[personal profile] aeshna_uk
Title: Schronisko
Author: Aeshna
Fandom: X-Men: First Class
Rating: PG, slash
Word count: 2,386
Characters: Erik, Charles, Raven, Alex, Sean
Summary: It wouldn't be easy. But the things most worth the effort rarely were.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no matter how many comics and toys I buy! Everything here belongs to Marvel and Fox.
Notes: Written as a pinch-hit for the 2011 Summer Fic Exchange on [livejournal.com profile] erik_charles. Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] cylin for the beta – any remaining weirdnesses are mine. Feedback of any variety is very much appreciated but not compulsory – I'll post anyway! I've suffered for my art, now it's your turn....



"If I never have to look at another piece of bloody paperwork again in my life, I swear it will be too soon!"

Erik looked up from where he was idly toying with a now-unrecognisable teaspoon as Charles dropped into the chair beside him, flopping dramatically forward to rest his forehead on the battered surface of the kitchen work table. He snorted. "So how is the application going? You don't usually work so late into the evening."

"I don't want to talk about it," the telepath muttered against wood, then raised his head and pushed his hands back through his already-disarrayed hair. "I mean, I have the funding, I have the facilities, I have a doctorate – from Oxford – for crying out loud! How many hoops do I need to jump through in order to open this place up as a school? My thesis was shorter than some of the forms I'm having to fill in!" He scowled at the table top. "And less fiddly in the detail!"

"Red tape." Erik raised his coffee cup in mock salute and twisted the teaspoon into a slender, writhing ribbon that floated several inches in the air. "The curse of the civilised world...."

"It's not funny – it's going to take me weeks. Averting nuclear bloody Armageddon was a walk in the park compared to –" Charles stopped and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, Erik – how was your day?"

"Long," Erik said succinctly. The steel ribbon dropped to the table and curled up into a tight ball, its surface rippling in the artificial light – dusk was already an hour past, the world beyond the windows turned to inky blackness. "The basement conversions are going well now that Alex and Sean have stopped bickering but the plumbing issues have been proving to be... challenging."

"Ah." Charles frowned. "So you've not been able to work out what's causing the flooding in the East Wing bathrooms? Hank will be disappointed. Although, given the age of some of the fittings in the mansion –"

"Quite. I've been to countries younger than some of the pipework in this place." Erik took a mouthful of coffee, gesturing with his cup as he continued. "There are more joints corroded than not, some of the limescale is positively terrifying, the water pressure is apparently randomised every hour, and I'm only amazed that more pipes didn't burst during the winter – which is saying something – and... what?"

Charles smiled at him, leaning his chin on the heel of one hand. His brown hair flopped boyishly over his forehead and Erik resisted the urge to brush it back into place. "Nothing. It's just... it's rather endearing, the way you get so passionate about the plumbing."

Erik raised an eyebrow. "I'm not sure that 'passionate' is the word I'd use," he said dryly – he'd spent much of the day restraining himself from ripping the offending pipework out of the walls and just tying it into a knot. Possibly around someone's throat. "But you'll be pleased to hear that after considerable effort and some rather inventive use of copper wire, I did eventually succeed in unblocking the drain in the second floor bathroom, which appears to have solved the flooding issue. And I think I've identified a way to stop it from happening again – I have some of the others working on that now."

"Really? That's excellent news!" Charles beamed and reached across to lay a hand on Erik's arm. "This old place has been rather neglected over the years but now, well, it's as if it's finally coming back to life after a long hibernation." He looked down, moving his fingers to stroke the pale skin at Erik's wrist in a slow, circular caress. "Thank you," he said, his smile settling into something more gentle. "Truly. For the plumbing and the support and, well, for staying."

Erik shifted, a little uncomfortably – he was never quite certain how to respond to Charles when he was in this mood. "It wasn't as if I had anywhere else to go," he said gruffly, watching as the former teaspoon coiled and contorted itself in fluid undulations. "Just here."

Charles chuckled quietly. "You're not the sort of man that needs anywhere, my friend."

"True enough." Erik shrugged, thinking for a moment of his childhood home in Poland, the last place where he had known any sort of stability. Any sense of family. He cleared his throat and let the twisting metal fall still. "But this place is as good as any and better than most. Wszędzie dobrze, ale w domu najlepiej."

"Thank you," Charles said again, his blue eyes earnest as he covered Erik's hand with his. "I know this isn't quite what you expected but... it's not such a bad life, is it?"

Erik snorted softly. "I don't think I ever thought much beyond Schmidt's death," he admitted, not for the first time. "If I expected anything, it was that I wouldn't survive the attempt. I almost didn't."

"Oh, Erik...."

Erik looked down at where their hands lay together on the table, remembering the months of slow recovery from the injuries he'd taken in Cuba, the bedrest and the broken ribs and the tendency to piss blood from his battered kidneys, all accompanied by the equally debilitating realisation that he was finally free of his burden, his vengeance complete, and that he had precisely no idea of what to do next. And so he had stayed, slowly healing and grieving for his long-lost family and the life he might have had. And then it had been winter and he had been hopelessly out of condition, so he had made himself useful around the mansion as a way of simply keeping himself active until spring. And then Charles had –

No, he hadn't expected this. Not at all.

"We've all come a long way from where we were," he said roughly, turning his hand so that he could raise Charles's to his lips, pressing a kiss against the knuckles. "There's no harm in any of us staying still for a while."

Charles looked at him, his gaze fond. "I came down here for some tea, but this calls for something stronger, I think." He snatched a pair of mismatched glasses from the drainer and then crouched to open one of the lower cupboards, rummaging in the back for a moment before emerging with a half-empty bottle of whiskey. "Here," he said, pouring two generous measures before pushing a glass in front of Erik. "A toast. To all who call this place home, and to all those who will once I have finally vanquished the damned paperwork!"

Erik raised his drink and huffed a laugh. "Ever the optimist, Charles...."

"Somebody has to be. And given what we've achieved so far, a few forms aren't going to stop me now." Charles sat down again, cradling his own drink. "You're right," he said after a moment, his expression thoughtful. "We have all come a long way, my friend, you far more than most, and this story is only just beginning. Who knows what wonders and perils we might find out there?"

"We can't know. And that is why we must train them to be prepared," Erik said firmly. "We don't know what might prove to be a threat in the future. We have to protect as well as guide."

"Teach them to fight, you mean." Charles looked pained. "I know, I know," he said, holding up a forestalling hand. "I'm not going to argue with you, not tonight, but you'll have to forgive me if I don't include a provision for a paramilitary wing on the application forms."

Erik quirked a smile, letting the old argument slide for now. "Nudziarz."

"I'll trust that that wasn't too rude." Charles sighed, toying with his glass. "But I mean it. Sometimes when I think of how far we've come, you and me, in so little...." He trailed off, then chuckled softly. "I think what I'm trying to say is, Happy Anniversary, my friend. A year to the day since I found you trying to fish for submarines off the coast of Florida."

"A year?" Erik blinked, then reached to tap his glass against Charles's. "Already?"

"I know – time flies...." Charles sipped his whiskey, then raised the glass again. "A year," he said decisively. "Here's to many more ahead of us – may they be happy, healthy and peaceful."

"To the future." Erik let the taste of the alcohol distract him from the suspicion that that fondly-imagined future might not be entirely smooth between them – raw adrenaline had carried him out of the wrecked submarine in Cuba but his injuries meant that he'd barely had the strength to snatch the humans' missiles from the air, exploding each piece of ordinance in place instead of sending it straight back the way it had come. He'd wanted to, though. Badly. And if he were faced with that same situation again, he knew that he wouldn't hesitate to do what was necessary to protect his own.

He had lost two families to bigotry, watched his mother and his daughter die – he was damned if he was going to lose a third. Charles, though....

The scrape of wood on tile pulled Erik from his thoughts and he set his glass on the table as Charles moved to his side, cupping his cheek and leaning in for a gentle kiss. "Our future might yet be bright, my friend," he murmured, moving his fingers up to trace the lines of the glass scars above Erik's eye. "Sometimes the worst doesn't come to pass."

"Charles...."

"There are times, Erik, when you're an open book – you feel everything so strongly that the tenor of your emotions bleeds over." A soft chuckle, another careful press of lips. "No, not a book – it's like hearing the melody of a song but not the words."

"Hmm." Erik pulled the other man into his lap. "Wait until later and I'll show you a symphony," he growled.

"Promises, promises...." Charles leaned in for another kiss, his lips lingering this time as they each breathed the other's scent. This, Erik knew, was something else that wouldn't make it onto Charles's hated forms but he couldn't bring himself to care in that moment, not with their mouths moving against each other and Charles's arms wrapping around him, his hands stroking warm lines across his back, sliding down to untuck his shirt and sweep against skin....

"Years ahead of us," Charles said softly, pulling back. "We can make them count, my friend, just you wait and see...."

Erik groaned and tugged Charles back into the kiss, wanting to believe him and yet... not quite able to set aside the lessons of hard-won experience for the fine words of his friend's hopeless idealism. Still, no matter. It was their differences that made them all the stronger together and –

Shh, stop thinking so loudly, said a familiar voice in Erik's head – Charles, alas, was hard to shut up even with his mouth quite thoroughly occupied. My head still hurts from all the bureaucracy.

Self-inflicted injury, Erik sent back with a wash of affection and a heady sense of home that went deeper than just bricks and mortar and questionable plumbing, a sense that, perhaps, this might just work. A year ago he had been a vengeful, driven loner, but now....

It wouldn't be easy. But the things most worth the effort rarely were.

Charles moaned happily and returned a burst of pride and contentment as he shifted in Erik's arms, deepening the kiss... and then jerked back with a jolt of sudden alarm, barely making it back to his own seat before the kitchen door burst open.

"Erik! There you are! We've got everything you said." Raven was dragging an old upright vacuum cleaner into the kitchen; behind her, Alex and Sean were clutching carpet beaters and wearing identical expressions of slightly manic glee. Sean had acquired an over-large pith helmet from somewhere in the house and had it perched jauntily atop his red curls. "So, are we doing this?"

Charles just stared at them. "Doing what, exactly?" he enquired cautiously.

"Solving the second floor bathroom issue," Erik supplied, pushing himself up and adjusting his clothing carefully. "I pulled enough of Hank's winter pelt from the drains to knit a cover for the Blackbird – I'd rather not have to do it again. So we're going to tackle the problem at source and help him along with the shedding process."

"Yeah." Raven grinned, a flash of white on blue. "There's a lot of fuzz on that boy and I'm fed up with finding it floating in my breakfast cereal."

"The other option was to shave him bald," Erik told Charles. "But I thought you might have issues with more than one naked blue person running around the mansion." He shrugged. "Seeing as you've only just stopped complaining about the one we already have."

"Oh god." Charles picked up his glass and drained it in one. This is hardly appropriate behaviour, Erik! You should be setting an example! Hank is a valued member of this household and –

And you didn't have to clear the drains, Professor Paperwork. "I promise we won't do any permanent damage," he added aloud, " but hopefully we can get the message about thorough grooming regimes across. Preferably before he goes anywhere near the showers again. And you never know, he might enjoy it."

"Doubt it," Alex snickered, waving his carpet beater and almost dislodging Sean's hat. "And no cheating and telling him we're coming, Prof!"

"Oh god," Charles said again, knocking back Erik's drink as well. Just so you know, he told him as the youngsters headed back out into the hallway, I am not going to rescue any of you from Hank if he objects to your little plan. And I'm expecting a full orchestral arrangement of that symphony you mentioned earlier....

Erik stopped at the door and smiled back at him. "Zgoda," he said softly. "I'll see you later. We have an anniversary to celebrate, after all."

It was only when Erik had gone that Charles looked down and realised that the ruined teaspoon was now in the shape of a small and shining heart.

~ fin ~

Date: 2012-01-25 06:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raffi.livejournal.com
The last line THE LAST LINE!

ALL THE FEELINGS!

Oh Smitty, you brilliant woman, you! ♥

Date: 2014-11-17 07:14 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] braitty.livejournal.com
I agree with Charles. There is to many forms and red tape. Aww. Erik made him a heart. ♥ Poor Hank. I hope he doesn't end up with a poodle haircut.

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February 2012

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