Charles Xavier looks just like his father. Short and boyish and charming, he’s looked roughly the same age since he turned 15. Even at that age, Charles had anticipated that genetics would deny him the stature attained by his peers.
He takes after his father in more ways than one – Charles prefers the serenity of the library to the raucous environs of the sports fields. He is not incapable of running but he doesn’t much see the point when there are books to be read, things to learn.
And Charles likes himself quite a bit just the way he is anyway – he enjoys himself, alone and with others. Charles likes things that feel good, likes the comfort of a chaise and a novel and a glass of wine, like the burn of nicotine when he smokes a cigarette in a pub.
Charles puts a hand on the bar, closer to the man he’s flirting with, and looks up through his lashes. He smiles when a finger traces the back of his wrist. “You know, my friend, mutation is a very groovy thing.”
Raven shifts into Charles’s form, everyone laughing around her as she shows off. The trick to a truly good imitation is knowing the subject, and Raven knows Charles. She knows that there is strong muscle in his legs, but it isn’t obvious. She knows there is a soft pudge that sits just above his hipbones. She knows there is baby fat just under his chin.
The trick to a truly good imitation is getting the understructure right; that’s how she knows the right way to stand and walk. It isn’t a woman’s walk – there’s nothing swishy about it, despite what popular culture would have people think about men who prefer men. Charles has a soft body but it isn’t a woman’s body. Charles walks on the balls of his feet, as though his energy cannot stand to be restrained.
Charles laughs, indulgent and happier than he’s sounded in a very long time – he has a fake laugh that works on almost everyone else but Raven has known him too long. She shifts back to her own form amid the applause of her new… family. They’re a family.
“What about Erik? Do Erik!” Sean is out and out giggling. It’s almost enough to distract her from the blush that steals up Charles’s neck, the way he fidgets with his hands.
“Take your shirt off, Erik.” Raven grins, as innocent as she can be. “I need to see your muscles so I can get the core shape right.”
Erik raises an eyebrow but, at the urging of Angel and Janos (who can always be counted on to support a bad idea), stands up and strips his shirt up over his head. His shoulders shift uncomfortably, but he stands, head up. There is something defiant in his posture – Raven thinks suddenly that he’s had to do this before, had to let other people look him over. She winces internally, but she also looks.
Erik is thinner than Raven expected. She would have gotten it all wrong, she thinks. Raven steps closer and studies the way his ribs and his collarbones are prominent even though he eats as much, if not more, than anyone else at the mansion. She notes the too-lean muscle. Erik is strong, she’s seen him fight. But he looks like a man who has gone hungry for a very long time.
She shifts slowly, careful to get the right rigidity to her spine, the proper breadth of shoulder and depth of pelvis. Erik should be much heavier than he is. Raven flickers back to herself. “I need more practice.” In truth, she doesn’t want to complete the image, doesn’t want to even think enough about the tattooed numbers on his forearm. She doesn’t want to make Erik look at himself that way. It’s too naked, especially in a room full of people. A room full of Charles.
Her brother is all wide-eyed and staring. And he’s shifting, the way he does when he’s excited about an idea.
Erik puts his shirt on without saying a word. Raven sees the way Charles looks at him – and she sees the way Erik looks right back.
Erik’s back is to Charles – with anyone else it might be an insult but Charles knows Erik well enough at this point to know it’s a sign of trust. They are rarely alone in the mansion, constantly surrounded and at risk of being interrupted; they are the de facto parents of a strange new family that seems to suit them both.
Charles settles his hand, palm smooth and without calluses, between Erik’s bright shoulder blades. “You seem conflicted. Is everything all right?”
The other man drops his head, cannot turn to meet Charles’s gaze. “There are things I should tell you, Charles. I am not a good man.”
It’s such a forlorn thing for any person to believe – Charles can barely stand the ache of it. Especially from Erik. “You forget, I know everything about you.” It has always been true.
Erik does turn at that, one brow raised in question. “Everything?”
He’s anticipated this moment, waited for it while being careful not to let his own desire project. Consent is very important to Charles, because he could so casually make other people want what he wants. He nods. “Would you like to join me for a game of chess, my friend?”
The hesitant smile that answers him is shy – Charles has never imagined Erik to be shy. The hand that reaches out, settles on the easy flesh of Charles’s hip, is light as a feather. Charles sees himself, in an overwhelming rush, through Erik’s eyes: flushed and full and healthy, above all alive.
They’ll play chess another time.
Alex strains every day at the gym they’ve set up in the mansion’s basement, curls and chinups and pushups and crunches. He’d begun the routine in prison; he continues it now because Alex is a fighter. It’s what he knows how to do.
Sometimes, when he’s sweating and grunting his way through a work out, Alex sees the Professor wander in and then wander about. Charles is only a few years older than Alex, he thinks. But they are very different people. Alex thinks about Charles and Hank, too, especially about Hank and how brilliant their brains are. Neither of those geniuses could do what Alex can do, does almost without thinking, but he can’t do what they can do – it all balances out.
It makes him smile, how perfect it all is. Alex wipes he brow and returns Charles’s grin with his own honest, unfeigned smile.
Charles stretches, rubs a foot over Erik’s calves, and settles back against his ridiculous stack of pillows. If his expression is smug, well, he thinks he deserves it. Erik dozes beside him, curled on his stomach and exhausted, still marked with Charles’s semen on the backs of his thighs.
The early morning sunlight streams in – they had forgotten to close the curtains; they had been too distracted by touching and tasting, exploring. Both of them are men who like adventure, after all. And what’s a better adventure than the thrill of a new lover’s flesh? Charles feels warm now, runs his hands over his chest, rubs the heels of his palms over his nipples. They’re still sensitive from Erik’s teeth, and he luxuriates in the slight soreness.
Erik had dragged his tongue over every inch of Charles’s skin. Charles had felt quite worshiped, near devoured. “We’ll repeat that, my friend.” He is quiet enough that his whisper receives no response, but Charles is confident that Erik will agree.
And he’ll do the same to Erik’s body. More than that, he’ll give Erik soft things, easy things. Delicious things. He’ll feed Erik choice bits of beef and avocado, take him for gentle walks down scenic paths. He’ll touch Erik with fine silks and finer cottons. He’ll cushion Erik even where Erik has nothing to spare to cushion himself.
His thoughts all scatter – Erik rolls over and hauls him close for morning kisses, one hand at Charles’s chin and the other… Charles laughs into his lover’s mouth. Erik has one hand planted firmly, gripping one plush cheek of Charles’s ass. His fingers flex. “Oh Charles, you are perfection.”
Charles has to agree. But it's more than that. "Together. It's the two of us together." There's no arguing with him - Charles is a genius, after all.