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Title: Love's Own Crown (4/?)
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.

A huge thank you to Sam, for both inspiring bits of this (and other chapters) as well as providing intensely detailed notes on life in a genetics lab. I cannot put into words the sheer awesomeness of that. Thank you.

Back to chapter 3



hold tight
fingers

closer still

never leaving
always having

though new,
unexpected

this feeling

lingers,
haunts,
remains.

like you.

Grip, by Erik Lehnsherr, October, 2011

~*~


Raven Interlude

There was something about the bustle of New York City that made Raven feel utterly isolated. Tens of thousands of people, in this block alone, moving with purpose, going to and from their jobs, or taking their kids to schools, or doing their grocery shopping or picking up their dry cleaning; it was all so perfectly ordinary.

Raven had never felt particularly ordinary.

She'd told Erik that once, and he'd told her it was because she was extraordinary. Until recently, she'd suspected he was the only person capable of seeing her in that light.

It was strange to have that change.

Raven didn't tend to react well to change. She told herself that this change was good; that they had spent so long locked in the same pattern that it was about time they moved forward, sought the happiness that she knew Erik deserved, and suspected she was capable of finding.

Across the street, a well-dressed woman was pushing a pram. Raven watched her for a moment, noting the way she angled her body so that she was closer to the traffic, a barrier between her child and any cars that might skirt the curb. Would that be Raven someday? She couldn't picture it; couldn't conceive taking care of a child, children so utterly fragile and she so utterly damaged. Would Azazel want children, she wondered.

The thought made her panic, though only a little. It was a familiar feeling now. She'd been dealing with it ever since she'd realized exactly where she and Azazel were headed.

She wished she was more like Erik. He'd fallen so utterly for Charles, without hesitation. She wanted that; to be able to give in to the fluttering in her stomach that came every time she thought of seeing Azazel.

Something to discuss at her next shrink appointment, she figured, tearing her gaze from the woman and her baby. Raven continued her wandering, having no particular aim today; only wanting to be outside, to enjoy the faint October sunshine, appreciate a city poised on the brink between seasons. The nights were getting increasingly cold and dark. She wondered if they'd get a white Christmas. She couldn't remember ever having one.

The thought made her feel festive, though Erik would undoubtedly scold her if he came home and found she'd brought out all of her decorations. He didn't celebrate with her--had no concept of the holiday--but he indulged her obsession with it, so long as she kept it to the month of December. She still remembered that first year in that basement apartment, when he'd brought her home a miniature tree, artificial, and a box of silver-blue decorations. She still had them; still put them on the tiny tree every year. She'd woken up that first Christmas morning to find he'd bought and wrapped half a dozen gifts labelled with her name.

It had marked the first true Christmas she'd had since her Oma had died, leaving her a ward of the state. The foster home hadn't believed in celebrating holidays of any sort. They cost too much money, Mrs. Eisenhardt used to say. Raven had disliked her more than she disliked her husband, and all things considered, that was saying a lot.

The surrounding store fronts were decorated for Halloween, though, not Christmas, and while Raven knew what the holiday was, it wasn't exactly popular during her childhood. That came in later years, after the reunification, when American television became increasingly popular across the country. She'd attended a Halloween party, once, but the experience had been terrifying and she never wanted to attend another. She couldn't conceive how anyone would want to celebrate a holiday that involved shadowed figures wearing masks. She'd already told Azazel she couldn't work that night; that she intended to spend it locked inside her apartment.

In addition to being a good man, he was also an understanding boss.

Her stroll had brought her west of Union Square, Raven hesitating then, her forward march becoming a leisurely stroll. She knew the neighbourhood well by this point, walked it at least once a day. One of these days she would expand out, explore parts of the city away from where she lived. Perhaps she'd head north and explore the area around Columbia. It was where they should have lived--it was only a fluke, Raven's confusion over where Erik would be teaching, that had her renting an apartment near NYU rather than Columbia.

She paused at the next set of lights, debating where she ought to go. She refused to take the subway. She hated being underground with so many people, but she might be able to manage a bus, especially this time of day, when the morning commute was over and the evening commute had yet to begin. Part of her wanted to call Azazel, to see what he was up to, but she suspected she wasn't quite ready for that yet. Another part of her wanted to call her shrink, to see if she couldn't get an extra appointment this week.

It was while she was debating this that someone jostled her from behind, the unwelcome--and unanticipated--contact instantly filling her with tension. She shifted towards the curb side of the sidewalk, so that she was pressed against a lamppost, as far from the passing pedestrians as she could manage without stepping out into traffic. Doing so had brought her face to face with a flyer taped to the post, Raven doing a double-take as she took in what it said.



She glanced surreptitiously over her shoulder, but no one was paying her any attention, so she reached up and tore the advertisement down, folding it nearly and stuffing it into her coat pocket. She'd been thinking about going to school, and while this wasn't exactly a college degree, she suspected it might actually be something she would enjoy. Besides, it would get her a step closer to Broadway.

It was probably the flyer and the idea behind it that made her take notice of the salon across the street. She passed dozens during her daily walks, but for some reason this one, as unassuming as it was, drew her attention. Maybe that was exactly what she needed. Not just a change in her personal life, or her professional life, but a physical change as well. She pushed her way into the stream of pedestrians, not minding the contact now that she was expecting it, and crossed to the stand in front of the salon.

It wasn't busy, and from what Raven could see through the tiny front window, the staff were entirely female, so she made her way inside, instantly earning the attention of the red-head behind the counter.

"I don't have an appointment," she said, but the girl only smiled, telling Raven that if she wanted to take a seat, someone could squeeze her in between appointments.

Raven took a seat.

~*~

He suspected Erik was right; having a TA would prove beneficial. At the very least Charles could hand off marking midterms. The second he made tenure, he was going to get himself a TA.

For now that stack of midterms was sitting on his desk, waiting to be marked, and while normally he'd hold off until the weekend, he suspected Hank wanted his time, which meant it was now or never. He probably wouldn't even get through a quarter of them before his appointment. He was definitely looking forward to getting this damned splint off his hand. Marking left handed was next to impossible, Charles' notes a scrawl of illegibility.

Across his desk, tucked out of sight--mostly so that Charles wouldn't be distracted by it--his iPhone sang. Thinking it was probably Erik--and he was still worried about the oddness of their last conversation--Charles immediately reached for it, midterms forgotten.

"Tell me you're on your way," Charles said, partly because it was close to his scheduled appointment, but also because he was dying for an excuse to get out from under all these papers.

There was only one problem. It wasn't Erik. Charles probably should have thought to check the call display before answering.

"Mr. Xavier, it's Forever in Bloom." Charles frowned. He thought he'd sorted this already.

"Yes," he still said, thinking perhaps they were simply calling to confirm delivery--it was the least they could do after this morning's fiasco.

The woman on the other end of the line paused. "I'm afraid delivery was once again refused," she eventually said.

Charles froze, mouth open, uncertain what to say.

It was, he supposed, entirely possible his mother and Kurt were away--they travelled often--and that some new servant who didn't know Charles had been instructed not to accept deliveries.

"Sir, do you want us to try again?" Charles shook his head before remembering the woman couldn't see him.

"No, that's fine," he said, disconnecting the call before she could remind him that he would be charged for both the flowers and the two delivery attempts regardless.

It was also possible, he supposed, that his mother had simply gotten sick of receiving flowers, and that this was her subtle way--subtle as a dump truck driving through a C4 factory--of telling him to stop. Charles should probably just take the hint and save his money.

Instead he picked up his iPhone--he hated using it, not particularly wanting her to have the number--and dialed his mother's cell.

After six rings, it went to voice mail.

"Hello mother," he began, and then, because she probably wouldn't know said, "It's Charles. I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday."

There really wasn't much else to say--and God knew she'd never called him on his birthday--so Charles hung up and tossed his phone over to his couch, where he'd be less likely to dive for it should it ring again. He turned back to the midterm spread before him, trying to decide whether to give partial credit for Bobby Drake's answer.

He'd picked his way through four midterms before there was a knock on his door. The sound was startling, because he usually left his door open--and today was no exception--so visitors didn't tend to knock. It was a pleasant surprise to glance up and find Erik standing in the doorway, soft smile creeping onto his face.

"Erik," Charles said, abandoning his red pen in favour of standing and crossing the room to Erik's side.

Erik immediately swept him into a kiss. Anything that Charles was going to ask about their earlier conversation vanished from his thoughts.

"Hi," Charles said when they pulled back. It was pretty much all his brain was capable of thinking at the moment. Erik's smile shifted into a grin.

"Hi, yourself," he said.

Charles smiled stupidly and took a moment to appreciate Erik standing in the doorway of his office, still wearing his coat, looking wind-kissed, his nose a startling shade of red.

He couldn't count the number of times he'd fantasized about having Erik here.

"Come in for a minute," he said when he'd gathered his senses. He moved back to his desk, giving Erik a chance to snoop--at least he hoped Erik would snoop--while he tidied up the pile of exams on his desk.

It was while he was doing this, Erik examining the row of books on Charles' bookshelf, that Moira popped her head in. She seemed started to find Erik there, flushing slightly as though she'd interrupted an intimate moment. Given that they were standing half a room apart and were still wearing their clothes, Charles had a hard time understanding where her embarrassment had come from. He hadn't even had the time to drop one of his papers and bend down to pick it up--which had been exactly his plan, delayed now by Moira's arrival.

"Sorry," she said, offering Erik a friendly nod.

Charles realized then that they'd only met the once before, so he re-did introductions.

"Erik, you remember Moira, and Moira, Erik." They exchanged friendly smiles. Charles hesitated, uncertain how best to proceed in these sorts of situations. It hadn't occurred to him that his boyfriend--and okay, they hadn't officially used that term, but unless Erik said otherwise, Charles was using it--and his best friend might not instantly take to one another.

Fortunately Moira saved him the trouble, giving him her full attention, obviously there on business. "I just wanted to let you know I pulled some strings and got you space in the Animal Lab. You can have your pigs delivered tomorrow."

Charles beamed, offering a wide smile, because all of the private labs he'd found would have required him to take a bus to get to them--it was either that or farm out his experiments, and Charles had never been very good at delegating anything. This way he'd simply have to walk over to the Live Animal Research section to do what he needed to do.

"That's brilliant, Moira, thank you," he said, aware then that Erik was watching him intently.

It occurred to Charles that this was the first time Erik had seen him in his own environment. It was evident that Erik was enjoying it; possibly even a little turned on by it if his dilated pupils were any indication. Charles preened.

"I have to get this taken care of," he said, gesturing to his splint, "and then Erik and I were going to have dinner, but I'll be back later tonight." He turned to Erik. "Unfortunately, if I'm getting my pigs tomorrow, I'm going to need to start working on my cultures tonight."

Erik nodded at this, but Charles didn't miss the brief flash of disappointment in his eyes. Had Moira not been there, Charles would have told Erik that they would have plenty of time for a stop at his apartment before that. Charles might be diligent about his research, but he wasn't a saint.

"Oh, and I should also give you a date," Charles continued, turning to Moira this time. "December 10th."

Moira looked more than a little confused, which was rather what Charles was hoping would happen--not because he wanted to show off, but because Erik had spent months seeing Charles as a student, and now the better part of the week seeing Charles as... well, he probably thought Charles was a nymphomaniac, to be honest, or rather a satyriasis, if he was going to get technical, and Charles wanted Erik to see that he was also capable of being a professional; of actually accomplishing things that didn't include stripping out of his clothes.

"Your shower, or stag and doe, or whatever it is they call it these days. Engagement party, maybe?" When Moira still didn't show any signs of understanding, he added, "I've booked the ballroom at the Russian Tea Room for cocktails, Saturday, December 10th, 2011."

Moira's eyes grew wide. Charles smirked. She always doubted him, even when experience should have shown that he was more than capable of making good on his promises.

"You booked the ballroom, in December, with only six weeks' notice?" she said. Charles nodded.

Moira had always been an open person, capable of expressing affection, but Charles was still not expecting the little squeal she emitted, or for her to fling herself into Charles' arms, pressing a kiss against the side of Charles' mouth in her excitement.

It was almost as surprising as Erik's reaction, which was to immediately stiffen, a low growl vibrating in his throat. He looked ready to step in and physically remove Moira from Charles' person.

Moira, who already looked embarrassed by her reaction, stepped back, inching over so that Charles stood between her and Erik. Charles had never seen her so startled--she had obviously heard his growl. Had Charles not been so thoroughly flummoxed by the display, he might have a) reassured her and b) scolded Erik for thinking Moira posed any kind of threat.

Instead, all he could do is turn to stare at Erik, well aware that he was gaping like a fish.

Erik, who seemed to realize what he'd done, appeared suddenly chagrined. He stopped growling.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to," he said to Moira, ducking his head as though the submissive gesture might ease any offense he had caused.

"It's fine. Fine," Moira said. She glanced to the door then, making a general gesture which Charles took to mean she intended to flee. He cast a final glance in Erik's direction and then caught her eye.

"You okay?" he asked, not letting her go until she'd nodded. He walked her to the door, silently asking the question again, feeling somewhat relieved when she arched an eyebrow and mouthed, Oh, my God, like she couldn't fully fathom what had just happened, but was amused beyond measure by it. Charles couldn't help the grin that spread across his face. No one had ever thought to stake any kind of claim to Charles. It was as ridiculous as it was thrilling.

After Moira had slipped out the door, lips pressed together to keep herself from laughing, Charles turned back to Erik. He looked gutted.

"Charles, I'm sorry. I didn't mean..." He hung his head. "God, you must think I'm a brute."

He looked like he expected Charles to break up with him right on the spot--which was almost as ridiculous as Erik thinking Charles would ever--ever--choose someone over him.

Charles made his way slowly across the room, getting into Erik's space, reaching up to place his splinted hand against Erik's chest. Erik glanced up, startled.

"So you've got a little bit of a possessive streak," Charles said, smiling as he said it, because Charles had never been possessed before, and even though the logical, scientific part of his brain found the whole thing ludicrous, his hindbrain was drooling all over the place.

"No," Erik said, and then, "Yes," and then, "Apparently?" like it was question. Charles grinned.

"Well, I can assure you you have nothing to worry about, especially not with Moira, because in addition to being like a sister to me, she's also the wrong gender entirely."

Erik chuckled at that, conceding the point with a nod of his head. He still looked beyond mortified, like Charles was the Queen and he'd just served tea in a coffee mug. Charles brought his good hand up to rest alongside the bad, stroking lightly at Erik's chest until the tension in Erik's shoulders eased, the rigid line of his back going soft.

This, Charles knew, would probably be the point where he further eased Erik's worry via blowjobs, or maybe sex on Charles' sofa--oh, how he wanted to have sex with Erik on his sofa--but the hour was getting late and if they didn't get to the clinic soon, Charles was going to be stuck with this splint on his hand until he could schedule another appointment.

"Come on," he said, "let's get this thing off," he held up his hand, "and then you can buy me dinner, and after, we can head back to mine."

There was no other word to describe Erik's expression save blinding relief. He smiled then, crowding against Charles like he meant to skip ahead to the end of the evening right then and there.

"I don't know why you put up with me," he said, which was about as startling a thing to hear as his earlier reaction had been to witness.

It was entirely possible, Charles realized, that Erik didn't realize how utterly perfect he was. Charles was torn between telling him, and letting him remain in the dark, lest he decide he really was far too good for someone like Charles.

"It's not that much of a hardship," Charles said, light and teasing, which caused Erik's smile to widen.

With Erik smiling at him like that, it took a decided amount of willpower to pull back, to gesture Erik towards the door. It was almost disappointing when Erik went without argument, Charles shaking his head because, really, he could go half a day without ravaging Erik. He reached for his coat with shaking hands.

As soon as Charles was dressed, Erik slipped his hand into Charles' good one, interlacing their fingers as they stepped out into the hall, Charles hoping then that they passed every single person that he knew, if only so that they could see the man Charles had somehow managed to snag. His hand stopped shaking.

~*~

"I've heard of this Russian Tea Room," Erik said while they waited in the tiny consulting room for Charles' x-rays to come back. "It's famous, isn't it?"

Living in New York, Charles took for granted that everyone knew the Russian Tea Room. He tried to recall what he could of Germany, but couldn't bring to mind anywhere that would compare. There were probably dozens of restaurants that qualified, but he'd only been a handful of times, and most of those trips had taken him to Berlin--the ones that hadn't had had him locked inside a Max Planck institute for pretty much the entire duration of his trip.

"It is, I suppose. Moira's in love with the place, and since I'm officially her man of honour, it's my duty to throw her a party. You'll come, won't you?"

Erik was making a face, one that suggested something Charles had said had confused him.

"You're more than welcome to bring Raven, and that fellow she's seeing if you like," Charles tried.

"Of course I'll come, but what exactly is a man of honour?" Erik said, and ah, that explained his confusion. Charles blushed.

"Well, traditionally a woman has a maid of honour, a man a best man, but since Moira's a woman and I'm a man, that leaves me with man of honour." He smiled, hoping Erik found it as amusing as he had. Erik merely arched an eyebrow.

He was holding Charles' hand--the one that had been wearing a splint--thumb rubbing softly against the back of Charles' knuckles. His skin was dry and flaking, and Charles had wanted to pull it away, to wait until it was cleaned and moisturized, but Erik had insisted, still reeling from the look the nurse had given him when he'd confessed to being responsible for the injury.

Don't be absurd, it was a complete accident, Charles had said, before the woman could accuse Erik of knocking him around.

"So she kissed you because she liked your choice of venue," Erik said, and Charles didn't missed the way he stuttered on the word kissed.

"Tell me you're joking?" Charles said, leaning into Erik then, because as delightful as it was that he could make Erik jealous--he'd never made anyone jealous, not even Scott, who had only rolled his eyes and laughed whenever he found Charles flirting with someone else--it was also utterly ridiculous that Moira--Moira of all people--worried him.

"No, I..."

"In addition to the whole gender thing I mentioned earlier, she's also engaged to be married."

Erik coloured then, that same sheepish expression from earlier creeping onto his face.

"Sorry. I'm not used to..." he gestured, but for the life of him Charles couldn't figure out what Erik meant by it.

"Used to?" he prompted. Erik shrugged.

"Having something that's mine," he said, which was precisely when Charles' heart stopped working.

He swallowed against the sudden lump in his throat--probably that pesky heart, he thought absently--lungs constricting even as he willed his eyes to remain dry. When he could speak--and it took some time, during which Erik sat awkwardly, thumb still stroking Charles' hand--he blurted out the first thing that came to mind.

"I rather like being yours," he said, which caused Erik to glance up, startled and more pleased than Charles was expecting him to be and oh, he realized, they were idiots.

This was what the Romantic poets talked about; that once in a lifetime love that far too few people experienced. Erik wasn't going to leave. He wasn't going to wake up one morning and decide Charles wasn't good enough, because he was probably sitting there worrying that Charles was going to do the exact same thing. It was quite possibly the most enlightening moment of his life, and he couldn't help the grin that spread across his face.

How the hell had Charles gotten lucky enough to find that?

The thought made him laugh, which seemed to startle Erik until Charles shook his head, still smiling broadly even as he reached for Erik with his free hand, pulling at Erik's shoulder until Erik slid forward to meet him, the kiss as joyful as it was tender. When he pulled back, Erik was smiling softly, but there was a question in his eyes, lingering confusion that Charles wanted to chase away so that the ugliness of doubt would stop getting in the middle of all of this.

"I'm starting to think the universe rather likes me," he said, which was precisely when the door to the consulting room opened, the doctor walking in, the universe proving him wrong with three little words.

"Two more weeks," the doctor said. In the face of his revelation, Charles really couldn't bring himself to complain.

~*~

Erik couldn't seem to stop grinning. It meant he had a nice pocket to himself on the subway ride home from Charles'--and he hated that he had to leave, that he couldn't spend the night in Charles' bed every night, or better yet, have Charles spend the night in his.

Maybe he was approaching this all wrong. Maybe he should simply ask Charles, outright, if he wanted them to live together. It had only been a week, granted, but they'd spent weeks wasting time before that, so he couldn't see any reason not to play catch-up.

And he was fairly certain Charles would say yes. It was impossible not to be aware of this thing between them. It was so powerful Erik could barely think for it.

Like the way they'd instantly agreed to take-out after Charles had had his hand re-splinted, even though Erik had been planning to take him out for a nice dinner. Or the way they'd leisurely sat on Charles' bed, all curled around each other, Charles stealing his spring rolls while Erik stole Charles' chicken-balls. Or how, after, they'd kissed for what seemed like hours, the sharp bite of sweet and sour sauce on their tongues making Erik hungry again, and they'd had to stop for a snack before ever getting out of their clothes.

Or the way, later, Charles had held them together, fisting their combined cocks, slick with Erik's lube. He'd been so embarrassed when he'd gone to retrieve it, Charles' eyes growing wide, the toothbrush in his mouth--a bid to keep them from the left-over Chinese food--stilling as he picked it up and examined it.

"This is good stuff," he said, or rather, mumbled around a mouthful of toothpaste.

Erik's answer was little better--and he now had a toothbrush at Charles' place, something that thrilled him to no end. "My errand," he said, shrugging awkwardly, but Charles had only smiled, and after they'd spit and rinsed, he'd drawn Erik down onto the bed and vowed to put the lube to good use.

They had, and even when Erik had had to leave, Charles due back at the lab, they had lingered in their goodbyes, Erik insisting on walking Charles back to the main campus, wanting to walk Charles all the way back to his lab, and then maybe hang out in Charles' office until Charles was done. The only reason he hadn't was because he didn't want to appear too desperate, and because Charles had promised to meet him for lunch tomorrow.

Also, there was Raven to consider, and while he'd texted her to let her know he was going to miss dinner, he'd also told her was coming home tonight, and while he knew she wouldn't begrudge him spending another night with Charles, he didn't want to get into the habit of constantly abandoning her. She deserved better than that.

Thinking of Raven made him pull out his Blackberry. He waited until he'd reached his stop and then gotten above ground to call. She answered after two rings.

"You need me to pick anything up?" he asked. She chuckled.

"Azazel stopped by with Italian," she said. Erik paused, waiting for her to elaborate. When she didn't, he picked up his pace.

"I'll be there in five," he said, waiting for Raven's acknowledgement before disconnecting the call. There was something in her tone that worried him, like she was nervous about his arrival home. He had never before made Raven nervous.

He fumbled with his keys only once getting into their apartment--this after nearly bowling over the doorman on his way into the building--Erik getting a single foot in the door before he froze, eyes immediately locking on the couch.

It wasn't Azazel--Erik had been expecting him--or the fact that Raven had her feet planted firmly on his lap--although that certainly was a surprise--it was Raven's hair.

Erik blinked, and when that didn't work, he shook his head. Azazel chuckled.

"I still like it," he said, and it took Erik a minute to realize he was actually painting Raven's toenails.

Raven never let anyone paint her toenails. Not even Erik--though he would have undoubtedly refused had she asked.

Erik blinked some more.

"You hate it, don't you?" Raven said, and this, he realized, was the source of her worry.

He was still having too hard a time processing the change to speak, so he shook his head instead. He didn't hate it, per se, it was simply different; drastically different and Raven didn't tend to do drastically different. In place of her long, cascading blonde locks, she now wore her hair at chin length, pin straight, and dyed in the brightest colour of red Erik had ever seen. Both the cut and the colour made her look older somehow; as though she'd matured out of the young adult she'd been only this morning.

"It's..." Erik tried, but nothing seemed to want to come out. He couldn't decide if this was a good thing. He had no idea what this was a reaction to, or what it would mean tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. Consistency was key with Raven, change tending to upset the delicate balance they'd created.

It was probably, when he reflected on it, his fault. He was the first to upset their routine, and now he would have to deal with the fallout--though if it turned out only to be a new hairstyle, then he could certainly handle that.

"Erik, I can practically hear you thinking, and you're being an idiot. It's just a haircut," Raven said. She'd removed her feet from Azazel's lap, keeping her toes spread wide as she crossed the room to where he was still standing, door still open behind him. She reached around him to swing it shut.

Experience would suggest there was no just anything with Raven, but Erik still nodded. He reached forward then, waiting for her nod to catch a lock of it, letting his fingers run down its length.

"It actually kind of suits you," he said. And it did. Raven was the fiercest person he knew, and now she looked it.

In response, she offered him a smile that lit up her entire face.

He offered then to vacate the apartment, give her and Azazel some space, but Raven instantly refused, insisting Erik join them in the living room, where he soon found himself listening to Azazel tell a story that seemed to centre around a man he'd met when he first came to New York. Raven laughed throughout the story, but Erik was still too distracted by her hair to pay attention. There was something about it that caught the edge of a memory, but Erik couldn't for the life of him bring it into focus. He spent a long time chasing the edge of it, until Raven's laughter was replaced by comfortable silence, and then awkward longing as Azazel announced his need to head home.

Erik very carefully took himself to bed, leaving them to their goodbyes.

He found he rather missed Charles, but then, that was nothing new.

On to chapter 5

Date: 2011-12-15 06:59 am (UTC)
starlady: Twitter quote: @magneto "come home" (my offer still stands)
From: [personal profile] starlady
I'm sorry to comment with a nitpick, but it sticks out because you've done so well at getting the university environment right so far: at Columbia, Charles would almost certainly have a TA regardless of whether or not he has tenure (ditto for Erik, though I'm not sure it's come up). First-rank graduate programs (which Columbia is) let grad students teach after their first year; it's mostly second-rank grad programs, which are frequently also first-rank undergraduate institutions, that don't, she says, from beneath a stack of papers she's grading.

That said, this was another lovely chapter!

Date: 2011-12-15 06:42 pm (UTC)
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Hmm, I see. Afaik, the department would just be assigning him a TA (multiple TAs, depending on how many undergrads are in the class he's teaching), regardless of whether or not that TA meets his standards.

Date: 2011-12-15 07:25 pm (UTC)
starlady: (denizen)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Yeah, no personal selection is involved--that seems really weird to me, in all honesty! The head graduate advisor is generally the person who assigns who's going to TA for what, based on a combination of arcane mathematics, casting of horoscopes, and which classes have how much enrollment.

Date: 2011-12-15 07:48 pm (UTC)
starlady: (denizen)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Well, in the States you go into graduate school knowing who you're going to work under, or rather, you apply to work with specific people, and part of the process of being admitted is programs deciding whether or not you'd be a good fit with their program and people based on your background and stated interests. (How does grad school work in Canada if you are just randomly hoping to get adopted by someone?) So whether or not you TA for your advisor is not really relevant to establishing a relationship, although practically speaking you do tend to wind up TAing for your advisor eventually, because both of you are working on very similar areas of stuff.

Janos could have been brought along as part of some kind of deal to recruit Erik, conceivably, though in actuality that'd be kind of odd for a visiting professorship (though not for a bells-on all-out faculty poaching). One of my friends in my program, actually, is going through the semi-formality of applying for admission to the program which has just poached her advisor away from our department, because when her advisor leaves there'll be literally no one here for her to work with. So they are making her apply, but it's almost entirely a formality (particularly since the poaching department is not as good as ours, but I'm getting partisan and bitter).

Date: 2011-12-15 08:05 pm (UTC)
starlady: Raven on a MacBook (Default)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Well, fair enough. =)

And being someone's advisee and being a TA aren't the same thing at all--most of the first-rank graduate programs require grad students to TA regardless of their career paths. As a TA you are working for the department, and your advisor has little to no input into your TA assignments.

Date: 2011-12-15 08:19 pm (UTC)
starlady: (denizen)
From: [personal profile] starlady
Hah, thanks for bearing with my blather. I have a lot of friends at Columbia--my expertise is bounded, but real. And of course all of what I'm saying is not universally applicable, but so it goes. =)

Date: 2011-12-15 07:28 am (UTC)
stlkrchck: (Default)
From: [personal profile] stlkrchck
He found he rather missed Charles, but then, that was nothing new.

oh erik :) they are so sweet together. i am absolutely enjoying this!

Date: 2011-12-15 03:45 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
He hadn't even had the time to drop one of his papers and bend down to pick it up--which had been exactly his plan

Haaahahaha, ohh, Charles you little scamp. Why am I not surprised?

I have to admit, I'm looking forward to a little bit of "Adult Charles", or. Well. More of Charles being seen as the Professor/Researcher he is, now that the cat is officially out of the bag. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience of Erik the Professor from An Ideal Grace (obviously, who wouldn't?) so seeing a little more of Charles' side of it is exciting to me. I can't tell if he'd be a forgiving teacher or a total hardass, lol.

And, since I'm one of Those People, I'm also morbidly excited for the potential angst on the horizon with Charles and his mother, for one, and Erik's episode from the previous chapter. Oh, and how heartbreaking is it that Erik thought his jealously (yes, both adorable and a bit shocking as it was) would make Charles break up with him! It's nice to have someone want to be with you, to have them think of you as something they want to keep-- but I kinda hope that doesn't backfire later. (Or maybe I do. I am one of Those People, afterall, and we thrive off of angst, good Lord.)

And, oh of course there's a .gif of Fassbender getting lube. Why wouldn't there be? Lol.

(Sorry for my long-winded-ness! My comments tend to have lives of their own. D:)

Date: 2011-12-16 08:23 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm really excited to hear that there's a lot of Charles-ness in the future. I feel like there's something... not missing, but more like.. oh there must be a reason why his mother is refusing his flowers, ignoring his calls. (Of course there is, duh, but the real fun is in finding out what it is. Suspense!)

Oh the Shame .gifs. I can only imagine, lol.

Date: 2011-12-16 03:01 am (UTC)
blktauna: (cherik2)
From: [personal profile] blktauna
Well thank the gods one of the pennys has finally dropped! Those poor stupid boys ;)

Delightful!
Thank you again!
Edited Date: 2011-12-16 03:01 am (UTC)

Date: 2011-12-16 07:12 pm (UTC)
pickleddeath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] pickleddeath
Oh! I'm quite excited to read this 'fic!
I'm quite intoxicated with Erik, Charles, and their lovelife. X3
I think I'm supposed to assume that Erik was buying condoms and lube so that Charles can sock it to him again, but I'm secretly thinking that he knows what Charles secretly wants and is mentally preparing himself! :0 But, perhaps, that just my wishful thinking. That Erik will come out of this and prove himself to be more observant and intuitive than previously thought. :3

Once again, great story! I can't wait to read the next chapter

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