The rest of the house long-since settled in bed, training progress made all around, Erik has agreed to a nightcap in Charles' room, essentially because that's where all the best alcohol is. Three drinks and a couple of very entertaining stories about Charles' student days on, Erik is surprised when Charles stops, leans forwards in his chair, and reaches a hand over to Erik's knee, all seriousness.
"Can I be honest with you?"
"Why would you be anything else?"
"Good question, good question. No, Erik, the thing I would like to know is, when we clearly have so very much chemistry, so much so that my beloved sister actually asked me questions about your anatomy that I was ashamed to hear, never mind to not be able to answer, why is it that you refuse to come to bed with me?"
Erik looks nonplussed. "I had no idea your desires were so strong."
"Really? I mean, I'm...quite obvious..."
"I thought that was part of your natural charm..."
"I suppose it is. And I thought you were falling for it."
"I can't deny, Charles, that you are...you have...something, definitely, you have something that I want a great deal. But on the other hand, I'm sorry, I'm not that sort of man, and I’ve no plans to change. For me, reciprocal, appreciative sex is so...peripheral."
"Yes. It's so...human. And functional. And I have no desire to reproduce at this moment in time."
"Erik, I hardly think this is something about which we would need to worry..."
"Despite my lack of conventional schooling, I am aware of these things, thank you. No, I mean to say...I don't see the point in what...in the kind of evening you likely have in mind."
"You don't have sex?"
"Never as a goal; occasionally as a consequence. I take my pleasures in...darker affairs."
"You pique my interest..."
"Charles, please. I like what we have."
"I want more."
"I like my men a touch more dominant than you. I don't want to spoil this, please, just..."
"If we've never fucked, how will you know how dominant I can be?"
Erik gestures, uselessly, expression wrangled in the unusual amount of effort he’s making not to hurt Charles’ feelings. "Look at you, Charles, you're a head shorter than I am, and no, wearing stacks doesn't count."
"They're the fashion in England. And besides, my height is irrelevant."
"Not to me. Look, I'm flattered, and if sex and candlelight would be of any good to me, then, of course, you would be my first choice -"
"Candlelight. How nice."
"Don't...take me out of context. My point is, look at me, I could fuck anyone -"
"And so modest," Charles asides.
"Do you want this conversation or not?"
"No. I want you, naked and so hard you're going to cry."
"If this is about before, I feel it’s only fair to point out that you cried too, that it was a very beautiful memory, as you put it, and it's not fair to keep bringing it up like this, it's not a joke, that was something very special to me..."
"Oh, I'm not joking, my friend. And I certainly don’t mean to suggest anything about the incident you’re referring to. No, I like my men to cry."
Erik stops and squints at him, as if trying to look behind Charles' eyes.
"I need another drink," he says, eventually, hoping that this will go away.
"I always need another drink," Charles says, knowing that another drink is always a step closer to bed.
They pause, as if gearing up for round two, Erik mixing a vodka Martini, Charles discovering, as he pours an oversized drink, that he's reached the bottom of his best Scotch.
He sighs, settling down on the edge of the bed, rather back into than the armchair, kicking his shoes off, a touch petulantly. "Shit. Anyway, where were we?"
"I'm not sure I want to continue this, but I sense there’s little choice, so, I think, I think you were just telling me that you were turned on by my very sincere and uncommon tears."
"Oh, yes. I was. And I think you were telling me how I was the kind of man you could never imagine bringing you to orgasm."
Erik chokes into his drink. "I love the way you put these things."
"Well, if we're going to discuss the functional, reproductive side of life..."
"Look, it isn’t personal. I just don't see us...going there."
"But, where? Where is it that you can’t imagine us? I can just...if you're not going to tell me..." he waves his fingers in the way that is beginning to make Erik want to break them.
"Don't fucking get into my mind without asking again, I don’t want you to. If I want you in my head, you’ll know."
"Hey, alright. It's only that I think you're underestimating my skills."
"Not your skills. Perhaps your sanity."
Charles lets out a laugh, involuntarily. "Oh, Erik, you really don't know me very well, do you? Please. Cut to the chase. What would it take to get you into bed?"
"You're nothing if not persistent, I'll give you that."
"Tell me, Erik."
"Fine. But I can do better than that."
Erik sets his glass down, and stretches out in the chair, fishing in his pocket for something, which reveals itself as an old, plain bone-handled switchblade. Holding it in the palm of his hand, Erik uses his power, rather than his fingers, to flick the blade out from its casing. It’s broad, four inches long, and gleaming sharp.
Charles is all eyes.
Placing it on the table, Erik then stands up, and pulls off his shirt, watching Charles carefully for a reaction. The reaction is no more than a bite of the lip, as Charles takes in the cacophony of scars that matt Erik's torso.
Erik runs his hands consciously, slowly, over his chest. "If I so wished, I'm fairly sure I could make all these marks disappear altogether. But I like the look, the feel of them, so here they stay. Memories, aesthetics, both so very important to me."
He picks up the knife, and runs the blade’s edge quick and decisive across the back of his arm. A cut slightly deeper than Charles thinks it ought to be appears, and an overtly perceptible shiver flickers across Erik's exposed skin. Erik exhales, and then, focusing his gaze carefully on his arm, collects the blood, clots the wound, and then, a deep breath or two later, it's no more than a streak across skin.
Charles makes the best 'congratulatory/impressed hands' gesture he can. "That's amazing!" he yelps, brain gearing up associations. "Of course, iron, in the blood..."
"Amongst other metals. The things I can do to my body…"
"Fascinating," Charles breathes, leaning closer.
"Perhaps," Erik says, replacing the knife in his pocket, taking his drink back up, but making no effort to dress himself again. "You see, though, what I'm referring to?"
"You are in some way tired of sex, but have an infinite capacity for pain and abuse?"
"Occasionally your perception disturbs me, Charles, but I can tell you that on this occasion, you have indeed come to a correct conclusion all on your own. Yes, I've fucked and been fucked with and by such a vast variety of things and people that the ordinary process of intercourse seems so very banal that it is, as I've said, of little interest to me. If I’m honest, I’ve never seen the attraction in such a plain, repetitive activity. But pain, the straight-up, physical sensation of it, the fear it thrives upon, the complexity of feeling it seeds and develops...pain has always been my greatest comfort."
"You're so wonderfully corrupt."
"Wonderfully, an interesting choice of word. As if I were a successful art project."
"I would say that's exactly what you are. Your own project. Your choice. You have sculpted yourself beyond my wildest dreams..." Charles says, a touch overenthusiastically, a trait, Erik is learning, that comes with Charles reaching the point of inebriation.
"This isn't anything to be ashamed of," Charles continues, "there are great examples of the beautiful masochist in literature and -"
"Oh, please don’t be confused, I have no shame for my preferences. None at all. But I don't like to waste my time. And I do so enjoy your...conversation. Why would we try for something you can't possibly achieve when we could have such a pleasant evening just...drinking, and talking?"
"Because I want to make you come, Erik."
"Your attempts at dirty talk do nothing but amuse me..."
"They aren't attempts, simply truths. As I said, you don't seem to know me very well, because I do always get what I want."
Raising an eyebrow to say the Is that so? Erik isn’t sure Charles warrants, he drains his glass a little too quickly, to contain the laugh he otherwise couldn’t help but form. Retrieving it once more from his trouser pocket, Erik hands the flicked knife to Charles, handle first, his teeth bared in the broadest, most electric of grins.
"Fine. Here you go, then. Fuck me up."
Charles accepts it, with a deep breath and a dash of resolve that is transformative. This is entirely Erik’s choice, and, if he was to be honest, he would have to say that he was only teasing, only half-hoping, largely only dreaming.
He wasn’t lying, though.
He spins the knife between his fingers, experimentally, testing its weight, and his own bravado. Erik watches as he does so, waiting, waiting, convinced this will go nowhere.
Charles hops up, then, and begins to pace the room, still playing, unexpectedly dexterously, with the knife, fingering its sharpness, examining the handle.
"Where did you get this?"
"I stole it."
"I'm not telling you that."
"You don't need to know."
"Did he - it was a he, wasn't it - did he cut you, with this knife, Erik?"
Erik pushes his hair back, and grits his teeth, refusing to answer.
"I'll take that as a yes."
"How old were you, Erik?"
"Old enough to get what I wanted from him."
"I hope you don't."
Still pacing, Charles unbuttons his waistcoat, and casts it casually aside. "I wouldn't want to get blood on these things. If you'd warned me, I would've dressed in something more suitable. Erik, did you kill someone with this knife?"
"Fucking hell Charles, you said you wanted to get me into bed, not to analyse my insides, fuck's sake...stop this..."
"Oh, no, no, we've only just begun. Sit down. No, Erik, sit down." With a cast of Charles' hand, Erik does indeed, sit down. Charles notices, with more than a glance of satisfaction, that Erik looks, for the first time in their conversation, nervous.
"Let's try again, shall we?" He crouches down, in front of Erik, rests the knife on his thigh.
"Don't cut my trousers..."
"Don't cut your trousers?"
"I think," Erik says, shrinking back in his seat a little, inhabiting a patch between disturbed and confused, "there's been a misunderstanding..."
"I think," Charles says, "that you're wrong."
Erik pushes the chair back, goes to get up, and Charles is at his throat in a second with the knife pressing, nicking into the thin skin there and a hand at his chest pushing him down and he's on top of him, in the chair, hissing, "I said sit the fuck down, Erik. I think that's enough contribution from you now."
And Erik gives in, because this Charles is not like any other Charles, this Charles is (drunk?) much stronger than he looks, much stronger, with a painfully tight grip and something really unpleasant in his eyes.
"What else have you got concealed under there?" Charles asks, sliding a hand down Erik's side. "No, don't answer, let me find out...oh, look..."
He draws Erik's gun from the waistband of his trousers, yanking him forwards, tracing it up his spine. Erik is absolutely submissive, totally still, praying the safety is still on.
Charles draws a neat X across Erik’s back with the skin-warm barrel, then leaps off him, brushing his hair out of his eyes, and setting the gun aside on the bookcase. "We'll leave that there for now, shall we?"
"For...now..?" Erik's weak concern almost has Charles breaking out of his act, on the verge of point-and-laugh, but he holds it in admirably, adjusting his reactions before they break, coaching himself into the persona he feels he can so easily adopt and adapt.
"Yes. After all, you can heal wounds, and, as you so eloquently dared me just the other day, stop bullets at point blank range. I don't know why you'd be afraid of my turning a gun on you now..." His hand jams itself between Erik's legs "unless you're excited at the prospect?"
Erik squirms, but, for all Charles squeezes, he shows no sign of being, in any way, excited.
Charles flies a strong right hook to the side of Erik's head, catching him square in the ear. Ringing subsides to the sound of Charles ordering him onto the bed.
"I like that chair. It was my father's. I don't want blood on it. Get on the bed. I don't care what we get on that." He pulls the bedcovers off, literally tearing strips off the sheet as he yanks it free, and, as Erik does, once more, precisely as he's told, moving slowly and carefully as if in the lion's cage, Charles snatches at him and has him at the wrist, twisting an arm behind his back, wrapping around him like a fucking contortionist, intuitively blocking Erik's instinctive reaction to follow the motion and dive out of the hold, taking his other wrist, and, catch knot knot pull twist catch fucking hell Charles, Erik is stretched around and held absolutely firm, his wrists bound tight behind his back.
It hurts when Charles shoves him around to lie on his back, his fists jammed under his hips, his shoulders at all the wrong angles, chest tight and strained convex, muscles outlined across his ribcage, scars overlaying those both.
"Now, says Charles, licking the edge of the knife as if warming it, cleaning it, "I think this is as good a place to start to, how did you put it, fuck you up."
The knife dives into Erik's side, stabbing, rather than cutting, the sensation puncturing and deep, though it's barely more than the tip, penetrating hardly a centimetre beneath the surface. Charles holds it there, inside him. Erik can feel Charles' own pulse travelling through the handle, down the blade, rippling at his insides. The sense of invasion is sudden and shocking, and his chest breaks with a sheen of sweat. A single bead of blood collects around the site, and falls, heavy onto the mattress.
Erik looks for reaction in Charles' eyes, and sees nothing there at all.
The knife twists, digs, circles and cuts and pushes at waiting flesh. Erik's stomach turns involuntarily, and he tries to shift away. This is what Charles is waiting for, and he pushes Erik down, flat of his hand at Erik's hip, and digs the tip in a little deeper.
Fear radiates from Erik, for a moment, just a moment, and then he relaxes again. Charles is taken with Erik's mastery of himself, and pulls the blade out, taking it around in a single motion to slash once, twice, three times, perfectly, mathematically parallel lines over the last of Erik's ribs, two inch-long, perfect slices, measured and precise and designed to be beautiful, Erik will think, much, much later.
As Erik lets himself feel the cuts, allows the consequential adrenaline to course into his bloodstream, it occurs to him that, for all his earlier comments...he doesn't know Charles well at all. On the one hand, his appreciation for cosy waistcoats and his high levels of alcohol consumption suggest that every part of him is the classic, sheltered, high-thinking academic. On the other hand, there is an aggression, a speed with which Charles can move that Erik hasn’t seen before. A deftness with his hands that belies the fact that he doesn’t seem to use them to do much more than hold a pen.
The way that he doesn't flinch to harm him now the way that he did when they were outside, the way he doesn't...seem to care about...what this may or may not be; there is a way in which this Charles does not match up with any of Erik's presumptions. Erik values his presumptions. They are one of the few things that have kept him alive and well for this long in life. He is not often wrong, and when he has been, he’s been quick to dispose, and move on. He’s never stayed anywhere long enough to have an assumption evolve into an asset.
Charles bends to Erik's body, eyes up and on his, watching for evaluation at any point, for judgement, for shifts in perspective. He smiles, licking his lips, and then, with absolute confidence, pushes his tongue across the broken skin he’s drawn, into the clean, seeping cuts, wet and cold, from Erik's perspective, in the heat of an open wound.
"Erik, you taste delicious. Very well-nourished."
"Thank you, I think…" Erik manages, twisting, back cracking, shoulders shooting electric shocks in protest at his position, at the added weight of Charles leaning on him, especially. That, at least, is an original comment. Compliment. Clinical appraisal.
"Who," Charles asks, tracing a finger’s width of pale scar tissue, running from sternum to lower abdomen, "did this? No, no, don't tell me. Just think about that time."
Erik doesn't want to think about that time at all, thanks, but then, as Charles retraces the old mark, he can't help himself. He remembers everything, from the cold of the marble slab he was strapped onto, to the featherlight slash of the scalpel, to the exploratory pressings and diggings at his insides, the extraction and insertion of one thing and another. He remembers the sound and scent of blood splashing in ceramic dishes, the stab of needles, the whip and pull of thick black thread, the thick suffocation and sting of bleach.
Charles is watching his thoughts. Erik is so tied up in them, locked in unanaesthetised flashback where he was watched by so many, enduring one examination, one trial, one investigation after another, that he doesn't notice the other spectator, the one with the bird’s eye view and a half-life of context to ground it with.
Crawling over him, taking the knife along the path of the scar, up, and down, up, and down, as if the sliver of friction alone would be enough to open the old wounds, Charles whispers to Erik, "They didn't find what they wanted in there, did they?"
Erik's head moves, so slightly, from side to side, answering in real and old time all at once.
"They didn't get what they wanted from you, did they?"
There is a rolling, searing connection between there, and here, as Charles flips Erik over, onto his front, and, in perfect imitation, cuts Erik's back, instead. It isn't deep, but Charles tells Erik's mind that it is precisely the same as the cut at his front, that it is deep enough that it spills blood in abundance, and that the suggestion of bone is exposed. Charles projects it gift-wrapped in a thousand echoes from the past; you are so special, Erik, you are a gift, to me, I want to know you inside and out, you must trust me, I know what you could be capable of.
Out loud, he says, "I shall get exactly what I want from you."
Erik lets the most pathetic, most confused and choked of sounds out, between a cry and a gasp, and oh..., and his wrists are blue with the strain of trying to break free from the stern cotton knots. Charles traces paths for the little blood there actually is to trickle down his sides, and Erik's skin trembles with the teasing, tumultuous sensation.
With a smile, Charles notes the way that Erik is also beginning to shift and move, to try to find pressure against the mattress.
"I think," he says, slicing Erik's belt open with a quick, firm pull of the blade and yanking it clean away, wrapping his arms around Erik's body to unfasten his trousers, at last, now that there's a clear reason to do so, "that I know exactly what you need."
Erik groans, but can't find his footing between reality and vision, so he only concedes himself, utterly.
Naked, and, he is certain, bleeding by the pint, this is very far from every experience he's had. The setup is impossible for him to digest; the fact that he’s exchanged more than money/punches/saliva with the man he’s given so much control to is unthinkable. It is so far from everything that he has ever imagined, that all he wants now is to see what the fuck comes next. Erik wasn't aware that he had space for new experiences, especially not in this department.
"Don't worry about making noise," Charles encourages. "Scream, shout, swear as much as you like. No-one can hear. Or, if they do, I can make sure they forget."
Erik groans, and writhes again, fists banging against his back, unable to stop trying to get free, to get bloodflow where it should be, rather than everywhere else. At the same time, he is in love with the way that his muscles are straining, the way he can feel their every cell fighting for its purpose and survival.
"I'll undo you soon, but not until I'm sure you're not going to try and interfere. Be good for me, and you won't have long to wait."
"Don't treat me like..." Erik growls, but doesn't finish his sentence.
"A child? I'm not. It's interesting that your judgements on good and bad behaviour suggest to you that I'm belittling you, even as I have my hands just here, even as I can feel you are finally finding yourself aroused. Tell me, Erik, who was the last person to arouse you so?"
With a kick and a snarl, Erik shows him.
It's dark and wet in this vision, indoors, too hot, there's...liquid in the air, sweat and/or condensation, filthy, and the floor is wet too, a collage of fuck knows what, leeched from those who relish such a setup – and there are more than you’d think. It's dark, a weak degree or two above pitch black, and there are two people in the room.
One is dressed entirely in black...black leather, plastic, something that hides and creaks and squeaks as they move, and it shines, rarely, in the little light that there is, as they pace around the other, a figure kneeling, bent, naked, arms spread wide, palms pressed into the grime of the floor. Head dipped, back arched, they, like everything else, are soaking wet, and gasping for air that tastes of stale sex and ammonia and acrid unpleasantry.
As the whip cracks up, Erik, on the floor, braces himself for its impact. As it lashes across his back, he yells and swears in German, and as it comes down again, cries out in a rage. When it strikes the third time, he yells at the faceless, nondescript being to beat him harder.
Charles is amused, as he confuses Erik's senses throughout this sequence with a myriad of cuts, pinches, licks and scratches, to discover that Erik can't remember who it is that he paid, not so long ago, to flay him like this, in a basement, in the middle of the night, in the depths of a downtown the memory can’t even place in a specific country.
"I have never known someone so desperate to fuck their own demons," Charles says, scraping the edge of the blade down Erik's hipbone just hard enough to redden, just short of hard enough to peel the taut skin from the muscle and jutting bone.
"Fuck you," Erik says, but he's barely talking to Charles. "Fuck you!" he shouts, to the distance, and Charles, rather than taking this moment to look for who he is talking to, instead takes Erik's cock full into his mouth, simultaneously reaching back, beneath, for Erik's bound hands and gripping the cold fingers tight, pulling him into a painful arc.
Broken and pushed and flexed and stretched and forced into a thousand positions for a thousand reasons in his life, this is in itself, not new, but Erik's mind is awhirl.
Everyone you ever had, everything you ever did, all those fantasies, those games you paid to play, those things you never asked for, everything you have put yourself through, you have done so to be ready for me.
Charles' voice is strong and sharp and low in Erik's head, and it is so clear, so definitive, that he does not even begin to try to deny it.
"More," he cries out, and Charles obliges with more by leaving him, wet and hard now, and, without looking, slicing Erik's hands free, nicking his palm with the bloody knife tip.
Blood flows, melts and freezes in seconds in white snow, as the man who was, seconds before, knelt at Erik’s feet, sucking him off, collapses onto one side, having accidentally, fatally, shot himself in the head with his own gun whilst Erik’s hands fisted into his coarse hair, controlling all of the man’s motions, Erik’s powers controlling all of the gun’s.
The release of ejaculation at this point seemed a natural consequence to the satisfaction of vanquishing of someone who so truly deserved everything that came to them.
Erik aaaaaaas in increasing pain as sensation returns in spiking, needling pangs up his arms, around his shoulders, and he is useless, bloody, c onvinced that he is bloodier, wrecked, and that the damage is so very much worse, and yet, and yet, Charles is still only playing with the edges of what he can do.
"Tell me what you want, Erik," Charles says, there and not there, himself and someone else.
"I want you on me," Erik finds himself saying, knowing that it’s the truth.
"Tell me more."
"I want to fuck you."
"I want to fuck you so hard that it’s you that cries."
Erik stares, but Charles finds, I hurt so much and you're scaring me.
I scare myself.
I don't know if I can ever hurt enough.
"I promise you, I can hurt you more than you can stand."
Erik's eyes snap open. His contorted, sweat-streaked face finds room for a manic smile.
"Try me," he dares.
Charles throws fireballs in his mind, blinding Erik in disorientating white light and shattering his existence in screaming agony. But it only lasts a moment, and then it's gone.
Erik's scream at that moment is unearthly.
Charles takes a second to scan the house, but, as just he promised, no-one can hear.
He gives Erik time to catch his breath, body shaking, arms slack at his side, wrists purpling. He is a picture, Charles thinks, of a kind of perfection he has never seen. A puzzle, human chessboard, mutant and dangerous, shifting contradictions twisted into a singularity Charles knows he can never - would never want to - match. At the same time, the more he observes, the more the pieces of the puzzle come into view, the easier it is to complete.
It takes Erik three goes to say, "Cheating!", and a little longer to construct "What the fuck did you do to me?"
"I can do a lot more than mind-reading," Charles replies, teasing the knife at his own forearm, imagining the kinds of sensations he's inflicted on Erik on himself, and realising he has no desire to switch this situation at all. "Even I don't yet know the true extents of my powers."
"I..." Erik stops, because every part of him has a residual ache as if he'd been scalded some time ago, the white light like a tidal wave of boiling oil, slick and clinging to his skin. "Oh, fuck."
"Be careful what you wish for."
"Why be careful, when you could be great, instead?
"I love that you think these things are mutually exclusive."
Not wanting to lose the progress he's made, Charles removes the clothes he's still wearing, and Erik looks him up and down.
"Agreeable?" Charles asks, taking the switchblade back into his hands, and flicking it open, closed, open, closed, with an intent that makes Erik quiver, now.
He doesn't wait for a response before cutting at Erik's thigh, less marked than elsewhere, pale skin parting eagerly to give up rich dark blood that flows easily. Charles collects it on his fingers, painting it across the inside of his thigh, sticky, quick-drying, taut, teasing.
"Tell me," Charles says, repeating the process, but this time slipping blood-slick fingers down, between Erik's legs, beneath his cock, and teasing, pushing against him, "about the first time you were fucked."
Erik jolts from head to toe as Charles pushes two wet fingers inside him, scrabbles for a hold and finds nothing to clutch, winds his fingers through his hair as he fights to push back.
I can't remember... is all Charles hears at first, but he presses, pushes deeper, puts the knife aside to stimulate the wound with his other hand.
"I know you can."
Charles feels this himself, rather than sees, a thrust of cold, thin steel, so vivid that he himself is aroused and stimulated and shocked, but he doesn't break concentration, nor does he follow through with the strong, strong urge to pleasure himself at this point, which would, in any other game, be blanketed with a guilt for its origins.
A flood of images force his self-indulgent concerns aside. Erik is thin, very thin, and very confused, very aware - is furious, is laughing, is cold, is held and probed and stimulated, this way, that way, hard - too hard - bleeding, gentle, curious, exploratory - with metal, with rubber, with gloved hands and with rough drunken crudity.
Everything I am, Erik is repeating, now, as he has done so many times over the years, they made me everything I am.
"No, Erik. No." Charles strokes his cock with a bloody hand, twists two fingers deep inside him with the other, "You made this. You took all this, you took it and you taught yourself how to survive and how to thrive and you are proud of this, even now, even," he twists harder, pushes up, deep, Erik is straining and fighting with his thoughts and with the sensations and thrusting into Charles' hand, "even other men would be ashamed, you are proud, and strong. Show me more. Show me how you chose to live."
Erik, tight shirt, slim trousers, polished boots, lean and younger and predatory, a bar, a nice bar, expensive bar, rich crowd, older men...an alleyway, a man - this man, a significant man; he bites the brickwork as Erik throws him up against the wall...I made him beg for it and Erik is inside him quick as a punch, and then he's thrown back onto the floor, makes no attempt to prevent this, languishes bloody, kicked and laughing, laughing as the man kicks him again, shouting abuse; he's come over in shame and fear and what-have-I-done and Erik knows it. A last kick and he's gone, and Erik finishes himself off, lying there in the dirt, still laughing, taste of rain and dust and blood in his mouth.
Charles forces back his own reactions to these visions - a complex of pain and pity and feelings that have no business entering into tonight, trades off the heat of Erik's blood and body around him, the intoxicating taste of blood and arousal everywhere.
Erik slips in and out of the moment, concentration shot, body wound up so tight his breaths are no longer controlled and careful, his muscles are no longer relaxed and he lets out sounds that mean nothing, growls and breaths and moans the moaning, Charles thinks, recording it in his mind for later.
He bends down to lick, tease, taste at the tip of Erik's cock and Erik bucks so hard Charles chokes on him, rammed full into the back of his throat so hard that he gags, and Erik thrashes, trying to capture that again. Retching, Charles shoves him away, rescinds his gentle approach and climbs up Erik's ragged body, overtly hard himself now, biting down at Erik's collarbone with teeth so unexpectedly sharp that Erik shouts, overstimulated, and clashes upwards with him, tangling his legs with Charles' and throwing them over, gripping Charles tight at the shoulders, breathing hard even with this effort.
"Go on then," Charles says, "good boy. However you want to finish this."
Charles feels Erik’s blank wall of rage slam up against that sentence, and senses that it is about to deflate, that they are hinging on Erik’s decision to take this to the conclusion Charles demanded so long ago now. Before Erik can lose the moment, before he can decide that what he’s doing is giving, rather than taking, in shreds of time that are microseconds in truth, but are so much longer to Charles because he can operate on the flash of the change of mind, rather than waiting for it to translate itself into words and actions, he pushes Erik with what he's done, with the way he’s manipulated him, and he teases Erik with thoughts of turning on him with the knife - but Erik sees the call, raises the stakes and brings the gun; with a single flick of his hand he is clenching its grip knuckle-whiteningly tight.
Charles obliges with the tension and the obvious signs of fear that Erik wants, barely even aware that they are brought about with genuine emotion rather than simply for Erik's delectation.
The barrel pushes into Charles' forehead, and Charles says only, clear and honest calm, "I dare you, Erik."
Erik fingers the trigger.
Charles feels him fighting for the next move.
Casting the gun aside, Erik pinches at Charles' jaw, then shoves the side of his hand into Charles' mouth. Charles bites him down to bone as Erik pushes his cock, bloodied, straining hard, leaking in anticipation, inside him, with all the force he can find; one thrust, then another.
Go on, Charles tells him. Harder.
Erik obliges. Eyes closed, teeth set, he rips his hand from Charles' mouth to take better purchase against his shoulders, racking him with a sensation that is too hot, too desperate, too visceral to hurt.
Charles feels himself come, early, perhaps, inevitable in the friction between them, a thick glue of himself and Erik’s blood and their sweat, a terrible cumulative slick as raw as their motions.
Show me when you were the most turned on.
Erik's mind reels through a hundred encounters, through closeups of blood and dirt and steel and leather and darkness and he can't lie...can't fucking lie…Charles sees himself through Erik's eyes. Streaked in blood and sweat and dark around the eyes he doesn't recognise himself; his expression is hard and his mouth is set in a cruel smile he didn't know he could create. He doesn't even know if this is as he is, or as Erik is seeing him, but he feels the sheer weight of lust all around the image, and the desire Erik has for him, right now, is excruciating.
Charles dives once more into Erik's mind, opens up a hundred cuts, coats him in the sensation of blood, of rain, of dirt, of the cold, of the open and on show, gives him the highlights of himself back tenfold, has him feel kicked in the stomach and wanted-hated-needed-feared, fifteen thousand emotions and sensations, have everything, Erik, I can give you everything - you deserve to do this and Erik's body hits him viciously in three places with every thrust, upper body clamped against his, hips pistoning disjointed, arhythmic and furious.
Finally, in a whiplash of need and clawing and urgency, Erik spits, bloody and hot and angry, into Charles' face, and Charles takes his turn to laugh, at long last, and as Erik comes so hard inside him, he sees Charles, covered only in him, and there only for him. Erik wraps himself so tight to Charles that there's no room for air, shakes, pulses, clasping them in a suffocation, recycling each other's breath.
When they separate, it is only to lie there, cooling, naked, stained and bruised and exerted.
"You've...never done anything like that before, have you, Charles?" Erik says, eventually, through a haze of air so metallic with the tang of blood that he might carve it.
Charles laughs, and rubs at dried blood and saliva, tightening across his jawline. "No, not...quite like that. How did you know?"
"Because," Erik replies, sinking back onto the bed and groaning as he splits the stripes across his stomach, "you look so fucking pleased with yourself."
"Ah. Yes. Sorry."
"Don't spoil this by apologising. It's I who should be apologising. I assumed you would be...lacking. And it turns out that you are a far more dangerous man...a far more powerful mutant, perhaps, I should say, than I had imagined. So, I'm sorry. And, perhaps, next time, I shall be more obliging, when you try to tell me what we might have."
"Good. Because, the thing is, whilst I haven't done this before, I have done a lot of other things before, and I do know, I know with complete and absolute confidence, that I can do anything that you want me to. Or...anything that I want you to want me to do."
Erik's smile is warm, and genuine. He feels less than any need to pick holes in this dynamic, for it is, in its disquieting, distressing context, strangely, precisely and absolutely the only kind of dynamic with which he would ever be comfortable.
"I think we have something special," he offers Charles; a slice, he hopes, of the dynamic he is still convinced Charles would prefer.
"Of course we do," Charles replies, looking Erik up and down, shifting his boundaries ever further to accommodate everything that Erik has given him.
They lie in silence, covered in each other, wrapped up in something that neither must ever try any harder to define; in something that both can learn so very, very much from.