Winston Churchill said: A man does what he must - in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers and pressures - and that is the basis of all human morality.
Charles, you're the biggest amoral douchebag I've ever met, and that's the only reason I can still be in the same room as you now that I'm old enough to buy my own alcohol.
Summary: They meet on a plane. Charles is smitten and Erik is unimpressed. Then the plane goes down.
Alternatively: Charles may be CEO of a high profile organization and own his own jet, but that doesn't mean said jet will be on the tarmac when he needs it. Erik may have a scowl that would make even the most hardened public servant give him what he wants, but that doesn't change the fact there are no available seats in first class on the flight between Los Angeles and New York City.
Note: I'm fascinated by a Charles who has a wavering definition of right and wrong when it comes to his telepathy, and by "fascinated" I mean I think he is possibly the most charming, hilarious sonofabitch in existence. Be forewarned: Charles will be out of character in that he will be the very definition of the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist that we all know he can be.
Chapter One: Hello stranger, going my way?
The way of airplane sex.
Contrary to popular belief, Charles Xavier did not always have a silver spoon in his mouth. He was born with one, but he found the taste did not always serve him well. He was just as comfortable with plastic during his undergrad years and stainless steel once he was given a research grant for his Master's Thesis, rarely digging into his ample trust fund in an effort to test his resolve and convictions, to live as the other half lived, and to prove to himself that he could make it without throwing money at any problems he encountered.
A man could live on ramen pretty easily, so long as he occasionally showed up at university-funded mixers in order to eat his weight in veggie trays and martini olives. Scurvy wasn't pretty, after all, and while his undergraduate degree from Oxford focused on three interdisciplinary sciences, his degree from LIFE university was in drinking, debauchery and slutting it up. The one thing he would not give up, going so far as to break his self-enforced monetary celibacy for, was travelling. Any travelling would do it, but Charles hated flying, particularly, as there tended to be more stressed out, absolutely terrified on the verge of freaking out people on commercial flights.
Luckily, after his celibate phase, Charles had no desire to somehow connect with the 99% and embraced the fortune left to him by his father, partially squandered by his step-jerk, and re-coffered by his own genius, some smooth investments, and a mutual speed-dial friendship with the only smarter, prettier, richer asshole Charles had the misfortune of knowing.
It was with regret that he learned that the company jet he timeshared with the Xavier Corporation was called back to New York six hours ahead of time for an emergency, leaving him in Los Angeles quite literally holding the bag he had packed for his return flight, standing on the tarmac where his Boeing should be, frowning in confusion beneath the mid-morning sun. With his free hand, he fetched out his cell phone, squinting against the glare to find there had been a missed message warning him of the change of flight times. There had also been two text messages from his personal pilot.
The first said: Emergency change in flight-time. We take off at 6am.
The second, sent five hours later, was a lot less professional. It simply said: Enjoy your hangover surrounded by screaming babies, moron, and next time check your phone.
Really, Charles reflected, he needed a new pilot. What was the point of partially owning a plane if the person he paid to fly it was going to take off without him?
Charles was left with no recourse but to get back in his hired car, a black number with tinted windows that was the quintessential staple between a limo and renting a car to drive himself, almost a universal standard as far as Charles was concerned, and quite possibly the second rule he had for travelling in comfort.
So sue him, he hated taxis too. It was nerve racking to be sitting in the back of one and hear all the ways his taxi driver was not paying attention to the road.
It also helped free up his hands so he was able to check flight times on his iPhone and book the first direct flight he was able to find. He thought maybe his luck was turning around, as he would just be pulling up to the airport before the recommended check-in time. He'd probably even have time to get that coffee he hadn't had time for in his mad dash to catch his private flight.
He was wrong.
Charles took his place in line behind a guy in a great suit (and even better ass, Charles was kind of an expert on the subject) and resigned himself to a long wait. He did what any mobile, mid-to-late twenties professional did when faced with a wait – he took out his phone and tweeted about it.
Standing in epic long line at airport thanks to angelwings taking off without me. Great view! http://tinypic.com/r/21dqyrn/7
Then, because he was a genius, he went into his game apps and didn't come out of it until he was jarred by the realization someone was shouting. Charles considered himself a bit of a white knight, but when he looked up he realized no one was mortal danger, unless the poor harried woman behind the desk counted.
Fuck, the guy with the cute ass was making the only person between Charles and a cup of coffee angry.
"I will never travel with you again!" The man was yelling, his accent obvious but difficult to identify what with the sheer volume he was projecting. "When I book a seat, I expect to sit in that seat!"
Poor sod, Charles thought, thumbs quickly making their way through a level of Angry Birds and hoping the gentleman, to use the term loosely, wasn't on the same flight he was. The last thing he needed was someone that excitable polluting the airwaves in a confined space with him.
The man made an angry, frustrated sound in the back of his throat and stalked off, his papers clutched in his fist. Charles watched him leave with a casual turn of his head, enjoying the long lean legs covered in an impeccably cut suit. He might not want to see the man on his flight, but he certainly didn't mind the view now.
Charles stepped forward, taking his place at the counter with a charming smile at the woman in charge of processing his flight. He sent a disgruntled thought in the direction of the stranger who had inconveniently managed to put the woman on edge with his bad attitude. He sent a calming wave with his smile, trying to look as friendly as possible. "Hello there. I have a confirmed booking on this flight," he told her, showing her the screen of his phone and allowing their fingers to brush in the process.
The woman smiled at him, the expression freezing and dropping as she noticed the flight number. "I'm sorry sir, executive class has been reserved by a sports team and the passengers have the choice of downgrading with our compliments or booking another flight. I'm sorry for the inconvenience. It was a computer error."
"WHAT?" He shouted before he was able to calm his mind, feeling his temple throb at the effort. Charles's expression did a similar plummeting effect, his cheerful attitude gone. Her mind told him that it wasn't a computer error at all, but an edict passed down the line from her boss's boss. "I'll take the seat," he said through gritted teeth. "But the airline will be hearing from me."
The Xavier name obviously didn't carry as much weight as he thought. She didn't even seem alarmed.
If there was one thing worse than squalling children, Charles reflected as he did his own stomp-off with a lot less grace, it was sharing a plane with a roughhousing sports team.
There are two rules of survival when it comes to dealing with Charles Francis Xavier.
1. Never get between him and his coffee on mornings after he was completely off his face. Other mornings he is not nearly as proprietary about his tea, but come between him and coffee during a hangover and one is likely to make oneself an enemy for life.
2. Don't be overly coy or mysterious. It's like shoving a hungry fat kid in front of a cake buffet. Charles' willpower only goes so far before he caves and takes a peek. It is better to be straightforward if one doesn't want telepaths taking errant head-dives and knowing all one's secrets.
There is a third that is more of a guideline than a rule: don't be a douche around Charles, because then Charles will feel validated to be a douche back. Charles, when inspired, can outwit one's douchery tenfold.
"Oh, hello," Charles said as he found his seat near the end of the plane, one of a pair jammed into the space in front of the tiny stall of the bathroom as almost an afterthought. The other was already occupied with the gentleman who had been in front of him in line, and Charles was amending his first impression of the man. As far as he was concerned, the anger had been justified, especially considering that the long legs he had been admiring as the man walked away were now folded into a tiny space that a five year old would find uncomfortable. "You're the chap who was in front of me in line. I believe we're in the same boat... well, plane!" Charles punned with a cheerful grin. "Sorry affair, isn't it, when a fellow can't even buy his way into first class? Charles Xavier."
The man looked at his proffered hand with a sideways glance and turned up the sound on his iPod in response.
Charles tried not to take that personally. Not everyone was like him and managed to bounce back into good moods quickly, even though he was hungover as hell, irritated, and on the verge of committing seppuku just to get off this flight. He was also an incorrigible flirt, though, and that kind of took priority.
Raven would say that Charles was an attention slut, and she had, on more than one occasion, claimed that the Oxford English Dictionary was one peer revision away from forming a new entry on his behalf.
Charles·tease noun Slang: Vulgar. A man named Charles who purposefully excites or arouses a male sexually but then missteps with an ill timed reference to mutations whilst disrobing with a disconcerting amount of enthusiasm.
In his defence, the OED would never publish something with so many specific adjectives in its definition. He could not be blamed for similar instances happening with two separate dictionary editors. Charles had a type, and unfortunately for him that type was hard-to-get.
So while Charles didn't take crankiness personally, it was very rare that he couldn't charm (while licking his lips tantalizingly) his way into anyone's good graces.
Of course, that only worked when the other person was willing to look at him.
He did take it very personally when he reached up to stash his carry-on bag, sweater hiking up to expose a hip bone and part of his stomach, and the stranger didn't even glance over. Well, that had been half of his best assets right there, and it hadn't even warranted a look from the corner of the man's eye.
Charles really needed a drink, he reflected as he sat down, resisting the urge to turn his shoulder away from the shared armrest. He had (not) paid for this seat, and he was going to darn well take up all the limited amount of space it offered.
The funny thing about people was they tended to think their name when offered one in return, so even though Erik was a rude git, Charles was perfectly aware of what his name was. And if it meant violating his mind a little, well Charles had really been looking for information about whether he'd be up to joining the mile high club in the bathroom behind them.
Charles could rationalize anything.
Fun fact 1: Erik's name was Erik.
Fun fact 2: He didn't mind airplane sex. He was actually shockingly good at it.
Fun fact 3: He didn't mind airplane sex with men. He was shockingly good at that too.
Fun fact 4: Most surprisingly of all, he didn't seem that interested in Charles.
Charles was a little put out. Most people wanted to have sex with him. He had that kind of face, and if they didn't like that, they usually liked his charm. Maybe the hangover was affecting him in ways he didn't notice. Maybe he lost his groove.
Maybe he wasn't groovy, Charles realized in horror. Maybe his ability to win people over with a smile was a temporary offset of his telepathic abilities that expired overnight.
Maybe he was worrying for no reason. Obviously not everyone could be attracted to him, they just usually were. It was a little intriguing to find someone not melting at his smile or blathering all over him about how sexy his accent was. Good things happened when Charles was intrigued.
Unless, of course, he managed to make a complete ass of himself.
As he was sitting there ruminating on his physicality and how he could possibly get Erik to like him, the doors to the plane closed and immediately he felt the tightness in the air. He wasn't a nervous flyer, but when surrounded by so many people he usually picked up the trait through mental osmosis, unable to filter all the nervous energies through the room. Some were frightened of heights, some of enclosed spaces, and others still of the lack of control. There seemed to be something about being inside a large metal hull that made everything amplified tenfold, as though thoughts bounced around inside the metal walls until they rebounded off his brain and back out.
At almost the same time Charles noticed the change in thought processes, a baby started wailing. Sometimes, he thought children might be more susceptible to telepathic energies than adults were. It was an interesting phenomena he was tempted to study in detail. That didn't mean he had to sit there and listen to the child wailing, and he wasn't the only one. Erik was agitated, outright glaring at the child's mother, and most of the other passengers were equally as displeased.
It only took a small nudge to put the baby to sleep, and because at his core he was a good guy, he gave her pleasant, happy dreams.
The moment the crying stopped, Erik seemed to relax beside him.
"Ah, silence," Charles remarked, "that's better."
Erik tensed up again, and Charles definitely got the impression Erik would rather be annoyed by the baby.
Charles focused on edging the more alarming cases into a state of calmness, if only for his own mental health. He was zipping in and out of minds, passing on a sensation of good cheer and a desire to nap to those who needed it, respectfully staying away from those who didn't. The process of actively doing something helped just as much as lowering the decibels of those voices surrounding him.
By those rules, the mind he most wanted to look into was offlimits.
Charles was very good at following rules. At least, most of the time.
Erik had to be the calmest flier he'd ever encountered. There wasn't a hint of fear in him, as though he was the one in control, not the plane, not the air currents, not the pilots. His mind was an almost soothing balm and Charles latched to it despite himself, not quite entering into Erik's thoughts, but touching them the way a hand can ground the vibrations of a washing machine. He gave Erik a sideways glance to see if he noticed the mental nestling, but his expression was calm and disinterested.
"I enjoy flying," Charles explained to him needlessly, sheepishly peeling his fingers off the shared armrest. "But I seem to have a problem being crammed into an enclosed space with so many people."
Erik said nothing.
Charles had heard him speaking English, right?
He really needed a drink.
"Hello love," Charles called out to the passing stewardess, emphasizing his accent with his charming smile still affixed to his lips, reading her enjoyment of British bad boys and utilising it. "I realize you're terribly busy, especially with the booking confusion and the hot tempers that seem to be flaring in such a confined space, but I was wondering if it would be possible for my friend and I to get some scotch? We just closed a very important business deal and promised to celebrate it on the plane." Charles leaned closer. "Now love, I know it's against company policy to serve the good alcohol to the people back here, but my seatmate and I are the trustworthy sort. Mums the word." He winked, mentally giving her a small nudge.
"Right away, sir," the stewardess responded with a giggle.
"The thing about flying is that a person needs to count on the reliability of a number of people," Charles continued, more for something to say to ease his mind than to actually connect to his seatmate – Erik – in any way. Erik's mind was definitely helping, Charles was able to form cohesive thoughts, after all, but there was still a din in the background that had to be droned out or else Charles would find himself poking at it. "Maybe the inspector looking over the plane to determine its flightworthiness was worrying about his very pregnant wife and overlooked something. The pilot could be hiding a very serious drug problem while his co-pilot is hiding a very illicit affair with one of the stewardesses. The military could be testing out a stealth weapon that comes too close to one of the engines and..."
Erik looked at him from the corner of his eye at this one, mouth pursing in what was either disapproval or hidden amusement.
"One of the passengers on this plane could be crazy –" this was no leap, there was a guy three rows in front of him who was wondering what would happen if he opened the airlock on the door. "Other than me, obviously," Charles joking, seeing if he could get that maybe amused look again, but Erik remained stoic in the face of Charles' obvious hilarity.
The stewardess returned with their drinks and a flirty smile for both of them. "Thank you, my dear," Charles said giving her a smile and the urgent, harried need to perform her next task immediately. His attention was already back on Erik, who was at least now somewhat facing him – or the alcohol.
Really, it was probably the alcohol.
"Cheers," Charles said, clinking his cheap plastic glass against Erik's. He swallowed half of it in one gulp, immediately feeling half his hangover dissipate in an effect he was sure was mostly psychosomatic, but he really didn't care.
Erik cautiously sniffed the drink, swirling it around in the plastic with a careful gaze. Finally, he took a sip and Charles had to hide his grin behind his own glass.
"That's a handy trick," Erik said, finally speaking. His accent was a lot smoother now that he was calm.
"I'm glad you think so!" Charles said in delight. "Sometimes I think my superpower is locating the best alcohol on the premises and managing to charm my way into getting it for myself," he joked.
"Very impressive," Erik responded dryly.
"I can do a multitude of very impressive things," Charles flirted with unmistakable intent. "Maybe I'll show you some time." Then Charles realized how very much like a skeezy letch he sounded and he automatically reached out for Erik's reaction.
Charles pulled away sharply.
If there was one thing Charles took offense to, it was being called ordinary. The fool part he could see, as he was somewhat making a cock-up out of this flirtation thing, but he was in no way ordinary.
Erik seemed to sense his withdrawal, though there was no way he could account for it other than the silence between them now, growing more awkward by the moment. He smirked at Charles' obvious discomfort, sharp and to the point as he finished off the scotch Charles had, very nicely, he might add, procured for him.
That was definitely the last time he was going to do anything nice for an attractive man, Charles decided crossly. He was going to stick to women for at least the next month.
The unfortunate thing about it was that besides being an ass, Erik had one of the loveliest minds Charles had ever encountered
on a plane ( anywhere) on a plane. He found himself drifting off, somehow comforted by the vibrations of the machinery surrounding him and lulling him into a deep slumber, his telepathy still curled around Erik's mind.
To make matters more awkward, in his sleep Charles was just as much of a cuddler as his telepathy was.
He was also kind of a drooler.
A clingy drooler.
He awoke to a loud screeching noise that just wasn't normal, head jolting off Erik's shoulder so sharply he almost gave himself whiplash.
It was nothing, he told himself.
Then: Erik's shoulder?
But he didn't have time to explore that certain curiosity of the man who seemed to continuously rebuke his advances but then allowed him to nuzzle his chest in whatever terribly embarrassing way Charles had been, because clearly there was nothing not embarrassing about sleeping on a stranger.
The plane jolted. Erik tensed, and since Charles was nestled up to his mind, he felt the alarm running through his seatmate. For someone usually so utterly unconcerned by the fact they were in the air, Erik's anxiety was a sharp and sudden thing Charles immediately investigated. His mind almost recoiled from what it found, but Charles had a knack for rebounding and rising to any occasion, a detail he should try out on Erik in inappropriately flirtatious tones after they survived this current predicament.
The plane was crashing.
Charles didn't even hesitate, not questioning Erik's assessment. The plane was shaking, rattling his teeth as he concentrated on the pilots, slamming into their minds with no finesse until he found the information he was looking for. The plane was definitely on a sharp decent, the pilots no longer in control, and a Midwestern highway coming up in front of them faster than it had any right to be but still a long way off. He read from their minds the reality of the situation, but also pulled a discord at unnatural and unexplained things their training didn't account for.
The plane was levelling off. No rational reason for it. Guiding itself in a straight line.
Confusion. Horror. Death. Regret. Disbelief.
Charles pulled away hastily, realizing he wasn't getting any information from the pilots and there was no way he could help them. He cast his mind to the highway, but it was a little beyond his reach despite the amount of adrenalin coursing through his body, so Charles started to work locally, taking away the fear of a man with a heart condition, silencing the wailing baby and projecting calm, calm, calm.
No, breathe. He told himself, the act not doing anything to spare his own fear.
He didn't want to be alone when he died. He didn't want the only minds touching his own to be the falsified tranquility of strangers. He wanted Raven, or even Angel, and the familiar comforts of their neural maps, but not enough, never enough to wish them here.
Erik. Erik would have to do.
Charles didn't want to die alone.
Erik's hands were braced tightly against the armrests, fingers turning white from his tight grip. His face was tense, a sweat breaking out across his forehead. It was disarming to see someone so comfortable in the sky react like this, no matter the circumstances, and Charles realized he couldn't begrudge someone peace of mind for his own selfish comfort.
They were all going to die, Charles knew, at least he could make it so that everyone's last thought was of something happier.
He pushed into Erik's mind, the process more difficult despite all the liberties he'd been taking. Erik's mind was a wall, an unbreachable hull that Charles had to work at fitting through the cracks, and once he was through he understood the resistance.
Erik's brain was active.
It took Charles a few seconds longer to acclimate himself to Erik's brain patterns, some of the thought processes so foreign and out of the norm that he recognised them as being atypical immediately. It took time to read what Erik was doing, and when the pieces of the puzzle slotted together, Charles knew everything.
He could control metal.
He also knew roughly how much longer Erik could keep the plane in the sky when every neuron, every nerve, muscle and tendon in his body was straining with the effort.
Charles could see how much easier it could be, how much unrealized potential Erik had. He could save them all.
Allow me to help, my friend, Charles warned mentally, not really asking a question, not with so little time, before reaching further into Erik's mind and rearranging the order of things. He blocked certain memories, certain mental blocks Erik had built, and brought other sensations to the forefront. He grasped Erik's power and fed it, showing him control and stripping everything else away.
Erik let him, opening his mind as easily as some people opened their eyes.
And Charles could see it all, feel the pull of the wind, the screaming of metal as it plummeted faster than it should. He could sense the cars below them, close, almost close enough.
Charles sent his awareness out to the vehicles, giving the drivers the urge to drive off the road and clear the way where they could. As though realizing what he was doing, he could feel Erik nudge one of the drivers with a reluctant mind off the road with a simple turn of an axis.
Erik, whose mind was so tightly woven with his now Charles wasn't sure whose eyes he was seeing out of, whose hands he was forcing to unclench. Erik, who wasn't frightened of him, wasn't making it worse for himself. Erik, who was reading his mind in return, understanding the give and take of the situation in a way Charles had never encountered before. He couldn't utilize Charles's telepathy like Charles could evoke metal if he wanted to, but he could see what Charles was doing.
He could decide to help rather than fight it.
Immediately, Charles was impressed and grateful, numerous other emotions and sensations hitting him too quickly and all at once to be identified. There was a sigh of relief for something larger, more personal, that he tucked away inside the relief he felt as Erik guided the plane onto the highway with only a few bumps as he tucked the wheels into the center of the two lanes – much like threading a needle, Charles knew, from where he was lending assistance by feeding visual cues from the pilots and people on the ground and translating them into information that wouldn't overload Erik's concentration.
Finally, finally, finally.
It had nothing to do with coming safely to a stop, an impossible feat for any pilot, and more to do with Erik.
Everything paused the moment the plane rolled to a stop, and somewhere in his mind Charles wondered if he had been a little too forceful projecting calm onto all the passengers. He eased on the tethers, implanting the idea that they had always had faith in such a competent pilot at the helm. For those who didn't trust easily, he gave them the memory of gripping the armrests violently, screaming or passing out until he was sure that no one would notice either the strange calm in the cabin or the interesting pilotless descent.
When he finished –it only took a few moments, really, and it wasn't nearly as difficult as guiding an entire highway worth of cars off the road while plummeting towards it – Erik was staring at him, flexing his arm beneath Charles's grip.
There was an eternity caught up in that stare, the two of them not speaking as they observed one another. Charles snapped back into his own head entirely, a dawning horror and self-recrimination slamming into him as he watched Erik's face for distaste.
"Come with me, emergency evacuation," the stewardess was saying, grasping Charles's arm and pulling him out of his seat. Erik seemed cognizant enough that he followed Charles off the empty plane without any prompting.
Charles wondered how long he had sat there once the plane landed, untangling the pieces of Erik from himself, deliberately unhurried because he wanted to stay. It was enough time for everyone else to disembark and for Charles to not even notice.
Sometimes, Charles was struck with the realization that he wasn't a very good person. A good person would have asked Erik's permission before entering his brain with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. A good person would have retreated immediately, once the danger was over. A good person wouldn't have spent the previous four hours stealing as many surface thoughts as possible from an attractive seatmate, just because he was an attractive seatmate.
A good person would probably feel worse about the last two than Charles did, and not draw the line at the big violations.
Charles didn't really care about being a good person most of the time, but he did care about losing Erik because he wasn't one.
Charles was usually ridiculously straightforward, so he surprised himself by avoiding Erik as the crash survivors milled around the safely-landed plane parked haphazardly across the highway. Most had their phones or their cameras out and were past the point of terror and straight into the sensationalism of getting the crash to trend nationally. Erik avoided everyone, and Charles avoided Erik.
Once they were all gathered onto buses and shipped to the closest airport, Charles experienced momentary panic when he realized that he might miss his chance entirely and allow Erik to slip right through his fingers. His telepathy reached out automatically, locating Erik in the closest bar seated comfortably in a booth. Charles was slipping into the bench next to him before he even realized he had left his hotel room.
Erik stared at Charles, glass of scotch raised half-way to his mouth as he took him Charles' sudden appearance. "You have absolutely no concept of privacy, do you?" Erik asked, but the question was toned with more amusement than latent disapproval.
"I'm sorry Erik!" Charles blustered, turning red, stammering, and wondering just how many different ways he could make a person hate him when all he wanted to do was the opposite. "I didn't mean to... I mean there wasn't much time and I... people would have died."
"I don't recall telling you my name," Erik responded sardonically. "But I'm assuming I never had to."
"No, I uh... I'm sorry about that too. But mostly about what I just... It was a violation of your..."
"Was it?" Erik questioned. "I was more concerned with living at the time."
And, because Charles was either a masochist or a complete douche, but probably both, he reached out to find out what Erik was thinking, automatically trying to get a read on the situation so he would know what to say.
Erik laughed, grabbing Charles by the lapels and dragging him forward until their lips crashed together. He wasn't letting go, those long fingers curled around the neck of Charles' shirt and mouth pressed desperately, unrelentingly against Charles' as though at any moment he would disappear. His mind seemed equally as insistent to keep Charles close, and if felt as though Charles was being pulled in.
Charles reaction was twofold. He went OhGodyesyesYES, grip tightening on Erik's thigh, turning his body sideways in the booth to get a better angle and half climbing into Erik's lap as the man did wonderfully sensual things with his wide mouth.
A deeper part of him understood the heady, rolling sensation in his mind as being a life-time worth of locks preparing to tumble open, the industrial strength ones he had built around his heart and mind with every failed attempt at intimacy and then thrown away the key.
Keyless locks had no chance against a man who could control metal.
Erik blew the first one wide open with his kiss.
Erik pulled back slightly, breath coming in harsh, delighted pants. Charles could feel it against his cheek, and his eyes fluttered at the closeness, a smile on his face.
"You aren't pulling away," a frown flickered across Erik's sharp, yet beautiful features, causing his brow to furrow. His accent was soft but back to being evident. He licked his lips and Charles followed the motion with his eyes, leaning in to follow them with his own tongue.
Erik pulled away even further, discouraging Charles from following by planting a hand on his shoulder.
"What?" Charles asked in confusion.
I'm not interested in someone who isn't interested in me, Erik told him clearly.
Charles was floored. What do you think I've been trying to convey for the past six hours?
You're an incorrigible flirt. Erik pointed out. A terrible flirt, but indiscriminate in who you give your attentions too. I will not be played for a fool and treated as just another distraction to your spoiled lifestyle.
"I didn't think you were interested in me!" Charles retorted hotly, not appreciating having his charm used as a personal flaw.
"Can't you see it?" Erik asked mockingly. "I thought you could read minds."
Then he was projecting an image at Charles, directing him towards the memory he wanted him to see.
Erik is bored and impatient. He is tapping his toes within his shoe, but not allowing the motion to be a visible weakness to others. He's thinking of how long it will take him to drive from the airport to his office, file a confidential report in the system's intranet and then get home to sleep. He estimates he still has another twelve hours and every extra minute is like torture. Erik is wishing he could teleport like – a movement catches at the corner of his eyes of tweed and he thinks fondly of his favourite university professor as he turns and sees Charles.
Erik turns slightly towards him in line to get a better view, watching as Charles pounds away at a particularly difficult section of Angry Birds, a scowl on his face. Thoughts of sleep and resentment of his job slip from Erik's face in surprise as he realizes Charles is attractive, slim and with good taste in watches, which is exactly the kind of man Erik likes.
The Charles in Erik's memory looks up from his game as an attractive woman in a miniskirt walks by, eyes focusing on her retreating figure, and Erik turns away, dismissively.
He couldn't help it, he was already immersed in Erik's head, already woven so tightly around his thoughts that Charles wasn't sure if he could stop the responding memory of being distracted from his game by the scent of fresh coffee and following his nose in a hangover induced coffee lust from surfacing.
Erik was surprisingly adept at figuring out how to communicate telepathically for he refuted by reminding Charles of the way he flirted with the stewardess. Charles countered by showing Erik the memory of watching him leave the service desk in the airport, holding up the line as he watched Erik's hand flex around the handle of his briefcase, back tensed with fury, and cutting a vengeful god-like figure as he cut across the crowd. He made sure to send the sensation of interest, appreciation for the powerful strides.
Outside of the process of watching memories, Charles realized Erik had just kissed him expecting to be rebuffed and turned away, but had been unable to help himself. Erik actually liked him. That was a pretty good sign, since Charles was pretty sure he'd never be able to untangle all the pieces of Erik from his mind.
Amendment: he could, but he really didn't want to.
"Will you go out with me?" Charles blurted out, a little sheepish that the words just came out like that, though he meant them from the bottom of his heart. "If you can date an ordinary fool, that is."
"The fact that you heard that proves just how much of an extraordinary fool you are," Erik mused, looking more amused at the fact Charles had heard the insult than put out. "Ordinary. Normal. Human. I think maybe I will allow you to show me how impressive you can be. Or are you out of tricks, Charles?"
The way Erik said his name, curling the r and the l together with just a hint of an accent put a shiver of delight down his spine.
"Excuse me, Mr. Lehnsherr? We've found you a seat on our next flight to New York," one of the flight attendants assigned specifically to helping their group interrupted with an apologetic smile. "Here is your boarding information. You will need to present yourself at the gate in the next fifteen minutes."
Erik thanked her and she was good enough at her job to disappear immediately from their conversation. "It was fascinating to meet you, Charles. I hope to see you soon." Erik said, smoothly getting out of the other side of the booth.
"I have a private plane coming to get me, it should arrive in a few hours," Charles said, speaking quickly. "You're welcome to a seat on it."
"Unfortunately there are pressing concerns in the city that I have to deal with immediately." Erik really did seem to find that unfortunate, so Charles let him go, simply smiling around his farewells as Erik took his leave from the table.
How am I supposed to find you? He called out to Erik as the man's very recognisable and very attractive back disappeared from view.
Impress me, Erik pushed back, all sharp amusement.
Call me! Charles returned, brazenly scrawling his phone number in Erik's memory, impossible to forget unless he forgot Charles entirely.