Camp, Erik thinks, is just another form of institutional torture.
He hates it. He hates that some stupid human in the Department of Mutant Youth Services thinks she can tell him what to do. He hates that she thinks that this is the best option for him. He really hates that she thinks it will somehow be helpful, like it's four weeks of sitting around, holding hands and getting to know other teenage mutants in mutant foster care instead of what it is--just a larger, outdoor group home, but with kids nominally in charge.
At least he's one of the kids in charge this year. Things will probably go at least slightly better than they had when he was a camper.
Still, it's not a "learning experience." It's a month in the woods being forced into trust exercises with people he doesn't trust and scavenger hunts and cookouts and singing dopey songs, as if those things will cure them all of the trauma that makes them all such assholes.
This week, it's even worse.
He'd seen the other camp on the far side of the lake. It was a big lake, but not that big, and sometimes both camps went out boating at the same time. Erik didn't really think about it. He had enough shit to worry about without sparing a thought for what some other group of kids forced into sitting around a campfire and sharing their feelings were up to. He'd heard from some of the other kids that it was another mutant camp, but that was about it.
Until this week. Fucking hell. Seven days of "cross-camp cooperation" and games and prizes and the goddamn brats at Xavier's Camp for Gifted Youngsters were all the sort of pleasantly bland idiots who did this every year by choice and not because their social worker forced them to. Azazel had been quick to fill him in on the rumors he'd heard about Camp Xavier, the type of stuck-up assholes who went there, and the hell they were likely to bring with them as they whined and complained about the accommodations for seven days.
It's going to be hell. And it's only the first day.
Erik's been tasked with coming up with hiding places for the scavenger hunt. He'd honestly zoned out while Moira had been instructing him on the details of the whole thing. They would be broken into teams, half kids from Brotherhood, half kids from Xavier's, with a counselor from each leading the way. The first team to follow the clues to find all the hidden objects and make it back to the lake would win. Blah blah blah. Moira was--Erik would grudgingly, under duress, admit--kind of mostly okay for a human and a boss, especially since she was quick to give him jobs like this that kept him away from everyone else, but she was stupidly invested in this cross-camp bullshit. He'd taken the map of the trails surrounding the two camps, nodded a vague assent, and taken off before she could say anything else.
And, he has to admit, three hours wandering around the woods by himself isn't that bad. He generally prefers to stay on camp, where there are fences and pipes and nails and railings and cot frames and stainless steel campware all within his reach, but without the constant hum of all the metal surrounding him on a daily basis, there's a kind of peace here. He feels like, if he concentrates hard enough, he can actually feel the magnetic fields of the Earth, like his Mutant Development Counselor in school always claims he will one day.
He reaches a fork in the trail and glances down at the map. Right leads to the clearing around the stream where some of the counselors who are more invested in this whole camp thing like to take their kids for picnics. Erik chooses to go left. He makes it maybe ten yards down the trail before there's a gentle buzz of body-warm metal making its way into his awareness. It's a watch and a pen and a canteen and the zipper and pocket snaps on a pair of cargo shorts. He pauses, considers turning around and going back, but before he can manage, the metal starts to move towards him and a boy in a blue Camp Xavier t-shirt and baggy shorts starts to crest the hill.
"Hello!" he calls out as he makes his way down the other side towards Erik. "Are you looking for scavenger hunt locations too?"
Erik rolls his eyes and sighs.
"Yes," Erik says. He crosses his arms across his chest, but the other boy doesn't pick up on his aura of disinterest. If anything, his smile brightens and he picks up his pace.
"Brilliant," the boy says. He's British, and his accent makes all his words sound older and more adult, even though he looks too young to even be a counselor. "We can go together and finish in half the time." He offers Erik his hand. Like, to shake. It's obviously not just the accent making him seem old. "My name is Charles. You're Erik, right?"
Erik narrows his eyes and squeezes Charles' hand just a bit too tightly. He doesn't flinch, though, so Erik has to give him credit for that.
"How did you know that?" he asks.
"Oh," Charles says. His cheeks go pink. It serves to further highlight the scattering of freckles across his face. "I just noticed you during introductions last night, that's all." He looks away from Erik, then glances back and quickly looks away again. He has really inhumanly huge blue eyes. The eyes and the freckles and his floppy hair and his smile--if Erik wasn't predisposed to hating everyone at Camp Xavier, he'd probably find Charles attractive. As it is, of course, he doesn't. Of course he doesn't.
He takes his hand back, belatedly, and huffs, looking away.
"Listen," he says. "I don't know what you people think this week is going to be like, but none of us care, all right?" He looks back at Charles, whose face is thoughtfully indifferent. "We're not bored rich assholes with nothing better to do during the summer than go to camp. We don't want to be here. It's just slightly better than anywhere else we could be."
Charles' expression doesn't change. "People have lots of different reasons for coming to camp," he says, but doesn't elaborate. He lets it sit for a moment and then says, "As I said, if we work together, we finish more quickly and you can spend the rest of the time doing whatever you want. Everyone wins, yes?"
Erik considers it for a moment and then nods begrudgingly. It elicits a small smile from Charles, and prompts him to come closer, holding out a map identical to Erik's. Like Erik's, there are a few spots marked with an X, indicating potential hiding places. Erik compares the two maps and then points down the trail that Charles had come from.
"Well, let's keep going this way, then," he says, and starts to trudge up the hill with Charles following behind him.
"So, why do you come to camp if you don't want to be here?" Charles asks.
"My social worker makes me," Erik says. He hopes his tone will shut down the conversation, but Charles just hums in response.
"I love camp," Charles says. "Sometimes it's a fight to get here, but I can't imagine missing it."
Erik can't imagine what he means. Maybe it's hard to find time to spend a month outdoors when there are sports to play and friends to lounge around the pool with.
"Whatever," Erik says. At the top of the hill, the path narrows and as it curls down the other side, the trees give way and drop off in a sharply angled incline that leads to the side of the mountain they're situated beneath. There are some small, shallow caves beneath it, and Erik's about to suggest that they might be a good hiding place when he loses his footing on the mixture of earth and gravel covering the trail. He reaches out to steady himself, but the only thing he can find purchase with is Charles' arm. Charles shouts in surprise, and then they're both tumbling down the trail, down the incline and straight towards the mountain.
Oh god, Erik's going to die at fucking camp.
His mind is whirling in a panic so thick he almost can't see through it. He reaches out for anything to slow their fall, and yanks.
They stop, right at the end of the incline.
No, they stop hovering over the end of the incline.
He's still clutching Charles' forearm. Charles has his other arm wrapped around Erik's chest, and he opens his eyes slowly, staring up at Erik in wonder.
"What did you do?" he asks.
"I don't know," Erik admits. "I just--"
Before he can even attempt to explain, there's a rumbling sound. They both turn towards the source in time to see several large boulders rolling towards them. Their fall must have triggered a landslide.
"Oh my god," Charles says, and they drop the three feet to the ground. Erik glances up at the incline towards the path. There's no time to scramble up it.
"In here!" Charles says. He grabs Erik's arm and pulls him towards the mountain, into one of the shallow caves. It only goes back about ten feet, and Charles shoves him as far back as it goes, pressing him against the wall with his body as the rumbling fills their ears for endless seconds. Erik squeezes his eyes shut and fists his hands in Charles' t-shirt.
When world quiets to just the sound of their harsh breathing, Erik opens his eyes.
Then he opens them again, because it obviously didn't work the first time. It's still dark.
He blinks repeatedly. "What the hell?" he asks. His voice is pitched higher than normal, threaded with a panic he'd like to hide in front of this stranger, even as his heart starts beating double-time. "What the hell?"
Charles shakes loose from his grasp. The warmth of his body slips away from Erik and he grabs desperately, instinctively towards Charles, but it's too late. He hears Charles' footsteps across the rock floor of the cave, too far away for Erik to reach him without moving, but he suddenly can't move.
"We're stuck," Charles says. "The front entrance is blocked by rocks. I don't suppose your power is moving rocks, is it?"
Erik can hear his breaths coming faster.
"Erik?" Charles asks. Erik's not sure he can respond. "Erik!" More footsteps, this time coming towards him. He feels Charles' hands on his chest, sliding up to his shoulders, movements frantic and panicked in the dark. "Erik, are you all right? Are you hurt? What's wrong?"
He tries to take a deep breath, but it's not enough air and he's taking another and another.
"It's--I don't--I don't like--" he tries to say. "I can't--"
Charles' fingers graze over his head and he winces at a cut on his jaw that he hadn't realized was there. It's not enough to distract him, though, they're trapped in the dark and it's happening all over again.
"Erik, are you claustrophobic?" Charles asks, holding Erik's face between his hands. Erik barely hears him over the ringing in his ears. "Erik!"
Calm your mind!
The voice in his head is enough to startle him from his flashbacks, firm and unexpected, but somehow kind. Erik gasps and blinks against the darkness, but the panic returns when he still can't see.
No, no, calm down, Erik. It's okay. We're okay, we're going to be fine, they're going to come get us, but you need to calm your mind before you pass out.
The voice is familiar. It's Charles' voice, Charles who's right here with him, Charles who's holding him steady and, god, Charles is here, how did Charles get here, Shaw's going to go after him too, he needs to--
Erik, it's okay. We're not wherever you think we are. It's just us. We're in a cave. We're at camp. It's just you and me. We're going to be fine. Just please calm down.
Erik reaches out and finds Charles' arms, gets a good grip on them and squeezes. He's not alone. He's not alone.
"You're not," Charles says. "You're not alone, I promise, I'm here too."
"Telepath," Erik manages to say between breaths.
"Yes," Charles says. "Yes, that's good. Keep talking. I'm a telepath. And as soon as I'm sure you're okay, I'm going to contact the people at camp and they're going to come for us."
Erik tries to breathe. He's in a cave. He's in a cave at camp with Charles. He's not in Shaw's basement. There's no one coming to hurt him. He's okay. He's okay.
"You are," Charles says. "You're fine, Erik. I've got you."
It's a struggle to breathe easily again, and Erik holds on to Charles' arms even more tightly as he forces himself not to chase after each breath.
"I'm sorry," he finally manages to say. "I didn't mean to--"
"Don't apologize," Charles says quietly. "It's okay. Can you sit down?"
Erik forces himself to sit on the ground with his back against the cave wall. Charles follows him and sits close enough that they're pressed together from shoulder to hip. The amount of relief that Erik feels at having another body pressed close to his is overwhelming. He doesn't know how to express his gratitude, so he ties it up tightly and keeps it to himself.
"Are you okay?" Charles asks. "I mean, aside from--" He clears his throat. "Did you get hurt during the fall?"
Erik checks himself over. He doesn't feel hurt, but he also knows that when he has an episode like this, he doesn't always connect with his body. He runs his hands over his arms, his chest, and his legs. His fingers graze Charles' body and Charles starts at the touch.
"I didn't mean to--" Erik says, but Charles leans back against him.
"It's fine," he says quickly. "I just wasn't expecting it." Something about the way he says it is awkward. It's floating between them now, elusive and tense. Erik's mind isn't clear enough for him to pin it down.
"Uh, are you okay?" he manages to ask.
"Oh, yes," Charles says. "I'm fine. And if we're both fine, then I'm going to see if I can contact the camp director and get us rescued sooner rather than later, hm?"
"Please," Erik says, and rests his head against the wall. Even though he can't see through the darkness, he's still afraid to close his eyes, afraid he'll slip back into that dank basement, just waiting for Shaw to--
He feels Charles' hand curl around his wrist and he's brought back to the present. Right. He's in a cave. He's at camp. He's with Charles. He's not stuck in the past.
There's a breeze coming from somewhere, so at least they don't have to worry about running out of air. The cave is cooler than it was outside, but not cold, so they probably won't get hypothermia. Charles had a canteen on him that Erik can still feel attached to his belt, so they won't die of thirst. Erik's canteen is long gone, probably lost during their initial tumble, but Charles is bringing help, so that won't matter.
He lets out a shaky breath.
"My camp director is calling yours and they're going to get a team together to come down here and dig us out," Charles tells him. "We'll be fine."
"Great," Erik says. "And until then?"
There's a dripping noise echoing through the cave. It's the only sound beside their breathing.
"We could always get to know each other?" Charles suggests. Erik snorts.
"Any other suggestions?" he asks.
That strange awkward tension is back.
"No," Charles says quickly. "Uh, my name is Charles. I'm from New York."
"City or state?" Erik asks. He's intrigued despite himself. Erik had pegged him as an international counselor based on the accent alone.
"State," Charles says. "North Salem."
"I'm from the city," Erik says. "Brooklyn."
"We're practically neighbors," Charles says. "Or, we are for the next few months, at least."
"Are you moving or something?" Erik asks. Talking is good. Talking means he doesn't have to think about where he is and why.
"College," Charles says, and some satisfaction bleeds through, warm and proud.
"No way," Erik says. "There's no way you're eighteen."
"I'm not," Charles says. "I just turned seventeen. But I'm smart." He says it without any hint of smugness, like he's merely reporting a fact. That, more than the words, leads Erik to believe that it's true. "I could have gone last year, but I had to have four phys ed credits and my stepfather wouldn't sign the form to waive the last two. This year, I ran fall and winter track and convinced the headmaster to allow me to count them as credits. Kurt couldn't stop me."
"Where are you going?" Erik asks. It sounds like there's more to Charles' stepfather than just blocking him from getting into college early, but that's Charles' story to tell and Erik's not a hypocrite--he's not going to force anyone to talk about their family if they don't want to.
"Harvard," Charles says promptly. "I'm going to study genetics. I find mutation fascinating and there's so little research done from a mutant perspective. The early work, of course, was all figuring out where we came from and why and now the focus is mostly on mapping out the code to find the key to mutation, but I'm more interested in the variation. There's so much of it and it's so wonderful, don't you think? All of the things we can do. It's spectacular."
Erik's never thought of himself or his mutation as "spectacular" before. It's not that he's one of those self-haters, hoping for a cure, but it's just a part of him, like being tall or being Jewish. A part of him that's gotten him into trouble more than once. It's cool when he can let it out, but it happens infrequently and he's usually stuck doing stupid coin tricks just to remind himself that it's still there.
"Oh, but you can be so much more than that!" Charles says. His hand is still holding Erik's wrist and it slides down so their fingers interlock. "There's so much metal all around us every day--it's such a huge part of our society and you have a connection to all of it, to the Earth itself. That's how you stopped us from falling, isn't it?"
Something sharp burns through Erik's veins.
"Don't go into my head without my permission," he snaps. "You can't just...listen in on what I'm thinking. That's not fair."
Charles is silent.
"I'm sorry," he finally says. "Sometimes I get carried away. It's dark and it's hard to--I'm relying on my telepathy more heavily since I can't use my sight and sometimes it's just--difficult. Especially since your mind is so brilliant. And, ah, because we're touching." He shifts over, further away from Erik, and Erik feels like a lout. That feeling increases when Charles gently lets go of his hand. He's close enough that Erik can still feel the heat of his body, but they're no longer touching and Erik feels strangely bereft.
"I don't know how I stopped us," Erik says after a moment, trying to navigate the conversation away from the echos of shame and pain that are still echoing in his head, even now that Charles has extracted himself from Erik's mind. "I just reached out and...pulled."
"Without knowing you and what you can do personally, that's my best guess," Charles says. "We were hovering over the ground. I think, in your panic, you tore open a part of yourself that you haven't yet learned how to fully access and used the Earth's natural magnetic fields to stop us from falling."
That's what his MDC is always saying. Not that Erik used to believe him. Maybe now he has proof. Maybe this really has been inside of him all the time, tramped down by Shaw and then by social workers and disinterested teachers and nervous foster parents and the fear and chaos of the group homes and....
And he really doesn't want to think about this while sitting alone in the dark. He swallows.
"Do you play any other sports?" he asks Charles. "Besides track?"
"No," Charles says. "I'm not really a fan, to be honest. I didn't even like track very much, but I'm a decent runner and I needed the credits. You?"
"Nothing," Erik says. "I'm not really a team player. I swam for a little while, when I was at a school with a pool, but then I was moved and the new place doesn't have a swim team. Uh. I play chess."
"Really?" That's got Charles' interest. "I do too! I love chess."
"My new school does have a chess team," Erik says. "But it's hardly worth it--I can cream everyone on the team no problem. There's no one who's a challenge to play against."
"Same for me," Charles says. "None of the other kids will even bother to play me anymore. I've been playing practically my whole life. My dad taught me when I was young."
Erik swallows. "Mine too," he says quietly. "I mean...my real dad."
"Oh," Charles says. It's quiet for a moment, and then Charles slowly shifts closer. He's still not touching Erik, but the space between them has disappeared almost completely. "We should play a game sometime. Once we get out of here."
"Yeah," Erik agrees. He has to clear his throat to get the word out. "Yeah, we should."
Charles coughs a little and shuffles around. After a pause he asks, "So, do you have, uh, a girlfriend?" There's something odd about his tone as he asks. Erik tries not to read into it.
"No," he says. He's tempted to leave it at that, but Charles has been kind to him, Charles talked him down from a panic attack and Charles is trying to open up to him. Normally, Erik doesn't care about these things--he's past the point of relying on other people's kindness, of giving into it. He should be ignoring Charles until they're dug out and he can go back to his life, but something about Charles draws him in. "I had a boyfriend for a little while," he says, coming clean. "Sort. We didn't really go on dates or anything, we just hooked up and hung out sometimes. We broke up when I moved schools. Which is probably best, because he was sort of a dick and we had to keep the whole thing secret from his parents and it sucked. But no one since."
"Oh," Charles says. He doesn't sound very sympathetic or disappointed. Erik tries not to read too much into that. Or think about the color of Charles' eyes and how he'd smiled when they were out on the trail together. "I don't have anyone either. I mean, I've dated a couple people, but people get strange about telepaths. There was a boy whose mother worked for my step-father, but he didn't actually like me very much, he was just lonely and horny."
"That's too bad," Erik says. He thinks he means it. He's clearly been in the dark too long--it's starting to get to him.
"Mm," Charles says, non-committally. "Anyway, I'm sure there will be more than enough time for that sort of thing once I get to college."
"Yeah," Erik says. He ignores the lurch in his stomach at that thought. Charles is pretty and young and people will probably be falling all over themselves to-- "Uh. Why--why do you like camp so much?" he asks quickly, before his brain can follow that thought to its logical conclusion, to Charles pressed up against the wall of an anonymous Cambridge pub while some stranger slides a knee between Charles' legs and kisses him and--
Camp. Camp. Camp. Charles is talking about camp and Charles is a telepath and Erik needs to focus and listen.
"--a chance to really explore their powers in a safe environment," Charles is saying. "It's not perfect, of course, but there are so few opportunities for us and the idea of spending four whole weeks without having to hide a single part of you is just wonderful, isn't it?"
"I don't know," Erik admits. "I've never really thought about it that way. I don't really get a choice in coming here. It's always been more of...the summer version of a group home, I guess. And I guess I don't...I mean, I don't go around throwing cars around or anything, but I don't really hide myself, you know? That was why my ex's closet deal was such bullshit. What's the point in hiding who you are and where you come from?"
"I wish I had that kind of confidence," Charles murmurs. "It's funny--I actually like the dark. At night, in the dark, alone in my room, I always felt like I could finally be myself. I didn't have to put on a show for anyone. I could just...be me. So few people allow that. Even my sister--I love her, I do, more than anything, but even she pulls away sometimes. I suppose it's natural." He sighs. "Anyway, it's just funny. I don't mind being here at all, but I can feel how much it's hurting you, and I hurt for it, too."
Erik breathes deeply, fighting to fill his lungs. He doesn't need to explain this. He knows that. But Charles sounds so small and he's already freaked out all over him. It's not like this is anything more than vaguely filling in the blanks.
"My parents were killed a long time ago," Erik says. "I was just a kid. And my first foster father--he wasn't--he--" He swallows past the panic. He's practically an adult. He can talk about this.
"Erik, you don't need to explain yourself," Charles says. He touches Erik's wrist again, and as he starts to withdraw his hand, Erik takes it and holds it tightly.
"He was a mutant too," Erik says. "I guess they figured that meant he'd be a good dad to another mutant. But he, he locked me in this room in the basement. When I was bad. When I lost control of my powers. When he asked me to do something and I did it wrong. And then he'd--he'd-- And I--I was really young and he was supposed to be my dad and I was afraid to fight back. And it's just...he's in jail, but sometimes I think about--sometimes I go right back there and I--"
"Erik!" Charles says. He squeezes Erik's hand. "It's okay, Erik. You're not there, you're here, and it's perfectly--"
"It's stupid," Erik says through clenched teeth. His heart is hammering in his chest, the walls are closing in around him and he squeezes his eyes shut. He's not in the basement, he's not in the basement, he's not--
Something calm and serene wraps around his head. It wraps around his whole body, really, comforting and gentle. Erik opens his eyes and half expects to be transported into some perfect valley with fields of wildflowers. Instead, he's still in the dark. Charles is touching his cheek.
Come back to me, Charles says in his mind, and Erik turns in Charles' direction, though he can't see him.
"Sorry," he says again.
"Don't apologize," Charles says. "Please. Stop apologizing. I should be the one apologizing. I shouldn't have said anything. You don't need to explain yourself." He pauses and shifts about. He's sitting right next to Erik again, pressed up alongside him. "My father died too," Charles says. "When I was young. And my mother remarried a man who is...not very nice. And--I lied about--I lied about a lot of things, actually."
Erik stiffens. He doesn't like being made a fool.
"No, no," Charles says quickly. "Nothing like that. Just. Well. My surname is Xavier."
Oh fuck. Erik's been stuck in a cave with a descendent of the guy who founded Camp Xavier. Erik's heard about him. Last night at campfire, Azazel was going on and on about how Xavier's brat is the worst of the lot over there, that he was worth millions and it showed, that he was a counselor even though he was too young, that they let him all but run the place because they were afraid of him, afraid he'd pull the money from the camp. Erik had barely listened at the time, but he knew the type and he'd shook his head in solidarity and muttered about how he hoped he didn't get stuck working with Xavier.
It's sort of ironic now. And Charles is nothing like he expected.
"You're...different than I thought you'd be," Erik says. Charles laughs, but it sounds sad.
"I get that a lot," he says. "My grandfather founded the camp. And of course I went every year, but after my father died...my stepfather thinks it's a waste of my time. He'd close the whole thing down if it wasn't funded through a trust left in my father's will. So I lied about why I love camp. All of those other things are true, about kids being themselves and using their powers, but mostly it's four weeks that I don't have to spend with Kurt, that I don't have to worry about--him." Erik fills in the blanks. He fists his free hand, nails biting into his palm. "Four weeks that I get to spend somewhere my father loved."
Erik can't actually fault Charles for the lie. He's not sure how to offer comfort, though, what there is to offer, even. He doesn't normally bother offering comfort to others, but he finds, with Charles, he wants to. He wants to take the pain away, somehow. He wants to make Charles better.
It's a strange feeling. He lets go of Charles hand and puts his arm around his shoulders. He hopes it's enough.
"I lied about one more thing," Charles says, leaning against Erik.
"Yeah?" Erik asks.
"I didn't remember your name because I paid attention to all the staff during introductions," Charles says. "I saw you helping to unload one of the vans and...well, I thought you were...really cute. So I asked someone your name. She told me to be careful, but I guess I couldn't help myself when I saw you on the trail."
If Erik concentrates on the press of Charles' body against his, he can almost forget they're alone in the dark. Everything else is far away, his past, his trauma, the panic that's skirting the edges of his perception. He pulls Charles' more closely against him and presses his fingertips to the skin of Charles' arm, right where the sleeve of his t-shirt ends. He drags his fingers down as far as they'll go. Charles shivers.
"Erik," he says. His voice trembles. "You can't--"
He does it again and Charles makes a quiet, inarticulate sound. When Erik raises a hand to tilt his face up, Charles does it willingly.
He moves slowly to make sure he has the right trajectory, that his lips meet Charles' lips and not his nose or his cheek. When their lips touch, Charles makes another quiet noise and presses himself up into the kiss. His lips are soft and so is the skin of his face and neck. He kisses eagerly and curls his hand over Erik's shoulder, pulling him closer. Charles is giddy and scared and elated and all of those things wash over Erik distantly, through the strange lens of telepathy. Erik can't pretend he's not feeling the same things as something warm pools in his gut and he tugs at Charles until Charles is straddling his lap, sitting on top of him as they kiss with more ferocity.
He can't breathe again, but this time it's not from fear but from something better. His heart is beating wildly in his chest and Charles' is too, as Charles licks at Erik's teeth until Erik opens his mouth to allow the kiss to become even more heated. He drags his thumbnail along the soft skin behind Charles' ear and Charles pulls away to moan out loud, shivering against Erik. Erik takes that as encouragement and moves his mouth to the same spot, first kissing and then gently applying his teeth and lips, sucking a bruise into the skin while Charles writhes on his lap.
He doesn't think he's ever wanted someone like this before. A part of his mind thinks it's situational--Charles is here with him in his worst nightmare and has offered comfort. Of course Erik is grateful. But the rest of him is enchanted by Charles' mouth, by his wandering hands, by the quiet noises he's making and the eagerness with which he rocks against Erik. He's already getting hard, but then, so is Erik. He wants to laugh--this is insane. They're trapped in a cave in the middle of the woods at camp and all he wants to do is put his hands all over Charles Xavier.
He slips his hands up under Charles' shirt and drags his nails down his back. Charles arches his back and moans again, pressing even closer.
"Oh god, oh god," Charles says as another wordless jumble of emotions bleeds through and washes over Erik, dialing up every sound, every touch of skin, until he's out of his mind with how much he wants Charles. He reaches for the button on Charles' shorts, cursing the plastic. Before he can manage to get it undone, though, Charles stills and grabs his hand.
"No, please," he says quietly. "Not here? Not--please not here?"
Erik blinks through the lust, but freezes, stopping as asked.
"Uh," he says.
"We can keep--I just don't--I'm sure you think it's silly, but I don't want this to happen somewhere I can't see you."
That's...weirdly sweet. Erik lets go of Charles’ pants and slides his hands up to Charles' shoulders.
"We can keep kissing though, right?" he asks. Charles laughs. He sounds almost shy.
"Yes, please," Charles says. Erik can feel his smile, even if he can't see it. He smiles back and leans in for another kiss.
It's been a long time since Erik has spent this much time just kissing someone else. It's possible he never has. He can't imagine why, though--it's amazing. He's not even sure how long they've been at it, now, just that his lips feel pleasantly sensitive and he's dizzy with the urge to keep kissing for as long as he can. Even the need to get off is a sort of distant demand, clouded by the affection rolling off of Charles and the joy Erik finds in cataloging the various sounds he makes as Erik kisses his throat, his ears, his jaw.
"I wish I could see you," Charles gasps against his ear as Erik leaves a line of sharp, biting kisses from his jaw to the collar of his shirt. Charles' breath is hot and damp and Erik tugs the neck of his t-shirt down further to leave a hickey on his collarbone, dragging his teeth over it gently and then sucking. "I can't wait to--oh. Shit."
Erik barely has time to register the change in tone before Charles is pushing back, scooting off of his lap. Without the weight of Charles bearing down on top of him, Erik suddenly remembers where he is and why. He sucks in a sharp breath, but before he can do anything else, Charles is pressed up against his side again, squeezing his hand.
"No, no," Charles says. "It's just, they're here. My sister and my camp director and a young woman from your camp named Moira and my friend Armando and a boy from your camp who can--oh, he can emit plasma energy from his chest? That's marvellous!"
"Summers," Erik confirms. "Are they going to try and blast us out?"
"Armando is going to try and move the rocks first," Charles says. "His mutation is really very remarkable. He can adapt to whatever it is the situation requires. In this case, super strength. It's amazing to watch him in action. If he can't manage it, they're going to have your friend try to blast the debris away."
"Then," Erik says, "if it's all the same to you, darkness or not, I think we should have sex now, because we're probably going to die."
Charles rolls his eyes. Erik knows this because he sends confirmation of the gesture to Erik mentally.
"That's a rude thing to think about your friend," Charles says. "Just because he lacks control--"
"First off, he's not my friend," Erik says. "He's a kid who works at the same camp as me. Secondly, you've never seen Summers try to control himself. Moira had to find a place that sells fire extinguishers in bulk."
"You should have a little faith," Charles says. "People might surprise you."
"Not in my experience," Erik says. Charles squeezes his hand and Erik amends, "Well, sometimes, maybe."
That earns him another quick kiss and a prevailing feeling of contentment.
Charles keeps him up to speed on the attempts to dig them out. It only takes half an hour for the first bits of light to start to bleed through, and after that, it feels like barely any time until Armando is clearing the last of the rocks away. When the dust clears, Charles and Erik are standing at the back of the cave. They're still holding hands as they squint at the light. Erik's eyes aren't adjusted enough to make out the blue and red blur that whizzes past him and yanks Charles' hand out of his by yanking Charles away into an embrace.
"Raven," Charles manages to choke out.
"You asshole!" Raven replies. It sounds as if she's been crying. "You idiot!"
"I'm fine, Raven, thank you for asking," Charles says. "Really, we were perfectly okay."
Raven pulls back and wipes at her eyes, then regards her brother closely. Frowning, she turns to Erik and her eyes widen.
"Charles," she says, quiet enough that only Charles and Erik can hear, "have you just spent four hours trapped in a cave, making out with the creepy hot guy?"
Charles goes scarlet. It's as endearing as Erik imagined while they were stranded in the dark. It makes him want to kiss Charles again.
"It wasn't for the whole four hours," he mutters, and Raven sighs dramatically and steps away.
"He's fine," she announces dryly, and grabs Charles' hand and drags him out. Erik follows after them. There's a small crowd gathered outside, Moira and Summers and a few younger campers that Erik doesn't know, along with a middle-aged guy that he assumes is Charles' camp director and a couple other kids their age. Charles waves at them in greeting as they all start talking at once. Moira approaches Erik with her hands on her hips.
"You okay?" she asks.
"I'm fine," he says.
"Well, we're gonna have the nurse check you over anyway, but I'm glad to hear it," she says. "It would have been impossible to find another counselor this late in the season."
"Always happy to help," Erik says, rolling his eyes. Moira nods at him and Erik nods back and that's that.
Charles, meanwhile, is still being coddled by the half dozen people crowded around him. Erik would be amused if he wasn't so intent on studying every single inch of Charles' body now that they're in the daylight.
Patience, darling, Charles says in his head. Erik shakes his head at the endearment. We'll have plenty of time for that later.
When? Erik asks, projecting carefully towards Charles. He's not sure how many other telepaths are here. I'm not wild about climbing on top of you at the campfire tonight, but I will if I have to.
Oh, I don't plan on going to the campfire, Charles says. I'm feeling a little bit concussed. I might need to spend the night in the infirmary. Where I'll be all alone once the nurse leaves camp for the night.
Erik smiles slowly.
"Oh god," Moira says. "That look never ends well for me."
Now that you mention it, Erik says. I'm maybe feeling a little concussed as well.
"Are we ready to head back up?" Charles' camp director asks.
Erik holds out his hand and Charles breaks away from his entourage and takes it firmly in his own. The van is waiting to take them back to camp and, for once, Erik is looking forward to getting back. He has a feeling his summer is about to get monumentally better.