Charles loved the theater, but he hated watching television. Without having the living, breathing actor there to get a read on his or her thoughts, Charles just did not have the foggiest idea what was going on. Lucy would make a face at Ricky and everyone else would laugh, but Charles would just tap Erik on the shoulder and say, "I don't get it. Is she sick? Why are we laughing at a sick person?" and Erik would indulge him precisely once before getting frustrated and shouting "It's not funny if you have to explain it!" and Charles would get huffy and say "I have an excellent sense of humor; this Lucy woman is hardly anything special," and then Erik would just shake his head, get up, and say, "Forget it. I'm going to bed." And, well, that always sounded like a better idea to Charles anyway.
Charles felt the same way looking at Erik with his helmet on as he did when he attempted to watch television. Erik kept making faces at him and moving his eyebrows around, but Charles just watched Erik's face contort, all the while thinking to himself, What does he want? Does he want me to hand him something? Is my fly undone? Is he making eyes at me? It would be like playing charades, except that Charles always cheated at charades.
So when they were on the beach, after Erik had finished with Shaw, and Charles started barking a series of increasingly outlandish reasons why he shouldn't go through with his plans ("There are fish in that water, Erik, think of the fish! If you drop those weapons into the ocean, they'll never swim again!"), Charles couldn't tell what Erik's reaction was. Erik turned to him and moved his mouth, which meant... he wanted to... eat the fish? Really Charles was just hoping to break Erik's concentration, maybe even make him laugh - just snap him out of this rage he was in. (He was in a rage, wasn't he? Maybe he's just hot in that damned suit. It is boiling in these stupid things - whose idea was it to wear full leather body suits in Miami?)
And who said Charles had no sense of humor?
"You can't do this!" Charles screamed.
"Give me one good reason why I should stop." Erik answered.
Charles put on his best mock-serious expression and said, "I'm pregnant!"
And Erik stopped and turned and moved his mouth and eyebrows, and maybe that was a smile? And then his face gestured something and Charles thought he might want some kind of a response, or maybe that was his response? Maybe that meant, "You're joking, right?" That seemed plausible. Anyway, Charles nodded (that seemed like the right thing to do - people nod at other people sometimes, don't they?), and Erik smiled.
And that was enough to snap Erik out of himself, lower the weapons gently into the water, and let everyone know that it was over. Time to go home. Charles let out his breath with a shuddering sigh and smiled at Erik in relief. Erik smiled back, put his arm around Charles's shoulders, and led him off the beach.
Erik didn't take off the helmet until they were safely in the air and headed back to Westchester, and as soon as the damned thing was off his head, Charles felt a rush of love and excitment pulse from Erik like he'd never felt before, and it was all directed at him. Charles was intensely relieved - he still worried that Erik would change his mind about returning with them to the mansion - and took Erik's hand in gratitude.
Erik squeezed Charles's hand and whispered to him, "You and me. We're going to do this. Together. We're a family now."
Charles was overwhelmed. He had no idea Erik cared so much for Hank and Alex and Sean... frankly he didn't think he cared for Sean period. He never seemed altogether interested in Charles's plans for the school, and hearing Erik now pledge himself to the cause made him melt. Charles's eyes were welling up and he laughed at himself. "I don't know why I'm crying."
"It's just your hormones," Erik responded, which seemed like a weird thing to say, but Charles just let it go.
When they landed in Westchester it was already dark, and Erik dragged Charles straight to bed and fucked him silly. Literally - afterwards, Charles could barely do more than wiggle around like a noodle. The entire time, every motion and thought from Erik was laced with love and victory and second chances and family and future and bonding and it was intoxicating. He kept saying things like "It was meant to be" and "This time is going to be different" and as he came he shouted "Our children will rule the world!" which, again, all seemed like weird things to say, but Charles's mind was too melted from arousal to care all that much.
And then - and then! - after they'd caught their breath, still wrapped in each other's arms, Erik kissed him and said, "You must be starving. I'll bring you something. What would you like? Nevermind, I'll bring everything." Erik actually got up and brought Charles food in bed of his own accord! And not just a plate of leftovers, either: Erik brought sandwiches and fruit and pickles and salads and cake and pies... anything he could carry. It was amazing. Charles was ready for war if it meant more victory sex.
He had a face full of food and his hand in the pickle jar when he noticed Erik staring at him fondly. "Hwrah?" Charles asked, half a baloney sandwich spilling out of his mouth.
"I'm just really happy, Charles. After what happened with Magda, I didn't think I would ever want to give it another try, but I do, I really really do. I didn't know it was possible. Why didn't you tell me?"
Charles was confused. "Tell you what?"
"That you could get pregnant. I would have used a condom. I mean, I'm glad I didn't, in the end, but still. When did you find out?"
Charles took another bite of his sandwich and used the chewing time to try to piece together what Erik said.
Erik thought he was pregnant.
"I was ready to leave," Erik said. "I was ready to destroy all of those men today. But what kind of father would I be to start a war when I have a child on the way? You were right, Charles. We must choose peace. For the sake of future generations." And he put his hand on Charles's abdomen.
So if he wasn't pregnant, Erik was going to destroy the world?
"I only found out yesterday," Charles lied - for world peace, not because he wanted Erik to get him a ginger ale. "I didn't want to distract you with the news. I'm sorry, darling, I should have told you sooner." It was so absurd – surely Erik didn't really believe he was pregnant. He did have a penis, after all, a fact Erik learned first hand. But a quick peak into Erik's mind showed that he really, truly believed it: that Charles had a secondary mutation and somehow, by some big gay mutant miracle, they were going to have a baby.
The image of them having a baby must have trickled over into Erik's mind because he beamed. He was radiant, his eyes shining with happy tears, and he kissed Charles straight on the mouth, sandwich crumbs be damned.
"I could really go for a ginger ale, if you don't mind," Charles said, and Erik kissed him again and said, "Of course, dear, anything you need," and left to go fetch it.
He seemed so happy. Really, it would be cruel of Charles to tell him the truth.
It was the right thing to do, Charles told himself over the next few weeks. Erik was about to go off the deep end, and if it took a fake baby in a phantom man-womb to stop him from destroying mankind, then so be it. No one had to know except for the two of them. He would just let Erik believe - only for the time being - that he had a secondary mutation that allowed him to conceive a child. Then, after a few weeks of happy sex and eating lots of sandwiches and pie, after Charles was sure that Erik would stay at the mansion, he would quietly miscarry, then he and Erik would have sad comfort sex and move on with their lives. It was a foolproof sex-and-sandwiches plan. No one outside of the two of them had to know a thing.
It was all going smoothly - entirely too smoothly, actually. Erik slipped into fatherhood mode without missing a beat. He was attentive and caring, and had even started collecting baby clothes and toys during his trips into town. It was sweet, Charles thought, except that everyone was noticing.
"Why does Erik keep bringing home baby crap?" Hank asked one day.
Charles shrugged his shoulders and said he didn't know. In hindsight, he really should have made something up, because Hank, Sean, and Alex went to Erik and asked him directly.
Charles walked in just at the tail end of the conversation and they all turned to him with looks of open astonishment and horror.
Sean asked, "Is it true? You're pregnant?"
Charles glared at Erik who said, "Charles, you're past the three month mark now. It's time to start telling everyone. Besides, you're starting to show."
"I most certainly am not!" Charles protested and buttoned his cardigan.
Erik smiled and said, "Don't cover it up. It makes me happy. There's no need to hide anything."
"So let me get this straight," Alex started cautiously. "You got pregnant. Up the butt. And now you're going to have a baby. Out your butt."
Erik was looking at him expectantly, so Charles just fumed and mumbled, "Well, technically I suppose I would have to have a cesarian..."
Alex continued. "Does that mean you have a period? Do you use tampons? In your butt?"
"Would everyone please stop talking about my butt!" Charles shouted. Erik crossed the room to take Charles in his arms and say, "It's all right. We are all mutants here. You don't have to be ashamed of who you are. I love you very much. Just as you are."
Charles let Erik kiss his forehead and allowed the three boys to offer their congratulations. It would be foolish to do otherwise; Erik didn't deserve to be embarrassed in front of a crowd.
He was really going to have to kill this baby. And soon.
Later that night, Erik spooned himself against Charles's back, nuzzling his neck. His hands trailed up Charles's thighs to his stomach. His fingers swirled circles over Charles's flesh, warm and tender.
Charles's stomach gurgled.
"I felt the baby!" Erik said, and turned Charles onto his back. Erik lifted Charles's shirt and kissed his stomach. "Isn't it incredible?"
"Erm, yes. It's a miracle."
"I was thinking," Erik began, caressing Charles's foodbaby, "If it's a girl, I'd like to name her Ruth. Ruthie, after my sister."
Charles looked up and saw that Erik had tears in his eyes. Charles lived for these moments - when Erik would surprise him like this and let Charles see what a big, kind heart he really had. Talking about his family always brought it out in him, and since Charles told him that they were going to have a child, Erik was beginning to get that look in his eyes when talking about their future together as well. It made Charles wish it all was real.
"So what do you think, Charles? Ruthie Xavier?"
But it wasn't real, not at all. Nor was it worth arguing over a fake baby's name, so Charles said, "I like that. Ruthie Xavier."
"Do you think it's a girl? Can you tell? Can you hear its thoughts?"
Even if there was a fetus in there, Charles doubted it would have too many thoughts to overhear, let alone gender-specific thoughts. What would a boy fetus have to think that a girl fetus wouldn't? "Mm, sure am glad I have my penis here to keep me company! Being born is going to be awesome!"
Charles answered, "I can sense it there, but nothing more specific than that. And I can't tell if it's a boy or a girl."
Erik leaned in and spoke to Charles's gut: "Ruthie! Are you in there, Ruthie? Can you hear me?" Then he turned back to Charles. "Can it hear me? Does it seem like a Ruthie?"
It seemed like a pastrami on rye to Charles, but all he said was, "It can hear you. It likes you."
Erik beamed. "Of course it likes me! I'm its daddy!" He kissed Charles's gut again before adding, "If it's a boy, I think I'd like to name it after me."
He smiled. "No, Max. Max Xavier. It's the name my father gave me. If I can't use it, I'd like his grandson to have it."
Charles arched his eyebrows. "Well, he'll be a very powerful opponent in Scrabble."
Erik laughed, which made Charles laugh, which made Charles fart.
"That wasn't the baby. That was me," he said.
"It's all right, darling," Erik smiled. "Pregnancy does strange things to your body," and kissed Charles on the forehead.
Right, Charles thought later that week, This has to end now.
He was laying on Hank's examination table with his feet up in stirrups while Hank and Erik peered into his rectum with a magnifying glass and a flashlight. They looked like Sherlock and Watson, but less gay.
“Now, this is going to be a bit cold, but it shouldn't hurt,” Hank told him just as he inserted a probe into Charles' butt. “It should give us a better look at what's going on inside.”
Hank shifted the probe around a bit, all the while frowning and muttering to himself, before Erik took hold of it and explained, “No, you have to move it a little to the left... there you go,” and oh, God in heaven, Erik was giving Hank a private tour of his anus.
“Much better. Thank you, Erik.”
“Don't mention it.”
“Yes, please,” Charles piped up, “Let's not mention this to anyone.”
They both shushed him and continued their expedition into Charles' behind. Charles just lay back and waited for Hank to declare that he couldn't find anything and that Charles must have miscarried.
After a few minutes, Hank looked up and smiled. “Well, Charles,” he said, “It looks like a healthy baby boy.”
“A boy!” Erik burst, his eyes wet with tears. “My beautiful boy!”
“WHAT?” Charles shouted and sat bolt upright. “That's impossible! Look again.”
Hank shook his head. “I assure you, there are more than enough Y chromosomes to go around. It is entirely possible, and it's true. You're having a boy.”
Charles found himself becoming cold and clammy and the room started to close in on him. “But that's! I'm not! I! Oh, boy,” he sputtered, looked up at Erik, and promptly fainted.
When he came to, Erik was gently smacking him on the cheek – it appeared he still had his pants down.
“Are you all right?” Erik asked him.
“I'm fine. Just had a bit of a shock. And get your hand off my ass.”
Charles bombarded Hank with so many questions that eventually Hank just handed him a copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting and told him to get lost. But how could this be? How could he possibly be pregnant?
“Maybe it's because we had unprotected sex and I came inside you,” Erik offered.
“Oh, do shut up, Erik.”
Really, this whole thing was entirely absurd and had gotten way out of hand. Maybe he should just confess to Erik that he'd made the whole thing up. But had he? And now he had medical confirmation – was Hank lying for him? Had he somehow manipulated Hank into backing up his ridiculous story?
Charles spent the next two weeks pacing the house in an epic funk and rubbing at his belly, wondering what in the hell was going on. Erik was kind enough to leave him to it, and every evening when they climbed into bed, Erik asked him if he was feeling any better.
“No,” Charles told him late one night, “And you're only making it worse by being so nice about it.”
“Would you rather I leave?”
“No, of course not. I want you here.”
“You seem pretty miserable.”
“I am pretty miserable! I'm fucking pregnant, Erik! In a couple of months I'm going to poop a seven pound human out of my butt! Do you mind not making fun? I'm kind of upset over here.”
“You didn't seem upset a few weeks ago when you first told me.”
“Yeah, well, I was lying then! I didn't think I was actually pregnant!”
A sly smile crept over Erik's face.
Charles' eyes went wide and he shouted, “You knew! You knew, didn't you!” Erik started to laugh. “Did you put Hank up to it? Am I not really pregnant?”
“Never prank a prankster, Charles.”
Charles was furious. “How dare you! You're laughing! How dare you laugh! I don't see what's so funny!”
“Of course you don't. You really have a terrible sense of humor, Charles.”
“I DO NOT HAVE A TERRIBLE SENSE OF HUMOR!”