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Until the stars don't shine

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Erik is down by the sound table, next to the sound engineer. The band is playing on the stage and he is frowning, arms crossed, looking at each one of the members.

“The bass is still too loud” he turns towards the engineer and yells, trying to be heard over the loud music “push it down”. The guy nods and moves some of the mixers at the console, up and down. He listens again and yes, now. “Perfect!” the engineer makes thumbs up and fixes a couple of buttons. Erik walks all the way back to the stage.

The others stopped playing as soon as they saw him making his way back. Some sound crew guys are untangling cables behind the stage and pushing and pulling some amplifiers on it. There are some lightning crew members hanging from wires up from the roof, working on the spotlights hanging up there.

"Everything fine?" Alex asks, left hand covering the cords of his guitar at the fretboard, and playing silent rhythms with his other hand.


"Sean was overriding everyone else, but it’s fixed now" Erik answers, bracing himself on his hands at the stage floor then jumping on it.

"That actually might improve our sound" Sean answers, a smug smile on his face. Alex throws him a pick.


"Let’s try Give me strength again for a last time to check our monitors and let’s wrap sound check up. I need a damn beer already" Erik says taking his place at the front, in the middle of the stage, grabbing the microphone. The rest of them yell in approval. They start playing.

 


 

"Can you stop with the sour face, Charles? Seriously, it’s not like I dragged you here, you agreed!" Raven says not amused at all.


"I know I did, but... we’ve been queuing for hours now, why don’t they open the bloody doors?" Charles, frozen to the spine in the middle of this February evening and pretty upset at the lack of punctuality, jumps from feet to feet trying to get some warmth into his body.


"These things happen, and you know it. Maybe they’ve had some sound problem or who knows. Don’t be such a whiner" Raven tosses her hair back from her shoulder, Charles gapes at her.


"I am not whining! And I know about sound problems, I remind you that I’m also from the musical world, and I tell you this doesn’t happen where I come from" he brags.


"Oh do shut up, Charles. I know your classical music is almighty and you’re going to feel dirty during months for assisting to a rock concert, but at least spare me the sermon and let me have a good time? You know they are my favourite band..." Raven pouts, and Charles feels terrible about it.


"I’m sorry, love, you’re right. I won’t say anything else” He kisses his sister’s cheek, who smiles warmly up to him, and puts his gloved hands inside his double-breasted trench coat pockets, ready to ignore all the loud chatter from the hundreds of fans queuing and yelling and smoking all around them.

This is so not his usual setting, and he feels extremely uncomfortable here. But he did promise Raven he would be his companion and would be a good one.

He looks up at the hall where the concert will take place. It looks like an aged cinema, or an old theatre, not like a rock venue; somehow that makes him feel more at ease. Huge white neon letters are hanging at the top of the building, reading ‘Empire’, and in what it’s exactly like an old cinema marquee there is the name of the band, not Heroes. Raven had practically squealed when she first saw the huge sign with the band name, squeezing his arm between her hands, and proceeded to explain to him how that name was chosen by and related to the front man, the German main singer, who was a rebel against society and all their lyrics were about radical activism and the fight against the system and he stopped listening right then.

Sure he can play the nice brother and not complain, but to really be interested in it all was asking too much. He never had any interest in rock music, after all. Actually, he never had any interest in music that wasn’t composed before 1900, with a few exceptions.

 

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“They’re opening!” Raven whispers excitedly next to him and sure, doors are being opened, and fans are suddenly screaming. He can’t understand what’s so exciting about doors opening; it’s something that doors tend to do. He’s glad Raven got VIP tickets though, this means they can enter before the rest of the fans and avoid the stampede that will happen for sure when all those brutes run to get first row. He’s seen that happen on the telly. Not anything he wants to go through, no.

A group of twenty or so other fans, both of them included, enter the venue ushered by huge men in dark parkas with ‘staff’ written in a bold white font on their backs. Once inside the hall, Charles gasps in admiration.

The place really looks like an antique theatre from the golden era, with its balustrades and red velvet seats and curtained stage. At both sides of the standing area there are two small cocktail bars with staff members already waiting for the thousands of orders of beers they’re sure going to serve as soon as the stampede enters the place.

The VIP holders are guided to the first floor by the stairs found at both sides of the stage, next to the cocktail bars. Raven practically runs and yells at Charles when she finds their seats. Once there, Charles wonders how much money his sister has spent on these tickets, since they are on the first seats available right next to the stage, first row. There’s absolutely no better place in the whole hall. Well, he’s glad he can sit down and just rest and be warm and ignore the concert without bothering his sister. He can only imagine what a hell it would be to be standing down there at the pit with the oceans of hysterical fans around him. He wouldn’t survive. He was built a bit too short for what he’s sure is going to be modern bacchanal.

Thousands of voices erupt suddenly inside the place, echoing on the walls and making the floor tremble; he can then see the hordes of fans running into the hall, as if they were charging into battle shouting bloody murder. He shakes his head, astounded. Raven laughs when a fan falls face first on the floor, but the lad just stands up and continues running as if nothing happened.

“For goodness’s sake, these people are crazy!” he can’t believe this level of fanaticism.


“Charles, come on, if Mozart was alive and offering a performance, you would be down there wetting your pants too, don’t deny it!” Raven rolls his eyes. He looks scandalized up at her.


“In no way!” Raven laughs and kisses his cheek.


“Shut up, Charles” she’s smiling though, so Charles lets it be. He takes his trench coat, gloves and scarf off, sits down, crosses his arms, and hopes the concert will pass as fast as possible.

 


 

“I’m nervous” Sean says from where he’s sitting down at the dressing room’s red velvet couch.


“You’re always nervous” Logan answers. He’s standing next to the table, getting orange pieces from the mini buffet laid on it, and eating them while bobbing his head to some beat that only he seems to hear.


“Of course I am! And the day these pre-gig nerves die I will die with them!” Sean smiles a little on the manic side and Alex chuckles next to him.

“These make me feel alive, man”


“No, you’re confusing nerves with pot, Sean. As always” Bobby tells him from where he’s sitting at the other end of the couch, playing rhythms on his unplugged white guitar which is resting on his leg.


“Dude, you have no idea what pot does, do you?” Sean smirks “My innocent baby”


“Sean, shut up” Erik enters the room, Emma right behind him, silent and all businesslike as always. They all sit up when they enter the room.


“How’s it looking?” Alex asks.


“Hyped full house, as expected” Emma grins. As their music agent, she loves hyped full houses. Alex, Sean and Bobby cheer loudly in excitement.
Erik sits down on a chair next to the buffet table and grabs a plastic glass with room temperature water. He drinks it slowly.


“Guys?” The stage manager pokes his head inside the room “Backline crew already finished changing equipment. You have five minutes” and walks off again. Sean cheers again. Erik finishes his water and stands up, walks out of the room. Silently, the rest of the band members stand too and walk after him.

Crew members who have been with them since the beginning of the tour pat their backs, shouting encouraging words. Local staff are clapping and cheering. He can hear the rest of the band clapping too and high fiving them.

They reach the stage curtain, and he jumps a couple of times, shaking his stiff arms, rolling his neck, breathing deeply. No matter how many times he does this, he always gets nervous. But it’s exactly as Sean said, he doesn’t want these nerves to go away. They make him feel alive. Lights go off at the hall and the place shakes with the shouts of the fans. He feels the rush of adrenaline, the speeding-up of his heart beats.

He turns towards his band members and they all make a circle, hands on shoulders, heads down. Their own private ritual before heading into battle.

“Here we are again” he says. They all grin at him. Excitement running through them like an electric pulse. “You all know what to do, and I know you can do it. Let’s give them a show they won’t ever forget” he grins, and they all yell, and clap, and the crew members are clapping too, and Emma is clapping too.

Logan walks out first, and the screaming turns deafening. Then Sean, Bobby, Alex, and he can feel the floor literally tremble. The crowd is really hyped up; he will have to thank the opening band later for warming them up like this. The music for the first song of the playlist starts playing and he can barely hear it over the beating of his heart, the clapping of the crowd, the uproar.

“Go show them how it’s done” Emma smirks. He winks towards her. Takes a deep breath, and walks out to the stage.

This is plain, unadulterated euphoria in his veins. This is his drug. This is what he lives for.

 


 

It’s extremely insufferable, this level of noise.

It’s been what, four songs? And yet he still has to hear a single note of the music. Charles can only hear absolutely everyone around him singing (more like hollering) every lyric. Damn, they even sing the guitar melodies! It’s impossible to listen to the music and he wonders why anyone would pay the astronomical prices of the tickets just to assist to a massive karaoke party.

It’s so ridiculous it practically offends him.

And yet, Raven is beyond herself. She’s screaming and dancing and singing, hands in the air half of the time. As soon as the band came out, she forgot he even was there. And that’s actually fine with him, since he doubts he would be able to put a happy face for her. The noise, goodness, so loud. He’s going to have a massive migraine for weeks.

So without being able to hear the music and bored beyond what he thought he was capable of, he leans forward, resting his crossed arms on the velvety railing, and studies the band members. He remembers Raven telling who her favourite member was, but has forgotten already.

The closest member to where they are is a young guitar player, blonde short hair, wearing a leather vest-thing that shows his perfectly defined biceps. He’s a good looking lad, albeit too young for Charles to think anything beyond that, and his movements are fierce and yes, attractive. Currently he’s doing some kind of powerful military-step walking towards the bass player who’s standing next to the drum set.

Said bass player seems to be the youngest member of the band, but he also seems to be wearing black eyeliner and makeup in general, so Charles can’t be really sure from up here. He’s wearing a sleeveless black shirt with some print or other and slim black leather pants, his hair is red and curly and long, covering one of his eyes. His skin seems pretty pale, but again he can’t really say with all the spotlights and colourful lighting going on around him.

The other guitar player has joined them too, and they’re currently doing a three man line, smiling to each other and seemingly playing some guitar solo that Charles can’t hear. Yeah, crowd singing (yelling) the guitar part. Again. Said guitar player has also short blond hair, spiky, and some kind of short beard. He’s all dressed in black clothes, too; seems like the band’s uniform. The way he plays guitar is more violent, his movements are more grandiose, and he’s banging his head up and down following the song’s tempo as marked by the drum player. Charles is afraid for the poor man’s neck.

Then there’s the drum player who, in Charles’ opinion, is a mix of a truck driver and a brown bear. The man is huge, his shoulders are so wide Charles is sure he could lie on them horizontally and fit perfectly. His biceps are more or less the size of Charles’ head, and that is extremely scary; the things he could crush under them... He’s wearing no shirt, sweating with how much he moves while playing drums, and Charles is sure there normally aren’t that many muscles in anyone’s torso. That man is a beast and not a human; it’s the only explanation for this phenomenon.

Then there’s the singer.

That man is tall, pretty tall, and slim. Dark blonde hair, short but long enough to fall over his eyes in wet, sweaty strands. Straight nose. Powerful, defined jaw line. What looks like thin lips, but can’t be sure over the distance. He’s wearing tight clothes, ripped fit black jeans and a black tank top. Said tight clothes are wrapping what looks like a sinful body; long, svelte, packed torso, wide chiselled shoulders, ripped arms. Those biceps are seriously erotic-fantasy worthy. A waist that he’s sure is thinner than his sister’s. And beautiful thighs, not as muscled as his own but muscled enough (as in enough to lift and manoeuvre shorter people, extremely important detail in Charles’ opinion), and beautiful calves and. Well. If he had to point a good thing out of this rock concert experience is, without any doubt, that hot piece of a singer.

Pity he’s destroying it all with this aberration that’s supposed to be music. For Charles, even barely hearing him at all, this is more like shouting and whining and banging instruments than music.

 


 

Erik is pissed.

The gig is going phenomenal and the crowd is on fire, singing along with him and clapping and there are divers and all. His members are on fire too, giving what probably is one of the best performances of the whole tour so far. His voice is on top form, and he’s been able to do a couple of adlibs he didn’t dare in their past gigs when his throat was a little swollen.

And yet, he’s pissed. Why?

Because there’s a bastard right there, to his right, on plain view at the VIP zone on the first row of the first balcony, who looks as if he’s being forced to walk barefoot on the fires of hell. Every time Erik looks, every single fucking time, the bastard looks bored out of his head, or scandalized, or affronted, even.

What the hell, really? What was he expecting? Why is the band so not up to his standards? Erik is sure they’re doing one of the (if not the) best damn concert of their careers. So what the fuck is wrong with that prick?

And why is it annoying Erik so much? Ignore him, that’s what he has to do. And yet, he can’t.

He’s in the freaking VIP seats, one would think that means he’s a big fan, right? Well, one would be fucking wrong, it seems.

The lights turn on, so he can see the crowd. They’re all whistling and smiling, hands in the air waving and clapping. Erik grins back at them. Ignore the prick. His loss.

“Are you having a good time?” he yells. The crowd goes crazy “Oh, we’re having a great time here, but I’m afraid it’s coming to an end” the crowd goes crazier “I know, I know, it sucks to cut the party short, right? Don’t worry, we’re not leaving without bringing the fucking house down!” He waits a couple of seconds for the screaming to stop, leaning onto the micro stand with both hands crossed over it, smirking down into the first rows. He can see female fans trying to catch his attention; he can hear them screaming lewd things to him. Sadly for them, that does nothing to him since they’re missing a basic part of male anatomy he favours. Still, he smiles and winks at them. It’s his job to please the fans, and the attention is good for his ego.

He looks up at the prick, it’s unavoidable. He is leaning forward, head rested on his hand, elbow resting on the railing. The pure image of boredom, that asshole. And yet, his eyes... they’re blue, so blue Erik can even see them from down here, with all the spotlights on his face, practically blinding him. And his mouth is red, and his hair is dark, and great, the damn bastard is pretty attractive? It only infuriates him more.

The guy notices him staring and sits straighter. Erik grins as dirty as he is able of towards the other, wanting to bring some reaction out of him, and winks. Surprise and bashfulness shine in those blue eyes. Somehow this makes Erik feel much, much better.

“Okay guys, last song” Crowd complains. He whispers “Morgenstern”. Lights go out. Crowd goes mad.

Music starts.

 


 

“Oh fuck that was awesome!!” Raven is yelling next to him once the band has gone off stage and the lights at the hall are on and people are starting to leave “That was the best concert of my life!”


“Oh I see, thank you for that” he answers, crossing his arms. Raven laughs.


“Dork, you know what I mean” does he? He knows Raven enjoys rock music way more than classical one, but still. They are family. She’s a traitor.


“So, should we go now?” and this is without a doubt the best moment of the whole concert. Well, almost. That hot piece of a singer winking up at him was definitely a top three moment.


“What? We have special VIP tickets, Charles. We’re going backstage to meet the band” and somehow the end of that sentence has been yelled so high Charles is sure only bats and dogs heard it.


“Are you serious?” Raven nods, smiling from ear to ear “Can’t I wait for you outside?”


“No! Charles, don’t do this to me, you know I’m shy!” rubbish, she’s not “I would pee my pants if I was alone in front of Lehnsherr”


“Who?”


“Chaaaarleees” she whines.


“Okay, okay, but I won’t in any way interact with those brutes” Raven is already hugging him and laughing and too high on adrenaline to care about anything else he has to say. He sighs.

A staff member comes and tells all the VIP ticket holders to follow him, so they do. Downstairs to the pit, then up the stage and behind it, through narrow halls, avoiding crew running everywhere picking up equipment and yelling things on their small hand radios. Seems they have to empty this place as soon as tonight. They reach a well illuminated hall after walking upstairs, and looks like this floor is where the old backstage rooms of the theatre where at, so he supposes here is where the band is at.

Raven is holding his arm so tight he’s sure he’ll have a bruise tomorrow. A blonde woman with the highest heels ever seen, dressed in a white, short and extremely tight dress, with zippers running all the front of it and opening slightly at her more than generous cleavage, greets them. She’s gorgeous and sexy and the perfect definition of a Bombshell. This is how Charles imagines all the women around rock bands to be, she’s only missing some tattoos to be a walking cliché.

“I hope you enjoyed the concert” everyone else agrees effusively except Charles, of course, who can only think of his house and his warm bed. “The guys will receive you now. You can take pictures with them and ask for something to be signed, and there will be champagne for you to toast with them” everyone seems pretty excited. Charles supposes this is a big deal for a fan. He’s looking forward to the champagne, at least.

They start walking into the room. He hears the first fans that enter gasp, and the two girls holding each other waiting to enter before them are vibrating with such excitement Charles can almost feel it on his skin. The red haired bass player is the first in line they see when they finally enter the dressing room, greeting everyone right when they get in, shaking their hands. Raven practically rips his arm off while they walk up to him.

“Hey, thanks for coming” the red-head greets them, and shakes both their hands. He’s as young as Charles thought he was, but way paler. He’s completely covered by a million freckles, and has what Charles would describe as a friendly face. Charles smiles softly to him, since he looks like a nice chap.

“Sean, oh shit, that was amazing, can I call you Sean? Because I feel as if I’ve known you my whole life” Raven is babbling next to him, not letting go of the red-haired (Sean?)’s hand, and the guy smirks.


“Sure! A beauty like you can call me anything, and anytime” Sean winks, Raven blushes, and Charles wants to step on the guy’s foot.


“Hello there” a deeper voice interrupts from their left, and Charles turns to see the blond guitar player, the one with the nice biceps. He really is too young for him to ogle, looks around Raven’s age.


“Summers! Oh goodness” he’s sure Raven is going to faint soon, if she keeps gasping like this.


“Alex for you, gorgeous” okay, what the hell is wrong with this band, are they all going to hit on his little sister? Raven giggles in a super feminine way that makes Charles’ skin prickle. Oh, now he really doesn’t want to be here, why does he have to be here seeing his young, innocent sister being hunted by these brutes, and her playing this kind of ultra-feminine seductress role for them?


“Bubs, move away and let the people in, you are covering the door” the bear-like truck driver appears behind the other two and pushes them out of the way. Charles has to try hard not to wrinkle his nose, since the guy is sweating like a pig and still not wearing a shirt. He’s taller than Charles by at least two heads and he feels intimidated just looking up at him.

“Logan, you are a machine!” Raven says, while walking more into the room, letting other fans enter behind them. The place is small and feels crowded pretty soon, but Logan walks them to the other corner. The Sean and Alex lads stay at the door greeting everyone else. “Your drumlines are amazing; I can’t understand how you do it. I would faint after just one song going at that speed!” oh hell no, is she now flirting with this beast too?

Logan just laughs and puts a hand on Raven’s shoulder, patting a couple of times as in endearment. He looks older than the others and probably it’s a patronizing gesture, but Raven looks over the moon so he says nothing about it.

The blonde bombshell from before walks up to them and gives them each a flute of champagne, then walks off again, giving flutes to the other people in the room. Charles tries not to drink it all in one go.

“This is a dream come true” Raven turns towards him, eyes huge and shining, big smile on her lips and almost flushing with excitement, and Charles feels a little bad about being such a spoilsport, even if he only is mentally, and smiles up to her, nodding. He can do this for her. He would do anything for her, after all.

The smile freezes in Raven’s mouth and her eyes go even bigger while looking at some point behind Charles, and he turns and sees the hot piece of a singer resting against the wall, one foot crossed over the other in a ‘couldn’t care less’ way that shouldn’t be as cool as it is, and a bottled beer in his hand, talking with a couple of people who seem to be speechlessly worshipping him.

“Oh shit he’s there. He’s there” Raven whispers, and Charles turns towards her, frowning “Lehnsherr” she whispers between her teeth.


“Oh, that’s your favourite member?” Raven nods. Well, he can’t say he doesn’t understand. Up close the man looks even better, all straight lines and taut muscles and crazy angles. He’s so, so attractive, sex-on-legs attractive, Charles almost feels himself fanboying too.

Right at that moment the sex-on-legs singer lifts his gaze and meets his, and, Charles thinks, a spark of recognition flashes in his eyes. He says something to the people around him and pushes himself away from the wall and starts walking towards them. It should be illegal to move in such a way, Charles thinks. He’s like a panther ready to attack.

“OH GOD HE’S COMING” Raven whispers so loud in his ear that he thinks he will never be able to hear again.


“So you’re here” is the first thing coming out of sex-on-legs’ mouth, and Charles’ stomach does something weird at hearing such a soft, deep, velvety voice so close to himself. Where was this voice before? He could only hear yelling.


“Excuse m-” but he can’t finish saying anything because Raven is suddenly grabbing his arm so strongly he winces in pain.


“L-Lehnsherr” she whispers. Where has all her bravado gone? It would be funny if he wasn’t afraid for the loss of his arm. He needs it for his job, really “I’m... I’m such a big fan” sex-on-legs Lehnsherr looks at her and grins. That grin should be illegal too. Are there normally so many teeth? And why is even that so sexy?


“Thank you, glad at least one of you is” he looks back at Charles, and now he does find his voice to ask.


“Excuse me?”


“I saw you during the concert” the singer says, low, almost groaning. Charles hopes he isn’t blushing “you seemed pretty bored. Annoyed, I would say”


“Charles!” Raven slaps his shoulder and really, he does need his arm, this abuse should stop. “Forgive him, he’s a prude”


“Wow Raven, thank you very much” he frowns up at his sister, who’s not even looking at him, eyes full of remorse pleading for forgiveness to the singer. “I’m no prude, I just don’t like this kind of music” and he calls it music because he knows if he calls it the way he should (trash, basically) they will probably throw the beastly drummer on him and that would be it for him. Charles Xavier, mort.


“This kind of music?” the singer asks, with that German accent and that unfairly soft voice.


“This. Rock. Punk. Metal. Whatever you call this” Charles shrugs, trying to keep his dignity and not fidget under those scrutinizing pale eyes.


“For fucks’ sake Charles, shut up!” Raven hisses next to him “Please, please ignore him, he just accompanied me because I’m a big fan but didn’t want to come alone. Please, just... act as if he didn’t exist”


He’s going to complain again to her because wow, here he is doing a favour to her and that’s how she thanks him, insulting? Ignoring his existence? He can perfectly walk out of here right now and see if he accompanies her ever again. But Mr. Sex-on-legs slowly looks him up and down, blatantly checking him out, takes a sip of his beer while doing so, and smirks. Smirks. No one smirks out of movies!


“Not possible” he whispers, and Charles is not really sure if he heard it right but oh. Oh, he wants to have heard it right. “Did you enjoy the concert?” he turns towards Raven and Charles lets out a breath he didn’t notice he was holding.

His sister talks excitedly about the concert and the songs and what-not to Lehnsherr so he uses this chance to gulp half the champagne flute down in one sip. What is happening here? He doesn’t even know, but he feels completely out of his field.

“Well, at least you have a nice boyfriend, don’t you? Accompanying you even when he so clearly hates this music” Lehnsherr is saying when Charles listens again, and notices how the other is side-glancing him while sipping from his beer.


“What?” Raven asks and bursts out laughing “He’s not my boyfriend! I wouldn’t go out with someone as dull as him, no. He’s my brother”

So now he’s dull, too. Okay. Charles doesn’t even dignify her with an answer, just glares at her.

“Oh, so he’s your brother, hm?” Lehnsherr turns fully towards him again “And what kind of music does your brother like, then?” he asks Raven even though his eyes are burning into Charles’ ones. They look silver. Charles drinks again.


“Classical. He’s like a boring octogenarian, you know?”


“I am not!!” He blushes angrily. It’s unavoidable; he hates it when Raven talks about him like this, as if she’s ashamed of him and his choices. Lehnsherr is looking at him amusedly, and it only makes him angrier.


“Hey, Erik, come here a moment!” The other blond guitar player who isn’t the one called Alex yells from the other side of the room.


“Excuse me” the singer grins and walks towards said guitarist, leaving them both alone. Charles finishes his champagne and leaves the flute on a table next to him.


“He’s even hotter in person, unbelievable” Raven is muttering next to him, eyes glued to the singer’s back.


“Whatever, I’m leaving” he says and tries to walk towards the door. Raven stops him by his already abused arm after two steps.


“Charles, not yet, come on! This is unfair” she tells and that’s it. The nerve.


“Unfair? Unfair?? You ask me to come here with you because none of your friends could, knowing I hate all this, and I say yes, and I come with you missing a whole rehearsal day, and I don’t complain even if you know what all this supposes to me, and I walk backstage with you so you can fangirl and be happy and enjoy and what do you do?” Raven is looking at him with wide eyes “You mock me. You ridicule me and the things I like just so you can look cool in front of someone who won’t even remember you tomorrow morning.”


“Charles…”


“No Raven, I’m leaving. Stay here if you want” and he does, he leaves and walks out of the room, leaving all the fans and band members and his sister behind. He feels Raven’s eyes glued to the back of his head but he doesn’t stop or turn.

He doesn’t feel the other pair of eyes following him, though.

 


 

Two days later Charles hasn’t talked with his sister, yet. He feels like an asshole, but at the same time he knows he was right. Somehow. It was humiliating to be under the studying gaze of that Lehnsherr while his sister talked about him as if he was disgraceful. Yeah. He was right in being pissed off.

He’s walking out of King’s Cross station, checking his phone, when he hears someone close by calling his name. He looks up and his heart skips a beat. It’s Lehnsherr.

“So it really was you” the singer says once he walks up next to him, hands in the pockets of his tight dark jeans, designer sunglasses covering those silver eyes.


“I beg your pardon?” Charles is bewildered.


“Don’t remember me? Wow, I’m hurt; I thought we bonded, what with you hating my music and all” Lehnsherr grins. Charles wants to mock him because no one wears sunglasses in London when the sky is as dark and menacing as it is right now, but the bastard manages to make it work, looking even hotter than he looked at the concert, all dressed in tight, edgy clothes and accessories.


“I do remember you. I just... you called me by my name?”


“Yup. I heard your sister calling you Charles a couple of times, and we talked a little more once you left. Nice exit you did, by the way. Pretty dramatic” Charles frowns. He doesn’t need to be mocked all over again.


“If you’ll excuse me” he turns and walks away, only to be stopped by a hand grabbing his shoulder and Lehnsherr’s amused voice.


“Hey, don’t be like this, it was a joke” Lehnsherr smiles and Charles keeps on frowning.


“I don’t find it funny” he shakes the singer’s hand off his shoulder.


‘Why are you so angry?’ Lehnsherr asks, frowning now.


“Because I don’t like people making fun of me or what I do, less when I didn’t make fun of anyone or anyone’s music before” he makes sure to put emphasis on the word music so this tosser of a sex god understands that no matter how hot he is, Charles is not impressed “now if you’ll excuse me, I have things to do and I’m sure you’re way too popular to be wasting time with a nobody like me” he nods “Have a good day” and walks away.

Lehnsherr lets him go this time, seemingly rendered speechless. He feels triumphant.

 


 

Erik can’t stop himself, so he ends up following this Charles guy. A part of him feels ashamed; what is he doing, an international rock star, following a nobody like that preppy guy, who feels too good for his music or his presence? But then again, it’s the first time in a long while since he’s met someone who wasn’t simply melting at his feet or kissing them just because he’s who he is, the leader of a pseudo-industrial, alternative European rock band. Plus, the guy is pretty nice to look at, no kidding.

He’s intrigued. And so he follows this short, blue-eyed, opinionated British guy. After all, he thinks it’s much of a coincidence to meet him in the middle of such a busy station while he’s just doing some tourism around the city, right after finishing his interviewing schedule.

This Charles guy is entering a seven story glass building a couple of blocks behind the station, its facade made of waves of shining glass and metal. Erik looks up at the place, takes off his sunglasses and ponders for a second if he should walk in just like that, and then what the hell, why not, and inside the place he goes.

It looks really top class, the lobby, an open space with marbled floors and timber walls where he can see all seven above-ground levels and a canal on the far left. Just like a modern art museum out of New York city. There’s even a cafe in here, where he mostly sees businessmen and women. It seems the building hosts mostly commercial offices, and Erik is disappointed imagining those fiery blue eyes sitting behind a computer screen, doing office work, even though it makes sense why the guy seems so polite and correct and uptight.

He takes a u-turn, ready to leave the place since he’s lost sight of the other, when he notices a directory panel next to the revolving doors at the entrance, and goes to check it. Offices, more offices, The Guardian has its offices here too (is he a journalist? It would be a massive turn off. He doesn’t like journalists in general), two art galleries (oh, maybe he works in an art gallery? He does look like a walking work of art). Erik chuckles at himself and shakes his head. Keeps checking and oh. Two concert halls and rehearsal music rooms? Wouldn’t that be funny? He walks up towards the information desk at the back.

“Good morning”


“Good morning sir, how may I help you?” a smiling girl answers him. He leans into the desk, slipping into his most charismatic smile, knowing perfectly well what effect it has on people. He sees the girl swallow. Bingo.


“Is it possible to visit the concert halls?”


“Oh. Oh, I’m afraid not right now, sir, the orchestra has hall one scheduled for rehearsal this morning, since hall two is closed for maintenance” Orchestra… Charles’ sister did say something about classical music. This is starting to be really interesting.


“Well, you know, that orchestra is precisely why I want to visit. You see, I’m a musician myself, I came all the way from Germany”


“... sorry sir, but…” she says, but he notices how she’s looking at him more closely, and he thinks maybe he’ll be lucky this time. He leans in closely.


“What a pity. You see, I’m Erik Lehnsherr, from the band not Heroes, and…” he doesn’t have to say anything else, the girl gasps as loudly as Erik thinks it’s possible in a human without bursting a lung.


“That’s why you were familiar, oh my goodness” she’s gaping at him. Finding fans working at places where you need help is one of the best perks his career has. “Of course you can go visit the hall, sir, I’ll just tell the manager, but... just... don’t disturb the practice and…”


“I wouldn’t dream of it” Erik smiles.

Five minutes later, after sorting out details with said manager of the place (and after signing a couple of autographs for her and another companion who also seems to be fan) he’s walking down two passenger conveyors and entering the music hall downstairs.

The place is gorgeous, all clear wood and dark seats and dizzying high ceilings, at least three storeys tall. The stage is smaller than he thought it would be, but it’s filled with at least twenty chairs and people holding instruments, tuning them and chatting and generally getting ready for a rehearsal. Erik looks around, but Charles is not there. It’s disappointing, maybe the other is really an office worker after all.

Erik sits down at the last row, thinking that at least he will rest until he gets bored, when someone else walks into the stage and yes. Yes it’s him. It’s Charles. He leans forward on his seat, resting his crossed arms on the chair in front of him, smiling victoriously.

“Morning, everyone!” Charles greets with a cheering voice and what looks like a smile on his lips. What a change from the other couple of times Erik has seen him. An improvement, it seems from here.


“morning!” a few of the musicians answer, others just nod, and walk to sit to their different places. Erik waits to see where Charles sits and see what instrument he plays when Charles walks up into the podium and starts organizing papers that he imagines are scores. Erik inhales sharply.

This guy is an orchestra conductor.

“Okay, so let’s start on the first movement, the allegro. Please remember that in measure 22 we transition to forte. Hank, your staccato has to be more pronounced than last Thursday, okay?” Charles says, grabbing his baton and looking at the people in front of him.


“Yes” a languid young boy with a violin sitting up front answers. The other players are passing pages of their scores, noting down things, moving their chairs, and getting ready to play.


“Ready?” Charles asks, raises his baton, everyone looks at him. Music starts.

And it’s beautiful.

It’s slow, with a sustained note and a lone violin playing a melody over them, and Charles’ movements are slow and careful as if he was delicately caressing the air. Erik sits back, eyes wide open. The music picks up and the violins start interlacing melodies, harmonizing together, and it’s beautiful. Uplifting. Vibrant.

Charles is shouting instructions to some of the players, but the music doesn’t stop, and he doesn’t stop conducting. He points things here and there, he signals, he corrects. He leads.


It’s impressive. Erik didn’t think much of the other beyond him being quite handsome and having gorgeous eyes and a gift to piss him off with his attitude. But now, now he’s not only handsome, he’s attractive, he’s powerful. He’s irresistible.

Erik smiles to himself. A simple interest has just become a serious game.

 


 

“Bye, Charles, see you on Wednesday” Charles turns his head and sees Scott walking away and waving, Jean next to him, smiling.


“Cheers, Scott, Jean. Be good” he waves back, sees Jean chuckling, grabbing Scott’s arm, and walking away.


“Since those two got together, I feel like we sound better” Hank says, walking next to him.


“Agreed. They’ve always had this chemistry, but now it’s like they are in perfect harmony. It’s a good thing for the orchestra” Hank nods. They walk out of the building. “Well, my friend, I’ll see you on Wednesday”


“Of course. I’ll practice on the change to F-minor in measure 88”


“There’s a good chap” Charles claps Hank shoulder “and don’t worry too much, it just needs a little of fine tuning” Hank smiles, blushes, nods, and walks away.

Charles turns down York Way, heading towards King’s Cross station ready to go back home, and freezes on his steps. Lehnsherr is there, right in front of him, leaning on the railing and smiling up to him.

 

epi01

 

“What are you doing here?”

“You’re an orchestra conductor” Lehnsherr says instead of answering.

“Yes I am, what has that to... wait. Wait. How do you know?” he frowns “Are you stalking me?” Lehnsherr laughs.

“Yes, I am”

“WHAT” Charles is scandalized, what the hell is wrong with this man?

“I just wanted to know why you were such an asshole with my music” Lehnsherr takes a couple of steps forwards and stands towering right in front of Charles, almost a whole head taller than him. It’s infuriating (and not sexy at all, no)

“I was not…”

“You were. But it makes sense now. Your music has nothing in common with mine” Lehnsherr takes the sunglasses off, and his eyes are not silver, they are green. Grey. Blue. All of them together. “Your music is soft and happy and tender, and mine is anger and blood and rebellion”

“Excuse me, my music can be anger and blood and rebellion too” Lehnsherr scoffs “I am serious! And what the hell, your music is not as cool as you think, it’s just yelling and noise and petulant angry words” he looks sharply up at the singer, defiant. Lehnsherr is smiling broadly at him, showing practically all his teeth.

“You have balls, I’ll give you that” Charles blushes, taken aback “Want to have a drink?”

“No. What?” Charles does a double take and Lehnsherr laughs again.

“A drink. With me. So we can talk”

“... man I don’t get you. You seem pissed off by me, then you mock me, then you stalk me, and now you want to... what, chat up?”

“Pretty much, yes” Lehnsherr nods and those tricolour eyes are smiling in amusement.

“I’m sorry but I’m afraid I would bore you to death with my tenderness and happiness and... why are you laughing again? Oh how you infuriate me” and he does, strangely enough, since he knows nothing of this man and he should be walking away since it’s weird to have someone following him. And yet. He doesn’t move.

“Do I, now?” Lehnsherr leans in close, and Charles leans away. “Just a drink, Charles”

“I would like it if you didn’t call me by my name, we don’t even know each other” Charles crosses his arms, not really knowing how to react in this situation.

“A drink?” Lehnsherr just smiles. Charles’ resolve crumbles. After all, he’s just a human, and Lehnsherr is a sex god.

“... just one. And in a crowded place” He frowns, trying to play it cool, but by how wide Lehnsherr’s smile grows he’s afraid he’s failed.

“Awesome”

 


 

They enter a pub called Millers next to the station that is extremely crowded with workers enjoying a pint after their workday and youngsters watching a football match on the huge telly. Charles has asked for only half a pint and Erik has to chuckle at this clear intention of leaving as soon as possible. Somehow it only makes him want to woo the other even more.

Because that’s exactly what this is all about. The conductor has gone from asshole to handsome asshole to irresistible asshole. Erik knows he’s never been able to resist the call of a force of nature, and Charles does seem a force to reckon with. So easily affronted, always ready to battle, fearless of his opponent.

And why deny it, seeing him conducting music has done things to his musician persona. He has a weakness for musicians, he just never knew it applied to classical ones too. Oh yes, he wants Charles in his bed, and as soon as possible.

They are sitting in a crowded and loud area, sipping in silence. Erik is looking at Charles and Charles is looking everywhere else, but he’s fine with this. This way he can admire the bluest eyes and the reddest lips he’s ever seen, and those constellations of freckles on those cheeks and nose and neck... fuck, this guy is simply delicious.

“So, why do you hate me?” Erik asks, just to rile Charles up. The way those cheeks flush up is irresistible.

“I do not hate you. Hate is a strong word, and I don’t know you enough for it. You just... irritate me” and there it is, that red tint.

“And why do I irritate you? I’ve done nothing to you”

“Excuse me? You have stalked me!” Charles looks incredulous in his direction. Erik shrugs.

“It wasn’t really stalking... you know, it’s not every day that you find someone at your concert who seems bored and insulted. Even less in the VIP section” he sees Charles blushing harder and looking down. One point for him. “So you intrigued me, and then you made that number with your sister and... I don’t know. When I met you by chance I thought, let’s see what’s up with this guy. And I’m glad I did, it all makes sense now” Charles is biting his lower lip, and it’s really distracting.

“I recognize that maybe my attitude during your concert wasn’t the best one, and I apologize for it” and that throws Erik completely off-track.

“Ah... it’s fine?”

“The thing is, my sister shouldn’t have said what she said. She’s always making fun of me as if being a classical conductor is shameful or…” he shuts up suddenly, looks up at Erik, grabs his half pint and swallows a long gulp “sorry, I got carried away with things that will bore you”

“You know, that’s something we have in common; my father was ashamed of me too. His son, a rocker” He shakes his head and notices Charles attention back on him.

“He’s not ashamed anymore, I suppose?”

“Who knows. He’s dead”

“Oh crap, I’m sorry” Charles looks at him in a way he’s never looked at him until now, all big, deep bright eyes and Erik has to swallow and look at his drink, and wonder how many different gazes this guy has.

“It’s fine, it was years ago” Erik takes a sip of his ale ‘it just sucks to not know if he would have been proud of seeing how far I’ve made it’ and why the hell is he telling this? He just wants to get into the other’s pants, not cry on his shoulder.

“I’m sure he would have been” Charles says in a soft voice. And what the hell does he know? Erik’s temper shots up before he can stop it.

“That sounds extremely fake coming from someone who defined my music as noise and yelling” Charles looks down, bites his lip. Erik regrets saying what he just said instantly. “Hey, don’t take it seriously, I was just…”

“No, you’re right. I’ve been a bloody sod” it kind of sounds funny, hearing bad words in that posh accent “I just never enjoyed rock or pop or that kind of music... and I’ve been teased never-endingly about it. I suppose I’m a bit on the defensive side, now”

“You never enjoyed rock or pop?”

“Never”

“... what, I mean. What music did you listen to, growing up?” Erik asks, because he can’t understand what Charles means.

“... classical, obviously” Charles is looking at him as if he was dumb.

“Okay, duh, but I mean, I’m sure you had some song you liked? Some classic? Like, everyone likes some Beatles, or Bowie, or Queen, or…” he stops talking when he sees Charles looking at him as if he was talking in a different language suddenly “Oh shit tell me you know what I’m talking about?”

“...no?”

“OH SHIT” Erik looks bewildered at the other, who seems completely lost “You don’t know Bowie? David Bowie” Charles shakes his head “The Beatles? Queen!?” Another no “You’ve ONLY listened to classical music your whole life??”

“Yes. I mean those names, sure I’ve heard them, but not their music or anything beyond that, just their names” Charles says, shrugging nonchalantly, and finishes his half pint as if nothing was wrong with the world, while Erik doesn’t understand how can there be a human like this in it.

“Okay, no. No, this is outrageous. I need to teach you”

“I need no teaching…”

“Yes you do, urgently. Give me your phone” Erik lifts his hand and presents it to the other, palm up.

“I beg your pardon??”

“Oh stop sounding so properly English, how old are you, seventy? Give me your phone, I’ll get your number and I’ll give you mine, and I’ll send you music you must listen to” Erik moves his fingers in a come-hither way “Come on”

“...” Charles almost pouts, and Erik finds it horribly endearing. “This is crazy... and I’m only twenty six”
“Twenty six? You look twenty!” he did think Charles was younger, and now the other is looking at him strangely “I’m twenty eight. And I prefer you being twenty six. I’m not into brats” he smiles showing all his teeth, and delights in Charles being all flustered finally reaching for his phone inside his messenger bag and handing it over.

“I’m crazy. I don’t know you. This is crazy” he’s muttering while Erik saves his number on the other’s phone, and calls his own number to have Charles’ one back.

“Done. Now, I’ll let you leave since you seem like you want to run away” Charles bites his lower lip. It really is too distracting.

“It’s just weird, isn’t it? We don’t know each other and…”

“You keep saying that, but to know someone you have to meet them a first time, and talk to them a first time, and isn’t that what we’re doing here?” Charles shuts up and looks into his eyes “I mean, I think I wouldn’t mind getting to know you” and now the English man is blushing again.

“Well. You’re not wrong” Erik smiles.

“So, would you mind if I sent you songs you must listen to yes or yes?” Erik asks, and Charles gaze is focused on him like it hasn’t been until now. It feels pretty good.

“...no. No I wouldn’t mind it” he smiles a little and it feels like a huge victory.

“Good”

They finish their drinks and say their goodbyes. Charles is still awkward, but a little more amiable than he has been until then, and Erik is pretty glad about it. Getting into Charles’ pants is going to take longer than what he’s used to but, what the hell, this is exciting.

 


 

It’s almost midnight when Charles’ phone beeps with an incoming whatsapp text. It’s from Lehnsherr (he has named himself E. Lehnsherr in Charles’ phone). It’s a link and a message that says 'constructive criticism, please.'

Charles clicks the link, it’s a YouTube video. It’s a kind of collage of different pictures of what seem to be the band members, changing while the music plays.

The song starts suddenly, guitars and drums and who knows what else playing at the same beat, slow and heavy. Then the singer starts singing and what the bloody hell is this.

What is this way of singing? Can this be called singing? It doesn’t follow a logical pattern, or a logical rhythm. It’s barely on the same beat as the music, like two different things barely glued together, and practically out of tune. The lyrics seem to make no sense, either. He doesn’t like this at all.

He reads the name of the band and the song. Led Zeppelin, Kashmir. As in cashmere? What the dickens does that have to do with the song? He closes the YouTube app as soon as the ‘singer’ starts going on ooooh and mama mama without any logic, goes back to his whatsapp chat with Lehnsherr and writes 'This was chaotic and had no logical tempo and I’m worried about the singer’s mental health (and his vocal chords’ health, too).'

He goes to the kitchen, drinks a glass of water, and when he’s back he has a new text waiting for him.

'I see you didn’t get it. No problem, I’m saving the heavy artillery for later. Goodnight, Charles.'

He keeps looking at the message. Shakes his head. Goes into bed.

This is a really weird way to get to know someone, but it’s not that bad. Not at all.

 


 

Five weeks later, Erik and his band are in Tokyo. The tour has taken them to France, Spain, Italy, Russia, Philippines, South Korea and now, Japan.

He likes Japan. It’s so different from everywhere else that it’s impossible to feel out of place. Like, there’s a little of everything here, so. It all fits. It all has a place.

It’s seven in the morning when a beep from his phone wakes him up. So much for the ‘rock stars wake up past midday’ cliché. He grabs it from the bedside table, unlocks it. It’s a whatsapp text. He smiles.

'What time is it there?'

Charles always asks him what time is it before starting any conversation. Once he told him to make the count himself, but Charles answered he couldn’t be bothered and preferred to wait until Erik answered. It’s funny how he can be both extremely active and beyond lazy at the same time.

'7 am. Good morning Charles.'

'It’s 10 pm here. Goodnight, Erik. How’s the future looking?'

He chuckles.

In these past weeks they have become good friends. Really good friends, he would say. It’s funny how it all have evolved from that one concert where he was annoyed by Charles’ attitude to wanting to get into his pants to this point, when a silly text from the other can make him smile miles away.

'No song today?' Another text from Charles.

'Give me a minute, I just woke up' He sends back.

And he almost doesn’t want to send any more songs back. He’s tried everything: The doors, Iggy and the Stooges, Led zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The rolling stones, The Who... and Charles still has to say anything good about it.

Well, that’s not completely true. He’s seen an evolution in the classical conductor. He’s gone from ‘this is only noise and shouts, Lehnsherr’ to ‘this melody is beautiful and the guitar player is magnificent. It’s a pity the singer destroys it all’ or ‘Oh Erik, this song would be beautiful if it wasn’t for that bass line’. He is proud that Charles can differentiate bass lines and all, now.

Charles is one picky bastard, that’s what he is, but it still feels good to do this, to expand the other’s world, to show him the music Erik grew up with, to share a little part of his own world. And to have it received in such a good manner: Charles is always asking for more, ready to analyze and discuss with Erik about the good and bad points of the songs. A conductor’s occupational hazards, he supposes.

Yeah. Yeah, it feels good.

'Well?' Another message from Charles. He chuckles.

“All right, all right, you impatient man” he tells to himself, opening his iTunes and checking what he was listening to last night. Queen’s A night at the opera. Well. He’s sleepy, it’s too early, and he doesn’t want to think too much on it so he opens YouTube and searches for the first video to appear from that album, and sends it to Charles.

Queen’s Love of my life.

'Enjoy.'

He throws the phone on the bed and goes to take a shower. He dresses up, dries his hair, goes downstairs for the buffet breakfast, and once he makes it back to his room and checks his phone, he has a few messages from Charles.

'Oh'

'Erik. This one.'

'Erik.'

'This is beautiful.'

'Congratulations. You’ve just left me speechless.'

Erik checks what he has sent to Charles because he barely remembers and, somehow, feels his heart speed up when he sees it. He smiles, heart in his throat, and writes back.

'Finally. I’m glad'

Charles doesn’t answer, but he doesn’t mind. It’s past midnight back in London, and it’s a week day; he’s probably asleep.

He walks down to the lobby, meets the rest of his band and manager and gets into the van to go to the sound check at the Zepp Tokyo, spirits high and a smile never leaving his lips.

Chapter Text

“Chaaaarles?” he hears Raven’s voice coming from the living room.

“Yes?” Raven doesn’t answer, appearing instead at the kitchen door two seconds later, looking at him while he makes them both some tea, her eyes narrowed. “What’s wrong?”

“Since when do you listen to Queen?” and just now he notices she has his phone on her hand, and of course, he’s been listening to the last song Erik recommended non-stop.

He can’t avoid it, the instrumentation is simple yet gorgeous, close to sonatas he’s used to hear and love, and the singer’s voice is quite lyrical, technically exquisite, with a balmy timbre charged with emotion. And the lyrics are, well. Gorgeous.

He’s found himself smiling for no reason every time he’s listened to the song. He’s also thanked Erik more times than he can think of, almost every time the other has sent him a Whatsapp text. But of course he can’t say any of this to Raven, he’s not suicidal.

“And why are you checking my phone? Either ways, a friend recommended that song to me…” it’s not a lie, technically.

“And you like it?” Raven asks, eyes still narrowed, suspicious.

“Well yes, I think that’s a beautiful song” he nods. She takes two steps towards him and rests the palm of her free hand on his forehead.

“Okay are you running a fever?” he bats her hand away.

“Ha ha, really funny. It’s not that weird for me to like music, is it? I’m a professional musician after all…”

“Charles, you’ve spent most of your life yelling at me to turn down the volume of that infernal noise every time I was listening to music I liked” she crosses her arms, Charles smiles.

“I can’t avoid it if I have good taste and you don’t…” she slaps his arm, and he laughs.

“And who is this friend who has achieved this miracle of modernizing you?” Raven looks down at the phone and for a second Charles panics. He was listening to the song on his iTunes, so Erik’s name should be nowhere in sight, right? It’s not like he can tell her about them being friends, it would be too awkward? She’s too big of a fan of him.

“Just this lad from the orchestra…” he mumbles and turns to put the kettle out of the fire. Pretend like everything is normal, Charles, you can do it.

“Hank?” Raven asks trying for nonchalant and fails miserably. Charles chuckles.

“No, not Hank”

“Too good to be true…” she mumbles “Well, either way, thank this good Samaritan in my name, and let’s hope he continues helping you walk on the right path” Charles throws her a tea towel, and Raven retreats towards the living room.

Yet he can’t stop feeling a little bad about this. Is it correct to hide it from her? It’s just a friendship, and she would probably be over the moon… He’ll have to ask Erik’s opinion.


“Man, New York is crazy. I may come back here to live it for a while once the tour ends” Alex says, feet up on the chair in front of him, looking out the window at Sean’s Central Park view suite at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Columbus Circle, where the whole band is resting after a most successful gig at Rumsey playfield in Central Park.

“You would, you all-American dream-boy” Logan chuckles from where he is next to the other, smoking a cigar, looking into the million city lights above the trees.

“I wouldn’t mind either” Sean adds, a beer in his hand “I would miss Ireland but... there’s kind of more entertainment here to choose from” he grins; Alex and Bobby grin back.

“Yeah I know what kind of entertainment you seek… you little perverts…” Logan groans.

Erik shakes his head amusedly, taking a sip from his beer and grabbing his phone from where it was thrown on the couch next to him. There’s an unread Whatsapp text from a couple of hours ago, and he smiles, already guessing from who it is. He isn’t wrong.

’How was the concert? Conquered the US already?’

’We just solidified our place as their sovereigns, already conquered the country a couple of years ago’ He smiles. Lately he seems to smile a lot. Anytime there’s a Whatsapp text from the British conductor, to be precise.

’Oh bugger. Please excuse my ignorance, I didn’t know your reign was established so long ago’ Huh, Charles is still awake? He checks the time on his phone, it’s almost midnight here so... it’s almost 5 in the morning back in London.

’How are you awake?’

’By not sleeping’ Erik groans. God, what a dork ’Seriously though, I’m currently being tortured at a club, can you believe it? Raven’s birthday, and she decided to celebrate it by murdering my eardrums with this techno-aberration’ Charles sounds properly British even by text. Erik smiles. Again and again.

’And why exactly are you on your phone instead of celebrating with her?’

’Because she has abandoned me to go dancing with her other friends and I was bored here alone with my drinks and I thought about annoying you?’

Something warm settles at Erik’s belly and spreads through his limbs. It feels better than it should to know the young conductor is thinking about him, so many kilometers away.

’You should go dancing. I would pay to see you dancing techno. I’m sure it’s a whole new experience.’

’You’re an asshat. I have no shame, so don’t dare me to do it BECAUSE I WILL.’ Erik laughs out loud. An asshat? Really? That’s golden ’I’m still waiting for new music, you know?’

’You’ll have something new tomorrow when you wake up’

’Cheers. Give me something soft, though, I’m afraid I had one too many drinks... :P’ Oh lord, tipsy Charles sending him emoticons. Erik isn’t sure he’ll be able to handle this like an adult man.

’I will, you drunkard’

’There’s a nice chap. I leave you now to your kingly affairs, Raven is demanding my presence before the club closes. Goodnight, Erik ;)’

’Goodnight, Charles.’

Blocking his phone, smiling to himself, he throws it back on the couch. When he sips his beer again he notices the rest of his band members looking at him.

“What?” he asks.

“Who’s the lucky one?” Bobby asks back, and Sean catcalls, and Alex laughs and hell, he hates them all. Logan is muttering something like I wouldn’t call lucky someone who caught Erik’s eye, haven’t you read his lyrics? Erik ignores him.

“There’s no lucky one, you assholes” he puts his feet up on a chair.

“Sure, of course…” Sean smiles and winks at Alex.

He’s not going to bother answering. It’s not a lie, there’s no one. Yet. But he doesn’t feel like correcting them, after all. It feels good to keep Charles for himself.

“So?” Sean demands. Erik looks up at him, raising his eyebrows in question “Where will you go once the tour is over? Back to Germany?”

“Hmm... I think I’ll stay in London for a while” He doesn’t think it. He’s sure.


Charles thinks something has changed because he finds himself genuinely enjoying the songs Erik recommends him, lately. It’s as if a switch has gone on and there, now he understands this music too.

He’s currently listening to The Who’s Baba O’riley on his way to the Kings Place hall, since it’s a Monday and he has rehearsal with the orchestra. The concert is coming closer, and they still have to perfect their Schubert. But they already sound great and he has whole faith in his members, so he lets his mind wander at the sound of electric guitars and synthesizers.

He decides to send a message to Erik, who by now should be lost somewhere in North America, still touring. Was it Pittsburgh now?

’I would like to inform you that I made a playlist with the songs you’ve recommended me lately. Currently listening to The Who on my way to rehearsal. Be proud.’ He sends a screencap of his Spotify screen as proof.

And this is so silly, how he feels the need to share with Erik all these silly comments. His phone rings, stopping the music in his earplugs. Erik’s name appears on the screen (yes, he’s changed E. Lehnsherr to simply Erik on his contacts), and his heart jumps inside his chest. Erik has never called him before, they’ve only texted since the rocker left to tour around the world almost three months ago. Should he answer? He should, shouldn’t he? Yes, he should. He takes off one earplug, and lifts his phone to the now free ear.

“Erik?” he asks, heart on his throat.

“Hey, sorry, hands are busy to type so I thought, why not call him? I hope you don’t mind”

“No, no I don’t. What are your hands busy doing?” he notices a second too late how wrong it could sound, and by Erik’s chuckle he knows the other has noticed too.

“Wouldn’t you like to know, huh?” it’s playful and flirty and Charles wonders for the first time if Erik is maybe interested in men, and then tries to stop himself from going down that lane. Not now.

“Shut up, you pervert” Charles tries to act all chill, ‘bros joking’ and all that stuff, but he’s sure his voice is doing weird things, as if he was a teenager going through voice changes again. Erik laughs out loud.

“I’m carrying a trolley, Charles, I don’t even know what you mean calling me pervert” He can hear Erik’s smirk in his voice, the bastard “I’m on the airport, we’re on our way to the last stop of the tour”

“Oh, is it over already?” he has no idea for how long bands tend to tour, so he decides to play surprised.

“Yeah, and about damn time. I love touring, but I’m exhausted” Erik sighs, and Charles smiles.

“Well, just a little longer now”

“Yes” Erik sighs again “So, what’s this I hear about you listening to exceptional music?” and Charles chuckles.

“You see, there’s this annoying lad who is practically harassing me with texts, sending me all these songs…”

“Hey, I can stop if it’s such a burden!” Charles laughs, hearing the amusement on Erik’s voice.

“Don’t you dare, I’m getting shamefully addicted to this” there’s a victorious ‘ha’ from Erik “this doesn’t mean I don’t still think classical music is way superior” and then there’s a snort from Erik “It is, you uncultured twat”

“Whatever you say, Charlie” and Charles laughs again, because Erik said that name trying so hard to annoy him.

“You should come to one of my concerts and see for yourself” and again he notices a second too late what he’s just said.

“Sure. When is your next one?” Erik doesn’t even lose a beat answering.

“Eh, next Saturday?”

“Hmm... I don’t know if I can make it” Erik sounds pensive, Charles shakes his head.

“It’s fine it’s fine, it was just a sudden idea. We will do more concerts, no need to come to this one”

“Is that an invitation to attend one any time I want?” Erik says in a low voice.

“It is” he answers in a low voice too. Two can play the same game.

“Good. I have to leave you now, going to board. Talk to you later?”

“Of course, we’ll catch up later. Have a safe flight”

Once they’ve said their goodbyes and the music starts again in his earplugs, he thinks it’s been really, really pleasant to hear Erik’s voice again.

He also thinks that they’ve been probably flirting back and forth for a month now? And he’s just noticed. That, or Erik’s friendship is something pretty different to the other friendships Charles has had until now. And since Erik does everything differently from everyone else in the world, that sounds like a more logical explanation, and that’s the explanation he accepts.

He ignores the way his chest contracts in disappointment.


Erik is exhausted by the time he sits down.

He’s barely had time to take a fast shower and change into a more classy white button-down shirt at the hotel before running to the Kings Place hall to make it on time. The plane was delayed and the spare hours he had to rest and get ready were diminished into forty minutes. Still, he’s made it on time.

He can’t wait to see Charles. He knows probably he’s just idolized the guy, long months just texting and joking and becoming good friends but not seeing him, just having this image in his mind of how handsome he was, surely exaggerating it (there’s no way his eyes were that blue), creating this flawless persona inside his head. And probably he’s going to be disappointed once they meet face to face again. But maybe not? Charles has become a person he’s looking forward to spend time with, and that’s already a marvel for him. No, he really can’t wait to see him.

Sitting at the back row at the mezzanine, on the left side, he thinks he’s going to get a good view of the whole thing. He looks at the program in his hand; Charles’ orchestra, seemingly called Utopia Orchestra, is going to play two chamber music pieces: Haydn’s String Quartet in B flat major ‘Sunrise’ and Schubert’s String Quartet in D minor ‘Death and the Maiden’. He has no idea why the titles of these pieces have to be so long and impossible to remember.

He’s reading about the pieces, how one evokes the sunrise, new beginnings, new possibilities, and the other is heavily influenced by the theme of death, loss, endings. Smart Charles, playing opposites. Pretty poetic.

There’s clapping suddenly and Erik looks towards the stage. Musicians are coming onto it, but only four of them. Two women and two men, with two violins, one with something a little bigger than a violin, and one with a cello. Erik looks down into the program again, maybe ‘chamber music’ means it’s not a whole orchestra playing. He feels pretty ignorant, suddenly.

Clapping starts again, and there he is, Charles walking onto the stage. He’s wearing a black suit, tailored, and a black shirt without a tie. A whole black ensemble. Stylish, edgy, and really, really handsome, probably as much as he remembers, bowing to the crowd.

Clapping slowly stops. Charles lifts his baton. Music starts.

It’s the one he heard at that rehearsal when he followed Charles, when this strange friendship between them began. He smiles softly.

The guy with the long limbs and the black-rimmed glasses seems to be the one playing the leading melody, and after a few seconds all the other members join in those wonderful interlaced harmonies and he has to breathe deeply. As much as he laughs and jokes about Charles being a musical snob, here he is, at the head of such wonders. Conducting this virtuosismo with elegant movements of his hands and fingers.

He doesn’t remember enjoying it this much the first time he heard this piece, probably because he was too busy observing Charles. Now he’s doing both. Observing Charles, enjoying the piece. Enjoying Charles.

His hair shakes every time he does a sharp movement, and Erik wonders if it’s as soft as it seems.

He can’t see the other’s face, but his whole body is radiating a positive energy that is contagious. The smile doesn’t leave his lips for the whole of the first act.

At the intermission he wonders if it would be possible to sneak backstage. He’s dying to see Charles, to talk to him, to tell him he did it, he’s here. Making his way out of the hall and after wandering a couple of minutes he finds the backstage door. It’s open, and he can see people rushing around inside, and a security woman standing there. He approaches her.

“Good evening”

“Good evening sir, need anything?” the woman answers, polite smile.

“Yes, I was wondering if it was possible to meet my friend? He’s currently backstage…”

“I’m not sure that would be possible, sir. Who is your friend?”

“The conductor, Charles…” and he is ashamed to notice he doesn’t know his surname. He thinks checking the program to find it would make the security woman suspicious. Or more than she already is.

“I’m sorry sir, but that won’t be possible”

“Erik?” a surprised gasp, and turning towards the door he sees Charles frozen in the middle of the hall beyond the door, between what seems to be two rooms.


ch02-01s

“Surprise” he answers lamely, but he’s sure he can’t say anything else. There he is, his blue eyes (actually bluer than he remembered them) and his soft hair and his freckles. There he is, after months of chatting, sharing, joking. After months of being constantly inside his mind. And no, he hasn’t idolized him at all. Charles is as handsome as he remembered him. No, more. Flawless.

“You’re here” Charles walks towards him, and he walks towards Charles, the security lady saying nothing to him now.

“I made it on time, yes” they’re both almost whispering. He knows he’s doing it because he’s afraid he’ll wake up if he talks too loud. Slowly, Charles’ face turns from perplexity to unashamed delight. It’s like he lights up, and Erik can’t breathe. He has never seen such an expression on Charles. Damn, he’s barely seen any expression on Charles yet, and he’s already in this state of loss of speech.

“This is wonderful!”Charles grabs his shoulder, and that point of contact becomes the centre of his gravity “Did you make it for the whole thing, did you hear our Haydn?” he’s so bright. It burns.

“I did. Still too happy” he smirks showing he’s clearly joking, and Charles slaps his shoulder, laughing.

“Cheeky bastard. Just wait to listen to Schubert, you’ll be surprised”

“Charles? We should go” a stunning woman of colour with a long black sleeveless dress and long, pearl white (dyed?) hair appears from one of the rooms, followed by a red haired woman and a guy with tinted glasses, both of them also in black and formal clothing. The lanky one is the last to emerge.

“Yes of course. Erik, we’ll talk later?” Charles turns the full power of his blue eyes on him. There’s no way to escape.

“Not going anywhere” he smiles. Charles smiles back.

With a nod and a pat on his shoulder, he goes back to his seat, trying to calm his heart.

And sure, Schubert’s piece is way darker, deeper, with sudden shifts from extremely slow and alluring to fast paced and dramatic. It’s kind of painful, terrifying, and Erik is almost overwhelmed by the heartbreaking melody. But nothing overwhelms him more than the small blue eyed wonder conducting this music as if he was leading an army into battle.

He wants him. He wants him so badly. Like he’s never wanted anyone before. It’s scary.


An hour and a half after the concert is finished, he finds himself at a pretty crowded pub called Betjeman Arms, right under the arches of St. Pancras, but sitting inside in one of the most solitary corners, nursing a pint of ale with Erik sitting in front of him. So different from the last time they were in a similar situation, where he was almost scared of the rocker stalking him, and didn’t want to be left alone with him. Now he wouldn’t mind to be alone at all.

His orchestra members left early, thing that surprised Erik. It seems, after a successful gig, rock band members tend to go celebrate it with alcohol and more loud music and whatnot. Charles told him that was one of the many differences between barbarians like his band mates and classy people like Charles’ orchestra. Erik had punched his bicep, but not that hard.

“I liked the second part more than the first” Erik is telling, pint glass in his hand, leaning back on his chair, dark jean clad legs wide open. The perfect picture of a laid back rocker “I liked the first but... the melody of the second one was... dunno. Cooler?” Charles snorts.

Cooler. Schubert must be rolling in his grave” he shakes his head, Erik shrugs, wide smile on his lips “But yeah, I can imagine why you liked it better. And I’m sure you would enjoy a lot of classical music, if you gave it a chance. You’re not a hopeless brute, after all”

“Hmm…” Erik drinks. Swallows “Shall we exchange music, then? A rock song for a classical one?”

“I would love too!” and he really would, to share his world with Erik the way Erik has shared his with him.

“Deal then” Charles smiles to himself, drinks. “So, how’s Raven?” Erik asks after a few nice seconds of silence.

“Raven?”

“Yes, that beautiful lady of a sister you have?” Erik chuckles, but Charles doesn’t feel like chuckling anymore.

“Ah, she’s travelling. She’s trying to make a life out of her photography, so she travels around the world pretty often”

“Damn, that’s cool. Does she do portraits? My band is in need of a few new photos. Last official ones, Sean still has short hair” he drinks again. Charles just looks at the drink between his hands.

“Yes, she does portraits. I could tell her. She’s a huge fan of you, so she’ll love it” and it comes way sharper than he wanted. Erik seems to have noticed.

“Is there any problem with it?”

“No”

“Yeah, that’s why you’re suddenly frowning. What’s the matter, Charles?” Erik leans forward, a hand over the table, close to where Charles’ is holding the pint.

“If you were just interested in my sister, I don’t know why you went through all that work with me? You could have asked sooner” and it sucks, but it makes sense. The fast friendship, the instant interest. Why would someone as different from him as Erik want anything to do with him at all. Of course, it’s because of Raven. She’s gorgeous, extroverted, funny. Of course it’s because of her.

“What?” Erik bursts out laughing. Laughing!

“W- why are you laughing?” he’s getting even angrier now.

“I have no interest in your sister, you dumbass, it was just small talk. Remember you left her alone at our last concert here? If I was interested in her I would have attacked then”

“Hey, don’t talk about my sister as if she was game” he crosses his arms. “but... you’re not interested? Then why?” Erik leans forward.

“Why what?” he asks in a low, deep voice.

“Why... this?” he points at Erik, then at himself.

“Because you’re right, I’m interested. But you got the sibling I’m interested in wrong”

Oh.

“Oh. I. I see” that thing about breathing being something the body automatically does? Wrong. Charles has to force it now.

“You’re blushing” Erik says and there’s this horrible (wonderful) smirk on his mouth and he hates it (but can’t stop looking at it).

“I’m not” and maturely he grabs his pint and drinks half of what’s left. Erik is still smirking.

“By that reaction I would dare say my interest is not unwelcomed?” he doesn’t know what to do with his hands now, he wants to shake them, stand up and walk up and down and scream and laugh and hide away at the same time. Seems his body has decided the best way to react is to bite his lower lip until it almost hurts. Erik’s eyes focus on it and damn it all.

“No. I don’t think it’s unwelcomed, no” and Erik’s smile changes, even if barely noticeable, but it’s softer now. Brighter. And his eyes are bigger and bluer. Charles drinks again.

“Then from now on consider me openly courting you” Erik raises his glass in salute and drinks. Charles laughs out of pure hysteria.

And the dynamic between them doesn’t really change, that’s what surprises Charles the most. They talk about the same things and joke in the same way and mock each other exactly as before. And that’s it, isn’t it? They’ve really been flirting all along.

The biggest difference he notices, besides his nerves taking control of his stomach every time Erik looks at him (and that’s extremely often), it’s Erik’s gaze. He looks more relaxed. Where he was all ‘badassery’ and cool attitude, he feels warmer now. More real. Charles likes this change.

It’s two in the morning when they’re waiting for taxis to take them back to their respective places. They’re pissed drunk, and Charles is mostly leaning onto Erik’s side. He’s not sure, but he thinks Erik has a hand at his lower back. Pity he can’t really say under his thick jacket. Sure it’s already the end of May, but it’s still cold as balls outside.

“I live close to Union Chapel” he says. Erik looks down at him. He’s way taller than Charles. It’s nice, he thinks, in case he has to rest his head somewhere, the other’s shoulder is right there, at the perfect height.

“And I’m supposed to know where that is? I’m not from here” Charles laughs. Erik laughs too. “I am staying at the Mandarin Oriental at Hyde Park”

“Woah, you’re bloody rich” he whistles.

“I’m a rock star, baby” Erik winks. Charles buries his head on the other’s perfect-height shoulder and laughs “Ah, here comes a taxi” Erik steps forward, hand raised, and stops the taxi. He opens the door and steps aside “You take the first one”

“What, nooo, I don’t want to leave you here alone? You’re drunk”

“So are you” Erik answers.

“Let’s share?” and somehow he thinks it doesn’t make sense, because his place is in the opposite direction from Hyde Park.

“Okay” but Erik agrees and they both step into the taxi and that’s that.

He hears Erik talking to the taxi driver and asking him something, but he’s resting on Erik’s shoulder and he couldn’t care less about anything else besides how comfortable he is, and how nicely Erik smells.

Next thing he knows, it’s past noon, he’s not in his room, not in his bed, and a shirtless Erik is soundly asleep next to him.


Erik is more than used to waking up in beds he cannot recognize. One day in this city, next in a new one, so he’s not really surprised when he cannot recognize his surroundings once he opens his eyes.

He is surprised, though, when he hears the television turned on right on the next room. Did he leave it on? And then it slowly comes to him.

He travelled yesterday to London, right after their last concert of the tour finished back in Canada, and went straight for Charles’ concert. They went drinking and somehow Charles had fallen asleep on his shoulder inside a taxi, so he decided to bring them both to his hotel suite, not knowing exactly where Charles lives and…

Where is Charles? Didn’t he put him in bed next to him?

He rises from bed, noticing he’s clad only in his boxers, throws a t-shirt on and walks towards the TV noise. Charles is sitting there at the couch, a mug of something on his hand, hair in every possible direction, legs crossed Indian style over the couch, a cushion on his lap. His eyes are half closed and his mouth is half pouting and he is the perfect picture to describe the word adorable.

“Slept well?” Erik asks and sees Charles jumping up in surprise, holding the mug now with two hands stopping it from spilling.

“Oh. Good morning. Yes I did?” Charles bites his lip and Erik decides he better gets a coffee himself “Water is still warm, I just woke up too” the conductor adds when he sees Erik walking towards the kettle.

“Perfect, thanks”

“So... why am I here?” Charles chuckles nervously.

“Fell asleep in the taxi, and I don’t know where you live. Thought it would be simpler to bring you here” He puts the instant coffee into the mug and adds the boiling water “Felt bad putting you to sleep on the couch, and I didn’t feel like sleeping on it either so, yeah, we shared the bed. Hope you don’t mind”

“Oh no, no, it’s fine. Thank you” Erik walks towards the couch and sits next to Charles. The TV is playing the midday news but he knows none of them is watching. After a couple of minutes of awkward silence, Erik decides to break it.

“Any plans today?” Charles looks up at him, wide azure eyes that Erik is sure can steal his soul, and shakes his head “Want to play tour guide for me? I’ve been in London a few times, but I’ve barely had time to visit properly” Charles smiles softly up to him.

“I would love to” and Erik is falling so, so deep “Let me just go home first and grab some clean clothes?”

They both go to Charles’ home, where he offers him something to drink while he showers and changes. Charles’ place is nice, typically ‘British’ on the outside; private entrance, red bricks, white windows, dark roof. There’s a narrow hall with a staircase right at the entrance, where Charles disappears at, walking upstairs. The walls are white and the floor is clear wood. It’s a mix of modern and classical, and it’s quite neat.

The room where he waits is really homey, with a fireplace and huge bay windows, filled from wall to wall with shelves with hundreds of books of all types: fantastic literature, history books, biographies of musicians, scorebooks, comic books, cook books. There’s also an old baby grand piano tucked in a corner with papers and pens all over it, and a couple of violin cases and music stands behind it against the wall, and this is such a beautiful home.

It suits Charles perfectly.

Charles walks downstairs, dressed in a dark grey v-neck sweater, slim-fit indigo jeans and a couple of red sneakers, tousled hair and brilliant smile; Erik feels like just staying here looking at him would be enough to make his time in London more than worth it. They leave to have a late lunch, since they haven’t eaten yet, and they talk like they’ve never talked face to face before (being sober, at least). It’s enlightening; Charles is pure energy, always gesticulating with his hands, his face alight in every expression he pulls out. And he pulls a lot of them, not shy about it in an almost comical way. He gapes, he frowns, he deadpans, he smirks. It’s so entertaining Erik almost forgets to answer sometimes.

He’s smart in such a vast variety of things, to the point that he makes Erik feel ignorant; but he’s also doing silly jokes and laughing about himself most of the time, and Erik thinks oh, what an adorable dork.

Then they mostly walk around the city, since Charles says it’s too late and many places will be closed soon and, basically, none of them is in the mood for visits. A stroll in the chilly weather is perfect. Once he assures Charles that he’ll be fine walking in public, he’s not that famous outside the rock circles, plus he would be surprised by the amount of people who don’t recognize him just because they don’t expect meeting him on the streets, Charles decides to go to the centre.

Riding the subway until Charing Cross, they walk around Trafalgar Square, with Charles pointing at every building and monument and giving a history and fun facts lesson about each of them that would give any tour guide a run for their money; then down Whitehall where they laugh at silly souvenirs on every other shop, until the Westminster Bridge, where they buy some coffees-to-go to warm them up at the cafe Nero right before said bridge, and simply lean against the baluster to admire the Big Ben tower and the gorgeous gothic Palace of Westminster. Sun is setting, there’s a soft and chilly spring wind. Charles’ hair is dancing around his face, and Erik finds himself barely looking at the palace. Actually he’s barely noticed anything from the city. His eyes on Charles only. His attention on Charles only.

“Charles” smiling eyes look up at him, a freckled hand rises to move some strands of hair out of them “I’m going to die if I don’t kiss you right now” because he can’t breathe anymore. He can’t. Red paints freckled cheeks, blue eyes search into his, and then a nod, a soft movement of the head leaning towards Erik, the azure disappearing behind lowering eyelids.

The softest lips he’s ever touched.


ch02-02f

He feels Charles’ free hand shyly touching his face, fingertips cold against his cheek, and his own free hand moves to the space where Charles’ neck meets his shoulder, and caresses. So warm, so soft. So perfect.
Charles’ lips are moist and he is leaving small kisses on Erik’s lips and if he doesn’t pull away now he’s sure he won’t be stopping ever.

Forehead resting on forehead, his thumb caressing Charles’ pulse on his neck, feeling it running erratic. Big bright eyes looking up at him, smiling, in wonder.

“That was nice” Charles whispers “You’re such a gentleman”

“Yes, I’m the disgrace of all the rockers” Charles chuckles.

“No, you’re still a bad boy, don’t worry”

They stay there, talking for who knows how long, gazing into each other, caressing faces, hands, entwining fingers. When they finally move and walk away, they’re holding hands.

Erik goes with Charles back to his place, but he knows nothing is going to happen. He’s beyond exhausted, jet lag kicking in hard, and he’s mostly leaning his body into Charles who, shorter as he is, seems to have an impressive build. Charles offers him to stay and have a tea, but Erik says he better go back to the hotel. He’s going back to Germany tomorrow morning, after all, and Charles’ face falls at that.

“I thought…” he starts, and Erik silences him with a short kiss.

“I’ll just be gone a couple of days. I need to grab some stuff, if I want to stay here for a longer while” the way Charles’ face alights at that... Erik promises himself to always bring good news so he can watch that wonder happening again and again.

So with some goodbye kisses at Charles’ door (thousands, and yet not enough), Erik gets into a taxi and goes back to his hotel.

Lying on the bed, more asleep than not already, he can’t stop thinking about Charles. His eyes, his smile, his hands, his freckles, his voice. And he knows, he knows this is bigger than ever before. He knows, deep down, that this is probably the real deal everyone talks about. This is the one. Charles is the one.

Praying to never fuck this up, he falls asleep with a smile on his lips.


Erik is his boyfriend.

A lady sitting in front of him in the tube looks at him curiously, and he supposes he’s grinning like a maniac, but it’s unavoidable. Erik is texting him, they’ve been texting non-stop for days now, since the singer went back to Germany and couldn’t come back as soon as he wanted. They were being silly, playfully talking about nothings, when Erik has texted that word that has Charles’ toes curling in giddiness.

’No, Charles, come on. Make your boyfriend happy and try Led Zeppelin again.’

He hasn’t been able to answer back, not even after four minutes (the phone says so), because he’s just running that word, that concept in his head. Boyfriend. His boyfriend. As teenage-ey as that word sounds... Erik bloody Lehnsherr and himself are a couple. Officially. If he was on his own right now he’s sure he would be doing silly dances.

’Halo?’ Erik writes again.

’Sorry, head in the clouds. Well, since you’ve been a darling about it, I will listen to Led Zeppelin again. Aren’t I a good boyfriend?’ His face is going to break in two if his smile keeps growing like this.

’The best one’

He breathes deeply and covers his face with his free hand and prays he isn’t as red as he thinks he is, but the lady sitting in front of him has this sweet smile on her face now and he really feels like a silly teenager. It feels awesome.

’So when are you coming back?’ He writes back once he feels his heartbeat back to almost normal.

’Day after tomorrow. Mutti is making me help her with a few things, sorry’

’It’s fine. I’ll wait.’ Always. He doesn’t write that.

’I’m dying to see you, Charles. You can’t even imagine.’

He can. He really really can.

He feels elated. His last relationship wasn’t one he would like to remember, a snob who played violin and wanted to be in his orchestra so badly he got into his pants for it. To say he felt cheated and used once it was clear that the bastard’s only interest was the orchestra…

But this won’t be the case with Erik. The German can’t have any ulterior motives for dating Charles. They’re both so different. At least, he hopes so. He really wants it to work this time, Erik feels so right. And that brings another problem. A big one.

Raven.

How to tell your sister you’re currently dating her idol obsession? Charles has no idea. But he has to find a way, this is not something he wants to hide from Raven anymore. She doesn’t deserve it. So, breathing deeply, he walks out of the subway once he reaches Leicester Square, and walks towards Raven’s flat at Poland Street.

“Good to see you, Charles” Raven greets him once she opens the door, kissing his cheek and going for a soft hug “Come in”

“How did your trip go?” he takes off his thin bomber jacket, throws it over a chair and sits down at the white leather couch in the middle of the living room.

“Fantastic! I met the right people and that may open a few doors for future jobs” Raven answers with a smile, walking back from the kitchen with two beers in hand, offering one of the bottles to Charles, who grabs it and takes a sip immediately. He needs all the help. “And how’s everything around here?”

“Same old…” he takes another sip and watches Raven nod “well, not same old, actually…” Raven looks up at him, raising one perfect eyebrow in question.

“News in your life, Charles?”

“Yes... yes there are” and Erik’s image appears in his head, and he knows he is doomed.

“Oh my, you’re blushing!” Raven walks extra fast towards him and throws herself next to him on the couch “You’ve met someone!! Who is he??”

“I didn’t even admit…”

“Spare it, Charles, I’ve known you for twenty years, believe me, I know when you’ve met someone. So, are you two a thing?” she looks so excited, Charles feels like jumping off the window.

“Yes... we are” Raven squeals.

“Oh I’m so happy for you! Is he a musician? Wait, he’s not like the last one, is he??” she’s frowning now. Sweet Raven, always looking out for his heart.

“No, no, he’s not. He’s a musician but... he already has a job and it has nothing to do with mine” it’s a way of saying it.

“That’s awesome, Charles! What does he play? How is he? Do you have a picture??” and she looks so eager he feels like the biggest asshole in the world. He grabs her hand and looks at her.

“Raven…”

“Oh, what’s this, you’ve gone all seri... oh my god tell me it’s not Hank”

“What, NO! No, of course it’s not Hank!” He sees Raven sigh and really, he should start talking to Hank soon. But first things first “My boyfriend…” and even in this situation he feels the tingles that word produces in his toes “is someone you know. He’s... he’s a singer”

“... okay? I don’t know many singers”

“Raven. I’m dating Erik Lehnsherr”

There’s a couple of seconds of silence where Raven looks at his face and then she simply bursts out laughing. And it’s not a chuckle or something small and cute, no. She’s laughing like her life depends on it, practically wheezing.

“What the hell, Charles!! I almost believed you” and she keeps laughing.

“It’s the truth!”

“Of course it is, brother. You couldn’t find anyone more impossible to fool me with”

“But it’s... okay, here” he takes the phone out of his jeans’ front pocket, touches the screen a couple of times, and shoves it on Raven’s hands “Look at it”

He’s showing her the only picture they have together by now, a selfie taken from the Westminster Bridge with the Big Ben tower behind them. They took it short after their first kiss, and Charles is smiling and flushed, and Erik has this pleased countenance, warm smile and soft gaze looking at Charles.

Raven goes very still, her eyes like saucers looking to the picture.

“Are you kidding me…” she whispers, probably to herself.

“I’m sorry...”

“How the fuck…” she turns towards him, eyes so wide it would be comical if he didn’t feel like disappearing right now.

“Met him around the city after his concert back in February and he seemed to recognize me and... I don’t know. We talked. We started chatting by phone while he was on tour and... things happened once he came back” he’s blushing and he’s feeling a mix of joy and shame that it’s impossible to describe with the existing vocabulary.

“... the guy who’s been introducing you to rock bands”

“yes, that’s him”

“And you didn’t tell me. Why didn’t you... how... okay I think I need a few moments to myself” Raven just stands up and walks towards her room, but stops and turns before reaching it “actually, no, fuck you!”

“Raven…” Charles stands up slowly.

“No, fuck you! Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well, you’re such a big fan I thought you would be mad…” he can’t look into her eyes right now, she’s fuming.

“I’m a fan, I’m not in love with him! I would have... I don’t know, screamed and gone crazy or something, but I would have been fucking happy for you!” she walks towards him “but this way, learning about it this way, it feels like betrayal, Charles”

“Oh Raven, please, I’m sorry…”

“Do you have so little faith in me that you think I would have been mad?”

“It’s not that!” only yes, it’s exactly that. He’s a failure.

“Look, just... let’s skip this, and let me cool off, okay? I’m pissed now” Raven runs a hand through her long, blonde hair. Charles sighs.

“Okay. I’m... sorry, okay? This was way over my head, I didn’t think at all, or know what to do…” Raven says nothing, just looks at him. He grabs his phone, his jacket, and walks to the door “Call me when... well. Call me?” Raven nods. He nods and opens the door.

“Charles?” He turns, Raven is looking at him, seemingly more calm “I’m mad, sure, but. I’m happy for you” Charles smiles softly “We’ll talk later, okay?”

“Okay” and he walks away. Wandering around Soho, doing some clothes and book shopping and calling Erik to tell him Raven is mad with him, and he misses him. And Erik is wonderful, and cheers him up, and makes him smile, and promises to be there soon to hug him and kiss him and help him with Raven.

He’s in a much better mood once he reaches home that night, and has pleasant dreams of sweet voices and piercings and leather.

Chapter Text

“No really, she went literally hysterical” Erik says, sitting next to Charles inside the latter’s dark orange Audi Q3, after being picked up from Heathrow airport “One second she was my sweet mutti, asking me why I was coming back to London so soon, next she’s practically yodelling when I answered her that it was to spend time with you” Charles laughs.

“Your mother seems like a really funny lady” the British answers, eyes on the road.

“Oh, I hope you think she is, because now that she knows we’re together, she won’t stop pestering me until I introduce you both” and it’s true, his mother was always looking out for his happiness. She more than certainly will like to meet the guy who’s making her son so happy nowadays.

“I would love to meet her” Charles and his soft smiles. How much he has missed them.

Erik feels on top of the world. After helping his mother with some legal paperwork she needed to put in order to do some reforms in her farm near Munich, he’s finally back with Charles. It’s taken only a few days more than planned, but it felt like an eternity. It’s should be alarming how deep the conductor has placed himself inside Erik’s mind in such a short time, how big it already feels, but he’s always been an adventurer. If he likes something, he’ll go for it. No time for over-thinking.

Charles feels too damn right to waste time over-thinking anything.

“Here we are” Charles voice interrupts his deliberations, and he looks out of the window to see they are parked right across the W London Leicester Square hotel, at Wadour street. The hotel looks immense, frameless glazing covered in a million colourful lights dancing on its facade. “This looks extremely high class” he hears Charles whisper, and turns to find the other gazing up at the building with gigantic curious eyes. Erik chuckles.

“I am extremely high class, I wouldn’t accept anything less” Charles turns to him, lopsided grin on his lips, and Erik is so glad every time Charles proves that he understands his sense of humour, and more than follows it.

“Of course, your highness. Shall I carry your luggage, as the mere peasant that I am?” Erik laughs, leans forward and kisses those smiling lips softly.

“It’s fine, page boy. I will do it this time” he winks, Charles shakes his head in amusement. They get out of the car, get Erik’s stuff from the trunk and proceed into the lobby of the hotel for the check in.

He notices a couple of stares in his direction and is pretty sure he’s being recognized by more than one person. Sure his band is pretty alternative and mostly out of the mainstream, but they’ve also filled more than one sports stadium, worldwide, and he knows their name has been written in more than a few newspapers. He checks back on Charles, in case he’s feeling awkward by all those stares following Erik, but he finds the young conductor mesmerized, gazing at the whole lobby and its futuristic design, completely oblivious of anything else around him. Erik chuckles again.

They go up to the room, the one called WOW suite (Erik already hates the name, more when he saw Charles trying very hard not to laugh when the reception guy told the name of said suite with annoying overexcitement). Once inside, Erik can more than forget the ridiculous name. Place is spacious, top class. Modern furniture in blacks, whites and reds. It has a separate lounge space with what looks like a comfortable red couch, an immense television set and sound system, and huge floor to roof windows. He leaves the luggage there and checks the bedroom, separated from the lounge by a huge white shelf filled with decorative stuff that looks right out from a luxurious decor catalogue. The bed is massive and looks immensely comfortable, covered in golden sheets and white fluffy pillows. Charles is low whistling outside at the lounge, seemingly impressed, and it somehow makes Erik swallow nervously. There’s a huge, comfortable bed in front of him, and the most handsome, adorable, and yes, sexy man he’s ever met a few steps away from him.

To say temptation is overwhelming is the understatement of his life.

“Check the views, Erik” and Erik goes towards the lounge, leaving the bed behind, trying to ignore its calling. Too soon? They’ve barely been together, face to face, a few scattered days. Charles is not like anyone he’s been with before. This is for the long run, Erik, this is the real deal. It’s okay not to rush this time.

He finds Charles in front of the immense panel windows, hands glued to the steel frames, looking into the night outside. The city lights playing over his freckled skin, his eyes shimmering with them. Walking up to him, a hand resting between Charles’ shoulder blades, he looks outside too. He can see the whole of Leicester Square, Piccadilly and part of the Soho rooftops. The view is pretty impressive from this high, and he can understand now the name of the suite, and the awe in Charles’ voice.

“You know, this place is too state-of-the-art for me, but I wouldn’t mind living here if only for this view” Charles says, voice low. Erik looks at him.

“Too state-of-the-art? Charles, don’t make your sister right, don’t act like an octogenarian, please” Charles punches his shoulder; he laughs.

“I’m a classic man with classic tastes, and proud of it” and that’s probably it, Erik thinks. That’s why Charles is so attractive: proud of who he is, comfortable in his own skin, and seems not to be ashamed or shy of showing it at the world. He leans down, nose pressed against Charles’ cheek, breathing the other’s citrusy scent “Erik?” Charles voice is so close, his warmth is so close, his smell, his everything.

“I’m so glad to be back” is what Erik says, because he’s not sure what he really wants to say. It’s too big. Too fast. He feels Charles’ hand on the small of his back, warm, strong.

“I’m glad you’re back too”

Erik’s hands on Charles’ face, Charles arms around his shoulders, and they kiss and kiss like they haven’t done yet. He’s caressing Charles’ soft skin and his thick, silky hair, and this must be what so many bands talk about in those mushy songs, this bliss. Charles lips are warmer than he remembered, smoother. It’s careful, it’s exploring. He’s never kissed anyone like this, so raw, so open. Charles is sighing and the warm breath feels wonderful against his face, and he doesn’t want to stop this, ever. He wants to kiss Charles for the rest of his life. He wants to wake up kissing Charles, and he wants to fall asleep with Charles’ lips attached to his. He wants to breathe through Charles’ lips. Forever. It’s scary how certain he is about it, but then again, it’s not scary at all.

A soft noise brings him back from his reverie and it takes a second to process it and, fuck, was that Charles moaning?

It’s just impossible to control it, after that. There’s a desire so intense running right under his skin he doesn’t think he’s ever felt before. An itch that needs to be scratched right now. He wants Charles, he needs him. He wants to explore him, to conquer all the planes and caves of his skin.

Before he can stop himself, he has the younger man flushed against him and the window panel, hands on his jaw, thumbs caressing the other’s cheekbones, a thigh between the conductor’s ones, and he is pushing, pushing, trying to melt into the other, trying to combine them, to become one. He doesn’t even think what he’s doing, he just knows he wants more, he needs more.

“Erik…” he hears Charles gasp, so he moves his kisses down the other’s face to let him breathe, following the jaw line, the earlobes, the neck. “Erik, I think... we should... stop?” stop? No way. Why stopping now? This feels wonderful, this is addictive, and Erik loves this rush, this feeling “Erik, just one second…” he feels one of Charles’ hands pushing softly at his shoulder and that’s when control comes back to him. He breathes deeply, calming himself, moves his thigh away from Charles’ groin, rests his forehead against the other’s.

“Sorry, got carried away” he manages to whisper. His voice sounds extremely hoarse. Charles chuckles, breathless.

“You and me both, my friend” Charles whispers back “but... don’t think me a prude, but I think... I don’t know” he shrugs, but Erik knows, Erik understands.

“Hey, it’s not a problem at all. We have all the time in the world” Charles looks up at him, azure wells of wonder “we’re here for the long run after all, aren’t we?” he knows he’s going to be writing whole albums to the way Charles’ face brightens when he smiles.

“Yes, we are”

It’s so surreal, it really is. Erik Lehnsherr, the rebel, the bad boy, the so called ‘enfant terrible’, acting like this. Wanting to go slowly, wanting to cherish a feeling, a relationship. A man. He shakes his head, chuckling at himself.

The rest of the evening is way calmer (at least when he manages to ignore the arousal he feels everytime he remembers the feel of Charles’ warm body against his). They eat dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, in a secluded corner where he can avoid being recognized, laughing at Charles’ silly jokes (often more dirty than not), and secretly marvelling at the way he scrunches his nose when there’s something he doesn’t like, or something he doesn’t understand. Trying to calm his heart when he’s gifted with one of those brilliant white smiles between the reddest of lips, or when he notices the whole of Charles’ attention is only for him.

How can he entertain such an interesting man is beyond himself, but he’s glad he has whatever it is that keeps Charles attention on him.

They say their goodbyes in an empty part of the lobby, promises in between kisses to meet again the next day, early in the morning, with no other plans beyond spending time together, learning more about each other. He wants to tell Charles to stay, oh how he wants it, but for whatever reason Charles wasn’t on the mood today, and he respects it. He wants to prove that he can be patient when it matters. And he knows it matters this time, and the reward will be well worth the wait.

Alone in his enormous bed, hands behind his head, he wonders how he came to this, how is this his life now. And how is it that he’s never looked forward to anything more than this?

Oh how the world would be disappointed. He’s such a sap.


It’s pouring, and he forgot his umbrella. How could he forget his umbrella when the sky was dark and threatening right when he was leaving home? He’s the shame of all the Britons.

“Can I walk you to the station?” Ororo is saying, next to him, majestic and tall like royalty. He always thought she must be a queen from some small country somewhere. She’s too regal not to be.

“It’s fine, dear, I’ll wait until it stops?” and he knows that’s stupid. It’s pouring. Newscasters told it would be raining stair-rods the whole evening.

“Or I can walk you to the station” he turns towards the familiar voice that just joined the conversation, smile already on his lips.

“Erik! What are you doing here?” Erik is walking up to them, shaking the wet umbrella to rid it from the excess of water, smiling that showing-all-teeth grin that he adores.

“You told me you had rehearsal this noon, but I was bored and I thought hey, let’s go pick him up. And here I am” Erik shrugs, stops right in front of him and keeps smiling like there’s no one else in the world worth smiling for. It makes Charles feel pretty good.

“Friend of yours?” Ororo tilts her head while asking and yes, she’s still there, and yes, it’s rude to forget her entire presence. It can’t be healthy how Erik distracts him this much.

“Yes, Ororo, this is Erik. Erik, this is Ororo, best first violin you’ll ever find in the whole of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth” Ororo laughs softly at him, murmuring something like ‘oh Charles’, and shakes Erik’s hand.

“Nice to meet you” Erik says, but Ororo just nods, a sparkle of something like recognition in her gaze, and looks back at Charles, a raised eyebrow, questioning.

“Same... We’ll talk later, Charles. Take care, you both” and with that, she waves and walks as majestically as she always does, as if the floor and the air were created just for her to move on it. Charles sighs.

“Should I be jealous?” Erik asks.

“Huh?”

“You look at her as if she was a goddess you worship” and it’s said in a joking way, but there’s a hint of truth in it, and Charles just bursts out laughing. The astonishing Erik Lehnsherr, jealous?

“She’s quite majestic, you can’t deny it. But worry not, I was never attracted to women, and now less than ever” he smirks up at Erik, who smiles back at him.

“There was a hidden compliment there, was there not?”

“There definitely was one” and with that he tiptoes up to Erik, and kisses his lips. “Hello” Erik chuckles.

“Hi. Wanna go somewhere fun?” they walk up to the glass doors of the building. Charles looks up at the sky.

“In this weather?”

“Come on, be adventurous. It’s only water” Erik bumps their shoulders together.

“Tell me that later, when I’m running a fever”

“Oh, you delicate creature” Erik kisses his forehead. Charles feels like Erik uses any excuse to kiss any available part of him. Not like he’s going to complain about it.

Before he can say anything else Erik is grabbing his hand, pulling him outside while opening the umbrella, and they’re both running. Charles has no idea where they are going, but he knows certainly that he’s going to follow that hand holding his anywhere.

He also knows that Erik is more bonkers than he thought, since he’s made them both run to Charles’ place under the rain. It’s not like it’s incredibly far, but he’s soaked to the bone when they arrive, his clothes glued to his skin after running for around twenty minutes under this downpour. His hands are shaking while searching for the keys in his messenger bag, but he’s never laughed like this, trying to avoid big puddles just to have Erik push him right into them, or hearing Erik howl like a wild wolf, laughing and running and. No. He’s never felt so carefree. So even if he’s trembling from the cold and he is sure he’s going to have a monumental cold tomorrow, he’s smiling from ear to ear.

They get inside finally, throwing their soaked jackets to the floor, still laughing. Erik’s hands are on him and he starts unbuttoning Charles blue shirt, and Charles starts pulling Erik’s t-shirt up. They aren’t talking, just smiling, trying to catch their breaths, shaking, kissing. Before he knows it, they’re both topless, still trying to just breathe.

Charles looks slowly at that bare torso. Erik is a work of art.

He’s really thin, but there’s not a centimetre that isn’t fit and muscled. He’s firm, his arms are strong, his pectorals are strong, his abs are strong. His neck is well defined and long and his collarbones are prominent. He’s all angles and planes and elegant long lines, like a well designed sports car, and he doesn’t even try to stop his hand from running over that chest, smooth, hard, like a marble sculpture. Erik’s skin is glowing with rain drops, pale but not so much as his, small and perky nipples… his chest is rising fast with his short breathing, and Charles feels like he is never going to breathe properly again.

“You’re gorgeous” he hears Erik say, and somehow he laughs. He is gorgeous? Hasn’t Erik seen himself in the mirror? “Yes, I’ve seen myself, but I’m seeing you now, and you are gorgeous” oh, he’s said it out loud... well. Why stopping then.

“Shut up, you have no idea what you do to me” like, for example, the shameful amount of times he’s wanked off to the memory of Erik’s body pushing him against the window, kissing his jaw line.

“Don’t I? Why don’t you tell me then?” and Erik’s hands are on his waist, direct skin to skin contact like an electric shock.

“You take my breath away. You leave me speechless” he kisses Erik’s collarbone, feels the other inhale sharply “You make me feel special, you make me feel alive”

“You are special” Erik answers, running his long, bony fingers over Charles’ abdomen.

“You are stunning, Erik... and so unique, and funny, and...so good to me. I’m so glad, so happy you’re here” he looks up at Erik, who is looking down at him, long fingered hands now framing his face, caressing his cheeks reverently.

“Be careful, Charles. You keep talking like this, I’m never leaving you”

“Good. You’ve got a deal”

Next thing he knows, Erik’s mouth is mapping his neck, his shoulders, his chest. And he is clutching Erik like his life depends on it. Probably it does, he can’t be sure anymore. It’s nothing like the other day, when he was caught unprepared, and somehow chickened out, scared of not being enough, scared of consequences. No. Not this time.

And then they’re walking upstairs, losing the rest of their wet clothes on the way, and he can’t breathe. Erik is everywhere, all around; his scent is surrounding him, his skin enveloping him, his kisses burning. The bed is soon under his back, and Erik is hovering over him, looking into his eyes like he feels he’s never been looked at before and he has to wonder, has he, really? Has he ever been seen like this before, noticed like this? He feels like Erik is the first person to ever look at him and see him, his real self, without layers.

There are no words exchanged. There’s no need. Their bodies are talking for themselves, and it’s not perfect, but it’s perfect all the same. Erik is warm and cautious, he touches Charles as if scared Charles will vanish, but at the same time he’s holding onto him with a strong grip, fingers dancing over his whole skin, grabbing Charles’ thighs after they’ve already lost their breaths, and raising them up, up, over his shoulders.

“Charles, do you have…” Erik’s voice is hoarse, breathy. His skin is flushed, his hair is messy and he’s a mix of sweaty and still wet from the rain. He’s never looked sexier.

“First drawer, here” he extends his arm, opens the drawer at the nightstand and grabs the lube tube and a pair of condoms; throws them towards Erik. There’s a wet noise, and he closes his eyes and licks his lips because he knows what’s coming next. And oh, those fingers, those long bony fingers feeling better than anything Charles has ever felt before.

And it feels like an eternity later when Charles is holding onto Erik’s shoulders for grounding, because he’s flying away. Erik is biting his jaw line, symphonies playing in all of his sighs, his moans. He moves like a dancer, hips so narrow but so powerful in rhythm with Charles’ breaths. Charles crosses his ankles behind Erik’s back and his arms around the other’s shoulders, and he doesn’t want to leave the bed ever again, he doesn’t want to do anything else than feel Erik moving inside him, against him, hearing his breathy, shaky groans. It’s like he’s captured a wild spirit, a beast, and he’s being privileged with his care. Yes, privileged is the word. It’s exactly how he feels.

“Charles, oh Charles”

What has he done to deserve his name spoken like that? As if in worship. Oh, how he wants to worship Erik back, his body, his skin, his eyes, his lips, his voice. His mind. So he does. He speaks his name again and again, in reverence, in pleasure, in worship. In love.

He reaches his orgasm with Erik’s teeth biting his shoulder, one of his long hands holding his thigh firmly in place, the other on his cock, still moving, his own hands holding on Erik’s biceps for dear life. Erik doesn’t take long in following him, the sexiest groan Charles’ has ever heard sighed into his ear, and if he wasn’t so spent he knows that sound would have been enough to push him over the edge again.

They are silent for a long while, and that something unpleasant from the other day sparks inside his stomach. Lots of what ifs start clouding his mind. What if this is the only thing Erik wanted and now that he got it he’ll leave? They haven’t been together for that long or spent that much time physically together yet, so he can’t be sure... What if he wasn’t good enough? What if he has shown some of these feelings he doesn’t even understand yet, and Erik will run away from them, not wanting to complicate things?

Mein Gott…” Erik whispers, breaking his brooding. He turns to look at the other who has moved and now is lying on his side, facing Charles with eyes closed, mouth slightly open trying to even his breathing.

“No need to call me that, Charles is fine” Erik opens his eyes, looks right into Charles’ and then he’s laughing. He’s laughing out loud, breathless, and moving forward, and embracing Charles. Calling him silly, kissing his hair. Charles is glad that his stupid joke helped himself from breaking out of his small panic attack. “That was amazing” Because it was. He’s pretty sure no one has ever given him that amount of pleasure on their first time together.

“Yeah. You are amazing” Erik kisses his lips, gently “Damn you, you’ve spoiled me forever”

“Good” he smiles as cheekily as he can. Erik smiles back.

“Fuck, I adore you”

And he can’t answer because there’s a sudden knot in his throat. Erik is kissing him, and he can’t answer. He’s never been adored. He’s never been treated like this.

What is Erik Lehnsherr doing to him? And please, please, make him never stop doing it.


The sound of a piano melody wakes him up.

He wasn’t aware of falling asleep, but obviously he did for a while. Of course he did. He was relaxed and warm and sated, Charles warmth a constant all around him, the conductor’s hands running slowly up and down his arms in what was almost a ticklish caress. Impossible not to fall asleep when he was feeling safe and cared for. Loved.

Because he did feel loved, like he’s never done before. It’s too soon and too fast to go asking for confirmation or analyzing it too deeply, but he knows this is beyond a mere attraction and beyond anything he has felt before. He suspected it for a while, he’s sure know. He’s falling deep for Charles. Having sex together has only confirmed it.

Moving out of bed, stretching until his spine pops in the most delicious of ways, he searches for his clothes and doesn’t find them anywhere. He decides to wrap the blanket that’s half thrown on the floor around his waist and walks downstairs, revelling in the delicious soreness of his muscles, following the soothing piano melody. He finds Charles sitting in front of said piano, clad in only grey boxer shorts, eyes closed, hair in disarray, hands dancing over the keys.

Erik’s breath gets caught in his throat.

Leaning against the doorframe, he takes his time watching the other. The scene looks surreal, piano melody mixing with the rain still splashing against the bay windows. The melody is serene, clear and almost simple. Beautiful. It feels a little melancholic, but in a good way that’s difficult to explain. It kind of harmonizes with what his heart is feeling, like giving a voice to his feelings. He sighs, and hopes that’s exactly what it is: Charles giving voice to his feelings. Nothing would be better than both of them feeling the same right now. Charles doesn’t open his eyes, but there’s a soft smile at the corners of his lips. Relaxed and content. He looks ethereal under the soft orange light of the corner lamp, the only one turned on, Erik notices. He doesn’t know what he did to deserve Charles, he probably doesn’t deserve him at all, but he’s sure he’s going to do whatever he can to keep the other.

Oh, this is really serious, isn’t it? He nods to himself. Of course it is, time to accept it.

Once his mind isn’t that overwhelmed at seeing Charles right after their first time together, he notices how well Charles is actually playing the piano. He barely knows anything about classical music, but he knows a lot about music in general and musicians and instruments and Charles is playing amazingly well. Sighing, he smiles. Charles opens his eyes, looks at him startled, and stops playing.

“Erik” he then smiles gently, and there’s no force on earth that can stop Erik from walking right up to him, leaning down, kissing those smiling lips “did I wake you up?” Charles says against his lips.

“It’s good that you did. What a waste of time, falling asleep” Charles chuckles, moves a little to one side and Erik sits next to him at the piano stool, kissing his naked shoulder “I didn’t know you played the piano”

“I never told you” Charles smiles, looking down at the piano, fingers moving over the keys without pressing them.

“Tell me now, then?” another kiss to the same naked shoulder. Erik knows he’s never going to stop kissing any part of Charles available for him. Charles looks up at him with sudden seriousness. Erik swallows nervously at the mood change.

“Erik, I play the piano” Charles says forebodingly, and then laughs again. Erik chuckles and pushes him a little.

“Smartass”

“There’s really not much to tell? I learnt piano when I was a kid, five or so, and kept playing it. There’s no big story here…”

“I’m no classical expert, as you know, but I think you’re quite good?” Charles blushes slightly, and it’s gorgeous.

“I suppose I am…”

“Okay, I know you enough by now to tell you’re being modest. So what, are you like a musical genius or something?” Charles blushes deeper now, looks at the piano keys, and Erik gapes at him “Scheiße, you are, aren’t you? Of course you are. You’re only twenty-six and already the appointed conductor of an orchestra”

“It’s a small orchestra…” Charles is fluorescent by now, it’s adorable.

“So you’re a musical prodigy…” Charles starts to protest but Erik stops him with a hand covering the other’s mouth “shut up, you are. Do you play anything else?” he points towards the piano with the hand that was just covering the other’s lips.

“Well. I play violin too…” Erik groans. Charles chuckles “What?”

“So here I am, big international rock star, right? I think I’m the shit and all, the ultimate musician, with controversial lyrics and, and... and then you come and you play piano, and violin, and conduct an orchestra and you’re younger than me”

“Two years only!” Charles laughs incredulously.

“You’re two years younger than me, and you’re a genius and…” Erik looks at Charles, who’s blushing and smiling and there’s awe lighting up those magnificent eyes “I don’t know why you’re here with me, what you saw in this angry piece of crap of a singer, but I’m so glad you saw it…” Charles bits his lower lip, shaking his head.

“I should be the one saying that, you blockhead…”

“You idiot”

The kiss is shorter than he would have liked, since they’re interrupted by a very screeching and undignified yell of ‘Holy shit’. He turns and sees who he recognizes as Charles’ sister turning away from them, blonde hair flying out of view behind the door, and hears Charles calling her name while he stands up to go after her, and thinks well shit. Time for family drama.

But there’s no drama at all in the end, thankfully. Raven ends up being a very understandable lady, who’s more centred in having her idol practically naked in front of her than anything else. Charles spends the whole time trying to grab her attention, but she continues ogling Erik at every chance she’s got, checking his bare chest up and down slowly, and smiling in what could be called an innocent way if he didn’t know better. Erik smiles back at her. He’s never been shy of his body, and he’s not completely naked after all. Plus, it’s extremely funny to see Charles all flustered trying to make his sister stop ogling him. It’s pretty flattering (and arousing) to see the other being quasi possessive over him, even if it’s in a calm way towards his own sister.

“Charles, really, it’s fine” Raven says “it was just shocking to come here and find my ultimate idol naked and eating up your mouth” the girl waves her eyebrows, Charles blushes deeply and stutters. Erik already likes this girl “I had time to come to terms about you both, so really. It’s fine” she smiles and Charles smiles back, sighing, and somehow Erik is glad to have avoided what could have been a pretty awkward situation.

“Well, I should get dressed then. You said my clothes are already dry, Charles?” Erik asks, standing up. Raven’s eyes are instantly back on him.

“Why bother? No one is complaining here” Erik laughs at Raven’s lecherous smile, and Charles jumps to his feet and pushes Erik in the direction of the stairs, yelling at Raven that they’ll be right back.

“Your sister is funny” it’s what he says once they’re inside the bedroom.

“Yes and you’re mine, so clothes now, please”

There are no words to describe the warmth spreading inside him at hearing those words. Yes, yes he’s Charles’. Unreservedly.


They end up having some pints at the pub down the street, where the waiter already knows Charles by name and serves their preferred pints without waiting for them to ask. Raven is back to her usual loud, carefree self, no shadow left of the sullen sister he saw last time at her apartment, and he’s extremely glad about it. It was horrible to feel like he had betrayed her.

They talk about Raven’s work and Erik mentions the need of new portraits for the band’s official website, and that if he likes her work he could move some strings so she could maybe get the job. Raven is beyond herself. Charles is, too, seeing how they’re both getting along quite well. There’s still that star-struck gaze in Raven’s eyes, but he supposes it’s normal. He’s heard her babble about Erik’s band for years, he knows it’s not something she’s going to get used to easily.

Dinner sees them both alone, since Raven had plans already, and she couldn’t cancel them, as disappointed as she was about it. They end up having some Fish and chips at the Hope and Anchor down Upper Street, since Erik said he never had it before in his preview visits to London, washing it down with some strong ale pints.

Under the insistence of the rocker, they end up at a music venue called The Garage, pretty close to Charles’ place, where a local punk band is currently playing. The noise is overwhelming and there’s barely enough room to breathe, the place filled from wall to wall with youngsters dressed in leather and plaid and ripped t-shirts, sporting mohawks and piercings and every other cliché you can find about British punk condensed in this small place. He feels Erik vibrating next to him, gaze fixed on the stage over the heads of the crowd around them, as if analyzing the band. Probably that’s exactly what he is doing; this is his scene after all.

A young lad who’s head-banging following the music beat loses his feet and crashes against Charles, who proceeds to crash into Erik, who simply smiles down at him, throws an arm around his shoulders, and continues watching the stage like an eagle studying its future prey. Erik looks intense, his feet tapping the floor to the rhythm of the drums, his eyes narrowed studying every detail, every movement the band does, every note the singer yells. Because that is yelling, no matter what Charles has learnt over the past months about rock and the likes thanks to Erik. And that music can barely be called music; the guitar is doing a variation of barely four chords without any sense in the order in which they are played, the drums are chaotic, like a kid thumping randomly on kitchen pots, the bass can barely be heard but what he can hear he thinks it’s totally out of tune.

It’s dizzying, and not in a good way.

It’s warm, and claustrophobic, and it smells like too much humanity concentrated in a too small place, and alcohol, and puke, and sweat, and it’s way too noisy. And he hates it, really does. But he says nothing.

This is Erik’s world, isn’t it? Erik wanted to come here, probably to check the local scene. Who knows, maybe he even started in a place like this, with a crowd more passionate about getting drunk and high than to listen to his music. Maybe he’s having good memories about it. And he shouldn’t complain, he can endure this, he’s an adult after all for goodness’ sake, he needs to endure this, he needs to be able to stay at Erik’s side, to share his world, to be able to follow the rocker step by step, side by side. This is his training and this is his test. He needs to endure this no matter what. He needs to be worthy.

But he can’t. He can’t. He’s getting dizzy, he’s even feeling nauseous. He is weak, damn it all.

“Erik?” he tries to yell but he feels like he’s going to be sick if he does.

“Yes?” the taller man turns towards him, and he supposes there’s something wrong with his face, because Erik frowns and grabs his arm firmly and walks him out of the place without another word, pushing everyone else out of their way without mercy, opening a path for him to follow “Are you okay?” he asks once they’re outside.

“Yes, yes, there was no need to leave…” but he’s really glad they did. The night summer breeze is fresh and nice. He feels like he hasn’t properly breathed in ages.

“Of course there was! You were too pale. You still are, actually, are you sure you’re okay?” Erik is looking closely at him, leaning over him.

“I am, really, it was just scorching hot inside there. Sorry for cutting the fun short? We can go back in in a minute” he says because damn him if he’s going to spoil the fun for Erik or show him he can’t deal with his world.

“Fun? Charles, are you deaf? That’s probably the worst band I’ve ever fucking heard” Erik chuckles.

“Oh? I thought you were having fun…”

“I was, because I’m a despicable human being and I rejoice in other’s failures. Schadenfreude is my way of life” Erik smirks “but really, I was going to tell you to get out of there already, so no harm done”

“Oh thank lord, because I thought that was rubbish and I was afraid all your efforts to educate me in the world of rock were in vain” Erik snorts.

“Charles, you’re far from being educated in rock. My job isn’t done yet” he winks, and Charles slaps his stomach, making Erik grunt and laugh “Shall we go?”

“Please”

Erik stays at his place that night. They do nothing more than chat and kiss and laugh and drink Fuller’s London Porter while listening on their phones to what Erik deems ‘the big classics’: The Beatles’ Tomorrow never Knows (it was revolutionary for their time, Charles!), Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven, Deep Purple’s Child in time, Pink Floyd’s Wish you were here, and dozen others, all of them presented with facts, narrated by Erik himself, about the songs, the music, the composition, the meaning; most of them, also, sang by Erik himself in harmony over the original song (and it’s kind of surprising to learn Erik grew up listening to this kind of sad, painful rock songs, when he’s such a strong individual, such a fighter); then they just lay together in bed, side by side, fingers caressing skin, and looking into each other’s eyes, whispering nothings, until they fall asleep. It’s so corny it’s almost shameful. Charles never thought he would be living something like this, less after his last experience in ‘romantic’ affairs. He never thought he would catch the eye of someone like Erik, strong and independent. Well, he never thought someone like Erik could be so sweet, so obliging.

He never thought he could fall like this. So easy. So simple. So fast.


He was sure it would be impossible to feel as wonderful as he felt waking up in Charles’ bed after having sex together for the first time the last afternoon, but he was wrong. It feels much better to wake up in the morning with Charles wrapped all around him, head lying on his shoulder, warm and heavy with sleep, his breathing tickling his neck. He kisses the mop of hair closer to his lips, and Charles stirs awake.

“Morning” he’s not sure if it’s been a greeting or a question, the way Charles mumbled it, so he answers by chuckling “what time is it?”

“No idea, my phone is lost somewhere downstairs” Charles groans and stretches languidly and returns to his previous position, holding Erik tighter. Erik caresses Charles’ naked back “Do you have anywhere to be today?” Unfocused sleepy eyes look up at him, and he feels his heart beating out of his chest. Damn it all with the Disney feels, he can’t be this sappy, it can’t be healthy.

“Nope, Sunday, free day” Charles smiles tiredly up at him, then rests his head back onto Erik’s chest.

“Good”

They stay like that for a while: Erik caressing Charles back and hair to his heart’s contempt, Charles running his fingertips all over Erik’s arms, drawing patterns only he seems to recognize. After a while Erik notices Charles is tracing the lines of his tattoos. That’s something that would have normally bothered him, but seemingly, not now. Another ‘only Charles’ thing to add to the list.

“What does this mean?” Charles voice breaks the silence. Erik looks down, Charles is tracing the Alles ist Gut tattoo on his forearm “I mean, I can deduce what it means, since it’s similar to English, right? But you understand what I mean, I hope”

ch03-a

“Yes” He swallows. He doesn’t talk about his tattoos. He’s been asked again and again in magazines and a couple of YouTube interviews, and never answered beyond ‘they only mean something to me’. His private life is no one’s business after all, and he’s always been clear about that. But here is Charles, tracing the letters carefully, his breath warm on his collarbones, his heartbeat steadily beating against his arm. He is Charles, the one who has already tumbled his world upside down and made him do things he never thought he would do. Why should he stop doing that now? “This one means ‘all is well’, as in everything is fine. My mother told me those words in one of my darkest moments. But this is not the correct order, here” he sits up, carefully pushing Charles away who sits up with him, curiosity sparkling inside those azure eyes.

He takes a deep breath. This is the reason why he doesn’t do relationships. He needs no one judging his life nor his choices, he doesn’t care for their opinions. Yet, Charles… Everything can go to hell after this, and yet he feels like he owes this to the conductor. No lies, not to him, not even by omission.

“This one came first” he shakes his right shoulder lightly, where the huge tattoo of a broken wing starts on his shoulder blade and continues all the way down to his elbow, enveloping his bicep “I did this one when I was kicked out of home”

“What?” Charles whispers, moving to sit closer, glued to Erik’s side now.

“Yeah. My father was pretty old school, a farmer in the outskirts of Munich, with horses and cows and you get the idea. I grew up in a pretty religious, closed minded place. I questioned everything since I was young just like I do now; consequently I had problems at school, at high school, everywhere. I did things I’m not proud of now…” He stares at Charles, who is frowning and looking at him with what looks like concern, and that somehow helps him continue “drugs, mostly. Got involved with the wrong people in bad gangs and…” he chuckles self-deprecatingly “I hope this doesn’t push you away from me, seriously”

“In no way” such certainty in his voice, Erik looks down to find two beacons of blue understanding looking up at him. Erik sighs.

“In resume, I was kicked out of home when my father decided I had been arrested one too many times, and I did this tattoo out of spite. My father hated tattoos, so I made the biggest one I could pay for. I think I was fifteen? Had to ask some shady people to tattoo me without an adult permission and all”

“Why a broken wing?” Charles asks, his hand caressing the immense tattoo with such care it almost makes Erik weep.

“Because even I knew I was too broken to fly”

“Erik…”

“It’s fine, it’s fine. Those times have passed” even if they are still extremely present in most of his lyrics “Then came this one, a few years later, right after my father died. He never forgave me; he was even more disgusted at me when I started the band. He died before we ever spoke again”

“I’m sure he forgave you…”

“No, he didn’t. And I didn’t forgive him either. In some way, I think I was glad he was gone…” this is probably the first time he’s dared saying those words out loud. Not to his mother, not to his band members. Not to anyone. Only to Charles, who he doesn’t know as well as all the others, not for as long, and yet... and yet he already knows everything he needs, soul deep. “I’m sure I’m messing up all the chances I had of being in your good book…” he chuckles again, even if he feels like burying his head under the blankets.

“There’s no way you can mess that up, don’t worry” Charles is caressing his face. There’s no pity in there, no judgment, no nothing. There’s only understanding, if he dares to believe it. Erik swallows.

“I had an overdose on the day he died. Not sure why I did it, if out of spite towards him or what. I woke up at the hospital and I don’t really remember anything. My mother was there, crying, and she kept repeating these words, Alles ist gut. It kind of opened my eyes... I thought I was an asshole. She had just lost her husband, and I almost made her lose her only son too. I never touched drugs again, I don’t even smoke cigarettes now. And my promise to her was this tattoo, her words. All is well. All will be fine”

Charles is kissing him before he can even finish that sentence. It’s raw and hard and almost painful, and exactly what he needed. When they break apart for air, Charles caresses his face, cleans a lonely tear he didn’t even feel running away. Erik can’t meet his eyes. He feels like the mess he really is. He feels all the regrets multiply in the presence of someone like Charles.

“I’m so not worthy of you…” Charles silences him with another kiss.

“Raven isn’t my real sister” Erik looks up at Charles, who’s practically nose to nose with him, frowning, not understanding where this is coming from “I don’t really remember my parents, seems they abandoned me when I was barely a kid. I met Raven when her parents adopted me. I learnt to play the piano because I was socially unstable and I was afraid of meeting people, always afraid of being abandoned again in the end. I’m a musical prodigy, as you called me, because I suffered social anxiety during my childhood and teen years…” Charles looks up at Erik and smiles sadly “See, we’re both pretty messed up”

He crushes Charles against his chest, holding him for dear life. Charles understands him, Charles doesn’t judge him. Charles understands what it is to be broken. If he thought Charles was good for him, now he knows he’s perfect. Now he knows why this was so fast, so real.

“That’s it. I’m never letting you go”

And that’s another promise he knows he is going to keep, even without tattooing it.


“Erik?” Charles has entered Erik’s suite with the card key copy Erik gave him. There’s music playing really loud from the lounge, so he walks there.

Erik is sitting on the floor, barefooted, ripped jeans and black tank top on; lots of papers thrown all around him, some crushed into balls. He is resting supporting himself on his arms, extended behind him, legs crossed indian style. His head is bobbing to the sound of the music that sounds like a sad, slow, deep rock song. He has a pen on his mouth, and his eyes closed, and Charles chuckles. Erik turns up instantly to look up at him.

“Hey!” he throws the pen on the coffee table in front of him and stands up, walking to Charles, surrounding his waist with his hands and moving him from side to side at the music beat, kissing him and then proceeding to sing what seems like the song’s chorus.

“What is this?” Charles laughs and he’s probably blushing too, but he’s never been received in such a way before.

“This is Iron Maiden, and it’s a beautiful ballad, don’t you think?” Erik keeps kind of dancing with him, one step to the side, the other to the contrary, moving towards the centre of the room slowly.

“This is a ballad?”

“Don’t be your snobby British self, Charles. It’s a heartbreaking love song, of course it’s a ballad!” Erik shakes his head and continues singing.

Spend your days full of emptiness
Spend your years full of loneliness
Wasting love, in a desperate caress
Rolling shadows of nights

“That’s sad” Erik nods solemnly, eyes closed making a funny face “Are you feeling sad or heartbroken? Because if yes, I’m doing a terribly bad job as a boyfriend…”

“No!” Erik chuckles and kisses him “You’re doing the best job. I’m just composing, and this kind of music inspires me”

“You’re composing! I wanna see”

“As you wish” Erik kisses him again and moves to pick a couple of papers that were thrown around “It’s not much by now, but I got this melody stuck inside my head last night, and somehow lyrics followed…” he gives the papers to Charles and stays a couple of steps away, watching him.

Charles hums the music inside his head, already liking the melody, and then reads the lyrics. He smiles. It’s a song about finding your missing piece in this ‘rotten world’ (Erik’s words).

“Since when do you write this kind of music? Because I’m sure I didn’t hear anything so close to positivism at your concert…”

“You heard nothing at all at our concert, don’t lie” Erik raises an eyebrow, and Charles feels himself blushing.

“Not my fault, your fans are way too enthusiastic in their howling”

“Howling…” Erik shakes his head, smiling “well, you like it?”

“From what I can read by now, I do”

“Good” Erik smiles, walks up to him and kisses him. He grabs his waist and starts dancing again “Oh, this song is so mushy, it’s perfect” he grins. And sure a new song has just started.

“Another heartbreaking love song? Erik Lehnsherr, if your fans knew this side about you... you must be the black sheep of the rocker family” he shakes his head mockingly, and Erik throws his head back, laughing.

“What can I say, sarcastic assholes have their soft days too” he chuckles, shrugging, and continues moving to the rhythm of the slow ballad until Erik starts singing again, and the world stops spinning under Charles’ feet “and I will love you baby, always, and I’ll be there forever and a day, always

It’s a mix of everything. Erik is in a great mood, radiating happiness as they say, and the sun is illuminating the room with pleasant light, and Erik’s hands are warm on his waist. And his voice is the best thing he’s ever heard, even like this, singing in a low volume, only for his ears, only for this room. And his eyes are bright, silver green. Blue. He’s lost. He’s lost.

“I’m going to get your word on that, herr Lehnsherr” he manages to whisper after swallowing the knot in his throat.

“I promise, Charles. Always”

“Always”

They make love on the papers thrown all over the couch. Erik is all over him, his hands never stop touching him, and they never stop looking into each other. Charles knows he is lost inside that winter sea gaze, and he doesn’t want to be found, ever again.

Yes. He is in love with Erik Lehnsherr. He is in love with this bundle of protestations and rebellion. He’s in love with his attitude, his carefree ways, his life philosophy. He’s in love with his smile and his knowing gaze and his black sense of humour and his silly sense of humour.

He is in love.

Fingers intertwined, they lay together on the couch, naked, legs all over each other. Erik is writing something on his chest with the pen he’s got back from somewhere on the floor. It’s ticklish.

“Stop moving” he smiles.

“Stop tickling me” Charles answers. Erik kisses his temple once he finishes writing. Charles looks down, but he can’t really read it from this angle, upside down. In the middle of his chest. Right over his heart, in fact “What does it say?” Erik looks at him.

“Alles ist Gut”

That’s just too much. He buries his head on Erik’s shoulder and breathes in, breathes until his lungs are filled with the other’s essence. Erik is hugging him tightly, and he wants to melt, he wants them to be one forever.

Please, please make Erik be the one to never abandon him. Make him be the one that stays.


Things are progressing wonderfully day after day. He’s written down the melody and lyrics for two songs that he feels can become something pretty good once he shares them with the band and arrangements are done; he’s well rested, and Charles and him are moving in the best direction he could have imagined.

Who would have guessed it would come to something like this? He feels a little silly, somehow. He’s always been ‘bad’, always messing with the wrong people, scaring the ‘right’ people off. Always angry with the world and mostly with himself. One just has to read his lyrics to know he is not a happy person. He’s not friendly, he’s not nice. He’s not someone who believes in love.

Better said, believed. He believes now. At least, he believes what he feels for Charles is love.
And how has it changed him, it’s astounding. He’s doing things he’s only seen done in movies, and has always mocked. He’s been called a cold guy more than once before, and yet, he melts under those blue eyes. He burns under those red lips.

He’s written two songs that aren’t angry at the world, for fuck’s sake, songs about feels! His band is going to skin him alive. Or at least, they’re going to have a good laugh at him. But every band needs a ‘feels’ song, right? Every band has at least one. Time for their band to have it.

He’s ecstatic too because he’s got last minute VIP tickets (calling the right people, of course, the perks of being a famous musician) to a gig he didn’t want to miss, Muse at the O2 on Saturday, and he’s convinced Charles to go with him. He has sent a text to Raven (yes, they exchanged numbers after they met for a second time, and she was even less star struck, thankfully, and even more funny to talk to) telling her to help dress his brother in a proper rock concert outfit. Not like Charles dresses badly, quite the contrary. He loves the straight jeans and fit shirts the conductor favours. But he thought it would be fun to see Charles dressed in something closer to Erik’s world, even if nowadays people don’t really dress like that for concerts. Even less for Muse, with such a diverse fanbase, from young teenage rebels to old married office workers, and everything in between.

Still, he’s impatiently waiting for Charles at his suite. They decided Charles would come here, and then they’ll pick a taxi to the stadium together. Easier to avoid being noticed by the paparazzi this way, he thinks.

He himself has put some effort on his look. He’s dressed in something closer to what he wears on stage, black ripped denim jeans, biker boots, sleeveless t-shirt. A studded belt and a silver chain attached to his wallet on his back pocket. Rings, leather wristbands and his favourite John Hardy dog tags necklace. Makes him feel confident, wearing his battle uniform.

He finally hears the door to the suite opening, and Charles calling his name. In three jumps he’s at the entrance, and with just one look he’s rendered speechless. Charles looks... delicious.

“What?” Charles says, looking down at himself. The British man is wearing the tightest pair of fake leather pants he’s ever seen, with half-calf lace up military boots, and a simple slim-fitted white t-shirt with a skull print that he recognizes as an Alexander McQueen one, really thin, almost see through. His hair is all up and back, messed in an orderly way and glorious, and he’s wearing a couple of black ear studs and... is that…

“Charles... are you wearing eyeliner?”

“Oh dear, is still visible? I removed it on my way here, or tried at least…” Charles starts rubbing his eyes and Erik takes the two steps still separating them, grabbing his wrists, stopping him.

“Leave it. It looks... you look…” he’s looking up and down at Charles, and there are no words to describe him beyond ‘edible’. He can’t process if that’s a good thing to tell, though.

“Oh my, Lehnsherr, speechless?” Charles smirks, predatorily. Fuck it, that’s beyond hot.

“There’s a first for everything... since when do you wear earrings? I didn’t know you had the holes for them” he caresses Charles earlobes. The round studs look extremely good on him.

“I’m full of surprises” Charles winks, and kisses him “You look positively steamy, yourself” Charles palms are open on his abdomen, and he’s afraid he’s going to just ignore the gig and strip Charles of his clothes with his mouth and have his wicked way with the other right here and now.

“We should leave. I can’t promise behaving properly around you if we’re alone any longer with you dressed like that” Charles grins.

“You never behave properly, love” Erik smiles at being called that endearment.

“Guilty as charged” he shrugs. “Shall we?” Charles nods, tiptoes to kiss him again, and walks out in front of Erik. Dear lord, if he already liked the pants, he loves them from the back view.

“What? Did you just grunt?”

“I’m just really liking your pants…” Erik closes the door to his suite with as much dignity as he can manage.

“... you are a pervert” Charles smacks his ass. Erik laughs, throws an arm around his shoulders, and together they walk down the hallway, towards the elevator.

ch03-b

They must cut a nice picture, since he feels all eyes on them all the way down the lobby, into the taxi, and into the stadium. A couple of staff girls (who look more like bikini models) showing them to their seats flirt blatantly with him, and it’s funny to notice how Charles is looking at them in a way that could freeze a volcano. Feels really good.

Another girl comes to ask if they want any drinks, and he asks for a couple of beers for them both. The seats are great, they have a nice view of the whole stage and they aren’t that far from it. It’s going to be a blast.

When the girl returns with their drinks, she starts complimenting Charles t-shirt, then flirting shamelessly with him, and that’s when the thing stops being funny. Oh how the tables have turned. Charles is polite, laughs with her and is friendly, and Erik wants to push that girl down into the mosh pit. So he does what any other man would do in this situation: he grabs Charles from his nape and clashes their lips together. He feels the girl walking away from their seats, and he smiles into the kiss.

“What was that for?” Charles asks when they break apart “Not that I complain”

“I didn’t like the way that girl was looking at you” he shrugs. Charles smiles.

“Were you jealous?”

“Well, seems I was. Seems I just discovered I don’t like my things being touched”

“Your things?’ Charles laughs and punches his bicep “keep talking about me like that and I will be no thing of yours soon”

“Hey, don’t say that” Erik throws an arm around Charles’s shoulders, bringing him closer “you know what I meant”

“I do. Don’t worry. It feels kind of good to have someone like you all over me, protecting my virtue” Charles kisses his lips softly. Yeah, Erik knows exactly how good it feels.

Then the opening act finishes, the lights turn off, and Muse finally takes the stage. They are in top form and still, in Erik’s opinion, the best rock band of the moment, the strongest live act he’s seen in ages. And Erik thinks highly of his opinion, after all. Charles seems to be enjoying immensely too. A little out of place at the beginning, but he warms up to the songs soon enough. Erik knew this was a good concert choice for Charles, since Muse aren’t that extreme or hardcore, their fan base mature, not as hysterical as other newer bands, and the lead man, singer and guitarist Matt Bellamy, has classical training under his arm. Seems Charles noticed it, and appreciates it even more when said lead man plays the piano on stage. Soon he is jumping and cheering like everyone else at the humongous stadium is doing. Laughing. Energetic. Electrifying. Probably it also has something to do with the beers he’s been consuming during the whole gig, even if he only seems tipsy.

There’s that familiar feeling of euphoria running inside his veins while Muse play one of their first hit songs, New Born, and the stadium goes nuts with it. Everyone is singing, everyone is jumping. The whole place is beating at the same rhythm, with the same pulse. This is the adrenaline that Erik is addicted to, almost the same one he feels every time he steps on a stage himself. His heart is beating fast and hard, goosebumps all over his skin from pure ecstasy. And Charles is vibrating next to him too.

“Erik, this song is awesome, this is awesome!” He is yelling, a beautiful smile in his lips. His eyes are bright, his cheeks are flustered, there’s a thin layer of perspiration on his skin. Again, Erik thinks, he’s never looked more beautiful.

The concert ends, the band is saying their goodbyes, the crowd is wild, and Erik is grabbing Charles’ hand and carrying him out of the stadium because he is suffocating. Charles is laughing and singing parts of the songs he can remember.

“This was awesome Erik, why didn’t you show me this band before? I would have loved them!”

“Damn it Charles, come here” and he’s pushing Charles against one of the stadium’s still empty hall walls, practically eating his mouth out. He’s so high on adrenaline, so turned on by everything, by the music, the crowd’s furore, Charles dressed like that and enjoying his world like that, sharing the euphoria together.

“Woah Erik, calm down, we’re in public” but he’s laughing and not really complaining about the kisses, so he doesn’t stop. Not really. Until he thinks he sees a flash out of the corner of his eye. Charles breaks the kiss, looking around, startled. Did someone just take a photo of them? No one seems to be around this VIP hall, though... “Erik” Charles looks up at him from under lowered lashes, biting his lower lip seductively “let’s go to your hotel? I’ve been wanting to try your huge bed for a while”

“Fuck yes”

It’s not after he’s breathed deeply for a couple of times, lying naked on his back on his suite’s bed, that he analyzes what has just happened.

“Charles?”

“Hmm?” the other practically purrs, lying on top of Erik’s chest, caressing Erik’s sweaty torso.

“Did you just ride me?” and Charles bursts out laughing.

“Oh dear, I melted your brain” Charles lifts his head and smiles mischievously down at him “not only did I ride you, darling, I also sucked you off until I fried your brain, it seems”

“Fucking hell…” and Charles keeps laughing “You’re going to be the death of me. Where did you learn to do those things with your tongue?”

“Told you, I’m full of surprises”

“I want to know them. I want to know them all” Charles looks at him, sweet smile on his lips.

“You’ll go running away from me, if you ever knew them all”

“Try me. I’m full of surprises myself” As if there’s anything Charles could say that would push him away. By this time, Erik knows there’s absolutely nothing he wouldn’t forgive. Charles bites his lip, but looks determined. Then, breathing deeply, starts talking.

“I was... kind of promiscuous when I was younger”

“Promiscuous?” he chuckles.

“Let’s say I overcame my social ineptitude by sleeping my way into society during my college days. Like, literally. I slept with more people than I can remember…”

“Oh…” well, it doesn’t feel that good to learn about this. But.

“Are you angry?”

“Of course not. I mean, the past is the past and... you’re not doing that anymore, are you?” because he wouldn’t be able to handle it, if he’s practically sold his heart to Charles, but this is nothing more than another notch on the bedpost for the other.

“No, no! I haven’t for a long while, long before meeting you. I started with the orchestra and finally got comfortable with who I was, or became a prude as Raven says, and that’s it. It wasn’t even for a long while, really, just some wild post-phobia liberation, I suppose. I’ve been extremely monogamous and haven’t been jumping into random beds since ages ago” Erik exhales, relaxed.

“That’s good. What changed?”

“... I thought I fell in love”

“Oh” And that feels even worse than before. “And...?” he’s scared of asking.

“And nothing. Bastard only wanted to use me to get a chair in the orchestra. Broke my heart, almost destroyed all my post-phobia progress... Have not been with anyone since then, and it’s been... well. Years”

“What a bastard” he hugs Charles tightly. Who could do something like that to someone like Charles? If he had Charles’ love (and he hopes he does, or at least he will fight to have it soon) he would treasure it. Forever.

“Hey, don’t be mad. Thanks to that bastard I was single and available for you” he winks, and Erik smiles.

“True. I shall thank him” Charles relaxes for a second, before getting tense all over again.

“What about you?”

“What about me?” Erik answers, hands running over Charles’ shoulders.

“Are you... monogamous too? All those things they say about rock stars, you know…”

“Is that your way of asking me if I’m committed only to you? Because I sang freaking Bon Jovi to you. If that doesn’t tell you how committed and deep into you I am, I don’t know what else would” Charles blushes, smiles, and hides his face on Erik’s chest. He mumbles something that Erik doesn’t catch “what did you say?”

“I said” Charles lifts his head, and he’s completely flustered, but there’s a huge smile on his lips and a mischievous glint in his eyes “you were way deeper into me a few minutes ago”

“CHARLES” and the conductor is laughing and trying to hide his face again, and Erik is laughing too and trying to grab Charles and revert their positions, because that was the worst joke in history, and that deserves some kind of punishment.

If they end up kissing each other until they fall asleep, well. He’s sure that’s a punishment somewhere. Or something.


They say time flies when you’re happy, and Charles is beyond happy. Before he knows it, Erik’s break is over, and he has to fly to New York to talk with his record label about who knows what. It’s a short trip, he promises, and he’ll be back in a week or two. Probably with the whole band, if he can convince them of rehearsing here. There are some of the best rehearsal and recording studios of the world in the UK, he says. Plus, he’s always wanted to record an album at Abbey Road studios, and he said this would be the perfect time for it. Charles hopes it is like that, because he doesn’t know what he’ll do not being able to see Erik often. Daily, really. He’s been spoiled this past month.

Still, they text every free minute they have, and call each other a couple of times a day, minding the time difference. Between that and rehearsals with the orchestra for an upcoming concert, where he’ll be conducting and playing the piano for the wonderful and dark piece that is Brahms’s piano quartet, he hopes time will move fast enough for him not noticing Erik’s absence.

Unfortunately, it’s a little uncomfortable during rehearsals. The orchestra members have noticed his mood is way different from before meeting the rock star (maybe they’ve even seen more than one hickey while they rehearsed and Erik was still around), and, even if no one is really saying anything, he doesn’t like some looks he’s getting. It’s worse when it comes from Ororo and Jean. He adores them and values their opinion, Ororo’s probably on top of everyone else, but. He does not like this. He’s never dealt well with feeling judged by others. Use all his pre-pubescent life as an example.

Raven is also pestering him about Hank more than normally, probably because unconsciously she’s jealous about him being in a relationship while she is single. It’s normally been the other way. Even in his most promiscuous times he only had one night stands with people he never saw again while she had relationships, and even keeps in contact and good terms with some of her exes. She’s the popular sibling without anxiety issues, after all.

It’s all a little too stressing for him, and he feels his defences weakening, so, when two and a half weeks later he opens his front door to find Erik standing there, he grabs him, hugs him close, and plans on never letting him go again.

“Tell me you’re recording at Abbey Road” is what he says instead of hello.

“We are recording at Abbey Road” is the answer.

Things just put themselves in their right place as soon as Erik’s lips are on his again. And it should be worrying, how much he’s come to depend on the other. It should be almost shameful, to make someone else the centre of one’s own universe, but he also thinks, to hell with it. It’s the first time he feels almost safe enough to trust on someone else to be there for him, to support him. He’s going to rejoice in this new feeling. In Erik. In his hands, his naked body all for him to explore, his lips for him to kiss. Oh, how he’s missed this man.

He needs to tell him soon, how much he really loves him.

“The band was more than happy to record here; they all like London after all. And they all want to meet you” Erik is telling, sitting on the couch downstairs, clad in only sweatpants (Charles’, a little too short for him) while Charles prepares them warm tea. It’s the middle of August now, but even if it’s summer it’s pretty chilling outside today. Nothing better than a warm cuppa tea in a cold evening after a strenuous session of reunion love-making.

“They want to meet me? You talked to them about me?” Charles walks into the living room, sits next to Erik and offers him the tea mug. Once one of his hands is free, he snuggles close to Erik’s body warmth, legs up on the couch, knees up to his chin. After all, he’s only wearing boxer shorts and the hoodie that goes with Erik’s sweatpants, so his legs are quite cold.

“Of course I did. Even if I didn’t, they know me too well. As soon as I showed them the new songs, they wanted to know who turned me into a human being” Charles chokes on the tea he was just swallowing, laughing between coughs while Erik softly pats his back.

“That’s so mean, you were a human being to begin with”

“Charles, remember how we met? I stalked you”

“... I’m biased. I think that’s romantic, now” Erik laughs and kisses his temple.

“We did say we’re both messed up, after all” Charles nods, eyes closed and lips pressed together in a mock-solemn expression “So, will you come to our first rehearsal? It will be next Sunday; I know you don’t have rehearsals with your orchestra during Sundays”

“Oh... well, sure, why not?”

“Awesome”

And so Charles founds himself in a rental top-class building around Canary Wharf next Sunday, knocking on the metal door and with the heart beating itself out of his throat. The door opens slightly and Charles can see Sean, the red haired bassist guy with the million freckles, and what looks like a high-class studio/rehearsal room that looks more like an apartment than anything else, only with musical equipment all around.

“Yes?”

“Ah, is Erik here?”

“Erik?”

“Yes, ah, he told me I could come and” the door opens completely then and there is Erik, smiling at him “There you are”

“Charles, welcome. Sean, idiot, this is Charles. I told you he was coming”

“Oh, you’re Charles!” Sean smiles, grabs his hand and shakes it effusively “Nice to meet you, thanks for showing Erik what a heart is” Charles chuckles, Erik kicks Sean’s calf.

“Get inside, you ass” Sean walks in flipping him the finger, but Erik just steps outside, ignoring the younger, and properly kisses Charles’ lips. “I’m happy you came”

“I’m happy I came too” it’s so stupid. He supposes this is what being a normal teenager in love must feel like. Only, more than a decade too late.

“Now this is something I never expected seeing” Charles turns to see the truck driver/drummer/beast walking towards them “Bub, you and I have to talk. I need to know what magic you used to make Lehnsherr act like a human being” he pokes Charles chest with a finger and smirks. Erik pushes the drummer’s hand back immediately.

“Fuck off, Logan” he snarls.

“See? This is normal Lehnsherr. You’re magical, bub” Logan winks at Charles and walks inside the rehearsal room.

“Ignore him, he’s even more difficult than I am” Erik tells him. Charles smiles.

“It’s fine, I’ve dealt with worse. Plus, I’m magical” he winks, Erik snorts.

“Come on, we will start soon”

Charles is so glad he decided to come to this rehearsal. His image of Erik’s music by now was extremely tainted by the February concert experience, where he could barely hear a thing beyond hysterical yells and loud noise. It’s so different here, he can hear the instruments one by one, he can understand what each member is playing, their riffs, their melodies. He can understand how it all mixes together, and actually hear the tunes, the cadences, the crescendos, the harmonies. He can hear the music being built and flowing in unity.

On top of all, he can hear the singer clearly.

He’s heard Erik singing here and there while they’ve been together, sure, but it’s never been anything serious or professional, just spontaneous humming or singing along the lyrics of a song (or singing cheesy Bon Jovi lyrics in one of Charles’ most romantic moments ever), but this is different. Erik’s voice is deep, deeper than he imagined it would be since his talking voice is soft, a little high, a little thin. But singing it becomes powerful, strong.

It’s especially noticeable when he sings in German. His intonation gets stronger, his enunciation is cut in short syllables, it’s hoarse but it’s not hoarse at the same time. It’s soul shaking.

And the lyrics. Now he understands what everyone has been telling him about the lyrics. There’s no happy song here, not even one. All his lyrics talk about pain, and solitude, about vindication and revenge. Erik’s songs talk about a dark world, an unfair world. The real world, really. Corruption, abuse of power, discrimination, pain.

Charles wants to stand up, hold Erik, and never let him go. How much pain has Erik really gone through? His voice, his lyrics, his eyes. Charles swears to himself that, if it is in his power, no harm will come to the German singer ever again. He’s going to protect him. No, not protect him. He’s going to save him. Erik’s songs are a cry for help, for salvation. For absolution. And damn it if Charles isn’t going to try and just do that.

He kisses Erik during the break, something he wouldn’t have normally done in that kind of situation, with people he barely knows who are closer friends to Erik than he is. But he can’t not kiss Erik, he can’t not try to heal a little of that broken soul, mend a piece of those broken wings. He caresses the tattoo hidden under Erik’s Henley shirt on his right shoulder, promises being born deep inside him and flowing all around his nervous system. Erik will never suffer again. Not while they’re together.

“You okay? You’re pretty silent” Erik lifts his head with his index finger under his chin, and looks into his eyes.

“I’m fine, I’m just... moved” Erik chuckles.

“What, now you like our music to the point of being moved? I remember perfectly your description after you saw us live. Something about insufferable noise and…” Charles covers his mouth with his hand, and feels Erik smiling under it.

“Shut up, I barely heard you during that concert; I couldn’t appreciate how good you all are” Erik moves his hand away from his lips.

“And me educating you about good rock music has nothing to do with it, right?” Erik lifts an eyebrow, the smartass, knowing he’s perfectly right already.

“... oh, whatever, you know you’re right”

“I do, but I love hearing you say it”

The rehearsal goes on, where they practice a couple of new songs Alex and Bobby have been composing during their free days. It’s music only, since Erik hasn’t heard them yet and has no lyrics for them at all. Charles is surprised to learn that all the members compose music, but lyrics are written solely by Erik. The mood changes drastically when they practice Erik’s new songs, and Charles isn’t sure if it’s a good or bad change. In general it’s a good one, he would say. The band members are playing it, asking interesting questions about rhythm and mood, and, of course, making some fun about Erik and his new found humanity while praising Charles and his mighty magic. The jokes are well meant and not offending at all and even Erik seems relaxed enough to throw some wit back at his members.

But then, there’s the manager. That same woman who gave him and Raven the champagne flutes what seems a lifetime ago, still sporting tight and revealing clothes with vertiginous stilettos, all in white and cream colours.

She was already there when Charles arrived, and has been a silent figure, barely moving, to the point Charles has practically forgotten she was there. But as soon as Erik’s songs came out, she’s been pacing, calmly, silently, but somehow making Charles extremely nervous. The few times he’s dared looking up at her, she’s been scowling. It’s pretty obvious she doesn’t like these songs, or at least she’s troubled by them. It becomes clear when the rehearsal is officially over, with them all talking about their future schedule and some changes in scores while putting their instruments away, and she takes the centre of the room, clearing her throat to get their attention, and simply states “This is going to be problematic”.

“What do you mean?” Alex asks.

“I mean, this is going to destroy our image” the manager answers, crossing her arms, a perfectly defined eyebrow rises.

“Emma, whatever you mean” Erik says, walking up to where Charles is, and sitting next to him while putting his microphone away inside a special box for it.

“That’s exactly what I mean” she points at them both. Charles doesn’t like this at all.

“The hell?” Erik puts a hand on Charles’ thigh. Charles can’t avoid thinking it’s a protective gesture.

“We have this image, Erik. We are angry, we are fighters, we call things by their name and that’s why people like us, because they can come and fight with us. They find a place against society rules in our lyrics and our concerts, and they like our strength and our no-bullshit policy”

“Yes, and?” Logan interferes.

“And now Erik has fallen for a classical music conductor of all things, and he’s already becoming soft. This is not what our fans want” Charles doesn’t know if he should feel insulted, but the way she said his profession was more than certainly meant as an insult. Erik is on his feet before he can even react.

“What the fuck, Emma?”

“You hear me, you’re going to start writing about love and colours and all that crap everyone else already does, and we’re going to lose our identity and every one of our fans, just because you couldn’t act like everyone else does, and fuck this guy and move on, like you’ve always done before” she’s pointing at Charles as if he is a thing, not even a person, and that’s more than enough.

“Excuse me, don’t talk as if I’m not even in the room” Charles stands too; Emma just spares a second to look at him.

“You’re not a member of this band so I don’t have to care about your opinion. So no, you’re not even in this room, sugar”

“What the” it’s so patronizing it makes him feel disgusting.

“Then you better shut the fuck up too, Emma; last time I checked you were a manager, not a member of this band either” Erik says in a cold voice, colder than Charles has ever heard. It’s not a nice sound.

“You’ve never talked like that to me before” Emma says after a few seconds of looking at Erik with wide eyes.

“You’ve never acted like such a bitch to me before” Erik answers, cold anger in his gaze.

“Okay, okay, we all need to chill the fuck out. Emma, I don’t think it’s bad that Erik is with Charles?” Sean is saying “Look at the guy, he’s happy for the first time since I know him, he deserves to be happy!”

“Bands evolve in sound, you know” Bobby says next “if we always sound the same, even our hardcore fans will get tired. It’s happened to million other bands before, and you know it” Logan and Alex nod. Erik throws an arm around Charles’ shoulders.

“Look Emma, I know you care about this band, damn, you were here almost from the beginning, but this is my personal life, and I won’t forgive you if you meddle with it. You, or anyone else. Understood?”

“Whatever. You’re fucking wrong, but whatever” Emma says, grabs her purse and walks out of the room. There’s a really uncomfortable silence for a few seconds, until Charles decides it’s time to say something. This has happened because of him, there’s nothing that could make him feel worse than that.

“I’m sorry”

As soon as he’s said it, everyone is assuring him that he has no reason to be sorry, that Emma will chill out about it, that changes are always scary but a necessary thing, and thousand other things. Erik looks pissed off and doesn’t say a word.

They leave a while later, Erik still frowning, the rest of the band still assuring him all will be okay. It’s nice to know Erik’s companions accept them, but Charles has a bad feeling in his chest, like a weight that wasn’t there before. Maybe he hasn’t thought this carefully. Erik is a famous singer from a famous band. There are so many things at stake, so many things that could go wrong, so much damage that he could make. So much damage that he could receive. And he thinks he’s ready, he thinks he’s stronger now, he’s an adult and he doesn’t have to be afraid. And yet. This is too big. Erik already means too much, how can he ever be strong enough to stand up again if this fails? It’s too late to walk unscathed now, one way or another.

The weight gets heavier with each step they take, still in silence.

Chapter Text

Charles has changed since the day he came to the rehearsal, Erik has noticed. It’s not a big or drastic change, not at all, but it feels as if he’s hiding stuff in, as if he’s being a little more careful with everything he says or does, and Erik doesn’t like it. Damn Emma with all her crap about changing and losing fans. Their fans are bigger than that, they are like a family, really. More than a family than what Erik knew growing up, at least. There’s something strong tying them together, and they’re not going to be abandoned just because they have a couple of more uplifting songs from time to time. Their fans are not that shallow. It’s disappointing that Emma thinks so less of them.

And Erik doesn’t know what to do about Charles. This is all pretty new and he doesn’t know how these things have to be dealt with, how do you cheer someone you love up? He’s normally been the one needing to be pulled out of black holes. He thinks about the things others have tried to do for him, to help him. He thinks and thinks but he doesn’t believe that the stuff that more or less worked on him is going to work on Charles. Like, getting pissed drunk, destroying hotel rooms and other public properties, having angry sex with as many people as possible... no, that’s not a Charles thing to do. He doesn’t want Charles to do them, basically. Hell, not even he does them anymore.

And then it hits him. A ‘Charles’ thing to do.

He searches online and calls his hotel reception desk for help because he really has no freaking idea about how this works, and finally ends with what the manager of the hotel has assured him is a big deal: Loggia box tickets for Rachmaninoff at the Royal Albert Hall. He’s investigated online and supposedly that was a Russian composer who had some self-esteem issues of some kind and was an amazing piano player too. It kind of sounds a little like Charles; perfect.

So armed with his best Saint Laurent black slim-fit suit (the one he calls the ‘Beatles suit’), coupled with the same brand black leather Chelsea ankle boots, and a private matte black town car with tinted windows, he rides towards Charles’ house with a few hours to spare so Charles has time to get ready, and hopes that this will bring that sparkle back to Charles’ eyes. He’s been missing it too much these past days.

Even if the thing itself doesn’t work as planned, it’s already worth it for Charles’ face when he opens the door to find him in the tailored, slim suit on his doorstep.

“May I come in?”

“What…” Charles says nothing more, just nods and lets Erik in. “Did I forget something important today??” Erik laughs.

“No, nothing like that” Erik answers, walking up to Charles, looking him in the eyes.

“Then? I mean, I will never complain if you start appearing randomly at my door dressed like this…” Erik chuckles, and kisses Charles lips.

“Well, you’ve been a little down lately, so I wanted to cheer you up?”’ Charles’ gaze softens, and he’s sure he’s going to do something stupid like apologize for being down, so Erik doesn’t give him the chance to talk “Here. I hope you like it” and offers the envelope with the tickets to Charles.

The way the conductors’ eyes illuminate as soon as he takes the tickets out of the envelope is almost comical. It’s also heart-warming.

“Erik... how?”

“Being famous has its perks” he shrugs. Charles is still looking at the tickets, eyes like saucers “You like it? We can stay home if you don’t…” because maybe he messed up and Charles hates this Rachmalahmah guy or something.

“No way!! I tried to get tickets for this for ages!!” Charles holds the tickets close against his chest “Bloody hell, Erik, this is... this is amazing” he looks at the tickets again “And they are BOX TICKETS. ERIK!!” and there it is, that sparkle, that light. Erik knows he’ll never be able to describe the marvel that are Charles’ eyes, but he’s going to spend the rest of his days studying them, and writing hymns about them.

“Box tickets, Charles” and nothing else is said, since suddenly there’s a short, warm, strong body holding his tightly. So, so tightly.

“Thank you” it’s barely a whisper, muffled by Erik’s clothes, but it’s there, and it means so much more than a simple thank you for the tickets, Erik knows it.

“Look, we have been together only for a few months, and we’re still finding our place and all that” Charles looks up at him “but I already know I don’t like to see you down, and be sure I’m going to do anything in my power to never see it happen”

“If I ever knew you were like this, I would have never been bored during that first concert” Erik laughs.

“If you weren’t bored during that first concert, maybe I wouldn’t have noticed you” Charles frowns “Nah, not true, I would have noticed you anywhere”

“Cheesy” Charles smiles then, contented, kisses his lips. It feels wonderful to have Charles back “Let me go get ready”

When Charles walks down several minutes later, Erik is sure he’s developed a new fetish for people dressed to the nines. Charles is wearing a three piece slim-fit suit, a cobalt blue colour that brings his eyes out even more, with a white shirt and no tie. He’s a vision walking down the stairs.

“You look... fantastic” Erik breathes out.

“Why Erik, I thought you only lost your breath for leather and studs?”

“Let’s say I’m basically losing my breath for you, lately. Would it be too terrible if we missed this concert?” Charles laughs.

“Yes it would, I really want to go. I’m even wearing one of my best suits for this. It’s Burberry and all. Be a dear and let me enjoy it? I promise the reward won’t disappoint you” there should be a warning for when people meet Charles Xavier: caution, it contains extremely dirty grins and lecherous gazes. Proceed with care. He answers the only way he can while being as choked up as he is.

“Burberry... you couldn’t be more British even if you tried” Charles’ laughter accompanies them all the way until the town’s car.

All in all he’s glad they didn’t miss the concert. The pianist, a Chinese young man who Charles has explained is worldwide famous due to how mediatic he is, and not exactly for how precise his technique is, is extremely good, at least to his un-classically trained ear.

And the music is extraordinaire. Checking the program he sees this fella, Lang Lang, is playing something called Piano Concerto no.2 in C minor (and he still doesn’t understand the long-ass titles of classical pieces. Wouldn’t it be easier to call them, dunno, normal titles? Like Free Bird or Space Oddity) and he is accompanied by a full orchestra and it’s... dark, and sad, and oppressive at the beginning. And then it softens, with intricate melodies and a dizzying amount of notes. The violins create a magical atmosphere from where the piano melody rises, and slowly it builds up, and up, until the melody isn’t painful anymore, ending in a scream, a victorious yell. It fills Erik’s chest with an indescribable emotion. It’s a journey, a journey he understands perfectly.

From the darkest, lowest point in one’s life, to the freedom of finding the way, finding the light.

It’s like the path he’s followed these past months with Charles.

He claps until his hands hurt once the young pianist finishes and bows. The fact that he’s been squeezing Charles’ hands between his during the whole performance probably has helped bringing said pain.

Charles is on fire, and it’s great to see him in so high spirits again. He talks about Rachmaninoff all the way back to his home, and his excitement is unstoppable once he notices Erik is genuinely interested in this topic. Charles tells him he feels pretty identified with Rachmaninoff’s work in general, thing that Erik already suspected but it’s not going to say.

“So now you only need to compose, and you can be a modern day Rachmaninoff”

“Who says I don’t compose?” Charles looks at him, a mix of bashful and proud, and Erik feels so, so privileged to be with him.

“You must show me” and it’s not a question. Charles knows it, smiles, nods.

At Charles’ home they listen to his Deutsche Grammophon CD of Lang Lang playing the same concerto they’ve just seen. Erik is silent, absorbing it all. So many ideas flying inside his head, so much inspiration coming from every compass of these melodies.

So many feelings.

He wants to thank Charles, for everything. For showing him this world, for widening his range of view, for making him better, happier. He spends the rest of the night worshiping his body with whispers of forever over freckled skin, with thanks delivered into warm lips. With love poured into each of his pores.

Morning light finds them still awake, looking at each other in the silence of the cold dawn. Rachmaninoff melodies playing inside his head, accompanying the cadence of Charles’ eyelashes every time he blinks slower, slower. And then his breath calms, deepens, and Charles is asleep in his arms. Warm. Safe. Perfect.

“I love you” next time he’ll tell it when Charles can hear him, but, by now, this is enough.

ch04-1


All of Erik’s efforts to cheer him up the day before turn to dust when he wakes up next. He has at least twenty Whatsapp messages from Raven, asking if he’s okay, where is he, to please answer. When he answers, Raven just asks ‘haven’t you seen it?’, and a link. The link opens a famous British tabloid website.

At the front page, pictures of himself and Erik last night, kissing, holding hands. A black, huge bold headline that reads ‘The rebel of the music industry toying with a cuddly British queen?’. There’s even a blurry picture of them at the Muse concert. So he did see a flash light back then.

The article goes on in similar fashion, making fun of everything; of Erik dressed in a fancy suit so far from his normal gear; of Erik going to a classical concert, is he turning soft now, playing the cultured lord? Of himself, a short cute and cuddly boy who probably is bringing sugar to Erik’s acidic life. Making fun of how they suppose the cuddly boy must be a master doing wicked things with those red lips, because they can’t understand why someone as charismatic as Erik would be with something as bland as him.

Erik is furious when he wakes up and reads the tabloid. He yells and swears and calls his manager, and continues yelling when, seemingly, said manager says something that Charles fears is close to ‘told you so’.
But she did tell it, didn’t she? That this would be problematic. That they don’t fit together. Charles doesn’t fit in Erik's world, and that’s a fact now proven.

Erik leaves with a short kiss and a promise to fix this, and to not worry, it’s just a tabloid. Charles breathes in and goes to rehearsal, trying to continue with his life as normally as possible even if he feels the ground shaking under his feet, and then sees it’s not just a tabloid.

The pictures were pretty clear, his face was visible in close ups, focused, and now people are watching him on the street. A couple of girls are pointing her fingers at him without even trying to hide it, whispering between them. Probably it’s paranoia, but he thinks everyone is whispering behind his back. Agreeing with the tabloid, seeing how he’s not enough, he’s just a cuddly boy. A little queen. It’s suffocating.

He’s never been happier to reach the inside of the rehearsal hall.

But then there’s Ororo, and Jean. And not only them, but the rest of the orchestra members too. All of them. They’ve seen the pics. They’re disappointed, they say. You should know better, Charles, they say.

“You have a very promising career, Charles. You’re the youngest conductor of this orchestra, and we fill the hall every time we perform, and the reviews are always good. Beyond good. Why would you throw it all away for this?”

“What exactly do you mean, Jean? I’m throwing nothing away” and he’s pissed, and afraid. He doesn’t want to face this. He’s not sure he can.

“I mean, you lost your head for someone like that? Sure he’s hot but, what else? He’s a fucking drug addict, Charles!”

“You have no idea what you’re talking about!” he yells because damn it, Erik is not a drug addict, not anymore.

“Oh I do, I researched him as soon as Ororo recognized him and told me about it. Have you done it? Maybe you should, you’ll be horrified by the amount of illegal things on his records!”

“Well I don’t care about that” and it’s scary to realize he really doesn’t. Maybe Erik did things wrong, he admitted it to Charles himself, but he’s a better person now. He told Charles. He’s seen it himself. Yes, he believes in him. He believes in him wholeheartedly.

“Fantastic Charles, throw your life and ours away for a couple of blowjobs!” he’s frozen speechless.

“Enough!!” Ororo yells “That’s just enough. Sure we don’t like this but there’s no need to be vulgar. Can we rehearse now?”

Oh yes, Charles would be glad to just rehearse and go home, but his feelings are a mess and his mind is not at the correct place and he is angry, too angry, and scared of things he thought were long gone but are just waiting there at the corner, today, so his Brahms becomes a mess. It’s probably the worst thing he’s ever conducted, and it sure is the worst thing he’s ever played on piano, and his members aren’t in good spirits, he feels their judgement towards him, and everything is just too much.

He’s feeling like a ragdoll when he stops the rehearsal before schedule and simply tells them all to go home and they’ll try next time. Ororo doesn’t even look at him, and it’s horrible to see how the rest of them do. Disappointment. He’s a disappointment. They’re going to leave the orchestra. They’re all going to leave him behind.

The last straw comes when, in the tube on his way home, a couple of teenagers walk up to him and demand him to stop messing with Lehnsherr, to stop contaminating him. He doesn’t even know how to answer them, and they walk away before he can, calling him faggot and fucking queer and other things he doesn’t hear, but still make him feel like trash.

Everyone in the tube is looking at him. Everyone is judging him. He can feel it, he can hear it. He’s a disappointment, he is messing up Erik’s life with his softness. They are too different, Erik is a fighter and he’s always needed help, always hiding himself. Always afraid of being abandoned again because he knows, he’s always known, he’s not enough.

No, no, of course it won’t work. Too different. Erik shines. Erik is strong.

Erik is going to leave him. He’s going to leave him now because this is too much trouble. Because he will be ashamed of having been spotted in public with him. He’s going to be abandoned again. And this hurts, it hurts so bad, because aside from his adoptive family, aside from Raven, Erik is the first person he’s really cared about. The first person he’s completely thrown his walls down for.

He’s the first person he’s really loved in his whole life.

But they’re too different. Too different.

It could never have worked.


“No, he’s not answering my calls either” he tells Raven, who has called him wanting to know about her brother.

Her brother who hasn’t been answering texts or calls or his door for two days now, right after the day the fucking tabloid was released.

Erik went and yelled and moved heaven and hell until the tabloid published a public apology on the next day, not for making them public, he’s not ashamed of Charles, but for the things they said, how they said them. It was an utter insult towards Charles.

But now Charles has gone and closed himself inside his place. Or so he hopes, because he’s not answering, so he could be anywhere else, really. He’s going mad with worry with this, this is not a situation he knows how to deal with, he still doesn’t know Charles that well. For one side, he thinks he does, soul deep; for the other, not really. He doesn’t know if this is something that happens often or how to deal with it.

“No, it’s not something that happens often, it hasn’t happened since he came out of his shell ages ago, so to say” Raven continues.

“Then what, what happened, what do we do?”

“What happened is obvious. As much as my brother is a social butterfly nowadays, he still has that poison inside him, where he’s afraid of too much people judging him in a bad way, and this tabloid incident has done exactly that to him” Erik swallows with difficulty “I called Hank, from the orchestra, he told me Charles went to their last rehearsal but it was a disaster. A couple of the members complained a lot about the bad publicity and what not and... well, seems it wasn’t nice”

“What the fuck? Why would they??”

“Because they are professional musicians, Erik, and if their conductor is involved in a scandal, it can damage their careers. If the conductor falls in disgrace in an orchestra as young as this one, the orchestra falls too, and its members with it. They would have to start all over again, and it’s not an easy world, the classical one”

“Still…”

“Charles is a genius, you know? He’s been called a prodigy by the critics, and his career skyrockets every time he gives a concert. You understand, Erik, don’t you? This can be really bad for his image. I’m not telling you’re bad for his image, probably no one would have cared if things would have been handled in another way. Damn, probably no one really cares who he sees or fucks or loves, as long as his work keeps on being exceptional”

“But his work is still exceptional!” and damn it he’s angry.

“Is it? Will it? Charles is easily influenced by his surroundings. He’s extremely empathic, you know? If he feels judged, if he feels attacked…”

“Fuck, what do I do, Raven?”

“I have no idea... he came out of all of this on his own before…”

But Erik is not going to wait for Charles to deal with this on his own, nor does he want to let Charles deal with this in the same way he did the last time. There’s no way anyone else is touching his Charles again. And, after all, this is partly his fault. No, not really, this is all his fault. He’s the ‘celebrity’ here, and It’s not like this always happens, but in his field of music is easier to attract the wrong kind of press.

So he keeps on texting him, calling him, ringing his doorbell, but without success. He buys some warm coffee to go at the Pret a Porter down the street and sits at Charles’ front door’s step, ready to wait for as long as he needs. He knows he probably looks like a stalker; he actually feels like one, but damn it all, he got Charles by stalking him, he’s going to get him back the same way if necessary.

It’s not until half past eight that night, while Erik ponders on getting a sandwich or keep his vigil, when he receives a text from Charles.

’Go home, Erik’

So Charles is inside! Once his heart has reached normal speeds again, he answers.

’I’m home, Charles. Just outside’

’You know what I mean’

No, no he doesn’t, because it’s true, Charles is his home now. Not the thousands of hotels he always stays at, not his partly abandoned penthouse at Wilmersdorf in Berlin. Not even his mother’s farm in the outskirts of Munich, where he was never welcomed and is only pursued by bad memories of his youth. No, he’s never felt more at ease, more at home than with Charles.

And he needs to do something to bring Charles out, to help him getting out of whatever it is the other is suffering. And then it comes to him, and it maybe won’t work, and it’s probably a stupid idea, but he can’t think of anything else. So he does what he does best. He sings.

He sings Muse’s Guiding light, because he remembers how much Charles loved it during the concert. He sings softly first, but then louder, and louder, so Charles hears, so the whole street hears, because the words ring so true, and he wants the whole world to know.

When comfort and warmth can't be found
I still reach for you
But I'm lost, crushed, cold and confused
With no guiding light left inside

’Erik, what the hell are you doing’ a message on his phone. At least Charles is hearing him.

You're my guiding light

’Erik stop this’ Never.

And so he sings another song, the one that first opened Charles mind to his world, Queen’s Love of my life.

When I grow older
I will be there at your side to remind you
How I still love you

’Erik’

Passersby are looking at him, but he doesn’t care. He’s never cared about people looking at him when he sings. He’s not going to start now, when so much depends on it.

But Charles is still not coming out, or opening the door or... He knows. He knows what will work.

You see I've always been a fighter
But without you I give up
I can't sing a love song
Like the way it's meant to be
Well, I guess I'm not that good anymore
But baby, that's just me
And I will love you, baby - Always
And I'll be there forever and a day - Always
I'll be there till the stars don't shine
Till the heavens burst and
The words don't rhyme
And I know when I die, you'll be on my mind
And I'll love you - Always

The door opens and Charles is there, serious. He’s pale, and he looks somehow smaller. Erik shuts up and looks at him, waiting, waiting.

“That’s the cheesiest thing anyone could have ever done” is what Charles says, but his eyes are getting glossy, and his cheeks are red, and there’s the shadow of a smile on his lips, so Erik laughs, and laughs feeling a weight being lifted from his chest.

“The lengths I go for you, Xavier”

“Come in before someone calls the police”

As soon as the door is closed, Charles is closed in himself again, facing the door, back towards Erik, and he doesn’t like this change, he doesn’t like feeling the weight back.

“You know, I’m fine. I just... I just need some time alone. That’s not too bad, is it?”

“Charles, I’m so sorry…”

“This is not your fault at all” Charles turns, looks at him and there’s a fake smile on his lips. It’s ugly. “We’re just too different, it was obvious that it wouldn’t work”

“What?”

“Yes, you... you come from this world of... fighters. Survivors. You’re strong. I’m not fit to follow you”

“Charles, the hell are you saying”

"Somehow you fancied me for a while, and I’m flattered. You’re so handsome and smart and charismatic... but now it’s more trouble for you than anything, and I understand. I just… I’m not really good facing these things, and it would be better if you leave before…”

“What the hell, Charles? Fancied you, is that what you think?” Erik takes two steps closer to where the shorter man is.

“Isn’t that how it is? What could you possibly see in me more than that?”

“Oh fuck you’re an idiot” he sighs while Charles complains, and probably this is not the best way to deal with insecurities, insulting, but sadly tact has never been his strongest suit. So, he takes the steps left to be right in front of Charles, grabs his nape and kisses him deeply. Before Charles can react, Erik breaks the kiss, breathing. Now or never “I love you”

“... what” barely a whisper.

“I love you, how can you not see it?”

“You love me?”

“Do you think I sing Bon Jovi normally? That’s an extreme act of love, Charles, come on!” it’s a joke, because he really doesn’t know how to be careful (and he’s going to need to learn how to, for Charles), but seems to work, because Charles whole aura changes. Brightens.

“You love me”

“Probably since the first time I saw your bored face at my concert” and now Charles chuckles “and I know this has been a low blow, Charles, the tabloid and everything, but, somehow, I don’t mind?”

“Wha-”

“Not the insults, I fucking mind that a lot. But I don’t mind the world knowing about us. I’m not planning on hiding you, if you accept me, that is” and lord, please, let Charles accept him.

“But, but they don’t like me? They say I’m not fit for you”

“Ok first, I don’t care about the opinion of people who mean nothing in my life. Second, you shouldn’t either. Third, I love you, I adore you, you’ve made the best of me shine out. You’ve made this asshole a better person. How is that not fitted for me?” and he looks at Charles’ eyes hoping he understands, hoping he believes, because he’s never been more serious, more real, more himself.

“You love me…” and Erik laughs nervously.

“I do”

“I love you too” his heartbeat speeds up, and his breath almost goes the wrong way.

“You do?” Charles laughs, and laughs, and there are tears in his eyes from laughing so hard or from nerves or a mix of everything, he doesn’t even know, he doesn’t even care.

“We’re so dumb, so dumb” and he keeps laughing, so Erik joins him, and they laugh, and somehow move even closer, and kiss, kiss between smiles, between laughter, between tears “this has to be the worst declaration of love in history”

“Excuse me? I just serenaded you” Charles kisses him again.

“You did” and another kiss “So you love me” Erik nods, grinning from ear to ear “and I love you. But the tabloids... and your manager, and your fans?”

“We’ll manage? Together we can do it” and he knows he is right, he feels he can conquer the world if Charles is by his side.

“Together we’re invincible”

“... are you quoting Muse now?” Charles bursts out laughing “I’ve created a monster”

“Oh god I love you” Charles smiles up at him, the azure of his eyes brighter than ever with what he can say now for sure is love, and this is it. This is his place, what he’s always searched for, his whole life. Somewhere to belong, someone who accepts him for who he is, the way he is, no filters, no disguises.

“And I love you”

It’s not like everything is fixed instantly, but at least he has Charles curled against him on the couch, a nice warm cup of black tea, a blanket over their legs, and they are talking. They are talking about the things that happened on that day, how Charles felt attacked from all sides, how he actually was. No wonder he felt the need to be alone for a while.

And that’s what Charles is telling him he was doing, just being away from the world for a while. Building defences, repairing broken walls. Seems the fear of abandonment he suffered while young was almost back but he could mostly calm it after a day or so; it probably wouldn’t be back as strong as it once was, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need some time on his own to put his mind in order. Erik understands that perfectly, Charles is not the only person to need some time off, and he had reasons enough to need some this time.

Then Charles is telling him how he was sure Erik was interested in him just because of the novelty. Different worlds, it can be attractive, as he says. Discovering new things, trying new paths. How he thought it would be better for him to break this off first, being the one to walk away instead of the one being left behind, because he couldn’t deal with Erik leaving him behind. But he’s so wrong, so much. And Erik is glad he knows by now that what Erik feels is love, and probably will only keep growing from now on. That he doesn’t have to be afraid of being abandoned, not by Erik, not ever.

They talk about how to proceed, about lines and boundaries that have to be crossed carefully, at least for now, and those which need to be crossed as soon as possible. They talk about how to deal with things like that tabloid if they happen again, when they happen again. Erik doesn’t lie to him, he is worldwide famous, he has a very devoted fan base, and not everyone is going to like these news. Sure they all know he’s bisexual, he’s never hidden it, but... well, it’s going to be a surprise to end with someone as clean cut and proper as Charles is.

And Charles promises to try his best, and to ask Erik for help when he can’t. And that’s all he needs, really. To be able to help, for Charles to let him help, when it’s necessary.

They sleep tangled together on Charles’ bed, with whispers of love words and promises that Erik is sure he’s going to keep, no matter what it takes.


Not Heroes has finished recording most of their new album after two months. Erik has gone to New York to fix a couple of things with their label before post-production work starts, and to do a couple of photo shoots and interviews and what not. But it’s fine. They’re closer than ever. They’ve practically been living together these past months, with Erik cancelling his hotel room and moving in with Charles until the album was finished.

A few of his things are still around. Such a small detail, bringing so much peace of mind for Charles.

They’re serious, and most of his friends have accepted it. Raven is delighted to have Erik as a brother-in-law, as she already calls him (and Erik is more than happy to follow the ‘joke’). They have appeared in a couple of magazines more, paparazzi pictures from afar, but nothing insulting like the first time, just gossip and random facts. Seems Erik really scared the hell out of everyone the first time. Good. The Brahms concert wasn’t one of his best, to say it lightly, but it wasn’t the disaster it could have been. Critics weren’t too harsh with him or the orchestra, so he can’t complain. Next time it will be better. He’s on full power again.

He’s currently in his living room, sitting in front of the piano with a composer notebook in front of him and notes and papers all around him, working on some music Erik left behind with a post-it note that simply said ‘there’s something missing in this song. Work your magic with it’. He doesn’t know what Erik expects, since he’s still a newbie with rock music, so he’s taken the assignment freely, and is adding a couple of violins in it. He thinks it will fit perfectly. It’s kind of a melancholic song, and what is sadder than the cry of a violin? In his opinion, nothing.

His phone beeps with an incoming text.

‘Check MTV rocks!’

It’s from Raven. He moves to the television, turns it on, and has to sit down to suppress a gasp when the handsome face of Erik appears on it. It’s an interview, it seems. What a bastard, not telling him he’ll be on the telly!

“but it’s been all over the news” the interviewer, a beautiful girl with golden skin, long black hair and a short, short skirt is saying “we want to know how serious it is”

“it’s serious” Erik says. Charles snorts. He looks so badass, so no-bullshit in his whole Rocker gear, it’s funny. He knows what a softie Erik can be, after all.

“So, a classical conductor, huh?” and now Charles really listens. They’re talking about him?

“He’s a musician, like me. Music is his life, he understands it, he works with it. We’re more similar than people may think” Charles bites his lip trying to stop a silly smile from forming.

“Somehow I think you make a wonderful couple” the interviewer says. Erik looks surprised “Really! I mean, Rock music and classical music? Match made in heaven. Look at Metallica or…” Erik chuckles.

“Match made in heaven. I hope Charles hears that one”

“Oh I’ve heard it” he answers the TV, grabs his phone and texts exactly those words to Erik.

From there on he somehow becomes more famous, suddenly seeing his photo from the orchestra’s official site on internet news sites and some music programs on MTV, VH1 and similar music channels. It’s extremely weird. On his way to rehearsal, people recognize him. They don’t approach him, and he’s glad about it, but still, the mood is quite different from that tabloid day. He doesn’t feel judged. It’s like people just recognize him, an anecdote, and move on. He can live with that, perfectly.

Things are different at rehearsal too. It was tight with tension for a couple of weeks after ‘the incident’, but after the Brahms disaster they all decided to stop acting silly, leave their private lives outside of the hall, and be professionals. It’s been a big improvement, since then.

“Hey, Charles?” Ororo approaches him at the podium while everyone else is tuning or putting some order to their score pages. They don’t have any concert programmed until february, but Christmas season is starting soon, and surely something will be prepared for then.

“yes?”

“I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry. I’ve been wanting to tell you for a while, now” Ororo says.

“For what?”

“Oh, you know for what. I was really rude. We all were... but I did it with your best interest in mind, I really thought that guy would be bad news for you” she frowns, but Charles can’t see any heat in her gaze.

“What has changed now, then?”

“Saw the interview” Charles frowns, not understanding “the MTV one, the other day, where he practically worshiped your name every time it was mentioned” Charles blushes. Ororo smiles “I was wrong in my assumptions. Seems he will take good care of you”

“He will” and he couldn’t be more certain about it.

“Good. Good for you” she pats his shoulder, and Charles thanks her and smiles.

It’s one of the best rehearsals they’ve had in months. Charles is in cloud nine for the rest of the week.

Things reach a new level of bliss when he receives a call from the BBC, explaining him how they’re preparing a short festival this Christmas, all about the worldwide younger promises of classical music, and they want him to take part on it. He practically yells yes without knowing more, so he takes a breath, swallows and asks more about it.

As soon as he’s hanged the phone, he runs up to his room, grabs his mobile phone, and calls Erik.

“Charles?”

“What time is it there??” Is the first thing he asks, because he hasn’t even thought about the time difference, as excited as he is. Erik chuckles.

“One pm, what is it? You’re practically screaming”

“I’ve got a concert!!”

“Oh, that’s good Charles, when i-”

“No you don’t understand, it’s not a concert like my concerts, it’s a CONCERT”

“... a concert concert

“YES” Erik laughs “aaaagh shut up, I’m too hyper to think properly!”

“Breathe, Charles, come on, you can do it. What happened?”

“BBC. BBC called, I. Well they, well. They want me to conduct a full orchestra on the Royal Albert Hall ERIK. THE ALBERT HALL”

“WHAT”

“YES”

It all becomes a monologue of onomatopoeias and yells, but it’s understandable. He’s beyond himself, and Erik is beyond himself too.

“when??”

“Twenty two of December. Tell me you’ll be here” because he needs Erik to be there.

“As if I wouldn’t. Save me the best ticket, love” Charles laughs in pure delight “what will you play, do I know it?”

“Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto no.2” he grins.

“SHUT UP!” and Charles laughs again. This is surely what unadulterated happiness must feel like. He can’t wait for Erik to be back. He can’t wait to start rehearsals. He can’t wait, in general.


Charles has sent him via courier (because he was paranoid to use any other type of mail in case it got lost or stolen) the song he left behind in London for the other to ‘arrange’. The song per se has been untouched, but he sees a new instrument has been added. A violin.

He shows it to his band members, since he knows he is way too biased and in his opinion this is already the best song they’ll ever have. It seems his band members agree. Even Emma agrees, somehow still thinking she’s right and Charles will mess things up with the band, but way softer now that sees there’s nothing to do, and he’s serious about the conductor.

“We can search for a violin player and record this song for a single…” Emma is saying, but Erik will have none of it.

“Charles will play the violin”

“Chuck can play the violin?” Logan interrupts, then whistles low “Guy is a diamond”

“He’s Charles, not Chuck, and yes he plays violin and piano” Erik answers.

“And you’re drooling” Alex smirks. Erik throws him a pick from Sean’s bass, resting on a music stand next to him.

And so it’s decided that this song will be the first single to be released from the new album, and they’ll fly back to London to record this at Abbey Road again, with Charles. That is if Charles accepts, of course, or if he has time, now that he’s going to conduct a whole orchestra in a major event.

Just thinking about it has him feeling prouder than he’s ever felt for anyone before, even for his own band. Charles is amazing at what he does, and deserves this more than anyone else. He can’t wait to see that performance.

Their label agrees with this new single, and so they fly back to London. It’s the longest flight of his life, anxious as he is to be with Charles again. Look at him, such a sap. Who would have thought. Oh well, time to stop minding it, and embrace it. Charles has turned him into a sap. World, deal with it.

Charles texted him before taking the flight, telling him he’s going to be busy rehearsing for the Rachmaninoff concert, and he can’t meet him until the night; to please leave a key to his room in reception for him. It’s disappointing, but every time he reads the word Rachmaninoff he feels tingles all over his skin. Somehow it feels like he’s been there with Charles all the way, since he sat down in front of the piano for the first time, when he probably was a blue-eyed adorable little brat, and he really feels prouder than he would have imagined.

As soon as they land in the morning they are rushed into Abbey Road studios, and they start recording the song. Drums first, then bass. They have no time to record both guitars but that’s fine, Charles isn’t here yet so they can’t do much more.

Jet lag kicks in hard as soon as he’s in the van on the way to their hotel. This time they’re staying at the Savoy by his request. They call him spoiled snob. He doesn’t correct them, but he also doesn’t tell them he’s trying to accommodate more classical tastes for someone else. He’s practically asleep face down on his bed after a nice and long warm shower (England is horribly frosty at the ends of November) when he hears the door to his suite opening, and a voice he’s been dying to hear for these past weeks calling his name. He grunts in answer, ashamed of not having the strength to even answer properly.

“There you are” he hears Charles’ voice closer to him, and then a weight on the bed next to him, and frozen fingers caressing his nape.

“Your fingers are stalactites” he mumbles into the pillow. Charles laughs out loud.

“I missed you too, love” Erik turns on his side, looking up at Charles, smiling when he sees that beautiful smile looking down at him. He raises his hands, caressing Charles’ face, hair.

“I’m home” He is. Charles face scrunches up in something Erik’s tired mind can’t really decipher, but he would catalogue as overwhelming emotion. Or something.

“Welcome home”

He falls asleep to Charles’ fingers intertwined with his, and his soft breath caressing his face.

Next day finds them both together in the van on the way to Abbey Road studios. Charles is an excited bubbling mess, who can’t stop talking about how he’s never recorded anything and he’s looking forward to learn the process and what not. Erik just smiles and kisses him every chance he has.

And Charles is a sight to behold once he’s recording the violin track. He’s brought his own violin, and it’s easy to see how he knows this instrument soul deep. His band members are at the recording cabin, around him, peering through the crystal into the room where Charles is standing, eyes closed, playing the violin, slowly rocking his body in tune to the sad melody. Erik has never heard or seen him play the violin, and now he thinks he’s going to be asking Charles to play it more often. Somehow, whatever Charles does in relation to music is ethereal, entrancing. Magical. Logan was right after all, Charles does have magic.

“Bub” speaking of the devil “Don’t ever let go of that one” he says, pointing his thumb towards Charles.

“Wasn’t planning on it” Erik nods, eyes never leaving Charles.

The conductor is so professional in his task that they finish recording his track with very few repeats, so they have more than enough time to start recording Erik’s voice. He’s going at it as he always does, with all his passion and power, only this time he has a point to focus his gaze at, and it’s Charles, sitting outside, looking at him, violin inside its case on his lap, smile tugging at his lips. He sees Emma walking towards him, chatting with him for a while, and Erik wants to rip his earphones off and walk straight towards her and push her away from Charles. If she’s throwing more of that bullshit on him again, Erik is going to fire her. Fire her and rip her a new one. But Charles smiles at her, and nods, and sits down again, and somehow that calms Erik enough to finish the day without any incidences. He doesn’t ask until they’re alone, back at Charles’ house (he only has a room at the Savoy for times when Charles is busy rehearsing).

“What did she tell to you? Emma” he adds.

“Oh. Well, she actually said she’s sorry?” Erik lifts an eyebrow, surprised “I know, I didn’t know what to say either. She said she’s worried and she’s always going to fight for the best for this band, but she’s going to accept maybe I’m good for you, at least for now?”

“For now?” he snorts in disdain.

“Erik, don’t be mean now” at Erik’s disbelieving face, Charles continues “that’s a truce if I’ve ever seen one, and I’m more than willing to accept it. If she’s already seeing some good, she’ll maybe change her mind, right?”

“... you’re an optimistic little brat, did you know that?” Charles laughs. That has become his favourite song.

“Sometimes I can be, yes”

“You’re also breathtaking when you’re playing the violin. Or the piano. Or conducting” Charles blushes, a knowing smile on his lips.

“You are biased, Mr. Rocker” Charles takes a step towards him “but I must say, you’re entrancing when you’re singing, did you know it? I had to stop myself from tearing the cabin door open and having my way with you right there, at the studio floor, with everyone else watching” Erik has to steady his breath.

“Pity you didn’t. I’m sure it would have been an amazing track for the single” Charles laughs again. It’s fantastic to be able to make him laugh.

“Well, maybe next time. We can rehearse it, meanwhile” Charles grins up at him, and oh how wonderful it is when Charles shows his playful side.

“Lots and lots of rehearsing, I would say” Erik nods.

“Let’s go to my room then, shall we. It has wonderful acoustics”

He trips on more than one step in his rush to walk up the stairs, hands on Charles’ hips pushing him up, while the British keeps on laughing. They strip as soon as they are in the bedroom, hurried but not desperate, smiles tugging at their lips while they help each other undress. They stop and stand like that, naked one in front of the other, the street lights filtering from between the curtains bathing Charles’ skin, making him glow. His eyes, in this light, dark blue like the ocean. His lips red and shining and inviting. Erik runs his hands carefully over Charles’ cheeks, his neck, his shoulders, down his arms. Grabs his hands, squeezes them.

“You’re perfect” he says softly. Charles smiles fondly up to him.

“And you’re perfect too”

He leans down and kisses those sinfully red lips, and they walk backwards until Charles is sitting on the bed, and then lying, and then Erik is all over him.

They make love slower than ever. Erik kisses everywhere, from Charles’ toes to his ankles, and knees, then his thighs, and his hips, all the way up to his chest, and his hands, elbows, shoulders. His collarbones, his strong neck, his defined jaw. He spends a lifetime mapping that body and its topography with his lips, saving every little noise, every gasp, ever sigh to mind. Thinking this is yours, this moment, this body, this amazing person is yours, he loves you, he gives himself to you. Thinking he has to cherish this privilege, cherish Charles forever, because it’s the best thing that he could ever imagine having.

He never thought proceeding so slowly could be so arousing, but it is. He can barely breathe by the time he finally penetrates Charles, both of them sweating, flushed, and in the brink of falling apart. But still he takes his time, he goes slowly, not rushing his pace. Charles is reduced to a mess of gasps and soft moans, lips right next to Erik’s ear, warm and moist, offering the most erotic noises Erik has ever heard.

“I love you, Erik” and that’s how he comes, with his pace increasing a little, his breath caught in his throat, and Charles gasping those words right into his ear. Soft. Intimate. Raw. He kisses Charles even before his breath is back, even before his vision returns from the white pleasure that has blinded him.

“I love you, Charles” he whispers back into those lips, parted in a silent gasp as Erik’s fingers wrap around Charles’ cock, and bring him right over the edge, those blue eyes looking right into him and then closing, head thrown back. Erik kisses the warm column of Charles’s throat while the other trembles, spasms of pleasure running through his limbs, Erik still moving his hand slowly, carefully, noticing how Charles tightens around his spent member.

He leans his forehead against Charles’ shoulder when he stops shaking and starts breathing more normally. Swallowing fast a couple of times, he feels his throat tighten, painfully, and he knows this feeling. It’s not something that happens often, actually it rarely has happened at all in years, and yet here they are. Tears.

“Erik?” Charles probably feels them, or feels something, because he’s hugging him tightly against himself, a hand caressing Erik’s wet short hair.

“I’m never letting you go, I would die if I did” he whispers. He feels bare, his soul open for Charles to watch. He’s never been so vulnerable, or so honest.

“I’ll never go anywhere” he hears Charles answer right into his hair “I’m not suicidal, I can’t live without you anymore”

Erik would laugh. He would chuckle and say they’re so silly, so cliché, saying such things, so deep, after such tender lovemaking, just like in romantic comedies. But no, he can’t laugh, because this is real, this is his life, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. There’s a moment to be hard, there’s a moment to be cold, there’s a moment to fight.

There’s a moment to pull the barriers down. To cross new bridges. To love. To be loved. And this is that moment.

Charles is that moment.

They fall asleep tangled into each other, Charles’ lips on his head, his arms around his shoulders. He’s never felt that safe. He’s never felt that right.


He’s going to puke.

He’s going to faint, fall and open his head on the sidewalk, then puke and die a bloody, disgusting mess. The newspapers will have a field day about it: ‘Young conductor, famous for scoring the love of hottest rock star Erik Lehnsherr, dies a bloody mess at his step door, right before doing something important with his life’.

“Charles, stop fucking pacing!” he looks up from where he’s been walking in circles at his living room to find Raven sitting at the couch.

“Raven” he answers, as if noticing her for the first time “You look gorgeous” and she does. She’s wearing a beautiful strapless silver-blue mermaid dress, her hair in a classy updo with some strands framing her face, and gorgeous aquamarine dangling earrings. Hank is sitting next to her, in his dark three piece suit, grabbing her hand. They’ve been together for a month and a half now, and Charles is delighted for his sister. “Hank, I’m glad you’re with my sister, my good man” Hank blushes and smiles.

“Shit, Charles, have you lost it now?” Raven stands up and walks until she’s in front of him “hold it together, brother! I know this is big, but you need to calm the fuck down”

“Raven, those words are unbecoming on the mouth of such an elegant lady” he answers, and Raven snorts. Well, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, after all.

But she’s right, this is big, this is huge, humongous! Tonight he’s going to be conducting a full orchestra, and not any orchestra, but the freaking London Philharmonic Orchestra, with freaking fifty-six members, some of them former professors of his when he was studying at the Royal Academy of music, and it’s too much, too much, he needs air, he needs Erik, and air, and…

“Charles, chill, breathe, okay? You’re getting all pale” Raven puts a hand on his shoulder “Let’s walk outside and…” just then the doorbell rings, and he practically runs and yanks the door open, and there’s Erik, wonderful Erik, impeccably dressed in a three piece suit that isn’t the classical one, since it has leathery pants and leather panels on the jacket’s shoulders. He looks edgy and classy at the same time. He looks perfect.

“Hey” Erik says, surprised at the sudden way he opened the door, but smiling looking at Charles.

“Thank gods you’re here” he throws himself on Erik’s arms, and that’s it, he can breathe now. Close his eyes and breathe.

“are you okay?” Erik asks softly. Charles nods.

“My ass he’s okay, he’s having an aneurysm” he hears Raven behind them. He would complain but, well, she’s kind of right. Erik chuckles.

“Charles Xavier, nervous? Unheard of” Erik caresses his back, and he’s thinking on asking if Erik can be up there, at the stage, with him, caressing his back just like this, please.

“I may be a little bit, yes. Bordering on hysterical” he whispers. Erik laughs.

“Don’t be nervous, Schatz. You’re going to be wonderful” he feels Erik kissing the top of his head.

“You don’t know that, you haven’t heard it yet!”

“And whose fault is that?” it’s his, he’s forbidden Erik from going to his rehearsals, wanting to surprise him on the actual concert. He’s regretting it now. “Either ways, it’s the fucking Philharmonic, and even I know about them. Plus, I know how good you are, you damn magical prodigy boy”

“Shut up” but he’s smiling, and leaning up to kiss Erik’s lips.

“Well this is all nice and cheeky, but we should get going. You have a final sound test and it’s almost time for it, and we have a dinner to attend before the show!” Raven interrupts them, and all the nerves come back again.

“Don’t you let go of my hand even if you have to cut it off” he whispers to Erik, and the other laughs, embracing him, and together they walk out into the freezing December afternoon, into Hank’s car, and on their way to the Royal Albert Hall.

He almost doesn’t make it inside because he’s too impressed to be here, even entering by the back door, and he’s sure he’s going to puke and faint for real when Erik has to let go of his hand, since he’s not allowed to join him in the sound check. Stupid him and his wish to surprise Erik.

But somehow it gets better from there on. The orchestra members are in high spirits, chatting up and joking, but at the same time serious and professional. The sound check is splendid, it all sounds solid and together, and he thinks damn it all, this is going to be amazing, and he’s going to enjoy it if it’s the last thing he does.

Backstage he spends half the time getting changed into his suit, a D&G black fitted tailored tuxedo with grey details at the collar that he’s spent too much money on, and the other half sending Whatsapp texts to Erik, who answers them instantly. It’s calming knowing Erik is close by, having a drink at the Hall’s bar, probably being his charming self and having all cameras on him. Because there are some cameras, BBC wanting all the events of this series of concerts recorded for the telly. No, don’t think on that Charles, don’t think about it.

It’s time. The hall is full, he can hear the chatter. The orchestra members are in line, waiting to go out to the stage. There’s electricity in the air, and it’s suffocating, or intoxicating. He can’t discern. Nerves are going to choke him, but he’s breathing slowly, playing with his bowtie, just breathing, and thinking this is it, this is what he’s always wanted, and he’s not going to mess it up by being nervous. Doors open, the orchestra members walk out, and there’s a thunderous applause. He shakes his hands, jumps a couple of times, loses his stiff limbs, breathes deeply. All the members are sitting down, the applause has died down.

He walks out.

It’s all a blur. He walks in the middle of deafening applause, stands at the podium, as tall as he manages, as calm as he is able to. Looks at Pieter Schoeman, the leading first violin, and to Katalin Varnagy, who was his teacher at the Royal Academy. They both nod, and wink, and smile. He smiles back. He looks at his piano soloist, another young promise called Pavel Kolesnikov, and nods.

Time to fly.

The piano starts, slow, careful. Scared. Building up the tension. The hall is so silent Charles feels goosebumps on his skin, the notes vibrating on every fibre of his being. He breathes deeply, raises his baton. String section starts playing the main melody.

It’s exhilarating to be the piece unifying all this together, to have all this instruments, all this amazing professionals following his lead. To be the commander of such a melody, the music beating at his tempo, flowing through his fingers. And this piece, this piece means so much to him. He’s always felt a connection with the life of Rachmaninoff, and now even more, what with his life turning the way it has thanks to Erik.
Wonderful, sweet Erik, who’s seating on the first box to his right, who’s dressed in his best suit for him, leaving his hard cover, his cold walls aside for him. Who has opened his eyes to a world bigger than he had imagined, who has showed him new paths, new music to enjoy, to listen, to play. Who has taught him to not be afraid, to pull his walls down and jump forward, to be brave.

Wonderful Erik, who loves him for who he is.

His soul is aching. The first movement, Moderato, is a chant to pain, to endurance, to fear, and it’s like hearing himself in his past, his fears, his closed-mindedness. And then, how it changes, how it evolves and opens in a desperate cry just like himself did.

It’s in his skin, in his nerves, the first movement final crescendo. Pavel is beyond amazing, and the string section is flowing as if in a perfect dream, all together in a single movement, like birds flying, and he could cry, cry at the wonder of this moment, at having made it until here.

No applause, as it has to be done, and the second movement, adagio sostenuto, starts. Soft, melancholic, romantic. His mind flies back to Erik, and how much his life has changed since he met the rocker back in February. It hasn’t even been a year and yet this has been more altering than any other experience in his life. And he can’t avoid thinking on that cheesy song that used this movement as base music, that All by myself hit, and think how he understands it too. He doesn’t want to be all by himself ever again. He doesn’t want to be without Erik.

And the third and final movement, adagio scherzando, arrives. Time to stir the fire. Time to go big. This is the final liberation, an exclamation of freedom, and he’s going to yell with all his power. Because now he’s free like he’s never been, and he wants the world to know it.

At the short piano solo, he looks at the orchestra members, and smiles. He’s so grateful, so much. The main melody takes over again, and he’s riding on it, his hands caressing the notes, the cadences.

This is his dream. This is all he’s ever wanted, and more, because Erik is there, right there, sharing this with him.

This is him, baring his soul to the world, to Erik. This is his voice. Screaming, for the first time, in happiness.
Free.

The tempo increases, the piano notes fly in the air to the reverently silent hall that he’s almost forgotten about. It’s only him, and the music, and Erik in his thoughts.

The main melody flows again from the string section, almost like a physical caress, and it’s coming to an end. He doesn’t want it, he doesn’t want this to end, he wants to be here, at the front of this orchestra, in this hall, with this music, forever. So he closes his eyes, breathes deep and tries hard not to cry, not to let those emotions run free, because they’re almost out of his skin.

But it’s inevitable.

The orchestra members look at him, only a couple of minutes of song left. The building to the final crescendo starts, and there are tears in his eyes, and he’s thanking them all, all these musicians, all his teachers, everyone who made possible for him to be here, now. And this is it.

The piano rises, rises, alone in a chant to happiness, flying free. He lifts his arms. Holds his breath. The whole orchestra singing the main melody in unison at his command, ecstatic and triumphant, and the tears are falling. He’s smiling, and it hurts to smile so much, and it’s wonderful. His heart is singing, his mind is singing.

Time to finish this, and he’s finishing knowing no one is going to forget this for a while. At least, he won’t. Ever.

He breathes in the silent hall for half a second, his hands not moving, still in the air. It’s only a heartbeat, and then there’s thunderous applause, and whistling, and people standing. He’s made it. He’s made it.

He’s made this his place.


He’s rushing through the halls, maybe he’s even running, he can’t be sure, but he can’t wait another second without seeing Charles.

That performance has shaken him to his core. It felt like being poked right into his heart.

Charles was a vision, a king in his dark tuxedo, with his straight pose. He was the perfect example of dignity, of class. Of elegance. And he was so powerful, a sole figure at the head of so many others, a small army of instruments looking up to him for guidance. And he commanded so well, so perfectly, so cleanly. Erik has been speechless since the first second Charles walked out to the stage until now. He knew Charles was a force to reckon with, something else, something wonderful. He didn’t know just how special he really is. A rare gift to humankind, really.

He’s finally backstage, showing his special pass to be let in, and he passes through people chatting and laughing and congratulating each other, but there’s only one person he wants to meet.

And there he is. His little musical miracle, chatting with the piano player in the middle of the hall. Wide smile and red eyes and a light into them that’s absorbing Erik, calling to his soul. He practically runs to him when Charles looks up and sees him.

“Erik” he doesn’t answer. He just walks right into Charles and embraces him as tight as he can. He doesn’t trust his voice yet, so he’s not going to talk.

Charles hugs him back, tight, tighter, and there are no words, none at all. Just them, the embrace, and nothing else in the world. He feels Charles shaking and he thinks probably he’s crying, but so what, he thinks he’s crying too. They stay like that for minutes. Hours. Finally, he breaks the embrace, and leaning his head down, looks into Charles’ eyes. Gorgeous, shining blue eyes, filled with an emotion there are no existing words to describe.

“Charles, that was....” he can’t explain it, but Charles’ smiles. He understands “I love you so much” and he leans all the way down until their lips touch.

“I was thinking about you all the time” Charles whispers once they break apart, hugging him close again.

“...I have no words to answer to that” so he kisses Charles again, who laughs against his lips. He surrounds Charles’ waist, lifts him up, laughs with him. He lied though; he does have the perfect words to that.

But he knows it’s too soon to be proposing, after all. Even if it’s only a question of time for it to happen.

ch04-2


Tokyo. He loves Tokyo. It’s so different from everywhere else, it’s impossible to feel out of place. Like, there’s a little of everything here, so. It all fits. It all has a place.

The lights are on and he can see the immensity of the Saitama Super Arena. The crowd is jumping and yelling. He’s sweating, but there’s a smile on his face. He loves this rush. This adrenaline is his drug.

“Our next song is one that has been really well received here” he wonders if they can understand him. His English is pretty accented, and their English is even more accented, but well, this is how it is “it’s called ‘til the stars don’t shine” The crowd goes wild. He grins. He knows they love this song.

Logan beats his drums in a fast way while the yelling stops.

“Yes, I know, we need someone else for this song, right?” The yelling goes even crazier. Seems they do understand him “Please welcome the amazingly talented Charles Xavier!!”

It’s thunderous. Charles walks out, a grin on his face, a violin and its bow in his hands, waving to the crowd. Erik’s chest fills with pride, like in every other city they have played together in the same stage this last year, when their schedules let them play together.

The song they had co-written was a success, number one in alternative lists in a lot of countries, top ten in a lot of others, and bringing Charles to play the violin part has made the majority of the Not Heroes fan base adore the British man, almost to the point where he’s considered another band member. Erik couldn’t be happier.

He looks at Charles, who is putting the already plugged electrical violin under his jaw, on his shoulder, and lifting his bow. The classical player looks at Erik, winks, grins.

Lights go out. Crowd goes mad.

Music starts.