Title: Carpe Brewski
Author's Notes: This is a WIP, folks. You're going to want to start with Chapter One; disclaimers, summary, etc, can be found there.
"Yo," Erik yells, "shut your fucking faces before I shut them for you."
They're in the basement of the frat house, and Charles is so, so too drunk for this. It's not like it's particularly hard--Erik does most of the talking at these things, because Charles tries hard not to participate too actively in the whole hazing routine--but still, he's standing in front of eight freshman, he feels like he should be pulled together. The kids all shut up at the sound of Erik's voice, looking frightened, and Charles attempts to smile reassuringly at them.
Based on their reactions, he does not succeed. Then again, it could be the way Logan's leaning menacingly against the wall that has them unsettled.
"Right," Erik says, rubbing his hands together, "so, you are gathered here today or whatever because it has come to my attention that Zeta has moved up their normal schedule, and is offering bids tonight."
"Erik," Charles says.
"What?" says Erik, too innocent. "Did you think there wasn't a method to my madness? There's always a method to my madness."
"The fact that you think that," Charles says, "is so, so frightening."
"Seconded," says Scott, from the corner.
"Shut up, Scott," Logan and Erik bark in unison. Charles rolls his eyes but waves a hand.
"Go on, then."
"Thank you," Erik says, slapping Charles on the back. "So! You are gathered here today--"
"You did that part already," Scott says.
"I swear to fucking god," Logan growls; Scott flips him the middle finger and Logan moves off the wall with his fist in the air and Charles is going to kill everyone, really, he is.
"Thing One, Thing Two," Erik drawls, "calm your fucking tits. You're scaring the peons."
"You're scaring the peons," Charles mutters. "Freshmen. People."
"Can we get on with it?" Logan says. "I've got shit to do, and Summers is douching up the room."
"Yeah, he does that," says one of the freshmen; Charles looks out at the group and sees what looks like…well, a younger, blonder, angrier version of Scott, honestly. "He got all the bad genes."
"You want me to call Mom and tell her about your fake ID?" Scott says, sneering. "Because I will."
"Oh my god," Charles says, leaning over to Erik, "are there two?"
"There are two," Erik confirms. "The little one's more our speed, honestly. Andrew or Arnold or something, can't remember now. Thinking 'Havoc' for his pledge name, he's a fucking disaster."
Charles looks back at the mini-Summers, who is currently doing the Shocker at his older brother. "Apt."
"Okay," Erik says at full volume, "if the peanut gallery is done contributing, let's get this shit done, we're missing valuable party time. So, introductions--for anyone who's missed it, my name is Erik Lehnsherr, and I will be your president. This here is Charles Xavier, your vice president and the official Alpha Beta Gamma bail department--"
"Shut the fuck up, Charles, you know it's true," Erik says affectionately. "Anyway, you guys don't know Charles yet, because he's been skipping parties to, I don't know, study or some shit. Do not let that fool you--he is your superior, and you will treat him as such."
"This is ridiculous," Charles hisses, but Erik shoots him a look, and he shuts up.
"That over there is Logan," Erik continues. "He will be your pledgemaster--he will know when you eat, shit, and breathe. If you do it wrong, he will come for you. "
"Howdy," Logan says, baring his teeth.
"And finally," Erik says, "that's Scott, the resident wet-blanket-I-mean-treasurer."
"Fuck you too, Lehnsherr," Scott says, scowling at his brother, who's not bothering to hide his laughter.
"We are your executive board," Erik says. "Again--Erik, Charles, Logan, Scott. You got those names memorized?"
There is a chorus of mumbled assent, and Erik grins, the wild, nutty one he does sometimes before he says something horrifying. Charles...braces himself.
"Good," Erik says, "forget them. Until you're fully initiated, you are not worthy of using our given names."
"Erik, for the love of god, do we really have to do this?" Charles says.
"Charles is the nice one," Erik says. "Well, comparatively speaking. It's very sad for him."
"It's sad for the world," Charles mutters. "It's sad for humanity. God help me, I'm starting to feel sober."
"You," Erik snaps, pointing at one of the freshman, "give Charles your beer."
"Um," says the kid, "it's--I mean, it's warm--"
"Do you think I give a fuck about the temperature of Charles' beer?" Erik says. "Because, no. Why is it still in your hand?"
The kid scrambles forward and hands Charles the beer; Charles kind of wants to pat him on the head or something, but resists. It'll only enforce Erik's behavior.
"Thank you," he says. The kid cowers and ducks back into the crowd, and Charles sighs, takes a long pull from the cup. It helps a little.
"Now," Erik says, "before we get to our names, we need to talk about yours. You will, should you decide to stick with us, be receiving a pledge name. From now until your initiation ceremony, you will answer only to that and the following list of alternatives: peon, shitstain, you with the hair, asshole, douchebaby, where is my beer, motherfucking freshman, and whatever horrifying grunted syllables Logan can come up."
"Creative, y'see," Logan says, tapping the side of his head. "Hard to know what's gonna come out."
"Charles here," Erik says, "is Professor X, because, again, studying and shit. You may call him Professor X or Professor; if you call him X you will be punished. If you call him Charles you will be punished. If you call him Charlie, he will punish you himself."
"Not that much," Charles says. "But, seriously, don't do that."
"Logan over there is Wolverine," Erik says. "This is because he can tear you apart with his bare hands if he wants to. And, trust me, he wants to."
Logan nods gleefully; one of the pledges, a kid with a messy mop of curly hair, makes a whimpering noise.
"Scott is…" Erik says, and pauses. "Shit, man, what the fuck was your pledge name?"
Scott mutters something unintelligible, and Logan grins. "It was Cyclops," he says, "y'know, the one-eyed monster, because he's such a--"
"Okay, that's quite enough," Charles says. "You can call Scott Scott, he prefers that."
"Aww," says Logan.
"Thank you," says Scott, glaring.
"And I," Erik says, gesturing broadly at himself, "go by Magneto. Would anyone like to guess why?"
Charles has done this speech with Erik twice before--no one has ever hazarded a guess. But mini-Summers apparently has a bold streak in him, because he opens his mouth and says, "Was it because Megalomaniac was taken?"
"Oh, dear," says Charles mournfully. "That was a mistake."
Erik grins like the goddamn Chesire cat. "Scott," he says, "your brother's fuckin' adorable, you should have said. Regular comedian, isn't he? Got the funny gene, am I right?"
"Just leave his limbs," Scott says, looking, bored, at his phone. "Promised Mom I'd get him home in one piece, more or less."
"Oh, come on," mini-Summers says, "what're you going to do, huh? Are we honestly supposed to be scared right now? Seriously?"
"I'm pretty scared," says the kid who'd whimpered at Logan.
"Don't be a pussy," mini-Summer says. "The worst he can do is--"
"Logan," Erik says calmly, "shave off his left eyebrow."
"Oh, bullshit," mini-Summers starts, but his eyes go wide when Logan pulls an electric razor out of his pocket. "Jesus Christ! You keep one of those on you!?"
"Never know when you might need it," Logan says. "Now smile pretty, princess, and hold still."
"Erik," Charles says, raising an eyebrow. Mini-Summers is backing towards the wall, but Erik glances to Charles; they have a five second non-verbal conversation that consists mostly of head-tilts and Erik sticking out his tongue. Finally:
"Oh, fine," Erik says, and mini-Summers looks relieved until he continues, "Logan, shave off both of his eyebrows."
"What?" mini-Summers yelps. Charles smiles at him.
"Less noticeable," he says, "when they're both gone. Trust me, I've done you a kindness."
"Scott!" mini-Summers says; Scott looks up from his phone and rolls his eyes.
"Honestly, Alex," he says--oh, Alex, that's his name--"you can't call other people pussies if you can't handle a little shave. Take it like a man."
"He's got a point," one of the other pledges says. Charles is pretty sure he's Alex's roommate, or possibly that they're sleeping together, it's hard to tell. He looks pretty amused, though.
"Armando," Alex whines, "dude, come on--"
"Think twice before you eat my dinner next time, won't you," Armando says, and Alex scowls at him, looking remarkably like Scott.
"Ugh, whatever," he says to Logan, "just do it."
"Awww," Logan says, "you think I need your permission, that's fuckin' precious," and then the kid's eyebrows are old news. Armando laughs so hard Charles is worried he might piss himself; Erik just looks smug.
"Your pledge name was going to be Havoc," he says, "but now it's Eyebrows. I hope that burns a little. Anyone else want to guess why I go by Magneto? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?"
The room is silent except for the sound of Armando's poorly stifled laughter. Charles is not particularly surprised.
"It's because," Erik says, "I'm a magnet for trouble."
Charles tenses--by all the laws of the universe, there should be some kind of disaster to herald that statement. Nothing happens except that Erik notices his shift in body language, which, let's be honest, is a disaster in and of itself.
"Superstitious much?" he says under his breath.
"Can we just get on with it?" Charles whispers back. "If we don't give them a reason to stay, they're all going to bail, and I won't blame them."
"They're too scared to bail on us now," Erik says. Charles makes a face, and they have their second non-verbal argument of the night, which ends when Erik says, "Well, it is your birthday, I suppose I can listen to you this once. Logan, pour the ceremonial shots."
Charles does something that should be a head-butt, and instead ends up--fucking alcohol--leaving him choking on helpless laughter against Erik's shoulder. He's starting to feel like that extra beer was a mistake, and he really, really wishes he wasn't so comfortable around Erik, so used to the touch; it just makes it harder, at the end of the day, to pull away. But he's drunk, isn't he, feeling drunker by the minute, and Erik shifts to allow the breach of distance, tucks that damned arm around his shoulders again, nicks Charles' beer and kills it in one gulp.
"Peons," he says, "line the fuck up--no, no, you shits, not like that, what the fuck would I want you in single-file for? Line up across the room, Jesus."
The kids all shuffle into place, shoulder to shoulder, in front of them. Erik smiles.
"Very good," he says. "Logan, the shots, if you don't mind."
Logan passes out Solo cups which are, horrifyingly enough, each filled with about an inch of decent Scotch. Erik maintains that starting off the season with decent alcohol is part of the ambiance of the whole thing; Charles maintains that drinking single malt out of plastic is wrong.
He takes his cup anyway, though. It's not like he's going to turn it down.
"So you're now official pledges of Alpha Beta Gamma, blah blah blah," Erik says, raising his glass. "Or you will be in like ten, fifteen minutes, whatever, it's close enough. Drink the fuck up."
Charles knocks back his shot with the rest of them, because he's not about to look like a lightweight in front of a bunch of freshmen. He realizes it was a mistake about four seconds later, but by that point Erik's already talking, it's too late to back out now.
"So, look," Erik says, "here's the deal--the other frats, right, they rush you in the fall, then there's bids at the end of the quarter, then they pledge you in the winter and torture you 'til spring. And then, then, if you're good enough, you're a full member. That's just how it works, am I right?"
The freshmen nod as a group. At the far end of the line, Eyebrows even manages to look surprised about it; Charles is pretty sure he's going to be looking surprised for a couple weeks, at least.
"Well," Erik says, "that's not how we do shit here. I don't give a fuck which of you can run the fastest or drink the most or procure the most random items on one of those stupid scavenger hunts, are we clear? What I give a fuck about is how much you care about this fraternity. What I give a fuck about is how many fucks you give."
"So we're not doing bids. You're not jumping through our hoops to impress us, or make us like you the most, or because you think you're going to get ahead for it. You're not competing against each other, you get me? You're gonna suffer through being pledges like anyone else, because it makes you fucking stronger, because it makes you brothers, but it's not because of any of that other bullshit. This is Alpha Beta fucking Gamma, and from this moment, that is the only thing that matters. We don't care how much money your parents make or what you look like or where you grew up or what god you believe in or who you want to fuck--we care that you're here and you want to be here, that is all. If you make it through pledge without walking out on us, you're one of us, no questions asked. Even if we fucking hate you--you do the work, you're in. We clear?"
Eyebrows, Charles notes, is not the only one who looks surprised now. All eight of them are blinking in varying states of shock; the kid Charles only knows as Beast goes so far as to say, "Really?"
"Really," Charles says, slanting a smile up at Erik. This is always the best part; this is always the part where Charles wants to forgive Erik for all the crazy, terrible shit he's going to do to these kids, because at least he goes out of his way to make them feel like they belong.
"Not that we're going to go any fuckin' easier on you," Logan adds, breaking the moment.
"Definitely not," Erik says. "You'll just get the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing you're risking your lives for the right reasons."
"If you ever actually feel like your life is," Charles adds, hiccuping on it a little, "y'know, like. Danger. I'm the call. Not him. Never him. Not--over in the corner, with the hair--Logan, not him either."
Erik glances over at him, warm and fond, and oh, okay, Charles is still hanging on to him. "Logan," he says, "explain to them about the rules if they get caught drinking, I'ma deal with this real quick."
"'M good," Charles says. "Just--y'know, when it like--crouching tiger hidden buzz, yeah?"
"Second wave," Erik says sagely. "Shot probably did it. You wanna puke and rally?"
"Ugh," Charles says, and slumps. "Ugh. Why do you even talk, that's what I wanna…sleep? I think. Sleep. Would be good."
"Oh, you are lucky it's your birthday," Erik says, without any heat behind it. They're moving, but Charles is suddenly too tired to keep track of where they're going. Stairs, maybe? Erik's kind of half-carrying him, and that'd be really embarrassing if they hadn't done the reverse a million times. "You can't be hitting the wall, it's early. We haven't even named them yet."
"Name 'em quick," Charles says, "I'm…it's…quick, or without me, yes?"
Erik kind of shoves him backwards towards…oh, a bed, that's good news. Charles isn't sure whose it is, but he sinks into it gratefully all the same, and Erik rolls his eyes.
"Without you, definitely," he says. "You're cooked. Lush."
"Y'said that already."
"You've got beer on your shirt," Erik says, "and you're trashed at 12:15. Lame, lightweight, lush."
"Alliteration," Charles slurs. "'S good. Hey, y'should--I mean, if you're gonna name 'em. Without me. You should tell me what…you're gonna name 'em without me. So I can like. Stop you and shit? Something."
"What, you wanna be my screening process?"
"It's a thing," Charles says plaintively. "We do…both of us, right, the names. Every year. You can't just--I mean, just because you got me like. Drunk, and stuff. An' did pledges all early without telling me. Your fault. Not fair."
"Okay, okay," Erik says, laughing. He crashes down on the bed next to Charles--ungraceful, Charles notes, he's definitely drunker than he seems--and closes his eyes. "Right, okay, so. Beast, obviously, that's done, and Eyebrows, he's stuck with that whether he likes it or not. Eyebrow's friend--Armando, I was gonna call him Wreak, because Eyebrows was gonna be Havoc, and they like…go together and shit, I think they're roommates or something. But Wreak doesn't even make sense, and now Eyebrows is Eyebrows, so I'm thinking Darwin."
"Because he like…evolves to fit the party," Erik says. "Did I even tell you about the other day? You haven't left the library in like a year, you missed all this shit--rush party, right, keg runs dry and he like, make some calls or something, and beer was delivered, man. It was delivered. He is a freshman, that is some scary skill."
"He's my favorite," Charles slurs. "Or he will be, when I like. Remember. Which one you mean."
Erik laughs. "The rest of 'em--I mean, the little pothead is Pyro--"
"Right," Erik says, "and then, the kid from earlier, we stole the drink from him--Bobby, he's always whining about warm beer, so he's Iceman--"
"You only think that's funny 'cause you're trashed," Erik says, "but still, I appreciate it. One of 'em skipped a party to study, he's Prodigy, because he's like a mini-you. He even has like. You know what I'm talking about. The sweaters you used to wear freshman year."
"Argyle!" Erik says. "Yeah, dude, argyle. Wow, I am drunker than I thought."
"But not as drunk as me," Charles says, sing-song. Dignity is for sober people.
"No as drunk as you," Erik confirms, punching him lightly in the shoulder. "So, wait, how many--Beast, Eyebrows, Darwin, Pyro, Iceman, Prodigy, that's only six, I'm forgetting like two of 'em."
"There was the one," Charles says, and gestures at his head. "Y'know, with the…face…."
"Oh!" Erik says, "Right, he's the one who keeps wanting to play poker. Gambit, I think."
"Because I'm not sure he's not a Zeta spy," Erik says darkly, "so taking him on is a risk."
"Erik," Charles says, "they don't--this is not like, fucking…whatever. There are not spies."
"That's what they want you to think," Erik says.
"Y'scary," Charles says, yawing. "One more, right?"
"Mmm," Erik says. He sounds like he's falling asleep, which he can't do, because there are pledges, and it's Charles' birthday. Charles gets the special sleep privileges.
He elbows Erik in the side. "Lazy. Finish."
"Fuck you so much," Erik mutters, but sits up straight. "Fine, okay, last one was, uh, the little nervous one, I thought Banshee, because he screams when I get too close--"
"Baby narc," Charles says, turning his face into the pillow. "Tread…whatever."
"That," Charles agrees. "Push 'im too hard and, y'know."
"Noted," Erik says, easily enough. "And then…no, that's it, right? Yeah, that's all of them."
"Small," Charles notes. "Pledge class, I mean."
"We'll get a couple Zeta rejects after break," Erik says, shrugging. "And it's three bigger than last year."
"Last year," Charles says mournfully. "Logan, he was like…I mean, 10, 15 pledges rolled into….just, disaster."
"He set the lawn on fire," Erik says, in the tones of someone revisiting a fond memory. "That was a good night."
"He an' Scott made out right after," Charles says, remembering suddenly. Erik jerks, surprised, and Charles winces. "Shit. Wasn't s'pposed to tell you that. Code of bro…something, they said. Anyway it was more like, uh. Mouth. Fighting. What I saw was mouth fighting."
"How could you not have told me that?" Erik says. "That's like, prime blackmail information, they hate each other--"
"I forgot," Charles says, "I was--lawn fire night, 's funny, 's probably the last time I was this, with the drinking. It's like. Uh. Muscle memory, right, 's a thing, right? So like brain…muscle…drunk memory. That's legit."
"You make no sense," Erik says.
"Now you know," Charles says, waving a hand. "What talking to you is like."
"You wish," Erik says, which, if Charles were less drunk, would hurt an awful fucking lot.
"Get outta my room," he says, batting an arm in Erik's direction. "You suck. I hate you. Goodbye."
"Ohhh, I see how it is," Erik says, smacking Charles with a pillow. "Get a guy drunk for his birthday, save him from the library, and all you get is-- "
"Exam," Charles moans, "oh my god, the exam, it's like--like, hours, not very many hours, oh god--"
"Give me your phone," Erik says, rolling his eyes. "It's--what, you said 15 hours before, so it's at 11, right?"
"Yes," Charles moans. "I am going to fail everything, bloody fuck."
"Bloody Mary," Erik says absently, pushing some buttons. "In the morning, I mean. You'll be set. I set your alarm for 9, that'll give you enough time to hurl if you need to and still make it."
"Don't say hurl," Charles says.
"Hurl," Erik says cheerfully. He gets off the bed, makes a noise like he's stretching--it's hard to know, because Charles' eyes are closed, but it sounds like it--and ruffles Charles' hair just to be an asshole. "Hurl, hurl, hurl."
"Hate you," Charles mutters into the pillow. "So much. Everyday. Don't like…kill anyone or go to jail or…anything."
"Happy birthday, Charles," Erik says, laughing softly. There's the faint sound of footsteps, of the door snicking shut, and then Charles doesn't think anymore.