Raven’s eyebrows fly up when she steps into the apartment for the first time, and Charles isn’t really ashamed of the little curl of pleasure he feels at her expression. Raven has always been much more modern in her tastes than Charles has, so he’s not surprised at the way she glances at him with lips upturning into a smile, appreciative and a little envious that she has ended up with the very old-fashioned mansion and he in this sharp, aggressively modish apartment. She is blue today, and her scales rasp gently against his skin when she drops her bag to pull him into a hug, their cheeks brushing together as he returns it.
“Hello, love.” They’ve never been apart as long as this before - it’s going to take some getting used to, for both of them.
“Hey.” She pulls back enough to meet his eyes, her own crinkling at the corners where the swirling patterns of her skin gather. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too.” It’s like something has dropped back into place that he hadn’t known was missing, like a limb that had gone to sleep slowly waking to pins and needles; Charles squeezes her tighter, leans his forehead against hers and enjoys the feel of her mind close to his again, warm and vibrant and protective, always, the feel of her thoughts flicking about him and the apartment to decide if she needs to do anything to make him happier.
For a moment he feels a brief pang of homesickness for Raven and his familiar room, the library and Mrs Cook and the house, but it is a pang, nothing more. Perhaps later it will be stronger, when he has lived here long enough for it to stop feeling like a lovely dream and to start feeling like his life. Raven’s arms clutch his waist, and she grins at him, white teeth stark against the blue of her skin.
He senses Erik coming out of the bedroom before he hears him, a flicker of who-why-jealous?-no, wait, sister followed by a verbalised, “Raven, it’s good to see you again. How are you?”
Charles turns to look, half-twisting out of Raven’s grasp. It’s like turning towards the sun; Erik is walking toward them, a polite smile on his face, and when he reaches Charles the closeness of him still makes Charles shiver deliciously, something that sends a thrill down Erik’s spine that he can feel in the air between them, his Dom too well-attuned to him not to notice.
His sister and his Dom tip their heads to the side, exposing their throats, before shaking politely, in the slightly wary way of Dominants who are not very well acquainted but who share an interest in the same sub and have not yet established who has the better claim.
Raven smiles in return, letting her hand fall from its resting place on Charles’ hip as Erik’s drifts up to claim the other, tugging Charles a little closer with two fingers hooked into the waistband of his pants until he is snugged against Erik’s side, caught under his arm. It’s all so casual, the transfer of power. “I’m good, Erik. How are you?”
“Oh, you know. Barely surviving this vicious beast you’ve unleashed upon me,” Erik says, and Raven laughs as Charles blushes.
“We’re doing well, thank you,” Charles says in as dignified a manner as he can when they’re both laughing at him. “Come in and sit down.”
Raven is glancing between him and Erik, taking in their body language the way she does - sometimes Charles thinks she can tell as much about a person’s thoughts from the way they stand as he ever can from reading their minds. He can feel her opinion warming the longer she looks, a pleasant ambient emotion she doesn’t try to hide from him. “I can’t - not right away, anyway.” She jerks her thumb back over her shoulder at the door. “I’ve boxes downstairs in the car for you. Figured I’d come up here first and ask for a hand carrying them.”
Erik swings the handle down and open with a quick gesture, pulling the door open for Raven to walk through first. “Lead on.”
They troop down the hall to the elevator together, and it should be awkward trying to decide where to stand in the elevator - how to distribute himself between the two of them, like declaring allegiance - but it isn’t, Raven leaning easily against the far wall out of the way, so that Charles is naturally closer to Erik without having to make the call himself. In the brushed steel of the wall her reflection is a blur of cerulean, with a shock of red from her hair and the elegant little sundress she’s wearing today, scarlet and stiff-skirted in the latest Domme fashion. “I couldn’t bring the whole study with me,” she says, pretending to examine her nails even as she glances at Charles sidelong, gold eyes picking up the bright electric light and near glowing. “I tried to pick the parts I thought you’d want most, but you have so many books. So I only brought the least relevant, most boring ones in a fit of charity for Erik, to make sure he sees you at least once a week.”
Charles humphs as the doors slide open, letting them out into the underground parking garage. “I’m not that bad.”
Raven just laughs.
He can see Raven’s car in the corner visitor’s spot, a sleek convertible in a shade of glossy indigo that she’d picked out herself as soon as she was old enough to get her licence. There are white racing stripes down the hood that continue on the back, stark against the deep colour of the body. When Erik realises which one they’re walking towards he lets out a low whistle; Charles feels his interest sharpening, and then the not-yet-familiar sensation of Erik’s power stretching out to investigate the metal tingles through his brain, invisible hands running along the flanks of the car the same way an ostler might examine a horse. “What a lovely piece of machinery,” Erik murmurs as they get up to it, and of course then he has to put his physical hands on it as well, sounding out the metal. “Shame about the plastic panels.”
“Those plastic panels get it from zero to sixty in four point one seconds,” Raven says dryly, leaning her hip against the car and checking her appearance in the wing mirror. “It’s an R8, not a tank. It needs to be light.”
Erik shakes his head, stepping back away from the car reluctantly. “They feel like prosthetic limbs. Grafted on.”
“We can take her out for a spin later, I’ll show you who’s got prosthetic limbs,” and Raven grins, wiggling her eyebrows and grinning at Erik’s poorly hidden delight. “It’s the Oscar Pistorius of cars. Oscar Piston-ius.”
She pops the trunk to get at the boxes, and they parcel them out between them, Erik and Raven each taking two and leaving one behind for Charles. They bicker comfortably about the car all the way back upstairs, and if Charles feels a little left out of the conversation - he knows nothing about cars, and has more or less no interest in them as more than a way to get from A to B, other than that the two people he cares about most in the world like them - then it is easily subsumed by his relief at how well they get along.
Raven hadn’t said much about her own interactions with Erik before the bonding, only that he seemed like he would be good for Charles, which could have meant anything. Whenever he’d tried to say that the only person who would be good for him was somebody who could love Raven too, she’d shushed him, refusing to listen until he stopped and putting her hands on her hips to mock-seriously tell him she knew best and that he should just do what she said.
They put the boxes down in the study for now, out of the way, piled up beside the double-desk Erik had had brought in for them to share. It’s almost impossible not to take a peek and see what Raven had deemed worthy of bringing for him, but Erik snags Charles’ wrist easily and tugs him back out into the living room with them to sit while they discuss the finer points of engine maintenance. When he goes easily to his knees on the floorpad beside Erik, Raven doesn’t even pause in her dismissal of whatever point it is Erik is trying to make, her fingers flicking quickly beside her knee, middle finger touching to thumb then little finger - all okay?
Charles doesn’t need to nod back, just leans a little into Erik’s leg, no need to feign comfort at the closeness. He makes the same gesture back from where his hands are laying placidly in neutral in his lap. Everything’s okay.
Erik’s foot brushes Charles’ thigh, and there is a touch to the back of his neck, Erik’s hand slipping down to play with the ends of his hair. Charles should have guessed Erik wouldn’t miss their hand signals. A query is pressed against his mind, more of a question mark than a question, and he answers Erik the same way he did Raven, a sense of wellbeing, of reassurance, but in feelings instead of fingers; the touch of Erik’s hand on the back of his neck is soft, lingers affectionately along with a sensation of approval, and a little relief. Erik had been worried about Raven’s opinion of him, too, not that he’d admit it.
After a few minutes Erik reaches down for Charles’ arm, a cue to stand, and Charles takes it, lets Erik guide him up onto his feet while the two Doms stay seated. “Make me a coffee,” Erik says, smiling at him when Charles looks down at him, letting go of his hand with a feeling of reluctance. “Yourself too, if you want one. Raven?”
“Yes please. White, one sugar, please, Charles.”
He snorts as he heads for the kitchen. He might not be able to cook, but he’s very good at anything that involves caffeine. Erik has ceded the coffee maker over to him entirely since the first morning, and hasn’t touched it since. “No mocha-frappa-caramel-chocco-cinos today, then?”
“Not today, unless you’re feeling cocky, in which case you can drink it when you’re done. That sounds disgusting.”
“Just regular coffee for me,” Erik says dryly, and when Charles comes back with a mug in each hand Erik takes the darker of the two from him with a small nod for praise, careful and measured. It sets a tingle of pleasure at having pleased him to smoldering in Charles’ belly, one he savours as he goes back to the counter for his own coffee. He has to be careful in here not to spill, with all of the carpets and furniture so pale, but he manages somehow, cupping the mug between his hands as he sinks back to his knees, tucking his feet around and under before he takes a sip. It’s good.
Raven stays for an hour, and it’s interesting how much Charles learns about Erik just by listening to them talk; he tries not to think about why he and Erik have not had the time for many in-depth conversations up until this point, but can’t quite stop himself from blushing when he does, something Raven - for once in her life - has the grace not to tease him for. He will have to show her similar leniency when she finally bonds, as a reward. It’s good, too, that when he does offer comments, Erik just answers him the same way he does Raven, takes Charles’ thoughts on mutant politics seriously instead of just dismissing them like some Doms would. It’s not that Charles had thought Erik was the traditionalist sort of Dominant, but it’s good to have it confirmed.
Erik’s hand stays on the back of Charles’ neck the whole time, fingers stroking up and down the fine hairs at the nape of his neck, with and against the grain of the hair until it’s all he can do not to simply let his head fall forward and moan in a way he would be embarrassed for his sister to see.
Then of course Raven tells Erik about how sensitive Charles’ neck is to a good squeeze, and he changes his mind about the leniency.
“I’ll bear that in mind,” Erik says dryly, and keeps stroking. It’s maddening, almost impossible to keep his face from flushing, and Charles squirms a little, finally half-turning away from his sister to make it less obvious how turned on he’s becoming. After a week of Erik’s touch it’s practically Pavlovian, the way his body responds.
They end up leaving Charles behind when Raven takes Erik out for the promised drive. Charles has little to no interest in clutching at the frame of the car while trying not to pray out loud that she doesn’t crash them into a streetlamp or an old lady, like something out of those video games she and her friends used to play in high school. Raven drives hellishly fast and is lucky not to have lost her licence. After he calms himself down, staying on the floor pad thinking about cold showers long enough that he starts to worry about them coming back - he doesn’t touch himself, Erik has forbidden him to masturbate without Erik there to watch - he spends the time going through the boxes, slowly unpacking their contents into neat piles on the study floor.
Contrary to what she’d said, Raven has wrapped his books very carefully, and she’s picked the ones she knows he likes best, layers of tissue paper between each one to pad them from the edges of the boxes and each other. He turns over the dog-eared copy of The Once and Future King his father had given him when he was small - to grow into, he’d said - fondly, before shelving it carefully beside the books Erik has already tucked away. Erik’s books are well-loved, too, worn around the edges and yellowed with age, old detective novels and classics mixed together with no regard for genre or appearance.
He hears Erik come back in, so he’s not surprised when Erik speaks from the doorway behind him, his shadow breaking up the light from the open doorway. “I like your sister.”
Charles smiles at his first edition copy of The Hobbit, clearly pilfered from the locked section of the mansion’s library. “I’m glad.”
“You’re much snarkier around her,” Erik says, stepping into the room and sitting on the floor behind Charles. An arm snakes around his waist, resting against his belly as Erik draws him back to lean against his body at an angle, chin coming to rest on Charles’ shoulder. “She told me to watch your tongue once you get more comfortable with me. Are you uncomfortable?”
It’s as though Erik’s never been away - Charles feels himself start to get hard again, flushes hot all over and tries to ignore it but can’t, quite, stop himself from wriggling a little against Erik’s hold, just to test it. Tipping his head back so he can see Erik’s expression, Charles smiles and shakes his head. “No. You’re just new.”
Erik’s eyes flicker down from Charles’ half-lowered lids to his lips. “Hmm. Is that so.”
And Charles feels a little shiver run down his spine - surely Erik can feel it too - when he dares to say, “Yes, sir.”
“I don’t think it’s your tongue I need to watch,” Erik murmurs, and holds Charles’ chin still to catch his mouth for a kiss, heated and possessive. His tongue is forceful when he presses it past Charles’ lips, and Charles lets himself relax into the hold, submitting to the pose and kissing back as much as Erik will let him, which isn’t much - engaged but dominated, allowing Erik leave to do as he will. When they part their mouths make a wet sound, and his lips feel swollen and bruised in the best possible way.
It’s quiet in the apartment, only the thud of his heart in his chest and the sound of their breathing disturbing the silence. Erik’s eyes are scorching when they trail down his body, taking in Charles’ arousal and the easy lethargy of his limbs, waiting to be moved. “Are you going to be good for me, Charles? Or do I have to watch you?”
“I’ll be good,” Charles whispers, and Erik kisses him again. When he squeezes his hand around the nape of Charles’ neck the sound he makes is embarrassing, but Erik seems to like it.
“So what did Raven bring you?” Erik asks after a while, letting go of Charles’ face and turning his attention to the semi-circle of belongings spread around where they’re sitting, leaning forward to reach for the closest book. “‘Mutant and Proud: A History of the Mutant Rights Movement’. Is it any good?”
Charles shifts, and Erik’s arm around his middle tightens, holding him there in the way Charles likes best, close and secure. “Some parts are better than others. It does well on physical mutations, but like most books it skims telepath rights instead of admitting it’s a difficult area.” It’s strange, talking to Erik about something serious, like equals. Not because Charles doesn’t want to, but… this is new. Up until now they’ve been sounding each other out. This is nice.
“Hmm. Emma has some good books on the topic, you can probably borrow those,” Erik says, and reaches out with his long arm to put the book on the shelf beside Charles’ other textbooks, sliding it in with a sound of paper on wood. “Looks like Raven brought you a lot of books.”
He hums in agreement, reaching out for Father’s paperweight and weighing it in his hand, the heavy glass shot through with colours in an intricate pattern, lets Erik take it from him and hold it up to the light. “I like to read.”
“I can see that.”
“Did you have a good drive?” Charles asks, and can feel Erik’s smile against his neck.
“Yes. It’s a great car. You should have come.”
“Raven used to take me and I hate it when she drives. I love her, but I don’t feel safe,” Charles admits in a rush, and Erik’s arm tightens again. This time it’s almost uncomfortably snug.
“Do you feel safe now?” Erik’s lips move against Charles’ skin so that he can feel the words as well as hear them, and he shudders, turns into the touch instead of away. “Yes.”
A broad hand splays across Charles’ belly, palm pressed flush to Charles’ navel through his shirt. “She can’t have you back,” Erik says, and bites down gently on the pulse in Charles’ throat, not hard enough to mark. His free hand comes up to press the metal of the collar against the notch of Charles’ collarbone, as if to reassure himself it’s still there. “You’re mine now.”
“Yes,” Charles says, and lets Erik press him down to the floor among the scattered treasures his sister brought him, goes gracefully and willingly limp under Erik’s hands until his Dominant is assured that Charles doesn’t intend to move.
It’s different, how he feels about his sister and how he feels about Erik, Charles thinks to himself once Erik has blanketed him with his body, wrists loosely clasped to the carpet above his head. Raven had dominated him casually when he needed it, provided structure and decisiveness, but… Charles’ knees bend of their own accord whenever Erik looks at him, so much so that he has had to learn to lock them when he needs to be upright to keep from slipping to the floor and waiting for instructions.
“Stay there,” Erik says, letting go of Charles’ wrists and waiting a beat to make sure he doesn’t move before getting to his feet, standing over Charles’ prone form and looking down at him with a heated gaze.
“Okay,” Charles replies, and waits patiently for something good.