“I won’t stop you leaving,” Charles told him. “I could… but I won’t. Shaw’s got friends,” he added, as he turned and sauntered back toward the building. “You could do with some.”
Erik drew a deep breath, as the door swished shut behind him. The night air was cool, and smelled faintly of cut grass. Staring at the pavement, Erik marveled distantly at how damn sincere Charles always sounds – like he really believes it when he says “You’re not alone.”
He probably does, thought Erik, disgusted at the sadness he felt when he imagined Charles finding out someday that it wasn’t true. Everyone was always alone – no one to make hard choices for them, and nobody to blame but themselves. He had learned far too young that nobody could protect you except yourself.
Erik hated how tempted he was. Hated how much he trusted Charles, ever since he first heard the man’s voice in his head. Hated that when Charles said friends Erik thought of the way Charles’ presence felt in his head, warm, earthy and inquisitive, like cinnamon; comforting, safe. The file was in his briefcase; he could walk away and go after Shaw himself, armed with the CIA’s information. He should. And he hated that all he wanted was to follow Charles back into the building, press him into a wall, and kiss him breathless.
But Erik had always been a pragmatist. Consequences and implications were for the morning after – the least he could do was find out if his hunch about Charles was right. If he didn’t, he would always wonder. It didn’t mean he had to decide about staying or leaving.
Charles was halfway up the staircase in the lobby when Erik caught up with him. Before he could say anything, Erik began, “When you said you knew everything, did you know this?” and projected the scene he had been imagining, digging his fingers into that silky chocolate hair, tipping Charles’ head back, licking, biting at those expressive lips until they were red and wet and begging for more.
Blinking, Charles swallowed visibly, and cleared his throat. “Yes, actually, however I wasn’t certain that you yourself were aware of them.”
“Well I am.”
“And?” Erik prompted. Not that he would ever admit it, but his heart was beating a little faster under his ribs.
A small smile twitched Charles lips, and Erik breathed out. The soles of his shoes scuffed on the stairs as Charles descended, closing the distance between them.
Reaching out, it was Charles who closed a hand around Erik’s arm and pulled him in, Charles who pressed their bodies together. “And I am terribly glad of that,” he murmured against Erik’s lips.
Later, Erik thought he should have heard warning bells when he got a knee to the face slicking Charles open, and it was funny instead of awkward. As an expert in casual sex, Erik knew that wasn’t how it was supposed to go, but in the moment it was the last thing on his mind.
In hindsight, it was probably already too late.
After they caught their breath, Charles heaved himself up off the bed and wobbled to the bathroom. Erik could hear water running, but didn’t move. He felt heavier and more sated than he had after sex in a long time.
By the time the faucet shut off and Charles was back in the bedroom, fumbling for his clothes, Erik had roused himself enough to sit up, watching Charles dress himself in the orange light spilling from the bathroom.
His first impulse was to say “Where are you going?” before he realized that Charles was of course returning to his own room – Erik’s had been closer, so that was where they had ended up.
Pulling on his jacket, Charles leaned over the bed, bracing himself on the mattress with one hand, and cupping Erik’s cheek with the other. This kiss was deep and slow and painfully tender, and when they parted, Charles pressed their foreheads together and whispered, “Think about it.”