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The Art of Training

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"We haven't worked out a training regimen for you yet," Erik remarks at breakfast, giving Charles a look over the rim of his coffee cup.

Charles’s fork stutters to a stop mid-air. "I—" The incredulity on his face is endearing.

"Not that you need it, of course," Erik says, with a smile. He doesn't have to be a telepath to know that Charles is thinking this very same thing. "But I'm sure you'll want to set an example."

“Of course,” Charles readily agrees. “But how—“

"This afternoon. Leave the details to me." He tosses his napkin onto the table, gets up from his seat and rounds the table. “I’ll send for you when I’m ready.” He lays a hand on Charles’s shoulder. There’s still a lurch in his chest, even after all these weeks, that he’s allowed to do this.

Charles curls his hand around Erik’s wrist, a possessiveness in the gesture that Erik would not tolerate from anyone else, but craves from Charles. Charles’s fingers press against the veins beneath the thin skin, right where Erik’s pulse beats, and it feels like Charles is being carried through him on the tide of his blood. The sense of his presence grows stronger, gentle pressure pushing against Erik’s thoughts. This has felt like sex since that first moment in the water.

Erik’s mouth curves up softly. “It will defeat the purpose if you know what’s coming. No using your powers on anyone until the test.”

Charles reluctantly withdraws from Erik’s thoughts, but his gaze doesn’t leave Erik for a second, his blue eyes bright and sharp and curious.

Erik leans down to kiss him, playfully, on the corner of his mouth, just to see him smile. The fact that he cares about another person’s happiness is another continuing revelation.


The preparations take the better part of the morning. The others are amused by the idea of testing the professor and eager to do their part for the effort, snickering when they’re sworn to secrecy. Sometimes it feels to Erik as if he and Charles have compressed a lifetime into a series of weeks: becoming lovers, marrying, settling down to raise a family. These are most certainly children they’re trying to turn into soldiers.

Raven is the only one with any skepticism about Erik’s scheme. “I don’t see how this is going to challenge him. He already knows how to do all the stuff you’re planning.”

“He’ll have to do the tasks while being distracted. That’s the test.”

“What kind of distraction?”

Erik’s only answer is a smirk.

Raven rolls her eyes. “Just don’t break him.”

Erik sends for Charles once everything is ready. When Charles appears, he raises an eyebrow that Erik has requested his presence in their bedroom.

Technically, it’s Charles’s bedroom. For appearances sake, Erik has his own room down the hall, not that this fools anyone. Erik has slept here beside Charles every night since they came to the mansion. In fact, it was not that many hours ago that he had Charles naked and under him, legs spread, begging to be fucked. Erik obliged of course, eventually, after he'd put his hands all over Charles's skin, his palms buzzing, as if he could feel, maybe even stir, the very atoms of the trace metals in Charles’s body.

“Get on the bed,” Erik tells him, brusque, an order.

It is not Charles’s nature to obey; it is his habit to ask endless questions. So Erik understands what it means that Charles goes to sit on the edge of the bed without a single comment, without needing to be told twice: I trust you and also The fact that I can’t reliably predict what you might do is unbearably arousing to me.

Being a perennial wild card, Erik understands, makes him the perfect match for a man like Charles, a man who prides himself on knowing everything.

“What now?” Charles looks up at him earnestly, eyes wide, his pretty mouth softly parted in anticipation.

He’s eager to discover something new, to be amazed. Perhaps this is why he’s the perfect match for Erik. Perhaps the only antidote for rage and pain is this never-ending capacity for wonder.

Erik kneels in front of him, determined to take him somewhere he’s never been before. He hears the sharp intake of Charles’s breath as Erik gets a hand on his belt. Erik can feel Charles's cock, hot and rising against his palm, already so eager.

"What are you doing?" Charles tries to sound controlled, but Erik knows him so well already. He hears that slight catch in his voice.

"I’m training you." Erik yanks Charles’s trousers and pants down his legs, pulls his socks and shoes off.

“Exactly what will I be qualified for once you’re done with me?” Charles leans back on his elbows, amused.

Erik runs a hand up Charles’s bare thigh, trailing kisses in his palm’s wake, watching Charles’s reaction. He’s hungry for it, his pupils already blown, only a sliver of blue around them. He slides his hands into Erik’s hair, stroking, begging with trembling fingers. All it ever takes to make Charles come the first time is a few pulls of Erik’s hand or the soft, wet touch of his tongue. Take the edge off, and Charles is ready for anything. Erik can never decide if Charles just hasn’t been touched enough, too busy with his studies and discoveries, or if no one has ever touched him the way Erik does. Either way, Erik loves that he can unravel Charles, make him lose himself so wildly, so beautifully.

Today, though, the lesson will be about keeping control.

Erik contemplates Charles, his heaving chest, the precum pearling at the tip of his cock. “We’ll need an aid for this test, I think.” He glances around the room and finds something that will do, presses a kiss to Charles’s knee and gets up to fetch the spoon from the teacup abandoned on Charles’s bedside table.

Charles’s eyes widen at whatever he’s imagining Erik means to do with the spoon and then become huge when Erik bends into a makeshift ring fitted snugly around the base of his cock.

“Oh.” It comes out startled and approving; Charles’s cock gets harder.

Erik returns to his knees. “Are you ready to go on a scavenger hunt? You have four objects to identify., one each from Hank, Alex, Sean and Raven. They’ll either know what the object is or how to find it. When you’ve identified all four, I’ll let you come. Clear?”

Charles wets his lips. “That’s it?” He sounds smug. He doesn’t even put his fingers to his temple to concentrate. “Hank is in the armory. He’s thinking of—“ The rest is lost in a gasp as Erik presses wet, open-mouthed kisses to Charles’s cock. “What—“

It’s a test, remember? Don’t let yourself become distracted., Erik thinks at him. And no cheating, no stealing the answers out of my head.

“I wasn’t going to cheat,” Charles says indignantly. “The first object is—“ Erik licks at the vein along Charles’s shaft. “You are really bloody distracting, you know that?” He glares down at Erik.

Erik smiles as he mouths around the cock head, teases the foreskin with his tongue.

“My father’s Yoshihiro sword, that’s the first thing. Christ.” His thighs are beginning to shake. He sucks in a breath, does his best to collect himself. "All right, Alex next. Alex is in—“

Erik hums, and Charles jerks like he's been shot through with electrical current; it always drives him crazy when Erik does that. He makes helpless noises, his hands grappling, sliding on Erik's shoulders. Erik tightens the cock ring just a bit more and sucks Charles even harder.

"God." Charles squeezes his eyes shut. "Alex is in the kitchen. The second object is—roast beef sandwich? Three-layer chocolate cake? Wonderful. He's hungry. Stop thinking about food!" Charles yells as if Alex can hear him. "The object is on the counter. It's—not the sugar canister—the teapot!"

A fine sheen of perspiration has broken out across his forehead. Erik tongues at the slit of his cock to make him sweat harder.

"Sean's in the library," Charles blurts out, voice strained. "He—doesn't know what the object is." His forehead furrows as he concentrates, no doubt peering out of Sean's eyes, searching the room. His face brightens when he spots the book open on the desk. "Ah, Sun Tzu."

They'd spent an entire evening arguing the finer points of The Art of War.

"I still contend—" Charles's breath comes hard and labored. A flush has spread across his chest. "Don't have to become your enemy to know—"Erik rubs at his hole, and Charles loses his train of thought entirely.

Raven, Erik thinks at him. Last one.

"She's—conservatory." Charles's voice shakes. He's so far beyond desperate there may not even be a word to describe it. "Doesn't know what—it's outside."

He swallows hard, hands curled into fists, gripping at the bedclothes, his body trembling with the effort to focus, to slip into Raven and take control of her.

Erik had asked her permission before assigning her this role. Charles could be cavalier about using his abilities, but Erik knew how it felt to be someone else’s pawn, powerless even over his own skin.

She'd agreed, although not before smirking at him. "I know why I'm the one you're asking to do this, and it's not because Charles and I are practically brother and sister. You just don't like the idea of him being inside another man."

She hadn't been wrong, not that Erik had admitted it, of course.

He takes Charles’s cock into his throat, a preemptive strike against anyone else who might dare want to touch what’s his, fending off imaginary rivals with as much pleasure as he can supply.

“Oh, God.” Charles’s voice has grown thin and weak. “The path by the lake—that’s what you told Raven.” He narrows his eyes to slits, trying to hang on as he guides Raven. “The gazebo. It’s in the gazebo!”

Erik imagines what Charles is seeing through Raven’s eyes: the white-washed timbers, the delicate lattice work, the view of trees and the horizon beyond. He knows the precise second when Charles realizes what the last object is, Charles’s expression taking a tender turn. There’s an old two-seater swing at the far end of the gazebo with a misshapen dent in it. Charles had fucked Erik there the first night they’d spent at the mansion, whispering in his ear about the things they would do together, the men they would become. Erik had gripped the back of the swing, too lost to realize that he was melting and warping the metal in his ecstasy. Afterward, he’d left it as it was, a memento, a symbol.

Nothing will ever be controlled between us.

The cock ring snaps off with a flicker of intention, flying across the room. Charles is wild-eyed and babbling Erik and please. Erik sucks him deep, hard, pushes a finger inside him. Charles comes so violently it’s surprises Erik that the earth doesn’t tilt off its axis.

For a long while, the only sound in the room is Charles’s harsh breathing. Erik rests his cheek against Charles’s thigh. He’s hard and arching, but the desperation feels right. He’s content to wait. It’s Charles who grows impatient, who pulls Erik up onto the bed once he’s recovered his senses. He kisses Erik frantically, slides his hand down Erik’s trousers. Erik rests his forehead against Charles’s shoulder, and it only takes a few pulls of Charles’s hand—his grip firm, his touch skilled in what Erik likes best—before Erik is squeezing his eyes tightly shut and making a mess of his trousers.

They lay sprawled together afterward, spent and too languorous to speak. Charles’s shirt is soaked through with sweat from his exertions, and Erik breathes him in, the solid, reassuring scent of him.

“I’ll be well prepared if anyone ever employs sex as a defense against my abilities," Charles remarks at last, dryly amused. "Although I should probably continue to practice." He turns to look at Erik. There’s already renewed hunger stirring in his expression. "It's important to set an example."

"Sun Tzu would say it’s the only way to lead." Erik kisses Charles, smiling.

He's certainly ready to devote himself to Charles's training regimen.