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We Met At The Park

Chapter Text


Chapter 1

The park was very eerie at this time of night. The soft orange glow from the odd lamp placed along the winding pathway gave out very little light, and only really through the glow of the very bright half moon was Erik able to navigate the path through the dark.  Erik glanced at his watch as he walked, pulling his long coat around himself to keep out the chill.  It wasn’t exactly a cold night, but it wasn’t warm either, that odd time between spring and summer where every night could be a vastly different temperature to the one before, especially in England.

To the left as he walked was a ridge that led down a large steep hillside, fenced off with park benches placed at intervals for people to sit and view the world beneath them.  The world beneath them was London, at least the outskirts of it; this little park on a hill was part of the Surrey Downs, where nature met city, and where silence meet traffic jams.

It was silent now, save for the soft barely audible roar of cars from the M25 somewhere down below, and the soft rustle of leaves in trees as the midnight breeze wafted softly through the air. Erik’s footsteps were the other only other sound, a steady pattern of steps as he walked, heading for his favourite bench.

He usually came into the park after his work hours at the bank, sitting in the sunlight still in his suit, reading a book on the bench, mothers and children and dogs walking behind him, playing and talking and soaking in the evening sunlight.

He hadn’t however, ever come to his bench at midnight.  He found he couldn’t sleep tonight, the numbers from a large account he’d opened today with a customer running through his head. He didn’t know why, he’d been at this job for 10 years, but for whatever reason he couldn’t shut his mind off tonight, so decided to take a stroll through the quiet to clear his head.

There was a small cough from behind him, and suddenly his weren’t the only footsteps.

Casually turning his head quickly at a glance as he walked, he saw a young man following someways behind him, dirty white jeans and a long sleeved cream top that was far too long for his arms, the hems falling over his knuckles.  Even in that quick glance in the dark Erik could see a pair of incredibly bright blue eyes peering up from underneath dark floppy curls, watching Erik as he’d turned to look at him.

Erik’s pace quickened, stuffing his hands into his coat pockets.  It wasn’t as though he couldn’t be the only person to fancy a midnight walk, but then in this day and age it never boded well to be followed in the dark, no matter how scrawny the person looked.

Turning off the path round a set of trees, presuming and hoping the young man would carry on down the path, Erik headed across a small patch of grass before landing eyes on his favourite bench, the twinkling lights of London spread out before him.

Settling himself down on the wooden slats, Erik brought out a small square metal flask from the inside pocket of his coat, un-doing the cap and taking a small swig.  The gin burned his throat, but kept him warm from the chill in the air.  Placing it back into his pocket, he leant back on the bench, staring out into the night.

He tried to look casually blasé when that young man walked slowly in front of him, hoping up onto the other end of the bench and sitting on the arm rest, feet planted firmly on the seat as he smiled at Erik.

Erik didn’t look at him, ignored him entirely. This man was obviously after something and if worse came to worse and he was a mugger, well, Erik shouldn’t have any problem over powering him but it didn’t mean he wanted to get in a fight.

He could smell smoke, white puffs of it floating into his vision as the man took a long drag of the cigarette that was dangling between his fingers.

“Are you looking for something?” the man eventually asked.

His voice was soft, so young sounding, and not at all the accent Erik had been mentally associating this shady character with. He sounded rather posh.

“No.” he replied after a short pause, wondering whether he should reply or not and in the end deciding to just act bored and uninterested, still staring out over London.  With any luck he’d go away.

The man laughed quietly, “You sure?”

Erik turned his head ever so slightly and glanced at the man.  Sitting here away from the trees the moon was even brighter, and the silvery light that fell onto this man, accompanied by such pale clothing, made his skin look almost deathly white. There was darkness under his eyes though; they looked hollow, dark shadows making a striking contrast. His dark hair hung limply in his eyes, those eyes that despite the darkness surrounding them still shone that amazingly bright shade of blue. They were almost like lamps themselves in this dark.

But it was those eyes, and those…red lips, that gave away his intentions.  The man was looking at Erik with an expression that longed for permission to move closer, a tug of a smirk on his lips that promised terribly naughty but terribly good things, and a sparkle in those eyes that spoke of mischief and back alleys, and payment in cash.

“Yes, I’m quite sure.” Erik replied, saying each word slowly and deliberately.

He had certainly not come out here looking for a Rent Boy.

The smirk and the sparkle immediately vanished, and the man sat up straight looking thoroughly put-out.  He took another drag of his cigarette before chucking the stub to the ground, running his smaller hands up and down his arms, the thin cotton material not doing much to keep out the chill.

“All right.” He sighed dejectedly, jumping down from the bench and walking past Erik without a second glance.


Wait? Erik frowned at himself.

“What?” The man had turned around, looking rather annoyed now.

Erik looked up at him, standing there thin and small, the overly large top making him look even younger, the pale skin almost making him seem ill and very much vulnerable. As he looked at the disappointed sapphire eyes, and the red lips that were now stuck in small pout, Erik was sure he felt his heart beat twice in doubly quick succession, and perhaps it was that strange sudden pump of blood that made his brain going temporarily fuzzy.

“Well, I……..heh,” he found himself smiling bashfully, and yet still frowning at his own odd behaviour, “I’m not sure exactly.” His palms suddenly felt very sweaty, and he absently brushed them against the neatly ironed fabric of his trousers.

Suddenly that pout turned into a very happy grin, “That’s all right.” The man assured, walking back over to him and sitting back up on the arm rest, hands covering his arms again in an attempt to keep the heat in, “You’re not the only man who comes in here on his own you know.”

Erik’s eyebrows rose rapidly at that, “Really?  This is a usual spot for you is it? A place where kids play all day?” He didn’t really mean for that to come out quite as accusingly as it did.

The man stared at him, before releasing a short breathy laugh through his nose, “Everything has a dark secret at night my friend, no matter how innocent they are by day.”

“I suppose you have a point.” Erik conceded, feeling he really needed to have another swig of gin from his flask, to either calm his beating heart or knock some sense into what the hell he was thinking of doing with this man.

“It’s okay.” The man smiled softly, a charming, sweet smile that once again really shouldn’t belong on someone like him, “You know what you want, right? It’s 30 for a blow job, a hundred quid and you get the…full service.”

Oddly enough, out of that entire sentence the one thing Erik focused on was the fact his accent wasn’t quiet as posh as it had first sounded.  It was a strange combination of well brought up English and London street.  Evidently his life hadn’t started out bad, but now, for whatever reason, he’d been on these streets for far too long.

The playful tug on his lips as he’d said the words Full Service however certainly brought Erik’s attention back to what had just been offered. He wondered if this man knew how adorable he was, even when saying something so underhanded. He presumed he must, presumed he knew how to work that to his advantage too, if he’d been doing this sort of…profession, for some time. The cute, adorably “innocent” Rent Boy, Erik imagined plenty of men would go for that.

Suddenly he did kind of wonder if these charms had already worked on himself too, without him even realising, because as he looked into that cheeky pale face he felt his heart doing that strange quick succession of beating again.

“What’s your name?” Erik asked softly, needing to place a name to the man he was…apparently…willing himself to sleep with.

The man looked mildly surprised at being asked, before a kind smile graced his lips, “Charles.”

“Charles.” Erik repeated gently, before smiling up at him, “That name suits you.”

Charles seemed to turn slightly bashful under Erik’s stare, before he grinned again, “You know I don’t get many men like you around here.”

“Like me?” Erik inquired.

Charles bit his bottom lip gently, still grinning, and cocked his head to one side to look at Erik’s body. Erik followed his eyes as they slowly looked up his legs, lingering at his groin, before turning up his stomach, chest, and finally making eye contact again.

“Good-looking ones.” He smiled again, “Normally it’s desperately lonely old men.”

“That can’t be pleasant for you.”

“It’s not about being pleasant for me.”

There was a rather odd awkward silence that greeted them after that, and by now Erik was so twitching for alcohol he finally gave in, taking his flask out his pocket and taking another swig, feeling Charles’ eyes on him the entire time.

As Erik swallowed the burning yet comforting liquid Charles began to laugh warmly, and Erik removed the bottle from his lips and frowned at him.

“Okay, okay, I get it.” Charles said, stepping down from the bench and grinning, “You’re nervous, not sure if you should be doing this.  Let me guess, this is the first time you’ve gone with someone like me?”

Erik nodded slowly, “Yes but, it’s not exactly nerves. I just think that ending up contemplating…” he paused, taking a breath to find the right phrase, “being with someone like you,” he gestured, using Charles’ own words, “was the very last thing I expected when I went out for a walk this evening.”

Charles continued to grin at him, before casting a quick look around them and then swiftly stepping forward. Erik’s eyes went wide, but it was the only part of him that moved as Charles placed his hands on Erik’s shoulders, placing one knee on the bench either side of Erik’s hips and settling himself down in his lap. The white jeans spread tightly across his groin in that position, and although Erik’s legs were long and Charles could have quiet easily sat further back closer to his knees, he didn’t.  Charles sat pressed firmly against Erik’s own groin, stomach to stomach, forehead to forehead, and the heat seeping through those jeans was doing nothing to help Erik’s oddly beating heart.

“Don’t worry, no one’s around.” Charles answered Erik’s un-asked question as his eyes darted to the sides, “Oh but don’t get me wrong,” he quickly added, “we’re not doing this here, it would be just my luck that the police would make their rounds, and I don’t really feel like ending up in jail.”

“Then what are you doing?” Erik asked, realising he sounded rather too breathy than he would have liked at this stage. He also didn’t really know what to do with his hands. With Charles’ knees tightly trapped at his sides there was no where he could put his arms without touching Charles, so eventually, and slowly, as if asking if it was alright, he rested them on Charles’ thighs.

Charles smiled at the awkward touch, and he giggled lightly, “I’m thinking, that as you are so good-looking, I’ll give you a freebie to help you make up your mind.”

Charles’ breath tingled the skin on his cheek in the night air, they were sitting so close yet Erik felt both very awkward and also rather turn on.  He couldn’t quite figure out if he was ashamed at being turned on at this or not, this situation was hardly a regular occurrence, or ANY kind of occurrence for that matter.

“What sort of freebie?” he asked, not sure if he wanted to know the answer, ears feeling like they were pinned back like an animal wary of any other sound of another human nearby.

Charles lifted his hands from Erik’s shoulders and stretched them out behind his head instead, bending at the elbow to wrap around his neck, pulling their bodies closer. Erik couldn’t help the quiet yet sharp intake of breath, hoping that Charles wouldn’t notice, but he did, because he smiled that cheeky smile again.

“I have been told I am a very good kisser.” He said quietly, his voice lower, seduction oozing from his words, “In fact,” he added, moving his head closer, licking his lips very slowly and not breaking eye contact for a moment, that blue blaze of eyes burning into him like a mesmerising azure flame, impossible to look away, “I’ve been told I have a very talented mouth in general.”

Those red lips parted, but it was a soft, wet tongue that reached Erik’s lips first, coaxing them apart and slowly slipping inside before those lips pressed against them. The kiss was agonizingly slow and very deep, Charles cupping the back of Erik’s head as his tongue swept inside his mouth, the hardness of teeth, the soft firmness of gum, and the hot tongue that seemed reluctant to do anything at first, but was soon and literally pulled into action as Charles gently sucked on it, massaging it into life with his own tongue. When Erik finally began kissing back Charles groaned into the kiss, pressing their bodies even closer, grinding his hips down as Erik gasped in surprise into the kiss, Charles taking advantage by both taking a breath and by running his tongue over Erik’s bottom lip, before delving back in again.

Charles smiled into the kiss when he felt Erik’s arms rise from his thighs and rest on his hips, his hands, although still unsure what they should really be doing with this man they’ve known for all of three minutes, pressed flatly against the base of his back, holding him in place.

Erik’s mind was racing. Saying Charles had a talented mouth was putting it mildly! He’d never been kissed like this, the very shivers that each sweep of tongue caused to riddle through his veins were like an electric current.  Charles buried his hands in Erik’s hair, practically pulling at the roots as he ground his hips downwards again, Erik’s hands creeping up Charles’ back until he was holding him tightly under his arms, his own hips trying to reach up off the bench to meet with Charles.

He was most certainly aroused, his growing erection pressing against his trousers and Charles’ jeans. Charles was now panting into the kiss, lips feverous against Erik’s, moving faster and harder against them, Erik quite literally melting into the bench.

Suddenly there was a loud squawk of a crow, which took off out of a nearby tree into the night sky. The sudden noise broke them apart so quickly, both looking around in that split second of time before they realised what the sound was.  Turning to one another with both equal looks of shock, Charles burst into laughter.

Erik however, was not laughing.

The sudden noise and distraction had finally clicked his brain into realising what he was doing.  He was sitting on a park bench in the middle of the night making out with a Rent Boy.  What the hell was wrong with him?  Sure he had trouble with relationships due to his rather frosty attitude with people, but he wasn’t low enough for this!

Charles was still laughing, a bubbling cheerful giggle that vibrated right through him and against Erik’s body, which had suddenly lost all arousal.

“So,” Charles stated through small giggles, biting his bottom lip again as he looked at Erik closely, “Do I win your approval?”

Erik’s face was like stone, trying to figure out how he could do this. He felt guilty already, leading this poor guy on like this. Perhaps his silence gave him away, but the laughter in Charles’ eyes quickly died, and as Erik let out a guilty sigh and looked to one side, Charles’ brows furrowed in frustration.

“Fuck’s sake.” Charles whispered, leaning back away from him and crossing his arms, knees painful on the bench, “Look, you either want to do this by now or you don’t. I’m not here for conversation my dear so if you don’t want to fuck me I’ll go and find someone who does.”

Erik inwardly groaned.  Those words, oh god hearing him say fuck sent another electric shock running straight to his groin. Suddenly the very rational thought he’d just had about not doing this seemed to flutter away along with that crow.  He’d only just got it, and now his oddly beating heart was back again.

What was wrong with him, he was like a yo-yo!  He looked back at Charles again, an annoyed glare and pouting lip as he waited for Erik’s response, still sitting on him like he owned him.

“You know,” Erik said softly, a part of himself wanting to hit himself over the head with the nearest tree trunk, “I can’t decide if that sentence, spoken with that accent, is either very wrong or very kinky.”

Charles stared at him for a moment, studying his face, before that frown melted away and that cheeky smile replaced the pout. With a look of renewed arrogance knowing what he was going to do with Erik, which somehow to Erik was something just as attractive on Charles, Charles gently cupped Erik’s cheeks and leant forward to whisper hotly against his lips;

“Why don’t I decide for you?”

Erik couldn’t help the small smile that crept onto his lips, “Your place or mine?”

“Oh definitely mine,” Charles smiled back against his lips, “I don’t do home visits.”

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

It had been a silent walk to Erik’s car, a little awkward but not terribly so, for Charles’ calming relaxed attitude had a kind of absorbing effect.  Charles explained he lived around a 10 minute drive away, and Erik was curious as to why he came here to this park rather than somewhere closer.  As if he could read his mind Charles then elaborated that business was always better in the suburbs, it was amazing the kind “weirdo’s” that came out in the country.

Erik tried not to think about that.

As they walked Erik kept on glancing at his new companion, who was still running his hands up and down his arms, and the more he watched the more Erik had the overwhelming urge to take his coat off and give it to him.  That thought however did make him feel rather embarrassingly awkward, so he didn’t act on it.

Instead Erik tried to bring up a casual conversation about the weather.  Charles had just chuckled at him, obviously thinking he was nervous and just trying to think of anything to say to break the silence.  Erik didn’t say anything else, because he realised he probably was nervous and therefore speaking was not an intelligent idea.

It had taken them around 15 minutes to walk to the car, a sleek black Mazda 6 which sat gleaming under the street lights in the driveway outside Erik’s maisonette townhouse, a tall thin white building with black wooden beams travelling up the sides and across the front, looking a lot like a modern version of a Victorian home.  The two front  doors side by side were painted a deep chocolaty brown, the one on the left that held the number 130 in faux gold letters had a doorbell beside it that read “2nd Floor: Erik Lensherr.”

 “Wow,” Charles commented at the vehicle Erik had just opened with a click and beep from the button on his set of keys, “You must be loaded.” His eyes racked across the immaculately clean car and then up at the house.

Erik threw him a quick smile as he walked around to the driver’s side, “Actually it’s a company car.”

“A company car?” Charles repeated, a grin forming on his face as he opened the passenger door, “You really must be loaded then.”


“Don’t mind do you?”

“Hm?” Erik took a quick glance away from the road to look at Charles, who was holding up an un-lit cigarette, “Oh, go ahead. I smoke as well so it’s fine.”

Eyes back on the road he heard the rustle of matches as Charles took one from the small box and struck it against the side, a spark of flame igniting. Erik glanced at him again as Charles held the match at the end of the cigarette, and was rather alarmed to see just how much his hand was trembling. Turning back to the road, he reached out with his hand to the dashboard to turn on the heater. He didn’t think it was that cold for someone to be shaking as much as Charles was, but then Charles wasn’t exactly wearing anything that looked remotely warm.

“Yeah, I can imagine you’d look good with a cigarette,” Charles playfully flirted after taking a drag of his own, his left arm that had been trembling now tucked across his chest, “So, you married?”

“No.” Erik smiled, amused at the very thought.

Charles let out a small haughty laugh, “Well, that is what they all say.” He grinned.

Erik’s smile widened, “No, I’m really not married.” He could feel Charles’ eyes on him, the smell from his cheap cigarette gradually filling the car, and he pretty much knew the next question Charles had.

“Gay then?” Charles inquired, that cheeky smile seeming to be permanently attached to his lips.

Erik thought about that for a moment, before he replied with a small sigh, “I suppose I could be defined with that, although unattached is more accurate. I don’t really have time for people.”

The last fling Erik had that could be called anywhere near a relationship was with a man 6 years ago, a ‘relationship’ that had lasted a grand total of three weeks.  And that was the longest one that had ever lasted.

“Mmm,” Charles murmured around his cigarette, “I can see that. The tall, attractive, stoic type, breaking hearts everywhere he goes but never letting that special person in.”

Erik smiled again, throwing him a quick glance, “Hardly.”

Charles giggled, “Yes you are. I can tell. And where are you from anyway? I can’t quite place the accent…is it German?”

Erik was genuinely surprised by this, and it took him a moment to reply, “Yes, but I’ve lived here since I was ten years old, I thought I’d lost any accent I had. I’m surprised you picked up on that.”

Charles grinned, “Oh I talk to a lot of people.”

Talk to’…..evidently a polite phrasing for ‘sleep with’.

“I suppose you do.”

A brief silence filled the car, Charles continuing to smoke and staring out the window for a few moments before he suddenly pointed towards a turning up ahead on the left, “Just pull in here please, park anywhere.”

Erik turned into the dark road and found himself driving down what looked like a very run down estate.  A group of teenage boys quickly scattered in the cars headlights from where they were spraying graffiti on a shop window, the windows of the shop next door boarded up with planks of wood.  Piles of uncollected rubbish lay at the side of the road, and an urban fox poked its head around the corner of one, its eyes shining as the car drove slowly past.

Finding a single yellow line at the side of the road, badly worn from its years, Erik pulled the car into its spot and switched off the engine. Charles was looking at him, that same, far too adorable look with a hidden spark in his eyes.  Erik just stared back at him, wondering, now he was here, what exactly the procedure was for this kind of thing.

“By the way I...haven’t told you my name yet.” He pointed out, suddenly realising Charles had never asked for it.

“Most people don’t like to tell me their name,” Charles said, stretching out his arms, “they think I might try to find out who they are and bribe them.”

“Oh.” Erik paused, barely a seconds worth of thought on the matter before he said, “It’s Erik.”

A slow, warm smile spread over Charles' lips, “Well then Erik, it will be a...pleasure, to meet you.” He grinned deviously, “Come on then.” He added, opening the car door.


Erik felt somewhat like someone being led blindfolded to a surprise, a surprise they couldn’t figure out if they actually wanted or not.  He followed behind Charles down a side alley, opening out into a row of misused estate garages, yet more graffiti and more piles of rubbish littering the landscape, even the skeleton of a burned out old car.  Charles led him down a large flight of concrete steps, arms crossed protectively and warmly in front of him, before he looked over his shoulder at Erik walking down behind him, “It’s just down here.” He assured him.

Erik nodded, watching as Charles bounded down the last few steps.  He probably thought that Erik was slowing down, and that would be because he was, as he was having those second thoughts again. He kept on replaying the night so far in his head, especially the thought of what he would have been doing right now if he hadn’t gone out for that walk.  Well that was easily answered; he’d be sleeping, and certainly not following a strangely alluring and cheeky rent boy into a very dodgy looking neighbourhood, wondering why his feet continued to walk towards him when his mind kept on telling him this was a bad idea.

“Just in here.” Charles opened a plain wooden door on the building to their left, holding it open with a smile for Erik to walk through.

Staring up at the tall building above him, many windows broken and brickwork crumbling, Erik somehow ignored all his common sense and walked inside.  Following Charles up another flight of stairs they came to a long sparsely lit corridor, many doors to many flats lining the walls.  There was blaring music coming from behind one of them, and as he followed Charles along the dirty and stained grey carpet a door burst open behind him, that music blaring out loudly, and a young man staggering out looking blearily around him before throwing up all over the carpet.

“Sean, Sean!” came a laughing voice, a blond man appearing beside him and doing nothing but pointing and laughing at his friend, a can of beer in his hand, evidently both of them wasted.

Erik’s eyes went wide as he watched them, but Charles seemed to ignore it all, obviously used to it, and pulled a single key from his back jean pocket, placing it into the door that had the number 18 written on it with what looked like black marker pen, and having to push his weight against the door to get it to open.

Pressing the light switch, the single light bulb flickering several times before finding the energy to stay on, Charles held the door open for a now very concerned and rather apprehensive Erik to follow through.  As the door shut behind him, Erik stared out into the one single room ahead of him, the ugly flowery brown wallpaper peeling at places near the ceiling.

This wasn’t even a flat; it was a bedsit, and a very sparsely decorated bedsit at that. A microwave sat on the floor in the far left corner, a neat small pile of folded clothes also on the floor not far from it. A wooden slated door hung almost off its hinges where a toilet and a thin shower could be seen behind it, a mirror on the wall with a small shatter in the bottom right corner.  Back in the room there was one cream-coloured plastic cupboard above a plain metal sink, a small cluttered white plastic cheap-looking  desk with an upturned wooden crate as a seat, and finally, the centrepiece of the room, something that looked entirely out of place, was a large double bed, neatly made with crisp white sheets and covered with a thin duvet, the cover a pale summery blue.

As Charles slipped past him and saw him staring at the bed, he licked his lips and grinned, “You know it took me many years to save up enough money to buy that bed, it used to just be a mattress on the floor. Now though,” he kicked off his tattered trainers by the dirty skirting board, jumping on the bed landing on his side and staring up at Erik, “This is much more comfortable.” He smiled excitedly up at Erik, who seemed to be rooted to the floor.  Charles’ smile relaxed and he peered up at him through his eyelashes, a small smirk tugging at his lips, “Well? Aren’t you going to come over?”

Erik’s heart was racing already. His rational brain was screaming at him to just turn around and leave before he regretted anything, whereas another part of him, the part he suspected had already been snared by this playful Charles, wanted nothing more than to climb onto that bed kiss him just as he was doing earlier.

“I don’t really know,” why I’m here, “what to do.”

Charles gave him a small smile, somewhere between sympathetic and all knowing, and slowly got up from the bed.

“Well,” he started, walking towards him and looking up at him through his bangs, “From now until the moment you cum, I’m yours to do with what you will. However,” that sentence should not have given the reaction it did to Erik’s cock, “I have four basic rules. First, once we’re done here you don’t ever come back.  If you want my services again you’ll have to find me in that park. People who sell themselves aren’t supposed to work out of general apartment buildings, it’s against the law, but luckily the landlord Mr Shaw and I have an understanding, and as long as I don’t get strange men hounding me around here and causing trouble then he doesn’t really care what I get up to.”

Erik frowned, curiosity peeked, “What sort of understanding?”

Charles raised his eyebrows slightly, before letting out a short laugh, “The understanding that he gets to fuck me for free whenever he wants to. Now the sec-“


Charles looked startled at the sudden outburst, as though having someone concerned over him was something frightening. Erik stared down at him, eyes wide and a sudden anger appearing out of nowhere ablaze in his chest. 

 “You don’t have to look so shocked my friend,” Charles said, a somewhat endearing smile to his lips at the anger in Erik’s eyes, “this is the underworld after all.”

Erik stared at him, dumbfounded. How could he say that so blasé? How could anyone think doing that was okay?   Although thinking about it, with the state this place was in he wasn’t surprised a sleazebag like that would be running the place. But still, to take advantage, this was just…sick, disturbing even that this sort of thing was happening only 10 minutes away from his own house, and what was worse was that Charles didn’t see that it was a problem.

“Now my three other rules are about things that you are not allowed to do to me. Firstly, you will not tie me down to the bed, nor anywhere else. I don’t work for an agency I don’t have people to look after me, my own wellbeing is my own concern and I don’t want people tying me to the bed, stealing what very little possessions I have and then running out on me, without paying.”

Erik nodded, trying not to look so appalled that this obviously had to have happened to Charles at some point in his life for it to be a rule now, “Understandable.” He said quietly, not sure that anything else could shock him this evening, learning about this side of life was certainly an experience to say the least.

“Second, nothing that will physically harm me. No love bites, you’re not the only one who gets to see this body.”


“And lastly,” he took a step forward, chest to chest as he looked up straight into Erik’s eyes, all cheekiness suddenly gone from this serious stare, “Under no circumstances, do you cum inside me without a condom. No bare-backing.”

Erik stared back at him for a long, long moment, waiting for his mouth to remember how to speak.

Scratch that previous thought, he could still be shocked.  

He nodded slowly, “It not once crossed my mind to do so.”

And with that Charles was all smiles again, “Good!” he exclaimed, before raising his arms and running his fingers lightly across the large collar of Erik’s coat, “Now, why don’t we get started?” he said, his voice suddenly thicker, that knowing little smile on his lips as he pushed his hands up underneath the collar, pushing the coat over Erik’s shoulders where it dropped heavily to the floor over his arms, Charles not looking away from Erik’s eyes for a second.

Charles then took the hem of his own cream top, still looking up at Erik, and pulled it up over his head dropping it to the floor, running a hand through his hair as it flopped back into place. His blue eyes looked from Erik’s face to his white shirt covered chest, and back again.

“Don’t you think you’re a little over dressed?” he teased.

Erik was staring at the exposed skin before him, the white jeans riding low on Charles' hips. He couldn’t get over how thin he was, it was almost…too thin, in fact it was too thin. When was the last time this guy had eaten anything?  His waist curved in far too much, and there was a distinct definition of ribs across his chest. But even so there was no denying, he was extremely attractive, especially in that cute ‘I really want to look after you’ sort of way......although also in that ‘I really want to take away your innocence’ sort of way too. 

Ironic really, considering Charles’ innocence was evidently lost a long time ago.

It seemed Charles however mistook the frown of concern for his well-being in Erik’s eyes as a look of nervousness, and he almost rolled his eyes, “You’re going to make me work for this aren’t you?” Licking his bottom lip as a sly smile spread over them, Charles hooked one finger under Erik’s belt buckle and pulled, walking backwards towards the bed and forcing Erik to walk with him, the belt tugging his hips forward, “You don’t have to be so bashful with me you know.” He chuckled at Erik’s stony silence, “It’s just sex.”

Erik felt like he was watching himself from outside his body, his mind frozen still, where the only thing that it could do was to look at Charles, letting himself be pulled towards the bed.

When the backs of his legs hit the mattress Charles stopped, raising his hand from the belt and slowly brushing his fingers up Erik’s shirt, leaving warm tingling sensations on the skin they touched through the fabric.  Smiling far too sweetly, he once again kept eye contact as he began to slowly unbutton Erik’s shirt.

Erik was sure he’d left his brain back in the car somewhere, because despite the… perhaps slight malnutrition on his frame, this Charles character was somehow managing to be endearing adorable and irresistibly sexy all at once.  The part of Erik telling him to leave was being drowned out by the blood pounding in his ears, the soft warm touches of Charles’ fingers as they brushed against his skin as each button was undone making him want to reach out and cradle the smaller man to his chest.

But he just watched, not trusting himself to speak as Charles came to the last button, pushing the fabric aside to gaze upon his firm chest. Charles smiled, placing his palms flat against Erik’s stomach, throwing him a cheeky glance before pushing his palms upwards unbearably slowly, up over his flat stomach muscles, ribcage, his nipples, which caused Erik to take in a short shaky breath, all the way to his shoulders, where just like the coat Charles pushed the fabric away and it let it fall down over his arms to the floor.

They now both stood shirtless, and Charles was looking up at him, head slightly cocked to one side, that sweet smile back on his lips, “How do you want me?”

“I-I’m sorry?” Oh god he was stuttering. This was why he didn’t want to talk.

Charles just chuckled softly and bit his bottom lip again. He had a habit of doing that, Erik noticed.

“What position do you want me in?” he elaborated.

“Oh. Um…” not a question Erik thought he’d ever be asked, “I don’t know, whatever’s…comfortable for you.”

This made Charles chuckle quietly again, his hands coming to rest on Erik’s hips, “Oh aren’t you a dear. But you are going to have to tell me, this is your night after all you are paying me to satisfy you, so you’re going to have to tell me what satisfies you the most.”

Erik’s mind had honestly gone completely blank.  He still didn’t think he’d ever get over the accent these words were being spoken in.  He wanted it to be funny, but it wasn’t, it was extremely hot, and he still couldn’t believe he was standing here.

A mischievous smirk suddenly fell across Charles’ face at Erik’s continuous silence, “All right.  I guess I’ll have to help you make up your mind again.”

He let himself fall backwards onto the bed, before moving up onto his hands and knees, Erik’s eyes going wide and heart thumping against his ribs as Charles knelt there with his legs parted, arse in the air, looking over his shoulder at him and grinning like a Cheshire cat. The white jeans were so taught they held against his body like a second skin, and Charles wiggled his hips in the air cheekily.

“Most people new to this prefer me in this position, where they can’t see my face, because seeing a face can be embarrassing when you don’t know them.”

The only thought that managed to process through his mind as Erik’s gaze was glued to that wiggling arse was that how anyone could not want to look at that face was unbelievable.

Charles giggled into his pillow, “Or perhaps, as you’ve been looking at my face for most of the night,” he emphasised that word as Erik seemed to struggle to turn his gaze away from his behind, “I think you’re more of a man who’d want to see me like this.”

He flipped himself over, the bed squeaking as he did, his hair flopping out onto the pillow either side of his head.

“On my back, “ he caught Erik’s eyes as he rose his knees so his feet were planted firmly on the bed, before parting them widely, “Legs spread,” he said darkly, that glint in his eyes practically sparkling, “all expressions to see, because knowing how much you’re getting me off gets you off as well.”

“Charles...” Erik's voice was barely a whisper. He was two seconds away from pouncing on this man, any second thoughts about hiring him for sex now completely gone, out the window, disappeared, goodbye!

Charles was no stranger to the lustful look that had now consumed Erik’s expression, so knew he was getting closer.

“Or maybe…” he said very slowly, shuffling back towards Erik, legs dangling off the side of the bed where he sat, his face now level with the zipper fly on Erik’s dark slacks, “…you’d want me like we were in the park,” he suggested, looking up at him as innocently as possible, peering up through his eyelashes, watching as Erik’s adam apple bobbed where he swallowed thickly, “sitting across your hips…” he gripped one hand at the side of Erik’s thigh, the other tracing across his hip bone, and simply smiled up at him, “ ….riding you.”

And that was it.

Charles suddenly found himself flat against the bed, Erik’s larger form towering over him, pinning his wrists down as he kissed him fiercely, wet tongues battling for dominance as Erik’s very quickly hardening member strained against his slacks into Charles’ hip.  Charles wanted to laugh into the kiss, if it had been possible.

It seemed he’d found a favourite position after all.

It was however very awkward laying half on half off the bed, so Erik quickly broke the kiss, wrapped his arms around Charles’ waist, one hand supporting him under his back, and hoisted him up so his head was nestled on the pillow. Instantly his tongue was demanding entrance between those red lips again, and Charles gave him access freely.

Erik felt completely over heated, his body literally aching for this man.  He wanted to feel wrong at just how easily it had been for Charles to seduce him, but right at this moment he truly didn’t care. Everything was a mass of movement, Erik’s hands wanting to touch everything all at once, one moment buried in Charles’ hair, the next palming down his chest, drowning in the small moans Charles let escape as Erik brushed over his pert nipples, before placing his hands at the side of his head and pressing further into the kiss, sucking on Charles' tongue just like Charles had been doing to his own.

Charles’ hands were a blinding rush of fingers at his own belt, trying to get the damn thing off his jeans as Erik ground his hips into him, making it extremely difficult to focus or move, but then Charles had had a lot of practise.

With a clunk of metal the clasp was free, and Erik broke the kiss, never feeling as desperate in his life as he leant back on his knees and pulled those tight jeans and underwear completely free from Charles’ legs. Charles just grinned up at him, Erik pausing in his heated attack as his eyes roamed across every inch of the naked body before him.  Charles was so pale, like he hadn’t seen sunlight for years, but he was amazingly beautiful, looking so fragile yet so in control.

Again as if he read his mind Charles was suddenly up on his knees too, kissing him hard, tongue having played the docile submissive with Erik’s previous kiss and was now back in full domineering mode. His hands clasped possessively tightly to Erik’s shoulders, fingernails digging into his skin, before with a force one wouldn’t associate with Charles’ lithe frame he shoved Erik hard down onto the bed, lifting his leg and straddling him across his hips.

“My turn.” He whispered through a thoroughly mischievous smile, ripping away Erik’s belt without even looking at it.

Erik watched with a racing heartbeat as Charles pulled his slacks right down and laughed to himself to see he still had his shoes on. Disposing of everything onto the floor Charles didn’t hesitate for a second to reach for Erik’s already rapidly hardening cock, holding it firmly at the base with both hands. He licked those delectable red lips, glancing up at Erik’s face he lowered his own, lips parting and keeping eye contact as the head of Erik’s cock slowly pushed past those soft moist lips, sliding up his tongue right to the back of his throat in one full sweep.

Erik made a noise akin to being punched in the stomach. His hips jerked upwards, head rolling back to the pillow, eyes closed at the sudden and expert deep-throating . Charles hollowed his cheeks, sucking as he pulled back, and then hummed in his throat as he went back down, the vibrations wrapping themselves around that sensitive member, Erik letting out another deep groan at the sensation.

“Ohh fuck! Charles!”

Erik managed to squint open one eye, pleasure building far too rapidly as he peered down at the head bobbing up and down between his legs. Charles swirled his tongue around the head of the cock, wetting it, massaging it, teasing at the slit, before he’d engulf him once more, nose reaching pubic hairs as if it was the easiest thing for him to do. Charles wasn’t even trying to hold down his hips whenever Erik would snap them upwards at a particular shock of pleasure, all he did was take him further into his mouth, into his throat, and Erik felt like his very skin was going to explode with heat!

He gripped the bed sheets, panting breaths falling from his lips, Charles sucking and licking and saliva dribbling down his chin and;

“STOP! Stop!”

Charles paused, before slowly sucking back up and releasing the now definitely fully hard cock. He’d heard that plea plenty of times, and he smiled cunningly, knowing full well what he’d been doing to him. Erik lay out beneath him trying to calm his breaths, matching the smirk in Charles'  eyes with his own breathless chuckle.

“That was intense, but any more and…” he trailed off, but he didn’t need to finish his sentence anyway. 

“Told you I had a talented mouth.” Charles grinned, wiping at the saliva on his chin, “You ready then?” he asked.

Erik just nodded his head numbly, “Hell yes.” He breathed, and Charles giggled.

“Shuffle up the bed then.” He said, before reaching over to a small wooden bedside table, taking the lid off a small ceramic jar and dropping what he took out of it onto Erik’s chest. Erik was now leaning back against the headboard and pillows, half sitting, glancing down to the plastic-wrapped condom on his chest then watching as Charles picked up a well used jar of lube.

 “So, do you want to do the honours? Or do you want to watch?”

Erik looked at the jar, looked up to Charles’ face, and wondered if he should be worried that at 34 years old he could cum right now just from the expression on that face.

“Watch.” He breathed, not trusting himself with any further contact, the heat just from Charles’ thighs across his own searing up to his groin, Charles’ semi-erect cock so close to his own.

Charles grinned, and then gestured to the condom he dropped on Erik’s chest, “Put that on.” He said, before opening the jar, dipping two fingers inside and reaching around behind himself.

Erik had gotten as far as picking up the condom from his chest before he found his eyes glued back on Charles.  The way he sat there, straddling him, head tilted just slightly back, lips just slightly parted, eyes closed as he pushed those lubricated fingers up inside himself, preparing for Erik’s much larger cock.

Erik’s breaths were coming in short just from looking at him; beautiful didn’t seem to be an eloquent enough word.  His hands were frozen in front of his chest, holding the condom, staring at the ever so slight twitches of Charles’ brow as Erik could only imagine the scene behind him.

Suddenly a grin broke over Charles’ lips and he opened one eye to look down at Erik, “You know this isn’t going to take very long.”

“Right.” Erik said quickly, lowering his eyes rapidly to the condom and ripping off the wrapper, aware of the heat that had risen to his cheeks.

He feared, embarrassingly, that this was not going to last long.

“Now then,” Charles whispered, sounding a little out of breath as Erik pulled the condom down over his cock, eyes twitching right back up to Charles as he felt his arms wrap around his neck, leaning onto him heavily. The soaring heat of skin on skin made Erik’s pulse quicken madly, Charles’ cock pushing up against his stomach next to his own, hardness to hardness, “Do you want me silent, holding back, acting as though I don’t want it when really I’m finding it amazing? Or do you want me moaning, writhing on you, showing you just how good you’re making me feel.”

-“It’s not about being pleasant for me.”-

The memory of what Chares had said to him earlier flashed across his mind.  Erik wanted to feel sorry for him. He wanted to feel ashamed. He wanted to somehow prove to him that not all men were disgusting perverts.

“Moaning….please.” he added, as though a bit of politeness could make up for this sordid act. Erik wanted many innocent things, it was just a shame his body and mind were too far gone from anything moral right now.

Charles just smiled softly at him, leaning up on his knees before licking up over Erik’s lips almost tenderly, one hand reaching behind himself.

Erik could feel Charles’ fingertips on his cock as he guided it to his entrance, and then there it was, that hot, tight ring of muscle that opened up for him as Charles relaxed his knees, bringing his body down and slowly pushing through, a lengthy groan rumbling from his throat, and then just like his mouth, engulfed Erik right down to the hilt.


Charles had his head thrown back as he paused to get used to Erik’s size, Erik sitting there trying to remember how to breath, his eyes squeezed shut tight for just a second as that melting heat surrounded his cock.

Charles brought his hand that was behind him around to the front and placed it back across Erik’s shoulder, wrapping around his neck again to match the other, those blue eyes finally opening to meet with Erik’s with a darkened smoulder.

“You feel good.” Erik said breathlessly, feeling like he should say something.  Charles just smiled at him.

“I’ll make you feel better.”

And then he was moving upwards, his muscles squeezing as he raised his hips, and with a gasp Erik’s hands snapped to them, needing to hold onto the body that was making him want to writhe under it already.

A breathy groan fell from Charles’ lips, eyes closed again, tongue wetting his bottom lip before sliding back down again. He rocked back and forth, slowly at first, the head of Erik’s cock almost right at the entrance before Charles would sit back again, squeezing those muscles as it slid back inside, Erik having to shut his eyes to concentrate on not cumming already, a deep throaty groan escaping him.

But then Charles began to move faster, writhing forward, his cock hitting Erik’s stomach, breathy gasps and groans tumbling from his lips as he brushed them against Erik’s own, moving closer and harder, slamming himself back down on every turn.

Erik thrust his tongue forward through those lips unable to resist any longer, giving in completely to his sexual desire not caring if these glorious sexual noises from Charles were real or fake, because he was capturing every one of them on his lips and they were causing those magnificent electrical currents to light fire to every nerve.

Back and forth, again and again, Charles’ gasps turning into mewling cries of pleasure, higher in pitch as Erik began to push his hips down with his hands on every turn, deeper, hotter, Charles panting desperately against his lips, his cheeks flushing a wonderful red hue.

Then Erik thrust his own hips upwards, and Charles abruptly arched his back, head snapping backwards and a loud gasping groan flying from his lips, “Oh God!” he exclaimed with a shaky breath, and suddenly Erik was moving. He wrapped his arms frenziedly around Charles’ waist, Charles momentarily confused as he raised him upwards, his legs automatically wrapping themselves around Erik’s waist in return, before Erik turned him around and practically slammed him against the wall, the base of his spine against the headboard, cock still deep inside him, before Erik began thrusting frantically into him from where he knelt on the bed.

“AH, oh…fuckargh!”

Charles’ eyes screwed tightly shut as his mouth hung open, head pressed against the wall as endless whimpers and gasps escaped him. Erik was snapping his hips forward rapidly and rhythmically , his arms holding Charles tightly around his waist to keep him up against the wall, burying his head on his shoulder, their bodies sliding against one another as Erik fucked him hard, thrusting so deep that only strangled cries could make it out of Charles’ throat.

Erik was beyond bliss, beyond any imagination of the word, lost in a sea of Charles and his cries, his gleaming skin, his hair that smelt of soap and spring breeze, and the unbelievably intense heat surrounding his throbbing cock, coiling in his stomach, wanting more and more for none of it was ever enough.

The thumping of body against body against wall resounded around the small room, Charles clawing at Erik’s back, Erik crashing their mouths together in a powerful bruising kiss that in the frenzy was more teeth than tongue, before Charles was forced to turn his head away to breath and to;

“Oh GOD Erik!….aaahhh!....Nggnnn, I…….oh please……oh please yes!........Erik! Oh FUCK!”

Charles arched his neck violently, legs like a vice around Erik’s waist literally screaming as he came, Erik growling possessively and loudly onto his shoulder, pumping faster as he came brutally hard, pounding Charles into the wall as he rode through it.

The room was suddenly filled with nothing but hard, short panting, Charles a boneless weight against Erik as his legs slipped from his waist, both of them sliding back to the bed still in each other arms. They stayed like that together, sweat glistening on every inch of skin, breaths trying to calm down together.

Erik clung to Charles like he never watched to let go, and pressed a soft chaste kiss to the side of his neck, breathing in his scent while they still caught their breath. This was the most incredible moment of his life, the best sex anyone could ever have wanted, and it was this pale lithe form that had held the secret to all that pleasure. He wanted him again, somehow, just wanted to start again, to love him, slowly this time, to feel this heart beat against his chest once more, to feel these warm arms around him again, to bring him home and take him a tray of breakfast in bed in the morning.

Eventually he looked up at Charles, a sated very satisfied smile to his lips.  Charles was breathing heavily, his whole face practically red with exertion, looking down at himself blearily at the white blobs of cum across his stomach and chest with a rather confused look on his face, as though he was surprised to see them.  He met Erik’s gaze though when he saw him staring at him, and replied to that sated smile with a small one of his own.

“May I have my money now please?” he breathed heavily.

Erik’s blissful loving fantasy suddenly had a sharp knife of reality cut through it, and he sighed, half amused at Charles’ timing, and half hidden in sadness.


To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Erik had to count it as one of the…not exactly unsettling, but certainly unusual feelings, deep in the pit of his stomach, to have had the best sex of your life and before you even had your breath back be asked for money.

Erik untangled himself from around Charles suddenly feeling rather self-conscious, and slid his legs over the side of the bed, momentarily wondering what happened to his coat before spotting it crumpled up by the door.  Before he stood up he looked down at himself, feeling hot and sticky, and turned behind him to ask Charles if he could first perhaps freshen up a little at the sink before going home.

The words were on his lips but he stopped when he turned, watching Charles sitting at the opposite side of the bed, back to him, holding out his left hand which was once again trembling rather violently. Frowning in abrupt concern, Erik peered slightly more over his shoulder as casually as possible, and watched silently as Charles placed his right hand over the top of it, his right which was also shaking though nowhere near as much, and squeezing tightly, before balling both hands into fists and then flexing his fingers, the trembling subsiding.

Erik’s frown deepened, his hand lifting up off the bed as if to reach out to him, but remaining still just above the covers. At least that proved it wasn’t because Charles was cold.  The room itself may be small and….was there even a radiator in here? But after what they’d been doing Erik knew for 100% sure Charles was not cold.

So what was wrong with him? He wanted to ask, but he got the feeling Charles would deny he’d been trembling, or tell him it was none of his business which was technically true.  Their time together was now over.  After money had been exchanged that would be it, they’d go their separate ways, and Erik would probably never see him again.

He watched as Charles grabbed some tissues from a small square box on the bedside table and got up, silently picking up his cream top and jeans and slowly getting dressed again. Erik’s freshen up idea vanished, he suddenly felt intrusive.  This wasn’t a date, this wasn’t a case of having a nice warm relaxing shower and then snuggling back into bed again.

This night was over.

He’d have a shower at home.

Erik got up and retrieved his own scattered clothing, re-dressing himself before picking up his coat off the floor.  As he did he casually glanced at the cluttered desk nearby, covered with pieces of A4 paper, a few pencils, a biro and a ruler, and a pile of textbooks.  Curiosity peeking as he fumbled in all the pockets in his coat to find his wallet, he peered a little closer, and could read some of the titles:

GCSE: Additional Science. GSCE: History. GSCE: Math.

His eyes widened as he stared at them, a cold chill suddenly running down his spine. GCSE? But...that would mean…

“How old are you?” he suddenly blurted out into the silence, turning to look at Charles with a rather panicked look on his face.

Looking up from re-clasping his belt, Charles saw the panic and the eyes glancing at the books and threw him a faint smile. “Isn’t that the sort of question you should ask before you fuck someone into a wall?” The colour drained from Erik’s face, but Charles just laughed weakly, “Don’t worry, don’t let the books fool you. I’m twenty six.”

Releasing a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, Erik turned quickly from the books and focused back on the never ending supply of pockets on his coat, thanking any God out there that he hadn’t just had a night of paid sex AND have it with someone under age. Although he wondered, not for the first time now, how this well spoken young man had come to be in this life, and why was he studying school material aimed at 15 year olds? Had he not had an education? He didn’t sound like it, although perhaps he was just basing too much on the accent.

He also didn’t look particularly like he was 26 but Erik couldn’t afford, for his own sanity, to think otherwise.

Finally Erik felt the smooth leather covering of his black wallet, but it was only as he pulled it out did a very dark thought cross his mind.  A thought that he really should have had a lot longer before.

Did he even have £100 in cash on him?

“Could you hurry up please?”

Erik took a quick glance over at Charles who was standing there with his arms crossed, the laughter and cheekiness gone from his voice and his eyes, as he appeared to be watching Erik carefully. Turning back to his wallet and opening it with a dreading feeling, Erik did indeed find only two £20 notes inside, and his stomach felt like it had just dropped to his feet.

Okay. Okay, it wasn’t a problem, he just had to think. He wracked his brain, trying to remember if he’d seen any cash points along the dark road on their journey over, but he couldn’t think of seeing one, so what else?

Ah! A wash of relief spread over him. Of course, he kept money at home, in the wooden box on top of the highest shelf in his bedroom, money saved for emergencies like the boiler malfunctioning and other such household problems that required money on the spot for a repairman.  It would be a pain, but hopefully Charles would understand, perhaps if he had enough there he’d give him a bit extra for the trouble.

“I don’t seem to have enough money on me.” He said in thought, just checking for any notes he might have screwed up in a rush into the small section that held his spare change.

In his distraction he didn’t really notice the pause, a pause that could have been cut through painfully with a blunt spoon.


Charles’ voice was dark, dangerous even, and so different it made Erik look up at him, “Sorry, I do have enough at home though, I’ll just have to go and get it.”

Half way through that sentence Charles ran his hand through his hair, an exasperated and angry sigh falling from his lips as he looked to one side and walked a few anxious steps, before looking back at Erik. His blue eyes were cold, wide, his lips pursed together, but Erik just continued talking, putting his coat back on.

“I know it’s a pain but we’ll have to go back to the house, I’ll drop you off back here again afterwards tho-WHOA!”

Charles had suddenly moved. Erik was sure he didn’t see him, but what he did see now was a small glinting dagger being pointed at his chest, a suddenly furious and slightly insane looking Charles glaring at him with wild eyes.

Erik backed up violently, automatically putting his hands up by his head, “Whoa Charles! What the hell are you doing?!”

“I knew it, fuck I knew it why the hell did I trust you?! Why didn’t I take the money off you first just like everyone else?!” Charles’ voice was quivering, his hair dancing around his fierce eyes, his too long sleeved shirt hiding the handle of the dagger as the hand holding it began to tremble again.

“Charles, just-“

“NO! Fuck!”  Charles turned around, panic evident in every move, but before Erik could take a step forward Charles pointed the dagger back at him, “Yeah real smooth Charles,” he said to himself, “find someone who is actually under the age of 55 for a change, have a good fuck find a nice guy let’s trust him, SHIT!”

His hand was trembling so much now he couldn’t hold the dagger straight, so he swapped hands.

Erik’s heart was thumping madly against his ribs, this was a sudden turn of events he had not anticipated.  He tried the best he could to look calm, “Look Charles please just calm do-“

“Give me your wallet!”



As the dagger drew dangerously close to him Erik quickly put his hand back in his pocket and took out the wallet.  Charles snatched it from him, backing off and fumbling trying to open it with his shaking hands.

Erik watched him carefully, arms slowly lowering as he thought about taking a step towards the distracted Charles.  Erik had a good advantage over him, both in height and build, a banker he may be but he spent plenty of time at the gym too.  Charles only had the dagger, if he could just get it out his hands…

“Forty quid.” Charles whispered, looking back up at Erik with an expression that spoke now more of fear, “Forty?! That’s nowhere near enough!!”

“Look,” Erik said, his voice trying to sound as calm as possible, his moment of advantage lost, “You know I hadn’t gone out tonight looking for this, I got caught up in the moment and I apologise, I didn’t think. But as I said I have the money at h-“

“What are the pin codes on these?!”  Charles was scrabbling at the credit cards trying to get them out of the slots in the wallet, his fingers unable to hold on to them.

Erik took a deep breath, “I’m not giving you the pin codes Charles.” He said slowly.


The knife was pointing at him once again, but it seemed Charles was hesitant to get too close. Erik couldn’t believe how much Charles was shaking now, a fine film of sweat starting to show on his forehead, breathing laboured and………..…..and then it hit him. 

Erik couldn’t believe he hadn’t seen it.

“You’re in withdrawal.” He whispered quietly, realisation dawning on his face as the anger and panic in Charles’ features slowly melted into nothing but fear at his words. “Is that what you spend the money on that you get from sleeping with people? On drugs?!”

Erik really had to work on his people skills, especially when faced with a highly agitated knife wielding rent boy, who now stood there with wide blue eyes, trembling almost head to toe, looking for all intense and purposes like he was about to burst into tears.

Except he didn’t.  Instead his eyes narrowed, and his jaw clenched.

“Are you judging me?” Charles asked through clenched teeth, taking a step closer, dropping the wallet to the floor so he could bring his other hand around the dagger to try and steady it, holding it out in front of him now with both hands as he glared at Erik so intensely, “You have NO FUCKING RIGHT TO JUDGE ME! You know NOTHING about me!!” he screamed.

“Charles please listen to me!” Erik raised his voice a little, hands back up beside his head as the trembling dagger drew closer, “I’m sorry okay, I didn’t…look, I have the money, we just have to go back to my hous-“

“I’m not going anywhere NEAR your sodding house! Now GIVE ME THE PIN CODES!!”

“No.” Erik stated sternly, lowering his arms to his sides again and fixing Charles’ glare with one of his own.  A new tactic had to be tried, wary of the dagger still pointing his way.

“What, you think I won’t use this?” Charles laughed, a high pitched frantic laugh, prodding the knife forward in a vain attempt at looking serious.

“No, I don’t think you will.” Erik said softly, deliberately standing tall and not flinching at the knifes sudden brief closeness, “Because I have a feeling you have enough problems in your life without a murder on your hands.”

He didn’t know if it was his tone or the words themselves, but Charles suddenly looked lost, lips parted, eyes widening and glistening with un-shed tears. All that could be heard now was Erik’s own slow breathing, keeping himself calm, and Charles’ shaky intakes of breath. Charles was looking at him like he’d just slapped him across the face, and he bit his lip, more tears gathering in his eyes, blinking rapidly as he tried to hold himself together.

A small, feeble voice escaped him, “You’re stealing from me.” Charles cried quietly, his voice breaking at the words and never sounding so fragile, “You have to pay me.”

“I will pay you.” Erik whispered, his heart clenching at how small Charles suddenly seemed. “I don’t know why you don’t want to come back to the house, but you don’t have to go inside.  We can drive there together, then you can wait outside by the car.  I’ll go inside, get the money and come out again. That’s it.”

Charles clenched his teeth again, looking nothing but scared, his eyes darting from Erik to the dagger to the floor, pursing his lips together, taking a step back.  In his trembling form he shook his head rapidly, but his glistening eyes looked back up at Erik, a silent plea for….something.

“I’ll pay you an extra £100”

This got Charles’ attention, and his breath stilled at the words, even his trembling seeming to ease.

“£200 altogether,” Erik elaborated, “just for being a pain.” He smiled gently, reassuringly.

Charles looked like he wanted to believe him, and for a moment looked like he was going to drop the knife, but a dark fearful frown came over his face again and he shook his head, a small whine of panic escaping the back of his throat as he took another step back.

“Look, I don’t know what you think I’m going to do to you,” Erik started gently and quietly, taking a small tentative step forward, “but I’m not going to hurt you.” He took another slow step, Charles backing up against the wall looking terrified, the knife still trembling in his hands, “And I’d really appreciate it,” Erik took another step, throwing a small smile onto his lips to try and calm the distressed Charles, “if you’d do me the same favour.”

He reached out very slowly, Charles’ tearful eyes watching his hand and not moving as it slowly encircled around his own trembling hands, warm and gentle, softly prying the knife out of them, before Erik immediately tossed it away from them onto the bed.  Charles’ hands dropped to his sides, and he stared wide eyed like a confused and frightened wild animal.

“There. Told you I wasn’t going to hurt you.”

Erik didn’t know what was going on. Didn’t know, nor really want to know, what drugs Charles was hooked on, but it was obviously something his body was addicted to fiercely judging by all this trembling and nervous eyes.

“£200.” Erik said again, Charles eyeing him warily, bringing his hands to his chest and folding one across the other, still shaking though not as much. “I promise.”

A moment passed, where Charles seemed to stare at Erik almost gently, still looking lost and small, but eventually, and to Erik’s final relief, he nodded mutely.

“£200.” He repeated quietly, “Okay.”


The drive back to the house was one of the most awkward experiences of his life.  Being in this dodgy neighbourhood Erik had locked the car doors the moment they were inside it, but doing so had freaked Charles out completely and he’d practically screamed at him to unlock them, Erik repeating over and over “Okay okay!” until the little locking knob popped back upwards and Charles calmed down.

The entire drive back was silent, Charles curled in on himself on the passenger seat, leaning against the door as far away from Erik as possible staring out the window.  He was completely the opposite of how he’d been earlier on, sitting there smoking, chatting, grinning and flirting. He’d been nothing but smiles, now he was nothing but shivers, his hands tucked underneath his armpits as he sat there trembling, all mischief gone from the now blank looking eyes.

Erik had driven slowly and carefully, making no sudden movements in case Charles thought he was trying something he shouldn’t be.  Erik knew drugs made people paranoid, but somehow he got the impression there was something else under Charles’ fear of going into people’s houses.  Didn’t normal prostitutes usually go to clients houses? Or a hotel room or something?  Why was Charles apparently terrified at the thought?

By the time they made it back to the house, pulling into the stone slab driveway, Charles was practically clawing at the handle to open the door, pushing it wide open before the car had even stopped and jumping out as if he’d been electrocuted.

He paced back and forth a few steps by the car as Erik stepped out, his lips moving quickly and silently to himself, his eyes darting to Erik as he turned to him.

“Leave the front door open,” Charles said, his hands fidgeting, the night colder now and his breath shining in the air, “so I know you’re coming back.”

“Sure.” Erik said quietly, before taking his keys and walking towards the door, Charles still pacing in small quick steps, eyes flickering to Erik before pacing again. As quickly as he could Erik run up the long stairway from the front door up to his second floor maisonette, leaving the door hanging wide open as promised. 

Erik had had a very humble beginning, but working hard in his schooling after moving to England and finding a particular interest in maths, Erik had found working high up in a bank to be a reliable and well paying job, if not the most exciting one.

His home was a large apartment, more long and thin than square, with a spacious open living area on a cream coloured shag-carpeting, a large flat screen television hanging on the wall next to an open coal-fireplace.  An old looking wall-backed piano rested to the other side of the fire, while a desk with black computer and a few house plants decorated the rest of the room. One wall was lined almost entirely with bookcases, not a single space left for another book.

The room looked very neat, aside from the two-seater sofa, which looked very old and was a rather ghastly grey-blue colour. It had some obvious red wine stains on the arms, the main body of it covered by a light brown overthrow with tassels, presumably to cover up more stains of age.

Erik loved that sofa.  It was one of very few bits of furniture that his mother had brought over from Germany when they moved here.  He’d had that sofa for as long as he could remember, remembered playing hide and seek behind it with his father when he was very small, and even though it matched with nothing, was old and stained and could probably tell a thousand tales of Erik’s life, it was also the most comfortable sofa that ever existed, and for as long as it stood held together Erik would never part with it.

A small but airy kitchen area was separated from the living room by a row of counters, a deep mahogany brown with a shiny black surface, a small matching round table with two seats sitting in the corner next to a large floor to ceiling window pane that looked out over the road to the park in the distance.

Many a morning had Erik sat there eating breakfast watching the world go by, a piece of toast in one hand, a phone in the other as his mother talked to him in German about the latest book she’d read, or how Mrs Gray next-door came round with what was an apparent attempt at a black forest gateau cake.

His mother had been a rock after his father had died, a horrific mining accident where he and several friends of the family were killed. His mother had held strong for his fragile nine year old self, and one year later they were organised and packed and ready to leave for England, where tuition was a little cheaper (at the time at least), and where they could start a new life without being reminded everyday of the loved ones they’d lost.

To start a new, exciting chapter of their lives.

Erik felt kind of embarrassed for his mother, if only she knew what he was running through his nicely earned and maintained apartment for now, as he swung open his bedroom door at the back and turned to the high top shelf to his left, a little wooden box with a flat carving of an eagle on the top.  It had been a gift from his father on his 8th birthday.

He now felt embarrassed for his father too.

He was pretty sure he had enough to cover the £200, quickly adding it up as it flicked the small pile of notes in his hand.  With £200 and more to spare, Erik placed what was left back in the box and quickly shoved it to the back of the shelf, racing back through the living room and down the stairs.

Charles was exactly where he’d left him, still pacing in the cold.  His head snapped to look at him as Erik’s footsteps pattered across the drive.

“Here, £200, as promised.” He whispered, casting a casual wary glance to the windows on the bottom maisonette, hoping his neighbour, Logan (a name Erik still wasn’t sure if it was his first or last name despite being neighbours with the man for 6 years), wasn’t overseeing this little transaction.

Charles grabbed the money and backed away, looking down at it and flicking through it just like Erik had been, his fingers finally seeming to cease their trembling as soon as his nervous expression relaxed, seeing there was indeed £200.

Charles looked up at him, staring at him with a thoughtful look, before shoving the wad of cash deep into his jean pocket.

“Thanks.” He said quietly, his eyes lingering on Erik’s for a moment longer, before he crossed his arms and turned around, walking away.

“Hey!” Erik suddenly yelled in a whisper, jogging a few steps up to Charles who turned around.


Erik suddenly felt like there was cotton wool in his mouth.  He parted his lips to speak but nothing came out.  Charles was looking up at him, his hair with a slight golden hue to its edges where the street light from behind him silhouetted his frame, his now much more relaxed, if still slightly wary blue eyes, gazing up at him waiting for him to speak.

“What if…” Erik finally managed to say, that ethical moral part of him disappearing in those alluring eyes, “…what if I wanted to see you again?”

He couldn’t believe he’d just said that, and he watched as Charles’ stare turned to a slight frown, “I pulled out a knife at you.” He pointed out.

Erik’s first thoughts were ‘I don’t care’, but that’s not what he voiced. “I know but…if I did…” he trailed off, Charles looking down for a moment.

“I told you,” he said, and Erik was sure those eyes looked up at him far too slowly, racking up his chest again just like he’d done at the park when they first met, “You’ll have to find me at the park if you want my services again.”

Erik’s mind was having a small secret battle between his morals and a deep want for this man.  He’d never been so attracted so quickly to someone, and of all the people it had to be it was a damn rent boy!  To think, how many people this man has slept with, how many hands have been upon him, how many lips have been granted access to those red ones, just how many times has this man pleased another for a bit of money?

Erik found himself not caring.

All he knew was that he wanted to hold him again. Despite the knife, despite the apparent drug problems, he didn’t care, because all he saw were those lonely blue eyes trapped in a life he highly doubted they wanted to be in.

Charles had turned to walk away again at Erik’s odd silence, obviously assuming the conversation was over.



Charles had only managed to reach the end of the driveway before Erik called out again, now standing on the pavement under the street light.

Erik walked up to him again. “I’m sorry for scaring you.” he said softly, “I didn’t mean to.”

Charles stared at him, his eyebrows slightly raised in perhaps surprise and….perhaps gratitude, though Erik couldn’t be sure.  Whatever the expression was it went quickly, and Charles shrugged non-committally, as though he didn’t care either way what had happened between them, “Whatever.”

“Are you sure I can’t give you a lift back home?”

Charles drew his lips together, biting his bottom one again as he looked from Erik to the car and back again.

He looked tempted.

“No thanks.” He eventually said, and with that he finally turned, walking away down the empty street. 

“Stay safe then.”

Charles paused in walking, but didn’t turn around, before continuing on his journey down the pavement.

Erik watched him silently, Charles disappearing and re-appearing in the light as he walked between lampposts, his lonely footsteps the only sound. Charles rubbed his hands up and down his arms in the cold again before finally turning a corner out of sight, leaving Erik alone.

Alone, and never more confused in his life.


It took a good hour to walk the ten minute drive back home, but then Charles wasn’t heading home. Walking for a further fifteen minutes past his bedsit his ears were met with a loud pumping electro music from a raving club, and he looked up as he crossed over the road at the garish pink and red neon sign hanging above the door that read “Hellfire”.

Shivering this time from the cold, Charles walked past the small queue of people outside the club, drinking and laughing and a few snogging each other tipsily, before turning down into a dark alleyway by the side of the club.

Walking to a dreary worn-down door, the word “Frost” written on the outside on a small piece of paper slotted into a plastic covering, he knocked on it twice.

“Vat?” came a deep Russian accented voice from inside.

“It’s Charles.”

A pause, “You alone?”

Charles rolled his eyes, “We go through this every time, of course I’m alone.”

Another pause before the sound of many chains and locks being un-done rattled against the door, and the door swung outwards, Charles stepping over the threshold.

It was the usual sight that greeted him every time he came to visit this particular place, and he hated it just as much every time.  The Hellfire Club was a raving moshpit for the normals, but out back in a long rectangular room run a different kind of business. A business that explained the dirty, lanky men lying across the floor or on filthy sofas, needles hanging from their arms, a strong stale smell of heroin in the air.

Charles ignored all eye contact, hands shoved deep into his jean pockets, his head down low as he walked through these brainless wastes of men to the counter at the very back.  One of the men groaned loudly on the floor, smiling a toothy smile at Charles as he walked by, before his eyes rolled to the back of his head and he laughed in some kind of blissful agony as his chosen poison raced through his veins.

Charles reached the counter and saw sitting behind it the woman he’d come to see. In this dark murky drug fuelled atmosphere, Miss Frost was always the surprise.  Icy blond, with an equally icy stare to match her equally ice white clothing, or at least what there was of her clothing.  She had always said that she didn’t care for her surroundings, heroin addicts didn’t care what the room they were getting high in looked like, but it made no sense that she should degrade her own appearance.  Besides, it gave her customers something to ogle at as they lay wasted on the floor, while she served them like a waitress, preparing needles and the drug to go inside them.

She looked up from sterilising an injection needle over a Bunsen burner flame and smiled at Charles.

“Hello my little quivering one.”

Without a word Charles took out the £200 Erik had given him, as well as another £200 from deep within his right jean pocket, placing it on the counter with a once again trembling hand.  Miss Frost looked at the money, looked at Charles, and slowly put the needle back down on the counter. Taking the money she too fingered through it, counting as she did.

“You do have them right?”Charles asked quietly, fidgeting where he stood, wary of the men littering the floor around him.

Miss Frost eyed him, “Of course.” She paused, before waving the wad of cash lightly, “Though this isn’t enough.”

Charles stared at her, “But that’s 400 quid there.”

Miss Frost just smiled her usual icy smile at him, “Yes, but they’re asking for more. Another 100.”

What?! £500 a month?!” Charles stared at her incredulously, “These things cost £80 on prescription I can’t afford £500!”

“Well then I suggest you find yourself a competent doctor honey and get them on prescription, because they’re asking for another 100.” She said, placing the cash back on the counter and pushing it back to Charles.  “Do you have any idea how hard it is to get legal drugs on the black market? It’s harder than getting the illegal ones.  My men are breaking into chemists and hospitals just for you, they want more money sugar, so unless you come up with another 100 your pills are staying right here.”

“Oh come on!” Charles yelled in disbelief, panic bubbling through his veins, “Please I…can’t I just pay you the other 100 next month? Please?”

“I’m not fooling for that again sugar. I run a business not a charity; you give me the money you get the pills, that’s how the world works.”

Charles leant across the counter, desperation on his face, “But I need these! You know I do! Please, Emma!” he begged, hoping the use of her first name might strike something compassionate inside her, “I can’t go on any longer without them.”

She smiled again, that light smile that was so out of place and usually sent a shiver of panic running down the recipients’ spine. Charles was already panicked enough though. She bent down over the counter, her face directly in front of Charles, before pointing behind him, “Do you have any idea how many times I hear that very same sentence from those men over there?”

“I can imagine,” Charles breathed impatiently, “but the difference is they don’t need heroin, they’re only addicted to it. I need these, look at me!”

Charles raised his trembling hands, his eyes begging for her to show some kind of sympathy, but her stare remained just as ice cold.

“Sorry, no money no pills. You’re just going to have to go and find someone else to fuck you sweetheart.”

In a moment of desperation Charles flung one hand over the counter and grabbed her arm as she turned to leave.

Emma!” his voice was cracking again, eyes pleading with her as her head spun to glare at him, looking revolted at his hand clutched around her wrist.

“Azazel!” she called loudly, and the tall muscled bodyguard seemed to appear out of nowhere from the darkness, grabbing Charles by the upper arm tightly, Charles slowly and reluctantly letting go of Emma’s wrist.

“I can never believe you used to be a nurse.” Charles scowled darkly at her.

“That’s why there’s the words ‘used to be’ in there sugar. Although you know, you do have enough for a shot of heroin, sure I can’t tempt you?” she asked sweetly.

Charles’ scowl deepened, “I have enough problems without being a heroin addict.”

Emma shrugged, “Suit yourself. Azazel? Would you mind escorting Charles back outside please? He doesn’t have the money so he’s not worth my time right now, I have other customers who need my attention.”

Charles let himself be pulled away, although the glare on his face didn’t leave as he watched Emma turn and pick up her needle again.  Dragging him back through the room to the door, Azazel opened it and flung Charles out back into the alleyway, Charles staggering on the ground as he caught his balance.

He turned to look up at Azazel’s scarred face, and tried a weak smile, “You don’t feel like fucking me do you?”

Azazel’s stone expression didn’t change, “Do I look like somevone who has vone hundred pound?”

Charles’ gaze drifted, “…no….I guess not.”

The door slammed shut.


Erik walked out of his bathroom wearing nothing but a pair of long black cotton pyjama bottoms. He padded across his bedroom carpet and sat down at the edge of the bed, glancing at his digital clock on the bedside table that now read 2.32am.  Pulling back the thick night-blue duvet he climbed inside, reaching for the switch on the wall by the headboard that turned off the main bedroom lights, throwing the room into darkness.

Erik lay there staring up at the dark ceiling, his mind racing a mile a minute.  He’d gone out for that walk to calm his mind, now after everything that had happened in that time he was more awake than ever.

Tick tock tick tock, the clock on the far wall counted away the seconds while nothing but blue eyes, pale skin and shaking hands fluttered over Erik’s memories. It hardly seemed real that only 2 hours ago the most interesting thing that had ever happened to him involved a barrel of beer on his graduation day, waking up upside down on the sofa with two of his friends, with a cassette tape of the Smurfs playing on the old VCR television he’d had at the time.

He hadn’t even known where the cassette had come from.

Now all of a sudden he’d paid for sex, had his life threatened, been almost mugged and yet ended up being a charity anyway and paying an extra £100 to a now obvious drug addict.

A very cute, incredibly sexy, drug addict…who not very long ago had been straddling him as he lay in this position……

Erik quickly turned onto his side, realising as he did he hadn’t shut the curtains across his windows as that bright half moon shone through onto the bed. He shut his eyes tightly against it, trying to block out those blue orbs and those red lips…and that sweet breathy voice as he pounded him right into that wall…

Erik opened his eyes, glaring at nothing in particular, rolling back over onto his back as that cheeky smile flashed across his mind.

He sighed.

He was never going to get to sleep.


A few miles away, Charles stood alone on a dark street corner, hoping someone would come his way.

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Erik’s long defined fingers trailed slowly across milky skin, down across chest and stomach and jutting hip bone, sending small shivers through the smaller body lying beside him. Erik leant down, covering those red lips with his own, taking long, lazy strokes with his tongue, those delicious mewling sounds being drowned in the kiss.  Erik’s trailing arm wrapped itself around that thin waist, pulling it closer, hardness to hardness as that hand now trailed between them, wrapping those fingers around them both as that pale body bucked gently at the touch, pushing itself closer, pushing the kiss deeper…

Erik opened his sleepy aroused eyes at the sound of his alarm clock blaring in his ears, and he looked at it with such a glare that had the clock have had legs it would have run for its life.

This was the 3rd morning in a row now that he’d awoken with a desperately aching hard-on, lost in dreams of the body he’d only had once but now seemed impossible to get out of his head.  He refused to give in though, and icy cold showers had been the first thing on the menu each morning.  Not only did he not have time to be wanking off in the morning (he liked his sleep and would always set the alarm for the latest possible time) he somehow felt that resisting the temptation would make him feel less like a love-struck teenager, which was exactly how this situation was making him feel.

He’d already had his colleagues at work giving him odd looks as he sat behind his desk with a far off look on his face, giggling behind their computer screens at the man no one ever saw smile who was now looking like a smitten puppy.

He hated that he was acting like this, hated the fact it was already affecting his work, almost making a near fatal error on a large loan he’d authorised yesterday afternoon, mistyping and adding an extra zero to the end almost sending someone off with one million pounds.  Had one of his colleagues not just happened to have walked past behind his desk at that moment with a cup of coffee from the drinks machine, casually glancing at the screen just as Erik was about to hit the Okay button, he was sure he’d be packing up his things, fired.  He almost jumped out of his skin when the man had practically screamed in his ear, his hand flying to the mouse to bat Erik’s hand away.

Erik hadn’t even felt like this when he was a teenager, and knowing that his heart literally fluttered at the thought of those blue eyes made him want to bang his head against his desk in an attempt to knock those thoughts out, and return to a normal sane adult human being. He’d even stood at a cash point yesterday, staring at the screen as it asked how much he wanted to withdraw, finger hovering above the £20 button when his eyes were staring at the £100.

£100….for one more night…

Clearing his head from such thoughts he ended up getting out the £100 anyway, but only because he needed to re-fill his emergency funds box at home.

Or at least that’s what he told himself.

But now though, running late having spent far too long in the shower, cigarette dangling from his lips as he reversed out of his driveway into the busy early morning traffic, Erik found himself glancing at the empty passenger seat beside him, wondering if Charles was okay, and wondering just what brand of cigarettes Charles used, because the smoke filling the air at the moment just wasn’t the same.


It was raining by the time Erik got home, running from his car to his front door with his briefcase held high above his head. Leaving his shoes by the door and walking up the stairs, Erik shrugged out of his suit jacket letting it rest on the back of the sofa, before falling into the soft comfortable seat, head resting back and eyes closed, letting out a long exhausted sigh.

It had been another day full of giggling co-workers and near mistakes, though none as serious as the almost fatal one of yesterday.  He needed to get his head on straight, this was ridiculous, he was in his mid-30’s for goodness sake, this sort of behaviour was not something people of that age should be experiencing, and especially not someone like Erik.

He’d had his fair share of flings during his time, the tall brooding type seemed to attract people, even when he didn’t want them (especially when he didn’t want them), and yes they might have been hot, or kind, or amusing, but not one of them ever made him feel quite like this.  He figured none of them ever would.  The man he’d had his super long relationship of 3 weeks with 6 years ago had dumped Erik, saying Erik just wasn’t into it, just didn’t seem to be interested, and to be honest, he wasn’t. The guy was nice, the sex was nice, but there was something about him that just didn’t make Erik feel like he was worth the effort.  His ideal person would be one to have intelligent conversations with, who actually knew the rules to chess (an old fashioned game but Erik had always loved playing it), and could perhaps play the piano, his mother teaching him how to play on the very same one here in the apartment. Someone classy, someone gentle, someone……..with blue eyes.

“Oh for…” Erik mumbled under his breath, before reaching out to the remote control sitting on the coffee table, flicking the TV onto BBC1, hoping to catch the last five minutes of the 6 o’clock News.  All he caught though was the weather, warning people of a severe weather storm drifting over from Norway that should be hitting London within the next few hours.  Erik glanced out one of the windows to the now torrential rain pounding against the glass and raised an amused eyebrow. Sometimes these weathermen should really just look outside a window.

With far more effort than it needed Erik got up off the sofa and walked to the kitchen, opening the fridge door and leaning against it half-heartedly looking inside.  He wasn’t really that hungry, so instead he grabbed a small plastic bag of red grapes that were on the second shelf of the fridge and shut the door, flopping back down onto the sofa and throwing a few of them into his mouth.  Tonight was going to be a nice boring lazy evening, where with any luck if he watched enough television he might be brain-dead enough to stop thinking about Charles for a few minutes.


A searing heat was flowing through him like molten lava.  They were both still fully clothed, but the way Charles was straddling him again, those warm hands riding up underneath his shirt, those cherry lips kissing him again and again and again, it made Erik’s blood boil with need.  Erik brushed his fingers over Charles’ hips to his behind, cupping his arse and pulling it hard towards him, Charles gasping into the kisses letting Erik slip his tongue inside, lapping at those sweet breathy noises as Charles wrapped his arms around Erik’s neck, leaning into him, grinding onto him, Erik lost, his head spinning with adrenaline.

“Help me.”

Erik opened his eyes as Charles broke the kiss, and he looked up, head snapping back a little in shock to see Charles was soaking wet, clothes clinging to him, droplets dripping from his hair and eyelashes.

“Please,” his voice was breaking, leaning forward to whisper against his lips, “help me.”

Erik’s eyes snapped open as a humongous crash of thunder rippled through the apartment, a bright flash of lightning flashing through the windows at exactly the same time. Blinking and looking around in alarm, he found himself still sitting on the sofa, legs resting up on the coffee table, a repeated episode of Top Gear playing quietly on the television.

His heart beat gradually slowing from the sudden loud awakening, Erik rubbed his temples and then his eyes before taking the remote and switching the television off.

He sat at the edge of the sofa, arms resting on his knees, staring at nothing in particular as he thought about the dream he’d just had. Being woken up so abruptly the dream was still on the edge of his subconscious, and all he could hear was Charles’ words, “Help me.”  That had been an odd way to end an otherwise very nice dream.

Erik looked behind him to the large window near the round dining table when another very loud clash of thunder echoed through the air, and he stood up, walking towards it and staring outside into the darkness. (AN: Open this link in a new tab and listen to it while reading the rest of this chapter). The rain was falling so heavily he could barely make out the light coming from the street lamps below, he certainly couldn’t see the row of bungalows across the road. He glanced at his watch, 12.15am, and he yawned.  He couldn’t have been asleep for long, he remembered catching the 10 o’clock News.

Another clap of thunder and bright flash of lightning, and in that split moment it lit up the park in the far distance.

“Help me.”

Erik’s eyebrows lowered a little in concern.  Charles was soaking wet in his dream…perhaps it was just his subconscious knowing it was raining outside while he slept but….surely Charles wasn’t stupid enough to be out in that park on a night like this, was he?

He thought about how desperate Charles had been to get that money. That was three nights ago now, how many other men had he slept with between then? Did he have enough money? Even if he was a drug addict, Erik still couldn’t find it within himself to look down upon him for that, despite his initial reaction.  He couldn’t imagine living a life like Charles had, and if some form of drug helped him live through it then he supposed he had no right to think anything less of him.  Although of course it would be better if he didn’t use drugs, but as Charles had said, that was the underworld, a world Erik had never been a part of, and hopefully never would be.

More thunder and lightning, this storm really was a bad one, the wind whistling through the old roof tiles above him, the trees planted down below bending in the wind.

“Help me.”

This image was beginning to disturb him. Charles wouldn’t be out there, he couldn’t, surely!  Even if he was desperate for more money he must have more sense than to…

Erik wasn’t sure at exactly what point he turned quickly from the window, heading down the stairs and putting his shoes back on, grabbing his long trench coat from the cupboard and a large heavy-duty black umbrella. Although it was only a ten minute walk away Erik got straight into the car, heading out into the empty streets with the wind screen wipers going at full power, though the rain was so heavy they made little difference, the road still hard to see.

Pulling in near the entrance to the park Erik opened his umbrella outside the car door while he still sat inside, the rain creating a heavy patting noise on the fabric as he shut the door behind him, heading down the pitch black path through the trees and open grass.

He had no idea what he was doing, he could barely see anything, barely hear anything except for the rain, and it was freezing cold out here.  His slacks were already soaked from the knees downwards, the wind blowing the rain in all directions as he tried to keep his umbrella from blowing inside-out.  He walked and walked, head turning in every direction, and in the end calling out Charles’ name, but he doubted anyone could have heard over the rain.

The water droplets felt like ice when the wind blew them onto his face, typical stupid British weather.  This was supposed to be nearing summer, not winter. Thankfully though, the further he walked the more relaxed he became, convincing himself that Charles wasn’t out here, that he was tucked up safe and dry in his bedsit.

With another man probably.

The roar of jealousy that wanted to erupt from his chest was squished downwards; other more important matters were at hand.

He turned off the path down towards his favourite bench, the wind making the trunks of the trees creak and complain.  A wash of relief came over him the nearer he got, squinting through the darkness seeing no one there, until another flash of lightning illuminated his surroundings, and he stopped dead in his tracks.

Charles was there.

Knees pulled to his chest, Charles sat huddled at the corner of the bench, head tucked to his knees, arms wrapped around them, the freezing rain drops pouring heavily all over him. That same long cream top stuck to his skin, not a dry patch to be seen, his hair flat and limp where hundreds of tiny droplets seemed to drip from every hair.

Too stunned at the sight to think properly, Erik slowly walked around in front of the bench, the rain too loud to even alert Charles to his presence, and only when the rain suddenly stopped did Charles look up to see Erik holding out his umbrella over him.

“What on earth are you doing out here?” Erik asked, not believing what he was seeing, the heavy rain now falling down on his own head as he sheltered Charles with his umbrella.

Another flash of lightning and Erik could see Charles was trembling violently again, but this wasn’t the same as before. His entire body was shivering where he sat, his lips quivering in the cold, teeth chattering, blinking up at Erik through the raindrops on his eyelashes.  Those shivering lips tried to smile, a look of utter relief spreading across his wet features.

“Y-you c-came back.” The smile turned into a brief grin before the cold took over again, “Y-you said you might. You came b-back.”

“Charles…” Erik breathed, looking over him with an expression of absolute fright, “I’ve got to get you-“

“T-that means you want me again, r-right?”

Charles un-tucked his knees from his chest and stood up, but as he did his legs buckled underneath him. Erik immediately dropped the umbrella to catch him, the wind blowing it far away and out of sight, hauling Charles up against his chest as Charles scrambled at his trench coat, trying to hold on to it.

“I d-don’t mind if you…d-don’t want to fuck me,” Charles breathed heavily at his neck, trying to stand but his legs not taking his weight, Erik’s arms strong around him, “b-but maybe just a blow job? N-not even for thirty quid…I’ll put it down to twenty, heck even ten…I just need…t-ten more pounds, that’s all, t-then I can…afford them…p-please…knew you’d…c-come back…if I waited….”

He was rambling, his eyes closed as he leant entirely upon Erik, hands clutching weakly at his coat, the warmth from Erik’s body too irresistible as his shivering limbs soaked it all in, even though Erik was pretty much soaked already from the rain.

Charles’ forehead was pressed against Erik’s neck, and startled Erik raised one hand to his forehead, pressing it against the wet skin, “Charles…you’re burning up.” His skin was hot to the touch, and as if to confirm his fears Charles suddenly erupted into a coughing fit, facing downwards away from Erik, “Come on, come on stand up for a second.” Erik tried to get him to stand apart, but without Erik to hold him Charles sank back down into the bench as Erik’s grip loosened.

“Please? T-there’s g-got to be s-something I can…do for you…” Charles, pleaded looking up at him and blinking rapidly through the heavy rain, before his hands flew to his mouth as another coughing fit rattled his frail body.

“No offense Charles, but looking like this I doubt you’re going to get anyone tonight.”

Erik slid off his coat and hung it around Charles’ shoulders, helping him put his arms through each hole.  It was far too big for him, and even though the coat was now just as wet as everything else it still held Erik’s warmth inside, and he wrapped Charles up in it tightly.

“Come on, I’m taking you back to my home.”

Immediately Charles’ eyes flew wide, “NO!”

He struggled out of Erik’s grasp as Erik tried to help him up off the bench, falling sideways and stumbling before Erik’s arm wrapped itself around his waist, pulling him back before he fell to the ground. “Don’t do this Charles!” Erik yelled at him over the rain, Charles’ struggling weakly in his arms despite leaning on him as his legs still couldn’t hold him up properly, “You’re ill, god I’m not surprised you’re ill sitting out here like this what’s wrong with you?! Stop it!”

“Let g-go of me!” Charles was pushing against his chest, against the soaking wet white shirt which had now turned pretty much translucent, “I’m n-not going, you-“

“I’m not going to hurt you! You know that we’ve had this conversation!” Erik yelled back at him, trying to grab his wrists, “But like hell I’m leaving you out here like this let me take you home!”

They were both wet and slippery and the damn rain just wouldn’t stop, so Erik wrapped his arms around Charles, pinning his arms by his side as he held him there, keeping him upright, keeping him close.

“Another £100. How’s that?”

Charles stilled in his arms. Mentioning money was like the magic word for him it seemed.

“I don’t want sex, I just want you to stay the night.” Erik said softly, “You’re ill, you need somewhere warm to stay, to sleep. Let me look after you Charles. I’ll pay you for just staying the night, I promise.”

Another loud clap of thunder and bright lightning filled the area, the edges of Erik’s coat now trailing on the water-soaked ground where the coat was far too long for Charles’ shorter frame. Charles stood their shivering against him, his head tucked underneath Erik’s chin, Erik holding him sturdily around his chest.


The voice was so small Erik barely heard it over the rain.

“W-why would you care?”

Why would he care? Erik closed his eyes as he held him, squeezing him just that little bit tighter, trying to absorb the very shivers out of him.  He cared, probably because he hadn’t stopped thinking about him for days.  Probably because every waking and sleeping moment was filled with those blue eyes. Probably because in one night he’d never felt anything so strongly for one person ever before in his life. Probably because even though it made no sense, even though he knew nothing about him, not where came from, not his favourite food, not his family, not even his surname….

Erik had fallen completely in love with him.

“Because you’ve done something to me,” Erik whispered, his lips touching the top of Charles’ ear, “that I can’t let go of.”  The wind howled through the trees, the rain drops falling from Erik’s hair onto Charles’ head, “Let me take care of you, just for tonight. Please?”

There was a fleeting silence between them, nothing but the rain battering their bodies, until Charles coughed lightly against his chest, “Okay.”  Erik smiled in such relief, relaxing his arms from their tight grip so Charles could move his arms. “But I don’t…t-think I can walk.” Charles elaborated, swaying where he stood before Erik quickly held him by the upper arms to steady him.

Charles’ voice was so frail, so tiny against this harsh weather, that without even thinking or asking Erik simply bent a little lower, hooking one arm under Charles’ thighs and the other around his shoulders, before hoisting him into the air and carrying him.

“That’s not a problem.” He smiled down at him, Charles looking so surprised at the sudden movement, before despite the shivering a small shy smile appeared on his lips, burying his head against Erik’s shoulder.

“W-well this is embarrassing.”

Erik smirked, a warmth rising from his chest as he walked through the cold rain, his long coat wrapped around Charles like a cocoon. 

He could think of many analogies for this situation, but embarrassing certainly wasn’t one of them.

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

The stairs to the maisonette weren’t wide enough to carry Charles up them, so after peeling off the sopping wet trench coat from around him, and hanging it to drip dry on the hook inside the door of the coat cupboard, Erik carefully wrapped an arm around that thin waist and half dragged Charles up the stairs, Charles clinging to his wet shirt to try and keep balanced.

Charles had been ridiculously light to carry back to the car, even soaked to the bone in rain wearing an equally soaked trench coat he still felt far too light to be healthy.  Now though, as he helped him up the last few steps and entered the brightly lit living room, Charles squeezing his eyes shut for a moment against the bright light, Erik could see just how unwell Charles really looked.  He was deathly pale, heavy dark circles under his eyes, his eyes red and puffy, almost looking like he’d been…crying, something Erik couldn’t see through the dark and rain outside.  He stood dripping on the carpet, just about able to stand on his own as he wrapped his arms tightly around himself, still shivering, eyes roaming the room around him.

“Welcome, I guess.” Erik said, watching Charles as his bright if ill looking eyes fell across the large television, then to the piano, and then back up at Erik.

“So…w-what do you want me to do?” Charles asked, rubbing his hands up and down his arms again, his cream top sticking to every part of him, his bangs plastered to his forehead and still dripping with water.

Erik wanted to bundle him in his arms.

“I want you to take a hot bath.” Erik replied honestly, “Get warm, eat something, and then get into my bed and sleep. I’ll sleep on the sofa.” He gestured with his head to the old sofa in the middle of the room.

Charles looked like he wanted to say something, argue maybe, his brows furrowing with a clear expression of ‘why?’ on his face not understanding Erik’s apparent kindness, but instead he just shivered violently for a second, then nodded.

“Come on.” Erik held out his hand, “I’ll show you to the bathroom.”

Charles stared at the offered hand.  Perhaps it was to make up for the embarrassing fact that he’d been carried here, but Charles didn’t take it. Instead he steadied himself, forcing his legs to obey him and not collapse, and carefully walked towards him. He looked at Erik pointedly, and Erik’s hand lowered. Charles was on his guard it seemed. Erik threw him a small and what he hoped was a comforting smile, before walking to the back of the apartment, Charles following behind him.

The door to the bathroom was only accessible through the bedroom. It was a spacious bathroom, just like everything else in the apartment, decorated with large beige tiles for flooring that also went halfway up the walls, before they changed to a creamy white colouring. As Erik walked leading Charles through the bedroom into the bathroom, he was amazed that he’d managed to get him here at all.  As ill as Charles seemed his eyes were still skittish, looking at everything around him, as if planning a possible escape route should he need it.  Trying to ignore how nervous Charles seemed, so as to not freak him out further, Erik leant over his bath and run the taps, checking the temperature of the hot tap with his hand, before digging around in a cupboard to one side bringing out a deep forest green towel and a small bottle of relaxing lavender bath liquid which he’d bought years ago but never used. He figured if anyone needed relaxing right now it was definitely going to be Charles. 

He could feel Charles’ eyes on him the entire time as he poured the light purple liquid into the bath, before placing the towel on top of the washing basket next to the sink.  He finally turned to look at him, and suddenly felt rather like a mother hen. Charles certainly had an odd smirk to his lips.

Erik coughed awkwardly, before a small smile drew up his lips, “You look like a drowned rat.”

“I feel like one.” Charles smiled lightly, “Though I could say the same for you.” Indeed Erik was just as soaked as Charles, his normally swept back hair now dangling in wet clumps over his eyes. “And look I…I hate to bring this up but,” Charles curled his fingers around his cold arms, squeezing them tighter, “If you really are going to pay me just to sleep, then I want the money now. I don’t want another fiasco like before.” He smiled weakly, the memory of the dagger fresh in their minds.

Despite the words Erik couldn’t help the small matching smile that grew on his lips, simply for the fact it seemed Charles had now stopped stuttering in cold, and that it seemed he really was going to accept Erik’s offer to stay. The money was trivial that didn’t matter, and if it helped Charles then it was all worth it anyway.

“Of course, I’ll go get it. But first let me just…”

Erik reached out to feel Charles’ forehead, he could see his cheeks were rosy already with fever, but Charles flinched violently away from him. Both their smiles instantly disappeared, and Erik paused with his arm raised, Charles’ eyes wide and panicked, before he slowly resumed his movement, placing the back of his hand gently against Charles’ burning forehead.

“Have a bath and get yourself warm.” Erik said quietly, lowering his arm again, pretending the flinch away hadn’t happened, “I doubt I have anything that’s going to fit you but I’ll try and find something you can wear.  I’ll leave it outside the door for you, along with the money. You can wrap yourself up in my dressing gown too,” he nodded towards the back of the bathroom door where a very fluffy soft looking white dressing gown hung on a hook, “at least that will keep you warm.”

He tried another reassuring smile, but Charles just looked away at the floor, perhaps ashamed at his flinching reaction, arms clinging tighter around himself again. “I’ll cook you some soup too.” Erik continued, “I know it’s nothing fancy, but nothing cures a fever like chicken soup.”

His attempt at humour wasn’t really working; Charles remained staring at the tiled floor.

“I’ll leave you to it then.” Erik finally said after that uncomfortable silence, taking one step away, one last look at the frail man before him, before stepping out the door and closing it behind him.  Immediately he heard Charles scramble for the lock and shut it tightly across the door on the other side.

Erik leant back against the door and sighed quietly.  Getting Charles to relax was going to be a challenge it seemed.  Still, at least he was here and out of that storm, the storm that still pounded against the windows.  Running a hand through his wet hair in an attempt to make it stay back again, Erik wandered over to his wardrobe to get changed out of his wet clothes, putting on his nice freshly clean black cotton pyjama bottoms and just a plain white t-shirt.  He rummaged around trying to find anything at all that Charles could wear, but everything would be quite a few sizes too big for him.  In the end he settled with an old pair of grey drawstring cotton pyjama bottoms (at least he could pull it around his waist), and a matching cotton button-up shirt that would definitely be too big for him but it was either that or nothing.

Taking £100 out of the wooden box on the top shelf Erik laid the small pile in front of the bathroom door, listening as the taps were turned off and the flow of water stilled.

“Your clothes and money are here.” He said softly against the door, “I’ll leave you alone now.”

There was a short silent pause the other side, before Charles’ small voice sounded through the door, “Thank you.”


Erik didn’t know what to do with himself.  It was such an odd feeling to have a mixture of happiness and nervousness at this situation.  He turned the television on, just to have something, some noise, happening in the background.  He grabbed a Heinz Chicken Soup tin from a cupboard, pouring it into a saucepan and leaving it on the stove, knowing there wasn’t any point in turning the heat on yet.  He stood there, hands splayed out on the counter facing out towards the lounge, fingernails tapping on the smooth surface, the start of a tiny grin beginning to form on his face.  He literally shook his head, the grin growing wider before he put it under control and it disappeared.  This was a serious situation.  Charles was ill, he needed rest and food and comfort, and the fact he was currently naked in a bath barely a few short steps away shouldn’t even be in the thought process.

He flittered about the kitchen and lounge for a while, doing stupid things like tidying the coffee table, wiping the dust off the TV screen, and moving that potted plant on the floor in the corner over a few inches, until he realised he was acting ridiculous and he stood back next to the stove, staring persistently at the soup as he stirred it, a weak flame underneath it, as he told himself repeatedly he was acting like an idiot and it had to stop.

Mumbling under his breath something about needing a new non-stick saucepan, he turned to grab the bowl he’d put to one side to see Charles standing in the doorway to the bedroom, Erik’s long white dressing gown wrapped around him, falling to his ankles. He stood there just watching Erik, unsure on what to do, his hair towel dried and standing up in odd angles.

Erik’s chest warmed considerably.

“Perfect timing.” He smiled, turning back to the soup and pouring it into the bowl, walking over to the round table where he’d already put a couple of slices of buttered bread on a plate.  Charles however remained in the doorway, that lost look on his face again. Erik tried another smile, “It’s alright, it’s not poisoned.” He joked, causing a small brief flicker of a smile on Charles’ lips. 

It seemed it was enough, and slowly Charles’ bare feet padded across the carpet and onto the dark wooden panelled flooring where the table stood. Taking one look at Erik, who smiled reassuringly again, Charles sat down in front of the soup and very quickly took the bread and started eating.

“Tea? Coffee?” Erik asked casually.

“Just water please.”

“Sure? I don’t mind making i-“

“Just water.” Charles interrupted, eyes flicking up to him as he took a bite of soup-soaked bread, chewed for a moment and then swallowed it, “Thank you.” He added quietly.

Erik nodded lightly, filling up a glass of water instead and setting it down on the table, leaning back against one of the counters and watching Charles eat hungrily. It was as though chicken soup was the most delicious thing he’d ever tasted, and Erik had the urge to cook him a huge roast dinner, just to see him eat heartily, to get some meat on those thin bones.  Despite the underlying sadness he just couldn’t rid himself of that glow of warmth inside him every time he looked at Charles, sitting there eating with his cutlery, wearing his clothes, sitting on his chair in his home.

It was such a lovely warming image.

Charles peered up at him, “Are you just going to stand there watching me?”

Erik smiled again. “Sorry. I was just thinking it was lucky I found you out there that’s all.”

Charles gazed at him, before taking another spoonful of soup, his eyes remaining locked on Erik’s. “What did you mean out there? When you said I’d done something to you?”

Erik’s heart lifted for that brief moment and he almost felt like laughing.  He opened his mouth to reply that perhaps that conversation was for another day when Charles wasn’t ill, when Charles’ right hand that was holding spoon suddenly began to shake.  Charles looked down at it and quickly took the spoon in his left hand, hiding his right under the table, evidently hoping Erik hadn’t seen that.

Erik’s smile vanished, concern replacing his light expression and he moved to sit down in the chair opposite, Charles stubbornly staring at his chicken soup as he ate it slowly, avoiding eye contact.

“Did you…” Erik chose his words carefully, he didn’t want another reaction like last time, “…did you manage to get what you needed? With the money I gave you before?”

He said it slowly, quietly, and Charles’ eyes flickered up to him, a dangerous look on them. “I’m not a drug addict.” He said sternly, eyes falling back to his food, “At least not with the ones you’re thinking of.”

Erik didn’t quite get what that meant, but chose to ignore it for now, “Why didn’t you say that before?”

“Because it was none of your business. You just jumped to a conclusion that all people like me have addiction problems.”

He was right of course, and guilt quickly crept through Erik’s chest. Although if he wasn’t a drug addict then what was causing the shaking?

“I’m sorry.” Erik said quietly, Charles finishing off his meal.

Charles just sighed though, rubbing his temple with his hand, “No it’s all right. Most people like me are drug addicts after all; I just chose not to be.  I smoke cigarettes, that’s about as druggy I get.” He tried to smile, but as he did he doubled over as another round of coughing started, covering his mouth and reaching for the glass of water.

Erik had so many questions as he watched Charles gulp down the cold water. There was so much he wanted to know about him. How did he become like this?  So desperate for money that he was willing to wait out in a violent storm just for the off chance someone might walk by? Charles didn’t belong in the world he was in, it didn’t feel right.

“Come on,” Erik said, rising from his seat, all the questions he wanted to ask stored in the back of his mind for later when Charles was well enough again, “You should really get to bed.” He helped Charles out of the chair, noticing as he stood up that there was a wad of cash in one of the pockets on the dressing gown, very wet looking cash, evidently been transferred from the soaking wet jeans pocket. “I think you should take something for your fever too.” Erik continued, holding on to Charles’ arm as they walked back to the bedroom, the arm that wasn’t pressed tightly across his chest to stop it from shaking, “I have some Night Nurse tablets somewhere. They’ll make you very groggy in the morning but you’ll get a good nights sleep out of them.”

“I’m not taking anything.” Charles said, his voice a little raspy after his coughing fit, standing in the doorway to the bedroom again, glancing uncertainly at the large double bed as Erik went on ahead into the bathroom towards the medicine cabinet.

“They’ll do you good.” came Erik’s voice.

“I hope you can understand I don’t take medicine from strangers.” Charles called out, “They might not be what you’re telling me they are.”

Erik slowly walked back into view, arms crossed leaning against the door frame of the bathroom as he stared at Charles, “You really don’t trust people do you?”

Charles lowered his gaze from Erik’s stare, “I have to look out for myself, that’s all.” He said awkwardly, covering his right arm with his left to try and hide the shaking that was still happening, glancing back at the bed again.

“Alright, well at least get into the bed and get some sleep.” Erik said, but Charles seemed more than reluctant to move from inside the doorway. He kept looking at the bed, an expression of anxiety across his brows, before he worried his bottom lip and took one small step back.

“No…no I’m sorry I can’t do this.”

“What? Why not?” Erik asked quickly, walking up to him as Charles took another step back.

“This isn’t right. I’m not a charity case and you’re paying me for doing nothing.” he looked up at Erik, an earnest look in his eyes, “Look, here just…” Charles took out the wad of cash in the dressing gown pocket and took out the two dry £50 notes that Erik had left him, “…just take them back and let me go. This was a bad idea.”

Erik stared at the money but made no move to take it back, “This isn’t charity.” He said, fixing his eyes back on Charles’ blue ones, “You asked me what I wanted you to do, I told you.”

“But you get nothing from this! Why would you do this why are you doing this?!” Charles waved the money at him, holding it out for him to take, but Erik just stared stone faced back at him. Charles’ eyebrows rose further in concern and confusion at Erik’s lack of movement, “Just take them! I only need 10 quid anyway. Just let me do something for a tenner and then I can go! I need to get my pills!”

Immediately Charles shut his eyes in stupidity. Erik’s own eyes narrowed, “Pills?” This obviously hadn’t been something Charles had meant to yell out.

Charles opened his eyes again, staring at Erik with something close to panic and denial, before very quickly put the money back into the pocket and pushed past Erik, throwing open the duvet almost angrily and climbing inside it, “Fine. I’ll stay the night, just don’t ask me any more questions!”

“What pills Charles?” Erik pushed, walking and placing his hands on the twisted metal bar at the foot of the bed, staring at Charles ahead of him.

Charles leant back against the pillows, knees bent, pulling the duvet up right to his chin and glaring at Erik over the top of his knees, a pout to his red lips.

“I don’t...” he began, but immediately stopped as Erik narrowed his eyes at him, “They’re not…” still Erik glared, and Charles found himself wilting under that stare, “They’re…” he paused again, trying to match Erik’s glare with one of his own, before after failing miserably he sighed, annoyed at himself and at that persuasive stare of Erik’s, cuddling his knees against his chest over the duvet, “They’re called Propranolol, they’re pills to help me stop shaking.” He said quietly, looking down at his hands clasped around his knees, the right one still trembling just a little bit.

Finally, something about him.  Erik hadn’t heard of Propranolol, so he walked over by his side, sitting down at the edge of the bed, “What is it you suffer from Charles?” he asked, “Please tell me.”

Erik had to know. If it wasn’t heroin or anything else like that then Charles must be suffering from something medical. He had to know, he needed to know what make him shake like that, what made him so terrified.

Charles however truly looked like he didn’t want to say anything, but perhaps it was the gentle tone in Erik’s voice that made him look up at him, eyes locked, before he sighed again in defeat and looked anywhere but at Erik as he spoke.

“It’s something called Essential Tremor, at least that’s what I was told.  The person who diagnosed me isn’t exactly…reliable. They’re pills I can take which stop the shaking, but I have to get them through the black market and to do so costs a lot of money. £500 a month to be exact. It was 400 but…they put it up.  The problem is if I stop taking the pills, even for a short time, then the chances of it turning into something more serious increases.”

“Serious…like what?” Erik asked, fearing and suspecting the response.

Charles shrugged, clutching at the duvet, “Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, things like that.” he said quietly.

Erik’s heart dropped like a stone. He had to admit, the moment Charles had said earlier that he wasn’t a drug addict, a small suppressed suspicion arose of such conditions at the back of Erik’s mind.  He didn’t want to think of it, convincing himself it must be something else, but now Charles had just confirmed his fears.

“How long have you not taken these pills now?” he asked darkly.

Charles pursed his lips together, “About 3 weeks I think. I just need 10 more pounds then I have enough to go and get them.”

Without a word Erik immediately got up off the bed, Charles blinking at him curiously as he walked around the bed, throwing open his wardrobe doors and began to change into whatever he grabbed hold of first. "Well that's easily solved then isn't it," Erik said, pulling off his white t-shirt, "just tell me where to get them and I'll go and collect them for you."

What?” Charles gasped, sending himself into another coughing fit, Erik pulling on a pair of dark blue jeans and a black turtleneck.

“Tell me the address, give me the money you have and I’ll go and get them.”

Charles’ eyes went even wider through his coughing, spluttering before he managed to stop, “No!! I’m not giving you my money!”

Erik turned to glare at him.  He didn’t know why he was glaring, why he should feel angry at him, why he wanted to throttle Charles for not telling him about his condition the moment they first met even though it had absolutely nothing to do with him because for goodness sake couldn’t he see just how much he wanted to help him?!!

“What do you think I’m going to do run off with it? I live here.” Erik raised his voice at him.

“But…” Charles began, mouth opening and closing in silence as he struggled to find the words, “But what about the £10?”

“I’ve already given you another hundred.”

“But I didn’t do anything for that!”

“Oh for fuck’s sake.”

Erik was pissed off, at everything, at life for being a bitch to Charles, at Charles for being a bitch to deal with, but he was at least happy that when he pressed his lips to Charles’ it did successfully shut him up.

He’d bent down over him, one hand clasped to the top of the headboard, the other at Charles’ chin.  Both their eyes were open, those bright blue eyes wide in total surprise, Erik’s still glaring at them. It was a firm kiss, just dry lips to dry lips, and when Erik pulled away Charles felt like sinking down into the bed, suddenly feeling very small compared to the man towering above him.

“There. £100 for a kiss. Happy now?”

Charles blinked up at him, “Are you serious?” he whispered, “You’d pay that much for a kiss?”

Erik’s glare softened, and he couldn’t help the small tug of a smile to his lips at the astonished look on his face, “I would for a kiss from you.”

It was a corny line, he knew it, but it was worth it for the small blush that rose to Charles’ cheeks, a blush that seemed to surprise Charles as he quickly turned away to try and hide it.

“Fine.” Charles said quietly, clearing his throat.

He proceeded, reluctantly, to tell Erik where the Hellfire club was, to go to the door around the side, ask for Emma Frost, and to tell the guard Azazel that he sent him or they probably wouldn’t let him in.

“Don’t judge me by what you see in there.” Charles added at the end, handing Erik the cash in his pocket, looking forlornly down at where his feet were under the duvet.

“I won’t make that mistake again.” Erik said, before unable to stop himself he placed his hand on top of Charles’ head, softly ruffling the damp locks. Charles peered up at him silently as he did, his face looking far too innocently puzzled at the touch. Erik quickly removed his hand at his thumping heart beat and turned away.

“What if I leave while you’re gone?” Charles suddenly asked quietly as Erik reached the bedroom door, Erik turning back to look at him, “What if I steal things and leave?”

Erik smirked at him, “Aside from the fact you can barely walk and freak out at the thought of being given £100 for doing nothing, you’re not that sort of person.”

“How do you know what sort of person I am?” Charles argued.

Erik just smiled, “I don’t. But I guess after this I will.” Charles gazed at him seriously before looking away, clearly unable to think of a response to that, “It’s called trust.” Erik added gently, “You’re trusting me with your money, I’m trusting you to stay here.  And I mean stay here, in that bed, go to sleep all right? I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

With one last pointed look at him to stay there, Erik smiled softly and closed the bedroom door behind him.

Charles just sat there in the bed, listening to the movements outside the door and then to the closing of the front door, a car engine rumbling into life outside. Raising his shaking hand he stared at it for a moment, before suddenly shivering. Pulling the dressing gown tighter around himself and pulling up the large collar over his face so only his eyes were peering over it, he snuggled down into the much thicker and more comfortable duvet than he had at home, and lay still, closing his eyes.

The soft fluffy fabric over his nose smelt like Erik.

It made Charles feel warmer than he had been all evening.


Erik stared at the word Frost on the door, the pounding music from the club banging against his ear drums even from just outside.  He was sheltered from the heavy rain here, standing underneath a metal platform some ways above him that the staircase to the left of him joined up to. He’d followed Charles’ directions and wasn’t at all surprised to see where they’d taken him. Back alley black market dealings, this was going to be an interesting experience to step through this door.

He rapped his knuckles across it twice, and waited.


“I need to speak to Emma Frost,” Erik said clearly, “I have something I need to collect from her for a regular customer, a man named Charles.”

A pause, “Charles vas kicked out, he have no money.”

“I have the money, £500, I’m here to exchange it for the pills he needs.”

Another pause, until the Russian voice spoke darkly, “Vait there.”

So Erik waited, looking around the dark alleyway at the discarded cardboard boxes and rubbish building up against the side of the wall.  A rat scuttled out of one pile and into another.  Erik couldn’t stand the thought of Charles needing something so important from such a place.  Charles just didn’t fit into this life, he should have been living somewhere with acres of garden, lots of rooms and maids and a private education, charming those around him with that flirtatious grin and innocent smile, because even living the life he had Charles still had an innocence about him, somehow.

Erik looked back at the door and frowned at it.  This was taking a rather long time, “Hello?” he said, knocking on the door again.

Suddenly he went perfectly still, his eyes going wide as the smooth cold feel of the edge of a knife was pressed against the side of his throat.

The dark eyes of Azazel peered over Erik’s shoulder, his voice by his ear, “If you are police, I vill slit your throat and no one vill ever find the body.”

Erik took a few calming breaths before replying, still staring at the closed door ahead of him, “I understand.” He said quietly, feeling the sharp knife against his skin as his voice rumbled through his throat, “I am not from the police though.”

The door in front of him suddenly opened, the knife pressing a little more threateningly against his skin as Emma Frost walked into view, “We hear that a lot sugar.” She smiled, before nodding towards Azazel. 

He nudged one of Erik’s arms up and Erik got the hint. Keeping his eyes fixed on the icy stare of the woman in front of him he raised his arms out, the knife removed from his throat as Azazel padded down his clothing, searching for anything that should not be there.

“Azazel tells me you have the money for Charles’ medication.” Emma said, smiling serenely.

“That’s right.” Erik replied, as Azazel patted down his left leg, “£500, for the propranolol tablets.”

Emma stepped down the one step from the door to the floor and stood in front of him, looking up into his stern face, studying him. “You’re a handsome one, that’s very rare. So tell me, did Charles explain to you what he suffers from? And why would you care for a little slut like Charles anyway? Don’t tell me you got to fuck him once and now you’ve fallen for him, because you wouldn’t be the first if that’s the case honey.”

Erik wasn’t going to take the bait.  He just stood there, eyes narrow and threatening, “He suffers from Essential Tremor, and these tablets are supposed to stop him from shaking. And why would you care for my reasons, don’t you just want the money?” he challenged.

As if on cue Azazel put his hand into Erik’s jean pocket and brought out the bundle of Charles’ cash, immediately passing it to Emma. Erik felt the knife pushing against his side and he lowered his arms very slowly, watching as Emma counted the money.

“500. Hm, you’re true to your word.” She folded the notes neatly and pushed them in between her breasts for safe keeping, before reaching around the side of the door and bringing out a small cylindrical tub which rattled as she moved it.

“Propranolol, a months supply.” She stated, before smiling another icy smile, “Although before I give them to you, I just want to know. Was Charles very….panicked, that he couldn’t get these? Worrying about what would happen if he continued not to take them?” Erik nodded, frowning lightly, and at his response Emma let out a high pitched laugh, even the dark Russian behind him chuckled. “Oh that’s so precious; he still believes what I told him all those years ago.”

A darkness suddenly began to rise in Erik’s chest at her words, “What are you talking about?” he asked darkly.

Emma practically beamed at him, “I’m the one who diagnosed him, I have a… talent in the field of medicine, although I don’t practise it anymore.  I told him that if he stops taking these tablets his condition will worsen and he will end up with something like Multiple Sclerosis.”  Azazel’s chuckle turned into a true deep laugh for a few moments. “It will do no such thing, all it does is suppress the tremors.” Emma laughed, “In some cases Essential Tremor can be the first signs of that, but it would have been obvious from his blood work right from the very beginning. He just has the plain and simple tremors, the normal genetic condition of ET, and because of what I told him I’ve been guaranteed to get a good lump of cash each month for years because he thinks he’s going to die without taking these tablets.” She burst into another round of laughter, and the darkness in Erik’s chest suddenly burst forth.

In retrospect it was probably an incredibly stupid thing to do, but as the darkness lunged towards her at her confession, her laughter stinging at his ears, it seemed like a very good idea at the time.  Rising his left arm swiftly he elbowed Azazel behind him sharply in the face, the knife dropping from his side in surprise from his other hand. Erik spun around and punched him so hard he was flung backwards to the brick wall behind him, his head smashing back against it, his eyes rolling as he limply dropped to the floor.

Before Emma could even react Erik spun around back to her, his hand out stretched as it clamped around her throat and he threw her against the wall, her manicured hands flying to her throat, her eyes wide and the laughter now long gone from them.

With snarling teeth Erik held her there, her high heeled feet up off the floor scrambling against the wall behind her to try and find some form of foothold to release the pressure from her throat.  Erik’s burning eyes glared into her as he moved his head forward, nose to nose, her strangled cries close to his lips.

“One day,” he growled darkly, “I will come back here. And when I do, you had better hope for your own life that you are gone.”

Holding her there for a few more seconds he finally let go, watching with revulsion as she dropped to the rain wet floor, her hand at her throat, coughing and gasping for air.  Erik took a few small steps away, bending down to pick up the tablets she had dropped when he grabbed her.

“Charles will not be coming here again.” He snarled at her, glaring powerfully into her once icy blue eyes that now seemed to melt in fright at the sight of him, before he turned back out into the rain, leaving the underworld that he would never let Charles return to.


Erik very slowly opened the door to his bedroom.  The lights were out, but with the light from the lounge coming through the door he could see the top of Charles’ dark brown locks on the pillow, the duvet wrapped around him snugly.

Erik smiled happily.

He’d stayed.

Very quietly walking across the floor, he gently placed the pot of pills on the bedside table.  He looked down at Charles, face covered with the dressing gown up to his eyes, the duvet up to his chin, curled around himself like a child in the womb. He was breathing slowly, a thin film of sweat on his forehead.  This was good, he needed to sweat out this fever, he needed to stay warm and comfortable, and Erik planned on doing everything to make that so. Tomorrow was Friday, but he’d call in sick in the morning.  He hadn’t taken a sick day in years, they wouldn’t suspect him.

As he continued to watch him sleep, Erik felt so drawn to him. He almost for a moment considered crawling under the duvet with him, to wrap his arms around him, to share the body heat and to hold his smaller frame against himself, to protect him from everything bad that had ever happened to him.

He would tell Charles in the morning what Emma had said, that he didn’t need to worry, that he was safe, and that even if Charles hated him for it thinking it was charity Erik would pay for these tablets from now on.  He would get Charles a doctor, get these tablets on prescription, and he’d pay for them.  His own doctor, Hank McCoy, that was a good idea. He’d call him after he called work in the morning.

Reaching out Erik brushed one stray bit of hair out of Charles’ closed eyes with one finger, smiling softly as it just fell back to where it was.

He would look after him; he didn’t care what it would take.

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

As wonderfully comfortable as his old and faithful sofa was, it was only meant for two people, which meant Erik’s long sleeping form didn’t exactly fit along it too well. He awoke to the bright morning sunlight with one leg hooked over the back, the other dangling off the other end of the sofa, the spare duvet he’d kept in the airing cupboard in the bathroom crumpled down to his waist. He blinked blearily up at the white ceiling as his sleeping mind remembered why he was on the sofa instead of his own bed, and when he remembered that his bed was currently occupied with the gorgeously cute and ill Charles, he tried to get up so fast that his legs ended up getting tangled in the duvet and he fell straight off the sofa onto the floor in a jumbled heap. Half tripping out of the duvet as he stood up, he rushed towards his bedroom door before pushing it slowly open.

Panic immediately set in.

The bed was empty, the duvet pushed away and the bathroom door open, so Charles’ wasn’t in there.  Luckily though before the weight of loss could fall through him he heard running water behind him, and he looked back at the kitchen to see Charles standing at the sink, filling up a glass of water before taking two of the colourfully pink and red propranolol pills on the counter beside him and popping them into his mouth, taking a sip of water and tipping his head back to swallow.

Erik let out a small breath of relief, a smile to lips before walking over to him.

“Morning.” He said as he walked up to one of the kitchen counters facing out into the lounge, Charles’ eyes turning to him as he swallowed more water, lingering from his face to his bare chest before quickly looking neutrally ahead again, swallowing the last mouthful of water and placing the now empty glass back on the counter.

“Good Morning.” Charles said quietly, “I hope you don’t mind that I…” he looked towards the glass, and Erik smiled.

“Of course not.  How are you feeling?”

Charles’ face was still flushed from fever, but at least his voice didn’t have that slightly croaky tone to it that it had had last night from his coughing. Hopefully the coughing was just a reaction to being out in the cold for so long, and not the beginning of the flu. If he could just break this fever with any luck he’d be alright and recover quickly.

While thinking these lovely caring thoughts however Erik was also trying his very best not to look at Charles’ right shoulder, the shoulder that was half way exposed due to Erik’s too-big pyjama shirt that Charles was wearing, which he had now unbuttoned the first three buttons causing it to slip further down on one shoulder. As pathetic as it was even an exposed shoulder this early in the morning was causing very inappropriate thoughts to wander through Erik’s mind, and he curled his toes into the shag carpeting beneath his feet.

“I’m so hot.” Charles said.

Erik blinked as he tried to calm his mental response of God Yes You Are, “I’m sorry?”

Charles gazed up at him, a small hint of a smirk slowly curling the corner of his lips, “You asked how I was feeling. I’m hot, I think I got over heated sleeping in that dressing gown.”

“Right.” Erik quickly replied, “Yes……but that’s good!” he tried to regain his composure from the strange little smirking staring match going on here and walked around the side of the counters into the kitchen area in front of Charles, “You need to keep warm to break this fever, hot is good. I’m going to make some tea, would like some?”

Charles watched him for a moment as he picked up the kettle, holding it under the tap to fill it up.  Erik could see him out the corner of his eyes, contemplating his question.

“Yes. Please.” Charles eventually said, and Erik let a small satisfied smile on his lips.  He’d said yes, unlike last night.  That was a good sign.

“Milk? Sugar?”

“Just milk. Thank you, by the way, for these.” Charles said softly, motioning to the tub of tablets in his hand as Erik placed the kettle back on its electrical holder and switched it on, “I’m sorry I didn’t trust you. I have…..”

Erik leant back on the counter by the sink and looked at him thoughtfully, “Reasons.” He filled in for him.  Charles looked up at him, feeling awkward under Erik’s kind smile. “I know. It’s alright, you stayed.”

Charles smiled at him quickly, looking back down at the pills in his hand. He had indeed stayed.  He had the entire night to sneak out should he have wished, Erik was obviously out of it enough for Charles to walk to the kitchen and get a glass before he’d even woken up.

Erik did wonder however how he was going to broach the subject of those pills, what Emma had told him.  Perhaps he should get Charles back into bed and comfortable and calm and hope being relaxed will cause less of a freak out when he finds out she’s been lying to him all this time.  A fresh wave of anger briefly passed over him.  If it wasn’t for her Charles wouldn’t have sat out in that freezing rain last night desperate for someone to come along, wouldn’t be standing here with flushed cheeks and dull eyes and…

...well, wouldn’t be standing here with Erik either.

Erik ignored that thought.

First things first he needed to call into work, make up some illness, call Dr McCoy and hope he could book a home visit, because he had a feeling Charles wasn’t going to allow him to take him anywhere he didn’t know. Also getting showered and dressed would help.
“Look you head back to bed, I’ll bring in the tea.  I have a few phone calls to make then-“

“Bed?” Charles looked at him curiously as the kettle behind Erik began to steam, “I thank you for the tea but…I should be going afterwards.”

Erik smiled at him, “You’re still ill,” he pointed out, before turning around to a cupboard behind him to bring out two mugs, “It wouldn’t be right, besides your clothes are still very damp, I was going to throw them in the washing machine this morning for you too.” Grabbing two tea bags he dropped them into the mugs just as the kettle began to boil, picking it up and pouring the boiling water over them, “You should stay here today, think of it as a day off.”

Charles was silent behind him for a moment, before finally asking, “It’s Friday.  Wouldn’t you have work to go to?”

“That’s one of the phone calls I have to make.”

As Erik dipped the tea bags before eventually dropping them into the bin beside the fridge, Charles’ small voice asked one final question.
“Why are you doing this for me?”

He’d asked that same question last night when he was trying to shove the money Erik had given him back into his hands.  Erik paused for a moment, fridge open to get the milk, glancing across at Charles’ questioning eyes, before shutting the fridge door and pouring the milk into the mugs. “Do I have to have a reason?”

“There’s always a reason for being nice to me.”

Erik paused again, placing the milk bottle down before leaning on the counter with his hands and sighing deeply, “You know, that’s very sad if you’ve truly come to believe that.”  He glanced back over at him, Charles looking all too lost in those overly too-big pyjama’s, an expression that was just waiting for Erik to tell him the catch, the thing Charles needed to do in return for this kindness.

They stared at each other silently, before a small sad smile appeared on Erik’s lips and he motioned towards the bedroom door behind Charles with his head, “Go on.  I’ll bring yours in.”

Charles gazed at him, a still confused look to his brow, apparently still unable to grasp why Erik was doing all this.  Still, he conceded, and he walked around the counters back onto the soft shag carpeting heading back towards the bedroom, Erik following behind him.

Erik was trying to contain the swell of affection when noticing his pyjama bottoms Charles was wearing were so long they almost covered both feet entirely.


Ensuring Charles was comfortable and tucked in warmly despite his protests of being too over heated, telling him to drink his tea and try and get a bit more sleep, Erik closed the bedroom door and headed over to the cordless phone on the wall by the door leading down to the stairs.
Making a quick phone call to his work, putting on a replica of Charles’ groggy tired voice saying he’d got a terrible fever come over during the night, Erik then dialled the memorised number to his doctor.

Dr Hank McCoy was a man he’d known since he very first came to England at 10 years old, or rather he should say, boy.  After settling into their flat not far from where he lived now, Erik’s mother had registered with their local GP surgery and was assigned a Dr Frederick McCoy, Hank’s father, who had just himself had a baby boy with his wife.  The few times over the years he or his mother had visited for whatever medical reasons little Hank was often the subject of conversation, Fredrick beaming over how smart his young son was, and who already was showing an interest in medical science.

By the time Hank was 15 he’d already been accepted into one of the top Medical Advancement Colleges, and at only 18 could have easily been a top surgeon in any field he could have chosen, had he wanted to go down that road.  But as smart as he was Hank wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, become a local GP, become a trusted family doctor, and that’s exactly what he did.

Opening his own GP surgery a few miles away Hank was overjoyed when Erik said he wouldn’t mind switching over to his surgery, just to help him get started as his first patient, with Fredrick’s permission of course. Dr McCoy senior was also overjoyed at Erik’s suggestion, unbelievably proud of his son, and ever since then the young Dr Hank McCoy had been a friendly, quiet doctor who over the past 7 years had become somewhat of a casual friendship to Erik, being his first ever patient.  Not that Erik barely ever got ill, but Hank was a bit of a nerve ball sometimes, especially when first starting out in his surgery, and Erik had taken him for a few calming drinks on more than one occasion.  Just as friends of course, nothing more, the man was 10 years younger than him after all.

Of course Charles was 8 years younger than him but that was an entirely different situation altogether.

“Dr McCoy? Erik Lehnsherr.” Erik said, after getting through the early morning reception rush.

“Erik? Erik! H-hello! Heh, how many times have I said you can call me Hank.”

“Sorry.” Erik smiled to himself. Hank always sounded nervous, despite being extremely good at his job, “Habit.  Listen I know it’s very short notice but I was wondering if by any chance you might have a free appointment at some point today, that you could make a home visit on?”

“Oh? What’s happened to you?”

“Oh it’s um, it’s not me.  I have….” how on earth was he going to explain this, “…a young man here who…well there’s a rather…delicate, shall we say, way of life he leads and…” Erik sighed.  There was no way round of explaining this. “Hank, I can trust you can’t I? Patient confidentiality?”

“Of course.” Hank replied after a moments pause, concern in his voice at Erik’s tone, “If there’s someone there who you believe needs my help then no matter who they are I shall of course do my very best. Doctors don’t judge people, we’re here to help.”
With another sigh Erik walked over to his sofa and flopped down on top of it, kicking the duvet to one side, “Okay.  This is a bit of story, so, bear with me.”

This was probably another thing Charles was going to kill him for, but he had no other choice.  There was no way of explaining to Hank how Charles came to be here and about where his propranolol pills came from without telling the truth.  Hank listened obediently as Erik explained everything from beginning to the end, what Charles does to earn the money for these propranolol pills from a woman on the black market, although leaving out certain….details.  Hank didn’t need to know what went on inside that bedsit for a start.

It was a credit to Hank’s professionalism that by the time Erik had finished talking there wasn’t a single hint of judgement or disgust to Hank’s voice, “Okay,” he said thoughtfully, “Okay, yes I would like to see him, if only to check these propranolol pills are in fact what this woman has been saying they are.  Do you know the dosage he’s taking?”

“No, sorry, I didn’t look.”

“I’d like to take a blood sample too in that case, check how far along his condition is and make sure he is taking the correct dosage for combating it.  I do have a fully booked day today already but I’ll come over during my lunch break.”

“Really? You don’t mind?”

“No no it’s fine, this Charles sounds like he’d be better off seeing someone sooner rather than later.  How’s 12.30?”


With a few more thank you’s and finally a goodbye, Erik clicked off the phone and placed it on the coffee table, leaning back against the sofa with a sigh.  How on earth was he going to explain he’d just had to tell a total stranger about Charles’ lifestyle without him freaking out? Because he very much doubted Charles was going to see he’d only done it because he cared about him. Erik knew he’d certainly feel pissed off if someone he knew told a complete stranger intimate private details about his life.

Perhaps he could plan how to phrase it all when having a nice shower.


20 minutes later and a showered and dressed Erik was picking the neat pile of Charles’ clothes up from the linen basket, where Charles had evidently folded them before his bath last night not knowing what to do with them.  As he picked them up however something caught his eye behind the basket, something papery.  Reaching behind it he picked up a photograph. It seemed like a very old photo, if all the folded creases and watermarks were any indication, but through the damage there were two faces staring up at him, two very happy young faces, children, one with dark brown locks and very familiar startling blue eyes and red lips, and the other of a smaller blond girl, a round cute face, holding onto the boys arm with both hands and grinning wildly at the camera.  The photo was very damp, perhaps having been in the pocket of Charles’ jeans during the rain, and so leaving the clothes for a moment Erik walked back out into the bedroom, still staring down at the photo.

“I’m guessing this is yours.” Erik said, “I just found it on the floor.” He held out the photo to Charles who was peering at him from where he lay on his side in the bed, and instantly Charles’ eye went wide and he leapt upright in the bed, grabbing the photo out of Erik’s hands and looking at it closely, relief written all over his face as he tried to smooth out the creases with his thumbs, though probably causing more damage than good by doing so.

“I thought I’d lost this.” He said quietly, before giving Erik a very thankful and big genuine smile, “Thank you!”

The smile almost matched the bright one in the photograph, and Erik felt his heart do that strange little skip of a beat that it had done before, “It was behind the linen basket.” He paused, wondering if he should ask, “….who’s the girl?”

The smile on Charles’ face slowly melted as he continued to look at his precious photograph, before he pursed his lips together forming a very small, sad looking smile, reminiscent memories ghosting over his eyes, “She’s my sister.”

Erik didn’t really catch the sadness in the smile and he returned this piece of news with a happy smile of his own, “You have a sister?”

Charles gently stroked his thumb across the blond hair in the photo, “Had a sister.” He corrected quietly, “…..she died.”

A sudden awkward silent atmosphere hovered above them as Charles gently placed the photo onto the bedside table, where the cash Erik had given him now also sat.

“I’m sorry.” Erik said quietly, feeling like he’d intruded on a moment he shouldn’t have.

“That’s okay,” Charles smiled gently up at him, “It was quite a few years back now.  It’s just that’s the only photo I have of her, when I thought I’d lost it yesterday I…”

He trailed off, but Erik understood. He’d kept a small photo of his father with him at all times for years as a child and teenager, believing a part of his father was always with him as long as he had that photo.  Now the photo was framed and stayed on his desk next to his computer in the lounge.

“Listen I, have a couple of things I need to talk to you about.” Erik said, changing the conversation and sitting on the edge of bed, Charles looking back up at him from where he leant back against the headboard.

“That sounds ominous.” Charles tried a small smile to lighten the low mood he’d put the room in, but it slowly faded at the seriousness in Erik’s eyes.

“Before I say anything I want you to know I’ve done this out of concern for you.  I want to help you. I know you seem to think kindness comes at a price for you but that’s not the case with me, so please just…keep that in mind.”

Charles gazed at him uncertainly, a small frown to his eyes, “…..okay,” he said warily.

Erik took a moment to sort through the jumble of words in his head, trying to remember the vague plan he’d thought of in the shower, “Something happened at the club last night that-“

“Oh my goodness are you okay?!” Suddenly Charles’ hand was on Erik’s arm, his blue eyes looking up at him with great concern, “I never asked, Azazel didn’t hurt you did he? Was Emma cooperative she didn’t ask for more money did she?”

So much for his well thought out plan. Erik blinked at him, Charles’ hand warm on his arm through his shirt.  The two stared at each other for a moment before Charles realised how he sounded, a small blush creeping to his cheeks as a smirk rose to Erik’s lips, Charles slowly removing his hand and looking down at the duvet. 

“You know for someone who doesn’t trust people when they’re being nice to you, you’re awfully quick to be nice to others.” Erik said, almost teasingly, Charles apparently too embarrassed to look up at him, “But it’s okay, I’m fine,” Erik smiled gently, “though they certainly did try something, which is why Azazel ended up unconscious,” Charles looked up at him alarmed, “ and, well, certain threats were made against Emma which means you won’t be going back there again.”

Charles’ alarm melted into disbelief, “What?  What do you mean? I get my tablets from there I have to-”

“Not anymore,” Erik interrupted, holding up a hand to silence him “I’m going to pay for them, on prescription for you.” Charles stared at him with ridiculously wide eyes, apparently too gobsmacked to speak, which gave Erik the chance to explain without having to calm Charles down. “Emma’s been lying to you Charles. There’s no easy way of saying this but what she told you about your condition, about the tablets stopping you from getting Parkinson’s, it was all a lie.  You never had the possibility of getting it in the first place, it wasn’t in your blood work.  All you have is the normal tremors, it’s all you will ever have, the tablets just stop the trembling that’s all.  Your life was never in danger by not taking them.”

It was a lot to say at once, he knew it was, but the quicker he got it out the quicker Charles could understand, and not interrupt halfway through and panic. Erik was waiting for some kind of reaction, anger he would have thought, but Charles just remained staring at him wide eyed, jaw slightly slack at the news, and the more he stared the more Erik gradually noticed his eyes were shining far more than usual, crystal tears forming on his lower eyelids before Charles slowly looked down at the duvet again, breathing strangely slow.

“No, it….why….why would she do that?” his voice was small, broken, and it took all of Erik’s willpower not to reach out and hold him close.

“She lied to you to make you panic,” Erik answered quietly, “knowing you’d come to her every month for the tablets without fail if you thought you had to have them.”

Charles’ stared at the duvet, head slightly lowered, eyes swimming with unshed tears before he finally closed them, one tear from each eye falling over his cheeks, a look of utter disbelief and almost literal pain across his face,  “So every month…every time I begged her to….” he took in a shaky breath, biting his bottom lip hard, “she knew all along, the past 10 years….”

10 years? Dear God was that how long he’d been living this life? If only to hide the shock on his face at this little piece of news Erik reached into his dresser draw and took out a small packet of tissues, handing them to Charles.  Charles quickly took them and wiped at the tears in his eyes, sniffing before staring with pained betrayed eyes back at the duvet, letting out a short huff of breath though his nose before bringing his knees to his chest and covering his face with his hands, shoulders trying not to tremble.

“Which…” Erik began cautiously, “brings me to the point about the prescription. You’ll need to register with a local GP doctor, then I can get these pills for you.  I’ve given my doctor a ring, he’s going to come round at lunch to see how you a-“

Suddenly Charles’ head snapped up, staring at Erik with an absolute terrified expression, wet tear tracks down his face but his eyes now clear of tears, almost seeming to tremble themselves with fear. 

Erik was so taken aback at the look he lost his train of thought, “What’s wrong?”

“You….there’s a doctor coming here?”

His voice was but a terrified whispered, and Erik frowned in deep concern at this reaction, “Yes. Dr Hank McCoy.” He said warily, “He’s very nice, he-“

“No. No no no, I…no I can’t, I have to go.”

Suddenly Charles was scrambling out of the bed, a terror like Erik had never seen etched on every inch of his face, but as he stood so quickly his head spun with fever and his legs once again gave out, Erik quickly reaching out to grab him pulling him back to bed.
“Whoa, hold on calm down, what’s wrong?”

“Why do you think I’ve been getting those pills on the black market?!” Charles yelled at him, trying to get away from the grip Erik had on his wrists, “I can’t see a doctor, I can’t….I can’t face it.  Please just let me go, keep your money, I don’t care it doesn’t matter I’m sorry I’ll just go, you, you don’t…I can’t…”

He was rambling, struggling feebly against Erik’s strength, tears once again forming on his eyelids as his breath came in quick short gasps, entire body shaking.

A panic attack.

Suddenly Erik leant forward, wrapping his arms tightly around the terrified Charles, holding his shaking form against his chest just like he’d done out in the rain.

“Shh, sh- calm down Charles, it’s alright, just breathe nothing’s going to happen to you, no one’s going to hurt you I swear it.” Charles was struggling in his arms, choked scared sobs shaking his shoulders, “It’s pretty obvious something bad has happened to you before with a doctor, I get that I understand but that’s not the case here, it’s okay, just calm down. Shhh, nothing’s going to happen.” He rubbed his back gently, trying to rub away the fear that clung to him.  Something very bad had to have happened for this reaction.  A bad customer in the past perhaps? He looked more terrified than he did when Erik had suggested he stay at his house for a night.

Erik continued to say soothing calming words, rocking him gently back and forth like a child after a nightmare. Slowly Charles’ breathing began to calm, his body regaining its stillness, the hands tearing at Erik’s shirt to let him go now simply held him, fingers clasping small fistfuls of shirt at Erik’s back.

“I know this doctor,” Erik whispered softly into his hair, “I’ve known him all his life, he’s even younger than you.  He’s a kind gentle soul Charles, a bit like you actually.” He gently kissed the top of Charles’ head, his lips lingering on the soft threads, “And even if he wasn’t, I wouldn’t let anything hurt you, do you understand? Nothing. Just…” Erik sighed, a burning ache in his chest at seeing Charles like this, “…just let me help you, please.” He squeezed him a little bit tighter, closing his eyes at Charles’ lack of response before looking up at the ceiling, “Just let me take you away from all this.”

It was just a whisper, more spoken to himself than to Charles, pleading for any deity out there to make Charles understand, understand he wanted to help, wanted to be there for him, wanted to take him away…wanted to be with him.

The fabric around them rustled a little as Charles moved in Erik’s arms, but he wasn’t trying to get away. In fact he was tucking his head further against Erik’s chest under his chin, letting go of those crumpled handfuls of shirt and spreading his palms across Erik’s back, simply holding him.

“Don’t you dare leave me alone with him.” His voice was small, but at least no longer had that urgent sense of fear to it, “Not for one second. Do you understand? Not for a single second.”

Erik ran one hand through Charles’ soft hair, holding his head close to him, “I won’t. I promise”


The combination of his fever, finding out he’d been lied to for the past 10 years, and then being scared out of his wits had left Charles exhausted, and he’d fallen asleep in Erik’s arms where he held him on the bed.  Erik would have found this small trusting moment endearing if not for the deep concern over this fear.

He’d laid him back down on the bed, tucked him in warmly, threading his fingers through Charles’ hair once more before spending the rest of the remaining morning pacing around the apartment, trying to imagine what could possibly have happened to Charles to make him so soul-bearingly terrified of doctors, something that made him pay out £500 a month just to save a quick visit to the doctors for a prescription. And 10 years, 10 years being a rent boy? But he was only 26, which meant he had to have gone to Emma’s when he was only 16.  What could possibly have happened to him to make him go to the black market at that age? What was he doing before then?

Erik’s mind raced with so many un-answered questions, and before long there was the ringing sound of the doorbell and Erik looked at the clock on the wall to find it was already 12.30.

Heading down the stairs Erik opened the door to the young doctor and welcomed him through, warning him quickly about Charles’ outburst, his apparent terrifying fear of doctors, and Hank nodded, a look of empathy behind those black framed glasses.

The doorbell must have awoken Charles, for when Erik opened the bedroom door he was sitting up against the headboard again, knees drawn to his chest as he completely ignored Erik and stared sternly at Hank, who walked through the door next to Erik with what he hoped was a calming smile on his lips.

“Hello there, I’m Dr Hank McCoy. I believe your name is Charles right?”

Charles’ eyes narrowed at him, holding his arms tighter around his knees, before saying in a low and rather threatening tone, “Don’t you dare smile at me. Doctor.” he spat the term with such venom poor Hank actually looked rather shocked and taken aback.  Erik just gave him a quick apologetic look before walking over to Charles dragging a chair from the kitchen behind him and placing it by the side of the bed, before walking around it to the other side.

“He’s here to help Charles.” He tried to say reassuringly, but Charles wasn’t taking his eyes off Hank for a second, not even when Erik climbed onto the bed and sat down next to him, placing his hand gently on his elbow in a supportive manner.

“That’s right.” Hank said, now conscious of his smile, “But I’ll try and be as quick as possible okay? Is it….is it okay if I come towards you?”

Now he was so close Erik could see the fear strained in Charles’s stiff shoulders, and watched the Adams Apple of his throat bob quickly as he swallowed before nodding reluctantly at Hank, his left hand creeping up to clasp at Erik’s on his elbow as Hank walked towards him. Erik glanced at their hands but otherwise didn’t move. Charles was in a very heightened state right now, like a wary cat ready to either strike or run. Hank had to be one of the most least threatening people Erik had ever met, so it had to be a true fear for Charles to be acting like this.

“I’m just going to do some usual routine stuff okay?” Hank said, unable to keep his reassuring smile from his face despite Charles’ words, placing his briefcase on the bedside table and sitting down on the chair, “Check your temperature, blood pressure and heart beat.” Erik could feel Charles lean further into him at Hanks closeness, but otherwise didn’t protest.

And so began the rather arduous slow task of getting Charles to co-operate.  He’d point blankly refused to have the thermometer in his mouth until Erik took it from Hank’s hand, Charles looking up at him and the thin offered instrument before letting Erik place it under his tongue, his eyes not leaving Erik’s for a moment, the bright blue just daring him to look away.  Erik wouldn’t ever look away, there was such a begging fear behind that stare that if Erik looked away and left him there Charles would be out that door in a flash.

Charles was then practically cringing as he felt Hanks’ hands around his left arm as he placed the blood pressure pads there, Hank deciding he really should stop smiling as every time he did Charles just leant further and further away, to a point he was almost sitting on Erik’s lap.  Charles couldn’t look at him, just turned his head away, pressing his forehead into the side of Erik’s neck with his eyes closed.

The gesture made Erik’s heart beat faster as Charles cuddled against him like that, despite the reasoning behind why he was.

When it came to the stethoscope to listen to his heart beat Hank didn’t even bother asking to lift up Charles’ shirt, he just gave the end of it to Erik while placing the hearing ends into his own ears, motioning for Erik to please to do the honours.

With questioning eyes to Charles if it was okay to lift up his shirt, Charles just nodded very gently, looking away again as he placed his legs flat against the bed and Erik gently lifted up his shirt, placing the cold end of the scope to the various places across his chest that Hank asked it to be placed. Each time he moved it Erik’s warm fingers brushed against Charles’ fevered skin, and Erik didn’t know if it was that or the cold scope that made Charles hitch his breath every now and then.

By the end, Hank writing down his various findings on a medical sheet of paper, he turned to Charles with a smile which he quickly remembered to get rid of again, “Well, all seems to be good.  You have slightly high blood pressure but that may just because of the…current circumstance.  Your lungs and heart sound fine, which means you don’t have the start of the flu this is just a simple fever, possibly due to exhaustion.  You do have a temperature of 100.8 though so I’d like for you to stay exactly where you are until it breaks, sleep, eat well, and just generally relax.”

“What about the propranolol?” Erik reminded him, and Hank looked at the small bottle of pills on the bedside table and picked them up, reading the label on the side.

“These are only 60mg, that’s the lowest dosage you can get.” He turned to Charles, “I’d like to take a blood sample if I may? I’ll be able to tell just how far advanced your Essential Tremor is and if these are the correct dosage that you need to be taking.”

“You are not sticking a needle in me.” Charles glared at him, ignoring Erik’s sigh.

“Charles, just listen to him-“

“No!” Charles protested, turning his glare to Erik, “I’ve had these for 10 years they’ve done me fine so far, look I’m not shaking at all, not since I took them this morning!” he said, holding out his perfectly still hands to prove he was fine and had no need to have a needle stuck in his arm.

“Look, you know you’re not going to get Parkinson’s Disease from this,” Erik said as calmly as possible, seeing Hank look up at him strangely at that remark, “but wouldn’t you just like to know that everything else is okay too? It sounds to me like you haven’t had any tests since Emma first diagnosed you, and you said that was 10 years ago right?”

“Um...” Hank murmured, raising his hand a little.

“It’s done me fine so far.”


“Who’s to say she didn’t lie to you about something else?”

“Did you say tha-“

I am not having any Doctor sticking a needle into my arm ever again Erik!”


Again. Again. For what felt like the millionth time Erik asked himself, what had happened to Charles? The anger in his eyes at the suggestion of a needle, and the fear that still swam behind them, what could have turned this beautiful soul to such despair?  Erik still firmly believed Charles could not have been like this his whole life, something must have changed, something terrible.

Hank looked from one to the other as Charles glared into Erik’s surprised eyes, breathing heavily and hands clutching the duvet over his legs.

 “Um…” Hank tried again at the deathly silence, eyes still flickering from one to another, “I-I’m sorry but, did you just say it’s not possible for it to develop into Parkinson’s Disease? Because that’s not true.”

This very much got their attention, and the glare from Charles’ face fell as he turned to look at Hank, Erik too, though he looked more angry.

“I was told this type of Essential Tremor wouldn’t do that.” Erik said darkly.

“By the lady you got the pills from right?” Hank asked, and Erik nodded.

“That’s not true. There are no ‘types’. It’s entirely possible for it to develop into Parkinson’s, but it’s only a possibility, not a definite.”

The unnerved confusion on their faces made Hank look at them questioningly, especially at Charles, “You do know the details about what you suffer from don’t you?”

For the first time Charles spoke directly to him without sounding like he wanted to ram something hard and sharp through his chest, “Only what I was told at the very beginning, that I had to take the propranolol because it would stop it from developing into something much worse,” he looked at Erik, “then I was told it wasn’t possible for it to develop anyway, but now you’re saying it does?” he asked, looking back to Hank, eyebrows raised in worry.

Looking from one to the other again, Hank realising they truly didn’t understand, he sighed and sat back on his chair. “I think I’d better explain.  Essential Tremor is a genetic condition that causes the victims hands to uncontrollably shake when nervous or stressed. It can also be triggered by low blood sugar and…I suspect, in your….” Hank coughed awkwardly, “…i-in your line of work, physical exhaustion.”

Had the situation not felt so dire Erik suspected Charles would be glaring at him right now.  He’d forgotten to mention to Charles that he’d told Hank everything he knew about him, about him being a rent boy, but as it happened Charles was just looking at Hank with an unreadable expression on his face. It wasn’t the time to be dwelling on things like that.

“Those who suffer from it are indeed four times more likely to develop such conditions as Parkinson’s, but it’s not guaranteed, and certainly not life threatening to miss taking the tablets.  You could go through life with the simple tremors and nothing more. Essential Tremor is a progressive condition, it does worsen with age even if it doesn’t develop into Parkinson’s, but what Propranolol does is to slow down the progression and help to ease the day to day trembling, nothing more.  There is no cure for this, it’s only treatable.  Having said that, even if the tremors don’t kick start Parkinson’s they can be disabling themselves in later life anyway.  In worse case scenarios the tremors can completely immobilise hands making them unable to grip anything, and in severe cases tremors can pass to the legs, leaving them unable to support body weight and leaving the patient in a wheelchair.  But again this is all ifs, buts and maybes.” Hank quickly added to the crushed, desperate look on Charles’ face, a look equally matched on Erik’s, “Although the condition will worsen with age we can also up the dosage of propranolol to counter it, you may live your whole life with nothing more than the odd tremor to remind you to take your tablets.  It’s completely impossible to say one way or another how your condition will turn out, only time will tell.”

Another silence filled the room as it’s occupants tried to come to terms with Hank’s word. Erik sat there silently fuming. 


He was going to fucking kill her!

Standing there laughing, lying that everything was fine, making it seem like Charles had no choice, and why, just for a laugh? What kind of sick bitch was she?

“So she was lying to me.” He finally said through gritted teeth, wanting to apologise profusely to Charles for getting his hopes up earlier, telling him he had nothing to worry about, now knowing that somewhere out there Emma was laughing at him further still knowing what he was heading off to tell Charles about.

“Half lying it would seem.” Hank said, “Parkinson’s could develop but the pills certainly won’t affect it either way, they are just for the tremors.”

Erik was suddenly imagining his hands back around Emma’s throat, this time squeezing tighter instead of letting go.  Charles’ illness was just a joke to her. “Why would she say that?” Erik was practically growling, “What could she possibly-“

“To mess with you.” Charles said quietly, both men turning to him, Erik biting back the strangled sound that wanted to escape his throat at the tears falling from those blue eyes, “She’s like that.  Probably thought it was strange to have someone get the tablets for me, probably thought you cared for me so messed with your head to see your reaction.” He looked at the two of them, vision swimming with tears before quickly wiping at his eyes, “It’s alright, I’ve been used to knowing all that, it’s just with what you said this morning,” he said, looking up at Erik, “for a little while I thought that…maybe I’d be alright after all.”

“I’m so sorry Charles.” Erik breathed, heart feeling like a vice was squeezing it in his chest, “I shouldn’t have trusted what she said, I…” How could he possibly apologise?  He’d convinced him everything would be okay, and now it’s just been snatched away again.  If he’d just kept his mouth shut and waited until Hank arrived where he could have described the condition just like he’d done, Charles would have been none the wiser. Charles would have gone from thinking his condition might get worse, to exactly that, his condition might get worse. “…I’m sorry.” he whispered, not knowing what he could possibly do to make it up to him.  He wanted to reach out, wanted to hold him, but he didn’t know if Charles would ever want him near again after doing this to him.

It was Erik’s fault that those tears were falling, and he couldn’t stand it.

“No, don’t apologise.” Charles said, his eyes shining but the tears at least stopping now, “You couldn’t have known, you thought you were helping. I don’t blame you for what she said Erik. This doesn’t change anything, my friend.”

My friend.  He hadn’t called him that since they first met, and yet somehow that one small little term made Erik feel a hundred times lighter, like he’d been forgiven, even though he felt like he shouldn’t be.  It made him smile.

“Here,” Charles said, forcing his eyes away from Erik and rolling up his left sleeve, holding his arm out to Hank, “Just take the blood. I suppose I’m stuck with you now.” He said, eyeing Erik with a small smirk, despite the tear tracks shining in the light.

At the shared look Hank practically beamed at them, before taking out an empty syringe and beginning the process of taking the blood.  Charles didn’t move eye contact with Erik the entire time, whether through a remaining fear or not Erik wasn’t sure, but when Charles’ right hand slowly sought out his own, resting over the top and squeezing just that little bit, it felt like something fluffy and warm had crawled into his chest and made a nest.

“What’s your full name by the way?” Hank asked as he safely packed the syringe of blood into its case, “So I know what to register you as?”

“Xavier.” Charles replied, his heart beating faster as Erik shifted his hand and thread his long fingers through his own, not once breaking eye contact, “Charles Francis Xavier.”


After filling out a few more details such as address and phone number, Hank even got away with shaking Charles’ hand as he left, unable to help the smile at this small accomplishment, and headed out the bedroom door with Erik, who smiled at Charles kindly before closing the door, saying he’ll be back in a few minutes.

“This will take a few days to test,” Hank said, walking across the lounge towards the stairs, “I think I’ll test basically everything to make sure he’s in good health. In the mean time I suggest you try and convince him to stay here for a while.” He headed down the stairs, Erik following behind, “He needs a break from his life, both physically and mentally, he’s over-exhausted, under-fed, and it’s finally taking its toll. Oh and err, one more thing.” He paused at the bottom of the stairs, slipping on his coat, Erik standing behind him as he turned around to face him, “There’s nearly always a back story of how people in Charles’ situation get in that situation, between that and his fear of doctors there is some psychological issues here that may need to be addressed.  If you can, try and get him to tell you about himself.  It’d be like a therapy session for him. It may be things he doesn’t want to talk about but believe me, he’ll feel better afterwards for talking to someone about it.” Hank patted Erik on the shoulder with a smile, “It’ll do him some good to have a friend.”

Erik nodded at him, returning the smile, “Thank you Hank. I owe you a drink.” He grinned at him.

Hank just smiled and waved him off, a nervous laugh escaping him, “Only doing my job. Good luck.” With a nod of his head Hank headed out through the door, Erik closing it gently behind him.

He stood there for a moment, back against the door, thinking over Hank’s words.

A friend.

Erik wanted so much more than that, and with the way Charles was looking at him in there perhaps he’d have a chance to be just that much more after all, because no matter what Charles’ illness did to him, Erik couldn’t imagine not being there to help him through it.

To Be Continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

Walking back into the bedroom Erik saw Charles was still sitting up in the bed, but now his eyes were closed, his head resting against the headboard behind him.  Erik watched him for a moment, so many questions running around his head but not knowing how to phrase any of them. How on earth could he ask about Charles’ past without feeling like he was…intruding? Which is what he’d exactly be doing.

He stood at the foot of the bed, mind racing, but settled for now on asking, “How are you feeling?”

“Very tired now.” Charles replied without opening his eyes, taking a deep breath. His emotions had been pretty battered recently and with his fever it was draining him rapidly.

“Do you need anything?”

Charles shook his head slowly, and cautiously Erik sat down at the end of the bed to one side, the mattress sagging a little underneath him. He knew it would be a minor miracle if Charles answered him if he just straight out asked what had happened in his past, but it was worth a shot anyway, as long as he phrased it right. Charles had shown the first signs of trust during that little medical, perhaps he should take advantage of it.

“Listen Charles…Hank had suggested that, to make you feel better, you might want to…talk, just a bit, about…perhaps what might have happened to you in your life tha-“

“No.” It was short, sudden and blunt, and Charles opened his eyes to fix Erik with a hard stare, “I know what you’re going to say, that it would be good for me to get it all off my chest to someone. Well I’m sorry but it’s not happening.  There are things clients don’t need to know about me.”

Client.  The word hit Erik hard like a brick to the chest, but then to Charles that would be all he was, someone paying up money for his company. He had no reason to tell him anything, why would he?

“I understand how-“

“No, you don’t, you couldn’t possibly understand.”

Charles wasn’t exactly glaring, but the stern look in his eyes told Erik it was time to drop the subject.  It wasn’t going to work today, Charles had been through enough already, and Erik should have known that.

“Okay.” Erik said gently, and those stern blue eyes looked away, a moments silence between them. “Well,” Erik began again, a lighter tone to his voice, “Another thing Hank said is about you staying here until you’re well.  Which means I guess you’d like another £100 off me to stay the night again, correct?”

Charles’ eyes widened ever so slightly and he looked back at him, “You really want me to stay again?” he asked slowly, and Erik nodded in reply, “You actually have these hundreds of pounds to spare?”

Erik smiled, “Well, part of my savings.  I was planning on going on a tour around Europe on a long break, but yo-, this is more important.”  He wasn’t sure why he changed the word mid-sentence, perhaps he thought he was revealing to Charles more than Charles wanted to hear right now.

He was just a client after all.

Charles eyed him, before raising his eyebrow in a rather amused expression, “You’re a strange one my friend.”

“And you’re an impossible one.” Erik smirked back at him, causing a small amused huff of air to escape Charles as he smiled.

“Another kiss for the money then?” Charles asked, “Or would you prefer something…more this time?”

Erik didn’t miss the subtle change of tone to his voice on those last few words, just that little bit deeper, as though a switch had been flipped on in Charles’ brain to turn on Seduction Mode.  And oh boy, oh yes did Erik want that again, but not like this, it felt wrong to use him like that.

Again, anyway.

It may be what Charles does to survive but Erik didn’t want to be like everyone else who had used him. He would pay him, but just for a kiss, just to feel those red lips would be enough for now until…well, until what Erik wasn’t sure.  Until Charles fell in love with him too? He didn’t even trust him fully yet let alone love him. It was going to be a long arduous road for Charles to fall for him too.

“Just a kiss.” Erik replied lightly, and wondered if he’d imagined the brief look of disappointment on Charles’ face.

Erik would certainly do everything he could to get Charles out of this world, to rescue him from his tortured mind, to get him to trust him.  The closeness and warmth from him while sitting together on that bed, the way Charles had leant into him, reached for his hand of his own free will, Erik wanted to hope that perhaps that was the first sign of something more.

Of course Erik could also have been the lesser of two evils in that situation with Hank, so maybe he was reading too much into Charles’ desperate closeness.

“You know…” Charles began, suddenly looking awkwardly down at the duvet cover, “It doesn’t have to be £100.  If you really only want a kiss, then…it can be a lot cheaper than that. I-I mean it’s not like I go out onto the streets every night, I only work on nights where the need for money has gotten desperate, so…I wouldn’t be getting money every night anyway. So if you really only want a kiss…”

He trailed off, eyes flicking up to Erik, but Erik just smiled, “I want to pay you £100.” He said “The more money you have the more it helps you, right?”

There was a definite blush on Charles’ cheeks at that, one that deepened the red already there from his fever, a small tug of a smirk on his lips, “You’re definitely a strange one.”

Erik grinned at him, “I’m also a hungry one, would you like some lunch?


Before heading back into the kitchen Erik dug out a spare toothbrush and mug for Charles as he’d agree to stayed, as well as fresh pair of pyjamas (still far too big for him of course) if he wanted to freshen up.  As he stood in the kitchen making a very thick cheese and ham salad sandwich, Erik made a mental note that when he was grocery shopping tomorrow he must get some clothes for Charles. He knew Charles would complain, say he wasn’t a charity, get riled up, but then perhaps Erik might just shut him up with a kiss again, and say that hang on, we kissed again, that means you have to stay yet another night if you want the £100 for it.

A part of him wondered if that sounded vaguely stalker-ish, and he paused mid-cutting of bread before telling himself to get a grip and to at least try and not act like a creepy love-struck teenager around Charles.

As he returned to the bedroom with the sandwich and a tall glass of orange squash, Charles was walking out of the bathroom rubbing one tired eye with his hand, climbing slowly back into the bed before he even realised Erik was standing there.

“Here, sorry I forgot to ask if you even like cheese and ham but I don’t have anything else in the fridge at the moment.”

He passed the tray of food to Charles and took the drink, placing it on the bedside table for him.

“This is fine, it’s lovely.  Thank you.” He smiled softly, taking the sandwich with both hands and parting his lips, before pausing, his eyes flicking up to Erik who was still standing there looking at him.  A realisation crossed Charles’ face and he smiled again, placing the sandwich back down on the plate. “I’m sorry, I suppose if I’m going to sleep for the rest of the day then you’d like your kiss now yes?”

That hadn’t been the reason Erik had been staring. He’d been staring because once again the expression on Charles’ face at the sight of this sandwich looked again like it was the most delicious food on the planet. Erik had only seen a microwave in Charles’ bedsit, he didn’t even see a fridge, or a stove, just a cupboard above the sink.  What food did Charles live on?

A charming if slightly corny idea came into his head at Charles’ question though. Erik mentally noted he’d been having a lot of those recently, it was most unlike him.

“Alright, I wouldn’t want to disturb you later on.”

Charles smiled softly, tilting his face upwards obediently, swallowing lightly as Erik bent down over him, hand clasping the headboard just like before. It felt like an age as their lips drew closer, something strange in the air, and Charles swallowed again, his breath hitching as he felt the warmth from Erik’s lips so close, a breath away, but just as his eyes fluttered closed Erik moved, the closing warmth gone from the lips and instead pressed to Charles’ forehead.  Charles opened his eyes in surprise, staring at Erik’s chin as Erik pressed a firm warm kiss to his forehead.

As Erik pulled back, pleasantly pleased with the totally dumbfounded look on Charles’ face, he simply explained that, “I would think you’ve had enough of people touching you today. That kiss will do just fine for me.”

Charles stared at him, and Erik was sure Charles was breathing just that little bit faster. Eventually Charles swallowed again and looked away, that blush definitely deeper now even if it hadn’t been before.  Every time Erik noticed that blush it felt like a small victory. It seemed he’d made Charles speechless, and Erik smiled warmly.

“Eat your sandwich and get some more sleep.” He ordered gently, before walking back towards the bedroom door.

“Erik!” Charles suddenly called out as Erik opened the door and turned around. “I…” Charles was definitely breathless, blue eyes startling against the red on his cheeks, “Thank you, for earlier I mean.” He said quietly, “You promised you wouldn’t leave me and you didn’t.  That means a lot to me, so…thank you.”

Erik smiled, that warmth returning to his chest, “You’re welcome.”

“But um…” Charles continued, “What you mentioned about the propranolol, about you paying for it, I can’t let you do that.”

Erik had been waiting for this, but he just shook his head, “We’ll have this argument another day Charles.” He replied half playfully, but it didn’t make Charles smile.

“I mean it.  You’d have to pay for these for the rest of my life, I can’t-“

“Then I guess we’ll be lifetime friends then.”

This sufficiently stopped Charles from talking, the words lingering in the air between them as Charles stared at him, a mixture of hope and hesitation on his face, once again speechless.

“You keep calling me your friend,” Erik said, “Let me be one.”


The rest of the day and evening were pretty uneventful.  Erik had deliberately kept the television off so as to not disturb Charles, and so decided to do a bit of catch up on his languages.  His hobby was learning languages, loved them, and a lot of the books he had were learning books, some containing CD disc’s to listen to.  He was currently working on his 7th language, Spanish, and had spent most of the day with his headphones in his ears listening to the disc and repeating the phrases.  It was also very handy in the banking business to be multilingual, he’d had the manager of the branch use him many times for foreign customers.

Erik hadn’t heard a thing from Charles all day, so when 7pm came he poked his head around the door.  Charles was asleep, but he could hear his laboured breathing from the doorway.  Quietly walking up to him Charles was once again in a cold sweat, forehead burning to the touch as Erik pressed his fingers lightly to it.  It looked like the fever had finally come to breaking point.  Erik wouldn’t disturb him for dinner, he probably wouldn’t be hungry with this fever anyway, and if he woke him up it would be hard for him to get back to sleep burning up like this.

So for the 2nd night Erik lay back on his sofa, head filled with both disturbing questions and pleasant memories of that soft blush.  Charles had stayed, Charles was here, and it didn’t matter if he spent the rest of his savings on him as long as Charles was happy, at least for a little while anyway.  Hank had said it was best for him to stay, to have a friend, and that was exactly what Erik was going to try and accomplish.


The next morning Erik awoke with the most humongous hard-on and the vague flittering memories of something to do with Charles, a jar of honey and a stripper pole. He felt mortified that he was like this when the object of his dream was only one room away, and had to mentally struggle (struggle oh god struggle) to will away his erection.  He’d done this before, had refused to give in, but maybe subconsciously knowing Charles was here was just making him that much harder. He wouldn’t touch himself, he couldn’t do it, not with Charles here, not in the shower, Charles would probably hear him, and certainly not here on the sofa, Charles could walk in at any moment.

Thinking of all possible not-attractive things, like the damn series of Spanish verbs he was trying to memorise last night, Erik eventually found he could move off the sofa and he headed straight for the fridge, taking out a bottle of milk and downing the cold liquid straight from the bottle, hoping the cold would drench out any remaining fire in his groin.

“Ah so you’re not perfect after all.”

Erik very nearly choked, pressing the back of his hand to his mouth to stop himself from coughing the milk everywhere, eyes turning swiftly to see Charles standing in the bedroom doorway, Erik’s white dressing gown wrapped back around him.  His hair was sticking to his forehead, but he looked a lot brighter than yesterday, complete with a smirk.  He nodded towards the bottle in Erik’s hand.

“Drinking from the bottle.” Charles elaborated, taking Erik’s stunned look as a look of confusion on what he’d done wrong, instead of what it really was which was a look of mild horror wondering just how long Charles had been standing there and if he’d seen anything else.

“Yes…habit of living alone I’m afraid.” Erik said as casually as possible, placing the milk back in the fridge, suddenly aware of how naked he was from his waist up, “I was just going to make some breakfast,” he said for a quick change of conversation, “Bacon and eggs on toast, want some?”

Charles seemed to smile extremely brightly at this before walking into the room, “Please! I haven’t had eggs and bacon since I was a child, and I’m very hungry this morning for some reason.”

“Probably because your fevers broke,” Erik said, opening the fridge again to get out the bacon and eggs, “At least I presume it has you certainly look better.”

Charles smiled again, “I do feel much better yes, thank you. Could I trouble you for a glass of water though?”

In response Erik opened the fridge door and took out an orange carton, “Orange juice.  You should get some vitamins back inside you.”

Charles couldn’t help the lopsided grin as Erik poured out the juice for him, Erik doing a double take at him when he saw his expression, “What?” he asked as he passed him the juice, Charles just smiling wider as he took the glass
“You do seem to like looking after me a lot.”

Was he really being that obvious? Erik had never had anyone he wanted to take care of before, not really, was he going overboard with it?  He thought about dusting the television screen yesterday and thought that yeah, he probably was.

He shrugged lightly, “I guess it’s just nice to have someone to take care of.”

Charles smiled at him softly, “Yes you’re very much an enigma.”

Erik raised his eyebrows, “Oh?”

Charles just smiled thoughtfully at him, before letting his eyes roam around the large room around them. “Well, you have a lovely home, keep it tidy, obviously have money to spare, a cook, apparently,” he grinned at the sizzling bacon now in the frying pan, “…you’re very good-looking…” he added, a little more quietly, meeting Erik’s gaze as Erik looked to him at that remark, “so how come no one’s snatched you up yet?”

They held that gaze for a moment, a lingering heart beat between them, before Erik looked back down at the frying pan, picking up two eggs.

“That would be a personality problem, so I’m told.”

What was that?

The way Charles was looking at him, the way he said that sentence, it was almost as though he was asking if he could be the one to snatch Erik up. He couldn’t explain it, and he must have certainly being imagining it. Erik had to remind himself, Charles was a Rent Boy. All these looks and blushes, he was paid to make people feel like this, even if Erik hadn’t specifically told him to act like that it still all must be an act.  He’d been doing it for so long maybe Charles didn’t know how to turn off his charm? Maybe he was permanently trying to please people in hope of more money, he surely couldn’t mean any of these things, he didn’t even trust him yet. Charles was here for money, not for conversation, he’d said that before.

A bitterness was rising in his throat, and then Erik realised just how hard being called a ‘client’ really had hit him.

“I haven’t seen anything wrong with your personality yet.”

Erik’s heart felt like it both slowed and fluttered at the same time.  Was Charles doing this deliberately? He turned to look at him, the kitchen filled with the mouth watering smell of bacon and eggs, and Charles was just standing there, glass clutched in his hands, smiling such an endearingly honest smile there was just no way, just no way it could be an act. Not from Charles.

“Thank you.” Erik said sincerely, his own small, strangely shy smile growing on his lips.

Charles had him so confused, was there hope here? Was there not? Would Charles ever grow to trust him enough to tell him about his past? How long could Erik keep him here? If Charles was feeling better already would he just leave?

“I’d like you to stay another night, please.” He said quickly, and yet Charles didn’t look surprised at the sentence at all.

“Another kiss?” Charles asked with a small smile. Erik nodded, his throat feeling oddly constricted. Charles grinned at him, “Breakfast first.”

And with that cheeky little demand Charles walked happily over to the table and sat down with his glass, Erik watching him in an amused exasperation and trying not to laugh.

“Oh, so you’re holding your kisses to ransom now are you?”

The amusement in Charles’ eyes, and his cheeky raised eyebrows as he looked at Erik over the bottom of his glass as he drunk, just made Erik feel like whisking him right out of that chair and kissing him until neither of them could breathe.


An hour later after breakfast Erik had mentioned to Charles that he really needed to go grocery shopping. He had offered for Charles to come with him, part of him hoping and praying he’d say yes (because even something as domestic as food shopping felt like something he still wanted to do with him), but Charles had declined.  On retrospect it was probably a very weird thing to ask a Rent Boy to come and do with him, and Charles had probably thought just that which would have been the reasoning for his decline.  Erik really needed to real himself in, he really was being too damn obvious, he didn’t want to scare Charles into thinking he was some creepy weirdo, he’d probably had enough of them in his life.

So, with that same risking trust between them, for Charles to stay and for Erik to return with more money (because he was going to need some to pay him now for another day), Erik left Charles alone, heading out into the local town for the supermarket and whatever clothes shops he came across. Erik had decided not to tell Charles he was going to buy him clothes, and just deal with him yelling at him when he got back home.  Charles needed to learn the difference between charity and a gift.

So after stocking up with his usual food, buying a few more luxury items than usual just thinking of having Charles try them and see if he liked them, Erik found himself standing in Burtons Menswear store looking at clothes he really didn’t think would be Charles’ style. This was the store he normally got his own clothes from, his business suits and his turtlenecks and other such clothing that would suit a man of his build.  For Charles though, it all seemed too… tailored, if that made sense. These were clothes that someone as cute as Charles just didn’t seem to fit in with.  As it was also nearing summer the summer stock was in, meaning a lot of well tailored hip-length short sleeve shirts were on display, fashionable tank tops and other such items that just didn’t seem to fit to Charles.  Erik also had Charles’ own interests at heart in wanting to find clothing that would actually keep him warm, being out on the streets so many nights, that thin looking cream top he was wearing before looking so pointless in keeping warmth in. With summer stock though it was going to be difficult to find something.

Giving up entirely in Burtons Erik tried the mens section in Next, nothing really there either, and only heading up the escalator in M&S did something that looked at least vaguely warm stand out amount everything else.  They were just cardigans, plain ones in varying deep colours, but they were the only items of clothing in all the stores everywhere that seemed to actually have something warm over the arms, not just cotton or sleeveless entirely.  Deciding this was the best match he collected an armful of them, having to guess at the size as he hadn’t told Charles what he was doing, while taking a few shirts and a nice looking sweater-vest too, and jeans and other trousers to keep him going. He hovered by the underwear section, wondering if it would be really awkward to buy Charles underwear too, but then if he was going to convince him to stay as long as possible he was going to need them, so grabbed just a plain packet of 6 and stood in the queue to the checkout.


As Erik pulled into the driveway he saw his neighbour Logan coming out of the front door next to his, the keys to his motorcycle between his teeth.

“Mornin’ Lehnsher.” He called, after dropping the keys into his hands.

“Logan.” Erik nodded polity as he got out of his car.

“Ya know I dunno who’ve got up there bub but they can sure play the piano.”

Erik paused while reaching for his shopping bags, heart seeming to also pause in beating, turning back to look at Logan as he mounted his motorcycle. Logan noticed this odd look and grinned at him, “Well either that or you got a very musical burglar up there.”

With the roar of the engine he backed out of the driveway and off into the road, leaving Erik standing there staring at the empty space left behind.

Was Charles playing on his piano?

Moving so fast he grabbed his shopping in one mad rush before fumbling for the keys to the front door, pushing it open fast, dumping the shopping on the floor and then stopping, pausing.


It was there, seeping through the door at the top of the stairs. It was a quiet tune, gentle keys, gentle notes, and leaving his shopping forgotten on the floor Erik slowly climbed the stairs, following the tune as though it was hypnotising. His breathing had slowed, as though worrying if he breathed too loud he would miss a note of the music.  As he reached the top of the stairs he very quietly pushed open the door, opening to the lounge beyond. 

And there Charles was, sitting at the piano, his fingers dancing softly across the keys as this somewhat…sad tune, echoed throughout the room. It was a simple tune, but that didn’t make it any less beautiful, or maybe that was just Charles, lost in the music with his eyes closed, not even needing to look at the keys he was playing, just following his memory, following the feel of the basswood beneath his fingers.  Erik didn’t recognise the tune, but it made him feel like remembering memories past forgotten, of innocent times long since gone, and the music suited Charles so well Erik could do nothing but stand there, listening, watching, never wanting him to stop, just letting him stay there lost in his distant memories.

Surely this was too much of a coincidence, to have found someone who played the piano, after only thinking about what would make his ideal man only a few days ago. To have already fallen for him, to now be falling for him even more at seeing him like this, to have found someone in the darkest of lives who could play with such angelic moves, as though filtering their own soul through the notes. To touch the keys with such reverence even as the music reached a crescendo and neared its end, even as the last remaining keys were played and the piano went silent Charles still remained with his eyes closed, the pads of his fingers slowly ghosting over the silent keys, as though he were stroking a loving pet that he hadn’t seen in a very long time.

The swell of both love and now respect for this man grew in Erik’s chest until it felt like it was going to overwhelm him, and with his breath struggling to escape his lungs he asked, “What’s that piece called?”

Charles literally jumped on the piano stool and spun around to Erik, eyes wide in shock to see him standing there, “I-I-I’m sorry! I shouldn’t have touched it, it wasn’t my place I’m sorry I just-“

“What’s the piece called?” Erik asked again, slowly walking over to him, not taking his eyes off him for a second.

“Um,” Charles squirmed in his seat under that stare as Erik walked beside him, “Return of the Heart. It was…” he paused, expression somehow falling blank as he looked away back at the keys, resting his palms back across them gently, lips turning into a sad, yet fond smile, “My sister, Raven…she used to tease me for listening to the classical radio stations, would always say I was turning into an old fart even at 12 years old.” His smile grew fonder at the memory, but only briefly, that sadness still etched on his face, “But there was one piano piece that even she fell in love with.  So I learnt how to play it, just for her.  She used to dance to it, float around the hall where I used to play. She said she always loved to hear me play it rather than listen to it on the radio now, it felt more personal, like a gift every time I would play for her.” He paused in memory, smiling, “Heh,” he looked back up at Erik, “She couldn’t get away with calling me an old fart after that.”

And then Erik was kissing him.

Charles barely had time to widen his eyes in surprise as he felt Erik’s long fingers tilt his chin upwards, bending down to capture those red lips so softly, as though he were playing them like Charles’ touch to the piano beside them.  The kiss was so warm, so fulfilling, so full of something Charles didn’t understand, but Erik did. Erik knew, beyond a doubt now, that the feelings he’d been having for Charles were just a prelude to this, this overwhelming sense of devotion, this love, this need to hold Charles in his arms.  Nothing he’d felt for Charles over these last few days felt like this, it was like the entire world around them had melted, leaving just the two of them, just the soft, slow, lazy tongues moving against one another, the massaging of the lips Erik never wanted to stop kissing, to give Charles everything, every possible thing he could ever want and to keep him happy and smiling, and god, to give him his sister back, anything to take away the shine of tears in those eyes as he’d talked about her.

Erik physically needed Charles to trust him, to accept him, to make him understand just how much he wanted to be there for him.  Charles was perfect, no matter what had happened to him in the past, he was perfect, and Erik wished Charles could see that about himself.  The suffering that emanated from this soul, the terrible history that seemed to lay just out of reach behind those sapphire eyes, Erik wanted to be the one to take it all away, to heal him, to love him!

As though disobeying every urge in his body Erik slowly broke the kiss, sucking gently on Charles’ lower lip as he did.  As Erik opened his eyes he saw he’d left Charles’ breathless yet again, a dusting of pink across his cheeks, and of all the times for him to realise it Erik knew these expressions from Charles had to be real, not Rent Boy fake, because it was impossible to fake a blush.

“Would you play it again? For me this time?”

Charles blinked up at him, taking in a shaky breath at their closeness, before apparently not trusting himself to speak as he just nodded, a small “Mm hm.” escaping him as he turned, still flushed, back to looking at the keys.

His chest still swelling with affection Erik took a few steps away before quickly turning back around, “Wait.” He said, Charles pausing just above the keys he was about to play, turning to look over his shoulder, “By any chance, do you play chess?”

Charles frowned a little at the odd question, but nodded slowly, “Yes, I used to play it all the time when I was younger.”

It took all of Erik’s willpower not to pounce on him there and then. Instead he just smiled, grinned, laughed, looking away and trying to contain himself as Charles just stared at him oddly.  Turning back to him Erik just waved his laughter off, “Sorry, I….would you like a game of it after lunch?”

Seeing Erik so strangely happy was kind of contagious, and Charles felt a grin of his own forming on his lips for no reason at all, “I’d love to.”

They smiled at each other for a moment, before Erik gestured to the piano, “Please.” He asked, Charles giving him one last amused and charming smile before turning back to the keys, Erik hurrying back down the stairs to get his forgotten shopping.

Erik had to find it amusing on how the ability to play the piano and play chess had such an emotional and physical response from him. He guessed he just had some strange turn ons, but so far Charles was fulfilling every one of them.


Charles played the piano the entire time Erik was unpacking the food and making lunch. Erik found himself just closing his eyes at times and listening, for suddenly this simple tender tune had become his most favourite piece. 
Charles only stopped for the lunch Erik had made, and Erik had decided that to try and ease Charles into trusting him to telling him about his past that he might as well tell Charles about his own. It certainly wasn’t going to be as heartbreaking as he felt Charles’ was going to be, but still, as they ate he told him about his working family life in Germany, about his father dying in the mining accident, moving to England, his school life, pretty much everything until now.  He was worried he might be boring him, but Charles was listening with rapt attention, slowly eating his lunch as he watched Erik’s mouth movements, taking in every sentence, looking horrified and sad at what happened to his father, smiling happily at the new life he’d gained by coming here, even laughing at the time Erik had been 14 and had gained an embarrassing crush on one of the young male teachers at the school, embarrassing because Erik would recount the amount of times the teacher had asked him a question in class and he’d just stare blankly back at him, having no idea what the question was because he’d been imagining entirely different non-educational things while looking at him.

This really had made Charles truly laugh, and Erik enjoyed seeing it so much he continued to tell him embarrassing tales of his childhood as they began their chess game. Erik kept his chess set in a cupboard as he never had anyone to play it with, aside from his mother, so setting it up on the table they’d just used for lunch Erik resumed his embarrassing tales much to Charles amusement. Not that there were that many, because in reality he’d been the stone-faced German boy who barely spoke to anyone and whose only real friend was an American girl he’d bonded with when he first got here, Moira, because she had been new to the country too and the two of them had kind of stuck together. These days she’d become a detective with the local police.

As they played and talked Erik could honestly say he’d never felt this…relaxed, at ease, and still finding himself becoming more attracted to Charles by the second he was sure.  The way he would squeeze his lips together as he thought about his next move, the way his forehead would crease in concentration before his eyes would sparkle at the move in his mind, those piano-playing fingers picking up his chosen piece and, as it was becoming painfully obvious Erik was losing, knocking one of Erik’s pieces off the board with a satisfied grin.  Erik was pretty sure he was losing because he was the one doing all the talking, that and of course the distraction that was the blue eyed man sitting across from him, still wrapped up in that dressing gown but sitting with his legs crossed and a smug little smirk on his face like he owned the place, or at least owned the chess game.

“You know I think Moira would like you, you both plan ahead to an insane degree.” Erik said, looking over the board deciding on his move, picking up his last remaining black Rook.

Charles smiled warmly, “Perhaps us Americans are just better at strategising these days.”

A small silence filled the area as Erik slowly looked back up at him. Did he just hear that right?  Charles was looking almost sheepish, as though not sure whether he was happy in revealing that piece of information or not, and he smiled awkwardly.

“I know, I don’t sound like it do I? I used to live New York.  My mother was British but…I never really got to see much of her. She did however insist on only hiring British servants, which I suspect is where I got my accent from. I saw more of them then I did her.”

Erik’s mind was a mixture of joy at hearing another piece of information given willingly about Charles’ past, and shock at both hearing this incredibly well spoken Englishman was in fact American and had…

“You had servants?”

Charles nodded, but seemed to sink further into his chair, “The life I live now is extremely different to the one I had as a child. Extremely so.”

“So how come you moved to Eng-?” Erik didn’t even get to finish his sentence before he regretted those words.

A split seconds worth of fear flashed across Charles’ face, Charles doing his best to hide it but it shining through anyway. Charles realised it had been obvious, and with a quick clearing of his throat he stood up, “I’m just going to…use the bathroom.”

With that he walked a little too fast across the lounge and through the bedroom door, leaving Erik alone with a single chess piece in his hand. Erik felt like swearing, so he did, quietly under his breath.  Things had been going so well, he had to ask something didn’t he? Charles had been opening up to him, even if it was just a little thing that spoke of no reason of how he came to be here living this life, but it was a start, and now he’d chased him off.

It was almost 10 minutes before Charles came back into the room.  He had a smile back on his face, even if it did look a little forced…and there was a definite redness to his eyes. Erik knew better than to say anything, just watched as sat back down, wrapping the dressing gown back around himself.

“So,” Charles said, throwing him another quick, and still forced, smile, “Your move.” He gestured with his head to the chess piece still in Erik’s hands.  Erik wanted to apologise, but doing so would acknowledge that he’d said something wrong to Charles, and as Charles seemed to be pretending nothing had happened…

Erik looked back down at the board, pausing, before saying; “I can’t remember where I picked this up from now.”

A small giggle escaped Charles, a proper one, and Erik smiled to himself, “Shall we start again then?” Charles asked, and it felt that somehow he was referring to more than just the chess game.

“Good idea.”

Clearing the board Erik reset the pieces, knowing exactly where that Rook had come from.


Having both been deprived of their favourite game for so long Erik and Charles ended up playing right through the afternoon and evening.  Having run out of things to talk about in Erik’s own life they’d turn to matters of the news.  It seemed Charles kept up with the news when he could, bought a newspaper every now and then as they didn’t cost much, and Erik discovered another checkbox he could tick off on his list of a perfect partner, intelligent conversation. Although Charles admitted he didn’t know much about the politics here, he still had his points of view, and he talked with Erik about them for ages, Erik arguing his own views in return, and Erik couldn’t believe he was sitting here playing chess having a political conversation and not causing the other person to be bored to death.  It was too perfect to be true, Charles really was too perfect to be true.

But by 9.30pm Charles was yawning into his hand, eyelids drooping, and Erik reminded himself Charles was still recovering from that fever, so after a few final moves when he called Checkmate on Charles’s King, Erik smiled.

“How about we call that a night? You look like you could fall asleep any second.”

Charles stretched his arms above his head before yawning into his hand again, “I do rather feel like that, I guess recovering from being ill catches up with you just when you think you’re feeling better.”

“Just as long as it’s not me boring you.” Erik said jokingly as he packed up the board and pieces, and Charles smiled at him.

“Oh not at all, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed today. In fact you spoil me.”

As Erik turned to put the chessboard away he noticed the two bags of clothes still sitting on the floor in the kitchen, and smirked to himself. “Well in that case,” he said, opening the cupboard underneath one of the book cases to put the chessboard back home, “I still have something else to spoil you with.” Charles blinked at him curiously as Erik walked to pick up the bags in the kitchen, placing them on the table in front of Charles. “New clothes for you, I bought them earlier today.”

Charles stared at him incredulously, mouth ajar, before standing from his chair and looking into the bags.


“Before you say anything about not being a charity these are a gift.” Erik quickly said, sensing the frown appearing on Charles’ face, “I like you Charles,” he said quietly, wanting to say something a lot stronger than that “you’re a good person, it doesn’t matter what you do for a living you can’t change who you are. I wanted to get these for you, so please, just accept them as gift, because that’s what they are.”

Charles picked up the clothes, handling the soft fabrics through his fingers, before staring up at Erik again with his lips opening and closing lightly, wanting to speak but apparently at a loss for words.

“I want to thank you,” Charles said eventually, quietly, looking at the clothes before capturing Erik’s gaze again, “but I also want to strangle you.”

Erik took that as a good sign and smiled widely at him, “I’ll take the thank you then if there’s a choice.”

Charles huffed a laugh through his nose and tried not to smile, but failed, a wide smile appearing to match Erik’s. “I don’t think I’m ever going to understand you.” He said, but Erik just shrugged humorously.

“Call it part of my mystical charm.”

Charles burst into laughter.


A little while later Erik came out of the bathroom, pyjama bottoms back on, and was about to head out the bedroom door to give Charles his privacy for the night when he stopped suddenly.  Charles was standing in the doorframe in the dark, overly large sleepwear hanging off his frame, looking across at Erik with an expression Erik couldn’t quite place.  All he knew was that it had his heart skipping a beat again.

Slowly and quietly Charles walked towards him, “I just wanted to thank you again.” He said softly, the only sound in the air, “I know I seem to be thanking you a lot lately, but I mean it.” He slowly raised one hand, his eyes lowering to his fingers as he touched the skin across Erik’s collarbone, Erik’s breath suddenly stilling in his chest as Charles ran his fingertips across it, “I’ve never met anyone like you, you treat me like a human being, no one ever does that.” He flickered his eyes to the bed, then back up at Erik, “I know you’ve already kissed me today but…”

Attentively, questioningly, eyes pleading for permission as they drew closer, Charles placed his hand flat against that bare-chest as he pressed his lips to Erik’s.  Erik’s eyes immediately fluttered closed. It was the most innocent kiss, no tongue, just dry lips, soft and warm as they pressed gently against his own.  He was sure Charles must be able to feel his heart racing under his palm, but all too swiftly it was over, Charles pulling back, a shy look to his eyes and to his smile.

“That was another freebie.” He said quietly, almost a whisper, and with another quick shy smile and a lingering gaze he stepped past Erik towards bed, letting his hand fall from Erik’s chest and brush across the toned skin as he walked away.

Erik could feel himself take a shaky breath as that hand moved across his chest, but didn’t turn.  He remained staring through the doorframe to the lounge, the rustling of the duvet behind him where Charles climbed into the bed.
A small yet extremely happy smile grew on his lips, “Goodnight Charles.” He said softly, and somewhere behind him on the bed Charles replied.

“Goodnight Erik.”

Without turning to look back Erik walked through the bedroom door, shutting it gently behind him, his heart racing madly in his chest.  Out of everything that had happened today, out of the piano, the chess, the conversations, Charles’ laugh, even the kiss at the piano that Erik felt nothing could top, this kiss did.

The most simple, plain kiss, but it was the best because it had been Charles to make the move.

To Be Continued…  

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

Erik was up bright and early this Sunday morning, and in such a light headed and happy mood too.  It felt odd to be so content, but then he’d never really had anything to be in high spirits about before, in his so far rather mundane lifestyle.  Most Sundays he spent at the gym, long hard workouts through the morning and early afternoon, before stopping off for a quick lunch in the library café round the corner, wandering around the library for a while checking for any more interesting books to read, before heading back home.  Today though the gym and the library were far from his mind, and all he could think about was what kind of activities he and Charles would share today.  He hoped for more chess, but also perhaps to watch a film or something on the television.  There wasn’t a TV in Charles’ bedsit, he wondered if he’d ever had one, so having him curling up on the sofa to relax (or curled up next to Erik) would probably be a good break for him. Or, perhaps they could go to that little café, sit and have lunch together in the sun outside, and maybe go to the cinema to watch a film instead of being stuck in the house all day? They could share popcorn, their hands meeting in the box as they’d both go to grab pieces at the same time…
Erik was completely lost in little date fantasies as he poured himself a strong coffee, Charles still in the bedroom, and just as the phone began to ring on the wall.
Walking over and taking it off the wall jack, he pressed the button to have it on speaker and left it on one of the counters so he could have his hands free to cook breakfast.  He seemed to be doing a lot of cooking recently, bigger meals, subconsciously trying to get Charles to eat as much as possible while he was here.
“Hello?” he answered with a warm smile on his lips, having just thought that he could make scrambled eggs and on toast and bring it in to Charles for breakfast.  Breakfast in bed, just like his very first innocent little fantasy after they’d had sex that first time.
Erik was determined to call it the “first” time, because he really wanted there to be another, just…not in the same circumstances.
“God you sound far too happy, what’s wrong with you?”
The American-twanged words of Moira McTaggart just made the smile on Erik’s face break into a grin as he placed the bread into the toaster, his heart feeling ridiculously light and so un-like his usual self.
“I only said hello.”
 “Exactly. It’s usually ‘what?’” Moira put on a deeper grumpier tone for the last word, Erik shaking his head lightly in amusement.  She had a point, he did normally answer the phone with a ‘what?’.
“So what’s wrong with you?” she asked.
“Nothing’s wrong with me Moira. What do you want?”
“Ah so you are in there Erik! Just catching you before you head off to the gym, where’d you fancy going this evening?”
Erik frowned, “Going?”
“Yes, going.” A pause, “Oh Erik don’t tell me you’ve forgotten? Not that it matters, you’re never doing anything anyway.  It’s the end of the month remember? You know, we go for a drink, catch up on life, and, if possible, perhaps find someone who can stand to be near you for more than a day.”
He could hear the smirk in her voice, and almost rolled his eyes.  Ever since they were children she’d always tried to include him in with the friends she’d made, her parties, anything that involved actually socialising with other human beings.  Being American the British kids had loved her, thinking her cool and interesting and it didn’t take long for her to have her own group of friends.  She had befriended Erik when they’d both arrived as they were both outcasts in the new school and the new country, but unfortunately it was that, unlike Moira, who became an eventual magnet for friends, Erik seemed to repeal them.  He liked to be left alone, to study alone, to get good grades and make his mother happy. His mother being happy was all he cared about, he didn’t have time for nor need friends, Moira was enough. Boy was she enough.
The other kids would either tease him behind his back or ignore him completely, and would always question Moira as to why she bothered with the boring brooding German boy.  But to her credit Moira would always stand up for Erik, even as small 11 year old kids she’d tell the others to back off, that Erik was nice, and that just because he didn’t speak very much didn’t suggest that everyone else should be mean to him.
Of course he didn’t need her protection for long, for when a group boys had taunted him after school one day, cornered him in an empty class room throwing insults about his dead father before raising their fists to hit him to get some kind of reaction out of the emotionless boy, Erik out of pure instinct had blocked the punch, and instead landed one right across the boys cheek, doing the same to the others as they’d tried to attack him in turn, and ended up beating the four boys rather badly.
He’d been suspended from school for that (only suspended because the school had at least listened to his reasoning’s behind the incident), and at least when he’d returned there was such a sense of fear from the other children about him that every single one of them now really did ignore him entirely, didn’t even dare to bad mouth him behind his back like they’d been doing.  Erik liked this, liked being alone, or at least when Moira wasn’t telling him there was really something wrong with him for enjoying the fear from the others, before punching him playfully in the arm and telling him to come round her house for slumber party with some of the kids from the class.
Erik had almost punched her back for real that time, she just really didn’t get it.
Still, annoying optimism aside, she’d become an extremely good and loyal friend, his only friend, throughout his entire childhood and teenager years. They’d even tried dating as teenagers before it had become painfully obvious Erik really was not interested, and not just in Moira but in anyone with breasts.  Erik had always had a sneaking suspicion she’d known he was gay even before Erik did, but had played along with his experimenting anyway, finding it amusing to watch her friend struggle to convince himself he liked looking at Moira in their class and not at the cute blond male teacher bending over his desk to collect some papers that had dropped to the floor.
To everyone but Moira Erik was the hard-faced German boy who never spoke unless spoken to, whose natural talent with numbers and education in general made him seem like he never actually studied and yet still somehow managed to ace every single test, and whom no one dared approach in fear of getting their faces smashed in.
Ever since then Erik and Moira had remained friends, even after she got married, and had now somehow got it into her head that it was up to her to find a companion for Erik, because without her help he’d never even leave the house let alone speak to another human being.  So now at the end of each month they’d get together for a drink to catch up as best friends, and to “check out the local tail” as she liked to phrase it, in whatever pub or bar they ended up in. It always made Erik feel so crass, but he at least enjoyed her company, when she wasn’t pointing at every good-looking guy who happened to walk past them that is.
Today though, he’d completely forgotten it was the last day of the month, and with Charles here he certainly did not want to meet up with Moira.  How would he even explain to Moira what Charles was doing here? He had to think of an excuse.
The only problem was Moira was right, he never had anything planned.
“Sorry Moira, not this month, I have…plans.”
Well that was inventive.  Why was it you can never think of an excuse for things when put on the spot, and only much later do you think of the perfect thing to say when it’s too late?
“You never have plans, that’s your problem. So unless you’re dying of some incurable disease you’ve never told me about you have no excuse not to come with me.  I was thinking The Barrow and Spade pub, we haven’t been there for a while.”
“I’m…my mother’s coming round.”
“Nice try, she has her book club on Sundays. Next excuse?”
After graduating college Moira had become a detective in the police force, which meant her skills in truth finding were exceptionally good, which also meant coming up with an excuse that she’d actually believe was extremely difficult. He knew she meant well, if not for her Erik wouldn’t have been in that relationship 6 years ago, but at the same time, her persistence could be…infuriating.
He supposed it’s what made her a good detective.
“Look Moira I have….” …the love of my life in my house right now but I’ve only known him for a few days and by the way he’s a rent boy and we had extremely wild hard sex only a few minutes after meeting…. “….I just can’t, sorry, can we go out another day? And anyway doesn’t your husband ever worry that his wife goes out to dinner with another man every month?”
Good, change the subject, give him more to time think.
“He probably would if you hadn’t made a pass at him that time, and don’t change the subject.”
“I did not make a pass at him.”
You groped him on the ass! I was standing right there!” she laughed heartily into the phone.
Erik glared at it.
“I was drunk.”
“You’d had one beer! I know you drunk Erik and that was not drunk. It was just hilarious. I should thank you really, him cowering behind me to protect him from you I guess is what brought us together.”
A faded Scottish voice sounded somewhere on Moira’s end, “I was not cowering!”

Erik chuckled to himself as Moira shushed her husband affectionately, just as Charles walked through the bedroom door.
“Erik does this look alright? It doesn’t look too, I don’t know…baggy, does it?”
Erik paused in mid buttering of toast as Charles walked into view, dressed in some of the clothes he’d bought him yesterday.  He wore a pair of dark grey slacks, which although fit him at the waist were rather too long and crumpled at the ankles, a plain white shirt and a dark blue cardigan over the top, which yes, was a little too big on him, but then Erik had only guessed at the sizes.  Charles pulled the too-big cardigan around himself and tucked his hands under his arms, keeping them across his chest as he smiled meekly over at Erik.  Somehow the dark blue made the brightness of his eyes stand out even more, and he obviously hadn’t brushed his hair yet as the bed-head look was still going strong.
He looked utterly adorable.
“No it looks…fine.” Erik breathed slowly, almost breathlessly, taking in the image as Charles smiled just that little bit brighter at him.  Erik was glad he’d picked out the cardigans, they suited him so well, he knew they would.
Suddenly there was a small cough from the phone to break the silence “So this is why you’re so happy. Are you going to introduce me Erik?”
How had this happened? How was it he was now meeting Moira for a drink later and bringing Charles along with him?  Why had the words “He’s my boyfriend” tumbled from his lips in a panic hoping she’d take it as a hint to leave them alone, when all it had done it make her cheer in delight and want to meet him.  Why had Charles, in all his honesty, smiled and said towards the phone; “I’d love to meet you.” knowing he’d have to pretend to be Erik’s boyfriend for the evening?
And on top of that he never got to give Charles his breakfast in bed, as he was now standing here dressed and happy that he was going to get to meet the woman Erik had talked about so much yesterday, seemingly un-phased by the “You’re going to have to pretend to be my boyfriend, isn’t that going to be a problem?” part of the situation.
Because apparently it wasn’t a problem, not if the small shake of head and smile were anything to go by.
This now gave Erik many more fantasies to deal with, innocent things, like holding hands.  If they were supposed to be together then holding hands would be the normal thing to do right? He’d get to hold hands, just…hold hands, with Charles.
The smile on his face was far too big for such a simple thing.
“Erik, I was wondering, exactly…how long do you want me to stay here?”
They’d just finished breakfast at the table and Charles was sitting there clasping his cup of tea, watching Erik as he loaded the dishwasher. Erik had been dreading this question, because no matter how many variations of the answer he came up with in his head they all ended up sounding something like “forever, just stay and never leave” which was hardly the most sensible and non-creeper thing to say to someone still learning to trust.  One day he would tell him how he felt, one day he would ask for him to stay, but when Charles was ready, which was definitely not now.
Erik closed the dishwasher and stood up, leaning back against it, “Well,” he began, choosing his words, “as I said before I want you to think of this as like a little mini holiday, to take a break and relax, which I think you did rather well yesterday.” He smiled, receiving a bashful smile in return as Charles smiled down at his tea, remembering the chess games they’d played yesterday on this very table, “And while I have the money to give to you I’d like you to stay, so for a while yet. If…if that’s okay with you.” Charles looked back up at him, an unreadable expression on his face. Erik had left the money he owed him in the bag of clothes, Charles having found it this morning.  Somehow it was a painful reality reminder that no matter what pleasantries were shared between them, Erik was paying for them, “If you really want to go, now or at anytime,” Erik gestured to the door leading down the stairs, “then the door’s right there.  Even when locked it unlocks from the inside using a catch not a key, so you can always leave at any time. If you really want to.”  Charles’ eyes dropped back to his tea, “I’d like you to stay though, at least for a little while longer. I know you still have trust issues, and although I wish you would talk to me about your past I understand why you won’t, it’s just……I enjoy your company Charles.” Erik said gently, walking back over to the table and sitting down, facing Charles as he continued to look down at his steaming tea, “It’s why I’m doing all this, you deserve better than the life you’ve been thrown in to, and I want to give this all to you even if it’s just for a short while. As I said I like you Charles…” he paused, his hand resting on the table, fingertips close to the cup and Charles’ fingers around it, “…I like you being here.”
Charles took in a deep breath through his nose, the steam swirling as he exhaled, and for a moment Erik thought he’d said something wrong, gone too far, but then a small smile began to creep onto Charles’ lips, a small one that grew to a smile that was trying not to laugh. 
Charles’ amused eyes finally looked up at him, “You know a simple ‘a few more days’ would have sufficed.  I only wanted to know because if it was longer than today I would like to go back home to collect those GCSE books on my desk, so I can study them here as I’ve fallen behind now.”
“Oh.” Erik said stupidly, “Um, yes, a few more days then.” Well, at least his little speech had made Charles smile, “Do you want to go now? I’ll drive you there if you like?”
“Well I was just going to walk but…”
Erik smiled at him, “I’m not doing anything today except spending it with you. I’ll drive you back.”
Charles hid his appreciative and timid smile behind his cup as he drank his tea.
The run down estate Charles lived in seemed like a different place by day.  A small Sunday market has set itself up in the street, fruit and vegetable sellers shouting out their various discounts to tempt the walkers by.  The boarded up shop was actually open, a workman measuring the size of the glass frames in preparation for replacing the panes.  Erik found a parking space near the one he parked in before and switched off the engine.
“Shall I stay here or, come up with you?”
Charles shook his head as he unclipped his seatbelt, “No, stay here please, I won’t be long.” Charles smiled quickly, before opening the door and closing it gently behind him, disappearing down the alleyway that led out to the garages and the bedsit building nearby.
And so Erik sat, watching the people as they went about their Sunday business, realising that if Charles really had been living like this for 10 years, since he was 16, then perhaps he never got a chance to get the education every other kid had at that age, and that catching up was the reasoning behind these textbooks he studied.  Somehow, despite the sadness that held to that, it also made him feel…proud of Charles, because it proved that no matter how far in the underworld he was, he was still doing his best to climb himself up and out of it.
Erik sat there with a small pleased smile on his face, and waited.
Charles grabbed the books and pads of paper from his desk, the single door key held between his middle and forefinger, hooking open the door with his foot to leave when he sucked in a small breath in surprise and dropped everything he was holding at the person standing outside his door.
“S-Shaw!” he stuttered in surprise, a far too friendly smile forming on Shaw’s lips before he walked into the bedsit uninvited, shoving the books out of the way with his foot and forcing Charles to move back into the room before closing the door behind him.
“Charles,” he said lightly, that same eerily friendly smile on his face, “I’ve been wondering where you were, I was worried.  I thought perhaps you’d, run off. Perhaps shacked yourself up with a customer of yours. Heh, but then that would be the last thing you would do, wouldn’t it?”
Shaw reached out, tracing one finger down the side of Charles’ face, which remained perfectly still.  Suddenly the relaxation on his features that had grown staying at Erik’s house seemed to vanish, replaced by a tension that kept his jaw clenched tight and his eyes refusing to move from their hard stare at Shaw’s eyes.  The tingling sensation left on his skin from Shaw’s finger felt like it was cutting through him like acid.
“I presume it’s the usual you want?” Charles asked very quietly, his voice void of emotion as he stared almost challengingly into Shaw’s cold hazel eyes. Shaw just smiled at him again, before glancing down at the mess on the floor.
“Actually I’m running late, so just a blow job today, but uh, before that I wanted to ask.” He idly picked up a pencil from the desk, looked it over casually before putting back down, “Emma tells me of a man who came to collect your pills the other day, a man who managed to knock out Azazel and threaten dear Emma.” His eyes fell back to Charles, a quick smile appearing, “Would you like to tell me about that?”
Charles stood there, breath lost in his chest, panic rising, “He was just a customer. I was shaking so badly it was pissing him off as he tried to fuck me, so he said he’d go and collect the pills for me.”
“I see, well wasn’t that nice.” Shaw replied casually, before raising his arm and picking at the seam of Charles’ cardigan, “These are new.” He stated, and Charles swallowed.
“Y-yes, I’ve been saving up money to buy them.”
“So you had enough money to buy new clothes, which you didn’t actually need, and instead had to find someone else to collect and pay for your pills? Someone who threatened my people, someone who came to the door rather than through me?”
Charles couldn’t help but take a small step back away from Shaw, Shaw’s hand left in mid air where it had been fiddling with one of the buttons on the cardigan, “I’m sorry for what he did.” Charles said, anxiety evident on his voice, “I never thought he would do anything like that, I-I think he thought he was just trying to help me, I didn’t know that-“
You NEVER send people to the door Charles!
Charles flinched at the raised voice but didn’t move when Shaw took a fast step towards him to re-close the gap, grabbing Charles’ chin between his fingers and forcing him harshly to look up at him, squeezing his chin tightly in his hand, fingers digging into his cheeks, “Why do you think Azazel always asks if you’re alone hmm? The public does not go to the door, they go to me, they go to Hellfire, and then I send them to Emma. You knew this, yet you chose to risk everything I have worked for, for your own selfish little need.” He pulled his chin up higher, Charles forced to rise onto his toes, “So you’re going to have to get over your fear of Doctors Charles,” Shaw whispered to his lips, his breath hot and unwelcome against them “because I quite agree with Emma when she says she is not going to risk our men on your behalf, not when this is how you repay the kindness we have shown you over these years.”
“I’m shorry.” Charles’ speech was impaired at just how tight Shaw was holding his face in his hand, so after a few moments as Shaw stared darkly at him, he let him go, Charles’ hands immediately coming to his cheeks to rub at the fingernail marks there.
“This man that paid for you,” Shaw began again, standing between Charles and the door, “He must have thought you were worth it, but I think you should be reminded of something Charles.”
Before Charles could react Shaw now suddenly grabbed the back of his head, pulling his hair hard causing him to yelp in pain as he was pushed downwards to his knees. Shaw leant down over him like a master to a slave, pulling his hair back harder, forcing Charles’ face up to his own. Charles’ eyes and teeth were shut tight in the pain, his eyes only squinting open at the sound of Shaw’s voice and that hot breath again on his face, “One day you will lose your looks Charles, and when you do no one is going to want to fuck you, not people on the street, and certainly not me. And when that happens, you will be back on the street again, alone, and eventually dead.” Charles struggled in his grasp, short sharp sounds of pain escaping his clenched teeth, “Emma, Azazel and I, we are you’re only friends in this world, if not for us, if not for me,” he pulled his hair hard again, Charles shutting his eyes again, tear droplets forming at the corners, “you would be dead a long time ago.  You need to remember who you owe your life to, if not, then you have a choice of either the streets or prison. Though I suspect whichever one you end up in you’ll still get fucked.” A cold laugh left his lips as those tears finally fell from Charles’s eyes, spluttering in the pain. “Our little agreement, me fucking you whenever I want, stays, but as for your pills, I couldn’t care less. I really don’t care how much you’re shaking when I fuck you as long as you lay there and be quiet.”
He finally let go of his hair with a sharp pull backwards, Charles crying out again as his hands flew to his head to press hard against his scalp, bent over where he knelt on the floor. Shaw stood up straight, straightening the tie he was wearing, before looking down at the suffering Charles with a look of utter contempt.
“Now, you’re already on your knees, so do your job.” He said, unbuckling his belt, “And hurry up about it, I’m running even further late now.”
Erik looked at his watch and frowned.  Charles was taking a rather long time, wasn’t he just collecting his books?  Worried that perhaps Charles had changed his mind and was staying there, locked up in his bedsit so Erik couldn’t get in, Erik was about to open his door when the passenger door opened and Charles sat down on the seat, tucking his books down by his feet and shutting the door.
Erik was smiling at him as he sat down, but the smile soon faded when he saw the haunted look on Charles’ face, “Charles?” he asked quietly, “Are you alright?”
Charles turned to face him, far too quickly, a sudden bright smile on his face, “I’m fine.” he said, voice a little raspier than normal, and he obviously noticed because he coughed into his hand quickly, still smiling, “Sorry that took a little longer then I thought, I…couldn’t find some of the books.”
Erik stared at him suspiciously, Charles’ smile faltering and then growing again, before Erik tore his gaze away back to the steering wheel and to the set of keys he was placing into their slot.
“That’s okay.” He said warily, “Glad you’ve got everything now.”
He couldn’t find some of the books?  Erik frowned again as he pulled away back into the street and back towards home. Where could they possibly have been? The bedsit was half empty, over half empty, there was nowhere to lose any books in the first place.
However, not knowing what else could possibly have happened in that short time, Erik filed the thought away, adding it to the many others to ask Charles about when he was ready, glancing out the corner of his eye at just how hurriedly Charles lit up a cigarette he’d pulled out of a packet in his pocket, breathing in the smoke like it was the most delicious taste on the planet.
Whatever strange aura Erik had been getting from Charles was gone by the time he’d finished the cigarette, and after a couple more games of chess, Charles winning and losing one, he was back to his relaxed state that he was in yesterday.  They’d shared a large box of chocolates as they played, Erik letting Charles eat the majority of them, a look of absolute bliss on his face at the taste.
“I don’t buy myself chocolate very often.  Which is a shame, because I love it.” He’d chuckled lightly, popping one of the Thorntons Selection pieces into his mouth, that pink tongue licking at those red lips to make sure no bit of chocolate was wasted.
It was the game they played eating the chocolate that Erik lost, he kept on getting distracted by that tongue.
By the time 6 o’clock came around and Erik had said, rather nervously, that it was time to go and meet Moira, Charles had rushed into the bedroom saying he wanted to change into the sweater-vest Erik had bought him, the one that was a similar colour blue to the cardigan he was wearing.  He’d never had to dress up to go out, and even as Erik called through the door that it was only the local pub and nothing special, Charles had called back with a grin shining through his voice, “Don’t ruin this for me Erik.”
When Charles had stepped out of the door, Erik mentally congratulated himself for having a fabulous taste in clothes that would suit Charles.  That one change of clothing made him look just like he’d been plucked out of the upbringing he’d told him about, so smart and adorable, and classy and adorable, and elegant and adorable, and Erik really needed to work on widening his vocabulary. Charles had brushed his hair now, tidy flops of fluffy hair to contrast with the open top button on the shirt, showing just that little extra patch of skin.
He looked gorgeous.
And still adorable.
“You’re not changing?”
Erik chuckled softly, “No, like I said it’s just the pub.” Though he did suddenly notice that the dark shade of blue that was the sweater-vest was also extremely similar to the dark shaded blue of his turtle neck.
Charles clasped his hands together and smiled, “Okay, so what do you want me to do? When we’re in front of Moira I mean.”
Erik blinked at him.  All he’d been doing all day since the phone call was imagining the boyfriend/boyfriend scenario, but a lot of those scenarios ended up in a bed with no clothes on, no matter how innocent they started.
“Well, you know just…just, be…however you’d be with a boyfriend.”
Charles raised his eyebrows at him, an amused smirk on his lips, “I hardly think someone like me has ever actually had a boyfriend, so you’re going to have to be more specific than that.”
Erik found nothing amusing about that sentence at all. Charles had never been loved.  That was too sad to think about, though he kind of guessed in Charles’ situation relationships weren’t exactly normal. This just made him feel depressed, and couldn’t help the annoyed frown on his face at the way Charles just wouldn’t stop smiling, like he’d accepted long ago that the concept of a relationship with anyone, to have someone care or love him, was actually laughable.
He cleared his throat, trying to hide the frown of his face, “Well, just…stick close to me then, you know, hold hands, that sort of thing.”
“What about kissing?” Charles asked, and Erik stared at him, Charles smiling shrewdly at Erik’s silent response before taking a step towards him and placing one hand gently on the bicep of Erik’s right arm, “Well I’m presuming if we’re going to convince her that we’re together that at least one kiss will have to pass between us, so what kind of kiss? Sweet and lovely, or hot and passionate?”
Despite the words, said in such a tone of voice that sent that heat and passion down to his groin in very much a physical way, Erik couldn’t help but be reminded that this was just the kind of question Charles had asked him before, whether Erik wanted him quiet when they had sex, or moaning.
“H-However you want to do it.” Erik eventually replied, “Whatever you feel comfortable with.”
Charles blinked up at him, looking mildly surprised, before smiling a very sweet smile, “Okay then.” He said, before Erik’s heart suddenly began to beat faster as he felt Charles’ hand slip from his arm and instead thread through his fingers, holding his hand securely just as Erik had suggested. “Shall we go then?”
As Charles led him towards the door, Erik couldn’t help but wonder how it suddenly came to feel that this was just how everything would be if they did live together. The chess, the cheeky smiles, the casual conversations, the dinners cooked together, the disagreements on politics that never actually led to arguments but instead to healthy debates, debates that just made him love him even more. Even down to the fact that it was Charles now leading Erik through his own home, Charles suddenly the confident one, and Erik being led like a love-struck puppy at its masters heals.
Funnily enough, Erik didn’t mind that one bit.
To be continued…  

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

The Barrow and Spade pub was only a 10 minute walk away from Erik’s house, the same distance to the park but in the opposite direction.  As there was no need to drive on this mild temperate evening Erik and Charles were indeed walking there, and even though there was no reason or need for it yet, Charles still hadn’t let go of Erik’s hand.
He held it gently against his own as they walked, looking brightly up at the suburban houses around them, a comfortable silence between them. Or at least for Charles, Erik was wondering and still panicking on how on earth this evening was going to go smoothly, even the fact Charles was holding his hand wasn’t distracting him from his worry.  Moira was bound to ask things about Charles, about his life, about the relationship they were supposed to have together, so what was he going to do, just make a load of stuff up? And what if she asked Charles what to her seemed like a perfectly normal question, but to Charles was one of those questions that made uncomfortable memories re-surface, just like Erik had done the other day asking why Charles had moved from America to England?  This was such a bad idea, there was so many things that could go wrong, he couldn’t ask Charles to do this, even though Charles had been the one to agree to it all before he’d even asked….in fact it was almost his idea in the first place.
The concern on his face must have been obvious though for when Charles looked up noticing his expression he squeezed Erik’s hand just that little bit tighter, and smiled, “Don’t worry, I’m a very good actor, I’m good at being spontaneous.”
Erik didn’t say anything, too wrapped up in his own worries, and instead just glanced down at their hands, “Your hand is cold.”
He’d noticed it when Charles first took his hand in the apartment, but after walking for a little while clasped against his own it still hadn’t warmed up.
“Oh, yes, it’s a side effect of the propranolol, it makes your hands and feet go really cold, reduces the blood flow to them.” Charles replied casually, “Don’t worry I’ll only last for 3 or 4 days, just until my body gets used to the drug again.”
Damn, if only Erik had known that, he would have bought him some gloves to keep him warm until he felt better again. He also glanced down to his feet, having realised earlier that during his little spending spree for Charles he’d forgotten to buy him shoes, meaning as smart as Charles looked he was still wearing his beaten up dirty-white trainers.  Still, Erik rubbed his thumb gently over the back of Charles’ hand, holding him tighter in a small effort to give him warmth from his own hand. Charles smiled at the gesture, before squashing a little closer to Erik as a woman walked past them, and remaining close as they continued on with their walk.
A picture of a garden spade resting against a wheelbarrow hung loosely above the thick oak door outside the pub. A selection of small round metal garden tables were scattered out within the low walled off area outside, where groups of people sat eating and drinking and smoking, conversations and laughter drifting on the air.  Almost the entire front of the pub was covered in ivy growing up the uneven stone walls, and there was a strong smell of beer and hot food wafting through the open windows.  It was a quaint little pub, known for its good views across the fields behind it, situated at the end of a street of houses just before the long main road through the country that led off into town and where Erik worked at the bank. Erik had been here many times, either on his own or with Moira, and it was a friendly place that served the most humongous dishes of food and always held a Darts tournament every Friday night.
As they stood just in front of the small wall Erik looked to Charles, and was pleasantly surprised at the ever so excited expression on his face.
“I’ve never been into a pub before.” He breathed, his blue eyes darting to all the happy people around them and the old-style look to the pub.
Charles shook his head, “I’ve never even had any alcohol before.”
Charles chuckled, turning to Erik and his stunned expression, “Well I’ve never really had the money to spare on evenings out in the bottom of a glass, even though I have always wanted to try it.”
“Well that needs to be rectified as soon as possible then, first beer of your life tonight.” Erik threw him a slanting grin, which made Charles giggle.
“I’m looking forward to it.”
“ERIK! Erik!”
They both turned to see Moira hurrying up the path they’d just walked, smiling and waving to get their attention. Wearing a knee length black skirt and a plain white blouse she looked as though she’d just come straight from off work, but then Moira had always dressed like that.
“Oh look at this holding hands already.” She said as a way of greeting as she walked up to them, Erik already feeling the first of what was probably going to be many embarrassments of the evening.  He let go of Charles’ hand.
“Hello Moira, nice to see you too.” He said as she smiled knowingly and threw her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.
“I told you there’s no excuse you can give me that will get you out of seeing me.” She then turned to Charles, and although the smile stayed on her face there was a brief flash of something else across her eyes, a flicker of confusion, but it only lasted for a moment before she was all smiles again.  Charles didn’t seem to have noticed. “Even one as cute as this.” She held out her hand for Charles to take, “I’m Moira, you must be Charles, and believe me it is a pleasure to meet you.” She smiled happily, Charles taking her hand and smiling equally as brightly back at her.
“It’s lovely to meet you too, I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“And I’ve heard nothing about you.” She said, eyeing Erik with a smile, “But that’s about to change. Let’s get some drinks and settle in for the evening then gentlemen?”
Smiling at them both she headed off towards the front door, Erik releasing a breath he didn’t even know he’d been holding.
“This is a bad idea.” He said, Charles looking up at him, watching his nervous eyes follow her into the pub, “It’s her job to know when people are lying this isn’t going to work.”
“And it’s my job to make people believe lies.” Charles stated, Erik meeting his gaze at the hidden implications under that statement, “It’ll be fine.”
He smiled reassuringly at him, before taking his hand again and walking them both through the door.
Sure, perhaps Charles was good at lying.
Erik however, was not.
A few minutes later the three of them were sitting in a booth against the wall, Erik and Charles side by side, Moira facing them, one pint and two half pints sitting on the table between them. Erik had sent Charles off with Moira to find a table saying he’d stay and collect the drinks at the bar, because he had a feeling Charles would only try and pay for his own if he stayed.  He got Charles just half a pint to start with, just in case he didn’t like beer after all.
Erik was now taking a few long gulps of his own beer, waiting and dreading for Moira’s first question.  Why hadn’t they rehearsed anything beforehand? It all seemed to have happened so fast! What was he going to say if she asked…
“So, how did you two meet?”
She stared at them both, smiling expectantly, and Erik mentally groaned, placing his beer back on the stained dark wooden table, mind racing and coming up with absolutely nothing.
“Well, I was…” Being stalked, being propositioned, making out on a bench with Charles 2 minutes after meeting him, “We were…”
“We met at the park.” Charles suddenly said, hooking his arm under Erik’s where they sat like a claim of ownership, smiling cheerfully at Moira, “I was running late for a bus and was taking a short cut, but I wasn’t looking where I was going and ended tripping up over his legs where he was sitting on a bench. Landed flat on my face of course, looking like a complete idiot, turned over and,” he paused, looking up at Erik with the most soulful puppy eyes and endearing smile, Erik forgetting how to breath, “this handsome man was looking down at me all concerned and asking if I was alright.” Charles raised his other hand, gently stroking the back of two fingers down the side of Erik’s cheek, eyes never leaving Erik’s, their faces, their lips, now so close. “It was love at first sight,” he whispered quietly, breath tickling Erik’s lips, Erik’s heart feeling like it wanted to leap out his chest at those words, even though he knew they were fake, and his face now beginning to go slightly red from lack of oxygen, “wasn’t it Darling?”
“Um…” Erik murmured unintelligently, lost in those so-blue eyes that were so close, so deep, so full of want and need and…Erik finally took a breath, out of physical need for air, and released it slowly, “Yes…it was.”
And it was, it must have been, for there was no other reason why he called him back that night, why he’d said “Wait!”, why seeing him turn around and lock those large yet far too-knowing eyes on his own in the park had made him decide to follow him to his home.
Love at first sight. It was so corny, so ridiculously…Disney. It was reserved for teenage girls, not 34 year old men who trolled through dark parks in the middle of the night.
Charles smiled softly at Erik’s murmured answer, and he licked his lips slowly, leaning forward just a bit to close the gap between them, placing a soft chaste kiss to Erik’s lips. He kept them there, pressing against them gently and warmly before taking his time in pulling away, his top lip sticking to Erik’s bottom one before finally parting.  There was such a flirtatious look in Charles’ eyes as he pulled back, licking his lips again like the tease he was, before sitting back against the comfy padding of the seat with a far too satisfied smile on his lips.
Moira was staring at them, eyes a little wider than normal and highly amused at the intimacy and even the nickname, “Well, you obviously did something right Charles because I don’t think I have ever seen that look on his face before.”
Erik was suddenly extremely conscious of his expression, whatever it was, and quickly changed his features to what he hoped was his normal stoic look.  The sudden change made Moira burst out laughing, even Charles looked like he was trying to repress a laugh.
“A toast,” she said when she could finally form words again, raising her drink, Charles biting his bottom lip and trying not to giggle as he picked up his yet un-tried drink, Erik begrudgingly grabbing his own already half drunk one, “To Charles, the only man ever to give Erik Lehnsherr the simpering puppy look.”
Moira and Charles grinned at each other as they clinked their glasses, Erik already trying to drown himself in the rest of his pint.
These two were going to get along far too well.
As Charles brought the glass to his own lips though, taking a mouthful, he immediately began to cough, pulling a face at the bitter taste as Erik stopped drinking and turned to him in concern.
Moira got there first, “Are you alright?”
“Oh, y-yes,” Charles stuttered, coughing again, “I’ve just never had a beer before, not used to the taste.”
Erik smiled softly, “There is a knack to it.” he explained, picking up his now almost empty glass again, “You really have to knock it back, don’t let it hit the tip of your tongue, it’s best for it to hit straight to the back of the throat.”
He did just that, tipping his head back and downing the remaining beer.
“Ah, back of the throat,” Charles repeated, raising his beer again, “I’m good at doing that.”
Thankfully Moira’s rush to Erik’s side to try and calm his coughing fit as he choked on his beer negated the need of explaining what the hell Charles had meant by that.
So far so good the evening was running as smoothly as possible.  They’d ordered a meal, Charles ordering the same as Erik, too excited at actually having someone bringing food to them as he’d never eaten out before.  When the meals had arrived Charles’ eyes almost bulged at the portions, like he’d never seen so much food in his life.  The huge oval-shaped Steak and Ale pie was surrounded by a massive helping of fluffy white mashed potatoes, baby carrots, peas and broccoli, topped off with a thick rich smelling gravy that had Charles almost salivating at it.
If Moira wondered why Charles was acting so surprised at the sight of food she didn’t show it, and the questions she’d asked Charles about himself were answered with very reasonable and believable answers (Erik didn’t know if he wanted to feel bad or laugh when Moira had asked Charles what he did for a living and he’d replied, “Oh, nothing interesting, just Customer Service.”), and was now far more interested in regaling them all with more tales from Erik’s childhood, Erik finding more and more empty pint glasses lining up in front of him.  Luckily it took an awful lot of alcohol to get him drunk, and to top it off with a very large meal he wasn’t feeling much of it yet.
However this couldn’t be said for Charles.
Having got the hang of downing the beer Charles had upgraded to full pint glasses, and was now nearing the end of his 3rd (plus the half he’d drunk at the beginning). Having never had alcohol before in his life he’d become very drunk very quickly, even with the big meal in-between, and as it turned out Charles was a very flirty, and slightly dorky, drunk.
“You know you have very groovy eyes Erik.”
Moira giggled around the rim of her glass, now containing a Smirnoff Ice, and watched with much amusement as Charles leant on one elbow, staring blearily at Erik who stared back at him with a raised eyebrow and a quirky smile on his lips.
“Did you just say my eyes were groovy?”
Charles nodded and his head slipped off his hand, just about pulling back before it smashed into the table. He giggled, loudly, before placing his elbow back where it was and resting his head in his hand again, eyes flickering up at Erik through his eyelashes, cheeks very rosy and lips moist with the beer.
“Yes, groovy, veeeeery groovy eyes.”
“And why are my eyes groovy exactly?” Erik humoured him, sharing a quick smirk with Moira who mouthed the word ‘groovy?’ because no one said that these days.
“Because I can’t tell what colour they are.” A small hiccup escaped him and his head fell off his hand again.  Deciding that position obviously wasn’t working he turned in the booth and leant back against the wall, leg resting between himself and Erik, and regarded him with a look that said ‘take me now against the wall’.
Or perhaps that was just Erik.
“I’ve always thought they were a sea green.” Moira suggested, smirking as Charles narrowed his eyes at Erik as if it would make it easier to see the colour.  He’d rolled his sleeves up at some point and undone a second button at the top of his shirt as he grew hotter and hotter, both from the warm air around them and the alcohol.  The only thing still neat about him was his hair.
Suddenly he moved, tucking the leg on the seat underneath him and leaning forward, both hands on Erik to steady himself as he shuffled closer and sat staring into his eyes, so close Erik had to move his head back at the sudden proximity.
“I’d say…..” he thought for a moment, pursing his lips together as Erik did nothing but stare straight back at him, Charles’ hands warm on his shoulder and his…oh god, thigh. “Sort of a sea green, a greeny, definitely bluey…greyishy…”
Erik smirked, “Greyishy isn’t a word Charles.”
Charles’ brows furrowed and he sat, or fell, back against the wall again, “Greyishy is a perfectly respecy-tibble word.”
Moira chortled into her drink, looking at Charles with absolute adoration, “Oh are the cutest thing. Erik don’t let this one go okay he’s perfect for you, he’s the total opposite of you.”
“I am perfect aren’t I?” Charles suddenly chimed, grinning and leaning towards Erik so fast he fell right against him, body plastered to the side of him, “I always have so many customers say that I’m perfect.”
Alarm bells suddenly rung in Erik’s head. Don’t let drunk!Charles forget this was all supposed to be an act.  Oh god why had he bought him alcohol? Please let this still be part of his customer service ruse. Erik eyed him warily, suddenly entirely focused on his mouth and all words that would come out of it.
“I’d certainly love to get you on a phone call Charles,” Moira smiled, “I can imagine you’d be a really nice helpful person. Could do with someone like you working on the switchboard at the station, damn grumpy woman we’ve got there at the moment.”
“Ohhhhhh!” Charles suddenly exclaimed slowly, as though realising something really important.  He leant forward on the table and looked at Moira with wide eyes, “You’re a policewoman aren’t you?”
“Well, detective, but yeah.”
“Are all policemen there really perverted because I used to have one as a customer a long time ago and some of the things he’d want me to d-“
“OKAY Charles, I think you’ve had enough don’t you?” Erik grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him back hard, Charles frowning and blinking uncoordinatedly.  Erik had been getting paler and paler as Charles spoke, momentarily frozen before finally finding the words in his mouth to shut him up.
“To…do?” Moira asked quietly, frowning in concern.
Shit. “It was just a perverted phone-call he got once,” Erik’s brain worked fast, speaking casually, “Some idiot breathing down the phone at him, traced it back to a policemen up North.”
“Oh.” Moira murmured, Erik almost holding his breath hoping she’d buy it, a frown to her eyes, “It’s unfortunate when things like that happen, and always worse when it’s someone who’s supposed to be on the peoples side.” She took a swig of her drink and smiled at Charles, “Well on behalf of the entire police force, I apologise for any trauma this waste-of-space of an officer had given you.”
Charles stared at her for a moment, swaying a little where he sat, before beaming at her cheerily, “You’re nice. I like you Moira, you’ve very groovy.”
“And so are you Charles.” She laughed, the panic that had been rising in Erik’s mind subsiding, although Moira did seem to glance at him with a bit of a deadpan expression for just a moment before taking another drink. He prayed this wouldn’t lead to an awkward conversation later, she was too good at picking up on lies.
It was however now definitely time go home.
“I think we should probably call it night. We do both have work in the morning and I think I should get Charles home.”
“I think you’re right.” Moira said, her smile breaking into another laugh as Charles tried to paw at Erik’s turtleneck, trying to get it down so he could get to his neck, placing small kisses on the fabric instead where he leant against him.
Erik’s heart was racing at this innocent little contact, the warm fingers brushing against his neck before the turtleneck would snap back up again when he let go, and he wondered, hoped, that being rather inebriated right now perhaps Charles was doing that because he wanted to, and not part of the act, as he’d apparently forgotten about that now.
“I think…I should visit the little boy’s room first though.” Charles giggled into Erik’s shoulder, and Erik more than happily and quickly slid off the booth so Charles could get out, finding himself growing hot just at those fingers brushing against his neck.
“Do you want me to come with you?” Erik asked as Charles rather wobbly stood up, using the table and Erik to support himself until he was standing up straight.
“I’m not that drunk.” Charles protested, not that he could possibly have known how much “that” drunk was.  To his credit though he did manage to walk, Erik pointing him in the direction of the toilets and watching as Charles swayed over in the general direction, disappearing through the crowd and eventually through the door at the other side.
Sitting back down with a relieved sigh, Erik picked up his glass and began downing the final half of his beer.  Well, as long as he got Charles home successfully then at least this evening went as well as could be expected and not a total disaster.  Charles really was a good actor, Moira didn’t show any signs of suspicion about anything he’d said, or how he’d acted (he hoped). As he gulped down the final remnants of his glass Erik’s mind wandered to those fingers at his neck, the heat from Charles’ body as he was pressed against him, the fingers down his cheek and that warm little kiss, and suddenly found this last bit of beer was finally pushing him over the edge, heat rising off his skin.  He felt that buzz, felt the blur to his eyes, felt like he wanted to touch Charles in return, and realised that he had actually drunk rather a lot in the end, even for someone like him, and he had work tomorrow.  His work didn’t mind the odd day off sick, but any longer than that you had to get a doctors slip.  He legally couldn’t get one from Hank without it actually being put on record, so he’d have to go in tomorrow and leave Charles alone. Poor Charles, with his first hangover, and Erik with one too so it would seem, though it would only be a mild one, and certainly not his first.
As he finished off the beer and put it back down, he noticed Moira was still staring after Charles, a nice smile to her lips but a small frown to her eyes.  This wasn’t the first time she’d looked at Charles like this when she thought he wasn’t looking, he’d even noticed it when they’d first met that there was a ghost of a darker look over her eyes.
“Why do you keep looking at him like that?” he asked, and Moira glanced back to him.
“Oh, nothing really.” She turned back to the crowd, still frowning, “I just keep thinking I’ve seen him somewhere before.  You don’t forget a face like that, but for the life of me I can’t remember where from.” She paused, watching the movements of the crowd, before turning back to Erik with a pleasant smile, “It’s probably just me, so many faces over the years they tend to blur all into one.” She too finished off the last bit of her drink, before crossing her arms over the table and leaning forward with another smile, “Seriously though Erik, I have never seen you this happy. I think I’ve seen you smile more tonight than in my entire life of knowing you. You’re like a different person, and no one has ever had that effect on you before.”
Erik smiled wistfully, looking down at his empty glass and running a finger across the condensation, “I know. It feels strange.”
“It’s called being normal, and at last I might add.” She chuckled, before reaching out and placing her hand over Erik’s resting on the table, “You think he could be the one?”
Erik glanced up at her, “The one what?”
Moira rolled her eyes, “The one you’re going to settle down with, you know, have a life with.”
“I think it’s a little early for that somehow, I haven’t known him for that long.”
“Erik, I know you.” She smiled, rubbing his hand, “And I know you’ve never looked at anyone the way you look at Charles, it’s like you’re the only two people in the room, and I get the same vibe from Charles too.”
Erik’s eyes widened just a bit, that hope crawling back up his chest, “Really?”
Moira nodded, “He’s all over you, he can’t take his eyes off you, and there’s something about him too there’s a….a need there.  I dunno.” She said, removing her hand from Erik’s and leaning back in her chair, “I know it’s my job to read people’s body language, but there’s a lot hidden in Charles, all I get from him is a need, and by the looks of it it’s a need to be close to you.”
Erik sat there letting her words sink in.  She was very good at her job, these vibes she got from people, from criminals, these hunches were almost always right, in fact he didn’t think she’d ever been wrong.  But, was that her being good at her job, or Charles being good at his?  Had she read his perfect lies? Or was this need….really for him?
A great detective or a great liar, who to believe?
“And by the way you do realise you’re both wearing the same coloured clothing don’t you?”
Strangely happy at his thoughts, his tipsy mind leaning towards believing Moira, Erik smirked down at his chest, “I did notice that.”
“LOOK! PEANUTS!” Both Erik and Moira turned startled to see Charles wobbling over to them with a bowl of peanuts he’d taken from the bar, “Free peanuts!! And look!” he took a peanut from the bowl and then burst into laughter, “T-this one…it looks like…E-Erik!”
“What the…” Erik mumbled, heat rising to his face, Moira giggling already and taking the peanut from Charles’ outstretched hand.
“Oh my god it does!”
And so Erik sat, both Moira and Charles in peals of laughter, looking down at a peanut that as far as he could tell held no resemblance to any human being, let alone himself.
He suddenly felt very annoyingly adult.

Erik was definitely more drunk than he’d first thought.  He was fine in the bustle of the pub, Charles leaning on him heavily as they walked outside, a now cool air and dark night around them.  But after they’d said goodbye to Moira, Charles practically falling on her for a hug, and were now walking side by side in the dark following the streetlamps back to the maisonette, Erik was definitely starting to feel…dazed.

Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was the hot body that kept on bumping into him as they walked, Erik eventually flinging one arm out around Charles’ shoulders and pulling him close to steady him as they travelled down the pathways home.
That was probably a bad idea though, because it just proved that that hot body was indeed contributing to Erik’s daze, glancing down to the mop of dark hair at his shoulder, feeling one hand creeping behind him and resting around his waist too as they walked.  To anyone walking by they would have thought they were just a normal gay couple walking down the street together, no one would have known Erik was paying for all this, though not that Erik was remembering this right now.  All he could feel was the warm arm around his waist, his drunken mind happily listening to Charles’ hushed voice as he giggled in the silence around them, saying how he wished he could have brought the rest of the peanuts home to find any more Erik ones as he’d eaten the one he’d found.
Erik didn’t even know what time it was, but he didn’t want to remove his arm from around Charles to look at his watch.  It was nice, drunk or not, to be walking slowly together, arms around each other, the air cool on their hot faces, the stars shining like glittering diamonds above them.
It was then Erik realised he was sounding very much like a love struck teenager again and he told his mind firmly to shut up.
“Why are you sssshushing me I wasn’t saying anything.” Charles slurred against him, and Erik was definitely drunk if he was shushing his mind out loud.
“Sorry.” he mumbled in return, squeezing him tighter around the shoulders. They walked in silence a little further, before Charles said something so quiet Erik didn’t hear, “Sorry?”
Charles raised his head a little, “I like you Erik.”
Immediately Erik’s chest swelled, his daze becoming heated, and he smiled widely, “You do?”
“Mmm.”  Charles murmured, pressing his face into the turtleneck, “You’d still want me wouldn’t you?” he said quietly.
Charles cuddled him closer around the waist, eyes half closed as they walked, “That’s what normal people do isn’t it? And then…and then even when they’re older they still want each other, even if…if they lose their looks they stay together don’t they?”
Erik frowned down at him, what was he getting at? “Are you alright Charles?”
Charles stopped walking and looked up at him, bodies close together where they still held each other, “You find me attractive don’t you?” he asked, his eyes slightly unfocused but just as bright, even in the darkness around them, and they blinked all large and honest-looking up at him.
Erik’s heart hammered in his chest, “Um, yes?” Charles’ serious face suddenly beamed at him, and he tucked his head back at Erik’s shoulder and started walking again, Erik frowning down at him. “What’s brought all this on?” Erik asked gently, his house now viewable a little further down the road, the clear fresh air around them doing little to clear his clouded head of thoughts of the warm Charles pressed against him.
“Oh, just something someone said.” They walked in silence again, before Charles took a small but deep breath, “I like you Erik.” He whispered again, as though afraid to say it out loud. “In fact…” he added even more quietly, eyes closing as he walked, snuggled against Erik’s side, “I want…”
“Hold on a second, we’re back.”
Charles lifted his head from Erik’s shoulder as Erik’s arm slipped from around him, finding his keys in his pocket and opening the door quietly.  Charles stood there, staring at Erik as he held the door open for him.  He frowned, then smiled, and then finally stumbled through the door with a giggle into Erik’s arms.
The daze was heating up again, Erik’s hands wanting to move by themselves to touch Charles, and with Charles’ arms around his waist and his head buried against his chest it was causing that heat to pool downwards.  Trying not to think about it Erik helped Charles up the stairs, and once into the living room dumped him gently down onto the sofa.
Walking into the kitchen Erik took a glass and filled it with cold water, walking back around to Charles and holding it out for him, “Here, you should drink some water before going to sleep, it’ll help with your hangover in the morning.”
Charles looked at Erik, looked at the water, then looked back up at Erik, “I don’t want any water.”
Erik smirked, “Trust me, you want wat-“
“I want you.”
The silence in the room could have stretched for miles, the daze now forming into some sort of wild beast clawing in Erik’s chest to get out, reaching desperately for Charles who sat there looking up at him with eyes a lot darker than they were before.
“What?” Erik said very quietly, not wanting to think he’d mis-heard but, just in case.
Charles’ eyes moved down Erik’s chest, just like he’d done times before, and fell to his groin right in front of him. Suddenly Charles was moving, shuffling to the edge of the sofa, his fingers on Erik’s belt buckle taking it apart.  The glass fell from Erik’s hand landing on the carpet, rolling away under the coffee table, the water spilling out everywhere.
 Erik’s hands flew to Charles’ to still them, pulling them away and quickly doing his belt back up again, “Charles, no, you’re drunk.” He said sternly, the beast in his chest roaring in protest at him.
“No, this isn’t because I’m drunk,” Charles complained, frowning and trying to get back at the belt but Erik gently bashing his hands away, “I want this, I do, not drunk, just want you.”
“Charles you, stop it, get of-“
Giving up on the belt and glaring annoyingly up at Erik Charles decided to wrapped his arms around Erik’s waist instead and yank him forward, Erik falling right on top of him in a mass of limbs.  Erik ended up with one knee balancing precariously at the edge of the sofa, the other kneeling towards the back of the seat, Charles’ legs dangling off the edge where he lent back, and right in-between Erik’s legs.
Charles was determined not to let him go, his thinner arms surprisingly strong as he kept them wrapped around his shoulders, leaning upwards trying to kiss him but annoyingly Erik pulling away every time, trying and failing to grab Charles’ wandering hands and hold them still.
“Charles, Charles!”
Finally managing to pin them above his head Charles just writhed underneath him, an annoyed frown over his closed eyes as he arched up into him, pressing their groins together as he did, Erik catching his breath at the hardness rubbing against him.
“Erik please!”
 “Stop it, s-stop, Charles!!”
Charles finally stilled, opening his pleading eyes, the biggest pout on his lips. “Fuck me again.” He whispered, the words immediately zooming straight downwards to harden Erik’s own cock, and Erik squeezed his eyes shut for a moment, as though that would help, “Please? It never feels good. I’ve only ever felt good with you.  I want that again. I want you again.”
Erik let out a long drawn-out sigh, trying to calm the heat raging inside him, staring down into Charles’ dark eyes, “Look, you’re drunk, I’m….very close to being drunk, and…” Charles was staring up at him with the biggest eyes, and Erik found himself swallowing heavily “…I…don’t have much resistance against you right now.”
Charles breathed out a smile and he arched himself upwards again, “Good. Please…”
“No, Charles.”
Yes Charles!
“Oh come on didn’t you notice?!” Charles suddenly shouted loudly at him, almost glaring at him, Erik’s eyes wide at the sudden exclamation, “I came without you even touching me last time, that’s never happened before, ever! I want you Erik, please! I never want it but I do with you, I’ve never felt the way I did with you and I want to feel that again!”
This felt like such a big confession, but Erik’s drunken mind was having trouble processing all the information being thrown at him, as well as trying to ignore the friction of his cock against Charles’ through the fabric of their trousers. Unfortunately the more he ignored it the more he felt it, Charles constantly arching himself, rubbing himself against him. Charles wanted him…I can’t do this. He felt good only with him….he looks so gorgeous. But…this was all…they were drunk……. I want him!
“I see the way you look at me,” Charles whispered, running his tongue slowly over his bottom lip, “I know you want me again, I can feel you want me again.” He added, raising his hips and feeling the growing hardness of Erik’s cock against his own again, “So let’s just fuck. Please? Being drunk’s got nothing to do with it, and even if it did it’s just sex, it’s normal. You’re paying me anyway so what does it matter?”
Erik couldn’t handle this.  He’d been putting off touching himself for what felt like forever since meeting Charles, trying to have some vague sense of control over himself.  But these words, these actions, the begging and the heat and those eyes that stared at him like he was the last edible substance on Earth…
Erik’s grip was loosening on Charles’ hands, his heart hammering in his chest as he stared blankly down at him, neither moving away nor moving closer, a look of panic and lust mixed in his eyes. Without looking away from those confused eyes Charles slowly slipped one hand out of Erik’s grasp and moved it downwards, fingers brushing against his shirt before cupping Erik’s cock through the fabric.  Erik literally shuddered above him, eyes closed, breathing heavily, the beast in his chest so close to escaping, watching Charles sprawled out beneath him literally begging to be fucked. He wanted desperately to just wrap Charles in his arms, kiss him till he was pleading for air, touch him everywhere, fuck him, he was so close to losing himself.  There had to be some shred of sanity to hold on to, some reason to not take advantage, some reason not to give in…
“I don’t…want this to ruin, what we’ve…” but the words were lost in his throat.
Charles moved his other hand to rest around the back of Erik’s neck, slowly pulling his head downwards. “It’s just sex Erik, so fuck me, hard…please? I never ask for anything,” Charles whispered against his lips, brushing them slowly and softly against them, the taste of beer still lingering there, “but just once, I want something for me……I want you.” He brushed over them once more before parting his lips wide and claiming Erik’s own, his tongue running across them, pushing through them slowly, Erik’s rational mind disappearing, drowning, drunk on both the alcohol and on Charles as his tongue run smoothly over his own.
Charles ran his hands through Erik’s hair, groaned noisily into the kiss, and Erik lost it.
The dazed beast lunged forward, and suddenly Erik’s hands were buried in Charles’ hair too, kissing him fiercely, Charles writhing upwards like a wave to meet Erik’s body, pressing themselves so hard together, loud groans and quick gasps breaking the desperate kisses. Tongues slid dominantly together, needing, wanting, writhing, hands buried in each other’s hair, Charles pulling him down harder, fingernails scraping across his scalp and tangled in his hair, barely letting any breaths pass between them. Both his legs were now wrapped firmly around Erik’s waist, their lips meshed together, wet and slippery, hard and fast and deep kisses, as though trying to climb inside each other, their very survival depending on it.
At exactly the same time their mouths parted, Erik kneeling upwards and taking the hem of his turtleneck pulling it up and over his head as quickly as possible, Charles doing  the same with his sweater-vest.
Throwing them off somewhere to the floor Erik securely wrapped his arms around Charles  and lifted him up, their lips meeting intensely again as he stood, Charles’ legs still wrapped around his waist as he moved towards the bedroom door, kicking it open, carrying Charles through.
They collapsed onto the bed still entangled, Charles beneath him, lips still moving ferociously against one another. With his cock straining painfully against his slacks Erik reluctantly pulled away from those lips, kneeling up between Charles’ legs and quickly undoing his belt and fly as quickly as possible. It was all a mad rush, just like the first time, and as he knelt up Charles sat up in front of him and immediately latched those lips onto one of Erik’s nipples, a low rumble of a growl escaping Erik’s throat as his head tilted back at the sensation, Charles teasing the nub with his teeth before rolling over it with his wet tongue.
The raw need between them was exploding, Erik unable to explain why or even really caring why, all he knew was that Charles had said he wanted him, wanted him to fuck him, and with all the unresolved sexual tension that had been building up inside him for days, and now a brain fuelled by alcohol and lust, well then that was exactly what he was going to do.
Charles’ frantic hands were everywhere, running over Erik’s chest and back, pressing hard against the skin and the muscles as though trying to memorise every cell. As Erik pulled away for just a moment, removing the rest of his own clothing, Charles fell back against the bed, his quick hands on his own belt shoving down both trousers and underwear just as Erik’s hands covered his own, helping him pull everything away, their eyes meeting at the contact.
There were no smiles this time, no cheekiness in Charles’ eyes, just a dark and frenzied want as he pulled Erik back down on top of him, arms tight around his neck as he forced his tongue back between Erik’s lips, seemingly unable to keep quiet, desperate groans and shaky gasps of breath as Erik dipped his hand between their naked bodies and grabbed Charles’ cock firmly in his palm.
Charles looked beautiful as he bucked up into him at the feel of those long fingers, and he broke their kiss for barely a second to whisper desperately, “Put your fingers inside me.” He kissed him again, “Please?”
Not waiting for an answer Charles pulled Erik’s hand up from his cock and parted his lips, sucking on two fingers, wetting them with saliva as his tongue ran hurriedly across them, eyes fixed on Erik’s as Erik looked down at him never more turned on in his life.  His cock was already hard and aching, rubbing alongside Charles’ who was just as hard with need, and the feel of that slippery tongue across his fingers made him grind his hips downwards, Charles gasping around his fingers. Erik lowered his head, removing his wet fingers and replacing them with his lips again, Charles hooking his own arm around one of his knees and pulling his leg back, giving Erik better access as Erik moved his hand downwards and immediately penetrated through that puckered hole with both fingers. Charles bucked again high against him, gasping loudly at the sudden intrusion before kissing Erik back hungrily, groaning wildly when the fingers curled inside him and pushed against that sweet bundle of nerves.
Erik just couldn’t get enough of him, there just wasn’t enough of Charles to go around. He wanted more, more of those delicious sounds, more of those lips and that tongue, more of the body writhing helplessly beneath him, more of the soaring heat around his fingers.
More, more, forever more.
“Ohh Erik! Oh please now, please, fuck me hard!” Charles begged between kisses, trying to push Erik’s other arm down to hook behind Charles’ other knee.
“But, what about…” Erik tried to say, a little warning light going off in the back of his brain trying to remind him about Charles’ no bare-backing rule. 
But Charles just made some vague sound of disagreement in his throat, head shaking against his lips, “Just don’t come inside me.” He whispered, tongue licking across Erik’s lips, “Now please, just fuck me, I want to feel you inside me again!”
Erik felt himself melt and shudder at the words, pressing his lips firmly to Charles as he moved his arm to hook behind Charles’ other leg, hooking them both up high against the bed around his forearms where his hands lay palm flat against the bed, “Whatever you want Charles.” He breathed, before angling his hips, the tip of his cock pressing against that welcoming hole and thrusting forward instantly. Charles snapped his head back against the pillow with a grunt, drawing in a long and shaky breath as Erik slid in all the way in to the hilt, a look of absolute pleasure across his face.
“Oohhhhh that’s it, keep moving don’t stop, don’t stop I’m alright just move.” Charles exclaimed hurriedly.
So he did. Erik pulled back and thrust in once again, another desperate grunt tumbling from Charles’ kiss-bruised lips, his arms flying around Erik’s neck once again to bring him down, burying his head at his shoulder, breathing heavily as Erik moved again.
Faster, longer thrusts, deep every time, Charles’ whole body rocking rhythmically against him as he clung to him, breathing gasps and mewling groans into his ear. Charles’ legs were spread wide, pinned by Erik’s strong arms beside him, Erik’s fingers digging into the duvet beneath them on every thrust, gripping onto the fabric.
“Faster.” Charles panted, wet tongue licking the top of his ear, “Fuck me…harder…please!”
“God Charles…” Erik breathed onto his shoulder, screwing his eyes shut at the pleasure that was consuming every cell in his body.  He slid out for just a moment and moved his knees, angling them either side of Charles’ raised thighs and knelt upwards, grabbing Charles by the back of his knees and bringing his legs up with him.
Charles bit his bottom lip hard as he watched him, completely spread and open and vulnerable, cheeks rosy and blue eyes but a slither against the darkened pupils. He seemed to wait with baited breath as Erik finally placed the tip of his thick cock back at his needing entrance, and Charles groaned Erik’s name noisily as Erik slid forward again, piercing into him, holding his legs wide as he began to fuck him harder.
Charles was panting desperately on the bed, begging words continuously tumbling from his lips for more, for deeper thrusts, for Erik to just fuck him into the mattress and never stop.  Every breathless begging word sent hot shivers running through Erik straight to his cock, and he obliged in every word, snapping his hips harder, quicker, fucking him so hard Charles’ words were beginning to slur, to jumble, turning from a beg to a muddle of breathless sounds, arms flung out above him clinging desperately to the pillow, the head board, the duvet, the sheets, anything they could grab as his eyes were shut tight crying out into the room.
Without missing a beat Erik changed the angle of his thrusts and plunged back inside. Charles’ eyes flew open and with a cry of absolute ecstasy he arched high off the bed, one hand flying to his own dripping cock as he pumped himself furiously in time to every blissful pleasure-melting thrust from Erik.
“Oh god right there don’t stop don’t stop don’t stop…” the rest of his sentence was lost in a sea of high pitched garbled noises, sweat dripping down his thighs, his cheeks, pooling at his chest.
Erik was the same, he could barely breath at the sight beneath him, the headboard pounding relentlessly against the wall, his own body glistening and raging with heat. The searing tightness around his cock was getting tighter and tighter and tighter until suddenly Charles went quiet, nose and eyes scrunched up tightly, red lips hanging open, head thrown back as with a curdled cry he came, and hard.  Desperate crying gasps escaped him as his orgasm shuddered through him, white spurts landing across his chest and face, and barely a second later Erik let out a barking groan, the sight beneath him throwing him over the edge, and he plunged in deep just one more time before pulling out and grabbing his own cock quickly he came just as hard, shooting out over Charles’ stomach.
It took a few seconds of breathless panting from them both, stilled in their movements, before Erik collapsed on top of him, resting up on his forearms so as not to squash him, and took no time at all in licking up across Charles’ cheek, licking away the white stickiness that had fallen there, before even barely able to move Charles captured his lips again, more panting against each other’s lips than an actual kiss.
“Can I….stay?” Erik breathed against him, feeling unbelievably satisfied and sated, really not wanting to crawl away from this delicious warmth and back to the cold sofa for the night.
But luckily Charles, barely able to keep his eyes open, just nodded, raising one shaky arm and passing two fingers down Erik’s cheek, looking up at him so sleepily. Erik kissed him softly, body relaxing as he leant off of Charles to one side, collapsing onto the bed on his side, weakly pulling the duvet out from under them to spread out across them.  He didn’t have to wonder long on how they were going to sleep, if he would be allowed to have Charles in his arms or have to sleep on opposite sides of the bed, because as soon as the duvet was settled over them Charles immediately moved into his arms to cuddle against him, tucking his head under his chin, one leg thrown over Erik’s.
So sated and sleepy and elated at Charles cuddling against him, Erik gently wrapped his arms around him, holding him close, turning to rest his cheek on top of his head burying his nose in his hair.  He prayed this wasn’t all going to turn out to be one of his aching dreams, for even though they were both hot and sticky and desperately needed to shower, none of that mattered right now. Charles had wanted him, Charles was in his arms, Charles was everything Erik had ever wanted and he was right here, sleepy and content beside him, his calmed breathing against his chest proof this was real.
“I love you Charles.”
Erik whispered it so quietly, the words out of his mouth before he’d even thought them, too happy not to say it.  Charles remained silent, remained breathing evenly, evidently already exhausted in sleep.
To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

Erik’s eyelids blinked in the stream of sunlight filtering through the gap in the curtains.  Of all the places in the room for that sun to fall and it was right across his sleepy, groggy, hung-over eyes, and he screwed them shut tight against the light the moment he opened them.
Groaning lightly and trying to turn his head away he ended up pressing his face further into the mop of dark hair on his shoulder, and opening his eyes again he looked down to see Charles, still in exactly the same position, sprawled against him and half on top of him, breathing steadily.
Immediately the throbbing behind his eyes was forgotten and he smiled, grinned in fact like a joyous school boy as the memories of yesterday awakened themselves in his mind.  True they both may have been drunk, but Charles had openly said that he wanted him, that he’d never before felt the way he did with Erik, and the way Charles had clung to him last night, such ferocious kisses, demanding movements and equally demanding voice, it was a part of Charles he’d most definitely like to meet again, though preferably sober next time round.
The more his barely awake and hung-over thoughts wandered down that path the more his cock began to respond to them, and feeling more giddy than he’d ever done in his life he couldn’t help the laugh that escaped him, looking up at the ceiling with his mind racing, smiling wildly to himself that perhaps Moira was right, that Charles would be the one he would never let go of, that he’d wake up every morning with Charles in his arms just like this.
His thoughts were so ridiculously sappily happy he couldn’t believe he was the one thinking them, Moira was certainly right in the fact he didn’t seem to act like his normal self around Charles, and his chest began to judder again with the laughter he was trying to hold in, trying not to wake Charles up. Unfortunately the movements had indeed stirred Charles from his heavy slumber, and those blue eyes blinked slowly open, the fingers on his hand lying across Erik’s chest curling gently across the warm skin, before all of a sudden Charles’ eyes went wide and with a gasp he flinched away from Erik so violently he almost fell off the side of bed, scrambling up to lean on his elbow, expression of absolute panic as he stared down at Erik like he’d never seen him before in his life!  He didn’t have a chance to look like that for long though as he’d moved directly into the path of that stream of sunlight, and like Erik it hit him painfully across the eyes, Charles screwing them tightly shut and letting out a small pained groan before falling back to the bed face first into the pillow.
“I really hope that reaction doesn’t mean you don’t remember what happened last night.” Erik said, half in a sudden concern at Charles’ abrupt movement, and the other in a warm sympathy for the headache Charles was bound to have.
“No, I do.” Came the muffled and very groggy response, before Charles raised his head and turned it to one side, resting his cheek back on the pillow and squinting across at Erik beside him, “I’ve just never woken up with someone still there before, you startled me.”
Erik smiled amused, “I saw that. How do you feel?”
“Like I want to scoop the inside of my head out.”  Charles replied, before his eyes wavered for a moment, as though looking through Erik as more memories returned to him, before he let out a frustrated sigh and he closed his eyes, “I’m also completely mortified.” He mumbled quietly, before turning over and facing away from Erik and the light, bringing his knees to his chest as he lay curled up at the edge of the bed, the furthest away he could get without actually risking getting up. Erik blinked at the back of his head, frowning, but Charles elaborated before he had a chance to ask why, his voice still scratchy from the alcohol and the unwelcome morning. “How I acted…” he paused and let out another angry sigh, “I acted just like what I am, a whore. You’d made it clear you didn’t even really want me, yet I still forced myself on you anyway. I was pathetic…and I’m sorry.”
Erik had feared this reaction, and he leant up on his elbow behind Charles and reached out to his bare shoulder, fingers hovering above his skin, before he curled them in again and lowered his hand.  Erik’s own words of last night echoed in his head, that he didn’t want this to ruin whatever kind of trust had been built between them. Charles had insisted it was just sex, something Charles was far too used to giving out to people, and in Erik’s drunken libido-driven mind he’d easily believed Charles’ words.  But if that was the case, if it was “just sex”, then why did Charles suddenly seem so small and insecure? Why was he acting like this was a mistake if last night had just been another night of casual, no-strings-attached sex?
Of course Erik didn’t want it to be that, it wasn’t like that, not for him, but for Charles it was probably the only kind of sex he’d ever known. But surely now, given what Charles had admitted out loud last night, even Charles could surely sense a change? Surely he could see what was happening between them? It could be the only reason why he was acting this way, because it meant more to him than he even realised.
Perhaps now was Erik’s time to make his move.
“You were many things last night Charles but pathetic wasn’t one of them,” Erik began delicately, “and you were hardly forcing me to do something I didn’t want to do. In case you didn’t notice I wasn’t protesting for very long.”
 “But you still hadn’t asked for it, and that’s not what I do.” Charles said quietly, his low voice etched with a humiliated sadness trying to hide, before he moved and dropped his legs over the side of the bed and slowly sat up, the duvet falling to his waist, “I should go.”
Erik’s eyes opened wide in panic, “No! Charles no, wait!”
Erik scrambled off the bed just as Charles began to rise, quickly throwing on his boxer shorts from yesterday just for something to cover himself with as he walked swiftly around to the other side of the bed, where Charles stood swaying for a moment before collapsing back sitting on the edge of the bed, one hand pulling the duvet back over his lap, the other holding his forehead and grimacing at his hangover.
Erik’s heart rate relaxed for a moment, it would seem Charles wasn’t going anywhere just yet. “Look just…just wait there a second, I’ll get you some water and some painkillers, if you try walking too quickly like this you’ll only make yourself sick, if you don’t feel that way already.”
Rather surprisingly it was a glare that met his eyes, Charles lowering his hand and looking up at Erik with narrowed eyes, “I’m not a child Erik.” He said darkly, lips tight together, “In fact I’m very far from it, I don’t need looking after 24/7.” He paused, his glare not wavering.
“I wasn’t…suggesting that you did…” Erik trailed off, not quite knowing how to respond to that.
Charles just licked his bottom lip and continued, “I’ve had alcohol before, of course I have. I lied yesterday because you seem to enjoy the more innocent side of me.  I used to drink an awful lot some years ago until I realised I was turning into my mother and put a stop to it.” He stopped again, looking down to his hand on the duvet across his lap, “Perhaps I was looking forward to drinking with someone I had grown to like rather than on my own, and that’s why I said what I did, but this has now all made me realise that I’ve grown far too comfortable around you and this isn’t right. I need to leave.”
Erik stared down at him, Charles avoiding his gaze and still looking down at his lap. A splash of anger was stirring through Erik’s veins, even though he knew it was a childish response. Charles was messed up, anyone could see that, and Erik and his stupid happy little fantasies had been so ready to accept Charles when the man realised what had been happening between them and would fall openly into his arms, that when that didn’t happen Erik felt stupidly angry at him.
Or more than likely angry at himself, because Erik wanted to berate himself for feeling like this. Charles was perfect to Erik, but he was very imperfect too and his imperfections were not his fault, they were caused by this life that he lived, filling him with insecurities, distrust, and who knew what other wavering worries filling his mind.
Dammit he wished he knew Charles’ story.
“What’s wrong with being too comfortable around me?” Erik eventually questioned, voice steady, “Maybe you did lie yesterday, maybe you’ve lied about other things you told me, but you can’t fake conversations if you know nothing about the subject, you can’t fake the knowledge of knowing how to play chess, or the piano, or everything else that has made me grow more fond of you every day.”
Charles didn’t reply, his gaze remaining on his lap, so Erik attentively sat down beside him, Charles’ frame leaning slightly away from him but otherwise not moving.
“Charles.” Erik began, but sighed, looking down at Charles’ hand. He raised his own, moving it slowly across to Charles’ lap and laying his palm across that smaller hand. Charles’ eyes seemed to grow sadder at the touch.
“You asked me the other day what I meant when I said you’d done something to me. Charles I…” he paused, giving the hand a small squeeze, his heart thundering in his chest, “…there’s no other way of saying it so…I’m in love with you.”
Immediately Charles looked up at him, eyes wide in obvious shock and disbelief.
“I know it…sounds stupid, so quickly,” Erik continued, “but it’s true. I love you.”
Charles’ breath seemed to be caught in his throat, his eyes wide and searching in Erik’s, before he parted his lips and said with a shaky voice, “You know nothing about me.”
“I know enough.” Erik replied, “And believe me there is nothing you could possibly tell me about yourself that would make me feel any different, no matter what it might be.” He tried to tell him through his eyes, stared back into those blue orbs, trying to make him see just how sincere he was. “And although I don’t like to guess, you said yesterday how you noticed how I look at you, well I notice how you look at me too.” Charles flushed lightly and a crease knotted at his brow, “I’d like to think that you feel something for me too, maybe?”
Erik had barely got to the end of his sentence when Charles pulled his hand out from underneath his and backed up a little closer to the headboard away from him, staring at him with such open and sad eyes, his head shaking slightly from side to side.
“I’m not your boyfriend Erik.” He whispered, and Erik’s thumping heart suddenly clenched, “Everything yesterday was an act, you know it was, and…and maybe having sex with you does feel good but that’s no excuse for how I acted, and it doesn’t mean that you are anything more to me than a client paying for my services. That’s it.  No matter how nice you are to me that is all we are and all we’ll ever be, and I fear I may have given you the wrong impression with my actions last night. I was drunk, I was feeling selfish, and it was a mistake.”
Erik stared at him, mouth ajar, words lost as he tried to pull up his heart from the depth it had plummeted to. “That’s not true.” He said quietly, “Charles, with what’s been happening between us, with what you said, what we did last night…you can’t deny this.”
He reached out to touch his cheek, a desperate movement, but Charles just flinched away, just like that first time in the bathroom, and Erik felt his throat clenching.
“I can Erik, because there’s nothing to deny. I’m paid to make people believe whatever they want. I could see how lonely you were here, you wanted someone to relate to, to love you, and it seems like I did too much of a good job.”
Erik stood up, turning away from Charles, anger and disbelief and an overwhelming sadness pumping through him, “No, no I don’t believe that, not for a second.” He said sternly, turning back to him, faced etched in a pleading expression.
“I’m sorry, Erik.” Charles whispered, eyes shining, “I can’t be what you want me to be, not for real.”
No, no there was no way Charles had been faking all this, it was impossible, he wouldn’t believe it! Not the looks, the hand holding, that small little kiss Charles had given him, the casual and easy conversations between them, the smiles, it just wasn’t possible to be fake all the time! It wasn’t! He…
…Charles couldn’t.
Not with last night, not with the desperate need in body and voice, he couldn’t fake that. Why would he fake that?
Erik tried to calm his breathing, realising he was getting far too flustered and needed to calm down.  He crossed his arms over his bare chest where he stood, closing his eyes for a moment and facing away from Charles.
He was never good at this sort of thing.
“Okay. Just…” he turned back to face him, keeping his composure, “Just let me have a shower so I can get ready for work. I have no choice but to go in so you might as well stay here for the day. You’ll be on your own so there’s no need to go just yet. Then when I get back we can…” He wanted to say talk, but the look Charles was giving him, a stern but somehow heartbreaking look, it stopped Erik in his thoughts and he changed his words. “…I can drop you off back home. Save you the walk.” He finished quietly instead.
He wanted to feel upset, but all he could feel was anger bubbling at the surface again, and he turned around to the wooden box on the shelf and took it down, emptying what was left of it onto the bed, “There, that should cover yesterday and today.” He hated how bitter he sounded.
Charles just looked at the money, then back down to his lap.
“Thank you.”
For someone who was denying any feelings Charles sounded far too forlorn, looking more like he was the one being turned down. But Erik was feeling too bitter to notice, and he walked into the bathroom shutting the door behind him with far more force than needed, Charles flinching at the loud sound.
Taking a large gulp of the strong black coffee he’d made himself, Erik leant against one of the kitchen counters and stared at the opposite living room wall with a rather remorseful expression, the sound of the shower filling the air now that Charles was using it.
Erik was dressed in one of his usual dark grey suits and navy ties for work, hair combed back neatly against his head, and now that he’d had a chance to calm down he’d realised what a childish fool he must have looked, pining after him like stroppy teenager as Charles rejected him. He knew in his heart Charles felt something for him, he just knew, Charles wasn’t the sort of person to go this far on a lie, even for all the money he was giving him, and especially as Erik was going to pay for his propranolol tablets. Which he was, regardless of Charles’ attitude towards him Erik cared about him, and if Charles was insistent he felt nothing for Erik, that he wanted to remain fucking other people for money then fine, that was his choice, it wouldn’t stop Erik from helping him.
That bitterness was back in his thoughts again and he sighed annoyed at himself, placing the cup back onto the counter. He would not give up on Charles, he would talk with him later, when Erik had re-grown the balls he’d apparently lost in that pathetic display.  Regardless of any lies Charles may have told him, lies he may have acted, it still couldn’t hide the person he was inside, and Charles was someone who needed someone to love him, just like Erik probably did, and Charles needed to realise that he was allowed to feel that way for someone. The shocked look in Charles’ eyes when Erik had said those three little words, it was like he’d said something grossly wrong and unforgiveable, like falling in love with Charles was a sin.  There was something deeper and darker under those blue eyes, because no one, not even those who sold their bodies for cash, were so emotionless that they could never fall in love with someone.  Charles had many emotions hidden under there, Erik had always believed since meeting him that he was far too nice and pleasant-hearted to be in the situation he’s in.
And besides, no one looked that sad when saying they felt nothing for someone else. Charles did feel something for him, perhaps it wasn’t love just yet, perhaps in Charles’ way of life he didn’t even really know what love was, but there was something there, and Erik would coax it out and show it to him.  He would wake up in Charles’ arms like that again, he would kiss him again knowing Charles wanted the kiss in return. He would show Charles just what love is.
Funny really, considering Erik himself hadn’t really known what love was until Charles came along.
The phone suddenly began to ring at the same moment the shower switched off.  Cursing the timing, not wanting to be on the phone when Charles walked out, Erik hurried to the handset.
“What?” he answered in his usual way.
A warm German-speaking voice responded, “Erik sweetheart! Just calling for a quick catch-up, how is everything?”
Erik sighed, happy to hear the voice of his mother but not so happy about the timing, and switching to German he replied to her, “Hello mother. Look I’m sorry this is a bad time, can I call you later this evening I’m…just in a bit of a rush this morning.”
“Oh yes yes of course, I just wanted to know when I’d be meeting this new boyfriend of yours.”
Erik stared into the air in confusion for a moment, wondering how the hell she…….ah. The annoying happy Americanised voice of Moira popped into his head, and his face fell, pressing his tongue to the roof of his mouth “Hmm, Moira works fast.”
“Phone call from her this morning.” His mother chuckled at him, Erik glancing at the bedroom door as a dressed Charles walked through, back in the cardigan he’d worn for a short time yesterday. “But don’t worry I won’t keep you, I’ll call again when you’re home from work, and then I want to hear all about this Charles.” He could hear the happy smile on her face, and Erik felt like his insides were clawing at him. Things were not as good as yesterday on the Charles front.
His mother had been an angel when Erik had come out to her, with all the sadness that had surrounded them both for years with his father’s death all she had wanted was to see her son happy, and when Erik had plucked up the courage to tell her at 17 all she’d done was hug him tightly and say, ‘Your happiness is all I care about Erik.’
“Yes…I will.” Erik replied, still watching Charles who only looked up at him briefly, and seeing Erik’s gaze on him quickly looked away again, getting a glass of water from the tap.
“Stay safe my Erik.”
“You too, mother.”
The phone clicked off the hook and Erik was left with the dial tone, so he slowly placed it back onto the wall jack, his eyes never leaving Charles, who now sat down at the table with his back to him. Erik checked his watch, he was actually running late now.
“You sound good speaking in German.” Charles murmured into the quiet room, taking a sip of his water and looking down at the table.
“Thank you.” Erik replied, a silent awkward aura stretching between them, “I have to go to work now, but just promise me you’ll still be here when I get back, please?”
He watched the back of Charles’ head as he nodded.
Charles.” He urged more sternly, because that was not a promise, and Charles nodded again.
“Yes.” he replied.
Erik got a bad feeling with that reaction, but there wasn’t anything he could do, he had to go. So what to do now?  Should he just walk out the door? Walk over to Charles and say something? How about a goodbye?
Erik took a hold of the door knob leading down to the stairs.  No, he couldn’t say goodbye, because somehow it would feel more than just a goodbye for the day. There was an uncomfortable atmosphere here and Erik didn’t want to ruin anything further by saying or doing something wrong, so deciding that distance was the best option for now Erik opened the door to leave.
“Erik!” Surprised Erik turned back to Charles who’d turned around in his chair to look at him, “I...”he paused, biting his bottom lip, before Charles took a small breath and smiled brightly at him, a smile that did not reach his eyes and that left Erik with a very uneasy feeling. “I’ll see you later then.”
Erik nodded silently, eyes lingering on Charles’ sapphire eyes, eyelids narrowing slightly at this strange air, before he finally turned back to the door, heading down the stairs, and wondered if when he got home Charles would really still be there or not.
The day could not have dragged on any longer.  Erik was looking at the clock on the bottom right-hand corner of his screen every 5 minutes, wishing for the day away. He smoked almost an entire packet of cigarettes during his lunch and afternoon breaks and was tempted more than once to call home just to see if Charles was there, until he realised Charles wouldn’t probably answer the phone anyway.
It had occurred to him at some point how he had not smoked once around Charles, perhaps a subconscious idea that Charles was ill enough already without his own second hand smoke, even though Charles smoked anyway.
By the time 5.30 finally came he shot out of his seat so fast he almost knocked over a woman coming the other way, precariously balancing a lot of binder folders across her arms. Throwing her a quick apology Erik was down the stairs in the car park in his car narrowly missing a Speed Camera and pulling into his driveway in record time.
Only with his keys paused in the front door did he stop.
If Charles was really unwilling to talk, then Erik would stay by what he said, that he’d take him home. But if there was a small chance, a small glimmer, a small look of confusion or doubt across Charles’ face, then Erik would do anything, say anything to make him believe that he loved him.  Charles was precious in a way he’d never thought he’d find in anyone. Charles was the only person in Erik’s entire life to make him smile so much that his jaw would start hurting.  Charles had an intellect and culture that even his living circumstances couldn’t prise out of him. Charles was, is, everything Erik wanted.
He just had to hope he was still here.
He turned the keys in the lock and opened the door, leaving his shoes at the bottom of the stairs and climbing up to the top door.  Pushing it aside he stepped through, eyes immediately sweeping the kitchen and living room.  There was no Charles at the table, no Charles sitting on the sofa, and certainly no piano music playing through the air. 
Trying not to worry Erik moved towards the closed bedroom door and knocked twice, “Charles?” he called out softly.  When there was no answer he opened the door slowly.  The bed was made, resting neatly and empty, and the door to the bathroom was wide open, just as empty as every other room.
He was gone.
Erik felt like every muscle in him had stilled, his breath gone, but before he could really comprehend that Charles had really left, Erik noticed the cash he’d been giving Charles was piled together on the bedside table, all of it, as well as with a long hand written note on an A4 piece of paper underneath a glass.
His legs feeling like an unwanted weight Erik walked to the bed and sat down, exactly where Charles had been sitting this morning, and pulled out the note from under the glass.
I really am very sorry that I’ve hurt you, but please believe me when I say I never meant to deceive you. You are right that I could not fake the conversations and the chess, I truly did enjoy your company, but that is where it ends. You were paying for me to stay, had you not paid I would have left, that is how my world works, I was not staying for your kindness.  I am however very grateful for that genuine kindness you have shown me, I really have never met anyone like you, you really were far too easy to be comfortable with. I will go to see Dr McCoy for my propranolol tablets but I will pay for them myself, which leads me to another point, of which I can’t accept the money you have given me.  You’ve bought me clothes, given me food and rest and pleasant company.  Exactly as you said you gave me a holiday, and I really do thank you for that. I have done nothing else to earn this money, to take it I might as well be stealing from you, and I won’t do that. You don’t deserve to be dragged down into my darkness.
I must make it clear though that we can’t meet again, and if I may please remind you of my rules that you must not come back to my home.  I am sorry that I led you on, that you felt the need to tell me that you loved me, because believe me if you did know of the things in my past it would certainly change your opinion.  I cannot love people, I can’t afford to, this is the lowest form of work there is I know that, but it’s the only thing I’m good at. Until I study and pass the GCSE exams to have some form of education there is no where that will hire me. Trust me, I’ve tried, so until then this is the only life I can live.
People like you are not meant to be with people like me. I am not deserving of someone who treats me like a human being, because I’m just a rat trying to survive and work my own way out of my situation. I do not trust easily, in-fact I rarely trust at all, but I must say by the end I did trust you, which is why I can trust you to stay away from me.
I don’t love you Erik, I can’t love you.
I’m sorry.
Erik read the letter through again, and again, and only on the 4th time did he place it gently back onto the table and sit there.  The thing that struck him the most, even more than the fact Charles never wanted to see him again, was just how little Charles thought of himself. A rat, not able to be in love with someone, it was so ridiculous Erik would have laughed if he didn’t feel like his heart had been ripped out.  He didn’t want to give up, he didn’t want to lose him, but he didn’t want to get him in trouble if he turned up at his door.  He remembered what Charles had said that first night, he remembered it was only through an agreement between Charles and this…what was his name, Shaw, that Charles could even have a roof over his head to work from.  He wouldn’t be responsible for getting Charles thrown out into the streets, mainly because even if Erik offered for him to stay, for Erik to pay for him to live here while he studied and got his education, Charles would turn it down. He could hear his words already “I’m not a charity.” His words in his letter also resounded the same line of thinking ‘work my own way out of my situation’.  The man had too much damn pride, he was walking the hardest route possible when there were so many much easier options if he would just let someone help him!
But now he was gone, and Erik had no way of contacting him.  Maybe…maybe he could wait in the park again? Maybe if he sat there long enough, one night Charles might come along. After all he said it was a good place for picking up people.
But would he ever go back there? Knowing that this is probably exactly what Erik was thinking?
Erik leant his arms on his knees and hung his head, before covering his face with his hands. Why was he so bad at this, why was it impossible for him to keep someone who for the first time ever he actually truly loved? Was he really destined to be the man people like to look at from afar but the moment they get to know him run for the hills? Was he going to be an old greying man still working in the same job at the same bank still meeting the same grey-haired Moira for lunch every same end of month?
That just depressed him further, and the fact he was now feeling sorry for himself depressed him further still.  His life was nothing to feel sorry about compared to Charles’. Here Erik sat, moping in his large expensive apartment while Charles’ life…well, where to begin.
Literally where to begin, he hadn’t exactly been successful in Dr McCoy’s suggestion of getting Charles to talk about himself. All he knew was he once had a sister who’d died (of what he never found out), lived a once rich lifestyle in New York and had a mother who drank a lot.  None of which explained anything of how he came to be here in England selling himself to survive for the past 10 years.
Erik sat up straight again and looked up at the ceiling in a helpless manner.  What was he going to do now? Charles had written he didn’t love him, but Erik was sure there was something there, there had to be, but now was he really never going to see him again?
The mobile phone inside his pocket suddenly began to ring, a plain classic ringtone, and letting his eyes fall shut trying to will away the tightness in his throat he took the phone from the inside of his jacket and flipped it open.
“What?” he said with a dejected sigh.
“Hello, is this Mr Erik Lehnsherr?” asked a professional serious male voice.
“Yes.” Erik sighed again, running a hand over his face and through his hair, wondering how long he could be bothered to listen to whatever this man was selling, just to be able take his mind of everything for a few minutes.
“My name is Dr Radwell, I’m calling from St Helier Hospital.”Erik opened his eyes, a crease immediately appearing on his brow. “I’m afraid there is no easy way to say this, but I have some unfortunate news about your mother.” The man paused, and Erik seemed to have stopped breathing entirely, “She took a very serious fall earlier this afternoon down the stairs in her apartment building. She was taken here to hospital but…I’m afraid, her injuries, mixed with her age…they were too severe.” Erik’s mind was fogging, his entire body still, his throat now clenching for an entirely different reason.
 “I wholly regret to inform you that she died a few minutes ago.”
The graveyard was beautiful, sunlight streaming through the new leaves just born from spring.  There was the smell of freshly mown grass around in the air, a blackbird singing away in one of the trees, and no other sound aside from the hushed murmurs of the small crowd of people now wandering away back through the cemetery to their cars in the road, all dressed in black, some concealing small sobs, Mrs Gray held against her husband’s shoulder as he rubbed her back gently.
The grave of Mrs Ida Lehnsherr now stood alone aside from one solitary figure, standing beside the freshly placed earth that had been moved only but a few minutes ago, and which now lay still. Erik stood there, his black suit and tie hot in the warm sun, looking down to the newly inscribed and clean gravestone, his mother’s name staring up at him like a cruel unwitting joke.  The service had gone smoothly, friends and neighbours attending, some others flying in from Germany at the last minute, and it really was last minute, for only 2 days ago had Erik been rushing home from work to see if Charles still there, having no idea his mother had probably died in those minutes driving home.
He wasn’t thinking anything as he stood there, hadn’t said a single word through the service, just looked down, always down, his mind blank and empty.  Moira and her husband had come along, she’d cried onto Erik’s shoulder, hugging him in a way one thinks to hug a bereaved person, but Erik had just stood there, neither saying nor thinking anything, just staring down.
Even now, when Erik’s solitude was interrupted as Moira walked back next to him, Erik still did nothing. They stood there in silence for a moment, Moira raising her hand to wipe at her eyes again, before she turned to look at her stone faced friend.
“You know you’re not as unemotional as you like to make people think you are. You haven’t cried, or even barely said a word since this happened.  When this hits you it’s going to hit you hard,” Moira’s voice was cracking, more tears gathering in her eyes, but these were tears for Erik, “and I would really rather be there with you when that happens.  Please come and stay with Joe and I, just for a while, I don’t like to think of you alone in that place, not since you said you broke up with Cha-“.  She stopped speaking quickly, not that Erik’s expression had changed at all.  Still he stared.
Moira watched him so miserably, her lips pressed together trying not to cry again, “Please Erik,” she asked again, taking a hold of his sleeve, “Come and stay with us for a while.”
She tried to tug at his arm, to get him to move, but instead he just turned to her, finally acknowledging her presence.  His eyes were tired, blank and shine-less, looking like he hadn’t slept since he’d found out about his mother’s death.
“Thank you, but I would much rather be on my own.” His voice matched his eyes, no emotion, just quiet words, like a robot, unable to feel anything. He pulled his arm gently away from Moira’s lax grip and turned to walk away.
“Erik!” Moira choked after him, but Erik ignored her, taking slow footsteps through the older graves as he headed alone back to his car.
Joe MacTaggart walked up beside his wife shortly after, “I take it that didn’t go as planned.”
Moira shook her head, watching Erik’s solitary dark figure in the sunlight, the tears that were gathering in her eyes finally falling down her cheeks, “I just wish I knew why Charles wasn’t here, what had happened between them.  You should have seen them together Joe,” she said, looking to her husband before looking back at Erik, “They were perfect together.  There was something strange about Charles but not his feelings for Erik, you know how good I am with that. I just don’t understand, he needs Charles more than ever right now, because no matter how Erik acts, I know…” she choked again and pulled her husband to her, eyes shutting as more tears fell onto his chest, “…I know right now he’s completely heartbroken.”
Erik couldn’t remember how he got here.  He didn’t remember driving to the park, though he supposed he must have done.  The feel of the wooden slats against his thighs and back were a welcoming and familiar feel as he sat on his favourite bench, watching day turn to sunset, golden pink glows fading to twilight blue, the shimmering lights from London turning on one by one as daylight turned to darkness.  The park had been busy when he’d sat down, but now there were only a few late stragglers left, following the windy pathway through the grass and trees to their homes. It wasn’t long before he was left in silence, in darkness, the warm air now turning to a nightly chill.
He sat perfectly still, perfectly upright, hands in his lap as he stared down at the twinkling lights below him.
And then it happened, just one tear, falling from the middle of his bottom right eyelid as he stared out into nothing. Then another, and another, from his left eye now, travelling down his cheek and dripping down onto his hands.  His eyes suddenly widened ever so slightly, and he blinked through his tears as he looked around, as if realising for the first time where he was. He looked to his right, where Charles had first walked in front of him, settling himself on the bench next to him with a knowing grin and a cigarette dangling from his fingers.  Erik turned his head slowly, as if watching that memory of Charles walk in front of him and sit next to him, eyes falling to the empty bench beside him.  He then looked up past the bench, to the trees where his umbrella must have blown away the other day, the umbrella he’d used to shield Charles from the rain as he’d sat right here, shivering and soaking wet in the cold.
Another tear fell, and suddenly Erik’s eyes were shining, the emotionless stare he’d had for two days breaking, a heart wrenching sob escaping his suddenly constricted throat at the emptiness around him. He leant forward, covering his face in his hands, resting his arms against his knees as his shoulders shook, tears dripping onto his hands and sliding down his arms as he sobbed uncontrollably, the tears falling one after another, seemingly unable to stop, the silent night air broken with his sobbing cries.
There were less and less people in his life to care about, and there was certainly no one here to listen to him cry.
To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 11
9 years ago…
It was a mark of the times on how no one helped. The few passersby did just that, pass by, very few looked at him, and if they did their eyes went wide before quickly ducking their heads, looking away, pulling their collars and scarves up around them to look busy in the snowy air, pretending the teenager who had walked past them was supposed to look so deathly pale, was supposed to be so thin that his cheeks were hollowed and his collar bone stood out like the edge of a knife, and that the dark red stains on his torn powder blue shirt must be ketchup or wine because after all the boy was walking, so he couldn’t be injured.
Everyone always ignores those living on the streets; it was human nature to pretend they weren’t there, so why should this boy be any different?
Charles wasn’t far off his 17th birthday, not that you could tell from his appearance. He looked so much younger, years younger, small and skin almost the colour of the snowflakes drifting gently around him. He walked, he didn’t know where, just drifted like the snow, knowing he had to keep walking, his frozen hands clasped into balls at his sides, his body too cold to even shiver now, just a walking icicle, walking, always walking.
His breath came in shuddering gasps, like wisps of smoke in the cold, lips once red but now pale like the rest of him, eyes fixed ahead of him though just as dull as the grey winter sky above him, darkening with every passing second as night drew closer. The dried red on his shirt had peeled in places, but some parts were too soaked into the fabric and remained there like a nightmarish reminder of what Charles was walking from.
He’d run at first, but he couldn’t run anymore, he didn’t have the energy to run.
He just walked, walked and walked, his feet numb, his hands numb, everything was numb, especially his mind.
He just…walked.
Every now and then he’d stumble, but not through an injury, not even through the lack of energy that came from not eating in so long he couldn’t remember what food tasted like, but through a different pain altogether. A pain that grasped his heart like a vice, causing him to stagger and tears to well in his eyes as horrendous images flashed across his mind. But he continued to walk.  He had to get far away.  He didn’t even know where he was now. He’d been walking along the pavement by the side of the road, but now the path had led into a park. He just walked. Past the trees, past the steep hills edge where London was laid out far beneath, past the benches, past the couple who walked hand in hand too engrossed in each other to notice him, past the tall young man on his mobile too absorbed in his conversation to see Charles, pulling his coat tighter around himself, even as they almost brushed arms as they past each other.
“…only bringing my mother to your wedding Moira you know that…”
On he walked, finding himself back on the streets. Walking, walking, he stumbled again and leant against the brick wall beside him, finally stopping in his walk. He just looked forward, snowflakes landing on his cheeks and eyelashes, shuddering breaths and now coughs racking his chest. He shouldn’t have stopped, now he’d stopped he couldn’t find the energy to move again.
Somewhere not too far ahead he heard a door bang shut, two large men standing outside it smoking cigarettes and laughing about something in deep voices. Charles stood there against the wall listening to them for a moment, eyes swimming out of focus, the voices pulling him like a string puppet as his legs somehow managed to move again, scraping his limp body against the wall as he heaved himself across it, his shirt catching on the bricks and ripping small holes in the thin fabric. 
The two men didn’t notice him until Charles was almost right beside them, one of them nodding to the other and then both looking towards Charles.
Charles tried to straighten himself up, tried to look normal and not frozen to the core, “Do either of you…want to-”
Charles didn’t even get to finish his weak sentence before one of the men placed his hands on Charles’ shoulders and shoved him harshly away, telling him to “fuck off ya wanker, clubs not open till 9.”
Charles collapsed back against the wall, the two men laughing at him before returning to their conversations.  Without looking back at them Charles moved forward against the wall again, walking his endless pointless walk, but only for a few short steps before he suddenly collapsed sideways, the brick wall he was leaning on disappearing into an alleyway.
He landed painfully on his hands and knees, thin limbs and weak bones complaining loudly, and now he was down he wasn’t getting up again.  He managed to crawl forward a few feet, brushing through the thin layer of snow on the ground, away from the men, away from all the people who were ignoring him.
Charles curled his legs under him and collapsed back against the wall, sitting there staring up at a door in front of him, the word ‘Frost’ embedded on the front.
A small tug of a smile tried to pull itself onto Charles’ lips, trying to find the humour between the word and the frost frozen to his hair.  The coldest winter in London on record, or so he’d heard from the television on display in the store window that he’d walked past a few days ago. He hadn’t even realised he’d been in London at the time.
He looked down to his legs, the faded jeans torn and filthy, more dirt than jean, splattered with dark red hand prints, his own hand prints, where he’d tried to wipe away that sickening red three weeks ago.  The memory brought fresh tears to his eyes, the heat stinging his freezing cheeks as they rolled down them.
He only thought the name, yet still his throat clenched, swallowing hard as more tears fell, before his eyes went wide when he saw his hands begin to tremble. Choking back a sob as he watched them, the trembling having nothing to do with the cold, he screwed his eyes tightly shut and buried his head to his knees, wrapping his arms around them trying to still his shaking hands.  He couldn’t cry for long, he was too tired, too weak, even to cry. He just sat, arms around his legs, hands trembling, alone.
He didn’t know how long he sat there for, but when he heard a warm voice say “Excuse me?” and he peered blearily upwards, there was a layer of snow across his arms, flakes falling from his head.
A man with chestnut brown hair was looking down at him, the door that held the word Frost open and teasing his frozen skin with waves of warmth.
“Would you like this?”
Charles’ eyes widened at the huge half baguette sandwich being held down to him, the smell of Caesar chicken and bacon bits filling his nostrils.  The smell suddenly made his stomach remember it hadn’t had food for a very long time, and without even looking at the man Charles reached out faster than he thought he could and took the baguette, taking large mouthfuls, biting chewing swallowing, then again and again, as fast as he could without choking.
“You poor thing.” the man said, taking off his long black fur collared coat and placing it around Charles’ shoulders, squatting down by his side, watching as he ate like the starving boy he was, “I know what you do.” The man said slowly, “You sell yourself don’t you? Would you like a place to stay? Somewhere to work from? I own an apartment building not too far from here; you’re welcome to a flat there, very cheap rates for you.” Charles finally paused in eating, swallowing the mouthful he had taken and blinking up at the man beside him, who smiled charmingly at him. “Because I can keep secrets you know, as long as you can keep mine.”
Somewhere in the back of Charles’ mind alarm bells were ringing, the distrusting part of him, the terrified part of him was screaming at him to say no, to just stay curled up in the snow and just die, die like his sister, just…let everything go.
But the sandwich, the teasing warmth leaking from the door, the kindness in this man’s hazel eyes.
Don’t trust him!! Look what happened the last time you trusted someone!!!
Charles moved one hand, clutching it at the red stained fabric on his shirt. It was his survival instincts, no matter how depressed he was, no matter how much he wanted to die, that kicked in.
……but I’m hungry.
It must have been a look in his eyes that told the man Charles had accepted, because his lips were too frozen to talk properly.  The man smiled and held out his hand, placing it over one of Charles’ across his knees, “My name is Sebastian Shaw, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
The warmth from his hand soaked into Charles’ skin like a liquid, his hand immediately moving underneath to hold it, curling his fingers around it like a lost child would do to its saviour. Charles prised his white lips apart, “Charles Xavier.” He managed to murmur, voice strained and barely audible.
Shaw smiled warmly, Charles unable to resist trying to smile back, a little bit of hope flowering in his icy chest.
Too weak, too desperate, too clouded with pain, too clouded with fear, Charles never noticed the odd glint to Shaw’s eyes, like he had known all along just who Charles Xavier really was.
Present time…
The bank had been kind to Erik, letting him take his annual holiday days at last minutes notice so he could stay home, mourn, take time to return to his normal self.  At the time he’d been very thankful, having no desire to spend his days sitting at his desk with people eyeing him and whispering behind his back, not knowing if they should say anything about the death of his mother or pretend everything was fine.  He’d been getting enough weird looks lately as it was.
Now though, he was beginning to think it might have been a better idea to just let him work, to have something to do rather than just sit in self-pity and depression on his sofa, which is what he’d been doing for the past four days.
He practically hadn’t moved from his slumped position on the sofa, feet up on the coffee table, watching hour after hour of day time television, evening television, middle of the night television, morning television, only interrupted by the biological need of the bathroom and trips to and from his now empty liquor cabinet, empty glass bottles of Vodka and Gin and Whiskey and whatever else happened to be in there now gone, strewn across his home just like the takeaway pizza boxes that dotted the kitchen counters and a few on the floor under the table. He hadn’t shaved recently either, heavy stubble darkening his already sullen face, his shirt half open and creased where he sat slouched on the sofa, uncaring about his appearance.
A week tomorrow would be when his mother died, and when Charles had left, and Erik was doing everything possible not to think about it, just numb his mind with television and hope in some pathetic way it would all just go away.
The only alcohol he had left now was a couple of bottles of beer that he’d found at the back of one of the cupboards, and so he now sat, watching entirely bored at the TV screen as he took a swig of his beer, sighing and rubbing his eye with the bottom of the bottle, eyes tired from too much alcohol and television and…other things that made his eyes red and puffy.
Moira had come round yesterday to check on him. She’d tried her “tough love” approach, telling him he needed to get out the house, needed to dig himself out of this depression for his own good, to stop wallowing in this hole and as tough as it would be to do just return to a normal person.  She’d asked him, again, what had happened between him and Charles.
“Nothing.” Erik had answered, “….apparently.” he’d added quietly on the end.
He sat there listening to her rave about getting back out there and finding Charles again, but she didn’t understand, she couldn’t unless he told her about everything, about what Charles was, and he wasn’t going to do that.
One thing he did appreciate from her though, although at the time just made him want to crawl further into his sofa and never leave, was what she’d said about his mother.  He’d told Moira before that his mother had called him the morning before she died, that she’d believed he was happy with Charles when in fact everything was going downhill rapidly and he’d been trying to get her off the phone as quickly as possible, all attention on Charles sitting at his kitchen table.  Moira had said to him quite simply that this wasn’t a bad thing.  There was no way he could have known what was going to happen that afternoon, and that no matter how short it was she still got to speak to him on her last day, and died believing that her son was happy, and reminded him that her very own words was that the only thing she cared about was Erik’s happiness.
At the time fresh tears had threatened to fall again, but they didn’t. Now he’d had time to calm down and think, Moira was right. She’d gone believing Erik was happy, and that was all that had ever mattered to her.  He still berated himself for not getting her to leave that flat and live in a bungalow or another flat on the ground floor, something with no stairs.  But she’d loved that flat, it was the same one they’d moved to when coming here to England, she’d said before she didn’t want to leave, despite getting on in years, so Erik had never bothered to mention it again.
Moira had refused to leave yesterday until Erik had made himself promise to her that he didn’t blame himself for his mother’s death. Mis-guided guilt was the last thing Erik needed added to his list and she’d glared so hard at him when he’d brought the subject up that it was the first time ever that Erik had been the one to cower slightly away.
He’d also promised her he’d tidy up his home and make himself look presentable again, and Moira had said she’d call the next evening to check that he had done, and that there was no use in lying because she could tell if he did.
So far though he still didn’t have the energy to move, just sat, mind numb and still a combination of drunk and hung-over.
He debated whether he could be bothered to get another beer or just sit here and slide further down into the sofa, when as if on cue the phone began to ring.  He turned his head to look at it on the wall, deciding no, he couldn’t be bothered to move.
The phone rang and rang and rang until it finally went to answer phone, and Erik’s deadpan voice of “Erik Lehnsherr, I’m not here, leave a message.” rang digitally from the phone before a nervous sounding voice began to leave a message.
“Hello? It’s um, Hank McCoy, I was just calling to-“
“Hello? Hank!”
Like a bullet Erik had shot up from his sofa and grabbed the phone, albeit steadying himself against the wall as the blood rushed to his head.  He’d all but forgotten about Hank and that fact he was supposed to call back with the results from Charles’ blood tests, and Erik wasn’t going to miss this phone call for any reason!
“Oh Erik! You are there!  I um…I’m sorry I couldn’t make it to your mother’s funeral.” Hank said guiltily, “Dad told me about it.”
Being her doctor and friend Dr McCoy Senior had been at the funeral, luckily falling on a time where no one had yet made any appointments with him at his surgery.  Hank however had been fully booked and unable to come.
“Thank you, and it’s alright.” Erik said quietly.
“Well, I was…I was just wondering if Charles was still there with you?”
Erik paused, “No. No he…went home.”
“Ah, in that case he’s not home at the moment either, I just tried calling the number he’d given me.  Turns out it’s a payphone down the hall, someone named Alex answered it, went to knock on Charles’ door to see if he was there and there was no answer.  I’ll just try again later.”
“Is he alright?” Erik asked quickly, mentally telling Hank to get to the point.
“Oh! Yes, I’ve tested for all the usual things, he’s quite healthy.  He does have rather low blood sugar though which I did suspect, and which does contribute to his shaking, and this was why I was calling him. I was hoping to make an appointment for him to come in tomorrow so I can discuss with him what he needs to do to up his blood sugar level, give him a few leaflets, that kind of thing. Just generally ensure he’s doing okay. How was he with you?”
Not a question Erik wanted someone to ask, “He was…fine. He stopped shaking after taking those tablets.”
“And did you manage to talk to him about himself?”
“Not really. Something about a sister he had that died, oh and that he used to live in New York, but nothing specific.”
“Hmm. Perhaps I should suggest a counsellor.”
Erik huffed, a small smirk to his lips “Hank, he couldn’t talk to someone who he lived with for 3 days, I doubt he’s going to sit there and spill his life story to a complete stranger.”
“Good point.”
“Listen Hank could you…perhaps do me a favour?” An idea had suddenly come to Erik’s mind. He didn’t know if it was a good idea, but desperate times called for desperate measures.
“Of course.”
“When you get in contact with him, if he makes an appointment could you call me back and tell me when it is?”
“Oh? Why?”
“Well,” how to put this, “Things didn’t exactly….leave on good terms between us, and I want to try and sort everything out with him, but with the funeral and everything…I haven’t really been able to see him again.”
Hank paused for a moment, conflicted, before finally answering, “Well, I shouldn’t really, but if not for you Charles would still be procuring those tablets illegally so…of course. I’ll call you back once I get hold of him.”
“Thank you Hank.”
A few hours later, when Hank called back giving an appointment for 2.30 Monday afternoon, Erik’s spirits were immediately lifted. He didn’t know what he was actually going to do, and he worried Charles may think he was stalking him by randomly appearing outside the surgery as Charles walked out of it, but he’d had enough of feeling sorry for himself, had enough of feeling alone, and one way or another he was determined to prove to Charles that there was something happening between then, no matter how much Charles denied it. He knew there was.
He hoped there was.
Erik certainly wasn’t going to deny that he needed Charles; even Charles had said Erik had looked lonely, and he was, of course he was. All he had to do was somehow coax Charles out of his shell. Maybe offer to buy him coffee, just sit in a café and talk, a neutral area, neither Erik’s maisonette or Charles’ bedsit, somewhere that Charles couldn’t feel threatened or trapped. Just to talk.
With a new warmth filling his veins Erik immediately got tidying his home, getting rid of the empty bottles and the take away pizza boxes, having a long shower and then staring at himself in the mirror, feeling the stubble on his chin, before plugging the electric razor into the bathroom socket and getting rid of the shadow across his face.
Again the phone began to ring, at about the right time Moira said she’d call, and Erik smiled satisfied to his freshly shaven face in the mirror before turning back into the living room towards the phone. He’d tided, just like she’d asked, the mother hen that she was.
Still, as he picked up the phone and her voice rang through the other end, he had to wonder. Wonder why yesterday just as she was leaving, she’d turned to him and asked what Charles’ surname was, and how old he was.  When he’d answered, too down to bother wondering why she wanted to know, the look in her eyes was one he’d seen before, one usually reserved for when she’d put clues together from a case in her mind, a blinding truth of realisation.
“Moira,” he interrupted her, “why did you want to know about Charles yesterday?”
“Oh,” Moira said, before she simply replied, “Just curious.”
2.30pm. It was 2.30pm the next day and Erik felt exactly like a stalker as he sat in his car parked at the side of the road waiting for Charles to walk into the surgery up ahead. He’d been trying to plan all night exactly what he was going to say to him, and so far hadn’t really come up with anything beyond “Hello, can I talk to you?” He still couldn’t decide if this was even a good idea, but he had no other choice, he had to talk to him, he had to mend this even if it just ended up being a friendship. He didn’t want to lose Charles, so for now, an offer of a coffee shop, an offer of peace between them.
He had to try again, if only to stop himself from thinking his mother died a week ago today.
So he sat, watching around himself as people went about their daily lives.  He checked his watch, and the more times he checked the further knitted his frown became, before finally at 3pm Erik got out of the car and headed into the surgery, asking at the front desk if Charles Xavier had come in for his appointment yet.  The woman had checked and said no.
He returned to his car, alert and worry pawing at his mind as he constantly looked at the people around him. By the time it got to 3.20pm, Erik was revving up his car, Charles’ rule forgotten, because if something had happened to him there was no way Erik wasn’t going straight to his bedsit to see if he was alright.
The apartment building was quiet now during the day, no music from any of the doors as Erik walked down the dull corridor towards number 18 at the very end, Charles’ bedsit.  He felt nervous, knowing he shouldn’t be here but not entirely understanding why.  Charles’ rule had been that no one return to his home because the landlord didn’t want any trouble with horny customers hanging around inside his building, but Erik wasn’t here to cause trouble.  Surely Charles was allowed to have normal visitors to his own home, it was his home after all.  There no was no way the landlord could possibly know he was here anyway.
Standing outside Charles’ door, trying not to think of worst case scenarios (perhaps he was just out… working) Erik raised his fist and rapped his knuckles twice across the door.  No answer.  Attentively he looked down the corridor before pressing his ear to the door.
“Charles?” he called in a loud whisper, but he couldn’t hear anything, and he realised these walls and doors were probably very thin which meant… Erik grimaced, which meant people around surely must hear what Charles gets up to in here. 
And what he and Erik did.
Hard against the wall.
Well, at least it was the wall that had no neighbour next to it.
Ignoring that realisation, Charles was obviously out after all. Perhaps he’d just forgotten about the appointment.  Perhaps he’d run from it. Charles was terrified of Hank, maybe the thought of being alone with him a room scared him away.  He should have said to Hank to say to Charles that if he wanted, Erik would have been more than happy to come with him.
That is of course if Charles would even have wanted Erik to come with him, which going by the letter he left was more than likely no.
So now Erik found himself staring at the closed brown door, wondering what to do, looking around the thin corridor wondering if maybe he could leave a note with a neighbour or…
Then Erik saw it. The tiny security camera to his right up in the corner.  Despite the fact this place seemed highly unlikely to really care about security, this camera wasn’t pointed down the hall. 
It was pointed directly at Charles’ door.
Perhaps it was broken and just slipping in place? Erik narrowed his eyes, trying to look like he was still looking at the door when his eyes were trained upwards towards the camera. Was the landlord really that concerned over people being here that he’d have a camera recording the movements outside Charles’ bedsit?  Surely there had to be something illegal about that.
Erik flinched in surprise and quickly turned around to see Charles behind him. The split seconds worth of automatic pleasure at seeing him there was doused by the second man standing beside him, a man he didn’t know, who was looking at him with a confused distrusting frown.
Charles still looked the same, although perhaps minus the healthy glow to his cheeks that was beginning to show living at Erik’s place.  He was wearing one of the white shirts Erik had bought him, unbuttoned almost half way, exposing rather a lot of skin and….Erik almost did a double take, his heart racing. Was Charles…
Was he wearing eyeliner?
What was he doing looking like this at 4 o’clock in the afternoon?
Charles bit his bottom lip, a bubbling anger to his dark outlined eyes as he glanced at his companion before walking forward and purposefully pushing Erik gently out the way of his door, refusing to look at him, unlocking it and smiling at his companion, gesturing inside his bedsit.
“Make yourself at home, I’ll just be a minute.” He simpered his words, blinking deliberately slowly and smiling that exact same smile that he’d given Erik when they met. One to tempt, one to tease, and it worked perfectly, the odd wary look the man had been giving Erik vanished immediately as he smiled at Charles, a smile that could only be described as a lusty leer, and walked into the bedsit.
So Charles had been working this afternoon. Strange, he thought he only worked nights, not during the day.  Erik felt torn between feeling upset, angry, sorry for himself (again), sorry for Charles that he was back doing this (again), and the smallest part of him understanding exactly why that man was looking at Charles like that, because Erik would have been too if Charles had dressed like this around him.
But as sexy as it looked, this was Charles plastered up to look the part, seduction. This wasn’t the Charles that had sat curled up in a dressing gown playing chess.
Charles closed the door gently behind the man before turning to Erik with a fierce glare in his eyes.
“What are you doing here I told you not to come here!” he whispered angrily.
“I’m sorry,” Erik hurried, unable to look away from those eyes, the dark liner making them brighter than ever before, that opened shirt teasing and tempting just like the smile, “I was worried that you didn’t turn up for your appointment with Hank.”
Charles’ eyes widened for a brief moment before he scowled even harder, “How the bloody hell do you know about that?!”
“I…” he really was looking like a stalker, “Look I asked Hank if he would tell me so I could meet up with you.  I really need to talk to you again, please, about the letter you left me.”
“I haven’t got time for this! Get out of here!” Charles threw his hand out down the corridor, never glaring at anyone so hard.
“Charles, please just let me talk to you.” Erik said gently, voice remaining calm, eyes flicking to the door behind Charles before saying, “I’ll wait…if you want.”
The glare in Charles’ eyes softened, the statement lingering in the air knowing exactly what Erik was referring to.
“Please.” Erik repeated, hoping he was getting through to him as Charles went silent, “I don’t want to leave things like they were, I need to… I just needed to talk to you again.”
Charles looked up at him, a sad confusion in his eyes, wanting to be angry, but somehow the momentum for it now gone.
“Alright,” he eventually said quietly, eyes flickering up to the security camera, “Is your car in the usual place?”
“Wait there then, I’ll come and find you…afterwards.”
Without looking up at him, his eyes suddenly downcast and almost looking shameful, he turned back to his door, “I might be a while.” He added quietly, before without another word or glance he opened the door, his customer waiting sitting on the edge of the bed. As Charles turned to close the door behind him he looked up at the last second, fixing Erik with a soulful stare, their eyes locked as the door closed slowly between them.
9 years ago…
“…only bringing my mother to your wedding Moira you know that…”
Charles stopped walking.  He blinked blearily into the cold air that whipped around his thin frame before he turned around, looking over his shoulder at the man that rich, attractive voice had come from. He watched, swaying a little where he stood, his legs desperately wanting to collapse underneath him and never move again.
He gazed at the man as he walked away, back to him, gloved fingers holding the mobile to his ear, another strong sharp gust of wind causing him to place one hand on the dark grey fedora hat on his head to make sure it didn’t blow away.
Charles didn’t really register that he’d stood there, watching until the man had gone, an odd warmth rising from his chest, before turning around and forcing his frozen legs to move again, walking away in the opposite direction.
To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

12 years ago…
There was a large rectangular empty room at the back of the Xavier Mansion; shiny dark panelled wood flooring, many wide mirrors hanging against the walls, sunlight that streamed in through the tall windows in long thick lines, and one large black grand piano in the far right corner.  It was a ballroom used for parties, not that there had been any parties in the household for many years now.  These days no one even went in there, aside from Charles and Raven, because Raven loved to dance around the large room while Charles played her favourite piece on the piano.
The piano was so big though, and Charles was so small for his age, that his feet could barely reach the pedals on the floor when he sat on the tall stool.  Raven had long since shot passed him in height, but then Charles had read somewhere that girls often got their growth spurts before boys.  He’d catch up with her one day, and then maybe finally she’d stop teasing him, as good naturedly as it was.
He was playing for her now at her request while she floated happily around the room, eyes closed and arms stretched out wide, bare feet quiet silent against the hard floor as she moved with graceful steps, the musical notes sounding louder as they echoed around the empty room.  She’d asked with a smile for him to play because “Making me happy makes you happy, you know that”, and right now Charles needed as much happiness as he could find.
His mother Sharon had passed away last week, and as much as the 14 year old Charles had denied that it had affected him, as his mother had been rather estranged ever since his father’s death, it hadn’t stopped him from moping around the mansion, looking even more lonely and small against the many large and silent rooms.
It hadn’t exactly been a pleasant death either.  Ever since Brian Xavier had been killed in an explosion in the facility he worked at when Charles was 6, Sharon had taken to drinking.  Bottle after bottle after bottle every single day, and finally a week ago one of the maids was heard screaming early in the morning, finding the Mistress Xavier dead face down in a pool of her own vomit having literally drunk herself to death, so many bottles scattered across the floor there was more glass then carpet.
Charles was insistent he didn’t feel sad. Numb a little perhaps, he’d lost both parents now, but his mother had never really done anything to be thought of as a mother.  She used too, a long time ago, but he had so few memories of that young age, of happy loving parents with not a burden in the world to bring a frown to their foreheads.  Since Brian’s death his mother couldn’t look at Charles anymore. He looked too much like his father, the same eyes, the same lips, there was very little of his mother in Charles.
Because of his mother’s excessive drinking there had always been one thing Charles had never understood, and that was why his father’s work friend, a Mr Kurt Marko, was the slightest bit interested in a woman who was drunk 24 hours a day.  His small naïve self never understood, but as he grew he began to see it all too well.  It was the money Kurt was interested in, and enough of it to play lover and then husband to the woman who owned it all.  Items began disappearing throughout the house, paintings, statues, anything with value, and if his mother ever suspected she did nothing, just drank, more and more, even when Charles would walk around the house with bruises on his face she turned a blind eye to her step-son Cain and his red-punched knuckles.
About the only nice thing she had ever done for Charles was when he was 9, and he’d found a small little girl in the kitchen, stuffing her face with food from the fridge and who froze like a deer in headlights when Charles had turned on the kitchen lights.
Sometime later it was revealed that the girl’s mother was a prostitute in New York who’d abandoned her, unable to do her job and look after a little girl that she’d never wanted to give birth to in the first place. Charles had lived a very sheltered life, he didn’t know what a prostitute was, but the little girl, Raven, she had a personality Charles had never encountered before.  She was only 8, but she’d had to grow up so fast, she had a fiery anger about her that just made Charles want to hug her and make all the bad things go away.
With nowhere for her to go but an orphanage Charles had begged, pleaded with his mother for her to stay, for her to be adopted here. She had agreed, though Charles suspected it was just so he had someone else to bug and not his mother, so he could go off and play away from her, so she wouldn’t have to look at him. A distraction to keep him occupied.
If that was true Charles didn’t mind, because he had a sister now, officially Raven Xavier, someone who didn’t punch him or look at him like she never wanted to see him again.  It took some time for Raven to relax, to realise she had gone from the streets to a very large expensive mansion, but eventually her smile returned, and it was always a smile directed at Charles.  Soon enough they were spending every waking moment together, playing and laughing, like the children they were supposed to be, staying away from the adults who didn’t want them, and the step-brother who eyed them like a piece of meat to be bashed around. 
Raven hated Cain, just for the way he looked at Charles.
For the first time in his lonely and secluded life Charles had a friend, a sister, someone to love and care for and someone who loved and cared for him in return.  They were the best years of his young life with Raven by his side. Charles had grown up so isolated from people of his own age, privately tutored so he hardly ever left the mansion, that there were no children for him to play with, just the servants, and as kind as they were to him they were not only adults but people paid to look after him, it was hardly the same.  Raven was his first everything, first friend, first family member who didn’t hate him for no reason, first person he’d smiled at since his father’s death.
“Aw play it again play it again!” Raven whined with a grin as Charles came to the end of her favourite piano tune, the final notes reverberating off the walls before becoming silent.
 Charles laughed and turned to look at her as she came bounding up to his side, “Why don’t you learn to play it yourself rather than getting me to do it every time?”
“Because I’ve got no interest in learning to play a piano, classical music is for nerds, like you.” She teased, poking her tongue out at him before kissing him on the cheek, Charles laughing at her again as she spun away from him back out onto the floor.
“Alright alright, whatever you want dear sister.” He smiled, placing his fingers back onto the beginning keys, “One day I will get you to play this though!” he called out to her, just as the double doors to the room burst open and the tall looming figure of Kurt Marko stood in the doorway.
“Charles, Raven. I need you in the East Wing drawing room!” he exclaimed loudly, voice echoing off the blank walls, standing there waiting for them to drop what they were doing and come to him.
Glancing a curious look at one another, Charles slowly slid off the stool as Raven walked over to him, taking his hand.  Kurt never wanted them, so whatever this was it couldn’t be good.  Charles tried to think back to anything they might have done wrong, but nothing came to mind. They always tried to stay away from Kurt.
They followed him silently down several hallways and finally into the drawing room, where Cain was splayed out on one of the armchairs playing on his Playstation, one of his many War games, for when he wasn’t beating up Charles he liked to beat up game pixels instead.  Kurt had walked around in front of the sofa and gestured with a sharp hand for the two of them to sit, which they did obediently, before turning to his son.
“Cain, get out and go to your room.”
“What, why?” Cain asked, eyes not removing themselves from the television screen as he shot down several monsters with a hooting laughter.
Cain flinched at his father’s raised voice, “Okay okay I’m going!” he said, reluctantly putting down the controller and shoving the system towards the TV with his foot, before giving Charles a sneering smile and walking out the room.
Raven had glared fiercely back at Cain’s smile. He’d never hit her, maybe because she was a girl, or more than likely because the one time he’d tried she’d twisted his arm painfully behind his back and refused to let go.  She’d lived on the streets, even from a very young age she knew how to defend herself, and knew how to use Cain’s bulky size against himself.
Now they were left with Kurt, pacing ahead of them in front of the fireplace.  Charles and Raven looked to each other again, a silent question of “what’s going on?” passing between them.  Kurt had never sent Cain out of the room before, whenever they’d done something wrong it was Cain’s pastime to stand there and smirk at them, Kurt never seeming to care he had a spectator.
Finally Kurt stopped pacing, looking up out of one of the windows with a glower before finally turning to them.  He stared at them for a moment, before taking a calming breath.
“I don’t have the time or the patience to be looking after children who aren’t my own.” He said sternly, “And as such now your mother has passed Charles you are the only thing standing between me and the money locked up in this house.”
“I knew it.” Charles whispered quietly, Raven glancing at him as his hand clenched tighter around hers.  He’d known all along of Kurt’s intentions, of why he never helped his mother with her alcohol problem, just let her drink herself to death. Money was the only reason Kurt was here. He hated him.  He’d never hated anyone before, not even Cain, for despite being the bully that he was he had no mother either, and Charles couldn’t quite bring himself to hate someone who probably missed a loving parent just like he did. He hated feeling angry, it always felt so wrong to him, but Kurt was the only one who brought out that feeling, watching him do nothing except tear what was left of his family apart.
Kurt narrowed his eyes at Charles’ quietly spoken words, before taking a few steps further towards them, arms crossed in front of him.
“I don't blame you Charles, it’s not your fault that nobody wants you, and as for you,” he said, glancing at Raven with disgust, “I don’t even know what you’re doing here. Neither of you are needed nor wanted here anymore.  I’d say I’m sorry but I’d be lying,” he glanced up behind them, his head jerking upwards in a small nod before looking back down at them, “but at least you’ll both be useful for squeezing out a little more money for me.”
Charles frowned, wondering what on earth he was talking about, before suddenly his vision was obscured as something was shoved down over his head. A black cotton bag.  His heart immediately leapt in panic, he heard Raven scream beside him and their hands released each other as both flew to the bags over their heads, and to the much larger hands holding them down.
“RAVEN!” Charles screamed out, voice muffled by the bag, squirming and fighting out against his captors just as he felt something jab into his arm, thin and sharp like a bee sting, an injection. He struggled in those foreign arms, trying to push away the hands that held him down, pinning his arms to the back of the sofa, his thighs to the seat, calling out Raven’s name again, but it was no use. 
Barely seconds later his eyes grew heavy, Raven already falling silent beside him, and as his eyes rolled to the back of his head and his conscious mind fell into darkness, he heard his step-father utter the words;
“They’re all yours doctor.”
Present time…
Erik paced by his car, cigarette between his lips, ignoring the odd looks from people walking by as his mind was conflicted on actions he should have taken.  Watching Charles close that door, looking up at him through the crack before it shut, his blue eyes swimming with something, some significant look, knowing there was that pervert of a client sitting on the bed behind him. Erik hadn’t known what to do, so just stood there, staring at the closed door before very quickly walking away not wanting to stand there and hear the actions that were about to take place inside, not with Charles, not with his Charles that he felt like kicking down the door and whisking him away.
Was Charles really just going to let that man fuck him knowing Erik was waiting for him? Was Charles going to turn up here, hair all ruffled, someone else’s hands having run through it, willing to talk yet knowing that only a few minutes earlier he was probably on his back or on his knees, some strangers cock inside him as he was fucked on the same bed Erik had first shared with him?
Erik grit his teeth so hard that he bit off the end of the cigarette, and he spat the whole thing to the ground before stepping on it.
But what could he have done?  Pulled Charles away by force? Kidnapped him?  Sure, that would have boded well with Charles’ trust issues, and then there was that security camera.  If that was Shaw keeping an eye on trouble makers outside Charles’ bedsit, then seeing Charles struggling against Erik would probably be exactly the kind of thing to get Charles kicked out. And once again it came back to the fact that Charles would probably rather stay on the streets than accept Erik’s help.
Erik lit another cigarette, pausing in his pacing for a moment and leaning back against the side of his car, taking a long deep drag, the smoke filling his lungs and filling his body with a sense of blissful calm.  At least until he blew it all out into the clear air, because then the image of Charles rocking against the headboard with someone else’s hands on his hips filled Erik’s angered and frustrated mind again, and a low rumbling growl rippled up his throat.
It felt like someone was twisting his insides, jealousy and anger coiling inside him like a snake, waiting to rear up and strike at the next person to even look at Charles the way that man had.
As he stood there smoking his cigarette so fast it was almost gone already, he suddenly spotted that same man exit through the alleyway that led to Charles’ building.  He looked flustered, angry in fact, and Erik watched him curiously as he headed over to a car further up the street, getting in and driving off at a fast speed.
Erik knew he hadn’t been back at his car for very long, surely…it wasn’t over that fast?
Erik turned to see Charles walking towards him, looking pretty much the same as how he’d left him, and the coiled snake inside of himself unravelled a little. He glanced back to the empty parking space and back to Charles, “Everything all right?” he asked, looking Charles over, his eyes focusing back on Charles’ eyes and the black eyeliner.  No ruffled clothing, no ruffled hair.
“Yes.” Charles replied simply, neither a smile nor a frown to his lips, “I apologised to him and said that something unexpected had come up.  He wasn’t happy but, he left without a fuss.”
“Why? I thought I was supposed to wait?” he sounded bitter again, jealousy was a selfish thing.
Charles just stared back at him, the tip of that pink tongue wetting his bottom lip before catching it between his teeth lightly, looking away from Erik to the car door, “Are you taking me back to your place? I don’t really feel like sitting in a car on the street.”
The avoided question hung in the air, but Erik wouldn’t press it. Yet anyway.
“If that’s what you want.”
Without looking back up at him Charles walked beside him and opened the passenger door, slipping inside and shutting it behind him, waiting. Erik glanced down at the closed door before taking one last long drag from his cigarette and throwing it to the ground with the other one, walking back around the other side of the car and opening the door, settling himself behind the wheel.
He had a feeling this was going to be a long and awkward conversation, Charles now adamantly staring out the window with his arms crossed waiting for Erik to drive.  Erik hesitated for a moment as he placed the key into the ignition, the question he’d come here to ask on the tip of his tongue.
“How come you missed Hank’s appointment? Was everything…okay?”
Charles continued to stare out the window, pushing himself into the door, “I was working, that’s all, lost track of time.” He replied quietly, and Erik noticed he wasn’t just staring, he was looking, eyes flickering across the street and the people, as though searching for something.
“Right. Good…I guess.” Erik paused, thankful it had been nothing serious but still, that coiled snake didn’t like the idea of Charles out there working again so quickly, not after everything they had shared together, “I was worried”. 
Charles finally turned to look at him “Are we going or not?”
This reminded Erik so much of the first time he drove Charles home, when he’d freaked out about the door locks, sitting there pressing himself into the door, defence up at its highest.  The crossed arms and the slight anger to the voice was the same.
Charles was nervous.  Erik didn’t want to make him nervous.
“It’s okay you know,” he tried to say in a reassuring manner, starting up the engine and pulling away into the road, “I’m just glad you’re safe.”
He didn’t get any response.  All he saw out the corner of his eye was Charles visibly relax after they’d pulled away, eyes leaving the people in the street and closing them instead, resting his head against the window suddenly looking exhausted.
Erik couldn’t get rid of the thought that perhaps Charles was looking for Shaw out in the street.
It felt strange, opening the door to the lounge with Charles following in behind him.  It was again almost like that first time, Charles looking like he wanted to be anywhere but here, but following Erik anyway.  The two had remained in silence on the journey over, Erik almost thought Charles had fallen asleep until he pulled into the driveway and Charles had immediately opened his eyes and got up out of the car.
It was just to avoid conversation apparently.
Now barely two steps into his maisonette and Erik could already feel that awkward, tense atmosphere, both knowing and dreading the conversation that was going to take place.  All the failed planning Erik had done in his car waiting for Charles to go in and see Hank, trying to plan how to talk to him without him running away again, Erik did not want to make this worse. He wanted Charles back, even if it was only as a friend, but much more preferable as a lover. He needed Charles to see he wasn’t alone, he needed him realise he was so much more than how he’d described himself in that letter. He wanted him to see just how much Erik loved him, but that was going to be a long shot for everything to fall happily into place in one afternoon.
“Do you want anything to drink?” Erik asked as the two of them stood there uneasily side by side.
“No thank you.”
Erik turned to look at him, that piercing blue stare aimed straight at him, framed by that simple black makeup. There were so many questions, so many different ways he could start this conversation, but the first thing that fell from his lips as he stared at Charles gazing back at him was:
“Why are you wearing eyeliner?”
Erik wanted to close his eyes and sigh in exasperation at his own question. That showed what part of his brain was in charge, despite trying to be intelligent and delicate about the situation.
 “For the exact same reason that you haven’t taken your eyes off me since I got in the car.” Charles replied, arms crossed back across his chest, “Which was quite a feat considering you were driving.”
So Charles had been secretly looking at him in the car, and as Erik thought about it he had been looking at Charles an awful lot while driving, always to those dark lined eyes. He was still looking at them now.  God how could a few black lines make it so impossible to look away?
“In case you hadn’t noticed I left all the money you gave me here, so I had quite a few days of work to catch up on to make up the money I’d lost.”
Jealousy, anger, Erik felt his fingers curling, wanting to ball into fists at the thought of all those faceless men.
But damn, those eyes.
 “It’s smudged.” Erik said softly, noticing the line at the bottom corner of Charles’ right eye was slightly smudged out to the side.  Without thinking Erik pressed the tip of his tongue to his thumb to wet it and reached out, Charles’ eyes widening ever so slightly as he pressed it against the smudge, gently moving his thumb across the pale skin, the smudge disappearing.
Although the smudge was gone Erik’s hand remained, his fingers brushing against the side of Charles’ cheek, lingering against the warmth and not wanting to move them just yet.  Just this small touch, this small warmth, it swelled Erik’s heart and he just wanted to stand here, this gentle touch, gazing into those sky eyes. Charles’ breath seemed to hitch, a pinkness dusting across his cheeks before he raised his own hand and placed it over Erik’s, gently removing it from his cheek.
“I told you, in that letter Erik, how I felt about you.” Charles said slowly, “I don’t love you.” He let go of Erik’s hand and it fell back to his side.
“Now you see I don’t believe that.” Erik replied, and Charles actually scoffed at him.
“It doesn’t matter what you believe,” Charles said, crossing his arms back over his chest and walking a few steps away, turning to look away from Erik, his gaze falling on the piano, “It’s true, whether you want to believe it or not.”
“Nor do I believe everything that you acted with me was fake.” Erik continued, ignoring Charles’ words.  “That evening with Moira, that was your idea. I didn’t once suggest for you come along, in fact I was against it. That was all you; you wanted to play the part of the boyfriend.”
Charles turned back to him, a small scowl in his eyes, “I wanted…” he immediately said, before he seemed to change his mind half way through and he let out a frustrated sigh, “Why do you love me?”
Erik raised his eyebrows at the sudden question, “What?”
Why do you love me?” Charles repeated, that scowl still there but somehow a frightened look in his eyes, “I’m a whore Erik, plain and simple, it’s not a pleasant way to categorise myself but it’s true. Do you have any idea how many people I’ve slept with in my life?  I’ve been doing this for ten years. Ten years!” he emphasised the words, pausing and trying to get Erik to see the magnitude of his life, “You’re a banker Erik, do the calculations of how many men that could be.”
Erik stared back at him, his face hard and serious, “I don’t care about that.” He replied, and he really didn’t.  It didn’t matter who had slept with Charles in the past, he just wanted him to look at Erik now, just Erik.
“Well you should.”
“Because it’s disgusting.”
Because I’m disgusting, that’s all Erik heard.  There was a pause between them, Charles looking away at the floor, fingers curling into his sleeve.
“You know that’s another thing Charles,” Erik began again quietly, “how you referred to yourself in that letter, saying that you’re not deserving of someone who treats you like a human being. That was the most ridiculous thing I had ever read.”
“But it’s true.” Charles said it so quietly Erik barely heard him, still looking down to the floor, his crossed arms squeezing tighter against his chest. He looked so fragile, so miserable, Erik just wanted to wrap his arms around him and shield him from his own life.
“It’s not true.” Erik replied just as quiet, “Not at all. If anyone deserves to be loved Charles it’s you, after everything you’ve been through-”
“You don’t know what I’ve been through.” Charles stared back up at him, eyes hopeless in their gaze, begging to come closer yet begging to let him go.
Erik could easily see how lost he looked, but he was also so fed up of Charles saying those words. “I would if you would just tell me.” He needed to know, he had to know what had happened to Charles to make him think so little of himself.
“Well that’s not going to happen.”
The two of them remained staring at each other for a moment before Erik sighed, running a hand through his hair and turning around, walking towards the kitchen and grabbing a glass from an overheard cupboard, filling it with water from the sink and gulping it down.
Charles was the most stubborn man he’d ever come across, what did he have to do to get him to accept his help, for him to believe and accept Erik’s words?  All Erik wanted to do was help and love him, what would it take for Charles to see that?
He put the empty glass back on the counter with more force than needed and turned back around.  Charles was still just standing there, watching him, eyes flickering between him and the floor, arms still wrapped tightly around himself.
“You want to know why I love you?” Erik said, stepping back out from the kitchen and walking straight in front of Charles, Charles looking up startled at the sudden proximity, “You are everything I have ever wanted wrapped up in one person. There is a kindness and innocence about you that even the way you live your life hasn’t managed to take away.  You say you’re uneducated but you’re the most intelligent man I have ever had a conversation with.  You’re gentle; you have a wicked sense of humour when you want and a matching smile that just lights up the entire room. And even stupid little things, like the chess and the piano, just…just everything Charles.”
There was a blush on Charles’ cheeks that been growing steadily more pink the longer Erik spoke. He was looking up at him like he’d never seen him before, eyes wide, breath hitched in his throat.  It was an expression that clearly said no one had ever said those things to him before, and Erik couldn’t help the small affectionate smile on his own lips, one tinged with a little sadness but really just too happy to finally be saying these things out loud, finally perhaps reaching Charles. He raised his arm, placing the back of his fingers against Charles’ cheek again, Charles obviously swallowing hard as he did. “I am madly in love with you Charles,” Erik said softly, quietly, words he had never spoken to anyone else before, for he hadn’t really ever been in love before, “there’s no other way I can put it.  So just tell me what I have to do to make you see that.”
Charles seemed to be frozen to the spot, staring up at Erik taking slow, deep breaths, flickers of both want and fear in his eyes as Erik’s fingers trailed down his cheek before gently tilting his chin up just a little bit.
“Tell me.” Erik whispered.
He could see the battle taking place in those blue eyes, so he waited, trailing his thumb across Charles’ jaw line where he held his chin.
Charles swallowed again, “I do see that.” He said quietly, “It’s difficult not to, with the way you act around me.” He brushed aside Erik’s hand and took a step back, looking away to the side again with a puzzled frown, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose. “And maybe….maybe there is something about you that I…..”
Erik’s heart leapt in his chest, the first good sign from the confused Charles.
“…I can’t do this.” Charles finished, looking back up at him, voice cracking and those eyes back to looking miserable and pleading, not wanting to do this.
Erik stepped quickly to him again, his mind taking that one little confessed hint and squeezing it for all its worth, placing one hand on Charles’ bicep, “Why not?”
“I told you why in that letter,” Charles said, leaning away from his grip, “this is the only source of income I have until I get my education.”
“Then stay with me, stay here!” Erik exclaimed, wanting to have said this to him for ages, “I have more than enough money for two people to live here. Stay here, study, get the qualifications you want get the life you want!”
It wasn’t having the desired effect though, as a glare just grew on Charles’ face at his words.
No!” Charles shouted at him and pulled away from his arm, glaring at him as he turned and walked quickly to the other end of the sofa away from him.
Erik felt like screaming.
“For heaven’s sake Charles forget your pride just let me help you!”
Pride?” Charles turned to him again, that glare now definitely firmly in place, “This has nothing to do with pride!  Do you think I’m living the hardest possible way to live my life by choice?”
“Well that certainly seems to be what you’re doing!” Erik shouted back at him, patience had never been a quality he was good at, “Why won’t you let me help you then? Are you that desperate to be fucked by people?”
For a split moment Charles’ glare vanished and his eyes went wide.  Erik deeply regretted the words the moment they left his mouth, but before he could apologise there was another glare that appeared in Charles’ eyes, one far fiercer then Erik could ever have imagined on his face, and watched as Charles walked briskly forward, raised his arm and slapped Erik hard across his left cheek.
Erik’s head snapped to the side at the force, silence in the room save for Charles’ hard breathing through clenched teeth.  Erik didn’t move his head for a moment, just bit his tongue lightly, his cheek stinging.
“Okay…I deserved that.” He said quietly, moving his head to face forward again and suddenly feeling very small under Charles’ piercing furious glare. At least the slap had knocked the growing frustration over Charles out of him.
“You know NOTHING about me Erik!” Charles yelled at him, hand swiping in front of himself in a harsh downward movement, “Nothing! You have no idea what’s happened to me!”
The frustration soon came back though, and Erik matched Charles’ glare with one of his own, “Then Charles tell me! You said in that letter that if I knew about your past it would change my opinion about you. So fine, tell me! If you think it would really make me hate you that much then tell me because it’s the only way you’re going to get rid of me! Until you give me a good reason I am not giving up on you.”
 “Stop it!” Charles yelled at him, distress in his voice as he walked away again, back turned to Erik, but Erik wasn’t having this.
 “Why?!” he demanded loudly, and Charles flew back around fixing him with a very pissed off stare before exclaiming;
 “Because you’re ruining me Erik!!”
Now it was Erik’s turn to look confused, his glare melting away as Charles tried to steady his angered breaths.
“Every night every day this week I have been out on those streets and every time I have come back alone, because every time I see someone that I think I could approach something holds me back, and it’s always you!” he said the words fast, tumbling from his mouth as Erik just stared at him, eyes widening at his words.
“All I can see is you, and the way you…” he paused, looking and sounding terribly distressed and angered but…a blush was creeping back onto his cheeks, “the way you touch me, the way you look at me, treat me, everything! All I can think of is you all the time, and then the thought of being with anyone else…” he trailed off again, expression scrunching in disgust, “…it sickens me, of someone else touching me it just….” His eyes were shining and he looked away from Erik, running both hands through his hair as he turned away again, hunching in on himself as he clutched his head through his hair.
Erik just stood there, barely breathing, barely thinking, afraid that if he moved or made a sound Charles would stop, would just walk away, would start denying everything he just said.
“That man you saw with me,” Charles began again, voice calmer as he turned back to him, hair ruffled from where his hands had been gripping it, “he was the first person in a week that I had managed to convince myself to sleep with, telling myself that whatever this was, it was over, and it was stupid to be pining over you. I needed to get the money for food. But then you just show up out of the blue, ruin everything and I couldn’t do it, so I told him to go.  So you tell me how on Earth I’m supposed to get any money if I can’t sleep with anyone because every time all I want is you!?”
His exhausted breaths were the only sound as he finished. Shaky breaths, terrified breaths, fearing Erik’s reaction.
Erik felt as though someone had told him the entire world was about to be destroyed, but at the last minute there was a safe place for him to hide and survive.  The slow smile that grew on his face, the lightness in his head, Charles’ words reverberating around his memory, the confession that Charles really had felt something for him all along, it was just…he couldn’t believe Charles had just said all that.  After all his constant denying he’d just blurted it all out like he’d been waiting for it to explode.  He wondered if Charles even realised what he’d just said, and as the smile grew even wider Erik just released a single breath;
“Oh Charles…”
Charles bit the inside of his bottom lip, looking at Erik like he didn’t know what do to next. “I don’t even understand what I feel for you.” He whispered quietly, “All I know is that I don’t want to tell you about my past because I don’t want you to hate me.”
As they gazed silently at each other Erik took those few steps towards Charles and immediately engulfed him in his arms, holding him tightly against his chest, one arm wrapped around his waist, the other across the back of his shoulders, his hand cradling the back of Charles’ head threading his long fingers through his hair. He could feel Charles’ breath on his neck, and although Charles stood a little awkwardly and stiffly he didn’t pull away from the embrace, and even wrapped his arms attentively around him.
“I told you before that no matter what has happened in your past it’s not going to change the fact that I love you now. Even if…” Erik paused, wondering if his next phrasing was right, before deciding it was the only way to get across just how serious he was, “…even if you told me you’d killed someone, it doesn’t matter. That was the past, this is now, I see you as you are now and that is who I’ve fallen in love with.”
Nothing happened for a moment; they just stood there, embraced, until Erik felt Charles try to pull back a little so he loosened his arms so Charles could look up at him.  There was a small frown to his eyes, a calculating curious gaze as he looked up into Erik’s ever-changing coloured eyes.
“You’re serious…aren’t you?”
“Yes.” Erik replied simply.
Charles continued to gaze up at him uncertainly, before a very small smile tugged at his lips, “Well, it’s not quite as bad as murder.”
And suddenly Erik felt his heart swell again, smiling back at that one tiny little smile that seemed to give permission for the awkward conversations to lift, the slap to be forgotten, the angered glares to be forgiven. Suddenly things were going in the right direction, Charles still confused and scared but at least now admitting he does feel something for Erik, even if he doesn’t understand it.  Erik could appreciate that, living a life where Charles did nothing but give himself to others, hiding who he truly was from everyone he ever met because it was his “job” to fulfil their fantasies, to be whoever they wanted him to be. He probably wouldn’t recognise love even if it was standing right in front of him.
Which it was.
“You’ve spent your life giving everything to everyone else.” Erik said softly, “If you could have anything, any completely selfish thing right now, what would it be?”
Charles looked a little curious at the strange question before seeming to think about it for a long time, head lowering a little as his eyes darted in thought.  Erik just watched him, happy to stand here holding him, just so glad for him to be here at all.
“Aside from having my sister back?” Charles eventually asked as he raised his head again, his cheeks having strangely reddened in the time passed as Erik nodded.
Charles bit his bottom lip, his eyeliner smudged again from the earlier wetness in his eyes as his confused confession had come spilling from his mouth.  He looked up at Erik, eyes darker with slightly blown pupils, before he reached up on his tiptoes and slowly, very slowly, pressed his lips to Erik’s.  Erik didn’t move, didn’t know if he was allowed to, just stood, Charles’ warm lips moving softly against his own.  It was over very quickly, another chaste innocent kiss from Charles as he pulled back, cheeks still red, looking up at Erik with that same shy and fearful expression of Erik’s reaction.
“To have someone holding me just like this. Not after sex, not after anything, just…holding. No one ever just hugs me.” He tried a small, quick, embarrassed smile before he couldn’t look Erik in the eyes anymore and so looked forward to his chest, leaning his forehead on his shoulder. “I’m sorry, that’s rather pathetic isn’t it?”
Erik just chuckled lightly, delightfully tightening his arms around Charles to keep him closer, to mark his wish, “No, it’s beautiful.  I just hope you’ll let me be the one to hold you whenever you want.”
Because he would, night and day, he’d never let go if that’s what Charles wanted.
At his words Charles seemed to go stiff in his arms again, his hands clutching small handfuls of Erik’s shirt where they rested against his back. He moved his head so his cheek was resting against Erik’s shoulder. “Erik, the reason…the reason I’m so reluctant to let you help me is because I met someone like you before, about 9 years ago.  Someone who wanted to help me, gave me money, even bought me clothes, just like you.” Charles’ arms tightened around him, Erik frowning in a rising worry.
“What happened?”
Charles slowly raised his head and looked at Erik squarely in the eyes, biting his lip again as though trying to decide if this was a good idea, if this was the first step into spilling everything.
“He killed my sister, and very nearly killed me.”
Erik’s face fell, eyes widening.
“I escaped and when I ran, leaving my sister behind, I walked for weeks. I didn’t eat, barely slept, just walked as far away as possible.  I don’t know if I was trying to kill myself or not, I don’t really remember, but it was certainly the lowest point in my life. Eventually I collapsed, and that’s when Shaw found me. He gave a place to live, introduced me to Emma who diagnosed me with Essential Tremor, and got my tablets for me. I kept his secret of his black market drug dealings while he kept mine of still working the streets, but only on the condition that he got to fuck me too.  Seemed like a decent price considering I now had a roof over my head and medicine that I desperately needed. I didn’t even know what had been wrong with me before then, why I would shake, it used to terrify me.  But I still couldn’t get it out of my head that even though Shaw was helping me, he was still using me, still fucking me still hurting me, just like everyone else.  I’ve grown up believing that people who are nice to me always have an ulterior motive, they always want to hurt me.  That’s why I didn’t want your help, it’s why I don’t trust people, it’s why I’m better off on my own where there’s no one to hurt me anymore……….Erik?”
Erik blinked, his closed eyelids forcing the tears gathering there to drop, two of them, sliding slowly down his cheeks.  His heart was clenching, more and more from every word that Charles spoke. Losing his sister to a murderer, almost committing suicide, then helped under the pretence of still being used and abused….no wonder Charles was so reluctant to come home with him even in that rain, no wonder he had flinched away from him in the bathroom, no wonder he had apologised so quickly after being caught playing on the piano, scared that he would be hurt for doing something he shouldn’t be doing, and…oh God, what had been going through his mind when Erik had brought back those clothes? Offered him all that money? No wonder Charles had been refusing to take it for free.
Charles stared rather shocked at him, before Erik suddenly let go of his tight embrace that had been growing tighter the more Charles had spoke and cupped his face, his thumbs running gently across Charles’ cheek bones.  He looked intently down into Charles’ startled eyes with a fixed, deep stare.
“I would never, never, hurt you Charles, do you understand? Not for a second.” his voice was shakier then he’d realised, “I would rather bring myself to deaths door then think I had ever hurt you.  All I want to do is love you, that’s all. I don’t know if you can understand that but, please….…I just want to love you, not hurt you.”
To his relief and surprise, Charles just smiled, “I know.” He said, taking Erik’s hands from his face so he could talk, Erik instantly wrapping them back around his thinner body, “That’s why I wrote in that letter that I trusted you, even though it went against everything that I had learnt, every instinct, there was just…something about you.  Somehow, I knew…I knew that you wouldn’t hurt me, but it would hurt you to be with me, not without knowing about my past.”
“Will you tell me then?” Erik asked, praying that please, let that be the last time he had to ask, let Charles trust him enough to believe that Erik wouldn’t hurt him, that his love for him wouldn’t change no matter what had happened.
Charles closed his eyes, lowering his head and breathed in deeply, Erik noticing his body tremble a little as he exhaled.
Those blue eyes found his own once again, along with a small nervous smile, “Only if you make me a cup of tea.”
To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

12 years ago…
It was dark, pitch black in fact, no windows or lights to illuminate the vague faint outlines of the other bunk beds and the six other young teenage boys, huddled in them under the thin blankets.  Only when they were fed, or led out into the hallway to use the bathroom facilities, were the lights ever switched on, otherwise it was like they were forgotten, ordered not to make any noise, just remain silent, still, and always obedient.
As far as Charles could tell they were all on a ship, at least he presumed so the way the room would occasionally sway, and he was sure he could sometimes hear waves somewhere in the distance. Other than that there was nothing, just darkness and the occasional quiet cry from one of the boys, and Raven’s warmth next to him in the bed as she clung to him. 
He’d woken up in this bed, remembering nothing since he was taken from the Mansion.  He’d heard Raven calling out his name in the dark, above the frantic cries of the others here who were apparently all waking up at around the same time. His mind had felt fuzzy from the drugs he’d been injected with, but he called out her name in response. It was so dark he was unable to tell if his eyes were open or not, but Raven had followed his voice and literally lunged at him, clinging to him and crawling under the covers with him, hugging him with so much force Charles almost couldn’t breathe. She was so relieved he was here and un-hurt. 
Neither of them knew where they were, who had taken them, or why they had been taken.  All Charles knew was that this was Kurt’s doing, and that wherever they were going it seemed doubtful he was going to see home again. Kurt had taken everything, his mother, his home, and now his life.
But Raven was here.  He didn’t know if that was a good or a bad thing but at least he wasn’t alone, and despite the constant worry and fear gnawing at his mind her warm presence kept it all at bay.
They’d been here for five days, as far as Charles could tell by the meals they received, and yesterday they had all been dragged to a bright white room one by one where a tall slender man with thick shoulder-length black hair had simply taken their photograph.  Charles had stood there, eyes tender and blinking in the bright light, not knowing what was going on and unable to really see the other man in the room behind the photographer, silent and watching as Charles screwed his eyes shut at the bright flash from the camera, before being dragged back to the dark room again and thrown back into the shadows.
Charles inhaled deeply where he lay on the bed and looked up at the bed above him, empty as Raven was next to him.  He wondered if the fog horn he’d just heard in the distance signified they’d arrived at their destination.  He hugged Raven a little bit tighter.  Who were these men? What was going to happen to all these children?
Who was the doctor Kurt had mentioned?
Present time…
The two of them were sitting on the sofa, Charles curled up in the corner, back slightly turned towards the armrest, legs crossed in his lap and cradling a large mug of hot tea in his hands. Erik was beside him at the other end, turned towards him, one arm out across the back of the sofa. It was only a small two-seater sofa, so Erik’s hand rested near Charles’ head.  It was as close as Erik dared to get as Charles seemed to cling to his tea like a life-line, eyes not leaving the mug, upright and tense and wary of Erik sitting so close, even though he was pushed right back against the other armrest. 
When they’d sat down Erik could see his closeness was making Charles uncomfortable, wary of the story about to be told and perhaps despite what had just passed between them Charles wanted his space for this. So instead Erik suggested that he get one of the chairs around the table to sit on.  When he’d gone to rise from the sofa Charles’ hand had shot out to his arm, grabbing a handful of shirt. 
He didn’t look at him, just said “Please stay.”
Charles seemed to neither want him there nor want him to go, so Erik compensated by staying at the other end of the sofa, just turned to listen, his hand across the back of the sofa there in a gesture that if Charles wanted to take it, he could.
“Okay well, starting from the beginning would be a good idea I suppose.” Charles let a weak smile onto his lips, nerves obviously high. 
Erik had no idea what to expect, all he knew was that his own breathing had slowed and stilled, as though the very sound of it might interrupt Charles and he’d stop.
Charles took a deep settling breath, looked back down at his tea, and began his story.
“I used to live in a large estate in New York, a very big mansion, acres of grounds, servants, you get the idea. My father died when I was very little. My mother re-married but…” a darkness fell over his eyes at the memory, “the man she married was only after the money in the house.  Kurt was his name, he already had a son from a previous marriage named Cain. He used to hit me a lot.” Another weak smile, as though this small piece of bullying in his life was so insignificant compared to everything else had had happened. “My mother pretty much ignored me thereafter, but one evening I caught a little girl trying to steal food out the kitchen, she looked ever so hungry, and she didn’t have any parents either so my mother adopted her, just for me, about the only nice thing she’d ever done for me since my father died.” For the first time a true smile came to his lips as he looked up at Erik, “Raven became my little sister, just under a year younger than me. She quickly became everything to me; I loved her so very dearly. She embodied everything I had never had from another human being and everything that I needed.” The sunny smile soon faded though, and he slowly looked back down at his tea before taking a quick sip.
Erik had listened very quietly.  So he and Charles had something in common at losing their fathers at a young age.  His own mother had never re-married, she’d given up her whole life to Erik to make sure he grew up as a loved boy.  He used to feel guilty at that, but when he’d asked one day why she had never found anyone else she had simply smiled, cupped his face and said that he was the most important thing to her, and she wouldn’t let any other man change that.
He hadn’t told Charles about her death yet.
“Despite remarrying my mother was very depressed,” Charles continued, “she drank a lot, all the time, and when I was 14 she finally killed herself with alcohol poisoning. It was then that Kurt…” Charles paused, taking a deep shaky breath as he gathered his words, “Kurt sold Raven and I to a doctor working in human trafficking.”
Erik’s breathing almost completely stilled, his mind absorbing those horrifying words. His lips parted in disbelief, eyes widening, some form of shocked words on the tip of his tongue but his mind too stunned to think.
“I was the only thing standing between him and all the money in my name, so with me gone, presumed missing to everyone else, he would have the estate.” Charles ran his thumb along the handle of the cup, unable to look at Erik, head lowered and voice quiet and forlorn. “We were kidnapped, drugged, and when I woke up I was on a ship going across the Atlantic with Raven and about…six other boys.”
“My God…” Erik whispered incredulously, staring at Charles with such intensity it was though if he looked away the whole world around them would break apart. “What kind of human trafficking?” he dared to ask, never knowing his voice could speak so silently, “Was this slavery or…?”
He couldn’t finish his sentence, didn’t want to finish his sentence, didn’t want to say the words that had formed clear at the front of his mind.
Charles bit his bottom lip, “It was for Raven.” He said quietly, “In a way she was almost the lucky one, because for the rest of us…” he trailed off as he took another breath, seeming to sink further back into the sofa, “You see I found out at a later date that although the doctor had paid Kurt for me, Kurt actually had to pay him to take Raven away. The doctor only dealt with boys, but when we got to England he used Raven as a carer, to look after us all after they were done with us.”
It was as though ice was running through Erik’s veins, “What do you mean done with you?” He wasn’t stupid, he suspected, suspected a horrific situation that he prayed, prayed to any God out there that he was wrong.
Charles looked back up at him, eyes swimming with un-wanted horrendous memories.  He bit the inside of his bottom lip again, a nervous habit it seemed, and stared at him as though trying to telepathically get him to see what had happened without having to say it aloud.  He’d never told anyone about this, never said a word, and it was beginning to make him feel very vulnerable.
He took a small trembling breath, and then another, “It was sex slavery for the rest of us.”
The ice in Erik’s veins reached his heart as his entire body seemed to freeze, his growing horrid suspicions brought to truth. Charles’ voice was constricted, barely a whisper, and Erik felt his stomach lurch. “You were fourteen…” he whispered in revulsion through a set jaw, anger boiling up towards to a faceless doctor.
“I don’t think that was really a concern of his somehow.” Charles smiled that weak smile again, and Erik hated it, hated that he was forcing himself to smile, “I was the youngest one there, the others were sixteen, a few fifteen. The place we all ended up in was actually quite nice.  We all had our own rooms, they were like…posh hotel rooms, mine was red and gold. Lots of drapes.” He added mindlessly, “We weren’t allowed to leave the rooms, they were locked, only the guards outside had the keys. We ate and slept in those rooms, and Raven, along with a man named Janos, would look after us all. Raven had fought back at first, but after a while I would see bruises on her face and arms and I told her to stop, it was pointless.  They weren’t using her for sex and she shouldn’t give them any reason to.  The last thing I wanted was to have Raven abused like that, she was barely thirteen.”
“What happened to you and the others?” Erik asked softly, trying to calm the melting pot of anger and loathing towards Charles’ situation so he could let Charles continue.
“The doctor would sell us to clients and they’d…come into our rooms.” Charles seemed to decide to phrase that delicately, not needing to explain exactly what happened in those rooms.
“But it wasn’t just sex, this doctor, he liked to experiment with drugs. I suppose…date rape drugs would be an accurate description.  He’d order Janos to inject me or any of the others with whatever he was working on and then send a client in.”
“It’s not as bad as it sounds!” Charles quickly said at the anger in that one word and in Erik’s face, “I liked it when they did that, because no matter what anyone did to me I never remembered it afterwards, it was almost a blessing.”
“Who was this doctor?!” Erik asked, continuingly failing to keep the rage out of his voice.
Charles shrugged lightly, “I don’t know, I never knew. I only ever saw Janos and he very rarely spoke, but when he did he only ever referred to him as the doctor.  To this day I have no idea who he was.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Long story short I was captive there for almost two years.”
Two yea-…?” Erik gaped again, before rubbing a hand over his face, peering at Charles through his fingers before resting it back along the rear of the sofa, subconsciously reaching closer to Charles.
This was far worse than anything he was imagining, he couldn’t think, all he could do was sit there and absorb Charles’ words.  This was the kind of thing you’d hear about on the news, kidnapped children sold for human trafficking, and you’d sit there and feel so sorry for them, but then get up and eat and go to work and do your normal day to day things because there was nothing you could possibly do to help them. You’d put it to the back of your mind, your normal daily worries overtaking something so far away and unimportant in your own life.
 But now here was Charles, someone who had lived through just that, someone who had been used and abused and stripped away from his life and thrown in with the wolves.
“I’m just grateful that with a mixture of the drugs and…well, I suppose with it being one of those traumatic things that happens in life that I really don’t remember much about it. I do remember some bits, like being terrified at first…and the pain,” he added quietly, looking away down to his now barely lukewarm tea in his hands, “but unlike the other boys who were there alone I at least had Raven.  She was the one thing I clung onto to keep my sanity.  She’d come in afterwards to clean me and look after me, and she’d just hold me.  Eventually I learnt to stop being terrified, learnt to control it, to give the clients what they wanted because then it would be over quicker, would be less traumatising if I just accepted what was happening and did what they wished, and then have Raven come in.  She and Janos helped all the boys but Janos would always try and let Raven be the one to come in to me.” A small wistful smile graced Charles’ lips, lost in a memory, “He was nice Janos, I think he used to be used for sex too until he got too old for the cliental.  He seemed to be broken though, obedient, rarely said anything, I felt so sorry for him.  But I refused to break, not while I had Raven there to fight for.  I’d do as I was told, they could do what they liked with my body but they would not have my mind.” 
Erik was shaking his head lightly, staring at Charles with astonishment, “This is unbelievable, you are unbelievable Charles, to have gone through all this and still be so…”
“Normal?” Charles suggested, and he smiled at Erik’s nod. “That was because of Raven, if she hadn’t been there I suspect I would have broken, lost my mind like most of the other boys did.  She was my strength, my reason to stay normal.”
“What happened after those two years?”
He’d obviously managed to get out, but how?
Charles took another deep breath, eyes wandering as though trying to place the order of things in his gaped memory. “There was a police raid, and in the confusion Raven managed to get a key from one of the guards and un-locked my room. We both ran, got out of the building and just ran as far away as we could.” Charles could see a question in Erik’s eyes and he knew what it was, “I know what you’re thinking, why didn’t I just go to the police, they could have helped us.” Charles pursed his lips together, “Well this is where my dis-trust of people comes in.  Some of the cliental liked to boast about who they were while fucking me, knowing their secret could never come out because I was locked in there.  It was always people of importance, people that should be trusted, other doctors, lawyers, policemen, even a Judge once.” Charles wrinkled his nose in disgust and Erik could see him clench his jaw, “All of them were these dark crocked men who were using their positions to cast this…this fake identity as a law-abiding member of society, when behind closed doors they were with me. I saw the worst of what should have been the best people, and I had long since stopped hoping that of the small group of policemen that had me that maybe one of them was undercover, just hoping that it was an act, that they had to go through with fucking me to gain the trust of the doctor, or something like that.” Charles paused, staring down at his stone cold tea, barely having taken two sips.
Erik desperately wanted to hug him, but didn’t know if Charles would really want to be touched being so raw with memory of these un-wanted bodies against his own.  No wonder Charles never wanted help, all the people who should have helped him just abused him.  And Hank, oh no wonder Charles looked so terrified of him, especially when he was taking Charles’ blood sample, the way Charles pressed his body against Erik’s as the needle went into his arm, leaning as far away as possible from the poor confused Hank. 
Erik wanted to make Charles see that not all doctors were these sick excuses of men, not all policemen were abusing their positions, that not all these professions were full of these perverted people who in Erik’s opinion should just be shot dead and left out of the next gene pool.  How could anyone, anyone, want to hurt Charles?  Hurt any teenager or child for that matter.  How did the minds of these people work, how could they live with themselves?  It was like the very thing that made them human beings was stripped away, leaving nothing but raw animal lust with no sense of guilt or concern for the damage they were doing to these innocents.
Charles had been a sweet yet lonely boy, coping with the loss of parents the best he could, living with a sister who loved him, not knowing of the evils in the world until one day one man, one Kurt, had the single thought of sending Charles away for his own selfish money-gaining reasons.  That one acted-upon thought ripped Charles from his life as an innocent boy and plunged him into the sickening underworld of men, where sex and money ruled and where innocence was not a thing to be cherished but a thing to be perverted upon.
And yet, sitting here, cradling his cold tea curled up on the sofa, spilling his devastating history, Charles still had that innocence.  Somehow, probably because of Raven, that throughout everything he’d been through everyone who had touched him, Charles still had that purity, that charm, and Erik suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of love for Raven. Even though he’d never met her, knew nothing about her other than what Charles had been telling him, it was her that kept Charles’ innocence inside him, not lost and shared amongst the men who had taken him.
“I wouldn’t blame you for running then.” Erik said softly, fingers flexing across the back of the sofa like they were trying to inch closer to Charles on their own, so close to his head, so desperately wanting to sweep him into his arms but not wanting to scare him away.  Everything was in a precarious balance right now, Charles seemed to think that Erik would hate him by telling him his past, but so far if anything it’s made him love him even more, for staying strong, for not giving in, for still turning out the way he did.
“Anyway, after the raid when we ran, we had no idea where to go.  If not for the accents of the clients I wouldn’t have even known we were in England.”
Erik’s eyes narrowed. Clients.  Rapists.  Why didn’t Charles just say it?
“We ran and finally stopped, hiding down an alleyway.  It was actually a really lucky find because the alley curved around the back of a building out of sight.  It was empty down there, looked unused, and it became a perfect hiding spot and…well, a home, really.  There was a large outer stairway above us that gave shelter from the rain, so Raven, because she was good at it,” Charles said with a small smile, “went out and stole some food and blankets, and we settled down hidden from view and stayed there. Eventually I had to make the decision of what to do about money, and though I’d been putting it off since we got there I knew we couldn’t live on stolen food so I…I started working the streets.” Charles stared at his cup, eyes downcast, shoulders slightly hunched, ashamed. “I know it was just the start of another cycle again but at least it was under my terms. I knew was good at it, knew people would pay, and bottom of the line at least I could use their showers in their homes.  What I didn’t want was Raven doing it, which was why when I caught her getting into someone’s car one day I think I frightened her with how angry I was. Turned out she’d been doing it for as long as I had, secretly because she knew I would be mad.  She said if both of us were working we’d get more money and maybe if we saved it we could spend it to rent a little bedsit for a while, somewhere warm to live as a holiday, just for a month or something, then go back onto the streets and start again.”
Charles flickered his eyes up to Erik and gave him a waning smile, “I can tell you, the temptation of four walls and a roof was very hard to resist, so against every protective, brotherly feeling I had…” Charles’ voice was constricting, swallowing heavily at the repulsion that was sliding up his throat, “I let her continue.  I hated it.  Hated what I was forcing her to become, all because of me.  I said to her if things had been different, if I’d never caught her that day in the kitchen if she’d never been adopted by us, she wouldn’t be here going through this.  She got angry at me for saying that, and all she said in return was that she wouldn’t change anything, that she would rather be here with me like this then not to have had me in her life at all.” Erik inched forward ever so slightly towards him, seeing the shine to his eyes and the cracking in his voice, “It was the sweetest thing anyone had ever said to me.” Charles said quietly, swallowing back the wetness threatening to fall from his eyes, “And it became a continued joke after that that we’d say to each other “I’m so glad you’re here but I wish you weren’t”, because I didn’t want her to go through this, but I didn’t want to be alone either.” He smiled that small sad little smile again, “She was much stronger than me though, said she’d seen enough with her mother on the streets, it didn’t bother her, it was as she put it, “just sex”, and sex got money, money got us food and hopefully, eventually, a place to live for a while.”
Erik listened quietly, watching the distaste on Charles’ face as he talked about what his sister was forcing herself to do, listening to the pain in his voice.  Erik couldn’t imagine what that must have been like, watching his sister go out and do the one thing Charles had been trying to protect her from all the time they were held captive.  More and more he just wanted to hold him, he’d inched closer again without Charles seeming to notice. The pain he was feeling himself for Charles felt like it was going to engulf his entire chest, he just wanted to hold him, that’s all, just never let anyone hurt him for the rest of his life, stay safe, here, on this sofa.
Charles cleared his throat, then smiled sheepishly at Erik, holding up his cup, “I’m sorry, I didn’t drink your lovely tea.  Could I trouble you for some water instead? My throats ever so dry.”
“Sure.” Erik took the almost full mug and rose from the sofa, quickly filling up a glass in the kitchen and walking back as quickly as possible, pretending for Charles’ sake that he hadn’t noticed the quick swipe across Charles’ eyes.  “Here.” Their fingers brushed together as Erik passed him the glass, and Charles paused for a moment looking up at him before quickly looking away back at the glass, taking it from him without a word, a small pinkness dusting across his cheeks.
He took a few gulps of the soothing cold water before continuing with his story.
“So that was our life.  We did have one day of fun though, Raven suggested we should go out and do something fun in case we forget why we were bothering trying to survive.”  There was a darkened hint behind that sentence, Erik could sense it, “So we went to a fair that had been set up in a field nearby, saved up money and did things teenagers were supposed to do. Go on rides, play fair games, eat ridiculous amounts of chocolate,” he laughed quietly at the memory, before suddenly leaning forward and placing his glass of water on the coffee table, and then leaning back so he could get his hand into the pocket of his trousers, bringing out that same creased photograph Erik had found all those days ago, “I even bought one of those disposable cameras, we used up the whole film in about half an hour.” He smiled as he handed it to Erik, who took it and looked curiously at the two smiling faces staring frozen in time back up at him, “It was the happiest day of my life.”
Erik stared at it in surprise, he’d thought they were children when he’d first seen this, “You’re both 16 in this?”
Charles nodded, before adding, “Raven was nearly 16.”
“You both look so much younger.” Erik said looking up at him.
Charles pressed his lips together and smiled forlornly, “Yes, probably why we both managed to get enough clients to pay for everything we spent on that day. Looking young tends to be an attraction in that world.”
Erik remained staring at him, looking across those innocent eyes that in reality were not innocent in the slightest, seeing and experiencing far too many evil things far too early in life.  Erik must have been staring at him for some time for Charles suddenly cleared his throat, eyes darting away and back again.  Erik blinked, then passed the photo back to him.
“Where are all the other photos?”
“Ah…well,” Charles began, taking the photo and looking at it longingly, “this is where the happiest day of my life was followed by the worst.” He ran his finger down the side of Raven’s face, following an old crease, and when he spoke his voice was barely above a whisper, “The day after this photo was taken she was killed.”


>Charles went silent, Erik watching with a breaking heart at the secret memories in his eyes that caused tears to return to his eyelids, before suddenly Charles was pursing his lips together trying not to cry.
“Charles…” Erik said softly, urgently, leaning towards him again as Charles just raised his hand and waved it dismissively.
“It’s okay, I’m alright.” He wasn’t alright, his voice was cracking, “It’s just…I don’t know if I can…”
Erik moved his hand from across the back of the sofa and cupped the back of Charles’ head gently. Charles looked up at him slightly startled but made no move to remove the hand, just watched him, eyes shimmering . “You don’t have to tell me what happened to her if you don’t want to.” Erik quickly said, because the devastated look in Charles’ eyes as he gazed at the photograph, and whatever horrible memory was going through his mind, had almost made Erik lean across and just drag Charles to him, to squeeze him tightly to his chest, to stop him talking because it was just making him suffer.
Surprisingly, through the returning wetness in his eyes, Charles smiled at him, closing his eyes briefly soaking in the warmth from Erik’s hand, “No it’s okay, I think you were right about feeling better if I talked about everything, I do feel a little….lighter.” he smiled quickly again, “It hurts to remember it all but somehow…it does feel a little better.”
“As long as you’re sure.” Erik stroked his thumb across Charles’ cheek and Charles gazed at him quietly for a moment before nodding lightly, and Erik removed his hand from his cheek.
“It just feels strange talking about it, it happened 10 years ago and yet it all suddenly feels like it happened yesterday and it….” He trailed off, biting his lip again as those fresh tears still clung onto life in his eyes, “it does hurt.”
“It’s not surprising,” Erik offered gently, “you’ve never told anyone about this before, you’ve never had to recall it all so vividly.”
Charles nodded and took a deep breath to calm himself, and although his voice was getting more constricted the more he spoke, was getting more distressed the more he remembered, he finally began the final part of his tale.
“As fun as that day had been, we had spent rather too much.  We desperately needed more money so the next evening we went straight back out onto the streets. I was just saying goodbye to Raven for the night so we could go to our own usual spots when a car pulled up beside us.”  Charles paused, swallowing heavily as he inhaled a very quivering breath, “The man behind the lowered window introduced himself as Doctor Stryker.”
“Another doctor…” Erik whispered, more to himself, mouth ajar not believing Charles’ ridiculous bad luck.
“I knew right then this was a bad idea, my dislike of doctors was not something that was going to go away.  But Raven, she was entranced by him and his proposal.  All he wanted was for both of us to keep him company for the evening and to stay the night, didn’t even want sex, just wanted to help us.  He described himself as a lonely old man with too much money, and who felt it would be put to better use on people like us. He said he wanted to take us shopping, buy us clothes, look after us like the grandchildren that he’d lost in a fire years ago. He also said he’d pay us 1000 Pound.  Each. Just to stay the night. That was the clincher, even I couldn’t deny my face lit up at so much money, we’d be able to rent a small place for a while just like we’d planned, and so quickly too. It was all too good to be true and…as it turned out, it was.”
Charles’ hands were trembling, but this wasn’t his Tremors for the rest of him was shaking too, just slightly, as though he’d suddenly become very cold.
“He took us-“
“Charles, wait.” Charles looked up at him, his eyes looking so lost and miserable, and Erik couldn’t stand the distance between them anymore, “You said earlier you wanted someone to hug you, so let me hug you.  You’re trembling and you’re sitting as far away from me as possible.”
Charles stared at him, eyes widening ever so slightly, “I didn’t…I wasn’t sure that…I thought you might hate me after hearing all this, it’s why I didn’t want to tell you in the first place.”
Erik stared at him, “I have been wondering this entire time why you would ever think that.  Why would any of this make me hate you?”
“You…don’t hate me?”
Why would I hate you?”
“Because of what I am, Erik!” Charles exclaimed as though it was the most obvious response, voice suddenly raised and looking both angry and confused, brows furrowed yet eyes wide, “Because of what’s happened to me and all the people who have…my choices, my stupid mistakes, everything that’s landed me right here!  I ran from everything, everyone, I’m a coward that’s been in hiding and there is nothing remotely worthy about me to even be in your arms!”
Charles stared hard at him, breathing heavily, eyes shining. Erik gazed back at him, calm, still, and through the wrenching pain he felt for Charles at the realisation that he sounded like he’d wanted to say that out loud for a long time, there was just one sentence that came to mind.
“You hate yourself….don’t you?” he whispered, and Charles’ eyes went wide before his whole body seemed to deflate, “That’s why you think I should hate you, because no one hates you more than you do.”
Charles gazed at him silently, his breathing slowing, and the more he stared the more his eyes shone, and finally, one after the other, those tears fell down his cheeks. His lips were moving as though wanting to say something, but no sound came out.  He just stared, and cried, not knowing how to argue back when the obvious answer was yes, he did hate himself.
Suddenly everything about Charles made sense.  No wonder he couldn’t see Erik’s love right in front of him, how could he see that someone loved him when all he could see about himself were the things he hated?  How could he accept the fact that someone wanted to be with him, just for being him and not a fantasy played out in the minds of his customers, when he hated everything he was?
How could he have possibly understood?
 Without a word Erik leant towards him, wrapping his arm around Charles’ shoulders as Charles uncurled from his cross-legged position as though in a trance, unable to look away from Erik’s determined eyes. He let himself be pulled to Erik’s side, Erik’s longer arms wrapping tightly around him and pulling him over, Charles finding himself half sitting half laying on Erik’s lap, his head on his chest under his chin, and being held so securely and warmly it was like there was no other place in the world that was so safe.
“I don’t hate you Charles,” Erik whispered to his hair, “I love you, everything about you.  You’re not a coward, you faced a horrific situation and you came out on top. You’re here. You survived. You kept yourself sane just like you said, and you’re even trying to get the education that you missed, to get yourself the life you should have had.” He kissed the top of his head, Charles’ body still trembling against him, “To me that’s strength not cowardice.  You must be the strongest person I’ve ever seen Charles, and I love you for that.”
There was silence for a moment, even Charles’ shuddering breaths had stilled. Suddenly, slowly, there was choked sob, and Charles’ arms crept around Erik’s waist, his head burying itself even closer to his chest.  His shoulders shuddered as his body was suddenly wracked with cries, clinging to Erik just as tightly as Erik was clinging to him. His pain-filled sobs were the only sound, each one just as full of relief and disbelief as the last, his fingernails digging into Erik’s skin through his shirt, but Erik didn’t mind. He just held him. Would always hold him.
He held him like that for some time, letting those cries escape him, before slowly Charles began to calm, his sobs slowly fading, “Finish your story,” Erik then said softly, Charles sniffing loudly, shuddering breaths trying to take control, “get it out of your system, and I’ll hold you all the way through, okay?”
As though Erik had not just said the very things Charles had always wanted to hear, Charles simply steadied his breathing, staring blankly ahead, tears still falling but slower this time. When his words came they were tired, quiet, gaps in his sentences as though he was trying to find the energy to reveal this one final mystery of his past.
“He took us home….cooked us a meal…showed us to the twin beds that his grandchildren used to sleep in……….I woke up in the middle of the night…..Raven was….choking………..he was straddling her, his hands around her neck, just……..choking her……..I grabbed the bedside lamp….threw it at his head… didn’t knock him out, he just turned to me……..threw me against the wall……Raven she…...she was alright, she got up, picked up one of the shards of the lamp…….as he came towards me she called out, threatened to hurt him if he didn’t get away from me..….he turned around…….…shoved her hand back away from him and……” Erik could feel Charles grip him even tighter, could feel his shoulders begin to shudder once again, and Erik could feel his own throat tightening, “….he’d pressed her hand to her neck………I don’t know if it was deliberate or an accident but…” Charles’ voice was heartbreaking, the tears dripping down his cheeks, “….the shard went straight into her neck…….Stryker lost it then….went mad…..….said he’d call the police, say that I did it….they’d believe a doctor over a rent-boy… fingerprints were already on the lamp………but Raven she…she wouldn’t stop bleeding…” Charles’ voice was shaking so much it was almost a trouble to understand him, he was crying and a mess and yet Erik just held him tighter, “…...I held her and, the blood…….she was choking, I didn’t know what to do I didn’t know anything……..she was looking up at me and then………....” the loud crying sob that escaped him this time was filled with so much raw pain Erik felt lost at what he could do, “……then she wasn’t……her eyes were on me but she wasn’t looking at me….she was so still….there was so much blood……………..she died in my arms.  When I realised I’d lost her, I did what I do best and I ran……Stryker had locked the door to the bedroom to keep me in, so I climbed out the window…….I walked for weeks…..into London….Shaw found me and……….and here I am.”
Erik sat there in stunned silence, trying to picture and yet…not wanting to picture the terror that Charles must have gone through. The fear and the loss of the one person who had loved him, to have everything that could possibly go wrong in one life to go wrong, to be at the very bottom of everything, and to wander the streets for weeks afterwards just wanting to die and end it all….
He finally noticed the tears that were falling from his own eyes, dripping onto Charles’ hair as Charles sobbed lightly into his chest, radiating need and loss and a desperateness for life to go right.
“I’m a coward.” Charles whispered through a cracked sob.
“No…” Erik whispered, a determined force in that one small barely audible word, staring dazed out into the air, looking at nothing, thinking of everything, feeling only Charles.
“…you’re my Charles.”
Erik wasn’t sure how long they’d sat there, Charles curled up in his lap, in his arms, one hand slowly rubbing up and down his back in a fluid gentle motion.  It was obvious now though that Charles had fallen asleep.  Erik tried to move his head to the side, to look down to the face tucked under his chin, and indeed Charles’ cried-red eyes were closed, his cheeks wet with tear tracks, his breathing now coming in slow gentle breaths.
It was no surprise he was asleep. He must be completely emotionally exhausted.  Erik guessed it would take some time for him to really comprehend just what Charles had been through, to really grasp the severity of it all.  To be told all at once, one terrible thing happening after another, it was a lot of take in, and all Erik could think of was how guilty he felt for not being there for Charles from the beginning.  He knew it was a stupid thing to feel, they hadn’t even met until two weeks ago, that night when he’d turned to look over his shoulder and seen an adorably cute yet far too thin and ill looking young man following behind him, lighting up a cigarette.
Erik gently shifted his body, trying not to wake Charles as he slipped one arm down to try and hook under his legs, cradling his head to his shoulder before wrapping his other arm around Charles’ shoulders and slowly standing up with him in his arms. Charles was too exhausted to wake, body limp and tired as Erik quietly walked to the bedroom.  He awkwardly pulled down the duvet with his knee before placing Charles onto the bed, his head sinking into the soft pillows.  What was left of his eyeliner was now completely smudged out, and Erik stood and walked to the bathroom, wetting a flannel and returning to Charles’ side, sitting at the edge of the bed and gently dabbing at the marks and wiping lightly at the tear tracks, cleaning his worn out face.  Charles suddenly seemed so much older than he was, even the innocence that still showed through on his sleeping face seemed tired.
As Erik rose to return to the bathroom however Charles’ hand gently grabbed his wrist, and red-shot blue eyes peered up at him as Erik looked down.
“I’m sorry,” Erik whispered, “I didn’t mean to wake you.”
Charles didn’t say anything, just looked at him, eyes a silent plea, blinking to look at the empty space in the bed beside him before looking back up at him.  Erik smiled at him, a smile that was more in his eyes than his lips, and just like Charles still fully clothed he walked around the other side of the bed and climbed under the covers with him.
Immediately Charles made to curl up against him, but he seemed far more nervous than before. He looked at Erik like he might bolt from the room if he did something he didn’t like, and attentively curled his arm across his chest.  Erik didn’t quite know what to do himself, in his opinion it was Charles who looked like he might bolt from the room with any sudden movements, and as they stared at each other, locked in some unspoken staring contest, Charles suddenly leant up on his other arm, moved over and pressed his lips against Erik’s.
Erik’s eyes immediately closed, bringing one hand to Charles’ head and threading it through his hair.  The kiss was so uneasy but so soft, lips brushing against Erik’s as though asking permission that this was allowed, that this was even real, but before Erik could respond he felt something wet drip onto his face.  Opening his eyes he found a few silent tears gathering in Charles’ open eyes, and watched as Charles pulled back, just enough so he could whisper desperate, trembling words against his lips.
“Make love to me.” Another tear dripped to his cheek, “Not just sex, not…n-not fast just…….please.”
Erik stared up at him, Charles’ eyes swimming with yet unshed tears, genuine fear on what Erik would say.  It was a final test, the final one to prove to Charles Erik really did love him.
“Are you really sure you want this now?” Erik asked, not wanting him to regret it again, far too many emotions having run wild and raw in this short time.
Charles just nodded awkwardly, brushing his lips against Erik’s again, another tear falling to his cheek, “I want you….I want you to love me.” He took a shuddering breath, eyes pleading and desperate, “I need you Erik, please.”
Erik didn’t need any more reasoning.  He leant upwards and captured Charles’ lips, a tender, soft kiss that poured in every single bit of love that Erik had wanted to give him all day.  He guessed it worked, because Charles completely melted against him, letting Erik tease apart his lips and slowly, so slowly move against his tongue, massaging every part of it, exploring every inch of the mouth he never wanted to stop kissing.
A tumble of groans rumbled in Charles’ throat, and Erik wrapped his arms around him and gently turned them over, cradling Charles in his arms and never once breaking the kiss as he laid him back down to the bed.
“I love you Charles.” Erik whispered against his lips, and a small whimper escaped Charles to which he quickly shut his eyes in embarrassment.  This just made Erik smile, and he pressed his lips to the closed left eyelid, then the right, then trailed a line of butterfly kisses across his wet cheeks, the tip of his nose, the corners of his mouth, before leaning up to place one small kiss to his forehead and then capturing those lips again.
In another situation Erik might have found it comical, how someone who had slept with so many people, possibly and probably in the hundreds, suddenly had no clue on how to act in a bed.  Charles lay beneath him, arms to the side not knowing what to do, what to touch, how to act when for the first time in his life someone wanted him to just be himself in bed.  Charles had never had to be himself, he wasn’t sure he even knew what himself was.
But Erik was going to find out, and he was going to take as long as physically possible to do it.  All Charles had ever known was sex, just sex, rough and fast and un-wanted and not mutual.  Charles was always about the pleasuring of other people, but Erik was having none of that this time.  Charles wanted him to make love to him, something that Charles had no experience with, so Erik was going to love every inch of him, every piece of skin was to be kissed, shown just as much love as every other part of him.
Erik slowly began to un-button Charles’ shirt, trailing wet kisses from his mouth down over his jaw, Charles arching his neck he they trailed down it, a sigh falling from his lips, his adams apple bobbing right by Erik’s cheek as he swallowed nervously.
Erik could feel Charles’ growing erection already, and he smiled against his collarbone as he licked gently across it, kissing the hollow of his throat before moving across to the other side.  His hands trailed down Charles’ pale skin, pushing aside the shirt, fingertips leaving tingling trails and Charles shuddering at the touch.
When Erik reached his nipples, already pink and hard, he smiled around one before taking it between his teeth, sucking gently as Charles bucked gently beneath him, a hitched gasp escaping his lips, finally deciding what to do with his hands and placing one at the back of Erik’s head, the other on his bicep as Erik teased the other nipple with his hand, wonderful moans falling from Charles’ lips as he sucked and pinched at the sensitive buds.
“Erik…” Charles breathed, blush still growing, feeling so awkward and out of place, his skin so sensitive it was like he was a born-again virgin. 
He tried to chuckle at his own thought but it just came out as another groan as Erik pulled the nipple gently between his teeth before sucking it softly, his other hand trailing down Charles’ arm to take hold of his hand. As he did he leant up and brought the hand to his lips, kissing the palm, staring down at Charles who was looking at him with such shocked adoration, a strange confusion over why someone would do something so silly as to kiss his hand because when did that ever have anything to do with sex?
Charles had a lot to learn.
Erik quickly got rid of his own shirt and pulled Charles’ off his shoulders before resuming his trail of kisses down his chest, over his ribs (still too thin to be healthy, needed more food and yet was still perfect), dipping down to his abdomen, alternating between small licks and kisses, feeling the rise and fall of nervous breaths beneath his lips. One hand still rubbed gently across his chest, the other worked at the button and fly of Charles’ trousers.
Erik had wanted to do this for so long, to freely explorer this body, to taste and touch and feel every part of him, to hear every successful sound, gasp and groan as he found out which parts were more sensitive than others, where Charles preferred to be touched, because everyone had their own special little places.
More kisses across his stomach, tongue swirling around his navel, peering up at Charles as he did to see his head back, eyes blissfully closed, feeling his hand curling in his hair as though to say yes, I liked that.
He leant up again, Charles’ eyes opening briefly before closing again as Erik slipped his tongue between his lips, sweeping through his mouth re-acquainting himself with it even though he’d only left it a few minutes before.
“Erik,” Charles whispered against his lips as they parted, “I don’t know what to do.” He sounded so small and anxious, and it just made Erik smile.
“Then don’t do anything, this is for you.”
So he didn’t.  He let Erik do everything, kiss everything, and by the time the two of them were completely naked there was pre-cum already glistening at the head of Charles’ cock, and Erik hadn’t even touched him there yet.  That didn’t last for long though, and Charles bucked up beneath him as he felt Erik’s mouth slid down over it, one hand massaging his thigh, shivers of pleasure running through Charles’ veins as Erik’s lubricated fingers curled up inside him at the same time. Charles cried out then, that hot mouth and hot fingers working together, Charles gripping the beds sheets as he moved his legs wider, head thrown back as Erik moved his fingers in and out of him, slowly, always so agonizingly slowly, but then that was what Charles had asked.  Leaving his saliva soaked cock Erik kissed back up Charles’ body, Charles squirming underneath him, fingers still scissoring him inside, every inch of skin now touched and lavished upon and Charles was in an absolute state of ecstasy already, breaths coming in gasps, eyes permanently closed as the sensations washed over his trembling body.
“Charles?” Charles forced his eyes open, pupils so blown his eyes were almost completely black, trembling and completely under his control, face and neck flushed with red. Erik swallowed hard. Beautiful didn’t seem to cover it. “Are you ready?” he asked, and Charles managed to let out a short shuddering chuckle, lips curling to a smile before he tilted his head back and bit his lip at the fingers moving inside him.
“I’ve never been more ready in my life.”  Somehow the jumble of words that were in Charles’ head managed to come out as a normal sentence, and Erik smiled, kissing him hotly as one hand covered his own heavy hard cock with a condom, having not yet been touched but so hard it was just what Charles did to him.
Erik hooked Charles’ legs back so his knees were by his shoulders, and Charles was so ready, so aroused more than ever that as the tip of Erik’s cock pushed past that ring of muscle he just slid right in to the hilt, Charles groaning loudly and scraping his fingernails on Erik’s back where he held him.
Erik did as he was told, not to go fast, so slowly and with a tender rhythm he made love to him, out and in, back and forth, Charles gently rocking beneath him, with him, closing his arms around Erik’s neck and bringing him down, kissing him hard, every thrust making Charles mewl at the back of his throat, groan into the kiss, desperate words falling against Erik’s lips.
“Yes…oh god….Erik…uhhn….”
Erik buried his face at Charles’ arched neck, licking and kissing there again as he brought one hand down, grabbing one cheek of Charles’ arse and spreading it, thrusting deeper, Charles crying out with a desperate breathless groan as Erik’s name tumbled unintelligently from his lips, every thrust somehow deeper, every thrust taking him to the edge and back again with how slowly he moved.
It was maddening, and it was a madness Charles didn’t want to end.
Erik touched him everywhere again, every finger pressing against every flesh, his mouth rarely leaving Charles’ lips as their tongues fucked each other just as slowly as Erik was his body.  But this couldn’t last forever, the building pressure was starting to overload, and as Charles’ gasps beneath him became erratic, his head thrown to one side, begging, pleading, pulling Erik’s backside down on every thrust, Erik let himself go.  He moved faster, plunging in and out, Charles lost to heaven as he clung to Erik like he’d die if he let go, back arched, tears of bliss falling from his eyes.  Erik kissed him again and again, his lips like a drug, before the kisses turned to panting breaths, fast and desperate and Erik reached between them and pumped Charles’ cock fast, their rhythm gone, everything frenzied and frantic and all at once and then Charles was coming, literally screaming Erik’s name, Erik fucking him relentlessly as he arched his own back, pushing as far inside Charles as he could get as he too came with a shuddering groan.
Erik collapsed on top of him, both of them breathless and boneless, sweat covering every part of skin and hair, cum sticky between them, and neither of them even attempting to move.  As though it required every possible effort Charles slowly raised one trembling arm, threading his fingers through Erik’s hair, just holding him there.
Erik peered up at him at the contact, managing to raise his head as he lay slightly to one side to avoid crushing Charles beneath him. “Is that what you wanted?” he asked breathlessly, his own face flushed with their excursions.
Charles looked at him, chest heaving, an unreadable expression on his face before eventually, five single words fell from his panting lips.
“I think I love you.”
And right there and then Erik would give up everything, anything, even that mind-blowing sex, to hear Charles say those words again. Erik would give up the world for Charles.
But for now he smiled, just brightly smiled. It was about the only thing he had the energy to do before he leant his head back down, placed one chaste kiss just above Charles’ collarbone, and rested his head against his shoulder.
“My Charles.”
To be continued....

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

 11 years ago
Charles and Raven’s escape…
It was chaos. From the solitude and silence of his sound-proofed locked room Raven suddenly came bursting in, and Charles was bombarded with more sound than he’d heard in years.  Raven had grabbed his wrist, shouted for him to run, and without a thought he let himself be pulled off the large dark red bed, tripping over his legs that hadn’t been able to move this much in a long time.

There were men’s voices shouting from every direction, the guards running around them as they sneaked quickly along the walls out of sight, Charles’ eyes darting from one guard to another in the large open space around them, lined with doors that Charles knew must hold other teenage prisoners. Indeed against the gun shots and pounding feet on the soft shag carpeting the calls of the abused teenagers rang out from their locked rooms, it seemed not all were sound-proofed as they screamed words of “HELP !” and pounded on their doors to be released, pleading with anyone who might be running by, hearing the commotion outside and wanting to seize the only opportunity they may ever have to escape.

Charles had never seen any of the guards that held station outside his door, but he recognised and feared the police uniforms that suddenly came into view. Crackled voices on radios and more guns shots as the guards held them back, both forces loosing men as they fell to the ground, blood splattered on the walls behind them, one policemen falling to the ground in crumpled agony as a guard elbowed him in the face as he’d come around a corner, his broken nose gushing blood.

Those policemen did nothing but give Charles flashbacks of hope disappearing into fear, as he’d lay naked below a man dressed just like one, boasting that no one would ever know, that it was about time he got some compensation for the good he’d upheld in the outside world, foreign fingers trailing down his bare skin.
Charles and Raven were locked by the hands, ducking low through the guards who thankfully weren’t paying them the slightest bit of attention, too focused on their attackers.  Raven knew this place better than Charles, she hadn’t been locked inside a room but was free to roam within a much larger area inside the building.  She also knew Charles too well, and knew the pained expression on his face as they ran past the other locked doors, trying to ignore the voices desperately calling within them, but Raven had only managed to steal his key and they had no others to let anyone else go free.
“Charles I know what you’re thinking but we can’t help them we have to go!” Raven yelled at him, pulling him by the hand to go faster past the closed black doors as Charles looked at them longingly.
But she was right, he couldn’t help them, Raven was the most important one to get out so Charles picked up his pace, both of them turning down a large set of double doors away from the violence, running down a staircase and bursting through a door at the bottom before suddenly Raven screamed as a large explosion rocked the very walls themselves.  They both paused, looking around in panic at what had caused it, dust and particles from the ceiling falling to the ground around them.

Suddenly up ahead through another doorway Janos appeared, looking hurried and worried and seeming to be searching for something, before spotting them both and running towards them.
“Go, go now,” he said over the deafening noise of what sounded like a bazooka shot, causing another loud crash and more dust to fall, his Spanish-accent more prominent when in fear, “last door, there is fire escape, down side of building, hurry.” He shoved a set of keys into Charles’ hand, and without another word ran through the door they’d just come out of heading up the stairs.
“WAIT!” Charles immediately called out, turning back and ignoring Raven’s protest. Janos stopped half way up the stairs and look down at them behind him, “Come with us!”

Charles could never blame Janos, not for the injections he gave, not for never fighting back and just giving in, accepting his life as a prisoner, because Janos was a broken man. Charles could see it easily, anyone could, doing nothing but following orders in fear of what would happen if he disobeyed, but Janos been a comfort despite the pain and Charles didn’t want to leave him here. He was the only one who understood them, who had been here longer than any of them, and if anyone deserved to be free it was him.
But Janos just smiled and shook his head, his shoulder length hair swaying with the movement, “No.”
Charles’ eyebrows rose in disbelief, “Why not?!”
Janos smiled again, a strange small smile that seem too calm to be natural, “Because I would not know how to live without him anymore.”
The silence between them was only with words, as gun shots and shouts still came from above. Charles’ blue eyes stared into the brown broken depths of a young man so deep into his own slavery he could no longer see past it. The doctor was Janos’ life, no matter what he had done to him, no matter what he may continue to do, Janos couldn’t leave him.
Somehow, Charles understood, though he wasn’t sure why.
“Go!” Janos shouted again, “You two do not belong here, GO!”
Charles hesitated, Raven pulling on his arm, her voice seeming distant to the unspoken words flowing between the man and boy. Eventually Charles gave Janos a curt nod, a silent wish for good luck, before turning to Raven and following along beside her, leaving Janos and the others behind, finding and unlocking the door, bursting into a sunlight he hadn’t seen in two years, and running.
Present time…
Erik didn’t know how long he’d been watching Charles.  When he had awoken it was still dark outside, barely noting the black outline of the body shape beside him. Now sunlight was trickling in through the curtains, the early morning birds happily chatting away to each other outside, and still Erik watched the sleeping face of the man curled up beside him, duvet resting up to his shoulder, sleeping expression contented and peaceful.
From their initial positions as they’d collapsed against one another they had both moved in their sleep, and were now lying on their sides facing each other, legs entangled, one of Erik’s hands gently clasped over Charles’ curled up between them.  While Charles’ other arm rested across Erik’s waist, Erik’s occasionally brushed aside a stubborn bang of hair that kept on falling in front of those closed blue eyes, Erik absently smiling every time it fell back down again.
Erik hadn’t had a chance to really study Charles’ sleeping face, they’d both been drunk last time and…well, the less said about the morning after, and in fact the entire day after, the better. But now so much had happened between them, so much had been revealed, both about Charles’ past and his feelings for Erik that with all that, watching Charles now and his slow steady breathing filled Erik with such a warmth just for the fact it proved he was real and here, and that what he said last night really had happened.  Charles looked so ridiculously innocent while asleep it was almost laughable, for now Erik knew just what horrors lay beneath that sweet face, just what this wonderfully beautiful and strong man had gone through. He had truly meant it when he’d said Charles was the strongest person he knew, to have gone through all that and still be so sane.

Even after hearing Charles’ tale it was still hard to believe all that had happened to such a lovely man, and for him to still be this lovely after everything; all the abuse, all the lies, all the betrayals, not to mention losing the only person who’d ever loved him. 

“I think I love you.”

It had been the first words his brain had remembered the second Erik had woken up, and the only words that had filled it since. Had Charles really fallen in love with him? So quickly, just like Erik had? He wondered if Charles had ever said those words to anyone before, even in just a loving-family way.

 Charles’ home life hadn’t sounded at all like a loving environment, until Raven of course.  Charles seemed more like a prisoner in a gilded cage, barely ever leaving his cold empty decorated surroundings, with an equally cold and empty broken family. Heartbreaking really, how he was taken from one cage to another, just in a different country, with a different kind of abusive people surrounding him.

 Erik’s beginnings might have been very much opposite, not poor exactly but still working family, living in a small mining village in the middle of nowhere, but at least his had been a loving family.  He could probably count on the fingers of one hand the amount of times any voices had been raised in their small little household, and even though his father always worked long shifts and came home filthy from head to toe, he’d always take time to play with Erik, do all the things fathers and sons were supposed to do before taking a hot bath and joining the family for dinner.  Same time, every evening.
At least Erik had plenty of happy memories before his father died, but Charles it seemed barely had any, too young to really remember much of his father. All he’d known was a drunken mother, a money hungry step-father, and an abusive step-brother.  All the biggest mansions and countless servants in the world couldn’t have made that a happy place to live.
But not Raven, sweet Raven, staying by Charles’ side even though she had no need to. They weren’t related by blood, she could have abandoned Charles, saved her own skin when on the streets, but she didn’t.  Again Erik felt a wave of warmth towards the girl he never knew, he just wished she could see how that little bit of love she gave Charles kept him at bay from falling into complete darkness.  If only she could have known what good she’d done before her own life was taken.
Erik wondered, perhaps, if he should tell Moira about all this. About Doctor Stryker, find out if he was convicted, and Kurt, or the other doctor, the nameless one who took Charles to begin with.  If there was a police raid one would assume the man was captured.  He wanted to know, to make sure these disgusting men were paying for what they had done, not only for Charles but in the doctors case for all the other boys he had tortured over the years. However, it also wasn’t his place to tell anyone else about Charles’ past.  He wouldn’t do that to Charles, it had been hard enough for him to tell Erik in the first place.  Maybe there was a way he could find out himself, secretly, though he didn’t know how.  The question also arose of the mansion, it rightfully belonged to Charles if Kurt and Cain were still there.  There were a lot of things to find out, but one at a time, and none of them right now, especially as Charles was waking up.
Erik watched as Charles stirred in his sleep, his face pressing a little deeper against the pillow, his fingers curling around Erik’s hand where he held him.  Erik smiled softly as sleepy blue eyes slowly opened and blinked at him, and was inwardly so glad that Charles didn’t flinch away like last time. Erik could almost see Charles’ sleepy mind remembering where he was and what had happened, before watching a small soft early morning blush creep onto his cheeks as Charles pressed his lips together in a shy smile.
“Hello Erik.”
“Good morning.” Erik couldn’t help the lop-sided smile at how adorable that morning voice was, before gazing at Charles a little more seriously, “You okay?”
Charles nodded mutely against the pillow, eyes flicking to and from Erik’s eyes, seemingly unable to keep eye contact.  This was a good start, he wasn’t freaking out, wasn’t immediately regretting what they had done or the things he had told him.
“So um……what happens now?” Charles asked quietly as the silence stretched between them, evidently having no idea what to do after sleeping with someone not for money, and Erik too happily lying there looking at him to worry about no words passing between them.  The morning was warm and comfortable and he felt quite happy to just stay here and not do anything, just look.
Everything just made Erik want to bundle Charles’ in his arms.
“Now I ask you to stay, properly I mean.” Erik said.  It was now or never to ask this question, Charles wasn’t getting up to leave and after his little confession times needed changing in Charles’ life, and Erik wanted to be there with him through it all. “Live here, be with me.  You said yourself you can’t sleep with anyone else.”  Charles flushed in embarrassment as he remembered saying that, but otherwise didn’t interrupt Erik’s words.  This was also a good sign. “I love you Charles,” Erik said honestly, “and I want to do everything I can to help you get the life you want.” He suddenly frowned a little in amusement before raising his hand and pushing back that one bang of hair again, Charles watching him quietly. It was a stubborn bang of hair. “I make more than enough money to cover two people living here.  Study all day every day, as much as you want, without having to worry about anything else. Stay with me.” Charles’ eyes now seemed overly large, a slight crease to his raised eyebrows. It was like a worry mixed with want. “Let me love you.” Erik smiled again, “You said you loved me.”
“I said I think I love you.” Charles corrected, but with a sudden small smile of his own.
Erik shrugged his shoulders slightly, “Close enough.”
Charles puffed out an amused breath before his features returned to a more serious stare, biting his bottom lip.  He seemed to think for a moment before slowly sitting up, moving backwards against the headboard.  Erik watched him before sitting up himself, pulling the covers up with them keeping Charles warm. Charles smiled at the simple little gesture, but he still looked conflicted. Erik wasn’t going to give up hope or anything, this was a big decision for Charles, to truly trust someone enough to live with them, to believe it wasn’t all for some ulterior motive.
“I just…I have to really think about this.” Charles said, looking down to his hands and lowering his chin, “I hope you can understand I have to look out for myself Erik, I mean…what if you get bored with me and you want me to leave?” he looked up at him pleadingly, “I won’t have anywhere to go.”
“That’s not going to happen.” Erik immediately replied, the words on his tongue before Charles had even finished speaking, but this just made an angry frown appear on Charles’ brow.
“You don’t know that Erik, you couldn’t possibly know what you’d feel in the future.”
Erik stared back at him, probably more sternly than he meant, before letting out a small sigh and conceded rather than argued. It may be technically true what Charles was saying but it also wasn’t the point. “Okay you’re right, I don’t know, but Charles even in the impossibly unlikely event that I wouldn’t love you anymore I wouldn’t be cruel enough to just throw you out onto the streets.” he kept eye contact, hoping this would get through to him, “I’ll say right now that you’d at least stay until you got your education and a job, then you could afford your own place anyway, and in the mean time stay as house-mates.”
Charles was looking at him with such a confused expression, a want for this life but a fear that it would all go wrong.  He looked back down at his hands again. Erik watched him, pressing a little closer beside him. “But Charles that’s not going to happen.” he repeated, watching the sullen features before reaching out and cupping Charles’ cheek, forcing him to look at him.  He needed Charles to believe him, or this was going to be a pointless endeavour. A little confession of his own might help. “I have never said to anyone that I love them, not once.” Charles’ eyes widened in surprise at this, so much Erik almost found it comical. Was it that hard to believe he’d never said those words before? “You’re the only one, so if I don’t know how I feel about someone at my age then I probably never will.”
It was true, he’d never said it, had never been in a relationship long enough to say it. Okay so…thinking about it this happened to so far be one of his shortest relationships ever and he was already saying it but hey, that just proved Charles had to be the one, right? Anyone else Erik had been with, which admittedly hadn’t been that many anyway, he had never felt this passionately about.  They had all been more of a curious chance of circumstance, in the right place at the right time, moderately attractive and…well, that had been about the only appealing thing about these men, and none of them had kept Erik’s interest for long. 

Unlike Charles, who ticked all boxes, not only in appearance but far more importantly in personality and behaviour, and his own interests.  It was silly to keep coming back to the piano and the chess, but they were two big things for Erik that he’d never found in one person before.
Charles’ breathing had become shallow as he’d listened to Erik’s little speech, the want in his eyes so desperate it was almost heartbreaking to see him trying to hold back, “What if my tremors get worse?” he asked quietly, his voice tense,  "What if I do end up in a wheelchair?”
Erik smiled warmly, “Then that will just give me an excuse to be closer to you, to help you do everything you can’t do alone.” And he meant it, every word. What did it matter if Charles was in a wheelchair, would that make him less attractive?  Would that make him unable to smile or hold conversations or move chess pieces?  Well, even if it did hinder his hands every now and then as the tremors worsened, Erik would just have to move the pieces for him, and what difference would that make in how he loved him?

Erik ran his thumb across Charles’ cheek gently, before lowering his hand and smiling once again, “If you’re trying to come up with every possible negative excuse for not staying it’s not going to work,“ his smile curled into a smirk, “I’m already far too gone with you for that.” Charles let out another amused huff of air before smiling down at the covers, a warm smile to fit with the warm silence between them. “Stay? Please?” Erik coaxed softly. 

Erik had never wanted anything, anyone, more in his life, and he’d never ask for anything ever again as long as Charles said he’d stay. Charles had been right when he’d said before that it was obvious Erik was lonely. He was, very lonely, for years now, but he’d been too much of a stubborn man to even realise it let alone admit it to himself.  Only in finding Charles had Erik seen what he had been missing all this time, and having Charles leave, and then his mother dying, it had been more than Erik could bear.

He’d sat all night in that park, alone, constantly hoping and yet knowing Charles wasn’t going to walk into his view and sit beside him, making everything in the world better again. He’d been so depressed by the time the sun had come up he’d blearily walked into the local liquor store and rid it of a large part of its content, before camping out at home with the bottles and take away pizza’s trying to ban Moira from his door.
Charles took a steady breath, Erik waiting patiently but with a racing heart for his answer. It would be the defining moment.  If he said yes, then everything would change.  He would help him move out, help him with his GSCE’s, help him heal from all his wounds, love him and protect him and do all the things people were supposed to do when they were madly in love with someone.

If he said no then….no, he wasn’t going to plan for that part yet.

Eventually Charles slowly looked back up at him.  Erik couldn’t tell from his expression what his answer was but after a pause, Charles seeming to search Erik’s eyes, Charles simply smiled timidly, and as though it took every effort in the world to say he replied in a breathy voice;
“Alright…I’ll stay.”

And so it happened, in that moment, what Erik had hoped for sitting on that bench; the world to suddenly be a better place. The joy that filled Erik’s chest was nothing he had ever felt before, a feeling that made him think he was an entirely different person, that the Erik Lehnsherr he knew himself to be had been replaced with someone else.

Someone who didn’t drive home alone every night, sit on his sofa reading alone every night, go to his bed alone every night, and make breakfast for one, alone, in the morning.  This was someone who suddenly had someone to care about, someone to think about other than just himself, someone to worry over, to love, to look forward to coming home to, to cook for, to find a warm welcoming body next to his own instead of a cold flat empty bed.

This was someone who had gone from a plain boring, lonely life, to having everything they wanted.

Erik knew he must be grinning stupidly, an expression that if Moira ever saw he probably get teased about for the rest of eternity, but he didn’t care.  He let out a relieved breath through the grin on his face, but before he could say anything Charles quickly continued.
“But the thing is if you’re really going to let me have you…” Charles paused, eyes staring into Erik’s still with worry, but a layer of hope in there somewhere, “I’m not going to want to let go.” Erik stared back at him blankly for a moment, the words sinking in, before a small smile curved his lips.  “Erik you’ve given me everything I never had,” Charles continued softly, “and it just feels a little too good to be true. If you’re really serious, then you’re not going to get rid of me.” The corner of his mouth rose in a nervous half smile, treading carefully, as though a part of him was still waiting to wake up and find Erik was just a dream.
But he didn’t wake up, instead Erik enfolded him in his arms and brought him to his chest, warm skin to warm skin, and kissed the top of his head lightly, “I love you, liebling.”
He could feel an unwilling smile on Charles’ lips as they were pressed against his chest, unwilling because it soon turned into a grin which he tried to hide by pressing himself further against Erik, his shoulders shaking just a few times with a concealed laughter. Erik couldn’t help his own grin, couldn’t help tagging on the affectionate German word, another word he’d never used with anyone before, and knew where Charles clung to him there was a gorgeous bright smile on his face.  He was proved right when Charles leant back a little and looked up at him, his eyes bright and the happiest he’d seen them.
“It’s going to be strange getting used to hearing you say that my friend.” He said with a bright and blushing smile, before he bit his lower lip nervously, “Or I suppose I should say…lover, now.”
Erik certainly felt like he should be waking up, he’d never felt so ridiculously happy, like he really was a hormone driven teenager again floating around in a dream.  Charles was here, he was staying, they were lovers, he trusted him, so many positive words after all the negative and it had all happened so fast.
Seeing those red lips smiling at him, the word lover ringing pleasantly in his ears, Erik wanted nothing more than to kiss him silly. So he leant down, lips hovering above their destination, and was about an inch from placing a sweet kiss against those rosy lips when Charles’s stomach let out a particularly long and loud hungry grumble.
They both paused, staring at each other as a small embarrassed smile began to twist onto Charles’ lips before he burst into laughter.
“Sorry, my stomach has spectacular timing.” Charles said through small chuckles.
 Erik just smiled lovingly at him, Charles surprising him with more adorableness all the time.  Though this did beg an important question. “When’s the last time you ate anything?”
Charles’ smile turned rather sheepish at that, as the answer would remind them of yesterday’s awkward confession and of the life that Charles was, apparently, no longer going to live, “Umm, well…I did say I was trying to work before for food but couldn’t so….a Pot Noodle the night before this one?”
Erik stared at him in shock, wide eyed and unbelieving!  For someone who was so insistent on looking out for himself food never seemed to be part of that equation. He hadn’t heard of him eating a single proper meal outside of Erik’s companionship.
“It was all I had left in the bedsit.” Charles continued sheepishly, feeling very small under Erik’s wide stare.
“Okay first rule of living with me, you have three meals a day.” Erik said matter-of-factly after he found his words, and at that news Charles just smiled cheekily at him.
“Yes darling.” He grinned, before suddenly dissolving into the happiest and most infectious laughter Erik had ever heard. 

It seemed Erik was completely unaware of the puppy dog look on his face at being called darling, and that this unseen expression had caused Charles to laugh like he’d never laughed before. Simply thinking Charles was genuinely happy that things were going right for a change, Erik smirked at the contagious laughter, finding it very hard not to join in himself.
“Come on,” he said, trying to prise himself out of Charles’ arms to slide off the edge of the bed, “I want to clean my teeth so I can kiss you properly.”

If he would let him, Erik wanted to ravish him senseless again, to show him again and again and again and again and again….and again, all the love Charles has missed out on, and all the love Erik had always had to give.
But strangely Charles’ laughter quickly faded, though the voice still held the remnants of held back giggles, “May I have a shower with you?”
Erik turned to look at him as he stood, the joy and cheekiness that rolled off Charles was like a wave, like a new side of him that had suddenly been let out into a world where he was now allowed to be happy.
It was very hard to resist that cheeky glint in those sky eyes. Not that Erik was trying to.
He gestured to the bathroom with happy smile of his own, “After you.”
And Charles was gone, leaping out from under the covers and running into the bathroom, Erik watching that pale pert behind disappear through the doorway, Charles’ laughter filling ears. It was impossible not to smile, not to grin, not to feel like everything everywhere was ridiculously perfect and that this morning would last till the very end of days. 
If this wasn’t love, Erik didn’t know what was.
He followed Charles into the bathroom, Charles still radiating happiness and staying as close as physically possible to him as they both went through everyone’s usual morning routine, brushing their teeth and shaving, both looking at each other in the mirror as they did, Charles finding it difficult to shave when he couldn’t rid the smile off his face, and Erik not far behind on that problem.

And then, before Erik had barely even stepped into the shower and reached for the water handle, Charles was on him, tongue in his mouth and hands clinging onto clumpfuls of hair which in any other situation would have been painful but now just caused small shivers of pleasure to run down Erik’s spine. 
Erik felt light headed already, but then that was just what Charles did to him. The water spilled down on top of them, perhaps a little colder than Erik would have liked but then water temperature was hardly at the front of his mind right now.  Besides, Charles was more than making up for the heat, standing up on tip toes and kissing him ferociously, tongue lapping at him like a hungry animal, hands pulling down his head by his hair and moaning unequivocally loudly into the kiss.
They hadn’t even said a single word to each other in the shower yet, and Erik’s hands were too busy clamping themselves around Charles and holding him tightly close then to even think about reaching for body wash or shampoo or anything one normally uses in a shower.  Everything was suddenly Charles, both their bodies slick with water, chests sliding against each other, droplets descending swiftly down their skin, dripping from their hair, mouths far too occupied for words, and of course the growing hardness pressing into each other.
Charles was a man starved of love; starved of feeling the touch of someone who he wanted to be touched by, starved of touching another who he wanted to touch, starved of feeling like he was worth something to someone, and now the doors had been opened and everything was pouring out of him all at once.
And Erik was gladly going to oblige in everything Charles wanted.
Erik wondered and kind of hoped this was heading for sex in the shower, but at the same time he wondered just how Charles wanted to go about all this, about sex in general.  He’d only ever been abused for it, so surely this was a more delicate situation then they realised? Erik wanted to love him in the way they held each other, the way they moved together, but at the same time Charles’ presence was maddening to Erik’s libido, especially pressed against him and devouring his mouth like was right now, and wasn’t sure if suddenly pinning him against the tiled wall would make Charles flinch away. It would be a movement of love, really, but to Charles it might remind him too much of the physical violence he’d seen when doing this, held down against his will, and scaring him was the very last thing Erik wanted to do.

Thankfully though it seemed Erik didn’t need to think about it for long with what Charles did next.

Charles released Erik’s hair and those hands travelled swiftly down his chest, sliding across wet slicked skin as still he kissed him, letting water droplets drip from his upper lip to his lower as he took a breath of air before meshing their lips together again, a greedy kiss for the starved man. His finger tips brushed against Erik’s nipples as they travelled downwards, teasing against taught stomach before immediately curling around Erik’s cock.  Before Erik even had a chance to react aside from taking a quick breath against Charles’ lips at the contact, Charles slid down to his knees and that hot eager mouth was sliding over the head of Erik’s cock, already slick with the falling water.
A small surprised grunt escaped Erik’s mouth as one hand flew to the back of Charles’ head, the other out to the side to press against the tiled wall. He had not been expecting that.
“Charles…” he breathed slowly, fingers kneading through Charles’ hair, eyes squeezing shut for a moment at the sensations, “You don’t have to do this.”
He would probably always wonder how it was that Charles wasn’t disgusted of sex, after being abused for it and then living the next 10 years of his life doing nothing but it, how could he even stand it?  Perhaps it came back to the fact that this, with Erik, this wasn’t “just sex”, like the phrase Charles had constantly been using. There was love here and Erik hoped he could see it, and that’s what made it different to every other person Charles had ever been with. If the affectionate look in Charles’ eyes was anything to go by as he looked up at Erik, mouth working hungrily over his cock just as it had been working in his mouth, then yes, this wasn’t just sex anymore, Charles could see the difference. He was doing this of his own free will, Erik hadn’t ordered him too, wasn’t paying him to. Charles wanted this. Charles was an expert at this.
But now those skills were only for Erik.
Erik already felt his knees begin to weaken, Charles’ expert tongue twirling enthusiastically around the head, pushing forward and letting the hard shaft slide down his throat, his hands pulling Erik’s hips forward where they held onto each buttock cheek behind. Erik threw his head back at the feeling, random garbled thoughts of ohgodhesperfectiwanthim running through his mind as the shower rained down on his face.
It must have been uncomfortable kneeling on the hard ceramic of the bath, but Charles certainly wasn’t complaining.  His head bobbed back and forth, his hair falling in straight lines sticking down his forehead as the tumble of water droplets pounded them both.  Erik’s hand was tight in Charles’s hair, breathy groans falling from his lips as he looked back down at the exact moment Charles looked up at him, lips even redder as they worked themselves for Erik’s pleasure, eyelids fluttering in the water droplets as flashes of blue blinked up at him.
The swell of affection in Erik’s chest grew to almost bursting point, “Oh God Charles I love you.”
He was perfect, perfect and his.
He could feel Charles’ lips tighten around his cock where he tried to smile, before Charles closed his eyes again and slid forward as far as he could, nose to pubic hair, Erik letting out a shuddering groan as he screwed his eyes tightly shut, toes curling against the bath and fingers clawing against the tiles.  That wasn’t a small feat to do, Erik wasn’t exactly little or even average down there, but Charles swallowed him whole, again and again, like it was the simplest of tasks.
Erik pried one eye open and watched as Charles moved one hand to his own cock, standing upright and hard in the falling water, and watched as Charles began jerking himself off as he sucked Erik’s cock.  The sight just made a surge of heat pool and boil in his groin like molten lava. This was so much so soon and just like the first time it was getting him off far quicker than he’d ever been before. It was so strong and intense that Erik couldn’t even find the words in time to warn Charles that he was coming before it was too late, and just as Charles swallowed him whole again Erik came, a long loud deep groan rumbling up from his chest as he emptied himself down Charles’ throat.

Charles swallowed everything as he stayed right where he was, Erik deep in his throat, one arm wrapped around his thighs keeping him there, his adam’s apple bobbing as he worked his neck to swallow the very large orgasm he’d just given his now lover. His other hand worked his own cock harder, giving himself pleasure knowing what pleasure he’d just given Erik, a new sensation for him, and he came just as Erik finished, spurting out into the water which then disappeared down the plughole.
As he slowly pulled back, licking up any remaining cum and saliva around the head, Charles slowly released Erik’s cock and stood back up, a very cheeky smile to his lips as the spent Erik leant heavily on his hand against the tiles, staring back at Charles with heavy lidded eyes, chest heaving, and a lopsided grin of his own forming as Charles chuckled heartily and leant forward, slowly capturing Erik’s lips once again.
Charles still tasted of toothpaste but now there was the distinct salty aftertaste of himself, and it had to be one of the most arousing flavours Erik had ever swept his tongue against. Charles had swallowed every last drop, deep in his throat, how he hadn’t choked was put to his experience, but that was for Erik now and Erik ran his fingers through Charles’s wet hair as they stood there together in the shower, spent and leaning against each other idly and happily. Charles kissed Erik’s lips again and again, small sweet kisses, Erik still getting his breath back.  That orgasm had just been that amazing.
Eventually as they parted, the heated blush that had been on Charles’ cheeks gradually fading, Erik smiled lazily at him, “You’re going to be insatiable aren’t you?”
Charles just bit his swelled red bottom lip in a grin, “Oh absolutely.”

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

 It took a long time for them to actually have a shower.

The use of shampoo, soap and flannels had at last finally made it into the equation, the only problem was that as they washed each other, slow caresses down wet soapy skin, eyes locked together, lazy soft kisses still being passed between them as Charles seemed to be surgically attached to Erik’s lips, was that it was all turning them on again. It had ended with both of them falling out the bath, feisty lips not wanting to part, fumbling out of the bathroom towards the bed still dripping wet and soapy, falling onto the bed with writhing gasps and needing groans against each others lips as they both wanked the other off again. It was as though the desperateness for touch was so intense that Charles had to touch him constantly and everywhere and all at the same time and Erik hadn’t come twice in succession so quickly for many years.  Charles was all learning and yet expert hands, it was wonderful.

So it was their 3rdattempt in the shower where they actually left in a cleaner state than they’d arrived in, and by now it was late morning and Charles’ rumbling hungry stomach was still persisting.
It seemed it was going to be a particularly warm day outside, so Erik had dressed in simple dark jeans and a white t-shirt, the one button on it between the collarbones un-done letting the small piece of triangular fabric lay open to one side.  Charles however was back in Erik’s pyjamas.  He only had the clothes he’d worn yesterday, which were now strewn across the floor from where Erik had stripped them away from Charles’ body and thrown them to anywhere out the way.
While they’d dressed Erik had brought up the subject of Charles moving out of his bedsit.  He’d probably need to give notice anyway, so hanging around here for the day while Erik washed and dried Charles’ one set of clothes so he had something to wear back was a perfectly fine and welcome idea.  Any excuse to have him stay a bit longer really, and from the looks of it Charles didn’t want to leave anyway, attaching himself to Erik’s lips again the moment Erik had pulled the t-shirt down over his head.
Every kiss, every touch, every look thrown his way made Erik’s head feel light and fuzzy, Charles really had completely and utterly taken over his life, and Erik wouldn’t have it any other way.  The two of them kept glancing at each as they now picked up their scattered clothes, and when their eyes would meet Charles would lick his lips in such a way it made Erik feel like he was the prey in a hunt, or a battle of wills on who would give in first and pounce on the other one.  Again.
“Oh! Wait, hold on!” Charles broke the playful eye contact with his sudden exclamation as he noticed Erik pick up his trousers. He hurried over and Erik held them up curiously as Charles rooted around in the back pockets, bringing out his pocket knife (which Erik now understood why he carried it with him, after Raven) and two small pills.
“My propranolol.” Charles exclaimed, before smiling knowingly at the question in Erik’s eyes, “I didn’t know with you what would happen, if I’d end up staying or not, so I came prepared.”
This made Erik want to smile, like Charles had been secretly hoping he’d stay the night all along, even before he ended up spilling out his life story.  It was this though that made Erik realise Charles had never mentioned anything about his tremors during his story yesterday.
“When did your tremors start?” he asked, “You never mentioned them.”

If he’d only been getting his pills from Emma after meeting Shaw, then was he being treated before hand by the doctor?
“Oh.” Charles’ face fell a little, but he smiled to hide it, “I don’t remember exactly, it was some time during my two years with the doctor.  I just remember that clients liked me shaking because it made me look like I was scared, made them feel like they had more power over me.” A swell of both sadness and sickening anger filled Erik’s mind as his brows furrowed in a glare at this information, there really were some humans who just didn’t deserve to be alive on this planet, and a lot of them seemed to have congregated around Charles.  “The tremors are genetic,” Charles continued, turning away from Erik and continuing to pick up the few remaining clothes, “I have vague memories of my father’s hands shaking every now and then when I was very little, but I never paid any attention to it and never asked. Silly really, too young to understand.“ he paused as he picked up his shirt, staring down at the crumpled material in his hands before looking back up at Erik with rather soulful eyes, “They’re usually triggered by something stressful in your life.  I think that…what I went through pretty much counts as stressful.”
Erik stared at him softly, “No kidding.” He said quietly, before walking forward and taking the clothes out of Charles’ arms and picking up the bed sheets and stripped duvet, which were now rather dirty after last night and their little wet adventure on it this morning.  He kissed Charles’ cheek as he walked by towards the door, lingering there for a moment just enjoying the warmth which made Charles smile as he stood there, not really knowing what to do so just leaning into it, “I’ll put these on to wash.  What do you want for breakfast?” Erik asked as pulled back and walked out into the living room.  A change of subject was needed, he didn’t like the lost look in Charles’ eyes when he was reminded of that time, and especially not when Erik had caused it to be there.
“Oh, something big, I’m ravenous.” Charles said, the cheerfulness back in his voice which Erik smiled to himself at as he placed the clothes and linen into the washing machine. Something big.  He could make an omelette, a really big really unhealthy really tasty one, get some food inside that rumbling stomach. That smooth, gorgeously kissable stomach.  “Although,” he heard Charles say somewhere behind him as he poured some liquid detergent into the open slot, still planning breakfast in his mind, “I suppose I’ve already had something rather big for breakfast.”
His voice had dropped to a purr as his arms snaked around Erik’s waist from behind. Erik stood there, paused in his movements, before gently shaking his head to himself and grinning, “I suppose I should take that as a compliment?” He asked over his shoulder, and he felt Charles’ chuckle against his back. Charles was going to be a cheeky and physical lover wasn’t he?
“You’re probably the biggest I’ve seen, just so you know.” He grinned, squeezing him tighter as Erik pressed the switch to turn on the washing machine and it whirred into life, trying to ignore the fact he was actually blushing over Charles’ comment. It just so happened he had been complimented over his size before, but from Charles it just seemed more…embarrassing, it made him feel like that teenager again. A lot about Charles made him feel like that.   “Mmmm, vibrations.” Charles purred again, Erik now definitely freezing in any movement as he felt Charles slip his hands between the washing machine and Erik’s waist, his growing hardness again pressing between Erik’s butt cheeks, that hand travelling slowly downwards, downwards, pressing between the vibrations and Erik’s large cock…
Erik, even to his own surprise, was just laughing.  Much to Charles’ sulky dislike Erik turned around in his arms before this could go any further, only to be met with a delicious and adorable pout. Those lips were perfect for pouting. To make up for the loss Erik just cupped his face and leant in to kiss him once and softly, tongue wetting those rosy lips before brushing against them, and then leaving them with a small kissing sound, “What have I gotten myself into with you?”

He could tell he was going to be more exhausted sex wise than ever before, only Charles would get instantly turned on by a washing machine, and there was a constantly building excitement inside him at all the time they could have together now.  Though Erik had to admit, for that small moment with Charles’ hand pressed against himself soaking up the vibrations, it felt rather a little too good than he’d like to admit. Perhaps they could make good use of this surface at a later time. The wicked ideas that entered his head made him inwardly grin.
At Erik’s affectionate words the pout on Charles’ lips disappeared and that sneaky grin returned, “You have no idea.”

Indeed he didn’t, but he was going to have fun finding out.
Charles passed that wet pink tongue deliberately slowly over his lips again, Erik feeling that every time he did that he just wanted to replace that tongue with his own. He knew what those lips felt like against his tongue, and there was no better place for it.  Charles leant up and pressed those freshly wet lips against his, drawing out a long slow kiss, his hands on Erik’s wrists by his side, Erik’s tongue back where it should be.  Sliding against that delicious heat, there was no better feeling. 

It was home.

When Charles slowly pulled away though, there was a more solemn expression to his features, which was a shame really because Erik could quite happily have leant in again to continue that wonderfully lengthy kiss. “Seriously though, Erik, you will tell me if I do something wrong won’t you?”
Erik blinked at him curiously, “What do you mean?” he asked in all honesty.
“Well…it’s just I have no idea how to be in a relationship, to be someone’s boyfriend,” Charles smiled nervously, his fingers releasing Erik’s wrists and now standing there not touching him and looking strangely awkward, “I don’t really know what to do and I don’t want to do anything wrong.  I know I seem fairly normal on the outside but inside…in my head….” He paused, a crease to his brows which made suddenly made Erik look at him very worried.  What exactly was he trying to say, what precisely did he think about?  “…well, they’re not particularly pleasant thoughts, and I’m just scared that I might…scare you away.” He shrugged his shoulders a little, looking up at Erik through his eyelashes, “I just want you to know you might be getting more than you bargained for with me, that’s all.”
Erik had no delusions about Charles being more messed up than he seemed, he’d noted that several times before, because no matter how much or little he remembers Charles will have scars from this ordeal that has lasted for half his life.  Hank was right, Charles probably would need counselling and much of it, people have been through far less and needed a lot of help, and there is a lot more there that he needs help with. Charles may have stuck with selling himself to people to get money to live, may have been his own way of coping knowing he was working towards his goal of an education, but that coping way was still just as damaging. A life of sleeping with people, of prostitution, even on a good soul like Charles’ that would leave deep scars, the betrayal, and the loneliness, the death and lies and torment, everything.
Erik gently ran one hand through Charles’ hair, not liking the no contact between them, cupping the back of his head as he brushed his bangs away from his forehead with the other.  Charles’ mind was just as precious as his body, even more so, and he wouldn’t let him lose it. Whatever dark thoughts were running through his mind, Erik would remove them.
“You won’t have to go through anything else on your own Charles,” he said quietly, but sternly, looking to Charles’ eyes and holding his gaze firmly, “No matter what happens, no matter what it takes, I will be with you through everything. I promise you that.”

They had had their moments of fun this morning, of agreements to stay and happiness finally in Charles’ eyes, but none of them compared to this.  Charles was now looking at him like he was the most precious item in the world, pressing his lips together in small fragile looking smile, like he wanted to cry but was refusing to give in.  No one had ever said that to Charles, that was plain to see. The words were new and exactly right, exactly what was needed, and Erik soon found himself with an armful of Charles again, hard lips against red, and he felt Charles melt beneath his hands as he sucked gently on his tongue, pulling it in, closer and hotter and pouring in every truth that came with every word that he’d said.

“Mmm,” Charles hummed into the kiss, clinging to Erik’s shirt, before his lips suddenly broke into a smile he couldn’t hide and he pulled away, “I thought you might say that.” He said, before leaning in to him and closing his eyes, breathing in his scent and adding more timidly “I was hoping you’d say that.”
“One day at a time Charles.” Erik smiled, before taking him by the shoulders “Now, breakfast, you’re not putting it off any longer.”


The rest of the day passed as one of the happiest of Erik’s life.  Everything was simple and normal, but simple normal things with Charles seemed like the greatest experiences. He still had his days off from work so he had no need to call in to say “sorry, not coming in, spending all day with my new boyfriend and plan on doing nothing but keeping him in my arms all day”.

They didn’t venture outside of the house at all. They watched a bit of television, cooked lunch together even though they’d only had breakfast a few hours before, played another round of chess (which Charles won), and sat curled up together on the sofa as Charles would tell Erik of what few happy memories he had as a small child while his father was still alive. The best story had been about making snow angels with him one Christmas morning, and then coming inside to see his mother had made the biggest tall glasses of hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows that the little six year old Charles had ever seen. Back then she had been a true mother, happy and content, wealthy, a loving husband, a cute little son, everything was perfect in the Xavier household that Christmas. Unfortunately though it came with a sad memory, for it had been the last Christmas he’d had with a happy family. The Christmas next year Charles had spent alone, his mother drunk and wailing to herself somewhere in the upper rooms, little Charles sitting under the huge expensively decorated Christmas tree that the servants had erected, alone, and with no presents.

It was possibly one of the saddest images Erik had ever come across.  Being Jewish he obviously never celebrated Christmas, but the thought of a small 7 year old Charles all alone, hearing nothing but his mothers cries, looking up at the tall tree empty of gifts, the image pulled desperately at his heart.  No one should be alone on their faith’s special day.

It occurred to Erik then that this would be his first year without lighting the Menorah with his mother, and that just made him feel even worse.

Moving on from Charles’ stories Erik had even played Charles a German piano piece his father had once taught him, showing him the keys and after some short practising sessions Charles even shared a few of the notes as they played it together, squashed side by side on the seat, Charles still grinning and so content with this day.
Time not spent doing simple things like that were spent with Charles’ lips attacking Erik’s own again. They were like a magnet, couldn’t be apart for long before they’d suddenly be drawn back. Erik had been standing in the kitchen cooking the pasta for lunch, turned to take some grated cheese from the fridge when Charles had wrapped his arms around his neck and those lips had made contact. Erik had been leaning across to take a Knight off the chessboard, attention on where he was placing it so didn’t notice Charles move forward from his chair and capture his lips over the board, short and sweet and still with that cheeky smile on his face when he pulled away.  Even when they had watched the BBC news earlier on, Erik reaching across Charles where they sat on the sofa together to reach the remote, Charles leant in and started trailing little kisses up Erik’s jaw to his lips.

Every opportunity when his lips were in range Charles would be there.
But it wasn’t just Charles, Erik had barely paid attention to anything that wasn’t Charles all day. Like what the current episode of QI was talking about on the television as they sat watching it, Charles thoroughly enjoying the intellectual comedy quiz show while Erik was just happily watching him watching the TV.  The way he could see that smile begin to creep to his lips before he’d laugh, his eyes bright and eager and soaking in all the information like the learning student that he was.  Charles had said he hadn’t watched any television programs since living in New York, so Erik suggested they sit and watch QI that he’d recorded off his Sky+ Box last Friday.  He figured Charles would like that sort of program, though he probably wouldn’t know the comedians staring in it, and he must have been right because it was the only half hour when Charles hadn’t kissed him.
He kissed him afterwards though; in fact they’d spent probably another good half hour making out on the sofa before it was time for dinner. Erik had made it his personal mission to get Charles to eat.
It wasn’t until their second chess match of the evening though that things began to heat up again.  Whether on purpose or by accident Charles had picked up his white Queen and then suddenly decided he wasn’t sure where to put it.  Instead he’d placed the tip of it in his mouth in thought, eyes racking over the board apparently unaware of how Erik’s eyes had gone wide and were watching with rapt attention at where Charles’ tongue was sliding…no, caressing, over the tip of the chess piece, the white shining with saliva. When Charles had looked up and noticed Erik staring at his mouth, a redness forming over his cheeks at what he was watching, Charles grinned around the piece and simply trailed his tongue slowly further down it, down the short smooth shaft in the middle of the piece, keeping direct eye contact the whole time.
Needless to say within seconds Erik had risen from his chair and grabbed Charles, picking him up to sit on the small round table and kissed him deeply, tongue lavishing on Charles’ and showing him exactly what he’d been doing to that chess piece from Erik’s point of view. It was a split moment that Erik’s libido had taken control, but a split second afterwards Erik had panicked, wondering if this sudden forceful movement would be one that would scare Charles, just like what he had worried about in the shower.

As it turned out his fears were unfounded, for the pieces on the board were now long gone, flown to the floor as Charles’ hand knocked them clear as he moved quickly back on the table, pulling Erik down on top of him, hardening cocks pressed against one another. Charles’ hands had disappeared up under Erik’s t-shirt and Erik’s down Charles’s lose pyjama bottoms, pulling them down with a yank.
It was then though that Charles had suddenly stopped and exclaimed with a yelp that there was a bishop between his buttocks.
The two of them had paused in their ravishing of skin, before they took one look at each other and burst into hysterical laughter.  Not once in his life had Erik ever laughed like this, like a never-ending bubbling that rose deep within him to the surface, laughter after laughter as Charles clung to him trying to breath, trying to move so he could dislodge the unwelcome chess piece but unable to through fear of falling off the table into a massive heap of tangled hysterical limbs.
By the time they’d got their breath back and Charles had finally managed to move and knock the wandering bishop to the floor, Erik had been grinning at him so widely almost every tooth could be seen.  It had been such a genuine truly happy grin, and it had just made Charles laugh at him and kiss him, feeling those teeth with his own tongue as he kissed out the laughter and brought Erik back to business.
 “You do realise we’ve just turned chess into foreplay?” Erik had asked with amusement, and Charles had just shrugged, an air of comical indifference.
“Sounds good to me.” He’d replied, before licking his lips far too slowly and pulling Erik back down, wrapping his legs around his waist as he leant back on the table and on top of the now empty chess board, the game long since forgotten.

Something about making love on top of a chess board was a real turn on, but the poor little table wasn’t that big, and being round was an awkward shape to do this on. Perhaps, Erik had thought, he should turn Charles around, have him leaning over the table, loving the hot image it gave him of Charles looking at him over his shoulder, all willing and ready. But, at the same time he’d remembered what Charles had said about that position when they’d first met, about people not wanting to see his face because it was embarrassing.  That position was very open but it was also very impersonal, and Erik had wanted to stick to his plan of loving him not just meaningless sex for the sake of it.

Luckily Charles had already decided for him, because if he had wanted to turn around he would have unlocked his legs from around him, would have let him loose from being clamped down on top of him, would have stopped kissing him hungrily and certainly wouldn’t be pushing Erik’s hand hurriedly between his legs.

Erik had to commend the little table, for the fast heat that had risen between them had the table pushing back against the wooden floor thrust after thrust, Charles’ head falling back off the edge, mouth agape in an o as he’d held onto Erik’s shoulders so he wouldn’t fall off, grunts and gasps and blissful moans tumbling from his lips on every thrust, Erik ravishing his exposed neck.
By the time they’d finished the table had been moved back against the wall with the force of their love making, and now the two lovers were curled up under a blanket on the sofa, naked, sated, and still kissing.
It really was a ridiculously happy day, nothing had ever felt this good or this right, but Erik knew that he’d have to take Charles back home at some point tonight, if only to collect clothes for tomorrow to bring back here, although technically Charles should probably stay in his bedsit and talk to Shaw in the morning. Charles was moving out, had to give notice, but every time Erik thought of Shaw he had to remind himself how he had saved Charles’ life, that no matter how many times he’d used him for…for sex, the words even thought through clenched teeth, that Charles wouldn’t even be here in his arms if not for Shaw.
They’d have to move, get Charles’ clothes out of the tumble dryer, probably take yet another shower, get dressed and get in the car.
Though they would have to stop kissing first.
Kissing someone had never brought as much pleasure to Erik as kissing Charles did.  He could do it for hours; in fact they probably had by now.  It was such a simple gesture of love but it was so warm and inviting, so comfortable and right to sit there with your love wrapped in your arms just kissing them. Charles really had perfect lips to kiss, red like cherries, a natural lipstick any woman would kill for, and just when he thought they couldn’t possibly get any redder Erik would stop kissing him and look down at them, swollen with nips and kisses and burning that red so seductively they just had to be kissed again.

It was a simple pleasure, kissing, and one Erik had never truly appreciated until now.
“I should probably get you home.” Erik reluctantly said through placing small soft butterfly kisses across Charles’ right cheek, happy contented sighs leaving Charles’ lips.
“Yes, I suppose.” Charles conceded, before threading his fingers through Erik’s now rather dishevelled hair and slipping his tongue between his lips for the hundredth time that day.
“You don’t seem to be moving.” Erik said as they parted again, pulling Charles closer as he nibbled along that crimson bottom lip.
“Neither do you.” It was obvious neither of them wanted to move, wrapped up against each others skin under the blanket, warm and comfortable and feeling very slothful and safe. So the lazy kisses passing between them carried on for a little while longer, until with a small chuckle Charles finally pulled away, “No you’re right, we really should go.  The sooner I talk to Shaw the quicker I can move in here.” He smiled at Erik, Erik’s own lips now fairly red from so much action.

“We’d better get dressed before we venture outside then.” Erik pointed out with a smirk, sliding his hands down Charles’ bare arms.
Charles let out a small giggle, before finally and slowly climbing out of Erik’s arms and standing up, taking the blanket with him. He captured his bottom lip with his teeth and raised his eyebrows twice in quick cheeky succession as he stared down at the naked Erik before him, before walking off to the bedroom with the blanket wrapped around him like a cocoon, leaving the nude Erik alone on the sofa.

Erik sighed, a satisfied, relaxed sigh. 
Life with Charles, this was going to be extremely interesting.
And extremely sexual.
It was dark now, almost 9.30pm, but as Erik pulled up in his usual parking spot outside the alleyway the usual quiet darkened street seemed to be alive with people.  Someone’s birthday by the sounds of it, drunken teenagers staggering down the streets and rambunctious out of tune singing and loud music coming from somewhere in the distance, probably the bar up the road that looked like it had seen better days.
“Do you think you’ll get to see Shaw in the morning?” Erik asked, turning to look at Charles as he un-clicked his seatbelt as they sat in the faint darkness of the car.
“I’ll phone him, he’ll probably want to come round to finalise everything, I’ve seen him before with other tenants who were moving out.”
Erik turned in his seat to face more towards him, a worry to his brow.  He still wasn’t happy with the idea of Charles meeting up with his landlord.  The man had been using him for sex for Gods sake, and somehow he felt that if Charles just turned around to him and said “Sorry I don’t want to do this anymore” that Shaw would hardly reply “Oh okay.” and leave him be.
“Are you sure you don’t want me stay the night? I mean…what if he tries something with you?” If the man laid a finger on Charles anymore Erik would cut if off. 

Really, he would.
“I’ll be fine,” Charles said with an affectionate smile, hearing Erik’s worry for him, “besides I have my pocket knife remember?”
“That doesn’t fill me with confidence Charles I hardly want you to become a murderer.”
Charles half glared at him, Erik glaring straight back annoyed that he wasn’t taking his concern seriously.  He knew Charles wasn’t used to people caring for him but he must know Shaw better than most so must know what he’d do if his 10 year fuck toy decided to move out.

 The two continued to glare at each other before Charles turned, almost rolling his eyes at Erik’s protectiveness, his eyes glancing absently to the street. As he did though Charles did a double take, before suddenly smiling widely at what he was looking at.
“Oh I don’t believe it! What a stroke of luck!”
“What?” Erik asked, following his gaze and seeing nothing but more drunken teenagers walking by and two men who…….wait a minute…Erik narrowed his eyes…that was…
“The man next to Azazel, that’s Shaw.” Charles pointed, the two men not seeing them as they turned down the alleyway, “I can go up and talk to him now, get it all done as quickly as I can.”
Charles turned to Erik with a grin thinking he’d be smiling at this news, but he wasn’t.  Erik was watching the darkened figures disappear into the shadows with a dangerous glare, memorising the light brown hair and the hazel eyes and the way the man walked several steps ahead of Azazel like he owned the man. He disliked him even more now he’d seen him.
 “What’s he doing here at this time of night?” Erik asked, feeling like the hair on the back of his neck was standing up like a wary cat.
“Probably rent checking,” Charles replied, seemingly not picking up on the dangerous aura around Erik, “he likes to surprise tenants with an unscheduled visit, a pain in the arse I can tell you, especially when he does it during the day as I’d be asleep mostly during the day.”
There was a brief silence as Erik continued to stare down the alleyway where the man he’d punched and the man he really wanted to punch had now disappeared through. He had a terribly bad feeling about this.
“I really want to punch that man.” Erik verbally announced his dark thought.
“He saved my life Erik,” Charles reminded him plainly, “gave me a place to live.”
“That doesn’t excuse everything else he’s done to you.” Erik replied, staring back at him sternly and slightly disbelievingly.  He knew he kept on about it but Shaw had used him for sex! Why wasn’t Charles more disgusted about this-...oh, right, he was probably used to it after 10 years, just another little snippet on how messed up Charles was inside. To be used and abused and to brush it off with a “he saved my life once, it’s fine”.

It didn’t stop Erik from still glaring at him though, trying to get across that he was really not happy with this. “I’m coming up with you to see him.” He finished, and without another word turned in his seat to open the door before Charles suddenly grabbed his arm.
“No Erik don’t!”
“Why not?” Erik exclaimed, glaring back at him again. He did not want to leave Charles alone with that man!
“Because Azazel will recognise you and probably immediately tell Shaw that you’re the one that punched him and threatened Emma!  It won’t help me if you’re there.”
“But-“ Erik immediately said, but had no sentence to follow with. Reluctant to admit, but Charles had a point, he didn’t want to anger Shaw even further, he was after all responsible for losing him the money that Charles was giving him for the propranolol. The ridiculous £500 a month, squeezing Charles for everything he was worth and lying and oh GOD why was Charles defending this man?!
“Erik, it’s alright.” Charles said softly at the silence, placing his palm gently against Erik’s cheek, “At the end of the day I’m still just a tenant, he can’t say no if I want to move out.”
Against every logical sane thought in his mind Erik finally released a breath in defeat, his mind not coming up with any other ideas, though that may have been the calming effect of Charles’ hand on his cheek.

“Okay,” he said, annoyance obvious in his voice, “but I am staying right here until you come back down again to tell me he’s gone, alright?”
“I could be a while.” Charles pointed out, a smile creeping back to his lips at Erik’s protective attitude as he stroked his thumb across Erik’s cheek.
 “I don’t care, I’m waiting here.” There was no way he was leaving Charles alone with Shaw, let alone Shaw and Azazel.  He took Charles’ hand from his cheek and gently kissed the back of his fingers, Charles’ eyes relaxing in fondness at the innocent action,  “But if you’re not back in half an hour I am coming up there, I mean it, I don’t care what Azazel says about me.”
“Alright, agreed.” Charles chuckled, before leaning over and kissing him once more.  It was another lingering lazy kiss, like the ones they’d been sharing all day, soft and gentle and pulling out Erik’s bottom lip as they parted.
 It was a kiss that promised he’d be back as soon as possible, but Erik still felt so uneasy, so he captured his lips again and pulled them back, kissing him back harder as he cupped the back of his neck, holding him there as he suckled on his tongue, making it deeper and pouring every ounce of worry and love into it.
When they parted Charles took a panting breath to get the oxygen back, a blush to his cheeks visible even in the darkness in the car, “I’ll be fine.” He assured slightly breathlessly, casting him one more smile that Erik didn’t return before turning to the door handle and stepping out the car.
“You’d better be.” Erik warned, seeing Charles flash him an exasperated yet affectionate smile before shutting the car door behind him.
Erik had never felt so on edge and nervous and this was going against everything his brain was telling him to do, watching Charles follow the darkness down the alleyway until he was gone. Erik looked at the clock in the car, 9.41pm. 10.11pm and he was going up there, he wasn’t leaving anything to chance and wasn’t going to have this perfect day ruined by Sebastian ‘the pervert’ Shaw.
Or maybe he’d make it a simple 10pm.
Or maybe he should just start walking slowly now and be done with it.

11 years ago.
After Charles and Raven’s escape….
Janos’ frantic search for his doctor during the raid was finally set to relief as he heard the familiar voice call out his name, the voice he had known ever since he was a small terrified little boy, taken from his home in Barcelona by the very same man.  Pushing past the guards and ducking from another explosion he felt his wrist being grabbed, and Janos was pulled alongside his doctor running together, down more corridors to another exit from the building, one that had always been planned as an escape route uncase the building was ever infiltrated, the exit coming out further down the street.
A large and sleek black Mercedes car awaited outside, and Janos knew the drill by now, running up to the passenger door and opening it for the doctor to enter.  He’d driven his doctor to many places, accompanied him on many kidnappings, even to America that one time where he’d been ordered to take photographs of the teenage boys on the ship back home, remembering the boy with the bright blue eyes that had been such a popular boy to fuck once settled in here. So many clients had looked through their catalogue, seeing Charles’ photo and wanting him above all the others they kept here, just like Janos had been at that age.
Janos turned to his doctor but the man was looking down the street, to a young boy and girl running hand in hand through the confused high street shoppers.
“Doctor!” Janos called, panicked that the police would find them, would take him away from the man he lived for, “Doctor Schmidt!”
The hazel eyes of Doctor Klaus Schmidt finally looked upon his personal fuck toy, loyal and broken and tamed, before casting a quick sharp smile back to the running teenagers.
“Take me to Hellfire.” He eventuallycommanded, climbing in through the door being held open for him, throwing the suitcase full of cash and important documents he’d saved from the raids onto the seat next to him.  Janos immediately got into the drivers-seat and started up the engine, turning into the high street and blending in with the other cars, eyes nervous for any sight or sound of police cars.
Schmidt look a cigarette calmly from a silver box in his inside pocket, placed it in his mouth, and watched through blackened windows as the car sped past Charles and Raven, running terrified and looking back over their shoulders to see if they were being followed.
He smiled around the cigarette, holding it still as he lit it. Unfortunately it seemed his life as Dr Schmidt was over. It was a shame, losing all those boys that had been at his disposal, it had been such a successful endeavour into Human Trafficking and had lasted for so many years. But he was a sensible man, always had been, which was why he lived two lives.  The life of Doctor Schmidt, his original birth name, was neck deep in illegal activates and was what supplied him with his large income and connections in the underworld. Selling boys had been a huge profit, but he knew when he was beat.  The police would be on to him now, he’d lasted for 25 years in this business so it had only been a matter of time before he was discovered. Now was time to disappear from that life and continue with the second life he had as a back-up, the life of a man whose only illegal activity was dabbling in a few black market drugs for those desperate junkies that lived on the outskirts of London, keeping up the appearance of a respectable club owner and landlord.
“Now to return to the life of Sebastian Shaw.” He sighed quietly to himself, settling himself back against the leather seats and letting out a long breath of smoke, making a mental note to get in contact with a dear friend of his, a fellow doctor, Doctor Stryker, and his invaluable abilities into making people disappear.
To Be Continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

Erik had never felt more on edge in his life.  He stared continuously at the green digital figures of the time embedded in the dashboard, in fact stared so hard that on more than one occasion he was sure the figures had stopped moving entirely.  He sat in the dark of his car, the drunken laughs from the street up ahead not helping the tension in his shoulders, eyes flickering up to the loud party wanting to shout out of the car window for them all to shut up so he could concentrate on his worrying.
It was almost 10pm now and Erik was itching to get out the car, but he also didn’t want to ruin the given opportunity for Charles to discuss calmly with Shaw about moving out.  Bursting through the door and throwing Charles over his shoulder calling Shaw all various names under the sun and punching him for good measure would not be a well thought-out plan.  For Charles’ sake he’d give Shaw the benefit of the doubt, but it still meant Erik was sitting upright and rigid, fingers drumming along the steering wheel, mentally willing those small numbers to move faster and not to slow down, which is the only thing they appeared to be doing.
He did not like this one bit. Yes okay so Shaw had saved Charles’ life, all very grateful, but nothing gave him the right to use Charles for sex whenever he wanted just because he felt like Charles now owed him.  All Charles had ever been used for was sex, it was like a curse that followed him everywhere, from the doctor, to the streets, to Shaw performing an act of kindness only with a hidden perverted want in return.  It was no wonder Charles had been all over Erik today. To some they would be terrified and sick of sex if they had gone through what Charles had, but Charles had just desperately wanted to feel what it should have always been like, love and acceptance and playful flirting, like normal people do. To be the one to want it, and not have it forced on him unwillingly, to actually want to perform that most intimate act with someone who loved him.  Erik could feel it with every touch today, every kiss every glance every breath that ghosted across his skin. Charles wanted Erik, because Erik loved Charles.
Which meant sending Charles back up with Shaw just made Erik’s hands clench tightly around the steering wheel.  Yes Shaw may not do anything, may just let Charles leave, but somehow Erik found it doubtful.  Even in the dark Erik could feel the coldness in those eyes as Shaw had walked by, hidden behind a cocky demeanour, a man who looked down at everyone not just Charles.  It made his skin crawl.
Which was why, as he sat there poised and tense and staring forever at the time, that when his mobile phone suddenly rang it startled him so much he grabbed it from his pocket and very nearly threw it out the door, a choice string of swear words on his lips for the entire world to shut the fuck up!
As it happened he refrained from throwing it out and instead answered it with his usual but now very stern, “What?!
“Erik this is really important where are you?!”
The anger bubbling inside him ready to explode at whoever was on the other end of his phone died immediately at the rushed and panicked tone to Moira’s voice.  There were other voices in the background, hurried hasty sounds of footsteps and the slamming of car doors before a police car siren started to whir loudly down the line.
“I’m…outside Charles’ home.” The tone had caught him off guard and he suddenly felt rather deflated, “Why what’s wrong?”
“Are you back together with him?” She was talking so fast, as though time would run out before she got to the end of her sentences.
 “What?” Erik exclaimed, entirely not expecting to be asked that, “Why?”
“Just answer me Erik!” Moira shouted down her phone, possibly over the sound of the sirens but probably more because she now sounded highly pissed off with him, “Are you with him or not? And if you are my God you had better tell me you know everything about him because if not I’m telling you right now!”
What?!” Erik started, mind racing with what exactly Moira meant by those words, a shadow looming that she had found out about Charles being a rent boy. “Yes I’m with him, yes I know Moira what is going on?!” He wasn’t going to elaborate if she wasn’t, and this was incredibly unlike her to lose her cool like this and it was unnerving Erik in an entirely different way to how he was feeling sitting here alone watching the time tick by. Why on Earth was she asking about Charles? And why did she sound so panicked in doing so?
Erik just…” Moira paused briefly before letting out a loud frustrated sigh, succumbing to asking something she didn’t want to say. “…fuck do you know about Doctor Schmidt? About Charles being sold and used for sex? Do you have any idea about the stuff this man has been through-“
“YES, yes I know about that!” Erik quickly interrupted, an angry tint to his voice feeling an invasion of privacy on Charles’ behalf.
Had their little acting session in the pub really failed that badly? He’d wondered if Moira had suspected if something was strange with Charles, but actually doing a background check on him? If she thought looking up his past was somehow supposed to be a kind gesture, to somehow “save” Erik from having someone who had slept with who knows how many hundreds of men and was probably more messed in the head than anyone either of them had met, then he had a very unkind string of words ready to throw back at her.  “Charles told me about his past last night, but how the hell do you know and what’s this got to do-?”
“I’m on my way now to the Hellfire Club to arrest Schmidt, it might be an idea to get Charles and take him home with you, I’m going to need to question him later on anyway, providing this all goes well. I don’t think this is going to be easy I’m taking a whole set of squad cars with me.”
Erik hadn’t listened to a word she’d said, not after the name Schmidt fell upon his ears and his heart had all but stilled in his chest. All other sound seemed to disappear, all he could hear was that name and Hellfire, ringing in his ears like a repetitive taunt, his mind wiped clean of all thought.
“What do you mean arresting Schmidt? Wasn’t he arrested years ago? Why is he at Hellfire? Is he still following Charles?!” Each question Erik’s voice had risen in volume and anger, his heart gone from still to racing madly as his other hand flew to the handle of the door, panic bubbling up fast. 

Surely she had meant to say Shaw, because if Schmidt was still free, if he was stalking Charles...
“Listen to me very carefully Erik,” Moira said, her voice straining a calmness as though to keep Erik’s own anger from boiling over, “You remember when we all met up in the pub, and I said to you that I was sure I had seen Charles but couldn’t remember where from? Well I remembered, the other day when you told me his surname, from one of the first cases I was on just over 9 years ago. This is a really long story Erik but cut short when looking up that old case it led me to another.  I would have told you sooner but I got to a dead end.  The case in question was a cold case file, un-solved, and it was only this evening just a few minutes ago as I left for home when I happened to glance down at a colleagues desk, where there were files and photograph of a man he was gathering evidence against in a new case involving black market drugs.  The name said Sebastian Shaw, but I knew that face.  It was the same face of the man I had been staring at all day in security camera tapes, the same man that disappeared making that case cold. I knew that face as Doctor Klaus Schmidt.”
There was no possible way to describe the flood of intense fury and fear that flooded through Erik’s entire body. He couldn’t think, couldn’t see, at least nothing except the faceless Doctor suddenly appearing as Sebastian Shaw, the man who had travelled to America to kidnap a helpless brother and sister, the man who took the lives of boys and sold them for physical pleasure, the man who had kept Charles in a single room for two years, laying there frightened and unable to do anything but comply with his rapists wishes...
“Oh God…” Erik whispered, more to himself as all the pieces finally fell into place.
…the man who has been with Charles ever since, lying about Charles’ illness, lying about the money needed for those drugs, lying about who he really was; the man that had destroyed Charles’ life, and still destroying it more and more little by little every day…
Erik’s voice was barely an audible whisper as adrenaline rushed through his veins, “Charles is with him now….he’s here…”
“What, Schimdt? At Charles’ apartment? Where is that?” Moira asked quickly, the sound of shuffling papers coming down the phone as she tried to find the address of the tower building Shaw owned amongst the pile of files she had on her lap. 
But there was silence from Erik.
Moira paused when she realised he hadn’t answered, “...........Erik?”
There was a clatter as Erik dropped his phone, cluttering amongst the cup holders before falling to the floor.  The car door was sprung open as Erik tore away, not even giving time to close it behind him as he sprinted into the alleyway.
Moira screamed down the phone, unheard by its owner, “ERIK?! NO! WAIT TILL I GET THER-...shit, DON’T DO ANYTHING STUPID!!!”
But Erik was long gone, through the garages and past the skeletal burnt car frame, half running half falling down the concrete steps and barging through the worn wooden door.  His head was clouded with white-hot rage and a soul-eating fear, and there was only one thought going through his mind: Get to Charles.
All this time, all these years, and Charles had never once known who Shaw really was. Shaw was the reason behind all of this, all of Charles’ misery and pain had started with this man.  Charles’ life was full of nothing but sex and lies and all of it from Shaw.  He was going to kill him, he was going throw him out of the bedsit window and watch him splatter on the concrete below where he can never hurt Charles again.
Somewhere in the back of his mind was Moira’s voice, a screaming voice for him to calm down, to not do something he would regret, to unclench his fists so his palms would stop bleeding where his fingernails were breaking the skin.
Within moments he was at Charles’ door, and he banged his fist against it so hard the walls either side shook from the force, “CHARLES?!”
There was panicked heavy breathing coming from inside and a lot of movement, a loud thump as though something heavy had fallen to the ground, before Charles’ horrified voice called out, “E-Erik!”
The desperate plea for help in his voice boiled Erik’s anger, and without a second thought Erik stood back, raised his right leg and forcefully kicked out against the door.  Like everything else in the building the door was flimsy, thin and old, and it splintered where Erik’s foot had landed.  It only took one more kick and the door flew away from its hinges, landing flat against the cheap carpet flooring.
Erik froze at what he saw inside. 
It had been the bedside table that had fallen over, and Charles’ penknife was open and sharp and lying on the floor not far from the door. Charles was on his knees, upper body bent over the bed as Shaw held his arms painfully behind his back.  Shaw was pressed against him, kneeling behind him with his knees parted and locking Charles’ tightly together. Charles was looking up at Erik, head strained at an awkward angle to view him, panting in fear and eyes wide and pleading. Shaw stared at Erik from behind Charles, mouth slightly agap, his bottom lip bleeding as well as a gash across his right cheek.
And then Erik noticed Charles' trousers and underwear were pulled down to his thighs.
A surge of anger shot up through Erik like an erupting volcano, eyes as sharp as daggers piercing through Shaw’s skull, taking in a trembling breath in readiness to lunge forward and rip Shaw's head from his neck.

But unfortunately, before he could find the order to move, in that same moment a sequence of other events took place in very quick succession.  

Erik didn't notice Shaw's gaped lips close in a cruel smile, didn't notice Charles' eyes widen further still at something behind Erik, and didn't hear his words in time of "NO DON’T!" before suddenly Erik’s legs began to feel very weak.  He frowned in an odd confusion, his entire body feeling exhausted and sleepy and finding it hard to remain standing, all the rage melting out of him. 

What the….what was….

He slowly raised his hand to the side of his neck, rubbing his fingers across the broken skin where Azazel had just shoved a needle into the side of his neck, the Russian standing behind him, empty injection in hand.

Erik couldn’t concentrate, couldn’t grasp the fact that someone had just injected him with something, his gaze becoming unfocused as he stumbled forward. He tried to make out the blurry mess that was Charles' face as the colours around him all mixed together, Charles struggling under Shaw as all noise disappeared like cotton wool had been stuffed into ears.

"Shh...arles...." Erik slurred, finding the blur of azure eyes, finding the distorted red mouth that Erik was sure cried out in terrified disbelief, “No please, not again...”, and watching as a black bag was shoved over Charles’ head, before Erik fell to the floor unconscious.


Erik awoke with a start, head springing upright from where it had been lolloping forward unconscious where he sat. The room he was in was insanely bright, and he immediately closed his eyes the moment he opened them. His mind was foggy and slow, head spinning behind his eyelids, but as he tried to lift his hands to rub at his eyes he found he couldn’t.  Keeping his eyes closed against the light Erik frowned, realising that he was sitting on a hard flooring with his hands…what was that, handcuffs?….tied around a marble column behind him.  The more the drug inside him wore off the more he realised just how painful of a position it was, the column thick and stretching his arms around it painfully, the handcuffs pulling at his wrists and his shoulder blades digging into the marble.

He heard an accented voice, “They’re awake.” And Erik opened his eyes again.

Squinting and letting his eyes adjust to the light, it took some time for the objects around him to come into focus.  Where the hell was he? It looked like a very large and mostly empty spacious living room, large wall to ceiling windows on one entire side looking out over a balcony and down over an expanse of green countryside. Wherever this was it was up high, and it was also still night, the odd distant dot of light scattering the dark greenery.  The immaculately polished light wooden flooring spread out around the round sunken floor where Erik sat, complete with spotless white sofas and an open white modern fireplace to one side. Up the steps around him the flooring became a darkened mahogany, matching with the open bar and lines of alcoholic drinks up on the walls, a few bookcases and very expensive looking art-décor. He finally saw Azazel, the owner of the voice, sitting on a small plain wooden chair by the door, radio in hand, watching him.

Erik tried to think, tried to remember as he stared blearily back at Azazel, wrists twisting trying to feel if there was a quick way of getting out of the handcuffs. 

He’d been in Charles’ bedsit, throwing open the door, Shaw and Charles…

Oh God, Charles!

Erik immediately looked around again, eyes franticly searching, “Charles?!” he called out, trying to shuffle around the column to get a better view of the other side, Azazel still just watching silently. Erik didn’t know where he was, but he had a pretty good guess this must be Shaw’s home.  Despite the sudden situation Erik only felt the slightest bit apprehensive about the thought of what the hell Shaw was doing, the thought only taking second place in his mind, the first worrying over Charles.

He didn’t know if it was a good or a bad thing that he saw Charles on the opposite side of the sunken circle, also handcuffed to another column, but he felt a wash of relief flow through him anyway. “Charles, are you alright?”

But Charles didn’t answer.  His head was lowered, staring blankly down at his crossed legs, showing no indication that he’d even heard Erik.

“Charles?” Erik asked again, cautiously, leaning forward from the column to try and be closer, which was not only pointless as Charles was ten feet away but it also stretched his arms further, sharp pains running up through his shoulders. He ignored them. The profiled expression on Charles’ face was one of absolute dejection and Erik didn’t know what to do. This was the first thing that scared him, forget about being drugged and kidnapped and handcuffed against his will, something was wrong with Charles and that was the only thing Erik cared about.

“Charles…” he repeated once more, softer, trying to coax Charles out of this apparent hypnotic state he was in. Erik needed him to speak, to tell him he was okay, that Shaw hadn’t…that Erik had caught him in time.

Given their current situation it seemed a strange thing to worry about now, what he’d caught them doing, but Erik’s plan hadn’t changed, and if Shaw really had been taking Charles against his will then in fact his plan had been pushed forward even more. He was going to kill Shaw, whether Erik had barged through that door in time or not Shaw wasn’t going to get another chance to do that to Charles ever again. Whatever the hell Shaw thought he was doing with them now, what this kidnapping gained, whatever connections he had Erik was not going to sit here and be tortured or killed or whatever else he had planned.  Besides, Moira knew about him, it surely wouldn’t be long before she found them. It was all up to her now.

The part of Erik that wasn’t blinded with rage hoped she’d hurry, for the simple reason that if he did honestly get a chance to kill Shaw, it was going to happen.  For the first time he truly wanted to take a life, so what if he went to jail so what of the consequences, Shaw didn’t deserve to breathe, and Charles would be safe, and that was the only thing that mattered.

But at the moment killing Shaw was not at the forefront of his mind, it was Charles’ lack of response that had his attention and his worry, “Charles!” Erik exclaimed, louder this time to try and snap him out of it, and slowly, very slowly, Charles blinked.

Without raising his head or moving at all, Charles simply whispered, “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Erik said softly, relief that Charles was at least okay and talking, quickly eyeing around the room again looking for that piece of shit that must be here somewhere, “It’s okay nothings your fault, you have nothing to apologise for.” Erik would not let Charles blame himself for this.

“I’m so confused.” Charles’ voice was so small, cracking through a constricted throat as he raised his head and leant it back against the column, still not looking at Erik, “It’s happening again isn’t it?  And now I’ve got you involved.” He swallowed thickly, “I don’t understand, why would Shaw…… the injections…..the black bag…” he screwed his eyes tightly shut, “….when that went over my head again….”

“Charles.” Erik said with a desperate pull to his voice, leaning away as far as he could from the column towards him at the heart-breaking sight of tears beginning to roll down his cheeks. Erik’s entire upper body was pulling away despite the pain, mentally frantically reaching for Charles and the devastated and slightly crazed look to his face.

“Charles…” How could he tell him about Shaw? How could he break it to him without it destroying him?  There was no way, he’d just have to say it, “Oh god look I don’t know how to say this but Shaw is Schmidt! The doctor who took you they’re the same person, Shaw’s the one who did this to start with he’s been with you this entire time!”

For a moment that stopped the tears, Charles breathing slowly as he stared up at the cream-coloured ceiling. His eyes were wide and still looking terrified, but a slow crease began to form on his brow.

“That’s impossible.” His voice croaked, “That’s…Erik…it can’t. Shaw helped me-”

 “He’s been raping you Charles! Why can’t you see that?!” It was cold it was harsh it was going to screw Charles over even further but he had to know, he had to understand, he had to see how his whole life had been under the thumb of the same sick man. “I can’t even begin to imagine how screwed up this must make you feel but they are the same person! He’s been using you all this time!”

But Charles was shaking his head during Erik’s words, eyes wavering and staring at the same spot on the ceiling, still refusing to look at him, “No, no no, I came to Shaw by accident, there’s no way that-“

“Well that is true.”

At the sound of Shaw’s voice Erik and Charles both turned to the door, Shaw standing in the doorway in a clean pressed black suit, the once bleeding slash across his cheek now still of blood but still fairly raw. Immediately Erik clenched his teeth, eyes darkening as he tried to pull apart his handcuffs, making no effort to hide his actions as the handcuffs dug into his wrists, painfully and sharply and Shaw doing nothing but casually watching him with a faint amused smile as he walked across to the bar in front of them, standing high above the sunken floor and waiting patiently for Erik to finish his pointless struggles.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing!?” Erik shouted at him, but Shaw ignored him.

“It is true you came to me by accident, it was an extremely pleasant surprise believe me.” Shaw continued, Erik literally growling under his breath as the handcuffs refused to budge, a thick wetness dripping down his hands as Shaw’s gaze rested on Charles. 

Charles, who was looking at Shaw like a frightened child.

It was a crushing expression, one of disbelief, one of someone trying to hold on to a thread of hope when there was none to hold on to.  Why wouldn’t Charles believe him? Or was it because if he knew they were the same person, that that would be the end of his sanity? To know that for nine years every time Shaw touched him, every time he even looked at him, that he was the one who’d stolen Charles’ life?  Erik tried to picture what that would feel like, to be trapped in a darkness, working in that darkness trying to build your own life up and out of it into the light, and having the man who’d dropped you in that dark hovering over you the entire time and you not even knowing it. Keeping you there in the dark, so whenever the light got too close he could drag you back down again.

Erik felt slightly sick thinking about it, and the fear he felt for Charles’ mind began to grow intensely. He would not lose him, Shaw had been abusing Charles one way or another since he was 13, Charles had always said he’d never have his mind but…but now….

“It was so good to see you again Charles, though you did look so cold that night.”

Charles couldn’t take his eyes off Shaw, staring at him wide and wet though the tears seemed to be frozen, breathing shallow.

“What are you talking about?” Charles whispered, his head still slowly shaking where he sat, “I’d never met you before that night. And why are you doing this, let us go.” 

Erik’s heart really was breaking now.  Charles knew, he had to it made sense after this kidnapping, the exact same way Shaw had taken Charles that first time. Shaw was Schmidt, but Charles didn’t want to believe it, didn’t want to see it, didn’t want to know he’d been abused all this time by the same person, that his escape and Raven’s death was for nothing, because he hadn’t escaped him.

Shaw just looked at Charles with a disturbingly loving smile, cocking his head to one side before sitting down on one of the barstools, one foot to the floor the other on one of the metal bars of the stool, leg bent as he casually rested his palms in his lap.

“Janos?” he called out, not once removing his gaze from Charles, Erik freezing in his movements at the name and looking to the door.

Although he’d had no reason not to believe Moira, Erik felt a wave of disbelief flow through him now as the proof of Shaw’s real identity walked through the door, proving once and for all that Shaw really was Dr Schmidt.

Charles had practically stopped breathing, his entire face, already pale, draining of whatever colour was left as a man he recognised all too well walked into the room, past Azazel, and stood quietly and obediently next to Shaw, his rich brown eyes looking to his master and ignoring everything else around him.

“Janos, Martini.” With a curt nod Janos turned and walked behind the bar, still not looking at anyone, Shaw’s own eyes still firmly on Charles and thoroughly enjoying the crushed reaction. “I’m sure you remember Janos.” Shaw said, a sly curl to his lips as a single tear managed to find its way past the shock that had entrapped Charles’ body, dripping off his cheek to his legs.

Erik glanced from Shaw, to Charles, where his heart clenched painfully, and then stared at the man behind the bar. From what he’d gathered from Charles’ story Janos must have been in his early 20’s when looking after the boys, but now, nine years later, he looked…worn.  His hair was still long but hung in lifeless threads, his frame thin and cheeks hollow.  There was only a shadow of the handsome man left behind, stolen from him by a life lived with Klaus Schmidt. He really was a broken man, just like Charles had said.

Erik turned his attention back to Shaw, Charles still motionless with shock, and as there was nothing Erik could do for Charles, as much as it physically pained him, he needed to talk to Shaw.  At least Charles was safe, for now, but Erik needed to get them both out of here as quickly as possible, he did not like the crazed look in Charles’ distressed eyes.

“What are you going to do with us?” Erik asked gravely. He’d like to know up-front how long he had to think of way to get himself and Charles out of here, although with any luck all he’d have to do is stall long enough for Moira to find them.  Surely she’d have Shaw’s home address, although, a part of him did wonder and worry why Moira was going to the Hellfire Club first. If she thought he lived above the club she was obviously wrong, which might mean she wasn’t on her way here, wherever here was.

Shaw finally tore his gaze away from Charles and looked to Erik, Janos holding out Shaw’s requested Martini from behind the bar. Shaw took the glass, and without a word Janos stood perfectly still to one side, looking out to the windows, still not even acknowledging what was happening in the room.

Shaw took a sip of his drink, “Actually I must apologise for the confinement, to be honest my plans haven’t quite gone the way I wished they had, and this particular lifestyle has never been suited for keeping people prisoner.” He said, gesturing to the modern area around them. He took another sip before placing the drink back onto the bar top, “Although I must say,” he said, eyeing Erik carefully, “you shouldn’t actually be alive right now.” Erik’s heart slowed, but he didn’t let the sudden shock show on his face.  This man was serious. He didn’t understand in what context, exactly how he was supposed to already be dead, but he wasn’t going to ask. “Though that was an error on my behalf, and I’m not entirely sure what I want to do with either of you now. The problem is you’ve both forced me to abandon my life as Sebastian Shaw, really quite the inconvenience, that’s twice now, and both times Charles has always been there.”


Shaw looked to Charles curiously at his sudden outburst, Erik closing his eyes in a budding despair at the desperate denial in Charles’ voice.  Don’t lose yourself to this Charles, please, don’t let him destroy what’s left of you.

“You’re not the doctor it’s impossible he’s in jail I got away from him!! Let us go this is not funny anymore!”


Be quiet Erik!!”

Erik immediately closed his mouth. He could do nothing but watch, chest physically aching at the panicked pain radiating from Charles’ face; the shuddering breaths, the forced denial of what was in front of him. Erik wanted nothing more than to rip apart these handcuffs and run to him, to hold him and shield him from Shaw and everything else that had used him in this world.

“Why is it so hard to believe Charles?” Shaw asked casually, “Mr Lehnsherr here is perfectly correct,” Erik suddenly looked to him, brows furrowed, how did he know his name? “my secret is out, my real name is Klaus Schmidt, a doctor from south east Germany.”

Charles began to laugh, actually laugh, and Erik’s fear for him began to rise again, “Now you see, heh, t-that’s where you’re wrong.  I’m good at accents, I picked up on Erik’s the day we met you’re not from Germany!” the words were tumbling from his lips, quick and clinging on to that denial, but again Shaw just smiled.

“I believe I’ve been in this country far longer than Mr Lehnsherr. I am exceedingly good at disguising my accent.”

“Then tell me!” Charles demanded, glaring at Shaw with wistful pleading eyes, just wanting him to say this was all a joke, “Tell me how I came to be here!!!”

Shaw regarded him for a moment, Erik’s eyes flickering between the two of them before Shaw finally let out a small sigh and smiled again, in fact, beamed at them, like this was the best thing he’d been asked all year. “You know what, why not? After all I would be lying if I said I haven’t wanted to tell you over the past nine years, the whole purpose of my relationship with you has been to break you and by the looks of it I’m finally close to doing so.”

Erik’s eyes darkened. What the hell did he mean by that?

Shaw picked up his Martini and stood from the bar stool, shoving one hand into his trouser pocket as he regarded Charles below him.

“I always admired you Charles, right from the very beginning. I paid a lot of money for you, I knew exactly how popular a boy like you would be in my line of work. You became a little goldmine for me, so many men wanting you, and yet unlike all the others there was spark in you that never went out.  I realised too late of course that it was probably that sister of yours, but she ended up being very useful so I was willing to let one boy hold on to his sanity, I had all the others that were broken and that was good enough.  Besides, some clients liked a bit of fight in the boys they got to have. And yet, after all the years I had been selling you and the others before you, I had never once partaken in any of my own stock.”

Stock?” Erik exclaimed with spiteful venom.  Shaw looked at these boys like cattle, he was far more disturbed than Erik could possibly have thought and it made the bile rise up his throat, “You’re sick.”

Shaw glanced at him, lips curling, “You know Mr Lehnsherr I have no qualms about who I am. I am not…deranged, or insane, that would imply I am unaware of the ethical consequences of my actions.  I am very well aware that I am…sick,” he gestured to Erik with his glass and with a smile, “as you so delicately put it, well aware my life has been filled with very much illegal and morally degradable actions, but the difference is I accept what I am and what I enjoy, and I happen to be very good at what I enjoy.”

Erik glowered at him, but remained silent as Shaw looked back to Charles, far too many vile sentences going through his head as he tried to glare them into Shaw’s skull. Besides, a part of him wanted to hear this story, of how someone could be so repulsive.

“The longer I had you the more I wanted you, but I had a profession to run and an identity to remain secret. On the off chance any of the boys should escape the last thing they needed to know was my name and face. True the drugs I was testing on you all could have easily wiped your memory, another side business of mine in the pharmaceutical  trade,” he added towards Erik with a proud little smile, “but I would rather have left my boys un-touched, for clients only. I wasn’t after all going to pay myself to fuck you.” He laughed at Charles, wide and open as though waiting for them all to join in, like it was normal.

The more he spoke, the more it was plainly obvious. Sebastian Shaw, or whatever the hell real his name was, was insane.

The lack of laughter did nothing to deter Shaw, and still grinning he began to slowly walk around the sunken round flooring, every now and then taking a sip from his drink and swirling the contents in the glass.

 “The day of the raid I accepted that business was over. I always kept several identities, several separate lives going on in case that very thing happened. I’ve been Sebastian Shaw as well as Klaus Schmidt for most of my adult life. But, during my own successful escape, when I saw you and that little sister of yours running away through the streets I couldn’t help but think perhaps I still had a chance to break you after all.  Why?” Shaw had walked around to Charles’ side of the sunken flooring now, and he looked down at him, shrugged, and then raised and tipped his glass to him, “Because it’s what I enjoyed.”

Erik watched Charles, his breathing was shallow and even this distance away Erik could see the horror that lay beneath that blue layer at Shaw’s words.  What had he done, surely he wasn’t responsible for…for Raven’s death? Had Stryker been a lackey of his all along?  He wouldn’t put it past him.  Knowing Shaw was Schmidt was one thing but details could send Charles over the edge.

Perhaps this wasn’t such a great idea to hear this story. Erik upped his struggling against his handcuffs, his wrists raw and bleeding but not giving up. He eyed Azazel, who was watching him intently, and who moved aside his open black leather jacket to reveal a hand-gun clipped to his waist, a silent message passing to Erik to stop.

Erik couldn’t help his darkened smirk at the Russian, if he thought that was going to put him off he was very much mistaken, so he continued to pull at his restraints ignoring the pain, ignoring the continuous ache in his arms and shoulders.  Injuries would heal, but Charles’ mind may not. He had to get him out of here.

Where the hell was Moira?

Shaw headed back over to his barstool and made himself comfortable again, “I asked for a favour from a friend of mine, a man I believe you know as Doctor Stryker.”

Charles took in a shuddering quiet breath at the name, and oh god he looked like he was going to throw up.  Erik pleaded with anything that would listen as he pulled harder against the handcuffs, someone shut him up!

“Unfortunately the idiot managed to get himself arrested afterwards, but yes,” Shaw looked at Charles quite calmly, a small smug smirk on his lips, “I asked Stryker to kill Raven, because I knew it would be the thing to break you, something I had wanted to see for so many years.”

It was Erik’s turn to pale, stilling in his struggles. Charles had screwed his eyes tightly shut, the first time he’d looked away from Shaw. If he’d been able to move his hands Erik knew he’d be hiding his face in them, chin lowering to his chest as he brought his knees up in a vague attempt at doing what his hands could not. “No…” he choked back a sob, biting his bottom lip so hard it began to bleed, shaking his head in short sharp movements.

It was killing his soul to hear this.

Shaw smiled at the reaction. Erik was speechless, more hate than he’d even known reaching boiling point. “I killed your sister Charles, in one way or another, and originally at that stage that was going to be it.  You were broken, I gained that small bit of enjoyment out of what was left of my old life, and I returned to Sebastian Shaw a free man.  But then, those weeks later, you arrived at my doorstep.” A slow grin formed on his lips, and he stepped down off the stool again and spread his arms wide, “Of all the doors in this entire country for you collapse in front of,” he moved his hands to his chest, covering his heart, “it was mine. I felt quite touched.”

“There is something very wrong with you.” Erik growled through clenched teeth, continuously glancing at Charles, panicking on what do as Charles stared at Shaw with wide disbelieving eyes, tears streaming thickly down his face.  How much pain can one person suffer through? How much more must Charles suffer through until the world was happy? Shaw needed to stop talking, stop, just stop!

Shaw ignored him again. “I couldn’t believe it when I saw you there, it was fate, and you had no idea who I was.  I thought I would be happy just seeing you broken, but now it gave me a chance to finally have one of my stock.  I paid for you after all so it was only fair, and now was my chance, and you were so broken by then you agreed to me fucking you so easily, just from the thought of having somewhere warm to sleep. It’s amazing what a desperate mind can do in times of need, and then of course, the next nine years, mine to have whenever I wanted, and even getting money off you for those pointless pills, it’s as though you were paying me back. You’re too kind Charles, really.”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Erik couldn’t take it anymore, the mocking tones, the laughter behind the voice of all the pain Shaw had caused Charles’ innocent soul, Charles sitting there sobbing into his knees. Hadn’t he done enough? Couldn’t he just let Charles go? Charles was breaking before them, breaking again just like Shaw had wanted and Erik couldn’t stand the thought of it.

Shaw took a moment to look to Erik calmly, before suddenly and swiftly he moved forward, down the steps and raising his left foot kicking Erik impossibly hard across his right cheek.  Erik’s head slammed into the marble column behind him, pain splintering across his cheek and the left side of his head where it had pelted into the marble, excruciating stabs reverberating in his mind as his vision swam before him.  He vaguely made out Charles shouting his name before Shaw grabbed the elastic material around his neck from his deep dark blue turtleneck and forced him to look at him.

“That is until your arrival Mr Lehnsherr,” Shaw spat at him, nose to nose, pulling him forward again before slamming Erik’s head back against the marble, Erik gritting his teeth and letting out a sharp groan at the pain, “whereby you have ruined everything!”


Despite the massive headache that was beginning to cloud his thoughts and the cooper he could taste in his mouth, Erik smirked up at Shaw, even though doing so caused his right cheek and jaw to scream in pain. It was a slow growing smirk, one that turned into a small chuckle and that spelled out the words ‘I told you so’.  Charles wasn’t broken, not just yet, in hurting Erik it seemed to have snapped Charles back to his senses, and Erik suddenly felt so proud of Charles, he really was the strongest person. 

Shaw’s furious glare moved itself from Erik to Charles, who despite the tears still falling thickly down his face was staring back at Shaw with such a fierce piercing look that his eyes were but narrow blue slits, filled with more hatred than even Charles himself thought he could possibly possess.

No one hurt Erik, because Erik was the greatest thing to have ever happened to Charles.

Erik was all the innocence he had lost.

Suddenly there was a large crash of what sounded like glass coming from somewhere far below them.  Shaw rolled his eyes in anger and let out a very frustrated sigh, “What now?” He muttered under his breath as he released Erik’s neck and stood back up straight, “Azazel!” he commanded, and without another word the Russian disappeared through the door.

At his sudden and unusual outburst of anger Shaw straightened his sleeves, turning his back on his guests as he walked back up the few small steps and back to the bar, straightening his tie.  Taking his glass of Martini he finished off the drink, Janos immediately taking the empty glass from his hand and placing it below the bar.

Shaw looked from Erik to Charles, his eyes narrowing very slightly at the un-broken and heated glare in Charles’ eyes, “Now Charles, I don’t appreciate being looked at like that. I gave you a home, is this really how you want to re-pay me?”

Erik immediately had his own choice of words on his lips, but just as he opened his mouth to let Shaw have it all, it was Charles that answered.

“You destroyed my life.” Charles stated quietly, the fear in his voice long gone and something akin to bravery lingering there, stronger on every word, “You took me from my home, kept me locked in a room, sold my body, killed the one person who had stuck by me, and then for nine, nine years you raped me, lied about the money, lied about my illness, and all so I had no choice but to stay at your side.”

The light, oh the light that was shining off Charles right now.

Charles held his head up high, giving Shaw a look that could only be described as pity, “I owe you nothing,” he stated slowly and clearly, “and in fact I feel sorry for you.  Something must have happened, long ago, for you to be like this, I wonder what it was.”

The intense anger that had been in Shaw’s eyes at Erik had faded. Now he looked at Charles, eyelids lowered, a slightly confused look to his eyes though they still held a pure dislike beneath them.  The confusion didn’t last long, and Shaw took a step away from the bar, hand fiddling at the cufflink on his left wrist as he stared down at Charles with a calm solid gaze.

“Not everyone has a tragic back story Charles.” He stated softly, “I just like to see people suffer.” After ensuring his cufflink was how he wanted it, Shaw turned to Janos and nodded towards the door. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find out what the commotion is downstairs, and when I return…” he pulled open his own suit jacket, taking a small silver handgun from his inside pocket and looking directly at Erik, “…I am going to place a bullet, through your skull.” He turned to Charles, “And you will remain here, where I don’t have to share you with the outside world.”

With his final words said he swept past Janos towards the door, and for the first time since he’d walked in Janos looked to Charles, a shadowed look of years slowly mentally dying, and gave him a small waning smile, before following his master through the door. Charles watched him leave, the saddened smile he’d given him in return still on his lips.

The moment they were alone Erik turned to Charles with such a proud smile to his lips, as though Shaw hadn't just made a threat against his life. “Are you okay?” Never more had he wanted to kiss him, never more had he wanted to scream to the world how Charles Xavier was the absolute love of his life. Nothing could break this man, nothing could-….

Charles was crying.  Just slowly, silently, his eyes closing and opening in long blinks.  He sniffed, pulling at his restraints weakly to try and ease the dull ache in his arms, “I’m alright.” He finally answered, but there was an aching pain inside him that was all too visible to see, and Erik felt it best to remain quiet as he found his words. As he waited though Erik still was thinking nothing except how perfect Charles was, how he wanted to spend forever with this man.

There was no one else, there never would be.

“It’s just….don’t let that little speech of mine misguide you…you have no idea how close I was.” Charles looked up at the ceiling, taking in a shaky calming breath, “I could feel it, my mind…slipping away. I’m not as strong as you like to think I am. There’s only so much one person can take before it all spills over.” Another trembling breath, closing his eyes briefly, “I hate to say it but if he hadn’t hurt you, I probably would have broken.” Slowly Charles looked over at him, a sheepish, shameful look that didn’t suit him one bit.

But Erik had the perfect comeback, a small hopeful and playful smirk growing on his lips, “Does this mean you love me?”

A small short breath of a laugh escaped Charles, turning his head to hide his smile and successfully stilling his tears. The humour of it all, such an ill-timed question in their situation, kidnapped and restrained by a man who had just threatened to kill one and forever keep the other.

Ill-timed, yet perfectly timed.

Charles looked back at him, his lips pressed together in a smile that was threatening to stretch across his whole face, “I guess it does.” He replied quietly, Erik's heart leaping to his throat, and even the prospect of being kept here as Shaw’s sex toy couldn’t fade the blush that crept to Charles' cheeks, “I do…” he paused, looking into Erik’s sea green eyes, trapped ten feet away from him, in the most un-romantic life-threatening situation either of them had been in;

“I love you.”

For the first time in his life Erik felt like his heart had wings. Charles was, is, and would always be the only one to make him feel this way, and hearing those words, it was though the entire world had been made right, as though the purpose of his entire life had built to this one little moment, for Charles Xavier to say he loved him.  It was far from perfect, where they were, what was happening, but for that small moment none of it mattered.

After everything Charles had been through, Erik was the one who had taught him love existed, and it was the greatest most indescribable feeling that had ever passed through his chest.

Momentarily blissed-out staring back into those loving honest blue eyes Erik was brought back to reality when he grinned so happily at him, for the grin immediately faded at the pain in his cheek and jaw “Ow, ow ow, don’t make me smile.” He chuckled lightly, attempts at not to smile only making him want to smile even more.

Charles laughed affectionately, before biting his bottom lip in an apologetic worry, “Are you alright?”

“Mmm,” Erik hummed, still trying to beat back his grin, “I’m fine, nothing broken.” He smiled just a little bit at him, “Just like you.” 

Charles smiled at him so softly, the world around them silent. Despite the happiness, despite the final words of love leaving Charles’ lips for the first time in his life, there was the notion that this was not going to happen again. The two of them looked at each other, neither turning away, and without either of them knowing they had both moved their fingers, all of them facing towards the other, in some vain unrealised attempt at holding hands across the giant gap between them, a final closeness that wouldn’t happen.

If this really was to be their fate, they both had the same thoughts going through their mind.  Erik’s, that if he was to die now, it would have been worth it to have Charles, even just for that short time, even just for today, and for finally having someone who wasn’t his mother say they loved him.  For Charles, truly and honestly, even if he was to remained trapped here, prisoner, used and abused, what did it matter? Erik had proven to him once and for all that not everyone was Shaw, not everyone was cruel and hateful and was out to cause Charles nothing but misery.  Erik loved him, and that would stay, would be his light to hold on to just like Raven had been. 

He would never break for Shaw’s pleasure.

Charles felt tears gathering at the corner of his eyes again, as did Erik, but they were happy tears, those small faint smiles still on their lips.

Charles took in a deep cleansing breath of air, filling him up, releasing it slowly, “I wish I could kiss you,” goodbye, the missing word hanging in the air and easily heard though never spoken.

If only to keep Charles smiling, because smiles suited him far more than tears, Erik puckered his lips together and made a little kissing sound towards him, which just made Charles actually snort in laughter and turn away, his aching shoulders shuddering in laughter.

Erik grinned again, immediately followed by an amused grimace, “Ow, hey I told you not to make me smile.”

Charles was snickering with laughter, glancing at Erik and biting his lip to try and calm himself. “Oh my friend,” Charles exclaimed a few moments later, through the happiest smile that had ever graced his face, “You are going to keep me smiling forever.”

It was then, that the most unexpected thing happened.  A loud thumping noise came from above, like a body falling to the floor, and they both turned their attention upwards to the ceiling.  Someone was running across the floor above, or perhaps it was a flat roof, but whatever it was the running noise stopped at the edge, there was a pause, a grunt and a sudden noise of feet landing on the balcony outside. Then just as suddenly came the loudest crashing noise of all as someone crashed through the glass panes behind them, shattered glass flying in all directions, both Charles and Erik turning their faces away and screwing their eyes tightly shut at the flying shards.

As Erik looked back, the man who had flown through the glass was rolling forward to a position near the door, rifle in one hand and badly bleeding knuckles on the other. When he stood up and looked around, eyes falling on the two stunned people looking up at him, the man grinned widely.

Erik’s jaw dropped, “Logan!?”

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

Erik couldn’t believe who he was looking at. His quiet, motorbike loving Canadian neighbour had just come bursting through a window like some movie-star action hero and looking like doing so was a perfectly normal thing for him to do!

“Wha-…” Erik couldn’t find the words as he stared gobsmacked at him. ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ is what he was trying to say, but all he could do was stare at the grin on Logan’s face, a grin that was easily saying ‘Heh, didn’t expect that did you?

“I dunno what ya got yourself into Lehnsherr,” Logan started as he began to walk towards him, down the steps of the sunken flooring and fiddling with the side of his belt, unsheathing a very hefty looking black dagger and walking behind the column Erik was handcuffed to, placing the rifle he was holding to the ground, “but four men came to your house and ransacked the place, seems like they were looking for ya, so I kept quiet and followed ‘em.” He began to hack away at the metal chain between the handcuffs with the knife, hitting the sharp edge against the chain onto the marble, sparks flying as he tried to break it, “When I got ‘ere I called the cops, turns out that chick of yours, w’as her name, McTaggart, message got to her about’cha and they gave her the address. She’s on her way right now.”

Immediately Erik’s heart leapt, hope rushing in filling the empty space that had been left with Shaw’s final words.  Moira was coming, this was going to be over once and for all, they were getting out of here before Shaw could fulfil his threat.

But still, of all people…Logan?

“How did you get in here?” Erik asked as he tried to pull his wrists as far apart as possible to give Logan room to work, Charles watching them eyes full of the same hope at hearing Moira’s name and seeing Logan, not that he had any idea who he was but hacking away at the handcuffs was a good sign on whose side he was on.

“Canadian Special Forces,” Logan grunted, “based out ‘ere for last minute call-outs to the Middle-East, so all to used to gettin’ into heavily guarded facilities, and this place was a piece a cake.”

That at least explained why Logan seemed to disappear for months at a time, Erik had always wondered that, but he thought he was just quiet and kept to himself, like Erik did.  It also explained why he seemed to currently have his own personal arsenal of weapons attached in various places on his person.

There was a final metallic crunch and Erik’s hands flew apart as the chain broke, the handcuffs still around his wrists but now separate and able to move. The moment he was free Erik staggered up from the floor, took those few unbalanced steps towards Charles and collapsed onto his knees in front of him, cupping his face as Logan moved behind Charles’ column and began hacking away at his handcuffs.

“Are you okay?” Erik asked hurriedly, for it had only been a few seconds ago he thought he’d never get to hold him again, so now just feeling the warmth of Charles’ skin beneath his palms calmed him completely. He ran his thumbs gently over his cheekbones and leant forward, pressing a small single kiss to his forehead. He would get him out of here, and how he was ever going to thank Logan he had no idea.

Charles though was just staring in absolute horror at Erik’s wrists.

“Erik! Your wrists!” He stared at the circle of mangled bloody skin around Erik’s wrists that his struggle in the handcuffs has caused, and the dried blood that had dripped onto his hands. He must have been pulling ridiculously hard for so much damage in such a short amount of time, and Charles automatically tried to bring his hands round to take care of him but was still held back, Logan still angling his knife against the marble.

“I’m fine.” Erik insisted, unable to rid the smile off his face knowing the second Charles was free he was going to hug him to his chest and never let go.

“But you’re not your-“

With a small affectionate shake of his head Erik silenced him with a kiss, a surging love inside him over the fact Charles was worrying over him even though he was still handcuffed himself. It was a kiss neither of them thought they’d get to have after Shaw’s departing words, it was gentle yet determined, lips pressed tightly to Charles’ as close as possible and yet not moving, just basking in the real warmth, the fact that Charles was unharmed and that soon this would all be over.

Erik still held his head firmly in his hands, and Charles let out a small whimper in the back of his throat, letting the weight of his head fall into Erik’s hands, feeling weak just from one simple and delightfully warm and reassuring kiss.

Logan glanced up at them with a small smirk before returning to his work.

Eventually and slowly, the need for oxygen and the painful hardness of the floor on Erik’s knees getting the better of him, Erik gently pulled away, kissing and lingering on Charles’ bottom lip before resting his forehead against his and just staying there, breathing in everything that was Charles and smiling.

He’d needed that.

“I’m fine.” He repeated, and Charles just stared back at his eyes before letting out a small tender sigh as a smile of his own crept to his lips.

Everything was going to be alright, they just needed now to get out of here.

But as the repetitive banging of Logan’s knife echoed around the large room there was suddenly a scuffle from the door, and all three of them turned to it as a hurried Shaw stopped in the doorway, out of breath and staring wide eyed at them. A dark and panicked glower came over his face at the sight of Logan and Erik free, and with a venomous glare at Charles as though this was his entire fault Shaw turned and just as quickly as he came he ran back out the door out of sight.

Suddenly it was like a switch had been turned on in Erik’s mind, and all the calm that had soaked through his skin from Charles’ warmth was pushed aside as that blinding rage returned. Shaw was trying to escape, and like hell Erik was going to let that happen again.  In a flash he was up, looking to Logan kneeling on the floor and the handgun hanging on a holster on his belt.

“Sorry Logan I’m borrowing this.” He exclaimed quickly, taking the gun and ignoring the simultaneous;

Hey!” “Erik!”

But Erik pushed Charles’ call out of his mind as he ran towards the door. He knew he would try and make him stop, that it didn’t matter, that they were free and unharmed and could leave with Logan and that’s all that mattered, because it’s the sort of thing Charles would say.

But not this time.

Erik shouted over his shoulder, “Logan look after Charles!”

ERIK!” Charles cried again, his voice desperate as he pulled against his cuffs that were not yet broken.

Erik couldn’t ignore the tone in that call, and he turned to look at Charles as he reached the door, eyes determined not to let Charles’ pleading expression to change his mind.  Shaw had to be stopped once and for all, and he gave Charles that same determined look, trying to make him understand.

“He’s not getting away again.” Erik said sternly, a promise, before giving the distressed Charles one last lingering look and turning away through the doorway.


Erik couldn't see Shaw but he could hear him, somewhere up ahead to the left down unknown corridors, so he ran following the sounds of running footsteps and doors creaking, gripping the gun in his hand.  His heart raced at the strange metal between his fingers, he’d never held a gun before, its power and danger was alluring, and with one shot he could stop Shaw from harming any person ever again. He had to stop him, had to catch him in case he slipped past and escaped just like the first time all those years ago. There was no way he was letting the man who had destroyed so many innocent lives and caused so much physical and emotional pain to Charles just walk away free for a second time.

No matter what the cost.

He burst through a heavy oak door to what seemed like a main hallway, a high ceiling and large glass double doors at the front along with the same high windows, leading to a long driveway that Shaw was currently running straight towards.

“SHAW!” Erik screamed after him, holding the gun up and cocking the trigger, the sound immediately making Shaw stop in his tracks.

They were both breathing heavily from running, Erik holding the gun with his right hand as he moved closer, holding it still and focused on the back of Shaw’s head. He had him, he had him and he was not going to let him out of his sight. One shot is all it would take to end everything, and even though there was a part of him, a voice in him, pleading with him to stop before he went too far, before he regretted every action he’d taken leading to this point, the one thought of stopping and if needing to killing Shaw, was all that he was focused on.

Without a word Shaw slowly raised his arms to the side to show he was unarmed, and began to turn on the spot to face him.  There was no fear, no concern in his eyes for the man pointing a gun at him from the other side of the room, there was just that irritating smug little smile on his lips that seemed to be permanently plastered there, which just made Erik want to shoot him all the more.

“What are you going to do, shoot me?” Shaw asked, with a hint of sarcasm at the gun obviously being pointed at him, keeping his eyes fixed on the piercing ones staring right back at him, “You’ll be the one to go to jail Mr Lehnsherr, and that will take you away from dear Charles.”

Erik grit his teeth, the realisation of knowing that sudden obvious truth stabbing him sharply, but still he took further careful steps towards him, heart racing and finger resting across the trigger, “What did you do to Charles in that bedsit?”

He had to know first, if he had caught them in time, for if the man standing in front of him really had been raping Charles as he burst down the door than that finger was going to squeeze, and very hard.

“Unfortunately nothing.” Shaw replied with a bored tone, edging a few small backwards steps away towards the front doors, “I simply tried to make him see how insignificant you are, that your feelings would easily fade, and that the only way for him to survive was to stay with me.” He paused, that smug smile thinning into tight lips, “Needless to say, he refused to believe me. He’s stubbornly in love with you, and unfortunately you interrupted us before I could…convince him, otherwise.”

Erik’s grip tightened around the gun at those words, but he didn’t shoot him, not yet.  Nothing may have happened, thank God, but the way Shaw talked about Charles, it was sickening. He really thought of him as something to be owned, controlled, to be broken and lied to, made to believe Shaw was the only one he could trust.  It reminded him a little of what Charles had told him about Janos not wanting to leave, despite being a slave to this man, confused and broken and believing Shaw was the only one in his life he could ever be with. At least Charles never succumbed to that, never broke at those words.

“You see Mr Lehnsherr I knew exactly who you were when Charles told me he wished to move in with you.” Shaw continued, edging a little to the side, “I’d watched you outside that bedsit on my camera, making a scene at the door when Charles returned with a client, it’s precisely the reason why I watch, I don’t like people getting too close to my Charles.”

“He’s not yours.” Erik growled at him. “He’s not property.”

“I paid for him, therefore he’s mine.”

“Do you want me to shoot you?” Erik quickly retorted at him, Shaw’s cautious attempts at slowly moving backwards towards the door not going un-noticed by Erik who simply took a few faster threatening steps towards him, raising the gun further, Shaw once again stopping at the gun now not too far from his face. “So that’s why you sent those men to my house,” Erik continued, “you really were going to kill me.”

“Exactly, and it’s not the first time I’ve had to dispose of an overly eager customer for Charles either.” Shaw replied, though the smug calmness in his voice was beginning to waver, “You were supposed to be dead.”


The door behind Erik suddenly burst open and Charles’ voice rung out into the hallway, Charles skidding to a halt and eyes widening at what he saw before him. Unfortunately it was the distraction Shaw had needed, and in that split moment when Erik’s eyes all but blinked quickly in Charles’ direction, Shaw reached out and deflected the gun away with one hand and punched Erik straight across the jaw with the other.

The punch caught him off guard and pain shot through Erik’s jaw like an electrical charge, staggering sideways slightly which gave Shaw enough time to turn and run to the doors, at the exact same time six police cars came into view over the drives horizon, blue lights flashing wildly in the dark and the welcoming vision of Moira flying out of her car door before the vehicle had even stopped.

Erik shook his head to refocus and then everything seemed to happen all at once. He quickly lunged towards Shaw, catching him on the back of his jacket and hitting him hard across the head with the handle of the gun, his fingers still on the trigger which he pulled hard as he hit causing one bullet to fire straight up at an angle, piercing through the left hand corner of the door shattering the glass, tiny fragments showering down on them as Shaw turned in Erik’s grasp to try and grab the gun from his hand.


Erik heard Charles’ voice but stopping wasn’t an option, he was not going to let Shaw get away, no matter how much he may get hurt in the process he was never letting Shaw harm Charles again. He was aware of the police gathering outside, of Moira running towards the shattered door, but he wasn’t going to let Shaw go until Moira had him arrested and locked away where he belonged. 

The little worm kept trying to slip out of his grasp, sending punches to his jaw and stomach trying to get him to let go of the gun, to get the upper hand, but Erik barely registered any pain. He was too intensely focused on returning the pain back tenfold, despite the blood from his split lips, and the fresh blood trickling down his arms from where Shaw used the handcuffs hanging on Erik’s wrists to his advantage by trying to pull his arms away, the metal cutting deeper and more painfully into the flesh.

There was a cold smile to Erik’s lips though as Shaw realised the police were far too close, the first true look of fear across his face as he stopped trying to get through the front doors and instead lunged towards the door Charles had come from, towards Charles himself who quickly backed away, panic and a dread of not knowing what to do showing across his face. But Erik wasn’t going to let Shaw lay a finger on Charles, even breathe the same air as him, and as Shaw turned to run slipping away from Erik’s grasp Erik reached out and punched him so hard on the jaw up underneath that Shaw spun on the spot, momentarily dazed, and Erik got another opportunity to raise the gun and point it directly at Shaw’s head again, Shaw freezing where he stood once his eyes re-focused on the gun.  He rose his arms to the side again as Moira finally made it through the shattered doors along with several other heavily armoured officers who quickly encircled the stand-off pair giving them a wide berth.

“THAT’S ENOUGH!” Moira screamed at them, holding her own gun in both hands and pointing it directly at Shaw, “Erik back away Schmidt you are under arrest!”

But Erik didn’t move.  Both him and Shaw were breathing heavily once again, blood pumping quickly through their veins from the adrenaline, fear, and anger, blood on their lips and bruises across their jaws. Their eyes remained locked to each others, and still Erik held the gun tightly in his right hand and made no indication of moving.

It was all the images that flew through his mind now that movement had momentarily stilled, all the things Shaw had done in his life, all those innocent boys, all the torture to Charles, his life ripped and shattered and played with like something insignificant that could be thrown away.

 “Why should I?” Erik breathed heavily, gritting his teeth at the hatred that poured through him at the man standing defeated front of him, “He doesn’t deserve to live.”

Moira swore at him under her breath, “Erik drop the damn gun, we’ve got him he’s not going anywhere, there’s no reason for you to do this so don’t make me shoot you to stop you.”

But Erik was shaking his head, anger boiling under his skin, images still flashing across his mind. Charles locked away, injections, rape, tears, death, abandoned, cold, alone.

Always alone.

His finger squeezed the trigger slowly, a tiny movement as though testing just how far he could pull it without it going off.  Out the corner of his eye he saw Moira turn her gun on him, screaming at him to give her the fucking gun, but he so so desperately wanted to see Shaw drop to the ground, to see the light go from his eyes just like what he’d had done to Raven…. 

It was Charles’ hand that gently rested on the back of Erik’s, the same one holding the gun, his thumb gently caressing the skin as Erik, blinking, realised that Charles was not only here but that his hand was shaking.

“Erik, put the gun down.” Charles said softly, eyes searching desperately in Erik’s though Erik still remained locked on Shaw, the man looking finally beaten as he eyed the police around him, a fallen expression yet trying to keep whatever dignity he had left, “You can’t shoot him.” Charles moved closer, Erik feeling the warmth from his body as he moved just a little bit in front of him, his hand clasping tighter around Erik’s despite the trembling.

Erik wanted to tell Charles to go away, to leave so he didn’t have to see him degrade himself to that of the person he wanted to murder, but as much as he didn’t want to admit it just hearing Charles’ voice was beginning to eat away at his anger.

“You’ll go to jail, I’ve only just got you…”

Erik wanted to remain staring at Shaw, to forever send him the silent message on how Charles will never be his, but at the soft and pleading tone in Charles voice it finally tore his gaze away, looking to Charles and his clear blue eyes and his brows raised in panicked worry over Erik’s actions.

Charles moved closer, raising his hand and placing it at Erik’s waist, softly, cautiously…

“I can’t lose you Erik.”

The anger in Erik deflated like a balloon at the calm in Charles’ eyes and the need in his voice, not realising he was letting Charles slowly lower the gun for him, Erik’s grip on the trigger loosening as Charles curled his warm fingers around his hand, the loose handcuffs around both their wrists clinking together.  He wanted to say that he was only doing this for Charles, that he only wanted to see him free of this man once and for all, but now it felt so stupid, to be angry enough to forget that he’d be separated from Charles if he really did kill Shaw.  That would have been Shaw’s last laugh if Erik had gone to jail, fighting for Charles and yet still leaving him alone.

Erik was never going to leave Charles alone, he’d been alone enough.

As the gun lowered Moira took advantage and quickly moved forward grabbing it out of Erik’s hand, muttering to him under her breath with a scowl, “You’re an idiot.” Though the scowl quickly turned into a relieved sigh.

As soon as the gun was gone from his hand it was like a weight had been lifted with it, and Erik wrapped his arms around Charles and pulled him tightly close away from Shaw, securely locking him against his chest and cradling the back of his head with his hand as the police officers moved in to Shaw and handcuffed him.

“I suppose everyone needs someone to be an idiot for.” Erik murmured into Charles’ hair, and he felt Charles smile against his shoulder as Moira rolled her eyes, ordering her officers to take Shaw to her car outside, the others to search the house.

Shaw took one last look at his property in the arms of another man and let a bitter and, if one looked closely, a jealous glare turn in his eyes, momentarily struggling though knowing it was pointless as the two officers either side of him grabbed his arms and turned him to lead him away through the front door.

There was a gun shot.

At first no one knew what had happened, both Erik and Charles looking up at each other in a worried confusion and then to the officers around them, Moira looking around confused until noticing Shaw’s body sagging in the arms of the officers, a blood encircled hole on his left shoulder as he squirmed in pain, trying to turn back around to see who had just shot him in the back.

Following the line of shot everyone’s eyes fell upon Janos, standing behind them all by the back doorway Charles had come through, Shaw’s smaller silver gun in his hand pointing directly at its owner.

Moira immediately trained her gun on him, “DROP IT!”

Janos ignored her. “I am sorry Klaus, but we have lost.” Janos said quietly, his eyes wavering with unshed tears, voice dull and empty as Shaw turned to face him, a look of absolute betrayal across his face.

“J-Janos…” Shaw stuttered out as the officers tried to hold him up, Moira looking between the two her mind racing trying to analyse what the hell was happening.

Janos shook his head lightly, his voice cracking in a lonely despair as he spoke, “They will take you away from me…” he cried, tears falling down his cheeks, “…and I cannot live without you. I am so, so sorry.”

Janos pulled the trigger for a second time, the small bullet shooting across the room and embedding itself straight through Shaw’s forehead.

A perfect shot.

Charles stilled entirely in Erik’s arms, even his breath, even his heart seemed to stop as he watched Shaw’s open eyes remain motionless, his body sinking to the ground, staring blankly and distantly at the once Spanish boy he had taken and trained himself, years of psychological torture, and where in Janos’ disturbed mind his captor was his lover, was his life, was a man he did not know how to survive without, and the prospect of being separated too much for him to bear.

Erik kept his arms wrapped protectively around Charles’ shoulders, squeezing him in some vague offer of reassurance. He didn’t know what to think, didn’t know what to do, this had been the very last thing he had expected to happen and yet it had happened.  Shaw was dead, killed by the person closest to him. There was a looming silence even from the officers.

Charles’ gaze seemed to be glued to the corpse of the man who had stolen his life, and it seemed to take every effort for him to tear that gaze away, to look back at Janos.  Tears still flowed freely down Janos' face, and in turn he slowly looked away from his dead lover to meet Charles’ eyes. They were still dull, still full of an unbridled ache, but in the split second it took for Charles’ features to go from one of base shock to the realisation of what Janos was going to do next, it was too late.

Janos let one final, small broken smile onto his lips just as Charles desperately called out his name, fighting to free himself from Erik’s arms.

“Janos NO!”

Janos raised the gun to his own temple, and pulled the trigger.


The next hour or so went by in a busy blur of more policemen, ambulance men, and nosy reporters that seemed to appear out of nowhere like cockroaches. Erik sat on the upper back step of an ambulance while his wrists were being tended to, cleaned and bandaged, the handcuffs that had been hanging off both his Charles’ wrists finally removed.  Charles sat by his feet on the lower step with a blanket wrapped around him, leaning closely against Erik’s legs as he watched Moira busily organising a thorough search of the house.

Azazel had been found, the one Logan had knocked unconscious on the roof, and so had a small group of other men some of which Logan identified as the men who had come to Erik’s house.

Surprisingly Emma Frost had been arrested too, no one even knowing she had been there until she strolled out of the smashed front doors with her hands on her hips, asking that if she must be handcuffed do they at least supply fur-lined ones so they wouldn’t hurt her skin. 

Emma had been led towards a car past the ambulance Erik and Charles were in, and as she glanced up had looked at Erik with a small curl to her lips, “I told you you weren’t the only one to fall in love with Charles.” she said, looking down to Charles at his name with a surprisingly odd kind smile, before she was led out of sight.

Erik had wanted to retort to her that Shaw was not love, was the exact opposite of anything remotely like love, but all the energy for anger had been drained out of him since Janos had shot himself, mainly because it had affected Charles so much.  Physically Charles was fine, but sitting there by Erik’s legs under the blanket he hadn’t said a word, just stared outward to all the commotion, one arm curled around Erik’s calf and resting his cheek against his knee.

Even the mild amusement at seeing Logan being chewed out by Moira for going in alone before any of the officers arrived only brought a very brief smile to Erik’s lips, and no reaction at all from Charles. The empathy he felt for Charles was so great it almost made Erik feel like he’d known Janos himself.  He tried to place himself in Janos’ situation, supposing it was one of those things you hear about sometimes, how a kidnapped person begins to feel sympathy and understanding for their kidnapper, gradually believing this is their life and that how they are treated is what they deserve. To know their kidnapper and for it to be fine to be used in every possible horrid way by that person, because that was normal, it was all they had known.

Beaten down again and again, Shaw really was Janos’ only life. Janos had probably been more disturbed than any of them had thought, and to think, that is exactly how Charles might have turned out had he not been strong enough to never break for Shaw’s pleasure.

Poor Janos.  It had been the only two words Charles had said, uttered with such sorrow, looking down to the man who chose to end his own life rather than to live apart from the insane man he lived for.

Erik watched with rather mournful eyes as the nurse by his side wrapped a bandage around his right wrist , his gaze falling down to the messy brown locks of Charles’ head resting against the side of his left knee. He moved his other bandaged wrist and placed his hand gently on top of Charles’ head.  Charles didn’t move, just let Erik slowly slid his fingers through the soft locks, trying to soak in the comforting gesture. 

Erik hated to think what was going through Charles’ mind. He didn’t know how to comfort him, didn’t know what to do in a situation like this, and was feeling rather lost himself.  He just hoped that small touches like this, small gestures of care would be enough for Charles to know Erik was here, would always be here, and when Charles felt like talking Erik would listen.

The night air was chilly, and Erik pulled the blanket further up around Charles’ shoulders.

Erik looked up as a harassed looking Moira approached them, brushing her hair out of her eyes before looking at the two of them sitting there in silence, “You two should go home once you’ve been treated. I’ll need statements from both of you, especially you Charles,” she said, looking to Charles who didn’t even register she was talking to him, “but that can wait until tomorrow. I’ve got a million and one things to sort out both here and at Hellfire, and you two have been through enough tonight.  I’ll pick you up in the morning,” she paused and looked at her watch, before sighing, “make that afternoon, it’s almost 4am. Man I’m not gonna be getting any sleep tonight.”

She looked to the silent Charles again, just leaning against Erik’s leg and staring out into the world, towards the large modern country mansion that had been Shaw’s, the doctor’s, home.

“Are you gonna be alright?” she asked, and finally and reluctantly Charles slowly looked up at her. He nodded mutely, before closing his eyes and just letting the feel of Erik’s fingers in his hair be the only thing his body could feel.

Moira just nodded slowly in return, a small sense of pity across her eyes before she looked back at Erik, “You’ll have to get a lift with an officer, your car’s been stolen, but we’ve got people looking for it.”

It took Erik a moment to remember he had leapt from his car without shutting the door, and oddly enough, with Charles silent and morose at his side, he didn’t much care.


There were two policemen standing outside Erik’s front door, evidently Moira had ordered them to stay guard as the building had been broken into and the door hanging open, the lock and handle broken.

Erik gave them a polite nod as he walked by, pushing the limp door aside and guiding Charles through.  During the lift back Charles had still said nothing, just kept a hold of Erik whenever he could, eyes downcast.  Erik had tried to ask if he was alright, but Charles just gave him the same silent nod he’d given Moira.

As Erik closed the upper landing door behind them he took a quick scan of his home.  There were a few items knocked over to the floor from where the men sent to kill him had rushed through, broken glasses and one of his house plants, the soil trodden in the carpet, and his computer screen, which must have been deliberately done for it was too heavy to just knock over.  He could imagine it done in frustration when they realised he wasn’t here. At least it didn’t immediately look like anything had been stolen, he supposed that hadn’t been their objective.

But again he didn’t much care for his possessions; he was more worried about his silent lover.

“Charles what’s wrong?” he asked softly, placing a comforting hand on his arm, “It’s all over now, everything is…is over, it’s alright now.”

Charles stood there staring at the floor, taking a in a trembling breath and letting it out in a long sigh.

“I know it’s over, but…well, is it?” He looked up at him, a deep worry in his blue eyes, and Erik didn’t understand. “Moira, she knows about me doesn’t she? Or if not she will do, she’ll see what I am on those security cameras that Shaw kept, and Emma must have records of the propanolol they stole for me…there are a lot of things I can be sent to jail for.”

Jail?” Erik exclaimed disbelievingly, “That’s what you’re worrying about? Charles that’s…” …a point, actually, one Erik hadn’t thought of, and suddenly he didn’t quite know what to say, “Charles…with what you’ve been through, I’m sure anything that they find…I mean, you had no choice, and Emma was lying to you, that’s manipulation that’s not your fault. And you’re studying aren’t you? That’s proving that you’re making an effort, that you were only being a rentboy because it was the only option you had, you said yourself you’ve looked for other jobs but no one would hire you.”

But Charles was shaking his head, “But what if I do end up in jail? What about you?” The fixed beseeching stare he was giving Erik made it feel like he was looking right through Erik’s soul, like all his hidden thoughts and feelings were being exposed straight through his eyes as Charles scanned him for any lies he may now reply with. “Would you wait for me? The man who’s caused you nothing but trouble, your home broken into, car stolen, drugged, kidnapped, almost killed, and then almost becoming a murderer yourself!” his voice was raised, angry but he didn’t know why, “You say you love me but would you really wait for someone like me?”

Erik looked back at him as calmly as possible, there was such pain in Charles’ eyes, such a deep emotional plea for Erik to now say all the right things and make everything better.

“I wouldn’t need to wait for you,” Erik replied softly, “because I would visit you every day, for as long as you were there, and I mean that.”

Apparently it wasn’t the words Charles wanted to hear because the smaller man scoffed and turned away, an angry frown to his brow.

Which was quickly mirrored on Erik’s.

“No don’t scoff at that Charles!” Erik said sternly, his own voice raising, the tip of an argument he didn’t want to have looming threateningly in the air, “You need to learn that people can love another as unconditionally as I do with you. Everything that has caused you torment is gone now, you are free Charles. The doctor is dead, Emma and Azazel are arrested, and…and even if you did end up going to court, the sympathy for you would be overwhelming and I personally doubt they’d charge you on anything!”

Charles still refused to turn around, arms crossed tightly across his chest, and Erik was fed up of talking to his back so he walked determinedly around in front of him, Charles looking up at him with a scowl, one that seemed to need a lot of effort to remain there.

“But if you did end up in jail whether it be months or years I would be there for you at every possibly opportunity,” Erik continued, ensuring Charles was looking right into his eyes to see that there really were no lies there, “I would fight for you because you’re worth fighting for.” He paused again, a change in Charles’ eyes, his scowl melting away, “And if you don’t, then nothing’s changed.  You’re still moving in here with me, I still love you, and now you can work on getting the life you want.”

He meant every word, because Charles was the only one on this entire planet that Erik would want to fight for. If he did go to jail then so what, he would come out again, and what was a few months or years compared to a lifetime together outside?

Erik would do anything, everything, to keep Charles Xavier in his life.

Charles had remained silent after Erik’s little speech, eyes downcast again, but there was a definite good sign of a small blush just colouring the top layer of skin on his cheeks.  Eventually Charles looked back up, the scowl gone, and a small, very small, little lift to the corner of his mouth.


Erik let a genuine smile spread over his lips. Of all the parts for Charles to focus on.


A small but very happy smile quickly came and went across Charles lips before he raised one hand and ran it through his hair, taking in another breath. “I’m sorry, everything’s just rather… overwhelming.  I’d really just like to be alone right now, if…if that’s alright?”

Erik watched him carefully for a moment, sensing for anything else wrong or upsetting, but now that his words had at least seemed to calm Charles down perhaps it was just the efforts and events of the evening that were making him look so tired and lonely.  He didn’t want to leave him alone, but he knew all too well what it felt like to not want others around. He didn’t want to push him to talk, he just wanted him to know he was there for him, that’s all.

“Take the bed again, I’ll stay out here.” He said, smiling in what he hoped was an encouraging way, “And we can talk to Moira tomorrow, she’s my very best and trusted friend, I’m sure she’ll fight for you too.”

Charles didn’t look so convinced by that, but he smiled quickly anyway, lowering his head, turning to walk away before he stopped, turned back, and leant up to give Erik a small soft kiss on his lips. It was hesitant at first, as though after everything that had happened tonight a kiss seemed too innocent and…silly. Charles went to pull away, leaving it at nothing but chaste and sweet, a thank you for everything Erik did and wanted to do to Shaw, and the words he said just now, but it wasn’t enough for Erik.

Erik raised one hand and cupped the back of Charles’ head, threading his fingers through the light hairs at the base of his neck, holding the kiss steady as he ran his other hand slowly down Charles’ arm.

Charles almost stumbled over his own feet at the touch, leaning into Erik entirely and letting Erik’s lips coax and glide across his own, still innocent, still sweet, just warmer, longer, Erik finding Charles’ hand and holding it protectively.

When Erik pulled away Charles felt his eyes fluttering to open, still leaning against him, his body aching for the warmth and touch this night had stolen out of him.  Erik wanted to smile, seeing Charles flushed against him after such a simple sweet kiss, but he didn’t want to do anything abrupt if Charles truly wanted to be left alone. This was just Erik’s way of saying ‘I’m here’.

Finding his breath Charles finally leant back down from his tiptoes, aware of the flush to his cheeks and he looked away rather embarrassed, Erik still holding his hand.

“Thank you…for everything.” He said shyly, eyes flickering up to Erik who in turn now did smile at him.

Charles pressed his lips together trying to hold back his own smile, and he turned to walk away towards the bedroom door, the smile creeping to his lips as both his and Erik’s arms stretched out, keeping a hold of each other’s hands until the very last second. 

Erik finally let him go, watching his back as he opened the bedroom door and disappeared inside.


Erik couldn’t be bothered to get changed, or even fetch the spare duvet, he just pulled his turtle-neck over his shoulders, the sleeves mangled with blood from his wrists, throwing it to one side before collapsing onto the sofa, laying on his back and staring up into the darkness.  Everything that had happened today, it really was surreal.  It had started out so perfect, a day filled with nothing but making love to Charles, of silly love-sick things and enjoying the knowledge that Charles was going to move in and that everything in both their lives would finally be perfect.

And then Shaw had walked by, and then the phone call from Moira, and then everything had come crashing down ending in being kidnapped and restrained, followed by murder and suicide.

Erik rubbed the side of his neck where Azazel had injected him.  He could feel a tiny small lump where the hole was, but the nurse in the ambulance has disinfected it to be on the safe side and the drug, whatever it was, was out of his system.

He wondered how many times Charles had been injected, if he even knew himself, he did say he didn’t remember much from his time with the doctor, with Shaw.  Erik knew that Charles’ mental healing would take a long time, he had no delusions about the memories that had still yet to be stirred inside Charles’ mind, but this was a start in the right direction.  Shaw was now dead and gone, Charles had found Erik, and Erik was going to be with him every healing step of the way.

One day Erik would make Charles see just how strong he was. Charles couldn’t see his own strength, and it wasn’t surprising, he seemed so fragile on the outside, constantly being beaten down by everything around him, but that light was still there, just hidden, flickering quietly, waiting for someone to carve a hole through the darkness so it could shine brightly, and Erik liked to think that perhaps he’d done that. Shaw had seen that flickering light too, attracted to it like a moth to a flame, trying in every way to make that light go out. But Erik, he bathed in that light, wanting more of it brighter and brighter, because shining brightly is what Charles did best.

Erik’s mind was racing so much it was like his thoughts were cancelling each other out, too much to think about so going blank instead, thinking of nothing but how he wished Charles would let him comfort him, let him be there for him, the thoughts of the day chattering away in the background like static noise. He doubted he’d ever get to sleep, and thought that Charles would probably be having the same problem, especially seeing his once friend destroy his own life for a man that did not deserve such a devotion.

But perhaps, being alone, is what Charles needed right now. To organise his mind, to think over Erik’s words, to realise that whatever happens tomorrow Erik was going to stay with him no matter what, and more importantly, that he was free. No Shaw, no more selling his body to scrape survival, just…to live. Not just survive, but to live. It was probably an awful lot to process.

A small creaking noise met his ears, and knowing the familiar sound of his bedroom door Erik lay perfectly still, listening to the dragging sound of his duvet across the floor and the shuffling of feet. Pretending to be asleep, listening to what Charles would do, perhaps getting a glass of water, he waited.

The noises got closer and closer until Erik knew Charles was standing right beside him.  Without a word, Charles knelt one knee on the very edge of the sofa, gently and as quietly as possible lifting up the duvet and placing it over Erik’s still body, before curling downwards underneath it, squashing himself into the tiny space between Erik and the edge of the sofa, laying nestled perfectly alongside Erik’s body as Erik finally moved and pushed himself as far back against the back of the sofa as possible.

Charles knew he was obviously awake, but still did not say a word. He mingled his legs with Erik’s, wrapping one arm around his chest as Erik slipped his arm underneath Charles’ neck and held onto his shoulders tightly to stop him from falling off the edge, pulling him in as close as possible.  After the close and squashed squirming was over, both fell still, Erik’s eyes wide open and staring down at the dark hair lying nestled on his shoulder.

Moments passed, nothing but each other’s heartbeats and slow breaths being the only sounds, before Charles slowly raised his hand, sought out Erik’s other hand and brought it back over his chest.  He gently placed a kiss to the inside of Erik’s bandaged wrist before threading his fingers through Erik’s and clasping his hand tightly, holding it close against his lips, his breath tingling the hair on the back of Erik’s hand.

Erik just smiled.

To be continued....

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

There were warm, eager lips moving against his own.

Erik was dragged back from the world of sleep by the cosy heat from the body lying on top of him, coaxed awake by the soft rosy lips that were moving lazily and sleepily across his own.  Still half asleep from the late night Erik couldn’t think at all, couldn’t even open his heavy lidded eyes, just lay there on the sofa vaguely aware of Charles playing with his lips, threading his fingers slowly through Erik’s bed hair, everything lazy and slow and Erik’s morning semi-erection pressing into Charles’ thigh, the only part of him that was actually becoming more and more awake. Charles moved like a ripple against him, everything moving yet everything gentle, every sleepy nerve on fire at the simple heat as his tired body was slowly awoken with movement.

Erik tried to respond to the kiss, to will his still asleep mind to realise Charles was all over him, but all that came out as he tried to mumble something intelligent was a sleepy groan, lips parting and Charles instantly slipping his tongue between them, exploring, sucking, lapping at Erik’s tongue with long firm strokes, as though mimicking what he was so good at doing to his cock.

Now Erik was at least vaguely awake Charles gently ground down into his hips, Erik becoming unknowingly harder by the second, muffled brain entirely occupied with the mouth that was currently trying move home into his own. Then when Charles’ deep leisurely kiss stilled so he could quietly whisper, “Erik, sit up.”, Erik did just that, eyes still closed, arms feeling like boneless weights still too relaxed from sleep, letting himself be pulled up like a puppet doll as Charles now sat straddling him and resuming his deep kisses, cupping his cheeks and letting out small soft moans into the kiss, the duvet falling away to the floor.

At those gorgeous sounds and that talented tongue Erik finally managed to open one tired eye, “Charles…” he mumbled groggily. He couldn’t figure out if this was a dream or real, he’d had far too many dreams like this about Charles already and he was so…so tired, it was still quite dark so still far too early, sleep was still in charge…or at least every part of him but his cock, which was growing harder by the second as it almost felt jealous of the attention currently being lavished upon Erik’s tongue.

Charles just smiled against his lips at the drowsy mumbled name, “Shhhh.” He kissed him once more, softly, and then reached down in-between them, taking down the fly from Erik trousers that he never changed out of last night and pulling out his hard cock.  It was at that point Erik realised Charles was naked from the waist down, he hadn’t been like that last night, he’d been wearing Erik’s pyjama’s again, the remaining button shirt hanging open. He blinked heavily, eyelids feeling like they were attached to brick weights, brain slowly but finally becoming aware of what Charles was doing when he raised his hips, pulling down a pre-lubricated condom over tip of Erik’s cock (Erik had no idea where that had suddenly come from), before guiding it behind him.

Erik could feel his heart begin to race as he watched, before his eyes slid shut again, his head falling back against the sofa with a long, breathy groan as Charles lowered himself onto the head of his cock, Charles biting his bottom lip and screwing his eyes shut as it pushed past that tight ring of muscle before slowly, achingly slowly, pushing down, down and down until Charles was sitting straddling across his lap, cock buried deep to the hilt, his thighs squeezing Erik’s waist.

Erik was practically panting already, the sleepy sensitivity of morning making his cock and every other part of him doubly receptive to every brush of skin, every measure of heat, and the thought that Charles must have been fingering himself while Erik was asleep for it to have slid down so smoothly just made Erik’s cock twitch excitedly inside him.

Settling himself and taking measured breaths Charles slowly opened his eyes again, a pink flush to his cheeks, and placed his hands either side of Erik’s head, gripping the back of the sofa and leaning in, brushing his lips softly across Erik’s again to continue their quest of awakening him from the state of lethargic bliss that had entrapped his mind.

“Am I dreaming?” Erik asked hazily, peering up at the startling blue eyes looking down at him. He had to be dreaming, because this Charles was so different from the one he’d met at the park. No longer a sickly skin, no longer dark shadows under the eyes, no more a desperate fake flirtatious glint to those eyes knowing he needed to do this for the money whether he wanted to or not. Those bright eyes held a true want now, a true love, that skin glowed with a healthy vibe, warm and comforting and knowing it was safe here, loved here.

In his sleep-deprived mind it was the word ‘Angel’ that kept floating lightly across his mind as he looked into those blue eyes, loving eyes Erik had never seen before, not just on Charles, but on anyone. 

No one had ever looked at Erik like this before.

He had to be dreaming, because if he wasn’t he was going to have to have a long hard look at himself in the mirror and ask when the hell he became this sappy.

Charles just smiled again, a warm absolute adoring smile, “No,” he kissed him again, taking Erik’s bottom lip between his teeth and pulling back slowly, stretching it out before letting it ping back, letting his wet tongue lick across the split from the fight yesterday it as though healing it better, “But then one would suppose that’s what a dream would say.” And then slowly he moved, levering up on his knees to raise his hips, drowning Erik’s groan with his mouth as he sank back down, his own cock hard and trapped between their stomachs.

Erik was completely lost, every part of him melting into the sofa beneath him as Charles rode him slowly, tongue still doing those devilishly delicious things to his own. The impossibly deep kisses were only broken by the odd gasp from Charles as a spark of pain would instantly transform into pleasure, making him sit back deeper still, taking in all of Erik’s length again and again and again and God, Erik was burning from the inside out, every cell screaming for the man riding him and owning him and looking like he belonged nowhere else but right there, fucking himself on Erik’s cock, lips permanently attached to his own.

Definitely awake now Erik finally found movement in his arms and he ran his hands up Charles’ thighs to his hips, Charles shivering against him at the touch, the pre-cum from his cock sliding against Erik’s stomach leaving a wet trail on every movement up and down.

This was unbelievably hot, unbelievably gorgeous, Erik wishing he wasn’t wearing his trousers so he could feel that hot skin touch his thighs every time Charles would sit back down.

“Erik.” Charles groaned desperately against his lips, blue eyes blown black, lips impossibly red as he began to roll his hips back and forth, gaining more speed causing Erik to release a loud trembling breath as his head fell back against the sofa again, eyes tightly shut and letting out half a cry at the stream of hot pleasure that was shooting like bolts of fire through his veins as Charles clenched and pulled at the hardness inside him.

“Oh my….God….Charles…hnn…”

His fingers dug into Charles’ hips as he began bucking up to meet him, and it was Charles’ turn to have his head fly back, mouth ajar and a loud gasping groan to escape him at the sudden harder intrusion right on that sweet spot inside him, shudders coursing through his veins as Erik’s cock began sliding so forcefully and fully inside him, hands moving from the sofa to Erik’s shoulders and clenching them just as tightly as Erik held his hips, steadying them both as Erik fucked up into him.

“Ohhh, ergh Erik!..I want you, I…uh, want…”

With Charles’ head thrown back at the pleasure coursing through him Erik’s eyes drowned in that delicious sight, up and down, thrust and slide, and he lent forward, licking up the Adam’s apple that was being displayed so seductively towards him, tasting the sweat and the salt on the skin and - oohhh, he could feel the groan that rose from Charles’ throat beneath his tongue. He could feel his racing pulse and the heat from the hot flush that was creeping down his neck to his chest, painting that white skin a rosy pink, breaths coming in shattered gasps as they both fucked each other, Charles still grinding down, Erik still thrusting up, more and more and harder and the old sofa was creaking loudly in protest underneath them.

“I love you…” Erik panted looking up at him, chest swelling with affection when those blue eyes opened to look at him at his words, dark and flushed and embarrassed and smiling, and those very same words pouring out of his eyes to Erik’s. It was a loving expression that made Erik began to feel like he’d been on the brink of orgasm for a lifetime, needing more and more and so he held Charles to him, wrapping his arms around his waist and burying his head at that edible neck, just as Charles replied breathlessly;

“Love you too Erik.” Charles buried his hands in Erik’s hair and held him to his cheek, and the relived and desperately turned on groan that rippled up through up Erik’s throat at hearing Charles say that made their love-making turn into desperate thrusts, desperate un-synced rutting, rhythm lost as it became nothing but a carnal frantic act, moaning cries constantly falling from Charles’ lips, deep throated groans of absolute raw love and lust falling from Erik’s.

Charles’ creamy, slightly freckled skin was too much to resist and Erik took it between his teeth and bit down hard on the shoulder, Charles gasping and his body jumping against him, groaning louder and louder, delicious friction on his cock where it was trapped between their stomachs, Erik’s name tumbling from those kiss bruised lips again and again until suddenly his breath hitched, he clung to Erik’s hair to the point of hurting and arched his back, screaming out the nosiest orgasm he’d ever had as thick streams of cum erupted from his cock, coating their chests and stomachs as Erik held his hips still and thrust frantically into him, eyes screwed tightly shut as Charles was clenching around him and then;


The darkness behind his eyelids erupted into white, a lingering shade of Charles blue flickering in there too as he clung to Charles to ride out his orgasm, fingers splayed across his skin pulling him as close as physically possible as he came buried deep inside him, immediate post-orgasmic thoughts arising of mine, and love you, and want you, and always.

Erik collapsed back against the sofa, Charles boneless above him but having just about enough energy to raise his hips to slide off of Erik’s cock before slumping forward against him, sticky cum between them, just laying against one another panting and waiting for their racing hearts to calm and their breaths to return to normal. Brain foggy with both disrupted sleep and possibly one of, if not the, best orgasms of his life, Erik could do nothing but hold him, close and still and nose buried in his hair, perfectly melded together.

He could get used to waking up like that.

“So I’m…really not dreaming.” Erik eventually said between exhausted breaths, a worn out smirk on his face, and Charles chuckled against him, slowly raising his head and sliding his arms around Erik’s neck, sitting there on top of him and just watching him.

“I did tell you.” He grinned, such a happy contented grin, and Erik adored it, “Does this mean you often dream about us having sex?”

Erik’s smirk turned into a sheepish smile, and he found himself clearing his throat, memories of all the delicious dreams he’d had about the man sitting on top of him flickering across his mind, “Um…yes.”

Charles just grinned at him again.

It was a weird feeling to feel so asleep and yet wide awake at the same time.  Erik just wanted to curl back around Charles on the sofa and fall back to the deep sleep he’d been in, but he also wanted to flip Charles over and start this all again, never feeling so young as he did around Charles, just picturing fucking him into the sofa, those beautiful lips begging his name again, legs wide and cock hard and throbbing and God Erik was just constantly horny around him, his flaccid cock beginning to agree with that image.

But as Erik was debating whether sleep and cuddles was going to win over more sofa sex, the sofa made a long, loud and rather worrying groaning sound of its own.  A wary and silent glance passed between Erik and Charles before the entire back of the sofa suddenly collapsed backwards, landing with a thump on the floor with Erik falling back against it and Charles toppling down with him, the two of them ending up in a pile of naked limbs lying on the back of the sofa which was now lying on the floor snapped from its base, Erik’s legs still up over the seat.

Charles was almost immediately in laughter, loud and infectious against Erik’s chest, and the sound of that sweet happy laughter made a grin of his own appear on Erik’s cheeks, a few hearty laughs escaping him as he rested his head against the floor off the edge of the broken sofa back, staring up exhausted and happy up at the ceiling. They must have looked like a right mess.

“Well, this sofa is probably about 40 years old, I’m surprised it’s lasted this long.” Erik said, smiling and surprising himself that he was smiling. He thought he’d feel kind of melancholy when the sofa he’d had his entire life for as long as he could remember eventually gave out, it was the only piece of furniture he’d taken when he’d moved out from the flat he lived in with his mother, the same one he used to play hide and seek and various other games with his father back in Germany. This sofa had followed him everywhere. Now though, with the way in which it gave its final breath it was just…funny, and he laughed along with Charles feeling light headed and childish.

Charles’ laughter turned into reverberating giggles against Erik’ chest as he finally looked up at him, still straddling him awkwardly where he’d slid forward as Erik fell backwards.

“I suppose this would be an appropriate opportunity to purchase a new one then.”

Erik smiled warmly at him, reaching up and brushing the hair out of Charles’ eyes, “I guess it would. We’d better go shopping then. I’ll buy it, but you choose which one.” Charles blinked at him oddly hearing that, and Erik just smiled at him again “It’s gonna be your sofa now too remember. I’m not going to ask you to pay towards it, but we can still share it. I’ll buy, you choose, that’s sharing isn’t it?”

Charles stared at him for a bit longer, not entirely sure from Erik’s expression if he was being serious in his definition of sharing, but soon a tiny blush rose to his cheeks at the domesticity of it all before he sighed in an overdramatic way and smiled tenderly.

“I suppose I can be forced to go and choose a sofa, if I really must.” He leant forward, chest to chest as he smiled cheekily against Erik’s lips, placing a quick sweet kiss there, “I’d recommend we buy a sturdy one though.”

Erik couldn’t agree more, he was already planning new sexual positions on their sofa, feeling sorry for it already.


With the self destruction of his sofa it at least crossed out the option of more sofa sex for today, and upon looking at the time on the clock on the wall, 8.12am, Erik had let out a long distraught groan.  It had been almost 4am when they’d left Schmidt’s country house, and Erik wasn’t as young as he used to be and running on extremely little sleep after being woken so…energetically, he felt exhausted before the day had even started.

He must have looked it too for Charles had laughed and apologised to Erik as they made their way back into the bedroom to sleep a little longer;

“I’m sorry for waking you so early, I just…wanted you, that’s all.”

Both still naked, though now cleaned, Erik had spooned around Charles under the duvet burying his nose in his hair, and had sleepily responded; “You can have me whenever you want.” Before promptly falling straight asleep to the sound of Charles’ chuckling laughter. 

He could have him whenever he wanted just…not right now it seemed.

When they awoke some hours later Erik was being coaxed awake again but this time not by anything sexual, just Charles stroking his fingertips across Erik’s bandaged wrists, slowly and gently, and Erik lay there with a soft smile to his lips as he watched him, pretending to still be asleep, enjoying the small touches too much to disturb him.

Charles was so relaxed, so contented now, so different from how he’d been only that few weeks ago.  So much had happened in such a short space of time, to both of them, and now the only things that were left unresolved was what was going to happen to the New York estate that would legally still belong to Charles, and the possible problem of whatever evidence against Charles Moira might find.

No judge in their right mind would send Charles away, he was the victim here, but until Moira confirmed otherwise there was still that underlying worry, a worry Erik hadn’t even thought of until Charles had brought it up last night.

One thing that could happen, Erik supposed, would be deportation.  Charles was here in England illegally, no passport, no visa’s, but without a second thought Erik knew that if he was sent back to New York he’d come with him.  Aside from Moira he had no reason to stay here anymore, he had no other friends, and now he had no mother either.  He just wanted Charles to be happy, it was the only thing that concerned him anymore, and wherever that took Charles Erik would follow him, always.

“I can practically hear you thinking.” Charles suddenly said softly into the quiet relaxed air, and Erik smiled fondly into his hair, placing a small kiss to the soft locks.

“Has anyone ever held you like this?” Erik asked, squeezing him just that little bit tighter, Charles’ back fitting along his chest so perfectly, one leg thrown protectively over Charles’s under the duvet. They fit together like jigsaw pieces, Charles the perfect height to settle under his chin, body curved against him. So warm, so everything Erik hadn’t ever had in a relationship.

Charles snuggled back against him, intertwining his fingers with Erik’s, “No.”

Erik smiled again, something he couldn’t seem to stop doing. Charles was a virgin to love, and just the knowledge that no one else in the world got to hold him like this seemed to make up for all the other men who had touched him in those other horrible ways, for Erik was the only special one, the only one who got to love him, keep him close, not always looking for sex just…companionship, love. Erik was the only one to ever give that to Charles, and that’s exactly what he would continue to do.

There was however one tiny niggling question that was pushing its way to the front of Erik’s mind, a question that had been there for some time but with everything that had been going on had been pushed away, unimportant.

With no other way of phrasing it Erik asked rather awkwardly;

“Um, Charles this is going to sound like an odd question but…are you definitely actually gay?”

There was a small pause between them before that lovely chuckling laughter giggled its way up from Charles’ chest again, and he turned in Erik’s arms onto his back so he could look at him with a raised eyebrow.

“You’re right that’s an extremely odd question.” He said with a laugh, but Erik was looking all too serious.

“I just mean it seems like it was all…forced on you from the start, that you didn’t have a choice.”

Erik wondered why he had never thought of it before, but Charles was only young when he was taken, forced to have sex with men, doing the same out on the streets, had he ever had a choice on who he actually wanted to sleep with? A part of him knew that of course he was gay, he wouldn’t be here otherwise, wouldn’t be saying he loved him or wake him with brilliant orgasms at insane times of the morning, but still, he wanted to know, wanted to make sure Charles just wasn’t making himself think he could only be with men because of his past.

Charles could see the seriousness in his question, feeling the hidden un-said reasons behind it, and his chuckles died to a small restful smile, curling into Erik’s arms before answering him.

“Back in New York, when Raven hit her teenage years she started mail-ordering those teenage girl magazines. You know, the pink ones always full of makeup tips and celebrity gossip and…” Charles’ smile grew wider, and rather cheeky “…and quizzes like ‘Your perfect man’.”

A smile of his own began to creep onto Erik’s lips, he could see where this was going.

“We used to fill those out together, and I’d always get a description of a man that sounds a lot like you.” He smiled at Erik warmly, tracing those fingertips across Erik’s lips, Erik’s heart beating faster at the touch. “Raven never said anything, and the subject never came up as to why I would nearly always be the one reading those magazines before she even got to them, but let’s just say I never had any doubts about my sexuality, even at that age.”

That was good to know.  Erik gazed at him, his lips still tingling after those brushing touches, and so he closed the gap between them, capturing those lips just softly, one long lingering tender kiss, “Wish I had been that confident back then.” He said with a small amused smile, remembering his own confusing times with Moira and the blond male teacher. He couldn’t even remember the name of that teacher anymore.

But that reminded him of another question he’d been meaning to ask Charles, far too warm and cosy and enjoying this pillow talk to move out of bed yet.  Besides, there would probably still be some hours before Moira arrived.

“What do you want to do? Career I mean, when you get all the education you want?”

Charles smiled warmly at the question, as though this was his favourite topic of all “I want to be a teacher.” He replied immediately, “I want to be able to give children the chance that I never had.” 

Somehow this answer fitted Charles perfectly, and it made Erik inwardly grin at the image of Charles standing at the front of a class with a bright enthusiasm for his subject, talking rapidly as he taught his students, all of them rapt with attention towards their cute little teacher. He’d be an adorable teacher, and Erik knew that had he had Charles as a teacher when he was young he definitely wouldn’t have had any confusion over his sexuality.

“What do you want to teach?”

“History I think,” Charles replied, “I want to go to university though, I…was hoping I could go to Oxford.” He said quietly, suddenly looking strangely sad, “It’s where my father studied. I don’t know if they’d accept me at my age though, and that’s of course if I even get the grades.”

“They’d be stupid not to.” Erik smiled gently at him, “And of course you’d get the grades, I keep telling you you’re the most intelligent man I know.” Charles smiled at him happily for saying that. “So does that mean you’d be a Professor?” Erik continued, and Charles nodded, a playful smirk growing on Erik’s lips, “Does that mean I’ll have to call you Sir?”

Charles peered up at him curiously for a moment before a lopsided smirk of his own appeared on his lips, “Only if you’ve been bad.” He teased.

Erik let out an amused huff of air at the glint in Charles’ eyes, “I guess that’s gonna be most of the time then.”

Charles laughed again. It was such a carefree and happy laugh, a laugh he doubted Charles had ever had any reason to let forth before. It really was the most beautiful sound. Except for hearing him say the words ‘I love you’ seconds away from orgasm of course, but that was a different kind of beautiful.

Erik felt like sighing dreamily like those teenage girls pouring over the cute boys in the magazines, Charles really brought forth a silly part of himself he never knew had existed until now.  Charles was his muse for life, his purpose for being born, to grab him off those streets and to love him for the rest of their lives.

“Do you think your mother will like me?

And then that happy feeling was doused with one sentence.  Charles knew everything about Erik’s childhood and his mother, from that first day they’d spent together when Erik was trying to coax Charles into talking about his past by telling him his own.  He’d heard him talking to her on the phone the day she died before Charles had left too, and with everything that had happened since the opportunity to tell Charles that she had died had never come up. 

“I don’t want to bring down the mood here but…” Erik didn’t want to talk about this, didn’t want to ruin this perfect little sleepy comfortable morning, “…she died…” Charles gasped quietly, eyes wide with shock at his words, “…the afternoon that you left.” He added quietly.  Charles was going to ask when anyway, he might as well just get it over with, despite how guilty it would probably make Charles feel.

“Oh God Erik….” Charles whispered, staring up at him, eyes shiny and full of so much sadness and empathy, “…I’m so sorry.” He un-curled his arms from Erik’s chest and wrapped them around him instead, hugging him close and burying his head against his chest, squeezing him tight.

It wasn’t just a sorry for the loss of his mother, it was a sorry for leaving too, for leaving Erik on the one day he would have desperately needed someone there. Erik knew immediately that Charles was going to start blaming himself, and yes it was a horribly bad time to leave but Charles couldn’t possibly have known. “I should have been there I…I’m so sorry, I should have…oh Erik, why didn’t you tell me?” he suddenly asked, looking up at him.

“Well apart from the fact I knew you’d start blaming yourself for not being there,” Erik pointed out, Charles’ words proving him right, “it’s all been about you since then, not me, what was happening in your life was far more important.”

His own life’s problem seemed so insignificant to the horror that had been Charles’ life, he hadn’t wanted to add to that.

But Charles’ lips were gaped at his words, silent and staring, before he shut them firmly into a thin line and a scowl appeared on his brow as he shook his head, “No.” he said sternly, ensuring Erik was looking at him straight in the eyes before leaning up on his elbow and looking down at him, Erik gazing up at him suddenly confused.

“No Erik I won’t have that. I may not know anything about how to be in a relationship but even I know that when bad things happen you’re supposed to share them with the people you love.  You should have told me yesterday. You keep telling me you love me you should have told me regardless of what was happening to me, it’s not right. No one should go through the death of a parent alone, believe me I know.”

Erik blinked at him, those blue eyes still scowling down at him.

He was being told off. 

Charles was looking so serious, so stern, but all it did was make a bubbling happiness rise within Erik’s chest, making him feel light and a smile wanting to burst forth onto his lips.

Charles really did care about him.

“I was too happy yesterday.” He replied simply to those angered eyes, “You make me happy Charles.”

Almost instantly the anger melted from Charles’ face, remembering just how happy they’d both been yesterday before the events of the evening, and his scowl turned into a gentle smile, a defeated affectionate smile at Erik’s words, but it soon turned to a small, sad one, and burying his head at Erik’s chest again Charles just held him close, wanting to make up for leaving Erik alone on that day of all days.

“I’m still sorry.” He whispered, and Erik just closed his eyes, nuzzling into his hair, stroking down his back softly.

It was strange, he thought he’d feel tears again, or at least have the lonely memories of the past week resurface, but all he felt upon telling Charles was…relief. After her death Erik had wanted nothing more than to be alone, away from Moira, away from work, away from the world, and yet after the funeral he’d gone straight to the park, straight to where he wanted to be.

Straight to Charles, even though he hadn’t been there.

Now that Charles knew, now he was holding him and comforting him like loved ones do, it felt right, felt like what Erik had wanted all along, filled the missing gap.  He didn’t want Moira, didn’t want work, didn’t want the world. 

He just wanted Charles.

“For the record she would have loved you.” Erik said gently, “She had a tendency to love anyone I went out with, which might not have been many people but she was still insistent on saying they must be special if I’d chosen them.” He let out an amused huff of air at the memory. Most parents would always be wary at first of those their children chose to be with, but with Ida Lehnsherr everyone was welcomed with open arms all the time. If her Erik had chosen them, they must be perfect. “So considering how madly in love I am with you I’m sure she would have loved you just as much.”

Charles rose his head at that, the shine to his eyes gone at seeing Erik happy, and he chuckled lightly before kissing him again sweetly, so many of these little innocent kisses being passed between them now, it was so…normal.  So nice.

“I’m still angry at you for not telling me, but then it’s my fault for not being there too so…I am sorry.”

“Charles, shut up.” Erik said affectionately, laughing under his breath, before returning to a more settled look, “I may have lost you both that day, but at least I got you back.”

With that Charles just beamed at him, “And like I told you before, I’m not letting you go."


Why was it whenever Charles ended up here he never had any clothes?

As 12.30 in the afternoon came around Erik had suggested they’d better finally actually get dressed in case Moira arrives to see them curled up together in the nude, and once again Charles was stuck in Erik’s pyjamas with only the one set of clothing that he’d been wearing yesterday.  When Erik had pointed this out, voice louder as he spoke from the bedroom into the bathroom where Charles had been having a shower, Charles had opened the door and replied;

“I never seem to need clothes around you.” He winked as he’d padded out of the bathroom after his shower completely naked, causing Erik to do a double take where he’d been balancing on one leg, the other half way into a clean pair of trousers, causing him to topple over onto the floor as he stared longingly at the glistening wet body before him.

Charles laughed at him. He was laughing at everything now.

For the first time Charles was being his completely normal self, not trying to be someone he wasn’t, to be someone his client wanted him to be, he was just Charles now, and it was rather amazing just how at home he’d become here. There was no skittish eyes planning escaping routes, no flinching away as Erik would pull him close, it was just two lovers, at home, and if not for the worry over Moira’s arrival it would have been another perfect day.

A carpenter arrived a little while later saying he was going to fix the front door, and Erik had made him and the two police officers still outside some fresh tea, which Charles helped him bring down to them.  Erik was surprised when Charles had offered to bring them down, he thought his fear of policemen would have held him back, but when handing over the mugs Charles was all bright smiles, thanking them for looking after them. Erik was sure he could see the officers melt a little at that smile and he almost rolled his eyes, Charles attracted everybody in one form or another, there was just that warm welcoming aura about him.  He wondered if Charles even knew he did that to people or if his Charm switch was permanently on anyway, even though it didn’t need to be anymore.

It was a good sign that he wasn’t afraid, perhaps seeing the policemen in action saving them all from Shaw had put a bit of faith back into the public service. He’d never been afraid of Moira, but then she was a woman.

Or at least, had never been afraid of Moira until now.

They’d just finished a late lunch when the doorbell rang, Erik’s turn to love the domesticity his life had become watching Charles help him clear away the table, back in another set of his pyjamas. Charles turned to him as the air fell silent after the bell, the happiness in his eyes immediately fading replaced by anxiety.  Erik had been trying to avoid the subject of Moira all morning to try and keep Charles from worrying, but they both knew why neither of them had moved from here, knew they were waiting for Moira to collect them, to see what Charles’ future was really going to be.

Erik exchanged what he hoped was a calming look with Charles. “It’ll be fine.” he assured him, but Charles just sank down into one of the chairs by the table as though awaiting his final meal, looking up at Erik with eyes like a lost puppies.

“I hope you’re right.”

Hating that look on his face Erik hoped this would be over with quickly, so he swiftly made his way down the stairs telling himself over and over again that this was going to be fine, that Moira would tell them everything was okay and they could go and give their statements and come home and that would be that, lives would be lived.

When he opened the door it was indeed Moira, and straight away he knew something was wrong. Moira didn’t look like she’d been to sleep yet, her hair had been tied back in a messy ponytail, obviously done in a rush just to get her hair away from her face as she worked.  She looked exhausted with dark circles under her eyes, still wearing the same clothes as yesterday, and she held a yellow folder under her arm and a plastic bag with clothes in it in the other. But despite how tired she seemed her eyes and features held a very serious stare.

Immediately Erik’s eyes narrowed.

 “I need to have a talk with Charles before we leave for the station.” Moira stated, her tone that of her professional work, not of one friend to another.

This was bad, and although Erik let her in he gave her a sharp glaring look, one that said if she did anything to impede Charles’ freedom, anything at all, their friendship would end right here.

Erik heard of people stepping over their friends to keep a loved one, and if it came to that here Erik would choose Charles over Moira in an instant.

When Moira walked into the upstairs room Charles instantly paled at the serious expression to her face, and when Erik closed the door behind them there was a very uncomfortable atmosphere between them all.

“Don’t look at me like that Erik.” Moira warned, meeting Erik’s glare with one of her own “I’m here for Charles’ own good, believe me, there are just some questions I need to ask before we go.”

“Doesn’t Charles need a lawyer or something before questions start being asked?” Erik asked rather vehemently as she sat down opposite Charles, Moira just throwing him another glare as he leant back against one of the counters to watch them.

“Not for this. I’m doing this off the record,” she turned to Charles, “so anything you say is just between us, okay?”

Charles swallowed nervously, but nodded, glancing up at Erik who had his arms crossed, waiting and watching and scowling.  He had to keep reminding himself Moira had saved them last night, if she hadn’t made that phone call to Erik in his car he would never have left to go find Charles, would never have been with him when they kidnapped him and probably would never have found him, Shaw going free once again.

Moira placed the yellow folder on the tabletop and the bag on the floor, then leant her elbows on the table interlacing her fingers in front of her lips.  She did nothing but look at Charles for a few moments before taking a breath.

“I have a few questions I want to ask, I just need yes or no answers, that’s all, okay?”

Charles nodded mutely, glancing up at Erik again and biting the inside of his bottom lip.

“Were you aware, or became aware at any point before last night, that your landlord Sebastian Shaw was in fact the same man who kidnapped you when you were a teenager, a man by the name of Doctor Klaus Schmidt?”

Charles shook his head in a no.

“Have you been working as a rent boy out of a residential building for the past nine years?”

Charles paused before replying to this one, glancing up at Erik yet again, a silent plea on what to do, but Erik was just glaring daggers at the side of Moira’s head.  Charles turned back to Moira feeling very small under her calculating gaze, before nodding his head rather forlornly.

“Were you aware that doing so was illegal?”

“Oh this is ridiculous Moira he had no choice!” Erik suddenly blurted out. He hated listening to this, why was it police questioning always made the victim seem like the criminal?! He was finding it very hard not to want to throw Moira out his house and be done with this entire situation! Shaw was dead, what the hell else mattered?! Charles was supposed to be free now, he didn’t need to go through all this!

“Erik shut up, I have a point to all this!” she raised her voice at him sternly, before calming it for Charles, “Just answer the question Charles, please.”

“Yes.” Charles murmured guilty, head lowering.

“Have you been paying Emma Frost to steal propanolol drugs from pharmacies and hospitals for those same nine years?”


Erik!” The piercing glare she sent him this time succeeded in silencing him for just a moment, her eyes sharp and pissed off with Erik’s interruptions, “Why do you think I’m asking these questions here and not at the station where the conversations can be recorded?!”

Erik pursed his lips together, admittedly wondering that very same thing, so refrained from saying something he’d regret.  He didn’t know what her point was to this but he just wished she would hurry up, it was making Charles uncomfortable.

So, Charles nodded again, “Yes.”

“Were you aware of the selling and use of heroin provided by Miss Frost, to which you did not contact the police about?”


“Did you ever purchase any of that heroin for your own use?”


Moira then paused for some time, sucking on her tongue in thought before she took in a deep breath and let out a long sigh.  She looked over to Erik, staring at her with nothing less than a death glare, tapping his fingers on his arm for her to hurry up. She looked back to Charles, who kept on glancing at Erik, slowly sinking down in his chair under Moira’s stare.

She sighed once more, “Just one more question…do you love Erik?”

Charles blinked at her curiously at the sudden odd personal question, once again looking to Erik whose gaze had relaxed considerably and was also looking perplexed at the unrelated pointless question.

“Umm…” Charles began awkwardly, neither of them seeing the relevance, and Charles feeling highly embarrassed.  He had only just managed to say this to Erik, saying it out loud to anyone else though…

Looking to Erik one more time, a sheepish tint to his cheeks, Charles turned back to Moira, sat up straighter and replied firmly, “Yes.”

Despite the situation there was a tiny part of Erik that was melting in joy at hearing him say that aloud to someone else. He was loved, Erik was loved, oh the things this man did to him.

Focus Erik, focus.

Being on the receiving end of Moira’s robotic gaze as she delved straight through the eyes to see the truth behind them was un-nerving, but Charles held that look, didn’t flinch or look away as Moira did what she did best and sought out the truth.

Erik watched them curiously, looking from one to the other, an apprehensive silence in the air before whatever Moira saw in Charles’ eyes made a quick small tug of a smile appear on her lips.  It was only there for a second, but it made nearly all the worry and anger in Erik’s face disappear, though his curiosity was stilled peaked on what the hell this had all been about.  Moira was usually one to get to the point, so what was she doing?

Moira broke her gaze and picked up the yellow folder, flipping over the covering flap and taking out a small notebook and a USB memory stick.

“Emma and Azazel are smart.” She began, “Neither of them have mentioned anything to do with you Charles, they’re waiting to see what we say, what I say.  They know if they admit to knowing you and what Schmidt was doing to you they’ll get a higher sentence, not to mention the propanolol they were stealing.  This book here contains the only records of those stolen drugs,” she said, waving the small book gently, “the only records.” She emphasised, before in turn holding up the memory stick, “This holds security video footage from outside your bedsit, it seems Schmidt liked to keep an eye on you but never kept more than a few weeks footage, I suspect in case it was found, just like it has been now.  This proves what he was doing to you but also what kind of job you did Charles, illegal out of residential buildings and something you could go to jail for regardless of your unfortunate past. But-“ she quickly added when she saw a terrified look suddenly appear on Charles’ face, as though she had just confirmed all his fears from last night, Erik leaping away from the counter to stand by Charles’ side, a comforting and possessive hand on his shoulder while he resumed his glaring down at Moira, “I am the only one who knows about this.” Moira continued, trying to make them see where she was going with this, “I found these at the crime scene myself in doing the searches, and as I am leading this investigation all other evidence has come straight to me first before being distributed to whichever department specialises in it. It’s what I’ve been doing late this morning.  This means I know there is no other evidence aside from what I hold here to convict you Charles.”

As her words sunk in something began to build in Charles’ chest, and Erik’s as well, a cautious hope rising from within even though Moira looked terribly conflicted and half terrified at whatever was going through her head.  Erik suddenly began to feel a wave of overwhelming gratitude beginning to pour towards her, the anger melting from his face if she was going to do what he hoped she was.

And if she was, Erik didn’t know what he could possibly do to thank her.

Moira took one more look to Charles, Erik’s fingers squeezing his shoulder telling him he was there, before giving them both a quick rather nervous smile and standing up, bringing the notebook and the memory stick with her. She walked to the sideboard where she knew Erik kept a pot of pens and his spare lighter, picked up the lighter, walked to the sink, flicked upon the lighter and set fire to the notebook over the sink.

“Moira!” Erik gasped at her as she held the notebook at one corner, watching as it steadily began to burn away the only evidence before dropping into the sink, letting the paper curl and twist and disappear. 

Charles slowly rose from his chair, his heart racing madly in his chest, absolute shock and a screaming sudden love for Moira running through his veins. He watched as Moira grabbed a glass that was sitting on the drying rack next to the sink and filled it with water, dropping the USB stick into it and placing it on the counter top for them to see, the little storage device drowning in the water, it’s circuits ruined.

Erik and Charles seemed too stunned to say anything, they just stood there, side by side, looking at Moira as though she was the most precious most wonderful person on the entire planet.

She splayed her hands on the edge of the counter, leaning on to it, closing her eyes and taking in another deep breath, smoke rising from the flames in the sink that were gradually fading as less and less book was left to burn.

Gathering her thoughts, her senses, she eventually turned to her two observers, both with lips apart staring in shock at what she was doing.

“Moira…” Erik began slowly, guilt overflowing him for ever having any bad thoughts towards his best friend, “…you…” he couldn’t even think it, couldn’t seem to form the words in his head for what she had just done, for them, for Charles.

Moira stood up, the flames dying, taking a few closing steps towards them and then saying with the most stern serious voice Erik had ever heard from her, “Do not make me regret doing that.  If I get found out I destroyed evidence I’ll be the one prosecuted.” Then she paused, giving them both her calculating soul searching gaze again, before she smiled, smirked in fact, putting her hands on her hips and sighing rather more happily then she’d like to admit, “You two both owe me big time.”

And then in an instant Charles was on her, hugging her, tears in his eyes spilling forth the gratitude and all the possible thank you’s he could ever give.

“Thank you…Moira oh thank you thank you I can’t…” Charles choked back a sob, clinging to her tightly as Moira just returned his hug gently, patting him on the back.

“Yeah yeah, just don’t leave Erik okay, you have no idea the effort I’ve put in to trying to find someone who can stand to be with him.” She teased, looking at Erik over Charles’ shoulder who was standing there with his own tearful eyes, stunned beyond belief, praising the day he had met Moira all those years ago in class, the little American girl saying hello to the quiet German boy.  Everything was going right.

Right.  A word never known in Charles’ life, until now.

What could Erik ever do to repay her?

Charles laughed at Moira’s words, a silly far too happy, relieved laugh, and he pulled back and kissed her on the cheek, before hugging her tightly once again.

“I never understood that,” he chuckled against her, tears still falling but so so happy ones, before pulling away and looking back at Erik, one hand still clinging to Moira’s arm, unable to let her go for the life she had just given back to him, “I’ve never understood why you think Erik’s so hard to be with, he’s perfect.” He gazed lovingly at Erik, which just made Moira actually snort in laughter, looking at the ridiculously sappy looks her two friends were giving each other before shaking her head affectionately.

“Oh wow, you really are in love with him. You have no idea the trouble I’ve had trying to find someone.”

Charles wasn’t listening though, neither was Erik, for the moment their eyes had met knowing that nothing stood in their way anymore, that Charles was truly free, Erik had scooped Charles into his arms and kissed him right there next to Moira, Charles’ hand falling from Moira’s arm as for the first time in his life Charles could truly say he was unbelievably happy.

Erik couldn’t think straight at all, all his mind could process was that this kiss, this wonderful free kiss was only the beginning, the thought that he could and would spend the rest of his life giving these kisses to Charles, his love, his one, and in the end who cared how sappy he’d become, he was in love!

They were finally together.

“Okay okay jeez you two really need to get going you know!” Moira laughed at them, whacking Erik playfully on the shoulder which only caused him to uncurl one arm from around Charles and hit her back on the arm, doing nothing to stop him from kissing him.  That is until Charles began to laugh into the kiss and reluctantly pulled away, licking across Erik’s lips before whispering;

“We can continue this when we get back.”

“Yes, thank you, one sensible person in this relationship.” Moira mocked, grinning, and Erik teasingly glared at her.

Savoir or not no one interrupted him kissing Charles.

“Fine, the quicker we go the quicker we can get back.”

At these words Moira bent down and picked up the plastic bag full of clothes she’d brought in with her, holding it out for Charles to takes, “These are yours Charles, picked them up from your bedsit, I figured you might need them.”

With a surprised thank you (it seemed Moira thought of everything), Charles quickly disappeared into the bedroom and returned in his blue cardigan Erik had bought him, unable to rid the smile from his face, and Erik wondering what spectacular thing he must have done in his life to have ended up with someone he loved so absurdly much.

They would give their statements, come back home, and spend the rest of the day lazily in bed.  Sex, cuddling, sleeping, it didn’t matter, just as long as he could hold onto Charles, it was the only thing he wanted, and he suspected the only thing he would ever want anymore.

As they headed down the stairs to the car, Erik and Charles hand in hand, Moira stayed back a moment, looking down to the charred mess at the bottom of the sink. Quickly running the cold tap over the remains to ensure the flames were out, she sighed softly to herself, looking towards the door they’d just walked through before heading towards it herself.

“There’s just one more thing Charles.” Moira said quietly, pushing open the door and following the two lovers.

One more thing to tell him, after the statements, because once he heard this one last piece of information he would be far too distracted to give a statement.

In a good way.

To be continued...

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

It had been more complicated than first thought to give recorded statements, especially when trying to hide what Charles had been doing for a living.  Discussing what they would do in the car ride to the station the story they agreed on was a mixture of truth and lies.  Unfortunately for Charles it meant admitting and elaborating into a lie the fact that Shaw, who he hadn’t recognised from when he’d been kidnapped and who had been having sex with him by force repeatedly for the past 9 years, the true part, but paying Charles for it, the false part.  Not in the rent boy kind of way, but wanting to keep Charles as a kept man, literally, so he could survive and live and be kept like a pet, nearby whenever wanted for Shaw’s carnal needs, with threats of being killed if Charles went to the police.

Shaw had so many illegal outgoings in money it was impossible to tell that this was a lie, and as he was dead, there was no one to say otherwise.  Emma and Azazel were keeping their mouths shut in a hope of having shorter sentences; they weren’t saying anything to do with Charles, denying that they even knew him when asked.

Erik’s part in this story had been practically all a truth, just with a more innocent spin to it. The boyfriend who’d turned up at the wrong time wondering if Charles had managed to speak to Shaw about moving out, not knowing this had thrown Shaw over the edge into re-kidnapping Charles once again and Erik getting caught up in the mix. There was no need to explain how Charles and Erik had met. This also explained Logan, if the jealous landlord had been keeping an eye on the boyfriend and sending thugs round to his house which Logan then followed back, which was entirely true.

Lies mixed with truth were always easier to believe.

Charles had told the story very quietly, eyes downcast to the table where another police officer sat opposite recording the statements.  Erik didn’t know if this was because re-telling it brought back horrible memories or if it was because he was in a police station surrounded by policemen…which would also bring back horrible memories. They legally had to have their statements taken separately so all Erik could do was watch through the small square glass window on the door, just able to see Charles looking like he wanted to curl away into the corner at the policemen’s gaze. He’d been alright with the two outside Erik’s front door, but then he’d been outside and with Erik. Now he was trapped in a singular small locked room with one, so very similar to the times he was also locked in a small room with one all those years ago, so Erik wouldn’t blame him for being nervous if that was the reason.

Still, the ordeal was over with fairly quickly, and with no Shaw to prosecute there were no court hearings to attend, which meant after Charles had given all the information they needed the case was closed as far as Charles’ involvement was concerned, as was the cold case from 10 years ago, Schmidt’s journey through Human Trafficking, the man dead, and the final missing boy from those rescued finally found.  Charles Xavier. Charles had been asked if there was anyone he’d like to inform of his whereabouts, to tell them he was safe. 

There was no one.

Erik could tell he was thinking about New York, Kurt and Cain, but as much as Erik wanted to know if Kurt had been caught for what he’d done, or even if they still lived there, Charles it seemed had had enough for one day, not elaborating any further on whether or not he even wanted to go back.

As Erik suspected though, the question had been brought forth on what to do with Charles as he was here in England illegally, but Moira had once again come to the rescue by pulling a few strings and getting hold of a temporary visa, until Charles decided what he wanted to do.  There was a special kind of list Charles had been added to anyway, some sort of psychological survey for people who had gone through trials such as Charles, to see if they were well and able enough to return to the country of their origin, or if they need medical or mental help beforehand.  Several sessions with a psychologist had been booked starting in a weeks time. If Chares passed he would have the choice to stay if he wished, as long as he could prove he would become a hard working welcome citizen like any other immigrant wanting to come into the country. Only then he could stay, otherwise he’d be sent back to America whether he wanted to or not.

This of course meant doctors, and yet again this was put to the side to deal with another day. It was all too much right now. At least Charles could prove he was trying, with all his studying and future plans. 

If Erik was to be selfish though, he did want Charles to stay here.  He meant it when he said he’d travel to New York if Charles wanted, to live there on the Xavier Estate, but it was also that cosy comfy feeling of his own little home, the home that he and Charles had spent time getting to know one another, for Charles to trust him, for all the sexy times and innocent kisses and just...everything.  He wanted to stay curled up on a new sofa with him, play chess sprawled out on the bed, and maybe annoy Logan with all the piano music they were both going to play. He wanted to teach Charles more pieces, wanted to watch him grow and shine and make up for all the lost time in his life.

But he understood if Charles would want to go.  This country held so many horrible memories for him, but then so did New York.  He had said he wanted to go to Oxford though so….

Erik sighed where he sat waiting in reception, watching members of the public flit in and out of the entrance doors, police officers bringing people through in handcuffs out past large double doors out of sight. He’d been told to wait in reception while they finished with Charles. Charles had looked very apprehensive to be left with them but Moira was there, promising nothing was going to happen to him.

Erik had no idea what was going to happen now, it was all up to Charles, but Charles needed a break from all this, a holiday.  Erik’s eyes lit up at the thought.  With no passport Charles couldn’t leave the country but…maybe while he was on the temporary visa Erik could take him down to the south coast, to the seaside, stay in a B&B for a while, soak up the beginning early summer rays, let him truly relax.  Erik would take care of him, would love him, would give him all the experiences he never had. 

Whatever made Charles happy, Erik would make it happen.

Erik didn’t have to wait long for Charles to come through those double doors along with Moira, looking a little shaken but otherwise an obvious relief across his features, that it was all over with, and that it had worked. As soon as he saw Erik a bright if tired smile lit up his face and he walked quickly over to him, Erik rising from his seat and letting Charles wrap his arms around him, Erik sliding his own around Charles’ shoulder, an unspoken message between them that everything was safe.  Finally.

Charles was warm and real in his arms, the beginning of many loving hugs, Erik would make sure of that.

“Let’s go home Erik.”

That one small little sentence was said with such an endearing tone, as though going home, Erik’s home, their home, was new and yet, so normal. It lifted his heart. Charles looked up at him, a free man, a sweet, gorgeous and strong free man. Erik was bubbling over with how proud he was of Charles, how one person could go through so much and still be this wonderful human being in his arms.

 “Home is good.” Erik replied softly, and keeping one arm wrapped around his shoulder, Charles’ arm around Erik’s waist, the two of them walked out of the station pressed together side by side, Moira following behind them with a small little smile of her own.


It was about a 15 minute drive back to Erik’s house from the station, Moira giving them a lift in her car again while Erik and Charles sat in the backseats.  It was a quiet journey, too much on everyone’s minds, and even though Erik knew he should probably be thinking of much more serious things, like the hard mental work Charles would be going through during these “therapy” sessions that had been scheduled for next week, he just couldn’t take his eyes off of Charles, and knew from the central mirror he had that silly love-struck look on his face again that Moira had been teasing him about in the pub.

And who could blame him? What with the way Charles was cuddled up against him where they sat, in the same seat, the seatbelt stretched across them both.  Erik sat beside the door, turned slightly inward towards Charles who still had his arm around Erik’s waist, and Erik’s still around his shoulders.  Charles’ head was nestled against his arm, eyes closed, not asleep just…at peace.  Their other hands were intertwined between them, Charles’ on top just resting there, wanting the contact, his fingers just moving gently across the back of Erik’s hand every now and then as though to say he was still awake. Or to feel that Erik really was still there.

Erik had been watching that hand since they’d got in the car, occasionally nuzzling against Charles’ hair that was tickling his cheek. He wondered if Charles realised just how much he touched Erik, a subconscious need for the warmth of someone he knew loved him. It was adorable and heart-warming and for someone so insistent they had no idea how to be a boyfriend Charles seemed to be making more moves than Erik was, what with the sex this morning and walking out the bathroom naked, and that damned vibrating washing machine before and even those simple sweet kisses he’d given him, in those early days of just beginning to trust him.

Not to mention one of Charles’ first confessions about picking out Erik that night because he’d been attracted to him, wanting, as he’d phrased it at the time, to ‘have a good fuck find a nice guy.  It made Erik grin rather silly to himself, thinking of Charles spotting him walking through the park that night, feeling the attraction and perusing him simply because Charles had wanted him.

Erik squeezed his hand a little tighter around Charles’. Charles needed warmth and touch, and Erik would be as warm and as touchable as Charles wanted.

Erik had in fact been so wrapped up in watching Charles and holding him and thinking wonderfully romantic thoughts, that it was only when Moira swore as a cyclist swerved too close to the car that he looked up and out of the windscreen, seeing they were driving through a suburban street he didn’t recognise.

“Errr, Moira?” he murmured, looking around with a crease to his brow at this unfamiliar territory. This wasn’t the way home. “Where are we?”

Moira just glanced at him through the central mirror with a knowing smirk, “Don’t worry, we just have to make a quick stop somewhere first before I drop you both back home.  We’re nearly there now.”

Charles looked up at Erik with an apprehensive frown, one he supposed was mirrored on his own. “Erik?”

“It’s nothing to worry about Charles,” Moira said, glancing at them again in the mirror, “You’ll want to see this, trust me.”

Trust.  Five little letters arranged to form a word that was so hard to come by in Charles’ life, yet so suddenly thrust upon him in the form of Erik, Erik and his persistent advances of love and promising Charles anything and everything he’d never had.  Moira had done so much for Charles too, and even if she hadn’t Charles genuinely felt that he could add that trust word to her too, simply because she was Erik’s friend.

Charles nodded, Moira throwing him another quick smile before her concentration went back to the road ahead.  Erik and Charles shared another small curious glance and then spent the rest of the time staring out the window, trying to guess where Moira could possibly be taking them.  Erik hadn’t a clue, and Moira had always been cryptic in everything she ever did.  Was there something they had missed? Something left unresolved, aside from the New York estate?

Erik of course trusted her, but still couldn’t rid himself of the wary feeling coursing through him, though he wasn’t sure why. He was about to ask again in a slightly more serious tone for Moira to tell them where she was taking them when she pulled into a large crescent-moon pebbled driveway, a small little yellow “Entrance” sign stuck into the ground to one side amongst tall bushes and covering trees.  On the right hand side a large fairly modern red bricked building came into view, a flat front with curved walls either side, inverted copies of the crescent driveway, with large spacious windows separated into smaller paned squares.  Everything looked very clean and new, white steps leading up to a glass doorway where inside was a middle aged lady sitting behind a reception counter, talking to a young woman and a small girl, before waving them past down the corridor with a smile.

There was a large wooden sign on the side of the building, painted white with the black words ‘Darwin House’ and a logo of a dove in flight next to it. Underneath in smaller text were the words; ‘Private care for suffers of mental disabilities’.

To say both Erik and Charles were completely confused was putting it mildly, this was possibly the very last place they’d expected to arrive in. Pulling into a spare parking space Moira turned off the engine plunging their surroundings into silence.

“What are we doing here?” Charles asked quietly, and evidently slightly worried that Moira thought they were nuts and were going to have them committed. As silly as that was.

Moira paused before answering, the two confused men looking at the back of her brunette head, before she sighed, un-clicking her seatbelt and turning in her seat so she could see them both, wrapped up together in the corner, the sight momentarily melting her expression before she let just a small smile form there instead.

 “You don’t need to look so terrified both of you, I’m not leaving you here.” She looked like she wanted to roll her eyes, but whatever else it was she needed to say prevented her from doing so. Instead she eyed them for a moment, before bringing her legs up underneath her so she was more comfortable, facing them over the shoulder of the seat.

“There’s one last thing I need to tell you.  Both of you.” She looked to Erik, “I never elaborated about how I found out who Charles was, back when I called you in your car before you stupidly disappeared after Charles.” She gave Erik a look that said one day soon she’d really have a go at him for that, leaving her dangling on the other end of the phone panicked for her love-struck best friend. “All I said was that I had been looking at a case that led me to another one, to Charles being kidnapped by Schmidt, but I never said what that first one was.”  She paused again, letting the words sink in, both of them watching her intently.

Erik had never even thought about that. With all the information she’d given him at the time, about Shaw being Schmidt, it had never occurred to him how she had actually found out about Charles, only that she know knew. He’d never questioned this mysterious case that had led her to the cold case about Schmidt disappearing after the raid.

Moira took another breath again, visibly trying to figure out where to start.

“Charles, I think you’ll be pleased to know that Doctor Stryker is currently doing 11 life sentences in prison.”

Well that was certainly a good way to start and certainly got Charles’ attention, sitting up from leaning against Erik and looking at Moira as though she’d suddenly become his best friend too.

“He was a serial killer that had gotten too cocky in his old age, thought he could get away with anything, that we didn’t know who he was.  There had only been hints on his description, but the day he…” she went quiet for a moment, locking eyes with Charles, “the day he called the police, acting the innocent part in your sister’s attack, we knew straight away who he was. So yes,” she added at Charles’ surprised expression, “that means I know about Raven, and I know not because I read it all in a case, I know because…” she bit her bottom lip in a very good imitation of Charles’ common act, “…I know because I was there when they arrested him.”

“What?” It was a word both Erik and Charles said simultaneously, a quiet shock with parted lips.

 “I wasn’t a detective back then,” Moira began to elaborate, “I had only just left college, was only a regular cop on the street and wasn’t really at liberty to know anything about any case I was put on, if I was put on any at all.  One evening I was called to help with a report of murder in a suburban home near Threnwaite Hospital, a young girl.  All I had to do was tape off the area and keep the public at bay.  I remember watching them take the girl into the ambulance over hearing a detective mention her name, Raven Xavier, and that she was on a missing persons report from the US. I was young and ambitious, and even though I didn’t have the clearance I secretly kept up to the date with the case, looked into things in my spare time.  It led to me to the entire case of Klaus Schmidt, one that was still ongoing from a few months before, one looking for the escaped doctor and two children. I ended up looking at a load of photos that were on file taken from the building in the raid, including Raven and her brother, Charles.  That was where I knew you from when we met in the pub that day.”

Erik couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  All this time, one of Moira’s very first cases had had a link to Charles?  He’d never been one to believe in fate, but with how small the world was seeming right now it was difficult not to think there was some higher connection going on.  Was Moira really serious?

Charles seemed to be thinking along similar lines if the way he was gaping at Moira was anything to go by. “You remembered my face just from a glance at a photograph from over nine years ago?”

A small smirk came to her lips as she smiled at him, “I told you, I’m good, eyes like yours are difficult to forget.  And besides, Xavier isn’t exactly a common name, when Erik told me that was your surname the memory came flooding back. I looked up that first case which led me back to what was now a cold case file, and looked up all the information about you.”

Impressive seemed to be a minor word to describe Moira. “This still doesn’t explain why we’re here though.” Erik said, gesturing to the building outside.

Something else was still going on, something important.

Moira took another breath, looking at Charles with a strangely conflicted look, as though wanting to be happy but knowing there was something that was going to ruin it.

“Charles I have good news and bad news for you.  The good news…” she paused again, Erik not realising his own heart seemed to have stilled in his chest as she glanced to the building, “…well there’s no easy way to say this so…your sister Raven…..………..she didn’t die that day.”

Immediately Erik could feel the intake of breath from Charles beside him, his entire body stilling, eyes hugely wide.

“That’s impossible…” he whispered through a shaky breath, “I was there, she was in my arms she…”

“The bad or, well…not so good news,” Moira continued quickly before Charles got the wrong idea, “is that the lack of oxygen to the brain that her neck injury caused has her living here, with mental disabilities.”

Charles’ expression didn’t change aside from a faint faltering fall of his brows, but the hope that had been flung forward onto his face at Moira first words remained.

“Now I don’t know the details I don’t know how she survived, but I already called ahead here and the doctor who looks after Raven is going to sit you down and talk with you, and then…” Moira smiled gently, a smile that was so relieved to be telling this news “…then you can go and see your sister.”


Charles was never squeezing Erik’s hand as hard as he was now.  They sat in a large airy office, beige walls and many bookcases filled with medical papers and files. Sunlight was streaming through the open window down onto a light wooden desk where yet more papers and folders were lain, along with a photo of a man in dark shades framed on the desk.

Charles had remained completely silent as they’d walked into the building, gripping Erik’s hand so tightly his knuckles were going white.  He’d remained staring at the polished wood flooring as Moira told the receptionist they were here regarding Raven Xavier and were expected, and were told which room to go to while the receptionist called the doctor. Moira had waited in reception, she wasn’t family and she didn’t want to intrude on what was going to be an emotional roller coaster for Charles.

Erik wondered if he’d be wanted either, but the moment he’d made a move to step back and before he’d even opened his mouth, Charles gripped his hand somehow even tighter, not letting him walk away. Erik just smiled in understanding. This was going to be hard Amazing, needed, but hard.

Charles now looked oddly terrified as they sat waiting for the doctor, and Erik could feel his pulse racing even through his hand.  He kept his eyes on him just like in the car, trying to read his expression, trying to picture what on earth it would feel like to be told that someone you thought was dead for 9 years was in fact alive but…with problems.  Excitement, happiness, fear for what was wrong with her, fear for if she was the same person Charles had known, or even if she would remember who he was.  They didn’t know how bad her mental illness was.

“Charles…” Erik said quietly, “Do you need me to do anything?” He didn’t know what he could possibly do, he just wanted Charles to know that if he needed something, anything, he would do it.

Charles was breathing slowly, every few exhaled breaths trembling on release.  He shook his head, staring at the desk, just waiting in tension, shoulders square and jaw set. All he needed to Erik to do it seemed was to hold his hand.

When the door opened behind them Charles shot up out of his chair, both of them turning to the red-headed doctor walking in behind them.

“Good afternoon gentlemen,” she smiled, dressed in a deep red blouse and long grey skirt, “My name is Doctor Je-“

“Jean! Grey!”

Charles stared up at Erik in sudden surprise, as did the doctor until she realised who he was and she smiled brightly, putting her hand forward to shake in greeting, “Erik, Erik Lehnsherr isn’t it?”

Erik took her hand, not believing who he was staring at! Jean Grey, the daughter of Mrs Grey, the neighbour he’d had as a child in the flat with his mother, the mother of whom had come to his own mothers funeral. “Yes, my God I haven’t seen you in years, how are you?” He shook her hand heartily until it then dawned on him what she was doing here. Surely, surely his old neighbour hadn’t been looking after Raven all this time? Surely there wasn’t another person to add to his ever decreasing small world, because this was ridiculous.

Had two people he’d known from childhood really been connected to Charles this entire time?

“I’m very well, thank you!” she smiled warmly at him, “It’s lovely to see you again.”

Erik glanced down to Charles who was looking up at him with a definite twinge of suspicious jealously across his face. It was adorable that even here, on the brink of hearing about his sister, he could still fit in a bit of feeling towards Erik. “Charles this is Jean Grey, she was my neighbour when I was younger.”

Jean turned to Charles, another warm smile and extending her hand for him to take too, “Charles Xavier, I cannot tell you how exciting it is to meet you, Raven does nothing but talk about you.”

Any jealousy was gone from his eyes now as thoughts went back to Raven, and although still wary of doctors in general it came down to the fact that Erik knew her, and anyone Erik knew Charles found himself already beginning to trust, so he took her hand attentively and shook it.

As soon their hands parted though, it was like a gate had been lifted and all of a sudden words were pouring out of Charles’ mouth.

“Raven she’s really here? Is she alright? I mean I know she's obviously not alright but I thought she was dead I can’t believe this she was gone I was holding her how can she be here it-“

Erik squeezed his hand again and placed a small kiss to his hair, calming him down, Charles looking lost and terrified and oh so hopeful and it was quite heart-breaking and heart-warming all at the same time.

Jean just smiled at him in empathy, “Why don’t you both sit down and I’ll explain.  Don’t worry this will just be the basics, I know you want to see her, we’ll talk officially afterwards.”

Charles nodded breathlessly, quickly sitting back down in his chair, Erik beside him as Jean walked around her desk and made herself comfortable in her seat.

“Now then, I say you’re all she talks about, but that’s not quite accurate.” Jean began clearly, “The injury to her throat completely severed her vocal chords, she can’t talk at all, but she does write and draw.” She leant forward in her chair placing her arms on the table, “She suffers from a form of something called Cerebral Hypoxia, caused by the lack of oxygen and blood to her brain during her attack. It was a miracle she survived in the first place, the main artery in her throat had been cut and 90% of times that is instant death for people. Only the luckiest ever survive and this was one of those cases.  It was lucky that the location of her attack was so close to a hospital that the ambulance got there and back again in time to save her.”

Charles at this point was shaking his head, a very confused frown to his face, “But…she died.” He said, barely above a whisper, “I was there she was in my arms, she was looking at me, she was…choking, and then she just…wasn’t. She was gone.”

“That was a coma,” Jean said softly, understandably, “she’d slipped into a coma, but she was still alive.”

“Oh god…” Charles breathed, looking mortified, voice cracking, “I left her there…I thought she was dead she…”

“Charles you couldn’t have known.” Erik said, finding it time to make his own contribution to this before a mis-directed guilt flooded over his lover, “There was no way you could have known, I would have thought the same thing. You had to save yourself from Stryker, you did the right thing.”

He would not let Charles start blaming himself for leaving her. He’d been panicked and scared and with his sister dead, or so he thought, running to save his own life was of course the logical thing to do.  Besides, Raven was saved, the right man was sent to jail, it worked out in the end.  Charles would not blame himself.

Charles looked to him, eyes wide and shining, searching for that reassurance he urgently needed before he visibly swallowed, turning back to Jean and looking so tense and so desperately eager to hear what she had to say, leaning forward in his chair.

 Jean continued. “They worked on her for a very long time, and by a miracle managed to stabilise her. They had to rebuild her windpipe, very delicate surgery, and although they were successful she was still in a coma, for almost 3 months.  When she awoke she had Cerebral Hypoxia, which is a common affliction for situations like this and whose symptoms can vary dramatically.” Jean paused for a moment, choosing her next words carefully as Charles stared at her with intense eyes, “She is alive and well, but she has the mental mind-set of a toddler. She spends most of her time in a wheelchair due to uncoordinated movements, she can walk if she wants but it is always best to have someone next to her to steady her.  She understands basic words, just like a small child, but I don’t believe she understand everything people say to her. She has very little attention span and, as I said because of her throat injury, her vocal chords have been completely destroyed.  She will never recover from all this, this is a permanent state of being now, but she is here and safe and we take very good care of her. This is her home.”

Charles had practically stopped breathing beside Erik, but was still holding his hand just as tight.  He stared at Jean with a slightly glazed expression, processing everything she had just told him.  That was an awful lot to take in, to understand, to picture a poor young girl going through.  She would forever need looking after, would never be able to be the normal young woman she could have grown in to.  Erik’s chest felt tight, so he hated to think what Charles felt.

It took a long time for Charles to speak, Jean just watching him carefully knowing it was not her place to begin talking again, “Is she…happy?” Charles asked quietly, and this made Jean smile.

“Very. She draws a lot, always a certain someone with blue eyes, and is always writing your name down on everything she can get her hands on.  I know it was you from the reports the police had informed us of, about the two siblings missing from a human trafficking ring. It’s very easy to tell she loved you very much, and still does.” She took in a deep breath, a very happy smile to her lips, “I have longed for the day when she would see you again, this is very exciting, for everyone here who looks after Raven. I never thought it would come, the police said they’d keep us informed if you were ever found, and now…here you are.”

Erik felt very much like the bystander here, on the sidelines as Charles’ eyes shone more and more with building glistening un-shed tears, but he didn’t mind.  This was a personal and very over-due moment, and Erik knew that once they met, once Charles had been re-united with the girl who had given him all the love he needed to keep him sane all these years, then Erik was going to hug her.  He’d wanted to ever since Charles had told him about her.  She was the reason Charles was sane, the reason he was alive, and if she’d let him Erik would hug her tightly in thank you. Even if she didn’t understand why, Erik would hold her, and tell her that she’d saved her brother.

“Can I see her now?” Charles asked in a cracking quiet voice, and Jean nodded.

“Of course,” she said, rising from her desk, “This time of day she’s usually either in her room or the music room. Please, follow me.”


Charles was still stony silent as they walked deeper into the building, still gripping Erik’s hand, staring at the floor lost in consuming thoughts and memories.  It was all too surreal, as though it hadn’t really sunk in yet that Raven was alive, and had been for the past 9 years.  What must be going through Charles’ head, the guilt, the thoughts of a life he’d missed with her, the thoughts of the suffering she must have gone through, and that no matter how happy she may be here she was still alone.

Erik didn’t know what he could possibly say, so just kept holding that hand, kept Charles close as they walked, shoulders and arms brushing against one another.

They finally reached a door still on the ground floor, that had Raven Xavier typed neatly in large lettering on the door behind a clear plastic case.  Looking up and seeing the name Charles let out a sudden strangled noise from his throat, half a cry half a gasp, and he turned to Erik dragging him to one side, Jean standing there with her hand on the door handle watching them patiently.

“Erik.” Charles whispered desperately, eyes large and anxious and his hands now gripping Erik’s arms. “This…this is happening isn’t it?” he asked, staring up at him so longingly, “Because if this is a dream I’m going to hate my subconscious for the rest of my life.”

Erik smiled gently at him, his own heart beating rapidly in apprehension, “This is real.” He ran one hand gently over the side of Charles’ head, fingertips through his hair in a calming gesture, “And I’m gonna be here with you the entire time.”

Charles took in a few unsteady breaths before leaning forward and resting his forehead against Erik’s chest, his fingers loosening around his arms and one of them trailing back down to take his hand.

He took in a deep steadying breath before turning back to Jean, giving her a small nod.

Nodding gently in return Jean knocked twice on the door, “Raven? It’s Jean, I’ve got a visitor here who’d like to see you, I’m coming in okay?”

Jean paused for a moment, evidently to give Raven time to get to the door in case she didn’t want visitors, but with no response Jean turned the handle and swung open the door.

The room inside was very nice, airy and bright like the rest of the building, sky blue curtains waving gently from the breeze coming in through the top open window.  There was a single bed, a white duvet with pictures of daisies covering it, and strewn around the rest of the room on top of cupboards and a desk were drawings after drawings, in crayon and paint and ink, across everything including the wall, joined also by photographs, dozens of them, all of….

“Ah, it seems she’s in the music room after all, it’s just down the hall so if you’d please follow me again...”

But Charles wasn’t listening.  He was looking at the photographs, slowly stepping into the room in a daze as he recognised all too well the blue eyes staring back at him in those photos.  Erik followed in beside him, recognition in his own eyes as he stared at the two young teenagers in every photograph, the same ones he’d found in that one photo behind the linen basket in his bathroom.

They were the photos of Charles and Raven that they’d taken of each other in the fair that day, the day before Raven’s attack and Charles had lost everything. Erik stared at them, each one pined to the wall with a small drawing pin, some, evidently Raven’s favourites, had big red hearts drawn around them on the walls themselves, ruining the wallpaper entirely but making it all the more homely.  There was one in a picture frame on the bedside table, one very similar to the one Charles kept, obviously one taken in the same space of time. 

His name was written everywhere, especially on drawings, childish stick figures, always one with very bright blue dots for eyes, holding hands with the figure in the skirt, playing in snow, climbing trees…playing at a piano.

And then it hit him.

It made sense now, Raven made sense. Why she never said anything to the young Charles despite him obviously being gay, why she had stuck with him when they escaped from Schmidt, not leaving him to save herself but doing everything to stay with him, to help him.

She didn’t just love him for being her brother, she was in love with him. Charles to her, was as Erik was to Charles.  He’d been the first person to be kind to her, to love her, to give her a home and a family and everything she’d never had.  She may have been a sister in name, but Charles was everything she’d ever wanted. She knew he was gay, but never said anything because she didn’t want ruin what she had, was happy to stay at the sidelines as long as her brother was happy around her.  She stayed with him because Charles had her heart, and would rather live the life of a prostitute then lose the only person she loved.  Charles had loved her because she was his own personal private family member, Raven had loved him because Charles had loved her.

Just why Charles loved Erik.

It was so sad, yet so beautiful, and Erik had no idea if Charles ever realised, or even guessed now as he looked around the room, his own eyes staring back at him from every photograph.

“The police gave us these photos.” Jean stepped into the silence, “They’d done a sweep of the area after Raven’s attack, found these down an alleyway. They searched for you Charles,” she added quietly, “But you’d disappeared.”

It was obvious Charles needed a moment as he did nothing but stare, heart and eyes open to know that in one way or another, Raven hadn’t been alone after all. She still had Charles in memory, still knew who he was despite her mental injuries, still had a hope that one day he’d come back, that they’d be together again. Charles never had that. For years he thought he was alone, and probably would forever be alone.

Until Erik came along.

“Charles…” Erik said gently, and Charles blinked rapidly as though coming out of a trance, turning to him a with such an air vulnerability, as though the slightest wrong words would send him crashing down into tears.  Relief, sadness, Erik didn’t know, “Let’s go find her.” Charles stared up at him, then nodded slowly.

Jean led them back out the door and down the corridors, passing large open seating areas with chairs and tables, televisions and many sofas. They passed other patients playing games together, some reading, others being tended to by their nurses.  It was a very posh place, everything nicely decorated, clean and friendly, and a thought crossed Erik’s mind briefly on how Raven could be here.  This was a private care home, someone had to be paying for to stay here…

But right now that didn’t matter, in fact the thought disappeared straight from his mind when suddenly he heard it, heard piano music drifting down the corridor from somewhere up ahead, music he immediately recognised. Charles stopped in his tracks, hearing it too, eyes and lips widening as he too recognised the tune.

Charles’ favourite piano piece, Return to the Heart, was being played softly up ahead.  Slowly and trance like Charles let go of Erik’s hand, walking as though apprehensively frightened of what he might find.

Erik and Jean followed closely behind, following Charles as the music led him around a corner, to a very large open space separated from the corridor by a set of glass double doors and floor to ceiling windows, of which the doors were currently wide open. Through the door was the music room, various instruments lined up against the walls or in cases, comfortable-looking cream arm chairs and sofas dotting the room and a long patio leading to more chairs outside in the sunlight. The room was empty aside from two people.  One was a young dark skinned man sitting on one of the armchairs next to a wheelchair, wearing a short white jacket with a name tag on it that read ‘Armando Munoz’. He was reading a car magazine and occasionally looking up to the woman playing at the piano, as though checking she was still alright.

Erik kept his eyes firmly on Charles, watching as when Charles’ eyes fell upon the woman playing the piano, his lips opened in a silent cry. He reached forward, holding onto the door frame to stop his legs from collapsing beneath him as an overwhelming surge of desperate joy, disbelief, and years of an un-needed loneliness washed through him.

Sitting at the large black grand piano, facing in towards the room at an angle, sat a young woman he knew all too well.

Raven was playing the tune as though she had never once said that playing the piano was for nerds, like Charles.  She swayed along gently with the music as she played it, not a note missed or wrong, eyes closed just like Charles played it. There was no sheet music.  Her blond hair was braided behind her, and she sat there in a light summery dress the same colour as her curtains.  The same colour as Charles’ eyes.  A silk turquoise scarf was wrapped around her neck, hiding what was to surely be a horrendous scar across her throat.

Erik reached out for Charles towards his shoulder, to hold him and steady him, for he looked like he wanted to collapse to his knees as he watched her.  She was really here, Raven really was alive.  And Charles looked like he hadn’t really believed it until now, until he saw her sitting there.

But before he could give Charles a comforting touch Charles moved, slowly forward, careful steps not wanting to disturb the music.  Armando looked up from his magazine as he walked in, looking to Jean who gave him a small smile and a curt nod, and he smiled in return putting down his magazine and watching as Charles slowly approached the piano.

Charles was barely breathing as he approached the sister he thought he’d lost years ago. His heart was hammering in his chest, eyes shining more than ever, and when Raven suddenly opened her eyes he froze.  She didn’t look at him though, just stared down at the keys, and Charles slowly moved once again until he was standing right beside her.

The tension in the room could have been cut with a knife. Erik stood next to Jean by the doorway, watching as Charles just stood there, watching her play, her fingers knowing the notes just as well as Charles.

“She’d never played the piano before, Charles would always play it for her.” Erik whispered very quietly, and Jean’s surprised face looked at him.

“She’s played this tune every day since she’s been here.” Jean whispered in reply, looking back to Charles staring down at his sister, “The mind really is an amazing thing.” It must have been the most prominent memory for her, and with no one to play it the part of her mind that was left must have delved deep into memory, bringing forth the knowledge of playing the music that reminded her of her beloved Charles, so she could play it herself. “This would explain why she doesn’t play any other tune.”

The music was beginning to slow, a quiet part just over halfway through the piece, and Charles, still looking at his sister as though she might disappear at any moment, slowly slid next to her on the wide stool. Raven still didn’t look up at him, but didn’t move away either when Charles’ thigh pressed against hers where they sat.

As the music paused for a few moments in the tune, Charles raised his hands to the keys, very very gently pushing Raven’s aside, and without a word, only blinking back the tears that were so close to falling, he continued the piece for her, pressing the keys just as tenderly as she had been. Raven’s hands slid quietly to her lap as her eyes watched these new hands play the piece no one had played for her in so many years.

Charles kept on smiling, a smile wracked with emotion, with trembling lips and shaky breaths, waiting, waiting, waiting for Raven to see who he was. He didn’t know how to speak right now, so just played, played the tune that had meant so much to both of them.

Raven continued to watch his fingers play, before finally, Charles grinning and tears finally falling from his eyes down his cheeks, he saw Raven look at him through the corner of his eyes.  She stared, her expression calm, curious, blinking as her damaged mind tried to place the photos all over her room to the slightly older man sitting beside her, playing her tune, the tune that had always filled her with such good feelings.

Slowly, very slowly, a small smile began to curl onto her lips, and Erik could feel his own heart lifting and soaring on Charles’ behalf as she looked at Charles with wonderfully bright eyes, a bright smile, everything was suddenly bright and precious as he watched her staring at him so happily.

Suddenly she moved, sliding off the stool to stand. Armando leapt up off the sofa quickly standing  and running over to help her up.  She grinned, held on to him and then began to move her feet disconnectedly, staggering every now and then but holding on to his upper arms as she jumped up and down like a playful child, and yet somehow, it was in time to the music.

She was dancing, just like she used to do when Charles played for her.

She knew who he was.

The tears were flowing freely down Charles’ face, but he still didn’t miss a note of the music, biting his lip trying to stop himself from sobbing in joy as he watched his sister in front of the piano, happy and dancing and being twirled on the spot by the equally grinning Armando before losing her balance and falling into his arms, only to be pulled up and begin dancing all over again.

Erik just stood there, stood and watched with such a warm smile on his face, so unbelievably happy for Charles, because after everything had that happened in his life, even just in the last few days, this was the greatest thing that could have happened.

He had only asked him a few days ago what was the one thing he wanted, and before he’d replied with a simple hug, the words had left him:

“Aside from having my sister back?”

Erik had promised himself he’d give Charles everything, but returning a dead sister was something he couldn’t do.  But now, watching as the music came to an end and Charles stopped playing, watching as Raven stumbled back over towards him as he turned round on the stool towards her, watching as she slid onto his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck and hugging him tightly, Erik knew Charles had his sister back.

Charles looked at Erik from across the room, holding Raven so tightly, one side of his face nuzzling against her golden hair, and smiled.  Possibly the brightest smile Charles had ever shown, and Erik was genuinely too stunned to move. He felt a wave of affection for him, knowing that after all the bad, everything was now going right.  Charles had had more than his fair share of darkness, now the light was so bright it was blinding them.

Charles gestured with a quick movement of his head for Erik to come over, and although he did as he was told he felt like he was intruding.  This was a moment for Charles, a moment too long overdue, and he didn’t really feel that he should be here.

He didn’t have long to think that though, for when he drew near and could see Charles more clearly, Charles was looking up at him with an expression that showed nothing but a world’s worth of love, of gratitude, and keeping a tight grip around her Charles said, “Raven, this is Erik. Without him, I wouldn’t have found you.”

Raven leant backwards, Charles’ grasp loosening just a bit so she could turn and look up at Erik.  Erik suddenly felt like he was meeting the parents, heart beating nervously in his chest.  He wondered how much she remembered, if she really had been in love with Charles did she still understand that Charles’ love for her was not the same?  She looked up at him curiously, and then after a few moments suddenly beamed at him, her shoulders shuddering in what would have been a giggle if any sound could have left her throat. She raised one hand from around Charles’ shoulders and splattered it firmly against Erik’s cheek like a child, Charles letting out a quick and still unbelievable laugh that this was really happening.  She left her hand there for a moment, looking up at the not-sure-what-do Erik, before her fingers slowly slid down his warm cheek and she turned back to Charles, returning her arm around his neck and settling herself back to hugging him, her face disappearing over his shoulder. 

Erik felt so relieved, and accepted, and that was the best feeling of all.

Charles had his family back.

Charles squeezed her tightly, breathing in the familiar wonderful scent of his rare happy childhood memories, and said softly against her ear, “I love you my little sister.” He placed a kiss to her hair, and then looked up at Erik again, eyes that shone with recent happy tears and a look that said Erik was the perfect human being. “I love you.” He repeated again, nuzzling Raven’s hair.

But his eyes were still looking at Erik. 

Those words were for him.

To be continued…

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

Not surprisingly Charles didn’t want to leave Raven’s side.  Although Raven was apparently very happy living here, both Jean and Armando agreed it was like a new side of her had suddenly been un-veiled, the excitement of a small child at a birthday party, a party in which she had been given the greatest present anyone could ever have wanted. She showed Charles absolutely everything she had drawn over the past nine years, dragged him to all her favourites parts of the house and gardens, so excited in fact her co-ordination was getting worse, tripping over nothing and bumping into walls, so Armando insisted he push her around in the wheelchair.  She reluctantly succumbed, but she didn’t let go of Charles’ hand as Armando pushed her down the hallways, going wherever her free hand was pointing.

It wasn’t just Raven that was acting like a child either, Charles was too, so unbelievably happy he couldn’t take his eyes off her, as though he still couldn’t believe she was here and if he looked away she’d disappear again. His eyes had never been so full of life, a grin that if it stayed on his face much longer would probably be stuck there permanently, and he literally bounced around her acting very much like an over-excited child himself, happy and without a care in the world, the child he should have been all those years ago.

Erik followed obediently behind them wherever they went, quite happy to view from afar.  This was their time, not Erik’s, and even though Charles tried to get him involved, attempted to share this wonderful moment in his life with him he kept on getting distracted by Raven, and they’d head out a room together all smiles and laughing leaving Erik to follow after them. Well, Charles would be laughing, Raven would only make very basic breathy noises, ones that didn’t require a voice box, but the equally large grin on her face told them that could she laugh, she would be matching her brothers with ease.

They stayed with her for the rest of the day, Moira joining them after the first raw re-union had taken place.  Erik was glad she was here, even though she looked deathly tired and pale there was a satisfied relaxed smile on her face, that she had helped this re-union take place, that Erik was happy because Charles was happy because Raven was alive, the girl she had seen all those years ago. One big completed circle. 

She kept Erik company as they followed Raven and Charles to all the places she was taking him.  The care home was huge, almost like a small mansion in itself, indoor swimming pool as well as out, lavish rooms and many many activities, whether it be sports outside with the carers or boards games and widescreen televisions inside.

The food also matched the expensive aura of the place, being served like a restaurant with waiters in the dining area, or wherever each resident felt best to eat. When dinner came around Charles helped Armando to feed Raven.  Like a toddler if Raven didn’t like what saw before her she burst into tears, turning her head away in a tantrum and crossing her arms.  Eventually Armando would get her to eat with kind soothing words, but today, despite there being broccoli on the plate which she hated with a passion, Raven threw no tantrum as long as Charles was the one feeding her. She ate the disliked green vegetable like it was the tastiest thing on earth, never taking her eyes away from Charles, giving him a broccoli filled toothy grin which just made Charles laugh.

As he fed her, all five of them sitting around a circular table in the dining room, Armando sat back with a smile and struck up conversation, talking about Raven’s life here, and his own.

It turned out Armando was the son of the owner, and for as long as he could remember he’d been helping out the patients here, from entertaining them as a small child to officially learning and taking on patients of his own.  Raven was one of his first, and it turns out she didn’t seem to remember anything of what had happened to her, nothing since New York.  Her mind had blocked out all the bad and left her with the only good memory she had, Charles.  All her mind was filled with was blue eyes and the odd fractured memories of a life in a mansion, and a piano tune she had always loved.  She hadn’t understood at first why Charles wasn’t with her, why she was alone, and kept on trying to sneak out of the house.  Her mental injuries never allowed her to get too far though, and Armando often found her crawling along the floor towards the entrance, unable to stand.  She’d cry for hours when Armando carried her back to her room, and the next morning there’d be more drawings of a stick man with blue dots for eyes scattered across the floor. 

It was a story that was somehow so heart wrenchingly sad yet so powerfully uplifting at the same time.  She’d gone through something so terrible, suffered so much, and although her damaged mind had forgotten it all to protect her, it refused to forget Charles.  Her brother, the one she loved, even if she’d always known Charles would never love her the way she did him.

Erik felt very solemn listening to the story, and could see the equally sombre Charles listening too out the corner of his eyes, looking back to the happy smiling Raven in front of him knowing that probably all this time she’d been waiting for Charles to come strolling through the doors and take her home.  Her damaged mind just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t here with her.

But it didn’t matter now, because he was here, and with the way the two of them acted around each other it was like nothing had ever changed. Raven and Charles, as it should be.

Well, Raven, Charles and Erik, now.

Moira more than once pointed out the little happy smile on Erik’s face as he watched Charles’ cheerful expressions with Raven, and throughout the entire day Erik still wanted nothing more than to hug the young girl, to thank her for things she didn’t even remember anymore. 

Opportunity did come though, just as they were leaving the now tired Raven readying for bed. 

Her injuries meant she slept for long periods of time, unable to keep awake and focused for very long.  She needed to rest a lot, so by 7pm she was being tucked up in bed, Armando checking her daily charts while Charles sat at her bedside.

He was telling her the very much cleaned up version on how he and Erik met.  He was turning it into a bedtime story, and Raven, white scarf now around her neck, was slowly slipping down further under the covers, eyelids drooping, but smiling every time Charles said Erik’s name, because smiling was exactly was Charles was doing every time he said it.

Erik was sitting in another chair nearer the end of the bed watching them, and could feel a heated blush begin to rise to his cheeks at the way Charles was telling their story. Charles was making him out to be some sort of Prince Charming coming to the rescue, and Moira, standing by the door, was sniggering at just how sappy it was turning into, looking at Erik like she wanted to pinch his cheeks.  Erik was half embarrassed and half glaring at Charles, who just kept glancing at him and pulling the corner of his lips up in a knowing smirk. 

He was doing it deliberately, the cheeky bastard.

As tired as Raven looked though she suddenly and slowly slipped her arm out from under the sheets and took a piece of paper and a pen from the nightstand.  Charles watched her curiously as he continued talking, watching her drawing something big on the A4 sheet with a red felt tip pen. 

After a short while his words slowly drifted into quiet, his expression turning so soft at what he could see, and Erik sat up in his chair, curious now as to what she was drawing.

“Erik.” Charles called softly, not looking away from the paper, and Erik rose from his chair and walked beside him.  Immediately Raven turned over the sheet of paper and held it up at Erik, eyes wide and blinking.

It look a moment for Erik to realise what she had written, to say Erik’s name was spelt wrong was putting it mildly, but inside a big red heart were written three red words in large childish handwriting:




Raven was looking at them expectantly, as though waiting to hear that she’d done the right thing, that she’d understood who Erik was, and what he meant to Charles.  Charles looked like he was going to cry again, overly happy tears, but Raven was still looking up at Erik with a hopeful smile, and if ever there was an opportunity to hug her, this was it.

Erik was completely elated by this small little gesture, Raven accepted him for what he was in Charles’ life, wanted it to be the three of them, not just keeping Charles for herself. This was a big step, and so quickly for her to understand. So, cautiously and slowly, with no sudden movements, he leant down to her, gently wrapping her in his arms, and smiling equally as warmly simply said against her hair,

“Thank you, Raven…for everything.”

She was the reason Charles was still here, the reason he had survived, the reason he had never broken.  Everything about Charles was owed to Raven, and Erik held her securely and warmly, wanting to communicate just how grateful he was, and how much Raven was just a completely wonderful woman.

Raven rested her head on his shoulder, looking at Charles, and grinning the widest grin she had ever made.


Raven had fallen asleep soon after, with Charles’ promising parting words that he’d be back to visit tomorrow, and the day after, and every day after that.  There was a lot of time that needed to be caught up on between the siblings, and it was unbelievable to think she’d only been a twenty minute drive away this entire time, something Charles couldn’t quite get his head around.  She’d been so close all this time.

Erik and Charles also left with departing hugs to both Jean and Armando, thanking them for everything they had done for Raven, and organising a morning visit tomorrow.  There was still medical conditions Jean wanted to talk about with Charles, plus Charles wanted to know if Raven was allowed out of the care home, if she could visit him. This was apparently allowed as long as a carer or doctor was with her at all times, but they could discuss more on that tomorrow.

So saying their goodbyes, the two of them got back into Moira’s car, the tired but satisfied detective driving them back home.

Charles kept his arms wrapped around Erik the entire trip back, head buried at his neck just holding him impossibly close. Erik had never felt so loved in his life, everything was finally calm and peaceful in Charles’ life and the smaller man seemed to place all of it upon Erik. All the reasons for everything good that had happened, it was all because of Erik, and barely even two weeks ago when Charles had been skittish and wary he was now clinging to Erik closely, nuzzling against him finally at rest with his world.

There had been nothing good in Charles’ life until Erik came along, and now Charles wasn’t going to let him go.

And Erik was perfectly fine with that.

It wasn’t long before they arrived back home, Moira pulling into the driveway and everyone stepping out of the car. Moira lingered for a moment though bringing out another paper file, thin and blue with the words ‘Xavier: New York’ typed on the front.

“Here, take these.” She said, Charles looking curiously at her as he took the file.

“What’s this?”

She just gave him a drowsy smile, the events of the day and last night very much catching up with her, The final piece of the jigsaw. It’s the legal documents obtaining to your estate in New York, and, “she paused, nodding down to the file in Charles’ hand, “There’s a letter in there, from your step-brother.”

Cain Marko.  Erik watched Charles’ eyes suddenly swim with memories, looking down to the folder, his fingers easing across the front.  This was the last thing to clear up, what had happened to the estate all this time, details about Kurt perhaps. Erik had been dying to know about this.

“Now if you’ll excuse me,” Moira said, stifling back a yawn, “I’ve been awake for a very long time, I am extremely tired and I’m going to bed. I’ve had enough of you two now.” She added with a playful but really very tired smirk.

Erik smiled back at her, a swell of warmth for his friend at making all of this possible.  He stepped forward, giving the exhausted detective a brief but close hug, “Thanks Moira, we really do owe you one.”

“Damn right you do.” She chuckled lightly, looking to Charles who immediately pounced at her when Erik pulled back, sweeping her round in a circle at the force of his hug, and the gratefulness and trust that was beaming off of him even without words was just so different and such a welcome difference from how he had been.

“Thank you so much Moira.” He said softly, burying his face in her hair, “You’ve helped get my life back, and I don’t know what I could ever do to thank you for that.”

“Oh I’m sure I’ll think of something.” She teased, “Just look after Erik for me, lord knows he needs you.” She sent Erik a gentle deliberate smile over Charles’ shoulder, and Erik found himself wondering how this would have all turned out if he had never met Moira that day at school.  She truly was a best friend to be proud of.

If slightly embarrassing to be around.

“I will.” Charles whispered quietly, perhaps too embarrassed for Erik to hear it, but he did hear it, and every time a little bit of affection in words came out like that from Charles it just made his heart flutter in happiness. All the effort to get Charles to trust him had paid off, he not only trusted now, but he loved him.

It had taken a long and emotionally destroying road to get here, but here they were just the same.

As much as Moira was trying to tease her friends, she was soon yawning again and almost slumping down on Charles, her legs really beginning to realise they hadn’t slept for over 36 hours.

“Is it such a good idea for you to be driving?” Erik asked as Charles, a chuckling smile of his own, helped her into the drivers seat of the car. “You could stay here if you like.”

The last thing he needed was for Moira to have an accident on the way home, there’d been enough bad things happening recently to last for a long time thank you.

“And what sleep on that ancient sofa of yours?” Moira glanced up at him, “Last I saw it this morning it was broken in half.  What the hell did you do to it?”

Erik stilled, the wonderful way in which he was woken up this morning fluttering teasingly over his eyes. The sudden awkward silence, the glances between the two and the small “umm…” that fell from Charles’ smirking lips was all the information Moira needed.

“Oh…oh jeez you two I am definitely not staying!” she quickly started up the car, trying to hold back her escaping grin, Charles laughing beside her and Erik seemingly unable to decide whether to laugh or look vaguely mortified. “I’ll be fine, that image will keep me awake for the journey I can guarantee you that.”

She gave the two of them one last fond little look, before looking behind her and reversing out the drive.  Erik raised one still arm into the air in a wave goodbye, Charles waving rather enthusiastically at his side, “Bye! And thank you again!”

As the street fell silent, Charles looked back down to the file in his hand.  Erik placed one comforting arm around his waist, “Let’s go inside and get this last bit over and done with.”

Charles nodded, turning to the house and opening the file as they walked through the door and up the stairs, taking out two sheets of paper.  The first was crisp and white, a bank statement, the second was yellowy and crinkled with age, in a very messy scribbled handwriting.

The strong curiosity at the letter won out over the bank statement, and Charles slowly sat down in one of the kitchen chairs, eyes already reading the first lines of the letter.  Erik stood behind him intent on reading it with him if he’d allow, and saw the top of the page was dated almost 8 and a half years ago.  Over Charles’ shoulder he read:

Dear Charles.

I hope one day you’ll get to read this, with Raven found I know you’re out there somewhere, you wouldn’t have left her under your own choice.  I want you to know that despite my childish bullying towards you I never would have wanted Dad to do this to you, I didn’t even know what he’d done until we got the call a few days ago saying Raven had been found. His big secret all spilled out then, I can’t tell you enough how much I didn’t want to believe him.  I know I wasn’t exactly the nicest of people to live with, but selling you and Raven, it made me sick to think Dad had done that to the two of you.

You’ll probably be happy to know that Kurt died yesterday, a car crash in LA on the run from the cops.  I’m the one that called them, now I know what he was capable of I didn’t actually feel that much remorse on informing the authorities about what he’d done,  or that much on his death.  It was always about the money for him.

I’m not asking for forgiveness for my behaviour but I just want you to know that I’ve stayed at the mansion simply to take care of it.  I haven’t spent any of the money which although all went to me after Dad died, does still legally belong to you, if you’re still alive.  Maybe it is my own way of trying to apologise for everything, but the mansion, your home, is still here, I look after it and the gardens but I work the basic minimum wage as a garbage man.  Your money is not mine to spend, except for paying for Raven’s care in England.  I’m sure you wouldn’t mind me spending it on her.  I tried to get her to come home but it seemed she didn’t want to leave without you, part of the reason why I know you’re still alive. She knows. I shipped that piano in the ballroom over to her care home, so she has something that reminded her of you. She loved you playing on that.

This big old place here in New York just needs you home now.  I know you’re out there somewhere, you have to be, and I’m sorry for everything that my Dad started, and for the way I treated you when we were kids.  Between the two of us we destroyed everything happy in your life, and though I doubt it will mean much anymore, I am so very sorry.

Please be okay. Please come home safely.

Your deeply guilty and hopeful step-brother,


Erik hadn’t realised until he’d read through the letter that he’d placed one hand on Charles’ shoulder, squeezing it gently and comfortingly.  He didn’t know what to feel about this letter, or how Charles would feel.  Kurt was dead, died shortly after Raven’s attack. This was good, that meant there would be no battle over the hold of the estate, no need for Charles to re-live horrid memories by having to meet up with his step-father. He was gone, just like Shaw, and Erik couldn’t help but feel a nasty swell of relief and ‘he deserved it’ twisting in his chest.

But that was Erik, Charles was different from him, knowing Charles he’d feel sorry for him, despite everything Kurt had caused.  After all, Charles had said he never really hated Cain, just felt sorry for him, that he too was missing a parent, and now with this apology, with Cain spending his life looking after the ghost of Charles’ past, looking after Raven from afar (Erik knew someone had to be paying for Raven to stay there), he doubted Charles would have anything to hate him for. 

Cain would be forgiven.

There was a long silent pause in the room, Charles must have finished reading it by now, before his fingers moved delicately across the sides of the paper.  He took in a small steady breath as his eyes skated over the words quickly again, picking out “Kurt” and “died” and “Raven” and “Sorry”, before his lips tugged upwards and he placed one hand over his eyes, then ran it through his hair.

“You know I thought I recognised that piano. It was mine. Heh.”

“Are you alright?” Erik asked softly, pulling the other chair up beside him and sitting down. 

“I don’t know.” Charles honestly replied, before looking at Erik with a small waning smile, “Though I suppose I should give Cain a call and let him know I’m alive.”

It must have been an odd conflicting feeling, to know the boy who had once bullied him and made his life a misery had suddenly been looking after everything precious to him.  There was an obvious reluctance to make contact with that part of his life again, but now maybe he felt obliged to contact him knowing that Cain had been waiting all this time to hear if Charles was alright.  Cain could have taken the money, spent it all, not cared for Raven’s life and been like his father. But he hadn’t. Cain had nothing do to with the kidnapping, he’d just been a lonely un-loved boy, just like Charles, who was trying to make up for his mistakes as a child.

Erik nodded in agreement, looking towards the phone, “Feel free.”

There was a phone number along with the address of the estate at the top of the letter, and so, after a moment to gather his thoughts, Charles slowly rose from the chair and walked to the phone on the wall. 

Picking it up he looked back to Erik, who gave him a quick encouraging nod, and steadying his breathing Charles began dialling the number, the number he had never needed to learn as a child as he’d never left the house, and waiting with an elated pulse as the tone began to ring.

“Xavier residence.” Came a much deeper voice than Charles remembered.

“H-hello? Cain?” Charles began nervously.

“Yeah. Who’s this?”

Charles swallowed heavily, “It’s Charles…....Xavier.” he elaborated.

There was a silent pause on the other end of the phone, before in a changed voice, just as deep but now a breathy release of disbelieving elated words, Cain simply said:

“…… way, Charles?”

Erik couldn’t hear what was being said, but the smile that suddenly found its way to Charles’ face told Erik all he needed to know. He sat there, watching Charles talking and, wow, even laughing, holding the phone tightly in his hand.

Everything was going right, and it was about time.

So desperately curious about the letter from the step-brother, the bank statement sitting on the table had gone un-cared for.  It was only near the end of the long conversation, Charles talking to Cain like he’d been missing a friend all these years, that Erik actually looked down to the solitary sheet of paper.

Erik was a banker, so he was used to seeing large amounts of money, but the very long digited number ending in many zero’s that was placed after Charles’ name, a once already large bank account now un-touched and gaining interest for 9 years, well…it made even Erik’s eyes bulge at the number.

Charles Xavier, the once half-starved un-loved and abused rent boy, now one of the wealthiest men in the USA.


What little remained of the evening was spent in a quick meal, and then Charles curling up against Erik under the duvet cover, back in Erik’s pyjama’s yet again, and falling into a sleep that held the first happy dreams he could remember having.

Charles had been quiet during the evening, possibly still in shock over Raven and Cain and Kurt and the money, just everything his life had suddenly turned in to.  But the way he was looking at Erik during the evening, oh, the way Erik was the only thing in the room, the only thing worth looking at, the adoration and thankfulness and just…just love that radiated from those eyes, it made Erik constantly lean down to kiss him, kisses that were long and loving and just the kind of kisses Erik knew he’d be forever giving him.

Both mentally and physically exhausted over the past two days occurrences, Charles especially, they’d then both just collapsed into bed and slept. No sex, just…closeness. It proved to Erik once again just how much Charles truly did trust and love him now, there was no more awkward glances, fighting to hold back, thinking he wasn’t worth it. He’d just cuddled up beside him, knowing that Erik wasn’t going to hurt him, wasn’t going to leave, wasn’t going to do anything but cuddle him straight back.  Charles was learning his existence in this world wasn’t just to be used for sex, that there was someone who wanted to be with him for more than just the physical, someone who adored his mind just as much as his body.

There was nothing left now, no questions be to answered, aside from whether or not Charles would be able, or want, to stay, but that didn’t have to be decided until after his therapy sessions. Whatever happened, whatever country or home they’d end up in, Erik knew that Charles would be in his arms every night he fell asleep. His large double bed would no longer have a cold side to it, his empty seat across the kitchen table would no longer be empty, and that for the first time out of all the men Moira had tried to hook him up with, Charles was the only one Erik had ever truly loved, ever wanted to stay with, ever wanted to grow old and grey with and still be curling around each other every night to fall asleep.

Like Charles’ dreams, Erik’s had been ones filled with nothing but those blue eyes and naughty red lips, a love that swelled his chest even in his dream world, which was why when he opened his eyes in the morning to find that space beside him cold and empty, his chest deflated very rapidly.

Suddenly alert and very much awake Erik leant up in bed, looking around the empty room and the bathroom door that was open, before calling out with a rising panic, “Charles?!”

There was a clutter from the other side of the bedroom door, before a nervously laughing voice replied, “H-hold on, I’ll be right there, I’m just, oh…bugger it!”

A clank of what sounded like cutlery in the sink, cupboards opening and some kind of cereal being poured, and then Charles was pushing open the bedroom door with his backside to reveal a tray in his hands with two bowl’s of cereal and two glasses of fresh orange juice on it.

He smiled sheepishly, “I was hoping to get this done before you woke up but, oh well.” He walked over to Erik’s side of the bed, holding out the tray, “Could you take that for a second?”

Erik, whose brain was currently exploding in the adorable domestic-ness of this scene (and so thankfully relieved Charles was there), just took the tray without a word, staring at Charles with a crooked smile as Charles took one of the glasses of juice and put it on Erik’s bedside table, before skirting around the other side of the bed and clambering in his side, snuggling under the duvet and grinning proudly at Erik for his accomplishment of…

“Breakfast in bed?”

Charles nodded excitedly, “I’ve never had anyone to cook for before.”

Feeling so delighted silly, Erik gave Charles an amused look with a raised eyebrow and peered down at his bowl of cornflakes, “This is cereal.”

Charles coughed awkwardly, though his smile remained firmly on his lips, “Ah, well,” he took his own glass of orange and took a sip, before placing it on his bedside table too, “Cereal was Plan B. You don’t want to see the outcome of Plan A.”

Erik thought back to the clutter of noise he’d heard coming from the sink, and looked rather worryingly to the door. Charles saw his glance and just waved it off, “Don’t worry, I didn’t set anything on fire.  Well…” he laughed nervously again, “nothing was on fire for very long anyway.” Erik stared back at him with alarmed eyes, but Charles was just trying to contain his laughter at Erik’s expression, “In my defence I’ve never had a kitchen before either!”

Fear and fondness was a strange combination of emotions, but that’s exactly what Erik felt looking at the proud Charles with the image of a burnt black kitchen floating through his mind. Not wanting to imagine the disaster waiting behind that door Erik just shook his head lightly and gave Charles that crooked smile again, before settling the tray between them so Charles could get to his own Plan B bowl of cereal.

“You know you have no idea how many times I have tried to make you breakfast in bed,” Erik said, “but something always happened, you’d always get up before I had a chance.”  He remembered back to Charles walking through the bedroom door while he was cooking breakfast on several occasions, and his very first thought that first night they’d met, the most amazing sex and he’d just wanted to cook something for the thin man lying on top of him, asking for money.

And after all those attempts, Charles had made it first on his very first go.

“Really?” Charles asked with an affectionately surprised smile on his lips, “Well, there’s always tomorrow.”

Erik smiled, very softly.

Indeed there was.

“Make sure you stay in bed then.”

Charles nodded, faking seriousness, “Oh absolutely.”

Charles giggled at the brief silent pause between them, and Erik couldn’t stand the fondness going through his chest any longer, Charles was just too much. He leant over, capturing those giggling lips softly and silencing them at once.  He would awake to every morning like this, he got the feeling he wouldn’t even be able to start his day without feeling that redness moving and caressing against him.  He stroked two fingers slowly down Charles’ cheek, Charles’ breath hitching through his nose as with that one barely little touch he melted against him, hands moving up Erik’s chest through the fabric of the white t-shirt he was wearing, hot and wanting and-

“Whoa, no, wait,” Erik laughed as the bowls of cereal and milk almost slid off the tray, Erik just catching them in time. “Let’s just eat this first, okay?”

Charles licked his lips hungrily, though Erik got a feeling it wasn’t a hunger for the menial breakfast in front of them. Now admittedly Erik would much rather throw the trays to the floor and tackle Charles under the duvet, but as basic as this breakfast was, Charles had made it for him, and as silly as it sounded he wanted to eat this cereal.

 “So, what do you want to do today?” he began as a topic of conversation, to try and momentarily will away his hardening member trying to reach for Charles of its own accord.

“You mean aside from having you ravish me?”

Erik paused with spoon half way to mouth, and turned with a deadpan face to Charles, sitting there biting his lip and grinning far too much for this time in the morning.

Charles didn’t make this easy.

“Yes,” Erik replied, refusing to give in to this little sexual deviant in his bed, “aside from that.”

“Well,” Charles began, not even bothering to try and hide the hand that was disappearing under the duvet towards Erik’s groin, “There’s Raven to visit and then…I don’t know. I don’t really want to think today. Actually,” he suddenly said, brightening as an idea obviously popped into his head, Erik not knowing whether Charles was deliberately ignoring the fact that with his hand around Erik’s cock, that Erik’s spoon that had paused halfway to his mouth still hadn’t moved an inch, his eyelids flickering at the warm firm hold, “Can we take the chess board into the park? Maybe some books too, just…to relax, in the warm. What do you think?”

Erik let out a shuddering breath, remaining perfectly still, “I can’t think.”


Charles turned to him, eyes overly large and innocent and completely ignoring the up and down movements under the duvet from his hand.  Erik swallowed thickly, turning his head against the headboard to look at him, to stare at him, to glare at him…to release a breathy groan he’d been trying to hold in, Charles’ hand pulling and squeezing in all the right places…

Charles’ innocent look was broken with a cruel curl of lips, “There’s always Plan C.”


In the short time he had known Charles Erik had never had more pleasurable sex in his life.  He supposed that’s just what being in love with someone meant, for he was sure each time they made love it felt even better than the time before.  Or maybe it was just the way Charles seemed determined to try different positions, if their excursion out of the bedroom into the kitchen this morning was anything to go by.

He’d somehow ending up fucking him against the fridge, Charles’ legs wrapped around his waist, one arm holding on for dear life above him at the edge of the fridge door while Erik pounded up into him, growling into his ear about being “punished” for destroying several now burnt pans in this morning’s Plan A breakfast attempt, Charles writhing and moaning desperately against him pleading that he was just a poor innocent kitchen assistant and, “Oh god yes, yes, ughhh, yes Erik!”  

Erik felt quite uncomfortable visiting Raven in the end, if only she knew what her brother got up to.

Afterwards they found themselves in the park just as Charles had suggested, a day of relaxation and no need to think of anything but the sunlight and the company kept.  Erik had stopped off for some food and they’d even made a picnic on the grass, the chessboard between them, light slow conversations between food and chess moves, idly watching the people go by who visited the park by day, so different from the ones at night.  Charles was such a conundrum, he really did look so innocent sitting there nibbling on crisps and contemplating the chess game, but Erik knew he was a damn good actor, was he really sitting there being as innocent as he looked or was his mind leading down more…indecent roads.  He could never tell, especially seen as he looked just like this while trying to give him a hand job this morning.

In a weird sexual way that was part of his charm, the mystery of Charles Xavier’s mind.

As the day continued they camped out on Erik’s favourite bench, the one on which they’d first met, and sat and read books together, Charles with his legs tucked up underneath him as he leant against Erik, both reading a different book, but still so close, Erik occasionally turning his head to place a kiss against Charles’ hair, his eyes not removing themselves from the words on the page. 

Erik loved this, truly adored this day, if only every day could have been spent like this.

“I know what I want to do Erik, about staying here or not, and about the money.”

Charles’ voice had come out of the blue, and Erik looked up, not even noticing that a few of the lamps around the park had come on as the sun was slowly dipping in the sky.  He turned to Charles, closing his book and very curious to hear what Charles had to say.

Charles looked up at him, “I want to stay here.”

Erik felt a wave of relief fly over his entire body at those words. He would have followed Charles anywhere, but they met here, had good memories amongst the not so good, and he hadn’t realised just how much he had wanted to stay in this country until Charles had said it.

“I want to stay here and… and I really mean here, in the maisonette.  I know I…we,” he changed, with a small happy smile, “have enough money to buy somewhere much bigger, but unless you really want to move I…I kind of like living there.” He said, looking up at Erik questioningly, “It’s cosy. I like cosy.”

Erik smiled gently, “I like it too.“ and he did, he’d always liked his home, it was just even better with Charles there now, “We’ll stay here then.”

Charles grinned widely at that, but contained himself and continued, “That’s of course if I pass my tests but, anyway, the money.” He took a deep breath, as though saying his thoughts out loud would finally finalise everything in his mind, “I want to sell the mansion. I want to give some money to Cain, for looking after everything, some to Moira, for being a wonderful human being,” he chuckled fondly, “I want to keep enough saved to get me through my education and enough to pay for Raven’s accommodation for the rest of her life, and then…” he smiled, a small thoughtful smile, “I want to use the rest to eventually open up my own school.”

Erik almost wanted to sigh, a happy sigh that said he’d knew this all along. He wasn’t surprised by this want at all, it was somehow the perfect thing for Charles to want to do. “I think that’s a brilliant idea.” He smiled, and Charles grinned up at him, happy that he thought so.

“I’m going to have it built near the bedsit.  It’s such a rough area around there, I should know, and there are so many kids there who just don’t care about their lives. I want to show them how important it is to care, I know it’ll be a lot of hard work, but I know what it’s like to be at the bottom of the barrel.  I want to give children like that a hand up and back into the light again.”

More in love, every word just made Erik fall in love with him more and more.  Charles was an Angel that had been trapped in hell for far too long, but it never extinguished that unselfish love he had for everything around him.  Charles was too perfect to be real.

“What about me?” Erik asked with a deliberate put-on pout, “Don’t I get anything?”

Charles grinned sneakily at him, leaning over and giving him a sweet, lingering kiss, tongue running gently over his bottom lip, “You get me.” He whispered against them, hand finding Erik’s and clasping it tightly, “Besides, everything that’s left is going to you.”

Erik shook his head lightly, “Don’t be foolish Charles I don’t want your money, I just want you.”

Faint colour rose to Charles’ cheeks in the fading light, and he brushed his lips against Erik’s once again, soft and loving and speaking so much with such a brief connection, “I thought you’d say that, which is why I’m going to save it for scholarships for students at my school, and save it for us, for the…future.” He smiled timidly, mention of ‘the future’, a future both wanted together.

As Erik looked back into his favourite blue eyes he rose one hand and gently brushed away a few locks of hair, trailing his fingers across Charles’ brow.

“I love you.”

More than anything, did he love this man.

That colour remained on Charles’ cheeks, but then Erik watched curiously as his eyes darted to the side for a second, then over Erik’s shoulder to the park behind them with a sneaky glint, before wetting his lips and turning those devious eyes back to Erik. 

“What?” Erik asked, before Charles shifted on the bench, rising to his knees and placing his hands on Erik’s shoulders, manoeuvring one leg over him and resting back against Erik’s thighs, the exact same position they’d ended up in on the night they met, right here, on this very same bench.

Erik grinned up at him, feeling playful and not in the slightest bit worried about their positions, unlike that first time, nervously looking around for people watching.  The park seemed to have emptied now though, at least their part of it, the sun glowing red and pink over London as it came close to dipping behind the horizon.

“And er, what do you think you’re doing up there?” he asked, faking innocence in a way only Charles was so expert at doing.

“Enjoying the view.” Charles replied quite seriously, eyes locked to Erik’s, lips parting and slowly slipping his tongue into Erik’s mouth, smooth and hot and slow.  With no pause for thoughts Erik ran his hands up Charles’ sides before wrapping them around his chest, holding him tightly close, budding erection recognising this scene all too well, but now in such a different light.

They weren’t strangers, Erik wasn’t lonely, Charles wasn’t a rent boy, there was no niggling worries of what on earth he was doing here, a cute devilish young man wriggling around on his lap and doing obscene things to his tongue.  Charles was still wriggling, still doing devilishly obscene things to his tongue, but this time Erik was doing them right back, wanting nothing more than for time to just slow so they could do this for hours.

As they parted, Charles taking as long as possible for his lips to part from Erik’s, pushing back gently again and again for small delicious kisses, he finally leant back and looked upon Erik with much darker, mischievous eyes.

“I believe you broke a rule of mine yesterday morning, Erik.”

He said the name with a deeper lustier tone, accompanied by a slow thrusting forward into Erik’s lap, and letting out a quick breath at the gorgeous heat Erik played along and replied;

“Oh really? And what was that?”

“Love bites.” Charles replied, “No one’s allowed to make a mark on me, you’ve been a very bad customer my friend, you weren’t listening to the rules were you?”

Erik was finding it very hard to hide his grin, “Oh I’m sorry, I thought you were all mine.”

“Tsk tsk now Erik,” Charles wagged one finger at him, that mischievous sparkle never leaving his eyes, “I think you’re going to have to be punished for that.  I think perhaps…breaking another rule, but this time…on you.”

He leant forward, turning his head to trace his lips up Erik’s jaw, Erik taking in a slow breath at the contact before he felt those lips press against his ear. Charles whispered, low and seductive, words like threads of silk pooling into Erik’s mind.

It made him shiver.

When he pulled back again, breathing slow and waiting for a response, all Erik could think of was;

“I don’t own any handcuffs.”

A slow grin spread over Charles’s darkened features, “I’m sure I can improvise.”

The lusty images that were gathering between them on exactly what Charles was going to use to tie Erik up with when they got back home were kind of ruined, when Erik’s mobile decided to start ringing, and almost rolling his eyes Charles chuckled lightly and got up off of Erik’s lap. 

Erik resisted the urge to throw his phone over the edge of the hill, “I guess that’s a hint to go home quickly then.” He said, determined not to lose the moment.

Charles had no idea how much the bondage scenario had turned Erik on like he’d never felt before, and he was going to get this phone call over and done with as soon as possible.

The wind was picking up now the evening was starting, and as he did his usual “What?” into the phone a sharp breeze suddenly whipped around them, and Erik immediately faced away from the wind, shouting down the phone for Hank to speak up and walking a short ways to the trees for some shelter, leaving Charles by the bench picking up the books, chess set and bags left over from their picnic, eager to get home. He looked up at Erik as he quickly packed their things, watching him talking down the phone while his hair ruffled in the wind, and suddenly…

… suddenly Charles’ eyes widened ever so slightly. A faint flicker of a memory was bubbling gently to the surface. A cold winters day, a park, this park, a man on his mobile phone walking past, hand on his fedora hat to keep the strong freezing wind blowing it away…

Charles stared at Erik. Stared, stared, and then slowly, very slowly, the tiniest tug pulled at the corner of his lips…

“Excuse me?”

Charles blinked and immediately turned, the voice making him jump. A middle-aged balding gentleman in a pale overcoat was standing a little way behind him, leaning in so his voice didn’t have to be so loud, despite the sudden wind.

“Y-you might not remember me,” the man smiled awkwardly, a very well spoken voice, “But we…that is to say we…I was a customer of yours once, and I was wondering if you were, um, available…again…”

The memory of the man suddenly clicked, and Charles’ eyes softened. He picked up the chess set by the handle of its outer case before facing the man, subconsciously standing taller and confident, and replying very polity.

“I’m ever so sorry, I’m not in that profession anymore. You’ll have to find someone else.”

Giving him a parting small smile, Charles made a firm notion of turning away, walking pointedly towards Erik who was still talking to Hank, and who turned to Charles with a smile as he stepped beside him.

All Erik did was then glance inquisitively at the man standing by their bench, but whatever his expression was the man almost jumped in his own skin, tripping over his feet as he turned and quickly stumbled away out of sight.

Charles stared at him with amused raised eyebrows as the man ran out of sight, and Erik just shrugged his shoulders far too innocently, “What?” he mimed, grinning all the same, Charles shaking his head and laughing and giving Erik the chessboard to hold while he carried everything else, just as Erik finished his phone call.

“Is everything alright?” Charles asked, linking his arm with Erik as Erik placed the phone back in his pocket, the two of them beginning their walk back home, following the longer path around the edge of the park rather than cutting through the middle. There was no rush, there was no rush for anything anymore.

“Fine, Hank just wondered if I knew why you didn’t turn up for your appointment the other day.  Now how to explain that….” He turned to Charles with a knowing smile, keeping their linked arms close together.

“Ha, yes, I’ll have to apologise about that.” Charles said sheepishly, “Rather hard to tell him exactly why I wasn’t there though, I think I’d rather make something up.”

Charles looked to Erik with a smile, but Erik was looking down to Charles’ hand, the one linked around his arm.  It was trembling, just a little bit. 

He stopped walking.

“Charles,” Erik said in a rather warning voice, “Have you taken your pills today?”

Charles most definitely looked sheepish now, “Um, well, no, they weren’t in the bag Moira brought over, so……I didn’t want to cause a fuss…”

Charles very much shrank under Erik’s glare, and before he could say anything else Erik linked their arms again and walked with a much more purposeful quicker step towards the exit, dragging Charles with him, “We’re going to Hank right now to get that prescription, no excuses, I’m coming with you.”

“O-oh, but,” Charles stuttered as he caught up with Erik’s stride, “I wanted to tie you up!”

“Charles, please, priorities.”

“You’re my priority.”

“We can do that when we get back.”

“But I want to do you now!”

Erik almost tripped at Charles’ words but managed to hold on to him even tighter, outwardly determined and focused on getting to Hank, ignoring the playfully pleading smirking Charles beside him, while inwardly he was laughing at the ridiculous demanding man, excited and wanting to get home as much as Charles because this was a night he wanted to last all night.

“You’re impossible.” He peered at Charles, trying and failing to hide his smile.

Charles just grinned, letting himself be pulled along. “I know,” he said, knowing already how to work Erik all too well, “and that’s exactly why you love me.”

And it was.  Charles was impossible, damaged, that conundrum, only just beginning to heal and only just learning how to be in love.

He was perfect.

Erik wouldn’t change a single thing about him.


It was this carefree, comfortable banter that made Charles’ once dark world, and Erik’s once lonely one, feel like they had taken place in another life, far from the perfection they had become.

And perfection is exactly what it was, especially when weeks later Charles passed his therapy tests and was allowed to stay in the country, right here, near the park, the place where he had found his life waiting for him in the form of Erik Lehnsherr. 

Perfection it became even further with his years of studying, passing all exams and readying himself for university, application sent to Oxford.  Raven was so proud, jumping around the maisonette on a visiting day, Hank trying to calm her down.  It had been very sweet of Hank to offer taking care of Raven when she visited their home, and the way she had blushed when they first met, it was obvious that Charles’ bright blue eyes had now been replaced by Hank’s, even the young doctor himself seemed rather taken with the excited girl, one who needed care, but needed love just like everyone else.

The day Charles had received his acceptance letter to Oxford was the greatest day of his life, but not just because of the letter, because of what Erik did.  He’d admitted to Charles that he’d been waiting for this day, so he could ask Charles a question. A question he hadn’t wanted to ask beforehand because he didn’t want to distract him from all the hard work Charles had been putting into his studying, into his life, but now, with an awkward blush, Erik had said he didn’t want Charles to be sent off to university with people thinking he was up for grabs, and when he produced the ring from his pocket, asking Charles if he would stay with him for the rest of their lives, to marry him after Charles had got his degree, Charles had jumped on him and kissed him till neither of them could breath, and had whispered;

“I’ve known the answer to that question since the day we met.”

So perfect it was when Charles finally became the professor he’d always wanted to be, so perfect it was being known as Uncle Erik and Uncle Charles to the girl Moira gave birth too, that it didn’t matter that on the day they married Charles was so nervous and excited it triggered a severe tremor attack, spreading to his legs where he collapsed just short of walking into the park, where their out-door ceremony was going to take place.

It didn’t matter, because Erik just picked him up, carrying him to their places, Charles sheepishly embarrassed but not worried, not at all, because the smile on Erik’s face hadn’t altered, the love he’d promised he’d always give him no matter what happened with his tremors was still there, and it always would be.

It wasn’t a permanent condition, his legs would walk again, but just like his sister a wheelchair was now always nearby, just in case, and on the occasional time it would strike while teaching at his brand new school, Professor and Head Master all in one, the students would always volunteer to help him into the chair, to get him where he needed, for Professor Charles Xavier was the most adored teacher the run-down estate had ever had.

On those days at home Erik would carry him everywhere, much rather to hold him then to place him in the chair, because it just gave him an excuse to be close to him. Charles would always tease him about that, that one day Erik’s back would give out, especially as Charles had often looked at himself in the mirror and told Erik that due to all of his large meals over the years, force feeding the thin Charles, that it had all caught up with him now and he really had become rather chubby.  Erik would heartily disagree. Charles was healthy now, that’s all, and he’d still carry him for as long as he could.

It was funny though, that out of all the pills, massaging and counselling on how to deal with his condition, Charles had found one very simple cure.  And it was a cure, he knew the doctors said there was no cure for Essential Tremor, but there was one, Charles had found it.  Whenever his hand would tremble all that had to happen would be for Erik to clasp his hand with his own, to hold it securely and lovingly, and the trembling would slow and stop. More often than not a small lingering kiss would be placed on the back of his hand, or his legs, to show that Erik loved his trembling limbs just as much as the rest of him.

Erik was his cure.

Erik calmed the stress, calmed the panic, calmed every emotional connection that triggered his life-suffering tremors.  The tremors could try as hard as they bloody well liked, nothing was ruining the perfection of the life he and Erik shared together.

And then, the final perfection, when many many decades later, Moira’s grown grand-daughter would walk up to a certain bench in the park, a bench that had been mended and re-sprayed many times in it’s now old life, but still held on strong to its position looking out over the busy English capital.

She’d lean down, watching as a man from the Council sealed a small gold-plated plaque to the bench, the sunlight making the polished surface shine brightly.  The man would leave, and she would look over the plaque, making sure it was fastened securely and then step back, looking at the imprinted words with a fond and warming smile, loving memories connected to the two names glistening in the summer sunlight.

‘For Charles and Erik, who lived, loved, and met at the park.’

The End.