It was all Hank’s fault. Though it was an accident, everyone including Hank himself still thought that it was Hank’s fault.
It was a terrifying sight when Raven ran into the lab after hearing the explosion, with Alex and Sean followed closely on her heel, to see Hank stood dumbfounded over two small kids who were sitting among the pile of clothes that was too big for them, looking confusedly at each other. The two kids looked strangely like Erik and Charles, the very younger version of Erik and Charles. The Charles-like kid still had Cerebro’s helmet on his head, though it seemed to be too big for him now.
Raven was the one who recovered from the shock first, “Can anyone tell me what the hell happened here?”
Hank winced at the sharp voice while the kids seemed to come out of the trance and looked around for the first time since everyone else had rushed into the lab. It was Hank who answered hesitantly, “I don’t really know what happened. We were running a test on the new prototype of Cerebro as usual. Charles was operating it and Erik was with him in the lab while I went to prepare the computer in the connecting room for the result. Then I heard a small explosion and hurried back here, and saw them sitting there, just like that.”
“Well, Charles? What happened?” Raven turned to the smaller version of Charles. Though they looked like seven or eight years old kids now, but from the outline of their faces and the clothes that were now hanging loosely on their bodies, she was quite certain that they were Erik and her brother.
Charles blinked up at her and spoke in his small voice, “I don’t know. I was trying to start Cerebro when we noticed that the cylinder was emptied. So Erik helped retrieving it from Hank’s cabinet.” Charles turned to face Hank and continued solemnly though still bewildered, “I told him to bring the serum from the same shelf that you used to keep it. After he injected the chemical into the system and I powered up Cerebro, the chemical inside became a weird color and started boiling. And then … then I don’t quite remember anything except the explosion.”
He looked at Erik who was now being more interested in his too big turtleneck than the others who gathered around them, before turning attention to the other pieces of his cloth. “I don’t know what happened to Erik because he was closer to the cylinder when it exploded. He hadn’t spoken anything yet.” Charles said worriedly, which would look quite hilarious in other situation for those words to come out of a child’s mouth.
Nobody knew what to say. When the silence continued, Erik seemed to become aware of the world around him and looked up from his cloth inspection. He looked curiously at Charles and opened his mouth for the first time. “Where are we? And why are we wearing too big clothes like this, Charles? Why is everyone looking at us like that?”
Charles felt both relieved and worried at the same time. He was relieved because Erik recognized him and the others, but was quite worried at his obliviousness of the incident that had just happened to them. He was afraid that there might be something really wrong happened to Erik. Not that Charles himself was normal now, but at least he still remembered what happened. Erik seemed to have no clue of what had just occurred to them. It looked like he became a kid both physically and mentally. Charles looked at Hank and knew that the blue-furred mutant seemed to think along the same line as him.
“What happened, Hank?” Charles locked his gaze with Hank. “Aside from Erik and I became children apparently, why didn’t he remembered anything while I can recall what happened.” Blue fur or not, Hank became obviously pale and he hurried to the cabinet that Charles mentioned earlier. When he reached the shelf, he slapped his own forehead so hard that everyone jumped at the sound. “Oh, no no… Dear god .. no.” Hank wailed.
“What!” Alex asked impatiently.
Hank turned to them and said shakily, “I think I know what might have happened.”
“Will you just tell us already?” Raven snapped.
“Last week, I’d done some experiment about my .. uh .. cosmetic problem. I believed that if I create a de-aged serum, I might be able to revert my cells back to normal. It might not return me completely to my old self but at least the blue fur might be gone.” Hank looked embarrassed. He did not meet anybody’s gaze the whole time. “Not that I’m not proud and all, but sometimes, .. just some of the times, I just feel like going outside like other normal people do.”
Everybody was silent after Hank’s revelation. Raven seemed to cool down a bit, she asked him gentler than her last question. “But what happened Hank, what did the de-aged serum have to do with this?”
“I .. uh .. I might have put my serum on the same shelf as Charles’ serum for Cerebro. In my hurry, I forgot to label it, and I didn’t expect anyone else to come near that shelf except Charles. So, when Erik fetched the serum for him, he certainly didn’t know that it’s the wrong one. As for Charles, I imagined that he couldn’t really tell the difference from where he stood on the platform since both had quite similar shade of color, when you look from a distance that is.”
“Of course, and I had no reason to suspect that it was the wrong one because I didn’t know about your de-aged serum. Great!” Charles stated with a heavy sighed.
Erik looked up at him and eyed the helmet curiously, “That helmet is funny, why did you put that on? Can I have a look?”
Charles took off the helmet and handed it to Erik half-heartedly, “Of course.”
“Thanks,” Erik said and started to pluck at the wires and push the buttons on the helmet interestedly.
“Yes, I’m so sorry. The de-aged serum might have reacted violently to Cerebro’s electrodes. It seemed not only to cause the explosion but also enhance the effect of the de-aged serum in a very different way. And I don’t know, may be because you guys were being in that close proximity, I assumed that it caused both you and Erik to become children physically.” Hank theorized.
“But why did Erik remember nothing!” Charles became more frustrated.
“I think it’s because he got the full blast of the serum, and it might covered him from head to toe. But you had the helmet on. That’s the only reason I believe you still did not forget anything, yet.” Hank replied, trying to look everywhere else except at Erik and Charles.
“Oh, great,” Charles said resignedly.
There was a long silence after that, which was ended when Sean asked, “So, what do we do now.”
Raven came back down to the kitchen to find the others were still in their positions just as they were before she left with Charles and Erik. Alex was sitting at the table looking at his own hands while Sean was leaning against the counter with a soda can in one hand. Hank, however, stopped pacing and looked up suddenly when Raven entered the kitchen.
“They’d gone to sleep now. I couldn’t believe how incredible they are when they became children like this. Charles insisted that they had to take a bath before going to bed. Erik wanted to take a bath too. I let them into the bathroom together because Erik wouldn’t leave Charles’ side while I went in search for some of Charles’ old clothes for them to change. When I came back, they managed to fill the bath tub and mixed in the liquid soap. Bubbles and water were splashed all over the place.” Raven told them with a heavy sigh at the end. She sat down at the table with Alex and turned to address Hank who was still standing behind the counter. “I think after taking off the helmet, Charles started to act as child-like as Erik too. So, what do you think happened to him now?”
Hank started pacing again, wringing his hands in the process. “I had thought it might be like that. Although Charles didn’t get the serum full-forced, eventually it would enter his system. As you said that he started to act weirdly like Erik, I believed it finally got hold of his system. We might have to prepare to deal with two kids for a while.” Hank said thoughtfully, “In fact, I’m quite certain now that they will remember none of their lives as adults. They might just think that they both are children from the start.”
As the weight of the situation sank in, each of them reacted differently. Hank started mumbling something suspiciously sounded like a very complex chemical formula while pacing incessantly. Sean and Alex looked at each other for a moment before their expressions became devilish. Huge grins spread across their faces. Raven swore that she almost heard the mischievous plan going on in their silent communication.
Raven looked like she wanted to be sick at the thought of having to babysit Erik and her older brother. She was never good at taking care of others before, let alone a little kid. That was Charles’ job and he had always done it superbly. But she did not see any way out of this. She certainly would not let Charles and Erik anywhere near Hank’s lab again until Hank could fix them. So apparently she could not entrust them to Hank’s care because she was certain that Hank would not emerge from his lab until he found a way to revert his serum’s effect. And while Alex and Sean could be useful in playing with the children, she would not be stupid enough to totally leave them in their care, seeing the manic glints in their eyes and all. Great at taking care or not, she was still quite protective over her brother.
Raven felt migraine started to develop in her head, and decided that she need to sleep as well, before having to deal with anything tomorrow might bring. But before leaving, she turned around to the others and said quite sternly, “Hank, I believe you know the seriousness of what had happened and will try to find the remedy as fast as you can.” Hank gulped.
“As for you two,” she turned to look at Sean and Alex, “Don’t even think for any destructive activities you might try to lead them into. They are merely kids now, and I doubt that they have any abilities at this age, any devil you might have thought of, just try to keep it inside your own heads. You know what I could do to you guys when I’m really upset, right.” With that, she departed, feeling rather satisfy with her threat and the looks of horror on the other boys’ faces.
Charles felt like there was an ant climbing up his left arm, but he still did not want to wake up yet. So, he just batted it away with his other hand, and turned to the other side with both eyes still closed. Settled in for a mere minute, the ant came back again. It crawled up his neck and almost reached his ear when he tried to squash it more fiercely than before. He thought he heard a voice behind him too, someone was giggling on the bed behind him. That was odd, ant could not giggle. So he turned around and opened one eye to peek curiously. Erik was kneeling behind him near his pillow and was trying to muffle his giggle with both hands.
“Get off! I’m still sleepy.” Charles complaint while started to doze off again.
“Come on Charles! The sun is already up and the sky is so clear. Let’s go out!” Erik shook Charles, trying to get him out of the bed.
“Ummhh! Ten more minutes.” Charles mumbled into his pillow.
“Come on. If Raven came, we won’t have a chance to go out. You heard what she said last night.” Erik insisted.
Charles’ eyes blinked open at the mention of Raven’s name. Memory of last night came back. Though he did not know why he could not remember anything much beyond that, Charles remembered that Raven looked quite annoyed when she saw Erik and him play-fighting in the tub. It was so much fun with all the bubbles. They even invited her to join them too, but Raven just covered her face with her hands and, after a long moment coupled with a heavy sigh, told them to get out before they caught colds. She also said something weird to Charles while helping them dried and dressed. She said she could not understand why Charles had changed too, despite being so adult-like a few moments earlier. Charles looked at Erik who shrugged and show no sign of understanding at Raven’s words. So, Raven just told them to go to bed and tried not to act so childish. Again, they did not really know what that was supposed to mean. They were still children after all, what was wrong with being childish, and how could she expect them to act otherwise.
But Charles was certain of one thing, and Erik seemed to have the same thought too, that there was a high chance that Raven would not allow them to go outside and play any game that they would want to play outdoor. Charles was completely awake from that thought. “Okay, let’s go. But I need to pee first.” With that, he climbed down the large bed that he shared with Erik -- since Erik would not want to be in his own room, it was too big and scary, he said; and his bed was too big even for the two of them staying together anyway -- and hurried to the bathroom. Erik climbed down from the bed as well. His grin became wider when he thought about the games that he plan to play with Charles’ today.
Sean looked up from his cereal when Raven and Hank walked into the kitchen. Hank was trying to reassure an irritated Raven about something.
“But then, where’d they gone? I looked in the bathroom and everywhere they could possibly go in the mansion, but I couldn’t find them.” Raven said fretfully.
“What happened?” Alex asked from where he stood behind the counter.
Hank turned to them as if he just realized that Sean and Alex were there as well. “Raven went to wake Charles and Erik. She found the door locked and there was no answer when she tried and knocked the door several times. She had to use the key to open it and found that the kids were all gone. So, she was a bit freaked out.”
“Relax, Raven,” Alex said. “There’s probably nothing to worry about. They might just go to play outside.”
“But then, why did they have to lock the door after they left,” Raven said frustratingly.
“May be that’s just their childish thought. They might want us to believe that they were still asleep and won’t bother them while they went outside and had some fun. You know. My younger siblings always sneaked out of their bedrooms early to play before mom called them in for breakfast,” Sean told the others from his own experience. Since Sean might be the only one among them who had had quite a normal family life as a child, no one really had anything to say against him.
“Just calm down, okay? We’ll go and find them for you.” Hank tried to calm Raven down, as he turned to nod at Alex and Sean and followed them out of the room.
“Are you sure you know how to ride? It’s quite big.” Charles asked doubtfully as he watched Erik dragged a two-seater bicycle out of the garage’s storeroom at the back of the mansion. It looked like a bike for kid, a taller kid than Charles that is. Though Erik might easily straddle it with both feet firmly on the ground, Charles doubted that he would be able to do so, seeing that Erik was quite taller than him.
“Of course, it’s not that difficult. You can sit at the back.” Erik replied confidently. “Come on, let’s go.” Erik said as he straddled the bicycle and prepared for Charles to come on board. When he managed to climb up the back seat, Charles did not know where to put his hands. He settled on grasping Erik’s waist instead of holding on to his shoulder because it was too high for him.
Still unconvinced, Charles asked Erik again one more time, just to be sure. “Did you ever ride a bike like this before?”
Erik turned back to look at Charles, “I never ride with someone else sitting with me before, but I’m sure I can ride it well enough. Don’t worry, I won’t let you fall.”
Despite his anxious, Charles beamed up at Erik and said, “I know you won’t.”
Erik grinned back at him and asked, “Are you ready?”
Charles yelled enthusiastically, pumping his little fist in the air, “Yeah, let’s find out.”
When Alex and Sean reached the corner near the garage at the back of the mansion, they heard a combination of laughter and joyous shriek going on. They hurried around the corner and saw Erik and Charles on a bicycle still in their pyjamas. Erik was speeding along the driveway while Charles stood on the footrest of the back seat behind him. Charles was clutching Erik’s shoulder with one hand, waving his other hand around excitedly, and cheering Erik to go faster. Both their cheeks flushed in pure delight.
Alex and Sean looked at each other amusedly before walking down to meet them. Charles saw them first. He called out to them and waved his hand wildly. Even Erik was also waving one hand at them excitedly. They laughed merrily when they came to a stop in front of Alex and Sean. Sean tousled their hair, amused by their simple delight, “Cool!”
“Do we have to go back now?” Charles asked them, his face flushed from their wild riding session but he was still smiling widely.
“Actually, Raven was almost having a heart attack when she couldn’t find both of you in the room.” Alex told them, but he hurriedly added when he saw Charles’ face fell. “But I guessed just a few more minutes wouldn’t hurt.”
Both Charles and Erik grinned wildly, with a chorus of “Yes!” Charles practically beamed at them and turned to Erik, “So it’s my turn now.”
Erik’s face fell a bit when he said, “uh … Charles, are you sure?”
Charles pouted, “Why not, I can ride a bicycle too.”
Erik quickly said, “No, I mean you never ride a bike with someone else before, right? And this one is a bit big for you.”
“Yes, so was you, and you could do it. So, I can do it as well.” Charles said and looked pleadingly at Erik. “Come on, Erik, please. Let me try it, just this once.”
No one could resist the pleading puppy-eyed look from Charles. Erik was no exception. So a moment later, Alex and Sean found themselves walking anxiously beside the bicycle, ready for it to turn over any minute now while Erik was bravely sitting in the back seat, hands tightly clutched at Charles’ waist. His face looked as resigned to his fate as an eight-year old could do.
Wobbling left and right for the first few tries, Charles managed to pedal ahead a lot straighter, to everyone’s relief. Erik relaxed his death grip on Charles’ waist a bit and started to enjoy the feeling of the wind blowing in his hair as their bicycle picked up speed. Charles’ joyful laughter rang clear in the air, Erik joined him merrily.
“That’s wonderful!” Erik cheered delightedly. “Now, let’s go for that tree.” Erik pointed at the big tree that stood slightly downhill from where they were. Charles promptly followed his direction.
The bike went faster as Charles sped down the path, encouraged by Erik’s cheer and his own thrill. Then, all of a sudden, many things happened before Alex and Sean could even blink or think to react properly.
A robin, who might have been annoyed by the kids’ tumultuous noise or might just freaked out and tried to protect her chicks in the tree nearby, decided that the kids on the speeding bike were a threat to her nestlings and needed to be chased away. So she flew right towards them and tried to peck them in warning. As soon as Charles saw a bird flew straight at them, his instinctive reaction was to lift a hand to cover his face. The moment Charles released his hand, their bicycle abruptly veered to the side, causing him to panic and tried to regain the balance by steering the handle to the opposite direction. It was the very instinctive reaction for any kid to do something like that, but the very bad reaction indeed.
The result was quite as anyone could have expected. The bike lost balance and turned over suddenly, causing both boys to fall with it. Erik was trapped under the bike while Charles tumbled down the slope until the big tree stopped him. When he recovered from the initial shock, Erik quickly looked around for Charles and saw him laid face down beside the tree. Forgot all pains on his own legs, Erik hurried to Charles’ side, gently grabbed the smaller boy and turned him up to search for any injury.
Charles’ eyes flickered open when Erik cradled him on his lap. He was too stunned to be saying anything. After a moment, he seemed to register the pain on his forehead and reached up to touch the spot. His eyes became watery and a small quiet sob left his red-lipped mouth. Erik touched the lump that became quite obvious on his forehead and tried to comfort him, “Hush now, it’s alright. It’s just a small lump. Are you hurt anywhere else? Are your legs hurt too?” Charles shook his head slowly, still sobbing but not much now that Erik soothed him by stroking his hair tenderly.
When Alex and Sean reached them, Charles stopped crying though his eyes were still wet. “Oh, that was quite a lump on your head.” Sean exclaimed. “Cool!” he added in a weird attempt to find a way to cheer the kids up.
Alex frowned at him and tried to ignore him by turning to check on the boys for any other wound that they might have. Besides the lump on his forehead, Charles looked unharmed anywhere else. When he looked down at Erik’s legs, he saw a small cut in the boy’s left shin which might have been caused by the bike’s pedal when it fell over him. But the kid seemed oblivious to his leg wound as he continued to pet Charles’ soft hair to comfort him.
“Come on, let’s get you boys back to the mansion so that we can take care of your injury,” Alex told them.
Erik helped Charles got to his feet while Alex went to retrieve the bicycle. Sean looked at the smaller boy and asked him mischievously, “Hey, who want a piggyback ride?”
Charles’ eyes light up at the question. “Can we really ride on your back?”
“Of course,” Sean answered. “But just one at a time, okay?”
“Yes, okay,” Charles replied and turned to grin widely at Erik. “Let’s go. Erik, you go first. Your leg hurts.”
“No, I’m fine, you go first.” Erik insisted.
“Don’t worry boys, we still have Alex here.” Sean winked at them and turned to call Alex. “Hey, Havok, we need another ride here.”
Alex left the bike on the side of the driveway and headed back towards them. “I’ll come back for that later, then.”
Sean turned to the kids, bowed deeply and teased them, “My little princes, your humble rides are ready at your service.”
Charles and Erik laughed delightedly, all pains forgotten as they climbed up Sean’s and Alex’s back and raced them toward the mansion.
Raven put the antiseptic back in the first-aid kit after taking care of Erik’s wound. She was quite alarmed when she first saw Charles’ forehead and Erik’s leg. After several reassurance from both boys that they were really fine, with Alex and Sean mumbled the same words in the background since they did not quite dare to directly face the wrath of Raven who was still glaring dagger at them, Raven had cooled down a bit.
She, however, had them promised her that they would not sneak out on their own again and would not try to break their own necks or bones playing reckless thing like that ever again. Erik tried to protest that they were not reckless, but it was the bird’s fault. Charles seconded him and asked Alex and Sean to back them up. Sean opened his mouth but Raven’s glare closed it again. Alex was wise enough to say nothing, just nodded along.
At last, Raven sighed and told them to get change and had breakfast. When the boys were gone, she turned to Alex and Sean, who braced themselves for an outburst that was certain to come their way. But Raven did no such thing. In fact, she just gave them a tired smile and went to sit on the nearest couch.
“I haven’t seen Charles that lively, you know, back then when we were kids.” She told them. “Though I met him when he was older than this, I knew that his early childhood was never a great one. No kid should have a life like that. He was rich, but with no one to really care for him, not even his own mother.” Raven’s tone became depressed when she talked about the past.
She thought back to the first time she saw this mansion, as a little girl, stood in awe at the mere sight of the building. She remembered feeling jealous of people who lived here and thought that they must be happy and had anything they’d ever wanted. But when she really met Charles, he seemed too serious and solemn for a kid his age. He also seemed to be so lonely. She let out a small chuckle when she remembered their banters since they were young, “I always teased him that I’m his only friend in the world. But it seemed he’d found a new partner for himself now. I’m really happy for him.”
“Not everyone had a chance to be a kid again, you know,” Sean grinned at her.
“Yeah, I supposed so,” Raven sighed.
“Since both their childhoods were quite boring,” Alex said with poker face, “May be we could give them a chance for real fun.” With that, they all grinned.
“What have I missed?” Hank asked bewilderedly as he just came into the room.
First of all, thanks so much to those who gave kudos and comments and read this fic. It means so much to me :)
In my hurry, I forgot to mention in the last chapter that there was a scene that was written in honor of the very famous “Golf Cart Escapade.” Though I do believe that most of us Cherik/Mcfassy fans might had already related that scene to the said incident without any difficulty at all. This chapter will also have some references to the real life interviews as well :D
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hank walked into the kitchen to join the others when they were halfway through dinner. Charles and Erik looked up at him interestedly. They had not seen him much around the mansion since Hank hardly left his lab while he was still working on the way to revert the disastrous effect of his serum.
Alex greeted him first, “Hey, Beast. Come out of your cave now?”
Hank glared back at him while the kids giggled. “I thought I might be able to think of something else more creative if I just stop thinking of what I had been thinking too much for a while.”
Sean looked baffled, “Wow, I think you just need to relax, okay?”
Hank blushed, which can be seen as two darker spots on his cheeks, when he realized the gibberish he had just uttered, “I suppose so.” He sidled off to the fridge to find something to drink instead.
“Oh Hank, I almost forgot. Could you do me a favor? If you have some times to spare that is.” Sean asked him.
“Sure, what do you want? I could do with some distractions.” Hank replied.
“It’s my suit. The wings got caught in some branches last time that I tried to land too close to the mansion. So, some parts were torn off.” Sean said. “So, if you don’t mind, I might need a new suit or you could repair the old one, so that I can practice my flying soon.”
Charles and Erik suddenly looked up from their dinners. Their eyes met, and two identical excited, mischievous grins spread across their faces. Hank and Sean were not yet aware that they had unintentionally attracted full attention of the two kids in that room now. They were still discussing about the possible new design for Sean’s suit, with some materials that Hank had just invented that might be lighter and easier to control, when Raven noticed the kids’ unusual silence and watched them closely. The impish hints in their eyes were no mistake. She could literally smell the impending troubles. So, she cleared her throat meaningfully a few times and looked pointedly at the kids when Hank and Sean finally glanced her way. But needless to say that it was too late now.
“Can you really fly?” Erik asked Sean a bit too excitedly.
“Can you actually make a suit that makes him fly?” Charles asked Hank enthusiastically almost at the same time as Erik asked Sean.
Both Hank and Sean looked extremely uncomfortable at this point, being looked upon with two shiny, hopeful, innocent pairs of eyes.
“Err.. I don’t know. But Sean can fly because of his ability, not just the suit. I just make wings for him to help him fly.” Hank said. “Neither of you can make supersonic sound wave, so the winged suit will not help.”
“But Erik has ability too, show them Erik!” Charles blurted out excitedly.
Erik nodded importantly, “Yes, I can move forks and knifes without touching them.”
“Oh that’s wonderful, can you show us?” Raven’s reply sounded a bit off to Hank, Sean, and Alex. But the kids did not seemed to notice, rather Erik turned to concentrate on trying to move his own fork while Charles cheered him. The fork lifted up from the table for a bit, hovered unsteadily for a moment before it landed on Erik’s waiting palm. Erik looked pleased with himself. Charles looked so proud of him.
“See, I have ability too? So can you make some suit that helps me fly as well?” Erik said to Hank.
“If you can fly, can I come with you too?” Charles asked hopefully.
“Of course, I won’t leave you on the ground alone.” Erik promised.
“Uh ..wait. Kids, I’m still not sure if I can do anything to help you fly or not.” Hank protested.
“You’re genius. I know you can do it. Please?” Charles looked pleadingly at him with his big baby blue eyes that always worked.
“Umm… okay. I’ll try to think of something.” Hank said uncomfortably. Charles and Erik chorused their cheers.
“Why don’t you boys finish your dinner so that we can go to watch cartoon together?” Raven tried to distract them from the topic.
When she finally set them in front of the television with their favorite program, she went back to the kitchen. “So, what do you think?” Raven asked without any preamble, trusted that the others would know what she meant and be just as curious and worried as she was.
“I don’t know. It seems like their powers diminished as they became children.” Alex said with a shrug. “Could be possible, right?”
“It’s possible. I think they might have to learn how to control their abilities all over again. But what worries me was Charles’ ability. He didn’t seem to manifest yet.” Hank turned to Raven and asked her curiously, “Do you remember when did he first show his ability?”
“The first night that I met him here, he scared me with his telepathy because he thought I did something to his mother. It was quite remarkable and scary. But he was a few years older than this.” Raven said, “So, I don’t really know when it first happened to him.”
“I think we shouldn’t worry much about Charles. He’s barely six or seven years old now. So, he still has some time to develop his telepathy.” Sean chimed in from where he still sat with his dinner. “But I think you should try to create something for Erik to help him practice. We all know that his older self has excellent control over metal, though he can hardly lift a fork now. It wouldn’t hurt to have him practice something that he might not have a chance to do when he’s adult. May be some suit that he could wear and lift himself up?” Sean suggested Hank.
“Well, in that case, I may have to think of some special materials for his suit.” Hank replied thoughtfully.
“Great. But who’s the one to train him?” Raven asked no one in particular.
Charles had a really nice dream about flying on the back of a very friendly shark. Though the shark was quite familiar to him, he did not remember where he met that shark. The flying was very pleasant and he was quite irritated when he was pulled out of his dreamland by a knock on the door to their bedroom. He sat up sleepily to see what was going on. Erik was more awake than him and was already on his feet to answer the door.
“Wha…Who is it?” Charles asked drowsily.
“It’s Raven and Hank,” Erik told Charles and then he turned his curiosity to the newcomers and asked “What do you want?”
“Hank had just finished your suit, Erik, and he wants you to try.” Raven explained instead of Hank.
Erik’s eyes lit up and Charles also became more alert than he was a moment ago.
“Can I really fly in that suit?” Erik asked Hank excitedly.
“Of course, if you can control the metal in it. I adapt the X-suits for you and added more steel reinforced fiber to it, so that you can control it.” Hank confirmed him.
Before Erik could reach out and take the suit, Raven intercepted and took the suit herself. “But, I want you two to promise me some things first.” She looked seriously at the two kids.
“Erik, you will first try to practice your flying skill somewhere safe, like try to hover above your bed until you’re really sure that you can control it and can fly around without falling face first from the air. You will not try to do anything reckless that might end up hurting yourself or Charles.” Raven fixed her gaze at Erik to emphasize her seriousness. “And no flying without one of us supervising you.” Erik nodded solemnly.
“And Charles,” Raven turned to the smaller boy who was looking at the suit in awe, “Do you promise that you will not keep badgering Erik into taking you to fly with him.”
This prompted Erik into protesting, “But I want to take Charles with me.”
“Sure you will, but not until we are really sure that you could fly flawlessly.” Raven replied. Charles turned his eyes to Raven and nodded eagerly. “Of course, I won’t”
“Charles! Look at me, I’m flying!” Erik yelled excitedly.
Charles cheered him energetically, “That’s really great, Erik! You’re amazing!”
Sean was amused by the kids’ thrill. What had actually happened for the past two hours was that Erik wearing Hank’s suit and hovering wobbly above their large bed. Sometimes he could manage to hover a few feet clear off the bed with his body upright, but sometimes it seemed like he was trying to swim in the air, arms and legs flailing out of control.
“Tell you what, the trick is to align your body correctly, not flapping your hands around like a duck trying to take off.” Sean gave Erik advice, and earned himself a pout from Erik for calling him a duck while Charles giggled.
“Come on, Erik. Let’s try again. You can do it. I can’t wait to fly with you.” Charles encouraged him. As predicted, Charles’ last words had a good effect on Erik’s concentration, a much better effect than any tricks Sean could give him.
When Sean told Raven over breakfast one morning that he was pretty sure that Erik’s control over his suit was good enough for him to try flying somewhere else. Raven agree that they could practice somewhere outside their bedroom. The safest place for him that they could think of was the swimming pool, and of course, with all available adults floating around just in case.
Erik and Charles were really excited for the change of place. By the time Erik could really start his flying outside the bedroom, it was already evening, when at least three adults were available. They waited impatiently near the pool for Raven, Alex, and Sean. When the three arrived in their swimsuits, Erik prepared himself to take off. Raven quickly stopped him for a moment.
“Wait a minute, Erik. I know how badly you want to go up there, but let’s make it clear that you will only fly above the water, not outside that boundary, okay?” Erik nodded. “And also, please try to fly low first, until we’re certain of your skill and then you can try higher.”
With that, Erik took off a little bit unsteady at first due to his excitement. After a moment of aligning himself, he flew smoothly a little bit above the water. Then, he tried to fly higher and higher until he almost reached the ceiling of the indoor pool. Charles cheered whole-heartedly. Erik was exhilarated and quite proud of himself. Moreover, he was really elated at the prospect of finally being able to have Charles flying around with him.
He landed on the side of the pool where everybody was waiting and cheering him. Sean tousled his hair proudly. Charles hugged him tightly while Alex and Raven both congratulated him on his success.
Erik turned to Raven and asked, “Can I take Charles with me now?”
Raven nodded, “Of course, but please just be careful and don’t overdo yourself.”
At first, they did not go any further than just flying above the pool’s surface. It was a really delighted experience for Charles and he was so thrilled at the mere thought of being able to move around without his feet touching the ground. He urged Erik to go a bit higher and Erik complied willingly.
They flew for more than half an hour, alternating their poses from just holding hands (which looked more like Erik dragged Charles along) to give Charles a piggyback ride (which was quite awkward and not really manageable for very long because Charles’ grip around Erik’s neck was quite tight and Erik had problem breathing at times). The arrangement that Erik thought was the best was a full body embrace (which Erik found that he liked this position the best and Charles had no problem with that either).
Erik knew that Charles was still enjoying the flight and he wanted to make him happy. But the exhaustion began to catch up on him. His concentration on the metal around him began to blur. He did not even notice when they began to fall down at alarming speed. Charles closed his eyes and clutched him tightly. He only uttered, “Erik!” His voice small, he clearly was startled but tried not to panic. Erik came back to himself in time to slow down the fall and not quite smoothly deposited them into the water.
Alex and Sean reached them a second later, and pulled them out of the water to Raven’s waiting arms. She covered them both with large blankets and tried to quickly dry them up.
Erik barely had any energy left. He did not even want to open his eyes. He was aware that Charles was safe, though, and that was enough. He gratefully slipped into the dreamless land with nothing to worry about.
Charles shifted around until he was facing Erik’s sleeping form on the bed when Raven closed the door after she left. He felt so relieved when Hank came to examine Erik and declared that there was nothing wrong with him, except that he just wore himself out from all the exercises. All he really needed was a full night sleep and everything will be okay in the morning.
Though Raven said that it was not his or anyone’s fault, Charles still thought that if he did not encourage Erik too much, he might not use up all of his energy like that. But the delight in flying with Erik was still lingered in his memory. Charles closed his eyes, almost as exhausted as Erik was from all of the events that happened that day. He laid one of his arms across Erik’s chest, and their breaths became one.
Charles awoke when he heard someone screamed. The scream came from somewhere near the doorway. He very much wanted to go back to sleep but the commotion did not seem to fade. So, he had no choice but to open his eyes to see what was going on.
He saw Raven stood at the doorway, gesturing towards the bed where he was sleeping. It looked like she had just dragged Hank in and he heard Hank said something suspiciously like the serum’s power wore off by itself eventually.
He had just noticed that there was someone else on the bed beside him when that someone snorted audibly. Charles turned to see who it was and found Erik’s amused eyes stared back at him. He looked like he had already been awake for a while.
“Good morning,” Erik said in his deep voice, “Wanna fly with me today?”
And Charles grinned back at him.
The pool scene was a bit of a reference from what Michael used to say in one of his interviews. I remember he said that he really thought that he was superman when he was six or seven years old, and he would like to practice his flying in the pool. So, yeah, I added the pool to the fic.
Again, thanks everyone for reading this. I hope you enjoy it.