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This is not exactly, precisely, a walk of shame. It isn't, because Charles has nothing to be ashamed of. He's just a bit confused, not quite sure how last night happened.


"Mingle a little," Raven tells Charles. It's August 15th, the third summer session is over, he has until Wednesday to get all his grades in, and there's still a week before fall semester starts at Elion. He was tempted by the thought of a holiday, brief though it might have been, but the responsible thing to do would probably be to grade his papers, sort out his syllabus, and catch up on some reading. Maybe even work on his own book, if he gets things done quickly enough.

A holiday would have at least gotten him out of this party, which is a welcome thought at the moment. He didn't mind the idea of another MEOI fundraiser, but when the real point of this gala turned out to be having the MEOI Volunteer Of The Year show off her newfound soulmate... Charles wishes now that he'd begged off with a headache.

"Mingling is really not my speed tonight, sorry," Charles says. Raven gives him a squeeze and heads off, deeper into the party; he's glad someone's here to put a public face on the Xavier Foundation, because right now he wishes he could disappear to the bar and stay there. Tony's not even coming; there will be at least nine million years of toasts and people clinking glasses so the celebrating couple will kiss, and Charles will have to weather it alone.

Well, not entirely alone. Raven's here, Alex and Armando are coming later on, and when things get truly miserable-- or more likely, just awkward-- Raven will shove him into a cab and send him home. But until then, he has to smile, and he has to look like he's having a good time, and he has to greet all the celebrity mutants like Warren Worthington III and Jamie Braddock and the others who are putting this party not just in gossip blogs like ontd_mutants, but the actual society pages.

He's just about to get himself a scotch when he feels something prickling around the edges of his consciousness. Someone's looking at him. If it were just a glance, he might not have picked up on it, but this is more than that: this is singular, interested attention, directed squarely at him. This is personal.

And how strange is that; Charles isn't so self-deprecating as to deny the fact that he does manage to attract people now and then, but this sort of personal interest is the kind of thing he only ever reads from someone so zeroed in on a particular other person that no one else in the room exists. It makes no sense. The only person who might feel this way about Charles, sight unseen... obviously didn't, or he'd be here, with Charles, instead of God knows where doing God knows what with God knows whom, anyone but me, that's what it is, isn't it... you could have at least met me first.

Maybe he should have stayed home; he can't really imagine how this night is going to manage to end well.

At least someone out there's interested in him, even if ey's not coming over to say hello. Fine, then; Raven told him to mingle, maybe he'll find out who it is, if ey's up for scening... or more likely, drunken, maudlin company. Or basic with a side of scotch.

As he tunes in to that sense of focus, he pauses, though, because it isn't just simple attraction. There is attraction, but it's more than that... resentment? Jealousy? What a confusing mess of emotions. Too complicated for Charles, for tonight, anyway; no thanks...

He's headed for the bar when someone intercepts him, puts a hand on his arm. "Hey."

Charles looks at him-- not up at him for a change, the man who stopped him is only an inch or two taller than he is. He's Asian, with perfectly-styled everything: perfect hair, perfect suit, as stunningly good-looking in person as he has been in every movie and television series Raven's tried to show Charles over the last few years.

"Hello," Charles says, turning slightly to take his arm out of the other man's grip.

"Jason Wyngarde," says the man, not that Charles needed the introduction. He offers Charles a handshake, and when Charles takes him up on it, his hand is cool and his grip is firm. Not crushing, just solid.

"Charles Xavier."

"Yeah." Jason looks him up and down, and there it is again, all that confusing interest, garden-variety lust caught up with...what? Some kind of heat, something, Charles isn't at all sure what it is, but he's starting to shore up his shields now, trying not to dig into those moods. It isn't easy; Jason's practically smoldering with all the things he's thinking, feeling. "How long do you need to stay here for appearance's sake?"

Charles actually does a double-take, and he's tempted to glance behind himself, too. It is, after all, not every day that the hottest out mutant actor of the day comes right out and propositions him. He has a sudden crazed notion that he should ask for an autograph now, in case this doesn't go well; Jason is obviously a dominant, and he's probably mistyping Charles and thinking Charles will happily kneel for a... really, really gorgeous dominant with star power, beautiful full lips, dark brown eyes that radiate intelligence...

"I'm not a sub," Charles says, finally.

"I know." Jason lifts his eyebrows. "Didn't come over here thinking you were."

Charles tilts his head, frowning for a moment. "No...?"

"But if my not being a sub puts you off," and Jason's bristling now, "I mean, you don't know, right? I could be a switch, I could be unoriented. You wouldn't go up to someone's room if ey was unoriented?"

Feeling like he's three steps behind in this conversation, Charles shakes his head. "No-- wait, I mean-- yes, I would, I've happily scened with people of every orientation, I just, you're not, though, are you?" He backs up a step, drawing his hand out of Jason's grip, looking him over from head to foot. "Or are you?"

"I'm not, actually," Jason says. "Dominant. Always have been. But I still want to know if you feel like ditching this thing and going to my room with me."

This really, truly doesn't feel like it can be happening. Charles blinks a few times just to be sure he isn't hallucinating. "Do you play safe?"

A smirk slides onto Jason's face. "Boy, do you have me all wrong," he says. He raises his hands, though, not explaining that comment in the least, and says, "I am completely in favor of safe play. I use standard safewords, and if you're willing to let me use my ability in bed, that'll cover any non-verbal safeword I'd need. If you want to arrange a safe call, please do. Anything goes wrong, you know exactly who I am, you could easily find me. But I don't have anything particularly complicated or edgy in mind. I just want to fuck you."

Charles takes another deep breath. "We'd need to negotiate up to that," he says, just to stand his ground. It's not that he has any issue with bottoming, and it's certainly not that he wouldn't enjoy having Jason fuck him... but too many dominants see the issue of penetration as emblematic of domination and submission as a whole, as if topping is domination, bottoming is submission. If that's what Jason thinks he's getting away with, negotiation is definitely called for.

But Jason nods, shrugs, digs a phone out of his pocket. "Since we're doing safe calls," he says, "let me just text my friend to let her know where I'm going."

"If you give me a moment, I'll do the same," Charles says, and he presses his fingers to his temple and reaches out. «Raven? It's me, I'm heading out.»

«Charles, what. No! You just got here!»

«I'm very sorry, but Jason Wyngarde has just asked me if I'd like to disappear to his room with him--»

«WHAT WHAT BULLSHIT, YOU ARE MAKING THAT UP»

Jason's looking at Charles with both eyebrows raised again. Charles shakes his head. "I'm just arranging my safe call with my sister."

"Huh," Jason says. "You're either a telepath, then, or you're the best ventriloquist I've ever seen." He pauses. "And even then you'd need enhanced hearing, too."

"Right the first time," Charles says, lifting an eyebrow of his own. "Is that a problem?"

"Not even a little," Jason says. "Just means we should probably negotiate more stuff than me getting to fuck you."

"I don't just arbitrarily read minds," Charles immediately cuts in, frowning now. "And if you don't want me to read you, then please just say so, I promise not to carry on the rest of the night pouting. You wouldn't be the first person who values the--" he tries not to be sarcastic about this, he really does-- "sanctity of eir thoughts."

And just like that, a bright banner flashes into life over Jason's head. It's a Mutant Pride banner, with the words MUTANT AND PROUD emblazoned all over it. Jason's got his chin tilted up, eyes narrowed, every bit as defensive as Charles.

"Baseline humans get to look at each other, listen to each other, smell, taste, touch. You're a psionic. You should get to use your mind. I'm an illusionist, I should get to put my thoughts and feelings out there for people to see and feel. You know how often I get to throw off fireworks when I'm having a particularly great scene?"

Charles is a little too distracted by the full-out sense of what Jason's power really means to answer his question. He's heard of it, of course. Everyone in the mutant community who's heard of Jason Wyngarde knows about Jason's ability. Jason's an illusionist, but his illusions don't show up on camera-- only people who are in the same physical vicinity as he is can ever see them. He doesn't do them at live theater performances, either; he's said in interviews that he's generally forbidden from doing them by the venues themselves, for fear of being sued by someone who has a bad reaction-- not that anyone ever has, he's always gone on to say.

But here, seeing that banner live and in person, Charles is awestruck. It really is as though a cloth banner is floating just above Jason's head, and it's not a new banner; it's a little tattered down at the lower edge, Charles can see the frayed threads and the loose seam. He can see it ripple and wave, just like a real banner would, and he can hear it, too, the slight rustle of fabric as it blows in the industrial-strength air conditioning. He can feel those same air conditioning currents moving through the air, now that he notices; he can see that the motion really does correspond to the air currents in this room.

And then he realizes what he's looking at-- a MUTANT AND PROUD banner-- and what Jason said.

Just means we should probably negotiate more stuff than me getting to fuck you... You're a psionic. You should get to use your mind... You know how often I get to throw off fireworks when I'm having a particularly great scene?

"I think," Charles says, "I'm willing to try for those fireworks, if you are."

Jason's grin turns a little cocky, the teasing glimpse of a dimple flashing for a brief instant in his right cheek, and he lifts a hand, snaps his fingers, makes the MUTANT AND PROUD banner disappear in a puff of smoke. It's replaced, briefly, by glowing neon letters that read BRING IT, but while the crowd around them is clapping at the banner and its disappearance, no one's reacting to BRING IT.

No one but Charles. Oh, that's interesting, too. That is very, very interesting...

Jason's aware of the crowd now, and he gives a little wave to the partygoers. To Charles, he murmurs, "Okay, sorry about that; I think I just delayed my departure by about half an hour while I smile at people and sign some autographs. You want to finish up arranging that safe call and meet me?" He slips a hand into his pocket, totally unconcerned that anyone's watching-- no one is watching, which is a bit odd-- and pulls his room keycard out of his wallet, handing it over. Still no one's reacting to that; Charles glances around, surprised.

"This isn't very subtle..."

"Oh, we're blanked. Unless someone around here is immune to my illusions or an Omega-level telepath-- I cranked it up to max, you never know-- people are just seeing you standing there, and I'm smiling and bullshitting about how my illusions work. You, on the other hand, are getting the real thing." Jason nods at the keycard, now in Charles's hand. "And you'll get more in half an hour, or as soon as I can arrange it. If it's what you want."

What else can he possibly say? "Yes."


By the time Charles gets back to the townhouse in the morning, it occurs to him he should check last night's messages. Of course he texted Raven to say he was fine, that he'd be spending the night; on pain of death if she told anyone, he'd given her Jason's hotel room number, so that if he wasn't home by noon, she could track him down.

He does have messages; a few from Raven, various notes like [I can't believe you] and [Seriously, STILL? What is he, a tantric yoga practitioner?] and the quick followup [TELL MEEEEEE I REALLY WANT TO KNOW YOU SHOULD ASK HIM]. And at the end of the evening, [Seriously, Charles, good for you, I hope you're having a blast.]

He has one from Alex, and one from Armando. From Alex, [u left w/ JASON WYNGARDE r u KIDDING ME], and from Armando, [Dude! You couldn't have let him stick around long enough for me to get a yes or no on that MYA campaign? I've been trying to track that guy down for months!]

His Elion College email is full of students pestering him about grades, of course, but the last message received isn't from any of them. The blurb in his inbox reads [I wanted you...] -- and there he is, at the front door of the townhouse. Charles slips his phone back in his pocket, getting his keys out.

Once he's inside, Raven barrels down the stairs and stops short, looking at him. Charles coughs and smiles sheepishly; she just grins and grins and grins.

"Holy shit," Raven says. "You know your shirt's not even tucked in? And where's your tie?"

"Pocket," Charles says, reaching into his jacket pocket and fishing it out.

"Are you limping?"

"It's entirely possible."

"Tell me everything."

"I think that would be infringing on a fellow mutant's privacy," Charles says, but as he does, his phone chirps again. He glances at Raven and fetches it out, looking at the screen.

This time the blurb reads [Hope this wasn't...]

Charles gives Raven a just-a-moment wave and pulls up the full conversation.

[I wanted you to have my phone number. So here it is. If you want me to have yours, text me.] reads the first email, along with a Los Angeles-area code phone number. And the second one reads, [Hope this wasn't overstepping. Found your email address on the Elion website. If you don't want to get in touch, no hard feelings. Thanks for the fireworks. See you around.] Both are signed "JW", and the email address is jw@mastermind.com -- not the address Armando has for him, this must be a private address. Mastermind? Charles can't help a dubious little glance at his phone.

"Well?"

"Honestly?" Charles looks up at her. "I really have no idea."



The thing is, it's not like Jason can claim he never got the appeal. Sometimes those doms Erik used to hit on were really doing it for Jason, too; those freckles, the big eyes, and if the dom in question had a really pretty mouth-- and a lot of them did-- Jason could see finding something for it to do.

But he's sitting here emailing one of the motherfuckers after spending all night fucking the guy-- to say nothing of the morning-- and right about now, he's pretty sure he's not doing so great on the pathetic vs. not pathetic scale. He's pretty goddamned sure he left that line behind at the party, and if not, the hunt through Elion College's website for Charles's email address definitely sealed it. He probably isn't even checking that address; Jason doesn't think school is in session just yet.

His phone pings at him, unfamiliar New York number. He opens the message.

[You wanted my number. Here it is. --CX]

Jason really doesn't know what the fuck just happened, and the guy he'd normally call to talk about these things-- no. He puts his phone away and heads for the bathroom. A shower might clear his head. Or not.


It always catches Jason by surprise, the way he can't walk around in a mutant shindig without being stopped by fans and people who want autographs. He lives in a mutant suburb, kind of, out in L.A., but the thing about his apartment in L.A. is, he's never actually there. He's always working, or auditioning, or something, and he doesn't have time to get to know people.

So he's vaguely aware that his upstairs neighbor has wings, his across-the-hall neighbor is some kind of genius with numbers, and his downstairs neighbor has, God bless him, sound dampening abilities, which means he can practice his work as a DJ at any hour of the day or night and nobody complains. But he doesn't know them, and they don't act as if they know him.

And hardly any humans know him by name, even at industry events. Sometimes Jason's not even sure his own agent could pick him out of a lineup. But at parties like this, Jason gets star treatment. He smiles at the fourth, fifth, sixth person who comes up to him, asking for autographs; someone's found a stash of those hotel pads, because that's mostly what he ends up signing.

"Is it true you're not bonded?" someone asks, which, hi, personal question, how are you, but Jason's fielded worse-- he got asked a lot of questions about rope technique after his stint on 'The U Word', and he'll probably always get one or two questions about it in interviews. There are worse things.

"I have a bond," he says, "but we're not together."

"Oh, I'm so sorry."

"It's fine. Really."

It's a lot better than she deserves, but fuck it, he's not going to lie about what happened-- he feels weird enough giving out the lie-by-omission. But apparently it'll be bad for his career if he's seen as an embittered dom who can't handle the way his sub turned out not to fucking love him.

Whatever. It's good for his career if people think he's single. And he is, isn't he. After that. After Maine.

His soulmate won't accept him, and Erik didn't wait six fucking weeks before moving on and moving in with someone else.

Seriously, fuck everything.

He finishes as fast as he can, gets out as quickly as he can. And then he's heading upstairs, alone in the elevator, the inside of it shifting from its suffocating polished-steel interior to a grassy back lawn, his mom and dad's lawn from all the way back in Nebraska. He takes a step back, sits down on one of the swings in the swingset, and he's rocking calmly back and forth right up until there's a soft lurch, the one he let through, and the chime of the elevator reaching his floor.

He waits a couple of seconds and then exhales softly as he lets the illusion go. The elevator doors are already open, thank fuck. He has no idea how other people stand being shut up in little boxes like that. Elevators suck.

It's a long walk to his room, long enough for him to think twice about this. But he doesn't. He doesn't think about the why or the frustration and the jealousy; he might land as badly as Erik always does with guys like this. But what the hell, it's his life. He's got no one to answer to.

And so what he thinks when he approaches his door is a loud, well-formed, «Honey, I'm home,» and sure enough, the door to his hotel room pops open, Charles startled and sticking his head out to look.

"You've known other telepaths," Charles says. He doesn't just have an English accent, his pronunciation is so Received it almost sounds like a put-on. Seriously, who is this guy? "You already know how to project."

"Yeah," Jason says, leaning forward, resting his hand on the wall just outside the door. "When I was in college I found out I have to work harder to get my illusions to show up for psionics. So over the years I've been finding them whenever I get a chance, testing my own limits."

"Oh." Charles looks like a guy holding a puzzle piece, trying to work out if it actually fits into the hole he's trying to fill. "So that's why...?" He gestures at himself.

Jason shakes his head. "Nope."

Charles still looks confused; apparently he meant it when he said he doesn't read minds arbitrarily. Jason sighs. Probably just as well, because "I'm fucking you out of spite" isn't going to win Jason any points, and that's at least half true.

But hey, at least it's more than that. Charles is pretty. Charles is a mutant with a nice, compatible, challenging mutation. And Charles is here.

"What about you," Jason says, turning it around, "why are you here?"

Charles just blinks at him for a couple of seconds, and then gestures at Jason this time: down to the floor and up again. Like that's an answer.

Okay, it is an answer, and Jason tilts his head, fires a smile Charles's way. "Yeah, pretty much that for me, too." Pretty much, not completely; it's not a lie, it's just... delaying the truth until it matters less. Justify, justify, justify. Nice. He lets his arm down, rolls his shoulders back. "You going to invite me in?"

"It's your room," Charles points out.

"Yeah, it is." Jason raises his eyebrows. "You can always go back to the party."

"If it's a choice between having some sort of sex with a stunning mutant celebrity versus going back to the party, I think I can pass up the open bar," Charles says dryly, and he steps back and holds the door open.

Jason doesn't give him a chance to change his mind. He pushes inside, grabs Charles by the jacket and shoves him back a step, getting his hand off the door, getting him into the room. Charles starts to settle his stance, but Jason's got him against the wall now, and that was as far as he was going. He presses in, body-to-body, chest tight against Charles's, thigh against Charles's cock-- and the minute he makes that move, Charles matches it, pressing his thigh between Jason's legs, pressing hard. Jason hisses, but doesn't back off; if anything, he shifts his hips further forward, going for more.

"Some ground rules," Charles says, and oh, oh, he sounds so goddamn calm; Jason wants to fuck that calm out of him, leave the motherfucker wrecked. "I tell you to stop, and you stop. We're not doing consent play, it doesn't have to be a safeword or a slow word. Though if you hear one of those, you stop, as well."

"Okay," Jason murmurs, trying for the same calm tone. He thinks he nails it, but he probably won't know for sure until he sees the dailies. "Are you telling me to stop?"

"No," Charles says, winding one arm around Jason's waist and tugging him in closer. "I'm not up for pain-- receiving it, that is. Collateral damage is one thing, but don't treat me like a masochist. I'm not."

"Fine." Jason licks his lips, tempted to lick Charles's and see if he can rock him off his rhythm, but no, okay, Charles wants to be leading the negotiation; Charles can do that. Charles slides his hand down to Jason's ass, squeezing lightly.

"You can use your illusions if you want," Charles says quietly, and Jason actually draws back a little to look at him. "I presume you won't do anything threatening or actively detrimental to the scene..."

"Not on purpose, no," Jason says, "but if you've got imagery or symbols you're uncomfortable with, please tell me," oh fuck, there he goes, first to say please owes the other one a blowjob, but he wasn't kidding when he said it'd been a long time since he got to throw fireworks at the end of a great scene. He'd do a lot to have the fetters off. "Thunder, lightning, fireworks, shooting stars. Mostly sex goes with weather and astronomy in my head."

Charles loses his focus for a second, his eyes a little wide, that pretty pretty mouth of his curving up into a smile. "Could you do a whole environment? Because that makes it sound like you're used to scening in the rain, under the stars..."

Don't freak him out, do not freak him out. Are you gonna get what you want if he bolts? Tough question, Jason's still not completely sure what he wants, except that he's seen where dominants like this guy take Erik, he's seen Erik drop everything to get a minute's attention from doms who look like him, and who the fuck are you, who are you to get all that out of him without even having to try... show me, I want to know, show me what you've got, motherfucker... He's not going to fuck up his chance if he can help it.

Jason takes a breath, nods. "I don't go that far," he says. "I mean, I could. I could make it seem like it's pouring. It could feel like we're soaked, and you wouldn't even be wet after. But I wasn't thinking of that. Just." He tosses up a miniature peony firework, a simple burst of color in gold, complete with tiny soft sound effect-- the least of what he feels like when a scene's really good, but an example, with the scent of smoke following it once it's gone.

It doesn't look like Charles is freaked. Not at all. He licks his lips-- and okay, okay, fuck it. Jason bends his head down-- he telegraphs it first, there's no way Charles won't see this coming-- and he kisses Charles, rough, insistent, his tongue stroking against Charles's lips and then demanding more, looking to come inside.

Charles isn't about to be a passive partner, though, Jason can tell that right away. He kisses right back, hungry and intent, and he gets a hand up, grabs Jason by the tie and holds him still, holds him right there so Charles can lick into Jason's mouth as much as he wants, taste him, take over this kiss without even having to breathe hard for it.

Fuck. Jason can see why Erik would hit the ground so goddamned hard for a dom if he was like this.

He wrenches his thoughts off Erik, pulling them back to here-and-now. Erik is not here; Erik is in fucking Maine. Erik has no goddamned place in this room, and Jason surges back into the kiss, pushing back and catching Charles's hair, pinning his head gently but firmly back against the wall and swallowing the small, encouraging cry he earns for that move. Charles's thigh rubs hard against Jason's cock, and fuck yes, everything else cluttering his mind starts to melt away; Jason's into this. Jason is very, very into this.

He puts his hands on Charles's waist, under Charles's jacket-- oh, hell yes, that's a lot closer to feeling bare skin. At least now he can feel Charles's body heat, and he runs his hands up Charles's chest, which makes Charles break off and let go of Jason's tie. Jason gets his hands up to Charles's shoulders, then moves them so he's cupping Charles's face in his hands, looking deeply into Charles's eyes. "You're gorgeous," Jason growls. "I want your tie off, can I take your tie off?"

"Absolutely," Charles says, but he moves one hand as if to do it himself, instead. Jason grabs that hand and pins it back against the wall, earning a surprised look from Charles, but Jason's more intent on getting that tie off Charles's neck than holding Charles in place against the wall. For now.

He undoes the knot, quickly, making a little irked grunt at the fact that it's a full fucking Windsor knot-- what the hell's wrong with a good old-fashioned four-in-hand, those are easy to untie-- but soon enough it's off Charles, and Jason leans in to bite at the center of Charles's neck as he reaches up with both hands again, unbuttoning Charles's shirt.

"Hsst, careful," Charles hisses, bringing up one hand and fisting it in Jason's hair, well above soul's-home. "Easy, easy--"

"Easy," Jason breathes, licking over Charles's skin. "Okay, easy. No marks?"

"Did I imagine the part of the negotiation where I said I'm not a masochist or--"

Jason lifts his head, narrows his eyes at Charles. "I'm not trying to treat you like a masochist. I'm asking what 'easy' means to you. No marks?"

Charles levels a critical look at Jason. "No marks, bite at basic-grade, and by all means use your tongue like that, I'd like more of that."

"Yeah?" Jason feints a little, leaning in, and Charles settles his head back against the wall, eyes closing, chin tilting up to expose his neck. And oh, God, it's a long shapely neck, his throat looks like it's just made for breathplay. Jason's already imagining what it'd be like to curve his hand around the front of Charles's throat; he tries to push that thought forward like he projected the words before, the image of Charles just like this, with Jason stroking him off nice and slow while tightening his grip and controlling Charles's air...

Charles jerks a little against the wall and lets out a shaky moan. Jason strokes Charles's throat, just barely, enough to see if that's what got him that moan-- and when Charles swallows and tries to blink his eyes open, Jason quickly takes his hand back and shakes his head. "Not something I do in casual scenes," he says, "but you sure as hell make a guy think about it."

Charles still has a hand on the back of Jason's head, from earlier, when he caught Jason by the hair; he drops it to Jason's shoulder, now, levering Jason back slightly. "We weren't done negotiating," Charles pants.

Jason tries to think back to where they were, before he got it into his head that kissing Charles was the best idea ever-- and actually, he turned out to be right about that, and he wants to do it again. But okay, negotiation first. Makes sense, as much as Jason really wants to get right to it. "Illusions," he manages, "you were... you were going to tell me if I need to avoid anything."

"Nothing comes to mind," Charles says. "Nothing in the category of weather or astronomy, anyway. Though if you decide to go for torrential downpours, I hope you'll give me a little warning and let me take a break to relieve myself first."

Almost laughing, Jason nods. "Okay," he says. He's still not going to get them into anything too heavy, nothing too big, but the idea that he doesn't have to hold everything in for once... God.

And maybe Charles feels some of that, too, because he's looking up at Jason, licking his lips, those big, pretty eyes fixed on him, eyebrows drawn slightly together... all of that, and he isn't even asking. Jason has this awful, twisted, sinking feeling that he just won't, if Jason doesn't bring it up first.

He lets Charles's hair go, strokes his fingertips down to Charles's temple. "I saw you talking to your sister before," Jason murmurs. "Can you do that with anyone?"

Still staring, Charles nods. And once again, doesn't go for it.

"Could you say something to me?"

Another nod. And another delay. If it weren't for the fact that he's got hope written all over his face, Jason would swear to God the guy was playing him.

"Would you, then," Jason says, serious and calm. "How about, 'Hello, Jason', to start with."

«Hello, Jason,» comes through, clear and bright, as simple as speech, as easy as one of Jason's most basic illusions. Jason can't hold back his smile, and Charles smiles, too. And if there's been any lingering confusion on his face, that wipes everything away; he looks so goddamn pleased that Jason can't help wanting to see more.

"How is it, talking like that? As easy as baseline speech?"

"Easier," Charles says. Jason wrinkles his nose a little, and after taking it in with a startled, slightly disbelieving expression, Charles projects, «Easier... I can stop this at any point, all you have to do is tell me.»

"Not telling you to do that," Jason says firmly. "You want to use your mouth to talk, then do that; you want to use your mind, do that. I'm serious, man. This is who we are. We shouldn't have to hide that just because the humans are so goddamn intent on making us all ashamed of what we can do."

"It's more complicated than that for me--"

"No, it's not--"

"It is," Charles insists. "Everyone expects to have the right to privacy, and you should understand that better than most. You, what did you call it, you 'blanked' us earlier--" Jason steps back a little, setting his jaw; he thinks he can guess where this is going, but he doesn't have to like it. "Not because you're ashamed of being seen with me, I hope..."

"No."

Charles nods like his point's just been made, which, admittedly, it mostly has. "But because it's no one's business, because you have the right to come upstairs with a complete stranger and share that experience only with me, and whoever else you might want to tell. Not a room full of partygoers."

"Right," Jason says, "but--"

"Minds are the same, and more so," Charles goes on. "Everyone expects that eir own private thoughts truly are eir own, that ey can have eir own ideas and inner monologues and--" Charles raises an eyebrow at Jason-- "motivations, and that those things are only shared with other people if they deliberately choose to communicate them." He pauses. "Still with me?"

"Yeah." It occurs to Jason that he could tell Charles, skip it, you heard me say I've seen other telepaths, right? But if they go on with this, Charles will know that's not really true. Met them, worked with them, extended his ability and theirs with them, but never anything intimate. Never anything one-on-one, never a scene, never this. Maybe what Charles has to say is important for Jason to hear; at any rate, Charles is sure intent on getting it out there.

"People assume their thoughts are confidential and secure. I can bypass that security, and it's not like hacking a computer or picking a lock. It's as though the password and credentials aren't there, the lock isn't there. Your private inner sanctum is my crowded city street; I have to make the same effort you'd make on Fifth Avenue, tuning out the noise, to keep other people's thoughts out."

"Okay, so you get my thoughts that easily, but how far down?" Jason asks. It wouldn't really be any easier to ask him what he scores on his MATs; psionics especially don't chart on an exact scale. Some can do mind control, but can't read anything; some can read, but can't control. It's always different. "Down to what I had for breakfast? Or the most embarrassing moment I had in high school?" And as soon as he thinks of the latter idea, he's thinking, please don't go for that, and he must be thinking it pretty loudly, because Charles smirks a little, and that eyebrow goes right back up.

"Point," Jason says. "Okay. So it's complicated for you." Jason stands back, fully back, running his hands down his chest-- Charles has already left him rumpled, and smoothing out the wrinkles isn't going to change that, but he does it anyway-- and trying to think about this, about Charles's particular mutation and all its complications. "I'm still okay hearing you, if you want to talk to me with your brain." Charles smiles a little. "And-- I don't know what else to offer. I don't know what would make it good for you."

"That will make it good for me," Charles promises. "Though... if you're comfortable projecting thoughts...?"

«Like this?» Jason does it, more confident this time; hearing Charles in his head made it clearer, somehow, what kind of projection it takes to be on the same page with him.

And Charles-- oh, man, Charles just beams at him, almost starry-eyed, like this little fucking crumb Jason's offering him is three hot fudge sundaes with a whole jar of cherries on top.

The world is fucked up, if that's all it takes to make a telepath happy. Jason slides his hands onto Charles's hips and presses him into the wall again. The hell with the rest of the world and its anti-mutant bigotry; he's going to see about making Charles as goddamn happy as he wants to be tonight.

«I want you,» Jason thinks, and Charles makes a grab for him, hands tightening into Jason's suit jacket again and tugging him forward. This time it's Charles who plants that first kiss, and Jason who's taking it over, and while he does he's thinking at Charles the whole time. «Feels good, your mouth on me, I like that a lot, I like kissing you, what about you, what's it doing for you...?»

«I like it,» Charles thinks, and in contrast to all the hesitance he's shown before, now his mind's a blaze in Jason's, his thoughts dazzling and radiant and clearly his own. There's no confusion, no tangle of which thoughts belong to Charles and which are Jason's. «I like kissing,» Charles adds, and next thing Jason knows he's showing it; he's giving his mouth up, taking slow lick after slow lick into Jason's mouth, trading off control as easily as breathing.

Which is getting less easy by the second. Jason's pretty sure kissing hasn't gotten him this hot since high school (damn it, fuck high school, not thinking about that now). He draws away from Charles with a little mental nudge, a simple image of the bed. Charles nods, drawing his lower lip between his teeth and biting it, lips somehow curving into a smile anyway.

"You are seriously trying to get me to beg for a blowjob right here in the entry, aren't you," Jason pants. Charles's brows shoot up. «Well, it's fucking working. But really, really, bed, more comfortable, come on, come on

They go there together, Jason tugging at Charles's tie, Charles slipping his hands under Jason's jacket and trying to push it off his shoulders. On the way over, Jason kicks out of his shoes; so does Charles. It's fantastic, making out all the way there, leaving a trail of clothes-- it's just the kind of romantic-movie thing that trips all Jason's circuits-- so by the time they're actually at the bed, Jason's panting and flushed and out of everything but his boxer-briefs and bronze wristband, and he can't help grinning at Charles, because Charles is pretty much in the same condition. All Charles has left of his clothes are his boxers and his shirt, which is still hanging off one wrist.

Jason has enough self-control not to just jerk the shirt off Charles and not to reach for the cufflink, but he nods at it. "Can I unhook that for you, or should I leave it to you?"

"Go ahead, they're only cufflinks," Charles says. "What about you, your--" He eyes Jason's wristband. Jason's stomach clenches; goddamnit, he shouldn't have set that precedent, he should have just stayed hands-off and let Charles deal with his own damn jewelry. The only person who's ever asked about Jason's wristband instead of leaving it alone was Anne, and he left it on the nightstand when he found her, left it off his wrist until he was packing up to go.

It probably shouldn't matter anymore, but he can't bring himself to take it off, and he shakes his head and draws his wrist back from Charles. "Rather you didn't," he says, like it's easy to say that, and Charles just nods.

But hey, Charles said the cufflink was fair game, and Jason's not going to miss out on an excuse to touch him more; he reaches over and flicks the cufflink off, quick and practiced. Charles doesn't miss that, and it knocks the expression of mild confusion right off his face, a smirk sliding over his lips instead that only grows when Jason circles his hand around Charles's wrist and squeezes.

"Thanks."

«You're welcome,» Jason fires back. Charles's eyes go wide, and he shoves Jason forcefully onto the bed, straddling him, kissing him again. Jason strokes his hands up all that bare skin-- God, the guy's freckled everywhere-- and gives a nice basic-grade scratch down, just enough to tease and offer a hint of sensation. He thinks, «?» at Charles, just a shape more than a word, and Charles catches the thought and sends back the mental equivalent of a nod.

«That's fantastic, you get more than just words, you can do feelings and sensations and images,» Jason thinks. Charles is busy licking and sucking on Jason's lower lip, outright making love to it, so Jason gives ground on the kiss and slips his hands into Charles's hair, letting the thick wavy strands slide through his fingers. «The way I think...» Jason's not even sure he can legitimately call it thinking at this point; right now a hell of a lot of his attention is on his mouth. «It's... it's not always in words... sometimes words are hard.» Like now.

«Everyone's different,» Charles returns, the tone in his thoughts similar to the one he had when he was running down the reasons for all the caution around his telepathy. It's a little like getting a lecture, and Jason gives Charles an image of Jason, dressed up in a schoolboy uniform, at a desk with his hands crossed politely in front of him. It's different from an illusion, more direct, but still so natural it feels like he's been doing it all his life.

The image makes Charles send him something like a mental snort, but it doesn't stop the soft licks over Jason's mouth, doesn't stop the gentle way he's sucking Jason's lip, the way he's biting down slow and easy and flicking his tongue over the bitten places. «Some people think all in images-- communicating with people who've been deaf from birth, say, that's all about the visual, not spoken words. Some people think in terms of their auditory sense. For some it's all the same thing, visuals and audio and language combined. Given your mutation I'm not surprised it's mostly about the imagery...»

Jason's a little amused, can't help it, and he runs his hands down to Charles's boxers, slips one hand under the elastic. «If you weren't so good with your mouth...» and his fingers wander over, closer and closer to Charles's cleft, «I'd be wondering if I had your full attention.»

«You have it,» Charles sends back, reaching back and carefully drawing Jason's hand back out-- cautious about the wristband, not touching it, and he's so casual about taking Jason's hand just under the wristband that Jason wonders if he's had to dodge commitment jewelry before. He also pushes across a smarmy little sense of thank you very much for asking before you went for my arse.

But the amusement Jason's feeling glides over to Charles, and Charles stops everything else he's doing, reaches for Jason's hands and twines their fingers together. Jason doesn't even call a halt to it when Charles draws Jason's hands up toward his shoulders, rests a little weight on them; he can't quite call it being pinned down, Charles isn't being insistent enough for that. It's more like he's trying to be close, an intimacy that's strange and unfamiliar, and Jason waits that out, tries to figure out what to do with it, whether he should just stay calm and accept it, or... no, right now he's going with that.

«You're really... you're really all right with this,» Charles sends, lips parted, eyes closed, breathing shakily against Jason's mouth. «I can keep doing this, you're all right with this...?»

«Oh, shit, don't stop now,» Jason sends back, and Charles moans like he's been touched in all the right places and slams his mouth down on Jason's again. Jason almost laughs, underneath Charles's lips, and he can't resist kissing back, trying to keep his mind clear enough to tell Charles, «yeah, man, think dirty to me,» while Charles kisses him so fervently the guy's tongue is just about trembling.

It's amazing, taking Charles apart like this, doing it with nothing but that little hint of mind-to-mind communication-- but Jason gets it, he really does. All the people he's been with, all the other mutants he's been with, and still, when it comes to the toybox, it's always, I don't know, man, it seems like the physical flogger would be safer. Safer. Like the one he controls every last inch of with his mind isn't the safe one. But no, doing it with his mind is just weird; people like their elk hide or their kangaroo hide or their nylon/polyurethane vegan blends, and they're just so damn sure the things Jason makes aren't good enough, won't feel right.

Almost every time, it's like that. Everybody but one guy. And that's the one guy Jason really can't afford to let himself think about right now, because all of a sudden this night's about a lot more than just jealousy and frustration and wanting to feel up-close what Erik's been chasing all these years, what Jason could never be.

Charles pulls away, gently loosening one of his hands from Jason's grip. He trails his fingertips over Jason's temple, down the side of his face. «It's all right,» Charles thinks, while Jason struggles to keep meeting Charles's eyes. «I'm used to it.» He gives a little smile, or part of one, anyway. «People think about a lot of things while they're having sex.»

«Thought you didn't listen in,» Jason says, but now that his hand's free, he reaches up and gives Charles the same caress. There's no recrimination in his mind, no anger, nothing like that. A little disappointment, but in himself, that he can't keep his mind in the game. He hopes Charles is getting those nuances.

«I try not to, but...» Charles sighs. «If I can be honest... it's harder to shield when I'm aroused, and when people are excited, their minds can be very noisy.»

«Okay, so,» Jason says, thumb rubbing circles at Charles's temple, «just so you know, it is you. I'm here for you now. Not for anybody else, not for any other reason. I mean that.»

Charles looks incisively at him for several seconds, but then nods. «I feel that,» he thinks, and there's a little bit of wonder in it. «I can feel... the mutation too, it's not in spite of with you, is it...?»

«It's not,» Jason confirms. Charles's hand, the one that still has a grip on Jason's, goes tight for a second, and then Charles kisses him again, gentle now. Something about that kiss makes Jason's chest ache.

This started out so rough; Jason was expecting it to stay that way, a wrestle for dominance that ended with him on top. But here they are, Charles stretched out on top of Jason, one hand locked into Jason's while they kiss and touch and gasp for each other, and it doesn't feel like it's about power exchange at all. It just feels good, and Jason moans against Charles's mouth, letting himself go for just a second, letting his power slip: he feels like he's all lit up from the inside, glowing from how good this feels, and that's what he projects, a soft red glow all around him.

Charles draws back to look, and Jason tenses a bit, fully expecting to hear what's wrong? or oh my God, what's happening to you? But Charles smiles a little, and he strokes Jason's cheek with his free hand.

"That's lovely," Charles says. This time it's Jason's turn to tighten his hold on Charles's hand. "It's all communication, isn't it? But for you it's visual."

Jason nods, and as Charles slides a hand over Jason's shoulder, down his arm, the glow gets brighter. Charles smiles, sitting up now, keeping his hold on Jason's hand but sweeping his other hand across Jason's chest. Jason gives Charles's hand an outline in gold, companion to his own red glow, watches as the auras mingle together and Charles leaves a trail of gold across Jason's body.

It's brighter when Charles touches something that really turns Jason on, so it's no wonder that the glow is almost white in intensity when Charles draws his fingertips over Jason's nipple. He focuses there for a bit, rubbing, light scratches, but it's not enough, and Jason closes his eyes and thinks as much to Charles, sending a mental image of Charles pinching, twisting, a steady grip that holds until the glow starts to fade.

«Really,» Charles sends, and the thought comes across as if he's purring. «I suppose I shouldn't have assumed, I've known dominant masochists...» His fingers move into position, thumb and forefinger threatening to close in and pinch, but he doesn't complete that motion yet. Jason squirms under him, reaching out and resting his free hand on Charles's hip.

«Don't... get me wrong,» Jason sends, «I'm a really fucking good sadist, I'm a big fan of hurting people in all the right ways...» He licks his lips, unsurprised when Charles does the same; his tongue, God, it just makes Jason want obscene things, beautiful and obscene... «But I have a policy: don't dish it out if you can't take it. And it turns out if you take enough of something, and the circumstances are good, then hey, good associations make all the difference...»

«It's a good policy,» Charles agrees, though it occurs to Jason that Charles probably didn't catch why Jason has that policy in place. «Although I must admit, I've scened with masochists who could take things that would have me safewording in a matter of seconds. I hope you don't necessarily expect yourself to match that sort of intensity.»

Intensity. Jason's mind goes straight back to Erik, damn it, to that afternoon with the belt, the one with the metal studs, watching Erik come just from being hurt. Goddamnit, Erik, you're not invited right now, and shit, that's hypocritical, he wouldn't have hit on Charles at all if he weren't a dead ringer for Erik's type. But Erik really isn't the man he wants to be thinking of, not right now.

«Find out,» Jason thinks, instead, and Charles gives it to him-- a rough pinch that starts up way lighter than Jason could take it, but quickly goes further. Jason's imagining a gauge, all green until it tips over to the red section, and it's moving up now, higher with Charles's pressure, tipping closer and closer to the red line and then holding.

Jason gets his eyes open, looks at Charles's expression while he's holding that pinch, and Charles just looks so goddamn happy it has Jason throwing glitter into the air before he can stop himself. Charles laughs, lets the pinch go.

"Brilliant," Charles says.

"The way I took that?" Jason smirks. "Or the way you got some--" He taps his temple. "Guidance?"

Charles folds himself down again, kisses Jason-- he wasn't kidding when he said he liked kissing. Jason reaches up with both hands, finally pulling the other out of Charles's grasp, and now it really is fireworks, the beginning of a whole goddamn display. Charles sucks on Jason's lower lip, licks at his mouth, and Jason just opens up, projects the pleasure he's getting and the unexpected thrill of getting to show somebody what it feels like, the way his body and mind are sparking with electricity and arousal.

«Wait-- wait wait wait--» and Charles eases back, holds himself up with his hands at Jason's shoulders and his arms extended. «Sorry, it was just getting... I'm trying to hold myself just to what you're projecting at me, but you're so open right now, there's so much...»

«I can hold it in a little better,» Jason promises, blowing out a breath and rubbing at his face, his eyes. Jesus, what was he thinking, going that kind of wild with a total stranger, that isn't what Charles signed up for. «You just feel good.»

«It's all right,» Charles reassures him, and he reaches out and strokes Jason's arm, all the way from shoulder to wrist. «You feel good, too.»

Jason slips his hands onto Charles's shoulders, winds his arms around Charles's neck. «We talked about me getting to fuck you,» he thinks. «Is that still on the table?»

«Was it ever on the table or were you just assuming?» Charles fires back, but there's a playful tone to it. «What makes you think I ever switch down?»

Jason teases right back, «Who says you need to? You just need to feel like having my dick up your ass.» He gives Charles his best headshot smile.

He's not sure whether it's the line or the smile that gets to Charles, but one of them does; Charles's eyes go wide, and he swings a leg over Jason's, skimming his boxers off and finally letting Jason see what he's got under them... and damn, okay, Jason likes what he's seeing. Charles is uncut, long enough to make Jason think about how tough it's going to be to take all that down his throat, thick enough for Jason to know right away it'll leave his jaw aching. But he's already licking his lips, mouth watering at the thought of getting a taste of that. Hell yeah, he wants that.

And Charles is breathing pretty damn hard now, staring down at Jason like that thought process was too loud for him to keep out. Jason smirks like crazy and licks his lips, slowly this time, drawing it out.

«Look at you,» Charles thinks, climbing back onto Jason, straddling him a little higher up this time-- ohhhh, oh, yeah, right there, with his ass grinding down against Jason's dick: yes. Charles gets a hand between them, and nn, God, he's got that hand around himself, and he's jerking it, nice and steady, the motion of his arm making his shoulder muscles stand out even more, and wow, yeah, this is heating up in a fucking hurry.

«You're one up on me,» Jason thinks, because his boxer-briefs are starting to feel like the only thing standing between him and a really good round of basic, and he tries to get his hands under Charles, tries to shove at the elastic. But Charles doesn't budge, doesn't give any ground, and he bends his head down and bites Jason's mouth, shocking Jason into opening up and letting Charles kiss him again.

But fuck, that just puts Charles chest-to-chest with Jason, and the fact that Charles's cock is pressed tight between their stomachs doesn't mean Charles is stopping; he's still stroking himself, even with no room to spare, and the head of his cock rubs against Jason's abs and-- «fuck, goddamnit, I want in you, in you, let me inside you, please

Charles hums out a happy noise as he licks across Jason's lips one more time, and then finally sits up. «I like the way you're asking. Even if there didn't technically seem to be a question mark anywhere in that sentence...»

He's teasing again, and Jason comes back at him with more illusions, projecting question marks all over the fucking room, hanging in the air. Dozens of them, hundreds, surrounding them, and Charles laughs as he looks, that delighted expression even taking the place of arousal for a moment. Jason adds a tiny little biplane, skywrites PLEASE in big puffy clouds, and Charles looks down at him, his smile going hot as he nods.

«Where are the--»

«Over here.» Jason nods at the nightstand off to his right; complimentary lube, complimentary condoms, thank you so much, Sheraton Hotel. Charles opens up the nightstand and tugs out both, tossing them onto the bed, and then he tucks his fingertips into the waistband of Jason's boxer-briefs and raises an eyebrow. Jason obliges him by lifting up a little, and Charles strips the boxer-briefs off, and maybe the distraction goes both ways, because now it's Charles licking his lips, staring down at Jason like he's got some really specific ideas about where to go from here. And hey, Jason's not crazy; he's not going to stop him.

«You want to?» Jason asks, reaching down and slipping a hand into Charles's hair. «Because I'm up for that, I really am, you've got one hell of a pretty mouth.»

«So do you, and you were thinking about it first... but yes, I'd like to.» Charles reaches up, takes Jason gently by the wrist. «Don't pull. And don't go for soul's-home.»

The little burst of resentment Jason feels at that surprises even him, and he works to push it away as fast as he can. «I wouldn't have,» he sends. But he's not going to ask about why, or about anything having to do with the fucking bond. If Charles has a bondmate out there who'd be pissed off about what's happening tonight, then it's on Charles to tell em, not Jason. And if he doesn't, then it's a moot point, and Jason's not about to start swapping bad-bond stories. He's not in this to get to know Charles better; he's here to fuck.

He gives Charles a little lazy caress, trying for something gentle and encouraging. «Sorry,» he sends, because now Charles is just looking at him-- probably wondering what all that was about. Jason doesn't know how loud he was thinking, but it was probably loud enough to be distracting. «You still want to...?»

«If you still want me to.» Charles rubs the curve of his cheek against Jason's shaft.

«What am I, an idiot? Get your mouth on me.» And when Charles raises an eyebrow, Jason quickly amends, «Please. Please get your mouth on me, please

«When you put it like that...» Charles licks his lips, and then yeah, thank fuck, he's bending his head down, taking a long hot swipe with his tongue, all the way up Jason's cock, lingering in a swirling curve at the head. Jason groans and falls back against the pillows, and okay, Charles said he was okay with it, he's been okay with everything so far, maybe just fucking once Jason can get away with having the whole picture right in front of him in real-time, maybe just this once.

Because the thing about casting lifelike three-dimensional illusions is that Jason never just gets the shape of things from one angle. He's got an extra psionic sense that feeds him all the shapes and details, what things look like from the reverse point of view, how things appear from across the room or close up or just from out to the side. And a blowjob is one of the times he most wants to take advantage of that-- getting to watch another angle on what he's feeling would be incredible.

So he casts the illusion into the air above him, seeing it as it happens, watching Charles's vivid red mouth opening wide to take Jason's cock in. He's ready to stop if Charles tells him to stop, tells him it's too weird, says Jason's not paying attention or not paying attention to the right thing... he'll stop, he will.

But Charles doesn't. He sends Jason something that feels like reassurance, and he steps up the pace, sucking harder, bringing a hand up to work Jason's shaft while he focuses on the head.

"God," Jason pants, sliding his hands through Charles's hair. He wants to see Charles mussed, wants to run his hands through Charles's hair over and over until Charles looks as debauched as Jason feels right now. He's watching himself do it, better than a mirror or a video could ever be, because he can zoom in, tweak the angle, watch the enticing slick gleam of Charles's lips stretched wide around his cock while he's feeling every motion.

And whoa, God, this is getting him way too close way too fast-- he pushes himself up on one elbow, brushing Charles's hair back off his forehead and sending out, «Stop, too close, stop now...»

Charles stops moving, at least. «One round, is that all you're expecting...?»

Jason laughs. "Fuck, no," he says-- okay, he's more hoarse than he thought he'd be after just that-- "not if you're up for more."

«I'm up for it.» Charles licks gently up Jason's shaft and sucks at the head before slipping his mouth off Jason's cock-- oh, like that doesn't send shivers up Jason's spine, God. "We could start here." Charles grins cheekily up the bed at Jason. "How's your recovery time?"

It's almost too much to take, that grin after everything Charles has been doing to him, everything that beautiful mouth of his has been making Jason feel. Jason scrambles down the bed, catches Charles's jaw in his hand and kisses him again, tasting a trace of himself on Charles's mouth.

«You're amazing, that was so fucking hot, you're really fucking good at that,» Jason tells him, driving his tongue into Charles's mouth-- Charles isn't the only one in this bed who knows how to lick, and by God, by the end of the night, Charles is going to know that firsthand. Jason can feel Charles shivering with anticipation-- that thought might very well have slipped through, Jason wouldn't be surprised-- and Charles gets an arm around Jason, tugs him close.

«I want you,» Charles tells him. «What you said before--» and when Jason hears it again, he hears it in his own voice, like he's getting Charles's memory of it instead of just Charles repeating the words-- «Who says you need to? You just need to feel like having my dick up your ass. Did you mean that, you're not going to try to turn this into some kind of dommier-than-thou contest--»

«Swear to God,» Jason says, brushing the backs of his fingers down over Charles's neck. «But I can't say I don't want to give it to you rough, so maybe you better tell me how rough you can take it...»

Jason can see the impish smile Charles is projecting to him, the warmth and amusement and challenge all layered into it. «You also said something about a don't-dish-it-out-if-you-can't-take-it policy, does that apply to getting fucked as well?»

«Shit, you have a good memory,» Jason thinks, amused and impressed; Charles sucks on his lower lip and finally draws back.

«Not so impressive, it goes along with my mutation,» Charles admits, pulling back far enough to look at Jason. «Yours, too, it must, or your illusions wouldn't be so accurate...?»

«Mine too,» Jason agrees. «Not always the best side effect of my mutation...»

Charles sobers for an instant, touching Jason's face, fingertips resting against his cheek. «Mine either,» he admits. But then his grin turns sly again, and he sends, «Not that I'm going to mind recalling this evening...»

«Oh, hell, no,» Jason agrees, and he pushes Charles over on his back, rolls on top of him. Charles's eyes go wide for a second, but when Jason bends his head down and kisses Charles's neck, scrapes his teeth there lightly in a soft nibble, Charles groans and gets his hands into Jason's hair, holding him in place.

He's being careful about soul's-home, maybe because he doesn't want his touched, but Jason bites down just a little harder and sends, «It's not off-limits. You can touch it, it won't bother me.»

Charles hesitates, though. «Do you... want me to, is it a problem if I do--»

«No problem, it's fine. It feels good. I like it.»

There's still a moment's hesitation, but then Charles scratches over Jason's joining spot, and Jason growls softly, sucking on a patch of Charles's skin. Charles grips the back of Jason's neck, and Jason's not quite sure whether that's meant as encouragement or warning, so he keeps it light; he wasn't really planning on marking Charles anyway, though he'd be lying if he said the image hadn't occurred to him.

«Still want you,» Jason thinks, licking down to Charles's chest. «Is this going to happen, or do I need to change my game plan?» Right now his backup idea involves licking every single one of Charles's freckles; there's no reason not to get a head start.

Charles makes him sweat for it a little, draws it out until Jason thinks maybe he really is going to be licking all those freckles all night long, but eventually there's a warm sense of affirmation. «Go slow,» Charles sends, «but yes, let's make it happen.»

Jason sweeps one hand down Charles's side, cups Charles's hip in his hand. «How do you like to be? Face-to-face, or...?»

«You'd like the visual, wouldn't you,» Charles thinks, reaching up and brushing his fingertips over Jason's forehead. «Like this is fine, I like it this way.»

«You know so much about me, don't you,» Jason says, but he's rubbing up against Charles's hand, catlike, taking the attempt at being nice for what it's worth. «Okay, come on... come on...»

He kneels up, between Charles's legs, and Charles pops the safety seal on the lube before handing it over. Apparently the hotel has a deal with Eros, because while it says Sheraton on one side, with the hotel logo, it says Bodyglide on the back. High-quality lube; Jason has a feeling a lot of this stuff gets taken home in people's suitcases. The three bottles they gave Jason should last the night, he's reasonably sure of that; he's generous with it as he gets his fingers slick, smooths the lube over just the first two to start with. No telling how often Charles bottoms, and Charles said to go slow; he'll take his time.

Charles settles in, gets comfortable; when Jason presses his fingers in, Charles opens up for him, so easy Jason actually moans out loud. His sound echoes into one from Charles, and Jason draws his fingers out, strokes back inside and feels Charles's heat all around them.

«Damn,» Jason sends, «oh, damn, you feel good, just opening right up for me, you're going to feel incredible...»

«Keep talking like that and I'm going to make you beg first,» Charles warns him. Fair enough, though it's not like Jason can help all the dominant instincts. And it's hard to read too much annoyance into the mental tone when Charles is already breathing hard, pushing up against Jason's fingers for more. «Don't stop now. More lube, and deeper.»

«So we're both a little pushy,» Jason fires back, but he's already getting the lube out, withdrawing his fingers to slick them even more. When he goes back in, he does go deep; he's got long fingers, long arms when it comes to that, and he pins Charles's hip with his other hand while he makes this count: long steady strokes that make Charles bite his already-swollen lower lip, let out soft noises all around the bite.

«Yeah,» Jason sends, «oh, yeah, gorgeous, that looks so fucking good, I want you open and ready when I fuck you, want to see you struggling to get more like you're doing right now. Come on, give it to me, so hot, yes...»

«Oh...» It's strange to hear a breathy sound when there's no breath to it, but Jason still smirks as Charles moans for him, gasps for him, in their minds and in the room. «For that...» Charles tells him, «for that you'd better ask very nicely if you want to give me another finger...»

Jason puts on his best-behavior face, all contrite seriousness. «May I please get your hot ass stretched out a little further with three fingers instead of two?»

Charles laughs, blinking up at him. «You'll get yours later,» he promises. «For now... go on, three fingers, go.»

Three fingers slide in as easily as two; Jason's hot all over now, just feeling Charles surround him. «You're not too tight for this at all, you said go slow...»

Hooking a hand under his knee, Charles pulls one leg to his chest and lets Jason move in deeper still. «I said go slow because I like this part,» Charles thinks, amused and aroused and teasing, «not because I never do it. What about you, are you going to be tight when it's my turn, is your body going to fight it...?»

«Would you like that? If I'm so tight you can barely get into me, if you really have to push--» Jason can give him that image, it's easy enough to imagine. He knows exactly what he looks like when he's having sex, and his imagination can fill in Charles behind him, Charles pinning him at the hips while Jason growls and snarls and shoves back, pained and desperate for more.

Charles's eyes go wide and unfocused, and he throws his head back, groaning, planting his foot on the bed so he can move against Jason's increasingly demanding strokes. «Yes,» he sends, thoughts shaky now, urgent. «Do it. Fuck me.»

It strikes Jason as more than a little funny that he got Charles to this point by telepathically putting his own ass on the line-- now there's a seduction technique he won't be repeating, like, ever-- but he's not going to argue the point. He slips his fingers free, and Charles gets his other hand behind his knee, draws both legs up, which makes Jason stop halfway to getting a condom on, wide-eyed and slack-jawed.

«Sorry,» Charles thinks, «am I distracting you? Maybe if I just hold still...»

Out loud, Jason laughs, and he fumbles with the condom until he's got it on, slicking a little more lube over it before kneeling up in position, cock angled down and ready, one hand sliding up Charles's leg to his ankle. «Yeah, you're pretty fucking distracting. You look amazing, you have no idea.»

«You could show me,» Charles suggests. «Like you were doing for yourself...?»

That's it, oh God, that's it, Jason needs to fuck this guy right now. He gets the image into the air and watches as Charles stares, looking rapidly from Jason to the illusion and back like he can't decide which he wants to see more, and then Jason's moving in, bringing the projection right along with him, showing Charles what everything looks like from Jason's viewpoint.

Charles gazes at the projection, eyes wide, lips wet and reddened and parted, but then his eyes snap shut, brow tightening as Jason pushes in hard, deep, taking advantage of the way Charles opened so easily to all that prep. "Yeah," Jason groans, watching that expression-- this is one of those moments he's glad he never forgets anything, because he's going to want to remember that look over and over again. He won't replay it with an illusion, though, he won't, he knows the replay thing creeps people out, but-- he'll want to.

«--yes-- that's it-- a little... harder,» Charles thinks at him, reaching behind him, grabbing for the headboard rails-- if Jason weren't on his best behavior, he'd be so tempted to snag Charles's wrists, tie him up with some nice silk rope while he slowed it all down. As it is, Jason plants his hands on the bed to either side of Charles's hips, and he goes harder, just like Charles asked him to. It gets exactly the response Jason was hoping for, a low moan aloud and a deep sensation of satisfaction, passed directly from Charles's mind to his.

"Oh, God," Jason pants, because holy hell, getting that sense of having a need satisfied, an itch scratched-- it might be at a remove, but it's incredible, it's like nothing Jason's ever felt before. Turning his partners on gives him a rush, it's always felt good to satisfy a need for the subs he scenes with, but this is deeper than that, closer to the heart somehow. Jason moves-- and oh, it's better just moving than he ever expected it could be-- and drives right back in, fierce and solid, earning himself another hot groan and another wave of satisfaction.

He'd give back his own, if he could figure out how; he'd open up, share everything he's feeling, everything he wants, all the ways this is so damn good he almost can't believe it. But if he can't give it to Charles directly, mind-to-mind, he can give it to Charles his way, and he does that, a whole night sky of meteors, bright burning flashes that streak across a velvety black curtain. The fireworks are starting already, green and red and gold sprays and bursts of light, and Jason drives in deeper, angling his hips a little, hoping to hit Charles just right.

But Charles can tell what he's trying to do, he's working with him. Charles gasps and moans and shudders and still manages to help Jason out, levering against the headboard to adjust position, a few scattered mind-to-mind words like higher or more or ease back a bit, and then when Jason's got it, an image of Jason really giving it to him, pounding in hard. Jason scrambles a little for control at that, reaches for his cock and squeezes hard at the base-- that was almost too much, he was almost gone. Inside his head, Charles smirks, but Jason doesn't give him very long to do it-- he starts up again, this time ready to hold out for as long as it takes to make Charles come apart at the seams.

And he gets it-- oh, fuck, he gets it, Charles crying out underneath him, arms straining, muscles tight, his mind and his whole body urging Jason to just fuck him harder, and Jason does, can't stop now, needs to give everything to Charles, all the things Charles needs to take every bit as desperately.

«Come,» Jason demands, sweating now, so close that even setting that demand out in front of him is nearly enough to do him in. It's an order, but it's not an order he expects Charles to be ready to obey; it's just out there, between them, because Jason needed to say it.

«With me,» Charles thinks back at him, and Jason nods, gives him a go-ahead sign with his ability, a flashing green light, ready, ready, go. He reaches down, gets his hand on Charles's cock, but he wonders-- he wonders if that's what's going to do it, or if he could push Charles over just by thinking hard enough at him, thinking the right things at him.

And so he tries that, too, images, words, everything he can throw at Charles all drawn up and pushed forward at once: yes, this, want you, I see it now, the goddamn appeal, everyone should want this, love this, you're good, amazing, Charles's body underneath his, the tight gorgeous clench of Charles's body around his cock, imagining Charles's mouth on him, the pinch from earlier when he was guiding Charles to just the right pressure, everything he could do, everything he will do if he has half a chance, part two with Charles on hands and knees, part three with Charles up against the wall, everything--

That does it, or something in all that does it; Charles gasps, grasping desperately at the rails, and comes, his spunk slick and sticky all over Jason's hand. Jason groans, staring down between them, and he can't resist the visual-- he draws his hand up, takes a messy lick, leaves his chin wet with Charles's come and gets the image into the air between them, painted in like a portrait on glass so they can see it from both sides, and he's looking at that-- himself, debauched, Charles's eyes glazing as he sees it too-- when he comes.

He holds it just long enough to finish shaking, finish moaning, but as soon as he needs to collapse, the illusion comes with him; he pitches off to the side, dragging a yelp out of Charles as he pulls out, but Charles quickly settles down, stretching out head-to-foot along the vertical length of the bed. "Oh," Charles breathes, tilting his neck back, and God, that's just one more thing Jason's going to memorize, one more thing he'd replay in full vivid color if he hadn't been told so many times that it makes him a creepy mutant stalker.

His chin's still damp-- hell, his hand's a mess-- but before he can wipe everything away on the covers, Charles turns, blinking his eyes open. «Gorgeous,» he thinks muzzily, and he scoots closer, draws the flat of his tongue lazily over Jason's chin. So much for needing cleanup, and so much for wondering how soon he could go for a second round... all right, a bit of an exaggeration there, but he knows he'll want more as soon as they're both steady enough to give it to each other.

«You are, too,» Jason offers. It earns him a smile, another smile, with Charles biting his lower lip midway through. Jason brings his thumb, his clean thumb, up, so he can trace the path of that bitten lip.

«Who knew?» Charles thinks, reaching out and catching Jason's hand, his fingers carefully below Jason's bronze wristband.

It seems like there's more to that thought, but Charles doesn't offer it. Naturally, Jason's curious. «Knew what?»

«That you're actually as good in bed as you think you are,» Charles teases, and Jason laughs, and keeps laughing, and it feels good. It feels really, really good.


Out of the shower now, Jason looks back at his phone. He knows that when he flicks it on, Charles's message is still going to be the first thing he sees on the screen. He does it anyway, turning the phone on, looking at the simple message.

[You wanted my number. Here it is. --CX.]

He actually holds out all day, while he's making phone calls and schmoozing with TV producers over lunch and then over dinner. He holds out all night, while he's alone in his hotel room, watching the news, catching up on mutant gossip blogs.

But when he wakes up Monday morning, his 11:47am-on-Tuesday flight back to Los Angeles looming over him, he stops pretending he can think about anything else. He hits up the hotel gym, rounds out his trip with a quick stop at Saks-- he can't come to New York without sending something to his mother-- and ends up back in his hotel room just before three in the afternoon, already pulling his phone out to send a text message.

[I'm done with all the shit I had to do in NYC. My flight's not until tomorrow morning. Want to hook up again? I'm free all day.]

He doesn't hold his breath, waiting for the text, but he checks his phone every fifteen seconds, sure he heard the little chirp of the alert tone. For three minutes, he's kidding himself, and then suddenly he's not: there's a message from Charles, and Jason's heart revs into overdrive.

[You're going to need it. Still at the hotel?]

Jason doesn't even try to play it cool. He texts right back.

[Same room. I'll have a key waiting for you downstairs.]

And a few seconds later, Charles answers with, [I'm on my way.]