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Wardrobe Malfunction

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In his more irrational moments Charles entirely blames Raven.

It had all started because Raven was drunk and stoned. Charles remembers how she had draped herself over Irene’s lap as she laughed and laughed at the idea. Charles as the next Bachelor. Then she sat up so quickly that she lurched too far forward, almost falling onto her face except for Irene’s arm around her waist, holding her up, and laughingly declared they should make a video. As a matter of fact, it would be the funniest thing on earth if they made a video. At this point Irene had given up trying to hold up her girlfriend and Raven ended up tumbling to the floor and rolling around while she laughed. Charles had gone along with her plan because Charles always goes along with Raven’s plans. It’s one of his major weaknesses.

He blames Raven for more than just the idea. When the show took his video seriously and called, she’s the one who clung to his arm begging him to do it. She’s the one who told him that it’s all fake, that it’s entertainment for the masses, highly produced and scripted. He could do the show and get the word out about mutant rights and other charitable causes. She's the one who said all the women who sign up for these things are actresses anyway. It didn’t help that the host, a smooth talking man with a flawless tan and shining white teeth named Scott, had told him that the Bachelor always plans his dates, and although past dates had featured things like wrestling a greased pig or jumping into caverns with dark, dank pools of water at the bottom, then making out, it was no problem to have more of a focus on the good causes that Charles cared about. The show was very excited to have mutants front and center for the first time in its history.

In the end he knows he is the one who signed the contracts and agreed to do this ridiculous show, and in the end he’s the one who is entirely screwed. No matter how irresistible Raven is, SHE is not the one who is possibly going to give the world the Most. Dramatic. Season. Of the Bachelor. Ever.

The problem is that Charles is gay. Well, not entirely gay. The entire country has seen him make out with almost two dozen women now, and it’s not like he’s faking it. He can kiss women, even sleep with them. He’s a bit indiscriminate when it comes to having sex. Still, at the end of the day when he thinks about love, about being with someone for the rest of his life, about building a life together, he doesn’t picture himself with any of the contestants. He doesn’t even picture himself with a woman. And if this were really a game and he could do it, provide entertainment and be done with it six months later, the world would have their first mutant Bachelor and Charles would have a platform for his activism.

The other problem is, it’s not a game. The women, with their bleached hair, squeaky voices, and too much makeup, are serious about him being their husband. They teeter up to him, eyes slightly unfocused from too much alcohol, licking their over-glossed lips, climb into his lap and try to convince him that he’s their soulmate. They tell him how they’ve always cared about the mutant cause. They beg him to read their mind. Each of them thinks SHE will be his wife. It’s real. Their innermost desires practically radiate off them, causing Charles to curse his telepathy.

Charles started this whole process out with the intention of making it into something good, of using the show as a vehicle to educate the world about the plight of the mutant minority, as well as the need for wells in rural Africa and the importance of adequate food resources for inner city kids. The episode where he took his date to the food bank and they met a homeless mutant family was one of the highest rated episodes of the season so far. Scott had smiled broadly when he told this to Charles, then declared that it would be even better if they’d been thirsty, because then all three of Charles’ causes would have been front and center. Charles did not point out that there is not an issue with wells in suburban Los Angeles and Scott wandered away muttering something about including more shots of bottled water in future episodes. Charles thinks about the contestants, how they look at him eagerly during the rose ceremony, dreaming of being Mrs. Charles Xavier, and Charles is starting to realize that there is no way he’s not going to break someone’s heart during this process.

He feels like the biggest fraud on the planet.

There’s a specific reason he feels like a fraud. An unexpected complication that even Scott and his team of producers couldn’t foresee. It comes in the form of a six foot tall man with dark hair and pale blue eyes named Erik who is basically sex on legs.

Erik is the man who dresses Charles for the episodes. Erik, whose fingers skim Charles’ inseam as he measures him and that moment never fails to send a shiver up Charles’ spine.

Erik has a quick sense of humor and almost as much disdain for this damn show as Charles. It probably would have been okay if Erik had just stayed the good looking man who spent a lot of time level with Charles’ crotch. But Charles made the mistake of talking to him. Erik is interesting, educated, and he’s a fellow mutant.

If only Charles were yet another opportunistic fame whore determined to get as much celebrity as possible off this experience, becoming yet another fixture of the Bachelor Family, making appearances on national television every once in a while and hosting b-list charity events so he can get his image into the celebrity magazines. Then he could fuck whomever he wants and still play the game that is reality television and somehow sleep at night. The problem is that he’s not that person. He’s just a genetics professor from Columbia who can’t say no to his insane sister, and who stupidly thought he could do something like this and emerge unscathed. And maybe he could if Erik was just another hot piece of ass, but he likes him a whole bunch. Too much for his own good, and if Erik were one of the contestants, Charles might turn to the camera and tell the world that he thinks he can see his husband in the room, adding, as the producers have told him, as long as that person is there for the Right Reasons.

This is why Erik is a catastrophic wrench in the machine of mass entertainment. This is why Charles has texted Raven half-hearted death threats three times a day. And the contract he signed is why he cannot just get up and walk away from what has become a shit show of massive proportions.

 


 

It starts early in the filming.

It seems that Scott, with his exhaustive California tan and a wandering eye with a penchant for red heads, has been actively encouraging the girls to invade Charles’ home. Charles knew he should not expect much privacy but it seems to him that actively encouraging the contestants to violate it was quite questionable. It is one of the earlier warnings that maybe he didn’t make the best decision of his lifetime to be involved in this farce. The sneak attack on ‘Professor Hottie’, as the promotional material calls him, results in Charles waking up one morning to two buxom, giggling blondes occupying the hot tub on the deck outside the kitchen. Charles discovers them when he wanders out from his bedroom, wearing only pajama pants, rubbing his eyes and wishing desperately for some coffee to alleviate his mild hangover. He has discovered that just a smidge beyond reasonable alcohol intake is the only way he is going to survive the cocktail parties that take place before the rose ceremony, where he breaks the hearts of Bachelor Nation once a week, sending two more hopeful and well intentioned women home.

It isn't the giggling that gives Charles a clue that something is amiss as he rubs a hand through his hair and looked dazedly through the glass door leading to the deck. It's the god-damned camera crew in his kitchen. Charles is tempted to ask if he is allowed any privacy, but the contracts he’d signed on his dining room table what now feels like a lifetime ago had stated quite clearly that he does not. As a matter of fact, the contract dictated that at times like this Charles must join right in.

“For chrissakes, let me get some coffee,” Charles grumbles with a glare when one of the producers looks at him and jerks her head towards the deck. Charles can see that one of the girls now has her top off. It is too early for this. Way too early. Still, Charles had signed a contract and Scott had told him that they will be announcing shortly that the show would be going to Africa to dig irrigation ditches in a rural village, one of the causes Charles had said is important to him. Charles is sure once they are there one of the contestants will break a nail and another will have a mental breakdown, and about five more will pout at the camera over the plight of the poor children. Then he will have a date where some random barely known pop act will show up to play a song and he will declare to the camera how they are his favorite group despite the fact that he’s actually never heard of them. Still, America will know that water was important to the livelihood of people in other countries, and that’s what matters to Charles. That’s why he’s here. And it is far better than getting fake-married in Vegas, which was one possible date option one of the producers had suggested to him. So he can do the before breakfast hot tub thing if it means changing the minds and attitudes of the American public.

In the end Charles shows up at the hot tub with three cups of coffee and a grin on his face that sends the message that he thinks he is the luckiest man on earth to have a faceful of bare breasts for breakfast instead of the omelet he’d been planning to fix for himself. He sips his coffee while one of the girls plays with his hair and declares that all his students must have a crush on him. He does not roll his eyes once. All in all, he plays the game well. The producers grin and one of them even slaps him on the back. As if he’s finished some sort of sporting event.

The true price of his romp in the hot tub comes later. It comes in the form of Erik not looking at him.

This is before things become complicated. Charles hasn’t even allowed his thoughts to wander to exactly how much he’d like to kiss Erik. It's after they had spent time sitting on the couch in Charles’ dressing room talking, debating mutant rights, and Charles had thought to himself that it’s ironic that amongst all the contestants vying for his affection, he ends up liking the guy who does his wardrobe the best out of everyone. If he’d been one of the contestants, there was no way Charles wouldn’t have leaned closer and kissed him. But he wasn’t, so Charles had settled on smiling giddily and wishing things were different.

After that talk, the brightest spot of Charles’ day became getting dressed for the show. He would walk into his dressing room and Erik, who seemed to spend most of his time with his face drifting between neutral and frowning, would flash him a small, secret smile which would utterly thrill Charles. Then Erik would very professionally bring out a rack of clothes, rifling through them, his face thoughtful, and Charles would watch his long, slim fingers pick through cashmere, cotton and denim. Erik would pull out various items, floating them towards Charles using his mutation because he knows he can when Charles is in the room, and this always makes Charles smile.

“This will make your eyes look even more blue.”

Then there was that small smile again.

“These pants are very flattering.”

A small lick of the lips.

“It gets cold at night. You’ll want to take a jacket.”

Now Erik isn’t looking at him. Charles stands by the door, a smile on his face, then it falls because Erik is standing at the rack of clothes, refusing to turn around and greet Charles. No smile. No warmth in those pale blue eyes. Nothing. Charles feels his heart fall.

“Word travels fast,” Charles says, guessing that this has to do with his morning hot tub escapades. He sees Erik freeze for a long moment, then he turns around and his face is neutral.

“We’ve...we’ve been too friendly,” Erik says shortly, refusing to respond to Charles’ directness, “I can’t do that. I have to work in this town.”

It’s a lie. It’s not like Charles needs to peer into Erik’s mind to know this. Charles doesn’t actually look into people’s minds very often. His mutation has been active since he was seven and he’s quite disciplined in using it, so as a policy he leaves other people’s thoughts alone. It’s the tightness around Erik’s eyes, his clipped tone, that betray him.

Charles should explain that he has no choice. He signed a contract. Breaking it would be costly. He’s the first mutant Bachelor. He can change attitudes this way, and that means that sometimes he might end up half-naked hot tubbing before breakfast. He should say that he actually was hungry the whole time and would much rather have been perched at the kitchen counter eating an omelet. Hell, he really should say that the best surprise would be finding Erik half-naked in his hot tub, not those girls who spent the entire time discussing their manicures. Instead he settles with an apology.

“I’m sorry,” Charles says, his tone serious, “I didn’t intend to hurt you.” Erik arches up an eyebrow, looking a little surprised to get an apology from Charles, and Charles is briefly taken aback. “I mean,” he stutters, “if I had known it would bother you, well...I guess, what I’m trying to say is…” Charles cuts himself off, not quite sure what he wants to say, and if he did know what he wanted to say, even how to say it.

“What are you trying to say, Charles?” Erik asks slowly as Charles tries to find the words, tries to sort out his thoughts.

“I’m trying to say that I like you,” Charles finally manages to blurt out. “And I’m sorry.”

“Fuck,” Erik says, staring at Charles.

“Yeah,” Charles answers, because what he’s just told Erik, well, it’s a problem. A problem of epic proportions. Still, it’s the truth. He really likes Erik.

“Well,” Erik huffs, seemingly stripped of anything more to say. “Where does that leave us then?”

“Nowhere if you don’t like me,” Charles says, half wanting his words to be true, half dying inside if they are. This makes Erik smile and finally Charles gets to see that smile he’s grown used to greeting him. The one he pretends is just for him.

“No,” Erik says with a sigh, running his hand through his hair, “I like you too.”

“Shit,” Charles says softly. “That complicates things.”

Neither of them move for a long moment, then Erik mutters something about getting back to work and starts pulling out various articles of clothing. Charles murmurs his agreement and they say nothing to each other besides your basic pleasantries while Erik gets Charles ready for the shoot that day.

Charles texts Raven later that day. He’s technically not supposed to talk to family during this whole process, but he managed to sneak a burner phone with him in case of emergency. This qualifies as an emergency.

I think I’m in trouble.

Raven must be still up because she texts back quickly.

Uh oh. Do you like someone brother?

Followed by,

Irene says ‘hi’.

Charles sighs heavily and texts back.

I do like someone.

His phone dinks a few minutes later.

Hope she’s cute.

Charles grimaces.

HE is gorgeous. It’s the wardrobe guy. That’s why I’m in trouble.

There is a long pause before Raven texts back, and either Irene has distracted her or she has nothing to say about this new information. Then his phone dinks again. Charles looks at the screen.

Fuck. Wardrobe malfunction. No kidding.

It’s not long after that when things progress to kissing. It’s like some sort of permission has been given, because now instead of just warm politeness, Charles finds that he and Erik are ending up in each other’s space, bumping hips, knees knocking together by accident, elbows brushing up against each other. They are flirting. Erik hands a cashmere sweater in a sky blue to Charles and their hands somehow touch. Charles looks away because he knows he’s blushing. then Erik mumbles something about Charles always looking good in blue and Charles looks back to see that Erik is blushing as well. Charles feels a bit giddy at all of this accidental intimacy and finally one day he grabs hold of Erik’s hand, despite the fact that both of them know they are walking a thin line. He holds it for a long moment then cradles it in his own, turning it to look at Erik's fingers, the way his knuckles are dusted with hair, the pale crescent moon shaped scar on his thumb, and how they look so strong and capable.

“You,” Charles starts, then his voice trails off, because he’s not quite sure what to say. That’s not quite the truth. He knows everything he would say if things were different. You’re beautiful. I want you. Have dinner with me. Go to bed with me. Be mine forever. Because Charles is pretty sure he wants all of those things with this poorly timed wardrobe malfunction. A lump forms in his throat and Charles tries to swallow it but it sticks and he almost wants to cry with how beautiful and how sad this moment is.

“No,” Erik says, and for a moment Charles thinks Eriks is rejecting him. He braces himself for Erik to pull his hand away, to tell him they can’t do this. Erik does nothing of the sort. He takes the hand that Charles isn’t holding and brings it to Charles’ face, touching him lightly on the cheek, running his fingers along his jawbone, resting them lightly on the underside of Charles’ chin, tipping Charles' face upwards. Erik stares down at him for a long moment then he slowly leans forward until their lips touch.

It’s a brief kiss, a flutter against Charles’ lips that are aching for more, almost chaste, and Erik pulls back.

“No,” he says again, and Charles looks up at him, puzzled. “You,” Erik continues. “It’s all you.”

They end up on the cheap Ikea couch, Charles sprawled across Erik, Erik’s arms wrapped tightly around his waist, their mouths sliding together in slow, sensuous kisses, tongues tasting each other, sliding together, and it all happens in slow motion. Neither of them makes a move to do much more, despite the fact that Charles is hard and he can feel Erik’s erection pressing into his thigh. They just kiss, long and deep. So slow that it feels like Charles is spiraling downward, sinking into a place where there is nothing left but the feeling of Erik’s lips slotting against his.

At some point in the near future it will occur to Charles that he’s in a quagmire of epic proportions and this will cause him to lean over the sink of his bathroom and stare into the mirror as he hyperventilates, because he’s lying to the entire country, breaking a contract he agreed to, and completely fucked. He’ll realize that he never should have started down this path in the first place, and maybe Erik really is someone special, but he just should have walked away. He doesn’t think any of that now. He just keeps kissing Erik, over and over, never wanting it to end and it’s only a sharp rap on the door that breaks through the haze of arousal that seems to have shrouded Charles’ brain.

“Five minutes,” a gruff voice calls and Erik and Charles break apart.

“Fuck,” Erik mutters, “I need to finish dressing you.”

Charles almost smiles because he wants to echo Erik’s sentiment with his own. Fuck, I need to go date twelve women.

Oh God.

He hopes they will just assume that he was just having a little clandestine off-camera makeout session with one of the girls. Erik grabs a nice button-up and some khaki pants, and later Scott will frown because Charles is entirely inappropriately dressed for the date where he goes rock climbing, then has a picnic on top of a high cliff. Charles does his best to be self-effacing and laugh at his conundrum with Brittney or Ashley, or whoever is with him that day. He can’t always quite remember and most of the girls look the same to him anyway. He does his best to comfort her when she’s afraid of heights, and this is followed by Brittney or Ashley looking adoringly at him because he’s helped her overcome her fears and she feels safe with him. At the end of the date Charles gives her the rose, because the contract clearly spells out that giving no one a rose ever isn’t an option, and giving Erik a rose - hell, giving Erik all the roses - isn’t even considered. Still, Charles wouldn’t mind if every date was with the handsome wardrobe guy who he’d been making out with just hours before.

He texts Raven as soon as he has some privacy.

Remember the wardrobe guy?

Raven seems to always be up and around because yet again she texts him back immediately.

Did he put you in a cardigan again? Does the man know that not all professors wear cardigans? What’s coming next? Elbow patches?

Charles rolls his eyes. Actually, Erik had pulled out a cardigan briefly then put it back on the rack.

No. Charles writes. I made out with him.

This is the point when either Raven stares at her phone in shock and Charles nervously waits for her reaction, or when she answers so quickly he thinks she’s the psychic, not him. It’s option number two.

HOLY SHIT! Wardrobe malfunction of epic proportions. Pretty sure the show doesn’t want you to like cock.

Charles bites at his lip.

It’s not like I meant for this to happen, he writes back. It’s the truth. He’d never expected anything like this.

Charles decides he really needs to stop the kissing. He decides this every single time he kisses Erik and it seems no matter how much he convinces himself he’ll do something otherwise, every time he sees Erik he ends up kissing him again.

The cocktail parties all blend into one, Charles hands out more roses and finally it’s time for Charles and his harem, which is what Raven has taken to calling them, to fly off to some exotic but reasonably affordable locale in the off-season where it will rain the entire time. Charles has been fully briefed on their destination, and will be expected to say at least three times during each episode how ‘amazing’ it is. This allows the show to get paid by the tourist bureau of said country. Charles wishes briefly that they could just go to Oxford, because he can wax poetic about their genetics department quite convincingly while he’s not entirely sure about Papua New Guinea and hears they have some very large mosquitos. But all in all, it will be AMAZING, according to what the producers have informed him they want him to say.

The day before they leave Charles is packing his clothes, carefully folding each pair of pants, each sweater, thinking about Erik, when he realizes that going to Papua New Guinea will probably mean new staff. This means that he’ll be leaving Erik behind. He feels some relief, but mostly he feels sad. Especially because he didn’t realize this until it was too late to say goodbye. It’s probably for the best though, and Charles decides that Erik was lovely but he can now slip into the past and Charles can get down to the business of tricking the world into thinking he can definitely see his wife in the room. At least that was what the talking points he was handed that morning said.

It turns out that Charles is entirely wrong. The mosquitos in Papua New Guinea are no bigger than the ones he swats away on the patio at Westchester. And Erik was not left behind. He discovers this the first day of shooting when he enters the dressing room to find Erik rifling through a rack of clothes. At the sound of the door opening he turns and holds out a flower print shirt that screams tourist, offering Charles an amused smile, just like in Los Angeles. Charles is so happy to see him that he barely remembers to kick the dressing room door shut with his foot before he leaps into Erik’s arms, arms wrapping around his neck. Erik staggers backwards at Charles’ weight, his hands going to cup Charles’ ass, being the most appropriate place to support him.

“Wow,” Erik manages between kisses, and he’s smiling at Charles. Charles smiles back.

“I just didn’t think…” Charles says, but doesn’t complete the thought because he’s kissing Erik yet again. “I mean…” Another kiss. Erik lowers Charles to the ground and his hands start pulling at Charles’ shirt, tugging it out of his pants. His fingers find bare skin and Charles shivers. “We really shouldn’t…”

Erik pulls back and Charles lunges forward a little, wanting Erik’s lips back, then he stops himself.

“We really shouldn’t?” Erik asks, arching an eyebrow. “Um, we’re already doing what we really shouldn’t.”

“I’m here to find a wife,” Charles moans, burying his face in his hands. “Oh my god, what am I doing?”

“Charles?” Erik says, his tone light, eyes sparkling with amusement. “Um, I think I need to tell you something.”

“What?” Charles asks, peeking from between his fingers. Erik is smiling at him.

“I think…” Erik starts, then he trails off. He frowns a little, looking almost serious but not quite. “How do I say this. I mean, there’s a lot of evidence pointing to…. Um, Charles. I think you’re gay.”

Charles gapes at Erik. He’s on the edge of a massive moral crisis and Erik is poking fun at him.

“I am gay.” Charles says. “I always have been. I mean, it’s not quite that simple. Sexuality is a spectrum, and I wouldn’t say that I’m entirely on one end of it, but I’m also not in the middle, and I don’t dislike women, it’s just that I like men and I like…”

Charles’ verbal spillage stops abruptly and he stares at Erik.

“Yes?” Erik asks.

“I like you. Dammit. This is not good. It’s bad enough that we’ve been making out, and it’s better than any of the girls out there who are dreaming of marrying me, and I actually really like you, and...oh. my. god. Erik. Don’t you see? Don’t you see what’s going on?”

Erik looks blankly at Charles, and it’s clear that he is not sharing in Charles’ epiphany.

“I don’t see,” Erik confesses. Charles moves closer to him.

“I’m here for the wrong reasons. The WRONG REASONS. I did this for all the right reasons, at least I thought I did, but none of them are right. They’re all wrong. I have become the ultimate Bachelor cliche.”

Charles wants to die. He wants to lay down on the floor of his trailer and will his heart to stop beating because doing this was the absolute worst decision of his entire life.

“So,” Erik says, still watching him. “How did this all happen?”

“I’m an idiot,” Charles moans, “I have a doctorate in genetics from Oxford, I'm tenured at Columbia, and I’m a fucking idiot. I thought it would be a good platform for my activism, a way to gain more visibility for my causes. And my sister, who is a menace, convinced me that the entire show is fake…”

“Well,” Erik says, shrugging, "it IS fake. I've been here for three seasons now. I've seen how it works."

"Yes," Charles says exasperatedly. "I understand that, but those women out there, they actually don't. They want to marry me."

Erik stares at Charles and Charles can almost see the wheels turning as he contemplates what he's been told. Then he opens his mouth and says the most unhelpful thing possible.

"So does this mean we don't get to fuck? Because I was looking forward to that."

It seems Erik is entirely ignoring Charles' ongoing moral crisis and has decided to just think with his cock. Charles gapes at him, wondering how he can ignore this conundrum. His mouth falls open, then closes again. Finally he finds his voice.

He should tell Erik this is serious. Tell him this is no time to think of sex. Instead he says something entirely different.

"You want to fuck me?"

Now Erik gets an incredulous look on his face, as if Charles has asked him the stupidest question on earth.

"Um, of course," Erik says with a smile that can only be described as lascivious.

Charles swallows. His skin feels hot and it's not the tropical climate or the stuffy confines of his trailer. He should walk away. He should ask for someone else to do his wardrobe. He should...

...kiss Erik.

"God yes," Charles manages to mutter before launching himself towards Erik, setting all ethical considerations aside.

“Um, right now?” Erik manages to ask between kisses.

“Yes,” Charles says then kisses Erik again, slipping his tongue into Erik’s mouth, and Erik opens up like he was meant to be kissing Charles. Like he was born to do this. Charles feels the rumble of a moan against him. He breaks away to draw in a shaky breath.

“I have to dress you,” Erik says quickly, the last word muffled by Charles’ lips on his.

“Undress me,” Charles corrects him.

“Charles,” Erik manages to say before Charles attacks him again, “as much as I appreciate your enthusiasm, you do remember the rock climbing fiasco. I could lose my job for another slip up like that.”

Charles stills and he fights back the disappointment that wells up. Erik is right. There is a time and place for this. Charles shakes his head. What is he thinking? There is absolutely NO time or place for this. None at all. His dressing room is the most privacy he’s afforded by the producers. That and his shower, which he’s used a few times to jack off while thinking about kissing Erik, as well as doing much more.

The shower. Hmmmm…. Charles starts to formulate a plan.

“Okay,” Charles says with resolve, his arms still wrapped around Erik. “Come see me tonight after the shoot. Tell them something. Tell them I threw a diva-style tantrum about my clothing choices and you have to fix it before tomorrow.”

“Not enough warm-weather cardigans?” Eriks smirks as he reaches up and brushes his thumb softly across Charles’ lower lip, causing Charles to shiver. “You’re looking very kissed, by the way,” Erik murmurs in a voice that should only be used in the bedroom. “Maybe you should try to look less kissed because all it does is make me want to kiss you again.”

Oh god, they’re doing this, Charles thinks to himself. The knowledge that later tonight he’ll be able to kiss Erik again, and touch him, taste him, washes away all the ethical implications that have been plaguing Charles. He knows he’s going to be entirely distracted during shooting today because he’ll be busy imagining all the different ways things might go later.

“Fuck you,” Charles says.

“Later.” Erik smiles. “Now, about this shirt.” Erik turns back to the rack and pulls out the flowered shirt and Charles winces. No. Just no.

 


 

The shoot involves meeting some local children and eating some food that’s meant to gross out the woman he’s with, which indeed it does. She still braves her way through it. The current member of his harem he’s with is named Emma. She’s one of ten women left who gaze at him with dreamy eyes and picture a huge diamond on their finger at the end of all of this. Emma is nice enough, with large breasts but a good head on her shoulders. Charles thinks the person who picks out the contestants must be a boob man. Charles is an ass man. At the moment quite specifically Erik's ass.

They wander through a small village and shop. She hangs on his arm and smiles up at him. She grabs a child’s outfit at one of the stalls and holds it up. Charles nods and says how cute it is. She smiles brilliantly, and Charles knows she’s picturing their babies, little freckled strawberry blondes. Then she tells him how much she loves her nieces and nephews, and that she wants a big family. Charles smiles at this revelation too. It’s more of the same niceness, and at the end of the day, he does indeed have a nice time. He almost forgets Erik, but any time Emma isn’t entirely holding his attention his mind wanders to strong hands, how they felt on his back; the way Erik kisses, strong and insistent; the noises he makes against Charles' mouth, like he’s hungry. Charles ends up spending most of the date obnoxiously aroused.

Dinner comes and goes. Charles hands Emma the rose. They make out and it’s not bad, but mainly because Charles is picturing Erik the whole time. Finally they are done and Charles can go back to his room. He can barely breathe from anticipation and jogs the entire way back. He feels so wound up that it feels good to stretch his legs. He arrives at his hotel room, closes the door behind him and stands in the darkened room. This is it. He flicks on a lamp sitting on a small table then settles onto the couch. The minutes tick by. One. Two. Charles wishes he’d set a time because the waiting feels eternal. Three. Four. Five. Finally there’s a knock on the door. Charles springs up and answers it. As expected, it’s Erik.

“You were unhappy with my choices this morning,” Erik says, his voice serious. He’s standing next to a rolling rack full of clothes. “I brought some other options I came up with today. I hope it’s not too late.”“Thank you. It’s not too late, Erik,” Charles says politely, gesturing for him to come in, then he quickly adds, “t’s nice of you to work late just for me.”

“Not a problem.” Erik grins as he rolls his rack into Charles’ hotel room and kicks the door shut behind him. Oh god, that grin. It’s just short of entirely lecherous. Charles feels his cock tingle. It won’t be long now. All he needs is to get Erik in the bathroom, away from the cameras.

It’s unfortunate that there will be no soft, comfortable bed for what is to come. No long night of exploring each other, no waking in each other’s arms. Charles can’t think about it too much. But it’s better than nothing, and he's about to have sex. Hot, glorious sex.

“What do you think of this?” Erik asks, holding out a Havana shirt in a pale sky blue that Charles knows will make his eyes stand out. Charles takes the shirt from Erik. It’s nice. “100% cotton.” Erik says, sounding pleased with himself.

“Let me try it on,” Charles says, shrugging off the t-shirt he wore for the shoot. Erik’s eyes follow his every move, roving over Charles' bare chest. Charles throws his t-shirt onto the couch then shrugs on the Havana shirt, but he does not button it up. He rubs his belly with one hand, feeling the trail of hair there that leads down to his groin, arching a little into his own touch. Erik is watching him. No, he’s staring with half lidded eyes, smoky with arousal, as Charles once again arches into his own touch under the guise of stretching. It's the strangest game of seduction Charles has ever engaged in.

Erik licks his lips.

Oh god.

“I don’t know,” Charles manages to choke out. “I’m not sure about the color.”

“Maybe in some better lighting?” Erik asks, sounding entirely too calm considering what's really going on...

“There’s good light in the bathroom,” Charles says casually and he turns and walks towards it. Erik trails behind him.

Erik walks into the bathroom and shuts the door behind him and immediately Charles turns to him and smiles. He leans back against the counter, bracing himself against it with his hands on either side of him, the hard edge digging into his palms. He juts a hip out and looks at Erik in a manner that can only be described as coy.

Erik swallows audibly.

Charles really should say something, like that was a truly masterful piece of theater they had pulled off. Except Charles is rendered mute by Erik advancing towards him, his eyes dark, and even if he could say something, all rational thought is driven from his head the moment Erik comes to press himself up against Charles. He’s already hard and his erection pushing into Charles’ belly.

“Hi,” Erik says, tipping his head down. Charles swallows.

“Hi,” he squeaks back.

Erik’s large square hand goes to the back of Charles’ head and holds him as Erik’s thin, bitten lips descend and there is no need to even ask for permission, because by the time they reach Charles’, Charles has opened his mouth, welcoming the immediate intrusion of Erik’s tongue. The only thing that Charles can think at this point is…

finally finally finally

Charles’ chest is already bare and Erik’s hand that isn’t cradling Charles’ head skims upwards over pale, freckled skin to find one of his nipples. Erik pinches and squeezes it, causing Charles to jerk a little and whimper against Erik’s lips.

Erik pulls away at this small sound, causing Charles to chase him with his lips, because he wants more. Erik smiles at this small symbol of desperation.

“What would you like?” Erik asks, and Charles blinks. Is Erik really asking him to choose? Charles can barely think through the lust that clouds his brain but he still manages to mentally flip through the smorgasbord of sexual acts he’d like to do to, or with, Erik, almost in the same manner he peruses the buffet of breakfast goods the show provides him every morning before the shoot.

Danish, coffee, fresh fruit.

Blow job, fingering, fucking.

In the end, practicality wins out, because they have no lube nearby and no condom, so Charles looks at Erik and says calmly,

“Blow me but I want your finger in my ass when you do it, spit only is fine.”

“Fuck,” Erik says roughly, “who knew Professor Hottie was so dirty.”

Charles ends up naked on the floor, his arms hooked around the back of his thighs, his legs spread wide. Erik is between his thighs, Charles’ cock in his mouth and his finger up his ass, just as requested, his other hand gently pinning down Charles' hip. Charles is hissing out expletives as Erik hollows his cheeks, sucks and slurps and basically gives him the best blow job he’s ever had, despite the cold tiles against his back. Charles’ neck strains from craning it to make sure he doesn’t miss one moment of Erik’s head bobbing up and down. It’s nothing short of hot, dirty and glorious.

When Charles gasps that he’s going to come, Erik gives his cock one last lick with his masterful tongue, then he pulls off and watches as Charles’ cock pulses and spurts all over his belly. Charles wants to fall back against the hard floor and lie there, boneless and sated, but instead he pushes himself up quickly and, swiping his own come off his abdomen, struggles onto his knees and reaches for Erik’s flushed cock, slicking it up. Then Charles grins wickedly and licks his come coated fingers, tasting his own semen. Erik stares stupidly at him, his mouth slack, then he looks down as Charles’ hand grips Erik’s cock and starts to work itself up and down the shaft. A deep hum starts to build in Erik’s chest, a long ragged ‘ohhhhhh’ that Charles wants to commit to memory.

“Tighter,” Erik grunts out and Charles tightens his grip. Then, “faster.” Charles goes faster.

It’s not long before Erik comes with a shout, semen pulsing warm over Charles’ hand and now they can both sink to the floor. Charles ends up on his back, Erik half sprawling across his chest, his face turned into Charles’ shoulder.

“Oh god,” Charles gasps, staring up at the ceiling, taking in deep gulps of air in an effort to slow his breathing. “What was that, I mean holy shit, Erik.”

Raven is going to get one hell of a text tonight.

Charles would say that he’s so fucked, but that doesn’t happen until the next night.

It continues like this. The women tick down, two by two. Charles hates every minute of the deception he’s become involved with. He loves every minute of hot gay sex he has with Erik. They fuck in the shower, in the dressing room, wherever they can find a little bit of privacy. One time after Charles and the girls have spent the day learning about an irrigation project in the African Village they are filming in, Charles becomes overwhelmed with the plight of the village children which leads to him rushing away from the cameras, his face wet with tears as he tries to digest the challenges children growing up in third world countries face on a regular basis. The camera crew respectfully gives Charles some space, filming him leaning against one of the village homes, wiping his eyes, then finally just leaving him there. After peering around, Charles manages to make his way to Erik’s tent without being seen and they get a whole glorious couple hours to have slow, languid sex as well as lie in each others arms afterwards.

“How many girls left,” Erik asks just before he bends his head to suck on Charles’ earlobe. Charles gasps at the contact and all rational thought flees. He pushes at Erik a little, but not convincingly.

“Four. Three after the next cocktail party.”

“Hometown visits coming up,” Erik murmurs, giving his earlobe another suck. Charles sucks in a breath and arches his back.

“Ugh,” Charles mumbles, half at the loss of Erik’s mouth on his earlobe and half at the prospect of involving parents, sisters and brothers in this charade. Erik rolls over Charles and proceeds to straddle his hips.

“One for the road?” Erik asks with a wide grin. “Do you think little Charles is up for it?”

“I do not call my cock ‘little Charles’,” Charles gasps as Erik starts to kiss his way down Charles’ chest.

“Still, what does little Charles think about the situation?” Erik says with a smile, his hand reaching down to stroke Charles’ flaccid cock that’s now starting to perk up a bit.

“Keep doing that and little Charles thinks he’ll be just fine with the direction of things,” Charles gasps, feeling that he’s now starting to get half-hard.

“Mmmm hmmmm,” Erik hums, moving lower. Charles tilts his head back and closes his eyes. Yes, little Charles is entirely happy with the situation.

Basically, Charles’ entire life has become a runaway train heading towards a missing railroad trestle and it’s only a matter of time before it plunges over the cliff into a deadly ravine. It wasn’t long ago that he was a college professor whose biggest challenge in life was dealing with his sister’s neverending opinion that he was boring. Now his days and nights are filled with trying to figure a way out of this god-awful situation, preferably one that includes Erik by his side, and sunsets and declarations of undying love. No matter how much he tries, he can’t see this ending any other way than bad.

Charles still hasn’t figured a way out of his conundrum when the solution comes to him entirely unbidden. It comes in the form of Emma Frost leaning towards him and whispering in his ear during one of their solo dates. Charles prepares himself to hear yet more dirty talk, instead he gets something entirely different.

“They’ve hacked your cell phone,” Emma whispers, her breath hot on his ear. Charles freezes.

“How?” Charles says, startling a little, and Emma reaches around him to pull him even closer.

“Don’t react. I just thought you should know.”

Emma pulls back and before Charles can do anything she leans forward and places a long, sultry kiss on his lips. He struggles to return it because his mind is whirring. Then he freezes a second time as he hears a voice in his head.

Surprise, I’m like you, sugar.

Emma keeps kissing him, and Charles is fully impressed with her multitasking. He’s probably a stronger telepath than Emma. There are very few Omega class telepaths in the world, but Emma pulling off a telepathic link and making out with him at the same time...it’s notable.

Telepath? Charles spurts out in the equivalent of a telepathic gasp. But how, I mean, all the women are supposed to be non-mutant?

“Oh Charles,” Emma says, breaking off their kiss, “you are adorable.”

I lied, you jackass. Really.

It’s at this point that Charles realizes that Emma’s been playing a game all along. The voice in his head is snarky and funny, and nothing like the blonde who bats her eyelashes at him, flaunts her cleavage and keeps showing him baby clothes.

Clever, Miss Frost. Do you even have a niece and nephew?

Ugh. No. I hate kids.

Emma reaches over to feed Charles a strawberry. Charles takes it into his mouth then closes his eyes, as if in ecstasy. He’s getting pretty good at this acting thing, he thinks to himself. It also helps to think about wrapping his lips around Erik’s thick, hard cock instead of the fruit. The cameras continue to roll.

Gross, Charles.

Out of my head, Emma.

I know you’re banging that metal bending wardrobe guy. He’s a hot piece of ass. If you ever want someone to join in...

“No!” Charles blurts out, almost choking on the remainder of the strawberry. Emma is in the middle of reaching for a slice of pineapple. Her dispassionate gaze returns to Charles, and now he can see that she would look very at home wearing leather with a riding crop in her hand. He lifts up a hand, “I mean, I’m allergic, Emma.” Emma smiles coyly, putting the pineapple back on the plate, and Charles feels like he’s stuck in some alternate universe. The woman who is hand-feeding him fruit is a far cry from the one echoing in his head and asking if he’d like to have a threesome.

Nice catch, sugar. As of this morning, they know you’ve been banging him as well. Just thought you’d like a heads up.

Shit. Charles is struck by the sudden urge to jump up, dump Emma on the floor of the posh hotel suite they’re dining in and run and find Erik. Because if they’ve hacked his phone it means they’ve found the myriad of text messages to Raven which make it clear that Charles has indeed found love. A deep and abiding love of Erik Lehnsherr’s cock, including a threat to send her a picture of it. If the producers found those, he’s sure Erik is already fired and on his way back to Los Angeles.

Left this morning, you idiot. Emma provides helpfully. She looks at Charles seriously and runs a finger down his cheek.

“Don’t worry Charles,” Emma says softly, almost turning to the camera, but not quite. “You’ll see me again tomorrow. And before we say good night, I wanted to tell you something.”

“What?” Charles says, feeling confused because it seems Emma is following some sort of script that no one told Charles about. All he can think about is Erik and the fact that he’s most likely gone. He never got to say goodbye. Never got to thank him for an amazing few weeks. Never got a final kiss.

“It’s just, I…” Emma says softly, leaning closer, “I think...I mean, this is so hard. I've never felt this way about someone before."

Oh god, is she actually working up a blush? Are those tears in her eyes? Charles wishes he could just laugh aloud at this point. He makes his best ‘concerned face’.

“I think I’m…I'm..." Emma continues breathily, “...in love with you.”

Seriously? Charles asks as Emma kisses him. I think I might vomit.

All part of the game, sugar.

Scott calls him into his dressing room after the shoot and Charles manages to keep a straight face as he’s confronted with all his transgressions. Scott’s smooth demeanor is gone as he paces back and forth in front of Charles, lecturing him like he’s his father, his white teeth flashing. Charles hears nothing past Scott telling him that his ‘boy toy’ has been sent home and the part when Scott yells ‘you WILL fulfill the contract’ as spittle flies from his mouth. Charles manages to get through the entire thing with just the right amount of humility and contriteness.

Later, as he’s lying in his hotel room feeling sad and alone, he misses Erik but he’s also sad they found his burner cell phone, because he can’t even text Raven to tell her how miserable he is. It seems that there is really no way out of all of this. He’s going to have to fulfill the contract, pick someone to marry and propose to her on bended knee as he entire country watches. True love at its best. He hopes when this is all over he’ll be able to find Erik and convince him to go out on a date with him. Or at least fuck him senseless one last time. They never really got to say goodbye.

The hometown dates come and go. Charles is down to three women. Emma, of course, whose parents live in a Manhattan high rise and greet him with the same chilly demeanor he’s glimpsed under Emma’s act. He drinks martinis with them and asks her dad for her hand in marriage, just as the producers had instructed him too. Emma is all shy, cuddled up to Charles’ side, at the same time telling him telepathically that he’s going to pick her. He really has no choice.

And then I’ll rule the world. Emma says, spooning shrimp cocktail into her mouth. Charles takes another sip of his martini.

What? The reality television world?

A girl has to have goals.

Just then Emma’s mother asks Charles is he wants four or six children and he almost spits into his drink.

“Um, I’ve always envisioned a house-full,” Charles sputters. “Enough for a school.”

The second woman is Moira Bland. Bland actually isn’t her last name. It’s the name Charles has given her, because he can’t remember what her real last name is. Moira is pretty, with brown hair and brown eyes, average height, average build, average everything. She lives in a suburb outside Chicago, in an unremarkable house on a unmemorable street. Charles spends the entire time daydreaming about Erik out of sheer boredom, suffers through her brother questioning his intentions and then visits with her father in the basement. He wishes desperately that the man had another hobby besides taxidermy. Charles can barely concentrate to ask for Bland’s hand in marriage with the glass eyes of five dead deer staring at him from where they’ve been mounted on the wall, and on his way out he almost trips over a taxidermy raccoon that somehow got in the walkway.

Last is Mary Sue. Yes, her name is Mary Sue. It’s unfortunate. She’s a nice southern girl whose mother makes a crab etouffee so out of this world that Charles very briefly considers forgoing Erik’s cock and asking for Mary Sue’s hand in marriage at that very moment. He actually believes himself firmly in love with her for the better part of the hour that follows dinner, until she giggles and tells him that she dreams of going to all kinds of places with him, even travelling outside the country. To places like New Mexico. Charles quickly eliminates crab etouffee as a reason to marry anyone and decides he should just get the recipe.

The day after the unfortunate Mary Sue incident, Charles finds himself on a plane on his way to some exotic locale. The one good thing about his next destination: Raven will be there. The one bad thing about his next destination: Raven will be there. Charles is pretty sure his sister isn’t going to be happy about the demise of his fling with Erik. She’s their biggest fan, after all. And he knows she’ll hate Emma, who at this point is the only reasonable choice Charles has in trying to extricate himself from this circus. Luckily Irene is coming with Raven, and Irene has always been the voice of reason.

The moment Irene sees Charles, she slaps him. Charles touches his stinging cheek. It seems Irene is siding with her girlfriend.

“You have to go after him,” Irene says as Raven stands in the background, her arms crossed over her chest.

“I know if I tell you, you’ll just write it off as another crazy Raven thing,” Raven huffs, “so I told her to tell you.”

“I can’t,” Charles moans. “I’m under contract. Scott threatened to sue me. He’s really scary when he’s angry. He’s really... tan.”

"Goddammit, Charles," Raven spits, "if you love him, you should go get him."

"Who said I love him?" Charles asks. Raven just looks at him with stunned amazement. Then she rolls her eyes, lets out a loud, exasperated sounding sigh and turns her back on him. Charles hears her muttering, 'idiot' as she stalks away, followed by something about having to fix everything herself. Irene just looks at Charles and shrugs, offering him a wan smile.

"Raven," Irene says dryly, watching her girlfriend stalk away.

"Yeah," Charles sighs. "Raven."

"But you do love him," Irene says, picking up an apple from a bowl on the table. She takes a bite and Charles watches her chew. Irene has this calm, wise aura about her. She even manages to chew her apple in an all-knowing manner.

"Yeah," Charles admits, feeling even more defeated, " I do."

Erik is sweet, smart and sexy and if the film crew were to put a camera in front of him right now, Charles would look at it and declare that he was indeed falling in love. Hell no, he's actually head over heels.

The realization that he’s in love with Erik leaves Charles so giddy that the next day, as he’s sending Mary Sue home and she’s sobbing in front of him, mascara smeared down her cheeks, her nose red and running, all Charles can do is look at her and smile. Because he loves Erik. It’s so bad that Scott finally actually yells ‘cut’ then stalks over to Charles and tells him that this is actually a dramatic moment, so wipe that smile off his face. Then he turns to Mary Sue, who is standing trembling at this turn of events, and suggests to her that they need a little more cry and a lot less ugly.

“Okay,” Scott growls, giving Charles and the broken-hearted Mary Sue a final glare from behind his sunglasses, “crush her one more time Charles, and make it good.”

The next stop is the Fantasy Suite.

Oh god, the Fantasy Suite.

The first clue Charles gets is Scott handing him some condoms and explaining that the show doesn’t need the scandal a Fantasy Suite Baby would bring. Charles stares at the no-less-than-twenty condoms he’s gripping in his hand. How many times does Scott think Charles can go in a night?

It’s at this point that Charles regrets not doing a little more research on the show. The next thought he has is whether not it’s too late to claim he’s a virgin. This conjures up the memory of bracing himself on the floor with his forearms, ass in the air and Erik’s hands gripping his hips so hard they left bruises as he fucked into him. No, not a virgin.

He’s pretty sure this isn’t going to be a problem with Emma, but Moira...if Moira has some lacy lingerie and candles and aromatherapy or shit like that, Charles might run out of the Fantasy Suite screaming. Not that he doesn’t sleep with women. He has. Here and there. But not with intent, and not as a test to see if they’re sexually compatible, and definately not as a prelude to marriage.

I can help you, sugar.

Emma! Charles sputters, jumping up a little because he’s just sitting on the couch in his suite and he has no idea where Emma is, yet here she is talking to him in his head. I told you to stay out of my head.

Your anxiety is projecting like crazy. No need to actually go looking. I can give Moira the best night of her life.

It’s unethical. It’s wrong. I would never…

That’s why the world needs people like me. Because I would.

Charles sits for a moment. What’s worse; manipulating Moira’s memories or going through with something he truly does not want?

Fine. Charles thinks. But can you make me really good in bed? Break her heart just because the sex is so good?

Um, no Charles.

The Fantasy Suite dates go off without a hitch. Moira snores softly through the whole night, a goofy smile on her face. Emma is somewhat willing to play chess with him all night, although only after she makes Charles pinky swear he’d stop thinking about sexy times with Erik constantly, claiming it distracts her too much.

Finally the last day of this farce arrives. Except Scott is already taking interviews and promotional tours, telling Charles he's part of the Bachelor family now. Charles wants to tell Scott he already has his own dysfunctional family but instead he just smiles. He gets dressed, wearing a dark navy suit with a blue tie that brings out his eyes. The wardrobe assistant, otherwise known as Not-Erik, is vapid and giggly, telling Charles it's her first job. Charles knows this is exactly what Erik would dress him in and the thought makes his heart clench. Maybe this can all work out. Maybe in six months or a year he can untangle himself from this shit show and if Erik is still available...

If Erik is still available. Oh god. What has he done? Why hadn't he just told Scott where to stick it and flown back to L.A.? He could be in Erik's arms right now. Instead he's about to propose marriage to someone he doesn't love, and considering that it's Emma, he's not sure if he even likes her.

Charles picks out a ring. It's big and sparkly, and good enough for a fake engagement. Then he heads to the site for the grand finale. In a couple hours Charles will be engaged. He wants to throw up.

After Charles sends Bland, um Moira, off in tears, and maybe a high profile stint as the next Bachelorette, Charles stands on the platform the show constructed for this moment. It's situated high on a cliff overlooking the caribbean. The day is warm and sunny and if Charles could take a moment to enjoy any of this he might note how brilliantly blue the ocean is, stretching as far as the eye can see. He might enjoy the light breeze on his face or the sweet scent of tropical flowers that wafts through the air. Instead Charles fiddles with the box in his pocket and rubs the bridge of his nose. He must look the epitome of a man nervous his proposal might be rejected.

Finally the crew starts to stir from where they've been lounging and Charles looks towards the path that Moira had exited down not that long ago. Emma is walking down it, camera crew in tow. She's wearing a flowing white dress that spreads out behind her. It has a plunging neckline that leaves nothing to the imagination. Tacky.

Everyone has their style, darling.

Charles knows the cameras are rolling so he works to keep his face impassive but probably ends up looking a bit constipated. Emma continues towards him, looking nothing short of regal. The queen of gauche.

Fuck you, Xavier.

Finally Emma is standing in front of him, smiling giddily and every bit the woman in love the world wants to see. Charles decides to disperse with any flowery verbiage or declarations of devotion in that moment. If the world wants a fucking proposal, that's what they're going to get. Charles drops to one knee. He takes Emma's hand in his and just when he's about to ask her to be his wife, he hears Emma in his head.

Congratulations, sugar. The love of your life is here.

Hardly, Charles wants to sputter, and he's about to send Emma a telepathic smackdown when he hears the thwup thwup of a helicopter. Everyone looks upwards and for a long moment there’s nothing but clear blue sky with small fluffy clouds dotting it here and there. Then, from behind one of the towering green hills that surround them, a helicopter appears. It’s heading straight towards Charles, Emma and the camera crew.

“Oh Charles! A helicopter for me? You didn’t have to!” Emma gasps, bringing her hands to her mouth.

A bit of overkill, don’t you think? Charles projects wryly.

All part of the game, honey. Emma responds slyly, Do you see what I see?

The helicopter flies towards them and Charles hears Scott yelling something to the crew about not stopping filming. The sun is high in the sky and shining brightly, making it hard for Charles to see. He squints into the brightness and shades his eyes with his hand, staring at the approaching helicopter. Then he sees it.

Someone on the helicopter has dropped a ladder down, and as Charles squints up at it he sees a figure climb out of the open bay on the side and start climbing down the ladder as it sways underneath the craft. The helicopter gets closer, closer and suddenly Charles realizes he recognizes the person who is now dangling beneath it.

Oh my god.

Erik.

It’s Erik! Erik is dangling at the bottom of a ladder and is coming closer and closer to where Charles stands. Tears spring to Charles’ eyes as he stares up at the man he’s head-over-heels in love with.

Sap.

Charles ignores Emma, because Erik is here. And maybe she's right.

The plants and tiki torches around them start to whip from the force of the helicopter blades as it comes to hover just above the group on the ground, then it starts to slowly lower itself. Erik gets closer and closer until he’s just enough off the ground that he can let go of the ladder. He jumps down to the ground, landing about 50 meters from where Charles stands, frozen with shock at this sudden turn of events. Erik is wearing a tux, and it looks amazing on him, and held carefully between his fingers is a rose. Charles gasps and they stand there, staring at each other, eyes locked but neither man moving.

Emma smiles at Charles, and suddenly, in a move that feels entirely uncharacteristic for her, she folds him into a hug, crushing him to her ample bosom. She whispers into his ear,

“Go get ‘im, sugar.”

With that, Charles does. Slowly at first, then gaining speed, he starts to walk towards Erik. When he’s just a few yards away he breaks into a run, leaping into Erik’s arms, Erik’s hands scrambling to hold Charles up as his arms wind around Erik’s neck and his legs clamp around Erik's slim waist. Their lips meet in a kiss that might be considered a kiss of the ages, lips and tongue, deep and wet. Charles sighs into it, amazed at how much he’s missed this man. They both pull back and Erik dips his head to rest his forehead against Charles’.

“Hi,” Erik whispers.

“Hi,” Charles echoes back. His heart is pounding out of his chest and his eyes are stinging with tears. They are both panting, and a bead of sweat rolls down Charles forehead, but he doesn’t move. Behind Erik the helicopter lands, its blades still twirling, the door opens, and Raven steps out. Charles sees this out of the corner of his eyes and wonders exactly when his sister learned to fly a helicopter. From behind him, Charles can hear Scott yelling something but he can’t really make out the words, and he’s not sure if he actually cares to know what Scott thinks of all of this. Erik is here. His Erik.

“I came to get you,” Erik whispers, and the entire world compresses down to the two of them. Charles and Erik, holding each other, foreheads touching, eyes locked, breathing in time with each other.

“I can see that,” Charles manages to pant.

They will laugh about this in the future. Their children will beg them to tell the story about the day daddy asked papa to marry him, Raven will hire a helicopter to fly over their wedding. But right now it’s just them and the entire world is glorious.

“You’re getting heavy,” Erik whispers, and Charles realizes he’s still letting Erik hold his entire weight. He unwraps his legs from around Erik’s waist and touches them to the ground, leaning against Erik at the same time, enjoying the feel of his solid chest against him.

“Sorry, my love,” Charles whispers, nuzzling a little into Erik’s tuxedo jacket.

“I like the sound of that,” Erik murmurs, “‘my love.’”

Erik brings a hand up to stroke Charles’ face then startles because he seems to have forgotten that he’s still holding a rose. With that, Erik lets go of Charles and sinks down onto one knee.

“Charles Francis Xavier,” Erik starts, “you are the most unexpected person. I never thought I’d fall in love the way we did, but it happened. I never thought I’d see you again, but now fate has brought us here together.”

Fate and Raven, Charles adds silently, reminding himself that he needs to thank his sister.

“I need to ask you this question, Charles. Would you spend your life with me? Go to sleep at night and wake up with me? Would you come live with me and be my love for the rest of our lives? Would you accept this rose?”

“Erik!” Charles gasps. “Are you asking...are you saying you want to…”

“Marry you? Be your husband? Stay with you forever?” Erik says, his eyes soft and full of love as he looks up at Charles. “Yes. All of that.”

Charles feels the tears start rolling down his cheeks. He chokes back a sob and sinks to his knees to be even with Erik, taking Erik’s hands in his.

“Yes,” Charles gasps. “Yes, my love. A million times yes.”

The mutant bachelor season is the Most. Dramatic. Season of the Bachelor. Ever. Especially the part where Erik punches Scott after he asks if they can kiss just one more time because the last one wasn’t at quite the right angle for the camera man, and maybe Charles could cry a little harder, because viewers love tears.

Charles thanks Raven. It takes him a day or so because Erik insists on scooping him up and taking him back to the hotel where they fuck each other’s brains out for the next 24 hours, making up for lost time. Finally Raven pounds on their door, yelling that she’s going to have the manager open it up just in case they’re both dead and rotting in there. Suddenly Charles finds their bed occupied by Raven and Irene. Charles introduces Erik to his new sister-in-law and her ever-wise girlfriend, and Raven keeps going on about a double wedding, or something like that.

Emma goes on to be the next Bachelorette, playing coy with the camera during her search for true love. Her time as the Bachelorette leads to her launching her own fragrance and clothing line. She wears one of her pieces to Charles and Erik’s wedding, sitting in the front row and mentally harassing Charles the entire time. He’s her favorite telepath, after all, and she tells him if he ever wants to share Erik she’s still interested.

In the end, Charles finds love. True love. Just not in the way anyone expected, and while his wife wasn’t there on the show, it seems his husband was. The next season of the Bachelor features a handsome mutant named Alex and a collection of 24 hot guys for him to choose from. Maybe Charles didn’t save the world, but he did move mutant rights and gay rights forward. At least that’s what he tells himself. And Erik, being a perfectly lovely husband agrees with him.

~fin~