Charles remembers reading a book once where the character described something known as the last good day. It was put in the context of cancer - the last good day is the last day you have before everything goes to shit and the person you’re caring for is on a feet first slide to the afterlife. Charles thinks that he also had a last good night - in the context of love, not cancer - the last night before everything went wrong and everything afterwards became a blur of drink and sadness and bad habits and Raven's disappointed face. If he could, he would turn off the memories, and he's tempted to find some of the liquor that Raven's not so great at hiding and drink himself into oblivion, but the memories are more tortuous and it's easier to stay and let himself fall into them.
Because he has been falling, been falling since day one. Things had gotten too tense, too hard to deal with, and he'd taken to running straight to Erik's apartment and avoiding his own altogether, avoiding Raven and her anger and disappointment and constant wondering why he tried so hard for a life that gave nothing back, unable to understand that without something to do - awful and impossible though it may have been - he had nothing left to live for, that the inevitable end had gotten all too tempting until he found a purpose and let it take over his life. Plus, he preferred Erik's apartment - theirs reminded him too much of the family home, with items spilling out everywhere and the hints of the luxury that they could never quite shed hidden in every corner. Erik's is more like their childhood home, understated and minimalist with the barest hint of personality. It's easier, less personal and feels less like it belongs to someone other than him and more like it can belong to anyone, himself included.
He's standing outside Erik's door when he realises that Erik's not inside and he hovers briefly on the threshold before making his decision - more risky to leave and come back later, more suspicious if he turns away having already walked up. He pretends to fumble with his keys to excuse his delay, then lets himself inside. It's not the first time he's entered the flat when Erik wasn’t there, but happens rarely, and every time it feels more taboo - sneaking into his forbidden lover's flat when the other hadn't even given him permission to enter? Kinky, he can hear Raven say, and then laugh, and he winces as he closes the door. He walks over to the table, dumps his bag on it and fishes his phone out, texts Erik to let him know he's there and meanders towards the shower. No reply before he gets in, and he showers the day's grime away before wandering back towards the sofa, intending to perhaps watch some TV and wait for Erik to return. He’s got a response from Erik now, a semi-dirty text that makes him reconsider, and he stands outside Erik's bedroom door, thinking.
Personally, he's always considered entering one's bedroom without permission to be the rudest act of all, and when they were younger Raven would do it often for the specific purpose of pissing him off (though given that she also broke into Emma's bedroom at least once that he knows of, perhaps it was more just a habit she had). But this is Erik's bedroom, Erik's bed that he's slept in hundreds of times, and his hand makes his mind up before his thoughts can catch up. He intends, maybe, to stretch out on the bed and prepare himself, catch Erik as he enters and surprise him. But as soon as his head hits the pillow he finds exhaustion catching up with him and he's out like a light.
He wakes a few hours later (2 hours and 37 minutes according to his phone) to the sound of someone entering, and he tenses for a moment before he hears Erik's rough voice call his name. He shucks his clothes and walks out of the half-closed door, trying to go for seductive and instead falling at a solid sleepy. It doesn't stop Erik crossing the room in three strides and catching him in his arms, pressing him against the wall and kissing him deeply. Charles falls into the kiss for a while, panting as Erik slides his hands behind his back and down, head falling to the side as lips chase pale skin. He lets himself be swept away and it’s only when Erik backs off for some air that he looks down and finds red smeared all over his bare chest from where it's come off of Erik's clothes. He doesn’t really need to but he asks anyway, "Blood?"
"Blood. Not mine. Mostly."
Looking closely, he can see the cuts and bruises on Erik's skin, new ones over old ones, and he knows that 'mostly' might be an overstatement but he's willing to let it slide. Instead he pushes Erik back a little and says "Well wash it off! Go, have a shower! I'm going back to bed."
Erik boxes him in, smiles wickedly and bends down, lips touching the shell of Charles' ear and mutters, "I'm not going anywhere unless you help me."
Charles is hardly a blushing virgin by this point, but he flushes anyway, and acquiesces, wanting Erik more than he wants to prove his point, whatever it might have once been. "Fine," he breathes, and Erik kisses him deeply again, before leaning backwards to peel off his jacket and shirt. Charles' instinct is to pull him close again, but the blood, whoever's it may be, has soaked through the fabric onto Erik’s chest, and distaste wins out over lust (just about). "Shower," he says, hand against Erik's chest, and a smile spreads across Erik's face that is 70% lust and 30% amusement. It's an expression only Erik can pull off, he's found, and it's one of his favourites, amongst those containing more lust in general. Erik leads the way, with Charles following afterwards, the former shedding clothes as he goes and the latter fighting the urge to pick them up and put them in the washing machine. It's a curious reversal of their usual roles, and Charles has to laugh at that. When Erik turns with a single raised eyebrow, he says "normally it's you cleaning up after me," and Erik’s face relaxes into an amused smile.
Once inside the bathroom, Charles realises that he left most of his clothes on the floor, albeit in a pile, which he supposes makes him a bit better than Erik. Erik, now entirely nude, bends over to start running a bath and once the water is running sits on the edge and pulls Charles onto his lap to debauch him thoroughly, which he's fairly certain is Erik's ploy to get him into the bath with him, not that it's needed. The bath fills up and Erik slips in, handing a rough cloth to Charles and instructing him to clean. The blood is only just drying on his skin, and it's fairly easy to slough off, although some remains caked in his nails and the roots of his hair that will need some dedicated attention the next morning when they both aren't mostly distracted.
It's a habit Erik has, of getting him riled up and then leaving him be, wholly wanting and half hard, attention partially diverted by something else but some part of his mind always on the anticipation, always waiting for the next droplet of attention. It's a game between them that he always loses, and today's no different - when Erik is clean, he pulls Charles in with him and cleans the transferred blood off his chest. At some point, Charles has the brief realisation that this is more than a little strange - he's fairly certain most people’s idea of foreplay don’t include cleaning dried blood off their lover's body, even less blood transferred from clothes to body during some initial making out - but then they are more than a little strange, and frankly who cares. Who cares what they're doing or how they're fucking or who they're loving if it doesn't hurt anyone, except perhaps Erik's water bill.
Even Erik has more sense than to attempt to make love in the bloody water, and they stand up and towel off as the bath drains, with Charles rolling his eyes at Erik’s lack of care and making a mental note to clean it the next morning. It feels somewhat domestic, the thought, and it's dangerous to think those sorts of things, so he files it away and lets himself be distracted, lets Erik's hands and lips tease his brain away from the melancholy it so often rests on. Erik's needy and wanting tonight, presses him against the inside of the bathroom door once they're dry and then when Charles gasps out "Bed!" he lets him go long enough to them to leave the room before he latches onto him again. It makes his breath catch and his toes curl, the way that Erik boxes him in and presses him against the closed door, the way their bodies slide together and the way that neither of them has or needs words for the want that plays against them, that laps against their skin like the sea. Instead they just let themselves feel it, feel the moans and gasps in each other’s chests and skin flushing hot and erections pressed against each other, Charles pressing down for more and Erik holding him back, not letting him take more than he’s given. At one point he slides his hands between Charles' back and the door and down to his ass and hitches him up and Charles wraps his legs around Erik's back, enjoying the new angle.
It would be easy to stay there, to let Erik slip into him there and then and sate this lush, needy lust, but instead he gasps "Bedroom” again and Erik lets him down, the memory of the last time he tried to carry him advising him to let Charles walk (he’s not as light as his birdlike frame implies, he's proud to say). Instead he lets Charles walk first, presses him against the sofa as they make their way through the living room and letting him sit up on the back, wrapping one hand in his hair and one against his back and supporting him while tilting his head back for better access to his neck. Charles gets one hand between them and gets a few good strokes off on Erik before he leans backwards and smiles, says "Dessert before the main course, eh?" and takes a step backwards.
He gestures at the floor and Charles takes the hint, slides off the sofa, changes places with Erik and slides to his knees, Erik now leaning back against the sofa. Bluntly put, he loves sucking cock, for a lot of reasons, but mostly the way that he can control Erik's reactions in such simple ways. Normally he'd take his time, but he really does want dessert, so he goes to town, enjoying the way Erik gasps and his breath hitches and the way that his hands tighten in Charles’ hair. What he really wants is to jack himself off at the same time, but he's used to only doing that when Erik says he can, so instead he keeps both hands and his mouth on Erik, eyes open to watch his reactions.
It doesn't take long for Erik to pull him back by the hair and snarl out "Bedroom" and as he gets up and follows Erik a series of thoughts briefly flash through Charles’ mind - Erik loves fucking him when he's beaten up, is a bit rougher and more controlling (with Charles' consent), he reckons because with Charles he can regain some of the power he loses when he doesn't emerge from a fight perfectly unscathed - and then Erik distracts him by pushing him against another wall and the thoughts stop. Instead Charles decides not to think, lets himself be a little manhandled, lets Erik mold his body as he sees fit and just goes with the flow. He never properly closed the door to the bedroom and Erik doesn't bother to do so either, pulling him inside and pulling him close, staggering towards the bed.
Charles isn't expecting them to make it, and they don't - instead, as his legs hit the bed and he sits down on it Erik slides down in front of him, looking up at him reverentially. He could never tire of that look, he thinks, could never tire of the way Erik worships him like something special, and in this alone he takes strength, in this alone he is able to control what happens next. He moves down off the bed onto Erik's lap, lands a little roughly and they both laugh, and then Erik leans back, takes his weight and lets him kiss him deeply, lets him control their motions and enjoy the way he affects Erik with his subtle movements. Eventually Erik growls "over" and he rolls onto his back, watches Erik reach over to wherever he keeps the nearest bottle of lube and then come back over to him, leaning down to kiss him as he slips one finger in.
It's not really healthy, to fuck on the floor - great way to hurt your back - but he doesn't mind, just lies back and accepts whatever Erik gives to him. Sometimes they try new things and sometimes they go back to tried and tested things, but apparently tonight is one of the simple nights: Erik wants him in the easiest way possible and Charles wants whatever Erik will give him. Erik whispers soft encouragement in his ear, more pep talk than dirty talk, and Charles responds with the movements of his body, clenching down on Erik's fingers as his own encircle Erik's dick. After a few rounds of this and Erik getting thoroughly distracted he uses his spare hands to push both of Charles' above his head, and he takes the hint and stays there, instead wrapping his legs around Erik's waist and pulling him close.
He's not exactly in the mood for patience and apparently neither is Erik, who takes the hint, lubes himself up and pushes himself into Charles, slow enough for him to get used to it, fast enough for it to be not even slightly teasing. Charles is open and willing, and he takes Erik easily, leaning back to allow for a better angle and letting Erik move him around until they're both comfortable. Erik stays in for a beat and then pulls out again, rocking backward and forward until they have a steady rhythm. It's simple and to the point and Charles loves it, appreciates the simpleness and directness, so like Erik that he feels his heart might burst with affection.
He tries to stifle it and instead all the guilt he's been repressing comes out of nowhere, and what starts as a moan turns into a sob halfway through. He muffles it against Erik's skin and he's ready for the next one, disguises it as best he can, and tries to distract himself with the feeling of Erik's skin on his, Erik’s dick, his soft kisses. But the thoughts are there now and he can't escape them, can't escape the fear and dread and awful awful guilt. This close, Erik is hard to fool, and he pulls back a little, holds one hand against Charles' face and mutters "What's wrong? Charles, what's wrong."
Charles is silent, trying to find words, then gives up and comes out with something trite and empty, "I remember something," he says, between moans half genuine and half disguise, "I always loved you best with blood all over your hands." It's a quote, he knows, though from what he could not say, but Erik appreciates it nonetheless and lets the obvious half-deception slide, instead rocking against him and holding him close. He knows how best to get Charles off, and as he feels his orgasm approach, slowly genuine pleasure takes over his mind. He throws himself into it, lets himself get lost in the fog, and as it overwhelms him he leaves his mind there, unwilling to return to conscious thought. Above him, Erik comes a few thrusts later, and overwhelms and embraces him, the way he so often does, covering his body with skin and kisses and bruise marks, unwilling to let him go. Charles lets himself be kept, lets himself be moved and adored, and pretends he laps it up. He tries to remain thoughtless, tries to stay in the fog of post-orgasmic bliss, but one thought appears unwarranted - the thought that after this it needs to end. It goes at soon as it comes, but it brings with it a feeling of regret that lies next to the guilt in his heart. He covers it up and lets Erik pretend to love him.
On the table above them, Charles' phone quietly dies of battery loss. In the room next door, Erik's is soon to follow suite. Yet it remains alive enough to receive one text. It's from Emma, and it reads, "I've made my mind up, brother mine. You should lead."
Neither of them hears it and neither of them cares.
It remains, Charles thinks later, their last good night.