(This is the article in question.)
Erik drops the tabloid directly on top of the Times. Charles doesn’t have to look at it to know why Erik is so incensed—he’s known from the moment Erik saw the rag in the convenience store check-out, from the moment he angrily purchased it instead of the milk he had intended to buy. Charles followed his anger back to the car and back up the road and into the garage and then into the school, through the hallways until it was right in front of him.
Still, he spends a long moment looking incredulously up at Erik over the tops of his glasses, before pointedly looking back down at the paper, even though he already knows what it says.
MAGENTO To Marry PROFESSOR X!
There’s a picture of Erik in the uniform he hasn’t worn since the early seventies, during the uncomfortable period of their separation, the years they try to avoid in polite conversation. The photo of Charles is more recent, unfortunately. He thinks it may be from his last congressional testimony, about six months ago.
“It doesn’t seem fair that you get to be full of youth and vitality in your trashy tabloid photo and I’m still old and bald,” he says. “It rather makes me look like I’m robbing the cradle.”
“Charles,” Erik says between his teeth.
“You’re older than me,” Charles continues. “And it’s not as if you’re not still attractive. Although, I suppose they were going for the contrast of you in the costume and me cloaked in respectability—”
Charles smiles sweetly up at Erik. “Yes, my love?” he asks.
“This was supposed to be—how do they know about this?” he asks. “Who’s been talking to the press? Because I have no problem adjusting chore rotations and grades as punishment!”
“No one’s been talking to the press,” Charles says, moving the tabloid off to the side. It’s not entirely a lie. He’s rather sure he can trace the story from a student to her baseline sister to a twitter account to an innocuous tweet that somehow got picked up by a reporter. The rest, he imagines, was easy, as he explains to Erik. “We had to register for the marriage license. These things become a matter of public record. It’s not as if we could have kept it secret for long.” He raises an eyebrow and waits for Erik to take the bait, but much to his surprise, after a moment of tense silence, Erik merely sighs and sits across from him.
It’s not the first argument they’ve had about the covert nature of their impending nuptials. In an interesting inversion from the early days of their romance, Charles has encouraged Erik to be much more open about their relationship, while Erik has become more guarded. Charles hasn’t minded much, but the level of secrecy surrounding the wedding that they’re finally, after fifty years, allowed to legally have, has been something of a sore spot.
“I’m not…ashamed,” Erik says.
“I would never imagine for a moment that you were,” Charles says.
“This is ours,” Erik says. “Through all of it—the school, the children, Stryker, Kelly, the Phoenix, the Shi’ar, the sentinels, the bills and laws, the protests and terrorism, through Cuba, through Shaw, through Magneto—this is ours. Sometimes it was all I had. I don’t want a spectacle. I want it to be for us. We’re the ones who’ve been waiting all these years.”
Charles blinks back a threatening wetness in his eyes and reaches across the table to take Erik’s hand.
“I wish you had mentioned that before we planned the party,” Charles says. Erik turns his gaze to the window, embarrassed, which is a rare and quite sweet look on him.
“Everyone wanted a party,” he says. “You wanted a party.”
“What about what you wanted?” Charles asks.
“I want you to be happy,” Erik says, and Charles loses the battle with his tears, wiping discreetly at his eyes and sending Erik a tendril of the affection building up in his chest.
The wedding is three days away. They applied for the marriage license last week, just another errand to take care of while they were in town. Hank can be relied on to keep a secret.
“You’re an old fool, Erik,” Charles says. “Go get dressed. Wear something nice and meet Hank and me in the garage in twenty minutes.” Charles pushes himself away from the table, already summoning Hank from his lab.
“What are you up to?” Erik asks, slowly getting to his feet.
“We have nothing planned today, a marriage license waiting for signatures, and a favor to call in with a judge in White Plains,” Charles says. He heads towards the elevator and turns to smile at Erik over his shoulder. “It’s the twenty-first century, darling. I see no reason why we can’t both get what we want.”