redders: (comic beef)
[personal profile] redders
I had a few tumblr fics over the last week or so, but never got around to posting over here, and sort of don't feel up to posting to AO3 in the range of "anytime soon". The prompt post I made is over here, basically it was an askbox prompt meme with different quotes. If anyone wants to put a new one in my ask/in a comment at any time, of course I'd be happy to fill another one.

"Get off the road!"
---

As usual, Charles was nearly the last person to hear about it.

No matter how many times it’s happened since ‘72, it’ll still never stop driving him up the wall to learn about the latest Ridiculous Dramatic Megalomaniac Gesture through the bloody news.

Luckily, Boston isn’t a far flight in the Blackbird. Less-than-luckily, the Erik of today is as embarrassingly self-centered and camera-hungry as he was forty years back, and he’s still in the middle of I-90.

Charles manages to dissuade the press conference from targeting him as he approaches. It helps, of course, that they’re rather distracted by a mass of enraged commuters, three of his students, Emma Frost (who, Charles would like stated for the record, should actually be managing all Magneto-related crises in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), and Erik himself.

And everyone’s outfits. Not for the first time, Charles wonders if there’s a strong genetic link between mutation and appalling taste.

"Erik," he calls out, once he’s within earshot. Erik has elected to wear the helmet. Some days, Charles is sure he’s only still using it to maximize his viewership: even if the next day’s headlines are all Xavier and Mags at it Again!, Erik has taken the adage “any press is good press” completely to heart.

Turning toward him, arms swept out in a gesture of ludicrous grandeur, Erik looks quite prepared to start in with his usual “so kind of you to join us, Charles,” speech; and he gets as far as “ah, so kind—” before Charles interrupts.

"Get off of the road."

You look a fool, he wants to add; but it’s rather implied, and he’s not willing to see himself on every network in what’ll be broadcast as part five-hundred-and-seventy-three of the ongoing (and entirely public) marital strife of the two most powerful mutants in the nation.

There’s a brief moment where Erik slouches a bit, as if wounded by Charles’s dismissal, but he corrects for it swiftly, bringing a hand up to gesture back a few police cruisers.

"Not," he states, gesturing aside a few other cars less because it’s necessary and more as it makes his cape sweep in a way he no doubt believes is fetching, "until my conditions are met."

Charles does not roll his eyes. He’s far enough off that Erik wouldn’t notice, and he’s not chancing that one of the press wouldn’t catch it on tape, telepathic interference or no.

He doesn’t even want to ask what the conditions are. It’s either going to be entirely impossible (in which case, why ask) or entirely reasonable but sure not to be honored (in which case, it’s just depressing), and that’s about when he hears the quacking.

"I—um," he starts, which is a bit humiliating as the cameras have turned near him.

Not on him, though. Just about everyone—himself, the press, the police, Emma Frost, and the handful of commuters not overcome with rage—are entirely focused on one duck.

One duck, and eight tiny ducklings.

Erik makes a broad sweep with one arm, as if to summon the ducks across six lanes of interstate. That seems to be where they’re headed, anyway, and while Charles is entirely sure that any creature that attempts to walk across the few miles of interstate not underground is meant to be removed from the gene pool, he has the impression that saying so won’t win him any favors.

Nonetheless.

"Ducklings," he can’t help saying. "Isn’t this a bit… cliche?"

Erik keeps arm outstretched. The ducklings continue across the road. The cameras follow them, and Erik’s no doubt framed in the background of half the shots.

Charles sighs, as it’s not like anyone’s going to notice. Privately, he also finds this whole ruse a bit endearing—but he’s not about to say so. Yes, maybe this’ll win Erik some points with the media.

But if he wants to flirt with Charles, he can do so properly—not by forcibly holding up traffic for a few ducks with a deathwish—and as he heads back to the Blackbird he sends Emma one last message reminding her that jet fuel isn’t exactly as cheap as it once was.

Whether or not she cares, well. That’s another matter. All the same, he waits til he’s just about out of her range to send the last:

But do feel free to call me, he tells her, if he’s planning something more fowl.

---

Sometimes I want to be alone, but right now I need you.
---

"I am not dying," Charles says, knowing full well the argument’s futile.

Erik’s silent, the background noise coming over the phone disclosing not much at all about where he’s at and whether or not he’s creating some pocket wormhole from there to the downtown mutant health clinic.

"Believe me, I’d tell you if I were," he continues. If he’s hearing anything at all, he reasons, the cell’s probably not being dragged through a rift in space-time. Probably.

"I have my doubts on that," is what Erik replies. Charles attempts, with middling success, not to sigh. Yes, okay, so he’d not be terribly likely to tell Erik anything serious if he were still anywhere less than in direct telepathic range, but—

"Just drive safely," he begs. Just drive, period, he’s thinking. Last thing Charles wants today is a few shots of his boyfriend hovering over traffic on the evening news.

When Erik shows up at the clinic, it’s a reassuring quarter-hour later. Charles hadn’t made an appointment—something like this, comes as a bit of a surprise—and so he’s still waiting to get called back. Soon, hopefully. Erik’s mind is honed in on him, save for the undercurrent of maybe i should corner the doctors, and Charles would quite prefer this to all go on without incident.

"My darling," he starts, just as Erik sits beside him with an expression that makes Charles forget the rest of his speech.

"Charles," Erik says. He’s leaning forward, hands on his knees, like he’s about to spring up again—like he’s holding himself together.

"You never want me with you, here."

The instinct to deny that is so immediate and strong, Charles gets as far as “Erik, that is not—” before his brain manages to catch up with his mouth. He goes silent abruptly, shaking his head.

Because, well. It’s true. He’s had hundreds of clinic and hospital visits in the time he’s been with Erik, ever since the accident.

Save for the bit where he was in coma, he’s never been exactly welcoming to anyone.

As in, anyone at all.

As in, Erik.

"I. Well." He stares at his own hands, folded nervously around a travel mug half-full of cold decaf tea.

"Sometimes I want to be alone," he allows, before looking back up at Erik. "But right now, I need you."

Erik reaches over, putting one hand on Charles’s arm. His expression is rather indescribable, gentle as Erik’s apt to get and therefore fierce and devoted, as well.

"Of course—"

"It’s different," Charles interrupts. He can’t help pulling away, the attention as bristling as it was eight years ago, as it is every time he’s wheeling up the damned back ramp to this place.

It’s the most bittersweet blessing that Erik’s used to it, so used to it he just lets Charles retreat, shifting back into the old vinyl of the waiting room chair.

Charles gives him an apologetic half-smile. With any luck, he thinks, the cheap store-brand test was right.

And, with any luck, these clinic visits might just start becoming a little more pleasant.

---

"I didn’t know you could do that."
---

"Ninety-eight percent," Charles manages, having stared at the screen for what seems like an hour.

"You did well enough," Erik replies. Waving one hand slightly, the controller levitates a bit. Not that it needs to—Erik could very well manipulate the console itself without using the controller at all—but by now, it’s old habit.

It was a welcome turn of the tables, when they started doing this. After two decades (okay, one—it doesn’t count if Erik’s in solitary) of being accused of cheating every single time they played chess, it was eminently satisfying to dismiss Erik’s ridiculous Bubble Bobble scores on simple electronic interference.

Naturally, the Nintendo he’d bought for the game room had always been intended for the students and not, say, for his supposed nemesis. And while it was, indeed, quite popular with the kids (enough so that Charles found himself spending a frustrating amount of money on new consoles and games whenever someone decided to do the transdimensional equivalent of throwing the controller at the television)… Somehow, here he and Erik were.

Sneaking into the game room at three in the morning, like they’ve done for the last two decades.

"Eighty-five percent is perfectly respectable," Erik is reassuring, as he pages idly through the list of songs.

Now that their scores are off the screen, he can’t stop staring at Erik.

"On medium. You were playing on expert!”

Erik shrugs, one-shouldered and dismissive. Charles can’t even get annoyed with Erik’s thoughts, which are entirely well naturally i have always been better at games of skill.

Adjusting the guitar again, feeling self-conscious about holding it—he never had learned to play, though it was a nice trick in college, projecting the illusion that he could—Charles can’t even pay enough attention to the screen to “help” Erik choose an appropriate next song.

"I didn’t know you could do that," he says, still a bit in awe. This isn’t a bit like getting trounced in Mario Kart.

"Do what?"

"Sing, what do you think?"

Erik looks back at him, raising an eyebrow.

"It’s not really singing. You just have to get the pitch right," Erik explains, like he didn’t just get a near-perfect score singing a rather impressive rendition of Gimme Shelter, and Charles smiles, picking up the guitar again to quickly choose the next song.

"Charles, I am not—"

"You chose the last one," Charles interrupts, as the drums start up, "and besides, we’ll need more data to see if your pitch hypothesis holds."

Shooting Charles one last glare, Erik turns back to the screen and starts singing.

He’s far too competitive, Charles knows, to back down from any challenge. And with this song?

There’s enough time to gloat, briefly, over Erik’s struggle with Geddy Lee’s vocal range before he has to start struggling with the fake guitar, hoping for a slightly more impressive score now that he’s no longer going to be quite so distracted by the talent Erik’s apparently kept hidden all these years.

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