Terms of Endearment
The first time it happens, Charles doesn't notice what he's saying until he's already said it.
“Erik, darling, could you open this window, please? I think it's jammed,” he says, looking over his shoulder to where Erik is unpacking his bag on his bed. When Erik doesn't react immediately, he puts on his best puppy eyes and prepares to pout as soon as Erik looks at him.
Erik turns around and gives him a flat stare, waves a hand; the window slides open.
“What?” Charles asks, confused, when Erik keeps giving him the bitch face.
“Darling?” Erik says, raising his eyebrows.
It takes a few seconds for Charles to realize what Erik's talking about and remember exactly what he said. He's not sure if he wants to be embarrassed or amused. He ends up laughing. Erik keeps staring at him for a few more seconds, before he cracks a smile, too, shakes his head and turns around to continue unpacking.
“I didn't even notice I said it!” Charles defends himself when he can breathe again. Erik lets out a sound that can only be a snort, but doesn't comment further.
The second time it happens, Charles knows exactly what he's saying.
“I... Er. Sorry,” Erik apologizes, stepping away and removing his hands from Charles' hips.
Charles swallows down an utterly undignified whine at the lack of contact before he opens his eyes to look at Erik. He can feel Erik's confusion and the mild panic attack he's holding at bay with his mind, catches the thought he doesn't want me like that, screwed up, damn it, but Erik has his poker face on, only looks a little rumpled, with slightly swollen lips and hair somewhat messed up; the only thing that's giving him away is the way he keeps glancing around, as if looking for an escape route. Charles rolls his eyes.
“Oh, come back here, you idiot,” he says with a grin, grabbing Erik's wrist and pulling him close again to press another kiss to Erik's cheekbone and run his hands through Erik's hair. Erik relaxes as soon as Charles' arms wrap around his neck.
“Only you can make idiot sound like a term of endearment,” he mumbles into the soft skin of Charles' neck and Charles would laugh, or reply, but he's too busy moaning.
The first time it happens in front of someone else, Charles thinks Erik might spontaneously combust from embarrassment. Charles is not far behind.
“Hand me that, would you, sweetheart?” he says, waving a hand at the bowl of popcorn on the coffee table that he can't reach. Then it hits him that he called Erik sweetheart. In front of the kids. Fuck. He looks at Erik whose eyes are wide and mouth slightly open; in the room only lit by the grey TV screen, he can't be sure, but he thinks Erik's blushing. Charles definitely is, furiously, he can feel his ears burning.
“What did you just call him?” Angel asks in a high-pitched voice, through a mouthful of snacks.
“I did not need to know,” Raven squeaks, hiding behind her hands. Alex and Hank look decidedly uncomfortable and Sean is choking on his soda because he can't stop laughing.
Charles looks at Erik apologetically, grabs a cushion from the sofa and presses it to his face. Of all the ways he's wanted to tell the kids about him and Erik, this was the last on the list. Scratch that, this wasn't even on the list. Sean is still laughing. Charles concedes that it is sort of funny. In fact, it would be hilarious if it were happening to someone else.
Then Erik chuckles and puts his hand on Charles' forearm, and only then, yeah, it is pretty funny. Charles smiles into the pillow.
The first time it happens in bed, Charles instantaneously wishes he had more control over his mouth.
Erik's been driving him absolutely insane, fingering him and blowing him at the same time until Charles was forced to reach deep into his own mind and stop himself from coming. He's just considering taking over Erik's body and making him do something other than drive him mad with lust, when Erik finally, finally, starts pushing into him, a slow and steady slide and Charles could cry from how good it feels.
“Oh, honey, that's perfect, keep doing that,” he gasps, but Erik freezes and frowns down at him. Charles groans in frustration and squeezes around Erik's cock. “Move,” he commands; Erik snorts, his expression morphing into something between amusement and bewilderment.
“Where are you from, Texas?” Erik says, lowering his head to nip at Charles' lip.
Charles opens his mouth to ask what?, but then Erik pushes all the way in and all that leaves Charles' mouth is an incomprehensible “Hnnnnng.”
“Don't call me that again,” Erik warns, punctuating every word with a hard thrust, making Charles gasp and arch his back.
By the time Charles comes that night, sticky and messy between their upper bodies, he can't for the life of him remember what it was that he said, but he hopes it comes back to him, because he sure as hell wouldn't mind a repeat of that night.
The only time Erik asks, Charles has no idea what to reply.
“And how was your day, dear?” Charles asks as he leans over the counter he's reading on and kisses the corner of Erik's mouth. “You weren't too terrible to the kids I hope?” he teases, sliding one hand under Erik's tracksuit and gently caressing his sweaty skin with his thumb. Erik cocks his head a little to kiss back softly, running a hand over Charles' side.
“Why do you call me that?” Erik hums against Charles' lips, his other hand coming to rest on Charles' back. “You do that quite a bit.”
Charles flushes a little – he didn't notice the slip, even though Erik doesn't sound annoyed, merely entertained, curious. Charles ponders the question, thinks about it as Erik continues pressing light, chaste kisses over his face, but finds that he doesn't really have an answer. It just... happens, naturally, most of the time he's not even aware he's calling Erik something different. It doesn't really mean much to him, he could do without it, but he likes it, likes showing Erik his love in the small things, details, pet names.
“I can stop, if you like?” Charles offers, deflecting. He's not sure of his reasons himself, and he thinks that sharing what little he's sure of, might scare Erik off, so he figures it's better if he doesn't say anything.
“No, I—“ Erik starts, but then cuts himself off, biting his lip. Charles kisses it instead. Erik nudges their foreheads together almost shyly, then thinks I like it. Don't stop, at him. It's still unusual for Erik to willingly open up to Charles' power, it still gives Charles a little start, but it's always the good kind, the kind that has him giddy with excitement over the trust they're building between them. Charles' surprise at Erik's way of communicating quickly grows into elation and he kisses Erik more soundly, thinks I love you, back at him before he can even reconsider it. Erik smiles. “Just... not sweetheart. Or honey. Or sugar. Or anything sweet for that matter It's...” Embarrassing, he finishes mentally, but Charles can still feel him smiling.
“Okay, darling,” he settles, kissing Erik's nose and pulling away.
“Darling's fine. And dear. I can live with that,” Erik replies with a grin, releasing Charles.
“Oh, I'm so glad you can cope with my bouts of affection,” Charles says, rolling his eyes. Then Erik kisses his hand, and Charles has to be closer to him again, Anna Karenina be damned.
The first time it happens to Erik, Charles is stunned.
It's just another spring evening, not a special occasion at all, and they're having their customary “family” dinner, discussing if they should open the school that fall or wait another year, talking about redoing Raven's room and arguing whose turn it is to wash the dishes.
“How did you like the potatoes?” Charles asks once everyone is finished. “I was trying a new recipe.” There's a general murmur of approval around the table that makes Charles smile proudly. He may make the biggest mess in the kitchen, but at least his food is edible (unlike Sean's, which nearly gave them all food poisoning last week).
“The whole dinner was delicious, love,” Erik says casually, and everyone is suddenly silent. Charles blinks a few times, not sure if he heard it right. Erik never calls him anything other than Charles, especially not in front of the kids. He's pretty sure he's blushing and that his mouth is a little open, and he knows he's giving Erik an utterly besotted look, but he can't bring himself to care right now.
Raven groans the way she always does when they display any hint of their relationship in front of her (younger sister's prerogative, she argues when Charles points it out), Alex coughs awkwardly, Sean giggles, Angel whistles and Hank studiously ignores everything that's happening.
“You called me love,” Charles comments dumbly, finding his voice again and grinning like a madman.
“Did I?” Erik replies, but his thoughts in Charles' mind say I know. He smirks at Charles' probably ridiculous expression and Charles leans in to kiss him. He's not sure, but he thinks the awwwww feeling he's picking up on is coming from Raven. He smiles against Erik's lips.