Charles scrubbed his face with his hands before sighing deeply. He leaned forward, his forehead connected with his nice mahogany desk with a dull thunk. He loved his charges, Hank, Alex, and Sean, very dearly. Really, he did. He cared about them like he cared about his own sister, Raven. Even with their intelligent minds, they were so stupid sometimes. So goddamn stupid.
He heaved a deep sigh and spoke, his voice muffled by his proximity to the cluttered desk. "Really, Alex? Really? Fighting again? What have I told you? Sean, too? And Hank? You were supposed to look after them!" Even though there was no one in the room to answer, three different voices echoed in Charles' head. We're sorry, Professor, they chorused together.
Charles lifted his head up again, sighing deeply. His boys were going to be the death of him! One of the voices, distinct and fairly deep, and lacking the Irish lilt one had and the lighter tone of another, spoke again. I really didn't mean it, Professor, I tried,-
The other two boys decided to start talking over him in sync, which was still fairly creepy. Charles wasn't sure how they managed in. But they were talking sh- talking bad about Hank and we were p- we were mad, and we couldn't just, and Hank, he just- Charles cut them off with a wave of his hand, shaking his head slightly, and speaking. "It's alright, Hank. I am aware that your intentions were good." He paused, thinking for a moment. "Fine," he said, throwing his hands back. "Fine. I will bail you three out of detention. I'll come get you."
There was a chorus of the three boys cheering in the guardian angel's head. The connection he'd forged with his three charges enabled them to contact each other through their minds. "But this is the last time," Charles said sternly, standing up and pushing his chair back. The Irish voice, Sean, laughed on the other end before judging from the slightly higher voice cut him off. Charles waved his hand beside his head as if shooing away a fly. "This is the last time, I promise." It was the lighter voice's turn to laugh. Sure it is, Prof. See ya. Charles rolled his eyes. "Good-bye, Alex."
Charles turned, stretching and yawning. His stretched his arm above his head and his white wings expanded, stretching with him, until the tip of his right wing smacked a shelf on the wall, sending the thick, hardcover Harry Potter novels loudly hitting the ground. He winced, curling his wings in, as a feminine voice called him out from downstairs. "Charles Francis Xavier! Was that your Harry Potters I heard hitting the ground?" The older guardian angel sighed and folded his wings back in to hug his back, shouting back. "I'm picking them up! Later! I've to go deal with the boys."
He could hear his sister, a slightly lower level guardian angel, on her first assignment - a young woman called Angel Salvadore - rolling her eyes from his room. "Your boys," she said in a voice that painted a picture that she was sighing fondly at him. "Those boys have you wrapped around their little fingers." Charles laughed dryly, but there was some truth. He'd do anything for his boys. What could he say? "They've grown on me, Raven."
It was when he was turning to grab his jacket that he saw it.
There was an open window over his desk, the sunlight shining through, and out of the corner of the eye, he saw it. It was a man, a man with jet black wings with a few ragged feathers flicking off and getting sucked into the swirling vortex of the air, tumbling from the sky before disappearing in the trees that surrounded Charles and Raven's estate. He wasn't going to lie. He couldn't. As he saw the man falling from the sky, he could only think of one thing.
It's rainin' men. Hallelujah, it's rainin' men!
Oh, Raven would have killed him for that.
Charles snapped up his jacket as he tore out the doorway to his room, tugging it on, shaking and shifting his wings as he bolted out of the house, shifting them through the slits cut in the back. The white wings covered in perfect feathers burst out and thumped against a wall as they situated themselves. Charles didn't even have time to pick up the vase of daisies that Raven had picked earlier that day. Someone - or something - had just crashed landed in his yard. His yard. What the hell? He barely even paused to hear Raven shouting at him again for knocking things over. So maybe he was a little uncoordinated with his wings. He didn't need to use them much.
He'd forgotten to put on shoes in his hurry, Charles realized, as the damp grass collided with his bare feet. He was absentminded; he was forever forgetting things like shoes, a sock, a book. And Raven hated it when just after it rained, like it had this morning, he'd go for a wander outside in his bare feet and track grass in the house. But he didn't have time for things like shoes when a stranger just landed in his grounds. A stranger, who looked like an angel.
The guardian angel slowed to a halt, suddenly realizing the gravity of the situation. The stranger could be anyone. The stranger could be dangerous. He could hurt Charles, he could- Charles stopped, tilting his head, realizing something. He was an angel. Basically an archangel. There were very few things that could hurt him, let alone kill him. "Oh," he said slowly. He basically had nothing to worry about. He was just about as safe as one could be in this situation, unless one was very far away. "Oh, yeah."
Charles put two fingers to his temple in an effort to reach out and locate the man who fell from the sky. That was one of the perks of being an angel. You could locate anyone, across the globe, with your mind. Well, if you were as powerful as Charles, you could. Even if you weren't, it was very easy to locate your charges. He reached out with his mind, searching for the, well, mysterious someone. Who'd crash-landed in his grounds. Who'd probably crushed his petunias. If the who'd fallen from the sky had crushed his petunias, he'd- He stopped, shaking his head slightly. This wasn't the time to worry about his flowers.
He found him quickly. It wasn't hard, there weren't many minds in this general vicinity except himself and Raven. As soon as he touched the man's mind, he immediately felt repelled. It didn't feel like the man was trying to push him out. It simply felt like his mind didn't want an angel's in it. It burned his own mind to even try to make contact. He winced, dropped his hand, and moved back a step. "Who are you?" he muttered to himself, inching forward.
That's when Charles saw him - properly - for the first time. He had dark brown hair pushed back, but that was all Charles could see from here. His dark hair, his solid black feathered wings that looked like their span stretched longer than Charles', and his muscled back. "Sohn von einem Weibchen!" the man muttered with a low voice with a slight German accent, pulling himself up from - oh, damn. It was the petunias. Charles was frozen, his wings curled to his back, watching. The man with the mind that had repelled him stood up, - damn, was he tall - shook out his dark feathered wings, turned to see the angel standing there. He had a handsome face and glittering hazel eyes, wearing a purple turtleneck that was so dark it was almost black and a pair of dark jeans. He froze, too, the gorgeous man - another comment that his darling Raven would have smacked him on the arm with a novel for thinking - and for a solid ten seconds, they did nothing but stand there and stare at each other.
It was the gorgeous stranger with the broad shoulders and the dark wings and the mind that had tried so hard to push him out that spoke first. "What the hell?!" he snapped, pacing and running one hand through his hair before folding his arms across his chest and glaring crossly at Charles, who was almost half a foot shorter. Charles swallowed, trying his hardest to look cross, but he couldn't manage it. "You're one to talk," he said, glancing up at the stranger. "Falling out of the stupid sky, crushing my petunias. They were doing really good the year." The man laughed, a barking laugh that would have made Charles smile, under a different circumstance, most likely. "You're flowers. That's what you're-" He stopped talking and pacing at the same time, staring at Charles. "You!" he said, and he frowned harder. Charles balked, taking a step back. He'd stretched his wings out, trying to fold them into a more comfortable position on his back, and the stranger had caught sight of Charles bright white feathers.
"You're an angel?!" The man took a few long strides, arriving right in front of the guardian angel. Charles defensively stretched his wings out halfway. "Yeah," he shot back, looking up at him and crossing his arms. The man - he really needed to get a name out of him, he couldn't just be calling him him in his head. "What's... What's it to you?" The man rolled his eyes. Charles got the strong feeling he did this a lot. "You're the reason I crashed!" The stranger huffed, scraping his right head through his already slightly messy mop of hair. "I was minding my own business, and then angel frequency got in my head and messed me up."
Charles frowned. "Well, I didn't do it on purpose," he snapped. He paused, trailing off and frowning. "What even do I call you?" The tall, dark, and handsome stranger rolled his eyes. "Erik," he said, and he blinked.
When he blinked, his eyes changed color. It happened quickly, the hazel changing to solid black, even the whites, and when Erik blinked again, they colour was gone, and they were a pretty hazel again. "You're a demon?" Charles said suddenly. Okay, he was absentminded. He sometimes accidentally said what he was thinking without realizing it. He recoiled, wincing. "Oh, I'm s-" Erik cut him off with a wave of his hand. "No, it's alright. Classic reaction. I've had worse." Erik curled his wings in, folding them neatly against his back.
"Engel," he said, arms crossed.
"Demon," Charles said, unfolding and refolding his arms.
Erik huffed again and glanced back towards the house. "Why was there such a strong signal coming from here? What were you doing?" Charles smiled softly, and Erik felt... He felt like he'd do anything to see that again. "Well, I live here. With my sister, Raven. She's a guardian angel as well. I was just talking to my-" Charles face fell and he went pale. "...Boys," he said softly. "Oh no, I completely forgot about them!" Charles flapped his wings nervously. Erik put his hands up, looking mildly concerned. "What boys?"
"My charges!" Charles said, spinning around and flapping his wings nervously a few times, quickly running back towards the house. Erik loped a few paces, his long strides bringing him closer to Charles. He put one hand on Charles to stop him, or at least slow him down. Charles spun back around his eyes wide. "What. The. Hell," Erik said, enunciating every word. "Explain."
Charles shook his head, running a hand through his hair. "My boys! Alex and Sean and Hank! They were at school, and someone was bullying Hank, and they were fighting again, and I promised them I'd come get them and..!" He slammed a hand to his forehead. "My boys! Oh, I can't believe I forgot..."
Erik balked, frowning slightly. Charles grabbed his wrist and spun around again, his bare feet hitting the grass. "I've got to go, come on, Erik!"
"Engel!" Erik snapped. "It's Charles!" the angel himself shot back. For some reason, Erik found himself letting the angel keep his fingers wrapped around his wrist. Charles put two fingers of his free hand to his temple. "Raven! I'm leaving to get the boys. I'm bringing Erik, I'll be back soon, I promise!" Raven's voice came back to him quickly, her familiar voice in his head like she was standing right beside him. "Charles, what the hell? What did the boys do this time? Who's Erik? Why can I feel s-" Charles cut her off quickly, pulling his fingers down as he answered. "I'll explain later, I'll be back soon!"
It was Erik's turn to butt into the conversation. "Charles, what the hell?!" he snapped. "Where are we going?"
"I told you!" Charles said, and he stretched his wings out, beating them for real this time. He rose into the air, and in an effort to keep up with him, Erik beat his too, and for a few moments, they were flying together, wrapped in the warm, late afternoon air, connected by Charles' fingers holding Erik's wrist and something much deeper than that. And then one wingbeat after another, they rose together, higher and higher, until with not even a sound, they disappeared.
When the oddly-matched pair reappeared, they were a few yards above the dirty pavement of the alley. When they reappeared, it wasn't with much ceremony. They weren't there, and then they were, the demon with the dark wings and the angel with the brilliantly white ones, and they were beating their wings, and they were flying again.
Charles finally realized he was holding on to Erik's wrist and released it, beating his wings. He peered around before angling his wings just so he could hover and speak. Erik blinked, and his eyes were dark for a moment and he beat his powerful wings once more so he was equal with Charles. "The school is not too far to the north. We could just fly in but then I'd have to-" He paused and wiggled his fingers near the side of his head. "It's all too easy, but I'd rather not mess with the civilians. Just fold your wings in and I'll be able to camouflage them, unless...?" He raised an eyebrow slightly. "Can you?" Erik shook his head slightly. "Go right ahead, engel." Charles huffed slightly. "I'd quite prefer it if you'd use my name…"
He let himself drop a few feet, landing not-so-neatly on the ground, stumbling slightly before Erik's arm caught him. "Sorry, my friend," Charles said quickly. "It's been centuries, maybe even millennium, and I can still never get the landings…" He shook his wings out once more as the demon across from him raised an eyebrow curiously. "Just a moment…" Charles said, and he blinked and tilted his head slightly to right. "There we go. Now no one will be able to see the wings. I mean, technically, I have three sets but one is so much easier to manage. I'm already knocking shelves over all the time…" Erik cut him off with a look. "You talk a lot, has anyone ever told you that?" Charles laughed nervously. "All the time, actually. You'd forget your wings if they weren't attached to your back, Charles," the angel said, mimicking his sister's tone. "Raven. You'll have to meet her. Follow me, my friend." The term of friendly endearment slipped out of his lips and he didn't even notice it, jerking his head slightly and taking off at a normal pace down the street.
It only took Erik a few paces to catch up.
Charles scanned the streets, smiling at the passers-by. He seemed so nice, Erik thought dimly. Polite to everyone, even perfect strangers and demons crushing his flowers by crash-landing in his garden. Too nice… It had to be a cover-up. No one was that nice, human, angel, or demon. He thought on this while they walked, because truthfully, no one could be that polite. Charles… It even sounded like a polite name. He was just oozing niceness, wasn't he?
Lost in his thoughts, following Charles, he didn't notice they'd stopped until he ran into the smaller man, grabbing his shoulder to steady himself. "Engel-" Charles was frozen. "Oh, no. No, no, no." Panickedly, he flapped his wings, skittering forward at a faster pace. "Not the boys. No one lays a finger on my boys."
He wasn't panicking anymore. Erik could tell that. Now, he was angry. And an angry Charles was not something that he wanted to see. He was so mild-mannered, so Erik had seen so far, that a pissed-off Charles had to be terrifying. "Charles," he said. "Charles. Charles. Engel!" Erik put his hand on Charles' shoulder, and Charles stopped, spinning around, and if Erik hadn't seen the half-dressed, rumpled, shoeless angel complain about his petunias, he'd probably be heading the other way rather quickly. "What happened?"
"The boys," Charles said, fuming, anger sparkling in his bright blue eyes. "Someone's targeted them. They have taken the school because they know they are mine. They are under my protection, and they've targeted them for that. No one touches my boys without going through me, first." Erik swallowed, anchoring Charles by putting his other hand on his shoulders. "Charles, talk to me. Who is it? Who has the boys? How can you tell?" Erik hadn't even met them, and he wasn't sure when they slipped into being the boys instead of your boys. "The demons. They've been after me for centuries, and just when I think they've stopped, they pull something like this-" He let out a noise that was somewhere between exasperation and rage. "I can sense them. I can hear them, in my head."
"Come on. Come with me, Erik, we've to go fetch them." He paused. "Oh. Oh, you're… Nevermind. You don't have to come. I'll understand. They're your kind." Erik drew in a deep breath, thinking hard. By the time he let it out, he'd made up his mind. "I'm coming with you."
"Okay," Charles said as they hurriedly made their way towards the school. "I'm not big on plans, but when we get there, we're going to have to do a couple things. You're going to need to find and evacuate the remaining civilians. I can… I can do something and I can control it, but I don't want to risk it." Erik nodded. He wasn't sure he wanted to know what Charles was going to do. "Next we're going to have to find the boys. Alex, Sean, and Hank are their names. They're… They're different. Alex, he's about my height, messy blonde hair, probably looks like he's about to fight someone. Sean, reddish-brown hair, sounds a bit Irish, voice cracks sometimes and he's also very loud. Hank's taller than me, an inch or two I think. He's also… His hair's blue. And his eyes. Don't ask about, it's a slightly touchy subject. Actually, I think they're all about my height… Or taller…"
I know my boys, so chances are they aren't going to want to leave with you. They aren't going to want to leave at all if I'm still there, so you're going to have to bring them to me. I'll try and coerce them into leaving, and when they inevitably refuse, keep them close. I'm not letting them get hurt. I feel horrible for dragging them into this anyway… Got that?" Erik nodded, twitching his wings and unfolding them slightly. "Got it, Charles." Charles hesitated before he continued speaking, ruffling his own wings. He almost looked like a cat with its fur sticking up, a few feather mussed up. "You don't… I'm not going to make you fight them, Erik. They could be your family. I don't want you to-" Erik cut him off. "No worries, Charles. I don't have a family."
Charles ruffled his wings again, swallowing. "Oh, I'm sorry, my friend. Perhaps you will after this." He beat his wings again, because they were close enough to the school that it was necessary to get there. Erik didn't even have time to ask Charles what the hell do you mean by that, perhaps I'll have a family after this because Charles was flying away, his powerful wings beating, sending gusts of air downward, cutting gracefully through the air, his- Erik stopped his train of thought when Charles called out. "Come on, Erik! We're almost there!" The wind carried his voice down, and Erik took a deep breath and beat his wings a few times, surging up to meet Charles, and his angel leading the way.
The roof of the school loomed ahead. They weren't the first people there, apparently, Charles realized quickly. A small fleet of police cars were surrounding the front half of the school, where Charles knew the main doors were. There was also a growing crowd of civilians, and Charles sighed in his head. Civilians. He could deal with them, but he didn't want to. "Hey, engel," Erik shouted up to his angel, who paused and slowed slightly. "Why can't they see us?" Charles blinked. "I've cloaked us," he said. "They can't see us, and they won't be able to until I remove it, which I'm not planning on doing until we get safely inside." Charles circled the top of the building, and damn the sentiment, but he really does look like an angel, Erik realized quickly, pushing the thought to the very back of his mind.
Charles paused, and he put two fingers to his temple. He didn't need to, but it was a familiar, comforting gesture. "Boys?" he said, and he stretched his mind out, tapping into the police radio frequency. Professor! they all three said at the same time, and Charles could immediately separate each of their voices and attach it to one of his boys. Professor, we tried to call you, but the demons, they did something, we couldn't reach you, Hank explained, and Charles nodded, filtering through the white noise of the police radio as he listened. "It's alright, boys," he said. "I've come to get you. I've brought my friend, his name's Erik. He's a demon, but he's with me. He's not going to hurt you. Stay where you are. You heard that, boys? Stay where you are." They didn't verbally answer but he could tell they were nodding. "Are you boys somewhere safe?" It was Sean's turn to answer. Uh, I think so, Prof. We pushed up some… Some desks near the door of one a' the classrooms. They're not here now but they're lookin' for us, Prof. They kept sayin' sumthin' about needin' us 'cause they wanted you, Prof.
Charles nodded slowly, catching something on the police radio. Only civilians- three high school boys- hostiles still in place- hostages- He cut out the connection and turned all of his focus to the boys. "Yes, yes, I know. I'm so very sorry boys. Stay where you are, and Erik or I will be along to get you soon. We have to have a word, alright? Before you let one of us in. We're going to say… Monopoly, alright?" There was a sharp intake of breath from the other end of the connection, from all three of the boys in sync, as if Charles had uttered a very dirty swear word. "You are not to let anyone in unless they tell you that word, alright?"
Yes, sir. Yes, Professor, Hank answered quickly, but he didn't repeat it.
Hey, and, Professor? Alex said. You don't got anything to be sorry for.
Charles swallowed, but as the boys on the other line fell silent, he almost smiled. As in touch with their feelings as they were – which wasn't very, because Charles had met lumberjacks more in touch with their feelings than some of his boys – they usually knew what to say to him. "I can't believe I got them into this…" Charles finally said before swallowing. "I know where they are, I've found them. Far northwest corner, they've barricaded themselves into a classroom. You've to go get them. But when you arrive, you have to tell them something. You have to tell them Monopoly, alright?" Erik frowned, his brows knitting together. "Why… Why Monopoly?"
Charles shook his head slightly. "It's… The boys came over, once. To my home, mine and Raven's. And they wanted to play a game, and…Monopoly was suggested. It was widely regarded as a bad move, the game was banned, and the name of the game is treated as a swear word. Nevermind the story now… We need to get in there."
Erik grinned, the corners of his lips turning upward. "That I can do, my friend." He angled himself towards the roof of the building, beating his wings every so often to keep himself up, and he thrust his fist downward towards the roof. As soon as he pushed his fist downward, in the exact spot below him, the ceiling began to crumble and collapse until with a great loud noise, it caved in, forming a hole big enough for the taller man with his wings stretched out to fly through. Charles laughed appreciatively and blew out a breath. "Oh, my friend…" Erik shrugged, smiling. "Angels can destroy, but you are more adept at healing. Creation. Demons can… Repair, but we are far, far more adept at destruction. Northwest corner, yes? Monopoly?"
Charles flinched at the word, but he nodded. "Yes, yes, my friend. I can sense you, but I'm not sure if you will be able to sense me. It's too late to forge a connection. Have the boys alert me once you are all together, alright? I will update you to my location." Erik nodded, and the corner of his lip twitched. "Good luck, engel." Charles paused. "Good luck, my friend."
Erik was able to locate the children quickly. It wasn't exactly an incredibly large school, more sprawling than it was tall, and northwest was an easy direction to follow. He folded his wings in, jogging through the halls, past closed classroom doors, through halls plastered with lockers, past a wide set of double doors that he assumed was the cafeteria from the smell. He did not get lost easily, and even following Charles' simple directions, he was there quickly. But he wasn't the only one there.
There was a man with a large set of black wings folded on his back trying to force his way into the room the boys were in. He was either a lower level demon – they'd barricaded the door with chairs and desks, and they were a couple of teenagers – or they were purposely trying not to harm the boys. He wasn't Charles, but he sounded like Charles.
Erik was silent, watching before he made his move. The demon was grabbing the door handle and speaking through the crack. "Come on, boys. It's time to go! Let me in." Another voice, which Erik had to assume was Sean because it was equal parts crackly and Irish, responded. "If you're really the Prof," he began, and two slightly lower voices, which Erik was led to believe were Alex and Hank, finished. "What's the word?"
The demon exhaled with a puff of breath. "Word? Don't say such nonsense, boys, now come on, let me in." Erik had heard enough. This was going to get violent fast, so he decided to intervene. He strode towards the door, and the demon heard him, turning. His eyes were black when he exhaled gratefully, lowering his voice. "Erik. Thank God you're here. We thought you weren't gonna show. We need the boys if we're gonna get Mr. Do-Gooder up there to crack. Help-"
Erik's hand shot out, wrapping around the demon throat. He lifted him up, the demon grabbing at Erik's fingers and trying to pull them apart, and slammed him into the wall. He leaned forward. "No one," he said quietly, his voice sounding deadly. "No one," he repeated, "touches those boys without going through Charles. And me." He straightened up, leaning back from the demon, and spoke again, tossing him down the hall with a flick of his wrist. With another wave of his hand, the demon's eyes went black, and then white, and then he was still.
The demon with the German accent sighed, turning and heading for the door. He tapped on it with one hand, and he immediately heard scrambling as the three boys inside rearranged themselves. "We're- we're armed!" Hank – he assumed – shouted back. "No need to be alarmed," Erik said evenly. "I'm Erik. Erik Lehnsherr. Charles sent me, your Charles." There was a pause in the room, and it was quiet except for their breathing, before Alex spoke. "What's the-" Erik cut him off. "Monopoly." There was a sharp intake of breath, a quickly whispered discussion, and then loud sounds of desks and things being dragged across the floor.
After a few moments of the shuffling and pulling and more whispered dialogue ("Hank, here, get this." "Sean! Sean! Let Hank get it, he's-" "Sean, I got it, I got it!" "Sure you're alright, Beast?" "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine, I can do it- Sean, put that down.") the door barely cracked open and a sliver of a blonde-haired boy who, using Charles' descriptions, Erik decided quickly was Alex, was visible. "So," he said, looking Erik, the tips of black feathers visible behind his back visible, up and down. "You're that Erik guy the Prof was talkin' about?" Erik nodded and inclined his head, taking a step and turning. "Yes, I am. Erik Lehnsherr. Now, come on. We're to go find your engel."
The door opened more and the three boys followed, casting Erik and the still body a few looks. The first one out did have a messy mop of blonde hair, and as a matter of fact, he looked like he was about to fight someone. Erik had seen that look in many a pair of eyes in his day. There was a small gash, not bleeding now but sticky with blood, right on his hairline. The second boy was shockingly… Blue. Hank, of course. His hair was a dark shade of the primary color and his eyes the same shade, a pair of glasses perched on his nose, one of the lenses chipped. He was holding one of his arms oddly to his chest, and from the looks of it, it may have been broken in one or two places. The third was a squirrel-y looking kid with reddish-brown hair that was probably Sean who had what looked like a few tissues wrapped around the palm of his right hand.
"Why are you with the Professor?" Alex asked defensively. Erik shook his head slightly. "We met under unusual circumstances. Now is not the time for that story." Alex sighed. "Well, uh, I'm-" Erik shook his head. "I know who you are. He's talked about you. You are Alex… Sean… and Hank." He nodded to each of the three in turn, correctly guessing the names. "I got them right, yes? Now nevermind that, we're to be getting out of here." Alex shook his head defensively, taking a step back to be in line with the other three. "We're not leaving. Not while Charles is still here. Not without him."
Erik sighed. "Self-righteous angels and their self-righteous kids… Fine, he said you'd tell me that. He told me to tell you three to contact him with your… Connection. To let him know that I found you and you are safe."
"Alright," Alex said reluctantly, and Erik got the impression that Alex was the one who did most of the talking. "Hey, Professor?" he started. "Yeah, your… friend found us." He paused before speaking towards the other three in the hallway with him. "He says that-"
Sean cut him off. "You know we can hear him too, Al-" Irritably, Alex answered. "Sean, you wingnut, I know that, but Erik can't, alright?" Sean lapsed into silence. "Oh. Oh, yeah."
"Like I was saying, he says that we're to stay with you, Erik." He blinked once before he continued speaking. "Yeah, Shark Week here said we were supposed to come find you? So where are you?" He tilted his head slightly listening. "Okay. Okay, yeah. We'll be there. Stay with Erik, I know, I know." He paused, and Hank answered. "Thanks, Professor."
They were all quiet for a moment before Alex turned and addressed Erik. "Courtyard." He nodded to Sean and Hank behind him. "We know the way, we'll show you. We're supposed to stay with you , but you probably got that…" Erik inclined his head. "Lead the way, Alex."
"It's towards the other back corner of the school," Alex explained as he led the way through the suspiciously empty hallways. The other two were walking beside Erik, glancing at him every few seconds. The school was crawling with demons, Charles had said, so where the hell – pardon the pun, he thought in his own mind – were they? "Pretty shit place for it, if you ask me, but we got out there and eat lunch every day. He packs us lunches, you know? Our damn guardian angel, and he's makin' us PB&Js… Anything more complicated than that and he can't do it. Raven told us once he's not allowed in the kitchen." Alex let out a breath, nodding towards a hallway as he loped through it. "This one, the doors are at the end of the hall." Erik stopped, and the rest of the small group faltered when they noticed he wasn't moving. "Er-" Erik held up a hand and silenced them. He'd heard something.
"-archangel," a voice had spat, and Erik knew it was coming from the courtyard, knew it was coming from a demon. He couldn't hear Charles' response, but he could feel it, the reverberations echoing deep in his bones.
"Hank, watch out!" Sean shouted suddenly, tugging Erik out of his stupor, and Erik was quite ready to jump into a fight, but Hank had it covered, it looked like. A demon, his skin red and his eyes black, had appeared behind the small group, evading Erik's superior senses.
Hank spun around, and using his good arm – the right one – he grabbed the devil-man's wrist and slammed him to the ground while - the kid didn't look like he had that in him – roaring like a bear. Erik snapped his fingers and snapped the demon's neck quickly. "Good job," Erik said approvingly, while Sean whooped. "You go, Hank!" he said with a laugh, and he smacked Hank's arm. The blue-haired boy hissed in pain and pulled his arm away, but he was smiling sheepishly once the pain had faded to a dull ache. "Thanks…"
Erik cut short the celebration. "Leave him. There will be more where that came, we have to find Charles." He led the way this time, ushering the kids through the doors.
The courtyard was a piece of shit. It was a large stone circle on the ground, a flowerbed in the center, a tiny koi pond, and a few benches scattered around. Well, it used to have been, because bricks were thrown every which way, shattered on the ground. Shattered. Most of the rest of it was intact, but it did look like a fight had occurred. Charles was flying a few yards above the ground, his wings out their full, impressive span. He looked dangerous, nothing at all like the rumpled, old-fashioned professor-like man that Erik had first met. He wasn't watching them, his eyes on the old-looking array of demons scattered about the courtyard. Oh, and there were a lot of them. 20, at least, but Erik wasn't able to get an accurate count.
Charles blinked and he turned his head just slightly, catching sight of them. "Oh, boys," he said, and he sounded truly remorseful. "I thought I would be done. I didn't want you to have to see this. Close your eyes. All of you, close your eyes." Uncertainly, they watched, not yet acting, when one of the demons, a female, her pale skin sparkling like diamonds, responded. "Scared your charges are going to see you fall, archangel?"
Charles sighed softly, very softly, and he looked sad. Like he really didn't want to do what he had to do. He swallowed and directed his eyes towards the three boys and Erik, his wings spread out around them protectively. "Please. Close your eyes, my friend."
The three boys closed their eyes, albeit reluctantly, but Erik kept his open. He had to know what was going to happen.
Charles… Charles started to glow. A silvery-gold light was coming out of every pore of his body, every fiber of his being. His feathers were individually outlined in light and the outline of two more pairs of wings was growing on his back, feathers added as if God himself crafting Charles' wings. Suddenly all there was, all Charles was, was light. And a noise… It wasn't a whine and it wasn't a scream, but all the demons could hear was a ringing. It was Charles' real voice, and none of them could process it. The light was burning him, it was burning all of them, and Erik fumbled, dropping to his knees. He pulled the three boys as close to him as they could get, wrapping his wings around them.
Erik screwed his eyes shut, ducking his head, and Charles screamed, and then there was an explosion of light that he could feel against his closed eyelids, and then there was nothing.
Erik wasn't sure how much time had passed when he finally pried his eyelids open. It could have been hours, minutes, or even seconds. His heart was pounding and he swallowed. All three of the boys were still wrapped tight in his wings. "Are you three alright?" he said quietly, his voice hoarse. "Yeah, yeah," Sean said, although they all looked shaken. "What the hell happened?" Alex demanded, and Hank was quiet. "What had to," Erik said solemnly, retracting his wings slowly and folding them so they were flat on his back, immediately scanning the courtyard for Charles.
The courtyard was decimated. The windows of the school on the side where the three boy s and Erik had emerged had been blow out, glass sparkling everywhere. The koi pond had been mostly blown apart, a fish still swimming in the very bottom in a few inches of water. Stone they should have been walking on was cracked and the bricks lining the circle were blown to bits. And the demons… Their bodies… Erik directed the children's eyes the other way, and that when he saw Charles.
His- the engel was laying crumpled on the ground, his eyes shut, his skin deathly pale. Blood was smeared on his face and staining his beautiful white wings, which looked a bit rattier, a few scarlet feathers morbidly decorating the ground around. Charles. Charles. Charles.
Erik scrambled up from the ground, darting towards Charles, and he'd just met him today, but he felt like he'd known Charles his whole long life and he wasn't dead he couldn't be dead he couldn't be Erik would let it be he'd do something he'd-
His feet skidded on the rubble, but he ignored it, sliding to the ground behind Charles, the boys scrambling up. He gathered Charles up, pulling him into his lap. "Come on," he demanded. "Come on. You can't be dead. I've just met you, I won't allow it. I will not allow it." Charles' wings were limp, and Erik gently folded them back in, swallowing past a lump in his throat. He looked up suddenly, the boys approaching quickly. His heartbeat froze for a moment and he quickly shouted, "No! No. No, stay back." Hank, Alex, and Sean hesitated, each of them creeping forward and anxiously casting glances at the professor, their angel, Charles, but Erik snapped again and they stopped. "I said stay back!"
Erik brushed a bloody clump of hair back from Charles' forehead, leaning forward. "Charles, please. Charles. Charles!" Hank was speaking softly from where the three boys that Charles held in such high regard stood a handful of yards away. "Professor- Charles- Charles, come on. Please." His voice cracked. "Please. You're the only home we've ever known, Professor, you gotta-" The other two were shocked into silence, which was… Unusual, he figured.
"Damn you," Erik swore suddenly, pulling Charles closer towards him. "Damn you to hell. I can't- I can't fix you. I'm a demon. You're not allowed to die, alright? I forbid it. I've forbid it." Erik's voice tapered off, and Hank was silent, and Alex and Sean weren't speaking. No one was saying a word, and all one could hear were the wailing of sirens in the distance and the soft, steady breathing of the four present.
It was if the world was holding its breath for a moment, and Alex, Hank, Sean, and Erik did as well. (Maybe Sean's cheeks were sticky wet with tears and maybe they weren't, he wouldn't admit to anything.)
"What the hell is going on?!" The voice was anything but stagnant, sharp and loud and somewhat familiar even though Erik had never met the woman - because it was clearly a woman - it belonged to. He looked up and Alex, Sean, and Hank turned as well, and the eyes of the boys widened. "Raven!" Alex shouted suddenly, and Erik quickly connected the dots. Raven, the sister Charles had mentioned. Raven, an angel. Raven, a blue-skinned angel with a pair of wings, feathers the blue of her skin and other almost the color of Charles'. She looked panicked, scared, and there was a hispanic girl with long dark hair quick at her heels as well who was muttering in Spanish. "Alex? Charles was acting weird, he said he was going to go get you with some guy named Erik and then I heard him screaming in my head and-" She stopped dead, and if it was possible for a woman with blue skin to go pale, she did, because she'd caught sight of her brother, white and bloody and limp in Erik's arms.
The hispanic girl and the blue-skinned Raven started to run, but Erik threw up a hand again, looking up, his eyes sparkling. "No!" he shouted forcefully again. He'd felt an animal instinct, burrowed deep inside him, to protect. If he was... If he really was... If he was gone, he didn't want the boys near. He didn't want his sister and the hispanic girl who was probably a close friend near either. "I said stay. Back." He leaned forward and pressed his forehead to Charles', listening. He didn't hear anything, not that beat of a heart, not the soft puff of breath. For all he knew about angels, Erik didn't know if they needed to breathe, necessarily. He could be alive, he could just be asleep, but he could be-
He stopped, and he didn't even need to look up to know that Raven and the hispanic girl had joined Hank, Alex, and Sean in their silent, frightened vigil, waiting for Erik or Charles - someone - to make a move.
"Come on," Erik said, and he went to pound Charles' chest to stimulate some kind of movement, but his hand stopped an inch before it made contact, slowly resting, fingers splayed out, across Charles' still chest. "Come on, you stupid, careless, kind idiot. Come on. Wake up. Don't leave them, don't leave your boys. You love them, I can tell. So don't do it. Don't leave them. I did it, I did this, I caused this, and I can't... I can't take that back, but I will not let you leave them. I've..." He trailed off. "I've only known you a very short time, but I feel like I've known you for years and years, Charles. I want you by my side, Ch... My friend. My friend. Mein fruend. My friend, dammit, my friend. That's what you called me. You call me your friend. I can't loose my first friend after I've just got him.
The world was still for one moment, everything still, after Erik's voice crackled out.
And another moment.
Nothing happened and it kept happening. Nothing, nothing, nothing. And Charles was dead, he was dead, and Erik had barely known him, but he'd called him friend, he'd cared about him, and now he was dead.
Sean let out a choked sob and Alex pushed his emotions deeper and Hank pushed his dark blue hair back and tried not to cry and the hispanic girl who was called Angel felt her chest tightening because her friends loved him and Raven loved him and she loved him and Raven's knees were shaking and she felt like she was about to collapse and Erik mentally berated himself because he'd barely known the man and he was not going to cry when the only man - angel - who called him friend died, but his eyes betrayed him and he sat up, squeezing his eyes shut tight and bundling Charles' body into his arm, a tear leaking out. He let out a deep, shaky breath, and he opened his eyes and looked up. He made eye contact with Raven and motioned for her to come forward with one finger. She slipped, letting out a sob as she fell next to him.
"You idiot," she said. "You stupid, stupid angel, you- you- You promised- He promised me," she said, looking up at Erik, and her voice cracked as well. He swallowed again and wrapped his fingers tight around the front of Charles' shirt and he blinked, holding his eyes closed longer than necessary, and everyone was quiet again and Raven was closing her eyes.
When Erik opened his own, a pair of vibrant blue ones greeted him. He let out what was supposed to be a laugh, but was leaning more towards a wheeze, but he was talking and his eyes were so bright- "Oh, m-my friend... You... You did not do th-this..." Raven sat bolt upright and the other four children rushed forward, but right now, Erik and Raven alike only had eyes for the idiot they both had in common. "Charles, you imbecile," he said, but the relief in his voice couldn't be disguised. "I protected them, I did, I protected them for you, and you- you- you went on and-... Whatever the hell that was!" he added, angrily, but Charles could feel his emotion rolling off of him. He wasn't angry, not really.
("Welcome back, Professor," Alex said, and he offered a mock salute.)
Charles laughed again, and it was closer to a real laugh. He shifted, wincing, attempting to get more comfortable, and Erik unconsciously supported him, a barrier between him and the ground. It was Raven's turn, Raven his sister, to berate him, and he accepted it without complaint. "You promised me you wouldn't do anything stupid, you idiot, you promised." Charles laughed, and this time it was so close to a real, full laugh that Erik felt his heart twitch. When Charles laughed, it made him want to smile. "I promised you a great, great many things, I'm afraid."
He shifted his weight again, and apologized to Erik. "I'm sorry, my friend-" Erik cut him off. "It's alright, Charles. Alex already told you once, you've nothing to apologize for." The corners of Charles' eyes crinkled as he smiled. "He did, didn't he," he recalled fondly, trying to sit up before Erik gently pushed him back down into his lap. Charles scanned the scene before him and his face split into a wider smile. "Raven, when did you..." He trailed off and the blue-skinned angel took over. "I heard you," she said simply. "In my head. You were..." She faltered. "You were screaming. Something had to be wrong, so I... I came by. Angel was around outside, she was just about to call me. She was leaving late because she had tutoring to go to and as she was leaving these... These people with black eyes took the school, and Alex, Sean, and Hank. I got us in without anyone seeing, and you were here, and this guy-" She inclined her head towards the German-speaking demon. "-was holding you and you... You looked pretty dead. So I freaked, alright? And then you just... Woke up. Who is this guy anyway?"
"Oh!" Charles said. "Oh, yes. This is Erik." Erik waved slightly, just moving his fingers. "I'm Erik," he said simply, and Raven rolled his eyes. "You had to go and get yourself a hot boyfriend who crash-landed in our damn backyard, didn't you?"
"Yeah," Charles said slightly dreamily. "I couldn't resist." Erik paled. "Wait, wh- Wait, what?" Raven laughed, wiping tears off of her cheeks. "We'll explain later."
"Well, I'd..." Erik faltered, composing himself before speaking again. "What the hell did you actually do?" Charles nibbled his lip, thinking, before he finally spoke. "What I had to do," he said finally. Sean cut in suddenly with a laugh. "Ha! That's what Erik said, too!" Suddenly, the stress of their best friend, their brother, their guardian angel almost dying melted away and none of them could stop laughing. Finally, Erik managed to compose himself enough to speak again. "Really, what did you do?"
Charles sighed softly. "Well... It's this... This trick I can do. Vaporize demons. I haven't had to do it in quite a very long while, and there were a lot of them, and I had to channel it into a smaller area and keep from hurting you, my friend. It took a toll on me." Sean poked his head into the conversation once more. "You looked pretty badass," the Irish boy admitted. "All... Lighty. And wingy." They were all laughing again, but for a shorter amount of time this time. "Why, thank you, Sean," he admitted. "Are you three alright? You boys?" They shifted slightly, focusing on him, and they all nodded with various verbal affirmations. Charles frowned, his brow furrowing. "You're hurt," he said. "All three of you, you're hurt. The demons, I-" Hank shook his head. "Really, Professor," he said sincerely, "we're alright. We just got... thrown around a bit." Charles huffed and sat up, and because he was getting some color back into his pale cheeks, Erik allowed it. "Come here," the angel said. "I'll fix you."
Raven stood up and shook her head, ruffling her wings. "I got this, old fart," she said casually smiling, and Erik chuckled - while Charles rolled his eyes. She stepped up to Sean first, who held out his hand obediently and winked at her as she unwrapped it. She rolled her eyes and pressed her own blue palm to the wound, which glowed slightly before healing up, without even a scar left. "Thanks, R," he said, grinning. She nodded in response, before healing the gash on Alex's forehead in a similar fashion. Hank was last, and he hesitated. "Really," he said. "I'm alright, you don't-"
"Hank," she said sharply, eyes on his face. "What?" he asked softly. "Shut up." The blue-haired teenager obligingly fell silent when Raven approached him, and he barely flinching when she touched his broken arm, but he did blush when after the bright light faded, Raven stood up on the tips of her toes and pressed a kiss to his lips, completely unhesitatingly.
Angel and Sean whooped together, high-fiving, and Alex rolled his eyes, grinning. "Get it!" he called out, and Charles laughed. "Sorry," Raven said when she leaned back on her feet, but she didn't look at all apologetic, Hank flushing red. "I've always wanted to do that." Hank stammered, stumbling over his words. "No, it's... It's alright. It was- Good. It was... It was good. Can I-" He flushed darker, and Erik smiled. "The red of your cheeks matches wonderfully with your hair, Hank," Charles said with a laugh. Hank shot his friends - and Charles - a look before he spoke again. "Can I, uh..." Raven sighed. "Yes, you can kiss me back, you doof." Hank glanced at Charles nervously. "Charles, you don't-" Charles shook his head, beaming. "You have my blessing."
It was Hank's turn to bend down and kiss her forcefully, and she threw her arms around his neck and his were around her waist, and the three children high-fived amongst themselves. "Get it, Hank!"
They finally separated after what looked like lots of tongue, and Hank was grinning, but his cheeks were still tinged pink.
"Now," Charles said, smiling, "I don't know about you six, but I'd rather like to go home. I've got to start looking for a new school for three of you..." Angel made an indignant noise, crossing her arms. "Four of you." There was a panoply of responses from Hank, Raven, Alex, Sean, and Angel, but Erik remained silent. Charles turned slightly and frowned at him. "What?" he said softly. "Do you not want to come back with us?" Erik opened his mouth and closed it, shaking his head slightly. He wanted to, really he did, because this ragtag group looked like a family, something he could be a part of, but... Was he wanted? Charles was such a beautiful man inside and out, and Erik could already tell that he saw the best in everything, but could he see the best in Erik? "Of course you are, my friend," Charles said softly, and that was when Erik, blushing furiously remembered that Charles could read minds, to an extent. "You are beautiful, and you are good, and you are wanted. Now, come home with us."
Raven looked him up and down and spoke. "Yeah," she agreed, her arm around Hank's waist. "If my nerd big brother is going to be getting into trouble, I'm going to need someone else to help look after him." Erik smiled, soft at the edges and looking, for a moment, like all the good Charles saw in him. "Alright," he said. "Alright, I'll come. I'll need to help you replant your petunias, anyway..." Charles laughed.
Erik moved, ready to help Charles up. The angel in question balked, putting an arm around Erik's neck and grinning. "I don't think my wings are working perfectly yet," he said innocently. "You may have to carry me." The rest of the group laughed and Erik rolled his eyes, but smiled. He stood up, one arm under Charles' knees and the other near his shoulder blades, where his wing joints met his back. "There's something else..." Charles said conversationally. "I don't usually kiss on the first date, but I'm willing to make an exception..." Raven crowed loudly. "Charles Francis Xavier, you're quoting Tiny Cooper at that boy, I swear-"
Erik blocked her out, curled his wings around them, and he kissed Charles Francis Xavier.
When he finally retracted his wings, it may have been minutes or hours for all he knew. Erik scanned the small crowd in front of him. Hank and Raven, Sean, Alex, Angel... Charles. "Hey, guys?" Sean said, because while they were making out he'd drifted to the half-destroyed koi pond, and was now looking in it. "Can we keep the rest of these?" Everyone else groaned and Charles rolled his eyes. "Fine, Sean. One. You can keep one fish." Sean whooped. He glanced over at the rest of them. "Actually, he may need all of you. And hurry, the police will be in soon." Raven, Hank, and Angel meandered over towards the koi pond, but Alex hesitated and held back.
"Hey, Professor?" he asked. Charles tilted his head slightly, arms wrapped around Erik's neck, who shifted his weight slightly. "Yes, Alex?"
"If you're going to be dating a new housemate, can we at least agree to no sex in the kitchen?" Charles laughed, and to Erik, the sound was perfect. "No sex in the kitchen," Charles agreed. "Oh, and, Professor? One more thing."
"You forgot your shoes again."