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Best Laid Plans

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Gabby Haller is used to juggling a full-time job and single motherhood -- motherhood to a telepath, no less. (She loves her son David but there is no denying he needs careful handling). And she’d had full custody, too, up until her ex had moved back to town recently after being offered a tenure-track job at the local university.

So she’s excellent at time management. Like seriously good at it. And she knows what she has time for and doesn’t have time for, despite what some people might think, as well-meaning and kindhearted as they are.

(Gabby doesn’t speak to her parents these days, not after what they said to her about mutants in general and David and Charles in particular, but Erik’s parents Edie and Jakob have basically adopted all of the parentless-by-choice-or-by-misfortune young parents around as their own.

Pros: Never having to worry about how she and David going to spend Hanukkah, Passover, or the high holidays. Cons: Still having nosy parental figures up in her business.)

So, her ex Charles might be around to help out with David these days, but she still definitely, definitely does not have time to date.

*

Gabby stares up at the ceiling. “This was a terrible idea.”

The woman next to her shrugs. “Probably, but the sex was great.”

Gabby smirks despite herself. “Well, there is that.”

Magda rolls onto her side, facing Gabby, and and picks up Gabby’s Hitachi Magic Wand. “Shall we go again?”

Gabby smiles. “Sure.”

*

It’s supposed to be a one-time thing, until it’s not.

*

Charles, with his impeccable timing, calls her while Magda is eating her out. Gabby looks at her phone, groans, and asks Magda to stop. “This might be about David,” she says, and Magda pulls away.

“Yes?” Gabby answers the phone breathlessly. “Is David okay?”

“What?” asks Charles. “He’s fine, he -- why are you out of breath?” Charles asks suspiciously.

“I’m not out of breath,” Gabby gasps out, fingers crossed that Charles is out of range.

There’s a pause, and then, “I wanted to ask if I could take David to see the new Disney movie tonight,” says Charles. “I know that per our custody agreement I'm supposed to bring him back before dinner, but --”

“No, sure, that’s great, have fun, and -- Oh!” Gabby strangles a yelp, because Magda has started eating her out again.

“Are you okay?” asks Charles.

“Fine, I'm fine, everything’s fine,” babbles Gabby, who is futilely trying to pry Magda’s face out of her cunt.

There’s another pause, and -- “Great, we should be back around 9ish,” says Charles.

Great-see-you-then-bye,” gasps out Gabby, who then hangs up the phone.

“So, how’s Charles,” says Magda nonchalantly, licking her lips.

You,” Gabby says vehemently, “are a complete asshole.”

“Yes, because I’m sure this is the first time you’ve dated one of those,” says Magda.

Gabby sighs heavily. Shit, she really does have a type. “Wait,” she says. “Are we dating? I thought this was just sex.”

“Oh honey, no,” says Magda.

*

“I cannot believe you are sleeping with Magda,” Charles says over Facetime later that night, a couple of hours after he’s dropped off David. “Haven’t you made your point, with the dog thing?”

Gabby sighs heavily. So much for having privacy. Fucking telepaths. (And also, she got David a dog because he wanted a dog, not at all because she knew that if she got David a dog all of Erik’s kids would harass him about letting them get a dog. Really. She promises.)

Gabby refrains from pointing out that she is sleeping with Magda because she wants to, not because Erik hooked up with Charles practically the moment they met (and it is still super weird to her, her fellow “single Jewish parent of mutant offspring” friend sleeping with her ex, but whatever.)

Gabby has learned that the best way to deal with Charles when he’s in a snit is to simple ignore him. “Whatever. What are you bringing to the Lehnsherrs’ for the first night of Hanukkah?”

Charles’ face goes blank. “Erik hasn’t invited me, as a matter of fact, so I suppose I’m not bringing anything.”

Gabby laughs. “It’s so charming that you think he’s in charge of invitations. Trust me, you’re invited. Edie and Jakob invite everyone. In fact, they’ll be offended if you don’t show up.”

“Oh.” Charles blinks. “Then I have no idea what I’m bringing. What do you suggest?”

*

“Erik thinks we’re only sleeping together out of spite and is horrifically offended,” Magda reports when she comes over later that week.

Gabby rolls her eyes and starts taking off her clothes. “Of course he does. Because we can’t possibly just be attracted to each other.”

Magda tilts her head. “You know when I said ‘yes’ when you hit on me it was like 55% attraction, 45% spite, right?”

“That’s pretty much why I hit on you in the first place,” admits Gabby.

“Never tell the boys,” says Magda, pushing Gabby onto the bed.

“Oh god no,” agrees Gabby.

*

So even though Gabby still wanted to keep this quiet, of course everyone in the fucking world knows about it by the time they go to Hanukkah at Edie and Jakob’s penthouse.

“My girls, I’m so happy for you!” says Edie, hugging and kissing them when they arrive together. David runs off to join the other kids in the playroom, and Gabby and Magda set down the dishes they brought on the kitchen counter.

After a few minutes of small talk, Gabby sneaks away from the kitchen where Erik and Magda are snarking at each other while they help Edie get drinks, to go find Jakob in his den, when Jakob will almost certainly be building something cool that she can geek out over with him.

She does find him there, along with Ruth and Charles, who is standing? demonstrating? some kind of mobility device that looks nothing at all like a wheelchair. It looks kind of like a scooter, or a Segway. Charles is zipping around some kind of improvised obstacle course while Ruth and Jakob cheer him on.

After finishing the course and doing a few donuts and figure eights, Charles speeds back over to the group.

“Is that something new Hank cooked up?” Gabby asks admiringly. “Or maybe Tony?”

“Neither of them, actually,” says Charles, laughing. “Although now that they’ve seen it, both of them are bitterly jealous that they didn’t. This is a TEK robotic mobilization device, and they’ve just started selling them in the U.S. Pepper and I are currently arguing over whose company gets to try and buy them out first.”

“It’s really cool, Charles,” says Gabby, and Jakob and Ruth agree.

Maybe this won’t be so terrible, thinks Gabby.

*

“I still cannot believe you’re sleeping with my ex,” Erik complains when he corners Gabby later.

Gabby sighs. So much for that.

“You started it,” Gabby points out.

“That’s completely different,” Erik protests.

Gabby rolls her eyes. “Of course it is. Look, can we go back to me ignoring your sex life and you ignoring mine and basically we kind of pretend we aren’t even really friends even though we totally are? Because I think that worked out really well for us.”

“No, we can’t, because you are sleeping with my ex,” Erik yells.

“Oh my god you slept with mine first, asshole,” Gabby yells back.

“Is everything all right in there?” Edie yells from the other room.

“It’s fine!” Gabby and Erik both yell back.

“Then maybe you should stop yelling like you both are your kids’ ages and not grown adults,” hollers Theresa Pryde from another room.

“SHUT UP!”

*

Luckily, not longer after that, Charles robots his way into the room and carries Erik off, and Magda shows up with a drink that Gabby belts back gratefully.

“So I take it from your dulcet tones earlier that Erik is still pissed off about us?” asks Magda with a wry twist to her lips.

“Ugh, sorry about that,” grimaces Gabby. “He just, ugh, he’s so infuriating. How did --” Gabby cuts herself off, because there’s no way she can finish that question in a way that won’t insult Magda.

“Anyway,” continues Gabby, “that’s one down. I’m sure Charles will harass me about it at some point this evening, too.”

“Actually I think Charles has come around on the subject,” Magda says conversationally, “He was dropping hints about a foursome earlier.”

Gabby spits out her drink.

*

When the sun goes down, everyone gathers in the living room, crammed in on the couch or chairs on on the floor. Charles robots himself into a seated position so David can sit on his lap.

Anya and Kitty are very excited about leading the blessings this year, and lighting the candles.

Anya, with the gravity of her full ten years, carefully uses a safety lighter to light the shamash. When it’s flickering steadily, she slowly picks it up and holds it.

Both girls lead everyone in reciting the three blessings.

Then Anya hands the shamash to Kitty.

Kitty bites her lip as she carefully lights the first candle of the menorah, and then puts the shamash back.

Gabby looks around at everyone, and smiles. It’s a really weird, big family they have here, but she wouldn’t trade it.

{Ohana} says David in her mind. He’s been doing that more often recently, with Charles around to show him how to do it gently.

{Ohana means family}, David says.

{Yes it does}, Gabby says back, projecting the way Charles taught her. {Yes it does.}

*

They are by no means the most devout group, but with the first night of Hanukkah this year being on a Saturday, it hadn’t felt right to actually be making food during the day on the Sabbath.

Which means everyone made stuff that could be refrigerated or frozen and now it all needs to be heated up.

Luckily, Edie and Jakob have a lot of experience, and as soon as the proscription on work has lifted they leap into action like a well-oiled machine.

Jakob pulls tray after tray of pre-made latkes out of the chest freezer while Edie plugs in six toaster ovens (most everyone had brought theirs over with them). There are also pots on every stove burner, coffee being made in the coffee maker, and a dish being heated up in the microwave.

“No one dry their hair!” Edie yells. “I don’t want us throwing a circuit breaker.”

“That was one time!” Ruth protests.

*

Gabby is not much for cooking, so she distracts all the kids with dreidels and gelt while everyone else is getting the food ready.

Luckily, it only takes about 20 minutes or so for everything to be ready, and soon everyone is crowded into the kitchen and dining room, getting plates of food and scrambling for seats.

Gabby dips a latke into sour cream, and munches on it happily. SO GOOD.

*

“Gabby,” Edie says as she passes her another plate of latkes, “Our grandkids are staying the night, and so is Kitty. Would David like to stay too?”

She looks over at David, who is making a please, please face. “Sure, that sounds good. When should I pick him up?”

*

After Gabby has stuffed herself, she lounges on a couch in the living room with Magda, both of them sitting in a stupor while they wait to digest food.

Several minutes later, Gabby levers herself up off the couch to go help clean up. Magda comes with her.

They may or may not make out a little in the kitchen while they do a round of dishes. After they tag in Erik and Charles to do a shift, Gabby and Magda stumble back to the couch to digest some more.

Edie’s query of “Who wants dessert?” is met with a universal chorus of groans.

*

There’s naturally a ton of leftover food, and Jakob and Edie won’t let anyone leave without taking some home. And by “some” they mean “a whole fucking lot.”

After a round of hugs and kisses with the children, who are excited to be spending the night with their grandparents, Gabby, Magda, Charles, and Erik flee before his parents find even more food to give them.

“You know,” says Charles, when all four of them are in the elevator heading down, “since Edie and Jakob have all the kids, we could --”

“No, Charles,” says Gabby, Magda, and Erik at the same time.

Charles pouts. “Well it was an idea, anyway.”

*

When they get back to Gabby’s place, both women put the food away and then sprawl on the bed.

“I don’t think I can put out tonight,” says Magda. “I mean, I feel bad, I wanted to give you eight sexy gifts of Hanukkah, plus we have kid-free time, but I don’t think I can do much besides roll over.”

“I forget, every year,” groans Gabby. “What it’s like. I think it’s a defense mechanism. The forgetting.” She groans again. “Okay. What if we just go to bed now and set an alarm to wake up early. Or not all that early. Edie and Jakob are keeping the kids until we all meet up for dinner at Chang’s since it’s the 25th tomorrow.”

“That,” Magda proclaims, “is a sensible plan. I like that plan. Let’s do it.”

*

“What happened to ‘I like that plan’,” says Gabby groggily after Magda wakes her up at 3am for sex.

Magda shrugs. “Plans change.”

Gabby rolls her eyes. How is this even her life. “Fine, let me get my harness.”