Charles knew it was a stupid idea, of course it was. Going out to dinner with your ex while your husband was out of town. Your husband who knew nothing of this mystery ex or this mystery meeting. To make matters worse Charles had invited said ex boyfriend back to his house for a drink or five.
“I miss French wine.” Says Charles as they sit down on the sofa a glass of red in hand. Erik gives him his trademark condescending half-smirk, which damn him just makes him look more gorgeous. “You can buy French wine fine in New York last time I looked.” Charles gives a wave of his hand and a roll of his eyes, semantics he thinks and Erik’s smirk is in full force now as if he read Charles’s mind and heard his comment. “It’s not the same.” Charles’s says taking a sip of wine.
“So what you mean is; you miss Paris.” Erik states propping a cigarette in his mouth and raising an eyebrow in silent question then flicking his lighter when he gets a nod. “Yes I guess that’s what I meant.” Charles says softy, Erik tends to know what Charles means even when Charles himself doesn’t. Erik blows out smoke slowly and Charles finds the rich smell familiar. “You know your timing is nuts.” Charles says.
“Why? Are you getting a divorce?” Erik says his tone alight with amusement, always a tease. “No.” Charles huffs sharply with a relaxed laugh that makes his shoulders shake and his whole face fill up with amusement something so intense that hasn’t happened quite like this in a long time.
“The other day, I, I was just thinking of you,” Charles continues suddenly interested in the rim of his wine glass, “of that night in June when you’d just finished the first draft of your book and you took me out to a back alley place on Saint-Germain to celebrate and we spent most of the night drinking fine wine because we couldn’t afford the food and slow dancing till the early hour of the morning.” Charles feels quite embarrassed at saying it doesn’t dare look into Erik’s eyes, feeling the heat on his face.
“You were thinking of me?” Erik asks and it’s far worse than any teasing. He’s relaxed as if he doesn’t notice Charles’s embarrassment and Charles blames on the amount of alcohol he’s had tonight that he doesn’t dwell on it, doesn’t hold his tongue.
“I always think of you.”
Erik nods, reaching forward for Charles’s hand, a finger tracing knuckles then the blue veins highlighted by his pale skin but going no further than his wrists. “Gott, It’s good to see you.” Charles’s smile is uncontrollable, he continues to let Erik touch him with out complaint in fact it’s quite nice. “You, too.” Erik strokes his wrist with his fingertips, “You’re cold.” He comments softly and it makes Charles smile and he doesn’t know why.
Erik moves his hand to lace his fingers through Charles’s but Charles moves his hand stopping him, giving Erik’s a squeeze before letting go. Charles places his now empty wine glass on the table, leaning back on the sofa, curling his legs around in a more relaxed motion. Erik, still on the other side of the sofa reaches, wrapping his hand around Charles’s ankle, stretching out his leg so his foot lies on Erik’s lap. “Do you just touch me whenever you feel like it?” Charles sighs in defeat not bothering to stop him again.
Erik shakes his head sadly. “I don’t touch you nearly as much as I want.”
“What do you call this then?” Charles asks willing to brave dangerous territory tonight partly because of the wine. “Weakness.” Erik says simply because everything Erik says and does is simple.
“So is that all I am, a weakness?”
Erik’s eyes dart to Charles’s left hand. A drag of his cigarette and a screen of white smoke is separating them. “It’s all you’re allowed to be.” He offers Charles the cigarette who shakes his head. “I’m trying to cut back.”
“Things change.” Erik comments and Charles shakes his head with a sigh because yes things have changed but they are – Erik is – still very much the same. “What changed Charles?” Erik says but he’s not leaning forward, he sits back relaxed waiting for Charles’s answer. “What was it that changed between us?” Charles doesn’t answer. “Remind me why it didn’t work?”
“We were complicated,” is the only answer Charles has, he was complicated really what with his break up and then his Parisian romance with Erik only to end and Charles to go back to New York patch things up and get married six months later. Erik cracks a smile behind his cigarette, his blue grey eyes alight with amusement. Charles can’t remember the last time that someone looked at him like that; with such understanding and it scares him. “And you like things to be easy.” Erik states breathing out grey swirls of smoke with ease. “No,” Charles says his tone defensive. He finds the need to look away from Erik’s intense eyes looking into him, stripping away the walls, taking out every detail and examining it with care and comprehension. “Is it easy with him?” The words hold genuine curiosity but underneath a deeper meaning as is everything with Erik. Charles knows the answer he just doesn’t want to voice it. “And if it was me, you had met first would you still have ended up with him?” Charles exhales looking up from his hands into Erik’s eyes. “I think if we had… I wouldn’t have met him at all.”
Erik hums tapping on his cigarette to get rid of the ash building up on the end. “I suppose my timing could have been better.” Charles laughs, leaning his head on his hand, his elbow propped on the neck of the sofa. “Yes, well its not just about timing.” Erik considers this with a frown and Charles continues, “You had Paris and your work, too busy being in love with life. We wanted different things.”
“Do you have what you want now?”
“What kind of question is that?” Charles snaps and Erik raises an eyebrow and Charles flushes. “I mean of course.” Erik’s eyes seem to take Charles apart then put him back again, reading his body language, finding his deepest secrets, and sucking out everything about him. It’s too much. “Do you want more wine?” He asks his voice suddenly high, “I think we need more wine.”
Erik grabs his wrist before he can get up off the couch. “I didn’t mean to pry.”
“But you did,” Charles says with a bite. “You can’t just ask me these questions,” He presses a palm to his forehead trying to stop the lightheadedness brought on by the wine, try and push back all those thoughts of Paris and a happy go lucky European life with Erik from so long ago. “God Erik, you can’t just turn up after two years and expect me to tell you every intimate detail.”
The way Erik shrugs is carefree, unbothered and should be insulting but Charles can see from the frown barley visible on his face but it’s there, his lips slightly thinned, his jaw ever so slightly tensed he is anything but relaxed. It shouldn’t make Charles feel guilty for snapping or make him want to apologize or get on his knees and beg for forgiveness.
“I’m sorry.” He whispers leaning back into his seat, Erik now threading his fingers through his, the skin against skin making him tingle. “I,” he says stuttering over the syllable, exhaling shakily and Erik gives him a squeeze.
“I love him, I do, but,” Charles says weakly as Erik’s hand moves from his fingers to his wrist, his thumb caressing his pulse, pressing into the thin skin there that’s always been sensitive, it makes Charles heart flutter. No one else knows that, just Erik.
“But it’s,” Erik moves his wrist, baring it to his gaze and bending his head, “just stupid really,” Charles continues his voice lost, not really knowing what he’s saying he just stares at Erik not stopping but not encouraging. At the feel of Erik’s lips on his pulse Charles realizes he’s holding his breath and at the feel of his tongue, firm against his skin Charles breath hitches making his throat clench. Erik’s tongue tracks his vein, moving up his arm with such concentration, all his attention on Charles something he has not felt in years. He nuzzles the skin with his lips, stroking it with his nose, “I still,” murmurs Charles before Erik moves halfway between his lower arm, his cigarette abandoned, both hands holding Charles’s arm as he suddenly sucks his skin making Charles gasp.
He’s closer now, Charles didn’t realize it but he is, sitting in the middle, head bowed, so close that Charles can just reach forward to his hair. So he does, threading his fingers through the sandy brown locks, not pulling just keeping them there to feel the silk like threads between his fingers once more.
One last slow kiss on Charles’s skin, Erik leans his forehead on Charles’s arm taking a deep breath, his eyes meeting his as another hand moves to Charles’s knee, rests comfortably for a few moments before pushing it up, so it sits high and can wined round Erik’s waist. Charles makes no protest just let’s Erik do it even as he moves his hand up to his thigh still says nothing. Erik’s shimmies down the sofa bringing Charles with him and pinning his arm on the leg of the sofa above Charles’s head, the other hand still in Erik’s hair.
“You still what Charles?” His lips inches away his breathe teasing with skin, eyes so vibrant. His hand leaves Charles’s thigh, a finger moving up to trace Charles’s cheek, the gesture is to intimate and it speaks volumes and makes Charles’s heart beat so very fast and in that moment everything is perfect, there is nothing else in the world just him and Erik. When their lips meet everything is lost, Charles’s hand loosens from Erik’s grip coming to the nape of his neck, fingernails nipping at the skin. Erik slips his tongue into Charles’s mouth, licks against his teeth, and nips his lips. It’s desperate and hungry like a starved man though they’ve both been starved for years, it’s wrong how satisfying it feels just one heated kiss but yet it leaves him wanting more of Erik, just Erik.
Charles hand pulls lightly at Erik’s hair and he mumbles his name trying to concentrate on anything but the feel of Erik’s tongue against his skin. “Erik.” He whispers and Erik comes back up moving in to kiss him again but Charles presses a finger to his lips before he can. “I’m sorry, I-I can’t. I can’t do this and look him in the eye, I can’t lie to him.”
Many emotions flicker in Erik’s eyes but he leans back, his eyes hard, face unreadable the expression Charles has been so use to and his least favorite. “What is this really about?” He finally asks obvious anger in his voice and it could make Charles tell him anything.
“Nothing.” Charles says too fast.
“Charles.” Erik’s voice hard jaw tense. Charles closes his eyes feeling tears build up even when he’s been trying to keep them down after Erik’s skin left his. “We had a fight.” He whispers not looking at Erik’s face. “He’s away on a company trip with a client and I accused him...” He pauses recalling the shouting match, well mostly Charles doing the shouting. “He was attracted to him, -- Tony Stark -- I called him out on it and he admitted it but he assured me nothing was happening and I believed him.” Charles takes a deep breath, sniffing and blinking away tears. “Most importantly I can’t, won’t do anything, especially after his promise.”
“And you trust him?”
Charles doesn’t mean to hesitate but he does. “Yes.” He whispers voice weak. He huffs, letting his face fall into his hands, his suspicions and fears suddenly reignited. “Can we not talk about this please.”
“Dance with me.” Erik whispers voice husky in his ear, sending shiver down Charles’s spine. Erik wraps his arms around Charles’s waist pulling him close and Charles does the same to his neck. Erik’s breath smells of wine and smoke all familiarity. They sway Erik taking Charles’s whole body weight easily and Charles misses being held like this, like he’s the most precious thing in the world, all of Erik’s attention focused on him.
Erik presses his forehead against Charles’s eyes closed. “You love him.” He whispers voice thick and bitter.
“I love him.” Charles says though it feels more for his benefit than Erik’s reminder. To hell with it because he can only have Erik in one way and it is so cruel of Charles to say it to him but he can’t help himself. “I love you to.”
They stay like that, wrapped up in each other and when Charles buries his face in Erik’s chest he doesn’t hold back tears even as Erik presses a kiss to his head.
Charles wakes in Erik’s arms, Erik’s hand running through his hair with Charles yawning blinking himself awake. “What time is it?” He asks his throat dry and his head slightly sore from the amount of wine last night.
Erik doesn’t answer just continues to stroke Charles’s hair. “I have a plane to catch.”
Charles feels a sudden flash of surprise then remembering Erik saying last night he had to leave in the morning “Oh, where are you…?” He stops. “Back to Paris.” He breathes feeling jealous and bitter and hurt. None of which he has the right to feel.
Erik nods, thumb stroking Charles’s cheek before getting up putting on his jacket he looks like he’s hardly slept. “I have a date with my publisher set.”
Charles nods all business. “Well I could walk you out.” And he scrambles to find a coat of sorts but Erik’s hand rests on one of his shoulders to stop him “No Charles.”
“I lost myself being married,” He says suddenly with a frown not looking at Erik, “you’re no longer a full person, just a half.” He feels like it to, no longer Charles Xavier now Charles Rogers always will be, always questioned when he’s alone as if he’s not allowed to stray from his other half, all these years that can never be undone never forgotten. He finds himself resenting Steve for it just a little bit and oh god Steve…
But, yet, he can’t help but ask. “Do you think I made the wrong choice?”
He looks at him, really looks the only way Erik can making Charles feel the only way Erik can. He kisses him then, his hand soft on Charles neck and chin but the kiss itself passionate. He gives Charles one last chaste kiss, then one on Charles’s forehead.
He leaves the room, making little noise as he walks. Outside Charles can hear the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, a world still there. He hears the front door closing with a soft click alerting Charles that he is alone.
The room looks untouched just as it was left the previous day the only difference is the smell of cigarette smoke and an empty wine bottle and two wine glasses on the coffee table. Charles sits by the window staring longingly cigarette in hand. His cheeks wet with tears. The ash has built up on the end but Charles doesn’t notice too lost in though, staring out the window at cars, taxis, people walking the streets of Soho.
Charles doesn’t even notice as Steve comes in closing the door behind him with a soft click, the sound of his footsteps loud as they make contact with the wooden floor. “Charles.” He calls softly. Only then does Charles snap out of his trance. A mixture of shock, confusion and panic suddenly come over him at seeing Steve.
“What are you doing back?” He asks his voice thick with tears, Steve looks at him frowning slightly at his shabby appearance.
Steve gives a half shrug. “We finished up early.” He says just as soft as before, he looks pale, slight bags under his eyes, his gaze darts to Charles’s cigarette but he says nothing.
Charles frowns suddenly confused. “I thought the meeting was today?”
Steve swallows then gives another shrug, looking at Charles. “No, we finished early.” Charles gives a soft oh then says nothing else, dragging a hand through his brown locks.
Steve takes a step forward, he looks guilty and Charles unconsciously wipes the back of his sleeve-covered hand across his cheek. “Have you been crying?”
Charles swallows looking away fighting down more tears, “A little bit.”
Steve shakes his head exhaling loudly, his shoulder tense. “Charles.” Voice so very soft and caring but Charles doesn’t move. When Charles looks at him again Steve speaks. “I’m sorry about our fight.”
Charles grounds out his hardly touched cigarette in the sink a hand still holding onto his hair not letting go. “It’s fine, I overreacted,” he sighs shakily his stomach fluttering nervously not noticing the flash of guilt and hurt in Steve’s face. “I’m sorry.” He whispers closing his eyes as another tear escapes. “Let’s just forget about it.” He says stronger, whipping his cheeks one last time, the tension leaving him.
“Hey,” Steve whispers catching Charles’s wrist before he can disappear into the bedroom. His touch is warm against Charles’s cold skin. “You’re cold.” He says and Charles just stares, a quick intake of breath barely noticeable. “Yeah.” He says softly.
Steve’s arms curl around him in an embrace and Charles is confused by Steve sudden show of affection at first but then he’s burying his face in Steve’s chest and wrapping his arms tight around his neck just taking in his warmth, not noticing the smell of exotic cologne not belonging to Steve. Steve is tense at first but with a sigh he relaxes. “I love you.” He tells Charles and he closes his eyes. “I know.” Charles whispers back and never have the words held such gravity.
They stay like that for a while before Steve gives him one last squeeze. Charles smiles softly only for a second, his heart clenching as he takes in the handsome features of his husband. Steve smiles slightly back his gaze flickers to the coffee table something passing through his eyes before his gaze returns to Charles then noticing that Charles is still dressed in fancy evening ware but Charles notices none of this eyes too busy roaming over his face at the slight stubble, the dark bags. He is still close, a hand resting on Steve’s chest and his finger traces his cheek and he waits.
In the distance he hears sirens and car horns.
Charles’s heart clenches once more with realization, his eyes leaving Steve’s, titling his head and with it he takes a deep breath to speak.