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Title: Love's Own Crown (11/?)
Authors: nekosmuse wrote the prose, afrocurl the poetry
Series: The Sonnet Series (aka the sequel to An Ideal Grace)
Rating: NC-17
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.

Note: A huge thank you to Sam, for provided me with a thorough background in genetics and related research. Because of her this fic might actually be somewhat plausible. That being said, I am not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, so any mistakes inside Emma's SOAP are due entirely to my ignorance.

Back to chapter 10



to control
to fix
to hold

craved into
being.

to right
wrongs,
battles,
souls.

when
does the
impulse

turn into

need,
burning want?

leaving us
bare

lacking
reason.


Impulse, by Erik Lehnsherr, November, 2011

~*~


"We fly out Friday and I'm not sure we have enough data to present anything new," Hank said. He had his nose buried in a file folder, Charles occasionally bumping their shoulders together to steer Hank in the right direction. Neither of them had slept, the late nights in the lab starting to take their toll, Charles not as young as he used to be. He stifled a yawn as he ushered Hank around a corner. The hall's fluorescent lighting was particularly grating this early in the morning.

"Then we don't present anything new," Charles said. There was entirely too much work left to do on this project, and if they presented what they had there was a good chance someone would recreate their research, bring it to publication before they did. Genetics was a highly competitive field, after all.

Hank harrumphed, disappointed, but he didn't disagree. Out of the corner of his eye, Charles watched him flip through the pages in his file folder. "Our research from the summer is perfectly valid. No one's going to fault us for not bringing anything new to the table," Charles added, though he could tell it did little to ease Hank's frustration.

Hank was still bristling when they got to his office. Charles reached out to catch his arm, slowing Hank to a stop. Hank glanced up then, startled, a look of genuine surprise settling over his features, like it hadn't occurred to him they were anywhere near his office. Charles ushered him inside.

"It'll be fine, I promise," Charles said. Appeasing Hank's ego was the last thing Charles wanted to do right now--in fact, aside from seeing Erik, whom he hadn't seen since yesterday at lunch, the only thing Charles really wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep until tomorrow--or tonight rather, because if he was going to spend three days away from Erik he was going to make good use of the next two days and...

Oh. Erik.

"We'll also need to get some of the RAs to take blood samples, check for inflammation," Hank was saying, going on about cytokines, but Charles had already tuned him out, his stomach sinking as he realized he'd forgotten to tell Erik he'd be in Los Angeles this weekend.

How could he have forgotten?

"I'm sorry, Hank, but there's something I need to take care of," Charles said, waving off anything else Hank might have said as he darted into the hall, Charles practically running back to his office, where he'd left his iPhone sitting on the corner of his desk.

He was rather breathless when he finally made it there, Charles staggering to a stop when he caught sight of Moira sitting on his couch, looking unaccountably nervous. Charles glanced between her and his phone, and then reluctantly turned to face her.

"What happened?" he asked, worried then that Sean had broken her heart--and if he had Charles would have to kill him, pacifist or no pacifist.

He was not expecting Moira to say, "I'm pregnant," like the world was ending and she had resigned herself to untimely death. Charles mouth fell open. He blinked, several times in rapid succession--he'd really had far too little sleep for this--and then stepped towards her.

He sat down next to her, somewhat gingerly--despite his chosen field, Charles had relatively little experience with pregnant women--and offered a tentative smile. Moira scowled.

"You're going to make a great mom," he tried, meaning it. Moira shook her head.

"That's not the point. The point is I'm pregnant--six weeks to be exact--and our wedding is seven months away." Charles frowned, not quite seeing the point. Moira let out a little huff of irritation and elaborated. "Seven months, Charles. And I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain they don't make figure flattering maternity wedding dresses, never mind that I probably won't even be able to walk by that point."

"I'm sure it won't be that..."

"Of course it'll be that bad. I'm going to have to shelve all my research." Charles winced, though she was right; she couldn't very well continue to work inside a lab--not that she did much these days, most of her work administrative--not unless she wanted to risk miscarriage or birth defects. A genetics lab was hardly the place for someone carrying a fetus. "This is entirely my mother's fault," Moira continued, like Moira's mother's prayers for a grandchild were the reason Moira was knocked up and not Sean's super semen.

Charles offered a conciliatory smile. Moira looked set to strangle him. It took a good deal of effort to swallow back a comment on hormones. In fact, he suspected the only thing that would appease Moira in this instance was a rushed wedding, preferably one before she started to show.

And actually, Charles could probably do that.

"The Tea Room," he said. Moira's brow furrowed. "I have the ballroom at the Russian Tea Room booked in five weeks. You'll only be three months along by then, and this is your first, so I doubt you'll be showing, and you should be past your morning sickness by then. Instead of an engagement party, why not have your actual wedding?"

Moira looked at him like he was crazy.

"It's doable, provided you send out the invitations immediately. I'm sure with the right wedding planner you could easily pull this off."

Moira was starting to look a little more thoughtful.

"And," Charles continued, ridiculously pleased, "since you'll have to shelve your research, you'll have plenty of time to help with the planning."

Charles smiled. If only all his problems were so easily solved.

"You're insane, you know," Moira said, but she hadn't rejected the idea outright--in fact, she looked determined, like Charles had just issued a challenge and it was up to her to pick up the gantlet.

"The best ideas usually are," Charles said, thinking back to his pursuit of Erik. She'd called that crazy, too, and it had turned out fairly well.

Moira still looked a little hesitant, but she said, "Five weeks?" like the idea was not outside the realm of possibilities.

"Five weeks," Charles confirmed, smiling brightly when Moira stood. "And don't worry about finding someone to do your make-up," he called as she left the room, laughing when Moira shot him a questing glance over her shoulder. "Erik's sister is very good."

Moira expression turned skeptical, but she nodded. Charles waited until she was firmly in the hall to retrieve his phone.

He'd pulled up Erik's name before he realized that telling Erik over the phone was probably a bad idea. This seemed like the sort of thing one needed to discuss in person. Charles glanced at the time. There was really nothing else for it. He was going to have to crash one of Erik's poetry classes again.

Charles smiled at the prospect. It would be worth putting off sleep.

~*~

Erik felt strangely light as he navigated the narrow halls of Hamilton. It was the run, he decided--because it certainly wasn't Charles' absence, Erik having woken feeling strangely displaced; even now he ached to see Charles. He'd gone for a run this morning simply because he hadn't known what else to do with himself, and running had seemed like a good option. He was glad now that he had, the exercise leaving him clear-headed and energized. He was going to have to start scheduling in more runs, his pattern completely off now that he and Charles were together.

Running had given him a chance to clarify some of his thoughts on this morning's lecture, too. They were covering Shelley today. Erik couldn't believe how quickly the semester was coming to a close; couldn't believe how much his life had changed over the course of the last three months. He was looking forward to today's class. Between his abundance of free time last night and this morning's run he had what he suspected was a pretty engaging lecture.

Unfortunately, everything he had planned flew straight out of his head when he walked into the classroom and found Charles sitting amongst his students.

Erik came to an abrupt stop. He stared at Charles, Charles offering him a relatively sly looking grin. Snickers rose up from the back of the room--Erik was fairly certain there was no one left in the entire school who didn't know about him and Charles. He gave Charles a questioning look, but Charles merely lifted his eyebrow, almost daring Erik to continue. Stunned, and more than a little distracted, Erik crossed to the room's podium and set down his coffee.

It was one thing for Charles to sneak in near the end of a class, another entirely for Charles to show up at the beginning. How the hell was he supposed to teach now?

It was incredibly awkward standing at the front of the room with Charles watching him passively, as though curious to see what Erik might do. Erik wanted nothing more than to dismiss the entire class, take Charles somewhere private because he hadn't seen Charles in almost twenty-four hours. He wanted Charles to himself--wanted to make up for a missed night and staring at Charles now, Charles' hair dishevelled, Charles still wearing yesterday's clothes, Charles' jaw in desperate need of a shave, it was obvious that Charles hadn't slept. Erik knew from experience that a sleepy Charles was an incredibly affectionate Charles and, God, how he just wanted to bend Charles over his desk and...

Erik cleared his throat as if to displace the thought, because giving in to the impulse once had been bad enough; he wasn't going to do it again.

Except, if the way Charles was looking at him was any indication, Charles wanted Erik to do exactly that. It occurred to Erik then that Charles was looking at him exactly the same way he had during those early weeks, when Charles was still an off-limits student, utterly tantalizing but completely forbidden. God, how Erik had wanted to run his hands through Charles' hair; had wanted to trace patterns across Charles' alabaster skin. He'd done both now, and much, much more, but seeing Charles inside his classroom brought it all back, that distinct uneasy need that had consumed him for weeks. It was a wonder he'd managed to resist as long as he had.

And this was why he had forbidden Charles from attending his lectures.

"Um..." Erik tried, clearing his throat a second time, glad for the podium because now he was half-hard. When he spoke again, he managed to get out, "Today we're continuing our look at Shelley's A Defense of Poetry."

He couldn't seem to stop staring at Charles, so he didn't miss the way Charles' eyes lit up, like he was familiar with the work and more than willing to contribute to today's lecture. Erik was doomed--utterly, utterly doomed.

Something that became readily apparent when, after a few minutes discussion Charles said, "Shelley argues that poetry is the expression of the imagination of the poet; part of the poet's psyche that links us to the spiritual world beyond. In other words, poetry is not only an imitation of human actions and behavior, but transcends the physical into a higher art. I believe," and here Charles sounded uncertain, Erik's heart fluttering at the sound, "that Shelley placed poetry and literature in general above all other art forms as the highest intellectual pursuit."

"Yes," Erik managed after several minutes of staring, "because Shelley believed poetry was the medium through which imagination presented itself."

The entire class was staring at them, a hushed silence having fallen over the room. Charles licked his lips. Erik swallowed against the sudden urge to kiss him. Getting through the rest of the lecture was somewhat of a challenge, especially when it became obvious that no one besides Charles had any interest in contributing to the discussion--not that Erik would have noticed, so fixed was he on Charles, his lips especially red today, like he was once again wearing lipstick and...

"I think that's where we're going to finish up today," Erik said. "Make sure you've read Alastor for tomorrow." His class blinked at him. Charles offered him a smirk. Too late Erik realized there was still fifteen minutes left in the class. Erik cleared his throat.

"Because we're nearing the end of term, Janos is going to stick around," he glanced briefly at Janos, earning an arched eyebrow, "to run a little Q and A. I'll have my usual office hours tomorrow."

He didn't wait for any objections, catching Charles' eye as he packed up his things. By the time he was ready to leave, Janos assuming the podium, already fielding questions, Charles had already slipped from the room.

Erik found him in the hall, leaning against a wall, looking more than a little smug. Erik didn't waste any time crossing to his side. He wrapped an arm around Charles' waist and pulled him into a kiss.

"I thought we talked about this," he said as he pulled back. Charles laughed.

"I won't make a habit out of it," he said, yawning then, looking entirely too apologetic for having done so. Erik ran a hand through Charles' hair. Several whispered snickers told Erik some of his students were starting to exit the room. He withdrew his hand and stepped back.

"I have an appointment this afternoon," he said, though he was tempted to cancel if it meant spending the afternoon with Charles. He suspected Dr. Frost might object, however, so instead of suggesting it, he added, "But I have a few hours."

Charles grinned. "I can't say I'll be the best company," he did look exhausted, "but we can probably grab some take-out lunch and take it back to mine."

Erik was more than willing to agree. Wordlessly he handed Charles his satchel so that he could slip into his coat. When he was done, Charles did the same and then Erik offered his hand, ignoring the knowing looks from passing students as he led Charles to the exit.

"I actually came looking for you because I forgot to mention something," Charles said once they were outside. Erik arched an eyebrow. Charles looked particularly chagrined as he said, "I have a conference this weekend." He paused. "In Los Angeles."

Erik's eyes grew wide, even as his steps faltered. He stumbled to a stop, Charles offering an apologetic smile as he came to stand in front of Erik, framed by the late-morning sun, cheeks already red from the crisp November air.

"I've known since the summer, but then I forgot about it," Charles said. "I didn't even make travel arrangements; Hank ended up doing so on my behalf."

Erik frowned at that. "Hank's your research partner?" he asked. Charles nodded. Before he could stop himself, he was asking, "Will he be going with you?"

He wanted so bad to be the kind of boyfriend who was trusting and accepting; who wasn't possessive and didn't automatically react with jealousy whenever Charles mentioned someone Erik didn't know--or did know for that matter--but try as he might he couldn't seem to stop the knee-jerk reaction.

"Sorry, that's..."

Charles slid forward, pressing a finger to Erik's lip before Erik could continue.

"Yes, he will be travelling with me. He will also have his own hotel room, and if you are free you are more than welcome to come with me. You'd have to entertain yourself during the day, but my nights would be yours."

Erik hadn't thought it possibly to be any more startled than he already was. Charles was doing a very good job of keeping him on his toes today. He shook his head.

"I can't just leave Raven like that..." he said, realizing it was true. He would have loved to have gone away with Charles--their first trip a distant part of his brain cheered--but an entire weekend away from Raven with only two days' notice was asking too much. He shook his head again.

"It's fine," Charles said, though he sounded disappointed. "I would offer to cancel, but unfortunately I'm presenting something so..."

Erik nodded, understanding completely--of course he understood--and yet utterly hating the thought of spending a weekend away from Charles.

"When do you leave?" he asked.

"Friday morning. I'll be back Sunday night."

It was probably not healthy, especially given how short a time he'd known Charles--how short a time he'd been dating Charles--that the thought of spending three days apart from him left Erik feeling hollow. Possibly it was something he ought to discuss with Dr. Frost this afternoon--along with a host of other things; he was certainly making her work for his money.

"Stay over tonight, and tomorrow night," Erik said, all in a rush, horrifically embarrassed by his neediness, but Charles merely smiled and nodded, agreeing like he honestly couldn't think of anything he'd rather be doing. It eased some of Erik's tension, though a stubborn knot of it remained coiled between his shoulder blades. When he inhaled, it pulled tight, spreading into his chest.

It lessened somewhat when Charles stepped further into Erik's space, stretching up onto his toes to press their lips together. When he pulled back, his grin was more than a little suggestive. "Come on, I'm starving," he said. Erik didn't think he was talking about food.

~*~

Dr. Frost was as impassive as ever, seated behind her sprawling desk--Not the couch today? she'd asked when Erik had moved to sit before it. She looked pristine, dressed completely in white. Her well-manicured nails matched her pantsuit. Erik still hadn't answered her--hadn't said anything at all. He had no idea where to start.

Did he start with his lunch hour; with the mild panic attack he'd had while Charles was giving him a blowjob, Erik's mind drifting, imagining then that Charles really was a student; that Erik had taken him back to his ratty student apartment, that he was taking advantage, the fantasy--nightmare he called it now--simultaneously the most arousing thing he could imagine and the most repulsive and Erik had pulled away, unable to finish. Or did he talk about the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach that came whenever he thought about Charles going away for the weekend. Or maybe he ought to talk about the other night, when he'd bent Charles over a sink and fucked him like he was some kind of animal. Or maybe talk about how much he wanted to do it again, because apparently Erik was the worst kind of creep imaginable.

Or maybe he'd start with his dream; the stupid, never-ending dream that kept chasing him in circles until he was half afraid it would drive him insane.

Or the car accident he could still remember with vivid clarity, even days later.

"Charles' mother died," he said out of the blue. Dr. Frost unfolded her hands, laid them flat on the desk.

"That must be very hard for him," she said.

Erik nodded. He could think of a dozen things to say in response. What he settled on was, "I think I might be taking advantage of him."

And that was the crux of it, he realized, because Charles was vulnerable and in need of support, and instead of giving that support Erik was pushing him into a committed relationship--dear, God, he'd practically gotten Charles to agree to move in with him--never mind the things that Charles was letting Erik do to him.

Dr. Frost, whose lip had pressed into a thin line, narrowed her eyes. It was slight, and if Erik hadn't spent the past few months staring across this desk at her, he probably would have missed it. "Why do you think you're taking advantage of him?" she asked.

Erik opened his mouth, and then closed it again, because he had no idea what to say. Wasn't it obvious? Dr. Frost continued to meet his eye, waiting patiently. Erik floundered.

"You told me to slow things down with him," he finally managed.

"I suggested it would be a good idea, yes."

"I didn't," Erik said. "I did the exact opposite, and now we're talking about moving in together and he's letting me fuck him, and he has all this money he stands to inherit that he's offered to get rid of so that I'm not bothered by it and he's going away this weekend and he said I could come with him, but I can't, and anytime I have to spend even a night away from him I can't breathe for it."

He felt a little breathless when he was finished. He felt a little overwhelmed, too, realization dawning. He was obsessed with Charles Xavier. And he was trying damned hard to make sure Charles Xavier was obsessed with him. What the hell kind of monster did that make him?

Dr. Frost looked more than a little startled--which for her meant that her eyes had widened slightly, her mouth parting so that she no longer looked set to break into a scowl. Erik fought the urge to laugh hysterically and wondered if he ought to bring up his reoccurring dream. He had a vague recollection about wanting to talk to her about his parents, too.

And Raven, there was always Raven.

"I think we might need to bump up my appointments to twice a week," he said instead, and if Dr. Frost had looked startled before, she looked utterly gobsmacked now.

She mastered herself quickly, though, features shifting back into her standard mask of neutrality. She nodded.

"Of course. We can make arrangements with Angel to add a session to your schedule," she said.

Erik felt a bit of his tension lessen. He exhaled, and then nodded. Dr. Frost tilted her head.

"What does Charles think of this?" she asked. "Does he think you're taking advantage of him?"

Erik frowned. "Charles isn't in a position to make that decision." He knew instantly Dr. Frost didn't agree.

"He's an adult. He may be experiencing the trauma of losing a loved one..." It took all of Erik's willpower not to huff out a bitter laugh, knowing what he knew of Charles' mother. It still must have shown on his face, because Dr. Frost paused, clearly waiting for explanation. When Erik didn't provide one, she cleared her throat and continued. "He may be experiencing the trauma of losing a family member, but that doesn't mean he's incapable of making decisions, or that his emotional state is so vulnerable that he would be suggestive to anything he might otherwise object to.

"I know I've suggested you slow things down with him, but that was for your sake, not his, but since you've chosen to move forward with this relationship, the only thing I can council is to discuss this matter with him. Healthy relationships require open communication."

Erik felt his cheeks flush. He glanced down, startled to find he was picking at a cuticle; a nervous gesture held over from his childhood. He could remember once sitting on his borrowed bed--the bottom bunk, the older child above him having claimed the top bunk without asking--cuticles bloodied as he listened to the sounds of Raven's muffled sobs through their shared heating vent. She'd cried herself to sleep that night, and many a night after, Erik too young--too weak--to do anything about it.

"We don't really talk a lot," he admitted, although that was changing, conversation between them flowing more readily than it once had.

This time Dr. Frost's frown was blindingly obvious. "Then I would suggest you start," she said. It was the first time she'd worded advice as anything other than a suggestion. Still, it was easier said than done. He'd already shared more with Charles than he'd shared with anyone--and that included Dr. Frost--if he shared anymore he ran the risk of Charles deciding Erik wasn't worth it after all.

Still, she likely had a point, so Erik nodded. She didn't say anything else, and Erik wasn't sure what to move to next--it was like travelling back in time, their earlier sessions spent staring at one another over this very desk. The thought was so comical, this time Erik couldn't help but laugh, chuckling under his breath as he shook his head. It knocked loose the last of his tension, though he couldn't for the life of him say why.

He tried to picture Charles in his place, and realized he was probably the most pathetic person on the planet.
Dr. Frost's expression was both bemused and quizzical, so Erik shrugged and said, "I'm in love with him," like that explained everything. It didn't, but it felt good to say it out loud, so he said it again. "I'm in love with Charles Xavier."

He was so caught up in the giddy delight of finally putting a name to the swirling vortex of emotions coursing through him that he entirely missed Dr. Frost's reaction. When he finally met her gaze, it was level, calm and collected. Erik wasn't sure if he wanted to laugh or cry.

~*~

Dr. Frost Interlude

It was only her years of training and experience that had allowed her to remain impassive during Erik's session. She'd waited until he was gone, new appointment booked for Monday, to return to her desk and steadily exhale.

She found breathing exercises to be particularly helpful; they were something she often recommended to her patients. When she gone through six cycles of breathing, she pulled out her MacBook and began typing up her notes. Erik was a challenging patient, though not a danger to anyone--unlike some of her patients--so while she suspected he could probably benefit from drug therapy, knowing his aversion to such things, she discarded it this week like she did every week. There was still so much to work through; she felt like she was only just getting to know the man.

Still, every session filled in a piece of the puzzle, today's SOAP note providing new insight into the most reticent patient she had ever had. He was making huge strides, and she suspected they were nearing another breakthrough.

She hadn't expected him to bring up his parents--though they were on her list of things to discuss--but today he had admitted that Charles' mother's death had him thinking about them again. That was good, though it had the potential to cause some other problems, all of which she'd cautioned him about.

Your parents death was a traumatic experience for you, Erik, whether you realize it or not. It would not be uncommon to experience symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. She'd dug out a pamphlet then and handed it to him. He'd accepted it gingerly, obviously still believing Charles was the bigger issue.

And he was, though not in the way Erik thought. Certainly entering into an intense, intimate relationship given his previous experience would require some patience--on his part; and on his partner's--but Emma was more concern by who he was dating rather than the fact that he was dating.

She found herself highlighting "Charles Xavier" in her notes, and the fact that she'd used Xavier's name rather than an initial said something. She didn't know Xavier personally, but it was impossible to travel in New York's social circles without knowing who he was. She was kicking herself for not putting two and two together before now.

It wasn't so much his playboy reputation that worried her--people, she knew, could change--but rather the vast sums of money his estate was worth, something she knew tended to get in the way of healthy relationships. Erik wasn't a suicide risk, but she knew he would take the dissolution of the relationship badly, if it came to that. She added a note about recommending couples' counselling, something she honestly believed every couple should do before escalating a relationship--something Erik would be doing just by moving in with Xavier--and then saved her notes.

When she was done, she inhaled sharply, releasing the breath through a long, low whistle. Then she stood and went to see Angel about grabbing a late afternoon latte.

On to chapter 12

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