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Seeking Alpha

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“If you don’t want to get pregnant and you’re happy being a single omega,” Raven asked, “why did you download Seeking Alpha?”

“Shut up,” Erik said absently, scrolling through his day’s matches. Nothing interesting today either, nothing at all.

Raven snorted. “Good morning to you too.” She sipped her black coffee. “Why don’t you want to get pregnant? Do you not want kids at all, or—” Trust Raven to take up this line of questioning in a busy coffee shop. Her blue form drew some attention, but Erik didn’t care about that—on the contrary, he was proud to be seen with a visible mutant. But it wasn’t entirely necessary for her to dissect his personal life in public, just because Erik had just moved here and they were now neighbors, doing some planning for mutant rights protests.

“I have kids, actually,” Erik said. “If you must know. I impregnated my ex-wife, Magda.”

Raven was staring at him in amazement. “I’ve heard of that happening, but… wow.”

“Some omegas have viable sperm, yes. Which I found out after she told me she was pregnant.” Erik looked up at Raven as he set aside his phone, having given up on Seeking Alpha for the time being. “I have twins, actually. A boy and a girl. They live across the country with Magda.”

Raven blinked. “So you’re an omega with super sperm but without birthing hips.”

“So it would seem.”

“I mean, no offense, but do you really think there are a lot of alphas out there looking for that?”

“No offense taken,” Erik said dryly. “And I won’t know unless I look.”

“Ever considered a beta?”

“For a long-term mate? No.” Erik gave her such a withering look she scoffed and drank some more coffee.

But soon enough, she went back to questioning. “So why were you married to Magda, if she was another omega?”

“Because neither of us wanted to get pregnant at the time,” Erik said, wry. “And we were in love, I suppose. Although that didn’t really last.”

“So, what, your very soul cries out for an alpha now?” Raven laughed, not meanly, but Erik was still a bit annoyed. “Have you ever slept with an alpha?” she added. She was, in fact, an alpha herself, a rare female one. As much as Erik admired her—and he did—the possibility of a bond or just sex didn’t feel quite right between them, and besides, for whatever reason, Raven had made no move toward him when they’d first met and she’d learned what he was. “I mean, I’d take you back to my place if I wasn’t afraid you’d impregnate me with your super sperm,” she joked.

“That’s highly unlikely.”

“What, you coming back with me or you impregnating me?”

“Both.”

“Oh darn. Well, best of luck finding your alpha. Gotta say, though, you might find it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. The scenting, the possessiveness, the heats—and okay, from the look on your face you’re turned on right now.” She drank the last of her coffee and stood up. “I’ll let you get back to your app.”

As he watched her go, Erik realized he hadn’t actually answered her question. No, he had not slept with an alpha, not that he hadn’t had them after him. Erik was extraordinarily choosy as well as being good at self-defense, and so had been able to ward off with great decisiveness the aggressive come-ons of unsuitable alphas. No, Erik was, in a sense, saving himself. He’d fucked a few other omegas, impregnated one, and had a few one-night stands with betas, usually men. Sometimes he fucked them, sometimes they fucked him. Scratching an itch, but even he had to admit the itch didn’t really go away. It was, in fact, really starting to bother him. He just needed a suitable alpha, a real bond. Hence, the app. Assuming there was anyone truly suitable out there.

He increased the search area in the app and lost another half-hour scrolling through.

-------

“You could go on Seeking Alpha,” Hank suggested.

Charles looked at him, and Hank blushed and adjusted his glasses.

“I could,” Charles agreed slowly, “but that doesn’t solve the issues presented by my mutation and my wheelchair.”

“No, but it allows you access to a wider pool, doesn’t it? Increases the odds.”

“I suppose.” Charles felt it was ethical to disclose that he had telepathic abilities to his omega potential dates, but this usually resulted in two outcomes: the date being terrified, or the date being so turned on at the thought of Charles’ possible absolute power over him or her that Charles felt fetishized. Something similar happened when dates were confronted with the reality of his wheelchair: either discomfort and awkwardness or an overly keen interest. All Charles wanted was a little balance. He was an admitted flirt, and he had his share of shallow relationships, but he wanted an omega to bond with, and so far these two major aspects of who he was were nothing but strikes against him.

The thing was, too, Charles couldn't reliably knot anymore.

In his youth, he’d done it, before the accident—he'd knotted quite a few pretty young omegas who’d sobbed for more, all on birth control of course, none of them truly bonding with him either—but now it seemed he’d lost his chance for a solid alpha-omega bond. Very few if any omegas would be interested in getting involved with an alpha who needed Viagra to get it up and SurelyKnot to even consider knotting them. And it was impossible for him to mount someone without the use of his legs. Someone could ride him, of course, but it was generally held that omegas didn’t truly feel mated that way.

All that said, when it came to his personality and the core of his being, Charles was still an alpha, and he still felt the need for an omega. For that matter, he was of the opinion he would make an excellent father, either to his own children or as a stepfather. It was not very likely, however, that he’d sire his own children, simply because the accident had changed the way the plumbing worked. It was possible, but would require a lot of medical assistance. Most omegas would find it easier, if they wanted to be pregnant, to simply find another alpha.

Still, he felt he had to try, and see who came to him.

Hank had returned to his research, so when Charles said “Right, let’s do it” he looked up, startled.

“What?”

“Sign me up for Seeking Alpha. Come on, Hank, get a picture of me,” he said, rolling back from his desk. Charles paused a moment, considering. “Without the chair in it,” he decided.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea, not including the chair?” Hank asked, standing and getting his camera.

“Not at all sure, but let’s try it,” he said. Someone truly interested in his profile wouldn't care if he were in a wheelchair or not… right?

Chapter Text

Erik came to spend a half-hour each morning in the coffee shop looking through the newest listings of alphas in his area on Seeking Alpha. The app worked by listing profiles of alphas for omegas to anonymously search through. Only once an omega expressed interest was some of their personal information shown, and only to the selected alphas. This in theory prevented hungry alphas from going after omegas like dogs. Erik had had enough bad experiences with that in the past—one alpha in particular came to mind—that this was for him a definite selling point of using an app, even though nothing could get around the in-person experience of catching each other’s scents, for starters.

Erik still hadn’t seen anyone he was interested in reaching out to, and was on the verge of quitting for the day when he scrolled to the profile of an oddly handsome man with dark hair and bright blue eyes.

Charles: a professor of genetics, a lover of books, philosophy, and chess, approximately Erik’s age. His smile was genteel and warm, but at the same time, there was total confidence in it. Nothing about him seemed shy or timid, Erik’s biggest turnoffs.

Furthermore, for the “Mutant?” checkbox, he’d marked Yes. He’d chosen not to specify, but still. That decided it for Erik. He selected Charles’ profile and chose to send his information—a virtual introduction.

-------

Charles’ mobile buzzed.

Hank looked up. “Is that…?

Charles looked at his mobile. “Yes, yes it is.”

“It’s been thirty minutes since you signed up,” Hank said, sounding amazed.

“Let’s try not to be too surprised, Hank, thank you,” Charles said briskly, fumbling a bit in overeagerness as he tried to find where on the app he could see the respondent’s information. That said, he was a little surprised himself. A flash of guilt reminded him he might not have had such a fast response if he hadn’t taken all of his profile pictures with the chair not visible in the frame.

The profile he pulled up was for a man named Erik, about Charles’ age. He looked rather like a model, with a sharp stubbled jaw and clear green-blue eyes. Charles gaped, briefly suspecting a prank.

Judging from his expression, Erik was utterly confident and matter of fact about it. Many alphas most valued an omega who was as shy and submissive as possible, completely subservient to their alpha, avoiding direct eye contact. Charles had always secretly found it a bit of a turnoff, frankly. He didn’t want someone who completely folded to his will every time with no resistance, but unfortunately such was the status quo. It was another factor that made it less likely that Charles would find an omega to bond with.

For “Mutant?” Erik had marked Yes, and indicated he had abilities involving magnetism and metal. That was fascinating. He’d traveled the world and spoke several languages, also unusual for an omega.

And furthermore, Erik had noted that he’d sired children, and that he didn’t want to be pregnant himself, despite being an omega. Again, how very unusual—yet how perfect, given that Charles thought he’d be unable to impregnate someone.

Being reminded of that made his heart sink a little. No matter—best to soldier on.

It was likely, then, that Erik was looking for someone who would quench his heats rather than impregnate him, and that was fine with Charles, assuming he’d be able to do that for him….

Well, anyway. Erik seemed almost too good to be true; Charles’ heart was beating faster from the adrenaline. He selected the option that sent Erik a message saying that the alpha he’d chosen had a mutual interest.

Now he would have to wait.

In the meantime, he received a number of alerts from other omegas. While he appreciated the little ego boost, none of them piqued his interest like this Erik had.

-------

Charles was interested.

Well, of course he was.

Erik had put that he did have children, because after all, he did. Apparently that didn’t bother Charles—some alphas were put off by omegas having had children by others, but evidently Charles wasn’t one of them, and he apparently wasn’t bothered by the fact that Erik hadn’t actually given birth to his children himself and had indicated he didn’t want to birth any. That meant Charles would be fine with quenching Erik’s heats, should he successfully trigger them in him. As Raven had pointed out, it was unusual for an alpha to desire those qualities in an omega, but while Erik admitted to himself that it was possible he’d feel differently in the future, right now, those were his parameters. For whatever reason, Charles wasn’t put off.

Now, Erik would need to indicate Charles’ interest was acknowledged, and then it would be up to Charles to suggest a meeting. Then Erik would select the place and time. The process was annoyingly elaborate, but it was probably for the best. In person they could also catch each other’s scents and determine if they were compatible. Pairings fell through if potential partners didn’t feel drawn to each other’s scents.

Within an hour, he received Charles’ reply suggesting they go forward with meeting in person. An eager alpha was a very good sign, but as an omega, he had the luxury of taking his time to decide the circumstances of their meeting. In this very coffee shop, perhaps. He was a little bit impatient, he could admit to himself, but on the other hand, he didn’t want to seem rushed or desperate. As it was Tuesday, he chose Saturday afternoon.

-------

Erik wanted to meet, and that was flattering but, well, there was the little matter of Charles being in his chair. He wasn’t sure if he was quite ready to meet Erik and reveal that detail, especially given that he was already a bit invested, since Erik seemed so excellent in so many ways. On the other hand, best to get this over with, if he was going to be rejected.

The meeting was to be a simple one, it seemed, just coffee at a local shop that was close enough for him to take himself to. He spent the days leading up to the coffee date trying not to dwell on how likely it was that he’d be rejected for being in a wheelchair, and whether that was an omen of his future inability to snare an omega. Perhaps he’d eventually find a beta, someone who didn’t need their heats slaked and was unlikely to feel the urge to be pregnant. He doubted that would satisfy his instincts, but it was possible he’d have to settle for that—he did desire some sort of companionship. He loved his job, but it was getting difficult to ignore what was missing from the rest of his life.

Wanting to look professorial and responsible, but not above matching his clothes to his eyes, on Saturday Charles chose a light blue Oxford, a dark blue cardigan, and khakis. Being rather vain of his hair, as well, he took time making sure it looked good. He was nervous, but, not wanting to appear so in front of a potential omega mate, he mentally schooled himself into being calm and under control.

He’d never formally pursued an omega before, not for anything other than just a good time, and certainly not as a wheelchair user. Since his accident, he’d gotten very adept with the chair, accepting it more and more until it was fully incorporated into his life, but as he set off from his flat he couldn’t help remembering what he’d felt like when he was first getting used to it—the inconvenience, the stares, the shame, the helpless feeling.

He was beginning to doubt more and more that omitting his chair from his profile was the right choice. Yet with it, he might not have had a chance with Erik at all, even if Erik didn’t want kids. Omegas liked to feel mated, and one who was on Seeking Alpha was almost certainly seeking an alpha for that feeling. There was no guarantee that Charles would be able even to quench heats.

As he rolled himself into the coffee shop, he felt another burst of nervousness. Scanning around for Erik, trying not to feel for his mind and ignoring the thoughts of those in the coffee shop who noticed his chair and pitied him, he spotted him at a two-top in a corner near a window. He was, in fact, as stunning as his profile had made him appear. Actually, more so.

He was also seated at a table that had a chair on the other side from him, meaning Charles would have to wheel up next to it, which he did. Erik, smiling at his mobile, looked up at Charles’ approach. He clearly recognized Charles, and looked surprised, but before he could say anything, Charles hastily said, “Excuse me, hello, I’m Charles, I’ll need you to move this chair if you please—”

Erik suddenly looked angry.

“Why wasn’t your wheelchair in your profile?” he asked, not mincing words at all, making no movement to get up.

Charles’ heart sank. It was as he’d dreaded. “Well,” he began, “I thought—”

“You’re ashamed of it,” Erik cut him off. “I’m not interested in being the omega of an alpha who’s ashamed of himself.” Pinning Charles with a stern, disapproving look, he stood, pocketing his mobile and picking up his cup. “Goodbye, Charles.”

Charles stared after him as he walked to the door, throwing away his cup and leaving, just like that. A few other customers around Charles were looking at him, and Charles felt his face burn. He gently adjusted their attentions to ignore him, and then left the coffee shop, roiling with embarrassment.

He’d made the wrong call, and now it was possible he’d never be able to make a different impression on Erik. If he were a different sort of man, a different sort of mutant, he could go into Erik’s mind and alter his memory, stop him and make him come back into the shop so they could start over. But Charles didn’t want a relationship based on a lie....

Yes, he’d made the wrong call indeed.

-------

“So,” Raven said that evening, “you found an alpha you liked, and you met him, and what happened? It wasn’t clear from your text.”

Raven was sitting at his kitchen table, as she had gradually insinuated herself into his life, as his neighbor and now his friend.

“He was in a wheelchair,” Erik said.

She stared at him. “And you… have a thing against people in wheelchairs?”

“No! It wasn’t in his profile pictures. He’s ashamed of it.” Feeling his expression harden, Erik shook his head. “I don’t want to get involved with an alpha who’s ashamed of himself.”

“Did he say he was, or did you?”

“He must be, otherwise he would have included it in his photos.”

“Maybe he’s been burned before by getting no responses.”

“Then he’s not worthy of those who wouldn’t respond to a picture of him in a wheelchair anyway. He should expect to be accepted as he is. No hiding.”

“And otherwise he was perfect, right?”

Erik shrugged. “Seemed like it, but I guess we’ll never know now.”

“Right. So obviously the thing to do was call him out in a public place and leave in a huff.” Rolling her eyes, Raven stood. She seemed colder than usual, for some reason. “Anyway, I have a date, so I’ll just be going and you can sit here and look through Seeking Alpha some more.”

“Leave faster,” Erik suggested.

“‘Leave faster,’” she mimicked as she went to the door.

But Erik didn’t sit there looking through Seeking Alpha. There was no appeal for him in doing so just then.

At the center of his kitchen table was a ceramic bowl that had belonged to his mother. As he stared at it, he wondered what she would have had to say about all this. His parents had both passed away, but his mother especially had been keen for him to settle down with a suitable alpha, even though she had loved Magda and her unexpected grandchildren.

She’d repeatedly told him that it could be a very trying process, and frustratingly, she seemed to dismiss his particularly negative experience with a certain alpha as more of the same, apparently not noting how put off Erik was by alphas in general after that.

He didn’t know if she’d scold him for using an app, or if she’d just be glad he was looking, but she’d always seemed certain that his true nature would eventually become impossible for him to ignore, even when he’d taken up with Magda, and had been unsurprised when Magda split up with him. “You’re each suited for alphas,” she’d said firmly, although Erik had been offended by her dismissal of his most serious and equitable relationship to date.

Magda, he was sure, wouldn’t be surprised at all by his attempting to find an alpha. Even if Erik had been offended by his mother’s bluntness, underneath it all, he and Magda had both felt like placeholders in each other’s lives: dear to each other, with mutual respect, but always with an awareness that something was missing.

They’d been supportive of each other’s careers, made necessary by the fact that neither of them had an alpha to depend on at the time, and that way they’d each been able to stake out some independence. Erik was quite sure he wouldn’t give up his engineering work for just any alpha who was dominant enough; he needed his brain and his metallokinetic abilities kept sharp, as opposed to atrophied from lack of use due to lying around in an alpha’s bed all day, gestating or going into heat.

Still, though, it was harder and harder to ignore that feeling deep in his hindbrain. Raven had been right by jokingly characterizing it as his very soul crying out for an alpha. He’d never had sex with one before. Maybe he just needed to try it once. Maybe that would be enough.

But still, better to use the app than venture out in person with that on his mind. No need to tempt fate to repeat his past experiences.

Chapter Text

Charles was more bothered by Erik’s rejection than he wanted to be. At first he tried to tell himself that he was better off, because Erik was bothered by his wheelchair, but that was farcical—he knew Erik wasn’t put off by wheelchairs but by omissions. It was possible that, if he’d just been upfront, he’d have made an excellent match. And he’d ruined it.

“Should I contact him again?” Charles wondered aloud, in Hank’s earshot. Hank looked up.

“Seems like you want to.” He shrugged. “Will it bother you if you don’t?”

Charles sighed. “Yes.”

“What would you say to him?”

Charles tapped his pen on his desk and thought. “That I was in the wrong, and that I’d like to see him again.”

“I suppose you’ve already thought about changing his mind for him and dismissed it.”

“Yes, Hank, I have.” Charles took out his mobile and opened Seeking Alpha. He had a number of unread messages from omegas, but he had no intention of replying to them just yet.

“Hank, take some more pictures of me. With the chair visible.”

-------

Idly scrolling through Seeking Alpha, Erik was surprised to see a message from Charles, of all people. True, Erik hadn’t blocked him, but he still wasn’t expecting to hear from him at all.

It read, in its entirety: I’d like to start over.

Erik scoffed. Why? he answered, immediately.

The reply was swift. I think we might be a good match.

I told you, Erik answered, I’m not interested in an alpha who’s ashamed of himself.

I’m not ashamed of myself, Charles replied, but you’re right that I should have included my chair. I’ve replaced all the pics on my profile with new ones.

Are you ashamed of whatever your mutation is? Erik asked. You didn’t specify.

The wait for a reply was longer this time. Not ashamed, Charles said. Just prudent.

So it’s powerful, but not visible? Is it psionic?

Put simply, yes. Look, I think this is a conversation we should have in person.

If it’s psionic, could you have changed my mind at the coffee shop?

Again, I’d like to talk about this in person, but yes, I could have.

Interesting. All right, Charles, let’s meet again. Same place, 7:00, Friday evening.

-------

This time, Charles arrived first, and was waiting for Erik. And when Erik walked in, Charles could tell he was definitely surprised to find Charles already there, waiting for him. The dynamic of this meeting was already markedly different, and Charles was very pleased. He smiled at Erik as he approached.

“Charles,” Erik said with a nod, sitting down. He wasn’t smiling back, but neither was he annoyed.

“Erik,” Charles said, and held out his wrist. Erik blinked in surprise, and took his hand, bending forward to inhale Charles’ scent. There were more interesting places to sniff one’s potential partner, but after all, they were in public. Erik closed his eyes as he breathed in, and his long lashes fluttered briefly, his ears turning pink. For someone who seemed as composed and reserved as Erik, that seemed remarkable.

“My turn,” Charles said, turning his wrist over and taking Erik’s hand instead. Erik had to stand and stoop a bit to make sure Charles got a good inhalation of him, but he didn’t seem to mind at all, or even really notice he had to do it.

Charles took a deep breath in full of Erik’s scent, closing his eyes so as to better concentrate, and then found himself opening them again to stare at Erik. He smelled so good it was actually astonishing. Charles felt his face heating.

For a long moment, they just stared at each other. Erik sat back down and Charles realized he was breathing a bit heavily. They both were.

“I told you we were a good match,” Charles finally said.

Erik narrowed his eyes, his reserve returning, but Charles could sense the scent-induced arousal that still clouded his mind. “I need more to base a bonding on than scent,” he managed to say.

“Of course. I do have something to tell you, though, before we go much further,” Charles said. “It’s about my mutation.”

“Your psionic mutation?”

“Yes. I am a telepath.” Rather than looking repulsed or terrified, Erik looked intrigued. Charles let out a breath in relief, and forged ahead. “And pardon me, but I must point something else out. I was in the wrong not posting pictures of myself in the wheelchair, but you were rude to me the other day.”

Erik opened his mouth to speak, then closed it.

Charles continued. “And while healthy disagreement is important, I haven’t any interest in someone who doesn’t treat me with respect. In public or not. Do we understand each other?”

Erik only nodded. Charles was a little surprised at the ease of Erik’s concession, but he was pleased as well, so he took it as his due. He thought, if he could allow himself to be optimistic, that it might be a good sign.

“All right.” Charles leaned in, and lowered both the volume and the register of his voice. “I can’t stop thinking about your scent, and I’m sure you feel the same. Please, let’s get out of here. I don’t live far.”

-------

Erik had never actually gone home with an alpha before, and he felt exposed as they made their way out of the coffee shop and down the street, as though everyone could smell his aroused state, as though everyone knew what he was going to be doing—and he wasn’t even really in heat, hadn’t gone into it for years now.

He was no longer ashamed of being an omega, so it wasn’t embarrassment he felt. Yet he knew the faint scent of aroused omega was wafting from him, turning heads of passing alphas, who would then look surprised to see Erik, standing tall with his chin raised, angles and planes where other omegas were soft and rounded. When they made eye contact with him, he glared at them scornfully. He said nothing to Charles, wasn’t sure if Charles noticed the attention he was getting. If they weren’t mates, he might not care all that much, after all.

He wasn’t in heat, no, but it was common for alphas to take omegas who weren’t in heat home or at least to private corners for what was jokingly called “courting.”

Actual formal courting was ostensibly the process of an alpha wooing an omega to take as a mate. But the word as it was used on the street meant alphas relentlessly going after omegas with the hopes of triggering heats and subsequent sex, starting from touching and progressing to more intimate scenting and marking—the base reality contrasted with the high-mindedness of pretending there was any sort of dignity to the process. “Courting” was an absurd term either way.

Frankly, Charles being in a wheelchair was almost ideal for Erik’s concerns—he couldn’t mount Erik, true, but as he hadn’t gone into heat in so long he probably wouldn’t need to be mounted to slake his lust, and the likelihood of Erik’s getting pregnant by him was therefore low on two counts. Without a heat, he wouldn’t be too vulnerable.

Something in him just needed… contact with an alpha. At last.

He was starting to feel warm, mind racing with the need to strip his clothes off, the sooner the better. Although this wasn’t a full heat, he was definitely aroused enough by Charles’ scent. At least they were compatible in that sense.

The real estate in this hip area was not cheap. Charles lived in a flat off the square, the topmost of four floors, the buildings surrounded by trees and parks. “Why not on the ground floor?” Erik asked.

“More privacy,” Charles explained. “Better views.”

What Charles wasn’t saying was that the topmost floor was the most expensive, even in a small building like this. Perhaps Charles was wealthy. Worth noting, perhaps, but not especially important to Erik. Besides, there were more important things right now—Erik was starting to get slick, and could feel his heartbeat getting faster as the elevator took them up to Charles’ floor. He hoped he wouldn’t be triggered into a full heat—he could still remember how humiliating it was, even though it had been a long time—but he definitely wanted to get fucked. And by an alpha this time.

-------

Erik took off his jacket in Charles’ living room. “I have some more things to tell you, Charles. For starters, I’ve never had sex with an alpha before.”

Charles just looked at him for a moment. He licked his lips briefly. “Really.” The sudden punch of lust he felt at that admission abated when he remembered something. “You’ve sired children, but you haven’t even had sex with an alpha?”

“I’ve sired twins, a boy and a girl. I’m also Jewish. In case that bothers you.” Erik tilted his chin up, a bit challengingly.

“Why would it bother me?” Charles was not sure what one had to do with the other, or if Erik was just challenging him with things he felt he might object to.

“It would bother some.”

“True enough, I suppose, but not me. It’s remarkable that you’ve sired twins, although I’m sure you must know that.” He was starting to babble, getting addled by the omega scent in the air.

“Yes. They live with their mother,” Erik added, to Charles’ disappointment; he’d allowed himself the tiniest hope toward happily being an actively involved stepfather. “But I see them when I can. Any alpha I bonded with would be part of their lives.”

“I don’t understand how you’ve managed not to have sex with an alpha,” Charles remarked. “You’re…. Pardon me for saying so, but you’re delectable.”

“It’s not that none of them were after me,” Erik said. “It’s that I didn’t choose any of them.” A muscle in his jaw tensed.

“Yet you chose me.” Charles couldn’t help smiling, but his smile faded. “I should tell you—I can take Viagra to get hard, if I don’t on my own. It doesn’t always happen. I can take SurelyKnot to make sure I knot you. But… obviously… I can’t mount you properly.” He felt the brief urge to look down, but didn’t break Erik’s gaze. This was his reality, not something he should be ashamed of.

To his surprise, Erik shrugged. “If you’re meaning getting fucked from behind, I’ve had that before from betas. It’s fine but nothing I’ll miss. I’m not looking to get pregnant, either, as you know.”

Charles ignored the flare of jealousy he felt and its surprising sting at Erik’s talk of being taken by betas. He had no claim over Erik—yet. “Yes, but,” he said with some difficulty, “it’s generally felt that omegas don’t truly feel mated unless they’re properly mounted.”

“Generally felt by whom?” Erik asked, scornful. “Couldn’t I just ride you facing away from you, wouldn’t that approximate it well enough?”

Charles blinked, considering. “I suppose so,” he said.

“As far as I’m concerned, I decide when I feel mated,” Erik told him.

“As you should,” Charles said.

“What about you?” Erik asked. “Would you feel truly mated with me if you couldn’t mount me, if you didn’t impregnate me?”

Charles tilted his head. “I don’t know. I never had the goal of mating or impregnating anyone before the accident, and afterward it was too late.” He felt another brief panic, wondering again if his inability to mount meant he’d never truly bond with a mate, but forced himself not to worry about it for the time being. He laughed suddenly. “I can’t believe we’re talking about these things with such detachment, as though it were a business arrangement. Meanwhile your scent is filling my flat and my hands are twitching because I want to touch you so badly.”

“Since it’s been such a long time, I doubt you’ll actually trigger a full heat in me,” Erik said, “which is probably for the best, but,” he said, unbuttoning his shirt, “I must admit, I want you to touch me.”

“Good, good,” Charles said. He swallowed, watching Erik’s long, nimble fingers make short work of the buttons. Erik tossed the shirt to the floor.

“One last thing.” Erik pulled off his undershirt, and Charles was nearly too distracted to pay attention to what he was saying. Erik was lean and sculpted and perfect. “I’m a mutant separatist.”

The words made their way to Charles’ mind, and he blurted out, “You’re a what? Oh, Erik, honestly. You can’t be serious. You’re far too old to think that way anymore, surely.” Every mutant separatist he’d met had been a student, with the exception of his sister. He did his best to persuade them into other ways of thinking, again with the exception of his sister.

Erik paused, and stared at him for what felt like a very long time. Then he put his undershirt back on. Charles gasped in dismay.

“Goodbye, Charles.” Erik picked up his shirt and jacket from the floor.

“What—” Charles said to the closing door.

Chapter Text

The next day, Erik couldn’t deny that he’d gone into heat again, after a very long period of dormancy.

It was triggered by Charles, he knew, and this happening after the circumstances in which he’d left Charles’ presence seemed almost insulting. It was a particularly vehement heat, as well, leaving him unable to sleep, soaked in sweat, aching all over. Perhaps that was because this was the first time he’d been triggered by someone whose scent he’d actually liked, someone who hadn’t triggered it just by being an alpha.

Erik of course didn’t know of any other alphas he’d want to even come near him during a heat, let alone slake it, so there was nothing for it: he’d have to contact Charles again.

“Sorry, what?” Charles said.

“I’ve gone into heat,” Erik repeated.

Charles’ tone was cool. “I don’t see what that has to do with me.”

Erik sighed into the phone, impatient. “It’s your fault.”

“Oh, and you’ll deign to do me the favor of letting me fuck you? You realize I can’t mount you.”

“You can get hard, you can knot me. You said so yourself.”

“Why me? You seemed to make your feelings clear enough when you left the other night.”

“I don’t know any other unattached alphas with cocks.”

Charles barked out a laugh. “Seriously? Erik, why not just use a dildo? Would work out much better for you, you wouldn’t have to try to make conversation with a dildo.”

“You want to do whatever you can to claim this heat you triggered,” Erik said. “Don’t try to tell me that isn’t the case, Charles.”

Before Charles could say anything, Erik added, “If you don’t, I’ll find an alpha who will.”

It was a bluff, but he had to hope Charles would take the bait.

-------

Erik was almost certainly bluffing—he’d never had sex with an alpha before, and he probably would resort to a dildo before finding some stranger, but to part of Charles’ alpha brain that didn’t matter. He felt his heart start to pound, a tattooing beat of possessiveness (never mind the fact that he had no formal or informal claim over this omega, whether he’d triggered a heat in him or not). “Come here to me and I will.”

“You’d let me walk the streets in full heat?”

Was he expecting Charles to wheel himself over to wherever he lived? “I can send a driver for you if you’d prefer it. Look, come or not, but tell me so I can be prepared.” Charles was starting to get impatient.

“I’ll be there.”

Twenty minutes and a dose each of Viagra and SurelyKnot later, Charles had Erik in his flat again. His scent was overwhelming as soon as he walked in, looking flushed and dazed.

“Come on, then,” Charles said, already leading the way to the bedroom.

Erik followed, silent. Charles could hear him taking off his clothes as he walked, and felt a pulse of regret. He’d wanted to do that. On the other hand, time was of the essence—neither of them might have the patience to wait as Charles stripped Erik off with the lingering attention and deliberation he deserved.

“On the bed,” he directed, and Erik spread out on it, facedown, naked. Charles bit back a groan. “Erik—”

“It’s your scent,” Erik explained, muffled by the bedclothes, voice thick with need. “Walking in here—you—the scent in your bed—” He was rubbing his entire body against the sheets. Charles had never felt less guilty for having a habit of not making up his bed.

Snapping out of his daze by some miracle as he watched Erik’s lean, sweat-slick body writhing in his bed, Charles stripped off his shirt—he was already in his boxers—and transferred himself to the bed to lie down. Erik turned to him, gaze raking down his chest, and then focused his attention on Charles’ hard cock, peeling down Charles’ boxers to reveal it without so much as a by-your-leave.

“Do you need lu—”

“No,” Erik gritted out, voice low and husky. “I’m completely soaked.” He turned, back to Charles, and straddled him, holding his cock in place as best he could. As he sank down onto it he groaned, soft but guttural, heartfelt, and half to himself, it seemed.

Charles’ ability to feel any sensation in his cock was very limited, enhanced slightly when he was around an omega in heat, but even he could tell how tight Erik was around him as he rocked—

“Erik!” Charles said, hands framing his narrow hips. “This is your first time doing this, it’s too fast, you should—” He’d almost forgotten Erik had been fucked by betas before, although most likely that had been some time ago. But betas couldn’t knot him; Charles still had to be careful.

“I need this, Charles,” Erik gasped out, rolling his hips, nimble and frantic, instinctively seeking his pleasure. “I need your knot.”

“Tell me when you feel it,” Charles told him, momentarily almost overcome with how much he wanted to raise himself up, tip Erik forward onto his elbows, and fuck into him, knot him, come as deeply inside him as he could. The accident had taken away his ability to do so, but it hadn’t taken away his desire for it, he reflected bitterly. But even with Erik’s scent filling the room, he forced himself not to dwell on that; instead he watched where he was joined to Erik, glistening with Erik’s slickness, as Erik fucked himself on his cock.

It turned out it was not necessary for Erik to tell Charles when he could feel his knot; that was all too obvious. Charles could barely see it, buried inside Erik as it was except for the hint of a swell at the base, and there was just a vague feeling of more delicious pressure, but Erik was crying out softly at every roll of his hips, as if he were trying to bite back the sounds, and grinding down on Charles in a manner that would have caused an uncomfortable amount of pressure on his pelvis had Charles been able to feel it.

Erik was losing himself, sweat running down his back, the muscles in it bunching and shifting as he pulled at the bedclothes. Bending forward to concentrate on the feel of the knot inside him, then arching back a little to change the angle, it was when he was shifting his weight toward Charles that Erik started to come, panting and shivering, crying out. Untouched. Charles wished he could see Erik’s face.

Charles mightn’t have actually ejaculated—that was never a certain thing now, and remained to be seen—but he had a (mostly) psychogenic orgasm, regardless, just watching that, feeling it at the edges of his mind. God, to have been mentally connected with Erik during that—but he probably wouldn’t welcome such a thing.

Charles watched Erik’s ribcage heaving—he was so lean, Charles couldn’t help a flash of concern, a need to protect—as he tried to calm himself. He was no doubt tender, Charles’ knot still full inside him, part of him still trying to make babies even if the actual likelihood was barely even there.

“It’ll go down soon,” Charles reassured him, stroking his hands over Erik’s hot skin, which was goose-pimpling despite the heat, as the sweat on his skin dried.

Erik just groaned softly. He tried to move off of Charles’ cock, but was not successful.

“Don’t move,” Charles told him. “Just wait.” The alpha depths of his brain felt a stirring of indignation at the idea of his mate trying to pull away from his knot, and he tightened his hold on Erik’s hips, just enough to make his point. Erik slumped, but held still for the most part, trying to catch his breath.

Eventually, Charles’ knot receded and he softened enough for Erik to pull off and rather clumsily turn on his side, back to Charles. From how he immediately relaxed into the bed, he was exhausted. Charles wanted nothing more than to wrap him up in his arms, but Erik didn’t seem interested. Charles refrained from going into his mind to see how Erik felt. What Erik wanted, he would say.

After a few more moments, Erik pulled the sheets over himself, and finally, Charles could not stop himself any longer from touching him, resting a hand on his side. Erik inhaled slightly at the feel of Charles’ hand, then relaxed. He didn’t turn over. Charles felt a pull once more to wrap him up, kiss him, get in all the skin-to-skin contact he could until Erik fell asleep in his arms, a pull so strong he closed his eyes tightly against it.

After a few more moments of silence, Charles opened his eyes and said, “I’m sorry if that wasn’t—enough for you. Without the mounting.”

Erik turned to look at him then, arching a brow, incredulous. Charles noticed his long lashes were matted with wetness and there were a few tear streaks down his cheeks. Erik hardly seemed aware of it. “Not enough for me?”

“If the angle wasn’t exactly what you needed.”

Erik chuckled, dry, sounding tired. “I think you saw I was fine with events as they transpired. You don’t seem to be, however.”

“I—”

“There are things we could try, surely,” Erik said. “Devices that could hold you up. If I’m not too far gone, I could hold you.”

“Is that what you’d prefer?”

Erik turned onto his back, and Charles moved his hand. “I’m merely making suggestions. If we do this again I’d rather you not be apologizing and hovering behind me. You didn’t even get to—”

“I did, actually. I didn’t—ejaculate, I don’t think, or at least not much, but I did have an orgasm.”

“Ah.” Erik said, brow furrowing.

“Different wiring,” Charles explained. “No direct genital stimulation there anymore without a very long period of applied electrical impulses, but I can still come more easily if, for example, I’m… mentally stimulated.”

“You weren’t in my mind. ...Were you?”

“No. I was just… watching you.” Charles chuckled, wry. He suddenly felt unbearably, painfully wistful. He should be lost in a post-coital haze, giving in to his alpha hormones and impulses and pressing close to his omega, kissing him and stroking him and covering him with his scent. Not having this disjointed discussion with someone who had simply used him because there was no one else available, and he’d known Charles couldn’t refuse taking charge of a heat he’d triggered.

“You seem unhappy,” Erik observed, and Charles winced. “Is it supposed to be like this?” he continued. “I didn’t think it was.”

“No,” Charles sighed. “It’s not.” He regarded Erik sadly, swamped in feelings of failure. He’d gotten hard, yes; he’d also knotted Erik. Erik had seemed to enjoy it and Charles had even come just watching him, and he hadn’t seemed to care that he hadn’t been mounted, but Charles had bungled it somewhere along the line.

Something changed in Erik’s expression; he looked stung, but recovered. “I should go,” he said.

“No, you don’t have to, Erik,” Charles started, but Erik was already getting out from under the covers.

“I’ll clean myself up,” he said, not looking at Charles, standing and walking to the bathroom, naked as Charles watched him. Charles should be the one cleaning him. That he wasn’t was not a case of being a wheelchair user—he could transfer quickly enough—but a lack of planning. He should have been prepared, should have taken the lead. Charles put his shorts back on, and his shirt, and got back into his chair as Erik walked back into the bedroom, looking around for what clothes he could find and putting them back on, saying nothing.

“Erik,” Charles said.

“Hm?” Erik, coming back from the living room where he retrieved the rest of his clothes, pulled his shirt on.

“Will you—I’ll call you,” Charles said.

Erik huffed out a laugh and shook his head. “Don’t bother yourself,” he said, crouching to put on his shoes. Standing, he gave Charles a rebuking look, and walked to the door as Charles rolled down the hall. “I’ll walk,” he said. “I’m…. My heat’s broken, I don’t expect any alphas to make unsolicited advances.”

“Erik—”

But he was gone.

Charles made his way back to his bedroom, and got ready to sleep, but of course, it wasn’t that simple. His bed smelled like omega, like Erik; it was hard to concentrate. He found his alpha brain continually wondering where the omega was, his instincts wanting him to cover, to protect, yet they were thwarted. He’d never experienced quite this level of agitation from his own hormones, and it was distressing.

How, though, would he be able to see Erik again, to make things right? The answer came to him in the wee hours.

He’d have to court him. Real courting.

-------

In his own bed, alone, Erik tried to sleep. He was certainly exhausted enough for it. But it came in fits and starts, his omega body and mind distressed that he was alone, no alpha to wrap around him, no skin-to-skin contact, no one there to help slake his heat should it come upon him again. He hadn’t expected this, and it was distressing.

He’d put so much work toward never being vulnerable like this again, as much as he could manage to fight his nature, ignoring his need for so long, suppressing it. Yet here it all was roaring back with a vengeance.

At least he’d finally done it—he’d been fucked by an alpha. He’d done what his instincts had pressed him to do, and it was good, just what he’d needed, even if things had somehow fallen apart afterward. But he had the sinking feeling that now he’d started, he wouldn’t be able to get enough. That, too, was something he’d been hoping to avoid.

He couldn’t help wondering why Charles had kept his distance and barely touched him. He’d thought alphas were supposed to be quite touchy-feely and possessive, usually to the point of absurdity. Was something wrong with Erik, had he done something wrong? That didn’t seem likely. He’d done what his hormones and instincts instructed him to do. Perhaps Charles had some problem with Erik, personally. Well, that was too bad for him.

Charles called him that evening, and Erik didn’t hesitate in answering. “Charles?”

“Erik. I… I’d like to start over.”

“What, for a third time?”

“What? No, a second time.”

“No, it’s a third time.”

“The start-over request is the second one. There was a first start, there needs to be a first start in order for there to be a request to start over. This is the second start-over request.”

Erik rolled his eyes briefly and took a breath. “All right. Fine. I’m not sure what you think we’ll accomplish.” Although he felt his blood heating at the thought of being with Charles again, he didn’t want to seem too eager.

Charles sounded relieved when he said, “Right. Well. I’d like to… court you. Properly.”

“You did, I thought. You triggered me into the first heat I'd had in ages.”

“No, I mean real courting.’”

“Oh.” Erik felt goosebumps rise on his arm. He swallowed. “All right.” So Charles wanted to formally pursue him. More than scenting to find compatibility, more than a quick fuck to slake lust or heat.

“For starters, I may have knotted you, but I didn’t care properly for you afterward, and… I haven’t actually marked you, either.”

Now that was interesting. Marking. “You assume I want to be marked.”

“Well, in fairness, you did go on Seeking Alpha in search of a bond. And I didn’t assume, I simply said I hadn’t marked you.”

“I may let you,” Erik allowed with an air of disdain, even as the thought made him shiver. No other alpha had been allowed close enough to even hope to mark him, and it was a definite step toward exclusivity: the alpha staking a claim, a public sign to others, more than just smelling like sex.

Actual courting.

Erik suddenly remembered his mother’s knowing, kind smile, could almost her her saying “You’re meant for an alpha, Erik.”

Chapter Text

Charles asked Erik to come over on Saturday, several days after they’d discussed marking him; on the phone, he’d made it sound like he was doing Charles a favor, of course. The days leading up to it still saw Charles feeling restless and agitated without “his” omega near, and he figured Erik was dealing with something similar. Either way, when Erik arrived, neither of them said anything about it.

He was wearing a short-sleeved v-neck shirt which looked to be very soft. His neck appeared smooth and exposed, vulnerable, like a blank canvas begging for Charles to rub his cheek and jaw on it, to nip little purple bruises on it.

“Where should we be for this?” Erik asked, after they’d greeted each other, polite but giving nothing away.

“On my bed, I think,” Charles said. “If I could stand, I’d do it right here, but….” He trailed off, and Erik just nodded.

“Not a problem.” He followed Charles to the bedroom.

Charles transferred himself onto the bed, and Erik sat down next to him. “Have you done this before, at all?” Charles asked him. “Have you ever been marked?”

“No.” Erik shook his head.

Charles had never marked anyone aside from a brief involuntary rubbing here and there, and some bites (it was a difficult instinct to fight at times, but all the same, Charles had never felt a truly strong mating urge with anyone besides Erik, no matter how many times he might have knotted people here and there over the years), and Erik had apparently, somehow, never been marked at all.

Honestly, it was embarrassing how much Charles enjoyed the idea of being Erik’s first in these things.

“Do you know what it entails?”

Erik frowned, and looked confused at being asked. “It’s you rubbing your scent on me, isn’t it?”

“Well, it’s more than just that.” Charles could feel himself slipping into a professorial tone as he talked; hopefully Erik wouldn’t mind this brief lecture. “Marking does mean that an alpha rubs their scent onto the neck of the omega they wish to take as a formal mate, but it also can involve small abrasions and bite marks on the omega’s skin. Once they smell like bonded mates, the alpha refreshes the scent and marks from time to time. It not only serves as a warning to any other alphas with their eye on said omega, it’s also a reminder to more recalcitrant omegas of to whom they belong, as well as a comfort to omegas who simply like it.” Charles felt his face redden, but ignored it, as did Erik, as he continued. “And a pregnant omega is regularly marked on a more frequent basis—pregnant omegas have a very particular scent, and they’re considered vulnerable and it’s rather scandalous if that scent isn’t accompanied by that of an alpha.”

That last bit wasn’t particularly relevant to their situation, but Erik nodded his understanding. Charles pressed on, trying to sound as casual as he could whilst imparting this important information.

“Marking sometimes, but certainly not always, leads to sex, and is often accompanied by… biting. Sometimes the omegas feel… primed by a little bit of pain.” Charles cleared his throat. He wondered if Erik were the type who was triggered into heats or lusts by discomfort, if it was given by an alpha. He wouldn’t be surprised, and wasn’t that an intriguing line of thought he should discourage himself from dwelling on….

Erik pressed his lips together, looking thoughtful but not discouraged or reluctant, Charles was glad to note. He was still curious about what Erik was thinking, and itched to enter his mind and find out, but refrained. Gaze captured again by Erik’s neck, however, he couldn’t hold back any longer, and asked, “Why did you agree to coming here, to being marked?”

“Base omega urges,” Erik answered dryly.

“Erik.”

“No, that’s my answer. You indicated this was part of your courting me. I want to be properly courted.” Erik took hold of Charles’ wrist, and held it to his nose, inhaling deeply, closing his eyes. “By you.”

Well, Charles wanted to court Erik, so why argue?

Drawing his wrist from Erik’s grasp, Charles turned onto his side to face him, and Erik turned as well. Charles took his wrist now, and brushed the tip of his nose over Erik’s skin there, inhaling. Without thinking about it, he pressed his lips there, just briefly, and then licked his lips, taking in the taste, the hint of salt, enhancing the scent for himself. He heard Erik draw in a breath.

Charles shifted, and bent to press his lips to Erik’s exposed neck, that perfect, smooth skin. He did have such a long, elegant neck. So tempting. His scent was stronger here, enticing Charles to blend and cover it with his own.

Which he proceeded to do.

He’d shaved that morning, but his face did have a touch of short stubble, and he couldn’t say he didn’t enjoy scraping it lightly along Erik’s skin, making it pink and tender-looking. He got all the skin he could access, up to under Erik’s ear to down at his collarbone, turning him over to cover both sides with his pheromones. Finally, with a pleased little growl, he nipped at Erik’s skin, brief but firm, and felt him jump.

Charles pushed himself up on one arm to survey his handiwork, and looked Erik in the face. Erik’s ears were red, color was high in his cheeks, and his pupils were enlarged; he seemed to have sweat on his brow. He blinked at Charles, swallowed, and licked his apparently dry lips, before croaking, “I think—I need you to—”

Charles kissed him. He realized as he did so that this was the first time they’d kissed, astonishingly enough. Erik clutched at his shirt. At the edge of his mind, Charles could sense a maelstrom of feeling, just beyond his reach. It was so frustrating sensing it without really feeling it, like an itch he couldn’t scratch. But more than that, it was a real need he was starting to feel—to be open with Erik about this, about his ability.

As Erik parted his lips and Charles slid his tongue in, Charles decided it was time to ask. If Erik was opposed to having Charles in his head—in the telepathic sense—might as well know now, before things got too entrenched.

Erik. May I—

Erik inhaled, startled, and went still, but he didn’t let go of Charles’ shirt. On the contrary, he hummed in assent and pulled Charles closer. Exhaling in relief, Charles let his power unfold into Erik’s mind, breathing a little harder as he tried to contain a surge of eagerness, so as not to overwhelm Erik, who might not have had a telepath in his mind before.

He’d had a sense of Erik’s mind, yes. Tantalizing at a remove, its presence had always been mildly distracting when he was around Erik, and he had felt a lingering curiosity about it; there was something compelling there. Given permission to explore it, Charles was gratified to find that his mind was intense, as sharp and elegant and graceful as he’d guessed. Except, of course, for the rising flood of hormone-addled need.

Hello, darling.

Erik’s fingers curled tightly in his shirt, and a little shudder went through him; he shifted, pressing his mouth more firmly against Charles’, making a soft sound in his throat. Charles could tell that, in a flurry of excitement, Erik’s heart rate had ticked up.

Do you like that, then? Charles smiled into the kiss, unable to keep back a frisson of delight at feeling that Erik was awed and impressed, not fearful or disgusted.

Erik hummed in reply. He shifted again, restless, and Charles steadied him with a hand on his side. Through his soft shirt, Erik radiated heat, and his thoughts were becoming more and more incoherent. He was breathing as deeply as he could manage, taking in Charles’ scent, licking up his taste, inciting himself further into heat. Naturally, Charles felt a surge of possessiveness, the urge to claim.

Was Charles going to have the opportunity to feel through Erik what an omega’s heat felt like? He groaned at the thought, and Erik shifted to rub his cock against Charles’ hip. He set the notion aside for now—first things first.

Just a moment, please, Erik. Breaking the kiss, Charles turned and sat up, and reached for the bottles of Viagra and SurelyKnot in the assemblage of similar medicine bottles on his nightstand. He downed the pills with a quick swig of water as Erik watched.

“So you didn’t take them when I said I was coming over,” Erik commented, amused despite the fact that his heat was rapidly encroaching, leaving him looking flushed and sounding a bit hoarse.

“Of course not,” Charles replied. “It’s impolite to be presumptuous. Now, where were w—” Erik wrapped his fingers in Charles’ shirt to pull him back down. He was trembling with eagerness as he kissed Charles again, hungry and deep, until they had to stop to breathe properly.

Now, waiting for his medication to do its work, Charles had his chance to undress Erik. He tugged off his shirt, letting his fingertips stroke over Erik’s hot, smooth skin. All this contact, Erik’s scent, was making him feel more and more keenly the primitive alpha parts of his mind, stoking that possessive urge again. Charles watched Erik’s belt appear to unbuckle itself, but before he could unbutton and unzip his jeans with his powers, Charles asked, “As much as I’d love to watch you do that yourself—may I?”

Erik paused, then nodded. It was big, for Erik to relinquish that little bit of control in concession to Charles’ alpha possessiveness.

“Thank you,” Charles told him, unbuttoning and unzipping as Erik raised his hips. Charles pulled his jeans down somewhat and let Erik pull them off the rest of the way, simply because it would take much more effort to do it all himself. Erik hastily took off his socks and boxer shorts, and Charles wrapped a hand around his very hard, very red cock, inhaling his scent which was overwhelming now, with him naked.

As Charles gently squeezed him, Erik grunted. “Charles. Don’t tease.” His voice was strained.

Charles laughed softly. “I’m not teasing, darling. We have to wait for the wonder drugs to kick in, that’s all. I know what you need, and you’ll get it. I want you to come on my cock.” He leaned in to kiss Erik’s neck again, biting gently at the little bruises he’d left there; he was surprised to hear himself speaking so frankly, and judging by the way Erik’s breathing had become harsher, so was he. “I’d like to have you facing me this time,” he added. “I want to see you, I want to watch you.”

Erik shuddered, and nodded. Charles kissed him on the mouth again, seized by a craving to taste him again. Erik groaned into it; he was starting to sound more and more lost, heat radiating from his body. Charles wanted to touch him everywhere; he ran his hand down Erik’s side, cupping his hip, squeezing a cheek as he slid his tongue around Erik’s, savoring the little sound that drew out of him. He traced his fingertips up Erik’s stomach to tease a nipple, which made Erik gasp and break the kiss to blink at him.

“Are you ready, then?” Erik asked, voice raspy.

“Let’s see.” Charles was doubtful, but he pulled himself upright, cast off his shirt, and opened his trousers. His boxers were in fact tented—quite a bit sooner than he expected. “Would you—” and Erik, blinking, nodded, moving to pull them and his boxers off, quick but careful.

“Would be so much easier if we were always naked,” Charles said lightly, feeling somewhat self-conscious.

“It doesn’t matter to me, Charles,” Erik said, cutting through to the issue, mouth slightly open as he stared at Charles’ erection, pupils dilated—eyes on the prize, if you will. Apparently it did not matter to him. So why then should it matter to Charles?

“Come here,” Charles said to him, reaching for him, back against the padded headboard.

“Yes,” Erik said, and swallowed hard.

He straddled Charles, sank down onto him; eyes closed tightly, his head tilting slowly back, he seemed almost to be in pain, panting quietly as he lowered himself onto Charles’ cock. As similar as it was to their first time together in the basic mechanics of it all, that was already miles away compared to this.

Charles stroked his hands down Erik’s chest, transfixed by him; he was heart-stoppingly gorgeous, flushed and gasping and trembling with need. The contrast with the normally composed, private, wary man Erik was day-to-day was incredible, and it was all his, this was just for Charles and Charles alone….

Charles slid his hands down to grip Erik’s hips, drawing a gasp from him. Erik held out his arms to rest his hands on the headboard on either side of Charles, rocking with him as Charles directed his movements with a firm hold; Charles might not be able to mount him or actively thrust, but he could do this, at least. Judging from how Erik was groaning low in his throat, rolling along with the motion with sweat sliding down his temple, he approved.

May I? Charles asked, mind poised to dip into Erik’s again—at some point, he’d slid out somewhat.

Erik nodded, turning to press his face against his arm, nearly overwhelmed.

Thank you.

The most notable thing about what Erik was feeling was the intensity of his need. It was a mirror of the need Charles felt—to be filled, to be sated, whereas Charles felt the primal urge to fill, to dominate. He wanted Charles in his mind, wasn’t frightened of his power, but was wary of making himself vulnerable: he was self-conscious of how the heat stripped him bare in more ways than one. With but a few thoughts, Charles did his best to reassure Erik, showing him how his perfection, and his vulnerability, were threatening to undo Charles; how Charles wanted nothing more than this, than to take possession of Erik’s heat, to watch Erik unravel on his cock….

Erik’s thoughts were blurring, melting, dissolving in his heat. Sweat pooled in the dips of his collarbone. Shifting forward, Charles touched his tongue to Erik’s slick skin, tasting him, his own need clouding his mind now.

One hand moving to the small of Erik’s back, wet with sweat, with his other he took hold of Erik’s cock, dripping and high against Erik’s flat belly. Not flat for long, he thought, and couldn’t help a gasp.

Erik seemed oblivious, eyes fluttering closed, groaning and pushing his cock into Charles’ grip, grinding down on Charles. His mind rolling around in the pleasure center of Erik’s, almost inseparable from it, he wanked Erik off, and Erik’s orgasm triggered his own; he revelled in knowing what it felt like for Erik to come on his cock, the enjoyment traced with a flash of his own surprise at realizing that he was definitely ejaculating, that Erik was feeling it.

Digging his fingers into Erik’s hips, by his presence in Erik’s mind Charles also knew when his knot was starting to form, although that would probably have been evident by Erik’s sharp inhalation and shudder.

A rush of possessiveness thundered through him, and as Erik shifted on Charles’ knot that would keep the come inside him Charles moved to hold his face in his hands and draw him down for another kiss.

Erik was still panting, little shivers running through him as Charles kissed him, as they waited for Charles’ knot to go down. Erik didn’t try to shift off him before it was time; his movements were simply because he liked the feel of it inside. Apparently Erik hadn’t expected to like that as much as he did.

It was lovely, taking his time kissing Erik, humming in response to the soft sounds he made in his throat, sitting in his mind to feel what it felt like to have one’s heat slaked. Charles had actually given him relief as well as pleasure, and he was exceedingly proud of himself for that, though he tried to hide it from Erik, who might not appreciate the alpha strutting.

Charles couldn’t help wondering what his sperm count was, whether there were a chance in hell that he’d impregnated Erik just now. And he immediately felt guilty for wondering, chalking it up to the smell of omega in the air, of how enticing Erik was to his alpha sensibilities. Erik had said he wasn’t looking to get pregnant, and Charles assumed he either knew himself to be incapable of it or was taking precautions to prevent it—or he assumed, possibly correctly, that Charles wasn’t capable. Regardless, it made Charles feel wistful thinking about it.

But their goal this evening had been for Charles to mark Erik, as part of a formal courting, and they’d achieved that, with its accompanying incitement of lust and heat that hadn’t really come as a surprise. They were evidently compatible, at least in this sense, and that could be enough for a mating bond, even if they couldn’t have children.

Erik shifted off of him, blinking, looking a bit dazed. Now, Charles also had a chance to properly care for his omega.

“Water? A protein bar?”

Erik accepted the drink of water, but refused the protein bar.

Although he wanted nothing more than to relax alongside him, Charles insisted on going to get a damp cloth; once Erik had stretched out on the bed, Charles took the cloth and wiped him clean. Even that was strangely erotic, seeing the evidence of Erik’s slickness and his own come. He hummed to himself as he worked, gratified to see Erik relaxed and limp, drowsy and satisfied.

As they were both exhausted, they went to sleep soon enough, Erik shifting close to him, evidently wanting the skin-to-skin contact. Charles couldn’t help grinning at his mildly grumpy acceptance of his “base omega urges” winning out over his need to stay distant and in control. As Erik put an arm over him, Charles reflected that he was rather like a big housecat. But he was content, practically purring as he drifted off, and he smelled so good. Charles simply wanted to breathe him in, couldn’t get enough of him, wanted Erik’s body pressed against his own all the time if possible. It was several levels beyond what he’d ever experienced before.

This, this was what it was supposed to be like… or at least, as close as he could get.

-------

Erik awoke feeling better than he had in ages—stretched out in Charles’ soft bed, his reassuring alpha pheromones flooding Erik’s senses, making him feel soothed and safe. Even his mutation seemed keener yet more relaxed, making him aware of the metal in the vicinity, which he reached out for as he did many mornings, just as a matter of habit.

He could barely manage to muster the indignation to be irritated at the manipulation of nature. Yes, he was an omega and it was nothing to be ashamed of, but the lack of control it could cause him was difficult to accept—he remembered, with a flash of discomfort, being a young omega, hormonal and vulnerable and confused. But then, it was hard to bear a grudge about feeling good.

“You’re thinking so loudly you’ve woken me up,” came Charles’ sleepy-sounding, amused voice. “I was going to get up before you, and let you sleep, but I also didn’t want you to wake up with me not here.”

Erik grumbled half-heartedly, trailing off when Charles brushed his fingers through Erik’s unruly hair. He was no doubt a mess, in need of a shower. And then, with his scent diminished, before he left Charles he’d need to be marked again…. The thought should annoy him, but it didn’t. After all, Charles was courting him, Charles had knotted him, and something in Erik didn’t mind other alphas knowing that Erik and his heats were none of their concern. That he was spoken for.

It was a strange feeling.

It was stranger still that he liked it. A lot.

“Darling.” Charles kissed his forehead. “You must be hungry. Go and shower and I’ll make us some omelets.”

“So I do smell,” Erik grumbled.

Charles laughed, bright and amused, like Erik hadn’t heard before. Evidently, he was in a very good mood, and that wasn’t surprising, considering. He paused before saying, “You smell like me. You smell like a mated omega. I don’t object in the slightest—far from it—but I know you well enough to know you want to feel clean and you’d like to wash off that sweat.”

“A mated omega,” Erik repeated slowly. Hearing Charles confirm it, he knew the scent bond had taken.

“Ah, yes.” Charles cleared his throat. “That is what you smell like, Erik, I have to say. Does that bother you?” Charles wasn’t in his mind this morning, then. Erik was somewhat disappointed.

He shrugged. “Scents don’t lie. If that’s what I am, that’s what I am.”

“Yes, but does it upset you?”

Shaking his head, Erik told him, “I went on that app for a reason. I selected you for a reason. I came to be marked and courted by you for a reason.”

“I just don’t want you to… feel resigned to being my mate.” Charles’ brow creased in concern, in apology. What did he have to castigate himself over?

“I wanted an alpha mate. I’m starting to think I could do worse than you,” Erik said, dry. But he meant it. Charles was stable, intelligent, good-looking, a mutant… there was more to him than that, of course, but even just on paper he was an excellent choice, as Erik had thought when he saw him on Seeking Alpha.

“Oh, thank you,” Charles returned, tone sarcastic, but he was smiling still. “I’m starting to think I could possibly be rather fond of you as well. One day.”

“That’s reassuring, since we’re mates,” Erik said, and having said it aloud he fell silent and just looked at Charles, who looked back at him, those unearthly blue eyes wide, the expression in them probably similar to his own. Erik swallowed, and looked away, breaking that arresting hold. “I’ll take that shower, then.”

-------

Just as Charles was setting out the plates with their omelets, Erik walked into the kitchen. He was scrubbed clean, smelling of soap and himself, but with just a hint of Charles on him, in his very pores. Still a bonded omega. Charles knew that was how this worked, but it was still gratifying to witness.

As Erik sat, Charles paused to admire the length of his neck, still on display in the v-neck shirt from yesterday, the redness and little bite marks still apparent for anyone to see. Charles could hardly look away from them. He could almost feel Erik’s skin against his lips, his teeth; could almost taste him. He forced himself to wait and be patient until they were done eating and until Erik was about to leave, which was when he’d mark him again. His omega.

“So you know,” Charles told him as they ate, “you can stay here the rest of the day if you like.”

Erik shook his head. “I appreciate the offer, Charles, but I have some political events to attend.”

“Ah,” Charles said simply, biting his tongue, remembering what had happened last time when Erik had first mentioned his mutant separatism alliance. Erik was studiously avoiding looking at him now, his mind carefully smoothed out (although Charles wasn’t trying to peek) with a slight air of defiance.

Charles smiled to himself. There would be other days to discuss that.

When they were finished eating, Erik stood. “I’ll get going,” he said, and paused, awkward, seemingly unsure how to prompt Charles into marking him.

Charles crooked a finger. “Come here,” he told Erik, who walked over. “Bend down.” Erik obeyed.

Charles pressed kisses to his jaw, to the spot just under his ear; down the side of his neck. He rubbed the scruff of his stubble against his skin, gently nipped him, and then gave the other side of his neck the same treatment.

When Erik stood up, Charles regarded him. He looked slightly flushed, a bit dazed, redness apparent on his skin as a background to the little bites. And Charles’ scent was all over him.

“Quick kiss, darling,” Charles requested, and Erik bent again for a proper kiss, one which Charles intended to be a brief peck but which he found himself turning into a deeper one, from which Erik had to reluctantly extract himself, blinking and a little breathless.

“You know where to find me,” Charles told him as he left, hearing a touch of assured smugness in his voice.

Chapter Text

Almost as soon as he’d left Charles’ flat, Erik experienced a very strong urge to return to it. Bereft of the cocoon of Charles’ scent that his home provided, Erik found himself bending his head as he made his way home, to catch Charles’ scent wafting up from inside his collar. He wished he’d brought some item of Charles’ clothes with him, something he could spread out on his bed when he got home and roll around in, naked.

Like a dog that missed its owner, he thought with a snort. Wonderful. In a way, he supposed that was what he was.

But of course, he didn’t miss his owner; he missed his mate. That was an important distinction. Alphas in the past who’d tried had hissed lines about owning him, taking him, and other related cliches that were meant to get him hot and bothered but which left him cold. The thought of Charles saying those things, however, caused a wave of heat to flood over his skin.

He stopped walking, seriously considering turning around and going right back to Charles, but Raven would never let him hear the end of it if he did. Besides, he had things to do. Responsibilities. He couldn’t lose his head entirely in a mating frenzy.

He decided he’d exert his considerable willpower in fighting, or attempting to fight, his own instincts.

At least for the day.

At least until the meeting was over.

Then maybe he’d go over to Charles’ tonight.

Maybe.

Erik met up with Raven so they could go together to their rally planning session, and right away she noticed his neck, in the hallway outside their apartments. She sniffed the air, narrowed her eyes, and then arched a brow.

Erik turned up his collar as she walked toward him, wanting to hide his scent from her—now that she knew he was mated, it seemed intrusive, somehow, for her to keep being able to see and smell the evidence. As much as a public call sign as it was intended to be, and as much as he appreciated its ability to ward off strangers, it was such a new, novel, and intimate experience that it still felt strangely private to him.

“So,” she observed, smirking, “that went well, I guess.”

Erik just nodded.

“How does it feel, having a mate?”

“I’ve had a mate before.” The words sounded rather hollow, but he felt the need to be contrary.

“You know what I mean. To be taken by an alpha as a mate.” Her tone implied that was the only real sense of “mate,” regardless of whether Erik intended to bear young.

Erik felt his ears turn red. Raven’s words shouldn’t have such an effect on him. He again envisioned himself making his way with all haste to Charles’ flat. “It’s good,” was all he said.

“Oh man. You’re being so clipped about this I have to assume it’s completely overwhelmed you, you’re overcome with lust and you’re still processing everything,” Raven observed, and Erik scowled.

“Let’s go,” he told her, and with a laugh, she jogged to catch up with him as they walked down the hall.

“Hey, you know,” Raven said as they walked out into the fresh air and sunlight, “my brother’s an alpha. If this doesn’t work out, I should introduce you to him.”

“We’ll see,” Erik answered dryly.

It was far more challenging than Erik anticipated paying attention during the meeting. The hotter he started to feel, the more he thought about Charles, and the more he thought about Charles, the hotter he got.

When he found himself pretending to take notes on his phone while actually composing a text message to Charles, asking if he could come over—as casually as he could phrase it, of course, and therein lay the difficulty, when he could barely think as it was—he excused himself abruptly and went outside, overcome by frustration with himself and a need to hear Charles’ voice.

“Hello? Erik?” Charles said, and did he sound a bit rough?

“I’m coming over, Charles,” Erik blurted, and closed his eyes, inwardly cursing himself. Smooth.

“Oh, thank God,” Charles breathed.

It was not a long trip to Charles’ flat, but Erik remembered none of it. All he could think about was getting back to his mate. He was barely aware of alphas looking him over, admiring him, his marks and scent making them keep their distance.

No sooner had Charles closed the door than Erik bent down to kiss him, messily, desperate to taste him, trembling with relief as Charles’ scent enveloped him. He was practically climbing into Charles’ lap, he dimly realized. Charles pulled him in close, murmuring reassurances between kisses.

“Erik, Erik,” he finally gasped, and Erik drew back to look at him. His face was flushed, pupils huge. “I wanted to text you,” he said, breathless, “but I didn’t want to be that kind of alpha, I didn’t want you to feel like you were at my beck and call—”

“I don’t think either of us has a choice,” Erik said, and Charles blinked. “Bedroom,” he added, stumbling fully upright to push Charles’ chair there.

Charles transferred himself to his bed and tried as quickly as he could to remove his own clothes while watching Erik strip off; they were both rapidly losing the ability to retain any sense, so luckily getting all their clothes off took little time at all.

“Did you take,” Erik began.

“Yes,” Charles answered. “Come here.”

There presumably hadn’t been enough time for the “wonder drugs” to work since Erik called, but as impatient as he was for that, in the meantime he wanted to rub himself against Charles, to be covered in his scent, to feel his touch. He layered himself over Charles, shaking a bit with need, hot all over, and slick.

Charles’ palms and fingertips slid over his skin as they kissed, Erik groaning low in his throat as Charles’ hands attempted to soothe him but only stoked his flames higher. At last he collapsed alongside Charles, who didn’t stop touching him. But Erik had freer range to touch him now, hands gliding over his chest as Charles turned somewhat to keep kissing him, something he evidently loved to do.

Charles’ gasp when Erik’s fingertips brushed over his nipples did not escape Erik, nor did the spike in arousal from his mind that he couldn’t quite stop in time. Erik pinched him there, rubbed him, made him shiver, made him sweat and flood Erik’s nose with pheromones. Erik cupped his neck to pull him in closer and got a similar electrifying reaction; Erik’s fingers in his hair, nails on his scalp, resulted in Charles groaning low in his throat. Erik—Check if I’m— he sent, unwilling to stop kissing Erik for something as silly as talking.

Erik, a storm of need, slid his hand down to seek out Charles’ cock, and finding it hard, wrapped a hand around it. Yes. Please, Charles, please, now—

Yes, of course—

Immediately Erik sat up, straddled Charles, and sank down onto him, wet and ready, closing his eyes and groaning, barely aware of Charles’ hands stroking him, up and down his torso until they grabbed his hips tightly again and rocked him. He was focused almost entirely on how good it felt to be filled. He tilted his head back, jaw slack, moving himself on Charles’ cock as Charles directed him with his hands.

He was filled now, finally, and with that accomplished he shifted again and slid his palms up and down Charles’ chest in a restless rhythm: over his nipples, fingers tracing down his stomach, back up. Charles was red in the face and his chest was flushed, mouth slack, eyes glittering as he stared at Erik. He liked this, his mate liked this, being touched like this, and now that he was filled with cock Erik wanted nothing more than to make his mate come, make him fill him up, knot him, make him—

Gasping, Charles came—Erik felt it, felt it inside him, felt the burst of pleasure from Charles’ mind, saw the way his face reddened further, his eyes wide. Erik ground down on him as the knot almost immediately started to form, and came from just that, from it swelling inside him. With a low, keening moan in his throat, Erik rode out the pleasure, rocking gently on where he was tied to Charles.

Yes, keep it all inside me, he thought, not knowing or caring if Charles overheard. He was greedy, raking his nails lightly down Charles’ chest, making him gasp.

“Erik,” Charles breathed, staring up at him, looking poleaxed. He kept stroking his fingers over Erik’s skin, soothing him where he was starting to shiver as his heat subsided but the sweat remained. Erik kept his hands on Charles’ chest, kept Charles’ cock inside himself—Mine, mine—as long as he could as the knot slowly went down. It was shocking how much he loved riding that knot.

As this wave of heat subsided, Erik felt his mind clearing. He’d often reflected, even before he knew what this was like, on how grim a fate it’d be to be taken advantage of by an alpha during a time of such vulnerability. Yet he trusted Charles.

“I’m so glad you do,” Charles said, a soft yet brilliant smile on his still-flushed face. Apparently Erik had been thinking that loudly. Rather than answer, Erik, stifling a groan, slipped off his cock, stretched out alongside him, and promptly fell asleep.

He awoke some time later, in the dark, to Charles getting back into bed. “Shh, go back to sleep,” Charles whispered, running a hand down his side. “You wore yourself out.”

Groggy, Erik remembered what had exhausted him so thoroughly. “Took me about five minutes,” he said. “I’d almost be embarrassed.”

Charles chuckled. “Don’t be,” he said, turning to give Erik a quick, firm kiss. “You’re lovely.”

He awoke again in daylight, but apparently just after dawn, the light from outside soft and diffused. He was up against Charles, as close as he could get, his face tucked into the crook of Charles’ neck. Charles was sleeping soundly, radiating contentment. Erik inhaled his scent like a drug and kissed him at that pale smooth join between neck and shoulder, sighing as he did, and felt Charles stir to wakefulness, along with a sense of him gently caressing his mind in greeting.

“It’s strange to feel so attached to someone I barely know,” Charles remarked, voice rough with sleep.

“I must agree with you there,” Erik said. “Charles, I fought so hard against this very thing—against being forcibly attached to someone I barely knew. I preferred being alone to that.”

“You’re not alone now,” Charles said, kissing his brow. “Is it so bad?” he added, his tone gently teasing. Erik could sense, however, that real anxiety underlaid it.

“It’s not nearly so bad as I feared,” Erik said, rather dryly, “but it is true that we barely know each other.”

“Easy enough to remedy that,” Charles said. “How old were you when your powers manifested?”

Somewhat surprised by the question, Erik blinked. “Fourteen.”

“I was nine,” Charles told him. Erik couldn’t hide his surprise; that was a very young age. “I thought I’d gone mad, hearing all these voices. Later, I realized I was actually hearing other people’s minds. Their thoughts. My family’s, for example.” He grimaced. “Not… an easy thing for a young boy, hearing other people’s true thoughts.” He looked distant for a moment, and Erik pressed closer to him. “But I’d rather not talk about all that. Did you go to university?”

“I did,” Erik said. “I studied engineering in Stuttgart.”

“I suppose you enjoyed that?”

“I did indeed.”

“Did the others know you were a mutant?”

“During my first year, no,” Erik said. “I was too shy. Then an older student made a disparaging remark about Jews to me, and… well, I think those scars he now has most likely serve as a constant reminder to him not to say such things, certainly not within earshot of a metallokinetic Jewish mutant surrounded by metal models of bridges.”

Charles sat up a bit, sounding scandalized but admiring. “Erik! Surely you were disciplined for that?”

“There was no one else in the classroom at the time,” Erik said. “He knew he couldn’t prove anything and was too proud to try. Besides, I was known for being quiet. He knew I was a ‘mutie,’ however, of course, and he told a lot of people. They started being afraid of me. That was his form of revenge, but it backfired—it catapulted me right into mutant activism.”

“And that’s why you’re a separatist?” Charles said, care evident in his tone.

“Not just for that. But it’s the only sensible option,” Erik said. “They want to ostracize and shame us. I can’t see a future where we tolerate that and also succeed. They can’t compete with us, so their only option is to stifle us by force.”

“Surely we can work together, at least to some extent,” Charles said, half to himself.

“You’re a professor of genetics, Charles. Don’t you agree we’re the next stage in human evolution?”

“I know we are,” Charles replied. “That doesn’t mean one side has to wipe out the other. Surely as a Jewish man you don’t believe groups of humans to be inferior because of their genes.”

Erik sat up and stared at him. “I’m not calling for us to exterminate them, Charles,” he said through gritted teeth. “They’ll be bred out of existence on their own. I just don’t want to be forcibly subjected to their campaign of hate while they exist.”

They looked at each other for a long time, the only sound in the room their rapid breathing.

Inconvenient as it was, Erik couldn’t deny that lying here with Charles, listening to him talk about his past and even arguing with him had put some fire in his blood. He was beautiful, color still high in his cheeks, sky-blue eyes thoughtfully regarding Erik.

Charles swept a hand through his soft, loose dark waves and sighed; Erik was momentarily distracted watching what that movement did to his arm and shoulder muscles, built up by wheelchair use, moving under his pale smooth skin. Although he was about to speak, Charles caught that line of thought, or at least the gist—or simply had to read Erik’s face—and smiled again with his very red lips, a different kind of smile this time. He reached to wrap a hand around Erik’s half-hard cock, drawing a sharp inhalation from him.

“We were too hasty last night for me to pay attention to you properly,” Charles murmured, giving him a long, squeezing stroke. “As you deserve. I’m not complaining about last night, certainly not,” he added as Erik took another deep breath, feeling his cock rush to harden in Charles’ firm grip. “Not at all. But you do deserve proper attention, most of all from your mate.”

“I won’t argue,” Erik breathed, voice a little strained.

May I?

Erik nodded.

As he entered Erik’s mind, Charles’ thumb rolled over the tip of his cock, smearing the precome that was starting to gather there, and making Erik moan.

He was so sensitized that it didn’t take many more of Charles’ tight, massaging strokes until he came over his fingers. As he shuddered, he heard and felt Charles’ sigh, a release of his own in his mind. But it wasn’t enough, Erik thought.

Erik shifted down to kiss him, Charles’ hand releasing him to rest at his side, slick with come although Erik didn’t care. Erik trailed the backs of his knuckles down Charles’ chest, heard and felt him inhale. He kissed down Charles’ neck, pressed his lips to his fluttering pulse, the curve of his collarbone. He touched the tip of his tongue to Charles’ nipple, flicked it, gently closed his teeth on it, sucked at it. Charles’ non-slick hand had found his hair, and was scrabbling distractedly in it as Erik blew out a breath over his hardened nipple, then turned his attentions to the other one.

“God,” Charles gasped out, just in time for Erik to feel a throbbing burst of pleasure reach a climax in his thoughts. How strange, how delightful to make someone come this way.

They dozed off again, Charles’ mind still humming with a pleasant buzz. Erik had done that.

The third time he awoke, he was alone but able to hear Charles in the kitchen and feel the metal he was using to make breakfast. Moving about, he realized Charles had cleaned him at some point; after pulling his jeans on, he made his way to the kitchen, feeling no need to shower just yet.

Charles smiled at him, looking him up and down. “I had a feeling you’d be back here, you know,” he said.

Erik just nodded. Honestly, he’d had that feeling too.

You’re not alone now, Charles had said. No, he was not.

-------

Much to his chagrin, Charles still had to go to work that day. Erik was able to work from home, if he liked, and Charles very reluctantly saw him off before going to the university himself—late, and clearly, he was sure, very distracted.

If he were trying to get Erik pregnant, he thought in the elevator, he’d be able to take a sabbatical, and all would be forgiven. But as it was, he hadn't had time to inform the university about having taken a mate, and so there was no dispensation. He had to go in and at least get things in order, and then put in his request. But… how would that work, exactly? It couldn’t be a formal sabbatical, could it?

Hank knew he’d been seeing Erik, but little more than that. He’d have to be informed that Charles had a mate now, and would need to be available more often than not to slake his heats, even if he wasn’t planning to impregnate Erik. Charles could do Skype sessions from home, record lectures, and come in on off days, but Hank would have to take on more work.

He was a hard worker, and extremely intelligent, and on those counts Charles was not concerned, but it was undeniable that Hank lacked a certain… charm that people had come to associate with Charles, and by extension, his work. Hank stammered, frequently adjusted his glasses, and sometimes had a hard time enunciating and making eye contact. Being a beta no doubt had affected his lack of confidence. All that said, if it came down to letting Hank take over somewhat so that Charles could be freer to stay home with Erik, so be it, definitely. Besides, it would do Hank good.

In their office that morning, Charles informed Hank (after apologizing for his tardiness) that he’d taken Erik as a mate and needed to spend more time with him. Hank, sipping his coffee, nodded as if he’d expected it. They discussed more specific plans. Charles started to feel more relaxed—his class was in good hands.

“What’s it like?” Hank asked sometime later, as they were preparing to leave the lecture hall, packing up their things.

“Mm?” Charles said.

“Having a mate,” Hank clarified, and cleared his throat, face red.

“Ah. Well, it’s only been a few days,” Charles answered, “but… so far, Hank, it’s exhausting.” He chuckled, wry, and yes, maybe a little smug, but felt no need to get into further details.

He was getting closer and closer to being able to get home and see Erik again.

Chapter Text

Erik woke up one lazy weekday morning to the feeling of his mate’s fingers inside him, gently but thoroughly probing him, making him slicker (he was already slick from the night before).

“Charles,” he groaned softly into the pillow.

Charles kissed his shoulder. “Good morning, darling.”

Charles had informed him the other evening that he’d made arrangements at work to be at home more often, and to have his TA take on more responsibilities. “If we were trying to get you pregnant,” he’d said, “I’d take a formal sabbatical, but as the situation stands I think a modified schedule will be sufficient.”

So far, that modified schedule had taken the form of Erik bringing his laptop over to Charles’ to check his email and file forms and scan blueprints (his work had been informed of his mated status as well, although he’d assured them he had no plans to get pregnant), while Charles recorded lectures or gave them on Skype—when they weren’t in bed. Erik was naked more often and covered in come more often than he’d ever been in his life. He hadn’t seen his apartment for more than a few hours at a time.

Now, Erik shifted his hips, that familiar restlessness in Charles’ presence starting to take hold of him again. Had Charles taken his drugs? Did he intend to knot Erik again? Surely they were both starting to get worn out. Their level of activity had even caused Charles to experience a bout of muscle spasms the other night, for which he’d had to take medication; he’d been amused but Erik had been a bit alarmed, even after Charles had assured him it was fine.

But no sooner had Charles slipped in another finger than Erik started feeling that craving again, that need for his knot. “I hope you took your pills, Charles,” he groaned.

“I did,” Charles murmured, and bit down gently on Erik’s earlobe.

Erik realized the next morning when he was lying in bed, freshly awake from a strange melancholy dream he couldn’t quite remember, that something seemed off. Something about what he and Charles were doing, as much as he loved it, felt inescapably discordant now. Something was off.... What was it? Lying there alone (Charles having started his rather lengthy morning routine), he pondered it.

The next day, and the next, he couldn’t shake the feeling, whether in heat-addled moments or breaks between fucks. He started to wonder if he was coming down with something. Regardless, his body was trying to send him a message. What was it?

Staring at the ceiling one morning, he realized.

He wanted to get pregnant.

Whether his mind had changed on its own or it was the influence of being soaked in alpha pheromones and come for weeks, or a combination of both, he felt that desire now.

No wonder he hadn’t initially understood the feeling—he’d never felt the urge like this before. To an extent, when he was younger he’d fought it—hating the thought of being permanently tied to an alpha—and had gotten used to resisting, so that rejecting what would normally come naturally to an omega felt normal for him.

But the feeling—no, the need—had crept up on him. And accompanying that was a bone-deep rightness, not the aversion he’d felt in the past whenever he’d thought about possibly having children.

This was what his body wanted now, odd as it was.

Erik found every moment he spent lying there wondering what Charles’ babies would look like strange and mildly annoying, yet he was unable to stop himself doing it. Perhaps Charles’ babies would have his big blue eyes....

It was like a splash of cold water over his thoughts when he remembered he’d told Charles he wasn’t looking to get pregnant, and that Charles had told him he wasn’t likely to get anyone pregnant. If these hormonal feelings kept up, or got worse, there’d have to be a discussion. If Charles felt Erik was going back on his assurance, or that he, Charles, would be unable or unwilling to impregnate him, that would most certainly mean the end to this relationship, and the pain of a bond ending. And really, the more Erik thought about it, the more likely things seemed to be headed in that direction.

Of course it was doomed, something this perfect was too good to be true; Erik had screwed it up.

Then again, Charles had never said he was infertile, just that it was unlikely he’d be able to impregnate anyone.

Unlikely didn’t mean impossible.

Until they discussed it, however, he’d have to hide these thoughts from Charles.

-------

Something about regularly marking and knotting one’s mate, even if one had to take pharmaceuticals to reliably perform the usual ritual, made an alpha want—no, need—to impregnate, Charles was discovering to his dismay.

But Erik wasn’t looking to get pregnant. He’d said as much.

And if Charles suddenly started expressing an interest in impregnating him, why, of course Erik would not be particularly enthusiastic. Erik was very upfront about his likes and dislikes, and unlikely to be persuaded into something he didn’t want, not that Charles would want to manipulate him that way.

Not to mention, of course, that with the way Charles’ plumbing worked now, the odds of him succeeding seemed dismally poor.

But still, Charles thought about it. Almost obsessively. He was careful not to project, but he couldn’t help looking at Erik’s lean, flat, muscled belly and wishing he could see it rounded, heavy with his child.

It almost physically hurt thinking about how unlikely that outcome was. Feeling this need and knowing he might not ever fulfill it was intolerable. Yet his mate didn’t want to be pregnant, and the agony of a split bond was the other option.

And what if there did come a day when Erik wanted to bear children? There was no guarantee that Charles could give them to him. Once Erik had his mind set on something, nothing would stop him, and he might grow impatient with the effort it would require for Charles to sire a pregnancy. And even if Erik stayed with him regardless, Charles wouldn’t want that frustration for him.

The need in his body and soul, however, paid no heed to his dilemma, and he was starting to feel a strong new sort of possessiveness.

He’d fingered Erik awake the other day, which led into yet another knotting, assisted by pharmaceuticals though it was. Erik seemed insatiable these days, Charles’ mere presence triggering him into fresh waves of heat, which meant there was little time he wasn’t in heat, although after having it slaked he was able to go about working and his usual errands (well marked, of course), until he felt that pull back to Charles’ side.

It was possible this breakneck pace would only end with Erik getting pregnant, which might not be possible for them. But under no circumstances did Charles even want to think about anyone else attempting to inseminate Erik—the idea was anathema.

The thought haunted him, however, and when Erik came back from a quick jaunt to the store one afternoon—

“Erik. To the bedroom. Now.”

Erik’s eyes widened as he looked Charles over—he was naked from the waist up—but he didn’t hesitate. Quite the opposite, as he nearly tripped over his own feet to comply. Charles could smell his increased arousal as he hastily got out of his clothes. It was Charles’ tone, the timbre of his thoughts, that was upping his heart rate and turning his thoughts into a jumble of excitement. CharlesCharlesCharles Whatdoeshewant Whatdoesheneedfromme

Erik didn’t need to be told to get on the bed; in fact he scrambled to do so. Charles pulled his chair close to the side of it and Erik crawled on his hands and knees to him; Charles put his hands to either side of Erik’s face and pulled him closer, and kissed him, a bruising, possessive, biting kiss that had Erik breathing hard. Charles—

Turn around.

Erik, still on his hands and knees, turned around, not bothering to hide his curiosity and anticipation. Charles spread his hands on the backs of Erik’s thighs, pushing him down, making him open himself to him. The scent of him was so strong Charles couldn’t withhold a groan, feeling himself getting almost drunk on omega pheromones. All for him; no one else had a claim on Erik, no one else could make his hormones spike like this.

He might be in a wheelchair, he might not be the largest alpha on the block, but Erik was his omega, damn it.

Hands holding Erik open, Charles softly growled “This is mine” before sliding his tongue inside Erik, deep, tasting his slickness and making Erik cry out at the unexpected intimacy. He worked his tongue in and out, fingers digging into Erik’s thighs, as the drugs he’d taken when Erik left rapidly started to kick in, as Erik started to be triggered into a renewal of heat, panting and shuddering.

Finally, Erik had to squirm away, apparently oversensitive, only to turn and scramble from the bed to Charles’ chair to straddle him, hastily opening his boxers and sinking down on his cock with a groan.

Mine. Charles pulled Erik to him, nipped at his neck; Erik responded by digging his nails into Charles’ shoulders, drawing them over his skin as he writhed. Charles bit at the curve of muscle between Erik’s neck and shoulder; fingernails clawing at Charles’ skin again, Erik shuddered bodily and came between them, followed by Charles coming, followed by his knot.

Breathing harshly through parted lips, Erik rode it, his mind a frenzy of need still, Charles breathing out harshly against the hot, sweat-slick skin of his neck as he gripped Erik’s narrow hips tightly.

All this in the span of a few minutes—they had no patience for anything slow anymore, not when it got like this.

Afterward, Erik having collapsed on the bed, Charles craned his neck to look at the marks Erik had clawed on him, and touched his fingertips to them—blood. Yes. He’d incited his omega into drawing blood through sheer excitement. Charles closed his eyes, heart pounding with a strange mix of pride and shame.

It was… immensely gratifying, making one’s mate so desperate with need… but at the same time, the sudden onset of Charles’ possessive urge, and its intensity, unnerved him a great deal. It reminded him of all the alpha behavior he’d sworn to himself to avoid, to not allow himself to get sucked into. He could lose control, like that.

And as good as it had felt in the moment, it had done nothing to quell his urge to do what seemed impossible—to be the one who impregnated Erik.

-------

That night, Erik lay awake for some time. While Charles was fairly direct, he’d never before been so demanding, or said anything about Erik belonging to him. Erik was a little disturbed by the fact that he wasn’t more disturbed by it. To the contrary, just thinking about it again was making him slick, making his skin warm. He imagined Charles waking up now, smelling Erik’s arousal, taking him again, even if they had to wait for the pills to work. And Erik would welcome it—more than welcome it, he might beg for it, not that he’d need to.

Riding Charles’ knot had felt more intense this time—now that he acknowledged his desire to get pregnant, he wanted to keep it inside himself as long as possible. He’d felt that need for Charles’ seed so keenly that he’d actually clawed at him, and it was all brought about by Charles’ behavior with him: ordering him to the bedroom, tasting him and licking him out, calling Erik’s hole “mine.” All the while, of course, Charles had no idea that Erik had changed his mind.

Things were threatening to get out of hand.

He’d have to tell Charles that his feelings had reversed, and it would have to be soon—if their bond needed to end, best to do it now. He couldn’t imagine wanting to bear the children of any alpha other than Charles, but if Charles felt they couldn’t go on, then that was that.

Breakfast, he decided. He’d tell Charles at breakfast.

In the morning, Charles was back to his usual temperament, seemingly unaware of Erik’s thoughts last night, no sign of that streak of possessiveness. He was, however, wearing a singlet after his shower, which was unusual for him, and Erik looked at the long, dark pink marks his nails had made on his skin. Charles said nothing about them, and Erik didn’t either.

-------

“Charles,” Erik said over breakfast, “I have something to tell you.”

Charles froze, and then carefully set down his teacup, heart pounding. Oh, that was never a good introduction to a conversation, and it meant Erik had something monumental to say. And it probably wasn’t something Charles would want to hear. Did he want to break up? Maybe he wanted to…. Oh God, Charles had been fixated on the idea of impregnating Erik with no plans to mention it to him since it seemed so outside the realm of possibility, but what if Erik had decided he wanted to have children? What if he was announcing he’d be leaving Charles for someone who wanted to—someone who could—do that for him? He sighed, closing his eyes for a moment. “Is it that you want to get pregnant?”

Erik was staring at him, eyes wide. “Have you been reading my thoughts?”

Charles shook his head. “No, no. Lucky guess, I suppose. I was afraid this would happen.” He laughed shortly, and shook his head again. So he was right. Erik wanted something that Charles most likely couldn’t give him, and he was going to leave.

He was going to leave, and another alpha was going to sire his children.

The thought was unbearable.

Erik continued. “I know when we first met I said I didn’t want to bear children. I’m sorry, I honestly didn’t think I’d ever want to. But now…. It’s what I want, Charles.”

“It’s fine.” Charles sighed, staring at his plate. He was starting to feel numb, a hint of the pain to come at the core of the numbness, waiting for him when he was here alone, after Erik left, breaking their bond. He cleared his throat, and swallowed. “Any alpha would be beyond lucky to have you. I can only hope they fully appreciate you the way you deserve.”

Erik was quiet for a long time; Charles didn’t look up until he heard Erik say “What?”

“You want babies; as much as I might want to, I most likely can’t give them to you, not without a lot of effort, time, and money.”

“But you still could.” Erik was looking at him very seriously, but speaking slightly more slowly than usual, as if Charles weren’t grasping something. “And it’s something you want.”

“Yes,” Charles said. “But it’s most likely only possible with possibly lengthy medical intervention.”

“So then why would I leave you for another alpha?”

“I… don’t know.” Was Erik…?

“Charles.” Erik put his hand over Charles’ where it lay beside his plate. “I want to have your babies, if you’re willing to try.”

Staring at Erik’s hand over his, Charles swallowed. “Erik. I…. You’re sure? You’re certain this is what you want?”

Erik chuckled softly, wryly, and raised Charles’ hand to kiss his knuckles. “I was as surprised as you are. I suppose your keeping me in bed all this time worked its magic on me.”

“Oh, Erik, no,” Charles exclaimed, shaking his head in consternation. “I want this to be something you really want, not something my hormones forced your hormones to do.” Acutely awful, the notion of having accidentally brainwashed Erik into something against his will. Never did he want to break Erik’s spirit.

Erik looked to be choosing his words. “Perhaps,” he said finally, “my hormones were simply waiting for the right alpha to come along.”

“What if that’s not me?” Charles said, and immediately winced.

Erik’s gaze scanned his face, his expression patient and a bit amused. “Let’s exhaust all possibilities before we come to such a conclusion, shall we, Charles?”

Charles nodded. “Right. Right….” He swallowed hard, the impact of what Erik was saying now hitting him. “You really want this.”

“I do,” Erik said firmly, squeezing Charles’ hand.

Charles blinked, feeling his eyes start to well up with tears. He laughed suddenly, wiping them away with a quick swipe of his thumb. “All right. Let’s try, then, darling.”

Chapter Text

The first thing Charles did after learning that Erik wanted to get pregnant that didn’t involve having Erik in bed was to put in his request for a sabbatical, giving him time off to work toward their goal. He made sure to do it in person after notifying Hank, puffed up a little bit with pride before his department head, smelling like his omega.

It was approved, of course. Erik came over that evening, and Charles was all too happy to tell him he was now on sabbatical.

“So I’ll be spending the foreseeable future with your cock inside me,” Erik said dryly, but Charles could sense his skin flushing, and grinned.

“If you’re lucky,” he whispered as Erik leaned down for a thorough kiss.

They’d had sex since they’d decided they were going to try for a pregnancy, of course, but now that Charles was officially on leave for it—something he’d long ago come to terms with being an unlikely prospect for him—he expected to feel differently about it. As he’d told Erik, he’d never actually tried impregnating anyone; usually quite the opposite. Now (and the ironic humor of the situation did not escape him) that he might not be capable of it, he very much wanted it. Aside from that kiss, however, they didn’t have time to get up to anything before bed.

Later that night, after straddling him, Erik kissed his way down Charles’ chest slowly and with deliberation, soft wet kisses on his highly sensitized skin. Now that he knew how much of a hotbed of feeling Charles’ upper body was, and that paying attention to it would more often than not get Charles’ “wonder drugs” working faster, he was practically merciless in his determination to bring Charles pleasure this way. It didn’t make him come, exactly, not like other things had before, but damned if it wasn’t close enough for what it was.

This particular night, with his hands grasping at Erik’s short, silky hair, Erik’s stubble scratching his skin and his breath raising goosebumps, it hit Charles; although he’d had those disbelieving “this is my mate” moments before, he looked at Erik now, his naked and leanly muscled and highly disciplined body, and thought This is my mate and he is willing to give that gorgeous body to our desire to have a child together. The If we can followed immediately, but Charles set that aside. Regardless of outcome, right now it was the desire that mattered to him. Charles slid his hand to the back of Erik’s neck, stroking the smooth skin, and Erik groaned softly, hot and restless, and closed his teeth none-too-gently on Charles’ nearest nipple.

“Erik—!”

Charles gasped and squirmed, and Erik swiped his wet tongue over the nipple. Erik ran his hand up and down Charles’ chest, over his shoulder, his arm (Charles happened to know Erik very much appreciated what wheelchair use had done for his musculature there), setting Charles alight with crackling nerves. Under the assault, Charles started to babble, arching his neck as Erik kissed his way up to his pulse, fingers pinching his nipple.

“Erik— I— Fuck’s sake, be the death of me, I can’t—”

Humming, Erik brushed his lips over Charles’ skin, sinuously rolling his hips as if he’d start humping Charles any moment—surely Charles was ready now, surely—if only he could see around Erik he’d know and then he could give him what they both craved—

“I’ve got to, fucking, fuck, Erik, I want you on my cock, I—”

Erik kissed him on the mouth, wet and deep, then moved to bite at his earlobe as Charles groaned in frustration, hands going to his hair again to scrape his fingernails against Erik’s scalp and make him feel that sensation—

“Fucking hell, I want you in this bed all the time, you should be here always—you should live here—”

Erik pulled back and sank down on his cock with that familiar groan that nonetheless thrilled Charles to his core.

Charles ran his hands (also sensitized now) all over Erik: down his lean thighs, framing his narrow hips, palming his flat stomach; he wrapped one around his cock to quickly bring him off, shuddering and gasping openmouthed.

“Yes, Charles, I want it,” he whispered, half to himself, but also in acknowledgement of feeling Charles ejaculate (how much or how little, they didn’t know) and then panting and rolling his those agile hips on Charles’ knot, as Charles gripped his hipbones with slick hands and watched him—he was beautiful, and strong, that lean line of his neck bearing faint hints of marks, Charles’ marks. His expression was almost agonized, lashes fluttering, Erik rendered speechless as he worked himself with his hands tight on Charles’ forearms, enjoying the feeling of the knot inside him and wanting to keep everything in, because they were trying now.

Slipping off later, Erik leaned down to kiss him, woozy with having nearly worn himself out, hands propping himself up on either side of Charles, the kiss soft and imprecise. Erik stretched out alongside him then, sated and gradually starting to cool off. “Did you say you wanted me to move in?” he asked drowsily.

“What?” Charles blinked. Ah. “I suppose I did.”

“Don’t I basically already live here?”

“Well, Erik, there’s quite a substantial difference between being here a lot and actually living here.”

“Should be easy enough.” Erik hummed, and Charles couldn’t resist stroking a hand down his back, wanting suddenly to touch him. “My lease is up next month, after all. I’d be moving at some point anyway.”

“Yes.” Charles stretched to kiss his temple, with a thrill of delight at the thought—Erik, his mate, properly living with him. “Let’s talk details in the morning. I seem to have exhausted myself somehow.” He laughed softly.

“Are you all right?” Erik asked with real concern, sitting up a bit and furrowing his brow.

“I may be a bit chafed—no, darling, it’s a joke, although please let me know if something seems to have gone awry down there—but, well, I’m not as young as I used to be and paralysis can cause you to tire much more easily, you know. We’ve been going at a breakneck pace lately.” He laughed again. “If you’ll pardon the expression.”

Erik snorted. “Charles, as much as I desperately crave you at every hour of the day—” His delivery was sarcastic, but Erik was hardly exaggerating, and Charles caught his breath— “I also don’t wish to completely exhaust you. You must tell me if I’ve hurt you or you’re otherwise infirm. There are things I can do to cope.”

“Such as?”

“You did once tell me I should opt for a dildo, if you recall.”

Charles felt a ridiculous flare of jealousy. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “Yes, but a dildo couldn’t knot you.”

“A metal one could.”

“Ah,” Charles said finally, grudgingly impressed. “Have you done that before, then?”

“No, but it’s occurred to me.”

Because Charles hadn’t been fulfilling his needs? He set that thought aside. “That probably won’t slake your heat,” he pointed out.

Erik tilted his head. “Might, might not. I’d probably only do it with you here, so it’s possible your presence would be enough. My point is, Charles, if we’re going to try for a baby, we need you to be in good health. We’ll manage.”

“Going to try for a baby,” Charles repeated, as Erik got up to drink some water and go clean himself up (he’d assured Charles that although he appreciated the gesture, there was no need for Charles to do it every time). “I still can’t quite believe it,” he added, and from the ensuite Erik added, “I’m not sure I can either.”

“Are you going to take leave?” Charles asked him when he came back in.

“I’ve put in a request, but I didn’t want to mention it to you until it was approved,” Erik said. “Which I’m sure it will be.” He stretched out alongside Charles again.

Charles sighed. “That doesn’t bother you, does it? Having to take leave. I know you didn’t envision yourself leaving your career to get pregnant.”

“I didn’t, but now it’s part of the plan. It’s all right, Charles. I’ll move in, we’ll both go on leave, and we’ll continue fucking like rabbits until one or both of us is exhausted.” Erik kissed Charles’ shoulder.

“We’ll have to watch out, though—it’s common enough for couples to get sick of each other during the trying period.”

“Don’t worry, Charles. As if anyone could get sick of me.” With a smile, Erik closed his eyes, and promptly fell asleep before Charles’ somewhat addled brain could think up a proper retort.

Charles lay awake a while longer.

When Erik moved in, although he’d been spending plenty of time here, he’d really be part of Charles’ life then—including the disability-related things Charles tried to hide from him. He didn’t expect Erik to embarrass or ridicule or pity him, not at all, but it still wasn’t going to be easy. After he’d learned how to care for himself, he’d done his best to not need anyone else, and while he’d had people over in the time since, circumstances were too casual for more than that.

Erik was really the first person who’d gotten more than a glimpse of what his life was really like.

-------

Erik was taking the last box of stuff down to his car when he ran into Raven coming up the stairs. “Hey! Long time no see,” she teased, jabbing his arm and turning to walk with him. “Guess you’ve been pretty busy lately.”

Erik knew Raven had been taking up with someone new—an older woman, with an air of mystery—but didn’t know any more than that. It was true that he’d fallen out of touch with a lot of people and things in his mating haze. “You could say that.” He cleared his throat, and fell silent until they were at his car, adding, “My lease ended, and I’m moving in with Charles. We want to have a baby.”

“Charles—” Raven stopped short, staring at him, golden eyes wide. Erik realized he’d never actually told her the name of the alpha he’d been seeing. “Charles. Alpha, wheelchair, Charles. Charles Xavier. My brother.”

“Your—”

“My brother, Charles. You’re moving in with and want to have a baby with my brother, Charles.”

Erik stared at her. “You don’t look alike and your last name isn’t Xavier.”

“I’m adopted. Oh my God, I had a feeling when you said he was in a wheelchair, and then I thought I smelled him on you, but…. I can’t believe he didn’t tell me! He’s in so much trouble.” Raven took out her phone and started rapidly texting. Erik, after pausing for a moment, continued packing his car. It was Charles’ problem now.

Raven punched his arm, and Erik winced. “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me more about him. I could have been helping you out all this time.”

“Helping me out how?” Erik asked, raising a brow.

“I could have given you all the secrets to cracking Charles Xavier.” She shook her head, and paused to read over a text before scoffing. “He says he didn’t tell me much because he says he is a very private person—ha!—and he ‘wanted to make sure this was real first.’” Erik felt his heart clench a little at that. “Anyway. For starters, I could have told you how he always thinks he knows best, he always thinks he’s right, and he just wants to help.” There was a touch of scorn in her voice, but a touch of resigned fondness as well.

Erik closed the trunk. “I knew that already.”

Raven snorted. “Sure, now you do. That’s my point. Also—Erik.” She pinched the bridge of her nose. “You were one hundred percent sure you didn’t want to ever get pregnant, and then you get my brother in the sack and you’re actively trying for it? Seriously?” She winced.

Erik shrugged.

“He and I don’t really see eye-to-eye politically, and… come to think of it, neither should you.” She frowned, clearly awaiting an explanation.

“We’ve visited that topic a time or two, but—”

“—But you always end up distracted,” Raven supplied.

“Essentially, yes.”

“Well, if you two have a kid, chances are it’ll be a mutant. You’ll have to have that discussion.”

“I know.” He’d actually been thinking about that more and more lately—how would they raise their children? Would Charles want them to be as assimilated as possible? What if they had visible mutations? Erik couldn’t imagine Charles actually rejecting his own children—he’d been very interested to hear about Erik’s twins and wondered with him whether any powers they had would manifest in the next few years—but he was realizing he didn’t actually know that much about the details of Charles’ position, other than that he was definitely not a separatist. Raven was a highly visible mutant who had the ability to disguise herself—surely the way she chose to appear had something to do with their distance.

To his surprise, with his arms empty now she stepped into them and gave him a tight hug. “He and I might not be all that close anymore, but you’re my brother’s mate now, so you’re basically family. Feel free to keep the intimate details from me, but… if you ever need anything, just let me know.” Stepping back, she smiled at him. He smiled back, and opened the driver’s side door.

“I can’t believe Irene didn’t tell me,” he heard her mutter to herself.

Once he turned in his key to the management, there he was on his way to his new home, preparing to trust completely in a man who turned out to be Raven’s brother, a man he hadn’t known for long and didn’t actually know that well. Yet…. Once again he found himself thinking of his mother, and he had the feeling she’d approve of what he was doing.

“I see you know my sister,” Charles said as Erik walked into his foyer.

“Yes, we were neighbors.” Erik set down the box, and bent to kiss Charles. “Interesting girl.”

Charles laughed softly, fond. “Yes, she is.”

“Did you not realize we might have known each other? We move in the same circles, activism-wise.”

With a shrug, Charles answered, “I assumed there was a possibility. I didn’t go into either of your minds to verify that. I haven’t had her over lately either—we don’t always get along, although we love each other dearly, and I think she had a bit too much of my somewhat controlling tendencies growing up.” He sighed.

Erik sat down and looked at Charles a long time. “She said you told her you wanted to make sure this was real before you said anything to her.”

“I’m sure she said some other things as well,” Charles chuckled, but then he bit his lip, and sighed again. “Yes, I didn’t want to tell her until you were formally moved in and I knew it was serious, that you were… my mate.”

“We’re trying to get me pregnant and you waited that long.”

“I’ve had my dalliances in the past and she’s done her share of scolding me over it. Lately, she wants me to settle down, find someone to take care of me. I told myself I wouldn’t bother her with details of any more relationships until I had something that was… real.”

Erik nodded, feeling his heart beat faster. He swallowed. “So. This is real.”

Charles smiled, that warm smile Erik was growing to be very fond of. “Yes. It’s real.”

Chapter Text

Charles had been a bit nervous just prior to Erik’s moving in—he wanted him there, very much, but he found himself almost obsessively hoping Erik found the place suitable, which was rather absurd given that Erik had been practically living there already, as he himself had said. His flat was perfectly clean and well appointed—he had a maid service, and there was room for Erik’s things, although it was a bit of a tight fit—but something about it made him restless.

When he realized what it was, he laughed. He was nesting.

“Like a bowerbird,” he muttered to himself, with a chuckle. Perhaps he should line the doorway with bright blue trinkets to garner Erik’s approval. The absurdity of his primitive hormones was one thing, but his desire for Erik’s approval was very real.

And as much trepidation as Charles felt about having Erik see, really see, what life was like for him as a wheelchair user, having his mate living with him did provide a bone-deep sense of security. Erik’s place was in his bed now. The sheets, the bedroom always smelled like him now, because he lived here. Charles hadn’t realized how comforting that knowledge could be.

And more than just comforting, it was erotic. He knew that was the case for Erik, too—usually a morning person, to hear him tell it, Erik was now content to linger in bed, with nowhere to go with them both on leave, wrapped up in the sheets, or around Charles. It was so gratifying to see his mate, in the heart of their “nest,” idly rubbing his face on the pillow, naked and soaking up Charles’ scent.

Erik still, however, needed to keep in shape, lying about in bed all day not truly being something suited to his body or his temperament. Charles ordered a treadmill for their study, to be fit in alongside his weights and various other equipment he had for himself, and when Erik’s heat slacked off a bit and he felt the need to run off his extra energy, he employed it. Of course, afterward, he was coated in omega-scented sweat, and after the first time Charles discovered he truly enjoyed licking said sweat off of him in bed, it became a regular thing.

But despite the fact that they were living together now, Charles still had trouble truly believing that Erik wanted to have his children, and the idea struck him with both awe and panic: what if he didn’t succeed? They had possibly months and months of frustration ahead of them—could their bond withstand crushing, heartbreaking disappointment? The entire reason he was here, that they were together, was so that they would have a baby.

The anxiety was almost enough to make him forget that alphas and omegas trying for pregnancy was a more enjoyable activity than not—at least, it was supposed to be, for most couples. Yet he couldn’t talk about his concerns with Erik—Erik didn’t need that sort of negativity.

Unfortunately, however, Erik noticed that something was preoccupying him.

“You’re bothered by something, what is it?” Erik asked at breakfast one morning.

“You can tell, then?” Charles laughed, rueful.

“Of course,” Erik replied. “You’re my mate.”

“Yes, of course.”

“Plus when you’re tired your shielding isn’t always as good as you might think it is, and you aren’t always aware of your body language and facial expressions as tells.”

Charles ignored that. “Well,” he sighed, “I think that perhaps we ought to start seeing a fertility specialist. Sooner rather than later.” He bit his lip. “I’ve told you I might have difficulty. I don’t know how serious it might be or how long things might take.”

Erik shrugged. “I may have difficulty as well, if you recall. We’ll do what it takes, if it’s possible.”

“Right.” Charles let out a breath, relieved. “I… I wish we didn’t have to see one, but—”

“There’s no shame in it. There’s a reason they exist, and we might as well use it to our advantage.”

-------

As it happened, Charles’ TA, Hank, had a number of connections at local medical centers and hospitals, and one fertility specialist he recommended was an old friend of Charles’, one he’d lost touch with.

Charles said he remembered Moira MacTaggert as a clever and compassionate woman, but in person it was clear she was also attractive, and Erik managed just barely to set aside his no-doubt hormone-induced jealousy at seeing how friendly they were with each other. In his mind, they’d been more than friends back when they’d been in school together—they were so easy and casually flirtatious that it had to have been something else. And with Erik freshly marked with Charles’ scent, no less. Moira was a beta, and Charles described her as always having felt she had something to prove, to show betas weren’t to be forgotten about and cast aside; he spoke admiringly of her accomplishments. Erik sat frowning in her office as she and Charles caught up.

Manners, Erik, Charles scolded him gently. She’s not my mate and never was; you are. “Erik, why don’t you tell Dr. MacTaggert why we’re here.”

Don’t be condescending, Erik thought back at Charles, but he explained that he didn’t think he was especially fertile, at least not in the way he wanted to be now, since he’d never been pregnant and had in fact actually sired children with another omega, and that Charles didn’t think he was particularly fertile either, because he was paralyzed.

Moira listened closely to all the details Erik gave. “Tricky,” she finally said, “but not impossible. There is, of course, artificial insemination—”

Erik shook his head. “Not unless we have to.”

Moira nodded. “There are fertility-boosting drugs, and various devices that can make things much easier for Charles. If you’ll pardon the expression, there’s a lot of throwing things at the wall to see what sticks in this business. But we’ll do everything we can. It may take a lot of trial and error, but I don’t see your situation as an impossible one. First of all, I think the fact that Charles can incite you into heat is a positive sign, especially considering how long it’s been since you’d had one before you met him. You haven’t been using birth control, correct?”

“Didn’t think I needed it,” Erik said.

“The problem may resolve itself, then, given time, assuming you keep having regular intercourse. Charles, you’ve got your Viagra and SurelyKnot, but as I mentioned, we have pharmaceuticals that can boost your sperm count and semen output, so it might not hurt to try that, after we test your sperm. You’re able to ejaculate, which is a great sign. If position is an issue, if you want something with a greater likelihood of conception, there’s help for that.”

Charles nodded. Erik remembered how fixated Charles seemed to be on mounting.

“There are boosters for Erik as well,” Moira continued, “but I think we ought to wait and see what else works first. Fertility boosters for omegas make your heat symptoms more intense, which… may not be very pleasant for you. Either of you,” she added, apparently in acknowledgement of Charles’ raised brow of interest. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, should it come to that,” she told him.

“Should I go back to physical therapy?” Charles wondered aloud, half-joking. “I have my stretches, but I’m starting to think I might need it, or a personal trainer, or something.”

“Well, you know I’m not an expert in paralysis, Charles,” Moira said, tilting her head, “but… it might be a good idea.”

“So many options,” Charles said with a sigh.

“You can think them over,” Moira told him. “I know you’re eager to succeed in this, but there’s no need to rush yourselves. In fact, it might be detrimental. You can start by just going along as you have been after you’re tested, then pick something you’re both interested in trying. The easiest thing might be just upping your dosage of SurelyKnot. But keep in mind, too, you’ve got a great opportunity for bonding here.”

“I’m not sure I take your meaning. We’re living together and we’re already mates,” Charles said.

“I mean more than just physical bonding. It’s about more than just sex, boys,” Moira added, teasing. “I’ll get some pamphlets together for you and have that SurelyKnot dosage increase called in, for whenever you decide to use it. But first of all, you need to have your sperm tested.”

“What does that entail?” Charles asked.

“Well, my understanding is that for men with spinal cord injuries, typical collection involves stimulating ejaculation with a specialized vibrator.”

“Sounds fun,” Erik commented, remembering Charles’ comment about only feeling much sensation in his cock with the aid of direct electrical impulses.

“I can only guess,” Moira said, amused, “but Charles, you’ll have to abstain from ejaculation for a period of three to five days beforehand. Less than three days won’t give you enough sperm; more than five and the sperm will be too old for accuracy. If your sperm tests normally, we’ll know better where to go from there. Testing Erik would be more invasive, so it’s best to wait on that until it becomes necessary, if it does.”

“Three to five days without sex?” Erik asked, and swallowed.

“Hard to have imagined before I met you that it would now be considered a hardship,” Charles said dryly.

Erik sighed. “I suppose we’ll find some way to pass the time and distract ourselves.”

At home, Erik couldn’t help thinking about what Moira had said. She was smart, he had to admit, and she was right about this: it was about more than sex. It sounded like something his mother would have said.

And as it happened, Raven had made what to his mind was a similar point about the true scope of what they were working toward, how it was about more than sex and about more than pregnancy, too: how would they raise their child or children if they were mutants, which was very likely to be the case?

“Charles,” he said that evening, as Charles got into bed beside him, “what if our…. What if any child we might have is a mutant?”

“Then that would be wonderful, wouldn’t it? Isn’t that what you want?” Charles furrowed his brow, confused.

“The odds are good, but even if our child weren’t a mutant, I’m sure I’d manage.”

“So… you’re asking me what I think about it?”

Erik nodded.

“You expected me to react negatively to our child being a mutant?”

“A visible one, perhaps.”

Erik watched Charles’ expression harden as Charles looked at him a long time. Erik swallowed, but said nothing.

“You think I’d reject my own child.” There was a layer of emotion underlying Charles’ voice, and if Erik wasn’t mistaken, tears were starting to form in his eyes. Erik’s heart sank.

“Not necessarily. I—”

“Raven. Did Raven give you this idea?” Charles sighed. “I wanted Raven to keep the form of a normal girl her age to keep herself safe. I knew perfectly well how much danger she’d be in as such a visible mutant. What I thought of as prudence and concern for her safety she interpreted as condescension and controlling behavior.”

“It is,” Erik argued. “It’s not your place to make that decision for her.”

“It was when she was a child—”

“No, it wasn’t. You’re her adopted brother, not her parent. Did you think that because you were the oldest son, you—”

“I wasn’t the oldest son.” Charles suddenly looked very tired, and Erik realized he knew almost nothing about how Charles grew up. “When Raven was old enough to look after herself, she stopped shifting, and learned a few types of self-defense. She became outspoken, and politically involved. I was very proud of her, but she always saw it as patronizing, always assumed I was rejecting who she truly was.” Charles cupped Erik’s face. “I need you to understand something.”

Erik waited, Charles’ very blue eyes searching his in a way that made him feel exposed, even if Charles wasn’t in his head.

Charles swallowed, and continued. “I would never, ever reject my own child, mutant or not. Visible mutant or not. I would love them with all my heart. I would give them every advantage I could.” He set his jaw. “Surely you knew, from talking about your twins, that I wouldn’t reject them should they turn out to be mutants.”

After a moment, Erik nodded. “All right, yes, Charles. I…. I apologize.”

Charles rested his hand on Erik’s chest. “But you still want to know how I’d want mutant children to be raised. Erik, I don’t think separatism is feasible. Nor is it healthy for a child. I’d want them to be able to handle any situation, and separating them from humans doesn’t allow for that.”

“Do you think that because you’re an alpha, your word is law?”

Charles raised a brow, not taking the bait. “For all your talk about mutant separatism, I don’t see you off living on an island somewhere,” he pointed out.

“There’s time enough for that,” Erik muttered.

“Yes, perhaps. And your children may join you there… when they’re of the age to make that decision.”

“Won’t you be coming too?”

“Perhaps. If I’m wanted,” he added, teasing. “If we can still stand each other by then.” Charles kissed him, and damn him but if Erik didn’t respond immediately. “I can’t come for three days," Charles reminded him when he groaned softly, and the groan turned into a moan of disappointment.

“What on earth will we do instead?” Erik asked, just a hair short of whining (Erik didn’t whine). It was a ridiculous question and he knew it; when Charles was tired, or when Erik was sore, they always found something else to do.

Charles looked thoughtful. “We’ll play chess. It’s been a while since I played.”

Erik glared at him.

“And I’ll blow you, of course. Whenever you win. Or we could watch television. Or read.”

“Chess will be fine,” Erik said hastily.

-------

The specialized vibrator they’d purchased remained in its box until it had been three days since the last time Charles had ejaculated.

“It’s been three days,” Erik said that morning, first thing.

“Believe me, I’m aware,” Charles said blearily, stretching before getting himself out of bed and to the ensuite. “After I have my tea, bring me the box.”

“So, all your sperm this time is going into some damned cup?” Erik asked as Charles opened the box, having taken his Viagra and taken off his pajama trousers. He sounded bitter, having developed a proprietary attitude toward Charles’ ejaculate even despite the exceptionally good blowjobs Charles had given him, which apparently hadn’t made up for the waiting and terrible, cruel deprivation.

Charles inspected the vibrator. It consisted of a handheld bit that attached to a cup that would vibrate over the head of his cock. He flipped the on switch and jumped at how powerful it was. “Oh my.” Although it wasn’t unlike the one he’d used before, it had been a while.

“Charles. After three days—”

“Yes, Erik, the sperm is going into a cup, that was the entire purpose of the waiting and the testing in the first place,” Charles answered, distracted. He laid back, and handed Erik the vibrator. “If you’d do the honors.”

“But I won’t—”

“I’ll tell you what. After this, I’m quite sure I’ll be worn out. Why don’t you knot yourself with a metal dildo.”

Sighing, Erik placed the cup over the head of Charles’ now-hard cock, wrapping his other hand around the shaft. He switched it on. “Shit,” he remarked at how strong the vibration was. “Can you feel that?”

“Yes,” Charles said, closing his eyes. He could indeed. “Can you?” he asked. Erik nodded, going quiet and watching him.

Charles was somewhat able to vaguely feel the pressure of Erik around him when they were having sex, but this was a different matter entirely; this wasn’t pressure, this was sensation, even if it felt like a distant one. A tickling sensation that was building and building. He was starting to breathe harder. He closed his eyes tightly for a moment, hands curling into fists.

While it was true that he’d used direct electrical stimulation before, as he’d told Erik, he hadn’t done it since because the subsequent increase in blood pressure had tended to leave him with a pounding headache and dizziness. And if he were honest, the increased sensations reminded him of what he used to be able to feel, and so much more, without trying at all. Perhaps paradoxically, although many men with spinal cord injuries used these vibrators recreationally, Charles hadn’t wanted to do so.

Now, however, with Erik holding it and watching him intently, face flushed, Charles thought perhaps he’d been remiss, and that they really ought to use this thing more often, headaches be damned, but for the fact that Erik wanted to keep all of his sperm for himself. Perhaps after he got pregnant, then. If he did.

“Charles, can I—”

“Of course.” Although he was becoming more and more swept up in the sensations, Charles managed to project what he was feeling to Erik, whose flush darkened in the process. For all his jealousy of the vibrator, Erik was very turned on, part of his mind already considering what he could use as a metal dildo in his increasingly desperate need to get off, to ride a knot. Getting to feel what Charles felt only increased his arousal, and he started thinking about Charles fucking him, a dildo fucking him, anything fucking him, just the feeling of something hard and thick swelling inside him and filling him. He’d shape the metal into a knot and ride it—

Erik’s scent was strong in the air, and perhaps all the combined factors explained why Charles didn’t need as long a period of stimulation as he’d assumed he would.

Breathing hard, Charles watched as he came—“The cup, Erik, the cup, the cup”—and as Erik caught his ejaculate.

“It needs to be at the clinic in an hour,” he panted.

Erik groaned. “Then I’d better hurry.” Sealing the cup, he stripped off his pajamas. With a wave of his hand and a clenching of his fist, he raised an empty metal vase off a bookshelf and formed it into a phallic shape. He got on the bed on his hands and knees, feet next to Charles’ hip.

As Charles watched, Erik—in the position he’d take if he were being mounted, Charles realized—guided the metal dildo into himself with his power, and began to fuck himself with it. Panting and groaning, he writhed, rolling his hips.

“Darling—Let me—” He sent Erik a general idea of what he wanted to do.

“Charles—Yes—”

Dipping into Erik’s mind, Charles took a mental hold on Erik’s power, taking over and using it to direct the dildo, how fast and how deeply it thrusted. Erik’s groans became higher in pitch, his back slick with sweat. When he was trembling so hard his arms gave out and he slumped forward, Charles chose that moment to direct Erik’s powers to make the base of it swell, drawing a shudder from him.

“Come here, darling, come here,” Charles directed in a rush, and Erik turned to be alongside him, groping almost blindly, depriving Charles of the view but bringing him close enough for Charles to grasp his cock and for Erik to kiss him, breathless and wrecked. Sighing out broken words that sounded like attempts at “yes,” and “Charles,” and perhaps some others, Erik came, and Charles relinquished his hold on both his cock and his powers. Erik slipped the improvised dildo out, and lay there catching his breath. Although it bothered Charles that he couldn’t take Erik in that position he’d started in, he knew he’d keep that mental image crystal-clear in his memory, and more importantly, Erik had found relief.

“Very efficient,” Charles praised, to an eyeroll from Erik. They had time to shower and get to the clinic.

It took several days to get the results back. Charles could admit to himself that he was nervous. There could be a number of problems they’d have to overcome, and issues with his sperm could be quite difficult to tackle. They might even need a donor, and the very thought of someone else’s sperm being used, even if the alpha never met Erik, bothered Charles on a very basic level.

So his heart was pounding when he received the envelope with his results. Tearing it open, he scanned it, unable to concentrate enough to read it all. Every column was marked with “normal.”

“Erik!” he called.

“What is it,” Erik answered from the bedroom.

I’m normal, Charles sent him. I’m normal.

“What do you mean,” Erik said as Charles wheeled his way into the room, practically barrelling in. Charles thrust the letter at him.

“‘Normal,’” Erik read. He looked at Charles. “That’s very good news.”

Charles laughed. He felt a thousand pounds lighter.

Cross that off the list, then.

Chapter Text

When Charles had first been paralyzed and was trying to understand what had happened to him and what he’d have to deal with in the future, naturally one of the most difficult things to adjust to, from a matter of pride, had been understanding that his previously active sex life was going to be history. Although he’d never formally taken a mate, he’d had (more than) his share of fun, and he’d expected to be able to do so in the future. The accident had changed all that overnight, and it took some time for him to get on his feet again—so to speak—and start dating.

The first few people he’d slept with had been patient and accommodating, but he knew they weren’t comfortable with the process, the routine, the lack of spontaneity, the limited number of positions and activities. Charles tried, he really did, but the relationships always petered out. No one said it was because he was in a wheelchair, but he knew it was part of the “compatibility issues” that had played themselves out. He learned there were other things he could do, but he never quite got the chance to apply that knowledge as much as he would have liked.

The dynamic was different with Erik, and it almost seemed too good to be true.

Charles didn’t always need a Viagra, and he didn’t always take a SurelyKnot, because Erik just wanted to fuck him, to be with him. Of course, with their goal in mind, Charles tried to make sure he deposited as much sperm as possible in Erik whenever he could, but it was also nice not having to wait for the drugs, for Erik to have Charles finger him or wank him off and to draw off the heady burst of pleasure produced by Erik’s orgasm.

Furthermore, Erik had a determined and genuine interest in doing what Charles liked, especially after he read an article about paralysis and the fascinating tendency of the body to rewire nerves and creature pleasurable areas where nothing particularly interesting had happened before. Charles’ nipples were now so sensitive that Erik’s attentions made him tremble and gasp, and his neck was such a site of stimulation that it was practically obscene. He’d had an inkling, but there had never been so much focus on his neck before. Marking sessions, when undertaken properly with enough attentions to both of them, were almost as pleasurable as full-on sex. Charles rubbed his jaw against Erik’s neck and Erik would then nuzzle his. Add in some more stimulation from Erik if they had the time and voila, no real need for Viagra on those particular occasions.

Consequently, Erik, although he kept clean, reeked of alpha sex, and for his part Charles knew it was clear from his own scent that he had taken a mate. This knowledge leant an interesting glint to the eyes and color to the thoughts of those around him when they realized, when they managed to leave the flat. Just like the way a wedding ring inspired some to greater levels of interest than they might have felt otherwise, an alpha with a mate was seen as more desirable to some. Charles, who enjoyed flirting and being flirted with, didn’t mind it, as he channeled his enjoyment into attentions to Erik. In fact, he found it flattering.

Erik, however, didn’t have such a sanguine view of it.

“I’m right here,” he grumbled on more than one occasion of them going out to dinner and Charles being flirted with by the staff.

It was all rather funny until Charles became aware of other alphas with their eyes on his omega.

In theory, Charles was of course aware that any alpha worth his or her salt would be interested in Erik. He was, as Charles himself had said, delectable. But it was a different matter when Erik was one’s claimed mate. When he reeked of Charles, had marks on his neck. When everyone else should know to steer clear.

The worst of it was when Charles and Erik were out for dinner at a high-end restaurant downtown. They’d both been craving something indulgent. They did not especially expect to run into someone Erik used to know. Charles started sensing an odd wave of emotions from him when—

“Charles,” Erik said, low, leaning across the table, “I think you should be aware that there’s an alpha at that table behind you who’s staring at me, and I used to know him.” He had paled somewhat, Charles realized with alarm.

Charles narrowed his eyes, mind scanning the room, and—ah, yes. It was hard to sense him well—he had some sort of shielding—but there was a powerful alpha mutant there. Charles turned slightly, and saw him, with his eyes on Charles’ omega.

“He was after me when I was younger,” Erik added—and that answered some questions for Charles. The man got up, coming over to them, and Erik went silent, cold.

“Erik,” the man said, standing next to their table. “What a surprise to run into you.” His voice was oily, unctuous, sinister, with outward politeness. The idea of this man wanting his Erik—going after him, making him feel vulnerable and defenseless—

“Sebastian,” Erik said, curt, barely sparing him a glance. He added pointedly, “This is my mate, Charles Xavier.” Of course this Sebastian had been ignoring Charles, even though there was no way he couldn’t smell how much Erik reeked of him. Charles reached for Erik’s hand over the table and gave Sebastian a wide, dangerous smile.

“A pleasure, I’m sure. Sebastian, was it?”

Charles could try to exert his power against Sebastian to make him get the message and leave, but he didn’t want to. He thought Erik might like a show of mutant power against him, but there was something about Sebastian’s ability that made Charles think it wasn’t a good idea—there was something predatory about it.

And besides, Charles wanted Sebastian to leave not out of submission to Charles’ mutation but as an acknowledgement that this omega was claimed—not up for grabs, and certainly not by him. If he’d been able to stand, he’d have gotten in his face, growling and shoving, causing a scene in the restaurant. As it was, he could sense himself breathing harder and getting flushed, as much as he was trying to keep it under control, as much as he was trying to call up the skills he’d developed for keeping his anger in check when he was younger, when.... He kissed Erik’s knuckles.

“Charles. Well, Erik. I’ll leave you to your dinner,” Sebastian said finally, trying to sound jovial as though he were charmed by two new mates in love. In reality there was a spiteful ugliness pouring from his mind, and Charles wanted it away from them as soon as possible—it threatened to dredge up memories he wasn’t eager to revisit. Even if he didn’t physically shove Sebastian away from his mate, it still felt good to know he was retreating. But the indignation remained with Charles—the gall of the man, approaching them like Erik was something he could just take, as if Charles weren’t even there. He squeezed Erik’s hand, felt his gratitude.

As it turned out, they discovered that night that Erik was indeed stimulated by the slight pain of possessive little bites. “You’re mine, you’re mine,” Charles whispered as Erik rode his knot, wrapping his arms around Erik as best he could manage, running his hands through his hair. “You’re not his. You never were. He can’t have you.” Erik was wordless, almost sobbing as he often was when Charles knotted him, but his rush of relief when he came had an additional quality to it. He said nothing about it afterward, however.

But after that night, something was different between them.

One or both of them were tired at times, of course, and Charles didn’t always respond the way he wanted to. Erik could be grumpy and Charles preferred to let him sleep or otherwise relax rather than press the issue. It was best to wait and let Erik come to him.

And although it required some complicated positioning, one of his favorite things to do was to suck Erik off. He loved his salty taste, the smoothness of Erik’s cock against his tongue, the way he moaned low in his throat and clutched at Charles’ hair when Charles took him in deep. He especially loved the way Erik let Charles dip into his mind and experience what he felt with Charles’ mouth hot and wet around him, what it felt like for Charles to draw his orgasm out and leave him shaking and satisfied as Charles swallowed him down. On occasion, to heighten his enjoyment, Charles sometimes controlled when Erik came.

But even just sleeping with Erik was nice. Charles had to turn himself in the night to make sure he didn’t sleep too long on one side, and Erik largely slept through it when his alarm went off and he moved—sometimes Charles kept him asleep with a touch of his powers, but at other times he liked the way Erik half-awoke and then readjusted to press himself against Charles once more, often pressing his face into Charles’ neck and then sighing as he sunk into a deeper sleep. Feeling Erik nestled against him, with all that skin-to-skin contact and his scent in the air, filled him with a serene sort of bliss.

And he knew Erik felt similarly. Like the cat Charles had privately once characterized him as, he enjoyed being petted and stroked, from the crown of his head down to the small of his back, and Charles enjoyed running his hands over him, the slow, tender action soothing them both. Charles’ hands were more sensitive now, as well, and at times when Erik was basking under Charles’ attentions he’d pause the proceedings to kiss his palms and suck his fingers.

After weeks and weeks of living with Charles and sharing his bed, without having any indication that he was pregnant, Erik told Charles he had decided it was time to get down to business and begin really trying the various things Moira had suggested. Not that he minded the casual lovemaking that arose between them, Charles knew—quite the contrary—but the urge to be pregnant was strong, and Erik was very goal-minded.

The most obvious place to start was for Erik simply to hold Charles’ knot inside him for as long as he could, as often as possible. It was common for pairs trying to get pregnant to spend as long as an hour or more locked together. The Viagra and SurelyKnot caused Charles to knot, when he wanted to, but didn’t cause him to last as long as they might in an alpha with full feeling, at least not at the dosages Charles had been taking them in. Well, the remedy there was simple: Charles picked up the prescription Moira had put in for him, for SurelyKnot in a higher dosage.

The first night he took it, after he ejaculated he was content to lie still and caress Erik in the wake of their orgasms, framing his hands with his hips and smiling at him during and after the knot’s formation, until after a time Erik started to be visibly bored and restless, shifting on Charles but unable to move of off him. That didn’t please him, although Charles smothered a laugh, because after all, what did Erik expect? He usually loved being knotted. Perhaps he ought to bring a book next time. Charles pictured them playing chess with the board on his chest.

“Patience, darling,” he admonished gently. Erik huffed, still squirming, and Charles felt again that jolt of indignation. First of all, Erik, who wanted to be impregnated, was being ridiculous, and second of all—

Charles squeezed Erik’s hips, shifting Erik on him and causing him to gasp, a blush suffusing his skin as the knot moved inside him. As much as he’d like to have truly felt that rather than dimly, it was almost enough watching Erik’s face go slack, the look in his eyes distant and hazy. Erik had somehow managed to escape an adolescence and early adulthood marked by alphas pursuing him, pinning him down and successfully knotting him during his heats; he wasn’t used to being knotted or tied, and thus didn’t really understand his “job” was to be fought over, subdued, and fucked through his heat by the strongest alpha in proximity, to utterly submit to said triumphant alpha. He just knew he liked Charles’ knot.

But not only was Charles no longer in fighting shape, he couldn’t imagine Erik simply giving over control to anyone, no matter how strong his heat. Charles loved that about him, but he was still an alpha and Erik was still an omega, and the urge to make him submit was strong. Charles squeezed him again, fingers tighter now, moving his hips on him once more, just a bit, and savored his little groan and shiver.

“There,” Charles said, and though he was expecting Erik to snap, “Shut up” or something similar, Erik just blinked at him, mouth a little slack. Charles understood that what pulled this reaction from him was not just Erik moving on his knot but Charles moving Erik on his knot. Making him feel it. It wasn’t the same as Erik simply rocking on him. It was the control being taken from him that Erik liked, being stuck on it as well as being held and moved, whether he “liked” it or not. Charles wished once more that he could physically subdue Erik properly the way their natures longed for, but this would have to do, and perhaps it was enough.

The knot lasted longer this time, and by the time it started to go down, Erik was still swaying slightly in time with Charles’ rhythmic movements of Erik’s hips. He slipped off Charles’ cock, and stretched out alongside him, worn out. Charles trailed fingertips up and down his back. “Was that adequate, do you suppose?” he wondered aloud.

“In what sense?” Erik answered, drowsy.

“Well… adequate for you to become pregnant.”

“We’ll see, Charles.”

Charles hesitated before adding, “And adequate for you to enjoy it, of course.”

“Didn’t I look like I enjoyed it?” Erik said, voice muffled by the pillow. “I’m lucky I can speak.”

“It’s just that it wasn’t… I couldn’t,” Charles began, and trailed off.

Erik turned to look at him, the haziness gone from his eyes. “First of all, Charles, as you’re my first alpha I don’t have anyone to compare you to. Second of all, I am your mate. It’s a done deal. If you were inadequate in that regard, I would have left.” Charles felt a sudden stab of terror again—if he couldn’t impregnate Erik, Erik would leave him, surely—but Erik continued, voice sharper as if Charles had broadcast the thought. “Thirdly, if you are truly that bothered by being unable to mount me, then let’s do as Dr. MacTaggert suggested and work on positioning. Surely there’s something—a sling, an aide.”

“Could we?” Charles sighed. “Just to see. You don’t understand, I’m afraid—the urge to leave you completely wrecked and incoherent is... incredibly, unbelievably strong, and it seems I’ve failed in that so far.” He chuckled softly.

“Charles. For one, I’m not like other omegas. But you saw what you did to me just now, I know you did. I don’t think a mounting position will really add much of anything. If it does, so much the better.” He stretched. “So much depends on how you feel about things, as well, you know. If you need to try, we’ll try.”

“So you do think I’m inadequate.” Charles’ tone was teasing, but not really. Really good sex was really good sex, and the heavens above knew Charles was grateful, but none of this really hit the mark of what Charles thought of as an alpha truly subduing, fucking, and pleasing his omega. Tonight, with Erik in that hazy state, had come close, and that closeness just proved to Charles how much further there must be to go.

“No,” Erik stated flatly. “But you think you are. And that’s affecting us.”

Charles felt his face heat. He was ruining things, either through his lack of physical ability or his overthinking. Erik thought he was fine—why couldn’t he accept that?

“Now you’re thinking too loudly,” Erik said, interrupting Charles’ fretting. “Charles. You told me I smelled mated. You told me this was real. What will it take to make you believe it? Am I not enough for you? Am I too unusual for an omega?”

“Darling, you’re perfect for me.”

“Do you remember that night out when we saw… Sebastian?” Erik asked.

“Of course.”

“I know you picked up on my dislike of him,” Erik continued, “but you never really asked why.”

“I’m listening.”

“He…. Look in my mind, Charles.”

Charles swallowed, and put his fingers to Erik’s temple. He didn’t need to do that, but he felt like Erik needed the contact.

He closed his eyes, and was immersed in one of Erik’s memories.

Erik was young, barely twenty, perhaps as young as eighteen, seventeen. He was having his first very strong heat, and he was in an alley behind a bar, one he’d gone to because he wanted to get fucked.

He’d been just horny beforehand, but an alpha had taken an interest in him, and he’d been triggered into a more intense heat. He hadn’t even liked the alpha’s scent, hadn’t even been attracted to him, but he’d been triggered nonetheless, and Charles felt his confusion, his vulnerability and his increasing desperation—both to get fucked, and to get out of this situation.

The alpha, someone who’d been prowling around him on previous occasions, had cornered him in the dark alley, leaning in close, a growl in his throat as he said in that same oily voice Charles had heard earlier, “So. Erik. Looking to get fucked? You want me to take you, knot you, make you come on my cock?” and even as lust burned in Erik, panic did as well.

Erik tried to get out from between the man and the wall, but the man anticipated his movement and put out an arm, blocking his way. His hand found its way between Erik’s legs, groping him, startling a squeak out of him with his firm grip and probing fingers. Erik’s knees weakened for a moment, slumping him against the wall—the unwanted touch felt good. The alpha knew for sure now that he was wet.

“Erik,” he said in a low hiss, “let me slake your heat.” From his tone, it was clear Erik’s “letting” him do anything wasn’t really a factor—he was intending to take, period. Erik felt for the metal in the area, looking for something to hit him with, but something about this alpha was draining his powers—

Erik ducked under his arm, stumbled away, fist flying and making contact. Charles could feel his shame at not having fought hard enough or fast enough, at having let the alpha get him cornered and alone outside in the first place. Of letting him touch him like that. His shame and embarrassment at his omega nature making him so vulnerable. It wasn’t the last time he’d see this alpha, who he eventually knew to be called Sebastian, and it wasn’t the last time Sebastian would pursue him—and he was why Erik was so wary, so guarded. Yet he’d let those walls crumble for Charles….

Charles’ heart ached for him—and he was reminded of something else, something he’d himself wanted to forget.

Gently removing Charles’ fingers from his temple, Erik ended the contact. “So, Charles,” he said, “you see why I avoided alphas.”

“I do,” Charles said. He cleared his throat. “Let me tell you something as well, Erik.”

Chapter Text

Erik waited, holding a breath. For all he and Charles talked about philosophy, history, and so many other subjects, he still knew very little about how his mate had grown up, what being a young alpha had been like for him. For whatever reasons, Charles was reluctant to talk about it, otherwise he’d have freely mentioned it, and Erik felt awkward asking him. Now, perhaps, he’d be offered a clue. How unfortunate that the moment was brought about by Erik’s memories of Sebastian.

“There’s something I’ve been trying to forget, but which I should tell you about. My… my father died when I was young. My mother remarried, and my stepfather and stepbrother were both alphas. My adopted sister, Raven, was too.

“My mother was the only omega among us. My stepfather was not kind to her—sent her into a depression more often than not. She started drinking, started neglecting us. My father had been a good man—the contrast was shocking. I hadn’t ever seen the ugly side of alphas.

“When I saw Sebastian, that night—I was so, so angry with him for presuming he had any claim to your attention. I felt the anger coming off of him, too—it was so ugly. I felt my own anger, and I thought I wasn’t any better than Kurt, my stepfather, or Cain, my stepbrother. Kurt used to play us off each other. He largely ignored Raven, because she was a girl, even if she was an alpha. He didn’t see her as a threat. But he put Cain and I up against each other, made us compete—nothing Cain did was ever good enough for him, although Kurt only pretended to favor me to get him upset. Cain came to hate me—he’d try to fight me at any opportunity, but he was older and bigger so I usually got hurt. One day, though, I really fought back, really let him have it.”

Charles paused then, and swallowed, face looking red. He looked away from Erik, seemingly embarrassed.

“Go on,” Erik prodded, gentle but firm, sensing Charles needed to get this all out.

“I don’t want you to think of me as some sort of animal.”

“Never,” Erik said.

“I clocked him, as they say. He fell to the ground, I got on him and kept punching him until my stepfather dragged me off him. Then I turned on my stepfather.” Charles laughed, wry. “I was so enraged I saw red. I couldn’t have stopped myself if I wanted to—and I didn’t want to. I wanted them to bleed. I wore myself out, really. Afterward, that terrified me, that I had that potential within me. They left me alone more after that day, though not entirely.” Charles sighed, with some weight to it, as though he’d unburdened himself but still felt the anger and grief of that time. “But I never quite forgot how it felt—seeing red, the satisfaction of my fists making contact over and over again. I knew I could never put myself in that position again. I hated them for bringing me to that point.”

“Where are they now?” Erik growled. “I’ll tear them apart.”

Charles chuckled softly. “I’m touched, darling, but they’re both dead. My mother as well. It’s Raven and me now, and we don’t talk nearly as often as we should. Obviously.” He sighed, fondly amused, and a little sad, and cupped Erik’s cheek. “There’s no one to fight for my honor, I’m afraid.”

“You’re not like them, Charles, you have to know that.” Erik’s voice was firm. “You’re not like Kurt, or Cain, or Sebastian.”

“I’m angry. I’m possessive. I’m ruled by my instincts.”

“You’re not cruel. You’re an alpha.”

Charles laughed shortly. “Are they not the same thing?”

“No! Charles, Sebastian was cruel, your stepfamily was cruel, because they were abusive. Look at Raven—Raven’s not like that. And neither are you.”

“Raven has her moments, believe me.”

“Maybe that’s her reaction to the abuse! Not necessarily something she does because she’s an alpha.”

“Well, being an alpha certainly doesn’t help. For her or for me.”

“Maybe not. But Charles, they were goading you. Anyone would respond to that. It wasn’t your fault.”

“We’re all responsible for our own actions—”

“Charles, you were a child.”

“An alpha child.”

“Yes, all right. You’re an alpha. But it was abuse, Charles.”

“No one called it abuse before,” Charles murmured half to himself, into Erik’s hair.

“Hmm?”

“What my childhood was like. No one ever labeled it as abuse.”

Erik sat up. “Well, it was,” he said firmly. “Classic abuse.”

“Thank you for naming it for me. I suppose part of me just took it as somewhat normal, at least in part because I thought that was how things were for alphas, just how we are. You know how you get things in your head when you’re very young….”

“But you’re telepathic, Charles. Did you never overhear how other people felt?”

Charles shrugged. “When it’s your day-in, day-out life, it doesn’t matter so much what you overhear from others. And you have to admit, there’s a great deal of normalizing of alpha aggression in the world at large.”

“I wish your family had been more like mine,” Erik told him, shifting to press a kiss to his shoulder. “My mother would have liked you a great deal.”

“How do you know?” Charles asked with a smile, gently teasing, as well as truly curious.

“I inherited my good taste from her,” Erik said. Charles got a delighted look on his face and opened his mouth, but Erik continued before he could speak. “Do you remember your biological father much at all?”

“Oh, quite a bit, yes.”

“And? He was an alpha, was he not?”

“He was.”

“You said he was a good man.”

“He was a scientist. Very intelligent, loving man. A bit obsessive. Well, dedicated.”

“You see?” Erik said. “You’re fine.”

“I suppose I thought, too,” Charles added, “somewhere at the back of my mind, that because we were rich, because I lived in a mansion, I didn’t have it that bad.”

“Material security isn’t everything, Charles,” Erik said. “We were relatively poor. But my parents loved each other, and me. My father was an alpha, and he too was a good man.”

“But you avoided alphas for years.”

“Largely because of Sebastian, and others like him. Hardly unique cases.”

The humor of Erik trying to persuade Charles that it was all right to be an alpha was not lost on him. But he had something more serious to add. He cleared his throat. “And you’re my alpha,” he added, and swallowed.

“Mm?” Charles paused, and looked at him, a brow raised as he waited for Erik to continue.

“You know, Charles, Sebastian thought he wanted me. He thought he could claim me. But I knew—even if he didn’t—somehow, that I wasn’t really what he wanted. I could never be. He wanted someone he could break, someone he could force to submit to him. Someone who’d put up a fight, yes, but no one stronger than him. I’d never be the submissive breeding machine he wanted.”

“No, I can’t quite imagine that,” Charles agreed with a soft chuckle.

“No. And I assumed all alphas were probably like that. I avoided them for years. I fell in love with Magda; she had babies. I thought that might be it, I thought I might just be different forever—until I started wanting an alpha again. And I was scared, Charles, I was. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was frightened by that old urge rearing its head once more. But I found you.” Erik cupped Charles’ face in his hands, and kissed him. “I found a partner.”

“Erik,” Charles whispered. “I don’t know what to say.” His eyes were brimming with tears.

“It’s fine. You’re exhausted, Charles. So am I,” Erik said, fond. “Let’s sleep. You’ll need your rest if I’m going to start the fertility boosters soon.”

“Oh, good Lord. You’re right, I suppose.” Charles settled in again with a sigh, but at least now there was a contentment flowing from him, and not that tight distress from before. It meant a lot to Erik, he realized, that he was able to give him that contentment. He’d never have thought, months ago, that he’d feel this way about any alpha.

-------

Charles had to admit that the idea of putting Erik on fertility boosters, which would intensify his heats and make him even more eager for Charles to fuck him, was one of the more appealing options for them to try. He was, after all, still greedy for Erik to want him, to need him, as selfish as that made him feel. The thought of achieving it artificially bothered him somewhat, however. But after all, if his sperm was normal, and the increase in SurelyKnot wasn’t doing the trick, perhaps the issue was with Erik. Rather than test him just yet, something that might involve minor surgery, they ought to simply see if they could make him more receptive. It was sure, Charles thought, to be interesting.

Even so, he felt some trepidation. Although he was loath to admit it, he was sometimes exhausted by Erik’s intensity. He couldn’t deny the fact that he tired more easily now and his overall stamina wasn’t what it once was; he was also more likely to injure himself, or at least strain himself, leading to a need for more time for rest and recovery. He worried, in the back of his mind, about Erik not just getting impatient with not being able to be mounted, but with Charles’ lack of vigor in general. It was easy to imagine a fed-up Erik leaving him for a more powerful, more capable alpha, no matter what reassurances Erik might give him. As weary as he was of such thoughts, they were ever-present. He knew how impulsive Erik could be.

Charles had a physician he saw for regular checkups who was familiar with his injury and who monitored him for anything he might need to pay attention to, and Charles had largely downplayed his taking of a mate and his efforts to impregnate said mate. He wasn’t sure why, exactly; perhaps setting it up as a major milestone and goal drew too much attention to it, set him up for failure. But now, with their plans for Erik to start taking the booster, he had to go ahead and admit he had concerns about his ability to keep up, and acknowledge that even if he did go back to physical therapy, there were no guarantees.

Pace yourself, the doctor had said, and don’t be afraid to take breaks. As Erik had told him, the doctor too reminded him that they both needed to be healthy for this to work. Erik would, the doctor assured him, understand his need to take things easy. But privately, Charles wasn’t so sure.

Charles was not entirely prepared to be awakened the morning after Erik had started taking his boosters by Erik trying to take his shirt off. Immediately, his senses were flooded by Erik’s pheromones, so intense it was like a slap to the face. He gasped.

“Erik—”

There was a buzzing coming from somewhere—ah, Erik had pulled down his pajama trousers and was applying the vibrator to his cock. Although he’d thought they should use it more often, it had fallen by the wayside, perhaps because Erik still felt some residual jealousy toward it. That seemed to all be bygones as, with an almost frightening look of determination, a naked Erik held it to him.

“Erik,” he tried again, “can’t I at least have some tea first—”

“I need your cock, Charles,” Erik gritted out, practically growling. He was breathing hard, and his skin looked red—Charles reached out and found it hot to the touch, unsurprisingly.

“I wouldn’t dream of denying it to you,” Charles said, “but for pity’s sake—”

The combination of Erik’s pheromones, his hand around Charles’ cock, and the vibrator were, however, already having an effect, even if Charles hadn’t had any Viagra yet. Before Charles could quite fully register it, Erik was sinking down on his cock, the vibrator tossed aside. Erik groaned, tilting his head back. Rendered mute, Charles just stared at his mate.

Erik rode him with a force that shook the bed. Charles came, but without SurelyKnot, there was no knotting this time. Erik snarled with impatience once he realized; raising a brow, Charles pressed a hand to Erik’s chest.

“If you’ll just give me my pills and wait for them to kick in—honestly, Erik,” Charles sputtered as Erik slid off of him and hastily grabbed the bottles, tossing them to Charles, who scrambled to clumsily sit up and take them, the water in his glass nearly spilling. Erik was still straddling him, growling low in his throat, shifting restlessly; as soon as Charles set the bottles and glass back on his nightstand, he gripped Erik’s hip with one hand and slid two fingers of the other into his slick, swollen hole, drawing a primal groan from Erik, who stilled immediately, closing his eyes. He wasn’t still for long, however; arching his back, he began to move his hips.

Straight up until the medication kicked in, he rode Charles’ fingers; insatiable wasn’t the word. Once Charles was hard, he rode his cock, nearly making both of them out of breath; his inner muscles, so tight Charles could somewhat feel the pressure, worked him and milked him practically dry, it seemed, and gripped his knot. Erik couldn’t keep still, couldn’t keep himself from making desperate sounds low in his throat.

By the time the second(!) round was over, Charles was beginning to worry he was already exhausted, and he hadn’t even had his tea yet.

Erik, however, despite the come coating his abdomen, hands, and thighs—a mix of Charles’ and his own, as well as his own lubrication—seemed to have not found much in the way of relief, even though he’d come several times and honestly had as much of Charles’ semen inside him as was possible just now.

As Erik shifted impatiently on his softening cock, Charles ran soothing hands over him. “Darling,” he managed, “Erik, I need a break, sweetheart. Please.”

There was a flicker of understanding in Erik’s glassy eyes, followed by a flash of guilt. He nodded, looking contrite, but still flushed and impatient.

Charles patted his thigh. “And have a shower while I get ready, will you,” he said.

Erik grumbled mightily, but he did it. Since he’d taken over the guest bathroom, Charles had his adapted master suite all to himself. However, once he was finished with his lengthy ablutions, he was definitely exhausted, and returned to their bed, which was soaked with Erik’s pheromones. Erik himself was clean and naked and still hot and impatient.

“I won’t take any more pills today, Erik,” Charles told him, “it’s not advised. We’ve already gone twice and you’ve worn me out.” The pheromones were so overwhelming it was a wonder he was able to say anything, honestly. And still, he felt that fear that Erik would get tired of him being so, well, tired.

Erik looked murderous, and opened his mouth to speak—to shout, most likely.

“But hang on, darling, there is something that might help you,” Charles said, with a beckoning gesture.

“Fingers again?” Erik muttered, but moved to straddle Charles anyway. Charles directed him to face away.

“You love it, don’t complain,” Charles told him, working his thumb inside Erik’s already slick hole. “But that wasn’t what I meant. Move back, love.” Removing his thumb, he slid two fingers in as Erik moved back, then after a bit of probing with them held Erik’s hips in his hands and guided him to sit properly on his face.

He was immediately surprised to realize they’d never done this before. Erik’s taste here was so intense, even moreso now with the boosters. I should do this to you more often, he sent him, working his tongue in as far as he could, met with only a groan from Erik, who was trembling slightly. It was no knot, and no semen was involved, but it was something, at least.

They did that until Charles’ tongue was exhausted and half his face was soaked. Then, with Charles refusing to take more medication until it was time, Charles fingered Erik some more. He was wildly frustrated, the smell of Charles’ pheromones, spurred on by his own, getting him more worked up with the boosters until his peaks were unable to relieve him fully.

Even a metal dildo, formed into a knot, didn’t sate him (plus there was the matter of it not involving any semen, which Erik was more and more fixated on), and Charles was subjected to a seemingly endless string of complaints.

“I don’t like these,” Erik fumed, glaring at the bottle of boosters.

“Neither do I,” Charles agreed, relieved. Erik was hot-tempered and horny enough as it was. “I think it’s just a matter of time, darling. Be patient. We’ll try something else, soon, if we need to.”

“I don’t want to be patient. I want to be pregnant.”

“I know, love,” Charles said tiredly. “Get me a wet flannel, will you?” Knowing he’d gone more quiet and subdued, Charles wiped himself off, then sank back into the bed with a sigh. He was wrung out. Erik, still pouting, nestled in against him. They fell asleep.

When they woke up several hours later, Charles was still rather worn out, starting to be hungry, and still in need of tea.

“Love, I’m sorry,” he told Erik, “but I’m tired out much more easily than I once was.”

“It’s all right, Charles,” Erik said after a moment, kissing his shoulder. “I… should apologize. I should have realized the boosters would make me too much for you to deal with.”

“It’s fine,” Charles said. “I should have been prepared. Anyway, we tried it. Check another thing off the list. But darling, if we’re going to accomplish this you do need to be patient with me.”

“We’ll try our best.”

“If you….” Charles swallowed. “If you get tired of waiting, you can—”

“Charles,” Erik admonished. “Remember what I told you. You’re my partner.”

“You said you didn’t want to be patient,” Charles reminded him.

“It was the medication. It’s leaving my system and I don’t plan on taking it again. Charles, it’s fine.”

“Our entire relationship is built on the assumption—no, the expectation—that I as an alpha will impregnate you, an omega.”

“Do you really think that’s all I want from you?”

“Yes?” Charles answered, exasperated. “It’s all you’ve really indicated.” There were no declarations of love from either of them, no formal commitments other than—

“We’re bonded mates. We live together.”

“For the express purpose of having babies. If I can’t give them to you—Erik, I know that’s not what you want.”

“It is what I want, but Charles, I’d manage without it. You’re fixating, you’re obsessing.”

Charles licked his dry lips. “I…. I don’t want you to settle, Erik.”

“I wouldn’t be settling. I see you as more than an alpha, Charles. I hope you see me as more than an omega.”

“Of course I do!”

“Then trust me. I can’t keep having this discussion, Charles.”

His heart sank again. “It’s not a matter of trust! Your body, your nature, wants you to get pregnant. I can try my best but—”

“Charles! I love you, not your alphaness.”

Charles stared. “You wh— You lo—”

“Yes. Whether you get me pregnant or not.”

“I—” Charles blinked. “I’m sorry, you’d just never said—”

“I’m saying it now,” Erik told him, firm. “It’s all right if you don’t love me, Charles. I may not have been exactly what you envisioned as a mate—”

“I do! I do,” Charles said. “I do. Love you. Erik. I do. Erik, I’ve told you, you’re perfect. Perfect for me.” He was babbling, gobsmacked that they hadn’t realized, hadn’t spoken it until now. And he was psychic, no less.

“Charles,” Erik said, smiling. “I’ll go get us something to eat. And your tea.”

“Oh, I do love you,” Charles said fervently, and Erik just laughed.

Chapter Text

Fresh off their mutual admission of love, Charles found he had levels of possessiveness heretofore unknown to feel toward his mate, which was really saying something. Now not only were they a relatively newly mated pair, swimming in hormones and pheromones, they were also in love, and Charles never wanted Erik to leave his side. Really, it was absurd.

He was also inspired to start going to physical therapy again. However, his desire to not leave Erik alone was too strong, and it would be easier for him anyway to have the therapist come to him, so that was what he arranged. He and Erik had agreed that Erik wouldn’t take any more fertility boosters, as interesting as that experience had been, but it would be good for him to get in better physical condition anyway.

He started feeling better almost right away, with the therapist’s visits. Physical exertion had always improved his mood; it was easy to forget that, when circumstances meant activity was difficult, and sex alone, while athletic enough, certainly, didn’t exactly count as the same thing. As his mood and overall feeling improved, his libido did as well. It hadn’t been shabby lately, given his mate was flooding pheromones into their environment, but he found it even more difficult to keep his hands off Erik. Erik, meanwhile, couldn’t get enough of it. He really had been quite touch-starved, with the way he’d closed himself off out of a self-preservation and self-protection instinct, but deep down he craved it and loved it. As they talked in bed, Charles just… petted him, essentially, running his fingers and palms over Erik’s skin. Depending on his mood and the time of day or night, it would either soothe him to sleep or incite him to wanting to fuck.

The fucking was now even more intense, with Charles feeling more vigorous and still marveling at the fact that Erik loved him. His possessive urges were so strong that he was rougher with Erik, marking him, making him feel it inside, digging his fingers in. God, how he wanted to achieve that ultimate feeling of dominance, of alphaness, of mounting Erik and making him submit completely to him, his mate…. To finally show proof of his virility, his alpha nature, by impregnating him. He wanted all that so badly it burned.

“Erik,” he started one evening, thankfully at a time when neither of them were especially worked up despite being naked in bed, “do you remember our talk about getting some sort of device that would allow me to… mount you?”

Erik raised a brow and looked at him very seriously. “I do.”

Charles cleared his throat. “Well, with the therapy, I’m feeling stronger, and… I’d like to try it. Can we… rig up some sort of appliance, or something?”

Erik sighed. “I don’t think it’s necessary, but clearly you do.”

“You’re not pregnant yet,” Charles pointed out.

“Mounting me like that might not make that happen.”

“I know, but I’d like to try. I’d like to try everything we can.”

“Talking about it is getting me wet,” Erik informed him, sounding grumpy about it, but moving to straddle Charles, who worked his fingers inside Erik right away.

“Mm, yes it is,” Charles said, talk about the mounting contraption forgotten for now. “It might be getting me hard as well.”

It in fact did, and Charles managed to set aside his obsessing for the time being. Erik rode his knot once more (albeit briefly, as he hadn’t taken his SurelyKnot), Charles’ hands on him, pulling him to lie down on him as he slipped off Charles’ softened cock at the end. Charles’ arms wrapped around his sweat-slick, lean body. “I love you,” he whispered next to Erik’s temple. “Whatever happens.”

-------

Erik had to admit he soaked up every moment of Charles’ increased attention. He’d loved Magda and she’d loved him, but that hadn’t had the whole alpha-omega factor, which intensified everything to an extraordinary degree. It was good, too, to feel that they were no longer in a relationship consisting entirely of compatible hormones. It was a true bond now in every way, save something like a formal bond of marriage, which Erik wasn’t sure they needed or that he wanted.

And of course, save something like a child.

It was silly, he knew, to think of a child as proof of anything. His children with Magda didn’t mean their relationship became any more or less real, and their existence certainly hadn’t meant they’d stayed together. But there was something about being a bonded omega in love with his alpha that made him even more determined to bear his child. It was an irrational feeling, but Erik was somewhat used to having feelings that were at least a bit irrational.

But he knew Charles had to feel that way as well, only from the other end. He’d started being rougher with Erik, in part because he was being regularly worked out by a physical therapist, and was feeling more comfortable in his circumstances again. Always rather a confident man, he was even more so now, and knowing Erik loved him freed him somewhat, it seemed, to be even more possessive and proprietary. Charles never wanted him gone for long, and was intensely physical with him, squeezing him, smacking him lightly, grabbing him and stroking his hands over him. Marking him. What Erik liked best was Charles being grabby with his cock, wanking him off and making him groan and quiver, making him feel helpless and as though he had no choice but to give in to the pleasure Charles wanted to make him experience. He loved it in ways he didn’t quite understand. Charles had once or twice expressed some amount of guilt afterward for acting on these urges, because he never asked beforehand and they were quite intense, but Erik had immediately told him he didn’t mind.

But of course what really satisfied his omega needs was the fucking. Charles took his Viagra and SurelyKnot at about the same rates as before, but his increased strength and bloodflow meant he achieved an erection and a knot on his own at a slightly higher rate than before. Since they knew his sperm was normal and he had a reasonable amount, it was fair to assume it was just a matter of time before he got pregnant this way, awash in pheromones and hormones. But Charles really wanted to try that mounting thing, although Erik was dubious about whether it was necessary or even a good idea.

One morning, Charles took his Viagra and SurelyKnot as he planned to between them the night before, and woke Erik up with kisses and caresses, murmuring in his ear until Erik felt himself go hot all over and slick. Charles wasn’t fully hard yet, and as Erik loved to do he slipped him inside and felt him get harder inside him, as Erik rocked up and down on him until he was almost unbearably aroused. Charles might not be able to feel what was happening to his cock for himself, but he could feel how it was for Erik.

“I’m going to do it today, Charles,” Erik whispered, almost mindless, head thrown back.

“What, darling?” Charles panted, hands tight on his hips.

Erik let his eyes close. “I’m going to build that contraption for you, so you can mount me,” he replied, feeling and sounding dazed, like he always did when Charles fucked him. God, every time. Even the relatively lackluster times transported him. “Charles,” he gasped, surprised into opening his eyes again by the way Charles’ hands dug even more firmly into his hips, moving him up and down on Charles’ cock as if Erik were a plaything.

“God, Erik,” Charles gasped, eyes hot and bright, skin flushed. “God, I want that. I want it so much.” Erik was definitely going to bruise—again—from Charles’ vigor, not that he minded at all.

The sounds Charles made were almost sobs as Erik ran his hands up and down Charles’ chest the way he liked, and as Erik rode his cock with Charles’ movements of his hips. Erik moved one hand to his own aching cock, only to have Charles wrest it away and replace it with his own as Erik slammed his hips down, up, down again. To his surprise, Charles ejaculated first—Erik could feel that it was a lot, flooding his insides as he eagerly took it in—and then came in bright, hard shimmers of pleasure that echoed in both their minds. Erik came in a few hard wanks of Charles’ fist around his almost sore cock.

Trembling and sweating, they blinked at each other.

“I will build that today,” Erik added, unnecessarily, babbling somewhat.

Charles laughed, breathless. “Please do, my love.” And Erik collapsed on him, Charles’ arms wrapping around him as usual, sticky and sweaty. He raised up for a kiss, which turned into a longer, lingering makeout session that lasted until Charles had to get ready for the arrival of the physical therapist and Erik finally had to shower.

Erik had already gathered what he’d need to create the mounting device, unbeknownst to Charles, based on the research he’d done. It seemed important to Charles, after all. He was fully confident that he could construct it. In fact, he felt it would be easy. It was just a matter of suspending a padded harness above the bed, with various pulleys and slings holding Charles in place. The harness could be easily removed and stored when they weren’t using it, with the apparatus attaching to the ceiling beams kept in place. Once Charles’ therapist arrived, Erik got out his tools and set to work in the bedroom.

Let me see how it’s going, Charles asked at one point.

You’re supposed to be doing your PT, Erik scolded gently, but he allowed Charles to see the setup through his eyes. It’s nearly done.

Yes, I see, Charles replied, sounding excited. I can’t wait to try it out.

Finish your therapy, Erik told him.

Yes, love. Charles laughed, and withdrew his mind from Erik’s.

Once his session was over, Charles immediately wheeled his way back to the bedroom, looking flushed and eager, and rolled straight to his pills on the bedside nightstand as he looked over the harness and ceiling attachments. “Are you sure it’ll hold me?” he asked.

“It holds me,” Erik told him, slightly affronted at the idea that Charles thought Erik would do anything unsafe or half-assed where Charles was concerned. “Are you sure you’re up for sex? PT often tires you out.”

Charles was in the middle of swallowing his pills already. “All we can do is find out,” he replied. “If I’m not, just let me down.” He began to strip off his PT clothes. Erik had to admit the smell of his fresh sweat was getting his skin hot and making him wet. Well, they’d see how this went.

It was a matter of some awkwardness getting Charles in the harness/sling, as Erik had thought it might be. But Charles was determined to soldier on, and by the time his pills had kicked in, although he was a bit tired out, he was still insisting he was ready to go. “Just let me catch my breath,” he said, as Erik began stripping off. He stared. “That’s not helping me catch my breath,” he accused, and Erik laughed.

With Charles strapped in, as it were, Erik, now naked, got onto the bed in front of him on his hands and knees. It had been a while since he’d been in this position, and with a shock he felt all over again its innate appeal. And now he had an alpha, his alpha, ready to fuck him and knot him like this.

Charles grabbed at him and pulled himself forward, behind Erik, cock nudging against him. “This is strange,” he panted. “Bit of a learning curve.” He laughed. “Although perhaps it’s like riding a bike after all. Riding a bike when I can’t feel my legs,” he added, as Erik felt the tip of his cock against him, and then felt it press in. Charles’ hands went to his hips, pulling him back until he was fully seated. “Ahh,” he sighed, and after a moment of practice managed to sway enough to allow himself to thrust a bit, using his hold on Erik’s hips as leverage. It was slow and steady at first, but after a time, Erik got the sense Charles was getting frustrated. He wished Charles would project a bit so he would know what he was feeling.

“Pull me back against you,” Erik told him.

“I’d like to get us closer to the headboard,” Charles said, and with some adjusting of the pulleys they moved forward, so that Erik was able to brace himself against the headboard. “That’s a bit better, I think,” Charles said, voice sounding a bit strained, as he returned to thrusting, with a bit more steadiness and vigor this time. “God, it’s really not as easy as it used to be,” he added a few minutes later, startling Erik out of a sort of trance he hadn’t realized he’d fallen into. “It’s mostly moving you back onto my cock,” he mused.

“Nothing wrong with that,” Erik observed.

“Yes, but it’s not quite the same, is it?”

Erik shrugged. “I’m fine with it. It’s you. Keep going as long as you like,” he said.

“All right,” Charles said, and proceeded to go faster, until Erik could hear him panting. “It’s nice to get this view of you, I must say,” he teased, breathless.

“I’m sure it is.” Erik stifled a laugh.

“I’m getting worn out, I’m afraid,” Charles observed a few moments later. “I’ll try to rally and finish us off. Be a dear and wank yourself off, will you? I think I’ll need both my hands to stay steady.”

Drawing on reserves of strength and energy no doubt fueled in part by sheer determination, Charles fucked him faster and harder, finally seeming to get used to this new rhythm, and as Erik came in his own hand Charles fed off of that and came himself, and ejaculated as well. Then came his knot, and Erik was perfectly content to stay on his hands and knees, head pressed against the headboard, Charles’ hands tight on his hips and his knot snugly wedged inside Erik where it belonged. He was so content, post-orgasm and knotted, that he drifted off to sleep.

“Erik!” He woke to Charles shaking him. When he spoke again, his voice sounded tight. “Help me out of this damned thing.”

Erik disengaged from Charles’ cock and turned to help him out of the harness. He looked drawn, pale and disappointed, he realized. “What’s wrong, Charles? I didn’t want you to exhaust yourself.”

“Well, I did,” Charles said, short. “I barely got the hang of this—something I used to do with near record-breaking frequency—and I exhausted myself, and I put you to sleep.”

Erik helped Charles lower himself down onto the bed and arrange himself on his back, from which vantage point he blinked up at Erik—his eyes were wet, Erik realized with a shock. He was upset. “Charles. It’s not like that at all. I wasn’t bored, I was so…. I felt so good I went right off to sleep. It’s a good thing. It happens sometimes.”

“I wasn’t trying to put you to sleep,” Charles muttered, half to himself, seemingly not understanding or listening to what Erik was telling him.

“It’s fine, Charles,” Erik protested.

“I didn’t want ‘fine,’ I don’t want ‘fine’,” Charles hissed. “This was the only hope I had of really mounting you, really mating you, really making you submit to me.”

“You do that to me already, Charles! You do it many times over,” Erik said, voice raised now. “I didn’t need this, I told you I didn’t, but I knew you wanted to try it!”

“I failed!” Charles said, loudly. “I failed. I’m a failed alpha. I can’t even impregnate my mate. I can’t even mount my mate properly.”

“Charles!” Erik shouted, frustration boiling over. His shout was cut off as soon as it left his throat. He was suddenly so angry with Charles for being stuck on this, for refusing to enjoy their situation for the unique, precious thing that it was, that he abruptly leapt up from the bed and stalked over to where he’d piled his clothes, and began hastily pulling them on. Charles said nothing, but Erik could feel him watching.

Erik went to the closet and took out a small duffel bag, and began pulling the clothes he’d need from the shelves and hangers. When he stepped out (it was, of course, a walk-in), Charles was staring at him, ashen. “Erik. What are you doing?” he asked, and swallowed, and licked his lips.

“I’m staying with Raven,” Erik decided aloud, not adding “tonight” because he didn’t know how long he’d be staying with her, assuming she even allowed it.

“Raven?! Erik! Come back here,” Charles called after him as he made his way to the bathroom he used to pick up some things there. He was in a calm beyond fury, simply wanting to leave, to get out of here and clear his head. Away from his mate, if it came to that. For however long he needed to be. He returned to the bedroom.

“Goodbye, Charles,” he said, as Charles scrambled to transfer himself to his chair, nearly falling out of bed in the process, although of course Erik wouldn’t have let that happen.

Still naked, Charles looked furious now, red, so upset he couldn’t speak. “Erik! Stop!” he finally managed as Erik turned to walk out of the bedroom. He could have stopped Erik with his power, but he made no move to do so.

“I’ll be in touch,” Erik called over his shoulder as he left, ignoring the incredibly strong pull he felt to go back, to wrap himself up in his mate’s arms, to sleep in their bed, surrounded by their mingled scents.

Outside, still in a strange calm, he texted Raven.

Chapter Text

Raven called him almost immediately. “Whatever’s going on with you and Charles—I don’t want to know right now,” she began. “I’m on vacation now and we’ll talk when I’m there in a few days. There’s a spare key taped to the underside of the doormat. You can sleep on the couch,” she concluded, short, sounding like she was gritting her teeth.

“Thank you, Raven.”

She ended the call.

Erik took his things back to his old building. He still felt rather calm—no, numb was the right word now. He hadn’t expected to come back here, not at all. He’d expected to be living happily with his mate. And even back here he didn’t have access to his old place.

He didn’t want to think right now about whether his relationship with Charles was over for good. Whether he’d be faced with the pain of a permanently broken bond just after he’d found it.

He made himself a sandwich in Raven’s kitchen and watched TV listlessly for a few hours until it was dark, and then got a blanket from Raven’s hall closet and settled down to sleep, which didn’t come easily at all. Something in the sandwich was upsetting his stomach, for one. Raven no doubt had expired food; she was never particularly organized, and wasn’t always home. He should have checked. He felt very tired as well, making it all the more frustrating that he couldn’t sleep. He was definitely going to need some coffee, and he was getting a headache.

Charles hadn’t texted him, he saw when he woke up. Stumbling to the bathroom, he splashed water on his face, made coffee, and then took a shower, all of which made him feel slightly better. At least until he remembered Charles hadn’t texted him. Well, he certainly wasn’t going to text Charles.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs, although the smell bothered him. He ate them anyway.

When he heard the sound of a text arriving, he jumped up, but it was just Raven saying she’d be there the next evening.

He watched TV for most of the rest of the day, then went to a Chinese restaurant he’d gone to a time or two before that evening. They didn’t recognize him here and wouldn’t ask why he was back, why he was by himself, or any other nosy questions, like they might at some of the other places around here. He ate a good amount of chicken-fried rice, then headed back to Raven’s. More TV, and then bed. He slept slightly better this time, probably because his sleep deficit was too great not to.

Charles still hadn’t texted.

Erik slept in that morning, but was still feeling groggy even after the coffee. His back hurt. The couch wasn’t very comfortable, but it was what it was. More scrambled eggs, the same Chinese place for lunch; he didn’t have much of an appetite, but he had to eat. This little routine was fairly bleak by now, and Erik didn’t want to face multiple days of this, but might have to.

Raven arrived that afternoon; Erik felt the lock tumblers moving, and sat up, hoping he didn’t look like he felt.

Raven gave him a once over. “You look terrible.” She sniffed the air, making a face as if she smelled something strong, and went still and alert. “Why are you here if you’re pregnant?”

Erik stared at her for a long time. “That’s…. You’re just smelling the scrambled eggs,” he finally said.

Raven shook her head and set down her bags. “No, you’re definitely pregnant. Nothing to do with scrambled eggs, but thanks for not using an air freshener, I guess. Why are you here? What happened to Charles?” She looked alarmed now.

“Nothing, nothing’s happened to Charles— I mean, not that I know of, I haven’t heard from him in a few days—”

“You’re pregnant and you’ve stopped speaking to your mate?” Raven folded her arms, eyes narrowed. “What happened?”

“We—” Giving up even attempting to explain, as he didn’t want to talk to Raven about the entire mounting thing, Erik shook his head, hoping to clear it, and went to the more immediately important topic right now. “I’m pregnant?”

“You didn’t know?” Raven looked at him a long time. “How could you not know?”

“I…. I thought I just… felt bad.”

“You reek of it,” she informed him. “I thought you would be able to tell from just that.”

Erik shrugged helplessly.

“Does Charles know?”

“No,” Erik told her.

“I wouldn’t think so. I doubt he’d let you out of his sight if he did,” she gritted out. “Well, I’m calling him or you are.” She put her hands on her hips, and cocked a brow.

“I’ll…. I’ll call him.” Erik walked over to his phone, and dialed. Charles picked up on the first ring.

“Erik?” Charles said, sounding frantic and worried. Erik felt a stab of guilt. “Are you all right?” He’d been expecting Charles to be angry. Well, if he was so worried, why hadn’t he called?

“I’m… I’m fine,” Erik told him. “I….” He looked at Raven. “I’m coming home now, Charles.”

“Oh, Erik,” Charles said. And that was all. Erik packed his things and thanked Raven.

He opened the front door to find Charles sitting in the living room in his chair, face drawn, wide-eyed as though he’d been brought to alertness as soon as he’d sensed Erik’s arrival. Erik closed the door, silent, and put down his bags. The scent must have hit Charles then because he gasped.

“You’re pregnant. Erik! God, come here at once.”

“Oh, don’t go all protective alpha on me,” Erik began, aware his heart was pounding as he reeled inwardly. He stared now at Charles, who was reaching for his hands, and instead stood there. Everything fell into place, finally, then. They’d have Moira check, of course, but he knew. “I’m pregnant,” he said.

Charles, despite looking panicked as well as disbelieving and thrilled, smothered a laugh. “That’s what I said. Come here, come here. Get on my lap. No, no, don’t,” he said, as Erik stopped short, “get on the couch, I’ll—”

Erik sat down. Charles rolled himself over and moved to sit next to him, and held Erik’s face in his hands, smiling. He kissed him. His eyes were brimming, and Erik was aware of a swelling of awe and pleasure and delight around them, filling the room—Charles’.

“You’re not angry with me?” Erik asked, hesitant.

Charles chuckled. “I’m not angry with you. I’m furious.” Sniffling, he placed his palm over Erik’s stomach, touch light, almost hesitant.

“I very much doubt there’s anything to feel yet, Charles.” Erik’s mouth felt dry, his voice sounding thin to himself.

“There’s not, I just—it’s there.”

Erik looked down at his hand. “Yes, it is. You put it there yourself.”

Charles blinked rapidly, and bit his lip, smiling. He shook his head, and was quiet for a while before saying, “I’m sorry, it’s just…. I never thought I’d have this. Any of this.”

“Why on Earth not?” Erik asked, affronted.

“I—”

“You’re wonderful,” Erik said, vehement, putting his hand over Charles’. “There’s nothing you shouldn’t have, if you want it.”

Charles was silent for a time, and eventually drew his hand back, slipping it free from under Erik’s. “Did you know you were pregnant?” Charles asked, his tone having changed. “When you… left?”

“Of course not.”

“You didn’t remember, from when Magda was pregnant?”

Erik shrugged, feeling his neck turn red. Between Raven and Charles, they were making him feel like a raving idiot. “She knew before I did, so it never occurred to me that her smell was a signal of anything. Besides, I’m not an alpha. I just… didn’t realize. If I’d known, I wouldn’t have left.” It was true, something in him found it inherently discordant and wrong to be away from his mate, now that he knew. That must have been part of why he’d felt so out of sorts at Raven’s. But in hindsight, the discomfort he’d had with the food should have been a sign. Yet he’d chalked it up to stress.

Charles nodded, looking relieved. Then, Erik watched some of the joy leave his face. Charles cleared his throat. “Why… why did you leave?” he asked.

Erik sighed. “Do we have to talk about this now—”

“Yes. I want to know.”

“I was tired of you yet again beating yourself up when I’d told you yet again that everything was fine, that you were fine,” Erik told him. “And now look. I’m right. Things were fine.”

“Yes, well.” Charles drew himself up a bit. “We didn’t know that, did we?” Then he sighed, deflating. “I missed you so much, Erik.”

“Why didn’t you text me? Call me?”

“I didn’t think you’d listen. Erik, please. Don’t leave me like that again. It nearly broke my heart.” His eyes shining with tears, he stroked his fingertips over Erik’s jaw. Erik, nodded, mute, and leaned in to kiss him, a gentle touch of lips and nothing more.

“We’re having a baby, Charles,” he whispered as he drew back.

“We are,” Charles whispered back, voice thick with emotion.

-------

Moira returned to their exam room smiling. “Yes,” she confirmed, and Charles put his hands over his face for a moment. “Congratulations.”

“I can’t believe it,” Charles whispered.

“Well, I thought it might just be a matter of time,” Moira told him, matter of fact. “It didn’t seem like an impossibility for either of you. You just needed to try some things to see what stuck, if you will.”

Charles smiled at Erik, who was sitting on the exam table and looking a bit peaked. He gave Charles a small smile in return. “It seems I worried a bit too much,” Charles told Moira, still looking at Erik.

“The time for worrying isn’t over yet, Charles,” she said. “Erik’s older than many omegas are for their first births, and he is somewhat narrow in frame, and slight. You’ll have to make sure he eats.” She addressed Erik then, who Charles could sense was starting to get a bit indignant at being talked about as if he weren’t there. “You might not feel up to it all the time, but you’ll need to eat and sleep plenty. I have a feeling your mate won’t let you out of his sight, however, so perhaps there’s no cause for concern.”

Erik just nodded. It was hard for him to argue against eating and sleeping for his own welfare and the baby’s, even if he did hate to be ordered about.

“I’ll take care of him. Of them,” Charles corrected himself, eyes still on Erik.

Something about medical confirmation cleared the last wisps of disbelief from Charles’ mind, letting him finally accept that this really was happening. Whereas the night before, when Erik had come home and Charles had made his discovery, they’d lain in bed talking quietly, tonight, with Charles feeling more boisterous than he had in years, once they were in bed he pulled Erik into his arms and, well, gave him a proper cuddle. Erik protested briefly at first, but eventually relaxed and let himself be held. Eventually, exhausted, he fell asleep like that, Charles’ arms tight around him.

The harness and apparatus were gone from the space above their bed; Charles had been very exasperated to have had to sleep under them when Erik had left, unable to take anything down by himself, but Erik disassembled it all as soon as he was asked. It wasn’t needed anymore, anyway.

They slept soundly, with Erik dozing through Charles’ nightly turning. Charles woke up first for once in the morning. He lay awake, thinking.

He wanted to tell everyone they knew, everyone he’d ever known, but they had to wait a number of weeks for that, just in case… something… happened. But no, Charles couldn’t send his thoughts down that road now. He’d rather think about what it would be like when he’d finally be able to sense the baby’s consciousness, could perhaps communicate with him or her. How utterly marvelous that would be, getting to know one’s child before its birth. And he could feel what things were like for Erik too, and help him, if he could.

“You’re waking me up with your loud thinking,” Erik told him, voice rough with sleep. “And I need my rest.”

“Darling, I’m sorry,” Charles told him. I can put you back to sleep telepathically, if you like. I’m just excited, that’s all. Aren’t you excited? Their talk the night before had mostly consisted of Charles expressing contrition for not listening to Erik and for not accepting that Erik thought he was more than fine as he was. There hadn’t been much focus on the pregnancy, and Erik, it seemed, rather wanted it that way. Even after seeing Moira he was still a bit in shock. “I am excited,” Erik allowed, but he sounded hesitant.

“It’s what you wanted, is it not?”

“It is.” Erik’s brow creased. “I just can’t believe it’s real. It’s happening.”

Charles laughed softly. “It is. At last.”

Chapter Text

The first few weeks of Erik’s pregnancy were a blur, marked by tiredness and some nausea. He spent much of his time in bed with Charles, not unlike the many weeks they’d spent trying to get him pregnant, except without the marathon sex. And without the chess. And in fact with a lot more sleeping.

Charles absolutely doted on him, to his credit. Erik had taken care of Magda when she was pregnant, yes, but Charles was on simply another level, and Erik felt a stab of guilt whenever he thought about the contrast. He’d have to apologize to her, once he had the all-clear to tell people he was pregnant.

Once his obstetrician told him he was far enough into the pregnancy to be at less risk, Magda was the first person he called. He hadn’t even told her he’d found a mate, so busy had he been trying to get pregnant. “Oh, Erik, I’m so happy for you,” she said, sounding delighted. “But my sympathies to your mate—you must be running him ragged. I remember how you get even when you’re just sick with a cold. The twins have colds right now. They have missed you, by the way.” She sounded amused, if a bit reproachful.

“Magda… I’m sorry I haven’t kept better contact. We were—”

“You were ‘busy,’” she said with a laugh. “I understand.”

“I’d like it if all of you came for a visit once the baby’s born. Charles would love it, I’m sure.”

“We’d be delighted,” she told him.

Even despite the tiredness, Erik after a few weeks managed to drag himself out of bed to get exercise. Charles hired a trainer just for him, despite his protests, as well as a personal chef (once the nausea passed, he was ravenous) who was also a nutritionist, also despite Erik’s protests; it seemed like a lot of fuss. Once they’d been around for a while, however, he accepted their presence. The trainer was very good, and the chef was incredible. But Charles had an attitude toward hiring on people like this that Erik couldn’t quite relate to and wasn’t sure he could learn; it felt very moneyed, for lack of a better term, although of course Erik was already well aware of the advantages Charles could provide for himself and their child through his wealth.

One day, something occurred to him. “Will you hire a nanny, too?” he asked over a game of chess.

Charles looked at him, considering. “I might. Is that what you want?”

“I’m not sure,” Erik admitted. “I don’t know how I’d feel about that.”

“I’m not sure how I would feel about it either. It could really be a help, though.” Charles frowned, thoughtful. “Didn’t you say Magda might visit?”

“I don’t think we can conscript her into staying on and helping us. She’s got the twins to take care of.”

“Right.” Charles nodded. “Our mothers are out of the question….” He chuckled a bit sadly. “Raven would like to help, I’m sure, but only to an extent, certainly nothing long term. I think we very well might end up with a nanny. But we’ll see. You may not wish to have a stranger around your child. I’ve heard it happens.” He laughed suddenly. “I might not like that idea either. Alpha and all.”

“We’ll see.”

They went to bed shortly after. Now that Erik wasn’t so exhausted almost all the time, bed was back to being much more entertaining, and there was no longer the constant pressure of wanting to get pregnant. Charles was visibly content to lie with him, face pressed into Erik’s shoulder or with Erik draped carefully over Charles, inhaling each other’s scents with their hands idly stroking each other, until eventually, more often than not, the brushing of lips on skin turned into nips and kisses, and the idle touches became purposeful gropes.

Tonight, Charles’ hand slid down the barely perceptible roundness of Erik’s belly, something neither of them had actually spoken about yet, and wrapped around his hard cock. Erik had gotten more sensitive, and it didn’t take long for him to get off. He turned his attention to Charles, particularly Charles’ nipples, and Charles was in such a good mood he didn’t take long either, his orgasm spilling over into Erik’s mind. He gathered Erik up and pulled him onto him with a contented sigh.

“How do you like being pregnant?” Charles asked, glancing down at Erik’s lower half and then holding his gaze once more. He smiled, warm and soft.

“I swear you’re glowing more than I am,” Erik commented, and Charles laughed. “I didn’t much like the vomiting, but….” He considered. “I think…. I think I’m fine with it.”

“Do you like it, then?”

“I… might.”

“It’s what you wanted.” Charles tentatively slid a hand down Erik’s front, touch light, resting on his belly.

“Yes.” Erik cleared his throat. “Can you…. Can you sense anything?”

Charles tilted his head. “You know…. I must say I’m not sure. I’m not sure whether I’m imagining it, out of wishful thinking.” He swallowed. “Do you feel better these days?” he asked, in a different tone.

“I think it’s clear I do,” Erik told him.

“I’m glad. You look stunning, by the way. I’m not sure if I’m just biased, since you’re carrying my child, but you look hale and hearty, not quite so wan anymore. It’s a relief.”

Erik laughed softly and kissed Charles’ forehead. “Thank you, Charles,” he said, somewhat dryly. But truthfully, he was touched. “It’s nice to know pregnancy agrees with me.”

-------

“I don’t know why I let you talk me into this,” Erik grumbled, as he did almost every day now. He was looking at himself in the mirror over the sink, which was a large one covering most of the wall. “I look as though I’ve swallowed a basketball.”

Charles desperately stifled a laugh. It was true that while Erik had put on some weight, and looked less angular, he still wasn’t one for curves and softness, and his assessment, while exaggerated, wasn’t inaccurate. “Cheer up, darling, it won’t be for much longer.”

In fact, Erik’s pregnancy seemed to have flown by, in comparison to how long it had felt when they’d been trying. At least, to Charles it seemed to have flown by; Erik might feel differently. Erik’s level of comfort with his body seemed to ebb and flow; one day he was all right with everything, the next very pleased with himself, the next petulant and given to complaining, often pointedly at Charles, who didn’t mind at all, which only aggravated Erik all the more.

Meanwhile, Charles was still in awe that it was even happening, still beside himself and almost wanting to slow time down so that he could properly appreciate and linger on what they’d managed to do. At the same time, of course, he wanted to speed things up and get to the part where he met the little being, whose consciousness he was just starting to be able to sense. They knew now they were having a girl, and had started decorating her room, although not with anything especially “girly.” Spring green, for reasons they couldn’t explain, seemed like a nice choice.

One area in which Charles tried to hide his amusement was at Erik’s, well, horniness. He was cross with Charles more often than not, complaining about swollen this and that, but he couldn’t get enough of riding him, morning, noon, and night. He absolutely melted under touches and caresses, too, and was usually angry about it all, in a way that completely tickled and charmed Charles; he supposed he was a hopeless case, when it came to Erik.

The scent of his pregnant mate, the sight of his pregnant mate on him, the skin-to-skin contact: all of this had Charles in a soup of pheromones, which was why one day, later in the afternoon subsequent to the basketball complaint, Charles said almost dreamily, post-orgasm, “After the baby’s born, we ought to get married.”

Still on top of him, Erik went still.

“I—” Charles started. He meant it, of course, but perhaps he could have delivered that more smoothly. All the same, he wasn’t that bothered.

“Is that your idea of a proposal, Charles Xavier?”

“I— Yes?”

Erik huffed. “My mother would be appalled,” he said, but there was a flush creeping up his neck and over his ears.

“Is that a no?” Charles reached for Erik’s hand, idly stroking his long, elegant fingers, imagining a ring on them.

“No, it’s not a no,” Erik griped, but he didn’t pull his hand back. “Honestly, Charles, proposing to me like that with your cock still inside me.”

“More than that inside you,” Charles said, unrebuked, putting a hand on Erik’s belly.

“Yes,” Erik said. “I’ll marry you.” He said it as though he were deigning to grant Charles a favor, and Charles was delighted.

Charles smiled, feeling it stretch his mouth. “I’d try to sit up and kiss you,” he added, teasing, “but I’m afraid I can’t reach you around… this.”

He was surprised and pleased that Erik merely scoffed in response. And when Erik slipped off, and with difficulty settled in beside him with a sigh, he followed it with a kiss.

Chapter Text

Just as Erik felt he was really starting to get the hang of pregnancy, he was rapidly approaching 40 weeks.

Charles was able to sense their daughter’s little mind, and get an idea of her personality; or so he claimed. He was vague with Erik when he asked about her, saying he didn’t want to color Erik’s perception, which was absurd, in Erik’s opinion. All he would say, when insistently pressed, was that she was somewhat high-strung and determined, and reminded Charles a great deal of Erik. Exasperated through he was, Erik had given up asking for more detail (“And just what is that that supposed to mean?”) because Charles just got a silly smile on his face, tears in his eyes, whenever he mentioned how their child resembled Erik, and all because she was apparently neurotic and stubborn.

She was a vigorous kicker, at least, and very healthy, according to the doctors. And she was almost ready to come out, which was… terrifying, although Erik never admitted any trepidation, as much as Charles pestered him about expressing his feelings.

“It’s not weakness if you admit you’re scared,” Charles told him once. “It’s childbirth, Erik! It’s frightening. I’m terrified.”

“Are you,” Erik said flatly.

“Yes. For you,” Charles said firmly, and kissed his forehead. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to you, my love.”

“Then why did you do this to me,” Erik muttered under his breath, saying more loudly, “That’s not really helping me to feel better, Charles.”

“Oh, but you’ll be fine, I’m sure,” Charles told him. “We have the best physicians. But it’s natural to be worried. That’s all, Erik. Magda will be with us, Raven will be ready to kick the ass of anyone who causes trouble. It’ll be fine.”

Erik sighed, and decided to change the subject. “Have you spoken to our daughter at all, or just observed her?”

“No, I haven’t spoken to her—I haven’t wanted to frighten her, and although I could communicate general ideas to her, her brain is too underdeveloped to understand anything more complicated. Although she does like our voices.”

“But you could really communicate with her, couldn’t you? Let’s say she was…. Let’s say she was panicking, for example, while she’s being born. She doesn’t know what’s happening, she’s scared, she—”

“Erik. If I sense she’s really in distress, I can soothe her. I don’t want to interfere with the process, but I also don’t want her to suffer needlessly.”

Erik let out a long, slow breath.

Charles leaned in closer, speaking more quietly. “If you’re really in distress, too, I can take the edge off. If you need me to promise you that, I will. But I know you can handle this, Erik. You’re strong, you’re brave, you’re amazing.” Erik rolled his eyes; Charles kissed his temple, lips lingering there. “You’ll do wonderfully, I know it,” he whispered.

Two days later, Erik woke to pain rippling through him.

“Charles,” he whispered, and Charles was awake immediately, snapping into action: calling for a car, calling the doctor, getting to his chair so he could get Erik’s bag of things (Erik had expected to be easily able to get his own bag and go to the car on his own power, but he hadn’t expected the pain to be so… painful).

Erik was dimly aware of Charles handling everything as it came up: directing the driver, speaking to the doctors and texting Magda and Raven, following him into the hospital, his chair pushed by an aide. Erik’s world had narrowed profoundly into a focus on waves of increasing pain, rolling through him. He braced himself for it, holding his breath when he felt it coming; eventually, he realized he was exhausting himself, and forced himself to not fight it (to the great relief of the staff, considering he was making the metal in the vicinity expand and contract slightly with his contractions, and was in danger of damaging the equipment, although he was sure Charles wouldn’t let him get to that point).

He was exhausting himself regardless, of course, and after a while everything was a blur. Bed, medication, pain, fluids, Magda holding his hand gently, Charles gripping his hand tightly, Raven talking loudly to someone. It was unusual to have so many people with him, but perhaps Charles had pulled some strings.

He missed his mother, he thought.

Someone was by his side at all times, usually Charles. “Is she all right,” he’d ask Charles, who’d kiss his knuckles and tell him yes.

When he finally heard her cry, he let himself relax—just a bit.

She was howling up a storm, then. Erik’s eyes burned; everyone around him exclaimed, delighted. Finally, the chaos died down and she was brought to him. One of the names they’d tossed around popped into his mind.

Lorna. She was a Lorna.

The nurse helped place Lorna on his chest, over his bare skin, and everyone gathered around to have a good look at her. She was taken up again shortly thereafter, washed and weighed, and swaddled up, to keep warm and because evidently babies liked the security of having their limbs bundled tight, rather than flailing around. It made sense, he supposed. She was brought back to him, red-faced and quieted somewhat.

She made little fussy baby noises and then settled down, on his chest, just over his sternum. “Shh, shh, shh,” Erik said, gently patting Lorna’s back, which was dwarfed by the size of his hand.

“She likes your heartbeat,” Charles commented, voice sounding thick.

“You’ve caused me quite a bit of discomfort today,” Erik murmured to her. “And for several months beforehand.”

Lorna was so tiny and delicate, albeit (of course) perfectly formed, that it seemed impossible that she’d caused him such distress, but there it was, green hair and all.

Green hair!

Is she a mutant? With that green hair? he thought at Charles.

I think she must be, Charles answered. Lorna yawned, causing them all to pause, watch her, and coo over her.

Raven, smiling at the baby, scoffed at Erik. “Discomfort? Get your tubes tied if you hated it so much,” she said, teasing.

“I have no plans to,” Erik informed her.

Besides, he didn’t hate it. Charles, for one, looked almost deliriously happy, and that in itself almost made it all worth it. And yes, seeing those big blue eyes in Lorna’s little face was everything he’d hoped for.

Looking at Charles, he knew he’d heard those sentiments. He and Charles just stared at each other for a good while, until Erik could no longer look away from his daughter.

“I’d ask you to give her to me,” Charles commented, wistful, “but she’s just getting to sleep, poor thing.”

Erik scoffed. “‘Poor thing.’ The luckiest and most perfect baby in the world, you mean.”

“Yes, my mistake.”

“You did very well, Erik,” Magda piped up. She was smiling. “And she’s beautiful.”

“She is,” Erik agreed. He looked at Charles. “Don’t worry, you can hold her as soon as she wakes up again. Is she… is she all right?” he asked, again, and cleared his throat. He knew she was, but….

“She’s tired, but also something approximating content,” Charles told him, smiling still. “As are we all, I think.”

“Hungry. She’ll be hungry soon,” Erik said.

“Let her sleep for now,” Magda told him. “Then I’ll teach you how to properly breastfeed.” She laughed. “Never thought I’d be doing that.”

“Her name is Lorna, by the way,” he told them all, and felt a little jolt of surprise and pleasure from Charles—that had been one of his suggestions.

“I like your green hair, Lorna,” Raven said softly, stroking a fingertip over the fuzz. “You’re clearly very special.”

“She is indeed,” Charles said, and sighed, sounding utterly content.

-------

Charles’ favorite place to sit now was by the window in the nursery, holding Lorna. Although he supposed he’d get back to work someday, right now it was far from his mind, and this was all he wanted. Besides, Hank was probably doing perfectly well in his stead.

Magda was still here, with Lorna two weeks old, but the twins were coming here soon to meet their half-sister and Charles, and then go home with their mother. Magda had been a treasure—she knew everything about newborns and was more than willing to help, but she had such a playful teasing attitude that she never felt like a know-it-all, not that that would have bothered Charles. Her presence was tremendously helpful to Erik’s wellbeing, although he still had an air of guilt for not being more involved in her and the twins’ lives, even though she insisted, quite sincerely, that she wasn’t bothered. She’d moved on; Erik had moved on.

Charles’ discussions with her, just the two of them, were enlightening indeed. They talked about Erik, of course, sharing similar stories, commiserating, describing what they liked about him. Charles would have thought either or both of them would feel a bit jealous of the other, but that wasn’t the case; Magda was happy where she was now, and Charles was just thankful she’d helped shape Erik. As difficult as he could be sometimes, he’d always been a good man, and his passionate advocacy for his principles had attracted them both.

It was one afternoon when they’d fallen into a companionable silence that Charles asked if she’d be the matron of honor at his and Erik’s wedding. Magda, delighted, agreed.

Raven was Erik’s attendant, and one bright morning in the ornamental garden at his childhood home Magda wheeled Charles down the pathway to where Erik stood next to her, in a sleek gray suit with Lorna in a sling over his chest. They’d discussed several ways of carrying this out, and had settled on doing it this way, with Charles coming up the aisle to Erik rather than the other way around.

The twins, almost literal balls of energy that they were, had sprinkled flower petals on the path and were each holding Erik and Charles’ rings (which Erik had crafted himself), hopping up and down in impatience. But Charles wasn’t paying attention to them right now. He only had eyes for Erik and their daughter, pressed against Erik and sound asleep, green hair glinting in the sunlight.

Afterward, he finally had a chance to take everything in: Erik and the baby were at the forefront of his mind, of course, but there was Raven, a pastel dress contrasting beautifully with her red hair and blue skin; the twins, ebullient and happy; Magda, resplendent in green silk, a nod to the baby. All of them together, here, at his childhood home. A place he once thought he’d never want to see again, but which seemed like the perfect spot for his wedding. For this motley family to assemble. His family. The family he’d never thought he’d have.

As he looked around the gardens, Erik next to him and holding his hand as they sipped champagne and talked, he thought to himself that perhaps they ought to all start spending more time here.

Maybe the place could do them all some good, and how about that for a change?