leandraholmes: (Charles Eric Kiss)
[personal profile] leandraholmes
Title: Beneath the Surface - Epilogue, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
Fandom: X-Men: First Class, Charles/Erik
Genre: AU; Drama/Romance
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 2070
Summary: Charles is a young marine biologist and activist that, one day, makes the find of his lifetime. Inspired by this fanart
Author's Note: Still un-beta'ed. Well, sorry again for the epic delay. As I've said, I've been a little busy lately. This is really it now; I'm quite sad about that fact myself (maybe I've also been subconsciously putting this off because I didn't want it to end).
I said I might write a vignette or two here and there though. So if there's anything in particular that you'd like to see or learn about their future go ahead and prompt me. I'm also still thinking about that sequel, but I've got a few other stories to finish first - for example the one I'm writing with [livejournal.com profile] narya86.
Anyway, again thank you all SO much for the wonderful feedback. I hope you'll enjoy this last little installment :)

The cool water parted before him, foamy waves carrying his body up and further towards the beach. He swam with no effort, just letting the surf guide him back the last short distance. Home.

It was a strange thing that an idea as alien to him as having one place to call a home had come so easy to him over the past months. Though, to him, the idea of 'home' wasn't exclusively linked to the soil, the wood and glass and plaster of the house Charles had bought for them last fall. Erik wasn't even sure if it was solely the fact that this house, with its light blue paint, the gray roof and the large porch, was the very house his grandmother had lived in, though it most certainly played a big role to complete the picture. More than that and the old, reawakened memories linked to the place were the new ones he and Charles had made together over the past eight months. Memories that, when he approached the beach further, made his heart swell with warmth that chased off the soft chill of the still cool water as soon as he transformed.

He and Charles hadn't stayed here the whole year through; in late November the water had become too cold for him to swim in it, and so they had spent Christmas and New Years at the mansion. Just a year ago, Erik would have firmly believed that he would have felt trapped being on land and away from any ocean for so long, but surprisingly, and oddly naturally so, that had changed.

The ocean had been and always would be his element, but Erik had realized – just as during those years as a child before his grandmother had passed away – that he was not only a creature of the ocean. He was human, too, a land-walker, and instead of fearing and despising them after all that had been done to and taken from him by Shaw he had come to understand that he could live both lives, find a way to unite both sides in him. Find happiness and peace in both worlds while he had known neither before.

He longed to feel the ocean around him when he was separated from it for too long, and that longing would never subside completely – like last winter when they had traveled back South to Florida and spent the cold months on Key Biscayne. But likewise, when he spent days or even weeks apart from Charles and the world they shared he longed even more strongly to return. But the longing was never painful, nothing more than a soft ache beneath his sternum, bittersweet, strangely new and pleasant when it turned into anticipation. As it did now.

His human feet found the soft sand beneath them, the surf pushing him forward as he stood in the water and waded onto the beach. Warm sunbeams fell on his skin and he inhaled the fresh air with his human lungs as the last remainders of his shark shape faded on his neck. When he looked towards the house he suddenly saw the yellow backdoor open, and Erik instantly felt a smile spread on his lips as he left the water behind and walked over the dry, warm sand.

Charles had spotted him as well, and his steps seemed even more hurried when he crossed the distance, though one hand was buried in the pocket of his jeans – something that made the smile on Erik's lips turn into a smirk because he was pretty sure it was all that kept Charles from rushing to him with his arms spread for an embrace that would surely follow. Maybe it were moments like these, seeing a familiar face for the first time after quite a while, that made the longing so much more than just bearable.

"You're back already," Erik said when they were no more than three, four meters apart.

Charles let out a chuckle and bit his lower lip, his eyes squinting against the sunlight but shining brightly. "I've been back all morning. You're late."

Erik shrugged nonchalantly and remained standing a step or two away from Charles. "You said we'd have to leave in the afternoon to catch our plane. It's only noon." He was teasing Charles with the implication that he had not missed him all that much when, in fact, the only reason he was showing up this late was that he hadn't known Charles would return that early in the day.

It elicited a laugh from the other man, and he softly shook his head. "I barely managed to pack all my things. And yours," he replied, and Erik gave him another shrug, accompanied by a smile.

"Good thing I showed up late then. Or you wouldn't have had any time at all." Without waiting for another reply, he finally crossed the remaining distance, and in an instant their arms were wrapped around each other and their lips united in a kiss, deep and firm but sweet and tender at the same time before Erik just wrapped his arms tightly around Charles' body and inhaled the scent of his hair and skin.

"I've missed you," Charles whispered against his neck, and it caused a wide smile to spread on Erik's lips.

"How was Fiji?"

"Amazing," Charles replied, reluctantly withdrawing from their embrace. His hand, however, was entwined with Erik's as he turned and started to direct them slowly towards the house. "To study all those sharks up close like this…. I don't even know where to begin. I even hand-fed a tiger shark. It was just one of the most stunning and life-changing experiences I've ever made," he said excitedly.

"And here I thought you had gone there for educational purposes, not for entertainment. If you wanted to hand-feed a shark all you had to do is ask," Erik remarked dryly and Charles chuckled, tilting his head as he regarded him.

"You're not jealous, are you?"

Erik pretended to contemplate the question for a moment, pursing his lips and looking up before he directed his gaze back at Charles – and damn, he really had missed him and those blue eyes of his, those gorgeous lips…

"A little bit," he replied, not really serious, before he leaned in to kiss Charles again. This time, the contact of their lips was gentler than before, slower, but at the same time growing in intensity as Erik pressed his body closer against Charles' and embraced him tightly.

Charles withdrew with a faint gasp. "You're still the only shark I let kiss me," he said, his brow furrowing a fraction of a second later and a small smirk on his lips. "Though I may or may not have given this baby bull shark we measured a peck on the head."

"I'll forgive you," Erik replied, and Charles chuckled again.

"But seriously, it was a really amazing trip. We've made so many interesting observations that'll be useful for the aquarium as well. Moira already left two days earlier than me and went back to Florida. She's meeting with that lady from the Maui aquarium, you remember?" Charles went on as they slowly walked over the sand, Erik's arm around Charles' shoulder. He simply could not get enough of him now that they were together again after over four weeks.

"Yes, I remember. So it's still going to be an amusement park?" he asked, free of any bitterness. What Moira, who was the new manager of the place, had intended to do with it was a perfect solution: a place where people could observe sharks in their natural habitat. The open water exhibit had a rotation of inhabitants that were never kept there for too long – same as the aquarium on Hawaii. It had been extended and adjusted to have a separate area where they sometimes nursed wounded animals back to health, and aside from that it gave divers the opportunity to swim with the sharks almost completely free of any risk, since they were always well-fed and cared for. The fact that Shaw was probably rolling around in his grave – as Moira had put it when they had visited the place in winter – had filled Erik with a sense of satisfaction, though it had been one of the very few times he had even thought about the man ever since that day. There were too many, far more pleasant things that filled his thoughts lately.

"With all profits going into research and conservation," Charles nodded, obviously proud to have a part in such a project. Erik knew something like this had been his dream for almost all his life, and the fact that Charles was so passionate about it, so innocently hopeful even – though it was easily contagious – made Erik love him even more. A tiny bit each day.

When they reached the porch and Charles already got onto the first of three steps leading up to it, Erik turned him around, now on the exact same height as Charles. He kissed him again, unable to prevent the soft sigh of anticipation escaping him.

"Mmh, Erik!" Charles chuckled breathily and freed himself from the grip. "We have a wedding to attend."

"The wedding's not until tomorrow morning," Erik replied, teasingly.

Charles rolled his eyes. "Yes, but we have to take the plane now so we're in Westchester in time, you know?"


"Not now," Charles replied in mild exasperation, but amused nonetheless.

"Then when?" Erik asked, enjoying this little game of making Charles squirm, especially when his thumb ran um the inner side of Charles' lower arm.

"We need to leave in less than two hours."

Erik raised his eyebrows and pulled himself up and against Charles' body. "And that's not enough, because…?"

Maybe Charles was trying to come up with a reply, but when Erik lowered his head to place a row of kisses against Charles' neck, all that came over the other man's lips was a rather undignified sound, half a moan, half a whimper. "Alright, thinking about it, I believe we do have enough time," he said a little breathless. "If you help me wrap their wedding gift."

"You haven't even wrapped it yet?" Erik asked, tone serious as he kept the grin from spreading over his lips.

"When should I've done that? I was on a holiday for the past four weeks!"

"Ah, now you admit it was a holiday."

"Oh do shut up," Charles laughed and tore himself from Erik's grasp, hurrying inside the house. Erik followed suit.

"You'll have to make me." Erik's voice had become lower, not so much deliberately as more automatically when he stopped Charles at the foot of the stairs to the upper floor and turned him around, pressing him against the wall with the full weight of his body and uniting their lips in another kiss.

"You're doing quite the good job at shutting yourself up, already," Charles said, his own voice now having a hoarser undertone as well. "We'll better set an alarm. Raven will have my head on a silver platter if we don't show up to her wedding."

"Mine, too, probably," Erik replied with a slight smirk. He did not intend to make them miss the plane – after all, he, too, was looking forward to seeing them all again since Moira, Hank, Alex and Sean were coming up from Florida as well, but he also did not intend to let the first chance he and Charles had in over four weeks go to waste.

"Then we'll better hurry," Charles said and quickly pulled his t-shirt over his head, throwing it onto the floor, his hands and lips on Erik in an instant with a hunger so strong Erik was sure it must have cost Charles quite some strength to suppress it this long.

Maybe it were moments like these that made him feel most at home, no matter where exactly 'home' even was. Moments in which there was just Charles and nobody else, just the sounds of their breathing and heart-beat and the feeling of being desired and loved. Of truly and completely belonging.

The longing for the ocean found no place in his heart then. The sound of the waves outside was the only thing that reminded him of it, and he knew he could not miss it as long as Charles was by his side.

~ The End ~
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