up the gladius in its scabbard.
Frail hands that had never known a hard day’s work of fighting in all its dirt and grime and pain, that had never been bloodied or scarred, but those are the same hands that know how to buckle on the belt, and it is one of those hands that draws and the blade is out, steady, pointed downward, and the boy’s stance screams defense, and there’s nothing for it but to step into the ring with him.
Eirikr draws the pugio that never leaves him and something in the back of his head is screaming caution, caution, and he sprints forward into the attack - and the boy laughs and meets him, and the crash of their blades coming together fans Eirikr’s bloodlust and admiration in equal measure.
“Your name,” the gladiator demands, afterwards.
The boy smiles, and there is a strange light in those unearthly blue eyes: “I am Carolus of the Valerii.”
Chapter 2: she walks in beauty
Requested by madsmurf93: Charlotte Xavier works for Lord Shaw and falls in love with his adopted son Erik, it is forbidden love at its finest.
There is always such a pang of fear and terror in her heart when she comes back to her little pallet, because most days she lives for the part where there’s nothing hidden in the straw - and some days, she breaks when she finds a flower tucked into her thin little pillow.
Tonight it’s a tiny blue blossom, something that had once been wild and growing freely beneath the shade of the great linden-trees in the informal gardens - her hands tremble as she puts the flower in her hair, tucked into the ragged black ribbon she uses to tie back her dark red curls, and she has to wait for so long before everyone else is asleep around her and she can slip out of the servants’ quarters, out of the great house and down the slope to the river and the little clearing where the willow-tree was garlanded with green vines.
Master Erik is there, sitting in the hollow of the roots as he always does, and the midnight and the moonlight are in his strange and beautiful and forbidden grey eyes, and he smiles at her, and she has to go to him - because she can’t refuse him, because she won’t, though the price hanging over her head is so hopelessly high.
Charlotte falls into him, her master and her friend and her lover, and each moment slips through her fingers and she wants, she burns with it, and he matches her flame for flame and even when she laughs in response to Erik’s soft words of love, she knows with an ever-growing certainty that there can be no happiness, save that which comes with terror and flight and the thing that he cannot do, which is vanish.
And this is what she believes until the day she becomes the unwilling witness to what Lord and Lady Shaw actually have planned for their ward.
Chapter 3: you rare unearthly thing
Requested by papercutperfect: Charles is a librarian, Erik the lovesick guy that keeps coming back every weekend.
“I was surprised at this circumstance,” Charles read quietly, but with relish, aware of the eyes of the man sitting at a nearby desk, listening intently to his every word - as he had every week, ever since he’d surprised Charles and been just as embarrassed himself, because there weren’t a lot of guys who admitted to liking Jane Eyre, “but still more was I amazed to perceive the air quite dim, as if filled with smoke; and, while looking to the right hand and left, to find whence these blue wreaths issued, I became further aware of a strong smell of burning.”
He got a soft chuckle for that and Charles was fairly sure his ears were burning up because he could feel the heat spreading right to the tips of his hair, and it was all he could do to close the book and turn it over to the man at the desk.
“I - I didn’t want you to stop,” the man said, and he was blushing as well, “I - could I ask you to read some more?”
“I am kind of on the clock, Mr. Lehnsherr,” Charles said, but not unkindly - he was smiling, actually, and he was just about on the verge of reaching out to put a reassuring hand on the man’s arm or shoulder - and he wound up doing just that when Lehnsherr reached up to him, though he looked just as shocked as Charles.
“Later then,” and it wasn’t a question or a request or some kind of aborted statement, just a plea of some kind, and it was too easy to say yes, and Charles had no idea what he was getting into - just that he hoped that it would be something good.
Chapter 4: silver strands
Requested by surfing-the-web: Older!Charles and Older!Wesley talking about their hair....
“Oh, Wesley - what happened to your hair,” Charles murmured in dismay as he came into the hospital room - his twin was a sight, battered and bruised even all around the bandages wrapped from shoulder to waist and wrist; the nastiest marks were around his neck, in the unmistakable shape of a noose.
“So you’re going to focus on that and not on - everything else,” was the sarcastic reply; and then Wesley winced immediately after the words, one hand coming painfully slowly up to touch the hinge of his jaw.
Charles tsked and went to sit down on the edge of the bed next to his twin’s hand - and he reached for him, pulled him in so their foreheads were touching: I know what you’re doing and I know where you go, and I don’t ask you those kinds of questions...I am just worried about the reason why you did that to your hair, you were always so proud of it.
Wesley tried his best to smirk, and thought: It was a disguise - it was some kind of good cause, though I’m fucked if I remember what the cause was - I’ll just have to wait till it all grows back properly.
And afterwards, Charles said, you’ll let me look after your hair, and after you too.
Chapter 5: catwalk blues
Requested by kannibal: Men (Charles and Erik) reading fashion magazines.
“So what do you have in mind for the party, Erik,” Charles said without looking up from the great leatherbound volume taking up most of the space on his desk, “or is this the one where you’ll finally let me show up as this,” and he motioned to his inkstained cuffs and his rumpled shirt.
“You go to all the other parties dressed like that anyway,” Erik said, fondly, and Charles snorted softly and craned up to receive a kiss to the forehead. “Can I not take pride in having you on my arm and dressed up so beautifully?”
Charles laughed and pulled open a drawer in his desk, and threw a battered-looking magazine at the other man: “What about dressing up in that tweed on page 42, the three-piece outfit with the pocket watch?”
Erik was peering critically between the photograph and him, and Charles almost wanted to blush because Erik nearly always had something strange and fun and good in mind when he had that look on his face, but all he said was, “In blue and not gray, and we have ourselves a deal.”
Charles grinned, and said, “See, I can dress myself after all,” and he had to stop himself from throwing his pen at Erik when that got him a laugh that was both sweet and snarky at the same time.
Chapter 6: a little fall of rain
Requested by hellowaveforms: More Fassy and his fair Jamie, please? :D
By the time Michael exited the coffeeshop he could smell the rain coming, a peculiar scent of metal and leaves and the dust on the sidewalks, and he pulled out his phone and began to text as quickly as he could: If you’ve left your place, stop somewhere you won’t get wet and I’ll come to you; if you’re still at home, for my heart’s sake STAY THERE, I won’t have you catching cold again.
Two things happened exactly one minute later: the rain began to fall, bucketing down for all it was supposed to be summer, hard enough that he could no longer see the street and the cars whizzing past; and his phone rang in his hand and it was Jamie’s ringtone.
Michael nearly dropped the coffee and the bag of pastries trying to answer, trying to shout over the sound of the storm: “Please, Jamie, tell me you’re home and dry.”
“Too late - across the street, not that you can see me, though I can see you just fine, stay where you are.”
Michael was torn between chagrin and love as he made out the drenched silhouette walking toward him, walking through the rain, and Jamie’s hair was plastered to her face and her blue eyes were the only color in the washed-out world and she was smiling, soaked to the skin and holding out a hand to him.
Chapter 7: strand of shadow
Requested by onnasannomiya: Heian AU, tengu! Erik and onmyouji! Charles, investigating supernatural goings-on.
He has blue eyes and curling dark-red hair and three long strands of beads wrapped around his right forearm, and he is the youngest of the Emperor’s onmyouji, and the only one with the rank of Most Serene Investigator - and there is one more thing that he has, that he is, written into his skin - a compact that has kept him alive for the past ten years.
He stands outside the ramshackle old house in the Sixth District and he wrinkles his nose, not for the smell of unwashed bodies mixed with animal carcasses, but for the purely dark aura that begins at the broken doors and then extends up into the roiling, muggy Kyoto night, and he doesn’t have long to wait after he touches the fingers of his right hand to the black feather inked into his left wrist - the breeze that blows his way is icy and welcoming.
“A fine mess you’ve almost landed yourself in, little magician,” says a deep voice just behind him - and he just laughs, knowingly, because his companion has never been able to resist a challenge.
“And yet here you are,” the onmyouji says, and he pulls out a fan from one long white sleeve, and when he snaps it open the spells inscribed into the paper begin to writhe and glow into smoky life, soft light breaking through the malevolent darkness.
“I would not be here if not for you - the one whom I pledged to serve,” and the wing that touches his shoulder is black barred with gray, the same gray as the tengu’s grave and fathomless eyes.
“And I will always be glad that you still choose to fight by my side - my night’s beloved.”
Chapter 8: kiss from a rose
Requested by lillian-raven: Charles is the owner of a flower shop. Erik is his customer who buys every week flowers for his girlfriend. Or so he says.
Charles looks up from sorting the baby’s breath - and there the man is again, one of his regulars, a man in a suit and a hat and strange tastes in flowers: there are months when he buys nothing but roses, a different color every week; and there are weeks when he switches from one kind of lily to another - but he always, always asks for the flowers to be bound up in a blue ribbon and the ivory lace tape, tied in the specific butterfly knot that only Charles can tie.
“What’ll it be this week, then,” Charles says, smiling - and he can’t deny that he puts just a little bit of warmth into it, a little more that should be necessary considering he’s just a florist and this customer is probably some kind of important person, judging from the fine suits - but it doesn’t cost him anything to be a little more than polite.
The man smiles, and nods, and says, “Have those blue roses I asked about ever arrived?”
Charles tilts his head in curiosity, and says, “We’ve actually just had some come in - but I’m afraid most of them have been reserved for one of our other customers.”
The man’s face falls, nearly imperceptibly, except that Charles might spend just a little too much time watching his expressions - so Charles smiles, and winks, and hands him just one perfect stem, the blue of the rose darker than his own eyes, and he says, “Here, on the house.”
Chapter 9: double trouble
Requested by natsricebowl: Charles & James brag about their lovers. Erik & Mike brag about their lovers’ skill...in bed.
I can’t believe we’re having this discussion - but all right, and Michael knows that any moment now James will get off the phone and then he’s going to have to leave Erik hanging on an answer, so he has to type as fast as he can: So last night he just - he tied me up, all right, and I’m not going to go into the details here but I’m never ever going to be able to look at J’s hands without going red in the face ever.
The response is nearly instantaneous: Ah, so it’s like that - I envy you all the discoveries, since you said that was the first time you’d ever been tied down that way; C is very good with knots, but he prefers to hold me down with just his words, and he is fiendishly good at it.
“Michael, you about ready to go - what is with your red face,” James suddenly says, and he’s talking rapidly into his mobile phone: “Charles, gotta go, mine looks gobsmacked and I have no idea why - but for the record, wow, I envy you, Erik sounds like one kinky bastard.”
That snaps Michael out of his daze, hard, and he asks, incredulous, “You were talking to Charles - what were you talking about?!”
“How sexy my boyfriend and his are?” And there’s nothing for it but to groan and show James what he and Erik have been talking about, and Michael is never going to live this down, particularly not since the message that comes in right as James starts laughing is this gem from Charles: Michael, if you would like any more ideas, you talk to me first before you talk to Erik :P
Chapter 10: hands to heaven
Requested by wagnetic: Touch-starved.
Charles still has difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is not; five years he’s been trapped in the Shadow King’s circles and in all that time there has been no one but the tattered shreds of illusion-faces and poison-thoughts and he has almost driven himself to the edges of his sanity, purely for his own self-protection, and now that he is in this “safe” house he doesn’t even want to stop and think because that way lies madness.
So he spends his hours huddled in a corner, watching the world pass him by outside the windows - there are people moving, but they make such noise: they laugh at each other and they smile and they talk, and the children play and he almost wishes he could join them, but he still thinks that none of them will hold up to the intense scrutiny of a touch.
Instead he goes when the other calls him - a man, a mutant, a metallokinetic, and the man calls himself Magneto and Erik by turns and Charles finds himself endlessly, helplessly drawn to sad grey eyes and the deep-etched lines around his frown, around his knotted brows - and Charles makes contact with him and Erik doesn’t shiver away into pallid wreathed smoke, isn’t some kind of fever-dream ghost.
Erik touches him so carefully: a hand on his shoulder, or on the top of his head; fingers clasped around his, always so strangely gentle and compelling; the brush of his mind against Charles’s, sweet and sad and distant.
One day, Charles thinks, one day he will gather up the courage to kiss Erik, a poor way of saying thank you, but the only way he knows how - because reality is the touch of scarred hands on his scarred heart, is Erik’s warmth against his skin, is the arms that catch him and hold him close when the nightmares invade his waking hours and threaten to tear him apart.
Chapter 11: secret agent woman
Requested by thoughtsnotunveiled: Erika Lehnsherr, engineer on the top-secret Cerebro Project, meets Charlotte Xavier, FBI Agent (Fringe Division).
The first thing, the important thing, is that it is polite to offer something to a new acquaintance, and Charlotte has inside information that the woman she needs to speak and coordinate with is not at all a morning person and disdains both coffee and tea in equal measure - so Charlotte does the smart thing and she buys two cups of the most divine hot chocolate from her favourite pastry shop and runs into the installation, and it’s ridiculously easy how some things can go from strange to insane in just a matter of moments.
The building housing the Cerebro Project is under siege, and Charlotte is nothing if not trained for combat situations, and the first thing she does is yell for backup and the second is find the person leading the defense - and that happens to be the woman with the dark brown braid and the piercing grey eyes, who is holding off what looks like a group of tentacle-faced aliens with what looks like the laser rifle that had been missing from Charlotte’s own weapons locker - but she can’t begrudge the theft, not when the woman fires shot after shot into the enemy forces and each one she takes out never gets back up.
Charlotte loves nothing more than competence and grace under fire, and she ought to know, it’s something she cultivates - and so she brings her own instincts and reflexes to bear when out of the corner of her eye she sees something moving to flank the woman with the rifle - and it’s easy, strangely, to drop into shooting position and she’s drawing her own sidearm and the enemies go down to a series of precisely placed shots: three perfect Mozambique drills.
“Thanks,” the woman with the braid calls out, “you’ve a good eye, we need people who can shoot and who don’t put holes in sensitive machinery and instrumentation while they’re at it!”
“I do my best, Engineer Erika Lehnsherr - Agent Charlotte Xavier at your service, and when we finish this firefight I hope to heavens the hot chocolate I brought you is still somewhere here,” and Charlotte’s not sure whether to laugh or cry when the woman - Erika - immediately makes a beeline for her position and the desk that she’s defending, the one with the two gingham-patterned paper cups still steaming atop it.
Chapter 12: bring me to life
Requested by lunac7: Wes comes home to Westchester bruised, battered and in need of a wax bath and TLC Luckily, his twin is there to give it to him.
He doesn’t even know how he manages to make it home, considering where home really is - and he’s still startled by it, even now - that he even still has a home, that there is a brother and that this brother looks like him, and that Charles never once judges him for the things he must do; it also completely blows his mind that Charles never asks for mercy or leniency or forgiveness and maybe that’s why Wesley’s learned to love him.
And Charles is the only thing on his mind, he’s shouting it out for any telepaths in the area to hear him, and luckily the person he needs and the person who comes to him where he’s lying spent and broken on the front steps are the same person - strong hands around him, a soothing mental voice; a sweet and inexorable command: Let me take care of this, let me take care of you; I’m just glad you’ve made it home again.
Wesley knows what it’s like to be immersed in steaming hot water, knows that peculiar oily odor that settles into his skin all too well; but he doesn’t give himself over to the wax because there’s something else, something better than that - he can hear, above all the noise in his head and the screaming pain in his nerves, the voice of his other half, the voice that’s telling him everything is going to be all right.
He swims up to the surface of consciousness, eventually, and there are arms wrapped around him, a book on his chest, and the deep breaths of someone close by, closer than Wesley’s own skin and thoughts; a heart that beats as strongly as his, keeping time for him, letting him believe in simple things like being alive and being protected and being with someone.
Sleep, beloved, Charles thinks at him, I’ll be here when you wake up.
Chapter 13: pick me up
Requested by turtletotem: Charles tries the groovy mutation line on Erika.
Erika notices him as soon as she strides up to the bar, and she doesn’t much care for the lift of the bartender’s eyebrow or the stares from the other men who look up from their beers and their cocktail glasses, but she does perk up a little bit when she catches the - well, he looks like a boy so she’ll call him that: strange blue eyes, dark hair threaded through with copper and silver, a red red mouth; and even the harsh overhead lighting of the bar seems to flatter him, seems to bring out both the neat pallor of his skin and the contrast of a thousand freckles scattered over his throat and the back of his hands.
And she’s not really surprised when the boy slides off his seat and waves amiably at the bartender, and she turns to face him, one eyebrow already raised, and she braces herself for whatever lines he might try on her - because of course this is a boy and of course the only things that boys had going in their favor were their various laughably bad pickup lines.
“You’ve lovely grey eyes,” the boy says, “do you know, I always wondered why there was a mutation that produced something so unusual - but looking at you right now, the only word that comes to mind is groovy, the way your eyes shift from colour to colour with every blink.”
Erika does blink at that and nearly swears in amusement and consternation both - because she has no idea what that was, because that was no pickup line but the boy - or maybe the man - really is showing her that strange lopsided sweet smile of his and it’s she who holds out a hand to him, accepting the drink he hands her: her favorite drink, a gin and tonic, with a slice of lemon on top instead of lime, and she says, “My name is Erika.”
“Hello, Erika, my name is Charles - perhaps we can talk for a while?”
Chapter 14: red violin
For papercutperfect, because I told her about my musician!AU idea in which Charles was a violinist and Erik danced ballet.
The violinist is still standing on stage and he should have left a long time ago - but there he is under the spotlight and his blue eyes are a stubborn storm, lit up and fierce, and his mouth is a thin red line of determination - and Erik knows trouble when he sees it, and this boy is going to be a real problem in the next five seconds.
And the boy is staring right at Erik, and that has got to be some kind of smirk on his face and Erik would like nothing more than to smack that expression off his face because this one’s a new student, he just transferred in, and no one has the right to look that smug/challenging, not even Erik and his friends who are already about to graduate and join the world’s leading dance groups.
The boy raises the violin in his hands into a playing position - and Erik starts as the light catches on the strange red hue of the burnished wood, at the boy’s voice: “You can dance, if you want to - I know you know this song, I’ve only been hearing you play it over and over again, and you look like you need the practice.”
Emma goes pale with both amusement and anger; Erik gestures at her, quelling, and she subsides with a pout - and he ignores her pouting, just climbs the steps to the stage and he assumes the starting position; he doesn’t normally have to dance en pointe but he lifts on to his toes easily, and he gives the glare back to the boy, and says, simply, “Play.”
The boy grins at him, malicious and knowing, and once the bow touches the strings Erik has no choice but to dance, and to recognize the sheer monstrous talent in the violinist because no one ought to be able to play this piece at that age, let alone solo - and there’s nothing for it but to give it his all; they storm the stage together, Erik leaping and gliding and whirling and the boy swaying and completely lost to the music.