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given back, but not to keep

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Fandom: X-Men First Class
Pairing: Erik/Charles
Rating: NC-17
Summary: It starts one morning when, walking down a hallway during a lull between lessons, Erik comments casually to Charles, "Don't forget to train yourself too."
Warning: mention of non-con fantasy
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters mentioned herein; they’re based on the movie "X-Men First Class" (2011), which in turn has been adapted from the Marvel comic series.

 


given back, but not to keep

It starts one morning when, walking down a hallway during a lull between lessons, Erik comments casually to Charles, "Don't forget to train yourself too."

Charles nods. "I shan't. Though it’s quite rewarding to use my abilities to help other mutants. To share the experience of what that they can do...”

Maybe it’s the angle from which Erik is looking down at his friend, or the tiniest twitch in that guileless expression, or the unthinking, dismissive confidence in Charles’ voice, but Erik’s semi-wandering thoughts suddenly remember said voice on another night promising, I can make you stay. But I won't.

Erik has never really thought about what those words could mean. Charles is so... aggressively earnest, dark curls and wide blue eyes exuding warmth and trustworthiness in every moment. Even Erik believes the guise. It's been a matter of survival for him to sniff out deception; he's met every flavor of it, has seen the cruelest forms of human creativity, moved among the lowest ranks of scum.

And that's what makes him wonder. Because Charles has been in his head, I know everything about you, and he's never looked at Erik any differently. Charles has lived an easy life, and yet none of the darkness in Erik's head seems to faze him. It might be the mark of arrogance, which Charles is not immune from, but it's so different from the kind Erik is used to that it'd confused him at first and fascinates him now. So, Erik believes, because stronger than anything, inexplicable and occasionally infuriating, is Charles’ compassion. For everyone, humans and mutants alike, and Erik wants to resent him for having had the luxury to develop it, but mostly he can’t help wonder how someone can be that fucking self-assured...

It hits him. Raven is wrong, after all: Charles is hiding, just like the rest of them. Just a harmless, pampered young man, nose buried in books, nothing to see here.

A harmless telepath.

“... A pity we couldn't take Cerebro with us, or I'd be training there. But Hank is cobbling plans out of what he remembers from the CIA prototype. You’re not listening to me anymore, are you?”

Erik raises an eyebrow - he’s not an amateur. "We've seen your reach and stamina on Cerebro, but do you actually know the extent of your abilities?"

The look in Charles' eyes definitely grows more intent, and he gazes at Erik searchingly. "What's on your mind, my friend?"

Erik refrains from the instinctive response of can't you tell?, because it's childish when Charles made a point at the start of promising to not read their minds without permission. Or do his best not to, anyway. He simply gives Charles a curious look. "I can throw things around, twist and melt and reform metal, function like a giant magnet,” he says quietly. "But those are just party tricks." He meets that intense gaze with his own. "Has anyone ever looked at you, my friend, and realized just how much you can do?"

Those blue eyes flick away. After a long moment, Charles admits, "No. I suspect even Raven doesn't think about it."

"To be fair, you don't look all that dangerous."

Charles' lips quirk up at the corners. "General human fear response aside, telepathy appears fairly innocuous next to what Alex or Sean can do. The... additional applications of my ability, not to mention my strength, usually don't occur to the few people who know about it."

But of course it would occur to Erik, his tone implies. Erik nods, to both spoken and unspoken. He's long accepted that he's a weapon. For a lifetime, he'd believed that that's all he was.

And then came Charles.

Looking at Charles now, he realizes another difference between them: Charles will never see himself as merely a weapon, and by extension, will never truly embrace that his fellow mutants are weapons too.

On the one hand, this is an obvious weakness, and this will likely get Charles hurt; he'll always be weaker, always be less ruthless than the other side.

On the other, Erik remembers a bullet he couldn't yet touch taking out the only light in the world. Followed by weeks and months of pain, observation, experimentation. Nights alone in his cell, jeered at by guards who hated and feared him, half-crushed by the knowledge that while he could escape, biding his time would make him sharper, stronger. There can be no bigger contrast, he thinks, than the Westchester mansion and its open, sprawling grounds.

He's never known that it's possible to feel love and hate and fear and admiration all at once, for one person. He has no idea what to do with it. He ends up blurting, "If you need help, or someone to practice on - you can always ask me."

Erik feels a flutter of panic the moment the words are out of his mouth. Because the first thing he'd resolved, when he'd decided it is time and got free of that hated lab and the unending experiments, had been no more tests, no more experiments, he'll never cede control to anyone ever again. And fine, he appears to be wandering into labs again these days, but at least the person sticking needles into him has hands for feet, is legitimately intelligent, and shows a more-than-healthy respect for his person; it makes a surprising amount of difference.

Erik is probably broadcasting his uneasiness strongly enough that the other man doesn't need to read his thoughts. Charles being Charles, he gives Erik a smile of appreciation for the gesture. "Thank you, my friend. I'll keep that in mind," his gentle tone reassuring that he won't actually take Erik up on the offer.

+++

Except Erik can't stop thinking about it. He finds himself watching Charles - well, more than he already did - and mentally cataloguing the things Charles does to help everyone with their powers. But they're all such small tricks, merely teasing little glimpses of the whole; it feels like the least satisfying striptease ever.

The analogy makes Erik want to chuckle but doesn't draw any attention from Charles, who is standing right next to him as they watch Hank easily climbing one of the evergreens. Further evidence that Charles is not listening in. Erik discreetly observes Charles' profile out of the corner of his eye, thinks on the unknown power restrained in that deceptively relaxed posture.

How ironic - Charles is helping all of them to expand the scope of their powers, to discover their strengths and let go, yet he's the one who's being so careful.

Erik knows how to be a soldier, knows how to let things go that aren't his business. But this is Charles, and he wants to soak in every drop of knowledge about this man, wants to understand him. From the way Charles seems perplexed and gratified by Erik's somewhat intense attention, Erik suspects no one's ever tried.

+++

There's a small boom from somewhere else on their floor. Based on the audible shouts immediately following, Sean has forgotten about indoor voices again.

The ensuing vibrations shake and rattle all the little trinkets in the main study. Erik has never seen so much stuff collected in one place, most of them without immediate purpose. He sees Charles halting the progress of two delicate-looking figures rolling towards the edge of a sidetable.

It's not until he registers the cold and weight on his left palm that he even knows his hand has moved. He blinks and stares at the figurine clasped in his fingers - porcelain, not a trace of metal that he could have sensed.

He makes the obvious connection and raises an eyebrow at Charles. "Good catch."

Charles gives him a mortified look. "I am so, so sorry, my friend."

"No harm done. You have sharp reflexes."

But Charles doesn’t seem to hear him. "I was distracted, and there's more people in this house than I'm used to. I can't promise it won't happen again, but I'll be more diligent." And wow, Charles is babbling and won't meet his eyes; after a moment, Erik realizes that his friend is expecting him to be angry.

"Let me guess: Raven doesn't like it when you do that," says Erik mildly. He replaces the figurine on the high shelf it had rolled off.

Charles huffs. "Last time, she wouldn't talk to me for days. It would have gone on longer if we hadn't had to return to Oxford."

Erik regards him quietly. "You do so much for everyone else, and yet you shut yourself behind glass." This pulls Charles' eyes back up. "Don't hold yourself back, Charles. At least not with me."

Charles spins around angrily. "You don't know what you're asking."

Then show me, Erik thinks as hard as he can at Charles' rigidly straight back.

It's a bit of a low blow, when Charles is obviously frazzled, but Erik has been gaining a better sense, each day, of just how powerful his friend is, how big the iceberg is that is looming safely out of sight, submerged. The tip above the water is pleasantly picturesque, but Erik is naturally drawn to the part that no one's clearly thought to look for, beneath the placid sea blue: dark and glittering and deadly.

Said blueness is regarding him up close. Erik doesn't move away, doesn't even want to - the concept of personal space seems laughable when there's a telepath in the room - so it takes several heartbeats for Erik to realize that he can't. Charles is holding him frozen, every part of him immobile, though he can still see and hear and feel and think. But there's an undeniable feeling that he can only do these things because Charles is allowing him to.

He knows Charles expects him to struggle, to react in fear. He thinks, good thing you're already in here, and lets Charles feel his unabashed delight, his amazement at the power implied because even this feels like just another party trick for Charles, not even a test. Strongest of all is genuine pride at what his friend, brother, fellow mutant can do, you shouldn't have to hide this from me, Charles.

Charles gasps, and Erik's body is his again. He feels faintly mortified himself, because Charles' name in his thoughts had been accompanied by all the tangled emotions Erik associates with him, some of which he hadn't really been aware of until now. Explains a lot, really.

There's a faint flush on Charles' face, and he definitely won't meet Erik's eyes. "No," he says softly, and strides out of the study.

+++

"You're not going to leave me alone, are you?" says Charles tiredly when he opens his door. He doesn't stop Erik from entering his room, though.

"You've been left alone long enough," says Erik. Charles wordlessly pours a glass of Scotch and hands it to him, exactly what Erik would have asked for; neither of them pretend it's a lucky guess.

Charles is wearing a dark maroon robe, luxurious and fitting the too-ornate decor of the master suite. He looks ridiculously harmless, pale skin gleaming in the gaps of fabric, alone and small and inviting to be debauched. Except Erik doesn't believe it, any more than he looks at Raven and sees blonde hair and a wholesomely light complexion. He hasn't been around other mutants for long, but his instincts adapt quickly, and he knows he's not the big bad wolf in the room.

They sit down with their drinks. Charles' sitting room feels far more intimate than Charles' study. Charles is on the sofa and Erik in an armchair, and there's no chess board between them. Erik is strangely aware of the open door of the bedroom.

"Why are you here, Erik?"

"Because you need to use your powers," replies Erik, cutting right to the point. "Really use them, not just the a nudge or a peek here and there in the name of teaching. We'll be going up against mutants who've been using their powers constantly, who know how to use them to hurt."

"I've done well enough so far," protests Charles. "And I have been using my powers." His expression turns pained. "I can never really stop using them, not without leaving civilization."

"You've done well in being able to hide among humans. That does not make you ready to go head-to-head with other mutants. What if you meet another telepath? One who’s stronger than Ms. Frost."

"Why do you keep pushing this?"

"Because for all your talk about embracing our mutant powers, you're afraid of yours!"

Charles glares at him. The air in the room feels sharper, like there's a growing charge. "I’m not afraid of my powers. I know exactly what I'm capable of, and I started honing my ability years before most other mutants even realize what they are."

Erik regards him seriously. "Ah. You don't trust yourself with your powers."

The empty glass in Charles' hand comes down on the coffee table with a clank. "The moment we met, when I first touched you in the water, I knew your history. I could feel all your pain and anger, all your scars and everything you've suffered." It's amazing, really, how Charles uses honesty like a weapon. Erik knows all about how ability shapes the way one fights. "I know that you love your power,” continues Charles, “exactly as much as you hate it. In your dreams, you are Frankenstein and his creature, haunting each other in the Arctic; the pain your ability causes you is also what allows you to use it, and you don't know how to live without either." Charles' eyes burn like ice. "You hate that a part of you isn't sure you would stop that bullet, if you could do it over again knowing what you do now. Sometimes you hate the person you've become, other times you love him, but what terrifies you more is that you could've turned out to be someone like me."

It's like standing in a storm, or looking down at a raging river; there’s no wind, not even a breeze,, yet Erik’s skin crawls like he's on the brink of being flayed alive. Breathless, he pushes, "Stop trying to chase me away, Charles. Stop hiding, and tell me what you need."

Charles' voice loses some of its strength, but each word echoes strangely in Erik’s head, and he can’t look away from Charles’ eyes. "I can make you do anything I want. I can take everything you are and never give it back. I can wipe your mind clean, Erik, leave you an open, empty shell. I can change every memory you have until you're a completely different person, and you would never even know."

Erik finds himself on the sofa, and he closes the gap between them, hands cupping Charles' jaw. Whispers, "I know,” somewhere between pleading and absolution.

It’s both a surprise, and completely not, the way his blood is singing under his skin. The way his body is responding to the danger, the sweetness of matching strength, the possibility of destruction. And he doesn’t try to hide any of it. Charles' hands come up to grip Erik's arms, fingers digging in hard enough to hurt.

"Charles," says Erik, breathless from the hot pressure on his chest, "has anybody ever put their life in your hands," their life, life, not the pull of breath or beat of muscle but the threads intangible, oh God they haven't even done anything and their thoughts are already tangling together and it's exquisite, "has anybody ever trusted their self in your hands, knowing what you can do?"

How young must Charles have been, in this empty, cluttered house, when he'd first discovered how fragile memories are? How humans are like wisps to someone like him?

"Never," whispers Charles, eyes lost.

Then let me.

 

Erik is used to people staring at him in fear. There had been days, at the beginning, when that had been all that had kept him going, that and the plans for the next pound of flesh to be collected.

He's never seen someone afraid for him. He's never had to reach out and reassure someone, you can't hurt me.

You mean I can't hurt you more than Shaw already has, replies Charles. Again, honesty wielded like a sword. At least he's stopped trying to talk; a small victory, like all the times Erik manages to convince Raven to appear as herself. But we both know that I can, Erik. I might. And I don't want to hurt you at all.

Then you won't.

The bed looks too large for Charles' slight frame. Charles sits at the end of it, robe gaping further. It feels like a gift, Charles letting Erik see him lost and unsure, so Erik doesn't try to hide the thoughts that spring up at the teases of bared skin, doesn't obscure the sudden surge of desire.

Erik steps closer until his shins are on the verge of touching Charles's knees, and meets that heavy gaze with the unquestioned acceptance that this kind, clever mind can dissect and damage him in ways Schmidt can't even dream of. Honesty feels clumsy and intangible to Erik, but he's trained to use what works. Charles. Charles. I've never had anyone to trust before. Will you show me what it's like?

Charles' lips are warm, soft, and they break open under the gentle pressure of Erik's. At first they simply share breath, but then Erik licks over Charles' bottom lip, and the kiss turns wet, maddening, tongues dipping and tasting and caressing.

You don't even know what you want.

But you do.

A low groan comes from one of them.

Erik reluctantly pulls away. Stands a few feet away and waits.

It's like a switch being flipped. Between one heartbeat and the next, Erik loses contact with his body. All of his senses are initially muffled, like he's been shoved into a jar of cotton inside his brain. But then sensation slides back, until he feels normal, like he's just standing there, inexplicably motionless. He can feel his heart beating, lungs breathing, his body's autonomic functions carrying on as usual.

Charles, he doesn't hide the awe he feels, your control is masterful.

Thank you.

He wants to shift his gaze, look at Charles properly, and then he can. He blinks. Still can’t move anything else but his eyes and eyelids. There’s no sense of... intrusion, no way to tell that there’s someone riding his mind. It brings home how Charles really can wipe him clean, destroy him worse than killing him, without even moving a muscle.

Erik wants him.

He doesn't know how deep Charles has gone, how much he can pick up, but Erik draws attention to the bundle of need that's been sitting low in his gut ever since he started thinking about this. Desires he hasn’t even thought about properly, but wants Charles to see, to untangle.

Erik.

Charles. Please.

Charles finally gets rid of that robe, slipping it off and sliding up the bed, letting Erik see that he's not unaffected by what what they’re doing. What Erik is giving him. A delicate flush tinges his skin when Erik's gaze rakes him hotly up and down.

It's odd to feel arousal burning through him when the rest of him is so still, to feel heat cascading down his body and blood filling his cock but not be able to do anything bout it.

It may also be the most erotic thing he's ever experienced.

You must have thought of doing this with someone before, he tells Charles, his thoughts carrying the smirk his face can't make. Tell me about it.

Charles is looking at him like he's no longer convinced Erik can be real. You are something else, Erik Lehnsherr.

Then Charles wraps his fingers around his own cock, half-hard out of its nest of pubic hair, and Erik would have stumbled, or gasped, if he hadn't been frozen in place, because fuck I can feel that.

I've thought about doing this with a stranger, Charles' thought glides across Erik's mind like a caress, whilst fingers that don't feel like his own slowly stroke a cock that isn't his, thought about taking someone home and, and using them and then wiping their memories. No one would ever know.

Blink. That's why you have Raven with you.

Yes. No one should live without having someone else to hold them accountable.

Erik drinks in Charles' hungry gaze. Do it, Charles. Use me. I want you to.

I know you do. God, Erik, I can sense how much you want it. The things you'll let me do to you.

Charles presses his fingers to his temple. Erik's body moves forward. Erik can feel the shift and flex of his muscles, the scratchiness of the carpet under his bare feet, but he's not the one directing his movements. There's a brief moment of instinctive resistance, and he senses Charles hesitating, preparing to pull back.

I want this, Erik repeats, and lets go, wholly focusing on only what he can feel.

He sees and hears and feels his hands removing his clothing. There's a slight chill in the air because Charles hasn't lit the fireplace in the sitting room, but it's pleasant over his heated skin. He can still feel Charles jerking off, can feel the strange slide of a foreskin he doesn’t have, each stroke smooth and deliberate. A careful step out of the trousers pooled around his ankles, another one to reach the bed.

His body clambers up to where Charles is half-reclining. It's not as graceful as he could have done himself. Focus, Charles, he teases. Think of the example you're setting for the children.

Charles' face flushes a darker red. You- you are unbelievable. Charles tightens his grip, executes a particularly clever twist around the head of his cock, and they both groan, though only one voice fills the room.

Come on, Charles, show me what that big brain of yours can do.

How are you this irritating when you don't even have the use of your mouth?

There's an idea. Use my mouth for something else, then.

Charles lets out a frustrated growl. Erik stares at his friend's prick, flushed dark and shiny wet at the tip, and in lieu of actual thoughts, he concentrates on how much he wants this, needs this.

Erik feels his jaw relaxing, head bowing down, and Charles' hand coming to rest on the back of his head, the other hand angling that pretty cock up. Even now, Erik can't resist. No hands, Charles. Where's the challenge in that?

A whine this time, but the hands move away, and the smell and taste of precome fills Erik's senses as the head of Charles' prick slips between his lips, sliding slowly over his tongue.

Are you feeling what I'm feeling? he asks, Are you tasting yourself? Can you feel how hot you are in my mouth?

Yes. Yes, fuck, I feel everything.

It starts out slow and tentative, Charles clearly trying to figure out what works best whilst maintaining an impressively specific control over Erik's body. It's hardly smooth. Charles' dick bumps the roof of Erik's mouth and Erik's teeth repeatedly graze the sensitive skin because Charles keeps forgetting to cover them and there's a lot of drool everywhere. It’s fantastic, and Erik's fairly sure he can get off just on the sounds Charles is making, especially after they figure out to turn off Erik's gag reflex. He can still control his eyes, so he looks up and sees Charles leaning back on the headboard, a sweaty wreck and utterly beautiful.

Erik. Oh, oh God, the way you see me-

Erik seeshearsfeels himself pulling off, crawling up to be level with Charles. Did you think I hated you? Did you think I'd do this with just anyone?

For all that he can't control his own body, the look on Charles' face feels like a sledgehammer to his chest. There's so much pain and anger and hardness in you. I don't think I could survive half of what you've lived through. And yet, you're still so bloody bright.

You're stronger than I am, Charles. I wouldn't have asked for this if I didn't believe that.

They stare at each other for a long moment, breaths slowing while the heat between them ratchets up. Charles shuffles a little to the side and pulls out a tube from the bedside table drawer. Erik sees his own fingers come up, feels Charles press a gentle kiss to the tip of two before sliding them into his mouth. The slithering wetness of Charles' tongue slides obscenely between his fingers. It's amazing, really, how much much more each sensation is when there are no distractions. Lightly wet, Charles liberally coats Erik's fingers with lube.

Erik appreciates the smoothness of Charles' skin as his hand glides down his friend's body. It is hottest between Charles' legs, and Erik learns from the movements of his own limbs that Charles likes a bit of teasing around the rim.

When he finally pushes in, one finger first, the tight heat is thoroughly distracting. There's always so much to think about during sex: the other person's reaction, what to do next, the most efficient way to get to the climax. It seems positively hedonistic to sit back and just revel in it, let the pleasure happen to him without the slightest twitch of control. There’s so much to feel. The slow drag of skin. The sounds coming from Charles, stuttering breath and silken gasps. The smell of sex saturating the air.

He's so focused on the sensory input that it takes him completely by surprise when his prick is suddenly encased in molten, quivering tightness. He blinks and realizes, oh God,, that delicious friction and pressure is Charles' body, he is inside Charles, sinking in deep. Erik detects the smoothness of a condom making it easier, but the man is so tight, and maybe Charles is also holding back his orgasm because when Erik rolls his eyeballs down and sees Charles impaled on his not-inconsiderable length, it would have been game over for him if he'd been in control.

"Erik, oh God, Erik," groans Charles, voice cracking. Erik barely hears it over the flood of thoughts, yes fuck me wanted you inside feels so good fuck so big Erik can feel you fucking me move damn you movemovemove, both of them moaning together until they're indistinguishable to themselves. Erik's body starts moving, pulling back slowly and pushing in again, out and in. After the first surge of pleasure, it gets easier to take account of other things, like the weight of Charles' leg on one shoulder, Charles' slack-jawed face under him bracketed by Erik's large hands. Erik revels in the wide-eyed wonder in Charles' eyes, the pleasure lashing through every thought.

Then Charles' control slips a little, or maybe it gets better, because Erik starts getting impressions of Charles' end of things.

Like a maddening feedback loop. Erik fucking into Charles and feeling his own dick sliding inside and Charles is feeling both and fucking himself. Erik loses sense of where he ends and Charles begins, lets the mounting pleasure and heat crash over him. Beneath it all he feels Charles' exultation, the unique joy of getting to use one's powers, sweet relief like stretching a limb long restrained. Gratitude shines bright as polished metal, glittering back and forth between them.

Erik can feel every sharp snap of his hips, can feel his body pounding into Charles, can feel the pleasure Charles is taking from him only to feed it back. He can feel all of it, and never once had he needed to think about anything else, not even his powers. He doesn't remember ever doing anything before without the constant thoughts of revenge, plans, suspicion, motives, environment, keeping anger and pain close in case he needs his powers.

He's never been this free.

Charles lets out a hoarse shout, body bowing and blunt nails drawing shocking lines down Charles' back. He releases Erik the heartbeat after, and Erik's first gasp under his own power is Charles' name. The spasms of Charles' muscles around his cock carry him to the edge, and then Charles pulls him down for a messy, dirty kiss and Erik is coming, buried deep inside Charles and hard enough his legs give out. Charles lets out a grunt at having Erik fall on top of him, but he doesn't push Erik away.

Erik hears, distantly, the dull thunk thunk thunk of objects hitting the carpet. And possibly the delicate tinkle of something breaking.

A quick trip to the bathroom and another glass of Scotch each, and they slip under the covers. Erik is not used to his partners staying for long after the sex, but they're simply lying close together, and it doesn't feel much different from sitting next to each other on the couch or standing together observing the children.

“One day, we may be enemies,” says Charles. Erik makes a distressed noise, fucking honesty, but Charles continues, “Even then, I will not regret this. Because I can’t think of anyone better than you and I guarding each other's fears.”

Maybe one day, responds Erik, We will turn on ourselves. I will remake the world, he visualizes the metal that civilization has been built on, the magnetic field structuring the earth, and you will remake our lives, everything wiped clean and new.

Charles shakes his head lightly, but he’s smiling. “I love you, too.”

++ end ++