As Erik saw it, the fact that Raven had taken so seriously his advice about tigers not hiding their stripes was not, at first, a problem. It wasn’t like her scales didn’t cover everything that counted.
But when other members of the Brotherhood began to follow Raven’s lead, issues started to develop.
Emma was the first of the Hellfire Club crew to dispense with clothing, but since Emma’s ideas of fashion had always taken the concept that “less is more” to their most extreme, it wasn’t as though that much had changed. Anyway, it was pretty clear from the first moment that Erik came downstairs and saw Emma sitting at the kitchen table wearing nothing more than a sardonic smile that she was just trying to annoy him. Because this was why Emma did most of the things that Emma did, Erik decided that the best strategy was to ignore her.
But when Azazel and then Janos also decided that it would be a great plan to walk around the Headquarters naked, things started to become more problematic. This was all very unprofessional. He was trying to run a serious political organization here, not a nudist colony.
All of which was disconcerting enough, but all sorts of behavioral norms seemed to fall by the wayside along with their clothing. And when the other four began to drop progressively less subtle hints that he should join them (and, it became clear after a while, for more than just casual and friendly naked time) things became completely impossible.
“I don’t think it’s wise to mix work with pleasure,” he said in response to the more obvious advances, hoping against hope that the others would take a hint and at least cut down on the amount of time and energy that was currently being dedicated to wild orgies, but no such luck.
He wondered if Charles was dealing with anything even remotely as absurd as this back at the mansion.
Aside from himself, Angel was the only person in Brotherhood who’d managed to keep her clothing on and her libido in check, so Erik went to her for help. She didn’t have much more to offer than an annoyed shrug, though.
“I don’t know,” she told him. “Maybe they’re going through a phase or something.”
“They’re all too old for this type of phase. Especially Azazel,” Erik snapped. “Look, you’ve known the other three longer than I have. Is this all… normal for them?”
“Dunno,” she said again. “When Shaw was around everyone was sort of too busy for these kinds of shenanigans, you know? Why don’t you come up with something else for them to do with their time? Ideally, not a plot to start a nuclear war with the human race or whatever. Because that actually wasn’t very cool.”
Well, hadn’t he been trying to come up with a good plan since day one? Of course he had, but it was impossible to sit down and gather his thoughts when at any given moment naked!Emma might pass into his field of vision, more often than not literally leading Azazel, Janos and/or both around by the cock. Even when they took it to the bedrooms, it was rather difficult to focus his mind on anything other than what was probably going on behind closed doors.
The situation simply wasn’t conductive to effect brainstorming.
Something had to change.
He wasn’t about to approach Azazel about anything that might be misinterpreted as… critical. It wasn’t that Erik was exactly scared of the teleporter, except that he was actually sort of was. There was no point in going to Janos, because it was obvious that he pretty much just went along with what everyone else was doing. And Emma would only revel in his discomfort and find some way to make things even worse, so she was out.
That left Raven, who was the obvious choice anyway, since he’d come to suspect with growing astonishment that she was the ringleader in all of this.
He had an idea – probably hopelessly optimistic, but – that if he could talk Raven back into clothing the weird sex stuff might come to an end, or at least get toned down some.
But it was a sensitive operation – he knew if he hurt her feeling or pissed her off there would be no chance of success – so when he finally got her alone, Erik tried to play it subtle.
“I’ve been thinking,” he started, “about the importance of pockets.”
“Pockets,” Raven repeated. She frown at him, but Erik pressed on.
“Pockets – exactly. Have you thought about how you are going to carry your house keys, for example, without pockets?”
“I have a lanyard,” she told him flatly.
“A lanyard,” Erik repeated, wondering just what the hell a lanyard was. “Excellent – that’s good thinking. But what about all the other things you might need to carry with you on a mission? False I.D.s, money, a gun –”
“You don’t carry a gun in your pocket, Erik. At least I hope you don’t, because if you do you’re going to end up blowing your own balls off that way.”
Erik could feel a migraine coming on. Two trips to the shooting range and she’s a bloody expert, he thought to himself.
“That’s not the point,” he said.
“Okay, what is your point, then?”
Erik scrambled desperately for an answer. “I just think you’d look really good in white spandex.”
“White spandex,” she repeated dubiously. Raven didn’t have eyebrows when she was blue, but Erik supposed that if she did she’d be arching one at him now.
“Yes,” he agreed, making things up as he went along. “Like a, um… white tiger or something? A white dress would look very nice with your scales.”
“Are you hitting on me right now?”
She smiled at him happily. “Aw, that’s cute.” She leaned over to kiss him on the forehead – rather chastely, given her recent conduct. Raven stood. “I’ll think about it, okay? Maybe Emma has some good ideas – or Janos.” She added almost as an afterthought, before turning to hurry from the room, “I wonder what Azazel looks like in white…”
And when she was gone, Erik leaned back and gave a heavy sigh of relief, fairly certain that he’d safeguarded the future of Mutant society.