The driver’s seat of an ambulance is a good place as any for epiphanies, as Erik Lehnsherr — senior paramedic, and winner of the Sexiest London Paramedic Award for three years in a row — finds out.
Typically, Erik’s epiphanies run along the lines of what to have for lunch (today, his stomach weighs in about its opinions about lamb kebabs) or whether he needs to change his laundromat (the fabric softener doesn’t smell the same and Erik is very particular about his wardrobe). He is but a simple creature and, with how unpredictable his work life is, very particular about maintaining order in his downtime.
Today is different. Today, Erik’s not thinking about his stomach or his materialistic needs, but rather things on a more personal scale. And it hits him just as the ambulance crawls towards Royal London Hospital:
Emergency doctors are good looking.
His shift partner Azazel rolls his eyes loudly from the back of the ambulance where he’s keeping an eye on their patient. Once he learns of Erik’s groundbreaking thought, Azazel drolly adds, “It’s good to know that you have eyes, Lehnsherr. This realization comes to you because we’re headed to the Royal London where your mal’chik is working, da? Your heart must be going badaboom, badaboom: quick like that!”
Erik sniffs delicately from the driver’s seat and ignores Azazel the jerk. He’s only a little bitter that the mal’chik in question, a Doctor Charles Xavier — the biggest crush Erik has ever harboured, and a shining example of a hundred-and-three on a scale of one to ten — unfortunately cannot be regarded as his anything.
At least not yet anyway.
Doctor Charles Xavier with his luscious chocolate coloured waves and bright twin orbs of luminous sapphire is something to behold in the wake of a ten car pile up. Never has Erik ever seen someone as calm and collected, as beautiful, when delegating tasks and dealing with a crisis.
“Erik, you are awfully quiet up front. I hope you’re not daydreaming about him while on the job.” Azazel throws in a mock-swoon for effect.
"Shut up,” Erik grumbles underneath his breath, thankful that Azazel can’t see how close to the mark his words hit. Instead of dwelling further on the odes that he could compose in a variety of languages about Doctor Xavier’s glorious visage, Erik refocuses his attentions on weaving through traffic. After all, it would be awfully embarrassing if a second ambulance was required thanks to his inattention.
Work face on, Lehnsherr.
Clearing his throat, Erik asks, “How's our patient doing?"
There’s a pause and the sounds of the sphygmometer whirring away as it takes a new blood pressure reading. "BP 130 over 87. Wade’s a little out of it thanks to the morphine,” Azazel answers. There’s more clanging coming from the back of the ambulance.
“And don’t think I haven’t noticed you changing the subject. I can probably convince Janos who can convince Irene to convince his sister to set you up on a date."
Erik is affronted. “No. That won’t be necessary!” As if he couldn't set up his own dates! So what if he still didn't have the courage to talk to Doctor Xavier yet. No one rushes into potentially life changing moments without proper preparation and research! Who knows whether Doctor Xavier would be amenable to his overtures and an invitation to a candlelit dinner?
“If you’re sure, Erik.”
He grapples with the radio handset when they are 5 minutes away. 5 minutes that feel simultaneously too short — because Erik *lived* for the moments when he could catch a glimpse of Doctor Xavier’s visage and beautiful jawline — and too long — because Erik is woefully unprepared and always loses the ability to utilize his vocabulary when around Doctor Xavier.
Azazel finds it hilarious. At least someone derives some enjoyment in watching him suffer from emotional constipation. What Erik needs is some sort of brain laxative. "You're such an idiot, Lehnsherr," Azazel says, "I don't know why we're friends outside of work."
"Shut up and stop distracting the driver!"
Being the little shit that he always is, Azazel shouts, "Hey look out the window! It's Doctor Xavier!"
The ambulance jerks. Erik's heart thuds loudly inside his chest as he thinks about how narrowly they had just avoided getting into an accident of their very own.
Erik growls out in frustration and glares at his rear view mirror. "What did I just say about distracting the driver?!"
“Living dangerous solidarity!!” Wade raises a hand up to the ceiling and lets out a whoop, slurring through every syllable.
Erik’s eyebrow twitches. “No one asked the peanut gallery!”
* * *
Doctor Charles Xavier M.D, emergency consultant at the Royal London, plays an integral part of the hospital's first line of defense. He's smart, successful and — not to sound vain or immodest — also wildly attractive. Currently, he's also woefully swamped under paperwork.
Being a medical practitioner at one of London’s busiest hospitals, no two cases — no two days — are the same. Every case is a puzzle, matching symptoms to cause to solution. He’s always learning, always thinking on his feet, and Charles adores what he does. He lives everyday just to see his patients’ smile and return to their former lives.
He could do without the paperwork that eats up all of his time, taking him away from important things like talking to patients and their family, attending seminars on the latest discoveries, or even hosting a lecture or two at the local hospital.
Sometimes his professionalism slips up, an act that is dependent on whether the stars are in alignment, or when the feng shui and his good fortune wind are in synchronisation (thank you, fortune cookie), or when a set of criteria is met.
That very specific criteria is typically personified in the form of the sexiest London paramedic with his broad-shoulders, impossible tiny waist, ruffled and sexy auburn hair just the right side of messy, and an alluring set of eyes the colour of pale-blue-seafoam-green-stormy-grey-metallic-and-other-hyphenated-colour-descriptors-in-that-spectrum. Charles finds out from a little bird called Raven and the little bird’s girlfriend Irene that a certain paramedic is called Erik.
Erik, whose last name is undetermined. Certain sources cite that it is in actual fact ‘Lehnsherr’; others say it’s ‘McHotterson’. and he possesses a chiselled jaw that only Michelangelo himself could have carved from marble. Erik, who has won the hearts of most of the nursing staff at Royal London and a certain male member of the emergency consultant team. Erik with his euphonious, sinful as dark chocolate, velvety voice of swoon-making—
Charles wipes the metaphorical drool off his chin and tries to not feel guilty about the slip in his mask of sanity. After all, Erik is the hottest thing that Charles has ever had the pleasure of touching.
He says touching.
There is still a lack of physical touching. But given the propensity and the frequency that his subconscious tends to bad touch Erik in his dreams, Charles may as well be touching him physically, which is completely sound logic. Charles deserves some sort of medal for his stroke of genius.
Then there's that ancient proverb (possibly by lonely women and gay men alike) that all good men are either: dead, married or straight. The chances of a man as handsome as Erik being anywhere remotely available... well, Charles would rather take his chances at winning the lottery than winning Erik’s hand.
Charles is handing over the completed paperwork at the nurse’s station when Erik walks in. Speak of the devil, and Erik shall appear buttfirst pulling the gurney inside. Charles must have been a very good boy lately.
Charles mentally slaps himself for ogling that ass. To be fair, it is a super fine ass and one that Charles wouldn't mind tapping. Repeatedly. In as many positions as possible. On every day of the week. For three hundred and sixty however many days is in this particular year. For as long as they both shall live, forever and ever, amen.
In fact, aside from Erik's bootylicious badonkadonks, Charles likes very much everything else about Erik, especially what lay between his legs too. Not so much eyed as assaulted by the knowledge of which pant leg Erik's python preferred whenever they have the chance to meet. Charles figures he could have a much worse problem since such fine genetic material should be sampled first hand. Or mouth. Charles isn't picky.
Only now is hardly an appropriate time to fantasize about London’s finest paramedic. Not when there’s a patient that might be possibly dying on the gurney.
Time to wow and bedazzle Erik McHotterson, and set his mask back into place. He’s Doctor Charles Xavier for crying out loud. Game face on, Xavier.
"What's the situation?" Charles asks casually as he sidles in. He gives himself a mental pat on the back from keeping the dazed-schoolgirl-with-a-crush out of his voice, resisting the urge to swoon when Erik glances at him.
"White male, he was playing five-a-side when he fell. Obvious fracture and dislocation of the left foot. Heart rate 102. BP 126 over 84, O2 100, alert and oriented.”
Azazel picks up where Erik leaves off, “Administered a dose of morphine en route. Complaints of pain."
"And there’s no surprises there. Splendid work. Thank you both.” He looks down at the man currently spread out on the gurney. “Hello there. I'm Doctor Xavier. We’ll have you right as rain in a jiffy. Do you remember your name?”
“I am The Great Deadpooooooooooool.”
“Of course you are,” Charles replies amicably, unfazed by the sudden capitalization in The Great Deadpooooooooooool’s self-introduction. “And do you know where you are?"
He’s met with a furrowed brow, wide beaming grin and a thumbs up. "Gnarly! Did we make it to the 'ospital...?"
Charles smiles encouragingly down at his patient, despite the… eccentricities of his character. "That's it. We're going to send you up for an x-ray first and then from there we'll figure out what we best do to patch you up, ok?"
"This peasant has no agenda," which Charles takes as his tacit permission.
It takes a combined effort to slide Wade into a hospital bed before he’s sent off with his intern Hank McCoy down to radiology. Charles would have accompanied Wade down there himself, but Hank could do with more experience. Not at all because Charles had ulterior motives about monopolizing certain paramedic's attention.
And really, he’s doing Hank a favour by sending him down to the bowels of the hospital where he can make Nala-eyes over Doctor Howlett; granted Charles would cast the same do-me eyes at Erik if he knew he had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting into Erik’s bed.
And speaking of Erik...
Charles turns around to find the previously occupied Erik-shaped space beside him alarmingly empty. The equipment that belongs in the ambulance is already packed away, and the ambulance gurney disappears around the corner with a squeaky goodbye. His heart aches just as his stomach plummets as the chance to speak with Erik slips through his fingers once more like tiny grains of disappointment and missed moments.
It is a pleasure, but also a shame, that Azazel hands over the ambulance records for Charles (more bloody paperwork). He thought that they had a thing, Erik and him. Charles tries his best not to feel too dejected by Erik's quick departure; and to think that today might have been The Day. The Day when he found the voice to ask with a shaky smile if Erik is single, and might be averse to spending extra-curricular time out of their busy schedules to grab a beverage of choice...
He lets out a sigh, signing his name in the space Azazel points out. Azazel tucks the clipboard under his arm and, as if he knew exactly what Charles was thinking, grins in a way that makes Charles feel like a particularly delicious burrito amongst a herd of work-starved paramedics. "Erik's single and available. He likes imported beers and coffee made black like his soul. You know. In case wondering minds were wondering. See you later, Krasavchik!"
Charles' smile creeps over his face, dazedly waving goodbye to Azazel, and that smile becomes permanently stuck there for the rest of the day.
That is excellent news and no matter what happens to him, nothing could make it leave his face.
Except perhaps when he meets the wrong end of a car when he cycles home a fortnight later.
* * *
"MVC at the intersection of the A1025 and Roman. First responders are en-route.”
"We're on our way, over," Sean says, replacing the radio transceiver and flipping the switch for the sirens.
The computer console bleeps quietly from where its mounted bracket on the dashboard between the driver and the passenger seat. Sean Cassidy types something and then pushes the screen towards Erik.
“Another motor vehicle crash. That makes it the fifth one I’ve seen this week. Man, those are the fuckin’ worst.”
Erik veers into traffic, running a red light as he steps on the accelerator. “Let’s just hope we get there on time.” On some days, Erik luxuriates in committing traffic offenses, but it's a really horrible privilege where a human life hangs in the balance sometimes.
There are a number of causes for bike accidents in London. An increase in traffic is one, and the lack of infrastructure for cyclists is another. A recent episode of Top Gear has shown that most drivers were courteous of cyclists, and often it is buses that cause the most problems.
Cyclists also wear zero protection, unlike motorcyclists who wear at least good quality protective gear. The worst case of road rash Erik ever saw was on a victim that had ended up caught underneath a bus; he still can’t get that image out of his head.
They arrive within five minutes. The prone form of their victim lies upon the asphalt, surrounded by two first responders hard at work, their discarded bikes lay nearby on the sidewalk where a crowd was gathering.
Erik turns off the ambulance's engine and they silently clamber into the back: Erik has the gurney out within a matter of seconds, and Sean has both their kits ready to go, one on each shoulder.
The closer Erik gets to the patient, the stronger the feeling of apprehension grows in the pits of his stomach like a monster bubbling away underneath his skin ready to strike at any given moment. From afar, the victim could have been any male Londoner in his early 30s.
Erik catches snatches of commentary as Sean jogs on ahead.
“Male. Caucasian. Early 30s..."
"Conscious but in pain. Police were called by witnesses. No sign of the driver that caused it, but they'll get the bastard." It's horrible, Erik thinks, that a cyclist hurt in a hit-and-run might never be compensated for their injuries were it not for witnesses. And Erik can't even begin to put a label on drivers that maliciously target cyclists. This man could be anyone. He's someone's son, someone's employee or employer, someone's brother or father or—
There's something familiar about the shade of brown underneath that electric blue helmet. And underneath the high-visibility vest is a cornflower blue cardigan that looks vaguely like something Erik's seen before. He knows that wrist watch, its face now smashed in a spider web of destruction.
Of all the places, this is not how Erik envisions meeting Doctor Xavier. A quaint little tea house where they serve over-priced high tea, yes. Maybe an accidental run-in at Tescos or a Pret a Manger.
But on the sidewalk with Doctor Xavier in a bad way?
No. Hell no.
Erik can barely breathe. His heart pounds anxiously in his chest, loud and heavy and quick like Godzilla doing the foxtrot on his ribs. Every cell in his body yells with worry, calls with dread, the sound deafening like being in the same room with an over-enthusiastic teenager and a drum kit.
Someone gasps beside him. “Is that—?” Sean's voice stirs Erik into action, and Erik closes the gap between them, falling in beside his colleagues that are already working on Doctor Xavier.
“Doctor Xavier? Can you hear us?” Erik calls out.
One of the first responders asks, “You know this guy?” Erik spares a quick look at her. It has to be one of the newer recruits that Janos has been training. He doesn’t recognise the lady.
Erik’s voice breaks, coarse and rough like sandpaper, when he says yes. He takes quick stock of the situation. There’s a certain harmony to the chaos of the kits strewn across the asphalt, ripped plastic gauze packaging laying innocuously next to rolls of tape and packaged syringes.
This is his element. He can do this. Doctor Xavier isn’t moving towards the light any time soon if Erik has any say about it (at least not unless the light is coming from Erik’s fridge).
He sets to work, taking over from the second first responder. Doctor Xavier makes a pained moan, a litany of ‘it hurts it hurts, G-d it hurts. Please make it stop. Please’.
“Doctor Xavier, I need to know if you’re allergic to morphine before I can do anything about the pain.” Erik has to repeat the question several times before he gets a negative answer.
Erik’s fingers move on auto-pilot: tearing open packaging for the syringe, steadily drawing out the right amount of morphine sulfate, before diluting and administering intravenously with the press of the plunger.
“What’s his status?”
“BP’s 140 over 79. Heart rate 115.”
It takes a few minutes for the morphine to kick in and between Sean and the first responders, they start Doctor Xavier on a saline IV and start him on an oxygen cannula.
“Check his pupils.”
Erik looms over Doctor Xavier’s face. “They’re normal.” His cornflower blue eyes look glassy, but that’s a good sign.
“Doctor Xavier! I need you to answer a few questions.”
"You know my name," Doctor Xavier says, a quiet wonder in his voice, calmer now and not laced with pain, which is an excellent sign. Speaking that is. And lucid too. Which means Doctor Xavier is decidedly very not dead and still breathing, which is an excellent and wondrous thing.
Doctor Xavier speaks with an unbelievably adorable slur, a side-effect of the morphine he’d just administered. "Are you... are you my ambulance angel?”
Erik struggles for composure, finding it perplexing that he’s the one on the other side of the Spanish Inquisition. “Err…” Erik’s mouth goes dry, uncertain as to really how to respond. “Yes? But I need you to—”
“Oh good. Then you must know of Erik,” Doctor Xavier continues as if he hadn’t heard Erik, “do you know of him? He’s absolutely dreamy, don’t you think?"
"I'm… I’m not sure what to say to that…” Sean’s giving him the thumbs up sign, very unhelpfully. “Yes? I suppose? If you’re into that sort of thing.” Inside, Erik is struggling to contain his glee, to not hyperventilate himself.
“I’m just going to ask you a series of simple questions, Doctor Xavier,” Erik says, watching as his colleagues cut away at the fabric of Doctor Xavier’s clothes. This wasn’t how he envisaged getting Doctor Xavier naked either.
Stop getting distracted, Erik! he chides himself, physically turning his head to focus at more important matters at hand like ensuring Doctor Xavier’s wellbeing. Alas, it was not fated to be that he gets to feel up Doctor Xavier in a professional capacity.
“Right. Simple questions. Can you tell me what the date is?”
“June… No wait… July. No, definitely June. June 17th 2014.”
And are you available at your nearest convenience to go out with me for dinner? Erik bats that thought away. “And what is your full name?”
“Charles Francis Xavier.”
“Excellent. And can you tell me who’s the Prime Minister now?”
“Favourite Marvel character?”
“You can’t confirm nor deny my answer.”
Erik hums, feeling his inner Magneto approve. Clearly, they were more compatible than first expected. “Well, I think you’re right as rain for now. We’re going to strap you up and take you to the hospital. We’ll take care of everything, don’t worry.”
Doctor Xavier nods and immediately everyone starts fussing to make him keep still lest he sustained some sort of spinal injury in the hit-and-run.
“Yeah, don’t move your head if you can help it.”
"Oh! Yes. I'm a doctor. I should know better. Did you know I'm a doctor, ambulance angel? Well. You know now… or you now know… possibly both. One really oughtn’t be confused by English grammar rules after one’s been hit by a car.”
“Both are correct,” Sean quips up, the long spine board and a head protector in hand. “Ready when you are Erik.”
With the help from the first responders, they all get ready to load up Charles now that they have his head strapped in carefully to stop it from moving laterally.
“Erik is really handsome. Do you think so?"
Sean snorts loudly; Erik presses the keys to the ambulance into Sean’s hand.
“I’m going to ask him out to coffee — or I suppose his choice of beverage really if he doesn’t like coffee — when I see him next. Do you think Erik likes beer? Oh! Oof. Steady on there chaps. That’s a good lad. Do you think I can hold onto your hand, ambulance angel?”
“Yes,” Erik says, his mouth going surprisingly dry as he slips his hand into Charles’ like a quick brown fox that jumps over the lazy dog. “I'm sure only good things will happen to you. But let’s get you to hospital first and after that I’ll… um... have a word with Erik.”
They quickly load Charles onto the back of the ambulance and Erik leaves Sean to call it in.
As soon as all of Erik’s duties are done — making sure the blanket is tucked snugly around Charles’ body to keep him warm (and mostly for his modesty), the patient forms have been updated with a new set of statistics, and the oxygen tank has been checked — Erik assumes his place on the chair next to Charles and hangs on. Never once on the way to emergency does Erik let go, even as they discuss the merits of how comfortable being strapped to a long spine board really is.
* * *
As soon as he comes around, Charles realises that he feels like shit. Not in a ‘I-have-a-billion-year-old-hangover’ way, but in a ‘I-know-I-didn’t-get-laid-but-my-body-is-sore-as-fuck-all-over’ sort of way, which is to be expected when considering the ‘having-been-run-over-by-a-moving-vehicle’ portion of the evening.
And there’s tubes in his nostrils that’s giving him delicious oxygen, but he wrinkles his face anyway to alleviate the ticklish sensation. Goddamn.
Charles groans. His eyelids feel awfully heavy and his body felt like fifty elephants had decided to host an impromptu rave party all over his chest.
And then, he hears Raven’s voice. Can feel the squeeze of her fingers against his hand. “Charles! God! You scared us all when you came back to the Royal in the back of an ambulance! Thank goodness you wear so many layers!”
He pries his eyelids open, his sister’s worried face swimming into focus and he tries to master the right facial muscles to smile. All he can get is a faint twitch.
Raven huffs, always so impatient and quick to defend. All action and less forethought. “No apologies, Charles. It wasn’t even your fault! I swear once the police find the guy responsible, I’m going to tear them limb from limb from limb and then I’m gonna sauté his—”
“No bloodshed please...”
“Yes, of course. You’re too good for petty revenge, even though this is the guy who’s done something so deplorable. You could have been killed.”
“Mmm…” He lets out a yawn, the pressing need to sleep beckoning to him. “They have me hooked up onto the good stuff?”
“Of course they do. You were just in a car accident for heaven’s sake! I’ll come visit you later. You should get your rest. I’ve got a surgery to get to, but I had to check to see if you were alright first.” His sister is a very capable pediatrics surgeon and Charles has utmost faith in her capabilities.
“Mmm, I’ll be right. Go on.”
There’s a kiss to the top of his head. Charles falls asleep before Raven even leaves the room.
The next time Charles comes around, there’s a hand in his. It squeezes down gently, a soothing gesture that prompts Charles to squeeze back. It’s not a hand that Charles has held before, a man’s hand given the calluses and size of his palm.
Definitely not Raven’s… then who’s?
“You know, it’s one thing to proposition a man when you’re high on morphine… what kind of boy do you think I am?”
Charles feels something inside of him hitch, the heart monitor next to him beeping a little faster when he parses together just who it could be that possessed the ability to send his entire body quivering. He croaks, “... I think I’m still high on morphine if I’m holding your hand. I’m not dreaming?”
A chuckle reverberates all the way down to the hand that’s holding his. “Open your eyes and find out.”
Charles opens his eyes, squinting as the bright hospital lights floods in, stimulating the rods and cones at the back of his retinas.
Erik hovers overhead, an anxious grimace on his face. Somewhere in his drug addled mind, Charles thinks that there ought to be some sort of fanfare playing in the background. Angelic music or maybe some sort of heavenly glow.
Charles notes with bemusement that they've hooked him up to the really good stuff.
"Hullo." The grimace had been replaced by a grin. It's a very handsome grin; Raven had no place calling it the stuff of nightmares. He could wake up everyday to that very smile.
"I don't think we've purposely — properly — met. Well. We've obviously met. But I don't really remember the exact details."
"Short term amnesia," Erik supplies with another hand squeeze. His smile is mischievous, downright naughty.
“Then I believe introductions are in order. I'm Doctor Charles Xavier. Please call me yours.” As soon as his brain catches up with his mouth, “I mean, Charles. Please. Charles.
"Erik Lehnsherr." So, his last name really isn’t ‘McHotterson’. Could’ve fooled Charles.
“So I'm not hallucinating this entire scenario?"
Erik's smile broadens impossibly further. "No. I was quite corporal last time I checked."
"How sure is that?" Charles asks, a tired teasing smile on his face. “I think I need to check for myself properly when I’m… better.”
“I look forward to it,” Erik informs him in a voice that’s entirely too fond. He clears his throat and Charles notes with amusement when Erik refuses to meet his eye. “So I hear humans do this thing…”
“Yes,” Erik continues, stroking his thumb over the back of Charles’ hand that’s distracting. “It’s called drinking. And acting ambulance angel to certain MVC patients, I became privy to the information that perhaps you might be interested in doing some drinking with someone called Erik.”
“Drinking...with someone called Erik.” Charles can’t believe his ears. It’s like all the good wishes his birthdays and Christmases from the past five years had all just suddenly come true.
“As someone called Erik, I’m just putting it out there that I would be interested in grabbing a drink. Or two. Whether it be coffee — although you strike me more as a tea person — or perhaps a pint down at the pub.”
“I would be most delighted to accept, just as soon as I’m sure I’m not on a morphine-induced high,” Charles says slowly, pulling Erik’s hand underneath the hospital blankets and closer to his body, “that is if you could inform that particular Erik, my ambulance angel?”
Erik grins broadly. “I’ll be sure to pass the message along.”