At first, Charles thinks that the shadowed figure waiting for him is one of the students; his hand is halfway to a light switch, a light-hearted rebuke about the meaning of locks halfway to his lips, before he realizes he isn't reading anything from the mind in front of him. Which means either a very strong telepath, or...
"Magneto," says the familiar purr of a voice. "Erik ... is dead."
Charles does turn on the light, but Erik is still shadowed, face hidden in the depths of that damnable helmet and body hidden by a long cloak. Instinct has him trying to sweep the surface thoughts of his visitor, to no avail. The fact that he has no idea what Erik wants is a bit intimidating. "I could have the whole school here with a thought," he warns.
Erik tilts his head, and light splashes onto the familiar eyes, the familiar mouth quirked in a smile. "I'm not here to hurt you, Professor."
"Charles," he corrects automatically. The title is a mockery in Erik's voice, a man who had once called him friend, brother, lover.
Erik studies him, and then inclines his head in acknowledgment. "Then perhaps I can be Erik for a time."
"You look good," Erik says, a polite social lie that Charles rolls his eyes at.
"You," he counters, "look ridiculous." Charles downs half of his drink in one long burn. "Take it off."
Erik looks amused, but he unclasps the cloak and tosses it aside, shucks his jacket as well, leaving only a black turtleneck. "Better?"
"That too," Charles says, gesturing at the abomination of a helmet. "Off."
"No," Erik says, with a smile to lessen the sting.
"Don't you trust me?" Charles tries for a joking tone but fails miserably, his voice wavering like a child's.
The smile is gone; Erik doesn't quite meet his eyes. "It's more that I don't trust myself."
Charles shakes his head, not understanding.
"I shouldn't be here," Erik admits softly. His hand raises to Charles's cheek, thumb brushing against parted lips.
"But you are." Charles would mirror the gesture but the helmet's in the way.
"I couldn't stay away." Erik's hand moves down a little, fingers curving around Charles's neck, warm and unhesitating. "Not from you, not from... this."
Charles feels his heart stutter in his chest. "You're coming back?"
Erik's laughter is hollow, a little bitter, not at all amused. "No. That isn't an option, Charles, not any more. You know that."
"There's always hope," Charles admits wryly.
"I don't doubt it."
"May I?" Erik asks, and Charles loops his arms around Erik's neck and lets himself be lifted out of the wheelchair, carried to the bed. It's different from before; Erik acts like he weighs nothing, like he'd shatter at the faintest pressure, all gentleness. Charles tugs him down, kissing him hard, the lines of the helmet a dull pain compared to the brightness of need. "I'm not going to break, damn you," he says mildly.
Erik's kneeling on the bed, straddling him, and he is for a moment still. "I won't hurt you," he ventures finally, "will I? If we--"
A bitter laugh wrenches out of Charles. "Now you worry about hurting me?" he says, but shushes whatever Erik starts to stammer. "Come here," he says, with no force of persuasion behind it except the rawness of his need, and Erik does.
It starts slow, Erik unbuttoning Charles's shirt with exquisite tenderness until Charles bats him away and tugs the shirt open, baring skin to Erik's gaze and touch. And Erik is hungry, devouring him with eyes and hands and tongue, every movement needy and desperate. Charles aches with a matching desperation, and he scrabbles to get Erik's clothes off, needing more touch, more skin.
Erik grunts and strips, but the turtleneck won't come over the helmet. He growls in frustration and looks at Charles. "If I take this off..."
"I won't," Charles vows desperately, "I promise, I won't."
Helmet and turtleneck come off with one swift gesture, and then Erik is grinning at him, eyes alight with a sudden mischief. "I know," he says, and he lowers himself down to ravish Charles's mouth with a fierce possessive kiss, and Charles closes his eyes and groans and tries to pull Erik deeper, closer.
And then Erik pulls back, and slides the skin-warmed metal of the helmet down onto Charles's head.
The sensation itself is odd, but Charles is more distracted by the profound and utter silence that it brings. He's used to a background hum of minds, has heard it his whole life, and now there's nothing but his own raspy breathing, the thrum of his own heartbeat, and his thoughts -- only his, no one else's -- churning desperately to fill the void.
"What--" he manages to say.
Erik looks smug. "I wanted you to myself," he murmurs.
"You always did oh God," and Charles resorts to helpless babble as Erik's mouth descends on a nipple and bites down, not hard enough to leave a mark but hard enough that Charles feels it. He gasps and squirms and reaches for Erik's arms, holding on like a drowning man clings to a life preserver.
"Charles." In Erik's voice, his name is a prayer or a curse or both; Charles can't tell and doesn't really care. "Tell me how this works."
Charles doesn't pretend to misunderstand. "I can get hard -- reflex, really; the sensation isn't much but I can watch. Or--"
Erik wriggles down, stripping Charles's trousers as he goes, and starts to suck. Charles props himself up on his elbows, fascinated. It's weird to see Erik at work with his usual intense concentration, to see the flesh respond, without really feeling it; it's weirder to not be able to slip into Erik's mind and feel with him. "Let me," Charles begs, reaching for the odd weight of the helmet on his head, but Erik is up in a flash, holding his wrists.
"Not this time. It's not about our powers, Charles, it's about us."
"Our powers are part of us," Charles protests, but he concedes the point.
"Or?" Erik asks after a time.
"You were giving options," Erik says with amused patience. "I quite rudely interrupted."
"Ah," Charles says, and tries to recollect his thoughts. "Or you could fuck me," he says, and Erik buries his face against Charles's thigh and draws in a shuddering breath.
"Do you ... is that safe?"
"I won't break," Charles says again, fiercely. "Erik, please--"
Erik hesitates still, and Charles growls and grabs at his hair. "Don't make me make you," he says -- useless as a threat, with the helmet still trapping him inside his own head, but it's not the first time he's used those words in bed, always in some measure of jest.
"Fuck," Erik breathes, and the word flutters like a trapped butterfly against Charles's skin. "Yes. Anything."
It isn't the same as it was -- nothing is, nothing ever will be again -- and when Erik sinks into him with a deep groan, Charles can half feel an odd sort of pressure but it's nothing like being fucked should feel. Nothing like it used to feel.
It's still absolutely, utterly perfect.
"Mine," Erik says quietly.
"Says who?" Charles retorts, trying for impudence but it comes out something else, desperate and needy.
"I say." Erik throws his head back with a fierce wild grin. "You're mine, dammit, mine," and Charles feels orgasm wrench through him. Erik's eyes go impossibly darker with lust. "You." His voice is hoarse. "Say it."
"Yours," Charles murmurs. "Always was." He reaches for Erik, fingers sliding on sweat-slick skin. "You saved me."
Erik stares at him, and then pulls out, panting, still hard. "That's not how I remember it."
"Does it matter?" Charles reaches for Erik's cock and jerks him off. It's not the way things usually end between them; Charles usually is tangled as thoroughly in Erik's head as their bodies are. But Erik throws his head back and gives a strangled cry and comes, messy spurts striping Charles' chest and stomach. Charles wipes a bit up with one finger and sucks it into his mouth, tasting sweat and semen.
Erik groans. "You are insatiable."
"I've been deprived," Charles says, and he's grinning like an idiot, but he also means every word.
Erik takes the helmet off of Charles's head with gentle hands and settles it back onto his own; but there's a moment where the damnable thing isn't in the way, and Charles sends a mental burst of //missed love need//.
Arching an eyebrow at him, Erik says, "You promised you'd stay out of my head."
"I did." Charles smiles at him, unrepentant. "Can I help it if my own mind leaks?"
"Yes." Erik smiles back, looking utterly relaxed. "Good night, Charles."
"Wait," Charles says, as Erik turns to go. "I know you won't stay, but...just a little while longer?" I've missed you, he doesn't say.
Erik hesitates, and then nods, and sits on the edge of Charles's bed. He says nothing, but his eyes echo what Charles is feeling.
Charles reaches out for Erik's hand and twines their fingers together.