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The Price of Free Will

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He was a little startled when the mutation pick-up line actually worked for the first time. Of course it was more likely his innate charm and not the words, but he wasn't going to complain. Not when it landed him in bed with a pretty little auburn-haired co-ed, and the chance to stay up all night for something that wasn't entirely academic.

Raven didn't speak to him for at least a day afterward.



"You don't see it, do you?" Raven spat. "Charles, I am your sister and even I want to fuck you senseless."

Charles choked on his drink. "Raven!"

"It isn't because I find you attractive -- which you are, as if you need me to tell you that, ego the size of yours hardly needs feeding. It's because you want people to want you."

"I." Charles stared at her. "What?"

"Think about it," she snarled.



Mutant and proud.

Charles found himself probing the minds of the people flirting with him, going deeper to make sure they actually wanted it. But the further into their minds he got, the less he was sure of what was their need and what was his.

"I can't," he said to one charming candidate, who just wrinkled her nose at him and went off to find someone better.

Mutant and proud?

"I can't ever truly know, can I," he said to Raven.

"Oh, Charles." She hugged him, held him close, like she was his protector.



At first there was nothing in Erik's mind but a single-minded need for vengeance, and a wall of hatred and pain and anger and destruction.

"I won't stop you leaving," Charles said. "I could--"

(it would be easy, so easy)

"--but I won't."

When Erik remained, Charles found himself wondering how much of that was actually Erik's choice.



Erik's seduction style was less candlelight-and-roses and more smouldering intensity and raw power. He gave Charles every chance to pull away, the first time they kissed; but Charles, hypnotized by his eyes and his hands and his voice and his need, just surged forward hard enough to rattle their teeth together. It was anything but gentle, and Charles reveled in it.

But when Erik slid one hand into Charles' trousers, fingers seeking willing flesh, Charles drew back in panic. "No--"

Erik pulled back. "I thought you wanted this," he said, as much apology as Charles was likely to get.

"I do," Charles said, "more than anything. I just... I can't."

"Why not?"

The question was reasonable enough. As an answer, Charles slid easily into Erik's mind, and it was under his control that Erik raised his hand to his mouth, tongue flicking out to taste the hint of Charles that remained.

Charles released him, and walked away, leaving Erik staring at his own hand in bafflement.



Erik glowered down at the glass of water he wasn't drinking. "Charles is impossible."

"Charles is ... noble," Raven corrected. "He wants his partners to come to his bed willingly."

"And turns them away when they do!"

"Only because he has no way of knowing." She shifted into her brother's form. "Erik, please, I need you," she said in a mockery of her brother's voice. "I need you so much my mind is pulling me to you. Like a magnet," she added, and then shifted back into her normal form. "When you call metal to you, does it come of its own free will?"

"Ah," Erik said.



"By the way," Erik said pleasantly enough, "you are an idiot and a hypocrite."

Charles froze, chess move half-made. "I'm sorry?"

"You go on and on to the others about how they need to learn control, when you don't have any yourself."

He put the knight carefully down in its square before answering. "I have enough control."

"Perhaps, but what good is that if you don't trust it?"

Charles blinked at him. "I... what?"

Erik stood restlessly and moved to lean over Charles, hands braced on the sides of the chair. The wooden frame was unyielding beneath his hands; had it been metal, it would have warped with the force of his grip. "I want you. You want me. It's very simple. Except you made it into this labyrinthine impasse where you think that I only want you because your mind is warping mine."

"That's not--" Charles protested.

"Isn't it?"



"Okay," Charles said, running his hands through his hair. "Okay. --No. Wait."

"Stop over-thinking this," Erik said with remarkable patience, and flicked his fingers downward. The zipper of Charles' fly slid down obediently.

"Oh," Charles said helplessly, and Erik curled his fingers into the waistband and tugged.



Erik was on his knees, one hand wrapped around Charles' cock as his mouth teased at the head.

"More," Charles said, and then, "...are you sure you want--?"

Erik let his teeth scrape against flesh, very lightly, and Charles quivered in response.

"Erik-- God-- please--"

Erik looked up at him through dark lashes. "Is this how you imagined it?" he asked, and then swallowed as much of Charles' cock as he could manage.

"Nngh-- better-- I didn't--" Charles was panting, aching with need. His hips thrust forward involuntarily, pushing him that much deeper into Erik's mouth. "Didn't expect--"

Erik pulled free, chest heaving as he breathed. "Then it isn't you doing this," he said pointedly. "It's what I want too, damn you."



Charles kissed Erik deeply, licking past swollen lips into the depths of his mouth. Erik tasted like coffee and sex, sticky with traces of Charles' seed.

"Do you believe me?" Erik said hoarsely. "About wanting you."

"Yes," Charles admitted around a twinge of conscience.

"Oh good," Erik said, and grinned. "I'd probably have to kill you otherwise."