Okay, it does sound like I enjoy the stress, but beautiful part is, stress only begins when I begin packing; it's like a switch. Once the packing begins, so does the stress, be it a week early or while the cab honks outside. So if you will squint and ignore logic, it makes sense the majority of my packing is sometimes done while the cab is driving into the driveway.
...that's an exaggeration. The cab was late last time.
svmadelyn and I were given two glorious options by an old friend who I officially am nominating for sainthood that we're staying with. Well, I'm not actually sure what the second one was, as the first involved a deck, snacks, possibly some small, man-made body of heated water, and lounging. God, lounging. Like, half a country away from the current special hell that is the testing environments all kind of not working and the word 'deployment' means we all stare blankly at our screens and I, for one, have learned some surprisingly creative phrases in Hindi and Spanish to better explain to the screen the depth of my feelings. You might say to yourself, you are actually taking on faith they aren't teaching you something like "I smell like goats" or "Feet yay!" (okay, that would be hilarious).
In my defense, I am known to sing along to German heavy metal which I have been assured that despite the fact my ancestors actually came from that country (they left due to the reunification of--wait--the unification of two branches of German Protestantism. For some reason, I cannot get over the idea. They seem nice, I think) I sound like Wolverine with a hairball. As if Wolverine would get a goddamn hairball, so you see this is a total lie. Also, I apparently sing words that don't exist, or if they do, probably will summon Cthulhu or Pee-Wee Herman or some other epic and dreadful beast.
I may or may not have--please don't ask how--started a story that I assumed would be all post-beach-breakup angst and is--again, don't ask--Emma going to Charles for training because Shaw in between being a very special psycho never let her learn anything she could actually use against him. I don't even think they like each other, but I also am staring at five paragraphs of them getting drunk together because telepath do epic terrible jokes in between competitively trying to see if she can push him down the stairs before he can freeze her in place. They apparently have money riding on this. And Alex is the only one that doesn't hate her because it's the first time Charles has laughed since the beach.
...I literally keep staring at it wondering what the hell just happened. Though competitive stair-pushing, that I get.
So assuming I don't spend the night posting--which is totes possible--I will be in LA until next Wednesday and will be chasing down a grilled cheese truck like it insulted my mother because hello, double brie grilled cheese with fig jam? This has been missing from my life.
Later, he'll think the problem is he recognized it immediately, and that's why he didn't react.
Emma's boneless stroll across the room isn't out of character; Shaw oversaw the travesty of her initial training, and the practiced, contemptuous sexuality she'd been conditioned to flaunt is buried too deeply for her to easily discard. There's a polite fiction between them all that after an attack by a small and surprisingly vicious human militia she'd simply decided to disappear for a time; the truth is both more and less complicated. Charles offered her three months in Westchester to teach her the defenses that until now had been universally handled by a shift of form, a defense he and Charles had already proven could be overcome.
There's never been a way to ask the questions that Erik stores like treasures in a box locked so deeply in his mind that even he can't often find it, but when he looks at her, watches the slowly-evolving changes in the way she uses her body, the ripening certainty in what she is and what she can do, it's easier to admit (though no less frustrating) that Erik can't match Charles as instructor. More than one newly minted Brotherhood operative he's considered sending to Charles. He'd never refuse them, and if the price of education is being preached sweetness and light, those that choose to believe it deserve what they will reap.
Mostly, however, he watches her for those brief glimpses of Charles, the body language that's no longer entirely Shaw's creature and perhaps will never belong to anyone ever again: a tilt of the head, a brush of fingers against her temple when she attempts something new or something difficult, a certain way she smiles; if it were imagination, it would be so much easier to bear.
Even accustomed to her as he is, he's surprised as she settles on the coffee table before him, long legs spread on either side of his thighs, and for a second, he sees Charles' breathtaking smile, the one he gave Erik like a gift a lifetime ago, the glittering seductive warmth of a home that Erik can never accept.
"I never explained to you what I did when I controlled another person's body," she says, the faintest trace of Oxford in her voice; Erik stops breathing. "I'm both and neither; there's no way you could have known. I don't blame you for that. I never did."
Erik thinks of his helmet, of the others just outside this room, of what he knows of what Charles can do and the vastness he still doesn't and perhaps never will.
"I wish to request a meeting," Emma says, no, *Charles** says with Emma's mouth, Emma's voice, each consonant sharper; Emma's easy sensuality evaporates for the unconscious exercise of Charles' own. "The usual contacts weren't available."
"They're dead," Erik answers numbly as Charles picks curiously at the short hem of the A-line skirt. "They were--"
"No need to elaborate," Charles answers with a pretty wince. "Time and place are your choice, but I ask you only bring one person." Charles smiles ruefully. "For obvious reasons, I rarely have the luxury of traveling alone, so it only seems fair."
All unwitting, Erik's drawn to the impossible length of Emma's legs, the expanse of white leather stretching to mid-thigh and strip of pale golden skin before the edge of the skirt. Charles glances down at himself, mouth quirking. "If there were another way to assure delivery, I would have utilized it."
Standing up, Charles stares down at him; even in this body, Erik would recognize him, and in the end, it's the smile that decides him; in two years, its' the first time Charles has initiated contact with him, not the Brotherhood's leader. Erik is many things, and opportunistic has always been one of them.
"I'll be in touch," Charles says, easing down on the other side of the couch and shutting his eyes. Abruptly, the body goes limp, and when the blue eyes open, Emma looks back, surprisingly calm for what Charles had just done; he locks another question away before it can be formed.
Raising a hand to her face, she lazily rubs her eyes, then looks at Erik with neither surprise nor apology. "Charles didn't think secondhand delivery would be as effective."
*Charles.** Erik doesn't flinch, hearing the name she speaks with such casual ease, that he hasn't heard spoken since a deserted beach two years and two different men away. It's a jarring moment, the sudden, bitter jealousy in the intimacy of it, as if she'd stolen something that was his and his alone.
He should think betrayal; since she returned from Charles, the woman who obeyed without question or interest is seen less and less. Her services are bought and paid for, and he's never fooled himself that a higher bidder would never arrive--
--but this is Charles, and whatever this is, it's nothing so mundane and petty as sending a spy.
"He'll contact me in three days," she says, getting to her feet, hands automatically smoothing the front of her skirt. "Tell me what you-"
Erik answers before he thinks; impulsivity is nothing new. "I want speak to him directly."
Emma hesitates, looking at him with the first flare of actual, personal interest he thinks he's ever earned from her. "As you wish." Turning toward the door, she walks with Erik's memoy of Charles' careless, boneless stride before it melts back into something not quite Shaw and every question he's never asked of those three months floods back again.
It's perhaps preferable that she closed the door; he might have so lost himself as to ask.
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