It was raining again, fat teardrops that ran in thick streams down the windowpane. Charles followed one with a fingertip, idly watching the landscape rush by in a blur of green-brown-blue. Two hours into his 4-hour train journey and already his backside was numb, he was hungry, and the nagging start of a headache was setting up camp behind his eyes. At least he had been lucky enough to grab a table seat by himself, a small slice of solitude after a busy working week.
The last train to London from Edinburgh, Scotland; finally, he was almost home. Edinburgh had been fun – if one could call holding lectures at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine fun, which Charles could – but the call of London was a curiously strong phenomenon. The place was overly crowded, expensive, full of crime, and yet his extortionately priced one-bedroomed flat was indeed where his heart lay. He couldn’t wait to be reunited with his comfortable couch and abundance of well-read books that lined the walls and stood stacked in the hallway and bathroom and bedroom. Heck, even the traffic noise and the smell of Chinese takeout across the street would be welcomed after the cold, bracing air of Scotland.
He was going to miss the Scottish accents though. So many unique dialects and slang terms, their minds often as foreign to him as someone thinking in a different language altogether. His poor attempts at replicating it hadn't gone down too well with his Scottish colleagues, though they had begrudgingly enjoyed the Proclaimers songs.
Shifting in his seat, Charles stifled a yawn and tried to force his attention back onto his work, a small pile of papers spread out across the table. The topic of Genetics was one he could – and often did – spend hours talking about. A Professor of London's Human Genetics Research Centre, Charles specialised in Genetic Mutation and Human Evolution. The subject was still annoyingly controversial even in such a modern day and age; most people simply didn’t want to acknowledge that mutants existed. They didn’t like to think of people who could walk through walls or read their thoughts, and until recent years his research had been rejected from most leading Universities. Charles himself had been the unfortunate victim of a number of hate crimes thanks to his rising status as a telepath, from slashed tyres and egged windows to the more serious muggings and break-ins. Fortunately Dr Hank McCoy, head of the Research Centre, had allowed him to conduct his lectures unhindered, as often as he liked, for a reasonable wage. It probably helped that Hank was a mutant himself, and had an enormous crush on Charles’ adopted sister, Raven.
Grimacing against the steady ache in his head, Charles pressed his temple to the cool window. The sun had long since vanished beneath the horizon, washing the cloudy sky in blue and black watercolours. The train wasn’t scheduled to reach Kings Cross until just before midnight, but at least the off-peak timing was cheaper, even with a First Class ticket. It wasn't that Charles didn't have the money for an earlier ticket, but staying in Edinburg later than planned had given him the opportunity to attend a lecture held by Dr. Moira MacTaggert, a leading Geneticist and expert in mutant affairs. Arguing his ideals with such a bright and intelligent mind had been well worth the lost hours; he would just need to be extra careful once he arrived in London, and fork out the ridiculous price for a taxi rather than risk walking home through the dark streets.
The train began to slow, pulling into a small station. Charles didn’t bother to take note of the name, watching quietly as departing passengers bundled coats and scarves around themselves, the open carriage doors letting in a whoosh of icy wind. A sheet of his paperwork lifted from the table on the updraft and lazily fluttered to the floor.
Sighing irritably, Charles ducked under the table to reach it, startled when a pair of legs appeared on the other side. Damn it – he’d lost his private haven with the crush of new passengers arriving. Most likely they would do what all normal passengers did when forced to sit in face-to-face seating: politely ignore each other.
Clutching the paper triumphantly, Charles straightened up in his seat with an ungraceful flop – and felt the air choke from his lungs on a silent gasp.
The man sitting opposite him was quite possibly the most delicious thing Charles had ever laid eyes upon. Hair the colour of burnt copper was stained a deep auburn by the torrential rain and swept back from his forehead in a slick wave. His eyes matched the stormy sky darkening the windows, and were narrowed in a frown as he shrugged out of a rather waterlogged leather jacket. Charles’ breath caught in his throat as he watched one long-fingered hand rub over a jaw sporting a perfect example of five-o’clock shadow.
Charles’ gaze travelled lower, mesmerised by the shift of muscle beneath the man’s ridiculously thin Henley. Did he not feel the early October cold? The twin peaks of his nipples through the fabric suggested that yes, he did, and Charles swallowed hard.
So lost in his staring, it took Charles a few moments to realise that the stranger had noticed, and was watching him with a raised eyebrow. Charles flushed, smiling apologetically, and forced his eyes back to the window. The boring, nipple-less window.
Headache rapidly dispersing, Charles focused on the man’s reflection instead. Jesus, he was gorgeous, the kind of gorgeous that should be highly illegal. He looked adorably grumpy, a general hum of annoyance tainting his surface thoughts. Charles longed to dip inside, to search out a name, a sexuality, a relationship status. But no – telepaths had a bad enough reputation without Charles adding fuel to the fire and rifling through a stranger’s head like a rolodex. He had long ago made a reluctant promise with himself to stick to surface thought and emotion; turning those off was akin to going simultaneously deaf and blind. It was a promise he was finding increasingly hard to keep.
The stranger was looking at him. As well as seeing him in the reflection of the window, Charles could practically feel the burn of his eyes as they dragged over him. The grumpy air began to dissipate, slowly transcending into curiosity and then – yes – interest. A red-pink haze of attraction wrapped around Charles’ senses, the colours bleeding alongside the emotion as they so often did on the surface. If he hadn’t been positive he would scare the poor man away, Charles would have fist-pumped the air in victory.
He turned back to his work, a thrill sizzling up his spine. Resting his chin in one cupped hand, he absently made a few scribbled notes in the margins of his notepad with a small, enigmatic smile curling his lips. The man watched from the corner of his eyes, leaning back in his seat and pretending not to have an interest in what Charles was doing. Charles picked up an image, brief but sharp, of his own hand holding the pen as it darted back and forth across the page. Charles couldn’t help but be surprised; he disliked his hands, with their stubby fingers, wide palms and blotchy ink stains. At least the stranger seemed to like them, if the deepening sense of attraction was anything to go by.
Emboldened, Charles looked up and offered a small smile. The stranger blinked, caught off-guard – and then smiled back. Charles very nearly melted in his seat. Slow and indulgent, the smile of a man who knew exactly what kind of affect a smile like that could have.
Usually Charles would have flirted some more before daring to speak, maybe sucked on the tip of his pen a little or ‘accidentally’ nudged his foot against the man’s leg. But the train journey was almost over and the desire to know more about him was too strong, the call of his mind like a Siren singing to a doomed fisherman. Charles was no expert flirt – he’d had just as many drinks thrown in his face as phone numbers gained – but it was always worth a shot. Displays of direct confidence had gotten him further than coy smiles ever had in the past.
“Where are you travelling to?” He asked casually, his voice a low purr.
The stranger tipped his head, confusion creasing his brow. “…Hm?”
Charles cleared his throat and tried again, louder this time. “Are you travelling to London?”
The stranger shook his head somewhat apologetically. “Es tut mir leid, Ich spreche kein Englisch.”
Charles’ heart gave a funny little flip, both plummeting and skipping simultaneously. Plummeting because damn it, the man was German and it would be near impossible for them to have a conversation, let alone flirt successfully. Skipping because wow, the man was German and had an accent to die for. Charles could quite happily imagine that voice whispering filthy things to him in the darkness of his bedroom, uncaring that he wouldn’t actually be able to understand any of it.
Charles struggled to remember some of the German phrases he had been taught at school before he dropped the class during college. He couldn’t help but mentally kick himself; the two of them could have been deep in conversation by now if Charles had stuck with the language instead of passing it up for yet another Science. Simply reading Erik’s mind would get him little further than imagery and emotion; people thought in their native language, as Charles had found out when trying and failing to flirt with Janos, the Spanish Exchange student back at University.
“Ich, um, Ich heisse Charles,” he managed, smiling broadly as he held out a hand. The man chuckled softly, reaching across the table to accept the shake.
“Erik.” The skin of his hand was callused and rough, an obvious sign that he worked with them often. Charles shivered, already imaging how they would feel when dragged across the sensitive skin of his thighs.
Unable to remember how to ask where someone was going in German, Charles waved his hand in a vague attempt at miming, his words loud and overly-emphasised. “Where. Are. You. Going?”
Erik frowned suddenly, looking a little offended. He jerked a thumb questioningly toward the carriage, his other hand pointing to himself. “Go?”
Charles shook his head quickly. “No, no! I don’t mean I want you to go! Um, I mean…” he broke off, tugging his train ticket from his wallet. He pointed at the word ‘London’, then at Erik.
“Oh!” Erik smiled once again, broad and delightfully toothy. He produced his own ticket, holding it across the table. The location matched Charles’.
“That’s wonderful!” Charles beamed, ecstatic with his little language-barrier victory. Erik’s sense of amusement washed over him, a lick of hot fire up his spine.
“Do you, um… oh, bother.” Snatching up his pen, Charles flipped a page of his notes and wrote the word LONDON in capital letters, alongside a scribbled drawing of a cartoon house. He tapped it with the pen and then pointed at Erik. “Do you live in London?”
Erik leaned over to see the drawing, snorting an understanding laugh. He nodded, reaching over to draw a rough calendar open on the month of September, which was rather genius, Charles thought.
So Erik had lived in London for only a month or so, which perhaps explained why he didn’t speak much English yet. It was brave of him, moving to a foreign country with little to no understanding of the language. Charles knew he couldn’t have done it – he loved to talk too much to be left so mute.
Taking the pen, Charles sketched a little stick man beside the house and wrote the name ‘Erik’ above it. He then drew another stickman (or was it stickwoman?) holding stick-Erik’s hand, and a little question mark above it. Charles’ hopeful expression no doubt helped Erik decipher the question: “Do you live alone?”
Erik arched an eyebrow, his smile a little smug. The bright surge of amusement intensified as he took the pen – brushing Charles’ fingers in the process – and scratched out the second stick-person. “Ich bin Single.”
Charles barely heard him, the sexy little curl of Erik’s lips far too distracting. “That’s… fantastic.”
Erik looked down at the papers, clearly intrigued. Charles’ handwriting was cramped and tiny; Erik probably wouldn’t have been able to read it even if he did speak English. Charles himself often had a hard time deciphering what he’d written. “Bist du Student?”
At least Charles could understand ‘Student’. He shook his head. “No. I’m a teacher.”
Erik tipped his head, confused.
Charles faltered, waving his hands inarticulately. How on Earth was he supposed to sketch, ‘I’m a Genetics Professor’?
He began with another stickman, himself this time. “Um, I’m a Professor at –”
“Ein Professor?” Erik quirked his lips, pulling a suitably impressed face. “Sehr interessant. Sie haben eine schöne Stimme.”
Even without understanding what Erik had said, Charles could tell it was some kind of compliment; the waves of attraction pulsed, like a hand caressing Charles’ cheek. He smiled almost shyly, dropping his eyes back to the papers.
This was bizarre. Flirting with a man who could barely understand a word he said should have been awkward. Surely they ought to have become uncomfortable struggling with their words by now, and reverted back to politely ignoring each other and avoiding eye-contact – not smiling and laughing and playing this cute little drawing game, the electricity between their gazes nearly enough to burn the air caught in the middle.
“And you?” Charles asked, emphasising his words. “Are you a student?”
Erik shook his head. “Ich bin ein… Ingenieur.” He drew an adorable little cartoon wrench. An engineer? The pause between his words suggested that that wasn’t the entire story, and Charles itched to ask more, to push past basic emotion at the forefront of Erik's mind and sink into the meaty stuff. His age, for example.
Erik didn’t look much older than him, but Charles knew perfectly well that looks could be deceiving. Even now, 26 years old and a veteran of his local liquor store, the expressionless man behind the counter insisted on seeing Charles’ ID each time he purchased something. It could work in reverse just as convincingly, and while Charles didn’t mind an older man – preferred it in fact – anything younger than 21 was a no no.
Worrying his lower lip between his teeth, Charles tapped the pen absently against the notepad for a moment, before drawing – a birthday cake.
“I’m 26.” He wrote the number beside the cake, before looking up at Erik expectantly. “You?”
“Achtundzwanzig.” Erik wrote the number 28. His accompanying smile was incendiary, small yet powerful, eyes the colour of molten lead. Charles couldn’t help but wish he knew the German for ‘please just drag me into the toilet and have me’.
“You are perfect,” he blurted, eyes raking over Erik’s face. “Completely and utterly perfect.”
Erik’s raised an eyebrow, his smile widening. He licked his lips, a soft laugh rumbling at the back of his throat. Charles was hit with the distinct impression that he had been caught out – oh damn, what was the German for ‘perfect’? – but Erik didn’t say anything, only continued to slay him with that gorgeous little smile.
Minutes passed quicker than the scenery whizzing by the train windows, and Charles soon wondered when his life had become something out of a romance novel. They shared the snacks they purchased from the passing food trolley, Charles halving his chocolate chip muffin and Erik his sandwich. Somehow Erik even managed to look adorable with muffin crumbs dusting his lips, though ‘adorable’ soon became ‘sexy as all hell’ when the tip of his perfectly pink tongue slid out to chase them away. Charles nearly choked on a mistimed bite of chicken salad sandwich – Erik’s smile was all too knowing as he wordlessly passed Charles a bottle of water.
The conversation moved along surprisingly easily, and Charles’ ruined notes were soon packed with dozens of little sketches. Somewhere along the line their chatting became a flat-out game of Pictionary, with Erik drawing a cartoon shark and grinning over at Charles expectantly. Charles had been confused at first – was Erik referring to his rather shark-like smile? – until Erik had drawn a rough movie camera next to it.
“Oh, ‘Jaws’!” Charles had exclaimed, and Erik had nodded happily, waving for Charles to have a turn. Charles wasn’t particularly gifted when it came to art, but had found himself chuckling and kicking Erik’s shin playfully when Erik had laughed at his attempt at a T-Rex for ‘Jurassic Park’.
All too soon the train was pulling into the familiar domed archways of Kings Cross train station, passengers immediately bustling toward the carriage doors. Heart sinking, Charles lifted his suitcase from the overhead rack while Erik shrugged quietly back into his jacket. Erik’s hair had long since dried, stray strands flopping forward into his eyes. Charles itched to reach out and card his fingers through it. It looked soft, a little fluffy after the rain and air conditioning, and Charles nearly flushed from the heady rush of his desire to tug on it.
Neither of them needed any prompting to stick together as they joined the crush of bodies exiting the train. Erik was taller than Charles had initially imagined, a good half foot on him. Charles’ short stature had always been something of a sore spot, an easy target for childish bullying, but right at that moment he wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Erik’s chest bumped against his back when the line abruptly paused, and Charles could already tell how perfectly their bodies would slot together, the top of his head snug beneath Erik’s chin.
The air inside the station was frigid and damp with mist curling in from outside. The two men stayed silent as they passed stationary trains and metal-shuttered shops, most of their fellow passengers hurrying ahead to catch late tubes and taxis. Charles was in no hurry to leave, elbow bumping companionably against Erik’s as they walked side by side.
He felt wonderfully dizzy, his heart flipping with unfamiliar feeling. Charles was a man who liked to talk, to chat about everything and nothing, argue and debate and bounce ideas. He had never experienced such a silent ease with someone before, the very meeting of their eyes enough to leave him speechless. How would Erik react to his telepathy? How would Charles even begin to explain it? The language barrier was a tall hurdle to cross, but would be made so much easier if they could only share their thoughts. Images were easy to send and receive, and already Charles’ hand was cramped from 2 hours of rigorous Pictionary.
It could be so, so perfect – but then Erik was looking down at him and smiling, tilting his head in the direction of the taxi rank, and Charles felt his nerve slip away like sand through his fingers.
He couldn’t lose this. Not yet. So many people were scared or suspicious of his ability – “Are you reading my mind right now? How do I know you aren’t making me feel like this?” – and until he knew he could trust Erik, it would probably be best to keep it to himself.
Mist swirled about their legs as they moved outside, the moon hanging fat and full in a sea of inky black. Erik looked ridiculously edible in the silvery light, his sharp features shaped in shadow. Charles paused by the line of taxis, his suitcase heavy and cumbersome. Erik was looking at him, eyes soft as they flicked up and down Charles’ body. Charles shivered; their path left searing trails in their wake, goosebumps that had nothing to do with the chilled air rising beneath his clothes.
At length, Erik stepped forward. His fingers closed around Charles’ hand, lifting it. The plastic casing of the pen flashed in the moonlight as Erik wrote something across Charles’ skin: a phone number.
“Ruf mich an.” He smiled, devastating, making a phone motion with his hand.
Charles nodded mutely, tongue drier than the Sahara.
“Gute Nacht, Charles.” Erik lifted Charles’ hand higher, bending his head to – oh, God – press his lips to the printed phone number. Soft and warm, just a little wet, and Charles felt his knees turn to jelly.
“G-good night,” he stammered, heart slamming against his ribs.
One last molten look and Erik slid into a taxi, satchel slung effortlessly over his shoulder. Charles watched it drive away with his mouth slightly open, hand still hovering in the air where Erik had held it. It wasn’t until a second taxi driver poked his head from the car window (“Oi, are you getting in or what?”) that he was jerked from his trance.
How on Earth was he supposed to call Erik?
After two days of nervous pacing and biting his nails down to stubs, Charles finally gathered the courage to send Erik a text message. It wasn’t a technique he usually favoured, but it wasn’t like he could just pick up the phone and ask Erik out on a date; what if they didn’t understand each other? This wasn’t a romantic comedy, and bumbling phone conversations wouldn’t be cute. Things would be far more awkward without the drawings and surface emotion there to help him.
It was much easier for Charles to snap a picture of his favourite bar and send it straight to Erik’s number, along with the address and a time of 7pm. He signed it with his name, and after much deliberation, a single kiss.
Erik replied with a picture of himself giving the camera a thumbs up - that ridiculously smouldering smile still touching his lips - and a reciprocating kiss. Charles immediately saved it to his phone’s memory, fighting away the urge to use it for purposes that would no doubt make him blush furiously the moment he next set eyes on Erik.
It had been months since he had last been on a proper, wine-and-dine date rather than a meaningless one-night stand. The woman had been perfectly lovely, a nursery teacher from Oxford boasting a stunning example of the heterochromia mutation, but nothing more had come from the date beside a chaste kiss at the door and a thank you text the following morning. There had been no spark there, no drive, no true desire to pursue a relationship.
But with Erik… Hell, had it ever felt so intense before? Charles couldn’t be sure if it was just initial infatuation talking, but it had surely been years since he had experienced even a shadow of the excitement a single text from Erik brought him.
With an hour to spare before the date, Charles slipped into a coat and made his way to the café a short walk from his flat, a small, independent place where his sister Raven worked part time as a waitress. It was that, or use the pretence of finishing a stack of research papers to stare longingly at the clock until it was time to leave. Even facing Raven’s scrutiny was preferable to that.
“So let me get this straight: you’re dating a man who can’t actually understand a word you’re saying?” Raven snorted a disbelieving laugh through her nose, leaning over the counter to pass Charles his usual mug of hot tea with lemon. “Lucky him.”
“Thanks for that,” Charles chided, cupping the mug between his hands in the hopes of chasing the chill from his fingers. He had always had cold hands, seeking out the warmth offered from woollen gloves and warm drinks. And skin. Skin was always a good source of heat. “But you weren’t there, Raven,” he continued. “There was a definite spark.”
“I’ll bet.” She grinned. “So is ‘date’ just code-word for a hot, European one-night stand?”
“No, thank you very much.” Charles rolled his eyes, setting the mug down on the counter top. The café was mostly empty, a lull before closing time. Raven had worked there for the last six months, supplying Charles with his daily tea fix at a reluctant family discount. It was the first time Raven had managed to hold a job for longer than a few weeks, and Charles had to wonder how much of that was due to the delivery trips she made to his office at work where she could flirt with Hank as she brought him complimentary coffee. Hank was far too shy and polite to admit that he hated coffee, but was never disappointed to see Raven’s bright smile and perky walk.
“Are you going to tell him about your… you know.” She tapped the side of her head. Charles levelled her with a pointed look.
“My telepathy. You can say it out loud, Raven; it’s not a disease.”
The subject of their mutations had been a constant thorn in Charles’ side since the two of them were young children. Charles, despite his sudden reluctance to reveal his telepathy to Erik, had always been proud of what he was and what he could do. He could sympathise with Raven’s aversion to her startling true form, but her ability itself was fascinating, unique, and endlessly useful. Their regular arguments had kept them from ever being as close as Charles would have liked, but there was no real doubt that they loved one another dearly.
Raven sighed, her surface thoughts turbulent. It was obvious that she was holding back from snapping at Charles, most likely not wanting to cause a scene at work. None of her colleagues knew that Raven was a mutant, and she was adamant in keeping things that way. “Yes, that. Are you going to tell him?”
Charles faltered, drumming his fingers on the mug. “I will. Eventually. It’s just… I don’t really know how to broach it. It’s not a something I can explain easily in English, never mind German.”
“Just show him outright. Talk to him in his mind.” Raven shrugged. “Quick and clean, like ripping off a band aid.”
“I guess.” Charles sipped his tea, peering up at his sister beseechingly. “I don’t suppose you know how to speak German and can teach me everything in half an hour, do you?”
Raven twisted her lips apologetically. “Afraid not. Though I do know how to say this: ‘Ich habe eine große Bratwurst in mein Lederhosen’.”
Charles raised a sceptical eyebrow. “Dare I ask?”
Raven grinned. “It means, ‘I have a large sausage in my trousers’. The grammar’s probably way off, but it might get you somewhere.”
“Thank you, Raven.” Charles deadpanned. “I’m sure that’ll help immensely.”
Raven laughed, playfully flicking Charles with her dishtowel. “You should take him somewhere quiet, press him up against a wall, touch your fingers to his temple and just show him. In a sexy way.”
Charles sighed, massaging the bridge of his nose. “That’s… probably my best bet.”
Leaning on the counter, Raven tipped her head curiously. “Do you have a picture of him?”
Charles reluctantly showed her the thumbs up photo. Raven wolf-whistled appreciatively. “Wow. He’s cute. I can see why you’d be willing to give it a shot.”
“Just pray that I don’t mess it up.” His tea was too hot but Charles swallowed it anyway, wincing against the burn. “How’re things progressing with Hank, by the way? I saw the two of you whispering last week.”
Raven blushed, fidgeting with the ragged ends of the cloth. “Slowly. He’s so shy. I’ve done everything I can to tempt him into asking me out; I even sat on his knee to look down his telescope, and he just mumbled and blushed and gave me excuses.”
Charles chuckled softly. “Keep at it. He likes you, I know he does.” He tapped his temple pointedly. “Like you said, he’s just shy. Painfully so sometimes.”
“Maybe I should just ask him myself,” Raven grumbled. “I think waiting for Hank to whisk me off my feet is wishful thinking; I should whisk him off his feet.”
Charles nodded encouragingly. “Good idea! He’d probably faint clean away like a damsel in a bad romance book.” Straightening up, he waved at his torso. “So, how do I look?”
Raven looked him up and down with a critical eye. “Not bad. Not quite as Old Fart as usual.”
Charles rolled his eyes, accepting the offhand compliment. He had tried hard with his appearance, a light blue button-down and a pair of khaki slacks. The rain had cleared up but he had still brought a beige peacoat just in case, slung over the back of the stool he was sat on. His hair was styled to the kind of floppy perfection that would make Hugh Grant jealous, a tiny slick of gel keeping it in place. The ink stains had refused to come out of his hands even after an hours’ worth of furious scrubbing in the bathtub, but Erik had seemed to like them anyway.
“Just have fun.” Raven winked at him, throwing the dishtowel across her shoulder. “You can use every bad chat-up line you know, and he won’t even understand.”
“My lines aren’t that bad,” Charles mumbled defensively. Raven snorted.
“Oh yeah? I distinctly remember you telling a guy you were a Geneticist, and then offering to ‘unzip his genes’.”
Charles chuckled at the memory, a sly smile curling his lips. “It worked, didn’t it?”
Raven glanced up as a customer wandered in, taking a seat by the window. She lowered her voice irritably. “Typical. There’s always someone who comes in ten minutes before closing. I’ll bet he orders something complicated and keep me back late.”
Charles glanced down at his watch, a jolt of nervous excitement churning his stomach. “I’d best be off anyway. Oh, God.” He sucked in a deep breath. “Wish me luck.”
“Good luck.” Raven touched a kiss to his cheek as she circled around the counter. “Just be yourself; he won’t even know how annoying you are.”
“Love you, too,” Charles laughed, heading for the door with his coat draped over his arm. He didn’t miss the new customer asking for a complicated flavoured mocha, and had to bite his lip at Raven’s resulting spike of frustration.
'Told you so!'
Reaching the bar with five minutes to spare, Charles hovered on the pavement outside. The evening air was crisp and clear, fading twilight stretching his shadow across the concrete. Butterflies fluttered frantically in his stomach, anxiety momentarily winning the war against excitement.
What if it was too hard for them to communicate effectively without any visual aids? What if it became awkward? What if Erik freaked out upon discovering Charles’ telepathy? Charles' mind spun with a million ‘what ifs’, a dizzying whirl of bad endings and disappointment. He clutched to the last threads of hope, the warm memory of those two hours on the train a golden light at the back of his mind.
“Buh,” a voice suddenly whispered into the shell of his ear, strong hands closing around his waist. Charles yelped, spinning, and found himself face-to-face with Erik.
All of his earlier trepidation melted away in an instant. Bloody Hell, the man was gorgeous. Even this close it was impossible to tell the true colour of those eyes, green and grey and blue like hot Summer rain and fringed with surprisingly thick lashes. His jaw was smooth this time, and Charles could still catch the lingering scent of shaving foam on his skin. He was hit with the sudden urge to lick over the curve of one ridiculously shapely cheekbone, just barely managing to hold himself back.
“Hello,” he breathed, eyes wide and staring. Erik’s hands remained on his waist, a light pressure that was terribly distracting.
“Hallo.” Erik leaned in and brushed the tip of his nose against Charles’ own, a strangely intimate gesture that had Charles blinking in surprise. “Es ist schön dich wiederzusehen.”
Charles may not have understood what Erik had said, but the flare of endearment that accompanied the words was like a warm puff of air against his cheek. He smiled, oddly bashful, peering up at Erik through his lashes.
“We’d best get inside before I throw you down and ravish you right here on the street,” he said lightly, the freedom to speak his mind wonderfully liberating. He took Erik’s hand, those long fingers curling easily around his own, and led him inside.
The bar was dimly lit, filled with brown leather sofas and stools arranged around low coffee tables. It had always reminded Charles of the sitting room back at his family’s country estate, its walls lined with framed pictures and ornate mirrors. An antique grammar phone sat in one corner – though Charles had to doubt its authenticity – and thick potted ferns blended perfectly with the bottle green walls.
A small group of people were already dancing in the center of the room, brightly coloured cocktails held in the air as they twirled to the deep, rhythmic beat of the background music. Would Erik want to dance? He didn’t seem like the type, but that didn’t stop Charles from daydreaming about the two of them indulging in a blisteringly hot slow-dance, scant inches between their slightly parted lips as they rocked together in a loose circle.
Snapping back to the present, Charles sank into the corner of a couch and plucked the drinks menu off the table. Erik slid down beside him, closer than Charles had expected, one long arm thrown over the back. He leaned in to peer at the menu, and Charles caught the heady scent of pine and cigarette smoke and something so much deeper than that, warm and fresh and completely irresistible.
Mouth dry, he held the menu closer to Erik. Were the names of alcohols the same in English as they were in German? Charles glanced at him, brushing tentatively against his mind. Ah; he was merely studying the pictures.
“Have you decided?” Charles asked, pointing at the menu. Erik pulled an apologetic face.
“Überrasche mich.” When Charles merely blinked at him, he tried again, waving toward the bar. “Ah… you. Drink. Me.”
Charles’ face went from white to red faster than a set of traffic lights. A thousand dirty retorts clamoured for attention, and Charles forced his wobbling lips into a straight line. Clearly Erik had been asking Charles to choose a drink for him, though Charles’ treacherous mind continued to supply him with a great many indecent images of him drinking every last drop that Erik had to offer.
Stumbling off the couch – already feeling a little drunk on lust – Charles forced a steady breath and moved through the milling crowd around the bar. The menu was vast and exciting, filled with all kinds of weird and wonderful drinks; he’d even seen some that were set on fire and served in skull-shaped glasses. As interesting and no doubt tasty as they were, presenting Erik with a flaming skull may have been a little extreme for a first date. He settled on two whiskey-based drinks – Erik’s infused with raspberries and sloe gin, Charles’ own carrying the sweet taste of Turkish Delight.
“Nice choices.” The young woman behind the bar nodded approvingly, scooping up bottles and shakers in practiced hands. Tossing waves of dark hair over one tattooed shoulder, she craned her neck to look up at the tall shelves of multi-coloured bottles before clucking her tongue and sighing theatrically. “Typical. There’s always something I need on the top shelf. I think the other waiters do this to me on purpose.”
“Why would they do that?” Charles asked curiously, leaning lightly on the bar. “That’s rather cruel of them.”
The woman – Angel, if her nametag was correct – smiled slyly. “They’re cool. They just want me to have to do this.”
The intricate web of tattoos covering Angel’s shoulders began to writhe, a sinuous dance of flesh and ink. Charles’ stared, awestruck, as they lifted from her skin to mould into two flickering gossamer wings. Charles' gasp of delight was echoed by the surrounding crowd, interest on lips and minds alike.
“How wonderful!” Charles beamed, eyes bright. “I’ve never seen a mutation like this before.” He admired the girl’s wings, watching the sheen of pastel colouring that rippled over their surface in the soft overhead lighting. Angel winked and fluttered into the air, wings beating rapidly in a staccato rhythm not unlike that of a hummingbird.
Rising to the top shelf, she grabbed the misplaced bottle and shot Charles a winning smile. “Got it.”
The crowd whooped, a wave of combined awe and excitement so thick that Charles had to grip the edge of the counter to keep himself from stumbling at its intensity. It was wonderful to experience such open enjoyment and respect for mutant abilities, and Charles would have been delighted if weren’t for –
“Fucking freak,” someone muttered at his elbow. Frowning, Charles turned.
“I beg your pardon?”
“She’s one of them. One of those mutant freaks.” The man beside him curled his lip in a sneer, disgust radiating from him in sickening pulses. “They should all be… all be rounded up and kept somewhere.”
Charles recoiled, bile rising at the back of his throat. It wasn’t the first time he had experienced such a horrendous attitude toward mutantkind, but it was still a shock to hear someone speak out so vehemently in a public place. He raised his chin defiantly. “I happen to think she’s fascinating.”
The man barely heard him, too busy glaring daggers at Angel as she fluttered neatly back to the ground. He was clearly drunk, his face red and blotchy from far too much alcohol. A deep-rooted anger seeped from him; Charles didn’t have to peer too far inside his mind to see that he had been an unfortunate victim of mutant rebels only a short time ago. Charles sighed at the painful imagery, the man beaten to the cusp of death by a group of mutants in shirts boasting anti-human slogans. The rebel attacks were few and far between, but already the media had leapt upon the story of avenging mutants fighting for power and blown it far out of proportion. The rebels may have wanted the same thing as Charles – mutant equality – but using violent means to achieve their goal was only withholding mutantkind’s dream of a peaceful existence. If only they could understand that.
“You shouldn’t be working here, bitch,” the man snarled. “Why don’t you crawl back to whatever swamp you came from?”
Angel took the insults in her stride, her voice cool and measured. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave, Sir.”
“Why should I leave? I’m not the... the abomination here,” the man spat, wobbling violently on his feet. “Freaks like you shouldn’t be allowed in public places. You should be fucking tagged or something, kept in a zoo. Why don’t you just leave me alone-”
He lurched forward, blind with misdirected rage. Charles immediately slid between him and the bar, fingers flying to his temple. He could stop the drunkard in his tracks with a single thought, wipe such hideous memories from his mind, make him see –
--and then Charles was hit with a wave of pure power. His belt buckle, the watch on his wrist, the coins in his pocket - everything metal on his person began to vibrate with a low, angry hum. Cutlery bounced across the bar top, Angel’s eyes widening as she watched her cocktail shaker lift from her hands as though an invisible force had seized it. The music stopped abruptly, a confused and unsettled buzz stirring through the crowd.
A butter knife rose slowly from the counter. Its rounded edge elongated into a sharp point, flashing dangerously in the light. The drunken man squeaked in terror as it whipped toward him, stopping barely an inch from the fleshy mound between his eyes.
Panicked, Charles hastily spun a mental web across the room, searching wildly for the source of the sudden power-surge. There, behind him, by the couches; a mass of anger and raw power and –
Charles’ jaw dropped, blue eyes flying wide.
The power was coming directly from Erik.
Erik, who was slinking forward like a panther and slotting himself between Charles and the terrified drunken man.
“Gibt es ein Problem?” He asked softly, an edge to his voice more dangerous than the knife still hovering between the man’s eyes.
“What? Oh fuck, no, no, there’s no problem,” the man stammered, lifting both hands in surrender. Sweat began to bead on his forehead, his bloodshot eyes crossed in order to watch the hovering tip of the knife.
“Charles?” Erik’s gaze slid to Charles, questioning.
Charles nodded once, sharply, shutting his mouth on a hard swallow. “Everything is fine. Don’t hurt him, Erik.” ’No, nein, leave him alone, please-’
Erik’s eyes flicked back to the man. The knife moved, tracing a faint pink line down the man’s nose and chin, then slapped him once across the cheek. The man yelped, skittering backward over a barstool.
“Raus!” Erik hissed, jerking his head toward the door. The man didn’t need to understand the word to catch the threat in Erik’s tone, and he staggered from the bar without another word.
The crowd immediately burst into wild applause and cheers, a few slapping Erik on the back and wringing his hands. Angel whooped, smiling at Erik broadly. “I could have taken care of that myself, daddio, but thanks – you know how to put on a show.”
And Charles – Charles could only stare, heart in his mouth. His ears rang with white noise, the commotion and buzz of the bar dimming to a numb background fizz.
Erik was a mutant. Some sort of telekinesis? Charles’ watch, the pocketful of coins, the knife; they were all metal. Was that it? Erik could control metal?
He couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for the drunken man. Sure, he had tried to hurt Angel for nothing more than a display of her mutation, but… Charles reached out, latching to that drunken mind and plucking at the ties of his memory. ‘You will not remember. This night will be a blur. You will have a terrible hangover in the morning. You will stay safe.’
Erik slid in front of him, his expression curiously calm. Charles wasn’t fooled; those eyes were bright and carefully veiled, searching as they locked with Charles’ own.
“Geht's dir gut?” He asked softly, his voice cutting effortlessly through the noise of the crowd. Charles blinked and licked his lips, drawing in a steadying breath.
“You’re a mutant,” he whispered. Erik’s jaw tightened, his shoulders visibly straightening.
“Ja.” He nodded firmly, though Charles could easily pick up on the spikes of apprehension tainting Erik’s surface thoughts a cold steel blue. “Haben du ein Problem damit, Charles?”
Charles laughed, near hysterical, shaking his head firmly enough to send loose waves of hair tumbling over his face. “Oh no, my friend, I most certainly don’t have a problem.”
Joy setting a wild skip to his heart, Charles reached up with shaking hands to touch his fingertips to Erik’s temples. He brushed lightly against Erik’s mind, a soft questioning, the telepathic equivalent of ‘may I come in?’
Erik gasped, thin lips falling apart, the sudden burst of surprise and elation and wonder near blinding now that Charles was in his head. Charles had never met another telepath before, but Raven had once told him that having him touch her mind was like a warm wind blowing the cobwebs from the corners of her head - albeit a warm wind that wanted to read her diary and had the potential to become a storm, snatching away every memory she held dear. Raven had never quite trusted Charles’ gift, her need for privacy a barrier that had kept him firmly at arm’s length.
Hopefully Erik wouldn’t think of his ability that way, and Charles kept his touch as gentle as possible. He pushed across his exhilaration, the pleasure he had felt upon seeing Erik’s powers.
“Du bist ein Telepath,” Erik murmured, a slow smile transforming his shocked face into something entirely too devastating for his own good. Charles nodded.
‘Yes,’ he spoke the word into Erik’s mind, unable to stop his hands from sliding up into Erik’s carefully styled hair. ‘Do you have a problem with that?”
Erik answered with a kiss that stole Charles’ breath, his hands fisting reflexively in Erik’s hair. Erik’s lips were firm and demanding, coaxing Charles’ own apart with a flick of his tongue that had Charles melting against him, huffing impatiently when Erik continued to lick across his parted lips rather than slip inside.
Images flashed before Charles’ closed eyes: Erik dragging Charles into a bathroom cubicle at the back of the bar and slamming him up against the wall; Charles flushed and panting as Erik shoved his hands down the front of Charles’ pants; the two of them tangled in a bed that Charles assumed was Erik’s own, their hands locked together above their heads as they fucked, Charles on top, now Erik, a million wants and needs bleeding together far too fast for Charles to catch.
Breathless, he jerked back from the kiss and struggled to catch his breath. Erik grinned, a wolf behind the sheepish smile. “Haben du das sehen?”
Charles gasped a laugh, hanging onto Erik’s shoulder for support. “I don’t know what you just said, but the innocent look doesn’t work on you, my friend. You did that on purpose.”
Erik took Charles’ hand, thumb stroking over the ridge of his knuckles. “Willst du mit zu mir?”
Charles caught the image of a small row of terraced houses, and felt his heart skip a beat. Erik was asking him back to his house, intention rather clear in the way those darkened eyes bore into him, drilling through clothing and skin to pierce right to the very heart. Part of Charles knew that they were moving fast; they had barely exchanged a handful of words and hadn’t even gotten around to drinking their first cocktails. The second part screamed at him to just say yes, ja, anything, so long as it resulted with the two of them, a soft mattress, and far less clothing. He looked around, suddenly very aware of the press of the crowd around them; Angel flashed him a thumbs up, pushing their finished drinks across the bar.
“On the house, guys.” She grinned, winking, before turning her attention back to the next customer.
“Charles?” Erik touched his cheek, and the picture of the house was pushed more forcibly into Charles’ mind. Charles winced; projecting to a telepath was a skill not many could perfect. Raven’s rare attempts at contacting him mentally were always loud and brash, thundering through his head like a bull daring him to follow the sway of its horns. Many people whispered, their imagery darting faster than slippery fish - though that was definitely preferable to those who yelled as though Charles was stood on the other side of a large room. Erik was surprisingly adapt for someone who had presumably never done this before, the picture of his house lacking any real detail but still distinguishable from those around it.
Erik slid a hand up his arm, rough skin on smooth, and Charles gave in.
‘Yes. I’d love to.’ He nodded, returning the image of Erik’s house with the added touch of them stood outside it, silently peering up at the darkened windows.
Scooping up their cocktails, Charles handed Erik his own and tapped the rims of their glasses together. “Cheers.”‘
“Prost,” Erik echoed, ignoring the straws provided and lifting the glass to his lips. Charles instantly forgot about his drink as he watched Erik’s head tip back, the shift and drag of his throat almost maddening enough to make Charles drop his cocktail in favour of closing his lips over the elegant lines of muscle and skin.
Cheeks flushed, Charles didn’t waste time in downing his own cocktail, the sweet taste of rose and sugar a harsh contrast to the bitterness of the whiskey. Was it that, or the sudden press of Erik’s lips to his neck that made him lightheaded?
Out into the air, Charles hastily dashing back inside to grab his forgotten coat. Erik kept hold of Charles’ hands, streetlights glinting from the red and gold highlights of his hair. Dizzy, Charles pressed close, chest to chest.
“Where do you live?” He showed the house again, slapping a huge red question mark over it. Erik snorted at the image, fingertips trailing lightly up Charles’ spine. He showed the address as though looking at the front of an envelope.
Charles groaned in frustration, burying his face in Erik’s chest. Erik’s house was at least 40 minutes on the tube, and with the way Erik’s hands were pulling his shirttails from his pants, he knew neither of them had the patience to risk using public transport. They flagged a taxi instead, bundling into the back seat in a tangle of limbs and breathless laughter. The driver fixed them with an all too knowing glare in the rear-view mirror, as if daring them to desecrate his precious cab by having sex right there on the faded leather.
Charles shared his flare of amusement, fingers twining with Erik’s on the seat between them. Erik rolled his eyes, shooting the driver a look that could have curdled milk. Unfortunately, London cabdrivers are built of sturdier stuff than mere milk, and the two men reluctantly kept their hand-holding to a PG rating.
Erik’s house was situated in a notoriously bad area of London, and Charles absently worried his lower lip between his teeth as they passed desolate blocks of flats and a rundown train station. Somewhere something was on fire, thick black smoke an ominous smudge against the dark sky. Erik followed his gaze, squeezing his hand.
“Keine Sorge, Charles.” His smile was teasing. “Ich werde dich beschützen.”
Charles snorted incredulously as Erik pushed forward an image of himself in a Knight’s suit of armour, holding back hoodie-wearing would-be attackers with an army of floating lances and spears. At least Erik was laughing, his playful amusement a reassuring brush to Charles’ mind.
Charles raised an eyebrow challengingly, sending back a scenario of his own: Charles in the armour, two fingers pressed to his temple as he stopped faceless muggers dead in their tracks, wiping their minds clean with a single thought. He even added a swooning Erik in the background for good measure.
Erik didn’t appear to notice the joke, his mouth open slightly as he gazed at Charles in something close to awe. “Ist das wahr?” He asked quietly, replaying Charles’ earlier imagery of him halting people with a simple brush of his mind. Charles swallowed thickly, mentally kicking himself. Why couldn’t he have shown himself convincing their attackers that they were bunny rabbits or 5 year old girls or something?
“Well… yes. Ja.” He nodded, before quickly adding, “but I would never. I haven’t-”
Erik’s lips muffled the rest of his protest, hungry and demanding. Charles startled as the force of Erik’s pounce pressed them up against the cab door, his hands scrabbling for purchase on Erik’s shoulders.
“Ich liebe wie stark du bist,” Erik purred into Charles’ mouth, and Charles gasped at the sudden storm of Erik’s emotion: awe and admiration, desire and a deep river of respect. All that just from a mention of Charles’ power? It was more than a little humbling, and Charles leaned in to seal their lips together once again.
The angry rap of the driver’s knuckles on the dividing glass partition was the only thing that stopped Charles from ignoring his earlier resignation and ripping Erik’s clothes off, the burn of his frustration as he sat up and straightened his shirt echoed tenfold by Erik.
The driver received a less than generous tip for his efforts, but Charles didn’t spare a slither of a care, not when Erik was helping him from the cab and opening the door of his house with a thread of his power.
Erik’s home was small, a red-brick terrace with bay windows. The paintwork on the door was peeling and scuffed, a jungle of weeds slowly choking the life from the tiny front garden. The interior was just as faded and old, with large strips of paper peeling from the walls and a threadbare carpet in need of a little TLC. Despite the décor, Erik had done a wonderful job of keeping the place clean and tidy, his rather Spartan furniture highly polished and free of clutter. It put Charles’ unkempt flat to shame, even with its brand new paint job and hardwood floors.
A slender table divided the sitting room from the compact kitchen area, and Charles smiled when he realised it was made from metal and glass. Its frame was highly ornate, thin black iron painstakingly curled into the shape of vines and leaves. Charles tipped his head at Erik, running his fingertips over the cool surface of the glass.
“Did you make this?” He sent the memory of the knife from the bar shaping under Erik’s touch, and nodded toward the table. Erik smiled, a soft touch of pride in his eyes.
“Ja, das haben ich selbst gemacht.” Erik twitched a finger, and one long vine of ivy pulled away from the table to slide over Charles’ cheek. Charles shivered, the touch of cold metal bleeding through his skin.
“It’s very beautiful.” The vine curled around his wrist, his palm, and Charles laughed breathlessly, raising his hand to observe it. Erik’s control was astonishing, the vine moving so seamlessly that it was oddly surreal to feel cool iron where soft vegetation should be.
Erik cocked his head and the vine melted back into the table. His eyes slid to Charles, and Charles nearly staggered at the hot and heavy pulse of desire reflected there, shoved from Erik’s mind into his own with all the subtlety of a stampede.
Charles was moving in an instant, pushing Erik back against the refrigerator and sealing their lips in a bruising, hungry kiss. Erik made a small noise of shock but soon grabbed at Charles’ back, the table all but forgotten.
“Every time I think that you couldn’t possibly get any more perfect,” Charles gasped between breathless kisses, tugging Erik's lower lip between his teeth. “You go and prove me wrong."
An image exploded behind Charles' closed eyelids; his lips, moving, shaping words that Erik couldn't understand but didn't need to, the raw desire to hear Charles speak enough to stain Erik's thoughts a lustful red. Heat trickled through Charles’ body, pooling thick and fast in his groin.
His voice. Erik was attracted to his voice.
"My voice, hm?" Charles purred, exploring hands sliding over Erik’s shoulders and down his chest, fingers tracing the well-defined muscles his could feel through the thin cotton of Erik’s shirt. "Is that what you want; for me to talk to you?"
Erik shuddered beneath Charles’ touch as wide palms trailed the path of Erik’s stomach to his hips, simultaneously pulling him closer and shoving him harder against the cold metal at his back.
“What do you want me to say, Erik?” he continued, lips fluttering feather-light over Erik’s neck. The skin there was hot and rough, stubble catching on the tip of Charles’ tongue. “Do you want me to talk dirty to you? Or will you get off just as easily from sweet nothings?”
“Charles.” Erik bit back a groan, head thudding against the fridge. “Charles, bitte… please…”
Charles was on his knees before he even realised he’d dropped. Bold hands combed through his hair, encouraging with a light scratch of nails over his scalp, and Charles fumbled with the task of popping buttons and zippers. He tugged at the barrier of jeans and cotton boxers, Erik’s cock revealed one exquisite inch at a time. He was cut, precome beading at the slit, long and thick and just begging to be licked. Charles swayed toward it, pulse thundering in his ears, relishing the anticipatory hitch of Erik’s breath.
Grinning mischievously, he bypassed Erik’s cock to touch his lips to the butterscotch skin of his thighs instead, eliciting a buck and a sucked hiss, Erik’s fingers clenching in his hair. A light trail of red-brown freckles dotted one hip, and Charles followed them with kisses and licks until Erik was growling in frustration.
“Charles, bitte, berühre mich.” Such a wrecked voice, on the very edge of begging, and Charles nipped a sharp hipbone, firmly ignoring the hard heat brushing his cheek.
“I thought you wanted me to talk to you? I can’t exactly do that with my mouth full, can I?” He pressed a kiss to the very base of Erik’s cock, causing Erik’s hips to jerk forward reflexively, the tip of his cock hitting the corner of Charles’s mouth and leaving a smear of precome along his cheek.
Taking pity, Charles leaned in to lick experimentally at the very head of Erik’s cock. A gasp punched from Erik’s lungs, accompanied by a harsh pull of Charles’ hair. Charles purred at that, opening his mouth. Erik pushed forward reverently, his cock sliding between Charles’s lips in a painfully slow glide.
Steadying himself with a hand against one hip, Charles began to suck; a slow, gentle rhythm that had red and gold stars bursting across Erik’s surface thoughts, his expression tightening in pleasure.
“Scheiße, Charles-” Erik’s eyes closed, his damp lips parted and swollen from their passionate kisses. Charles teased his fingers at the base of Erik’s cock, giving him a few slow strokes in time with the pull of his lips. The combination of his hand and mouth made Erik groan louder, fisting Charles’ hair so tightly it was almost painful.
Charles breathed in the heady scent of Erik’s skin, musk and soap and salt, his cock heavy in Charles’ mouth. He shivered, so horribly aroused that it was hard to concentrate.
Erik’s hand cupped the back of his head, holding Charles in place as he rocked into that wet heat, shared pleasure like fireworks behind Charles’ eyes. Charles swallowed when the tip of Erik’s cock neared the back of his throat, relishing Erik’s surprised cry.
“Oh Gott,” Erik gasped, his chest heaving. Charles breathed sharply through his nose, trying to pull in enough air to keep from getting lightheaded. He sank further down Erik’s cock, relaxing his throat, taking him as far in as he could.
A swallow, tight and slick, and Erik came with a shout.
Charles wished he could watch from a better angle when Erik’s spine arched, his hips jerking as he released into Charles’ mouth. Charles helped him ride the crest of his orgasm, groaning around his mouthful as projected pleasure washed thick and hot down his spine. He pulled away, swallowing, and guided Erik’s knees until they gave way and Erik slid rapidly down the fridge to join him on the kitchen floor. He winced as the cold tile touched his skin, but gifted Charles with the most beautiful, sated little smile Charles had ever seen. He was surreal in his afterglow, skin flushed and hair everywhere. Charles watched greedily, committing every last detail to memory. His own arousal continued to consume him from the inside out, the front of his slacks wet with precome.
He didn’t need to wait long until Erik was on him like a tiger, pressing Charles to the floor with the weight of his body. Charles whined, squirming, desperate for some sort of friction. One of Erik’s deliciously long hands lifted, and Charles’ heart leapt – only to plummet again when Erik began plucking calmly at his shirt buttons.
The shirt fell away, and Charles hummed in pleasure as Erik latched his lips to his throat. He received a flash of what he looked like to Erik, an image bathed in a red glow of desire so strong he could hardly focus on it. He wriggled, impatient, pressing his hips up against Erik’s thigh.
He had expected Erik to touch him, to strip him down and tease him with his hands before finally sliding down to suck or jerk Charles to completion. He certainly didn’t expect Erik’s hands to grab his waist and expertly manoeuvre Charles over onto his belly, the cold tiles a shock against the bare skin of his stomach. Charles went along, stunned but eager, anticipation like a coiled wire.
“Sprich mit mir,” Erik whispered against Charles’ ear, his fingers tracing the slightly parted seam of Charles’ lips. “Ich möchte deine Stimme hören.”
“You want my voice again, Erik?” Charles rasped, gasping as Erik’s warm, calloused hand ran down his throat. “Then touch me.” He wiggled his ass pointedly, planting an image of his lips sealing shut into Erik’s head. Erik nipped at his ear, and Charles felt his belt buckle fall apart. The buttons soon followed, sliding easily from their holes to leave Charles’ slacks loose and hanging. It didn’t take much for Erik to tug them down, leaving Charles on his hands and knees in his boxers and opened shirt.
Charles keened helplessly as Erik’s hands moulded to the shape of his waist, rough skin catching on the fabric lip of his boxers. He arched up, but Erik simply moved with him, amused and aroused and – waiting.
“Ok, alright, I’ll talk,” he huffed, and Erik’s hands began to move again, sliding under his shirt to ruck it up to his armpits. Charles inhaled sharply. “I love your hands,” he breathed, keeping his tone as honeyed as possible, loud in the otherwise silent kitchen. “I can already tell that you’ll be devastating with them. The way you control metal; the way you held that pen on the train the other day like you could break it in half and then carefully piece it back together again. I want it all. Please, touch me.”
The shock of Erik’s lips against his back made Charles arch almost violently, shivers racing Erik’s tongue as it slid the length of his spine. He moaned, struggling to put his words into coherent order. “That feels so good, Erik. Please, please just – oh, fuck-” He bit off abruptly as Erik’s fingers curled into the hem of his boxers, dragging them down to pool at his knees. Being unable to see Erik or know exactly what he was going to do next was desperately arousing, and Charles trembled, his splayed hands beginning to protest with the effort of holding himself up against hard tile. He dropped to his elbows, breathing deeply. The kitchen was already thick with the musk of sex, and when he ducked his head lower, Charles could see Erik’s bare thighs bracketing his legs. A bolt of lust made Charles press his hot forehead to the floor when he noticed that Erik was hard again, still a little wet from spit and come.
A slap to his ass shocked him into speaking again on a bubble of surprised laughter. “Oi! I bet you don’t even realise how much I like that.” He wriggled his ass again, flushing a little at being so openly on display, and presented Erik with the image of his ass cheeks baring the red, sore print of Erik’s hands.
Erik groaned loudly, fingers digging into Charles’ flesh. His mouth returned, pressing wet kisses to the ladder of Charles’ spine and moving down, down.
Charles’ heart skipped, lurching into his mouth. A dribble of precome fell to the tiles in a long string of white. “What…? What are you doing, Erik? You’re not really going to do what I think you’re going to do, are you?”
Erik radiated amusement and lust, his trail of open-mouthed kisses reaching Charles’ ass. Charles let out a soft groan when Erik’s strong hands gripped him and spread his cheeks apart, leaving him open and vulnerable.
“Okay?” Erik asked softly, his mouth mere inches away from Charles’ most intimate spot. “Darf ich dich hier küssen?
“Oh, God.” Charles gasped, hands bunching into fists at the light puff of Erik’s breath against his hole. “Yes. Yes, please, I want you to. Anything, please, Erik, just do something before I-”
Erik’s tongue flicked out and licked at his hole, smooth and wet, and Charles momentarily forgot all sense of language.
Another slap to Charles’ ass prompted Charles to keep talking, but how could he when that tongue was licking slowly and deliberately across Charles’ entrance, teasing him open.
“Erik-! Oh fuck that feels so amazing, please keep going, I don’t even care that my knees are starting to hurt, why the bloody hell haven’t we moved over to the carpet yet – Oh Jesus, Erik-” Charles almost lost his mind when he felt Erik’s tongue push past the tight ring of muscle, pointed and thick and perfect. Charles shoved back against him, cock hard and dripping near constantly onto the tiles.
Erik’s wide hands spread Charles further apart, licking into him eagerly. Charles blushed furiously. He let out an intelligible, helpless sound, closing his eyes and imagining how he must look, sprawled out on the tiles as he was, completely at the mercy of a man he had met only two days ago.
Erik’s mind bombarded him with image and raw emotion, a stream of rapid German thought making Charles near dizzy with lust. Charles spread his elbows wider as Erik’s tongue continued to stab into him.
“Fuck me, Erik, please just fuck me,” he begged, his voice raw and hoarse.
Erik finally pulled his mouth away, and Charles was grateful for the few precious seconds he had to pull himself back from the edge of orgasm while Erik rifled through his discarded jeans for a condom and a small sachet of lubricant. Charles tried to spread his legs further, letting out a whuff of annoyance when his restricting boxers pulled as tight as they would go.
One slick finger pressed inside him, Erik’s earlier attention making the glide easy. Charles wriggled, impatient, and received a second finger for his trouble.
“God, I knew your fingers would be so perfect for this,” Charles groaned, thinking back to their meeting on the train, the lust he had felt upon watching those elegant, tapered hands sketch little drawings over his notepad. “Another, please.”
Three fingers stretched him wide, the initial burn rapidly fading with each lazy stroke. It didn’t take long to open him up, and Charles instantly missed the intrusion when Erik pulled away, his ass clenching around air. They were definitely going to have to explore the benefits of those long fingers another day, but right now, Charles needed something more.
The warm weight of Erik’s hips reappeared behind him, and Charles craned his head to watch as he ripped open a condom, sliding it on in two easy strokes. He looked hard enough to pound through walls, and Charles felt his mouth run dry in anticipation.
The anticipation, however, failed to prepare him for how utterly perfect it felt to have Erik sinking into him at last, a strangled breath releasing on a string of German expletives. Charles relaxed his muscles, wincing only briefly against the stretch as Erik’s thick cock pushed deeper.
They paused on a breathless, thoughtless moment, silent save for the harsh gasp of their combined breath. Charles adjusted rapidly, his lust twining with Erik’s own, too filled with a desperate need to come to try and take this slowly. He pressed back, rewarded with a hiss from Erik, a brush of concern like a bird’s wing to his cheek.
“I’m fine, really, I’m bloody fantastic, now stop torturing me and fuck me,” Charles growled, knees crying out in protest as he rocked back harder. Erik didn’t disappoint, his hands holding Charles’ hips in a vice grip as he began to thrust in earnest.
Charles whimpered, dropping his forehead to the floor. Half-opened eyes watched the obscene flex of Erik’s thighs as the German moved faster, a view framed by Charles’ spread legs still trapped by his boxers. It was quite possibly one of the hottest things Charles had ever seen, making him long for a photographic memory.
He reached up with his telepathy, brushing curiously against Erik’s mind. Erik flung the door open eagerly, and Charles welcomed a front-row view of himself stretched wide around Erik’s cock, open shirt fanned out around the swell of his ass. It was more than enough to have his – Erik’s – vision blurring, stomach cramped with lust. He thrust forward, experimentally, and Charles both saw and felt himself gasp in response, the double waves of pleasure shared by them both. Erik’s conscience curled with his own, challenging and devilish. He shifted his stance and screwed in as deep as he could go, forcing Charles a few inches across the tiled floor. Charles’ back arched beautifully, emphasizing the fleshy round of his ass as it bounced against Erik’s hips.
Groaning desperately, Charles closed Erik’s eyes and reopened his own, back in his own mind and near crazed with the pleasure coursing through him at every rock of Erik’s hips.
Equally mindless, Erik reached around Charles’ hip for his cock, closing his fingers around it, and Charles fucked gratefully into his fist. A surge of yes ja now jetzt please bitte I want you Ich will dich blurred between their minds, and Charles came and came and came, turned inside out by it, crying out as he spilled across the kitchen floor. Erik’s own orgasm ricocheted through his body, vibration after vibration shivering down to his toes.
The once cool tiles now warm and damp with sweat and come, Charles fought to catch his breath. Stomach down across the floor, he spared a thought for his thoroughly ruined shirt – eternally thankful that it wasn’t dry clean only – and attempted to turn over.
It wasn’t easy: Erik was a hot, solid weight along his back, slowly softening cock still buried deep inside him. Charles shifted pointedly, chuckling as he sent Erik the playful idea of a ten-tonne weight pressing down on his back. Erik pinched his ass in retaliation, snuffling amongst the curling hair at the nape of Charles’ neck to press a kiss there before pulling out and rolling on to his back with a sated huff.
Charles was shameless in his staring: Erik looked utterly wrecked, his skin a mottled pink and his hair as wild as Charles had ever seen it. Both of his knees were a sore pink, and Erik grumbled something unintelligible as he rubbed a soothing hand over them.
“It wasn’t my idea to do this on the bloody kitchen floor,” Charles snorted, turning heavily onto his side and wriggling up against the curve of Erik’s body. Neither of them had even bothered to strip properly, Charles’ boxers still tangled halfway down his legs and Erik never even removing his – equally ruined – polo shirt. Charles shivered; it was actually pretty damn hot.
“I didn’t get to see your chest. That is entirely unfair.” He tugged at the hem of the polo shirt. Erik lifted his head from the floor to raise an eyebrow at him, but Charles ignored the unspoken question and slid his hand beneath the fabric. Curious fingers met hard, flat muscle, and Charles groaned as his spent cock gave a feeble stir. Erik’s soft laugh rumbled through his chest, stomach muscles fluttering.
“'Zeit fürs Bett?” He asked, sharing the image of what Charles assumed was his bed, wide and soft and extremely tempting. Charles nodded, reluctantly slipping his hand free of Erik’s shirt.
Struggling to wobbling, aching legs, Charles kicked out of his boxers and followed Erik up the stairs. Their journey took longer than perhaps it should have given that neither of them could keep their hands off one another for more than minutes at a time, and Charles happily found his back pressed up against the wall of the staircase, the hall, the door of Erik’s bedroom. A flurry of kisses: some hard and claiming, others the faintest whisper of skin on skin that left Charles aching, his lips parting on a whine as they followed after the smirking curl of Erik’s retreating mouth.
Erik’s bedroom was just as small as the rest of the house, the bed taking up the majority of available space. Charles gazed around, humming appreciatively as Erik drew Charles’ opened shirt off his shoulders to pepper the freckled skin there with kisses. A small bookshelf held a single framed photograph of Erik with a middle-aged woman, his arm around her shoulders. The books on the shelf were all German texts, and Charles couldn’t help but fall just a little deeper: there was nothing sexier than a gorgeous man with a love of books.
The décor of the room was simple, bare of personal touches beside the books and photograph. Likely it was because Erik had only lived in the house for a month, though Charles couldn’t see any boxes ready to be unpacked.
Erik tugging him down onto the bed was the perfect distraction. He sighed in pleasure, stretching out across the soft sheets. Part of him lamented missing out on having sex in sheets that smelt of Erik, at least until Erik pulled his shirt off at long last and rolled Charles on top of him, and Charles evened the score of their orgasms by rubbing himself off against that perfect, washboard stomach.
He woke the next morning with a delicious cramp in the base of his spine and Erik’s cheek pressed up against his shoulder. Thin yellow light filtered through gaps in the drapes, a chorus of birds chirping happily as they passed.
Erik was dreaming, a gentle wave of colour curling from his subconscious. Charles saw himself, vivid and bright as though someone had turned up the contrast controls, his voice a rich yet unintelligible purr. Charles smiled, preening a little at the deep glow of affection and lust that accompanied his image.
The dream slowly shifted as he watched – a hospital; white walls and the stench of antiseptic. The woman from the photograph sat in a chair behind an imposing Doctor’s desk, her face pale and drawn even as it split into a reassuring smile. “Alles ist good,” she whispered, squeezing Erik’s hand. She looked a lot like her son.
Charles drew back, uncomfortable witnessing something so personal without Erik’s permission.
Erik awoke with a jerk, lifting his cheek from Charles’ shoulder. He blinked blearily before noticing Charles and smiling warmly. “Guten morgen,” he purred, leaning in for a kiss that shouldn’t have tasted so good with morning breath. Charles pushed the saddening dream away, running a hand through Erik’s fluffy hair.
“Breakfast?” He sent Erik the suggestion of pancakes and bacon. Erik wrinkled his nose.
“Ja und nein.” He pushed the image back with a big green tick to the pancakes and a large red cross over the bacon. “Ich bin jüdisch.” The star of David hung in his mind.
“Oh!” Charles flushed, wondering why he hadn’t thought more of Erik’s circumcision scar the night before. It wasn’t a common occurrence in England after all. To his credit, he had been rather distracted, and could be forgiven for not having pondered the subject further. “Ok, hold the bacon. Pancakes it is.”
Kissing Erik on the nose, Charles struggled out of bed and into a pair of Erik’s boxers with perhaps more hip-wriggling than was strictly necessary. Erik’s smirk was hot and predatory as he sat up, the sheets pooling around his waist. Charles’ breath caught in his throat.
“Du haben zehn Sekunden.” He sent Charles the vision of a ticking clock counting down ten seconds, followed by him leaping out of bed to drag him back beneath the sheets. A rush of lustful excitement nearly caused Charles’ knees to give way. He stumbled toward the door, laughing as he fled toward the kitchen.
He made it roughly halfway down the stairs before Erik caught him.
It was early afternoon when Charles finally left, Erik fisting the lapels of his peacoat to drag him back for one last searing kiss before he ducked into a taxi. He was painfully aware of the goofy, cloud-nine grin that refused to leave his face even after reaching the Research Centre, earning himself a curious look from Hank and a rather lecherous thumbs up from the lab assistant, Alex.
“How was your evening, Professor?” Hank asked, slipping into Charles’ office and handing him a stack of papers. Charles fought back yet another deep blush, the dreamy smile widening.
“It was… lovely, thank you. I met someone for a drink and a, um, chat.”
Hank nodded eagerly, his eyes bright behind their large, wire-framed spectacles. “Of course, Raven mentioned that you had a date. What was he like?”
“He was – wait, Raven told you?” Charles grinned slyly, hugging the papers to his chest. “I only told her about my date last night. When did you see her?”
Hank blushed furiously, twisting his fingers. “Well… she came by after she’d finished work last night. Brought me more coffee.”
Charles chuckled, shaking his head. “You’re going to have to tell her that you hate the stuff eventually. I can just imagine you as an old married couple, still tipping the coffee into a pot plant when Raven turns her back.”
Hank choked on a nervous laugh. “Yeah, well, we got to chatting, and she told me about your date. That’s all.” He shrugged, his hunched shoulders jerking awkwardly. He glanced up at the clock above the door, and Charles gasped in surprise when his eyes landed on a small, purple bruise beneath Hank’s chin.
“That’s all, hm?” He asked teasingly, pointedly tapping the side of his jaw. “I do hope you’re not coming down with the plague, my friend.”
Hank blushed further, to the point that Charles was almost concerned he would pass out. “I – well – we – she just –” He touched his jaw with long, searching fingers, wincing as they brushed over the sore spot. “I’m so sorry, Professor. I didn’t mean – we were just –”
Charles silenced him with a raised hand. “It’s quite alright, Hank. I’m glad things have finally progressed between the two of you. Just… don’t go into details, okay?”
Hank offered a weak smile, his face remaining an unnatural shade of red. “Thanks, Professor.”
“So what else did Raven tell you about my date?” Charles asked, always curious to know how many truths Raven could twist.
Hank quirked his lips vaguely. “Just that he’s good-looking and that you’d met on a train, and uh, that he, um, doesn’t really speak any English.”
Charles pursed his lips defiantly. “He speaks a little.”
Hank tipped his head, concern a crease in his brow. “Isn’t that difficult?”
Charles sighed softly. “It’s made easier with my telepathy – he’s a mutant too, what are the odds? – but it can get a little… confusing.”
He thought back to earlier that morning, when he had tried to ask Erik if he was working that day. Merely showing the cartoon wrench that Erik had drawn wasn’t enough, and it had taken a few bumbling waves of his hand and pictures of today’s date for Erik to catch on.
“For the most part, it’s nice. Fantastic, actually,” Charles continued. “But it would good to be able to chat to Erik in his native language.”
“You could check out a German night class,” Hank suggested. “A lot of colleges around here do them.”
Charles smiled, nodding. “That’s exactly what I’d been thinking of doing, actually. I’d like to surprise Erik with a few phrases.” He glanced up at the clock, wincing at the displayed time. “Anyway, Hank, I’m going to be late for my afternoon lecture. When are you seeing Raven again?”
“Tomorrow night,” Hank mumbled, avoiding Charles’ gaze. Charles laughed softly, patting Hank companionably on the shoulder as he slipped past.
His 2-o’clock class was already packed into the lecture theatre, their collective voices a gentle hum that slowly died down when Charles bustled inside.
“Good afternoon, everyone,” he said, voice slightly raised as he fiddled with the microphone clipped to his collar. “Sorry I’m running late; hectic morning.”
Leaving his papers on the center podium, Charles turned on the projector and quickly set up the first slides, rubbing his hands together gleefully. The class consisted mainly of post-graduate university students studying Genetics, though there were a few obvious mutants in the crowd too; most startling was a man with red skin and a slick of lush black hair, a pointed tail flicking back and forth between the gap in his chair. Charles was particularly happy to see that no one had shied away from him despite his facial scarring and rather cynical grin.
“Thank you all for coming; it’s wonderful to see so many likeminded individuals interested in mutation,” Charles spoke into his microphone, his voice filtering loud and clear across the auditorium. “I’m Professor Charles Xavier. Please feel free to ask questions at any time by raising your hand, though there will be an open debate after the main section of the class.”
He turned toward the projector. “Okay, so… as we all know, a gene mutation is a permanent change in the DNA sequence. Mutations can range in size from a single DNA building block to a large segment of a chromosome. Gene mutations occur in two ways: usually they are inherited from a parent, though on rare occasions they are acquired during a person’s lifetime. Mutations that are passed from parent to child are called hereditary mutations, or germline mutations. This type of mutation is present throughout a person’s life in virtually every cell in the body.”
The voice startled Charles into momentary silence, his mouth falling slack like a guppy fish.
‘…Erik?’ How on Earth had Erik learned to project from so far away? It wasn’t an easy thing for a non-telepath to do, calling clear enough for the intended psionic target to hear. Charles focused on the link between them, catching a glimpse of a car engine and a workshop through Erik’s eyes. Erik’s hands, stained with oil, effortlessly controlled tools and metallic nuts and bolts, and from the angle he was looking, Charles could just catch a glimpse of dirty blue workmen’s overalls.
‘Hallo, Schatz,’ Erik purred. His concentration was stunning. ‘Bitte fahre fort, ich möchte deine Stimme hören.’
Charles was hit with the familiar force of Erik’s anticipation and lust, accompanied by the memory of Charles murmuring a pancake recipe to himself that morning. Charles almost laughed, surprised and breathless. Really? Erik liked his voice that much?
Heat trickling down his spine, Charles cleared his throat and turned back to his students. “Sorry about that, frog in my throat. So; mutations that occur only in an egg or sperm cell, or those that occur just after fertilization, are called de novo mutations. De novo mutations may explain genetic disorders in which an affected child has a mutation in every cell, but has no family history of the disorder.”
Another wave of desire from Erik, and Charles’ vision shifted suddenly to watch through Erik’s eyes as he wiped his hands on a rag and settled down into a wooden chair. Charles nearly choked on his own tongue; Erik’s hands slid down his torso – slow, teasing – to palm at the growing bulge in his workmen’s overalls.
“Acquired, or somatic, mutations occur in the DNA of individual cells at some time during a person’s life,” Charles struggled to continue, his hands curling tight around the corners of the podium. “These changes can be caused by environmental factors such as ultraviolet radiation from the sun, or can occur if a mistake is made as DNA copies itself during cell division.”
Erik groaned quietly, and Charles’s legs very nearly gave way when Erik unzipped his overalls and slipped a hand beneath the fabric. The warmth of Erik’s palm closing around his cock shot straight to Charles’ own, his words choking off on a moan.
The class began to murmur, their concern cutting through the lust clouding Charles’ mind. A woman with dark skin and a halo of white hair raised her hand. “Are you alright, Professor?”
“Perfectly fine, Miss Monroe, thank you,” Charles stammered, forcing a tight smile. “Just a touch of stomach cramp.”
Sending Erik a mental warning, Charles ran his dry tongue over equally dry lips and continued, “Acquired mutations in somatic cells - cells other than sperm and egg cells - cannot be passed on to the next generation. Mutations may also occur in a single cell within an early embryo. As all the cells divide during growth and development, the individual will –”
Erik drew his hard cock through the slit in his overalls, his grip the perfect side of tight. He began to stroke, lazy and unhurried, the flushed head of his cock vanishing into the curl of his fist. Sweat began to bead on Charles’ brow, the eyes of his students like pins pricking his skin.
“The individual will have some cells with the mutation and some cells without the genetic change. This situation is called mosaicism.” His hands shook as he changed the slides, cock throbbing in the prison of his slacks. Thank God the podium shielded some of his dignity, though his flushed face and choked voice weren’t helping in his favour.
“Some genetic changes are very rare, while others are common in the population. Genetic changes that occur in more than 1 percent of the population are called polymorphisms. They--” Erik squeezed, and Charles gasped, “--are common enough to be considered a normal variation in the DNA. Polymorphisms are responsible for many of the normal differences between people, such as eye colour, hair colour, and blood type.”
Erik tipped his head back against the lip of the chair, his eyes closing.
‘No,’ Charles growled down the link. ‘No. Open your eyes. I want to see.’ He forced Erik’s head back up, and Erik moaned throatily, opening his eyes just in time for Charles to see a bead of precome pearl white and wet at the tip of his cock.
“Oh, fuck,” Charles moaned, sagging bonelessly against the podium.
His students immediately began to clamour, their minds a sickening whirl of worry and confusion. Some made as if to stand, and Charles quickly pushed himself upright, a fiery blush staining his cheeks a deep crimson. “I am so terribly sorry,” he babbled, pushing strands of sweaty hair back from his forehead. “Please forgive that little outburst; bloody cramps!”
Erik was laughing at him, amusement curling down the link even as he quickened the pace of his hand. Charles huffed, straightening his shirt.
Two could play at that game. He wasn’t going to come in his pants in front of two dozen students just from Erik wanking off to his voice – this was a war he was going to win.
Swallowing, Charles took a deep breath and swapped the slide on the projector. This time, his voice was level and honeyed, accent exaggerated for Erik’s benefit. “Biological evolution is defined as any genetic change in a population that is inherited over several generations. These changes may be small or large, noticeable or not so noticeable.”
Erik, sensing the change in Charles’ demeanour, shivered from head to toe. He thumbed the head of his cock, collecting the precome there to ease the glide of his palm.
Heady with lust and power, Charles tried hard to ignore the cry of his own neglected arousal, blood pulsing thick and fast in his ears. “In order for an event to be considered an instance of evolution, changes have to occur on the genetic level of a population and be passed on from one generation to the next. This means that the genes, or more specifically, the alleles in the population, change and are passed on. These changes are noticed in the expressed physical traits of the population.”
‘Charles…’ Even Erik’s mental voice was choked and raw. ‘Bitte, mehr…’
“Some mutants, usually human, possess a genetic trait called an X-gene. This gene allows the mutant to naturally develop what some would call superhuman powers and abilities. Human mutants are considered to be of the subspecies Homo sapiens superior, an evolutionary progeny of Homo sapiens, and are considered the next stage in human evolution… though whether this is true or not is a subject of much debate.” Charles couldn’t stop the sly smile creeping over his face when Erik gasped, the movement of his hand growing fast and erratic, his hips pushing up off the chair. He was close; Charles could almost taste it.
‘Come on, darling, just a little more…’
He lowered his voice, the dulcet tone like velvet upon Erik’s senses. “Unlike some mutates who develop their powers after exposure to outside stimuli or energies such as radiation or a spider bite, mutants are born with the genetic potential to possess their powers. These typically manifest at puberty.”
‘Charles-!’ Erik came with a jerk of his hips, streaks of thick white come coating his hand and already dirtied overalls. Panting harshly, he laughed and tipped his head back. Charles let him this time, sending him the sensation of fond fingers sliding the length of his cheek.
His cock throbbed in protest; it was time to leave.
“I’m terribly sorry, everyone, but I’m going to have to cut the class short today.” Charles grimaced apologetically, rubbing his stomach. “I’m still not feeling too well and would hate to pass this on to anyone. My next class is Friday afternoon, please do come back.” Scooping up his papers and projector sheets, Charles held them over his crotch as he backed out of the room, nodding and smiling until the moment the door clicked shut. He all but ran to Erik’s house, a silent command urging the taxi driver to put his foot flat to the floor.
Erik was already waiting for him, still in his work overalls. The smirk on his face was entirely too smug, and Charles launched himself into his arms, wrapping both legs around his thin waist.
“You owe me big time,” he whispered into Erik’s ear before licking over the shell. Erik only grinned wider as he pressed Charles up against the wall, hands already beginning to wander.
Later, finally satisfied and tangled on Erik’s couch, Charles sighed happily and tightened his grip around Erik’s shoulders. Erik’s naked body was warm and sticky where it pressed to Charles’ chest, face to face on the thin couch. There wasn’t much room – if Erik moved even a fraction backwards he would fall, and no doubt take Charles with him – but neither man cared enough to get up, their heavy limbs curled together.
If only he could turn off his brain and relax fully: Charles was the kind of man who loved to talk even during the post-coital haze, sleepy and fuzzy from too much pleasure. The silence was nice, content and comfortable, but he still longed to find out more about Erik. His past, his job, his family.
Kissing the sweat from Erik’s collarbone, Charles closed his eyes and projected an image of Erik shrinking into a child, small and cute with a button nose and a smile too big for his face. “Tell me about your childhood? Um, kinder?” His love of chocolate Kinder Eggs had at least taught him the German word for ‘child’.
Erik latched onto the vision, huffing a wry laugh. The bland background imagery washed away, melting to white before being replaced with – Charles gasped – the Berlin Wall. An East Berlin flag fluttered in the cool breeze, and Charles could hear Russian voices mixing with German in the surrounding press of bodies. Erik’s clothes were patched and too small for his growing frame, his face just a little too thin. He would have been no older than 5 when the wall came down in a cloud of rubble dust and deafening cheering, clutching tightly to his mother’s skirts.
A shift, and a slightly older Erik was with his mother in a tiny, dilapidated house. Despite the bare brick walls and sparse furniture, Erik’s mother had clearly tried her best to keep the place neat and bright: freshly picked flowers stood in a chipped vase by the window, and the concrete floor was swept of dust and covered in a homemade rug. Erik, his hair sticking up in tufts like down feathers, smiled happily as the two of them tucked into a simple yet delicious dinner. Charles had no doubt that Erik’s mother had saved her money for months to pay for the ingredients, a proud hand brushing her son’s hand.
‘Ich bin nicht in die Schule gegangen.’ And then Erik was older, maybe 15 or 16, overly tall for his age and awkwardly hunching his shoulders. He stood outside a closed school gate, fingers curled around the metal bars, expression almost hungry as he watched laughing children walk into the building with their books and satchels and friends. ’ Ich ging zur Arbeit.’ Work, a factory full of dangerous machines and tools. Erik used his ability when the backs of his supervisors were turned, gaining the awe and respect – and fear – of the other young adults that worked there. Not many of them dared to befriend him, too scared of the tall, sullen child that could move metal just by looking at it, and Erik quickly became accustomed to being an outsider.
Charles pulled back, dismayed at the tears in his eyes. He blinked them away, cupping Erik’s jaw in his hands. “I’m sorry for dragging that up.” He pushed across his feelings of sadness and guilt. Erik shook his head, stroking Charles’ back.
“Und du? Zeige mir deine Kindheit.” Erik grinned as he thought of Charles as a boy, small and chubby-cheeked. Charles swatted at him.
“My childhood wasn’t much better to be honest,” he admitted quietly, opening his mind. There was Charles, small yet surprisingly thin, at his father’s funeral. It was the first of many times he would see his mother drunk, swaying on the spot, her dulled eyes fixed on the casket. A tall man with broad shoulders and a thick moustache laid a hand on her shoulder, squeezing gently.
Six months later, his mother and the man – Kurt – were married. Charles tightened his grip even further around Erik, anchoring himself as more painful memories bubbled to the surface:
His drunken mother passed out on the couch, so lost to her misery that she had forgotten about Charles’ ninth birthday. Kurt slapping Charles across the face with the back of his hand because Charles had dared to argue about using his newly developed powers to help his mother curb her drinking habit. Leather straps holding his struggling body to the table while Kurt fixed electrodes to his temples, surgical tools glinting dangerously from the walls of the underground laboratory. Cain, Kurt’s son, attempting to help Charles and only hurting him further, his own mutation too strong to control; Cain was soon tranquilised and bundled into the back of a white van, never to be seen again.
And then Raven found her way to their kitchen one night, beautiful and bright and everything a lonely, desperate child needed. Charles showed her morphing into a sweet blond girl, her shy smile so charming that even his mother paused to admire her golden curls. She was adopted quickly, and Kurt died in a laboratory fire a year later. Charles’ mother wore red to his funeral.
“My mother still lives in our old estate in Surrey,” Charles explained, begrudgingly showing the grand Xavier manor. Erik raised his eyebrows, but didn’t comment further. “What about your mother…?” Charles thought of the woman in the picture upstairs. Erik’s eyes dropped to Charles’ chin.
“Tot.” A tombstone, small and simple, bearing the name ‘Edie Lehnsherr’.
“Oh, bloody hell, Erik, I’m sorry.” Charles pinched the bridge of his nose. How typical of him to put his foot in his mouth once again. Erik chuckled warmly, hand closing around Charles’ own and drawing it away from his face.
“Das ist schon lange her.” He shrugged, wobbling precariously on the edge of the couch. He presented the image of a calendar, its pages blowing to the year 2003: many years ago.
Charles smiled faintly, gathering Erik to him and breathing in the scent of his hair. “You’re not alone anymore. Neither of us are.”
“Do you think they’ll teach us any dirty words?”
Charles raised exasperated eyebrows. “I doubt it, Raven. They’ll probably start with ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ rather than the really kinky stuff.”
“Pity.” Raven pouted playfully, rubbing her hands against the chilled night air. Charles’ breath rose in crystal clouds, his lips chapped and sore. The gaudy Halloween decorations had been taken down and the scent of fireworks and bonfire smoke hung thick in the London streets. It had taken Charles some time and many scribbled drawings of kings and Catholics to teach Erik the history behind Guy Fawkes Night, and Erik had been eager to set off some fireworks from his tiny walled-in garden.
Charles made his excuses, regrettably, promising sparklers the following evening. Telling Erik that he was spending the night with his sister wasn’t exactly a lie, but he had neglected to tell the entire story: that he and Raven were attending a German for Beginners night class.
He wanted it to be a surprise. He could imagine it now; Erik asking a question and Charles replying in perfect German, delight and pride in Erik’s smile. How wonderful it would be to be able to communicate with fluent language as well as thought and emotion. Maybe then they could continue the argument they had started on Google Translate about the government’s take on mutantkind’s integration into society.
It was the first time Charles had seen Erik truly angry, his hands balled into white-knuckled fists. He had turned the TV off with a lash of power so violent it broke the button clean off the set.
Erik believed – or so Google Translate had said in jumbled Pigeon English – that mutants would never be an accepted part of society. Humans were far too oppressive, too fearful, to live among them in peace. Charles had tried to argue; though he knew from past experience that humans could be violent toward things they didn’t understand, there were far more humans out there that would open their arms to mutantkind. Their heated debate had come to an end when Google Translate became more of a hindrance than a help, and Erik had dragged Charles halfway up the stairs before indulging in some angry sex right there on the carpet. Charles still had the rug burns on the backs of his thighs to prove it.
(Google Translate had proven to be pure gold, and Charles often kicked himself for not having thought of trying it sooner. It didn’t always work – sometimes the translations were so literal that Erik had a hard time trying to string the mishmash of words into a normal German sentence – but for tricky situations such as asking Erik if he would like to move some of his belongings in to Charles’ flat, it had been invaluable.)
Raven cuddled her coat tighter around her neck, laughing as a burst of colourful fireworks lit the dark sky with red and green sparks. Charles steered her toward the door of the college, grateful for the heated hallway after the sharp outside air.
“How was your date with Hank last week?” Charles asked as he signed the two of them in on the register. Raven flushed.
“It was… alright.” She shrugged defensively, and Charles tried not to wince at the mental barrier that slammed shut between them. After so many years of practise, she had gotten rather good at that. “We went for Chinese food and saw a movie.”
“Shall I look for a suit to your wedding just yet?” Charles asked breezily. Raven rolled her eyes.
“Oh yeah, I’ve already picked out names for our kids too,” she said sarcastically, tugging a peach coloured scarf from around her neck. “Seriously though, he barely dared to talk to me, let alone touch me. I kissed him on the cheek before he left and actually thought he was going to pass out.”
Charles laughed, not unkindly. “He’s just shy, you know Hank. Preserve, love; he likes you.”
“We’re not in kindergarten anymore, we’re grown adults and he can’t even hold my hand without blushing like a schoolboy.”
Their footsteps rang loudly on the tiled flooring, the smell of lemon cleaning products irritating Charles’ nose. “He’ll come ‘round. Maybe he just needs someone like you to bring him out of his shell.”
“What if he… doesn’t like what he sees under the shell?” Raven murmured quietly. Charles paused, touching her elbow.
“He doesn’t know about you? Oh, Raven, really.” He reached up to run a hand through her hair. “You have to tell him. He told you about his feet and you know how shy he is about that.”
“Big feet are the last of my worries, Charles,” Raven huffed. “I’d give anything to have a mutation as easily concealable as that. He’ll hate me.”
“No, he won’t. You’re stunning.”
Raven rolled her eyes. “Yeah, right. I’m blue.”
“Maybe it’s Hank’s favourite colour?”
“Be serious, Charles. I’ve had to hide my whole life. What’s one more person?”
Charles sighed, reaching for Raven’s hand. “Is that really a basis to start something serious? If Hank has any decency at all inside him – which we know he does – then he’ll accept you for who you are.”
Raven smiled faintly. “I guess we’ll just wait and see.”
She swung open the classroom door. A handful of people were already scattered around the desks, young and old alike. Charles had always enjoyed night classes; they reminded him of his lectures. The people there wanted to attend, their minds willing to learn and absorb information. Of course Charles had had to deal with the occasional bored attendee in the past, but mostly the classes were fun and dynamic, the students often debating between themselves as much as they did with Charles.
They took their seats in the middle of the class, dragging two desks together.
“How’s it going with Mr. Lover Lover anyway?” Raven whispered, and for a moment it was almost like being back at school with a friend, giggling and passing notes beneath the desks. Charles chuckled to himself, his smile a little secretive.
“Good.” He nodded. “Very… satisfying.”
Raven wrinkled her nose. “I really don’t want to know what you mean by that.”
The door opened and their teacher walked in. Swaggered was more accurate a word, Charles thought, taking in the thick head of auburn hair and piercingly blue eyes. He smirked at the class, hands held loosely in his pockets.
“Good evening, class – or should I say, Guten Abend, Klasse,” he purred. “My name is Sebastian Shaw, and I’ll be attempting to teach you basic German.”
Shaw turned his back to scrawl his name on the whiteboard. Raven glanced at Charles with raised eyebrows.
“Scary.” She mouthed.
Shaw capped his pen and rounded on the class, his broad smile never quite meeting his eyes. “So, let’s start simple. Who can tell me how to say ‘hello’ in German?”
A woman at the front of the class tentatively raised her hand. “‘Hallo’, or Guten Tag.”
Shaw nodded once. “Correct. There’s also ‘Guten Morgen’, which means ‘good day’, and ‘Guten Abend’. What did I say that meant…?”
“Good evening?” Raven spoke up, her voice hopeful.
“Exactly. But if you want to be more casual, greeting a friend for example, you could say –”
“Grüß dich,” Charles cut in, smiling. It was something Erik often said when meeting him, scooping him up into a hug and murmuring the words into his hair.
Shaw cocked a mildly impressed eyebrow. “You’re a beginner, right?”
“Oh, yes. I just… know a few bits and pieces,” Charles explained. Raven snorted.
“I bet you know loads of dirty words already, don’t you?” She whispered. Charles bit his lips against a laugh.
Shaw went on to teach them the formal and informal ways to say goodbye, as well as how to ask ‘how are you’ and a few basic responses. Charles was stunned at how much he already knew just from his short time with Erik, earning a smug smile from Shaw and a few dark mutters from the rest of the class. It really was like being back at school – especially when Raven discreetly slipped a note into his hand.
‘Have you tried the big sausage line yet?’
Maybe he would leave Raven at home next week.
The following month passed in a blur of sex and increasingly enthusiastic mental Pictionary. Erik immediately fell in love with Charles’ flat, brushing fascinated fingertips over the rows of book spines and making himself thoroughly at home amongst the mess of papers and dirty teacups. They watched subtitled films curled on the couch and the occasional porn flick on Charles’ laptop in bed. Neither of them really needed the added stimulation – more often than not they both orgasmed before the actors did – but it was fun to watch something without the need of any dialogue, the grunts and moans of hot, oiled-up men more than enough to tell the tale.
The German classes progressed surprisingly quickly, and soon Charles was able to hold short conversations with Shaw and his classmates. Simple things, numbers and family members and hobbies, but it was still immensely satisfying to be able to understand a word or two when speaking to Erik. The most difficult part was making excuses every Tuesday; dinner with his sister, working late with Hank, a visit to his mother. Erik never commented, but the disappointment in his eyes whenever Charles turned down a date night was almost enough to break Charles’ heart. It would all be worth it in the end, when he and Erik could chat easily.
The morning of their two month anniversary dawned bright and cold, the scent of frost a sharp chill in the stiff breeze. Charles expected little more than several rounds of enthusiastic sex followed by dinner followed by even more sex. He didn’t expect Erik to drag him out of bed and into his only pair of running shoes, coaxing him out into the cold for an early morning jog. Erik often went running before Charles even woke up, keeping his physique in top shape. Charles had ran for Oxford back in University, but years of sitting behind a desk writing theories and lectures had made him a little soft around the edges. It had always been something he had meant to work on, tomorrow or the day after that, or maybe next week.
At least Erik’s intentions seemed genuine; he simply wanted a running partner, not to try and whip Charles into shape. Charles tried to stay chipper as the two of them jogged slowly around Hyde Park, hoping Erik didn’t notice the way his ass bounced in his too-tight jogging bottoms, or how his cheeks were soon rosy red and damp with perspiration. Erik kept the pace effortlessly, his calf muscles tight and firm in his teeny tiny maroon shorts. Charles nearly tripped over his own feet more times than he cared to admit, far too distracted for his own good.
He pulled back, waving away Erik’s concerned look with a flap of his hand and a forced smile. Erik winked and ran on ahead – Charles didn’t miss the added sway of his hips, and quickly sent Erik the sensation of having his ass slapped. Slumping onto a bench, Charles chugged a mouthful of water from a plastic flask Erik had given him and struggled to catch his breath. Something was vibrating in his pocket; a phone call. Charles shifted, pulling it out and squinting against the cool sunlight to make out the name lighting the screen.
A grin, and he touched the answer button, holding the phone to his ear. “Moira! How wonderful to hear from you!”
“You too, Professor,” Moira replied, her voice smooth and bright. “I hope I’m not calling too early or disturbing you.”
“Moira, darling, please call me Charles. And no, you’re not disturbing me. I’m just out for a jog.”
“That sounds like fun. Healthy.”
“Oh, tonnes of fun,” Charles murmured sarcastically, glancing up to watch Erik’s retreating figure as he vanished behind a copse of trees. “I’d much rather be curled up in a nice warm bed to be honest, but… oh well, I’ll feel the benefit later, I hope.”
“I’m sure. How’s work? Still fighting the good fight?”
“Of course, for all the good it does. I hope you don’t mind but I’ve completely pilfered some of the case files from your last class. That young man who was bitten by a spider last year, for example. Fascinating stuff.”
“Oh that’s fine, I’ve already stolen your line about Polymorphisms.”
Charles laughed, tutting good-naturedly. “That makes us even.”
“Anyway, Professor – Charles. I was just calling to let you know I’ll be back in London during December to see some family. I was wondering if you wanted to meet up for a coffee sometime?”
Charles paused. He wasn’t naïve enough to kid himself into thinking that Moira’s intentions were purely innocent. They – well, he – had flirted shamelessly upon meeting in Scotland, and Charles had given Moira his number after insisting she call him next time she visited London. Moira was intelligent, beautiful, and had given Charles a hard time until he had bought her coffee after a lecture and spent a good hour and a half arguing mutant politics. He had been eager to date her – until Erik had slid so effortlessly into his life.
Charles sighed softly, shifting the phone from one ear to the other. “I’d love to, Moira, that sounds great. But just so we’re clear – I’m seeing someone.”
“You don’t wait around, do you?” Moira chuckled warmly. “Don’t worry about that, Charles. Just meeting up as friends is fine by me; I can grill you some more about mutant registration and not have to worry about scaring you away.”
“Oh, darling, don’t get started on that. We’d be there all day.” Charles laughed, leaning back against the bench. The crunch of footsteps on grass made him glance over his shoulder; Erik was watching him from his stance against a nearby tree, arms folded tightly over his chest. Charles sent out a wave of concern, brushing tentatively against Erik’s mind. There was irritation there, and the distinct green hue of jealousy.
Charles would have snorted if he didn’t already know it would only annoy the German even further. His jealous reaction was actually rather adorable. How much had Erik even understood? He knew the word ‘darling’ well enough after a month with Charles and his love of endearments, but probably little more than that. Charles turned back to the phone, bringing the conversation to a close. “Anyway, Moira, I should get back to my run. Text me a date and a place and I’ll see you then.”
“Will do. Take care, Charles.”
Pressing the call button, Charles pocketed the phone and stood up, circling around the bench to Erik. The taller man’s face was carefully blank, though the blasé expression didn’t quite work with a telepath picking up every drop of jealousy and suspicion in his head. Charles tipped his head, rubbing his hands over Erik’s arms. “Are you okay?”
“Mit wem hast du gesprochen?” Erik asked mildly, pushing forward the image of Charles on the phone and a feeling of nagging curiosity.
“A friend,” Charles answered, sharing thoughts of Moira with her glossy auburn hair and friendly smile. For good measure, he slapped a big red cross over her and shook his head insistently. Erik smiled faintly, just a tiny curl of his lips.
“Freundin?” He asked.
Charles nodded firmly. “Freundin. That’s all. You don’t have any reason to be jealous.” He reached up to cup Erik’s jaw and draw him down into a soft kiss. Erik resisted at first, tensed shoulders slowly relaxing when Charles grinned and flicked his tongue across Erik’s lower lip.
“Should we go home?” Charles purred – home, with a warm bed and soft pillows and fresh sheets just waiting to be thoroughly ruined with sweat and come.
Erik pulled back, raising a decidedly unamused eyebrow. He nudged Charles in the ribs with a sharp elbow, nodding toward the park. “Lass uns gehen!” To Charles’ horror, Erik mimed running on the spot, complete with adorable little swinging arm movements and hops from toe to toe. Charles groaned in despair – Erik merely gripped his wrist and resumed their jog, dragging the shorter man behind him.
By the time Erik finally allowed them to leave the park, Charles was exhausted, flushed, and covered in long green stains after an unfortunate tumble on the dew-slick grass. Erik had chosen to laugh rather than help him up, slapping Charles on the ass for good measure. They spent the last 20 minutes of their once-leisurely jog chasing each other around the park, their laughter mixed with a few choice curses as they tackled one another through mud and brambles and late November frost.
It had been a surprisingly fun morning considering Charles’ reluctance, but that wasn’t to say that he was disappointed to finally flop onto his couch in a pair of clean slacks and a thick woollen cardigan, a favourite book opened on his knee and a cup of jog-destroying hot chocolate steaming merrily on the table. Curling his feet beneath him, Charles listened to the light patter of rain beginning to tap against the window. Thank God they’d missed that; there was nothing quite worse than jogging in the rain, with water dribbling down the back of your neck and getting in your shoes. He cuddled further into the warm neck of his cardigan, and began to read.
Old habits die hard, and Charles had grown so used to reading aloud to Raven during their childhood that even now, nearly a decade later, he still found it hard to keep the words from whispering past his lips in a gentle murmur to an invisible audience. Raven had often fallen asleep with her head on his lap, lulled into dreams by the soft tones of his voice. Or, of course, a boring story. But Charles was good at making even the dullest reading material sound good.
It wasn’t long before Charles felt Erik’s presence hovering in the doorway, curious and pleased. Charles continued reading, raising his voice just a little, more for Erik’s benefit than his own.
The book was a good one, a fantasy novel that Hank had feverishly recommended. Despite his love of the written word, Charles rarely had time to read novels, mostly engrossed in thick texts on genetics and mutation to flesh out his lectures. Moira had written a pair of books, both of which Charles loved, but nothing quite surpassed the magic of falling heart-first into fiction, a wonderful way of suspending reality and escaping into the world of your own imagination.
Erik moved closer, silent, waves of appreciation setting a warm light in Charles’ chest. Charles wordlessly shimmied up on the couch, making room for Erik to sit beside him.
Charles’ voice soon filled the small room, rich and soft and accompanied by the pitter-patter of falling rain. Relaxation like a thick blanket about their shoulders, Charles leaned back against Erik’s chest and enjoyed the sensation of Erik’s long fingers tracing idle patterns over the back of his hand. It was clear that Erik loved hearing Charles read aloud, even if he couldn’t understand the vast majority of the words.
Charles shivered when Erik’s hand began to wander up his arm, smoothing over the fabric of Charles’ cardigan and causing his voice to catch in his throat. A small twinge of apology flickered in Erik’s mind, tainted by the underlying sense of smug satisfaction. Charles nudged him in the ribs, clearing his throat before continuing his reading.
Erik’s confidence only grew, and soon both hands where at Charles’ shoulders, strong thumbs rubbing small circles into the muscles either side of his neck. Charles tipped his head to one side on a sigh, projecting his gratitude. How wonderful it felt to be able to communicate like this. Emotion had no language, and Erik’s mind blossomed under his touch. He didn’t press too far, more than content to just float there amongst colourful sensory feeling, a level of trust he had never been granted in the past. So many people shied from his telepathy, their discomfort leaving a sour taste in Charles’ mouth; Erik was like a breath of clean air after oppressive smog, eager to learn and teach.
Charles turned a page and very nearly dropped his book when Erik’s lips pressed softly to back of his neck. With his mind so entwined with Erik’s own it was easy to see the increasingly sensual images swimming lazily to the front of his thoughts.
The freckles at the back of Charles’ neck, the tip of Erik’s tongue counting each and every one – Charles stripping down to his bare skin, settling himself in Erik’s fully-clothed lap. Kisses scattered over Erik’s lips, jaw, cheeks, two pressed to his closed eyelids. Erik’s hand sliding between their bodies, Charles’ back arching in pleasure.
It took a few dizzying moments for Charles to realise that he had dropped the book to the floor, his hand clenching on air. He opened his eyes – when had he even shut them? – and turned his head to catch Erik’s lips in a kiss that sparked electricity through his blood.
He twisted in Erik’s arms, the book forgotten as he slid properly into Erik’s lap and cupped his jaw in both hands. Pressing their foreheads together, he rubbed a thumb over the high arch of Erik’s jawbone.
Want. More. Beseeching.
Erik grinned, hands running up Charles’ back.
Charles’ bookshelf – the one right behind them – and Erik was shoving Charles up against it and kissing the pale column of his throat. Books and ornaments rattled as he pinned both of Charles’ wrists by his sides, pressing their hips together insistently. Charles gasped, wordless cries on his tongue, the red stain of his lips obscenely bright in Erik’s imagination.
Charles scoffed playfully, biting the tip of Erik’s nose in retaliation. He summoned his own fantasy, pushing it forcibly into Erik’s head.
Charles on his back, flushed and dazed as Erik straddled his hips this time, Charles’ cock buried deep inside him, rocking back and forth in a gentle sway that pushed him deeper and deeper with every movement.
Erik gasped, his eyes flying open. Charles held his breath, their gazes locking.
Erik didn’t reply verbally, grey-blue eyes shadowing with lust.
Erik pushed over a desk stained with oil and axle grease, his overalls down around his ankles as Charles pounded into him from behind, knocking various tools and parts across the workroom floor.
Charles groaned, his thighs clenching reflexively around Erik’s hips. It was such a relief to find out that Erik liked to switch, or would at least do so for him. He rocked forward just a little, pressing their growing erections together. They clutched each other, eyes closed, losing themselves to the privacy of their combined thoughts.
Charles’ wrists bound with iron, both man and metal under Erik’s control as Charles knelt before him and slowly slid his lips down Erik’s cock.
Erik with his back against the headboard and Charles’ legs wrapped around his waist, the two of them so tightly meshed together that it was hard to tell who was inside who.
Charles with wire-framed reading glasses perched on his nose, grinning devilishly as he lazily licked a streak of come off his lips.
Somewhere, back in a physical body that Charles had to struggle to hold on to, he felt his belt buckle slide apart and the buttons of his pants pop open. Erik’s wide hands gripped his ass, dragging him closer. Charles gasped, breathless, more images crowding into his mind:
Lovebites and hungry kisses - short fingers clasped with longer ones - bronzed skin sliding against white. Gasps and moans and soft cries of each other’s name, pleasure both physical and mental like lighting through their bodies.
Charles came with a startled shout, hips jerking forward erratically. He felt Erik stiffen beneath him, a wet burst hitting his stomach.
Panting breaths and the drum of rain, shared ecstasy slowly receding. Charles blinked his eyes open, dizzy and disorientated, to find Erik in much the same state. He looked so beautiful in that moment that Charles would have pinched himself if he had been so inclined to move, flushed and wrecked and grinning.
“I love you,” Charles whispered, barely audible over the rain. Even if Erik hadn’t understood the words, the wave of adoration was hard to miss.
He blinked, lips falling open before slowly curling into a smile.
“Ich liebe dich auch, Charles.”
There were Christmas decorations in the streets when Charles met up with Moira, strings of glittering fairy lights coiled around and between lampposts. Some people had their trees up already, though Charles was in no rush to follow their example. He had never been one to make a fuss over Christmas. His mother and step-father had cared little for religion, and the commercial side of the holiday they considered an unnecessary waste of time.
With his own money and small group of friends and family, Charles spared more thought toward the holiday now that he was free of his childhood home, but had never gone Christmas crazy. And with Erik he was able to witness a few Jewish celebrations that not many people in England got a chance to be a part of. Erik wasn’t a devout Jew, but did like to celebrate some of the traditions his family had taught him as a young child. He had brought a Hanukkiah candelabra with him from Germany, and Charles had watched in respectful silence as Erik had lit each candle over a span of eight nights through early December. Erik had made him crispy golden latkes, pancakes made from shredded potatoes, which Charles had happily wolfed down. Any excuse to try new food was welcome with him, and it was domestically sweet to watch Erik potter around in the kitchen in Charles’ apron, spoons and metal whisks working seamlessly alongside him.
Moira met him outside a busy café, waving gloved hands as Charles weaved through the street. Tourists were out in force, their arms laden with Christmas shopping – it was always one of London’s busiest times of the year; not that it was ever quiet in London.
“Professor Xavier!” Moira beamed and welcomed a tight hug, her auburn hair tucked up into a woollen hat. Charles sighed in exasperation, shaking his head.
“Call me Charles, Moira! Unless you want me to start calling you ‘Dr. MacTaggert’?” He winked at her playfully. Moira pulled a face.
“Sorry, sorry. It’s a habit.” She shrugged, her shoulders lost in a snug thermal jacket. Moira had always chosen practicality and comfort over fashion, another trait she had in common with Charles. “Most of my colleague’s prefer to call each other by their titles. Things can get pretty confusing. Actually, it’s pretty fun to shout ‘professor’ across the cafeteria and see how many people turn around.”
Charles laughed, waving toward the café. “Shall we? I’m bloody freezing!”
The café was crowded, a line of warmly-dressed commuters queuing for coffees to go. Moira darted nimbly through the press of bodies and grabbed them a spare table by the window, tugging off her thick gloves and hat.
“I’d have thought you’d be used to the cold after your time in Scotland,” Charles mused, shrugging out of his coat and scarf. Moira snorted
“I’m from Long Island, remember? I’ll always have warm blood.” She folded her arms on the table, warm hazel eyes crinkling pleasantly as she smiled. “So, how’re things? Are you going to tell me more about this mystery woman you’re seeing?”
Charles flushed. “Ah, actually, he’s a man. His name is Erik.”
Moira nodded, her eyebrows raising a little in surprise but otherwise making no comment on Charles’ sexuality. “I see. Where did you meet him?”
“On the train coming back from Edinburg, actually. He sat opposite me and we got… talking.”
“‘Talking’?” Moira smiled, faintly teasing. “Is that a euphemism, Charles?”
Charles chuckled, absently rubbing the feeling back into his chilled hands. “Not exactly. He’s… well, he’s German, and doesn’t speak much English.”
Moira’s eyebrows practically flew up her forehead. “None at all?”
“At that time very little, just a few basic phrases. He’s getting much better now,” Charles raised his chin defiantly, somewhat defensive of Erik’s hard work.
“How do you communicate?” Moira asked, and Charles was pleased to hear the curiosity in her voice, genuine interest washing her surface thoughts.
“Mostly telepathically, with imagery and emotion and the odd Google Translate session,” Charles admitted, very nearly laughing at his own words. It all seemed so odd when spoken aloud. “It does get difficult at times, I’ll be honest. It’s like playing a game of Charades some days, and we do get things wrong.”
“You’re brave to overcome such a barrier. Especially a chatterbox like you.”
Charles huffed good-naturedly. “I still chatter, even if Erik can’t understand me. In my defence, it’s a good way for Erik to pick up on our language listening to me talking to myself.”
“Can you speak any German?” Moira asked. Charles paused as an harassed-looking waitress stopped at their table, jotting their drink order down on a notepad before braving the crowd circling the counter.
“I’ve been taking lessons," he continued. "Just the basics at the moment, but I could now order a cup of tea and some biscuits in a German café. Exciting, no?”
Moira laughed softly, nodding happily. “I’m sure he’ll appreciate that.”
“He doesn’t know at the moment. I want it to be a surprise.”
“Aww. I didn’t pen you as such a romantic, Charles.”
Charles shrugged lightly before turning the conversation to Moira. “How about you; any romance on the horizon?”
Moira’s cheeks turned pink. “Sean has asked me out once or twice, but I’ve been putting him off.”
“Why?” Charles tipped his head inquisitively. Moira was a beautiful woman, and while Sean was rather loud – with or without his mutation – he was a good, loyal friend. “Sean’s a nice boy.”
“I’m not saying he isn’t, and he’s even pretty cute when he isn’t wearing garishly coloured sweaters, but…” Moira shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I’m still just a little hung up on someone.”
Charles didn’t miss the implication in her words. He sighed, reaching across the table to take Moira’s hand between both of his own. “Moira, you know I think you’re a beautiful, intelligent woman, but –”
Moira shook her head quickly. “Don’t, Charles. I understand, really I do. It was just bad timing on my part.” She smiled confidently, strong jaw set. “I’ll get over it. Don’t flatter yourself too much.”
Charles squeezed her hand before pulling away. Their drinks arrived; a steaming cappuccino for Moira and pot of fresh tea for Charles. Moira cupped her hands around the coffee mug, nails clicking against porcelain.
“He’s offered to take me to Edinburg zoo,” Moira continued. “I have to admit that that’s pretty interesting for a first date.”
“You’ll have a great time. You know how clumsy Sean can be though; make sure he doesn’t get too close to the animals.”
Charles genuinely wished them the best of luck. It was a rather unconventional match, but sometimes romance could be found in the unlikeliest of places. Sean and Moira were as different as chalk and cheese: Moira was straight-laced and held a strict routine over her life, whereas Sean breezed from day to day without a care in the world. She was tidy and impulsively neat, he a scatterbrain and compulsive hoarder of useless junk. On paper the relationship was doomed, but Charles liked to think that the two of them could work it out. Moira could be great fun when coaxed into the right situations, and Sean was certainly a magnet for crazy adventures. Charles already knew their trip to the zoo wouldn’t be a conventional one.
They sipped their drinks and spoke of Christmas and New Year plans. Moira was planning to leave for Edinburg on Boxing Day after visiting her father, and then fly to Long Island to watch the ball drop with her mother. Charles hadn’t really thought about New Year. He always spent Christmas with Raven, and this year Erik would be there too. Erik had no objections to Charles celebrating Christmas, and had even offered to help cook a proper turkey dinner. As for New Year, Charles was eager to welcome the next chapter of his life with Erik by his side, sharing a kiss as the clock struck midnight.
He and Moira waved goodbye with promises of another meeting on their lips, Charles hugging her close and wishing her all the best with Sean. It was beginning to grow dark already, the cold December days getting shorter and shorter. Charles hurried home, excitement bubbling in his stomach. Erik had already agreed to meet him there - hopefully with a bottle of wine and few to little items of clothing.
Reaching his apartment, Charles let himself in – and stopped abruptly in the darkened doorway.
"Erik?" He called, fumbling for the light switch. There was no sign of Erik, and a quick scan of the building showed he wasn’t in the flat. Frowning, Charles tugged his phone out of his pocket. The illuminated screen showed a missed call and an unread text message, both in Erik’s name. He opened the message, apprehension a tight knot in his stomach.
There on the screen, the photograph slightly fuzzy and out of focus, was Charles and Moira through the window of the café. They were holding hands across their table.
‘Du erzähltest mir, sie sei nur eine Freundin. Ist das dort wo du jeden Dienstag hingehst?’
Panicked, Charles darted to his computer, clicking the bookmarked link to Google Translate.
‘You told me she was just a friend. Is that where you go every Tuesday?’
“Shit,” Charles cursed angrily, heart pounding as he quickly called for a cab. His plans of surprising Erik with news of his German classes were going to have to be cut short. He should have realised how odd it must have looked for Charles to vanish every Tuesday evening, always giving an excuse and a vague description of fabricated events the next morning. Had Erik been suspicious this whole time? Had he been spying on him?
By the time the cab pulled up outside Erik’s house, Charles had bitten his lips to a raw, bloody mess. He threw some cash at the driver, not even caring how generous a tip he was handing over, and staggered out of the car. Erik’s lights were on, and Charles reached out to touch Erik’s mind, recoiling in horror at the mental shield he found there. It wasn’t particularly effective to a telepath as strong as Charles, but the very fact that Erik was attempting to keep him out was enough to lodge a heartbroken lump in his throat.
He banged a fist on the door. “Erik! Open the door.”
Nothing. Something moved inside, a flicker of shadow by the window.
“Bitte, Erik!” Charles shouted, ignoring the touch of curiosity from nosey neighbours. “Sprich mit mir.”
‘Talk to me.’
The door ripped open and Erik appeared, his face clouded with hurt and anger. He folded his arms tightly across his chest, shrugging with false nonchalance. “Was wollen Sie?”
“Sprich mit mir. Please.” Charles moved a step closer, and felt everything metal on his person vibrate threateningly. He stopped, eyes beseeching. “Erik, listen. Moira is just a friend, I swear. A Freundin.”
The photograph from the café was shoved so violently into his mind that Charles stumbled back a little, grasping the wall dividing the two houses. “Du lügst,” Erik hissed, distrust like a slap to Charles’ face.
“I was comforting her!” Panicked, Charles scrubbed his hands through his hair, wishing he knew some German that would come in bloody useful and not ridiculous things like how to say ‘I would like one ticket to the theatre please’. He replayed the memory as calmly he could, projecting Moira’s sadness and rejection, how he had reached over the table to grasp her hand for only a brief moment.
Comfort. Help. Friendship. “Please, Erik, trust me. Moira is my friend and nothing more.”
Erik raised his chin, stubborn with wounded pride. Charles felt tears prick the corners his eyes with the desperate desire to touch him, pull him into his arms and babble words of love and adoration. Their fight was so absurd, all for nothing. How was he supposed to explain without the use of words? Imagery and emotion would only get him so far.
“Wohin gehst du jeden Dienstag?” Erik asked, voice cold.
Dienstag. Shaw had just taught them the days of the week: it meant Tuesday. Where do you go on Tuesdays.
“I…” Charles faltered, a flush rising high on his cheeks. He let out a half laugh, half sob, offering a watery smile. It was now or never.
He sucked in a breath.
“Hallo, my Name ist Charles,” he began softly, concentrating carefully on the pronunciation of each word. They felt thick and cumbersome is his mouth. “Ich bin sechsundzwanzig. Ich bin ein Professor für Genetik und lebe in London.”
Erik’s eyes widened, his lips falling slack. “Was?”
“Meine Lieblingsfarbe ist blau. Ich habe eine Schwester. Ich hätte bitte gerne eine Karte fürs Theater.” ‘My favourite colour is blue. I have one sister. I would like one ticket to the theatre please.’
Erik’s opened mouth began to curl upwards. He gasped one short, disbelieving laugh. “Charles-”
“Ich habe einen festen Freund der Erik heißt. Er ist sehr gutaussehend. Ich liebe ihn sehr.” ‘I have a boyfriend called Erik. He is very handsome. I love him very much.’ Charles’ face crumpled, hot tears finally spilling from his eyes. “I’m sorry, Erik, please believe me.”
Erik immediately pushed away from the door, snatching Charles into a tight hug. Charles struggled to catch his breath as Erik rained kisses across his cheeks and nose and lips, spluttering through his tears.
“You speak German?” Erik asked.
“Only a little bit. I’ve been – wait,” Charles startled, head snapping to stare up at Erik in shock. “You can speak English?”
Erik grinned. “I learn. Slow. It is hard.” His voice was heavily accented, deep and rich and one of the most beautiful things Charles had ever heard. "Surprise."
Charles laughed, close to hysterical, ecstatically throwing both arms around Erik’s neck and knocking them back a few staggering paces.
“When? How?” He struggled to think of a time when Erik could have snuck to a class without noticing noticing. When he was at work, perhaps?
“Morning. You think I run. You sleep.” Erik mimed jogging on the spot, his grin turning mischievous. Charles could barely believe his ears, shaking his head incredulously.
“All this time you’ve been going for a morning run, you were really sneaking off to an English class?”
Erik nodded, far too pleased with himself. “Ja. Yes.”
“Why didn’t I think of something like that?” Charles laughed, flopping against Erik’s chest. Relief made him weak, washing over his frayed nerves like a rush of cool water. To think of Erik sitting in an English class just for him, working his way through difficult phrases and tenses then coming back to Charles and acting as though nothing had happened, hoping to surprise him when he was more confident… it was terribly adorable.
“Moira is just a friend, I promise.” He stroked a hand down Erik’s cheek, cupping his jaw. “Why on Earth would I want anyone else?”
Erik smiled, shaking his head absently. “It is okay. I understand.”
“This is fantastic. I’ll have to teach you some dirty words.” Charles beamed, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. Erik nipped the plush flesh of his lower lip between his teeth.
‘Shut up and fuck me.’
Three Years Later
“Straighten your tie, darling, you look like a chimp dressed you.”
Erik looks up from adjusting a pair of silver cufflinks, raising an unimpressed eyebrow at his boyfriend. “You tied it for me.”
Charles frowns, his lips pouting adorably, before huffing an embarrassed laugh. “Oh bugger, so I did. Es tut mir leid, darling. My mind is all over the place.”
Erik turns from the full-length mirror, pressing a kiss to Charles’ forehead. “You don’t have to tell me that, Schatz. You’ve been giving me a headache all morning.”
“Sorry, sorry.” Charles wrings his hands, and Erik can’t help but want to bundle him up into his arms and kiss the lines of anxiety from his face. “I just can’t believe Raven and Hank are getting married. It’s… it’s…”
“Lächerlich?” Erik offers. Charles nods frantically.
“Exactly. Ridculous!” He pauses. “In the most wonderful way, of course.”
“Of course.” Erik smiles, finishing his cufflinks and starting on the mess of a tie. Charles bats his hands away and straightens the silk himself, carefully flipping it under and over. Erik watches him fondly; those inkstains still darken the tips of his fingers, his hair flopping and curling over his forehead in a way that seems genetically predesigned to drive Erik crazy. He reaches down to curl his fingers around Charles’ hand, stopping his progress on the tie.
“I love you, you know,” Erik murmurs, nudging the tip of his nose against Charles’. Charles visibly melts, a goofy grin stretching his lips.
“Ich liebe dich auch, Erik.”