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I Don't Know Why I Like You (But I Do)

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“I still don’t understand why you seem so hell bent on always giving Charles such a hard time,” Steve starts, again - for what must be the billionth time, Erik notes. “He’s a really nice guy, always super thoughtful and whip smart, hell, I know you’d like him and get along like a darn house on fire if you just gave him a chance, Erik.”

Erik can’t help but roll his eyes and the words leave him before he can give them permission to, “if you think he’s so amazing, why don’t you just fuck him already?”

The way Steve flushes still surprises Erik at times, honestly believing the that time of bashful blushing had died out back in the twenties, and yet here was Steve Rogers to prove him wrong; for all his dirty jokes and clear attractiveness, Steve would blush at the drop of a fucking hat

“I won’t lie, Charles’ an attractive guy,” something twists within Erik just then, an uncomfortable clutching and constricting of his heart as his hands tighten slightly on the steering wheel, “but he isn’t really my type.”

You could torture him, but Erik would never admit to the instant relief he feels, nor the way his shoulders relax right then.

“That’s right,” the young German starts, smirking at his friend, “Rogers only has eyes for a certain someone.”

“Erik,” Steve warns, the cherry red flush now painting the tips of his ears.

“What? It’s no secret that young master Stark is an attractive guy,” Erik can’t help but continue to tease, better for the attention to be on Steve than himself. “Plus have you seen his ass?”

“ERIK!” The blond yelps, face - somehow - redder.

Lehnsherr grins, shark-like teeth on full display and guffaws loudly when his Boy Scout of a friend flicks him off as Erik takes the exit to Tony’s house, for a moment he thinks the conversation is over, but leave it to Rogers to never know when to back down.

“I’m serious Erik, I see how you look at him-”

“With contempt?”

“-and it’ll only be a matter of time before someone snatches him up.”

“Why would I care if some unlucky bastard gets together with Xavier?”

Why are you lying to yourself?” Steve fires back with an ease that can only come with having asked a question so many times, and believe Erik, he has.

“Who says I am?” Erik answers flippantly, pointedly not answering with because the things he does to me are infuriating beyond all belief and confuses me to no end, only made worse by the fact the fucker doesn’t even know he’s doing it.

Steve huffs, “you’re more hard headed than Bucky.”

“Thank you.”

Not a compliment,” Steve chuckles with a shake of his head. “Well, I guess it doesn't matter anyway,” Erik turns into Tony’s garage, but suddenly, his stomach seems to coil up, “I think your time’s run out anyhow.”

With a shrug Steve exists Erik’s parked car with practiced ease, the two step out in relative silence with their duffles for their weekend at Tony’s, and Erik doesn’t ask what Steve had meant as he locks up the vehicle because he doesn’t care. Erik doesn’t care. Really. He doesn’t. Charles Francis Xavier had been a thorn in Erik’s side since the moment they’d met, from his stupidly large blue eyes down to his damn posh accent and endless optimism; Erik and Charles were polar opposites that drove each other mad, opposing ends of a magnet that could never touch, no matter how childish-like one’s stubbornness - read: Steven Grant Rogers - and determination is to try to shove them together.

If Erik’s gut clenches at the possible meaning behind Steve’s words, well, he blames that on his breakfast not sitting right.


 

“You’d better have a wad of cash ready, because you’re the only person I know who’ll be able to pay my bail,” Charles huffs, flopping down into Tony’s bed, over stuffed backpack falling with a muffled thud to the floor.

“Bail for…?”

“When I get incarcerated for the murder of Erik Lehnsherr, that’s what for!”

Tony snorts and grins, arms folding over his chest as he stares down at his best friend, “oh c’mon Charles, working with Erik can't be that bad.”

“No,” the young Englishman replies, running a hand down his face, “it’s worse.”

“You’re being dramatic.”

Charles shifts just enough to glare at his friend, “the one day I miss school, you've gone and signed us up for a group project with the heathen just to get closer to Steve!”

“I did not-”

“Oh don't even deny it Tony, everyone but Steve knows you've been head over heels for that Boy Scout since middle school.”

“I can neither confirm nor deny that,” the young Stark states with a shit-eating grin, amusement gleaming clear in his brown eyes.

Charles sighs, deep and heavy as he drags blue eyes back towards the high ceilings of his best friend’s room; they haven’t even begun their project and he’s ready to rip his hair out because of Erik. They may have run around in the same circle of friends, but it was no secret that Charles and Erik were always at odds with each other - to put things lightly. Charles honestly never knew where the hostility came from, or how he and Erik became notorious for always bickering, but despite not being able to pinpoint the why or how it's been this way since the ninth grade - hell it’s gotten to the point their friends would use them as a replacement for the phrase it’s like comparing apples to oranges (it’s like comparing Erik to Charles). However, with the long weekend afoot - a nicer way the school had dubbed the need to close the facility down, then again, saying there was a rat infestation would have probably caused for public outcry - and a project to be done, Charles swore he’d do his best to keep some level of decorum between Erik and himself - if only for the sake of his grades.

It was then, the doorbell rang.

“Bitch about the Devil and he shall appear,” Tony sniggers, moving to stand and walk out of his room, the young brunet silently listens as his friend goes to let in Steve and Erik.

Charles could hear the faint conversation of his friends - barring Erik, who he only technically knows due to association - for a moment before Tony’s calling for him, yelling over the distance that they’d be working on their project in the pool house - it was then Charles honestly doubted any actual work would be done today, but with a sigh the brunet grabs his school bag and heads downstairs.


 

“I’M GOING TO STRANGLE YOU, ERIK!”

So much for decorum.

“Oh please, you couldn't even reach my neck if you tried,” the young man chuckles, staring down at Charles from the pool’s edge.

Charles glares up at the smug teenager, chocolate locks plastered to his forehead allowing pool water to drip into his eyes, and despite needing to paddle his arms to keep him properly afloat Charles still launches a hand out of the water to flip Erik off. Grumbling a very colorful vocabulary under his breath, the seventeen year old paddles his way to the pool’s ladder and hoists himself up, standing in sopping clothes that cling uncomfortably to his skin. Flopping down onto one of the poolside chairs, the young man flicks his wrists, splatters of water spraying the floor around him before running a hand through his shaggy hair - his mane undoubtedly sticking up every which way at the action.

“You okay Charles?” Steve asks from across the pool, still dressed snugly in dry clothes - Charles notes, petulantly.

“Fine Stevie, thank you.”

The Dorito-shaped teenager - a descriptor Tony had lovingly dubbed Steve upon first introductions - nods, hands moving back to grip the collar of his shirt before pulling the fabric over his broad shoulders, and it isn't only Tony that gawks at the sight. It was no secret Steve was undoubtedly attractive, from his Adonis physique to his aw-shucks demeanor; the blond was hard to look away from, though at least Charles was more subtle about his creeping, while Tony’s eyes were as sharp as a hawks’, and the low whistle Stark exhales only served to make Steve blush almost purple - though Charles was sure that was the whole point, sly bastard. Clearly Xavier had not been informed that the first day of their impromptu long - and unsupervised - weekend at the Stark mansion was going to begin with a swim, and Charles couldn't help but pout about the fact he had nothing for the rest of the day, barring the - currently dripping - clothes on his back. Tony was quick to strip after Steve, swim trunks at the ready under his worn sweatpants, and Charles couldn't help but think a heads up would have been nice, you arse!

It was then a voice caught his attention; Tony.

“Yo Professor X, just head on upstairs and grab a pair of my swim shorts!”

Not a professor!” Charles calls out, glaring daggers at his best friend.

“Yet!” Tony laughs, waving his hands as though to say get changed already!

Charles wanted to argue that he was fine, but a crisp wind that blew by rendered his point moot the moment his body shivered, plus Tony was already absorbed in a water fight with Steve - thus, his visual daggers were going unnoticed. With a sight the brunet stands, arms wrapped around his torso, and makes to head back into Tony’s house when he stops.

Whipping around Charles glares, “what? Planning on pushing me down the stairs this time?”

Erik simply rolls his eyes, “oh please, you're not worth the jail time.”

Charles makes an indignant sound, but whips around and marches back to the house none the less, mentally pelting Erik with every curse word under the sun - in several languages, may he add. The duo walk in silence, Charles making sure to walk ahead of Erik lest he attempt to throttle the man, and makes his way up to Tony’s room where he rummages through his friend’s closet. Procuring a pair of cornflower blue swim trunks Charles grins triumphantly, only just managing to turn when he runs smack into a very firm torso; Erik’s torso, lovely.

“Ever hear of personal space?” Charles huffs, sidestepping the teenager. “And what are you even doing here? Didn't you bring your own swimming clothes?”

Erik doesn't reply, instead choosing to rifle through Tony’s clothes first, “looks like Stark didn't let either of us in on his impromptu pool party plan.”

Standing back up and turning around Erik’s gaze meets Charles’ once again, the taller of the two advancing the pale teenager and stops a few scant feet away, tossing the black swimming trunks onto the bed and it takes a moment for Charles to realize what he’s doing.

Flustered, Charles rips his gaze away from the honey-haired man while he strips off his shirt, “there’s a perfectly working bathroom across the hall for you to change in, hell Tony has a bathroom in his room, too! There's no need for you to get naked in front-”

“Why?” Erik cuts into Charles’ tangent with a grin, far too many teeth to be fair on display, voice as smooth as silk as he speaks - a low rumble of amusement that makes Charles hair stand on edge, but in no way he’ll ever admit to. “Are you embarrassed, Charles?”

The brunet balks at Erik’s words, snorting as he meets the man’s gaze in the best glare he can muster, “of you? Don't flatter yourself.”

“Oh then I must be affecting your delicate sensibilities, go on and change in the bathroom, I have no such reservations.”

Charles knows the challenge in Erik’s words for what they are, and makes a point of tossing his own trunks onto the bed before yanking off his drenched polo, moving quickly as to not second guess himself as he unbuttons his jeans and shucks the soaked garment to the ground.

“Neither do I!”

Charles is actually slightly proud of himself for keeping his voice steady, but is still unsure of how much longer he’ll be able to fight the burning under his skin from flushing his face, a task made much harder once Erik drops his pants, too. The two teens maintain eye contact, both willing the other to give in and change in the lavatory like most normal humans would, but Erik is a proud bastard and Charles is - admittedly - far too stubborn for his own damn good; when the first of the two unabashedly hooks two thumbs under his boxers and tugs the garment down, Charles is only seconds behind. You really are a bloody knob-head, aren't you, Charles? the brunet’s mind huffs, but cerulean eyes remain unwavering as they continue to gaze at Erik’s near-gray. However, something shifts in Erik’s challenging gaze, and while Charles has always been good at reading people - some would often claim him to be a ‘mind reader’ - Erik remains as hard to read as ever before, a damn enigma encased in the toned athletic body of a seventeen year old. The soccer player is the first to look away, a large hand reaching out to grab his swim trunks and pull them on, and Charles feels a flare of triumph well in his chest - that is, until Erik speaks.

“Maybe you're not the prude little prince I took you for, Charles.”

The teenager in question huffs a laugh, reaching for his own shorts, making a - rather annoyingly hard - effort of not glancing over at Erik’s nude form to his right. Pulling on the swimwear as quick as possible, Charles turns his back to Erik, tying the waistband-strings snugly around his hips.

“Clearly you don't know anything about me, Erik.”

The waft of hot air Charles feels fan over his shoulder leaves him standing stock-still, hairs standing edge almost as quickly as his heart is suddenly pounding, but he doesn't dare turn - though Charles really doesn't know why.

“Clearly I don't…” Erik all but whispers from behind him, the young Englishman can almost feel the heat of Erik’s skin against his own, swallowing thickly when the honey-haired shark of a teenager remains behind Charles for a moment longer - soft puffs of air still warming his shoulder.

Then, all too quickly, the warmth is gone.

Charles watches Erik come out from behind him and silently walk out of Tony’s bedroom, the smaller brunet’s head spins ever so slightly at the jarring change of body temperature, but it must be nothing more than to do with the fact Erik surprised him - yeah, that’s it...I was surprised is all, Charles’ mind reasons.

He won't ever admit, however, that he did need a moment to collect himself before finally leaving Tony’s room.