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So many of their chess games end in quiet frustration—words that feel as though they've been sparring for years instead of a matter of weeks, arguments tracked over heavily worn ground. For all that he and Erik fit together almost as easy as breathing, there are certain gaps Charles can't figure out how to cross.

Charles has known Erik Lehnsherr for barely a month. He's been so deep in his mind, there are moments he feels he's known Erik forever.

He still hopes, naively perhaps, that the man can be swayed by reason—if Charles could simply find the right words…

"Checkmate," Erik murmurs, sliding his remaining bishop across three diagonal squares.

He doesn't acknowledge Charles's latest volley—about the humans, about their potential for just as much goodness as pain—and Erik's closed-off expression says the discussion is over. For now, at least.

Charles's eyes drop belatedly to the board, and yes. That's checkmate. He topples his king with a nudge, then raises his eyes again to Erik's face.

He sees a flash of something new—something besides the usual unwavering impasse. A dark intensity as Erik's stare focuses not on the chessboard, but on Charles. It's terrifying, and the urge Charles feels to touch his temple and search out an explanation is nearly overpowering.

But that would be cheating. It would be uninvited intrusion.

"What's wrong?" Charles asks aloud.

"Nothing," Erik answers. But the piercing intensity of his stare doesn't fade. If anything, it heightens, and Charles's skin feels suddenly too tight. Even without touching his fingers to his head—without the conscious focus the gesture so easily allows him—he senses a shift in the space between them. Something sharp, immediate, electric.

You're lying,' Charles almost says, then stands abruptly before he can give the words voice. Such a pointless accusation can't lead them anywhere good.

"Where are you going?" Erik asks.

"It's late," says Charles, already moving for the door. He's a coward, perhaps, retreating from his own study like this, but his hand is on the doorknob anyway. He turns it.

Nothing happens.


- — - — - — - — -

Erik's eyes haven't left Charles since checkmate—possibly longer—and he watches the tense line of his friend's back, knowing Charles must be able to feel the sharp, unflinching edge of his attention. Perhaps he can feel the muted hum of want that Erik usually keeps so carefully guarded.

Perhaps for once Erik doesn't care.

But the door has disobeyed Charles's hand, and Charles still isn't looking at him. The avoidance sets unexpected frustration loose in Erik's chest.

He knows he needs Charles. The human world is an avalanche closing in around them, speeding in from all sides, and if they can't stand together against the mounting threat then why is Erik even here?

But Erik's frustration stems from more than just the ideological gap that Charles refuses to cross, or from the naïve innocence that Erik wants simultaneously to guard and to crush.

The problem is that there's not enough time—there will never be enough time—and Erik can't remember ever wanting anything as desperately as he wants Charles Xavier.

He should release his hold on the locking mechanism and let the moment pass. It is late, and they've run enough circles around each other for one night. But Erik's eyes burn into Charles's compact frame, and he can't let go. He feels something snap, instead. Something sharp and greedy in his chest. And when he focuses his thoughts, there's nothing but instinct guiding him.

Erik isn't a telepath. He doesn't know how to send his thoughts directly into another mind, and he knows Charles isn't trying to read him. But he's seen the way Charles picks things up without trying sometimes. Strong emotions, pain, excitement—the press of other minds reaching him even when he's not trying to access them.

So Erik squares his shoulders and simply thinks. He conjures an image in his mind—a vivid fantasy he's indulged in a dozen times in the short span he's known Charles Xavier. Skin and sweat. A bed. Charles's back taut beneath him, Charles's eyes tightly shut and jaw slack in unguarded pleasure.

Erik thinks the scene as loudly as he can, until he feels like he's shouting in his own head—until Charles whirls on him with wide eyes, shock written across his face.

Charles's chest rises and falls in quick breaths, and a twinge of satisfaction sings beneath Erik's skin at the way those bright blue eyes have gone dark with… something.

"Why are you…?" Charles starts, then trails off, confusion coloring his expression. "How did you keep this from me? All the times I've been inside your mind… how did you stop me from seeing this?"

Erik smiles then, a tiny hint of genuine humor breaking through the intensity of his stare, and he says, "A magician never reveals his secrets."

There's no particular trick to it, though Erik doesn't plan on admitting as much to Charles. It's just a question of focus. Erik's mind is a rigid place, strict and organized and sharp. He's had to learn to keep it that way, the ugly past and determined present tucked away in careful boxes while he focuses on the future. Orderly and secure. It's the only way he knows to survive.

There's a time and a place for this kind of fantasy, and Erik has never indulged when there was any chance of Charles tuning in.

A somber thought clouds the image Erik has been holding in his mind, and he doesn't mean to ask, but the words are out before he can reconsider.

"Are you disgusted?"

Charles's surprised look narrows to something sharper. He finally takes his hand off the door—Erik releases his hold on the locking mechanism, though Charles doesn't seem inclined to try the knob again—and when Charles speaks, his voice is soft but resolved.

"No, I am not disgusted."

"What, then?" Erik asks, rising smoothly and moving away from the chessboard—towards Charles. "Angry?" he guesses. "Excited? Afraid, perhaps?" Erik doubts the last. Especially since, despite the wary look in Charles's eyes, he doesn't back away when Erik approaches.

Not that he'd have far to go. The door is bare inches behind him, and he must be aware of the limited space when Erik moves to stand too close. But Charles swallows, and stares up into Erik's eyes, stubbornly holding his ground—and that, more than anything, makes a boldness almost like hope settle in Erik's chest.

Charles doesn't respond to Erik's question—maybe he doesn't know the answer, or maybe Erik's proximity has derailed him—and Erik reaches for him now. He touches Charles's face, and almost smiles when Charles doesn't flinch from the contact. Erik's thumb traces a deliberate path over Charles's lower lip, and he feels a sharp intake of breath over his skin. He touches Charles's throat, too forceful to be a caress, too gentle to be a threat, and he can feel the chaotic speed of Charles's pulse.

"Your heart is racing," he observes. When Charles swallows again, Erik feels the movement beneath his fingers.

"Erik," Charles asks in a soft, uncertain voice. "What are you doing?"

"Can't you answer that question for yourself?"

Charles's face twists into a wry expression that lasts only an instant, but it's enough to convey his point. Of course he can't. Erik hasn't invited him in, and Charles would never deliberately intrude—submarines and extenuating circumstances aside.

"Tell me, Charles…," Erik murmurs, the first hints of a predatory smile twisting at the corner of his mouth. "Have you ever let a man touch you the way I intend to?"

"Yes," Charles breathes. It's barely more than a whisper.

From the wide flash of his eyes, Erik surmises the 'yes' is limited. He wonders how many times. Two? Three? Certainly no more than that. Charles is a ladies' man—or would be if he had a better pickup line—and the interest he exhibits towards women is hardly for show.

But there have been men, and something gritty and possessive surges through Erik at the thought of other hands on Charles Xavier. It takes him a moment to tamp the reaction down.

Suddenly he wonders what he's doing—what he's thinking. There's danger here. He has little enough control where Charles is concerned—he's still here, after all, and he's too self-aware to pretend it's only because he needs access to this army Charles is building.

He can't afford to lose himself in this man—this brilliant, innocent, powerful, foolish man.

"Tell me to leave," Erik whispers.

There's too long a pause before Charles responds.

"I don't think I can."


- — - — - — - — -

The words are barely out of Charles's mouth when Erik grabs him, reaching, dragging him close. The hand at Charles's throat slips to curl around the back of his neck, and Erik's lips are commanding heat, instant and immediate.

Charles gasps, surprised at the suddenness of it, the raw ferocity of the kiss.

He's not sure if he's moving to retreat, or if Erik is shoving him back, but Charles collides roughly with the door behind him. He breathes a startled sound at the impact—and again when Erik's tongue slips past his parted lips.

Erik's other hand is at the small of his back, slipping smoothly beneath the heavy fabric of Charles's sweater so that nothing but the thin shirt beneath separates skin from skin. The heat of that touch is distracting, more so when Erik uses the point of contact as leverage to press their bodies together.

Charles doesn't remember moving his hands, but they're grasping now, fisted in the front of Erik's shirt. He's holding on too tightly, and he parts his lips wider, inviting Erik deeper, letting his own tongue quest forward to tangle in the kiss. Erik groans a hungry sound, low and greedy, and surges against Charles, crushing him roughly against the door.

Charles's head spins, overwhelmed, and it's not just from the firm weight of Erik's body pressed all along his front.

The way Erik is touching him—the overwhelming rush of so much physical contact—is making it difficult to keep his mind from touching Erik's surface thoughts. Charles is inundated with impressions, with sensations that stutter and mirror the things his own body is feeling. And shimmering alongside the sensations come images. Fragments and glimpses of the things Erik wants to do to him, growing more solid in Charles's mind with each passing moment.

He sees himself twisting beneath Erik's body, all ragged breaths and shouts of ecstasy. He sees Erik's hands holding him down, pinning him to the floor—bruising him and fucking him and making him beg. He sees his own hands on Erik's thighs, his own knees red from rough carpet as his mouth stretches wide and full and Erik's fingers brush through his hair.

He sees Erik grab him and shove him against a wall, sees Erik's mouth close on his throat as Charles's head knocks back with a thump—

And then he falls back into his own head and Erik's mouth is at his throat, Erik's teeth and tongue worrying at a spot just above Charles's collarbone. It stings—the small, sharp pain must be what brought him back to the moment—and Charles cries out, panting and clinging to Erik even harder.

Erik doesn't back off—if anything he focuses even more fiercely on the flesh beneath his mouth. From Erik's mind, Charles feels a flare of possessiveness, and he knows he'll be wearing a vivid bruise come morning. He knows Erik would mark him up in more places than that if they didn't have so many people to answer to, and the thought makes Charles bite at his lower lip to try and stifle a groan.

The groan escapes him anyway, and he thinks that's a smile he feels Erik's mouth forming against his throat.

He's already so overwhelmed with sensations that when Erik's knee slips between his thighs, Charles shouts and bucks his hips helplessly forward. He probably would've cracked his head on the door if Erik's hand weren't there—protecting him, commanding him—and he can't process this. It's too much.

He doesn't mean to project, but he must do it anyway. He can tell from the way Erik goes suddenly still against him.

Erik's hands are still grasping him tightly, and his breath is ragged and warm over Charles's jaw. Erik's arousal presses a hard, unmistakable line of heat against Charles's thigh, and the fervor of need bleeding from his mind shivers desperate and fevered.

"Bed, I think," Erik husks, fingers tightening in Charles's hair. "Before I tear off your clothes and take you right here."

Charles can't help it. Despite the intensity of the moment, the spiking heat of arousal curling in his gut, the throb of the bruise Erik just sucked into his skin—

Despite all of it, Charles gasps a dry burst of laughter. The sound cuts short, and he shakes his head.

"What, here?" he asks, mouth twisted in a disbelieving smile as Erik draws back to look him in the eye. "Right against the door, would you?"

But Erik's face doesn't crack into a smile, and the hunger in his eyes twists deeper and sharper—and then Charles sees it, in Erik's mind, vividly painted, and the wind rushes out of him. The smile falls from his face and it takes him a moment to remember how to breathe.

"You're serious," he whispers.

The idea is terrifying and exhilarating all at once. There's a part of Charles that lights up and trembles at the thought of being claimed that way—of Erik simply lifting him off the floor, of Charles's legs wrapping around strong hips as Erik takes exactly what he wants.

The direction of his thoughts must show in his eyes, because Erik cocks his head to the side as though sizing him up—as though really considering the possibility—and Charles's heart stutters in his chest.

"Perhaps next time," Erik murmurs. His voice is low gravel, and Charles can't look away.


- — - — - — - — -

Charles's suite is closer, but Erik leads the way to his own room instead—one hand buried in his pocket, the other curled loosely around the back of Charles's neck in a gesture that could almost look casual.

Charles lets him guide the way, the simple touch anything but casual between them.

They meet no one in the wide-spanning hallway, and the second they're back behind closed doors Erik crowds in behind Charles. He inhales slowly, savoring the moment—savoring the stillness of Charles's body, taut with energy and intent.

"Last chance, Charles," Erik murmurs, lips deliberately brushing his ear with the words. He sets his hands on Charles's shoulders, slides them lower, along Charles's back. They finally coming to rest at his friend's waist—bracketing his trim hips and drawing Charles flush with Erik's chest. "You can still walk away."

But as Erik presses a light kiss to the side of Charles's neck, fingers tightening on Charles's hips, he doubts Charles will consider retreating now.

"No," Charles manages, voice low and rough. "I'm not leaving."

"Good," Erik breathes, and slides his hands over Charles's stomach.

He cheats a little—nudges at both buckle and zipper with the barest hint of power as his fingers make efficient work of the leather belt. Charles tugs his cardigan off over his head—an awkward but manageable affair despite Erik's proximity—and has just started in on the top buttons of his shirt, when Erik slips his hand down the front of Charles's trousers.

Charles inhales sharply at the first touch of Erik's fingers, head falling back and eyes fluttering closed.

"Don't stop now," Erik whispers roughly, leaning close so that the words ghost teasingly over Charles's jaw. He gives a light, experimental stroke of his hand, and smiles at the shiver it sends through Charles's body. "Keep going. I want to see you."

Charles turns his face into Erik's throat, breath coming shaky and harsh. But his fingers return to the half-vanquished button he abandoned in the instant before, and he resumes his progress, moving from button to button until at last the shirt hangs open.

"Beautiful," Erik murmurs, eyes downcast to take in the view. The word feels like a purr in his throat.

When Erik takes his hands back, Charles makes a small, unhappy sound. But he shrugs out of the shirt when Erik urges him to it, then turns to face Erik directly.

A ragged moment passes silent between them, and then Charles leans in close. He claims a quick kiss that ends before Erik has a chance to catch up, then smiles a breathless smile.

"Your turn," Charles says. He wraps his fingers in the hem of Erik's shirt and tugs it upwards.

Erik twists his way impatiently free of the turtleneck, tossing the garment carelessly aside in a rush and darting forward to drag Charles in for a deeper kiss. Charles falls easily against him, lips parting, whole body a line of warm invitation. This is more like it, skin against skin, and when Charles gasps into the kiss, Erik wonders how all that skin-to-skin contact affects his telepathic abilities.

Amplifies them, he would guess from the way Charles holds onto him even tighter—the way Charles's heartbeat speeds beneath Erik's touch. Erik lets arousal cloud his thoughts—lets images float to the surface, almost by accident this time—hungry and frantic and completely indecent.

He's not ashamed of the things he wants to do to Charles.

He feels a shiver run through Charles's body, and for an instant Erik catches another flash of something—close, so very close to the urges and sensations already coursing through Erik's body, but foreign in a way that leaves him no doubt where those feelings are actually coming from.

"I'm sorry," Charles gasps, breaking the kiss. "I'm—I swear I'm trying not to do that."

"It's fine," Erik says. When Charles opens his eyes and gives Erik a surprised look, Erik grins wickedly and adds, "You can stop trying. Just this once." But his voice is teasing, and he already knows that what they're doing now… He can't live with 'just this once.'

Erik takes a step back with surprising difficulty, and letting go of Charles leaves him instantly bereft.

"On the bed," Erik says. And then with a heated glance down at Charles's open trousers, "And lose those while you're at it."

Erik means to move quickly and simultaneously as Charles complies—strip down, retrieve what he needs from the drawer in the far corner, meet Charles on the bed with as little time wasted as possible. Instead he finds himself watching as Charles works the finely tailored fabric down his hips—as Charles methodically tosses aside every last shred of clothing and finally straightens to meet Erik's eyes. Charles backs all of three steps to the bed without breaking eye contact, and drops to the mattress in a smooth, flawless motion.

He sits silently, his hands curled over the edge of the bed, his face upturned and expectant. Erik's breath lodges in his throat at the sight. Undiluted want twists through him, shivering beneath his skin. Charles is beautiful. Strong and slim and perfect.

Erik can't stop staring.

It's the hint of a smile that finally stirs Erik to motion—that and a soft mental nudge that he might have imagined.

He moves for the corner bureau now, second drawer from the top, and quickly finds what he's looking for. It's a small bottle, but it should be more than sufficient.

"Quite the boy scout, aren't you," Charles teases as Erik draws near. His voice sounds mostly steady, but a slight quaver slips through.

"Hope you're not complaining," Erik retorts mildly. He sheds his belt quickly and hurries to remove his pants, his shoes, his socks.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Charles says. His tone is light, but his eyes are ravenous as he watches Erik undress.

"Good," Erik says, naked now and closing the last of the distance between them.

He stops just before Charles, and his chest feels tight as he looks down and meets that sharp, blue gaze head-on. The moment stretches taut between them, and Erik has to consciously remind his lungs that oxygen is a necessity.

Charles's gaze drops lower along Erik's body, and he asks, "Would you like me to…?" There's nervousness in his voice, but also a fresh determination in his eyes when he raises them—if Erik says yes, he knows Charles won't hesitate, and the realization sends a thrill straight through him.

"No," Erik answers. Because tempting as the offer is, he's already riding a razor's edge of arousal right now—so close he can practically taste it at the back of his throat. He knows exactly what he wants tonight, and Charles's mouth would pull him over the edge far too soon.

Comprehension smoothes Charles's expression, and Erik realizes that no explanation is necessary—his reasons are written across his face, or maybe they're just flashing in neon from his mind, impossible to ignore. Either way, they must come across clearly, because Charles smiles and eases back on the bed, making room for Erik to drop to his knees between Charles's legs.

Erik takes the offered space, crawling forward with every inch Charles moves back, crowding him towards the headboard and finally pushing him down into the pillows.

"How—?" Charles starts, but Erik cuts him off with a kiss. Quick and deep and open.

"On your back," Erik says when he pulls away. "Just like this." Another kiss, shorter than the last, and then, "I want to be able to see you."

He's still got the small bottle in one hand, and he opens it now, slicking his fingers as he settles his weight between Charles's thighs.

Charles is too tense when Erik presses the first finger inside, and Erik murmurs, "Relax. I know what I'm doing." He says it in a low breath, lips brushing Charles's jaw—and then grunts in surprise when Charles grabs his face and drags him into a kiss.

Without breaking the kiss, Erik slips another finger in beside the first. He feels a shudder—of pleasure, it has to be pleasure—rock through Charles's body beneath him, and then one of Charles's hands is sliding over Erik's flank and settling low on his back, urging him closer as Charles's legs bend, knees pressing in against Erik's sides.

Erik tries to be patient. He tries to take his time opening Charles up, tries to hold himself back, even as the need inside him mounts and threatens to turn his movements rough and hurried.

"Oh god," Charles breathes, whole body arching when Erik twists his fingers just so and hits the perfect spot inside him.

And Erik can't wait any longer. He withdraws his fingers faster than he means to, but Charles barely grunts to acknowledge the discomfort as Erik's hand retreats and leaves him empty. He shifts beneath Erik's weight, hips stuttering forward, rubbing up against him in a way that drags Erik's breath from his lungs.

Erik braces one hand against the mattress, and with the other he reaches between their bodies and slicks his cock with quick, deliberate strokes. He lines himself up with one steady hand, nudging against Charles's entrance.

Charles's eyes are wide—so bright and impossible and blue—and when Erik surges down to kiss him, Charles watches him the entire way.

Do it, Charles whispers directly into his thoughts, mouth busy accommodating Erik's tongue. I'm ready. And then, when Erik doesn't immediately comply, Please.

Erik finally thrusts inside. He breaks the kiss on a messy groan, curling heavily over Charles's chest as his hips rock forward and he slips deeper into the body beneath him.

Erik can hear Charles's breath coming in short, high gasps with every inch, and when Erik twists to look he finds Charles's head thrown back, his neck arched temptingly, his mouth open on a soundless shout.

More, Charles groans in his head. I can—… Eric, please, I need—.

Erik's hips snap forward without letting him finish, bottoming out in a single sharp thrust that draws a ragged, audible cry from Charles's throat and a rumbling growl of pleasure from Erik.

He goes still then because he has to—not for Charles, but for his own self-control. He needs this to last more than five seconds, god damn it, and he trembles, his fingers digging unintended bruises into Charles's hips as he adjusts to the tight, perfect heat of Charles's body.

He moves quickly after that, and everything that follows is chaos.

He tries to be gentle—he needs to be gentle—but he's too far gone. Or maybe it's Charles who's too far gone, feeding sensations straight into Erik's brain with his own fracturing control. Or maybe it's both of them, senses and feelings twisting between them, amplified and shared and making it impossible for Erik to do anything but fill Charles's body with this desperate rhythm. Deep thrusts, rough and unforgiving, but the sounds escaping Charles's throat are shocky with pleasure. Charles's legs wrap around him, tight and encouraging, and Charles's back arches as though even now all he wants is to get closer.

"Erik!" Charles cries aloud, and, Erik he shouts in Erik's head, and a wave of pleasure crests high above and rushes down around them.

Erik can't tell if the orgasm belongs to him or Charles, but of course it doesn't matter—not when it sweeps him along with blinding force and shoves him messily over the edge.

Erik comes hard and fast, muffling a shout against Charles's throat. He hears Charles cry out—in his ears and in his head, like a roaring crowd—and an instant later, everything falls to silence.


- — - — - — - — -

"That was…," Charles pauses, searches for the right word. Amazing? Indescribable? Too much for him to wrap his mind around now that it's over? "…unexpected," he says finally.

Erik snorts, shifting on the mattress beside him. Charles's gaze drops from staring dazedly at the ceiling, cutting to the side to find Erik lying propped on one arm. Watching him.

"I would apologize for my forwardness," Erik says, eyes already drifting down Charles's body. "But that would be disingenuous at best, and I try not to make a habit of lying to telepaths."

Charles laughs at that, a quick rumble of amusement, and says, "I should thank you for your candor, I suppose."

But Erik doesn't respond to his humor in kind, and a more somber expression spreads across Charles's face.

"What is it?" he asks.

"I shouldn't need to ask," Erik murmurs, shifting slightly closer. "But… did I hurt you?"

"Hurt me?" Charles gapes.

Erik's stare is determined—not guilty, but cautious, gauging and heavy—and he says, "I may have been… overzealous."

Charles understands his meaning. He aches, somewhere deep and intimate, from the force of Erik's thrusts. There's a bruise darkening at his throat—there may be more scattered across his hips and thighs, Erik certainly held him down hard enough.

But those discomforts don't matter. Charles could certainly have put a stop to them with half a thought. He swallows thickly and lets determination flash in his eyes.

"No, my friend," he says. "You did not hurt me."

"Good," Erik says. The word rumbles like a growl, and he moves so suddenly that Charles gasps in surprise.

Erik's mouth swallows the gasp. His weight settles over Charles, commanding and undeniable, skin warm and touching Charles in all the right places. One word trickles in through the mental barriers Charles has only just begun to reassemble, almost an accident—


Erik finally draws back from the kiss, and his eyes are hungry fire when Charles blinks and meets his gaze.

"What, now?" Charles gapes. His voice sounds rough to his own ears, and he feels his pulse picking up in his chest.

Erik smirks, ghosts a touch down Charles's chest, his stomach—slips mischievous fingers between their bodies and traces teasing patterns into the heated flesh between Charles's thighs. Charles inhales sharply, and his legs spread wider almost of their own volition.

"Would you let me, Charles?" Erik murmurs, seductive and almost playful. "So soon? Would you let me fuck you again, just like this?"

Charles suddenly can't find his voice to answer. His pulse is a chaotic racket beneath his skin, and it's a long moment before he manages to nod.

Erik smiles wider, and his hand slips from between Charles's legs.

"Of course you would," Erik murmurs. "But not yet, I think." He kisses Charles again, slow and deep.


- — - — - — - — -

Part of Erik—a rather loud, opinionated part—wants nothing more than to follow through on the offer hovering almost tangible between them. Charles would let him, and Erik can already feel his own interest stirring, arousal a constant twist in his belly just waiting for the go-ahead.

It would be so easy. There will never be enough time for all the things he wants to do to Charles Xavier, and the greedy hunger beneath his skin is almost too potent to ignore.

But even more than Erik wants to fuck Charles again, he wants this. He wants to savor the easy satisfaction of Charles in his bed—of Charles's lips parting obediently for the kiss Erik leans forward to claim, and Charles's tongue teasing hotly alongside Erik's. Charles reaches for him, threads his fingers through Erik's hair, and Erik hums a low, satisfied sound into Charles's mouth.

When Erik finally breaks the kiss, they're both breathing hard, and his gaze can't seem to settle between Charles's wide eyes and his kiss-swollen lips.

"You are unbelievable," Erik murmurs.

"And you, my friend, are—"

Charles's voice trails off before he's finished the thought, gaze going suddenly, unexpectedly distant. Erik blinks down at him for a moment, confused and surprised, waiting for him to resume.

"Charles?" he says when impatience wins out.

Charles blinks, eyes focusing slowly on Erik's face.

"Is everything all right?"

"Yes," Charles says, still sounding disconnected. "It's Raven. She was looking for me. When she couldn't find me in my room or my study, she worried."

"You've reassured her, I assume," Erik mutters dryly.

"Half a moment," Charles murmurs, focus shifting again. Then he nods, and this time when he looks at Erik, Charles is all there. "Done."

"She's a bit protective," Erik observes. His eyebrows rise high on his forehead, and he does his best not to think—jealously and unfairly—that Raven could have waited. Charles snorts, whether in response to the words or the thought, Erik can't tell.

"She is," Charles concedes. "And no, it couldn't have waited. If she'd managed to really work herself up, this would've been her next stop."

Which, Erik has to concede, would have ruined the moment a lot more decisively than this brief interruption. It would also have been awkward as hell, and a conversation Erik is quite happy to sidestep for the time being.

"Erik," Charles begins, looking suddenly uncertain. Raven's interruption has brought too much reality back in around them, and Erik can see difficult questions flashing in Charles's eyes.

"Stay with me tonight," Erik cuts him off, more sharply than he means to. He doesn't want to let Charles out of this bed. "We can talk in the morning, but… please stay."

"All right," Charles agrees.

Erik kisses him again. Everything else can wait until tomorrow.