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Peppered Eggs

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Usually, one would be fazed in the presence of Charles Xavier, celebrated three Michelin star chef and owner of “The Portly Pudding,” one of the most acclaimed restaurants in New York.

Sadly, Erik Lehnsherr is one of those people. Or at least, he thinks he would be, in two hours time.

He’s studied every Xavier recipe available in print, committed every last ingredient and its measurement to memory in hopes of earning one of the most respected jobs in the city.

Nobody’s actually seen Mr. Xavier’s face. It has neither appeared on any of his cookbooks nor in magazine interviews. The only available information on him is that he’s English, but grew up in somewhere in America, and that’s from hours upon hours of extensive Googling.

No one knows what kind of person he is, whom he’s related to, or where he gets his inimitable dish ideas. Still, he’s a notable icon in the culinary world and no one will ever dare question him.

If anything, that makes him all the more intimidating, and that’s coming from Erik Lehnsherr, proud sociopath; special abilities include cleaning via the hides of his little forest friends and a grin that puts a shark’s to disgrace.

He probably didn’t have the best reputation.

Erik spent day and night going over every paragraph, taking note of every detail. His appointment’s scheduled at the ungodly hour of seven, while the city slumbers on, save the elderly, half-naked men doing yoga in the park and sunlight loving hipsters. He’s been half awake; making sure every inch of him is spotless and impeccable. He’s put extra effort into his clothing today: a newly bought black turtleneck and russet, leather pants. His ginger scruff is trimmed just enough to pronounce his cheekbones and jaw. It’s his usual getup, but spruced up a tad more by his gelled hair and polished shoes. Hopefully, it’s enough to at least catch Mr. Xavier’s attention.

He makes a quick breakfast of French toast and cinnamon orange marmalade (homemade, Mr. Xavier’s recipe) and switches on the early morning news with a flick of his index finger.

He’s had the ability to control metal for as long as he can remember, having inherited if from his father’s side. He knows many others with mutations, but none that were like his. Most of his colleagues had food-related mutations like temperature manipulating or retractable bone claws (which instead of using in combat, is now a portable, handy cleaver.)

There’s nothing interesting on the news this morning; oil price hikes, hobos claiming orphaned celebrity children, human protests against mutants, the usual.

Normally, he would be annoyed at that last bit– he’d joined mutant-human equality demonstrations when he was younger, but has long since stopped to focus on his cooking– but he couldn’t because of the nervousness bubbling painfully in his stomach.

Hopefully, Mr. Xavier isn’t arrogant enough to turn him away just because he’s self-trained home cook.

6:20- He dumps his plates in the sink, reads through his notes one last time, and grabs his car keys from the small metal tray on his way out.

He switches everything off and locks his door, securing every bit of metal just so. Beaubier’s in the hallway, one of the few people who don’t think he’s a wereshark who feasts on children’s toes during full moons. Erik greets him with a smile and offers to fix the pipes he’s been nagging to the tenant. That earns him a hearty thank you and a blatantly lascivious invitation to “dinner.” He declines, obviously, but does agree to a drink sometime. He’s going need it if this week doesn’t go as planned.

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Erik loves summer; when the sky’s blazing hot and energizing, motivating him to move and be more productive. He loved that it was too hot for most NYC dwellers to come out, lest they freckle their delicate porcelain faces.

So naturally, the possibly most important day of his life falls on a chilly, rainy day with everyone out and about. There’s a reason why he didn’t believe in some form of higher power in the skies.

He did a quick, routinely check on his car and went off. The establishment was only three blocks down, but his grandmother’s accented German echoes in his head, telling him that he could rob a bank or frequent strip clubs, but he must never ever be late.

Lehnsherr is usually confident behind the wheel, having learned to drive when he was only fourteen, but today, his palms are sweaty and his knees trembled slightly. He’s never dreaded and wanted something at the same time so badly.

He arrives in front of the restaurant five minutes before he’s due. He gives the building a once-over, admiring the intricate jade green and gold details on the doors and walls. The restaurant had a modern yet slightly Victorian exterior. For all its awards and reviews, The Portly Pudding was modest. It didn’t require overly formal clothing or snooty patrons. Maybe a bit pricey for the average New Yorker, but so are Panerai watches, and no one complains about those, so shut up and sit down.

A man abruptly runs toward his right shoulder and they both tumble to the ground. Before Erik could help him up, (or curse at him loudly in German) a hasty apology was muttered and the man ran off inside the building. Erik only got a glimpse of brown hair and a hideously blue argyle scarf to identify him by. Shrugging, he made his way inside as well.

The interior is more sophisticated, but just as beautiful. There’s a grand piano on a pedestal, right in the middle of everything. The tables are arranged far enough to move around in, but close enough to give a more casual feel. Wallpaper and flooring are simple, in contrast with the few but tasteful paintings and sculptures. The room overall is aesthetically pleasing, with a sandalwood-like scent wafting through the air, absorbing the aroma created by the chefs doing their early morning mise en place.

Erik sits on one of the plush dining chairs as he patiently waits for Mr. Xavier’s arrival. Instead, a young blonde woman approaches him with a clipboard and a bad attempt to conceal impatience. He briefly wonders if Mr. Xavier is actually a pseudonym, but dismisses the thought. An interview confirmed that he’s a young, English male who acts too old for his age. Lehnsherr highly doubted this woman to be said young, English male.

“Erik Lehnsherr?” She says.

He nods. “Hi, I’m Raven Darkholme. My brother is unavailable right now, but I’ll do your interview in his place.”

She hands him the clipboard and a pen she seemingly conjures out of thin air. It’s only then he notices the woman’s slightly burnt hands.

“I’m afraid some work needs to be done in the kitchen. Charles’s doing some sort of experiment and needs constant supervision lest he burn this place down. If you need me, feel free to knock on that door right there. Okaythanksbye.”

With that, Erik is left alone with a clipboard and a sense of anxiety that should worry him more than it does.