schmerica: ([comics] scarlet witch/marvel girl)
[personal profile] schmerica
But what if instead of being kind of creepy/antisocial/singleminded in the face of his thirst for ~REVENGE~, Erik was all those things because he was busy being a single dad? YOU GUYS, WHAT IF?

Yeah, so. Here's a thing.

Focus
by Pearl-o

XMFC, Charles/Erik, modern AU, PG, ~900 words. Shameless kidfic.

Summary: One morning, there is a change to Erik's playground routine.

*****

Erik has half of his attention concentrated on Lorna as he pushes her stroller back and forth over and over the same six inches of the sidewalk next to the bench, and the other half on the play structure, tracing Pietro's light and Wanda's dark heads over and through every piece of it as they run and shriek among the crowd of other kids. He has it down, now, to almost a science, but he doesn't have any concentration to spare beyond the three of them, so when the man speaks to him it's a total surprise.

"Mr. Lehnsherr, is it?"

Erik has too much self-control to jump, but his grip tightens suddenly on the handle of the stroller, breaking his rhythm, and he looks up quickly to the intruder, squinting against the late morning sunshine.

Short, handsome, dark hair, blue eyes. He's familiar, but it takes Erik a second to place him. He's seen him around here a million times, attached to the little redheaded girl Wanda's so fond of.

"Yeah. I'm Erik. You're Jean's dad?"

"Guardian, actually," the man says. He's holding two cups of coffee in his hands, and he presents one to Erik with a flourish. "This is for you. Cafe americano, yes?"

"Uh, yeah," Erik says, a little confused. The man beams when Erik takes the coffee from him, though, and immediately sits down on the bench beside him.

"I'm Charles Xavier, by the way."

Erik takes a swallow of his drink and nods.

"I've seen you around here every morning, so I thought I'd make your acquaintance," Charles says. "The girls seem to be fast friends already."

Erik nods again. Up close, Charles smells really good. It's distracting. Erik's not sure he can remember the last time he was this close to someone who didn't smell like crayons or baby powder. He busies himself leaning over the stroller, fussing with the blankets, but Lorna's still asleep.

"They're really lovely children," Charles continues.

It's stupid, but as good as Erik is at dismissing stupid or insincere compliments or small talk when it comes to himself, he can't do it with the kids. He puffs up whenever someone says anything positive about them, because some part of him is convinced it's all true and even less than what they're due. They're perfect. They're obnoxious little brats half the time, but still: they're perfect.

He clears his throat and says, "Thank you."

Jean and Wanda appear suddenly at the top layer of the play structure, and Jean pokes Wanda and points over to where Erik and Charles sit. Both girls wave with a ridiculous amount of enthusiasm. Erik and Charles both wave back politely.

"From what Jean's said, I gather you're a single father...?"

Charles lets his intonation rise at the end, but it's not really a question, so Erik doesn't respond.

"I have to admit, I never realized what a struggle it must be raising a child alone before Jean. Not that I thought being a parent was easy, of course, but I suppose it's one of those things where you really have no idea what you're getting into until you're there already. It's enough of a challenge with one, though, I can't imagine how you manage with three."

Erik doesn't expect to answer that, either, but somehow something comes out of his mouth nonetheless. "I wonder the same thing myself. Frequently."

It gets him a smile from Charles, wide and pleased and friendly. Like he's made Charles's entire day with a single sentence.

"Is the children's mother still in their life at all?" Charles asks, earnest and curious.

That's none of your business, Erik thinks, but what he says is, "Mothers." Charles blinks at him, and Erik says, "The twins' mother died when they were very small. Lorna's mother just wasn't interested in raising a kid." It's just the four of them, has been since he brought Lorna home that first night. Erik likes it that way. They're a family, perfect and complete, all round edges and no corners.

He's unsettled by how part of him wants to explain more to Charles. Say, I know it makes me sound promiscuous, but really I can count the number of women I've been with on one hand. Magda was the only one you could even really call a relationship. Lorna's mom was the first person I'd even touched after she died, and then it was just blind luck...

Erik's never felt the need to justify his life or his choices to anyone, and if he was going to start, he can't imagine why it would be to a stranger in the park.

"Listen," Charles says, shifting a little, and just the presence of his body beside Erik is distracting, close enough that Erik can feel the warmth of his thigh and his upper arm where they're close to touching. Erik looks back at the play structure, the quick one-two blond boy, dark girl marco polo identification. Safe, safe.

"Would you like to join me for dinner sometime?" Charles says softly, and when Erik glances back to him, he's dragging his teeth along his bottom lip, which is shiny and red and ... and obscene, perhaps, Erik thinks. It's an unexpected thought, but not an unpleasing one.

Instead of saying no, Erik says, "I don't have a babysitter."

Charles smiles again, rather gloriously, and says, "I have quite a good one."

"Lemme give you my number," Erik says after a moment, and he can't lie: the way he sees the triumph flash in Charles's eyes does something pretty special to his ego, right there.
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