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Erik never wanted this, never wanted to be a parent. He was consumed by revenge and anger for so long that he never let himself imagine he could have anything else. At least, not until Charles and the others came along. Still, the thought of children hadn't crossed his mind very often and when they had he'd found himself wondering if it would be fair to bring a child into a world that feared them. Even worse, a world that hated them.

She's tiny, that's the first thought that crosses his mind. Tiny with huge brown eyes and soft, wispy curls. Her brother lies nestled in beside her -as light as she is dark- and the flash of blue eyes tells Erik immediately that he is, without a doubt, his son.

"There was a woman, Magda..." he starts helplessly, only to break off when Charles shakes his head. Erik surmises that he probably already knows, the telepath is a frequent visitor inside his head these days and Erik seldom hides any thought or memory from him. They've long since stopped keeping secrets.

Charles stares at them for a long time, his expression unreadable, and then suddenly seems to come to a decision. "Well. You don't do anything by halves, do you?"

And just like that, it's okay.

*

It takes them a while to get into the rhythm of things, to figure out what exactly being a parent entails. Erik had expected late night feeds and screaming fits but it's the other things that catch him off guard. No one tells you just how little sleep you get, how sometimes you find yourself standing in a kitchen at 3am with a bottle in one hand and a baby in the other with no clue how you got there. They experience all the aches and pains and trials and tribulations of being new parents, except whereas most people start off with one they have two. Wanda is the more adventurous twin, the one who reaches out with her hands to touch everything and everyone at every opportunity. She doesn't shy away from anything either; she seems fascinated by Hank's gymnastic displays and coos whenever Raven is in her true form. Pietro is more fussy; he constantly wails to be held and rocked and Erik can already envision the clingy little boy he'll turn into. He refuses to go to him at every cry, but Charles is a soft touch. He looks physically pained when he's not allowed to reach for Pietro and he can see already that they have their favourites.

"He's supposed to be able to soothe himself," he tells Charles crossly when he catches the telepath in the act.

Charles at least has the decency to look guilty and despite himself, Erik finds he's swayed by the picture they make. Pietro is sleeping contentedly, looking for all the world like he's exactly where he's supposed to be. He has a curl of dark hair grasped tightly in his tiny fist and Charles is holding him ever so carefully against his shoulder whilst trying his best to appear chagrined. It seems pointless to move him now, settled as he is. So in the end Erik rolls his eyes, shakes his head in despair and exits the room to the sound of Charles' delighted laughter.

***

Colic, Erik decides, is a torture device designed by babies to rob their parents of the last shreds of their sanity. He's on hour two of listening to Wanda's pitiful crying when Hank sticks his head round the door. "You know, a number of studies praise the use of skin to skin contact." Erik isn't sure if he's glaring or looking blankly at the gawky teenager but whichever expression it is, it seems to spur Hank into a further explanation. "I mean, with the baby. They say it helps regulate the baby's temperature and makes them less prone to crying. Normally it's the mother who does it but since your situation is uh, different, you might want to try it?" Hank looks a little desperate then and he must be sleep deprived too because he adds, rather stupidly, "Only it's been two hours Erik and she's reaching pitches even Sean can't."

Later, Hank will swear he walked into the paperweight by himself.

*

For all his misgivings, it turns out Hank was right. The effect isn't instantaneous, far from it, but eventually Wanda's wails settle down into hiccups, until she finally subdues and closes her eyes. Erik has her tucked into the crook of his arm, and he isn't sure how long he's been dozing when he jolts awake and realises someone else is in the room with him. When he looks up he sees Charles, with a strange expression on his face, and remembers his current state of undress. "It's been scientifically proved," he says quickly, barely resisting the urge to grab his shirt.

"Don't you dare," Charles cuts in, having picked up on that particular stray thought. "Stay exactly as you are." He sits down on the edge of the bed and surveys the scene with a satisfied smile, reaching out a hand to gently stroke the top of Wanda's head. "You should walk around like this more often," he adds, smile suddenly stretching into a grin. "Raven would think all her Christmases had come at once."

"And you?" Erik asks, already knowing the answer.

Charles doesn't respond but leans in and kisses him instead.

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thosearestrings

July 2011

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