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Erik looked as dumbfounded as Angel as they left the room to find the entire club frozen solid. He went instantly into defensive mode, figuring they were under attack. That is, until he caught the smug smile on Charlotte's face. Of course she could do something like this. What else couldn't the woman do?
He forced himself to focus and not dwell on the fact that the woman with her hand on his arm was systematically ruining his cold and aloof attitude. He even caught himself opening the car door for her and Angel. [What the ever-loving fuck are you doing, Lehnsherr?] he scolded himself internally.
He was silent the entire drive to the airport, white knuckling the steering wheel. Angel seemed to catch on to his brooding nature, crooking an eyebrow at him in the rear-view mirror. [i "You're not much of a talker, are you, Tall Dark and Cranky?"]
Erik barely spared her a glance. [b "I don't feel the need to talk if I have nothing to say. The world would benefit from a similar state of mind."]
Angel snorted, crossing her arms over her chest. [i "I get it. She's the brains, you're the brawn. Makes sense. You've got that whole bodyguard vibe working for you."]
He was thankfully spared from having to answer as they pulled into the parking lot for the airport. [b "I'll pay you anything to sit between her and I,"] he muttered quietly to Charlotte as he grabbed her arm on her way past him.
[i "I don't want to sit next to you either, Grumpy,"] Angel called back to them.
[b "I need a drink,"] he dropped Charlotte's arm and stomped towards the entrance.
[b "Extremely wasted here."] Charlotte agreed with Erik, smile at him while swirling her wine a bit more before taking a slow, long sip of it. It was cheap, that much was clear, but it didn't taste as bad as it could have. On the less 'classy' scale, it was decently tasteful. She set the half-drained class down, went to grab her shawl, and shrugged it back over her shoulders.
[b "Do you have anything that's important to you that you need to grab?"] Charlotte asked, heading towards the curtains shielding the glass doorway.
[#bf0d39 "No, ma'am. The only thing important to me is always around my neck,"] Angel replied, gesturing vaguely to the necklace she wore, and the teenager recieved a soft smile from the adult.
[b "Excellent! Let's go then, hm? We can be on a flight in about two hours—after we get you some clothes of course, Angel."] Charlotte said, pushing the curtains back and opening the door.
[#bf0d39 "Wait we can't just walk ou-"] The teenager's words died on her lips, and why was understanable. Everyone in the club was frozen even as music continued to thrum. There were a few people who had drinks dribbling down their chins but, even still, they remained statue-still. Charlotte turned to Angel, giving a gentle eyebrow quirk, and the teenager looked a bit wonderstruck.
[b "Let's go."] Charlotte wrapped her arm around Angel's shoulders, and her other arm through Erik's, and proceeded to lead the way out of the club. She kept her hold on all in there, however, until their paid driver pulled up to whisk them away.
Erik's head was going to start throbbing with a migraine if he was going to have to play sidekick the entire time. Still, he wasn't about to piss off Charlotte all over again now that they'd come to a truce. So, he raised an eyebrow at her before glancing over to the metal ice bucket. [b "I'm a little parched as well,"] he agreed.
Angel's eyes widened as the bucket began floating on its own accord, slowly towards Erik and Charlotte. He was being a showboat about it, of course. He made it wobble like a ghost was carrying it over to them, when he really could have just made it glide smoothly.
Plucking the glasses from the bucket, he held them out for Charlotte to pour them each a drink. [b "I don't know exactly what kind of people work here, but we can assume that they don't know what sort of tricks you're capable of,"] Erik drawled, swirling the champagne in his glass before taking a sip. [b "We are people who can appreciate your real talents. Not what you do on a stage with a pole."]
Rather than look insulted, Angel smirked. [i "My turn."]
With a slight sway, the rapid flapping of wings came from her shoulders as her tattoo unpeeled itself into real flight. [b "A gift that's wasted here, wouldn't you say, Charlotte?"] he looked to his partner.
[b "That's a stereotype, darling,"] Charlotte teased of Erik, giving him a brief tongue-in-teeth grin before returning her gentle gaze to Angel. Charlotte's gentleness is part of the reason none of the mutants they've met so far haven't tried to attack them due to a... certain "someone's" responses so far, if one were to be honest on the situation.
At the teenager's response of turning the music on and rightfully demanding their sale's pitch, Charlotte stood thoughtfully a few long moments. [b "My name is Charlotte Xavier, and he is Erik Lehnsherr,"] She walked over to a table nearby, picking up an empty wine-glass, and looked at it thoughtfully as she glanced around the room.
She knew, logically, that there was many things she could say. However, considering the type of conditions this young girl may have grown up in, she couldn't help but decide that a bit of showing might be the best course of action to take.
[b "...Erik? Would you be ever so kind as to bring that wine over here? You may not know this about me, but I'm an avid wine-taster,"] Her tone was innocently airy, she looking pointedly at the metal bucket of ice-and-wine on the far side of the room. And, ever so subtly, she gave Erik a small smile before looking expectantly at Angel for her soon-to-be reaction.
Erik felt his heart break seeing the young girl enter, looking far too prepared to do what she was being paid to do. The sadness gave way to offended when she remarked that he came across as little more than a bodyguard. [b "I'll have you know that I'm certainly not anyone's lackey,"] he frowned. [b "And she is most definitely not in charge."]
Charlotte spoke over him, taking over the conversation before he could turn it into an argument and scare the poor girl away. Erik crossed his arms over his chest, and watched quietly as she gave Angel the offer. To her credit, the girl's eyes flicked with excitement at the prospect of getting the hell out of this place, though she regarded them with suspicion.
[i "This isn't some kind of human trafficking thing is it? You guys promise me some better life, and turn around to sell me to the highest bidder once you get me away from here?"] she was rightfully wary.
Erik rolled his eyes. [b "Does this one seem even remotely evil to you?"] he pointed a thumb in Charlotte's direction. [b "A proper Mary Poppins over here."]
A faint smile tugged at Angel's lips. [i "Your money bought you thirty minutes with me. Better make this pitch a good one,"] she hit a button on the wall to turn the music on, keeping their voices muffled to anyone outside of the room. [i "I'm all ears."]
[b "Erik, just because I'm a few years younger than you doesn't mean that I don't know [i not] to sit on a bed in a lust-establishment,"] Charlotte said, smiling at him briefly before shrugging off her shawl and hanging it on a coathook nearby.
It wasn't long until who they were looking for was ushered by a different bouncer of the club, and the young professor felt her blood boil when she noticed that the girl's clothes had been changed—from the ones that had to be stripped off with ties and buttons to ones that could quiet easily be [i ripped] off instead. She felt her blood boil even more when the teenager so clearly had loud, screaming thoughts in her head about how 'I'm sixteen now, I'm old enough for the clubbers to enjoy. I'm sixteen now. Please, my birthday was just a few weeks ago, I don't even feel sixteen year-' over and over again in her young mind.
On the outside, though, the girl looked quite calm as the bouncer closed and locked the door behind her entrance. Nothing but red-velvet curtains secured them from being viewed by the outside world of the club.
[#bf0d39 "...I'm Angel, and I'll be your dancer tonight. Am I actually dancing for you, then?"] The girl asked after a few moments of looking them over, gesturing to Charlotte on the last bit.
[b "What makes you assume that?"] The woman couldn't help but arch her eyebrows with a tiny smile, curious to hear the answer and resisting powerfully to not just search for it.
[#bf0d39 "Because you look sorta all 'I am here, I'm in charge', and he looks kinda 'I will kill if someone so much as breathes on her',"] Angel gestured between Erik and Charlotte, [#bf0d39 "So, I figure you're the one I'm dancing for, and he's a bodyguard that facades as the real money-owner in this all."]
Charlotte let her smile grow. Oh, she liked this girl. [b "Close,"] she said, [b "But not exactly."] Her expression grew soft again—that sort of look that could draw a moth to a flame, or have a frog stay in a gradually boiling pot of water, and them say 'Thank you' for it. [b "How would you like a job where you get to keep your clothes on, Angel? No matter your answer, we promise to get you far from her... If that's what you want. If not, we'll leave you be."]
[b "She's a child,"] his jaw clenched painfully.
The girl was meant to be in school, or working anywhere else but here. Erik felt rage bubble in his chest at the thought of a parent selling their child to pay off a debt that they'd gotten themselves in to. No honor whatsoever. [b "She should have been protected,"] he grumbled.
It was a sore spot when children were involved. He remembered his own parents, trying desperately to save him from the camp before they had been separated. He could still hear his mother's screams as she fought against much larger guards to stay with him to protect him from the horrors he was going to experience.
He'd last seen them being marched to the showers. And then nothing.
The idea that someone sold their child into this disgusting world to save themselves was infuriating. Erik had to remind himself to calm down before he shattered the glass held in his hand. He listened to Charlotte's whispered order.
Right. The job.
He rose from the table with all the authority he could muster. Keeping his hand securely on her hip and pulling her flush against his side, he directed them towards the private booths. One lone employee stood by the velvet curtains, ready to take their money. [b "That one,"] Erik drawled, making sure to point at the girl on stage. [b "And only that one."]
The guard didn't appear to care less, but waved them on to the middle booth. A bed covered in satin sheets awaited them. [b "Don't sit on it,"] he held his arm out to stop Charlotte. [b "I can guarantee none of that is sterile."]
[i Be satisfied with only making him cry? Bloody-hell on that. That's as true as me being Australian instead of British.] She thought, rolling her eyes, and resisted the urge of saying just as much to tease Erik. They had to keep up a charade, after all.
That didn't stop her from pinching his thigh under the table when he made the man cut his hand. She gave a soothing pat to the spot afterword, though, considering what exactly the digusting older man had been thinking of 'what I could do to her' with his hands. The fact the pig assumed Charlotte was underage—alas, the curse of shortness—made her stomach twist even more as the mutant they were there to see was finally announced to begin a routine.
[b "Barely sixteen. They've had her dancing here since she was fourteen,"] Charlotte whispered beneath her breath, the first true tone pure rage clear for the first time in her and Erik's brief knowing of one another. [b "Her father sold her here to pay off a debt—bastard was shot anyway. She's thankfully never had anything done to her, far as I can tell, but she's all but a slave. Lives rent free, but isn't allowed to keep more than five-dollars a week of the money she earns."] Her whispered tone continued to convey the harshness that sounded so foreign in her soft, gentle British lit.
A few seconds passd, she taking a moment or two to calm herself—and to rub her thumb idely against Erik's wrist in a hope to keep him grounded as well—before she dared to whisper to him again, [b "There's a thousand in that roll of money I handed to you before we left the limo. It's a single hundred for a private dance and, even if she says no, we can at least give her that money and help bust her out of her. Grab my waist, let's get up there, and let's get her somewhere 'safe' in here to talk."] The brunette's gaze flickered from the stage to the private-room curtains in various parts of the room that had glass doors... unless curtains were drawn for 'privacy' of course'. Her nose scrunched up more at the thought.
He didn't even try to hide the smirk on his face. Erik tightened his hold on her as she burrowed closer to maintain their appearance. [b "I'd be satisfied with just making him cry in front of all the other big shots in here,"] he muttered back.
At the very least, they couldn't do anything until their business here was done. No sense in getting kicked out before their mission was successful. For that reason alone, Erik let the slimeball stay alive. He did, however, settle for forcing the man's knife to slip ever so slightly while he was cutting into his steak. The balding pig gasped and clutched his finger close as it spilled blood down the front of his shirt.
[b "Oops,"] Erik feigned innocence.
The lights dimmed and a man came over the speakers. [i "Gentlemen, get your wallets out. It's time for our very own Angel!"]
The music was sultry and definitely meant to set an arousing mood. A young woman took the stage, barely covered by anything even remotely considered clothing. [b "She's barely legal,"] Erik scoffed, tilting his head to look at Charlotte.
Angel's age didn't seem to matter to the other men in the club. Catcalls and bills were flowing freely towards the stage. Grabby hands reached for the girl's ankles. [b "Humans are disgusting,"] Erik snarled, finishing his whiskey sour in one gulp.
Despite her outward appearance, Charlotte often hated her powers. Never genuinely and never completely, but for... what could potentially be labled as frivilous reasons.
Such as, for example, hearing a lewd man's thoughts and knowing just exactly what ''Imagine what I could do to you'' was going through his head. Down to specific details, though none of those details were realistic. Not by his physical appearance, at least. Especially from the man that had gradually moved closer to the table some time after she having to (unfortunately) tell Erik that, no, it would look odd if he offered her his coat.
This enclosing, older-stranger's thoughts were not pleasant by any means. Hell, from what she could tell, he was somewhere around the same age that her father would have been if he were still alive that very day. [i Money makes people so digusting—especially so if it's dirty money.] It took all her will to kep her expression serene, rather than her nose crinkling in mental-disgust.
She arched an eyebrow as Erik dipped his head, lips close to her ear, and she let a small smile curl her lips. Turning her face to play into the "important man with pretty arm-candy" act, her nose skimmed lightly along his jaw as her lips neared his own ear to whisper in return. [b "From what I can skim off of the surface thoughts of this place, you have the right to punch him or just belittle him to within an inch of his life,"] with a cheeky grin blooming, she glanced up into his eyes as she backed her head off, [b "And if want, we can make it a double-act, and the poor bastard can unexpectedly piss himself in fear of you."] A soft snicker escaping her lips with the last of her whispered words, she wiggled her eyesbrows a moment.
With that piece said and down she idly rested her head upon Erik's shoulder, continuing the act as she continued to monitor the mind of the one they were awaiting to see. Waiting for when it was nearing the time for the girl to come out for her ''show.''
He'd never felt more like a snake in his entire life. Everything about the character he was playing was making him nauseous. [b "I hate every second of this,"] he murmured to Charlotte, tucked against his side. [b "This is insulting to us."]
Erik knew he was no angel, but he certainly was not the type to lounge in a gentlemen's club with a half-naked woman on his arm. It felt like he was degrading Charlotte, which was not a nice feeling to have. [b "I suppose that while I'm in this role, I'm not allowed to offer you my jacket?"] he spoke quietly.
Across the club, he watched an older man spot Charlotte, and very obviously drag his eyes up and down her body. The slob even had the nerve to lick his lips. It took everything in him not to march over and break his nose. Play the part, and don't draw attention.
It was uncomfortable, to say the least. It was likely due to him being old fashioned, but watching a woman strip for a room full of men catcalling her was not his idea of a good time.
The older man from earlier had moved to a closer table. He was still watching Charlotte like she was a prize to be won. [b "I'm fully aware that you are capable of taking care of yourself, but seeing as you're supposed to be my arm candy, what is the protocol for me to put this man in his place for looking at my woman?"] he whispered in her ear.
Charlotte reached over and gently patted his hand. [b "You're either a gangster or a dirty politician of very high calliber, Erik, and I'm supposed to be your personal escort. Get with the program,"] she said teasingly, [b "unless you want me to go in under the guise of trying to be 'hired' as a 'dancer'?"] Adjusting herself in the dress, she couldn't help but wince. The dress may go down the floor when standing, but her breasts were nearly halfway revealed, so she felt more naked in this than in a swimming-suit. [b "And no, you can't play the escort on your end, because this is a [i Gentlemen's] Club—as much as a gentleman someone can be with going to a place like this...."] She had started strong, but her words had trailed off at the end in distaste.
Discomforts on both ends set aside, they had to get out of the hired limosene, and after a few minutes, they managed to get into the establishment. While looking like a small upper-class bar on the outside, on the inside it led to spiraling grand-staircase that lead to an underground establishment nearly two stories down.
She hated the thought of figuring out exactly [i why] and [i how] a newly-turned seventeen year old had managed to get a job here at fourteen. She hated the path those thoughts would take with a fury.
[b [i /+// We have roughly an hour until the prospective mutant is due to perform, //+/]] Charlotte spoke casually into Erik's mind, doing her best to block out the various level of lecherous male minds around the club. [b [i /+// Until then, we play a part. We don't know where Shay may have allies in this country—mutant or otherwise—and a place this 'special' in such a well known American city is a potential place of contact for him. We have to be careful. //+/]]
The duo were quickly led to a booth area, Charlotte taking her seat only after Erik had, and relaxed herself against his side while still doing her best to look as prim as one of her 'station' should behave like.
Erik didn't want to press his luck with pissing her off again, so he bit his lip until he tasted blood. She could dress him in whatever she chose to, as long as it made the rest of the trip more pleasant than the beginning had been. He didn't even speak as he was measured for his tuxedo, which he felt was just a little too tight for his tastes.
When they were finally on their way, he couldn't help but tug at the black velvet suit jacket they'd fitted him with. [b "I'm going to die of heatstroke in this. It's not practical at all."]
He loosened his tie. [b "If you're a prostitute, than I guess that makes me your...what? Pimp? Client?"]
It was meant to be a joke, but he winced at the insinuation. [b "I suddenly hate everything about this."]
He wanted to be sure that they would be taken seriously. He wasn't so confident that they would pay Charlotte any mind if they thought she was just arm candy. [b "Can we switch this around so I'm the prostitute instead? I feel like I could pass as an expensive male escort. Your dress sparkles more, so you'd pull of the wealthy look more than I would."]
Erik didn't think he'd ever worn clothes so expensive. He'd always been a practical shopper as an adult. As a child, he wore whatever his family could afford. At the camps, it was nothing more than thin cotton shirts and trousers. The tuxedo cost more than his entire wardrobe put together.
[b "Raven may have taken inspiration in her eye-color and curly hair from me, but according to her I hold no sense of fasion due to my love of suits and sweaters,"] Charlotte began with a smirk, putting her bag in the back and getting intot he driver's seat. At Erik's tease of glitter though her smirk dropped, and she rolled her eyes, [b "We are going to let the clothing people do our outfit selections somewhere fancy. I'm allowing you nowhere near me."] Lifting her finger, she wagged it at him in a jesting scold before beginning to drive. It really was amazing—maybe even terrifying—how quick she seemed to forgive others.
An hour of driving around later, they came to a place called [i "La Chic"] which tailored expensively to men and women. Charlotte had led them in, went to the main desk, and plainly stated with a flash of hers and Erik's temporary FBI badges: [b "I need to look some sort of highclass, well-off version of a mixture of a lounge singer and a callgirl, and he needs to look like some excessively rich combination of a politician and a mob-boss."]
The woman at the desk, to her credit, had simply blinked before giving a cheery agreement and leading them off.
Another few hours from that, freshly dressed, the two were in the back of a rented limo since they had agreed it would't help their persona of Erik being a "rich and powerful" man if Charlotte, his supposed "best girl" was the one driving him.
[b "I feel like the princess-version of a prostitute,"] Charlotte whispered to Erik as the limo pulled up in front of the very, very expensive, private gentlemen's club. Opening her purse, she handed a bundle of cash to Erik that they'd pulled off of the FBI-granted credit cards. You had to flash at least 10k to get inside, after all. [b "It's so revealing. I hate this outfit."] Charlotte griped once more, resisting the urge to scratch at her face as they prepared to exit the vehicle.
It was understandable she felt the way she did, considering what she usually wore was far different from now: a black gown covered in glinting, swirling blue-beading, sleeveless sans for the two-strap suppor, a lower sweatheart neckline, a slit up the to the left-hip of the dress, and an ornate necklac-and-choker combination around her throat. Her hair was halfway up in a billowing cascade of curls, a deep-red lipstick contrasting her pale skin, and nothing else more in the make-up than sharp eyeliner and countoring,
Truth be told, there was no way in hell Erik had ever anticipated that Charlotte would forgive him with his simple apology. He stared back at her like a fish out of water, trying to form another sentence before she'd gathered their food and started bustling around the room to get ready.
He did as he was told, and was in the midst of sliding his jacket on when he suddenly caught on to what she was saying. He frowned and looked at his clothes. [b "I think I look quite fashionable,"] he pointed out, looking at himself in the mirror.
Sure, the slacks were a little wrinkled, and his shirt had a small stain where he'd accidentally dripped some coffee, but other than that it was fine. A suit? No way. Still, when he turned to reject her suggestion, Erik remembered that he was to play nice from now on. [b "Alright. A suit it is. At least let me pick it."]
He wagged a finger at her. [b "I know your sister would likely dress me in something with flashy colours and rhinestones, but I'm hoping she didn't get her taste in clothing from you."]
He takes the passenger seat again, stuffing the rest of his sandwich in his mouth. [b "It does seem fair that if I have to dress in a penguin suit, you have to be in a dress, though,"] he grinned wryly at her. [b "I'm not sure I can picture you in anything but your scholarly wardrobe,"] he glanced at her practical outfit. [b "Maybe something with glitter?"] he teased.
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