Being around Erik is like having a constant itch, something Charles desperately wants to scratch but just can't reach. It's not Erik's fault, not something Erik's even aware of; the man's been on his own for so long and focused on nothing but revenge for so many years that Charles suspects he treats it like any other physical requirement. When he's hungry, he eats; when he's tired, he sleeps; when he's hard upon waking up, he beats off in the shower.
It's the shower, almost always the shower--which Charles knows not because he's caved and listened in, but because that's when the low-level itch goes away for a few hours at a stretch. It's always when Erik's clean and a little flushed and damp from the hot water--when they're sitting down to breakfast, usually, or sometimes late at night once the others are all asleep.
And it isn't every day. Every three or four, maybe, sometimes less often even than that. As of today, which is a Thursday, it's been eight days, and Erik has gotten somewhat more prickly than usual. Being near him makes the back of Charles's neck itch, and unfortunately, Charles's cock is starting to get rather more sympathetic than is really called for.
He has tried dealing with it on his own, tried getting himself off when Erik's not taking care of his own sexual frustration. It does very little good; a few hours later, Erik's mild, unimportant, eminently ignorable distraction bleeds over, and Charles is stuck getting hard, again, and facing the choice of whether to court hair on his palms or just suffer through it stoically, the way Erik seems to.
"Ah, I see tomorrow's adventure will see us tracking down someone with the all-important power to bounce off hard surfaces," Erik says.
Charles looks up at him. "It's still a mutation."
"A very groovy mutation," Erik mimicks, shaking his head. "It's all well and good, Charles, but it isn't what you build an army on." He pushes a dossier away and leans back in his chair; he folds his hands over his chest, looks up at the ceiling. Charles closes his eyes and rubs his hand over his face. Does Erik even realize his body's asking for sex, he wonders, or is this another one of those weeks where the impulse simply hasn't gotten past the years of habit?
He can feel Erik's concern for him pushing the itch aside, though, and Charles focuses on that instead. It's an odd, tentative emotion, one Erik doesn't act on partly because he's uncertain how to go about doing it. Reach out and touch, make a joke, ask how he's feeling...?
Charles tilts his head up and looks back at Erik. "I'm exhausted," he says. "I think I might have a drink. Go to bed early. Get a fresh start in the morning."
Erik nods. "I might join you for that drink."
That isn't going to help, Charles thinks, but it's rare enough for Erik to reach out at all; he isn't going to rebuff him now. "All right. Come on."
Erik sets up the chessboard without actually asking Charles if he's interested in a game. When Charles nods, he can feel Erik's relief. Normalcy. Right. The same chess game they've been playing, night after night; the same glass of scotch for Charles, the same martini for Erik. Where the predictability of human nature has so often been a source of disappointment and betrayal, here the stability and safety of Charles's home and life are something else--comforting even while a part of Erik stays on edge, waiting for it to end.
Charles sighs and takes his seat across from Erik, makes the first move the way he almost always does, Staunton's classic English Opening. Erik's eyeroll is mental, but obvious enough Charles suspects he was meant to hear it. Erik counters with his king's knight's pawn, which always throws Charles off a bit, and for the next six moves he's struggling with his choices. By the time Erik sweeps in and takes Charles's second knight off the board, it's obvious which way the game is going, and Charles tips his king over with a light touch, shaking his head.
"You do have a tendency to stay in losing situations a bit too long," Erik comments.
"I don't like to give up on things." Erik eyes the king, lying on the chessboard, and Charles sighs. "But there does have to be some small amount of hope. Stay up if you like; I'll see you in the morning."
He rests his hand on Erik's shoulder as he passes by, squeezing gently, and if he were a less kind person, if he were completely unable to control himself, he'd give Erik a suggestion: get off before this kills me, please. Instead, he walks away, thinking loud rock-and-roll lyrics in his head, forcing himself not to listen in on anything Erik's thinking or not thinking, feeling or not feeling, doing or not doing.
It's just barely dawn when Charles wakes up, earlier than his usual. He's panting for it, hard enough to pound nails, and he rolls over on his stomach and gets his hand on his cock before he even opens his eyes.
The sharp spray of water on his back feels better than it usually does, and his hand is slick with soap today. It'll sting later, a little, but right now the tight, slippery strokes are a little too good to pass up. What's a little discomfort? He's been through worse.
He buries his face in his pillow and goes a little harder, needing more; he'd like to draw this out, but oh God, he's aching, and this is more than he expected it to be, not the perfunctory release he'd been expecting but something else entirely. His hand goes out in front of him, catches on the tile, and his hand comes up in front of him, propping himself up in bed, and--wait, shower, no, that's not him at all, that's Erik. Erik, warm with steam, hand slick, working his cock, finally finally finally getting off, Christ.
Erik. Oh, God. Charles groans and drops himself onto the bed, getting his hand off his cock. This is none of his business; he needs to back off, get out of Erik's head right now. And he will. In a minute. Just a minute. He's tired, it's first thing in the morning, he's not as good at this when he first wakes up as he is when he's completely conscious.
In the shower, Erik's frowning a little--something about this was better a few seconds ago, and now it's back to the usual, the typical quick strokes he's been using on himself since he discovered the motion in the first place. There was a brief moment when it was different, when the fuss everyone makes about sex actually seemed relevant, but now it's gone, and he shrugs his shoulders, wondering why they're tense all of a sudden. Usually this makes things better, not worse, but now his back's starting to kink up as if he's lying in bed, propping himself up on his elbows, shoulderblades pressed together tightly.
Charles grunts and rolls over; bad enough to be eavesdropping, he shouldn't be giving Erik a sore back while he's at it. He throws an arm across his face and does not, does not give in and touch himself; what he needs to be doing is getting out of Erik's head, leaving him some privacy before it's too late.
Still, now that the pressure in Erik's back is gone, Erik can actually relax and enjoy himself again. This really does seem to be taking an inordinately long time today, but in for a penny, in for a pound; it won't do him much good to stop here. He gets a little more soap and starts over.
Charles puts his other hand over his mouth and tries to stay quiet; he digs his teeth into the side of his hand, pressing his ass firmly into the mattress and trying not to move his lower body any more than that.
Ow--what...? Erik takes his hand away from his cock and eyes the side of it, rubbing at the odd, unexpected pain. Something out there is definitely trying to tell him there's no point today; he rubs his hand until the pain dissipates and turns back to the spray, rinsing off. He'll ache for a few hours, but it's nothing he hasn't dealt with before.
In bed, Charles curls onto his side and whimpers out loud. He gets a hand between his legs and jerks himself quickly, roughly, not even trying to be quiet or subtle now. He's too close, has needed this for too long, and even if Erik can't, even if Erik's going to be sore for a few hours and it'll all start over, he can't stop now, can't stop, too close, needs, God, yes, yes, yesyesyesyes...
Erik's hands go out in front of him, bracing himself against the shower wall, and he gasps through it, his fading erection back in full force and suddenly there, close, almost--
He has enough time to gasp out "what the hell" before he comes, not even touching himself, just braced against the shower wall with the water coming down on him. His whole body feels hot and loose, afterwards, and he ducks his head under the spray, swallowing up deep lungfuls of air and spitting out the water droplets that run into his mouth.
From there, Charles finally manages to disentangle himself; his brain feels fuzzy, thoughts all loose around the edges, but he pulls away from Erik and snuggles into his bed. The covers are a little stained, but he's done worse to them.
He owes Erik an apology, he knows, but--it's early enough, maybe he can pass it off as a somewhat invasive wet dream. Erik might believe that--especially if he really wants to believe it. It's mostly true. It's sort of true. It's a kind of truth, not entirely a lie.
In any event, he's not going to come up with a good explanation for it while he's lying here this way. It's too early for him to be up, and he can afford another hour or two of sleep. Now that Erik's gotten it out of his system, he might actually be able to sleep well. He scoots away from the wet spot and rolls over, letting himself fall into blissful, mindless unconsciousness.