Brandon’s sister is drunk, and she is fucking his boss on his bed. There are no words for this desecration; there is a reason why he keeps his life personal and isolated, even from his remaining family. Sissy has a way with him that makes him helpless and vulnerable and angry. It’s been this way since they were children, and Brandon has no reason to believe anything has changed.
He should run. He’s dressed for it. Bach is in his pocket, already playing. All he has to do now is plug his earphones in, go down the elevator and walk through the door. Easy. It should be. Instead Brandon is here, curled up like a child and listening to Sissy’s breathy gasps.
His mother used to gasp like that, Brandon thinks. Sissy has her singing voice.
Across the hall, a door opens, and Brandon huddles further into himself instinctively. He can feel the thumps on the wall, the carnal rhythm of fornication, and feels sickened by it. This is his sister, this is his boss. Despite this he feels the disgusting shreds of desire curling down his stomach, his body responding with no thought to his sanity. She should be sprawled out across the bed, maybe, or on her hands and knees and giggling into the bedspread. His boss like that position, has said as much on their multiple bar trips together. He’d play with her pussy and maybe mouth her off as he bit into one of her ass cheeks yeah you like that I thought you did tell me what you want and then he’d enter her as she sighed with desire—
“Brandon? Are you alright?”
His eyes flick up to the brunet leaning out of his doorway, his youngish face open and concerned. Brandon mumbles a half-hearted “’m fine,” but flinches at a particularly loud thump and a strangled moan from the other side of his door.
“Ah,” His neighbor says, looking confused about everything except for Brandon’s lost expression. “Would you like a cup of tea? Coffee?”
Brandon should run. “Coffee sounds good,” he says instead, and he’s not sure why.
Charles Xavier’s apartment is cluttered in strangely organized way. The coffee table is filled with open books and all kinds of paper, and mugs with dry rings of tea. It’s small and lived-in, and when Brandon steps inside, a black cat is staring at him with a hatred that’s startling.
“How do you like your coffee, Brandon?” Charles asks him, already rifling through the cupboards. “I’m sorry if I don’t have much of a selection. I’m a tea person, myself.”
“Anything’s fine. I won’t stay long.”
“You can stay as long as you need, my friend.” Brandon won’t move from the spot where Charles has left him, not when a feline predator looks about ready to tear his jugular out.
“Oh, that’s Erik,” Charles says, petting the cat under the chin. It does not break its gaze on Brandon, but it does stop snarling. “Be nice, Erik,” the man admonishes.
Brandon wants to curl up again, curl up and never wake up if this is what his life is reduced to: finding sanctuary in his crazy cat-talking neighbor’s home while his sister fucks his boss in his bed.
“Here,” Charles sets a mug of instant coffee in front of him. It’s better than the stuff he consumes at work, but only marginally. Perhaps it is because of the way Charles puts a warm hand on his shoulder, a clap of solidarity. “I do mean it, you know. You can stay for as long as you need.” Brandon sighs wearily.
“I don’t want to go back.”
“Kip on the couch, if you like. I don’t mind.”
“I—” Brandon begins to protest, then thinks better of it. “Thank you.” He says, because there is nothing else he can say.
“You’re welcome,” Charles says simply, like he doesn’t think anything at all about letting his strange neighbors sleep over. Brandon doesn’t know how to tell Charles that he has picked him up at the lowest point in his life, that this also feels like the best time to be picked up and lent a hand. That Brandon doesn’t often say ‘thank you’ and mean it.
They talk. It’s surreal. Brandon’s life outside of his work consists of hook-ups, lonely walks at the train and his extensive porn collection, the occasional bar hop or two. Charles has cell cultures and girls who fall for his awful pick up lines. They’re both single, and they both have younger sisters they love to hate and hate to love. Brandon finds it easy to talk to Charles, who is warm and inviting, even if he does have an evil-looking cat. He ends up telling Charles his life story, but leaves the sex addiction part out. Charles does likewise and recalls his sad life in Westchester, a large house and not a sliver of parental love.
“Considering things, I think I turned out all right, if a bit socially inept.”
“We can be socially inept together.” Brandon tips his teacup of scotch for a toast, and wonders when they traded tea for alcohol.
“Chin chin.” Charles agrees, and the burn feels good down Brandon’s throat.
Sissy doesn’t even bother to clean up the bed sheets when he comes home the next day. In fact, she isn’t even here at all. Brandon does the laundry and changes for work, his stomach happy and full from the breakfast Charles cooked for the both of them. The woman at the train smiles at him and crosses her legs. He gazes back, his pupils stuck to the smoothness of her legs under her stockings, imagines her bent over the pole and begging for him.
He goes home that day with a paper bag of pastries from the café across where he works. He leaves it on Charles’ doorstep when he finds out that he isn’t home, probably working late at the university where he teaches. He’d rather give it to Charles himself but chances are that Sissy would find the pastries and eat them if he kept them in the pantry, and he’s already angry enough at her to begin with.
Charles knocks on Brandon’s door later, hands in his pockets, wearing a red scarf that sits well with his skin tone. “Er, hello, Brandon. How are you feeling?”
“Brandon! Who’s at the door!” Before Brandon can stop her, Sissy’s there, all dressed up and ready to go for her next gig. She beams at Charles, finding him attractive, if the way her eyes roam over his face is any indication. “Hi.”
“How do you do.” Charles smiles, an English gentleman through and through. “I’m Charles. You must be Brandon’s sister.”
“Sissy,” She offers, giddy with the sound of his accent. “Charmed.” He shouldn’t feel this for the only blood relative he has left in the world, but Brandon can barely contain the rage that simmers at her sultry voice. Not for the first time, he is ashamed of her, at her lack of dignity and self-control.
“Would you like to come in for a cup of tea?” Charles asks when Sissy’s gone and they’re left standing on the drafty hallway. Brandon had plans tonight involving his laptop and a subscription to big asses and bigger tits, but Charles never did finish explaining the golf cart incident, so he acquiesces.
Sissy doesn’t leave after a week. Brandon begins to slip back into the old habit of cleaning up after his sister, even if she eats his food and takes his money and gives nothing back. He’s angry, but knows better than to confront her for it; she’ll simply run away or say sorry like she means it but doesn’t really. When Brandon thinks he’s angry enough to hurt her, he’ll stalk out the door and knock on Charles’.
Charles never tells him to go away or anything like that. If anything, they’ve become friends and confidants, trading secrets over scotch and ice. Brandon likes Charles’ sense of humor and the passionate way he regards his studies and his students. It makes him want to be better at what he’s doing now other than just drifting by. Evenings pass by in each other’s company, sometimes at home, sometimes out at bars. Brandon sees Charles’ pick-up lines in action and laughs at him for it. They go home together with their arms around each other’s shoulders, singing Broadway tunes off-key.
Erik still hisses at Brandon whenever he visits, but the cat has mellowed out since Charles adopted a kitten named Wesley. Wesley is small and frail and kinda pathetic, but he worships the ground Erik walks on and distracts the older cat from its vengeance against him.
Brandon points this out one time. Charles just laughs. “Erik’s not out to get you, my friend. Look at how sweet he is to Wesley; he wouldn’t hurt a fly.” Except that a floor lamp almost kills Brandon and somehow he knows it’s that damn cat’s fault. Charles is painfully naïve and more than a little biased towards his little monsters, but Brandon can’t say he doesn’t like it when Charles fusses over his (admittedly minor) injuries.
He still pulls women from time to time, and he fantasizes about them, lifting their skirts up, pulling their panties down, on the bed, on the wall, against the window, their moans loud over the sound of skin slapping on skin faster harder faster oh oh oh! but given the choice over Charles’ company and a night at home with his laptop, it’s somehow less and less difficult to shut it down and let Charles in.
One day, Brandon gathers enough liquid courage to tell Charles about his addiction. Charles surprisingly understands.
“We all have our demons, my friend,” Charles says, and contemplates his scotch. Brandon wonders what those demons are and reaches out to clasp a hand on Charles’ knee. Charles stares at the hand and traces a finger over Brandon’s knuckles, lifting Brandon’s hand higher up his thigh.
Sissy walks in on Brandon jerking off in the bathroom like some schoolboy, thinking of Charles on his knees, his cherry red lips wrapped around his cock as he moans beautifully, clenched all around him. Charles with his backed arched, his ass cheeks pink with handprints and his hips purpled with bruises, the line of his spine glistening with sweat as Brandon drives into him again and again. Charles, his cheeks flushed like a woman’s, his nipples kiss-bitten and his cock standing up to perfection, watching Brandon impale him with rough long strokes.
Brandon yells at her while she laughs at him. In his mind, Charles is waiting for him in bed, his hand trailing down his torso, but Brandon can’t muster up the energy to finish what he started.
His sister approaches him sometime after like Wesley would Erik: a plaintive cry, nuzzles at his fur, a wish to be cuddled. Brandon indulges her because, try as he might, it works. Brandon wishes he hadn’t. Sissy is the same brat she’s always been, and he’s so disgusted he can’t be in the same room as her.
If Brandon hadn’t met Charles, he would have gone to a bar and tried to pick up someone, anyone, who was willing. If Brandon hadn’t met Charles, he would have called one of his old girlfriends and spent the night in their bed. If Brandon hadn’t met Charles, he wouldn’t have knocked on the door and gazed at the man with all the hunger in the world, wouldn’t be pressing their bodies together and kissing him desperately. The things Brandon would have done, if he hadn’t met Charles.
But Charles is here, Charles was there when Brandon needed him, and he is here now. He’s kissing back with a mirrored hunger, and it's sinful and decadent when he slows the pace of their mouths until Brandon whimpers and claws at their clothes, needy and broken.
“I’ve wanted you since I saw you in the hall.” Charles confesses breathlessly, and Brandon takes it to mean a month ago, when Sissy had sex with his boss. “No, I mean since I moved in, two years ago.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I don’t know. I’m not someone you’d want to be with, Brandon.”
“What?” Brandon draws back for air, his hands on Charles’ waist.
“I’m damaged. Broken.” Charles hands are warm against the back of Brandon’s neck. “Dangerous.”
“Fucking—I should be telling you that.”
“You couldn’t hurt me if I didn’t want you to.” Charles says.
“How do you know that?” Brandon pants at the feel of Charles unzipping his pants. “What do you know about me?”
“Many things.” Charles reaches up and pushes his fingers against Brandon’s temple. “Let me in, Brandon. Let me show you.”
Charles is in his mind, wrapping around him like a steady pulse of sunlight. Brandon stumbles blindly and manages to lead them to the bed, their mouths and their limbs connected fervently. “What are you doing to me?” Brandon cries out when a tendril of Charles’ thoughts slide over the pleasure center of his mind, sending sparks through his skin
“Oh, darling. I’m going to fix you.” Charles promises, and pushes Brandon down so he can trail his mouth over his skin and swallow him down.
Whatever it is Brandon thinks he’s been looking for, he’s found it in Charles’ bed. The contentment in him is so strong it practically buzzes in his mind. Touching Charles is a happiness unto itself, feeling him stretched out beside him, skin to skin. It fills him in a way that cocaine and endless, if empty sex never did.
Intimacy, he realizes. This is how Charles is different.
“Mm…” Charles smiles in half-sleep as if he can hear that thought. “You won’t need your porn anymore.”
Brandon doesn’t know what compels him to speak. “Okay. I won’t need it anymore.”
"You won’t need to pick up girls either.”
“You’ll patch things up with your sister.”
“And if you need anything, you’ll come talk to me.”
“Yes, Charles.” Brandon promises and slots his mouth into the juncture of Charles’ shoulder and neck. “Anything you say.”
“I wanted to kill myself.” Sissy tells him when he finds her in the bathroom in the morning, teary-eyed and afraid. “I was about to. I had the knife. But I couldn’t. I passed out.” He grabs her into the most brotherly hug he has given her since their mother died, murdered by her pimp boyfriend. “I’m sorry. It’s okay, Sissy. I’m sorry.”
The woman on the train is wearing red lipstick today. It makes her smile all the more inviting, teeth gleaming like a row of baby pearls. She stands, the next step to the dance, and the rings on her finger gleam, bright against the dullness of the train. If it were any other day, Brandon would stand with her, his hand holding the pole just below hers, just a soft brush of skin. A promise.
But it is not a promise he can keep, not now, when he has someone waiting for him. Someone waiting three doors down the hall, nursing a cup of tea in pale hands, poring over grades. Waiting with a warmer smile and redder lips to welcome him home.
Brandon watches the woman watch him over her shoulder when she leaves, and does not feel bereft at her absence at all.
Later that day, he collects all of his porn into big black bags and dumps them at the alley behind his apartment. Then Brandon cleans his hands and lets himself in with the key Charles gave him, mind filled with inane, happy thoughts.