Erik shot his computer a bored look. It was Friday afternoon and with a little luck no one would manage to blow the university servers up before he was off the clock.
A small notification vying for his attention made his heart sink. The little script was running solely to make sure that the IT department could keep track of the professors and students apparently incapable of changing the temporary password they had been given. And through this, Erik or Azazel could send out strongly worded emails to remind them. They both made sure that the emails were clean enough that the Uni couldn't accuse them of being rude, but just on the edge, because Erik knew that sometimes nothing short of bodily harm would work.
has changed their password to: **************************************************************"
"Urgh," Erik said, drawing Azazel's attention.
"Either this wins you the pool or you'll have someone asking for a password reset time and again until they learn to use a shorter password," Azazel said, after leaning in to see what had caught Erik's attention.
Azazel wasn't wrong. The IT department, or rather, more specifically Azazel and Erik who handled most of the userID setups and what came with it, had an office pool. Who had the user with the longest password and capable of remembering it. So far Azazel had been in the lead for nearly a year because Moira Mactaggert had a damned good memory and had the so far longest password either of the two had ever seen.
"We'll just have to see, won't we?" Erik replied. He didn't need another Shaw. Granted, the man had fixated on Erik and had used any and all excuses to elicit his help. Including constantly locking his system by using long, complex passwords that he could never remember.
That had all lasted until he'd been caught sexually assaulting his TA at the time, and after this, Erik had been damned glad that he'd never given into the man's charms. Far too slippery and slimy for Erik's tastes.
Dared he hope that Azazel was right? That he'd finally be able to tip Azazel off his top spot?
"Don't get cocky," Azazel muttered as he logged off the server. "You'll crash and burn."
"Oh, fuck off, Azazel," Erik replied with no heat. "I'll close up shop, get the hell out of here."
"Don't dig," Azazel warned.
"I'm not an idiot," Erik said, beginning the process of logging himself off - only leaving open what he'd need until the evening crew came in to take over. Azazel was right. He wasn't supposed to abuse his access to the information to find out who the user was. He wouldn't know until said user had a problem. Now the question would be, would this be an actual IT problem or would it simply be when the idiot turned out to have forgotten his or her insanely long password?
Erik hoped for the former, but wasn't stupid, he was a realist and could accept that it would probably be the latter.
After a few weeks, Erik should have probably forgotten about the interesting user ID, but Azazel was a fair man and at the end of the month, he handed over the polished little trophy and Erik realized that he'd forgotten about the password contest.
Which kind of left him torn between pride and even more curiosity. Because if he was winning, it meant the user wasn't going to contact him for help which then again meant no figuring out who they were.
This was partly on Erik's mind as he went through one of the laptops that he was cleaning up after a virus infection. The harddrive was so infested that he sort of felt as if he should be wearing gloves - or maybe even a hazmat suit.
Something tugged at his attention and it wasn't until a knock to the door drew him away from the project that he realized what it was. As soon as he gestured the door open, he realized the metal he'd felt was a wheelchair, though this was quickly forgotten when he was hit over the head with the most brilliant smile he'd ever seen.
Erik wasn't used to people smiling like that at him. Mostly they glared at him or cowered. This smile however, was completely fear-free. Lovely red lips, blue eyes, short-cropped brown hair and a neatly trimmed beard.
Erik jolted back to reality and tried to figure out how to answer. His visitor did come to his aid though, with the smile twisting into something else, something knowing.
"I'm Professor Xavier. I was told I would need to see you regarding access to your supercomputer. I have some models I need run and it would take ages on the regular system."
Erik swallowed hard. The answer would be no. You didn't just get access to Erik and Azazel's baby. By asking. Even if you were hot.
The guy coughed, obviously trying hard not to laugh. "I am aware that such privileges are few and far between, but I am sure I can convince you that both I and my research are above board."
"Who sent you?" Erik finally asked.
"Professor Mactaggert did," Xavier replied sunnily.
Erik bit back a curse. She may be one of Azazel's favourite people, but Erik could do without her sharp tongue. Which he'd been on the receiving end of more than once. It didn't help that Erik did respect her razor sharp wit and above average intelligence - not to mention general smarts, but he had yet to one up her.
"Professor Mactaggert also told you that there are procedures to go through before we can allow it, yes?" Erik said as coolily as he could.
"Yes," Xavier said. "She did consider the option of me asking your colleague Azazel for access but I believe due to her slightly twisted sense of humour, she felt it would be more fun to tell me to ask you."
"She told you this?" Erik asked curiously, as he pulled the form up on his screen that Xavier would be filling out. He wasn't unreasonable - he could always block the application afterwards.
"She has yet to learn not to broadcast her glee when hatching her pranks," Xavier said evenly, tapping his temple.
Erik blinked for a moment, then very carefully took his initial reaction, marvelled at his embarrassment and pushed it as far from his conscious mind as he could.
"You are aware that that is like ignoring the elephant in the room, right?" Xavier said with a small grin.
Erik watched him for a moment, then shrugged. "I'm not dead and six feet under," he replied. It wasn't like it was a crime for him to notice a guy and appreciate his looks. A little lust never hurt anyone.
Xavier raised an eyebrow and bit his lips, drawing Erik's attention again. "That's a refreshingly amiable attitude."
"One of my oldest friends is a telepath," Erik admitted. "I gave up on feeling embarrassed years ago."
Xavier laughed, and cocked his head to the side. "That's not an attitude I'm familiar with, but one I'd like to see more of."
Erik stared at the form on his screen for a moment. Was he being flirted with? "Don't think flirting will get you access to the computer any faster," he warned.
"Ah, saw right through my scheme, did you?" Xavier said, his voice warm and deep.
Erik turned the screen and keyboard to Xavier. "Flirt all you want," he said evenly, "you still have to fill out the form." He paused. "All six pages."
Xavier narrowed his eyes, but his smile didn't diminish. "And what will flirting and filling out the form get me?"
"If you're lucky, full access," Erik said without losing a beat. Then he realized what he'd said and did not flush. The office was warm, that was all.
Xavier, however, just held his gaze and his smile grew impossibly wider. Erik considered taking a picture of it just to prove to Azazel that there were scarier grins out there than Erik's.
The phone rang, saving Erik from any more embarrassment. He put on the headset. "Erik Lehnsherr," he said into it, pointing at the form, not breaking eye contact with Xavier until the voice at the other end demanded his full focus.
The call took more of Erik's time than he'd expected, and Xavier had finished filling out the form, looked at his watch and sighed heavily, looking forlorn - before ruining it by winking at Erik and giving him a small wave before leaving Erik's office.
Shit, Erik had wanted to see if he could get the guys private number, because he'd kind of liked the flirting. Scratch that, he'd loved it. Normally people didn't flirt with Erik, but he kind of wanted Xavier to the be one single exception to all Erik's rules.
Azazel walked through the door, stopped, then back out - only to enter again.
"What?" Erik asked.
"I thought I'd walked into a parallel universe," Azazel said, pointing at Erik. "I thought I'd seen all your smiles, Lehnsherr, but I think that one came close to being dopey rather than scary." He paused for a moment, fighting a smile. "Hence the parallel timeline - only way I could explain such a sunny demeanor."
"There's no parallel world where I'm not dangerous," Erik growled, or tried to. God, had Xavier broken him?
Azazel dropped into his own seat. "The only other explanation would be that you'd finally killed professor Stryker - should I be looking for a body?"
Erik's good mood dropped a little with the mention of Stryker. The man whose laptop was Erik's current cleaning project. "Unfortunately not."
Azazel shrugged and poked his mouse until his work screen came back to life.
Erik took a deep breath and figured he should at least save the application form that Xavier had filled out. Then he could go over it later and maybe, if he played his cards right and dragged it out, Xavier would come back to ask him again.
"There's that grin again," Azazel muttered.
Erik chose to ignore him.
The form didn't yield a private number, not that Erik had thought it would. It would just have been nice if the professor had thought to give it to him. Unless of course his flirting had been just that. Flirting and nothing more.
Erik looked at the top of the form and stopped. Now, he had a fairly good memory…
Azazel looked up when Erik nearly fell out of his office chair, leaning back to check the board they used for their little office pool.
Longest password winner is:
May 2018: UserID 1005-587-89-2018
Currently master of the office: ELehnsherr
"What's gotten into you?" Azazel asked when Erik started laughing, checking the userID again.
"I had him in here, asking to use the supercomputer, and I didn't know," Erik admitted, pointing triumphantly at the board.
"So he still remembers his password? Impressive," Azazel said. Obviously not getting it.
"He was in here, Azazel, in here."
"I need to see him again," Erik said, sitting down on his chair. "And if possible, see if his flirting was serious."
Azazel laughed out loud. "Lehnsherr, have you finally gone around the bend?"
Erik snorted. "No."
"Do you even know how to go about dating anyone?" Azazel narrowed his eyes. "Do you even know how to have physical intimacy with another human being?"
Erik opened his mouth to argue with Azazel, but a 'ping' from his computer drew his attention. A message on the internal messaging board that the uni used.
UserID 1005-587-89-2018: 'I know it won't get me to the supercomputer faster, but would you like to have lunch with me?'
The cursor blinked, telling Erik that Xavier was typing again.
UserID 1005-587-89-2018: 'If for nothing else than to prove to Professor Mactaggart that it's possible to flirt with you, date you, possibly have sex with you and not get killed and dumped in a ditch somewhere.'
Erik was about to answer, feeling as if his fingers were incapable of hitting the right keys. Then the cursor blinked again.
UserID 1005-587-89-2018: 'Her words not mine.'
Erik finally managed to type his answer. He backspaced several times, but finally sent his answer off.
Azazel, reading over his shoulder, radiated both mirth and mock horror. "You are not right in the head, Lehnsherr."
"Birds of a feather," Erik said with a grin. "I'm taking my lunch."
"Of course you are," Azazel said with a sigh. "Please do not call me when campus police drag you off to jail for emotionally scarring the pupils or the staff."
"And here I thought you loved me," Erik said as he marked himself offline. "I've earned this - I'm working on Stryker's computer."
Azazel shot the laptop whirring away next to Erik's computer with something bordering on fear. "Is it contagious?"
Erik rolled his eyes as he grabbed his phone and headed for the door. "You know as well as I that it's not."
"Normally, yes," Azazel agreed warily, "but this is Stryker we're talking about."
Erik grinned. Azazel wasn't wrong. "See you in an hour."
Azazel waved him off. "Don't come to me when you need an alibi."
Erik just ignored him and hit the search function on the uni overview on his phone. Time to go prove Mactaggert wrong.
As lunch dates go, this one's not too bad, if you ask Erik.
Sorry about the delay - we've had insanely high temps for a while now and work's been insaner than normal. But here's the rest of it all :)
Much to Erik's regret, Mactaggert wasn't in her office, but his lunch date was in the one right next door.
"You'll eventually get a chance to show her up," Xavier consoled him, his eyes showing how amused he was. "Lunch at the cafeteria?"
"It'll have to be," Erik agreed. Even if he wasn't fond of people in general, he wouldn't mind showing off his lunch date. "I can't leave the office long enough to go off campus to eat."
"Ah, the joys of being the problem solvers," Xavier said with a wink. "Then lead on, my good man, for I am famished."
"Do you teach literature on the side?" Erik asked curiously - he'd noticed the 'professor of genetics department' sign outside the door.
"No, while I do enjoy literature when I can find the time, I just have a weakness for flowery language as well as horrible puns." Xavier followed him out the door and hung a sign on the door with an "out to lunch." on it. "Much to my sister's eternal annoyance."
Erik grinned. Yeah, he wasn't exactly disliking this. He may not throw a lot of puns around himself, but he considered the ones he did to be pretty damned good.
"We'll see," Xavier said with a wink, leading the way towards the cafeteria.
"Do you always pick up on stray thoughts?" Erik asked. Not that it bothered him that much, but he might consider burying his more R-rated thoughts a little deeper.
"No, but your thoughts…" Xavier struggled for a moment to find the right words as he backed into the elevator with enough skill to make Erik contemplate a kink or two he hadn't known he had. "I want to say your thoughts are loud," he said, tapping the ground floor on the panel. "But that's not quite right. Maybe clear is a better description. Like most surface thoughts appear to me with a filter between that makes them sort of fuzzy - or like a radio slightly out of tune." He tilted his head and shot Erik an appreciative glance. "Yours are coming through nice and clear."
"Well, as long as you don't hold anything against me that you might overhear," Erik replied. Emma had long since taught him to not focus on what he didn't want her to hear - as she would put it - it only made it all the more clear.
"She's not wrong, this friend of your," Xavier said.
"Emma used to call it the elephant in the room as well," Erik said. The amount of embarrassing crap she'd overheard over their years of friendship - Erik had sort of had to become a little numb to it.
Xavier laughed. "Yes. It's the easiest way to explain to non-psychics what it's like. Doesn't mean they learn how to control it. And, if I may be so bold, could I ask you to refer to me as Charles? You keep thinking of me as Professor Xavier and I get enough of that from my students and the rest of the staff."
"Of course," Erik said, surprised he hadn't asked for the man's name. "I'm Erik." He held out his hand and Charles shook it just as the elevator came to a halt and he watched Charles exit it as skillfully as he'd entered it.
"I know, with a 'k'," Charles replied with a wink before turning his chair to continue towards the cafeteria.
"I guess you read that off my mind," Erik said, his cheeks flushing a little. He quite liked it when people got his name right and didn't butcher his last name.
"It said so at your door, and Mactaggert did tell me as well, somewhere in the middle of all her warnings. Apparently you ranted at her about having misspelled your name at one point." Charles grinned and Erik could feel the mental tickle of mirth. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling.
"I don't rant," he defended himself, though not with anywhere near the vehemence he'd normally do.
"Of course you do," Charles corrected him. "We all do. The topics simply vary from person to person." He turned his head to Erik as they went to the line to get their food. "When we feel strongly about something, we can not help but feel passionate about it and mostly that is perceived as ranting by others, especially those who may not feel equally passionate about the topic."
"You've had to defend yourself on that topic before, haven't you?" Erik asked, trying not to laugh.
Charles just huffed and looked put out - a facade that he only managed to keep up for a few seconds, before laughing. "Yes, my sister feels I rant about far too many things. She's by far a more laid back person than I am."
"You seem relaxed enough," Erik said, wondering what might make Charles tick.
"That's because we haven't discussed mutant rights, pseudo science and flat earthers yet," Charles said primly, pointing out to Erik what he wanted on his tray.
Erik good naturedly simply used the metal edge on the trays to keep them afloat in front of them, earning himself a long look from the woman behind the checkout. In his youth he might have perceived the look as a challenge that he was using his gift, but he knew her well enough that he could read it as 'you drop that you clean it up'. Which was only fair.
Charles' reaction to it was glee so thick Erik felt he could cut it. Obviously, Charles liked the display of mutant abilities.
"I do," Charles agreed as he paid for both their lunches - before Erik could stop him. "And you can get the bill next time."
Erik rolled his eyes but moved the trays along, even and in perfect control until Charles found a set for them that wasn't too cramped for his wheelchair.
"So, rants about mutant rights I get, pseudo science and flat earthers though?"
"You asked for it," Charles said with a snort before launching into a - yes - very long rant, which had Erik in stitches. Not because Charles wasn't right, but because his new friend was about as sarcastic as they came - almost as bad as Erik himself. And the best of it all? He had the brains to back it up.
The rant, turned conversation, eventually slowed and Erik realized that he'd been enjoying Charles' company for nearly half an hour. Normally Erik's patience ran out long before. He couldn't help but smile when Charles drew breath to carry on.
Charles stopped and cocked his head to the side. "What?"
"Is it okay if I want to have sex with your brain?"
Charles stared at him for a moment, then laughed. "I hope you mean that metaphorically."
Erik rolled his eyes. "But it is a thing, isn't it?" He was fairly sure he'd read about that somewhere.
"Being turned on by some else's intellect?" Charles asked. "Yes - I believe it is referred to as sapiosexuality."
"Good, so it's not so strange that there isn't a word for it," Erik said with satisfaction. He liked that term. Sapiosexuality. He liked intelligent people.
Charles shook his head with an indulgent smile. "Now, tell me the story behind you and Moria - I don't think she dislikes you, it's more that she sees you as her greatest adversary or something - and respects you as an opponent."
Erik barked out a laugh, ignoring the fearful looks that were turned his way. Grinning, and showing far too many teeth, he nodded. "She does. Azazel always sees to her requests, and he's vetoed us from ever having to deal with each other. Apparently we have very loud discussions."
"But why?" Charles asked curiously, elbow on the table, chin resting in the palm of his hand.
"She always wants more access than I can give her," Erik said, not at all defensive.
"More access than you can or want to give to her?" Charles asked shrewdly.
"She doesn't ask nicely," Erik said sniffing disdainfully.
"Yes, because you're all about the manners, aren't you?" Charles asked, eyes heavily lidded as he watched Erik.
"A please and thank you will get you far," Erik replied, pursing his lips and mirroring Charles' position.
"Uh, huh," Charles agreed.
"Urgh, get a room, you two."
Erik felt his grin stretch farther. "Go away, Mactaggert - we're off the clock."
Mactaggert rolled her eyes so hard Erik almost felt it. "Don't come crying to me when he gets mean," she told Charles.
"Mmm," Charles replied, biting his lower lip. "I find Erik the most congenial man I've met in a while."
"Jeez," Mactaggert muttered. "You don't get out much, do you? I guess I lose the bet with Azazel afterall."
Erik was almost afraid to ask. Yet, it involved Azazel so Erik felt he should expect the worst. "And what would that bet be?"
"That you you can manage to have a conversation with someone without making them cry or run away screaming."
"I'd like to think I can handle someone like Erik," Charles said with a small smile. "The real question is; can Erik handle someone like me?"
"Challenge accepted," Erik said and for the first time in ages, he felt like he actually wanted to spend time with someone outside work where he had to.
"Your funeral," Mactaggert replied, turning to leave them.
Erik wasn't entirely sure if her words had been aimed at him or Charles.
"Screaming comes later," Charles said, loud enough to make Mactaggert flinch and to make Erik choke on his water that he'd just taken a sip of.
Maybe Charles was right, maybe Erik was the one who was in for a challenge. And maybe Erik didn't mind terribly. Especially not when Charles turned that beaming smile on him. The one that obviously covered a multitude of mischief.