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I forgot to mention the last time I posted that this time of the year is exceedingly busy, so these chapters won't be posted quite as fast as the last series. That should change once we get past the holiday season.


Title: Love's Own Crown (3/?)
Series: The Sonnet Series (aka the sequel to An Ideal Grace)
Rating: NC-17 (see told you)
Pairing: Charles/Erik
Fandom: XMFC (non powered, modern AU)
Summary: Follows An Ideal Grace, in which Charles and Erik navigate the complexities of their new relationship.

Thanks to [personal profile] stlkrchck for both the New York info and the photographs in this chapter. As always, the poetry is compliments of the lovely [personal profile] afrocurl

Back to chapter 2



large hands
break
bend
grip

never nurturing,
always punishing

leaving

damage

inside, out
mental, physical

scares
to imprint
hatred
uncertainty.

Hands, by Erik Lehnsherr, October 2011

~*~


Charles had a freckle on the back of his neck. No, it was larger than a freckle, though not big enough to be a mole. It was adorable, whatever it was. Erik chuckled at the thought. Had he ever found anything adorable?

The things Charles did to him.

Charles was still asleep, breath steady and even, his back a warm weight against Erik's chest. His hair tickled Erik's nose as Erik nuzzled into him, pressing his lips against the freckle. Charles sighed and shifted back in his sleep. Erik's heart lurched in his chest.

He'd known; before last night he'd known he could trust Charles with this. The few people he'd slept with after Shaw--and they were few--had been mostly anonymous, the end of single dates, the sex single-minded, driven towards a single goal, one that tended to remain outside of Erik's reach.

Shaw had only cared for one thing, and that wasn't Erik. He'd never once touched Erik with gentle hands; had never once taken the time to stretch Erik and stroke Erik, fingers twisting inside until Erik had been desperate for it. He hadn't thought it possible to hate Shaw more than he did. Apparently he was wrong.

Again, the things Charles did to him.

He'd known, somehow he'd known, that Charles would be different. Charles was Shaw's polar opposite, and exactly what Erik had wanted all those years ago. Better late than never, he supposed, letting the scent of Charles' hair fill his nose, even as he tightened the arm around Charles' waist, trapping him against Erik's chest.

He never wanted to let this man go.

And Charles was his. He'd never had anything that belonged to him, not since before his parents died. In foster care it was all hand-me-downs, things that belonged to the house, but never to him. With Shaw, it was him that had belonged to Shaw, not the other was around. But Charles; Charles was his in a way no one else had ever been. Erik pulled Charles closer.

As though drawn from slumber by the strength of Erik's grasp, Charles mumbled into the pillow, the words lost to Erik, if they'd even been words at all. Erik chuckled again, placing a kiss at the nap of Charles' neck, just below the freckle. Charles moaned. The sound went straight to Erik's dick.

It still astounded him, how quickly he'd gone from a life of abstinence and celibacy to this. Charles had awakened something in him Erik hadn't realized existed. It was as though he was making up for all of the years of his youth, experiencing lust for the first time in his adult life.

Not that he hadn't craved sex with Shaw, but it wasn't the same. He'd craved the attention and praise; the look in Shaw's eyes when Erik was spread out before him. He still enjoyed that look, heat staining his cheeks as he recalled the way Charles had looked at him, like he was the most beautiful thing Charles had ever seen.

And this wasn't helping, because at this rate they would never get out of Erik's bed. He couldn't help but rock his hips against Charles' ass, wanting the friction.

Charles let out a breathless little sigh and pressed back. "As much as this is exactly what I want to do right now," he said, voice hoarse with sleep, "I have a midterm to proctor today."

Erik grunted at that, because midterms were something he didn't have to worry about; even if he had chosen to set one rather than require term papers, he would have forced Janos to proctor in his place--the benefits of having a TA.

"Can't someone cover for you?" Erik tried, because he really, really didn't want to let Charles out of this bed.

Charles laughed; a throaty chuckle that warmed Erik in ways he hadn't thought it possible to be warmed. "I'm sorry, my friend. I'm afraid that's out of the question," he said. Erik was about to concede defeat when Charles added, "I could be persuaded to stay in bed long enough for breakfast, though."

It was Erik's turn to laugh. "What do you think this is? A five star hotel?" he asked, because even if Raven permitted food outside the kitchen and dining room, he was hardly going to serve Charles breakfast in bed. Was he?

It occurred to him, even as he said it, that Charles was undoubtedly used to such things. He'd known Charles came from money--the boarding school would have given it away, even if Professor Summers hadn't said something to the same effect, never mind that Charles had an uncle advising the Queen--but last night was the first time he'd considered what that meant. Charles' story about maids--maids, not maid--told him Charles had grown up with servants. He'd never met anyone with servants. Even Shaw had only had a cleaning lady who came in once a week.

Charles, who must have sensed Erik's change in mood, sat up abruptly. "What's the matter?" he asked. Erik shook his head.

"Sorry, just thinking. You don't really want me to make you breakfast in bed, do you?" He realized then that if Charles said yes, he would. He wouldn't even question it.

Charles, who looked momentarily horrified, shook his head. "Good God, no," he said, and then, "Tell me you're not under the impression that I'm a spoiled brat."

It was the last thing Erik would have called Charles, so he shook his head, even as he tightened his grip on Charles' waist. Charles had settled back onto the bed during their conversation, so they were now lying, nose to nose.

"Hardly, but I suspect you're accustomed to a quality of life I'm not sure I can give you."

He'd gotten about halfway through the sentence before Charles was shaking his head. "I was eighteen when my mother cut me off from the family fortune. Hell, last night I ate microwaved white rice for dinner, with take-out soy packets as seasoning. I can assure you, the quality of life I'm accustomed to is pretty much on par with starving student."

Erik laughed at that, though mostly because it reminded him of how they'd met. Knowing Charles as he did now, it was hard to imagine ever thinking Charles was a student.

He wanted to ask why Charles' mother had cut him off, because Charles' eyes had dimmed when he said it, like the episode had been particularly painful, and Erik didn't like the idea of anyone hurting his Charles. He didn't get the chance, though, because that was precisely when Charles announced that they really needed to get moving.

Erik agreed, albeit reluctantly, but he still insisted on sending Charles off with a belly full of coffee and omelet.

"What time is your appointment?" he asked sometime later, as they stood in the foyer, Charles shrugging into his coat. As if to emphasize the question, Charles' splint got caught in his sleeve. He cursed and tried to shake it free, failing miserably. Erik shook his head as he reached towards the offending garment.

"Four-thirty," Charles said, letting Erik reach up his sleeve and slowly guide his hand through.

"I can meet you there if you like. We could grab dinner."

He glanced up then, having freed Charles' hand, and found Charles smiling at him.

"Dinner sounds good," he said. It occurred to Erik that this was likely what Dr. Frost meant when she told him to slow down, to take his time getting to know Charles.

It might have been easier if she'd simply told him to date Charles.

They lingered through their goodbye, Erik getting in a handful of kisses that quickly threatened to turn heated before Charles pushed away, lips swollen and hair tussled.

"I really have to," he said, gesturing to the door. Erik forced himself to step back; to let Charles leave. It was a mark of his self-restraint that he didn't offer to walk Charles to the lobby--hell; it was a mark of his self-restraint that he didn't offer to walk Charles to the nearest subway station, or even home for that matter.

He didn't have much on the plate today, so after Charles had left--and Erik had lingered on the other side of the door, half hoping Charles had forgotten something, that he would be forced to come back and maybe then Erik could persuade him to skip proctoring that midterm--Erik went to see about getting showered and dressed; also, his sheets were in desperate need of changing. By the time he was done, Raven was just getting up, looking more than just a little rumpled.

"I'm surprised you let him leave," she said, meaning she had undoubtedly been awake and listening to their exchange by the door. Erik gave her a mock glare, which faded instantly when he took in the bags under her eyes.

"You didn't sleep," he said, because it was clear now that she hadn't. After their talk last night, he'd had no cause for alarm; hadn't even considered that anything might be bothering her.

Raven shook her head. "I did, just not well," she said, shrugging.

Erik approached her cautiously, not certain if this was something that warranted physical contact. He waited until she'd inclined her head to place a hand on her shoulder. She leaned into the contact.

"What happened?" he asked, because he hadn't asked last night--he should have asked last night--assuming from her mood that everything was fine.

"I'm fine, really," she said. She smiled then, something of last night's happiness bleeding into the gesture. Erik felt some of his tension drain. He didn't remove his hand. Raven rolled her eyes. "He held my hand, okay," she said, like that explained everything.

Erik supposed that it did. He offered her a soft, reassuring smile. She huffed out a laugh, even as she pulled back, knocking the back of her hand against his stomach.

"Did I miss breakfast?" she asked, moving towards the kitchen.

Erik chuckled, following at her heel. "What do you want?" he asked, already rooting through the fridge. With nothing on the go that morning, save perhaps a few personal errands he wanted to run later, he could take the time to make Raven breakfast.

~*~

Moira Interlude

She'd been engaged less than a week and already her mother had planned the wedding, the honeymoon, their first home purchase, and the birth of their son--never mind that Moira wasn't even pregnant, nor could she predetermine the gender of her child prior to conception, genetics degree or no genetics degree.

It was starting to drive her a little insane.

Almost as insane as Charles was driving her, Moira thought, glancing at the latest document to show up as a shared Google Doc. She added a note to Charles' latest 'worksheet', saved it, and then realized the warning was probably better repeated in person.

She'd really been hoping they were past all this; hoped that Charles would settle down and stop acting like a teenager with a crush now that he was actually sleeping with Erik. She obviously should have known better.

She remembered what he was like with Scott. She and Charles hadn't been friends at that point--though only because she was technically his adviser and she was trying to avoid a conflict of interest--but they were close enough that she'd spent the better part of months listening to Charles obsess over Scott; watching Charles practically stalk the man until, reluctantly, Scott had agreed to a date.

Granted, this was a little different. Charles had matured considerably in the last few years, and he seemed to genuinely care about Erik, so it bode well for the long-term survival of their relationship. He was still playing games, though; still scheming when what he needed to be was open and honest. He was going to scare Erik off if he wasn't careful, and Moira didn't particularly want to deal with that fallout, so she was going to do everything in her power to ensure that didn't happen.

Charles' door was ajar when she arrived at his office, Charles seated behind his desk, iPhone pressed to his ear. She paused outside the door, but when he saw her he waved her in, so Moira stepped inside.

"Yes, I realize that," Charles was saying into his phone. "But I assure you, this is your delivery person's problem." There was a pause, and then, "No, of course I'm certain I have the address right." And then, "Well, read it back to me."

At Charles' gesture, Moira claimed a seat on Charles' couch, crossing her legs as she waited. Charles was nodding.

"That's the right address." Without hearing the other end of the conversation, Moira had no idea what Charles was talking about. "I can assure you it wasn't refused. At the very least one of the staff would have signed for it."

Charles glanced up and gave Moira an apologetic smile. Moira nodded her understanding.

"Of course I want you to try again," Charles said. He sounded exasperated. "I don't see why I should have to pay two delivery charges when it's your mistake."

Moira began picking at a hangnail. She'd have to get her nails done before the wedding. She'd probably need a full manicure and pedicure while she was at it.

And now that she thought about it, the more she realized just how much work planning this wedding was going to be. Perhaps she should let her mother plan it after all.

"No, that's fine. Just charge the card you have on file." Moira tuned back in to Charles' conversation, just in time to hear him exchange several not-so-pleasant pleasantries before he disconnected the call. He tossed his iPhone down onto the desk. It landed with a thud.

"Dare I ask what you're having delivered?" Moira asked.

Charles huffed a laugh. "Flowers, actually."

For the first time in perhaps their entire acquaintance-slash-friendship, Moira was stunned into silence. It lasted only a second. "You're sending Erik flowers?" she asked, because that seemed elaborate, even for Charles.

Charles glanced up, startled. "No." He shook his head. "I'm trying to send my mother flowers, for her birthday, but apparently someone at the house refused delivery."

Moira shook her head at that, even as she breathed a sigh of relief. Still, it was something she could see Sharon doing. Actually, that wasn't entirely true. Sharon would accept the flowers, sniff her nose up in the air, and then request one of the lower humans--aka the staff--dispose of the offending things immediately.

"I have no idea why you even bother remembering that woman's birthday, let alone send her anything," she said. She and Sharon did not get on.

"I remember her birthday because it comes just after Kurt's, so when she calls to remind me about Kurt's, I make a note in my calendar that hers is coming up. I have no idea why I send her anything." Charles lifted a shoulder, the most half-hearted shrug Moira had ever seen.

She knew, though, why he sent her flowers. He was still labouring under the delusion that one day she would wake up and discover that a) she had a son and b) she loved him. Moira could have told him it would never happen, but she didn't particularly like seeing Charles cry, so she kept her mouth shut.

Instead she asked, "How did this morning's midterm go?" It seemed a safe avenue for conversation, and might make a good segue into what she really wanted to talk to him about. Charles tended to dismiss practical advice if he hadn't directly asked for it.

She had no intention of leaving this office before she set him straight on Erik.

~*~

Erik stood in the drug store and scanned the lines of condoms filling the shelf. There were far too many brands for this to be an easy decision. What brand had Charles used?

He tried to recall, but he hadn't really been paying close enough attention to remember what they'd looked like, let alone what they were called. This was probably why he didn't tend to make these decisions, but last night had come damned close to being a complete disaster and all because Erik hadn't thought to stock his house with condoms and lubricant.

It wasn't that he wasn't familiar with both. Condoms were make or break with him--had been ever since he'd told a shrink that Shaw hadn't believed in them. She'd told him that he'd needed to get himself tested for STDs. The entire incident had been so thoroughly distressing that he'd gone the next day, having the clinic test him for every STD known to man, including a few they hadn't heard of until Erik had handed over the relevant books he'd taken out from the library. After getting a clean bill of health, he vowed never to have unprotected sex again.

The two people he'd had penetrative sex with since had undoubtedly used lubricant, but Erik hadn't insisted--hadn't really considered it--the act over so quickly that Erik hadn't thought the experience worth remembering, let alone questioning. It occurred to him now that he probably should have been paying closer attention.

He settled on the plainest box of condoms he could find. Thin, regular sized, non-lubricated--because he was buying that separately--with no bells and whistles; no ribs or flavours or warming involved. Plain and simple.

Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for lubricant.

There was half a shelf devoted to the stuff, all of it garishly splashed with labels and claims. Erik stared at the space where they sat--tubes and bottles and jars--and tried to recall if any of them came close to resembling what Charles had used.

God, why hadn't he paid attention?

It occurred to him then that he'd been standing in the condom aisle contemplating his purchase for the better part of fifteen minutes now. This, he suspected, was bordering on ridiculous. It was almost a shame he still couldn't seem to make a decision.

It was then that a man--a young guy in his early twenties, about as old as Erik had first thought Charles was, before Charles had told him, with a startled laugh, that actually he was turning thirty in January--brushed past Erik to grab a package of condoms off the shelf.

They weren't the brand Erik was holding, though they seemed similarly structured. Erik began to reconsider his choice.

The man--boy, really--gave Erik an appraising look and a smile.

Erik scowled.

The boy immediately raised his hands. "Sorry man," he said, as though trying to poach what was rightfully Charles' was something that Erik could forgive.

The boy didn't wait for a response, beating a hasty retreat. He was halfway back up the aisle before it occurred to Erik that a) the boy was clearly gay and b) he hadn't hesitated for even a second before selecting his condoms.

"Wait!" Erik called, because it was either this or call Charles, and the thought of calling Charles, while pleasant in that he'd get to talk to Charles, was mortifying. Also, he suspected Charles would kill him if he called during Charles' midterm to talk about lube.

The boy paused, turning to glance over his shoulder. Erik offered what he hoped was an apologetic smile. He was fairly certain he probably just looked constipated. It was somewhat of a marvel that the boy turned and returned to Erik's side. He offered a shy smile. Erik shook his head.

"Look, I'm seeing someone, and it's serious, so I'm not interested, but I could use your help." It killed him to say it, it really did, and the only reason he did was because he would undoubtedly never, ever see this kid again.

The boy arched an eyebrow. Erik stole his courage.

"Lubricant recommendations," he said, feeling heat creep into his cheeks. The boy's second eyebrow lifted to reach the first.

There were times when Erik genuinely hated people. This was one of those times.

Especially when the boy's expression turned appraising. "I don't know who converted you, but I'd sure like to meet him," he said, and Erik immediately felt his hackles rise.

"He's spoken for," Erik said, voice a low growl. This kid had some nerve. Erik was half tempted to grab him by the back of the neck and drive his forehead into the metal shelving. Instead he let the boy raise his hands again, an appeasing gesture that did nothing to ease Erik's irritation.

"Sorry," the boy said, "just, you know; kudos to him. But seriously, you don't want to buy anything here."

Erik frowned, watching as the boy reached into a back pocket and withdrew his wallet. He fumbled with it for a minute, and then pulled out a business card.

"A friend of mine owns this place," he said, handing over a card for something called The Pleasure Chest.

Great, Erik thought, he's sending me to some perverted sex shop.

"It's actually a really respectable place, emphasis on education. They can help you out. They have a fantastic selection. The place is on 7th Avenue, just off Charles Street."

Erik's brain stuttered to a halt. There was a Charles Street in New York? Suddenly meeting this man seemed more than a little predetermined. He accepted the card.

The kid, who obviously realized Erik wasn't going to say anything else, gave a brief nod and left. Erik waited until he was around the corner to return the box of condoms he was holding to its place on the shelf. He grabbed a box of the brand the kid was buying, tucked the kid's card into his coat pocket, and then headed to the front counter. At the very least he could check condoms off his list.

Charles Street, he discovered sometime later, did exist. It was in the West Village, and was so Charles Erik found himself grinning stupidly as he walked down the sidewalk. His fellow pedestrians began giving him a wide berth.

Charles Street was a narrow street, tree lined, with rows upon rows of brownstones; a quiet little corner of the city that Erik instantly fell in love with. There were even a few rainbow flags around--not that Erik had ever cared about that, but he also didn't want to live somewhere where he wasn't wanted.

He was pulling out his Blackberry before he registered what he was doing.

"Did you know there's a Charles Street in the city?" he asked as soon as Charles answered the phone.

There was a pause on the other side of the line. It was only then that Erik thought to check his watch, but Charles' midterm should have ended half an hour ago, so he was safe.

"Did you just call me because you're on Charles Street and it reminded you of me?" Charles asked. He sounded particularly giddy. Erik's grin grew.

"I suppose I did," he said. It probably shouldn't have surprised him; everything seemed to remind Erik of Charles these days. When Charles didn't answer, he added, "It's a nice street. I bet there are some nice apartments around."

Now Charles chuckled. "I'm sure there are. I'm not sure any of them are particularly affordable, but it is a very nice neighbourhood."

Erik hesitated, because surely they could afford a place together. It couldn't be that expensive. Plus Raven had started contributing to the rent now that her job was bringing in some money--Erik hadn't wanted the money, but she'd insisted, so he'd started putting it aside so that he could buy her something nice, or maybe take her to one of those Broadway shows she was always talking about. He had promised, after all.

It occurred to him then that maybe Charles had said it because he didn't want to get a place with Erik. Maybe he had no interest in living with Erik. The thought made his stomach sink, Erik swallowing around the sudden lump in his throat. He'd respect Charles' wishes, of course, but the last thing he wanted to do was wait around for Charles to ask him--he'd done enough of that with Shaw, and look where that had gotten him.

"What are you doing down there, anyway?" Charles was saying, Erik realizing that he'd missed everything Charles had said in between. It was entirely possible Charles had asked him, and Erik had missed it.

"Sorry, what?" Erik said, because maybe then Charles would ask again.

"It just seems a little out of your way, but it's really none of my business, so..."

Erik froze, because now that he knew what Charles was asking him, Erik had no idea how to answer. He suspected, I'm shopping for lube would only make Charles laugh at him.

"I just had some errands to run," he decided on saying, hoping it was enough, but Charles' response was lost to the sudden sound of metal scrapping against metal, the violence of it so startling Erik's hand fell to his side, Blackberry dangling uselessly at his hip as he turned to stare back towards 7th Avenue.

Some idiot had run a red, clipping the back end of a sleek back sedan, sending it spinning. It didn't look like anyone was hurt, but the damage looked expensive, far worse than a mere fender-bender The sight was riveting, Erik memorized by it.

Someone's window had broken, pebble-sized pieces of glass littering the pavement. Other people were honking now, the sound tinny and distant, as though Erik was watching it through a bad-quality television set, as seen from across a crowded room. There was steam coming out from under the hood of the black sedan, but it wasn't smoke--not a fire risk then--only what tended to happen when liquid sploshed against a hot engine.

Erik doubted the sedan was even driveable anymore. Certainly one of its wheels, where it had hit the curb, was twisted awkwardly. Erik shivered, feeling suddenly cold; a deep, penetrating chill that seeped directly into his bones. He'd been outside in the cold too long, he thought absently, already stepping towards the wreckage.

It felt like he was floating. In his mind, he was certain he could reach out and sweep it all aside, clear the mess and unblock traffic with a single flick of his wrist.

He made it all the way to the corner before the world lurched into motion again. The blare of honking horns became obnoxiously loud. Erik registered that he was still holding his phone. He stared at it, unblinking, and then brought it to his ear.

"Hello?"

"Erik? Erik!" Charles sounded more than a little panicked. Erik blinked. The man in the sedan had gotten out of his car and was shouting at the little yellow sports car who'd clipped him.

"Sorry," Erik said, the sound of his voice echoing in his ears. "There was an accident."

"Are you all right?" Charles said. He sounded terrified. Erik shook his head. He felt oddly foggy.

"I'm fine. I wasn't involved. I just witnessed it."

There was a pause on the other end of the line.

"Erik, you were gone for like two minutes," Charles said. Erik frowned at that, because surely it was only a few seconds; long enough for him to turn and walk towards the intersection. Undoubtedly it had only seemed longer to Charles.

"I'm fine. I actually just have the one errand to run, and then I'm heading your way. You'll wait for me to get there?"

"Of course," Charles said, but he didn't sound particularly appeased. Erik would have to make it up to him with a nice dinner.

He told Charles as much, earning a brief laugh before they exchanged their goodbyes--Charles reluctantly, Erik with an odd sense of determination. He couldn't seem to draw his gaze from the scene before him, the sedan driver and the sports car driver on the verge of coming to blows.

He thought perhaps he ought to stay and give a statement.

Someone jostled him, and it was then that he realized he'd simply been standing in the middle of the sidewalk, staring at the mess of metal and glass sprawled across the intersection. The yellow car, he thought, looked like something he might have found in a contortion act. The twist of its fender triggered the briefest surge of deja-vu, and then it was gone, Erik glancing up to find the name of the place he was looking for.

Erik patted his pocket, found his phone, and wondered when he'd finished speaking to Charles. The flashing lights of the newly arrived NYPD cruiser distracted him from the thought otherwise he might have brought the phone out and called Charles back. Instead, Erik crossed the street in the opposite direction from the crash, and headed towards The Pleasure Chest.

He'd been inside one of these places before--not with Shaw, though it wouldn't have surprised him, Shaw delighting in seeing him flushed with awkward embarrassment. When they were living in Edinburgh, someone Raven had met had given her a business card with an innocuously named business and an address, promising her a job if she dropped off a CV. Erik had gone without her to scope the place out, walking into a store filled with silicone and latex, Erik immediately turning around, telling Raven to find a job elsewhere. She'd ended up finding work in a local florist shop. Back then, their tiny apartment had been filled with plants and flowers, the scent overwhelmingly sweet. Erik had spent a lot of his time in Edinburgh sneezing.

This place seemed a good deal more upscale, the place clean, well lit, and decidedly well organized. Erik still found himself standing stock-still the second he set foot in the door. It was almost overwhelming, the range of merchandise available. Erik wasn't sure he really knew where to start.

His uncertainty must have shown, because a second later a tall, well dressed brunette came over to stand at his side.

"Is there anything I can help with," she said, voice whisper-soft, as though she recognized Erik's type and knew speaking too loudly might startle him and send him running.

Erik glanced at her, finding his attention draw to the dragonfly barrette clipped in her hair. It was the same colour of blue as Charles' eyes.

"Lube," Erik blurted out, the word jumping past his lips without his permission. He watched the girl's eyes grow wide--recognized her amusement--and cleared his throat. "Sorry, I'm looking for lubrication."

The girl nodded.

"Male or female?" she asked. Erik felt some of his nervousness lessen.

"Male."

"Anal, I'm assuming? Condoms or bareback?" The girl didn't even flinch as she asked the questions.

"Yes, and condoms."

The girl inclined her head. Erik followed her to the back of the store, where a line of lubricants filled several shelves. They easily had ten times the selection the drug store had had, and none of the same brands. The girl pulled down several labelled tester, and gestured for Erik's hand. Erik coloured, but extending his palm, thankful that, for now at least, the store was empty.

The things he did for Charles.

On to chapter 4

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