poor_medea: (Fassbender kiss)
[personal profile] poor_medea





“Look at her,” Sean groans.

“Hmm?” Erik doesn’t look up from where he’s doodling in his history book. He’s drawing a little owl—or what’s supposed to be an owl—and thinking about Charles. The boy had been babbling about bird watching and owl’s mating habits the night before, and Erik’s pondering whether he should read up on the subject too. Charles always smiles so brilliantly when Erik takes an interest.

“Angel. Look at her.”

“What about her?” Erik grumbles, but obliges by lifting his head, his eyes seeking out the girl across the lunchroom. She’s eating at her usual table, and looks just like she did that morning, and the day before, and the day before that.

“Why won’t she talk to me?” Sean moans.

“Probably because you’re whiny.” Erik goes back to his drawing. “Why do you care if she talks to you, anyway?”

“Because she’s hot.” Sean sounds affronted.

Erik looks up again. Is she? His gaze falls on the girl again, examining her in a new light. He squints, trying to see what Sean sees. But she’s still the same short, dark-haired girl she’s been since she moved to town when they were all eleven.

“What are you losers talking about?” Alex asks, slapping his tray down on the table. Erik looks longingly at the greasy slice of pizza and can of soda. The Shaws don’t give him lunch money.

At least now he can pack his own bag lunch. Emma used to forget all the time, and Erik would just have to go hungry.

He eyes the sandwich in his hand, wondering if it would be better to eat nothing.

He’s not exactly a gourmet cook, especially not with what he can scrounge from the Shaws’ kitchen.

“Angel,” Sean sighs, looking at the girl the way Erik’s looking at the pizza.

Erik wonders how you can be hungry for another person.

Alex laughs. “Talked to her yet?”

Sean frowns. “Sort of.”

“She blew you off?”

“Well…”

Alex laughs through a mouthful of pizza. Sean blushes as red as his hair. Erik rolls his eyes.

“You guys are both losers,” he points out.

“Yeah? I never see you talking to girls.”

“I could.” He just never feels like it. He never notices the girls at school unless they know all the answers in class, or score goals during gym. Otherwise, they’re just sort of…there.

“Yeah right,” Sean scoffs.

Erik eyes his friend. He can see that talking to girls is important to Sean and Alex. And Erik wants to keep up, even if he doesn’t quite understand what the point is.

“Fine,” he says, closing his book and standing.

“Whoa, where are you going?” Sean’s eyes widen.

“To talk to Angel. Where else?”

“What? No!”

But Erik has already scooped up his books and is striding across the lunchroom, the sound of Alex’s uproarious laughter trailing after him.

“Hi Angel,” he says when he reaches her table. She looks up at him, surprise registering in her dark eyes.

“Hi.”

“Can I sit with you?”

“Oh. Um, sure.”

He slides into the seat next to her, nodding to the other girls at the table. “Miss MacTaggert’s history assignment was pretty brutal, wasn’t it?”

All the girls groan. “I was up so late working on it!” Angel agrees.

Erik smiles. This is easy.


________________________________________________



“So,” Angel says, as they leave the lunchroom. “Do you want to come over after school? We could do our homework together.”

“Sure?” Erik says, surprised by the offer. But Angel grins happily, so he just smiles back. She seems smart enough. Maybe she’ll be able to help him with his math.

They part ways outside the cafeteria, and Erik hasn’t gone more than ten feet when Alex and Sean barrel into him.

“Dude!” Sean exclaims. “You sat with her for like all of lunch.”

“Yeah,” Erik is feeling pretty smug. He doesn’t know why Sean was making such a big deal about it; talking to girls was just the same as talking to boys. But he likes it when his friends are impressed.

“Well? What did you talk about?”

“I don’t know. School and stuff.”

Sean groans. “Why didn’t I think of that? I go to school too!”

“You wouldn’t know it, though,” Alex rolls his eyes.

Sean ignores him. “Did she say anything else?”

Erik shrugs. “She invited me over to do homework this afternoon.”

“What?” Sean stops dead in his tracks, leaving Erik looking over his shoulder to find him.

“What?” he echoes.

“You have a date with Angel Salvadore? You knew I liked her!”

“It’s not a date.”

“Going over to her house to ‘do homework’ is definitely a date,” Alex says.

“Oh.” Erik frowns. He goes over to Sean and Alex’s houses to do homework all the time. Why is this any different?

“Ugh,” Sean says, stomping off down the hall.

“Don’t mind him. He’ll be in love with someone else by tomorrow,” Alex assures him. “You should just be excited you scored a date with Angel. She’s hot.”

Hot. There was that word again. Erik tries to see what his friends see. Angel is pretty enough, he supposes. She’s not too skinny, and she has nice skin—darker than anyone else’s at school.

But being around her doesn’t make him stammer or blush or get all weird and sweaty the way it does Sean.

He wonders if that means there’s something wrong with him.

Maybe he’ll ask Charles. Alex or Sean might laugh at him, but Charles never will.


_________________________________________________


“So, what do you want to work on?” Erik asks as he follows Angel into her house. “Math?”

“Oh, um…sure,” she says. She seems nervous. Erik wonders why.

“Do your parents mind me coming over?”

“No. They’re not even here right now,” she says. For some reason, she’s blushing. Erik frowns.

“Okay. Where do you like to work?”

Her blush deepens. “How about in my room?”

Erik shrugs, and follows her up the stairs. Her house is nicer than his, but most people’s are. Her room is very, very purple. The walls are purple, the bedspread is purple, the curtains are purple. He blinks.

“Uh, nice room,” he offers.

Angel smiles. “Thanks!” She plops down on the bed and gestures him over. Erik thinks they would have been more comfortable down at the kitchen table, given that Angel’s parents aren’t even home to interrupt them, but maybe she’s used to doing her homework in her room. He settles as best he can, rooting around in his bag for his math book.

Charles has been doing his best to explain algebra to him, but Erik is still at a bit of a loss. He can figure out math when it means something, like when they’re building stuff in shop class and the measurements matter, but algebra seems to be all concepts, with letters peppered in among the numbers and strange equations that he doesn’t see the point of.

Charles is pretty good at explaining it, but maybe Angel will be, as well.

Angel gets out her book, too, and for a moment they both bend over their assignment, puzzling out the list of problems.

After a minute, she scoots over on the bed, until their thighs are touching. “Do you understand number two?”

Erik sighs. Maybe she won’t be much help, after all.

“Yeah. You have to multiply and then divide.”

“Oh, okay. Thanks.” She ducks her head again, her hair tumbling over her face. A long strand brushes Erik’s shoulder. He shrugs lightly, trying to shift it off of him.

“What about number four?” She asks, shifting again to glance over his shoulder.

“Um…I’m not sure,” Erik admits.

“Well, what does the book say?” She leans in, turning pages in his book, even though her own is right next to her.

“Oh. We have to use the quadratic formula.” Erik really hates algebra.

“You’re really good at this!” Angel praises.

Erik looks up, startled. Is he?

Angel’s face is very close to his own when he raises his head, and she smiles at him shyly. He looks at the mole on her chin. It’s a really dark brown, and he thinks he can see a hair in the very center of it. He smiles. He’ll have to tell Sean.

Angel’s smile widens, and then she’s leaning closer.

Erik blinks, only realizing what’s happening a moment before her lips touch his. They’re sticky and smell like strawberries. He holds very still, unsure of what to do.

He hadn’t given it much thought, but this was not how he might have imagined his first kiss happening.

For one thing, he barely knows Angel.

Sean will be pretty jealous, though.

Angel’s lips move against his, and after a moment he presses back, trying to copy her movements. It’s really kind of awkward. Her face is so close to his, and when he cracks his eyes open, he can see the fine dusting of cosmetics on her skin. Her breath puffs humidly over his lips and her hair slides between them, tickling at his face.

Finally, she pulls back.

“That was nice,” she tells him, cheeks pink.

“Yeah,” he agrees, although he’s not entirely sure.

It wasn’t terrible. She didn’t have bad breath, or bite him or anything. He guesses it was an okay first kiss.

“Should we, um, go back to problem five?” he asks, watching her carefully in case she decides to do it again.

“Huh? Oh! Yeah, okay.” She blinks at him, appearing dazed, before looking back down at her book. Erik tries to subtlety shift away to give himself more space on the bed.


___________________________________________________



Angel walks him to the door, a big smile on her face. “I had a great time,” she tells him.

“Yeah, me too,” Erik says, trying to sound like he means it.

“We could do it again some time…” Angel suggests.

“Yeah, definitely,” Erik shifts his gaze out to the road, wondering how long it’ll take him to walk home from here.

Angel frowns slightly. “I’ll see you tomorrow, anyway,” she finally says.

“Yeah, of course,” Erik says. Where else would he be?

She gives him a tiny smile. “Well, bye.”

This time, he sees it coming. Her cheeks are pink and she’s already closing her eyes as she leans in.

Erik figures there’s not much he can do about it, so he lets himself be kissed, applying slight pressure to Angel’s lips. At least most of the strawberry flavour has worn off.

“Okay!” Angel squeaks as she draws back. “Bye!” She darts off into her house, leaving Erik standing on her front stoop, bemused.

He wonders what’s going to happen when he sees her at school the next day. Is he going to be expected to kiss her all the time? Because he’s pretty sure he should get some say in that, but Angel just keeps doing things without asking him.

It’s a long walk home, but that gives him time to puzzle over his date. And he guesses it must have been a date, since there was kissing. That seemed to be one of the prerequisites, anyway, although on TV dates were more exciting than sitting in someone’s room, doing math homework.

Still, they got almost all the problems done. So, there’s that.

He shrugs, scuffing his sneakers in the dirt as he walks.

Kissing Angel wasn’t quite what he had expected. On TV and in movies, people always seemed pretty in to kissing. But it had been awkward more than anything else.

Maybe it was because he didn’t think Angel was ‘hot,’ the way Sean and Alex did.

Would it be better with a different girl?

He thinks about the girls in his class. They’re okay, he guesses, but he doesn’t know if any of them are ‘hot’.

His head is still in the clouds when he passes the cow pasture, and he almost doesn’t see Charles sitting there, a book in hand. He catches sight of him out of the corner of his eye and stops himself before he walks right by his friend. Charles doesn’t notice, too absorbed in what he’s reading.

“Hi,” Erik drops down beside him.

“Oh.” Charles carefully marks his place. “Hi.”

Erik suspects he wants to ask where Erik has been all afternoon, but Charles has sworn to be more understanding about Erik’s need for other friends. He almost never complains about it these days, although he does sometimes offer Erik big, sad eyes, that make him want to stay home with Charles anyway.

“How can you tell if a girl is hot?” Erik asks without preamble.

“Hot?” Charles echoes, frowning.

“Yeah, you know. Hot,” he gestures abstractly. He can’t really explain the term any better, since he obviously doesn’t know what qualifies.

“Well, I guess if they’re pretty?” Charles suggests.

Erik nods. It makes sense, but although he can objectively see that Angel is pretty—as are some of the other girls in his class—he doesn’t know if that makes her hot. Or, her prettiness doesn’t make him hot, which he thinks might be more to the point.

“Why?” Charles prompts.

“Sean and Alex both think Angel is hot.”

“Angel…from your class?” Charles frowns again, the look he gets when he’s puzzling something out. “The one with the dark hair?”

Charles knows everyone in town—he spends so much of his time just watching other people, that he remembers all their names and faces.

“She kissed me today,” Erik says, and feels a little proud even though he hadn’t really enjoyed it.

Charles’ eyes widen. “Really?”

Erik nods, wondering if Charles is impressed. But the other boy frowns and looks away. “Was it nice?” he asks quietly.

“I guess.”

“Oh. Um, I have to go.” Charles stands abruptly.

Erik laughs, but then realizes Charles is serious. “Go where?” The other boy has nowhere else to go, no one else to see.

“I forgot something,” he says vaguely and hurries off down the lane. Erik thinks he sees Charles wiping at his eyes and frowns.

It has been a very strange day.


_______________________________________________


Erik lays awake, wondering about Charles’ behavior. He waited in the field for awhile, thinking his friend was going to come back, and when he didn’t, Erik got in trouble for coming home late.

Charles seemed upset, first at Erik’s question about Angel’s relative hotness, and then at the revelation that she had kissed him.

Erik rolls over, punching uselessly at his pillow. Is Charles upset because he wants to kiss Angel? It seems unlikely, even though both Sean and Alex probably do.

He’s sure Charles could kiss her, if only she could see him. He’s really good-looking; even Erik knows that. He’s got such blue eyes, bluer than the sky, and they’re so much bigger than Erik’s. And he has really long, dark eyelashes, too.

Even freckles look nice on Charles. Erik teases Sean about his all the time, but the light smattering across Charles’ nose really suits him. And he’s always so nicely dressed. Surely any girl would want to kiss him.

The thought makes Erik sad, although he isn’t sure why. Is it because Charles will never get to kiss a girl?

He drifts off to sleep, feeling unsettled.


_________________________________________________


He wakes at a knock on his window and sits up, squinting into the glare of the rising sun. Charles’ pale little face is pressed against the glass.

“Hey,” he whispers, pushing the window up.

“Good morning,” Charles smiles, and hauls himself in the window with the ease of years of practice.

“What’re you doing here?”

“I missed you,” he shrugs, dropping down in the mess of Erik’s sheets. “We didn’t get to hang out yesterday.”

Erik refrains from pointing out that Charles was the one who left.

“I missed you too,” he says instead. It’s something he would never say to Alex or Sean, although he does sometimes miss his friends when they’re away. But somehow, with Charles it’s always been okay.

Charles gives him a little smile, ducking his head slightly. He’s sure it’s something Charles has done a thousand times before, but this morning it gives Erik a start. He blinks, wondering why the gesture seems so familiar.

And then he remembers…Angel, perched on her bed, blushing and ducking her head, giving him shy smiles.

He shakes his head as he sits down next to Charles. Charles peers up at him from under his long, dark lashes and reaches up to push his messy hair out of his face. The image of Angel twirling a dark lock of hair, tucking it behind her ear, flashes unbidden into his mind.

Has Charles always looked at him like that?

The other boy nests in his bed, curling up against the pillows like he belongs there. Erik smiles.

“Are you excited to see Angel today?” Charles asks after a minute, biting at his rosy lower lip.

Erik shrugs. “Not really.”

“But aren’t you dating her now?”

“I don’t know. I guess yesterday was a date, even though I didn’t know until we were already on it.”

That draws a small smile from Charles. “But you kissed her.”

“She kissed me,” Erik corrects, feeling the importance of the distinction. He pauses, wondering if he should say more, and then realizes that he never keeps anything from Charles. “I didn’t really like it,” he admits.

Charles’ face inexplicably brightens. “Really? But kissing is supposed to be nice.”

“It was just weird. She had this gross strawberry stuff on her lips and I didn’t know what to do with my hands, and her hair was in the way,” he says in a rush.

“Maybe it’ll get better with practice?”

Erik looks down at his hands, picking at his nails for something to do. “I don’t know. All the other guys think she’s hot, but I don’t really see it. Do you think there’s something wrong with me?”

There, he’s said it.

“Erik, of course not,” Charles’ arms come to wrap around his shoulders, drawing him close. “Everyone has different taste. You don’t have to think she’s pretty just because Sean and Alex do.”

Erik frowns even as he leans into his friend’s arms. “I don’t really think any of the girls are hot,” he whispers.

“Well, we’re only thirteen,” Charles says reasonably. “I think that might be too young to date, anyway.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. Besides, I don’t really think about girls, either.”

Erik straightens, sitting up to peer into Charles’ eyes. “Really?” It’s such a relief. He doesn’t care if Charles is made up, if it’s just Erik’s subconscious projecting everything he wants to hear. It’s just nice to have someone who feels the same way.

Charles’ cheeks pinken as their eyes meet, faces close. Erik thinks again that its too bad no one else can see Charles. He’d have a girlfriend for sure, with eyes like that.

“Can I walk with you to school?”

Erik grins. “Of course.”


_______________________________________________


Angel tries to catch his eye in homeroom, but Erik bends over his books, pretending to do last-minute homework. He doesn’t know what to say to the girl. Now that Charles has told him it’s okay, he can admit that he doesn’t want to date her, or even kiss her. She’s nice enough, but she’s be happier with someone like Sean, who gets excited every time he sees her.

Erik only feels that way about one person. He smiles as he thinks about Charles waiting for him on his front stoop, or knocking on his window, grinning whenever he catches Erik’s eyes.

He still wishes other people could see his friend, that he could prove once and for all—to himself as much as to everyone else—that he isn’t crazy. But lately, he’s begun to appreciate the fact that he has Charles all to himself. He knows it’s sad and lonely for the other boy, but he can’t help but gloat over the fact that he’s the sole focus of Charles’ attention. He never has to worry that Charles likes someone else better; he never has to see that sunny grin directed at another person.

Guilt stirs in his stomach as he remembers the look on Charles’ face when he told him about Angel. Was that why Charles got upset? Because he was afraid Erik would spend all his time with Angel, and forget about him?

He resolves to reassure his friend, somehow. They’ve known each other for eight years now, and despite how hard it’s been, Erik wouldn’t give Charles up for anything. He knows what would happen if anyone found out he still sees Charles—at thirteen it can’t be dismissed as childish fancy—but he doesn’t care.

Charles is bright and smart and funny and interesting and so good-looking…

Erik’s thoughts break off with a start. He can’t seem to get the image of Charles’ pink cheeks and wide blue eyes out of his mind, or the way his friend bites at his lips, leaving them shiny and red. He feels himself flushing, the back of his neck heating, as he remembers the way Charles curled up in his bed, peeking up at him through his unruly bangs.

Charles is his best friend, so it should be okay to want to spend all his time with him, but somehow, Erik thinks the way he feels for Charles is not the way Sean feels for Alex. The way he’s thinking about Charles now is actually a lot more like the way Sean talks about Angel—about her hair and her eyes and her smile.

But if the way he feels about Charles is the way he should feel about Angel—then what does that mean?

Erik’s not stupid. He’s heard the word “gay” before. He’s heard the things Shaw says about ‘fairies’ and ‘fags.’

He never thought those things applied to him. He doesn’t act like a girl—he likes to play sports and get dirty and run around outside.

And yet, when he thinks about Charles, he can’t help but feel warm inside.

Erik bites his lip, ducking his head further over his book. He wishes he had someone to ask about all of this, but normally the person he’d talk to would be Charles.


__________________________________________________


“Erik, hey Erik!”

Erik winces as he hears Angel’s voice ring out across the lunchroom. He turns, offering an insincere smile as she bounds up to him.

“Hi!” she says breathlessly, smiling widely.

Sean and Alex murmur behind him, obviously listening.

“Hi,” he offers weakly.

“I’ve been trying to talk to you all day,” she laughs. “I wanted to tell you again what a great time I had yesterday. Do you want to come over again today?”

“I don’t think I can.”

“Oh.” Her face falls slightly. “Tomorrow maybe?”

Erik sighs, wishing they weren’t in a crowded lunchroom, with his friends standing right beside him. He lowers his voice. “I think you’re really nice, Angel. And I’d love to be friends with you. But, you know, just friends.”

Her face falls further. “Oh.”

He really hopes she isn’t going to cry.

But all she says is, “Yeah. Okay. Friends.” She offers him a tiny, tight smile and then hurries away, clutching her books tightly to her chest.

“Dude,” Sean hisses. “Did you just dump Angel Salvadore?”

“I guess?”

“Dude!” Alex crows, clearly impressed, and Erik shakes his head with disbelief.

“Do you think she’d go out with me now?” Sean asks anxiously. “Should I ask her while she’s still sad?”

_________________________________________________


Erik takes the long route home from school, needing to clear his head. Now that he’s let himself notice how Charles looks, it seems to be all he can think about.

He wonders if Charles feels the same way?

He doesn’t think about his own appearance a lot, but Angel seemed to think it was okay. And he’s tall—still the second tallest boy in the class. And he’s pretty athletic. Those are all good things, aren’t they?

He knows that what he needs to do is talk to Charles. They talk about everything; there’s never been anything Erik was afraid to tell him. But he doesn’t know how to start this conversation. ‘I think you’re prettier than Angel’ doesn’t sound right, even though it’s true.

Erik frowns and slows his steps, watching the dust swirl on the road in front of him. The real problem is that he doesn’t want to be like that.

He wants to be normal, more than anything else in the world. He wants to have two parents who love him, and a house he can really call his home. He wants friends that he knows are real, that everyone can see. And he liked the way Alex and Sean looked at him after he talked to Angel; he liked how impressed they were.

But wanting to be normal didn’t make kissing Angel any nicer.

His shoulders slump. Is he just destined to be a freak in every aspect of his life?

He reminds himself that Charles—who knows more than anybody, even McCoy—doesn’t think he’s a freak. But Charles isn’t really a great judge of normalcy.

He thinks it’s okay that Erik’s the only one who can see him.

Erik doesn’t know whether to be happy or terrified when he sees Charles standing in the road in front of him, squinting into the sun and watching his approach. He lifts a hand in greeting.

“Hi,” Erik says, stopping in front of him.

Charles looks at him speculatively. “No date this afternoon?”

Erik feels himself flush. “I told you I don’t like Angel that way.”

Charles shrugs. “That didn’t stop you from going on a date yesterday.”

Erik frowns. “Charles—”

“It’s just not fair,” Charles says in a rush, turning his gaze away.

“What’s not fair?” Erik can think of a lot of things, but not any Charles would want to talk about right now.

“You can just go and talk to anyone you want. Be friends with anyone you want. Kiss anyone you want.”

Erik knows Charles feels this way—he has for years. But it still hurts to think his friend resents him, especially for something he can’t help. He’s sure he wishes Charles were real just as much as the other boy does.

“I’ll never kiss anyone,” Charles mutters. “No one can see me and so no one will ever talk to me, no one will ever look at me, no one will ever kiss me.”

“I can see you.” Erik says instantly. Then he stops and blushes, realizing what he’s saying. But the thing is, he means it. He wants it. “I’ll kiss you.”

Charles’ head jerks up. “What?”

For one terrible second Erik thinks he’s wrong, that he’s completely misread his friend’s body language. But then he realizes that Charles doesn’t look disgusted. He looks…hopeful.

“If you’ll let me,” Erik says, stepping closer. “I’ll kiss you.”

Charles draws in a shaky breath, and then squares his shoulders resolutely. “Okay.”

Erik grins. “Okay.”

He leans in, praying he doesn’t get this wrong. It’s not like he has a lot of experience—although it’s more than Charles has.

Charles’ lips are soft under his, and gentle as they slide against him. Erik presses in as much as he dares, and it’s so different from kissing Angel. His pulse is racing and he feels hot all over—he’s not focused on the awkwardness or the angle or where to put his hands. He’s just caught up in the sensation of Charles’ mouth against his own.

After a moment, they draw back, and Erik knows he must have the most ridiculous grin on his face.

He doesn’t care, though, because Charles does too.


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