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Under normal circumstances, Charles would have had better mental walls in place. He'd promised Erik his privacy, after all, and he had close to a lifetime of keeping himself clear of Raven's thoughts to serve as practice. But he was tired, and stressed, on edge both from meeting and evaluating so many mutants and from trying to pretend that everything was still quite groovy thank you, and nervous about the guy they'd tracked down late the previous day that had a flash thought of -- they know do I have to kill them to keep them quiet -- and so when Erik shouted Charles's name, adrenaline had him up and halfway towards the source of that shout, before he realized a few things.

One, the shout had been completely in Erik's mind, not spoken aloud. Two, Erik was currently in the shower of their motel room, and no one could have gotten in without passing Charles.

And three, based on the information Charles was pulling in (because privacy was one thing but safety was more important, and he hated going blind into any possible danger), Erik was just fine. Beyond fine. Quite satisfied, in fact, especially physically, and Charles felt himself flush hard as he realized what was going on.

Well.

At least Raven had never--

(unless she had, a traitorous part of his brain whispered.)

Charles blinked and tried very hard not to think about that at all.

#

He had more or less managed to compose himself by the time Erik came out of the bathroom, halfway dressed and with hair wet and slick. But 'more or less' was apparently not up to his usual equanimity, because Erik gave him an odd look and asked mildly, "Everything all right, Charles?"

"Yes," Charles said, and shrugged. "I was just thinking, is all."

"Ah." Erik turned to the mirror to finish buttoning his shirt. "Did you come to any conclusions?"

No, Charles thought, with humor edging a bit on the wild side, you did. But probably that sort of comment would require explanation, and any explanation involving masturbatory fantasies would be in rather poor taste. "Nothing really, no."

Erik made a noncommital noise and dropped the issue.

#

It wasn't that Charles hadn't entertained his own thoughts about Erik.

Nothing quite so vivid -- nothing like the mental image he'd gotten from Erik's mind, of Charles on his knees sucking Erik off with distinct enthusiasm -- but, well, even if he would never admit it to anyone, there had been a few fantasies. And it wasn't that Erik was male: Charles considered himself an omnivore, able to appreciate the aesthetics of anybody regardless of gender, and Erik was nothing if not an aesthetically pleasing specimen.

It was just, well, he had assumed that Erik wasn't interested.

Charles had wanted Erik -- all of Erik, mind and body and soul -- since pretty much right after they’d met. And he hadn’t even tried to be subtle about it. Not that he’d ever gotten as far as hey Erik, wanna fuck?, but he had dropped hints, and flirted like the world was ending. And Erik’s lack of response just meant some sort of no; either he wasn’t into men that way, or wasn’t into Charles for whatever reason, or was just too goddamn focused on killing Shaw to let anything as mundane as bodily pleasures get in his way.

Which was all well and good until now, when Charles had proof, of a sort, that none of that was true.

And he couldn’t do anything about it.

Hey Erik, want to re-enact the little scene you were jacking off to?

Probably not the best way to start a good day.

Hey Erik, why didn’t you tell me you wanted--

He couldn’t say anything.

#

Erik, on the other hand, could.

That evening found them in another motel room (different city, but the room was pretty much identical to the others they'd stayed in), and Charles was so preoccupied that he didn't realize Erik was trying to get his attention until Erik actually touched him.

"Charles. You're awfully distracted. What's the matter?"

"I'm not distracted," Charles insisted automatically.

Erik's eyes narrowed with suspicion. "Hmm," he said. "So who was the mutant we met with today?"

Charles opened his mouth, and closed it again. "I'm blanking on the name," he finally said, "but that doesn't mean--"

"And what was her power?"

"Um."

Erik shook his head. "Charles--"

"I'm fine!" he insisted, except that they both knew he wasn't. He scrubbed his face with one hand, and sighed. "Okay. Okay. You want the truth?"

"Yes," Erik said, frowning. "Of course. Why wouldn't I?"

Charles closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said, "I'm a telepath."

"Yes... I know..."

"Well," Charles said, and hesitated. He wasn't quite sure how to say it, and his customary eloquence had vanished. Finally, frustrated more with himself than with Erik, he abandoned words for actions and leaned in to kiss him.

Erik held still for half a second before returning the kiss with an inarticulate noise of desperate pleasure. He was breathing hard when they pulled apart, and was silent for a stretch before he licked his lower lip thoughtfully. "What brought that--" he started to ask, and then stopped. Charles could see the realization dawn in his eyes. "Oh."

"I'm sorry," Charles said, hoping that Erik could tell he meant it, that it wasn't just him parroting words. "I really am, I just. I couldn't help it. Any more than you could help noticing that the bed frame is metal rather than wood, or that I have five coins in my trouser pocket."

"Six," Erik corrected absently.

"Erik," Charles said softly. "Ever since I met you, I've..." He would probably regret this, but for now it felt exhilarating, like the adrenaline surge that comes with freefall. "I've wanted you. More than I've ever wanted anyone before." He couldn't read Erik's expression, and didn't want to try delving into his mind. "I just didn't know that you..." He trailed off.

Erik closed his eyes, and when he opened them they are dark and narrowed. "If I'd wanted you to know, I would have said something."

"Yes, of course," Charles said, feeling like an idiot. "I'll just, uh... I think I need to go for a walk?" He moved to the door, but the deadbolt flicked closed as he reached for the handle.

"Charles." Erik didn't sound angry; the tone was almost closer to despair. "It's not that I don't want to. I do. It's that... You've been in my head, you know how important it is to me to find Shaw. I can't let anything get in the way of that. Not even you."

"We will get Shaw."

"I know." Erik sounded like he believed it. "And after--"

"Yes," Charles said, feeling a spark of hope. "After."