Chapter 1: Puppies
"Charles, darling?" Erik walked into the headmaster's office, projecting a sense of calm. "How are you today?" Charles looked so comfortable there among his books, and Erik couldn't help smiling for a moment as he tried to work out how to broach this particular topic.
"Rather unnerved by the fact you are attempting quite so actively to prove to me that nothing is wrong." Charles answered honestly, not pressing deeper into Erik's mind, merely looking at him in concern. "What is it?"
"Nothing...serious?" Erik said, and then smiled faintly. "The... the children have been acting rather strangely the past few days, and well, I've found the cause of it."
Charles looked at him curiously, and Erik projected a sense of warmth before providing a mental image the children's guilty faces.
"You'll want to see this," Erik promised, leading the way to the kitchen, Charles beside him. He watched Charles's face as he opened the door.
Charles stared, with wide eyes at the scene ahead of them. The mansion's current collection of children were curled up beside the table, staring in wide eyed wonder at the dog who had apparently chosen here to give birth.
"Puppies." Erik agreed. "Five of them. The children had been hiding her, only they've finally admitted they might need some help."
Charles stared down at the tiny pile of dogs, nodding. "Yes, I suppose they might.Let's get them all some blankets, and Hank can look them over while we think of names."
Chapter 2: Kitten
If you want to read this collection of children as being from a particular other fic of mine, go for it :)
"Kätzchen?" Erik asked, sitting down on the floor beside Laura. "Are you feeling alright?"
The little girl nodded silently, gazing up at him with dark brown eyes.
"What's that mean?" Jimmy asked curiously from the sofa, putting aside his book.
"Kitten," Erik explained.
Laura nodded, clenching her fist to extend her claws, waving her hand. Jimmy looked thoughtful.
"We should get a real cat," he said, with as much decisiveness as a ten year old could put into saying anything. "It could play with us and sleep on Charles's lap, and then if we had a nightmare or anything we could hold onto it. I read something saying that pets are good for children."
Erik looked at him, and smiled, shaking his head fondly.
"You did, did you?"
"And it would be good for Scott. And for any children we get, I'd say we should get a dog but a dog would need to be taken for walks, so a cat would be good."
Erik considered, then nodded. The children would adore a pet, and he knew he wasn't able to dissuade them once they'd put their collective minds towards something.
"Alright. I can't promise Charles will agree it's a good idea, but we can ask him." He closed his eyes, concentrating on reaching out to his mind.
Yes? What is it? I'm trying to ensure Alex doesn't set fire to the kitchen.
The children are going to ambush you at dinner asking about getting a cat. Try to look surprised.
Chapter 3: Sunset
Charles leaned back against Erik's chest, gazing out of the bedroom window, watching as the sun sunk below the horizon. The golden light played across the room, making his chair glow, and turning the white strands in Erik's hair to gold. Beyond, stretched the coast of Erik's island hideaway. Charles couldn't help longing to stay here forever, safely encircled by Erik's arms, with nothing more to worry about than staying close.
"You're going to have to take me back at some point." Charles pointed out, raising an eyebrow and snuggling against his kidnapper. "I know you enjoy regularly stealing me for nefarious plots, but I have exams to mark."
"Really, Charles?" Erik's teeth brushed against his ear, and Charles shivered contentedly. "I'll have you know Hank called me up, asking for this particular kidnapping."
"Really? Plotting with my minions now?"
"I thought I was meant to be the one with minions," Erik smiled fondly. "I'm clearly rubbing off on you."
"Well not right now, Erik. I'm comfortable." Charles teased, then yawned. "I suppose I have been working too hard."
"If Hank is reaching out to schedule your abduction, I think that seems likely."
"I suppose so." Charles considered, tilting his head. "So... does that mean we spend tonight cuddling?"
"I'm not letting you go until the morning."
"That's a relief." Charles murmured, reaching to squeeze Erik's hand. "I'd hate to think that you had other plans."
“Better plans than corrupting the head of the X-men?" Erik laughed "Never, my love."
Chapter 4: Beach
A continuation of yesterday's older (and ridiculous) Cherik
Waking in the lair of his once-boyfriend-turned-arch-enemy-turned-current-boyfriend didn't worry Charles in the slightest. However, Erik did snore slightly, so he poked his ribs until the other man gave a faint grunt and opened his eyes.
"Is that really your plan, Professor? Deprive me of sleep?"
"Your snoring was doing that to me!" Charles protested, before soothing Erik's ego with a gentle kiss. "No, I thought... Since I was already awake, we might as well make the most of the time we have before I go home."
Erik raised an eyebrow, and Charles promptly sent back the mental sensation of a bucket of cold water being thrown over him.
"Well that’s just rude." Erik muttered. Charles leaned in for a kiss. Erik sent back the sensation of being wrapped up in a warm fluffy blanket. Charles nodded, then pulled away a little so that he could look Erik in the eye.
"I thought we could go down to the beach?"
Erik nodded, gesturing to call over the wheelchair he kept for Charles here. Its tires were wide enough that he could go across the sand, Erik's power guiding him.
It didn't take long to dress, and they were down by the sand. Erik was barefoot, and Charles allowed himself in Erik’s mind to feel waves lapping at his feet. He felt himself relax.
"Same time next week?" Erik asked, pressing a tender kiss to Charles's lips.
Sounds perfect. Charles replied, smiling, as Azazel whisked him away in a burst of smoke.
Chapter 5: Road Trip
The CIA, it turned out, chose a series of frankly appalling hotels to stay in, and apparently didn't care if the offered room was filthy, stinking of smoke with broken lights.
"Erik," Charles said to the other man at breakfast on the second day of the trip. "I can't focus like this. The rooms are disgusting. Let me pay for something better."
"Sure." Erik shrugged. That evening he'd driven them to a much nicer hotel. Charles beamed, organised the room, dumped his suitcase, and went downstairs with the keys to find Erik had already disappeared.
Charles? Is something wrong?
I got our room? Charles pushed across as much confusion as he could. There was a brief pause, before curiosity flickered across the connection.
Yes. Our room. The room I bought for us. Charles accompanied that with an image of the bedroom he'd paid for, with twin beds and an en-suite.
Erik returned a few minutes later, looking a little embarrassed.
"Oh. I uh... I thought the room was just for you."
"No. I... I mean. If you don't mind? I can book you your own if-"
"I don't mind." Erik answered, and they ended up going to their room, lying awkwardly in their twin beds.
The third night, they'd got another room together, stayed up late debating.
The fourth, they'd recruited Darwin to their team, shared a single bed.
The fifth, Charles got a double bed. Both got the best sleep they'd had in decades.
Chapter 6: Kiss
Some days, Charles is caught up with the minutiae of running a rather challenging school, and Erik needs some space. It isn't that he doesn't love being in the school, being with Charles, seeing young mutants come into their powers - he does. But occasionally he needs a break, just to go out into the fresh air and let the children be someone else's problem for a while.
It's on days like that that he wanders around the ground, deep in his own thoughts. Sometimes he finds himself double checking the security, and other times he just walks aimlessly, until he feels the familiar brush against his thoughts, Charles just checking in.
He sends back a wave of safety, trying to ease any concerns that Charles might have. He is alright. A moment later, he follows those thoughts with a gentle tightening of Charles's watch, a promise that he's thinking of him.
The touch of Charles's thoughts always soothes him, eases any tension that has been building, and he steps away from whatever has been worrying him. He takes as long as he needs, but eventually he returns to the school, standing in the doorway and watching as Charles instructs the children, feeling the gentle brush of Charles's thoughts tangling in his own.
Eventually, class lets out, and it is just the two of them. He walks forwards, crouches a little, and meets Charles's lips with his own. Charles pulls him in, and he tastes like home.
Chapter 7: Cuddles
Posting this when I have a cold!
Erik woke slowly to the sensation of Charles's fingers brushing circles against his hip, touch bleeding through the faintly cotton-wool like sensation that was swamping him. He opened his eyes, looked up at Charles, and smiling, his expression faltering a little when he saw the clock announce that it was almost eight am.
"You could have woken me..."
"I didn't want to." Charles answered. "You've been working hard, and you haven't looked well. I thought it would be easiest to just let you sleep."
"It's nothing!" Erik argued, words punctuated by a cough.
Charles raised an eyebrow at him, and Erik at least had the decency to look slightly embarrassed, staring at the wall and taking a few deep breaths, trying to ignore the way his eyes were stinging.
"You're ill. I've already spoken to the others, they can manage the school today, and you can rest here. With me. There's going to be some food brought up by Hank later, he's making that tomato soup you like. And you're going to get better."
"What about you?" Erik asked, shuffling over so Charles could get up. "Are you leaving me all alone?"
"Never." Charles smiled, and handed Erik a glass of water, guiding him to sip it. "I am taking today off to care for you." He coughed slightly, and Erik's eyes widened.
"Only a little bit." Charles conceded. "Maybe the best use of our day is just to curl up in bed and look after each other?"
Chapter 8: Fireplace
The two of them were old men by the time they reached Genosha. Their lives hadn't been easy, the world pulling them apart and setting them on opposite paths. Charles, dear, naive Charles, had kept his hope. Erik sometimes wondered if he'd even had hope to start with.
But tonight, he did have hope. He was home, on the island that was a sanctuary for their kind, and he was sat on the sofa. Charles's weight was solid against his side, and he reached out, tucking a blanket over Charles's form so that he didn't shiver.
Charles smiled up at him contentedly, the warm glow of the firelight flickering over his skin. Erik glanced at the half-finished chess game before them, and then at Charles, who was clearly already half asleep. With a wave of his hand, he moved the board back a little, stretching out, lifting Charles's legs a little so that he could slip beneath him, the two of them getting comfortable. It wasn't long before Charles was asleep.
Erik called over a book with a wave of his hand, and began to read it, fingers brushing against Charles's scalp, feeling his slow and steady breaths, the way his chest rose and fell calmly.
They were home, and it was safe. Erik watched the wood on the fire, the way the flames danced along it, and allowed himself to relax. They'd met a lifetime ago, but this time there was a chance.
Perhaps, peace would be an option.
Chapter 9: Blanket
Keeping a secret from a telepath was never an easy thing, for all that Erik had practised it. Charles had an ability to notice that something was wrong which went beyond the obvious.
It wasn't that Charles invaded Erik's thoughts. The two of them had come to an agreement on that early on. The problem was that Erik had quite a visual imagination, and so would accidentally let out mental images of whatever secret he wanted to have.
Luckily, the children were a never ending source of terrible songs and loud music, and getting a tune stuck in his head kept Charles from noticing what else was going on.
A supervillain certainly wasn't expected to sew (even if he was doing it by using his abilities, the needle darting through the air as he tried to pick out which fabrics to use). But it was a useful skill, for patching up wounds, and now for making a blanket. Because winter was coming, and Erik didn't want Charles's legs to get cold.
Charles looked at him strangely, aware he had a secret, but not knowing what it was. Erik just hummed internally, and continued with his project.
Autumn came, and he found Charles staring out of the window, watching the leaves turn gold. He cleared his throat, then presented the blanket he made, smiling.
Charles looked up at him.
"So that's what you've been hiding..." He murmured, wrapping the blanket over his legs and then pulling Erik down for a kiss.
Chapter 10: Dreams
Nightmares never really go away. Not after what Erik had witnessed, what he had suffered, what he had done. On nights like that, tendrils of memory tangled around him, he would whimper and struggle, and the metal in the room around them would twitch.
When that happened, Charles would come to him. Warmth would envelope him, nuzzling into his shoulder, chasing away the ghosts. In reality, Charles would curl up around him - or he would wrap around Charles, the two of them clutching each other.
In the dream, Charles would come to him, and hold onto him. He would press kisses to the ghosts of old wounds, and make sure that the bruises and burns were healed. He'd guide him to safety - from whatever shadowed recess he had found himself, Charles would lead him out into the sunlight, into his own memories.
The aftermath was never easy, but Charles helped, held him, kept away the ghosts of what had come before.
Other nights, it was Charles who suffered, and Erik who listened, who helped soothe the memories of the students he hadn't helped, lives he hadn’t saved.
Most nights, the two of them slept peacefully. They'd made mistakes, and they'd hurt for them. But they weren't alone any more, and they were were doing what they could to make it right. Charles would conjure a landscape with his mind, and the two of them would explore it, side by side.
Sometimes, he only imagined a bed, and that was enough.
Chapter 11: Holidays
Charles watched the last car drive up the road, waving goodbye to another student. Most of them had gone home for the summer - either to their own families, for those who were still accepted, or to the houses of friends for those whose own families didn't want them back.
There were a few children that lingered - sons and daughters of staff, and those who didn't want to leave. But for a few brief weeks, the school would be at its calmest, and he would be able to think about things other than worrying over lesson plans.
"You miss them already, don't you?" Erik asked, resting against the back of his chair.
"A bit," Charles conceded. "I'm sure they'll all have wonderful times, and they'll come back full of stories, and excited and all of that, but-"
"But you worry." Erik sighed, leaning in to press a kiss to his cheek. "Anyone who hurts any of our children is going to suffer for it, do you understand me? I'm not allowing them to be hurt."
"You worry just as much." Charles muttered, knowing his lover wouldn't dignify that with a reply. "So, what's your plan for the next few weeks."
"Spend time with you, make sure you actually relax, a bit of light world domination-Ouch!" Erik answered, rubbing his thigh where Charles had elbowed him. "Fine. No world domination. Spoil sport."
"I'm sure we can reach a compromise." Charles suggested, blowing a kiss to Erik. "After all, you are my world."
Chapter 12: Anniversary
(all dates accurate as i can make them)
January: The Peace Accords, Erik shooting Raven. A lingering memory they move around, and remind themselves it worked out.
February: A stadium falling through the air, trauma burying love. They kiss slowly, holding onto each other, reminding themselves they're not trapped any longer.
March: An apocalypse which they stopped together, side by side, fighting with their powers. Choosing who they were going to be, despite what the world was like, and working out which side they fought on. Rebuilding, and repairing what was destroyed.
April: Deciding to stay. Looking at bruises that are half healed, and memories that aren't healing, but are staying together. Making decisions to start afresh.
May: Opening the school anew, side by side. Knowing that chaos might come calling, but that they're stronger together than they ever were apart, and that they would fight to protect what they had built.
June: A ring, hidden under a chess piece, and a game that was a little too easy to win.
July: A kiss, watching the fireworks, holding each other tight.
August: A beach trip where they discovered that wheelchairs don't do well on sand.
September: Falling asleep, content, ready for a new year.
October: Cuba, and a bullet that changed everything. They relax, and talk, and think about what could have been and how lucky it was that they still found their way home.
November: Long evenings by the fireside.
December: Making sure every child who can't go home knows this is where they are safe now.
Chapter 13: Children
Set in IreneADonovan's Parlourverse
Erik had never considered himself the type to be fatherly. He wasn't cut out for it, too cold, too distant. He remembered only a few sacred flashes of his past, and then only cruelty. He'd never planned for children.
Only now his house was overflowing with them, and they were going to have to move to make space for more. There were the older ones, Raven and Irene and Hank who were so convinced they were adults, in the way that only teenagers could ever be. But there were others, so many lives dependent upon him to care for them. The responsibility should have frightened him.
When Kitty grabbed his hand, and gazed up at him with those soft trusting eyes, he realised it wasn't fear he felt, but warmth, and hope. They'd taken something terrible, and made it good.
He ended up sat on the couch, Charles beside him, Kurt curled up in Charles's lap and Kitty on his own. Jimmy and Rogue were lying on the floor, enthralled by the story he was reading, and a few of the others lingered, pretending they weren't listening.
He pressed a kiss to Charles's cheek, and then began to read.
"Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much," he read out, Charles smiling across at him.
This wasn't the life he'd pictured, but it was the life he had. And he couldn't imagine anything better than this.
Chapter 14: Proposal
Erik gazed over at Charles, curled up underneath their blankets. The man was as beautiful in Erik’s eyes as he had ever been, his age settling on him like it belonged. Charles had always been studious, had an old soul. Now they were both old men. Eight decades of life, and the world had changed beyond recognition. The school they had had grown, as had their kind. They’d seen students go on to be politicians, actors, lawyers, even doctors. Their kind still faced judgement, but it was less now. People had become more tolerant of mutants as they’d fought out their space in the world.
Attitudes had not just changed to mutants. For the first fifteen years after they met, their love had been illegal. But now things were different.
Charles’s eyes flickered open, taking a moment to focus, his hands reaching for Erik’s. Erik held onto him instantly, gazing at the ring, the promise they’d made in the eighties among those they loved, knowing it meant nothing legally but everything to them.
Maybe once, Erik would have lacked the words to ask. When he’d spoken passionately of what their kind deserved, he hadn’t believed it. But he believed now, that the two of them deserved this.
“Would you want to?” He asked, knowing Charles could trace his thoughts.
“If you ask properly.” Charles demanded.
Erik laughed, resting his fingers against the ring Charles already wore.
“Will you marry me? Legally this time?”
Charles nodded, leaning up for a kiss.
Chapter 15: Birthday
Erik hadn’t seen the point in celebrating his birthday for a long time. Not since his parents had it been a day worth marking. He certainly hadn’t planned on celebrating this year, with Charles still recovering from an injury he’d inflicted, the two groups at the fledgeling school still uncertain around each other.
He woke to Charles smiling down at him, lips soft against Erik’s own.
“How did you-”
“I’m a telepath,” Charles pointed out. “I asked Sean and Alex to discuss birthdays in your hearing a few weeks back.
“You are a very unnerving man at times, you know that?”
“I’ve certainly been told.” Charles agreed, unconcerned.
“You know I don’t celebrate it?”
“I know you haven’t been celebrating it. But that is going to change this year, because I think you should celebrate it.”
“Charles, it’s my birthday.”
“Indeed. And I want you to be happy. And you’ll be happy if I’m happy, and I’ll be happy if you celebrate your birthday, so we’re celebrating it.”
“I know.” Charles nodded. “Can you grab my wheelchair? The children are going to make cake for breakfast, and then neither of us have any teaching for the rest of the day. We’re going to have a picnic, and then spend some time together, and I’ve reserved a table at my favourite dinner for this evening. Everything’s planned. You just need to relax, and know that I’ve got it all sorted.”
Erik sighed, but waved the chair over.
Chapter 16: Wedding
Erik walked slowly forwards, his heart in his mouth. He felt nervous, even though this was his home, and he walked this path the length of the garden most days in the summer. The children were staring at him as he held his head high, his gaze fixed on the raised platform, with a slope leading up to it.
Charles was meant to be facing the front, but he kept peeking over his shoulder, smiling brightly. You look so handsome. Charles told him, and he sent back the same, focusing on the fact he was walking towards Charles as he made his way up to his side.
Charles reached out, with his hand and with his mind, and Erik threaded their fingers together, his thoughts running against Charles’s own. They were side by side, and his anxiety fell away because this was where he belonged.
Hank smiled at him, at the two of them, and began to speak, as Erik focused on Charles. They shared vows that they’d practiced, and Erik laughed when Charles spoke about chess, and Charles rolled his eyes when Erik mentioned his mistakes.
Another day, when the law was changed, they’d have a ceremony in the public eye. People would look at them as symbols, the leaders of their kind finally able to stand together, to call each other husband. But thirty years before that day, they promised themselves before their friends and the family they had built, and that was enough.
Chapter 17: Sharing Food
From the kitchen, Erik could feel Charles’s approach. He had left his classroom, wheelchair rolling down the corridor, and Erik smiled, peeking into the oven to see how the gingerbread was doing. The smell when he opened the oven door was heavenly.
Hello darling, you’re concentrating very hard, aren’t you? Charles asked over their mental link. Erik could sense the smile in Charles’s mind, a fond and gentle caress.
Erik moved his hand, locking the door to the kitchen before Charles could get inside.
“You’ve locked the door.” Erik could feel Charles mentally glaring at him. He laughed at that.
“Have I?” He asked innocently, checking the oven again. Almost ready. He smirked.
“You know fully well you have. Let me in!” Charles bumped his footplate against the door in irritation.
Erik left him out there for a few more moments before he gave in and opened the door. Charles tried to frown at him, but was distracted, tilting his head and sniffing slightly.
“That… that smells heavenly…” He blinked, and looked up at Erik. “This is what you were hiding?”
“I wanted to make you some gingerbread. I’ve got some for the children as well, I just needed to keep Peter out until you got some…” He picked up the towel, and then carefully pulled the gingerbread from the oven. He slid it onto the cooling rack, slapped away Charles’s hand and held one out for Charles to take a bite.
Charles grinned and did so.
Chapter 18: Music
Charles loved hearing Erik sing. Charles had made sure the children were in bed, had finished reading the seemingly endless bedtime stories to their youngest inhabitants, and now he lingered in his chair, watching as Erik wandered down the corridor, singing as he went. His voice was gentle, a soothing mixture of half-remembered lyrics.
Charles watched him, blowing a kiss. Erik sent back the sensation of warmth and love. Erik wouldn’t sing normally, too shy of himself. But he sang for the children, and Charles enjoyed listening to it.
Incredible. Charles praised him, and Erik sent back joy.
Time for us to go to bed as well… Erik teased, and Charles began to head towards their room. He could feel Erik following him.
One of the younger girls peeked out of her bedroom, and Erik noticed her. He picked her up, bouncing her in his arms and starting to sing to her.
I’ll be ready when you are. Charles promised, rolling down the corridor. It was lovely, hearing Erik singing, but he knew that this wasn’t for him. Erik deserved some privacy for this.
He prepared for bed, laying down on the duvet, and waiting for Erik to join him. Erik pushed open the door, the little girl now asleep in her own room. He approached, and leaned in to kiss him.
“You liked that?”
“You have a wonderful voice,” Charles admitted.
Erik’s smile was shy, but he leaned in and kissed him.
Maybe I can sing you to sleep.
Chapter 19: Babysitting
Charles had always known his house was too big for one family. He’d grown up with only five people rattling around the mansion, his mother lost to the bottle, and him and his sister hiding from the other inhabitants. He hadn’t really noticed the staff. It just wasn’t practical, five people having this much space.
He’d wondered, right from the start, what else the house could become. But until he’d met Erik, he had never realised how many of their kind there were out there, never imagined that it could be something as valuable as a school.
Now, it was full of life, and chaos, and laughter and disasters and ridiculousness, the joy and heartache of dozens of mismatched children who came to know the school as their home.
Of course, with that many teenagers under one roof, accidents happened. When Raven had approached him with fear in her eyes, he’d known immediately what had happened, and had set about creating a creche. Tonight, Irene and Raven had gone out together, to spend some much needed time relaxing, and he and Erik were holding down the fort.
He gazed at the tiny blue babe in his arms. Kurt gurgled contentedly, flexing his fingers and gazing up at him.
Erik crouched down to kiss Charles on the lips, and Kurt on the forehead. Kurt blinked, and Erik smiled.
“You’re a natural.”
“He’s a good kid.”
Erik shook his head fondly. “You see the good in everyone Charles.” He squeezed Charles’s hand.
Chapter 20: Cooking
Having a large house full of teenagers meant that Charles had to plan ahead, aware that no food one day could trigger some kind of revolt. With a range of different allergies, appetites and preferences, trying to keep everyone healthy was almost impossible, but Charles was determined.
He got used to cupboards full of snacks for the children, bowls of fruit lying around, and tried to get everyone together for a meal at least once a day - although realistically, it was closer to once a week. The chore rota became ever-more complex, as he asked the older students to help the younger ones prepare food.
The bills were high, but the children needed to eat, and so he just made sure he kept the meals coming, and tried to stop Alex setting the kitchen alight.
Charles disliked cooking - not because of any particular lack of skill, but because the children had a habit of moving things out of his reach. It wasn’t intentional, he knew that, but it still made it hard to relax when he knew that some vital piece of cookware would probably be missing.
It was his turn to cook today, but when he reached the kitchen Erik was already there, sat on Charles’s lowered worktop, pieces of metal fluttering through the air.
“Jimmy said you were annoyed you couldn’t find things. I’m making sure everything has a place at a sensible height.” He paused, showing his work. “Tell me how else I can help you.”
Chapter 21: Dancing
“Dearest…” Charles sighed, looking up from the wedding invitations he was busy decorating. “I… I don’t want to embarrass you.”
“You aren’t embarrassing me,” Erik promised, moving to sit beside him, his hand brushing Charles’s own. “Anyway, we’ve danced before.”
“We danced at home,” Charles pointed out. “Just with each other, or at most with some of the children. People will be looking if we dance in public.”
“Charles,” Erik leaned in and kissed his cheek. “It’s our wedding. It’s rather the point that people look.”
Charles could tell Erik meant it, and he wouldn’t change his mind. Charles would just have to trust him.
When the day came, Charles was still nervous. He focused on the wedding ceremony while it was happening, but when it was over he could feel his concern building. Erik didn’t feel worried at all, he was projecting a calm confidence which Charles latched on to.
Their group all headed into the reception hall, space was made, and the music began.
Erik strode towards him, offering his hand, and Charles followed him onto the dance floor, wheeling to face him. Looking into Erik’s eyes, Charles’s fears faded away. He spun slowly in a circle, moving with him, going through practiced motions. Erik never looked away.
Charles could hear their friends cheering and began to relax, enjoying the moment as cameras flashed.
The music ended, the last notes fading away, and Erik sat down on his lap.
“Perfection,” he murmured, then leaned in for a kiss.
Chapter 22: Tradition
There was a lot of Erik's childhood that he had forgotten. Vague smells and memories which would flick up, reminders he couldn't place but which left him with a sense of sorrow, a knowledge that he had lost so much. He knew he'd had a culture once, a family, stories and traditions that had been stolen from him.
But sometimes Charles could find flickers of before in his thoughts, and bring them forwards, offer him a few brief moments of memory of a life he would have thought was lost. They'd do things to remember.
Charles roasted apples with honey, and sat with him as he tried to remember his mother's kitchen, easing out the memory that was still there, after so long.
Charles's fingers brushed against his knuckles.
You are so much stronger than you think.
I don't feel strong.
That doesn't mean you aren't. Charles promised, before continuing out loud. "I know it hurts that you can't remember all your old traditions. But we can make new ones together if you want. Ones for the school, and ones that are just for us."
"I'd like that." Erik agreed, and Charles shared a series of images. The two of them having a picnic in the garden because the moon was full. Ushering the children to the local swimming baths because it was Kitty's birthday. Sharing a meal on their anniversary, playing chess into the early hours, lying together.
Erik wouldn't get back what he lost. But he had this.
Chapter 23: Stargazing
"Erik?" Charles asked softly, from where he'd positioned his wheelchair by the window. Their half-played game of chess lay abandoned on the table, because Charles had been distracted, and Erik was reading as Charles worked out what he wanted to say.
"Can we go outside?" Charles asked. "I know it's late and it rained earlier but-"
"Of course." Erik nodded, grabbing a coat for himself and another blanket for Charles.
"I'd like to look up at the stars. We can lie on the ground and look up-"
"You'll get cold."
"We can shower together after." Charles reasoned. "I'm sure you'll keep me warm."
Erik sighed, but he was never going to disagree with something that Charles had put his mind to. Charles was far too stubborn for that to be a good idea. Which is why a few minutes later he was tramping across the paved path to a clear patch of grass, carrying a blanket, as Charles hurried along behind him.
Erik spread the blanket on the floor, and Charles lowered himself down. Erik laid down beside him, then wrapped an arm around him, pulling him close.
They gazed up for a few moments at the cloudless sky, when Charles gasped. Erik looked up, and saw a sudden streak of light. A shooting star. He quickly wished that they could stay like this forever.
Might be a little impractical. Charles pointed out, but he sounded fond. "I'd like to stay with you forever though? Does that work?"
Chapter 24: Flowers
Charles watched as some of the younger girls sat by the daisies which were littering the lawn, delicately slicing their stalks with finger nails and claws and then slipping them together, shaping longer and longer chains, fashioning them into crowns.
The mansion was full of flowers, of all different colours, roses and violets and lilies, a never-ending bunch of brightness that reminded Charles of his wedding day.
"There you are Charles." Erik approached, resting a hand on Charles's shoulder. Charles turned, pressed a kiss to the skin of his husband's hand.
"How is Briar settling in?"
"Alright," Erik answered, producing a bunch of daffodils and bluebells from behind his back. "I brought you flowers."
"That's not a surprise." Charles teased, thinking of the young mutant they'd welcomed the previous day, a boy of eight who made flowers bloom wherever he touched. They'd managed to give him some of Rogue's old gloves, and made sure he was comfortable, and now he was going to need to work on controlling his ability.
Until that happened though, there would be an endless supply of flowers for the mansion.
"Irene's considering asking the boy to decorate for the wedding." Charles informed Erik, and Erik laughed.
"I suppose that makes sense, but does Raven approve?"
"I think Raven just wants to be married already." Charles said thoughtfully. He took the flowers Erik had offered him, placing them beside him on the chair.
"And now that I'm married, I can understand why she wants to be."
Chapter 25: Chess
Erik knew that he needed to give Charles something special for his birthday. There wasn't exactly anything that said 'sorry for deflecting a bullet into you, dropping a stadium on you, kidnapping you for a world domination plan, and walking out on you twice, meaning this is the first birthday in two decades I'm actually here for', but he wanted to try and find an appropriate gift.
The trouble was what to get a man who could not only afford anything he wanted, but could also read minds and know what you were planning, and was able to critique your choices pre-purchase because I don't need another blanket darling, that one you made for me is perfect.
Charles was a headache. A headache that deserved the best birthday gift, and Erik had no idea what that would possibly be.
There was a table in the corner of their bedroom he sometimes used for reading, with two armchairs. The two of them would sit there sometimes, watching the children playing in the grounds. He gazed at it, wondering about a chess set for it.
Mind made up, he got to work with copper and iron, shaping out the grid and fashioning the pieces. He topped the white king with a copy of Charles's wedding ring, and the black king with his own.
He didn't bother wrapping it, just floated it onto the table when Charles was asleep, then woke him with a gentle kiss.
"Shall we play?" Charles asked.
Taking a few of the students to the mountains for a week was one of Erik's finer ideas, even if he did say so himself. They'd rented a large chalet, far enough from the rest that Raven could walk around in whatever appearance she wished, and they spent their days watching the children play in the snow.
Charles had been the one to mention skiing, a look of hope in his eyes.
Erik wasn't particularly skilled at skiing, but Charles had found himself a sit-ski he had hired for the week, and took great delight in reliving childhood holidays. Erik listened to tales of Charles's abandonment on the slopes, and made sure to stay close by.
It was Bobby who suggested a snowball fight. Raven, Charles, Bobby, Kurt and Jean against Erik, Alex, Darwin, Hank and Rogue. Erik's team had won, but everyone had been left drenched, shivering and arguing over who got to use the showers first.
Charles shook his head.
"You kids get warmed up first. I can only feel half of my body, so I'm not as cold as you."
"I...really don't think it works like that Charles." Erik argued, sitting down beside him and wrapping his arms around him.
"Maybe not," Charles conceded, nuzzling in Erik's arms. "But you're cuddling me now. You can keep me warm until a shower is free, and then we can conserve water."
"Ew." Bobby said, and Erik glared until he fled to shower.
Charles shivered, so Erik hugged him tighter.
For the curious, this is a sit-ski
Chapter 27: Massage
Set a couple of days after yesterday's
"Ouch." Charles complained, rubbing at his side.
"Well, if you will try and go skiing." Erik muttered, although he was instantly beside him, rubbing at the bruised skin.
"It was good for Bobby." Charles muttered. Erik nodded slowly.
"Wasn't good for you though. Or for me." He shuddered, remembering the sight of Charles's sit-ski falling over and tumbling down the hill. Erik had been helpless, watching it as though it was in slow motion, too busy moving children out of the way of the falling wall of snow to get to him. He'd been afraid he'd left it too late, that he would have lost him forever - and now Charles was fine, just bruised, and Erik was angry.
He moved to press a kiss to Charles's cheek, examining the injury.
"Are you alright?"
"It's fine. I'm just grumpy that I've had to sit out the last day of the holiday."
"You could have died." Erik muttered. "You do realise that if you die, you don't get to go skiing any more, ever?"
"I know." Charles pouted, but then leaned against Erik. "I just want to be out having fun with the students."
"You can stay here and have fun with me?" Erik suggested. "I can give you a massage, check you aren't hurt."
Charles sent back the image of Erik's strong hands brushing against his skin, slick with oil, and Erik frowned.
"Maybe. If you're really not hurt. If you're injured, then you're just going to have to wait."
Chapter 28: Help
Starting over a new life in Genosha was a challenge for Charles. It meant leaving behind decades of comfort, and everything he had built, and having to hope.
He didn't know, when he first arrived on the island, if he would be of any use. The place was thriving, full of life, but there were so many things that still needed doing, things that needed to be fixed or put together, and he was only too aware of his own lack of ability to help with the manual labour.
Erik obviously spent time with him in the evenings, but during the day he was busy with trying to organise things, not to mention ensuring the path system across the island would be traversable. Charles ended up sitting in the meetings, helping out and advising, listening to problems. When Erik got called away, he remained because he was being useful.
Then one day he was making his way home, when he heard a faint burst of laughter, and a few moments later a girl of about eight appeared in front of him, blinked, and then disappeared once more.
Charles clapped and laughed, and she appeared again, grinning at him.
"Hello..." Charles smiled at her, and began to wonder. There were other children here, and more to follow he was sure. He got home, pulled out a notebook and began to draw.
When Erik arrived home that evening, Charles smiled up at him.
"Dearest, I'll need your help to build a school."
Chapter 29: Pride
After all this time, humans still managed to surprise Erik. He'd seen people killed for the kind of love he and Charles shared, but now... things had moved on. He knew, of course, that this wasn't a total fix. But today, he got to walk down the street, Charles wheeling beside him, and he wasn't afraid.
There were all kinds of flags and symbols and colours, and he smiled slightly every time he spotted the Queer Mutant Alliance flag. He had one around his shoulders, whilst Charles had wheel coverings in rainbow stripes, that blurred as he moved.
He could see Bobby there, holding hands with Judah, and a few of their other students had come along today. For most, it was a party. They were streaked in rainbow colours and laughing, and Erik realised that they were celebrating, not thinking of the cost to get here.
Let them celebrate, my love. Charles murmured into his mind. It's good that they have no reason to mourn today.
"I don't trust it."
"You don't need to." Charles said. "We'll just have today. And then, afterwards, we'll be ready to fight. But ... today, we will feel joy." He reached for Erik's hand. "Because today, I can kiss you in public, and you can kiss me back."
"Is that a hint?"
"Absolutely." Charles grinned at him. Erik snorted, but he leaned down and captured Charles's lips in a gentle kiss, pulling away after a moment.
"I'll have to find you a feather boa..."
Chapter 30: Family
When he was young, Charles had always thought that his house was cold. Too large, too many empty corridors. It wasn't a home, just a building he returned to when he wasn't at school.
Finding Raven had changed that, a little. He had some company, no longer was all alone in the empty hallways, but it still wasn't somewhere that was comfortable. More comfortable, definitely, but not comfortable. Safer, but not safe.
He'd brought the children here after Shaw's attack because it had seemed like the best possible hide out. He hadn't expected much, and struggled to join in their joy.
Now though, this was a home. There was laughter and life, children racing across the corridors. Erik was working on dinner. Charles decided he'd had enough of marking, and wanted to see him.
He turned the corner, and instantly got run through by Kitty, who apologised over her shoulder before running through the wall. From downstairs he could hear shrieking - a brush of telepathy provided the image of Bobby and John trying to skate across a layer of ice Bobby had created. There was more laughter from the games room.
Charles made his way to the kitchen, and the door opened on his approach.
"Hey," he greeted Erik. "How's it going?"
"Even better with company." Erik answered, walking over and embracing him for a moment. "All okay in the Xavier madhouse?"
"Absolutely." Charles nodded. "I... didn't realise it could be like this."
This school was their family, their home.
A school full of teenagers celebrating Halloween was, quite literally, a headache. An endless cycle of excitement and brief bursts of terror permeated the building. There was a current pause on watching horror movies, just in case Jason started projecting while asleep again, but even with those gone there was still a neverending supply of thrills and scares.
Charles would, of course, claim to be far too old for such nonsense. He would argue he had only decorated his wheelchair as the x-jet in order to please the children, and he had no real desire to join in the partying. That would be a lie, and Erik knew it. Erik realised that Charles was excited about what they were doing, even if he didn't say so, and Erik decided to make it extra special for him.
"Charles?" He woke him with a kiss, once he'd decorated the mansion in orange and black streamers, carved pumpkins and many other ornaments. "Happy Halloween."
Charles's eyes flickered open, and he saw Erik was standing there wearing a grey tube. It took a moment for him to recognise that it had a tail, and from there he realised the triangles around his face were teeth.
"I'm doing this for you." Erik said with a grin. "Come on. I've told all the children they can eat breakfast in their outfits."
Charles nodded, and squeezed Erik's hand.
"You look utterly ridiculous."
"I love you."
"I know." Erik smiled. "I love you too."
And it's done! Thank you everyone who has read these, and especially to others who took part in the challenge! It's been wonderful.