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Machiavelli Online

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PART I: MACHIAVELLI ONLINE

  

“It is much better to tempt fortune where it can favor you than to see your certain ruin by not tempting it.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli, The Art of War

 

*

 

“They’re at it again,” Raven sighs.

His girlfriend sounds resigned, but more amused than irritated, Hank would say. In any case, her theatrical complaint definitely fits the fiery atmosphere racing through the cramped room. As Raven rolls her eyes and familiarly makes a pillow out of his furry shoulder, leaning against him, Hank redirects his gaze to the two men passionately debating in the center of the cafeteria.

“This isn’t the first time, then? That Charles and this… man —”

“His name is Erik Lehnsherr,” Raven provides, helpfully filling him in. It’s the first time Hank has come to their university — to spend the evening with her, yes, but he’s also very content to finally be able to see where she spends her evenings, and to see Charles, too. “He’s the leader of the second mutant rights club we have here, the Brotherhood. You know I’m a member of both their clubs, but I’m like, the ugly duckling of the herd; the associations are in direct competition to represent the mutants in the student union, and their political ideas differ greatly in the end, so Erik puts a bit of pressure on us to pick sides. Charles, well, you know him.”

“I think you’re a pretty duckling,” is all Hank remarks, distractedly at first as he watches the animated exchange a few yards away from them. These two campus celebrities seem to suck the entire air out of the room with their commanding intelligence. It’s quite mesmerizing… and distressing to watch. This Erik person seems rather intense, if the way he stares at Charles and barks his counter-arguments is anything to go by. Raven squeezes his arm affectionately.

“He isn’t harsh on you, is he?”

“Erik?” She inquires with a disbelieving chuckle. “Hardly. He bullies me just the right amount. I’m sort of his right hand, because my heart lies with the Brotherhood.”

Pride colors her words as she explains Hank that, while she loves Charles, her brother’s Club for Gifted Youngsters is hardly what she has in mind to fight for the future of their people. She still goes to the Club’s meetings, but Hank guesses it’s true that Charles would be heartbroken if Raven plainly abandoned him for Erik.

“I also think Erik enjoys stealing me from Charles, who is, like, his ultimate nemesis,” she admits. “I’ve seen him look downright smug in front of Charles because of it.”

It’s a bit twisted, Hank thinks, but Raven settles for saying that the mutant simply is “a fucking mystery”. She might be the one to see him the most here at uni, and yet she hardly knows anything about him.

Hank doesn’t know if this surprises him or not. He carefully appraises the tall, dark older man who is currently listening intently to Charles with a deep crease between his brow, and he wonders whether, at first, he didn’t think that this charismatic Erik Lehnsherr was as popular as their telepath friend. One hour into the meeting, and Hank understands why he isn’t.

“All I know,” she continues, “is that he’s enrolled in the last year of his degree and that he’s majoring in Engineering. I think he must have a job. You won’t see him in a library, but he has very good grades, just like Charles, so that doesn’t help setting them apart.”

At this moment, an irritated, resolute and hammering voice automatically snatches their attention to the center of the room. It is very dark outside; the harsh light of the empty lunch room, which is used as a locale for the group on Tuesdays, highlights the sharp features of the imposing leader before them.

“The end justifies the means, Charles!” He shouts to their friend, who is currently sitting in the first row with tranquil serenity.

Hank doesn’t know how the Professor manages not to shrink into a tiny telepathic ball every time this Erik Lehnsherr snarls at him, but his composure as well as his posture are impeccable; Charles is listening with polite interest, even looking genuinely curious, and he maintains a rather effeminate pose where he has his legs crossed and hands joined over his knees. This is, for Hank, what leaders are actually made of.

He’s sure, however, that Raven is more impressed by Erik.

“How do you plan on protecting us all when humans enforce their new law? Survival comes first. First they kept records of our powers, now they want to make them public for people’s safety? What will you do, Charles, when they come knocking at your door, looking for trouble and deciding that a shape-shifter like Raven is too dangerous to not be monitored by the government? Will you let them put a tracking device in your sister’s neck?”

Standing upright as soon as she hears her name, Raven complains, “Hey!”

“Do not bring Raven into this!” Charles rails against him, at last giving a hint of impulsive reaction.

Hank and Raven can’t spot the expression on Charles’ face from where they are both sitting, but they notice his spine straighten, his legs uncross, ready to stand, and Hank could be imagining things but he thinks he spots a sudden maniacal gleam in Lehnsherr’s eyes. He’s not even sure when the man started smiling with such a pleased and entertained expression. Oh, God, such a big, toothy, intimidating smile. Is this part of his mutation?

The sparkling tension is even thicker than it was a minute ago. A religious and yet somehow casual silence drapes the rest of the room, as if people expected things to go that way. Even if they’re separated by a yard or so and a small platform, Lehnsherr is positively leaning over Charles now, like a cat who spotted a vindictive mouse.

“This Machiavellian reasoning of yours will hurt our community if you put it into practice, my friend. Violence breeds violence. If you prove them right 

“Then they’ll respect us.”

“They’ll fear us.”

“Whatever works best. The end justifies the means, Charles. I don’t know if you’re blind or if you’re being arrogant on purpose … 

“Oh, for pity 

“Wow,” Hank exhales after a moment, blinking rapidly to tear himself from the fierce match taking place before them, “this goes way beyond the issues of a simple student union.”

“As student unions often do. We discuss the kind of society we want to live in, here,” Raven retorts, obviously used to all of this. Hank wonders if the other members of the club aren’t tired of listening to the ongoing argument, because ever since Charles spoke up over twenty minutes ago, no one dared mentioning again the tombola which was apparently the main topic on the agenda. “I’m very proud of our work.”

“Well, I hope Charles doesn’t come here often, otherwise I can’t see any work getting done… But since he’s the president of the opposite club, surely this is exceptional.”

Raven’s snort rumbles lightly against his arm. “Actually… This happens at least once a week. They crash each other’s meeting on a weekly basis. This is… a bit complicated.”

Just as Hank, curious, is about to ask what she means, a startlingly homogeneous group of four middle-aged women with ponytails timidly opens the back door of the cafeteria and announces the end of the festivities. He’s surprised to see how smoothly everything ends between Charles and Erik: the argument dies on their lips and Charles, after reminding the members of the Brotherhood that their own tombola will start on Thursday at 10, goes to thank the ladies personally for the kind delay they offered them. Erik, in the meantime, single-handedly tidies up the room with his hands and the use of his powers.

Without warning, Raven ushers a surprised Hank outside with the rest of the students, who remain nearby to chat and… mainly smoke with intellectual detachment. Do they know it’s a highly cancer-causing habit? He fidgets a bit as his girlfriend does the talking. College is the same everywhere, it seems.

If he’s honest, Hank is a bit preoccupied that Charles will be in a foul mood after the nasty argument he just had. The worry doesn’t last long, though; Charles soon appears, and — well, he’s smiling brightly and he comes their way as soon as he spots them.

A friendly pat on the shoulder, and then, “Hank, my friend, how are you? Did you enjoy yourself? Erik is the most interesting being, isn’t he? A shame he can’t stand me, really, we could’ve been good friends, I know it. The mere sight of me irks him to no end. Well, completely unlike the beautiful brunette just behind you, I must say,” he adds, with a devilish little smile he aims at a very young student farther away. “I felt her quite obscene thoughts about me starting an hour ago, so if you don’t mind… I’m going to let you two to your dinner and we’ll catch up later, alright?”

Stunned into silence by Charles’ burst of energy, Hank only has the time to see him kiss his sister’s cheek lovingly before he strides off to the young woman with a dashing smile and a hand briefly running in his hair, cooing, “Hello there, pleased to meet you… I’m Charles Xavier. Are you a student here? I admit, I’ve never seen a…”

The rest of the obviously cheesy pick-up line is lost to the sound of other conversations — Hank has had many occasions in his life to see the Professor flirting… too many occasions — but Raven’s fond sigh provides more explanation to the strange scene that just happened.

“He’s always like this when he gets out of here,” she says, beautiful as always in her exasperated love of her elder adoptive brother. “Arguing seems to… invigorate him, don’t you think? Stupid Charles, I can’t tell how many times he’s found company right after these meetings. These girls must love his brain too.”

“As long as he is happy and he doesn’t hurt anyone…” Hank trails, sensing the slight sadness that draped over her as she uttered the last sentence, overshadowing her amber eyes.

But a pained smile immediately ornaments her lips, to his regret. “I don’t know about that, Hank. I really don’t know if he’s happy.”

Behind them, a sharp noise suddenly interrupts the thoughtful silence as the heavy door bang close and the last remaining person in the locale exits the now dark canteen. With precise, angry eyes on his stern face — which, Hank suspects, is in fact his natural expression — Erik Lehnsherr overlooks the students briefly and then starts walking away without a word.

“Erik!” Raven calls.

Hank isn’t nervous when the mutant snaps his head to them and decides to approach them slowly; he’s not completely at ease either.

“Raven. I’ll need you to prepare the flyer for the gala in a few weeks. Can you get it done by Monday?”

“Of course.” When Erik nods, something curt and soldier-like, she gestures to Hank and starts, “Erik, this is…”

“Hank McCoy,” Lehnsherr cuts in, unhurriedly gliding appraising blue eyes to the mutant as he extends his hand to shake Hank’s. “I’ve heard about you from Raven. Your mutation makes you hard to miss.”

“From Erik, this is a compliment,” Raven reassures him, nudging him in the arm with her shoulder.

“Oh. Oh, alright. Thanks, I guess?”

“You’re not from the campus, are you? You can still join the Brotherhood, if you’d like. You won’t be able to vote, but you’ll take part in the meetings and our actions.”

Oh, no, this is an uncomfortable situation. Hank chuckles a bit, and answers truthfully, “Thanks, but I’m… I don’t have a lot of free time and… well, my way of thinking would rather lead me to Charles. N—No offense,” he stammers when Lehnsherr’s attention zooms in on him, and then, dismissively, discreetly, in a glance, to a point behind them, where most students are gathered.

They just have time to hear a small but disturbingly loud group of female students giggling and a familiar voice teasing, “Well, ladies, my telepathy has its limits. I can order food for all of you without you needing to tell me what you want, but I can only focus my attention on one of you at a time. Shall we, Alicia? I’m just kidding, darling, I promise you I’m a fine gentleman.” and the outraged and laughing, “He’s lying! ” before Erik averts his gaze and takes a step back.

“None taken,” he placates. “See you on Thursday morning, Raven.”

When he turns around swiftly and leaves without another word despite Hank’s fumbling goodbye, the two remaining mutants are left to watch him appear and disappear in turn under the glare of the street lights lining the sidewalk.

Hank can’t exactly decide what impression the man left on him, but he’s certain Raven doesn’t quite put the finger on it when she says, “He’s your typical enigmatic senior student, right? Trying to get him to open up to me about something else than work is an everyday job, it’s exhausting. Let’s go, Hank. I’m starving. Ugh, no, not this way, I don’t want to come across Charles’ date. Indian?”

“Yes, it’s perfect, if that’s what you want,” he answers (as always).

On their way to the exit, they pass by Charles, who is too engrossed in his discussion to do more than wave at them with an enthusiastic smile.

Enjoy your evening, he still sends them telepathically, and take good care of my sister, Hank, will you?

“Poor girl,” Raven sighs a few seconds later, but once again she seems more amused than annoyed, and she smiles to a startled Hank as she explains, “Oh no, Charles is fine. But I bet you twenty bucks that, by the end of the month, Erik will have gone after her to put her in his bed. She won’t say no, either.”

What? But— “Why?” He asks, quite shocked.

“Because he’s a hot piece of ass, even if he’s a complete jerk.”

“No, I mean, why would he do that?”

She shrugs and comes closer to him, draping his own arm around her shoulders. The warm comfort of her touch spreads to his limbs, but still, he is distracted. “I noticed the pattern some time ago. For the same reason he takes a sick pleasure in estranging me from Charles, I suppose. He’s quite competitive.”

The uneasy feeling that has toyed with Hank’s insides for the last few minutes worsens. Drops. For some reason, Hank ends up looking over his shoulder, where Charles finally left with the woman in the opposite direction Erik took just a moment ago.

Completely opposite… and yet,

strangely enough,

in the end…

 

*

 

Despite a common lack of commitment from its students, the university could at least pride itself on its lively, dynamic associative life when it came to mutant rights. Two clubs shared the spotlight, even if the more recent Brotherhood tended to lead to more extensive human press coverage due to its aggressiveness and their strong message that mutants were superior to humans. They were fewer in number than the university’s older mutant club, but they were fierce, loud, and passionate— the most passionate of all being their leader, whom the members followed like one would a prophet; blindly, and with fervent faith. Erik Lehnsherr. (Some people, like Charles Xavier, mourned that neither the press nor his detractors put more emphasis on the many interesting political ideas the mutants nonetheless had).

The second mutant association was Charles Xavier’s renowned and yet unobtrusive Club for Gifted Youngsters. Unlike the former, everyone was welcome to join their debates — mutants and humans — and their action was more of the reflexive nature. They aimed to raise awareness about mutant equality among society, and always preached for peace, mediation, and dialogue. Something which frustrated Erik to no end — so much time wasted.

And even though everyone seemed to love and respect the brilliant, compassionate and devoted Charles, members of the Gifted Youngsters would sooner refer to him as their president or their guide rather than as their leader. For the club’s organization definitely was more collegial and democratic, and Charles merely wanted to act as their representative. The idea in itself was good, but Erik found them weak, weak, weak.

Some days he just wants to shake Charles Xavier by the shoulders.

Precious Charles, who has everything to be successful.

Darling Charles, the current head of the student union, the most brilliant PhD student in Genetics the university has seen in decades, his class rep for the fifth year in a row, every teacher’s wet dream, winner of many school “awards” and prizes including Most influential student of the yearMost inspiring speech of the year and the infuriating and informal Best-looking gentleman of the year from the cheerleading club, which Charles accepted with raised eyebrows and a chuckle.

Beloved Charles! Who dedicated so much of his time to volunteering God knows where to earn God knows what more, what arrogance!

Treasured Charles, the heart-throb, the shameless flirt with the easy, coquettish smile as red as blood, with astounding blue eyes that make the sky pale in modesty. Stupid Charles, with his perfect haircut and chestnut waxed locks, always down to get laid, the bastard, always so clever and vindictive with him and so seductive as soon as something with breasts is pretty.

Charles loves women, and as time goes by, Erik finds it more and more unfair.

It all happened really quickly, but Erik didn’t realize what was going on until much later, until it was too late.

When, the year before, he enrolled in the university to finally get his degree, Erik immediately went to the first reunion of Xavier’s club… And decided to set up his own mutant association thereafter. Charles bore him no ill feelings, even when Erik came again to recruit members straight from his pool of mutants. But soon after that, of course they were competing against each other for the right to represent mutants inside the school. The ideals behind their banners differed too much for anything else.

In the university, they are known as the two main mutant figures, the opposing nemeses, the antithesis. And yet, few know, even if it's by no mean a secret, that Erik lets Charles come to every single meeting of the Brotherhood he's available, although it means constant interruptions and curious inquiring. Everybody knows in Xavier’s Club that Charles keeps a vacant seat in the room for Erik, who more often than not pops by to listen to the youngest and criticize some points, as if all of it happened by accident.

“How many slices must I cut the cake into, Professor?” Jubilee once asked — the nickname had spread like wildfire. “Ten?”

“Make it twelve, in case Erik—”

“Erik is not going to eat our cake, too!” Sean complained. “He—”

“Thank you, Charles,” a deep voice suddenly interrupted as Erik appeared from nowhere to take a slice. From the look on Charles’ face, Erik guessed the mutant knew he didn’t care much for carbs, but that making a point in the pettiest way possible to annoy undergraduates was his reason to get up in the morning.

“Erik,” Charles said, grinning, with soft, soft blue eyes, “you came.”

Of course he did. How could he not, when it sounded like the only time Charles was pleased with him was when he did? The end justifies the means. “Erik, you came,” he would always say, surprised, happy, as if it was the best news he had heard all day.

Charles had this infuriating way of making you feel like the center of his universe, only to leave you bleeding with a diffuse rage when you remembered he acted this way with everybody.

Everybody.

Erik knows he isn’t special to Charles — he’s seen the telepath surrounded with women many times as Erik himself stood nearby like an awkward lone wolf. They’re not especially friends, they don’t go out, they certainly do not exchange coy smiles under the dim light of the library at night when no one is around. But Erik can make Charles’ blood boil, he can make him angry, he can create the frustrated irritation on his traits in a few chosen words, or any emotion he likes, and he can make him argue for hours, which he feels in his bones Charles loves.

The end justifies the means.

It took Erik months to realize that he also had a crush on the uni’s genius mascot. Then the crush took roots in him as he kept briefly seeing Charles twice a week or so for their associative duties. Erik, however, is nothing is practical; once the acknowledgment was made, he didn’t let the unexpected infatuation distract him. He already works tirelessly with two part-time jobs to pay for his studies, in which he must succeed, and he takes care of the Brotherhood and all it entails.

So, he knows he has a crush on Charles. He distantly realizes it is getting worse as time goes by, but he is doing his best to not let it get in the way of anything.

At least until Charles will decide he’d rather like trying cocks. Then — probably — Erik will decimate his contenders with his teeth and claim that pert ass for himself.

Verdammt, he swears, sighing through his nose as he opens the door of this apartment, it really gets worse every time he leaves with a new woman.

Rolling the accumulated tension out of his shoulders, Erik reheats the rest of his dinner from the day before, eats it without appetite even though it’s been a very long day and he hasn’t eaten anything since lunch, and gets into the shower as the microwave displays the late hour. By the time he’s done, he realizes with another exasperated sigh that he won’t get away from it tonight — Charles is too much in his head, intoxicating, infuriating — and he heads straight for bed naked and wet, eager to jerk himself off.

This has happened many times before, obviously. What started as a tentative fantasy the first time quickly became a habit, and now Charles features heavily in his thoughts when he wanks, if he's not the sole protagonist. By now, Erik’s taken the oblivious telepath in every position possible, in every place Erik can imagine, and he knows with angry satisfaction that tonight he will start by imagining Charles with that damned petite girl he was hitting on earlier. This is the lowest kind of vengeance.

But Charles being sucked… The poisonous thought arouses him even as it hurts. Desire spreads like venom every time he pictures Charles with them, and God forgive him, if he can’t have Charles himself, Erik will have them all one by one. He loves fucking them after he has, he loves imagining what he felt and what he saw, what he did to them, and if he could, oh, he’d make those women tell him all about Charles, how he is in bed, how many times they did it, if he is that gentleman he claims to be or rather the selfish hunter chasing after his own pleasure and completion. Then, as Erik's breath quickens, the fantasy usually shifts to Charles moaning to Erik’s punitive thrusts inside him. The filthier the thought, the quicker Erik comes.

The end justifies the means.

“Damn you, Charles,” he swears under his breath as he hits the mattress on his back that night, legs spread. He realizes he is already hard.

Rather than touching himself immediately, Erik covers his eyes with his arms, purposefully ignoring the demanding cock throbbing against his navel. The thought that he will probably graduate and never see Charles again without at least devouring his distracting lips should have softened his dick in disappointment, but Erik is used to the yearning and, what’s more, he’s growing rather desperate.

Once again, his mind skims through the palliative opportunities that have been obsessing him for the last few weeks.

What he would do to get a clear picture of Charles naked goes beyond reason. Jerking off to a pic of Charles hard, or a pic of his ass, or just his torso, is so tantalizing a thought that the warmth of arousal and anguish suddenly pools in Erik’s lower abdomen, worse than ever. That could be achieved. Somehow. Erik has already thought of stealing pics out of his one-night stands’ phone, but he never had the opportunity yet, and he figures that being exposed as a thief would raise uncomfortable questions at uni. He also considered straight out asking the girls, as he wildly considers asking them about Charles when he fucks them, but even with the more open-minded ones, the risk that they will gossip or tell Charles is too great. No, he needs something else.

The end justifies the means.

He knows, he knows what he wants to do. The idea has been tempting for various reasons, but he’s suddenly very tired of being a lovesick loser, of watching with a impassive face as literally everyone gets what he can’t have, and

The end justifies the means.

So Erik grabs his laptop and lazily wraps a hand around his cock while reluctantly typing “Facebook” with a private browser and a sour twist of his lips.

 

*

 

Even though Emma Frost has quite seen everything there is to see about sex and learnt everything there is to learn about men, she is mildly surprised that night when she receives a text from Erik asking her for nudes. She has already selected ten of her favorites before she pauses, opens the messaging app and sends:

[11:43 pm, sent to: Erik L.] 
What do I gain from it?

Surprisingly, Erik replies straight away — but all men do, when they expect an erotic picture of the prey.

[11:43 pm, from: Erik L.] 
What do you want?

[11:44 pm, from: Erik L.] 
You don’t have Facebook, do you?

The last text is… puzzling. Hopefully he isn’t trying to befriend her. But Emma decides she does not care, and wonders what she could ask Erik. Oh, she could have required sex just to annoy him, she was sure he would go through with it. Unfortunately, she’s quite certain that neither of them would want that, even if Erik might be about to touch himself on pictures of her, so she brings her businesslike self forward and types,

[11:46 pm, sent to: Erik L.] 
Overtime. You’ll help me with the event we are to organize at that university of yours. 
And no, I don’t have Facebook. Not under my real name, and not for my employees.

[11:47 pm, from: Erik. L]
Done. Send a casual picture of you too.

Slightly intrigued by Erik's fetishes, Emma chooses one of the least racy, yet still sexy, pictures of her and sends it along.

Still he insists:

[11:49 pm, from: Erik L.] 
CASUAL.

She rolls her eyes. Oh, fine, if he wants her to look like a chaste nun as he jerks off, that’s his problem. With a last unenthusiastic glance at that rare picture of her without make-up or brushing, she adds:

[11:52 pm, to: Erik L.] 
Might I know what you’re going to do with these? 
Now I suspect this isn’t for you.

[11:52 pm, from: Erik L.]
It’s not.

[11:53 pm, to: Erik L.] 
Are you trying to sell me to someone? Darling, I didn’t know you were into threesomes. 
That’s a no, though, thank you.

[11:58 pm, from: Erik L.]
Glad we’re both on the same page.

She grins, amused. Oh, this misanthropic nitwit truly is in the top three of her favorite employees. Not that she owns more than two, though. Deciding she’s had quite enough of him for the week to come, Emma switches off her phone and, as she gratefully lays down against her soft, silk pillow, she briefly wonders what that man may be up to.

 

*

 

Erik Lehnsherr has no trust for the government. This sentence could be embroidered on his bed sheet, or printed in flashing colors above the Brotherhood’s main locale so much it radiates out of his every word and leaks from the pores of his skin.

People quickly learns that Lehnsherr is the kind of hardcore committed student who lives by the principles he believes in — there are always quite a few, we all know that vegan, communist or mutant student, sometimes all rolled in one. It isn’t a surprise then, that Erik has nothing but scorn for any device designed to track his activities, his thoughts, and the people he associates with. He doesn’t even own a smartphone. His mobile is the same model that drug dealers and prostitutes own. If he could, he would straight-out set the entire web on fire, but it has its uses.

Such as tracking Charles Xavier’s private life.

Now that he has a decent picture to put on the website, he warily registers on Facebook under the name of “Emma Maximoff” without missing a beat and checks “female” when they inquire about his gender.

Two reasons exist regarding that choice: for one, Erik does not want to register on Facebook under his real name for obvious reasons, and two… Registering as “Erik Lehnsherr, man, leader of the Brotherhood” will get him nowhere with Charles. Besides, he’s not sure Charles would even accept him, and, if he didn’t, Erik would remain without a single person he’d care to add on Facebook, which would make his profile rather pathetic.

No, he needs a woman for the job.

With quick eyes skimming across the screen, Erik spends a good thirty minutes to understand how the website works. His first instinct is to make sure his prize has an account and — yes, he does, of course he does. Charlesbathes in his own popularity.

Erik sees his profile picture and his cock twitches in sheer envy.

Charles seems to share a lot of academic articles about mutant and human rights in “public” mode, but there isn’t another picture of him anywhere. He also has more than a thousand friends, and twice as many “subscribers”, whatever this is. Through quick research, Erik learns what he doesn’t understand and, after brief hesitation, decides to type “How to create a fake Facebook profile” in his search bar.

He ends up on WikiHow (which advises him to next read articles like “How to Act Like you Have a Boyfriend” and “How to Avoid Being an Obsessive Girlfriend”, which Erik finds totally unrelated) and understands that he will have to add friends first if he wants to be convincing. Less than ten minutes later, thanks to Emma’s charm, he already has 40 male friends from their university, but also a warning from Facebook. Erik frowns.

This is perhaps the third time he’s been on Charles’ profile by now. As he hungrily absorbs everything he didn’t know about him, Erik lazily strokes himself with a hand, glancing at the tantalizing profile pic once in awhile. God, he needs more. He could stare at this devious little smile on his posh face and come in less than a few minutes if he tried but, as his needs are becoming more pressing, more urgent, Erik decides to tempt fate and hit the friend request button.

He waits, religiously. But nothing happens.

With an irritated sigh and a glance at his alarm clock, he realizes Charles must be sleeping. How unhelpful. To make sure he gets his attention however, Erik "waves" at him — a meaningless feature which he didn’t manage to grasp the use of — and, since he can’t contact him until Charles accepts him as a friend, he starts looking for the Brotherhood and the Gifted Youngsters’ pages. If he’s doing this, he might as well take the opportunity to spy on his concurrent for the upcoming student elections.

He finds out Raven is the admin of both the clubs’ private groups, which he doesn’t like at all, and just as he asks to be accepted in them, a new notification appears on the top right corner of his laptop screen.

Adrenaline rushes through his body when he realizes Charles sent him a private message.

Cautious, Erik hurriedly opens it and reads:

[Charles F. Xavier, 1:23 am] Hey there… :) Do we happen to know each other?

Erik immediately starts typing an answer, but then — stops himself, and thinks it through. The fact that Charles didn’t accept him right away doesn’t fit into his plans. He could be honest, and tell him that he — that Emma Maximoff — doesn’t know him, but he would risk being rejected. Erik also can’t afford to write as himself, because Charles must never learn it’s him (they have each other’s personal numbers to text about associative duties, so Charles does know how he writes) but also because Erik must chat as a girl flirting with Charles. And God knows the telepath loves to be complimented and probably prides himself in bringing happiness to poor lonely women. Good knight Charles Xavier. Savior of the mutantkind and protector of elated virgins.

In the end, thinking back on what he heard from Raven the other day, he carefully sends:

[Emma Maximoff, 1:30 am] Hey… :) :) Actually we do!! I saw you at that party last week…

[Emma Maximoff, 1:30 am] It was late… we were both pretty drunk… but I thought you were very clever and quite charming…

With a blank face, Erik rereads what he wrote, and adds:

[Emma Maximoff, 1:31 am] hihihi

There, that should do it. As he falls back against the pillows, a vague satisfaction slightly turns the corner of his lips upward. This isn’t as hard as he thought it would be. However, these simple text made it obvious that he has no clue how to impersonate a girl besides the inclusion of irritating smileys and “mysterious” ellipses. The double exclamation points almost made him blind just now, but he’ll have to go along with it if he wants those dick pics.

Five minutes pass, ten, and then twenty, but still Charles doesn’t open their conversation. The frustration rises again. In a last attempt to get his attention, Erik sends another message about "Emma’s" wish to know him better, but whatever Charles is doing — and Erik ignores the painful squeeze in his chest at the thought that Charles could be doing the brunette right now — he’s not on Facebook.

With a numb heart and an indignant hand, Erik gets back to the ungodly profile picture of a smiling Charles surrounded with his friends, and strokes himself to an empty orgasm that night.

 

*

 

The practicalities of life reassert themselves the day after that. Waking up at six to go to his first part-time job as a plumber, Erik works until midday and then heads for the university for his first course. He would be lying if he said that he didn’t think of what he started the night before — he doesn’t regret it, not now that it’s done, not yet, he knows it’s still time to never log in the damned website ever again if it proves too dangerous a plan of action — but it all appears particularly foolish once the night stops shadowing reason. This is ridiculous. However, “a battle that you win cancels any other bad action of yours”, as Machiavelli said. And the end, after all, justifies the means.

There is no easier way to get a taste of Charles.

On his way to his Mechanical Engineering class, Erik comes across a pitiful stand of Xavier’s Club. Sitting on a chair by herself behind a table full of cakes and biscuits, the loyal Jean Grey looks like the perfect, virtuous minion of Charles that she is.

Repressing a sigh, Erik makes sure the corridor is almost empty before he gets closer.

“Hello, Erik,” she greets, even before looking up from her book. For some reason, he is always on the defensive with telepaths — a bit less with Charles, although that might change now that he has a bigger secret to protect. “Are you hungry? Do you want to buy something?”

“What are you raising funds for?” He inquires instead. If this is for the student union elections, there is no way Erik is going to give them his money.

“Charles’ charity. You know, the child refuge he works in on week-ends. We’re aiming to develop the Club to organize cultural events for kids, such as mutant-human sport events and group painting, but he can’t use his personal money in the name of the Gifted Youngsters.”

Erik actually didn’t know what kind of association Charles worked in outside of the university, and he’s simultaneously surprised and thinking, “of course he would help children”.

Taking out of his pocket the ten dollar bills meant for his lunch, he remarks, “That doesn’t seem to attract people.”

“Oh, this is my fault. I chose the wrong time to do that, everyone is eating outside at the football team's barbecue right now. You know how popular they are. Thank you, how much do you want?”

“Keep the ten dollars,” he mumbles, and starts looking at the cakes before him. Most of them are half eaten, colorful and tasty-looking, except for one large brownie which looks burnt and a slightly forlorn. Obviously people didn’t love that one.

“Which ones do you want? I’d recommend Rogue’s apple pie, or her strawberry charlotte. Well, they are all very good… save for Charles’ brownie, if you listen to people. Apparently he was in quite a hurry when he prepared it this morning. Poor Professor, he looked very sorry about it.”

“I’ll take the brownie,” Erik answers.

“Oh?” A pause. “What else? You can have up to five slices with ten dollars.”

“Five slices of brownies, then,” he says, unblinking and stoic when Jean throws him a look. Seeing as so few people seem to have eaten of the cake, at any rate five slices is the bare minimum if Erik wants to make it look a bit less pathetic.

Erik is aware the choice doesn’t escape the psychic’s notice, but she doesn’t voice her thoughts and indeed hands him his five miserable pieces of brownies in a paper napkin. Erik isn't sure why he doesn't just leave the brownies to rot, and let Charles feel guilty for fucking all night instead of baking for orphans and abused children, but Erik tries not to think about it at all and starts walking away.

Before he does, Jean smiles up at him. “Thank you. The Professor is right, you’re a good man, Erik. I won’t tell anyone, don’t worry, they’ll all keep thinking you’re an insensitive jerk.”

“Which I am,” he sneers as he swallows the first bite of the dry, crunchy thing filled with sugar they dare call a brownie. It’s horrible. “I truly hope Charles will cook again to raise funds for his campaign, that would guarantee me an easy victory.”

Erik will, however, eat them one by one in class, closing his eyes shut and allowing his mind to drift away for a few moments.

 

*

 

“Mr Lehnsherr? Do you have the answer to the question? Or are you only here to enjoy the air conditioning and your little cake?”

A half-smile spreads across Erik’s lips as he opens his eyes with deliberate slowness under the muffled cackles of his fellow classmates. He was indeed distracted just now, but the teacher should know better than to challenge him. Which she does, she’s only teasing him.

“As a matter of fact, I do," he announces quite gallantly once he swallowed his mouthful of monstrosity. “The foundations of electrical engineering in the 1800s included the experiments of Alessandro Volta and Michael Faraday, but also the invention of the electric motor in 1872.”

“Don’t slack off, Mr Lehnsherr,” is her only warning as she smiles, pleased, “one day I’ll take you by surprise.”

Several whistles answer the provocation, and with a sharp glance Erik appraises her to assess whether she might be hitting on him. His attention is abruptly brought back to his laptop when he spots the notification of a new email from Facebook.

Charles.

With a stilled heart sending sparkles through his entire chest, Erik clicks on it and lowers his computer screen to hide it from the people nearby. His heart is beating so fast, suddenly.

The email is entitled “Charles F. Xavier has accepted your friend request”.

Excited, nervous, Erik clicks on the link, reduces the window for more privacy, and logs in to Emma Maximoff’s account. Indeed, Charles accepted. And he has a new private message from him. Maybe he should wait. What could Charles have replied to such a blatant attempt at flirting, though? Glancing one last time at the oblivious teacher, Erik opens Messenger, almost frantic — he’ll answer it tonight, he just needs to know.

[Charles F. Xavier, 2:23 pm] Oh, then, I’m really sorry I didn’t recognize you. I’m afraid I had a lot to drink, as you said. It’s nice meeting you, Emma :)

That was the first out of two messages. Well, Charles? Aren’t you flirting back? Isn’t Emma to your taste? Somewhere in the corner of his mind, Erik can hear Emma scoff and reply, “Honey, I’m to everyone’s taste. Give my endless legs a little credit.” So he hurriedly reads the second message, which was sent a few minutes later.

[Charles F. Xavier, 2:28 pm] Your account is very much recent, though… New to Facebook…?

Damn it. He noticed. Inhaling deeply as he sits up straight in his chair to feign concentration on the class, Erik closes the window of the browser and wonders what exactly he will write tonight. One thing is certain, though; he's going to pull out all the stops to get that damn picture.

The way to win a war is always forward. Get ready, Charles. We’re going to face each other on a very different battlefield, my friend.

 

*

 

The end of the day can’t come soon enough. For once, Erik can’t wait to get home. However, once he does, he first goes to the kitchen table in order to write his essay, knowing that Charles won’t be available to chat until nine, since he is currently attending a meeting with the university board as their student rep. Erik manages to write a detailed plan and part of the introduction when suddenly, his prey logs in.

Erik stands up, catches his laptop and hits “send” as he marches to his bedroom, meaning to get comfortable for this delightful battle. To his pleasure, Charles opens the conversation instantly — but doesn’t reply.

Erik smirks.

The selfie of a very sensual Emma clad in a white corset with ribbons and an equally white silk kimono smiles back at him.

[Emma Maximoff, 9:32 pm] Still can’t remember me? ;) :-*

“Come on, Charles,” Erik purrs dangerously, waiting for the answer, “you know you want to.”

When the three little dots meaning Charles is typing something appears, Erik’s smile widens and an impatient gleam lights his blue eyes. Oh, he could get hard just from the anticipation.

Finally, the text appears… and the smile falls to be replaced by a deep crease between his brows.

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:34 pm] This is… unexpected. I am sorry to say I don’t remember you, it is obviously my loss, but you didn’t answer my question about you just joining Facebook recently…?

“What are you playing at, Charles?” Erik murmurs, surprised that he wouldn’t jump on the occasion to enjoy such a gift. Maybe Erik is too forward. He forgot he has to play the willing little victim ready to be picked by the magnanimous Charles. Let’s correct it.

[Emma Maximoff, 9:34 pm] Oh, sorry!! I forgot, I got a little carried away… yes, I joined yesterday… my friends convinced me, I didn’t want to… hihihi So I took the opportunity to add you… I hope you don’t mind…

[Emma Maximoff, 9:35 pm] Sorry if I was too forward, I thought you’d like it :( :(

If this little charade lasts more than a few days, Erik will have to pluck his own eyes out. These texts are so cringe-worthy his teeth are currently grinding in distaste. But Charles writes him back immediately, so maybe it is worth it.

[Charles Xavier, 9:35 pm] I don’t mind. My apologies, I’m a bit distrustful by nature

Distrustful? Charles? How would this naive, confident, over-trusting humanist ever consider himself distrustful?Something about the way Charles speaks doesn’t appeal to Erik. The telepath doesn’t sound like himself. Could Charles be tired? Did something happen? Letting emotions get the better of him, Erik asks first:

[Emma Maximoff, 9:35 pm] Charles, are you okay?

[Emma Maximoff, 9:35 pm] Can I do something for you? Why don’t you show me what you got, big boy? ;) I would help you feel better!!

(Because he still needs those pics.)

[Charles Xavier, 9:36 pm] I am a little tired, but nothing a nice cup of tea can’t fix, thank you for asking. Might I ask what you are majoring in? You don’t talk about it in your profile.

Why all the questions, Charles? he wonders.Does that matter to you? 

The telepath is acting weird, and Erik keeps pondering if perhaps he saw through Erik’s game or if he simply doesn’t trust him. Erik has to think it through and pick a department he knows Charles won’t have easy access to.

[Emma Maximoff, 9:37 pm] Foreign languages. My major is in German.

[Charles Xavier, 9:37 pm] German? Oh, that’s lovely. Tell me something in German?

Ah, bingo. Sorry, Charles, you won’t call me out on this one. Erik is very glad he used his mother tongue as an excuse. He starts flirting with him in German, chuckles when the telepath admits he used Google translate to know what this is about — and ended up with mixed results — and, surprisingly, although Erik’s precise plan was to get the pictures as quickly as possible and vanish like the bastard school gossip say he is, they soon start to chat comfortably. They discuss their respective travels, but also European philosophy and diplomacy in the Middle East. One subject leads to another, and another, and another.

This is, to his unwarranted surprise, a very enjoyable way to spend an evening.

Admittedly, there is a very fine line between being honest and being truthful. Erik can’t sound too much like himself, but, somehow he doesn’t want to lie to Charles about his opinions. He avoids politics as best as he can, but tells Charles that he is — that Emma is a mutant, albeit a weak one. Before he realizes it, two full hours have passed and Erik is stunned when he hears Charles excuse himself to go work on an oral presentation.

This… wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Erik wasn’t supposed to waste two hours faking a conversation without getting what he came here for.

[Charles Xavier, 11:54 pm] This has been a very enjoyable conversation, thank you, Emma. I have to prepare an oral task for tomorrow, so I’m going to sign off now. I’m sorry I didn’t trust you earlier.

[Charles Xavier, 11:55 pm] I just… have to make sure every time.

[Charles Xavier, 11:56 pm] Anyway, now that I know that you are an intelligent, beautiful woman with good intentions… I feel bad for not answering to your lovely picture. Do you still want me to return the favour?

As soon as he reads the second message, Erik frowns thoughtfully, but the last one is enough to make him forget about everything for now, and a predatory smile slowly spreads across his face. Yes. Yes. That’s it. It worked. Erik’s fingers fly over the keyboard as he types his response.

[Emma Maximoff, 11:56 pm] I’d love to <3 That would be… very gentleman of you ;) ;)

[Charles Xavier, 11:56 pm] I try to be. So… I don’t know, I’ve rarely ever done this. What do you want to see?

There are a few very specific things Erik wants to see, but he can’t manage to provide an heterosexual explanation for “You on your knees, legs spread, head in the pillow and your ass red from your own spanking”. The thought is enough to start filling his cock with blood. Weird that Charles Xavier isn’t an expert on sexting, however.

Erik thinks it over, and settles for an evasive answer that usually befits women more (except the real Emma).

[Emma Maximoff, 11: 57 pm] Whatever you want to show me… ;) I just want to see you. I’ll take everything, don’t worry

[Charles Xavier, 11:57 pm] Alright, I’ll do my best.

[Charles Xavier, 11:58 pm] There, I hope it’s enough :) I’ve got to go, thanks again for the lovely chat.

He logs off. It’s a blessing Erik doesn’t have to answer.

In less than ten seconds, he is achingly hard and gaping as he jerks off hurriedly with the laptop on his clenched stomach. Gott.

He can’t even throw his head back, he needs to keep looking at the picture Charles just sent him. A painful, urging want races through his limbs to his torso to gather in his painfully erect cock, sending back hot waves of pleasure in his legs and toes as he watches the photo. It is far from being half as obscene as anything Erik wanted to see, but as soon as he realized it was Charles... Erik muffles a moan, and wanks faster, even angrily, opening his mouth and then gritting his teeth. Gott.

The picture doesn’t show the incredible face apart from its lopsided smile. A hint of teeth, plush colorful lips stretched in a nasty invitation as the picture gradually reveals the pale, sturdy column of his throat, the Adam’s apple, and then lower, the proud collarbones and slightly muscular shoulders. Erik could bite those.

Lower still, the ultimate sin, his torso takes up most of the picture, from the surprisingly defined pectorals — and the perfect, perfect pink nipples Erik wants to suck on eagerly until the telepath cries out and begs him to be gentle — to the slight line running along his stomach until the waistband of red boxer briefs, where a few strands of dark, masculine hair run to his navel, even if Charles remains otherwise completely hairless. A fallen angel. His angelic demon.

All in all, it’s a pretty innocent pic, save for the teasing thumb lowering his boxers to expose a delicious hipbone, and Erik can see Charles is indeed new at those sexy selfies, but —

Gott, he wants to kiss and run his tongue across that chest, that throat, those lips so bad. Erik would make him groan, he would make him scream, he would make Charles say his name as he fucked him and kissed him senseless to the mattress. Gott, they’d be so good together. Fuck you, Charles. Fuck you for loving women. For God’s sake, this shrewd smile, Erik could feed him his— He’s going to come. Hardly a minute and he’s going to co—

With a silent cry, Erik climaxes, almost closing his eyes, jaw slack, but still he looks at the picture through heavy eyelids, and his stomach clenchesclenches, and he comes long and hard until there is nothing left of him save for all those intense feelings that didn’t dissolve and bruised instead. Too much. Expanding. Heavy.

They remain, stifling, in his chest.

His head hits the pillow soundly with a groan. As he distractedly gazes at the ceiling, panting, letting the laptop slide to his side onto the mattress, Erik finally realizes his crucial mistake: feeding a bone to a starving man would never cause him to get rid of the hunger. It would only awaken his survival instincts, his greed. The yearning. The Lust.

Erik isn’t going to stop speaking to Charles. Not right now. Not until he gets everything he can have from the charade, not now that he finally has more, like all these undeserving… pretty dolls he chooses. Erik doesn’t care if Charles thinks it’s someone else, if, at the end of the day, he doesn’t have anything at all.

The end justifies the means.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

"A battle that you win cancels any other bad action of yours. In the same way, by losing one, all the good things worked by you before become vain."
— Niccolò Machiavelli, The Art of War

 

*

 

“Today we will study the prologue of Machiavelli’s Socratic dialogue The Art of War. Let me read you what he said about the purpose of this book.”

Several days passed since Erik first talked to Charles as Emma. While he swore at first not to get too involved in the ploy, he and Charles spent more and more of their time flirting, and most of all, talking. Talking, talking, at all hours. Whenever he receives a notification, Erik feels compelled to answer it. He tries not to, tries to delay the urge. It’s stronger than him, the contentment and the excitement that fill his body like morphine is too addictive.

“The purpose of this book is… 'To honor and reward virtù,' Machiavelli wrote, 'not to have contempt for poverty, to esteem the modes and orders of military discipline, to constrain citizens to love one another, to live without factions, to esteem less the private than the public good.' To constrain citizens to love one another, and to esteem less the private than the public goods are my personal favorites. Remember them, we’ll comment on them later.”

The goal of all this was to get over his stupid, doomed crush for the popular Charles Xavier.

He has learnt so much about Charles these last few days. The week before, Erik still thought the telepath was smugly taking advantage of his own celebrity because he was well aware that, wherever he went, people worshiped him.

Yes, Charles is a slightly vain man. But that is partly because he needs to please people — and partly because he is arrogant. Erik tells him enough that he is.

Yes, Charles brings women to his bed one after the other, but only because his chase for the thing he is looking after, whatever it is, never ends. He’s infinitely more modest than Erik gave him credit for. He’s so modest, in some ways, that he’s infuriating.

“Machiavelli is the perfect example of consequentialism, which holds that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct. In other words, if an immoral act leads to a good outcome, then the method used to achieve the goal was acceptable.”

Does Charles realize it? He didn’t tell Emma Maximoff directly, but Erik guessed. It started when Charles showed him how suspicious he was with strangers. “I just… have to make sure every time.” He wrote. Something about it still bothers Erik.

Erik can only guess, he doesn’t know. And as he stares at Charles right now, trying to picture his insecurities, he has to repress the many questions in his mind, he has to suppress from the forefront of his mind the dozen of naughty pictures they shared. To everyone here, he is Erik Lehnsherr. The damn sworn enemy with the opposite ideals. They are fools, the lot of them.

The goal of all this was to get rid of his crush for Charles Xavier.

“Erik,” he says with a slow, blooming smile as soon as he spots him leaning against the door, “you came.”

What a gargantuan failure.

He’s as much a slave as the rest of them. The metal of his chains is growing rougher every day.

Don’t you know it’s me, Charles? Can’t you tell? How unforgivably I abuse your trust?

Of course I came, he wants to answer Charles; “I can’t stay,” he declares instead, under the disbelieving glare of the empty seat he knows the telepath kept for him.

Every attending member is turned to look at him with curiosity, but Erik is used to the attention. He only ever looks out for Jean Grey’s perceptive mutation. Telepaths everywhere.

“I understand,” Charles nods as his forgiving lips curl over a row of pretty white teeth. With the collar of his shirt poking out from under his sky blue sweater, he looks like a very young, very hot teacher.

“Pity, I thought you’d appreciate today’s discussion,” he tells Erik with an even brighter smile, as if they were close enough to share a joke. They aren’t even close enough to speak alone in the same room. “No one here has a better grasp of realpolitik than you have.”

“Pleased to know you think of me whenever you hear about a man theorizing the political effectiveness of the death of innocents,” he retorts, dry, and peels his body away from the door frame in order to leave.

He has to go prepare a meeting of his own regarding the campaign for the university’s student union that started yesterday, but even so, he can’t afford to stay near Charles’ telepathy right now. With a lazy glance across the crowded room, he starts walking away.

Only a few seconds elapse before a strange presence suddenly blooms in his head. Like a slow flower.

Erik, a voice says, and he is horrified to recognize the telepath, this isn’t what I meant, I hope you know that.

The words are contrite, apologetic, but they only trigger Erik’s panic, because Charles is in his head and he could learn about Em— out, OUT

Don’t come in my mind, he growls and lashes out as best as he can, wishing he could physically grab Charles’ mutation to tear it out of him. His heart is pounding, his veins are battering wildly against his skin. He can’t know. Charles can’t know what he’s doing. This is such a shame, so utterly pathetic, Charles can’t know

But the presence in his mind startles, distressed, and vanishes immediately with a sharp guilt that leaves a taste of acid on Erik’s tongue. It felt beaten, as if Erik actually managed to hurt him.

Physically or emotionally, Erik can’t say.

He doesn’t realize how constricted his breathing was until he gets to read Charles’ next oblivious message to Emma an hour later. Then, he finally starts inhaling fully with a brief, shattered breath.

He doesn’t know. He doesn’t know yet. I still have him.

Nevertheless, Charles sounds weirdly down for the rest of the day. Some ugly, twisted part of Erik hopes it’s because of him, and no one else. Because, if the alternative is nothing at all, knowing he has the power to make Charles sad will have to do.

He who wills the end wills the means.

 

*

 

[4:15 pm, from: Emma Frost]
AGAIN? You have the appetite of a tiger, sugar. You know you’ll have to pay for those, right?

[4:16 pm, from: Emma Frost]
And you’re going to tell me what these are really for. I found out you used my photo to set up a false Facebook account

[4:17 pm, sent to: Emma Frost]
How did you find out?
If you send me 15 new pics, whatever you want, I’ll do it.

[4:19 pm, from: Emma Frost]
You’re such a noob with tech. I copied/pasted the picture on Google image and found “Emma Maximoff”. Spill the beans.

[4:19 pm, from: Emma Frost]
You’ll take care of setting up the stage and everything for the gala next week. I don’t want to hire people to do that.

Erik agrees, and dismisses the subject of why he needs the pictures in the first place. Installing the equipment and supervising Emma’s employees will take him most of the afternoon, but he would have gone to see if everything ran smoothly anyway, so compared to the thrill of talking with Charles and getting new selfies from him, it’s a very small price to pay.

The end justifies the means.

By now, Erik owns five of them: the first one ; one where Charles is laying on his bed sheet, chest bare and sleepy from overworking ; one in his bathroom where droplets of water fall from his damp curly hair to weave through the valleys of his masculine throat and torso to his inviting crotch ; another one which is a focus on his very hard, sturdy, leaking cock — Erik’s mouth waters on demand every time he imagines himself on his knees with his lips grazing over his shaft ; as for the last one, it’s a stunning view of a wonderful ass, as Charles photographed himself in a mirror with an amused smile that betrays how obviously he thought the picture would be for a curious woman — and not for Erik who jerks off every night to the sight of the round, chubby bottom and the cheeky grin.

He looks so much like a devious school boy his brain hurts just to think about it.

Charles’ face never appears completely in any of them, but Erik isn’t going to complain. The telepath is just starting to get a little flirty and really naughty with Emma in their conversations, which sets his blood on fire at all times. He can’t think of Charles’ “Oh, Emma, do you have an idea of what I would do to you right now?”, “How lovely you are, mind showing me a little more?” without picturing Charles whispering these dirty praises into his ears.

Erik,” he could have said, “do you know what I am going to do to you right now? Mind spreading your legs a little more?”

He gets so confused by his feelings he sometimes imagines himself under the care of the flirty campus celebrity.

Unfortunately, last night Erik used the last of Emma’s photos and now he needs more supplies if he wants to initiate a live sexting session with details and dirty words.

He hasn’t seen Charles in person since the day he passed by the Xavier’s Club meeting, but he doesn’t try to. It’s safer, even if Erik covertly hopes the telepath will make it to the next Brotherhood meeting as usual. Besides, with the student union elections coming up next week, they are both very busy and maybe it’s in the Brotherhood’s interest that people don’t see Erik flirt with Xavier’s pacific ideas. He’s here to win.

However, Erik took Azazel up on his offer to pay with his new smartphone the debt he owed the leader of the Brotherhood. That explains why Erik, presently draped in the hell of his bent principles, is now texting Charles through Messenger on his stupid, consumerist black iPhone. It’s honestly the most enjoyable way to make use of his spare time, especially seeing as he is currently waiting for the opening of the university chess club.

Being able to have frequent updates on Charles’ daily activities fills him with a strange warmth the color of which he considers with skeptical curiosity.

[Emma Maximoff, 4:20 pm] What are you doing now, beautiful? :)

Before Erik knows it, people are moving inside the locale and he follows the flow. He usually is one of the oldest students here, even if other people come to play — some old and some very young — and it’s a place Erik appreciates when he wants a moment of peace and quiet in his hectic days, since very few people even know such a club exists. When there aren’t enough opponents, he plays against kids, and teaches them the basics. Today seven people are here, including himself. Once he’s grabbed a chess set, Erik takes a seat alone and reaches for his phone again.

For the tenth time today, he makes sure the geo-tracking is off — the day Facebook asked him to validate his phone number on the website, he almost instantly destroyed the device and threw it in the river in fear that Charles would try calling Emma and end up on Erik’s messaging service instead.

Speaking of the devil.

[Charles F. Xavier, 4:21 pm] Oh, hello :) Just finished my last class of the day, heading for the chess club tournament, I haven’t been able to go for a while. No laughing, this is a very serious hobby of mine.

Well, shit.

Erik starts to get up, and then —

“Hello everyone!”

Too late.

Erik sits back, crosses Charles’ eyes and they both — freeze mid-motion, nodding at each other as people start milling about to find an opponent. The telepath doesn’t look surprised to see him.

Three different people of various ages ask Charles to play — he promises them he’ll do his best to find time — while a very young child named Bobby heads towards Erik. Still, he isn’t concerned; Erik knows from experience that he and Charles are very likely to end up in final if they don’t meet sooner, so they’ll be able to exchange a few words then.

He is, nonetheless, now extremely conscious of the mobile phone in his pocket.

Bobby sits, hopping slightly to get on the seat properly — he's probably no more more than eight, Erik never asked — and warns, “I’m going to beat you, this time, Erik.”

“We'll see,” he replies without heat, turning the chess set with the flick of his wrist to offer Bobby the white pieces.

Five minutes into the game, Bobby can’t stop frowning and starts worrying his bottom lip with his teeth. He raises his clear eyes to Erik and pleads, “Can you make it easier? It’s very hard, I want to play until the others finish.”

He nods, makes an unwise move with his knight which causes Bobby to smile in delight as he takes it with a pawn. Nevertheless, he informs him, “But I am not letting you win. I want to go to final.”

“To play against your friend,” Bobby says, as if it was obvious. So odd, to actually hear someone refer to Charles as his friend. “You’re strong, but I think Charles' gonna win the trophy.”

“It’s only because he cheats.”

While Bobby calls him a liar, Erik turns his head and leisurely observes the university’s golden student from afar. The sun is falling sideways from the window, watering Charles’ whole face and assaulting his blinking blue eyes. He is clad in one of his usual appetizing outfits — white shirt and sleeveless grey vest with black pants — and his concentration breaks gently when he chuckles to some joke Erik can’t hear. His lips and hair look more glossy than ever under the praise of sunshine.

He is so beautiful.

A new pang of longing shakes Erik’s soul, until Charles discreetly looks at his phone under the table, probably checking for a new message — from me, he thinks — and the yearning bursts painfully in something sweeter, something far worse than pain.

He wants him.

“Erik, yoohoo! It’s your turn!”

The kid’s shout attracts Charles’ attention, but Erik is careful to redirect his eyes to the game before he is caught staring. He doesn’t resist texting the telepath, though. Careful not to be seen, Erik replies to Charles' last message to Emma, teasing him for being a chess-lover nerd, and watches in pleasure as Charles immediately reaches for his phone to type an answer without delay. Granted, he doesn’t know he’s speaking to Erik, but this is still satisfying.

Two successful games later Erik unsurprisingly ends up against Charles in final, and he waits as the mutant comes closer and sits across from him. His phone burns through his pocket. They’re alone for now; usually, other people like to watch them play.

“Erik,” he greets, “nice to see you managed to make it. Let’s make this a warm-up for next week’s elections, shall we?”

“I can’t beat you in first round at chess,” he replies unblinkingly, fighting a half-smile before Charles’ wicked, teasing face, “so this won’t be very representative of how next week’s elections will go, I’m afraid. The first move is yours.”

As usual, it is both extremely relaxing and challenging to play against Charles, and they mostly enjoy the game in silence. Especially when other people come to see, since Erik feels less inclined to speak when there are people around. Sometimes, their games can be quick as blitzkrieg, but this one will be a slow one.

When Charles starts getting the upper-hand, leaving Erik to think for an extended period of time before advancing his queen (the way to win a war is forward), Erik takes the opportunity to ask, “How do I know you’re not cheating? How does your telepathy work?”

He is, obviously, asking for an entirely different game from chess.

Erik is quick enough to catch the stripe of guilt that crosses Charles’ face. He understands the emotion darkened his features as the man apologizes, “I’m very sorry about the other day, Erik. I shouldn’t have contacted you by telepathy, you never gave me permission. I hope you can trust me when I tell you that I've never read your mind. Well… except on the day I met you. You were extraordinary, I couldn’t help myself.”

A pause as Charles plays, and Erik tastes the praise jealously.

“To answer your question, you can’t know if I’m not cheating, you wouldn’t feel me if I wanted to be unnoticed. That’s why… well, that’s why I understand it’s hard to trust me. And, at any rate, I am not exactly a blameless person. I have made enormous progress regarding my mutation however, and now I only hear thoughts people want me to hear, except if they are in pain or experiencing something extremely powerful.”

“Like sex,” Erik says without thinking, to both their surprise.

This isn’t where his thoughts had gone a few seconds ago.

Charles chuckles, and then blushes in a laugh. It’s a delightful sight. “You caught me there. Yes, like sex. Love is a pretty extreme emotion.”

Hearing Charles say the word love makes Erik uneasy, as does the entire topic, so he chooses not to comment on it and thinks about his next move.

So, as he thought, Charles still doesn’t know about the fake profile. If he believes the telepath, Charles has no idea at all, and Erik could very well stay near him and continue, as long as he keeps his thoughts quiet. This is dangerous. But Erik feels like playing today, and flying near the sun is always very tempting.

He just wants to see it. So with only his thumb to type — fuck typos — Erik messages Charles with Emma Maximoff’s account and awaits eagerly for the reaction.

[Emma Maximoff, 17:03] Hmm… Drling, I want to suck you :-*

Charles’ phone vibrates briefly, disrupting their easy silence. Even as his whole body tenses to pounce so as to get rid of the sudden anticipation bubbling inside him, Erik forces himself to be casual. But Charles doesn’t make a move to reach for his phone, as he has done earlier.

So Erik frowns, displeased, and decides to keep pressing when it’s the telepath’s turn to play again.

[Emma Maximoff, 5:06 pm] :-*

[Emma Maximoff, 5:06 pm] ;)

[Emma Maximoff, 5:07 pm] ;)

“I’m sorry,” Charles sighs as he finally reaches for his phone, “I’m going to put it in silent mode.”

This surprises Erik — Charles didn’t do this earlier, did he? — but he doesn’t have the time to dwell on it. The telepath inhales sharply upon seeing the messages, and Erik almost grins like a wolf barring teeth. He can finally devour the fake composure Charles tries to build as he fidgets on his seat in a straighter position, coughs lightly and slowly, very slowly starts spreading his legs.

Erik wonders if he can hear how much he does want to get on his knees to suck his cock.

But apparently not, so they keep playing, and once in a while, Erik finds it funny to send Charles random messages on his phone, which lights up silently with every new text next to the chess set.

Maybe he does want to be noticed a bit.

“You’re distracted, today, Erik,” Charles remarks at one point as he takes his second rook.

Erik’s eyes suddenly snap up to his like a cornered animal. He was messaging him again, and the telepath has apparently caught him with the phone. Using his thumb, Erik closes the messaging app under the table. Did he see? No, Charles can’t possibly spot anything from where he’s sitting. Yet, the telepath’s expression morphs in apparent understanding.

“Oh, you’re texting someone.” His voice is different too. Erik’s eyes narrow as he tries to chase the difference. Flattened. Toneless. Why? “Is she your girlfriend?”

Girlfriend. This… voice… He keeps analyzing Charles so long that the latter smiles a bit ruefully, breaking eye-contact and moving one of his last pieces. Was the telepath annoyed, just now? Is this…

“Raven’s nosiness rubs off me, it seems. I’m sorry, don’t mind me.”

Too relieved by Charles’ mistaken assumption to correct it, Erik indeed remains quiet, and they keep playing.

Once it becomes clear who will win the game, it ends quickly; they exchange their doomed pieces until Erik’s king is trapped by Charles’ two rooks, and he forfeits the game gallantly.

“I had a great time,” Charles assures him, absentmindedly unlocking his phone with his index to open his Facebook app and scroll through it, “thank you, Erik. You’re a great opponent.”

Said Erik, standing and grabbing his brown leather jacket, is about to retort something about the elections when Charles’ personal Facebook page suddenly catches his eyes. It is filled with personal photos Erik has never seen with Emma’s account. How is it possible?

Before he can think twice about it, he blurts out, “Can everyone see see that?”

Charles seems confused for a second, and then glances down at his phone where a video of a baby elephant running after a bird is playing.

He chuckles, amused, “This? Oh, no, my public Facebook personal page is basically my public personae, but I have different lists of friends and, once you enter the VIP club, you discover a whole different side of me. Raven hates me for spamming so much, but she can’t bring herself to block me. Had you Facebook, Erik, your phone would be flooded with daily videos of cats and pictures of my favorite food, and basically every video with laughing babies, so maybe it’s for the best you’re not on social media.”

There is too much information to process at once. He blinks.

“How do you know I don’t have Facebook?” He settles for asking.

With his face lifted to him, Charles gapes for a second, raising his eyebrows as he seemingly doesn’t find the words. Erik’s attention sharpens even more when he realizes he put Charles off balance with the question. Was Charles trying to add him as a friend, or was he stalking him?

“Oh, I…” He tries, and recovers quickly after that, “I looked online. I didn’t find you so I asked Raven, and she told me you dislike social media, which isn’t a surprise. I was just… curious.”

This is such a simple thing, and yet, given the circumstances, Erik is pleased. Nonetheless, another part of what Charles said hits him as he realizes all of a sudden, “Wait, you mean, you would… add me to your inner circle of friends?”

This time, Charles isn’t embarrassed. Instead, his face brightens with a joyful, sincere smile that lights up his very blue, very gentle eyes, and he says, “Of course I would, Erik.”

His expression sobers a bit when he chuckles in a self-deprecating way. “Well, if you liked me enough to accept me, which is not on the agenda, as I am aware.”

Charles — This isn’t possible. Charles believes the school gossip? He thinks he doesn’t like him? How could such a laughable misunderstanding happen? Erik thought he was being very obvious that he didn’t like anyone in uni save for Charles, so how could he end up thinking — Erik is almost petrified in stupefied disbelief. Even before Emma Maximoff, he avoided the telepath on principle because he was certain people took him for Charles Xavier’s pet.

The telepath's expression isn't even one of pleading or hurt, like most scheming women Erik knows would be; only resignation shows through the way his lips pinch tight, as if this was the simple state of things. Suddenly, Erik feels angry.

“Charles —”

But he is cut short as someone appears from behind Charles and starts hugging him with both arms.

“Charles…” a female voice coos in his ear. “I found you! I heard people outside talking about you winning a chess tournament, so I had to see. How have you been doing since last week?”

As soon as he recognizes the dark-haired young woman Charles had left with last week, Erik’s body stiffens and he clenches his jaw. A bucket of freezing reality hits him in the face. Surprise also paints the telepath’s face for a few uncomfortable seconds as they face each other dumbly. She is pretty. Erik makes sure to memorize her face to go after her eventually, to pin her to the bed with his hips. But now…

The mere sight of them —

“I… am well, thank you. Erik, would you mind waiting —”

“I have to go,” Erik declares suddenly, and he doesn’t waste another second before striding to the door.

He passes by the other members of the chess club, ignoring pointedly those who call after him, and heads for the exit of the university. Too late, Erik realizes that he forgot his school bag inside the chess club, but since he didn’t bring his laptop with him today, he doesn’t bother turning around. Both anger and disappointment mix to stab his throat with an unforeseen stake. He’s angry with himself most of all. Such an idiot. His phone rings, and for a wild second, Erik imagines it’s Charles trying to apologize.

It’s not Charles.

[5:38 pm, from: Emma Frost]
Can you come sooner today?

Without cooling down, Erik turns on his heels and goes straight to Emma’s office in town.

 

*

 

Frost Events is a one-story construction in the middle of the historical center of the city. It was by sheer luck that Erik came across it years ago, when he wasn’t yet known as the controversial mutant leader of the Brotherhood, and he knows he must be grateful to Emma for taking in the broke, stray dog he used to be to such an elegant property. This second part-time job helped him pay for his food when he could only pay for bills, and, with time, it allowed him to enroll in university to finish his education. As in everything else, Erik is very dedicated to the success of the business, even if his broody and rude character often clashes with the rest of the pristine white decoration. According to Emma, his dark attractiveness and his appeal for fitted turtlenecks makes up for it, so she rarely ever complains.

Except today, Erik's sulkiness must throw darker shade than usual because, as soon as he arrives, Emma blinks, once, listlessly, and declares, “I’ll handle the clients, today. You do the paperwork.”

Without a word, he goes for the office and starts working. His mobile phone vibrates once, twice, and Erik knows it will worsen the uncomfortable sensation inside him, but he still checks in case it isn’t Charles. It is, but he’s messaging Emma Maximoff, not him.

Not texting back takes all he has — his fingers itch to text — but if he starts, he will either be too curt to be a believable Emma Maximoff, or he won’t stop. So he ignores the messages altogether and keeps toiling.

At one point, however, Emma enters the office and sighs dramatically by the door.

“You’re ruining my chi, stop moping for a minute. Would these obscene and compromising photos of me make you feel better? I can send them to you now, and I’ll pretend I don’t sense you jerking off to them.”

He doesn’t want Emma, but the idea of evacuating all his pent-up frustration on someone while the flirtatious genius of uni keeps fucking everyone is tempting. Unfortunately Erik doesn’t want Emma; he wants Charles.

“I don’t jerk off to them,” he replies flatly, realizing too late he's just opened the door for more questions.

Surprisingly, Emma simply answers, “I know you don’t. It’s a grave offense to a perfect body such as mine, but I know, you stupid catfish.”

“What’s that even supposed to mean?”

“It’s the term we use for losers who impersonate someone else on social media in order to trick someone. Talk. Who are you trying to frame? It’s that posh boy from your concurrent group of mutant rights, isn’t it? It’s really naughty to try and screw his campaign by ruining his reputation, you know?”

“What are you talking about?” He grumbles, finally raising his eyes. Then, when he realizes Emma thinks he’s trying to blackmail Charles with stolen nude pics to make him withdraw his candidacy, Erik decides her assumption is better than telling her he’s falling in love with Charles and trying to get as much as he can from a straight fuckboy. “Mind your own business.”

“My body is my own business,” she retorts, and then dismisses with a hand what seems to be a boring subject. “Look, I really don’t care about all of this. I’m sending you home. Take your evening. It’s on me. I’m sending you the pics.”

Once, Erik would have battled to force a thank you out of his gritted teeth. Now he knows it’s unnecessary. So he gets up, snatches his phone from the table, and goes home, knowing full well how he’s going to manage to finally feel better.

 

*

 

Surprisingly enough, on the way to his apartment, Erik does receive a message from Charles. A text message. For him. He opens it, his brow knitting into a frown, and, as expected…

[7:24 pm, from: Charles]
Good evening, Erik. You forgot your bag at the chess club, I took the liberty of taking it with me in case you needed it before tomorrow. I’m out with friends tonight, but I can give you the address, or I can take pictures of the docs you might need tonight to do your homework. Let me know, I’ll do my best. Thanks again for a lovely afternoon.

Erik wishes it was morally acceptable to punch someone to the ground because of their unwavering, undeserved sweetness. As usual, Charles is being a saint, which doesn’t help Erik’s current rage at all. Still, his brain focuses on I’m out with friends, wondering if Charles is going to go home with another girl yet again. Maybe he should make him date Emma Maximoff, that way he would forever keep off other women. But the catch is that he can never meet Emma Maximoff, because she doesn’t exist, it’s only Erik, even if Charles has been adamant to meet her, lately.

He decides to answer Charles’ text before impersonating Emma once he gets home.

[7:46 pm, sent to: Charles]
Thanks, but I have the PDF files of the corpus I need for tonight. Leave it at the Club tomorrow, I’ll drop by to fetch it.

This is both an excuse to go to Charles’ Gifted Youngsters meeting and a hint that he will be there, which is more than Erik ever has ever done so far. Until now, he tried to pretend he merely passed by the Club’s door when they were gathered, and that the presence of the leader of the opposite group at the Brotherhood headquarters was completely transparent — until Charles decided to speak up.

[7:47 pm, from: Charles]
I will, thanks.

Why are you even thanking me? By God, this man is frustrating. Erik wishes he could hate him as rumor has it, but he doesn’t have a single valid reason to hate Charles — they disagree on the extent and the application of mutant rights, yes, but they are on the same side.

On the contrary. Only Charles is so steadfastly, so peculiarly loyal to him, as he is to everyone.

When he finally gets home, Erik swallows down a quick dinner, showers, and heads for bed in black boxer briefs with his laptop. He manages to first make sure he only has this heavy corpus of documents to read for his Civil Engineering morning class before he opens Facebook and finally reads all of Charles’ private messages.

[Charles F. Xavier, 5:52 pm] Sorry I didn’t answer before, I was with someone, I couldn’t write. You sure have urges at odd times, my dear… Not a complaint ;)

[Charles F. Xavier, 5:57 pm] Listen, you know I’d love to buy you a drink. How about tonight, love?

[Charles F. Xavier, 6:08 pm] Forget about the sex, okay? I just need to talk to someone

[Charles F. Xavier, 6:19 pm] Sorry I’m such a bother. I just feel a bit down. It happens sometimes.

[Charles F. Xavier, 6:46 pm] Emma :) I just came across my students (that’s how I call the members of the Xavier’s Club for Gifted Youngsters, who are all younger than I am, ugh) and they invited me out. They are such sweet souls, I’m grateful to have them. And to have you too, thanks for listening. If you want to join us tonight, you’re more than welcome. I’d be… DELIGHTED to see you. ;) We’ll be at the mutant bar, you know, the one next to “Le Saint des Seins”, where they serve women free drinks if they let the bartender photograph their breasts. You must know it, if only by name!

Erik carefully reads over the shorter messages thrice, and cautiously starts considering several things that attracted his attention today. Charles… suddenly wasn’t feeling okay after their game. It’s not the only thing. Maybe he is wrong, but he’s starting to feel like… But maybe he is wrong.

Only one way to find out.

[Emma Maximoff, 8:30 pm] Why were you feeling down…?? :( Does this have something to do with the person you saw?? :’(

[Emma Maximoff, 8:30 pm] Sorry I wasn’t there for you, Charles… :( I’m glad you’re having a good time, hihi <3

To his horror, Erik realizes that, with time, each “hihihi” is less painful than the last one, but after all, so is sodomy, and sodomy always comes with its part of painful unpleasantness.

[Emma Maximoff, 8:31 pm] I hope you’ll let me try cheering you up too… I can’t come, but I’d love to hear from you tonight… <3

As he waits for Charles’ reply — which might not come right now — Erik starts reading the texts and takes notes on pen and paper. When he gets frustrated because everything is important enough to be noted down, he goes to Charles’ Facebook wall and thinks about what Charles told him earlier.

The telepath apparently not only considers Erik his friend — one worthy to see the cat spam — but he apparently trusts him more than he does Emma, who isn’t privy to his personal posts. It makes no sense. He and Charles barely even talk to each other outside of association duties, whereas he’s seen Emma’s genitalia and sent a proof of how much he liked it. What is this all about? What is Charles up to?

Could he be… special, to Charles?

Thankfully, a message interrupts Erik’s thoughts. It’s him. He straightens up in his bed, and reads it impatiently. Tell me, Charles.

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:59 pm] Thank you for your kind messages :) Oh, it’s… yes, something unexpected happened with that person, and I was a bit anxious. I’m better now, thanks to my friends. Unfortunately, if your cheering up includes naughty little pics, I’m afraid I won’t be able to reprocitate right now, my dear

Charles was anxious because of the way their discussion ended; because Erik left so abruptly. Either that, or he’s speaking about Alicia, and something went wrong with the brunette. In hindsight, it's even more likely.

He bites back a sigh, clenching his jaw, and inquires determinedly:

[Emma Maximoff, 9:00 pm] Oh, sorry to hear that… :( Was it a woman? ;)

For now, Erik holds off the second part of their conversation. Given everything that happened today, every little detail that has been adding up, there is a particular way he’d want that “cheering up” conversation to go, but he needs to have confirmation first. Erik goes as far as writing the text, and waits for Charles’ answer before he will hit “send”.

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:11 pm] Not a woman

[Emma Maximoff, 9:11 pm] I see :) Well, no, about the cheering up, I was more tempted to distract you with a fun naughty talk… Come on, tell me everything. Do you have a secret fantasy? If you tell me, I’ll tell you!

By now, Erik doesn’t even pretend to work. The bedside lamp at his side reflects the hawkish look of predatory eyes, and he sat up even straighter over the covers seconds ago to ease the building tension in his body. He knows Charles is currently busy, but he has a hard time doing something other than staring intently at the screen.

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:13 pm] Start first, love?

Nothing is telling Erik he is on the wrong track for now. He can’t say he spent a lot of time with Charles in his life, but he knows his mind, he knows how he gets when he is backing down, when he is doubtful, when he doesn’t want to admit he’s been wrong. Once again, Erik’s fingers are almost flying over the keypad.

Maybe he’s wrong. But he might at least use this stupid account to get answers that will be useful to him.

[Emma Maximoff, 9:14 pm] Alright, I’ll bite! :P Well, we agree fantasies are not always meant to be done, right? You won’t tell anyone?? Okay… I have this fantasy of having sex with two men… A classic, but I can’t stop thinking about it…

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:15 pm] Can’t you?

[Emma Maximoff, 9:16 pm] No, recently I’ve been thinking about it more… It’s not just… you know… two men WITH me :$... But I kind of have this fantasy of two men together… fucking each other or sucking the other’s cock once they’re done with me…

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:16 pm] Oh

Taking a short break to observe the word with alert eyes, Erik distractedly steeples his fingers against his mouth. This could mean anything. Either Charles is nervous, aroused, surprised, or he is shocked and disgusted by the idea. Erik did hesitate before using graphic words, but if some part of Charles somehow wants to try having sex with a man, these are the words that will trigger him.

The end justifies the means.

Just a bit more, Erik is this close to getting the explanation he's looking for.

[Emma Maximoff, 9:17 pm] Have you ever tried it with a man?

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:17 pm] I haven’t

Are you bored with the conversation, Charles? Or are you being careful?

[Emma Maximoff, 9:17 pm] There goes my fantasy </3 :(... I can admit now that I already thought about us with a man, and you two together… Damn, it was hot… Would you like to try it sometime?

[Emma Maximoff, 9:20 pm] Charles?

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:21 pm] I have to go :)

Erik swears under his breath, and the pace of his fingers hitting the keyboards quickens even more. Verdammt. Not now, Charles. Don’t you dare.

[Emma Maximoff, 9:21 pm] I know you, don’t you just leave

[Emma Maximoff, 9:21 pm] If you don’t want to it’s fine, just tell me

[Emma Maximoff, 9:21 pm] But something tells me you’re just being shy

[Emma Maximoff, 9:21 pm] Aren’t you, Charles?

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:22 pm] I’d rather not talk about this online, Emma

This is it. This is what Erik has been waiting for. This is as good as a confession. Erik reads the sentence once, twice, and again, almost hearing Charles’ reluctant voice and his attempt to flee the conversation, looking around him, but this is it.

Charles does want to try sex with a man.

Could it be with him? If this is with someone specific, then — all of Charles’ smiles, his soft words, his behavior this afternoon… Could he be considering fucking Erik?

Whatever the answer, Erik knows they just crossed the line; the simple fact of knowing he’s considering it… The awareness wakes his entire body. Erik will never look at Charles the same, and starting tomorrow, he will make sure Charles knows he is the most obvious choice for a sexual partner. If Charles is looking for someone to tempt him enough to accept, Erik is about to fill the job and seduce him until he yields.

Already, he pictures accidental touches, slow once-overs and too many of those sugary teas Charles seems to love at uni as he tries to speak to him outside of the clubs. Would Charles react as quickly to the seduction as he does with women, or would he be shyer?

[Emma Maximoff, 9:21 pm] Alright, honey, I get it ;)... Let’s talk silly, then. If you HAD to (you don’t have a choice!!) sleep with a man you know from uni, who would it be?

At this point, Erik is just tempting his luck. When Charles leaves him on read, he keeps pushing:

[Emma Maximoff, 9:22 pm] Alright… I AM thinking of someone… It’s just because I find him hot lol, I’d love a threesome with him, don’t blame me! You tell me yes or no. Deal?

[Emma Maximoff, 9:25 pm] Erik Lehnsherr

The moment stretches. His unblinking eyes fixated on the screen with a rapacious intensity, Erik’s mind is buzzing with his certainties and the possibilities. He imagines Charles’ reaction behind his own laptop or phone, as he reads the name of the leader of the Brotherhood and tries to picture them in bed… Come on, Charles, come on.

You justify the means.

The tantalizing, atrocious three little dots start dancing at the bottom of Erik’s screen, meaning that Charles is finally replying — but only a few seconds elapsed, at most.

Charles sends the messages, and the sentence is finally handed down. Brutally. Stilling the eager heart.

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:25 pm] No

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:25 pm] Not Erik

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:25 pm] Anyone but Erik

Anyone.

Anyone but Erik. Anyone but Erik. The words make too much sense. They are loud, deafening, as Erik understands them in their twisted wholeness, as their meaning pierces his being to instill the poisonous truth, the one he’s been keeping at bay because he thought Charles wouldn’t want him because he loved women. But even with all his options open, even if he had to… Charles would rather choose anyone rather than him.

The laptop flies across the room so fast it crashes against the farthest wall to shatter into smithereens as Erik crushes it bitterly with his power.

He’s a fool. He’s been such a fool.

Charles looks down on him so much he wouldn’t be his last choice.

Another cruel twist: oblivious, Erik’s phone suddenly lightens at his side and rings with the familiar Messenger notification sound when Charles sends Emma a new text.

Clenching his teeth, glaring at the offending device, Erik unlocks the phone and reads Charles last message (“And what about your fantasies, darling? :)”) before he signs off and completely uninstalls the application. He could have smashed his phone into pieces too, but he manages not to since it costs so much. Instead, he gets out of bed to vent some of his frustration.

Fine.

Fine, Charles.

Have it your way.

 

Chapter Text

  

PART II: MACHIAVELLIAN WALTZ

  

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

 

*

 

“Charles… You’ve been catfished,” Raven explained sympathetically as she bent over his shoulder to look at his phone, squeezing his arms with both her hands. “I’m really sorry.”

“I’ve been… what? You know full well I don’t speak the new undergraduate slang,” he reproached, sighing in such an aggravated manner it made him realize what she meant when she mentioned his Brit upper-class accent.

Slapping him lightly on the shoulder, she clarified, “It means that this woman is not real, and that it’s probably a dirty old man behind it. There’s no way a girl so hot would send pictures of her without either asking for you to return the favor or for your sponsorship. And don’t try to play the wise Ph.D student just yet, you were still an undergraduate five months ago!”

Charles chuckled, but his smile was a bit wistful, and withered bitterly, slowly, as he spoke, “Oh, I assure you, Julia was quite real. The date was lovely and I thought, well… I thought —”

“That she would finally be the one,” Raven finished in his stead, all trace of mocking gone from her voice as she softened it with compassion to hug him tighter. The comfort was heavenly. “What did she do?”

“She was after the Xaviers’ money, as it has happened before. Sorry my love life can’t be any more surprising.”

“Oh, Charles… I’m sorry. She’s a filthy slut,” she consoled, because Raven’s idea of comfort was actually extensive human touch and insulting the cause of sorrow by swearing like a sailor. “She doesn’t deserve you. No one does, I’m sorry you have to stoop to associating with us.”

“Stop it, now,” he chuckled again despite himself. Dammit, he was trying to be dark and handsome here, but his sister was making it very hard. “I’m not complaining. You know I’m too busy with my degree, the Club and volunteering at the refuge to worry about the lack of a love life anyway. I also have you to care about —”

“I’m an adult, Charles.”

“Barely. My point is… chase these sad thoughts from your mind, Raven, I’ll be over it very soon, I promise. I didn’t even have time to get used to Julia, I just romanticize the idea of love a bit too much. I’m fine with waiting for the right one.”

“You’re too handsome to be single,” she grumbled, putting her rather pointy chin in the meat of his shoulder — he didn’t voice his discomfort though, he loved it when they took the time to bond like they used to do when they had been children. He was grateful Raven still lived with him and that they got to support each other so diligently.

“It’s a waste for all women at uni. You know, if you spent less time at the libes and a bit more in bars, you’d start to meet more people, and probably your next girlfriend. You’ll get your degree, Charles. Go out, you’re young, and you’re starting to get really popular!”

“Oh, alright,” he joked, “let’s multiply the numbers of women who try to date me for my money, or for the Xavier’s connections, or to change the university’s board decision about a bad report —”

“This one truly was the worst of all.”

“Without forgetting those who are trying to date me but were expecting more, or then realized they find me too much to handle, and can’t stand dating a telepath,” he exhaled, and then apologized, “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be broody. I’m fine with waiting, I really am, Raven."

He smiled at her from the side. “I want someone with whom I can be myself fully, without compromise. Sometimes I do realize I’m looking for a friend in a partner. Someone who won’t back down when I’m being pretentious and who will love hating my bad sides. We’d talk for hours, and yet I’d still feel the need for more — you know I get bored quite easily. I want someone who will blow my mind!” Just imagining it made him briefly laugh in happiness. “She’ll also love the telepath, and will trust that I would never manipulate her. Basically, I just want an other half, which is pretty narcissistic, as I am well aware. ”

“Wow,” Raven said after a second of silence, and immediately she started snickering, “that was quite the speech.”

“Oh, hush!” He retorted, blushing slightly. God, he had really needed to get this out of his chest, he felt slightly elated and dizzy with just the thought of it.

“No, no, that was inspiring,” she teased, “I’ll think about signing you up for the Most inspiring speech award at uni. Well, time to go for me. Will you be okay? Otherwise I’ll reschedule my date. And don’t tell me you’re not okay just to ruin my first date with him.”

“What’s his name, again?”

“Hank McCoy.”

“What’s his background?”

“Oh, please, that’s rich coming from you, Charles! You never bother with your girlfriends, do you?” She exploded immediately, standing up to get away from him, but Charles turned his desk chair to face her with his a scowl. “He’s an IT student with an underdegree in laboratory sciences — and stop judging people on their school curriculum!”

“Raven, are you aware students in IT are often —”

But his sister’s frustrated roar cut him off, and she whirled around to get her leather jacket — she was going in human form, as she often did back then.

Opening the door with determination, she turned one last time to tell him, “Start protecting yourself from heartbreak, Charles! Be it from lovers or friends, if you don’t start at least reading their intentions towards you, they will keep abusing you!”

“You know I can’t do that. It’s highly unethical and I really want to believe that my friends mean well and that, one day, I’ll be able to trust —”

Read their damn mind, you hopeless saint! Not mine, though, it’s filled with anti-brother sexual thoughts. If you don’t protect yourself, then I’ll keep doing it for you. Good night, Charles.”

“Good night,” he said, and when she closed the door, he eventually decided to shout, “but if you’re not back by three in the morning I’m going downtown to track you and explain to this gentleman that IT students have no business being deflowered by my little sister on the first date!”

For all answer, Raven shrieked in dramatic agony.

Worried, Charles followed her mind until it disappeared into the hive of the blurry activity swarming the city. Then, he turned back to his essay due for the following week, and finally considered the piece of paper with slightly less spirit than usual. Maybe Raven had a point. Maybe instead of waiting for the right one, he should actively start looking for the right one.

 

A lot happened since that time. Raven moved out from their apartment to live with Hank and start her life as an independent woman, Charles obtained his degree and postponed his long awaited trip in Asia to get his doctorate in Genetics. He also indeed became more famous as he started writing academic articles and was appointed at the head of the student’s administrative council two years in a row.

As far as love was concerned, as years went by and he started using his social confidence to make the acquaintance of the most beautiful women of the university, Charles stopped waiting for the right one. He was deceived again, but mostly disappointed, and, even if he had once prided himself on welcoming people with open arms, his skin thickened despite himself and he ended up not really trusting anyone but Raven regarding his private world. Raven, and very few others.

So, yes, you could blame him for it; as far as love was concerned, Charles stopped waiting for the right one. But he never stopped hoping.

And then, along the lines, Charles met Erik.

 

*

 

“Welcome to the university. You’re of course welcome among us for as long as you want, but, oh— You’re a mutant, too? Excellent. This is amazing, we are all thrilled to meet you. What’s your mutation?”

Instead of answering, Erik did what he does best: impress the audience with a demonstration of his incredible powers. Sometimes his true power resides in his commanding leadership, or in his blunt uprightness, or in the fierce intelligence he doesn’t always put to the service of the best cause. When Charles met Erik for the first time, he saw it all at once. He saw the pride, but also the steeled loneliness, and the rage, the rage to fight, the rage to protect, protect all his peers all at once. Erik was thunder, and fire, and an ocean of mysteries. His unforgiving blue eyes were a war cry.

To Charles’ peaceful mind, Erik’s character, that day, was an electroshock.

The metallic objects started levitating in the room, flying around him, swirling, swirling under the surprised “oh!” of the students, and Charles was in awe.

“I generate and control magnetic fields,” Erik summarized.

It wasn’t enough. Erik is so much more.

By the end of the meeting, the mutant had managed to antagonize most of the members, had criticized the ways and the purpose of Xavier’s Club, had fought viciously with Charles on the ground of the need for peaceful coexistence with humans, quoting the telepath’s own articles to prove mutants were superior beings. Charles had been outraged, he had been stunned, but he had met the arguments with some of his own, reasonable, calm at first. Yet things had gotten out of hand and all the members were then distressed as Erik left with a last scornful comment.

“So rude —”

“I can’t believe he’d say —”

“Who this guy thinks he is, anyway? Professor? Professor?”

“Hmm?” Charles distractedly muttered as he remained fixated on the open door by which Erik had left a few moments ago. When he finally understood Alex and Raven were expecting an answer of sort, Charles turned his absent eyes to them, smiled, spontaneously, without quite meaning to, and said, “He’s amazing, isn’t he?”

 

*

 

The bewilderment never went away.

To his deep sorrow, the entirety of his interactions with Erik Lehnsherr could be summarized as endless arguments on the question of mutant rights, and Erik wasn’t disposed to yield an inch on the matter; he was a fierce, committed, hardworking, uncompromising student who soon became a figure among mutants at the university when he created the Brotherhood. He completely deserved it.

Obviously Erik despised him for reasons Charles knew all too well. He knew, however, that Erik respected him. Tolerated him. Maybe even liked their discussions as much as Charles did, which was a very bold statement to make, seeing as talking with Erik was the highlight of his week. Why, otherwise, would he accept Charles — the enemy — at the meetings of the Brotherhood? Why would he come to Xavier’s Club at all? Why give advice, and for his ears only? Erik is such a complex man, and sadly, too often people only bother to graze the surface.

So, even if they kept fighting and meeting on different battlegrounds — such as the elections for the student unions — Charles appreciated the man tremendously and, if he indeed didn’t have a lot of opportunities to know him as well as he would’ve liked, he felt an unexplainable kinship to the man.

A year and a half later, and nothing has changed. The feelings only strengthened.

 

*

 

“Hank, my friend, how are you?” He asks excitedly as he exits the cafeteria in which the Brotherhood meeting just ended. Charles wordlessly left Erik to tidy up the room, as is their unspoken agreement — they unfortunately only address each other for associative-related activities — but the amazing energy that whiplashed his body when they argued is still running wild in his veins. He needs to spend it. He can’t stand still.

He goes on, “Did you like it? Erik is the most interesting being, isn’t he? A shame he can’t stand me, really, we could’ve been good friends, I know it. The mere sight of me irks him to no end.” But Charles is a hopeless hoping creature, and he thinks one day that will change, one day Erik will find him. For now, though… The hour is not about friends. The early night and the smell of cigarettes are the usual prelude to Charles Xavier’s hunting ground.

So his mind wanders to the beautiful curvy body waiting behind his friends, and he finishes, “Well, completely unlike the beautiful brunette just behind you, I must say. I felt her quite obscene thoughts about me starting an hour ago, so if you don’t mind… I’m going to let you two to your dinner and we’ll catch up later, alright?”

In retrospect, Charles realizes that poor Hank didn’t get to utter a single word, but Raven sighs with fond exasperation when he kisses her and disappears. He feels so alive. So happy. Charles wants to celebrate.

“Hello there,” He starts in a teasing voice, smiling slowly, knowing the effect it has had on women in the past, ”pleased to meet you… I’m Charles Xavier. Are you a student here? I admit, I’ve never seen a woman with such a lovely mutation. Your teeth,” he gestures at the small gap between the girl’s two front teeth when she frowns in confusion. “Your diastema is… very pretty. I love it.”

“Oh, no, I hate it," she says, covering her mouth. “It’s so big.”

Charles chuckles, and gets closer, uncomfortably closer. “Do you know what else is big?”

His face breaks into a grin when he sees the flicker of suspicion on the woman’s face. She is younger than he is, and Charles immediately notes in a corner of his mind to ask her to show him her ID card later.

“My love for scientific facts. Come on, may I interest you in a drink?”

 

*

 

It’s not very important. Really, it isn’t. That’s why Charles doesn’t tell Raven when Alicia — that is, the 21 year-old woman he brought home the night before — turns out to not want him for him only, as it has happened in the past. After all, he wasn’t expecting anything from it. But I keep hoping every time. It was only to find a good end to an excellent evening. So why do I keep looking for it? Why do you try again looking for it whenever you come across Erik, Charles? Do you even realize it?

Not yet.

Raven would have been horrified to learn the way Charles found out this time — this isn’t awful, it really isn’t, being a telepath just requires a bit of getting used to. As he and Alicia both climaxed last night, Charles heard her thought about her being unable to report anything weird about him so far. Report… to the journalist who had paid her to find something disgraceful about the Xavier heir.

Even if the fact that she didn’t find anything weird to say about him after such an intimate and wild moment was flattering in hindsight, it also proved to be a bit of a turn off.

Nevertheless, Charles managed to remain polite and pretend he didn’t hear anything until he kindly showed the woman to the door after assuring her he had called a taxi to bring her home. He couldn’t afford to let her sleep here. Not when she could have found out things about Raven.

Charles sighs, but forces an attentive smile on his lips.

“Mr Xavier, it has been brought to our attention that Erik Lehnsherr’s student society The Brotherhood took part in a mutant supremacist demonstration in town. Your steadfast defense of this extremist group which preaches its racist and hateful ideologies is putting the university in a difficult situation. We would like you to reconsider your veto to dissolve this association.”

The subject comes up twice a month at the bare minimum, but twice a month at the bare minimum Charles remains adamant that he won’t dissolve Erik’s group. Yes, they cause problems. But Erik isn’t the monster everyone wants him to be, his reasoning is infinitely more subtle than what it appears. Erik is angry, but he is also gentle, and he gives his money to support actions to that bring together human and mutant children — Charles received proof of it earlier this morning after Jean inadvertently forgot the open accounting book in the middle of the meeting table.

When Erik’s name appeared five time, Charles smiled tenderly as he realized that earlier today Erik had bought five slices of his pitiful embarrassment of a brownie. For his defense, he has spent an awful night trying to figure out which journalist hired Alicia.

So yes, Charles keeps standing between the board and Erik, as he always has. Erik has a good heart. He knows it. Someday, the mutant will show it without fear, Charles has faith.

It is precisely at the end of the meeting with the administrative council that the telepath absentmindedly checks his Facebook notifications and sees “Emma Maximoff’s” reply. The woman added him the evening before and Charles, never one to accept complete strangers on his Facebook account — he couldn’t, however, imagine refusing someone who knew him — inquired as always if they knew each other. They apparently did.

[Emma Maximoff, 1:30 am] Hey… :) :) Actually we do!! I saw you at that party last week…

[Emma Maximoff, 1:30 am] It was late… we were both pretty drunk… but I thought you were very clever and quite charming…

[Emma Maximoff, 1:31 am] hihihi

Oh, amazing. Truly amazing. There is even more he doesn’t remember from that disgraceful party from the week before, then. Sighing, Charles accepts her and runs the usual verification on her personal page. This Emma actually is a stunning woman, he is disappointed in himself if he indeed forgot all about h— Oh, but her personal page is completely empty? Charles realizes that the woman registered just yesterday evening, and suddenly his barriers shoot up on his reluctant face.

Could this be Alicia? He thinks, but then shakes his head. No, it would be surprising, we were in bed together when Emma messaged me. Could this be the journalist? Or maybe it isn’t, but this Emma is still after something? Or, Mr Charles Xavier, this is simply a kind, beautiful woman in want for a nice chat, and you are being paranoid because you hadn’t been tricked in a long time.

As a firm believer of the principle that one is innocent until proven guilty, Charles straight out asks Emma Maximoff why her profile is so recent. When, later that evening, she only replies with a very suggestive picture of her, Charles is suddenly very tired. He knows how minds work better than anyone; he knows that positive, compassionate thoughts stimulate the brain and help retain a good mental health. People might not know, however, how taxing it is, sometimes, to be unrelentingly hopeful. How tiring, to keep despondency at bay. But Charles won’t give up on people. People are inherently good. Someday, yes, someday…

And, suddenly, without even looking for it, he finds Emma Maximoff.

When he decides to trust her, Emma proves to be an intelligent woman with a keen eye for American diplomacy, a very good-looking woman, quite literate — even if Charles usually doesn’t trust people who use too much punctuation — and as time goes on, very caring. She inquires about Charles’ mood several times a day, tells him she thinks about him, and… well, it has to be enough, doesn’t it? He manages to keep his distance without difficulty until he can be sure. But this is what Raven wanted him to find, wasn’t it? She’s beautiful, kind, naughty and refined. Why isn’t he thrilled?

It’s simply so much harder to settle for what he finds ever since he met Erik.

A few months ago, Charles realized he often ended up unconsciously comparing a potential partner to the mutant. If he could just be as fascinated by a woman as he was by Erik… If his date wasn’t as interesting, or as sharp, or as infuriating, Charles would think, oh, but why settle for less than what I can find in a simple friend? Love is supposed to be the most powerful feeling of all, surely I should feel more alive with her than I am when Erik pushes me around.

By now, the thought is so natural to Charles it takes him Emma Maximoff to finally realize.

He isn’t even going through an existential crisis when it happens, it isn’t even this spectacular, Dantean moment of divine light thundering through his body as he becomes aware of the truth with a sharp gasp. As is usual on Tuesday afternoon, Charles is sitting at the libes, his senses bathing in the sounds of keyboards, of pens running on paper, of the ruffling of pages and the occasional coughing — or, worse, the gross inhale of someone with a stuffed up nose, that never fails to break his concentration — when he receives a new text from Emma.

Charles smiles tightly at her wittiness, and thinks dismissively, but she isn’t Erik.

Oh.

She isn’t Erik.

It will not work out with her, because she is not Erik.

Oh, and oh. It isn’t one of those spectacular moments, but Charles’ brain — freezes — halts, as he processes what is happening inside him. This acute, powerful feeling of having finally put the finger on something that was uncomfortably vague. Of acknowledging a part of himself, hello you, you were me all along, I didn’t know. His heart flutters, quickening a shallow breath. Because no matter how many times he has tried and will try to find that person who will make him lose his mind, no matter how hard he tries to remember not everybody can be perfect, and have these perfect flaws he forgives in Erik…

Charles won’t settle for anyone else, anyone less, because Charles is waiting for Erik.

Oh, God. He’s got a crush on Erik Lehnsherr.

It was so obvious.

And that makes everything infinitely more complicated.

Well, for one, even if Emma and he haven’t signed any contract, they are currently pursuing a kind of courting, and he can’t afford to daydream about Erik Lehnsherr, that wouldn’t be… fair to her.

Then, Erik is a man. Does he really want a romantic relationship with a man? God, that would mean sleeping with Erik, and he really needs to think about it carefully to make sure nothing else but the current and very sudden wave of elated heat spreading in his body will result from kissing Erik (It doesn’t seem to be an issue). But… after the kissing? Oh gosh, how could he broach such an intimate subject with him?

And then, Erik is Erik.

Charles thanks any God above for Erik Lehnsherr, but Erik can’t stand him, so he really isn’t likely to understand that Charles needs him more in his life. Oh Lord, this makes him really nervous. He can’t tell Erik, can he? Is Erik even…? Probably not, he realizes with what has to be his first mourning gay sigh, he heard rumors of women gossiping excitedly about Erik Lehnsherr. Rumor has it he’s an extremely rough lover, albeit absolutely not violent — Charles was curious enough that day to take a peek at the woman’s mind to make sure. And he’s also apparently immensely partial to foreplay.

Bless the school gossip. If anything, Charles now has fantasy material for the next year to come.

 

*

 

The revelation is so huge and so exciting Charles has trouble proofreading his essay. He obviously manages to, nonetheless, and carries on with his duties as usual, but, with the start of the campaign for the student union representative — which will elect the student political association to represent the students at the administrative council, where Charles already has a seat — he and Erik don’t cross paths and he can’t verify his hypothesis that he may have a crush on his political concurrent.

What a pity they don’t even text; the week is remarkably longer than usual.

But then finally comes Friday, when Charles decides to take a breather and attend the chess tournament, where he guesses Erik will be — he knows the mutant is quite involved in the club, he even accompanied the children to an inter-club competition a few months ago, and Charles should have guessed, because the story made his heart melt at the time.

On the way, he texts Emma as usual. But when he gets there… Charles spots Erik immediately. The man seems surprised to see him, even upset and particularly displeased, but this is something the telepath is used to with him, so he doesn’t take offense and instead greets everyone — trusting his own heart to start beating again soon. Erik’s presence makes him… agitated, which is something he never feels with anyone else. He has to be right about this.

Soon enough, he ends up against him — thank heaven, Charles wouldn’t have been able to refrain from accosting him outside the chess club if they had not played against each other — and at this point, he is more determined than ever to find out the nature of his feelings towards the mutant. Is this attraction?

Erik slowly looks up at him under his long, dark eyelashes, and — oh, yes, the way his stomach squeezes might indeed be caused by a very sexual attraction. My apologies, Emma, but I need to figure it out first.

“Erik,” Charles greets enthusiastically as he seats across from him, “nice to see you managed to make it. Let’s make this a warm-up for next week’s elections, shall we?”

To his delight, the challenging amusement flashes for a second in the quiet, enigmatic grey-blue eyes as Erik retorts, “I can’t beat you in first round at chess, so this won’t be very representative of how next week’s elections will go, I’m afraid.”

Oh, they are such a match when it comes to comebacks. Charles laments the fact that Erik didn’t find any interest in competing in the university’s eloquence contest. He would have been outstanding. Elegant and sharp. He should have studied political sciences.

“The first move is yours,” Erik goes on, and Charles, Charles guiltily thinks, indeed it is. If only it wasn’t, my friend. If I go down this road I will probably make a fool of myself.

But as they fall into the easy silence that is theirs whenever they play, it doesn’t feel harder than usual to stay near Erik. It is natural. Minutes pass. They talk. The mutant in front of him starts to relax and gradually extend his long legs under the table, which isn’t something that would send anxious shivers up Charles’ body if he was completely straight, he ponders, or at least if he wasn’t considering Erik sexually. How would they even…? He glances at the serious, chiseled face quickly, at the intriguing and fiery eyes, the straight nose. Gulps down. He really is a handsome man. Yes, Charles would boast endlessly if he ever were to call him his.

And he could picture Erik spread naked in his bed far more easily than he would’ve thought.

Oh, for God’s sake. Charles sighs when his phone keeps interrupting their game. Unless it’s Raven or his duties calling, he hates when people interfere with his wholesome time with Erik. And he doesn’t want him to think he doesn’t value their time together.

“I’m sorry,” he apologizes, “I’m going to put it in silent mode.”

After a second, Erik nods, his eyes suddenly travelling the chess set thoughtfully. This quiet understanding is maybe why when, some time later, Charles realizes that Erik has been texting someone for a few minutes, he feels indignation hit him like a wave against the shore. It takes him a few seconds to realize it is in fact nothing but frosted jealousy. Still, the words spill out of his mouth.

“Oh, you’re texting someone. Is she your girlfriend?” He hears himself ask stupidly, but he doesn’t recognize his own voice, which almost trembles with a mixture of temper and disappointment.

Why would you ask? Seems to scream the surprised silence.

The way Erik stares at him then — it almost makes Charles flush in shame. It suddenly seems as if Erik’s piercing and unsettling grey eyes can scan through him to read everything he is hiding… And this is humiliating.

Oh God, Erik is taken.

The mutant doesn’t even bother answering him, because this isn’t Charles’ business, Erik has a girlfriend and they probably live together and talk about Erik’s distaste for him. Astounding. Now Charles has failed at having a love life with all genders.

Thankfully, they are both able to pretend Charles didn’t utter something completely out of line, and the game ends with an awkward but surprisingly friendly conversation. He is surprised to see Erik take an interest into his Facebook habits, but since it’s the first personal question Erik asks him ever, Charles is too happy to care, and he starts ranting.

Just as he mentions that he is aware Erik wouldn’t add him, the mutant blinks with a slight recoil, looking startled.

He starts, “Charles —” and whatever this is, whatever is about to come, Charles feels it is extremely important for them, for their respectful enmity, to define their not-relationship, and all his being tends to Erik, suddenly, sucked in the intense steely eyes, but then…

Two arms suddenly wrap around Charles’ shoulders and torso and, even before Alicia speaks, Erik's wild impulse retreats to withdraw within him, leaving his scowling face washed clean as a blank slate. He is obviously upset to have been interrupted. Charles’ heart sinks.

The disappearance of a wishful thought can actually be painful.

“Charles… I found you! I heard people outside talking about you winning a chess tournament, so I had to see. How have you been doing since last week?”

Alicia.

Whatever it is Erik was about to tell him, it’s over now, and, even if Charles tries to retain him, he leaves abruptly, leaving the telepath feeling empty and depressed. His curiosity deflates with his tiny hope that Erik was about to tell him they were friends. He sighs, and deals with the problem at hand.

If his voice snaps, it’s not entirely by accident.

“Alicia… I know that a journalist paid you to get information about me. I apologize if I haven’t been clear when I didn’t contact you after last week, but I am feeling pretty low right now, so I suggest you accept that I don’t want to see you near me ever again. If anything personal gets published about my friends in the following days, know that you will regret going after the people I love.”

Charles gets up, slower than his tense body would need to release the forlorn tension inside him, and Alicia disentangles herself from him. Her thoughts are guarded, scared, defensive, but Charles’ heart is fixated upon Erik, Erik who left so angrily he didn’t even bothered to retrieve his school bag. Charles grabs it, and leaves in his turn, heart in his throat.

Not knowing with whom to speak about this, he texts Emma. Oh, dear, poor Emma. If only she could distract him right now.

[Charles F. Xavier, 5:52 pm] Sorry I didn’t answer before, I was with someone, I couldn’t write. You sure have urges at odd times, my dear… Not a complaint ;)

[Charles F. Xavier, 5:57 pm] Listen, you know I’d love to buy you a drink. How about tonight, love?

 

*

 

“I can’t believe you made us come here on a Saturday morning,” Raven complains first thing as she brings him one of the small cappuccino they serve for a few cents everywhere on campus. Usually Charles drinks their surprisingly amazing green tea, but her sister probably remembered that week-ends meant traditional sugar treats for breakfast, a habit he inherited from her. “As if we didn’t spend enough time at uni already.”

“You’re an art student, Raven,” he reasons with a pointed look, “it’s not like you are here —”

“If you say it, I scream,” she warns.

The pointed look worsens, but Charles doesn’t add another word, mindful of the silence required in the library, and the other courageous members of the Club for Gifted Youngsters join them soon thereafter. Today, they’re meeting in a small room dedicated for group work, since most classrooms (if not all, no one is here to check except Charles Xavier) are closed on Saturday. When Sean, Alex, Jean, Jubilee and Ororo are all here, Charles informally leans against the table facing them, ready to start. Almost ready to start.

He let a note on the Club’s main locale to let Erik know that they would move here this morning. Usually Charles would probably refrain from doing so, but he still has his backpack with him, and the mutant told him he would stop by to get it. And today more than usual, Charles would appreciate seeing him. He feels quite insecure.

“What are we waiting for?” Sean inquires.

“Erik,” Charles explains simply. “He told me he’d come, but we can start without him.”

“Hey, Charles…” Alex chimes in. “Are you feeling better than last night? You still haven’t told us what’s going on, but we’re here if you wanna talk about it. We did our best to cheer you up, but you left early.”

“Yes, I feel much better, Alex, thank you for caring. And thank you again to all of you for the drink last night. Now, I think we’re going to start.” Erik could still come later, after all. He often did. “The polling day is upon us now, it’s next week, and whatever the results, we still have to organize the gala to raise funds for the construction of that school in Mongolia. We’ll celebrate the victory of the university’s official student union there, so it must be a success. Who’s in charge of dealing with the contractor?”

“That would be me,” Alex answers, waving briefly. “I chose Frost Events, I heard they were great, and they made us a huge discount, we just have to display their visiting card on each dining table.”

“That’s great news, Alex, now…”

But no matter how long the meeting takes — Sean actually brings them sandwiches they very discreetly eat in the libes’ study room they are in — Erik doesn’t come. It is getting harder and harder for Charles to quiet his instinct that something is wrong and that the mutant still is cross with him for what happened the day before at the chess club. But what, exactly, happened ? He’s thought about it; the disgust on Erik’s face made Charles think the mutant probably couldn’t stomach his frivolous dating habits, but what could he do now to make it right?

Or, Erik simply didn’t wake up, or didn’t care, which was as likely an explanation. Love really isn’t my strongest suit.

Instinctively, he checks his messages — none. Not even from Emma, which is odd. As the others start to leave, Charles very — very — prudently reads again their last conversation. It is even more horrifying to read by daylight.

[Emma Maximoff, 9:21 pm] Alright, honey, I get it ;)... Let’s talk silly, then. If you HAD to (you don’t have a choice!!) sleep with a man you know from uni, who would it be?

[Emma Maximoff, 9:22 pm] Alright… I AM thinking of someone… It’s just because I find him hot lol, I’d love a threesome with him, don’t blame me! You tell me yes or no. Deal?

[Emma Maximoff, 9:25 pm] Erik Lehnsherr

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:25 pm] No

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:25 pm] Not Erik

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:25 pm] Anyone but Erik

Oh, God. Charles shuts his eyes a second and frowns as his mouth twists in distaste. What an awful, awful coincidence that Emma managed to bring up the subject and name the one man Charles would like to bang in the entire campus. But this isn’t just this, is it? It goes far beyond a quick fuck, otherwise his stomach wouldn’t have lurched so abruptly, a peak of refusal tinged with jealousy wouldn’t have pierced his heart at the thought of having to share Erik with someone else at all, and Erik, Erik deserves so much better than this, so much better than the cheap luxury Charles sporadically injects his veins with, like a junkie addicted to brief ego boosts and ersätze of affection.

He wants to date Erik, he wants to spoil Erik with deep morning kisses and inappropriate expensive gifts. But he can’t tell that to a woman. He can’t even tell that to the interested party.

Ever since his answer however, Emma hasn’t replied and she didn’t even log in this morning to read his new messages, which is unusual. Feeling pretty unbalanced already since he doesn’t know if he and Erik are okay, he messages her again.

[Charles F. Xavier, 1:06 pm] Hello, Emma. Did you sleep well? It’s unusual for you not to log in, I hope you’re just oversleeping or taking care of the infamous Saturday hangover we students inflict upon ourselves. xoxo

And then, in the next heartbeat, he decides to give in and text Erik once again, his fingers hovering over the keypad at particular moments.

[1:07 pm, sent to: Erik]
Hello Erik, I’m sorry if you didn’t find us today, we were at the libes. If you want us to meet before Monday to get your bag, just tell me.

“So, what’s going on with my Bnock?”

When he hears Raven coming closer, Charles hurriedly closes the app and locks his phone to put it in the pocket of his pants. He already regrets his text.

“Is this an insult? It’s hard to tell.”

“No, you old man, it stands for Big name on campus. The definition is basically you. Sorry I wasn’t there yesterday, what happened?”

Well, I think Erik is mad at me isn’t something Charles could ever tell Raven without having her double over in laughter, and his thoughts and feelings are so unclear, he doesn’t feel ready to voice them just yet. Especially because they’re about Erik bloody Lehnsherr.

“Is this the elections? You’re not usually concerned about winning or losing. So… is this about a woman?”

Seeing his way of escaping this, Charles confirms, “Yes. No, I mean. I met a woman.” He tries to bring his best seductive smile about his lips. “I think we’re getting pretty serious. We’ve been talking online and well, things are going great so far.”

“Really? A serious one? Buy me lunch, I want to hear everything.”

So Charles does, letting her sister grab and hold his arm, feeling more and more uncomfortable as he tells her how truly interesting Emma is.

Because the fact remains that, when neither Erik nor Emma text him back during the entire week-end and Charles’ bad feeling becomes stronger, mixing with the sudden, the horrible, the gnawing thought that perhaps Emma somehow told Erik about their conversation of having a threesome with him, then, Charles’ thoughts don’t focus as much on the woman he’s supposed to be considering rather than on his growing fear of losing Erik.

But he’s just being paranoid, isn’t he?

 

*

 

Monday comes, and still he doesn’t receive news from anyone. His most rational hypothesis is that Emma enjoyed a phone-free week-end, and apart from sending her messages to tell her he hopes she is fine, Charles hasn’t been thinking much about not hearing from her. Despite, well, her disappearance at a very embarrassing moment.

Nonetheless, when Tuesday comes and Erik’s seat at the Gifted Youngsters’ meeting remains frighteningly empty… The haunting thought that Erik heard about it makes him sick. Sick with panic. Maybe he did, maybe he heard all about Charles’ confession that he’d be curious to try it with men, that he’d consider Erik of all people, Erik! His main opponent for the student elections, since they share the same voting base. Erik, with whom he argues until his throat gets sore, and with whom he then shares quiet afternoons at their secluded chess club, their wordless truce. Erik!

Erik must despise him.

It makes Charles nauseous.

Unfortunately, he gets all his answers the day after that, on Wednesday. By complete accident, what’s more. It just happens that, during a break, Charles heads for the bathroom in another department, and, as he walks past the toilets to get to the sink, he senses something familiar on his right.

Immediately, he recognizes the complex and angry rumble of thoughts as Erik’s, and he pauses. What’s…? Charles doesn’t have the time to hear anything else than an very loud bang against the door and a bit of fumbling before the mutant indeed appears, opening the door with such abruptness the thing might have actually offended him.

Charles startles a bit, but Erik outwardly freezes.

Neither of their surprise show on their faces, but they clearly are both disconcerted to face each other. Alone. By simply looking at his face, which is petrified as marble right now, it’s impossible in the end to know whether Erik actually learned what Charles told Emma. But… why is Erik…? He seems out of breath, his chest heaving slightly as he tries to control his panting, and his eyes are wild. What did happen in this…?

Not resisting his instinct to check if someone else was with him in the toilets — no, no one — Charles casually heads for the sink and greets, “Erik. I knew it would be you, I recognized your mind.”

“Were you listening to my thoughts?” His voice is stinging as a knife, accusatory, and Charles flinches from the impact of his obvious suspicion.

“Of course not. I wouldn’t. It’s just… Your mind gives off a very special vibe, it’s fascinating, my friend, I’ve always wondered whether it was linked to your mutation which has to do with electromagnetism, or if it’s simply because you are particularly cunning.”

Realizing he let his heart talk once again, Charles dries his hand on his pants — bloody hand dryers that never work — and faces Erik, who looks particularly murderous. His heart squeezes in his chest. Oh, God. They… need to broach the subject, Erik is holding something against him, and Charles suddenly wishes he was the kind of telepath to steal the truth out of people's brains. The kind of man to take the easy way. But Erik, above all the others, doesn’t deserve that.

“Erik…” He starts, bracing his defective heart, which leaps to his throat as he feels apprehension coursing under his skin — he hasn’t felt like this in years — “Erik… By chance… would you happen to have heard…” He coughs in his fist when his voice fails him. “Things… these past few days?”

“Things?” Erik repeats, scornful and haughty.

For some reason, Charles reflects that the mutant would have been the kind of teacher to strike his fingers with a stick in another century, and surely he should remain focused on the discussion rather than fantasizing about roleplay and BDSM.

“Yes, uhm, things.” Oh, God. He can’t say it. “About… me?”

Erik snorts, but it’s a far cry from the sound Charles learnt to love. Now it’s only cold and disdainful.

“No, Charles, don’t worry, I haven’t heard a single new thing about you.”

Oh. Really? So Emma… Her disappearance… Erik’s silence… This was just coincidence? Charles blinks. Well, now that this seems established, he only has to settle them. “Oh, alright. Good. Then, would you…”

“What?”

His eyebrows arched and his lips opened in a tiny “o”, Charles interrupted himself stupidly when he had been left to wonder what the hell he was about to say. Soldier on, Charles. You can do it.

He blinks slowly, and resumes, “Raven, her boyfriend Hank and I are supposed to go to the theaters, would you like to join?” There is no way to say if the sudden aggressiveness in Erik’s body is due to his interpreting this as a romantic invitation, or if he doesn’t consider movies an adequate thing to do with him at all. “That would be a nice change of scenery for me to talk to someone instead of standing awkwardly next to them.”

The answer is definitely not the one he hoped. It’s rather the confirmation of his fears.

“No woman to go out with?” Erik inquires cynically.

“I — haven’t… No. I just thought of it, I thought it would be nice to go with you. Besides, I have good hope that you would back me up on my movie choice — it is indeed a romance, I hope you won’t hold it against me, but it has received great critics and it’s set during the second world war, so I thought you would like it.”

Erik’s pale eyes are set on him now, unforgiving as always, but his entire face melts into disbelief. “Are you saying that because I’m Jewish?”

Charles blanches. This is a disaster. “God. No, no, Erik, of course not ! I’m — I’m so sorry, I never meant…”

“When are you supposed to go?” He cuts in.

“Tonight.”

“I can’t tonight.”

Well, that’s not surprising. Charles has often heard this sentence, but usually when he does, he is flirting and the lady is rebuffing him. A gentleman knows how to lose gracefully, however. “Oh, I understand.”

But Erik, suddenly, stops seeming like he’s looking for the quickest way to flee from Charles, and reluctant conflict gradually, faintly appears on his drawn traits. As though he means to amend himself, he explains, “I’m working, it’s too late to change my shift.”

“Oh, you’re working?” This is the first thing he’s ever learnt about Erik’s personal life, so Charles dives in excitedly. He works! Of course he would, Erik is so down to earth, he has so many talents, he’s…

“Both my parents are dead,” Erik states matter-of-factly, like a slap across the face. “We can’t all have your fortune to pay for our studies.”

Charles’ fantasy of spending a few hours with the mutant crumbles pathetically when he realizes he shouldn’t have entertained any hope of becoming his friend at all. Erik does despise him. For his carefree behaviour, for his money — for everything Charles stands for. How foolish he must look to him right now. How stupid, since the start.

But he is familiar with the pain that comes with losing hope.

Tentatively filling his lungs with air that feels like glass, Charles averts his eyes to another point and apologizes as he passes him by, “I’m… sorry to hear it, Erik. And also very sorry I offended you. Have a nice day.”

No one calls him back.

 

*

 

After that, there is nothing left to do but throw oneself into work to forget the burning humiliation and the throbbing disillusionment. It is nevertheless very hard to concentrate, even on tasks Charles usually enjoys very much, such as reading a colleague’s thesis, or planning and organizing the week-end activities at his children refuge he teaches in — hence the nickname of Professorbefore the Club's members started using it. When the day ends and the starless night finally spreads through the city as swiftly as a gust of wind, Charles still wonders what the heck happened earlier.

Had Erik… always felt this way about him? Oh, he knew they weren’t on the same side in Erik’s opinion, but they… Charles’ thoughts come to a halt all of a sudden when he sees a familiar face logging up on Facebook.

Emma!

Finally! Feeling better already, Charles unlocks his phone and opens the Messenger app and their conversation. When he sees Emma is currently reading his last messages, he doesn’t wait another second and hurriedly presses “video call”.

They should have done this or at least called each some time ago already, given the content of their discussions. Right now, after everything, he just needs to make sure they are good.

As Charles waits with a curious and polite smile on his face that reflects on the front camera, he adjusts his hair and wonders if Emma is going to be as drop dead gorgeous as she seems to be in the pictures. After all, embarrassing situations already ensued from young ladies being completely different in real life than they were on their photoshopped pictures. Not that Charles would mind terribly, but —

He simply wasn’t expecting a male torso to pick up his call.

“What the hell?” He swears, thoroughly dismayed.

Charles recoils slightly as the man holding the camera obviously panics, fiddling with the phone suddenly and revealing half a second of very finely sculpted abs and jutting hip bones. Who the fuck is this?

Scheiss!” The man curses briskly over the sound of his fingers obviously trying to turn the video off.

Scheiss?

“Who are you? Oh, for fuck’s sake!” He doesn’t even know why he’s upset just yet.

To his frustration, the screen turns black.

A moment later, the conversation ends with a pitiful dying sound and Messenger asking him to rate the quality of the communication from one to five stars, and Charles ends up falling back against the backrest of his desk chair, stunned out of his mind by what just happened. Distractedly, he presses five stars, because those hip bones practically cut his face.

An absolute silence inadequately follows the event.

“Who was that?” Charles is left to ask, and he thinks about sending Emma a message, but refrains from doing so at the last moment.

He heard German. Was this… Is this Emma’s boyfriend? Since she’s majoring in German… The man was probably naked — and, well, way too sexy to be anything but a lover, no one’s brother is this muscular — so, well, if so, technically, is Charles a cuckold? That is a new one. At least, Charles finds relief in knowing that this man can’t possibly be the official boyfriend, otherwise he would’ve been the one yelling at Charles.

But minutes goes by in silence, and eventually, the telepath puts all the pieces together and starts massaging his eyes with his thumb and his index until the uncomfortable relaxation eases a bit the very sad truth.

“I’ve been catfished," he says out loud to no one in particular, and his voice is almost hysterical, he feels this close to break down. “There was never any Emma Maximoff, was there? It was only a dirty old man, except he was very good-looking, oh, Raven, you’re going to love this so much, aren’t you? For pity’s sake, she’s going to keep asking me questions about my relationship with Emma. Amazing. Everything is perfect. All in a week: Alicia, Emma, Erik —”

A tearless, humorless sob tears itself from his throat at that moment, and Charles smiles, eyes close and pleasantly hurting from the massage. He is conscious of his own shock, but his disappointment in finding that the only meaningful relationship he’s had with a woman lately was fake from the start is nothing next to the dull ache in his chest when he thinks about his conversation with Erik earlier.

“Oh, my friend…” He says in a breath, without needing to finish the sentence.

Now he doesn’t have anyone left to speak about it.

Slowly, Charles starts to worry about the man behind Emma’s identity. Who is he? What did he want? Fear finally snakes into his veins when Charles realizes, realizes fully every juicy files the hot stranger now has about him — smiling and naughty pictures of him, of his cock, of his ass, but sexts too and worst of all, his half-confession that he’d like to try it with a man, and Erik’s name showing up unexpectedly! It is enough for newspaper, oh, Erik is going to hate him so fiercely for this.

This is the worst of all.

Charles has spent his adult life being very careful not to give these kind of information to anyone, and here he is now. Should he warn Raven? He’s in such a mess, and he doesn’t want to worry her.

No, he isn’t going to do this.

Instead, it appears to be finally time the infamous Xavier’s fortune finally serves a purpose. This time, he won’t go down without a fight. There is nothing left to save of his relationship with Erik, but he wouldn’t be able to bear his hatred.

Because… If the alternative is his anger, then, yes, Charles would rather have nothing at all.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

  

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

 

*

 

From the moment Charles video calls Emma Maximoff, things keep spiraling out of control.

It is as if one of Erik’s malleable creations suddenly turned into water, leaving him clawing indignantly at the liquid to retain it in his hands. He doesn’t seem able to control the means anymore, and the treasured, sick end is nowhere near in sight in the moist fog of lies and well deserved backlash.

The day the telepath realized there was no Emma Maximoff, Erik definitely lost Charles, even after he had realized he would never truly have him at all, but that doesn’t put an end to his blazing desire for him, to the anger, to the desperation. Not at all. Despite the edge of choking emotion wetting his throat. He’s wanked so many times to the pictures of Charles’ cock and round backside he’s lost count of it. Despite his self-loathing, Erik’s hand instinctively reaches inside his strained trousers to ease the ache whenever he thinks too hard about Charles’ blooming red rose lips smiling on his short white teeth and saying softly, “Erik, you came.” “Erik, you’re truly astounding.” “What a wonderful person you are.” Erik, Erik, Erik…

He hates loving him. Loving Charles is a sticky filth between his fingers at all times of day, it’s never being able to spend a day without wondering if he’ll come across him by fated accident at uni, or without hoping he’s having a good day, but not too good, not without Erik to lighten it, not with those women who steal his lips and conversation from him. Loving Charles is a disease, and at first he tries to get cured by forgetting him, but he can’t forget the pictures, he’s suffering from withdrawal and overdose all at once. Because Charles’ words keep spinning around him like scavengers, and when he relaxes, they remind him, No, not Erik, anyone but Erik.

Anyone but Erik.

This is so unfair. Erik keeps jerking off to him just because he can, and one day at uni he can’t help himself; he misses Charles so much and he hates Charles so hard, he touches himself in the bathroom like some gross addict, invoking the filthiest of thoughts as he watches the pictures again, even if they’re branded behind his eyelids so much he knows them. What can you do Charles? You can’t stop me, can you?

And he imagines Charles slowly unbuttoning his white shirt for him with this coy smile of his, tender and impish, his doomed little angelic telepath, and comes hard and fast, spasming all the way through with his pants around his ankles.

I hate you, I hate you!

He punches the wall with such an impulsive blow his knuckles sing, then he cleans himself, dresses, flushes the toilets and, when he goes out… Charles’ proud profile is so noble, so defiant.

Erik hates loving him.

“We have to talk right now.”

When he looks over his shoulder and sees Azazel standing behind him, Erik gathers the thick files he’s been working on in a neat pile, skillfully throwing them farther away on the table next to other documents about their campaign, and taunts, “Well, go on, tavaritch.”

“This is racist,” Azazel replies, causing Erik to grin briefly, “and we still need to talk right now. Before the meeting starts.”

Erik keeps organizing papers.

“It’s about Charles Xavier.”

His fingers still. Erik stands straighter, looking before him, no remains of the smile ghosting on his lips now, but he doesn’t turn around, doesn’t give another clue that he has heard the mutant. It isn’t necessary. Azazel sounds too grave, and Azazel isn’t one to come out for trivial matters. Something bad has happened.

Charles. The last contact he had with Charles was the night before, when — He clenches his teeth. He was weak, and reinstalled Messenger just to screenshot his favorite messages of Charles, but then… Did he recognize him in the video? He hasn’t received any message from the telepath yet, but Erik keeps feeling anxious and cornered. No doubt Azazel has come with the answer.

“Now, I guessed it would get your attention.” The mutant snickers. “Given what is happening, I think you must be pretty involved with the ladies’ sweetheart, aren’t you? Why did you need my phone to contact him?”

“What happened?”

“You should have told me it was for something shady. You know I could have provided an untraceable phone for you. Now —”

Erik has a pretty good idea what is going on now, but still, he finally turns around sharply to repeat, enunciating the words between gritted teeth, “What is happening?”

“Xavier engaged people to track down the phone. It was still under my name, so his detective thinks it’s me, for now. They’re going to investigate and then report back to him with my name, we have a few days at most.”

“Shit.” is all Erik cares to say as he absentmindedly rubs his fingers against his mouth. This is bad. Erik will of course take the fall for Azazel, but if Charles decides to tell anyone regardless, it could mean losing the respect of the Brotherhood — worse, it would give the administrative council the perfect excuse to shut the union down.

All of this for five naughty pics and a cold shower.

“Listen,” Azazel tells him, coming closer so as to be able to lower his voice, “I’d rather avoid more trouble. But if you tell me this is what the Brotherhood needs and you did this to win the elections against Xavier…”

“It’s not about the elections.” Erik refutes, shaking his head as he remembers that Emma made the same deduction. He pointedly doesn’t meet Azazel’s insistent gaze.

“What then?” His voice is slow as a requiem, and Erik won’t tolerate this threatening chant.

“I’ll get you out of here, don’t worry. You know full well I won’t let a brother down. Now,” He starts, gliding his eyes up Azazel’s body and directly into his polar eyes, standing up fully to correct the height difference between them and reassert his authority despite their close proximity, “can you delay them until the end of the elections? If it comes up sooner in uni, even if Charles doesn’t ask the council to dissolve the Brotherhood himself, we’re doomed.”

Azazel smirks, strangely pleased by something he just saw or heard. “Yes, of course.”

And he backs down to show a clean pair of heels and leave before the start of the meeting. Erik has about five minutes left, and many perturbing thoughts unrelated to the Brotherhood’s agenda.

The steady beating of his heart is loud against his calculated speculation. What is Charles thinking? Is this some kind of revenge? Unlikely — too low for the righteous Charles Xavier. Would Charles really risk Erik’s education for this? He can’t imagine it, he must know what it represents for him.

But if Charles really knows who he is after, if Charles did recognize him in that video… then he’s really furious about Emma Maximoff. And probably for learning it is Erik  his last choice in uni, who’s been making him hard and cum all along. Who made him admit he’d forsake his straight record for a man. Oh, Erik knows Charles has every right to be furious.

And yet, he doesn’t feel like he’s going to be ready to face him any time soon.

Sometimes he imagines Charles going after him and grabbing him by his shirt to punch him square in the jaw for tarnishing his impeccable decadent honor. That would be good. Erik would let it happen. Then, maybe, that crushing weight in his stomach would dissolve, maybe he’d start feeling better.

But what if Charles doesn’t know it’s him yet? Is there any way Erik can stop it from happening? Certainly not. They already found Azazel, he has no choice but giving them his name, now. What will Charles feel, then? When they tell him, “It’s someone named Erik Lehnsherr. Do you know this person?”.

Erik doesn’t want to be around when they tell him.

Too soon, his people start gathering into the room for the meeting, and Erik impassively watches them crowd the locale until it’s almost completely full. Seeing as tomorrow is the polling day, every member came, to his satisfaction.

“The campaign won’t stop tonight, brothers, sisters.” He starts commandingly, gazing through the small crowd. “It will continue until the last minute of morning tomorrow, and then we’ll go on fighting whatever the results, because —”

His eyes progressively wander to the door, and there he sees him. Erik forgets to speak and blinks , because he isn’t quite sure he isn’t imagining Charles instead of someone else, but it is him. It’s Charles, trying his best to make a quiet entrance so as not to disturb the meeting, Charles, looking strangely insecure, not angry, not boasting, and Erik realizes abruptly it’s impossible the mutant knows yet about Emma Maximoff being him, because he wouldn’t look so unassertive otherwise.

“What are you doing, Charles?”

The telepath’s spine shoots up instantly upon hearing his name, and their eyes lock from across the room while everyone turns to look at him, their faces disapproving, as if suddenly excluding him from the group. For the very first time. The next second lasts. He doesn’t answer, because he’s hurt, he’s shocked, and maybe he was expecting the blow, but he takes it with dignity, chin up.

His strong telepath.

How much can you take?

How much, until you hit back? I don’t have much time left to look at you.

“Only the members of the Brotherhood are accepted at the meetings. If you’re not one of us…”

No.

Not Erik.

Anyone but Erik.

“Then go away.

Much like the day before when they crossed paths in the toilets, Charles pales visibly, even from afar, but neither his noble, delicate features nor his compact body show signs of weakness before so many witnesses. Humiliating Charles this way is awfully invigorating, Erik feeds hungrily on the feeling like some starved animal. Go away.

He will never know what kind of feelings may come from making him happy.

He doesn’t want to know. If he starts thinking of all the things he can’t have with Charles…

Without betraying any more of his emotions, the telepath picks up his jacket, drops Erik’s bag on the floor — he brought it back for me — and turns around to exit the room wordlessly. The room falls disturbingly silent as Erik keeps staring at the open door with parted lips for a few more seconds. No one dares commenting on the surprising change. Not even Raven, who doesn’t stop looking worriedly in the direction her brother took to leave a few seconds ago.

Raven stayed. How do you feel about that, Charles? And if I take everything from you, in the end, will the thought of me still repel you so much?

There is no more end, but I have the means.

For now. Then you strike back, old friend.

 

*

 

[1:32pm, from : Most Amazing Sister] 
Charles

[1:32pm, from : Most Amazing Sister] 
omg

[1:32pm, from : Most Amazing Sister] 
CONGRATS

[1:32pm, from : Most Amazing Sister] 
Mutants and proud!

[1:32pm, from : Most Amazing Sister] 
Where are you

In any other circumstance, Charles would have let out a deep sigh of fond exasperation before his sister’s virtual assault — for the record, she modified her own name in his phone years ago — but right now, and today, Raven’s happiness is deliciously contagious. Giddiness forces an uncharacteristic grin on his face as he exits the administration council’s room where the school board formally congratulated him on his victory in the student union elections. He simply can’t believe they won.

[1:33pm, from : Most Amazing Sister] 
Where are you

[1:33pm, from : Most Amazing Sister] 
Where are you

[1:33pm, sent to : Most Amazing Sister] 
On my way. How did you find out so soon?

[1:34pm, from : Most Amazing Sister] 
Guess

Charles does guess. The only gloom shading this wonderful news is the fact that Erik lost, and he really doesn’t know how the mutant is handling it at the moment. The ferocious leader was relentless to the very last minute of the elections; he very ruthlessly urged — well, ordered — the incredulous students and the poor disoriented freshmen to go and vote for their union, whatever it was. Yet, as soon as the result was handed down, Erik disappeared without another word. An almost disappointed guilt landed on the winner’s shoulders, then.

The Gifted Youngsters came first before the socialist union, and the Brotherhood only came fourth out of five candidates, which Charles still finds amazing. Yes, participation, in the end, only amounted to 22.6% of the students, but so many of them voted for a mutant rights society!

It’s a very important day for mutants and humans alike. No doubt the local press will talk about it.

Still, his slight apprehension doesn’t dissolve as he nears the stand next to the cafeteria where he knows Raven is sitting. Her blue scales shine in the warm sun despite the small crowd gathered around her, partly concealing her, and Charles can’t help but try to feel Erik’s mind to brace himself in case he is nearby. Oh God, he is. These days, he is torn between his pleasure to see him and the primal instinct to flee. Erik was adamant that the Brotherhood had to win in order to truly help the mutants, and for some reason, Charles doesn’t feel ready to argue with him just yet.

After all, he is still too uncomfortably shaken by the whole Emma debacle, and… not knowing who is after him, on top of losing his… well, girlfriend and confidant? It doesn’t make for a very nice week. Charles tried to let go, but the truth is that he feels violated, betrayed, and angry. Such anger and disappointment swarm his mood that he has not yet told anyone about the twisted psychopath who catfished him. It is all so humiliating. The detective should come back with answers in a few hours at the earliest.

“Charles!”

Relief eases part of the tension in his bones as soon as he hears his sister. The sheer glee in Raven’s voice cuts through the crowd and brings forward his own joy. He comes nearer to take in the Brotherhood’s contribution to the gala. Since he wasn’t… very welcome to the last meeting, Charles only now discovers with keen interest what this is about, but he is all too aware his questions and opinions are no longer welcome, despite his amazement. Ignoring Erik two yards away feels even stranger than usual.

“I’m so proud of you!” Raven beams at him so earnestly she glows like a pretty blue comet. However, Charles doesn’t need to use his telepathy to feel that his sister is being mindful not to be overheard by the Brotherhood leader, which is maybe why she quickly changes the topic of conversation. “I knew you could do it. Do you realize a mutant society represents all of the students, now? I can’t wait to hear your speech at the gala. Do you want to participate in our contribution?”

“Of course I do.” He answers easily, both by loyalty to the Brotherhood’s members and also because contributing to other clubs’ activities is the main method at his disposal to give some of his money to school charities.

His money.

My parents are dead, Erik’s voice lashes out in an unforgiving echo inside him, we can’t all have your fortune to pay for our studies.

Raven’s intelligent eyes roam over his hand and face with precise intensity when he stops himself mid-motion, suddenly uncertain. The dreadful memory runs up his spine and arms in a cold, mocking trail, and Charles briefly glances at Erik who stands with his back to him farther away. Is… his help wanted at all? Would Erik consider it an insult…? Both to his discomfort and slight relief, Raven understands the issue right away.

“I’ll take care of it, don’t worry.” She reassures, taking the banknotes from his grasp. “You know, I won’t say that our loss is easy for him, but he told me he’d rather you be the winner than another human.”

Charles should feel a tad more conflicted about the racial discrimination underlying those words. However, given the situation, it happens to soften his tense muscles and settles his jittery mind. Oh, Erik. Uneasiness still stops him from going to see him — and he is aware Erik might need time to process the results of the elections — but he feels a bit more confident when he inquires, “Alright, then. So what are you doing, exactly?”

“We’re selling tombola tickets again. This time though, if you win, you’ll get one of Erik’s personalized sculptures. You know he’s quite famous for those, right? I had never seen them, teachers have been lining up for hours to get one and see him work, it’s a huge success. How many tickets do you want?”

Oh, so this is what… Charles’ heart starts beating faster. In the background, several improbable metal constructions are already waiting as so many contemporary works of art, sharp, aerial, intriguing, while Erik finishes shaping the last of them with his two arms stretched out before him. He remains perfectly immobile under the sun that soaks his white tank with sweat, but everything about him screams power and talent. Watching him work must be at least as fascinating — as intellectually consuming as looking at the actual artwork. If he could win…

Owning one of Erik’s creations… Oh, Charles is already wondering what furniture will be thrown away to put it in the middle of his dining room. Or his bedroom. Or should he put in his bed?

How many tickets? Charles, for God’s sake, will your brain ever stop drooling all over the place every time you get to watch a mutation?”

“Sorry.” He apologizes a bit sheepishly, hoping he didn’t broadcast in a ten yards radius the depressed longing that cradled his pinched heart — but apparently not. “How many tickets can I have with this?”

“With one hundred dollars? Twenty. You’re actually going to play? That’s very unlike you.” The remark is casual, but it stings nonetheless. She’s right, and Charles is slightly more than worried that Erik and everyone will guess his ulterior motives, now. All of a sudden, he hopes he’s not going to win.

“Here goes.”

But, of course…

“Congratulations, Charles. You won one of them.”

Great. Astounding. When Raven twists her bust to turn around towards Erik, Charles tenses like a bowstring, and considers disappearing with a telepathic trick. But they’re all responsible adults, with political charges what’s more, so he figures he can take Erik Lehnsherr’s wrath once again.

He always has, after all. What really changed in the course of the last few weeks, apart from his feelings ?

“Erik! You have another one!”

When Erik finishes what he was doing and turns around to realize that person is Charles, several micro-expressions seem to crease his unblinking face. He pauses, unknowingly yet gloriously handsome in this very fitted white, wet tank which cling to his extremely narrow and long waist, but 99% of Charles’ attention is otherwise focused on his own awkwardness as he stands there, waiting.

Despite himself, his stomach still squeezes strangely in hopeless desire. He’s been a lost cause ever since he realized the mutant was this unfairly attractive.

Erik comes closer, wiping his sweaty face with a stained cloth. It’s impossible to know what he is thinking about without the help of his telepathy. If only for self-preservation, Charles itches to use it right now.

“Charles won the last one.” Raven tells him again once Erik reaches her. “Will you have time for it before you go to work?”

“Yes.”

The word is so devoid of any enthusiasm that Charles is very close to forfeit his prize when Raven asks him, “So what kind of art do you want, brother-dear? What theme? Just prompt Erik, he’s very good at it.”

“Prompt?” Charles repeats — he’ll never understand his sister’s slang. “I haven’t thought about it yet. To be honest, I’ll be fine with anything Erik is willing to do. As long as I don’t have to take all my walls apart to put it in my apartment…”

His tactic to deflect the tension ended up being a lame joke chuckled out of a sly smile, but, to his uncomfortable surprise, a stunned silence drapes itself heavily over them. Raven and Erik exchange a quick glance.

“Charles,” she tries carefully, “the sculpture is for the gala, not for you. It will be exposed tomorrow evening to be sold to one to one of our benefactors. You won’t take it home.”

The mute, horrible second that follows is probably one of the most embarrassing in Charles’ life so far.

Heaven takes pity on him. They both look at him like he’s grown a second head, and Erik’s gaze in particular is burning to his very soul.

“Oh! Yes, of course.” He’s more than slightly disappointed, actually. “Well, in that case… I need to think of something.”

“If you don’t, Erik usually crafts his work from memories and feelings inspired by the people who commission him.”

The look Erik throws her is nothing less than one of sheer disgust, his lips thinning into a twisted, displeased line, but Charles is even more preoccupied by the fact that the mutant could very well end up sculpting his head on a pike.

“Great. I can’t wait to see it.” He nonetheless declares without a single tremor in his voice. Had they been friends, Charles would have given him a pat on the shoulder, probably as a terrible excuse to feel Erik’s warm, slightly tanned skin and taut muscles under his fingers, but the only indulgence he hazards is inquiring, “Can I watch?”

Already, this feels like an unspeakable breach in their distant enmity but, surprisingly, after another long, scrutinizing gaze, Erik imperceptibly nods and mechanically whirls around to his improvised workshop.

“Follow me.” He adds, sounding reluctant.

“Thank you.”

Tightly repressing any outburst of amazement before Erik’s other sculptures — this is the first time he’s able to see them with his own eyes, he has so many questions — Charles is mindful to display nothing more than a polite interest on his face, going as far as casually putting his hands in the pockets of his tailored pants. Then Erik stops, places his hands in dome around a fascinating heap of different alloys of steel, and starts working without another word, his back to Charles once again.

And his mutation starts working his magic.

It’s mesmerizing. The way he can melt, mix, bend everything from steel to gold and rust into something else, a planet with infinite satellites at first, and then a big bang of stardust assembling into gigantic atoms… Charles wouldn’t be able to summarize it in a few words. He could babble about it for hours, and it’s so…

…painful

to watch Erik from the back.

Look at me, he wants to order him straight from his mind, I’m so arrogant to want your attention as I do now, whereas you have someone in your life and you despise me so, but look at me, Erik. I’m blind and underwater and I’m left looking for youwhen you’re not around. No one is you, I tried. Very soon we’ll leave uni and I’ll never see you again, so look at me.

Look at me.

“Congratulations on your victory, Charles.”

Nothing else than the bubbling, imploding metal moved around them when Erik spoke, so Charles could have very well imagined it. But the way goosebumps erupted all the way up his spine under his tan jumper is unmistakable. There is something very sad in the way they now speak address each other without yelling. As if something broke along the lines, forcing them to feign and force out each interaction. Erik is standing right here, but he feels… so uncharacteristically far away from him. Yet, his voice, every one of his words, now that they are stripped of that shattered mystery, goes straight to Charles’ feelings.

Before he answers, Charles gulps down everything he’s been holding back these last few days.

“Thank you, Erik, it truly means a lot.”

“It’s taking time,” he says, obviously referring to his ever-changing construction now, “I don’t quite know what to do with it.”

Oh. It’s a touchy question to ask, but Charles makes a step forward and inquires, “You’re… building it based on your impressions of me?”

“Do you have a better idea?”

Given the dose of tranquil venom tainting the words, Charles assumed it was a rhetorical question, but when Erik slightly turns his chin to his own shoulder, the telepath shakes his head and tells him he doesn’t.

Well, nothing he can voice anyway. Would you mind sculpting yourself entirely naked, dear? You must have the most delicious-looking abs and hip—

But Charles’ trail of thoughts is broken when Erik starts moving all of a sudden; he stretches his arms wide, slashes the air with one, sends the metal flying in one long arc as gold intertwines itself with rust around it in a mind blowing firework. He solidifies it like this, in such a sharpened delicacy something thumps in Charles’ chest, bewildered and moved, but once again Erik dissolves it angrily and declares through gritted teeth, “I can’t concentrate. You’ll see it tomorrow evening at the exhibition.”

And before he can think of an answer, Erik turns around and passes him by unhurriedly, his steely eyes turned downward, careful.

“Thanks for bringing me my bag the other day.” He finishes, like an afterthought.

Without warning, Charles glances at the perfectly defined bicep out of the corner of his eye, and he suddenly wonders whether he would love to be held in those strong arms. Oh, at least in bed, yes, he thinks he’d definitely love to be held in Erik’s arms. His girlfriend probably worships him for his body. What kind of woman can she be? Is she completely different from Charles?

“You’re welcome, Erik.”

He wanted to say so much more. But as always, Erik doesn’t give him time to, and, when he leaves, Charles swallows everything back with dignity, prepared to appear ready and smiling when he turns around and starts shaking the hands of teachers.

Underwater again.

I’ve always been, I don’t mind. It just requires a bit of getting used to.

 

*

 

How much longer? Those criminal blue eyes of yours, shining with an entire sky of trust. “Thank you, Erik.” “You’re welcome, Erik.” I want to shake you. I want to tear it off me. How much longer?

Your turn, Liebling.

Make us bleed.

 

*

 

Justice doesn’t care for right or wrong, in the minds of those who want it to be either law or vengeance. Charles wants to believe that justice is inherently good — albeit human, and thus subject to improvement. His brain is set up in such a way that it explains people’s behaviour with mitigating circumstances and socio-economic causes, and, in his mind, a criminal often ends up needing help. His mutation probably has a lot to do with his steadfast compassion. Does that make him an arrogant idealist, as someone dear to him loves to repeatedly spit in his face?

Later on that afternoon, just as he reaches the function room in which the gala will take place the day after that, Charles receives a call from the investigation agency.

When they tell him the phone the catfish used apparently belongs to Azazel, Charles staggers.

He instinctively stabilizes himself by placing his hand over one of the dozens of round tables displayed in the main room, and repeats the name in his head to fully comprehend the situation. Azazel. Azazel?

But… Azazel would rather curse in Russian than in German, wouldn’t he? Hell, Azazel’s skin is red, Charles would have bloody noticed itWhat could possibly be going on? Are they… Are several people after him? Then, who would ask Azazel for his pho—

Just as his eyes distractedly detail the visiting cards of Frost Events displayed on the tables — “Frost Events, by Emma Frost. A touch of elegance for all your powerful events” — a female voice starts ringing out in the room in a commanding voice, catching Charles’ attention.

And his heart leaps in surprise.

It’s Emma.

The long blonde hair, the pretty, pointy features of her delicate face, the elongated and curvy body entirely clad in white… Oh, Charles knows them all too well. It’s Emma. Emma Frost from Frost Events… is Emma Maximoff.

What’s going on?

His first dumbfounded thought is to remark that Emma does exist after all — because, well, yes, after discovering that the hot psycho was behind the fake profile, Charles may have ended up thinking someone downright randomly downloaded pictures of a pretty blonde on Google.

But she’s here, in uni, and she exists, so maybe… he was wrong? Maybe that man in the video was her boyfriend or lover after all, and she bought Azazel’s phone or— Distantly, Charles realizes his legs are taking him to where Emma is standing with a notepad in her arms. Oh, she is stunning alright. What if he was wrong? What if her phone was stolen last weekend? Then, she…

“Emma.” He greets with a warm smile, despite his unsteady voice.

But when she turns to him, only confusion and then irritation shows on her face, furrowing her golden eyebrows.

“Yes, sugar? What do you want?”

He wasn’t expecting his flirty, cuddly Emma to give him the cold shoulder, but Charles Xavier has charmed icier women.

“It’s me.” He says, maintaining a stubborn coy smile on his lips, regardless of the weird prickling running down his nape, telling him that something is wrong. Something is going to go very wrong. “It’s Charles. I’m glad to finally meet you in person. Where were you this week?”

The suspicious gaze intensifies into a disbelieving glare, until Charles realizes that the feeling running to his brain is due to Emma trying to break into his mind. A telepath. What in all heavens… Instinctively, remembering he has to protect Raven from journalists, Charles’ barriers shoot up, and Emma startles, blinking twice, and then once more, slowly, deliberately.

A cat-like smile starts spreading across her glossy lips.

It is as seductive as he remembers it, but it also carries an unfathomable artfulness the pics didn’t show. Something… something is wrong.

“Oh, so your name is Charles…” She purrs, appraising him with something very close to humor and impressed approval. “He never did tell me what his pretty posh boy was called. Or I didn’t remember, in any case.”

One thing appears crystal clear to Charles right away : he was tricked after all. This isn’t his Emma. Whomever this person is, she wasn’t the one speaking to him these last weeks. Who, then? He never did tell me what his pretty posh boy was called.Alarm courses through his body — it’s someone who knows him. She’s obviously speaking about a man, but the video didn’t show Azazel. What’s the missing link?

“Dear, oh dear…” Emma teases when Charles remains motionless, tense and on his guard, ready to defend himself all of a sudden, in spite of the loud beating of his heart. “Don’t tell me you still didn’t know? He’s lovely, but he’s such an asshole. You’re trying to block the truth so hard. Stop gulping it down. This is going to be painful to watch; I hate drama in which I’m not involved.”

What— Who… Charles is fuming. “Who are you talking about, Mrs Frost? You obviously know who is behind those —”

But then, ignoring him perfectly, Emma averts her eyes and smirks. Wrong, wrong. With a dreadful, dreadful sense of foreboding creeping up his insides to his petrified lungs — something is going to go very wrong — Charles unwillingly turns to the side to follow her gaze and —

The man responsible for this situation is standing there in the middle of the room like an angry Greek statue, with a deep crease between his brows that doesn’t manage to conceal how stunned and horrified he is to see Charles and Emma interact. Over his tank top, he is now wearing a midnight blue jacket from Frost Events — Raven said he was headed to work — and Charles… Charles realizes he’s just found his missing link. The only link between him, Azazel and Emma Frost.

This can’t be. This can’t be happening to him. Not again. Charles’ first reaction is a blunt, loyal, desperate refusal.

No.

Not Erik.

Anyone. Please. Anyone but Erik.

He’s going to shatter.

“You didn’t tell me he was a telepath.” Emma reproaches first thing when Erik warily gets closer without letting any of them out of his sight, like a wolf forced to walk into a cage.

There is something more to the expression on his face than the usual fierce acuteness of his metallic eyes, more than the cornered aggressiveness of his long, elegant body. I should have recognized it.

Erik’s deep voice is harsher than ever when he turns to Emma, but he looks resigned. Drained, suddenly, and resigned, with a defeated air softening his posture that Charles has never seen on the combative mutant. The conflict honing Erik’s tone is another clue for Charles that what he is witnessing is the truth.

Gravity falls on his shoulders, encroaching his throbbing heart to anesthetize his whole being before the blow can hurt.

“What are you doing here, Emma? I told you I’d handle this event.”

“I was nearby. It’s not my fault your horrible plan went south. Besides, he still won, if the flyers with his pretty face on it are anything to go by.”

Like I said, it wasn’t —”

“It was you. It really was you, then.”

Everyone, Charles included, is surprised when he finally speaks up. Oh. It didn’t feel like it was him speaking. Erik and Emma turn their faces towards him in a perfect ensemble and, painfully, Charles’ numb body gives sign of life when his heart twitches in tired agony as he realizes that Emma might very well be the girlfriend, given how close they seem to be.

He feels very cold, and extremely foolish.

He has always sustained such high hopes for himself.

But Erik can’t be the one behind all this. This can’t be a ploy for… for what? Not from Erik. He doesn’t want to believe it. Not from Erik. All the evidence is here, but Charles refuses to believe it, and the longer he denies the truth, the more difficult it is to calm his breathing and control the wave of tears currently gathering in his throat. He is so angry.

Worse than having his private life violated by a stranger, in the end, being betrayed so by Erik… for… something like school elections? No, that can't be.

Charles waits, but nothing comes — Erik has become rigid, his eyes sailing on Charles’ unshed tears like he is able to read even more shameful secrets from them, but neither of them speak. The eyes slowly lower to one of his arms, making Charles aware that he is actually shaking from the shock and his indignation. He feels naked, and vulnerable. Oh God, the pictures —His eyelids shut themselves tight for a few seconds. The pictures.

Emma’s long sigh breaks the stifling silence. “Well, I’m going to take care of things for a while. You should have told me he was a telepath.” She admonishes once again, but Erik doesn’t answer.

Doesn’t move. Doesn’t even blink. He remains fixated on Charles, staring into his eyes at last while the clattering of Emma’s high heels becomes softer and softer, but the bold, raw truth in this greyish gaze feels condescending. Charles’ resentment is so violent, so overflowing, he fears the tide could break if Erik did so much as raise his voice.

He can’t believe it. All this time… All those kind words… The pictures. The… conversation. About him. God, he and Emma Frost must have laughed very hard when Charles admitted he’d like to sleep with a man — with Erik, in fact — and had feelings for him. He’s going to be sick.

Charles wants to cry, but remembers in time who he is, what is at stake, and, finally, he declares despite his fractured voice, “I want you to delete those pictures.”

No hesitation whatsoever in Erik when he refutes, “I won’t delete them.”

Charles dies a little more. Please, he wants to beg, please, delete them, but he remembers in time who he is, what is at stake, what a fool he has already made of himself, and he soldiers on, gulps down, and raises his chin. His whole body is shaking, which doesn’t escape Erik’s notice.

“Did you do this for the elections?” He asks, because it’s the most obvious answer knowing Erik’s determination, and he needs to know, if he wants to mourn properly in the near future.

He’s not sure how he’s going to get over it this time.

He hasn’t felt as lonely, or as weak, since childhood.

However, Erik lets out an annoyed sigh at the suggestion, clearly exasperated, which is a bloody irony, and his eyes darken under the veil of his eyelashes when he growls, “I didn’t do it for the damn elections, Charles!”

“Oh, what then? Please do enlighten me, Erik. Do you intend to use them to threaten me? Are you going to blackmail me with those?

His diplomatic tone of voice quickly derailed into an angry shout, and he wonders whether Erik finally broke the eye contact in order to avert his eyes and glance to their right because he fears that people are starting to take interest into their lovely discussion.

Erik’s jawline juts out when he clenches his teeth before explaining in a low voice, “I don’t intend to share them.”

Fantastic. He doesn’t even know what to say. Charles is stunned. He didn’t expect Erik of all people to coerce him to try and manipulate him so that he would do his bidding when he’d want him to, but maybe he should have seen it coming. Suddenly, he can hear his sister’s voice in the distance of his screaming mind, and the painfulness of his mistake is what causes the tears to cloud his vision. His throat is too tight.

Read their goddamn mind, you hopeless saint!

Be it from lovers or friends, if you don’t start at least reading their intentions towards you, they will keep abusing you!

No. No. Not everyone. I refuse to believe that everyone… But even Erik—

God, he’s almost sobbing.

“You’re sick.” He ends up hissing, haughtily disregarding the fat drop of water that runs down his cheek once he finally blinks his wet eyelashes. He’s drowning. He’s drowning, and he can’t breathe. Charles doesn’t care what is going to happen to him. His head spins, he can’t breathe, and he can’t bear Erik’s piercing gaze, nor his judgmental silence. “You’re plain sick!”

Screw this, he won’t give Erik the satisfaction to see how deep the wound goes. With the remainder of his shredded dignity, Charles clasps his mouth shut, biting back one last insult, and strides to the exit door with his hands balled into fists at his sides.

To his rage, trying to keep his breathing under control fuels the chaos of his bitter disillusionment, and he feels in his chest and throat that he’s going to break down any moment now.

However, not three seconds after he walks out of the room, the deafening sound of something huge and metallic breaking echoes all of a sudden in the ground, shaking the walls over the sound of a German cursing, and Charles whirls around on cue and storms right back into the room.

Stopping by the door, he yells pettily in Erik’s direction, “This is the school’s property! You’re going to pay for the damage!”

To his displeasure, Erik simply remains standing in the middle of the chaos caused by his tantrum, and he snarls back, “Fine! Then you won’t forget to add to your agenda my query regarding the financing of your campaign!”

Fine!” He spits and, even though they clearly are both waiting for another row of heated, vicious argument to claw at each other with verbal blows that will hurt, Charles shows a clean pair of heels and disappears pointedly.

Given how physically painful it is this time not to go back and fight with Erik, he considers it a small victory.

Maybe I won’t argue with him ever again.

Surprisingly, the exact moment the thought crosses his mind is the moment that Charles breaks down.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

PART III : MACHIAVELLIAN MARCH

  

“And above all you ought to guard against leading an army to fight which is afraid or which is not confident of victory. For the greatest sign of an impending loss is when one does not believe one can win.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

 

*

 

Jean is able to pinpoint the exact moment the Professor’s heart snaps.

When it happens, she is having coffee at the other end of the city with a young man named Scott, but her attention is snatched away from their friendly conversation as soon as the unfamiliar wave of suffering bursts and spreads instantly across the streets like a nuclear bomb. Only those with psychic powers would be able to feel such a distressing ripple in the mental plane. If the Professor further lost control of his powers, though… There's no telling of what could happen. He is so powerful. It could be anything, whatever happened that threw Charles off. Jean is quite sensitive herself, but the fact that she will probably be one of the very few to feel it is mostly due to the fact that she and the Professor share a bond. She is instantly very worried.

Something went wrong. At first, she mistakes the pain, and thinks something may have happened to Raven.

“Sorry, Scott. I have to go.” (Later, she will wonder whether she actually said something before leaving and rushing to the first bus she could catch.)

The exact moment Charles Xavier’s heart splits in two isn’t when he starts experiencing pain ; after the initial shock, a long, stupefied silence disturbingly follows, during which Jean almost panics and considers calling him, calling Raven, calling anyone as she checks once again how many minutes remain until she will reach the university.

A long silence, then a squeeze, breathless, almost numbed, sucking the air out of her lungs, and then —

The third wave. It’s a deflagration. Weird, that such a bittersweet feeling can do such damage.

Sadness.

When she opens her eyes again, reassuring the gentle old man who inquires about her well being, Jean realizes that what the Professor is experiencing isn’t about physical pain, nor — thank God — actual mourning. It is at the same time lighter and more intense, beyond the realm of reason, but cruelly authentic nonetheless. Legitimate in its candor. Because the death of the heart’s hopes hurts so much, and it hurts Charles Xavier most of all.

It isn’t about Raven.

Jean recognizes the begging spasms now : it’s a heartbreak.

“Oh, Professor…” She sighs, feeling close to tears herself until she becomes aware that she is feeling Charles’ melancholic sorrow.

To her relief, as she nears the uni, she is able to locate him more precisely — he just came across Raven in front of the gala room. Immediately, Jean closes her eyes and concentrates. Her power zooms in on their interaction until she can hear them.

“Charles? Charles!” Raven’s voice shrieks as soon as she sees her older brother is crying and looking terribly disoriented whilst he strides blindly to a direction where less people seem to be gathered. She immediately starts running and reaches for him with her arms, but the Professor sidesteps the attempt and tries going past her. “Charles, what happened? What’s happening? Tell me! What is it? Is this the elections? Is it Emma?”

A fourth wave of throbbing pain hits Jean all of a sudden, taking her by surprise. She represses a curse as she massages her temples to ease the headache caused by Charles’ anguish. Who is Emma? She can understand the connection between Erik and the heartbreak, because the Professor and Erik had it coming, but Emma?

“Charles, speak to me! Charles, please! No, don’t! Charles!”

By the time Jean reaches the campus half an hour later, the Professor has yet to move from the place he chose when he made himself disappear from the minds of people around him. She finds him still sitting on the ground with his lower back resting against the wall of the building they are going to use for the gala. The sight of the easygoing, beloved Charles Xavier hugging his knees and alone among his unseeing peers is direly poignant, even though his shoulders don’t seem to shake with any painful sob. But, as a telepath, Jean is more saddened by the sheer heartache his forlorn aura keeps emitting, chronically, like blood pumping through an artery.

Besides, she knows how much more there is to the Professor than what meets the eye and, even though they never spoke about his few weaknesses like they speak about hers, Jean knows about Charles’ insecurities.

Seeing as surprised wonder punctuates every new congestion of his bursting heart, she guesses she knew more about them than he did himself. And yet, she can’t bring herself to feel guilty for not telling him. The two men have to find their own way.

Erik and Charles were fated to have a complicated relationship, even if to her — maybe naive — eyes, everything looks very simple.

When she finally eases down along the wall to sit quietly by his side, the Professor doesn’t move, nor does he speak. They don’t need to. Their bodies don’t quite touch, but they are close enough that they can share heat, which she hopes is enough to reassure him with her presence. In silence they remain, as the last of Charles’ convulsive cramps of misery empty themselves in the limbs of acceptance, until nothing but a dull ache of gloominess fills his mind and the air around them. Dusk colors start shaping the outline of buildings, people, trees, and the dancing leaves of grass. Students keep walking by them in the distance.

After a long time, Charles breathes in, an unsteady, brave sound, and says, “Thank you.”

Words voiced aloud were always very significant when it came to telepaths communicating between themselves. But then, as he raises his head to shoot her a tiny, sheepish smile from the side, he continues with the help of his powers, I really needed to sort things out, did I not? I really am a poor excuse for a telepath.

You’re the strongest of us all, Professor. She argues.

Not for long. You’re coming after me.

She must have let some of her worry show on her face or thoughts, because Charles’ aura briefly morphs into a warm, comforting blanket only slightly tinged with his persisting sadness. As they never physically touch — Jean is aware this as a lot to do with them being too close in age, and she often wonders if their relationship would be any different if the Professor, her fatherly figure, were a lot more advanced in age than she is — this seems as close to a hug she will ever get.

Everything is going to be fine, he says, I’ll be there to help you.

There is a stark contrast between the wise words that make the Professor sound considerably older than he actually is, and the carefree behavior he adopts, the rawness of his feelings regarding something as ordinary as a heartbreak. Inwardly, despite only knowing so much of the situation, Jean still thinks Erik would be able to handle him as a whole. Charles needs to grow up, but to her eyes, he seems to have been stuck in the same place for the past years. She thought Charles presently needed Erik’s balance.

After all, they are both unconsciously doing everything in their power to attract the other’s attention.

After a moment, the Professor stops gazing into the distance to turn his face to hers fully. The blue of his eyes is shocking against the painfully red-rimmed lids, and even more so because of the gentle gratefulness currently softening them as he watches her. His cheeks are smeared with pink trails of dried tears which, for once, strangely stand out more than his crimson lips stretched into a loving smile. Jean has to remind herself that some people only see in him a skillful playboy, because, despite the tenderness in his voice, she doesn’t feel threatened at all.

“What would I do without you, my sweet Jean?” He asks, caressing her face carefully with his eyes rather than his hand.

His need to be loved back bleeds into his insecure actions. They have yet to speak about what happened, but maybe they won’t at all. Maybe it’s too obvious for words.

“You would do fine, Professor,” she answers truthfully, “just as you did until you made me into who I am.”

“I merely guided you. You are your own person, never forget that.”

Even though this is why Jean respects Charles so much, the fact that he so steadfastly keeps putting others before himself is quite frustrating at the moment — she can only hope she did enough, because the Professor doesn’t let people in easily. Maybe Raven will soothe his heartache, but she knows who would do it best. The mind has never been reasonable, but it knows what it wants.

Right on cue, the sound of a double swing door opening and hitting the walls suddenly disrupts the silence to let Erik Lehnsherr stomp out of the building in a quick, purposeful stride. Even though they are still concealed and sitting farther away, on her left, the Professor’s mind slows and twists painfully, like the perverse echo of an agonizing hope. His breathing picks up in a broken sigh.

Before they can do anything, a very angered Raven follows, chasing after the mutant.

“What did you do to him?” She shouts, obviously pursuing an argument that started inside and caused Erik to leave. “Erik!”

Heedless of the leader’s fierce reputation, she grabs his arm and yanks him in her direction to force him to halt and face her, actually preventing him from keeping on walking and ignoring her with controlled rage.

“Answer me!” She demands, as Erik clenches his jaw and turns the hot daggers sparring in his eyes towards her. “Charles was crying his eyes out when he came out of here! It’s your fault, isn’t it? What did you say to him? Did you upset him by bringing me up again?”

“It has nothing to do with you.” Erik retorts, before freeing his arm scornfully to spin around.

“He’s my brother!” She argues with anger and emotion both mixing in her voice, sweetening Charles’ heightened pain. “Stay here when I talk to you, you jerk!”

But when she grabs his jacket to stop him and block his path, Erik simply stares her down without speaking. His eyes are uncharacteristically bright, and it seems to Jean that he is gulping down more often than usual. The fierce heaving of his chest gives rhythm to the silence. She can hear his thoughts, and Erik…

“Talk!” Raven shouts, pushing him forcefully. “Talk!”

When she doesn’t obtain any reaction, probably frustrated by the fact that Erik looks absolutely unmoved by her attempt to provoke him, Raven brings her hand to his face in a violent, echoing slap.

The Professor’s immediate fear for her sister surges up in an instant. Erik slowly steers his gaze back to her, in such a cold, murderous way, despite the anger setting the air on fire all around him, that the telepath starts getting up hurriedly to intervene. Jean grabs his wrist, holding him back for a moment, her eyes still on the scene before her.

When Charles turns wildly to her, mad worry widening his bloodshot eyes, Jean explains succinctly, with calm, He won’t hurt her.

Then, even though he is still pulling Jean’s arm with the weight of his tense body which leans towards the two mutants, Charles turns his eyes and concern to the scene. And indeed, despite the impressive violence radiating from Erik and focusing on Raven, they keep on measuring each other with their electric eyes, and the mutant doesn’t make a move to make her pay the affront. In fact, although Jean can only see so much of his face now, Erik’s expression appeared to have changed. Raven reacts to it, or maybe it is due to the fact that she realized what she’s just done.

“Charles trusts you, Erik.” She says accusingly, in a softer voice. “He cares about you. Don’t you dare hurt him.”

At Jean’s side, the telepath remains motionless, looking tortured and conflicted to be witnessing all this. But when Erik’s words reach him, his heart flinches, and he staggers back.

“Charles did that to himself.” He snarls, unrelenting. “None of this would’ve happened if he wasn’t such an easy fuck for sluts.”

“I can’t stand it anymore, Jean. I need to go.” The Professor tells her, instinctively turning in the other direction to leave hastily.

Sensing his hurt, spotting the vessels of blood that splash his tired, misty eyes once again, she lets go of his wrist with regret. When Charles leaves without a single look back, Jean follows him, and no witness remains to see Raven’s lips part slightly as she tenses and raises her eyebrows, finally understanding why Erik appears so defensive, so wounded, and why, why everything, why he is angrily blinking back tenacious tears, in an obstinate attempt to deny their truth.

“Oh my God, Erik. I didn’t know, I never noticed. It… It makes so much sense.”

The realization that the Brotherhood leader loves her brother loses itself in the silence of the empty campus. The sun sets on the university, swallowing the mistakes and secrets of students, mocking the defeated ones who run away from their torturous problems by repeating themselves the hopeful mantra, “It will be better tomorrow”.

 

*

 

A very old and equally as rare edition of The Prince from Machiavel lies like a contemptuous, ill-fitted antique above the pile of volumes on the X-Gene that laden the creaked wooden table, in the unoccupied living-room of the apartment. When the dust dies of its slow dancing, it always lands on it, and it no longer moves until someone fakes the pompous effort of reading a few paragraphs.

The piece of clothing makes a soft sound when it ruffles, feeding the oppressive quietness of the room. She smooths the sleeves of his jacket. Fixes his bow tie. Gently runs two fingers in the artful wave of his waxed, glossy hair. Finally, she takes a step back to look at the pretty traits of her handsome brother, who looks like a lifeless, perfect doll standing in a stilled room. No trace of the last twenty-four hours remains on his face.

Nothing of himself remains at all, for now.

“You’ve got to look your very best tonight, it’s your night after all.” She says gently, but her voice sounds forced in the lulled reticence of the room. “Besides, it will show him it doesn’t get to you.”

He tries a smile, but it wavers around the corner of his lips. The careful mask comes back. Charles won’t cry anymore, Raven knows he will appear flawlessly composed and jovial when they reach the others. He refused to tell him what his argument with Erik was about, but she knows the student is the focus of his breakdown. And she learnt not to bring up Emma’s name. Her guess is that Erik must have slept with her, as he’s slept with many of Charles’ conquests before that.

“Charles,” she tries again, “there is something I’ve been trying to tell you about Erik…”

“Not now.”

“It’s very important. You don’t understand, Erik—”

“I don’t want to talk about it, Raven. Please, stop it.”

As she opens her mouth once again, he repeats stiffly, still looking right in front of him, “Please.”

Raven purses her lips. She can see that if she presses the issue, her collected, skillfully elegant brother will shatter in drifting pieces once again. He doesn’t need that. Tonight is his grand night. The stale air of the room smells heavy, all of a sudden. A thin smile stretches on her lips, forced as well.

“You’re gorgeous, Charles. I’m so lucky to have you.”

No answer. The living statue tenses slightly in the lifeless room. Raven wonders if one day Charles will start hating being so good-looking. It hasn’t helped him find happiness so far.

She understands her mistake, and corrects, “You’re so strong, and yet so gentle, and you’re the most intelligent man I know along with Hank. You’ll always have us, you know that, right?”

A shadow briefly crosses his clear eyes, but Raven can’t decipher its meaning. The next second, Charles blinks it away, and smiles to her. A spark of what his soul is usually made of returns to his eyes, to her relief.

“Yes,” he says, with an unbearable tenderness, “I hope you both will. Thank you, Raven.”

She tells him not to be silly and quickly steers him out of here. She knows Charles; whatever his pain was about, he took his time to grieve, and will laugh about it in a few days.

Charles will get over it. He always gets over women.

 

*

 

The end justifies the means.

Staring right into the surprised hurt in his eyes, being the armed witness of the throbbing betrayal that made his pupils tremble, his whole body tremble, as he stood with his lips slightly parted to get some air in, because he couldn’t breathe, because he was ready to break from anger. Not being able to hold him in his arms, sorry, Schätz, don’t cry, hit me, because he was the aggressor. All because

The end justified the means.

Being called sick — You’re sick! You’re plain sick! — because Charles understood that he didn’t even do this to gain more power, more status, to gain something from him, but because he had a personal interest in collecting nudes from him. Because he was interested in him. He can’t believed he thought

The end justified the means.

He didn’t know. He didn’t know at the time, that Charles’ pain would be his pain, his tears would be his biting torment. Erik knew full well he wouldn’t be able to delete those pictures even if he told Charles he would, but — now… He can’t stand them. They make him sick. They are branded into his soul and his very soul made him sick late in the night.

When Charles is absent the whole day at uni the day after that, Erik’s anger turns nauseous.

I got what I wanted, he thinks bitterly, and then he realizes what a fool he’s been. How special their relationship was for Charles, until he ruined it. He wasn’t expecting him to cry. To be responsible for his pain isn’t fulfilling, it doesn’t make him special. What did he want with Charles? What does he want?

All he wants right now is to stop hearing the Machiavellian litany in his head; it’s enough to make him bark at the people who try to approach him. Unsurprisingly, Erik decided to attend the gala, even though the guest of honor is Charles, who should be able to enjoy his evening without the presence of the plain sick stalker who has kept stolen pictures of him to masturbate. As the representative of one of the student unions that run in the elections, he couldn’t afford not to come.

At least, for as long as Charles won’t talk about it publicly. He has no doubt than with his money and influence, Charles could destroy him, and Erik is still expecting the mutant’s next move. Erik’s king is in check.

However, his concern for his status of leader of a famous student union has little to do with the way his heartbeat quickens of its own volition as soon as he spots Charles at the student gala.

Erik’s face freezes, even as his eyes follow him for a second, before he remembers he has no right to openly stare at him; trying to take a superficial interest into what an investor is telling him, he averts his eyes quickly.

But, despite everything, Charles is so stunning tonight that Erik can’t concentrate, and he keeps going back to him. What a laughable puppet the leader of the separatist mutant rights movement makes. I can’t spend a day without worrying about him.

The truth is that he direly misses the time when they spent their days messaging each other. Charles’ absence in his everyday life is a bursting gap in his chest. It’s the missed injection of an addict, and it’s only been a few days. Already it feels like a month. Soon, a month will turn into a year, and then a life, because the end of the year is upon them. In a few weeks, Erik will probably never see him again.

As always, as deserved, when Charles Xavier enters the sumptuous student gala his Club for Gifted Youngsters organized with very little funding, all the people around him turn to him; some rush to greet him, patting his shoulder, some whispering about him with wonder. Saying that he sucks the air of the room wouldn’t be true. Charles makes the air more breathable. He brings his own light, and glows, with nothing more than an entertained smile or a coquettish smirk as he tells a story animatedly. Charles looks more reserved, tonight. More dignified. He aged in only twenty-four hours.

Pain causes people to mature quickly, after all.

Erik averts his eyes when Charles catches him staring at him for the second time in half an hour — distractedly, Erik starts again to explain the inspiration for his art to the university’s director. The exhibition of his sculptures stands in the middle of the room. He can’t help but noticing Charles’ frequent glances to the one Erik crafted for him, even though he probably has no way to know it is his yet. Does he like it?

Only a minute passes. Nervousness viciously creeps down Erik’s veins when Raven, who’s been hanging to her brother’s arm like a dutiful bulldog ever since they entered, decides to come closer. With reluctant steps, Charles follows, her mutant boyfriend Hank trailing just behind them.

His back purposefully turned to them, Erik does his best to ignore them as they go straight to the most impressive artwork, the one he made for Charles. His heartbeat flutters stupidly in self-consciousness.

Unfortunately, he is standing too close, and can’t help but disinterest himself completely from the sponsors’ discussion to listen to Raven’s voice despite himself.

She reads aloud, “Rage and Serenity. I love this one. It really stands out from the rest. Funny, I don’t remember seeing it, and it’s the biggest of all. Erik really did outdid himself, you can feel the complexity of contrasting emotions, all intertwined to create something more. It's a shame it will be sold at the auction, I wonder who commissioned it.”

Erik thought he wouldn’t be able to feel more uneasy or more wistfully depressed than by hearing Raven plainly dissecting his feelings for Charles, but it was before her mutant boyfriend Hank spoke up.

“It says, “C.F.X.” . Aren’t those your initials, Professor?” Scheiss. He should have melted that thing into a fridge, as planned. “But it might not be from you; I’d be surprised if Lehnsherr knew your middle name, except if you told him.”

“I didn’t.” Charles’ voice. Erik’s breathing quickens as the missed sound reaches him, and he almost hisses at the woman who tries engaging him whereas all his concentration is directed to hear Charles above the mumbles of the party. “It is, however, on my Facebook page.”

“But Erik doesn’t have Facebook, you know that.”

“Ah, you’re right. But I do think this is the one I commissioned; I recognize all the others.”

A faint displeasure itches Erik upon hearing the disturbingly neutral, polished tone Charles uses tonight. No passion, no unguarded kindness in this version of him. Erik, you came. The happy memory brings another uncomfortable tide of irritated longing, so he decides to take a break, just as Raven’s and Hank’s wonder reaches him. The blue eyes Erik has had no choice but to adore and despise turn aside, looking elsewhere, while Charles waits for his friends to finish their contemplation so as to finally walk away from the bittersweet, excruciating reminder of their past foolish hopes.

Finally, they have become to each other what people always thought them to be.

No one.

The end justifies the means, his conscience snickers, barking out a wry, triumphant laugh.

Erik could have brought the building down in hatred; he feels so empty he’s not sure the screams would be enough to wake him up and stop him.

 

*

 

“Dear honored guests, thank you for attending this fundraising event which will help build a school at the crossroads of a desert steppe in Mongolia. The future of these children depends on your donations, so we are kindly counting on your participation. My name is Charles Xavier. I am the student representative at the administration council, and as the founder of the Xavier’s Club for Gifted Youngsters which the students chose to elect as the university’s main political union, it is my pleasure to open the festivities. I am most grateful to your support and —”

A round of enthusiastic applause ornamented with whistles and roars of victory interrupted Charles, who pauses and smiles shyly, lowering his eyes to hide the faint blush of emotion that managed to blossom on his face.

“Thank you. Today is a big day for every one of us; it is the first time in the United States that a mutant rights society has been elected to represent all the students in a university. Change is upon us, my friends. Your support means that we are going to be able to better the living conditions of mutants in our beloved university, and I swear to you that everyone will benefit from it. Safety and equality will bring more understanding and compassion in our hearts. I personally cannot wait to see this day pass. Thank you again for making this possible.”

Another round of applause marks the words, softer. This time, not a shout dares disrupt the weight of the respectful silence that Charles’ sentimental words have wrapped around the entire room. It is obvious that he believes sincerely in what he is saying and, even though Erik disagrees on the content of the message, he himself is feeling a pang of dulled pain in his chest.

Every emotion has been so strong in him lately that they turn into sheer pain. Looking up at Charles is painful. Erik doesn’t. He remains seated at one of the round tables of the room, whereas Charles stands alone on the stage, deliciously handsome — painfully handsome — in his haute couture tuxedo, perfect from his hair to his shoes, to his lips, to his pale complexion splashed with a few freckles around his nose that the light emphasizes, and Erik, Erik in this instant is so quietly proud of him, the cramp of his foolish heart is so raw at the thought that he didn’t do anything to bring Charles here, he only brought him down, he burnt his only shot to keep contact with him after leaving uni, all of this for five nudes, so Erik looks away.

He endures the speech, because feeling, and especially feeling in love, is a choking soreness.

No doubt that Charles is still furious with him, no doubt he would spit to Erik’ face if he were any less than the man that he is, but right now he appears a perfectly self-assured gentleman. His strong telepath. His combative activist.

“You must excuse me for this poor choice, but I will end my speech by saying how sad I am to be graduating in a few weeks.” Laughter erupts and doubles when a teacher who obviously knows Charles shouts that he shouldn’t be too confident about it. Charles giggles, surprised. His eyebrows arched as he did so, he’s a wonderful sight. Erik stops glancing.  “Fingers crossed, then? In any case, as a few of you may know, I will leave uni by the end of the summer to fulfill one of my dreams; I am to leave the country to travel to Asia and supervise the building of the school.”

Most of the time, you realize you had not actually let go of an idea only when it is suddenly ripped from you so harshly that you feel its absence keenly in your being, deep inside some mysterious place between your lungs. Erik knew he would never have Charles. But now. Now he realizes he will never even be able to have him. The end of the year will mean the end of everything. Erik feels bursting and empty all at once.

What will his life be like, without Charles around it?

“To that effect, because I won’t be able to represent the Gifted Youngsters in fall, I would like to take this opportunity to name my successor at the head of the Club. She is not aware I was to appoint her and to bring her here on stage, so please cover for me and give a very warm welcome to one of my most trusted friends, the talented, the intelligent Jean Grey!”

Most of the students who know them both suddenly start grinning like loonies and shout out as a projector turns to the frozen telekinesist. Erik is a bit surprised — he shouldn’t be — but Raven outwardly gasps and claps her hands enthusiastically, cheering. He guesses Charles realized Raven would be more into taking back the reins of the Brotherhood — if the Brotherhood is still up next year.

Jean Grey gracefully stands up, climbs on the platform and, after an awkward second of indecisiveness, she and Charles hug briefly. Following a few words of thanks Erik doesn’t care for, she gets back to her seat, and Charles resumes speaking.

“Thank you, she will do a fantastic job. As far as my… mandate is concerned, I intend to work tirelessly in the following weeks to pass as many decisions as possible for your new school year. For this, I will of course consult my fellow union representatives on occasion, but I will especially need a right hand to support me in the long fight that equality among us all will require. For the greater good, I will need someone with an extensive knowledge on mutant and civil rights activism, and also someone to be a hand of steel when I only care to be the velvet glove.”

A second before it happens, Erik’s mind lights with uncertain recognition, and he turns his head to Charles, whose eyes are fixated on his paper.

“Dear honored guests, Erik Lehnsherr.”

The stupid projector switches on above Erik’s table. The entire gathering seems to gasp and hold their breath in dramatic shock — amazed shock, outraged shock — as the first most politicized students already start shouting their refusal, but Erik, for once, doesn’t grasp immediately what is happening. For a few seconds, he remains perfectly motionless, as if he didn’t hear the announcement. Charles…

Charles… Despite what happened just yesterday. Despite Erik’s deception. Despite the fact that the telepath had the upper-hand, and everything to bring him down… Is Charles doing this because he fears Erik would blackmail him if he doesn’t ? Maybe. Unlikely — The mutant would have been able to report him if he tried. So why did Charles… Why did Charles choose… him?

For the greater good.

Charles put aside everything personal he thought about him. He put aside Emma Maximoff for the greater good.

No victorious song comes to ornate his new status. Charles Xavier truly stands above them all, and especially above him.

Ignoring the weaving of whispers and murmurs running among the students and guests like the buzzing of an angry beehive, Erik leaves his chair to start walking wordlessly to the few stairs leading to the platform. On the way, he passes by the table of the administrative board, which grumbles its scandalized affront to witness their golden boy appoint the terrorist-to-be Erik Lehnsherr to such a high position. In any other circumstance, Erik would have smirked wryly, congratulating Charles on his ghastly choice.

But right now… There won’t be a smile, nor any dry joke. Erik reaches the last step, then the platform, and watches as Charles takes a step aside to face him with his eyes cast on a point much farther on his right. For some reason, in this instant Erik finds especially ridiculous that the uni’s shameless flirt could have such a sweet profile and yet be able to inflict such deep wounds to every part of Erik he pleases.

Unknowingly.

The awkwardness and tension of this moment intensifies with the resonating sound of each step. The world is watching with parted lips, but Erik doesn’t care anywhere near as much as the fact that Charles’ traits tense progressively. Your dislike for me is so visible now, Charles. Why are you doing this? Were you expecting I would turn down the offer? You wouldn’t know me very well, then, my friend.

When only ten steps remain to divide them, the telepath extends a stiff hand in his direction. In less than a few seconds, Erik gets barely close enough and stretches his own arm to shake Charles’ hand without a word. Neither of them is facing the other.

The tense silence can be sensed in their formal, constrained handshake, which sends a soft discharge of shock coursing in Erik’s fingers, tickling him with the abrupt awareness that he has never actually touched Charles before. This is what you feel like, then. His grip is firm, professional, strong enough that Erik can guess the shape and masculine width of his palm — feeding dead fantasies with new input — and yet, it is decidedly evasive, so much that he feels it end before Charles actually lets go.

It doesn’t end too soon. The physical contact burned him with the knowledge that Charles doesn’t want him near him. Doesn’t want him in his sight at all.

Anyone but Erik.

He doesn’t know how Charles supposes they will be working together in a few days, but right now, Erik doesn’t try at all, and he turns around a second before they completely let go of each other. The whispers of the crowd hum in the floor under his feet when people realize he won’t even stay to say a few words. He ignores another anonymous insult.

What are you playing at, Charles?

What could you possibly expect of me?

 

*

 

When the situation becomes very quickly unmanageable, Charles remembers it was his idea in the first place.

Just as he thought, for the weeks that follow, all students are reviewing for their finals — whereas Charles only has a few weeks left to finish his thesis, he can’t believe he let it drag on so much — and not coming across Erik for administrative duties is not an issue as such. For the first few weeks that follow, in fact, it is almost as if Erik doesn’t exist.

Or at least, people must think Charles is trying to convince himself of it. But the truth is that not seeing Erik does not mean Charles can forget about what he did to him; every day, Charles gets up sighing, moving in his apartment and his life with motions that seem slower, and forced. It could feel like having the flu, if it wasn’t for the gaping wound that jumps and spreads anew in his heart whenever he spots Erik in uni by accident. It wouldn’t feel any different if the mutant started squeezing the blood of out his ventricles with this maniac smile of his.

Yes, Charles is positively furious to be dealing with all this shame to have been such a dancing fool for Erik; he is furious to be dealing with the choking rage to have been tricked, to have been so blind and trusting, but, the truth is… The truth is that he is only partly angry, and mostly sad.

Granted, if Erik did try to speak to him, Charles would probably do what he didn’t the first time and hit him square in the nose with a right hook, but… When he sees Erik, when he spots his retreating figure by accident… the anger is subdued by a painful melancholy. In the end, Charles is still mourning the loss of his hope that he could have made of Erik the other half he was waiting for.

He can’t let go. Why? Why can’t he let go?

You’re trying to suppress the truth so hard, Emma Frost’s voice taunts him again, stop gulping it down.

“Charles, are you okay?” Raven inquires one day as they wait with a group of students in front of the art department.

Surprised, the telepath smiles thinly, trying his best to look natural, but he only tears himself from the sight he’s been staring at for one second. He immediately realizes Raven isn’t fooled.

“Yes.” He still says with a laugh, when the attention of others gets caught.

But the tall figure of Erik walking in the distance quickly reclaims his attention despite himself, as Erik found him in the courtyard right away and kept his slow, measured gaze on him throughout. It’s the first time Charles feels so alive in days.

The enigmatic grey eyes remain on him as he keeps walking, his backpack thrown over a shoulder. They don’t speak, they don’t officially acknowledge each other, and they certainly don’t back down. A lot could have been said. I hate you for doing this to me. I miss you, Erik. Let’s forget all this, please, delete those pictures and let’s pretend this never happened. How could you? I hate you so much, so please.

The Brotherhood leader turns his face away first, displaying in the process the defined, delicious line of his jaw above his tan polo shirt. Strangely, Erik doesn’t appear to feel like he’s won this wordless contest. Unsurprisingly, Charles doesn’t feel like he himself didn’t lose. The mutant disappears in a few seconds.

Underwater again.

“This is getting ridiculous!” Raven cries out another day. She’s been acting like a sentinel clutching to his side since the day he discovered the truth about Emma Maximoff, and most days Charles hopes she would let him be depressed already. But today is the worst and most embarrassing she’s done yet. “Charles has been feeling miserable since you two fought. Just explain yourself and—”

“I don’t have anything more to say to Charles.”

All three of them have been sitting at different ends of a huge table in a room usually used for the administration council’s presentations and meetings. This is the first time they are facing each other since the incident and the gala — even if facing is a laughable overstatement since they are both pretending to be too absorbed in the paper they are reading to even raise their faces. An awkward, palpable tension ensued. The strained atmosphere is, furthermore, probably fueled by Charles’ awareness that Erik is extremely attractive in his black turtleneck.

It’s hard to believe they used to be unable to shut up when they were in the same room. Equally as hard to imagine their silences used to be comfortable, the highlight of his weeks.

“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe either of you. What are you so afraid of, Erik?”

Since he recovered from his disillusionment, Charles has regained a perfect control of his mutation, but despite his perfect barriers, he can still feel the growing, bubbling tension gradually erupting from Erik’s body, like a volcano ready to explode. Before he can snap and say something the telepath really doesn’t want to hear, Charles intercedes first.

“Raven, enough. Focus on work, please.” His severe voice reins her in reluctantly. It’s obvious she’s trying to settle them, but — it’s useless. Erik made fun of him, mocking his stupid fantasies and his dating habits while comfortably sharing his girlfriend’s pictures to make him hot. Mutual respect is probably something they will never have for each other ever again.

But they still have to work together, for the good of mutants.

When the situation becomes very quickly unmanageable, Charles remembers it was his idea in the first place.

“You stubborn prick. The Club has been discussing this amendment for almost a year.”

With an aggravated sigh, he reads again the document Erik returned him. In spite of his exasperated curse — he’s relieved no lady is nearby to hear it — Charles still pays the mutant’s remarks the most attentive attention and, as usual, he takes most of them into account when he starts thinking again on the matter.

They are now done pretending they can’t meet because of their exams, since Erik’s finals are over and Charles met his deadlines — so they are plainly avoiding each other and communicating only by terse memos and brief annotations.

Working with Erik bloody Lehnsherr isn’t only hard on his raw nerves because of the delicate situation they are in. Charles chose him in order to have an external opinion that he could trust on mutant affairs, and when he tried to think of a right-hand to support him efficiently in this project, no other name than Erik’s was satisfactory to his ears. But — you have to credit Erik for his consistency — the leader of the Brotherhood is absolutely merciless when it comes to compromises.

Whenever Charles submits a document to his attention, it comes back with crossing outs and annotations like, “No”, “Not enough”, “What are you thinking???”, “REALLY, Charles?” and the last one, “Are you working for them?” . This one came after half a night of thinking how to satisfy all parties on the matter of the rampant discrimination against mutants in sport clubs, so Charles was slightly fuming as he read it. Then, he sighed, realizing Erik probably had a point; it wasn’t perfect. With the help of his documents and the few sentences Erik highlighted, he started it all over again.

When he agrees with Charles (for once), the document comes back with a discreet check mark. A satisfying sense of accomplishment then caresses the telepath’s mediatory mind.

When someone submits Erik a report or a proposition he mostly agrees with but he knows Charles won’t, he passes it on with a memo with “Ask Charles” written on it. Most of the time, however, they are filled with cross-outs and harsh words and exclamation points. Charles remembers Emma Maximoff’s over-punctuation, and for the first time in weeks the thought of it steals an amused, albeit sad smile on his lips.

Oh, he misses her. He misses them both dearly.

A few days after that, it seems like Erik must be going through a bad day, because not only does Charles hear muffled shouts and several people in suit rush out the corridor in which both their modest studies are, but a few minutes later, the undergraduate who works at the libes timidly brings Charles what must have been the new report on mutant delinquency in educational structures.

And if the angry cross barring the text that is now annotated with a “White male supremacist bullshit” is anything to go by, Erik probably didn’t receive the agents with tea and flowers.

Surprisingly, a chuckle of delight escapes Charles’ lips. Before he realizes it, he is smiling at the piece of paper and taking his fountain pen to comment, “Granted”.

No, when he chose the mutant through spite and duty, Charles did not expect them to start sending each other messages again, like they did through Emma. But still, gradually, bit by bit, part of Erik starts to fit into Charles’ everyday life once more. Nothing changes.

Nothing changes; they don’t chat, they are hardly even civil to each other. Some would think it unhealthy, but Charles call it being responsible. The entire Emma affair taught him not to hope at all, as far as the mutant is concerned. It taught him not to trust him foolishly. Most days, having to fight with Erik is exhausting. But not a day passes without his being pleased to go to the uni and read the mutant’s sharply intelligent notes.

Charles is actually considering whether the end might sometimes justify the means.

 

*

 

“It’s good that you came, Professor. It’s been such a long time since we saw you completely wasted. Like, a month or so.”

“Thank you, Sean,” Charles answers dubiously with a short laugh, “but I don’t plan on getting overly drunk tonight. I have the most important meeting to attend at—”

“Stop, stop, someone stop him!” Alex chimes in, actually going as far as trying to put his hand over Charles’ mouth, and everyone chuckles as they battle for a few seconds, reducing the Professor to his twenty year-old self all over again.

When he then instinctively runs a hand in his hair to fix them, everyone teases him, and he concedes a smile good-naturedly. It’s good to be with them. He hasn’t taken the time to relax in so long. An unfamiliar wall is partly keeping him from connecting completely with them however, and Charles wonders if his needs aren’t starting to evolve.

“No more making fun of me if you want me to pay for your drinks.” He warns, and a chorus of disappointed complaints answer him. They have already drunk more Jägerbomb than they can afford though, so he doesn’t have much of a choice. “Let me fetch them for you.”

But Charles doesn’t go farther than a step before he freezes completely where he stands, causing Alex to bump into him.

“Oye!”

“Excuse me, Alex,” Charles apologizes hurriedly, but already his attention is back to the bar.

Where Erik is heading with a purposeful walk, a predatory look in his determined eyes.

Towards a woman. Sitting alone at the bar, her long brown hair curving to her petite waist… Alicia. Charles’ heart leaps when he understands what Erik is going to do. Because, in one fluid, undulating motion, Erik confidently sits next to her, and engages her right away. Charles can only see his broad shoulders now, the white shirt sticking to his supple muscles and the long of his elongated torso, but his heart constricts with an ugly jealousy when Erik turns his face to her, close, intimate, and starts smiling as they talk. It’s —

He has such a beautiful smile.

He’s flirting with Alicia.

The jealousy withers instantly into something bitterly sad, something Charles thought he would have gotten rid of by now. When did Erik last smile to me?

“Oh, fuck, I didn’t know he’d be there tonight. I know you two can’t be in the same room these days, sorry, Prof, just ignore him, alright? I’ll go fetch the drinks myself.” Alex offers, tapping Charles on the back. “He won’t stay long anyway. Usually Erik comes long enough to have a drink and locate his prey of the evening. Look at him, acting so flirty and friendly — the guy’s got some skill. I’ve seen him adapt depending on the girl, but it seems like he decided that one would prefer the direct approach.”

Charles merely nods, and answers with a trailing few syllables. The sight hurts, but the way Erik is acting, unleashing a very male, very sexual aura as he stares into Alicia’s eyes like he could pin her to him, sweetening his dominance by a smile that is completely fabricated, Charles can see it now — it mesmerizes him. Oh, damn it all, if he could be her... If only Erik could… pin him. Oh, God, the fantasies. Erik’s intense eyes and feral snarl could do anything to him. But it is all pointless, isn’t it?

Sometimes it’s just so tempting to believe he could just make Erik think he’s a woman — but that would be wrong, even for a night, even for an hour, wouldn’t it?

And… Wasn’t Erik supposed to be dating Emma Frost? At this point, Charles can’t decide if Erik is a cheater, if they are a promiscuous couple, or if he simply got it wrong from the start.

Alex clearly misunderstands his dazed immobility. “You already know Alicia, don’t you, Charles? I hope you two weren’t serious? It would make me uneasy too if a guy kept collecting the girls I take to my bed.”

Collecti— What? Charles is so taken aback he actually turns to Alex to blink a few times, blurting, “I beg your pardon?”

“You know,” Alex insists, “I’m talking about how Lehnsherr literally hunts down your flirts one after the other. It’s just gossip, but I personally haven’t seen him hitting on a woman you haven’t dated yourself.”

A few minutes later, Erik puts his hand between Alicia’s shoulder blades as the woman stands up and finally follows him. On their way out, the mutant’s eyes wander in the room slowly and — lock with Charles’. Quiet. His shock sours. He leaves early.

Once home, Charles spends a very long, very lonely and heated time in his bed thinking about Erik, and the way he could have magically joined them in bed. The possibilities leave him breathless, leave his chest heaving and cold with droplets of sweat, but he focuses so much on Erik, on feeling Erik’s lips against his mouth and body, his tongue licking the salt off his skin, that he ends up thinking about him, and only him. After everything, Charles knows he still wouldn’t be able to share Erik, maybe even if he only got that one chance, that one night.

Not Erik.

Anyone, but Erik.

 

*

 

[3:02 pm, sent to : Most Amazing Sister]
I’m going to kill him

[3:02 pm, sent to : Most Amazing Sister]
I’m going to fucking murder him, Raven

[3:02 pm, sent to : Most Amazing Sister]
Fucking prick

[3:03 pm, from : Most Amazing Sister]
YES!!! Finally! Do something, I’m bored and he deserves it
What did he do this time?

[3:04 pm, sent to : Most Amazing Sister]
IMG_2147.jpg

[3:04 pm, from : Most Amazing Sister]
Why is there a paper ball resting in the middle of your desk?

[3:04 pm, from : Most Amazing Sister]
OMG NO he didn’t?!? I’m laughing so hard

[3:05 pm, sent to : Most Amazing Sister]
This is all that remains of the Rules and Regulations amendments I spent the last three weeks working on WITH HIM. I am supposed to bring it to adm council in less than an hour

[3:05 pm, from : Most Amazing Sister]
Look at the bright side…

[3:05 pm, sent to : Most Amazing Sister]
Don’t

[3:05 pm, from : Most Amazing Sister]
Now you don’t have to bring them, you can throw it across the corridor

[3:05 pm, sent to : Most Amazing Sister]
Raven!

[3:06 pm, from : Most Amazing Sister]
Sorry, Charles. That’s just so horrible, I’m dying. Don’t panic. I’m sure you have a PDF file of it. Print it, and give that one to them. I’m certain I agreed with Erik content wise, but you don’t have a choice, honestly.

[3:07 pm, to :  Erik; Unsent]
You’re such a vile s

Pinching the bridge of his nose between two fingers, Charles breathes in deeply, filling his lungs with much needed calm. He can’t do this. He can’t straight out rule out The Brotherhood’s opinion on this matter if he wants to build a world of peace. He can’t insult Erik either for the same reason. But Charles also cannot insult Erik because he knows why he’s been feeling quite horrible since last night, and he has to separate his persistent feelings and frustrated libido from their professional partnership.

They haven’t addressed each other directly since that fated day. But Charles doesn’t have the time to send a memo in the wind and wait for the divine reply by owl. A text won’t do either.

Shutting up his eyes even tighter with a last inhale, Charles dials Erik’s number and tries to tame and moderate the trembling anger bristling his throat. After a few loud seconds, the mutant answers.

“Erik?”

“Charles?”

It is very obvious from the formal, strained tone of their voices that this simple call ends in itself the precarious amnesty between them.

“Would you be so kind as to come right about now? I think we need to talk.”

 

Chapter Text

 

  

“As the saying goes, there’s no honey without bees.”
— Niccolò Machiavelli, Mandragola

 

*

 

“Could you come here right about now? I think we need to talk.”

Even though Erik’s surprise only lasts about a second, the distant buzzing of the water heater overflows his hearing as he freezes mid-motion, completely forgetting about the task at hand. He manages to finish it, and gathers his tools to get up in the next moment. The joints of his knees crack.

He hasn’t actually heard Charles in so long his whole body is on alert, ready to pounce; his high-strung heartbeat increased with adrenaline as soon as he saw the name displayed on his phone.

“Talk about what?” He asks gingerly whilst heading for the exit door of the boiler room that Emma’s client needed him to take a look at.

“You know full well about what.”

The tightly repressed irritation in Charles’ voice is chilling to his ears; a faint alarm tickles down his chest like little bells made of glass, yet Erik can’t help but notice that the uni darling’s British accent picks up dramatically when he’s angered. Does this also happen in bed? If Erik got him loose and begging for his tongue, or if Charles fucked him like the selfish bastard he might be with women, would he say, “Erik, please, Erik…”, “Erik, you’re tight .” with those heightened consonants that makes his blood boil in envy?

Despite fast, disoriented pulsing of his blood in his body, Erik tenses. Is Charles… really calling him to speak about Alicia?

“I don’t.” He lies.

A long, deep exhale at the other end of the line. Sulfurous — the kind that foretells the blast of the volcanic explosion. His focus sharpens.

“Listen, Erik,” and the consonants dance — jump, twirl, “all you’re going to accomplish if you don’t want to cooperate is to harm the cause for fellow mutants, which I know is not your objective.”

Oh. Charles is calling him about the document. Ethical, conscientious, righteous Charles, always willing to put on his white cape while Erik was fucking one of his one-night stands not ten hours ago. Perhaps unfortunately, he’s not calling about that.

“I can only reach a satisfactory compromise if I have everyone’s opinion, and you know I value yours.” He goes on, prompting an instinctive sigh out of Erik’s nostrils when the exasperated words taste too sweet on the bitter wound. Surely, said wound would split itself open willingly all over again, for that kind of praise. You’re sick. You’re plain sick. “Can you come here? If you don’t, I’ll simply hand them my version.”

“Your version is so flawed I’m stunned you’re trying to pass it as a solution, Charles. I wouldn’t be able to fix it in a week if I tried.”

“Well, thank you for that.” Ah, he’s hurt. “And you have fifty minutes, not a week. Acting like a petulant child won’t serve your interests, I’m warning you.”

The last sentence stings. Erik sets his jaw to deflect the blow — Charles might very well be referring to his other childish attempt to get closer to him by creating a fake Facebook account, but he doesn’t answer before he calms down. If he does, and engages Charles on the topic, he is sure to end up beaten down and bleeding. He used to think his obtrusive feelings were a stupid crush; knows better, now. They’re too painful to be a crush, not fleeting enough.

In his peripheral vision, he spots Emma leaning expectantly against a wall, and he swiftly turns away as his mind grumbles in annoyance.

“I can’t come right now, I’m working.” He hisses in a lower voice. “I simply picked up because I thought…” Because I thought something happened to you. Because I thought you needed me.

He had picked up so quickly, then.

Because Charles always had the upper-hand, and Erik doesn’t have to think about it; his instinct is to care for Charles if given the chance, even if the telepath loathes him more than anyone else in uni. He wants to do good by him especially now, now that Erik’s had to helplessly witness him fall apart by his own fault, now that he has had to deal with the frustration of watching others fix his mistakes.

His voice trailed and halted, biting back the foolish words.

“Yes?”

The cursed voice sounds unbearably softer — curious — and Erik sighs again, watching Emma out of the corner of his eyes. He wants to go help Charles. A full week passed before Emma stopped reproaching him to have made the cute little posh boy telepath suffer, but Erik doesn’t think she would have batted an eyelid if they didn’t share the same mutation. She explained to him why, succinctly.

You owe him that, Emma’s voice remarks in his head right now, and despite a new surge in his otherwise very steady annoyance, Erik isn’t surprised to realize she was reading his thoughts.

Get out , he barks, but already he is turning to the exit.

“Nevermind.” He finally tells Charles. “I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”

“Thank you.”

Um Gott— “Don’t thank me.” He growls.

“Trust me, Erik, I am merely trying to be polite, here.”

“Well, don’t.”

The strained, crackling silence that follows feels peculiar; after this outburst, they both should have hung up crossly, but Erik is left waiting with his mouth slightly agape, with the confused and meek need to keep talking to Charles, and he is a bit taken aback when he realizes the other mutant didn’t end the communication either.

“Charles?” He asks, to make sure.

“I’m still here.”

Even though his voice wasn’t kind by any means, an odd bashfulness snakes to Erik’s throat and cheeks. He decides to lower his head slightly and keep striding to the exit of Frost Events. Charles seems fine with the idea of continuing the conversation this way — it will hardly be a luxury, considering the amount of things on which they disagree. They only have three quarters of an hour left.

“So, I hope you realize the entire paragraph about medical care was complete garbage. Your refusal to appoint a mutant doctor is absolutely irrational, Charles.”

“Oh, for pity’s sa-”

 

*

 

“I don’t see why having a mutant nurse at uni instead of a human one will make us look like extremists!”

“I’m not saying-”

“I hope you’re coming at me with better arguments —”

“Let me speak, Erik!

“As soon as you will start —”

Let me fucking speak, will you?”

Eighteen minutes later, and they have yet to agree and move on to one of the other twenty-seven topics they disagree on as far as the Rules and Regulations amendments are concerned. As expected, the conversation almost instantly turned sour and venomous, charging the air with electricity that courses and lashes along the wall, but, contrary to when they were speaking on the phone, now — now Erik can actually see Charles getting furious, his hands slamming his wooden desk uncharacteristically as the shocking blue eyes throw their disbelieving disgust at him, his mouth twisting, pinching, swelling with words that justify his moot point.

They are both slightly panting. They are both pretending they aren’t.

“Fine, then,” Erik huffs, trying not to gasp for air, “speak.”

Thank you.

Two minutes ago, in his formal grey suit framing his comely figure, Charles was stately. He stood like a prince in his castle, negotiating treaties with ceremony and elegance and the nicest ass of the realm. Erik is this close to add in the regulations that Charles Xavier shouldn’t be allowed to wander in uni in tailored pants after 6. Now though, the telepath seems to be itching to get rid of his trademark upper-class jacket. His white shirt is buttoned all the way up to his neck, which looks sweaty and uncomfortably warm to the touch. Erik just wants to rip it and lick his skin.

Given how Charles’ hands tremble and turn into sturdy fists once again, Erik wonders if he’s not actually considering punching him. Come on, Charles. Come on, do it, I’m waiting. They are standing at opposite ends of the room, facing each other boastfully, even if Erik is aware that his own expression must be one of a ravenous predator ready to tear apart his prey with his teeth.

The telepath eventually inhales through his nostrils, breaking their intense, unwavering eye contact to seemingly back down and focus on the situation. Charles goes as far as organizing papers on his desk, a gesture which not only looks fruitless, but also reveals a bit more of his irritated unease.

“I’m ready to concede this point,” he explains, “it shouldn’t be too much trouble to convince the board that a mutant doctor would be qualified to treat non-mutant humans, but would also happen to have a specialization in handling students with the X-Gene.”

Erik is so unused to having the last word with him that the abrupt stillness of the atmosphere throws him off for a few seconds, and he finds himself suddenly purposeless. Distractedly, he ends up muttering, “At last”, but he mostly wonders what will happen now.

The silence doesn’t stretch for too long.

“Now, I hope you’re going to be amenable to forgetting your idea of creating an all-mutant sports team. We don’t have the budget, and I’d rather work on access to mutant culture than on further isolating mutants and creating barriers between us all.”

And Charles accused him of being adept at realpolitik . The cunning Machiavellian politician. Erik’s face creases with discontentment.

When he straight out refuses, the dormant spark alights once again, instantly, turning the air in their lungs into moist flames that they spit as they start arguing again with shouts that echo far into the corridors. With every new minute the tension in the room gets thicker, squeezing their mutual hate and resentment out of their stomach to throw it in the other’s face.

Erik doubts either of them would physically be able to stop, at this point. Charles would probably yield and leave with his stupid amendments, slamming the door on his way out, but Erik would go after him, he would yell everything that is wrong with his ideas, until Charles would turn around and grab him by the thin fabric of his black turtleneck to push him against a wall.

It hurts, it feels good and it hurts deep inside him to argue so vehemently with Charles, and the telepath looks like he is desperately clawing at his last bit of reason to concentrate on getting the work done, but he is also too emotional.

Erik inwardly curses when Charles’ eyes become rimmed with a burning red. His lacrimal duct has always been directly connected to his emotions; whenever he would become moved or outraged, blood vessels would start exploding in his expressive gaze, ruining Erik, who would lose his composure and forget what they were speaking about.

This is what is happening right now; Charles suddenly gulps down and shakes slightly with his indignant inability to keep his emotions in check. He is obviously waiting for Erik’s reply, but Erik has no idea what the mutant has been saying for the past ten seconds.

Instead, he asks, “Are you going to cry again?”

But this was obviously the wrong thing to say, because Charles pales and then instantly turns bright red with rage and shame, yelling, “ Fuck you, Erik! Fuck you!”

And before he can voice his mild astonishment at hearing him swear, the other mutant grabs the first thing he can find on his desk — an iron frame, no, a mug of tea — and throws it to his face with such unadulterated temper it could have knocked him out if he had not managed to deviate it.

Charles looks adorably stunned when he realizes Erik was able to dodge without moving anything more than two of his fingers — with disdain, an eyebrow raised in insolent mocking. The porcelain crashes behind him loudly, sending shrapnels across the room which Charles distractedly watches, blinking. It’s obvious he wasn’t expecting that Erik could control the mug.

Luckily for him, it was embroidered with gold.

He was actually trying to hit him.

Not an ounce of remorse bathes in the deep clear lakes of Charles’ furious eyes, but a deeper guilt flashes under his sobering tantrum. Charles’ eyes are like the tides; they carry his feelings to the shore of his lashes, and disappear as soon as they come, again and again, on demand, merciless to the powerless witness. This time, the guilt obviously comes from the breach the mutant made in his precious non-violent principles, but a blinding energy starts running in Erik’s veins when he realizes he has never seen Charles so angry . He is actually making him go past his limits, and he can’t help it , he needs it, he wants to keep pushing.

“Using a human trick, Charles?” He taunts, taking a step forward when the telepath turns around and leans against the desk, light-headed, his back to Erik.

He’s trying to take his breath back, but Erik needs him to fight. The foul words spill out of him, pinning his ugly jealousy between them for the whole world to see.

“Are you really reduced to not even using your powers to fight? Or do you think it more noble to further blend in and suppress them, like you suppress many other things? You do seem to like them a little too much, your disgusting homo-sapiens. Is it because you are too busy fucking the entire human population that you can’t even give me a consistent paper to proofread?”

“How dare you.” Comes the howl.

Instantly, Erik knows he hit a nerve. Charles jerks upright and whirls around, slapping him with his troubling eyes — wet again, red again — and he croaks, “After what you’ve… Oh, that’s rich.

A single tear manages to escape the net of his thick eyelashes to sprint down his cheek unnoticed; Charles doesn’t seem to feel it as he suddenly begins walking around the desk. Erik’s eyes are quicker than ever to detail everything about him, everything that he wants. He wants everything. Body, mind and spirit, all cupped in his hands gently.

Incidentally, Erik notices a stolen glance at his waist. It’s not the first.

The air is barely breathable, it needs to explode.

Distantly, he wonders if the atmosphere is Charles’ doing. Because, suddenly, the mutant cracks a smile. Coquettish, amused. In an instant, the tide retreats and Erik is facing the confident Charles Xavier he also fell in love with.

With the full power of his devious charms turned to him, Erik immediately feels defenseless.

Charles is shorter than he is. That’s one of the first thoughts to cross his mind when the telepath comes unbearably close. The smile turns complacent, smug on his red, highly distracting lips. Erik is suddenly very aware that his heart is too voluminous for his chest — it’s about to crack. Charles is so charming, even when he’s quite evidently trying to hurt him.

Does he know what he is doing to him? He must know.

“Would you happen to be jealous of my success in the end, Erik?” He inquires with a sweet laugh, cocking his head to the side in his most inadvertently seducing move. The question throws him off.

“What are you talking about?” He retorts, almost blurting, but already, the bite in his voice is softer, huskier. Damn him. They’ve never been so close before.

He could just… His eyes fall on the demonic lips. They must be so soft.

“I’ve heard the rumors — thank you for confirming it for me yesterday. You really can’t be as good as they say you are if you only manage to get the ones I’m done with.”

His arrogant fool, splitting his own soul to fight back. Charles is acting so unlike himself to try and hurt Erik’s ego by bringing up women, but it’s obvious he’s highly uncomfortable with what he just said. He can’t possibly know, how relieved Erik is right now, to see that new vicious side of him, the one who will fight nasty to match the rotten pain that came with Erik’s unrequited love for him.

But all the Brotherhood leader cares about at this moment is their alluring proximity: the way Charles shifts his weight with caution when Erik tilts his body towards him experimentally, the way his intelligent irises dance as they finally get back to studying Erik’s face, his eyes, the pores of his skin, his mouth, his eyes again, with melting uncertainty.

Erik knows those looks. He’s known Charles for too long.

It’s sexual attraction.

Charles wants me.

Suddenly, the world starts spinning in his mind, and Erik doesn’t care why, he doesn’t care how this happened along the way, he only knows there is a chance that Charles may want him too in this precise moment, even as they are fighting, so the telepath’s last sentence finally bruises him with a whole new meaning. You can’t be that good .

Is he taunting me?

He smirks, like a blade being unsheathed. Charles reacts instantly; his eyes widen slightly, and darken to an attractive midnight blue as Erik takes another step forward but, even if he partly turns sideways, beautifully fierce and defensive, he doesn’t back down. He doesn’t get away from Erik’s face, of which the nose and lips are now close enough to graze over his.

Intoxicating.

The enticing skin tickles his flesh.

So close… He can almost — He can taste Charles’ emotions. They’re ready to burst.

Intoxicated.

The only thing separating them now is the crackling tension turning their breaths into hectic sparks of heat. The memory of the stolen nudes returns full force to burn his nerves; he could have this. If this is the way Charles wants it, then Erik will give it to him.

Maybe Charles Xavier would do it with anyone , but Erik is willing to take anything .

Trying his calculated luck a bit further, Erik’s mouth slowly starts hovering over the revered skin, tracing the cheek, his jaw, before it heads for an ear framed by a lock of brown hair. Charles’ breath catches. Good. You can’t be that good. Erik could inhale his smell, he could lick and bite and force him into his arms right now if he wanted to. He has never wanted something so bad in his life than seeing Charles respond willingly to this thrilling moment.

“I’ll show you how good I am.” He whispers, feeding the stilled ire tensing their bodies.

 

Charles had plenty of time to put an end to the way things are dramatically escalating in his study , where anyone could walk in . But the few seconds before Erik kisses him, time slows, and slows, forcing him to feel Erik’s hot breath against his prickled skin in great detail. So, when he trails to his ear, wetting it with his ungodly promise, the only thing Charles could have done, warily, pleadingly, would’ve been to arch and expose his neck for the mutant to explore with his mouth. And beg for a taste. Despite his anger.

Despite everything.

And they can’t have that now, can they?

God, what is Erik doing? Why now? Charles wants to feel his warmth and muscled, sharp curves against his body, but knows how wrong it is. Erik is seemingly taken, straight, and he already made great fun of his attraction towards him, using it ruthlessly to humiliate him. Is this all a trick? If this is… There’s no way he will be able to end the sensual stroke of Erik’s breathing against his tender skin. And yet, he has to.

Just a second more, then. Just one.

I’ll show you how good I am. A tremor races down Charles’ spine, dampening even more his shirt and jacket with current-driven sweat, and the few seconds are suddenly over — too late. Erik slowly comes back in front of him, and, in the chastest brush of lips, in a way which is unbearably softer than anything the telepath could have ever imagined, he kisses him.

Had he kissed him any differently, maybe Charles would’ve had the presence of mind to strike back; instead, his resolve melts for the tiniest second, like a lone snowflake under the deceiving chill of warm skin.

Distinctly, he thinks, Yes. All this time, this is what I have been waiting for.

All in all, the kiss barely lasts a second, even if the mutant remains tantalizingly glued to his face, his aquiline nose teasing his cheek, his body gradually pressing to his, erotic and hot, but Charles — A startled sigh escapes him.

How painfully frustrating that Erik forbade him to read his mind at all, because right now… This is… the worst kind of cock-block for a telepath; attraction and wariness mix in hot, ragged exhalations between them, drawing them closer and closer, inch by inch, but yet another mental wall is separating them. Erik doesn’t want him, for who he is. Erik doesn’t even like him. A glass of lies and neatly-butchered expectations separates them still, stifles Charles’ heart, which throws itself at the cage of his ribs aimlessly. He didn’t want this from Erik.

This is just Erik’s body, he thinks with stinging disappointment , I have no claim over his despicable, beautiful mind.

But oh God, he needs it. He needs more than this teasing brush of flesh. Heavens above, with only the tip of his lips, Erik Lehnsherr managed to suspend his being. Disorganize his brain. Charles can hear his own breathing halt, can feel his nerves painfully springing to life everywhere the mutant comes close to. He needs — He can’t — They can’t

But Erik kisses him again, more firmly this time, with a satisfied hum , and as soon as he runs his tongue over Charles’ lips, electrifying him from his mouth to the end of his spine, he’s done for.

Pleasure spreads across the tip of his lips like wildfire. We could have been so good together, my friend. What pity you decided to crush me instead.

Charles doesn’t even have the time to think about protesting.

All of a sudden, Erik’s tongue passes his lips in the most suggestive intrusion, invading his mouth and making him dizzy in less than a split second. Oh, he feels wonderful. Charles’ head spins as he thinks, bewildered, he is too handsome, God help me, this man is too unfairly perfect, in spite of his mouth moaning in anger. He wants to touch him and punch Erik everywhere — he wants to brush his chiseled jaw, the broad panes of his shoulder blades, his narrow hips, he wants to grab his hair punishingly. Kissing Erik feels too bloody good. You shouldn’t be allowed to feel like this, my deceitful friend. You should taste like poison.

You surprisingly taste like mint, instead. Warm, supple, honey-sweetened mint overrunning my senses.

Everything about Erik Lehnsherr is so powerfully male, dominant and utterly unsettling that Charles keeps being thrown off balance minutely, but deep inside him, despite everything, a distant voice tauntingly chants , this is it, it was Erik all along.

Too bad for you, Charles, this is what you were waiting for in your life. Get over it, find another Erik.

There is no other Erik.

In the stunned, immobile silence of the room, their clothes shuffle awkwardly. Their hands follow, in an atomic wave of blistering desperation, prompting a disconnected, mutual moan between them. Strangely, it is the feeling of Erik’s large hand groping his ass decisively which brings some sense back into Charles, and he almost yelps.

God. They can’t do this. Erik, whatever Erik is thinking, whatever Erik is plotting, Charles can’t let him be proved right after what he’s done to him.

Stupid prick. He swears internally, before he braces himself and brutally forces them apart with two hands fisted in Erik’s stupidly fitting turtleneck. Oh, this hurts. The battle against hope is more painful than ever with the long body of the mutant pressed against him invitingly. A wet sound covers their wild panting for a second, and, for good measure, Charles gives Erik a ruthless shove.

With the force of it, Erik takes a step back. Charles doesn’t let go.

“Wha-What are you doing?” He yells, furious, furious to be so vulnerable to him and so suddenly inarticulate. Powerless. He’s a powerless fool next to him.

Because, when Erik’s blazing gaze finally, finally punches him with the full force of its hectic, complete desire, passion at its purest rawness boils the metal in the mutant’s eyes. Twirling like flames in their blue-ringed crucibles, the grey irises wither progressively under the deep black of his blown wild pupils. Erik is staring at him like an animal would, his thin pink lips slightly parted.

Drinking their need from the source seems more compelling than anything, in that instant.

Charles doesn’t try anything again when Erik forces them back together resolutely and laces his fingers in his wavy hair to pin him to his mouth and devour him.

God help me, but I don’t care. I don’t care what he thinks of me. I need this.

He curses, struggles for a few seconds in his powerful arms, which aren’t stronger than his, but in the end Charles makes the deliberate, weak choice not to use his telepathy to put the mutant to sleep; with half-lidded eyes drowned in shame and yielding, he finally kisses Erik back heatedly.

There are many things he should have said or asked, such as “Do you have a girlfriend?” or “Does she agree with this? ”, but Charles is a coward. He would rather not know than take action to stop all of this before it’s too late, and he would rather not know than live with the guilt of having kissed Erik nonetheless. Because he isn’t certain he will stop this if Erik is indeed cheating.

This one-time thing is already leaving the most acrid Machiavellian taste in his constricted throat. Maybe Erik will rid him of the salted flavor for a while. Charles dearly hopes so.

As soon as he kisses him back, Erik’s chest expands with a long, shattered inhale and, all at once, Charles ends up crushed against his own desk in a few invisible yet forceful steps. Hisses in pain and shameful want. Frees his mouth to bite his own lip.

He won’t beg. They may be kissing viciously instead of properly fighting right now, but he won’t beg Erik.

His cock is already straining against the cage of his trousers, trapped between them. When Erik angles himself just so, he — Oh. Every demanding touch, every secretive whisper feels like a fantasy. Everything is a punch. A hazy fever conveniently clouds Charles’ most rational thoughts, until he forgets all about his questions regarding the mutant’s previous experience with men. Because Erik — Erik is so surprisingly at ease with this.

“Are you already like this just from kissing, Charles?” Erik practically growls against his lips.

Before he can open his eyes, Charles feels a mouth trailing down his jaw to his neck, and — He has been kissed in the neck countless times in the past, so he has no idea what causes him exactly to react so vehemently to Erik’s tongue and lips eating and licking his sweaty skin. He pants, arches his back. Can’t stifle back his astonished moans. It would tickle horribly if it wasn’t so incredibly good , and a sharp pleasure diffuses its heat across his entire body, starting from the stiff tendons of his neck. He doesn’t want this to stop.

“God… Oh , oh, yes, fuck yes —” His bottom lip bruises slightly when his teeth run over it again to repress the praise.

Charles is aware Erik glided his oh surprisingly tender hands over the long of his shoulders and arms to gently take off his grey jacket, leaving him in a sweaty white shirt; he knows the mutant is now making a very quick job of the buttons of said shirt to move aside his collar in order to better plunge into the hollow of his neck, nipping, licking, kissing hungrily every parcel of Charles’ skin that he finds, and back again, but the telepath doesn’t want it to stop.

“Breathe, Charles.” Comes the hot mocking. “Don’t die on me, we’re just getting started.”

His head thrown backwards, Charles closes his eyes and moans freely when the mutant reaches that spot — he wasn’t aware he had a spot. His fingers find Erik’s soft hair to keep him there with a hand. Please, please , more. Charles is not only achingly hard, and delirious for any kind of friction, but his whole body is on fire, alive and blazing , and he needs —

“Do you know how you look right now?” Erik’s voice feels like being whipped with velvet. Warm, soft velvet inflicting pain. Charles wants soft welts of it on his skin. “The honorable Charles Xavier, all flushed by my tongue. You look like you can’t get enough of me. Is it your trick to have them on their knees?”

He violently gets back to earth when the sound of his own belt being unbuttoned reaches his ears. His heart stills. Erik is now ravenously kissing his collarbone, and lower, blindly, like a newborn kitten looking for milk, while his hands are already fumbling near his crotch. Charles’ breath catches when his heart finally starts thumping against Erik’s mouth.

For a second he is afraid the mutant will swallow it.

“Please,” Erik suddenly croaks in a frantic, desperate, shrapnel-cracked voice deep as a warm summer night, “please, Charles, let me.”

Erik drops to his knees, making the meaning of his words very clear to Charles, whose breathing starts to race, spurred on by his amazed shock. He blinks. What… It only gets worse when the mutant starts kissing down his hip bone with shattered little sighs, while a hand firmly takes hold of Charles’ sensitive cock to free it from his straining boxer briefs.

Erik’s large, slightly calloused hand around him is the wildest thing he has ever experienced; for a second, he’s afraid to black out. Instead, Charles cries out a blunt moan. His — quite embarrassingly — copiously leaking cock springs free between them, a truly obscene sight to be displayed in the office of the university’s student representative, but Charles doesn’t have time to think; he’s mesmerized.

For a second, it seems as if Erik’s assertive hands shake a little. He looks like an addict in withdrawal. Stopping now would probably tear Charles’ mind apart.

“Erik,” he hears himself try reasonably, forcing the painful, trembling words out while he is still able to forget how good this sight is, but he does not sound half as convinced as he would’ve liked, “we can’t do this here, it’s…”

“Let me. Charles.” Erik pleads again with his eyes on the prize, sounding broken, sounding as if not putting Charles into his mouth would be what would kill him, and it doesn’t make any sense. But before he can think about it, a wet, warm heat suddenly engulfs his genitals and he doubles up in shock with a muffled shout.

“Er-” Chomping down on his lower lip is the only way he manages not to moan Erik’s name, but the mutant doesn’t stop in any case, nor does he let Charles time to recover. Without any regard whatsoever for the usual assumption of fore play, Erik is presently proceeding to give him head expertly, sucking him dry right from the start, his head bobbing back and forth. Charles yelps.

“Oh! God, oh God, yes.”

By all means, this is uncomfortably too much at once, but — But for a few seconds, only the very indecent sounds of Erik’s slurping and deep moans sweep his hearing in the quiet study, and — God help him.

This is all extremely improper, but when Charles manages to get used to the feeling and sits straighter against the desk so as to take a look at Erik , he revels in the way the mutant’s cheeks hollow to glide along his shaft, underlining the sharp lines of his cheekbones and jaw… Damn it all, damn him, he is a damnably sexy man, down from his dark eyelashes which cover hazy, almost sleepy, misty-hued eyes, to his long, strong and masculine body stilled by his industrious dedication of swallowing Charles whole repeatedly.

Charles’ voiceless throat works uselessly to wet his sawdust-dry mouth; his hand bounces lightly against the mutant’s scalp with each back and forth movement, lewd, depravedly, and it’s so addictive to make Erik do that to him .

Charles isn’t straight. As he watches wide-eyed the sight at his hips, it dawns upon him. He is absolutely, decidedly, irrevocably not straight.

Oh, and Erik is indeed very partial to foreplay, there is no doubt whatsoever about that. He never — Charles has never seen someone enjoying themselves so much while giving a blowjob. The angriest scowl is currently frowning the mutant’s focused features, making him look something between forced and greedy as he starts licking Charles’ balls and attempts to take them both into his mouth, and it’s… Oh, oh Lord, he’s not going to last two full minutes if he keeps watching Erik. Where in all heavens is this man’s gag reflex?

“You — You’ve done this before, haven’t you?” It’s not a question — As soon as Erik started using his tongue and effortlessly brought him to the edge, Charles realized that the mutant has some experience with men. How… Why would he…?

But Erik doesn’t answer, merely glances at him with elusive eyes quickly going back to their deliciously indecent artwork. It is simply excruciatingly irritating not to be able to read his thoughts right now. Oh, the pleasure is there alright — it’s almost too much, he needs to calm down, he can’t lose his composure in front of Erik , of all people — but Charles… Charles has to do his very best to hold back and not extend his powers to the chaotic buzzing rushing out of the mutant’s mind. It’s almost as hard as not coming down this surprisingly willing throat.

Don’t read my mind!

The barking order drops the temperature in his heated body, adding cold shudders to the ceaseless, glowing shivers. And every time that Charles gets tempted because Erik is so passionate and incredible, loneliness quickly flashes its poison in his chest. Right to his tight throat and chest. What am I doing? This is ridiculous. I want so much more than this with him.

He stays away from his mind.

With dazed eyes, Charles looks at the way his own stomach clenches as Erik licks him from base to top with his eyes shut, groaning when he can finally take him back into his mouth to fill it to the back of his throat. Charles wants to weep of sheer pleasure and affliction. I can’t stop him. I just can’t.

“Ow!” He winces, however, when the mutant gets a little bit too enthusiastic. “For fuck’s sake, be gentle .”

Somehow, amazingly, the order seems to elicit a brief shiver out of Erik. It courses through his arched, clad back, slightly canting his hips for a second, like the flexible stretching of a cat under a caress. A compliant moan answers Charles before the mutant obediently draws back to kiss his cock with open mouth kisses, almost devotedly — almost asking for forgiveness. All the while, Charles’ hand remains in his hair, fisted now, not to stroke him with irrepressible, infinite, loathed fondness.

“Yes, like this,” his lips yet mumble of their own accord, “exactly like this, Erik, that’s perfect. Keep going.”

He finds a bit of emotional balance when he firmly presses Erik’s face and nose against his crotch, heightening his own arousal to an extreme degree when the mutant complies eagerly and whimpers with incoherent German babbling around his prick. And Charles is melting. Now, of all times, of all people, he’s melting under Erik Lehnsherr’s touch . This is so good. He can’t think. He loves Erik’s touch so much, every parcel of skin the man has brushed is on fire, every parcel of unscathed flesh is begging for his rough treatment.

The liquefied gold of lazy pleasure tingles warmly everywhere through his body. Everywhere but his trachea. There, the prickling is ice, biting, and turns to defeated tears when it melts. He’s going to reget this tremendously.

Already his heart and mind altogether agree to warn him.

Beware, Charles. Beware of the raw stitches thinly stretched over your newly soothed heartbreak.

Erik is so stunning. And he is so clever, so incredibly cunning and steadfast in everything he does. It’s unfair, it’s all extremely unfair.

Beware, Charles, beware of the heartbreak.

“Which way do you want it, Charles?”

The question tears him from his dazed trance. Below him, Erik is on his knees, maintaining a hard grip on his hips — hard, but dishonestly cushioned by the two thumbs rubbing circles into the meatiest part of the telepath’s flesh — as his unyielding blue eyes burn so resolutely it looks like he’s glowering at Charles. But his thin pink lips are smeared with saliva, glistening, and the way Erik parts them as he waits for the answer softens him unbearably.

He loves him so. It’s unfair.

Their chests are heaving, but surprisingly, Charles is panting the most, and he clearly has to fight to surface back to the real world. Which way. He understood what lies behind the question, he knows what Erik wants to know, but it takes him several seconds to register and come up with an articulate answer.

“Charles.” He insists, tugging at his hips when the telepath only manages to bite his bottom lip distractedly, pondering his answer with a serious air.

Oh God, he can’t — he can’t think, he can’t choose. Pleasure and arousal saturate his brain with confused, yielding desire, and he — only knows he wants more. Is Erik offering... to let him fuck him? This is— Oh, to fuck Erik senseless after everything he’s done to him… To have him moan and swear huskily by his doing … To have him take his cock and make him come with his name on his sealed lips…

“I… you…” Charles raises his eyebrows as he mutters, but the words don’t come easier to him. Heat surges in his blood like one big flame. He wants… Oh, damn it, he has spent so much time wondering how it would feel to have Erik covering him with his body and enter him, he’s not even able to refuse the terrible idea right now. If I really do only have him once… “I don’t have…”

Please, fuck me, fuck me, Erik. He wants to transmit, and then holds back with a plaintive inhale. His whole body aches with the need to find that long-awaited release, the one he’s been keeping to be filled by Erik. Just fuck me and kiss me again once more, kiss me throughout. That won’t change the face of the world, will it? We’ll still despise each other, but I’ll be able to move on.

However, even though Charles remained somewhat silent despite his laboured breathing, unable to voice such a mortifying request, the light flickers in Erik’s eyes and he nods briefly. Brings two fingers to his own mouth and, without breaking his cautious, unwavering eye-contact, he makes them break the barrier of his lips suggestively to coat them with spit.

At this point, Charles’ cock twitches in envy and he fears for a second that he is going to moan aloud and beg for something very foolish.

Another kind of trepidation courses down his spine when the mutant releases his trapped gaze to hurriedly start kissing and nibbling at the inside of his thighs. They flex again and again, ticklish. Tense, when the wet fingers start sliding across his perineum to move up in the crease of his cheeks.

“Alright, Charles,” Erik says nonchalantly, “if you’re so eager to go through your little experiment, I’ll show you what having a man fuck you feels like.”

The touch is instantly too intimate, weirdly humiliating, and utterly not enough. Charles starts with an indrawn breath, surprised that such strong, paradoxical desires would surface from having Erik’s fingers here . Conflict must rise on his expression and body again, because Erik glances up, lazily trails his tongue where Charles’ thigh meets his pelvis, and inquires, “This really is your first time with a man, then?”

Oh, he would’ve flushed a deeper shade of red if it was actually possible — maybe he does, Erik’s attentive expression slowly turns into a grin, ruthlessly triumphant.

The two fingers slowly start brushing higher, rubbing tiny circles over his hole, lightly probing — teasing, only teasing, and another immediate wave of heat overpowers Charles’ thoughts to turn them into an incoherent jumble of repressed pleas. He shouldn’t — shouldn’t be giving in. Not to him.

“Shh,” Erik soothes when he lets his head fall backwards to forget about the quivering of his thighs, which the mutant keeps sensitising with his lips and teeth, “shh, Scha— Charles, you can let go, I’ll take care of everything. Don’t worry, you’ll have what you want, I’m going to make sure of it.”

This is the moment he chooses to repeatedly press one finger to the sensitive ring of muscles, which yields and suddenly takes Erik up to the first knuckle, so Charles doesn’t know if the surge of arousal and its subsequent whine of needy pleasure is in fact due to the sensation or to the incriminating words which almost make him boneless on the spot.

Whatever the answer, as soon as his cock jerks and fills with blood, Erik takes its tip back into his mouth to wet it and seemingly taste its spurt of precome with a growl. Charles’ breathing quickens even more when the mutant combines it with the slow movement of his finger, methodically, terrifically good at making Charles melt and harden all at once.

“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?” Erik asks, merciless.

He stopped sucking him, but his finger is still starting to fuck Charles unhurriedly, making him arch and gasp at the weird, nearly uncomfortable sensation. It intrudes, opens him. The lubrication clearly isn’t enough either. And yet, yet…

“Answer me, Charles: do you enjoy this?”

He refuses to answer. Tightens his white-knuckled grip on the desk and in the mutant’s hair instead, to calm his aroused trembling made worse by humiliation.

“Fine, then.” Erik decides, and withdraws his finger — leaving Charles feeling empty and shockingly vulnerable. Utterly lonely.

But, before he can think of mumbling his disquiet, two fingers return and enter him without their previous care. Charles thought he would have shouted in pain, but the sound that leaves his lips is a sob of pure relief.

“I think I have my answer.”

Oh God, he fills filled, and contented. This is all very new to him; he isn’t used to the pressing urgency that demands that Erik fills him himself to annihilate that emptiness his fingers are building with each new back and forth. Too little, too good and too little, but he won’t ask, he can’t ask that to Erik .

Picking up on a wail, said Erik starts to suck him again to ease his discomfort. But this is worse; too little becomes too much, and Charles quickly recoils with a wince before he can come in Erik’s mouth. His unsteadiness grows, making him feel lost without the grounding use of his powers; he almost loses his balance in the process.

Immediately, Erik is up and close to steady him, but he never stops the steady fucking of his two fingers. Worse, worse and worse, this is even hotter and intimate, the way they can feel the other’s ragged breathing and panting muscles while Erik opens him so viscerally.

“Still with me?” The mutant breathes out.

Their eyes lock, the next second disappears.

Charles kisses him instantly. Erik surrenders without hesitation, dipping his head to the side to grant him better access with a pleased noise, and the moment feels so deceptively private and loving, with their mouths caressing the other with slowed pressure, that Charles instinctively abandons his body to Erik’s for a second. For all answer, an arm comes circling his waist, keeping him upright as the mutant fucks him deeper. Swallows his moan. This is — He is — Erik can be so sensual. This primal, this affectionate sensuality is so highly addictive, Charles wants to earn it for himself. To never part from it, and take Erik whole until it breaks him.

With a pang of his chest which sounds like the fated ticking of a clock, he then remembers that Erik is either taken, or doesn’t care. He almost chokes on the bile of painful disappointment.

The deft fingers skillfully keep estranging him from the nebulous realm of sanity, and this is too easy, in the end, to lose himself in Erik’s bottomless passion. Their lips and tongues seek the other, furiously. Charles stands pliant and willing in the eye of the storm.

He wants to take all of him until it breaks him.

If this is what this is about, then Charles wants it to break him perfectly.

 

When Erik manages to put an end to that demanding, soul-clenching kiss, with a hand he drags to the small of Charles’ damp back to the cheek that he cups with heartbroken despair, he feels a warm droplet fall on the digit of his thumb. Stunned, his eyes shoot open. Attuned — to Charles’ diamond-clear emotions. His heart fails when it is suddenly deprived of its power.

He realizes that the pressure of his finger caused an unshed tear to break past the lacquered lily eyelashes. Its crystalline color doesn’t break the pool gathered in the illuminated lakes that are now Charles’ half-lidded eyes. A river, brimming over the bed of the ever challenging ocean. A tear.

Erik stills the hand that was fucking Charles immediately.

“Why are you crying?”

The question sounds husky and velvety warm between their barely separated mouths — it’s still too much for Erik — but still, Charles’ brows furrow in an instant. The openness of his gaze flooded with desire sadly clouds itself with a brisk storm of peevish resentment.

“I’m not crying, you idiot.” He argues pointedly, already pulling back and regaining some of his proud composure. With his question, Erik feels like he annihilated all of his hard work to give Charles what he apparently craved for. He doesn’t let go though, which incenses the telepath tremendously. “You— It’s— Let go, will you?”

Erik would laugh at the attempt if he wasn’t so afraid their moment together was already over, so he simply gulps down, tightens his grasp and pushes his fingers deeper into Charles without fair-play, forcing him to tense like a spring against him and cry out when Erik manages to find that sweet spot he was eager to let him experience. He immediately makes sure it was a shout of startled pleasure; it was. What a responsive jewel. Erik didn’t realize having him in his arms would make him love and hate Charles even more, in disproportionate measure. His hand slides to the telepath’s jaw so as to force him to face him.

“Not crying? Look at me, then. Look at me.

His eyes. Fierce and red and blue, like a revolutionary flag, like a canvas painted with the repeated stabs of betrayal. Even Caesar mustn’t have looked more outraged when the fatal blow was said to be inflicted by his own nephew Brutus.

They assess each other with thunder in their eyes, and need no words.

Instead of taking his mouth again, Erik firmly applies his lips to the shimmering trail of dried tears. Drinks their salt, their incomprehensible sorrow, and all of their spent anger. He will lick his cheek to wipe it clean of any grief, if he has to.

“What are you-”

“Mine.” He murmurs possessively against the beloved skin, getting even harder when Charles ends up pressed against him on tiptoe as he sinks his fingers even deeper in the tight, clenching heat.

All this time he spent imagining what it would be like to be close to him, and here they are, for a handful of sand-like seconds, running down their hourglass, with Charles on the verge of tears. Erik never would’ve thought sex with him would taste like trying to breathe in the sea. He never would’ve thought it would be like swallowing mouthfuls of salted water as he struggled for his life.

His palm collect his testicles, and Charles courageously bites back a moan against Erik’s ear. The telepath is so turned on it’s hard to focus. “They’re all mine, aren’t they, Charles? Your tears.”

If only he could kiss them into oblivion, and be allowed to be the one to make sure Charles never has the chance to cry again.

“Am I the only one to make you like this?” Erik asks with a perverted pride that doesn’t fill a tenth of the regret corroding his voice. The sole of Charles’ leather shoes creak slowly. “Am I the only one to make you cry, or do you pull that off with everyone else too?”

“F-Fuck off,” He replies, fighting back without moving more than his face, away from the lips that fondle him. “Fuck off. You’re such a jerk.”

Ah, but of course. Erik is here to give him what he wants, and nothing more. Fine, Charles, you shall have it. I’ll give you my cock and keep my twisted heart for myself, you greedy, thick-skinned saint.

He manages to chuckle, even though the disbelieving sound must have been produced by the sight of his own chest drilled with broken glass. Once again, his free hand turns Charles’ face back to him with a sharp motion of his still clad wrist, forcing the abused, pomegranate mouth to split open in protest like a delicious treat, as his rusty voice hammers, “Oh, have no fear, Charles, I know you hate me.”

And he kisses it again when Charles’ wary eyes fall on his lips with unconcealed envy. What a damnably expressive face. Don’t worry, Schatz, I’ll give you everything . I won’t leave you wanting, if you have decided you’d fuck even me. By now, Erik’s body is thrumming with tension and desire, but making this extremely pleasurable for Charles is far more gratifying than pursuing his own pressing release. Dedicated, he ardently absorbs his moans, which grow louder and louder in the breathless room, until Erik thinks he will be able to make Charles come with just his fingers in him.

The thought warms his body all over, prompts a surge of affection and need that makes him groan and nuzzle the telepath’s neck with his nose and mindless kisses, but, at the last moment, two hands seize Erik’s shoulders and push him away again, stopping the build of the impending orgasm.

It’s almost as frustrating as denying himself.

Even though Charles’ head is now slightly falling forward, a very fetching and beautiful blush heating his cheek, ears and neck, his whole body heaving with adrenaline, it seems like the trust to let Erik be the one to make him climax will be hard-won.

He doesn’t mind it. He’s always secretly loved the disguised hubris in Charles.

“You’re still pretending to fight even though I’m two knuckles-deep in your ass?” He provokes, stupidly delighted despite the situation.

Is this a taste of happiness, Gott? Are You so cruel that You would show me its colors before I lose Him again?

His smile grazes over Charles’ temple fondly, but of course, the university’s mascot takes offense and jerks out of his touch, freeing one of his arms to brandish it without aim. Erik catches the solid wrist before it can do anything. Slightly dizzy at first, Charles’ oceanic orbs turn outright murderous; he regains a laborious composure and raises his chin, teeth clenched, seething. He’s never looked more beautiful to Erik.

“You’re only doing this to me because I want you to.”

“Oh, you think I don’t know that?” He retorts, halfway between a humorless bark and a suggestive purr.

Yes, his fingers might be in Charles right now, but Erik is only doing his bidding. His heart is in his own throat, on his very lips right now, where it would be very easy to destroy it. The mutant could decide to stop everything and make him unconscious with a blink of an eye, they know that.

And yet, Charles never once stopped looking conflicted . What does he want? Even now, his aristocratic brows are frowned in an accusatory expression over his petulant glare.

“You’re thinking you could stop me if you wanted to, right now, aren’t you?” He continues. “I know you can, Charles.” His voice drops to a low, evocative murmur as he directs his next words to a sensitive ear. “I know you won’t.”

With their chests now delectably pressed together, Erik can feel the tremor that races through Charles’ back at the implication. Can hear the slow, measured exhale. Can make their groins connect and rub slightly. The friction is heaven and hell mixed up in a jar.

His grip tightens viciously on the wrist he is holding when the telepath is still wearing that sullen scowl, but neither of them backs down.

“If I truly am that monster you loathe so fiercely, Charles, then put me down .” He goads, yanking his forearm until the telepath has to recoil not to end up against his lips. “If you don’t want this, fire away, Charles! Fire away, don’t let us take what we want, because we will all take everything from you, don’t you understand? Wasn’t Emma enough for you? Fight back!

If he can’t be by his side — If Charles has to fend for himself, he who is stronger than any of them, but would rather turn the other cheek than disavowing his utopist means…

“You’re wrong, Erik.” He argues, shaking his head, but his strained voice trembles, ready to crack and snap like the string of a violin. When Erik shouted to his face in earnest a second ago, the injured blue eyes had started to well up with water again — and it had been the most painful thing to inflict Charles so far. “Not everyone is like you. It is my choice to keep hoping-”

Hope!

“Then do it!” Erik snarls suddenly, loud enough to cover the new blow that left the insult on his battered heart. “What are you waiting for?”

His throat is too tight; a wet, prickling tide is rising to his mouth, to his sinuses. Yet, it is Charles’ obvious reluctance to use his powers against him, as much as the pleading glimmer in his lost eyes streaked with blood, which suddenly lower with surprise to stare at the way he is clutching Erik’s turtleneck with both fists to keep him from leaving, which makes him —
       miss a beat and —
            drop everything to kiss Charles, with both hands cupping his face.

Damn him. Damn Charles Xavier. He cares for him so painfully. There is no pleasure to enjoy from that kiss at all; the pleasure instantly turns into dejected suffering. But the need to make Charles his right now, to claim as much of him as he can in such a short span of time… is stringent. Charles wants it, it’s so obvious in the way he clings to him and becomes liquid in his arms, that there’s only so much Erik can do to retain the remainder of his lucidity.

They part with a loud smacking sound. Charles is now desperately gripping the wrists framing his own jaw, probably unaware of the molten topaz dancing between his lashes. They are worthy of murder and the worst villainy. To say that Charles’ beauty is not even in the top three reasons why he fell for him scares him suddenly.

Immediately upon seeing his surrender, Erik asks hoarsely, panting, “Now, are you going to let me fuck you properly, or do we have to pretend a little longer? I can play with my fingers in you all day.”

“No,” Charles stammers, hurriedly blinking his confusion away and tightening his grip, “I mean, yes, I will. If you want to, that is.”

Erik wants this and many other filthy things. Mostly, Charles breathless, flushed like an aroused twilight, and so genuinely eager for his body, especially makes him want to tease him further.

“If I want to, what?” He asks, humming low in his throat.

Charles’ expression darkens instantly — darkened, all the beautiful colors and the shadowed freckled stars — and the hint of barriers shooting up with renewed guarded doubt reins Erik in.

“You know what.”

“I do.” He concedes. He doesn’t want to hurt Charles further; knows he doomed his chance to be the teasing friend with Emma Maximoff. A quick kiss on his cheek, in a humble attempt to be forgiven, and then Erik draws back on purpose, tearing himself from his soul, whirling around decisively in the study.

“Face down, legs spread.” He orders.

With a calculated glance over his shoulder, the mutant watches as Charles tenses and looks at him defiantly, obviously minding the crude command he isn’t used to. Erik is positively certain the telepath takes great care to make his point by waiting a few seconds more than necessary before complying. When he does, and starts to turn around in a flexible display of limbs, it’s with such dignity and such alpha male self-confidence that Erik’s mouth goes dry.

He quickly goes back to his task, which is — finding his bag. Helped by his powers, his schoolbag flies to him, and Erik grabs it in mid-air, immediately looking for the few lube samples he keeps in it. The moment he realizes he used his last condom with Alicia the night before, he freezes, and sighs deeply through his nose.

Somewhere, somehow, he is sure his karma is having a good laugh.

Well, maybe Charles won’t need this to be satisfied, but this will undoubtedly be a disappointment for both parties involved. Speaking of the telepath, the stirrings of an awkward squirming on the desk soon attract his attention.

Supposedly, Charles isn’t yet used to be displayed so vulnerably on a piece of furniture like the main course of a buffet; even though he is presently lying on his stomach over his own desk, with his clothes still mostly on — only that wonderful plump bottom Erik remembers so well is visible, along with the top of sturdy thighs and the mouth-watering package of tightly drawn up balls and the hint of his leaking, hard erection — Charles is writhing awkwardly to take a look back at Erik, both of his hands clearly hesitating to put down his pants and boxer briefs.

This is a sight he knows he will try to remember vividly all his life.

His breath hitches, and for a few seconds he can’t help but run his eyes over Charles’ body, up and down and again. Wild sparks of astonished pride set his nerves ablaze, making his biceps, stomach and cock jerk randomly in longing. All of him for me, for now.

When the telepath clearly starts to become uncomfortable, Erik snaps out of it and answers the wordless question, “Yes, all the way down to your ankles. Spread your legs farther apart.”

Neither order seems to make Charles feel more at ease, but he carries them out, albeit shyly.

Erik is quick to come back by his side, right behind him, to steady him with a touch over his lower back — without a word. Any remark pointing to Charles’ inexperience would spook him, damaging his grand ego, Erik knows. Charles has never offered that to anyone else before. And still — He remains dignified in obvious desire, vindictive in abandon; his trust is reluctant, but willingly given. Erik is in awe.

“Good.” He praises, with a voice coarse and thick as oaky whiskey, but immediately Charles purses his lips and stands on his elbows to relish some of the tension that ran along his back muscles. Erik can feel them twitching under his fingers.

After quickly tearing off the wrapping of the lube samples with his teeth, he generously coats three of his fingers with it. Charles’ breath misses a beat, discreetly.

The telepath only meets his eyes for a second when Erik checks if he is alright. A cough, embarrassed, some more fumbling on the elbows, balancing his weight, and then, as the flush battles visibly not to extend to his face, “Are you not… going to…”

When Erik doesn’t seem to understand — he does — Charles gulps down, coughs again in his fist and gestures to his arse and Erik’s covered crotch, wriggling his fingers a bit.

Erik snorts. If he could tease that man. If he could love that man.

“Don’t be greedy, Charles,” he mocks instead, but maybe, maybe Charles can hear it nonetheless, that impulsive, consummating tenderness the uni’s sweetheart doesn’t care for, because they’re not here for that, “I know you’re eager to properly try it with a man, but you’ll take my fingers first.”

And because the white, short teeth start to worry that lush, delectable bottom lip again, worsening the doubt drawn by the mirrored arches of his aristocratic eyebrows, Erik applies the pad of his thumb to the center of Charles’ pink, exposed hole to put some pressure on the tight ring of muscles. Instantly, the expression flutters, quivers, and dissolves as Charles closes his eyes, frowning, and parts his lips with a voiceless plea. It sounds ungodly British. He looks sinfully debauched.

“Good,” he desire-flayed voice repeats, “just lie still for me, Charles. Lower your weapons for today, you don’t need them here. You only need me — need this.”

How good he looks, like this. Erik wishes he could video tape him and watch this moment forever, even when the curious straight sweetheart leaves for the other end of the world. A one-time experience, maybe, or maybe Charles will start fucking other men.

“I’m going to make it feel good. You just have to take it.”

Expertly, Erik switches his teasing thumb for two of his lube-coated fingers, which he inserts into the mutant effortlessly. A low, appreciative rumble thrums in his throat, and he starts to gently fuck Charles right away, aiming for his prostate. When he finds it-

“O-Oh.”

There. When he finds it, and Charles’ eyes open impossibly wide in shock, his whole body spasming, jerking, and starting to rebel against the unfamiliar, intense feeling, Erik slams his free hand in the middle of the telepath’s half-clad back to pin him to the table. His body hits it with a muffled thud , punching the air right out of his lungs and leaving him breathless and panting, arching and startled when Erik twists his fingers and put all his weight forward on both his hands to keep Charles down.

“Take it.” He enjoins. “Take it, Charles.”

The pressure causes the naked, pale hips to cant into the touch, aggravating the desert drying Erik’s mouth, turning on a glimmer of dark lust in Erik’s concentrated gaze, until he can’t do anything but give in, giving up as Charles’ uncontrolled moans start pouring out of his cherry-varnished mouth like pitiful howls. He fucks him like he’d do with his own cock. Hard. Fast.

Purposeful.

Erik.” Charles lets out instinctively, without meaning to, without meaning to freeze the mutant’s being just above him, even if Erik doesn’t stop, despite his heart’s tormented squeeze. The telepath tries to bite back the name, of course he does, he shouldn’t have said it. But it’s too late; it already painted its toxic sweetness on the most resistant part of Erik’s canvas of faded emotions.

Alight again, with deep lashes of violet, sometimes less red than blue.

“It’s good, isn’t it, Charles? I really could do that all day; watching you break apart even before I get to slam my cock in you.”

“Yes.” Erik doesn’t know what part of his sentence the tense, fervent whisper is supposed to answer, but the words seem to have put the telepath in a trance.

In and out, in and out of him, his own fingers don’t seem real, but brush the warmest, the most intimate part of Charles with each move until he’s truly bumping his knuckles against the beads of sweat glistening on the telepath’s meaty cheeks and slightly darker perineum. The whole room is sultry, breathing fast, and, distractedly, Erik glances up to see that the windows are white with perspiration and Charles’ growing unrest.

They’re both soaked with it. From hair to toe. Erik’s hand on his back slides repeatedly, until he grabs the rumpled fabric and keeps pushing deeper with his fingers for a good five minutes. A halfhearted sob answers him, but Charles seems truly gone now, half-lidded eyes wet with liquefied mist as his boneless body rocks against the desk, a slow, punctuated slur flowing out of his mouth like the gentle rain falling upon the Thames.

“Don’t stop. Oh, God. God, don’t stop, Erik, don’t stop.”

More rushed words, more arsenic ink down his dry throat, to his surprised heart. Of course, I won’t, Liebling. Whatever your heart desires. If it is simply my body that you seek, I’ll give you all until I strip us both to our penitent souls.

Whatever it was that caused Charles’ barriers to slip — Erik’s assertiveness? The position? The sensation of being fucked? — it swept away most of the fight in him; only the masculine muscles ripple in tense pleasure from time to time, only the barest current of awareness drifts edgily over his irises, stiffening his expression with a painfully guilty shame.

Which makes it satisfying and strangely not enough every time Charles whispers for him to go on.

“For someone who’d have anyone but me for this kind of thing , my friend ,” he doesn’t resist provoking between two puffs of air, vengeful, “you seem to enjoy yourself rather much.”

Bitterness chisels the pride swelling in his heaving chest. The twisted satisfaction worsens when Charles’ face contorts with a flash of humiliation upon hearing the taunting, but the telepath simply seals and purses the lips he was biting a few seconds before. Doesn’t answer. This should be as good as an admission. It isn’t. It isn’t.

“Have you changed your mind, Charles?” He then continues, almost sneering in his delicate, red-flushed and warm-looking ear when he ends up bending over the mutant, covering his bare thighs with the rough fabric of his jeans, and the sweaty, yielding skin of his freckled back with his moist turtleneck.

Immediately, it is like they are sharing a piece of their intimate selves, as their offbeat breathing starts crashing on the other’s skin off-sync, like the waves against the shore. Luminous. The blue eyes shut themselves even tighter upon hearing Erik and feeling him so close, but his sudden arousal is hard to miss. He really wants me to fuck him.

“Tell me. Do you regret telling your precious Emma I’d be the last person on earth you’d choose to fool around with, as you’re so intent to do with the first girl who can boost your ego?”

That stings, he can see it. You’re a little, blind fool, Charles, of course the truth would hurt you. Now that he has him distracted, with a minimum of fumbling, Erik manages to withdraw his fingers and add a third as he kicks apart Charles’ legs to spread them further under him. He accepts him readily enough, but immediately upon understanding what Erik was about to do, the telepath arched his stretched, vulnerable body, eyes still closed, and tried to bite back a moan, which breaks free — in a jerky, faint exhale — as Erik’s fingers enter him again.

“There, Liebling, aren’t you better like this?”

The answer is neither yes or no. “Erik.”

He would kiss him, if he dared. He would deposit a loving kiss in the damp bangs of his hair, if he didn’t fear it would crack his glass heart. But having Charles writhing against him, barely able to stop himself from pleading for more, even if this Charles seems as distant and wobbly as much as he is definitely there and consenting — it will be an unforgettable memory. Not exactly beautiful. But marred on his bones forever, unforgettable.

“Do you regret it, Charles?” He repeats, louder, and if most of the bite in his voice is gone, his purr is no less icy than it was seconds ago. “Do you regret your words?”

The answer comes whistled between gritted teeth; Charles’ eyes snap open to stare back at him, stubborn and merciless, clawing at his own principles even as he sinks fast under Erik’s ministrations.

“No.” Bastard, you little bastard. “I won’t ever regret what I told you then, Erik.”

The line of Erik’s jaw hardens instantly, and instead of plunging his teeth in the vulnerable, strong neck in punishment like his instinct urged him to do, he instead pulls his free hand out from between their bodies to pin Charles’ head to the desk, using it deliberately as leverage to get up. The mutant lets out a startled exclamation and winces from the impact which is combined with the abrupt withdrawal of Erik’s fingers, but otherwise his challenging glare remains unequivocally heated. Blurs, even, for a few seconds. Erik’s very hard erection is so painfully outlined by his jeans he thought the fly would’ve popped open minutes ago.

Maintaining the grip Charles seems to like in his hair, he then opens his pants to free his cock, which looks larger than usual, to inquire, “Do you have condoms?”

It seems like both of them managed to regain some of their lucidity; Charles tries to turn his head to him, visibly attempting to take a look at Erik’s groin which he can’t see, and answers with more serenity than what he would have thought possible, “I do. They’re in my satchel, by the chair.”

Unfazed, Erik quirks an eyebrow and clarifies, “King-size condoms?”

An embarrassed blush immediately creeps up Charles’ colorful complexion, exposing his assumption along with the probable anticipatory realization that Erik is just that big , but he settles for saying, “Oh. No, then, I’m afraid I don’t.” with that rich, cultured lilt enhancing his dancing voice.

“Me neither.” Erik says, out of disappointment, but the mutant was uneasy enough just now that he must have figured it out on his own.

Dammit, he can’t believe he’s going to waste his opportunity to feel Charles because — and yet, the telepath does have regular condoms, so what if, instead—

Erik’s attention gets caught in the way the tense body under him literally slumps with dissatisfaction at the news. Instead of melting though, Charles looks rigid now, and Erik can’t resist letting go of his hair to run his hand down to his arse and thigh, which he strokes comfortingly to ease most of his defeat. Charles really wanted it this way.

The softer gesture earns him an appreciative hum , which derails into a helpless groan when Erik grabs his own cock and makes it trail over Charles’ sensitive skin. There is, after all, more than one way to introduce straight Golden Boys to mind-blowing gay sex. The muscles of his pert ass and lower back stiffen delectably while Erik enjoys the friction. Enjoys it a bit too much, given how basic this is.

When he reaches the lubed crease between the mutant’s cheeks and starts rubbing himself lightly over the wet skin hiding that now puffy, inviting hole, more damnable sounds escape the gently moaning lips.

“Yes…” Charles murmurs, more for himself than anything, and Erik’s pleasure blooms tenfold, like an arrow of bliss leaving a hot trail in his body.

They’re playing with fire, right there, right now, Erik knows it. He should stop, change position. But he settles for groaning, and allows more weight and pressure of his cock against Charles to jerk himself off properly. The mind-blowing tingles of pleasure he gets from it are nothing next to the exhilaration of feeling the mutant arch against it with a sobbing plea he muffles into his arm.

“Yes,” he repeats, mindlessly, “oh, please…”

This is not only dangerous, given how much Erik viscerally wants him, but he also can’t deny that their bodies are steadily pressing against each other more and more just the right way to let them know what they’re looking for, where they still want to go. Gott, he needs to have him. With a misguided movement — Join their bodies — Urge his own name out of these deceptively soft lips. He grunts. The speed of his slow, intent thrusts increases, until Charles’ breath picks up, faster and faster, the depths of it spreading to his shoulders, and ribs. And then —

He finally rounds his back, like a yielding spasm, and, hiding his ever-proud face, Charles’ voice snaps, “Do it, Erik, for fuck’s sake! Just — please. Please!”

Erik doesn’t need to be told twice; he thrusts forward as soon as his cock gets aligned with the coveted entrance, repeatedly, gently, while the telepath’s body accepts him slowly, and he mostly concentrates on not liquefying into sheer relief. The masks of good intentions fell off, leaving them gratefully sharing the guilt of engaging in bareback sex, but — Erik can’t speak for Charles, but stopping now would’ve felt a bit like dying.

Entering his body, however…

He groans again, and again, and again, as his head falls on a surprisingly muscular back, between omoplates. This is too good. Yet Charles, of course, tenses up and swears in pain, so Erik instinctively slows down even more and reaches down with both hands, to circle his stomach, support him, and to masturbate him with the other.

“It’s going to hurt for a while.” He warns, slurs, using a voice that isn’t his own. He actually ends up kissing the shirt covering the mutant’s skin absentmindedly. “Hang in there for me, Charles. You can do it. So strong. You must have wanted to try it pretty badly, to take so much at once.”

Only the head of his dick is in him right now, but the feeling of the pulsing, slowly stretching ring of muscles around him is leaving him breathless. Defenseless, with thrumming affection. He kisses the hidden skin again. Can’t stop. Love is breaking him apart.

“You still want this, don’t you? Do you like the thought of having my cock inside you?”

“S-Shut up, Erik.” Charles croaks, and for a second he fears the mutant is actually sobbing and crying openly, but a shaking hand comes to ball itself into a fist at Erik’s side to grab his clothes and keep him from leaving.

“Is that a yes?”

For all answer, the hand squeezes the fabric of his turtleneck tighter. Erik pushes in deeper. Tentative. Sobs and moans mingle in Charles’ voice, angrier than what should be allowed between two lovers, but they are not lovers. They once were the uni’s most famous political nemeses, and now, they are far less.

Maybe if you took a look through the cracks of Erik’s heart, you would be able to tell whether the rusty organ in his chest remains empty, even as he is taking what he wanted all along, or whether his heart is ready to burst with the frost that is trapped inside. It’s impossible to tell, right now.

It just all tastes like blood. Blood, and the most of what Erik could expect from life in this moment.

“Damn you, Charles,” he swears as he starts to build a steady rhythm with his hips, and gets up to gradually fuck him in earnest, under the mutant’s outcries of surprised pleasure, “ damn you.”

The fluctuating line of time blurs, as it often does, swept away in the golden tide of luxury and cold despair. Erik starts to fuck Charles harder and harder, more elated each time that he tries and watches the telepath enjoy it, bewildered, and, in the end, Erik almost doesn’t hold back at all, and fucks him as fast as he’d dare with —

Faint sounds in the corridor freeze every movement in the room.

The unexpected intrusion halts the quickly receding pleasure, and for a split second, only Erik’s stomach seems to move in the entire study. Their breathing is shallow at best. Charles’ vigilant eyes are wide open, and turn to the door alarmingly right before determined knocks break the silence.

Break everything. Reestablish reality. The meeting. What time is it?

“Mister Xavier?” The president of the administration council calls. “Are you in here?”

They both start springing into action hastily when they hear him ask, “Does someone have the key?”

 

Chapter Text

 

PART IV : MACHIAVELLI UNMASKED

  

“Results are often obtained by impetuosity and daring which could never have been obtained by ordinary methods.”
― The Discourses of Niccolò Machiavelli

  

*

 

“Mister Xavier? Are you in here? Does someone have the key?”

Outside the newly-elected student representative’s study, the people composing the administrative board exchange looks over their strict, rectangular glasses, until someone — Elizabeth — blinks and hurriedly opens her black leather satchel to stuff her manicured nails inside and rummage through her papers and personal belongings. The hint of a baby bottle’s teat appears, which makes that hard hat Paul snort.

“I don’t know.” She says. “I think I have it somewhere. Let me check. Is it locked? If it is, it means that Charles probably isn’t inside.”

“I haven’t checked. But Charles is never late unless something requiring his attention comes up, and he always makes sure to warn me, one way or another.” There is a certain pride in his voice, but after all, they are all competing for the talented young man’s affection. He adds, “Especially if he is going to be three quarters of an hour late. No, I admit, I’m a bit worried.” Three other knocks, decisive, and his loud, tight voice calls out again, “Mister Xavier!”

“Just try to open the door, Mark.”

He does. Well, tries to. “It’s locked. No, wait, it’s — Is it broken? I can’t even turn the doorknob.”

“Now that’s strange. What’s going on?”

“Do you have the keys, Lizzie?”

“Yes, I do! They’re here. I just can’t — Sorry, I can’t put my hands on them. They’re literally escaping me.”

“Well, maybe if your entire house wasn’t in your—”

“Oh, not now, Paul.” Mark scolds, but his attention is snatched away as he suddenly hears sounds — voices? — inside the study. Oh, he is here. “Mister Xavier?”

To his slight surprise, Elizabeth lets out a triumphant exclamation and introduces the keys in the lock to successfully open the door just when Charles voice reaches them.

“Yes, I’m here. Please, do come in, gentlemen, Mrs. Graham.”

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that they are all equally relieved and curious to see what Charles was up to when they rush inside as the door opens itself more forcefully than what was necessary. With a soon forgotten bang, it suddenly reveals their prize student dutifully waiting for them behind his desk, a bright smile on his lips. It blossoms when he sees them all gathered here.

He looks as fresh as the gently sun-lit, breeze-stroked room, and he appears more than ready to blow their minds — as usual — in that impeccable grey suit of his that he saves for the best meetings. Mark suspects they must all be gaping in confusion.

Several of them are still openly scanning the room to spot something amiss, and Mark is no telepath, but he suspects his colleagues are also rather looking for someone. There was a second voice, just now. Not a woman’s. And, the door handle— He thought—

But there is no one else in here.

Charles’ smile spreads after a few seconds, a polite stretch of clever red lips which probably aims at concealing his colorful, contrite embarrassment.

“Oh, I must apologize for making you all come here. I’m awfully late, I know. I’m afraid I have no excuse; I simply fell asleep while adding the last modifications to the amendments. Your star student makes a poor excuse of a representative, dozing off like a freshman after yet another hangover.” His conspiratorial smirk earns him a general laugh from his conquered assembly, so he gracefully stands up, gathers his file and finishes while he gently leads them outside, “Shall we? I promise I will make up for my lateness by telling you about that fantastic art expo I went to last week-end. I believe we can…”

As they disappear into the corridor, enraptured and forgiving, laughing good-naturedly with an air of casual self-importance… so does the skillful glamour covering the room; in the blink of an eye, the clear, spring-kissed study vanishes and the actual Charles Xavier hurriedly crosses the… the sauna with two fingers still on his temples.

A concentrated expression furrows his brow as he finishes putting on a clean shirt, trying very hard to catch his breath and forget that he’s undressing under Erik’s intensely quiet gaze. He grabs his jacket, the documents, and shrouds himself in that protective formality.

He can’t look at him.

They are both doing a very bad job at ignoring whose genitals were in whose virginal part just half a minute ago, but their knack for pretending they get out of the fight unscathed and with the upper-hand is quite unmatched.

And, even though not five full seconds elapsed between the moment Charles led the members of the council outside with a telepathic trick, and the moment his true self follows behind, adjusting his hair with a galvanizing exhale but no other word, it feels like Erik’s unwavering eyes dragged him through quicksand for far longer.

When he finally leaves the room, Charles is once again able to breathe, but his body treacherously thrums with tortured elation, and his distracted mind is full of Erik.

 

*

 

Once, Charles valued his friendship with Erik because of their raw, precious honesty towards each other, no matter how much they disagreed on a topic; how refreshing, to never second-guess someone’s words, to not check their thoughts for confirmation. The mutant speaks his mind, even if it hurts. Now, Charles rather feels like facing Erik is walking straight into a waltzing masquerade of Machiavellian intents.

Erik’s faceless clones stand, hand outstretched, and the luxurious music speaks of lies and punctured hopes.

The mutant stripped him of his only mask with Emma Maximoff. No surprise, then, that Charles felt so bare, under the amazingly tender hands of such a strong player. Erik played his mind and body like a musician plays an instrument, and, even if it hurt his pride and bruised his optimistic heart, then Charles could only watch, awed, as the cruel man moved his pieces one by one with artful precision. What an impressive man. So intuitive.

Thereby, sleeping with Erik doesn’t unmask them any more than they already were, but it definitely adds confusion to Charles’ hard resolve to drive the mutant out of his head.

 

His dream-like bubble of pleasure and guilty contentment to be so well, so thoroughly used by Erik bursts instantly upon hearing footsteps. For a few seconds, there was no merciful transition; when the voice rose, Charles’ heartbeat increased and adrenaline kicked in, urging him to protect himself. Erik, as per usual, proved to be troublesome.

“Does someone have the keys?”

“Charles.”

As he attempted to jerk upright, Charles realized with a muffled cry that Erik’s iron length was still very much unforgivably up his arse. A dizzying spark of pleasurable pain echoed around it, burning him. Oh, he’d feel that for days. He didn’t have time to swear more than once though - the mutant brought him against his chest decisively and whispered his name. It was a command. Softened, oddly. Like a velvet-coated rope.

“No need to worry,” Erik murmured again in his ear, tempting, pressing, his body pulsing inside Charles in the best instance of carnal pleasure the Earth had ever provided. “I locked that door as soon as I walked in.”

The fingers curling gently around his throat were the worst threat to Charles’ slippery hold on his own lucidity, especially seeing as Erik was now curiously nuzzling his neck, kissing it with as much strength as confounding gentleness, but — A bucket of ice spurred Charles’ fear on when the voices went on.

“I don’t know. I think I have it somewhere. Let me check.”

Oh God. If they tried to open that door and found it altered —

“Unlock it!” He snapped. His voice came out high-pitched, strangled from the restraining position and the quickly returning pleasure, but there was no denying the firmness of his anger. “Unlock it now, Erik!”

“Why? You could just…” And Charles’ telepathy kept bumping obediently against the nearby mind, but he could sense its calculating swiftness. The warm hand against his stomach spread its long fingers to glide lower on his skin, to his groin, slowly. He swore under his breath. Erik took care to kiss the next words on his nape. Open-mouthed. “You could just make them go, Charles. Freeze them. I was so close to making you come. Five minutes. Give me just five more minutes.”

There was no space left to jump for Charles when the three next knocks against the door interrupted the tempting chant of promising luxury, but it did bring him back to the real world, if it didn’t end the slow, delicious back and forth of Erik’s hips. Charles’ legs were trembling, a pool of warm electricity deliciously bubbling from his backside to his cock. Erik was going to kill him.

“Mister Xavier!”

“Just try to open the door, Mark.”

His heart froze. No, no, they needed to get out of here!

“I won’t do that.” He answered him, his chin still up where the mutant directed it. “Now let me go. Erik — No, stop. Stop. Let me go, for—” Oh, he was so skilled, Charles couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have him as his boyfriend. His boyfriend. God, Erik must have been enjoying himself so much, teasing his stupid, willing little mouse this way, with his feline claws. Maybe he’ll even tell his girlfriend, if he has one, for all I know. The frozen heart dropped — shattered. “I’m serious, Erik. Don’t make me. I swear, it won’t be pretty if I get into your twisted head.”

He didn’t have to keep elbowing him; with a deep, soundless sigh, Erik breathed his hair in — grounding himself? — and released his hold on him to grab him by the hips and extract himself from his body in a single move. If they hadn’t been in such a rush, Charles would’ve let out a stuttering howl of overwhelmed surprise. Instead he winced, reestablished his balance with both hands on the desk as an inquisitive “Mister Xavier?” echoed, and ordered Erik to unlock the door.

“Now?” He asked, stunned. After all, two penises were now getting some fresh air in that condemning room smelling of sweat and sex, but Erik showed his hands in surrender when Charles glared at him.

They didn’t even have a second to brace themselves when the door sprung open. Weird, that moment during which they faced the council with their crotches exposed.

But two fingers were already on Charles’ temple. Most of his serious self was back on his stern expression.

“Yes, I’m here.” He said flatly, almost muttering to himself. He spoke out loud, distractedly, while tucking his still hard cock in his briefs and then in his pants with a face. Not making Charles come felt like a failure to Erik. “Please, do come in, gentlemen, Mrs. Graham.”

Whatever the board was seeing right now, it clearly wasn’t the evidence of their pet mutant having fucked in that room with the leader of the opposing party as if their lives depended on it.

Erik was so focused on being impressed that he stayed with his dick in the open air for a good ten seconds before social convenances kicked in. Actually, he came back to his senses when Charles grabbed a new folded shirt in his drawer — seriously, Charles? — and evidently moved too fast, hurting himself in the process by forgetting that someone had still been in him not a minute ago.

Instinctively, Erik took a step forward, immediately concerned — he didn’t check if he had injured him — but the telepath froze him to the spot with a challenging stare, daring him to make a comment. That wounded ferocity was nothing short of animalistic. Erik clenched his teeth, and forced his hand to lower itself by his side.

“I promise I will make up on my lateness by talking to you about that fantastic art expo I went to last week-end.” Charles continued then, with perfect mastery of his gift. The council went away without him like ridiculous robots, like humans, leaving them both again in that room loaded with sexual tension and chilling reality.

It didn’t matter that they were alone; Charles had escaped from his grasp as soon as the frenzy had passed, just like Erik had known he would. Talking now would be pointless; talking now would crown Erik the King of Fools, in this very last chess game. It was over.

Would he ever see him again?

After all, Charles had finally tried it, but, if his face was any clue, the fact that it had been with Erik still revolted him; he still didn’t speak to him as they used to. If not after this, he had no idea how he could get Charles back. At least, I’ve had this. Not enough. Why is it never enough with Charles? Where is the end?

The telepath finished buttoning his shirt, grabbed his stuff, and went without a single look back. Erik remained in the empty room until he couldn’t bear the smell of Charles’ fading fragrance anymore.

 

*

 

After that, more than a week passes in complete, unsettling silence.

Of course, it was to be expected. Charles didn’t expect anything else, save for the occasional cruel taunting Erik could have tormented him with to mock the fact that he easily had his way with him. But no such thing happens, since Erik went away for work on the day they had sex — a terse memo had informed Charles of the fact some time ago. If he remembers correctly — he, in fact, remembers precisely — the mutant should be gone for nineteen days. It simply means that Charles will wrap up the work on mutants rights alone, and they won’t have another excuse to meet before the end of the school year.

Perfect, isn’t it? Now he won’t have to look at the face of the man who betrayed him so savagely, will he?

He sighs. Throws a glance at the full wall window of his favorite place at the libes.

Spring is well upon them all now, casting its yearly-renewed, indefinable Woodstock aura on the campus and its students; they usually all bathe in the sun in sleeveless outfits, sitting on the grass, carefree — despite their nagging worries about finals. They smoke while talking about their majors with that educated lilt in their voices, or often they band around a guitar player to chat excitedly about travel projects. Today, it is raining.

Today the campus is grey, empty and silent, as if students waited for welcoming weather to thrive, as if they were all, in the end, creatures of the sun. We probably are, Charles snorts, thinking about Raven’s last text informing him that her only plan for the day will be to binge-watch a TV show about a LGBT community of mutants. She’s been quite invested in gay rights, these past few weeks, going as far as spamming everyone’s Facebook feed with articles about toxic masculinity and sexual behaviour — and Charles can only hope that his sister isn’t going through another raging bisexual phase that would make poor Hank worry a tad too much.

Anyhow, it is currently raining, and Charles loses more than a few minutes watching the rain assault the window and slide to the ground in a perfect, enraged cascade trapping him inside. Of course, he thinks far more about Erik than about his thesis.

Oh, he misses him.

He misses him softly.

Even before they slept together, Charles already missed Erik’s presence and conversation, but now — Now Charles is aching for all of him. The ghost of his fingers on him just won’t go, leaving trails of comforting fantasies when he feels lonely. The oddly pleasant burn which stung his backside every time he moved is gone, now; the faint mental whisper — “Erik” — accompanying it gradually dissolved too, until there is nothing left but blazing memories. Too ethereal to mimic the perfection of Erik’s body claiming his. A moment suspended in time, pure need at work, followed by a void just big enough to contain their unsung pains.

Of course, he knows this is partly the endorphines talking; the sex was simply incredible, so of course Charles would think about it again. Erik is no less an asshole now that his mouth sucked his cock like a lollipop.

He is aware sleeping with that… with him was a mistake in itself, but Charles, as a man, can’t regret it. Besides, he’s satisfied to realize that they dealt with the situation like adults. The main problem is that being so close to Erik predictably robbed Charles of most of his well-placed anger, leaving him with nothing to wrap himself in but a diffuse irritation tinged with deep sorrow.

Monologues of the most frustrating kind are then taking place in Charles’ head whereas he tries to finish his paragraph on the human genome. What a skillful monster. So tender. Oh, he’s as absolutely ruthless in bed as he is in every aspect of his life, and God his kisses, I need more of them. I need them to wake me up every morning. No, this isn’t happening. Focus.

“You, my friend,” he mutters to himself above the sound of his fountain pain running on paper, “are in very deep trouble. You’re not going to see him again either way, so do us a favour and finish that thesis in a week. That’d leave you four days of holidays to relax and not think about Eri— What did I write? Oh, crap.”

With a dejected sigh, Charles throws himself back against his chair, and instinctively grabs his smartphone after a moment to distract himself. It is a truly unproductive habit widespread among young people, granted, but he deserves two minutes break.

When he sees the notification push on his lockscreen, Charles’ breath becomes shallow, and his body temperature drops by a few degrees, starting with his paralyzed thumb. Then, he blinks, and reads again the Facebook notification.

“Erik Lehnsherr sent you a friend request.”

His heart pounds, as if marking punctuation.

“What? Oh no, this is a joke, you must be kidding me,” Charles laughs humorlessly, raising his face to no one in particular — but he happens to cross the eyes of the librarian, who shoots him a reproachful look.

Charles trains his eyes on his phone while adjusting his posture, clearing his throat slightly, and he hurriedly opens the Facebook app to confirm what is happening. And here it is. Someone called Erik Lehnsherr just sent him an invite, and… yes, given the lack of information — no profile picture, no mention of any job or school or even a country — it most definitely is the one and only Erik Lehnsherr.

Several contradictory feelings surge at once in Charles’ chest, but he can’t cast aside the melting relief that loosens his muscles. Receiving news from Erik after what happened is— After so many days of radio silence… It’s good. In a wicked way. Charles is incommensurately relieved, a bit giddy, but most of all, most of all he is wary and very well aware that, after Emma Maximoff, it is the worst insult to add him on Facebook.

They have, after all, each other’s phone numbers if they want to talk. Charles assesses the situation, gently nibbling on the inside of his bottom lip, and decides begrudgingly that he can’t afford to accept Erik.

Shutting his eyes, he deletes the request.

 

It doesn’t take long at all to regret his choice. Truth be told, a pang of doubt seized him as soon as it was too late, but overall, Charles starts to truly regret it about two hours later, whilst taking a cup of tea at Raven’s apartment. The TV show is on pause on her laptop, and she is currently talking about it animatedly while her boyfriend goes and fetches some Oreos for her, but the telepath is wondering whether he shouldn’t have heard Erik first before he deleted him. Does he even want to listen to whatever Erik has to say? God, he wants to listen to Erik, period. It doesn’t matter if he is reciting his Engineering course in German, Charles misses him in his bones, and he would even be glad to argue with him and delete him afterwards.

“... reminds me of that girl who used to be in the basketball team, you know? You put her in your bed last year, the last time I saw her she was telling me she slept with Erik and it was a one-of-a-kind experience, but she wouldn’t do it again. She said he was too intense, or something like that.”

“Oh, I bet you he is.” Charles chuckles dryly, too absorbed in his SMS to really pay attention to what Raven is saying.

When silence falls upon the kitchen like death on a battlefield, the telepath senses Raven’s dumbfounded bewilderment and he rises his face to see her gaping. What? What did he just say?

“What did you just say?” She repeats, and then Charles understands.

“Oh! No, I mean, yes, I suppose he must be.” Oh, she doesn’t fall for it, he can see it in the thoughtfulness of her gemstone-sliced, amber eyes. Great. Well, maybe alternating between hiding his flustered blush behind his phone and his cup of tea is his best course of action, now. “Erik has always been a passionate and very thorough man, so I suppose… It wouldn’t be surprising.”

“You’ve given it some thought.” Raven remarks, with a voice as flat as her smile is smug.

Oh, this is— How did this— “I don’t give any thought at all to anything regarding Erik, trust me.” He retorts indignantly while sending to said Erik the text message he’s been fumbling with for the past five minutes.

[7:34 pm, sent to: Erik]
Erik, I was meaning to add you back on Facebook, but I can’t find your account anymore.

“Sure, Charles.” She drawls, rolling her eyes and reaching back with a hand to grab more Oreos on the counter. The telepath narrows his eyes in her direction, but he isn’t sure if he wants to know whether Raven is actually implying that she knows about his feelings for Erik. “Well, in any case, you’re welcome to stay for dinner. We’re just going to watch the last episode on the couch, you should join.”

“I suppose dinner will mean chips, reheated popcorn and soda?” He teases, with a hint of paternalistic condescension.

In the pocket of his pants, his phone vibrates with a new text. Well, that was quick.

“Classic first year of Mystique and Professor X sharing an apartment,” she confirms, standing a second to lazily sprawl on the couch five steps farther, “Hank said yes for today, because raining means chilling. I love the rain; I don’t even have to make up an excuse as for why I’m not going to go out. So you’re staying?”

Charles actually takes the time to read the text before he agrees; maybe — well, maybe being surrounded by people will help him make some distance between him and whichever bad feeling will ensue from talking to Erik. When he nods and takes his teacup to the couch, Raven makes some space for him and quickly sneaks her feet between his thigh and the cushions, where it will be warmed by his body temperature. They used to do that a lot; it used to irritate him, for some reason.

Charles waits for the episode to start before he grabs his phone and reads the text again discreetly.

[7:36 pm, from: Erik]
Yes, I deleted it.

[7:40 pm, sent to: Erik]
Oh.

It actually took him about a minute to come up with this articulate answer, but Charles is already regretting its disappointed tone. With a bit of luck, Erik will take it for the casual end of conversation it was meant to be, but Charles won’t lie to himself — he eagerly hopes there will be a new text. This cozy evening would take the most pleasant turn if it could end up easing the gap in his mind and heart. At the risk of adding fuel to the fire. Thirty minutes pass without anything new, to Charles’ increasing chagrin.

[8:11 pm, from: Erik]
It’s back up now, in case you want to add me.

Oh? It takes Charles a few clicks to realize that it’s true — the blank Facebook profile is up again. Did Erik… Is it coincidence, or did Erik set it back for him? Well, in any case, it would be impolite not to accept, now, wouldn’t it?

He can almost hear the mental Raven rolling her eyes at him.

[8:13 pm, sent to: Erik]
Okay, sending you an invite. I wasn’t sure it was really you.

[8:13 pm, from: Erik]
It is. Any weird dick pic you receive this time would be MY weird dick.

“Stop giggling, you silly goose.” Raven reprimands him with a scowl when he fails at suppressing his nervous chuckle. She nudges him with her feet for good measure, but she’s obviously playing.

Charles apologizes by putting his hand on her ankle gently, which forces him to type with only his left thumb. Oh, this man. He always had a soft spot for Erik’s humour, which is often daring, and quite always inappropriate. The reference to their recent past barely hurt, and Charles finds himself writing instinctively:

[8:14 pm : to Erik; Unsent]
Your dick is absolutely not wei

…Before he manages to stop himself. As tempting as it is, Charles doesn’t know if he is ready to forgive Erik just yet — he has no reason to, in fact, save for the fact that he needs him — and this kind of flirtatious joke would indicate that he does. With effort, he then deletes the message, and tries to take an interest in the show.

He is greeted by a scene of two men making out open-mouthed under a tent of an army camp, and blinks. Within two seconds, Charles understands that they’re going to show a good portion of what logically follows, and — Amazing, did he really need a reminder of Erik right now? Hank is — of course — the first to fidget uncomfortably, but Charles starts coughing to hide his sudden embarrassment as soon as the smaller character ends up on his stomach and starts moaning for obvious reasons. Oh, he even begs — did Charles really look like that?

“Oh, come on, Hank, I don’t see you being so flustered when a woman is involved!”

“Well, first of all,” the IT student squawks, “you know that I get flustered whenever there is a woman, Raven.”

“Okay, granted. What’s your excuse, Charles? I thought you’d be…” Given Raven’s thoughtful carefulness, Charles finds it wiser to wait for the end of the sentence before he flees the room with an excuse about his thesis. “You know. More… open-minded.”

“Oh, I am open-minded. Why are we even talking about it? And don’t look at me like that, please. I’ll have you know I can read your mind, so I know what you’ve been thinking about.” He fusses, turning back his attention to the laptop to hide some of his peevishness.

“And…?”

Oh, damn her.

“And I already told you I didn’t want to speak about him. That’s a sensitive topic. Be sensitive, for heaven’s sake.”

“You said you didn’t want to speak about it, not him. I knew it. I fucking knew it. You’ve been acting different for a week, what hap—”

“I’m serious, Raven,” Charles chides, colder now that he got slapped by the painful realization that she might misinterpret the situation and think he and Erik are in a relationship, “don’t talk about it, and please, promise me you won’t say a word of it to Erik.”

The unbridled triumph on Raven’s face is quick to morph into something sadder, more pensive, as she obviously puzzles what is going on, but Charles unfortunately can’t say many things to cheer her up on the subject. Thankfully enough, Hank soon awkwardly tries to restart the conversation by asking Charles a random question out of the blue, which helps in lightening the atmosphere.

Despite the last persisting symptoms of Charles’ weeping heartbreak, it’s a comfort of sorts to see three different notifications from Erik when he checks his phone.

Might as well make a spectacular inferno out of this awful fire, if he decides to add fuel anyway.

The first notification is an approval to his Facebook request — and yes, Erik’s page is as impersonal as it can be, Charles is even his first and only friend, which shouldn’t be this endearing. The second notification came a minute later and — it’s... a Facebook invitation to an online game of chess called “Chess with friends”.

Did Erik really just— Curious, Charles opens it and sees what this is about. The corner of his lips almost turns into a smile when he understands, and sees that Erik challenged him to a game, going as far as letting him start with the white pieces, like they used to do.

He doesn’t know if he smiles, but his chest timidly fills with shiny warmth.

Finally, he reads the text message, which follows Erik’s unanswered banter about dick pics.

[8:36 pm, from: Erik]
Too soon? I shouldn’t have joked about it

The telepath immediately replies.

[8:42 pm, sent to: Erik]
Indeed. It is.

If that steamy gay sex experience already had Charles feeling confused and conflicted, things get worse at this point. It is simply futile to remain angry with Erik, even if, deep down, Charles knows he will never forget that the mutant played him, never apologized, and could very well be looking for another way to get to him.

What is there do be done? He needs Erik. Surely — Surely given what happened between them, this time, perhaps —

“Charles? You’re spending a lot of time on your phone.”

“Hm? Oh, yes, I’m just playing a game, don’t mind me.”

Raven’s silence is followed by her coming closer to take a look at the screen. When he promptly turns it off — Erik’s name is displayed as his opponent — she stops herself, unsurprised, and sighs, “Be careful with your heart, will you, Charles?”

His phone vibrates with a new text at this moment.

[8:43 pm, sent to: Erik]
Sorry, Charles. Goodnight

The siblings face each other, with that identical reluctant expression which twist their pinched lips in the comfortable darkness of the living-room.

“After all, it’s not healed yet, is it? Your stupid heart. We all need it, and you’ll only be able to mend it so many times, you know.”

 

*

 

The following morning, Charles wakes up feeling strangely excited and ready to roll down his bed to start his day with an energetic breakfast. When he actually groggily tries to open his eyes with a frown and reaches for his phone — that really is a toxic habit — he suddenly remembers why. He sits upright, with his lungs on pause, and smiles despite himself when he spots the Facebook notification telling him that Erik made a new move in their chess game. His lungs start expanding themselves in his chest again, like bagpipes about to start a concerto. With the palm of his hand rubbing at a sleepy, dew-shrouded eye, Charles opens the app, studies their game, and thinks about his next move as he lazily gets out of bed in underwear to start his day.

No new text accompanies the move, but they don’t necessarily need to speak.

They both know they shouldn’t be doing this at all, and they both know how it would end, if they did start to talk. Charles’ anger is hard to tame, despite what he thought the day before. He knows that he is somewhat waiting for the first opportunity to strike and slap Erik with pointed words.

But a game only requires part of his attention, and no acknowledgment whatsoever, so they keep playing throughout the day.

At one point during the afternoon however, Erik breaks their tacite rule of silence to send him a text message. With raised eyebrows, Charles puts down his book, wondering briefly why the mutant won’t use Messenger — he probably doesn’t want to remind them of Emma — and reads :

[4:08 pm, from: Erik]
I can’t see the cat spam.

His brows briefly knitting in confusion, the telepath quickly remembers the seemingly harmless discussion they had some time ago about his personal Facebook feed. Back then, he told Erik only his closest friends could see the silliest stuff, and God, he was so naive, to think he could include the mutant in it.

Of course, yesterday, Charles only allowed Erik to see his public posts. He is sentimental, not stupid, contrary to the general opinion.

[4:08 pm, sent to: Erik]
Indeed, you can’t.

[4:09 pm, from: Erik]
I take it I am not worthy of being in the VIP friend list anymore?

The ever present regret stings a bit when he sees the situation so plainly stated, but Charles doesn’t get downhearted.

[4:09 pm, sent to: Erik]
Were you ever?

[4:09 pm, from: Erik]
Probably not.

The conversation dies after that. Nostalgia weighs down on Charles’ shoulders, though he does his best to ignore it as he continues annotating his book. Soon enough, however, his phone lights up with another message.

[4:21 pm, from: Erik]
Your turn.

They keep playing.

 

Charles doesn’t hear from Erik again that day, which is both what he wants and probably the cause of his agitated distraction at uni. To his well-hidden relief, he receives a new message (from Messenger) on the following day. After that, the pattern is set, and Charles’ anxious nerves settle for a quieter anticipation.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 5:14 pm] You lost again, Charles. Were you really cheating and using your powers all this time? I’m disappointed.

[Charles F. Xavier, 5:22 pm] Glad you get to experience what I constantly feel with you. Disappointment.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 5:36 pm] Are you up for another game?

[Charles F. Xavier, 5:37 pm] Set the board.

Unfortunately, there must be a trick to winning online, or Charles needs to be counted among those old souls who actually have to see the pieces in 3D, because Erik soon beats him for the third time in a row, to his great frustration.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 10:02 pm] I won again

[Erik Lehnsherr, 10:02 pm] hihihihi :)

Charles really, really shouldn’t be laughing. So he bites down on his bottom lip deviously, trying very hard to stifle his disbelieving chuckle. If he starts visualizing Erik’s stern expression upon writing this, or the knowing glimmer in his eyes, enhancing that hint of a smirk revealing part of his teeth, Charles is lost. What a formidable, ridiculous, cunning idiot that man is.

They keep playing.

 

The next week goes by like this, and it is one of the most confounding of Charles’ year yet — which is no small thing, since, so far, he has been through a weird spreading of that dab gesture among the middle-aged professors at uni, an introduction to intense gay sex with a former friend turned enemy, and Hank ordering a unicorn frappuccino at Starbucks.

It is one of the most confounding for Charles, because — yes, he can plead guilty for feeling happier these past few days than he’s been in months. But at the same time, once the fear of losing this tiny fragment of Erik is gone to be replaced by the frail sense of security habits bring, Charles starts to think again about more agonizing questions. What is Erik looking for? It would be insane at this point to think that he is genuinely interested in spending time with him, wouldn’t it? Oh, and for the last time: does he have a girlfriend? Or… a boyfriend? Does Erik do boyfriends? Either way, that would be horrible, given what they did.

At some point the week before, when he had not yet received any news from Erik and had, consequently or not, felt rather lonely, Charles went out for a drink to the undergraduates farewell party. At first, he thought he wouldn’t manage to blend in with the hard-partying students — he really was starting to feel the need for something else, even though he couldn’t pinpoint what — but the cheap vodka did its job amazingly. It always did, even if you often regretted settling for a $9.99 bottle and a need to throw up when, for six dollars more, the experience could’ve been different.

Soon enough, Charles was well involved in a fascinating conversation with a lovely fellow biology student, and… Well, let’s just say that Charles quickly understood she was interested. Careful, despite the alcohol raising his spirit and making him smiley and talkative, he made sure said interest was as pure as it could be — and oh, this young lady had the dirtiest mind — before they headed out.

When they reached the front door, they stumbled to a stop, giggling a bit, and she gestured with soft affection to a middle-heighted, nice-looking bloke.

“This is Brendan,” she said, beckoning him closer until she grasped his hand, “my boyfriend. Are you coming?”

Seeing as threesomes were often the culmination of people’s sexual fantasies — as a telepath, Charles knew a lot about those — there could have been a lot to tell about that night. Of course, Charles thought back about Erik; the way he knew thanks to him that things would be okay, if probably a bit awkward. He thought back about Erik’ kisses, and Erik being gone for good. It felt a bit like moving on.

With a heart ticking counter-clockwise.

“What the... “ Charles mutters about ten days later, as he opens his Facebook app and sees a string of updates on Erik’s relationship status.

At first, a strain circles his chest (even if Erik has every right to have a love life), but he quickly realizes that the mutant has gone rogue with his account and is probably trying to figure out how to personalize his profile.

Erik Lehnsherr is single.
Erik Lehnsherr is now in a complicated relationship.
Erik Lehnsherr is single since today.
Erik Lehnsherr is no longer single.
Erik Lehnsherr is single since today.

With a — rather concerned — frown, Charles discovers a thread of comments which follow the last relationship update. The first of them was posted this morning. Raven, who is now Erik’s second and latest friend, answered ever since, and it seems like they are still talking at the moment.

Admittedly, Charles is quite curious to see whether or not he’ll learn if Erik is single, or if maybe he just broke up with his partner.

Erik Lehnsherr, 7:04 am : I don’t know how to hide that
Erik Lehnsherr, 7:19 pm : Raven
Raven Darkholme, 10:23 am : omg
Raven Darkholme, 10:23 am : Were you trying to tag my name in the comments just now?
Erik Lehnsherr, 10:32 am : Yes. How do I hide my relationship status?
Raven Darkholme, 12:58 pm : This is embarrassing on so many levels.
Raven Darkholme, 12:58 pm : You do know everyone can see this thread?
Erik Lehnsherr, 1:00 pm : Yes. So make it quick
Raven Darkholme, 1:03 pm : Calm down, cowboy, you only have Charles and me in your friend list
Raven Darkholme, 1:08 pm : omg sorry Erik, I just realized why it’s so important, I was distracted
Erik Lehnsherr, 1:09 pm : Are you going to help me or not?
Raven Darkholme, 1:09 pm : Yes, of course. Of course, darling

Darling? Oh, if he ends up double-crossed by his sister…

Erik Lehnsherr, 1:12 pm : I received your PM. I am NOT Raven’s darling.
Raven Darkholme, 1:13 pm : lmao yes, attention to ALL Erik’s friends : Erik is SINGLE
Raven Darkholme, 1:13 pm : Completely SINGLE
Raven Darkholme, 1:13 pm : Mutant and proud
Raven Darkholme, 1:13 pm : Gay and single
Raven Darkholme, 1:13 pm : The Brotherhood’s new motto!

At this point, Charles is very invested in the conversation, and he eagerly awaits the next messages, which would logically contain Erik’s answer about his sexuality along with his predictable wrath. But, even though the message “someone is typing…” was still dancing a few seconds ago, it suddenly disappears, and doesn’t come back. Frustrated, Charles updates the page, only to realize that the original post was just deleted. He curses while drawing in a disappointed breath.

Well, this definitely answered a few of his questions regarding Erik Lehnsherr.

 

*

 

Her shapely figure hugged by constraining cloud-white clothes that boost her effortless, stunning beauty, Emma Frost stands as straight as a good Christian behind the reception desk of Frost Events’ subsidiary. None save one of her own would be able to tell what she thinks about as she fills this morning’s invoices without a displeased line on her angelic, porcelain-cutting face. The look she throws to the unframed photo resting next to a pile of documents, however, is both mysteriously disinterested and human enough that people would understand, were she to let anyone be close enough to glance at it.

On the glossy photographic paper, three young women laugh back at her. They share the same bone structure, the same delicate, artistic facial features, down to the color of their eyes, but apart from that, they couldn’t be any more different. What appears to be the youngest of the three literally beams at the camera, her black bangs floating in front of her living irises, while an older, chestnut-haired version of herself embraces her with protective softness. An exotic seashore is visible in the background behind their yacht, and one could wonder if this depicts an innocent family gathering, or if the photo is instead a memento of past days, where leisure and opulence were generously paid by the girls’ alluring grace.

Emma isn’t surprised by Erik’s arrival and presence next to her, but she nonetheless nonchalantly turns over the picture once she hears him noticing it with that razor-sharp, yet uninterested, acuity of his.

She also finds heartlessness comforting to wear.

To chastise him for his thoughts, she remarks, “You’ve been more efficient these last few days than you’ve been in the past month.” That earns her a glower, cold in his eyes and hot inside, as always with Erik, especially lately.

She goes on, “Was there some progress with your little telepath friend?”

The mutant picks up on the sarcasm, but also her faint curiosity. Whether Erik chooses to answer her question to satisfy it, or because he never loses an opportunity to get involved when Charles Xavier is concerned, she isn’t sure.

The fact remains that he considers the question for a moment, and says, “We’re playing chess.”

“Chess.” She repeats, highly unimpressed. Her suddenly heavy-lidded eyes flutter, golden-painted lashes shivering with incredulity. “I see. Wonderful progress. Warn me when you’re about to start playing Scrabble, I’ll need to process the news first.”

The dripping contempt in her voice piques Erik, who turns around wordlessly as soon as he finds what he was looking for with the help of his powers. A net of sharp barbed-wire rises to surround his mind. The corners of Emma’s lips turn slightly upward. She wouldn’t admit it for the world, but she finds Erik’s care for his relationship with the telepath rather charming.

After all, she’s seen the mutant hunt people for sex — all willing, but there is art in sophistication — she’s witnessed him crush his opponents without mercy for the good of mutantkind. And yet, whatever the university’s smart tease did to earn that special respect in his mind, Charles Xavier is different to him. Watching Erik stumble, make mistakes, try to correct them… is quite fun. They’re quite cute.

The entertained smile is still stretched on her lips when she feels a new person enter the shop. A shock of thick, red hair framing a face covered in electric blue scales greets Emma when she raises her eyes from what she was doing.

“Hi.” The young mutant woman starts, extending her hand for Emma to shake — she does, and their grip is firm, which she quite likes. “I’m Raven Darkholme, I’m taking back the reins of the mutant society The Brotherhood next year, you must remember us. I’m just here to introduce myself to some of our partners.”

Oh, that little club again. “Nice to meet you, I’m Emma Frost, the owner of this place. You must know Erik.”

The telepath notices at once that Raven Darkholme does know him, but her mind tells the telepath that she’s surprised that she would, and that someone on Earth would willingly refer to him by using his first name.

Well, Emma gets that. It’s a wonder Erik didn’t bite off his snobbish telepath darling’s head yet.

“Erik?” She echoes, sounding both thrown off and strangely suspicious.

A shadow conveniently appears at this moment by Emma’s side, and her lovely, sociable employee blurts out, “What are you doing here, Raven?”

“What are you doing here?” She throws back, crossing her arms over her naked chest and tapping a finger on her scales expectantly. “Who is she?”

“I work here. This is Emma, my… boss.” It’s actually an accomplishment that Erik managed to say it without making a face. Finally remembering that said boss is standing there like a talking embellishment, he turns to her, and finishes introducing them, “Emma, this is Mystique. My right-hand.”

And here I thought your right hand was mostly in your pants, these days.

Apparently, the joke wasn’t welcome, because Erik’s steel-whipping voice snaps disapprovingly, “Emma.”

If only he wasn’t so stiff. However, everything becomes clearer when Raven announces, with a fierce expression on her face, “I’m Charles’ sister.”

Emma’s mouth opens in a surprised, pink “o”, before it turns into a delighted smile. An evil grin.

“Are you?” She inquires, assessing the mutant standing before her.

On her left, Erik is suddenly quite uneasy, which only adds to her amusement. Oh, this is perfect. She already feels a special kind of affinity with this Raven. It’s girl stuff, she would explain with irony; the extension of her own acquaintance with Erik, but also a new extension to the bond linking Emma to the psychic holding his employee on a leash. A special, loose and yet meaningful bond. Telepaths.

Despite her detachment, Emma in fact holds family in high regard.

“Erik, be pretty and go finish sorting out those papers in the back.” She orders, and doesn’t wait for the mutant to do as told before she leads Mystique to her most comfortable couch.

 

The moment his task is over, Erik reaches for his phone and checks if he has any news from Charles. The gesture would be qualified as absent-minded if it didn’t come from a twitching compulsion, restrained with difficulty. He doesn’t quite get why Charles accepted his request and keeps answering his messages, but sometimes he hopes it’s because things changed for the telepath ever since they had sex.

It didn’t change much for Erik, save for the fact that now he can’t stop thinking about it, about Charles that day, how perfect he was, how expressive in his anger and arousal and incomprehensible sadness, how he took him completely, moaning for more, his brilliant, exceptional mind drifting apart in worlds Erik wouldn’t dream following. Now, days and nights he thinks about kissing all of Charles’ smiles off his laughing mouth; he wants to listen to his words and thoughts with consuming intensity, until he can eat them and reflect upon them, skeptical and annoyed by his stubborn credulity. A sturdy receptacle for his hopes and the trust he no longer grants him, nonetheless.

He doesn’t have any plan at all, regarding their relationship, but he takes whatever the mutant will allow. He lost Charles’ respect and friendliness, but he can still have part of him — he still agrees to play chess, at least. Maybe they can even keep playing when he flies to Asia.

Then Erik starts to think that Charles gets used to speaking to him, because, gradually, their conversations become slightly less scarce, if still laconic. They’re currently talking about the lack of profile picture on Erik’s Facebook page. He previously sent Charles four old photos of himself that proved to the mutant that he didn’t take pictures often, and he immediately set up the one the telepath thought was “ very fetching, you were quite adorable back then” as his profile pic. It’s a five-year-old photo, and he’s grinning like a maniac with disheveled hair — he was drunk — but that’ll do, especially if Charles likes it.

Maybe he should have tried to smile more, if Charles— His train of thoughts is interrupted by a new Messenger message, which has him frowning, cautious, while he reads it.

[Charles F. Xavier, 6:20 pm] These photos were a nice start, but they’re nothing compared to what you made me send you, Erik. Early adulthood pics are not going to even things out.

He pauses, dumbfounded and confused.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 6:21 pm] You want me to send you a picture of me naked?

His fingers only hovered over the keypad for a couple of seconds, but he is still wondering whether he understood Charles correctly until he receives the next text.

[Charles F. Xavier, 6:22 pm] You OWE me a picture of you naked. Different, “my friend”.

The quotation marks have him internally wincing. Apart from that, Erik objectively agrees on the principle, even if he is a little surprised Charles would ask. Sending him one incriminating picture of himself is the least he can do, if the telepath still worries that he’ll use his nudes one day. The fact that Charles even talks about evening things out between them This could be an excuse to plainly gather some files against him, but Erik honestly doesn’t care if a picture of his dick goes online anyway. He eyes the exit door of the back room and, knowing that Emma is still busy with Mystique, he heads for the bathroom as he types down :

[Erik Lehnsherr, 6:22 pm] Fair enough.

Locking himself in the toilets and switching on the light with his powers is a matter of seconds. By the time his back hits the white-tiled wall behind him, a thrill of anticipation runs up his spine, and he unzips his navy blue work pants to palm himself through his boxer briefs. God, that feels good. With beady eyes softened by the rapid rise and fall of his chest, he takes one last look at the last messages, thinking intently about how Charles asked for it, would expect him to be rock-hard to match the perfect pictures he sent him too long ago. He doesn’t resist flipping through them again. Wouldn’t need to — those lean flanks, the planes of his pale chest, the trail of curly, dark hair leading to his gorgeous cock… Erik knows them by touch and sight and taste now.

Charles wants him naked and compromised by his overwhelming desire for him — very well. It takes only a few fast strokes to bring himself to full hardness. He’s been on the verge of erection for weeks now. Ever since he’s had Charles. His body awakened, eager to please. Now his cock is readily straining against his own belly, and Erik grunts when he jerks himself off a bit longer, milking the base of his shaft slowly until it spurts a bead of pre-come, which rolls down the slit of his dick to his fisted hand. Now, now this is a sight he wants to show Charles.

Quickly, Erik lifts his tank top and puts the hem of it between his gritting teeth to reveal his stomach as he opens the frontal camera. He lowers his pants and boxer briefs, baring the upper-part of strong, warm thighs. He makes sure that the picture will also feature his balls and a part of his abs, which are lightly smeared with a hint of wetness where his cock stands unabashedly proud, tickling his skin with its soft, full weight. His hip bones jut out more than usual in the picture when the flash goes off with a surprisingly loud sound.

Erik takes a look at it, and decides that the obscene result is honest enough. He hits send. Gets annoyed that the FBI will probably collect it, but mostly, the pain that he feels in this moment comes from his putting back his erect penis in his pants without touching himself. This self-denial feels a bit like torture; but a pleasurable one.

It has the name of Charles embedded in its bittersweet cruelty.

Five good minutes pass before the telepath answers, which gives Erik the time to grab his leather jacket and his bag to leave. He’s staying in a hotel nearby, but he still needs to go and see one of their clients. The message gets displayed on his lockscreen.

[Charles F. Xavier, 5:38 pm] Whereas I know for a fact that it must be yours, this isn’t a very compromising picture. Show me your face, darling, I’d need to be able to post that online with your name on it.

Darling, his mind notes unhelpfully.

Going back into the room in which Emma and Raven were staying, Erik is careful to show up before the telepath with what he thinks is a blank mind. Mystique appears to have left. The irritation prickling his neck is already telling him that the two women spoke about Charles and him, and his jaw hardens in discomfort. He’s curious to know what Raven said about Charles’ feelings towards him — does she know they fucked? — but he won’t ask Frost, obviously.

Emma’s lazy smile in his direction is assorted with that feline, calculating gaze that tells Erik that she found something amusing in his mind. He sighs inwardly, nerves grating. If only he had a way to block her.

“Still playing chess?” She needles, feigning innocence even though it’s clear she knows what he’s been up to. “What a wonderful euphemism. Your zipper is open, sugar.”

Even if it were true, Erik wouldn’t lower himself to look down and make sure it wasn’t, but a quick awareness of the metal covering his crotch tells him that she’s just testing him.

“It’s not like this.” He tells her. “Charles is just balancing things out, it’s purely platonic.”

A perfectly defined eyebrow raises to question him, utterly derisive. “You’re platonically sending him pictures of your dick?”

If Erik could blush of mortification, Emma thinks the mutant would have done so in this moment. Instead, she witnesses a rare surge of awkward embarrassment rising in his body, petrifying his limbs in stiff stone while his eyes keep throwing daggers at her. It doesn’t last long, of course. With a last harsh, nasty retort, he leaves the shop in a grim mood, to Emma’s complete satisfaction.

 

[Erik Lehnsherr, 7:42 pm] I did my best, but my arm isn’t long enough.

The Messenger notification pops up with its crystal-clear ringing just when Charles comes back from uni. No one has class any longer, so he assumes 80% of the students don’t know it will remain open until summer, but people such as Charles keep going for associative-related duties. He notably has to teach Jean everything there is to know about the Club for Gifted Youngsters, which… he admits, he will miss dearly. The reality of his situation is starting to settle in, weighing discreetly on his heart; very soon, all of this will be behind him. He will leave university, start a new life, and — among the people he won’t see for a while, if ever… Erik…

Pushing away the depressing thought, Charles slows down his bicycle and dismounts swiftly mid-course, extending the city bike’s momentum on foot. He grabs his basket of groceries, balances it on his arm and finally takes out his phone to see Erik’s message.

A picture goes along with the text. Charles freezes. Dizzy. He tries to blink, but his lids remain glued for a second, flickering like trapped butterfly wings. A sudden pain in his left arm makes him wonder if he’s not having a heart failure. It would be a coherent way to go.

The picture is so erotic, Erik is so breathtakingly attractive in it, Charles instantly works out how long he can keep it as his phone wallpaper before anyone will risk seeing it. Whatever the answer, he doesn’t deny himself that small pleasure and, before long, he falls on his sofa staring at his Google Drive icon brushing over Erik’s right nipple.

Delicious looking nipple, by the way. Charles’ heterosexuality seems like a faraway memory, since Erik Lehnsherr.

It takes the telepath an extra minute to stop worrying his innocent bottom lip with his teeth and snap out of his aggressive pining. When he does, his heart keeps fluttering, shallow, taking flight, aiming for his throat, and his eyes can’t stop tracing the lines of Erik’s body and face. He didn’t get to see his body when they… well, had sex in his office. Oh, the picture he received this afternoon was a lot bolder — Charles had to take a break to cool down and hide from Jean the hot wave of arousal the picture roused in him — but this one is simply… heart-stopping.

It speaks of slow evenings under heavy covers of a warm bed, cuddling naked, skin and muscles mingling in a hot embrace. It speaks of long, very long foreplay and sensual kisses and praises rumbled in low, coal-scorched voices as intimate as the shy sparks of a fireplace. This is an extraordinary sample of boyfriend Erik, the one with whom he could have spoken of the future of mutants in the middle of the night, after a shared meal and washing-up the dishes. Charles feels his being melt along with his bones against the leather of the couch.

A throb of loss squeezes his heart.

The picture has Erik lying down on a bed and naked from the waist up, his long, unfairly muscular chest on display. His penetrating, unforgiving gaze burns the camera, and well, he looks so ridiculously expressionless on it it could have been a criminal’s mugshot, but Charles is ready to steal an old lady’s handbag if he can end up locked in a cell with that kind of criminal.

His cock has been steadily filling up with blood in his pants, and at this point he has no guilt whatsoever to play his cards and send the following text :

[Charles F. Xavier, 7:54 pm] One more from the back, and then I’ll behave.

After all…

The end justifies the means, doesn’t it?

Erik — bless him — only takes a few seconds to answer.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 7:54 pm] Alright. Wait a minute

Brilliant. The telepath dutifully does as he is told and literally does nothing else but stare at their conversation. His heart can’t slow down — it thrums with anticipation and memories of that day. Did Erik possibly feel this way when he tricked him into sending sexy selfies? This is absolute wishful-thinking, considering why the mutant did it in the first place. He probably smirked in triumph, or laughed. But then again, Erik was very enthusiastic when it came down to sucking his—

The picture appears with a small pop. Charles thought he had seen everything with the two last ones, but, oh — By everything that is holy, he was sorely mistaken. As soon as he sees it, something rises in his body, like a flood of lewd, carnal instinct swelling in his chest, drawing tight the tendons of his neck, making him puff loaded whiffs of air through his nose. The liquid, hot rush spreads to his entire body, heading straight for his groin which answers the beat of his heart by getting hard in rhythm.

“Oh, Erik…” He lets out, but it is far from the plaintive, pitying tone that usually covers those words. Charles finds his voice rather threatening, a dark, appreciative purr of ominous promises. Had Erik been a woman, Charles realizes, or simply interested, he would have done things to him a gentleman would never speak about.

That man truly is a piece of art through and through. An asshole, but a flawless one.

The picture is not very different from the one Charles sent him; Erik took a picture of himself in what appears to be the bathroom of a hotel room, using the mirror to show the backside of his glorious, mouth-watering body. It can’t be that mouth-watering though, because Charles suddenly has to gulp down and moisture the inside of his parchment-dry mouth. Erik is all muscle — long, defined, rolling-under-his-skin muscles, more like a big cat than a bodybuilder — and no fat. Even the visible upper-part of his calves is worth worshipping. And of course, Charles spends quite some time admiring that round but muscular, sinewy arse of his, which steals breath and words out of his lungs.

In the end, all he manages to send is a plea. It is rather unclear, by text, if Charles is begging for mercy, sighing in despair, arousal, or if he is straight out warning him he’s coming for him.

[Charles F. Xavier, 7:59 pm] Erik…

Although the mutant sees the message right away, it takes him a few seconds to answer.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 7:59 pm] Good enough?

Charles almost chuckles in self-mocking. Oh, darling, you have no idea, do you? The molten need urging him to arch his spine and hips pools like lava between his legs, causing his brain to pleasantly switch off while he gives in to the pleasure — the want — to flirt.

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:00 pm] There are no words to tell you what I’d like to do to that perfect body of yours.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:01 pm] Tell me. I want to hear it

He pauses. Does Erik… Last time, if he remembers correctly, Erik did ask him which way he would prefer they had sex. How educated is Erik in this area?

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:03 pm] What we’ve done… last time… have you ever tried it yourself?

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:04 pm] Yes.

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:04 pm] Do you like it?

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:06 pm] Occasionally, yes. Not with everybody. With the right person.

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:06 pm] Would I be one of them?

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:06 pm] Yes.

Oh Lord, the fantasies. A flattered, pleased part of Charles is singing in joy and desire. He has to shut his eyes and let the phone rest on his chest while he imagines them, imagines Erik flushed with urgency and that night-deep desire piercing his eyes as Charles takes that gorgeous arse. His cock eagerly shows interest at the thought. If only.

Typing the reply, his fingers caress the keypad on their own.

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:07 pm] Then, Erik, let me tell you that I’d love to part those dimpled, lovely cheeks of yours to slide in my cock between them

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:07 pm] Charles

Said Charles has to control his shallow breathing when he understands that the answer was motivated by breathless need. Oh, if only. That sound, right against his ear, in his mind. Why… why not?

Beware, Charles, beware of the heartbreak.

Well, alright, but there are some priorities in life.

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:07 pm] You would actually like that?

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:09 pm] Were you serious?

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:12 pm] If I am?

It took them both a few minutes of pondering to ask, that much is obvious. Neither of them seems to be eager to show their hand, which is understandable given what is at stake, but neither of them knows what the other is planning, either. Erik could very well be waiting for Charles’ admission to screenshot it or plainly crush him with a snide remark. It is partly a matter of stepping over shattered trust, and most of all, a game of beneficial risks.

Erik Lehnsherr handles these kinds of practical games like no one else. On their island of opposite ideals, Erik’s mind reigns as the Prince that Machiavelli warned the world about. His passionate, eloquent anger fossilized into an unreadable mask as time went on. There is no telling what lies behind.

Charles gulps down. Waits for the reply while a persistent stirring between his legs drains and feeds in turn his will to fight.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:13 pm] If you are, then yes, I would. I’d let you fuck me to the mattress repeatedly, if you were into it.

He gulps down again. His soul shivers. Can he change the end, if he changes the means? He allows himself time to think about it.

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:17 pm] When are you coming back, Erik?

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:17 pm] Tomorrow evening.

That is both a relief, and nowhere soon enough. He would need him now — naked and biting his lips and grabbing him possessively. Charles would need to talk to him, ask him what’s going on, what has been going on with him this past week. Maybe they’ll just fuck again, but Charles has to figure out where he himself stands before they see each other. He sighs, bracing himself for a night of frustration, and indicates:

[Charles F. Xavier, 8:19 pm] I’m going to stop this here for tonight, but if you’re really up for it tomorrow evening, I’ll be at the seniors’ farewell party in town. Meet me there at 9.

The full stop of this conversation comes quickly. Fills Charles with enough tentative hope to make him draw a small smile on his lips, even though the sour memory of past disappointments overshadow its softness slightly.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 8:20 pm] Alright. See you tomorrow.

 

*

 

The latin music dancing out of the overcrowded bar is reduced to a blurry guess in the otherwise quiescent street; giggling shrieks and the lower — but somehow louder — bass-deep sound of men's voices cover it with excited chatters about alcohol, sports and the finale of a popular TV show which involved dragons. Charles arrives at the party ten minutes before the meeting time. A mixture of apprehension and anticipation can be spotted in the way he busies his hands nervously in his pants pockets whereas his gait remains sure and casual, but his face relaxes into an instinctive smile immediately upon hearing his own name.

"Charles!"

He turns around to the voice, and greets cheerfully the students who called him. It is a beautiful night; the stars shine bright above their heads despite the bleary veil of city-grey pollution that stretches over the sky. Below, the colorful street lights splatter their inviting hues of red, orange and yellow on the dark silhouettes of humans and mutants alike. They are all the same. Charles can hear the irregular humming of their thoughts. He chats a bit with the group who hailed him, but, inwardly, he keeps looking for the one mind that interests him.

Soon, he excuses himself to stand alone by the entrance door. Watches his phone. 9 pm. Erik should be arriving any minute now. He fidgets, clears his throat. Adjusts the sleeve of his black shirt thoughtfully. He never wears black, what a ludicrous idea to start tonight. He’s not even sure it fits him. Charles feels like he dramatically dressed up and thus will look like a pretty fool since this isn’t a date, but it’s too late now, except if he texts Raven to— No, Erik will be here any minute now.

Towards 9:10 pm, two female students accost Charles to tell him not to stay alone and come inside with their group of friends. The telepath smiles nicely.

“Thank you,” he answers, “but I’m waiting for someone.”

His heart is luminous and jittery at the thought. He’s going to see Erik. And, seeing what they discussed last night, if he does come… Then, tonight — tonight will be memorable. Outstanding.

At 9:20 pm, Charles forces himself not to move, or to reach for his phone yet.

At 9:30 pm, Erik still isn’t here and hasn’t sent any text to warn Charles. The rest, he thinks, is obvious.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

“Here there is the greatest willingness, and where the willingness is great the difficulties cannot be great.”
― The Discourses of Niccolò Machiavelli

 

*

 

A prevailing fantasy paints women as foolish — with the revered, forgiving blindness of Saints — whenever it comes to love. Like cats retracting their claws to purr and knead at their master’s belly. But there is no reason deadly women should be any less self-serving, or any less fierce in love than they are when they struggle through that which interferes with their ambitions, especially if they fight for the happiness of their loved ones. Then, they are tigers.

Raven is known to be a true killing machine in two areas: the mutant cause, and whatever has to do with her brother’s overall safety — she would gladly continue slapping whoever hurts Charles besides herself.

Surprisingly enough, she trusts Emma Frost right away.

“Together?” The telepath snorts, unable to tamper the amused sarcasm in her voice. “Sugar, Erik gets flustered and broadcasts his puppiness in a mile radius every time the telepath messages him. The deal is far from being sealed, trust me.”

“Same for Charles. Last time, he pretended to drop by my apartment for tea, but I figured out his phone was acting funny and in the end, it was only to use the WiFi. He couldn’t bear not answering Erik until he got home, it was something about losing a game or whatever. They’re both ridiculous.” Emma cheers to the statement, drinking a sip of latte. Raven, on the contrary, is too restless for it. She’s excited to be able to talk about Charles and Erik with someone other than Hank. Her boyfriend lends her a patient ear, but he doesn’t get it. “Alright. So what do we do?”

“Nothing.” The word is definite, hard as a stone. Probably noticing her frustration, the telepath explains, “It’s underway. I give my champion one week max to seduce yours. I’m growing tired of it, so past this point, we might want to simply send them to couples therapy.”

Raven rolls her eyes. “They’ll make out in the waiting room.”

“Whatever, that’ll be better than hearing Erik’s lovey-dovey daydreams of showering the telepath with sex, food and long strolls in the park talking about mutants.”

“Oh my God.” Raven breathes out, grinning like crazy. “He’s perfect for him.”

 

*

 

Erik doesn’t come to the date. Meeting. Rendezvous. Oh, hell — Erik doesn’t come. Charles wants to be disappointed in him yet again, he wants to indulge in the bitterness of having been made a fool once again, but first, he hardens his posture, straightens his shoulders and pulls out his phone primly.

Faith is oftentimes a harder principle to live by than it appears. People don’t give enough credit to kindness.

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:34 pm] Erik, I realise that I didn’t give you the address. Here’s a screenshot of the location.

Time is always wickedly longer when we stand waiting. Charles’ social nature is both soothing and a curse in these kinds of situations; he isn’t intimidated by the crowd of strangers, but he itches to join the bubbling life erupting from the student party, so much that he can’t quite keep perfectly still. The response takes two more minutes to arrive, almost out of spite.

[Erik Lehnsherr, 9:39 pm] Lonely, Charles? Why not ask Brendan for his company?

It genuinely takes him too long to remember who that Brendan is — mostly because Charles dismisses the possibility that Erik might know him, might know . Dread and shock follow, when he realizes what’s happening.

How… When — Erik… knows he had a three way. How did he learn about it? Who else might know? His heart freezes for various reasons, but he suspects it’s mostly due to Erik’s sudden chilliness.

He starts typing various things, but then erases everything and settles for asking :

[Charles F. Xavier, 9:40 pm] How did you hear about this?

But no answer comes forth. Great. Astounding. Erik is — he’s… either angry, jealous, disgusted, disappointed, or all of the above, and Charles is crestfallen. He’s sick at heart at the idea that he might have somehow hurt Erik, even though he never hinted… Is this really his ego talking? Is this possessiveness?

[Charles F. Xavier 9:45 pm] Erik, if that’s why you won’t come tonight, we can talk about it. Where are you?

In fact, Charles only has the time to send the message and put his phone back in his pocket — even though he’ll probably grab it absentmindedly in about ten seconds — before a loud voice starts shouting in his direction, far closer than Charles would have expected it.

“You! It’s all because of you!”

In retrospect, Erik’s spiteful message at least had the merit of preparing him for this situation; Charles is far less thrown-off than he could’ve been when he suddenly gets grabbed by his shirt and pushed in the middle of the pedestrian street, to the drunk bystanders’ unconcealed interest. He barely manages not to trip over a plastic chair and the irregular, cobbled pavement.

“Brendan, please, don’t!”

Oh, if he had any doubt remaining, the charming chanting voice of the biology student he spent a night hearing clears it. Word did get out, then. Truly brilliant. And of course, Erik— The girlfriend actually tries to yank the man backwards, but he’s clearly liquored up and seems very intent on speaking his mind as he strides towards Charles.

“What are you doing?” She fumes. “Let’s go home!”

“Ever since we slept with you,” he starts shouting, jabbing his finger in Charles’ chest — and right now Charles strangely doesn’t feel quite as curious about his mutation which has to do with physical strength enhancement — “my girlfriend can’t stop thinking about you. She— All she talks about with her friends—” He stops himself, visibly pained and queasy, which goes straight to Charles’ compassion. “And now the entire campus knows!”

“Easy, mate.” He tries to soothe in a softer voice, actively self-conscious and embarrassed to be the center of attention for something as intimate as his first naughty threesome. His hand finds the man’s shoulder instinctively, but it’s quickly brushed off. “Look, I’m truly sorry this is happening to you, my friend, but let’s not make it worse, alright?”

Maybe he can walk them back to their apartment, to talk about it like adults. Or maybe the bloke should sleep it off first. Charles is a bit concerned for the girl’s safety, however.

“Are you going to be alright?” He inquires.

This was a mistake. “Don’t talk to her! ” Brendan roars, and it’s the last thing Charles hears before the meeting of his head with the pavement.

Charles is no light-weight, and he simply never had a proper fight with anyone, so it’s the first time in his life he gets knocked out and punched to the ground. It takes him quite a long second to process what is happening when his cheek kisses the cold ground. The sharp, hot pain on the other side of his face settles, making him dizzy, but he is quickly yanked to his feet viciously with abnormal strength before he can think about rolling away or using his powers.

“Brendan!”

“You had it coming!” The man thunders — which Charles can’t argue with— and once again he is brought down to the surprisingly wet, dark ground with a fist to his face. He stumbles back gracelessly before collapsing on his stomach. He really shouldn’t be noticing what a fine, warm night this is.

This time, Charles has the time to blink, and he is half-ready to stop the mutant when he turns on his side and —

And Erik suddenly appears out of nowhere, almost literally flying across Charles’ vision to strike down the man with a full swing punch. It slits the air furiously, making the wind howl in a whoosh. When Brendan stumbles back, Erik straddles him in his fall to keep beating the hell out of his face, despite the mutant having thick skin that won’t easily bruise. Fortunately.

Charles is so stunned he forgets to intervene. He stays on the ground long enough for Erik to get up reluctantly and look around for his telepath. Around them, people’s horror-stricken figures draw a very neat circle, which neither their whispers nor the occasional cheering had broken until all sounds withered into nothingness. For once, the music inside is louder than people’s chatter, for no one dares to even breathe.

It’s Erik Lehnsherr, Charles can nonetheless hear, like a tremor rippling through their minds, why did he step in? Erik Lehnsherr. Thought he hated Xavier. Erik Lehnsherr!

“Charles, are you alright?” Erik asks when he finds him.

Confused, antonymous words get tangled in the telepath’s brain, forcing him to blink, twice, before he props himself on his elbows to mumble dazedly, “Erik, you came.”

They stare at each other for a second like this, but there’s no telling what the meaning is of his friend’s unreadable expression. “Of course, I came, Charles. Get up. Did he hurt you?”

Erik’s hand firmly helping him to his feet is the grounding comfort he didn’t know he needed in his life. It isn’t sexual; it’s trust. It’s friendship. Images of battlefields come to his mind, with the unshakable, bizarre certainty that Erik would always be there, no matter whose banner they fight under, no matter on which side of the war they stand. Charles opens his mouth to answer him, oddly touched.

Neither of them see the man on the ground getting up and launching himself at Erik like a bawling buffalo, cutting him in the middle.

“Erik!”

This time, Charles is ready. He doesn’t have time to stop the two mutants from rolling on the ground towards the screeching crowd, nor to stop the first few punches which start to rain down on both of their faces, causing them to huff and groan in pain — especially Erik, who is facing the strong mutant without the use of his powers — but two fingers fly to his own temples as soon as he’s able to and he shouts, “Stop!”

When half a second later the fight is still raging, he immobilises everyone around himself save for Erik. Time itself seems to freeze. The veiled stars appear stiller than usual above the absurd scene. The street grows quiet, people are stopped mid-sentence or mid-motion, including Brendan, who stays with his fist in the air. His girlfriend is halfway to reaching out for him. It all seems like a pretty snapshot of human insanity for a second, before Erik understands what’s going on and takes the opportunity to grab the mutant’s face and headbutt him mercilessly, vengeful.

“Erik, no!” Charles reprimands, quickly marching to his side. “Let him, he did nothing wrong. It’s my fault.”

The fact that Erik would use his fists and fight this dirty like a baseline human doesn’t quite sit right with him, but he shakes the thought out of his head. There’s so much to think about right now.

Besides, the way the mutant is looking up at him is… most distracting. Erik’s chest is slightly heaving with exertion under the taut fabric of his fitted white shirt. Given the way he just glanced around him with blade-cutting acuity and turned back a heated, unwavering gaze to Charles, it wouldn’t be a far stretch to assume that the sudden display of boundless power turned him on.

But there are other things to think about right now. Unfortunately.

“Oh, Erik, you’re bleeding!” He coos as his body automatically crouches down to cup the mutant’s face for a second.

A nasty punch to his right temple broke the skin of his eyebrow arch, which now bleeds abundantly on the quickly forming black eye underneath. Charles sighs inwardly. Here goes his fantasies for the night — and not because blood isn’t disturbingly attractive on Erik. There are quite a few scenarios that come to mind… Well. The mutant doesn’t seem to mind his injuries in any case, and focuses his complete attention on Charles.

“It’s not your fault, Charles. How could it be?”

“We’re not talking about this here. Come with me,” he says, urging him up in his turn until they are both standing and his hand is circling Erik’s wrist firmly to pull him to the bar, where life suddenly starts anew, loud and hot while people outside gasp in confused surprise, “we need to stop the swelling. Hello! Please?”

While Charles asks for a clean fabric and a bag of ice, Erik casts another glance at the exit door, clearly intrigued by the extent of the telepath’s gift. The judgmental weight of the clear eyes which soon drift back to the large hand gripping his wrist is enough to make Charles feel self-conscious; he lets go, and tries to find composure by sitting on a bar stool. He thanks the bartender. Erik mirrors him.

They are both uncomfortably silent amid the resounding cries of exulted entertainment; but questions yet to be asked can make up for all the words unheard.

They know they need to talk.

However, their mutual worry for the other delays the first questions when Charles reaches out for Erik to wipe the blood off his face with the towel. Then, he applies the bag of ice to his right eye. The left one follows his movements, and settles on him. Unsettling. Intimate.

Charles realizes just how openly their bodies are angled towards each other; he half-starts when the mutant grabs the cold bag out of his grip to apply it to the telepath’s jaw instead, wordlessly. A stinging pain soars from his abused skin at the same time that he feels the hint of a blush spread on his cheeks. Without the biting solidity of ice between them, it would look like Erik was cupping his face tenderly. His heart leaps at the thought.

Erik’s soft voice sounds silky-warm, when he speaks.

“Here, you could use use some too, it’s going to bruise.”

“I’m fine, Erik. I’m fi— Enough!” He brushes him off with a frustrated sigh, catching the ice bag to put it back where it’s useful. “I’m fine . You should see your face, you clearly need it most.”

For once in his life, Erik doesn’t argue, but still he smirks a bit. “Is it ugly?”

“Yes, it is.” Charles winces and pinches his lips every time he spots the yellowish swelling surrounding the calm storm-bathed eye. The mutant remains unfairly handsome and close enough to touch however, which is probably the reason why he gulps down, moisturises his lips, and soon lets go of the bag freezing his fingers. “It’s quite painful to look at.”

“Good.” A pause. “As long as you’re not hurt.”

This has to be the least elaborated joke Charles has heard in a long time. “Oh, please. Since when do you care if I’m hurt?”

A dry chuckle, shaking the mutant’s chest once. “You don’t believe me. Fair enough, Charles. I thought I wouldn’t care to see them ruin you, to be honest; that’d teach you to be so naive, and then the most shallow of your devoted court would stop going after your pretty face, as if you weren’t more than that. What’s left of you you would more easily be mine then, perhaps.”

He punctuates his questionable, cryptic joke by a bitter tsk while knocking back a drink that isn’t his own, but appears to have been scotch. Charles, for his part, is blinking furiously. What?

“But I couldn’t stand watching you get hurt. Be proud, Charles, you win again. You own all of me, even in defeat.”

“What exactly are you on about?” He blurts out, positively dumbstruck. “Have you been bloody drinking before you came here?”

What the fuck is this trick? What’s this about him owning Erik and winning again, given what happened? Sure thing, Erik seemed interested in him enough to fuck tonight, but Charles started to doubt even that, when he didn’t show up.

“Did you actually come here for our date? Not date. Meeting. Fuck .” Before he can combust of humiliation, Charles starts massaging his eyes with his thumb and index, drawing in a long breath. He’s so confused.

Unfortunately, Erik doesn’t answer, and Charles is soon forced to look back at him, only to see that the mutant is now watching him with rapt attention. He usually doesn’t look any different when he tries to predict the telepath’s next four moves during a particularly complex chess game.

Not for the first time in the last five minutes, Charles’ eyes inadvertently dart to Erik’s tight white shirt and black pants. The unshakable thought that Erik also did dress up for tonight keeps nudging his reason, adding to other strange clues. To make it worse, Charles’ obvious longing quickly gets noticed, and the man gets slightly closer, invading his private space with his intoxicating presence.

They assess each other with gazes that lost their bite.

Erik asks, “Did you really sleep with him?” and, when Charles draws back with a sigh to turn to the bar, pondering his life choices and hating himself for caring about Erik’s opinion, the mutant goes on, “So you really wanted to try that threesome with a man, after all…”

It hurts, for some reason. Somehow, the mention of their past conversation, uttered with such a flat, defeated voice, dead hopes trailing on the end of that tongue, it stings and opens a scarred wound in Charles, who feels a geyser of anger and pain rise through it suddenly.

“I guess so.” He answers in a clipped tone.

Oh great, the words were marred with as much irritation as water. It doesn’t stop Charles from glaring sideways at Erik, who seems surprised to see the emotions battling in his eyes. Erik shouldn’t have the right to look so utterly clueless about what’s happening when he instigated everything.

“Why do you look at me like that?” He even has the balls to ask, but the genuine incredulity in his voice starts to confound Charles even more.

Erik notices it; caution comes cloaking that raw, painfully expressive, red-striped regret in the telepath’s blue eyes, so much that Erik is still detailing their life-quenching shade when Charles answers with a voice quivering in anger, “Because when I said I was considering sleeping with a man, I meant you, Erik.”

The world stops, turns upside down and up again.

His mind pauses with screaming silence. Long enough for Charles to start breathing a little faster, but not long enough for Erik’s brain to remember humans ought to blink once in a while. Charles wanted to sleep with me?

The absurdity of the reveal hits him hard in the face. His thoughts keep reviewing everything that happened, everything the telepath said, until it clicks, and he stammers pointedly, “But… you said… You said anyone but me…”

“For a threesome!” He immediately shouts back, visibly trying to both suppress his annoyance and read into Erik’s eyes as much as the mutant is trying to figure out the truth in his. The party is loud enough that the music covers his voice and no one save those who were outside are paying them any attention. “I had feelings for you, Erik, of course I wouldn’t want to share you with anyone! I wouldn’t bear it… I can’t even imagine it, just the thought of it, it’s —”

Seeing Charles turning his face away and closing his eyes in discomfort and pain would make Erik alert and concerned in any other situation, but right now… That unwillingness to let anyone else touch Erik, that selfishness, the one he knows all too well, because imagining Charles sleeping with another man made him insane with jealousy — to see it with his own two eyes, plain and amazingly real … It makes him want to grab Charles and draw him to his chest to embrace him forever. It’s an ugly, sweet happiness.

He doesn’t do anything yet, however. Instead, to make sure and to process the information, he asks, “You had feelings for me?”

The use of past tense almost tears out his throat.

“Yes!” The answer was almost cried out in frustration, but the next second Charles dismissively rubs a teary eye with the heel of his hand, cursing. Erik is very close to step in, and he is trying to decide on a safe place to touch Charles, until the telepath says, “Oh, and just in case, if you tell me not to cry, I’m going to positively murder you.”

“A tragic end, for someone who merely came here to get laid.” He quips mock-sternly.

A small, tentative smile eases the bitterness pursing the red lips, and Erik feels like he just won an Olympic medal. His dizzy soul tries to envision every new possibility this conversation could mean for them; he could try and make Charles happy. If he could revive those feelings — If he could somehow prove him — Or simply give him everything that he wants...

Would the mutant let him try putting the pieces back together? After all, Charles still looks uncharacteristically sad, which makes him uneasy — Erik has no idea how to deal with the feelings the sight rouses in him.

“I thought you hated me.” He settles for saying.

“Well, it doesn’t matter now, does it?”

The sour chuckle that follows the rhetorical question makes Erik frown in confusion. Why does he look so down-hearted? Spotting his scowl, Charles smile stretches, wan and forgiving.

“You made that Facebook profile to have leverage on me, it’s not exactly what I’d call mutual feelings.”

“What are you on about?” He blurts out, unconsciously repeating the man’s words.

He looks perplexed. “You—”

“I created it to get pics from you because I thought you’d never be interested in me.” Erik interrupts heatedly, leaning towards the mutant while his voice gets softer, hammering the words on Charles’ face as if he could drive the bare truth into his brain.

Said Charles starts, looking baffled and puzzled, his eyes widening in shock, confirming Erik’s suspicion. He had no idea. He can’t believe it; Charles had no idea. Erik realizes just what the telepath must’ve thought of their argument on the day he learnt about Emma Maximoff. Did he also think Erik was simply using him when they had sex?

Isn’t he a fucking telepath?

The abashed thoughtfulness that replaced the sadness on Charles’ face is given voice when he mutters, “Oh. Then… You mean...” but his voice trails off, unsure and too shy for Erik’s liking.

Now that he has a better idea of what has been going on and the nature of the misunderstanding, he doesn’t hesitate to put his hand on Charles’ forearm and squeeze firmly. The telepath’s lashes flutter to him, mouth slightly agape, naked conflict begging him to answer what he can’t ask.

Erik tries not to notice how utterly ravishing Charles looks tonight, fails, and asks, “Can we go out?”

The decision seems to ground the mutant. “Yes, we need to discuss this.”

Erik nods, starts to get up. Stops as soon as he catches the telepath’s shaky sigh. The same disturbing feeling clutches at Erik’s heart, but this isn’t something they can settle here; his hand moves up his arm, circling part of his bicep.

“Stop crying, Schatz.” He murmurs in his ear, damning the fact that he can’t kiss Charles here, kiss him until the telepath becomes certain that he owns Erik completely, and that he should never fear he’d hurt him on purpose, not as far as their relationship is concerned, at least. He smiles a bit, however, because Charles goes rigid at the mention of his outburst of emotion. “Everything is my fault. Come on, come with me.”

“I’m seriously going to smash your head on that counter.” He sighs again with dramatic exasperation, which would make Erik grin if he wasn’t taking very seriously what was about to happen.

Feeling the weight of whispering stares observing them with interest, like scientists gathering around a glass cage, he inquires, mindful of Charles’ reputation, “Can you conceal us?”

Erik couldn’t care less about other people’s opinion, but if rumors started to get out that they had an affair, most would question Charles’ decision to appoint the head of the opposing party as his right hand. He would be hurt. And Erik can only threaten so many people at once.

 

*

 

The night holds the meaning of untold desires. Its onyx coat shines softly with the evocative implication that time has run down its course and dreaded, exciting decisions should be made on the spot, if one fears that the arrival of the revealing daylight will smother bad decisions and fluttering hearts alike. Between the shy punctuation of stars, the sky stretches like a canvas smeared all over with the ink of hopes and expectations. Should I do it? Is the heady taste of obscurity thrilling enough?

Erik and Charles come out of the bar and walk far enough from the crowd that they are quickly greeted by the road. There, Charles stops and looks around distractedly, while Erik remains motionless as a watchful statue. The fresh darkness of the pleasantly warm night crushes them instantly, making uncomfortably obvious where the unspoken question lies.

Erik has no way to know if Charles’ expectations of the evening match his own, or if said expectations are still the same as they were the day before, so he can’t help analyzing the nervous fidgeting.

After three to five seconds of watching the deserted road on their left, the telepath finally turns around and offers unblinkingly, “My flat is three roads down this street, if you would like to talk peacefully around a drink.”

Usual expectations never applied to them, so it’s impossible to tell whether Charles still wants them to have sex or not. Keeping his thoughts to himself, Erik merely nods and doesn’t wait for the mutant to start walking down the road he indicated. At the last moment, he remembers the bag he’d thrown off his shoulder and to the ground when he spotted the telepath being hit by Brendan, and he turns around, warning Charles with a “Wait.”

Fortunately for him — his laptop is inside — his black bag still lies forgotten in the shadows, untouched.

On top of it, the remains of a disheveled bouquet of flowers, half-bruised by their fall.

The certainty that Erik had earlier when he bought them now blooms in an annoying, chastising self-awareness. Would Charles like them? He stays bent over the bouquet for a couple of seconds, trying to decide if this would still be appropriate, until an unfortunate pattern of detached footsteps echoes on the pavement to stop by his side.

“What is it, Erik?”

Charles’ hands are casually buried in the pockets of his pants, his voice sounds genuinely interested, and, even without glancing sideways, Erik knows his black shirt still makes his eyes and lips and even the carefully kept hair stand out against the unusual colour. He looks like a dream date. Erik’s shoulders heave slowly when he ends up sighing in irritated defeat. He picks up both the flowers and the bag, but only has a second to remove a few orphan petals before the telepath’s eyes settle on the bouquet.

They widen slightly when Erik hands it to him. He was right; the flowers pale next to the beautiful intelligence flashing on his face, and he feels ridiculous. A self-conscious shiver crawls up his outstretched arm.

“I bought them for you. You’re free to refuse it.” He quickly adds, when the mutant’s lips part in shock.

Charles eventually blinks, more out of need to make sure he isn’t dreaming than necessity. But Erik is still standing in front of him, offering him flowers — flowers! — and he is all at once a bit affronted - interesting; toxic masculinity at work, surely - wary, and very much trying to suppress the molten affection the sight arouses in him.

Because, oh, if Erik wasn’t already a sharply-cut jewel himself, the beautiful bouquet of red roses stud with white tulips here and there now made him a worthy candidate of those appalling reality TV shows where a princess gets to choose between ten dreamy contenders. Charles has an inkling that one hundred candidates of all genders could come and he’d only have eyes for Erik, if Erik courted him.

The delicately-crafted metal cage which binds the stems of the flowers together and runs around them like leaf-shaped ivy especially catches his attention. Red and white and charcoal. Erik would look lovely on sheets and pillows of these colors.

The silence accidentally stretches for a few seconds too long; Charles barely speaks up fast enough to stop Erik from turning around and disappearing in a few abrupt steps.

“I wouldn’t think of refusing them.” He says honestly, and gently pries the bouquet out of Erik’s grasp, his eyes on the wonderful artwork his friend made for him. If he had remaining doubts about Erik’s sincerity regarding his interest for him, this pretty much solved it. Won’t solve everything, but the gesture counts. “I’ve never been offered flowers before.”

“I figured as much.” He says in a tight, yet relieved voice, and Charles soon realizes they resumed walking side by side to his flat, in the eerily quiet streets. “I simply thought I should bring you something, but I finished my shift late, and at this hour, only the nearest convenient shop was still open. I didn’t want it to be a bottle of vodka.” Erik said vodka with a distinctive Russian accent, or maybe it was just German. “I wasn’t sure how you felt about flowers, but flowers were the most fitting gift for you, since they didn’t sell books. Besides, you are apparently attracted to dry and thorny things.” He insinuates, and loses the most charming self-deprecating smirk in Charles’ direction.

A pause, as the contemplative silence reclaims its right, and then, “That’s why I wasn’t here on time.”

“Oh, that’s why you weren’t there on time, then. I thought you’d just learnt about my rowdy sexlife, my friend.” Charles teases, with a bit more venom than necessary. He is still not quite over the insulting vision Erik holds of him.

Erik’s calculating glance is enough of an admission. “That, too. Your sister stormed into my apartment when Emma told her I intended not to come.”

Charles would prefer being annoyed at his sister for interfering in this, but he finds himself chuckling. Oh, he’ll definitely ask her about this, if it ended up with Erik buying him flowers and rescuing him in the most cliché and savage adaptation of a romance movie. If he gets to get laid tonight thanks to her, Charles will never hear the end of it.

“I’m glad she did. Otherwise I never would’ve received this clever metal vase. It’s lovely, thank you, Erik.”

When Erik’s beehive of thoughts turns bed-warm and soft, they meld to sing one pure note of pleasure — and Charles has to remain focused not to pry into his mind. So tempting.

“I made it on the way.” Is all he says, flatly, and they desperately need to talk about what’s happening and what happened between them, because it’s becoming harder and harder for Charles to hold back on using his telepathy and falling in love all over again.

He’s admittedly more than a bit smitten with the man already.

When silence settles over them, only disrupted by their wet footsteps and the faint sound of city life, their hands eventually end up brushing as they walk, and both of them know it’s not by accident. A coy, breathless exhilaration short-circuits their heartbeats. The touch happens again, and again, until one of them curls his fingers around the other’s, and they keep walking hand in hand without yet talking of much more than politics, current affairs and the latest news about the amendments they worked on together.

Erik’s thoughts don’t stop singing.

 

*

 

By the time they are standing in front of the building Charles lives in, a special mixture of happiness and painful hope is leaving them both short-winded and confused.

Taking the elevator with Erik seems like an extremely risky venture given how much more tantalizing, insisting pressure they are now putting against the other’s sturdy hand, so Charles heads for the stairs, leading the way. After all, he does want them to speak honestly before they start anything more… decadent. And Erik seems very eager to get to the decadent part. Simply imagining Erik maybe being impatient to have Charles fuck him in his bed is making it increasingly hard not to initiate things right away, in this very hall entrance. Patience, Charles, his mind soothes, hold onto hope first.

As soon as the mutant understands they’re going to climb the stairs — second floor, not that much of a climb — he chuckles and, without bothering to lower his voice, he asks, “Is that the secret to your firm ass?”

Why, thank you, he thinks, more than a bit pleased Erik would love his body, but instead of voicing that, he opens the march, which puts Erik’s eyes about the level of aforementioned behind, and answers dismissively, “Believe it or not, I dropped out of the running club years ago, and I never exercised willingly ever since.”

When he looks over his shoulder to smile at the mutant, he realizes that the man lifted his eyebrows in surprise and is now eating him with his eyes from head to toe.

“Impressive.” He says, reverently, and Charles is slightly aware that he drags Erik a bit quicker up the stairs.

 

If the vague unhappiness that radiates off Erik when he lets go of his hand is to be trusted, the end of the contact feels a bit like a loss to them both. However, as soon as they get inside the apartment, kick off their shoes and pass by the first open door on their left, Charles suddenly remembers why it was such a bad idea to invite Erik here in the first place.

Going for casual but actually trotting to the door of his study with a fair amount of panic flashing in his eyes, Charles says, “Oh, please excuse me for a second.”

He closes it just in time. Doesn’t have the time to breathe out; behind him, Erik appears, and looks through the door for a moment.

“Why is the sculpture I made for you in that room?”

Well, shit. Charles curses under his breath, presses two fingers against shut eyelids, suddenly embarrassed and very much blushing. He should have known Erik would be able to detect it with his powers. Hell, the artwork takes up most of the room. How is he going to explain this, now? This is a bit mortifying, and not only because it makes his feelings for Erik extremely obvious.

“Of course you’d sense it, wouldn’t you?” He sighs. “I… may have bought it back from our sponsor after the auction, at the gala. I couldn’t do it directly, of course, it would’ve looked like I used my personal money to finance our events. But I loved it so much, Erik, I couldn’t part from it. Especially since you sculpted it for me.”

He never intended to be anything less but truthful with Erik. Especially tonight. Nonetheless, exposing his selfishness and indecent fortune to the mutant’s judgement once again… is quite unpleasant. When Charles faces him again however, he is looking right back, unperturbed.

“I’ll make you more of them, if you want. ” He offers unceremoniously, hands joined behind his back, bowing his head slightly like a craftsman sealing a deal with members of the imperial court.

Erik understands right away that it was the right thing to say; Charles’ face lightens up with interest, unable to hide neither his constant intellectual excitement nor his wondering thoughts about his powers. Erik would create him a thousand sculptures if it made him happy.

An unbearable softness subdues the pleased surprise on the telepath’s face — so soft, in fact, that Erik has to dig his nails into his other hand to stop himself from reaching out to his face and kissing him. He doesn’t try to conceal how much he wants to, however.

“I’d love that very much.” Charles says, and then lightly taps him on the shoulder as he passes him by to invite him further inside the apartment with a “Come on”.

Charles’ place is as much large and modern as it is cozy and slightly untidy. Scattered books and papers on tables, shelves and counters are responsible for the minor mess around, but otherwise the place is as clean as it could be. Original books from Machiavelli pile up next to an armchair made of wood and red velvet. Erik details everything as Charles walks through the spacious living-room to head for the adjoining kitchen, gesturing for the couch with a hand.

“Please, make yourself at home.” He invites gallantly; Erik takes to his word and falls down on the brown couch — old leather, by the smell of it. Everything here looks expensive and either traditional or state-of-the-art. “I’ve got the feeling that we have much to talk about, so I’m going to make myself some tea. Do you want something to drink?” He keeps speaking, ranting slightly, which doesn’t displease Erik in the least. “Oh, and you came right from work, didn’t you? Do you need a shower?”

The mutant takes a few silent seconds to watch Charles take out a clear vase and put the flowers in it to display on the counter, with a gentle gleam in his very blue eyes. He has to raise his voice a bit since Charles is now already microwaving water, which Erik is pretty sure would give heart attacks to most of the people the telepath usually refers as his fellow British compatriotes.

“No for the shower, I had one at work before I left. A beer, if you don’t mind.”

He can’t keep still. After a minute and a half of looking around and snorting at a terrible article on peaceful cohabitation between humans and mutants which doesn’t take into consideration the latest events at all, Erik gets up and actually joins Charles in the kitchen. He first intended to simply watch him, but the enticing sight of the telepath busying himself preparing tea and seemingly unaware of his gaze on him makes him come closer, until he can press himself against Charles and finally feel all of him.

Home is the word that comes to mind.

The telepath doesn’t start — which tells Erik that he did know he was here — nor does he stop what he was doing, at least until the mutant takes it as permission to go on and circles his stomach with his hands, leaning against his smaller frame to peer at the counter, intimate. Charles’ hands drop the mug to settle palms down on the gray surface. The sound of his inhalation is sharp, enticing, brings him closer to his skin.

He missed him so much during those two weeks and a half. Once again, Erik doesn’t try to conceal the effect the telepath has on him; he shifts so as to press his quickly hardening erection to the clothed backside. Charles tenses with a deep gasp.

“Do you need help?” He inquires — purrs, low, punctuating the offer with a dishonest trailing of his lips on the bare neck. Warm. He could stay here for hours. It quickly turns into a kiss, light, too light compared to the pounding between his legs and the firmness of Charles leaning back against him with a needy moan.

He rewards him with more kisses, to which he adds his tongue. Charles wants it too. He wants him . Erik can’t get enough of him; the situation is tempting beyond reason, and he hasn’t been in his right mind since he learnt that Charles has — that he had feelings for him.

“Erik… Please.” The telepath pleads in a throaty, rich voice. A hand previously on the counter reaches down to caress Erik’s thigh gently, which only makes him more hungry. “Erik — We both know it would take very little to go down that road, but it’s high-time we had a chat about everything that happened.”

Charles is right. Nonetheless, the telepath is still pressing back against him, and even bared his neck for Erik to explore as he spoke, so he can’t help but grin briefly and say affectionately, “That’s a very weak rebuttal, Charles. One could think you’d like me to go on.”

“I do.” He immediately replies, panting now that Erik slid a hand under his tight black shirt to slowly caress his chest until he reached a nipple, which he brushes and teases and pinches into hardness while he makes sure the telepath’s neck will stay red from his wet kisses and playful nibbling. Just above the strong tendons, his skin is starting to bruise from the blows he received to the jaw. By all means, it shouldn’t be that arousing a look on him. The moan turns into a brief, surprised whine at the contact of his tongue. “I really do. God, what you can do with those lips of yours… I can’t think, Erik, you turn my brain into jelly.”

Charles smiled into the remark but, given how much of a crush Erik has on the man’s impressive intellect, it only made a burst of hot desire rush up and down his body. He quickly disentangles himself from Charles, aware that he will calcinate himself gladly if he doesn’t step away from the fire right now. One last kiss under his jaw — he can’t claim his lips, at the risk of drowning them both — another on his temple, already regretful, longing, and he forces himself to step back slowly.

“Make it quick.” He says, and heads back to the couch with his fresh beer in one hand and Charles’ scalding tea in the other.

The telepath follows him. Sits barefoot with his legs crossed at the knees, facing the mutant. Thanks him when he hands him his tea, cheers with a tiny smile when Erik knocks his mug with the glass bottle, but both of them only take a sip before turning their undivided attention to the other.

Alright. Well, it’s a tad more formal than their last encounter, but —

Charles covers a cough with his fist, and starts, “Alright, Erik. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if you had more experience talking about relationship expectations than I do. I have failed spectacularly at being in a meaningful one until now, and I think — The thing is…”

He gets interrupted by the realization that the mutant moved closer as he spoke; Erik’s arm is now resting on top of the sofa, next to Charles’ face, and, be it intentional or not, his position is now one of open flirt. The toothy smirk he attacks him with is so irritatingly handsome that Charles feels inexplicably annoyed.

“Were you listening to me at all?” He reproaches, and, there, there again, he can spot a strange wound in his voice.

The smirk evolves into a grin, and Erik leans his torso inches closer, ready to speak into the ear he knows is very sensitive. “Of course, Charles. I can do more than one thing at a time.”

Oh, for goodness’ sake! The red annoyance spurts, crusting in his throat, until Charles has to wonder why Erik’s behaviour is getting to him so much. You fear he is only here for sex after all, my friend.

That would be the last blow, but he would take it. He knew what he signed up for the day before when he invited him here, so why… Oh, blessed the pessimist souls, who never brighten their path with the fleeting light of hope. No. Hope is essential.

“Erik,” he snaps, pinching the bridge of his bumpy nose between his fingers, “I’m not joking. All of this started because we didn’t dare speak to each other about how we really felt, but I can’t make this work if you don’t help me. Blast it, I don’t even want it if you’re not going to try.”

The now customary frustration rises, and rises, and sours into a disappointment that leaves a burning trail behind his dry eyes. Charles has no choice but to turn his face away and draw in a long, stuttering breath as he sinks against the sofa. God, he must have sounded so wanting and bitter.

“My apologies, Erik. I’m thinking about this seriously.” He sighs, observing the cream-coloured mouldings embellishing the ceiling rather than his interlocutor. A dry, sad chuckle escapes his lips. “Probably too seriously.”

“No.”

The single word holds as much grim certainty as the memory of old, cold winters. Frost, cold and death, with the unshakable warmness of a family gathered around a candle. It makes him turn his face on the head of the sofa to look at Erik. Grim, unshakable, the candle burning in his all-too serious eyes.

“No, Charles, you’re not. I’m very serious about you, too.”

A tender, tired smile springs from the admission on the telepath’s lips, drawing Erik closer, but this time, no remains of flirtation alter his determination to make him understand .

“I didn’t mean to upset you. If you want to speak about what happened, fine. If you want me to tell you that…”

Then, strangely, his voice trails off into sudden muteness, soundless even when his gaze remains so fierce and hot — aggressive, without invading Charles’ space. Erik gulps down, tries to speak without moving a single facial muscle, and the telepath can feel the emotion threatening to take over, overwhelm his friend, so he places a hand on his thigh and strokes his knee with his thumb.

“I can’t —” He finally says, frowning, “This is—”

“I know.” Charles soothes, feeling much better now that he’s starting to understand what Erik is going through. “I know you, my friend.”

“I’m not lying.” He insists, as intently as if they were at a political debate discussing the future of the nation.

“I know you’re not. Don’t worry, Erik, if you need more—”

“Will you let me show you?” The mutant interrupts, grabbing Charles’ wrist to press his palm against his own temple, never breaking eye-contact.

Out of surprise, Charles blinks and automatically sits up. Moisturises his lips with his tongue distractedly. Excitement almost makes him stumble over his words. “You’re going to let me in?”

Carefulness and immediate arousal quarrel inside him; Erik couldn’t offer something better, not even if he let him top and fuck his delightful body. Being inside this mind…

“I only told you not to because I didn’t want you to find out that I was impersonating a woman just to flirt with you.” Derisive squares of chocolate liquefy and roll in that deep voice, but they are even sweeter when he affirms, “I don’t have anything to hide anymore. Probe and search all you want, Charles, I’m all yours to experiment on.”

The phrasing bothers the telepath, but Erik is clutching at his wrist hard enough to make him understand that it is what he really wants. Knowing how the mutant feels — how he really felt all this time Charles suffered. Knowing Erik, whom he has always been attracted to, has always been trying to know better…

The telepath sits even straighter on the sofa. His attention goes back and forth between Erik’s fearless determination and the painful-looking swelling at the end of his eyebrow arch, where the skin broke and now appears tender. He just wants to take care of him. The clumsy touch against the scissor-sharp temple melts into a softer gesture; Charles cups Erik’s cheek and jaw between his blunt fingers, falls deep.

“It won’t hurt at all,” he promises, “I won’t go where you don’t want me to go, so please trust me.”

“Of course I trust you.”

Charles appreciates the true value of the mutant’s confident stillness, who accepts his hand and goes as far as directing it to his mouth for a second, long enough to deposit his lips on his trapped wrist. Black lashes darken his heated gaze.

“Ready, Erik?”

A half-smile, predatory and utterly charming. “Let’s find out.”

Power rushes from the core of Charles’ body to the tip of his fingers. He assumes it wouldn’t be any easier to thrust gently and progressively in Erik’s open body than it is at this moment to penetrate his willing mind. He has been waiting and holding back for so long, muting the mutant to a vague buzzing sound when his thoughts are the most fascinating he has ever seen. Pragmatic and yet overflowed with unbridled, raw emotion. His anger is rough, dyes his world in red over black and white, but Erik Lehnsherr is so much more than that. This is only the surface, the barbwire Charles encounters first.

Then. Oh, such goodness and love get smothered by his relentless guard. This isn’t a surprise. Both the goodness and the love are about to burst against their cage of fear and pain, but Charles knows the thorns have already been here for years. He won’t take a look at the memories crafting the iron bars, can’t — they’re shaping Erik’s being, he needs to earn that trust. But as soon as Charles touches what he came for — Erik’s conception of Charles Xavier — a blast of powerful feelings explodes in his own mind, blinding him momentarily.

Friendship. Pain. Respect. Pain, like a million needles forcing Erik’s heart to still and harden.

Love.

Pain, pain, please. Charles, Charles, Charles Charles

Images of himself surge all of a sudden in front of his mental eye. Memories, fantasies, subconscious, hurtful hopes. Everywhere. The first time they met. The first time Erik realized he was staring at his lips. Their arguments. Waking up beside him. Kissing him goodbye when they go to different classes. The first time he understood Charles would never be interested in him. Fucking him raw and making him come over and over again with the pleading cry of Erik’s name on his lips. Anyone but me. A smile, blooming, pure, surrounded by light, as Charles states happily, “Erik, you came”. Anyone but me. Spending the rest of their lives together. Hand in hand, boarding a flight. Chess. Preparing him breakfast, hoping for a kiss. The unusual feeling of texting him daily the week before. Happiness? Emma Maximoff, having a part of Charles for himself. Himself, himself, no one else’s. A whole world to build, side by side.

Erik distinctly feels the moment the telepath pulls out. His vision is restored, though maybe he was able to see all along, and the memories fade while his brain remains agape, all barriers down for some reason, leaving him raw and open. Had he not remembered what was happening by hearing Charles, he would have gathered all the metal in the room to send deadly splinters flying in all directions.

“Oh, Erik…” His name, finally softened, no more the venom or the curse. Charles used to say it smiling. Maybe he would again, one day. “I want that too, my friend.”

I want that too. His heart thumps, once, trying to figure out the meaning of the words. What did Charles see? Everything. Does he want…? Is he really saying…? It takes him a few seconds to realize that Charles’ forehead is now pressed against his shoulder, and he wastes no time curling his fingers over his stretched nape as a grounding, possessive touch, running the end of his nails against the thinner hair.

He can’t speak. If he does, the gears of his throat will break. And yet, he has to.

Erik forces the raspy words out, is stunned when a tear unrelated to the question falls down his cheek.

“What do you want?”

“Everything I’ve seen. All of it.” Charles sounds equally affected by the experience, though his voice remains steady, dreamy, far away. His arms come circling Erik’s waist and a new deluge of a happiness so foreign it hurts swells in his chest, choking him perfectly. Against him, Charles seems amazed, incredibly relaxed. Contented.

“I can feel everything you’re feeling, my friend.” He murmurs. Far away, far away.

The telepath wouldn’t sound any different if he was high, but the gentle touch on his back is present enough, insistent enough that Erik need not worry. Can Charles really hear everything?

I’m still inside your mind, darling, he hears then, to his surprise — how strange to feel Charles’ body, to actually hear his breathing, and sense his voice inside his head. This is overwhelming. Everything he wanted. Everything he can’t afford to have, for fear of losing it all, all at once.

Your love for me has been rooted in so much pain for so long. Everything you’re feeling, Erik, is drowned in so much fear of being hurt.

The kindness of those words poorly covers the wounds they open in Erik like surgical pliers removing a tumor. He feels so raw, so vulnerable, and Charles’ touch is most welcome when the telepath starts cupping his face again with both hands, looking back at him for the first time since he entered his mind. Don’t let go, his being orders confusedly, I won’t let you let go.

Blue eyes. They shine, they smile at the corners, forgiving and accepting whatever Erik is projecting right now. It can’t be anything very manly, because Charles busies himself wiping trails of tears with his thumbs for a few seconds. Then, the telepath tilts his head to the side, and smiles with regret in his eyes.

“No one has ever properly taken care of you, have they?” He asks, detailing him with such softness Erik doesn’t recall having seen anything like it since the smile of his mother. “Would you let me try? That must be difficult for you, I didn’t even once see a fantasy of me making sure you become happy. I hope you give me at least a little credit on that account.” He laughs quietly, but the sound gets lost in the room.

Erik gulps down, tries to speak. Charles kisses him when he can’t.

Despite his desperate attempt to prolong the contact, the telepath pulls away after a few seconds, just enough to chuckle and bite his bottom lip guiltily.

“I am making you so uncomfortable, my friend, I’m sorry. I truly am, I enjoy seeing this side of you very much, and I shouldn’t be taking advantage of you with my powers. Let’s take this to my bedroom, shall we? A more even battleground for you to fight on. If you still want it, that is.”

“Yes.”

“Wonderful. Do you…?”

“Yes.” He chides in, and takes Charles’ mouth in a breathless kiss.

He kisses him until he can’t stand it anymore. He kisses those lips and that man until he has to grab him by the shirt to pull him up with him, and they stumble into the bedroom, knocking off an ugly china of a fat cat to the ground as they go. Charles tells him it wasn’t ugly, it was a gift, but Erik kisses him harder, hard enough to bruise his jaw even more with his fingers.

 

*

 

He kisses him until he is sure Charles must be seeing stars for all scenery, until he has no oxygen left to breathe but Erik’s — and the telepath stumbles back, light-headed, giving just as much though without ferocity. He kisses him until the back of Charles’ knees hit the bed, and then he pushes him with a light push to the center of the chest. He watches him collapse and smile as he props himself on his shoulders, looking back with mischief and his body on display. Broad shoulders, cherry-split lips, an air of knowing they’re going down.

The things he wants to do with him makes him remember something.

“Wait.” Erik says, and goes to fetch his bag, taking a paper out of it and handing it to Charles, “I’ve run some tests since last time.”

The telepath takes it out of politeness when Erik raises an expectant eyebrow. The outline of a very prominent erection is still visible on his tailor pants, so Charles doesn’t waste any time scanning the results — although his eyes do dart now and then to his friend’s insanely delicious-looking crotch.

How thoughtful of him to provide him with the results of a test. It is true that last time was a tad… chaotic and sloppy, but he had not expected Erik to be sorry about it. Of course, now that his thoughts are open to him, Charles knows better.

“You didn’t have to show me, but thank you.” He says, more grateful for the gesture than for the content of the paper. “Do you want to see mine? I’ve done some too, it’s in the top drawer of that dresser. And, well, it was done just after you, but nothing I’ve done last week could possibly change the results.”

“I don’t need to see it.”

The way he calmly covers his eyes, which lower to the test, partially hides the slight twitch that contorts his traits. It’s clear, however, that Erik would rather change the subject.

Charles scoffs, but the sarcastic gibe hurts less now that he can smile about it. “You don’t need to see the STD screening of the debauched flirt sleeping with half of uni?”

“No, I knew you used protections. I hoped you did.”

“Very well. But please take a look, Erik,” he goes on, indicating his dresser with his chin, “if that can make you more at ease… I don’t want it to weigh on your subconscious.” He wants Erik fully immersed in the present moment, both of them, knowing what they are doing to each other. Glancing up the length of Erik’s elongated body as he walks away, he finishes, “Seeing as I intend to toy with it a little bit while we have sex.”

He doesn’t answer, but the thrill of arousal and anticipation coursing all over his mind is enough of a surrender, and Erik doesn’t waste time coming back to the bed once he reads Charles’ negative test.

“No syphilis.” The mutant jokes, bending over him to start unfastening the buttons of Charles’ black shirt. It almost has a chaste, caring look to it. “I’m pleasantly surprised.”

“Fuck you kindly.”

The inelaborate retort causes him to grin. Judging by the glimmer in his eyes, he seems sinfully pleased. “I live to serve.”

How long has it been since he’s been the cause of Erik’s smiles? Has he ever seen him so relaxed? Charles knows the mutant is thinking the same about him each time delight and happiness show on his face. This is still Erik. Everything about his passion, his suppressed pain, the intelligence and determination at work right now screams Erik. But the mask dropped.

The curtain fell. It now serves them as a bed.

“Does that mean… we can keep having sex that way?” Charles inquires, a bit shyly.

His breath comes faster to his lips when the pads of Erik’s fingers accidentally brush over his clenching stomach. His belt is next to go, with the help of the mutant’s handy gift, and Charles is almost already panting. It turns him on so much. Erik smirks deviously in his direction, looking absolutely like a feline enjoying the slow killing of a little bird.

“That’d mean a monogamous relationship.” The smile sobers; Erik’s penetrating gaze becomes careful as he chooses his words mindfully. “Is that what you’re asking?”

Oh, yes. Charles bites his lip and thinks about the answer, because this isn’t about what he wants; he can’t hurt Erik.

Fortunately enough, meanwhile, the rest of his clothes go much faster, and Charles sits up to make a quick work of Erik’s, until both of them are completely naked and it becomes nearly idiotic to not mindlessly kiss Erik’s flat, muscular stomach that’s just an inch from his face. Oh, the hard feeling of that taut skin nearly cutting his lips… Fingers weave through Charles’ hair, petting him, pulling when Erik gets impatient to hear the answer.

“I’m leaving soon, Erik.” The words are heavy with regret.

The bed creaks — two strong thighs straddle him on the bed.

“In two months.” Is the emphatic answer. “Two months, Charles. I want to enjoy you while I can.”

Maybe then you will come back to me when you return. The telepath hears in his mind, but it so painfully echoes his own sad hopes he doesn’t want to think about it. He dreams of Erik waiting for his return.

“Then yes, Erik, I’m asking. If you can trust me to be serious about a monogamous relationship, of course.” He adds with caustic petulance.

“Are you going to pester me about it every day? Or shall I put your mouth to better use?”

Charles’ first reaction is to moan aloud against Erik’s navel; his cock jerks at the thought combined with the gentle pulling back of his head which exposes his throat and face mercilessly. Erik’s dark eyes burn like a pair of blue supergiant stars. Blue stars always burn the hottest in the universe, and no fire could gleam brighter than those two orbs of playful desire.

“Yes.” Charles answers ambiguously.

His own lids almost flutter closed with pleasure when Erik’s imposing cock brushes over his shoulder and neck. Oh, God. His mouth falls open out of his own accord, and a thought escaping from Erik’s mind has Charles’ dick releasing a bead of precome.

When his shaft and the head of his erect penis strokes higher, from his jaw to the spot below his ear, the telepath exhales shakily. Moans again when Erik insists with an intimate touch and spreads wetness to his temple. Oh, God. His shaft is almost brushing against his open lips. He honestly isn’t sure he couldn’t come from this alone. Especially with Erik’s gaze on him, Erik’s vision of him loving every bit of Charles falling apart just from having his cock so near his face and mouth.

“Erik, have mercy.” He pants, grabbing the upper-part of his thighs, begging when he meant to laugh. Charles gulps down, closes his eyes for a second when Erik doesn’t comply and moves to draw the shell of his ear. The sound of it is so lewd his eyes roll back behind his lids. He is going to burn. “All of it, it’s still — rather new for me.”

“We can slow down.” The mutant offers, withdrawing immediately, and Charles can’t help it; despite his body’s sharp disappointment, he reaches up behind the man’s neck and brings him to his lips.

They kiss hungrily while finally positioning themselves correctly on the bed. Erik crawls with him on his four, groaning, and it is only by sheer power of will and self-control that Charles succeeds in freeing his lips from the mutant’s insistent exploration. Oh, he’s delicious. So skillful, so passionate, uncompromising, and he chose him. Charles feels like he just won the lottery. Erik Lehnsherr, in his bed.

“Let me take a look at you.” He finally manages to say.

Charles never quite managed to see him fully, and now he can’t wait to admire that impossible man in all his glory. Reluctant, Erik nonetheless complies to his request and unenthusiastically sits back on his heels and on the telepath’s crotch. It takes only a second in his mind to sense the mild insecurity and wariness.

Charles is used to women.

He smiles fondly, and barely holds back a chuckle; he wouldn’t want to vex Erik, but the thought of him not being attracted to this body is ridiculously laughable.

If anything, Charles is now sure Erik didn’t use Photoshop; he is as aesthetically pleasing as a fine piece of art, as alluring as a Greek god. Charles is suddenly grateful their species decided to wear clothes, otherwise this 3D painting would be responsible for car accidents if Erik decided to walk around naked in the streets. The fact that he is so generously endowed doesn’t help, but the curvy line that starts from his narrow hips and long waist and ends to his large shoulders in a concave marvel captivates Charles just as much. And only because he is already used to his appealing chiseled face.

“Erik…” He finally lets out, dry-mouthed, after a good thirty seconds of contemplation.

His hands wandered everywhere he could reach, from the twin powerful thighs to the bony hips, the ridges of his abs and the defined pectorals; the biceps, and then his arms, where the tender skin covers veins which run to his wrists like lazy straits to the sea. His fingers go back to the hips, mesmerized, where Erik’s bones draw the most immoral V shape leading straight to his groin. Charles can literally fit his thumbs under them to hold the mutant. For a moment, he can’t believe it.

“Erik, my friend, you’re a wonder.”

He doesn’t answer. His face alone wouldn’t be enough to know what he is thinking, but the rhythm of his chest rising and falling increases, deep, slow still, and his mind—

His mind! Every time Charles touches a soft spot with words and thoughts, Erik punishes him with a harsh, fierce stare. It doesn’t conceal his emotion. It’s hard to imagine no one loved that man hard enough to make him feel cherished and worthy. Luckily for Charles, it will be his job from now on.

“I’m going to enjoy having sex with you so much, my friend, you have no idea. I had planned on talking with you for hours at a time if we ever got together, and I expect us to argue quite too often. But now—” Charles giggles with disbelief, “I’ll need to include sex and staring at you. You’re so good-looking, Erik. Oh, and your cock is gorgeous, by the way, I’m not sure I’ve told you yet. I can’t believe this was in me.”

“Half of it. I didn't want to make it painful.”

“Oh, how thoughtful of you. It’s too gorgeous not to be entirely swathed in my body, however.”

He is giddy just looking at him. One of his hands is currently hovering over the object of discussion, even though it progressively hardened under Charles’ praises and is now practically standing against the mutant’s stomach, expectant and demanding. He bites his bottom lip, hesitant, desperately hungry. Erik keeps watching him with his hands hanging at his sides.

“Do you like it?”

Charles remembers hearing that question the last time they fucked; then, he thought it was all humiliation and bragging on Erik’s part. Now, the telepath hears the genuine interest, the slight worry, the need for confirmation.

“If I like… Oh, my friend, I can’t believe my luck.”

“Do you want to touch me?”

The answer must be blatant on Charles’ face, because Erik nudges his hand closer and the telepath curls his hand around his cock by automatism. It’s lovely. The feel of it, large and big, warmer than any other part of him — hard, the soft skin covering it like a velvety veil over iron… The feel of it is very lovely.

With the first pull, a rush of arousal and pleasure streams down Erik’s body to ricochet in Charles’ mind. Erik throws his head back, closing his eyes and humming, and after that it’s quite obvious the telepath can’t stop jerking him off in earnest.

Quickly though, Erik asks for Charles’ lube, and doesn’t hesitate to guide the mutant between his legs after having sucked and lapped at his fingers copiously. They still coat them with lube. Charles has all the time in the world to touch the skin there, the bump of the perineum, the soft flesh wet with sweat between his cheeks. He can marvel at the almost complete lack of hair — Erik shaves — or the clenching muscles of his arse as the mutant starts masturbating himself, grunting in anticipation; Charles strokes the wrinkled skin around his yielding, hot hole, until neither of them can take it anymore and Erik forces his wrist up right when the telepath introduces two fingers in him.

The mental pleasure that comes from the sight is indescribable. The telepath lets out a shocked, deep “Oh.” coming from his throat while Erik’s head falls forward and his fingers wrap around the base of his own cock firmly.

“I’m not going to last long, Charles.” He warns, sounding pained, all of his muscles straining under the unknown effort. He is a sight to behold, one at the telepath’s mercy now, one that is on the verge of coming like an inexperienced teenager because his fingers are slowly fucking him.

Charles feels dizzy with power, and grateful, so fond of him.

“It’s okay, darling,” he reassures, progressively increasing the speed of his fingers following Erik’s impressions — he loves the pressure fast and shallow, like a simulation of actual fucking — “you don’t have to last. I’m certainly not going to, not with you. We’ll do it again if you want.”

Something about the sentence causes Erik to bend over in a groan — we’ll do it again .

“I mean it, Erik. And by all means, if you want to do it a bit differently the second time around, I certainly won’t mind.” He says, laughing a little at his own neediness.

A quick flash of dark understanding passes through those eyes. “You want me to fuck you again?”

The air seems compact, all of a sudden; Charles has trouble breathing just looking up at the man staring him down like he is his next meal. Just thinking about that deliciously fat cock in him again makes him weak. Erik above him, parting him in the middle while soothing the pain with praises and kisses.

“Yes.” He croaks. His own cock reacts against his belly, untouched so far. “Oh, God, Erik, yes please.”

“Do you want me to fuck you, Charles?” He repeats, harsher, as the telepath keeps moving his fingers in him. Entirely unsatisfied and slightly rough because of it. Erik doesn’t complain. Their mental connection heightens every fluttering sensation, every palpitation of arousal along with the realization that the other wants it all. This is so much better than their first time. “Do you need my cock again?”

“Yes.” He repeats, barely a word, an exhalation, elated and exalted. A hot trail of goosebumps awakes in the path of the dirty words. “I’ve dreamed about it since we’ve done it, Erik, I can’t stop thinking about it. I need us to — I need you again, inside me, around me, all around my cock —”

Erik tenses, grips his dick tighter at the base, cursing in German.

“Fuck me, Charles. Now. Do it.”

“Easy, love.” The telepath breathes out with distracted amusement when Erik suddenly extracts himself from his grasp and grabs Charles’ cock to direct it between his own legs.

He stops him by lifting the man’s arse. Two handfuls of muscular cheeks so appetizing he could sob, and Erik is pressing down to take his dick while his own stands large, red at the tip and wet from precome and lube combined. Charles certainly didn’t give enough credit to his self-control.

“Easy, Erik, I don’t want you to hurt yourself. I’ll fuck you, oh, you can be sure of that if nothing else, don’t worry, I’ll fuck you alright. But a few minutes more won’t hurt. No discussion. Come here, kiss me, please.”

Erik’s kiss is heated and vengeful. Charles takes all of his irritation, drinks it and keeps coating his own fingers and cock with more lube before opening Erik again. When the mutant winces and tells him he knows damn well when he’s ready, Charles replies that a little more of taking care of him wasn’t a luxury, but he lets the mutant sit up and position himself.

“Do it slowly, darling, I want to look at you while you do it.”

Erik reacts to endearments so well Charles believes he will spend the night calling him darling while pleasuring him with his entire body.

When the body progressively lowers itself on his cock and said cock gets engulfed in Erik’s wet, very tight warm entrance, Charles nearly passes out in combined pleasure. The mutant won’t let him, though; as soon as he is truly sitting on Charles, their testicles pressed against each other, the telepath’s dick cocooned in the narrow canal of his arse, Erik bends to him and resumes his hungry kissing. His body follows, sliding up Charles’ shaft, which is the reason why Charles simply moans and half-heartedly answers, too busy not to lose himself in Erik’s pressing desire and relief to finally secure Charles Xavier inside of him.

The feeling is mutual; the telepath is so relieved to be inside him that the deepest, huskiest groan escapes his lips. It’s a torture to hold back from moving his hips a little and feel him all around him.

“Fuck me.” Erik orders against his lips, and gets up to rest his hands against the wooden headboard.

In those circumstances, Charles doesn’t mind being ordered around in the slightest; what Erik needs right now is quite evident, and he never imagined him being anything else but a demanding man bottoming to take what he came for. The fact that he considers this as claiming Charles for himself makes the telepath hot all over, and he immediately seizes Erik’s hips to dig his heels into the mattress and thrust up, arching his back in the process.

Erik briefly closes his eyes with each impact, lips sealed. He would look like he was enduring whiplashes if it wasn’t for his sharp thoughts of pleasure or the sounds that pour out of his mouths at irregular intervals — deep, aborted moans low in his throat, opening for the whisper or the croak of Charles’ name, like a plea, a blessing.

His head resting on one of his forearms, Erik jerks himself off and begs, begs without request or pleases, simply saying Charles, and deeper over and over again, until the telepath under him is puffing and huffing from exertion, his face and neck flushed bright red around blue eyes which can’t look away. He can’t slow down, not even when the muscles of his thighs and ass are screaming in agony, red-hot iron repeating their designed movement. He has to keep thrusting up, again and again, fast and faster, obscene, in that possessive clenching heat and their beautiful owner, and the pleasure builds so quickly Charles has to bare his teeth first and quickly wince, set his jaw and growl though them while a vein on his forehead juts out. The sound of their fucking is loud in the room, flesh meeting flesh in delicious slaps.

Charles cannot even speak, no more than a syllable at a time, and he certainly can’t look between their bodies for too long at the risk of coming right here and now, but he gives Erik his complete attention when the mutant frees a hand resting on the wall to put it around Charles’ neck. Not strangling, but tilting his chin up against the pillows, baring his throat and forcing the telepath to keep fucking him without looking. Charles is so close to coming that any miscalculated dirty gesture could make him go over the edge.

“Did you fuck him, Charles?” Erik barks, loud and angry. “Did you fuck him? Answer me.”

Their sore souls are barer than their skin. It takes him a few thrusts to find enough breath to speak. “No. T—Touched him.”

The hold tightens a bit, briefly, jealous. Erik’s voice fires like an arrow. “Did you let him fuck you?”

“No.”

Erik’s possessiveness burns so hot it adds to the slick warmness Charles keeps fucking, in and out, in and out, bumping into skin and heat. A steamy litany of exploding pleasure and tentative possessiveness fills his mind. His neck is straining from the awkward position, but he doesn’t want Erik to let go. If they let go now, they will both break into lonely pieces of a lost puzzle.

“Don’t lie to me, Charles.”

He says it because he knows. “No, Erik — No one else. No one but you.”

And that’s it; the word triggers something inside of Erik, who suddenly grabs Charles by the hair, now black, damp locks wetting his hand, and Erik comes, comes, long and hard, in complete silence, his cock jerking at least thrice with hot liquid spurting on Charles’ shoulders and neck, before it continues spasming for a good five seconds.

The sight and feeling of Erik’s come on him definitely pushes Charles over the edge, and he follows instantly, filling the mutant to the brim, his cock pulsing inside him.

Charles freezes mid-motion, moaning loud; Erik shouts, “Keep fucking me!”

He does. Valiantly, for a few more thrusts, while his cock empties itself, he pushes up into Erik, until his thighs starts quivering too hard and endorphins settle, refusing to hold his body up. Then he thrusts once more, almost crying out under the effort, his eyes locked on Erik’s.

The mutant drops everything to cup his face and kiss him.

Charles falls back against the mattress. Lets bodies and minds melt into a single unique heart.

Strangely, they both agree on not ruining the moment with words. They will have time for clever comebacks. They will have time to argue, and they will even have time to bicker and debate endlessly as they used to do. Tomorrow and the following weeks will bring their share of growing, repressed uncertainty about their future. The thought that Charles might go never to return is breaking Erik’s mind, but he can’t hide from the mutant, not anymore; soft, passionate kisses on his mouth and heart soothe the pain. This is a question for later, my friend, Charles seems to say. For now, they bask in the shocked realization that they can have it all; the shy touch along an arm, the exhausted limbs entangling under the covers, the quiet questions to make sure everything is okay, everything is fine.

Erik does start to grumble after a time — when Charles leaves his arms to reach for his phone at the sound of another Facebook notification.

He smiles, rolls his eyes, says, “It’s Raven”, spends another two minutes on the offending device, and comes back where he belongs.

The arms of the man who loves him.

The next morning, when Erik takes his breakfast in the sunny kitchen, waiting for the telepath to wake up, he realizes that Charles added him to the infamous VIP list of Facebook friends; a dozen gifs of kittens, falling children, along with inspiring stories about mutants and humans, cover his feed. He corrects most of the stories pointedly, drinks another sip of black coffee, and messages Raven to ask her if it’s too soon to change his relationship status.