"Come dance with me," Charles says.
Erik puts the flyer advertising a party someone put into his hand away and raises an eyebrow. "I thought you don't like contemporary music."
"I don't, not for recreation." Charles sits down cross-legged in a right angle to Erik, eyes wide and blue and eager. He looks irresistible and Erik wants to lean in to kiss him, but he's not sure of them yet, even if Charles does seem to like him as well.
"I like it when it has a purpose, though," Charles continues, and Erik forcefully pries his gaze away from his lips, stops wondering how they would feel, taste.
"What purpose?", he asks, curious despite himself. He himself isn't much for the sort of music that guaranteed will be played at the party; it's not really his scene either.
Charles leans in as if he's about to impart a secret. "Rolling your hips," he murmurs, voice low.
Maybe Erik should have kissed him earlier after all. Maybe he should do it now. He's just about to gather all his courage, lean in and just do it when somebody else joins them, dropping their bag noisily.
"Oh!", Moira exclaims, eyeing the flyer in the grass in front of Erik. "Are you going to the party?"
With regret, Erik pulls back from where he's already started to lean in to Charles, but not before he sees a similar emotion in Charles' eyes. "Yes," he replies despite himself. It's really not his scene, neither the music nor most of the company nor the gathering to drink alcohol itself, but he is rather interested in this rolling hips thing Charles mentioned.
This is why, four days later, Erik stands in a crowd, forgotten plastic cup of something indefinable and alcoholic in his hand, feeling (and likely looking) completely blindsided. Charles is on the dance floor; the music is loud and rhythmic, really not to Erik's taste, but right now he would do anything to not make it stop. Charles is absolutely, there is no better word for it that Erik can think of right now, gorgeous. He's clearly completely lost in the hypnotic beat, eyes closed and hands floating aimlessly in the air, sometimes brushing over his own body, but his whole focus, the centre of him seems focused on the middle of his body. Hips gyrating, swaying back and forth and from side to side, rolling hypnotically, Charles steals Erik's breath and makes his blood rush through his veins hot and fast.
Erik is completely captivated, unable to look away; people bump into him and complain loudly about his completely motionless, but he barely notices and cares less.
"It's good, isn't it?", a voice purrs in his ear, pulling him out of his daze. Erik twitches and looks at Moira, flushed and confused and vaguely disoriented. With a self-satisfied smile, Moira nods towards Charles, who is self-forgotten and somehow wholly separate from the crowd he's submerged in, even while he moves to the same beat they move to.
"When he first did this, he pulled everybody along with him." Moira is standing close again, speaking in Erik's ear. It's necessary, the music is loud, but Erik gets the feeling it's a bit more too. It makes him uncomfortable, want to shift away, but he wants to know what she's telling him, so he leans a little towards her in return. Not enough to seem interested in her, but just enough so she won't stop talking about Charles. Moira's mouth tightens for a moment, and then she says, "Couldn't shield properly. Makes you wonder what gets in, with all that gets out."
Erik narrows his eyes. "He's learning. He's a telepath, they aren't born with shields. He's doing magnificently."
Finally, Moira lets the frown that has been lurking behind her expression surface. She makes as if to say something but gives up halfway through, sneers and stalks away. Frowning himself, Erik turns back to the dance floor only to find it devoid of Charles.
Frown deepening, Erik looks around, but he sees no trace of him. Disgruntled now and a tiny bit worried – he hadn't yet said hello to Charles, it's possible he doesn't even know Erik is here – Erik starts to look for him. First in the kitchen (Charles might have gotten hungry or thirsty, but he isn't there) and then all the available rooms downstairs; many doors are wisely locked, including the one leading to the first floor, and Charles is nowhere to be found. Erik gets both more worried and more annoyed as he makes his way outside to continue his search. There are some people in the garden, even though it's dark in an obvious effort to deter them; Erik tries not to look at them or their activities too closely. His belly churns at the thought of Charles being one of them, but just when he's about to go back inside and maybe leave (though the idea of giving up is galling), he spots a lone figure further out, back to the house. Slowly, he starts walking towards the figure, trying to make out their clothes in the dark in the hope he'll recognize Charles, but all he can see is that they're dark. Like Charles', he remembers; Charles was wearing a dark green t-shirt and midnight blue jeans. Erik has never seen him in such casual clothes; usually Charles prefers non-jeans pants and button-down shirts with long sleeves. Often, he even wears a cardigan, shrugging and citing low blood pressure when somebody comments upon how unfashionable he is. Erik finds it adorable and strangely irresistible.
The figure doesn't turn around as Erik approaches, even though they must hear him as the noise of the party fades the closer Erik gets. When he has almost reached them, he's mostly sure it's Charles; the weak moonlight gleams coldly on his wavy hair, dulling and distorting the color, but there's something about his stance, the set of his shoulders that Erik recognizes.
"Charles?", he asks, stopping about a step away.
"Oh, it's you," Charles says listlessly, not turning around. A shiver not entirely born from the cool temperature chases down Erik's back – Charles seems normally so energetic. This is wrong.
"What's wrong?", Erik asks before he can think any more about it – he doesn't usually ask this sort of question, mostly because he doesn't want to be asked himself. If he wants to talk about something, he will; if he doesn't, he doesn't want to be asked all the time, no matter how he looks. That's how he tries to keep it with other people too.
Startled, Charles turns half around. "Nothing," he says, face guileless before softening with something Erik can't identify. "I'm sorry, I was distracted. Was there something you wanted?" Turning around fully, he looks at Erik expectantly; his expression is difficult to make out in the dark.
Erik frowns. "To see you," he says bluntly. Charles is the only reason he's here for, after all, Charles and his hips. Earlier, he was convinced the hips alone were worth it, but the way Charles is acting right now is starting to overshadow that. "You asked me to come," Erik emphasizes when Charles just blinks at him dumbly.
Charles blinks again; he's clearly startled. "But I thought you- Moira-" He stops and stares at Erik.
After a moment, Erik grows impatient of waiting for him to form a coherent sentence; he has no idea what's going on. "What about Moira?"
Charles bites his lip. "You only said you'd come after she asked you," he says hesitantly. "And earlier, you were flirting-"
"Oh for god's sake," Erik grinds out, completely appalled. Moira? Seriously? Not if she were the last girl on the planet. Completely out of patience, he throws away the stupid plastic cup he had still been holding and steps right up to Charles. "I'm going to kiss you now," he informs him roughly. When Charles doesn't protest, Erik leans in and presses his lips to Charles'.
It's awkward at first; Charles is trembling slightly, and Erik has barely any practice at this. But no matter how imperfect, it still sends Erik's heart racing, chases the breath out of his lungs, and that's before Charles leans in, the pressure of their lips on each other increasing. Charles' lips are soft and warm and rather dizzying; moist, as if he's been chewing on them. Erik wants to do that too, suck the lower lip in between his, rub the tip of his tongue over the swell of it, but he doesn't yet know if he is allowed.
All too soon, they pull apart; Charles looks stunned and breathless, pretty much how Erik feels.
"I'm not interested in Moira," is the only thing Erik can think of to say after a moment.
"I think I'm getting that," Charles replies faintly. He looks a little dazed, and Erik wants to touch his flushed cheek, feel how warm the skin there is, so he does. And Charles just keeps staring at him, breathing deep and slow, eyes wide. It makes Erik feel insecure after a moment, and he drops his hand.
"Charles?", he asks quietly.
"I'm just... re-arranging in my head," Charles tells him after a moment. "I really thought you were interested in Moira, especially after earlier." He ducks his head self-consciously. "It made me feel rather stupid, actually."
"We were talking about you," Erik reveals, unsure whether Charles is jealous or not. "I… watched you."
The flush of Charles' cheeks intensifies. Erik looks at him searchingly for a moment, takes in the insecure way Charles licks his lips, and then he makes an offer he's been thinking about for a while. "Come look."
Charles gasps and his eyes widen. "You don't mean that," he says, voice almost pleading; he takes a step backwards as if to physically remove himself from temptation.
"I do," Erik disagrees firmly. He knows what this is. "Charles, I do." Charles shakes his head, avoiding his eyes and looking vaguely panicked. If it weren't for the yearning plain on his face for just a moment before he hides it, Erik would drop it, but it's clear Charles wants this; he's just scared. "I'm in control," he reassures Charles gently. "You won't see anything I'm not letting you see because I want to. It's part of my abilities."
For a moment, Charles just stares at him, face white and the conflict in him clearly visible in his wide eyes.
"Try," Erik eventually suggests. "Gently, so you wouldn't hurt me if I weren't able to protect myself. Go on." He deliberately doesn't strengthen his shields because he's curious too. Charles keeps staring at him for what feels for a long time. Eventually, finally, Erik feels a fluttering at the edge of the sphere he curls his thoughts into, skittish and delicate like dragonfly wings. Charles' eyes widen, and the pressure increases infinitesimally before it vanishes.
"You're hidden," Charles says, voice full of disbelief.
Erik doesn't deign to reply, just smiles before opening his head, bringing the memory of his conversation with Moira to the front. He doesn't hide anything about it, not the thrum of arousal from watching Charles nor the faint annoyance at being here. Parties really are not his style.
"Again," he all but demands; Charles' isn't even trying to hide the yearning anymore, and Erik can't bear the thought of him so completely cut off from everybody, so against his nature. He wants Charles in his head, has been wanting that for a while now. Not permanently, not deeply, but he wants him.
Charles smiles at him, hungry and tentative and thrilled, and falls right into Erik's head. They both gasp; Charles' tentative overtures earlier weren't nearly as intimate as this, as Erik letting him nest in his thoughts, memories, if only a fraction of them. It's shallow but no less intimate for it; Erik knows that the echoes of his thoughts upon seeing Charles dance are still swinging through in the conversation with Moira, as are the deeper undertones of his general attraction to Charles beyond the physical. He doesn't hide any of it, not this nor his discomfort with Moira; there was an indefinable pettiness in her words that Erik can't quite discern but nevertheless sense. In Charles, her words clearly strike a chord, hurt him, and Erik feels a spark of anger towards her.
"It's alright," Charles murmurs; the sound of his voice pulling Erik back into his own head as Charles seeps out of his, separating them gently. "She's just disappointed and jealous that you're not interested in her."
"That doesn't make it alright," Erik disagrees shortly.
Charles looks at him searchingly, the last tendrils of him retreating gently from Erik's mind. "I don't need you to protect me."
This surprises Erik. "I know." Of course Charles can take care of himself. Anybody who thinks he's helpless just because he's restrained is a complete idiot.
Pulling up his shoulders, Charles explains, "People just tend to want to protect me, especially my brother."
Erik raises an eyebrow, wondering if this is a sort of concealed warning. Cain had been staring at Erik with narrowed eyes recently. Erik is an older brother himself; he can somewhat relate. But he knows perfectly well that Charles can take care of himself – he's a telepath, for god's sake, and the strongest Erik has ever met to boot. "I know," he thus says again, raising an eyebrow. Charles was born with his ability fully active and had to learn to shield out of self-preservation very early on, and he's perfectly sane and healthy today. He can't be anything but strong, able to take care of himself, no matter how easy his life might have been – and Erik can't get rid of the feeling that it hasn't been all picnics and tea parties, though he can't really pin down why.
"Okay, good," Charles says, looking strangely relieved. Then his face takes on a hopefully expression. "Can we do the kissing again?"
Erik doesn't bother replying with words, just leans in and presses his grin to Charles'.