Friday October 5th, 2012 - 05:51PM
Slamming a huge, oak door wasn't easy, and Charles really just wanted the heavy sound of it doing so to put a fitting exclamation mark at the end of the absolutely lousy past twenty-four hours he'd had. Well, it wasn't all bad, but the bad stuff brought the rest of the day down around his ears. It probably didn't help that he'd been up since 3AM and it was now.... 6PM.
Charles dropped his keys in his coat and threw it onto a chair in the front hall. He didn't carry all that much staff in the huge house with half its rooms shut off and covered in sheets, but the coat would be hung by the door when he went back out tomorrow, no doubt about it.
Because he wasn't not going out again tonight. Not as he'd planned. Even with the lack of sleep he wanted to attend the performance. Well, had wanted to.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
Charles almost fell out of bed when his mobile went off, tearing him from his sleep. A quick check on the display made his heart jump.
"Raven?" he said as he took the call.
"Is this Charles Xavier?" someone asked at the other end.
"Yes?" Charles had a sinking feeling. Why was some stranger calling him from Raven's number?
"This is doctor Roger Smith, I'm calling on behalf of Raven Darkholme, who has you listed as her only next of kin. She asked me to call you to let you know that we're taking her into hospital as she's gone into labor."
Charles stared unseeingly into his dark bedroom. "That's not for another three or so weeks," he said weakly. He was supposed to have made it to London and back again before she gave birth.
There was a small, soft huff of a laugh at the other end of the line. "Setting the time of a birth is not as exact a science as we could sometimes wish for," Smith told him.
Charles took a deep breath. He knew that, of course he did. "If you would be so kind as to give me the details, I'll get to the hospital as quickly as I can," Charles said, switching his bedside lamp on and blinking through the light to find the notepad and pen he always kept there.
Jotting down the information, he threw himself out of bed, grabbed a pair of jeans and a washed out t-shirt. It was possible he'd never run that fast through a quick routine of brushing his hair out of his eyes, finding a pair of shoes and bolting out the door with his coat in his hand, heading for his car.
The birth... was a little drawn out. First of all, Raven had gone into labor in the middle of the night, but she hadn't given birth until around noon the next day. Charles spent the night sitting with her, walking her around, the doctors trying to figure out if she was far enough along to give birth yet, or if it might pose a problem.
In the end, Charles had been happy to see his sister lie back in the bed with a blue baby in her arms, his little tail curled around her wrist. For all the heartbreak her relationship with Azazel had brought her, the outcome was incredibly cute, staring quietly up at his mother once he'd been dried, weighed, and fed.
Charles had carefully brushed his mind against the child's awareness, and had been met with nothing but feelings of contentment and safety.
"Charles, go home," Raven had told him with a tired laugh. "I love you for being here for me during the birth, but please, please, get some rest. You look like death warmed over."
"I wish I could stay home from the symposium and help you instead," Charles said with a sigh.
"Don't you dare, Professor," she scolded him lightly, sighing happily as the baby curled his little fist around her index finger. "You've fought hard to be where you are today, go forth, share your knowledge and make this a better world for Kurt."
"You've named him Kurt?" Charles asked quietly. He'd have never thought she'd choose that name.
"I like the name," she told him quietly, "and a good name deserves a good person to make up for the bad of the past."
Charles dipped his head with a tired smile. "When you're right, you're right."
"I'm always right," Raven said with a wink, ruined completely by her yawn. "Don't worry, Angel will be back tomorrow and she'll stay with me for a few months until she starts at the university. She'll help me out so you can have a life as well and take care of your work."
Charles nodded with a small grin. "Alright, alright."
Leaving Raven and his new nephew with a kiss to each their foreheads, Charles exited the hospital, the day looking bright and cheery. He could make it home to get a quick nap, take care of a few things from home that didn't necessitate him going into the office and then he'd go off to the opera for a lovely, lovely night.
Tonight would be Erik Lehnsherr's first performance back in the US after nearly a year of touring. Considering his popularity, as both singer, and a mutant rights spokesperson, Charles had had to book his tickets well in advance. Well before the ticket office could even think of asking him to rent out his box for the performance.
Charles did not, contrary to what Raven might say, have a crush on Erik Lehnsherr. The man had talent, charisma, was an open and out mutant, not to mention openly bisexual and very vocal for both causes. It was only natural that Charles would be a fan. Not that he needed an excuse, of course.
And this was pretty much when his day started going downhill. Charles checked his messages and found one from his assistant, letting him know that there had been a rare woodworm infestation in the walls separating the boxes at the opera, and as such they had been shut off. Apparently only the dividing walls had been damaged, but it was enough to have to bar them from being used until repairs had been done.
Of all days for this to happen...
Charles frantically called the Met, only to be told that yes, there had indeed been a problem. No, they had no other tickets, unless he wanted them to cancel someone else's ticket.
For a split second Charles almost said yes, then realized what a horrible move this would be on his part. He did, however, wonder if other box holders had demanded this. He wouldn't put it past them. And of course the whole venue was sold out.
"No, it's quite alright," Charles said with a sigh. "There'll be other performances." He hung up and sat back in his seat. And of course just to show Charles that the day was indeed not going in his favor, fat droplets of rain spattered against the windscreen.
The drive home was grey, dreary and Charles had to force his attention onto the road. He was tired, disappointed and he really, really needed sleep.
Halfway home, he was stuck in a traffic jam and to make matters worse, about fifteen minutes from home, he nearly ran over a man who was standing in the middle of the road, waving his arms.
Charles cursed and swerved, nearly throwing his own car into the ditch. Pulling onto the side of the road, he stopped and rolled down his window, stretching out his mind to make sure he wasn't in danger of being mugged or anything.
Of course, to spite him, a mugging might have been easier to handle than what did follow.
Charles stepped out into the rain that had now become a light drizzle, and he sensed no danger from the man on the road or the passenger in the car. Even if the stressed looking stranger nearly bowled him over. The man, who introduced himself as Cortez, demanded he help them.
Now, Charles was, as a general rule, a helpful man, but he would have liked to be asked, not told to help. With his tired mind and on top of the whole opera debacle, he almost told the man to bugger off, right up until he realized who was in the car that the man had been standing next to when Charles had almost run him over.
"Cortez! We're late already!"
Charles stared as a tall man exited the car, making a face as the drizzle hit him. He was shielding a phone by his ear and carried on his quiet, but intense conversation with whomever it was at the other end..
And Charles would always claim, afterwards, that the only reason he'd let himself be bullied into acting as driver for the two of them, back the way he had just come, was the fact that coming face to face with Erik Lehnsherr on a wet road on a rainy October day, had left him speechless, and his assistant, Cortez, had rolled right over Charles, whose sleep-deprived mind had no defenses left.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
Charles took a deep breath, slamming the door to the library, and unlike the heavier front door, this one gave off a much more satisfying boom than the front door had.
Marching over to his liquor cabinet, Charles made a rude noise and pulled down one of the good bottles of scotch, pouring himself half a glass of it. He barely hesitated before downing it and letting two more follow suit.
Filling his glass again, Charles dropped into the large arm chair by the window, staring at nothing for a moment.
So Erik Lehnsherr, who Charles had adored from afar for years, for his his passion, for his talent on stage (not to mention, his damnably good looks), was a grade B bastard, who employed a grade A bastard as his assistant.
Rubbing his forehead tiredly, Charles curled up in the chair, huffing in displeasure. Of course, if the assistant had simply been an arse in general, Charles could have forgiven it all, but he'd been roped into driving them into the city, to the Met of all places, before being left at the front, without so much as a thank you.
Wasn't this the least he could have gotten? If not a ticket for the sold out performance, then the least Lehnsherr and his minion could have done, was say 'thank you'.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
New York Metropolitan Opera House
Erik stalked down the narrow hallway that lead to his changing room. Cortez had run off to get him something to drink. There were days where he really hated the stress of a performance night. At least mixed with his mother fracturing her wrist and him having to convince her over the phone to go to the hospital.
It was the only way he could be sure she'd go. There was no doubt where Erik's stubborn streak had come from, and his mother's argument that it was merely a sprain had been rendered moot, as an x-ray had shown her wrist had indeed been fractured. He almost wished they'd made her wear a heavy cast in retaliation for making him worry.
Of course she found it absolutely hilarious that he'd worry about her like this. She was the calm rock in the storm of his public life. The public in turn barely knew of her, as she wasn't interested in being dragged into it and Erik respected her choice to remain as anonymous as she could, even with the life her son lived.
And then on the rushed way from his tailor, still on the phone with his mother, on route to the Met, they had had a flat. No, it really hadn't been Erik's day.
At least the performance had gone off without a hitch - even if the director of the house had apologized for having had to shut down half the boxes. The audience had liked the performance and now Erik just wanted to get back to check up on his mum.
And then there was the good man who'd been so helpful and driven them to the Met. Erik had only had half an eye on him, but he'd been pretty cute and accommodating. He had to...
"Cortez!" Erik raised his voice, wondering where his assistant might be.
Erik very much didn't jump in surprise. At all.
"Do you have the information on the man who drove us here?" Erik asked, he wanted to thank him, maybe send him a nice basket of wine and chocolate. Erik felt a little bad about letting Cortez handle the man on his own, especially since Erik had reprimanded him several times in the past on his attitude towards people who were not Erik. A rude assistant would reflect badly on Erik in the end. However, finding an assistant was hard and Cortez was the only one who'd lasted more than six months in Erik's employ.
"Sorry, sir," Cortez said stiffly, "but we were in a hurry."
"So you're saying there's no way for us to send a token of appreciation to the young man whose car and time we appropriated?" Erik asked quietly.
"I'm sorry, sir. No."
Erik rubbed his forehead and took a deep breath. "Cortez, I've warned you before, so consider this your last warning. You are a fair assistant, but you have to balance out my demeanor and as I'm not the gushy, cuddly type, I need you to remember these things for me, take care of them when they arise."
"Of course, sir. Sorry, sir."
Erik shook his head. "It's a warning, Cortez, heed it."
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
And of course the only way to appease her, was to let her come along to London for the special performance he was doing at a Mutant rights awareness charity.
He was pretty sure that there was no way she could have actually planned it this way, but this was his mother and he had long since learned the hard way not to be surprised by how she always ended up having things her way.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
Charles took a deep breath, looking out at the street outside his hotel. He'd missed Britain and being back in London did feel great. He did hate the thought of having left Raven behind barely a week after she had given birth in order to attend this symposium on the Friday. Then there was the charity afterwards, which he had to admit he was quite looking forward to as well.
He had put the previous week's ultimate low behind him, he really had. And he'd more or less forgiven Lehnsherr in his head, at least enough to put the man's songs back onto his playlist after three days of doing without. He'd never realized just how well he relaxed and worked with that powerful voice in his ears.
Well, he should have known better than to think Lehnsherr was an ordinary man like himself. Celebrities were not necessarily the way the public perceived them. They did do a lot of publicity shite to appear more approachable when in reality they were not.
Charles grinned as he checked a new message that had ticked in on his phone. Raven would send him at least one or two pictures a day of Kurt. Most often the little boy would be sleeping but occasionally he'd be lying there, staring into the camera phone and Charles felt as if he had real eye contact with him.
It was still strange to think he was an uncle now, but he was thankful that Raven had made it through the birth without any problems, and that Kurt was a picture of health, the curl of his tail apparently indicating his mood. If Charles was to believe Raven.
Charles checked through the program again. The symposium was for the whole day, from 8AM to 4PM with coffee and a general opportunity to mingle afterwards - and the charity in the evening from 8PM. With a little luck he wouldn't have any trouble getting on his flight on Saturday morning. He'd be home with Raven soon enough.
Also, he did wonder what the surprise they were promising for the charity might be. Hopefully it was something tasteful. Nothing worse than ending a symposium about a hopeful future in burning fire and pitchforks. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
Charles stood as tall as he could, feeling like he was on top of the world. The symposium might not change things tomorrow, but the debates had been brilliant and his own part, here at the end, had gone better than he could have hoped for. And what more could he ask for? The questions from the participants had actually been intelligent most of the time.
The last hour would be spent having drinks together and mingling, networking and Charles smiled happily as it meant he could maybe slip out a little earlier. Not that he minded the mingling, but he could do with a little fresh air.
Slipping out into the main entrance area of the hotel, Charles leaned against a pillar and checked his phone, finding no less than six new photos from Raven. Shaking his head, he laughed softly.
"You look like a happy young man," someone said behind him.
Charles turned around and found an elderly lady behind him. She was no taller than he was, wearing a gorgeous two piece business suit.
"I guess I am," Charles said with a laugh at her infectious smile. He turned the phone to show her the latest image of Kurt, who was lying on his back, hands and tail waving in the air, eyes wide and intense.
"Oh, how adorable," she replied, turning her attention back to him. "Yours?"
"My nephew," Charles said with a nod.
"Well, congratulations, then," she said, offering her hand. "Edie Eisenhardt, and I must also congratulate you on your speech in there."
Charles felt his cheeks heat as he took her hand. "Thank you, but the symposion has been a great meeting of minds. Only the future will show if we've made a difference with it."
"You've given people food for thought," Edie said with a smile.
"As a professor, I guess it's all I can ask for," Charles agreed easily. "Coaxing thought from the minds of people."
"It's a start," she agreed.
"And where are my manners? Charles Xavier, at your service." He bowed lightly, winking at her.
"How lovely," she said with a laugh, putting her hands together. "A young man with manners."
"Are you here with one of the organizations?" Charles asked curiously.
"Oh, I'm here on my own accord," Edie replied. "I may not be a mutant myself, though I have a son who is, but I was born in a concentration camp in Poland, my father died there, my mother escaped. Persecution and hatred are known enemies to me."
Charles drew a startled breath. "My utmost respect, Mrs. Eisenhardt."
"Call me Edie, and that's respect enough," She said with a nod of her head.
"Edie, then, if you call me Charles," he readily agreed.
"I heard you speak last year in New York," she told him. "It was a wonderful speech, and as I was here in London anyway, I thought it would be interesting to hear you again."
A little flushed, Charles shrugged. "Thank you," he said quietly. Applause from a group of people he could handle, but this woman was intense in her approval.
"I should have been able to hear you speak more often," she admitted. "I've even thought of attending a few of your lectures at Columbia, as I do live in New York."
"Well, if you can't make it, my dear Edie, since I live close to the city as well, I could always make a housecall," he said warmly.
"Now, that is not something I would say no to," she said with a laugh. She handed him a small personal card with her address printed on it. "If you ever feel the need to talk to an old woman, you are more than welcome to come around."
Charles nodded, feeling at ease with her. Her mind was ordered and quiet, meticulous in ways he wasn't used to. And unless she was a master in shielding, she meant every word she was saying. This was the kind of strong woman he could have only dreamed of his mother being, but never had been. The kind of strength and warmth you imagined fairy tale mothers would have.
"I should get some rest before the night's charity event," Edie said, rubbing her thumb against the white strap she was wearing around her wrist. She shook her head at his alarmed look. "Just a small slip in my bathroom - banged it against the sink."
Charles huffed but grinned nevertheless. "You do seem like a strong-willed lady," he admitted.
"I am, much to my son's eternal torment, if you ask him," she confided in him.
"We won't then," Charles offered with a laugh.
"Well, I guess it's all part of caring," she admitted as he walked her to the elevator. "Don't be a stranger, Charles. We'll probably meet again tonight, but when you return to New York, I would greatly like to hear your opinion on things and debate it when we don't agree."
This made Charles laugh out loud. "Nothing would please me more, Edie," he agreed.
With a lighter heart, Charles headed back into the conference hall to do a small, final round before he too had to get ready for the evening's charity.
It was pleasant enough, as was dinner and Charles was in a good mood when he entered the same conference hall for the charity ball. And it held true all the way through his second little talk with Edie. He mingled with the other participants and then the night's speaker stepped up and the usual blah-blah-blah about spending money on a good cause were spoken before the night's surprise.
And Charles was rooted to the spot. As the night's surprise was none other than Erik Lehnsherr.
He did manage to enjoy the performance, but he had to admit to himself that while he had been trying to convince himself that Erik Lehnsherr wasn't all that hot since they had met, it was hard to keep up the opinion. Especially when the man looked even better in real life than the GQ shots that had circulated the internet earlier in the year. Most of which Charles had on his computer.
As the performance came to an end, Charles realized that Lehnsherr, as a Mutant rights spokesperson, would be circulating the room. He was caught between running away and staying just to see if the man couldn't be at least civil in public.
The choice was taken from him as his phone vibrated in his pocket. More than once, so a call and not a text message. Charles took it as an excuse to leave the room and made his way to front hall, picking up the call.
"Charles?" Raven sounded tired.
"Yeah, it's me. Is everything alright?" Raven knew about the charity and that he'd be home the next day, if she was calling...
"Yeah, I just have a small problem," she admitted sheepishly. "Angel's grandmother has fallen ill and Angel has to go home to her tomorrow. I know I should be able to handle this on my own...."
"Hush," Charles told her, a little worried. "It's no sign of weakness if you need help, Raven."
"I just wanted to know when you'd be home and if it would be okay to stay over at your apartment."
Charles grinned. "I'll see about getting an earlier flight," he told her. "And shush, I do this because I want to. And if you can handle it today, go over to my apartment, and I'll have Alex or Darwin check up on you, alright?" He knew Raven was well acquainted with his neighbors and he'd call them afterwards and tell them she was on her way.
"You're a good brother, Charles," Raven said quietly at the other end.
"Seriously, Raven, is everything okay?" Charles asked.
"Yeah, it's just Kurt's not sleeping much and I'm afraid to make mistakes when I'm so tired."
"I'll be home soon," he told her, heading for the elevator. "I'll see you soon."
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
Erik stared for a moment, down into his captivated audience. He recognized the young man in the well cut suit, but for a moment he couldn't quite place him. He was almost at the end of his final song, when the man slipped out the door - before it hit him. And Erik was glad he knew his repertoire back to front, because there was a jolt in his chest that urged him to dive from the stage and run after the man.
Which he of course couldn't. Not in the middle of the performance, not only because of the audience, but his mother would have his head for such behavior.
As it were, it put another dampener on his evening not being able to catch up with the same man who had so kindly helped him. It simply meant it wasn't his evening at all. His mother had told him about some of the speeches at the symposium that he might have liked to listen to, but a promotional meeting on the other side of London had made him late for the actual symposium, and the traffic itself had made him almost late for the charity performance as well.
The performance over and done with, Erik took a deep breath behind the stage, wiped sweat from his face and swallowed down a bottle of water before making sure he was presentable before joining his mother among the people at the charity itself.
He had to stop for more than a few congratulatory talks and several date offers before he caught up with his mother - feeling his way by the familiar touch of the necklace he had given her years ago. She was normally one to stay out of the limelight, and Erik had been adamant from the earliest days of his career that she wouldn't be dragged into the media by anyone unless she wanted to.
However, it was she who had asked to come along to the symposium as well and he still had to hear from her how it had been, seeing he'd missed it.
As he reached her side he found her greeting him with a smile.
"That was a lovely performance, dear," she told him, looking around with a curious look on her face.
"Are you looking for someone?" Erik asked curiously.
"Oh, I made the acquaintance of Professor Xavier earlier today, and I would have enjoyed introducing you to him," she said with a shrug. "But it seems he has disappeared."
Erik recalled some of the texts his mother had forwarded to him written by Xavier. While Erik couldn't say he agreed with everything the man had written, and much of it had been a little too technical and scientific for Erik to fully get into, he was glad his mother had seemingly had a good time meeting him. Erik did like the idea of her having friends she could talk shop with, especially since Erik could only do so part of the time, his own career eating much of his time. Not for the first time in the past few years, he considered slowing down, getting away from the limelight a little more often.
Then again, he still loved it too much and he would carry on as long as his mother could take care of herself and urged him to pursue his career. She had always been an independent soul and he'd been brought up that way as well, never knowing his father, but his mother teaching him all the right things to get him through his own life.
"Well, if your lovely company wasn't enough to hold him here, his loss," Erik said with a wink.
"Oh, you," she scolded him with a laugh. "Go mingle, talk to these people, I can tell how much they want to talk to you. And where's your rude assistant?"
She'd never made a secret of how little she'd liked Fabian Cortez. He had always been far too rude to her taste. His mother appreciated good manners, after all.
"I fired him," Erik told her with a huff. "I sent him home to the States with a month's extra pay. I've had to ease too many ruffled feathers - and it's given me more work than he's taken off my hands," Erik admitted.
"Well, good riddance," she said with a laugh. "Go, I have people I want to mingle with as well."
"Bossy," Erik said without heat before he did as he was told.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
Erik let himself into his mother's apartment. It had been a long day of rehearsals and he had a performance the next night. Unfortunately his own apartment had had a messy water leak the previous night and Erik could either book into a hotel or take his mother's offer of the guest room. And it wasn't really a question of one or the other. If he chose the hotel, his mother would make life hell for him for a while - guilt tripping him was a time honored tradition for her and he'd long since learned to do just as she wished.
Happily so, really, because it meant when he got up on Sunday morning, he didn't have to stand on formalities like getting dressed. And he would have formality enough for a Saturday night's performance. Sunday at his mother's sounded like a little slice of heaven to him.
Erik put his bag in the guest room, returning to the main apartment afterwards, checking his mother's calendar on the wall. Ah, she was at a meeting tonight and she had... he paused for a moment. Oh, she hadn't mentioned a brunch date on Sunday. Erik shook his head fondly. At times it seemed his mother had more of a social life than he did, going out and eating with friends.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
"Oh, really," Charles said with a laugh as he parked his car as close as he could to the the building housing Edie's apartment. "How can I say no to your company for a few more hours?"
"If you have things to do, my young friend, you should not be afraid to say no," she told him, "I value manners as well as honesty above all else," she said with a nod.
Charles smiled softly. He's so far spent the Sunday morning having brunch with Edie Eisenhardt, talking mutant rights, cooking, manners and to his surprise she had been very interested in hearing he had met Erik Lehnsherr, her reaction amusement mixed with horror as he'd explained to her what had happened that day.
He'd assured her he hadn't been on his best that day either, on top of his sister having given birth and learning that he'd miss the night's performance. He hadn't missed the previous night's performance at the Met, though. Even if he'd had to do without his private box.
He'd tried telling himself that his obsession with Erik Lehnsherr would, should be dwindling after having been ignored by aforementioned Erik Lehnsherr and treated like dirt by his assistant. Still, he had to admit that the performance at the charity and the previous night at the Met had been near perfection.
Well, as long as he didn't have to deal with the man personally, he could appreciate his wonderful voice, his performance as an artist and his fantastically good looks from afar. Sometimes meeting your idol could take quite a bit of the starlight out of it.
"I do not have other things to do, Edie, as I've already told you. I consider Sundays time to relax and do the things I don't have time for otherwise."
"Very well," she agreed with a laugh. "I do believe my son is home, his own apartment has suffered a few broken pipes and it meant he had to leave it for a few days."
"Having a lazy Sunday morning?" Charles asked curiously. Edie didn't strike him as a woman who would let her own flesh and blood sleep in.
"He had a late night last night - working," she said with a shrewd look. "I felt it best to let him sleep this morning."
"And he won't mind?" Charles asked. "I mean, that I barge in unannounced?"
Edie gave him a look as they walked through the entrance hall, stepping into the elevator. "Charles, my dear. I'm an adult woman and I will not let anyone dictate my life or my friends or when and where I meet with them."
Charles laughed out loud. Not for the first time he wished his own mother could have been a little more like Edie. Heart-warm and welcoming, no-nonsense and with such a big personality. He still wasn't sure if half the tales she'd told him earlier had been true. She had the kind of face and attitude that told Charles that the last thing he wanted was to play games with this lady. She had the most masterful poker face he'd ever seen and he was far too well mannered to peek into her mind for a fact check.
Edie led him along a hallway of apartments, greeting a few of the people they met along the way.
Unlocking her door, she led him in and pointed him towards the kitchen. "Go right ahead, I may live in a large apartment with plenty of room for a dining room, but I still prefer to keep it all cozy in the kitchen."
Charles grinned, hung up his coat and toed off his shoes before doing as he was told.
Stopping dead in the doorway, he stared at the back of a tall, lean man, very obviously straight out of the shower as his shoulders were still pebbled with droplets of water and his hair was damp and sticking up all over the place.
He couldn't tear his eyes away from the way the long upper body tapered down into a pair of low slung jeans, droplets trailing down here and there, disappearing underneath the waistband.
Charles had no idea for how long he just stood there, staring, before the man turned around, giving him a surprised look.
And if Charles day had started out quite splendid, it was fast going down the drain.
"You!" Erik Lehnsherr exclaimed, slamming the fridge shut.
Charles backed away, two steps, wondering what mirror he might have stepped through when he'd entered the apartment. Of course, backing away and not looking where he was going, was stupid. His heel caught the edge of the door step and before he knew it, his world flipped upside down, the back of his head meeting with the hardwood floor.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
At the same time that Charles remembered what had gone before, he stared at the upside down face of Erik Lehnsherr, frowning down at him.
"Oh, bugger," Charles muttered, closing his eyes again, wishing hard as he could that it would all go away, that it was all a dream, that he hadn't ogled a half naked Erik Lehnsherr, Opera Singer Extraordinaire in the house of the man's own ...mother.
"Edie knew," he muttered. "She did it on purpose."
The room was quiet for a moment, then a snort of a laugh being suppressed. "She probably did, whatever it is you are referring to. She's a devious old lady."
Charles chanced cracking an eye open and to both his regret and relief, he found Lehnsherr had donned a t-shirt, which at least meant Charles wouldn't be sidetracked by staring at his naked chest.
Talk about first and second meetings down the drain.
"I am glad the two of you can bond over something," Edie said dryly as she put a mug of steaming tea down on the table by the couch. "And while I did realize today that you are the man who helped Erik out and whom Erik rudely didn't thank, I had no idea that setting this right would result in you unconscious on my floor."
Charles stared up at her, struggling to sit up. He felt embarrassed enough as it was.
Lehnsherr rolled his eyes and gently took hold of Charles' elbow, helping him to sit upright before dropping into the couch right next to Charles.
"Erik, dear, you're scaring the poor man," Edie scolded him as she handed Charles the tea.
"No, it's... it's quite alright," Charles managed to get out, feeling like Alice down the rabbit hole, because he wasn't sure he could've ever imagined anything this surreal. Of course there was a great chance he'd hit his head harder than he really had.
Lowering his shields a little, Charles winced. Yeah, the knock on the head hurt, but he could tell that worry was coming off both Edie and Lehnsherr. So not his imagination and at least he felt no animosity coming off Lehnsherr.
"I just wasn't expecting your son to be..." Charles began, then trailed off.
"Half naked in my kitchen?" Edie said drily.
"Mutter!" Heat rose to color Lehnsherr's cheeks, his voice full of fond exasperation.
Somehow, such a small thing as a flushed face was enough to make Charles relax back into the couch. So, he was sitting here next to his biggest idol, with said man's mother on an ordinary Sunday.
He could deal. Raven was never going to let him live it down, though, if she ever learned of it. But he could deal with it.
"I am sorry for having ulterior motives for bringing you up here," Edie said with a soft smile, "but I recognized your story of helping Erik from his own version of it, and since I knew he felt badly for not having thanked you for your help that day, I thought it would not only allow him to do so, but also set your first impression of him right."
"I am glad to be able to thank you," Lehnsherr said, voice soft and low.
And, oh boy, was it doing things to Charles' insides.
"I was a bit stressed that day, and no, I know, mother, that it does not excuse poor behavior. I was terribly late because she'd broken her wrist in the morning and I spent most of said morning on the phone, convincing her to go see a doctor."
Charles raised an eyebrow at Edie.
"Yes, my son worries too much," Edie said with a sigh, sipping her own tea.
"Your son worries because he is your son," Lehnsherr said with a put upon look on his face.
"Well, I didn't exactly have the most stress-less day that day either," Charles admitted. "I had spent the night in the hospital with my sister as she gave birth, I was looking forward to seeing you at the Met in the evening, only to then having had a phone call a little earlier about how the private boxes had been shut off due to some exotic wood worm, and then..." Charles bit his lip. He had to stop going off like that, rambling.
"Oh, you're a fan?" Edie asked, her eye narrowing, a calculating gleam to her eyes.
"I.. ahem," Charles squirmed in his seat, the intent gazes of both Lehnsherr and Edie making him feel uneasy.
"In that case, I'm doubly sorry for having been rude and not thanking you," Lehnsherr said, leaning a little closer, arm slung casually over the back of the couch.
Charles stared into his tea. Took a sip. Another, until he drained the mug.
"More tea, dear?" Edie asked, standing up.
"Oh, no, not if it's an inconvenience," Charles hurriedly said. She wasn't going to leave him alone in the living room with...
"Shush, I'm getting myself a fresh mug, so it's hardly an inconvenience," she told him with a small grin.
"Well," he said, caught between handing over the mug and hanging onto it as if it were a lifesaver.
Lehnsherr literally took the choice from him by gently taking the mug from his hands and handing it to his mother. "Do you want me to make it?" he asked.
Edie snorted and stood, not gracing him with an answer.
"She doesn't trust my ability to make tea," Lehnsherr confided in him, "I'm a coffee drinker and per definition unable to make proper tea."
"I'm sure it would be fine," Charles mumbled. He couldn't help but notice how close Lehnsherr was sitting. "Mr. Lehnsherr," he added.
"Call me Erik," Erik said with a small smile. "You're a telepath, aren't you?"
Charles nodded. It was public knowledge after all.
"Did you intend to project your thoughts when you stepped into the kitchen?" Erik asked sweetly.
Charles blanched, blinking rapidly. "Oh no," he muttered. If he'd slipped and projected at that moment, it would have been... Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself. "Are you deliberately trying to embarrass me?" he asked. As much as Erik had apologized for the first meeting, Charles was beginning to lean towards his earlier decision that Erik Lehnsherr was best admired from afar.
"Oh," Erik pulled back, looking a little embarrassed himself. "I was... attempting to flirt with you. I thought..."
Charles buried his face in his hands. This was going wrong in so many ways. Maybe he should just go home. He didn't realize he'd muttered the last part.
"No, I'm the one who's at fault here," Erik said, pulling back. "I had no right to assume that you were interested."
"If I was projecting my initial impression in the kitchen," Charles muttered into his hands, "you wouldn't really be assuming wrong, would you?"
Erik stilled. "I guess. But it still doesn't necessarily mean that you are interested in me that way now that we've met properly."
Charles shook his head and couldn't quite help the small laugh escaping. "Right." He held out his hand to Erik. "Charles Xavier," he said with as much formality as he could muster. "I have been a fan of your work for years, and have rarely missed an opportunity to attend your performances when you have been here in New York or I have been near a venue elsewhere."
Erik's smile widened, creating the most lovely laugh lines at the corners of his eyes.
"Erik Lehnsherr, at your service, Mr. Xavier," he replied, shaking Charles' hand. "And I am sorry for not having thanked you for your help until now. It was much appreciated, even if my former assistant failed to convey this."
Charles looked down at their hands still grasped together. Then back up at Erik's warm smile. He flushed hotly and rubbed his free hand at the back of his neck, wincing when he encountered the lump from which pain suddenly radiated through his skull.
Erik pulled Charles' hand away from the lump and held both of them in his. "Don't rub that, and you might want to have it checked - could be a concussion."
"Uh-huh," Charles said, not as articulate as he'd hoped.
"And in case you're wondering where my mother went off to, she just slipped out, probably off gossipping with her neighbor," Erik said quietly.
Charles blinked rapidly.
"Say something?" Erik said, raising his eyebrows and shooting Charles a worried look.
"You're holding my hands and I've had a crush on you since I saw your first performance in the Met here in New York," Charles rattled off, eyes wide. "Bugger," he muttered, looking down into his lap, avoiding looking at his own hands still in Erik's grip.
"Oh," Erik said quietly. "Do you want me to let go?" he asked.
"No!" Charles squeezed his eyes shut. "I'm normally more articulate than this," he grumbled.
"I should hope so, as a professor of genetics - I'd hate to think you couldn't piece together a sentence," Erik said teasingly.
"You know that?" Charles looked up in surprise. He hadn't expected that.
"I've read some of your articles," Erik admitted, "I just didn't know you were this..." he trailed off.
"Young? Rambling?" Charles offered, wincing. Not the best choice of words.
"Cute," Erik admitted, lips quirking up in a small grin. "Or that we'd met without me knowing who you were. I actually wanted to apologize when I saw you at the charity ball, but you disappeared before I was done with the performance."
Charles swallowed hard. "I'm a professor, I have two Phds, I'm not cute."
"You kinda are," Erik disagreed.
Charles opened his mouth to disagree, then realized it would sound like a five year old if he said 'am not'.
"I think...," Erik said slowly, "you should allow me to apologize properly, by letting me take you out for dinner tonight - if you're not busy."
'And you want to, of course.'
Charles made a startled noise. "Did you mean to project that?" he asked.
Erik winked, but didn't say anything.
Charles took a deep breath.
"My mother likes you, she'd approve," Erik added.
"If half the things your mother shared with me about her past are true, you have a scary mother and I'm not sure it's a good selling point," Charles argued, trying to buy time, but he was constantly waylaid by Erik's warm hands cradling his.
"Could be worse?" Erik offered. "Could be she didn't like you and where would that leave us?"
Charles just stared at him. This version of Erik Lehnsherr was leagues above the one he had met on the road.
"I guess it's a good thing Edie does like me," he agreed after clearing his throat.
"Did she tell you about hunting Nazis when she was younger?" Erik asked, staying where he was, close to Charles' side.
Charles laughed lightly. "Yeah, she did." It was amazing how he could feel the heat coming off Erik's body. They were sitting that close.
"Those stories are true, my friend," Erik said with an unsettling grin. "Just thought I'd warn you off before you accepted going on a date with me."
Charles was caught between the 'it's what?' in regards to Edie's past and the 'date?' in regards to Erik asking him out for dinner.
Erik didn't exactly help matters with that maddening grin of his, as he lifted Charles' hand, pressing his lips to the back of it.
~~ ♦ ~~ ♦ ~~
Charles sat back in his seat, listening to Erik's last song of the night, sharing a quick smile with Edie, who was sitting next to him in the private box at the Opera House.
It was amazing seeing Erik in his element and knowing that he could look all that he wanted, that he knew every inch of skin underneath that gorgeous ensemble Erik was currently wearing. Not to mention, the voice that everyone loved so much, knowing the filthy things it would share with Charles in the darkness of their bedroom.
So in the course of two months, Charles had achieved a boyfriend and a mother figure - one who had happily 'adopted' both Raven and Kurt into the family as well.
That fateful day he had been sure would be on his top five of worst days ever, had turned out to be the start of the most wonderful time of his life.
Well, fate seemed to work in mysterious ways.
Looking down through the darkness of the Met, Charles could tell Erik was enjoying himself, that whenever he turned his head in the direction of the box, he unerringly focused on Charles.
So, two months might not be a lot, but to Charles it was the beginning of a brilliant future and hopefully it would last for months, years, decades to come.