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The house is asleep, but Erik isn't, which isn't a strange state of affairs. He's taken to prowling around, checking and double checking, generally just being awake and sort of bored.

Tonight is a little different; when he gets to the first floor, the light is still on in Charles's office. There are voices coming from inside, Charles and Raven, politely dampened laughter. He walks towards the slightly-opened door, wondering if they'd mind a third.

"Give us a bijou buvare, my love," Charles says, holding out one of the tumblers from the set he keeps on his credenza; Erik stops, standing in the shadows outside the door, because watching and listening is suddenly more interesting than joining them.

She laughs. "If you're talking like that, then you've had enough," she says, but she takes it from him, pouring a little liquor into it.

"I have to be so serious all the time," he complains. "I just want to cackle."

"And you don't want anybody to hear," she says.

"I barely cant the polari, and I don't cant bene," he tells her, "and there are nanti omi in my latty who could cant at all." He sighs. "Sometimes I wish there were."

She raises an eyebrow at him. "Something tells me you're not looking for palaver."

"You always savvy bene, Ravenette," he says, pointing at her with his glass. "But ajax we've got the chickens and we've got-" He waves a hand. "The gajo."

"Yeah," she says, giving Charles a searching look. "I'm starting to get the impression that you're bonar for him." Charles puts his hand over his face in lieu of responding. "Do you think he's so?"

He laughs. "Who cares? Bona trade, my darling," he tells her, sinking down into his chair. "Bonaroo. You nanti savvy the kind of charver-"

Raven holds up her hands. "I don't savvy it at all, and I would really like to keep it that way."

"Fantabulosa omi," he says. "And he'll scarper," he adds, deflating. "And I'll nanti varda him again."

"Okay, Aunt Nell," she says, standing up, "I can do the cant, or I can do maudlin, but I can't do both at the same time, so up now, to your letty." She pulls him out of his chair, shuffling him towards the door. "Boner nochy."

"You take such good care of me," he says, kissing her hair, and Erik slips out and up the stairs before they can see him.

It's all very interesting.


The next morning, he finds Charles in his room; he's folding his laundry, which seems inappropriately prosaic compared to what's about to happen.

"Of all the people, Charles Xavier," Erik says, leaning against the doorframe, his arms crossed, a smug smile on his lips.

Charles looks up from clothes, raising an eyebrow at him. "Yes, I am Charles Xavier, and I am a member of the set 'all the people,'" he returns.

"Of all the people," he says, undeterred, "to know Polari."

Charles's hands freeze. "What's Polari?" he says casually, forcing himself to move again.

"I heard you last night," Erik says.

Charles stops what he's doing, taking a deep breath. "Come in and close the door," he says quietly, and Erik does. "Something tells me you're not about to say that you need a new conversation partner."

Erik shakes his head. "Wouldn't do me any good. I only know enough to know what it sounds like."

Charles shuts his eyes. "What do I have to do make you forget you heard anything?"

"Oh, I'm not going to forget a word," he says, stepping closer to Charles.

"You said you didn't understand," Charles replies, going very still, like he's bracing himself.

"I don't have to," he says, and all at once he pulls Charles towards him, leaning down to take his mouth. "I got the gist," he says, when they finally part.

Charles melts against him, mixed relief and want. "Don't ever scare me like that again."

"I won't," Erik says, grinning. "Now come over here and show me what charver means." He catches Charles's momentary, mournful glance at his pile of clean laundry. "Let's try the chair."

"I admire your creative solutions," Charles says, kissing him again. "Come on. I have a whole dictionary to teach you."