There was still a long list of mutants that they didn’t reach, and one was conveniently near the mansion—but he did not expect to see double, nor to throw up because of the resulting storm of emotions.
Brandon's number is much lower than Erik's. It takes Charles a while to realize that it is most likely because of the gate, because of Shaw.
They never have a problem figuring out who is who; Brandon and Erik both walk with a sort of predatory gait, but Brandon is more wary, more vulnerable, human. Brandon wears much more comfortable things, wool to Erik’s leather…
Though no one ever thinks that Brandon is weak. Except for where he is.
After everyone experiences the twins' version of an argument, they understand Erik in a new light; his emotions flare because he has to decode them, experience them richly and intensely before being able to pinpoint why they exist. They cloud his judgment in the meanwhile, taking him to paths that don't quite align with what he truly thinks.
With Brandon around to push through them faster, as an empath allowed to use his power 'on' Erik... it's as if there was no disagreement to begin with.
It makes him uneasy, the few times that it happened, and he can’t put his finger on why.
Where Erik has tempered himself into a blade, something sharp and deadly, Brandon is something not quite soft- his mind is just as much as a minefield, but instead of launching shrapnel at other people, it imbeds into his own flesh.
Sissy to Brandon is what Raven is to Charles, only if the wires were switched.
They approach sex in the same way, for different reasons. Brandon fucks as if he's both running away from and towards something that happened after leaving Erik and before leaving Sissy… something that Charles can’t quite put his finger on due to a mix of his moral code and Brandon’s evasiveness, his power.
Erik knows how fleeting everything is, particularly his family. There’s no point in laying roots if something is going to give in a matter of days or weeks—
That doesn't stop them from moving in an eerie harmony, finely tuned thrusts that tear Charles apart at the seams. They grab and demand and take, Erik with a bit more love than loathing, and Brandon more willing to hurt.
Charles still isn't sure in which capacity Brandon hurts – his mind is still a battlefield, but Brandon is the one who pins him down and fucks him to the edge of pain, all while Charles throws his mind at Erik, wherever he may be, begging to be ruined.
Brandon seems to do much better in this environment – Brandon seems to do much better near his brother. Charles isn’t sure if he misses the anger that used to lurk underneath everything Erik would do, but he does feel a tinge of his own resentment.
Brandon is ‘safe’, he is not, and it just isn’t fair.
Charles is left with the impression of the brothers holding hands, and merely being close to one another – it feels like an intrusion on his part.
Raven looks different in a way that only a brother can tell, and he’s positive it is because he had unintentionally found Brandon in her bed. The thought of her allowing him to use his powers makes Charles retreat to whiskey and slam the doors of his hospitality on Erik, on everyone.
Brandon never returns to him for sex after that. He chalks it up to coincidence. But he never goes astray from Raven, which is surprising for what he has admitted to before.
Which is what healing should be, but he’s allowed his pettiness behind closed doors, closed eyes.
“I kept him company,” Brandon says to Charles’ turned back, “I manifested in the middle of Schmidt’s – Shaw’s – experiments, but he was too busy with Erik to even notice.
“I smoothed his pain, I eased him as much as I could—
“I can understand his hate for me, because he has so many reasons to.”
He finds himself to be more aggressive when they are alone together, though he doubts that Erik truly notices the difference. There’s no reason for Erik to leave his side at night, other than to soothe whatever ache should happen in their household, and it gives him a selfish thrill if he were to be honest. Charles has cut himself on that blade, and would do it over and over again if it meant being loved in such a capacity.
The only time that there seems to be no difference is when they put on their suits; both of them have black collars, both of them are way too lean to properly fill out the straps, both of them cut the same menacing figure.
Erik has an edge to his eyes, scar on his upper lip. Brandon is resigned to something that no one can put their finger on.
There is an elation that Charles would have never expected to read off of Brandon, though it makes sense, Shaw was their tormentor.
(Or – he thinks as quietly to himself as he possibly can, throwing the thought as far underneath the structures of his mind as he can, as soon as he realizes it – that Erik’s emotions are overriding Brandon’s, that though they were separate, they weren’t— as if it were back to the beginning, but Charles is still the one reeling, the one throwing up, the one who suffers.)
It isn’t hard for the others to tell that Brandon doesn’t agree with his brother, but that he refuses to leave his side.
(That thought isn’t as firmly buried as he had hoped.)
Brandon is the reason that Raven stays, the reason why Erik never wears Shaw’s helmet, the reason why no one comes under debilitating harm…
(Erik has broken something within him; his powers feel strange in his mind and on his tongue.
He’s not sure if it is something that can be salvaged. He feels as if he’s leaking, forcing everyone else to feel the emptiness where Erik used to reside—)
The coin has no 'tails,' he finds.