He is what she wants, not what she should have. And she can convince herself that she doesn't like him at all but his Oxford smile reminds her of a time when she isn't fighting her way through the mocking wolf whistles from all the recruits twice her size.
Moira knows what she wants to do, and also, exactly what she has to do.
Because one misstep and they can tear her apart from limb to limb. Hard work falling from the desperate grasp she has always had on it.
So when she finally makes the first move, lean in when his smile reminds her of a boy she once liked but lost the courage to kiss when it has been her move to make, she doesn't give herself the satisfaction of regret.
Her mind welcomes his easy intrusion almost as though she has done this her entire life: showing and giving and handing everything she has ever known to Charles. It is her trust that makes him kiss her back, almost twice as hard and three times the enthusiasm.
She isn't taken back at all.
Moira tastes wine on his tongue and feels the arch of his smile against her lips. He tucks a lock of auburn behind her ear and there are colours in her eyes when she pulls back lightly. She rests her forehead against his and murmurs a silent thank you in her mind.
Because she can see and when she does, she sees them in shades of vibrant hues that finally distort them into something more manageable.
It is different, and not at all.
He is done with this.
Division X and men in suits hiding behind their desks with official documents marked up in red. The place is metal encased with concrete, each edge straight and cutting, like a straightforward maze begging him to run the course. But he is no longer the lab rat strapped into his situation. He is the experiment, trailing disaster everywhere he crosses, running home to burn his horrors to the roots.
Erik grips the doorknob and moulds his fingerprints into the metal. He likes to think he has a choice and this is all him, and no one else. And the molecules are still warm before he quickly smoothes it over until it is stainless silver once more.
But it all sort of washes into an unrecognizable grey when that man convinces him without force, holds a non-existent ceramic knife to his throat and asks with all the right words for him to stay.
When he turns back, Charles is standing with his hands tucked inside the pockets of his pants. Leaning, almost nonchalant, on one leg before shifting all his weight on to the other. His eyes aren't pleading and he is no longer talking any more.
But. Erik knows, of course he knows.
He recognizes that look, from a young boy from before the war, one who hasn't known about that dormant gene that will keep him alive but tortured for nights beyond the camps. A nice Jewish boy who once knew love.
It is mutual, and not at all.
He knows he should look her way.
But he always find his fingertips pressing, a touch longer than society approves, against the pulse of his wrist. His eyes lingering when the break should be clean and sharp like a metal knife to soft skin. But the blade never really touches, just grazes until goose bumps rise over the skin before they both draw away. Reluctant.
And it is always ambiguous.
He tries not to let it bother him. But that all comes to an end when he asks him to stay.
"If you know what is good for you—"
Charles cuts in, "I don't want what is good for me."
Because neither is good for the other when they are honest about it. But honesty is hard to come by, especially when he has Erik's shirt fisted in his hands. Eyebrows furrowed into something that is finally not a sweet Oxford smile or a drunken dance of the eyes.
And even when they are surrounded by Division X's sharp concrete walls and cameras narrowing its lens at them at the corner of each turn of the hall, he can still see his mother standing at the top of the stairs again. Perfect fingers wrapped loosely around the neck of a bottle as she stares down at him with half-lidded eyes bleary with disappointment and just the beginning glimmers of anger.
Of why can't you be better than this?
He bans her into a corner, just ways from the Markos and hopes she can drink herself into an early grave once more. She isn't what he needs and he needs to stop living in her shadow as elegant as it once was.
But that isn't what this is about. This is about wanting, just that simple desire that lingers on longing. In the long run, it can be more (it can be love) but right now, it is nothing but a yearning to have, and not even to keep.
"I," he falters because admittedly, he has never done this sort of thing, "don't tell me otherwise, Erik." I don't know what I'll do.
And when he has him slammed up against a corner of the grey room, licking at his lips with a vicious glint of his own, he knows that he is all for him. And there is never another way around that.