There's a story about a scorpion and a frog, about how the scorpion will sting because that's what scorpions do. It always reminds Erik of Charles.
"I can hear you woolgathering," Charles says.
Charles rooting around in Erik's brain leaves no trace, no lingering sensation, but Erik always thinks of it as ice, the chill of it seeping, spreading. "I know you can," Erik says.
And yet, Erik comes back, he always comes back. The moonlight through the windows casts Charles's face in profile, reflects off the slick metal of his wheelchair, empty where it sits next to the bed.
"Hmm," Charles says. "You're feeling rather aggressive tonight."
Erik smiles at him, baring his teeth. "Is that so? You bring it out in me."
Charles refuses to rise to the bait. "What would you like?" He turns to face Erik, his eyes open and clear and calm.
"Don't you already know?" Erik asks. Charles is already poking around up there. Despite knowing better, Erik drifts closer, caught in Charles' orbit.
That gets the tiniest of smiles on Charles's face. "Maybe I want to hear you say it."
Erik reaches the bed where Charles sits, sheets pulled up over his lap, fully clothed,
seemingly unaffected by Erik's presence. Erik wants to ruin him, wants to leave him gasping, as undone in front of Erik's power as Erik is in front of his. "I want to fuck you," Erik says.
"That can be arranged," Charles says.
Erik undresses with his usual efficiency, developed over years on the run. No need to drag it out for Charles's sake.
When Erik turns back again, Charles is still dressed. Erik opens his mouth to make a comment, but Charles interrupts him. "I thought you wanted to do that yourself."
Erik had said no such thing, but Charles is right. Instead of responding, he undoes the buttons of Charles's top, revealing the smooth skin of Charles's chest. Charles's lips part. He takes a soft, indrawn breath.
He cups one of Erik's cheeks with one hand. An illusion of kindness. Erik kisses him then, so that he's no longer looking at Charles's face. Charles's mouth tastes familiar and comforting, a home that Erik can never return to.
The anger sparks in him again. He pulls down the sheets, strips the clothes from Charles's body. Charles remains pliant, unresisting in Erik's arms.
"I could fight you," Charles says, "but we both know you prefer me like this." His smile edges into a smirk, filled with all his usual arrogance.
He reaches up again, but Erik catches his wrist this time, presses it against the bed. Charles doesn't resist this either. "Don't do that," Erik says.
Charles watches Erik. "You don't mean that." He tilts his head back, exposing the line of his neck.
Erik puts his teeth there, bites down hard. Charles tenses and shivers underneath him. Erik delights in this, the first real reaction he's gotten out of Charles this whole time. With Charles's unspoken permission, he pushes Charles's legs apart, slicks him up, eyes fixed on the task at hand.
Charles runs his hands through Erik's hair. Not pushing or pulling, just a reminder that he's present.
As Erik slides into him, Erik finally lets himself look. Charles's eyes are closed. There's a flush high on his cheeks. His legs are limp around Erik's thighs.
"Just like this?" Erik asks.
"Mmm," Charles says.
"Not all of us our mind readers," Erik says.
Charles wraps his arms around Erik's neck, lets out a sigh. "You should fuck me as hard as you want," he says.
Erik groans and does as Charles says. He comes like that, shuddering through his orgasm as he presses his face into Charles's shoulder.
As he recovers, he allows himself to look at Charles. Still a little flushed. His bottom lip is bitten red. His chest rises and falls with every uneven breath. The sheets are in total disarray. Erik got what he wanted.
"I missed you, too," Charles says. Erik flinches away from him. Just like Charles to strip him bare with one sentence. All the things Erik wants and can never have, brought to the surface. Erik has left fingerprint bruises on Charles's hips, but Charles is the one who has the left the deeper, more painful marks.
Erik thinks of that story again, of the scorpion stinging the frog. He gets dressed, and he doesn't look at Charles again. Charles, blessedly, doesn't say another word.