Most days, Charles still carries a cigarette case on him. The surgeon general's report on smoking and health came out in January of 1964, and Charles Xavier smoked his last cigarette that same spring. The case has been empty for decades, but he still feels like something is missing when he doesn't have the slim rectangle in his pocket.
It was a gift from Erik, late summer of 1962 - as it turned out, the only one of Charles's birthday he ever spent in Erik's company. They were in Massachusetts (or perhaps it was Connecticut), in another of the series of indistinguishable hotels that made up their nights during that long search for others of their kind. When Charles had exited the bathroom that evening, freshly showered, he'd found the small package on the pillow of his bed, wrapped in some torn newspaper. He hadn't told Erik it was his birthday.
It was small, fitting perfectly into the palm of his hand, smooth polished steel, simple and probably inexpensive. His initials were engraved on the front, in what he could recognize as Erik's cramped old-fashioned handwriting, and when Charles opened the case there was an inscription inside, so small it was easy to miss and hard to read, nothing but the day's date and from E.
"You've been practicing the finer points of your control," Charles said, clearing his throat. "Well done." He'd tried his hardest not to sound sentimental, but Erik had laughed at him anyway.
He had the opportunity to use the case for its intended purpose for the first time later the same evening, when he'd unfolded himself, somewhat reluctantly, from Erik's sticky embrace and reached across the bed to the nightstand.
"A post-coital fag, Charles?" Erik had said; he was still horizontal, watching Charles with an amused expression, and despite the mocking tone, he was still out of breath enough to allow Charles to feel quite smug. "You never miss a chance to indulge in cliche, do you?"
"Oh, don't spoil the afterglow, darling," Charles said, blowing out a smoke ring, and when Erik pulled him back down to the bed, they shared the rest of the smoke, handing it back and forth between them until it was gone.