Chapter 1: Erik
It goes without saying that Erik is used to being in charge.
It starts early on, in the days when he is at school and unfortunate life events mean he soon embodies the epitome of a rebellious teen- all snarky comments and biting comebacks, rounded up with a surly attitude and a general disrespect for authority.
Naturally, like most people, as Erik grows older he mellows, but it’s no mistake that his formative years result in him working at a senior level in a prestigious engineering company- a job where he makes the rules, not follows them, and everyone obeys his every instruction.
Of course, even the most commanding executives cannot be assured of their own unparalleled authority all the time, and- despite his clearly impressive standing- there are certain areas of Erik’s life in which he finds he cannot wield the same power he usually does, almost like he is reduced to being nothing more than a disobedient child once more…
It is late in the evening, and Erik knows he should be heading home to the apartment where he lives alone. Deadlines and late demands have meant that he’s been putting in more hours than he’d intended to, resulting in many nights spent sat in front of his computer when he should be unwinding in the manner of his choosing- usually with a good book or a particularly engaging documentary. But, on this occasion, it’s not detailed drawings and complex algorithms that have Erik stuck at his desk, it’s a phonecall that has already gone on for nearly an hour, and a voice that will not listen to reason…
“Erik, mein Junge, I don’t understand why you won’t listen to me? All I’m trying to do is help you, but you’re being so difficult. Don’t you know I want what’s best for you? Erik? Erik, are you even listening to me? ERIK”.
Erik is listening, but he’s also using his powers to slowly rotate a pen on the desk in front of himself, and wondering if it would cause a scene if his co-workers came in the next morning to find he’d jabbed himself in the eye with it…
“ERIK. Answer your mother!”
“Yes, mama”, Erik says with a sigh. “I’m listening. You don’t have to yell”.
“I wouldn’t yell if you actually spoke to me. Mein Gott, it’s like you were raised with no manners whatsoever... But I know better, Erik- I raised you to respect your elders, and that means listening to your mother when she is trying to help you”.
At that Erik grows exasperated, leaning back in his chair and pressing his hand to his forehead, like he is trying to ease out of the headache that is gradually forming between his temples. Outside of his office Erik can hear the low hum of a vacuum cleaner that tells him it is absolutely, definitely too late to be at work, but with no end to the conversation at sight Erik really is at a loss as to how to make his escape.
“Mama…” Erik says slowly. “I know that you think you’re trying to help me, but this really isn’t necessary... I don’t need you to find dates for me- I’m nearly thirty years old”.
“Pah”, Edie scoffs, the sound of her derision coming clearly through the phoneline. “It’s because you’re nearly thirty years old that you need your mother to find dates for you. Honestly, Erik, if I just left you alone it’s likely you’d end up spending the rest of your life in that big apartment by yourself, with not even a cat for company. Come on now, Schatz- that can’t really be what you want? Don’t you want someone special in your life? Don’t you want to start a family?”
Erik has barely opened his mouth to offer contradiction before Edie is speaking again.
“Yes, yes, I know that might not be an option for you. I’m only too aware of your lifestyle, and don’t you think I’ve been more than accommodating about that? Not that you’ve shown any gratitude… Honestly, Erik, it’s like you don’t even--”
As his mother continues to rant Erik’s mind wanders, thinking of the previous eight years or so of interactions than have all run in a similar vein. To her credit, Edie is right about the ‘accommodating’ part. After initially suffering through perhaps three years of coerced dates Erik had hoped to break the pattern by announcing to his mother than he liked men as well as women, but instead of being aghast the revelation only seemed to make Edie even more determined, as she now had more people than ever to set Erik up with. Not that Erik appreciated the fact…
“--all the effort I’ve gone to for you, and now you tell me you won’t even meet this latest one. Well, I’m about ready to lose patience with you, Erik. This latest match is perfectly lovely- he’s handsome, he’s smart, he comes from a good family. Why, just the other day Sharon was telling me about how well Charles was doing, how he was working as a professor, and--”
“Wait”, Erik interrupts, leaning forward in his chair once more, heart racing at little more than suggestion, just a name, and the implications it prompts. “Who?” he asks.
From the other end of the phone there is a certain noise of exasperation.
“Erik, Gott in Himmel, haven’t you been listening to me? Charles. Charles Xavier. You used to go to school with him, remember?”
Erik remembers. Preserved in his mind are memories of Charles from ages twelve to eighteen, after he moved to America and started at Erik’s school, before he left to go back to England once more to attend Oxford University. There are a hundred different thoughts and images in Erik’s mind of Charles, of his kind face, of his warm heart, of his soft words and good intentions. But Erik knows those memories are softened by time and wistfulness, and if Charles thinks of him at all such recollections are unlikely to be as fond in return.
“Charles lives in England”, Erik says, rather stupidly.
Edie tuts down the phone. “It’s like you’re deaf sometimes... Not any more, Schatz- he moved back a few years ago. I bumped into his mother earlier this morning and she was telling me all about him. He’s doing wonderfully in his career, and while he currently lives in that big mansion with his mother and sister I’m sure he’ll get his own place soon- maybe he just needs someone to settle down with… And he’s single right now, Erik- single! A handsome boy like that won’t stay on his own for long, so I suggest you listen to your mother and get in there quick whilst you still have the chance”.
“If only…” Erik thinks gloomily. But he knows deep down that he doesn’t have a chance with Charles, that he never had a chance, and thinking about it now will only serve to make him want for what he cannot have.
“Mama…” Erik says, standing up from his chair and going over to the large window that spans one wall of his office. Outside the lights of the city are just coming into life, like fireflies against the haze of late afternoon smog. The blue of the twilight makes him think of Charles’ eyes, and it prompts an unwanted surge of longing within his chest.
“Mama, Charles won’t want to go out with me…” Erik continues quietly, leaning heavily against the window frame. “Trust me- he’s not interested. You’re better off trying to find me someone else”.
“And why wouldn’t he be interested? You’re so handsome, mein Geliebter, you have a good heart, you’re strong, you’re loyal. Any man or woman would be lucky to have you!”
“That’s easy for you to say, you’re my mother…” Erik grumbles.
“Mother or not, I know what there is to see in you. And Charles will see it too- didn’t you say he was a telepath, after all?”
“Yes, but that doesn’t mean he knows me”, Erik replies, thinking of the day, many years ago, when he first told Charles to stay out of his mind. To the best of his knowledge, Charles has always honoured the request, meaning the only Erik he knows is the one he saw every day at school, the one who scowled at him in his gentler moments and called him names in his harsher ones.
“Well he can get to know you!” Edie trills, seemingly ignoring Erik’s trepidation. “And this party is a perfect opportunity to do just that”.
“Party?” Erik asks, feeling like he has missed something once again, and knowing he has when Edie emits a rough sound from the back of her throat that could easily be a curse.
“Yes, Erik… Charles’ birthday party. His mother invited us”.
“You want me to go to Charles’ birthday party? You want us to go??”
“It’s ideal, isn’t it! You don’t even have to go on an actual date with Charles if you’re so nervous about it, you can just go to the party and meet him there and see if you both hit it off. Of course, I’m sure you both will- how could you not? You can talk to him about those abilities of yours- he teaches a course on genetics, after all, so I’m sure he’ll be fascinated when you show him what you can do. And you can tell him about your career, though maybe leave out all the boring parts that no one really understands… And you can tell him about that work trip you took last year, and all the places you saw. Oh, Erik- I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time!”
Erik doubts it, but when it becomes clear that Edie isn’t going to let the issue go, Erik decides that the only way he can get his mother to shut up that night is to tell her that he will at least think about her suggestion.
Erik does think about it, more than he intends to. He stays at work for another half hour after he has ended the call, but his thoughts are dense and muddled, and he cannot concentrate enough to perform even the most menial of tasks.
When he returns home the apartment is dark and quiet, as Erik left it, but it soon comes to life as Erik wanders leisurely though the various rooms, using his powers to turn on the television and to start the coffee machine. By the time he has shed his coat and removed his shoes there is a pot of freshly boiled coffee waiting for him, and he pours himself a cup as he slumps down onto the sofa to watch TV.
Of course, it soon becomes clear that the latest gripping documentary is to be the furthest thing from Erik’s mind that night. Ever since Erik heard his mother mention Charles’ name he has been unable to stop thinking about him, much like he used to many years ago…
As Erik lies back against the sofa cushions, cup of coffee cradled in his lap, he remembers days coarse with bitterness and grief, with disbelief and sadness. He remembers feeling angry all the time, at himself, at his father, at the whole sorry situation. He remembers lashing out, acting up, being rude. And, amidst it all, he remembers Charles. He remembers Charles offering support, a kind word, a listening ear. He remembers Charles sacrificing his own free time to seek out Erik in his time of need. He remembers Charles’ sweet face and the gentle touch of his hand. Most of all, Erik remembers throwing all those things back at Charles, telling him his help was unwelcome, his assistance was unneeded. He remembers seeing Charles’ face crumple with each bitter word- everything Erik ever said but never meant. Erik remembers the first time he called himself a monster.
The words would echo in Erik’s brain in the years that followed that one, with each day he pushed his feelings down and let Charles think he hated him, rather than allow him to suspect the opposite. It didn’t help though. No amount of denial and self-destruction could enable Erik to avoid the truth- that he was hopelessly besotted with Charles, and had been since the day they first met. But Erik knew then just as he knows now that Charles will never want him- that he is too brilliant, too kind, too amazing to ever lower himself into considering such a thing.
Erik gave up hope a long time ago, considering it a pointless thing like faith and belief, and consoled himself with the fact that he would never have to see Charles again. But now Charles is back in the same country, Charles is- presumably- open to the idea of seeing Erik again, and perhaps it presents an opportunity for atonement, if nothing else.
It’s perhaps a foolish thought, but there’s part of Erik that wonders whether he could face Charles again and make amends with him, perhaps apologise for every terrible thing he ever said or did. Though Charles may never forgive him Erik is sure he will at least listen- Charles has always been very considerate in that respect- and he will undoubtedly give Erik the time to explain himself.
Erik has just about convinced himself that the plan forming in his mind is sound, when there are other thoughts that surge unbidden. The idea that Charles might be pleased to see him, that Charles have missed him, that Charles might want him. Barely thirty seconds have passed before Erik is thinking about all the avenues the meeting could lead towards, all the ways he and Charles might end up in each other’s arms, and it’s only when he feels a dull burning sensation on his crotch that Erik realises just how vivid those daydreams have become.
“Scheiße!” Erik exclaims, bolting upright on the sofa and sloshing part of his hot cup of coffee over himself, only exacerbating the pain of where his now-erect cock pressed up against the bottom of the mug moments earlier. Even through the thick material of his trousers the burn is painful, and Erik succumbs to yet more cursing as he dumps the cup down on the side table and gingerly tries to pull the heated material away from his crotch. Eventually there is nothing to do but remove the stained trousers, and as Erik does so he tries to pretend he hasn’t noticed the way his member is pushing desperately against the damp material of his underwear, urged on by little more than thoughts and memories of Charles.
Of course, a blind man could probably still sense nine inches, and no amount of pretending can enable Erik to think that he hasn’t been influenced by his little daydream about Charles. Troublingly, even phantom thoughts of Charles are as affecting as they were when Erik was fourteen years old, when he first laid eyes on the gorgeous blue eyes that would forever take his breath away. Spurred on my desire and the onset of puberty, Erik couldn’t help but think of Charles even more over the subsequent several years, dissatisfied by every other relationship and sexual encounter he ever had because it wasn’t with the person he really wanted. In the end though, all fantasies remained unfounded, and Erik was left with little more than imagination to sate him.
But Erik is a grown man now, and there’s no way he’s going to spend his evening miserably wanking over thoughts of Charles like he did when he was a teenager, no matter how much his body wants it. Definitely not. Okay, so it’s only logical for Erik to remove his underwear, given it is now ruined, but it’s purely for practical reasons, and nothing else. And deciding to sleep nude? Well, who doesn’t do that from time to time. It doesn’t matter that it’s barely nine o’clock and Erik isn’t even ready for bed, there’s nothing to stop him flipping back the bedsheets and lying back against the mattress, his legs slightly parted and one hand resting on his stomach.
However… that was a rather nasty burn, after all. At least, it could have been. And it’s only sensible for Erik to make sure he hasn’t suffered any lasting damage. Erik wraps one hand around his cock, just to check that nothing has been badly injured by the coffee spillage- that’s all. Of course, in the moment his fingers tighten around the circumference of his cock an image pops into his mind of Charles’ cherry red lips in place of his hand, and all good intentions are blown, like Erik wishes he was.
There really is no pretending after that. Accepting the undeniability of his desires, Erik begins to stroke his cock with vigour, thinking about Charles in a million different ways, guises, positions… It’s been a while since Erik thought about Charles in such a manner, due mostly to the fact that ignorance is bliss and it was safer to not think of him at all, but it’s amazing how quickly the thoughts come flooding back, rising with Erik’s desire until there is nothing behind his closed eyelids but pale skin and dark brown hair and striking blue eyes and soft pink lips.
Erik’s crotch rocks up into his hand, smearing pre-come across his fingers as he sucks in untidy breaths and imagines Charles in bed with him, Charles’ lips trailing down his stomach, Charles’ hands holding his hips, Charles’ mouth closing around his cock as Erik thrusts and thrusts, fucking that gorgeous mouth as Charles moans and begs for more until Erik reminds him that it’s rude to speak with his mouth full. Because that’s what Erik imagines life with Charles would be like- fun, silly, loving, exciting; all the things Erik has ever wanted but always found lacking in his previous relationships. He doesn’t know why, but Erik feels very much like being with Charles would be like finding something Erik didn’t know he was missing, something he needs, something that makes him whole.
Of course, such thoughts easily seem sound when you’re stark-bollock-naked, wanking yourself into a stupor, and Erik knows when he comes down from this particular high he will be back to facing reality, one where he is single and alone, and Charles is little more than that boy Erik used to know. Still, in the meantime Erik embraces the fantasy, and groans and writhes and comes, lost in thoughts of Charles, Charles, Charles…
The next morning, real life is calling.
Erik awakes alone- grateful for the fact that he was at least sentient enough to clean himself off last night before he went to bed, and not enjoying the way his heart pangs with sadness when he remembers the previous day in more detail. It’s Saturday, and Charles’ birthday is today. Erik knows this even without his mother having told him- it’s just one of those little facts about Charles that has been safely stored in Erik’s memory, like valued treasure in a sealed box.
As Erik slowly rises from bed and begins his morning routine he knows without question that his mother will be calling him later, that she will want to know if Erik has changed his mind, that she will most likely talk Erik’s ear off if his answer is anything but what she wants to hear. Erik knows she means well, and he wishes he could just be compliant and succumb to her meddling, but this is very different to just going out on a date with a random person- it means so much more.
But then again, perhaps that’s a reason why Erik should listen to her, for once. Every single date his mother has arranged has failed. Yes, some have lasted a bit longer than others, some have even become fully-fledged relationships, but none have had any real staying power. If this ‘faux-date’ with Charles already means more to Erik than anything else has before, then perhaps that’s the answer- perhaps that’s the way to ensure success for once, perhaps that’s a reason to try, to wish, to hope?
Edie answers the phone on the second ring.
“Yes”, Erik sighs. “Yes, alright mama… I’ll meet him”.
Chapter 2: Charles
The last time Charles saw Erik it was the night he left for Oxford.
Charles remembers that night as if it were yesterday, indeed, he remembers every moment of his life with crystal clarity, but none more than those spent in Erik’s company. It’s untenable really that someone capable of being so cold and distant could also be someone that prompts such warmth in Charles, such feeling, such sentiment. Even after so many years of hurling himself at Erik’s defences and being unable to get through, Charles still can’t help but see him as more than the image he puts out- the man, not the monster.
Of course, it helps that ‘the man’ comes in such attractive packaging… When Charles thinks of Erik he remembers more than just gruff words and a scowl that could sour milk. He remembers gorgeous blue-green-grey eyes framed by long eyelashes, he remembers strong shoulders and a lightly muscled torso leading down to an improbably slim waist, he remembers rumours of a girth and length to put others to shame, confirmed on the day when Charles was a bit late getting into the locker room and he entered to the sight of Erik just coming out of the showers, completely naked…
“You’re doing it again”.
Charles jumps where he’s sitting, looking over at the armchair opposite himself, at where his sister Raven is sitting- a slightly bewildered and definitely amused expression on her face.
“Doing what?” Charles asks, curling up defensively on the sofa and retrieving the book that apparently fell out of his lap when he wasn’t looking.
Raven smirks. “You’re sitting there, breathing heavily like you’re having some kind of sordid fantasy about someone. Is it the new butler? Do you like the shiny buttons on his uniform?”
Charles scoffs. “Um, no. And I don’t know what you’re talking about- I’m not thinking about anyone”.
“Ah-ha, right. Charles, you’re practically drooling…”
“I am not!” Charles protests, trying to resist an urge to wipe his face, just to check.
“It’s funny…” Raven says, continuing to grin mischievously at Charles as she runs a hand back through her golden blonde hair. “You’ve been like this even since Sharon said Erik Lehnsherr was coming to your birthday party”.
The accusation hits a little too close to home, and Charles feels his cheeks turn pink even without being able to see himself to confirm the fact, and clearly Raven recognises it too given the way her smile grows wider.
“You’ve still got the hots for him then?” Raven asks.
“No”, Charles replies, a little too quickly. “I don’t, I never…” he rambles, but Charles already knows he cannot lie to his sister- she was there to witness it all.
Due to Raven’s unique genetic makeup she has always aged differently to Charles, meaning that by the time they moved to America she was a few years below him at school. Regardless, they have always been close, and consequently Raven has been there to witness every one of Charles’ romantic misadventures, including the aforementioned Erik Lehnsherr.
Charles still remembers the day he first set eyes on Erik, when the misery of having to move to an entirely different country solely because your mother remarried was alleviated by a chance meeting with a gorgeous stranger. Erik was two years above Charles in school, handsome, mysterious, and his mind was unlike anything Charles had ever touched. Charles felt like he could swim in it, drown it in, lose himself in all the colours of Erik’s psyche until he could see nothing but stars, but sadly such daydreams were doomed never to become reality.
It only took a few days for Charles and Erik to actually meet for the first time, an occasion during which Erik demanded quite firmly that Charles was never to enter his mind ever again. Charles still has the memory firmly imprinted in his brain of the way Erik had looked that day, how pale he was, how horrified. It was nothing new to Charles. All his life he had become accustomed to people balking at his telepathy- his mother, friends, occasionally his own sister. Why Charles had hoped Erik would be any different is a mystery.
Of course, what Charles hadn’t been prepared for was the fact that, outside of telepaths- or perhaps Charles in particular- Erik turned out to be incredibly supportive of mutants and their varying powers. Not only was he a mutant himself, but he formed a coalition at school called ‘The Brotherhood of Mutants’ and spent time campaigning for mutant rights, whilst meanwhile Charles could only sit and watch and wonder why Erik despised him in particular.
Raven saw the whole thing, and supported Charles, and listened to his woes, and tried to reassure him, but in the end there was nothing she could really do but witness Charles’ despair- the pain of wanting someone who will never want you back.
“Charles…” Raven says softly, as Charles realises he hasn’t said anything for a long time. “Listen, don’t go forgetting that Erik was a prick to you in school. I don’t care that he’s some hotshot executive now and Sharon probably wants to marry you off to him in a not-so-subtle attempt to get you out from under her feet so she can have the whole mansion to herself. You deserve better, okay?”
Charles shrugs. “He wasn’t that bad. He was just wounded. His father--”
“What happened to his father doesn’t excuse the way he treated you. I mean it, Charles- if Erik is still at all what he was like back then, I will cut his balls off before I let him touch you. That and his impressive schlong”.
Charles can’t help but smile. “You’d need a big knife”.
“Oh, I know”, Raven laughs. “Believe me. That day Erik forgot to wear underwear to school is forever emblazoned in my memory, like a pornographic tattoo”.
“Yeah, I bet”, Charles chuckles, looking down as he returns his attention to his book, assuming the discussion is over. After a moment though he hears Raven get up from her seat, and then she is flopping down onto the sofa next to Charles as he lowers his book to meet her eyes.
“So… If you really aren’t interested in Erik- in any part of him…” Raven adds with a smirk. “Then why are you agreeing to this ridiculous idea?”
Charles pauses for a moment, thoughtfully considering. In truth, he doesn’t really know why. It’s not like it was much of a request for Charles to consent to anyway- his mother basically just arrived home yesterday and announced that she’d invited Erik and Edie Lehnsherr to his birthday party, so Charles should be on his best behaviour and try to impress him. Charles could have of course made her change her mind, in more ways than one, but he couldn’t deny that there was a certain part of him that was undeniably excited about the idea of seeing Erik again, even if the other half of him squirmed with trepidation.
“I don’t know…” Charles says eventually, letting out the breath he didn’t know he was holding in a long sigh. “I suppose I just thought it might be nice to see him again. I mean, I don’t exactly keep in contact with anyone from school… I know that you still see Alex, Darwin, Sean, Hank, and Angel, but there’s no one that I keep in touch with myself”.
As Charles says the words he knows all too clearly the reason why he doesn’t keep in touch with any friends from school, it’s because he didn’t have any. Oh sure, he had Raven, and Raven’s little gang, but those friends were always like friends by association, rather than people Charles exclusively knew under his own merit. Charles has always found it difficult to make friends, finding people to be put off by his telepathy, and with every rebuff and rejection Charles can’t help but hear his mother’s slurred words in his head, telling him that no one will want to be friends with a freak like him.
“It will be nice to see him…” Charles says again, trying to gulp down the fears steadily rising in his chest- that Erik will take one look at him, at the fact that he’s celebrating his birthday with a small party attended by only his mother, sister, sister’s friends, the boy he used to have a crush on, and the boy’s mother, and think Charles is the most pathetic person to have ever crawled the earth.
Of course, Charles can only reassure himself for so long.
“Oh god, this was a terrible idea…” Charles gasps in revelation, all the air leaving his lungs in a big whoosh. “Buggering hell, what the fuck was I thinking allowing this to happen?”
“Hey…” Raven interjects, grasping Charles’ arm and giving it a comforting squeeze. “Come on now- it will be fine. We’ve survived god only knows how many awkward family birthdays by now, I’m sure we can get through this one too. The fact that Erik is going to be there is really a non-issue. Either he relaxes and has a good time, or I kick him in the balls- his choice”.
“Raven, you seem awfully preoccupied with Erik’s balls today…”
“What can I say? They made quite the impression on me”, Raven replies, smirking.
She continues to rub her hand soothingly along Charles’ arm, and with some effort Charles returns Raven’s smile, and tries to let her words provide comfort.
Several hours later, Charles is standing in front of the mirror in his walk-in wardrobe, smoothing down his clothes for perhaps the millionth time in half an hour. He has elected to dress in his customary smart style in black trousers, a white shirt, and a blue cardigan- choosing comfort over grandiosity- but his hands shake where he draws them along his clothing and no amount of deep breaths will calm his nerves.
“Oh, fuck it…” Charles mutters to himself, turning away from the mirror and walking over to the small bar he has within his bedroom, inside of which are numerous bottles of fine spirits. Charles selects a well-aged scotch and pours himself a generous glass, and tries not to feel too guilty at the memory of his mother making him promise that he wouldn’t drink too much- not that she has any right to be making demands on that particular subject…
After perhaps his fifth sip Charles is beginning to feel marginally better; the amber liquid coursing nicely down his throat and warming him from the inside out. Charles can almost manage to convince himself that he has nothing to fear, that this will be a fine evening, that everything will go according to plan. But then the doorbell rings, and Charles’ heart practically leaps into his throat at the sound.
But as it turns out, whatever fears Charles is preparing to face will have to wait for a second, as he opens the door to be greeted by the sight of Raven’s friend Angel, brandishing a large box that is almost as big as she is. Behind her Alex, Sean, Darwin, and Hank all crowd round, letting out emphatic shouts of “Happy Birthday!” as Raven drags Charles out of the way so that they can enter the hallway. Charles stands aside, and can’t help but smile as people traipse in and he is greeted by gestures varying from a kiss on the cheek (Angel) to a rather overzealous punch on the arm (Alex).
Charles allows Raven to lead him by the hand into one of the mansion’s large living rooms, surrounded by eager chatter and warm laughter that comforts him, and helps him to forget the topic he was so preoccupied with moments earlier. After an initial few minutes of enthusiastically exchanged words Raven suggests they all need a drink, and she leads her small troop of friends off towards the kitchen, whilst Charles politely declines offers of birthday shots, and says he will resume drinking later. As they all leave the room becomes quiet once more, nothing but Charles and his thoughts, until the scope of his telepathy allows him to pick up on the presence of another person who’s just entered the room, and Charles forgets how to breathe.
After so many disappointing and sometimes upsetting encounters when it comes to his telepathy, Charles has learnt long ago to put up barriers around his mutation, and only allow the smallest tendril of power to reach out- just keeping him generally aware of the minds around himself, without prying. It’s that tendril that brushes gently against a mind Charles hasn’t felt in a long time, a mind that makes his heart ache and his knees feel weak, a mind that feels so familiar but at the same time like a stranger.
As Charles whirls around his eyes land on Erik just stepping under the doorway, and fuck is the sight an unfair one…
When Charles knew Erik at school he was taller than everyone else, his love of sports made him lithe and slightly wiry, and above all he was always handsome. Now? He’s fucking gorgeous. As Erik steps into the room Charles can’t help but gape at the sight before him, at a man who looks like he’s just wandered off the pages of one of the glossy magazines Raven reads, at a man with broader shoulders than Charles remembers, a more finely muscled chest, but still the same impossibly slim waist, at a man whose eyes are intense and brooding, like he holds all the secrets of the world within his mind and he cannot bear to share.
It’s not fair, really, for Charles to be made to feel so inadequate in the presence of someone so striking, particularly on his birthday... Erik is wearing a light grey shirt and black trousers- both of which look very expensive- but Charles know money isn’t the problem here it’s more likely taste, and the fact that Charles suddenly feels like he doesn’t have any. He pulls uncomfortably at the sleeves of his blue cardigan and wishes he’d listened to Raven on all of those occasions when she’d offered to style him, when she’d berated Charles for dressing like he’d just covered himself in glue and ran through the wardrobes of several elderly gentlemen. But it’s too late now, and Charles will just have to accept that, just as it was the case at school, he has never been a match for Erik.
So, with that knowledge in mind, Charles decides to just swallow down his insecurities (making a note to drown them in whiskey later) and tells himself that he will just treat Erik like any other party guest. Being polite is almost hardwired into Charles’ DNA, and it’s that which makes him plaster a friendly smile on his face as he begins to cross the room towards Erik.
Of course, when Charles has made maybe three steps he finds his pace wavering, stilled by the captivating sound of Erik’s voice.
“Charles…” Erik murmurs, staring intently in the same way as he always has done, mouth slightly parted and eyes cloudy with some emotion that Charles can’t discern. Fuck, just the sound of Erik’s voice is compelling… It’s slightly lower than Charles remembers, but still as sultry and gorgeous ever. It’s a voice Charles has heard in his head more than once as he has imagined it whispering to him, calling him, moaning his name… Recollections of all the times Charles has closed his eyes and thought of Erik are easily resurfaced, but Charles quickly realises that if he isn’t careful something else is also going to resurface, and he swiftly pushes those thoughts from mind as he comes to a stop standing in front of Erik.
But perhaps Charles should have stayed a bit further back, as now he is close enough to smell Erik; the rich, sweet scent of his skin. Erik has never favoured cologne- Charles knows this- so the slightly musky scent is nothing more than just Erik himself, and it’s just about fucking intoxicating. You could bottle that scent and sell it, and Charles knows he would buy every bottle, he would bathe his sheets in it and rub himself off against them thinking of a world where he has Erik in his bed willingly, wantonly, earnestly…
Wait, wasn’t Charles supposed to be resisting such thoughts? But it’s so impossible when the object of Charles’ desire is standing there in front of him, chest rising and falling with each controlled breath, staring down at Charles almost like he’s never seen him before, or like he can’t believe he’s real.
Of course, in the next second the intense eye contact that Charles realises has been unbroken since the moment he and Erik first looked at each other is severed, set aside by a small woman who bursts excitedly into the room, coming to stand in front of Erik as she immediately makes a grab for Charles’ face.
“Charles!” Edie trills, squeezing Charles’ cheeks. “Mein Gott, I forgot how handsome you were. Look at those eyes! So hübsch. And I hear you’re a professor now?? That’s wonderful! I always told Erik you were going to be successful in life, just like he was. And look at the two of you now! Life may have torn you apart but by the grace of HaShem you’re back together. It’s like it was meant to be!”
Although having his face prodded by an overzealous Jewish woman is not really how Charles would normally choose to spend his birthday, he finds that he can’t help but smile at Edie’s incessant enthusiasm. Charles has always had somewhat of a soft spot for Erik’s mother as, though he has only met her on a handful of occasions, she has always seemed warm and loving and kind- a complete contrast to Charles’ own mother, who hasn’t made an appearance yet for Charles’ birthday party, and is most likely busy seeing how many bottles of wine she can consume before she passes out.
“Mrs Lehnsherr, it’s lovely to see you again…” Charles starts, before he is halted by a friendly swat against his arm, which at least gives his face a break from the constant poking.
“Charles, I’ve told you before- call me Edie, please”.
“Edie, of course, my apologies. How are you, Edie?”
“I’m well, Charles, thank you dear. But this isn’t about me”.
At that, Edie steps to the side, grabbing Erik around the waist and shoving him towards Charles with surprising force for such a small person. Erik’s eyes immediately go wide as he stumbles forward and grasps Charles on the upper arms for a moment to steady himself, and Charles can’t help but marvel at the low flush that immediately begins to colour Erik’s cheekbones. Charles knows that Erik does not embarrass easily, that his apparent indifference towards other people’s opinions means that he has a surprisingly thick skin when it comes to the types of situations that would cause others to flush with discomfort, so Charles can’t help but wonder why Erik is so affected now.
But then Charles concludes the reasons within his own mind. It’s because Erik still hates him. It’s because Erik is so appalled at being forced into close contact with someone he despises, and he’s deeply uncomfortable about it. That has to be the reason. It just has to be.
After a moment Erik apparently recovers, and he removes his hands from Charles’ arms as he steps back a couple of paces to a safe distance, and turns his head to glare at his mother.
“Mama…” Erik says warningly.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that”, Edie replies, a warning of her own clearly written in her eyes. “You came here to see Charles, so it’s about time you got on with it, preferably whilst I’m still alive…”
For a while Erik and Edie continue to stare at each other, and Charles takes the time to indulge himself in regarding the gorgeous lines of Erik’s profile- at his defined jaw and tempting mouth and strong nose. “He looks like a work of art…”, Charles thinks dreamily, thinking of the time when he was taken on a school trip to the Metropolitan Museum, when he allowed himself to gaze at Erik for the entire day, realising just how much at home Erik looked surrounded by statues of fine marble. But soon enough Charles’ thoughts are interrupted by Edie speaking once again.
“Honestly, Erik, sometimes it’s like you don’t even want your mother’s help…” Edie says, tutting at Erik disapprovingly. “Well, at least give Charles the gift you brought him”.
“Gift?” Charles asks, more out of surprise than anything else, seen as he never expected Erik to bring him anything, particularly on such short notice.
Erik turns to look at Charles, and there again just beneath his skin is a low flush that colours his cheeks, and makes Charles squirm in sympathetic embarrassment for him…
“Erik, you didn’t have to…” Charles says softly, feeling desperately sad at how uncomfortable Erik looks, and wishing earnestly that he had some way of making him feel better.
In return, Erik shrugs. “It’s your birthday”, he says by way of explanation. He doesn’t move again for a further few moments, until Edie whacks him on the arm and Erik flashes her an irritated glance, before he sighs and reaches into his trouser pocket with one hand.
Produced from Erik’s pocket is a small blue box, tied with a simple white ribbon in a bow on the top. Charles is breathless in anticipation as Erik hands the box to him, taking it from Erik with clammy hands, and feeling his heart pang longingly as Erik says quietly: “Happy Birthday, Charles”.
Though Charles wants to remain gazing into Erik’s eyes for a lifetime, his curiosity is piqued by the little box in his hands, and he looks down as he gently unties the bow- removing the ribbon and slipping it into his pocket for safekeeping. Afterwards Charles lifts the lid from the box, and inhales a reverent breath at what he sees.
Inside the box, atop a bed of soft white satin, there is a small metal X. Charles gazes down at it, completely moved by the fact that he knows that this isn’t something that Erik has carelessly purchased in a shop, it’s something he has made. Erik isn’t really one for jewellery, excusing the ‘pierced ears’ phase of his late teens, but Charles knows that whatever metal adornment Erik possesses has always been one that has been made by himself, crafted out of dedication and passion and concentration.
To think that Erik has gone to such trouble just to give Charles a gift on his birthday…
“Oh, Erik…” Charles says softly, awed as he runs his finger along the smooth metal. “It’s beautiful”.
“It’s a pin”, Erik explains. “X for Xavier. It’s nothing…”
Charles looks up at that, finding his gaze met by the eyes that Charles has seen in his dreams more than once, almost like he is haunted by them.
“Erik, no… This is everything”.
After a brief flicker of surprise that registers on Erik’s face he visibly relaxes, his expression slipping into a warm smile, and suddenly Charles feels like his might not be the worst birthday of his life after all.
Chapter 3: Erik
All day, Erik has been consumed with nerves at the thought of seeing Charles. He has spent an age creating a gift for Charles, he has agonised over what to wear, he has debated what it might be like to speak to Charles again after all these years. Still, in spite of all that preparation, nothing is able to prepare Erik for the actual event.
To begin with, the initial portion of the evening is a blur, and the next moment Erik feels himself really gather his thoughts he is sat at a dinner table, across from Charles who is smiling pleasantly over at him, the metal badge Erik gave him proudly pinned to the front of his cardigan gleaming in the light. It’s unfair how good Charles looks, how sweet and safe and warm, and Erik feels cold in comparison, like he is nothing more than a useless statue, incapable of affection and sentiment, and unworthy of love.
All around Erik people are talking- Raven laughing uproariously with her friends, Edie chattering away to Charles’ mother who seems to be barely paying attention, the low hum of conversation from the wait staff as they bring out various plates of food and refill people’s glasses. Erik takes in very little of it. His attention is focused solely on Charles, who seems to Erik like a light within the room- too bright to look away from, and blinding all the same.
But in spite of the obvious connection Erik feels to Charles, and the fact that their interactions so far have been pleasant in nature, Erik has barely spoken to him. There have been a few words exchanged here and there, but nothing more than idle small talk, and though Erik yearns to have a proper conversation with Charles he finds he lack the words to say what he’s feeling, like always. And so, Erik turns his attention towards the food now in front of him, and hopes for a moment alone with Charles later.
Of course, before Erik can get to that point, first he has to suffer through five courses and almost three hours of a rather leisurely dinner that makes him bitterly regret heeding his mother’s advice… Erik is at least glad for one part of the evening- that he has been able to see Charles again- but even that doesn’t begin to make up for the amount of times Erik has to grit his teeth and resist an urge to use the metal screws within his mother’s chair to yank her from the room…
For the most part she is fine, content to chatter aimlessly to anyone who will listen, and when she speaks of Erik it is always complimentary. The only problem is, Erik can’t help but be embarrassed by the way his mother gushes about him, particularly when it’s only too clear that she is doing so for Charles’ benefit… Erik is usually a very private person, content to share parts of himself with only a select few special people, but his mother is not, and she speaks freely about all of Erik’s activities since the last time he and Charles saw each other…
“--Of course, I told Erik this would happen, but he didn’t listen to me, he insisted that it was his twenty-first and he was going to celebrate in style, regardless of his mother’s advice… So there I was, fast asleep in bed, only to be woken up by the sound of singing coming from outside…”
“Mama…” Erik says warningly.
“Can you imagine what the neighbours must have thought? And I was all ready to go outside and give this Schlemiel a piece of my mind, when I open the door and I find--”
“--You wouldn’t believe it, Gott in Himmel, but there was my baby boy, completely naked, swinging from a lamppost and singing his heart out!”
“MAMA”, Erik growls, glaring at her fiercely whilst meanwhile there are a smattering of different reactions from around the table- barely constrained laughter from Raven and her friends, a look of interest from Charles’ mother, and an eyebrow raise from Charles himself, who looks like he is stuck somewhere between amusement and second-hand embarrassment.
“What?” Edie replies rather indignantly. “Honestly, Erik, if you didn’t want me to tell people these things then maybe you shouldn’t do them in the first place…”
Fortunately, for Erik’s sanity, there are no moments the rest of the night that quite match the embarrassment of that one, and he consents to just sit quietly sipping on wine, ignoring the other guests.
After dinner there is a round of coffee and biscuits (not cookies, as Charles corrects everyone more than once) and an extravagant birthday cake, and then everyone is getting up from the table to go and spend the rest of their evening wherever they choose. Erik chooses to spend the rest of the night with Charles, at least that is his intention, but his attempts to steal the birthday boy away are thwarted more than once, often by casual conversation with Hank, Alex, and the others- whom Erik hasn’t seen in years- and once by Charles’ mother Sharon, who stands rather a little too close to Erik as she tells him how nicely he has grown up, slurring her words as she speaks. Eventually Erik manages to extract himself from her attentions and goes off in search of Charles, but as he follows the metal of the badge Charles is wearing towards him he finds his path blocked by a pretty blonde with a haughty expression.
“So, Erik, are you still an asshole or what?”
“Raven…” Erik replies slowly, looking down at where she stands before him with her arms folded across her chest. “It’s lovely to see you too”.
“Hmph, sure it is. You weren’t exactly nice to any of us in school, so why would seeing us now be so ‘lovely’?”
Raven is right, of course. Erik knows that, whilst he was invariably worse to Charles than anyone else, he was rude to perhaps the majority of the school populous in general, and sometimes Raven in particular. It didn’t help that, around the time Erik was in his final year of school, Raven and her BFF Angel both seemed to develop some sort of crush on Erik and his friends, and they then proceeded to spend the majority of their time following the group around the school grounds. Though Erik knows he perhaps could have been kinder, when you’re seventeen and already in the grips of some serious teen angst, the last thing you need is two young girls dogging your every move.
“Look, Raven, that was a long time ago now. Haven’t we all moved on?”
“I don’t know, have we?” Raven asks, sulking. “You know, not all of us are as kind as Charles, and so willing to forgive. You’re lucky he’s such a nice person. If I were him I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with you, much less have you at my fucking birthday party”.
Immediately Erik’s heart pangs with sorrowful feeling; regret for all those things he said to Charles that he didn’t mean, things he hopes bitterly he will be able to make up for. But he’s never going to get a chance to do that if people keep getting in his fucking way…
“Raven, I’m sorry for how I acted back then. Believe me, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t regret it”.
Raven blinks, arms unfolding as she looks up at Erik in mild surprise, like clearly whatever she expected to get from this encounter, an apology wasn’t it.
“You’re… Oh. Hmm, okay then. Well, I guess people really can change, after all… But don’t assume this means I like you any more than I did before”, Raven adds, pointing a finger at Erik. “You should know by now that I am fiercely, fiercely protective of Charles, and if you ever hurt him I promise you I will return the favour tenfold”.
“I believe you”, Erik replies sincerely. “And you don’t have to worry, I don’t plan to hurt him”.
“Good”, Raven says with a nod, just managing to get the word out before she is interrupted by the sound of hollering, and the sight of Alex running down the corridor towards her- grasping Raven and lifting her up in the air as he carries her off towards the kitchen, accompanied by Sean, Angel, and shouts of “Shots, shots, shots!” There is a brief attempt made to persuade Erik to join in with the activities, but he politely refuses and sets his sights on locating Charles once more.
When Erik finds Charles he is sat on a bench outside the mansion, knees tucked up to his chest and a glass of whiskey clutched in his hand as he gazes up at the night sky above himself. For a while Erik is transfixed, captivated by the sight of Charles and the tranquil expression on his face, but then Charles turns to look at him and Erik is prompted to move.
“Erik!” Charles says happily, unfolding his legs and turning towards him. “Please, come sit down”.
Erik obeys with a nod and wanders over to the bench, taking a seat next to Charles and trying to ignore the sounds of excited yelling coming from inside that make Erik conclude that someone has probably just fallen over. Where his mother is in this mess, Erik doesn’t even want to consider… The idea that she might be merrily taking shots with Raven and her friends is troubling to say the least.
“You weren’t feeling the party scene either, hmm?” Charles asks, smiling fondly. “That’s alright, I much prefer a quiet night myself. I suppose this party is rather more for Raven than it is for me, but that’s okay. I’m happy for her to have some fun- she deserves it”.
Erik can’t help but crack a wry smile at that. “Really? Because from what I remember of school, Raven was never exactly short of ‘fun’…”
“Yes, I suppose you’re right”, Charles laughs. “I guess people never really change. Though… I feel like you might have…”
Erik drops his gaze, pained to think of how low Charles’ opinion of him must be; the depths to which Erik has made it sink at his own hands.
“Oh, I’m sorry”, Charles says suddenly, his hand reaching over to gently grasp Erik’s arm, his touch feeling like a kiss of fire upon Erik’s skin. “I didn’t mean to offend you. I didn’t mean that you were bad back then, just… different. We all were”.
“I know…” Erik replies softly, thinking that this is the moment, this is the time for him to offer up apology to Charles, and to beg for forgiveness. But though the words are forming they stick within a frightened throat, and Erik can’t get them out just yet. Instead, he changes the subject.
“Are you having a good birthday?” Erik asks, looking back over to Charles once more, and not failing to notice the fact that Charles has not removed his hand.
Charles smiles, and god he’s beautiful. It’s like all the light that has left the day has somehow filled Charles’ expression, making him warm and bright and wonderful.
“Yes, it’s been lovely. Probably one of the best birthdays I’ve had in a while, actually. I was a bit apprehensive at first, to be honest… Birthdays in this household have never exactly been stellar, particularly when my mother has been in attendance, and I was a little bit worried that the event would either end up being a terrible bore or a complete spectacle. But, as it happens, it’s been quite nice, wouldn’t you agree?”
“Mm-hmm”, Erik nods, gazing into the tranquil waters of Charles’ deep blue eyes. “It’s been great. Well, except for…” Erik trails off with a sigh. “Charles, I really hope mama didn’t cause too much of a stir with her behaviour…”
“No, not at all”, Charles responds seamlessly, giving Erik’s arm a comforting squeeze. “She’s been very entertaining, as a matter of fact. I only hope you were too troubled by her antics…?”
“I’ve become used to it”, Erik replies grimly, remembering the time his mother marched into school and yelled at him in front of the entire lunchroom for denting her car. Erik had hoped she wouldn’t notice- he’d been able to smooth out the marks in the metal, but he could do nothing about the damaged plastic of the bumper, and apparently she had seen it straight away. Charles had been there that day, and as Erik looks over at Charles he can’t help but wonder if Charles is thinking about the same thing as he smiles and lets out a brief chuckle.
“She always was a bit of a character…” Charles says, the easy grin on his face prompting a similar reaction from Erik, who can’t help but smile over at Charles like the hopelessly besotted fool he knows he is.
It’s ridiculous really, to think that they spent six years around each other when they were growing up, but that they’ve never been closer than they are right now, and Erik can’t help but wish he’d been better behaved back then, wondering if maybe things would have been different between himself and Charles.
But then again…
Like Raven said, Charles is kind. Erik remembers watching him for years helping out the homeless and rescuing small animals, with never any pursuit of selfish endeavour in mind, simply obtaining joy from just helping others. It would be easy to read into Charles’ stance now, to see more in his hand gently gripping Erik’s arm and the warm smile on his face than is actually there, and Erik is chilled for a moment to consider that maybe, to Charles, Erik is just another poor, lost soul to help. Someone to be pitied.
“Charles…” Erik says softly, swallowing a large lump in his throat. “Why did you allow me to come to your birthday party?”
At that Charles frowns lightly, sitting back in his seat and, worryingly, removing his hand from Erik’s arm. It’s like the warmth Erik is feeling goes away with Charles’ withdrawal, and he can’t help but shiver in the cool, night air as Charles folds his hands together in his lap, looking at Erik in consideration.
“Well... I thought it might be nice to see each other again, to catch up after all these years. And not to mention it would certainly go some way towards keeping my mother quiet… Ever since I returned home she has been rather insistent about me, well, you know- going out, dating, and so on. Frankly I’m pretty sure it’s less to do with ensuring my happiness and more to do with getting me out from under her feet... She wants me to get a place of my own, I think, which is fine- I could, but there are so many memories here. This was my father’s house, you see, it’s been in the family for generations, and though I didn’t live here whilst he was alive, the thing is--”
There is a point, somewhere amidst Charles’ words, that Erik stops listening. It’s not that he’s not interested in what Charles has to say, rather that he is suddenly so preoccupied by the troubling reality of the situation he now finds himself in...
Charles did not allow Erik to come to party out of any sort of sentiment, or nostalgia, or- heaven forbid- romanticism. No, Charles allowed this little endeavour to go ahead for much the same reason why Erik has found himself sat in various restaurants and coffee shops over the years- an obligation to his mother, and his desire to keep her happy.
In that moment Erik feels so unbelievably foolish that he can barely breathe, and for a horrifying second he feels his throat clench and worries that he might be about to cry. How could he be so idiotic as to think that Charles, the sweet boy that Erik very near bullied in school, would be in any way interested in him? No, Charles is merely just doing what Charles does- he is being kind, and perhaps it’s time for Erik to do the same in return.
“--So whilst I’ve considered getting an apartment in the city, being here makes me feel closer to my father somehow. I know that’s probably a bit silly, but--”
“Charles”, Erik interrupts, immediately regretting his rudeness when he sees the brief flicker of hurt register on Charles’ face. But Erik needs to interrupt, needs to get these words out now before they fail him, needs to present an idea that hurts him, but one that he hopes will make Charles’ life easier somehow.
“Charles, I… I’d like to thank you for letting me come to your birthday party, but I think I understand what’s going on here. It seems like we’re both in the same situation- we both have mothers who seem determined to interfere in our lives, and to send us on dates until we inevitably settle down. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a bit tired of blind dates and arranged meetings, and so I’m wondering if there might be something we can do that keeps both our mothers happy and allows us both some freedom, for once”.
For someone so intelligent and perceptive, Charles appears in that moment to be completely lost. “Erik, I don’t understand…” he says softly.
“Look, I’m sure you’re as sick of this as I am”, Erik continues, fighting to keep his voice from tremoring. “So what I’m proposing is this- we pretend like the setup has worked, we pretend that we are now dating- like both of our mothers wanted. They can go on with their lives safe in the assumption that their meddling has worked, and that we are both in a relationship like they wanted, and you and I will be free to do… Well, whatever we want to do”.
“You… You want us to pretend that we’re dating…?” Charles asks quietly. His eyes are so large and so sad in that moment that Erik feels physically ill, convinced that Charles is so appalled by even the idea of the two of them pretending to be together; that he cannot tolerate so much as a fake relationship with someone he hates. But in some kind of (stupid) way the idea makes real sense to Erik. Although he knows pretending to be with Charles but not actually having him will be painful, he also knows what it’s like to suffer the burden of someone else’s expectations, and if Erik can remove some of that pressure from Charles then he is willing to do it. God knows, Erik feels like he owes him at least that.
“It would be easy”, Erik says, feeling like he needs to convince Charles in some way. “We can tell our mothers we’re together, and we can keep in contact so we make sure our stories match. All we need to do is make sure they think that we’re going on dates and seeing each other regularly, and if somewhere down the line either of us finds someone else, someone real, then we can just tell them we broke up”.
The idea of that is probably the worst part of this whole situation- the thought that, one day, Charles might find someone he actually wants to be with, and Erik won’t even be able to comfort himself with the illusion of the two of them being together anymore. But Erik knows that he’s willing to do it. There isn’t much he wouldn’t be willing to do to make Charles happy.
Of course, looking at Charles right now, ‘happy’ wouldn’t be the word Erik would use to describe him… Charles looks like he has just been winded, wounded, and his breathing is coming short and fast. Once again Erik feels like an idiot for even assuming that Charles would want to go along with this charade, but then Charles draws in a large breath, and within a second the despondent expression on his face shifts, replaced with a smile that is warm but not entirely convincing.
“Alright”, Charles says, looking at Erik and nodding once. “Okay, Erik- that seems like a good idea”.
But of course, it isn’t…
Chapter 4: Charles
Although Charles is an undeniably intelligent man, in his life he has certainly experienced more than a few stupid moments.
There was the time when Charles, along with Hank, convinced themselves that they could use a few items crudely put together in the school’s science lab to make a device to amplify Charles’ telepathic abilities; an experiment that resulted in little more than a city-wide blackout and a massive headache. There was the time Charles just had to try and rescue the stray dog that hung around the school grounds, one that bared its teeth and snarled at anyone who approached, one that of course immediately bit Charles, meaning he had to have several very painful rabies shots. And of course, there was the stupidest thing Charles had ever done- falling for Erik Lehnsherr, a boy who never showed Charles anything but pure contempt, no matter how much Charles tried to be kind to him.
To be fair though, such idiotic moments could easily be explained by youth and inexperience, which is why Charles knows that he has no excuse for doing something so mind-numbingly stupid now as agreeing to enter into a fake relationship with someone he is so desperately smitten with.
“I’m an idiot…” Charles groans, resting his head in his folded arms. From nearby there is a not-entirely-unkind laugh, and a hand that reaches over to gently stroke through his hair.
“I’ve always said it, Charles- you’re the dumbest smart person I’ve ever known”.
Charles lifts his head from his arms, turning to the side to scowl slightly at his sister Raven, who smiles at Charles before turning her attention back to eating her breakfast.
“I told you this was a bad idea from the start…” Raven continues, buttering some toast. “You should have never allowed Sharon to invite Erik to your birthday party, much less agreed to some ridiculous plan to pretend that the two of you are now dating. What the hell were you thinking?”
“I don’t know…” Charles groans, reaching for the cup of tea in front of himself and taking an eager sip. “I just didn’t know what the bloody hell to say. Erik seemed so determined, and I just thought that if I went along with it I would at least be giving Erik some freedom from his mother setting him up on dates all the time”.
The elbow in Charles’ ribs is swift and sharp, making him cough and slosh his tea across the table.
“Charles, you moron- you don’t owe Erik a thing! What the hell does it matter if his mother is always pressuring him to go on dates- that’s not your problem”.
“I know it isn’t, but…”
“But nothing, Charles”, Raven says determinedly, glaring at him. “I’m not going to sit by and let you torture yourself by pretending to be in a relationship with Erik. It’s ridiculous. You need to call him, text him, whatever, and just tell him you changed your mind- that you’re not going to go along with it. It’s for your own good”.
“Alright…” Charles replies quietly, knowing that his sister is completely right and he needs to get out of this mess before he sinks too deeply into it. “I’ll call Erik after breakfast”.
“Good”, Raven says with a nod. “Now, pass me the marmalade”.
Of course, good intentions don’t always work out as expected, and the conversation Charles has with Erik doesn’t quite go the way he planned…
It takes some time for Charles to work up the courage to call Erik. For a while he just lies on the bed in his room, trying to think of a way to formulate the words to end something that has barely begun. Raven’s words echo in Charles’ head and he knows he should listen to her, but there is a part of Charles that treasures just this small, delicate link that he has to Erik, and he doesn’t want to sever it yet.
On the other hand, Charles knows that staying in touch with Erik will be torture. For a while last night Charles hoped, in fact really believed that Erik might be interested in him, that Erik might want him at last, and he felt like he could burst with excitement at every glance that Erik shot his way. All night Charles sat there with the badge Erik made him pinned to his chest, feeling so pleased and so proud and so happy, like everything he had ever dreamed of was coming true at last. But then Erik had crushed Charles, like he had so many times before, and had told him that essentially he wasn’t interested after all, that he didn’t want to be with Charles, that he only wanted to pretend they were together for the sole purpose of keeping his mother off his back. And though it hurt Charles he found himself agreeing, because even pretending to be with Erik would be better than not having him at all.
Now though, in the harsh light of day, it’s harder, and Charles’ resolve strengthens as he picks up the phone to call Erik, determination making his heart harden, until he hears the sound of Erik’s voice and he’s weak again.
Charles can’t breathe.
“Um, hi, Erik. It’s Charles. How are you?”
For a while there is silence, and Charles can’t help but wonder what Erik is thinking. But then he responds.
“…I’m fine. Good, thank you. How are you?”
“Oh fine, fine. Really good. Um… I needed to talk to you”.
“About our, um… about our arrangement”.
“Okay… What is it?”
“Well, I just… I just…”
I just have to break it off with you, I have to stop this charade, I have to not talk to you anymore because it’s killing me Erik, it’s killing me how much I want you when I can’t have you.
I need your touch, your kiss, your mind, your body. I need you to hold me and keep me and want me, like I want you.
I want you in my bed, in my life, in my heart. I want to call you my boyfriend for real and have you mean it if you say you love me. I want you, Erik, always and forever.
“Charles, what is it?”
“I… I need a picture of you”.
Even through the phoneline, Charles hears the sharp intake of breath Erik takes.
“You need a picture of me? Why?”
“Well… Well because if we were really dating I would have a picture of you, wouldn’t I? Something to show my friends when I talk about you. You want this to seem authentic, don’t you?”
“Well, yes… Yes, I suppose so. Alright then. Give me a few minutes and I’ll send something over”.
“Okay. Okay, brilliant. Thank you”.
“Charles… You should probably send me one of you too… For… authenticity”.
“Of course. I will do. Thanks, Erik. I’ll talk to you soon. Goodbye”.
As Charles hangs up the phone, dropping it to the side of himself on the mattress and letting out a long sigh, he knows Raven is likely going to verbally berate him for this later. But it’s hard for Charles to care when just the sound of Erik’s voice has his heart racing uncontrollably in his chest, like it is calling out for Erik, like it has always done.
A few moments later Charles’ phone buzzes, and he unlocks it to find a picture of Erik, looking unfairly gorgeous considering he has likely only just woken up. Erik is sitting in what Charles presumes is his living room, dressed in a white t-shirt and with his hair slightly in disarray, like he has only run his fingers through it to form it into some sort of order. He isn’t smiling, not in the wide, ridiculous way Charles has seen him do from time-to-time, but the corners of his mouth are lifted slightly and that’s enough to warm Charles’ heart. Well, his heart and certain other areas…
As Charles looks at the picture he can’t help but feel a predictable stir of arousal within his groin, spurred on by the mere sight of Erik’s face, even just in picture form. Back when Charles was at school he had daily sightings of Erik to fuel his fevered imagination, but it has been a while since Charles has laid eyes on him, and it’s certainly doing something to increase Charles’ desire. All last night Charles thought of Erik, but such daydreams were mostly sorrowful in nature, given how the evening ended up. Now though, Charles finds his thoughts changing, becoming less to do with moping over what he doesn’t have, and more to do with enjoying what he does.
Charles may not have Erik in the purest sense, but he does have a picture of him, and that’s still pretty compelling in itself. And so, it is with resignation that Charles makes himself comfortable lying back against the pillows, reaching down to undo his trousers and sliding his hand inside to withdraw his cock- already half-hard from just thoughts of Erik. Charles runs his thumb over the picture of Erik on his phone, at the same time starting to slide his other hand up and down his cock which grows steadily firmer in his grasp, until it is fully hard and Charles is stroking himself earnestly, imagining Erik at his side, in his arms, in his bed.
After Charles has climaxed he takes a few moments to steady his breathing, before getting up to clean himself off and then returning to the bed. When Charles sits back down upon the mattress he picks up his phone once more, turning the camera on himself and checking how he looks in the screen. Charles can only hope he doesn’t look too debauched as he snaps a quick photo of himself and sends it to Erik, wondering if Erik will be able to detect the sex flush high on his cheekbones…
The weeks that follow are like pleasurable torture. In some ways, Charles’ life is the same as it always was- he teaches classes at the university, he spends time with Raven and her friends, he occasionally sees his mother, when she isn’t busy drinking alone or going out to expensive dinners. But still, in the back of Charles’ mind is the knowledge that there is a new, very special presence in his life, one he only interacts with over text messages and occasional phone calls.
As it turns out, pretending to be in a relationship with Erik is very simple. On the occasions when Charles does see his mother he updates her about the dates they have supposedly been on together and the things they have done, and she just smiles politely and says she’s happy Charles found someone. Erik’s mother, on the other hand, is seemingly more hard to appease. More than once Charles finds Erik contacts him to ask for information- what his favourite food is, what books he likes, what films he’s seen and what attractions he’s visited; all information garnered presumably to convince Edie of the sincerity of their relationship. Charles is only too happy to assist, secretly elated every time his phone makes a sound and it’s a message from Erik or sometimes a phone call.
The times they talk on the phone are infrequent in nature, usually composed of short exchanges at the most, but there is one occasion that comes to resemble a shining jewel in Charles’ memories. It is late at night, and Charles can’t help but smile as his phone starts to ring and he sees Erik’s face appear on the screen- the picture that Erik sent at the beginning of their fauxmance the one that Charles has set as his contact image. Charles settles down in an armchair and answers the phone, and so begins one of their typically cordial exchanges, where they compare notes and make sure their stories are straight in terms of what information they both tell their mothers.
Only a few minutes in though, the nature of the conversation changes. There have articles in the news over the past few days about certain mutant issues, ones that Charles has followed with fevered interest, and he only mentions them in passing- just something that they can perhaps say they have discussed when they report back to their mothers. But the prompt sparks off a long discussion with Erik, and Charles is overjoyed to spend almost two hours on the phone, debating the topic at length. When Charles goes to sleep that night he does so with a full heart and a smile on his face, feeling like his fake relationship with Erik has got just that little bit more real.
But, as it turns out, lengthy phone calls and frequent texts can only get them so far, and before long Charles is told that his presence has been requested at the local park one weekend, where an event is due to take place. Apparently it’s something that Erik takes his mother to every year, only on this occasion she has insisted that Charles joins them too, along with his mother, who at first resists until she is informed that it’s a beer and wine festival.
The morning of the event Charles stands in front of his mirror, nervously checking over his appearance as he waits for the car to arrive to take himself and his mother to the park. Well, Charles thinks it’s just the two of them, but then there is the noise of a scoff coming from the doorway, and Charles turns around to find Raven watching him.
“Have I told you lately how stupid you are for going along with this?”
“Yes…” Charles sighs, picking up his phone and his sunglasses as he walks over to her. “You remind me of that fact daily. What are you doing here anyway? I thought you were spending the weekend at Angel’s?”
“I was, but then I heard through the grapevine that you and Erik were going on an actual date today, and I just couldn’t miss it”.
“Raven…” Charles says warningly. “It’s bad enough that my mother is coming along to witness this spectacle, I’m not having you there too”.
“Charles, if you think I’m missing this you’re sorely mistaken. Someone needs to be there to mock-- I mean, support you, right?” Raven says with a grin.
Part of Charles wants to reiterate his request for Raven to miss the event, but deep down he knows her presence is likely to be comforting, and so he nods in acceptance, and allows Raven to link her arm through his before they head downstairs.
When they arrive at the park Charles takes a breath before he gets out of the car, putting on his sunglasses to combat the harsh glare of the morning sun that is shining down upon them. He has dressed more casually than he usually would in dark jeans and a blue t-shirt, deciding that his customary stuffy attire will likely look out of place next to Erik’s undoubtedly gorgeous appearance. When Charles sees Erik, he knows he was right.
Charles is meandering slowly through the festival, following after his mother who has made a beeline for the nearest stall offering chilled prosecco, when he feels a light come on in his mind and a presence at his back.
“Hello, beautiful”, Erik murmurs.
Charles can’t help but smile widely as he turns around to face Erik, gazing up at him in appreciation and adoration. But then Erik’s mother steps out from behind him, and Charles quickly realises that the greeting was merely given to impress her, and nothing more.
“Hello… darling”, Charles says quietly, casting his eyes over Erik’s appearance. Erik looks achingly good, like Charles expected, dressed in khaki trousers and a white polo shirt, with a hat to protect his face from the sun. For a moment Charles is simply lost, staring up at Erik in wonder, but then he remembers he has a façade to maintain, and so he leans up to press a brief kiss to Erik’s cheek.
Charles can’t be sure, but it’s almost like Erik trembles when Charles’ lips touch his cheek, and immediately Charles scolds himself, knowing that Erik is probably uncomfortable with such close contact. But whatever Erik is feeling he doesn’t say it, he simply stares down at Charles for a long moment, like he has questions to ask and he hopes to find the answers in Charles’ eyes.
The rest of the day is both pleasant and excruciating. For the first part of the encounter Charles finds himself bombarded by Erik’s mother, cajoled into answering all sorts of questions about his ‘relationship’, which fortunately his earlier conversations with Erik have prepared him well for. Erik watches Charles carefully as he answers, and whether Erik’s expression of concern is due to second-hand embarrassment or simply fears that Charles will screw up, Charles isn’t sure.
Charles elects not to drink whilst he is at the festival, knowing that alcohol has a tendency to erode the walls he puts up around his telepathy, so he sips quietly on cold apple juice and listens as Erik’s mother chatters pleasantly. Eventually Erik manages to steer her away, aided by Raven who flashes Charles a knowing glance and takes Edie by the arm, leading her towards a nearby food stand and beginning to ask her about what Erik was like growing up. Charles can’t help but smile at the look of mild panic on Erik’s face as his mother immediately starts to regale Raven with tales of his childhood, but Erik’s expression quickly softens as Charles gently touches him on one arm, and suggests they go sit together in the shade for a bit.
As Charles settles down under the cover of a large oak tree he can’t help but wish that this was a real date, that they were really together, and that he was able to cuddle up next to Erik and rest his head against Erik’s broad chest. But as it is Charles can only sit cross-legged on the grass, absently picking at daisies to avoid meeting Erik’s eyes.
“How have you been?” Erik asks.
Charles looks up to regard Erik, finding him lying on his side on the grass just popped up on one elbow. He looks fucking sinful, or at least Charles’ thoughts make him so, as he can’t help but trail his eyes down the hard lines of Erik’s body, honing in on where Erik’s trousers cling slightly to his crotch.
“Um, good… I’m good”, Charles replies, swallowing hard as he just about manages to tear his eyes away from Erik’s legs as he imagines himself with his head buried in-between them. “How about you?”
“I’m fine, thank you. Work is going well- I got that big contract I told you about”.
“Oh, that’s wonderful, Erik! I’m so pleased for you. I can’t wait to hear more about the project”.
“Well, I can show you some initial drawings, if you like. I have them here on my phone”, Erik says, removing the device from his pocket. Charles immediately smiles and shifts nearer to Erik on the grass, grateful for the opportunity of closer contact as he removes his sunglasses and lies down on his stomach to look at Erik’s phone.
Of course, Charles only realises just how close he is to Erik when Erik unlocks his phone, Charles inhales a sharp breath of surprise, and he looks up to find Erik’s face just inches away from his own.
“I… I thought it was the kind of thing real couples do”, Erik says quietly, looking more nervous than Charles has ever seen him.
Charles understands Erik’s motivations, and knows that they are merely part of his efforts to maintain the pretence of their ‘relationship’, but still he can’t help but be moved by the sight of an image of himself as Erik’s phone background. It’s the same photo Charles sent to Erik the morning after they first commenced their arrangement, and Charles is a little embarrassed at the memory it prompts of himself, lost in the throes of solo passion as he thought of Erik mere minutes before he took the photo.
“No, that makes sense”, Charles says softly, gazing into the tranquil storm of Erik’s eyes. “It’s a lovely idea, Erik”.
For a while longer they just stare at each other, and Charles finds himself thinking that he could just do this forever. But then there is a squeal from a small child nearby that shatters the symbiosis, and Erik turns his attention back to his phone once more.
For almost an hour Charles stays in the shade with Erik, listening attentively as Erik talks about his work. It’s a great pleasure to listen to Erik talk about something about which he is so impassioned, and Charles finds he is content to lie beside Erik, lulled by the warmth of Erik’s body close to his own, and mesmerised by the soothing tone of his voice. It’s easy to imagine a life like this, where they are together for real and Charles can hold Erik’s hand and call him his boyfriend, but Charles knows this situation is not forever, and so he just tries to enjoy it while it lasts.
Eventually though, the moment ends, and Charles is abruptly interrupted by Raven bodily jumping on top of him. Charles is accustomed to Raven’s antics but he fears for Erik’s reaction, but to his surprise Erik actually smiles devilishly, and comes to Charles’ aide by poking Raven’s sides, causing her to squeal and writhe as she ends up lying in-between Charles and Erik, being affronted on both sides. After a lot of yelping and laughing and wriggling Charles sees Edie and Sharon coming over, and he ceases the playfighting as he sits up to greet them.
For the rest of the day Charles finds himself practically glued to Erik’s side, trying to fight off a strong urge to reach out to hold his hand as they walk together. But pointed looks from Raven keep Charles in check, and he keeps his hands in his pockets as they wander through the festival. As the event draws to a close Charles can’t help but lament its passing, knowing that it’s unlikely he will see Erik again for a long while, until the next time Erik’s mother insists on their meeting. But Charles has grown accustomed to being left wanting when it comes to Erik, and he covers his worries with a warm smile.
When they separate in the car park Charles half-wonders if Erik might give him a brief kiss goodbye, but sadly Charles is left wanting in that area too. Well, only when it comes to one Lehnsherr…
“Charles, so delightful to see you again!” Edie trills, grabbing Charles’ face before kissing him firmly on both cheeks. Out of the corner of his eye Charles can see Raven stifling a laugh, and he makes a mental note to rather childishly give her a dead leg later for enjoying his discomfort so much.
“Lovely to see you too, Mrs Lehnsh-- ah, I mean Edie”, Charles says. “I look forward to meeting you again”.
“Oh, me too, Charles”, Edie replies, loosening her hold and turning her attention towards first Raven and then Sharon, bidding them both goodbye with a slightly less enthusiastic kiss on the cheek. “Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and I’ll see you at the airport on Monday”.
Charles smiles. “Yes, see you at the--”
Chapter 5: Erik
The last time Erik went on a holiday with his mother he had been thirteen years old, and he, his mother, and his father spent a leisurely week in Barcelona. It was the last holiday they had together as a family, and ever since Erik has refused to repeat the experience, mainly because it wouldn’t be the same now it is only the two of them. However, after much (much much) nagging Erik eventually gave in, and agreed to take his mother on a luxury two-week cruise.
Of course, as it turns out, it’s not just the two of them after all…
“I can’t believe you’ve done this…” Erik grumbles, propelling the luggage cart across the terminal floor with his powers as he walks beside it.
“Erik, bubbala, don’t be such a grump”, Edie tuts. “I knew you wouldn’t want to be away from Charles for two whole weeks, and as he’s on mid-term break from teaching at the university it only made sense for him to join us”.
“But it’s not just Charles”, Erik mutters. “You invited his mother and his sister too…”
“Well, I couldn’t not invite them, Erik, that would have been incredibly rude… And Sharon and Raven were only too happy to accept the offer- in fact, I think they might be more excited about the trip than Charles is”.
“Undoubtedly…” Erik thinks gloomily, recalling the look of surprise on Charles’ face when he first heard about the cruise. Since that day in the park Erik has considered calling Charles more than once to apologise, and to reassure Charles that he could still back out of the whole sorry mess if he wants to. But deep down there is a part of Erik that is unbelievably excited about the idea of spending two whole weeks with Charles, particularly given they will be sharing the same living quarters…
Still, as Erik nears the seating area where he can see Charles waiting, he feels a predictable onset of nerves at the sight of him. There are so many ways this could go wrong, not least due to the fact that this holiday could easily spell the end of Erik and Charles’ fauxmance, as it could quickly become apparent that there’s nothing really going on between them. But then Charles turns around to look at Erik, and smiles, and suddenly it seems like whatever awkwardness that is to come will be worth it, just as long as Erik gets to see that sweet little face every day.
When Charles stands to greet them Erik’s heart skips a beat as he wonders briefly if Charles might kiss him on the cheek like he did the last time they met; a moment that Erik has treasured ever since it happened. But sadly Charles remains where he is, and Erik is left wanting.
Erik sits beside Charles on the plane, and quickly realises that Charles is somewhat of a nervous flyer… Every time there is a bump of turbulence Charles’ eyes go wide and he grips the armrest quite desperately, and Erik can’t help but feel a surge of compassion and protectiveness as he looks over at him.
“Are you alright?” Erik murmurs, glancing past Charles to where Raven is sitting across the aisle to check how she’s coping. As it turns out, Raven is busy chatting animatedly to a rather striking looking red-skinned man, and Erik concludes that clearly Charles is the only one of the two of them who suffers from a fear of flying.
“I’m alright, I’m fine. I just… I just prefer having my feet flat on the ground. It’s always been this way- I don’t even like rollercoasters, which of course Raven says makes me a terrible bore… Normally when we fly she she sits beside me and holds my hand and takes the piss out of me, naturally, but it helps me to calm down”.
At that, Charles looks over at Raven rather wistfully, and Erik can’t help but feel guilty that Charles has been separated from his sister, all thanks to this silly charade they have embarked upon.
“I’m sorry... Do you want me to see if she’ll swap seats with me?”
Charles turns to look at Erik, his blue eyes wide and oddly beseeching.
“No, no you don’t have to do that, Erik. Thank you, but I’m fine here- really”.
Erik frowns. “As long as you’re sure…”
“I’m sure”, Charles replies quickly. “I want you to stay”.
It’s a small gesture, particularly in comparison to what Erik yearns for, but he’s encouraged by Charles’ words, and he smiles softly at him and settles down in his seat once more.
Of course, as the journey progresses, it isn’t long before Charles is sucking in untidy breaths and gripping his armrest once again as the sky darkens and the storm outside intensifies. All around them people are sleeping, their seats reclined and their lights turned down low, and Erik knows Charles is unlikely to get any sleep any time soon if he doesn’t relax.
Erik doesn’t allow himself to consider his actions for too long, lest he second guess himself, he simply reaches over and takes Charles’ hand where it grips the armrest, entwining Charles’ fingers with his own. There is a soft inhale of breath from Charles, but whatever emotion is written on his face Erik doesn’t see it as he keeps his head turned towards the window, looking at the sky outside. Charles doesn’t immediately wrench his hand away though and Erik considers that a good sign- a sign of hope.
By the time they board the cruise ship the next morning the hope is burning within Erik’s chest like a small flame, given fuel every time Charles smiles at Erik or says his name in that soft, awed way he does sometimes. The idea of spending the majority of the next two weeks inside a small room with Charles is suddenly very compelling, and Erik can’t help the way his stomach flutters with nerves as he and Charles enter their living quarters, particularly when Erik’s eyes rove across the plush double bed in the centre of the room…
But there are other parts of the holiday that Erik is not looking forward to quite as much. If Erik were to choose his own vacation he would likely spend it on a secluded island by himself, not on a ship surrounded by hundreds of strangers, where the entertainment is mostly composed of gaudy shows and garish entertainment. Erik is already regretting his life choices somewhat, but the discontent is softened slightly by the sight of Charles slowly pottering around the room unpacking his things, a contented smile on his face as he glances occasionally at the scene outside- the sight of land slowly giving way to an endless sea of blue.
“I’m sorry about this…” Erik says softly, sitting on the sofa watching Charles as he unpacks.
Charles pauses where he is standing in front of the bed with an armful of clothes clutched to his chest. “Sorry about what?” he asks, confusion plainly written on his face.
“This”, Erik says, gesturing at the space around him. “This whole sorry mess. I’m sorry you’ve been forced into going on holiday with me when I’m sure it’s the furthest thing from what you want”.
“But, I… Erik, no. This is fine. Great, even. I’m having a lovely time- really”.
“Charles…” Erik says, lowering his eyes. “You’re stuck on a ship with me and my mother… I’m not an idiot. I know you don’t want to be here, and I don’t blame you”.
Erik remains staring down at the ground, not even moving as he hears the sound of Charles dropping the clothing he’s been holding before he walks over to Erik. But then there’s hand in Erik’s hair, fingers gently trailing through, and Erik looks up just in time to see Charles snatch his hand back like he’s been struck.
“Um, sorry…” Charles says, holding his hand against his own chest, almost like he’s trying to shield his heart. “But I just wanted you to know that you’re wrong. I know your mother can be awfully persuasive, but believe me I wouldn’t be here unless I wanted to be. This ship is amazing, and I have my sister here with me, and you… Really, Erik, this is… this is perfect”.
Erik gazes up at Charles, and in that moment he has never envied Charles’ powers of telepathy more. Erik would give anything to know what Charles is thinking, but at the same time he fears knowing, for he has little reason to expect anything from Charles other than contempt. But on the other hand Erik knows how good and kind Charles is, how forgiving, and it’s believable that time has healed whatever wounds he has when it comes to how Erik has treated him in the past.
“I’m glad you’re here…” Erik says softly.
There is a flicker of expression on Charles’ face, almost too minor for Erik to perceive its meaning, but Erik feels like he sees a softening in Charles’ eyes. But before Erik can assume anything, or ask anything, there is a knock at their door, and Charles lingers for a moment before he goes to answer it.
The rest of the day passes as Erik has expected, much to his chagrin…
There are dinners and shows and leisurely walks on the deck, and though Erik knows there are certain rather more solitary activities he would like to partake in- like hitting the gym, for example- for the first day at least he keeps his criticisms to himself, and consents to spend his time with the main group. Although Erik would really rather not spend an hour watching a cabaret show, it is perhaps worth it just to see the look of joy and excitement on his mother’s face. Deep down, Erik can’t help but feel a little bit guilty that it has taken him so long to treat his mother to a holiday like she’s wanted for so many years, and he can only hope that this occasion makes up for it.
During the activities of the day Erik does not get much chance to talk to Charles, though thanks to his mother’s insistence they are always side-by-side. It’s difficult trying to keep up the pretence of being in a relationship under such an observant gaze, and more than once Erik falters, unsure of how to act towards Charles to both ensure they appear happy together whilst also making sure Charles isn’t made to feel uncomfortable. But fortunately Charles is rather more sure of himself, and he sits close to Erik and smiles up at him and occasionally lays a hand on Erik’s arm- a touch that feels both spellbinding and completely natural. Every time Charles calls him ‘darling’ Erik feels his heart swell, until he reminds himself that it is merely part of the pretence, and not a reason to hope for anything more.
As the night goes on it becomes clear that it’s likely to be a late one. Raven is on top form- knocking back frequent cocktails and regaling them all with witty comments about the acts on stage, whilst Charles smiles endearingly and occasionally adds his own input. After a while though it becomes clear that Charles is getting tired, and at one point Erik is thrown by the feeling of Charles’ head gently resting against his shoulder. Erik turns his head to regard Charles, almost like he is trying to make sure that he’s not dreaming, and he is greeted by the sight of Charles, completely relaxed and seemingly happy as he snuggles up to Erik.
For a while Erik stares, completely bewitched, until he remembers that he is supposed to be watching the acts on stage, but when he looks up he’s immediately greeted by two sets of eyes. Charles’ mother is still watching the show, but both Edie and Raven are turned towards Erik, wearing two completely contrasting expressions on their faces.
Edie looks so pleased and so proud that Erik can’t help but be both warmed by her expression and crushed by the knowledge that it’s all a sham, and his heart breaks to consider the day when he will have to tell her that he and Charles are over. Raven, in contrast, looks incredibly pensive, which is an expression Erik is not used to seeing on her. She looks like she has questions in her eyes, and for a brief, horrifying moment Erik worries that she has been able to read between the lines of Erik’s indifference and see into his heart. But also there in Raven’s face is something like wistful joy, and Erik can’t help but wonder what it means. It occurs to him that he doesn’t really know what Raven’s awareness of his ‘relationship’ with Charles actually is, and makes a note to find out from Charles later.
When the night draws in Erik is keen to return to his room, not least because he has spent the entire evening stealing little looks at the sight of Charles beside himself; at the gorgeous lines of Charles’ profile and the soft, sweet light in his eyes. But when they arrive back at their room (after a series of overzealous kisses from Edie for both of them that Erik tries to unsuccessfully squirm away from) Erik is struck by a sudden case of nerves when faced with just himself, Charles, and the bed before them.
“How do you want to do this?” Erik asks carefully, staring at the comfortable looking bed and envisioning two weeks of sleeping on the sofa.
“Well… I’d like to use the bathroom first, if that’s alright, and then I’ll get into bed. Then you can use it and join me after”, Charles says, as if it’s the simplest thing in the world for the two of them to sleep together.
Erik turns to the side to look at Charles, and immediately Charles’ mouth gapes slightly and he adds: “But if you’re not comfortable with that I can sleep on the sofa, or you can. We can take turns- whatever you want”.
“No”, Erik replies quickly. “No, Charles, that’s… That’s fine”.
After a brief moment of hesitation Charles smiles, nods, and then busies himself with retrieving his pyjamas from one of the wardrobes before he steps over to the bathroom, and locks himself inside.
With Charles busy in the bathroom Erik takes the opportunity to sit and relax on the sofa, checking through some work emails on his phone- something he has been unable to do all day thanks to his mother’s insistence that they should all just “Be in the moment together”. By the time Erik has finished going through them all the noise of the shower has stopped, and Erik looks up just in time to see the door open as Charles steps into the room.
For a moment, Erik forgets how to breathe. Although he has imagined Charles in all manner of guises over the years, Erik has never seen Charles like this before- soft and warm and gorgeous in traditional pyjamas, with his hair still slightly damp from the shower. The urge for Erik to cross the room, drop to his knees, and nudge Charles’ pyjama shirt up to press his mouth to Charles’ belly is almost overwhelming, but he settles for just looking over at Charles in wonder, until the blush that quickly covers Charles’ cheeks tells Erik that he is staring.
“I’ll go and get changed…” Erik mumbles, trying not to watch as Charles walks over to the bed and flips the covers back, before slipping beneath the sheets.
In a short while Erik is safely inside the bathroom, intending to just get changed and brush his teeth before going to bed, given he favours a morning shower over a nightly one. However, since Erik caught sight of Charles in his nightwear he has been fighting the arousal that is steadily rising within himself, spurred on by thoughts of Charles and the knowledge that they are soon to be lying beside each other in bed.
Part of Erik is desperate to step into the shower and stroke his aching cock; to allow there to be a release to the tension that has been building within himself ever since he saw Charles at the airport. But not only are the walls of the cruise ship likely quite thin, there’s also the fact that Charles is a telepath, and though he might not knowingly pry, that’s not to say he won’t accidentally pick up on what Erik is doing. And so, Erik resorts to deep breathing, soothing thoughts, and just about fucking anything in order to control his errant member, and to keep himself from causing a spectacle as he walks back outside.
Fortunately, when Erik does so, Charles is lying down on his stomach with his face turned away from Erik, allowing Erik to walk over to the bed and slip beneath the covers without incident. Of course, when Erik does lie down he immediately finds himself hopelessly lost for a moment by little more than the sight of Charles’ shoulders and the back of his head, and it’s hard for Erik not to immediately wrap his arms around Charles’ sleeping form and pull him closer. Well, at least Erik presumes Charles is sleeping…
“Thank you…” Charles says softly.
Erik stills where he’s lying on his back, looking over at Charles who is still turned away from himself. “For what?” he asks.
“For letting me come on this holiday. It’s been really nice. I haven’t had a holiday in ages”.
“You haven’t?” Erik says, knowing that Charles’ family are not exactly short of money, and wondering why he wouldn’t have taken a short break from time to time.
“No… I suppose I never really had anyone to go with- Raven always went away with her friends, and she never wanted to go anywhere with just me and mother, not that I can blame her… So yes, it’s been a while since I went away, probably since my father was alive, if you don’t include school trips”.
Erik listens to Charles talk, lulled by the soft tone of his voice, and moved by the sincerity of his words. Erik has always known that, whilst Charles has always been surrounded by people, at the same time he has always been quite solitary, almost like he sometimes struggles to make a connection with others. It only makes Erik feel worse about how he has pushed Charles away in the past, and once again Erik wishes he had the words to express how sorry he is. But whilst Erik cannot quite bring himself to attempt to make amends, he does at least offer Charles something else.
“I haven’t been on holiday since my father died either…”
At Erik’s words Charles visibly stirs, and slowly, cautiously he lifts his head from the pillow and turns to face Erik.
“I didn’t know that…” Charles says softly. “I’m sorry. Are you enjoying your first trip away since then?”
“Yes”, Erik replies, almost surprising himself with the answer. Though it may not be the most suitable holiday for Erik’s needs, it has at least brought himself and Charles closer together, and Erik is eternally grateful for that.
Without taking his eyes off Erik, Charles smiles, and Erik feels like the expression is made for himself alone. It’s probably the closest Erik has been to Charles since they lay down together in the park a few days previously, when Erik found himself moved by the sight of bright blue eyes, soft pink lips, and freckles that looked to Erik like the fading light of stars. On this occasion Erik is similarly captivated, and he wonders for a moment what it would be like to edge closer on the mattress, to stroke one hand through Charles’ soft brown hair, to place kisses to each of his eyelids and along his nose before settling his mouth over Charles’ lips. But Erik knows such thoughts are fantasy, and he learnt long ago that dreams do not come true.
“Good night, Charles…” Erik says softly.
Another smile from Charles, sweet and stunning.
“Good night, Erik”.
Chapter 6: Charles
Occasionally, in the more troubling moments of his life, Charles has wondered if certain events that have befallen him have been some sort of penance. No one is perfect all the time, and though Charles tries his best to be good he knows that he hasn’t always succeeded, and therefore can’t help but wonder if life will occasionally end up punishing him for his more selfish moments.
Being on the cruise certainly ends up feeling like penance…
Although initially taken aback when first told about the cruise, Charles adjusted quickly, and swiftly embraced the fact that he would be living with Erik for two whole weeks. It's like a dream come true for Charles, at least to begin with, and the first morning when Charles awakens to find Erik asleep next to him is a particular highlight.
Normally Charles is one for a lie-in, and he is rarely seen out of bed before 10am on a weekend. Naturally given the fact that he is on holiday Charles assumes that he will be spending most of his mornings leisurely lying in bed, but on that first day he has barely cracked open his eyes before he sees Erik’s sleeping face, and he is instantly entranced.
Erik looks so much younger when he is asleep, his face relaxed and smooth of any lines. In a way he looks so vulnerable and innocent, reminding Charles of the boy he once knew, and he feels his heart clench frantically in his chest, consumed by desperate longing. On this cruise they are due to see all sorts of dazzling sights, but in that moment Charles knows there can be no sight more wonderful that the one in front of his eyes right now.
It is another several minutes that Charles remains lying there, gazing at Erik like a lovestruck teenager, until Erik moves in his sleep and Charles fears he is waking up. Within a nanosecond Charles has closed his eyes once more, determined to not have Erik wake to find Charles staring at him, but the sound of Erik’s breathing is so steady and so soothing that it isn’t long before Charles is asleep again.
When Charles awakens for the second time it is to the sound of the shower rather than the sight of Erik’s face, but regardless Charles is content in the knowledge that he has many more mornings like this with Erik to come. The previous day passed pleasantly for Charles, and he is looking forward to another thirteen days of a similar calibre.
Of course, it doesn’t quite work out that way…
After breakfast, the first planned activity for the day is a leisurely morning spent lounging by the pool. The thought of Erik in swimwear is enough to prompt Charles into eagerly agreeing, and he quickly gathers his belongings and scoops them into a bag as he prepares to follow the group up to the pool changing rooms. Of course, Charles is almost a little too eager, and he quickly realises he has forgotten to bring suntan lotion, and he knows Raven’s SPF 15 won’t provide near enough cover for his pale skin. And so, after telling the others he will catch up to them in a bit, Charles returns to his room to retrieve a bottle.
By the time Charles has reached the changing rooms the others have all already finished getting ready, and so Charles quickly changes into his swimming shorts and heads outside. He easily locates Edie, Raven, and his mother lying on loungers by the pool, and he takes a seat next to Raven and quickly scans the area for signs of Erik. He spots him swimming in the pool, and the ease at which Erik glides through the water is such that Charles can’t help but be transfixed for a long moment. But, after a few effortless laps, Erik swims to the side of the pool and prepares to get out, and suddenly Charles finds himself wishing he had brought a book to cover his lap…
Erik rises from the water, and it is like a scene from a James Bond movie. His skin is smooth and tanned, his chest and abdomen are leanly muscled, and the grey swimming shorts that Erik is wearing are plastered to him like a second skin, particularly around the sizeable bulge of Erik’s crotch. Charles knows the water must be rather cool, but it has done nothing to diminish the size of Erik’s package, and Charles can’t help but wonder what Erik would look like when fully erect. But as soon as that thought comes to mind there is another than rises equally urgently, making Charles’ face heat as his fevered imagination runs away with itself.
It would be so easy for Charles to walk over to Erik, to use his telepathy to draw the two of them into a safe space where no one can see them or hear them, so Charles can act on his desires without fear of discovery. He could sink to his knees in front of Erik, press his mouth to the outline of Erik’s cock, rub his face against it until it is hard and urgent, so that Charles can mouth against the damp material, tasting water and skin and salty pre-come. He could push his tongue against the rigid length concealed within Erik’s swimming shorts, looking up to watch the muscles of Erik’s stomach flex with each laboured breath, as Erik slides his hands to grasp Charles’ hair to hold him firmly. Only then will Charles draw Erik’s shorts slowly down, eyes locked with Erik’s as his sizeable erection is freed, swinging towards Charles like it is desperate for him.
In Charles’ fantasies he draws his lips around Erik’s cock, sucking the sensitive head gently as he slowly begins to take the length in, making sure to keep his eyes up so he can enjoy the intense pleasure written across Erik’s face. The Erik of his dreams is both demanding and tender, holding Charles’ head firmly but gently, and smiling contentedly down at Charles as he begins to rock his hips forward- slowly at first, but then with increased vigour. All around them are people going about their business but no one sees them in the haven Charles has created, and no one hears as Erik groans and hitches his breath, fucking Charles’ face with gleeful abandon before he moans and writhes and comes, filling Charles’ eager mouth with his seed.
“No one will see, no one will know…” Charles tells himself as thoughts of Erik linger in his mind. But then Charles quickly realises that people will definitely fucking see, because Charles hasn’t used his telepathy to protect himself after all, meaning there is nothing to stop anyone from seeing the sizeable boner he is now sporting.
Fortunately Charles comes to his senses just fast enough to abruptly roll onto his stomach, closing his eyes and cursing himself as his hard cock presses uncomfortably against the wooden slats of the sun lounger. Where Erik is at this point Charles doesn’t even want to know, because if Erik has seen Charles’ moment of desperate desire then Charles knows he will be so embarrassed that he will probably have to throw himself off the ship to be eaten by sharks. But, to Charles’ immense relief, whatever Erik is doing at that moment in time does not involve coming over to Charles and calling him a huge pervert, and that reprieve at least allows Charles to relax enough to close his eyes as he mentally tries to will his erection away.
It takes a while- thoughts of Erik in swimwear still linger, making Charles’ skin feel hot and flushed. At least, Charles assumes it’s his fantasies of Erik that does it, until Raven leans over and presses a fingertip to the skin of Charles’ upper back and he visibly flinches.
“Charles, did you forget to put on sunscreen?” Raven asks, pushing her sunglasses up to sit on the top of her head as she looks at him.
“Oh bollocks!” Charles exclaims, bolting upright on the sun lounger and making a desperate grab for the sun cream he thoughtlessly discarded on the floor.
“You idiot…” Raven says with affection, turning to sit sideways on her lounger and taking the bottle from Charles’ hands.
Instantly Charles knows it is probably already too late. As Raven begins to rub suntan lotion onto Charles’ back he can’t help but wince; his skin already hot and sensitive to touch. Still, Raven makes her best efforts to lather Charles up, before wandering away to grab a large umbrella which she positions over Charles’ chair, insisting he stay in the shade for the rest of the day. Charles is content with that suggestion, knowing that he can at least sit back and watch Erik some more, hopefully without any other dick dilemmas this time, but as he settles down and scans the scene for signs of Erik he soon finds him, and his heart immediately sinks.
Across the other side of the pool at the nearest bar Erik is stood talking to someone, a beautiful blonde woman in a stylish white swimsuit. Charles doesn’t have to look twice to know she is a mutant, a telepath, and whilst he would normally be excited at the prospect of meeting a fellow psychic, Charles is instantly troubled by how beautiful she is, and how close she is standing to Erik…
“Who’s that?” Raven wonders aloud, watching the same scene as Charles is- Erik, leaning against the bar with a cold beer in his hand and an attractive woman at his side, smiling and leaning into him.
“I don’t know…” Charles replies glumly. “But she seems very friendly”.
“Oh yeah, she’s friendly, alright… Erik is probably the third guy I’ve seen her talk to in the short time I’ve been here. I would go and warn her that Erik isn’t really her type, only I’m not entirely sure I know what Erik’s type is, except now I’m thinking maybe he has a thing for brunettes…”
“Really?” Charles says, turning to look at his sister quizzically. “What makes you say that?”
In return Raven looks at Charles thoughtfully for a long moment, before she drops her sunglasses over her eyes once more and leans back in her seat, apparently declining to answer the question.
“Raven? What’s going on?” Charles asks, feeling very much like he’s missed something.
“It’s nothing”, Raven says, continuing to be frustrating elusive. “I just thought…” She shakes her head. “It’s nothing”.
“Raven, you know I can make you tell me what you’re thinking…”
“I know… Just like I know you would never actually do that”, she replies with a smile, before sighing in response to the pleading expression on Charles’ face. “Oh, for god’s sake, don’t go giving me the puppy eyes. Look, it’s probably nothing anyway…”
For a while Raven doesn’t respond, and Charles is seriously considering throwing a bottle of suntan lotion at her head. But then she sighs, and rolls over on her sun lounger towards Charles, gesturing for him to lean closer which he does so eagerly.
“This arrangement you and Erik have going on…” Raven starts, her voice a low whisper. “Nothing’s changed, has it? You’re still just pretending to date for the sake of shutting up his mother and yours, right?”
“Yes…” Charles replies, confused. “Yes, everything is the same as it’s always been. Why would you think any different?”
“Because… Look Charles, I meant it when I said it might be nothing, but last night, when you and Erik were sat together watching that god awful show, and you leaned over to rest your head on Erik’s shoulder, you both looked… happy. Like, really happy. Like you were a real couple happy”.
Charles can remember that moment, he can remember feeling completely content cosied up to Erik, but he never considered Erik might be feeling the same way…
“You’re wrong…” Charles says decisively, not even allowing himself to consider the possibility that Raven might be right for even a second, not when it would be too painful to be proven false. “There’s no way. Erik is just keeping up the charade, like we talked about”.
“You’re wrong”, Charles repeats, and with that Raven rolls her eyes (Charles can tell even though she is wearing sunglasses) and lies back against the sun lounger once more.
For a while Charles considers Raven’s words anyway, he can’t let it go from his mind, but as he stares over at Erik still talking to the beautiful blonde woman he can’t contemplate a scenario where Raven is right. If Erik is in any way interested then why has it happened now? What has changed from when they were teenagers? Why hasn’t he made his intentions clear? For the first time since Charles made the promise to abstain he finds himself wanting desperately to enter Erik’s mind, to know for certain how Erik is feeling, but at the same time Charles can’t bear to shatter whatever fragile trust Erik has placed in him, and so he keeps his telepathic ability to himself.
For perhaps another hour Charles remains by the poolside, watching the scene and continuing to internally debate the status of his fake relationship with Erik and what it all means, but after a while Charles finds himself feeling thirsty and headachy, with no number of drinks able to make him feel better. Charles dimly suspects he might have heat exhaustion, and after initially attempting to just stay on deck and make the best of it, eventually he offers his apologies to the group and announces he is going back to his cabin for a lie down.
When he arrives back at his room Charles takes a couple of paracetamols and downs a glass of water, before lying down on top of the bed in an attempt to get some sleep. Charles’ skin still feels flushed and red, his back the worst of all, so he lies down with his head pressed into the pillow as he closes his eyes. It only takes a moment for Charles to realise though that it’s Erik’s pillow beneath his face, as evidenced by the intoxicating scent in Charles’ nose that makes him yearn for the things he cannot have.
Charles wraps his arms around the pillow, nuzzling his face into it and allowing the gorgeous smell of Erik to infiltrate his senses, making his heart ache with tangible longing. His skin is still throbbing and his head is pounding, but Charles keeps his eyes closed tight as he thinks of Erik, and it isn’t long before he is asleep.
When Charles awakes it’s because his telepathy is telling him that there’s another presence nearby, one that runs fingers through his hair in gentle, soothing motions. Charles opens his eyes and immediately Erik withdraws, removing his hand from Charles’ hair and looking down at him nervously where he sits on the edge of the bed.
“Uh, hi”, Erik says softly. “I’ve just come to check how you’re feeling”.
Mercifully, Erik is now fully dressed, though the thin cotton shirt and khaki shorts he is wearing do little to stem Charles’ feelings of arousal, at least until Charles fully recovers his senses and he realises he is in pain.
“Owwwww…” Charles whines, screwing up his face. “My skin feels like it’s on fire”.
Charles’ headache is at least gone, but his sunburn is worse than ever and Charles dreads to think about how terrible he must look.
“Yes, you do look rather red…” Erik says, casting his eyes over Charles’ body.
It’s not fair really. Next to Charles, Erik is like a Greek god- some gorgeous, tanned Adonis, sent to the earth to torture him. In comparison Charles has never felt more soft and pasty and unsightly, particularly when he can sense that his skin is likely to be flushed a painful red.
“You should just leave me here”, Charles moans despondently. “I’m not fit to be seen in public. You go have some fun and I’ll just hide away like a hideous troll”.
Erik chuckles softly. “Charles, you’re not a hideous troll, you’re just a little bit sunburnt. And what kind of boyfriend would I be if I just left you in here by yourself?”
“Boyfriend…” Charles thinks dreamily, until he abruptly remembers that Erik only means in the pretend sense.
“We really should do something about your skin…” Erik says quietly, casting his eyes over Charles’ back once more. “I brought you some aftersun to soothe the burn. If you’d like I could rub it in for you…”
Oh fuck. Just the thought of Erik’s skilled hands touching his skin is enough to make Charles feel aroused all over again, and he is suddenly grateful for the fact that he is face down on the mattress, though he does consider for a fevered second maybe trying to convince Erik that his cock is sunburnt too, so that Erik will also treat that with lotion…
“If you don’t want me to I can ask Raven if she wouldn’t mind…” Erik starts, before Charles is quickly shaking his head.
“No, no that’s fine. I’d… I’d like for you to do it, Erik”, Charles says quietly.
For a long while afterwards Erik just seems to stare at Charles, and for a horrible moment Charles worries that Erik is regretting making the offer, like perhaps he presumed Charles would say no and now he feels compelled to go through with it by obligation. But whatever Erik’s reasons Charles barely has time to question them before he is standing up from the bed, and moving to kneel beside Charles on the mattress.
“You’ll let me know if I hurt you, won’t you Charles?” Erik asks.
“Mm-hmm”, Charles replies. “It’s alright though. I trust you”.
Charles knows he does. Though there are a million reasons why he shouldn’t, Charles does.
As Erik unscrews the cap of the bottle of lotion and begins to pour some into his hand Charles closes his eyes, not wanting to let so much as the sight of Erik distract him from, well, trying not to get another bonk on... Charles remains still as he senses Erik lean over him on the bed, but at the first touch of Erik’s deft fingers to his upper back Charles can’t help but groan.
“Is this alright?” Erik asks softly, running his palms over Charles’ back gently, prompting another small moan from Charles and a nod of consent. It feels so good, not just to have the soothing lotion cool Charles’ skin but to know Erik is the one helping him, and Charles can’t help but feel like maybe this day isn’t turning out to be so bad after all.
It takes longer for Erik to apply the lotion than Charles would have thought… Erik spends a long time gently rubbing the cream into Charles’ sunburn, making Charles melt with pleasure as Erik’s thumbs trail down the sensitive skin of his spine, almost like Erik is performing a massage rather than just applying lotion. It’s such a devoted act that Charles can’t help but wonder why Erik is doing it. At first he thought, like everything else, that this was just something Erik was doing to keep up appearances; continuing the illusion that they are in a relationship. But during perhaps the fourth time Erik’s thumbs press into the dimples above Charles’ arse, Charles remembers that they are alone, and that there is no one present to impress.
With the thought Charles’ eyes snap open, just as he feels something brush against his backside. It is only for a second but instantly Charles’ breath falters as he realises what it is, more so as he looks over to the mirror in the corner of the room, the one that provides Charles with a perfect view of the bed, and of Erik…
Erik looks positively sinful. He is on the bed kneeling over Charles, his normally neat hair falling across his forehead, the muscles in his arms glistening enticingly as he rubs his hands against Charles’ back. At first Charles thinks that he’s just seeing things, that Erik’s shorts are just as unforgiving as his swimming trunks were earlier, but then Charles focuses, really focuses on reflection in the mirror, and he knows he isn’t imagining Erik’s massive hard on.
It’s difficult for Charles to swallow the gasp that threatens to leave his lips but he does it, closing his eyes once more and fighting to control his breathing. Erik is hard. Erik is touching Charles and he’s hard. Part of Charles is so reciprocally aroused by the knowledge that he is unsurprised as his own cock quickly begins to fill in response, but there is a bigger part of him that is confused, that cannot understand why Erik- the same person who was so cold towards him in school- is acting this way now. It doesn’t make sense. Like so much of Erik’s behaviour it doesn’t make sense. But just as Charles is preparing to ask for explanation they are interrupted.
At the knock on the door Erik instantly flinches, removing his hands from Charles’ back and leaning away from him. Charles opens his eyes just in time to watch Erik in the mirror as he clambers quickly off the bed, walking briskly towards the bathroom, the evident bulge in his shorts showing no signs of waning. As soon as Erik reaches the bathroom he closes the door firmly behind himself, leaving Charles confused and vulnerable on the bed as he looks over at the closed door and wonders what the fuck just happened. But there is no time to consider it now, as there is another knock on the door and Charles climbs off of the bed to go answer it, tucking his half-hard cock into the waistband of his swimming trunks as he goes.
Chapter 7: Erik
There are many occasions when Erik has regretted listening to his mother; years and years of uncomfortable meetings, awkward dates, and occasionally bad sex when Erik has allowed things to progress further despite his better judgement. But the current situation Erik finds himself in is perhaps one of the worst.
Being locked in the bathroom of your cruise ship accommodation trying to will away your storming erection so that your fake boyfriend doesn’t realise you fancy him? Yep, definitely the worst…
From outside the room Erik can hear Charles moving around, going to answer the door and soon being joined by another voice which Erik recognises as coming from Raven. There is a brief exchange which Erik can’t make out the words of before it goes quiet for a long moment, and Erik wonders if they have both left as Erik is sure he heard the sound of the door closing. But just as Erik is straining to hear there’s a sudden gentle tap on the door which makes Erik jump slightly, and the soft sound of Charles’ voice.
“Erik? Erik, um, we’re going to go upstairs for lunch now. Are you coming?”
Erik leans heavily against the doorframe, prompted into longing by little more than the sound of Charles’ voice, but finding himself still hampered by the hard length between his legs, tenting his shorts obscenely.
“You can go on without me”, Erik says after a moment. “I’m… not feeling very well. Just give me a few minutes and then I’ll come up and join you”.
“Brilliant, Erik…” he scolds himself, wondering if there’s any chance at all that Charles will buy his story of sudden onset sickness. But fortunately, after a long moment in which Erik practically holds his breath, Charles speaks again.
“Okay, Erik. That’s fine. I, um… I hope you feel better soon”.
Relief floods Erik’s senses as he hears the sound of shuffling from outside, most likely Charles changing his clothes, and then the door opens again briefly before it closes once more, and Erik is alone.
“Dummkopf…” Erik thinks to himself, stepping back from the door and looking down at the bulge in his shorts that still won’t fucking go away. Since Erik first arrived on the cruise ship he has spent more time than is probably acceptable in polite society just trying to fight off his arousal when it comes to Charles, not helped at all by the sight of Charles every single day- soft and warm and gorgeous.
The first morning when Erik awoke to find Charles sleeping next to himself was like both a gift and a curse. For a while Erik just lay there, staring at the beautiful sight of the unconscious man next to himself, and wondering what it would be like to lean over and press his mouth against those flushed pink lips. At the time Erik only allowed himself to linger for a short while before he climbed out of bed and wandered off in search of a cold shower, still not trusting himself to masturbate with Charles only in the next room. But, of course, Charles isn’t here now…
It’s that thought that makes Erik trail his hand slowly down his stomach, using his powers to undo the button and zip of his shorts so he can slide his hand inside. As Erik withdraws his cock he thinks about that morning again, but imagines rolling Charles over onto his back, so he can smear lust-stupid kisses along the side of Charles’ neck, sucking marks into Charles’ skin whilst reaching down to free his cock. In Erik’s fantasies Charles moans as Erik touches him, his eyes snapping open like stars bursting into light, and focusing on Erik with pure, unadulterated love.
But then Erik’s mind begins to wander further, and as he holds his cock in his hand and begins to slowly draw his palm along the thick length he thinks of how Charles had looked minutes earlier lying on the bed, his torso bare and his skin tinged with red. Erik has always loved Charles’ pale, freckled skin, and he finds he even loves it when reddened by sunburn- the seemingly unsightly hue making Erik want to do little more than cover it with kisses. Erik imagines what it would have been like to lean down to press his mouth to the curve of Charles’ spine, to press his tongue into the dimples above Charles’ arse. Oh, Charles’ arse… Even concealed by swimwear Erik thinks that it’s glorious, and remembers sitting over Charles, looking down at the fleshy mound of his buttocks and wondering what it would be like to slowly pull Charles’ shorts down, exposing the pale skin beneath.
In his fantasies Erik is naked sitting over Charles, and as Charles lies prone on the mattress Erik draws his firm buttocks slightly apart, so that he can rub his member along the line of them, smearing Charles’ ass with pre-come as Erik marks out what’s his. Charles’ flesh is soft and yielding as Erik uses lubed fingers to work Charles open, making him groan and writhe and beg; beg for Erik, for his cock, for his love- all of the things Erik gives willingly, without question.
But then, as daydreams amass behind Erik’s closed eyelids like temptation come to life, Erik opens them briefly to regard the sight of himself in the bathroom mirror, and he is ashamed.
When Erik offered this arrangement to Charles he did so to make Charles’ life easier; to provide Charles with cover so he could be free to do what he wants with his free time. This is not what Charles signed up for. And if he knew, god, if he knew what Erik was doing, Erik is sure he would be horrified.
Erik lets go of his cock, feeling utterly reprehensible for all the things he has done to Charles within his mind, all the ways he has used and debased him, when Charles has done nothing to deserve such treatment. Charles never asked for this, any of it, and Erik feels palpably unwell as he considers how Charles might react were he to realise what Erik has been thinking; if Charles knew about all of the ways Erik has mentally undressed him over the past few days, not counting all the times he did it when they were at school together. It’s perhaps a blessing that Charles is such a good person, and that he has always honoured Erik’s request to stay out of his mind, because otherwise… Well, otherwise, Erik is certain that Charles wouldn’t want to be in the same hemisphere as him, let alone on the same ship.
It takes a while for Erik to calm down after that, not least because of the fact that, although his mind may have decided to let go of the hold it has on Charles, his body is not quite so willing to listen… It takes twenty minutes and a very, very cold shower to successfully tame Erik’s cock, and after the shower Erik redresses in a rather more rigid pair of trousers than before- ones that he hopes will at least provide some cover should his member decide to act up once again.
When Erik enters the large room where lunch is being served his focus falls on Charles instantly. Charles has dressed in a loose pair of chinos and a short sleeved blue shirt, upon the front of which is the badge Erik gave Charles on his birthday, pinned proudly to his chest. The badge almost acts of a reminder for Erik of the reality of the situation, as he knows the reason why Charles has chosen to wear it- to maintain the illusion of their relationship for all those present around the table.
“Erik, hi”, Charles says, watching as Erik takes a seat at the table. “Are you feeling better?”
“Yes, thank you”, Erik replies with a nod, keeping his gaze focused down on the table so as to avoid Charles’ eyes. Lunch that day appears to be a generous buffet, and Erik is unsurprised to see that everyone is already eagerly tucking into plates of food. At least going up to get his own lunch will provide Erik with some reprieve from the group.
“We missed you…” a voice says, and Erik looks up to find Charles’ mother looking at him, a glass of wine in her hands as she appears to appraise Erik with her eyes.
Sharon always has had a tendency to make Erik feel uncomfortable, not least because he cannot understand how she and Charles can possibly be related. Charles is one of the sweetest, kindest people Erik has ever met, and in contrast his mother is… Well, even at school, Erik knew she was difficult.
The occasions when Erik saw Sharon were infrequent, given she never showed up for any of the many activities that Charles participated in at school, something that always made Erik’s heart ache with sadness. In contrast Erik’s own mother was always there to cheer Erik on, and though he often shied away from her overbearing affection, he knew it was preferable to being in Charles’ position of having no one to support him. It’s for that reason why Erik often sent his mother over to talk to Charles on those occasions, to pass on the affection that Erik held contained within his chest, and his soul always brightened to see Charles smile in the wake of her attention.
It’s the same situation now at lunch, as Erik looks up from the table to find Charles smiling widely over at Edie sitting next to him as he compliments her on the brooch she is wearing, one that Erik knows was bought for her by his father. Erik’s heart clenches at the sight, at the look of joy on his mother’s face, and crumples at the knowledge that the wonderful, kind person sitting beside her never be his- not really. Erik only hopes that, when they inevitably break up, Charles will at least consent to still staying in contact with his mother.
The rest of the lunch passes pleasantly enough, and Erik soon finds himself embroiled in a lengthy conversation with Raven, spurred on by chatter from a nearby table about some recent developments in the news. Apparently the government are making progress with the ‘cure’ they are hoping to put forward, though Erik sees it more as a curse than a cure, as he cannot imagine why any mutant would want to willingly take a drug that will supress their abilities.
Erik has debated the topic at length before with Charles, an occasion that Erik relished even if Charles’ thoughts on the matter varied slightly from his own, but with Raven Erik finds their opinions are rather more easily matched, and he is soon nodding eagerly in agreement as Raven embraces the topic. Erik has always admired Raven’s conviction and the clear strength of her heart- hard where Charles’ is soft- but Erik only wishes Raven was a little more willingly to embrace her mutant genetics, given Erik has only ever seen her true blue form once in his life. Very quickly though, Erik realises why Raven is so cautious when it comes to displaying her mutation…
“Personally, I think they should just slip this ‘cure’ into the water supply”, Sharon sniffs. “That way we could do away with the mutant problem once and for all”.
Instantly Erik’s expression grows steely as he glares over at Charles’ mother, whilst she sips cluelessly on her glass of wine, apparently unaware of the offence she has caused. Even without looking Erik can sense the mixed emotions coming from around the table- shock from Edie, outrage from Raven, and embarrassment from Charles.
Charles… Erik turns to look at him, feeling immediately pained by the wounded expression on Charles’ face. Erik aches to reach out to comfort him, to brush Charles’ hair back and press a kiss to his forehead to soothe his troubles, but he knows that, even whilst it would go some way towards maintaining the pretence that they are a couple, such affection would likely be unwelcome and inappropriate. And so, Erik instead turns back to face Sharon, and fixes her with a cold glare.
“That’s an interesting idea, Mrs Marko…” Erik says calmly. “But given how that would diminish the powers of a number of magnificent mutants- people like your son, who is the most brilliant person I have ever met- I think that would be a great shame. So perhaps instead of wishing for some magic cure to make everyone ‘normal’, you should learn to appreciate the wonderful people you have in your life, and accept that the incredible abilities they possess are as much a part of them as anything else is”.
In the wake of Erik’s words there are a smattering of reactions, including stifled laughter from Raven, and a hissed “Erik!” from Edie, though Erik knows it’s likely his mother is simply concerned about Erik being rude, rather than that she actually disagrees with anything he’s said. As it happens though Sharon seems mostly unaffected by Erik’s outburst, and she simply rolls her eyes and offers a flippant: “Whatever”, before she brings the glass of wine back to her lips once more. For a moment afterwards Erik continues to stare at her, wondering how someone like Charles could have come from such a cold person, when suddenly there is hand touching Erik’s knee and he can’t help but flinch.
At first Erik assumes that maybe it’s his mother offering a little gesture of support, but as Erik turns back around his gaze is immediately met by Charles’ large blue eyes, and Erik feels all the air leave his lungs.
Charles holds Erik’s knee under the table, gently squeezing with his fingers as he gazes unwaveringly across at Erik. There is such emotion in Charles’ expression that it forms a tightening in Erik’s chest, but it is hard for Erik to discern the meaning in Charles’ soulful eyes, and for a moment he worries he has in some way offended Charles by being rude to his mother. But then Erik feels something in his mind- the delicate, gentle touch of Charles’ telepathy, something Erik hasn’t felt in years. It filters into Erik’s senses like sunlight, making Erik’s eyelids flutter as he feels for a moment like he is going to lose himself in the pure serenity of the feeling; sinking into a safe space where everything is warm and soft and good.
“Thank you…”, Charles says into Erik’s mind.
And then, the feeling is gone.
For the rest of the day Erik cannot get the memory of his encounter with Charles out of his head. After lunch, Erik makes his excuses and prepares to spend the day alone; telling the group that he is going to spend some time in the gym- pretending that he needs to exercise, when really he needs some time to himself to organise his muddled feelings about Charles. Erik runs on the treadmill like he is trying to run away from the things he wants, the things that haunt his thoughts and torture him, reminding him of everything he cannot have, and when Erik eventually comes to a stop he is reassured by the feeling of his heart pounding in his chest, almost worried that it had stopped in Charles’ presence.
The last time Erik saw Charles he was being led away to the spa by Raven, after she insisted that they would surely be able to do something about Charles’ sunburnt skin, so Erik hopes that will keep Charles busy for a while, as he’s sure he’s not yet ready to face him.
That moment… that feeling of Charles briefly touching Erik’s mind… It felt so good Erik is embarrassed to think of all of the times he commanded Charles to stay out of his head; all the times he allowed harsh words to shield his frightened heart, fearing what Charles would see in him. It’s painful to realise what Erik has been missing out on for so many years, all the goodness and sweetness Charles can provide, and once again Erik is left feeling like a monster, remembering all those stupid things he said to Charles in the past.
After the gym, Erik spends the day wilfully avoiding the rest of his group. On a cruise ship so large it isn’t difficult, and though Erik knows Charles could seek him out if he so wished, the fact that he doesn’t tells Erik everything he needs to know. Although Charles was clearly moved by Erik’s defence of him in front of his mother, it doesn’t change anything, not really. They are simply together for the purposes of maintaining a pretence, and there is nothing more to it- Erik knows this.
Erik spends dinnertime alone in one of the ship’s many bars, though it is somewhat of a liquid diet... Erik consumes two or three beers as he sits and mopes and occasionally snacks on little bits of the sandwich he ordered, wondering how long he can successfully avoid Charles before he is forced to see him again.
As it turns out, Erik technically makes it until the next day. It is past midnight by the time Erik is sitting up on the deck of the ship, lying back in a deckchair with yet another cold beer in his hand. Nearby Erik can hear the sounds of music and laughter coming from the floors below as various parties continue into the night, but above deck it is mostly quiet, with only a few people occasionally passing by conducting hushed conversations. Erik doesn’t pay them much attention, not until one set of footsteps comes right up to where Erik is sitting, and he looks up to find Charles standing over him.
“Charles…” Erik says softly, gazing up at the sight of Charles bathed in soft moonlight, almost like there is the glow of a halo around his head.
“Hello, Erik. Good to see that you’re still alive”, Charles replies coolly. “Well, now I’ve confirmed that fact I guess I’ll go to bed”, he adds, immediately turning away from Erik and preparing to walk away, before Erik reaches out without consideration and grabs hold of his hand.
“Wait”, Erik says, watching as Charles comes to a stop, looking down at his hand in Erik’s like he can’t quite believe that it’s happening. Immediately Erik recognises that his touch is unwelcome, and he loosens his hold but continues to stare up at Charles.
“Please, Charles- take a seat. Stay and talk to me”.
There is a moment when Charles doesn’t move, and Erik tries to prepare himself for Charles turning away from him once again, like he deserves. But then Charles lets out a low sigh, and he moves to lower himself down onto the chair next to Erik.
For a while after Charles is seated neither of them say anything, and Erik is struck by how comfortable the silence is with Charles- almost like they have been dating for years and they are at ease just being together without needing to resort to idle conversation. But at the same time Erik both yearns to hear the sound of Charles’ voice and fears what he will say, and it isn’t long before the alcohol making his senses warm and fuzzy is prompting Erik to speak first, and to say some of the things he has kept to himself for so long.
“I’m sorry I was so horrible to you when we were in school”.
With the sentence Erik feels like a small weight has been lifted, like part of the pressure he has placed on himself has been alleviated by just saying the words out loud, but he also knows that he will never be able to feel completely at ease until he hears Charles’ reaction.
For some time it seems like Erik will be kept waiting. After swallowing down the large lump in his throat Erik turns to look at Charles, finding that though Charles is watching him he is mute- his mouth clamped tightly shut as he displays a thoughtful expression on his face. Erik knows it is too much to hope for Charles’ forgiveness; that even though Charles is sweet and kind he is perfectly entitled to hold a grudge, and to forever resent Erik for his actions. But just as part of Erik is considering whether it would have been better to have just said nothing, Charles takes in a deep breath, and nods once.
“Thank you…” he says quietly. “Thank you, Erik. I… I really appreciate you saying that”.
“I should have said it sooner”, Erik replies, realising that now he has started it’s like he cannot stop. “I should have apologised to you years ago. Verdammt, I should never have been so rude to you in the first place”.
“It’s okay…” Charles replies, drawing his knees up to his chest where he sits on the deckchair and folding his arms across them. The jumper Charles is wearing is too big for him, making him seem small and vulnerable, and prompting a predictable surge of protectiveness within Erik’s heart.
“I… I get it”, Charles continues. “I know what you were going through back then, with your father, and I know it’s not the same, that I can never fully understand, but I’ve had some experience with grief- I know how it can make you do and say things that you don’t really mean. Well, that’s not to say you didn’t mean them, just perhaps that you didn’t mean to say them out loud…”
“I didn’t mean them”, Erik interrupts. “Charles, truly- I never meant a single hurtful word I said to you. And I don’t expect it and I know I don’t really deserve it, but I really hope that one day you will be able to forgive me”.
Erik doesn’t really expect a response, particularly one that comes so quickly, but he has barely finished speaking before Charles replies: “I forgive you”, and with those words it’s like the remaining years of weight are lifted from Erik’s soul.
Not long after that Erik and Charles return to their accommodation, and as Erik walks with Charles he wishes that one or both of their mothers were present at that moment, so it would give him an excuse to reach over to hold Charles’ hand.
When they arrive back in their living quarters it is the same routine as the night before- Charles uses the bathroom first, and by the time Erik has had his turn Charles is safely tucked up in bed. As Erik slips beneath the sheets Charles is looking at him, and he flashes Erik a small, sleepy smile as Erik settles down beside him.
“Good night, Erik”, Charles says quietly.
Erik has never wanted to kiss him more.
“Good night… Liebling…”
Chapter 8: Charles
Charles has become accustomed to feeling confused when it comes to Erik. There are moments, here and there, when Erik will smile, or offer a thoughtful word, or show some semblance of affection, and for a brief, fleeting moment Charles can allow himself to believe that Erik might really be interested in him. But, sadly, it never seems to last.
The long afternoon when Erik avoids Charles is the most difficult to handle. Charles spends his time in a spa with Raven, undergoing various treatments that are designed to help him relax, but that do nothing to alleviate the stress he’s feeling. Charles knows that Erik is avoiding him, that there’s a reason why he elected to go to the gym alone rather than to spend time together, and it reaffirms everything Charles has ever feared about how Erik feels about him.
Charles just wanted to show his gratitude towards Erik for defending him; deciding to break the promise he made all those years ago to briefly enter Erik’s mind and show him thanks. Charles didn’t linger long enough to get any sense of how Erik felt about it at the time, but his behaviour afterwards made it all too clear.
By the time Charles is walking along the deck towards Erik he knows how wrong it was to betray Erik’s trust like that, and can’t help but feel even more guilty about having used his telepathy to discern Erik’s location, but he needed to know that Erik was safe, that Erik was alright, and Charles tells himself he will just speak to Erik for a brief second and then he’ll leave him alone.
As it happens, it doesn’t quite work out that way. Before long, Charles finds himself sat on a deckchair next to Erik, listening intently as Erik says almost everything Charles has ever wanted to hear- how he’s sorry, how he didn’t mean what he said, how he wants Charles to forgive him. Charles does, of course- in truth he has never really blamed Erik, and the brief moment they share after Charles says the words is enough to warm his heart, and make him hope again.
For the next few days Charles finds himself really enjoying his holiday with Erik, and though Charles still knows that this charade they have constructed cannot last forever, there is a part of him that now believes there is a chance they might at least be able to be friends afterwards.
In the daytime the cruise ship docks in ports along the coastline, enabling its passengers to venture onto land to see the local attractions. Charles spends each occasion by Erik’s side, smiling up at him adoringly in a display that he pretends is just for the people watching, when really it is for himself.
Occasionally Charles looks away from the captivating sight of Erik to find Raven watching them both; an expression on her face of barely concealed judgement. Charles knows that his sister disapproves of his involvement with Erik, but it is hard to care when Charles is standing so close to Erik that he can feel the heat of Erik’s body making him warm all along one side, when the merest sound of Erik’s voice is enough to stir feeling deep within Charles’ heart.
Erik has taken to calling Charles ‘Liebling’, and though Charles knows the endearment is given purely for the benefit of the people listening, he can’t help but think back to the first time Erik said it, when they were alone in bed together. Charles cannot allow himself to hope for too much, but in some ways that moment seemed like a real turning point, almost like the start of something sincere.
Of course, although Charles may be feeling hopeful when it comes to the situation with Erik, not everyone is quite so supportive…
“How long are you planning to keep this up?” Raven asks, raising her eyebrows at Charles before taking another sip of her cocktail.
At first Charles can’t tear his eyes away from where he is watching Erik, amused and charmed by the sight of Edie insisting Erik try on multiple different hats so that she can buy him one to prevent sunburn. Erik doesn’t really have anything to worry about in that regard- his skin is as tanned and as flawless as it ever was, in comparison to Charles who seems to favour two forms- pale or burnt, but that doesn’t stop Edie from trying. She stands on her tiptoes as she attempts to plonk yet another monstrous hat on Erik’s head, made near impossible by the fact that he towers over her.
Charles watches the scene with an expression of delight on his face, before he brings his attention back to Raven once again.
“What’s up, sis? You don’t think we’re being convincing?”
“Oh, I think you’re very convincing”, Raven replies coolly. “And perhaps that’s the problem. Charles… You’re clearly completely besotted with Erik… How can you bear to pretend to be with him when it’s all a lie? Doesn’t it hurt?”
Charles shrugs, knowing that Raven is right, that it does hurt, but also knowing that being with Erik, even if it’s all pretend, is still the happiest Charles has ever been.
“I’m fine…” Charles lies, giving Raven what he hopes is a convincing smile. “Look, I accepted a long time ago that I would never be able to have Erik in quite the way I want, so I’m just happy to have him as a friend if that’s all I can get”.
“But are you sure? Not about what you’re doing, I mean, but about you not being able to have Erik in the way you want. Have you thought about talking to him about it- seeing if maybe he would want to date for real?”
Charles scoffs. “Raven, come on… There’s no way--”
“God, Charles, why are you so stubborn?” Raven says, rolling her eyes. “Look, I’ve been trying not to bring this up again because you clearly don’t want to listen to me, but I think you could be wrong about Erik. I think there could really be something there”.
“Yes, Charles! You need to get your head out of your ass and look at what’s right in front of you, before it passes you by. I’ve seen the way Erik stares at you when he thinks you’re not looking. There’s something there- I’m telling you, I’ve seen it”.
What Raven is saying is hopeful, and reassuring, and seemingly everything Charles wants to hear, but the only problem is Charles has heard it all before. There was a time, many years ago, when Charles and Raven had this conversation for the first time, when Raven told a despondent, love-struck, fifteen-year-old Charles that she could see more in Erik’s indifference than Charles could. But she was wrong, and Charles was left crushed by the realisation- a tangible pain that he still remembers with crystal clarity to this day.
“Raven…” Charles says quietly, not wanting to upset Raven but at the same time needing to put her in her place, needing her to understand that what she’s saying has the power to hurt, not help. “I know you’re only trying to make me feel better, but please don’t. I know where I stand with Erik, and I really don’t need you interfering and making me feel confused”.
“Charles, I’m only trying to help you…”
“I know, love, I know. But please- just let it go”.
For a short while Raven just stares at Charles, annoyance evident in the drawn lines of her expression, and then she lets out a huff of annoyance and downs the rest of her cocktail, before sliding off her stool and walking away from Charles.
For the next day and a half Raven continues to be slightly distant towards Charles, spending the majority of her time on her phone or reading a book or, at one point, smiling and laughing with a familiar looking red-skinned gentleman… Charles is sure he remembers seeing the same person on the flight over, but how the man has managed to get on the cruise ship when Charles didn’t see him board at the start of the trip, Charles has no idea.
Either way, Charles is content to just let Raven do her own thing, as her avoidance frees up Charles’ time to spend it with Erik. Most days they are side-by-side, spending leisurely days seeing the sights or sitting together by the pool or engaging in the lengthy chess games which go on far longer than either of them realise. It warms Charles’ heart to think that he and Erik now seem almost like friends, and he only hopes the closeness will continue once the holiday is over.
When Charles and Erik sleep at night they are closer than ever, something else that gives Charles hope. Normally Charles is a very heavy sleeper, pretty much dead to the world as soon as his head hits the pillow, but next to Erik Charles finds himself waking often, perhaps something to do with the feeling of Erik’s body so close to his own that makes Charles’ heart race and stirs him from sleep.
Most times Charles wakes as he registers Erik shifting on the mattress beside himself, occasionally inhaling a deep breath as he feels Erik’s arm or leg brush against his back in the night, but such moments are always fleeting and Charles always falls back to sleep before long. However, there is one occasion when Charles wakes for an entirely different reason, and suddenly sleep is the furthest thing from his mind…
The day has been a particularly hot one with temperatures soaring in the late afternoon, and even though the air conditioning has done something to cool the room, Charles has still gone to bed wearing just a t-shirt and boxer shorts. Beside himself Erik is similarly attired, knowledge that makes Charles yearn to turn over to look at him, but he remains lying on his side as he attempts to sleep.
It is dim in the room as Charles awakens, feeling hotter than when he went to bed and wondering for a moment if the air conditioning has stopped working. But then he registers a warm presence pressed up against his back, and Charles knows it’s not the temperature in the room that has changed…
Lying next to Charles, so close that they are practically entwined, is Erik. Charles’ eyes snap open and his heart races as he realises he can feel Erik’s breath on the back of his neck and Erik’s hand on his waist and, oh god, Erik’s hard cock firmly pressed against his ass. Charles’ breath shudders as he shifts his hips just slightly, involuntarily, and Erik moves with him- snuggling closer to the lines of Charles’ body, causing Charles to groan out loud.
Though Charles is trying to be quiet he just can’t help it. After so long of thinking about Erik, wanting him, needing him Charles is rocked by just how close they are at last, and he can’t help but shift his arse back against Erik, moaning quietly at the feeling of Erik’s thick length pushing against his buttocks. Charles has always known Erik is very well-endowed, but knowing it and feeling it are two entirely different things, and all of the fevered fantasies Charles has indulged himself in are nothing compared to this, particularly as this is not just some imaginary Erik that Charles holds within his mind, it’s a very real Erik who breathes and moves and moans, gripping Charles’ hip with his hand and pushing his cock more firmly against Charles’ ass.
After that, to Charles it’s like things move very quickly. He barely has time to wonder if Erik is actually awake before Erik is sliding the palm of one large hand along Charles’ stomach- the gentle caress making Charles shiver and writhe on the mattress, the bedsheets tangling around Charles’ feet as he kicks them down. Charles lets out a heady groan, deepened when Erik nudges his face against the back of Charles’ neck, placing clumsy kisses there that prompt a stir of feeling deep within Charles’ chest.
More than ever, Charles is desperate to have Erik touch him. Between Charles’ legs his cock is quickly filling, spurred on by the closeness of Erik’s body and the gentle caress of his hand as he draws his fingers slowly up Charles’ stomach, his thumb rubbing against Charles’ nipple and making Charles turn his face into the pillow to moan. In truth, Charles is not sure what he wants more- to feel Erik’s cock or have Erik touch Charles’ own, but as it turns out Charles is fortunate enough to receive both.
Initially, Erik’s hand moves swiftly southward, sliding into Charles’ boxer shorts and at first bypassing Charles’ cock to grasp his balls, holding them and palming them gently with one hand as Charles practically cries out in mutual relief and frustration. The touch is like torture, as Charles knows his cock is achingly hard now and he wants so badly for Erik to touch it, but at the same time what Erik is doing feels so good that Charles wouldn’t dare change a thing. Erik’s mouth trails along Charles’ neck, lips and tongue brushing against Charles’ skin and making Charles squirm as he pushes back further against Erik’s crotch, rewarded when Erik transfers his hand to grasp Charles’ boxer shorts, pulling them down swiftly until they are almost at Charles’ knees.
Erik moves away and there is some further fumbling behind Charles’ back before Erik shifts forward once more, and Charles is almost overcome at the feeling of Erik’s bare cock brushing against his buttocks. Just the warmth of Erik, the scent, the touch of him is intoxicating, surrounding Charles as Erik moves closer, wrapping his arms around fully to pull Charles back against his body. Erik holds Charles as he begins to rock his hips forward, rubbing his member against Charles ass, his breath starting to come in deep shudders, hot against Charles’ neck.
“Erik…” Charles whispers, barely able to offer up much more than that worshipful sound. It feels so good to have Erik so close, and Charles is almost certain that this is heaven- just the feeling of Erik’s body pressed against his own, and Erik’s arms wrapped around his chest making Charles feel warm and safe. It’s what Charles has wanted for so long, and whilst he doesn’t understand why he has it now, whilst he cannot so much as guess what Erik is thinking or feeling, regardless Charles is just happy to have the moment while it lasts.
Charles would happily spend a lifetime in Erik’s arms, not conducting pursuit of his own pleasure just simply allowing Erik to take what he needs. In truth, Charles has always tried to be what Erik wants, but he gave up hope of guessing exactly what that was when they were little more than children. If Charles had realised that this is what Erik wanted, this closeness, this intimacy, then he knows he would have spent a lot less time talking to Erik and a lot more time offering to bring Erik off with his mouth.
In truth, that’s something Charles wants very desperately. Since his fevered fantasies at the poolside Charles has been unable to get the idea of Erik’s cock out of his smutty head, and he almost desperately wants to roll over to look at it, to look at Erik- his body, his face, all of him. But Erik is holding Charles so tightly he cannot move if he wanted to, and he can do little more than breathe quickly and moan quietly as one of Erik’s hands trails round to Charles’ buttocks, pushing them slightly apart so Erik can slide his cock more firmly along the space between. Charles swallows down a yelp as the head of Erik’s cock brushes against his hole, wondering for a moment if Erik is going to attempt to push inside, but he does little more than hold Charles and rub against him; the feeling dizzying and intense.
Well, in truth Erik does do a bit more than just that. Just when Charles is starting to feel like he could come from little more than the feeling of Erik’s member firmly brushing against his ass, Erik slides his hand round to Charles’ stomach, his thumb trailing soft circles against Charles’ belly. Part of Charles is not able to hope for too much given all the things he has wanted from Erik but never received, but then Erik’s fingertips move lower, and one large hand wraps fully around Charles’ cock, causing Charles to groan as his hips rock involuntarily into Erik’s hand, smearing Erik’s fingers with pre-come.
“Mein Gott, Charles…” Erik murmurs, the words so hushed Charles barely hears them. Charles would offer up some utterance in response, but in the next second Erik begins to stroke Charles’ cock, and the most Charles can manage is some frantic moaning. Erik’s grip is sure and strong, his hand sliding leisurely up and down Charles’ shaft, topped off with a curl of Erik’s thumb over the head of Charles’ cock which makes Charles’ knees feel weak each time. Charles is somewhat grateful that he’s lying down as he’s sure his legs out give out were he standing, and as it is Charles’ body is completely supported by Erik’s sure weight at his back as Erik continues to thrust against Charles’ arse.
For someone who is so used to connecting with others mentally, Charles finds the experience of being intimate with Erik without touching his mind to be both elating and frustrating. On the one hand, being more physically present than mentally enables Charles to fully experience every touch from Erik, every clumsy kiss pressed to the back of Charles’ neck, every lengthy stroke of his cock. But at the same time Charles can’t help but feel like something is missing, as though Erik is right there he feels so far away, like he has placed himself behind high walls that Charles cannot hope to break through. There is a moment, desperate and fleeting, when Charles considers lowering the shields of his telepathy to gently brush against Erik’s mind, to attempt to understand what Erik is thinking and feeling. But at the same time Charles does not wish to do anything to risk upsetting Erik once more, not when the hold Charles has on him is so tenuous and so fragile.
And so, Charles remains where he is, soft and yielding in Erik’s arms as Erik continues to thrust against him, mirroring each roll of his hips with a stroke of Charles’ cock. Part of Charles is determined to hold out, to let this moment with Erik linger while it lasts, but the pressure building in the base of his cock is too intense and too heady, and before Charles knows it he is crying out and coming over Erik’s hand. Erik keeps stroking Charles through it, drawing wave after wave of pleasure from Charles as his cock spurts across Erik’s fingers, until Erik’s moans and shudders become deep and guttural and Charles’ face heats at the feeling of Erik’s come swiftly covering his backside.
Though Charles is still trying his best to practise restraint, the experience of climaxing with Erik is so sensual and so profound that Charles finds his walls eroding just a little, just enough to feel Erik’s mind next to his own. It’s the type of psyche Charles could lose himself in; a thoughtful and organised mind, capable of greater levels of compassion and sentiment than perhaps Erik himself is even aware of. But whilst Erik’s mind has always felt like that on the very few occasions when Charles has touched it previously, this time it is more like organised chaos- a swirling stream of lust and desire and pleasure, so intense it takes Charles’ breath away. In an instant the physical space of the room they’re in slips entirely from Charles’ mind, replaced by nothing more than the incandescent colours of Erik’s mentality, and a feeling of bliss and contentment.
It seems like Erik’s hold is the only thing keeping Charles grounded, his arms wrapped around Charles’ waist like a secure, comforting band. Charles knows he should be entangling himself from the embrace, cleaning himself off, probably talking to Erik to try and establish what the fuck has just happened, but when Charles already feels like he is in the midst of some kind of strange, wonderful dream, it’s hard not to give in.
And that’s exactly what happens. Charles doesn’t even register the fact that his eyes are now closed, or that his breathing is slowing down or that his mind is becoming fuzzy and muddled, and before he knows it he is asleep once more.
Chapter 9: Erik
When Erik dreams, he often dreams of Charles.
Over the past decade or more Erik has often pictured Charles behind his closed eyelids, his face bright and stunning, his words kind and thoughtful. Erik has never really needed to use his imagination to conjure up pleasant thoughts of Charles given that almost every interaction with him has been courteous in nature, at least from Charles’ side. But during the past week, whilst Erik has been on the cruise ship with Charles, he finds he has even more images of Charles to work with- all the times when Charles has looked at Erik or smiled sweetly at him or called him ‘darling’.
When Erik dreams he sees the same things that have already happened, only this time Charles means it when he addresses Erik by an endearment, he means it when he praises Erik in front of both of their mothers, he means it when he sits beside Erik and rests his head against Erik’s shoulder. Every touch and word from Charles is no longer the construct of an illusion, a necessary sacrifice in order to keep their secret safe. They are really in a relationship, Charles is really Erik’s boyfriend, Erik really has Charles in his arms.
Of course, on the night Erik awakens to find that Charles really is in his arms, for a while Erik assumes he is still dreaming. Against Erik’s front is a warm, solid weight; a weight that shifts closer to him- lush buttocks pushing against Erik’s cock as Erik moves closer in turn. It’s the same fantasy Erik has had every night he has slept next to Charles, and Erik’s response is predictable as he nudges his face against the back of Charles’ neck and kisses him there.
But then… Then Erik realises what’s actually happening. His eyes snap open as he registers the fact that this is not some fevered fantasy, it’s reality- Charles really is there in front of Erik, Erik really is rubbing his clothed cock against Charles’ arse. For a moment Erik is so dumbstruck and so horrified he doesn’t really know what to do, and he considers just abruptly rolling away and hoping that Charles is still asleep, and perhaps running from the room if it becomes apparent that Charles is not. But then Charles moans. The sound is like music to Erik’s ears, and it allows him to remain where he is as he tentatively places further kisses to the back of Charles’ neck, emboldened when Charles moans once more.
In spite of the obvious and encouraging signs Erik is still hesitant when he slips his hand into Charles’ boxer shorts- not going straight for the prize, as it were, and instead deciding to delay the initiation of any real act of intimacy, perhaps in further fear of rebuttal. But to Erik’s obvious delight every touch is met with a noise of encouragement from Charles, and before long Erik decides he will just embrace the unexpected and wonderful situation he finds himself in completely, and try not to worry about when it might end.
And so, Erik holds Charles and touches him and kisses his neck and rocks against him, and in the moment when they both come Erik is astonished to feel the barest ebb of Charles’ mind, like Charles is using his telepathy to reach out for him. It’s beautiful and bright and wonderful, and Erik can’t help but close his eyes and just absorb the feeling- the delicate touch that makes him feel warm and safe, that feels rather like home.
By the time Erik is holding Charles in his arms, cock slowly softening against Charles’ arse, any thoughts of how and why are the furthest thing from his mind, replaced by pure bliss and contentment. Charles is quiet and still with his face turned into the pillow, and though Erik knows he should likely be getting up, for a while he just wants to stay where he is, and to keep Charles in his arms like he has wanted for so long.
As it turns out, it is not quite as long as Erik would like...
When Erik awakes the warm weight against his chest is gone, replaced by cool air and the realisation that he is alone. Erik’s eyes snap open as he looks around the bedroom, hoping to be comforted by the noise of water running in the nearby bathroom or perhaps the sight of Charles across the room getting his clothes ready for the day, but it is deathly quiet and the low light coming through the window tells Erik that it is still very early.
Charles never gets up early- most mornings he is drawn from bed begrudgingly by Erik gently squeezing his shoulder, and even then he is always reluctant to begin the day until Erik has made a cup of tea to rouse him. The fact that Charles has apparently decided to rise early on this particular morning is immensely troubling, and Erik’s stomach drops as he considers what it might mean.
As Erik slowly sits upright in bed the only evidence that Charles was ever there at all is the rumpled bedsheets before Erik, the faint scent of Charles on the pillows, and the tacky sensation on Erik’s fingers. All factors confirm to Erik the fact that this was not just some fevered daydream, but in a way that’s worse because it means Charles really was here and now he really is gone. Though Erik has no way of knowing what last night was to Charles he at least hoped it meant something, perhaps the start of something tangible, something real. But as Erik sits there alone, heart aching like he has suffered a sudden loss, he quickly realises that any hopes he may have harboured with it comes to his ‘relationship’ with Charles were nothing but foolish dreams.
It is with resignation that Erik clambers out of the bed and slowly walks over to the adjoining bathroom, still harbouring a small hope that will he at least find a note from Charles or some other explanation, but there is nothing. Erik absently turns on the shower with his powers and steps inside, not even waiting for the water to warm up, but a soon as the icy blast hits Erik’s skin he suddenly experiences a moment of awakening, and terror.
Last night, Erik had thought it was a dream at first. He remembers holding Charles and nudging against him even before he was even fully awake, and in such a bleary state Erik knows it would have been easy for him to misread the signs, or perhaps to see things that weren’t really there…
What if Charles had been asleep too? What if he’d been unconscious when Erik had started touching him? What if he had stayed unconscious? Or worse, what if he’d awoken to find Erik groping him, and he’d been too scared to tell him to stop? Erik knows that Charles is a remarkably powerful telepath, that his abilities mean he holds an unparalleled defence against anyone who might try to harm him, but Erik also knows that Charles is sweet and kind, and that it’s possible that Charles could have kept quiet instead of stopping Erik, in order to keep the peace.
As Erik stands in the shower it’s like all of the air has left his lungs, leaving him gasping for breath. To think that he might have hurt Charles is intolerable, and Erik knows he will never be able to live with himself should his fears become founded. For that reason, there’s a large part of Erik that wants to just run away, that considers using his powers to propel himself from the cruise ship on magnetic fields, but deep down he knows that wouldn’t really solve anything. Perhaps the only thing to do is to make amends, or at least attempt to, but for Erik to do that first he will have to actually find Charles…
The shower that Erik takes that morning is quick and efficient, and before long he is briskly pulling on some clothes and venturing outside. Erik knows immediately where to start in his search for Charles, and he turns and begins to walk down the corridor in the direction of Raven’s room. However, as Erik prepares to round the corner he hears hushed voices, and he pauses briefly before leaning out into the corridor to see who it is he’s overhearing.
It’s not Charles, like Erik expected, instead it’s a man who stands with his back to Erik, a man who looks very familiar, a man with dark black hair and bright red skin. As Erik watches the man steps to the side and someone else moves out into the corridor, someone Erik instantly recognises despite having only seen her like this once before.
Erik has always favoured Raven’s true blue form. He has only seen it once previously, back when they were little more than children, though Erik is sure that Raven didn’t really mean for that side of herself to be seen, that it was more likely the result of a lapse in concentration. Nevertheless, Erik has told Raven on more than once occasion since that she shouldn’t hide her mutation, though she has never listened, and after meeting Charles’ mother, the woman whose house Raven grew up in, he now understands why.
Still, there is something captivating about seeing Raven like this now- so unselfconscious and relaxed, like a tiger at play, and Erik finds he can’t help but smile as he lingers and watches her. Of course, in the moment Raven stands up on her tiptoes to wrap her arms around the mysterious red stranger, Raven immediately spots Erik and startles.
“Erik, what the fuck? Stalker much??” Raven hisses, disentangling herself from her companion and backing away with her arms folded defensively across her chest.
The red mutant at Raven’s side turns towards Erik and flashes him a suspicious and rather territorial expression, and Erik has to fight an urge to bare his teeth in response, considering he can practically feel the animosity coming off this man in waves. But before anything untoward can happen Raven is grasping the man’s arm with one hand, squeezing lightly as she looks up at him beseechingly.
“Azazel, please”, Raven says. “Don’t worry- Erik isn’t a threat”.
Erik isn’t sure that’s entirely true, particularly given he has come to think of Raven as like a little sister, one that he would fiercely protect. But still, Erik can sense that now is not the time for a show of testosterone, and so he breaks the glare himself and Azazel are currently locked in, and moves to lean against the wall as he waits for an opportunity to speak to Raven.
It happens sooner than Erik would have thought. In one moment Raven is talking to Azazel, hushed little murmurs that seem intimate and secret, and make Erik long for what he wants to have with Charles. Then, after a quick kiss that Erik pretends not to see and parting words of: “Goodbye, lisichka” from Azazel, there is a small popping sound a burst of displaced air, and to Erik’s surprise the man is gone.
“A teleporter?” Erik asks, slightly awed.
Raven nods proudly. “Yep. How else did you think he got on this ship?”
Erik can’t help but grin at that, and finds himself warmed when Raven mirrors the expression. Of course, the moment only lasts a short while before Raven’s smile slips and her eyes go wide, and she suddenly looks down at herself like she’s just remembered what she looks like. Erik is unsurprised when Raven immediately transforms into her ‘human’ self, the epitome of normality complete with neat pyjamas, but he is certainly disappointed.
“You shouldn’t hide away like that”, Erik says before he can help himself.
“Pah”, Raven scoffs. “That’s easy for you to say- not all of us are so lucky to have mutations that can be so easily concealed. It’s something I’ve tried to explain to Charles more than once but he doesn’t seem to get it, and you seem to get it even less- for completely different reasons, I bet”.
“You know Charles means well…”
“Yes, just like I know he doesn’t really understand what it’s like to be different. Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s had it hard on account of the fact that he’s a telepath, particularly as his mother has made no secret of the fact that she’s always been disgusted by his powers, but it’s not like Charles has ever had to hide”.
“What are you talking about…?” Erik asks carefully, feeling an intense need to protect Charles begin to build within himself. “Charles hides all the time. He keeps his telepathy away from me, from you, from his mother, from anyone who has ever expressed negative feelings towards his powers. He tries so hard to be kind, to be considerate, without really considering whether he might be hurting himself in the process. That’s just who Charles is”.
Raven immediately opens her mouth like she is going to offer countenance, but whatever it is dies on her lips as she clamps her mouth shut once more and leans back against the doorframe of her room, eyes focused unwaveringly on Erik. For a while she seems to be looking at Erik in consideration, like some form of appraisal, but eventually she speaks once more.
“You seem to know an awful lot about Charles…” Raven says slowly.
Erik feels his heart leap into his throat, unsure of whether Raven is testing him or whether she actually really knows something.
“Why wouldn’t I? He’s my boyfriend…”
The flicker of incredulity that immediately flickers over Raven’s face tells Erik everything he needs to know.
“Erik…” Raven says slowly, and Erik knows the game is up.
It’s pointless arguing with her, or pretending that his relationship with Charles is something that it’s not, so instead Erik decides to refocus on the mission that brought him here in the first place- locating Charles.
“Have you seen him?” Erik asks hopefully, moving to look past Raven into her living quarters. Given she was just in there with Azazel, Erik doesn’t really expect that Charles will actually be inside, but it’s desperate hope that makes him linger for a moment, hoping that Raven will put him out of his misery.
“No, Charles isn’t here... Erik, it’s 6 o’clock in the morning- why isn’t Charles in your room with you?”
Erik doesn’t know how to answer that, not without confessing everything that happened and giving Raven a serious need to find some brain bleach to wash away the information about her brother’s sex life. But at the same time Erik really really wishes he had someone to talk to about this, someone who understands what is actually going on, someone whose opinion he values.
Erik half expects Raven to tell him to go away, to continue his silly charade with Charles and leave her in peace, but to Erik’s surprise Raven gives Erik one last considered look that suggests she can read at least some part of the torment in Erik’s expression, before she sighs and steps to the side.
“I think you’d better come in…”
For the initial portion of his meeting with Raven, Erik doesn’t know what to say. Over the past week Erik has found Raven to be surprisingly easy to talk to, but the situation is so different now and Erik can’t pick up the words to show them to her- his hands feel far too clumsy. Instead Erik sits on the sofa in Raven’s room, fingers clasped together as he stares down at his feet.
“Are you sure Charles isn’t here…?” Erik says glumly.
There is a snort of derision in response, and Erik looks up to regard Raven casually lounging in an armchair, looking at him haughtily.
“Erik, come on... Do you think I’m hiding Charles in my shower or something? Or perhaps I’ve stuffed him into a suitcase? Jesus Christ, Erik- I just had Azazel in here with me, do you really think I’d let Charles watch us? I’m not that kinky…”
Erik can’t help but smile at her words, and the expression lifts his mood just a little. But quickly Erik remembers Charles and what happened earlier, and instantly he is despondent again and once more shifts his gaze to regard the floor.
“Erik, what’s wrong?” Raven asks with surprisingly gentleness. “Look, I know you’re usually somewhat of a sauerkraut at the best of times, but you seem especially miserable today. Did something happen with you and Charles?”
Erik shrugs, and god does he feel pathetic. For needing comfort, for needing reassurance. But it has been so long now that Erik has been stuck in this stupid situation that he put himself in, with absolutely no one to talk to about it. Even now Erik fears fully speaking out, as there’s a good chance that whatever he says will just be reported back to Charles by Raven, and wouldn’t that be just fucking hilarious- for Charles to hear that the sad, isolated boy he always pitied in school has a crush on him. Erik feels sick to so much as consider it.
“Nothing happened”, Erik says quietly. “I’m just… I’m just getting frustrated with keeping up the impression of this fake relationship; of having to pretend all the time”.
“Are you sure that’s what you’re doing?” Raven asks softly.
Erik lifts his head to regard Raven, finding himself rocked by the tacit compassion and sympathy in her eyes. In that moment she looks so much like Charles, Erik would be convinced that they were blood relatives had he not already known that Raven was adopted.
Heart pounding in his chest, Erik replies: “What else would I be doing?”, and the response he receives soon has him almost completely floored.
“Erik, I know everyone says Charles is the smart one in the family, but in some ways he is so fucking dumb it’s ridiculous. When it comes to understanding other people and reading their body language he’s completely clueless- like he is so used to having his telepathy to tell him what others are thinking and feeling that he can’t pick up on the simple clues in a facial expression or a gesture. I know he struggles with you, just like he struggled with me. I know he has a hard time figuring out what you think and what you mean, but I don’t. It may seem like I’m overly cautious when it comes to using my mutation, that I keep it under wraps all the time, but that’s not entirely true. I’m constantly watching others, studying them so I can copy their mannerisms and body language, so I can figure out what it all means in order to pull off the perfect mimicry. I can read people, Erik, and I’ve been reading you for years. I wasn’t completely sure when we were at school- so much of your behaviour made me think I was wrong- but over this past week, seeing you on this ship every day, I know I’m right. Your actions don’t seem like the behaviour of someone trying to act like they care for someone in order to maintain the illusion of a fake relationship. They seem like the actions of someone very, very much in love”.
In the immediate moments after Raven has finished speaking, when there is nothing but static silence in the air, Erik tries to tell himself Raven is wrong, that there is no way she has figured out something that Erik has been unable to deduce for years. But there, in the space between one breath and the next, Erik realises, and for the first time he knows that the crystallising ache he feels in his chest is, and has always been, love- the pain of wanting someone that you cannot have.
“I…” Erik starts, quickly running out of words to follow up, and leaning over to rest his head in his hands as he hears Raven get up from the armchair and walk over to him. The sofa dips as she sits down on it, and then she is gently rubbing the palm of one hand against Erik’s back, the gesture soft and soothing.
“You’re lucky Charles is so dumb…” Raven says. “He of course has no idea how you feel, but if I were you Erik I would seriously consider talking to him about it- preferably whilst I’m still young…”
“I can’t…” Erik grumbles, the sound muffled by his hands. “After the way I’ve treated Charles in the past there’s no way he’ll be interested in me…”
“Oh, Erik…” Raven replies, amusement evident in her voice. “Clearly you idiots are made for each other- you’re both equally stupid…”
As Erik later walks back to his room he can’t help but consider all the things Raven has just said. Though she never told Erik anything particularly noteworthy in the end (claiming that ‘brother/sister confidentiality’ meant that she couldn’t disclose Charles’ secrets) Erik still found he ended up feeling more optimistic than before. He stayed with Raven for close to an hour, just talking to her about Charles and getting her advice on how to approach him, before heading off to search the ship once more. The venture was fruitless, and by the time Erik is unlocking his door he is at least hopeful that Charles is inside once more, and that time has given Erik the sense to be able to communicate himself to Charles properly.
Of course, as Erik opens the door and finds Charles sat on the bed, the hope wanes…
Charles is sat cross-legged on the mattress, a tray beside him upon which are several items of uneaten breakfast food. He is dressed in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, and he doesn’t look up at first, he just continues to stare down at his lap, absently pulling at the hem of his clothing. But then, as Erik closes the door, Charles lifts his head, and the expression on his face is like an icy punch to Erik’s heart.
Charles looks soft and hopeless and forlorn, his eyes large and sad and deep with feeling as he stares over at Erik like he is searching for something. He sniffles as Erik approaches, reaching up to wipe his face with the back of his hand, and as Erik nears the bed he tries to remember all those clever ideas Raven had about what he was supposed to say…
Chapter 10: Charles
After spending so many years thinking about Erik, wanting him, needing him, Charles assumes that the morning after they have finally been intimate will be one of the best of his life. However, as Charles later sits alone on the bed in their living quarters, crushed and dejected, he realises that he was foolish to dream…
When he awoke earlier that morning Charles had been so excited, so hopeful. He had awakened to find Erik’s body still pressed against his own, the two of them wonderfully intertwined like Charles had wanted for so long, and though Charles had wanted to just lie there and stay with Erik, after a week of Erik waking Charles up with a cup of tea each morning Charles was determined to return the favour. And so, he had quietly slipped from bed, taken a brief shower, and gotten dressed, before leaving the room in search of breakfast.
Of course, by the time Charles had returned to the room he’d found that Erik was gone, and any optimism he’d had soon quickly dissipated.
As Charles sits on the bed, the untouched breakfast tray on the mattress next to him, he feels a crushing weight in his chest as he thinks about Erik. Though Charles still doesn’t know why it happened he had at least presumed that last night with Erik had meant something, but now Charles sees that he was wrong. It was simply the culmination of a week of tension, that’s all. Charles could have been any faceless body for Erik to get off against and it would have happened all the same- it wasn’t that Erik actually wanted Charles specifically, he just wanted to come.
But what’s worse is the secondary thought Charles has- the idea that maybe he’s wrong, that maybe for one fleeting moment Erik really did want him, but then Charles had gone and fucked it all up. Charles remembers lying next to Erik, experiencing the heady rush of climax, feeling the walls of his telepathy slowly erode in Erik’s presence allowing him to gently encroach on Erik’s mind. Of course Erik would have been appalled by that- he has never held Charles’ mutation in any high regard- and Charles should have known better than to violate Erik by breaking his trust again.
Charles can’t help but despair as he sits on the bed, thinking about Erik and wanting desperately to reach out to find him, but knowing that would only makes things worse. He wonders where Erik is, what he’s doing, how he’s feeling, but most of all Charles wonders how he is even going to begin to apologise for what he did, assuming Erik ever speaks to him again.
By the time Charles registers the growing dampness on his cheeks he can’t help but feel completely pathetic, sitting there crying over Erik, the man he has wanted since the first day he laid eyes on him, the man who has never shown Charles any real indication that he is actually interested in return. Charles knows he should get up, wipe his face, attempt some kind of British stiff-upper-lip and deal with the situation, but he is so hurt and so forlorn for a while he finds that he cannot move.
It’s for that reason that Charles doesn’t even notice when the door opens, not until he hears the sound of it closing again and he looks up to find Erik looking down at him, an expression of quiet despair on his face as he approaches the bed. Charles can only imagine how terrible he must look, sitting there crying on the bed like a lovesick teenager, and he quickly begins to wipe his face with the back of his hand in an attempt to at least look some way presentable.
For all his wit and intelligence, Charles finds himself at a loss as to what to do next. As Erik steps closer Charles stares up at him, trying to read the intent in Erik’s expression, unable to determine whether it really is disdain Charles sees or whether he is just being paranoid. Erik isn’t saying anything, which isn’t unusual- Charles has become accustomed to Erik’s stoic silences, and usually finds them comfortable. But on this occasion Charles needs Erik to say something, anything, as long as it puts Charles out of misery. However, after a short while Charles gets tired of waiting, as he usually does, and so he opens his mouth to speak- exactly the same time as Erik does.
“Where were you?” they both ask in unison.
Charles blinks, confused as to why Erik would be asking him that. Surely Erik left the room to get away from Charles before he got back, so why would Erik want to know where Charles was?
“Um, I was getting us breakfast…” Charles says quietly, gesturing to the tray of food next to himself. “I thought it might be nice for me to return the favour for once”.
Erik looks like he is having difficulty understanding the situation. “That’s where you were? Getting food?”
“Well, yes… Where else would I have gone? And where were you?”
Immediately Erik’s eyes lower, and Charles laments even that small connection he has with Erik waning. He yearns to stand up from the bed to move nearer to Erik but he’s still unsure whether such closeness would be welcome, and so he can only sit there quietly and wait for a response. When it comes, it’s not what Charles was expecting.
“I thought you left me… I went out to look for you…”
Charles’ mouth parts as he stares over at Erik, heart aching at how vulnerable Erik looks. In that moment, more than any other before, Charles is reminded of the boy he once knew, the boy whose bitter words and defensive behaviour did nothing to diminish something what Charles had already realised- that they boy was kind, strong, and good, and that there was more to him than he knew.
Those words are ones that Charles has wanted to say to Erik before, held close by sealed lips and a fear of retribution, and more than once Charles has considered what it would be like to say the words aloud, and to see them make the impact he hopes they will on Erik. But those guarded, precious words remain hidden, like so much of Charles’ heart, and as he continues to watch Erik with caution Charles finds himself searching for a way to move forward with Erik without unsettling him.
“Would you like a drink?” Charles asks, clambering off the bed and trying not to shiver at the warmth he feels coming from Erik’s body as he passes him by.
At the side of the room there is a cupboard upon which is a kettle and provisions for making hot drinks, and Charles begins to prepare tea for himself and coffee for Erik, knowing Erik’s habits well enough by now to realise that he will not refuse. Preparing the drinks keeps Charles’ hands busy for at least a little while, but he finds that he cannot quieten his thoughts. Within his mind questions surge, curious and urgent, telling Charles that he should not just let what Erik just said fall into this space between them and remain unexplored.
“Why did you go looking for me?” Charles asks eventually, keeping his back towards Erik. “And why would you think that I ‘left you’?”
There is a long pause, and then Erik replies: “Because of what I did”.
The response prompts Charles to turn back around, and as he does so he finds Erik staring down at the ground, guilt and remorse written across his pensive face.
“What do you mean?” Charles says quietly. “What do you think you did exactly?”
“Charles, don’t make me say it… You know what I did. I shouldn’t have done that, I should have made sure you were completely aware of what was happening, I should have made sure you wanted it...”
“Hang on”, Charles replies, coming to a grim realisation. “Are you talking about what happened last night? What we did?”
Erik’s despondent expression tells Charles that he has guessed correctly.
“Erik, no!” Charles says emphatically, fighting an urge to step forward and wrap his arms around Erik. “Darling, no- please don’t think that. I was completely awake, I knew what you were doing, I liked what you were doing… Please don’t think that I didn’t want it because I did”.
At Charles’ words Erik finally lifts his head, and though his face is still slightly grim there is a hope in his eyes that warms Charles’ soul.
“You… You really didn’t leave because you thought I violated you?” Erik asks.
“Heavens, no! My god, Erik, I know you would never do that. I just… Gosh, I’m such a fool… I just thought it would be nice to get you breakfast and I didn’t really think you would be up before I got back, much less that you would go looking for me…”
Charles pauses for a moment, eyes narrowing as he looks at Erik.
“Where did you go anyway…?” he asks. “I was only gone for a short while, and if you’d gone upstairs then surely we would have passed each other somewhere along the way?”
“Ah, well, I actually spent a while with Raven in her room…”
“You were with Raven?” Charles frowns. “Why?”
“Well, I thought at first that you might have gone to her, but you weren’t there and then we just, uh, we just started to talk for a bit…”
Immediately Charles feels his mouth dry as he considers all the things Raven knows about him; all the things she could disclose to Erik. Though Charles undoubtedly knows he can trust Raven in most respects, on the other hand he can remember how determined she has been at times to meddle in his ‘relationship’ with Erik, and Charles fears what damage Raven might have done with the best possible intentions.
“Erik… What did Raven tell you…?” Charles asks slowly.
Charles can see Erik’s expression brighten at that, almost like he is pleased by something.
“You don’t have to worry, Charles- Raven is very loyal. She didn’t tell me anything really, she just suggested that I should maybe talk to you about… about us. She thought that maybe there was a chance you might be interested in discussing the situation, and perhaps seeing if there is any more to it”.
“Us…” Charles thinks dreamily, very much liking the sound of the word. But then his brain catches up to the rest of the sentence and his heart begins to pound and he finally understands that the game is up when Erik says slowly: “Charles… do you like me?”
It’s perhaps such an unnecessary question, given the sweaty activities of the previous evening, but part of Charles understands Erik’s need for confirmation. It’s the same kind of reassurance Charles desperately hopes to receive, but he knows that if he is to gain it then perhaps he might have to be the one to take the first step.
Outwardly Charles maintains his composure, just gazing at Erik as he leans back against the cupboard behind himself, the half-prepared drinks on the surface wilfully forgotten. Inside he is reeling. After so many years of keeping his feelings about Erik to himself now Charles is about to expose them, to the very person he has been so completely besotted with for over a decade. It’s a vulnerability so painful Charles feels like it might choke him, but he steadies his nerves and calms his breathing, until he softly says a single word: “Yes…”
In response there is a noticeable inhale from Erik, and his gaze is unwavering as he asks Charles: “Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
Only Erik could ask something so dense.
“Well… Because you were always so mean to me. All those years I assumed you hated me, that even though I knew you were a good person inside there was clearly something in me that disgusted you, and therefore I was sure that the idea of me wanting you would only make you hate me even more. I know things are better now we’re older, and that maybe you don’t dislike me quite as much you used to, but I also know that you were only spending time with me in order to keep your mother happy. But… But it feels like things have changed now, at least I hope things have been changed… Of course, I know I could be wrong. God Erik, please tell me I’m not wrong…”
For a while after Charles has finished speaking he knows he has never felt more fragile, like one unkind word could shatter him into a million pieces, and when Erik slowly smiles at him and replies: “Charles, you really are an idiot”, Charles feels it happen.
There’s a large part of Charles that wants to be a grown up about this, that wants to remain impassive and indifferent, but as soon as he hears Erik’s words he feels his face crumple as he tries to choke down the helpless sob that escapes his lips. It doesn’t work though, and instead Charles manages to make the sound into some kind of sad hiccup as he folds his arms protectively across his chest and drops his gaze, trying to hide from what hurts him.
Charles assumes, or perhaps hopes, that Erik will leave him alone after that. That Erik will have had his fun laughing at the poor sad boy who’s always had a crush on him, and he will be content to just drop the matter. But instead, to Charles’ surprise, Erik immediately inhales a sharp breath and steps closer, and then he is cupping Charles’ face with both hands and pressing his lips to Charles’ forehead, brow, nose, and cheeks over and over again, whilst Charles tries his best not to damn near faint at how close Erik suddenly is.
“I’m sorry, Liebling…” Erik murmurs in-between placing kisses. “I didn’t mean it like that. You’re not an idiot at all, it was just what Raven said- how we’re made for each other because we’re both stupid for not being able to see what’s right in front of us. And she’s right- we’re stupid, I’m so stupid…”
Charles feels like he is dreaming, warm and safe against Erik’s body, Erik’s mouth gently brushing against his skin in fervent kisses. On the one hand Charles has never felt so confused- this sudden shift making him feel completely unbalanced- but on the other he doesn’t really care for the reasons why because this is perfect, it’s ecstasy, it’s everything Charles has ever wanted. Of course, it cannot last forever, and as Charles’ hands reach up to gently grasp Erik’s waist Erik pulls back slightly, and as their eyes meet it’s like Erik has suddenly realised what he’s been doing.
“Sorry…” Erik murmurs, leaning back but thankfully still continuing to hold Charles’ face, almost like he is afraid to let go.
“Erik…” Charles says slowly, feeling like he needs to understand, feeling silly for being so obtuse but just needing an answer. “Erik, do you like me too?”
At that, Erik smiles, and god do Charles’ knees almost give out at the sight. Erik grins at Charles in that ridiculous way he does sometimes and Charles feels his heart soar, and then Erik is replying simply: “Yes” and Charles is grinning too and Erik is once again starting to place kisses to Charles’ forehead- slower this time, like he is allowing himself to take time with it. Charles knows there is still so much for them to discuss and so much that needs to be said, but when Erik’s mouth is moving lower and gently brushing against Charles’ cheek Charles finds that words can wait, and he is happy to slowly tilt his mouth towards Erik’s, and to allow a long-awaited kiss to say everything instead.
After all that Charles has fantasised about kissing Erik, he finds that his imagination has in no way prepared him for the real thing. Erik’s kisses are slow and sensual, making Charles’ nerve endings burn with desire, and prompting a predictable stir of arousal in Charles’ groin. Though a part of Charles feels like he should be embarrassed for getting turned on so quickly from little more than kissing, he finds it doesn’t matter when Erik is edging closer and his hard cock is pushing against Charles’ stomach and his tongue is sliding into Charles’ mouth, and Charles realises that clearly this is something Erik has been wanting for a long time too.
Of course, Charles doesn’t realise just quite how much Erik wants it, not until the point Erik’s hands move down to seize Charles around the waist and with surprising ease he hauls Charles upwards, manoeuvring Charles to sit on the cupboard behind himself and causing the drinks Charles was preparing earlier to slosh over the surface.
“Oh fuck, the tea!” Charles exclaims, breaking the kiss to reach to the side to hastily pick up the upended cups- an attempt hampered slightly by Erik diverting his attention to kissing Charles’ neck as he moves to stand in-between Charles’ legs.
“Charles, tell me what you’re thinking…”
“I’m thinking that this tea is going to leave a stain on the cupboard”.
Erik chuckles softly. “Charles, forget about the tea. Tell me what you’re thinking. Show me…”
At first Charles doesn’t initially understand what Erik is saying, not until the point he turns to face Erik once more and Erik grasps Charles’ head with both hands, stroking his fingers gently through Charles’ hair as he rests his forehead against Charles’ own.
“You mean…” Charles asks breathlessly, lifting one hand to press his fingers to Erik’s temple, and feeling surprised but pleased when Erik smiles and nods. This, like many other things, is something that Charles thinks they will need to discuss later- why Erik was so reluctant for Charles to use his power before when he’s seemingly so accepting of it now- but for now Charles thinks that clarification can wait, because just the thought of being able to feel Erik’s mind once more is so exciting and so intoxicating that Charles cannot think to delay.
As Charles lets out a delighted laugh and leans forward to capture Erik’s mouth with a kiss he fully lets down the walls of his telepathy and uses his powers to carefully encroach on Erik’s mind; full on groaning into Erik’s mouth as he registers the bright colours of Erik’s mentality- the strength, the warmth, the goodness. Charles holds onto Erik ardently, succumbing to the swirl of deep colours that feel to him like home, that feel like something old and familiar, but at the same time new and exciting, and clearly Erik is having a similar reaction given the way he is murmuring quietly in response.
Though Charles may be accustomed to controlling his telepathy, he soon finds that around Erik it is harder to maintain focus- particularly when they are kissing... Erik’s body is pressed snugly against Charles’ own, and Charles can’t help but run his hands over it and wonder what Erik looks like naked- something he has considered before an endless amount of times. Charles only realises Erik has heard the thought when he chuckles quietly and breaks the kiss just long enough to say: “You can find out if you want…”
Of all the ways Charles has imagined seeing Erik naked for the first time, he never thought it would be like this. Erik smiles and steps back a couple of paces, and then it is like he is performing some sort of striptease as he slowly begins to unbutton his shirt, exposing inch after inch of tanned flesh that Charles yearns to press his mouth to. Of course, things get particularly exciting when Erik has discarded his shirt and he turns his attention towards his trousers, and in a quick motion he has removed everything below the waist, and Charles can’t help but stare in response.
Though Erik is clearly confident enough (or comfortable enough) to strip in front of Charles, there is still the hint of a tell-tale blush that colours his cheeks and betrays his nerves. Well, Charles kind of senses that there is, but he doesn’t actually see it because his eyes are focused solidly on the long hard length between Erik’s legs- thick and cut and just about fucking perfect, and it takes a great deal of self-control for Charles not to immediately drop to his knees in worship at the sight.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to that…” Erik says with a smile, raising his eyebrows as Charles looks up to meet his gaze and feels his face heat in realisation of what Erik has just overheard.
It’s a very, very tempting thought, but if Charles did that he wouldn’t be able to keep kissing Erik like he desperately wants to, and so instead he slips quickly from the counter and steps closer to rest his hands on Erik’s (fucking perfect) washboard abs, tilting his face up for the kiss that Erik willingly gives.
As they kiss Charles keeps his hands chastely on Erik’s waist for the most part, moving his mouth slowly against Erik’s, feeling his skin tingle as Erik slides his hands across it to carefully remove Charles’ clothing until they are both completely naked at last. As soon as Charles has finished kicking off his trousers Erik seizes hold of him once more, and Charles is delighted at the ease with which Erik handles him as he hauls Charles up and begins to carry him over to the bed, with Charles wrapping his legs around Erik’s waist to assist.
When Erik reaches the bed he turns around and sits down upon it, shifting back so that he is reclined against the pillows with Charles straddling his waist. As soon as he is situated Erik stills, and then it’s like he’s caught on to the fact that Charles is actually naked as his eyes trail languidly down Charles’ body, following a path laid out by his hand as he draws his palm slowly over Charles’ chest and stomach.
“Liebling… You’re so beautiful…” Erik murmurs.
The words are ones that Charles didn’t think that he would ever, ever hear from Erik, and he can’t help but flush in giddy pleasure as he takes in the clear adoration on Erik’s face. Erik’s thumb rubs gently against Charles’ stomach for a moment before his hand travels upwards once more, fingers tiptoeing along Charles’ ribs before he cups Charles’ face and draws his thumb along Charles’ lower lip, edging inside Charles’ mouth as Charles uses his tongue to brush against the digit in response.
Behind Charles’ arse he can feel Erik’s hard cock straining against his buttocks, and as he sucks on Erik’s thumb Charles begins to roll his hips just a little, reaching back to hold Erik’s member against his arse as he slides against it. It’s like a small preview of what is about to happen and Charles feels impossibly aroused at the thought of it, of sex with Erik, but then something else occurs to him, something slightly troubling…
“Um, Erik…” Charles starts, grasping Erik’s hand and removing Erik’s thumb from his mouth. “Darling, did you bring any lube with you?”
“Ah…” Erik replies. “No, I didn’t even think of it. I never really considered that we might… you know”.
“Yes, me neither”.
“Well, I guess we can improvise, can’t we?” Erik says, smoothing both hands up Charles’ thighs.
“Um…” Charles starts, chewing on his lower lip. “Maybe not… I kind of need to use a specific lubricant, otherwise it can give me a rash. If you think I look bad with sunburn, believe me you don’t want to see me looking even more red and blotchy in my delicate areas…”
“Oh…” Erik replies slowly. There is disappointment evident on his face, but quickly it dissipates and it’s replaced by something else, something that makes Charles’ heart swell with warm feeling.
“Well, maybe it will be better this way…” Erik continues. “After all, we’ve waited for so long I think we can wait a little bit longer, and then when we’re back home we can do this properly- I can take you out on a real date first. It will be… romantic”.
At Erik’s words Charles can’t help but burst into a wide grin, elated at the suggestion, at the idea that Erik is thinking about them being together in the days and weeks to come. He knows it will be hard to abstain from having sex with Erik, particularly now he knows that it’s a definite option, but it will be worth it to do things right.
At least, that’s what Charles tells himself to begin with…
Chapter 11: Erik
Erik is a fucking idiot.
He knows this about himself, because only a fucking idiot would impose a sex ban on themselves, particularly when they are stuck spending another week living with someone they have been hopelessly besotted with for years.
At first, Erik thinks he’s doing the right thing. Though he may be lying there with Charles sat naked on top of himself- a sight that makes Erik almost delirious in response- he is emboldened by the thought of taking Charles on a date, of taking care of him, of treating him how he deserves to be treated. After all the times Erik was unnecessarily cold towards Charles in school he knows he wants to make up for it now, and that means showing Charles just how much he is appreciated and valued. Of course, by the time they are kissing once more Erik is having some reservations about his decision, which clearly Charles is too as he rocking slowly forward on top of Erik, pushing his hard cock against Erik’s stomach.
By the time Charles is trailing his lips along one of Erik’s ribs Erik has just about concluded that he’s a complete moron, and as he feels Charles’ warm breath ghost against his cock he slides one hand into Charles’ hair, looking down as Charles looks up.
“Charles… Although I meant what I said about waiting to have sex, you know I didn’t mean all kinds of sex, right? Just penetrative”.
Charles smiles, and fuck does he look sinful lying there- his blue eyes wide and innocent, his face just inches away from Erik’s cock. It’s almost like Charles knows what a temptation he is, as he gives Erik a decidedly filthy look and rocks his hips gently from side to side, causing Erik’s attention to be distracted by the fleshy mounds of Charles’ buttocks- the gorgeous arse he can remember marking with his come last night. Just the memory of that is palpable, and Erik can’t help but reach down to grasp Charles’ waist, pulling Charles up once more so that he can wrap his arms around Charles and hold him close as they kiss.
That morning ends with the two of them pressed closely together, Charles rocking forward on top of Erik to slide their cocks together as they kiss; the moisturiser Erik rubbed on their bellies providing an ease to the friction. It’s slow and sensual and everything Erik has ever wanted, and as the pressure builds he holds Charles’ face and looks into his eyes as they both come, feeling the release of Charles’ pleasure cresting over him like a wave.
It’s beautiful being able to feel Charles’ mind again- the welcoming space that makes Erik feel safe and warm- and once again Erik can’t help but feel stupid for pushing Charles away all those years ago. He knows he owes Charles a long overdue explanation but it’s hard to form the words, and part of Erik hopes that Charles will just be able to read the regret Erik feels directly from his mind. But Erik also knows that it would be unfair to expect Charles to go looking for answers, particularly when he has waited for so long. And so, after the two of them have showered and gotten dressed, Erik waits until they are sitting together on the bed eating the breakfast items Charles brought earlier to begin the conversation.
“Charles, I feel like I owe you an apology…”
Charles pulls a face. “Erik, I already said I don’t mind that you took the last chocolate croissant…”
“No, not that… I mean, I owe you an apology for everything that happened when we were younger. All those things I said to you, and how rude I was”.
“Oh…” Charles replies softly. “Oh, well, that’s alright. I already said the other day that I’d forgiven you, and you’ve explained that you didn’t mean the things you said anyway”.
“Yes, but that’s not enough. I owe you an explanation too, I need you to know why I acted like that. So, if you’re willing, can we talk about it? Please?”
Erik has already assumed that Charles will be nothing but courteous, but he is grateful nonetheless when Charles nods and says: “Alright then”.
At that, Charles takes the finished breakfast tray over to the nearby cupboard, before placing it on the surface and turning back towards the bed. Erik lies down against the pillows and waits as Charles climbs back onto the mattress, lying down beside Erik on his stomach with his head resting on the pillow he has clutched in his arms.
Erik can sense the trepidation coming from Charles’ mind, as now that Charles is no longer shielding his telepathy Erik can always feel him there, like a comforting presence that keeps them in constant contact. For a while Erik just simply gazes at Charles, feeling so much affection and devotion towards this beautiful man lying beside himself, and smiling as he gently cups Charles’ face and Charles tilts his head to press a kiss into Erik’s palm.
“I don’t deserve you…” Erik says quietly.
Charles can’t disagree quickly enough.
“Don’t say that”, Charles frowns. “We’re perfect for each other, just like you told me Raven said we were”.
“I know she said that, but the fact that we’ve been equally clueless about how each other feels doesn’t mean we’re evenly matched. There are many ways in which we couldn’t be any more different”.
“Pah”, Charles replies, before he immediately begins to launch into a list of all the similarities he can name between himself and Erik, ranging from the fact that they use the same brand of toothpaste to the fact that they both have meddling mothers. Eventually the only way Erik can shut Charles up is to kiss him, and he does so willingly as he shifts down against the mattress to take Charles into his arms.
After a short embrace Erik gently nudges Charles onto his back so he can rest his head against Charles’ chest, feeling soothed as Charles immediately begins to stroke his fingers through Erik’s hair, and protected by the fact that Charles can’t see his face. Only then can Erik begin to say the things he has kept hidden within his heart for so many years.
“From the moment I met you I wanted you…” Erik says softly, listening to the steady rhythm of Charles’ heart beneath himself. “I don’t think I fully realised it until later, until you started to settle into school and befriend people and I found myself feeling jealous that it wasn’t me you were spending your time with. I wanted you but I was intimidated by you too, particularly when I learnt you were a telepath and I feared you finding out what I was thinking. My father was ill at the time, as you know, and I was just so consumed with rage and grief and I didn’t want you to see any of that because I thought you would be horrified by it- by how dark my thoughts were. I thought the best thing to do was to push you away, to keep you safe from me, but by the time I realised I was hurting you it was too late, and I was stuck having to be unkind to you to ensure you didn’t realise how I felt, because I couldn’t bear the idea of you rejecting me”.
Erik lets out a low sigh, and with the exhale he tries to open himself up to Charles completely- allowing Charles unrestricted to his access to his mind. Erik knows that, whilst Charles always had the ability to look wherever he wanted, he would never pry without explicit permission, so it’s important for Erik to finally give this to Charles, to grant him access to the thoughts and memories he has always kept hidden. For a short while nothing happens, and then Erik feels it- the sensation of Charles gently entering his mind fully, like a falling star crossing a night sky.
But though Erik expected that he would just show things to Charles and that would be it, he finds he gets back thoughts and memories in return, and for every image that Erik gives Charles of their encounters during school, he gets a reciprocal one from Charles’ perspective accompanied by thoughts and feelings. It’s like both of them are each receiving missing pieces to a puzzle that has plagued them for years, and Erik can’t help the swell of emotions that rock through him as the picture comes together, particularly as he’s surprised to realise that not once does he feel hatred coming from Charles’ mind, not at all.
On all those occasions when the younger Erik is rude to Charles, when he shuns him and tells him to go away, Charles’ response is never anger or contempt, it is always sadness and confusion, mixed with the pain of wanting something that you cannot have. The pain forms a fond ache around Charles’ heart, making him long for Erik in spite of Erik’s indifference, and Erik is embarrassed to realise that Charles has been feeling the same way as himself all along, for all these years.
“We really are idiots…” Erik says into Charles’ mind, knowing Charles has received the message when there is a swell of warm feeling in response.
“Made for each other, like Raven said”, Charles responds, adding in memories of all the times Raven tried to tell Charles that he was missing the point with Erik; that there was something more there.
“Of course, she’ll never let me live this down…” Charles says aloud, as Erik lifts his head from Charles’ chest to see him smile.
“Well then perhaps we shouldn’t tell her”, Erik smirks. “It can be our dirty little secret…”
At that, Erik raises his eyebrows at Charles and begins to slowly shift further down the mattress, until he can lift Charles’ shirt to press his mouth to the soft flesh beneath, humming happily against Charles’ skin as he uses one hand to undo the (annoyingly plastic) button of Charles’ shorts. With the button dealt with Erik uses his powers to pull down the zip, at the same time trailing his mouth along the sensitive skin just above Charles’ groin and delighting in the way Charles shivers and moans in response.
Charles’ fingers flex in Erik’s hair as Erik shimmies Charles’ shorts and underwear down, until Erik can finally gaze upon the glory that is Charles’ cock. With a quick glance up to check Charles is alright Erik returns his attention to the thick member beneath his face, wrapping one hand around it and beginning to stroke and… stopping when he suddenly hears a knock at the door.
“Oh, bollocks…” Charles says, looking over in the direction of the door in annoyance and plain frustration. Though Erik wants to suggest that maybe they should just pretend they’re not in and continue with what they’re doing, after a moment there is a loud shout of: “I know you’re in there!” and Charles groans as he shifts away from Erik, moving to climb off the bed as he hastily does up his buttons- tucking his erect cock into the waistband of his shorts to hide it.
Erik is having a similar problem controlling his own arousal, so he remains sitting on the bed and uses a cushion to cover his lap, watching as Charles opens the door to the sight of Raven standing there, both hands pressed dramatically over her eyes.
“Is it safe to look?” Raven asks, cracking her fingers slightly apart and peering through them at Charles, who in turn looks distinctly unimpressed.
“Of course it’s safe to look”, Charles replies. “What exactly do you think is going on here?”
At that Raven finally uncovers her eyes, and as she looks at Charles she immediately slips into a smug grin.
“Well, you guys have been locked in your room for hours, and now you’re answering the door with a sex flush on your face whilst Erik’s over there using a pillow to cover his storming erection. It all looks ratherrrrr suspicious to me, Charles…”
At Raven’s words Erik shifts uncomfortably, drawing his legs together and positioning the cushion more snugly over his crotch, not that it does any good…
“Oh please, don’t cover up on my account”, Raven grins, whilst Erik tries to resist the urge to hurl the pillow across the room at her.
“What do you want, Raven?” Charles asks, and Erik tries not to laugh as he notices that Charles is awkwardly crossing his legs in a presumed attempt to conceal his own erection.
“Well, I’ve spent the last couple of hours entertaining both your mothers and making excuses for the two of you not being there at breakfast. I can only take so much, Charles, so I think it’s time you and Erik made yourselves presentable and came up to join us”.
Erik glowers slightly. “So there’s no chance you could just tell our mothers that we’re ill or something, so they’ll leave us alone for a while?”
“Sorry, Erik, but if I did that I’d be committing myself to a whole day stuck alone with those crones, and I would much rather spend the time sat by the pool with my headphones in, working on my tan”.
“Besides…” Raven adds, turning to look at Charles pointedly. “Haven’t I already done enough for you?”
Erik knows she’s right, and from the look on Charles’ face he realises it too.
“Fine, fine…” Charles replies. “Just give us a few minutes to get ready and we’ll come up”.
“Alright, but I’m staying stood outside this door to wait for you so don’t try anything”, Raven warns. Erik tries not to find it too satisfying when Charles shuts the door in her face.
After that, there is a week of close encounters that are not quite close enough, interruptions, frustration, unexpended desire… Erik finds it so difficult to be close to Charles and not touch him all the time, now that he is allowed, and though Erik knows him being tactile with Charles would only make sense given that everyone already thinks they are in a relationship, he worries that the jump from barely-there touch to full-on PDA would be an incredulous stretch.
And so, Erik keeps his hands to himself, watches Charles, wants Charles, and aches for the moment when he can touch him again.
There are times, during the day, when Erik and Charles attempt to steal time away from their mothers, telling them that they are going to take a brief walk along deck when really they are going to make out like the lustful teenagers they never got the chance to be before. Time is limited so they never quite make it back to their bedroom, and instead they embrace each other in quiet corridors and dark cupboards and once in the gym changing area, until a very unimpressed looking man huffs at them and tells them to get a room.
Sometimes, when the desire they both feel reaches fever pitch, they will attempt rather more exciting activities than just making out. The moment when Erik locks himself in a cleaning closet with Charles and watches as Charles drops to his knees is a particular highlight, and Erik is so unbelievably turned on by little more than the sight of Charles’ sweet face looking up at him that he’s completely unsurprised when his trousers are pulled down and his cock swings swiftly towards Charles’ face, almost like it is aching for him. Erik sucks in untidy breaths as Charles wraps one hand around Erik’s large member, starting to slowly stroke the shaft as he brings his mouth close and begins to suck gently on the sensitive head, causing Erik to groan and lean back against the wall behind himself for support, fingers flexing in Charles’ hair.
Every fantasy Erik has ever had of Charles could not have prepared him for this, for the beauty of Charles, for the dedication of his touch. But it’s not just the blowjob itself, even though it’s the first one Erik has received in longer than he would care to admit, it’s the fact that it’s Charles doing it- someone Erik cares for deeply, someone who makes Erik feel so, so happy. As Erik watches Charles he hopes that Charles can feel everything that’s not being said, and Erik is sure he can when he feels the warm brightness of Charles’ mind in response, and the hand that Charles quickly slips into his own trousers tells Erik that the ‘desire’ part of Erik’s feelings has certainly come across successfully.
It doesn’t take much for Erik to be gasping and groaning and coming in Charles’ mouth, trying hard to keep as quiet as possible, and then he is sinking to his knees to pull Charles into his arms, trailing lust-stupid kisses all along Charles’ neck and collarbone as he takes Charles’ cock in his hands and begins to stroke him firmly. Charles is rather less quiet in response, much to Erik’s delight (and smug pride), but eventually Erik concludes that he’s just going to have to kiss Charles to shut him up, and he allows Charles’ moans to be muffled by their mouths pressed together as Charles’ cock spills over his fingers.
Though such moments of intimacy are sheer bliss, Erik still finds himself frustrated by the fact that they can’t take things any further. Erik is determined to ensure he treats Charles properly and still wants to take him on a proper date when they get home before they have sex at last, but nevertheless there are occasions when Erik finds himself contemplating how to say ‘water based lubricant’ in another language so he can pick up some supplies in one of the small towns they visit when the cruise ship docks... Erik doesn’t though, and he tells himself that he is content with just kisses from Charles and the occasional handjob or blowjob. The only problem is, thanks to constant supervision courtesy of Erik’s mother, they don’t get as much time alone as they would like, and more than once they find that have to abruptly jump apart as Edie comes looking for them.
The only time when Erik and Charles are really alone is when they retire to their bedroom at night. The privacy enables them to reconnect at last, but even so their nights together don’t always end with intimacy. Given their days are full of socialising and activities, more often than not when Erik and Charles return to the bedroom they are often so tired that they each want nothing more than to curl up in bed together to go to sleep, often exchanging sleepy kisses before they drift off. Occasionally those kisses turn heated and intimacy ensues, but they can’t always fight fatigue, and at one point Charles actually falls asleep with his hand wrapped around Erik’s cock, something that makes Erik smile to himself as he slyly takes a picture to show Charles in the morning.
Though their moments together are fond and fleeting, with every kiss Erik feels himself falling more and more for Charles than ever before, captivated by this man who holds him and keeps him, who makes him feel wanted and valued. Erik feels like he wants to sing it from the rafters now that Charles is actually his boyfriend, but of course to everyone except Raven nothing has changed, and so Erik has to keep his enthusiasm to himself. Something must be evident though, as there is a moment during dinner when Erik catches his mother looking over at him, a fond and wistful and slightly sad expression on her face.
“Mama, what’s wrong?” Erik asks, turning away from where he was gazing at Charles in adoration moments earlier.
“Oh, it’s nothing, Schatz”, Edie replies. “It’s just… it’s just that you look so happy, bubbala- you and Charles. When you smile like that you remind me of Jakob and it just makes me so proud of you but also so sad that your father never got to see the wonderful man you’ve become…”
“Mama…” Erik says softly, reaching across the table to grasp her hand. Her skin is wrinkled but her hand is warm, and she slips it into Erik’s and squeezes tight as she smiles at him.
“Jakob would have loved Charles”, Edie smiles.
“I know…” Erik responds. Of course he knows- how could anyone not love Charles?
But Erik’s estimations of Charles, though well-founded, are enclosed in adoration, and Erik knows that there a lot of people- including Charles’ own mother- who have not always treated him so kindly. What Erik doesn’t realise however is that not everyone Charles grew up with was as unfeeling as Sharon, as Erik finds out later that night as he lies in bed with Charles and they talk.
The conversation starts slowly at first, but as time goes on and they lay there hopelessly entwined Charles begins to open up, telling Erik all about his childhood. It is something Erik has wondered about more than once, mostly speculation with no real basis for assumption, but Erik still finds he is completely unprepared for what Charles actually tells him.
Erik has always known that the family Charles comes from is colder than his own, but what he is surprised to learn is how close Charles actually was to his father. Erik always just assumed that Charles’ father was very much like his mother- icy and indifferent- but listening to Charles talk about him paints and entirely different picture. Charles lies there with his head on Erik’s chest and tells him about a man who always seemed proud of Charles, who loved his son and respected his mutation, a man who Charles idolised and looked up to until the day he died in an accident at his lab. It pains Erik to listen to Charles discuss his loss, particularly when it mirrors Erik’s own so sharply, and he can’t help but wish this was something they’d been able to discuss years before, back when it mattered most.
But those days are gone now, and Erik knows there is nothing he can do, and so instead he leans closer and presses kisses to each of Charles’ closed eyelids. Charles smiles and opens his eyes, and though Erik is dismayed to see that Charles’ expression is watery he’s unbelievably grateful that Charles has been comfortable enough to share such an important part of his past so freely. It is harder for Erik, as it always is, but he hopes he will be able to get there one day.
On the last night before they are due to go home, Erik lies on top of Charles and kisses him and gazes down at him as Charles holds both of their cocks together so that Erik can roll his hips and thrust into Charles’ grasp. When Erik comes it’s like an explosion of light behind his eyes, something he quickly realises is the feeling of Charles’ mind wrapping gently around his own, allowing them both to experience each other’s pleasure.
After climax and clean up Erik lays against Charles’ body, worried at first about crushing him until Charles shushes Erik and wraps his arms around Erik’s back to hold him close. Charles presses kisses to Erik’s forehead and whispers: “Goodnight, my darling”, and though Erik knows how he feels deep within his heart his eyelids are lowering before he can say anything in response, and he finds that his last thought is of how much he almost doesn’t want to leave the cruise he was originally so reluctant to embark upon, not when it means he will no longer be able to see Charles every day.
Chapter 12: Charles
On the day they are due to depart from the cruise ship, Charles is both excited and disheartened.
As he wakes to the comforting weight of Erik lying against his chest Charles can’t help but think of what things will be like back home, when he awakens in his large bed each morning completely alone, without Erik by his side. It’s an unsettling feeling, and part of Charles doesn’t even want to open his eyes, almost like he is trying to keep the rest of the world out to preserve the peace that he has.
“Good morning, beautiful…” Erik murmurs.
In spite of his fears, Charles opens his eyes and looks down, stroking his fingers through Erik’s hair as Erik looks up and flashes Charles a warm smile.
“Hi, gorgeous…” Charles replies, his voice blurry with sleep. “How long have you been awake?”
“Maybe half an hour or so. I didn’t want to disturb you, though I know you sleep so soundly I could probably start dancing on the bed and it wouldn’t actually wake you…”
“I don’t know, Erik…” Charles grins. “The idea of you dancing on the bed is pretty exciting, I think that would make me wake up for sure… If you’d like maybe I can pretend to be asleep again and we can find out”.
Erik laughs. “Maybe later, but I’ve let you sleep in for as long as I possibly can. The ship will be docking soon so we need to go get breakfast then get ready to leave”.
It’s not what Charles wants to hear, and he can’t help but let out a quiet sigh as he looks down at Erik, fingers gently brushing through Erik’s hair.
“You don’t want to leave, do you?” Erik asks, and whether Charles has projected his reluctance or Erik has just read the expression on his face, Charles isn’t sure.
“Yes… no… I don’t know…” Charles sighs. “I’ve just really enjoyed seeing you every day, and I’m not looking forward to it ending”.
“Me neither… But does anything have to change, Charles? We live, what, twenty minutes away from each other? There’s nothing to stop us from seeing each other all the time”.
“Except work, friends, family commitments…” Charles grumbles.
Immediately Erik moves, edging up the mattress until he lies down with his chest pressed firmly against Charles’, his hands sliding into Charles’ hair.
“Liebling, nothing has to change unless we want it to”, Erik says determinedly.
Charles can tell very clearly that Erik means what he’s saying, that he really does want them to keep seeing each other, and though Charles never really doubted it, it is still comforting to know for sure.
And besides, there are certain other benefits to returning home that Charles hasn’t been able to stop thinking about…
The past week has been like some kind of pleasurable torture, as though Charles has been able to see Erik every day, kiss him, and sleep in his arms, there has still been so much that they cannot do, things that Charles wants desperately. They’ve been sleeping together for days but Charles has still not had Erik’s cock inside of himself, something that he wants so badly that sometimes it’s all that he can think about- which is not a good idea when you are spending the majority of your time in the company of elderly relatives…
But Erik said they should wait, he said it would be romantic, and a bigger part of Charles is just thrilled at the thought that Erik wants romance, and so he tries to ignore the stir of arousal in his groin at the thought of Erik fucking him senseless, and practises patience.
Of course, by the time they are boarding the plane to take them home, Charles’ desire has reached fever pitch. Erik is looking unfairly handsome in grey trousers and a black poloshirt that nicely shows off his defined arms, and Charles can’t help but slowly rub his hand against Erik’s bicep as they sit on the plane together. It provides a nice distraction for Charles given that he isn’t a huge fan of flying, but as the journey progresses there is a sudden surge of turbulence, and Charles is soon gripping the armrest with all of his might as he feels his heart drop into his stomach with the motions of the plane.
But within an instant Erik is reaching over and taking Charles’ hand in his own, squeezing lightly as he looks at Charles with affection and concern. Charles remembers Erik holding his hand before on the flight over, and realises more than ever that the way Erik feels now is the way he has always felt, the same way it is for Charles himself. It’s like seeing something that has always been in front of you but that you’ve never noticed before, and Charles wonders how many more moments there will be like this- when he will see an aspect of Erik’s behaviour that reminds him of something he’s seen so often, that he never saw the intent in until now.
“Thank you…” Charles murmurs, gazing over at Erik, knowing that he loves him, that he has always loved him, but not being able to say the words just yet.
“Bitte schön…” Erik replies softly, pushing the armrest up as he wraps his arm around Charles and pulls him close, so that Charles can rest his head against Erik’s chest and use the steady rhythm of Erik’s heart to soothe him.
When they arrive back in New York it is extremely late at night, and Charles doesn’t even realise they are landing until there is the bump of the plane’s wheels touching down, and he jolts awake to realise he has been dozing on Erik’s shoulder. Immediately Charles is slightly abashed at the rather large patch of drool that has dampened part of Erik’s shirt, but Erik only smiles at Charles and affectionately runs a hand through his hair.
Parting outside the airport is extremely difficult. Charles wants desperately to wrap his arms around Erik and embrace him properly, but in front of both their mothers not to mention a whole dose of strangers it seems like a bad idea, so for a while they can only stand there staring at each other, until Raven coughs loudly and mutters: “Get on with it”- her support for the two of them clearly waning in the wake of her need to return home to sleep. Eventually Charles settles on a chaste kiss, but as he creeps up on his tiptoes to press his lips to Erik’s cheek Erik turns, and their mouths meet as they fall into the embrace, wrapping their arms around each other and holding on tight.
It’s not quite a full-on smooch-a-thon, but it’s enough to have Erik’s mother clearing her throat within about ten seconds, and Charles reluctantly disentangles himself from Erik and steps away, following Raven and Sharon as they head to the car that is waiting for them.
“Bye, Erik…” Charles mumbles as he goes.
“Tschuss, Charles”, Erik says quietly in response, his eyes fixed devotedly on Charles until the moment the car pulls away.
Unfortunately, it is another three days before Charles sees Erik again. Both of them are equally busy catching up with work, and they can only rely on texts and phonecalls to keep in touch (plus the occasion picture message that Charles treasures, particularly when he receives one of Erik in the bath wearing nothing but a beard of bubbles- something that makes Charles laugh and prompts a pang of longing in his chest).
By the time the day of their big date has arrived Charles is practically beside himself with excitement. In the daytime he is at work, though he finds he can barely concentrate and every one of his lectures is punctuated by times when he will forget what he’s saying and just stare dreamily into the middle distance, thinking about Erik and wondering what he’s doing. After work Charles spends a few hours frantically going through paperwork, feeling like he has absorbed none of it, before the time comes when he can go home and get dressed for his date.
As Charles stands in his walk-in wardrobe he tries to decide what outfit would look best, but looking at every garment is accompanied by the mental image of Erik’s hands on his body removing it, and there are several occasions when Charles has to try and will his erection away so he can actually put on his fucking trousers. Charles doesn’t know where they are going on their date, given Erik said the ‘mystery’ is part of the romance, so he has no real idea of how to dress. In the end, Charles settles on a pair of black trousers, a white shirt, and a blue cardigan- with the metal badge Erik gave him pinned to the front as the finishing touch.
By the time Charles feels the comforting presence of Erik’s mind approaching he is almost overcome by excitement, and he practically sprints down the corridor towards the front door as he feels Erik walking up the front steps. Before Erik can even knock the door is swinging open, and then Charles is hurling himself into Erik’s arms, being met by an initial “Oof!” of surprise before Erik adjusts and wraps his arms around Charles.
“Hallo, Liebling…” Erik murmurs, smiling as Charles presses his face into Erik’s neck and inhales the rich scent of him. “Have you missed me?”
“Perhaps a little bit…” Charles replies. “Or maybe I just missed listening to your mother tell you off every day”.
Erik laughs. “Well, I’d hate to disappoint you, but I’m afraid my mother won’t be joining us on our date this evening”.
“That’s a shame. I guess you’ll just have to do, then”.
At that, Charles loosens his hold on Erik and leans back to look up at him, smiling widely before he becomes aware of something and his expression changes.
“However, although your mother won’t be with us I’m afraid our date is already being slightly imposed upon…” Charles says wryly, gesturing subtly up at the window where he can feel Raven watching.
Erik glances up at her and smiles. “Do you think we should ask her to join us? It could be a double date…”
“Pah, that’s pretty unlikely. I can’t even get Raven to let me meet her new boyfriend, though I’m not sure I can blame her for not wanting to bring him round, given mother will most likely faint on sight of him”.
“She’ll come around…” Erik replies, leaning close to press a kiss to Charles’ forehead. Charles can’t help but lean into the embrace, tilting his head up in hopes of a real kiss, but finding himself left wanting as Erik moves away. “Shall we go?” Erik asks.
Charles nods his head, and Erik takes his hand before leading Charles away.
Charles has had a lot of time to speculate on where they might be going on their date, but of all the things he has imagined the one thing he hasn’t foreseen is being taken to an impressive and expensive looking block of apartments. Charles follows Erik inside, frowning slightly in confusion, and then he realises where they are.
This must be where Erik lives. Although part of Charles is undoubtedly excited about seeing inside of Erik’s home, he can’t help but be disappointed by the realisation- that maybe Erik isn’t so interested in wooing him after all, and that he would rather just take Charles home for a quick fuck.
Although his heart is sinking slightly Charles keeps a polite smile on his face as Erik opens the door and gestures for Charles to enter, allowing Charles to walk on ahead into the apartment. Charles advances slowly through the darkened rooms, until he enters what is presumably the living/dining area, the light flicks on, and Charles gasps.
Ahead of Charles is a table is laid out with plates, glasses, and various serving platters of food- full of items which look decidedly home-baked to Charles, especially given the intoxicating smell of warm bread in the air. Charles approaches the table, taking in the intricately crafted metal cutlery that he presumes Erik has made himself, mouth watering as he looks at the impressive array of food and drink laid out before him, until he feels Erik come up behind himself- hands gently grasping Charles’ shoulders as he leans close to press a kiss to the top of Charles’ head.
“Please make yourself at home, Charles”, Erik says softly. “Dinner will be served shortly”.
“Served?” Charles asks, turning around to face Erik. “You mean this isn’t it?”
Erik smiles widely in that ridiculous, gorgeous way he does sometimes. “No, Charles- these are just… appetizers. There’s challah and latkes for you to start on, then we’re having matzoh ball soup, roast chicken for the main, and I’ve made some lebkuchen for dessert”.
“Marry me”, Charles replies, grasping the front of Erik’s shirt with both hands. “Or bury me, but I’m going to need a supersized coffin after eating all this”.
Erik laughs, holding Charles’ face with both hands as he leans close to kiss him. After a brief, tender kiss Erik withdraws, resting his forehead against Charles’ own and humming contentedly.
“A tempting offer, but you’d have to ask my mother for permission first…” Erik replies, making Charles blush as he comes to realise the reality of what he’s just said.
After another fond kiss pressed to Charles’ forehead Erik withdraws, and Charles moves forward to take a seat at the table.
For the next couple of hours Charles sits with Erik, eating mouthful after mouthful of delicious food washed down with wine, and smiling over at Erik as they talk together. It’s encouraging to Charles that, even after spending two solid weeks with Erik, they still have so much to say to each other; so many stories to share and ideas to discuss. They talk about their work, their families, things that have happened in the past and their plans for the future, and Charles is secretly overjoyed every time Erik uses the word ‘us’ to describe them, and every time he talks about things he wants them both to do together.
Of course, there’s one thing in particular Charles wants them to do together, and though the food Erik has carefully prepared is just about the best thing Charles has ever eaten, he makes sure not to overdo it so he doesn’t put himself into some sort of food coma ahead of that night’s activities.
When the evening draws in Charles curls up with Erik on the sofa, lying between Erik’s legs and resting his head against Erik’s chest as they watch television. Charles hums contentedly as he listens to the steady rhythm of Erik’s heartbeat, soothed by the warmth of Erik’s body and the feeling of his fingers gently stroking through Charles’ hair. Eventually there is a moment when Charles feels like he might drift off to sleep, but just when he feels his eyelids lowering Charles is brought back to reality by something hard rising up to press against his stomach…
“Sorry…” Erik murmurs as Charles lifts his head from Erik’s chest, looking up at him.
“I really don’t think that’s something to apologise for…” Charles replies with a smirk, shifting further up Erik’s body, so that he can push Erik’s hair back from his forehead as he smiles at him. “You should know by now that this…” Charles says, using his leg to nudge against Erik’s hard cock, “…is something I’ve been wanting for a very, very long time”.
“Is that so…?” Erik grins. “Well, as you’ve been so patient I think it would be rude for me to make you wait any longer, wouldn’t you agree?”
Charles beams. “Absolutely”.
When they reach the bedroom, Charles and Erik don’t fall into bed straight away. Instead, they stand in front of it, kissing slowly and sensually as they both begin to slide each other’s clothing off. With every millimetre of Erik’s skin that’s exposed Charles feels himself grow more and more excited, his enthusiasm reaching fever pitch as he slides Erik’s trousers off and Erik’s cock immediately rises up to greet him, pressing firmly against Charles’ stomach as Erik wraps his arms around Charles’ naked body and pulls him close.
With an ease that has always impressed Charles, Erik swiftly lifts him up and carries him over to the bed, laying Charles down on the mattress like a precious gift he has just unwrapped. Erik settles in-between Charles’ legs, chest pressed against Charles’ as he looks down at him, his face soft and composed and beautiful, with more intensity in his grey-green-blue eyes than Charles has ever seen before.
“I’ve imagined this so many times…” Charles says softly. “But this is even better than I could have possibly thought”.
Erik smiles. “Charles, I haven’t even done anything yet…” he grins, sliding one hand to hold Charles’ face.
“Yes you have. You’re here and you’re with me and it’s perfect, just perfect…”
“You’re perfect…” Erik replies, leaning close for a kiss which Charles wilfully gives, like always. Charles wraps his arms around Erik’s broad shoulders and kisses him and moans in encouragement as Erik’s deft fingers find their way to one of Charles’ nipples, brushing gently against it as Charles arches to the touch. Following Erik’s hands is his lips, trailing across Charles’ chest and lower down, until his face is pressed into the hollow of Charles’ ribcage, sucking marks into soft skin as Charles’ knees come up to press against Erik’s sides, like he is trying to hold him and keep him.
“You don’t have to try and keep me, I’m already yours…” Erik murmurs quietly against Charles’ belly, and Charles realises then how ineffectual the walls that shield his telepathy have become, broken down by red wine and good company and lovedrunk kisses. Charles opens up his mouth to offer apology, but within a moment he knows he doesn’t need to give it. Erik’s mind is warm next to Charles’ own, strong and bright and incredible, telling Charles that his intrusion is not an imposition, that he is welcome, that he is wanted. Charles has never really felt wanted in his life, not really, and to know that Erik thinks of him that way is so wonderful Charles feels like he could cry.
“Liebling, don’t cry…” Erik says, his voice heavy with emotion, and Charles only realises he has closed his eyes when he opens them, when he looks up to regard Erik leaning over him, his face soulful and sad.
“I’m sorry…” Charles whimpers, beginning to feel terribly embarrassed as Erik reaches down and wipes Charles’ cheek with his thumb. “Oh, I don’t know what’s wrong with me… I just think your mind is so magnificent, and the fact that you’re willing to share it with me makes me so happy. I know you told me before on the cruise ship that you were okay with me using my telepathy on you but this is the first time I really, really felt it. I’m sorry for ruining the moment… Please forgive me, darling”.
For a short while Erik just gazes down at Charles, his face tense with unperceivable emotion in spite of the mental connection they share, and then to Charles’ relief (and bemusement) Erik smiles. A ridiculous smile, one with far too many teeth, but one that Charles adores.
“Charles, you wonderful idiot…” Erik replies, cupping Charles’ face with his hand. “You don’t have to apologise- you haven’t ruined anything. This is still, by far, the best night of my whole life”.
“Really?” Charles asks hopefully, gazing up at Erik in quiet awe.
Erik nods. “Absolutely. Even better than the time at school when we went on that field trip to the art museum, and you sat next to me on the coach ride home and fell asleep with your head on my shoulder”.
“You remember that?” Charles asks, eyes growing wide.
Erik smiles in response. “Charles, I cherish that…”
“Gosh, we’re so stupid…” Charles laughs, adoring the way Erik grins in response and the corners of his eyes crinkle. “I was so mortified when that happened- I thought you’d be mad at me. You wouldn’t even look at me when I woke up”.
“Yes, well… I may have been trying to hide my huge erection at the time…”
Charles grins. “Well, Erik- there’s no hiding now…”
Fortunately for the rest of the night Charles manages to keep his emotions in check, in spite of the fact that every soft touch and hushed word from Erik prompts a surge of emotion deep within Charles’ heart that shakes him to the core. Charles shudders when Erik holds him, when Erik grasps him on the hips and gazes up at him, watching as Charles sinks down slowly onto his cock. Erik’s arms are like an anchor, keeping Charles weighted as the feeling of Erik’s thick length sliding inside his body makes him tremble and gasp, clutching at Erik’s chest with clammy hands. Erik’s heart is racing, the rhythm strong and certain, and Charles keeps his palm pressed to the area as he settles down on Erik’s cock, feeling more connected to Erik than he has ever, ever been.
“You are so worth the wait…” Erik murmurs, eyes trailing down Charles’ naked body, casting over bright eyes and flushed skin and a freckled chest that rises and falls with each laboured breath. Charles can feel the emotion coming from Erik’s mind in that moment, all of the lust and affection and- beneath it all- still disbelief, like this is a dream that Erik never thought would come true.
Charles leans over, pressing his chest against Erik’s as he smooths hands through Erik’s hair and kisses him, soft and tender, lingering with his mouth just pressed against Erik’s, tasting the sweetness of his lips.
“You’re worth it too…” Charles whispers, knowing that he means it, knowing that he would take every ounce of heartbreak, every harsh word received, every moment of despair and confusion for this moment, to be with Erik now.
The scientist in Charles does not believe in fate, does not believe that everything happens for a reason, but just for once, just in that moment, he knows that he would like to.
When Charles sleeps that night it is within Erik’s arms. He lays with his head against Erik’s chest, one arm wrapped around his waist, hand entwined with Erik’s own. There is soft moonlight playing through the nearby window, illuminating the space before them, allowing Charles to gaze upon the majesty of Erik’s sleeping face as he lies there next to him.
It’s no surprise that Erik is so worn out- two rounds of intense sex would be enough to tire anyone, even if Charles was on top for half of it- and though Charles knows some people would be offended at their bedmate passing out so quickly after climax, Charles realises that he doesn’t mind. When Erik sleeps he looks younger, he looks like the boy Charles knew, and Erik’s lapse in consciousness at least gives Charles a moment to look at him, and to be grateful that the boy is his, at last.
Chapter 13: Erik
When Erik wakes, he is alone.
It’s something Erik has become accustomed to, given he has not been particularly successful when it comes to long-term relationships, and the fact that he has always favoured sleeping by himself. The longest he has spent sleeping beside enough person was during the cruise with Charles, but that ended several days ago so Erik knows that he has no reason to expect anyone to be at his side now.
But then, as Erik slowly returns to full consciousness, he remembers something- remembers Charles, remembers the sweetness of his smile, the touch of his lips, the feeling of his body, warm against Erik’s own. It was there last night, Erik knows it was, so naturally the question that surges urgently to the forefront of Erik’s mind is- just where the fuck is Charles now?
Erik’s eyes snap open as he sits up in bed, taking in the sight of his bedroom, dim in the low morning light and woefully empty. There’s slight reassurance in the fact that Erik can still see Charles’ clothes in a neat pile on the floor by the bed, but it doesn’t explain why Charles isn’t sleeping right now- particularly when Erik knows he favours a long lie-in. Erik’s concerns only increase as he slips from beneath the sheets and wanders over towards the bedroom door, heading towards the sound of clattering he can hear coming from outside, a sound that intensifies as Erik walks briskly down the hallway towards the kitchen, until Erik smiles to himself as he hears a muffled: “Bugger!” followed by more crashing sounds.
As Erik enters the kitchen he is both reassured, and amused… In front of him Charles is standing on his tiptoes attempting to place a large pan back on a shelf that is just out of his reach, the white cotton shirt he is wearing rising up high on his hips, revealing the sight of his glorious round arse... It makes for very compelling viewing, and it’s a wonder that Erik is at all composed enough in order to react quickly when the metal pan slips out of Charles’ grasp, hurtling towards the floor before Erik stops it with his powers.
“Oh!” Charles exclaims, looking at the hovering pan in disbelief before he turns around, catching sight of Erik watching him and immediately starting to blush as he pulls at the front of the shirt- the shirt that Erik now realises is his own- just about managing to obscure his member with the material.
Erik can’t help but grin at the sight.
“Please don’t cover up on my account, I was rather enjoying the view…” Erik says, delighted at the adorable flush that colours Charles’ cheeks and the way he looks so cute in the oversized shirt.
“You weren’t supposed to be up yet”, Charles replies. “I was, um… I was going to cook you breakfast…”
“You were? Do you even know how?”
Charles pulls a face. “In spite of what Raven may have told you I do know how to cook more than poptarts, you know…”
“Oh yes?” Erik smirks. “What can you cook?”
“Well, I can cook… I can cook…”
Eventually Charles sighs, crossing his arms defensively across his chest, which Erik rather favours as it hikes his shirt up and allows Erik to see just the tip of Charles’ cock peeking out beneath it.
“I can cook toast…” Charles finishes eventually, staring down at the ground, looking adorably abashed.
Erik steps closer, using his powers to carefully restore the metal pan to the shelf it originally came from as he reaches to grasp Charles on the upper arms.
“I’m sure you make fantastic toast…” Erik says softly, smiling down at Charles, before eventually using one finger to gently tilt Charles’ chin up so he can look into his eyes. “But I’m not sure you need a cast iron skillet for that…”
“Oh, I know… I didn’t intend for that to fall down, I was just trying to find the toaster and I couldn’t see one on the counter anywhere, so I figured you must have hidden it in a cupboard or something”.
“Ah, not quite… I’m afraid I don’t actually own a toaster…”
Charles looks scandalised. “Erik, what kind of man doesn’t own a toaster??”
“A man who has a subscription to Good Food magazine, and who owns a breadmaker and a spiraliser and about six different chopping boards”.
“Ohhhh, so you’re a pretentious food snob, are you?”
“Hey!” Erik protests, playfully poking Charles’ side. “You weren’t exactly complaining about my food snobbery last night…”
“Yeah well, I was just trying to protect your ego…” Charles counters, laughing and squirming as Erik begins to tickle his ribs. “I didn’t want to offend you! That’s the only reason I swallowed what you gave me”.
“Oh really?” Erik smirks. “Because you’ve swallowed what I’ve given you on more than one occasion now with no complaints… Was that for my ego too?”
Immediately Charles’ eyes go wide, and the red flush Erik has grown to adore rapidly begins to colour his cheeks. Charles quickly hides his face with his hands as Erik moves in closer, wrapping his arms around Charles’ waist and dipping his head to talk softly into Charles’ ear.
“Charles, I was joking…” Erik murmurs, nuzzling his face into the soft skin just below Charles’ earlobe. “I’m sorry, Schatz, I didn’t mean to embarrass you…”
“You didn’t”, Charles replies, emitting a short sound that Erik realises is a small chuckle. Erik leans back as he continues to hold Charles on the waist, smiling fondly as Charles grins up at him and continues: “I was just thinking about how it might be time for you to return the favour…”
“Mm, is that so?” Erik asks, edging closer and just beginning to slide his hands under the shirt Charles is wearing.
Charles’ cock is filling out nicely where it’s pressed against Erik’s thigh, and Erik is excited about the prospect of honouring Charles’ request- something he hasn’t done before not because he doesn’t want to, but because of a lack of opportunity, as well as a certain amount of nerves… Being intimate with Charles is something that Erik has thought about, wanted, needed for so long, but there is a part of him that fears failing in Charles’ eyes, and not matching up to expectations. And so, though they have been intimate on several occasions, culminating in them actually having full sex the previous night, Erik is still undeniably nervous about focusing on Charles’ pleasure exclusively- particularly when he has already experienced the masterful things Charles can do with his own hands and mouth…
Charles’ expression softens, and Erik knows he must have overheard the concerns that are running through his mind.
“Darling… You don’t have to…”
But it’s not even a question of saying no. Charles wants this, Erik wants this, and it is with a certain amount of faux confidence that Erik quickly reaches down to wrap his arms around the back of Charles’ legs, hauling Charles up over his shoulders and carrying him from the room as Charles squeals in surprise and delight.
By the time they are in the bedroom the nerves have returned somewhat, but it’s easy to forget about everything Erik fears when he is trailing his mouth slowly up the inside of Charles’ thigh, sucking and nibbling at the sensitive skin as Charles moans and spreads his legs wider in invitation. In front of Erik’s face Charles’ cock is hard where it rests against his stomach, and though part of Erik wants nothing more than to just take it in his mouth, before that point he continues to draw his lips gently across Charles’ skin, pressing his face into the juncture of Charles’ thigh and placing kisses there as Charles squirms on the mattress.
The way Charles moans Erik’s name is like ecstasy, sending a thrum of arousal though Erik’s body as he perches on his knees in-between Charles’ spread legs, reaching down to gently pull the shirt Charles is wearing further up, exposing the soft hollow of his belly that Erik leans down and presses his mouth to. Erik’s lips are centimetres away from Charles’ cock, and as he trails his mouth along Charles’ ribs he finally grasps Charles’ cock with one hand, sliding his palm up the length of the shaft as Charles moans in encouragement.
“That feels amazing, darling…” Charles sends with his mind, the thought accompanied by a burst of pleasure and appreciation that has all the blood in Erik’s body running southwards in an instant, and the reassurance is really all Erik needs to slide his lips around the head of Charles’ cock, before taking the full length in his mouth.
Within an instant there are further feelings of joy and contentment coming from Charles, washing over Erik like waves of bliss that make it somewhat hard for him to concentrate on what he is doing, but he manages. He keeps one hand wrapped around the base of Charles’ shaft, stroking firmly as he sucks on Charles’ cock and swirls his tongue around the head. Things seem to be going so well that Erik finds he has the confidence to look up, aching to see the pleasure carved out on Charles’ face, but as Erik tilts his eyes upwards he finds that one of Charles’ arms is thrown back over his face and he’s biting his lip hard, almost like he is in pain.
“Liebling?” Erik asks, removing his mouth from Charles’ cock. “Is everything alright?”
It’s like Charles has just remembered where he is, and he lets out a quiet: “Oh!” of surprise as he uncovers his face and looks down at Erik, his cheeks wonderfully tinged with pink. He looks so sweet and so innocent that for a moment Erik is abashed, worrying that he has done something to hurt this wonderful man who trusts him. But then Charles smiles, reaching down to gently brush his fingers through Erik’s hair, and whispers: “Just trying not to come, sweetheart”.
Erik can’t help but laugh, both in relief and amusement. “Charles, I’m trying to make you come…”
“Mm, I know that”, Charles says, looking adorably contrite. “But not this quickly… It’s difficult to hold out though- I’ve wanted this for so long, and you’re so good…”
“I am…?” Erik asks, dropping his head to slowly draw his tongue up the length of Charles’ cock, and feeling a surge of pride as Charles lets out a heady groan.
“Fuck! Ah, yes. Gosh, even better than I would have thought, and believe me I’ve thought about this a lot…”
“Well then, Charles”, Erik says, pausing with his face just centimetres away from the head of Charles’ cock, so that his warm breath ghosts across it with each word spoken. “I suggest for once you stop thinking quite so much, and just enjoy the moment while it lasts. And don’t worry- we can always go again if you don’t feel like you’ve got your monies worth out of this particular encounter…”
Charles grins. “Deal”, he says, before Erik starts to suck his cock once more and Charles lets out an emphatic shout at the ceiling, his head dropping back against the pillow.
Some time (and two rounds of enthusiastic sexual activity) later Erik is sat with Charles on the sofa, both reasonably dressed in boxer shorts and t-shirts, sipping on tea as they watch the morning news on the television. Charles is happily snuggled into Erik’s chest, his legs strewn across Erik’s lap, and the moment would be absolutely perfect were it not for one thing…
“Ughhhh I think you’ve killed me”, Charles protests, rubbing one hand against his stomach which in fairness does appear to be larger than it was earlier that morning.
“Well, Charles, no one said you had to go for seconds…”
“I knowww, but it was all just so delicious, I couldn’t help myself”, Charles groans, resting his head against Erik’s chest, an adorably pained expression on his screwed-up face.
Erik chuckles, dipping his head to press a kiss to Charles’ nose. “You know drinking tea is only going to make you feel more full, Liebling…”
Charles scoffs. “Erik, don’t try and steer me away from tea- tea heals all wounds, don’t you know that?”
“I know you think that, but I seem to remember seeing you spewing up four cups of tea around the back of the science hall one afternoon at school…”
“You remember that?” Charles asks, staring up at Erik with wide eyes. “Gosh, that was one of the most mortifying moments of my life… I’d got it into my head that maybe you would like me if you thought I was all grown up and sophisticated, and in my mind that translated into me drinking lots of cups of tea. How wrong I was…”
“If only you’d have known that I was already hopelessly smitten with you…”
“If only indeed. But can you blame me for not realising? It’s not like there were ever any signs that you were interested…”
Erik looks down at Charles, wanting to offer contradiction but also knowing that, to Charles, there really were no signs, because everything Erik felt was held close to his chest, guarded- like Erik was.
“Charles, I’m sorry…” Erik says, feeling like he’s already said the words a million times, but still feeling like it will never be enough. But perhaps the time for words is over, and the way to make it up to Charles is with actions instead.
“Charles, I want to show you something…” Erik says suddenly, taking the cup of tea from Charles’ hand and placing it on the coffee table with his own.
Charles raises his eyebrows. “Is it your penis? Because I’ve already seen it, though I wouldn’t object to another viewing…”
“No, Charles…” Erik chuckles. “Just… come with me?”
Charles nods. “Of course”, he says, allowing Erik to take his hand and following him without question.
A short while later Charles is sat cross-legged on Erik’s bed, looking up in interest as Erik walks over to him carrying a small metal box. The box is one that Erik crafted several years ago when his powers were just developing, and it shows its age in the poorly formed edges and imperfections in the metal. Still, the ‘errors’ are ones that Erik cannot bear to correct, as he still remembers how proud his father had been when Erik had shown him the box, even if it was clear that Erik’s skills still needed honing at the time.
Charles sits quietly as Erik settles down on the bed in front of him, placing the box down on the mattress in-between them before pushing it slightly closer to Charles. Erik carefully runs his thumbs over the metallic surface before inhaling a deep breath and using his powers to slowly curl the top sheet of metal back to reveal the contents.
Inside the box are items that Erik has kept hidden for years, like his heart, and for the first time he brings them into the light, takes them out, shows them to Charles. There is the watch Erik was given for his bar mitzvah- the first thing Erik learnt to control with his powers. There is the picture of Erik with his mother and father taken on the last family vacation they went on together. There is the wedding ring that his father always wore, cut from his finger on the night he died. Charles’ hand trembles when he touches that one, taking it from Erik with hesitation, and holding it carefully as he listens to Erik talk in detail for the first time about the experience of dealing with his father’s illness. Charles saw it, of course- it was written on Erik’s face every day at school, but to actually hear about it is different, profound, and Erik is unsurprised but still moved when there is a small sniffle from Charles, and Erik looks up to see a single tear tracking slowly down his cheek.
“Don’t cry, Liebling…” Erik says softly. “I didn’t mean to make you upset, I just wanted you to see how important everything in this box is to me, so you would understand what you mean to me- what you’ve always meant to me…”
With that, Erik takes in a deep breath and starts to remove other things from the metal box, things he never dreamed he would share with anyone- let alone Charles.
There is the photograph of Charles and Erik sitting on a wall together taken during a school field trip- a group photo that Erik carefully trimmed down so it was just himself and Charles alone. There is the dried, pressed flower that Charles gave to Erik one day in the school playground, something Erik accepted with a bitter scowl at the time but has treasured every day since. There is the article Charles wrote for the school paper, a thoughtful piece on mutants and their powers that Erik has read with fascination more than once. And there is the ring that Charles made during a metalwork class at school, a small circlet of metal engraved with the initials ‘CFX’, that Erik took when Charles wasn’t looking.
Charles gasps quietly when he sees it, taking the ring from Erik and holding it up for inspection.
“I forgot I even made this…” Charles says softly. “How do you have it? Why?”
“Because I wanted something that was yours, something that you made. I couldn’t stop looking at you that day in class- I could feel the metal against your skin as you moulded it, and I wanted it because, for a moment, it made me feel closer to you. I know it’s stupid… I know it’s childish and it’s silly but--”
In an instant Erik’s words are halted, because Charles is leaping forward into Erik’s arms, pressing himself against Erik’s body as he captures Erik’s mouth with a kiss. After a fairly heated embrace Charles turns to rest his head against Erik’s chest, and Erik draws his fingertips slowly over Charles’ hand, seeing that the ring is now located on Charles’ finger. It’s too small and it doesn’t quite fit right, but Erik can’t help but imagine what it would be like to reform the metal so that’s it’s correctly sized, and to slide it onto Charles’ finger one day in a ceremony with all of their friends and family looking on…
“Sorry, love. I didn’t mean to interrupt you, I just needed to kiss you”, Charles says quietly, entwining his fingers with Erik’s own. “I can’t tell you how much it means to me that you kept all these things, that you clearly value them so much, and that you’re willing to show them to me now”.
Erik shrugs. “I feel like I owe it to you. I know I can never make it up to you, or apologise enough for the way I treated you in school, but you should know that I’m going to try, that I’m going to keep trying- for you…”
Charles hums happily, rubbing his hand against Erik’s chest. “I know, darling, I know. But if you want to make it up to me once and for all there’s one thing you can do for me…”
“What is it?” Erik asks, looking down at Charles questioningly.
Charles smiles, looking up at Erik with a playful expression on his face. “Please don’t make me go on any more holidays with your mother…”
Erik can’t help but grin back at him. “Okay, then- I’ll try my best”, he replies, pressing a quick kiss to Charles’ nose.
Two months later…
It’s ridiculous. Erik knows it’s ridiculous, and ill-mannered, and rude, but he cannot help himself. For over a week he has been spending every day by his mother’s side, looking at monuments and buildings and shows and performances, unable to concentrate for very long because there is something he wants, something he needs desperately, something he has been unable to have since the day he arrived in the South Pacific, and quite frankly enough is enough.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this, Erik”, Charles says, allowing Erik to lead him by the hand along a short pathway outside a row of chalets. “This is so scandalous. Your mother will be expecting us at dinner in less than twenty minutes”.
“This won’t take long”, Erik counters, squeezing Charles’ hand as he unlocks the door to their accommodation with his powers and pulls Charles inside. Erik guides Charles into their bedroom and over towards the bed, feeling a flush of guilty pleasure run through his body as he takes off his shoes and trousers, before flipping back the covers on the bed and slipping beneath.
“This is so silly”, Charles says, sliding into bed and immediately snuggling closer to Erik, eventually coming to a stop lying on his side with his chin resting against the top of Erik’s head and his legs wrapped around Erik’s waist. “Sneaking away from your mother just so we can take a quick nap together...”
“Mm, I know, terrible…” Erik murmurs, listening to the soothing rhythm of Charles’ heart. “But neither of us has been able to sleep properly for a whole week, what with the sound of her snoring coming through from the next room. I can’t take it anymore, so if I have to lie to my mother in order to get some rest then I’m willing to do it. I’ll just have to face facts- I’m the worst son ever”.
“You are…” Charles agrees playfully, but he dips his head to press a kiss to Erik’s forehead and whispers: “But you’re the best boyfriend…”
Two months ago Erik would have disagreed, but over the past several weeks he has spent days and nights with Charles- cooking for him, taking him on dates, and generally treating him as well as he deserves, and now, finally, Erik feels like he might be worthy of Charles’ affection. There is still a large part of Erik that still considers Charles to be too bright, too kind, and too perfect to be shackled to someone with such a short temper, someone who works too much, someone who gets grumpy when he’s a bad meeting or when he can’t get his usual muffin at Starbucks. But Charles has never shown anything but pure appreciation at the fact that they are together, and Erik is content to believe that Charles is really, truly happy.
Still, even though Erik feels better about his standing with Charles, he is still completely floored when Charles lets out a sleepy sigh, as he always does when he’s just about to fall asleep, and murmurs quietly: “I love you…”
Suddenly, sleep is the furthest thing from Erik’s mind. His eyes snap open and his heart judders in his chest, but he barely manages to get out a desperate: “What did you say?” before Charles is releasing his hold and rolling over to lie on his back, both hands reaching up to cover his face.
“Liebling…” Erik says softly, shifting closer to Charles on the mattress as he stares down at him, fearing that Charles’ defensive body language betrays the fact that he didn’t mean what he just said- that the words were just a silly mistake. But deep down, Erik knows Charles means it. Though the two of them may not always speak freely about their emotions (given it is hard to break the habit of a lifetime) Erik knows in his heart how Charles feels. He knows because he can sense the emotion coming from Charles’ mind every time they lie together, and recognises it because it mirrors exactly how Erik has felt for years.
“Charles, I love you too…” Erik whispers, watching Charles’ face in anticipation of the moment when it brightens, and feeling reassured when Charles abruptly removes his hands and his eyes go wide and he smiles- the expression so hopeful and so sweet.
“You do?” Charles asks, softly awed.
Erik smiles. “Of course I do. I always have”.
Within an instant any trepidation is gone from Charles’ expression, and he bodily rolls on top of Erik- pressing him down into the mattress as he begins to press fevered kisses to Erik’s face.
“You really love me?” Erik asks as Charles continues the onslaught.
“Mm-hmm”, Charles replies, in-between placing kisses. “I love you, darling. I’ve always loved you. I can’t believe you never realised it before”.
“Well, Raven has always said we’re both very stupid…”
Charles grins, pausing as he looks down at Erik, pure contentment and joy on his face.
“Two idiots, hopelessly made for each other”, Charles says.
Erik can’t help but smile back in agreement. “Absolutely”, he replies, before lifting his head in anticipation of a kiss that is, always, wilfully given.