Charles Xavier dressed like a little old professor – baggy trousers and shirts with cuffs as floppy as his hair. Cardigans. It was not entirely a matter of comfort – it was that he had learned: people took him more seriously when he dressed the part. He had never grown as tall as his classmates; his face had never quite lost its childhood softness.
Baby-faced Charles dressed each morning and pulled on respectability like a pair of fine knit socks.
Of course, he reflects, sitting on the curb outside of the only bar in Westchester, brawling like a common drunk did nothing for his reputation. He should have avoided the situation entirely. But the other man had put his hands on Charles, and Charles had simply reacted.
Thumb outside the fist, wrapped around the bottom of his curled fingers. Knuckles centered and in line with the bones of his forearm so his punch landed squarely. Wrist straight. He aimed behind the other man’s ribs; proper follow through was important.
And it would never be acceptable to break his own hand in self-defense.
Erik squats in front of him, powerful thighs displayed in old denim (Charles could not help but notice), and presses a towel wrapped around a generous amount of ice into his nondominant hand. Erik had said nothing to Charles, merely raised an approving eyebrow, before the bartender had told them to leave in no uncertain terms.
“You’re going to feel that in the morning.” Erik is still not offering commentary. But he leans closer to Charles than usual.
Charles does not condone violence but his blood is racing – he beams at Erik. “Oh, my friend, I feel it now.”
Hank is running, the regular rhythm of his footfalls corralling the thoughts that so often outpace his own ability to catalog them. Running stills him, settles him, and now it even challenges him – because Charles is keeping pace and urging him faster.
The professor runs relaxed and fast, like he can run forever. When Hank asked Charles, Charles had laughed and said something self-deprecating. When Hank asked Raven, Raven had laughed and pulled out a photo album of Charles running cross-country in high school.
“Don’t hunch over, Hank.” Charles, always smiling, eyes Hank’s form critically. “No need to charge up the hill, just go smoothly and steadily.” Charles runs on his toes when they reach the downhill.
Hank pants and stops, though he knows such an abrupt stop is a bad idea, and stumbles to the side of the running path. Charles is off, running faster. But, really, Hank thinks, it’s more than that.
Charles is running fast and he is running joyfully. Hank starts back up, his same steady rhythm. And he tries to run on his toes.
Alex feels his bones crunch together as Charles tackles him to the unforgiving ground. He groans, but keeps his arms wrapped tight around the ball. There were a lot of terms bouncing around in his head – Charles and his damned vocabulary – but Alex knew a tackle when he felt one.
“Rugby,” Charles had said, “is a far more noble sport.” He’d squinted his eyes when Raven snorted but Alex hadn’t taken heed of the warning when he should’ve. He’d thought rugby was just football without pads and had said as much. American football. Not what Charles called football with the kicking and the running and all the feet doing complicated-looking things.
Now Alex tries to sort out whether this would count as a maul or a ruck (he still isn’t entirely clear on the difference) (he suspects it’s neither); Charles is offering a hand and a grin that makes him look just about as dangerous as Erik does sometimes. It isn’t comforting. Alex lets Charles pull him to his feet.
“Keep the ball in play, Alex – don’t hog it.” Charles is laughing and Sean is there to scoop up the ball and make a run for it. Not that Erik lets him get far. And Charles is off again.
Maybe they can try soccer next time after all.
“I’m just saying,” Angel said to the blue-skinned young woman on the other bed, “I wouldn’t kick your brother out of bed if he was on offer.” It’s true – but it’s also more fun than Angel could have imagined to tease the other woman.
For her part, Raven groans and hides her head under the first pillow she can grab. It smells like Angel. Which is actually really very nice.
“He’s got pert nipples, Raven.” Angel shrieks and dodges the pillow that’s thrown at her face.
Erik runs the flat of his large hand down the center of Charles’s naked back They’re catching their breath, though Erik isn’t actually sure he’ll ever take a full, deep breath again – he is too sated with Charles’s smell, Charles’s taste, Charles’s weight sprawled across his chest to bother with anything so mundane as breathing.
Charles has a runner’s legs and a compact body that’s quite serviceable. And rather flexible. He’s short but well put together, and Erik has never been a snob about that sort of thing anyway. Charles has long, lean thigh muscles, solid shoulders, and the strength to wrestle and roll around on the sheets. Erik had not been entirely expecting it when Charles pressed hands to Erik’s wrists, held him down so Charles could take him apart.
Being restrained had never felt so sweet.
Now, though, Charles is sitting up and laughing, his blue eyes all twinkling. Really, he should be too old for fits of the giggles, particularly after what he’s been up to in bed – Charles is delightfully filthy. Erik smothers a chuckle of his own.
The children can make their own breakfast, he thinks. He’s keeping Charles naked and in this bed for as long as he possibly can.