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Sinner Like Me

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He can’t remember how it came to this. One thing he knows for sure – one of the few undeniable truth he can still hold on to, these days – is that Erik is everything to him and he loves him more than he was ever able to love someone. Another slightly less reassuring and much more terrifying thing is that, when he wakes up every morning by his side, he’s not sure he feels the same warmness he felt years ago, and it’s a thought he just can’t bear. He is not some young man that lives dreaming with his eyes open anymore – he’s been there, he remembers their earlier, innocent years with a smile and fond memories, but he is a grown man now. Not a disillusioned one – he still has hope for the most little things – but he’s well aware that the passion of the youth cannot last forever, and that love eventually grows, leaves his roots, becomes something more steady, more powerful, a habit you cannot live without – but a habit nevertheless. And yet it’s not that, and he knows it. They – he and Erik – haven’t lost their passion, nor has their love become a dimmer, weaker light guiding their paths. No. He loves him, no less than he loved him the first moment their affection awakened, and he knows for sure that Erik loves him the way he loved him the first time, so many years ago, but there is something else. There is always something else, when it comes to this – there has to be, right? It can’t just be easy like that, it can’t just fade away, like it never really existed, like it was never as important as they thought it was. No. No. It’s more complicated than that, but he just can’t figure it out – he has no idea what happened or, god help him, how it happened. How it came to this – to Logan.

***

Logan’s lips press on Charles’, his hands rest on the other’s waist. It feels good, actually, for both of them, but it is not a pleasure Charles is proud of. He keeps his eyes open because he doesn’t want to sink and get lost – no, he mustn’t. This is wrong, he knows – he knows. Yet it’s good, so good he can’t find the energy to let go – and so he doesn’t. He shuts his eyes and raises a trembling hand, tightens his fingers around Logan’s shoulder. He won’t get lost. It’s just a kiss – god, a good kiss – and nobody will have to know this. He won’t sink. It’ all right, except it’s really not.

***

The first time he and Logan met almost went unnoticed to both, or this is what Charles often likes to tell himself, to feel reassured about the fact that there was no immediate passion, no real affection between them from the start, that everything that happened next was just a casual, unimportant mistake. 

The first time they met, it was a couple of months ago. Charles finally managed to convince Erik to throw a party for both humans and mutants at their mansion – one of the most fancy and luxurious buildings in all Genosha, as expected from the residence of the city’s founders. Through the years, it had become some sort of tradition to let their home host events like that. Everyone was invited, there was music, there was food, there was expensive champagne and just the most different kind of people, dressed in elegant suits or casual clothes – no one really cared, after all. Except for Erik – he did. Not for the clothes or the food or the wine, but for the company; it was not a secret for Charles: Erik didn’t like humans, and most of the times he didn’t enjoy being trapped in a crowd of loud, festive people. He was always there for him, though, sliding an arm around his when he saw him standing in a corner, his expression static from nervousness and his back rigid. He always smiled at him and told him to relax and enjoy the good time, and Erik usually muttered something in a low voice, looked at him and found the peace he was looking for.

The night he met Logan it was the same, except lately it had become more and more difficult to convince Erik to take part to anything even remotely mundane. Charles didn’t know why, but he guessed that it was part of the reason why things had started to feel different between them. Erik was not himself – rather, he was starting to look like the himself he ended up despising so much, the man he once was and that he was no more. He never talked much, but Charles always knew what his words were. Now, however, he felt only silence, cold, predatory and bitter silent, like an open wound he was so desperately trying to hide. “Let me know what it is that’s troubling you”, he asked Erik one day, looking considerably concerned, but the other just said, “There’s nothing troubling me, love, and there’s nothing for you to see.” Charles believed that those words had been said with good intentions, nevertheless he couldn’t help but think that they told absolutely no lie: there was nothing for him to see. That silence: he knew it, he had heard it, years ago. The sound of rage and hatred.

The party happened, after all, and the mansion was full of people, laughter and good music. Charles liked it, he felt grateful for it, even a bit relieved to have someone to cheer him up in a house that was becoming more and more wide, more and more voiceless, that was starting to make him feel lonely. He smiled and talked to almost anyone, drank a lot, ate every possible course of food and couldn’t stay put for more than a minute. Erik wasn’t there with him – probably talking to someone, or probably not, he would look for him later – when he heard Raven’s voice calling him from the crowd. He turned around – his head spinning a little – and her sister was there, waving a hand and smiling. They hugged and kissed on the cheek, held hands and talked for what could be a minute or an hour – Charles honestly couldn’t tell, but nor he cared, cause having the chance to talk to her sister was just what he needed at that moment. At one point Raven said, “Brother, there’s someone I want you to meet.” It was unexpected but Charles didn’t worry at all: she was smiling, after all, and he liked getting to know new people. Then Raven turned around, called for someone, and there was Logan. The man was tall, probably taller than Erik, and had a very curios hair cut. He totally looked like the suit he was wearing was not his territory at all – speaking of which, he had a very territorial look on him, the eyes of a wolf and the pretentious confidence of a predator. For a moment he reminded him of Erik, but he immediately realized the analogy wasn’t quite right. The man – Logan – lacked of the elegant, lethal composure that was so typical of his husband. They were like the opposite face of a same, primordial instinct.

Raven introduced them, they shook hands – Logan’s grip was strong and firm, as expected –, Charles smiled politely and said something witty and unimportant. Logan didn’t talk much, and despite the grin on his face he looked like he wanted to be anywhere but there. Raven said he was a friend but she gave no specific about how they met or who, in fact, this Logan was. Not that it was important. Raven always met people and brought them to their parties, and as much as Charles could be fascinated by this mysterious, captivating man – or creature, Charles found himself thinking at one point – he had other thoughts filling his mind, more urgent and grave.

Erik, of course, was top of the list. He found an excuse to walk away from Logan and his sister and went to look for his husband. He found him talking – or, rather, passively listening – to a man he had never seen before – a mutant. He didn’t want to interrupt, even though, when he silently smiled at Erik, he knew the look he got in return was one of a man who’s begging for someone to make him disappear.

***

Erik is usually silent and discrete when they make love, Logan is not. Not that they’re actually making love – it’s just a kiss just a goddamn kiss it’s nothing – but Charles can’t help the comparison, and he immediately regrets thinking about Erik while kissing another man. Logan opens his mouth on his and lets out a low groan, then goes back to kissing him like he wants to devour him. Charles doesn’t want to stop, but he starts to feel tears pushing behind his eyelids. He’s not entirely sure they’re from the sense of guilt, though, and when Logan puts both his hands on his face and forces him to incline in head so that he can kiss his neck, it does not seem that important anymore.

***

Life went on, after that party, and apparently it went on without Logan. Raven came back to their house several times, but never made mention of the man again, nor did Charles bother to ask about him. Erik was on his mind, constantly, even when he shouldn’t have been. Charles struggled to keep his worries to a tolerable level, but Erik wasn’t helping it. At first it was not easy to notice because he didn’t act any differently than how he had always done, both with Charles and around other people, but there was things, small things, tiny details, that Erik could not hide from him and that were starting to drive Charles crazy. The way his lips compressed when he was brought face to face with a human, the stiffness in his fingers when he caressed him and told him that there was nothing wrong, the fragile tremble in his smile, the little silly things he got mad for.

Charles wanted to talk about it with Raven, but before that he would have to fully immerge in the problem, to analyze his feelings and Erik’s probable reasons, and he was not ready to do that. He would have to connect with the core of his concern, with the core of Erik’s, and it was too much. He wanted to be happy – he just wanted their happiness back, like the good old days, like when hope and joy were their only purpose.

Then Logan came back into the equation. Raven was not there this time, but their second meeting didn’t leave a much more profound mark than the first one. They met casually in the huge park around the mansion. Logan was wearing jeans and a leather jacket rather than a fancy outfit, and Charles thought that they suited him better.

“Hey”, Logan said. He was smoking a cigar.

“Hello”, Charles smiled, faking a little surprise. “I was not expecting to meet you again.”

Logan didn’t say anything about that. He took a long drag from the cigar and then, “Victor is a friend of mine, thought I’d come to say hello. Hope it doesn’t upset you or Lehnsherr.”

Victor was one of Erik’s men, meaning he hanged out at the mansion more often that he stayed at his own house, probably. Charles didn’t care, though. There was plenty of space, and when Erik was talking business with the others, he could just lock himself in the library and lose track of time on his books.

“I’m sure it won’t. Do you know him from the army?”, he asked, giving a look at the dog tag that hanged on his chest.

“Sort of.”

“Do you want to come in?”, Charles offered.

“I’ll wait here.”

Logan, Charles noticed, was not grinning as he did at the party. “That’s fine”, he said, “I’ll tell Creed you were here.”

“Bub”, Logan interrupted, his voice lowering in what sounded like a growl. “I said it doesn’t matter, you don’t have to tell anything to anyone.”

Charles’ lips parted, but he almost immediately realized he had no words to respond with. He felt the sudden urge to access his mind and steal some of his thoughts – nothing deep, just scratching the most superficial ones – but, in the end, he didn’t. He put up a smile and said, “As you wish. It was good to see you again, Logan. I’ll just head back to the mansion now, goodbye”, and heard no reply when he turned around and started walking.

The third time they met was the day the kissed.

***

The days passed and nothing changed. The only times Erik would agree to meet humans was during Charles’ events, and even then he never really met anyone, he just stayed out of the crowd, only talked when questioned, only drank half a glass of wine when offered and barely touched any food. When there was no party at the mansion he just immersed completely in his work. He and Charles didn’t even talk about politics anymore. They didn’t talk about anything, actually, besides casual compliments on the evening’s meal and other unimportant things. Charles was so frustrated and mortified by his husband’s lack of motivation or warmness that many times he found himself ready to cry – but only when he was alone and safe in his room or in the library. Otherwise, he’d just put up a smile and acted like everything was fine – like Erik was fine, like he was fine, which he obviously wasn’t. The only times all his worries and concerns were wiped away were when Erik made love to him, late at night or in the early morning. Sex was all right, there was nothing strange or distant about it, it was just like they were finally Erik and Charles again. Sometimes he’d let a tear stream down his cheek while feeling Erik inside him, and Erik would worry and ask him if he was hurting him, but he would just shake his head and give him a little smile and tell him he was just happy and that was all. After their love was consumed they slept and the hours passed, and Charles realized that, in the end, it all went back to being messed up and depressing.

So, in the end, Charles felt like throwing a party once a week just to distract himself from it all. Erik didn’t seem to care anymore, he let him do whatever he wanted and invite whoever he desired, but Charles knew that that behavior didn’t come from generosity or love – rather, it was Erik’s way let him know that he didn’t care and that he couldn’t bother to confront him on the matter. It hurt. Sometimes Charles felt like a spoiled child, but most times he just felt a bitter anger consume his chest. In the end, he decided to play Erik’s game – to not mind, to just do what he wanted without caring of the other’s opinion. He organized the event, he invited people, he hired a huge orchestra and ordered tons of food. It was going to be the most bloody magnificent party anyone had ever been to.

Logan was there. Charles had almost forgot about him – probably he wouldn’t have if the situation between him and Erik had been different – but was not surprised when he saw him standing in the crowd, a glass of wine awkwardly hold in his grasp, confused eyes that wandered through the room and the same elegant suit he wore the first time they met. Charles approached him without a second thought and, when he laid a hand on his arm, Logan almost jumped. Charles tried to hold a laugh, Logan looked grumpy.

“Hello again”, said Charles.

“Man, I miss my cigar and my shitty apartment.”

“You know, no one’s forcing you”, he said, without malice. “Or are they? Is Raven asking you to come? Is she bothering you?”

“Who?”

“Raven”, Charles raised an eyebrow. “My sister. She introduced us, I thought you were friends.”

“Oh, yeah. Lovely kid”, Logan stared for a moment, then, “You take it, bub. It ain’t for me”, and handed him his glass.

“You don’t like it? I can ask for something else”, he took the glass from his hands.

“No, thanks”, he looked away as he was looking for someone. Charles followed his gaze but couldn’t catch the potential object of his floating attention. “Anyway”, Logan continued, turning back to look at him, “got problems with Lehnsherr?”

Charles blinked. “Beg your pardon?”, he asked before he realized it, squeezing inadvertently his fingers around the glass.

“Victor said you’re always together, like you never came out of your honeymoon. Doesn’t seem much like that to me”, Logan shrugged casually.

A pause, then, “Are you stalking us?”

“I was just bored. You haven’t talked to each other all night.”

“I kind of noticed that, thank you”, he said. He realized his smiled was gone but he didn’t care much.

“Problems, then.”

“Is that a question?”

“Dunno. Depends on the answer, but I’m pretty sure I’m right.”

“Well, then. The answer’s not any of your business, Mister – what’s the name again?”

Logan raised an eyebrow. Charles saw a hint of something deep, something feral in his eyes, and for a moment he was scared. For a moment he felt like everyone around them disappeared. He felt like the man was ready to jump on him and slice his throat with his teeth. For a moment Logan was a beast, and he was a helpless lamb waiting to be ripped apart and devoured.

A moment later, though, everything was back to normal, and Logan was laughing.

“You have guts, Xavier, I’ll admit that. I might even like you.”

“How lucky I am”, he said without a smile.

“You bet. Wanna get away from here?”

“To where?”, he asked. Surprisingly – but not so much, everything given – the answer in his head was just an honest, natural yes.

“Wherever you want”, Logan shrugged, “show me around the house. I fucking hate parties.”

***

He would be lying saying that he has never been kissed this way before – brutal and furious, a tongue almost down his throat, teeth clenching, hands all over his face and hair, a man’s waist pressed over his own, whole body on fire. Between Erik and him, Charles is most certainly not the cautious one in bed. He’s the one who makes all the noises, the one who begs shamelessly for more, the one who wants to get rough – but this, god, this is good. He loves it and he hates it. And he can’t stop thinking that this is – good god – this is just a bloody kiss and god help him if they get carried away.

He’s pretty sure Logan made the first move, but by now he does not really care anymore. His back hits a wall, or more probably one of the library cases. He lets out a moan and clearly Logan appreciates it, since he groans back and bites his lips, rocking his hips against him, forcing a knee between his thighs.

How long have they been kissing like their lives depend on it?

Charles arches his back and pushes Logan away – or at least he tries. Instead of freeing himself, he feels the man’s lips curving on his own in what he believes is an amused grin, and then Logan’s hands twitch, grasping both his wrists and pinning them against the books with a slam. “Ngh –“, Charles closes his teeth on Logan’s smile, breaking the kiss with an aching sound. “Fuck, that hurt, will you slow down?”

“’kay”, Logan smiles at him, and Charles can’t help staring at his tongue sliding out, licking the red mark he left on his lips. “But I’m not letting go of your hands.”

“Actually, I was thinking this may not be the great idea I thought it was.”

“Were you, now?”, Logan mocks. “I have news for you, kid”, he pushes a knee between his legs and goddamnit it fucking hurts and it sends a shiver up his spine and it makes his head spin and it’s fucking lovely. “Your body is begging to be shagged.” Charles bites back a moan and lets his forehead fall on Logan’s shoulder.

Fuck.

“Should I?”

“No – ah – no, stop it –“

Logan tilts his head and grins. “Not very convincing.”

Charles bites his lips. “Please, Logan” – the man’s grin widens in delight – “don’t make me control your mind.”

And Logan suddenly stops. “Can you do that?”

“What – of course I can. I’m a telepath.”

“Since when?”

“Since forever. Everyone knows it.”

“Everyone thinks you are Lehnsherr’s little human toy, kid.”

Charles rolls his eyes. “That’s the official version. I’m a mutant, just like you and Erik, and I’m no one’s little toy.”

“Arguable.”

Charles decides to ignore him. Instead he continues, “We decided to keep my mutation secret so that people could feel safer knowing that Genosha was built by a human and a mutant, together. So they could even believe that love is possible, between our species. I don’t like hiding my true nature, and neither does Erik, but it’s for the best. I’m the bridge between Genosha and the rest of the world. By the way”, he pauses, “every mutant knows it.”

“I’m not ‘every mutant’, kid.”

“Stop calling me that.”

“It’s what you are. And this”, Logan’s lips curve in a dangerous smile, “you being a psychic, brings things on a whole new level.”

“What do you –“, words get lost and swallowed in a rough, dirty kiss, and Charles never gets the answer to a question he soon forgets.

“Logan –“, Charles starts to struggle, however, at one point. It’s not like he doesn’t like the idea of having someone constraining him – he begged Erik to tie him several times, during sex – but Logan is a total stranger, and as much as it’d be totally hypocritical to insist that he doesn’t like this at all, he also believe that there’s a time and a place for everything, and it’s definitely not now, not here. Logan stops for a moment from sucking his neck; Charles continues, “Let my hands go.”

“Only if you ask nicely.”

“This is not a joke.”

“I know”, Logan mumbles with a smile.

“I’m going to shut your mind if you don’t let me go. Right. Now.

Logan bares his teeth and stares at him with the glare of a wild beast. Charles can read his thoughts – so feral, so fiercely free of every effort of control – and what he sees is fear respect anger excitement. But Logan lets go, eventually, curving his lips in another arrogant grin. “Fucking mind tricks”, he mutters.

“Thanks”, Charles says in a low, grave murmur. Then poses his hands on Logan’s waist. “Did you like it?” He can tell, really – Logan is losing control. He’s hungry, and he doesn’t seem exactly the sort of man who would worry about restraining certain instincts. Charles might need more of his power to keep him at bay.

“You do this with Lehnsherr a lot?”, Logan licks his lips.

“Don’t say his name.”

“Feeling guilty, kid? A bit late for that.”

“Just don’t say his name and we’ll be fine.”

“Would you say it if I fucked you right now, on that desk? Would you think about him instead of me?”, the man leans and brushes his lips on Charles’ mouth.

Charles doesn’t find anything funny about this. He doesn’t move, he doesn’t return the kiss. “I don’t think you are fucking anyone in the near future.”

“Thought so”, Logan doesn’t seem to care. “It’s a pity.”

“Not really.”

“Can I still kiss you?”

Charles pulls him back and kisses him – anything to avoid further, meaningless chatter. Anything to close his eyes, open his mouth and pretend that nothing’s happening, that the darkness before his eyes is the only reality he has to believe in, that he’s not gone too far yet, that he can still come back, make this stop, apologize. Be forgiven.

He’s so angry. Why – god, why can’t he just stop? What’s this all about? Is this about him? Is this about Erik? He doesn’t know who he’s trying to punish, anymore, but burning lips are sucking his tongue, strong hands are touching his body and – what can he do? Must he stop, if he likes it so? Is it wrong? Is it right to feel bad? Whose mistake is this? His? Erik’s? God make this stop make me disappear Erik oh god ohgod

 

“Charles?”

Everything stops.

A click, a light crawling in the darkness of the room from the corridor, an opened door. A voice. His voice.

Everything stops, and then everything falls apart.

He pushes Logan away and hears him complaining while he stumbles on the carpet – he doesn’t care. His eyes drift at the door and – oh god – he is there, he’s looking, he’s seen, he’s –

“Charles?”, Erik asks again. He sounded worried, before, but now his voice is just flat, nothing’s in it, not anger nor jealousy. Just silence. A void, distant, cold silence.

“Erik – I – this is –“

Logan finds his balance again. “Lehnsherr.”

“Shut your mouth, animal, or I’ll kill you without a hint of remorse.”

Charles knows what’s happening the moment he sees the nervous tilting in Erik’s fingers. He tries to yelp but his voice is stuck in his throat, and the next thing he sees is Erik raising his arm and Logan flying across the room and slamming against a wall with an aching growl.

“Erik –“, Charles tries, but –

“You stay silent as well, Charles.”

“I won’t.”

Erik turns and stares. Charles is not scared. He raises his chin and grits his teeth. He’s not scared – he’ll never be scared of his husband. “Let him go.”

“Are you kidding?”, Erik snarls, his voice sharp and lethal. He closes his fingers in a tight fist, twisting his hands without stopping looking at Charles – nor does Charles look any other way. He hears, though – furious growls as Logan is raised from the floor where he was lying and kept levitating in midair, forced to spread his arms like a beast that’s ready to be crucified.

“God – Erik, please, this is about you and me. Don’t –“

“Kill him?”, Erik asks, calm and immovable. “Hurt him? You still believe I’m a monster, after all.”

“I don’t, I never believed that and you know.”

“Do you think that if I let him go, he won’t try to kill me?”

A pause.

“Maybe. But I have control over his mind”, god, he’s not even sure it’s true. “I can stop him.”

“Ah, right”, Erik lets out a flat laugh. “You have great control over him, I saw that.”

“Erik, please, not here”, he’s begging.

“And where else, Charles? This is my home. This”, he steps forward, and Charles can see a grimace of pure ferocity disfigure his face, “has happened in my home. You – and this animal. Did you think I wouldn’t notice that you were gone? I thought I would find you here. But not like this. Hell, not like this.”

Charles is not sure if it’s his anger speaking, or just utter, heavy disappointment, but Erik’s voice is – god – is it cracking? Charles wants to cry. It’s all his fault, damn, he’s done it all wrong. He brought back a part of Erik that they both fought so hard to suppress. He’s – a disappointment, exactly. “Erik, I’m sorry”, he shakes his head – what else can he do?

Erik doesn’t listen, doesn’t look at him – his eyes are on Logan. “Howlett.”

“Lehnsherr”, the man growls, showing his teeth.

“I should kill you right now.”

“Erik –“

“Yeah, why don’t you try that, bub?”

Erik tightens his fist and Logan lets out an obscene scream of agony.

“Erik, please, please”, Charles begs, and Erik turns his way.

“Were you going to fuck him?”

“No –“

“Go on”, Erik snaps, his breath fastening and coming out of his mouth as the pant of a rabid beast. “He’s all yours, open and vulnerable. Don’t you want to touch him? Don’t you want to make those noises again?”

Charles shakes his head. His voice is gone, his breath is no more.

Erik doesn’t seem to care.

“Fuck him, Charles”, he growls. “Are you shy, now? I can strip him for you without lifting a finger, if you want. Do you want him naked?”

“Erik – stop.”

“Do you want to fuck this man?”

“I don’t.”

“Do you want him to fuck you?”

“No”, he’s on the verge of tears.

Erik pauses. Silence falls, interrupted only by the angry and agonizing sounds Logan’s making behind them. In the end, Erik lets go – he lowers his arm and loosens the grip, and Logan falls on the ground without a word, his body heavily crashing on the floor.

“God –“

“He’s not dead”, Erik says, and then, looking at Charles, “Don’t you dare getting near him. I’ll have my men take him out of this house. You’d better get back downstairs, the people you invited are beginning to wonder where you are”, his voice, distant again, is void an apathetic. When Erik turns his back on him and gets out without a sound, Charles fights with all he has to bring his own voice out, call him, reach him and talk to him – to say sorry, to explain, to ask for forgiveness, to beg him to not let himself get caught by his demons because of him.

He doesn’t. He falls to the floor the moment Erik’s steps turn to silence, and he doesn’t spare a look for Logan – not even when, seconds later, he manages to get on his feet again and drags himself downstairs, with the most unbearable pain in his chest and a distant smile to curve his aching lips.

***

The party seems to last forever. People never leave, the music never stops, his glass of wine is never empty and Erik is nowhere to be found. Eventually, however, the mansion turns dark and silent again, and Charles can finally deal with what he’s done.

He knows Erik’s in their room, he feels him, he can sense his mind, even though he doesn’t dare reaching it. At the end of the evening he’s exhausted. He considers sleeping on a couch in his study, but he quickly puts the thought aside: he wants – needs – to confront Erik.

He feels a little dizziness caused by all the alcohol he drank before and after Logan, and maybe – he thinks – it is better to meet Erik while being slightly drunk, so it will be less scary and more honest and – god, he’s just so selfish for thinking something like that. He silently laughs at himself while climbing the stairs. He fucked up and that’s it, he deserves to feel like shit, he deserves to tremble in fear for not being sure if Erik will still want him or not. The way to their room is eternal, but he doesn’t attempt to convey a single thought – he would instantly burst into tears and be devoured by his own guilt. He disconnects from his own mind – blank, void, he doesn’t let himself feel or see anything, not until that door will open, not until Erik will look at him, not until his voice will drag every drop of despair and regret and shame out of him.

He knocks, realizing he’s never done that before. No answer comes from inside the room.

“Erik?”, he calls, with a voice so small and reluctant he is not even sure if he heard it himself. No answer again. “I’m – coming in. Let me know if you don’t want me to.” Nothing. He pushes the door and gets in –

– Erik is staring at him.

He stands beside the bed, static and silent as a beautifully carved statue. Charles can read no emotions on his face or in his eyes and, again, he doesn’t want to connect with his mind – it wouldn’t be fair. He has to figure it all out by himself, he owes him that.

He swallows. He’s scared. Not of Erik – never – but of himself, of what he’s done, of what terrible consequences he brought upon himself. “Erik”, his voice trembles; he feels tears in his eyes.

“Close the door, please.”

Charles nods and obeys, before taking a few cautious steps into the room.

“I can’t believe you did that”, he hears Erik say, and he has to tighten his lips and choke back a sob to not let tears stream down his face.

“I’m so sorry”, he whispers, somehow managing to keep his voice stable.

“Are you?”

“I – don’t know what happened. Please, believe me. I was not myself.” The most terrifying thought, however, crosses his mind leaving a throbbing trail below his temple: has he not been himself at all?

“Did he force you?”

Did he? Would it be wise to lie, at a moment like this?

Charles parts his lips, pauses, then, “… No.” He hears the uncomfortable sound of Erik nervously swallowing.

“Is there a good reason for what happened, Charles?”, the tiniest trace of disillusioned hope in Erik’s voice. Charles shakes his head, weakly, and he sees Erik losing a breath. Then, his voice again, broken, “You’re my husband.”

“I know. I know, Erik, I know, it was a mistake, I – didn’t know – what you –“, Erik shakes his head and looks away. Charles decides this is the right moment to take another couple of steps towards him – and he’s at the other side of the bed now, staring at him, begging him with his eyes alone. “I tried to get close to you, I tried – god knows I did, I asked you so many times, but you just wouldn’t listen to me, you always said that you were alright when clearly you were not. I love you, Erik”, he sees him clenching his finger in a tight, white fist, and his lips clutch in a grimace of pain and anger – he doesn’t stop, though. “I love you – you know I do. But I don’t know where you are anymore, darling, I don’t know if you still see me, if you still care, if – you still want – me.”

There’s silence. Long, unbearable, torturing silence, a pain he’ll silently endure.

In the end, Erik raises his head and speaks, “How in the world did you think that fucking another man would solve things between us?”

“I – didn’t think it would solve anything. It just happened” – Erik lets out a sharp, angry laughter – “I was upset. I couldn’t reach you, not even with my power, Erik – you were so distant I had no idea what was going on in your head. It scared me. It scared the hell out of me. You’re my husband and I don’t know what’s happening to you.”

“Don’t blame it on me”, Erik snaps, low and bitter.

“I’m not”, there’s no hesitation in Charles’ voice. “I fucked up. I’m sorry.”

“Why didn’t you tell me all of this before deciding to look for an alternative solution that didn’t include me?”, Erik’s voice sounds confused – Charles knows he’s angry and disappointed, he can feel it so clearly it almost makes his skin crawl – but the way he talks, the way he frowns in fluster, the way he looks at him as if expecting him to reveal it was all a big, shitty joke and that nothing of what he saw was actually true – it all makes Charles want to punch himself or vomit or cry.

“I –“, what’s he supposed to say, now? He shakes his head, as if trying to find the right words – the problem is, he’s not really sure what he wants to say. Logan was a good kiss, he was a distraction and nothing more – should he be this honest? “– don’t know. He got me unprepared, and my affliction did the rest, I guess.”

A long pause. Erik looks away and, when he turns his head back at Charles, he’s never stopped staring at him and hoping he would say something – anything. Anything but silence.

“Charles?”

“Yes?”

“Don’t ever do that again.”

Charles nods. “I’m so sorry.”

“Come here”, Erik stretches his arm, inviting him. Charles can’t help a reassured, shy smile and an energetic nod – then he hurries to Erik, takes his hands, lets his husband drag him close to him and takes the kiss he offers. It’s sweet – nothing like Logan – and it’s exactly the taste he loves. It’s Erik. “You’re mine and I am yours. You forgot it”, Erik says, breathing steadily on his mouth.

“I haven’t”, Charles looks for a kiss, but Erik withdraws his head, denying him the contact he craves.

“Strip”, he says, looking straight in his eyes.

“What?”, Charles breaths heavily – he’s not sure he –

“Take off your clothes. I want to make love to you.”

“Erik”, he calls him, cautiously grasping his hands on the fabric of his white shirt, right below the chest. “Are you sure?” Any other time he would have had no doubt giving in on Erik’s request, but this, right now – it just feels wrong. Erik doesn’t move, though.

“Are you sure? You don’t want to sleep with me?”, he asks.

“I just want to make sure you’re – we’re alright”, such stupid words, he hates himself for them. How can they be alright? How can he, for even a moment, believe that Erik really wants to fuck him out of love, tonight? He shuts his own mind. He doesn’t think anymore, doesn’t feel anymore – and it seems the only right decision to make, to find distance from this, to let Erik have what he wants without breaking him. He parts his lips and leans towards Erik’s mouth. “But you’re right, I am yours. If you want it, I want it”, he murmurs, hot and red on his lips.

Erik raises a hand and rests it on his face. “Take off your clothes, then”, there’s no passion in his voice.

But Charles has locked his own mind somewhere else – somewhere safe. He can’t see, he can’t let himself feel what Erik is trying to push on him – anger, shame, guilt. He just nods, and then his hands are working the buttons of his suit and shirt, letting them slide on the floor, and finally unbuckling the belt around his waist and releasing the zip of his pants.

“I want you naked too, love”, he whispers in Erik’s ear, and feels him shiver a little, deliciously.

“Don’t worry about me”, he says, pushing him with his back on the mattress and then leaning on him. They kiss, but Erik pulls away after just a moment. “Undo my belt”, he says, and Charles does. He doesn’t let his hands tremble nor his mind falter – rather he closes his eyes, arches his back and throws his head back against the bed, welcoming Erik’s mouth on his the neck with a silent moan. When he’s done unbuttoning him, Erik grabs his wrists, pinning them on the mattress. Charles opens his eyes again, his safe mind cage starting to fall apart slowly and inevitably when he sees his husband’s lips – parted, his breath slightly panting, his chest trembling under the shirt. His gaze full of anger, confusion and arousal.

“Erik”, he lifts a hand and rests it on the other’s cheek, softly caressing him. “I’m sorry I did this to you.”

“I know”, Erik hisses. “But I don’t know if I want to forgive you.”

Charles’ hand on his face freezes. Erik’s words get confused and blurry under the intolerable noise of his mind barrier shattering and collapsing, piece after piece, like a fortress under siege. His head is spinning and he feels like losing conscience – this is the exact moment his mind actually takes account of the possibility of Erik leaving him – of their love going to waste.

“I’ll – do whatever you want me to do, to make things right again.”

“Then kiss me”, and Erik is already on him, lips pressed on his mouth, elbows pressed on the mattress on both sides of his head , long fingers running through his hair. “Kiss me”, he repeats, starting to rock his whole body against Charles’ stomach and open thighs.

Erik is so silent and composed it makes it all the easier for Charles to let out soft moans and beg for more when he sucks on his chest or pushes his waist on his erection. It’s so sweet and familiar it reminds him of every other time they made love, and Charles manages to forget all the rest and just sinks in Erik’s arms, in the corrupt lust that’s consuming him. If this is the last time their bodies will be entwined and connected –if this is the last time they make love – he wants to at least enjoy this – god – false intimacy born from shame, regret and hatred.

He hears distant noises but doesn’t bother to open his eyes, he doesn’t need to. And when Erik pushes a lubricated finger inside him, he decides not to hold his voice or the desperate quiver that runs across his body. He calls his name and throws his arms around Erik’s shoulder, arching towards him, spreading out his legs and moaning to his ear, whispering that he is Erik’s and Erik’s alone and that he will never be anyone else’s.

Erik pushes and rocks his fingers back and forth without making a single sound. He stops moving, however, at one point, gaining a frustrated groan from Charles’ lips. “Lay down”, he says, his voice hoarse revealing a hint of arousal. “Lay down, don’t hold me”, he repeats.

Charles hesitates, and in the sudden silence and immobility he feels both their chest shaking in the desperate attempt to catch more air. In the end he lets go, falling back on the mattress and looking up at his husband.

“You can touch me”, he hears him say, “but stay down.”

Charles has no choice but nod silently, and Erik kisses him again, gently. He’d want to laugh and cry all the same – Erik is giving him kisses every time he does something he says, making him feel as if he was nothing more than a well-trained, compliant and docile dog. But it’s for the best – he thinks – bear the humiliation and he will go back to loving you, to knowing that you love him more than anything else. A little price for his mistakes, after all.

Erik starts moving his fingers again, and Charles hasn’t forgotten what he said – you can touch me. He’ll be the obedient lover Erik wants him to be – so he stretches an arm as far as he can, lifts a hesitant hand on Erik’s waist, lets it rest there for a moment, and then slides it inside his pants. When his fingers close around Erik’s half-erected cock, Charles can hear only the slightest sound come out of his mouth. “Move”, Erik mutters without watching him, and Charles starts moving as he leans on him to hold his body in his arm – Charles feels the sudden urge to return the embrace but he doesn’t dare, fearing he might disappoint the other again. He closes his eyes instead, and lifts his chin next to Erik’s ear.

“Erik”, he calls – he’s always loved that –, “get inside me – ah – please, come inside –“

Erik groans, pushing his forehead against his shoulder, fiercely, and shutting him up by forcing another finger in his entrance.

“Erik –“, he repeats, not sure if to beg him to stop or to give him more. “– Please –“

Erik pushes again, then opens his mouth, “Please what?”

Please stop

Please let me go

Please

Talk to me

“Come inside – Erik”, he cries. And maybe his thoughts were loud enough for Erik to hear them, maybe they were not thoughts at all – but Erik, suddenly, stops.

There’s nothing gentle about his gesture when he pulls out his fingers and steals a shocked, choking moan from Charles. He opens his eyes wide and feels Erik’s hands on his own, grabbing his wrists carelessly and dragging them out of his pant. “No”, he growls.

“What?”, Charles asks, startled, out of breath.

Erik shakes his head and stands up, forcing Charles to stand on his elbows to be able to look at him.

“What?”, he says again.

“Sorry, Charles”, Erik seems unable to look at him, wandering across the room in long, frantic strides. Then, at one point, he stops. And stares. “I don’t want to come in your hand or inside you, tonight. This was a mistake”, he says, then turns and hurries to the door. He stops when his fingers are already pushing on the handle. Charles is staring at his husband’s back, frozen, scared, but no word escapes his mouth. “I –“, Erik pauses – and maybe it is an illusion, a merciless projection of his already scattered and broken mind – or maybe it is not – but he’s sure, for a moment, that he sees Erik’s shoulders tremble, like he didn’t really want to go, like he was struggling against the instinct of letting go of the handle and going back to Charles – to forgive him – to let him know they can work it out, to –

“Good night”, he says, instead, before opening the door and letting it close behind his back with a thunderous sound.

Silence falls, and everything, suddenly feels like endless, freezing darkness.