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The countryside rushes past the outside of the train, green and gold a characterless blur of farmland. Beside him, Charles has been silent for most of the journey, hours passing without a single word. It surprises Erik how comfortable he feels with that; there's no push to find a topic of conversation. He leaves Charles with his thoughts, deep as they are.

Finally stirring beside him, Charles turns his body towards Erik with controlled determination. "Erik, I ought to warn you of something before we reach New York," he says. "It's been a long time since I've been in a city this big. Oxford hardly compares."

Erik's face moves, unable to pick an expression. His mouth half-curves into a smile. "Are you worried you'll get lost?"

"In a way," Charles says. His wide blue eyes are all too sincere. It would be impossible to look away. "My control over my ability may be tested - so many people, so many thoughts. Keeping them all out... It's difficult."

Erik's difficulty has always been with limitations; he always wants more of it, not less. "What might happen?"

Charles holds his hand between them, two fingers extended. "May I?" he asks, not putting the rest of his request into words. The carriage around them is busy, not a single empty seat nearby. Too many unevolved people; too much risk.

When Erik nods, he feels the warmth of Charles's fingertips against his temple, and then the bright onslaught of a memory that isn't his own; a teenager falling to his knees in the centre of the hotel lobby, sound and emotions and thoughts and images assaulting his mind. It's impossible to escape, too loud, too much; god, is there no happiness in this city? He places his hands against his forehead, nails digging into the skin, his eyes screwed shut, his throat raw from shouting, but nothing helps, nothing can drown it out. His mother's hands claw at his arms, trying to yank him back to his feet. "Charles, please, you're causing a scene," she hisses at him between clenched teeth, her cheeks flaming in embarrassment, but he can hardly hear her spoken words, overwhelmed by her desire to leave him there, to turn her back and pretend he isn't hers.

Charles pulls his fingers back from Erik's temple, placing his hands back in his lap. Erik's heart races as if he's been running for miles; a phantom ache throbs in his head. "I've taken cares to avoid over-populated areas since then," Charles says. Erik can hardly focus on what is being said; his mind feels cracked open. "I've had a few trips to London, but I've never stayed for very long. People stack on top of people; the Empire State Building alone has over one hundred floors. That's a lot of thoughts."

Erik wants to ask him how he managed to cope; just that glimpse, a single shared memory, has left him flustered and unsettled - and, day to day, Charles is polite and enthusiastic, and far calmer than Erik could imagine.

"What should I do?" he asks instead. Practicalities are more important than ponderings. "If this happens, how do I stop it?"

Charles's eyes slip away from him, and the creases in his brow tighten. Erik is struck with the desire to reach out and soothe them away, to run his thumb along the tense space between Charles's eyebrows and stroke until he melts like liquid metal into his hands. The desire causes a frown of his own; it's been a long time since he's felt anything like that.

Charles doesn't seem to have an answer for him, worrying his bottom lip instead.

"I'll rephrase," Erik suggests. "How did it stop last time?"

Charles shakes his head. "It didn't," he says. "I was in hospital for a week, screaming. When they transferred me out of the city, closer to home, the voices faded."

Erik can see the click as his jaw clenches; for all his air of easy openness, sharing his own weaknesses and failures is a tricky thing for Charles Xavier. It's plain to any observer. Wrapped in layers of self-confidence and arrogance, it's a wicked thing to have to pierce it yourself.

"You'll have to learn to control it this time," he says. They can't afford to have their mission pushed back. Control is important; over a power like Charles's, it's especially so.

More than that, however, Erik doesn't think he could stand to watch Charles in such pain. The memory that has been shared with him is like a jagged rock in his brain, ripping everything around it. He has suffered a thousand hurts of his own and he has inflicted a thousand more onto others. Watching Charles, his brilliant and naive saviour, fall apart in front of him might just be too much to take.


The first few hours in the city are a scattered mesh of travel, running into metaphorical roadblock after roadblock: people who have moved on since Charles located them, who remain blank-faced and purposefully unresponsive in the face of shared demonstrations of powers, who tell them they're not interested in being discovered. It's disheartening - but just meeting them, seeing them, sensing them, it's enough to make Erik feel alive: connected.

(you are not alone)

He steals glance after glance in Charles's direction, but all that greets him is pale skin and pink lips, always curled into a smile after every encounter.

"It's amazing," Charles enthuses, as they leave a bar after narrowly avoiding a fist to the face. He laughs helplessly, and his hand clings to Erik's arm. The contact roars like a siren in Erik's mind. "There are so many of us out there, Erik."

Erik can't help but smile indulgently, a warm glow surrounding him, emanating from the centre of his chest. He doesn't recognise the feeling but refuses to examine it too closely. Instead, he places his hand on Charles's elbow and guides him in the direction of the nearest subway station. "Time to get some sleep," he suggests. "You're swaying on your feet."

With a confused mumble, Charles looks down to the pavement. It doesn't seem to provide any answers. "I'm not tired."

"You haven't slept since we left." Erik feels like a mother-hen, clucking relentlessly. "How do you feel?"

Charles shakes his head. Erik prods again. "I'll take a pain-killer when we reach the hotel," he promises.

Pills and drugs and self-medication. They've been in the city for less than six hours.


"We can afford two rooms," Charles had said affectionately as they checked in, receiving only one key. "It's on the government's tab regardless."

"It'll be safer if we stick together," Erik had insisted, as if he thought that Shaw might be lurking around every corner. It's not Shaw that he fears tonight.

When he wakes to the sound of a pained grunt, he knows that he has been right. The room is still dark, but after a moment his eyes can adjust and make use of what little light there is. On the bedside cabinet, an alarm clock ticks menacingly.

He can see a clumsy lump on the opposite twin bed, Charles curled to take as little space as possible. It makes him look obscenely small and ridiculously fragile for a man who could rip their minds to pieces. His body shivers.

"Charles," Erik whispers across the room. No response comes back to him. "Charles," he says again, louder this time, but Charles still won't stir.

Erik waits for a moment, until he hears a sharp intake of breath. It sounds like he's been punched. Wetting his bottom lip with his tongue, he pushes back the covers of his bed and pads across the cold room on bare feet.

He says Charles's name again when he reaches him, but he wavers as he says it. Charles's eyes are wide open, he can see now that he's closer. He is staring ahead at the wall, eyes wide, and his mouth moves, forming words he doesn't say.

His hands are pressed against his forehead, fingers hooked into claws. There are deep indents where his nails dig into the skin, and a glimmer on his cheeks let Erik know that he's been crying.

It makes his stomach turn, and his heart race at the sight of him - because Erik can't expect this from Charles. This is the man who jumped into the freezing ocean to rescue him, who wrapped his arms around his torso and promised him everything.

His arms are as stiff as untamed metal as Eric pulls them down from his face, resisting hard against him even if Charles never blinks once. His mouth continues to move, forming words with no sound.

"Charles, snap out of it," Erik says - worry giving way to annoyance, fear to anger, it's more familiar that way. "Pull yourself together."

Charles seems to turn his head and push his cheek firmly against his pillow. With an irritated grunt, Erik strains against Charles's arms to lever him over onto his back.

"Please, don't leave me," Charles whispers, blank without emotion. "Remember the milk."

"These aren't your thoughts," Erik reminds him, his hands fitting around Charles's wrists like handcuffs as he fights to hold him back. "You can block them out: do it."

"How do sharks sleep?" Charles murmurs. "I'm already late."

"Damn it, Charles." Erik hoists himself onto the bed, yanking Charles around to pin him on his back. He stares straight ahead at the ceiling, still talking nonsense to himself.

"Oh god," he breaks. "Please, just kill me. I don't want to live like this."

They're not his words, Erik reminds himself, but the sound of them makes his hands tighten around Charles's wrists. He leans down and places their foreheads together, hoping the contact will help as he thinks as loudly as he possibly can. He doesn't know what it means to think 'loudly': he imagines capital letters and neon signs, as eye-catching and ear-breaking as possible.


Beneath him, Charles gives a single snort of shuffling laughter. The tension in his arms fades; he stops fighting Erik.

Erik slowly rises from Charles, reluctant to break contact in case it starts again. Yet Charles's eyes have closed now, and he rolls back onto his side as soon as Erik releases him, as peaceful as a sleeping babe. Erik reaches out to brush the hair from his forehead, and pulls the tossed blankets over his body before he retreats back to his own side of the room, too shaken to get back to sleep.

It takes a particular kind of stubbornness to ignore the erection nestled in his underwear, hard from the memory of Charles trapped beneath him. With a clenched jaw, Erik manages to pretend it isn't there at all.


"Erik, stop fussing," Charles pleads over breakfast. "I had a minor mishap in my sleep. Compared to a week-long screaming fit, I think I'm doing reasonably well."

Erik has just witnessed him knocking back twice the recommended dose of pain-killers, but he holds his tongue on that front. "I am not fussing," he protests, however. That is simply untrue, and if Charles dares to repeat the accusation in front of anyone else Erik will make sure he pays for it.

The amused smirk in the twist of Charles's mouth makes it incredibly difficult to remain as cranky as he would like to. He is surviving on half a night's sleep thanks to Charles's antics; by all rights, he ought to be ripping the man's head off.

By the afternoon, they have discovered another mutant, a little girl whose ability causes flowers to bloom after every step. She is far too young to come with them, but Charles kneels at her level and speaks to her with such hope on his face that Erik aches to see it.

"There are hundred of us out there, sweetheart," Charles says. "When you're older, if you'd like, you can come to meet them all."

She looks down at the ground, drawing a circle with her finger in the mud; daisies bloom to life. "Are they like me?"

"Not exactly like you," Charles concedes, "But they're all special too."

She smiles at him, as bright as the sun, as if no one has ever told her that before. It's almost impossible to leave her behind.

When they leave her it is long past midday, and they have to grab lunch on the move. "It's going to be so different for them," Charles says in determination as they walk side-by-side, sandwiches in hand. "They won't have to be alone; they'll know that there are more out there, so many brothers and sisters waiting for them."

Even with Raven at his side, Erik imagines that childhood must have been a lonely experience for Charles. Nothing compares to the horrors in Erik's own memories, but enough - enough that, for both of them, changing the world is a goal worth aiming for.

Charles halts for a moment, his steps faltering. Erik is slightly ahead of him before he even notices; he looks back, and the smile on his face drops when he sees the look on Charles's face, faraway and absorbed.

"Charles," he growls - the splash of emotion over him is alarmingly like panic. He strides back towards Charles while the stupid crowd floods around them, pedestrians in suits all determined to get to their destinations. So foolish of him to bring Charles out here.

He reaches Charles and places his hands on his upper arms, giving him a small shake. "We don't have time for this."

"Philip is going to kill me for this," Charles murmurs.

Erik digs his fingernails into his arms through the thin material of his shirt. Charles's face twitches, and his eyes blink - he refocuses. "Erik," he murmurs. "I don't know if I can keep this up."

They have another two mutants on the list that they were hoping to contact today, but Erik dismisses the idea out of hand. They'll wait; even Shaw will wait.

Forgetting their lunch, forgetting everything but Charles, he doesn't let go of his arms as he begins to walk again. Charles lurches beside him, frowning in deep concentration. Erik can't imagine the difficulty he must be having; he tries to think of what it would be like to try to switch off his own hearing, the nearest parallel he can think of.

He finds a new hotel for them nearby, deciding that their other room is too far away. The receptionist's eyebrows rise in surprise at the sight of Charles, but she doesn't question it. Good girl.

"I can walk," Charles protests when Erik tries to help him up the stairs. "The problem lies in my mind, not my legs."

Erik refuses to back off, however. At this point, he's not sure if he could. It feels as if there is barbed wire wrapped around his chest, spiking with every breath; he hasn't felt this distressed since he was underwater, dragged along by a submarine he didn't have the power to stop.

Charles had saved him then; it would be selfish to expect the same treatment when it is now Charles who needs help.

He releases Charles in order to unlock the door. The quality of their rooms here is far below what the government would have provided. With curtains that look at least fifty years old, and a bed that no doubt contains a wealth of stains that a crime lab would be interested in, it's a far cry from the comfortable luxury that Charles is no doubt used to.

Yet that doesn't seem to stop him from slipping past Erik and dropping onto the bed immediately, toeing off his shoes once he gets there. "I'll lie down," he says. "It seems to be quieter here anyway: less crowded."

Within minutes he's asleep. With only one bed in the room, Erik takes a seat instead, his eyes glued on his resting companion. A low burn of exhaustion itches at his eyes, fuelled by his previous sleep-deprived night, but he fights against it; in his life, he has gone far longer without a safe place to rest his head.

The sound of Charles's breaths, slow and heavy, is a soothing soundtrack. Even if Erik won't sleep, he rests. His eyes remain open but his mind goes blank, and his body slackens into the uncomfortable wicker chair.


He wakes up with a painful crick in his neck and a numb arse from the stupid chair. Outside the window, night has fallen and the streetlamps have flicked on. Erik hardly notices.

In front of the glass, Charles is on his feet once more, his back facing Erik. His weight shifts from side to side, swaying, and even from across the room Erik can hear his angry whispers.

"Gonna kill her, the cunt, gonna rip her cheating tits off," Charles mutters. It's hardly his voice at all. "Bitch, that bitch, I'll slice her throat."

His shoulders are rounded, his body hunched over by the streetlight, and the words won't stop - threats and insults and curses that aren't his, that don't belong in that gentle mouth. Erik crosses the room; in a lifetime of hunting for revenge, he doesn't think he's ever moved this fast.

Charles's hands cover his face, while his nails dig deep gouges into his forehead. Erik can see drops of blood beading around his fingernails, welling up as he digs in deeper. The pain isn't enough to make any of it stop.

He shouts Charles's name, practically into his ear, and reaches around him to grab hold of his hands. Charles struggles with him as he pulls them down from his face, more powerful than his small frame suggests.

Erik grunts with effort and holds Charles firmly against his chest, hanging over his body like a human straight-jacket. "Charles, please. You can overcome this. Calm your mind, remember?" he murmurs into his ear, having to fight the urge to close his eyes and bury his face against the burning skin of Charles's neck. He wants to breathe in the scent of him and hide there forever.

"Deserves it," Charles whispers. "She deserves everything that's coming to her."

"Charles." Erik's hands close around Charles's wrists, crushingly tight. He's going to hurt him; he's going to leave bruises like handcuffs, great ugly rings that won't allow Charles to forget what's happened here. "We're going to leave. I don't care about the other mutants; we'll find them elsewhere."

Other places, smaller places, have mutants waiting for them as well. The ones here in New York City can wait. Charles is more important than that, more important than anything.

In his arms, Charles stills and stops thrashing against his hold. Erik won't release him, but they breathe together, deep and steady rushes of air. Charles's body fits so neatly here, cocooned against him. The heat of him bleeds into Erik through his clothes. Erik's cock, traitorously hard, nestles against Charles's rear, large enough to be unmistakable. Erik can only hope that Charles has too much else on his mind to worry about it.

"Charles, how do you feel?" he asks, breathing the words into the soft skin behind Charles's ear. This close, it is a fight to restrain himself from flicking his tongue out to taste and tease every inch he can reach.

Resting against him now, Charles groans. "Do it," he says, half-turning his head. "Erik."

Erik has never heard a tone like that in his voice before, so openly pleading, so pleasantly weak and lost. It makes him feel like a pervert, the way that he enjoys it. "We should leave," he says, barely able to speak above a whisper. He can't stop looking at Charles, and he certainly can't let go of him. "Before you lose control again. We can be out of the city within the hour."

"Erik, don't ignore me," Charles chides with a dazed smile. "I'm in your mind."

"It might be polite to get out," Erik suggests, every word stiff and stilted.

Charles pushes back against him, wriggling in Erik's tight grasp, until his hips roll against Erik's cock, the perfect friction to make him choke. He needs to let go of Charles; he needs to back away and leave the room and runrunrun until Charles is nothing but a wounded memory.

"You're not yourself." The thoughts of a thousand different people have invaded his mind. Any single one of them might be making him act like this - it's not really Charles rubbing against him, not really Charles whose breaths come in short, steady pants. That doesn't stop Erik's cock from reacting, twitching wickedly in his pants with the urgent need to surge forward. "You're not thinking clearly."

Charles closes his eyes and rests against him. "My mind is perfectly clear," he protests. "It's loud in here, but you're a welcome distraction."

There are gouges on Charles's forehead, blood beading to form scabs. Erik doesn't want to think about what he had been trying to do, clawing at his head like that.

Charles rubs against him again, the perfect seduction as he grinds back into Erik, filthy in a way that Erik could never have thought of - so uptight on the surface, even if his mind is open to every sinful fantasy that might pass through a stranger's mind.

Charles closes the distance between their lips when it becomes clear that Erik can't allow himself to do so. The brush of his mouth feels like a request; there's nothing there but the tickle of contact and the warmth of breath. There and gone again before Erik can appreciate it. His fingers move on Charles's wrists until he can feel his pulse pounding against him.

"Can I do that again?" Charles asks, murmuring the words against Erik's stunned lips.

He nods mutely, unable to say anything at all. His eyelids dip as Charles presses against him again, for longer this time, wetter. Their lips move for a few bare seconds before Charles pulls away once more, forcing Erik to chase him. Erik's hold on him becomes stronger, trapping him in place, Charles's back against his chest, the angle awkward as their mouths meet - but Erik can't move, can't let him go, can't even debate it. His cell in his body is tingling in a way that he has never felt before. Beneath his lips, Charles is perfection.

He sucks on Charles's lower lip and relishes the sound that he makes when he moans. "Erik," Charles pants. "We need to -" He pauses to take a breath, a gasp that Erik can feel because he's so close. "The bed. We need to move."

"I could take you here," Erik says, emboldened by the way that Charles's pupils have blown, wide and black. "On your feet, in front of the window." Anyone could see. Anyone could look in and see what Charles does to him, see the way that he makes him lose the control he has spent decades honing.

"Or," Charles says, turning as much as Erik's grasp on his wrists will allow, "We can make it to the bed and do this properly."

Erik releases Charles's wrists for as long as it takes for him to turn around, but he quickly finds them again; he likes it, the illusion of having control over him - the pretence that Charles is as defenceless as he looks, as if he couldn't rip apart all of humanity from the inside out.

With a little smirk on his face, completely insufferable, Charles walks forward, forcing Erik to move with him until they hit the bed. Erik bends his knees and lowers himself down, while Charles continues. His lap fills with Charles, so warm and willing; it's impossible to remember that only moments ago Charles had been out of his mind, and Erik had been level-headed enough to resist.

Charles rocks down against him with an expert twist of his hips, more than enough to make Erik cry out, his eyes screwing shut. He needs this: needs him. Perhaps he has since the moment he heard his calming voice in his mind.

Charles breathes his name, his hips falling into a sweet, lazy rhythm - but it falters suddenly, his forehead falling against Erik's shoulder. He groans, and it isn't the good kind.

"Charles?" Erik asks. His breath comes in heavy pants, but he pushes aside his own desperate need for Charles to continue. "Are you here?"

"Bastard," Charles growls at him. "My arm. That fucker's broke my arm."

Erik forces himself to keep from shaking Charles bodily until he comes back. Instead, he gently shuffles them on the bed so that he can lay Charles down. Across the room, his power tugs on the metal spring in the light switch and the room's darkness disappears. He can see the scratches on Charles's forehead now - not as deep as he had feared, but they'll sting all the same.

Charles's eyes are wide and unseeing when Erik leans down to brush his lips over the centre of his forehead. He can feel the torn skin beneath his kiss, and knows that the contact won't be enough to heal it. Yet it makes Charles sigh, all of the energy being sapped from his body, and foreign thoughts stop invading his speech.

"Keep going," Charles urges. His hand moves onto Erik's hip, to squeeze it in encouragement. "I don't want you to stop."

"This is hardly a turn-on," Erik points out - although his cock might argue rather differently, hard as ever, ready to fuck.

"It's helping me," Charles insisted. Erik can't believe him, not after what he's witnessed, but the words are so tempting. He brushes his lips against the scratches once more; he wants to help, desperately. He wants to be someone that Charles needs, in the same way that he has found himself helplessly entangled in Charles. "Erik. I need you."

Lips spread open against Charles's temple, he groans at the sound of the words. Yes, god, that is exactly what he wants to hear; in his head, Charles must know that.

Charles's hand roams back onto Erik's ass, his fingers spread wide over his flesh through the tight confines of his trousers. With gentle pressure, he pulls Erik down against him, a long line of friction that leaves them both groaning.

"I'll let you fuck me," Charles promises in a whisper, the words vanishing into the air before Erik has time to savour them. "I want you to."

And he doesn't, he can't, good lord. The desires that pound through him are wrong and filthy and perverted - Charles is too good, too wide-eyed and naive to share them.

Beneath him, Charles chuckles and squeezes his arse again. "Do you take me for a virgin?" he asks. "I'm sorry to disappoint you."

His jaw clenches and Erik reaches for Charles's hands again, dragging them onto the pillow away from him and pinning them down. Their fingers entangle and Charles smiles as if he's got exactly what he wants; for all that Erik is one trapping him, he feels like the one that's trapped.

"Tell me, then," he insists. "How many men have you fucked?"

Charles looks up at him with a disturbing serenity in his eyes. "I can't say I've ever counted," he says. "Have you?"

"That's different." He won't explain why.

Charles smirks as if he knows the answer anyway, but he doesn't press the issue. Instead he pushes up against Erik, his body warm and wonderful beneath him. "Then it would appear that we are both reasonably seasoned at this," he says. "But if you'd like to pull away, I won't stop you."

Looking down at the fragile smugness of Charles's expression, what Erik wants to do is grab hold of the pillow beneath his head and slam it down upon his face. What he does instead is lean down and take his mouth, as roughly and thoroughly as he can, his tongue plunging into its heat with little preamble. Charles moans open beneath him, his fingers flexing in Erik's grasp.

With an absent-minded show of ability, the metal zip and buttons of Charles's trousers undo themselves and begin to peel the material down Charles's legs. Erik shifts to allow it, but he has to stop kissing Charles in order to look down between their bodies.

The evidence of Charles's desire for him is plain to see, his cock hard and red where it springs from a bed of curled hair. He exhales at the sight of it, bared before his eyes, and feels his mouth water. He has to kiss Charles again.

He releases Charles's hands in order to pull back and shed his clothes, rushing through the job of stripping; it hardly seems important any more, although the way that Charles stares at him as his bare skin is revealed makes it feel important. It makes him feel powerful and attractive, despite the scars that litter his skin like a weathered map of pain and hatred.

Charles begins to sit up, and his hand reaches out to touch the newly exposed skin. Erik catches hold of him before his fingertips touch him, holding him at bay. He eases Charles back down onto his back, and Charles allows it with a bemused smile on his face.

"You have quite a thing about control, you know," Charles comments.

He's wrong, of course. It's not about control at all. It's just about Charles.

Erik strips them both and kneels between Charles's legs, nudging his thighs apart and shoving a pillow at the small of his back to hold him up from the mattress. For all that Erik wants to take his time and be careful with him, it's impossible not to rush. It's only the determined speed of his movements that stops his hands from shaking.

He doesn't have what he needs to open Charles up for him, but they make do with saliva and generous amounts of attention. Around his fingers, Charles is hot and tight; just the thought of having that around him makes Erik want to come on the spot.

Charles groans his name and Erik looks back up to his face. Charles's pale skin is flushed dark pink, highlighted on his cheeks. His eyes are glazed over, but it's not the same empty blank stare that has so horrified Erik in the past twenty-four hours. No, this is far more beautiful than that; this is Charles pushed to mindless limits by the skill of Erik's fingers, this is a Charles who is purely physical.

"I need - " Charles gasps, but the sentence never ends. "God, Erik, I need..."

Images and pure sensation fill his mind, the feeling of himself embedded inside Charles as deep as he can get, the promise of how it will feel, the sense of how badly Charles needs it. It crashes over him like a wave; he can feel how easy it would be to drown in it.

He pushes his fingers against the rough spot inside Charles that makes him writhe and cry out, abusing it and watching him react before he pulls out. Charles sags against the mattress, sweat-stained already, and Erik can't take his eyes off of him as he spits into his own hand and slicks himself up. His cock twitches at the attention, pulsing in his hand, engorged with red-hot blood.

He can't find any words as he pushes Charles's legs against his chest and aligns himself with his entrance, the tip of his cock pushing with blunt pressure against his hole. He pushes inside, slow and gradual. The way that Charles's body clings to him and draws him in is nearly enough to make him climax immediately; he grits his teeth and uses every inch of self-restraint that he has.

It takes too long for him to be fully sheathed, with Charles surrounding him, chest-to-chest and face-to-face. Erik pushes down, bending Charles nearly in two as he finds his lips and sucks on them, his tongue sliding inside. He rocks gently, barely moving at all. It scares him, just how much he wants to protect this foolish, idiotic man: he wants to make him feel so good.

Charles's hands wander, down his flanks and towards his bare ass where his muscles tense and release with every shallow movement. Erik catches them once more before they reach their destination and pushes them back against the pillow. It makes Charles chuckle, although the sound is captured and killed as Erik thrusts a little harder than before.

Images fly through his mind, and the needy pulse for moreharderfaster; he doesn't know which of them it comes from but he's incapable of denying it, holding Charles down firmly as he takes him, claims him, fucks him. Friction burns against his cock, and his balls tingle with it. Beneath him, Charles moans and swears, out of control, and his hands strain against Erik's hold, fighting to be able to touch himself. Erik won't let go: he needs to be the one to make Charles come. It needs to be world-shattering.

He groans out Charles's name, knowing that he's right on the edge, his body beginning to tense, toes curling.

"There's nothing in the fridge," Charles murmurs, there and gone again.

Erik's hands clench on his wrists, nails digging moon-shaped crescents into his skin, but it's too late to stop him from spilling into the tight clasp of Charles's body, groaning in lapsed control as his hips stutter and jerk inside him. It leaves his vision swimming.

Over too quickly, Charles's cock is still hard against his stomach, leaking pre-cum, but his body is indifferent and his mind is gone. "Charles, this isn't a game," Erik says. His hand leaves Charles's wrist and touches his face, fingertips smoothing against his cheek.

"What am I supposed to do?" Charles whispers.

Erik lowers his head and kisses Charles's slack lips, brushing contact against them without pushing it too deep.

It takes too long, far too long, but in time he feels Charles pant for air and begin to respond to him. Charles's released hand snaps to the nape of Erik's neck, pulling him closer. Erik's cock is softening inside him, spent and flaccid, but he's hardly aware of it; all that matters is Charles, trapped beneath him.

He leaves their kiss and travels downwards instead, across the tight peaks of Charles's pink nipples until he reaches his erection. Charles looks down at him, his slim chest heaving for ragged breath, but his head falls down against the pillow when Erik takes the tip of his cock into his mouth without preamble.

Charles gradually becomes more and more incoherent as Erik works him, taking more of his shaft into his mouth, his tongue trailing along his red-hot flesh, but it's when his fingers slide underneath him that he truly comes apart. Erik presses inside his used hole, already puffy and abused, and he finds his own spunk inside, making the way slick and easy. Three fingers slide and stretch with no difficulty, and Charles pants meaningless syllables above him, begging while unable to form words.

He sucks hard and fucks Charles on his fingers until Charles finally tips over the edge, flooding Erik's mouth with salty semen. It leaks from the corners of his lips and he pulls back to spit the taste out onto bedsheets that have suffered from far worse in their time.

Charles yanks him upwards again, to kiss him until Erik forgets how to breathe. He knows that he tastes of Charles himself, that he is utterly stained by the man. It's never going to fade. He's always going to remember this, he's always going to feel it.

"I wouldn't want it any other way," Charles says, his hand resting at the back of Erik's head, his fingers carding through his hair.

Erik feels all of the energy draining from him, until he rolls off of Charles and back onto the mattress. A matter of shuffling is all it takes to get his head onto Charles's chest, Charles's heart thudding just below his ear, deafening in its comfort.

"How's that control coming?" he asks. His arm winds its way around Charles's waist while Charles's hand returns to his hair, stroking it softly.

"I am trying," Charles insists. Erik can't stop his mind from drifting back to that moment right before he came; losing Charles just when he's supposed to have him for good. He won't take it. He wants to track down the cretin that invaded his mind in that moment, that stole it from him, from them; he wants to rip them apart, slice by slice, drop by drop. "It's hardly their fault, Erik. They can't stop thinking any more than you can."

Erik frowns. "We're leaving tomorrow," he states.

He doesn't care about the other mutants on the list, waiting for them in this god-forsaken city; with Charles's heartbeat in his ear, for a moment he doesn't even care about his revenge or Shaw.

A moment, just a moment.

"I need to learn to control it," Charles states. "I can hardly be of use if I have to hide from cities, can I?"

"'Of use'," Erik sneers. It won't be the first time they've argued; with a worrying knot in his stomach, he doubts it will be the last. "Of who do you mean to be of use to, Charles?"

Charles is so blind, so naive that at times he wants to hold him down and force him to see the truth. He wants to open his eyes to humanity's true nature, and force him to accept that there is nothing gentle there; there is no acceptance.

"Let's not fight," Charles sighs without rising to the bait. His lips brush against Erik's temple. "You can't fuck me like that and then expect me to bicker with you. It's unfair."

Erik smiles, and the knot of worry loosens, just enough to let him breathe more easily. "At least now I know how to win an argument against you."

"Ah, the only way you ever could." Charles smiles with an amused arrogance that only he could ever make charming. "Cheating is far from respectful."

Erik spends the night smiling, while Charles drifts in and out of himself, always drawn away from foreign thoughts by the touch of Erik's lips or the brush of his hands. They remain wrapped together, persistent and relaxed, until the sun comes up, and another morning awaits.


The scratches on Charles's head don't take long to heal; they are ridiculous wounds. "My very own crown of thorns," Charles murmurs when he catches sight of his reflection.

Erik shoves his shoulder for that. "We can't have your ego getting any bigger," he says.

A telepath with a god complex. It's the last thing they need.

As the hours wear on and their journey continues, the gaps between Charles's lapses in control get longer. "You're getting better at it. Soon you'll be able to control it completely," Erik tells him as they sit beside each other on the subway.

"My foot itches," Charles murmurs, face slack, eyes gone. He twitches. "Can you believe she actually went out wearing that?"

Well, there's always progress to be made.

After making sure that no one is looking at them, Erik reaches out to take hold of Charles's hand, tangling their fingers and squeezing as tightly as he dares. Charles will come back to him with a genial smile and an abashed excuse; he always does.

He always will.