A Gift For: argyleheir
Length: 2000 words
Summary: Despite much eye-rolling, Erik finds that he enjoys his first trip to a drive-in theater more than he'd imagined, and not just because he gets caught up in the intrigue of James Bond.
Notes: Thanks to pocky_slash for the beta!
"What is that?" Erik asked, looking out the window. It was a crisp fall day, and they'd taken a day trip into the city to tour the Museum of Natural History with the kids. Well--Erik supposed that Hank, Raven, Sean, and Alex weren't exactly kids anymore, not after what they'd been through the past few weeks--but he thought of them that way regardless.
Charles glanced in the station wagon's mirror and said, "Oh, that's the Elmsford. The drive-in."
"Drive-in what? It looked--it looked like a cinema?"
"Yes, of course, a drive-in theater. You've never seen one?"
Erik blinked. "You mean to say that you drive your car to... a field? And watch a film from your car?"
"Yes, it's wonderful," Charles said. "Much more comfortable than going to a crowded cinema."
"Americans are obsessed with their cars," Erik mused.
"Plus drive-ins are totally great for making out," Alex said from the middle row.
The flush on Charles's cheeks did not escape Erik's notice, but Charles ignored Alex and said, "Come to think of it, I suppose I never did see any drive-in theaters in England."
"Well, it's not like you had a lot of free time for movies in Oxford," Raven said.
Erik laughed and said, "I am entirely certain that this must be an American phenomenon."
"Well, we shall have to take in a film there soon," Charles said. "You're living in America now, and you need to become familiar with all of our strange institutions."
Erik shook his head. "That is what Hank said about McDonald's, and I assure you that as long as other options exist, I will never eat there again."
Hank shrugged. "Who doesn't like hamburgers?"
"Hank, the food that establishment serves cannot in good conscience be called hamburgers. You would never see a restaurant like that in Europe."
Raven muttered, "Like fish and chips is so much better than McDonald's." Erik steadfastly chose to ignore her.
"Yes, well, there is a difference between a drive-through restaurant and a drive-in theater," Charles said. "But no matter. I confess I don't even know what films are playing right now."
"Dr. No," Sean blurted. "It sounds so rad."
Charles's expression visibly perked up. "Dr. No? Based on the Ian Fleming novel?"
"Yeah, James Bond!" Sean said.
Erik gave Charles a sidelong glance. "I never thought of you as the spy novel type."
Charles shrugged, looking a bit sheepish. "I suppose they're a bit of a guilty pleasure...."
"No way, 007 is the coolest," Sean enthused. He and Charles began an animated discussion of the James Bond novels, including speculation about what the first Bond film would be like. Erik hadn't read any of the books in question, but he found himself charmed by Charles's embarrassed delight in the books.
"What do you think the giant squid will be like?" Sean asked.
"I almost think it would be preferable if we never actually saw the squid," Charles said thoughtfully. "The more interesting part was his quick-wittedness in preparing makeshift weapons with which to defend himself."
Charles and Sean excitedly talked Bond the entire way home while Erik tried not to roll his eyes. The books sounded like drivel, and he would have thought Charles had better taste. Well, Charles had said they were a guilty pleasure.
But that Friday, Sean and Alex went out to see the film and came home enthusing about it, and on Saturday, Erik found that he couldn't say no when Charles and his big blue eyes asked him to take him to the cinema.
"It's at the Elmsford," Charles said. "The drive-in. It's the very last day before they close for the season."
Erik reflected to himself that at least it would close for the season and it would be quite some time before he would have to return to such a ridiculous place. He tried not to roll his eyes as he said, "If we must go to the drive-in, I get to drive. And I get to drive the Jaguar."
"Yes, yes, by all means," Charles said, beaming.
Charles told Raven, "Do keep the others from destroying anything too expensive while we're gone, darling," and he and Erik set off for the drive-in. Erik found himself intrigued by the whole setup of the drive-in. Arriving just before dusk, they paid their admission, turned off the headlights, and received their little speaker. Charles told Erik to park in the back row, and Erik was happy to comply. After they were settled, Charles showed Erik how to position the speaker, settling it over the window with a satisfying clunk. Erik fidgeted with it, admiring the mechanics.
"Clever concept," he said.
Charles shrugged. "Poor execution, generally," he replied. "They tend to hiss."
"Hmm," Erik said, reaching out to study the speaker with his mutant gift.
While Erik investigated the speaker, Charles got a blanket out of the trunk and spread it over their laps. It was chilly, and Charles said, in that sly way of his, "We could move to the back seat if you'd like to stay warm."
"Thank you, Charles, that's very considerate of you," Erik said.
The Jag's backseat was tiny, but Erik didn't mind squeezing close to Charles. Even if he didn't get anything else out of the film, he supposed at least there was this. Though he had started sharing a bed with Charles most nights, they were not generally very physically affectionate around the school. Erik was not a man prone to public displays of affection in general, and Charles did not think it was seemly in front of the so-called children. So it was nice to have this time together under a blanket in the backseat.
"This reminds me of my teenage years," Charles said innocently, and Erik felt a brief pang. When Charles had been watching movies in cars, Erik had been--but never mind, he was here now, watching a movie in a car.
Sensing his misstep, Charles said, "Of course, I'd much rather be here with you than with Sally Meier."
"I am ever-so-glad to hear that," Erik replied, tightening his arm around Charles. Charles pulled his face down for a kiss.
"I suppose there are advantages to this drive-in concept," Erik admitted, though not without a surreptitious glance around to see what their neighbors could see. He understood why they were in the back row, though he still wished their car had tinted windows.
"Don't worry, Erik," Charles said with a faint smile. "They have other concerns."
Erik couldn't for the life of him remember the names of any of the coming attractions that began playing shortly after the sky grew dark.
But too soon, Charles broke away. "Oh, it's starting!" he said, sounding as delighted as a boy. Erik sighed. He watched a man through a gun barrel and thought it was a familiar vantage point. The man stopped and shot the audience, which Erik has felt, too--though of course wasn't a real bullet and he couldn't feel it. He leaned forward slightly, caught up in the intriguing music. Charles squeezed his hand, and Erik smiled at his lover. While the credits played, he fidgeted with the speaker's wiring until the sound came in crystal clear.
Pleased with himself, Erik said, "Well, then, it's started," and he leaned over to kiss Charles again. They missed the first several minutes of the movie, though Erik caught glimpses of a tropical island, a man in a tuxedo, a well-appointed casino. From what he could tell, it was a movie about the adventures of a rich playboy. He rather wondered if this is what Charles's life had been like. Charles pulled away again.
"Erik, darling, not that I don't enjoy your company, you understand, but... I really did want to see this film," Charles said.
Erik sighed and returned his attention to the screen. Before long, he found that he was intrigued despite himself. Cyanide in a cigarette? Would that work, he wondered? Would it leave a trace? Erik didn't know as much about poisons as he knew about weapons, and he made a mental note to learn.
Charles gasped when a huge, hairy tarantula crawled over Bond's sleeping form. Erik tightened his arm around him and said, "Don't worry, Charles, they aren't deadly."
"What? Oh, no, of course..." Charles trailed off. "I was just startled."
The film reminded Erik of his years searching for Shaw, but in some kind of parallel universe. The paranoia and clandestine meetings looked familiar, but Bond had more money and more freedom than Erik did. Bond had time for simple pleasures like sex and card games. Bond wasn't obsessed with his objective, he was coolly interested in it. It wasn't personal for Bond. It was just business, and Erik envied him that.
At the intermission they were forced to sit through an irritating jingle encouraging them to purchase snacks.
"Are you hungry?" Charles asked.
"No," Erik said. "Well, not for popcorn, anyway." He gave Charles a smirk, but kept his hands to himself. People were out of their cars now, milling about. Kids were running around the playground between the parking area and the screen.
Charles sighed. "Well, what do you think of the film so far?"
"It isn't especially realistic, is it?"
Charles cocked his head. "James Bond isn't meant to be a documentary, darling."
Still, Erik was pleased when intermission ended. He watched in fascination as Bond and Honey Rider explored the island, and were treated for radiation exposure. That was something Hank and Charles had fretted about after Cuba, after Erik had killed Klaus Schmidt and diverted the missiles to harmlessly explode in the sea. They were all fine, of course, but Hank had collected blood samples from all of them and disappeared into the lab for days, looking into the effects of nuclear radiation on mutation. But he really needed more evidence and not even Charles had the resources to pull of the kind of experiment Hank really needed to conduct.
Charles leaned over to kiss Erik in the middle of Dr. No's expository speech about S.P.E.C.T.R.E., but Erik kept it brief. He was intrigued by Dr. No's plan; it rather reminded him of the Hellfire Club--though of course Erik would rather fight a human man than Sebastian Shaw and Emma Frost. And certainly Shaw's plan of starting nuclear war was more ambitious than simply disrupting a space launch. Still, Erik admired Bond's stealth.
At the end of the film, after Bond has saved the day and gotten the girl--in the back of a boat no less--the credits rolled.
"We should go to Jamaica," Charles mused.
Erik smiled. "To look for Dr. No?"
"No, no, to make love in the back of a boat. That would be groovy."
Erik laughed. "Perhaps over the Christmas holidays. Did you like the film?"
"Ah, well. It was very entertaining, though I don't believe it matched the psychological tension of the novel. And it left out some of my favorite bits! Like the squid! But what did you think?" Charles asked with a hint of a knowing grin.
"It was... entertaining," Erik acknowledged. "Not entirely realistic, but... entertaining."
Charles nodded. "Of course. Well. Shall we go home?"
Erik nodded and started the car. He slowly made his way out of the crowded drive-in and found himself quietly humming the Bond theme as he maneuvered his way out. Charles said nothing, but Erik could tell without looking that his lover was grinning. Erik stopped humming once they got back on the highway, but he did quietly imagine the thrill of having another car chasing him. As happy as he was to have a new life of relative calm with Charles, as happy as he was to have put Klaus Schmidt behind him, sometimes Erik did miss the adrenaline rush of his life on the run. But he supposed if they really were going to turn Charles's house into a school for mutants he'd soon have all the excitement he could handle.
When they get back to the mansion, Erik perfectly parked the car in the garage. He stepped out and smiled brightly at Charles. "Well, Charles, I have to say that the drive-in theater is a much better idea than it sounds."
Charles smiled back. "You know, Erik, Americans do all kinds of things in our cars."
"Oh?" Erik asked, his smile sharpening slightly.
Charles stepped around and opened the backseat of the Jag. "Now that we don't have the film to distract us..."
"Charles, I thought you wanted to make love in the back of a boat," Erik asked, an eyebrow raised.
"In Jamaica," Charles said. "Since we're not in Jamaica at the moment, we shall simply have to make do."
"Mmm. Such hardship," Erik said, as he joined Charles in the backseat. He covered Charles's mouth with his own, feeling pleased and aroused and alive.
After they pried themselves out of the car, sweaty and sated, Charles said, "Tell me, Erik, do you fancy a nightcap?"
"Yes, I could certainly go for one," Erik replied as he buttoned up his shirt.
"How about... a martini? Shaken, not stirred?" Charles asked, his ridiculously large blue eyes twinkling.
Erik shook his head, but he was smiling. "But of course," he said, putting an arm around Charles's shoulders as they walked back into the house. Why would he be jealous of a tux-wearing human British secret agent with a blonde bimbo? Erik had better style, a better car, and a better lover. He didn't need a gun to protect himself, and thanks to Raven, he even had a better code name than 007. No, Erik Lehnsherr didn't envy James Bond one bit.